Puzzle Pirates Choosing an Ocean Beginner’s Guide

Puzzle Pirates Choosing an Ocean Beginner’s Guide by BehindCurtai

Where should you play – a beginner’s guide to choosing an ocean

1. What kind of player are you?
2. How the economies of the new oceans (Subscription vs. Doubloon) differ
3. Where does Midnight fit in?
4. A comparison of the two subscription oceans.

So you’ve decided to play Puzzle Pirates. Maybe you’ve heard that it’s a place to play puzzles while chatting with friends. Maybe you’ve heard that it’s a great game for pretending to be a pirate. Maybe you like the idea of plundering merchant ships with your bare sword. Maybe you clicked a banner and downloaded the game; perhaps you came from Miniclip or Shockwave; possibly, you have a retail box from Ubisoft.

Welcome to Puzzle Pirates. The first thing you’ll be asked to do is choose an ocean which will be your home.

First, lets take the easy case. You may have come here to play with friends that you already know. If so, you want to choose the same ocean they use.

Other than that, I recommend that everyone start with a trial account on the Midnight ocean, at least through March 2005. Yes, even if you purchased a retail box with a free month — start with a trial account. Starting with a trial account extends your playtime (you get both the trial time and the first month).

Although Cobalt will be the most “normal” ocean (explained below), at the time of this writing the economy is brand new, and still incomplete. The only ocean where you can purchase swords or clothing currently is Midnight, and this is expected to last through all of March, 2005. When Cobalt is able to provide clothing and swords to new pirates, it will become the recommended trial starter ocean. More information on the ocean economies is at the end of this guide. (Update: Clothing is now available, although in limited colors, on the other oceans)

Although it may change, at the moment your trial period will last for 10 days of play. This may last you two weeks if you play a lot; this may last you 10 weeks if you only play once a week. At this point, you’ll have an idea of the game, and whether or not you like it.

For your long term home, there is one basic question: Doubloon ocean, or Subscription ocean. Subscription oceans range from about $8.33 to $10.00 per month, depending on the length of time you purchase; a year costs only $6.25 per month in advance. A flat fee covers everything you do. In Doubloon oceans, however, you must make micropayments in doubloons for certain transactions; doubloons cost anywhere from 20 to 25 cents each, depending on quantity purchased. A typical medium-use pirate may use around 30-35 doubloons a month. A casual player may use less than 5; a very light player may use zero or one. Doubloons can be exchanged in-game for poe (Pieces of Eight, the in-game money) by trading with other players. Low usage pirates may be able to survive entirely with traded doubloons, or with an occasional purchase of $3 worth of doubloons.

Now the question is, what type of player do you see yourself as?

1. The casual, “The puzzles are nice, but I don’t see myself doing more than playing puzzles for fun” player. You want a doubloon ocean, currently Viridian. This sort of player can play for free, although for anything more than the most basic of clothing or swords, you’ll need to trade in-game for doubloons.

2. The heavy, “I went through 10 days of play in 20 days or less” person. You probably want a subscription ocean, and almost certainly want to stay on Cobalt.

3. The power player. Are you someone that wants to run a merchant empire, and start it quickly? Are you someone that is willing to pay a little more real money up front for a slight head start at the beginning? Then you want a doubloon ocean, and may want to purchase a few extra doubloons.

4. The skilled player. Some people can play the puzzles, especially the pillaging puzzles well enough that they earn lots of poe. These people will spend less real life cash to play in a doubloon ocean than in a subscription ocean, as they can use their extra poe to reduce their need to purchase doubloons. Some players can earn enough poe that they never need to purchase doubloons.

5. The medium player that wants to either reduce their costs, or get a poe bonus. This player will use less than 35-42 doubloons a month, and so will find their costs are lower on a doubloon ocean than a subscription ocean. They can either keep their extra doubloons for a later month, or sell those doubloons for extra poe now. Keep in mind this trade off: $25 will buy 3 months in a subscription ocean; $20 will buy 90 doubloons. $23 will by 102 doubloons. If you expect to use about 30-35 doubloons a month, this is the break-even point.

6. A merchant-minded pirate that wants an economy that resembles a real world economy. This person wants a subscription ocean, and either Midnight (if they want the challenge of breaking into an established economy), or Cobalt (if they want the challenge of working in a new and starting economy).

7. Someone who wants to play all aspects of the game without worrying about any secondary expenses. You will want a subscription ocean.

How does the economy differ in Subscription and Doubloon oceans?

Doubloon oceans are still young, so the exact details are not yet known. The biggest difference comes from how labor works. In a subscription ocean, each account produces 24 hours a day of labor, that may be split among 1, 2, or 3 pirates. In a doubloon ocean, each pirate may purchase a labor badge (currently at 5 doubloons) and get 24 hours of labor.

In other words, to work at a shop, and earn poe by doing so, you have to pay doubloons which have a poe value.

This is inherently a feedback loop; this makes analyzing the predictable results very difficult. Several people have given differing predictions on what will happen; about the only clear thing is that the economy may not resemble a normal economy, resulting in opportunities for people who can spot and exploit trends. One such opportunity is for a merchant empire to grow quickly by spending doubloons for extra labor.

The bottom line: Doubloon ocean economies will not look the same as real world economies. How they will differ is not yet known. Subscription oceans will most likely seem more “normal” and less suprising than Doubloon oceans. For this reason, I’m recommending that all new pirates play their trial period on a subscription ocean.

How do the established (Midnight) and new (Cobalt/Viridian) oceans differ?

Midnight has 56 islands in 8 archipelagos. Outer arches are distributed in a web shape, surrounding the Diamond and Emerald arches, which are home to the ocean’s largest populations. Midnight is an established ocean with many, many long-standing crews and deeply entrenched social networks.

Viridian and Cobalt are exact copies of each other in island arrangement standpoint. The Viridian/Cobalt oceans are made up of three large arches of 18 islands each, interconnected in various ways. The population is quite dynamic and new islands and shipping routes are being discovered every day! Things in Viridian and Cobalt are evolving and being discovered; remember, these oceans are up and coming.

The Midnight economy will seem strange. This is because it has been subject to at least three different sets of economic rules during the course of the game; because of this, the economic setup on Midnight will be unique, and unlike that of any other ocean. This gives it unique challenges than cannot be found on any other server for people that are into economic activities.

Cobalt and Viridian, on the other hand, have a fresh economy with a single consistent set of rules governing it. Some people will find it easier to work with; others will find that the “bootstrap” nature of the early economy is harder to work with. For example, shops that rely on products from other shops are essentially non-existent at this time (late February); in a month, this will no longer be the case.

For merchants, there is the question of markets and the economy. While Midnight has approximately 25 marketed islands, Cobalt and Viridian have only five. Two of these are near each other; a third is a distance away. The last two are both across hard to travel interarchipelago routes. This means that Cobalt and Viridian have to rely more on NPC merchant shippers to deliver goods, and player shippers have a smaller arena to compete in. This also means that there will be more merchant ships to attack and pillage, but be aware that merchants tend to be hard to find, and the rich ones tend to be very, very hard to defeat.

For most players, the key to keep in mind is this: At this time, only Midnight has a completely functioning economy. Both Cobalt and Viridian currently lack anything other than the smallest ships, and the cannonballs and fuel (rum) to operate them.

For people that are just into basic pillaging activities, Midnight is, in some sense, richer — there is a vast amount of existing crews and flags to work with, and islands to take over; there are some very wealth pirates that are able to run special events on a regular basis, including a weekly treasure ship run. It is generally easier to job with a crew on Midnight, and there are hundred of real, active crews; it is rare to find a notice board without at least 5-10 crews hiring, even in the early morning.

Additionally, there are monthly special events and tournaments that are currently ONLY held on Midnight. Prizes for these include the much sought-after Familiars, currently only available on Midnight.

Competition in both the piratical and merchant avenues is greater on Midnight by the current nature of its increased population. There are many many pirates who make their livings as shop keeps, and many many pirates who make their living as corsairs. If carving yourself a niche in an established ocean seems like a challenge you’d enjoy, then Midnight is for you. If blazing your way through uncharted waters and helping to shape the destiny of a new ocean, then one of the upstart oceans might be better suited to you.

See you on the high seas, and may your cannons find their mark. Unless you’re facing me that is.

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