Overwatch and Repel Boarders 5… Degenerate or Not?

June 11, 2018 in Uncategorized

In a recent update, Kingsisle released rank 5 versions of most epic talents. In this mini-series, I will be discussing the power level and value of some of these epics. Today, I am featuring arguably the most controversial of these epics, overwatch and repel boarders 5 (readied spell 5 is currently impossible to achieve without doubloons, so it is not included here). After providing and analyzing the pros and cons of using these epics in PvP (both practically and theoretically), I hope to provide a verdict as to whether or not these talents are useful in 1v1 ranked PvP.

Overwatch 5 and Repel Boarders 5 are movement based epics. When a target-able unit enters range, the talents trigger. Other facts about these epics:

  • They are both low damage (compared to other epics like second chance/quick adjust and return fire/riposte) epic talents
  • They are both high base accuracy epics. Musket epics already have a high base chance to hit (much higher than the 75% chance that Ratbeard has previously claimed that attacks have), so coupled with musket’s naturally high accuracy, you should not expect to dodge overwatch 5 frequently, even in elusive/tide. Repel boarders is dodge-able in elusive, but I wouldn’t count on dodging frequently outside of elusive/tide, especially if an accuracy buff is present on your opponent.
  • If they land, both epics reduce accuracy by 50% for one round and knockback the affected unit 1 tile. This knockback can be mitigated by having a unit occupying the square that you would be knocked into. Both epics can be avoided entirely if you approach through a friendly unit on the outermost tile of their ranges.
  • This is self-evident, but both epics trigger chains as normal, provided their targets are in range.

Overwatch 5:


  • Very effective counter to buccaneer, melee privies, and swashbuckler (provided that Contessa and a 5 round hide are brought)
  • Compounding off of the previous point, it is particularly effective versus more inexperienced melee players. Much of the time, these players do not know how to effectively use their own units to block overwatch.
  • Negates the threat of most melee companions. The only way one can get through is if it either has a hide, or a hidden unit stands on the outermost square of your overwatch.
  • Unlikely to miss if your pirate is unreduced
  • With burst 2 and double tap 3, you can still chain very effectively. This partially counteracts the fact that you’ll have to likely give up a piece of tower gear (w/ 2 attacks) to run ow5.
  • The gear is not difficult to obtain. The weapon is a common enough drop from Ashes of the Armada packs and the hat is from a single battle instance in El Toro’s mansion. The pet can be problematic, but overwatch isn’t a super rare grant to run in to.
  • Theoretically, every class can obtain it.


  • This setup is at a disadvantage vs normal musket builds, witchdoctors, and ranged-based privateer teams. Normal muskets will normally have +1 range advantage vs you, as well as more attacks or shields. Witchdoctor will have at least +2 range over you and their ocuborous line of powers shuts down your bombs, absorbs, and heals. If you bring Scratch, he is a dead weight in this matchup. Ranged privies, especially when Ghor is included, will have a range advantage vs you, as well as the ability to heal effectively.
  • This isn’t exactly a true con, but overwatch is not a hard counter versus a skilled buccaneer or swashbuckler. You have an advantage, sure (your normal musket build had an advantage vs buck and buckler as well), but you’ll still have to play exceptionally well to win
  • You can get champion without having legitimate skill. Some will see this as a pro, but if you have any intention of playing on other classes, this as a massive con. It’s more than possible to reach champ by beating up on the inexperienced melee players that are prevalent in queue. You’ll drop your matches vs musket, witch, and skilled melee players, but the overwhelming majority of your matches will be against other types of players.
  • If you are the red player, you are weak to summon strategies. Summoned units always move after the red player takes their turn. That means that they will generally take up 2-3 of your overwatches and leave your opponent a chance to attack you with their pirate and/or their companions
  • A brutal or vicious charge landing on you means that your main method of protection is ineffective for 5 rounds, forcing you to spend your likely limited protection buffs

Verdict: Due to that status of the current ranked meta, overwatch 5 is incredibly effective at countering the types of opponents you are most likely to face, namely, inexperienced bucks and swashes. This makes it an optimal build currently. However, if the playerbase shifts towards witch and musket, ow5 will lose much of its power. I also would not recommend it for first time players looking to continue pvping on other classes, as you could become too reliant on ow5 to learn crucial mechanics that will aid you on other classes

Repel Boarders 5


  • Addresses privy’s inability to counteract melee chains without their companions (they can only soak up the damage and heal it off without rb3+)
  • Again, the gear isn’t too terribly rare, and only one slot of gear + your weapon and pet talent is required to obtain it.
  • Since it’s a high accuracy epic, it’s likely to land on players that are above 50% health, as well as most companions
  • It can save you from having to use forts on your companions in the early game


  • You have to use a strength-based weapon to obtain it. Privateer’s base strength is not particularly high, so you are unlikely to critical your heals and attacks. In addition, your weapon power will be slightly lower since your bonus comes from strength. You are also unlikely to get relentless chains.
  • Unlike overwatch 5, which is incredibly powerful in the late game, the odds of landing this consistently enough on a melee pirate with multiple ranks of elusive and/or tide, are slim.
  • You have the same vulnerabilities to summons and brutal/vicious as ow5 muskets, compounded by the fact your accuracy is a mere 120 (compared to 200+ for muskets)
  • Once again, you are vulnerable to the same types of ranged builds that ow5 is vulnerable to. Losing the extra fort and heal (the normal choice for privy totem) is game changing. Ocuborous stops your bombs and heals too.
  • The only way to get repel 5 to land reliably is to also possess htl 3+. Since your weapon must have repel boarders, you’ll either need 3 htl items from Kane or 2 htl items and a htl pet. This represents a significant resource sink (an ideal build would have tower hat, boots, and ring, htl/boon gear on the robe and charm, repel boarders weapon and totem, a pet with repel and htl, and levy on the patch. To make up for the relative lack of attacks and heals on gear, you’d need a pet with brutal, backstab, and a heal)

Verdict: Unlike its ranged counterpart, using repel boarders 5 is not a good idea in the current ranked meta. It loses most of its use when an opponent reaches elusive and is already near useless against ranged builds. Using htl 3 is the only way to get it to land reliably, but that forces you to possess a very specific pet and use many of your gear slots. It is effective in the early game, but accuracy buffs and protection buffs give privateer enough of an early game advantage. It’s a fun and gimmicky build for sure, but not one worth using for long periods of time.

Agree? Disagree? Comment with your thoughts below!

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