Sid Meier's Pirates! Strategy
How to Pillage and Plunder with a Purpose
Sid Meier’s Pirates! offers the promise of riches and fame, sailing and buccaneering your way through the Spanish Main during the 17 th Century. Part of the game’s appeal is that it is incredibly open-ended and replayable. However, while Sid Meier’s Pirates! is easy to pick up and play, the game can seem so free-form to newcomers, that it’s sometimes hard to know what to try first. So, here are a few tips to put you on the right career path to achieve legendary pirate status.
It’s a Pirate’s Life for Me
Assuming you’ve played at least one game, there is no need to start at Apprentice level when setting up your pirate character. But don’t get too cocky! Try starting at Journeyman, which can give you enough of a challenge to keep things interesting at the beginning of the game, without putting your pirate at undue risk of capture or injury.
First off, don’t automatically select skill at Fencing. While this is certainly fun, after your first couple of games, you should have a handle on sword fighting, and you don’t need this skill as a crutch. (If you need more prowess in this area, just train with a captain of the guard, whose expertise is often offered by a sympathetic governor.)
All of the other skills—Gunnery, Navigation, Wit & Charm—are noteworthy, but instead, I suggest you try skill at Medicine. You see, as your pirate ages, particularly after 30, he tends to slow down, lose his ability to recover from battle, and so forth. Trust me: You’ll thank me when your pirate is still spry past the age of 40.
For start date, stick with 1660 – The Buccaneer Heroes. This is the most advantageous pirate era, and you can always try other start dates as you gain more experience. One thing I particularly like about starting in 1660 is that you have the British town of Port Royale available, which is a wonderfully centralized base of operations in the Caribbean.
This Ship Is England (or France , or…)
Depending on which nationality you’ve chosen, you will likely have either a Sloop or Brig at your disposal – the former is more maneuverable, the latter has more firepower; either is suitable to begin your pirate career. If you are unsure, always go for a Sloop whenever available. It can more easily escape when outgunned, and handles better even in relatively calm seas.
On your first foray into town, make friends with the local governor and get a Letter of Marque if possible; during 1660, almost all nations are at war at one time or another, and the majority of them stay in conflict with Spain for most of the game, leaving you plenty of juicy (and ostensibly legal) targets.
Any Port in a Storm
As your reputation grows, you’ll be able to recruit more and more crew
The local barmaid keeps you abreast of nearby gold-laden vessels and pirate rivals
A mysterious stranger can lead you to buried treasure or lead you to clues about your family members’ whereabouts
No one knows as much about the price of goods and beauties of the Spanish Main as the local bartender
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