A Raid is an attack by the Player and his Crew upon any Port. Most often, the purpose of a Raid is to loot the Port for all its gold. However, a particularly successful Raid may allow the player to Conquer the Port, installing a new Governor there.

Raids require playing one or more mini-games, including Fencing, Land Combat and/or Fort Combat, depending on the circumstances and the version of the game. Success in a Raid is primarily influenced by the proportion between the player's Crew and the number of defending soldiers at the target Port.

General InformationEdit

In a game of Pirates!, the majority of action is often centered around Ship-to-Ship Combat: chasing and capturing enemy vessels to get a hold of their cargo and gold, increasing the player's assets and wealth. However, over time the loot taken off enemy ships becomes minor compared to the potential of the player's Fleet and Crew, and rich targets such as Galleons are few and far between.

The most lucrative targets in the game, aside from Buried Treasures and Lost Cities, are by far the many Ports scattered around the Caribbean. Ports usually have more gold on hand than any other target, and particularly-wealthy Ports can net more rewards than the largest enemy ships. This makes Ports exceptionally valuable targets for the player to attack.

Naturally, attacking a Port can be riskier than attacking an enemy ship. Each Port has a force of local militia, whose size is often proportional to the wealth of the Port. Especially-wealthy Ports can have a defending force of several hundred men - if not more. In addition, Ports are often defended by fortifications (Forts), with a large array of cannons to defend from both sea-borne and land-borne attacks. Therefore, the more Gold and Cargo a Port has on-hand to be looted, the harder it will be to successfully defeat its defenses to get the that loot.

As a result, players tend to attack Ports only once their own Crew size has grown considerably. While smaller Ports may be easy to attack with as few as 100 men, it may take a much larger crew to defeat a large, wealthy Port such as Havana or Santo Domingo, which sometimes have nearly 1000 defending soldiers. Attacks on these Ports may cost the lives of many of your men as well, if successful at all.

The ProcessEdit

The first step in a Raid is of course to select your target Port. This is done by examining known data about Ports, possibly acquiring more information from Travelers encountered in Taverns, or even visiting potential targets to scout them out. The decision of which Port to attack rests primarily on the Port's Wealth and Population (with higher values indicating a more lucrative target), and the proportion between the number of defenders and the size of the player's Crew (the more men you have, the easier it will be).

The next step is to reach the target Port and attempt to enter it. Depending on the version of the game, the option to attack the Port may present itself each time you try to enter any Port, or it may only be available if certain conditions are met (as explained in the version-specific sections of this article, below).

Next, based on the circumstances of the attack, the game will determine which mini-game(s) will be played to determine success in the attack. Most commonly, Land Combat will begin between your Pirate Crew and the enemy Militia, culminating with a Fencing match between the two forces (assuming you manage to win the Land Combat at all). The game may skip Land Combat entirely if the player's force is significantly larger than the local defenders to begin with, going straight for the Fencing. Fort Combat, a special version of Naval Combat, may take place instead of Land Combat in some versions of the game when a Port is attacked by sea.

Assuming the player manages to win the engagement, he'll be able to loot the attacked Port for as much Cargo his Fleet can carry. All Gold found at the vanquished Port is automatically looted. In some games, the amount of Gold to be looted can be diminished if the Player's attack is anticipated by the defenders.

Following the looting, the game compares the number of remaining Pirates vs. remaining Militia. If the proportions are staggeringly high in favor of the Pirates, the game will ask the player if he wishes to install a new Governor belonging to any of the four European Nations. This effectively allows the player to change a Port's ownership, restructuring the political situation in the Caribbean. This is called a Conquest, and is a powerful tool that players can use for many different reasons.

Once the attack is complete, the player will either leave the Port automatically, or be taken to the Port's Services menu to conduct normal affairs here.


Raids have a lasting effect on the properties of the attacked Port.

For one, successfully Raiding a Port will lower its Wealth, causing it to have less cargo and gold on-hand for trading. A second raid on the same Port in short succession will, similarly, produce less or no reward, seeing as you've already taken all they had.

Additionally, any defenders killed during the battle do not reappear after the battle. This effectively means that each time a Port is raided - successfully or otherwise - it becomes easier to Raid that port again. This opens up the option to repeatedly attack a Port, weakening its defenders over and over until they are too weak to defeat your pirate crew. However, note of course that any pirates lost during the attack are also gone forever, and more must by recruited to reattain your original crew size.


Main article: Conquest

As explained above, when a Raid ends with many more pirates surviving the battle than local defenders, the Governor of the raided Port may flee for his life, allowing you to install a new Governor in his place. The new Governor may belong to any of the four European Nations - the choice is yours. This effectively allows you to transfer ownership of a Port from one Nation to another.

The ramifications of ownership-change can be immense: it allows you to establish a "forward base" belonging to a friendly nation in an area previously controlled solely by an enemy nation. A good example would be conquering Maracaibo and giving it to the English in order to establish a base of operations in the middle of the Spanish Main. This gives you a place to resupply and acquire more crew and Promotions, if your relations with the Spanish are particularly bad. A base set up in a good position can cut down on long journeys.

Political GainsEdit

A successful attack on a Port is considered a much more "glorious" achievement as far as the European Nations are concerned. Nations who are at war with the owner of the raided Port will be overjoyed about the Raid, thus making plenty of progress in terms of Promotion Points with those nations. Conversely, the owners of the attacked Port and their Allies will take serious offense at the attack, worsening their relations with you much more than a single attack on one of their ships would have.

If a Port is Conquered, the nation who receives ownership of the Port will be particularly overjoyed. A single Conquest can earn you a Promotion with said nation all on its own (especially through the lower Ranks). Again, the Nation that lost the Port's ownership will proportionally be more upset with you.

Icon Pirates1987 Header Pirates1987Pirates! (1987)Edit

Despite being the original version, the mechanics behind Raids in Pirates! (1987) are more complex than in later versions. Most importantly, the type of combat mini-game required for performing a successful Raid differs based on circumstances, and includes the unique Fort Combat. Additionally, it is possible to loot Raided Ports for Cargo (not just Gold), and there are special situations in which a Raid's revenues are far greater than normal.

Initiating a RaidEdit

1987 City EntryMenu

The Port Interaction menu comes up when your ship or crew makes contact with it on the Sailing Map.

The option to Raid a Port is always listed on the Port Interaction menu. This menu appears whenever your Fleet or Shore Party comes into contact with a Port. This means it is always possible to attack a Port, regardless of any circumstances.


Once the option to attack has been selected, the game determines which combat mini-game is to be played as the means to complete the Raid. This is done based on several factors:

  • If the player sailed his Fleet into the Port on the Sailing Map, and this Port is defended by at least one Fort, then Fort Combat (see below) will ensue. If Fort Combat is successful, the game initiates a Fencing match between the player's force and the remaining defenders.
  • If the player sailed his Fleet into the Port on the Sailing Map, and this Port is not defended by any Forts, then a Fencing match between the player's force and the local defenders will ensue.
  • If the player walked his Shore Party into the Port, Land Combat (see below) will ensue. If Land Combat is successful, the game initiates a Fencing match between the player's force and the remaining defenders.
  • If the player's total Crew size considerably outweighs the number of defenders, a Fencing match between the two forces will ensue. This condition trumps any of the other conditions above.

To complete the Raid successfully, the player must win all mini-games presented.

Fort CombatEdit

Main article: Fort Combat
1987 Combat FortCombat

Fort Combat takes place when attacking Fortified Port by sea. It is exceptionally dangerous.

Unique to this version is a type of Naval Combat mini-game called Fort Combat. This Mini-Game plays the same way as normal ship-to-ship combat, with the primary difference that your opponent is not a ship, but the fortifications protecting the Port you attacked. Naturally, this means that your opposition cannot move. However, it is also much more durable to damage, suffering only losses in men and cannons whenever struck by your broadsides. The Fort itself fires broadsides at your ship as often as it can reload its cannons.

The goal of this mini-game is to make contact between your ship and the Fort. Doing so will initiate a Fencing match between your Crew and the defenders. Losses taken by either side during the Fort Combat itself are permanent, and dead crewmen cannot participate in the Fencing portion. The number of men fighting on your side during this Fencing match is therefore equal to the number of men your ship carried into combat minus any dead crew.

Note that Fort Combat imposes a limit on the number of men you can bring to the fight; the limit is equal to the crew capacity of the ship chosen to sail in this battle. While a faster ship can reach the Fort more easily and with less (or no) damage suffered on the way, it cannot bring with it as many men as a larger, slower vessel.

Additionally, if at any time your ship makes contact with the invisible boundary around the battle map, it is considered to have withdrawn from combat. Gameplay will then return to the Sailing Map without further losses.

Land CombatEdit

Main article: Land Combat
1987 Combat Overland

Land Combat is a real-time mini-game requiring the use of cunning tactics and maneuvers to defeat the enemy.

Land Combat is instigated whenever the player initiates a Raid after walking his Shore Party into the target Port.

Land Combat in this version of Pirates! is a real-time battle involving several mobile groups of pirates and defenders. In this battle, the enemy force will attempt to destroy or weaken the pirates as much as possible. The pirates, on the other hand, need to weaken the defending force, cause them to retreat to the Fort, and then make contact with the Fort while maintaining low casualties.

Initially, your crew and the defending militia are split into several teams and armed with muskets. Your teams are placed on the far right end of the battlefield, while the defenders are placed next to the local Fort which appears at the far left. The enemy will attempt to move each of its units to make contact with your teams. Whenever two units are within range of each other, they will open fire with their muskets. Two units in direct contact will fight in melee combat. This occurs in real-time.

The goal of the mini-game is to have at least one unit reach the Fort at the far left end of the field, which would trigger a Fencing match for control of the Fort itself. However, the player is expected to first lure enemy units away from the Fort (and into ambushes), and conduct combat to weaken or destroy them. Any dead men, both from your teams and the enemy's, will not participate in the following Fencing match. To this end, the player must use the terrain to hide some units while using others to draw the enemy into ambushes. Once the enemy feels that it can no longer put up a good fight, its units will withdraw into the Fort and await the impending attack on the city. Note that the Fort itself is a powerful unit that can fire at your teams if they get too close. This barrage must be braved in order to end the Land Combat portion and proceed to the fencing.

Land Combat is often preferred when the number of defenders is considerable. This is mainly because, unlike with Fort Combat (see above), Land Combat always allows your entire Crew to participate in the battle, removing the restriction of how many men can fit into a single ship.


1987 City Loot

After a successful Raid, it is time to loot the city for as much Gold and Cargo as you can carry.

As with any other version, the primary loot from a successful Raid is Gold. The amount of Gold looted depends on the Port's Wealth and Population, with higher values in either (or both) these categories increasing the amount of Gold available to be looted.

Additionally, Cargo can be transferred from the Port's stores to your Fleet. This is similar to the looting menu that appears after a successful Boarding (during Naval Combat). Note that Fortified Ports can be looted for Cannons - which cannot be bought normally through the Port's Merchant.

1987 City LootHidden
Occasionally, the Port's populace may be alerted to your impending Raid. This tends to occur when other Ports or Ships nearby have been attacked recently by the player. Failed attacks on ships and ports seem to increase the chance of this happening considerably. If the populace is alerted, the amount of Gold and Cargo on hand to be looted is significantly decreased, as the people hide their valuables from you.

Also in this version of the game, the Silver Train and Treasure Fleet move from Port to Port during gameplay, according to a pre-set plan. The current location of either can also be acquired by interrogating Named Pirates and Pirate Hunters after successfully Boarding their ships, or from sympathetic Governor's Daughters. A successful Raid on a Port currently hosting either of these convoys will generate a massive increase in looted Gold.

Side EventsEdit

If an Evil Spaniard is hiding at the Raided Port, the Fencing Duel between your Player Character and the Evil Spaniard will take place immediately after the Raid is completed successfully.

Similarly, if the player is on a Mission for one of the Governors, whose target is hiding at the Raided Port, the letter is delivered immediately after the Raid is completed successfully.

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

Raids have been slightly simplified for the 2004 version of the game. Fort Combat has been removed entirely, and it is no longer possible to loot a Port for Cargo. Ports can no longer hide their valuables from you, and the Treasure Fleet can no longer be captured via Raids.

Note that of all visitable-locations available in this game, only Ports can be attacked.

Initiating a RaidEdit

2004 City EntryMenu

This Port Interaction menu appears only in certain circumstances. More often, you'll simply sail into the Port peacefully.

The option to attack a Port appears in the Port Interaction menu. This menu only appears in specific circumstances:
  • Port Interaction appears whenever walking your Shore Party into a Port.

Sailing your ship into a friendly (or not-too-hostile Port) will automatically take you into the Port, without a chance to attack it at all. For this reason, players often prefer to just land their Shore Party close to the Port and walk into it whenever they wish to initiate an attack. If this is not possible (due to the Port being on a very small island), it is possible to raise local Port Hostility by firing at it repeatedly on the Sailing Map, attacking another nearby Port, or repeatedly attacking ships coming or going from this Port. Note that firing at the Port may also reduce its wealth, making it a less-lucrative target (though it may make it easier to defeat).

Also note that the option to attack will be greyed-out on the Port Interaction menu if your current Crew size is very small (less than ~100 men). In this case, you cannot Raid any Port until you recruit more men.


If the total number of men in your Crew considerably outweighs the number of defenders in the Port, and the number of defenders is small (~100 men), the game will immediately initiate a Fencing match between you and the Captain of the Guard on the fort.

Otherwise, the game initiates Land Combat, which may or may not be followed by a Fencing match, as described below. Land Combat ensues regardless of whether you attacked the port by sea (sailed your Flagship into the port) or by land (moved your Shore Party into the port).

Land CombatEdit

2004 LandCombat

Land Combat is a turn-based contest of tactical skill played out on a grid-like battlefield in front of the enemy Port.

In this version of the game, Land Combat is a turn-based strategy mini-game played out on a grid, just like Civilization. Your Crew and the enemy defenders are split into a certain number of teams. Your teams are deployed in a bunch at one of three possible locations (selected by you) at the bottom end of the field. The enemy is deployed at one of three possible locations at the top end of the field. The enemy fort is also placed at the far end, with a single grid tile representing the fort's entrance. The field itself is filled with various terrain tiles, including forests, grassland, impassable barriers, and various grades of elevation.

The goal of Land Combat is to either cause all enemy units to flee, or to get one of your own units to the Fort's gates. During the battle, the enemy's units will move towards your visible units, and will open fire or attack in melee as possible. You can maneuver to attack the enemy units, set up ambushes by hiding units behind forests, and maneuver around impassable obstacles.

Each unit has its own Morale value, and will lose Morale when attacked or fired upon, proportional to the number of casualties it takes in battle. Whenever a unit's morale reaches its lowest, the entire unit will break and flee the battle.

If all enemy units flee the battle, this is an automatic victory. You will be taken to the Looting screen immediately. If all your units flee the battle, the Raid is a failure, and you'll be returned to the Sailing Map without further ado.

If you find Marquis Montoban's hideout, there will be a fencing between you and Marquis Montoban after the land combat victory.


2004 Raid Loot

A Port is successfully Raided and looted for all its Gold.

In this version, the only possible loot to be gained from a Port is in Gold. The amount of Gold looted is based on the Port's Wealth and Population attributes, with higher values in each (or both) attributes resulting in a higher amount of loot.

Once a Port has been looted, its Wealth attribute will fall drastically. As a result, subsequent looting of the same Port will yield 0 Gold! Over time, however, ships bearing New Governors and other Wealth-enhancing effects may raise the Wealth attribute of this Port, making it a lucrative target again. Note that the common amount of Gold looted from a Port is usually much greater than that taken off any ship. The wealthiest ports can be looted for an excess of 10,000 Icon GoldCoin.


Once a Raid is successfully completed, you'll be automatically taken to this Port's Services Menu, and can interact with the Port as normal, including talking to the local Governor, visiting the local Tavern, etcetera.

This is treated as a normal visit to the port for all intents and purposes. As such, a successful Raid will also cost you 7 days of game-time as all Port visits do.

However, due to the increase of Port Hostility here, once you leave the Port you will likely be prevented from re-entering it - at least in the near future.