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ATP Features

Civrules' Pirates! FAQ

Here you'll find everything you need to know about Sid Meier's Pirates! in this little article by Civrules.

The Game
Life and the Sea
Naval Battles - Can You Survive?
Back to Dry Land
The Port and the Tavern
Dancing with Politics


Last updated: 19.08.2004

The Game

  • The publisher will be Atari, the developer Firaxis Games, and the game will be a multi-genre game (combining strategy, role-playing, action, and adventure). Pirates! is scheduled for release November 16th, 2004. The Xbox version of Pirates is planned for release in the Spring of 2005.

  • Dueling in the Xbox version will be much more action-oriented. The controls will also be a little bit different. There will be more combos and possibly more special moves. It also looks like Xbox gamers will use an adjustable power meter to determine the distance of their cannon shots and also when on the ship you may have to fight many people to get to the captain, where in the PC version, you just fight the captain.

  • While there's no actual multiplayer planned for Xbox Live!, the game will support Live! features like leaderboards and ranking systems.

  • A Limited Edition version of Pirates! will also be available. It will include exclusive content including the original 1987 version of the game and "making of" feature. The Limited Edition will also have mod tools, developer diaries, tips and tricks and a lot of the early concept art. It will also feature the game itself on DVD-ROM.

  • Location will be in and around the Caribbean. Here is a map:

  • You still operate under English, Spanish, French, or Dutch alignment.

  • You'll choose from four starting points, 1620, 1640, 1660 or 1680, each of which reflect the population, ethnicity, and economic status (etc, etc.) of the local ports.

  • The game will use NDL's Gamebryo (also known as the Marrowind) engine.

  • Game style is clean, historically accurate (ships, ammo, location, etc.), but exaggerated. Everything is stylized.

  • The PC game will be fully moddable, and you'll be able to insert your own ship flags, sail emblems, characters skins, clothing, and even governor's daughters. This allows you to truly customize your game your own way.

  • The game will even output an HTML document with your greatest achievements at the conclusion of your pirate's career.

  • The game also includes surround sound, making it a better experience and more realistic. Cannonballs whiz by during ship battles. You can hear the locals partying in the tavern as you sneak out of town, and thunderstorms roll by as you sail the Caribbean.

  • As you drive your opponent back in a duel, the music becomes positive. As your opponent drives you back, the music becomes dark and ominous.

  • As you sail by any port, you'll hear music that reflects its stature and nationality. A wealthy English port will have robust music, while a poor English port will have the same music with a slower, darker treatment.

  • Four difficulty levels, so you can play at your own pace.

  • You can focus on different parts of the game, therefore, you are not forced to do anything you do not wish to do.

  • Game ends only when you decide to retire (but you will have that chance after each successful battle), or if your character ages too much to be able to do anything successfully.

  • Your character ages at a rate of about a day per second (365 seconds = one year, which means that for six minutes, your character has aged one year).

  • Typically, a good game will last anywhere from five to eight hours. You can choose to play shorter games if you wish. You can also save at any time, but the flexibility of the overall gameplay is always there.

  • The developers aim to keep the game full of adventure, but leave the things that are considered not fun out. This includes dyeing from common diseases that pirates had to deal with in the 17th century. Your character is the hero, not the villain.

  • The main goal of the game is to develop your avatar from an accidental pirate with huge ambitions to a powerful and notorious captain with a huge fleet and even more money.

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Life and the Sea

  • Before you begin life as a pirate, you need to decide upon your nationality and pirate forte, ranging from swashbuckling technique to sailing ability. Dressing up in suitably roguish attire is also important and swords, spyglasses, hats and coats improve your attack and defense abilities

  • Your character cannot be killed, the worst that can happen is him being imprisoned (see “Back to Dry Land” for more information on prisons)

  • You have to make many decisions, and each one presents new openings and dangers

  • As your character ages, he gets gray hair, he won't be able to sail as well, his reflexes slow down, and the governor's daughters won't be attracted to him as much (see “Dancing With Politics” to read more about the governor's daughters)*

  • 27 different ship types, each with its own ammo and other features

  • Rather than being abstracted a few days out of town, each ship travels in real time from town to town performing whatever mission the town AI finds necessary*

  • Troop transports reinforce a town's military strength so if you take them out you'll reduce that town's ability to defend itself from attack. Ships carrying colonists increase a town's population and, by extension, it's prices for commodities. Deciding what you do to these ships will shape the course of the entire game. Even the seizure of a single military payroll ship can have consequences that ripple all across the Caribbean*

  • You'll have your own ship (or fleet of ships, and up to 8) and free reign to do as you please

  • As you sail, pull out your spyglass to zoom in on towns. If you see an enemy ship coming, you can look at it from a safe distance and observe it. You can see if the deck is full of people, if the sails are in good position, or if they are running out their guns in anticipation of a combat*

  • The interface is simple and informative. The top left corner contains the amount of gold and the number of sailors you have as well as the crew's general mood. Crew's mood mostly depends on the amount of gold each pirate receives (a lot of gold and few pirates means happy crew). The top right corner contains the amount of food at your disposal in relation to the time you spend at sea. This makes it easier to calculate the time you have before your sailors start fighting each other. Wind speed and direction have been displayed in the lower left corner and the lower right corner contains an overview of political relations

  • The sailing sequences, playable either from an isometric or chase view, reveal a living world with a compelling and convincing wind and sea model*

  • As you sail, you'll also have a heads up display of the map

  • Smuggling is a bigger and more effective part of the game than before. You can even run trade to cities that are paying good rates for commodities

  • Shifting political climate along with a working economic system in the Caribbean based on ship trade. Also, everything effects the game

  • Every ship in the game has a starting point and a destination, they do not just move around randomly. Apart from the ships belonging to one of the four nations (English, Spanish, French and Dutch) there are also other pirate ships as well as Indian war canoes which also represent the traffic of the Caribbean at the time

  • You can add your own different specialists to the crew. During the creation of your character you can choose his special traits (fencing, navigation, aiming)

  • Storms are represented by thick, dark clouds and lightning (you may want to avoid them in some cases)

  • The environment springs to life as you notice different animals such as seagulls, whales, and other wildlife

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Naval Battles - Can You Survive?

  • The ship battles take place in a full 3D environment, either from an aerial perspective or one closer to the horizon.

  • Take on various foes including merchant and military captains, ferocious pirates, evil gentry and even rival suitors -- each with different skills and abilities

  • Before you attack, you are given the enemy ship's status, including where it is going, how long it has been on sea, what its intentions are (is it a merchant ship, military, etc.)*

  • To start a naval battle, sail towards the enemy ship and attack (you can attack any ship, even from your own nationality), or if you think you have a chance, you can board it without a ship-to-ship attack and fight off it's crew. Before an attack you are also given an option to change your flagship, or to not attack*

  • To start a naval battle, sail towards the enemy ship and attack (you can attack any ship, even from your own nationality), or if you think you have a chance, you can board it without a ship-to-ship attack and fight off it's crew

  • During combat, you can see each cannon move as it fires with the little gun ports opening and closing. Crew now scurries up and down the deck, attending to the guns or waving little flags*

  • If loosing a ship-to-ship attack, you have a better chance to escape at night

  • If two AI ships are at battle (an example: England and Spain), you can enter the battle, or you can wait until it has finished and then attack the last, and possibly wounded ship*

  • Keep in mind that the more you damage the enemy ship the more crew you will need to sail it back to port, if you decide to keep the ship

  • Different kinds of cannon shot; double shot for the hull, chain shot will tear holes in the opposing ship's sails and rigging (thereby negatively affecting their maneuverability), and grapeshot shot will target their crew. Rake shot may also be simulated when you shoot from behind an enemy ship, so the shot travels the length of the ship

  • Bear in mind that the bigger the cannon, the longer it takes to load, so you better rely on smaller and easily maneuverable vessels which have less powerful weapons but are more likely to avoid enemy fire

  • If you have sufficiently damaged the ship and decimated the crew, the enemy may simply surrender

  • As you have more battle successes, your reputation increases and the loyalty and size of your crew will too (you hire more people in the tavern. For more information on the tavern see “The Port and the Tavern”)

  • When you are on board an enemy ship, the game switches to a “different” (not really different, it's the same engine, but has a different look to the sequence) 3D engine (the 3D Adventure Engine, you also play under it when on land, etc.), the opposing captain will represent his nationality and type of ship, and fighting between your crew and the enemy's crew begins

  • How well your crew fights depends on morale. This is cleverly monitored by keeping the gold-to-crew ratio in check. Fencing moves, such as slashes, parries and thrusts, are available via the number pad

  • You can grab anything within your reach and use it as a weapon (a bucket can be thrown at chance, for example)

  • Nearly all of the minigames in Pirates!, including swordfighting, battles, and others, use the keyboard number pad for controls by default (though you can remap these keys or use a gamepad if you so desire). Swing around poles and ropes, knock enemy down a flight of stairs, kick them off balconies and do other moves, all with combining the keys you use*

  • During battles, you can use the number pad keys to combine moves, swing around poles and ropes, knock enemy down a flight of stairs, kick them off balconies and do other moves

  • Different ship captains will be armed accordingly. For example, when attacking a merchant ship, the captain will be with velvet and frills while a warship's captain will be with a metal breastplate and conquistador-style helmet*

  • Success leads to the riches of the newly captured ship; it's crew is added to yours, you can also choose to upgrade and improve the ship, sale the ship, or the plundering and sinking of the ship if you decide that you cannot sail it (due to the amount of crew you have or the damage it has sustained), or it is too damaged to repair (or you just don't have the money to repair it)

  • If opposing ship's crew comes to your ship, they can dump you overboard, or take you prisoner, just as they can when you are on their ship

  • When an individual is knocked off the ship, you can pick him up, so now he will be your new member of the crew (even if he was an enemy)

  • If you constantly keep loosing duels, your governor may offer you a chance to practice with him (see “Dancing With Politics” to read more about the governor)

  • There may also be a villain pirate responsible for killing your parents (forcing you to leave your own little mission or location of operation in some cases), he may also have scattered your family across the Caribbean. You can discover clues to help you find your long lost relatives, and if you choose to, you can decide to track down that same pirate and go to battle with him, although it won‘t be easy

  • You can bribe natives to raid nearby villages, in some cases, you have to protect these people in order for them to accomplish their mission successfully. They operate with War Canoes

  • Each time you divide the plunder from a successful cruise, you'll have the chance to retire from the pirate life altogether. At that point, the game calculates your score . This is based on the amount of gold you've obtained, your ranks in the various navies and your romantic involvements. The final score will be given as a post-pirate profession

  • At higher difficulty levels, you get to keep a larger percentage of your plunder

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Back to Dry Land

  • When you sail to a city, you will be given the following options: Talk to the Governor, Visit the Tavern, Trade with Merchant, Consult with Shipwright, Divide the Plunder, Check Status or Sail Away. But when near an enemy city, you can either sail away, attack the town, or sneak into the town*

  • The new land battle system will feature simultaneous turn-based battles. These battles will be more straight forewords and less time-consuming. Land battles are also the most rewarding if you are successful, and the most risky if you are not*

  • You and your rivals will have several companies of one or more of the following: infantry, pistoleers, cavalry, and artillery, which, in your case, are cannons you drag off of your ship, assuming you have any left. Pirates armed with cutlasses and buccaneers armed with muskets*

  • Against you the enemy can field units such as riflemen, Indian scouts, and cavalry. Each unit takes its turn moving, shooting or engaging in hand-to-hand combat. As you move across the terrain, you'll find that the facing of a unit, the terrain it occupies and its height factor into its combat effectiveness*

  • Units are also rated in terms of morale. You can see how shaken a unit is by the state of its flag. If the flag is bright and waving proudly, you needn't worry. But if it is shot through and drooping, perhaps you ought to hold those units back or move a group of officers closer to them*

  • You'll need to mind some strategic concerns, like the power and speed of cavalry against the relative weakness of infantry*

  • You may end up in a one-on-one duel with the captain of a garrison, whom you push back into the town's armory. After you've beaten him back enough to send him tumbling against a keg of gunpowder, your character will toss a lighted fuse into the building, causing both of you to run for cover (but granting you the victory). This is just one of the ways to succeed in a land battle*

  • Economic network between towns. You can isolate a town by attacking [successfully] any ship that comes to its harbor. Eventually, you will be able to overtake and control the town

  • There will be several kinds of enemy land units in the game. This includes infantry, artillery, and cavalry. Pirates armed with cutlasses and buccaneers armed with muskets

  • You can also attack forts as well as towns. After you attack a fort, if you are successful in battling the fort's commander, you get to have the fort's riches

  • Failure to overtake an enemy ship (or for that matter, failure winning any battle) leads to you being prisoner for months (game wise). You can attempt to escape from the dungeon and town as soon as darkness falls using stealth and the darkness of the night; clubbing guards on the head to assure your success (another guard has to wake them up at that point). When trying to escape from prison, walking slowly and cautiously helps you see better, if you run, you peripheral vision decreases (the camera zooms in so you cannot see around you as well). You will also have to sneak into town when visiting another individual*

  • Failure to overtake an enemy ship (or for that matter, failure winning any battle) leads to you being prisoner for months (game wise). You can attempt to escape from the dungeon and town as soon as darkness falls using stealth and the darkness of the night; clubbing guards to assure your success. When trying to escape from prison, walking slowly and cautiously helps you see better, if you run, you peripheral vision decreases (the camera zooms in so you cannot see around you as well). You will also have to sneak into town when visiting another individual

  • Distract the guards by throwing pebbles or making bird noises as you sneak along the town's streets

  • If captured, you stay in prison for more months (or even years) and as your character ages, his reflexes decrease and hand-to-hand fencing becomes more difficult, eventually, it will become more and more risky to have fights as you will be more likely to loose. This forces you (in most cases) to retire from a pirate's life

  • If you sail by a town which is against you, you will be in danger of being attacked. The towns will also be in danger because it is possible for you to fire upon them as well. A good tip to keep in mind is to not plunder an already plundered town. You can also protect a town with your ship, just as you can isolate it

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The Port and the Tavern

  • Your options in a friendly port are mostly taken care of via menus

  • Sailing to a port can have benefits such as upgrading your ship with copper plating to turn faster, cotton sails to make it go faster and possibly get through storms in a safer way; sell your booty, trade with merchants, listen for rumors in the tavern, or get new missions from the governor. You can also upgrade your weaponry. Some of this depends on which year you choose to start in

  • You can visit the shipyard where you can repair, upgrade or sell your ships. Shipwrights also offer you the chance to buy new ships

  • Ports with their own allegiances

  • Get tips and partial [treasure] maps from strangers or merchants in taverns (at some point, a mysterious stranger may even tell you about a long-lost relative; to read more about long-lost relatives, see “Navel Battles - Can You Survive?”). Sail around to other ports to increase your chance of getting more tips and make the quest for gold a success, if, of course, you choose to pursue it

  • Search for the treasure in the many caves. When and if you discover hidden treasure, it may be another pirate's, therefore making him or them your enemy*

  • You can also trade with the local merchant. Buy cannon, sugar, spices, or many other goods. When in the tavern, you can also buy swords or dancing shoes

  • Collect items (swords, spyglasses, armor, hats, coats, etc.) that improve skills or provide other new benefits and view them in a new inventory system

  • Also visit the tavern where you can check your position on the ten-most-fearsome-pirates list

  • At the tavern you can also talk with the tavern keeper to learn of new devices that can be installed on your ship or talk with the tavern waitress to find out about the activities of nearby pirates. The tavern is also the only place where you can get new crew members

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Dancing With Politics

  • After a couple of (assuming) successful battles the governor will appreciate you even more, so he might even give you a rank (like captain or commander)

  • Increase your rank by listening to the governor (remember, you don't have to, you can do whatever you wish). If he likes what you have done in the past, then he lets you meet his daughter

  • You can dance with the governor's daughter, if you are successful (if she likes how you dance based on the instructions she gives you), she may even marry you and provide further details about enemy status, or other details that might concern you. If you do good and impress the governor's daughter, her angry fiancée comes in and challenges you to a duel.

  • The governor's daughter instructs you when and where to move (this determines your success, if you are precise)

  • Dancing starts off with a simple left or right movement on the first beat of every measure. As the dance continues you'll have to throw in some diagonal or front and back moves and hit them more frequently*

  • More attractive daughters hand out better rewards but also present tougher dancing challenges*

  • It may be possible to put in your own music in dancing sequences

  • The governor's daughter may entrust you with a balanced sword or a leather vest which are aids to dueling. Or you may get a fiddle that serves as a morale booster. The weather glass will give you better sailing through storms, while the telescope gives you a wider field of vision at sea. Lockpicking kits make prison breaks easier

  • Technically, you can have governor's daughters all over the Caribbean in different cities

  • If you marry the governor's daughter, this only makes the relations between you and the nation stronger. It is possible for her to give you information about the world around you

  • The governor can provide you with a letter of marque which is a legal permission to attack and loot the ships and towns of enemy nations. (you don't have to follow his order if you find that you have an advantage of not doing what he tells you or you just want to pursue a different part of the game). He can even ask you to hunt down and assassinate another individual, or rescue his daughter from kidnapping (which heightens your rank with his government), or even capture some traitors

  • You might even have the mission to escort a new governor who is on another ship to his post. If another ship comes in to attack, you might protect it, leave, or let the two battle and then capture the enemy ship, if he has not lost

  • Getting deeper in the game, you can get into the political subtleties. You may be given a mission by the governor to deliver an offer of peace to an enemy nation. If you decide that you can benefit from the war, you can simply “delay” or not deliver it at all. Or another case can be that you can sink a ship which has the mission to deliver a peace treaty, if you sink it, no peace treaty is delivered and therefore no war is ended

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  • I recommend that you at least skim over this information again as I've included more information and rearranged some details from the last time I updated this. : )

  • Also note that some of this information has been taken and/or quoted straight from previews and other sources.

  • *Updated information.

  • Total number of facts: 100

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© 2004 Addicted to Pirates! All rights reserved.
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Pirates! Release Dates:
PC - Released
XBOX - Released
XBOX LIVE - Released
PSP - Released


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