Now that you have your first island producing resources, it is important to start expanding your empire at a slow but steady rate. Hopefully you will have scouted and found a local uninhabited island which can easily be acquired using your light bombship you received on building a shipyard. Depending on the size of your newly acquired land, repeat the stages of the basic island setup (e.g. Forester, Mine, Fishing huts, Shipyard). However expansion is not just about securing more resources, you will often gain a special with each island taken so be on the look out for uninhabited islands and even if they are small it can be worth taking them for the gained specials and turning them into what I like to call a tribute island and will be discussing later.
Planning your islands is really important as space is at a premium , so there are different types of island use and although an island can often fall under multiple categories it usually revolves around 3-4 roles. These roles are Resources, Ships, Airships, Stronghold.
Resource management is a crucial aspect of the game that is often forgotten in favour of ship combat, however it is very possible to have a smaller army but better resource management and still remain competitive. All islands need to have a small amount of resources to function and the type and amount will vary from island to island depending on the layout/size/availability, one thing of importance is to ensure your island never runs low on food though. Food is probably the single most difficult aspect of Picaroon because it is constantly in a state of flux as you upgrade buildings or build ships, so keeping a close eye on this will help improve your game tremendously.
Tip: While it may seem fantastic to some to build multiple farms it is never very wise as if you have the space to build 2+ farms you likely could have used that space to get an airpad or 2 and these are far more profitable in the long run.
Fishing huts are the best food production building available followed closely by the bakery. The Farm is a necessary prerequisite for a large proportion of later buildings so if you can build 1 do so , however the sea fishing huts are not very efficient and really only useful should you be building a stronghold island with fireship yards.
Tip: Very often a small island will not have the space to fit more than a few resource buildings and as such are best used as tribute islands. What this means is you build an embassy along with as many resource buildings as space allows, ensuring the food levels are enough to support island. Tribute is then set to the nearest 1000 under your production level of each resource, this means as much as possible of the islands production is sent straight to tribute allowing you to forget about the island while maintaining a healthy profit in both tribute score and the rep that brings.
Ship combat is where the big reputation gains are made, without ships it is impossible to expand, so you will need ships almost right away. There are several types of ship and choosing the correct tool for the task is critical.
- Scout: Intelligence gathering ship, fast but with no survival or assault ability.
- Submarine: A more expensive version of the scout with same speed but the added advantage of a stealth mode to survive and minimal firing capability.
- Light Cutter: Used mostly for attacking airships, weak in ship to ship combat but capable of taking out scouts and if necessary taking an uninhabited island. Tip: It is often wise to have a few light cutters escort any major fleet movement as sneaky players will often attack with airships against vulnerable fleets that effectively become sitting ducks.
- Light Bombship: This is your undefended island assault vehicle, if the island is uninhabited or lacks a fleet or island based defence, these get the job done.
- Heavy Cutter: This is your main ship to ship combat specialist, if you plan to attack other fleets these are the ships you want to be using.
- Heavy Bombship: These are for taking out island based defences, watch out for enemy fleets though as even light cutters will destroy these easily in combat.
- Behemoths: Jack of all trades, master of none. These ships are incredibly slow , with the highest armour of any ship and firepower to match heavy cutters in combat and heavy bombships against islands. Tip: While these ships may seem ideal , they are actually often inferior to heavy cutters/bombships because of their slow nature leaving them open to island defences while moving into position and their lack of any special ability.
So what do all these ships have in common when it comes to building your newly expanded island? Ignoring the 2 scouting ships that can be built at any shipyard, all the rest have timberyard of varying level as their pre-requisite meaning this should be one of your highest priority buildings on any island intending to build ships. The light cutter, light bombship and heavy bombship all can be created on islands with relatively little space however due to the cotton mill requirement for both heavy cutters and behemoths these 2 types require larger islands capable of supporting a farm. This is why planning ahead and maximising space is so critical as it allows you to know what type of island you will be able to create.
Tip: Earlier it was suggested to build a shipyard at every island possible, the reason for this is that shipyards are capable of healing damage done to your fleets. So if you have engaged the enemy and your fleet is left heavily damaged or worse burning, the ability to have an easily available shipyard to restore and refresh them is a huge advantage.
Only the largest islands have the luxury of being able to support the vast impressive structures necessary to build airships. Should you be lucky enough to conquer an island with enough open flat space to support building an airpad, they can turn the tide of war heavily in your favour. While airships are very low in health and armour they make up for this with only being targetable by 1 enemy unit and 1 defensive structure. In 1 to 1 combat between an airship and a light cutter (the unit that can combat them) the airship will certainly win, it requires several light cutters to take down an airship and surprisingly not many people build light cutters.
Tip: Airships have the special ability to target specific enemy buildings, use this to take down any defences they have first to allow your fleet in for a better assault.
The higher the level of your airpad the more ammo airships can restock from it , unlike other ships they do not have unlimited ammunition and as such it can often require multiple to'ing and fro'ing to restock unless you space your airpad islands around the map so level up at least 1 so they can store more.Airships are fantastic intelligence gathering vessels and involve many strategic decisions; the reason for this is unlike any other unit they don't just view the square they are in but the squares north/south/east and west of them too. This allows you to view your enemies' islands or movements without them being able to tell you are there (unless they too have an airship at square you are viewing). This is an excellent advantage because very often cunning players will leave ships around the edge of squares ready to ambush the unaware opponent, so using an airship to scout the map removes this problem.Not many players build lenses due to their intense pre-requisites and large food upkeep costs, this means that an airship can a lot of the time sail over any other defences and steal the island without them being able to put up a fight.
Tip: It's very cruel but a few airships can easily wipe out whole fleets of heavy cutters, heavy bombers and even behemoths, use this too your advantage, but beware of the same happening to you and escort your fleets with light cutters.
Most players will not heavily fortify smaller islands; however larger islands require protection from invaders. Defences come in 3 forms not counting ships; these are siege turrets, fireship yards and lenses.
Siege turrets are cheap and mediocre power , they will dispatch any noisy scouts and stop a 1 bomber attack from conquering your island but it is not until they are fully upgraded and in large numbers that they become anything more than a mild deterrent. Lenses are very expensive but the only defence capable of holding off air units , any island you seriously want to protect needs at least 2 level 4 lenses to keep airships at bay. Fireship yards are powerful defences capable of tearing apart most ships , they have the distinct advantage that once fired they always hit the target and that includes submarines diving.It is important to note that defences are not a substitute for ships and while it is possible to "turtle up" your island under heavy defences, they are only strong deterrents and you can never make any island impregnable. It is wise however to have at least 1 island that is heavily defended, preferably one with large storage capacity and the ability to transfer and receive resources through a merchant.
These are what truly make this game unique; specials are small tokens that you purchase either through gold in game or via doubloons from the picaroon website. Specials have a range of abilities ranging from the tiny to the truly awe inspiring, over a wide range of areas. Successful players will largely be successful due to their timing for using specials; these tokens can make or break any battle and help speed up recovery if you are losing.
Tip: You can also obtain a random special from attacking and conquering uninhabited islands so if you see one it is sometimes better to conquer it for the special then leave island unoccupied till you are ready to build.
Specials are limited by the power meter which only allows you to use a certain amount at any given time, so plan your special usage carefully and use construction specials at quiet times when you are unlikely to need to suddenly use your combat abilities. It cannot be stressed how important these specials can be, especially when setting up a new island or storming an opponents base so visit the website and take a look at some of the specials available so you can familiarise yourself with what your opponent could be using.
Towards the end of the game either after a certain number of days or a set amount has been tributed, the game will enter a new phase called the end game. During this phase the top tributers will be awarded with powerful Super ships that are vastly superior to normal units, so it's important to watch the tribute table to be sure the game may not enter this phase earlier than you had expected. During this end game phase even if you were not lucky enough to have been a top tributer and received these ancient vessels of war (Super Ship and Super Submarine) , you can play a game of chance and purchase roulette tokens in game for your own chance at winning one. Spinning the wheel of fate comes at a price though; you require an embassy and 1 million gold, so it's very important to have an island capable of storing this amount of gold or more to access these crucial ships. Super ships are in a league of their own and destroy other ships and islands with relative ease so don't get left behind and be ready to use your specials to bolster your tributing power and claim these ships for yourself.