The pirate’s guide to personal combat in Sea of Thieves


Shooting a cannon is one thing, but will you succeed when you’re face to face with the enemy? No worries, this guide will set you up with all the tips and tricks you need to become the most feared pirate on the sea. We will go over everything from loadout choices to advanced swordplay tricks and explain how to become better in personal combat. Feel free to also join our Discord to take part in the community and discuss our content 🙂

Choosing a Loadout

You can switch out your two weapons at the armory on your ship. There are a few sets that are more effective than others and most are very situational. Try all of the weapons to find out which one you like the most.

1.  Cutlass + Pistol
The standard variant. Works fine for most situations, especially if you see yourself fighting mid-range a lot. Lacks the one-shot potential of the Blunderbuss, but the sword isn’t all that bad for close quarters. Use this if you really like the pistol, together with some sword skills it can be viable.

2. Cutlass + Blunderbuss
The most common loadout. Works great, especially in boarding situations. The blunderbuss has great one-shot potential and you can follow up with the sword immediately. Should be what you carry in most situations. You might be concerned because there’s nothing for longer range fighting in here, but how often were you fighting over a long range really?

3. Blunderbuss + Eye of Reach
Very situational. I wouldn’t personally ever use this, but if you’re the kind of person to fire some shots at the enemy crew in a ship-fight with the Eye of Reach, then this might work out for you. Any loadout without the sword will be very weak in close quarters and if you miss your first blunderbuss shot you’ll have to run for your life.

Weapon tiers

If I had to make a weapon ranking right now (4th of March 2018) it would look like this:

Best (if mastered): Cutlass, Voice Chat

Strong: Cutlass, Blunderbuss

Average: Pistol

Weak: Eye of Reach

Combat Basics

  • Don’t panic. This is a great tip for all pvp games. No matter what the situation is like, try to stay calm and cool-headed, it will improve your gameplay by a lot. This also involves not being toxic and not insulting people or even your own crew in voice or so. It’s a non-competitive game, you don’t lose any ranking when you die or sink, use that opportunity to have some fun in video games again
  • For this guide, we assume that a player has 100 health points
  • Eating bananas fill your health up again. Don’t forget that, especially when you are mid-fight. You can’t run while eating so watch your back
  • You lose nothing but time when you die. After you come back from the Ferry of the Damned you either respawn on your ship or at the mermaid if your ship sunk. As long as you don’t use the Mermaid to spawn at your new ship you’ll just keep respawning there.


  • The pistol is a pretty straight-forward weapon. It takes between 3-4 shots to kill someone with it
  • It’s best used on a mid-long range, where you can’t use your sword yet. Because of the relatively long time between shots firing once and then closing the gap to engage in melee combat is a good strategy.
  • When fighting in the water, use the range to your advantage. Most players run a Cutlass + Blunderbuss loadout, so you should easily be able to kill them if you keep your distance. People will try to bait/juke your shots, so take your time with aiming while swimming backward until you think you can get a good hit
  • You only have 5 shots, make them count. If the enemy has bananas engage in sword combat, you most likely won’t be able to finish with the pistol only


  • Short-range shotgun, best used at point blank. Will one shot if you are close enough, but the damage over mid-range is also decent, but hard to predict
  • Long time between shots, so if you can’t make the first one count either keep your distance to reload or engage in melee combat
  • Aiming at the body and not the head is usually better because it’s easier to get a good hit
  • If you miss your shot and the enemy didn’t fire yet stay away until you are able to shoot again
  • If an enemy is engaging in sword combat fire once and immediately switch to your cutlass and block-dodge away to gain some distance
  • No-Scope if you can’t hit the enemy while aiming down sights in a close range


For a long time, this weapon was despised by most of the community. It had a weird lock-on mechanic, it would stun you for days, the hits wouldn’t register properly and so on. With the last few updates, however, the sword was turned into a very viable and functional weapon. Once you master the tricks below it can even be the strongest weapon in the game right now. Thanks a lot to Subzarr for allowing us to use his gifs and for his Cutlass guide on the forums (here)


  • Calm down. Sword fights are probably the most intense way of fighting in this game. It is very easy to let your brain go into panic mode and start spamming attack and block.  You shouldn’t do that. Just slow down a bit and start thinking about what you are actually doing instead. After a few fights, you will notice a huge improvement. Be calm and analyzing, not hectic and emotional.
  • Hold block to block all sword damage coming in from the direction you are facing. This does not block the heavy attack (lunge). Contrary to popular belief this will completely negate all incoming melee damage from that direction, as long as a few requirements are met:
  1. You are not standing too close to each other. A lot of fights, especially on ships will end up with two people standing right next to each other and you will be spamming your keys wondering why you got damaged while blocking
  2. You are holding down the block button. There’s no need to block each swing separately or time your blocks. Just hold it down and watch the magic happen.
      • The sword fighting in Sea of Thieves uses a 3-Hit combo system. Each hit does 20 points of damage. The combo continues as long as you hit something, that means you can hit an object in the world, it doesn’t have to be another player. The delay between two 3-hit combos is about 1.10 seconds and the delay between two swings where you hit nothing is also about 1.10 seconds. This should show you how important it is to not swing in the air and hit whatever is possible. If you’re going to miss your hit, try to aim down and hit the floor to prevent breaking your combo. The gif below should clear this up a bit and show you how to apply the knowledge in a real fight
        • Dodging is a thing in this game. Hold down the block button and then jump into the direction you want to go to perform a quick dodge. This is great to create some space, dodge shots and to surprise your enemy, as most people don’t even know dodging is a thing. You can spam this, too and should use it whenever you can. Ever tried hitting a player that is constantly jumping around?
        • Blocking is the next basic skill. You can interrupt an opponents combo by blocking the last hit of it. It will push both of you back a bit, allowing you to recover and gain control of the fight again. This gif shows the various uses of blocking and dodging:
        • The lunge/heavy attack is the secondary attack with your cutlass. After a bit of wind-up time, you dash forward and do 50 points of damage. If you don’t hit anyone with it you will be unable to move or defend yourself for about 2 seconds, keep that in mind. The attack cannot be blocked. You can hold down the block while winding the heavy attack up to not lose any speed and move around. This will allow you to close gaps and adjust to your enemies movements while preparing the attack.
        • The jump lunge attack is a very advanced technique. To perform it, you have to wind the lunge up and then jump right before the dash starts. This will make you perform a very long dash and you will fly through the air a bit. It super fun to use and no one ever sees it coming. You’ll have to practice it a few times on land before performing it in a fight and don’t forget that this launches you quite a bit, so don’t fall off that galleon you’re boarding! Combine this with the blocking while winding the attack up to become a master swordsman and a mobile rocket launcher.

      Eye of Reach

              • Basically only use this for fun or to harass the enemy in a chasing situation
              • If you ever enter personal combat with this equipped switch to your other weapon, don’t use this
              • If you have it accidentally equipped use it only at a large distance to the enemy

      How to counter each weapon

      Now you know how to use these weapons, but what if an enemy is using them? These tips should help you fight against any loadout in a personal combat situation:


              • Close the distance, you want to get near this player as fast as possible. If he has a pistol his secondary weapon is probably a Cutlass, so be prepared for that
              • If he has a Cutlass then try to hit him with your Blunderbuss and then either engage in Sword combat (even) or run and hide till you can close the distance and fire a Blunderbuss shot again (favors you if you do it right)
              • Move in unpredictable ways, dodge with your sword and jump around like a maniac to avoid getting hit
              • If your health drops, run to break line of sight and eat a banana


              • Keep your distance
              • If the enemy wastes a shot engage immediately, get them in a sword-lock if they don’t switch to melee fast enough
              • Again, try to not get hit by all means possible
              • Never stop moving, dance around them even if you are fighting them with a sword


              • Stay away
              • If they hit you once, then immediately switch to a sword and dodge away
              • If the enemy is using the advanced techniques from this guide they will be able to stay very mobile, keep that in mind
              • Dodge lunges by cutlass-dodging
              • Blunderbuss/Pistol harass from a distance and finish with the cutlass

      Eye of Reach

              • Move around, the scope is currently super slow
              • dodge with the cutlass-dodge to taunt them
              • make fun of them for using the Eye of Reach
              • Close distance and destroy

      Thanks a lot for reading!

      Hope you enjoyed this guide on personal combat, make sure to also check out the other guides we made! If you have any requests or suggestions please join our Discord here and tell us what you think!


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