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Game Info[]

Renaissance Era naval melee unit.

  • Common abilities:
    • Coastal Raider I promotion
    • Prize Ships: Defeated enemy naval units may join your side.


The Privateer is a next-generation sail-based vessel, and arguably one of the best units added in the Gods & Kings expansion. It represents perfectly the corsairs that plagued the Atlantic Ocean in the Renaissance, with its two special abilities:

  • The Coastal Raider promotion allows it to plunder Gold Gold each time it attacks cities.
  • The Prize Ships ability allows it to convert defeated vessels to your side (you can see the chance of this happening in the battle screen). The converted ships appear in the same tile where they were, and have half their hit points. Promotions, unfortunately, do not transfer over when you capture the ship.

The Privateer's combat strength is significant: although lower than that of a Frigate, it is perfectly suited for assaulting coastal cities and taking other vessels through boarding maneuvers. Roam the seas with it, looking for a chance to score against lone enemy ships, or when in a fleet, use it to deliver the coup-de-grace in naval battles, so that you have a chance to capture the enemy ships. You can also use it to get some Gold Gold when besieging enemy coastal cities.

And even better: all these abilities transfer when the unit is upgraded! Note that a Privateer upgrades straight to a Destroyer, skipping ahead of the Ironclad.

Civilopedia entry[]

With letters of marque in hand, privateer captains were given free reign over the seas during times of war, attacking foreign trade vessels at will. Predominantly sailing from the 16th to 19th centuries, privateers were utilized by all of the major colonial powers, particularly Britain and Spain. As the privateer captains and crew were not typically paid by the government who authorized their mission, they were given a share of the spoils captured from the opposing fleets, sometimes creating a murky distinction between privateers and their unauthorized pirate counterparts.


  • A privateer's main goal was to disrupt enemy trade routes, hurting their economy or ability to outfit a navy and army.
  • Usually, the privateer was an entrepreneurial merchant who already owned his own ship, had a ready crew, and knew the seas and trade routes.
  • Generally the privateer worked alone, but sometimes they banded together to form larger fleets, in order to take down some of the heavier marks.
  • The privateer's aim wasn't to sink the enemy vessel - only to capture it and its goods. The booty was usually auctioned off, with the proceeds being split between the privateer, any financial investor, and the crown.

Unofficial custom card[]

Custom homemade card featuring the Privateer.