Tortuga: A Pirate’s Tale – 10 Best Ship Upgrades

Ships are the most important resource in Tortuga: A Pirate's Tale. Without ships, you won't have any way of plundering the Caribbean! A good ship is just about the best thing you can possibly have in the entire game, and upgrades are a key component in creating your ultimate pirate vessel.

Whether you capture a fully-upgraded ship or modify a standard vessel to your specifications, upgrades will make or break your strategy on the high seas. Some upgrades are more impressive than others, though – if you're not sure how to equip your newest acquisition, try these top ten enhancements!

10 Ram

Rams aren't useful on every ship, but when they're part of a specific build they're absolutely vital. As you can probably guess from the name, rams allow a ship to sail directly into an enemy vessel, dealing heavy damage while taking a little damage themselves in the process. The damage is calculated by comparing the ships' masses, so a large ship with a high-tier Frame can tear smaller ships apart with this tactic!

If your team includes Charles Vane, always make sure he has a ram equipped. He has a unique maneuver that allows him to automatically board a ship after ramming it, allowing you to quickly remove priority targets from battle. Your player character can also learn this trick by selecting the Bloodthirsty Ability.

9 Lookout

An upgraded crow's nest is one of the few enhancements in the game that allows a ship to benefit allies nearby. Friendly ships within three tiles of a Lookout ignore accuracy penalties for having obstacles in the line of fire!

Even in the best conditions, an individual cannon rarely has better than a seventy-percent chance to hit, so mitigating penalties whenever possible can save a lot of wasted shots. Charles June-May is a great captain to equip with a Lookout, as he can provide further accuracy buffs to nearby ships as well!

8 Hammocks

Every ship needs a minimum number of crew on board, based on its size – otherwise, it starts to suffer severe penalties in combat and is vulnerable to boarding. Hammocks increase a ship's crew capacity, helping stay above that critical number.

While they're primarily used to keep your action point allotment from decreasing, hammocks are also useful in the early game to help capture better ships. Even a handful of extra sailors is a significant upgrade on the smaller ships you'll be using at the start of your adventure, and can give you enough numbers to overtake a larger enemy.

Don't forget, more crew means more consumption of goods – be sure you can afford to keep your hold topped up with additional food and rum!

7 Cabin

Once you're commanding larger ships, it's time to upgrade from hammocks to a stately cabin! Like hammocks, a cabin increases the crew that can fit on board a ship. At higher tiers, a cabin also provides a morale bonus in boarding combat.

This additional effect makes it especially useful for large ships like Galleons or Carracks, ideally commanded by a boarding-focused captain like Charles Vane or Dayron Esposito. The morale bonus is calculated based on the total crew, so this is truly a case of "the more, the merrier!"

6 Handguns

A rack of handguns provides a flat bonus to the ship's effectiveness in boarding combat. Early in the campaign, it's a good idea to get one of these on each of your ships, since even a small boost represents a significant improvement for starting crews.

Handguns drop off in effectiveness once your crew start numbering in the hundreds, but can still provide just enough advantage to tip an evenly-matched fight in your favor.

5 Hold

The last thing you want to do after plundering a convoy is leave loot behind. There is such a thing as being too successful in Tortuga; if your hold is full, then you may not be able to take all the treasure your latest victims were hauling! Upgrading the holds of a few ships can help solve this problem, giving you just enough space to find a friendly port and offload your ill-gotten gains.

It's always a good idea to have at least one large non-combat ship like a Trader's Fluyt in your fleet, not assigned to any captain. Upgrade its hold to maximize its capacity, and you should have plenty of room for finely-carved tobacco pipes and crates of spices.

4 Grappling Hooks

Boarding an enemy ship is a risky maneuver, but you won't get any payoff at all if your sailors can't get on board in the first place. A failed boarding maneuver is effectively a wasted turn, so it's usually best to wait until you have a high probability of success before giving the order.

Grappling Hooks increase the likelihood that a boarding maneuver will succeed, starting a combat sequence. Be sure to equip the same ship with handguns, sabers, or both to make sure that you win the ensuing fight!

3 Armor Plating

Ships don't start to see ill effects from enemy fire until they start taking hull damage, but once that happens things start to go downhill very quickly. Giving your ships more armor HP means they can soak more cannon fire without any ill effects.

The best thing about armor is that it's automatically replenished after a battle, so you don't need to pay for repairs if no damage makes it through to the hull. Captains with Beloved Ship take less damage overall, so giving Armor Plating to a defense-oriented commander like Seamus Walsh is always a good idea.

2 Sabers

Sabers fill a similar role to handguns, but they are more effective with larger crews. Having sabers on board a ship gives it a bonus in boarding combat based on the current crew size, letting large ships easily overwhelm opponents.

Of course, this means that sabers are – quite literally – a double-edged sword, since each crew member lost during battle will result in a greater loss of combat effectiveness. Overall, though, sabers make captains like Dayron Esposito nigh-unstoppable, and are well worth the investment.

1 Hull And Frame

There are no second chances when a ship sinks. When a vessel's hull points are reduced to zero, it's gone forever, along with all the goods that were in the hold. This means it's critical to do everything you can to keep your ships on the correct side of the water. Hull and frame upgrades increase the amount of damage a ship can take before sinking, making them all-important parts of any build.

Most ships that you capture will have some level of hull and frame upgrades. Even if they don't have anything else, always check for high-tier versions of these important pieces of equipment. You can usually tell if a ship has them in advance, if they seem to take less damage than they should. Once you've captured such a resilient ship, you've got a perfect starting point for any build you want!

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