Cutlass Isle Tutorial: Fencing Academy

(Tutorial by Rupertlittlebear)

Zatoichi Gives Instruction.

NOTE; You can find the applicable Fencing Academy practice files at the Mods section

Lesson #1

The first thing a student needs to learn is how to win. You win by driving your opponent backwards until he surrenders or jumps overboard.

If you have enough speed, from youth, skill or equipment, you can afford the pure attack strategy. For most of the difficulty levels in Pirates, this works 98+% of the time.


I lost my first couple of sword fights because my opponents were incredibly quick, and I haven't yet mastered the various defensive and offensive maneuvers on the keypad.

My new strategy: just keep whacking #4. This may not work beyond Apprentice level, but for a newbie with one day (real time) of play, it's been a thrill to see two enemy captains jump overboard!


Try #1 instead of #4. ONLY use the Rapier. This will work reliably all the way through level 4, Rogue Level.

Really. Very few opponents will outlast you.

The problem with this technique is that you never learn how to swordfight. This makes level 5 a real Bear. Of course the default skill (Swordfighting) helps too.


I've found continuously using the '1' key with the Rapier still works at Swashbuckler level. Admittedly I had the Fencing skill and all fencing items as well. The secret is to never let up the attack. I was able to win every battle until finally old age caught up with me.

This strategy only works when you can defeat your opponent before your misses stun you into a stupor. Speed is your technique and only ally.

This concludes our first lesson. Now your homework is to practice and see how this works for you.

Suggest you try these files for this assignment:

  • Adventurer_allgear_skill
  • Rogue_allgear_skill
  • Swashbuckler_allgear_skill

Lesson #2

More complex maneuvers are used when speed alone is not enough.


The best defense is good offense. Your thrust with a rapier is the fastest attack, All he can do is defend or thrust back. When you land a blow then go for the chop or cut his knees off with the slash. My favorite move is to faint the perry, he will taunt, and I immediately thrust. It lands nearly every time. Thats a quick 5-4 on the keypad in rapid sucsession. Too fast it fails, too slow it wont work, so a little practice is needed but its not hard to master the timing. A little harder move is to faint the slash and thrust when he swings back on the rope. This drills him good. Happy swashbuckling!


With the "special moves" - the hero doing a back flip or swinging on a rope to avoid an attack, you don't have to press a key to make a counter-attack, or a thrust, for you will perform one automatically.

To achieve a "special move" you merely have to press 8 or 2 as soon as you see the enemy draw back for the corresponding attack. You can practice this with the slower enemies rather easily...

Carlos Lezama

The rapier thrust is the basic technique. Good at the start, when you havenít got the balanced swords, the shirt and all that. However later in the game you'll need some advanced techniques, like reacting to enemy moves (if he makes a high slash, press "2" and later, thrust!, etc...) or just anticipate to him (with a rapier, if you both attack at the same time, you'll hit first). Also the "press #7 then #1" tech works nice, too...


I think I have an easy way to defeat your opponent when fencing. Don't just rush in hacking & slashing and thrusting. Wait for your opponent to make the first move.

If he starts to swing across his body hit the jump (8 ) button, then after he swings hit the chop (7) or slash (1).

If he starts to swing back hit duck (2) then do the same.

If he starts a thrust either parry (5) or thrust yourself. If you have the armor or leather vest thrust late and his thrust will be deflected, but yours will hit.

You can also get an extra hit in if after you hit him with a thrust or chop hit slash at the moment you hit him and you can usually get an extra hit in. Happy Pirating!

This assignment is harder so first practice with your known swordsman from:

  • Adventurer_allgear_skill
  • Rogue_allgear_skill
  • Swashbuckler_allgear_skill

Then try making it a little bit harder with:

  • Adventurer_allgear
  • Rogue_allgear
  • Swashbuckler_allgear

Lesson #3

See how different opponents react to your skills.


What if the guy can really fight? Heh, heh, heh, then you'd better be able to really fight TOO. No gadget or trick is going to get you past this feller.

The "upgrades" are critical when you reach middle age. They don't give you an added boost. They do keep you fighting like you were a youngster (somewhat). The important thing to do is understand your own guy's timing. How fast can he unload a shot. The slashing attack, or the attack to the head, and the lashing attack, the attack to the lower extremities, take a moment to load-up. If you're rather slow at this, it gives the target time to unload a thrust on you, and being in the middle of setting-up an attack, a sudden punch on a defensive button won't work for you. He'll catch you in midswing, and every move you make afterward, will be just a hair too slow, allowing your target to unleash a flurry that rolls you back.

Having the cuirass will, and I usually have it with the shirt and vest beneath, absorb without a defensive MOVE the thrust attack. This gives you a free moment to load up on the guy. You'll hear a mettalic "ching" when this happens. I've had a lot of luck with, at that moment, using a slash or lash, followed by a thrust. He'll invariably make the correct move to avoid the first, but the thrust is so fast, he won't setup fast enough to defend, and you can land that one. Having done so, you momentarily get HIM in the position of being out of synch. This is when you should press forward the attack. It's a narrow opening, and it closes fast.

As in dancing, timing is everything; anticipation is lethal. You may be correct in your guess of his next move, but if you don't react in time with his movement, (say if you jump a bit too soon against a slash - you'll land just in time to be hit by it) then you are out of synch and he's got a slight edge in the timing, setup - execute - setup - execute.

So, just as you have to follow the little lady's hand gestures whilst dancing, you must watch the opponent carefully and use how he loads up for a swing as your key to which button to press. This is where being aware of your character's timing comes in. IF you see the opponent reeling backward, and you can unload quickly enough, you should. IF YOU KNOW he's vulnerable, but you just don't have the juice, lay off and continue the ching-ching-standoff until you get a real opening.

When that opening happens, wade into the guy. The AI seems to read if you use the same attack (thrust-thrust-thrust) and your opponent will soon enough get the right defense up ending your opportunity. So, mix it up. Thrust, lash, slash, lash, slash, thrust. Or some other wicked combo.

The thing is, if you get too accustomed to pounding down in quick succession these less-skilled merchant sea captains, then try to bring that method to a real swordsman, he'll eat your lunch. So, when you have an easy prey before you, rather than humiliating him altogether, it's likely a good time to practice combinations of attacks for later use against the guy, and he's surely coming, who knows what he's doing.

Timing is everything in dance and swordplay. Concentrate on your partner's moves. React in synch. The rest depends on what HE/SHE does. Good luck out there.


Using the wrong defense for a certain attack pushes you back, the rules are in the manual. Your location on the ship has no relevance, but if you're stunned(the halo around your head) from getting your attacks blocked repeatedly, you will block significantly slower.

Missing a high/low attack with a low/high block knocks you back 2 spaces. Missing a mid attack with a high/low block knocks you back 1 space. Blocking a high/low attack with a mid block knocks you back 1 space.

Special items such as buckets and blades found on the ships are used automatically when you are near them when pressing the appropriate button. To use ground items, you low attack when standing over them. Rope is likely a special move, requiring a high block and a high attack. Unfortunately I haven't played with them enough to know the timing. The same would be true for the backwards flip lunge thing, a low block with a low attack.


So when you get tired of wiping pirate blood off your rapier, try this one...

After every successful block during a duel, taunt your opponent instead of making a counter-attack. The advantage bar will shift all the way in your favor (I have actually seen 100% advantage) and the enemy crew will drop quicker. When they are down to one crew, give your opponent the thrust and accept his surrender!

I don't think I would suggest this as a standard tactic, but it might be worth adding to your list of "alternate" tactics. And if you don't taunt, it helps thin out your mutinous crew!

Again after trying this with your familiar main character, try these to make it harder:

  • Adventurer_nogear_withskill
  • Rogue_nogear_withskill
  • Swashbuckler_nogear_withskill

Lesson #4

Which sword is right for you?


The longsword is the average sword, both in attack and defense.

Rapier has a quick attack but slow defense.

Cutlass has a slow attack (being rather short in length) and quick defense.

And my choice to use rapier is based on the fact that my privateer is a man who fights both on land and at sea and rapier suits both purposes (whereas a cutlass might easily get you killed in a land duel).


Having a laptop, I don't have a complete numpad. This means that I've become rather adept at swordfighting with a trackball...

I'm for the cutlass all-the-way. Sometimes, when I'm not especially worried about losing a given battle - like attacking a trade galleon or merchantman - I switch to the longsword or rapier. But I can't stand not being in tight control of my defenses. With the rapier, I feel like there's no sense in trying to block at all, and that I always have to counter an offensive with an offensive (which rarely works, except for thrust vs thrust).

With a cutlass, you have to work the fact that it's primarily a defensive weapon to your advantage. Every time you block one of the opponent's moves, there is a considerable gap in which they are susceptible to a nice quick thrust. It makes for slow going - last night I fought my Petit-Goave beauty's fiancee for twenty-five straight minutes, and ultimately lost - but at the end there's the sense of satisfaction that comes from realizing you haven't just been mashing buttons.

seedless grape

I fight him on rapier on swashbuckler and he never gets a hit. You need to learn to fake. I always thrust for each attack, and if he moves to block I put it into a slash or chop - he in particular will always block it seems.

On the higher level they will practically always instantly move to block, but as soon as they do you can land the slash and it works out pretty well. I had a devil of a time at first dealing with some of them but that seems to be the best method.

For the merchants I still just alternate chops and slashes with no problem, and with the military boys the fake thrust is king too.

After mastering this phase, you should be ready to try the ultimate challenge:

  • Apprentice_noskill_nogear
  • Journeyman_noskill_nogear
  • Adventurer_noskill_nogear
  • Rogue_noskill_nogear
  • Swashbuckler_noskill_nogear

If you want to make this absolutely difficult, you can get try these:

  • Adventurer_aged
  • Rogue_aged
  • Swashbuckler_aged

This concludes our lessons at the Cutlass Isle Fencing Academy. We hope you have as much fun fencing as we had bringing this to you.