This guide will look at how best to use your ten structure lots to build ships. It is not intended that you make everything yourself. Some items are required in such small quantities that it is not worth putting up a structure only to demolish it the following day. Other items require a multiple-lot production line in themselves and cannot be fitted in with only ten lots. Purists who wish to make absolutely everything themselves will find ways to do this but the average player is advised to reconcile yourself to having to buy some items.

This guide is written for Freetraders. Whilst shipbuilding can be done by all careers, Freetraders have four significant advantages over other players:

  1. You get access to haulers. Oak, iron, limestone and fir never occur all in the same port. At least two of these will need hauling to your shipyard port in fairly large quantities.
  2. You get access to advanced recipes (after completing the Level 20 Career Mission). These save significant time - some as much as a third - and in the case of the lumber mill will save you having to build a second structure.
  3. You can see all Auction Houses (after completing the Level 20 Career Mission). You stand a higher chance of getting a good deal on those items you need to buy if you can see availability across the Caribbean. You can also better spot what ships are likely to sell where and for how much.
  4. You only pay half tax in enemy ports. As you will be using at least two ports for your shipbuilding set-up, the risk of one of your economic ports getting captured is higher than if you were just making simple goods. With the Tax Evasion skill, you minimise the effect this will have on your profits. You may even find it sensible to gather some raw materials in an enemy port to save time hauling against a 24% increase in cost.

Buccaneers also make good shipbuilders as they get the haulers, Auction House visibility and tax reduction, but they do not get access to advanced recipes.

Some Pre-RequisitesEdit

  1. Check out your server's economic activity. There is no point in making small and medium ships if the Auction Houses are full of them and they are selling at a lower price than you would want to sell for. Even more importantly, read to the bottom of this guide and check that you can actually buy all the items you need that you will not be making yourself. If you cannot obtain Ship Provisioning, you cannot make ships. Your options in that case would be to make something else that does not rely on buying materials or join a Society so that between the members you can make all the ingredients required to build ships.
  2. You should have the following skills: Economic Specialist (a Level 20 Career Mission reward) and Tax Evasion. Travel and all the Smuggling skills are also highly recommended.
  3. You should aim to obtain the following recipe books: Freetrader Manufacture, Freetrader Shipbuilding (both from the Company Office in your nation's capital - you will need the skill Economic Specialist to use them), Water-Stained Plans, Medium Ship Construction, Small Ship Construction, Well-Preserved Plans, Mercantile Ships of the New World, On the Mastery of Ships, A Treatise on Shipbuilding, all 12 Small and Medium Outfitting books, all 3 Logistics of Small Ships books and Interpres Phraseologiae Metallurgicae - The first two books are essential, most of the others you can manage without but not having them will limit the ships and outfittings you can make. For non-Freetraders, A Treatise on Shipbuilding, A Treatise on Rigging and Interpres Phraseologiae Metallurgicae are the essential books. You can easily find out whether you have already learnt a recipe book by finding a copy (in the Auction House for example) and hovering over the icon. If you already know the recipes they will be greyed out.
  4. You must be prepared to invest a lot of time and money into shipbuilding. You will spend longer in the auction houses buying and selling a wider variety of goods than any other player. You will spend hours hauling. And because you will have used a number of valuable Captain Skills just to do econ, you will not have so many points to spare for combat abilities.

What to MakeEdit

This guide uses a Small Shipyard. Whilst this is very limited in the types of ships it can build (Tiny, Small and Medium ships only) it has some significant advantages:

  1. It only takes one lot. This means there are nine lots available for your support structures.
  2. There is usually strong demand for Small and Medium ships. There are lots of low level players around, all eager to try out new ships. But once you have got a Postillionen or Dromedary in your low 20s, it only takes three or four more ships to get to level 50. Consequently most ship demand is for low level ships and level 50 ships.
  3. Small and Medium ships are relatively cheap, meaning you have to invest less money to make them.
  4. The ships are relatively quick to make meaning you are more likely to start getting income from sales quicker and can better respond to changes in demand.
  5. If you do decide to build a medium or large shipyard, the support structures are generally similar so much of this guide still applies.

You should scan past Auction House sales as a guide to what sells. But for the purposes of this guide, I have put together the following list of ships. These are all popular choices and will fully utilise one week of shipyard labour. To emphasise: This is not a list of ships you ought to make, but a ‘typical’ weekly output to work out structures, recipe runs and bought out materials.

Ship Quantity
'Jamaica' Sloop 5
'Dolphyn' Ketch 2 ( 4 are made but 2 will be converted to Heavies )
'Dolphyn' Heavy Ketch 2
'Bermuda' Sloop 4 ( 5 are made but 1 will be converted to a Trader )
'Bermuda' Trader's Sloop 1
'van Hoorn' Snow 4 ( 6 are made but 2 will be converted to Mastercraft )
'van Hoorn' Mastercraft Snow 2
'Cruizer' Snow 2 ( 3 are made but 1 will be converted to a Heavy )
'Cruizer' Heavy Snow 1
'Lexington' Brig 3
'Postillionen' Frigate 2 ( 3 are made but 1 will be converted to a Heavy )
'Postillionen' Heavy Frigate 1

I have deliberately not included any outfittings but you will find you can make most outfittings with the same structure set-up, although you might have difficulty with some cannon and sail outfittings which require bought in materials.

Where to SellEdit

Most players can only see Auction Houses of their own nation in the same area they are in. Below level 17 or so, players rarely venture outside their starter area so selling ships to the British in Guyana, the French in Florida and the Spanish in New Spain is a good idea. Pirates are unlikely to want full-specification ships as Cutthroats can capture their own and Buccaneers can buy the far cheaper Captured deeds.

Above level 17, and also for 'specialist' ships like the Bermuda Trader’s, it may be better to sell in the Antilles as anyone looking for a ship will probably try an Auction House there, except the French whose shipbuilding hub is in Cayo de Marquis in Florida. Postillionens may well find a market in the next-level ports, ie Yucatan for the British, Louisiana for the French and New Granada for the Spanish.

How to Start Edit

You will need a lot of Structure Deeds. Ten at least, and you will probably find yourself knocking down and building structures as the weeks go by. So maybe the first thing to do is build a Draughtsman's Office to make deeds. Unfortunately, the Textile Mill deed requires a Master Draughtsman's Office, so either buy a Textile Mill deed (and you may need more than one) or else build a Master Draughtsman's Office instead.

Next, you will need plenty of building materials. Check F1 help or hover over a deed to see what materials are needed to build it. Make a list of what you expect to need. See if you can buy these from the Auction House or other players. If not, you may have to build some structures just to make building materials.

Finally, before you commit yourself to shipbuilding you will need some money: about 200000 doubloons would be a good amount. To make money and to get some feel for the type of work involved, it is a good idea to start off by making one or more of the key shipbuilding ingredients and selling them through the Auction House.

Good examples would be:

but simpler setups like

should also make you money although they will not prepare you for hauling. As with all economic activity, check that you can sell the goods first before setting up a production line. Shipbuilding materials are likely to sell better in Deep Natural Harbor ports.

Structures and Material QuantitiesEdit

You only have 10 lots so you cannot build every structure you require. This table will help you work out what you are best off making and what you are best off buying. It assumes you are using standard structures and advanced recipes and is for one week's production.

Structure Structure Quantity Output Quantity Required Weight
Shipyard, Small 0.44 Ships    
0.10 Medium Hull 2  
0.21 Medium Square Rig 6  
0.04 Small Fore-and-Aft Rig 2  
0.21 Small Hull 6  
1.00 Total      
Forge 0.06 Anchor 14 28
0.24 Cannon, Small 96 96
0.06 Cannon, Swivel Gun 40 10
0.07 Cannon, Very Small 34 34
0.18 Ingot, Brass 40 (all made into fittings) 40
0.02 Ingot, Gold 4 20
0.80 Ingot, Iron 444 (all made into anchors, cannons, nails and fittings) 444
0.02 Ingot, Silver 4 4
0.01 Nails 18 18
0.02 Ship Fittings, Brass 17 17
0.08 Ship Fittings, Iron 68 68
1.56 Total      
Lumber Mill 0.02 Blocks, Lignum Vitae 20 20
0.04 Blocks, Oak 35 (all made into rigging) 35
0.15 Frame Timber, Oak 26 520
0.07 Keel Section 8 120
0.52 Mast Section 44 440
0.07 Planks, Oak 228 228
0.04 Planks, Teak 54 54
0.05 Ship Stem 8 40
0.96 Total      
Textile Mill 0.21 Hemp Canvas 56 (mostly made into sailcloth) 65
0.05 Hemp Rope 43 (mostly made into rigging) 43
0.04 Rigging 34 68
0.11 Sailcloth 24 48
0.41 Total      
Logging Camp (Oak) 1.17 Logs, Oak 980 980
1.17 Total      
Logging Camp (Fir) 0.04 Logs, Common Wood 136 136
0.52 Logs, Fir 440 (for masts) 440
0.10 Logs, Fir 80 (for wood tar) 80
0.68 Total      
Plantation (General) 0.68 Hemp 165 (all made into rope, rigging, canvas and sailcloth) 165
0.68 Total      
Tar Distillery 0.19 Wood Tar 37 (some made into rope / rigging) 37
0.19 Total      
Mine (Iron) 1.07 Ore, Iron 900 (all made into iron ingots) 900
1.07 Total      
Quarry (Limestone) 1.07 Limestone 450 (all made into iron ingots) 450
1.07 Total      
Ore, Copper 160 (all made into brass ingots then fittings) 160
Ore, Gold 10 (all made into gold ingots) 40
Ore, Silver 8 (all made into silver ingots) 8
Ore, Zinc 40 (all made into brass ingots then fittings) 40
Lignum Vitae 20 (all made into lignum blocks) 20
Logs, Teak 60 (all made into teak planks) 60
Leather 35 (all made into rigging) 35
Cheese, Fine 2 2
Granite 44 44
Ship Provisioning 4 132
Sulfur 11 11
Wine, Fine 2 2

Structure Quantity is the number of structures required, shown as a decimal. As only the shipyard quantity is a whole number, for all other structures you will need to work out how to deal with fractional structure quantities. For example, you need 1.56 forges. You might find that you can easily buy iron ingots, in which case you deduct the 0.8 forge required to make ingots so you only need 0.76 forge and at the same time will not need a limestone quarry or iron mine. If you cannot buy iron, you might decide to run a second forge for three weeks out of five, a second iron mine for one week and a second limestone quarry for the fifth week. Or you might run two forges all the time and maybe make some ammo or cannon outfittings with the spare labour, but you will probably need a second iron mine and limestone quarry to be able to make the additional iron ingots.

Weight is to allow you to plan your hauling and structure locations. For convenience, it is a good idea to have a lumber mill, textile mill and forge in the shipyard port. There is nothing gained by placing a lumber mill in a woodcutting port – you have to haul the same weight whether in logs or in finished oak or fir goods - but having a forge in your iron port could considerably reduce the amount of hauling required. This is worth bearing in mind particularly if you are operating two forges; you could place one in the shipyard port and the other in the iron port.

Naturally, mines, plantations, quarries and wood camps need to be in ports with those resources. The shipyard needs to be in a port with a Natural Harbor. With all these limitations, you will gain most by choosing ports with as many common resources as possible so you need as few ports as possible, and the ports should be as close together as possible. Ideally they should also be near your preferred market for selling, but it is probably more important that your iron, oak and shipyard ports are close together than your shipyard is near your market.

One further consideration is the port Infrastructure Level. All information in this guide assumes the ports you use have no infrastructure, but it will benefit you to pick ports with high infrastructure levels as this not only allows you to produce more but also means you will pay less in recipe costs. You might also check the port tax rates as these too can be adjusted by Port Governors, although they cannot drop below 5%. However, in most cases port resources and geographical location are more important than Infrastructure Levels and tax rates.

At the bottom of the table is the list of items you will usually have to buy. By all means if you have a spare structure lot at any time, use it to make stocks of one of these materials, but this will be difficult for leather and ship provisioning.

Pricing Edit

This guide is not the place to go into too much detail about pricing, but as one of the ideas behind it is to make money it would be wrong to ignore it altogether. So I will just state my own personal policy.

For all prices, I use the base cost to make an item including all structure upkeep costs, and I add a mark-up based on how many structure lot-hours it takes to make.

At the time of writing, for all items except for ships and outfittings, I use a mark up of 200 db per lot-hour. Not only for items I sell, but I use the same mark up as a guide price for items I buy. If I can buy an ingredient for less than 200 db/lot-hr, I will usually buy it rather than make it. If I cannot buy an item for this price, I will try to make it.

Ships take rather a lot of work to make, so I usually add a higher mark up of 300 db/lot-hr. Outfittings are not only awkward to make but also time consuming to list on the auction house, and sales tend to be very erratic, so I add an even higher mark up of 400 db/lot-hr.

What you charge is up to you. See the Economy board of the Pirates of the Burning Sea Forum where there are some tools which will calculate prices with lot-hour or percentage mark ups.

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