Alex’s Analysis – Cheers for Cannoneers!

posted by on 28th June 2019, at 9:00am | Discuss Article

This month hasn’t had much for updates. Which is understandable; a lot of resources are being put into the larger upcoming quests and features like RuneScape Mobile and the upcoming Construction Update (I don’t care what you say, it is happening). So, rather than analyze an update that came out this month, let’s focus on an update that came out back in 2003.


Back during its release, it was the symbol of wealth. The most expensive store-bought item back then was the Dragon Battleaxe, costing a solid 200,000 coins. Back then, that was considered a lot of money, and wielding such a weapon was a show of status.

But then came the cannon, which cost a whopping 750,000 coins. Or, if you wanted to buy each individual part, 200,000 each. A single part of a cannon, useless on its own, could be traded for the game’s best weapon. It only became available on the completion of its very own (relatively simple) quest.

And then, after finally saving up enough to buy it… you still couldn’t use it. You needed ammo.

How do you get ammo? By smelting it from a steel bar. One steel bar = one cannonball. And smelting cannonballs was slow, requiring four different messages about 2 seconds apart. Therefore, cannon ammo quite often sold for 2k-3k coins each due to the tedium of getting steel in the first place (most often came from mining, and there were no beasts of burden or “smelt-x” back then).

So what happens when you have the cannon and ammo to go with it? Destruction!

Basically you stand in the cannon and blast every attackable NPC in range with an incredibly high-damaging (up to 30 damage) flurry of attacks. In Runescape Classic, because it was the cannon itself attacking, the NPCs didn’t attack back, as they had no idea who was attacking them. They would just stand there and die. Wicked-effective on chaos druids, whose herb drops did help supplement the cost of ammo if RNG permitted.

I personally managed to save up for the cannon and ground out 100 cannon ammo to give you that test case. It was perhaps my most glorious moment in Runescape Classic. One that I will very much miss, now that Runescape Classic no longer exists. For now…

Nevertheless, a lot of effort for that moment of glory. It wasn’t super popular.

I took my cannon with me into RuneScape 2 (no regrets!) when it came out, and it had fundamentally changed. While its damage output remained relatively the same, it became much slower, and enemies who were hit in the face with a cannonball knew exactly who did it and, if they survived, went in for vengeance. To supplement this, however, each steel bar produced 4 cannonballs instead of one (for some reason the 4 cannonballs were each three times as big as the single spiked multiball), dramatically lowering their cost! That alone made a HUGE huge difference, and cannons became popular. Even necessary against some enemies, like dagannoth, during slayer assignments.

Plus, with the creation of better money-making methods, like the abyssal whip, suddenly 750,000 coins wasn’t that big of a deal, so more people invested in it.

They became so popular that, when slayer came out, they were strictly prohibited in the slayer tower and caves with their own custom “excuse” messages (dark powers prevent the cannon from being set up). It was to make it fair for players who didn’t have cannons.

And then… came the evolution of combat. And the poor cannon took a real hit on that one.

For a while, its DPS remained the same as before the update, meaning that it actually did minuscule damage compared to regular attacks. Folks resorted to using it strictly to provoke enemies into auto-attacking. And then… the aggression potion came out… and for a time, it faded into obscurity.

It did get redeemed later on, though. Some enemies started dropping ammo (waterfiends at Gharrock), Invention saw the creation of the mage and melee versions of the multicannon, and the DPS was scaled up to help match EOC (but remained relatively under-powered. With the creation of Beasts of Burden and, more recently, the Smithing Update, cannon ammo production became much faster and easier. Let’s also not forget the Artisan’s Workshop gave us some beautiful skins for the cannon that increases its ammo capacity, making them considerably more worthwhile as a source of aggression, in exchange for 150% respect. Which, naturally, is tailored for the crazy folk like us who were willing to invest hundreds of steel bars into single cannonballs in Runescape Classic.

They are no longer the hard-earned machines of destruction they once were, nor are they nearly as popular as they were in RuneScape 2, but cannons continue to be used fairly sparingly in fitting slayer situations, like Dagannoth and Dark Beasts. They do still do some comparatively good damage, used as a DPS supplement rather than a reliability alongside potions, summons, and equipment benefits.

Just wishing you could set them up in more places. … and that the multi-placement bug still existed…

Because then I can do what they were originally meant for:

Until next time,

Cheers, cannoneers!