Durability, or Hull Durability, is a non-canon term used on this wiki to describe a ship's ability to withstand damage. The higher a ship's Durability, the more damage it can take (from cannonballs or any other damage source) before sinking.

Hull Durability is determined by Ship Type. In general, the larger the ship, the better its durability. It is only affected by Upgrades (in the later game), and otherwise remains the same for any ship.

Hull Durability is not displayed as a ship attribute anywhere in the game. The term describes a game mechanic that is otherwise not explained to the player.

Icon Pirates1987 Header Pirates1987Pirates! (1987)Edit

In the original game, Hull Durability is a set value assigned to a ship based on its Ship Type. This correlates directly to the size of the ship's Cargo Hold, as do most other ship attributes. Here is a list of Ship Types arranged by Durability, from lowest to highest:

  1. Pinnace
  2. Sloop
  3. Barque
  4. Fluyt
  5. Merchantman
  6. Frigate
  7. Fast Galleon
  8. War Galleon
  9. Galleon

Damage is taken only in combat, due to enemy cannonfire. It is gauged by a single value, combining sail and hull damage together. Therefore, these two parts of the ship are damaged simultaneously rather than as separate components as in the later game.

As a result, the ship's damage value will always begin at "Sail Damage", proceeding to "Lost a Mast", then "Hull Leaking", "Ship Sinking", and finally resulting in the ship actually Sinking beneath the waves. Each time a ship drops to the next damage category, it becomes slightly slower in combat.

Higher Durability simply slows the progression from one Damage "Category" to the next. Therefore, if a hit from an 8-cannon broadside is required to drop a Sloop from "No Damage" to "Sail Damage", two such broadsides are required to drop a Frigate from "No Damage" to "Sail Damage", and 3 broadsides for a Galleon (Note: values for example purposes only). Ultimately, this means more hits (or more powerful broadsides) are required to sink a larger vessel.

Note that Durability does not alter the amount of damage a ship takes to its Crew or Cannons. This damage is determined entirely by the number of cannons that hit the ship. Therefore, an 8-cannon broadside will kill the same amount of men on a Sloop as it will on a Galleon, and destroy the same amount of cannons.

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

In Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004), Durability is once again determined by Ship Type, but it is also influenced by the Iron Scantlings upgrade. In addition, Sail Damage is tracked separately from Hull Damage, though higher durability affects both at the same time. It is also theorized (though difficult to prove) that Durability affects damage taken to Crew and Cannons.

Durability by Ship TypeEdit

Unfortunately, due to the way damage is handled in this game, it is difficult to test the Durability of each Ship Type for comparison. Randomness in damage distribution means that a large broadside can, in one instance, only kill the opponent's crewmen, while in another it will Demast the ship, and in another Sink it. Nonetheless, statistics gathered over time show that Durability is still proportional to ship size.

Therefore, the larger the ship, the more Durable it is. This would mean that a War Canoe has the lowest Durability in the game, while a Treasure Galleon or possibly a Flag Galleon has the highest. It is also assumed that within each Ship Class, the small variant has the lowest Durability and the large variant has the highest.

Durability vs. CannonfireEdit

In this game each cannonball inflicts its own damage on the enemy ship, and will only cause damage to one specific component of the ship: Hull, Sails, Crew or Cannons. If several cannonballs hit the ship at the same time, they can each strike a different component, or all may strike the same component, simultaneously.

Durability here is used to indicate how many cannon hits the "Hull" and "Sails" components can take overall before being destroyed. In the case of the hull, this means the number of individual cannonball hits required to Sink the ship. In the case of the sails, it's the number of individual cannonball hits required to Demast the ship. Note however that while Hull condition has no effect unless it reaches 0% (i.e. the ship sinks), Sail condition directly affects the speed of the ship. In other words, as the sails deteriorate due to damage, the ship becomes slower, until it is finally demasted and stops dead in the water.

Damage to the Crew and Cannons is assumed to not be affected by durability. A single cannon hit will (if it strikes either of these components) will only destroy a single Crewman or Cannon appropriately. Unfortunately, the damage system is not explained in-game, so it is difficult to ascertain this.

Iron ScantlingsEdit

The Iron Scantlings Upgrade can be installed on any ship at a Port selling this upgrade, for a price. Once installed, the ship's Durability is increased slightly, allowing it to withstand more damage.

It is currently unknown whether the Durability increase from Iron Scantlings applies to both the Hull and Sails, or whether it only affects the hull (as would be expected). If it is the first option, that means the game actually tracks two separate Durability values for a ship. Again, there is currently no data regarding this issue.