Maelstrom – Dread Guide / Builds

Become the terror of the seas, and suffocate all your enemies.

Intro / Overview

From the “Getting Started” guide:

The Undead battleship, Dread, is an inevitable giant. It is the very embodiment of the Undead’s ability to wear down ships. Able to take some of the heaviest punishments possible, this ship is not to be trifled with.

  • Cannons on broadsides and aft
  • Upon taking damage, attacker receives heavy accuracy debuff
  • Tier X: Dread Spirits (8-direction projectile pulse, dealing all 3 damage types)
  • Pros and cons:
    + Strongest hull in the game
    + Defensive buffs are more powerful
    + Captain ability options
    – Low armor
    – Slow to accelerate and turn

Dread is one of the most imposing and intimidating ships in the game, with frighteningly high hull and debilitating debuffs that leave every ship dead to rights. It offers some exhilarating defensive gameplay, as you wear down all your adversaries until their only option is to sink. Few ships in this game can replace the satisfaction of pulling out a victory while at half hull with no armor, sails, or crew. It’s in these moments that Dread does her best work. Let’s take a look.

The Inevitable

That ship which gives you a sinking feeling in your gut every time you see it? The uncanny, unsettling, terrifying presence in the match where you know you’re through? This is that ship.

  • Captain: Dealer’s Choice


  • Shipwright–Resist; Caedmon
  • Cook–Captain; Isadora
  • Navigator–Speed; Enok [Wikken the Lost]

Level 5 Traits:

  • Killer Instinct, Disruption, Cautious, Dead Water Sprint


  • Cannons: Windreaper
  • Utility: Dreadwind Mast
  • Defense: Umbral Plating
  • Offense: Fadewisp Deck

All about hull. Take a look at those buffs.

This build avails itself of some of the tastiest mate/hardpoint synergies present among all the Undead. All the hull buffs will bring you to 1740 hull (1800’s if Morte’s on), with 50% hull damage resist. That’s an effective 3480 hull. As always, Undead siphon only makes this sweeter. I highly recommend the legendary navigator; if you get him, you’ll lose armor even quicker, but it helps trigger Cautious more often, applying further pressure.

If the defense alone isn’t good enough for you, Fadewisp Deck with Isadora will cut all your captain cooldowns in half. Your harpoons, teleports, or fart clouds will have an unparalleled smothering effect on all adversaries, as you can continue trapping, advancing, or blinding (respectively). Try out all the captains and see what floats your boat (and sinks theirs). All of them work beautifully so it’s up to personal preference.

Windreaper cannons allow you to make the most of your speed issues. The navigator offsets this by a good deal, but you’re still a battleship. If they get away from you, apply pressure from a distance with their high damage and range. Reload time, the cannons’ biggest weakness, is of low concern; Dread is the champion of long, drawn-out battles. Wear them down into a pile of rubble, until there is nothing left that’s even worthy of a gravesite.

Impending Doom

This Dread build actually allows for viable use of armor. Hopefully you’ve tried to do this enough times that you know just how hard it was to calibrate this.

  • Captain: Morte Shadehowler


  • Shipwright–Resist; Caedmon
  • Bosun–Bulk; Balthazar
  • Powder Monkey–Iron; Erasmus

Level 5 Traits:

  • Guarded, Disruption, Dead Water Sprint, Zephyr


  • Cannons: Ouroboros
  • Utility: Dreadwind Mast
  • Defense: Belfry Armament
  • Offense: Catacomb Gunports

I wanted a more offensive Dread build that allows for more appreciation of cannons. If you don’t have the defense and offense hardpoints in the Inevitable build, then you lose Dread’s intense captain and hull capabilities; in changing just those two things to get more cannon power, if it isn’t extreme in those areas then it’ll be mediocre in everything. Belfry Armament sort of forces the armor route on you to get the aft cannons, but armor is usually the thing Dread sacrifices the most, focusing completely on hull. It bothered me for some time that I couldn’t find a way to make armor work and have a build that fostered more offensive tactics during brawls.

Search no further my friends.

First off, notice how you have 8 more cannons (3 per broadside, 2 on aft). Ouroboros will help you make the most out of this, with high damage and velocity. Add Erasmus for a hefty boost to the already high base damage and velocity, and you’re in for a good time.

Better cannons also makes you less reliant on captain abilities. Of the three, I’d opt for Morte. You don’t quite need the damage offered by Greavus, and Merriden’s evasion/chasing isn’t as useful as for the brawls. You can easily out-wait ships that get too far away and tank enough hits to manage. Morte’s smothering, blinding fog helps you to avoid damage and sucker punch your victims in a manner particularly useful for this build.

But one of my favorite parts of this build, if it wasn’t clear enough already, is the ability to use armor on Dread. FINALLY. I’ve had multiple bot matches where they didn’t even down a quadrant. With a 35% boost, it’s around the same bulk as Thunderhead, with 20% damage resistance. And when armor goes down, you still have a hefty amount (1500 or so, and 50% resist) worthy of Dread’s capabilities. This allows you to use more kosher Maelstrom tactics of relying on cannons and quadrants than sort of waiting out attacks on all sides until enemies die of exhaustion. But you still have more hull than any other ship can dream of, truly unlocking the best of both worlds.

Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13352 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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