With a few weeks of play under my over-sized swashbuckler’s belt, I finally have the breadth of experience to attempt to tackle my favorite part of ArcheAge in written form: boats ‘n’ stuff. The game’s seafaring experience is once of its most unique offerings, and on the whole offers a thrilling game-play avenue of rewards tempered by risk. Moreover, the lawless nature of the game’s ocean encourages an organic system of grouping and diplomacy, with friend and foe changing dynamically with every outing. While the white-knuckled adventures have been the most fun, let’s start this post with a simpler story – getting a boat in the first place.
Red Bull Gives me Sails
Even before purchasing the game, I had high hopes for its naval offerings, so it came as no surprise that one of my first big in-game goals was to build myself a clipper. Purchasing the design currently costs players an easily manageable 30 Nui’s Tears, a currency acquired through quests, dailies, and discovering the game’s hidden (or not so hidden) exploration objectives. Players should expect to have enough for a clipper by level 30 without going out of their way at all, but it could be done much earlier by seeking out the exploration objectives. Since then, I have also constructed a galleon and a trade-ship, with the respective pattern costs of 100 Nui’s Tears and 50 Gilda Stars – a currency earned through intercontinental trade routes and certain dailies.
Note: Pricing information is soon to be outdated. Nui’s Tears will be removed from the game and the prices either switched to gold or Gilda stars. Source.
Acquiring a ship design allows you place a drydock for its construction at the cost of lumber, iron, and gold. From that point, you have a few days to transport materials in trade-pack form to the dock to finish building the ship. Trade-packs are burdensome, slowing your movement speed to a crawl, and on top of that are dropped on death, so it’s best to construct ships in an area that you know is both safe and near a crafting station. Each trade-pack is composed of 100 refined materials. The clipper is the easiest ship to build, costing simply ten lumber and ten iron ingots to place the drydock, and one trade pack each of lumber, iron ingots, and fabric. The galleon is significantly more costly, and in most cases will likely be achieved as a guild effort. It costs 100 lumber to place the drydock, and five trade packs of each of the materials. The trade-ship’s cost is roughly in the middle.
As materials are added to the drydock, the ship is slowly built up over several stages, culminating in a fantastically rewarding splash as the completed vessel disembarks. Below is a slideshow of the stages of my galleon’s construction.
Hold Your Colour
With my ship constructed, the first thing I wanted to do was make it my own, so I set off to hoist the colors and decorate my sails. Importing a crest requires Crest Brainstorm, an item which is currently unobtainable in-game. At the time, I was able to procure one through customer service (which was timely and courteous), but they are now being given freely to every character created on the alpha server. It has been widely speculated that these will be a cash-shop item, and while that isn’t confirmed, it would certainly be a good way to minimize the amount of policing GMs will do have to do of stuff like this, as it would create a tangible monetary penalty for abusing the system and having your crest removed.
Importing a crest requires a 256×256 .png file, the file path for which can be found by hovering over the slot where it would show if you had one. You are able to select from a variety of background colors and patterns, which will show when applied to capes and galleons. Clippers and trade-ships do not apply the background to the sail color, so unfortunately, a separate design may be required to get the best results.
Successfully creating your crest rewards you with Crest Ink, an unlimited use item that upon activation consumes a Memory Ink (crafting reagent purchased from general merchants for 10 silver) to create a Crest Stamp. These crest stamps are used to apply your crest to whatever you’d like, be it a ship’s sails or your own cloak. Best of all, crest stamps can be mailed and traded with anyone you wish, so if your guild plans to use the same crest, only one person needs to create it.
I’m on a Boat
With construction complete and the most obvious possible joke out of the way, I was finally ready to hit the high-seas on a quest to seek out fame and fortune. In the previous installment of The Errant Logbook, I wrote briefly of a harrowing trade-run to the enemy continent, a quest which is required to obtain the large farm design. With the dangerous journey behind me, what would I do next? Well the same thing of course, only this time, for money!
A Tale on the Seas
The trade quests are a big deal. Pretty much everyone is going to do them; that’s the reason they’re camped constantly in the first place. I’ve done the run at least a dozen times by now, sometimes gratis for guild-mates, and sometimes for strangers to get a bit of coin on the side. The most recent of these runs was probably the most fun I’ve had in ArcheAge so far, and that’s a high bar to achieve.
The guild and I were sitting in the Feuille Sound near the specialty workbench where the pack is created. We had just finished the run ourselves, so we had a good twenty people sitting in a raid already. We saw someone asking to hire a ride in /shout, and seeing how we had nothing else planned, decided to oblige. After negotiating a half now/half later payment strategy and a price, we picked up our passengers on the shore and got ready to depart.
There’s always a brief speech before we leave where we cover the basic dos and don’ts of smuggling trade-packs, what to expect at the landing site, and how exactly to complete the quest. Do turn on bloodlust mode so you can shoot same-faction attempted boarders off their gliders without them having to aggress first. Don’t move around the boat needlessly to minimize the risk of collision knocking someone off. That sort of thing.
We set out for the Austera, our passengers silently questioning if we’re going to kill them and take their stuff. We don’t. All goes well on the open seas. This is as expected; most pirates camp around drop-off points rather than scouring the open seas. Sure enough, a clipper on an intercept course is spotted as we approach the port. Its captain rammed us dead on, knocking us off our course and slowing us down. As his crew begins to board, out leveled and doomed by an asinine flagging system (ArcheAge‘s single greatest flaw, but one Trion is attempting to get changed), our merry band of traders were killed one by one while our higher level characters were powerless to help. Though we had done this many times before, this was the first time we had made the run without completing the quest. In the face of this crushing defeat, we did the sensible thing – we grouped back up, bought our passengers new trade-packs, and did it all over again.
Now fully aware of how heavily camped the docks were, we set out with a new plan. A third of our force remained behind, skirmishing on the sea where the flagging system is irrelevant and periodically scouting the turn-in point to inform of us of its state. We set out with two clippers, the first a distraction with players that didn’t need the quest, and the second carrying our passengers. As luck would have it, a large group of traders boarded the distraction boat by coincidence without consulting us at all, making it a far more appealing target. I suppose we could have told them about the plan, but if you get on a strange boat with trade-packs, you’re already extremely lucky to not be murdered for your pack.
We set out once again, hugging the coast-line until we arrived in a peaceful zone. After being advised that the dock was teaming with members of a hostile guild loading a trade-ship, we held position for about ten minutes until we got word that they had left; once they did, we headed back in to the jaws of our previous defeat.
I kept my boat about 50 to 100 yards behind the distraction crew, attempting to keep any unwanted attention on them. Our ground crew was locked in combat since long before our arrival, and we passed some of them in the sea as we began to approach the docks. Two clippers camping the dock were unlucky enough to be facing away from us, so we sailed right by as they slowly attempted to set an intercept course; they were far too slow. More of our ground crew were already fighting on the docks, and as we made our final approach, they peeled the already flagged enemies with CC and imprisons. Every single one of us made it to the trader, and we ended the night with a great success.
It’s the risk that makes trading so appealing to me, and after a tangible reminder of it, a total success feels really good. It’s the balance of risk and reward that makes trading fun, and that night we found both.
You Must Gather Your Party Before Venturing Forth
“Must” is a bit of a strong word, but at the very least, attempting to trade alone is extremely inadvisable, and it’s largely in part due to that very same risk. Soloing in ArcheAge is very possible, but it’s simply not an enjoyable way to play the game. You can certainly load up a trade ship with the maximum 20 packs and trade it on your own, but if you leave the ship unattended (which you must when unloading it), anyone will be able to grab the wheel and sail off with your goods. You could pilot a clipper with only one pack on your back, but you’d make a huge target of yourself. You could take an overland route, but the largest profits come only from the PvP areas where again, you’ll be a huge target. Trading can be done solo, but game mechanics strongly encourage that you not do so.
Building a ship is the same way. The amount of resources required and the trouble of transporting them can be quite the burden when completed solo, but if you get your guild to help, it’s not hard at all. Trade ships aren’t meant to be operated alone, so it makes sense that you probably wouldn’t want to build one that way either. Imagine that, an MMO where players are meant to work together to accomplish things.
But Wait, There’s More
While a great part of it, trading and related activities like paid-transportation and its counterpart, piracy, are hardly the limits of activities on the sea. We’ve had epic sea-battles with cannons raging as the harpoon clippers tackle our prey – PvP fueled entirely by enmity and not at all motivated by trade-packs. You can get submarines equipped with torpedoes to defend yourself from sea creatures (including a Kraken raid boss – though a galleon would be more advisable) or other players.
Beyond the combat, there are even more activities I haven’t began to touch. You can salvage sunken treasure spawns that are generated under the sea, hunt for lost trade-packs, or go deep sea fishing to catch large fish that can be carried and turned in for gold. You can build a stilted house by the shore, or place a farm on the ocean floor to cultivate special underwater goods like corals.
Much like the game’s land based regions, there is an absolute ton to do on ArcheAge‘s expansive waters, and even though I’ve only scratched the surface (sorry), I already love it.
I’m really excited by what I’ve seen in ArcheAge so far, and I have little doubt that I’ll be playing it for a long while to come. I’d like to explore that in a “why I play” style post some time in the near future. That said, no game is perfect, and it would be unfair to my readers if I didn’t address the game’s shortcomings shortly after. Stay tuned for both of those upcoming articles here on The Errant Penman.
#MMO #ArcheAge #Boats