This is a complete list of all 27 ships in the game, sorted by 9 different
classes. Info comes directly from the game and should be accurate.
Note that the term 'combat galleon' does not come from the game, I made that
up. Had to distinguish somehow between the merchant types and the warship
types, and since 'war galleon' was already the name of a specific type of ship,
that would have been a little awkward to use. Hence 'combat galleon' is how
I refer to the fast/war/flag galleon line of ships.
'Crew' refers to the maximum crew a ship can carry if it does *not* have the
Triple Hammocks upgrade. If it does, the ship can carry 50% more crew, rounded
'Min crew' refers to the minimum crew needed to operate the ship at full
sailing speed; the game will automatically assign exactly this crew to any
ship that's not your flagship. If a ship is damaged, the minimum crew required
raises. If at any time the minimum crew requirement cannot be met, the ship
slows down considerably. The min crew values marked with a question mark are
unconfirmed; they're just educated guesses based on how much crew the ships I
*did* confirm require.
In battle, having just the minimum crew will let you sail the ship at its
proper speed, but cannon reloading will be seriously slow. The more excess
crew you have, the faster your cannons will be reloaded. Excess crew does not
increase sailing or turning speed though; only so many men can be in the
CLASS SHIP SIZE TURNING TYPE SPEED
Pinnace War Canoe Small Very tight Merchant Very fast
Pinnace Pinnace Small Very tight Merchant Very fast
Pinnace Mail Runner Small Very tight Merchant Very fast
Barque Coastal Barque Medium Tight Merchant Slow
Barque Barque Medium Tight Merchant Slow
Barque Ocean Barque Medium Tight Merchant Slow
Fluyt Fluyt Medium Wide Merchant Very slow
Fluyt Large Fluyt Medium Wide Merchant Very slow
Fluyt West Indiaman Medium Very wide Merchant Very slow
Merchantman Merchantman Large Very wide Merchant Slow
Merchantman Large Merchantman Large Very wide Merchant Slow
Merchantman East Indiaman Large Very wide Merchant Slow
Merchant Galleon Trade Galleon Large Very wide Merchant Very slow
Merchant Galleon Royal Galleon Large Very wide Merchant Very slow
Merchant Galleon Treasure Galleon Large Very wide Merchant Very slow
Sloop Sloop Small Tight Warship Fast
Sloop Sloop of War Small Tight Warship Fast
Sloop Royal Sloop Small Tight Warship Fast
Brig Brigantine Medium Medium Warship Medium
Brig Brig Medium Medium Warship Medium
Brig Brig of War Medium Medium Warship Medium
Combat Galleon Fast Galleon Large Wide Warship Slow
Combat Galleon War Galleon Large Wide Warship Slow
Combat Galleon Flag Galleon Large Wide Warship Slow
Frigate Frigate Large Wide Warship Fast
Frigate Large Frigate Large Wide Warship Fast
Frigate Ship of the Line Large Wide Warship Fast
CLASS SHIP CREW CANNONS CARGO MIN CREW
Pinnace War Canoe 50 8 20 6
Pinnace Pinnace 60 10 25 6
Pinnace Mail Runner 80 12 30 6?
Barque Coastal Barque 75 12 60
Barque Barque 100 16 70
Barque Ocean Barque 125 16 80
Fluyt Fluyt 50 8 80
Fluyt Large Fluyt 75 12 100
Fluyt West Indiaman 100 16 120 18
Merchantman Merchantman 125 16 100
Merchantman Large Merchantman 125 20 120
Merchantman East Indiaman 150 20 140
Merchant Galleon Trade Galleon 100 20 120 16
Merchant Galleon Royal Galleon 150 32 130 20
Merchant Galleon Treasure Galleon 200 40 140 24
Sloop Sloop 75 12 40 8?
Sloop Sloop of War 100 16 50 10
Sloop Royal Sloop 125 20 60 12
Brig Brigantine 125 20 60 12
Brig Brig 150 24 70 14
Brig Brig of War 200 32 80 16?
Combat Galleon Fast Galleon 160 24 80 16?
Combat Galleon War Galleon 200 32 90 20
Combat Galleon Flag Galleon 250 40 100 24
Frigate Frigate 200 32 80 16
Frigate Large Frigate 250 40 90 20
Frigate Ship of the Line 300 48 100 24?
Some notes on the various ship types:
- The third ship in each class tends to be a lot rarer than the first two.
They are also almost always preferable over the two earlier types, having
better crew/cargo/cannon capacity with roughly the same performance. The
West Indiaman is the only exception, performing worse than the other two
Fluyts. But what the heck are you doing using a Fluyt in battle to begin with?
- Pinnaces, Barques, Sloops and Brigs are used by all nations. The War Canoe,
specifically, is an Indian-only ship.
- The Spanish use merchant Galleon class ships as their merchants. The Dutch
use Fluyt classes. The English and French use Merchantman classes.
- The Spanish use combat Galleon class ships as warships. The Dutch, English
and French use Frigate class ships instead.
- Virtually all merchant ships in the Caribbean are the smallest type in their
class. The Spanish variant, the Trade Galleon, is the single most common ship
in the game. Bigger merchant ships like Royal Galleons are noteworthy since
they will almost always have a lot of gold and/or valuable cargo, whereas the
smaller merchant vessels are a bit of a gamble.
- The Ship of the Line is the rarest and most sought after ship in the game.
Check the first entry of the Frequently Asked Questions section (paragraph 9)
for some hints on how to get one. There is, unfortunately, no easy foolproof
[8.2] SHIP MISSIONS
While many of the ships you encounter in the Caribbean are just randomly
sailing merchant ships, a lot have special missions which will light up as you
hold your cursor over a ship. A ship's mission can be important to know, as it
gives you important clues about what to expect if you engage it, and what
effect this ship may have on the game world if it reaches its destination
safely. This section details all possible ship missions and what you need to
know about them.
These ships have no special marking at all; they are the most common in the
game. Merchants spawn in any port, and then sail to a different port belonging
to either the same nation or another nation they are not currently at war with.
They are usually the smallest kind of the regular merchant ship class used by
this nation: Trade Galleons for Spain, Fluyts for Holland, and Merchantmen for
England and France. Barques of all kinds (but mostly the medium size one) are
often used as well, or the medium size merchant ships (Royal Galleon, Large
Fluyt, Large Merchantman). Rarely you may see Sloops (only the small size)
or the largest kind of merchant ships (Treasure Galleon, West Indiaman, East
Indiaman). If you see several unmarked Treasure Galleons sailing in formation,
you just stumbled upon the Treasure Fleet (see paragraph 7.8).
If a regular merchant reaches its destination, this has a subtle effect on the
wealth of both the source and the destination port, helping them improve their
wealth ratings over time. If a merchant is intercepted, the destination port
is unaffected, and the source port loses part of its wealth. Consistently
taking ships as they come out of a port will reduce it to Poor fairly quickly.
Merchants are typically poorly defended, with a small crew (often smaller than
50) and only a few cannons. There are exceptions, though, and the better
defended ships often have a bigger loot. Some merchants bring along an escort,
and that's a dead giveaway that their ship holds something valuable.
Merchants typically have gold and a decent load of one specific kind of cargo;
often Goods or Sugar, but occasionally Luxuries or Spice.
Smugglers are basically merchants who trade with the enemy. Smuggler ships
spawn in any port, and sail to a port belonging to a nation its home port is
currently at war with. Smugglers often using Pinnace ships (always the medium
size kind), Sloops (the small ones) or Brigantines.
If a smuggler reaches its destination, only the destination port benefits from
it economically. Interestingly, though, the smuggler ship is considered to be
a loyal ship to the nation it comes from in terms of who gets happy and who
gets mad if you sink it.
Smugglers tend to be a little better armed than regular merchants, but this is
offset again by the fact that their ships are smaller. They usually just try to
escape if you attack one. Only the Brigantine using smugglers can pose some
Smugglers usually have a decent amount of gold, and a bit of cargo - almost
always something valuable like Luxuries or Spice. They also have a better than
normal chance of carrying specialists.
These rare prizes are some of the most sought after targets in the game.
Treasure Ships carry pure profit. They usually sail from one port to another,
but the Spanish Treasure Fleet spawns from Europe in the southeast corner of
the map (near Trinidad) at the beginning of every year, and consists of 3 or 4
Treasure Galleons sailing in formation. These ships, however, are not marked
'treasure ship' unless and until they leave the formation.
Treasure Ships are always the largest in the nation's merchant class of ships
(West Indiaman, East Indiaman, Treasure Galleon). They tend to have a large
number of cannons and a decent sized crew, and are often, but not always,
escorted by a warship as well. I'm not sure yet on what impact they have on
their source and destination ports if they reach their destination, but it
seems logical that they take wealth away from the source and make the
Treasure Ships carry both a large amount of gold (starting at 1000, going up
to as much as 3000 sometimes) and a large cargo of either Luxuries or Spice.
Sometimes both. They are the most profitable targets in the game.
Governor turnover in the Caribbean is extremely high. Very frequently,
settlements spawn small ships transporting governors to nearby ports belonging
to the same nation. The usual targets are poor ports, but it can happen
anywhere. If a governor reaches his destination, the wealth rating there is
instantly boosted; to Prosperous if it was Poor or Modest, or to Wealthy if it
was Prosperous. If the town was already Wealthy, it appears to get a population
boost instead (which might actually make the new rating Prosperous as the
wealth rating is relative to the population size).
Governor Transports are typically Sloops (small size) or Barques (medium size).
They are typically poorly defended and unescorted - perhaps hoping just not to
be seen - and have a fair amount of gold but no cargo to speak of on board.
You can spawn Governor Transports yourself by visiting a settlement and talking
to the Mayor. If there is at least one nearby port belonging to the same
nation, you will spawn a Governor Transport and be given the task of escorting
the governor. The game will also spawn one Privateer (two on higher levels) of
a random enemy nation directly between you and the destination port, which will
attempt to sink the governor's ship.
Immigrant Transports are a little less frequent than governors, but still quite
common. These ships spawn in settlements and head for a port belonging to the
same nation. If they arrive safely, the port gets a significant population
boost. This may make the wealth rating seem to drop a notch, as it is relative
to the size of the town. The boost can be up to 2000 depending on the type of
Immigrant transports are typically small merchant ships (Trade Galleon, Fluyt,
Merchantman). They are almost always poorly defended, with a small crew and
few cannons. They do carry a lot of gold - the personal fortune of all those
immigrants, no doubt - and have the highest chance of all ship types in the
game to carry specialists.
You can spawn Immigrant Transports yourself by visiting a Jesuit mission and
talking to the Abbot. Often, you will be given the opportunity to escort
immigrants to the nearest port of any of the four nations. Once you choose a
nation, the immigrant ship will take that nation's flag, and one or two enemy
Privateers (depending on level) will spawn between you and the target.
Seedling Transports are a rare kind of ship that doesn't spawn on its own, but
only as a specific mission for you. When you visit a settlement that doesn't
have any ports belonging to the same nation nearby, you will be given a chance
to escort a ship carrying hardy sugar seedlings. As with immigrants, you choose
what nation it's going to, and you bring them to the nearest port belonging to
Attacking the seedling ship is mostly pointless as it won't have much gold or
cargo on board. If you escort it to its destination, however (and as with the
governor and immigrant transports, you'll have enemy Privateers to deal with
along the way), its wealth rating will be boosted, and I believe its
population as well.
Seedling Transports appear to be Barques for the most part. They are poorly
defended and can definitely not fight off any Privateers on their own.
Grain Transports spawn from either settlements or ports - not sure which, it
might even be both - and head to a random port belonging to the same nation.
They are largely uninteresting targets which may have some gold, but never
much, and carry only food. They become interesting only if your crew is close
to starvation and you are desperately in need of new supplies.
Grain Transports are almost without exception Coastal Barques. They are,
completely without exception, poorly defended.
Raiders are warships sent out to blockade and harass an enemy port. They spawn
at any port, head for a specific port belonging to an enemy nation, attacking
any enemy ships along the way. When they reach the port, they will park in
front of it and bombard it for a while, lowering its population, wealth rating
and garrison size. If a Raider takes heavy damage during the blockade or
before, from combat, it will retreat to its home port.
Raiders are always Sloop, Brig, Frigate or (in the case of Spain) combat
Galleon type ships. They are usually not the biggest kind; Royal Sloop and
Brig of War sightings are rare. Frigate or combat Galleon Raiders are never the
biggest kind; you won't see Ship of the Line or Flag Galleon Raiders.
Raiders typically have little in terms of interesting cargo, but taking out
enemy warships is an excellent way to get on a nation's good side quickly. They
always have plenty of cannons and a decent sized crew, so they're not easy
Invasions forces spawn at any port - usually the best defended ones - and head
for a random enemy settlement or port in an attempt to capture it. If they
reach their destination, their attack either succeeds or fails, with the
chance depending on the size of the garrison (settlements are always captured
successfully). If the attack succeeds, the port or settlement now belongs to
the new nation; if it fails, the garrison size is reduced.
Invasion forces are always the largest kind of combat vessel - combat Galleons
for Spain, Frigates for the other nations. They may be either the small or the
medium variant, never a Flag Galleon or a Ship of the Line.
Invasion forces always have the maximum crew on board (however, they do not
take advantage of Triple Hammocks if the ship has them). They tend not to have
many guns. They're worth taking out for the prestige with the enemy nation and
if you want to prevent the invasion from happening, but there's very little to
plunder on a purely military ship like this.
Troop Transports are basically the peaceful variants of Invasion Forces. They
are often Brigs, occasionally Frigates/combat Galleons. Just like Invasion
Forces, however, they are fully stocked with troops and have few guns. Troop
Transports spawn in settlements, then head to a random port belonging to the
same nation; usually, but not always, a port that could do with some
reinforcements. If the troop ship reaches its destination, the garrison size is
Troop ships aren't worth taking out in terms of plunder, and don't gain you
all that much prestige. The main reason for going after one is to prevent the
reinforcing of a port you intend to plunder now or in the near future.
New Warships randomly spawn from settlements or ports and sail to a random
other port belonging to the same nation. They can be any kind of Sloop, Brig,
Frigate or combat Galleon, including the biggest ones; this is the most common
way to see a Ship of the Line. New Warships appear to spawn mostly randomly,
but one player reported seeing more of them from nations he pissed off a lot.
Perhaps they're reinforcements (or just a show of arms) from a nation that is
having a lot of trouble with pirates.
New warships always have the full complement of cannons, but only a small crew.
As such they're relative easy targets as warships go, and a good way to earn
prestige. Most of all, however, they're a great source of good ships to put to
use for your own pirating needs. If you need a Ship of the Line, this is the
kind of ship you want to keep an eye on.
New Warships are occasionally escorted. Think long and hard before you go into
a battle like that, as this means you'll be up against *two* heavily armed
Of all the military targets, this is the one that is actually worth grabbing
in terms of loot. Usually a Frigate or a Fast Galleon, these ships are well
armed and defended, but carry a good sum of gold. No Spices or Luxuries on
these ships, no fuss about selling them, just pure gold, often around
2000-3000. As if that isn't enough, stopping a payroll carrier earns you a lot
of prestige with the nation's enemies as well.
Military Payrolls spawn randomly in settlements and head to a random port
belonging to the same nation. If they reach the destination, the garrison size
Privateers are much like Raiders, except that they don't attack an enemy port.
They spawn in any port, then sail a few rounds and attack enemy ships until
they take on a fair bit of damage, at which point they'll head home again.
Privateers will turn into Pirate Hunters if you sail close to them and the
nation they belong to has a price on your head at the time.
Privateers also spawn if you take on a quest to escort sugar seedlings, a
governor or immigrants. In this case, if the nation you're escorting a ship for
is not at war with anybody, you may even see 'Pirate Privateer' ships. These
also spawn when you're escorting a Jesuit missionary.
Pirate Hunters either sail from ports, or are escort ships/raiders that break
from their current mission to chase you. They only show up when they're after
you specifically; they're always sent by nations that have a price on your
head. Often they come directly in response to an attack you've done nearby,
but if the price on your head is high, you will start seeing pirate hunters
sail spontaneously from hostile ports if you come near them, too. Similarly,
escorts and other warships might spontaneously turn into pirate hunters if you
come near and that nation is particularly anxious to capture you.
Pirate hunters will chase you, yelling at you to stand and fight, and shoot at
you as well until you shake them or engage them. If you flee into a friendly
port, pirate hunters will give up the chase and disappear from the map.
Pirate hunters usually have well upgraded ships with maximum cannon counts and
big crews. They normally sail Sloops (usually Sloop of War or Royal Sloop) or
Brigs (usually Brig or Brig of War). Occasionally you may Frigate/combat
Galleon size ships as well. It is possible for pirate hunters to sail in Flag
Galleons or Ships of the Line, but this is very rare. Those ships are much more
often seen as New Warships.
A pirate hunter usually has no loot or valuable cargo to speak of. You will
likely have to fight them purely in self defense.
Pirate raiders spawn from pirate havens and sail to a random nearby port
belonging to any of the four nations. They will then enter it and attempt to
plunder it. If successful, the town's wealth rating is brought down to Poor and
the population may decrease somewhat as well. If unsuccessful, the garrison
takes losses but the wealth remains unaffected.
Pirate raiders normally sail in Sloops or Brigs; usually not the largest kind.
Occasionally you may see them in Pinnaces as well. Pirates tend to have few
cannons but a large crew.
You can spawn pirate raiders yourself by visiting a pirate haven and talking to
the captain. You can then advise him to attack the nearest port of any of the
four nations, and they will send out a pirate to do just that. You could then
backstab and attack the pirate to score points with the four nations, or let
them hit the target. This can be a good tactic to soften up the defenses of a
strong town, but if the garrison is about 300 men or lower, there's a good
chance their attack will succeed, leaving the town robbed but the garrison
Pirate raiders sometimes have a decent amount of gold on board, and sometimes
not so much at all. It's luck of the draw. It's worth it to engage them anyway
though, since this is a surefire way to score points with everybody. And of
course, if a pirate raider is about to rob the town you were intended to
plunder, it is in your best interest to prevent them from doing so.
Unfortunately a pirate disappears after a successful raid, so you cannot
attack their booty-laden ships on the way back.
INDIAN WAR PARTY
From time to time, the local Indians decide it is time for a punitive raid on
a European port. At this time one, two or three War Canoes will leave a random
Indian village and sail to a nearby port. Like pirates, they will attack it,
and if they fail the garrison will be weakened. If they succeed, however, they
scare off population rather than lower the wealth rating. Both impact the
plunder you can get from the town, though.
Indian War Canoes always have 4 guns and 50 men on board. They will usually
attempt to flee if you attack them, and often succeed because they are very
fast and hard to catch. If you manage to board an Indian War Canoe, the crew
will surrender immediately; there is never a sword fight against the natives.
Their ships usually hold only a few tons of food and if they have any gold at
all, it will be very little. The only benefit in stopping Indians is if you
want to prevent them from hitting a town, or to score points with the
European nations. It's usually easier to go after pirates, though. War Canoes
become very hard to catch on higher levels.
You can spawn Indian War Canoes yourself by visiting a village and talking to
the Chief. You can then incite him to attack a nearby European port, and they
will send out three War Canoes for the job. As with inciting pirate raids, be
careful only to do this on well defended ports, because if the attack succeeds
you're left with a less profitable target that's still just as well defended
These rare ships only appear if you've been given the mission to escort one.
They carry either a peace treaty, an ultimatum, or an amnesty proposal. The
first two types are missions assigned by governors, and they will be to the
nearest port of a specific other nation. Escorting a peace treaty to its
target will trigger peace between two nations at war, and escorting an
ultimatum will cause war to break out. Amnesty proposals are spawned when you
talk to the Abbot at a mission, and he offers to have one of his monks speak
on your behalf to a nation that has a price on your head. If you deliver the
amnesty proposal safely to its target, the price on your head is lifted and
the nation in question is neutral toward you again.
Treaty carriers normally sail in Mail Runners, the largest kind of Pinnace.
Since this is the only time you'll ever see these ships, they're pretty rare.
Occasionally, they will also use Royal Sloops, not a common ship either and a
very desirable one at that. Either way, the ship tends to be poorly defended
and doesn't have much loot on board. You may find it worth it to backstab one
of these ships just for the ship itself, though, and you can delay (but
usually not prevent) two nations from making peace or declaring war by
intercepting the right kind of ship. Preventing war is usually pointless, but
there are good reasons to want two warring nations to remain at odds. War is
always profitable for privateers.
[8.3] SHIP UPGRADES
Note: all ship upgrades are done in port, and every shipwright has only one
specialty. These are random in every game, so you have to find out where to
get which upgrade done. Best way to find out is to talk to bartenders, who
will often hint at possible upgrades your flagship doesn't have yet if they can
be done in nearby ports. Your first ship in every game starts with the Grape
Shot and Chain Shot upgrades already in place, and ships captured from the
enemy might have any number of upgrades. Warships and pirates tend to have
some, and named enemies (like the most famous pirates, or the various evil
Spanish noblemen) tend to have most or all.
Allows the ship to use Grape Shot as an alternative ammunition type. Switch
to Grape Shot in battle by pressing 1; this can be done while the cannons are
loading and even when they're already loaded. Grape Shot has the shortest
range of all shot types and is hard to hit with. However, it mostly does
damage to the enemy crew, doing only very light damage against sails and hull.
It is perfect for weakening an enemy crew before boarding while leaving the
ship as intact as possible.
Allows the ship to use Chain Shot as an alternative ammunition type. Switch to
this by pressing 7 in battle. As with Grape Shot, you can do this at any time.
Chain Shot has better range than Grape Shot but not as much as regular Round
Shot does. When it hits, it mostly damages the enemy's sails but leaves its
hull intact. This is particularly useful if an enemy is threatening to outrun
you or maneuvering around you. A good broadside of this can cripple an enemy
ship without any real danger of sinking it before you have a chance to plunder
it. If you wipe out an enemy's sails entirely, they will always strike their
Cotton Sails improve the overall sailing speed of a ship, both in and out of
battle. Out of battle its usefulness is limited as, unless you get this upgrade
for all your ships, your flagship will still have to adapt its speed to
whatever the slowest vessel in your fleet is. But in battle the advantage of
Cotton Sails is too important to pass up; it can be the difference between
catching an enemy or not. Or when you're the one who is in danger, it can be
just what you need to escape. Especially on higher levels, actively search out
a port that can give this upgrade to your flagship as soon as possible.
Iron Scantings provide extra protection to a ship's hull, making it harder to
damage. Your ship will take less hull damage from enemy broadsides, allowing
you to sail that much longer. Only hull strength is affected, so damage to
your cannons, crew and sails is the same as always.
Bronze Cannons fire more accurately than regular iron ones. Your shots don't
spread out as much, and a small degree of auto-aiming takes place when you fire
your broadside. Overall, your broadsides will do considerably more damage with
Fine-grain Powder gives your cannons a better range for all three ammunition
types. Especially with the shorter range on Chain Shot and Grape Shot, this
difference can be very significant.
Triple Hammocks increase the maximum crew size of your ship by 50%. This
allows you to carry larger boarding parties into battle. Your crew size is hard
capped by the maximum carrying capacity of your ships (contrary to what the
manual states you are not allowed to overload), so this is one improvement you
might want to get for *all* your ships, not just your flagship. Particularly if
you're putting together a large crew for an imminent attack on a large Spanish
port. However, if you are deliberately keeping your crew small, it may be in
your best interest to use this upgrade sparingly or skip it entirely.
Copper Plating lets you turn your ships faster in battle. The importance of
this upgrade can't be overstated, as all your success in battle - be it with
gunnery, catching and boarding an enemy, or running away from a very angry Flag
Galleon - depends on being able to turn swiftly and outmaneuver your opponent.
While this upgrade won't turn a Galleon into a Sloop, it always helps, and
should be obtained as soon as possible.
[8.4] CREW SPECIALISTS
Enemy ships might carry specialists which you can recruit for your crew. This
happens automatically if you capture such a ship, and specialists remain with
your for life. They are basically "crew upgrades", each of them affecting a
different part of the game to your benefit.
Bartenders can often tell you if there's a ship sailing nearby that has a
specialist you don't have yet, so you can follow their advice to get them. You
can also just randomly attack ships and gather them soon enough; especially
when you don't have any yet, you'll find some easily. Smuggler ships have an
improved chance to have a specialist on board, and immigant ships in particular
have a very good chance. Seek these targets out specifically if you're after
Finally, if you capture Marquis Montalban (see section 7.6), you will get a
full complement of specialists right there and then if you didn't have them
The following specialists are available:
Carpenters are capable of making hull repairs at sea. At the start of each
month (signified by the sound of a bell), Carpenters repair 25% of the hull
damage on all your ships. Note, they repair a quarter of the damage, not 25%
worth of damage. So if a ship has 40% hull damage, a Carpenter will bring it
down to 30% at the start of the next month, then to 22% on the next month, et
cetera. The effect is therefore useful for emergency damage, but you'll still
do the bulk of your repairs in port.
Cooks prepare tasty meals at sea, which helps to keep crew morale up. With a
cook, you can basically go for longer without your crew getting unhappy.
Particularly on the higher levels where your crew tends to be unruly, this
makes a big difference. The Cook is therefore one of the most useful
specialists around. I haven't been able to put a number to it, though; too
many factors affect morale to be able to test the impact a Cook makes easily.
Coopers help you preserve your food in barrels. In gameplay terms, this cuts
your food consumption in half, and thus lets you sail twice as long with the
same amount of food. This saves you money for supplies, decreases the risk of
starvation and frees up cargo space for more valuable goods. All in all, a
specialist you want to have.
Gunners train your crew in fast reloading. Your accuracy is unaffected - that's
what Bronze Cannons are for - but the reloading speed is increased
significantly. About twice as fast, as far as I can tell. This is an important
advantage in battle, depending on how often you rely on your guns. If you're
the kind of pirate who prefers to ram the enemy without using your cannons at
all, you'll likely be indifferent about the Gunner. But on higher levels you
usually don't have the luxury of not using them, making the Gunner much more
Navigators increase the speed of your ships both in and out of battle. It
should be obvious that this is a significant improvement: shorter voyages and
better battle results. As with the other upgrades that affect speed - Cotton
Sails on your ships and the Navigation skill for yourself - you'll find this
especially helpful when sailing against the wind. Saves you a lot of headaches.
I haven't yet been able to determine exactly how much of a difference the
Navigator makes, but it is noticeable.
The quartermaster enforces discipline at sea. This manifests itself in the same
way as the Cook's special ability: your crew remains happy for longer than
usual. The Cook and the Quartermaster seem to be equally effective, and they're
also cumulative. You'll want to get them both at your earliest opportunity,
especially if you intend to maintain large crews for a long period of time.
Just like the Carpenter repairs damaged hulls over time, sailmakers do the same
to sails. A quarter of the sail damage on all of your ships is repaired at the
start of every month. As with the Carpenter, the repairs are nice for
emergencies but not very effective.
Surgeons can treat injured crew members. This basically manifests itself as
fewer losses in battles of all kinds, as crew members who might otherwise die
or be too injured to continue sailing can now be patched up. In ship battles,
the difference is obvious; half of the people lost during the sword fight
return to duty afterwards. The impact during naval battles and land battles is
not as easy to figure out, but I suspect it may be the same, cutting losses in
half. The surgeon does not affect the decay of your character's health over
time; only Medicine skill and two of the special items help with this.
[8.5] SPECIAL ITEMS
This section describes the special items you can get over the course of the
game, and their effect. There are a whopping 17 categories of items, and two
in each category; the basic item and the upgraded one that has a stronger
effect along the same lines.
Items can be obtained in three ways:
- They can be bought from mysterious travellers in taverns. They offer a random
item for sale sometimes, a one time offer for a flat fee of gold. How much gold
depends on the item, the wealth rating of the town, and the difficulty level.
Prices also seem to rise over the course of the game; perhaps depending on
passage of time, but more likely depending on how many items you already have.
I've seen Ruby Rings for as little as 600 gold on Apprentice level but as much
as 3300 on Swashbuckler. Similarly, I've seen a Dutch Rutter for sale for 6000
gold on Apprentice so I dread to think how much that would cost on higher
- Items can be gotten as ransom from fugitive criminals. When you catch a
criminal, they will often offer you an item if you allow them to escape. If you
accept this offer, you forfeit your gold reward and a chance to make the nation
that wants him happy; the criminal disappears forever. But if the reward is low
and/or the item is good, it can be a good deal. Particularly on the higher
levels, where travellers will make you pay through the nose for their items.
- Finally, items can be given as gifts by governor's daughters you have
impressed sufficiently with your dancing or with subsequent actions on return
visits. You normally get a choice between two and four different items.
However, not all items can be obtained this way. I've indicated in the item
descriptions which items can and can't be given out by governor's daughters. It
appears that if there is only one item choice left, you don't actually get it,
but you get a criminal quest instead.
Below is a list of all items in the game and their effects. I have sorted them
from most to least important in the eyes of yours truly.
3-STRINGED FIDDLE / CONCERTINA
Among the most important items, these help keep your crew happy. They basically
work by extending the time it takes for your crew to become unhappy, just like
the Quartermaster and Cook specialists do, and like getting more gold in your
hold does. The Concertina has a stronger effect.
You'll want to get these at your first opportunity, particularly on the later
levels. Fortunately they are often offered by governor's daughters.
MEDICINAL HERBS / INCAN MYSTIC SALVE
Another important set of items, these are harder to find. They increase your
health, basically ensuring that A) you don't get slower with age as quickly and
B) you can extend your career for longer. The effect of these items is
retroactive, so even if you acquire them late in your career, your health will
be boosted right back up. The Incan Mystic Salve has a stronger effect. Have
them both as well as skill at Medicine and you can extend your career as far as
age 54 (farther if you don't divide up the plunder). Have neither these items
nor the Medicine skill, and you will already be too old to start a new
expedition at age 42.
Get these items when you can; an extended career is never a bad thing, and even
if you don't need more than 24 years for your game you will still be in better
health (and thus remain faster in sword battles). I've never seen a governor's
daughter offer these, but you can get them from travellers in taverns.
RUBY RING / DIAMOND NECKLACE
By far the most common item in the game (at least the Ruby Ring is), this is
also the only class of item you can lose once you've got it. Basically, these
are gifts for the governor's daughter, which can be given to her on your
second visit (after you danced with her the first time). This advances the
romance subplot and will also get you a reward in return. Which reward it is
depends on the beauty of the daughter and the item you gave her. A Ruby Ring
does the same as dancing adequately would, and a Diamond Necklace is equivalent
to a perfect dance.
You can't get these items from a governor's daughter (obviously). However, you
will find the Ruby Ring is the single most offered item by travellers in
taverns. In fact, you probably want to get one and hold on to it if you want
them to offer you anything else, because they'll rarely do otherwise. You can
only have one of either item at a time, but as soon as you give them away to
governor's daughters you can obtain new ones.
CALFSKIN BOOTS / DANCING SLIPPERS
These items are particularly popular because they help with dancing, which many
people consider the hardest part of the game. These items have mostly the same
effect as the Wit and Charm skill (and are cumulative with it): when you press
the wrong button during a dance scene, or the wrong one, there is a flat %
chance that the move succeeds anyway, though without a flourish. In addition,
unlike the Wit and Charm skill, these items may even prevent you from stumbling
if you fail to press any key at all in time.
So basically, these items help cover up mistakes, and that means your overall
dancing ratings will come out better. The Dancing Slippers offer a higher
percentage and let you get away with even more slip ups. I haven't yet worked
out the actual percentages, but the difference is noticeable. The Dancing
Slippers seemed to cover about half of my mistakes easily. Note that neither
item will help you do more flourishes, but they should help you get through a
dance somewhat gracefully if you don't have the hang of it.
These items are never offered by a governor's daughter. You may be able to get
them from travellers, but they're not commonly seen. If a fugitive criminal
offers you these in exchange for his freedom, I suggest you give it some
SET OF BALANCED SWORDS / SET OF PERFECTLY BALANCED SWORDS
Since you are going to do more swordfighting than anything else in the game,
most likely, items that help you with this are among the more important ones
to have. This is particularly true on the higher levels where a few of your
opponents can be very tough, or if your character is aging and becomes slower
in combat. Balanced swords improve the speed of your attacks. They may also
improve your speed at defending, but I'm not positive on that one. The
perfectly balanced swords have a stronger effect.
Balanced swords are easy to get from travellers and governor's daughters alike.
FENCING SHIRT (PUFFY) / SILK FENCING SHIRT
Fencing shirts are the other item to improve combat speed, and as such just as
important to have as balanced swords. They improve the speed of all your
defensive moves - parrying, jumping and ducking - and may improve attack speed
as well. Not sure about that. The Silk Fencing Shirt is more effective than the
Like balanced swords, fencing shirts are often offered by governor's daughters
as gifts. Getting them early should be no problem.
ONE-SHOT PISTOL / BRACE OF PISTOLS
Owning a pistol, apart from adding a cool extra scene to the start of battles,
gives you an edge in terms of your starting position in combat. Normally when
a sword fight starts you and your opponent are in "neutral" positions in the
middle of the battlefield, and it takes an equal number of blows for either to
be driven back so far that they'll be defeated. A one shot pistol shifts the
balance one step in your favour at the beginning; a brace of pistol gives you
two free steps. It is basically the same as getting a free thrust or chop/slash
on your opponent, respectively.
Pistols are easily obtained both from governor's daughters and travellers.
LEATHER VEST / METAL CUIRAISS
Armor is the final enhancement battle for sword fights. Leather Vests give you
a % chance to deflect a thrust; the Metal "Cuiraiss" (their typo, not mine)
gives an even better chance at this. If a thrust is deflected by your armour,
you are not driven back and any attack you were setting up is not foiled. As
far as I can tell, armor has no effect on enemy chops and slashes.
Like the other battle items, armor can be gotten both from travellers and
QUALITY SPYGLASS / FINE TELESCOPE
After the battle items I'd consider this one among the more useful things to
have. Spyglasses improve the range at which you spot other ships at sea.
Without them, you don't necessarily see ships even if they're close enough to
be displayed on the overhead view (depending, of course, on how far you are
zoomed in). The Quality Spyglass improves the range at which you see them
somewhat, and the Fine Telescope is good enough to let you spot pretty much all
ships that sail into the range of your screen.
The spyglass items can be obtained from travellers and governor's daughters
WEATHER GLASS / PRECISION BAROMETER
more effective Precision Barometer reduce the damage caused to your ships by
sailing through storms. This damage isn't so bad to begin with (at least on the
lower difficulty levels), and usually you can avoid sailing through storms
(though once again, on the lower difficulty levels you can afford more in terms
of straying from your course). These items are useful, but not vital. Buy them
from a traveller if offered and affordable, or get them from a governor's
daughter if she has nothing better to offer.
DUTCH RUTTER / SPANISH RUTTER
The Dutch Rutter contains the names and locations of a number of "hidden"
settlements, missions, Indian villages and pirate havens. The Spanish Rutter
contains even more. What these items do is add these locations to your world
map, which is convenient but not vital. They do not actually cause new
settlements to spawn in the game like I thought they might; they just reveal
the existing ones to you. This is decently useful item but nothing vital.
Mostly interesting if you rely a lot on Indians and pirates to weaken down
ports for you, or you just like to lure them out and then ambush them to
improve your standing with the four nations. Or to find the nearest mission
easily if you're looking for free information on Raymondo.
Rutters can be bought from travellers but tend to be among the most expensive
items they offer. You're probably better off getting them from a governor's
daughter at some point.
FRENCH CHAPEAU / OSTRICH FEATHER HAT
These two stylish items of clothing allow you to get invited to the ball
easier. The French Chapeau lets you bypass the requirement to be a Colonel to
dance with an attractive daughter, and the Ostrich Feather Hat lets you dance
with beautiful daughters even if you're not a Baron. It is theorized that they
will also let you see the daughters more often in general (i.e. they'll show
up more often if you visit the governor) but I'm not so sure about that part.
One way or another, getting promoted is usually not a big problem (at least not
to Colonel) and you get to see governor's daughters quite often as it is, so
these items have low priority. Note that you cannot get stylish clothing from
FALSE MUSTACHE / THEATRICAL DISGUISE
Wealthy Spanish ports will often refuse to trade with you if your relations
with Spain aren't very good. The likelihood of this depends on how much Spain
hates you and how poor (i.e. desperate) the port in question is. The False
Mustache helps ease the equation and make it easier for you to trade even in
hostile ports, while the Theatrical Disguise ensures that you are always
allowed to trade no matter what.
The usefulness of these items is limited as they only apply to trading, not to
being able to get into the port in the first place. Not much use being
allowed to trade in Spanish ports even when they have a price on your head,
when there is no way to sail your ship into port in the first place. You would
only be able to sneak in (and then you can't trade), or plunder the port and
trade directly after; and if you plunder a port it typically ends up so poor
that you'd be able to trade with them to begin with. As such, these items have
little practical use as far as I can tell.
Disguise items can't be obtained from governor's daughters.
LOCKPICKING KIT / SKELETON KEY
If you're down on your luck and get captured, you might find yourself
imprisoned for quite a few months. With luck you'll get a chance to try and
escape along the way. You can help Lady Luck a little by having either or both
of these items; a chance to escape will come sooner and assuming you do not
mess up the sneaking out of town part, you can escape very quickly and thus
shorten your time in captivity if worst comes to worst. The Skeleton Key offers
you an opportunity even more quickly than the Lockpicking Kit does.
These items will probably be of little value to you, though. Most players
would reload the game if they lose a battle and get captured, anyway; the fact
that an autosave is done right before every battle certainly encourages this.
But if you decide to play a game in which you do not allow yourself to rely
on saving and loading to get you out of trouble, you'll likely find these items
somewhat more important.
Lockpicking items can't be obtained from governor's daughters.
SIGNALING MIRROR / SIGNAL FLARE
The signaling items serve the same purposes as the lockpicking ones, except
that these are meant for when you are marooned rather than captured. The time
it takes for a ship to pick you up is shortened by the Signaling Mirror and
shortened even more by the Signal Flare. Once again, how important you find
this is going to depend on whether or not you just reload your game if you
lose your last ship. If you do, these items are useless. If you don't, their
value to you is going to depend on how often it happens to you.
Signaling items can't be obtained from governor's daughters.
GOLDEN CROSS / SACRED RELIC
The purpose of the Golden Cross and the Sacred Relic was to be to improve your
standing with the Jesuit Missionaries, making them more likely to offer you
missions or offer to speak on your behalf to a nation that has a price on your
head. However, Jesuit relations were never implemented in the game; you are
always on good terms with them. As such, these items do nothing and you needn't
waste your money on them.
SHRUNKEN HEAD / CARVED SHAMAN STAFF
Similar to the Golden Cross and the Sacred Relic, these items are meant to
improve your standing with native Indians and make it easier to convince them
to attack a port on your behalf. However, the same situation arises here;
Indians are always friendly to you no matter what, making the items useless.
[8.6] RANKS AND BENEFITS
Rank is earned by making certain nations happy with you and then visiting their
governors afterwards. You get a happiness point for every merchant ship you
take that belongs to an enemy of the nation in question, as well as for serving
them in another minor way (catching a criminal, intercepting an enemy governor,
helping them get a special shipment of some sort through). You earn 2 or more
happiness points if you sack an enemy town, capture one for them (this is
cumulative!), or take an enemy warship. For the purposes of 'taking' an enemy
ship, capturing and destroying both count, and even just engaging a ship and
then fleeing or letting them flee counts as long as you damaged it.
In your Captain's Log, you will see little flags next to every action you've
taken that has made a nation happy. A small flag is 1 point, a large flag is 2
or more points. Hovering your mouse over them will pop up a text like "Dutch
happy" or "French very happy" which also indicates the difference between 1
point or several. You may see "Pirates happy" for some actions too (most
notably striking military targets), but this has no effect on the game, as
pirate relations are not actually implemented.
You lose happiness points with a nation if you destroy any of their ships or
sack any of their towns. How bad these losses are, and how many happiness
points are needed to get promoted to each rank depends on the difficulty level.
On Apprentice, if England and France are at war and you destroy one ship of
either, they're both happy and neither cares that you took one of their own
ships out too. Try that on Swashbuckler and they'll both be mad. Simply put,
on higher levels your transgressions are taken more seriously and your exploits
don't impress as easily. Here, pick your battles carefully to avoid pissing off
all four nations at once.
The following is a list of all ranks and the benefits you get with a certain
nation for earning one. Veterans of the old Pirates games will notice that the
Ensign rank has been scrapped.
Captain % bonus to recruiting in taverns
Major % discount on ship repairs
Colonel Merchant offers more goods and has more gold
Admiral % discount on ship upgrades
Baron Boosts recruitment bonus further
Count Free ship repairs
Marquis Boosts merchant bonuses further
Duke Free ship upgrades
Benefits only count in a port belonging to the nation you hold the rank in
question with. French ports couldn't care less if you're an English Duke. Note
that even if you piss off a nation enough to make them put any kind of price on
your head, you retain the rank (and the fame points) and the associated
benefits. Though you might have a hard time claiming them if every port
belonging to your former ally opens fire as you approach it.
Rank also is a factor in which governor's daughters are willing to dance with
you (and thus start the romance cycle). Plain daughters will be willing to
dance with Captains and up, attractive daughters with Colonels and up, and
beautiful daughters with Barons and up. These requirements can be bypassed to
an extent with the French Chapeau and Ostrich Feather Hat special items.
[8.7] FAME POINTS
Fame points are the closest thing you have to a score in Pirates; a numerical
representation of the success of your exploits. You earn points in specific
categories up to a certain maximum. About half of these points come from how
wealthy you've managed to become and what ranks you have reached with the
various nations. The rest comes from completion of the game's various quests.
A "perfect" game, in which you get the maximum ranks, enough wealth to qualify
for all wealth points and full completion of all side quests, would earn you
the maximum of 126 fame points. On the personal status screen, fame points are
referred to as 'achievement points' instead, but it's the same thing.
Fame points are divided into the following categories:
Fame points for wealth are earned based on how much land you've been granted,
and how many gold pieces you've managed to put away for yourself. Land grants
are given in addition to promotions if you've done particularly well, and as
alternatives to promotions once you have achieved the rank of Duke with any
country. They come in units of 50 acres. Gold flows into your pocket whenever
you divide up the plunder at the end of an expedition; you get a set percentage
of the total loot based on the difficulty level you're playing, unrelated to
how many men your loot is divided amongst.
I have yet to determine the formula for wealth, but I've found the following to
- The first wealth points are easier to get than the last ones; the difference
between the 23rd and 24th point is much, much greater than the requirement for
the first point;
- Land is much more valuable than gold, so 10000 acres of land equals more
wealth than 10000 gold pieces. In a typical game, nearly all of your wealth
score tends to come from land grants;
- About 30000 acres of land appears to be enough for 24 wealth points
regardless of how much gold you have brought in.
More fame points to be gained here than anywhere else, and the formula is
simple: every promotion gains you 1 point. There are 8 ranks and 4 nations to
gain them with, so if you manage to become a Duke in all four nations, you get
the maximum of 32 fame points for rank. Whereas if you only managed to become
a Captain with England and a Major with France, you'd have to make do with 3
There are 9 other named pirates out in the Caribbean of various levels of
strength. Each pirate you track down and defeat in a naval battle earns you a
fame point. It doesn't matter if you capture his ship or sink it, though you
always want to capture them as they carry large amounts of gold.
Each of the named pirates has a treasure hidden somewhere in the Caribbean,
which you can find if you buy at least one map piece off a mysterious traveller
in a nearby tavern. The value of the treasures varies between 2000 and 10000
gold - based on which pirate it is, the higher ranked pirates have the bigger
treasures - and each one earns you a fame point for finding it. As well as the
wrath of the owner, if he's still alive.
LOST RELATIVES (16)
You have four lost relatives - your sister, your uncle, your aunt and your
grandfather - held captive in the Caribbean. To find them, you must learn the
location of the evil Baron Raymondo, track him down and defeat him in battle
either on land (sword fight only) or on sea (naval battle followed by sword
fight). Each time you find him he'll give you a piece of the map to find the
next relative in line, and you'll need to track him down and fight him again
for additional pieces.
You get 4 fame points for every relative you find and rescue, and a fraction of
that for merely getting pieces of the relevant map. Rescuing all four family
members gets you the maximum 16 points. You reach 16 even if you only rescue
the first three and complete the map for your grandfather's location without
ever rescuing him.
LOST CITIES (16)
There are four lost Indian cities in the Caribbean, which you may find if you
get map pieces either from governor's daughters or from rescued family members.
This is worth doing as every city holds a treasure of no less than 50000 gold,
and you get 4 fame points for every lost city you find. A fraction of that is
earned for getting map pieces but not finding the city in question. Finding all
four cities makes you a very wealthy man, and gets you the maximum 16 fame
points too. As before, though, you can also get 16 points by finding three
Lost Cities and completing the map for the fourth without locating it.
Your romance score is determined by how far you managed to get with any
governor's daughter, and how beautiful said daughter was. Just having danced
with a plain looking daughter will earn you only 1 fame point, but you get
far more if you manage to marry any daughter. The maximum of 10 is only earned
if you marry a daughter in the "beautiful" category, so be picky if you are
after a maximum score. You can only marry once.
The last 10 fame points are earned for tracking down and capturing the evil
Marquis Montalban who wronged your family. This is a long and complicated
quest - easily the most time consuming in the game - but is well worth it.
A full 100.000 gold await in his hideout, and capturing him gets you the
maximum of 10 fame points for this quest. Merely defeating him in ship battles
a few times and thus getting parts of the map to his hideout will earn you a
fraction of this - 2 for every quarter of the map, so 8 for completing it. You
must actually track down and defeat Montalban for the final 2 points.
[8.8] RETIREMENT JOBS
Your job when you retire is determined solely by how many fame points you have
earned. It is a direct representation of how well you did as a pirate. Here is
a list of jobs and the range your fame needs to be in to get this specific job.
The list has been updated and appears to be fully accurate now. All previous
cases of conflicting information have been checked and confirmed. If you get
different results, I'd appreciate an e-mail with a screenshot of your final
|FAME RANGE |