The Cowardly Scallywag's Sea of Thieves Survival Guide

Strategies for surviving the high seas and those that roam them

The Cowardly Scallywag's Sea of Thieves Survival Guide
Photo by Tom Briskey / Unsplash.

Currently one of the most unique gaming experiences available is developer Rare’s hit pirate sandbox game Sea of Thieves. This game holds a special place on my shelf and I always jump at the chance to play with a group when I can lure my friends to the game with a promise of adventure on the high seas. Although it wouldn’t be an adventure without perils to keep your crew on their toes; each voyage that you and your companions embark on puts you at the mercy of many random dangers. While each island has its own set of hurdles, you will start to realize that dying to them is nothing more than a minor setback as you can be back on your ship in moments. Your boat is your trusty re-spawn point and storage solution that will always be there to make sure that you can swiftly get back in the fight and keep all your loot in one secure place.

So then, what you really have to worry about is what lies in the water, big beasties and sinister swashbucklers looking to poke as many holes in your ship as it takes to send your spawn point hurtling towards the sea bed. Getting sunk is a tragedy; you and your crew may have been out on the water for hours and if you haven’t taken the time to cash in, you probably lost thousands in treasure as well as your valuable emissary flag. So to help your crew avoid this sour end to an otherwise fun night, I’m documenting below how I’ve learned to run away from all of my problems and make it rich in the treacherous Sea of Thieves.

Megalodon Pictured Above With Purple Fin Sticking Out Of The Water. Source: Author.

The Meg

Out of all the random things that can happen to you, the tamest and most pleasant one is to run into a Megalodon. These giant sharks come in many forms and behaviors. If you accidentally make your way into a Megalodon’s hunting ground it will follow you until you leave. This makes getting away from them straightforward and easy to accomplish. If you are traveling straight through an area, are minding your sail positions, and paying attention to repairs, the Meg is just an annoyance. You can pick up a quick batch of treasure from them as well if you shoot a few handfuls of cannons into them, although I hardly find it worth the trouble and ammo as the shark tends to spend a lot of time swimming in hard-to-hit patterns. If you are really in a pinch, sailing close to islands will cause the Megalodon to back off however I’ve rarely found this strategy necessary.

Source: Author.

Skeleton Crew

If you start hearing the battle music and you aren’t being chased by a thirty-foot predator then you have likely just angered some manner of undead. If you observe the open waters to your left or right, a skeleton ship will soon burst out of the water like Davey Jones in the blockbuster film series “Pirates of the Caribbean” and they will soon start trying to blast holes in your ship with the goal to flood your boat until it sinks. Unlike the Megalodon, escape is rarely an option here. Your crew will have to get their cannonballs out and prepare for battle. Each skeleton ship will typically have one type of cursed ball that they will fire at you, but you might just have to hope that it misses when they fire it at you. I wouldn’t suggest making a drastic turn to avoid them though because they are typically not that hard to deal with even if you do get hit with a curse.

There are a few things about these fights that make them easy to fend off. First, the skeleton ships are very good at matching your own ship's speed, so you will have a good shot on them regardless of how well your crew is driving (just don’t run into anything). And second, the skeletons can’t bail their ship of water because they don’t have buckets in their inventories, there is however a lot of them that are fast at repairing. What this means, is that making swift and consecutive hits on different portions of their ship will deal near-fatal damage to them. If you can quickly land 8 hits on their boat in different spots you have just gotten yourself a pain-free victory. Coming across a skeleton ship can be a pain, but learning the basics of ship combat can quickly turn this event into an opportunity to score a small bundle of chests.

Source: Author.

The Kraken

No matter how many times it happens to you, no matter how prepared you think you are, if the water under your boat runs black with ink your crew is probably all thinking the exact same thing: “We are going to die.” And you probably will! But luckily for you, there is a chance of escape as long as you can quickly assess your situation and make it through this as a team. The Kraken will quickly immobilize your boat making escape impossible, so you must prepare for a fight. Everyone needs to quickly fill their inventories with wood, food, and cannonballs. If you can afford it, have one player stay below deck to repair and only come up to deal damage if there aren’t any holes in the ship. The other players are going to be focused on laying into as many tentacles as they can while dodging the Kraken’s moves.

The most detrimental move that the Kraken has, starts with a tentacle opening its creepy mouth (is it a mouth?) and staring at everyone on the boat for a few seconds. If you see this, get everyone indoors as soon as possible. If anyone is left on top, the Kraken will choose one of them and they will get eaten and die immediately. The Kraken will continue to take swings at the boat and the only thing you can do about it is to keep repairing and try to take down as many tentacles as possible before they can sink you. The last move that really takes a toll on your ship is when the beast rears up its longer tentacle and bear-hugs the ship across the middle, cutting off anyone by the front of the boat from going inside. You can use this opportunity to deal some quick sword damage to it, although you will start taking passive damage around it and your screen will start to ink up so make sure you are constantly healing up with food. If you can avoid these moves for long enough, you can survive the Kraken, maybe.

Pictured Is How The Reaper's Bones Ships Appear On Your Ships Map. Source: Author.

Reaper's Bones

There is one group that absolutely makes me paranoid. Reaper’s Bones cause any crew I play with to sleep with one eye open and the other eye looking for black sails on the horizon. Sea of Thieves is a multiplayer game, and seeing another player approach you is one of the most paralyzing experiences in this game if you don’t participate in the most basic form of piracy yourself. I, however, am awful going head to head with real players. So I have some good tips on how to keep a few steps ahead of the Reaper’s Bones.

Your first and most basic step is to keep an eye on your ship's map. The map does not show the location of other players, but if a player ship dons the Reaper’s Bones Emissary then they will show up on your map as a black shadow with the red hourglass insignia and red tallies. The important thing is that they can’t see you, for now. Your best strategy, if you see a Reaper’s Bones on your map, is to hide beyond their vision. If that ship gets all 5 tallies on their emissary flag then they will be able to see all other emissary ships on the water. That is most likely you. If you see a rank 5 Reaper’s Bones emissary ship you can do one of two things, either hope that they don’t go after you or go to an outpost and take down your emissary flag. If you choose to hope that they go do something else, I would at all times keep someone on the ship ready to flee if they see another ship on the horizon.

Source: Author.

Speaking of being ready to flee, there is a really good way to get your ship ready to launch again while you are parked on an island. Most players will have figured this out intuitively, but if you have your sails raised and your anchor raised you will stay in place, I promise your boat won’t float off on you. It then becomes good general practice after parking your boat at an island to raise all of the sails and then raise the anchor. This way if you see a threat approaching all you have to do is drop your sails and you are off, this is a much faster action that one player can easily do compared to the time-consuming and labor-intensive task of raising the anchor. When you are parked this way you can even turn the wheel to spin while in place, this gives you an even greater way to angle yourself towards a good escape route.

So what if none of this works and you and your crew suddenly find yourself in close quarters with a ship full of bloodthirsty bandits? You still have a chance to be the faster boat and escape with your hard-earned loot if you are paying attention to the wind direction and your sails. All you have to do then is simply angle your sails so that they bow out in the wind and you are at top speed. Just remember that bigger boats will have a harder time catching up to you because the ship is harder to turn and operate, so use the wind and hopefully, you can get out before they put too many holes in your boat.

Source: Author.

There is only one more rule of thumb when it comes to these encounters. Do not, for any reason, under any circumstance, let an enemy pirate ship get close enough so that they can board your ship. Just the surprise factor alone of getting killed by a point-blank blunderbuss shot is enough to wipe your whole crew. And once you and your crew are dead and a Reaper’s Bones pirate is on your ship doing all kinds of internal damage, it’s already over.

I have also found one other very risky way to hide from players looking for a fight. To the far east, there is a region of the Sea of Thieves called "The Devil's Roar" that Reaper's Bones don't really enter. It's far from the Reaper's Hideout and treacherous enough to make the trip more trouble than it's worth. In fact, most players in general will tell you that it's more trouble than it's worth. However, once you get over the volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, geysers, and boiling hot sea water you could easily set up shop here as a regular to the area. You will have to sail to Morrow's Peak Outpost to start voyages in that area and once you set off you will most likely never get attacked by (or see for that matter) another player ship for the rest of your voyage. Just make sure to stock up on wood beforehand, the volcanoes can be devastating if you have bad enough luck.

Source: Author.

To Brave The Waters

Sea of Thieves is a dangerous place. Navigating the waters with your closest friends can give you a rush of adventure or even a sense of relaxation as you ride the waves to the next island. But as a beginner, facing crushing defeat to the elements or other players can send you to bed feeling frustrated after what should have been a fun night with your crew. Sandbox games like Sea of Thieves give you the tools to play in whatever way is the most fun to you. I’ve given you the tips that you need to play Sea of Thieves the way that I prefer, but I also encourage you to experiment and find the ways that let you have the most fun. So remember to honor the code, relax, and have a good time. Happy sailing you Scallywags.


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