A preamble: Before I purchased this game, I did a fair amount of reading about
it, and was particularly taken once I learned about the Legendary Ships - and
whyever not? They struck me as creative, look intimidating, and I was sure
learning to cope with the mechanics of these fights would be an entertaining
diversion.

A common refrain in discussions of the Legendaries, especially on other
"Guides" to defeating them, is to ensure one's ship is heavily upgraded prior
to attempting to take them on - many explicitly recommend shooting for every
Elite Upgrade before even giving them a shot. I therefore decided to set myself
a challenge - come my time to try them, I'd do so without a single one of
those.

In order to accomplish this, I needed to grasp in full the mechanics of each
individual boss fight, because there's a great deal less opportunity to indulge
errors when one's ship is so much weaker than it could be. After I got it done,
out of curiosity, I compared my strategies to those of other players and was
surprised to discover that A) most online guides are somewhat imprecise and B)
may contain outright misinformation. In consequence, I resolved to write up my
approach in detail, so that future players might have a slightly more reliable
resource to draw on when giving these fights a shot.

Naturally, everything written here is equally applicable to players sailing
Elite Jackdaws - in fact, because such players will have 65% more health and
vastly improved damage-dealing options at their disposal (not to mention no
longer needing to brace before rams), they ought to have a particularly easy
time taking the Legendaries down using the strategies below.



Before we begin, a note: as a general rule, all four Legendary encounters are
best beaten by sailing extremely aggressively. These battles are won at very
close quarters.



HMS Prince

The simplest of the four encounters in terms of mechanics, the Prince is
comparable to a standard Man O' War, but with enhanced health (50,000), more
plentiful cannons, and, most importantly, extremely powerful mortars (that obey
the standard rules for mortars - i.e. you'll be able to see where they're
headed, thanks to large target reticules, and they have a minimum range, inside
of which they can't hit). It is also fairly maneuverable, though by no means as
much so as your Jackdaw. It possesses a weak battery of rear cannons that will
open up on the player once the Prince reaches 25% health. Finally, it's fought
in a thick fog, though this is chiefly a cosmetic detail, as this is a close-up
fight throughout and visibility is of little relevance.

In consequence, staying behind the Prince and cyclically chainshot/ramming it
is a perfectly feasible strategy and the best approach to winning this fight.
As with every other Legendary encounter, the battle begins at 600m distance;
the Prince will start to throw mortars at you as soon as you close to 500.
Close the distance as quickly as possible while dodging the mortar shots. The
game plots mortar shots by scattering them over the area of ocean where the
Jackdaw is predicted to be in several seconds' time, based on its current
heading. Dodge them by dropping anchor and spinning off to the left or right
(the fastest way by far to turn), then striking to full sails again.

Once you have reached the Prince, maneuver around to its rear. This may expose
you to a modicum of broadside damage, but any damage taken should prove quite
manageable. Fire heavy shot as you pass.

Once you have reached the Prince's rear, stay on it. Its mortars are now
effectively neutralized; even though the target reticule will continue to
appear, the Prince cannot fire its mortars directly behind itself. Chainshot to
stun it, then ram. Rinse and repeat until the Prince sinks.

Only two factors remain. First, at 25% health, the Prince will open up with its
rear cannons, but the Jackdaw will sustain negligible damage, meaning this is
really more of a nuisance than a threat. Second, because the Prince is
reasonably maneuverable, it will on occasion manage to steer away from you to
the point that the Jackdaw is no longer directly behind its rear, and is facing
the Prince at something close to a 90-degree angle. This is an excellent
opportunity for some heavy shot, but don't delay in getting back behind the
Prince as quickly as possible, because her broadsides are really quite lethal.



La Dama Negra

The difficulty of this fight is highly dependent on understanding the way the
Dama's mortar fire works - so much so that this fight, once understood, becomes
completely trivial, but is extremely difficult if one can't predict where her
mortars are going to land. La Dama Negra is a ship so heavily armored that her
sides are completely impenetrable - firing anything at her side will simply
result in an amusing "plink" visual and sound effect as your cannonballs bounce
uselessly off her. Her broadsides are deadly, and, most importantly, she will
constantly fire mortars - often to the point that she won't fire her broadsides
even when she could do so to good effect. Her mortars do not display target
reticules, so it's at first unclear where they're going to hit; they do not
cover a large area, but are highly concentrated in their fire; are faster to
hit than ordinary mortars are; and she can fire them anywhere, including
directly behind herself. No wonder she's so keen to rely on these things.

The Dama pays for all this by being extremely slow, having only 30,000 health
rather than the Legendary-standard total of 50k, and, most importantly, by
possessing a wonderful, large and exposed weak spot in the form of her stern.
This is intended to be brutally obvious, as the opening cutscene homes right in
on that stern and its ridiculous number of windows. The fight thus consists of
reaching the stern and staying there, cycling chainshot and ram - the simple
part - while evading her mortar fire as it comes in.

Fortunately, the Dama's mortar mechanics turn out to be extremely simple, as
well. She will invariably fire her mortars at the spot directly in front of
your ship, or where you're going to be in a split second. (If and only if
you're stationary at the time of firing, your ship will be targeted directly.)
Therefore, the correct thing to do is to keep an eye on the sky and brake to a
full stop as soon as you see the mortar projectiles arcing down. They will
miss!

Once the fight's begun, immediately close with her and navigate around to her
rear. Dodge mortars as they come in - you'll need to do this twice or thrice
before you've reached her stern. As with the Prince, there will be a moment
during which you're exposed to broadside fire - but unless you're all but
perfectly paralleling her, she will decide to rely on her mortars instead.
Reach her stern, then commence cycling chainshot and ram as per spec.

However, she can still hit you with those mortars, even when the Jackdaw is in
optimal position. Therefore, as soon as she fires her mortars, interrupt
whatever you're doing. If you're in the middle of a ram, the fix is simple -
abort, brake, nothing will be lost. If you're caught stationary immediately
following a ram, which is slightly more complicated, move away (usually, the
only option is straight ahead while juking slightly left or slightly right) -
even if, as a consequence, you're no longer in pole position. It's easy enough
to get squarely back behind her stern because she's so slow. Simply rinse and
repeat and she'll sink quickly.

One final note - the entire encounter takes place in stormy, choppy seas, but
because cannon fire essentially isn't part of the battle at all, this is of no
importance.



HMS Fearless & Royal Sovereign

A modest but meaningful step up in difficulty from the previous two Legendary
encounters, this one is essentially a three-phase fight, and the only one in
which your mortars are of critical importance (they do come in handy vs. El
Impoluto, but arguably aren't essential). The player must face two Legendary
ships at once, sporting identical but color-flipped models (one has white sails
and sports a hull banded black-white-black, the other's black-sailed and banded
white-black-white). Each has 25,000 health, is faster than the Jackdaw, and
sports broadside cannon as its only weapon. They have no mortars, no rams, no
bizarre hidden batteries of guns sure to inspire jealousy in the less well-
endowed player - only broadside cannon. They even appear to lack forward cannon
- at least, I don't think I've ever seen them fire some. As such, they're very
much one-trick ponies. Their broadsides do some damage, but it isn't very
considerable, especially compared to that done by the other Legendaries' - the
threat in this battle comes from the certainty of being hit on occasion and the
high probability of being simultaneously and repeatedly hit from both sides if
one makes a mistake.

The way they sail is fairly, but not completely predictable. They will open the
battle by shearing to either side of you, using their superior speed to catch
you if you foolishly attempt to escape from them. They will open fire on you
once they're in position, attempting to catch you, with a very high probability
of success, between two broadsides with nowhere to turn or escape to.
Afterwards, they will attempt to circle around you, firing broadsides as
opportunities present themselves. Should you manage to attach yourself to one
ship and deal significant damage to it, the ships will sail away and regroup
once you peel off, then circle around one another, finally heading back towards
the Jackdaw to re-attempt the shearing maneuver with which they began the
fight.

Additionally, when the player sinks one of the ships, the other will light
itself on fire, then make a beeline for you at comical speed. Should it reach
you (and you will not be able to escape), it will ram you, and you will die.
Therefore, it is imperative to sink the ships in very quick succession -
meaning the vast majority of the fight will be spent with both enemies still in
play. Finally, although the seas will always be calm during this battle, the
weather is variable. Take these guys on on a clear day, as visibility is
important here!

The key to surviving this fight is controlling and minimizing damage taken by
exploiting the predictable nature of the enemies' sailing. What does this mean?
It essentially means this will be a four-phase alternating fight - high-damage,
then low-damage, then high-damage, then low-damage.

Phase 1) When the battle commences, the player must do two things: sail
directly towards one of the two Legendaries while firing mortars, hitting both
enemies with the first shot while they're still closely grouped, then ideally
picking the one not about to be directly assaulted as the primary mortar
target. The Legendaries will shear out around you; this is unavoidable. Once
you're in very close quarters with the Legendary you charged at, quickly
maneuver around to its stern, then stay there, cycling chainshot/ram. As you
swing around the one ship, try and hit the other with some heavy shot for bonus
points, although this isn't essential.

You will take some damage, presumably from both ships, as you charge and
maneuver yourself into position, but it'll remain within the realm of the
manageable.

Phase 2) While you're limpeted onto the stern of the Legendary, you will take
considerably less damage than you would in almost any other state during this
fight - one ship's obviously incapable of harming you at this time, and the
other can do no more than take potshots. Your only task at this point is to
chainshot and ram until the ship's down to a sliver of health. Once it is, you
must move quickly: peel off, at which point your enemies should both do the
same. In order to escape, turn into an advantageous position, then pick up
speed and sail off. Try for a sort of elliptical slingshot escape away from the
ship you've been abusing, in order to present as few good angles for broadsides
as possible. At this point, the distance between the Jackdaw and the
Legendaries will increase to somewhere between 600 to 850 or even 900m - well
out of weapons range. Attempt to keep it somewhere between these extreme
values, towards the low end of the range - somewhere around 650 to 680m should
be ideal.

Phase 3) Your job is now to wait until the enemies are circling one another as
outlined above, then quickly squirt in to reach the Legendary you haven't been
abusing, ducking past its heavily injured twin. En route, fire mortars at your
new victim - ideally, it's already been softened up a little. Be sure not to
fire more than 14 of your 15 mortar rounds. Once there, you must again maneuver
around to its stern as directly as possible. As before, you will take damage as
you slip into position, though you should be able to endure it well enough
assuming the previous phases have gone well.

Phase 4) What remains is fairly simple - latch on and cycle chainshot and ram,
just as you did during Phase 2, but this time, you're aiming to sink your
victim. Assuming the prior phases have been properly managed, you should have
accomplished the central goal of this fight, having enough health remaining to
survive this last assault. As soon as your target goes down, fire a terminal
mortar round at the surviving ship, reuniting it with its brother in a hurry.
All done!



El Impoluto

This ship operates almost exactly like a medieval knight on horseback. It will
charge you, ram you, spin to the side, pull out its cannons, clobber you over
the head with 'em, dash off, turn itself around, then repeat the whole sorry
operation to finish off what remains of you. Even better, should its victim
break before the onslaught and try to escape, it will ride down and brutalize
the fleeing enemy, with no possibility of escape. Substitute a lance and a
mace for ram and cannon, and I'm surprised how well the comparison scans. El
Impoluto has 50,000 health, extraordinary speed, a monstrous and very powerful
ram, broadsides that fire, by my count, in excess of 85 cannonballs in several
volleys, and, as a little added bonus, a hidden battery of lethal forward guns
that do only very little less damage than a full-on ram would. These pop out
on only one occasion, though: a set time after one of El Impoluto's charge
attacks goes awry. Lastly, its stern is completely unprotected, though rather
difficult to reach because of El Impoluto's incredible speed and propensity
for ram attacks that leave one moving at a snail's pace very close in even if
handled correctly.

There's exactly one way to unhorse the knight, and that's beating him at his
own game. Anything other than egregious and unwarranted brutality is guaranteed
to send you to the bottom. Furthermore, there's almost no wiggle room for you
to make mistakes. Count on having enough leeway for just one mistake. Two will
render the fight all but unwinnable.

Additionally, there's an element of random chance to this fight that's missing
from all the others. El Impoluto will never be 100% predictable, which makes
itself felt most powerfully during the frequent close-quarters phases of this
fight.

Finally, just as during the previous fight, the weather for this one's
variable, though the seas will always be calm. Again, choose a clear day. You
must always be aware of exactly where El Impoluto is - or, rather, because El
Impoluto is so impressively fast, where it's going to be in another second,
which is usually quite far away.

El Impoluto will commence the fight by charging straight at you. You must do
exactly the same to him. This is the essential approach by which this battle
will be lost or won, and it's imperative that the player's timing be accurate
and his angle of impact correct. Again, rather like jousting! Windows of
opportunity to act during this sequence are small and tight, and a minor error
can make the outcome rather unpleasant for you, possibly to all purposes ending
the fight right there. Be quick and precise.

When two ships charge at one another, if one of the two is either not moving or
moving very slowly, it will do no ram damage. During the charge sequence, you
must shoot chainshot at El Impoluto's bow to stun it, but not too early, nor
too late (and needless to say, do not miss!). Too early, and El Impoluto will
get a chance to open up with its hidden bow cannons, which deal enough damage
to essentially obviate the whole point of trying to dodge its ram attacks. Too
late, and the stun will come too late for El Impoluto to lose much momentum,
meaning it'll slam into you successfully after all. You must time it just right
- just under a second (perhaps three-quarters of a second) after El Impoluto
first comes within chain shot range. Do it correctly, and El Impoluto will slow
considerably and flounder about a bit hopelessly, generally turning slightly to
the left or slightly to the right of its former beeline straight at the
Jackdaw's bow.

This is the time to smash into it, but you must do so at the correct angle. For
best results, try and strike it slightly to the side of its ram - I really
haven't got any scientific basis for suggesting this, but a little trial-and-
error showed this to work quite reliably for both avoiding damage and spinning
the Jackdaw into an advantageous position once both parties have come to rest.

After the joust is won, the random-chance aspect of the fight really comes into
play. (If it is lost, El Impoluto will generally decide to add insult to injury
by hitting you with a broadside, as well - needless to say, not the route to
victory.) Having struck El Impoluto, you will slide off along one of its sides
- this is a perfect opportunity for some heavy shot, and you really must seize
the opportunity every time it presents itself to achieve best results, because
50,000 health is a great deal. El Impoluto, for its part, tends, though this is
somewhat variable, to decide not to broadside at this point, preferring to
start launching itself away from the Jackdaw to set up another charge attempt
instead - it's therefore reasonably safe to fire heavy shot at this point.

However, the position at which you and El Impoluto end up relative to one
another is extremely variable. Sometimes, you'll end up facing much the same
way after a bit of turning. Sometimes, you'll end up in a position to strike
its stern with chain shot, assuming you manage to turn quickly enough - this is
delightful, and a huge boost whenever it happens. Sometimes, ridiculously
enough, El Impoluto will bounce out of the water and off the Jackdaw's hull -
should you be unfortunate enough to have this happen to you ram-first, you'll
take full ram damage!

El Impoluto's overriding goal following a charge is to sail away from the point
of impact at an incredible speed, swinging around outside of chain shot range
and at the extreme edge of cannonball range in a wide ellipse around you,
before turning on a dime and heading straight for you again. It will be
extremely difficult to hit it at close quarters with chainshot in order to
prevent this - most of the time, you simply cannot turn the Jackdaw quickly
enough to set up the shot, because she'll be moving at a nonexistent speed at
the time.

The only circumstance in which this is an appropriate response is one in which
you end up close to El Impoluto's stern following ram impact, in which case you
must make a hairpin turn, fire chainshot quickly and accurately, and finally
cycle chainshot/ram for as long as possible. El Impoluto is so nimble that
it'll be able to break away from you eventually - try to make this bonus damage
phase last for as long as possible regardless. Missing with chainshot or firing
it a split second too late will end it prematurely!

In all other circumstances, your goal post-charge will be to abuse El Impoluto
with heavy shot while turning as quickly as you can. El Impoluto will rapidly
begin to escape from you. Give chase, firing mortars at (so ahead of) it all
the while, until El Impoluto is 30%-40% through its elliptical orbit of the
Jackdaw, then drop anchor and turn as quickly as possible until you're facing
it down for another joust. Chasing it throughout its orbit around your ship has
two major defects: first off, El Impoluto will begin to broadside you midway
through, accurately and for massive damage, and secondly, by the time it does
attack you with its ram again, you'll be so close to it and angled so
inconveniently that effective resistance will be all but impossible. On the
other hand, doing a drop-anchor turn appears to entice El Impoluto into
charging you earlier than it otherwise would - reducing the Jackdaw to low
speed well after a charge appears to indicate to the game that this'd be a good
time to try another joust. This makes the post-charge phase semi-controllable,
greatly adding to your chances of surviving the encounter.

The encounter thus breaks down into these two phases - charge, then charge
recovery. Interrupt Impoluto's ram with chainshot, then ram it in turn; respond
appropriately to the immediate aftermath of the charge; get moving again, give
a modicum of chase, then force it into another premature charge attempt.

Two final notes. First, in order to drop its enormous health bar, make use of
any opportunity you get to drop a mortar round on the Impoluto - the damage
adds up, and can be rather helpful. Second, if the Impoluto does launch a
broadside at your ship at any point, facing directly into it can be rather
helpful - your ship will present a much smaller profile to target that way, and
El Impoluto's broadsides come in stuttering spurts, meaning you'll do a decent
job of ducking at least some of the punishment if you come in close - as if
this fight didn't already reward aggression enough. Best of luck!



Epilogue: Having the charge ram attack as early as Sequence 4 will make the
remainder of the game's naval missions comically easy. Definitely worth it
 - and yes, one can indeed charge while aboard Blackbeard's frigate in that
one mission, even though it doesn't even have a ram. Hooray!



Thank you for reading!

Copyright 2014, johncomnenus