Home Strategy AC4 Black Flag multiplayer strategy #9: Stunning Pursuers (“soft stun” tactics)

Welcome to Part 9 of WiNGSPANTT’s Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag multiplayer strategy guide!

As we talked about in the last article, there are two types of stuns: “hard stuns” (guaranteed) and “soft stuns” (not guaranteed). Today, we’ll discuss ways to improve your odds of KO-ing your opponent with soft stuns.


In addition to the abilities that guarantee a stun, there are several that simply increase the odds of achieving a stun greatly. These skills don’t completely disable your opponent, so there’s always the chance he’ll kill you by dumb luck or he’ll simply run away until the ability is no longer working.

As such, you can’t completely rely on these effects to protect you, but mastering them can certainly garner you a great deal more stuns than you could get by relying on hard stuns alone. Here are a few examples of abilities that can (but won’t always) earn you punching power:

  • Time Phase: Removes opponents’ HUD and lock, making stunning from a blend group easier
  • Firecrackers: Blinds opponents and removes their lock, making stuns from a blend group easier
  • Disruption: Scrambles opponent’s screen, greatly diminishing their vision and awareness
  • Disguise: Changes your persona to decrease the odds you are identified
  • Glimmer: Makes you hard (but not impossible) to see, making a stun more likely
  • Morph: May fool pursuers into killing an NPC, opening them up to a free stun
  • Decoy: May fool pursuers into killing the Decoy NPC, opening them up to a free stun

Time Phase, Firecrackers, and Disruption in particular work on the premise of disabling some or all of your pursuer’s heads up display.  In particular, Firecrackers breaks your opponents’ lock instantly, while Time Phase and Disruption allow you to break your pursuers’ locks over time (see the Abilities Guide section for details). If your killer loses his target lock and insists on charging at you, you can move into the back of a blend group to (hopefully) shield yourself. Since your murderer can no longer lock you, he may accidentally acquire and assassinate an NPC who is closer to him in the group. Then you can move in, slap him around, and laugh.

(The laughing is mandatory.)

Accro drop stuns

A great time to stun your pursuer is any moment when he isn’t actually ready to execute you, either because he doesn’t think you could possibly stun him or because the button combinations he’s currently pressing make it difficult or impossible for him to reach the assassinate command.

A good example is accro drop stunning, which was first popularized on YouTube by various killers far more skilled than me. The basic idea is to run up a wall in high profile, then drop to the floor (hit the offhand input) the second your pursuer reaches the wall, then stun. The timing is admittedly tight, but the payoff, a “free” stun, is obviously huge.

Almost all pursuers will be hellbent on chasing you up the wall with their digits nowhere near the kill command – so appearing next to them and suddenly kneeing them in the head will come as a big surprise. Just keep in mind this plan isn’t foolproof, and will backfire if anticipated, since your pursuer can still technically kill you if they’re ready. They may also react to your acrobatics with Throwing Knives, Pistol, or another ability that punishes high profile antics. You’ve been warned!

Just going for the stun

The simplest and least reliable way of stunning your opponents is to, um, just stun them. No abilities. No tricks. No wacky inputs. Just pressing X/Square/Mouse1 right in their ugly little face.

Now, for all kinds of reasons we’ve already discussed, this won’t work the vast majority of times. If your pursuer knows who you are and has you locked, you will die 90% of the time. So when exactly is that other 10% that you should be looking out for?

  • If you’re in a group with duplicates and haven’t moved, your pursuer may not expect a stun
  • If you are in a hay bale, especially near duplicates, you may be able to get an easy stun
  • If you run into an unprepared pursuer around a corner, a fast stun can catch him off guard
  • If a neutral player causes a distraction (with an ability), you may have a small stun window
  • If you’re locked onto a neutral player who becomes your pursuer, stun him before he realizes it

Again, none of these plans are fool proof. A particularly sharp adversary or just a lucky guess can defeat any of these approaches, so you can’t rely on them to save your skin. Sometimes, you’ll just have to run for your life. Luckily, our next section is called Running for Your Life. 

Looking for more tips? Head back to the main Assassin’s Creed multiplayer strategy guide index.

6 replies to this post
  1. Does Time Phase really remove lock? In my experience I’ve been able to kill my target through a crowd while in Time Phase if I’ve locked them prior to it activating.

    The Animus Database lists Disguise, Morph, Firecrackers, Disruption, and Teleport as breaking lock (Tips > Abilities > Breaking a Lock), but also says that Time Phase can break a lock (Tips > Abilities > Time Phase).

    • You may simply have been aiming at them. Though Time Phase might put them into high profile (confirmation?) so that you were guided towards them even though you could not see the lock prompt.

      Also, it’s a known issue that, if multiple targets are equally eligible, the game will gravitate you towards pursuers or targets even if you are not aiming at them, because Ubisoft care about fixing glitches.

      • Time Phase doesn’t instantly remove a lock like Firecrackers. Instead, it behaves like breaking Line of Sight*. It may look like an instant lock removal when you’re caught in it, but that’s just part of the interface screw.

        When your target activates a Time Phase:

        If you’re inside the bubble, you can hear the “losing lock” audio cue and you will lose lock after the default three-second countdown. Activating Animus Shield will restore your HUD, enable sprinting, and reestablish LOS (thereby retaining the lock).

        If you’re outside the bubble, you will lose LOS if the locked target is inside.

        If you and your target are both outside with the bubble between you, ???. I’ve not been able to reliably recreate this scenario to determine if the whole bubble acts as a LOS blocker or just the border between inside/outside.

        *Observational data collected on the PC version in Wolfpack and FFA modes. Your mileage may vary depending on console or during teamplay modes.

      • Hmmm, thanks, I didn’t actually know that about the lock. I suppose that explains some of my more “WTF?!?!” moments using Time Phase.

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