Pirates! Gold FAQ/Walkthrough for Sega Genesis First Edition - 1/28/2001 By Weed DeMarco email: Hombrehomme@yahoo.com This document Copyright 2001 by Weed DeMarco Please do not bootleg or reproduce this work in any and all unauthorized ways. If you want to post it on a website (provided that it can be accessed for free) send me an e-mail. Let's leave the piracy in the game, okay! 1. INTRODUCTION --------------- IMHO this game is great fun. It doesn't take very long to learn the basics, and the replay value is practically limitless. All of the good components from the NES version are here, along with several improvements (namely a map). Music is very good, but sound effects are a bit weak. Graphics are strong, but many images are simply re-colored and repeated. I've always been partial to Pirate themes and I think this game is really good stuff. This guide is mainly to help out newbies and people having lots of trouble with the game. Veterans and Experts may find something new to try; or they may just laugh at me. I am also assuming that you know the rough basics to the game and are only looking for a little help or a new perspective. This guide will only focus on the New Career option. I don't find that commanding a famous expedition is nearly as much fun. However if enough people out there show interest in them, I could be persuaded to make some additions. Please feel free to send me questions, comments, criticisms, or any other kind of input to my email address: Hombrehomme@yahoo.com. I just hope that if you like the game you'll enjoy this guide. 2. GETTING STARTED ------------------ There are several options given on the Main Menu screen. Select Start a New Career to get started. There are six different time periods to choose from, and each one is very different from the other. I will provide a brief overview of each of them in just a little while. On the options screen, change categories by moving the highlight up or down. Change settings in the individual categories by pushing left or right. Use the A and B buttons and left and right directions for entering your name. Use the C button to toggle between upper and lower case letters. I like to use names that match the Nationalities; ex. Bordeleau for France and van Kessel for Holland, but that's just me. Feel free to use your own family name if you like, and enjoy the Sega version of Sailor's Hornpipe playing in the background. 3. SPECIAL ABILITY ------------------ So which special ability should I choose? This all depends on what you want to get out of the game, as well as your own strengths and weaknesses. FENCING - This skill makes you a better sword fighter. This is the most important technique to master in the game. A good choice for newbies and people having trouble winning duels. NAVIGATION - This skill makes it easier to sail the seas. I suppose that it allows you to travel safer and faster, but I've never really used it. I think it's a waste. GUNNERY - This skill improves the accuracy of your ship's cannon fire. Helpful for those who really enjoy blasting forts and ships with continuous broadsides. I don't find it particularly useful, simply because you can have a very successful career without firing a single cannon. WIT AND CHARM - Brown-nosing! This skill is useful when talking to Governors and their Daughters. Basically it makes you more charismatic. I suppose that it makes it easier to curry favor from the Governors and thus receive more land and promotions, but I am unsure of just how much effect it has. Truthfully I think it only makes it easier to find a "better" wife. This skill can be fun; perfect for you Casanova types! MEDICINE - Good for promoting general health and adding to your longevity. As you age your abilities begin to diminish slowly, but noticeably! This skill lessens the harmful effects of aging and helps you to recover from wounds (especially if you get captured or shipwrecked). A good skill to choose, especially if you plan on having a long career. I usually pick MEDICINE, because it will allow you to have a longer career and thus make more money! But FENCING is a good choice for any player and probably the best for newcomers. 4. HISTORICAL TIME PERIODS -------------------------- I will give a brief overview of the various historical time periods in chronological order. Also there will be descriptions of the different nationalities. As a general rule of thumb, don't lose your first fight before you're made captain. If you do, just reset and start over again. Different difficulty levels will have various effects on the game. Comments made here reflect the APPRENTICE level of difficulty, unless otherwise noted. 1560 - THE SILVER EMPIRE This period is characterized by a Spanish Empire that has grown rich and fat on, you guessed it, Silver! Spain pretty much runs the whole show here. They have nearly every town and almost all of the loot. You can play as a Spanish Renegade, An English Seahawk, or a French Corsair. Holland is currently unavailable. SPANISH RENEGADE You'll start out in a Spanish port; usually San Juan, Nombre de Dios, or Borburata. You'll be at a disadvantage from the start. TITLES: None CREW: 60, pleased GOLD: 1000 FOOD: 10 tons, lasting 42 days CANNON: 6 SHIPS: One Pinnace There's not much going for you right now. You don't have any ranks yet, but any Spanish Governor should provide you with a Letter of Marque fairly easily; but you'll have to pay. Don't spend any gold until you've gotten it. If you managed to start out in San Juan, you'll be closer to the French and English ports. But there isn't much profit in attacking them. For an interesting twist, try some friendly trading between the French and English, then turn on the Spanish! If you don't anger the French, they'll reward you for being a traitor. ENGLISH SEAHAWK After winning your first duel, you make landfall in a "friendly port". It almost always seems to be Trinidad, which is Spanish controlled. Luckily for you the Spanish don't see you as a threat, well not yet at least. TITLES: English Captain CREW: 156, pleased GOLD: 1000 FOOD: 20 tons, lasting 32 days CANNON: 20 GOODS: 50 SHIPS: One Fast Galleon and one Pinnace You start with a fairly large force, but they're not very happy. You'll have to find some booty fast before morale slips even more. At higher difficulty levels the crew will be unhappy and some will desert when you leave port (taking some of the gold). Not a good way to start a career. Try selling some of your goods to a friendly merchant with high prices. Only St. Augustine, which lies far to the north and is French held, has a Governor who will issue promotions. Your best bet is to try and make friends with him. The English ports of Eleuthera and Nassau are weak. Don't rely on them for much help. French towns don't fair much better. The easiest way to get rich is to team up with the French and attack Spain. When you get stronger try to capture a large Spanish town and install an English governor. FRENCH CORSAIR After the duel you'll start out in one of the French ports, hopefully St. Augustine. TITLES: French Letter of Marque CREW: 80, happy GOLD: 4000 FOOD: 30 tons, lasting 96 days CANNON: 6 SHIPS: One Barque and One Pinnace You have a smaller crew than the English Seahawk, but you also have more gold and higher morale. Feel free to make friends with the English, especially if they declare war on Spain. For France open warfare has already been claimed, so start looting! Once again try to capture a strong Spanish town and install your French governor. This will provide you with a better trading port, and a good place to recruit more sailors. CONCLUSION This time period is rather difficult, especially for the Spanish Renegade. I would suggest against a newcomer starting in this era. But if you want to try it pick the French. No matter who you pick, keep a close watch on your food supply. 1600 - MERCHANTS AND SMUGGLERS The period is similar to the last one. Spain is still the top dog, but is starting to backslide. French and English ports are still weak and poor, don't look for much help here. Now you can set sail as a Dutch Trader. SPANISH RENEGADE The same Modus Operandi as before. Try to side with France and then turn on your homeland. TITLES: None CREW: 60, pleased GOLD: 1000 FOOD: 10 tons, lasting 42 days CANNON: 6 SHIPS: One Pinnace Most of the time you start out in either San Juan or Caracas. You will probably be at war with France as well. In order to make money use the war to your advantage, and join the French against Spain. But there's no French Governor to help you out. You'll have to overpower a Spanish port and put in the French Governor yourself! ENGLISH EXPLORER After you've beaten your old captain, your ship puts in at Trinidad. Prospects will again be lean as the English ports are weak. TITLES: None CREW: 80, pleased GOLD: 2000 FOOD: 18 tons, lasting 60 days CANNON: 8 GOODS: 30 SHIPS: One Merchantman Your best option is to attack the Spanish again. But don't look for too much help from England or France at the start. Wars have cooled down a bit, and Governors are few and far between. Try trading a bit in Trinidad before you really offend Spain. Your Merchantman is ill-suited for war, commandeer a more suitable vessel quickly! Once again try to take over a Spanish port and establish a new English foothold. Your position here is weaker than in the previous time period. FRENCH ADVENTURER You'll usually end up in Grand Bahama with your stolen ship. Spain and France will most likely be at war. TITLES: None CREW: 40, happy GOLD: 5000 FOOD: 10 tons, lasting 64 days CANNON: 8 GOODS: 10 SHIPS: One Barque and One Pinnace Consequences are again similar to the Silver Train days. But you've lost the town of St. Augustine. Take over a Spanish one. Trade your extra goods as soon as you can. Your party is well equipped for attacking Spain, so get going! DUTCH TRADER Ah! A new flag to serve under. Don't get too excited though, things are still tough. You'll probably start in Trinidad. TITLES: None CREW: 20, happy GOLD: 8000 FOOD: 20 tons, lasting 256 days CANNON: 6 GOODS: 25 SHIPS: One Cargo Fluyt You're all set to go trading. Trinidad will be receptive, but there isn't much promise here. You've got a small crew, but a lot of gold. They'll be happy for a while. To make any real profit, ditch the trading gig and attack the Spanish. Try to install a governor from any nation that is at war with Spain. Don't forget to lose the sluggish Cargo Fluyt before you go off pirating. CONCLUSION This time period is probably even harder than the last one. Not recommended for the faint of heart. 1620 - THE NEW COLONISTS Spain is continuing to weaken, but still has the richest ports. England, France, and Holland have established towns with governors. Pay close attention to who's at war with who, it can change depending on which nation you sail for. SPANISH RENEGADE The life of a Spanish Renegade is still difficult. However you may be able to find more enemy ports to raid now. TITLES: None CREW: 60, pleased GOLD: 1000 FOOD: 10 tons, lasting 42 days CANNON: 6 SHIPS: One Pinnace You'll probably start out in either Caracas or San Juan. But there is a chance that you may begin in Puerto Principe. Spain will probably be at war with France, so you can always fight for them. As usual it's easy to get a Letter of Marque from Spain, and you can try and wipe out the foreign colonies of all three nations. ENGLISH ADVENTURER Your career usually starts in Nevis or Eleuthera, but the later is a bit of a disadvantage. More than likely Spain will be at war with England. Happy Hunting! TITLES: English Letter of Marque CREW: 40, happy GOLD: 4000 FOOD: 18 tons, lasting 115 days CANNON: 10 SHIPS: One Barque Barbados and Providence are the only ports with governors, so try to head for one of them as quickly as possible; preferably Barbados. Try selling plundered goods in Barbados and Curacao. It's quite possible to use Providence as a base for raiding the Silver Train and Treasure Fleet. FRENCH HUGUENOT Various wars will be raging when you arrive in port. Find out who France is at war with, and then pick sides with the rest. TITLES: None CREW: 56, happy GOLD: 4500 FOOD: 12 tons, lasting 54 days CANNON: 8 GOODS: 10 SHIPS: One Barque Pay close attention to the wars, and get your French Letter of Marque as soon as you can. Sell the goods in Barbados for some quick cash. DUTCH PRIVATEER Holland is slowing becoming a legitimate presence in the Caribbean. You'll start out in good shape for combat. TITLES: Dutch Letter of Marque CREW: 175, pleased GOLD: 4000 FOOD: 20 tons, lasting 29 days CANNON: 22 SHIPS: Fast Galleon You're well armed and ready to go. Holland will probably be at war with Spain. Try to side with either France or England. One of them will probably go to war with Spain sooner or later. They may attack each other as well, this gives you more opportunities. Buy food before setting out from Curacao, you have a lot of men. CONCLUSION The balance of power is beginning to shift away from Spain. Wars are breaking out all over. Pick a country and start looting. This time period is easier than the first two, but still it's no free ride. 1640 - WAR FOR PROFIT Spain is really starting to fall apart. However there is still enough wealth around to make raiding her profitable. France, England, and Holland are all growing. SPANISH RENEGADE Conditions are actually pretty good now. Less military clout in the Spanish ports makes for easy pickings. Most likely you will begin in Puerto Principe or Caracas. TITLES: None CREW: 60, pleased GOLD: 1000 FOOD: 10 tons, lasting 42 days CANNON: 6 SHIPS: One Pinnace You can easily get a Letter of Marque and start raiding the enemy, but don't bother. Side with a foreign power yet again. Finally the life of a Spanish Renegade is rewarding indeed. ENGLISH ADVENTURER Starting out in either Barbados or Nevis, you'll usually find England at war with Spain. TITLES: English Letter of Marque CREW: 40, happy GOLD: 4000 FOOD: 18 tons, lasting 115 days CANNON: 10 SHIPS: One Barque Barbados is one of the best trading ports around. It's rich and well supplied, but Nevis and St. Kitts aren't far behind. Frequent open warfare against Spain by many nations gives you plenty of opportunity for success. Enjoy! FRENCH PRIVATEER France had also become strong over the years. Martinique and Guadeloupe are fairly wealthy ports, and Tortuga is a great pirate town. TITLES: French Letter of Marque CREW: 48, happy GOLD: 3000 FOOD: 12 tons, lasting 64 days CANNON: 10 SHIPS: Two Pinnaces Like England you have many opportunities here. Check with the Governor to see just who France is at war with. More than likely she's fighting England or Holland in addition to Spain. DUTCH TRADER Curacao is a fantastic trading port, and its location makes plundering Spanish towns quite enjoyable. Oddly enough you will probably start in Trinidad. TITLES: None CREW: 20, happy GOLD: 8000 FOOD: 20 tons, lasting 256 days CANNON: 6 GOODS: 25 SHIPS: One Cargo Fluyt In Trinidad you can talk to the governor to learn about current events, but don't bother with the Letter of Marque. Set sail for Curacao as soon as possible. Get a Dutch letter of Marque and sell your goods. Trading isn't nearly as profitable as looting, so lose the Cargo Fluyt fast! 1660 - THE BUCCANEER HEROES England, France, and Holland are now very successful. Flags of all nations are found flying over wealthy ports. Pick your country and pick your enemies. SPANISH RENEGADE This is probably the best time period for the you. Wars rage everywhere, and the Spanish towns are even easier to raid. TITLES: None CREW: 60, pleased GOLD: 1000 FOOD: 10 tons, lasting 42 days CANNON: 6 SHIPS: One Pinnace When you start out, usually Caracas, you need to talk to the governor and find out who is at war. Feel free to continue fighting for other countries, but it's not necessary this time. You may luck out and find Spain and another nation fighting against a common enemy. Use this to your advantage. ENGLISH BUCCANEER The English Ports are even stronger, making recruiting and trading easy. More than likely England will be at war against Spain and Holland. TITLES: English Letter of Marque CREW: 40, happy GOLD: 2000 FOOD: 14 tons, lasting 89 days CANNON: 8 SHIPS: Sloop Barbados is still one of the wealthiest ports, but St. Kitts and Port Royale are also healthy. Pay close attention to the wars, nations will shift alliances rather frequently. Your sloop makes an excellent pirating vessel. FRENCH BUCCANEER Martinique and Guadeloupe are fairly wealthy, while Tortuga remains a pirate headquarters. TITLES: French Letter of Marque CREW: 48, pleased GOLD: 1000 FOOD: 13 tons, lasting 69 days CANNON: 8 SHIPS: Sloop France will more than likely be at war with Spain and England. Try to make friends with the Dutch while attacking your enemies. Use Curacao for you main trading port. DUTCH ADVENTURER Curacao and St. Eustatius are two of the best ports around. While St. Martin is fairly successful in its own right. War with England is likely. TITLES: Dutch Letter of Marque CREW: 40, happy GOLD: 2000 FOOD: 20 tons, lasting 128 days CANNON: 6 SHIPS: Sloop Begin waging war against England, and try to stay on the good side of the French. Barbados should be your first target. Loot the Spanish as usual. CONCLUSION This time period is quite possibly the most active. You can be very successful with any nation, although France is probably your best bet. No matter who you sail for, stay posted on current events. This is the best time period for players just starting out. 1680 - PIRATE'S SUNSET The final historical time period is similar to the last. Control of the Caribbean is spread fairly evenly between France, England, and Spain. But Holland isn't too far behind. SPANISH COSTA GARDA Now it's time to make England and France pay! Raid their ports freely and still receive strong support back home. TITLES: Spanish Ensign CREW: 50, happy GOLD: 2000 FOOD: 11 tons, lasting 59 days CANNON: 8 SHIPS: One Sloop Wars will not be quite as frequent as before, but you can still team up with another nation. Try selling plundered goods in Havana. You can also try Curacao or Barbados, depending on who you've sided with. ENGLISH PIRATE There's a good chance that you'll be at war with France. Barbados and St. Kitts are excellent places to sell plunder and recruit sailors. TITLES: None CREW: 56, pleased GOLD: 1000 FOOD: 12 tons, lasting 54 days CANNON: 8 SHIPS: One Sloop Bone up on current events before picking sides. It may be more profitable not to side with England, but this is unlikely. Loot Spain as usual. FRENCH BUCCANEER You are likely to be starting out in the middle of a raging war with Spain and England! Looks like your friends and enemies are already chosen for you. TITLES: French Letter of Marque CREW: 48, pleased GOLD: 1000 FOOD: 13 tons, lasting 69 days CANNON: 8 SHIPS: One Sloop If France is at war with England and Spain, you'd be wise to make friends with Holland. With luck Holland will declare war with England, giving you two nations to fight for. If this happens you'll receive promotions and land grants like crazy. A great opportunity here! DUTCH ADVENTURER France and England will probably be at war. Attack one and side with the other. While you're at it, attack Spain. TITLES: None CREW: 40, happy GOLD: 4000 FOOD: 15 tons, lasting 96 days CANNON: 8 GOODS: 15 SHIPS: One Sloop Decide who you are going to side with quickly. England has more wealthy ports to raid, but these ports are also good for selling and trading. Curacao still provides a great base for raids against Spain. CONCLUSION This can be a pretty fun time period. Wars may not be quite as common, but enough to help you turn a profit. Don't underestimate the value of trading and selling plunder in this time period; no matter who you sail for there will be plenty of rich friendly ports. This time period is also a good pick for a newcomer. 5. HOW TO MAKE MONEY -------------------- There's plenty of opportunity for making money in this game. From raiding enemy ships to digging up buried treasure, each has positives and negatives. TRADING COMMODITIES AND SELLING PLUNDER This is very basic stuff, but often overlooked because it usually doesn't provide a big, quick payoff. Making a profit in trade means that you will have to buy items for low prices and then sell them for a higher price. This will take a lot of time and provide marginal profits; it should be your last resort. However if you sell products which you have looted from ships and towns, you'll have an easier time. Food, Goods, Cannons, Ships, and whatever special cargo exists in your time period will turn a modest profit. You won't get rich quickly this way, but you can supplement you gold cache nicely. Try to sell in the ports that have the wealthiest merchants. They'll have higher prices, and more money to buy with. If they don't have any money, they won't buy your plunder. Cannons and ships can always be sold to the Shipwright. Don't underestimate the value of the extra cannons you have stashed away. It's also a good idea to sell any damaged ships that you don't use in combat. They'll slow you down. Be careful not to sell too many ships unless you're going to divide the plunder. Selling ships reduces your cargo space, and if you're not careful you may have to dump excess cargo overboard when you leave port. RAIDING SHIPS AND TOWNS Successful raids on enemy ships and towns have many benefits. Most of the time you'll steal gold itself, but you'll also get large quantities of plunder to sell. Generally a larger ship will have more gold, but a town has more gold than a ship. Fat Merchantman and Cargo Fluyts sailing around rich ports will have the most gold. Galleons can be very fruitful as well. Pay close attention to a town's economic status. Naturally you'll want to raid the richest ones. Buy information given by the travelers in taverns if you need to. And pay attention to the news; a gold mine near a town will briefly increase its prosperity. Don't attack a town that's got too many soldiers for your crew to defeat. It's better to build up your strength first. Also your attacks on the enemy will please your governor, resulting in promotions and land grants which will increase your score. If you're lucky enough to capture a town, you can install a governor from any country you like. Thus making promotions more likely; and land grants even larger. Raids will be your most common source of income. THE TREASURE FLEET AND THE SILVER TRAIN The Treasure Fleet and the Silver Train are quick scores that provide a big payoff. They will only be found in Spanish towns, and only at certain times. Pay attention to information provided by contacts and captured notables. They'll clue you in on where you can find these cash cows. They move from town to town depending on what time of year it is. But sometimes they are in Spain or Peru and you can't raid them. Wait for them to show up again. You must successfully raid the town in which they are located to capture them. If you manage to catch one in a rich port, you could pull in 80000 gold! It is possible to find them both in the same town, a rare opportunity to make a ton of money. If you find out that one of them is in a town far away from where you're at, sail to a town further down the "line" and work your way back to the original town; make sure you hit all ports in between. If you just set sail to the first town, it's likely that your target has moved on. If you're trying to be friendly with the Spanish, you'll have to pass on these two. A good reason not to side with Spain! The Treasure Fleet and Silver Train will provide you with a quick hit of cash, but they're not always available for looting. Be careful and be sure to time your raids well. BURIED TREASURE/TREASURE MAPS Sometimes you will find an individual in a tavern selling a treasure map. Buy it. The cost is usually around 500 gold, but the treasure is from 5000-13000 gold pieces. Well worth the investment in the map. The map will show you where the treasure is buried, and also which town it is located near. It shouldn't be very hard to find it and dig it up. If you have trouble, look at the map of the Caribbean accessible through the "cabin screen". Just hit the C button while sailing or when walking around in town. Find the town that is mentioned on the treasure map and look for distinguishing geographical features. When you get to the spot where the treasure is located, dig it up by pressing the A button. Like the Treasure Fleet and Silver Train you get one quick payoff here, but it's not always available. The payoff here is considerably lower, but the risks aren't very high at all. A wise investment. LOST INCA TREASURE The lost Inca Treasure is the hardest "quest" in the game. But if you are successful, you'll earn 100,000 gold. The hard part is finding out where the heck it is. To do so you will have to find a family member first. Sometimes a friendly governor will tell you that so and so (usually a Spanish Aristocrat) may have information about where one of your relatives is being held in captivity. He'll also tell you which town they were last seen in. Head for that town as quickly as you can. On the way to the town, you may come across an enemy ship with crew members who can provide you with more up to date information on this guy. Sometimes he is still in the same town, but sometimes he has moved on. The crew will inform you on the latest location. Track him down! If he's in a friendly town, just sail into port and visit the tavern or the governor. You'll fight a duel with him. Defeat him and he'll give you a map showing the location of the plantation on which your family member is being held captive. If he's holed up in an enemy town you have two choices. You can try to sneak into the town and catch him at the tavern or governor's house. More than likely you will have to successfully raid the town, in which case you will automatically enter the duel. Again you must defeat him to receive the map. Use this map just like the buried treasure map. Things will be harder now, because there is no town name to give you help. You'll just have to go by the geography. This can be very difficult. If you can't figure it out, try to track down another nobleman with information. If you have made friends with many governors, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding out where these rapscallions are hiding. Visit as many friendly governors as possible; with luck you may blindly stumble across one of these guys while bar hopping. Win another duel and receive another piece of the map. Again study the map carefully, looking for mountains, lakes, swamps, shoals and islands. As you play the game more, you will become more familiar with the geography; making your job a lot easier! Once you've nailed down the location of your captive family member, find them by moving your crew over the spot and pushing the A button. It's just like digging for the buried treasure. When you find them they will tell you about a lost Inca treasure and provide you with a piece of a map. Here we go again. This will be the same deal as when you for looking for your family member. The small portion of the map will give you a rough idea of where to look. Find the location and dig it up just like the usual buried treasure. Again try to familiarize yourself with the geography; this takes a lot of game playing, but it will make things much easier. If you still need help, you'll have to track down another lost family member; repeating the entire process of hunting down noblemen with inside information, and using the new maps. The next family member will provide you with another piece of the same map. Find all four pieces and you'll also get the name of the closest town. This whole process can take a very long time. It is quite likely that you'll get too old before you find everybody. Just do your best. But within this quest is a golden opportunity, literally. The game is really designed so that you find all four family members (sister, father, mother, uncle), then use the completed map to dig up the 100,000 gold piece lost Inca Treasure. However it is possible (but incredibly difficult) to get four separate 100,000 gold treasures! If you manage to dig one up with only one piece of the map, the next rescued family member will provide you with a map piece to a completely different treasure! In this way, you can find a map to a different treasure with each family member rescued. But you have to find the treasure and dig it up before you rescue the next family member. An extremely difficult and time consuming endeavor, but well worth it. This is why it is so important to learn the geography. Not only can you save a lot of time searching for family members and the treasure, but you can earn up to four different treasures. The biggest payoff in the game! In this regard lies the only cheat in the game that I know of. Once you have discovered the exact location of a lost family member, save the game in a friendly port. Then set sail for the plantation and rescue them. Look at the map that they give you very carefully. With luck you may recognize the location immediately, or at least have a good guess. If you are clueless as to where it is, reset the game, reload the saved game and rescue them again. You'll be given a different map this time. Keep resetting and reloading until you receive a map that you recognize. In this way you can almost guarantee a crack at all four treasures! You can even use the save and reload technique when hunting down nobleman. Save the game before going to the town, and if you don't like the map they gave you, try again. This may take an enormous amount of time and patience on your part, but it saves a ton of game time and provides you with a lot of gold. It is still exceedingly difficult to pull off, but you'll get better at it the more you play. This cheat isn't exactly within the bounds of good gamesmanship, but we're playing with pirates here aren't we? Many times a family member and/or the treasure will be located near Florida and the Bahamas. These waters are dangerous because of all the shoals, so be careful. If you wreck a ship, you'll lose some of your hard earned gold! No matter how you do it, rescuing all four family members and finding the lost treasure is very hard; but it also provides the biggest reward. Not only do you get a big gold payoff, but you get a higher score for each family member rescued. The higher the score, the higher the rating when you retire. 6. SAILING AND FIGHTING ----------------------- In this section I will discus different tactics that will help you become a successful pirate. You may have already noticed that the game provides you with many choices concerning this topic. There are many different ships you can use, and several swords as well. You can attack towns from land and sea; and you can either ram enemy ships or blast them with cannonfire. I'll start with the ships. SAILING As you probably guessed the various ships have many different characteristics. Speed, maneuverability, and cargo capacity are all different. For the most part a smaller ship is quicker and more agile, but it is less sturdy, holds less cargo, and carries less men than a bigger ship. So it's really up to you to make the choice. Do you want speed over power? If so then stock up on Pinnaces, Sloops, and even Barques. These boats turn quickly and sail into the wind faster than larger vessels. Furthermore, Pinnaces and Sloops can safely sail over shoals without fear of shipwreck; a distinct advantage when searching for treasure and lost family members. But they don't carry as many men, cannon, or cargo. This makes them less favorable for trade and selling plunder; they just don't carry much stuff. When I play, I prefer to have a fleet of the smaller vessels; Pinnaces, Sloops, and Barques. They are far superior when fighting other ships and when attacking a town. You can avoid cannon fire rather easily with them. The main drawback is that you don't have as many men when you reach the town, or collide with the other ship. If you're attacking a Frigate or Galleon with 200 or more men, it isn't a bad idea to hit them with multiple broadsides before boarding them. If you are adept at swordfighting, you can easily overcome the disadvantages. My ideal fleet for raids and treasure hunting would be made up of Sloops and Pinnaces only. This way I could sail anywhere quickly. Be careful when taking on Galleons of all forms, favorable winds will make these ships faster than you! They may be able to run you down quicker than you think. If you prefer to have larger and more powerful warships, try stocking up on Fast Galleons or Frigates. These ships have decent maneuverability for their size, and they can carry large crews and many cannons. I would highly recommend against using Cargo Fluyts, Merchantman, or Galleons in combat. They are large and unforgiving. Never attack a town by sea with one of these dinosaurs, you will regret it. If you do opt for the bigger ships, try to have at least one small ship in your armada. One Barque would be sufficient. Remember, the only way to get more ships is to capture them in combat. So try not to damage them too much in the fight; especially if you plan on using it for your flagship. It's a good idea to sell excess or unwanted ships to the shipwright. Just remember to keep track of your cargo capacity. Damaged ships can be sold as well (at reduced prices), or repaired if you want to keep them in service. ATTACKING SHIPS When you are sailing you will randomly encounter other sailing vessels. Investigate them to find out what kind of ship it is, and what country it belongs to. Sometimes you will find other pirates, or dangerous pirate-hunters. Select the Close For Battle option to start the fight scene. You ship is the brown one, no matter which side of the screen your name is on. Raise sails for quicker sailing, but this will make your ship more vulnerable to damage from enemy cannonfire. If you are having difficulty with avoiding hostile fire, stick with battle sails until you get better at it. The main point is to keep your ship away from the sides of the enemy vessel. Cannons only point out the sides of the ship, so don't sit here. If you have a more agile ship then your opponent, this shouldn't be a problem. Luckily a bigger ship doesn't take as much damage from the smaller ones. The best way to win a battle is to ram the enemy as quickly as possible. This will start a duel with the enemy captain. Win the duel and you can take the ship, plunder goods, and sometimes even recruit defeated sailors. If you are severely outnumbered you may want to fire several broadsides into the other ship to even up the sides. This is especially important if you are having difficulty swordfighting. No matter what the circumstances are you can still shoot at the enemy. Ramming them immediately is just quicker and easier. If you are good at winning duels, you'll easily be able to capture Galleons armed with 250 sailors with only a 64 man Pinnace crew. If you shoot too many holes in their ship they will sink; and you won't be able to claim any booty. So unless you are feeling very bloodthirsty avoid this. ATTACKING TOWNS BY SEA The most important thing to remember when attacking a town by sea is: Don't get shot by the fort's cannons. I know it sounds silly for me to say this, but most forts have a lot of cannons and they will inflict huge loses on your crew. Don't waste your time trying to return fire. You won't be able to cause much damage. The best thing to do is to raise sails and charge the fort as quickly as possible. Many times the wind will be blowing from an unfavorable direction. Just keeping plugging away and be sure to avoid the cannons. Try to land your ship as close as possible to the fort. If you make a landfall too far away, your men will refuse to march and you will have to withdraw. Try to use the smallest ship possible when attacking. Smaller ships perform better under poor wind conditions, and they can be maneuvered in hazardous waters more easily. Unfortunately small ships will limit the amount of men in your attacking party, so you better be good at swordfighting. When you reach the fort you will have to duel the captain. When you defeat him you can loot the town. ATTACKING TOWNS BY LAND You can also attack a town from the land. Simply land your ship near the town and move your men into it. Land attacks are tricky, and many times you will suffer huge casualties. Don't try this unless you have a large force to command. On the plus side, a larger force will increase your chances of capturing the town. If you do manage to capture an enemy town. Put a governor from your favorite nation in power. Since you are leading a pack of sailors in combat against trained soldiers, things are going to be tough. Remember that you can only fire your muskets if you are standing still. Trees will provide you with some cover, but stay out of the swamps. The blue lines in the grass will signify a swamp, and they will slow you down. Being stuck in the swamp makes you target practice. The best tactic that I have found when storming the fort is to carefully work your way around the enemy troops and into the fort. Many times they will have several different squads of men. Try to avoid the largest one if possible. Place all of your men together, and move them in unison by holding down the A button while moving the directional pad. You will probably get shot at on your way, especially by the garrison that has remained in the fort. Move as quickly as you can into the fort to begin the duel with the captain. Sometimes the enemy will charge with cavalry. Avoid them at all costs because they will slaughter you. If you hear a little bugle call you are in trouble. FIGHTING DUELS You must become very good at this if you have any chance of succeeding in the game. Without a doubt it is the most important skill to master. Luckily you can practice duels from the main menu screen. Here you can engage the enemy at any skill level with any sword of you choice. Which sword should I use? Again this is a matter of personal choice. I almost always fight with the Rapier. It doesn't hit for very much damage, but I strongly believe that it's speed and length more than make up for lack of power. I would never pick the Cutlass. It has poor range and takes an agonizingly long time to strike with. As your pirate ages he becomes even slower when swordfighting. Unless you are the world's greatest swordsman you will never beat a guy wielding a Rapier with your Cutlass. You will be way too slow to strike or even parry. Some people prefer the Longsword because of it's balance in all categories, but I highly recommend using the Rapier instead. Experiment with different swords and pick what's best for you. A slashing attack will inflict more damage than a thrust, but it's a slower move. If you're equipped with the Rapier going up against a Cutlass, slash away. The huge difference in speed and range will make up for the slower attack. High attacks also have a longer range, but are slower to execute than low attacks. High attacks with a Rapier are like a good jab in boxing. They'll frustrate you're opponent and keep them away from you. Try practicing this technique. As soon as a fight begins, I try to connect with a high slash. Most of the time this will hit. Plus the computer tends to attack high first, and you will already have your sword up to defend. A good way to attack is to lead with a high slash then follow it up with a low thrust. If these attacks connect, thrust high and then low again; keep repeating high and low thrusts until you are victorious. Sometimes your opponent will get the jump on you, or land a wicked combo. Back off a little and parry by pushing the C button. When you're opponent pauses, quickly attack. With practice you should become fairly proficient at dueling. It's an important skill, but thankfully not too difficult to master. 7. DIPLOMACY ------------ When you talk to the governors of friendly nations, they will tell you who they are at war with. Attack their towns and ships, and the governor will reward you with promotions and land grants. Land will make you a richer person, and higher ranks will make it easier to recruit men, and woo influential women. All of these will increase your score when you retire. Try to get as many titles from as many different nations as possible. Make governors even happier by completing their missions. If a governor asks you to take a mission, accept it. Most of them are easy. You'll be asked to deliver a letter, rescue somebody, send a message to a spy, or capture a pirate. If the letter is going to a friendly town, just go to the tavern to meet that recipient. If you have to give the message to a spy, or rescue somebody, simply raid that town. The spies and captives are always located in an enemy port. To capture a pirate just sail around the town where he's causing problems. Eventually you will run into him. Board his ship and defeat him in the duel. When you have completed the mission, just return to the governor who sent you out. He will thank you for the job, and sometimes give you a promotion. Just keep track of where you need to go, and where the mission originated from. I like to write it down. Example 1: Pirate so and so near Barbados for Port Royale. This means that the Pirate can be found around Barbados, and I need to take him back to the governor in Port Royale. Example 2: Letter to spy in Havana for Martinique. Take the letter to the spy in Havana, then return to the governor in Martinique. You get the idea. Many times you will be introduced to the governor's daughter. Pay close attention to the rank and status of her suitor. Check your rank from the same nationality. If you out rank him, you will probably be able to marry her right off the bat. If not, just "make pleasant conversation". Making conversation to the same woman many times will make it easier to marry her. But try to have a rank as high as or higher than her suitor. If she accepts your proposal you will have to duel the suitor. Lower "ranking" woman will fall for your charms and agree to be your informant. When you visit them they will tell you what they know about the location of the Treasure Fleet and Silver Train. If you have chosen WIT AND CHARM as your specialty, it will be much easier to impress the woman, allowing you to marry them even when you have a lower rank. Finding a wife will increase your score at the end of the game. Try to marry a woman with a high ranking suitor. These more prestigious women will provide more points at the end. Hint, the woman with the cat and the umbrella provides the most points. 8. CONCLUSION ------------- Hopefully these hints and guidelines will get you on the right track. There are many different aspects of the game that you will need to become proficient at, but the basics are easy to learn. Keep practicing and soon you'll be a great success. Good Luck!