Making Money – I – Basics
While trading is the simplest money maker in the game, it isn’t simple to do. Below are a few of the many different ways to make money in NA, as well as a progressive order I would consider.
You’ll need a good foundation of reals before you can even START to trade, let alone do it safely. And you’ll want a good amount before you start actively losing ships in pvp or even pve regardless. The kill missions in NA are designed to be difficult. They’ll seem easier to you as you move along and understand the ships and mechanics but to start out, you only have what you have and you need to make do the best you can.
The best and safest way to make reals (and dubs) to begin with is trade missions. But before you do anything – understand that you cannot enter enemy ports without a trade ship. Seriously I cannot emphasize this enough (and you shouldn’t be going anywhere near enemy ports regardless). This will change when the reputation update lands, but we do not know how far off that is. Every single player makes this mistake – they take a trade mission for an enemy port and can’t enter it in the basic cutter because it is not a trading vessel.
Trade Ships will usually have “Trader” in the name, and include:
- Traders Cutter – 500 Hold Capacity
- Traders Lynx (Tlynx) – 500 Hold Capacity
- Traders Snow (TSnow) – 900 Hold Capacity
- Traders Brig (TBrig) – 1750 Hold Capacity
- Le Gros Ventre – 1900 Hold Capacity
- Indiaman – 4000 Hold Capacity
The last two being upper level trading ships and the only ones which don’t include Trader in the name.
So, to begin with:
1) Cargo and Passenger Missions
Start by working on economy missions and work towards getting yourself a fast cheap trading ship.
In the beginning, while using a basic cutter, you won’t have the hold space for cargo missions (500 hold), and will have to ferry a few passengers around before you can afford a trade ship. All trade ships have enough space for at least 1 cargo mission, however the TLynx and Tcutter cannot mount guns AND carry cargo missions – which is fine, because your goal when youre in one of them is to outrun the enemy not engage them.
As soon as you have enough to get a trade ship (or 2), you should start running cargo missions that go TO PORTS IN YOUR OWN FACTION. These can be difficult to find, but the best bet is to go to either Free ports or friendly ports a little ways away from your capital, where they will regularly have missions that go to your own faction’s ports. Take these.
Don’t be worried about getting rid of these missions. In fact, in the beginning the only missions you should ever try and hold onto are gold chest missions which you think you can do by yourself.
Try to save your money up while you do this until you get to a minimum of 200k. 400k if you want to play it more safely. At this point you have enough to buy 2 Traders brigs which makes the time investment more worthwhile. Try to buy them for less than 30k if you can, and make sure they are as fast as possible.
Making Money – II – Trading
The simplest, most lucrative way to make money in the game is to start trading. Once you have some savings and a few traders brigs, you can begin.
Trading involves buying specific products that are produced at specific ports and taking them to a place that buys that product at high value (use the trade tool link below). The best trade routes will go both directions with high value items that you can stock up. With time, you will understand what ports sell what and when to buy the items.
Don’t just buy any item that a port is selling. Very often, those are the very same products that were brought from somewhere else and are now being sold at a premium. You only buy the items that the port produces itself, and even then, you only want a certain quality of item or it isn’t worth the time and risk.
- Rule of Thumb: Don’t trade when the server pop is over 450, if you can help it. Experienced players know the good trade routes and will often camp them or the wind boosts near them. This won’t prevent you from getting ganked, but trading when server pop is low will boost the likelihood of success. If you do, try shorter safe routes or routes that involve using shallow water trading ships.
- Be wary of Alts: Enemy players will often keep an Alt character in your nation to do things like monitor nation chat and keep an eye on common trading ports. They will often keep their hunting ship logged off nearby to jump on you when youre close. Be wary of saying anything revealing in nation chat, and if you see someone talking about doing a run where you’re going perhaps its time to switch to a kill mission bc alts will monitor this. Alts at sea are often players of low-ish rank and no clan or some random clan which you will never have heard of. When you see them, consider altering course to go back to a nearby port.
- Sailing Profile: For many of the smaller trading ships, you will have a different sailing profiles than enemy hunters. Use this to your advantage, sail off of their best profile and on yours. For instance if you get “tagged” by a Le Requin, you know that they can beat any ship sailing upwind, but are horrible going downwind. Sail with the wind directly to your back and you can usually outrun them.
- Crewing Your Ships – While you always want your ships crewed to the max possible, you can gamble on speed by maxing your escort main ship and putting the remainder in Indiaman under fully crewed. In all likelihood, you’ll be pressing [M] and telling them to retreat. In that case they won’t be using their guns anyway so the harm is mitigated.
Escorts and Setup:
Once you have the capital to start trading more seriously, you need to focus on levelling yourself up so you can crew your trade ships and run a decent escort. This means skipping down to the levelling section.
While it may be tempting to run 3 indiaman everywhere and make max profit, having one capable escort ship as your main can save your cargo and punish enemy hunters who often prey solo or in small groups. Try to make sure it has a similar sailing profile as whichever trade ships you’re using (so don’t use a Le Req with an Indiaman).
In my experience, the most typical ships that people hunt traders in are:
- Endymions – Very mobile, and pack a punch.
- La Reqs – Can sail very fast upwind and are boarding nightmares with their super high crew capacity. Try to sail with the wind to your back and outrun them.
- Pirate Frigates/Frigates
When you’re starting out, your escort ship is going to depend a lot on what level you are. Early on, you just want to be fast and to be crewed. If you have DLC, use the DLC for this. If you don’t, check your capital or shipcrafting ports and review the Battle Rating/Ship Details in the arcws link above. Try and find ships near the top of the class where you can comfortably crew them.
Personal Favorite Escort Ships – I like ships with higher BR and lower than average crew requirements. But one thing to note here is that expendability is an important aspect of an escort ship. Hunters are frequently just looking to take down your main ship and will leave your trade ship (obviously, not always). So when looking at these, understand that you may not want to use these ships but if you find a cheap or decent one that you want to unlock, you can take them with you on escorts. DLCs are great because they use seasoned woods and are solid in the role/expandable. In order of preference:
- Constitution – very valuable, but they can usually 1v1 any pirate ship.
- 3-5th rate DLC ships – use ones that are expendable, i.e. not gold, or ones that you would break down for parts the next day. They can be used to block enemy hunters and will still pack a punch.
- Aggies – High crew requirements but they are great ships that can usually be found at reasonable prices and don’t require a permit to build.
- Indefatigable/Inger – Like the connie they aren’t expendable but they do a good job of requiring little crew, and can pvp well.
My preferred setup is to run 1 escort ship as a main. This must be fully crewed. Then I liked to run 2 Indiaman (can be undercrewed) or tradersbrigs fully crewed depending on the level of danger I was seeing on the server while trading (looking at server pop, combat reports, nation chat).
When you notice someone is coming for you, use the sailing profiles tip above to see if you can escape. Keep an eye out for friendly ships/fleets, as well as nearby forts (near faction ports) which you can use for protection if you can’t reach the actual port in time.
When you inevitably do get ganked, set yourself up by determining where you’re going to sail, where you have an immediate shot, etc. If you need to turn, put your sails in the appropriate position and double click the direction you need to turn. Once battle begins immediately press the [M] key to bring up your orders, and tell your traders to retreat. Then your goal is to either take down the enemy, run from him, and if possible protect your retreating ships which may go in stupid directions.
Use Forts whenever possible. Ports will often have fort upgrades that can quickly demast and even destroy small fast pirate hunters. Sail under them without getting in the crossfire if you can.
Making Money – III – Other Methods
3) Analysis of Other Methods of Making Money
There are so many ways to make money in this game, and not many of them will rival trading – but some do, and bring other benefits as well. Two that I particularly like are: 1) Chest/Upgrade Farming and 2) Crafting.
Farming for Upgrades – Profitable
- Chest/upgrade farming can be done at any time – and it is a particularly good way to level up when you are just starting out, which I will cover it in more detail in the levelling section.
- The basic idea is to find a method of obtaining upgrades, determining how much they are worth, and selling them. This isn’t my preferred method because you will eventually want many of these upgrades and I like to make sure I have a good personal stockpile. But many upgrades can be sold for 500k or more so it’s a good way of earning money when you need it.
- Route 1: Gold Chests – find ports that drop gold/silver chest missions and farm them – particularly good when they are 7th rate and 6th rate missions because they are usually the easiest to farm. Talk to people in your nation and find out what ports drop gold chest missions (doesn’t happen all the time, but sometimes it can last for a week when it starts and the ports will always be the same).
- Route 2: Attacking NPCs/Fleets – NPCs holds will be filled with random items, but even low level ships can have good upgrades that you can sell. Fleets are a particularly good way of hitting
Crafting – Profitable, but expensive and time consuming.
Crafting is profitable, but it’s a pain in the behind to set up, requires a lot of reals and potentially doubloons, permits, etc.
- I’ll cover this in more detail in the crafting section but in brief: You need an outpost, then you need to build the proper structure for the items you want to craft, then you need to stock it with the ingredients, then you need to get the product where you want to sell it. You may also need various permits along the way. Any of those links in the chain can be disrupted by gankers.\
- You need to know where people need which items and for that you need to play the game to get a feel for shipcrafting ports, HDF ports, etc. You also need to know what ports produce the items you’ll need.
- The NA map is a good resource for this and it also includes the recipes you might need, but it doesn’t include faction port upgrades – so a port where you can produce coal may not say it on the map if it was a faction upgrade.
- Have an outpost at all these points, and in particular, where you’re putting up Sell Contracts – so you can tp there and collect it when its done.
Some basic ideas:
- Selling cannons and repairs at a major premium in ports where you know people farm for experience (targeting fleets, running HDFs, etc.) can be a good way to make money. There are never enough and they usually go for a ton. A second but also good place to do this is at shipcrafting ports where people will often buy ships but be unable to equip them. I wouldn’t recommend selling cannons/reps at the capital because there is likely already a lot there.
- Sell ships with good port bonusses (from shipcrafting ports) at places with a high volume of players (capital is great, some free ports, and really good trade route hubs, for instance) – especially if you know that that location won’t have a lot of ships with good port bonusses.
- NOTE: To craft ships with port bonusses you need your shipyard to be in a port that a clan has upgraded, and to be in that clan or in a clan that is on their friends list. Most of the major clans will be on each others friends lists, so basically this just means if you want to craft your own ships, you’ll want the port bonusses that being in a clan brings.
Fishing – Not Profitable
- Many new players will try to explicitly go fishing to earn a profit and they’ll base this on outdated guides that say how valuable certain items like bull sharks are. Yes, some random people will buy these from you but by and large you’re talking about 200 reals per RARE fish.
- Fishing is still very useful and when you are sailing most of the time you can just keep it on while you are doing other things. Fish can be broken down into Provisions, which are used for shipcrafting. So selling them at shipcrafting ports is a good way to make a lot of money on them.
- The only item of real monetary value is the Sealed Bottle, which usually sells for around 1million reals on the market (DO NOT SELL IT DIRECTLY INTO THE STORE – use the place contract system or else you will get next to nothing for it).
- Sealed bottle drops are extremely rare/random and will contain the location of a shipwreck. You can only pop 1 at a time. A traders brig will be large enough in most cases to claim the shipwreck. Just be aware that your main ship must be large enough to collect the entire load. You cannot separate the shipwreck cargo up until after it has been claimed. I have heard but have not confirmed that in some rare cases, you may need a le gros ventre or Indiaman to claim the shipwreck. If you go in a brig and can’t claim it, that’s not a big deal (other than time wasted). Go back and get a bigger trade ship (or just go in an Indiaman and save yourself the hassle).
- Only claim shipwrecks when server pop is low or you know there are never enemies in that area.