Maelstrom – Cinder Guide / Builds

With one of the highest skill ceilings of any ship, Cinder has earned a notorious reputation as a quintessential sloop. Talent is important–but it definitely helps to know what loadouts to use.

Intro / Overview

Hard, fast, light, and precise, Cinder’s reputation proceeds her. Strong passives give her the invaluable ability to pick her engagements. I’m pretty sure the 5 skull difficulty label attracted some of the most adept players up to the challenge, and they certainly did not disappoint. These are some of the most notoriously skilled players in existence, responsible for some of my most upsetting defeats and challenging battles. It’s also a ship that took me quite a while to fully get. But after a lovely discussion with some Cinder mains and a good deal of practice, I think I’ve hammered out some successful builds.

From the “Getting Started” guide:

The Human sloop Cinder is the fastest ship in the game. With decent cannons and an extra speed boost when out of combat, she makes for deadly prey if she leads you on a chase.

  • Cannons only on broadsides
  • Passive out of combat speed boost
  • Tier X: Oracle (can see anyone within sight radius, regardless of fog or obstacles)
  • Pros and cons:
    + Cannons pack a punch
    + Amazing speed
    + Maneuverable
    – Light on the armor
    – Low crew

At risk of sounding repetitive, I’ll again mention that Cinder is the fastest ship around. This is worth emphasizing because it’s a core part of Cinder gameplay. Cinder is designed to not be caught. This of course means enemies will try to catch you, employing tactics such as chain shot, boarding, and cornering. Cinder players must find a balance between countering these weaknesses and building their strengths.

Cinder does well out of combat. This has to do with its ability, Tail Wind Passive (speed boost out of combat), and the fact that Cinder has low health bars across the board (sails, armor, hull, crew). These may scare you to start, but the point is that the less health you have, the easier it is to regenerate it. Regeneration mates such as the Bosun, Shipwright, and Sail Master will make it so that if you’re low on anything, you can simply sail away for a bit and make it all back. This is a particularly frustrating strategy for any slower ship trying to chase you. You can sail circles around them, taking seemingly no damage while tenderizing them with your cannons volley by volley. These out of combat perks can be capitalized on if you equip a Flag Cook. Once leveled, combat flag will last less than a couple seconds, meaning high regeneration and speed can be used during encounters, not just outside of them.

If Cinder is not the fastest ship in the waters, trouble ensues. Sails are one of its most valuable assets–if a Cinder ever loses them without a way to regenerate or a deus ex machina, their fate is sealed. Open waters are a Cinder’s domain; stick to them! Orcs and Dwarves can and will better navigate tight spaces and have the advantage there. You want them to chase you to open waters, getting enough distance to shoot them and resume the chase. If their attention is diverted, punish them with a couple volleys to unguarded quadrants. On that note, Cinder is one of the best ships to take advantage of battles in progress. It simply sails around to an unguarded side and pumps cannonballs into it. As such, many players will divert their attention to a Cinder when one comes around, for they know they’ll both end up dead if they fight each other instead of you. As a Cinder, keep in mind you are a high priority target, and they’ll kill you first–if they can catch you.

Now, on to the more specific builds.

Greased Lightning

This build is all about being untouchable due to its sheer speed. High damage output both in and out of your long range allows you the freedom to sail like the wind with hardly a scratch.

  • Captain: Morrigan Shale

Mates

  • Cook–Flag; Bowser
  • Bosun–Regen; Misty [Freckles Peppins]
  • Shipwright–Regen; Pants [Ross the Architect] OR Sail Master–Regen; Marijun [Needletooth Vaalyn]

Level 5 Traits:

  • Thrill of Victory, Zephyr, Getaway, Dead Water Sprint, Killer Instinct

Hardpoints

  • Cannons: Harbringer
  • Utility: Harbringer Rudder
  • Defense: Wickwind Plating
  • Offense: Talon Gunports

Arguably the most important mate on this ship is Bowser. This cuts your combat flag to 1.6 seconds, allowing you to always make the most of Tail Wind Passive. A close second is the Regen bosun, which avails of being almost always out of combat to give outstanding repair numbers. This combo results in a quintessential aspect of Cinder gameplay: it’s extremely difficult for the enemy to land a hit, and when they finally do, you regenerate back to full by darting away for a few seconds.

The last mate has some play, and I recommend either Regen sail master or Regen shipwright. The former almost guarantees you cannot be caught, since you can’t lose speed. The latter uses the short combat flag to stay full health, just as the bosun always keeps your armor topped off.

Ross the Architect doesn’t offer any hull repair, but will double your hull and offer ramming resistance and damage buff. Pretty hard to pass up. The speed debuff from Saltspitter Rynold isn’t worth it in my opinion, but you’re welcome to try him.

The end result is one of the fastest ships around, with powerful, accurate cannons–quintessential Cinder, to sum up. Long range and low firing delay from Harbringers supplement this quite well, letting you keep the pressure on from afar.

As stated earlier, darting away doesn’t have to mean letting up. Morrigan Shale with upgraded talents is one of the most powerful captains available. High DPS, directly to the hull, and long lasting. Their sails will burn faster than gunpowder, ensuring you remain uncatchable and rendering the enemy a sitting duck, perfect for Harbringers target practice. And if you’re overwhelmed, you can just leave. Cinder has that option. You also have the invaluable ability to pick your battles with Ocean Oracle, selecting who you want to fight and when, and scouting out boons faster than any other ship.

Once you try out this ship, it really becomes a more intuitive feel of how you want to run your Cinder. You’ll get the hang of timing, turning, aiming, and firing just with sheer practice, and it helps you get better with most of the other ships too.

Chicken

Still slippery, but focuses less on speed and more on turning. Gives consistent, accurate shots as a result. Why “chicken”? Try chasing one in real life and then reexamine your question.

  • Captain: Flint Brinetide

Mates

  • Helmsman–Turn; Murphy [Cricket Rudderbuster]
  • Bosun–Regen; Misty [Freckles Peppins]
  • Shipwright–Regen; Pants [Saltspitter Rynold]

Level 5 Traits:

  • Zephyr, Cautious, Dead Water Sprint, Stealthy, Swift Start (for boons if you want)

Hardpoints

  • Cannons: Harbringer
  • Utility: Harbringer Rudder
  • Defense: Phoenix Bulkhead
  • Offense: Talon Gunports

This build really shines if you grab all the legendaries. It took some tweaking and more… reactionary configuration, if you will, but it shores up the induced debuffs nicely, allowing you to enjoy the superior stats.

Freckles Peppins is one of my favorite legendary mates, if not #1. Regeneration and armor damage resist *with* turning rate, I cannot emphasize enough, is just amazing. She costs some Crewman Health, but Flint’s left tree, Smothering Wind, will fix that up.

Turn rate and acceleration come from a helmsman. Cricket Rudderbuster in particular gives you unparalleled turn acceleration, which is a good choice given the amount of buffs to turn rate alone. She also offers sail damage, an ability you might miss from not having Morrigan at the helm. Reload debuff can be handled by Saltspitter Rynold.

A shipwright seals the deal defensively, and while I’m a huge fan of Ross the Architect, Rynold gives outstanding regeneration in and out of combat. One of the first things you notice that’s hard to adjust in transitioning from the previous build to this one is the combat flag. The full 8 seconds feel really long, and so you can take a beating without outstanding armor regen. Hull regen works just about as well out of combat as in, so this keeps you nice and alive when armor fails. Still keep an eye on high DPS builds, as low bulk can cause issues. The speed debuff is canceled out perfectly by Flint’s right-hand tree, Blazing Wind, fixing the last debuff we need to worry about.

With debuffs handled, we can more fully appreciate the benefits. Now, nothing comes close to having as much bulk as a build with Ross the Architect, but this ship has hull values in the 400’s. That’s enough for you to shrug off a hit if you do get caught. As stated earlier, high DPS builds are really the biggest problems–frigates especially; Undertow’s poltergeist, Thunderhead and Ashborne’s firepower, and Bloodfin’s ramming are all capable of sending you fighting for your life after one pass. Blast to shove them away and end boards, then weave your way out of combat for a bit and you’ll get back to full quite quickly.

To be clear, this is a highly maneuverable build. With all the legendaries I mentioned, you get 61 turn rate and 113 turn acceleration, which is better than even Cleaver. On Greased Lightning, if you miss it’s not that big a deal because you’re sailing circles around them. Simply loop around and then fire again.

On this build, you don’t miss.

Between Harbringers’ firing delay and the unparalleled maneuverability, you are an apex predator. This buff also works defensively, letting you dodge rams, cannons, and even homing torpedoes–I’ve entirely dodged a barrage of three, even with some of them looping back for a second pass!

The 8 second combat flag takes a while to get used to, but with the right level 5 traits you can have amazing bursts of speed when you need it most. Zephyr is arguably more valuable here than on Greased Lightning for this reason. Cautious can also prove very useful, because armor can go out suddenly and put you in flight mode. On top of that, with combat regeneration from the bosun, if you do get hit again while on the run, Cautious will simply activate again, resetting your timer. When the combat flag drops after losing armor or picking up a boon, you can dart away with amazing speed.

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