How to Conquer and Get Rich in Sid Meier's Pirates

Four Parts:Gathering Your MenSecuring the Needs of Your CrewPlundering and ProfitingManaging Your Ship

Sid Meier's Pirates is one of the most addictive games for PC and Xbox. In it you get to play a leading man, the captain of your very own ship after having survived a tragic past. You crave vengeance for the death of your family; you seek their killer, the evil Marquis. To do that, you must first look for a way to gain a good ship and gold. Your number one goal that will lead to your victory in this game is through acquiring riches. Now you can learn how to become the best pirate in the world.

Part 1
Gathering Your Men

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    Recruit your crew. Your crew is central to all your pirating efforts. You need skilled and brave men to sail your ship, and fight your battles with. The bigger the crew under your command, the bigger the targets you can face, and the more you can afford to lose.
    • You get to have a 40-member crew at the start of the game, and the first thing you have to do is to recruit more. Keep in mind to have enough space in your ship to store food to keep your crew well-fed on long journeys.
    • Starting with an 80-strong crew or more is ideal, but frequent restocking of supplies when visiting cities becomes a necessity if you're planning to be at sea for a long time.
    • Remember, a bigger crew isn’t necessarily a good thing. The more men in your ship, the more food you need, and the harder it is to keep them happy.
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    Recruit from taverns. Do this at any town, including the pirate haven although not in all settlements. Remember, once you're done recruiting in a particular town, you can't do it again for a while. Also, the number of men you can recruit depends on your rank within the nation, the wealth of the town, the happiness of your current crew, and your reputation for having profitable voyages.
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    Recruit from other ships. When you defeat an enemy ship, and its sailors survive, some of them can be coaxed to join your crew. The size of your current crew and their happiness is a major factor at this point. If you need more men after the battle, it's good to replace these captured sailors, but it's much more advisable that you recruit pirate crews at shore instead.
    • Crew members thrown overboard in battle by cannon impacts will be picked up. These sailors are added directly to your crew for the duration of the battle. However, only half of them tend to stay on afterward.
    • If you switch to a ship smaller than the one you had, you will lose your excess crew once you sell or lose your previous ship. Losing crew this way is rather painless as these sailors do not take any gold along with them.

Part 2
Securing the Needs of Your Crew

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    Try to keep your crew number low. Your crew is key to how strong a pirate you will be. It would seem logical that the bigger your crew, the bigger the ships you can plunder, and so much more to be gained. However, a huge crew means more expense and more cargo space needed, and with supplies drying up more quickly forcing you to restock at the nearest city or to attack ships merely to keep your crew satisfied.
    • Most players feel 200-men crew is sufficient for expeditions that don't involve attacking well-defended towns. This number can even win in tough ship battles.
    • When attacking smaller ships, don't take 500 men with you as that number is for taking over large cities.
    • The wisest thing to do is not to keep a bigger crew than what you actually need.
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    Keep your crew happy. Crew happiness is crucial, and quite complicated to maintain. Adequate food supply is definitely in order, but another way to keep them happy is by having a sizable loot in your hands. An unsatisfied, poorly-motivated crew will appear weak during battle, will be slow in reloading cannons and in raising or lowering of sails, and will likely make you lose in combat.
    • A Cooper specialist helps keep food from spoiling, halves the rate at which food is consumed, and helps you get away with buying less.
    • If you have long travels and running low with supplies, attack other ships to restock.
    • Remember that where there’s unhappiness, mutiny is not far behind, and your mutinous sailors could very well depart with one of your ships along with all its cargo and gold.
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    Avoid very long expeditions. Expeditions that are too long decrease the morale of your crew. With weeks and months on end with no sight of land and home, your unhappy crew can cause your sailing speed to be inconsistent, and your turning rate to drop. If you have to be away for lengthy amounts of time, make sure there’s lots of food and loot.

Part 3
Plundering and Profiting

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    Get rich. Getting wealthy only makes up a fifth of your final fame score, but most likely you’ll be pursuing gold as your main objective throughout the game anyway. You will need to plunder ships, and with your captured ship, you can replace your old one and gain more space for food, ammunition, and more crew.
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    Plunder pirate ships. This will take up most of your time. Any captured pirate ship will most likely have at least supplies and some gold. If you’re lucky, it will have valuable cargo you can sell for gold. How profitable this becomes depends a lot on the targets you strike:
    • Indian War Canoes. This kind of ship bears little or no gold at all, and not worth the attack unless you're trying to impress the European nations. War ships have about the same yield, but attacking Indians makes you popular with all four nations, while war ships boost your reputation quicker than trade vessels.
    • Grain Transport. Attack this ship if you have very low food supply to avoid starvation, but prepare to find an insignificant amount of gold aboard.
    • Merchant Ships. These are loaded with a decent amount of gold and cargo—low-value such as sugar, high-value such as luxuries and spices, or both.
    • Loot varies a lot among the small-ship types, e.g., Trade Galleon, Merchantman, and Fluyt.
    • Bigger merchant ships are usually big for a reason. They tend to carry a good supply of gold and cargo.
    • If any merchant ship has an escort, that's a clear sign that it has something worth protecting on board.
    • During combat, make sure to put down the escort as well for it is known to occasionally carry a bulk of gold.
    • Smugglers. These tend to be easy targets and have a small yet good cargo of luxuries, spice, and even some gold as well. Smugglers have a higher chance of having specialists on board.
    • Unnamed Pirates. Their loot depends on their luck. Sometimes they have little to nothing, and then there are times when they’ve just had a good plundering run before you caught up with them.
    • Military Payroll and Treasure Ships. This is an easy way to get gold without having to sell cargo. Payroll ships usually carry only gold, while treasure ships have a good load of luxuries and spices aside from gold. These ships are heavily defended as attacks are expected, so a whole other fleet may act as escort, both brandishing 30 guns which, needless to say, will be quite painful.
    • Named Villains. These are people on the wanted list with a bounty on their head, ranging from 2,000 to 5,000 gold. If you ever encounter ships with the name of Mendoza, Raymondo, and Montalban, take them out immediately.
    • Named Pirates. Especially the most famous ones, they have the best loot in the game. Their loot increases over the course of the game, and you get 10% of what the top ten pirates screen lists as the total amount of gold they've plundered. Be warned, these pirates have very powerful ships, so come prepared.
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    Plunder the towns. This requires a bigger crew to pull off. Earn more gold by sacking the various towns in the Caribbean, targeting the wealthy ones and followed by the prosperous. Modesty as well as poor towns won’t be worth the effort.
    • Defenses in towns are not always balanced. For example, there are poor towns with a surprisingly strong garrison. Similarly, there are wealthy cities with weak defenses, especially those that are just recently rich.
    • If your target has great defense, soften up the garrison by convincing pirates and Indians to attack it. Keep in mind that each pirate or Indian can only be set on a town belonging to a nation closest to them.
    • Usually a garrison is bigger than 300 soldiers. Once attacked by pirates or Indians, the garrison will be thinned out or the town is left unharmed.
    • If the attack succeeds, it's a different story. A pirate attack reduces a town's wealth rating to “poor” instantly, and a successful Indian attack will scare off a sizable portion of the population.
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    Sell goods. Get goods either by purchasing them from the town merchants or steal them from ships. You will get better results selling in the towns of a nation wherein you’re a Colonel or, better yet, a Marquis. These two ranks give you trading bonuses, and the town will have more goods for sale and also have more gold in reserve.

Part 4
Managing Your Ship

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    Choose your ship wisely. Choosing a ship is vital for your journey and raids. The game only has nine different classes of ships. The best one depends on what you intend to do with it.
    • Pinnace. Ships of this kind include the smallest ship in the game; have very low capacity for guns, crew, and cargo; and can be very vulnerable in battle. However, being the fastest and best-turning ships, they're quite hard to hit and perform quite well even against the wind.
    • Sloop. Excellent as small ships go, they’re fast like the Pinnace, but can carry larger crews. Sloops are the most popular choice for a flagship, and many players stick with them for their high speed and ability to dodge hits during battle.
    • Brig. A bit larger than Sloops but possessing of good speed and the ability to sail against the wind. Brigs are clearly a balance between agility and heavy armament. The Brig of War is an excellent ship and a popular choice for a flagship.
    • Frigate. Frigates are the best choice in terms of large ships with lots of room for guns and a capacity to hold huge crews.
    • Combat Galleon. Fast Galleon, War Galleon, and Flag Galleon fall in this category. Their power is comparable to a Frigate, but they’re far slower. They can speed up when going with the wind, but significantly slows down against it.
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    Upgrade your ship. The more powerful your ship, the easier it will be to conquer and win. With the gold you’ve plundered and/or earned from trading, upgrade your ship to a faster one with better sails and a stronger cannon for more firepower. Upgrade by visiting one of the major cities, specifically the port.
    • Upgrades may be unavailable in some cities, so it's best to go to a merchant. In no time, you will climb the ranks, become a duke, and marry a governor's beautiful daughter.

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