Each ship in the Caribbean is piloted by a "Crew" - a group of sailors living on board the ship and taking care of her every operation. Each ship has a known amount of Crew. In all games, the amount of men on the ship will determine how quickly it can Reef and Fill its sails, how quickly it can reload its Cannons, and how much manpower it has to defend itself during a Boarding.

The player's Crew is comprised entirely of pirates, recruited from Ports and from captured enemy ships. They are hired "On Account", meaning they expect a share of the profits at the end of the voyage. Your crew will stick around as long as they believe their eventual share is going to be worth their time. The player uses his crew for more than just sailing: they can double as Raiders for attacking Ports, whether by sea or land.

General InformationEdit

Ships do not sail on their own - they require a group of sailors to operate them, performing tasks ranging from clearing the bilge of a ship, to manipulating the sails, navigation, and operating the Cannons. A ship with no crew is like an empty car: it's not going anywhere.

Most ships can be sailed with a bare minimum crew of no more than a dozen men. However, to run a ship efficiently, dozens or even hundreds of men may be required. The larger the ship, the more men are needed on board to keep it sailing properly.

A ship's crew lives on board, due to voyages taking days, weeks, or sometimes even months. Each ship has a set amount of hammocks lining its lower decks where crew who are off-duty may go to sleep. It has a galley (the naval term for a kitchen) to prepare food for these men, and must carry enough food to keep the men alive and well.

Player's CrewEdit

The Player begins his voyage with a set amount of men determined by the Nation/Era combination chosen at the start of the campaign. More men can usually be recruited at any Tavern, and on occasion from defeated enemy ships.

The player's crew are pirates, and therefore sail On Account. They do not receive proper weekly nor monthly "wages" - instead they agree to serve until the voyage is over, expecting a fair share of the profits at the end.

The player's crew's Morale is based on their expectations for a good share of the profits. If money is coming in slowly, the crew may begin to grumble and may take opportunities to ditch the ship when anchored at a Port. If push comes to shove, the crew may Mutiny in an attempt to gain control of the voyage and increase their profits under a new captain.

The player needs to make sure that his Fleet is carrying enough food to feed all the men on board. This is a constant worry, as naturally food will eventually run out if more is not acquired in a timely fashion.

The player's crew is divided between his ships (if there is more than one ship in the Player's Fleet) based on specific rules that differ from game to game. A ship heading into Naval Combat will always carry as many men as can be spared for the job (in some games, as many as allowed by its specific Ship Type, assuming they are available). In addition, crewmen can be armed with muskets, swords and pikes to facilitate Land Combat.

For these reasons, a larger crew - if it can be supported with food and gold - gives the player more power and more leverage in the Caribbean. On the other hand, a smaller crew is more easily manageable, costs less to feed, and can be beneficial on longer voyages where Gold is harder to come by.

Non-Player ShipsEdit

Non-player ships have a randomly-generated amount of crew on board, determined primarily by a ship's Type and its Role. The amount of crew on board influences, to some extent, how dangeruos that ship will be - especially if the player is looking to raid cities. The men on the enemy ship will fight to the best of their ability, and more men means better chances for them to do so.

In addition, once an enemy ship is defeated in Naval Combat, some of its crew may offer to join the player's crew, especially if the ship was heavily manned to begin with and the player's reputation is high.

Icon Pirates1987 Header Pirates1987Pirates! (1987)Edit

In the original game, the Crew of a ship influences three of its properties: the speed of Reefing and Filling the Sails, the speed of reloading the Cannons, and its ability to defend itself in combat.

The player's own crew is also unlimited in size, as long as he can supply enough food and earn enough gold to keep them fed and happy. The size of the ships in the Player's Fleet does not firectly influence the size of the Crew he may keep.

Initial Player's Crew SizeEdit

The size of the player's crew at the beginning of his career is directly determined by the combination of race and genetics chosen by the player before the career begins. This can vary widely, especially when playing one of the Famous Expeditions, where you may start with up to 1,200 men! Most careers, however, will start with a handful - around 40 to 60 men, enough to partially crew a small vessel.

Recruiting CrewEdit

City Recruits

A group of potential recruits, encountered in a Tavern.

As with all other games, the major source of new crewmembers is to be found at Ports. On your first visit to the Tavern upon entering a city, there is a good chance that at least some men will offer to join your crew. This offer can be accepted or refused at will.

Ports with a larger population and smaller wealth are more likely to have more men willing to join you. Conversely, the population of a small, wealthy port will rarely want to join you at all.

In addition to this, crew can often be collected from defeated enemy vessels. Assuming the vessel was Surrendered or was successfully Boarded, part of its crew will offer to join you after the ship has been looted. You may accept or refuse this offer freely. This of course requires that part of the enemy crew survives the ordeal, and more crew will generally offer to join you if there were more of them left after the battle.

Crew Size RestrictionsEdit

Unlike in the later game(s), the original game has no actual restriction on the size of your crew. As long as more crew can found, you can keep increasing your crew as required. The size or number of ships in your Fleet has no effect, so in theory 1,000 men can be crammed into a single Pinnace.

However, the need to feed your crew places a certain limit on effectively cramming so many men into one or more small vessels. If you cannot keep your men fed, they will Mutiny, and small ships can only carry a small amount of Food. It is possible to simply keep restocking on Food, but this leaves little time for actual piracy, and can be very expensive unless such food is constantly looted off enemy vessels.

Ship CrewEdit

Regardless of how many men are in your crew, a ship can only carry up to a specific number of men into Naval Battle, as defined by the Ship Type. Therefore, even with 200 or 2,000 men in your crew, sending a Pinnace into battle will have it crewed only by 64 men at most. Naturally, enemy vessels (which never travel in fleets to begin with) will never carry more men than they can hold either.

The amount of men on a ship, compared to the maximum amount of men allowed, will determine how quickly the ship's sails are Reefed and Filled. The fewer men a ship has on board, the more time these actions take. This can have a serious impact on the combat performance of any vessel.

The amount of men on a ship, compared to the current amount of Cannons on board, will determine how quickly the cannons are reloaded once fired. A ship with a full complement of cannons but a partial complement of crew will be forced to fire less often during combat. Nonetheless, this does not reduce the impact of the ship's broadsides, only the frequency in which they can be fired.

Also note that in this game, there is no "minimum" requirement for crew. A ship can be sailed with only one man, if it comes to that. While it would take ages to change sail states or reload the cannons, the ship can still maneuver against the enemy as normal, and fire broadsides (once loaded) as normal. Naturally of course, any Fencing match will be extremely difficult with little or no men.

Note that the number of men on an enemy ship is randomly-determined when the encounter begins. The manual provides "typical" crew complements for each Ship Type, but there are several occasions where these are ignored - specifically when a ship is crewed by pirates or pirate-hunters, in which case it will have close to a full complement of men (and Cannons). This is particularly noticeable with the Merchantman, which usually carries only a handful of men, but in pirate hands is loaded with crew and thus very dangerous.

Losing CrewEdit

Your crew cannot be fired, so the only common ways crewmembers are lost is during combat. In Naval Combat, enemy broadsides connecting with your ship will almost always cause the loss of some crew (depending on the strength of the broadside). In Land Combat, crew are often lost whenever the enemy fires at them or attacks them in melee. Additionally, any Fencing match that involves your crew (some don't) will almost universally end with at least a few crewmembers dead.

Failing to keep crew morale at a minimum will often end up with crew "missing" during roll call. This occurs when attempting to leave a Port while morale is low, usually when the crew are described as "Angry!" in the crew information screen. Thankfully, the remaining crew will therefore be less angry due to them now having a larger share of the total profit to look forward to. However this can obviously put a dent in your plans, especially if counting on a large crew for an upcoming Raid.

Failure to keep crew well fed, or failure to reduce morale below "Angry!" for a long duration of time, will ultimately lead to a Mutiny. In this case, many of your crewmembers may leave your employ immediately, whether you win or lose the ensuing duel.

Icon Pirates2004 Header Pirates2004Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004)Edit

In the 2004 game, the amount of available crew for a ship or even a an entire fleet can have important consequences. Each Ship Type has a minimum amount of crew required to sail it properly, and will otherwise sail extremely slowly on the Sailing Map and will have trouble maneuvering during Naval Combat. As with the original game, a ship with less than a certain "ideal" amount of crew will take more time to change sail states and reload its cannons.

The primary difference in this game, however, is a limit on the size of your own crew. Each ship in your Fleet can hold a certain, finite amount of men. You cannot have any more crew than the total amount allowed by all ships in your fleet.

Initial Player's Crew SizeEdit

Most careers in Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004) will begin with exactly 50 men in your crew. This can be a problem when your Starting Ship is much larger and demands more crew to sail properly in Naval Combat, though it is usually easy to get at least some additional crew right away.

Recruiting CrewEdit

2004 City Recruiting

A band of men at a Tavern offer to join your crew.

As with all other games in the series, the major source of new crewmembers is to be found at Ports, though in this game Pirate Havens will also supply crewmembers (exactly 25 men each time). Settlements and other small locations will not provide crewmembers.

When visiting a Tavern in a port, some crewmembers will be sitting on the left side of the Tavern. Clicking on these men will prompt you with a request for them to join. This prompt indicates how many men are willing to join your crew, as well as how many crewmembers you already have. You may refuse or accept this offer freely.

Ports with a larger population and smaller wealth are more likely to have more men willing to join you. Conversely, the population of a small, wealthy port will rarely want to join you at all.

There are several factors that can increase the number of men available for recruiting. For one, if there is an Annoying Captain at the tavern, defeating him in a Fencing duel will double the number of men willing to join (based on the original amount before the duel takes place). Additionally, having the rank of Captain with the nation who owns the Port will increase the number of available recruits, and the rank of Baron will increase it even further.

Another important factor is the success of your last voyage.  If you divided the plunder and your crew  "eagerly"(at least 50g apiece) took their share, you will find it much easier recruiting in ports.  If this is your first voyage, this bonus does not apply.  Try dividing as early as possible to get "eagerly" so that you do not waste gold.Once men have been recruited from a Port or Haven, none will show up in that same location for several weeks afterwards. 

In addition to shoreside recruiting, additional crew can be recruited during Naval Combat in two separate methods:

Volunteers from an Enemy ShipEdit

2004 NavalCombat Recruiting

A part of an enemy ship's crew offers to join you after the battle.

Some of the crew from defeated enemy vessels will occasionally offer to join you. This assumes that the vessel Surrendered or was successfully Boarded, rather than outright sunk. You may accept or refuse this offer freely.
This of course also requires that part of the enemy crew survives the ordeal, and more crew will generally offer to join you if there were more of them left after the battle.
Also note that your current Morale plays a great part in determining whether enemy crew will offer to join you at all, and how many will want to join. When your crew is "Mutinous" or even "Unhappy", the chance of enemy crews offering to join you is negligible at best.

Picking up Overboard CrewEdit

2004 NavalCombat CrewOverboard

A Sinking ship, dropping most of its crew complement into the water. These can be picked up and added to your crew, if you are quick enough.

In this game, direct hits on an enemy ship will sometimes cause its crewmembers to fall overboard and stay floating in the water. This can also happen to your ship, and is especially common when a ship is hit with Grape-Shot.
Additionally, when an enemy ship is sunk, a large number of its crewmembers will jump overboard immediately.
If your ship sails close enough to the floating crewman, he will be picked up and immediately added to your crew count. This is the only way for a ship to ever have more than its maximum crew capacity, though excess crew picked up this way will either be reassigned to other ships in your Fleet or "dumped" altogether if your fleet is already full, immediately after combat.
To pick up overboard crew, the center point of your ship must be very close to the overboard crewman you wish to pick up. With large ships, simply touching the prow or stern of the ship is often not "close enough", the ship must actually sail over the crewman for this to occur.

Crew Size RestrictionsEdit

2004 Message FleetSpeedReduced

When the Player's Fleet is below the "Minimum Crew" requirement for each ship, this message is displayed and the entire fleet becomes slow and sluggish.

In the 2004 game, the size of your crew has a rigid upper-limit determined by the total Crew Capacity of all ships in your Player's Fleet. Each ship, in fact, has a certain maximum crew limit as defined by its Ship Type.

If at any time your crew is larger than the imposed limit, it will be immediately reduced to match the limit. The only time where this does not happen immediately is when picking up overboard crewmembers during Naval Combat (see above), though this will be "rectified" as soon as combat is over, assuming the crew is still above the limit after damage is taken in combat (if any).

Furthermore, since ships in this game have a "Minimum Crew" requirement, the game also imposes a sort of minimum crew size. If you do not have enough crew to at least fill the minimum requirement on each ship in your Fleet, the speed of the entire fleet is reduced significantly on the Sailing Map, which can be a real annoyance since time is always of the essence.

Finally, as with the original game, the amount of food you can acquire and keep on board your ships enforces another type of limit. If you cannot feed your men, they may either leave or Mutiny. However, thanks to the maximum crew restriction described above, most ships have enough cargo capacity to feed the maximum men they can carry for a period of several months at least. This should be ample time to sail around as well as acquire more food, at least in most circumstances.

Ship CrewEdit

Regardless of how many men are in your crew, a ship can only carry up to a specific number of men into Naval Battle, as defined by the Ship Type. Therefore, even with 200 or 2,000 men in your crew, sending a Pinnace into battle will have it crewed only by 60 men at most. Naturally, enemy vessels (which never travel in fleets to begin with) will never carry more men than they can hold either.

Each ship has a minimum amount of crew required to sail it, as determined by Ship Type. If fewer men are available, the spped of Reefing and Filling the sails is significantly reduced. In addition, 3 more men are required to properly reload each cannon the ship has carried into combat. If the ratio of crew-ot-cannons is not met, reloading will be respectively slower. When a ship has (Min. Crew + (3 * Cannons On Board)) men or more on board, it is said to have an "Ideal" crew, and will operate at its peak efficiency and speed during combat. Since Min. Crew and Cannon Capacity are different for each Ship Type, the "Ideal Crew" for each ship is different. Consult the articles about the individual Ship Types to learn the Ideal Crew for each ship.

It's important to note that, unlike in the original game, your Flagship will not necessarily go into combat with a full crew even if you do have enough men to crew it to capacity. Each and every ship in your Fleet must have at least its Minimum Crew at any given time, with the excess going to crew your Flagship in combat. Therefore, if the minimum crew requirement of your non-flag ships is 100, and you have 300 crewmembers in total, 200 of these can serve on the Flagship when it goes into combat, assuming it can hold that many men.

The number of men on an enemy ship is randomly-determined when the ship is generated by the game. This depends greatly both on the ship's Type as well as its Role. For example, most traders of any type will have few crewmembers on board, while a Treasure Ship will have close to its maximum crew capacity. Troop Transport ships often carry the full complement of men on board, making them difficult to defeat in Boardings.

Also note that thanks to non-player ships in this game existing regardless of player interaction or even observation, they may lose crewmembers during combat with other non-player ships. This can make a heavily-crewed ship easier to handle, assuming the other vessel did not sink it during combat.

Losing CrewEdit

As with the original game, the primary cause for crew loss is through Naval Combat, Land Combat and Fencing matches in which crew are involved.

During Naval Combat, a broadside of Grape-Shot has the most powerful effect against crew by far, often causing a massive loss of crew if the broadside is large enough.

Whether by Grape-Shot or otherwise, hits to your ship can cause crewmembers to fall overboard. In this case, it is possible to pick these crewmembers up again by sailing over them. See more on this above in the section Picking up Overboard Crew.

Missing During Roll-CallEdit

2004 City RollCall

Crewmen will desert you if their Morale level is "Mutinous". At least this is better than an actual Mutiny.

Crew may abandon you whenever you visit any location (Port, Settlement, etcetera). This only occurs if crew Morale is "Mutinous" at the time. Often the amount of men who leave will be equal or close to the amount required to return morale to "Unhappy".
Example: Your crew has 300 men. Given the current ratio of gold-to-men, your crew are Mutinous. However, if you had only 270 men, the ratio would be enough to keep them "Unhappy". As a result, the next time you leave a shoreside location, approximately 30 men will leave your crew.

This is exceptionally important: you can use this feature to prevent Mutinies by simply sailing into any shoreside location once the Morale icon begins flashing. The excess crewmembers will leave, and the remaining crew will not be in risk of Mutiny for at least a while.

Excess CrewEdit

2004 City SellShipLoseCrew

This prompt shows up when selling a ship will result in a loss of crew-members.

As mentioned above, the 2004 game always makes sure that you do not have more crew than your entire Fleet can carry. If at any point you have more than this limit, the excess crew will disappear. For example, if you sail into a port while at your maximum crew capacity, then recruit 100 men at the Tavern, those 100 men will disappear as soon as the recruiting animation has played.

Similarly, when selling ships at a Shipwright's, the game will notify you if the sale will bring your total crew limit below the current crew size. If you agree to the sale anyway, excess crew will disappear. The same effect occurs when Scuttling ships from the Fleet Status menu, except for some reason the game will not warn you that you are about to lose crewmembers.

This information is good to know, as it means that you can control the maximum size of your crew (to keep them from Mutinying on long voyages) by controlling the maximum amount of men your ships can carry. You will never have more men than this amount, and assuming you have enough gold on hand, will never face an actual Mutiny. For more on this, see "Morale".

Reduced CasualtiesEdit

Once the Surgeon Specialist has been added to your crew, any losses you suffer during combat (whether Naval or Land Combat) are halved once combat is over. For example, if 50 men are lost during a battle, after the battle is over 25 of these are "re-added" to your crew.

Due to a programming error, this also works the other way around, when picking up overboard crewmembers from an enemy ship. If 20 men are picked up, and none are lost, after the battle you will only have 10 more crewmembers than you started with. This is due to the way the game calculates the Surgeon's effects: it averages your crew size after the battle with your crew size before the battle.


Main article: Specialist
2004 Menu FleetStatus Specialists

A list of all your collected Specialists appears on the right-hand side of the Fleet Status menu.

In addition to your basic crew of pirates and cutthroats, you can recruit up to 8 different Specialists. These are unique members of your crew, who increase performance or alter the game's mechanics in one way or another.

These men are acquired primarily by capturing specific ships. The Barmaid will sometimes point out a nearby ship carrying a Specialist, though they can also be found on just any random ship. It may take an entire career to collect all 8 Specialists. However, it is also possible to collect all 8 at once (or at least all the ones you do not already have) by defeating Marquis Montalban, the primary villain of the campaign, at his hidden fortress.

Specialists are not considered an actual part of the crew. Their existence is only acknowledged on your fleet status Fleet Status screeen. They do not count towards your crew limit, the minimum crew required to sail the ships in your fleet, nor do they increase your crew size at all.