The UO Outlands community gets so many questions around which pirate templates are best, figured I would write up a quick post to help guide you on these decisions!
There are so many viable templates, that almost anything goes here. As long as you build a decent character, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. It also depends on what you want to do – do you want to fish up MIBs? well you need fishing. Do you want to skin corpses? Well that’s forensic evaluation. You pretty much build your template to match your playstyle. That being said, there are some builds which fare better out here – believe me, I’ve tried them all.
Running multiple accounts really helps offset the skills you need to pack into a single character for a ship. In fact, I think almost everyone runs multiple accounts out here to cover all the possible skills you might need. It also means there is no “best” template for a single character, since you can spread those skills across 2 or even 3 of them! For this post, I am going to assume you are running a single character but I will touch on certain skills which might be useful for a second account.
Your crew is top priority in terms of damage and tanking. They have upwards of 600-800 hit points to your 100? Yeh, they are much tankier than you will ever be. So boosting your crew’s damage and keeping them healed is top priority on the oceans.
You are not your primary damage on the oceans. Your ship cannons are ~ followed by your crew, then you. This makes high damage builds moot – no matter how much damage you build into your template, you won’t do near as much as your cannons and crew. A lot of people don’t understand this!
Archery is nerfed between ships against NPCs. It’s not horrible but its not great. If you are running an AOE aspect on your archer, hoping for those AOE procs, then yes, this would be the only reason to run an archer build. Archers do have a nice hinder effect, which will stop enemy crew from attacking you, for a short while. Arrows against enemy crew are nerfed pretty badly ~ I think 6 dmg is pretty typical (yes 6).
(10/3/2019) – If you want to run a ranged attacker, use Fishing and Harpoons. They no longer use charges and you can aspect them. Much better damage vs enemy crew and no ammunition makes these a clearly superior choice!
Spells are nerfed somewhat between ships for NPCs, but not near as bad as archery. You won’t see the high damage numbers you would see on land for a single spell, but it’s still better than physical damage (archery).
Only a few AOE spells work on ships – so don’t plan on burning enemy crews down in fields of fire. Chain lightning works, however, if you want to throw that and hope for aspect procs.
Discordance builds are super nice to bring along on a second account – they make a huge difference taking on those tanky captains. You can’t possibly fit all of this on a single character, but for a first mate? Sure. My first mate runs Music/Discord and I would never run anything else!
Got a bunch of humanoid slayers laying around?! Yah, bring those out on the ships – they work great! Sh… Don’t tell folks why you’re buying them and you might get em really cheap.
Things that do not work on ships
Wanted to add some quick notes if you are brainstorming cool builds and don’t know that some mechanics are disabled on ships:
- Spell Fields
- Tinker Traps
Boarding Fast (or not?)
If you are planning your ship upgrades around fast boards, meaning you spend less time exchanging ranged fire, then success here leans more towards tank builds who can jump on enemy decks, taunt, and get to work. If you simply don’t have the upgrades yet for this – then you will spend more time at range, and a parry tank isn’t going to be a huge help here.
Try to keep your ship upgrades in mind when planning your template. I’d hate for you to build a parry/dexxer who has to stand around for 5 minutes doing nothing but waiting for boarding opportunities. This assumes you don’t have the good upgrades yet to board fast.
Is Parry the Best?
No. It helps a lot but it is not OP. Why? To answer this, you have to understand how aggro works on ships. It’s a strange mechanic but not understanding it might lead some some confusion when you engage your enemies.
Enemy crew aggro is controlled by two mechanics:
- Enemy crew will only move as far as they need to attack.
- Enemy crew will always prioritize their nearest target.
- (This is important). If taunted, they will not move.
This is why, when you board an enemy ship, use the shield taunt ability, the enemy crew does not rush to dog pile you. They stay put!! Your taunt only works against enemy crew if they are within melee range of you.
This is also why Parry is near-useless until you can board. Standing ship to ship crew to crew, you will taunt some of the enemy crew onto you, but your crew will also be taking damage right next to you. It offset some damage… but not ALL of it.
What you can do with Parry though, is solo dive entire enemy crew! wow! Just make sure you have a good set of Plate on and a backup caster to heal you from other ship. This is pretty funny to do – and you have to be careful – but it does work. Your crew stays on your ship doing ranged damage while you soak up everything.
Ok.. now that you understand all that, let’s get into the templates! I’ve organized these into several popular types, and added pros and cons for each. Everyone’s got their own ideas about this stuff, and I am trying to make it generic as possible. At most, these are food for thought – a basic set you can tweak.
Required: Macing, Parry, Tactics, Healing, Begging, Arms Lore
Optional: Fishing, Tracking
The warrior pirate is a more advanced build where you can depend on good ship upgrades to guarantee a fast boarding attempt. Begging gets your crew buffed, Parry blocks damage, Healing keeps your crew topped off on health, Macing helps smash armor (for you and your crew).
This build has drawbacks. For one, you can’t recall. Put the ship rune in a blessed runebook with charges or use an alt to get to and from your ship. The second drawback is, without anatomy you won’t be rezzing. Also, I pack my bag with explosion potions to throw so I am at least doing some ranged damage before boarding.
Warrior pirates are hard to run solo – they really require a second account to fill in critical functions for your ship. For example, I would move Tracking to another account, and fill that spot in with Anatomy for rezzing/healing/damage. Or, do what I do and take alchemy so those potions really pack a punch.
Also, despite having a shield, it’s easy to die. Board an orc reaver ship, use taunt and see what happens – wow, ouch! If you try to fight 4 or 5 at the same time, you aren’t going to live very long. When I do this, I have my mouse hovering over the Greater Heal on my first mate.
10/2019 – With the harpoon change, adding Fishing is not a bad idea for this template. You already have tactics – and it gives you some ranged damage. Aspect that harpoon as well for some nice procs!
Required: Magery, Meditation, Spirit Speak, Evaluating Intelligence, Tracking
Optional: Fishing+Tactics, Healing+Begging
I really like Summoner pirates. They’ve got pretty much everything you need. Several people on this shard run them exclusively and do quite well. Good spell books and strong Summoner builds can really dish out the damage on the oceans. Also, there are lots of dead bodies to recharge those Spirit Stones! This build is really about ranged damage – killing the crew long before you have to board – or at least, killing everything except the captain. For these builds I also recommend Healing, healing up your crew with bandages instead of spells.
This build also has drawbacks. For one, you can’t med while firing cannons, which you will be doing a lot of – so mana can certainly be a problem. Second, pets won’t be protecting your crew at all – if they get aggro, great, Most of the time they do not. Pets also go down pretty quick under enemy cannon fire. Taking over ships also takes a long time. If you are using pets, get ready to summon them several times for a single ship!
If you plan on fishing at all, then go with Fishing+Tactics. You can throw harpoons while you fire cannons and med. Your downtime will be pretty bad due to no bandages for your crew – but you can manage this by swerving around a lot and not taking direct fire.
The other skillset I recommend finishing off this template is Healing+Begging. It’s definitely more crew oriented – and you will be using them as meat shields while you stand back and nuke. Use your Healing to get them back up as fast. Begging is going to give them a nice damage boost.
Required: Archery, Tactics, Healing, Begging, Tracking, Arms Lore
Optional: 60 Magery/40 Med, Fishing, Anatomy, Alchemy
Archer have poor ranged damage (between ships) but offer limited damage mitigation (hinder). Thankfully, ship holds often contain arrows and bolts, offsetting the need to go back to town frequently to reload ammunition. High aspect is pretty nice on an archer pirate, as AOE procs work very well in tight ship quarters.
Like the Parry Pirate, you really need to get on board the enemy ship fast – look for upgrades which will facilitate this. Once on board, your damage swings back to normal and you can start taking down the enemy crew. Your crew will be tanking for you – make sure to keep them healed.
I added ‘Arms Lore’ as a mandatory skill – you want to make sure you *disarm* your targets as much as possible, as this will boost your crew’s damage. If you can’t take Anatomy, make sure to get Water Aspect as this will help heal your crew faster.
If you want a ranged pirate, I recommend the Summoner Pirate over the Archer Pirate, since the damage isn’t nerfed as much and they bring much more utility. But, if you like bows – well … its viable.
Required: Animal Taming, Animal Lore, Veterinary, Magery, Meditation, Tracking
Optional: Begging, Fishing
I like Tamer pirates as well, but you really need to be careful with your pets. Melee oriented pets will always walk close to the enemy ship putting themselves into cannon damage. This is why I don’t prefer pets such as dragons. Caster pets (like imps and such) are going to go down pretty fast if cannons get on them. I recommend Flame Purgers and Phoenix – these will stay back and cast nonstop.
Due to the number of required skills to even run this template, you won’t see a solo tamer pirate. Tamer pirates are definitely going to have an alt – offloading certain skills which are “ship only” such as Tracking/Fishing/Begging. That way, they don’t gimp their tamers on land.
As a tamer pirate, you really need to keep your ship moving until it’s time to board, just sitting next to an enemy ship is going to get your pets killed quick, and probably you too – from having to stand next to them for healing.
If you have good ship upgrades (for boarding), can move around a lot, and strong tank pets, then yes, you will have a good time. Pets are also buggy on ships – they don’t always obey commands to attack and seem to enjoy standing still doing nothing while being fired on. So just be aware – using pets may be a challenge for you.
Pets used to be buggy on ships – and I hadn’t tested them since launch. However, I just tested them again – and they actually seem to be OK. So glad they fixed that! Pets will finally obey your guard and attack commands. At launch, they had to be put in ‘patrol’ mode for them to attack enemy ships (but that’s been fixed!).
Required: Fishing, Tactics, Tracking, Begging, Healing, Anatomy
Optional: 60 Magery/40 Med, Alchemy, Forensics.
Fisher pirates rely on their hard hitting harpoons to do most of the damage. Tactics helps harpoons, if you didn’t know that. Healing and Anatomy keep crews healed up while Tracking and Anatomy (and probably Forensics) really make sure those harpoons hit *hard*.
Fishing is hideously long to level. Don’t expect to commit to this template unless you can dedicate 3-4 weeks of answering captchas. This is especially true if you want to hit 120 Fishing. While this might look good on paper, only a few have the resolve to finish it.
If you are solo, not sure you want to commit 100% to this ship thing but don’t want to be limited by early bad choices, run:
Fishing, Magery, Meditation, Spirit Speak, Tactics, Tracking, Begging
This build has it all, harpoons for ranged damage, fishing for nets and MIBs, summons for tanks, magery for recalls, tracking to locate other boats, begging to buff your crew. Lack of healing means you really need to watch your crew’s health and with this build, there will be some downtime. Focus on upgrades which decrease crew recovery time.
With this build, crew recovery is a problem, as you have no Healing. For play time, I recommend kill 1 ship, send crew below decks, go find a fishing spot while they recover, bring them back up – go find another ship. Having summons will also help you take on the MIB spawn, if you charge up those spirit stones killing ships before spawning the special monsters.
Later, if you decide to bring another character with you, then this build serves as an excellent bot fisher/nuker/beggar/tracker. Combine this with a parry dexxer and you will be able to do anything out there.
I don’t recommend fitting Evaluating Intelligence in – you won’t have enough mana for pets, crew heals and nuking. For faster crew recovery time, drop Tracking for Healing, and use spyglasses to find ships.
It all works
There are so many templates you can run out here it’s silly. Everyone has their own ideas on what to bring – and some even come up with some pretty neat combinations (TasteID-Magery-Poison pirates for example).
Well I have to share my builds! I’ve been running these for over 6 months without a single change, and will continue to run them until something drastic changes.
Captain : Macing, Tactics, Parry, Begging, Arms Lore, Alchemy, Healing
First mate : Magery, Meditation, Healing, Tracking, Music, Discordance, Eval Int.
Fishing isn’t my thing. Maybe when they fix it I’ll change my builds – but for now, this works fine.
Have fun out there!