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Fencing is the name of one of the most common Mini-Games in all versions of Pirates!. A Fencing match is an arcade-based mini-game where your Player Character takes on an enemy in one-on-one Sword combat.

During this Mini-Game, each opponent's goal is to land as many blows on the other opponent in rapid succession, until such point that the opponent surrenders or is otherwise defeated. At the same time, each opponent can defend himself by dodging enemy blows or blocking them with his own sword.

The Fencing Mini-Game appears in many different circumstances: to conclude Boardings, during Raids on Ports, and even during attempts at Romance. Therefore, it is extremely common, and in some careers may be played more often than Naval Combat.

Depending on the specific circumstances in which it is evoked, the Fencing match may represent an entire melee battle between your Crew and an enemy crew, or it may be a Fencing Duel - a one-on-one match strictly between your Character and some enemy duelist. This has an important effect on the progress of the match.

Losing a Fencing match, in almost all circumstances, leads to very negative results - most often Imprisonment or even Marooning. Learning to Fence properly is extremely important in all versions of the game. Selecting the Fencing Skill can improve your chances considerably, and in later games there are Items that you can acquire which will also increase your performance. Nonetheless, without sufficient ability in this Mini-Game, you will find it very difficult to get ahead in the game.

Fencing BasicsEdit

Although it is presented a little differently in each version of the game, the basics of a Fencing match are the same: Your Player Character faces a single opponent, both armed with swords. Both combatants attempt to land blows on the enemy, while trying to block or dodge his blows. The game is played in real-time, and requires quick reflexes more than anything else.

OccurenceEdit

A Fencing match will occur in many different circumstances throughout the game.

Most commonly, a Fencing match will occur whenever Boarding an enemy ship in Naval Combat. The crew from your ship will hop over to the enemy ship, at which point you will need to face off against the enemy captain.

Raids may also culminate in a Fencing match, with your crew attempting to overpower the local defenders. In this case you face off against the commander of the local Port. In some games, this match is mandatory, while in others it will only occur if the defenders are heavily outnumbered by your Pirate Crew.

A Fencing Duel, where your Player Character fights a single opponent (with no involvement of your crew or the enemy's men) is also quite common. In all versions of the game this will occur during Romance attempts, fighting against a Daughter's Suitor in order to win her heart. It is also mandatory whenever your crew tries to Mutiny against you. In some games it may occur during Sneaking attempts, and may also occur in a Tavern in various circumstances.

Overall, this mini-game is as common, if not more common, than Naval Combat!

MechanicsEdit

Regardless of version or circumstance, the Fencing mini-game is primarily a battle between your Player Character and a single opponent. Whether your Crew is fighting the enemy in the background can affect the outcome of the match, but the mechanics of combat remain largely the same.

The two combatants are displayed on the screen, facing each other with drawn swords. The objective is to strike the opponent a sufficient number of times, preferably in rapid succession, while attempting to prevent the opponent from striking you.

Each combatant can attempt a low, middle or high attack on the opponent. If this connects, it will usually register as a "hit", having some effect on the opponent - whether knocking him back a little, or lowering his morale, depending on the version of the game you are playing.

Instead of attacking, either combatant can perform a parry - an attempt to block the enemy's attack. Parries can also be low, middle or high, hopefully corresponding to whatever attack the enemy has selected. If the correct parry is performed, the enemy's attack is nullified.

SwordsEdit

Each opponent selects one of three possible types of Swords for use in the match:

Each sword has different properties that affect the performance of the combatant holding it. The effects are game-dependent: in some games, the lighter Rapier allows a longer "reach", enabling you to strike the enemy from a slightly greater distance, while the Cutlass inflicts more damage on the enemy's morale. In other games, the Rapier allows rapid attacks, while the Cutlass allows a quicker defense.

You'll be asked to choose a sword before the Fencing match begins. In all games, there is always a clear visual cue that allows you to tell which type of sword your enemy is using, but this cue only appears once the match has started. Recognizing the enemy's weapon allows you to adjust your tactics to exploit his sword's weaknesses or defend yourself better against its strengths.

ObjectiveEdit

The objective of a Fencing match is to force your opponent to surrender. However, depending on the specific version of the game you are playing, the means to do so can vary greatly!

In some games, the objective is to drop your opponent's morale so far that he has no choice but to surrender. This is done by striking the enemy a sufficient number of times. However, if the opponent manages to hit your character, his morale rises while yours drops.

In other games, the objective is to push your opponent back as far as possible, with each hit pushing him back a short distance. In these games, being hit by the opponent will push your character back a bit.

When the objective is reached, the opponent will surrender (or be knocked out of the battle in some other way). This results in victory for your character.

Fencing MeleeEdit

Fencing Shipboard

A Fencing Melee on board an enemy ship, (Pirates! (1987)). Both combatants have brought their crews along for the battle, with the enemy having a significant advantage in numbers.

A Fencing Melee is a match taking place between your entire crew and the enemy crew. This occurs during Boardings and sometimes during Raids. Although your entire crew is fighting, your character will only be fighting a single opponent - the enemy's leader.

However, as the battle rages on around you, your men and the enemy crew will constantly be killing each other. This has an important effect on the process of the Fencing match.

During such a match, the game will randomly select one of the combating parties, and will kill off a random number of men from that party. This affects the leader of that party (I.E. your character or the fencing opponent) in a manner similar to a single hit from a sword: It will either lower morale (in the earlier games) or reduce advantage (in the later game) for the appropriate leader.

It is currently unknown exactly how the game selects which group to hurt, and how many men to kill from that group - the assumption is that for the most part, this is randomal. However, it can safely be assumed that whichever group has fewer men at any given time is more likely to lose more men. In the earlier games, the current morale probably influences this as well.

Note that in Fencing Melees, if one party loses all its men (except the fencing combatant, I.E. either you or the enemy captain), the next Fencing hit its leader suffers will end the match immediately. For example, if all your men die during a Fencing Melee (or, if you had no men at all to begin with), one hit from your opponent will cause your character to surrender! This is true even if you were extremely close to winning the battle at the time!

Naturally, it should be mentioned that crew killed off during a Fencing Melee are killed off "for real". You do not get them back after the battle. This means that Fencing Melee matches need to be resolved as quickly as possible, to avoid losing a large number of your men.

Fencing DuelEdit

Main article: Fencing Duel
2004 Fencing Duel Criminal

A Fencing Duel against a Criminal in Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004). Note that neither man has a Crew to support them.

A Fencing Duel is a match between two single individuals, without any additional crewmen battling in the background. It is mostly used to settle matters of honor, such as when fighting a Suitor for the hand of a Governor's Daughter.

Since there is no crew fighting on either side, the two combatants will exchange blows freely until one surrenders. In other words, the process of the battle (as well as the eventual victory/defeat) depends solely on the actions of the two combatants.

Consequently, in such Duels you will never lose crewmembers, nor does either combatant become vulnerable when his crew is reduced to one man (it starts with just one man, anyway!).

Fencing Melees and Fencing Duels are not interchangeable. Some situations will always involve a Melee (such as Boardings and Raids) while others will always involve a Duel. For example, you will never have a 1-on-1 Duel with an enemy captain during a Boarding.

Icon Pirates1987 Header Pirates1987Pirates! (1987)Edit

Fencing, as it appeared in the original game, serves as the basis for comparison to all other forms appearing in later games. Although simplified, it does have unique features that distinguish it from other versions.

In this game, Fencing is based primarily around Reach and Morale. Both combatants are free to move towards and away from each other to gain a better position and exploit the length of their sword compared to the length of the opponent's sword. Morale is tracked throughout the battle, and is a reliable measure for telling which of the two combatants is close to victory. Victory itself is achieved by "pushing" the oppenent's morale to its lowest point, at which point the opponent will surrender regardless of any other parameter.

Fencing OccurencesEdit

1987 Combat Boarding

Most Fencing Melees occur during a Boarding. As soon as the Boarding begins, the enemy ship's captain comes out to fight you face-to-face.

In this game, the circumstances leading up to a Fencing match are few, but nonetheless it is an extremely-common mini-game.

Fencing Melees, involving an entire crew battling another crew, occur most often during Boardings. This only happens if the enemy crew has not Surrendered as soon as the Boarding began, or even prior to that. In addition, Fencing Melees occur on each and every Raid, though sometimes they must be preceded by successful Land Combat against the local Fort.

One-on-One Fencing Duels, where the Player Character battles a single opponent with no crews involved, are far less common. The most frequent occurence of this is when fighting over a Governor's Daughter's hand in marriage. In addition, there is a good chance of triggering such a battle when an attempt to Sneak into a Port fails. In this case, failure leads to imprisonment. Another, much less common occurence of the Fencing Duel is when locating Evil Spaniards, in which case htey must be duelled to acquire information about Lost Relatives.

In addition, a special case of Fencing occurs at the very beginning of any career (except Famous Expeditions). Immediately following the Copy Protection, a Fencing match will ensue. During this match, no morale or crew readouts are shown, only the two combatants appear on screen - although the sounds playing in the background indicate that this is indeed a Fencing Melee (I.E. involves crews). Read the Copy Protection article for more information on this.

MovementEdit

In this version of the game, combat is very free-form. Both combatants are free to move backwards and forwards across the combat area, either approaching one another or backing away. This enables them to draw closer in order to perform an attack, or move away in order to avoid one.

An opponent can make six types of attack. There's a high, low, and middle thrust, and a high, low, and middle slash. The difference between a thrust and a slash is its speed and damage. While thrusts are performed quickly, and thus are harder to block, they inflict less damage on the enemy's morale. A slash takes more time to complete, thus making the attack easier to block and the attacker vulnerable for a short time - however they cause double damage to the enemy's morale.

The opponent has two ways to respond to any attack: either try to move away until outside of the enemy's reach, or block the enemy's blow. In both cases, the opponent must select the correct high, low, or middle variety of his defensive maneuver. If the defender chooses the correct manuever, the attack is blocked and no damage is inflicted. Naturally, if the defender has moved outside of the attacker's Reach, the attack is failed regardless of the chosen maneuver.

Movement itself has no direct bearing on combat success, unless the enemy can be pushed all the way to their end of the battle zone. This is extremely difficult to accomplish, though it does impart some benefit to the attacker. Most commonly, the enemy will surrender much earlier than this.

Morale and DamageEdit

In the original game's Fencing match, "Morale" and "Damage" are one and the same. Each combatant starts with a certain amount of Morale, and each hit he inflicts will raise his own morale and lower his opponent's morale. This is how the game tracks which opponent is winning.

Therefore, No actual "wounds" are inflicted - it's all just shifts in morale. Once the morale of one combatant reaches its lowest point, that combatant surrenders.

Morale rises and drops at the same exact rate for both combatants. Therefore, if you strike the enemy three times, your morale is increased by 3 "measures", and his morale is reduced by the same 3 "measures". If the enemy then strikes you 3 times, morale has been restored to its initial state!

There are exactly 8 "stages" of morale. If we assume that "0" is a theoretical middle point where morale is neutral (though this never happens in the game), then this are the possible stages:

  • "Positive" morale:
    • (+4) Highest morale (won the battle!)
    • (+3) Wild!
    • (+2) Strong
    • (+1) Firm
  • "Negative" morale:
    • (-1) Angry
    • (-2) Shaken
    • (-3) Panic
    • (-4) Lowest morale (surrendered!)

During the match, combatants will always have diametrically opposite morale to each other. If one combatant is "Angry", then the other combatant is "Firm". If the first combatant hits his opponent and his morale rises to "Firm", then opponent's morale drops by the same amount, to "Angry".

The following table illustrates all possible states:

Pirates! (1987) Fencing Morale
Your Character Enemy Captain Notes
Won the Battle Lost the Battle At this point your morale gauge still reads "Wild!", and the enemy's still reads "Panic". The difference is that the enemy captain is now on his knees and no longer fights. The match will end within a few seconds.
Wild! Panic
Strong Shaken
Firm Angry
Angry Firm
Shaken Strong
Panic Wild!
Lost the Battle Won the Battle At this point your morale gauge still reads "Panic", and the enemy's still reads "Wild!". The difference is that your character is now on his knees and you may no longer fight. The match will end within a few seconds.

In a Fencing Melee involving both crews, the starting Morale for the battle is determined by crew proportions. The larger crew will begin with positive morale, and the smaller crew will begin with the opposite morale as per the above table. The larger the difference in crew numbers, the larger the gap between the two combatants' morale values. It is possible to start a match already at "Panic".

In a Fencing Duel, where no crews are involved, starting morale is always "Angry" for your character and "Firm" for your opponent.

Crew InvolvementEdit

During a Fencing Melee, your crew also participates in the match. They are fighting an off-screen battle against the enemy crew. The game displays the amount of men remaining in each crew at the bottom of the screen, so you can see how many men you and the enemy have left.

The "starting morale" for a Fencing Match is determined by the proportion between your crew and the enemy crew. If your crew outnumbers the enemy, you will start the match with positive Morale ("Firm" or higher), while your enemy starts with the opposite, negative morale ("Angry" or lower). If the enemy crew is larger than yours, the reverse occurs.

During the match, at random (but generally short) intervals, the game will choose one crew and "kill off" some of its men, thus simulating the battle that rages in the background. This is accompanied by a distinctive sound. A different sound is used for when your own men are killed and when the enemy men are killed.

Crew loss is done with some randomness: the game can potentially choose either crew as a target for this effect. However, whichever crew is larger at the time is less likely to be targeted.

The number of men lost with each triggering of this effect is also randomal. Again, the proportions between the two crews influence to some extent how many men are lost each time. A smaller crew is likely to inflict smaller casualties on the enemy, and vice versa.

Effect on MoraleEdit

Most importantly, each time a portion of either crew is lost, the morale of the crew's leader will drop by a certain amount. For example, each time you lose some of your men during a Fencing Melee, your Morale will drop by a small amount, and the enemy's Morale will rise by the same amount.
This gives another reason to avoid prolonged battles. Not only will you lose crew (permanently!), but each time they die you'll be "set back" a few notches, making the battle last longer.
Note that crew loss cannot force a surrender. In other words, it cannot bring your Morale, nor your enemy's, below "Panic". However, if crew is lost repeatedly in a short period of time, you can reach such low Morale that your enemy's next blow will cause you to surrender, or vice versa.

Dropping to 1 CrewEdit

If, during a battle, you lose all but 1 crew (or had 1 crew to begin with), the next hit from your enemy will immediately cause you to surrender and lose the match. This is completely regardless of morale and the enemy's chosen sword type! It will happen even if your enemy is in a "Panic" at the time!
As a result, even if you are willing to sacrifice your entire crew (it beats imprisonment and Marooning!), you should always strive to end the battle as soon as possible to avoid reaching that "1 man" state. Since blocking enemy blows repeatedly is very difficult, it's likely that you will suffer at least one blow and be forced to surrender, unless you were already extremely close to defeating your enemy at the time.
Note that in Fencing Duels, this rule does not apply. Both combatants are listed as having only 1 man from the moment the fight starts (I.E. themselves), and will not automatically surrender when a blow is landed. Only morale can win such a fight.

SwordsEdit

Main article: Sword
Fencing SwordSelection

This menu appears before (almost) every Fencing match, and allows you to choose your Sword for the coming battle.

At the start of nearly every Fencing match (not including the one at the very start of your career), you will get a prompt asking you to choose your sword for the battle. You may freely choose between the Longsword, Rapier and Cutlass. Your opponent also chooses a sword at this stage.

The difference between swords lies solely in "Reach" and "Damage". During combat, your character's appearance does not change to show that you are wielding a specific type of sword (even the sword itself looks exactly the same). However, your opponent's shirt is color-coded to show what weapon he is using. This is only visible once the battle has started, and gives you the ability to alter your tactics to exploit the weaknesses of his chosen sword, and be wary of its particular strengths.

RapierEdit

Main article: Rapier
The Rapier is a long, slim sword. Its advantage lies in its reach: you can strike your enemy from a considerable distance. It is sometimes possible to inflict a hit even if visually your sword is a pixel or two away from the enemy's body!
On the other hand, the Rapier is a weak weapon. Each hit inflicted by the Rapier will only cause a small shift in morale, taking sometimes two or three thrusts (or one or two slashes) to shift morale by a single step (e.g. from "Firm" to "Angry").
The Rapier is good for players who like to keep their distance, dodging out of the enemy's reach only to strike from a distance. However, this makes battles take longer, as you need to strike your opponent more times to subdue him. For this reason, the Rapier is excellent for Fencing Duels, where you can take your time. In Fencing Melees, prolonged combat can mean the loss of many crewmembers. Note that each time crewmen are lost, you will lose some of your morale (see below), which can easily offset any gains you've made from striking the enemy with this weak weapon...
Fencing Opponent Rapier An opponent wielding a Rapier will always wear a green shirt in battle. If your weapon is heavier than a Rapier, you can try to press him by drawing ever closer and attacking repeatedly. Your hits will be more powerful than his, and thus you can hope to simply overwhelm him.

CutlassEdit

Main article: cutlass
The Cutlass is a heavy, short, curved blade. Its advantage lies in its damage potential: each strike will lower your opponent's Morale (and raise your own) by a significant amount, possibly shifting it by a whole morale step with each thurst, and certainly with each slash!
On the other hand, the Cutlass has a very short reach. You will need to advance quite close to your opponent in order to land a good blow. Very often, the game will register a "miss" even if your sword is visibly striking the enemy! Of course, getting close means opening yourself to the enemy's attack, whichever sword he might be using.
The Cutlass is a great weapon for inflicting damage quickly. It can be useful to simply strike again and again, disregarding the enemy's movements entirely - each attack that manages to land on the enemy will be worth it! However, coming close to the enemy means that every attack that is blocked or misses the opponent renders you vulnerable to a counter-strike.
As a result, Cutlasses are useful for Fencing Melees where you are seriously outnumbered. The powerful strikes will offset morale lost due to dwindling crew, and may also offset any hits suffered from the opponent's attacks. This will usually end a battle quickly, before too many men can be lost in the melee.
Fencing Opponent Cutlass Opponents wielding a Cutlass are shown with a yellow shirt. The danger here is from their powerful strikes. If you were lucky enough to choose a lighter, longer sword, you can simply keep your distance and strike only from outside the opponent's reach, withdrawing after each attack to prevent a counter-strike. If both you and your opponent are wielding Cutlasses, expect taking a LOT of damage! If either of you can manage a couple of successful strikes in a row, this can easily turn the entire battle upside down.

LongswordEdit

Main article: Longsword
As in all other games, the Longsword provides the middle-ground between the two weapons described above. Its reach and damage are both "medium", thus making the longsword more versatile than other weapons. It is used differently depending on the sword your opponent chooses.
If the opponent is using a Cutlass, then your Longsword has the advantage of Reach. You can withdraw to safe distance and strike your enemy from a position where he cannot strike back. Naturally, you'll want to hit the opponent and make sure to withdraw with your weapon in the correct position (low/middle/high) to block any counter-strike he makes while you're backing away.
If the opponent is using a Rapier, you'll need to close in to make better use of your damage advantage. Your strikes deal a little more damage than his, allowing you to batter him to submission with a series of powerful attacks. He will likely counter-strike repeatedly as well, but again his attacks do less damage, so you will have the overall morale advantage.
Fencing Opponent Longsword Opponents wielding Longswords will wear a dark-blue shirt in battle. These opponents are quite dangerous, as they offer no clear weakeness. In this situation, if you have a Rapier, use your reach advantage to strike from a distance. If you have a Cutlass, close in and strike hard.

Speed and SkillEdit

In the original version of the game, both combatants have the same speed of attack and movement. A thrust, slash or step will take the same amount of time for either combatant, regardless of morale or the chosen sword type.

However, on occasion the game will speed up the entire match. When this happens, both combatants will perform all actions at a faster speed.

Sped-up matches are designed to provide a greater challenge. When the match runs at a faster speed, it is significantly harder to anticipate your opponent's moves, react to his attacks, and so forth. Note again that both combatants become faster: your attacks, as well as your enemy's, both take less time to complete. The difficulty is in the player's reaction time, rather than the character's movement speed.

Sped-up battles occur primarily on higher Difficulty settings. They are far less common on lower difficulty. However, when battling a "challenging" opponent, such as an enemy Named Pirate or a Suitor, there's a good chance of a sped-up battle occuring regardless of the current difficulty setting. Sped-up battles can also occur in any Fencing Melee where your crew is significantly outnumbered by the enemy. Another common example is the battle at the very start of your career: if you failed the Copy Protection, a sped-up battle ensues (with other severe penalties applied during combat) which makes it nearly impossible to actually win.

The Fencing Skill appears to reduce the frequency of Sped-up Fencing matches.

Note that speed does not change during a battle. If a battle started at normal speed, it will remain at normal speed until concluded. Sped-up battles will remain sped-up until concluded as well.

Icon Pirates2004 Header Pirates2004Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004)Edit

In the 2004 version of the game, like all other mini-games, Fencing has been thoroughly revamped. While the basics involved in Fencing are the same, significant changes have been made to the actual mechanics.

Fencing matches are now much more dependent on speed and reflexes. For one, it is impossible to "back away" from the enemy, meaning that each attack has to be met with either a faster attack or a proper defense. Morale has disappeared, and is now replaced with "advantage", which influences the individual speed of each combatant. Since movement is now automated, swords no longer have "reach" and "damage" properties - instead they modify the user's speed. In addition, a plethora of Items now influence your success in battles, and Age has its own effect on your performance.

Fencing OccurencesEdit

2004 Fencing Melee Shipboard

Most Fencing Melees occur during Boardings. Your Crew will participate in these fights.

As with the original game, Fencing is one of the most common mini-games you'll play during your career. Its most frequent occurence is, by far, during Naval Combat, where it will ensue whenever a Boarding is performed (assuming the enemy has not Surrendered automatically or before contact, something which is much easier to force now, thanks to Chain-Shot and Grape-Shot).

Fencing Melee also occurs during Raids, although it is now not absolutely mandatory. It will normally occur when a Raid is performed against a poorly-defended Port, which does not have enough men to fight a Land Combat. It is also possible to force a Fencing Melee from Land Combat by marching a unit all the way to the enemy Fort during the mini-game.

2004 Fencing Duel Criminal

A Fencing Duel against a Criminal in Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004). Note that neither man has a Crew to support them.

Fencing Duels are now considerably more frequent than in previous games. This is mainly due to the prevalence of Annoying Captains and Criminals encountered in Taverns, as well as the ability to duel many Suitors even after marriage with a Governor's Daughter has been secured. A particularly difficult Fencing Duel occurs also at the climax of the Main Quest.

Duels no longer occur during Sneaking attempts - if an enemy guard is encountered, you will be imprisoned immediately. It is still possible, though much rarer, to have Fencing Duels with the Evil Spaniards; they no longer spend more than a miniscule amount of time in Ports, so the chance of fighting them off their ship is remote.

Also note that since the game has no active Copy Protection, the fight at the start of your career has been removed entirely. Most players see this as a blessing.

MechanicsEdit

As mentioned above, the new game's mechanics revolve almost entirely around relative speed. Each combatant attacks and defends at a different speed, governed by many different factors. Players need to learn to time both attack and defense moves precisely, reacting quickly to whatever the enemy does.

Note that for each of the combatants, the speed of attack is usually different from the speed of defense. This is very important when discussing Sword types, whose only effect is increasing one speed and reducing the other.

Attack and DefenseEdit

Available attacks are more simplified in general. There are only three different attacks you can perform: A quick "Middle-Thrust", or a slower "High-" or "Low-Slash". The Middle Thrust is the fastest type of attack: it takes no more than a moment to complete, and thus is hard to defend against. The High and Low Slashes are slower and easier to block, but they cause more "damage" to the enemy if they connect.
Defense in this game is also simplified. You may block a Middle Thrust with your sword, jump to avoid a Low Slash, or duck to avoid a High Slash. Each defensive move corresponds to one attack; defending against the wrong attack is the same as not defending at all.
Performing a Middle Block takes almost no time. This is crucial because the enemy's Middle Thrust happens very quickly. Both the High and Low Defense moves take a certain amount of time to complete - This means you need to start your defensive move at the correct moment: If you start it too late, you will suffer a hit from your opponent. Conversely, in some situations, starting your defensive move too early can result in completing the maneuver before the enemy has completed his attack, suffering a hit anyway! This is especially true when the enemy has a slow attack and you a fast defense (see below).

MovementEdit

In this game, it is no longer possible to move backwards and forwards voluntarily during a Fencing match. Instead, movement is automatically handled by the game. Position on the battle zone is now the primary gauge for which side is winning the match.
Fencing begins with both players roughly at the "center" of the combat zone. Each successful hit will push the stricken combatant backwards by a certain number of "steps". The attacking combatant then automatically moves forward by the same number of "steps" to maintain the same distance from the opponent. Neither of you will ever be "outside sword reach", as was possible in previous games.
Once a combatant has been pushed to the end of the battle zone, he will have lost the battle, and will either surrender or be pushed overboard, depending on circumstances and the type of opponent involved.
The different attacks cause combatants to move a different number of steps. The Middle-Thrust attack, while extremely quick, will only push the opponent 1 step away if it connects. High or Low Slashes are slower, giving the opponent more time to defend, but if they connect they will push the opponent 2 steps away. In addition, special moves (see below) that succeed in striking the enemy will cause him to move 3 steps back.

AdvantageEdit

2004 Fencing AdvantageBar

The Advantage Bar, as it appears at the bottom of the Fencing screen. This bar is almost entirely white, indicating that you have the advantage. As a result, your enemy becomes slower, while you become faster.

Morale has been effectively replaced by a factor called "Advantage". This is represented by a colored bar at the bottom of the Fencing screen.
At the start of the match, the Advantage Bar is at dead-center: half the bar is colored red, and half is colored white, indicating that neither you nor your opponent have the advantage. When a combatant manages to strike his opponent, or manages to avoid an attack by his opponent, advantage will swing slightly in his favour.
When advantage is "leaning" in favor of one combatant, that combatant becomes faster both in attack and defense. The other combatant becomes slower in both categories by the same amount.
If at any time the Advantage is leaning towards either combatant, it will slowly "normalize" back towards the center. It takes roughly 10 seconds for advantage to return to its normal "neutral" state from leaning all the way in favor of one combatant. To achieve overwhelming Advantage, it is required to either strike the enemy repeatedly, or (more reliably) evade his attacks repeatedly. This serves to slow him down more and more, making him more vulnerable and making his attacks easier to avoid, thanks to his reduced speed and your increased speed.
Note that Advantage also swings when Crew from either side are killed (see more on this below).

Crew InvolvementEdit

During a Fencing Melee, your crew also participates in the match. During Boardings, your men and the enemy men are visible fighting all around the ship, falling dead off the rigging, etcetera. The game displays the amount of men remaining in each crew at the bottom of the screen, so you can see how many men you and the enemy have left.

During the match, at random (but generally short) intervals, the game will choose one crew and "kill off" some of its men, thus simulating the battle that rages in the background. This is accompanied by a distinctive sound. A different sound is used for when your own men are killed and when the enemy men are killed.

Crew loss is done with some randomness: the game can potentially choose either crew as a target for this effect. In this version of the game, it appears that the relative size of each crew does not influence this random choice - both crews seems equally likely to lose men at each "kill-off".

The number of men lost with each triggering of this effect is also randomal. Usually between 1 and 5 men will be lost each time this occurs. There does not seem to be any external factor influencing the number of men lost.

Effect on AdvantageEdit

Each time a crew loses some of its men, that crew's captain will lose some Advantage. However, the amount lost is very small, comparable to the advantage shift that occurs when the captain is hit with a Middle Thrust. It will "correct" itself within less than a second, so it really isn't much of an advantage shift.

Dropping to 1 CrewEdit

If, during a battle, you lose all but 1 crew (or had 1 crew to begin with), the next hit from your enemy will immediately cause you to surrender and lose the match. This is completely regardless of the current situation. You could be just a step away from winning - you'll still surrender when hit.
To make matters worse, once you reach that "1 man state", the enemy combatant will become noticeably faster, and you'll become noticeably slower. This makes it even harder to avoid the enemy's attacks, leading almost inevitably to being hit and surrendering immediately.
As a result, even if you are willing to sacrifice your entire crew (it beats imprisonment and Marooning!), you should always strive to end the battle as soon as possible to avoid reaching that "1 man" state. Since blocking enemy blows repeatedly can be difficult due to the extra speed penalty, it's likely that you will suffer at least one blow and be forced to surrender.
Naturally, the same effect applies to your opponent as well, if his crew drops to 1. This actually enables a very useful trick associated with Evil Spaniards: boarding a ship piloted by an Evil Spaniard will always result in a Fencing match, even if the ship raised a White Flag prior to the Boarding. The exploit is to avoid the boarding, and instead pummel the enemy ship with your cannons until its crew reaches 1 - and then board the enemy. Since the Evil Spaniard is now alone, one hit will cause him to surrender, making the fight significantly easier!
Note that in Fencing Duels, this rule does not apply. Neither combatant has a crew, and thus winning or losing the match depends entirely on the combatants themselves. Neither will surrender except due to the "normal" condition of being pushed to the edge of the battle zone.

Special MovesEdit

In the new version, it is possible to execute both offensive and defensive "Special Moves". These moves are more beneficial than simply attacking or avoiding the enemy's attack.

Offensive Special MovesEdit

2004 Fencing SpecialAttackItems

A Bucket and Gaff seen lying around on the deck. In fact, the Player Character is in the process of kicking the bucket at the enemy.

Offensive special moves are based solely on the environment. During a Boarding or Raid, special items - Gaffs and Buckets - may appear strewn around the battlefield.
When your character is standing close to such an item, pressing either the "High Attack" or "Low Attack" button will utilize the item to your advantage.
While Special Attacks can be blocked or evaded, just like normal attacks, they are far more potent in pushing the opponent backwards. A hit from a special attack will cause the opponent to move back 3 "steps". This is equivalent to the distance gained by a successful High/Low Slash + successful Middle-Thrust!
Note that enemies will never use special offensive maneuvers, even when standing in the correct spot, next to one of these items.

Defensive Special MovesEdit

A defensive Special Move is a defensive move that culminates in a follow-up attack on the enemy. It is a combination of an evasion with a counter-attack.
To execute a defensive special move, the player must press the correct defense button at the exact correct timing. This means you need to choose the proper counter to an enemy's attack (high defense against high attack, low defense against low attack), and do so just as the enemy's attack is at its "peak". The exact moment is hard to quantify in words, and appears to be different depending on the enemy's speed.
When this is done correctly, your character will file backwards, landing on his left and avoiding the incoming blow. He then pushes himself back to an upright position, and strikes with his sword arm at the enemy. Assuming the enemy is not incredibly fast, he will suffer a powerful hit, equivalent to a high/low attack + middle thrust.
During Boardings, it is also possible to execute a swinging maneuver. Your character will jump upwards, grab a rope dangling from the sails, and swing at the enemy, striking him with his sword. To trigger this special defensive maneuver, you will need to use a "high defense" against an opponent's attack, and again must do so at exactly the right timing.

Enemies and Special MovesEdit

Almost all enemies can execute Defensive Special Moves. Some will do so more often, for example Criminals encountered in Taverns will usually perform a half-backflip as described above when you execute an attack. Captains of Boarded vessels will often swing from a loose rigging when you execute a low attack.
On occasion, Once the location of an Evil Spaniard or Famous Pirate has been discovered, conversations with various Barmaids may reveal that the person in question has a special Fencing ability. This indicates an increased ability and/or likelihood to perform one type of defensive maneuver. During a Fencing match with this person, you would do well to watch out against such moves.

SwordsEdit

Just prior to the beginning of a Fencing match, you are given the opportunity to select one of three different Swords to use in the battle.

The only effect of each sword type is on your attack speed and defense speed. All swords will inflict the same damage (i.e. push distance) on the enemy with each hit. Also, since it is now impossible to back away from the enemy, all swords have the same "reach", unlike previous games.

The type of sword selected by both yourself and your opponent should be readily visible once the battle begins. Each sword has a unique appearance, easily recognizable. In addition, on lower Difficulty settings the game displays the type of sword your opponent is using in a caption next to his name, at the bottom left of the screen.

Note that when playing on Apprentice difficulty, the game will not let you choose a sword prior to any Fencing match. You will automatically use a Longsword for each battle.

RapierEdit

Main article: Rapier
The Rapier is a fast attack sword. When using this sword, your attacks will complete much faster than normal. This applies to all three types of attacks, as well as counter-attacks made at the end of a successful Defensive Special Move (see above). Middle Thrusts with a Rapier are exceptionally quick.
On the other hand, the Rapier is very slow on the defense. Defensive moves are much slower to complete (except the Middle Defense, which applies almost immediately when the button is pressed, regardless of sword type).
As a result, Rapiers are useful for players who prefer to land more blows than evade them. If the enemy is using a Cutlass, wait until he starts his attack and then quickly strike: you will complete your attack sooner than he will, earning you a hit. If the opponent is using a Rapier too, you may want to press hard and exploit his slow defense - evading his attacks may be near to impossible!

CutlassEdit

Main article: Cutlass
The Cutlass is a heavy defensive sword. When using this sword, your attacks will take longer to complete, but defensive moves are extremely quick. You should be able to successfully complete defensive moves even if you're a little late in your response to the enemy's attacks.
However, due to your slow attack, the enemy has plenty of time to respond, and thus may defend against (or even counter) your every move. The most useful tactic with a Cutlass is to evade the enemy's attack several times in a row (thanks to your speedy defense) in order to gain the Advantage - whereupon your enemy will become slower (and you become faster), enabling you to offset your sword's speed penalty.
Another useful tactic is to learn the correct timing for Defensive Special Moves, which are often easier to execute with a Cutlass. In this case, all you have to do is let your opponent attack, then execute the special move to dodge his attack and hit him with the automatic counter-strike. If repeated enough times, this will push the enemy to the edge of the battle, earning you victory.

LongswordEdit

Main article: Longsword
As in all other games in the series, the Longsword serves as the middle-ground between the Rapier and the Cutlass. Neither attack nor defense are especially fast, but neither are especially slow.
This gives the Longsword the ability to use whichever tactic is necessary to defeat the opponent, based on which sword he has decided to bring into the battle.
Against a Rapier-wielding opponent, the Longsword has the advantage of defense. Evade your enemy's attacks, gain a little Advantage, then exploit his slow defense to strike him repeatedly.
Against a Cutlass-wielding opponent, the Longsword has the advantage of attack. Strike as soon as your opponent shows signs of attempting to attack you - you should complete your attack sooner and thus hit him first. In fact, you should still be quick enough to evade his attacks if you so desire, gaining some more advantage and offsetting his Cutlass's powerful defensive speed.

Enemy Sword ChoiceEdit

In this game, some opponents will tend to carry the same type of sword into combat every time, while others will choose more randomly.
Annoying Captains will usually carry a Rapier, as will captains on military vessels. Both Criminals and Evil Spaniards will always carry a Cutlass. Merchant captains tend to favor the Cutlass as well.
An interesting exception is Marquis Montalban. He carries a Cutlass with a unique sword model that is not available to any other character in the game. This sword appears as a Rapier, sleek and smooth, but behaves as a Cutlass in battle.
Note that as of patch 1.01, Montalban's sword has been changed to have the properties of a Rapier. This makes him one of the most dangerous opponents in the game - primarily due to his inherent speed bonus. On Swashbuckler difficulty his attacks are almost impossible to avoid...

ItemsEdit

Many of the Special Items you can collect during the game will have a beneficial influence on your ability during Fencing matches. Each pair of items has a different effect. The "basic" item in each pair provides a low-level bonus, while the "upgraded" item provides a greater bonus.

Balanced SwordsEdit

2004 Item BalancedSwords The set of Balanced Swords will increase your attack speed by a small amount, regardless of which sword you choose for any Fencing match.
2004 Item PerfectlyBalancedSwords The set of Perfectly Balanced Swords amplifies this effect, increasing attack speed by a significant amount.
These items are also useful to offset the effects of Age (see below).

Fencing ShirtEdit

2004 Item PuffyFencingShirt The Puffy Fencing Shirt increases your defense speed by a small amount, regardless of which sword you choose for any Fencing match.
2004 Item SilkFencingShirt The Silk Fencing Shirt amplifies this effect, increasing defense speed by a significant amount.
These items are also useful to offset the effects of Age (see below).

ArmorEdit

2004 Item LeatherVest The Leather Vest has an interesting effect: When the enemy attacks with a Middle Thrust (the fastest possible attack), and is not blocked, the Leather Vest gives some chance (around 50%) that the attack will be completely nullified regardless of your failure to block it.
2004 Item MetalCuirass The Metal Cuirass amplifies this effect, increasing the chance for your armor to automatically block a successful Middle Thrust to around 80-90%! This makes you almost impervious to these annoying, stinging attacks.

PistolsEdit

2004 Item OneShotPistol Once a One-Shot Pistol is acquired, a short cinematic will play just prior to the start of each Fencing mini-game, where you and your opponent will exchange fire from your pistols. The opponent misses, but your character then wings him in the shoulder with a shot from this pistol. As a result, your opponent begins the battle a step backwards from where he would normally begin. This is equivalent to a free, automatically-successful Middle Thrust.
2004 Item BraceOfPistols When a Brace Of Pistols is acquired, your character will fire twice at the enemy in this pre-battle cinematic. The result is that the enemy begins the fight two steps back from where he would normally begin. This is equivalent to a free, automatically-successful High or Low Slash attack.

Age, Difficulty and SkillEdit

As your character Ages, he will gradually become slower during Fencing matches. This is a simple speed penalty to both attack and defense, which increases as the years go by. As you near the age of 40, you'll notice your character taking longer to attack and defend.

One way to counter this deterioration in speed is to acquire Balanced Swords and Fencing Shirts (see above). These increase attack and defense speed, and will help to offset some of the penalties of age. However, at the advanced age of 40, you will still be slower than a young lad of 18, regardless of how many items you've collected.

Note that beyond a certain point, Fencing speed does not deteriorate any further. It is quite possible to play the game for centuries (of game-time, of course) and still be able to fight as well as a man of 40 years.

Another important pair of items is the Medicine set, including the Medicinal Herbs and Incan Mystic Salve. These items slow the deterioration of Health, and therefore the deterioration of your fencing speed. Still, at one point or another you will become as slow as possible for your character.

The current game Difficulty also has a powerful effect on speed - most noticeably, your opponents' speed. On Swashbuckler difficulty, all enemies are lightning-quick. In fact, they are even quick given the weakness sword they are using (I.E. quick on offense with a Cutlass and quick on defense with a Rapier). Nonetheless, it is still possible to defeat them, given enough practice.

On the other hand, the Fencing Skill increases both Attack and Defense speeds considerably. A young player character with the Fencing Skill is incredibly fast. Note again that this bonus eventually pales against the penalties given by deteriorating Health.

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