Your goal in High Seas Trader is simple: become the best damn merchant sailing the seven seas. To do this you have to rise up the serried ranks of the merchant's guild, which is achieved by increasing you rating in four main skill categories: daring, honor, loyalty and nobility
You start the game with the lowly status of Peddler, but with a bit of effort you'll soon become a Journeyman, then a Tradesman, a Merchant, a Master Merchant and, finally, a Viscount. Well, to be honest, "a bit of effort" is something of and understatement - it actually takes a lot of effort. But don't worry - I'm here to make life easier.
One of the first decisions you have to make regards what nationality you're going to be. This is actually a lot more important that it initially seams, because it determines where you home port will be, what you relationship with the other ships you encounter will be and, if you nation is at war with other nations, whether you're allowed access to certain key ports or not. Obviously, each nationality has its own set of plus and minus points, so experiment with all of them to find which suits you best. The game starts with your ship moored in you home port. Your first stop should be the local tavern - as in every computer game, the boozer is a mine of information. Talk to the bartender, because he may be able to give you some insider knowledge on the state of the international trade market.
While in the tavern it's wise to enlist some new crew members - your best bets at first are either soldiers skilled in combat or cheap apprentices. Take care to check a potential recruit's morale before you bring them aboard, because this will affect the whole crew's morale (Incidentally, if you crew's morale becomes low later on in the game, take 'em all down the pub and buy them a couple of rounds - this will cheer them up no end.)
As any businessman (or businesswoman) will tell you, one of the major keys to success is to start small and then build up slowly. Don't undertake long and risky voyages straight away - instead, embark on short trading runs. Okay, so they may not generate big bucks, but it's relatively easy money.
After a while you should have saved up a nice little nest egg, allowing you to invest in a larger crew, bigger cannons and eventually great ships, whereupon you can start traveling further afield. This is essential, because the more ports you visit, the higher you standing in merchant society will become. Also, although it may sound attractive, resist the lure of transporting contraband. If you don't then chances are you'll find yourself in a fight as soon as you take to the sea. And even if you win the fight, you former colleagues will come down to you and brand you as a common smuggler.
Controlling The Crew
A ship's crew will follow it's captain to the ends of the Earth - so long as they know where those ends are. It's not a good idea to sail your ship into uncharted waters, or else your men may start a mutiny. To avoid this sad state of affairs, buy all the charts you can until you have one of each kind. The you'll only need to buy new ones to update the zones of piracy.
Try to build up as big crew as you can possibly afford, but keep a very careful eye on your supplies, particularly your rations. Remember that fruit spoils over time so you'll need to stock more of it than you would other rations. Maintaining your crew's morale and health is essential to your success. If the mood on the ship starts turning nasty give the crew a shot of rum or treat them to a trip down the pub. If health begins to flag, up the rations
Fire At Will!
If you want to attack and plunder other ships, then use Chain Shot in you cannons - this will rip apart your quarry's sails, bringing them to halt and leaving them vulnerable to a boarding party. If you use Round Shot then this is likely to hole your target, and the booty will end up at the bottom of the sea. However, bear in mind that Chain Shot and Grape Shot have a much shorter range than Round Shot.
To avoid being boarded yourself - or, at least, to make sure you have a fighting chance of survival if should you ever get boarded - make sure that there's at least one unit of small arms for each crew member on your ship. Also, remember that a soldier with a gun is, perhaps unsurprisingly, four times more effective than an apprentice with a gun.
Never be afraid to run from a fight if you're losing. When you're starting out, you might want to sell your cannon, ammo and repair supplies so that you free up some cash and extra room in your hold. Although this leaves you unarmed, it also leaves you a lot lighter, so you'll be able to outrun any attackers with ease.
Finally, although the life of a pirate may sound very romantic and exciting, it's almost impossible to make a living from. As soon as you open fire on any native or friendly ships, you'll find yourself the enemy of everyone and have absolutely no hiding place to run to when you're wounded.
The sea is a deadly place. As well as natural dangers such as storm or submerged reefs, there's also the threat posed by rival merchants and pirates to deal with. If you think it's likely that combat will occur on your next voyage, buy in a stock of repair materials, such as planks, so that you can patch up any damage to your ship while still at sea.
If your ship becomes severely damaged and starts taking on water, then it's sensible to do something about it pretty damn quick! Depending on the situation, unman the cannons or lower your sails so that you free up some crewmen - these can then be assigned to bilge duty.
When upgrading your ship, bear in mind that it really is a false economy to go for the cheap 'n cheerful options unless you absolutely have to - with the exception of sails, lower-quality ship components will be damaged more easily than higher-quality ones.
If you're a bit short of the readies, and you don't have the cash to go for a full ship upgrade, then the next best thing to invest in is an upgrade for your cannons - you can't go wrong with good guns! Alternatively, only upgrade one side of the ship - and then make sure that you always keep that side towards the enemy during combat!
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