Okay, okay, I am not so ignorant as to actually believe the title of this post. Ballista may be Latin, or so it looks to me anyway, but I’m sure it means something more like “Hurler of death” or “wooden spear launcher”.
Never mind. I looked it up. It is (according to Webster) Greek, not Latin, from the Greek word Ba’llein which apparently means “to throw”. But in the DDO world at least, ballista really does mean “Awesome”.
Allow me to illustrate.
We’ve already talked about pirate ship battles: they are indeed the very best part of Update 22. But now that I’ve had a few days to experiment, I’ve distilled that concept down a little further; the pirate ship battles are awesome because of the ballistae.
Some of the pirate ships appear next to land, close enough that you can jump down on them. These ones are easiest destroyed by boarding and fighting your way down into the engine room. Destroy the engine (or defeat the elemental that powers the engine) and this ship will explode. Do not waste time getting off a ship after you’ve disabled her engines! Boarding a ship and taking her down like this is fun, lots of fun. But it is nowhere near as fun as shooting her down with ballistae.
This short capture shows Knicker firing a ballista. You’ll note right away that the mechanism aims wherever you are looking. This can be a bit difficult as the ballista also blocks your view.
It also shows the basics of ballista use:
- Get within activation range
- Use your targeting reticle to aim yourself at your desired target
- “Use” the ballista
- Wait while the “Drawing” bar fills. If you are interrupted while this is filling, you will have to start over
- Watch in awe as the flaming projectile launches and destroys your enemies. Except when the ballista itself gets in your way and blocks your view, which is almost always
In the video, the ballista initially appears to aim itself along Knicker’s view but then snaps back. It only re-aims correctly right as it is about to launch the projectile. The ballista does this a lot; you have to trust that it will aim and fire at your aiming reticle, even though it doesn’t always appear to be doing that while you are waiting for it to finish drawing.
Here are some tips for successful ballista use:
- The ballista shoots in an arc; you want to aim slightly above your target
- I find it easiest to aim when in mouselook mode (which for me, means hitting the [t] key)
- Once you have aimed successfully, you can just shoot over and over as long as you don’t move or change your camera
- More than one person can use the ballista at the same time, and they will all fire projectiles when they are done “drawing”; this gives you a much greater rate of fire but makes the ballista appear to jump around like crazy
- A “destroyed ballista” means that the pirate ship that can appear at this location will not. You need to reset your instance of 3BC to have a chance at getting it to appear
- Once you hit a pirate ship with the ballista, it will stop firing cannon at you. Although the zip-lining pirate attacks will increase
- It takes six to eight shots to take down a pirate ship
And some advanced tips
- The ballista can be used to shoot anything, not just pirate ships
- It fires an area of effect attack that does a metric buttload of damage*
- It can shoot farther than you can see, which sometimes is a drawback because monsters that far away may not yet be “active” meaning they won’t take damage
- The ballista does friendly fire damage
- Never shoot at something in short range; you can shoot your party members
- You can even kill yourself **
* While the definition of “metric buttload” remains murky, one can safely assume that it means a lot.
** Yes I found this out the hard way
I’m including a Fraps capture of a battle between Knicker and the pirate ship Gorgon where Knicker survives several barrages from the ship cannon and a horde of crew member attacks while getting in enough ballista hits to win.
Skip ahead to 2:01 if you just want to see a couple of pretty ballista hits.
Knicker gets the job done, but has to summon assistance in the form of owlbears and panthers to keep the crew off of her long enough to allow uninterrupted ballista fire.
is more fun than anything
Aim, draw, shoot: explode!
I only wish I could take one of these with me and use it in quests. Can you imagine how much more fun Breaking the Ranks would be with one of these? Or the otherwise stultifying Eveningstar Druid series?