Home Strategy AC4 Black Flag multiplayer strategy #14: Abilities Guide (NPC-based abilities)

Welcome to Part 14 of WiNGSPANTT’s Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag multiplayer strategy guide!

In addition to overall strategy and bullet-point tips, I’m also including ratings for each Assassin’s Creed 4 ability to give you a quick-glance evaluation. These aren’t the only factors that determine if an ability is good or if you should equip it, but they’re good starting points for discussion.

Versatility: How many different situations can the ability be used in? Contrarily, how often will you wish you had something else equipped? Versatile abilities help you maximize your options and score.

Reliability: How often is this ability available, and what are the odds it will actually succeed? How much of its effect relies on luck, lag, or human stupidity? Reliable skills simply work when you need them to.

High-Scoring: How much will this ability increase your score, or decrease the score of your adversaries? Will equipping this ability directly contribute to your total? High-scoring skills fuel leads and comebacks.


  • Versatility: 2/5
  • Reliability: 4/5
  • High-Scoring: 3/5

Unless you’ve got the cash to shell out for Kevin Costner’s protection, you’ll have to settle for this A.I. guardian. Summon it to sniff out and stun your pursuer when you hear whispers, or lock onto your suspected killer to send the Bodyguard on a suicidal knockout mission.  It’s far from uncommon for players to mistakenly go after your Bodyguard, too… netting you a Lure bonus and an uncontested stun or kill.

Bodyguard is best used near a large number of NPCs, preferably with lookalikes. If one of your clones is nearby, it’ll be called to guard you. Otherwise, a (seemingly) random NPC in proximity will transform to your twin before homing in for the stun. Combined with Disguise, Morph, Blender, Glimmer, or Decoy, you can reliably fool lesser players. And while smarter foes won’t be as easily misdirected, they’ll often still be too slow to recognize and evade Bodyguard before they’re rendered unconscious.

While this may make Bodyguard sound powerful, it’s still a relatively narrow skill. It can only be used to stun pursuers, making it worthless when you’re trying to come back from behind. It is one of the only abilities in the game that gives off an audio cue (a mystical gasping noise) that alerts other players to its use. You can try using it to identify players in small blend groups, but it’ll usually fail. Hell, it will give you away when activated at the wrong time or against the wrong target.

For these reasons, I generally recommend Bodyguard be used in Deathmatch and in team modes. Wanted is just too reliant on running and climbing for the ability to be effective. In Assassinate, opponents can simply avoid locking you until the last second (you can’t activate Bodyguard until you actually have a Pursuer). Contrast these situations with Deathmatch, where there are few places to run or hide from Bodyguard, making its activation much more likely to succeed.

Bodyguard Tips

  • You can purposely send your Bodyguard to stun an NPC in the hopes of luring your pursuer.
  • Bodyguard stuns do not count towards your kill streaks.
  • Your Bodyguard can move outside of its crafted range if locked onto a target. Don’t rely solely on the homing range for defense.
  • Once you’ve used Bodyguard a few times, you might be able to score naked stuns by walking directly toward your pursuers, tricking them into thinking you’re a Bodyguard.
  • No matter how much you love your Bodyguard, it will never love you back.


  • Versatility: 3/5
  • Reliability: 3/5
  • High-Scoring: 5/5

While you might not guess it, Decoy overlaps greatly with Disguise from a design point of view. It’s an ability that plays off peoples’ inherent paranoia, making them guess and second-guess your identity. Sometimes, the more you use it, the more effective it gets (as adversaries grow increasingly skittish and impatient). Other times, players pick up on Decoy quickly. But like Disguise, this ability scales directly with your own skills. In order to use it effectively, you must be better at knowing your opponent’s mindsets than they know themselves.

In most situations, players tend to activate Decoy somewhat randomly whenever they hear whispers or see an obvious pursuer approaching.  This will certainly work on foolish enemies, but better players will quickly identify the Decoy as an NPC and continue on. With too much of a lead, your foes have plenty of time to assess the situation and figure it out. Conversely, Decoy will also be useless if used too late. By then, your stalkers will have already identified you and won’t be fooled by a last-second switcheroo.

If you want to catch pursuers off-guard, you must activate Decoy at the last moment before they’re certain who you are. Use it right before they begin using a corner to screen you from a group. Use it as they prepare to throw Money Bomb, Firecrackers, or Wipe in your direction. Use it after you’ve activated your own Time Phase, robbing them of a HUD they can fall back on. This is the critical instant when Decoy is most likely to shine.

Remember that locking a character will send Decoy jogging  straight at it. If you lock your pursuer before firing off Decoy, you’ll put her in a worse position: she must decide if the persona charging her is a fake-out or a desperate stunner, all in a matter of one or two seconds! And if you charge your killer simultaneously, there is an greater chance of landing a free, real stun (or capitalize on a lure with a focus stun).

Decoy can be used offensively as well, especially since most players don’t really expect it. If launched from a blend group at about 10 meters away, your little clone will catch many, many suckers… giving you 300 points before you nab an uncontested, hidden kill. But for best results, I recommend using Decoy when both your target and your pursuer are nearby. The odds are high that at least one of them will fall for the bait, and the ensuing chaos is often the perfect time to take care of your other enemy. Worst case scenario? Run for the hills!

Decoy Tips

  • Like Bodyguard, Decoy will originate from a nearby clone if available.
  • 10 seconds is the perfect crafting duration for Decoy. 5 seconds won’t fool patient players. 15 seconds won’t fool anyone who wouldn’t have been fooled by 10 seconds.
  • Observe how Decoys run and learn to emulate it. This is key for tricking people into believing you’re actually a Decoy.
  • Unlike you, the Decoy doesn’t have a soul and is considered an abomination (Leviticus 23:4).

Money Bomb

  • Versatility: 1/5
  • Reliability: 2/5
  • High-Scoring: 1/5

Money Bomb is the worst ability in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, and using it for any reason other than laughs or challenge completion is a huge mistake. Since you shouldn’t actually equip or activate this skill, I’ll explain instead what makes it so worthless.

First, Money Bomb is redundant. The primary role of this ability is to reveal player characters from within the crowd. Unfortunately for Money Bomb, tons of other abilities already do that, and they do it better. Firecrackers, Wipe, Morph, and even Tripwire Bomb can be used to identify real people, making Money Bomb kind of pointless overall.

Second, Money Bomb isn’t safe. Unlike all the other abilities I just named, Money Bomb doesn’t inherently protect you from the players you’ve just discovered. Firecrackers blinds foes. Wipe cuts out their abilities. Tripwire Bomb incapacitates them, and Morph is much more discreet than showering the streets with gold. If you use Money Bomb, your victim is completely free to kill/stun/contest/flee you.

Third and finally, Money Bomb sucks at what it does because it relies on random NPCs. If there aren’t a lot of NPCs around you, it can’t help you form a defensive wall  of bodies like the description claims. And since you can’t control the flow of NPCs, random luck could shit on you if you decide to use Money Bomb as an escape tool.

Money Bomb was kept in Black Flag as a joke by the developers to highlight bad players and force people to grind out impossible challenges. Kids: don’t try Money Bomb. Not even once.

Money Bomb Tips

  • You will never complete the challenge to use Money Bomb to escape pursuers. Stop trying.
  • Money Bomb counters Bodyguard and Decoy. It is still garbage.
  • Every time you use Money Bomb, an angel loses its wings.
  • Don’t equip Money Bomb.


  • Versatility: 3/5
  • Reliability: 4/5
  • High-Scoring: 1/5

Morph is one of those abilities new players rely on, then eventually forget about. Good players tend to move to Blender or natural crowds for hiding, relying on other means of evading pursuers. But in my opinion, following this path as a rule is a mistake.  Morph may not be as versatile or powerful as some other abilities, but its extremely low cooldown and “instant” throwing effect mean it’s always there when you need it, even if you don’t always need it.

Low cooldown is something I think most players forget about Morph when they’re selecting abilities. Morph isn’t as good at defending you as Tripwire Bomb, and it’s not as capable at revealing players as Firecrackers, but it’s usable many times more per match than either, while also serving other roles.

Sure, the obvious thing is to just transform a bunch of guys into a cadre of lookalike pals, but you can also unmask players from a distance with the throw command (hold the ability button) to Morph NPCs near your target without delay. Most players will have no clue what’s going on (since this technique is seldom used) and will freeze or flee. At that point, their fate is sealed, especially if you happen to be standing on the roof above them!

Morph is also generally strong because the large number of copycat NPCs will force players to do one of two things. If they use an ability (including their own Morph) to reveal you, they’ve spent a precious skill and instantly identified themselves. If they spend extra time screening your group for LOS, they’ll also reveal themselves to you while also revealing themselves to their own pursuers. If you can force your enemies to give themselves away without doing anything, why not?

Sometimes players will simply make a guess and go for the kill. Keep in mind that with 4 or 5 lookalikes, the odds are heavily in your favor of surviving, even if your adversary is pretty good at identifying targets. Having a 50%-80% chance of a lure plus a focus stun is nothing to scoff at.

Morph Tips

  • Everyone hides on the “inside” of the Morph group, the place farthest from vulnerable attack. Stand near an edge to catch your killer off-guard.
  • Your character performs a snapping hand animation when triggering Morph. Use it before pursuers have LOS on you, or walk erratically during activation to mask this giveaway.
  • Activating a Decoy or Bodyguard from within a Morph group is super effective!
  • Use Morph on neutral players hiding in crowds to foil their stealthy approaches/stuns.
  • Morph was invented for the 1990s X-Men animated series because Marvel has lazy writers.


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

4 replies to this post
  1. Oh man, with my experience, Bodyguard doesn’t deserve a 4/5 Reliability rating… There had been many times where my bodyguard has been right behind my opponent and would attempt a stun too late, even when my opponent was locked on. I had to adapt by walking away from my opponent, even if he/she/it isn’t running at me, which usually gives me away.
    On the other hand, I’ve had better experience with Bodyguard being used offensively. Since Bodyguard can’t be used on targets, if you could narrow down your choices to two, you can find your target. Sometimes the bodyguard will be one of the clones in the morph group itself! And a good amount of players (although probably more inexperienced than not) would freak out and would kill the bodyguard, even after they stun an NPC, use an ability, like Smoke Bomb, or both! Not to mention if your pursuer is nearby, he/she/it will go for the bodyguard. This has been my ode to Bodyguard~

  2. Your morph analysis was spot on with my experience.

    Like mongolian, I thought BG deserved a lower reliability rating, and I love BG for deathmatch. I think half of the time, it works exactly as intended. The other half, it spazzes –

    Consider: my pursuer is locked and is walking towards me in whatever situation about 10-15 meters away. (1) The BG will run at a 90 degree angle to my pursuer, twirls, and slowly walks at the same speed as my pursuer but at this pace the pursuer reaches me first. (2) The BG will initially work as intended, but deactivates after 1-2 seconds for no comprehendible reason. (3) The BG runs past my pursuer, doubles back, but doesn’t reach the pursuer until the pursuer reaches me.

    Idk why I went into so much detail, but there you go.

  3. There is a common misconception with the Money Bomb challenge ie. you are not expected to block him, or make him stumble etc. and certainly not during a chase.

    To easily complete the Money Bomb challenge of “blocking” a pursuer, play Domination. You will always find a pursuer guarding a territory with enough NPCs. Throw it at him from a distance (outside the zone – you don’t want him to start moving in a more frenzied manner when he realises his zone is being captured) and once he is surrounded by NPCs it will invariably count (doesn’t always register a success if he is motionless, and remains motionless, in a stationary group). Craft it to attract the most NPCs and get the bonus on Cooldown. You should get 3 or 4 per match.

    Agreed though, the ability is about as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike.

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