Best Beginner Tips For Tortuga: A Pirate’s Tale

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Tortuga: A Pirate’s Tale is an open-world sandbox full of high seas adventure. With the whole Caribbean to explore and plunder, there’s a lot to do – so much so, in fact, that even with the tutorial new players can quickly get themselves into trouble. From rival pirates to mutinous crew to the dreaded Royal Navies, there’s danger everywhere.


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While you can’t plan for every possible scenario, knowing some useful tricks can help you be ready for anything you might encounter at sea. Read on to find some tips that will make a salty sea-dog out of you!


Always Outnumber Your Targets

a battle between pirates and dutch warships

No pirate worth their sea-legs would engage in a fair fight, so always be on the lookout for ships you can easily sink, intimidate, or capture. This ensures a steady income of gold and goods while posing a minimal risk to your own ships. While it’s true that you’ll have to take risks sometimes, there’s no shame in taking any easy wins that come your way.

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Unless one side has ships that far outclass the other, the team that has the greater numbers usually wins. If the sides are evenly matched, all it takes is a lucky shot to decisively turn the tide for either side. If you’re on the receiving end, that means big trouble. For this reason, you should always aim to have at least one more ship than your opponents.

Quests Usually Involve Battles

a pirate ship outside the town of Evangelista

Even the most innocuous escort mission in Tortuga will, more often than not, include an unavoidable fight. Be prepared for an enemy fleet lying in wait at your destination, no matter what the nature of your current quest may be.

Before accepting a quest, check the number of skulls on the NPC’s portrait. This is the quest’s difficulty rating. In general, you’ll need two combat-ready ships for each skull to have a decent chance of success.

Stay On Good Terms With One Nation

an island governor rewards a privateer for his service

The colonial nations of the Caribbean have a complicated relationship with pirates; they’re a nuisance, but occasionally a useful one. You’ll probably see your reputation with England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands fluctuate throughout your adventures. To ensure you always have safe harbor and a steady stream of lucrative missions, it’s a good idea to choose one of the nations to ally yourself with.

Avoid attacking ships that belong to your chosen patron and carry out any of their Governor missions that you can handle. In return, you’ll get better prices in their markets and access to higher-level ship upgrades in their harbors!

For your first campaign, we recommend being on good terms with the Netherlands. Their colonies are wealthy and centrally-located, meaning you’ll never be far from a friendly port.

Vary Your Cannon Types

a ship with multiple cannon types equipped prepares to fire

The cannons available for your ships vary considerably in terms of range and power. They’re all better than the basic default cannons that ships start with, but you’ll need to adapt your tactics based on how your ships (and those of your opponent) are equipped.

It’s useful to have a variety of range options in your fleet, since the winds and currents can cause sudden changes in positioning during sea battles. In fact, you’ll see the most success if each ship in your fleet has multiple cannon types. Early in the game, try equipping a close-range gun like the Nine-Pounder on one side with a longer-range option like the Twelve-Pounder on the other.

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Boarding Actions Are Risky

pirate sloops surround a larger vessel

Capturing a ship is a big deal in Tortuga; it ensures you get the vessel’s full complement of treasure and potentially adds a new ship to your fleet. If you don’t need it, you can sell the ship for a pretty penny at your next port.

That said, any boarding action will always result in heavy casualties for your crew. It typically takes several rounds of combat to seize a ship, and you’re guaranteed to lose at least two to four pirates each round. By the time the dust settles, you’re going to need some new recruits. Make sure the payoff is worth it!

Equipping a ship with a rack of Handguns or other weapons increases the effectiveness of its boarding actions. A faster capture means fewer losses.

It’s best to board lone ships, so that you don’t have to contend with supporting fire from their allies. Before you board, wear down their armor on one side then hit the enemy with a few volleys of grapeshot. This will reduce their crew numbers. You won’t be able to do this forever, as the enemy ship will be firing back, but the fewer crew the other ship has, the easier it will be to capture.

Divide The Loot Often

the captain divides the loot and assesses crew satisfaction

Your crew expects to get paid, which can be done in any tavern by choosing to divide the loot. This allows you to set goals for the next leg of your voyage, and also levels up your Captains with any experience they’ve gained. Experience doesn’t do anything until this point, so it’s important to divide the loot frequently.

Giving your crew frequent paydays also helps keep their expectations in check. If you stockpile a major haul of gold, then divide it all at once, they’ll start to expect big payouts every time you pull into port. By giving them smaller amounts more frequently, you earn yourself more leeway when things go wrong.

We recommend paying your crew once every week or two. This prevents the gold (or the discontent) from piling up. If push comes to shove, the longest you can reasonably expect to go without paying is about a month – any longer, and you’ll soon find yourself walking the plank!

Tack Against The Wind

pirates follow a pair of Dutch vessels at a safe distance

Normally, the shortest route between two points is a straight line. Unfortunately, your ships are bound by the direction of the wind. Sailing directly into the wind – which usually happens when you’re sailing eastward – will slow you ships to a crawl. Fortunately, sailors have been tacking against the wind for hundreds of years to deal with this issue, and you can do the same in Tortuga.

If your destination is upwind, don’t sail straight toward it. Instead, sail at an angle perpendicular to the wind. You’ll still be going in roughly the right direction; after a while, sail at the opposite angle. This zig-zagging pattern will actually prove faster than if you had tried to go directly to your target!

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