Sid Meier’s Pirates! Fun Guide - Guide for Sid Meier s Pirates!

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Sid MeierÂ’s Pirates!
Fun Guide
by J.K. Millard
jmillard@usa.com
Copyright©2005, MCO Inc., All Rights Reserved

I never played the original Sid MeierÂ’s Pirates! DOS game that captivated so many 
gamers, so my first experience is with the latest issue, which I find great fun!

To date, I have acquired more than $1.2 million in gold, have retained almost 
$37,000 and 67,000 acres of estate, served over 400 months at sea with a “happy” 
crew, have married a beautiful GovernorÂ’s Daughter, save my entire family, 
defeated 
nine other Famous Pirates, as well as the  pesky Baron Raymondo and the evil 
Marquis Montalban, and swept the Spanish and French from the high seas (but not 
the 
pesky Dutch, for strategic reason explained herein), giving the English control 
of 
virtually the entire fabled Spanish Main — all at the tender young age of 80. For 
a 
game that considers 40 over the hill, this is quite an accomplishment!

The tips that follow will help you on your way to the same success.

This document is not intended to be a full-blown strategy guide, but more of 
intriguing ways to completely enjoy the game without some of its quirky aspects 
getting in the way. I have read the game documentation, as well as the 
commercially 
available strategy guide, and have made every effort not to duplicate any of the 
information in either publication. In any event, all the information I provide is 
based on my own personal playing experience. In fact, there is an aspect in my 
gameplay that was, I am sure, never anticipated by Sid Meier, and is certainly 
not 
covered by the commercial guide.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Before you install the game be sure your video drivers are up 
to 
date. I had an early and continuing frustration (and, from what I read online and 
in national publications, shared by others) with the game locking up whenever I 
entered a swordfight or dance until I discovered a late breaking update that 
fixed 
everything.

Getting Started

The first decisions you must make are levels of experience, talents, and period. 
Accept the defaults in almost any case.

As you progress in your career, you can always adjust your experience — up or 
down. 
The main advantage is the higher experience levels allow you to retain a larger 
percentage of loot when you decide to divide it with your crew. The disadvantage 
in 
higher experience levels is markedly deteriorated skill set, even at the lower 
levels. At first, I thought this was because I had increased my experience levels 
late in the game, when my character was old (mid-40s!?) and in poor health. But 
when I started a new game at a mid- or high-skill level, I experienced the same 
slowdown, even as a young pup. And I still can’t understand the “swirling” 
graphic 
around my characterÂ’s head, early in a career and early in a sword fight. Someone 
will explain that, I am sure. For now, however, itÂ’s a puzzlement.

Because your basic skill needed to capture ships, loot, and goods is centered on 
the swordfight (for the most part, at least; see below for alternative 
strategies), 
chose the swordsmanship skill. All others available can be bought from the 
Mysterious Stranger in the Tavern or by capturing from other ships crew members 
with special attributes.

As for the period, the default, as the game instructions emphasize, is the most 
fun 
because, particularly sailing as an Englishman, you have the most early targets 
of 
opportunity. Other levels are almost devoid of ships and ports, so you end up 
sailing all over for very little reward as your crew gets more sullen by the day. 
(Consult the instructions for details; it is very well written, and much better 
than most produced for contemporary games.)

Underway

Although you start the game with a sloop, donÂ’t get discouraged. This is a fast 
little scooter that can sail rings around larger freighters and warships — but 
you 
need to walk before you run, so start with other ships you can easily defeat.

The Governor (see below) in your first port should offer you advice the first 
time 
you meet as to where a nearby ship with treasure may be (at least the English 
governor does). So long as itÂ’s one of the smaller, slower ships (Pinnace, 
Barque, 
Sloop, Brig, etc.) you should be OK in your first firefight. Do not go after a 
ship 
with “War” or “Fast” in its name the first few times out, as you stand to lose 
big, 
fast, and early.

Try to get the wind at your stern (rear) and sail in from the opponents bow 
(front) 
or stern so they cannot fire at you. When in range, swing around so your 
sloop “crosses the tee”, select Round Shot (default) and fire! Repeat this 
maneuver 
a couple of times (too many more and you might sink her outright), then switch to 
Chain Shot to take away the sails, and Grape Shot to kill the crew.

Usually, a couple of rounds of Round Shot and taking away the sails will ensure 
the 
ship surrenders without a fight. If you do not want to fight, keep firing Grape 
until there is just one crew left (it wonÂ’t go any lower), then if there is no 
surrender, it takes next to nothing to defeat the captain in a swordfight. This 
is 
especially important in fighting the key pirates, the Baron, or the Marquis.

The downside to this is that early in each phase, when you have a minimum crew, 
the 
best way to build up your crew is by getting volunteers after a fight. My 
experience is your crew morale may deteriorate quickly when you recruit from the 
Tavern (except after defeating the Captain of the Guard, see below), but less so 
when crews surrender. Seems a good fight increases their loyalty to begin with.

The only way to get a better ship is in winning battles. Brigs are better than 
Sloops, Frigates better than Brigs because they are fast and very tough (“Old 
Ironsides” is a Frigate). Anything with “War” in its title is better than 
otherwise, and “Fast” is good, too — except the Spanish Galleons, which are 
simply 
too slow. (And no matter what you may read or here otherwise, never assume that 
another pirateÂ’s Galleon defeated in battle is better than your own Frigate.)

If you are ever lucky enough to get a Ship of the Line, you rule! Anything else 
(Merchantmen, Galleons, etc.) is worthless, even as storage vessels, because they 
will slow you down. Always, however, retain a couple of fast Sloops or a ship 
equal 
to your highest-rated warship for storage, so you can sink anything you donÂ’t 
want 
to haul back to port to sell at the Shipwright (see below).

A good rule of thumb is to capture a Brig with your Sloop, and continue to work 
your way up the list until you have at least one Frigate. As you capture good 
ships 
you want to keep (not sell to the Shipwright, below), donÂ’t take whatever guns 
remain, because you’ll want to make sure you can “transfer your flag” should the 
occasion arise. If some of your key warships are under-gunned, select the “Change 
Flagship” option before taking on a Merchantman or other easy to fight ship, use 
the strategy above to minimize damage to the ship, and capture it with as many 
remaining guns as possible to build up your shipÂ’s armament.

Multiple Frigates (you can have up to six ships of any kind) gives you insurance, 
because if you lose a fight with a skillful challenger (and you will, to be sure, 
particularly as your pirate ages), you are picked up by one of your other ships, 
in 
which case you can continue fighting the same challenger. If you second ship is 
equal to the first, and it will also be fresher, then you have an advantage. If 
your second ship is small, slow, and under-armed, you stand to lose it, too. Lose 
all your ships and you’re marooned — and stand a good chance of losing the 
valuable 
tools youÂ’ve collected along the way!

Sword Fighting

This is your main source of prowess and income throughout the game (unless you 
choose to only trade goods, which must be really exciting!). But, I am afraid the 
game over-complicates things — particularly at the lower experience level.

Because I always get confused between jumping and squatting, and which of the 
opponents action prompts what reaction, all I do is continually hit the “4” 
(Thrust) key. If an opponent Chops or Slashes, the Thrust gets him to back up. If 
he also Thrusts, my Thrust counters his. This tactic does not work at the higher 
experience levels, but, as I said before, more fun (but less money) is at the 
lowest level.

Dancing

Dancing with the GovernorÂ’s Daughter (GD) at the Ball is considerably harder than 
sword fighting — which most players will agree goes for the real world, too — and 
if there were ever a need for cheat codes in this game, this is it! Unlike 
fighting, you have to have all the right moves in dancing; there is no margin of 
error unless you own skill enhancing items related to dancing. Even then, this is 
not a “cakewalk”.

It takes awhile, but you will learn your left (4) from your right (6), and 
advance 
(8) from retreat (2), as well as the left oblique retreat (1) and right oblique 
retreat (3); the instructions have much fancier names, but if it walks like a 
duckÂ…. 

Dancing, like fighting, is a way you get money (a successful dance causes the GD 
to 
give you tips where you can find Outlaws who canÂ’t fight worth a darn and will 
give 
you anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 pieces of gold for the pleasure). It is also a 
way 
you get a lot of “special parting gifts” that help in sword fighting, navigation, 
crew morale, and — dancing! These may also all be purchased from the Mysterious 
Traveler in the Tavern, but with the GD, theyÂ’re FREE! (You may also get some of 
these from the Outlaw in exchange for his freedom.)

At the end of the game, one of the several success measures is romance, and itÂ’s 
only at the Ball that you can advance romance. Dance frequently with the same GD 
and you might even end up marrying her (which, oddly or otherwise, does not 
prevent 
dalliances with other GDs) and greatly enhancing your final standings. The more 
dances with other GDs also leads to easy swordplay with jealous lovers, who are 
easily beaten (see below) and lead to more clues to more Villains.

Not all GDs are the same (not just the looks factor mentioned in the 
instructions), 
and some have some really mean moves. There is also one very slow cadence that 
will 
catch you off guard, because most of the music is very similar and you will also 
get used to the similarity of a few of the dances. You will find that the dance 
moves tend to come in groups of four before changing to a different series of 
moves. For instance, a Glisse Left may be followed by a Pirouette Left, and 
repeated three more times before changing to Marche Backwards followed by 
Pirouette 
Right, and so forth.

As you revisit Governors, you will also have the opportunity to advance your 
career 
title by the achievements in battle against each GovernorÂ’s enemies. With title 
comes land, and the Governor will tell you how many acres heÂ’s given you during 
that visit.

If the GD tells you a jealous lover will challenge you to a swordfight when you 
return, simply exit the Governor and immediately return and accept the challenge. 
Once you advance to the higher career titles, you can pick up an easy 50 acres of 
land merely by returning to the Governor immediately after exiting a round in 
which 
he gave you acreage for successfully accomplishing a mission.

Sadly, it's taken much longer to explain the importance of dancing, than it did 
sword fighting. But thatÂ’s part of the charm of this game.

ItÂ’s the Village, Idiot!

In addition to the Governor, his Daughter (GD), and the Ball, the other options 
in 
port are related to (a) repairing, upgrading, or selling your ship(s) in the 
Shipwright, (b) selling or buying provisions and armament at the Merchant, and 
(c) 
visiting the Tavern.

At the Shipwright, any captured ships you donÂ’t want can be sold. DonÂ’t think 
upgrading them will add value, because it doesnÂ’t do anything but decease your 
available funds, which are meager to begin with. Also, see that all unnecessary 
provisions and armament before selling the ship they are on or you will lose them 
and not get paid. Upgrade any ship you retain whenever you can afford it because 
they will help survive future battles.

At the Merchant, sell everything but food and guns. Keep at least a six monthsÂ’ 
supply of food. And make sure your gun count matches the type of ship(s). These 
are 
not extra guns, and if you sell too many, you will strip your ship of essential 
armament. (I found that out the hard way!)

At the Tavern, first check the Mysterious Traveler. If he has something to sell, 
buy it if you can. (I have gone back to the Merchant and sold food or the 
Shipyard 
and disposed of an extra ship to get money to buy his offering.) Then check the 
barmaid. If the Captain of the Guard is with her, challenge him to a duel, 
otherwise you canÂ’t talk to the Bartender. By defeating the Captain, you increase 
the number of recruits by 10. Also, your sword fighting speed is normal no matter 
what your age. If an Outlaw is present, you can only access him through the 
Barkeep. (In either case, to skip the repetitive opening sequence, hit the ESC 
key.) Finally, if you are desperate for a crew, hire them (but your crewÂ’s 
happiness might be jeopardized).

Dividing the Loot is how you get rid of an unruly or mutinous crew and keep a 
portion of the captured treasure for yourself. Even though playing at the 
Apprentice level ensures your percentage is very low, you can still amass a 
sizable 
fortune by the end of the game. Once you have divided the loot, you keep that 
portion throughout the game, and anything you subsequently add to it is also 
retained. Be careful towards the end of the game (see below), as this action may, 
in fact, trigger “game over”.

Family Values

One of your major goals is to free your four relatives captured by the evil 
Marquis 
Montalban. Any opportunity to track him down and defeat him in battle will reveal 
maps leading to their whereabouts (in a remote cabin). From time to time, a 
Governor will reveal the Marquis has stolen away his daughter, and it is always 
good to accept his plea to find her. She will be on the MarquisÂ’s ship, and freed 
when you defeat him. You must, however, take her back to her fatherÂ’s city before 
you can claim the reward in the form of a map leading to the gold of an ancient 
city. Your best prospects for marriage can arise from rescuing a GD — but make 
sure 
she is a Beautiful daughter, and not one of the less attractive ones. 
Additionally, 
Baron Raymondo is the source for maps leading to other piratesÂ’ buried treasure.

End Game

At some point, all good fun comes to an end when you grow old (over 40!?) and 
retire from pirating. You have no choice, as the game dictates when this happens, 
but you can manage the process a bit. Once your pirate attains the age of 40, 
refrain from dividing the loot with your crew, as you stand a good chance of 
ending 
the game as a result. At this stage, you should have a Ship of the Line, which is 
almost indestructible. If your crew grows restless and is Unhappy, just pick 
fights 
with opponents you know you can beat (Merchantmen, Fluyts, etc.) and kill off 
enough of your crew to get them to the Content level.

If, however, you run across the Baron or Marquis, bombard their ship with Round 
Shot until it has no guns left, then cascade it with Chain Shot until only one 
crewmember remains. (You cannot sink these ships.) That crewmember will, in fact, 
be the Baron or Marquis, whom you must defeat in a swordfight, which you will win 
and do so very quickly.

To enter the Pirates! Hall of Fame, your career is measured on Cash on Hand, 
Acres 
Owned, Career Titles (you can hold titles from all four nations), Relatives saved 
(four), Lost Cities plundered (four), Named Pirates defeated (nine), PiratesÂ’ 
Buried Treasure taken (nine), and, of course, Romance (marriage).

Do well enough in all these categories, and you can retire as a Governor!

The ultimate goal, however, is to fight and defeat the Marquis in his Stronghold, 
a 
map to which you will have secured during the game. This stage requires a land 
battle with his Indian warriors before storming his stronghold and defeating him 
in 
one last swordfight. You can retire as a Governor, however, without successfully 
completing this one last mission.

And now for some real fun

Once you have completed the game goals in all areas and have left no goal 
unachieved, the real fun begins!

Remember: Do Not Divide The Loot! If you do, the game will end at that point. You 
can always restart an earlier saved game, but to avoid that hassle, just Do Not 
Divide The Loot!

Even though you may age considerably (my pirate is currently well over 60) and 
your 
sword fighting action considerably slowed, you can still apply the recommended 
attack and fighting strategies to continue to amass wealth and land.

As there is nothing to be gained by dancing with the GD (unless you are intent to 
tracking down every last scoundrel), just decline any invitation to the Ball.

But what you can do is create an empire for the client nation of choice (mine is 
England), usually not Spain, since it has so much territory and serves as your 
main 
enemy from which to wrest an empire.

First, pick an area already settled by your client nation (EnglandÂ’s is found in 
the Bahamas). Then select another nationÂ’s port that has no more, and hopefully 
considerably fewer, soldiers in defense than you have pirates. To learn this 
information, simply go to the Map and right-click the port to get information, 
including the number of soldiers.

Now, sail to a spot near the port where you can land without actually entering 
the 
port. Once your men are ashore, march them to the city wall. When you are 
presented 
with an option list, select “Attack”.

You will shortly find your men arrayed in a setting near the port city. You have 
the option to accept this site or select a new one.

Once the field of battle is set, advance your Pirates (soldiers) first, your 
Buccaneers (sharpshooters) behind, and your Officers (best fighters) last.

As you advance, the enemy units will begin to reveal themselves. If Indian units 
are present, they tend to be the weakest fighters, but can shoot at you with 
their 
blowguns. Your Pirates will easily defeat the enemyÂ’s sharpshooters if they can 
get 
close enough, but the sharpshooters can pick off your Pirates and Officers at a 
distance. The same goes, of course, for your Buccaneers against the enemy 
soldiers. 
The Officers lend morale to the Pirates and Buccaneers, so donÂ’t waste them 
unwisely. (Movement and combat details are found in both the game documentation 
and 
the commercial strategy guide.)

If you are successful, you will rout the enemy and take the port. To a lesser 
degree, you might rout the enemy, and be paid a ransom, but the port is still 
held 
by the enemy, although in a much diminished economy. Attack again, and you will 
surely succeed in conquering the port. You may have to duel the Captain of the 
Guard, but he is the same ineffectual swordsman as he is with the Bar Maid. Now 
you 
are given the option to select the new Governor — and his nation.

If you are defeated, donÂ’t worry. Your crew becomes very happy because they have 
the prospects of dividing all the loot (which, of course you wonÂ’t do, but they 
donÂ’t know that) among fewer pirates because many of their former shipmates were 
killed in battle.

Go to a nearby port — or even the one you are attacking — and sign on more crew 
members, then return and fight another battle against what will most likely be a 
much smaller enemy force. DonÂ’t take too much time to replenish your crew, or the 
enemy will be able to ship in more soldiers.

By following this unpublished game strategy, you can turn the Pirates! endgame 
into 
a sort of “Game of Risk” by attempting to conquer the Caribbean World.

I have discovered the following:

1.	Although you may conquer all other ports, the minor settlements remain in 
control of the original countries. As such, enemy ships will still be a threat, 
although I have encountered only sloops and brigs under Spanish, French, and 
Dutch 
flags. The valuable troop and treasure ships of other nations are no longer 
present — although other pirates still pillage and plunder, as do the Indians!

2.	After accumulating more than $1 million in gold, the game seems to crash 
at 
odd times. Usually, you can restart one of the recent save points and keep going. 
At the $1.2 million level I have achieved, however, the games quickly crashes 
every 
time, so that must be the limit.

Arrrgh!



SPOILER ALERT!

BECAUSE I WAS UNABLE TO FIND A WAY TO INVADE THE DUTCH ISLAND OF ST. EUSTACIUS, 
IT 
WAS THE ONE PORT THAT I HAD NOT BEEN ABLE TO CONQUER. MY FIRST EDITION OF THIS 
GUIDE STATED THE PORT COULD NOT BE TAKEN. THAT IS NOT TRUE. BUT IF YOU ARE STILL 
TRYING TO FIGURE IT OUT, THEN: DO NOT LOOK AT THE LAST PAGE!
My thanks to Jonas Sandbekk and Donna L. Blanchard for helping solve the problem 
I 
was having:

The Dutch port at St. Eustatius cannot be attacked in the traditional manner 
because the island is simply too small to land your ship to disembark the pirate 
crew to attack. The trick is to sail past the port and fire your cannon via the 
space bar. After several passes — made difficult with the other islands close by —
 
you will be given the option to attack the port. Accepting that option initiates 
the land battle in the normal fashion. In my experience, you must be victorious 
in 
land battle before the port falls.

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