Being a complete and comprehensive account
of the Great Age of Buccaneering in the West Indies
between the years 1560 and 1700.
It was an era of new kings and empires, of new tests of strength and power. It
was a day when a man could rise from humble beginnings and be knighted for
brave and daring service to the Crown. Now you can be such a man in PIRATES!,
a game of hot-blooded swashbuckling across the Spanish Main.
You are transported to the Caribbean as it was in the heyday of smugglers,
privateers, buccaneers and pirates. All the skills real men needed for survival
and success are present, in real-time action!
In PIRATES! you navigate the wide Caribbean by guess, compass, and
occasional sun sights with your astrolabe. In peace or battle, your sailing
skill can spell the difference between a profitable journey and a watery grave.
And if it comes to battle, you must do what real buccaneer Captains did - lead
your men from the front, sword in hand, until you meet and defeat the enemy
commander. This is a new type of game, an action simulation. Your game
activities are based on how men actually did them, such as sailing ships and
dueling with swords.
The Caribbean is a canvas of grand adventure, from the treasure-laden
ambushes of Sir Francis Drake to the piratical plunderings of the notorious
Henry Morgan (whose name still graces a brand of Jamaican rum). Like these men,
you can discuss politics with provincial governors, sneak into towns for
clandestine smuggling arrangements with local merchants, cross swords with
vicious noblemen of all nationalities, rescue helpless waifs from vile slave
plantations, even find a beautiful wife! When you accumulate sufficient
treasure, land, honors, and satisfaction, you can take a pleasant retirement
appropriate to your gains.
PIRATES! brings alive the grand scope of a venturesome and bygone age. As in
every MicroProse simulation, extensive research into the details of places and
people, ships and battles brings you unparalleled realism. PIRATES! goes beyond
simple fantasy and touches the reality of an exciting page in history.
If you prefer to learn PIRATES! while playing, consult your "Captain's
Broadsheet". If you like to understand the concepts before you begin playing,
turn to "In the Beginning" and read all of Book I.
Instructions to Captains
IN THE BEGINNING...
The stars of new Kings and Emperors are rising in Europe. New opportunities
abound for the ambitious man. There are reputations to be made, fortunes to be
won, beautiful women to wed, and with royal favor you may even gain a patent of
nobility. "Duke of the Realm" has a fine sound to it, does it not? These are
days when glorious careers can come from a humble start.
To begin your adventure, load the game (see your "Captain's Broadsheet" for
specific instructions, including troubleshooting instructions if you have
trouble loading). To make a choice, move the pointer on the screen (using your
joystick, mouse, or keyboard cursor keys, as appropriate) to highlight the
option you prefer. To select the highlighted option, press the joystick
trigger. You need not wait for the "Press to Continue" message.
A WORD ABOUT YOUR GOALS -
From a humble start, you are seeking to make your fortune in the West Indies
so that you can retire to a life of wealth, ease, and high status. The quality
of your retirement is a sum of your personal fortune, your rank, your lands,
your reputation, the wife you marry (if any), and whatever especially pleasing
events befall you during the course of your adventures.
After any voyage, when you return to port and divide up the plunder, you can
then retire. If your health permits, you can leave retirement and take up
adventuring again, should you wish to try for more. As you learn the game make
a few "trial retirements" to understand this. See "Your Career on the High
Seas" for more information about your retirement and future happiness.
You can save a retired character in a "Hall of Fame". You must have a
properly formatted save-game disk for this. Use the save-game routine
(available at any port under check information) to format a disk. See your
"Captain's Broadsheet" for more information on saving games.
INITIAL OPPORTUNITIES -
A new player should select START A NEW CAREER.
Start a New Career begins a complete adventure, from your first arrival in
the New World to your well-earned retirement. This is the "standard" game, and
can continue for quite some time.
Continue a Saved Game allows you to resume any game in progress. Do not
insert the save-game disk until instructed on screen. See the "Captain's
Broadsheet" for how to create and use a 'saved game' disk.
Command a Famous Expedition is a "short game" where you command just one
expedition. These expeditions are usually large, but end whenever you divide
the plunder. Famous expeditions are not for a novice - doing as well as the
historical model can be a very challenging task.
FAMOUS EXPEDITIONS -
Battle of San Juan de Ulua The Silver Train Ambush
(John Hawkins, 1569) (Francis Drake, 1573)
The Treasure Fleet The Sack of Maracaibo
(Piet Heym, 1628) (L'Ollonais, 1666)
The King's Pirate The Last Expedition
(Henry Morgan, 1671) (Baron de Pointis, 1697)
A new player should try a career rather than a famous expedition. Each
expedition is a short, self-contained adventure that ends when you divide up
the loot. In reality these expeditions were commanded by an experienced,
skillful leader. To do well, you also should be an experienced leader.
John Hawkins, 1569:
This is a fairly difficult situation. You have a large, powerful squadron,
but are in a totally Spanish Caribbean. The only friendly ports are tiny
anchorages. In reality, Hawkins tried to be a peaceful trader (sometimes at
gunpoint - a most peculiar combination), and failed. See Famous Expeditions
for additional background information.
Francis Drake, 1573:
This is a very difficult situation. Like Hawkins, you are faced with a
completely Spanish Caribbean, but now you have a small force. In reality, after
a few false starts, Drake's boldness and bravery made him successful. See
Famous Expeditions for additional background information.
Piet Heyn, 1628:
This is a fairly easy situation. You have a balanced task force, and are
admirably positioned to intercept Spanish treasure galleons off the Havana or
in the Florida Channel. Equalling Heyn's feat of ambushing the entire Treasure
Fleet will take a combination of good luck and persistence at the right place
and time. See Famous Expeditions for additional background information.
This is a fairly easy situation. You have many potentially friendly bases
and militarily weak Spaniards. However, duplicating L'Ollonais' achievement of
conquering and plundering the entire Maracaibo region may prove taxing. See
Famous Expeditions for additional background information.
Henry Morgan, 1671:
This is a very easy situation. You have overwhelming forces, various
friendly bases, and an enemy already weakened by earlier raids. Morgan captured
Puerto Bello and sacked Panama. With any luck, so can you. See Famous
Expeditions for additional background information.
Baron de Pointis, 1697:
This is another very easy situation. You have powerful forces, while the
Spanish are at their lowest militarily. Duplicating de Pointis' capture and
sack of Cartagena isn't too difficult. See Famous Expeditions for additional
SELECTING AN HISTORICAL TIME PERIOD -
The Silver Empire (1560) Merchants and Smugglers (1600)
The New Colonists (1620) War for Profit (1640)
The Buccaneer Heroes (1660) Pirates' Sunset (1680)
A new player should answer No, Thanks. This automatically gives you the most
advantageous era for piracy: The Buccaneer Heroes (1660).
The Caribbean and the Spanish Main were a changing environment as military
and economic power waxed and waned, new colonies appeared and old cities
declined. The region gradually changed from total Spanish dominion in the
1560s, to a wild frontier for European colonization, and eventually to a
cosmopolitan nexus in a new global economy.
The Silver Empire (1560):
In this era the Spanish Empire is at its peak. all the colonies (with one
lonesome exception) are Spanish, all the major ports and trade are controlled
by Spain. However, Spain's gains have been so great other Europeans are
attracted to steal and plunder whatever Spain cannot protect. Because of Spains
great power, this is an extremely challenging era, and should not be attempted
by novices. See THE SILVER EMPIRE (1560 - 1600) for more information.
Merchants & Smugglers (1600):
This era is very similar to The Silver Empire, but Spain is slightly weaker.
A few abortive non-Spanish colonial ventures have begun, but the Caribbean
remains essentially Spanish. Another change is the predominance of the Dutch
smuggling trade. Like the 1560s, this era should not be attempted by novices.
See MERCHANTS & SMUGGLERS (1600 - 1620) for more information.
The New Colonists (1620):
This era sees the first successful colonies founded by the enemies of Spain,
while Spanish power continues to decline. With these colonies prospects for
piracy and privateering are improved. Life is fairly challenging for would-be
pirates and privateers. See THE NEW COLONISTS (1620 - 1640) for more
War for Profit (1640):
This era is the heyday for small, independent buccaneers. The Spanish
military and economy are at their nadir, while new European colonies are
blooming throughout the Antillies. This period is a golden age (literally!)
for the independent and resourceful man. It is an enjoyable era for players
of al skill levels. See WAR FOR PROFIT (1640 - 1660) for more information.
The Buccaneer Heroes (1660):
These decades are the peak of swashbuckling adventure in the Caribbean.
Spanish wealth is reappearing, but Imperial military power remains a joke.
European colonies and ports abound, fortune-hunting sailors crowd the taverns,
searching for lucky Captains. This classic age makes piracy a pleasure for
players of every skill level. See THE BUCCANEER HEROES (1660 - 1680) for more
Pirates' Sunset (1680):
This era is the last for Caribbean pirate adventuring. European nations now
take seriously events in the Caribbean. Navy warships are on patrol, Letters of
Marque are harder to find, governors are less tolerant. Enjoy this era while
you can, for it is the end of an age. This period is somewhat tough for novices
but interesting and challenging for all others. See PIRATES' SUNSET (1680 -
1700) for more information.
SELECTING A NATIONALITY -
English Buccaneer French Buccaneer
Dutch Adventurer Spanish Renegade
A new player should select English Buccaneer. Specific roles available
vary from period to period (no Dutch role is available in 1560). The role you
choose determines where you start, what ship(s) you have, the size of your
crew, your initial wealth and reputation, etc. Your initial nationality does
not require you to support that nation (many of France's admirals in the
Caribbean during the 1680s were Dutch buccaneers!). Your acts speak for you:
if you deeds please a nation, a governor may reward you. If you anger a nation,
a governor can order his harbor forts to fire on you!
English is often a useful nationality. This nation supports privateers into
the 16th Century, and just as generously supported private colonization
ventures in the next Century.
French is the second classic Nationality for pirates. Although this nation
provides less support to its sons overseas, it also gives them more independence
and more freedom of action. Furthermore, the growing 17th Century French
colonies on Western Hispaniola and Tortuga are ideal pirate bass.
Dutch is an exciting and different nationality. Except in the 1620s, the
Dutch sailed as traders to the Caribbean, not as warriors. Of course, once in
the Caribbean, more than a few supplemented their trading with more violent and
profitable pursuits. As a rule, Dutch traders tried to stay on the good side of
the French and English, although this was not always possible.
Spanish is the most challenging nationality. As a Spanish renegade you start
in a weak position, although in 1680 you can play the interesting role of
Costa Guarda - the Spanish Caribbean coast guard who often acted liked pirates
themselves! In either event, Spanish origin is a pleasant change and refreshing
Your Name -
Type in any name you wish, but you are limited to nine characters. Press the
'Return' key to finish your entry.
DIFFICULTY LEVEL -
A new player should choose Apprentice. This gives you the easiest and most
helpful environment for learning.
Apprentice gives the player maximum "aid" from expert subordinate officers
on board the ship. This makes play easier, but whenever the party's loot is
divided, all these experts take rather large shares, leaving little for you.
Journeyman is moderately easy. The player's subordinates are less expert
(although still quite good), but your share of the loot is larger.
Adventurer is moderately difficult. Your subordinates are mediocre, but your
share of the loot is very good.
Swashbuckler is extremely difficult. Your subordinates are 'drunken gutter
swine' of precious little value. Of course, your share of the loot is the
SPECIAL ABILITIES -
Skill at Fencing Skill at Navigation
Skill at Gunnery Wit and Charm
Skill at Medicine
New players may select what they please. Apprentice difficulty level insures
that all activities are fairly easy.
Skill at Fencing gives you well-trained reflexes that make enemy actions and
reactions seem sluggish by comparison.
Skill at Navigation make travel on the high seas faster and easier.
Skill at Gunnery aids you during naval battles, making your broadsides more
likely to land on-target.
Wit and Charm is useful when dealing with governors and others of high
Skill at Medicine helps you preserve your good health longer, and to suffer
less from injuries. As a result, your career can last longer.
YOUR STARTING TALE: TREASURE FLEETS & SILVER TRAINS -
As your early life unfolds, you are asked for a crucial piece of
information: when the Spanish Treasure Fleet or Silver Train arrives at a
particular city. The itinerary varies from year to year. The itineraries appear
in chronological order later in this document. Be sure you have the correct
year, and don't mistake the Treasure Fleet for the Silver Train, or vice versa.
If you answer the question correctly, then events will unfold to your
advantage. If you answer incorrectly, you are warned about an unpromising
start. Heed the advice and start over, otherwise you'll find your situation
Spain & Peru:
At times the Treasure Fleet is not in the Caribbean, but in Seville, Spain,
preparing for another journey. similarly, at times the Silver Train is not in
the Caribbean, but in Peru, loading silver and gold there. In both cases it is
inaccessible to you. You'll have to wait until it reappears in the Caribbean
HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES -
From the 1530s onward, Spanish ships suffered from privateers and outright
piracy, not only in the West Indies, but also in the Atlantic. Spain's solution
adopted informally in the 1560s, was to "convoy" ships together in one powerful
Each year the fleet ("flota") sailed from Seville in Spain, carrying
passengers, troops, and European trade goods to the Spanish colonies of the new
world. However, its principal purpose was returning silver from the mines in
New Spain (Mexico) and Potosi (Peru) to the Spanish government in Europe. This
vast wealth made the returning fleet a tempting target. Privateer and pirate
ships frequently followed it, hoping to pick off stragglers. This was a
dangerous business, since a well-handled war galleon could (and sometimes did)
turn the tables and capture a pirate!
Similarly, the mule train roads along the coast of Terra Firma (South
America) moved silver and other goods toward the major ports of Cartagena,
Nombre de Dios, and Puerto Bello. These trains carried produce and specie
destined to be loaded aboard the treasure fleet.
THE TREASURE FLEET THE SILVER TRAIN
Cumana - Early October Cumana - Early April
Puerto Cabello - Late October Borburata - Late April
Maricaibo - Early November Puerto Cabello - Early May
Rio de la Hacha - Late November Coro - Late May
Nombre de Dios - Early December Gibraltar - Early June
Cartagena - Late December Maracaibo - Late June
Campeche - Late January Rio de la Hacha - Early July
Vera Cruz - Early February Santa Marta - Late July
Havana - Early March Cartagena - Early August
Santiago - Late March Panama - Late August
Florida Channel - Late April Nombre de Dios - Early October
Cumana - Early October St. Thome - Early April
Caracas - Late October Cumana - Late April
Maracaibo - Early November Caracas - Early May
Rio de la Hacha - Late November Pureto Cabello - Late May
Santa Marta - Early December Coro - Early June
Puerto Bello - Late December Gibraltar - Late June
Cartagena - Early January Maracaibo - Early July
Campeche - Early February Rio de la Hacha - Late July
Vera Cruz - Late February Santa Marta - Early August
Havana - Late March Cartagena - Late August
Florida Channel - Late April Panama - Early September
Puerto Bello - Late October
Caracas - Early September St. Thome - Early March
Maracaibo - Late September Cumana - Late March
Rio de la Hacha - Early October Caracas - Early April
Santa Marta - Late October Puerto Cabello - Late April
Puerto Bello - Early November Gibraltar - Early May
Cartagena - Early December Maracaibo - Late May
Campeche - Early January Rio de la Hacha - Early June
Vera Cruz - Late January Santa Marta - Late June
Havana - Late February Cartagena - Early July
Florida Channel - Late March Panama - Late July
Puerto Bello - Early September
Caracas - Early October Cumana -Early April
Maracaibo - Late October Caracas - Late April
Rio de la Hacha - Early November Gibraltar - Early May
Santa Marta - Late November Maracaibo - Late May
Puerto Bello - Early December Rio de la Hacha - Early June
Cartagena - Early January Santa Marta - Early July
Campeche - Early February Cartagena - Late July
Vera Cruz - Late February Panama - Late August
Havana - Late March Puerto Bello - Early October
Florida Channel - Late April
Caracas - Early September Cumana - Early March
Maracaibo - late September Caracas - Late March
Rio de la Hacha - Early October Gibraltar - Early April
Santa Marta - Late October Maracaibo - Late April
Puerto Bello - Early November Rio de la Hacha - Early May
Cartagena - Early December Santa Marta - Early June
Campeche - Early January Cartagena - Late June
Vera Cruz - Late January Panama - Late July
Havana - Late February Puerto Bello - Early September
Florida Channel - Late March
Caracas - Early October Cumana - Early April
Rio de la Hacha - Late October Caracas - Late April
Santa Marta - Early November Maracaibo - Late May
Puerto Bello - Late November Rio de la Hacha - Late June
Cartagena - Late December Santa Marta - Early July
Campeche - Late January Cartagena - Late July
Vera Cruz - Early February Panama - Late August
Havana - Early March Puerto Bello - Early October
Florida Channel - Late April
FENCING & SWORDPLAY
Early Modern Europe was a willful and violent age. You discouraged thieves,
righted injustice, protected your family, and maintained your honor with a
sword. Whether challenged to a duel, or fighting your way through a tavern
brawl, skill with cold steel was simple survival.
BASICS OF CONTROL -
The descriptions here assume you are using a joystick (stick). If not, see
the "Captains Broadsheet" for your equivalent controls.
You are on the right side of the battle scene, your opponent is on the left.
To Attack, push the stick left, toward the enemy. Push high for a high
attack, horizontal for a mid-level attack, low for a low attack. Hold the
trigger before and during the attack for a slower but more powerful slashing
To Parry, do not push left or right. Just push up to parry high attacks,
leave centered to parry mid-level attacks, and push down to parry low attacks.
To Retreat, push the stick right, away from the enemy. You parry while
retreating, and like normal parries, these can be high, mid-level, or low,
depending on stick position.
To Pause, press the pause key. To resume fencing, press it again.
Attack High Parry High Parry High
(slash w/trigger) and retreat
\ | /
\ | /
Attack mid-level \ | / Parry mid-level
(slash w/trigger) ------ Parry ------ and retreat
/ mid-level \
/ | \
/ | \
/ | \
Attack Low Parry Low Parry low
(slash w/trigger) and retreat
CHOOSING YOUR WEAPON -
Three types of swords are available: rapier, cutlass and longsword. For all
three weapons, a slash is twice as effective as a normal attack, should it
hit. Of course, slashes take longer to execute. Your opponent also has
different weapons. The color of your opponent's shirt indicates the weapon he
The rapier is a long, thin, flexible weapon with a sharp point. It can be
maneuvered easily and thrust into a target with accuracy. It has a longer reach
than any other weapon, but its strikes do the least damage (that is, you must
hit more often to defeat the enemy).
The cutlass is a short, heavy, curved cleaver with a mean edge but short
reach. Cutlass hits can be devastating (twice as damaging as a rapier) making
it a popular weapon among untutored fighters.
The longsword is a classic weapon of medium length (longer than a cutlass,
shorter than a rapier). Its attacks do more than a rapier, but less than a
THE PRINCIPLES OF FENCING -
Like all active men of your time, you are a trained swordsman. Attacking and
defensive movements, including wrist, arm, body, and footwork are as automatic
as throwing or kicking a ball. Put together, these motions form "combinations"
that allow you to attack, parry, or retreat in various ways. Each combination
takes one to two seconds to execute.
In battle, victory depends on selecting the best combination. If you
recognize an attacking combination fast enough, you can block it with a
defensive combination, or counterattack with a combination that exploits his
A "hit" occurs whenever an attack connects. You'll see a flash and a hint of
blood when you hit. Each hit weakens your enemy and demoralizes his followers.
Retreat from battle is easy. Just select retreat combinations until you move
off the screen. This ends the battle. Of course, you lose whatever you were
fighting over and your reputation suffers. On the other hand, when facing a
skillful enemy, retreat is often better than defeat!
Panic & Surrender occurs whenever a leader in "panic" is hit. It also occurs
in large battles when a leader's forcer are reduced to just one man, and then
he is hit. Striking a man who surrendered is an unchivalrous deed that may
inspire him to rise and fight on.
Novices are advised to select a cutlass and just keep attacking, high, low,
and middle, relying on the large damage done with each hit. However, if you'd
like to defend yourself with some parry combinations, a weapon with more reach,
such as a longsword or rapier, is recommended.
Each combination is different swordfighting maneuver in combat. As a fencer,
you select a combination and your body automatically makes the appropriate
All attacking combinations include forward-moving footwork. Therefore, to
advance against your opponent, select an attacking combination. Similarly, all
retreating combinations cause you to back away from your opponent.
Slashing High takes the longest period of time to execute, but has an extra-
long reach. If it hits, this combination does twice the damage of a normal
Slashing Mid-Level is a faster slash, but slower than normal attacks and
parries. If it hits, this combination does double the damage of a normal
Slashing Low is the fastest slash, but has a slightly shorter reach. If it
hits, this combination does twice as much damage as a normal attack.
Attacking High is a moderately fast attack that exploits the point rather
than the edge of a weapon. It has a longer reach than mid-level or low attacks
and slashes. If it hits, this combination does half as much damage as a slash.
Attacking Mid-Level is the second-fastest attack. It also emphasizes the
point, rather than the edge. Therefore, if it hits this combination only does
half as much damage as a slash.
Attacking Low is the fastest attack, but has a slightly shorter reach than
normal. Like high and mid-level attacks, it uses the point. Therefore, if it
hits this combination only does half as much damage as a slash.
Parrying High counters any high combination, attack or slash. As high
attacks are slower developing than mid-level or low, defensive fighters rarely
stand "on guard" in a high parry.
Parrying Mid-Level counters any mid-level combination, attack or slash. This
is a classic "on guard" position to which many swordsmen return. A fencer can
move from this position to any other position very quickly.
Parrying Low counters any low combination, attack or slash. Experienced
swordsmen periodically stand "on guard" in a low parry, since low attacks can
develop very quickly.
High Parry & Retreat combines the standard high parry with backpedal foot
movements that move you away from your opponent.
Mid-Level Parry & Retreat combines the standard mid-level parry with
backpedal foot movements that move you away from your opponent.
Low Parry & Retreat combines the standard low parry with backpedal foot
movements that move you away from your opponent.
LEADERSHIP IN BATTLE -
Only a few of your battles are man-to-man duels. Most of the time you are
leading your stalwart crew against the enemy. As you duel the enemy leader,
your crewmen are also fighting.
Your hits against the enemy leader, and his against you, change the morale
of each side in battle. Morale levels run from WILD! (the best) downward
through STRONG, FIRM, ANGRY, SHAKEN and finally PANIC.
Number of Men:
As you fight, a battle rages around you. The rate each side suffers
casualties depends on their strength and their morale. If morale is fairly
equal, a force with superior numbers will inflict more casualties. However,
an inferior force that has high morale can avoid casualties and inflict serious
losses on a larger force with very low morale. Therefore, morale can be more
important than numerical comparisons.
Retreat & Surrender:
You can lead your men into a retreat from battle by retreating yourself.
Surrender occurs when you inflict sufficient hits on an enemy leader in "panic"
or when you've reduced the enemy to just one remaining man and then hit the
leader (regardless of morale). Of course, the same could happen to you.
THE MEMOIRS OF CAPT'N SYDNEY -
Many a buccaneer captain is nothin' but a big bully. Unschooled in fencing,
he'd carry a sharp cutlass and swing away, knowing that a spine-splittin slash
do'd more than a half dozen rapier thrusts. I hear Blackbeard himself, who
always used a cutlass, was run through several score times by a rapier before
he fell. He'd not lasted so long with a cutlass in his gizzard, mate!
Well, I'm no fencing master, but I had some schoolin' in the art of cold
steel. I'd use a cutlass to terrify poor, inept merchant Captains, slashin 'em
up and chopin' 'em down quick as a slipped anchor. 'Gainst most opponents I
preferred me longsword. Toledo steel it was, with a fine balance and nice edge.
In a serious fight I'd not slash much, since it slowed me down and exposed me
too long. Now I know rapiers are all the rage now, and their extra reach is
right handy. But it takes too bless'd long to do in the opposition with an
Now if'n I 'twas leadin' my men 'gainst greater numbers, me tactics did
change. I remember bein' boarded by a war galleon commanded by an Admiral or
Count or somethin'. Long fancy name, he had. sure to be a good fencer, I
thought, and he was. But outnumbered as we were, I had ta' strike quick like,
get the battle goin' our way, or me mates would've been slaughtered up right
So I's grabbed a cutlass and charged that Don, howlin' like a demon. I
shrugged off a couple rapier pricks and got right in eye-to-eye, slashin' at
'is legs. That took some stuffin' out of him right quick! With them papists all
shaken and panicy like, it didna' take long to polish 'em off.
HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES -
The Common Man as Warrior:
In this turbulent time there were more clergymen than sheriffs! A man
protected his own property and person against thieves and banditry, since the
kingdom often could not. It was the rare man who went without some weapon.
Noblemen settled disputes "quietly" in duels, rather than through open
warfare (a medieval practice the Crown frowned upon). Commoners used staves,
clubs, crude spears, large knives and such. Where available, the heavy cutlass
was an ideal weapon for a stout but untutored fighter.
The Colonial Frontier:
Life in the colonies was even more unruly than the homeland. This was
This was especially true of the English and French colonies, largely populated
with convicts, fortune hunters, deadbeats, religious fanatics, and other people
the homeland was happy to see off. Furthermore, in the colonies the landholder
might be absent or nonexistent. In Europe every square inch of land was part of
some nobleman's demise, and he or his family usually lived just up the road,
ready to enforce ancient feudal custom and law.
Firearms existed in this era, but were still newfangled weapons of slow
speed and dubious reliability. Throughout the 1500s firearms were fired with a
slow-burning match. Reloading was a long, laborious process that required two
minutes or more, complicated by the need to handle loose gunpowder while you
held a lighted match! The flintlock and trigger (invented in 1615 in France)
was used by hunters, sportsmen, and probably buccaneers by 1630. However, it
was not reliable enough for military use until 1670. In battle you might carry
a loaded pistol or three, but you relied upon your sword, not your guns. Note
that the musketeers of Dumas' Three Musketeers (based on events in the 1620s)
generally used their swords, despite being members of the most elite firearms
unit in the entire French army!
TRAVELLING THE CARIBBEAN
The Caribbean is a wide, warm, and pleasant sea. Idyllic tropical islands and
lush jungled shores contain in its steady currents. Stretching over three
thousand miles, the water is a broad highway between mainland ports, island
towns and hidden anchorages.
Continue Travels Party Status
Personal Status Ship's Log
Take Sun Sight Search
You can see information about your situation by selecting CHECK INFORMATION
while in town, or by pressing the joystick trigger, mouse button, or return
key (depending on your computer) while travelling around the Caribbean.
Continue Travels returns you to your previous activity.
Party Status shows what your group owns and the attitude of your men (happy,
pleased, unhappy, or angry). Beware of mutiny if the men remain angry too long.
Expect defections if you run out of food.
Personal Status shows your standing with each nation, and personal details
about your age, health, wealth and reputation. If your health is poor, you will
be forced to retire soon.
Ship's Log recaps your activities and travels, with notes about special
information you found. If you're confused about recent events, consult your
Maps is a file of all your map fragments to buried treasures and other
hidden locations. Initially you have none. You'll find that all maps have the
objective (buried treasure, hidden plantation, etc.) in the center.
Unfortunately, it's a secret map, so parts may be missing. Once you follow a
map to the spot where you think the object is to be found, you must spend time
SEARCHING for the object (see SEARCH option, below).
Cities provide all available information about the various towns and cities
in the Caribbean. Just point to a name and press the joystick trigger, mouse
button or return key (as appropriate) to see more information. If an important
event (such as a pirate attack or a new governor) radically changes information
about a town you'll find "no information available" until you either visit the
town or purchase new information from a traveller in a tavern.
Take a Sun Sight allows you to spend the day plotting your position with the
astrolabe. An explanation of this technique is found later on in this document.
Search means you'll spend a day searching for treasure or other hidden
things at your present location. If you're in the right spot, and have the
appropriate map fragment, you'll find what's there. Without a map fragment you
always find nothing. This option is not available if you are at sea or in a
Save Game allows you to save the game in progress. This option is available
only if you are in a town.
GETTING AROUND TOWN -
Visit the Governor Visit a Tavern
Trade with a Merchant Divide up the Plunder
Check Information Leave Town
Visit the Governor:
A visit to the governor's mansion may be useful. He can tell you with whom
his nation wars and allies. He may make special offers or awards. With luck and
sufficient prestige, you may meet his daughter. However, the governor does not
spend much time entertaining coarse sea dogs like you. Once you have visited
the governor of a town, don't expect to gain admittance again soon.
Visit a Tavern:
Taverns are a place where you can recruit additional men for your crew, hear
the news, purchase detailed information from travellers, and perhaps meet new
and interesting people. You can visit a tavern again and again, drowning your
sorrows in drink while time passes. however, you'll notice that new crewmen
aren't interested in signing up with an old sot.
Trade with a Merchant:
This option is explained in more detail below.
Divide up the Plunder:
As Captain, you get a fixed percentage of the party's wealth (the percentage
varies with difficulty level). The remainder is divided among the crew.
Furthermore, not only is the plunder divided, but also the ships, stores,
goods and cannon on them. The crew always disperses with their newfound wealth,
leaving you with just your flagship and its share of the provisions and
armament. After refitting your ship (which takes a few months) you'll have to
rebuild your band from scratch.
This shows information about you, your party, and the current situation
(see the preceding subsection for details).
Your party departs from the town, ready to either set sail or march away
overland, as you prefer.
TRADING WITH MERCHANTS -
The merchants in a town can buy and sell food, European goods, and the
current export crop (hides, tobacco, or sugar, depending on the era). They can
repair or buy ships and cannon, but almost never have any for sale.
To buy or sell any item, move the pointer up or down to select the line with
the proper item. Then move the pointer left to move items onto your ship (the
appropriate amount of gold is automatically given to the merchant). Move the
pointer right to sell items to th merchant (the appropriate amount of gold id
automatically moved from the merchant to you). When items are bought and sold,
the amount of space left in your hold is also adjusted automatically.
In addition, if you have more than one ship, you can sell the extras. If you
have any damaged ships, you can pay for their repair. I If you s£;íÉÿl too many
ships, you may start trading with negative space in your hold (more cargo than
room). In this case you must sell at least enough items to bring the space up
TRAVEL BY SEA -
When travelling your party moves over the land and seas of the Caribbean.
See your "Captain's Broadsheet" for a detailed description of the controls.
If you ship is on the coastline and your party of men is touching it, you
can set sail. Use the Set Sail control to select one of the eight possible
directions to set sail.
Once you have set sail,, controls change. You will remain on course if you
do not change the controls. In addition, you can turn right (starboard) or turn
left (port) as you desire, like a real ship.
The speed of a ship depends on how the wind blows against it. Travelling
directly into the wind is always slowest. Travelling with wind coming
diagonally from the rear is generally the fastest. Each type of ship has a
different "point of sailing" (the wind position at which the ship develops
maximum speed). What with shifting winds and periodic storms, sailing requires
more than a little judgement and skill.
If you have a fleet of many ships, the entire fleet travels at the speed of
the single largest ship.
To pause your travels (to deal with the minor details of life outside the
Spanish Main) press the Pause key. To resume, press it again.
The clouds travelling overhead indicate the direction of the wind, which
varies significantly. Clouds are storm fronts that provide strong, fast wind if
you are near, but may tray. I'd just order the course and we'd sail there.
If'n I was uncertain about our position, we'd take a sun sight, d'ye see, and
the sailing master'd reckon out Longitude nice as you please. But come time to
divide the plunder, and I found my officers were getting three pieces o' eight
to my one. No profit in that, thinks I, and go 'venturing next time with fewer
Well, it took me a bit o' times to learn better those chores that'd come so
easy before. But 'twas all worth it, the time I sailed from Port Royale to
Curacao, sou' by sou'east, and made a dead perfect landfall! But bi'god a long
tack to windward, to the Caribbees say, 'twas always a tiresome bit. After we'd
got Providence isle back from the Dons,...oh, Santa Catalina they call it
now?...anyway, that harbor made a nice place to divide the loot and sell off
those slow prizes. I'd just hold onto me handy sloop. A quick refit we'd be off
upwind to Barbados, see, with not one square-rigger to slow us down!
And I got right sneaky about getting what I wanted at ports. As any sailor
knows, any ol' anchorage'd do for repairs; but to move plundered sugar and
goods, my favorite device 'twas sailing to some big, wealth port, then sneak in
to talk trade with the merchants. Spaniards weren't much for this in the rich
towns, but narry an Englishman, Frenchman, or Dutchman lived who'd not do
business wi' honest Capt'n Sydney! Let 'em sense a profit, and they'd be at yer
rail and hand what the gov'ner thought!
And mate, I remember those times I'd visit the gov'ner hi'self. Got the true
lowdown on war and allies and the like, sometimes even a dinner, or a nice rank
if'n he liked me. Aye, and his ugly daughter, all religious like...she'd all be
fawnin' on me, happy to tell every little secret in her blessed little heart.
Well, I'd a more sense than marryin' the dear, let me tell ye!
Ah, well, then I got famous, and had ta' stop al this sneakin' bout. I was
too well known. If the gov'ner took a dislike ta' me face, one step into town
and guards'd be swarming. Price of success, mate, took half the pleasure out of
GEOGRAPHICAL FOOTNOTES -
The Caribbean is a warm ocean. The water surrounding the islands stays a
constant 77 degrees F. This steady sea temperature maintains a pleasant climate
on the surrounding land, although weather and elevation cause notable
variations. The most extended period of bad weather occurs in the summer and
fall, from June to November, with hurricanes not uncommon in the later part of
In all seasons, the prevailing winds are trade winds coming from the east.
Of course, local, temporary variations are not uncommon.
Channels & Passages:
The classic sailing pattern in the Caribbean was to enter through the
Caribbee Islands (Lesser Antilles), put into ports along the Spanish Main (the
coastline of Terra Firma), swing northward into the Yucatan Channel northward
to catch the North Atlantic prevailing westerlies back to Europe. Along this
route the Florida Channel was the point of maximum danger. Unwary captains
could be driven upon the Florida coast, or tack too far upwind and become lost
in the treacherous Bahama shoals.
BROADSIDES: THE TACTICS OF SEA BATTLE
ENCOUNTERS AT SEA -
Sail Ho! Your first sighting of an enemy ship is its sails and masts coming
over the horizon. Continuing your voyage is a nearly foolproof way to evade any
encounter. Investigating the sail means you automatically close on the other
Ship in View:
If you investigated the sail, you'll now see the whole ship. If you sail
away now, you may evade contact, but maybe not. Instead you can continue
investigating, which closes the range further, allowing you to determine the
See Her Colors:
After the other ship hoists its colors, you can try to sail away peacefully,
come alongside and talk over the latest news, or attack her. If the ship is a
pirate or pirate-hunter, it may recognize you and attack, regardless of your
Select Your Flagship:
if a battle occurs and you have more than one ship, you can select which
will be your flagship. The ship you select fights the battle. In the example
========================================== to the left, you have four ships in
"We have 44 men and 10 cannon ready for | your fleet: a merchantman, two
battle. Winds are light. Which ship will | sloops (one damaged), and a
you command?" | pinnace. Any one of these can be
Merchantman | your flagship. Consider your choice
Sloop | carefully, since the type of ship
Sloop (damgd) | you're sailing can be important in
Pinnace | battle.
The number of men and guns available for battle is a theoretical figure. If
your flagship is small, you'll find the number of men and guns limited by the
capacity of the ship. See "A GAZETTEER OF SHIPS" for information about each
type of ship. Furthermore, it takes four (4) or your crewmen to man each gun.
If your crew is too small, you may have fewer than the maximum number of cannon
The ship you select remains your flagship until the next battle.
BATTLE AT SEA -
When an encounter leads to battle, the scene changes to a ship-against-ship
duel. The color of a ship's hull matches the color of it's name below. See the
"Captain's Broadsheet" for specific control information.
Maneuvering in battle is similar to travel by sea. You can turn right, turn
left, or remain on course.
You can either Set Full Sails for maximum speed in battle, or Reduce to
Battle Sails for lower speeds with much less risk of rigging damage. You begin
battle with battle sails set.
Push the Fire Broadside key to shoot. Your gun captains automatically fire
the side of the ship nearest the enemy. Remember, your guns are mounted along
the left and right sides of the ship. Therefore, to aim your guns, you must
turn the ship so its side faces the enemy.
After a broadside is fired the gun crews reload as fast as possible.
Reloading speed depends on morale of your crew. A happy crew loads faster than
an unhappy one. Enemy reloading speed depends on the quality of their crew
(warships, pirate-hunters, and pirates have better quality crews than peaceful
merchantmen and cargo fluyts). Reloading is temporarily halted if you change
your sails - the gun crews are needed to aloft to handle the sails.
The effect of gunfire varies with the number of guns firing, and the size of
ship hit. For example, an broadside from a 20-gun ship into a galleon may have
little effect while the same into a pinnace might leave her a flaming wreck.
Press the Pause key to halt the action, and again to resume it.
Escape From Battle:
To escape from a naval battle, sail away from the enemy. Once the distance
between ships is large enough, the battle ends automatically. In addition, in a
long action, nightfall may end the fight.
If you escape from battle and the enemy ship is undamaged, you may lose a
ship to enemy pursuit. This is only a danger if you have two or more ships.
Grapple & Board:
If you sail your ship alongside or into the enemy, the ships automatically
grapple for a boarding battle. You must lead your men into the fight. See
FENCING & SWORDPLAY, for more information.
PRIZES & PLUNDER -
When you win a battle at sea, you can either take the enemy ship for your
own (send a prize crew), or you can just take its cargo, while burning and
sinking the ship itself. After the battle you'll get a report about the enemy
ship's armament and capacity, as well as the empty space remaining in the holds
of your fleet.
In general, taking a ship prize is useful, since you can sell the ship as
well as its cargo at a friendly port. This disadvantages are that a slow-
sailing prize will slow down your entire fleet (Spanish galleons and badly
damaged ships are especially slow sailers). Furthermore each prize requires
eight (8) men to handle it. This means eight fewer men available for battle on
For example, if you capture a 100-ton merchantman and you only have 80 tons
of space available in your fleet now, and the merchantman is full of cargo,
you won't have enough space for everything. On the other hand, it's unlikely
the merchantman will be completely full, and she may slow down your fleet
considerable. If speed is important to you, perhaps you should sink her.
Regardless of whether you take the ship prize or sink her, you must decide
what you wish to plunder and call your won, and what you wish to leave behind
(throw overboard). You'll automatically take all the gold from the ship.
Compared to its value, gold weighs virtually nothing, and therefore doesn't
affect your cargo capacity.
Transferring goods to your ship, or throwing things overboard, works just
like trading with merchants. To transfer items to your ship, move the pointer
up or down until it is on the correct line, then flick it to the left to move
things to your ship, or to the right to leave things behind.
AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULTS ON TOWNS -
If you sail into a town and select Attack Town, you begin an amphibious
assault on that town. In an assault, your flagship must sail up to the fort
guarding the town, touching land as close to the fort as possible. If you land
too far away, the men will refuse to march and the assault ends in failure. If
you land close enough, the men jump ashore and storm into the fort, leading to
a fight on he battlements (see FENCING & SWORDPLAY). The number of men
participating in the assault is limited to the number that can fit on your
As in normal sea battles, you can retreat (end the battle) by sailing away.
THE MEMOIRS OF CAPT'N SYDNEY -
Me best battle was gettin' revenge on Caracas for the beatin' their fort
gave me flagship. We went ashore a bit east and marched along the coast. Some
Spaniard, gov'ner or some such, rallied their troops and marched to stop us.
Well, we split into two groups. The quartermaster and all our best musket-men
took cover in the edge of a woods, overlookin' a marsh. Then me with a smaller
bunch danced around in a field just beyond the marsh, howlin' and carryin' on.
Thinkin' us weak and stupid, the Spaniards charged toward us. Their cavalry
hit the marsh first and blam! They was droppin' like acorns in a storm. In a
minuted we'd 'em decimated and panicking back to town. Then we danced and
yelled some more and their infantry came up. The Dons stopped in the marsh and
returned fire, brave like, but we had the cover, and when me mates came up, we
had more muskets too. They tried to close to hand-to-hand, but it 'twas slow
goin' in the marsh, and they was droppin' fast.
Well, we keep tradin' lead with those Spaniards 'till they tired of it and
started home. Withe a yell we poured out of the trees in hot pursuit. 'Twas a
long chase, but we overran 'em in the town just below their fort, cuttin 'em
up somethin' fierce. Stormin' the for was child's play then, as they'd hardly
a man left for the garrison!
I don' pretend to be a great general. Me and my mates don' know a refused
flank from a countermarch. But those Don's fall for ambush like bears to
honey. Worked like a charm every time. "Cept the time one of our parties lured
them out into the wilderness while the other sneaked to town and stormed the
fort whilest they were away! But that, matey, I did right rarely. I always
preferred to bury them papists outside the walls, rather than face them hand
to hand within their fort. After all, fort stormin' 'twas a right chancy
business; belike 'cause the men insisted that I take my place at the head of
the stormin' party!
HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES -
Pike & Shot Warfare:
Land warfare in the 16th and 17th Century saw the supremacy of infantry
restored after the long reign of the mounted knight. In Europe the Spanish
Tericio was the great military system of the 16th Century, as formidable in
its day as the Roman legions. The Tercio was a solid block of pikemen, 16 or
more ranks deep. It developed an awesome power charging forward, as well as
nearly invincible bristling defense against cavalry. Men with firearms
(arquebuses and the heavier muskets) formed loose groups at the corners,
giving supported fire and softening the enemy for the pikemen's punch. Bayonets
did not exist and a firearm took over two minutes to reload. Therefore, when
close action threatened, the musketeers retired behind the pikemen. Spanish
Tercios were built f well-drilled, professional soldiers, ready to instantly
perform the complex drill evolutions that maneuvered the cumbersome blocks of
pike and their supporting musketeers. This military system was widely copied
in Europe throughout the 16th and 17th Centuries. As firearms improved, the
proportion of musketeers gradually increased.
In the West Indies the slightly faster-firing flintlock musket was popular
among privateers and buccaneers decades before regular troops were issued the
weapon. The buccaneers had uncommon accuracy and skill with their weapons
because they relied on them for hunting ashore. Buccaneer firepower was among
the most accurate on earth at the time. Furthermore a risk-all, gain-all
attitude made buccaneers ferocious opponents in melee. No wonder many Spaniards
ran from the crack-shooting, cutlass-wielding berserkers of Tortuga and Port
The great weakness of the buccaneers was cavalry. Their firepower was
insufficient to stop an organized, disciplined cavalry attack. However,
Spanish cavalry in America was an undisciplined militia force of local
notables more interested in preserving their wealth than killing pirates. Even
in the defense of Panama, where the Spanish had 100 to 200 horsemen, the
mounted arm was timid and indecisive, with many desertions before and during
Drakes Assault on Cartagena, 1586:
One late winter afternoon, Francis Drake in his 30-gun galleon flagship
Elizabeth Bonaventure led a fleet of ships to Cartagena, fresh from the
plundering of Santo Domingo. His ships anchored in the roadstead, outside of
the range of the forts. That night, while the Spanish prepared for a naval
attack into the harbor, Drake disembarked over 1,000 men onto the harbor
large outer peninsula and marched over the sandpit connecting this to the city
proper. There his men cut through a fence of poisoned barbs, waded out to
sea to avoid the gunfire from Spanish ships anchored in the harbor, and
finally charged the 750 defending Spaniards. The hand-to-hand melee swirled
back into the city, where the Spanish finally broke and surrendered (or ran).
Victorious, Drake's men plundered it all. Eventually the Spanish governor
raised 110,000 ducats (a vast fortune) as ransom for Drake's departure. Drake
agreed, as he and his supporters preferred money to ownership of a plundered
The Defense of Panama, 1671:
When Don Juan Perez de Guzman, President of Panama, organized the city's
defense against Henry Morgan's buccaneers, his "army" consisted of two
companies of Spanish regular infantry (each about 100 men), plus militia
companies of Spaniards, mullattoes, free blacks, mestizos, and zamboos
(various Spanish-African-Indian racial mixtures) which may have totalled 800
or more. The pure-blooded Spanish militia was largely mounted, carrying pistols
and swords, theoretically capable of a battle-winning charge over the open
ground north of the city. The remainder served as infantry, many with no
weapon better than a crude pike (12' or longer pointed pole). None of these
had sufficient military drill to move in the dense, formidable blocks of
pikemen that won battles in Europe. Indeed, few had sufficient discipline to
withstand more than one or two volleys of musket fire. Curiously, in battle
the native Spaniards were the first to flee (many of them departed before
the battle started) while the free Blacks were among the most stalwart
defenders of the city.
LIFE IN THE WEST INDIES
YOUR CAREER ON THE HIGH SEAS
A MERRY CREW "ON ACCOUNT" -
Buccaneers and pirates are unique: they were a democratic group, governed
by voting, in an age of absolute kings and imperious aristocrats. Among
pirates, spoils are divided fairly and equally. The Captain gets extra shares,
but only because he takes larger risks. His crew is said to sail "on account"
when they are paid by shares of the loot, instead of by wages.
At the Start:
Each voyage means a new start for the Captain and crew. you will have one
ship, recently cleaned and outfitted, some initial funds from your financial
backers (about 10% of the last voyages' profit), and a core of loyal crewmen.
Recruiting Crewmen is done in taverns, and sometimes from captured ships.
If you sneak into town you cannot recruit in taverns (recruiting is a very
public activity). Recruiting from captured ships is easiest if the capture is
a pirate, or a ship with a very large crew.
Your crew is not paid wages. Instead, at the end of the voyage, the party's
profits are split. Each man will get his fair share. Until the division of
;plunder, the Quartermaster is keeping an 'account' for each man from which are
deducted expenses for his clothing, penalties for crimes and misdemeanors,
gambling losses, etc. The term 'sailing on account' refers to this complex
process of bookkeeping. This approach is also sometimes known as "No Purchase,
As Captain, be careful to distinguish between the entire party's wealth
(displayed in Party Status) and your personal wealth (displayed in Personal
Status). Certainly your crew knows the difference! During the course of a
voyage, the party's wealth is the combined profit of the voyage. It is the
property of all and strongly affects crew morale (see below). At the end of
the voyage, when you divide up the loot, each man gets his fair share. Only
then do you get your share, which appears in your Personal Status money.
The attitude of the crew varies from HAPPY (the best) to PLEASED, UNHAPPY,
and ANGRY (the worst). The more money the party has, the happier they are.
The crew attaches little importance to captured ships, goods, and other items.
Their eyes are on gold! In addition, the crew is impatient. As the months
pass, they want to disband and spend their loot, or (if you don't have much
loot) they start thinking about joining some other Captain. The only way to
keep them happy is to keep collecting more and more gold. It's difficult to
keep the crew pleased for more than a year, and almost impossible to keep them
pleased for two years or longer.
When the crew is unhappy or angry, they will start deserting whenever you
visit port. If they are angry too long, they mutiny. This means you must fight
to remain Captain.
Note that it is easier to keep a small crew happy than a large crew. This
is because with a small crew, each man's share is larger, making him a happier
fellow! Also note that converting plundered cargo to gold helps keep morale
high, especially if you sell at a town with high prices.
Dividing the Plunder:
When the cruise ends and you Divide up the Plunder, don't be surprised when
the men disperse to enjoy their wealth. Also remember that everything is split
fairly, including the ships, cannons and, cargo. As Captain, you retain only
your flagship. Therefore, it's advisable to sell everything except your
flagship before dividing the plunder.
A fixed percentage of the party's gains go to the officers. Each officer's
share is worth a bit over 2%. Therefore an apprentice Captain with two shares
gains 5%, a journeyman with four gains 10%, an adventurer with six gains 15%,
and a swashbuckler with eight gains 20%. Note that the size of the crew has no
effect on the Captain's share. This is to discourage Captains from leading
their crews into massacres! In addition, a flat 10% is returned to the patrons
and sponsors of the voyage as their profit. Generally, the Captain's
financiers will make this money available again as capital for the next
Shares to the crew are an equal distribution of everything remaining. The
size of each crewman's share affects the Captain's reputation. If the shares
are large, the Captain's prestige is enhanced. If the shares are small, the
Captain's reputation suffers, making it harder for him to recruit new crewmen.
GAINS & GOALS -
An Age of New Beginnings:
This is an era of privilege. A man of high rank or title lives under
different laws than the commoners. More importantly, this is an age of social
mobility. Old families with the wrong religious beliefs, incorrect political
views or insufficient wealth disappear from the national scene. Even the royal
houses change frequently. England's royal family was the House of Tudor to
1603, the House of Stuart to 1649, the Cromwellian Commonwealth to 1660, the
House of Stuart again to 1688, and then the House of Orange!
Onto this stage of turmoil and change, a single man of energy and boldness
can grasp power and prestige for generations to come. A common seafarer from
an undistinguished family, such as Francis Drake, could gain titles of
nobility, rank, honors, and immense prestige.
What to Seek? Planning for a happy retirement means seeking as much of
everything as possible. Personal wealth is always valuable. Land is also
useful - among the nobility, for example, land is considered the measure of a
man. As a rule, the more you accomplish at a rink, the more land you receive
when you are promoted to the next higher rank. In addition your reputation,
your family (including a wife, if any), and your health all contribute to your
When to Retire? Roving the seas is an enjoyable and exciting life, but a
wise man keeps an eye toward retirement. Eventually wounds from battle and
the taxing demands of sea voyages affect your health. If your health is poor,
helpful friends will advise retirement. Heed their advice - if you ignore them
life becomes more and more difficult, until one day you are unable to recruit
a new crew for another voyage. In general, your career is limited to five to
ten years of active endeavor. However, waiting until you're at death's door is
not a good way to start a happy retirement!
THE MEMOIRS OF CAPT'N SYDNEY -
Me voyages were always a fine balance between the men's temper and their
strength. It took time t' build up a fleet of three or four ships and a sturdy
band of a few hundreds. By the time all'd be assembled, they'd be right and
hungry for plunder. I had'a please 'em quick with some fine, large stoke. Like
plunderin' a city or three. If'n I didn't, they'd get so surly as t' be
unreliable in battle and desertin' at every port. Eventually, ye must either
accomplish some grand design, as I did at Campeche, or just put in, divide the
swag, and hope the next cruise be better.
Me biggest disappointment always was settling accounts after a cruise. I'll
grant it 'twas all done democratic and fair-like, but 'tis none the less
frustratin' to be already thinkin' pon the next expedition, and here me fine
Reputation was my most treasured possession. A few successful cruises gave
me much in others' estimations. Havin' the good word about helped raise new
crews, even if the last voyage 'twas a bit thin on the pickin's. Of course,
maintainin' a big reputation required ever bigger exploits. In the fact, that
a' why I retired. I just couldn't top me own adventures! Still, a large
reputation was a godsend in later life, let'in' me escape mortification more
HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES -
A Captain's Qualifications:
Among buccaneers the Captain was elected by the crew, not appointed by
government or owners (as is common on military or commercial vessels). He was
the man the crew agreed was best for the job. I If the crew decided the Captain
was inept, they would replace him with another of their number. Often the new
candidate dueled the old for the Captaincy.
In the crew's mind, the Captain's most important skill was leading them in
battle. For this they wanted bravery and ferocity more than they wanted
tactical genius. However, the best Captains, such as Henry Morgan, had both.
Outside of battle, when dealing with governors and other officials, the
Captain acted as 'front man' to represent the group. Although pirates
professed disdain for the privilege and status of the aristocracy, often their
Captains were former military men, merchants or aristocrats with a 'lordly
Finally a Captain needed a good reputation, with numerous past successes to
his credit. It was his name that brought new recruits aboard. This experience
was doubly valuable since most of the really good plans for profitable
expeditions were conceived by veteran Captain.
Henry Morgan was a Welsh adventurer. Although his origins are uncertain, he
probably came to the Antilles in 1655 as part of the invasion force that
captured Jamaica. He advanced both as a militia officer (on land) and a
privateering leader (at sea). In 1667 he was commissioned as Admiral of
Privateers by the English governor at Port Royale. In the next few years he
plundered numerous ships and cities, including Puerto Bello. Then, in 1671,
he took Panama, the richest city in the New World.
Patrons who benefited financially from his Panama expedition included Sir
Thomas Modyford (Governor of Jamaica), George Monck (the Duke of Albemarle,
Modyford's aging but influential patron at Court), and James Stewart (Lord
High Admiral, the Duke of York, and incidentally, the brother of Charles II,
King of England since his restoration in 1660). Despite the Treaty of Madrid
(in 1670) where England pledged to stop attacks on Spain, none of these
notables refused their share of the expedition's reward! Morgan was officially
"arrested" (probably to mollify the Spanish ambassador) but not confined. He
travelled in aristocratic circles, was toasted everywhere, and consulted on
West Indian policy by the King's advisors. In 1674 King Charles II knighted
him Sir Henry Morgan. He was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica, where
he lived a pleasant life amid his large plantations.
THE GOVERNOR -
Towns with a population greater than six hundred citizens have a governor.
His residence is the seat of government, and the center of news and intrigue
for the colony. A governor's attitude toward you begins with the "official"
attitude of his nation toward your activities. However, any particular favors
you have done for him are remembered, as well as any especially nasty things
you have done to his city (such as plundering it!)
You can curry favor with a governor by capturing pirates in waters near his
port and then returning that pirate to him. Conversely, a governor is dismayed
if you capture his nation's ships near his town, and is especially unhappy if
you've plundered his town.
When a governor is hostile to you, he will order any harbor forts to fire
upon your vessels as they sail in. In general, if the governor's nation is
hostile toward you the forts usually fire. If the nation is wary, the
governor's personal attitude and the size of your force are deciding factors.
The nation may not be wary, but the governor may still remember past
transgressions toward his area.
Therefore, consider your actions carefully, especially in the vicinity of
rich non-Spanish ports.
Ranks & Titles:
The governor of a town is responsible for protecting and guarding it from
attack. But all too often, he has no money, no naval forces, and pitifully few
land troops. So, he commissions loyal subjects to aid him, giving them
military ranks and authority. Naturally, a governor favors men who have proved
their bravery and worth by fighting then enemy, while ignoring those who have
done nothing for his cause.
The military ranks a governor bestows are, from lowest to highest:
ENSIGN of Privateers, a junior officer or aide
CAPTAIN of Privateers, commanding a ship
MAJOR of a Colonial Militia, commanding a company
COLONEL of a Colonial Militia, commanding a regiment
ADMIRAL of Privateers, commanding a fleet
After military ranks, a governor might use his influence at Court to
promote patents of nobility for valued associates. Naturally, you must
perform large and significant services to gain such bounty. From lowest to
highest, these title are:
BARON, a minor title, but a knighthood none the less
COUNT, a title of some prestige and power
MARQUIS, a title of significant prestige and power
DUKE, a title of great prestige and power
EUROPEAN POLITICS -
Whenever you attack a nation's ships or towns, that nation becomes ill-
disposed toward you. A few attacks may make it wary, while many attacks make
it hostile. Naturally, don't expect advancement from a governor of a wary or
However, if your target is at war, the target's wartime opponent will
applaud your actions and those governors may reward you. For example, if
England and Spain are at war, attacks on the Spanish will make the Spanish
wary or hostile, but make the English very happy.
If nations are allied, attacks on a nation are remembered and disliked by
its ally. For example, England is allied with Holland but at war with Spain.
If you attack English towns or ships the Spanish governor will be delighted
and the English angry. In addition, England's ally Holland will also be angry.
This is because the Dutch are concerned about attacks on their ally. However,
if you attack Spanish towns and ships, the English governor will be delighted,
but the Dutch won't care: The Dutch are still at peace with Spain, and thus
unwilling to reward military activities against her.
Although declarations of war, peace and alliance are public knowledge, ends
of alliances are not. Of course, when former allies declare war, it's a safe
assumption that the alliance is over! Otherwise, to learn the "inside news"
about a nation's politics, visit one of its governors. Even if you sneak into
town, the governor's mansion remains the best source of news.
PIRATE AMNESTY -
When a nation offers a pirate amnesty, it is willing to forget its former
hostility toward pirates. Each governor of that nation is empowered to offer
former pirates a pardon for their activities, although sometimes the pardon can
be expensive. When seeking an amnesty, be careful about sailing into harbor.
Although the nation may offer an amnesty, a local governor may still distrust
you enough to open fire. This is especially likely if your force is large, or you
have made attacks in the vicinity. If you sneak into town you usually have a
better chance of getting to the governor and convincing him to provide the
amnesty his nation promises.
THE TAVERN -
The first time you visit a tavern openly your reputation will precede you.
Men often approach you, hoping to join your crew. Subsequent visits while in
port will not yield additional recruits. Men are attracted to heroes, not
You can purchase information from travellers who have recently visited
another town. They will know the state of the town's population, economy, and
defenses. If you are looking for somebody believed to be at that town, they
usually remember if he's been seen there recently.
Finally, the tavern is a center for public news of all sorts, and a home for
old pirates and other rumormongers.
LOCAL MERCHANTS -
The lifeblood of any colonial town is trade. The strength of the local
merchant community is proportional to the town's economic strength and
population. A strong merchant community has many goods for sale, and plenty
of money to buy yours. It also has higher prices. Small, poor towns have the
lowest prices, but their merchants are poor also, with tiny warehouses.
Economic experts find the 16th and 17th Century Caribbean a most peculiar
place, especially on the Spanish Main. Complex and restrictive trade laws,
combined with peculiar and unnatural population patterns, produce unexpected
situations. Most importantly, individual towns often have special markets and
needs, causing especially high or low prices for certain items. All these
effects are transitory, but while some patterns only last days or weeks, others
can last for years.
Merchants are usually happy to trade with privateers, pirates and smugglers.
After all, a profit is a profit! Merchants in Spanish towns are an exception.
SPANISH TRADE RESTRICTIONS -
Towns and cities on the Spanish Main have four levels of economic vitality.
This affects the affairs of their merchants. In Spanish towns it is illegal to
trade with anyone other than Spanish merchants who sailed from Seville and are
properly accredited by the Spanish government. However, local governors and
merchants often ignore this tiresome legality, especially if the economy is
suffering. As a result, traders in towns may ignore what the national
government says and instead develop their own opinions, based on your deeds in
Struggling towns are in economic difficulties. They will trade with almost
anyone, regardless of laws, excepting only pirates whose reputation in that
area is extremely evil. Of course, prices and quantities of goods are usually
Surviving towns have either small or depressed economies. The Spanish
usually trade with foreigners whose local reputation is fairly decent. Prices
and quantities of goods are modest.
Prosperous towns have large, strong economies. Prosperous Spanish towns
only trade with Captains of high repute. Prices are fairly high and goods are
available in reasonable quantities.
Wealthy towns are at the peak of the economic spectrum. These Spanish towns
almost always follow the letter of the lay. Prices are high and goods are
THE RISE & FALL OF COLONIES -
All other things being equal, colonies slowly prosper and grow, gaining
economic strength, which attracts population, who in turn hoard wealth, which
obliges the government to install troops and forts to protect this wealth.
Traders and smugglers help this economic growth with their buying, selling and
carriage of goods. But pirates, buccaneers and privateers taking ships from
waters near the colony will hurt its economic growth.
Indian attacks will deplete the soldiers guarding the town, but leave the
population and economy unaffected.
Pirate raids on a town take whatever gold the pirates can find. The raid
also damages the economy.
Malaria and other diseases reduce both the troop garrison and the number of
citizens. This tends to slow down or even stop economic growth.
Gold mines cause a one-time upswing in the economy and add large quantities
of disposable gold. The gold mine is usually just a short-lived alluvial
wash in a nearby stream or river, but it invariably generates a "gold rush"
mentality boom town.
THE MEMOIRS OF CAPT'N SYDNEY
God's truth, I started honestly enough, carryin' good European manufacture
to the Indies. But the big, rich towns with nice prices were all Spanish, and
those thieven' Dons just wouldn't let me into market. I found a few smaller
towns that'd do business, privately, but me profits suffered. But at the next
city some papist blueblood, blind 'im, recognized me for English and I rotted
for six months in a foul dungeon, tortured by their damnable Inquisition, 'til
me crew rescued me. Betwixt times, the filthy Dons had taken my ship and cargo,
every last ounce of it. So I had to make my own justice. We took a handy
pinnace a' lyin' in the harbor, mounted a few guns, and taught those Spaniards
I've a Dutch friend who maintain the best route to fortune is friendly
trade. He buys low, transports it, and sells high. He keeps his crew low and
pays 'em off regularly, bankin' his profits. 'E even claims the towns benefit
from his trade 'n' such. Well, I tell ye, I'd not sail the Main with twenty men
and four cannon, no siree! But then, I trust to steel 'n' gunpowder, not to
Anyway, I've never forgotten that Spanish dungeon, and made 'em pay dearly
for it. I'd keep abreast of the news, matey. A couple Indian attacks or plagues
and they'd be ripe for the pluckin'. Attackin' 'em after a pirate raid wasn't
so smart. They'd be cleaned out, but the garrison'd be reinforced and smartin'
The King, God bless 'em, is right obligen' in havin' convenient wars. Me
Letters of Marque are all proper and legal, but I've a 'known fellows who'd get
some clerk for forge up any ol' thing. One dunderhead had a Letter a' Marque
alright - a Letter t' kill sheep! Didn't stop him none from goin' after the
Most of me victories left me wi' more plunder in food, tobacco, sugar and
goods than it did shin' gold. I 'member one cruise where I chanced upon
Trinidad, lookin' to sell a bit a' loot. Had a right nice fleet, then. We
landed up the coast and marched into town. Some insolent Spaniard said
something that got me back up. Well, quick as a wink we had the garrison locked
in its own dungeon and the citizens cowering behind their doors. We were
enjoying ourselves in the mansion of the gov'nor, who'd disappeared right
sudden. Then a delegation of the leading citizens visited us. They begged us to
rein-in our men. I confess some were gettin' a' tad enthused in their
We thought on it. One of the leading merchants was part English, so we said
that if they flew the Cross of Saint George, pledged themselves to the English
Crown, and appointed that part-English merchant their governor, we'd settle
down and respect their property, legal as you please.
Shortly after that I took a wound in a battle off Margarita, curse it, and
was laid up for a while. I never did find out how long Trinidad remained
"English". Pe'haps not so long. But I ne'er heard of me friends having trouble
there again. I'd like to emphasize, though, that we had a powerful lot of men,
and the populace 'twas right small. With us fewer, or them more, it'd a' never
HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES -
No Peace Beyond the Line:
In 1493 and 1494 the only two European powers exploring the world (Spain and
Portugal) agreed to a "fair" division of responsibility along a north-south
line 270 leagues west of the cape Verde Islands. In the Treaty of Tordesillas,
Portugal gained authority over the eastern Atlantic, the African coast, and
what became the African route to India. Spain gained authority of the western
Atlantic and the entire New World except the tip of the Brazilian coast.
Supported by a Papall Bull, Spain claimed this gave her sole possession and
control over the Americas. Unfortunately for Spain, the English, Dutch and
French governments never recognized the legality of this line.
The result was that English, French and Dutch traders and colonists
constantly "invaded" Spanish regions where their presence was illegal by
Spanish law. However, Spain never installed sufficient military strength in the
region to consistently enforce her laws. So, even when European nations were at
peace, the constant smuggling and colonization could cause small battles at any
time. Worse, each time European nations went to war, an orgy of privateering
and piracy exploded across the West Indies.
In the 16th and 17th Centuries royal governments were desperately short on
funds (useful taxation techniques, such as universal income tax, had not been
invented). Building warships, much less maintaining and crewing them, was so
expensive that even powerful battleships doubled as cargo carriers in
peacetime. What few did exist were needed in home waters. Colonial governors
got little or no military forces. Most colonies relied on a local militia
for their defense. Not until the 1680s did a nation base a regular squadron of
warships in the Caribbean for use year-round.
Because nations had little or no fleet, in wartime the crown 'commissioned'
private ships to become its navy. These "freelance" warriors were not paid
wages. Instead, they kept a large percentage of whatever they captured. The
official authorization for this was the "Letter of Marque". Ships operating
with a Letter of Marque were "privateers". The English fleet that defeated the
Spanish invasion Armada (in 1588) was almost completely composed of privateers.
In an age of poverty and limited wealth, privateering was one of the few
ways to make a quick fortune. Those men who sailed with Francis Drake on his
1572-73 privateering voyage to Nombre de Dios (where he captured the Silver
Train) returned rich for life. A crewman's share from the capture of just one
merchantman was often more than a sailor's yearly wage in peacetime. A
privateer Captain known for skill and success had little trouble recruiting.
Beyond the benefits to the crew, privateering was big business. Wealthy
merchants and noblemen put up the money for a voyage, and earned a percentage
of the "take" in return. The gains were also split with the crown (the "price"
of a Letter of Marque). The sale of prizes and captured goods was a godsend
to merchants, who resold it for a profit. This created a prosperous colonial
economy. In the 1660s and 1670s the prime industry of Jamaica was neither
sugar nor tobacco, but piracy!
These men were a special breed who appeared in the West Indies during the
1630s and 1640s, and remained a feature there throughout the century. Most
buccaneers were fugitives from English and French colonial ventures. Many
colonists came to the Americas expecting to find a paradise full of easy
wealth. Instead they were indentured servants on harsh tobacco and sugar
plantations. Some were violent criminals sentenced to "transportation to the
colonies". Whatever their origin, they left the tiny colonies to live free and
easy among the islands.
Buccaneers learned two vital skills to survive outside of an organized
colony. The first was seaman ship. They were experts at building small canoes
or pinnaces, and quite skilled at sailing them from island to island. The
second was marksmanship. Their livelihood was hinting wild animals and cattle.
In fact, the name "buccaneer" is derived from their method of curing meat over
an open fire.
In didn't take long before buccaneers combined their skills of seamanship
and marksmanship, taking to the seas in search of treasure and wealth. The
Spanish colonies, militarily weak and economically failing, were easy targets
for buccaneer attacks. The old tradition of "No Peach Beyond The Line" lent
quasi-legality to their activities, while their use of non-spanish ports as
trading bases helped the new colonies grow. It wasn't difficult for a British,
French or Dutch governor to condone buccaneering on the principle that the
best defense against Spanish aggression was a good offense, especially an
offense by troops who provided their own pay, and profit to the colony as well!
The buccaneers had a free-wheeling, democratic spirit. They were hard-
living, violent men, ideally suited to the hard and violent life on a new
The End of Piracy:
By the 1690s and 1700s nations offered privateering commissions less and
less often. National navies were larger now. The financial advantages of
peaceful trade were recognized as more valuable than the occasional profits
from a privateer's plunder.
Buccaneers and old privateers, with legal and quasi-legal avenues closed,
continued anyway. they turned truly pirate and roamed the seven seas, looking
for rich ships with weak defenses. But it was increasingly difficult to find
men willing to finance new ventures, while naval warships gradually chased
down and destroyed the existing pirates. By the 1700s pirates were disappearing
from the Caribbean, by the 1710s the North American and West African coasts
were too hot for them, and by the 1720s even distant Madagascar and the Indian
Ocean were closing. An age of adventure on the high seas was over.
A GAZETTEER OF SHIPS CIRCA 1690
Among the myriad types, sizes and rigs of ships sailing the Caribbean, nine
basic approaches to shipbuilding can be discerned. Although each ship was
individually designed and build, shipwrights learned by copying one another,
producing ships of remarkable similarity. These general types are summarized
below. However, expect to meet the exception more often than the rule!
Burden, in tons, refers to available cargo space, after deduction for food,
water, crewmen, and other common materials and stores. This should not be
confused with tonnage that describes the entire weight-carrying capacity of the
ship when completely unloaded.
Speeds are given in leagues (about 2.5 miles) travelled during a watch
(about four hours). The first value is best speed in light wind, the second is
best speed in strong wind.
Best Point of Sailing refers to the wind direction in which the ship makes
its best speed. Each type of ship has a different point of sailing.
Broad Beam Reach | Close-Hauled Beam Reach
\ | /
\ | /
Broad Reach \ | / Close-Hauled
\ \ | / /
\ \ | / /
\ \ | / /
Running Broad \ \ | / / Close-Hauled
Reach \ \ | / / into the Eye
\ \ \ | / / /
\ \ \ | / / /
\ \ \ | / / /
Running \ \ \ | / / / Into the eye
Before the Wind \ \|/ / of the Wind
+------------------------- + -------------------------+
/ /|\ \
/ / / | \ \ \
/ / / | \ \ \
/ / / | \ \ \
/ / / | \ \ \
Running Broad / / | \ \ Close-Hauled
Reach / / | \ \ into the Eye
/ / | \ \
/ / | \ \
/ / | \ \
Broad Reach / | \ Close-Hauled
/ | \
/ | \
Broad Beam | Close-Hauled
Reach | Beam Reach
* SPANISH GALLEON *
7-15 Leagues..........Best Speed
Broad Reach...........Best Point of Sailing
36 Guns...............Maximum Number of Heavy Cannon
20-24 Guns............Typical Number of Heavy Cannon
288 Men...............Maximum Personnel
275 Men...............Typical Crew and Passengers
160 Tons..............Cargo Space
Galleons are the largest sailing vessels on the Spanish Main. Originally they
were created because one large ship was cheaper to build than two smaller ones.
However, large ships were much less maneuverable, which increased the chance of
shipwreck, not to mention hindering them in battle. Galleons are slow to turn,
and are especially poor sailers close-hauled. Tacking into the wind is very
difficult with this type of ship. Still, the enormous carrying capacity and
powerful armament makes the galleon a formidable opponent in battle.
* SPANISH WAR GALLEON *
7-15 Leagues..........Best Speed
Broad Reach or........Best Point of Sailing
32 Guns...............Maximum Number of Heavy Cannon
28-32 Guns............Typical Number of Heavy Cannon
256 Men...............Maximum Personnel
250 Men...............Typical Crew and Passengers
140 Tons..............Cargo Space
War Galleons are similar to mercantile types. They have less cargo capacity,
but more guns and crewmen. The most important difference is that war galleons
are crewed by soldiers and commanded by noble officers, making them brave and
formidable opponents in battle. Due to their better crew, war galleons are
slightly faster than merchant Galleons on a running broad reach, but otherwise
just as ponderous and unmaneuverable as their more peaceful cousins.
Only the most powerful warships can expect to engage a war galleon and
succeed. The preferred Spanish tactic with these ships was to run alongside the
opponent, fire one broadside at point-blank range, then board for hand-to-hand
* FAST GALLEON *
9-12 Leagues..........Best Speed
Broad Reach or........Best Point of Sailing
28 Guns...............Maximum Number of Heavy Cannon
24 Guns...............Typical Number of Heavy Cannon
224 Men...............Maximum Personnel
215 Men...............Typical Crew and Passengers
120 Tons..............Cargo Space
The northern European powers refined the basic Galleon Design, revising the
sail plan for more flexibility, then reducing the upperworks and hull shape for
better seakeeping. The resulting ship was smaller than a Spanish galleon, but
faster in light winds and considerable more maneuverable. However, it suffers
the universal disadvantage of all galleons - poor speed when close-hauled.
Still, its superior maneuverability and seakeeping showed when the English fast
galleons and smaller craft defeated a Spanish fleet of conventional galleons
* FRIGATE *
9-12 Leagues..........Best Speed
Broad Reach or........Best Point of Sailing
28 Guns...............Maximum Number of Heavy Cannon
26-28 Guns............Typical Number of Heavy Cannon
224 Men...............Maximum Personnel
190 Men...............Typical Crew
120 Tons..............Cargo Space
Square-rigged frigates are fast sailers, fairly handy to maneuver, and faster
than most square-rigged ships when close-hauled. A frigate is extraordinary
useful for patrols and independent cruises. Almost all frigates are built for
the Crown as naval warships. With their well-drilled and professional crews,
frigates are dangerous opponents at any time. Most pirates and buccaneers
disappear over the horizon whenever a frigate appears.
* MERCHANTMAN *
9-12 Leagues..........Best Speed
Broad Reach...........Best Point of Sailing
24 Guns...............Maximum Number of Heavy Cannon
6-12 Guns.............Typical Number of Heavy Cannon
198 Men...............Maximum Personnel
20-45 Men.............Typical Crew and Passengers
100 Tons..............Cargo Space
Square-rigged merchantmen are a trader's dream. They have large cargo capacity,
space for numerous guns for use in dangerous waters, and plenty of room for
crew and passengers. Furthermore, where appropriate they can be sailed with a
smallish crew to save money.
Most merchantmen are peaceful traders, disinclined to fight. They tend to
have large cargos and sometimes a bit of wealth. Privateers and pirates always
look forward to capturing a "juicy" merchantman. However, some merchantmen
have been converted to pirate ships, with stronger armament and a ferocious
crew of cutthroats. These ships are extremely dangerous.
* CARGO FLUYT *
9-12 Leagues..........Best Speed
Running Reach.........Best Point of Sailing
20 Guns...............Maximum Number of Heavy Cannon
4-12 Guns.............Typical Number of Heavy Cannon
160 Men...............Maximum Personnel
12-24 Men.............Typical Crew and Passengers
80 Tons...............Cargo Space
Fluyts were invented by the Dutch around 1600, then widely copied throughout
northern Europe. Essentially a smaller but much more economical merchantman,
it can be sailed with a tiny crew (12 to 15 men is not uncommon). A fluyt
has large cargo spaces, but a draft so shallow it can enter rivers, coves and
small harbors unsuitable to large craft. It's sailing qualities are equivalent
to a merchantman, although the best point of sailing is slightly different.
The smallest of the square-rigged ships, fluyts make poor warships. Almost
always they are manned by peaceful traders who often surrender after a
broadside or two. They are unpopular as pirate ships.
* BARQUE *
9-12 Leagues..........Best Speed
Broad Beam Reach......Best Point of Sailing
16 Guns...............Maximum Number of Heavy Cannon
4-6 Guns..............Typical Number of Heavy Cannon
128 Men...............Maximum Personnel
12-36 Men.............Typical Crew and Passengers
60 Tons...............Cargo Space
The largest for-and-aft rigged ships, barques are a traditional design similar
to many Mediterranean merchant and war craft. Many barques are built in the
Caribbean, rather than in Europe. Barques are good sailers for quiet seas, but
all too easily come to grief in a rough ocean crossing. This means that few
Barques return from the Caribbean to Europe, as the North Atlantic west-to-east
route is often stormy.
Barques are the slowest close-hauled sailers among fore-and-aft rigs, and
the least maneuverable. However, the advantages of the rig are so great that
Barques still surpass all square-rigged ships in both departments. Furthermore,
barques carry oars, allowing them to row straight into the eye of the wind. Due
to its large size and good handling, a pirate barque can be a formidable
* SLOOP *
9-10 Leagues..........Best Speed
Broad Reach or........Best Point of Sailing
Broad Beam Reach
12 Guns...............Maximum Number of Heavy Cannon
4-6 Guns..............Typical Number of Heavy Cannon
96 Men................Maximum Personnel
8-12 Men..............Typical Crew and Passengers
40 Tons...............Cargo Space
Another Dutch design that gradually appeared during the 1630s and 1640s, the
sloop (or jact, or schooner) became very popular in the Caribbean. It is
extremely fast and exceptionally maneuverable - better than almost any other
ship in light winds. Close-Hauled it sails very fast, and under oars it can
move directly into the wind. Most importantly, sloops have a shallow draft,
allowing them to sail over shoals with no risk. The main weakness of a sloop
is that in strong winds it is considerable slower than a large square-rigged
ship. Then›only advantage is its maneuverability and its superior speed
close-hauled or into the wind.
Despite its modest size and cargo capacity, a sloop's maneuverability is so
great that many buccaneers prefer it to larger, more powerful craft. Indeed, in
recent years the English Royal Navy has built a number of sloops for its own
use as pirate-catchers.
* PINNACE *
9-10 Leagues..........Best Speed
Broad Beam Reach......Best Point of Sailing
or a Beam Reach
8 Guns................Maximum Number of Heavy Cannon
2-4 Guns..............Typical Number of Heavy Cannon
64 Men................Maximum Personnel
8-12 Men..............Typical Crew and Passengers
20 Tons...............Cargo Space
Until the advent of the sloop, pinnaces were the primary small craft of the
Caribbean. Like a sloop, a pinnace is very fast, very maneuverable, and with a
draft that permits sailing in shoal waters. Sailing upwind (close-hauled) it is
even faster than a sloop, and much faster when rowing into the wind.
However, a pinnace is also much smaller than a sloop, with minuscule
capacity for cargo and guns. Still, many a pirate raid was conducted in tiny
pinnaces crammed with fighting men. Drake himself abandoned his merchantmen in
favor of pinnaces when raiding on the Spanish Main.
THE GOLDEN ANTILLES
JOHN HAWKINS AND THE BATTLE OF SAN JUAN DE ULUA (1569) -
One Slow Galleon: Jesus of Lubeck
One Merchantman: Minion
Four Pinnaces: William and John, Swallow, Angel, Judith
Political Situation: Spain is at war with France and England.
You have a formidable squadron, but the flagship is a cumbersome,
unmaneuverable galleon of the Spanish type. As you approach the Spanish Main,
your big decision must be: peaceful trade, or warlike raids?
Peaceful trade means you can use the smaller Spanish ports to reprovision
and perhaps even recruit additional crew. However, it also means that the rich
larger ports are closed to you. Unfortunately, the profits from peaceful trade
are modest, especially so given your large crew and the slowness of your
Warlike raids offer a better prospect for immediate gain, but your fleet
isn't strong enough to attack the truly great cities such as Santiago, Santo
Domingo, or Panama. For repairs you can use the privateer anchorages at the tip
of Florida and in the Bahamas. These places have few provisions, but captured
Spanish ships could provide those. Your biggest problem will be selling
captured goods and replacing crewmen lost in battle.
Inheritor at age 21 of an English shipping firm, John Hawkins voyaged twice
to the West Indies (in 1562 and 1564), selling European goods and African
slaves to smaller Spanish towns. In 1567 he organized his third and largest
expedition (this one) around the galleon Jesus of Lubeck.
On the Main, Hawkins found the Spanish increasingly unwilling to trade with
him. The Spanish home government was aware of Hawkins' voyage, and was putting
pressure on the colonials to obey the letter of the law. Hawkins resorted to
forcing open the marketplace at gunpoint in a few ports, and was chased out
of others by gunfire from forts.
Disappointed by the Main, Hawkins set sail for Havana, but a storm blew his
ships far into the Gulf of Campeche. The only harbor where he could repair his
ships was San Juan de Ulua, the island anchorage for Vera Cruz. Unfortunately
for Hawkins, the day after he arrived the Spanish treasure fleet appeared,
armed to the teeth with war galleons and troops. After a few days of
organizing, the Spanish attacked Hawkins in harbor, destroying most of his
ships and scattering the rest. These sad remnants, without food or water,
struggled home to England. Hawkins got home on the Minion with only fifteen
men left in his crew.
After this voyage, Hawkins became a staunch enemy of Spain, serving
England as treasure and controller of the Navy, an admiral on the Victory
against the Spanish Armada, leader of raids against Spanish South America,
and finally as Member of Parliament. He died in 1595 at age 63.
FRANCIS DRAKE AND THE SILVER TRAIN AMBUSH (1573) -
One Merchantman: Pasha
One Pinnace: Swan
Political Situation: Spain is at war with England.
Only a man with foolhardy bravery would dare attack the Spanish Main at the
peak of its might and power with a paltry 73 men on board two small ships.
Making any profit from this venture will be most difficult. A cautious man
would adopt a trading strategy, calling at smaller Spanish ports and building
both his wealth and his crew before beginning to raid and plunder. Only someone
as bold as Drake himself would immediately begin raiding and plundering,
trusting to luck and good fortune.
This is an extremely difficult expedition for a fighter. You must rely on
your superb and charismatic leadership to overwhelm enemies in hand-to-hand
combat before they wipe out your tiny forces. Exploit and maintain the high
morale of your small band. Always seek to meet the enemy leaders sword to
sword and defeat them quickly. Needless to say, skill in fencing is advised.
Drake arrived on the Main in June, 1572 with two small ships. Within five
days he raided Nombre de Dios, carrying off a huge pile of silver from the
governor's house before a musket ball wound overcame him. Next he captured
a ship off Cartagena (the city itself was too strong to attack). By September
he was back in the Gulf of Darien, taking Spanish ships to replenish his
provisions and trying to ambush the Silver Train between Panama and Nombre
de Dios. But that the winter he failed: the Spanish were alert to his threat.
Drake returned to his distant and secret base at the Isle of the Pines (at
the southwest end of Cuba) and reorganized. He gathered up reinforcements from
friendly French privateers and Cimaroon rebels. (Cimaroons were African slaves
who escaped the Spanish). In March 1573 he returned to Darien and finally
ambushed the Silver Train at Nombre de Dios, taking a fortune in gold. He had
to leave behind another fortune in silver because it was too heavy to carry!
Drake sailed swiftly for England and arrived at Plymouth on Sunday, August 9,
1573. A mere thirty Englishmen returned with him, but each survivor was rich
In 1577-80 Drake raided the Pacific coast of Spain's American empire, then
returned via Asia, circumnavigating the globe. With Hawkins he was an admiral
of the fleet that defeated the Spanish Armada (1588), but died of disease in
1596 (at age 56) after an attack on San Juan, where some Spanish treasure
galleons had sought shelter.
PIET HEYN AND THE TREASURE FLEET (1628) -
Four Fast Galleons: Vergulde Valk, Hollandia, Dolfijn, Haarlem
Two Sloops: Tijger, Postpaard
Political Situation: Holland is at war with Spain and allied with
England. France and England are also at war with Spain.
You command a powerful if cumbersome squadron, vanguard of the great Dutch
privateering fleet. The Spanish Treasure Fleet is an excellent goal. However,
it's late in the season. You must start hunting immediately off Havana or in
the Florida Channel. You'll undoubtedly find a variety of smaller ships, but
if you're lucky and persistent, you may find the treasure galleons. If you
miss the treasure fleet, don't be shy about raiding a Spanish port or two.
Your forces are not especially maneuverable, buy they are quite powerful.
This is a situation where a good plan, patient execution, and more than a
little luck are the keys to success.
Piet Heyn was already a famous Captian when he sailed under Admiral
Willekens and led the 1624 attack that captured the Spanish colony of Sao
Salvador (Bahia) on the Brazilian coast. Although the conquest only lasted
one year, the Dutch gained invaluable expertise in producing fine sugar from
sugar cane, knowledge they spread around the Caribbean in the succeeding
decade. By 1626 Sao Salvador was producing for Spain again, so Heyn raided it
In 1628 Heyn sailed for the West Indies with a powerful warfleet of nine
large warships and five jachts (sloops). He cruised along the Main, then swung
up to th north coast of Cuba. Off Havana he finally sighted the Spanish
treasure fleet of forty to fifty sail. He quickly captured nine small stragglers
while the rest escaped in all directions, two running aground in the process.
Four royal treasure galleons fled in Matanzas Bay on the Cuban coast. Heyn
pursued them ran his ships onto the shoals alongside the Spanish, traded
broadsides and boarded. The battered and demoralized Spanish either surrendered
or fled ashore, leaving 46 tons of silver in Dutch hands. This loss ruined the
Spanish economy and gave the Dutch government much-needed funds at a critical
point in the Thirty Years War.
There was great rejoicing in Amsterdam when a fast jacht sailed into that
port carrying the news of Heyn's fabulous victory.
L'OLLONAIS AND THE SACK OF MARACAIBO (1666) -
Political Situation: France is at war with England and Spain, and
allied to Holland. In addition, England and Holland are at war.
Your force is strong in men but weak in naval power. Therefore, like
L'Ollonais, your best prospects are in attacks on ports rather than captures
at sea. All but the strongest Spanish cities are within your grasp. Beware
the fragile morale of your men. These Tortuga buccaneers are impatient for
riches. They will not tolerate long, fruitless cruises. But still, a target
must be selected with car. One disappointment an mutiny is not far off.
This expedition is challenging but not extraordinarily difficult. However,
you must exercise good judgement at the start, and then execute the plan
quickly and confidently.
Arriving in the Indies as an indentured servant to the planter in French
Hispaniola, Jean-David Nau came fro the Les Sables d'Ollone in Brittany. When
his indenture was up in 1660 he immediately went to Tortuga; within a few
years he was commanding his own buccaneer voyages. Nicknamed L'Ollonais
("the man from d'Ollone"), he was one of the most ferocious and inhuman pirates
who ever lived.
In 1666 the terror and prestige of his name was enough to collect a fleet of
small boats, crowded with men, bound for Maracaibo. he surprised the forts and
took the city by storm. Despite a bloody plundering that lasted a fortnight,
the town yielded only modest amounts of gold and silver. His next stop was
Gibraltar. The Spanish there mustered a powerful militia, but after a difficult
fight in marshy ground, L'Ollonais' buccaneers prevailed again. The town was
thoroughly sacked, inhabitants tortured and killed, and ruins left in the
Frenchman's wake. Six months after departing, L'Ollonais arrived at Tortuga
with enough plunder to return to France a wealthy man. But he had expected
riches beyond imagination.
So L'Ollonais mounted a new expedition to the coast of Nicaragua and
Honduras. Despite escalating barbarity and cruelty, he found so little that
his companion ships sailed away,leaving his tiny band forlorn and hungry.
L'Ollonais and his men went inland, raiding Indian villages for food. This
final bit of nastiness was his undoing. Jean-David Nau's muttering and mutinous
crew deserted him when vengeful Indians ambushed the party. Grievously wounded
by poison arrows, he was clubbed to death.
HENRY MORGAN, THE KING'S PIRATE (1671) -
One Frigate: Satisfaction
Two Merchantmen: Lilly, Dolphin
One Barque: Mayflower
Two Sloops: Fortune, William
One Pinnace: Prosperous
Political Situation: England and France are both at war with Spain.
You have a formidable force for either land or sea fighting. You could seek
additional recruits and food, or you can immediately venture against almost any
place in the Indies with good prospects of success. Your greatest immediate
difficulties are procuring enough food to keep your men fed, and enough plunder
to keep up morale. This is an expedition that appears easy initially, but can
become rather challenging.
Henry Morgan was a successful privateer and buccaneer leader. He had sacked
Puerto Principe, plundered Gran Granada on the far side of Nicaragua,
overwhelmed the fortifications of Puerto Bello, and followed in L'Ollonais'
footsteps at Maracaibo and Gibraltar, although both places yielded little
wealth and plenty of hot fighting with aroused Spanish defenders.
On August 24, 1670, Morgan sailed as Admiral of Privateers under the
auspices of Governor Modyford of Jamaica. He rendezvoused with French
buccaneers from Tortuga and western Hispaniola, swelling his forces to 2,000
men or more, making him strong enough for any venture. His goal was Panama,
richest city of the Spanish overseas empire. Sailing upriver and then marching
overland, he arrived outside the city in January, 1671. Here the governor of
the province, Don Juan Perez de Guzman, had collected his troops and militia.
On the plains outside the city the two forces fought a pitched battle. The
Spanish lost. The city was taken, plundered, and ultimately burned to the
ground. However, the loot was disappointing. Many of the richest Spaniards had
fled with their families and wealth, rather than staying around to defend it.
The sack of Panama was Morgan's crowning achievement. He wisely retired
while still ahead. Although Modyford lost his governorship and was imprisoned
because of the affair, Morgan received a knighthood. He retired on Jamaica an
honored and wealthy man. He died of too much drink in 1688, at age 53.
BARON DE PONTIS AND THE LAST EXPEDITION (1697) -
Political Situation: France is at war with England and Spain.
Your force is the most powerful ever on the Spanish Main. You are free to
select the target of your choice and strike. The real question is, how much
treasure can you carry off?
This expedition is a pleasant romp, suitable for commanders who enjoy the
'sure thing'. To obtain a suitable challenge at all, select Swashbuckler
difficulty level. After all, in the real expedition both de Pontis and du Casse
were wounded in battle!
In March 1697 Baron de Pontis was in Saint Domingue (the French colonies of
Western Hispaniola) with thirteen warships of the royal French navy under his
command. Louis XIV's France was simultaneously at war with England and Spain,
and running short of men, ships and money. The Baron's goal: Cartagena. His
purpose? To strike a crippling blow at Spain as well as securing a large
treasure to support the French war effort.
Jean Baptiste du Casse, the French colonial governor since 1691, was ordered
to support de Pointis. He collected hundred of local buccaneers and privateers
under the command of Jean Bernard Louis Desjeans, who had sailed with the
French privateering fleets of the 1680s.
The French expedition arrived off Cartagena in April and began reducing the
Spanish defenses. Outlying forts were seized, often with the buccaneers in the
vanguard, while the fleet moved up behind in support. Isolated and demoralized,
the Spanish fell back on the city. The French deployed and opened fire with
powerful 24-pounder and 36-pounder siege mortars, demolishing the city's
fortifications. On May 6, 1697, governor Don Diego de los Rios y Quesada
surrendered Cartagena. Baron de Pointis carried off all the available wealth,
paying the buccaneers at the same rate as his own men (which was a pittance
compared to a privateer-style division of plunder). Worried about a powerful
English squadron known to be hunting him, de Pontis sailed for home with a
treasur worth 20 million Livres in his hold.
The buccaneers, upset and angry with their tiny share, returned to the
still prostrate city. There they sacked, pillaged, raped and tortured until
the residents coughed up another 5 million Livres worth of plunder. Meanwhile
de Pointis was intercepted by Neville's English fleet south of Jamaica, but the
French outmaneuvered the English at night and escaped.
The sack of Cartagena in 1697 was the last great expedition involving
buccaneers. It wouldn't have occured without de Pointis' powerful and well-
equipped invasion force. Nations were now fielding regular army and navy units
in the Caribbean. The pirate's freedom of the seas was at an end.
Around 1500, when Spain discovered the Caribbean basin, Europe was just
emerging from the Middle Ages. Most people were peasants, farmers scratching
out a bare living form the soil, ruled by a small but powerful class of
aristocratic landlords. Some people lived in the towns and cities founded in
the Middle Ages, but townspeople remained a small percentage of the population.
Their trade and industry only made a marginal impact on the lives of the vast
majority. A rare few made their living "on the road" as peddlers, beggars,
sailors and thieves. To the majority they were a source of tales, or warnings
for children ("Be nice or Black Bart the highway man will eat you for dinner!")
The period from 1550 to 1650 is sometimes termed "the Iron Century" because
ordinary people's lives became so harsh. Europe's population had been growing
rapidly since the early 1400s. Around 1500 the number of people began to exceed
the amount of available farmland. Trade and manufacture had developed
sufficiently so some peasants with little or no land could do part-time
weaving (the source of much clothe in Europe), or move to towns and cities to
seek employment in business centered there.
These enterprises could absorb only some of the surplus population. So,
some young men found employment in mercenary armies that served competing
causes in the growing Catholic-Protestant conflict. Unfortunately this
employment did more damage than good, for armies then were not as polite as
today. Soldiers lived off the land, ruining the farms and livelihoods of the
peasants. This destroyed the economic substructure upon which all depended.
The intense religious hatreds added an extra measure of ferocity to the
struggles, international or civil, causing devastation and death wherever war
As the 16th Century came to an end, overpopulation, war, and the growing
taxes brought unprecedented poverty to most areas of Europe. Villages were
torn between the lucky few who had enough land to support their families, and
the insecure majority whose survival depended on a fortunate growing season and
sufficient extra work. Swarms of paupers huddled in slum quarters of towns,
while beggars and brigands infested the countryside. Vagabonds, the rootless
poor, became an unmanageable problem, straining Europe's charitable
institutions and swamping its courts.
Brigands were beggars who stole instead of asking. They often fared better
as a result. They were just one group of many criminal elements who found in
lawlessness an escape from grinding poverty. In towns they practiced burglary
and larceny; in the countryside they worked as highwaymen and thieves; and at
sea they operated as pirates. Thieves worked alone or in small bands, brigands
in moderates sized bands, while pirates operated in larger groups because they
needed to crew a sizable ship. Sometimes pirates even worked in fleets of
The Mediterranean had long known pirates, who went so far as to organize
mini-kingdoms on the Barbary coast of North Africa. The New World opened new
opportunities for piracy. But whether they operated as thieves, brigands, or
pirates, all these men struggled to survive in a harsh and unfeeling world by
preying on others. They redistributed wealth from those who had it but could
not protect it, to those who didn't have it but had the power to seize it.
A brigand or pirate might begin his career in order to survive, but he often
continued it to prosper. In a society torn by religious hatred and war, with
governments still weak and uncertain, success bred success and power respected
power. A brigand band could join an army as a group of mercenaries. A pirate
might well drift in and out of service of a government. Governments found it
expedient to use pirates against their enemies, while pirates found it
profitable to ply their trade with a royal seal of approval, a privateer's
Letter of Marque. Perversely, a pirate might find himself fighting alongside a
Count or an Earl, championing the cause of a king about whose goals and needs
he knew little and cared less. However, notable service could bring notable
rewards: wealth, land, legitimacy, and perhaps a title of nobility! A man who
began as a poverty-stricken nobody might rise to rub elbows with the old
aristocratic families who had led the realm for generations.
The mounting cycles of war and poverty climaxed in 1618 with the outbreak
of the Thirty Years War. What began as a religious strive in Germany became a
constitutional struggle as the Habsburgs tried to consolidate their hold on
that land. Holland, Denmark, Sweden, and ultimately France intervened to help
the German Protestants frustrate this plan. The international melee turned vast
areas of Germany into wasteland. Entrepreneurs stepped in where kings and
emperors were weak. They created huge mercenary armies that swarmed across
the countryside like a plague of locusts. This was the heyday of the mercenary
and the freebooter, as soldiers and captains sold their services to the highest
bidder and switched sides when the time seemed ripe.
But even the greatest of the mercenaries was defeated in battle by a well-
organized national army (that of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden), recruited
through national conscription and supported by national taxes. The French also
used a national army fashioned after the Swedish, and the English Civil War,
which raged separately on that tormented isle, was won by Cromwell's "New
Model Army" formed on the same principles. As the 17th Century approached
its midpoint, the age of the mercenary and pirate was waning in Europe. Within
a few decades this new national power and organization would extend into the
Caribbean, driving out the buccaneers and pirates.
The rise of national governments brought new taxes, oppressive new central
administrations, and government bureaucrats whos powers rivaled that of the
old nobility. A series of revolutions in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France,
and near-revolutionary constitutional conflicts elsewhere showed how the
lower classes and local nobles resisted the new order. But the powerful
national governments emerged victorious. No longer would the state tolerate
independent agents using the techniques of war. Armies were firmly under royal
control, disciplined and supplied from depots. Navies were directed to put down
piracy as well as to fight with other countries. The France of Louis XIV, the
Sun King, epitomized this new order.
Meanwhile, the colonies around the Caribbean were no longer serving as
silver mines for the Spanish Empire. Instead, the new English and French
colonies, the "Sugar Island", formed the cornerstone of a triangular trade
network involving Europe and Africa. This was the most important of many
economic developments that helped Europe sustain its growing population in
the later part of the 17 and 18th Centuries. Conditions were still hard for
many, but prosperity grew as the economy found new forms and new energies.
This wealth was little endangered by pirates, for long before it reached its
peak the naval vessels and royal courts of the various European kingdoms had
all but eliminated piracy from the high seas. The age of the freebooter was
gone. The age of the bureaucrat had begun.
- Edward Bever, PhD (History)
THE SILVER EMPIRE
The Spanish Empire reaches its peak in this era, both in Europe and in the
New World. The empire is built on mountains of silver bullion from New Spain
(Mexico) and Peru. This bullion finances Spain's imperial glory, but also
encourages misguided economic policies that will soon ruin the country.
The secondary export from the Indies is hides of uncured leather. Spanish
colonial grandees prefer ranching large herds to managing farms and
plantations. Ranches are equivalent to the property noblemen own in old Spain.
Holland, a province of this far-flung empire, begins its revolt against
Spanish rule into the 1560s. England, ruled by Elizabeth I (1558-1603) develops
an anti-Spanish policy as well. France had been and will remain consistently
anti-Spanish, surrounded as it is by Habsburg territory (the Habsburg family
controlled the Austria and Spanish thrones, whose territory included a
considerably amount of Italy as well).
Spain in this era is the only European nation with large, populous colonies
in the New World. With the exception of one abortive venture at St. Augustine,
the other European powers have nothing more than temporary anchorages and tent
towns, casual bases for privateering and smuggling that appear and disappear
with the season.
CITIES & TRADE -
Cartagena, Panama, Santiago, and Santo Domingo are the great and powerful
cities of the Spanish Main. All except Panama have impressive fortifications,
and all have large military garrisons. Prices for everything are high here;
European goods are in especially high demand but Spanish trade laws are firmly
enforced. San Juan (on Puerto Rico) is very nearly as large as the major
Havana is a growing port that during this era becomes one of the new, great
cities of the region. The increasingly frequent stops by the treasure fleet
boost Havana's economy. Vera Cruz and Nombre de Dios are unhealthy cities that
are only populous and wealthy when the annual fleet is in. At that time vast
wealth fro Peru (to Panama) and New Spain (to Vera Cruz) is being loaded onto
Larger, politically important cities with a craving for European goods
include Campeche, Cumana and Maracaibo.
The towns in economic difficulties, and therefore more likely to trade with
foreigners, include all ports on underdeveloped Jamaica and Hispaniola
(except the capital Santo Domingo), and the lesser ports of the Main, such as
Santa Marta, Gibraltar, Coro, Puerto Cabello and Margarita, although the last
is rich only from its declining pearl fisheries. The inland capitals of Villa
Hermosa and Gran Granada are still economically weak. Both were in the front
lines of Spanish conquest just a few years previously.
Trinidad is tiny, but already beginning its unique role as a transshipment
point between Atlantic carriers and local Caribbean trade, an activity illegal
by Spanish law, but nonetheless profitable. Smugglers find a ready supply of
cheap European trade goods, and good market for selling hides.
The only non-Spanish colony is the new French one at St Augustine (in
Florida). A few additional French and English privateering bases exist in the
Florida Keys and bahamas. These have an erratic population and uncertain
wealth. No agriculture exists, so food supplies are uncertain.
The only official colonial governor of either nation exists at St.
Augustine. Unless other colonies grow or change colors, be sure to remain
friendly with the French here. All non-Spanish promotions, titles, and land
must come from him.
PROSPECTS FOR SUCCESS -
A successful career in this period requires exceptional skill and guile. All
the major ports are Spanish controlled, forcing one to either trade with them
(as Hawkins tried), or to capture them by assault (Drake's method). Trading
eventually improves the economic status of the towns, making them more likely
to obey Spanish laws and shut you out! Conquest is difficult, especially
against well-populated cities, and often is undone by a Spanish counterattack.
Furthermore, once you initiate warlike actions and the Spanish become hostile,
you must wait for a "Pirate Amnesty" before attempting a trading strategy
You must husband your crew carefully. AVoid dividing up the plunder for as
long as possible. Recruiting new crewmen can be extremely difficult.
The English Seahawk:
With solid backing from your monarch, you have a powerful and flexible
force. This is fortunate, since you'll need to find quick profits to enlarge
your tiny coffers.
The French Corsair:
Your small, fore-and-aft rigged craft is no match for a well-armed war
galleon. If you encounter men of good reputation or high rank, discretion is
definitely the better part of valor. Even if you survive the encounter, your
crew may be so depleted that recruiting replacements may take months.
The Spanish Renegade:
You start in a regrettably weak position, and must take risks at almost every
turn to improve your fortunes. This is not the life for the fainthearted!
MERCHANTS & SMUGGLERS 1600-1620
After the 1590s the Spanish Empire begins a slow slide into decay and chaos,
both militarily and economically. Misguided economic policies combined with a
shortsighted aristocracy, redoubled by a powerful and restrictive church, will
doom Spain for centuries to come.
In the Americas, expensive fortifications and garrisons ahve increased, but
silver shipments and Spanish-owned merchant ships are fewer. Most astoundingly,
the empire in America is literally an empty one. Diseases brought by Europeans
to the New World have inflicted a century of horrifying plagues. The Caribbean
basin has been depopulated. In New Spain (Mexico) the Indian population plunges
from 25 million in 1500 (before the conquest) to less than 2 million in 1600.
Food supplies are short for lack of farmers, and mine output falls for lack
of workers. Spaniards in New Spain totaling more than 100,000 by 1600. Worse,
virtually no Spaniards are productive members of society - they expect to live
a grandiose live, with slaves and Indian peons serving them. The same pattern
repeats throughout the Caribbean and along the Spanish Main.
Conversely, England and France are growing, vital nations. In this era both
have new kings who seek peaceful relations with Spain. Although this reduces
the opportunity for privateering and piracy, neither monarch discourages
colonization. The reputation of riches, pleasant climate, and emptiness of the
Americas all beckon. A miscellaneous assortment of Frenchmen and Englishmen
start new colonial ventures.
The Netherlands, after decades of rebellion against Spain, are virtually
victorious. More amazing, Holland is an economic miracle. Out of war, peaceful
and profitable enterprises spring. With new ship designs (the Fluyt), joint-
stock companies, and the twelve years truce, Dutch commercial interests are
exploding world-wide. However, at this time the big Dutch companies are mainly
interested in Indonesia and Asia, leaving the West Indies to smaller operators.
CITIES & TRADE -
The cities of Cartagena, Havana, Panama, Santo Domingo and Santiago are
the capital cities of the West Indies. Each is populous, rich, well fortified,
heavily garrisoned and intolerant of foreigners. Here tobacco and European
goods command premium prices.
Puerto Bello has replaced Nombre de Dios as Panama's Caribbean port for
the Silver Train and Treasure Fleet. Vera Cruz continues to serve the vast
inland areas of New Spain. Both cities are still unhealthy, which limits their
growth and economic success.
The majority of the Spanish Main and inland Central America is now
economically viable. The smaller towns of the Main frequently grow tobacco and
welcome smugglers. The hinterlands of Hispaniola are another area where tobacco
smugglers are welcome.
Trinidad is in its heyday as a wide-open smuggler's port. Local Caribbean
smugglers can sell their tobacco for decent prices, then buy European goods
from Atlantic traders in reasonable quantities. The Spanish governor, without
harbor forts and served by a laughably small garrison, can do little but take
lucrative bribes and look the other way.
Early colonies exist on St. Lucia and Grenada, although both are at
considerable risk from the cannibalistic Caribe indians. Both need regular
imports of food. No large tobacco plantations or organized defense exist yet.
No French colonies exist, but old privateering anchorages with small "tent
camp" towns can be found in the Bahamas. Here there is no local agriculture.
Food costs are dear, precious little is available to supply a ship.
Although Dutch fluyts are common traders in these waters, no Dutch ports
("factories") exist. This is because the monied interests in the Netherlands
are busy financing colonial ventures in the East Indies (notably Indonesia).
The Dutch spend most of their time trading in smuggled goods with the smaller
Spanish colonies. Trinidad is their unofficial home port in the New World.
PROSPECTS FOR SUCCESS -
Difficulties in this era are similar to the 1560 period. Furthermore, Europe
is tending toward peach, dimming the prospect for privateering profits. With
the dearth of friendly ports and peach in the offing, you should seriously
consider searching for friendly Spanish ports and smuggling goods between them
and Trinidad, with occasional trips to the new English colonies or the old
French privateering anchorages to the north.
The English Explorer:
The situation and strategies for this era are not unlike those of the
previous decades. Do you settle into a life of peaceful trade and smuggling, or
do you seek out a war and go on privateering expeditions? Your large crew
suggests privateering, but the capacious merchantman with its sluggish sailing
qualities and weak armament makes trading attractive too.
The French Adventurer:
Your ship and crew are will suited to privateering. However, the lack of
strong, friendly ports is a serious handicap when recruiting men or selling
captured goods. Conquering a few Spanish ports and installing friendly
administrations should be a high priority.
The Dutch Trader:
Your ship is admirably suited to mercantile endeavor, but sluggish and
underarmed for battle. While trading keep the crew under twenty (but not below
eight, as that's the minimum to operate a ship). Pay them off and recruit new
ones periodically to keep morale high. Use Trinidad as a base and experiment
at various Spanish cities. Discover which governors are tolerant, and which
will open fire. Privateering against the Spanish is tricky business - and
you will lose trading privileges until Spain offers an Amnesty.
The Spanish Renegade:
The renegade's life, never easy, is quite difficult in this era. Only the
most courageous should undertake this course.
THE NEW COLONISTS 1620-1640
Europe is ablaze with a new and bloody war between Protestant and Catholic
(the Thirty Years War). The decay of Spain's American empire continues. Towns
and cities are financially weaker, with fewer troops than ever. The economy and
culture is stagnant. Spanish ranches, plantations and mines are increasingly
dependent on slave labor imported from Africa.
Holland is now the world's leader in mercantile shipping. Dutch companies
finally turn their attention to the West Indies. The renewed war with Spain
offers many opportunities for the large join-stock companies to finance
military expeditions against the Spanish. The old English and French
privateering anchorages swarm with Dutch warships.
In England a new round of colonial ventures is fueled by declining economic
opportunity and growing intolerance for radical Protestants (such as the
Puritans). After the demise of St Lucia and Grenada colonies, and the near
death of Virgina, new and stronger colonies are being founded. These colonies
France, in the grip of Cardinal Richelieu, is slipping once more into civil
war between the Protestant Huguenots and the Catholic government. Throughout
the 1620s French Huguenots flee France and found colonies in the New World.
Then, in the 1630s, France enters the cataclysm in Germany: The Thirty Years
CITIES & TRADE -
The cities of Cartagena, Havana, and Panama remain the capital cities of the
West Indies. Santiago and Santo Domingo, the old capitals, have declined to a
secondary position, though each is still rich by American standards.
Many cities on the Main are economically viable, but few are prosperous.
Tobacco is a cheap export crop at some towns. The more backward towns in the
hinterlands of Jamaica and Hispaniola are primarily victualing and watering
Trinidad remains a popular smuggling port where European goods are plentiful
and fairly cheap, having come across on trans-Atlantic traders, while good
prices are paid for tobacco. However, this port is being overshadowed by the
new English colonies to the north.
Barbados, the first successful English colony in the West Indies, is growing
fast. Increasingly, English ships use it as their home port in the Caribbean.
As at Trinidad, merchants serving the trans-Atlantic trade will pay good prices
for tobacco. The colony on Nevis is newer and smaller. The new venture on
Providence island off the Mosquito Coast, deep in the heart of the Spanish
Empire, is the premier base for privateers and pirates raiding the Main.
On the shared island of St Christophe (St. Kitts to the English), the French
have the upper hand. This colony is largely Catholic, while the unofficial but
growing presence in northeast Hispaniola is largely Protestant. These
enterprising Huguenots have already claimed Tortuga off the coast, as well as
establishing Petit Goave.
Fully fledged Dutch colonies are sparse. Along with the traditional Bahaman
and Floridin privateering anchorages, the Dutch have begun a "factory" (trading
town) on an island positioned right in the center of the Spanish Main: Curacao.
PROSPECTS FOR SUCCESS -
The new colonial ports are a godsend to privateers, who now have legal
employ thanks to renewed warfare in Europe. Pinnaces and Baraques with
piratical intent are everywhere in the Caribbean. Spanish strength continues to
wane, especially at sea. A well outfitted force can even attempt to capture
the Treasure Fleet on the high seas.
Still, one must watch political developments closely. Spain is quite capable
of mounting periodic counterattacks to wipe out intrusive colonies or
troublesome privateer bases.
The English Adventurer:
Don't be shy about privateering against the Spanish. After building your
reputation, fortune, and fleet you can venture ashore and try your hand at
plundering the smaller towns and cities. Opportunities about for a man of
The French Huguenot:
Your Barque is a handy vessel for the Caribbean, and well suited to
privateering against Catholic Spain and its hated Inquisition. Tortuga and
Petit Goave are ideal bases, deep in Spanish territory and only a short sail
from the Florida Channel and its yearly treasure fleet.
The Dutch Privateer:
you have a very powerful force, but there is a lack of Dutch bases.
Therefore, cultivate friendship with the French and English (regardless of
your government's opinion, if possible). Can you duplicate Piet Heyn'
feat of 1628 and capture the Spanish treasure fleet?
The Spanish Renegade:
As in 1560 and 1600, the life of a renegade is unenviable, but conditions
are somewhat improved. The non-Spanish colonies are few, so it's wise to remain
friendly with England, France and Holland.
WAR FOR PROFIT 1640-1660
In Holland, Germany and France the last great religious war of Europe (the
Thirty Years War), begun in 1618, is degenerating into famine, plague and
starvation across a landscape of ruins. England, having avoided European
disasters, is on the brink of its own ruinous civil war that will result in
a short but brutal military dictatorship by Oliver Cromwell and his Protestant
armies. Of all the European nations, Spain is the worst position. Economic and
political conditions in he homeland are so bad that provinces are revolting
against a bankrupt and ineffective government.
Disasters in Europe breed new opportunities in the West Indies. Spain
colonies are at their military and economic nadir. Freebooters and privateers,
experienced from the European conflicts, can pillage and plunder the helpless
Spanish with ease, and with precious little interference from European
governments. Non-Spanish colonies are growing everywhere, fueled by boatloads
of refugees. While some settle into the plantation economy, others take to
the buccaneering life. Meanwhile, the crafty Dutch are making a fortune by
carrying the trade goods among these new colonies. Peaceful trading may not
be as profitable as privateering, but it's a safer business.
CITIES & TRADE -
The richest Spanish cities remain the great capitals of the region: Panama,
Cartagena, Havana, and Santiago. These continue to have wealthy economies and
high prices. San Juan and Santo Domingo are prospering, but remain populated
by old, aristocratic families with expensive tastes. Both cities are will
fortified and garrisoned. All other Spanish cities are barely prospering, if
that. Towns in the hinterlands are on eh verge of disappearing under the tidal
wave of immigration from England, France and Holland.
Barbados is the unofficial capital of the English West Indies. It is a
traders dream. European goods are freely available, sugar sells for premium
prices, and the local merchants are wealthy and well-stocked. The colonies on
St. Kitts and Nevis are economically strong and well populated while Antigua,
Montserrat, Bermuda, and Eleuthera are newer, smaller colonies with little
population, low prices, and tiny warehouses.
Guadeloupe and Martinique are the major colonies in the Caribbee Islands
(Lesser Antilles). However, all eyes are drawn to that well fortified haven of
privateers, buccaneers and outright pirates: Tortuga. Already this name
inspires terror. Mainland Hispaniola French colonies are developing slowly
at Petit Goave. French privateers still use anchorages in the Florida Keys
to plunder Spaniards in the Florida Channel, as well to descend upon the north
coast of Cuba.
Curacao is the Dutch equivalent of Barbados. This large, rich, well-defended
free port offers good prices for sugar and sells quantities of European goods
in return. A second international free port is developing at St Eustatius,
while sleepy St. Martin is a placid place for sugar planters and other peaceful
PROSPECTS FOR SUCCESS -
Opportunities abound and success awaits. Spain is almost always at war with
somebody, and not uncommonly with everybody! Since Spanish military power is
a joke, the opportunities for privateering and outright plunder are legion.
After a rich cruise against the hapless Spanish, no voyage is complete without
a wild party at Tortuga, Barbados, or Curacao.
The English Adventure:
As a privateer, everything is in your favor. A plethora of friendly English
colonies are ready and willing to buy your plundered goods, while the taverns
are brimming with sailors seeking a berth with a successful Captain. Smiling
governors will shake your hand and bestow land and honor for your efforts.
Isn't life grand?
The French Privateer:
Privateering is a growth industry with great profits for the French, as
with the English. Tortuga is the ideal base for such activities, sitting
between Santo Domingo, the great cities of Cuba, and the rich fleets passing
outbound through the Florida Channel. Down a pleasant beam reach to the south
lies the heartland of the Spanish Main and the usually friendly port of Curcao.
The Dutch Trader:
Tired of war, many Dutchmen prefer the peaceful role of trading. The new and
growing French and English colonies offer many opportunities to a savvy
merchant. Trade routes between the large, rich colonies and the new, small ones
yield easy profits. One can also trade with the poorer Spanish cities, who
have cheap sugar and food that sells for premier prices on Curaca or Barbados.
Of course, the lure of privateering for the English or French remains strong!
The Spanish Renegade:
This is one of the two eras (the other is 1660) where the life of a renegade
can be fairly pleasant. Raiding the Spanish is a rewarding occupation, war or
THE BUCCANEER HEROES 1660-1680
The military decline of the Spanish Empire continues when senile King
Phillip IV is succeeded by the lax and inept regency for Charles (Carlos) II,
who in 1665 becomes King at age four. Although Spanish America is left without
military protection, bureaucratic interference in its economic affairs
diminishes also. This, combined with renewed output form the silver mines,
starts an upswing in the Spanish-American economy.
England, France and Holland are now strong colonial powers. Jealous of
Holland's commercial success, England begins economic war against Holland
with the Navigation Act (1651) and the Staple Act (1663), legislating trade
limits that would ruin the free-trade Dutch merchants. This causes three
shooting wars within twenty years. Meanwhile, Louis XIV has finally taken
control of France with the death of Cardinal Mazarin in 1661. The "Sun King's"
aggressive foreign policy sparks almost constant warfare with England, Holland,
and Spain as frequent opponents. In short, Europe is a dogfight of
international intrigue and warfare, with enemies and allies changing as
frequently as partners in a court dance.
In the Caribbean, governors face new threats from all directions. St.
Eustatius changes hands ten times between 1664 and 1674. The home governments
provide virtually no military forces, so the governors ask buccaneers,
privateers and pirates to guard their colony and carry the fight to the enemy.
These sensible, profit-oriented warriors are often difficult to control.
CITIES AND TRADE -
Panama, Havana, and Cartagena endure as the three greatest Spanish cities,
rich, well fortified, and well garrisoned. Still sizeable but of declining
importance are Santiago, Santo Domingo, and San Juan. The remaining Spanish
towns are beginning to prosper again, but are so weak militarily that all are
prey to buccaneers and pirates.
Barbados remains the great English colony, with St. Kitts close behind.
Captured from Spain in 1655, Jamaica is the home of Port Royale, the new
English buccaneer haven in the midst of the Spanish empire, only a short
voyage downwind from the French colonies on Hispaniola.
In the Caribbee Islands (Lesser Antilles) Guadeloupe and Martinique are the
main bastions of French power, while around western Hispaniola Tortuga, Port-
de-Paix, Petit Goave, and Leogane are buccaneering stongholds amid the growing
wealth of French sugar plantations.
Curacao remains the premier Dutch colony and one of the greatest free ports
in the world. St. Eustatius almost surpasses it, but conquest and reconquest by
numerous expeditions has damaged its economy.
PROSPECTS FOR SUCCESS -
This era is sometimes called the "Golden Age of Buccaneering". There's
plenty of warfare to legalize your actions, and a plethora of rich Spanish
and non-Spanish ports to either raid or use as bases, as you prefer. Because
of her military weakness, Spain's ships and towns are the popular target for
buccaneers and pirates of all nationalities.
The English Buccaneer:
Port Royale makes an excellent base of operations, while Barbados is still
the best place to dispose of large amounts of loot at a very good price. The
main disadvantage of Port Royale is that recruiting a good crew often requires
side-trips to the French buccaneer towns on Hispaniola, while a base in the
Caribbees give you access to many English ports for quick, easy recruiting.
The French Buccaneer:
Privateer or pirate, it is wise to leave one or two nations alone, so you
have potential trading partners in case an unexpected peace breaks out. You'll
find recruiting especially easy in the vicinity of Hispaniola, with four
separate French buccaneer ports within a short sail.
The Dutch Adventurer:
Dutchmen of this period weren't shy about offering their services to other
nations, and were always looking for the main chance - a venture with profit,
be it peaceful or warlike. Don't ignore the excellent prospects for peaceful
trade. Above all, remember that Barbados and Curaca are two richest ports in
non-Spanish America, good fore either trading or selling a looted cargo.
The Spanish Renegade:
Although a renegade's life is never easy, this era is a bright spot on a
dark sea of danger. Privateering or piracy against Spain is, of course, the
PIRATES' SUNSET 1680-1700
Europe is as full as ever of tumult and warfare, rapidly shifting alliances
and strange political bedfellows. But the depredations of the buccaneers in the
Americas have taught politicians and military men a lesson. Warriors who fight
for profit can ruin the local economy. Meanwhile, nations have bigger and more
powerful fleets and armies, big enough so troops can be spared for important
colonies in the West Indies.
All this spells the doom of privateering and the buccaneers. Spain may be
ruled by a deformed idiot (the unhappy product of excessive intermarriage by
the Habsburgs), but despite this the pirates disappear, chased from the seas
by an English naval squadron based in Port Royale. Letters of Marque are harder
and harder ot get. Buccaneers of all nationalities flock to the French flag in
1684 when it offers Letters of Marque again.
Economically, this is an era of rising wealth and trade for all nations in the
Caribbean. Although some piracy remain, the road to the future is one of
peaceful trade and smuggling.
CITIES & TRADE -
Havana, Panama, Cartagena, and Santiago are still important cities, despite
the raids and misfortunes of the last century. Caracas has risen to prominence
as the main harbor serving inland Terra Firma (South America), while Santo
Domingo and San Juan have slipped to a second rank, isolated among the growing
French and English island wealth.
Port Royale, Barbados, and St. Kitts are the great English ports, with the
other English Caribbees sound and healthy trading posts. The Bahamas are the
new colonial frontier. Nassau, for example, is a wide-open pirate haven. A
small English colony has even sprung up at Belize in Honduras!
The French colonial empire has not changed its shape greatly in two decades.
Guadeloupe and Martinique remain the twin economic capitals, now equal to the
largest English ports. Tortuga is declining but the Hispaniolan towns of
Port-d-Paix, Petit Goave, and Leogane are all thriving.
As with France, the shape of the Dutch dominions also is constant: Curacao
is the great free port, St. Eustatius is recovering from wartime disasters
and trying to live on trade with the recalcitrant English nearby. St. Martin,
the northerly satellite, continues to expand quietly its plantation economy.
PROSPECTS FOR SUCCESS -
Prospects in this era appear as good as the 1660s and 1670s. However pirate-
hunting warships appear more frequently, while the non-Spanish ports are larger
and better fortified. Indeed, the fairly equal distribution of strong and weak
ports throughout the Caribbean means the prospects for trading are the best in
fifty years. If you do pursue a bellicose path, take advantage of pirate
amnesties when offered, so you are prepared for a sudden outbreak of peace.
The English Pirate:
Well, mate ye always wanted a life of piracy. Try it on for size now!
Novices are encouraged to try a voyage or two in the 1660s first, to get the
feel of privateering, before embarking on a career of high seas crime. Beware
the navy pirate hunters!
The French Buccaneer:
Privateering commissions are legally available still. Take advantage of them
to raid the Spainish. Of course, it pays to beware of the Costa Guarda pirate
The Dutch Adventurer:
As a peace-loving free-trade Dutchman, you should think long on the
advantages of trading and smuggling. Dutch ports are few, and although England
and France have laws prohibiting trade with you, in reality the laws are
ignored. Even the Spanish can be coaxed into trading more often than not. Of
course, some of your compatriots made their reputation by sailing as
privateers for France. In fact, two admirals of the French privateers in 1685
The Spanish Costa Guarda:
Now that the English and French colonies are as rich as the Spanish, it's
only appropriate that they taste some of their own medicine! The only
difficulty is evading those French, English and Dutch warships that so
inconveniently clutter up the seascape.
The Latitudes and Longitudes given in this index are consistent with the B&H
map, included in this package. While quite good for the era, the measurements
on this map are very inexact by modern standards. All founding dates are
21 degrees N, 62 degrees W. Colonized in the 1640s, this island is a small
pleasant backwater with a classic plantation economy. In the 18th Century it
will become one of the two great navel base for the British Royal Navy in the
18 degrees N, 59 degrees W. The first major English colony in the Caribbean
(in the 1620s), Barbados is the economic capital of the Caribbee Islands
(Lesser Antilles) throughout the middle and later parts of the 17th Century.
Caribbean traders will find European goods numerous and the selling price of
tobacco and sugar quite good.
21 degrees N, 88 degrees W. This small but hardy settlement of logwood
cutters appears in the 1680's in a region conceded to be Spanish, but as yet
uncolonized. Its stubborn presence will cause diplomatic problems for decades
30 degrees N, 65 degrees W. Settled in the 1640s, Bermuda built its early
economy on shipwrecks, thanks to the many treacherous reefs that surround the
16 degrees N, 67 degrees W. This modes city on the Spanish Main is
noteworthy only in the late 16th Century. Thereafter it is sublimated in the
growing power and importance of Caracas.
23 degrees N, 90 degrees W. A well-established "old" Spanish city with
aristocratic tastes, Campeche is an important port serving the inland provinces
of southern New Spain and Yucatan. European goods fetch good prices here.
16 degrees N, 66 degrees W. This city rises to prominence at the end of the
16th Century. It is the main port for inland farms and plantations, and home
of many important Spanish families, who have expensive tastes in European
16 degrees N, 75 degrees W. This is the largest port city of the Spanish
Main, and after the 1590s a supposedly impregnable fortress. Here the treasure
fleet winters before its return voyage via Havana and the Florida Channel. It
has a powerful garrison of troops and a thriving economy with little need for
illegal trade and smuggling.
17 degrees N, 70 degrees W. This small city on the east side of the Gulf of
Venezuela thrives in the 16th Century, but after the 1600s it is overshadowed
by the new ports to the east. During its brief heyday Coro is a good source of
hides and tobacco.
16 degrees N, 64 degrees W. The main port city of New Andalusia, it forms
the eastern anchor of the Spanish Main, the last major harbor and fortress. It
is a good market for European goods. This does not prevent it from indulging in
smuggling and other nefarious pursuits from time to time.
17 degrees N, 69 degrees W. First used in the 1620s, this island becomes a
great free port under Dutch control. Spanish produce smuggled from everywhere
along the Main are bought here by Dutch merchants, who happily exchange them
for European products that can be profitable smuggled to the Spanish.
26 degrees N, 76 degrees W. At first just an anchorage for privateers,
Eleuthera becomes and English colony eventually. In the 17th Century it really
never grows, remaining a backwater haven for pirates, privateers, and the other
riff-raff who hide among the Bahamas.
26 degrees N, 80 degrees W. The powerful Gulf Stream current has cut this
channel along the southeast coast of Florida, forming a safe path past the
Bahama shoals. Each year in the spring or summer the Spanish treasure fleet
passes up this channel from Havana, bound for the North Atlantic Westerlies and
the trip home.
26 degrees N, 81 degrees W. Among this chain of tiny islands and reefs are
transitory anchorages for privateers of varying nationalities. No permanent
colonies are found here - it is too close to powerful Spanish Havana.
15 degrees N, 71 degrees W. This city is a modest-size port for the inland
farms and plantations of Caracos province. The horrifying rape and pillage of
the city by L'Ollonais and again by Morgan destroyed its economic vitality,
making it a nonentity by the 1680s.
17 degrees N, 86 degrees W. Situated on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, this
is the largest and wealthiest city of the Honduran provinces.
28 degrees N, 79 degrees W. This island in the northern Bahamas is used
periodically as a privateering anchorage. It does not become an English colony
until the very end of the era.
17 degrees N, 61 degrees W. A group of English colonists attempt settlement
here in the 1600s, but fail and the colony disappears by the 1620s.
20 degrees N, 61 degrees W. Colonized by the French, Guadeloupe becomes
economically viable in the 1640s. Along with Martinique it is the cornerstone
of French power in the eastern Caribbean. In the 1660s its fortress and
garrison are increased as part of France's new interest in overseas
25 degrees N, 82 degrees W. One of the old cities of Cuba, during the
middle 16the Century it grew rapidly because th Treasure Fleet used its harbor
for a last provisioning before the dangerous journey back to Spain. Havana is
a rich town where all mercantile activity is done strictly according to law.
Prices are extremely high.
23 degrees N, 71 degrees W. This tiny port town was initially established
by Columbus himself, but fades in and out of existence as disease takes its
toll. At the start of the 17th Century it is officially abandoned by the
Spanish Government, its residents forced to resettle around Santo Domingo.
22 degrees N, 71 degrees W. This smuggler's haven of the early and middle
17th Century serves the inland ranches and farms of northern Hispaniola. Prices
are low and the law nonexistent, save the law you make with the point of your
22 degrees N, 73 degrees W. One of the new French buccaneer ports of the
1660s, Leogane serves the unofficial but rapidly growing French presence in
16 degrees N, 72 degrees W. This is the chief port on the Gulf of Venezuela
and guardian of the Maracaibo Lagoon (also known as Lake Maracaibo). As such
it has more than its share of aristocratic families, with expensive tastes in
17 degrees N, 63 degrees W. In the early 16th Century this island was one of
the richest pearl fisheries in the world. Unfortunately, the pearl beads are
now fished out. Margarita is a shadow of its former wealth, withe ports
abandoned and many families moving to bigger and richer mainland cities, such
as Cumana an Caracas.
19 degrees N, 61 degrees W. Colonized by the French, Martinique becomes
economically viable in the 1640s. With Guadeloupe it is the cornerstone of
French power in the eastern Caribbean. In the 1660s its fortress and garrison
are increased as part of France's new interest in overseas colonization.
21 degrees N, 62 degrees W. This English colony, founded around 1640,
remains one of small plantations and gentleman farming, a pleasant port of
call with no especially important characteristics save low prices.
26 degrees N, 77 degrees W. Since the mid 16th Century this Bahaman island
has been a pirate anchorage. An English colony, officially begun in the 1680s,
soon degenerates into a loud, squalid pirate haven full of verminous and evil
men. The port is named "New Providence", to distinguish it from Providence
Island ("Old Providence").
21 degrees N, 63 degrees W. This pleasant island, separated from St. Kitts
by a narrow channel, was populated by the English at about the same time - the
1620s. While St. Kitts becomes a port of some importance, Nevis remains more
agricultural, with pleasant plantations rolling across sun-drenched
15 degrees N, 79 degrees W. This town is the Caribbean port for Panama and
Peru throughout the 16th Century. However, it is sited in an unhealthy swamp,
is almost impossible to fortify, and is plundered mercilessly by English sea
hawks. At the end of the 16th Century it is abandoned and a new port (Puerto
Bello) established nearby.
15 degrees N, 80 degrees W. This large city links the wealth Spanish realms
of Peru with the Caribbean. All trade with Peru is by ship on the Pacific
coast, with Panama the terminus. Panama is linked to a Caribbean port (Nombre
de Dios in the 16th Century, Puerto Bello in the 17th) by a mule train over the
mountains of the Darien Isthmus.
22 degrees N, 73 degrees W. Among the many small and informal French
Huguenot settlements on the Western Hispaniola, this is the first (in the
1620s) to gain repute as an important port. but as the 17th Century continues,
planters and plantation lords push out the rude buccaneers, gradually
civilizing the raw colonial frontier.
23 degrees N, 73 degrees W. This later French Huguenot settlement becomes a
significant port in the 1660s, and by the 1680s is the informal capital of the
French colonies in the Western Hispaniola
21 degrees N, 77 degrees W. In a natural harbor on southeast Jamaica lies a
curving spit and sandbar. By 1660, just five years after the English conquest
of Jamaica, the spit is covered by Port Royale, a booming, rollicking,
buccaneer town. Its reputation was so evil that when an earthquake destroyed it
at the end of the Century, colonials and Europeans alike considered it an act
of divine justice.
16 degree N, 68 degrees W. This secondary port along the Spanish Main is a
city of note through the 1620s. Ultimately, however, Caracas takes most of its
business, while the new Dutch free port at Curacao destroys the rest.
24 degrees N, 78 degrees W. This was one of the first cities on Cuba. It
represents the strengths of Spanish America: a wealthy city surrounded by
ranches and a cattle economy.
18 degrees N, 82 degrees W. Also known as "Old Providence", it is first
settled by an English colonial venture in 1620. The tiny island quickly becomes
a base for privateers and pirates operating deep in the Spanish Main. The
island is such a danger to Spain that a major expedition is mounted in 1640 to
recapture it. This is successful, and to this day the island remains knowns by
what the Spanish renamed it: Santa Catalina.
15 degrees N, 80 degrees W. By 1600 this city replaces abandoned Nombre de
Dios as the Caribbean port for Panama and the Viceroyalty of Peru. Each year,
when the Treasure Fleet arrives to pick up the Peruvian silver, Puerto Bello
becomes a rich boom town. Weeks later, when the fleet departs for Cartagena,
it lapses into malarial somnolence once more.
Rio de la Hacha:
17 degrees N, 73 degrees W. This is one of the two major ports for the
Colombian highlands (Santa Marta is the other). It does a thriving trade in
export goods: first hides, then tobacco.
22 degrees N, 66 degrees W. This is the great port city of Puerto Rico, and
one of the most powerfully fortified of all cities in Spanish America. San Juan
was settled early and remains a bastion of old Spanish aristocracy. Prices for
all goods except food are high, and most times Spanish law is vigorously
enforced. Ultimately it becomes a base for Costa Guarda raids on the Caribees.
18 degree N, 82 degrees W. When Spaniards take Providence Island from the
English in the 1640s, they rename it Santa Catalina. Although the island is
valueless to Spain, a garrison is maintained to prevent it from falling into
English hands once more.
22 degrees N, 70 degrees W. This is the great capital city of Hispaniola,
one of the largest and oldest in the entire American Empire of Spain. In the
17th Century its power and importance are fading, but the Spanish aristocrats
and ranchers remain vigorous enough to defeat an English invasion in 1655
(disappointed, the English invade and conquer Jamaica instead).
17 degrees N, 74 degrees W. Along with Rio de la Hacha, this is the other
principal port serving the Colombian highlands. Large farmsteads nearby mean
this city has low food prices, as well as reasonably priced hides and tobacco.
23 degrees N, 76 degrees W. This is the original capital city of Cuba, and
remains a large, strong city until very late in the era. Like all the great
Spanish cities, prices are high while Spanish trade law is vigorously
Santigo de la Vega:
21 degrees N, 77 degrees W. This is the main Spanish town on Jamaica before
the English conquest. Spanish Jamaica was a tiny backwater, of little economic
or military importance.
30 degrees N, 81 degrees W. Originally a French colony in 1560, Spain
attacks and captures it, massacring the Frenchmen and establishing their own
fortress and garrison to discourage other Europeans. St. Augustine is of such
small importance that nobody bothers to dispute Spain's ownership.
21 degrees N, 63 degrees W. First colonized in the 1620s by a combination
of Frenchmen and Englishmen, the Frenchmen are ascendant on the island in the
early days. Later the English predominate and their spelling of the name is
commonly used: St. Kitts.
21 degrees N, 63 degrees W. Settled in the 1640s by the Dutch, this island
becomes one of the great free trade ports in the heyday of Dutch mercantilism.
Unfortunately, its poor defenses and powerful English and French neighbors make
it one of the most fought-over islands. The political and military turmoil
badly damage the economy.
21 degrees N, 63 degrees W. By the 1640s the English gain the upper hand on
St. Christophe. When the English are predominant, this English name for the
island is commonly used. The island develops a significant port that does a
thriving trade with all nationalities.
19 degrees N, 61 degrees W. English colonists settled here in preference to
South America in the 1600s, but were quickly wiped out by their own ineptitude
and the ferocious Carib Indians.
22 degrees N, 63 degrees W. This island is colonized by the Dutch in the
1640s. It remains a quiet, peaceful plantation isle for the remainder of the
15 degrees N, 61 degrees W. This tiny town, deep inland along the Orinoco
River, acquires a small Spanish garrison about 1600. This is in response to
Sir Walter Raleigh's abortive expeditions up-river.
23 degrees N, 73 degrees W. First settled by French buccaneers and Huguenots
in the 1620s, it is built up and fortified into a great pirate base of the
1640s and '60s. Despite Spanish attacks, it survives as long as the buccaneers
and pirates remained strong, but disappears as their power wanes.
16 degrees N, 61 degrees W. Theoretically a Spanish colony, this island
never has a large population, nor much of a Spanish government and garrison.
Its heyday as a smuggler's paradise is in the first years of the 1600s.
Vera Cruz and San Juan de Ulua Harbor:
23 degrees N, 96 degrees W. This city with its island anchorage is the main
port for the great inland Viceroyalty of New Spain (also known as Mexico). Once
a year, when the treasure fleet arrives, this otherwise unhealthy city becomes
a rich boom town.
22 degrees N, 93 degrees W. This inland city is the capital of Tobasco
province, a southerly but nontheless rich region of New Spain.
22 degrees N, 72 degrees W. In the 16th Century this town is a small port
serving the Spanish west coast of Hispaniola. It is officially abandoned and
its population deported at the end of the century as a punishment for excessive
* CAPTAIN'S BROADSHEET *
A QUICK START -
For your first game, the following "Quick Start" is recommended.
Begin your first game with the following selections (starting selections are
described in detail early in this document).
1. Welcome: Start a New Career.
2. Special Historical Period?: No.
3. What nationality are you?: English
4. Type Your Name (No more than 9 characters) and press 'Return'.
You are an: Apprentice.
Special Ability: Skill at Fencing.
TREASURE FLEET OR SILVER TRAIN:
You must know when the Treasure Fleet or Silver Train arrives. Refer to the
chart listed at the end of Pirates.Dox.1A
LEARN BY DOING -
Some Players prefer to learn by experimentation. To do so, just read the
notes below and refer to the Controls summary in this broadsheet. If you are
confused, refer to the indicated sections of the manual for more details.
The space bar pauses the action. This is handy while learning.
Your First Duel:
The joystick controls your fencing tactics. You see these tactics acted out
on screen. You don not control each specific wrist, arm, body, and leg motion.
Explore the port and the options available before leaving for your first
cruise. However, do not divide up the plunder yet.
Cruising the Seas:
Push your joystick in the direction you wish to set sail. Once sailing, leave
the stick centered to remain on course, pull it left or right to turn in that
direction (just like the rudder of a real ship). For information while sailing,
press the trigger. If you're lost, one of the information options is a "sun
sight" with your astrolabe.
If you encounter and fight an enemy ship, read the section that describes
your options. If you pull alongside, a boarding battle with swordfighting may
Finishing Your Voyage:
Return to port, sell your gains to the merchant, visit the governor for any
rewards, then Divide The Plunder. After that, select retirement. This ends the
game and shows your score. Don't worry! You can come out of retirement again
SAVING GAMES & HALL OF FAME -
You need an extra, blank disk to save PIRATES! during play. You cannot save
any information on the game disk.
Saving the Game:
To save the game, enter any town and Check Information. The option list
includes Save Game. Select this option and follow the instructions. PIRATES!
save-game disks use a special format. You must use the format option offered in
Save Game, a normally formatted disk will not suffice. Note that formatting a
disk prepares it for saving games, but does not actually save anything.
The Hall of Fame:
Having a formatted disk is necessary to record your final score on the
Hall of Fame. The same disk can hold both your saved games and the Hall of
* THE ART OF COMMAND *
Joystick........................Move pointer (changes highlighted option)
Trigger on Joystick.............Select highlighted option.
Space Bar.......................Stop music.
Trading & Moving Goods
Joystick up-down.................Selects item to be traded or moved.
Flick Joystick Left..............Buy or take item for your party.
Flick Joystick Right.............Sell or abandon items held by your party.
Trigger on Joystick..............Exit.
Fencing & Swordplay
Joystick Left.....................Fast attack high, mid-level or low
Joystick Left & Trigger Down......Slashing attack high, mid-level or low
Joystick in Center................Parry (blocks attacks) high, middle or low
Joystick Right....................Retreat and parry high, mid-level or low
Space Bar.........................Pause and resume
Note: Joystick height (upward, horizontal, or downward) controls height of
attack or parry (high, mid-level or low). For example, the joystick left and
upward is a fast attack high, while the joystick left and downward is a fast
Joystick (any direction)..........Party marches in that direction.
Joystick Trigger..................Get information.
Space Bar.........................Pause and resume.
Sailing the Caribbean
Flick Joystick (any direction)....Set sail (joystick controls direction)
Joystick left.....................Turn left (port) while sailing.
Joystick right....................Turn right (starboard) while sailing.
Joystick Trigger..................Get information
Space Bar.........................Pause and resume.
Note: You can anchor safely anywhere on the coast and disembark automatically.
However, any travel over shoals (reefs) may be fatal.
Joystick Left.....................Turn left (port)
Joystick Right....................Turn right (starboard)
Joystick Up.......................Full sails (raises all sails for max speed)
Joystick Down.....................Battle sails (reduces risk of gunfire damage)
Joystick Trigger..................Fire cannon broadside
Space Bar.........................Pause and resume
Joystick Trigger..................Change highlighted group
Joystick..........................Move the highlighted group only
Joystick & Trigger Down...........Move all groups simultaneously
(Automatic When Stationary).......Group fires
(Automatic When Stationary).......Group fights hand-to-hand with enemy
Space Bar.........................Pause and resume
Taking a Sun-Sight with the Astrolabe
Joystick left-right................Move Astrolabe under sun
Joystick up-down...................Raise-lower astrolabe platform
Space Bar..........................Pause and resume
* THE POWER OF OBSERVATION *
Cyan (Light Blue)...................Spain
Fencing & Swordplay
The color of the shirt indicates who and what is fighting.
White Shirt.........................You, with whatever weapon you selected
Yellow Shirt........................Enemy with a cutlass
Purple Shirt........................Enemy with a longsword
Green Shirt.........................Enemy with a rapier
You can distinguish friendly from hostile ships by color.
Black Hull, White Sails.............Your Ship
Brown Hull, Yellow Sails............Enemy Ship
You can distinguish one group from another by color.
Black...............................Your highlighted (selected) group
Gray................................Your other group(s)
NOTES & MEMORANDA
PIRATES! began as a glimmer in an historian's eye. Here at MicroProse we knew
that the buccaneering era in the Caribbean would make a fabulous game. However,
to do the era justice, we had to invent a new type of action/adventure
Superficially, PIRATES! appears to be an arcade-style game. The sailing,
ship battles, and swordfights all run in real-time where your actions and
reactions must be quick, decisive, and correct. But upon closer examination,
each aspect of the game is based around the actual principles of that activity.
Sailing controls work like a real ship's rudder, and sailing speeds depend
on the ship's hull, rigging, and the strength of the wind. When playing at
"Swashbuckler" reality level, there is no game assistance for sailing into the
wind (as there is at lower levels). The difficulties of tacking into the wind
and the importance of catching each wind change is quite evident. You'll also
see the grave flaws in the galleon ship design (bigger is not always better).
Try sailing a galleon from Vera Cruz to Havana, and then up the Florida Channel
to St. Augustine. You'll soon see why so many Spanish Captains came to grief
in those waters!
Similarly, swordfighting is deceptive. You do not control motions per se, but
instead select "combinations" for attack and defense. This approach to fencing
is based on the sports of Eppe, Foil and Saber - modern equivalents to
duelling. If you're familiar with those, you'll soon see the similarities
between those modern competitions and what happens in PIRATES! Fighters close
for a quick flurry, then spring apart again.
Strange as it may seem to us in the 20th Century, the buccaneers really did
insist that their Captain fight at the forefront. They didn't want a leader
who'd stand back and give orders, they wanted somebody who'd risk his neck
alongside them! Surviving commentary show that personal leadership and duels
between commanders were not infrequent in boarding and storming battles.
The game does simplify the options and possibilities inherent in West Indian
colonial life, in order to streamline game-play. Even so, colonial port society
actually centered around three main elements: recreation (the "taverns"),
trading (the "merchant"), and politics (the "governor"). Recent excavations
and mappings of Port Royale (destroyed by earthquake in 1692) demonstrate the
truth of this.
We must confess to adding a few minor elements of romance and adventure.
After all, no voyage would be complete without buried treasure maps, evil
Spaniards, and beautiful women! Actually, even the governor's daughter
represents a feature of the period: inside political information. In real
life, as in the game, confidential information gained through personal
connections can be an invaluable aid.
To some our choice of period may seem strange. The most famous pirates,
such as Edward Teach (Blackbeard) were in the 1700s through 1720s. However,
those men were psychotic remnants of a great age, criminals who wouldn't give
up. They were killed in battle or hung for evils no European nation condoned.
There was no political intrigue or golden future to their lives, just a
bullet or a short rope. We found them unattractive and uninteresting compared
to the famous sea hawks and buccaneers that preceded them.
PIRATES! was a fascinating and challenging game to create. We're confident
you'll find it enjoyable. We also hope you'll find it an enlightening window
to life in another age.
- Sid Meier & Arnold Hendrick