How to Combat in Merchants and Marauders

By: Dennis B. B. Taylor

How to Win Battles in Merchants and Marauders

Greetings, fellow travelers! Are you ready to set sail on an epic adventure in the high seas of Merchants and Marauders? Well, look no further! I’m here to steer you in the right direction and share some valuable tips on how to achieve victory in battle.

1. Plan your strategy

When engaging in combat, it’s crucial to have a plan. Before you even set foot on your ship, take a moment to assess the situation. Think about your ship’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of your opponent. Are you faster? Do you have better firepower? Understanding these factors will help you formulate a winning strategy.

2. Utilize your ship’s abilities

Each ship in Merchants and Marauders has its own unique abilities. Don’t underestimate the power of these special features! Whether it’s superior maneuverability, a devastating broadside attack, or the ability to repair damage mid-battle, make sure you fully understand and utilize your ship’s capabilities to gain the upper hand.

3. Take advantage of the wind

The wind is your ally in this game. Sailing against the wind can be a struggle, while riding with it will grant you increased speed and maneuverability. So when plotting your course, pay close attention to the wind direction and adjust your sails accordingly. This will give you an advantage in both catching fleeing opponents and evading pursuing enemies.

4. Assemble a skilled crew

The crew on your ship can make all the difference in a battle. Experienced sailors and skilled fighters can turn the tide of any conflict. When recruiting your crew, look for individuals with valuable abilities that complement your playstyle. Whether it’s a sharpshooter for accurate cannon fire or a seasoned surgeon to patch up your wounded, a well-balanced and capable crew will greatly increase your chances of victory.

5. Be aware of the situation

In the heat of battle, it’s easy to become fixated on your own ship. However, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your surroundings. Stay vigilant and observe the actions of your opponents. Are they closing in for a surprise attack? Are they distracted by another conflict? By being aware of the situation and reacting accordingly, you can exploit openings and turn the tables in your favor.

6. Don’t be afraid to retreat

Not every battle is meant to be won. Sometimes, the best course of action is to retreat and fight another day. If you find yourself overwhelmed or outnumbered, it’s important to swallow your pride and make a strategic retreat. Remember, staying alive and coming back stronger is a victory in itself.

7. Adapt and learn from your experiences

Each battle in Merchants and Marauders is a learning opportunity. Win or lose, take the time to reflect on your performance and adapt your strategies accordingly. Identify what worked and what didn’t, and use that knowledge to your advantage in future encounters. Every battle is a chance to grow and improve as a captain.

So there you have it, my fellow adventurers! By following these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to conquer the treacherous seas of Merchants and Marauders. May the winds be ever in your favor, and may your victories be plentiful!

How to Combat in Merchants and Marauders UltraFoodMess

When combat starts, it keeps going for a certain number of rounds until one of the Captains loses or manages to escape. These rounds are when the players decide which combat action they want to take (starting with the aggressor, the Captain who initiated the battle). At the beginning, the only action available is “shoot,” but in the following rounds, players can choose from the following actions:

  • Shoot: Try to hit the enemy ship with cannon-fire.
  • Board: Try to board the enemy ship.
  • Flee: Try to escape from the battle.

II. Seamanship Contest

When it’s time to take action, we all roll our Captain’s Seamanship skill and have a contest to see who comes out on top. The Captain with the most successes out-maneuvers their opponent and gets to do what they want. But if neither Captain gets any successes, no one wins and we move on to the next round.

If there’s a tie, we add up the numbers on the dice that didn’t get successes. If it’s still a tie, we’ll have to go to the next round, after dealing with any damage from cannons.

If a Captain’s ship is more maneuverable than the enemy ship by 2 or more points, they get a bonus die to their Seamanship skill.

III. Action

(Winning, tying, or losing is based on the roll in the Seamanship contest)

Win by Shooting: When you use your “Cannons” and successfully hit the enemy ship.

Tie or Loss by Shooting: When you roll the dice and each successful roll inflicts a hit, up to the number of “Cannons” on your ship.

Win by Boarding: If you successfully board the enemy ship, the Naval Combat ends, and Crew Combat begins.

Win by Fleeing: If your opponent fails to make any successful hits, you can escape the battle and end the combat.

Remember, any hits made by your cannons are applied before the boarding action. You will proceed to Crew Combat unless your ship is sunk, or if you lose all your “Crew” members. In these cases, the Naval battle will continue.

Damage and Hit Locations

How to Combat in Merchants and Marauders UltraFoodMess

When firing cannons, we need to figure out where they hit. To do that, we roll a dice for each cannon that hits its target. There are different hit locations, like the hull and others, and each one has a number next to it. If that number comes up on the dice roll, then that location gets hit. But here’s the thing – when a hit happens, the target gets to decide which location gets hit. However, there’s one exception. If the attacker has any special weapons, they can choose where the cannon hits. So, it all comes down to how the dice roll and the choices made by the attacker and target.

How to Combat in Merchants and Marauders UltraFoodMess

When it comes to battling at sea, hitting the right spots can make all the difference. You want to inflict as many hits as possible, but it’s important to prioritize your targets.

Imagine that there’s a cube representing each hit location on your opponent’s ship. Every hit you receive moves the corresponding cube down by one step. For example, if you roll two 2s, the cube for the “Masts” location moves down two steps. Once a cube is below 1, it’s removed, and the location is considered “destroyed”. But be careful, because if a destroyed location gets hit again, the damage goes directly to your ship’s Hull!

Let’s take a closer look at the effects of damaging or destroying different ship locations:

Hull: This is the most crucial part of your ship. If the Hull gets destroyed, your ship sinks, and you lose the battle. Plus, your Captain doesn’t make it. So protect your Hull at all costs!

Cargo: The Cargo holds all your valuable resources. Each point of damage to the Cargo reduces your ship’s storage capacity by one. If your Cargo capacity is exceeded, random Cargo Cards are removed. So keep an eye on your Cargo and protect it from harm!

Masts: The Masts are what keep your ship moving and allow you to maneuver on the high seas. If the Masts get destroyed, your ship’s Seamanship is severely impacted. You’ll only be able to roll one die during Seamanship contests and will be limited to the “shoot” action. Preserve your Masts to maintain your ship’s agility!

Crew: If your crew is destroyed, you won’t be able to choose the “board” action and you’ll automatically lose the Crew Combat once it starts.

Cannons: Each point of damage will cause you to inflict one less hit. If your cannons are destroyed, you won’t be able to inflict any cannon hits.

If you manage to survive a combat with destroyed hit locations, it means that your remaining crew members were able to make basic repairs that allow your ship to move around on the Game Board. However, if you engage in another battle, you will still be affected by the damage on the destroyed hit locations. This means that your ship will work well enough to move around, usually going to a port for repairs, but it will still be disabled in combat. In addition, you won’t be able to carry out any Merchant Raids with destroyed locations.

Hits inflicted by two players in the same round happen simultaneously. This means that even if you have been sunk or have lost your cannons, you still get to inflict hits.

Crew Combat: Faceoff on the High Seas!

A clash between rival captains – that’s what Crew Combat is all about! It happens when one brave soul boards another’s ship or when rumors and missions lead to an epic showdown.

Ready? Let the battle commence! Both captains roll their Leadership skill at the same time. Every successful roll translates into a hit on the enemy crew. But here’s the deal: the maximum number of hits you can land in a round is determined by the size of your crew before the dice start rolling.

Doom awaits captains who lose their entire crew. It’s curtains for them, and the victor, well, they can help themselves to some shiny loot from the defeated ship.

However, there’s a twist. If both captains say goodbye to their crew in the same round, the one who scores the most successes wins the battle. In case of a tie, it all comes down to adding up the numbers on the dice that failed to bring success. If the tie still stands, the fight ends with no winner.

Glory Cards: The Ultimate Battle Boosters!

When I’m in a battle as a Captain, I have the opportunity to use Glory Cards that have special combat effects. These cards have specific instructions about when they can be played, and when that time comes, I can choose to play one. If my opponent is also a Captain, they have the chance to play a card as well, following the same timing.

Once we both declare our intentions, the cards are resolved, starting with the aggressor’s card. If no new cards with the same timing are announced, the battle continues.

Special Weapons

There are three types of Special Weapons available. First, “Grappling Hooks” can be used to improve the chances of boarding the enemy’s ship. Then, we have “Grape Shots” and “Chain Shots” that give us better control over which parts of the enemy ship we hit.

I am only allowed to have one token for each type of Special Weapon.

How to Combat in Merchants and Marauders UltraFoodMess

Grappling Hooks: When I’m in a Seamanship contest and I choose to “board”, I can use my Hooks to re-roll any number of my dice. All I have to do is spend (discard) them.

How to Combat in Merchants and Marauders UltraFoodMess

Chain-shots & Grapeshots: Usually, when you roll a dice to determine where a hit lands, the target can choose where they want to be hit. But what if we change that? What if we introduce Chain-shots and Grapeshots? These tokens can be used to alter the outcome of the hit-location roll.

How to Combat in Merchants and Marauders UltraFoodMess

How to Combat in Merchants and Marauders UltraFoodMess

Chain-shot: When you use Chain-shots, each roll you make causes damage to your enemy’s “Masts”. However, if a “Masts” location is already destroyed, the damage does not transfer to their “Hull” during that round.

How to Combat in Merchants and Marauders UltraFoodMess

How to Combat in Merchants and Marauders UltraFoodMess

Grapeshot: When you roll a Grapeshot, it deals damage to your opponent’s “Crew”. However, damage to a destroyed “Crew” location does not transfer to the “Hull” in a round where you used Grapeshots.


If you lose your Captain, there are several things you need to get rid of:

  • Your Captain
  • Your Cards
  • Your Ship
  • Your belongings on the ship (Special Weapons, cargo, Gold)
  • Your Bounty Tokens

On your next turn, you will draw a new Captain and continue playing. If you lose your Captain during another player’s turn, you will reenter the game on your turn.

Your new Captain is assumed to have reached the same level of expertise as your previous one. This means you keep the same number of Glory Points and any Gold you have saved (which can be found in your new Captain’s home-port).

So, here’s what you need to do to set up the Player Board, but with a couple of twists:

1) If there happens to be a pirate NPC hanging out in the sea-zone where the Captain is, don’t worry! Just go ahead and draw another Captain.

2) Now, when it comes to the Gold, things work a little differently. You see, normally you’d get 10 Gold from the game. But if you already have some Gold stashed away, well, you won’t get the full 10. Instead, you’ll take whatever Gold you’ve got, and the game will top you off to make it up to 10. Pretty neat, huh?

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