Maelstrom – Tidebreaker Guide

This guide explores gameplay for the Dwarf sloop, Tidebreaker. It includes an overview of builds, gameplay strategies, and matchups.

Introduction

  • Cannons on all quadrants
  • Gearjammer: Increased rate of changing direction (forward/reverse; not to be confused with pure acceleration)
  • Tier X Unique–Techromatic Spooler: Decreases captain ability cooldown by 25%
  • Pros and cons:
    + Good speed
    + Very maneuverable and good at dodging
    + Good armor
    – Mediocre cannons
    – Weakest crew–avoid boarding

Cannons: Graniteheart (I), Duskiron Mortar (V; high range, fast reload, high crit chance), Bowbreaker (IX; very high damage, low range, high firing delay, long reload)

Utility: Coiled Loader Engine (II; +20% max speed), Stabilizer Gearing (VI; -10% firing delay, -15% cannonball spread)

Defense: Duskiron Armor (III; +30% armor to all sides, -20% accel), Stonejaw Bulkhead (VII; +45% hull integrity, +15% ramming damage resist, +10% crit chance resist)

Offense: Stonejaw Gunports (IV; +10% hull/armor dmg, +100% crit dmg), Toothbreaker Keel (VIII; +20% ramming damage, +40% knockback force)

Unique: Techromatic Spooler (X; -25% captain ability cooldown)

The Builds

Tidebreaker’s builds are unique apart from other ships in that (arguably) they rely primarily on the captain you use. The rest of the loadouts are subject to supplementing and augmenting those abilities or playstyles.

As a result, you’ll see the Tier X, Techromatic Spooler (-25% Captain Ability Cooldown) listed in each to emphasize how important it is in the build. The Cooldown Cook, Broenur, is also listed as a mandatory mate for any of these. The rest of the mates and hardpoints are designed to reflect the gameplay that ensues from a particular Captain’s Trick.

Tidebreaker’s main shtick is captain abilities. You can stack Broenur or Griddam the Toe with the Tier X and get -55% cooldown. This means 14 second cooldown on torpedoes, and 16 second cooldown on mines and shield.

Some general considerations…

Hardpoints:

  • Utility: Stabilizer Gearing can be nice, and I had that for some time, but when I swapped it for Coiled Loader Engine I found an immediate improvement; the former hardpoint wasn’t missed much.
  • Defense: I like Stonejaw Bulkhead, one of the main reasons being that I don’t like the accel debuff from Duskiron Armor. If you’re willing to take that hit, go ahead, but the extra hull is much better for burn/board builds (a big Tide bane).
  • Offense: I’d recommend Stonejaw Gunports over Toothbreaker Keel–you’re getting more crits from the cook anyway, and crit damage is nice and hefty this way.

Depending on the build, these are certainly subject to change.

The Control Build: Overview

The Control Build uses Brick Saltspine as its captain. It focuses on setting down as many mines as possible, and as quickly as possible. Hence, there is a focus on longevity for this build; you focus on setting down mines and staying alive. You don’t want to get caught in boarding or a volley of cannonballs, so keep spacing and supplement the damage with your cannons.

It’s important to maintain a balance of mine placement and cannons. You can use chain shot to ensure some of the faster ships can’t outrun your mines or catch up to you, grape shot to prevent boarding and reduce cannon ability, or iron shot to pummel through them even faster as you weave between mines.

Without further ado, let’s look at the loadout for this thing.

The Control Build: Loadout

Captain

As stated earlier, the Control Build relies on Brick Saltspine.

Hardpoints

  • Cannons: Graniteheart (I) or Bowbreaker (IX)
  • Utility: Coiled Loader Engine (II; +20% max speed) or Stabilizer Gearing (VI; -10% firing delay, -15% cannonball spread)
  • Defense: Stonejaw Bulkhead (VII; +45% hull integrity, +15% ramming dmg resist, +10% crit chance resist)
  • Offense: Stonejaw Gunports (IV; +10% hull/armor dmg, +100% crit dmg)
  • Unique: Techromatic Spooler (X; Necessary for full effectiveness in this build)

Mates: Offense

The Captain Cook Broenur is mandatory. When fully leveled in conjunction with Tidebreaker’s Tier X ability, the mines will have a cooldown of 16 seconds. He also provides some useful bonuses to critical hit chance and hit resistance, and combat flag duration (useful for regeneration).

If you want to capitalize on the added crits, you can opt for a Powder Monkey or Lookout. However, I find it much more valuable to invest in defensive mates.

Mates: Defense

Mines inherently provide an element of spacing–great for Dwarves and especially great for a sloop. This makes it easier to run around, dodging shots while staying out of combat mode. (It’s worth noting that Keelbreaker Mines do not put you in combat mode, so while fleeing, you can set them down without a speed disadvantage.) Together with the cook you’re already using, combat flag is already reduced. Hence, I deem it wise to invest in Regen mates.

Sonetoe is the Regen Bosun, and Droz is the Regen Shipwright. Put this two together and you’re back at full health quite quickly. They also add a bit of bulk to Tidebreaker’s already high sloop durability, making it an even tougher nut to crack.

Other options for defense include a Surgeon (pick any) or Quartermaster (Resist; Dhomora) to give boarding builds what-for. If a non-boarding build manages to crew you, mines aren’t subject to the penalties your cannons are, so make sure you keep setting them down.

Mates: Legendary

  • Griddam the Toe:This variation on Broenur substitutes critical hit chance for critical hit chance resistance and a large boost to aft armor. He comes with more susceptibility to hull damage, but provides the same cooldown as the standard Captain Cook. Useful if you get caught in unruly boards or you get tailed by someone sharp.
  • Burgin the Aegis: A variation on the Regen Bosun, Burgin the Aegis doesn’t provide any extra bulk to the armor quadrants. Instead, he has extra armor repair (1.25x that of Sonetoe) and boarding duration resist (as much as the Backboard Quartermaster, Noodles). He comes with a debuff to turn rate, however, so be careful with pulling stunts and narrow escapes.
  • Hullbuster Enorr: This version of the Regen Shipwright provides higher regeneration and a hefty boost to ramming damage, but gives half the normal boost to hull integrity and slows your cannon reload some.
  • Blackhand Mithras: A version of the Iron Powder Monkey, this mate increases turn rate at the cost of armor damage resistance. Lets you get a lot out of cannonballs because you can turn better and they hit harder and faster.

Mates: Level 5 Traits

  • Zephyr (+25% speed boost for 10s on picking up a boon): On paper, I didn’t consider this to be very build specific, but it’s gotten this build out of some tight spots, especially because speed isn’t capitalized on.
  • Getaway (5s of invisibility on kill): Pretty much on here for the same reason as Zephyr.
  • Stealthy (+25% turn rate/accel in fog or while stealthed): This allows you to maneuver better in fog banks, allowing you to rotate faster and more effectively use cannons and dodge.
  • Dead Water Sprint (+25% movement speed in Dead Waters): This allows you to take advantage of paths that other ships can’t, especially in the endgame and especially against battleships.

Captain Talents

I recommend opting for the Persistent Mines (right-hand) skill tree. This allows you to set up an unavoidable minefield which will terrorize all foes big and small. The other tree makes your mines more dangerous, but Tidebreaker’s cooldown allows you to maximize on the mine spam, especially because 1/3 of the cooldown time is spent setting down the mines.

BOOM!

This one uses Brick Saltspine, and is maybe my favorite. Setting down mines every 16 seconds gives an unparalleled terrain advantage–you control if and where they can go, lest they face an entire minefield. Things get really crazy when Brick is fully leveled: you can set down 6 mines each volley, upgrading detection range, chase time, mine lifetime, and damage. If given enough time, you can go to cover and set down an entire minefield that they have to get through to get to you. Most ships have a pretty nasty time dealing with this. And as dead waters close in, this control becomes even more valuable.

Biggest things to worry about here are other Tidebreakers (especially if they have the other captains, that often spells death), and being hit with your own mines. I run the legendary regen mates, Burgin the Aegis and Hullbuster Enorr. Bowbreakers are great for telling ships to back up if and when they do make it into your space, but you can also opt for the other two if you want to keep your distance.

The Bullet Build

Captain

As stated earlier, the Bullet Build is captained by Anvil Barhollow.

Hardpoints

  • Cannons: Bowbreaker (IX; very high damage, low range, high firing delay, long reload)
  • Utility: Coiled Loader Engine (II; +20% max speed)
  • Defense: Stonejaw Bulkhead (VII; +45% hull integrity, +15% ramming damage resist, +10% crit chance resist)
  • Offense: Toothbreaker Keel (VIII; +20% ramming damage, +40% knockback force)
  • Unique: Techromatic Spooler (X)

Mates: Offense

The Captain Cook Broenur is mandatory. When fully leveled in conjunction with Tidebreaker’s Tier X ability, the torpedoes will have a cooldown of 14 seconds. He also provides some useful bonuses to critical hit chance and hit resistance, and combat flag duration (useful for regeneration).

A Helmsman will increase your ramming damage and allow you to turn easier for lining up torpedoes, and a Navigator can increase your speed for better rams and escapes.

Mates: Defense

Fore armor is something to protect, because you’re going to use it a lot. If that quadrant gets knocked out, you’re in danger every time you want to launch torpedoes. Hence, it’s wise to include ramming resistance beyond the hardpoints, or regeneration so you can easily make it back.

Sonetoe is the Regen Bosun, and Gruni and Brid are the Resist and Bulk shipwrights, respectively. Brid will have higher ramming damage resist, but Brid comes with ramming damage resist and hull damage resist. The choice is yours.

Other options for defense include a Surgeon (pick any) or Quartermaster (Resist; Dhomora) to give boarding builds what-for. If a non-boarding build manages to crew you, you can still keep firing torpedoes, so ensure you keep doing so. Sometimes the knockback is enough to interrupt a board.

Mates: Legendary

  • Hullbuster Enorr: This version of the Regen Shipwright provides high regeneration and a hefty boost to ramming damage, but gives half the normal boost to hull integrity and slows your cannon reload some. Good pick for this build; the added ramming damage makes you more deadly in that respect, and the hull bonuses allow you to keep fighting even while armor is down.
  • Soggy Holkin: A Turn Helmsman which substitutes turn acceleration for ramming damage and hull integrity. Reduces Iron Shot damage some, but still makes for an excellent build.
  • Vanguard Legatus: Speed Navigator that forgoes acceleration bonuses for a boost to ramming damage.
  • Blackhand Mithras: A version of the Iron Powder Monkey, this mate increases turn rate at the cost of armor damage resistance. Lets you get a lot out of cannonballs because you can turn better and they hit harder and faster.
  • Griddam the Toe: You may want to consider this one if you’re a bit more cautious and want to up your aft defense, but the crit chance offered by Broenur will serve you well with the power strikes this build entails. The choice is up to you.
  • Burgin the Aegis: Same as in the Control Build, good regen and board resistance while sacrificing turning. Careful with this, as turning is more important for this build than the others.

Mates: Level 5 Traits

  • Rudder Crusher (ram victim has -50% turn rate for 10 seconds):
  • Zephyr (+25% speed boost for 10s on picking up a boon): Again, I didn’t consider this to be very build specific, but it’s good for quick escapes after killing a ship or boon ship.
  • Getaway (5s of invisibility on kill): Pretty much on here for the same reason as Zephyr.
  • Stealthy (+25% turn rate/accel in fog or while stealthed): This allows you to maneuver better in fog banks, allowing you to rotate faster and more effectively use cannons and dodge.
  • Dead Water Sprint (+25% movement speed in Dead Waters): This allows you to take advantage of paths that other ships can’t, especially in the endgame and especially against battleships.

KaPOW!

Anvil Barhollow captains this one.

It used to almost require ramming, to be used in tandem with Bowbreakers and Toothbreaker Keel. This would let you make one huge pass with torpedoes, ram, and fore cannons, which can one-shot some ships at full health given proper surprise.

And that is a good way to go, along with the crit build shown below. However your survivability becomes a big issue. Once fore armor is gone, this build becomes scary to play. If you have cook and ramming, everything else has to be defense. You may need to consider board defenses since you don’t have mines or shield to counter it, but then your armor may be a problem. It’s tricky to find the balance here, so it definitely needs some playing around with.

That is, only if we ignore captain talents.

Tidebreaker can now be a sniper. 6 torpedoes in 3 volleys, with homing, every 14 seconds. You can stick on the same defense mates as on the Control Build (watch your turn rate); no need to invest in ramming if you can just shoot them from afar. At level 100, it’s possible to get 6 homing torpedoes with crit chance, in which case it may be worth grabbing Duskiron Mortars. This is a surefire way to steal plenty of kills, and is an apex predator of Control Tides. One of the main reasons is it gives you control over open waters. Keep your head on a swivel for boarding and you should have a good time.

The Bullet Build: Crits

Here’s another way of running the Bullet Build, sort of a sub-build investing particularly in crits.

Captain: Anvil Barhollow (invest into left tree, Powerful Torpedoes, as much as possible–at least enough to get Critical Payload)

Mates: Blackhaft (Crit Cook), Tyber Squintlid (Legendary Lookout), Powderburns Mickle (Legendary Powder Monkey)

  • Cannons: Duskiron Mortar
  • Utility: Coiled Loader Engine
  • Defense: Stonejaw Bulkhead
  • Offense: Stonejaw Gunports
  • Tier X Unique: Yes

Mmmmmmm. Crits.

That’s a 41% crit chance right there. Stonejaw Gunports give 250% crit damage too, so they ain’t your regular dwarf crits. I had two levels of Critical Payload, so torpedoes have 82% crit chance.

Powderburns Mickle’s iron shot damage bonus takes care of the damage penalty incurred by using the Mortars, so you just get the added sail damage, range, reload speed, and CRIT CHANCE.

Everything augments crits as much as possible. Range comes in a close second for most buffs. Blackhaft makes it so the torpedo cooldown is 16 seconds, not 14, but for the extra crits it’s worth it.

Now to be clear, this build is made of paper. Tissue paper. Wet tissue paper. But you kill most anything before it can touch you. Just be wary of ramming in gauntlet. The Stonejaw Bulkhead is really your only friend in the world of defense, which offers crit chance resist, ram damage resist, and a hefty boost to hull. Mostly I run it to avoid the accel debuff incurred from Duskiron Armor.

But trust me, it shreds through gauntlet in record time.

The Boulder Build

Ledd Gravelbarr, as you probably guessed, is at the helm here. This build went from my least-used Tidebreaker to competing with the Control build for my attention. It’s one of the most dangerous to other Tidebreakers, and is an amazing generalist, going toe-to-toe with just about anyone.

If I recall correctly, Tidebreaker is one of the main reasons Ledd’s base cooldown was stretched from 30 to 35 seconds after talents were added. Nonetheless, you can still pop shield every 16 seconds. Slap on a bosun and shipwright (regen [Sonetoe] and resist [Gruni], respectively, give great results) and you can take very little effective damage. Bowbreakers are just great cannons, and don’t need much augmentation. They’ll serve you well in punching through anyone’s armor–the point is, instead of having massive damage output that the other captains offer, you just last longer.

It’s worth taking a moment to look at Ledd’s shield mechanics. Reduction: The most obvious effect, the shield cuts down hundreds of damage to tens. Repair: Ledd gives you a chunk of repairs halfway through the shield duration.

Mobility: What a lot of players don’t realize at first is that you actually can move some with the shield active, especially if you have high speed. On a good day, you can get it to stop you instantaneously, and you can press full steam ahead with instantaneous acceleration to your temporarily low max speed. (On my ramming Stormanchor I can get over 200 with shield popped, when I’m full on boons.) Hence, this is probably the only build where I’d say it’s ok to put on Duskiron Armor. Use the shield in tandem with Gearjammer (1.5x acceleration if you’re changing direction) and you can also more easily dodge shots, taking even less damage.

Reflecc: This is why the nerfs came down. You have the ability to deal back the damage you take while shield’s up, if you invest in the talent. This is very dangerous for boarding builds and burn builds. Much more valuable than Momentum Conservation imo.

Tidebreaker has a rep for being the most durable sloop, and this build makes it undoubtedly so.