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Sloop pillaging guide

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Opinion.gif The topic of this article is subject to personal opinion, and does not represent any one absolute truth.
If you disagree, discuss your concerns on the the talk page before editing.


This is a sloop pillaging guide for new officers. It presents one way of running a pillage on a sloop. This article is opinion.

Officers are frequently expected by their mates to know a lot about the game. There's tons of good stuff in the Puzzle Pirates Documentation; it may be well worth reading all of it.

Starting the Pillage

First, check with your crew for policies about taking out a boat, what backup you need to take with you, whether or not your crew allows PvP battles, which flags you are allowed to battle, etc.

Second, make sure you have enough time to run the pillage. Unlike jobbing or working on a boat you can't just leave in the middle of the pillage. To start with, for a short hop from one island to another in the same archipelago give yourself an hour from starting to prepare to go to sea to finishing up restocking the boat at the end.

Finding a Boat to Use

Find out what your crew expects when borrowing a boat, or use your own. You'll want to read the officer bulletin board on any boat you borrow to make sure

  • It isn't being used for something else
  • It isn't a private boat someone would like left alone
  • You can commit to restocking it to the specified levels and returning it to its home port, even if your pillage does not go well
  • It isn't a boat that will be used in a blockade
  • It isn't a badly damaged boat and has little or no water in the bilge (the ships damage and bilge will reset if left alone for 30 minutes).

Pre-Launch Checklist

  • Make sure you have permission to use the vessel in the manner you plan on using it.
  • Board the Vessel.
  • Check the officer bulletin board to see the desired restocking level.
  • Inspect the hold.
    • Look for valuable commodities. If present then look for a different boat to use, unless you have already discussed this issue with your crew and they let you. In which case you can transfer the commodities away and make a note on the officer bulletin board.
    • Check number of small cannonballs and rum. Notate the officer bulletin board if this doesn't match restocking levels. If there is no listed restocking level on the board, write down the current amounts of both small cannonballs and rum to accurately restock them at the end of the pillage.
    • Trade commodities. Buy small cannonballs and rum if you're low.
  • Tell your crew you are going pillaging and on what boat.
  • Take the helm by starting the "Navigate" puzzle. If you don't plan on actually doing the navigation puzzle, enter the puzzle anyways and dismiss it immediately so that you'll be able to control the vessel immediately at the start of sea battles.
  • Post the Job Offer. If you have less than 4 players on the sloop, one or more computer players called NPPs or swabbies will appear.
  • Before Starting a pillage on a sloop, it is reccommended to have at least 5 other players besides yourself onboard. When a pirate becomes very skilled in Swordfighting and Rumble, then he/she may wish to do a "Solo" Pillage, though even for them it is smart to have a few players and/or bots aboard with them to assist in frays and battles.
  • Chart a course.
  • Set up the pillage at the helm. Set whether you're normal pillaging, transporting goods, or attacking a flotilla. Then set the difficulty and type of brigands/barbarians you want to spawn. Also set whether you plan on attacking player vessels or not.
  • When you have a jobber apply and come on the ship greet them with a friendly "Ahoy!" or "Welcome aboard!" instead of a "station or plank" which would annoy or scare the jobber and would most likely make him leave the ship.
  • Assign players and any remaining bots to stations.
  • Click the Sail button and the ship will automatically deport. Using the deport button first causes a slow, unnecessary animation sequence to occur.

At Sea

While you are at sea you will need to make sure that the pirates on your sloop are all contributing. You will need to check the duty reports and the list of pirates aboard in the sunshine widget vessel tab to make sure that each pirate is working and that the needed jobs are getting done. Some pirates, including new pirates called greenies, will need more explanations and encouragement to do the jobs that need to be done. Swabbies that are not working (those which a player has asked to move) will not resume work until ordered to do so; don't hesitate to give them new orders.

There are a few ways to assign stations to pirates. Both in choosing which duty stations to fill and the manner of requests you will need to balance the needs of the whole boat, having a profitable pillage, against the needs of the individual pirates, to have fun and feel valuable and appreciated.

  • Give them orders. This is the only method that works on swabbies. Some pirates prefer orders due to puzzle vision.
  • Direct individual pirates via the vessel chat. Some pirates respond better to spoken requests than to orders.
  • Ask for volunteers for a specific action, as in "Would one of you bilgers like to carpent?". Some pirates will volunteer for and enjoy duties that they would resent if requested or ordered.
  • Send them each a private /tell. This method is frequently employed on larger boats to minimize chatter, and by officers wishing to scold a pirate without humiliating them.

The Duty Stations

There are four basic duties on the boat, Carpentry, Bilging, Rigging and Sailing. Each of them impacts the effectiveness of the next.

General order of importance at sea:

  1. Get the damage under control
  2. Get the bilge emptied
  3. Get the cannons loaded
  4. Get the boat up to speed

The charts of mechanics of duty stations presented below are NOT the way the duties really affect the ship and each other. They are simply a tool, a close estimate, to help you understand why, for example, carpentry is the absolute most important thing to do after an intense battle.

Carpentry and patching

Carpentry/patching affects your ability to empty the bilge. The ship gets slowly damaged at sea, and severely damaged by cannonballs, ramming, and rocks in Sea Battle. A single carpenter/patcher or swabbie getting "Fine" duty ratings can keep the damage at bay at sea. When the damage climbs above 1/4 you'll definitely need to throw more manpower at it to keep the bilge pumps working.

Damage affects the rate at which water is added to the bilge. When it climbs above what your pumpers are removing it overwhelms them, and the bilge quickly fills.

Here is an easy way to think about damage to help make snap decisions:

Damage Bilge Effectiveness Times more work needed to bilge
Empty (0) 1 1
1/4 .75 1.33
1/2 .5 2
3/4 .25 4
Full (1) 0 Bilging does nothing

Keep in mind that on a sloop, a single perfect bilger (always keeping it sparkly) can equal approximately 66% carp damage -- as long as the bilge pump stays sparkly, the water level will not change.


Bilging affects your ability to sail. The ship takes on a small amount of bilge water at sea, and much more if the ship is damaged. A single bilger or swabbie getting "Fine" duty ratings can keep the bilge of an undamaged ship at bay at sea. When the bilge climbs above 1/4 you'll definitely need to throw more manpower at it to keep the sails working.

The bilge adds drag to the ship; when it overcomes the force the sailors are producing, the ship stops speeding up and starts to slow down.

Here is an easy way to think about bilge to help you make snap decisions:

Bilge Sailing Effectiveness Times more work needed to sail
Empty (0) 1 1
1/4 .83 1.2
1/2 .67 1.5
3/4 .5 2
Full (1) .33 3

Sailing & Rigging

Sailing and rigging produce force to accelerate the ship. They must overcome the drag of the ship and the weight of the bilge water, otherwise the ship slows down. The ship can be maintained at full speed with less effort than it takes to get it there; however, it is wise to keep sailors and riggers there to generate tokens when you enter a sea battle.


Gunning loads the cannons. Since they have no cumulative or integrating effect you can put them off, provided you can get them loaded in time in battle.

It always helps to have a designated gunner before you start sailing so that once battle begins, you will have someone to man the cannons. If there are no pirates from your crew on board, then you will have to order someone to do it or do it yourself. It is highly recommended that you choose a gunner who is at least renowned at gunning if you want to be able to take shots throughout the battle. If a jobber asks to gun, always check their standing. If they are able, it is definitely not acceptable. Even if his other character has ultimate standing, the pieces move too slowly to effectively load the guns.

It is considered wise to initially use only 3 cannons per round, to allow less experienced gunners a chance to fill them, and to keep one cannon in reserve for the next round, should the gunner booch.


Navigating multiplies the efforts of the sailors and improves the spawns you get; it is important on large boats, but (unless you are very good) does not help a whole lot on sloops. If you have 7 people on board it may be worth having one of them navigate for you between battles while you focus on the crow's nest.

Booching navigation causes the boat to turn around and lose speed. So, definitely don't order a random jobber to do it.

Where to put pirates

Here are recommendations on where to have your staff while you are at sea under various conditions. They are presented as prioritized lists with notes:

Fair winds

When you are starting out on a pillage, or have an undamaged ship, fill the duty stations in this order of importance. Skilled players will make a larger impact on the gunning and sailing stations.

  1. Swabbie or fine or better carpenter
  2. Swabbie or fine or better bilger
  3. Sailor
  4. Load cannons (then move to another job)
  5. Sailor
  6. Officer (you) in lookout and doing radar
  7. Sailor
  8. Navigator (must be good)

With 7 players on board, ditch the navigating just before battle, and have your dedicated gunner start looking for a good board.

It's possible to cover carpentry and bilge at sea with one player or swabbie, under undamaged conditions. If you are going to do so, pay very close attention, and start him or her or it out on bilge. Don't use a player for this unless they're willing to pay attention and switch back and forth themselves.

It is worth noting that the above assumes pretty average abilities of crew. A very good sailor (who gets consecutive incredibles continuously) can maintain top speed in a sloop on their own.

Heavily Damaged

If you have a lot of damage, no matter the bilge, here's where you need your mates, in order:

  1. Best carpenter carpenting
  2. Other best carpenter carpenting
  3. Best bilger bilging
  4. Load cannons (then move to another job)
  5. Other best bilger bilging
  6. Sailor
  7. Officer (you) in lookout and doing radar
  8. Sailor

Gunning is so high because the sails are not going to do anything for quite a while. If you've made enough of a dent in the damage that bilging will do some good, getting the second bilger on bilge is more important than loading the guns (unless you are about to be attacked).

Remember that no matter how well your bilgers are bilging, the bilge water will not reduce until the damage has been sufficiently reduced by your carpenter.

High Waters

Once you have gotten your damage down, and the bilge is a problem, here's where ye need yer mates, in order of importance:

  1. Swabbie or fine or better carpenter
  2. Best bilger bilging
  3. Other best bilger bilging
  4. Load cannons (then move to another job)
  5. Sailor
  6. Officer (you) in lookout and doing radar
  7. Sailor
  8. Sailor

League Points

Every league there is a league point. This is where the duty report is displayed to all puzzling pirates. It's very useful; you can:

  • Check the duty report to see how well your crew is doing
  • Sit and wait for an unwanted aggressor to pass or a wanted aggressor to catch up
  • Chart a new course - This is useful to turn around and go back to the island you just left if you are grievously harmed.
  • Take a very short break
  • Turn back on course without losing speed

While you are sitting at the league point your boat will continue to take on bilge water, so don't sit there too long.

If you are moving opposite to your charted course when you reach a league point, clicking "Sail" will launch the vessel off again on its charted course without a loss of speed. It is frequently faster to sail back to a league point, and take off in the correct direction from there than it is to issue a "Turn About" order -- and leaves you less vulnerable, as the boat is moving faster.

League points are also good places to wait and pick up jobbers. Swabbies generally get the job done but are limited in their uses. Finding a good crew before setting sail from port should generally be your target, but if your crew members begin to leave the vessel a league point is a good place to refresh the ship. Don't wait to long though, as the bilge still fills up and players generally get aggravated doing nothing.

Do not leave your computer to use the bathroom or eat dinner (a good time to go to the bathroom is when you have just left a league point and nothing's on the radar). Your crew will hate you with a passion if you do. As well, you may even be demoted for leaving a ship in the middle of the ocean, as it reflects poorly on your crew and flag. Wars have been declared over less. This is one more important reason to have lots of free time if you take a ship out to pillage.

Attacking and being attacked

Read the official sea battle documentation and the sea battle wiki article for instructions on how to attack and how sea battle works.

When and what to attack

The success of your pillage depends upon choosing which opponents to attack and which to avoid.

Do not attack boats while your boat is damaged.

Your boat is "damaged" when any of the following apply:

  • More than 1/4 damage
  • More than 1/4 bilge
  • You have a need for more than one person on bilge or carpentry when less than three people are on sails

Seek out and attack:

Don't attack:

  • When your boat is struggling or damaged
  • When your guns aren't loaded
  • Orange boats
  • Red boats
  • Teal boats
  • Blue boats

Actively avoid, and don't attack unless you want some PvP:

  • Boats with names too good to be true
  • Boats with flag names
  • <Independent> boats

When in doubt, don't attack.

Player vs. player

Player vs player battle is frequently unprofitable. Weak crews often have no booty aboard and winning the battle can be financially unrewarding. Green boats may also be full of experienced players' "alts" looking for an easy target.

If you are engaged in PvP battle or accidentally engage an opponent, ask them to disengage. You can find out who is on the vessel with the /vwho command. The /who command, with no argument, will show you all the boats at sea in your archipelago, with who has the helm on each ship in parenthesis after the ship's name. /tell them a friendly offer to disengage. If an opponent asks you to disengage at the beginning of a fight, it is polite to do so. The usual disengage practice is to place no moves as to avoid spooking your opponent. If your opponent can strike at you and starts placing moves then assume they are attacking and take defensive and offensive action.

You may encounter boats such as brigs, galleons, and frigates being operated by a single person. These may seem like a juicy opportunity, but are unprofitable to attack. The boat is probably being moved between islands completely empty or they are moving items. Attacking these vessels is a nuisance to the people moving them, and will earn your crew a bad name.

Battle Navigation

Your ability to navigate in battle will largely determine the success or failure of your pillages.


The damage done to you in battle fills up your swordfight with black blocks; likewise, the damage you dish out with your cannonballs fills up your opponent's swordfight. The swordfight is 13 rows tall; if you take the maximum damage your swordfight window will have 6 rows of black, unbreakable blocks. On sloops you get one row of blocks from each small cannonball that hits you and half a row from each thing you bump into (ships, rocks, and the side of the map).

Opponent Shots to max them Shots that'll max you
Sloop 6 6
Cutter 7.5 6
Dhow 7.5 4
Fanchuan 8 3
Longship* 9 6 (possible in 3 moves)
Baghlah* 12 4 (possible in 2 moves)
Merchant Brig 12 4
War Brig* 15 4 (possible in 2 moves)

The ships marked with an asterisk (*) can fire twice per side per move, though they may, of course, not have enough tokens to do so every time.

Brigs fire medium cannon balls, so a merchant brig can maximize your damage in one turn, and a war brig, which can fire twice at a time, in a mere two moves. You'll generally want to avoid them, and anything larger.

Required Reading

The following are required reading for new officers hoping to excel:

  • Last second movement - This can be the key to successful battle navigation. Opponents in sea battle can see how many of the turns their opponent is making a move or firing. It is believed that computer opponents can see even more than this and will be given extra time to place their moves if you use a last second move more than once in a battle. Why give your enemies all of your secrets? This will help you understand some of the tactics that follow. Be warned, if you use this tactic too often against brigands they will reciprocate and use it in kind.


When going into the swordfight remind your mates what teaming strategy you'll be using. Here are some recommended team sizes for a sloop depending on your staffing situation.

Players / Swabbies Strategy What to say
1/4 Team with a swabbie I think I can! (x3)
2/3 Have a player team, try to get it started with a swabbie Teams of 3
5 total
Try to get a team of 2 and a team of 3 Teams of 3 or 2
6 total Two teams of 3; Or Three teams of 2 Teams of 3; Or Teams of 2
7 total Teams of 3, 2, and 2 Teams of 3, 2, and 2. No 4s!

When running a pillage you'll need to pay closer attention to the fights on the right side of the screen to remind your crew to reteam and to take action yourself to remedy others foibles.

Tip: If pillaging with crew mates, and each mate is familiar with each others sword colors, it wouldn't be a bad idea to assign teammates to target the same swabbie. For example: Pirate A and Pirate B team together while Pirate C, D and E team together.

After the battle


  • Redistribute players to deal with damage
  • Make sure your job offer is still up
  • If you lost the battle, or you have been pillaging a while, check the remaining shot and rum in the hold. If you are running low you need to plan to end your pillage.

A note about server reboots

Three Rings reboots the servers regularly for maintenance and for all new releases. If you have received a reboot notice recently, do not start a pillage. If you are out and you receive a "The server will be rebooted in (amount of time)" message from the server, re-chart to the nearest island as soon as you can, and do not attack anything. If you don't make it into port before the reboot, the ship will be abandoned at sea and you'll face the wrath of your crew. If you make it with enough time to spare, divide the booty and restock.

Ending the pillage

After some length of time, when you will have to leave soon, or are tired of pillaging, or you have lost so much of your crew that you don't care to go on, or your supplies are running low, you will need to end the pillage. If necessary, rechart at the next league point, or even turn about and rechart at the one you just passed if that is the direction you want to go, to get headed to your desired finishing port.

Depending on how urgently you want to stop pillaging, and if the bilge is low enough to support it, you may want to put extra emphasis on sails. You still need to be prepared for battle because you can be attacked again before you manage to port.

When you get to the island you will need to press the Port button to enter the island's port. Make sure it is a colonized island!

In Port Checklist

  • Thank the crew for their work.
  • Check the booty for valuable commodities. Sell them directly from the booty or add PoE to the booty before you divvy to distribute their value to your crew. Note that only those with the rank of fleet officer or higher will be able to sell commodities.
  • Divide the booty
  • Depending on crew policies and the success of the pillage, this can also be a good time to invite jobbers to fully join your crew.
  • Use the restocking cut, and if necessary your own funds, to restock the boat with small cannonballs and rum.
  • If anything is not as it should be note what and why, and most importantly your name, on the officer bulletin board.
  • If you transferred away valuable commodities transfer them back and note it on the officer bulletin board.
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