Strategy is necessary to do well in Pirate101’s combat system. While you may be able to breeze through most fights, some basic strategy can make fights go by faster and improve survivability for you and your crew. There are two important aspects of combat that remain constant despite your pirate’s class and companions, and those are positioning (how you and your companions are placed and move throughout the board), and target prioritization (what enemies you should take out first and how to take them down effectively).
Positioning is an integral part of Pirate101’s combat, but it’s very rarely talked about. By positioning your pirate and crew effectively, you can help improve the amount of damage you dish out while keeping you and your allies from dying as easily. How you position your pirate and companions largely depends on your pirate’s class, and if you’re using a mix of ranged and melee companions, or purely ranged/melee.
Mixed Setup (Melee+Ranged companions)
A mixed setup is the most balanced and works well for a majority of Pirate101’s battles. With a mix of ranged/melee companions, you’ll usually want everyone that’s ranged to stay behind your melee units. Most ranged pirates/companions will have weaker physical defense, and by keeping them behind your melee units you reduce the chances that your squishy pirate/companion will receive the blunt of a sword to the face. Your ranged units will still be able to attack since they don’t have to be next to an enemy to damage them, and your melee units will be able to make great use of their powers and epics.
For musketeer/witchdoctor pirates, I strongly suggest to stay back and use your powers as enemies approach you and your companions. Buccaneer pirates can charge in and help protect your ranged companions and act as a tank. Privateer pirates have the defense to survive most melee enemies attacks, but in most cases it’s better to stay behind the line and buff/shield/heal your companions and other allies. Swashbuckler pirates are an exception, because with their high damage and ability to hide, they can get by most enemies easily and go for the most dangerous target, and their dodge allows them to survive against melee units pretty well, so they can do whatever is best suited for the situation.
You don’t have to keep your units bunched up like the picture above, however. You can keep the same basic idea while spreading your units out a bit, and use companions with movement based epics like Hold the Line/Cheap Shot/Repel Boarders etc. to help control the enemy’s movement. This will help mitigate damage if the enemy has a long range aoe power, but it still keeps your squishy units fairly protected.
All Ranged Companions
All ranged companions can work well in battles with lots of melee enemies who spawn on the opposite side of a spacious battleboard. This is because you can you attack them and kill them pretty efficiently before they get too close. If you’re going with all ranged units, you’ll probably want to avoid moving unless necessary, and instead use buffs until the enemies get into range.
Musketeer Pirates can use bombs and traps to deal a good amount of damage before the enemies get close during the first few rounds. witchdoctors can buff, use infinite range powers on dangerous targets, or aoe if enemies are within range. Privateers can buff and shield before enemies get close as well. Swashbucklers and Buccaneers can kind of mix these tips along with the tips from the previous section. Overall though, this setup probably wouldn’t work as well for Swashbucklers/Buccaneers as it would for the other classes.
All Melee Companions
Having all melee units allows a good amount of flexibility, especially if your pirate is a buccaneer or swashbuckler. After buffing, you may decide to separate everyone a bit (as long as they’ll still be able to kill effectively). If you spread them out too far, you may have problems killing enemies and the damage may start racking up. So instead, I suggest splitting them up into groups of 2 in most cases. With epic chains and some criticals, you may be able to finish off 2+ enemies a round making for quick and efficient battles. The biggest thing to worry about is enemy ranged units, as they’ll often deal a good amount of damage to you and your units before you can reach them. In these cases, I’d suggest staying out of their range, and forcing them to move closer. This will often move them close enough to you where your units can engage them, and devastate their health.
If your pirate is witchdoctor/musketter, you may want to keep your companions from getting too far just in case an enemy gets by them and gets close to your pirate. If you’re a privateer, you could go either way, assuming you have some good physical attacks from your gear. All melee companions definitely doesn’t work as well for the ranged classes, though, considering how bad things can get if enemies get past your companions.
In general, each of these positioning methods can work well throughout the game, but there are some fights where it might be a good idea to switch your normal strategy depending on the fight. Being flexible is always a good idea with Pirate101’s combat.
It’s important to be able to evaluate the enemies on the battlefield and to quickly gauge who you need to take out first. In many fights, it’s a good idea to just go for the enemies that can most easily be killed. This is because lots of enemies means a lot of damage you can take, and lowering their number helps increase your survivability considerably. But what enemies are the easiest to take out? This is where the stat system really plays a part.
Stats and Why They’re Important in Targeting
Strength/Will/Agility act as a both an offensive stat. Buccaneers have lots of strength and low will, witchdcotors have lots of will and low strength, musketeers/swashbucklers have lots of agility and low strength, and privateers usually have lots of will or strength depending on gear but low agaility. If a unit attacks an enemy and they both have high will for example, neither one will do very well against the other. There won’t be as many critical hits, certain epics won’t trigger as often, and in general attacks will do less. But if that same companion attacks an enemy with low will, they’ll crit more often, some epics may trigger more often, and they’ll deal more damage. So in general, you’ll want to try and give your companions an advantage where they’ll attack units they’re more effective against, and where they’ll get attacked by enemies with the same emphasized stat if they do get targeted. This is largely why positioning is important.
Another layer to this is accuracy/dodge and armor/resist. Musketeers have the highest accuracy, and swashbucklers have the highest dodge. This means it’ll be hard for anyone to dodge a musketeeer’s attacks, and it also targeting a swashbuckler without a power (since powers can’t miss) can often result in them dodging unless you have high accuracy.
Epics are another thing to consider when trying to prioritize targets. You can hover your mouse over enemy epics to see what they have, and how they’d react if you or your companions attacked them. For example, if an enemy has movement based epics like overwatch, cheap shot, etc. you need to be careful engaging or disengaging an enemy. There are also reaction based epics like first strike/true grit, that’ll grant a free attack before or after they’re attacked. These epics are divided between melee/musketeer/witchdoctor, however, and they’ll only trigger against attackers of the same type. So if you see an enemy melee unit with tons of nasty reactionary epics, it may be a good idea to attack them with a musketeer or witchdoctor to avoid triggering the epics.
Epics can also work well in your favor. Any epics that can cause problems for you can also cause problems for enemies, and in PvE, they typically aren’t smart enough to avoid triggering epics. This can work especially well with epics like Riposte on a swashbuckler companion, since you get a free attack if the enemy misses, and they’ll miss fairly frequently especially if you put a dodge buff up. So overall, try to avoid attacking enemies when it’ll trigger lots of epics, and try to engage enemies where your epics will work well against them.
Aside from stats and epics, you also have to take the distance of an enemy into account. It isn’t very easy to attack an enemy on the opposite side of a big board (without an infinite/long range power), and melee units would have to run through all the other enemies to get to them. So in most cases, it’s most efficient to attack the enemies closest to you, while trying to work the stat system in your favor. However, there are some fights with enemies that are very dangerous who don’t start off close to you. It’s usually a good idea to try and take out the dangerous target quickly, but if you you rush in and get surrounded by other enemies it’s often game over. In these scenarios, you have to balance the dangerous target vs. the number of weaker enemies. You may have to kill some of the weaker enemies to remove some of the damage you’re taking each round while you’re approaching the big threat (or letting them approach you).
Pirate101’s combat is one of the strongest aspects of the game, and putting some thought into it can make the experience much more rewarding. You’ll get through battles more efficiently if you think about positioning and prioritizing targets, and most importantly, help keep your companions alive, because Miracle Mitch charges a pretty penny to get them in good shape again!