This is one that’s been in the Android Market for a while but I’ve been spending a lot of time with it recently and thought it deserved a look. Pirates and Traders is a non-linear strategy game in the same vein as games like Wing Commander: Privateer. It’s a game in which you make your own way, choosing to play nice and be a trader between the outposts of the four Caribbean powers or playing as an outlaw boarding and taking control of other merchant ships you encounter.
You start the game as a young captain in a ship of your choice and are cast out into the world to make a career for yourself. As a Frenchman, I began my career in Tortuga with the choice between a Barque with a large cargo hold or a Sloop with fast sails and extra cannon. The game is played by moving from port to port with your ship, maintaining food stores to keep your men happy and stave off mutiny, and making money trading goods you’ve bought or stolen. By carefully listening to rumors in taverns you can capitalize on shortages of one trade good in a port and surplus in others. Occasionally you will find someone in a tavern who wants goods moved or a transport to another port of call, which are often easy money but you should check first if you can complete the job in the allotted time.
Life as a pirate is a hard one. Ship combat is modeled in a turn based fashion where you begin trading cannon fire at range, then close the distance to either pelt your opponent’s rigging to prevent them running or decks to destroy their cannon and crew. In the beginning of your career you will encounter captains who are more skilled at ship combat than you and who often defeat you. I had better luck after I made enough money as a trader to buy a bigger ship, a Large Brig to use in my piracy career. There are no pirate ports of call, so even as a pirate you must still play nice with at least one of the four factions to have a place to sell your ill-gotten gains.
As a strategy game Pirates and Traders has depth to keep you coming back for more. I would like to see it expanded, with more missions available and perhaps more ship upgrades. If you’re looking for a good trade simulation this one is worth checking out. The game is available in a free (ad supported) version and a gold version on the Android market.