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Ship Role is a term used to describe the general mission assigned to any non-player ship appearing in the Caribbean by its originating Faction. Ship Roles range from "Trader" to "Troop Transport" and even "Invasion Force", and define both the expected behavior of a ship as well as some of its variable properties.

Ship Roles are assigned automatically by the game when a ship is created. In fact, it is likely that the game selects a Role first, based on what kind of task it wants carried out, and then creates a ship that fits this Role. Each ship has exactly one Role defined for it, though in the later game a ship's Role can change due to circumstances.

For most ships, determining a ship's Role should be very easy, as it is displayed on screen when that ship is encountered. Exceptions to this rule are also explained in this article.

By determining a ship's Role along with its Type, it is possible (in all games) to determine how much of a threat that ship would be when attacked, and possibly how profitable it would be to capture the ship intact.

Note that in all of the games, Ship Roles and Ship Types are interconnected: some Roles are only ever assigned to ships of a certain Type, while some Types of ships are not eligible to receive certain Roles. This is explained in detail below, and has a strong bearing on the rarity of ship types.

The Difference Between Type and RoleEdit

Ship Type is a term used to describe the physical design and properties of a ship. For example, it determines how fast a ship is, how it handles in different weather, how much Cargo it can hold, and how many Crew and Cannons it can carry into battle, amongst other things. For the most part, this is a definition of the "maximum" potential of a ship. It can be considered a "template" from which ships are molded.

Ship Role is a much more individual characteristic, defining more detailed and immediate statistics. For example, if Ship Type defines how much cargo a ship can carry thanks to its physical design, its Role defines how much Cargo it can be expected to carry. If Type defines how fast it can go, Role defines where it is heading!

Finally, a ship's Type never changes. After all, turning a Sloop into a Frigate is a physical impossibility - at least much more of a project than the scope of this game could possibly allow (it would be a monumental project even in the real world, and a highly illogical effort to boot). Ship Roles, however, can and do change. The best example is when a player captures a ship and adds it to his own Player's Fleet, in which case it no longer has a Role at all, but of course maintains the same Ship Type, as it will until sold or destroyed.

Icon Pirates1987 Header Pirates1987Pirates! (1987)Edit

In the original game, there is only a handful of Ship Roles available for assignment. Ships in this game only "exist" once the player comes into contact with one, which is also the moment when the ship's Role is assigned. Once the encounter with an AI ship ends, it either disappears from the game entirely (whether avoided or sunk), or is added to the Player's Fleet (if Captured).

When the game generates an Encounter with another ship, it first determines which Role it wants said ship to fill. Based on this (and coupled with the nationality of the water the player's [[Flagship) is in at the time) it determines the ship's nationality, and subsequently chooses a Ship Type to suit the chosen Role and Nationality as appropriate.

There are exactly 3 Roles the game can choose from, based on the Encounter it wishes to create:

  • Trader: A "basic" role, and by far the most common. These ships are usually carrying a mediocre amount of Cargo and Gold (determined by the ship's size), and will often carry a relatively-weaker complement of Cannons and Crew. They always belong to one of the European nations.
  • Pirate Raider: A pirate ship, flying the Jolly Roger. These ships are usually smaller, though still heavily armed and crewed, though carrying very little cargo or gold. They are much more dangerous than traders.
  • Pirate Hunter: A warship belonging to one of the European nations, looking for direct confrontation. It is usually heavily armed (compared to its selected Ship Type) and carries a large complement of men. Cargo and Gold are usually lacking. These ships can be extremely powerful, and often belong to the larger Ship Types.

The Role assignment also determines hostility. In this game, Traders will avoid combat with you if you do not agitate them, prefering to stay on their course. Pirate Raiders and Pirate Hunters are much more aggressive, and may force you to fight!

TraderEdit

Main article: Trader Ship

A Trader is a vessel tasked with delivering goods between the Caribbean Ports and/or to Europe. Traders are by far the most common Ship Role encountered in this game.

Traders often carry a moderate amount of Gold and Cargo on board. The larger the selected Ship Type, the more Gold and Cargo it will be carrying - though of course it will also be more heavily armed. Still, these ships are rarely armed or crewed to anywhere near their maximum capacity.

Traders generally seek to avoid combat. Unless the player voluntarily decides to attack the ship, it will simply sail away. One exception to this is when Hailing For News, in which case Traders belonging to a hostile nation will usually proceed to attack anyway.

The Ship Types chosen to fill this Role are usually determined by nationality:

  • Spanish Traders tend to belong to the Barque or Merchantman Ship Types. Spanish Galleons are occasionally encountered as well - though they are far rarer, usually encountered only in Spanish territorial water. While Galleons are often heavily-armed, and usually carrying much more Gold and Cargo than other ships, most Spanish Traders offer little resistance.
  • English Traders tend to be belong to the Merchantman Type, but the occasional Pinnace will also appear, in some Eras more so than others.
  • French Traders in Pinnaces and Sloops are common, though Merchantmen and Barques also appear on occasion.
  • Dutch Traders are almost always either Cargo Fluyts or Sloops. They are rarely seen sailing other Ship Types at all.

Pirate RaiderEdit

Main article: Pirate Raider

A Pirate Raider is a Pirate ship trying to attack you and capture your Fleet. While Pirates usually sail smaller Ship Types, they will always have a proportionally large complement of Crew and Cannons on board, based on how many of each their selected Ship Type can carry.

When a Pirate ship is encountered, there is a certain chance that it will attack regardless of your choices - as long as you did not choose to avoid the Random Encounter entirely (I.E. before the ship's image appears on screen). It is currently unknown how the game decides whether the battle can be avoided, but it's possible that it weighs the Pirate ship's strength against the best ship in your Fleet.

Pirates tend to sail the Pinnace, and Sloop Ship Types, which are by far the most common for them. However, Pirate Merchantmen are not uncommon, and are extremely dangerous: these ships are sufficiently maneuverable, and in Pirate hands often carry a large load of men and guns not seen on European-controlled Merchantman Traders. These should be handled with caution.

Sightings have also been made of Pirate Frigates. This is extremely rare, but offers a very challenging battle.

Successfully Boarding a Pirate ship will allow you to capture the Named Pirate on board. This pirate can be questioned about the location of the Treasure Fleet or Silver Train, or he can be held in hopes of turning him in at a Governor's.

Pirate HunterEdit

Main article: Pirate Hunter

Pirate Hunters are dispatched by European nations to chase you down. This only occurs once a nation has become hostile towards you, and will usually occur when you are sailing in the territorial waters belonging to said nation (I.E. close to one of its Ports).

Pirate Hunters are extremely dangerous. Not only will they usually attack you regardless of what choices you make during a Random Encounter with one, but they often sail powerful ships as well. Regardless of which Ship Type is chosen for the Pirate Hunter, it will be heavily Crewed and will carry plenty of Cannons.

  • Spanish Pirate Hunters tend to sail Sloops, but on occasion will sail much larger ships like the Merchantman or even the dreaded War Galleon! Needless to say, combat with a War Galleon can end miserably during the Naval Combat stage, due to it carrying a huge load of Cannons.
  • English, French and Dutch Pirate Hunters can sail Sloops or Merchantmen, but when sufficiently upset will often be seen sailing either Frigates (the English prefer this) or Fast Galleons (favoured by the French). Both are very tough encounters that can leave your Flagship crippled, if it doesn't sink you outright!

If a Pirate Hunter's ship is Boarded successfully, you can ask the Pirate Hunter about the current location of the Treasure Fleet or Silver Train, or hold this Hunter in hope for a later Ransom from his family.

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

Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004) operates quite differently from its predecessors. Each ship in the Caribbean has its own physical existance, independently of the player. This means that ships are always doing something or sailing somewhere, not to mention have an actual point of origin. Combat with a ship does not occur because a Random Encounter says it should - it happens because the player has chased and intercepted a ship on the Sailing Map, or vice-versa!

This independent existance allows the game to offer a lot more Ship Roles than previous games could. The ship's Role now defines its destination, general behavior on the Sailing Map, its behavior in Naval Combat, and of course all factors it influenced in previous games. This gives Ship Role a much greater importance.

In addition, there are no less than 7 Factions (4 European, Pirates, Jesuits and Indians), and less than 1/2 of the visitable locations on the map are actual Ports (whereas, in previous games, all visitable locations were Ports). Each type of location, including Settlements, Pirate Havens and so forth can dispatch ships with different Roles to those encountered leaving Ports.

Finally, the wide variety of Ship Types available in this game enables a better matching of Type-to-Role. Various factions will use different Ship Types to fulfill the same Role, and there are several Ship Types that will only be spotted playing a single Role or sailing for only one of the factions.

Due to the large variety of Ship Roles in this game, they are discussed in detail in the appropriate articles. The table below summarizes the key properties of each Role. Click the arrow at the top-right of the table to view it in full-screen mode.

Note: This table is most probably incomplete. Please help to add information if you can.
Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004) Ship Roles
Ship Role Journey Faction Ship Types Typical Loadout Extra Notes
Trader
  • Spawns at a Port.
  • Sails directly to another Port owned by a non-Enemy nation.
  • Safe arrival has no discernible effect.
England Ship Role not displayed in a caption above the ship, when spotted on the Sailing Map.
France
Netherlands
Spain
Smuggler
  • Spawns at a Port.
  • Sails directly to another Port owned by an enemy nation.
  • Safe arrival has no discernible effect.
All European Nations None
Treasure Ship
  • Spawns at a Port.
  • Sails directly to another Port owned by the same nation.
  • Safe arrival has no discernible effect.
England None
France
Netherlands
Spain
Treasure Fleet Ship
  • Spawns at the Caribbean Map Edge.
  • Sails directly to a pre-determined Port owned by Spain.
  • Safe arrival has no discernible effect.
Spain Occasionally, Ship Role is not displayed in a caption above the ship, when spotted on the Sailing Map.
Treasure Fleet is extremely rare in version 1.00 due to a Known Bug.
New Warship
  • Spawns at a Port.
  • Sails directly to another Port owned by the same nation.
  • Safe arrival has no discernible effect.
All Non-Spanish Nations Appears to spawn as result of attacks on shipping near destination Port.
Ship Type may depend on National Wealth factor, though this is hard to prove.
Spain
New Governor Ship
  • Spawns at a Settlement.
  • Sails directly to a Port owned by the same nation.
  • Safe arrival increases Wealth at destination.
England Frequently spawns on its own, but will also spawn when the player triggers a New Governor Mission.
If spawned due to a mission, will occasionally be a Sloop, and nationality will be the same as that of the spawning Settlement.
Destination is chosen automatically by the game. It is always the nearest Port belonging to the same nation as the spawning Settlement.
France
Netherlands
Spain
Immigrant Ship
  • Spawns at a Settlement.
  • Sails directly to a Port owned by the same nation.
  • Safe arrival increases Population at destination.
England Frequently spawns on its own, but will also spawn when the player triggers an Immigrant Mission.
If spawned due to a mission, will always be a Merchantman, and nationality will be the same as that of the destination Port.
Destination is chosen by the player when triggering the mission. It is always the nearest Port belonging to the selected nation.
France
Netherlands
Spain
Sugar Plants Ship
  • Spawns at a Settlement.
  • Sails directly to a Port chosen by the player.
  • Safe arrival increases Wealth at destination.
All European Nations Only ever spawns when the player triggers a Sugar Plants Mission.
Destination is chosen by the player when triggering the mission. It is always the nearest Port belonging to the selected nation.
Nationality is always the same as that of the destination Port.
Treaty Ship
  • Spawns at a Port.
  • Sails directly to a Port owned by an enemy nation.
  • Safe arrival ends the war between the owner of the spawning Port and the owner of the destination Port.
All European Nations Only ever spawns when the player triggers a Treaty Mission.
Destination is chosen automatically by the game when triggering the mission. It is always the nearest Port belonging to the selected enemy nation.
Nationality is always the same as that of the spawning Port.
Ultimatum Ship
  • Spawns at a Port.
  • Sails directly to a Port owned by a friendly nation.
  • Safe arrival triggers a War between the owner of the spawning Port and the owner of the destination Port.
All European Nations Only ever spawns when the player triggers an Ultimatum Mission.
Destination is chosen automatically by the game when triggering the mission. It is always the nearest Port belonging to the selected friendly nation.
Nationality is always the same as that of the spawning Port.
Amnesty Ship
  • Spawns at a Jesuit Mission.
  • Sails directly to a Port owned by a nation that placed a Bounty on the player.
  • Safe arrival decrease Bounty to 0 for the nation that owns the destination Port.
Jesuits Only ever spawns when the player triggers an Amnesty Mission.
Destination is chosen automatically by the game when triggering the mission. It is always the nearest Port belonging to a nation that has placed a significant Bounty on the player's head.
Troop Transport
  • Spawns at a Settlement.
  • Sails directly to a Port owned by the same nation.
  • Safe arrival increases Soldiers at destination.
England None
France
Netherlands
Spain
Military Payroll
  • Spawns at a Port.
  • Sails directly to another Port owned by the same nation.
  • Safe arrival increases Soldiers at destination.
England Amount of gold on board seems to be directly proportional to the number of Soldiers at the destination.
France
Netherlands
Spain
Grain Transport
  • Spawns at a Port.
  • Sails directly to another Port owned by the same nation.
  • Safe arrival has no discernible effect.
All European Nations These serve as mobile food platforms. If you're running low on food you can try to catch one of these to replenish your stock.
Raider
  • Spawns at a Port.
  • Sails directly to another Port owned by an enemy nation.
  • On arrival, opens fire at the target Port. No discernible effect.
  • Once bombardment is complete, returns to origin Port.
Non-Spanish Nations May veer off course to intercept ships belonging to enemy nations. If one is intercepted, the two ships exchange fire and the weaker one will most probably sink.
Spain
Invasion Ship
  • Spawns at a Port.
  • Sails directly to another Port owned by an enemy nation.
  • On arrival, the game determines whether the Invasion is successful.
  • Success: Ship's nation gains control of port.
  • Failure: Decreases the destination Port's Soldiers.
Non-Spanish Nations Invasion success probability depends mainly on the number of soldiers at the destination Port.
Spain
Pirate Raider
  • Spawns at a Pirate Haven.
  • Sails directly to any nearby Port.
  • On arrival, the game determines whether the Raid is successful.
  • Success: Decreases the destination Port's Wealth.
  • Failure: Decreases the destination Port's Soldiers.
Pirates Raid success probability depends mainly on the number of soldiers at the destination Port.
Indian War Canoe
  • Spawns at an Indian Village.
  • Sails directly to any nearby Port.
  • On arrival, the game determines whether the Raid is successful.
  • Success: Decreases the destination Port's Population.
  • Failure: Decreases the destination Port's Soldiers.
Indians Three Canoes are always spawned simultaneously.
Raid success probability depends mainly on the number of soldiers at the destination Port.
Pirate Hunter
  • Spawns at a Port.
  • Sails directly towards the player's Flagship.
  • On arrival, fires cannonballs at the Player's Fleet.
  • If the player moves far away from the spawning Port, heads directly back to the spawning Port.
All Non-Spanish Nations Spawns only from Ports with high Port Hostility.
Gives up if the player's Flagship runs sufficiently far from the spawning Port, turns around and heads directly back to the spawning port.
Pinnaces have been spotted filling this Role, but very rarely.
Spain
Escort
  • Spawns at a Port, always with a second ship (the "escortee").
  • Leads the escortee directly to its destination.
  • On arrival, disappears together with the escortee, adding no further effect.
  • If the player attacks either the escort or escortee, Naval Combat will include both ships simultaneously.
All Non-Spanish Nations Always spawns along with one of the other ship types. Serves as its protector.
Only spawns from Ports whose shipping has been attacked recently.
Sails in front of the escortee, whereever it's headed. If either ship is attacked, both will fight you simultaneously.
Escorts can turn into Pirate Hunters if you attack another ship of the same-nationality nearby.
Larger escorts seem to spawn from Wealthier Ports, or when shipping in one area has been attacked repeatedly.
Spain
Famous Pirate Ship
  • Spawns only at specific Pirate Havens.
  • Patrols the area, attacking any ship it comes across.
  • After a while, returns to its home Port.
Jack Rackham Famous Pirate Ships belong to Famous Pirates, with each such Pirate having one individual ship.
A Famous Pirate's ship sails out of his home Haven only.
Once a Famous Pirate is defeated, his ship will no longer appear anywhere.
Famous Pirate Ships may bombard the Player's Fleet on the Sailing Map.
All Famous Pirate Ships are considered to belong to the Pirate Faction.
Bart Roberts
Roc Brasiliano
L'Olonnais
Stede Bonnet
Jean Lafitte
Captain Kidd
Blackbeard
Henry Morgan
Evil Spaniard Ship
  • Spawns at a Spanish Port.
  • Sails directly to any other Spanish Port.
  • On arrival, remains inside for a short while, then sails to another Spanish Port.
  • Repeat until defeated by the player.
Colonel Mendoza Created by various player-based triggers, including mostly through Romance.
The same ship will continue to sail between Spanish ports until it is defeated by the player.
If no Spanish sea-side Ports exist, the ship will sail from non-Spanish Ports, to non-Spanish Ports. However It is always considered as belonging to the Spanish faction.
Baron Raymondo
Marquis Montalban

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