Friday, March 03, 2006

Sid Meier's Pirates!: Raymondo, Montalban, Lost Cities and Maps

Baron Raymondo works in the following manner.

1. To spawn a Raymondo, the player must pay off one of the Mysterious Traveler in the taverns. It doesn’t seem to matter which one, so long as he offers to sell you information regarding your family. This information costs 1,000 gold on the middle difficulty setting. Once paid, Raymondo will be generated in the city he mentions, but he probably won’t stay there for long....
2. Once created (there is never more than one Raymondo active at a time), he may stay put, but more likely he’ll begin sailing between cities as quickly as he can. I’ve literally seen him pull into port only to leave a second later. It may even be possible that you can’t catch him in a city, that if he’s holed up in a town, he’s triggered to leave once you come within a minimum distance. I base this speculation on the fact that I’ve spent game years on the opposite side of the map doing things, and Governor’s Daughters keep giving the same location hint for him, but the moment I actually go track him down he starts playing Musical Towns.
3. He only seems to travel between full-fledged cities, never settlements.
4. Once caught (requiring the standard ship battle and a fairly easy swordfight), he gives up a map piece to a lost relative and a flat 3,000 gold in plunder, then vanishes from the game until another one is generated by a Mysterious Traveler.
5. If a family member is found while Raymondo is at large, he disappears, and another one must be generated to start on the next map. According to GameFAQs, Raymondo stops appearing entirely once the last map piece is delivered or the last family member is found.

It can be difficult to track Raymondo down, but it is also entirely possible to blunder into him during his frantic city-jumping. It is usually a good idea to have Raymondo roaming around, even when you’re doing something else, in order to encourage these accidents as the battle is seldom difficult and it’s 2,000 gold profit plus it’s worth loot, a fairly valuable ship (usually selling for 1,800 gold) and possible crew members if you beat him.

Beating Raymondo (up to sixteen times in one game) generates family map pieces. Rescued family members generate a Marquis Montalban who roams the board according to similar (if not identical) rules to Raymondo, a fairly difficult fight who can be defeated for 5,000 gold and a piece of the hideout map. Finding the hideout produces a Vs. Indian land battle and then a high-difficulty swordfight against Montalban. (The first trouble I’ve ever had with the swordfighting in Pirates! has been against him.) Beating Montalban here is worth several fame points (maxing out your Villain score), and 100,000 gold, the largest single award in the game. But perhaps more importantly (according to multiple FAQ sources), any remaining family members will give you Lost City maps when rescued, and Governor’s Daughters will also be a bit more willing to cough one up (especially, perhaps, your wife if you have one). There are four Lost Cities in the game, each worth 50,000 gold and fame points when found. The Lost City quest is the hardest to finish, seeing as how you barely even get those maps without either near-mastery of the dancing minigame or having defeated Montalban. You’re probably already halfway through your pirate’s lifespan by the time you’re able to start tracking them down.

Note that all of these maps are worth fame points themselves. If you find a map’s target before getting all its pieces, you’re spotted free fame for all the fragments you didn’t find. Tracking down Raymondo is the greatest time sink in the game, so it is definitely worthwhile to try to find family members before you have the whole map.

It takes a lot of sailing around to hunt down Raymondo all those times, chase down Montalban, find map pieces, search for family members and that hideout, and look for Lost Cities. So ultimately, it seems that Pirates! is a game about optimizing the sailing routes between places. Sea battles aren’t difficult to win at reasonable difficulty levels, swordfighting isn’t much harder, but sailing against the wind for almost the entire board to get to a Raymondo hiding in Cumana can waste a hell of a lot of game time. Because of this, I’m guessing that, of the available skills at the beginning of the game, the most useful of all is either Medicine (giving you more years to do things) or Navigation (which increases sailing speed and helps in sailing against the wind, allowing you to make the most of the years you have).

As far as using maps goes, the most important fragment is the one that tells you its target’s location in relation to a city, since then you can go to your world map and find the area it’s hiding in, going by the shape of the coastline in the map. Maps usually have at least one aquatic landmark in them which can be seen from your boat, although the landmark may actually be in an inland lake (such as when something is hidden north of Flordia Keys).

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have played every version of Pirates! now, from the 1987 original version to Pirates! Gold, to Sid Meier's Pirates!. One thing I can say about all three versions of Pirates! They were and are well nigh the greatest computer game ever made. Every one of them was SO addictive.

Insofar as difficulty was concerned, the original Pirates! was the most difficult. I loved this game even though I never did very well on it. I think I got as high up as a trader or merchant on this game.

The 2004 Sid Meier's Pirates! Live the Life game was not as difficult to play as the original 1987 version of Pirates! was, but it was not easy either. Playing this version, I have managed to defeat and capture the Montalban character twice, and I once was able to achieve the second highest ranking when I quit the game, which is Bishop. This version of Pirates!, although the newest, does have a few minor bugs, though, and unlike the other versions, is quite historically inaccurate, although Atari, who markets the game, acknowledges this fact. When a playe is tracking down nine notorious pirates, he will be tracking down pirates from the 1600s (Morgan), 1700s (Blackbeard), and 1800s (Jean Lafitte), even though some of these pirates in real life lived over 100 years apart. Despite this historical anomaly, this version of Pirates! still is quite addictive because it is so vast and has so many things a player can do, whether it is pirating, privateering, searching for buried treasure, or looking for lost cities and relatives, to name a few of the many tasks one can be assigned to do in the game.

The 1992-1994 version of Pirates, entitled Pirates! Gold is my favorite version, and I rank it the highes of the three versions of Pirates! because it is the most historically accurate. Its difficulty might be slightly less than the other versions of Pirates!, but it is for me still the most fun to play. On this game, I have achieved the highest rank of all (King's Advisor), even at the swashbuckler level. The graphics of this version of Pirates is better than that of the 1987 version of Pirates, but it is not as good as the graphics of Sid Meier's Pirates! Live the Life. This is because in 1992, graphics on computers had not reached the level of excellence of today. Nevertheless, I like this version of Pirates! most of all.

So, I rank these games this way.
1. Pirates! Golsd
2. Sid Meier's Pirates! Live the Life
3. Pirates (1987)

Anonymous said...

An addition: You can also (when you have no clue where Raymondo is) ask the abbot and he'll tell you free of charge!

Admiral Trivates said...

One interesting note about Raymondo is his ability to spawn under the flag of a different nation if you completely wipe Spain off the "accessible" map. (This means: All cities accessible to YOUR ship must belong to anyone but Spain. This exempts Panama, Gran Granada and Puerto Principe) I've seen him sail under the English and the French but I haven't seen him flying Dutch colours yet. I do not know if Montalban and Mendoza can do the same but I assume they can. Also, if you accept an immigrant mission for the Jesuits and offer to escort them to a city at war with a nation that has NO PRESENCE in the Caribbean, the privateers that show up to fight you will be Spanish and they can have MASSIVE amounts of Gold on them. I've intercepted Spanish Privateers carrying anywhere between 5,000 and 25,000 gold when Spain goes extinct. Try it sometime.

Unknown said...

I must amend something I said in my last comment but it won't let me edit them... I said the privateer would be Spanish but that's not necessary. If the nation no longer has a presence in the Caribbean and you take an immigrant mission for to a port of the extinct nation's enemy, the privateers CAN belong to the extinct nation and they will be loaded.

Admiral Trivates said...

Here's another oddity no one's ever mentioned before: If you pummel Colonel Mendoza's ship into UTTER OBLIVION - it NEVER sinks! The report can say there's only one survivor left on the ship (presumably Mendoza himself) but after you beat him, the governor's daughter is still quite safe and sound in the forecastle despite your unrelenting salvos of cannon-fire. I literally blew that ship apart for a WEEK (sun rose and set five times) before I finally boarded it, giving up all hope of sinking it. I've sunk hardier ships than that with my 48-gun Ship of the Line, Lady Kathleen. But oh no, apparently the game will not allow you to "murder" the governor's daughter with cannon volleys, sinking her captor's ship. Hotcha. I want a ship like that :P

Anonymous said...

Because if you sank the Gov's daughter, the point of capturing Mendoza would be over, and more importantly, the Gov would HATE you! Also, the numbers represent the fighters on the ship, not the damsel in distress...

Anonymous said...

O yeah, I don't know why they put in the cities Vera Cruz, Villa Hermosa and Campeche, as they are miles from anywhere and annoying when Raymondo, Montalban, Mendoza or anyone else is there, as it takes 2 months to get there and another 2 months to get back. And then the pirates have to colonise the stretch between Florida Keys all the way around to Vera Cruz, and then from Campeche all the way around past Santa Catalina all the way to Puerto Bello.

Admiral Trivates said...

Of course it's annoying when you have to chase them up there. That's part of the challenge. One of the first things I do early on is conquer those three towns for the French, English and Dutch. Then the Spanish villain never shows up there. It's also good measure to capture St. Augustine, Havana, Santa Catalina, Nombre de Dios and Puerto Bello for the same reason.

Cyclone said...

I played a newer version then 2004 recently and I wiped out Spain. Then I saw Spanish ships (bearing immigrants or military) heading to English, French and Dutch cities. They weren't conquering them, but increasing their size. I have traced the spawning point to the back of Trinidad (other side of the city). Does anyone know why they do this / why the Spanish are helping their enemies?

Admiral Trivates said...

There are three Spanish ships that spawn every year near Trinidad. They comprise the infamous Treasure Fleet. I believe the treasure fleet has a list of cities to which it sails, regardless of which nation owns them.

Admiral Trivates said...

The most common "error" related to wiping out any nation is that if you accept a quest (immigrants, governor etc.) to the benefit of a nation with enemies and the enemy nation no longer exists in the caribbean shores (Panama, Gran Granada and Puerto Principe do not count), then the "[enemy] privateer(s) that show up to intercept the immigrants, governor, whatever will belong to the extinct enemy and they will have a LOT of gold; Comparable to taking out one of the top three named pirates early on in the game. Be careful though, sometimes the enemy ship will have NEGATIVE gold, that will subtract from your current stash and immediately crash the game when you try to go back to sea. Biggest haul I have seen was 100,000+ gold from one of these "privateers" and I typically snag an average of 20,000 gold from them.