I wasn’t a captain. Solo ambushes were my thing. I had a great sense of the angles, distances, and crucially, the timing needed to load the right ammunition and light the fuse when the enemy would suffer most. Point blank sneak attacks with the one-gun raft were my specialty, and how I’d typically get to the battlefield, or plunge to the earth along with an enemy ship and its furious crew.
But one day there was a galleon, and nobody was stepping up. I haven’t played AirBuccaneers since its Alpha state about seven years ago. I imagine it’s very different now. But I remember that one day. That one glorious battle where I took on the duty of steering and organising, and the rando gods blessed me with a crew that understood. With nothing but voice barks, and that rare and special magic of a team of strangers in synch, we became unstoppable.
Galleons needed at least five or six people to be worth it. Our crew fluctuated as hostile boarders got lucky, or one of ours leapt into the sky with a rope to harass and distract enemy floats. We even got reinforced as two casualties used a tiny scouting raft to catch up to the action. But while we took our knocks, we were undefeated. A shipful of enemies foolishly pre-loaded their guns with mid-range balls, costing them valuable time when I ordered a long-range rocket attack instead. That gave us a headstart while the gunners duked it out, and by the time they went down in flames, my boys had found their groove.
A sloop charged us at fire range. I pretended to close, letting them think it was working. The crew continued to fire cannonballs, somehow sensing my ploy. Just in time, we jinked out of range. While their fire singed our eyebrows, the gunners simply kept firing, destroying their hull before they could close the gap. Another ship fell to our unerring fire. Rockets, balls, fire, everything was used. Again and again they came for us, but we were an orchestra of violence. Ducking, turning, lurching unexpectedly to turn a respite into a boarding action. When the enemy shot our cannonballs out of the air, we switched to rockets. They reciprocated, so we charged, switching back to the more powerful balls before they could reorganise. Another ship fell. A quiet minute later, the enemy came back with another sloop.
“Load gunpowder!” I called. We were well out of range for the flamethrower attack this would trigger. Most crews would have ignored me, and kept firing. My crew loaded gunpowder. The undercrewed sloop kept their distance, hammering us with cannonballs. A weaker crew would have caved, but not this one. And then I dropped. As the hidden galleon below us rose alongside, the crew caught on immediately, and unleashed a double jet of deadly napalm directly into their balloon. “Left! Load rockets!”, I cried. Barely even celebrating the falling wreck of the galleon, the crew obeyed again, scrambling on the opposite gunnel as I recklessly swung us under the confused sloop, rose on their opposite side, and peppered them with rockets, knowing they were too few and too rattled to finish us before we’d get high enough for my boarders to punish their failed diversion. It was the best team of players I’ve ever known, and none of us had ever met.
My crew trusted that I was cunning, and I trusted that they were brave. We were Air Buccaneers.