In a game of Pirates!, your Flagship is the ship that leads your Fleet, and the ship that participates in Naval Combat. If you have more than one ship at all, the game may allow you to reassign "Flagship" status to any other ship in your Fleet as you see fit.

General InformationEdit

In each version of the game, you may collect up to 8 ships together into a Fleet. However, one ship is assigned "Flagship" status to indicate that it leads the Fleet.

As the leader of the Fleet, the entire Fleet will follow where the Flagship goes. In addition, the responsibility of fighting in Naval Combat falls solely on the Flagship - no other ship in your Fleet will see battle.

Flagship status may be reassigned to any ship in your Fleet. Depending on the version you are playing, this ability may be available at any time, or only prior to combat.

Icon Pirates1987 Header Pirates1987Pirates! (1987)Edit

In the original game, Flagship status only affects which ship will fight in Naval Combat and Fort Combat. On the Sailing Map, the entire Fleet is "consolidated" into a single sprite, with the largest ship in the Fleet (by Cargo Capacity) acting as the Flagship.

On the Sailing MapEdit

Main articles: Player's Fleet, Sailing Map
1987 SailingMap Fleet

Your Fleet appears as a single ship. Its icon is determined by the largest ship you have.

In this version the entire Fleet is represented by a single ship on the Sailing Map. The game automatically selected the largest ship in your Fleet (by Cargo Capacity) to lead the Fleet. This determines fleet speed and turning rate, and also determines which ship icon is used to represent the fleet (either a Fore-And-Aft Rigged ship icon or Square Rigged ship icon, based on the selected ship).

The player does not have the ability to select a different Flagship while sailing.

In Naval CombatEdit

Main article: Naval Combat
1987 Combat SelectFlagship

If you have more than one ship in your fleet, you will always be asked to select a Flagship for a coming battle.

Whenever Naval Combat (or Fort Combat) ensues, a menu pops up showing all ships in the Player's Fleet, allowing the player to select any one of these ships as the Flagship. This ship will participate in combat, while all other ships remain outside combat, awaiting its resolution.

Therefore, Flagship Status is only truly assigned for combat, and automatically reassigned once combat is ended (see above). Note again that Flagship status is irrelevant outside combat.

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

In the later version, Flagship status is more important than it was in earlier versions. It is a semi-permanent choice, affecting both combat and normal sailing. The Flagship will physically lead all other Fleet ships in a V formation on the Sailing Map, and has slightly different properties than the rest of your ships. Again, it is the only ship taking part in combat.

In this version it is possible to switch Flagships at almost any given time outside mini-games. The selected ship will retain Flagship status until switched, sold or lost.

Selecting a FlagshipEdit

2004 Menu FleetStatus

Clicking any non-Flagship vessel listed on your Fleet Status menu will assign Flagship status to that vessel. The small Jolly Roger button next to each non-Flagship has the same function.

At the start of the game, the player only has a single ship, which is therefore assigned "Flagship" status. Once a second ship (or more) is acquired, Flagship status can be reassigned freely to any ship in your Fleet.

To select a Flagship, visit the Fleet Status menu, and click on any ship in your Fleet. It is automatically moved to the top of the Fleet list.

You may not Scuttle your Flagship. To do so, you must first reassign Flagship status to another ship. You may only sell your Flagship if you have at least one other ship in your fleet.

2004 SailingMap ChangeFlagship

The Attack Interface allows you to change your Flagship freely, just prior to the battle.

Flagship selection is also offered just prior to Naval Combat. The combat interaction menu offers the option to visit your Fleet Status menu, where you can reassign Flagship status as explained above.

Finally, you can quickly switch between flagships on the Sailing Map simply by pressing the Tab key.

On the Sailing MapEdit

Main articles: Player's Fleet, Sailing Map

In this version, all of your Fleet ships will appear as independent physical models while on the Sailing Map. Your Flagship is the only ship you control directly. To enter a Port, it is the Flagship that has to sail into it. To attack an AI-controlled ship, it's the Flagship that has to be close enough to engage, etcetera.

2004 SailingMap Fleet

A fleet of 8 ships, maintaining the "V" formation behind the Flagship. Each ship is controlled by its own AI, which will constantly endeavour to keep it in formation.

All non-Flagship vessels in your Fleet will endeavour to maintain a V formation behind your Flagship at all times. There is no way to directly control their movements. If the Flagship sails too far away from any non-Flagship in your Fleet, it is automatically slowed down to allow the other ship(s) to catch up.

As a result, selecting a Flagship that is significantly faster than your other ships may cause it to sail erratically, accelerating and decelerating repeatedly to match the speed of your other ships. For this reason, many players prefer to sail with only one ship in the Fleet, to maximize its speed.

2004 PlayerShipSizeComparison

Your Flagship appears artificially larger on the Sailing Map to make it more visible. These two ships are actually a War Canoe and a Mail Runner, which both use the same model but are normally very different in size!

Note that the 3D model of the Flagship is larger than the normal size for a ship of its Type. This is done to make it more visible on the Sailing Map. This size increase is purely for visual purposes, and is not applied outside the Sailing Map (for instance, in combat).

Additionally, damage sources on the Sailing Map, such as enemy bombardment and Shoals, can never sink your Flagship. Any damage that reduces it to 0% hull condition will instead only reduce it to 1%, and the ship will continue sailing. On the other hand, non-Flagship vessels in your Fleet will Sink when their hull condition drops to 0%. This can be taken advantage of, as you can protect a damaged ship by making it your Flagship to prevent it from sinking. Note again that this effect only applies on the Sailing Map.

In Naval CombatEdit

Main article: Naval Combat

As with previous games, the Flagship is the only ship that takes part in Naval Combat. Whichever ship was assigned Flagship status just prior to combat will be the one fighting in the battle. All other ships are assumed to be keeping a safe distance, and will not appear during the battle.

Note that unlike previous games, you do not get an automatic prompt asking you to choose a Flagship for the battle. This is because Flagship status is permanent, so whichever ship was the Flagship on the Sailing Map will also be your combatant in battles. Again, you do get the option to switch Flagships just prior to combat, if you wish to do so.