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2004 City External ProsperousCapital English

The English Port of St. Kitts, as seen in Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004).

A Port is a large town in the Caribbean, owned by one of the four European Nations. There are dozens of Ports available in any of the games, scattered around the entire map.

The player can visit a Port by sailing his ship into it or walking his crew in on foot. Each port has an array of Services, such as a local Tavern and Shipwright's. Each Port also has a Governor who will sometimes grant you audience. Some Ports are protected by Forts, and will display aggression if you get on their bad side. You can Raid Ports, looting them for treasure and/or Cargo, and can even conquer a Port for a sympathetic nation. Ports are the only locations where you may Divide the Plunder. In some games, they are also the only locations where you can save your game.

The term "Port" is used to distinguish such locations from other visitable places such as Settlements and Pirate Havens (in the later game). This can be misleading, because a few Ports are landlocked and therefore do not actually have a harbour or port-facilities. The term "City" is sometimes used instead, to defuse such misunderstandings, though most Ports are little more than shanty towns.

DefinitionEdit

A "Port" is defined as one of any number of visitable location in the Caribbean, into which the player can enter to receive Services, resupply, and conduct dealings with the major powers. Each port is controlled by a single Nation, has its own local defense force, and its own dynamic economy. Ports are placed on the map according to their real-world geographical location, and often include famous places that exist even today as major Caribbean population centers.

The colonization effort in the Americans and their outlying islands took place across the Atlantic Ocean. This meant that the kingdoms hoping to assert their dominance over these newfound areas would need to logistical capability to facilitate stable travel across the ocean. They began constructing small ports in their new colonies that could receive ocean-going ships, and erected fortifications and local militias to protect these ports. As immigration to the new world commenced, many of these ports swelled with a population comprised of both Europeans and their African slaves. Some ports remained important strategic strongholds, serving as bases for the operation of military forces in the region. Others yet facilitated trade between the colonies and Europe. And of course, wherever suitable land was available, some ports began production of the food required to sustain all these settlements.

By the earliest Era available for play in Pirates!, the Caribbean is already teeming with ports, strewn all the way from the Spanish Main (northern South America), through the large islands of Cuba and Hispaniola, all the way to Florida in the north and the Bay of Mexico in the west. Naturally, many ports were also established outside the geographical scope of the game, as far south as Argentina and as far north as Canada. As time moves on, the European kingdoms expand their efforts by colonizing the Windward Islands, Jamaica, and even the Bay of Mexico.

As the Captain of a sailing vessel in the Caribbean, you will use ports as you primary "bases", an anchor tying your privateering world to the colonial powers both in the Americas and back in Europe. Ports grant a good variety of services, some of which are absolutely vital to your operations. Your interaction with and inside Ports is absolutely crucial to your career.

Locating and Entering a PortEdit

Ports are clearly visible on the Sailing Map, and will always appear on the World Map if the game offers one (otherwise they appear on the map supplied inside the game box, in the older games).

To enter a port, simply sail your Flagship into it on the Sailing Map. Depending on the game and circumstances, you may get a menu offering several options on initial interaction, such as whether you would like to Raid the Port, Sneak inside, or simply sail in peacefully.

Once a Port has been entered, the game displays the Port Interaction menu, where you can choose what activity you would like to perform next.

Note that Ports are also accessible through Overland Travel. Simply move your party into the Port, the same as you would with your ship.

ServicesEdit

Each Port has the following Service providers available:

In addition, sufficiently-large ports also have a Governor, who provides Promotions and may have a Daughter you can romance. In the later game, all Ports have a Governor (see below for more information on this).

Although some services many occasionally be denied to you, this denial is circumstantial: any Port will offer all the above-listed services if conditions are right.

OwnershipEdit

Each Port is owned and controlled by one of the four European Nations. Your relationship with the owning nation determines several aspects of your interactions with that Port.

For example, Merchants in Spanish Ports will refuse to deal with you if you are considered an enemy of Spain, unless your Rank with Spain is very high. In the later game, all Ranks will actually grant you cheaper or better services at any Port belonging to the nation that gave you the Rank. Governors may give you offers or missions if your reputation with their nation is high enough, not to mention a chance of romancing their Daughters.

Of course, as explained further below, bad relations with a nation (or a specific Port!) can also deny you access to the Port entirely - unless done so by force or by guile.

Ownership of Ports is fluid in any of the games. Nations will occasionally conquer Ports belonging to other nations. Furthermore, you yourself can conquer Ports and hand them to one of the four nations, shaping the geo-political situation in the Caribbean as you see fit.

EconomyEdit

Each Port has a certain set of characteristics that define its economy. These parameters are tracked individually for each port, and may increase or decrease occasionally as time flows on.

  • Population: The number of people living here.
  • Wealth: A relative measure of the well-being of the populace.
  • Gold: The amount of money that can be looted from this Port after a successful Raid.
  • Cargo: The amount of each type of cargo available for trade here.
  • Cargo Price: The price paid for each individual type of cargo.
  • Gold On Hand: The amount of money the Port's Merchant can spend on Cargo sold by the player.

The initial values of these parameters for each Port are pre-determined based on the Era you choose to play in. However, all these values are dynamic. Economic Events occur often, and can can have many ramifications. These factors are even influenced by the player's actions, especially in the later game where Economic Events are based on whether ships are allowed to physically reach the Port in order to influence its economy, for good or bad.

Military ForceEdit

Each Port has a standing militia comprised of anywhere from 10 soldiers all the way up to 1,000 or more. The number of available militia fluctuates during the game, due to both the player's Raids on that Port as well as Economic Events and even just randomly. The game also tries to match a Port's defenses to its Population and Wealth factors (see above).

The main purpose of these Militia is to defend the Port from the player's attacks. Attacking a well-manned Port with a small crew can easily end with defeat, especially since Ports can have hundreds of defenders, while manning a pirate crew of hundreds can be quite difficult.

In addition, Ports may also construct static defenses comprised of anywhere from 1 to 4 Forts. These are basically stone castles armed with Cannons, which can fire at your ships or coordinate a defense during Land Combat. The more Forts, the harder it will be to attack a Port, even if the number of militiamen it has for defense is smaller than your pirate crew.

Forts can also deny entry to a Port entirely. If the Port or its controlling nation are particularly angry with you, Forts may open fire if you try to enter the Port peacefully, potentially sinking one of your ships. In the later game, they will deny entry to the city entirely. In such situations, entry can be gained by Sneaking into the city, though this denies some services to you.

Saving the GameEdit

In the older games, Port-side is the only place where the game can be saved at all. You will not be able to save at any time outside a Port.

In the later game, it is actually impossible to save once inside a Port (or any other location)! You can only save while at sea. However, the game automatically makes a separate save game the moment you enter a Port. This save-game is over-written on each entry into a Port.

Ports by EraEdit

Not every Port appears on the Caribbean map in every game you play. While some Ports are always present, such as Havana or Eleuthera, other Ports may appear only in specific Eras, with at least one Port appearing in only a single Era (Yaguana, in the original game).

In addition, in the original game a Port's name and nationality may change depending on the Era. For example, in the islands off Central America are devoid of all settlement in the earlier Eras of 1560 and 1600. Then in 1620, the English colony of Providence appears on one of the islands, which in 1640 is conquered by the Spanish and is thereafter known as Santa Catalina. In the 2004 game things are not so dramatic, as some Ports simply do not appear in earlier Eras, but no change of ownership occurs except through in-game Invasions.

Icon Pirates1987 Header Pirates1987Pirates! (1987)Edit

1987 SailingMap Port

A Port, as it appears on the Sailing Map in the original game.

In Pirates! (1987), Ports are pretty much the only visitable locations available (unless you count Lost Cities, which are not really visitable, just discoverable).

Depending on your selected Era, there will be between 30 to 39 Ports available to visit on the Caribbean map. A list of all Ports available can be reviewed on the "Cities" menu, accessible from the information menu. Selecting a city will bring up its details.

Each Port provides a Tavern, with all Tavern services offered if visited enough times. It also offers a place to Divide the Plunder. All Ports have a Merchant's that doubles as a Shipwright's, but some Spanish Ports will deny you access to it if your standing with Spain is not sufficiently good. Most Ports have a Governor which can be talked to once per visit, though some are defined as "too small" and therefore have no Governor at all.

All of a Port's parameters, such as Wealth and Military Force are predetermined at the start of your career, based on the selected Era. They will, however, change during the game due to Economic Events triggered randomly by the game. Once such an event occurs at a Port, its details become "unknown" until information can be purchased about it from Travelers, or the Port itself visited in person.

Initial InteractionEdit

1987 City EntryMenu

The Port Interaction menu comes up when your ship or crew makes contact with it on the Sailing Map.

Upon sailing your Flagship into a Port (or walking your men inside [[Overland Travel|overland), you are always presented with a menu allowing you to choose you initial interaction with the Port.

You will always have these four choices presented:

  • Sail into harbor (or March into town, if entering by land)
  • Attack town
  • Sneak into town
  • Leave town

Sailing or Marching InEdit

Choosing to sail into (or march into) the Port will take you to the main Services menu (see below).
However, as explained below, if the Port is fortified and belongs to a nation that is not on good terms with you, it may open fire at you. This usually results in one of your ships being sunk (if you came in by sea).
To counter this, you can try to sneak in (see below), or simply land your troops nearby and march into the port. The Fort will still fire on you if you try to march in, but will cause no damage to your men. Sufficient attempts to enter will invariably result in you entering the Port undamaged.

AttackingEdit

Main article: Raid
Electing to Attack a Port results in one of three possible outcomes:
  • Fort Combat: A ship-to-fort battle where your chosen Flagship exchanges gunfire with the fort. This specialized type of Naval Combat allows you to hurt the Fort with your cannons, but also exposes you to ship Damage, and limits your attacking force to however many men your Flagship can carry on board. Once your ship manages to reach the fort itself, a Fencing match begins between your men and the remaining defenders. This outcome occurs if you chose to attack a port after sailing your ship into it, and only if there is at least one Fort protecting the town.
  • Overland Combat: A land-based attack where your men attempt to outmaneuver and ambush enemy troops in the fields surrounding the Port, using both ranged and melee combat. Once your men manage to reach the fort itself, a Fencing match begins between them and the remaining defenders. This outcome occurs if you attach a port after matching your men into it by land, and only if there is at least one Fort protecting the town.
  • Fort Melee: Your men rush into the town and fight with the defenders in melee. This outcome occurs only if the town does not have any Fort to protect it, or if you attacked after marching your men in overland and considerably outnumber the defenders (otherwise Overland Combat ensues instead). Note that all attacks on a Port end in a Fort Duel, but in this specific outcome no Naval Combat or Overland Combat are required beforehand.
Once the defenders are defeated, the Port is then looted for whatever Gold and Cargo can be found. Note that if the citizens manage to get news about your impending attack, they may hide some of their Gold and Cargo from you.
If (after the entire battle is concluded) the surviving defenders are heavily outnumbered by your forces, you will also get the option to install a new Governor at this Port, belonging to a different nationality than the Port's previous owners.

Sneaking InEdit

Main article: Sneaking
Another way to get past a hostile Fort is to Sneak into the city. When this option is chosen, the game randomly determines whether the player is successful in this attempt, based primarily on the number of Soldiers the Port has at the time.
Successful sneaking allows access to all the Port's Services except Dividing The Plunder. You can even visit the Governor!
A failed sneaking attempt leads to a one-on-one Fencing Duel with the captain of the local guard. If you win this match, you will immediately leave the Port entirely. Otherwise, you are thrown in Prison.

ServicesEdit

1987 City ServicesMenu

The Services Menu of a Port allows you to choose which actions you wish to perform here.

Once a Port is entered, the game shows you the Services menu. You can choose which action to take here.

The following actions appear on the Services menu:

Visit the GovernorEdit

Main article: Governor
1987 City Governor Basic

A Governor dispenses political news, advice, and possibly offers Delivery Missions and Promotions!

Visiting the local Governor allows conducting affairs with the Nation controlling this Port. Firstly, the Governor will notify you of this Nation's current relationship with other nations, mentioning both Wars and Alliances. Depending on your relationship with this Nation, you may be allowed to purchase Letter Of Marque, or gain a Promotion (and subsequently the location of an Evil Spaniard).
If the Governor is sufficiently pleased with you (this requires at least one Rank or a Letter Of Marque with his Nation), he may offer to send you on a Delivery Mission to the Governor of another Port. Additionally, you may get the chance to meet the Governor's Daughter, and potentially Romance her.
Once the Governor has been visited, the option to visit him again is colored in bright red and becomes unavailable. This option will only become available again at this specific Port one month later.
Also note that in this game, some Ports do not have a Governor. This occurs primarily with ports that have a significantly low Population (less than 600 colonists). Economic Events that increase population may or may not make a Governor available at such Ports.
Visiting a Governor costs 2-4 days of game-time.

Visit a TavernEdit

Main article: Tavern
1987 City Tavern

At the Tavern, randomly-selected events enable Recruiting additional crew and purchasing information and Treasure Maps.

When a Tavern is visited, a succession of anywhere between 1 and 5 different events will occur:
  1. The tavernkeeper listens to you describe your most recent exploits. This event always occurs every time you visit a Tavern.
  2. A group of outlaws offer to join your crew. This event can only occur on your first visit to a Tavern after entering a Port (though it may or may not occur at all).
  3. A Traveler offers to sell you information about another Port whose details are currently unknown.
  4. A scruffy pirate offers to sell you a Treasure Map.
  5. A News Log appears, detailing major events occuring over the past few months. This event will always occur on your first visit to a Tavern after entering a Port, and will not occur on subsequent visits until you leave said Port and come back.
You can "Visit a Tavern" as many times as you'd like. Each visit to a Tavern may cause different events to occur, so you can, for instance, visit a Tavern repeatedly in the hope of finding someone selling a Treasure Map.
Note, however, that each visit to a Tavern costs 2-4 days of game-time.

Trade with a MerchantEdit

Main article: Merchant
1987 City TradeMenu

The local Merchant's. He will buy anything you're selling (as long as he can afford it) and will offer to trade his own Cargo.

A visit to the Merchant brings up the trading screen, which allows buying and selling Cargo. The Merchant has a finite amount of money to use in trading, as well as a finite amount of each type of Cargo on hand for sale. Note that Merchants will never sell any Cannons.
Merchants in Spanish Ports may refuse to see you altogether. This occurs when visiting a major Spanish Port without having a significant Rank with the Spanish. Such a refusal will persist until said Rank can be acquired. The requried Rank differs from Port to Port.
Merchants also double as Shipwrights. If you have more than one ship in your Fleet, the option to sell ships will show up before trade commences. Note that the game does not warn you whether or not you will have enough Cargo capacity to keep all your cargo after the sale is concluded.
If any of the ships in your Fleet are damaged, an option to repair these ships will also come up prior to the trade menu.
You can revisit the Merchant's as many times as you like. Note that each visit costs 2-4 days of game-time.

Dividing Up the PlunderEdit

Main article: Dividing The Plunder
A Port is the only place where you can Divide the Plunder.
This effectively ends a voyage, splitting the hoard of Gold you currently own between all crewmembers. You get a fixed percentage of said gold, based on your current Difficulty Level. Your share of the gold is added to your Personal Wealth.
Once this division is completed, you can commence another voyage, starting fresh with nothing but your Flagship, 10% of the profit from the voyage that just ended, a handful of crew and some cargo. This also gives you the chance to raise your Difficulty level, with the hope of making more money off the next voyage.
Alternately, you can Retirement retire from adventuring altogether, ending the game and receiving your final score.
Note that once the Plunder has been Divided, you cannot undo it without reloading a saved-game. The game will prompt you for confirmation if you choose the "Divide up the Plunder" option in the Port Services menu. Also note that it is a good idea to sell all your excess ships and cargo before doing so.

Port OwnershipEdit

At the start of any career, each Port appearing on the map is controlled by one of the four European Nations. This is determined by the rigid Starting Condition rules specific to the Era you're playing, so each time you start a game in the same Era all ports will belong to the same Nationalities.

The nationality of a Port primarily determines the following characteristics:

  • Port Hostility, which is based directly on your relations with the Port's owning Nation.
  • The nationality of the Governor of this Port, if any.
  • If the Port belongs to Spain, the availability of trading with the local Merchant.
  • The nationality of ships encountered in the area around the Port.

During the course of your career, the nationality of any Port may change - either due to random events, or due to the player's actions:

  1. Nations may occasionally Invade Ports belonging to other nations that are At War with them. This occurs randomly, and the rules governing it are unclear. Invasions are quite rare, occuring around once per year if not even less often. There is no way to prevent an Invasion from taking place - it simply occurs on its own, at random, and is subsequently reported in News Logs.
  2. The player may conquer a Port and install a new Governor belonging to another nation. This is only allowed if the player's force strongly outnumbers the defenders. It requires a successful Raid on said Port, of course.

Port HostilityEdit

Main article: Port Hostility
When your relationship with a nation goes sour, its Ports may display over aggression towards you. This is only possible if a Port is Fortified. The Fort will usually open fire at you when you try to sail into or march into the Port it is protecting, potentially sinking one of your ships.

Governor NationalityEdit

Main article: Governor
The Governor of a Port will inform you of the international relations his country has with other countries. In addition, he has the authority to offer you a Letter Of Marque (if his nation is offering one) for a price based on the degree of hostility that nation has towards you. Finally, if the nation is sufficiently pleased with your recent exploits, you may receive a Promotion from the governor.

Spanish MerchantsEdit

1987 City TradeRefusal

The Spanish have strict rules about who they can and cannot trade with. Fortunately, these rules are enforced only in large, influential Ports.

The Spanish have laws against trading with pirates, that are strictly enforced in its more affluent Ports. Unless your character has sufficient Ranks with the Spanish, some Spanish Ports will refuse to trade with you entirely. The required Rank varies from port to port.
Also note that since Merchants double as Shipwrights in this game, denial of trade also means denial of ship repair and ship sale!

Territorial WatersEdit

1987 Combat TerritorialWaters

The area near a Port is considered the territory of its controlling nation. You are more likely to meet ships belonging to that nation in this area.

The area around a Port is said to be controlled by the owning nation. This is mentioned whenever an encounter with another ship occurs within that territory. Encounters in territorial waters have an increased chance for the encountered ship to belong to the nation that owns these waters, especially Pirate Hunters dispatched by that nation.

Port EconomyEdit

1987 City Details

A Port's "Details Box" shows all economic parameters.

The economical situation of a Port is tracked throughout the entire game. All ports have a variable tracking the following values:
  • Population: The number of people living here.
  • Wealth: A general measure of "quality-of-life" at this Port.
  • Gold: The amount of Gold available for looting.
  • Gold On Hand: The amount of Gold the local Merchant has available for trading.

The first three stats are shown on the Port's details box, visible when entering the Port and sometimes also in the "Cities" menu available for vieweing through the information menu. The fourth stat is known only when you start trading with the local Merchant.

These four factors will change during the game, due to Economic Events occuring randomly. Several such events occur every month, and each event targets a randomly-selected port. While it is unlikely, it's possible for a port's economic statistics to vary wildly during your career.

PopulationEdit

The number of people living in this Port. This appears to influence the number of recruits available at the local Tavern, with a higher population providing more recruits.

WealthEdit

The comparative "well-being" of the populace. The primary influence of this factor is on the price of Cargo at the local Merchant's, and may also affect the number of Recruits available at the local Tavern, with lower Wealth encouraging more recruits to seek the pirating life.
In Spanish Ports, the Wealth stat appears to influence the required Rank to trade with the local Merchant.

GoldEdit

This is simply a measure of the amount of Gold that will be looted from this Port if successfully Raided by the player. Note that on occasion, a Port's residents may be forewarned of the player's intentions and may hide part of their Loot.
Some Ports have 0 Gold. Raiding these Ports yields no loot.

Gold On HandEdit

This is the amount of gold the local Merchant has on hand. It determines how much he can spend on buying Cargo from the player. This replenishes every once in a while. The amount of Gold On Hand is apparently determined by the Wealth stat.

Military ForceEdit

Each Port has a certain number of soldiers assigned to protect it. That number can be as small as 10 men, and as large as several hundreds (in the 1600 Era, Havana starts with 500 soldiers!). It can also have anywhere between 0 and 4 Forts protecting it from attack.

SoldiersEdit

Each port has at least 10 armed soldiers serving as its defensive militia. These soldiers will serve as the Port's defensive force in case of attack. Therefore, the more soldiers a Port has, the harder it is to Raid that Port.
All defenders will participate in both Fort Melees and Overland Combat occuring here. During Overland Combat, a large number of men will increase the chance of Cavalry appearing to confront you.
The number of soldiers in a Port will randomly fluctuate during the game. In addition, Raids performed by the player against a Port will naturally lower its available soldiers, assuming any are killed during the battle.

FortsEdit

1987 City FortOpensFire

Forts can be extremely dangerous if you just try to sail into a Port without making sure that it's friendly with you.

Additionally, a Port may have anywhere between 0 and 4 Forts. These provide ranged protection to the Port, making it significantly harder to Raid. Any attack initiated on a Fortified Port will result in immediate Fort Combat or Overland Combat (depending on whether you approached the Port by sea or by land, respectively), unless your crew heavily outnumbers the defenders in which case an overland attack will go straight to Fort Melee.
Furthermore, if the Port has one or more Forts it can prevent even peaceful entry. This occurs if your relations with the Port's owner nation have gone bad. In such cases, the Forts will open fire at your ship or men as they try to enter. If a seaside entry is attempted, this usually results in the sinking of one of your ships (the chances are increased the more forts this city has). If a land entry is attempted, the Forts will fire but do no damage, and you can repeatedly attempt to enter until eventually you will be successful.
More Forts will also increase the number of Cannons firing at your ship or men during Naval and Overland Combat with this town. Assaulting a town with 4 Forts can therefore be extermely hazardous!

Ports By EraEdit

In the original game, there are 57 different Ports available in total. However, the actual number of Ports available on the Caribbean map are directly determined by the chosen Era.

Each Era features between 30 and 39 Ports, with the early Eras (1560, 1600) having fewer, and the later eras (1660, 1680) having more. Therefore, some Ports are unavailable in earlier eras, especially the many non-Spanish ports along the Lesser Antilles, on Hispaniola and Jamaica, and in the nothern area of the Greater Antilles. Most Spanish ports appear in all Eras.

Port ownership is also not the same in every Era. For example, the port of Grand Bahama changes hands from French-owned in 1560-1600 to Dutch-owned in 1620. Some Ports will even change names when changing ownership, such as the Spanish port of Santiago De La Vega turning into the English Port Royale. One name change (Isabella->La Vega) even occurs without any change of ownership.

Some Ports disappear from the map after a certain Era. A good example is the Spanish port of Yaguana, on the western coast of Hispaniola, which appears only in 1560.

The Economic details of each Port are rigidly determined at the start of your career, again based on pre-set, Era-dependent values. Spanish ports in the earlier eras are extremely strong, while non-Spanish Ports are little more than tiny villages (with only one non-Spanish port having a Governor in 1560!). This changes to a more-or-less balanced Spanish/Non-Spanish distribution of wealth and power as the eras progress.

For a complete list of all Ports available in each Era and their starting statistics, read the specific Era articles.

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

While Ports in Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004) have a strong functional resemblence to Ports in all other Pirates! games, several key differences have been introduced in this version that have great impact on the game.

For starters, Ports are not the only "visitable" locations anymore. There are also Settlements, Pirate Havens, Indian Villages and Jesuit Missions. Of these, Settlements and Pirate Havens offer pretty much the same Services as a Port, with several small but important differences. Indian Villages and Jesuit Missions are quite different.

Ports now dispatch ships to deliver Cargo, and Gold to other Ports. They'll send out Pirate Hunters to chase you, Raiders to attack enemy shipping, and even Invasion Forces to take other cities.

Economic changes in a Port are no longer driven by random occurences (at least not on any major scale). Instead they occur when different types of ships manage to enter the city - including both friendly and enemy ships.

Raids are also handled differently now, with the Fort Combat completely removed and massive changes to Overland Combat. Forts themselves will now fire at you on the Sailing Map, and deny access to a town entirely unless assaulted.

Ports are also less unstable across Eras. Ports never "disappear" from one Era to the next, nor do they change hands between Eras. Instead, the earlier Eras simply offer fewer ports than the later ones.

Initial InteractionEdit

2004 City EntryMenu

This Port Interaction menu appears only in certain circumstances. More often, you'll simply sail into the Port peacefully.

If a Port is not sufficiently Hostile towards you, sailing your Flagship into a Port will immediately put you inside, with no additional interaction required.

In other circumstances, such as entering through Overland Travel or with high Port Hostility, the interaction menu will appear. This offers at least two of the following options as required:

  • Enter town
  • Attack the town
  • Sneak into town
  • Leave Town

Entering the TownEdit

This option only appears when entering a Port by land, and only if the port is not too hostile.
If selected, this option simply takes you into the town peacefully, same as sailing in.

Attacking the TownEdit

Main article: Raid
The option to attack a town always appears on the interaction menu if entering a Port by land, or if entering the Port by sea while its Port Hostility is high enough. Occasionally, this option will be "greyed-out" (unselectable) if the number of men in your Crew is too small compared to the number of defenders in the city.
Upon attacking a Port, the game looks at the number of men defending this port. If this number is above 100 men, the game launches a Land Combat mini-game. In Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004), Land Combat is a turn-based strategy mini-game where you must whittle down and defeat approaching enemy troops using ambushes and flanking maneuvers. It is also possible to outmaneuver the enemy and get one of your units to the Fort at the other end of the battlefield, resulting in a Fencing match with the remaining defenders.
The same Fencing match will trigger if the Port has fewer than 100 defenders available when it is attacked. In this case, however, no preceding Land Combat will occur.
Once the defenders are defeated, the Port is then looted for whatever Gold can be found.
If (after the entire battle is concluded) the surviving defenders are heavily outnumbered by your forces, you will also get the option to install a new Governor at this Port, belonging to a different nationality than the Port's previous owners.
Finally, after any Raid is concluded, you will be taken to the Port Services menu, as though you have just entered the Port peacefully!

Sneaking into TownEdit

Main article: Sneaking
The option to sneak into town is only possible if the Port has a high Hostility towards you. It can be performed when trying to enter both by sea and by land.
Sneaking triggers a mini-game where you must navigate through the Port's streets and alleyways while avoiding the guards. You will need to locate your destination, either the Governor's mansion or the local Tavern without the aid of a map. Once arriving in either of these, you will be taken to the appropriate interaction scene, and once leaving that scene you will immediately leave the city entirely. If caught by a guard during the Sneaking mini-game, you'll be thrown in Prison.

ServicesEdit

Each and every Port offers the following services, which are always available:

Note that the Shipwright's will not be available if entering the town by Overland Travel while your Flagship itself is very far away. If the Flagship is anchored nearby, the Shipwright's will be available even if you don't sail into town.

Also note that none of these services costs any time to visit (see more on this below). You can revisit each and every Service as many times as you want (except Dividing the Plunder, of course).

Visit the GovernorEdit

Main article: Governor
2004 City Governor English Tall

Visiting an English Governor.

Visiting the local Governor allows conducting affairs with the Nation controlling this Port.
Firstly, the Governor will notify you of this Nation's current relationship with other nations, mentioning both Wars and Alliances. He will then mention favourable or unfavourable events that occured recently which influenced your relationship with his nation, such as capturing an enemy ship.
If you have gained sufficient favour with this Governor's nation, he will promote you on the spot, revealing the benefits you receive from your new Rank as well. Otherwise he may simply remind you which Rank you are working towards.
Next up, the Governor may inform you of a Peace Treaty Ship or Ultimatum Ship leaving this Port and ask you to Escort Mission escort it. Your reply to this request is largely irrelevant, only determining whether said ship will follow your Fleet or sail on its own towards its destination. If such a ship has already been dispatched recently, the Governor may simply remind you that it has been dispatched, showing you a map of its current location.
Finally, if your Rank with this Port's owning nation is sufficiently high, you may get the chance to meet the Governor's Daughter, and potentially Romance her.
You may repeatedly visit the Governor to hear the same conversation you did earlier - it is highly unlikely that he will say anything new or promote you again. In addition, there are only a few specific circumstances where the Governor's Daughter will approach you on your second (or later) visit to the same Governor.
Once you leave the Port, you can turn around and re-enter to "reset" the Governor - your next visit will count as being a "first visit" again, so you can meet the Governor's Daughter once more.

Visit the TavernEdit

Main article: Tavern
2004 City Tavern

The local Tavern offers several actions for you to perform.

In this game, the Tavern is a graphical interactive menu, where you can choose what actions you wish to perform. You may perform them in any order (with slight exceptions), and may forgo one or more actions if you like.
  • Talk with the Bartender to hear gossip about nearby Ports and other important matters. You can sometimes to this several times to get more information.
  • Talk with the Barmaid to hear gossip about nearby Ships and other important matters. You can sometimes do this several times to get more information.
  • Talk with the band of pirates to Recruit them into your crew. If you refuse their joining offer, they'll remain at the tavern and you can talk to them again if you change your mind.
  • Talk with the Mysterious Traveler to acquire Items, Treasure Maps, or whatever else he has to offer. He'll only offer one Item or piece of information, and whether you refuse or accept, he cannot be talked to anymore.
You may leave the tavern freely and come back to it as many times as you'd like. However, the options available at the tavern do not "reset" each time you do this. You will only be able to get new information and/or items by leaving the Port and sailing back in. Note that recruitable men take a while to reappear, even if you do leave the port.
Occasionally, an Annoying Captain will also be present at the Tavern, harassing to the Barmaid. You may approach and challenge him to a one-on-one Fencing Duel at any time. As long as he remains in the tavern however, he will prevent both the Barmaid and Bartender from talking with you. If you do defeat the Annoying Captain, 10 additional men will be willing to join your crew, assuming you have not yet recruited the men already waiting in the Tavern, if any.
In addition, if you're looking to find a Named Criminal hiding in a Port, you'll need to talk with the Bartender to set up a one-on-one Fencing Duel with him.

Trade with the MerchantEdit

Main article: Merchant
2004 City TradeMenu

The local Merchant trades Cargo. Prices are determined by the local economy.

In this game, the local Merchant is only responsible for trading with the player. He has a certain amount of Gold and Cargo to trade, and will buy anything you have to offer as long as he can afford it. Some Merchants may not trade with heretics of your colony.
The amount of Gold and Cargo the Merchant has is determined by the town's Wealth, Population, and unique pre-defined characteristics. The available Cargo and Gold will only reset after several weeks away from the Port, so if you are trying to sell more than the Merchant can afford, you may need to seek another Port to sell whatever he could not buy.

Consult with the ShipwrightEdit

Main article: Shipwright's
2004 City Shipwright

You'll visit the Shipwright's often, to repair damage and sell captured ships, not to mention Upgrade the ships you want to keep.

If you enter the Port by sea, or if your Flagship is anchored a short distance away from the Port, you'll be able to visit the local Shipwright's.
Here you can repair any damaged ships in your Fleet for a price, sell any of your ships, or install Upgrades.
A Shipwright offers one type of Upgrade for sale, which can be installed on any of your ships that do not already have that upgrade - assuming you can afford it. The type of upgrade sold at a specific Port is static, and remains the same throughout your career - at least for the most part.

Divide the PlunderEdit

Main article: Dividing The Plunder
2004 City DividePlunder

Ports are the only locations where you may Divide the Plunder between you and your men.

A Port is the only place where you can Divide the Plunder.
This effectively ends a voyage, splitting the hoard of Gold you currently own between all crewmembers. You get a fixed percentage of said gold, based on your current Difficulty Level. Your share of the gold is added to your Personal Wealth.
Once this division is completed, you can commence another voyage, starting fresh with nothing but your Flagship, 10% of the profit from the voyage that just ended, a handful of crew and some cargo. This also gives you the chance to raise your Difficulty level, with the hope of making more money off the next voyage.
Alternately, you can Retire from adventuring altogether, ending the game and receiving your final score.
Note that once the Plunder has been Divided, you cannot undo it without reloading a saved-game. The game will prompt you for confirmation if you choose the "Divide the Plunder" option in the Port Services menu. Also note that it is a good idea to sell all your excess ships and cargo before doing so.

Port OwnershipEdit

At the start of any career, each Port appearing on the map is controlled by one of the four European Nations. This is determined by the rigid Starting Condition rules specific to the Era you're playing, so each time you start a game in the same Era all ports will belong to the same Nationalities.

The nationality of a Port primarily determines the following characteristics:

  • Port Hostility, which is based directly on your relations with the Port's owning Nation.
  • The nationality of the Governor of this Port, if any.
  • If the Port belongs to Spain, the availability of trading with the local Merchant.
  • The nationality of ships spawned by this Port.

During the course of your career, the nationality of any Port may change - either due to AI-driven events, or due to the player's actions:

  1. Ports may occasionally dispatch an Invasion Force ship to take another Port belonging to a nation that is At War with them. This does not occur very frequently, unless a nation is about to be wiped out (in which case it will try to take as many Ports as it can from any of its enemies it can reach). Invasion Force ships can be intercepted by both the player and AI-controlled Raiders. Even if they reach their destination, there is a certain chance that the local defenders will be able to prevent the Invasion from succeeding.
  2. The player may conquer a Port and install a new Governor belonging to another nation. This is only allowed if the player's force strongly outnumbers the defenders. It requires a successful Raid on said Port, of course.

Port HostilityEdit

Main article: Port Hostility
In this game, Port Hostility is tracked individually for every Port rather than every nation. When a ship is attacked on the Sailing Map, the port that spawned it will become angrier. An important visible cue to this hostility is the flag flying above the Port on the Sailing Map: The faster it waves, the angrier the Port. An angry Port may dispatch Pirate Hunters to chase you whenever you come near it. In addition, if the Port is protected by a Fort, it will fire cannonballs at your Fleet ships on the Sailing Map, and will deny you peaceful entry by sea or land. By pressing Spacebar when sailing near an enemy port, you can Bombard it, slowly lowering the Quality of Life, and sometimes spawning a pirate hunter at that port.

Governor NationalityEdit

Main article: Governor
The Governor of a Port will inform you of the international relations his country has with other countries. In addition, he has the authority to offer you a Letter Of Marque from his nation. Finally, if the nation is sufficiently pleased with your recent exploits, you may receive a Promotion from the governor. Ranks with said nation are required for Romancing the Governor's Daughter.

Spanish MerchantsEdit

The Spanish have laws against trading with pirates, that are strictly enforced in its more affluent Ports. Unless your character has sufficient Ranks with the Spanish, some Spanish Ports will refuse to trade with you entirely. The required Rank varies from port to port.

Port EconomyEdit

The economical situation of a Port is tracked throughout the entire game. All ports have a variable tracking the following values:

  • Population: The number of people living here.
  • Wealth: A general measure of "quality-of-life" at this Port.
  • Gold: The amount of Gold available for looting.
  • Gold On Hand: The amount of Gold the local Merchant has available for trading.

Wealth is visible in the caption floating above the physical Port on the Sailing Map. Population and Wealth are both displayed when inside the Port, as well as in the port's data when it is clicked in the World Map. Gold On Hand is only known when trading with the local Merchant, while Gold is only discovered once the Port is successfully Raided and looted.

These four factors will change during the game, primarily due to ships with specific assignments sailing in. For example, the common Immigrant Ship will raise the Port's population, while a Pirate Raider will reduce its Wealth (if it can defeat the Port's defenders). Intercepting such ships will prevent major changes to the Port's economy, though it will also randomly fluctuate in small amounts over time as well.

PopulationEdit

The number of people living in this Port. This appears to influence the number of recruits available at the local Tavern, with a higher population providing more recruits.
As a Port's population increases, its physical appearance on the Sailing Map will also change. Naturally, it will become larger the more people live in it.

WealthEdit

The comparative "well-being" of the populace. The primary influence of this factor is on the price of Cargo at the local Merchant's, and may also affect the number of Recruits available at the local Tavern, with lower Wealth encouraging more recruits to seek the pirating life.
In Spanish Ports, the Wealth stat appears to influence the required Rank to trade with the local Merchant, though this may also be influences by pre-set unique properties of the Port itself.
The Wealth of a port is visible on its caption in the Sailing Map. Its physical appearance will also change, from dull and darker (lower Wealth) to bright and colorful (higher Wealth).

GoldEdit

This is simply a measure of the amount of Gold that will be looted from this Port if successfully Raided by the player. Some Ports have 0 Gold. Raiding these Ports yields no loot.
The amount of Gold available for looting is influenced directly by the Population and Wealth of a Port. It is not possible to accurately tell how much gold will be looted from a Port before actually doing so.

Gold On HandEdit

This is the amount of gold the local Merchant has on hand. It determines how much he can spend on buying Cargo from the player. This replenishes every once in a while. The amount of Gold On Hand is apparently determined by the Wealth stat.

Military ForceEdit

Each Port has a certain number of soldiers assigned to protect it. That number can be as small as 50 men, and as large as several hundred or more. It can also have anywhere between 0 and 4 Forts protecting it from attack.

SoldiersEdit

Each port has at least 20 armed soldiers serving as its defensive militia. These soldiers will serve as the Port's defensive force in case of attack. Therefore, the more soldiers a Port has, the harder it is to Raid that Port.
All defenders will participate in both Fort Melees and Overland Combat occuring here. During Overland Combat, the ratio between your men and the defenders determines how many units each side gets, and how many men are assigned to each unit. A proportionally larger number of defenders will increase the chance of Scouts, Bowmen and Cavalry appearing to confront you.
The number of soldiers in a Port will randomly fluctuate during the game, in small amounts. In addition, any Troop Transport or Military Payroll ship that manages to enter the Port will significantly increase the number of soldiers protecting it. On the other hand, Invasion Forces, Indian War Canoes and Pirate Raiders entering the Port may significantly reduce the number of soldier stationed here, unless of course they manage to overpower the defenders, in which case they only influence the power's ownership, Population, or Wealth, respectively.
In addition, Raids performed by the player against a Port will naturally lower its available soldiers, assuming any are killed during the battle.

FortsEdit

Additionally, a Port may have anywhere between 0 and 4 Forts. These are visible on the Sailing Map right outside the Port. The number of Forts is directly related to the number of Soldiers defending the city.
A Port with 1 or more Forts protecting it can deny you peaceful entry if its Port Hostility level is high enough, and Hostility will also cause these Forts to open fire on your ship on the Sailing Map. The more Forts present, the more damage each cannonball will cause when it hits one of your ships.

Spawning ShipsEdit

Unlike previous games, in Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004) all non-player ships are physical, AI-controlled entities that can be seen sailing to and from the various locations strewn around the Caribbean. Many of these ships will sail from Ports, and almost all ships will head towards a Port as their destination.

TradersEdit

Main article: Trader
Traders are by far the most common Ship Role in the game. These also have the simplest routine: they set sail from one Port to another Port.
A Port will only dispatch a Trader ship heading towards other Ports belonging to the same nation, or belonging to a nation with whom the Port's owner is not At War.
Nothing occurs upon arrival of a Trader at its destination port.


Grain TransportsEdit

Main article: Grain Transport
Grain Transports are functionally similar to Traders (see above): They leave one Port and head towards another. The difference is that Grain Transports usually use a small Trading Ship Type, the Coastal Barque, and will always carry a large amount of Food and little else. In addition, they will always head towards a Port belonging to the same nation as their Origin Port.
Nothing occurs upon arrival of a Grain Transport at its destination port.

SmugglersEdit

Main article: Smuggler
Smugglers are functionally similar to Traders (see above): They leave one Port and head towards another. The difference is that Smugglers are launched by a Port towards other Ports belonging to nations with which it is at war. Smugglers also tend to be much smaller than Traders, and thus carry much less Gold and Cargo.
Nothing occurs upon arrival of a Smuggler at its destination port.

Treasure ShipsEdit

Main article: Treasure Ship
Prosperous and Wealthy ports with large Populations will occasionally send out a Treasure Ship. These also function similar to traders, but will only head towards Ports with the same nationality. Treasure Ships are always of the largest trading Ship Type the port's nation can spawn, and always carry at least 1,000 Icon GoldCoin, as well as a large load of valuable Cargo.
Nothing occurs upon arrival of a Treasure Ship at its destination port.

Pirate HuntersEdit

Main article: Pirate Hunter
When a Port has reached a certain level of Hostility towards you, and its controlling nation has a Bounty on your head, it will send out Pirate Hunters to intercept you whenever you come close. Pirate Hunters tend to sail warships, sometimes very powerful ones depending on the Port's Wealth. These ships will chase you and fire cannonballs at you on the Sailing Map, and will only give up if you sail a long way away from the Port that dispatched them.
Pirate Hunters will only return to their spawning Port, and only if they've given up on chasing you.

RaidersEdit

Main article: Raider
Ports can also send out Raiders. These are warships of various sizes, targeted at a Port belonging to a nation with whom the originating port is at war. They will normally sail towards the target Port, bombard its defenses, and sail back to the originating port.
Raiders tend to be small or medium-sized warships, carrying a good complement of crew and cannons. They may pose a threat to the player, if he chooses to attack them at all.
Usually, Raiders will make detours off their path to intercept enemy shipping. They will sink any enemy vessel they come in contact with, unless said defending vessel manages to win the fight.
It is currently unknown whether a Raider's bombardment has any effect on its target.

Invasion ForcesEdit

Main article: Invasion Force
A Port may send out Invasion Force ships to try and conquer other Ports belonging to nations with whom it is at war. These are usually large warships, carrying a full complement of crew on board.
Once the Invasion Force has sailed into its target Port, the game determined whether the invasion is successful. If so, the Port's ownership will change to the nation that conquered it. Otherwise, the Port's defense force is reduced.

PrivateersEdit

Main article: Privateer
Whenever the player triggers an Escort Mission, whether voluntarily or otherwise, the destination Port for that mission will dispatch one or more ships to try to intercept and sink the Escortee. These ships may have a nationality different from that of the Port that dispatches them - they'll always have a nationality that is at war with the faction that owns the Escortee ship though.
If the Privateer comes in contact with the Escortee, it will engage it in combat and may sink it. Whether the Escortee arrived in its detination Port or was sunk, the Privateer will return to its spawning Port.

New WarshipsEdit

Main article: New Warship
If a sufficient number of ships destined to a certain Port have been sunk, whether by the player or by other AI-controlled ships, that Port may be inclined to send out a New Warship.
This warship is poorly-manned and poorly-armed compared to most other warships. It also behaves peacefully, sailing like a Trader (see above) directly to its destination Port. The destination always belongs to the same nation as the originating port.
The Ship Type of a New Warship depends largely on the overall National Strength level of the nation that controls its spawning port. Sufficiently powerful non-Spanish nations may even dispatch a Ship Of The Line, the rarest ship in the game, to fill this role. This is the only proven occurence of this powerful Ship Type.
Nothing occurs upon arrival of a New Warship at its destination port.

Military PayrollEdit

Main article: Military Payroll
Prosperous or Wealthy Ports may send out a Military Payroll ship, headed towards another Port belonging to the same nation. These are usually mid-large warships (the Brig Of War seems to be most common), carrying a large amount of Gold, and usually well-crewed and armed.
Upon arrival at its destination, the Military Payroll ship increases the number of defenders at the target Port by a significant amount.

Treaty and Ultimatum ShipsEdit

Main article: Treaty Ship', Ultimatum Ship
On occasion, the Governor of a Port will notify you that he is sending a small ship to carry a proposition of peace or an ultimatum to a nearby Port belonging to another nation. This constitutes as an Escort Mission.
Treaty Ships are dispatched towards a Port belonging to a nation with whom the originating port is at war. Ultimatums are sent to a Port belonging to a nation with whom the originating port is at peace or allied.
If this ship manages to reach its destination, it will either trigger war or a truce between the two nations, as appropriate.

EscortsEdit

Main article: Escort
If a Port's Hostility level has risen above its base, peaceful state, it may begin sending escorts out with other ships, to defend them. The Escort sails in front of the ship it is protecting, all the way to the destination Port, at which point it disappears together with the escortee. If either the Escort or Escortee are attacked, both ships will fight against you together.
The size of the escort is determined primarily by the Wealth of its originating port, as well as its level of Hostility. Hostile, Wealthy ports can send out some very powerful escorts, including Large Frigates and War Galleons.
There is always one Escort per Escortee. Only certain ships will be eligible to receive an escort:
  • Traders
  • Treasure Ships
  • Grain Transports
  • New Warships
  • Military Payrolls
If the Escortee is attacked and captured or sunk, the Escortee may turn into a Pirate Hunter, or simply sail directly back to its originating Port.

Ports by EraEdit

In this game, a set of pre-determined Ports will appear on the Caribbean map in each Era. Unlike previous games, Ports will not change ownerships between Eras, and will not disappear in a later Era. All Ports appear in the later Eras (1660, 1680), while fewer appear in earlier eras.

For a full list of Ports by Era, read the specific Era articles.

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