A proper crew is vital to the performance of any ship, and planning your crew according to what type of ship you'd like to play is an important long-term consideration to make. Veterans of NF1 should note that, while complex, NF2's crew system is nowhere near as intricate or as vital to your ability to compete as was the crew system in NF1. Still, that doesn't mean you should ignore your crew entirely, as a well-trained and well-selected crew can be immensely helpful in battle.
Accessing and Purchasing Your Crew Edit
Unlike NF1, your crew is no longer tied to one ship or another -- instead, it's universal. You can access your crew from the harbor by clicking the "Battle Station" button underneath the panel displaying your captain's information. This will open the Officer Window, where you can view all of the officers loaded onto your ship, as well as other information about your captain and crew.
As you can see, the Officer Window is more or less divided into two parts. On the left you see information about your captain, including his name, nationality, level, percent progress to the next level, and winrate. Beneath him is the slot where you can equip an aide, if you have not done so already (more on that down below), or see what aide you have currently equipped and the bonus they're providing you. Lastly, underneath the aide, you'll see a visual breakdown of your crew's ability. We'll talk more about these bars and what they mean in a moment.
To the right, you'll see the various officers currently loaded onto your ship, sorted into four categories. You'll also notice that this half of the window is subdivided into two more halves: basic slots and expansion slots. You start the game with one basic slot for each category, and you can unlock up to two more by spending points on your captain, which we'll elaborate on in the "captain" section. Expansion slots, on the other hand, are all available to you immediately. You get 2 each for the "weapon," "support," and "special" categories, and 4 for the "aviation" category. Both types of slot can accommodate either credit- or gold-bought officers. It is recommended that you begin making use of your expansion slots as soon as you can afford to staff them, so you can spend more time leveling as many crew at a time as possible.
Note: When creating a new Captain, you will start out with 500 Credits and are able to afford all 10 Officers for the Expansion slots (10 Slots, 1 Credit Officer costs 50 Credits). Since the early type ships do not cost much it's recommended to purchase them since they'll vastly improve your effeciency compared to buying them later in the game.
Both the credit and premium (gold-bought) officers can be purchased through the store under the "officer" tab, where you'll find both varieties arranged by category.
How They Work Edit
Right-click one of your officers while on the Officer screen, and you'll be taken to that officer's Ability Screen. Here, you can manage that officer's abilities and morale, as well as view their current level, progress to the next level. You can also use gold to change their name via this screen by clicking on the pencil icon next to their name. Clicking the "Reset" button near the top right of the screen will use gold to reset that officer's ability points, allowing you to completely re-spec them, if you make a mistake or simply wish to alter their focus.
Every time an officer levels up, you get 1 point to spend on their abilities, which you can see in the "Remaining Points" field next to the officer's category. There are 3 abilities for each category, and each provides a different effect. In general, every point you spend on an ability increases its effectiveness by around 0.1%, or 1% for every 10 points spent (Note: these percentages are based on a morale value of 120%. More on that in a moment). The abilities and their effects are listed here, by category:
- Rapid Fire: Decreases the reload time of your guns. 0.1% reduction to reload time per point spent. Note this does NOT affect torpedo launchers.
- Accuracy: Increases the accuracy of your guns by reducing your shell spread.
- Launcher: Reduces the reload time of your torpedo launchers, DC racks, and mine launchers. 0.1% reduction in reload time per point spent.
- Maintenance: Increases your ship's defense power, meaning greater damage mitigation.
- Repair: Increases your ship's repair rate (Note: your ship's repair rate begins at 0 dp/s, and tends to increase in increments of around 5DP/s, meaning you won't actually see your ship repair in battle until you've spent enough points in the repair ability to meet the first threshold).
- Engine: Increases your ship's overheat duration, as well as dive time for subs. +0.1% overheat duration and dive time per point spent.
- Occupy: Increases the landing force power of your ship -- the amount of damage you do to a base when capturing it with your landing forces. +0.1% cap damage per point spent. Also affects paratroopers.
- Anti-Submarine: Increases sonar duration and reduces sonar cooldown time. +0.1% duration and -0.1% cooldown time per point spent.
- Dive: Makes it more difficult for your sub to be detected by enemy sonar while submerged.
- Intercept: Increases the air-to-air damage dealt by that pilot's aircraft.
- Evasion: Increases that pilot's ability to avoid shots from enemy aircraft and AAW.
- Bombing: Increases the accuracy of automatic bombing. Does not affect manual bombing.
As mentioned earlier, you get 1 point to spend on an ability every time your officer levels up, and just like your captain, they have a level cap of 100. Credit officers begin with 1 point in each ability, while premium officers will have an additional 30 points in whatever their particular specialty is. For example, a credit-bought weapons officer will start with 1 point in rapid fire, accuracy, and launcher abilities, while a premium rapid fire officer will start with 31 points in rapid fire, and 1 point in the other two abilities. This may seem like quite the disproportionate advantage over those who use credit officers, but fret not -- abilities for all officers, both credit and premium, cap out at 100. This means that with a premium officer, you hit that 100 ability cap faster, and then have an extra 30 points to spend elsewhere.
For all categories except aviation, your officer's ability is treated cumulatively, meaning that the ability of all your officers is added together, and this cumulative value is then what affects your ship. If you unlock the extra slots in a given category using your captain, you'll be able to have 5 officers in that category (or 7, for aviation). However, just as each officer is capped at 100 ability, cumulative ability is also capped. The caps**, as given by the GMs, are as follows:
Reload: 360** Accuracy: 480** Launcher: 360**
Maintenance: 360** Repair: 420** Engine: 360**
Occupation 300** Anti-sub: 300** Diving: 300**
In other words, even if you have 5 weapon officers each maxed out to 100 accuracy, their cumulative effect can only go as high as 480. **Some players have reported better performance by exceeding these caps, and it may be that these caps only apply when morale is maxed at 200%. One example: a Tier 9 sub with all officers at 130% morale gave a dive time of 2 min 35 sec with Engine at 360 and 2 min 48 sec with Engine at 440. This is roughly 8% increase from exceeding the cap by 80 points.
Aviation officers' ability does not depend on cumulative total. Unlike with other categories, aviation officers are treated as individuals, meaning that the abilities of your aviation officers are not totaled together. Rather, each officer represents an individual pilot, and their ability is tied only to them. This distinction is most visible when you mouse over the various categories on the captain information panel in the harbor view:
As you can see, the position of your aviation officers also corresponds to their squad number in-battle, with the far left being squad 1 (controlled by hitting F1), and the far right being squad 7 (controlled by hitting F7).
Morale is the other major component, besides points spent on ability, which determines the effectiveness of your officers. The more morale your sailors have, the more effective their abilities will be. Remember those yellow and brown bars on the bottom left of the Officer Window? They're a visual representation of your officers' cumulative ability. The yellow portion of the bar represents your officer's effectiveness based on their current morale level, while the brown portion represents their maximum potential effectiveness if they were to attain the maximum possible morale of 200%. The yellow and brown bars you find on the officer ability screen mean the same thing, but for that individual officer rather than the total value of all your officers of that category.
Contrary to what some might think, morale is not a flat percentage boost to your officer's ability. In other words, 100% morale doesn't necessarily mean a 100% boost to your officers' ability. Rather, morale becomes exponentially more effective the more of it you have, with the maximum of 200% morale boosting your sailors ability roughly threefold, according to some tests. More information can be found in EdenSion's notes about morale.
Back on your officer's ability screen, you'll see a blue bar underneath the officer's portrait which displays their current morale. Mouse over this bar to get a precise reading of your current and maximum morale values for that officer. Every victory in battle increases your morale, and every loss decreases it. Since you lose automatically if you leave a battle before its end, it's a good idea to remain in battle even if you die unless you're certain that your team will lose, so as to prevent losing too much morale. By default, your officers will have a maximum morale of 120%.
You can also increase your officers' current and max morale through items in the store bought with credits or gold. The plus sign icon next to the morale bar on the officer ability screen acts as a shortcut to use any of these bought items you might have stored in your supply depot, or to purchase them directly without needing to open the store window. Given the extremely high credit and gold cost associated with using these items in any meaningful quantity, however, it is generally recommended that you do not use them. They are intended as end-game customizations, primarily targeted at those who will engage in fleet vs. fleet combat at a high level, when that gamemode is released.
These items, found in the "Officer Support" section of the "support" tab in the store, can be a bit confusing at first. Some cost gold, others do not. Some are temporary, others are permanent. All have different effects. The breakdown goes a little something like this:
- Medic: Increases the morale of an officer by 5% for the next battle. Cannot raise an officer's current morale above its maximum morale.
- Basic Training: Permanently increases an officer's current maximum morale by between 0.5% and 10%. However, it has a high chance to fail. When it fails, it increases current morale as opposed to maximum morale.
- Advanced Training: Permanently increases an officer's maximum morale by between 0.5% and 10%. Unlike Basic Training, Advanced Training has a 100% success rate.
- Patriotism: Purchasable in 2-day or 7-day increments, Patriotism locks an officer's current morale, preventing them from losing morale due to lost battles. Cannot be used in conjunction with items like Basic Training and Advanced Training.
- Triumph: Purchasable in 2-day or 7-day increments, Triumph boosts an officer's morale to 170%. Cannot be used in conjunction with items like Basic Training and Advanced Training.
On that note, you'll notice several item slots underneath the morale bar on an officer's ability screen. These slots are where you equip the Patriotism and Triumph items, and they function pretty much identically to the equipment slots on your ship. Again, however, do note that the credit or gold cost associated with using these items in the quantities necessary to produce a meaningful change in your crew is prohibitively expensive, and something intended as end-game content. Do NOT bother with any of these items if you're new to the game.
Planning Ahead Edit
Since you want to spend as much time as you can leveling the greatest number of crew, and since you only have so many points to spend on your captain, it's important to plan ahead for the type of crew that you'll ultimately want. Decide from an early stage what play style fits your preferences, and use that to decide which ship class or classes you'll want to play, primarily. The ship classes guide can help you figure out what you might be interested in.
NF2's universal crew system does make it much easier to play multiple different lines than was the case in NF1, but ideally your crew should be customized for one, specific role, rather than trying to generalize for every possible class of ship (Note: You may notice that my crew, pictured above, does not reflect this philosophy at all. That is because I am a colossal scrub. Do as I say, not as I do ;p). However, if you find yourself having difficulty deciding what class you'd like to play, do note that there is at least some overlap in terms of what crews work for what classes. For example, a BB crew and a CA crew will look very similar in terms of the types of officers and abilities that each require.
At the moment, there isn't really a hard-and-fast meta as to how best to spend your ability points. You'll hear different opinions as to whether or not you should go all-in on one ability in each category, as well as which abilities you should be spending on. You can find a few suggestions in Royale's Crew Guide, as well as in our ship classes guide (eventually), but ultimately it's something you'll have to play around with, get wrong a bit, and figure out for yourself based on your own preferences.
It's expected that you will make some mistakes with your crew, but don't worry. Although a proper crew is important to your success, and can often help you out in a pinch, individual player skill will almost always outweigh the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of a crew. Quite opposite from NF1, it is entirely possible to be competitive at a high level even with an awful crew.
The Captain Edit
Your captain is a vital component of your crew, and someone who also requires a lot of forethought. Like your officers, your captain has a number of abilities on which you can spend points every time he levels up. Spending these points allows you to unlock the extra basic slots for your crew of a certain category. Therefore, it's important to decide from early on what kind of crew you want so none of your captain's points go to waste.
To manage your captain, right-click his portrait while in harbor and you'll be able to access the Captain Information screen:
Here, you'll see various information about your captain, including his current level, name, number of wins, number of games played, winrate, fleet affiliation, and progress to the next level. You can also change his name and reset your winrate, from this screen. The "season point" and "honor point" values are simply based on the number of battles you've played, at the moment, and may or may not have different functionality in the future. Currently (early 2015), there is also a glitch where this value is reset every time you enter a tutorial room. This is also the value which determines your fleet contribution points (sadly, you cannot view your own fleet contribution while online), and which thereby determines the overall fleet rankings.
Below this information, you'll see the captain's abilities, which might look familiar -- they correspond to the various categories of officer that make up your crew. Spending points on these abilities allows you to unlock the extra basic officer slots in that particular category. Taking the above screenshot as an example, I've spent 40 points on my captain's "support" ability, which means I've unlocked both of the extra "support" officer slots for my crew.
The captain also has one extra ability which doesn't correspond to a type of officer: the "command" ability. Spending points on this ability increases your chances of being selected as the flagship at the beginning of a battle. Due to the importance of unlocking extra crew slots and the total lack of room for error with regard to spending points on your captain, it is recommended that you do not spend points on the "command" ability. This applies especially to newer players, who might not yet have enough of a grasp of the game and its meta to take on the responsibilities of being the flagship and of using its powers effectively.
As with your officers, you can also spend gold to reset and re-spec your captain's ability points by clicking the "reset" button.
The last component of your crew is the aide. Aides provide a small bonus to one of three categories: Ship exp, Captain exp, and Credit income. All aides are purchased from the store under the "aide" section of the "officer" tab, and last for 2 days. Aides purchased with credits will provide a 5% bonus, while gold-purchased aides provide a bonus of 15%. Such a slight bonus might not sound like much, but it can add up to quite the significant difference over the course of an entire grind!
Since aides have to be purchased and re-purchased so frequently, it's better to run without one for a little while if you're new to the game. Once you're in a mid-tier ship and financially stable, however, you can have one constantly equipped to suit your needs. To equip an aide once you've purchased one, open your officer window by clicking the "battle station" button in harbor. Underneath your captain, you'll see an officer simply called "operator," when you're running without an aide. Click this operator to swap him out for the aide you bought from the store, and you're good to go:
With your aide in place, your crew is now complete.