Ok, so, seriously, we're under NDA, we can't really talk about this stuff, but I think I can point you in the right direction based on a few things that we read about the game yesterday. Although things are bound to change over time because a lot of things are somewhat flexible in Alpha.
1- I think I'm ok telling you that my main character's name in game is "Friendly Thomas" :) Friendly Thomas the Witchdoctor at your service, mates!
2- MMORPG.com did a couple of articles yesterday that will answer a lot of these basic questions (combat preview and classes), and on the surface, I agree with a lot of what is being said in them. Specifically what Garrett Fuller said about picking up the new combat style: "The combat in Pirate 101 is really a lot of fun, and will delight folks looking for something different in the MMO space. At first it took us a few tries to get used to it. Once it is understood, you will find that making key decisions and strategizing really can impact your battles. Just like in Wizard 101, players will need to think about their choices and work together to win. It is a system that is easy to learn and has a lot of depth to master."
Personally, I'm familiar and enjoy Tactical Strategy games. Let me plug a couple if you'd like to get a small flavor of some that are out there.
- Ninjabee's Band of Bugs Tactics Strategy game. (The free demo is worth a download.)
- I've talked a bit here on my blog about Magic The Gathering Tactics.
- I've played Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn on the Wii, again great game.
- In this fantastic Gamespot review yesterday, J. Todd Coleman and Josef Hall gave a head nod to Shining Force, which I've never played. Here's what the article said, "On the gameplay front, vice president of development Josef Hall says, 'We wanted to take some pretty hardcore concepts and package them in a non-hardcore way.' Central to this has been a big shift in the combat mechanics. Whereas Wizard used a card combat game mechanic for all battles, Pirate101 is a fairly complex turn-based affair that draws inspiration from a true classic. 'We absolutely loved Shining Force,' Coleman and Hall say together, referring to the 1992 Genesis tactical role-playing game by Climax Entertainment. 'We wanted something more akin to chess than a card combat game, and we felt that bringing a game like that which we loved and repackaging it for a broader audience was a great way to do this.'"
So that's all I've got, but hopefully that helps give you a little better footing on what the combat for Pirate101 will be like and hopefully put some fears to bed. :)