Author Topic: Towards Equal Representation of Pilot Tools Amongst Non-pilot Crew Members  (Read 1324 times)

Offline TruWolf

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TruWolf discusses the functionality of various pilot tools. He compares and contrasts the range finder with the spyglass. He provides arguments in favour of increased usage of the range finder, detailing those situations in which it is of great benefit. He discusses the potential for crew members carrying helm-specific tools.
This discourse will be split into two thesis. The first is that the range finder is effective in serious play. The second that crew members can bring helm tools to great effect in serious play.
All discussion from this point assumes serious play, that is, play in which the intention is to be as effective as possible. Viability of ship builds or crew roles themselves in high level play will not be discussed.

The Range Finder

In order to begin our discussion of the two sighting tools we must first understand the similarities and differences between them. This is summarised in the table below
Spyglass exclusiveSharedRange Finder exclusive
Left click to mark enemy ship, creating a box marker visible to all ships on the team, additionally creates a minimap indicatorRight click to activate zoom
Mouse-wheel to change zoom level (up to three times - x4, x8 and x16 magnification)
While scoped gives the exact
distance from target to self
While targeting all crew members on guns will receive an indicator letting them know if their gun is in range and how to compensate for target lead and projectile drop
For the uninitiated I will briefly explain some finer properties of the range finder’s targeting indicator. First, the targeting indicator only appears if the gun on which one is is in range. Second, the targeting indicator has a residual effect. It does not disappear instantly upon un-scoping the range finder. Third, the targeting indicator does not compensate for the projectile speed of the ammunition currently loaded.
A brief examination of the range finder’s properties could perhaps convince one that it is at least minimally useful. However, upon closer examination we see that the targeting indicator, in terms of assisting gunners in landing shots, is of little use. Expert gunners are able to lead their shots without any outside assistance, furthermore, relying on this indicator would involve having an entire crew member dedicated to keeping the enemy targeted with their range finder. Moreover, the distance from self to target can be obtained through the spyglass, as “it is possible to tell the approximate range when looking at the mini map and comparing the distance between the (spyglass) spotted and the own ship to the map squares”1. Thus the only two unique properties of the range finder are its ability while scoped to give the exact distance between the target to self and a targeting indicator that tells gunners if their gun is in range. In answering the question of whether or not the range finder is effective we need only ask if these properties are useful. These two properties can largely be discussed as one; the ability to know precisely if a gun is within its maximum range. However, in terms of this property being effective, we must first ask if a gun is effective at its maximum range, or rather, which guns are effective at their maximum range. Following is a list of guns (with an ammo type included if that ammo type facilitates its effectiveness at its maximum range) that I believe are effective at their maximum range, I will not give any arguments supporting that they are effective at their maximum range. I will simply use this list as a means of furthering my discussion.
  • Barking Dog Light Carronade
  • Beacon Flare Gun (heavy clip)
  • Dragon Tongue Light Flamethrower
  • Whirlwind Light Gatling Gun
  • Hellhound Heavy Twin Carronade (heavy clip)
So for which of these guns is an estimate, as can be obtained through the spyglass, sufficient. It is important to note that for two of these guns - the Dragon Tongue Light Flamethrower and the Whirlwind Light Gatling Gun - the clip sizes are sufficiently large that singular test shots can be fired to ascertain whether or not the gun is in range, thus the range finder is not advantageous for these guns. Moreover, to avoid the stigma associated with the Beacon Flare Gun and it’s viability as a combat weapon I will cease to discuss it from this point onwards. Due to the small clip sizes of both the carronades, especially the heavy carronade, firing too early (due to incorrectly estimating the range because of the inherent inaccuracies in either a visual estimate or a spyglass based estimate) can be of great detriment. However, holding fire until one is certain that one is in range can be just as costly. At serious high level play it is undoubtedly true that seconds can mean the difference between victory or defeat. For these guns then, “a range finder is also a viable choice to determine whether a weapon is in range or not”2.
However, in justifying any tool usage we must examine not only arguments in favor of its use, but any objections or drawbacks involved in its use. Pilot tools on non-pilot crew members are limited to one per crew member, thus, for this case, we must prove that a given pilot tool is the best, or most advantageous in terms of being effective. Since the range finder does not in and of itself have any drawbacks in examining the objections to its use we need only consider the advantages that other pilot tools have which the range finder lacks. For this purpose I will examine only the current standard, the spyglass. The mark that a spyglass initiates on an enemy ship is of undoubtedly of great benefit. It enables not only the estimation of distance as previously discussed, but also greatly assists in a pilot’s maneuvering and in a gunner’s accuracy. However, the mark is visible to all players on the team, and thus a spyglass is not required per se to utilise this mark. A spyglass’ full potential can be realised with only one spyglass per ship. Multiple spyglasses per ship undoubtedly assist in quickly and efficiently marking enemy ships with minimal impact on other crew roles, however, it would only require minimal communication, to achieve the same benefits with fewer spyglasses (indeed statements such as “spot fish south-west low” etc. are already often used by pilots, who do not typically carry a spyglass - it is not hard to imagine a non-pilot crew member using similar statements to communicate with a spyglass carrying crew member). Thus we see that the only objection to a range finder is the trivial objection that it would require a minimal amount of crew communication, something that is already seen in serious play.
If the range finder has benefits that the current standard, the spyglass, does not have and if the objections to its usage are trivial then we can conclude that a player would be justified in its use, or rather that the range finder has a place in serious high level play.
For the sake of ease of access, following is a description of how to utilise the residual targeting indicator to great effect. While stationed near a gun that is not currently in range, but, due to the movements of the both the target ship and your own, is about to be, use the range finder to give the exact distance between the target to self. When the gun is close to being in range (this is up to your own judgement and is of course dependant on the relative speeds of both ships) hit ‘E’ to get on the gun. The targeting indicator will appear as soon as the gun is in range, at this point, fire (note that there will also be a residual distance from target to self, however this distance does not update and should therefore be ignored). In this way the range finder can be utilised to precisely determine if your own gun is in range, and thus enable you to fire as soon as possible.

Crew Members with helm tools

If the range finder can be considered a serious alternative to the spyglass for non-pilot crew members then is it possible that there are other alternatives? Many would say that “engineers and gunners can bring only one piloting tool. And since they are usually not on the helm, only a sighting tool makes sense”3, however the key word here is ‘usually’. While a pilot is able to bring more pilot tools than non-pilot crew members they are still fundamentally limited to 3 pilot tools. It is well established that access to more helm tools is beneficial, this is both why players using the pilot class are expected to take the helm and why “the pilot is advised to have other helm tools instead of the spyglass”4. It follows then that access to additional helm tools, i.e. exceeding the pilot’s limit of three, would be beneficial.
Non-pilot crew members are capable of bringing helm tools, however, “like all helm tools [they are] only useful for the player flying the ship”5. Thus in order to utilise this extra helm tool the pilot must vacate the helm and the non-pilot crew member must move to the helm. Thus in justifying a non-pilot crew member bringing a helm tool we must weigh up the advantages of said tool with the disadvantage associated with said crew member moving to and using the helm. For most pilot tools, those which are only active as long as they are being actively used, the scales tip strongly against non-pilot crew members bringing helm tools, the time spent away from other vital duties is generally not worth the comparatively small benefit associated with the pilot tool. However, for the subset of helm tools that do have some kind of residual effect - the time spent away from other vital duties dramatically decreases. Moreover, if the non-pilot crew member is fulfilling a role that brings them in close proximity to the helm then the time spent away from their duties drops once more. While, as previously discussed, the loss of a singular spyglass while there are others aboard the ship is not of particular detriment the loss of a sighting tool altogether does remove that crew members ability to utilise the zoom ability of sighting tools. Since this zoom ability can be used to penetrate cloud cover a loss of a sighting tool will result in a reduction of the sighting potential of a ship. This consideration is highly map dependant and likely of little actual consequence it is nonetheless something worth considering. While non-pilot crew members bringing helm tools should be evaluated on a case by case basis it is not unreasonable to suppose that there are some, or perhaps many situations in which it would be effective. Following is a list of ships and the associated crew roles that have the potential to be effective non-pilot crew members that carry a helm tool.
  • Goldfish - top engineer
  • Junker - top engineer
  • Galleon - top engineer
  • Spire - top engineer(s)
  • Mobula - gunner
  • Shrike - gunner


1. Lueosi (2015) Range Finder | Guns of Icarus Online Wiki | Fandom powered by Wikia

2. Lueosi (2015) Gunner | Guns of Icarus Online Wiki | Fandom powered by Wikia

3. Lueosi (2015) Category:Equipment | Guns of Icarus Online Wiki | Fandom powered by Wikia

4. Zblezble (2015) Spyglass | Guns of Icarus Online Wiki | Fandom powered by Wikia

5. Lueosi (2015) Chute Vent | Guns of Icarus Online Wiki | Fandom powered by Wikia

tl;dr bring range finder on carrofish

Offline Daft Loon

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In the testing for the shrike I think there were a few people bringing tar as a fourth pilot tool on the gunner with some success or at least enjoyment.

Impact bumpers are also usually passed over but devastating in the right situation, having an engineer jump onto helm for 1 second to activate them could be viable with good co-ordination.

Offline SteamBrains

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Interesting things I've tried is double gunner double engie pyra. The two gunners each have hades and since they have more versitility with ammo types it's more effective. This way the two engineers switch out on the helm (one with claw the other with shine or Kero) it's a bit weird with that setup but could kind of be adapted into a captain double gunner engie. If anything it was fun to be switching on and off the helm, probably not the most efficient but it's something to be refined.