Pirates: Rule the Carribean

I play a game on Facebook called “Pirates: Rule the Carribean.” This is my strategy and some WTF’s about the game.

Game Features

These are features of the game that influence my choice of strategy.

Minimal Interactivity

There are only 3 things that you can do to another player in the game:

  • Lower their health by fighting them
  • Possibly plunder some item of their loot when fighting them
  • Join their crew

Being on “the crew” is Reciprocal

If I’m on your crew, you’re on my crew. If you had a crew of 10 and I had a crew of 5, and then I joined your crew, you would have 11 and I’d have 6. Because of this, there’s no reason (I can see) not to be promiscuous and join as many crews as you can. If you’re on someone’s crew, they can’t fight you. Perhaps at higher levels there are personalities and teams and things. As a low-level person (I’m level 19 as I write this), I can’t see any reason not to join every crew I can.

Most Game Events are Random

Although whether you win a fight or not depends on your crew size and weapons, the spoils of war are largely random. In many ways this means it doesn’t matter who you fight.

Strategy

This is how I play, based on the characteristics I noted above.

1. Build experience doing simple jobs

The best job, experience-wise, is called “Recover treasure from a sunken vessel” and it’s on the “Swashbuckler” tab under “Plunder!” It takes 10 energy and gives you 15 experience points. If you want experience, do this job over and over again. I make my energy a multiple of 10, so I can just do this job, say, 4 times, and then ignore it for a while. If you want experience, only do this job.

2. Attack people you can definitely beat

Experience points are random, from 1 to 3, if you win. You occasionally have a bonus where your experience is doubled. There is no incentive to attack someone you might not beat. If I have a crew of 15 and I beat someone who has a crew of 20, I get the same experience as if I beat someone who has a crew of 5. Why risk it? You also get the same experience for attacking “fresh meat” (i.e., people who aren’t playing). You’re guaranteed to win, you’re guaranteed the same amount of experience. What’s not to like?

3. Arm Everyone

Make sure you have one weapon (pistols, rifles, hand grenades), one super bonus thingie (ship’s wheel, golden teeth, shark army, etc.), one defensive item (eyepatch, parrot), and one vessel (rowboat, fleut, gallion) for every crew member. Unless you do, you might not beat people who have smaller crews than you.

4. Keep Coming Back

I typically drain all my energy and strength doing jobs and fighting, then I forget about it. I come back a few hours later, do a bunch of jobs, bury my treasure, then fight.

5. Keep Gold Buried

Bury your gold before you fight. Bury your gold before you leave the game alone for a while. If it’s buried, it can’t be stolen. Although it costs 10% to bury, you’ll lose more than that overnight if you get attacked.

5. Buy the Special “Islands”

Every time you get 2 new crew members, you qualify to buy a new special island. It costs around 8000, and produces 12000 per hour. I have 17 crew members and 6 of these things. ALL the rest of the islands are stupid (see below).

6. Buy the Special Weapons

In their effort to virally market the game, the front page (“Home”) always has some special offering. it’s always the same: 18 attack, 18 defense, 10,000 gold. Every time you get 2 more crew members, you qualify. Always get these. They have no upkeep, they’re relatively cheap, and they are the best weapons in the game.

WTFs

These are things that make me wonder why I play the game at all.

Advancement is Guaranteed

No one can stop me from advancing. My energy renews itself at a certain rate, and when I have enough energy, I do a plunder job. I move up in levels. Nobody can take experience away from me, slow me down, or change the way I move up. Because I know how to test web applications, for example, I know how to write small programs that will watch for my energy to hit 10, then will click the ‘do job’ button. I could just create a program to advance me in levels. What part of this is playing a game?

Gold is Static

I can earn all the gold I want, and keep it buried. When people attack, they can’t get my buried gold. Although it costs me 10% to bury it, that’s much less than I would lose if it was available when people attacked. I try to periodically login and bury my gold. It keeps people from stealing it. I have over 4 million gold now, and I don’t know what to do with it. I wish I could give it to friends or something, but that’s not possible, so it just sits.

No incentive to take risks

Who cares that I’m attacking people who are bigger or stronger than me? In most games, a risky gamble like that pays off sometimes. In this game it just doesn’t matter. I’ll stick to activities that are sure bets.

Most Plunder Jobs are Pointless

The “Recover treasure from a sunken vessel” has only a few requirements (and no minimum crew requirement!). Everything else that gives experience points has a worse ratio. That is, the “recover treasure” job gives you 1 experience point for every 1.5 energy you spend. Everything else requires 1.6 energy, 2.0 energy, etc. to get an experience point.

Now that I have an income of 60,000 an hour or so, I don’t use plunder to get gold or loot. I get loot by attacking people and I get gold by just sitting around. The entire “Plunder” screen is useless to me except that one job.

Keelhauling is Pointless

Keelhauling is when you attack someone and their health goes to zero. They lose some experience points. I guess if I don’t like someone, I can go after them. But I don’t need to do that. It doesn’t matter. You can earn a bounty by keelhauling, but who cares? I can earn 600,000 while I sleep. If I attack someone and I keelhaul them, I don’t get extra loot, I don’t get extra gold, I don’t get extra experience or skill points. I just get one more “keelhaul” in my stats. Whooptie do.

Islands are Pointless

The only islands that matter are the special ones that cost 8000 and produce 12,000 an hour. Get those. The rest are so bad that they’re just not worth buying. Consider a “captured island.” It costs 4 million. Yes, million. It produces a pathetic 8,000 per hour. It will be 500 hours (or almost 21 days) before that thing pays itself off. Why would you pay that kind of money for something so worthless? You can get a tariff station if you turn in that captured island and pay another 5 million. The tariff station earns 50,000 an hour, which is respectable. But at 9 million gold to buy it, it will still be 7.5 days before it pays itself off.

I understand the idea of encouraging recruitment. Recruiting is the only way you get the 8K/12K islands. But this is so absurdly lopsided that it’s just dumb. If I can recruit my way into the game, great, but these other options are so ridiculous that they shouldn’t even be in the game.

What does it mean to win?

Given that I can just play all by myself and advance through the levels, amassing gold and gaining experience points regularly, what does winning mean? Nobody can take my crew away. Nobody can take my buried gold. Although I like my special weapons (shark armies, etc.), it doesn’t really matter if they all get looted. I can advance in the game without them.

I can advance in the game without lots of crew, too. Since most jobs are tied to level, and level is tied to experience, and I can earn experience without recruiting, who cares about recruiting?

I can’t figure out how to measure myself and decide that I’m doing well or poorly. I don’t know what my motivation is to try hard. I click, I advance. I click, I advance.