Ranked PvP Guide (2018)

I’m going to cut to the chase. I’m Matthew, I’ve been doing pvp on buckler successfully for about a year and half, and this is a guide to buckler pvp. Buckler is a super fun class to pvp on. Even though I have multiple max pirates, I’ve found buckler to be my favorite. Using this guide does not require previous pvp experience. I hope this guide inspires some of you to try out buckler pvp!  🙂

Why Swashbuckler?

  • Crown and pack companions/gear are not necessary to be successful in ranked pvp (I will recommend and show some setups that feature them in this guide, however)
  • Buckler is arguably the most balanced class in pvp currently, and is thus unlikely to be a candidate for major changes (more specifically a nerf) in future updates. I’m looking at you buccaneers and privateers.
  • Remember when you complained non-stop about how broken Black Fog was? (Don’t lie, you did) Now you get to abuse… I mean use… it!
  • The learning curve isn’t particularly steep. Unlike, say, witchdoctor, learning how to pvp on buckler isn’t insanely time consuming and frustrating


Setting up your character

1. Character Creation

Skip this part if you already made a swashbuckler. If not, read on.

  • Parent death- This doesn’t really matter all too much. You probably won’t be using your presidio companion all too much in PvP. Armada gets you Gaspard de Vole, who I’ve been told is quite adept at countering summons. Lost and Thunderstorm get you Lucky Jack and Milo respectively. They’re essentially privateer and swashbuckler versions of Subodai/Temujin, minus the tide 2 and reduce accuracy attack. Cool and fun companions for sure, but they’ll have niche use at best. Just don’t pick Giant Squid or Mutiny, Birgus and Mike are incredibly lackluster.
  • Place of Origin- Krokotopia is the only option for PvP. If you’re level 10 or under and picked the wrong place of origin, I’d recommend restarting. Krokotopia is that much better than everywhere else. It can easily net you +250-300 damage in a match, plus a good bit of extra health on your heals.
  • Inhuman Resources Companion- If at all possible, DO NOT redeem Fan until you reach max level. Questing a buckler isn’t that hard, you can do without her. This will give you a level 71 Fan, and those (marginally) increased stats are great to have.


2. PvP Practice Points

At max level you have access to 21 practice points. I highly recommend the following for PvP:

  • Privateer Powers: Gunnery, Rouse, Valor’s Shield (3 pts)- Quintessential pvp powers. Don’t leave home without them
  • Privateer Talents: All through Elusive 2 (6 pts)- Simply put, you won’t win without elusive’s extra dodge. A lot our viable weapon options are slashy, so slashy 2 provides a nice damage increase as well
  • Buccaneer Talents: All through Smashy 2 (4 pts)- Enables us to train relentless and gives a damage buff to some of our weapon options
  • Witchdoctor Talents: All through Spooky 2 (5 pts)- Arguably the most useful pvp talents for any class, the spooky line increase our poison and bleed damage and buffs our heals. Staffy 2 enables us to train witch hunter
  • Secret Trainers: Relentless and Witch Hunter (2 pts)- Relentless is free damage and Witch Hunter makes all but the best witchdoctors helpless once we get next to them. Get these.
  • The last point can go towards one of these three: Forbiddance, Ghostwail, or Mighty Charge- Currently, I prefer Ghostwail, since it is generally the most useful, but Mighty Charge will be the best option for when the next level expansion comes out, assuming that expansion has 10 levels and/or a Zeke quest.
  • A side note- If you are dead set on using a “hybrid” setup w/ maximum chains you can replace witch hunter, the second rank of spooky, and your “last point” choice with shooty 1-2 and burst fire and obtaining a witch hunter grant on your pet. I don’t recommend starting out with this, since it will prevent you from having an ideal melee setup should you decide to switch back to melee. In addition, witch hunter grants are tough to get on your pet and buckler really doesn’t need to rely on relent 2 burst 2 in order to win.

3. Preparing to Enter Ranked PvP

So you now have a max level buckler with all your training points properly spent. What next?


– Buckler isn’t particularly flexible with its gear options in PvP. You need a certain amount of protection buffs and heals (3 forts or absorbs and 1-2 revives), and they only appear in specific slots. Still, there is some choice, especially with weapons. Recommendations are listed in order, starting from the most ideal piece of gear



Tantojutsu Headband-Drops from Friar Sand. This is the most popular hat choice for swash PvP. It provides one of the 3 forts you need.


Gambler’s Stetson- Drops from Thunderhead in Cool Ranch. Some players prefer to replace one (and only one) of their forts with an absorb. This can be a good idea if timed correctly, since you can use it to stay in elusive/tide, forcing your opponent to waste powers breaking it. As a general rule, it shouldn’t be used when above half health.


Gladiator’s Galea- From the Empire Bundle. This option gives the best stats of the 3 options listed, but it’s not a particularly popular choice to sacrifice a fort. You can get away with it though. DO NOT USE A BAZAAR OR OTHER NO AUCTION REVIVE HOOD Drops from Moo Tower.

Corrupted Samurai’s Haratare-This is a better choice than Tantojutsu, only if you have the Stormzilla’s Egg. I include this at the bottom since the Egg is a pain to farm



Shaolinquan Vestment- Most popular choice for PvP. Drops from Friar Sand, but if you’re lazy, a bazaar version exists with health and armor or magic resist


Chlamys of Bellerophron- Dropped from Kane and various Aquila bosses. This is a good option only if you are going hybrid. I’m not sure where an ideal place to farm this is, it’s quite rare.



Shoes of Faunus-Dropped from Sssiva. Fort slot #2. Pretty self-explanatory


Boots of Sanctuary-Dropped from Friar Sand. Same as above, but you gain some agility, and sacrifice a bit of dodge and weapon power. If you like your crits, this may be a better option



I assume here that you don’t have a spring or fall champion PvP weapon. I’d use spring and probably a fall weapon over all these choices, if you have one from another character


Haywire Royal Poignard-Dropped from Dreadnaught. This and the Haywire Fencer set are the two best non-crown, pure melee weapons for swash PvP.


Boarding Knives-Crowns alternative to the haywire melee weapons in PvP. The assassin is more consistent damage than the strikes and the bleed is helpful to push through that last bit of damage.


Haywire Armada Blade-Dropped by Dreadnaught.  Only real option for hybrid buckler PvP imo. It’s also what I used when ranking up (I didn’t use any ranged talents with it, haywire shot alone is pretty op)

Other semi-viable, although not ideal, choices for weapons in PvP include:
  • Sea Sheller (Super Charge weapon)- With a rushing team, in ranked PvP, you can easily fog and rush your entire team to their pirate’s face and one hit them. Very preventable strategy on your opponent’s part, but awesome when executed successfully;
  • Dragon Axe of Doom- Against musket and witches who tend to have minimal armor and strength but high  magic resist and high to medium high agility, this physical damage, strength based weapon can make your chains very powerful. Plus who doesn’t love an extra rank of tide?;
  • Haywire Cultist Set- Although it’s a bit on the low end in terms of damage (a net decrease of 30 damage compared to most alternatives), this weapon is still quite powerful. Haywire strike can hit as hard as an assassin and surge of technomancy’s ability to remove a fort or absorb in the late game is a match changer.;
  • Beckett’s Blades (Ashes of the Armada pack, 399 crowns)- This is a possibly controversial opinion, but these blades are highly underrated for PvP. Although pure slashy means losing out on our stabby 3 bonus, this weapon does the damage equivalent of a 233 damage pure stabby weapon, which is more than respectable. Second chance is a high accuracy (it lands semi frequently through elusive), high damage epic, so this is definitely a viable option.



Asclepius’ Talisman- Dropped by Sssiva. This is the only truly good option for eyepatch in PvP. You already have a revive from your robe/charm, and St Fido’s patches aren’t worth it for us.



Ornament of Moo Manchu- This is the option the VAST majority of players go for in PvP. As with the ring, if you only have the level 55 or 60 version, that’s completely fine.


Stormzilla’s Egg-If you have the tower hat and this, use both of these rather than the fort hat and moo totem. Otherwise, don’t stress about getting this. Stormzilla is a pretty slow farm.



This is the best choice for PvP players just starting out. From Kane or Bishop. Most of your opponents won’t be able to counteract purge strats effectively, and fog+purge combos are game winners in ranked PvP. Once you get more experienced opponents, however, this really only becomes a necessity in the privateer matchup

charm2 swashbuckler ranked pvp

If you’re struggling to get purge, prefer a more defensive set, or just feel that you can win without purge, this is your best bet to PvP with. It’s kinda rare in the bazaar nowadays, so good luck



Best choice by far. Once again, level doesn’t matter, it’s a difference of 1-2 weapon power


I’ll elaborate more below, but here are some of the pets I’ve used. The kitty is a recent acquisition and represents a near-ideal pet, while the Macaw is much closer to a bare minimum and is what I used for almost all of my time ranking.



PvP pets are a pain in this game. Getting a good one takes a lot of time and a lot of luck. Here are the ‘tiers’ of some pet grants and abilities for buckler

Quintessential Talents

Grants Elusive- If your pet has nothing else, make sure it has this. Don’t even think about doing matches without it

Borderline Essentials:

Grants Rally, Grants Relentless- Grants elusive and these 2 talents make up the bare bones of any decent melee pet. You can get away with missing one of rally and relentless (especially relentless), but it’s not advisable

Highly Recommended:

Grants Turn the Tide (and Turn the Tide 1 Grant), Grants Kraken’s Lament, Grants Brutal Charge, Grants Burst Fire (Hybrid only) – Turn the tide is the closest thing to an essential of these 3 talents. The others are amazingly useful talents, but not worth obsessing over

Other Strong Options:

Grants Triton’s Song, Grants Backstab, Grants Rouse, Grants Bladestorm, Time Warp, Grants Cloud Spirit, Scent 2, Grants Witch Hunter, Rainbow Blessing, Grants Tough 2, Grants Soulreaver- These are the most frequently seen talents that I’d still consider to be “good” or useful. I’m sure there are more talents that belong on this list


Grants Dodgy 2, Grants Armored, Grants Resistant, Grants Rough, Grants First Strike, Grants Riposte- These talents either give little to no benefit to us, or are redundant. Try and avoid these whenever possible


Grants Repel Boarders, Grants Cheap Shot, Grants Flanking (and their ranged/magic equivalents if you are running hybrid)- These talents frequently break our hides and provide little to no actual benefit. They are the opposite of Grants Elusive. If your pet even has 1 of these, and everything else perfect, it’s unusable.



I’ll list each companion and their ideal setups, then go over some team combinations.

Free to Play companions
  • El Toro- First strike 3, Relent 2, Riposte 1; Rough 4, Tough 4, Dodgy 4, Accurate 4, Agile 1
  • Fan Flanders- First strike 3, Relent 2, Bladestorm 1, Flanking 1; Rough 4, Tough 4, Dodgy 4, Accurate 4, Agile 1
  • Contessa- First strike 3, Relent 1, Riposte 1; Rough 4, Tough 4, Dodgy 4, Accurate 4, Agile 1
  • Sarah Steele (check out Wolfy’s guide on her)- First strike 3, Bladestorm 2, Riposte 1, Repel Boarders 1; Rough 4, Tough 4, Dodgy 4, Accurate 4, Agile 1
  • Ratbeard- Hold the Line 3, First Strike 3, Bladestorm 2; Rough 4, Tough 4, Dodgy 4, Accurate 4, Strong 1
  • Subodai- Vengeance Strike 3, Relent 2, Bladestorm 2; Rough 4, Tough 4, Strong 4, Accurate 4, Dodgy 1
  • Bonnie Anne- Quick Draw 3, Double Tap 3, Burst 2; Rough 4, Tough 4, Agile 4, Accurate 4, Dodgy 1
  • Buffalo Bill- True Grit 3, Double Tap 2, Overwatch 1; Rough 4, Tough 4, Agile 4, Accurate 4, Dodgy 1
  • Old Scratch- Witch Hunter 1, Mojo Echo 3, Mojo Blast 3; Rough 4 Tough 4, Spooky 4, Accurate 4, Spirited


Crowns, Pack, and Bundle Companions:
  • Goronado- Vengeance Strike 3, Relent 2, Bladestorm 1; Rough 4, Tough 4, Strong 4, Accurate 4, Dodgy 1
  • Haywire Battle Angel- First strike 3, Relent 2, Flanking 1; Rough 4, Tough 4, Dodgy 4, Accurate 4, Agile 1
  • Nausica- True Grit 2/3, Burst 2, Double Tap 0/1; Rough 4, Tough 4, Agile 4, Accurate 4, Dodgy 2
  • Wagyu- First strike 3, Bladestorm 2, Relent 2; Rough 4, Tough 4, Dodgy 4, Accurate 4, Agile 1
  • Baar- Vengeance Strike 3, Relent 3, Bladestorm 1; Rough 4, Tough 4, Strong 4, Accurate 4, Dodgy 1
  • Temujin- Vengeance Strike 3, Relent 2, Bladestorm 2; Rough 4, Tough 4, Strong 4, Accurate 4, Dodgy 1
Companion setups

The companions are given in the order you should select them when queueing

  • Toro, Fan, (someone)- This is the most common setup you’ll encounter. Pretty much any unit I listed above can go in this third slot, with the exception of Bill and Scratch. If the third unit is a buck unit with vengeance 3 or Ratbeard, put that unit in the second slot. I generally run Toro, Fan, Battle Angel in ranked. Try to avoid fighting muskets with this setup, as Toro is a dead weight and Ratbeard is mediocre in this matchup.
  • Goro, Fan, Nausica- This is the second most common setup and is obviously one that requires crowns units. It’s great to bring in ranked when you see an influx of inexperienced bucklers or muskets in general. There are better anti-musket teams, but this is the best one that remains viable versus other classes. It’s generally played very aggressively, requiring an early Black Fog *** rush
  • Bill, Subodai, Fan- This is one example of a free to play anti-musket team. You’ll only want to run this when you’re sure you’ll fight a musket. You can replace Fan with Bonnie as well.
  • Bill, Nausica, Subodai/Fan- This is a crowns anti-musket team. You can replace the third slot with the Moonskull companion (Grit 3, Burst 2, Quick Draw 2) if you have her.
  • Toro, Scratch, Baar- This is a more advanced setup, that isn’t intended for newer players, but is fun to run nonetheless. The idea is that Scratch can buff our poisons and heals, as well as Baar’s Weasel War Dance abilities. Remember, you and Baar need to be adjacent to Scratch to get his buffs. In addition, Scratch now has a copy of Purge Magic, which can allow you to strip off buffs before Baar attacks your now defenseless opponents

Power setup

swashbuckler ranked pvp

Notes on Power Setup (replicate it as closely as possible):

  • Ghostwail is high up for early burst damage, discard fodder, or a nice way to test which of our opponent’s units have sight on us
  • If you trained Mighty Charge or Forbiddance, put them closer to the end of your setup
  • Purge is high to guarantee we have it when we need it, whether it be mid-late game or for an early game fog combo
  • Always keep a few slots between your forts if you decide to deviate from this setup. The same goes for heals and assassins
  • Back Stab is high so we have a medium-large hit coming out of fog if we don’t want to use an assassin super early
  • Hurl Knives is similar to Backstab in that it can be used coming out of fog as a nice aoe that doesn’t generally trigger epics or require a non-hidden unit on our opponent’s team, or late game coming out of a hide when our opponent attempts to time out our hide with their own.

Feel free to alter this setup as you see fit. Make sure to test every iteration for 3-5 matches before deciding whether to alter it some more or to keep it as is (Oh, and there’s no “magic spot” for fog. You’re no more likely to pull it in slot 3 or 4 or something than you are in to pull it in slot 1)

In the Match

You’ve set your buckler up, gotten its gear, and have a working companion and power setup. Now you’re ready to queue up and get a match. Here are some general and matchup-specific tips


  • When you enter the match, your first priority is checking your opponent’s class, their companion selection, and their epics. Also, make note of whether or not their companions can rush you immediately.
  • Speaking of rushing, here is a guide to movement range. All the info is accurate as of 2018. Learn ALL the information in this guide. It’s a lifesaver. It will inform you as to whether or not a given unit can reach you in any given round. http://www.pirate101central.com/forums/showthread.php?56849-Movement-Range-Guide-for-PvP
  • When rushing, assume your opponent has a pet with scent until you know they don’t. Don’t let a random pet spawn ruin the match. That’s not to say never rush, but just be wary.
  • When rushing with fog, there are two ways you can use it. You can either attack with 2-3 of your units immediately (probably using a Toro buff and letting the other 2 attack and guarantee a kill on a high-priority enemy unit) or you can wait around, advance and buff, then on the last round, hit!
  • Confirm the kill. This means that it’s always better to put an extra unit on an enemy unit to guarantee that your hit will kill, rather than assuming that it will “probably” kill.
  • Count your opponent’s powers. As you get more experienced, you will recognize that, for instance, a buckler normally has 3 forts, 3 assassins, and 1-2 revives. A privy has 5 forts, 1-2 assassins, and 3 revives. Note when one is used, and keep track of how many are likely left.
  • Assassin’s Shroud is great. Use it when a protection buff has 1 turn left and your opponent is low on shields or health. This is why purge is great to have. When they inevitably try to shield themselves (since under shroud they have no way of otherwise recovering), you can purge their protection right off.
  • Don’t use your team buffs (or any buff that is 5 or fewer rounds) on round one. This isn’t pve. Casting Toro and Fan’s buff, then meandering over to your opponent is a mistake. They will time out those buffs.

Matchup Specific


  • Never. Ever. Walk. Into. Hold. The. Line. Three. Got it? Good. Frenzy will kill you. Doesn’t matter how high your dodge is with elusive. Doesn’t matter that you have espirit. You. Will. Die.
  • On that same note, you can “walk through” barrels and your own units in order to approach a htl3 unit without triggering the dodge reduce.
  • When coming out of fog, never hit the opponent’s Pete with your pirate. Pete will likely have espirit and Whale’s might up. Pete will land on and stun you with vengeance 3 and then chain on you some more. Since your opponent is probably hidden and you are stunned, they can take advantage of the fact your first strike won’t trigger and get the double damage from their hide.
  • Assume the pirate can always reach you with a charge
  • If they are hybrid, beware uncanny shot. It has 5 range and reduces your dodge by 75%. If they frenzy you with that debuff up, you lose almost certainly.


  • Spread your companions out immediately. If that means you can’t fog, so be it. Blast of Discord is lethal, not to mention the fact that we don’t want to give them the ability to get more value on their bombs
  • Kill Emmett if they bring him. I hate that stupid otter so much. Kill him asap, he’s a pain if he’s left alive.
  • More generally, focusing on removing all their companions before killing their pirate is your best move unless you can definitively one-round their pirate.
  • Generally speaking, you don’t want to waste attacks on them when they’re above half health. You can land relents on them with ease. Let those do most of your work for you, saving your attack powers for when they’re below half.
  • If they summon trees or scorpions early on, killing their summons before focusing on their team is a smart idea.


  • This is my personal least favorite matchup, especially when they have Scratch. Running a grit 2-3 unit makes this matchup much more bearable
  • Never rush Nausica in completely on her own. They will kill her quite quickly, and it’ll be a 4v3.
  • Same rule as with privy. Kill the units, and then kill the pirate (unless you can certainly one-round the pirate).
  • They will run 1-2 absorbs and some will use them in the early game, especially if they have Scratch. These are primary targets for our purge or our/our companion’s surge of technomancy. If you don’t purge them, know that your hides will not break upon attacking them unless the absorb also breaks
  • Don’t assume that you will get relentless’es. You almost certainly won’t.
  • As I said before, Toro and Ratbeard are pretty bad in this matchup. Try not to run them whenever possible. If they run Ratbeard, know that Ratbeard can knock your pirate back into bombs and traps.
  • Whenever possible, don’t run through bombs. If they spam bombs and create a mini fortress early on, just time the bombs out. No reason to take unnecessary damage when you don’t have to


  • Witchdoctor is bad in this meta, largely due to witch hunter. Get adjacent to them, and you generally win by default.
  • They can force your witch hunter to trigger, breaking your hide, if you are next to them when you cast a hide. It’s not always a bad thing, especially if they have an absorb up.
  • The Ocuborous line of spells (there are 3) essentially functions as an assassin’s shroud, in that it prevents us from healing for 5 rounds. They go in a straight line or diagonal and have 6, 7, and 8 range. Try to avoid positioning yourself such that you can get hit with one whenever possible.
  • When they summon (trees, their pet, scorps, skeletons, terra cottas, Shrawk, Ruhr, etc.), kill the summons before focusing on their units
  • If they use a banner, you can break a banner without breaking your hide.
  • If you can rush and kill Scratch before he uses many of his buffs, do it. They’re basically helpless without his buffs.
  • If they have units still alive, know that they can purge and do a lot of damage to your pirate.

Buckler (the mirror):

  • This matchup often comes down to rng-based first strike and riposte chains. If you lose because your elusive decides not to work, or if their grand shadowdance goes ham, you just gotta deal with it and then complain about it to all your other swashbuckling friends ;).
  • In the early game, positioning is key. That movement range guide is your best friend when it comes to knowing when you can and can’t fog or be reached with fog.
  • When their pirate does hide, spread out your units. Don’t give them the ability to poison multiple units.
  • Assume they have purge and that it is always in their power bar.
  • Know that when you decide to attack their pirate with an assassin or charge, you will start a first strike/riposte war. You will be hit if you are out of elusive. Take that likely damage into account.
  • Having a brutal or vicious charge is great here. You can force your opponent to use another hide or fort before they want to, or risk taking tremendous by your ripostes.
  • If they hide or fort, you don’t necessarily have to in response. Try and time out their hides by running away. Resource control in this matchup is essential.
  • Hurl knives are tremendously useful. They can hit a hidden unit without fs3 triggering, and they make it near impossible for your opponent to run away.
  • If you can kill their Toro before he uses his buff, do it. Having that buff over your opponent for 5 rounds makes your team very difficult to hit, while ensuring you will almost always land your hits.

Best of luck and happy dueling! Hope to see you in the Brawlin’ Hall.



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