Home Guest Article Location, Location, Location: Map strategies for Black Flag

Today’s guest article comes courtesy of Barn1979 (PSN), a long-time reader, writer, and assassino

“Damn you runners and roofers!” I cry as my 450 point, fully focused, poisoned hidden kill is intercepted by yet another speedster who swipes my kill for a measly 150 points. “You’ll never win against higher prestige players if you rely on those types of kills.”

…Or will you?

Now I’m the kind of AC player who likes to lurk in the blend groups, mingle with the crowd, before I dabble in a little renal surgery, but I’ve learnt that to excel in ACIV multiplayer one must be able to decide the general play style of the lobby and adopt a suitable strategy for the surroundings in which we play.

The vast range of maps available in the game are more than pretty scenery in which we slaughter one another; they are veritable obstacle courses which offer a different game experience dependent on each player’s approach to ACIV. For instance, ever tried getting a bench kill in Saba Island DM map? Well good luck… there isn’t a bench to be seen. Clearly all DM maps are not equal.

Take La Havana. All that space, yet 90% of the action takes place in the courtyard with the tree at its center. To make the most of this map and get the big points, you have to position yourself in one of two spots: In the blend group under said tree or, if you’re feeling a little bit saucy, the bench across from it. From here you can see the majority of the ‘dancefloor’ and any quick kill will give you a nice x2 or x3 multiplier. But if a more defensive tactic is required to see out a game then a gentle afternoon stroll down the lowermost path is just the ticket for you.

Another popular map is Portobelo. A nice open patio, plenty of sight lines, more blend groups and benches than you can shake a stick at. The average points scored in this map are much higher than say St. Mathieu, which is very restricted in terms of visibility. Portobelo affords almost 360 degrees of sight in most areas, so building one’s approach meter is far easier and a more patient attitude can prosper.

The polar opposite is true in St. Mathieu where it’s difficult to even see your target for long enough to get a decent approach. Due to this, most players do their ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ impression – replace fiddler with flamboyantly dressed killer – and rely on parkour for their slaying.

If you find yourself in this sort of high-profile game, your Disguise and Bodyguard abilities aren’t going to do you much good. Your ability sets need to cover not only your play style, but the general habits of other players and the character of the map you’re playing. Pistols, Poison Darts and Knives will be the soup de jour. Being a successful player in ACIV requires a flexible enough approach so that when you’re out of your comfort zone, you can still do the basics well enough to hold your own.

Another map favorite is the returning Plantation from ACIII, offering plenty of opportunities for all types of players. Virtually every time this is an option during a map vote, it wins hands down… showing the lasting popularity of this versatile map. If running and scaling the heights is your thing, the gazebo at the hub of the level gives you plenty of scope for aerial kills or a quick hop down onto the many fences give ample chances for that acro kill you need for your variety. The blend group under the big tree is ideal for the slyer player who is happen to wait for their prey to enter the killing zone.

Another of the popular maps is Saba Island, which gives most players the chance to shine. Interestingly it has no chase breakers, which leads to very fewer players running constantly. There are plenty of blend groups in which to hide while offering good visibility to build your meter. This map will allow the Disguise and Bodyguard abilities come to the fore as the large central area gives many options for your approach or subsequent escape if it all goes wrong.

Santa Lucia is a common map with a range of potential approaches. I prefer the blend group by the boxes on the beach, just a short walk from the barn that contains the hay bale. From here you can see all three thoroughfares that are commonly used. The boxes directly adjacent offer a great launching pad for a surprise acro kill if your target is walking from the right of the map. Place yourself just in from the edge of the crates to provide line of sight, then quickly vault onto the top and it’s goodnight Vienna.

Another sweet spot is the blend group under the tree at the rear of the barn. From here you can see back to the beach and both a bench and acro killing point are on hand. There is also the chase breaker nearby should you need it. These options mean you’ll often have to fight just to keep your spot in this juicy location. Expect the competition to be fierce.

Quick note: Between these two sites is the barn with two chase breakers on each side and the hay bale within. If you choose to kill from the roof this building, try, if time allows, to use the two acro spots very close by. At the ‘sea’ end of the building is a rope across to the secondary building and to the ‘inland’ end is another pile of crates or the trees. Both of these will give you the oh so important x1.5 Acrobatic multiplier. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen players fail to utilize these opportunities (and I include myself in that list).

The Prison is a strange map. It is essentially a figure eight, meaning traffic will basically move in two circular patterns. What I find most frustrating about this otherwise excellent map is the amount of boxes, boards and wooden partition walls that look as if they should be climbable but aren’t. Until you get a good feel for the place you can often make the mistake of trying to climb an obstacle for the uncontested acro kill only to watch as your prey laughs and drops you to your knees with an uninterrupted stun.

In summary, the different geography of the maps in ACIV are more varied than they first appear. Once you know which map you’ll be playing you should be asking these questions of yourself:

  • Where do I ideally need to be?
  • Where will others try to be?
  • Are there choke points?
  • What ability sets are going to suit the map the best?

If you can learn where the best points are for your play style you can exploit the map to the fullest.

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