The Privateer is a revolutionary unit for two reasons:
- It is (normally) the only unit unlocked via Civic progress, not technological research. This allows Culture-oriented civilizations which are lagging behind on Science to offer a deadly surprise to their adversaries.
- It starts a brand new class of ships, the Naval Raider class.
The Privateer is a true representation of the sea pirates of real history: quick, shadowy ships which appear to terrorize peaceful merchants and coastal colonies, then disappear. Its greatest strength is its invisibility; if its commander is careful, the Privateer may slip unnoticed into enemy waters and wreak havoc on their infrastructure! Its Coastal Raid ability can become a true nightmare for the enemy, with the Privateer appearing out of nowhere, pillaging improvements and Districts, then disappearing into the nearby sea. To perform a Coastal Raid, the Privateer must be next to the land improvement or district that is not separated from the Privateer by a Cliff, and must have at least 3 Movement points remaining.
The Privateer's fighting capabilities are also great. But while stronger than the Caravel (due to being a ranged unit), it is outclassed by the Frigate in both ranged and melee combat. So, when faced with Frigates, try to use hit-and-run attacks to put them off-course. In general, try to avoid fights unless you have a clear advantage, and are attacking solitary ships.
Civilopedia entry Edit
“Plausible deniability.” That principle of avoiding responsibility operated as well in the Age of Sail as it does today. The only difference – and it was a cutlass-edge thin one – between a pirate and a privateer was having a piece of paper, a letter of marque in hand granted by a sovereign. Privateers were privately owned ships (anything from simple sloops to brigs and caravels) commissioned by a government to “gain reparations for the crown for specific offenses [by other nations] during time of peace” … or prey upon enemy shipping in time of war. After the crown took its share of the spoils from the privateer’s raids, the rest – the larger half – went to the owner and crew. Since just about everyone in Europe had a grievance against the Spanish during the colonial era, the 17th and 18th centuries were the heyday of privateering, especially by those English sea dogs coddled by Elizabeth I and by the French Protestant corsairs (who attacked just about everybody).