Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail – The Easy-Cheesy Guide to enjoying

Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail – The Easy-Cheesy Guide to enjoying 1 - gameplaylists.com
Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail – The Easy-Cheesy Guide to enjoying 1 - gameplaylists.com
This guide is for those finding the game too hard, even on the easy settings, perhaps because you have not played this game type, or else have not played the earlier Ultimate General (Civil War/Gettysburg) before.

It includes global advice on each aspect of the game – naval, land and campaign interface. Explaining many quirks of the game – giving specific hints and tricks to give yourself the best chance.

Watching videos by The History Guy on youtube is extremely helpful and much superior to this guide, but since there are very few summary guides for this excellent game, at least this one can be referred to quickly.



This guide is for those finding the game too hard, even on the easy settings, perhaps because you have not played this game type, or else have not played the earlier Ultimate General (Civil War/Gettysburg) before. 
It includes global advice on each aspect of the game – naval, land and campaign interface. Explaining many quirks of the game – giving specific hints and tricks to give yourself the best chance. 
Watching videos by The History Guy on youtube is extremely helpful and much superior to this guide, but since there are very few summary guides for this excellent game, at least this one can be referred to quickly.

The Obvious

Use ‘Easy’ settings for both sea and land battles, even if you think you are experienced in one of these disciplines, because each compensates for the other. If you perform in one of these, then you will make enough net return (cash and reputation) on the easier mission to compensate for the poor return on the weaker discipline. 
The game will later allow you to select harder sea missions even on the easy setting, so easy is the place to start. 
Plenty of players have completed very few of the achievements, and some forum posts admit to being bamboozled by the game, so there is no shame in it. 
Some of this content includes Cheesing/Savescumming, which is a moral issue for some, so please feel free to ignore the most gamey suggestions if you wish. 

The Cheesy

One thing you don’t understand for a while is that at certain chapter and post-mission points, the replenishment of arms, ships and weapons in the admiralty is somewhat randomised. So, reloading from the end chapter point may produce much better officers, weapons and ships for sale. 
Similarly. success or failure on the side missions is also randomised, so you can – if you want to really spread the cheese – then you can under-resource the side missions and keep save-reloading until you get all successes however low the success probability of the side missions is. 
Lastly, when the campaign screen offers multiple missions and side missions in the same phase/chapter, do the largest sea missions first, because you will be able to (re-)use those same ships in side missions, whilst you use separate merchant boats to conduct your final land mission of the phase/chapter. In this way the side missions are resolved with your better military ships 
The rest of the advice is less cheesy and more basic ! 

1. Global advice – Naval Combat

– Play through the tutorials as best you can, especially boarding ships and steering ships because capturing enemy vessels is one very good way to fund your success. Also, become familiar with the three ‘health bars’ ships have, and the three types of naval ammunition you can use to deplete each of the three enemy health bars. And finally understand the effect of wind direction on speed, so that you choose the best ‘tack’ to get to where you want to be on the ocean battlefield. 
– Note also that you can launch rowboats from your ships, with a small number of crew, to capture surrendered enemy ships, potentially without any of the crew losses from boarding. The key to successful surrenders is to put your detachment of men into the water as soon as an enemy ship surrenders, to avoid either enemy castaways taking it back, or its countdown timer running out so that it retrieves morale and reverses its surrender. 
– Capturing ships gives you a choice of giving the ship to the admiralty for reputation, or you can buy the ship for your own use by spending reputation. As soon as you get to grips with how much of each of ‘reputation’ and ‘money’ you need, you can alternate between reputation and money rewards. You can indirectly get money by buying a ship for reputation and then selling it for money. You can also remove its cannons and slot upgrades (right click for those upgrades which can be sold back for ‘negative’ money) before selling, for every possible cent of income. 
Note: on easy setting, the conversion of rep to ships to money is much more generous than on normal. On normal and above the only ship-money you may get is from directly selling obsolete ships already in your fleet, 
– For the above reasons the top priority is capturing enemy ships, rather than sinking them. And in order to make them surrender, one great tactic is trapping a craft between two of your ships, in a ‘V’ shape, and then pounding the opposition crew with grapeshot from a frontal angle. In reality it helps to have softened them up earlier by reducing their sails to 60-70% strength by either targeting the masts with your ball shot (thereby doing big damage to one side of the ship) or by targeting the sails with chain shot. 
– In the event that you have to board, it helps to a*sign one specialist vessel, with the best sword-bayonet weapons, overcrewed to the max, with bayonet weapons, and the boarding ship upgrades from research. These usually come at a tradeoff to speed, so a*signing just one or two ships is the way to go. 
– The next large consideration is of optimising (‘minmaxing’) of every aspect of the crew and officer system. This has two main parts – firstly, putting the right officers in the right job roles. And secondly when acquiring better craft, then migrating top rate crew from lesser ships into the ‘reserves pool’ which preserves their experience, and immediately transfers that experience into a more powerful ship. 
– In terms of officer acquisition, as the game progresses your ships get larger, and need more specialised officers, perhaps using only one stat of the 6. Since officers are relatively cheap to hire, consider buying officers which have just one, or two very good stats of the 6 stats available, even if they are not the best officers for your smaller ships today. 
– In terms of crew optimisation, get practiced with how the reserve pool works. It will really help to have a ‘dump ship’ on which you will place all the inexperienced crew, thereby emptying the pool of low rated crew into the dumpship, and then migrate your top rated crew into the reserve pool, to be moved up into the new powerful ship. Remember the objective is to transfer as many experienced crew from weak ships into stronger ships, every time you get a better boat. 
– With similar optimisation logic you want to get the best cannons onto your ships that you can manage. This is not very explicit in the game, but essentially each gun deck has a maximum weight of cannon, which limits your choices for each deck. But ideally many of the weapons can be s*ripped from older and captured ships and then ‘recycled’ into other boats. But if there are really great new cannons for your bigger ships, then you can sometimes pa*s your lesser weapons down into lesser ships. This optimisation of cannon can therefore work in both directions. 
– When evaluating the cannon, both the metre range and the damage falloff graph are really important. It is often best to specialise a ship of each rating into short range and in long range. Otherwise with a random mix of cannon ranges, you will lose track of a ship’s strengths and weaknesses. 
– Further to the re-naming of ships, when renaming them I personally use a cla*sification, as follows: 
Ship rating: crew rating: ship’s specific role: original name 
So for example ‘ 5th : ++ (elite crew): boarding: Ulysses’ 
Or ‘7th: – (noob crew) : dumpship : Caroline 
For me that allows me to understand at a glance in battle what each ship is good at, so that I don’t have to remember the strengths and weaknesses of every ship 
– The anchor is your friend ! Use a double-right click to designate the front ship to stop at a given point, rather than have it carry on its path into an obstacle or off the map… 
– If you are up to the task of managing each ship individually your control is much better than in line formation. In general, if using line formation, try to have ships if the same rating cla*s with similar speeds, as otherwise line formations will move at the speed of the slowest. 
– Use line formations when you are strong, but consider breaking the group and reforming into two groups when flanking. One irritating quirk is that if you break off one ship from the middle of a line formation, any ships in front will stop to wait for the lagging ships at the very back of the line. It is therefore much more efficient to reform into two or more separate lines, to avoid the front ships stalling in combat 
– Two of the most valuable ship modifications are to reduce cannon weight and to add the best sails. Reducing cannon weight will allow more firepower, and more speed in the water. The best (level 3) lightweight modded sails are much better than levels 1 and 2 because the weight of the masts otherwise limits speed improvements due, ironically, to the weight of sails. 
– Other than these, you should only pay for modifications very cautiously on 5th rating ships or worse, or occasionally on transports, and always for a specific reason (such as having a dedicated boarding ship). From rating 4 and rating 3 ships or better, you should definitely be upgrading their damage dealing capabilities. 
– There are some battles which require both naval and land attacks in the same mission. For these it is useful to bring one of the larger merchantmen with 2 cannon decks, and some of your highest crew-capacity regular ships as a supplement. Those regular ships can then be ‘overcrewed’ to provide larger land forces. 
– In terms of fleet management, try not to have more than 1 spare ship, and one trophy ship in your fleet between missions, as you pay maintenance on the ship, even if it is unused. And if it has spare crew you pay for them too, whether on ships or in the crew pool. 

2. Global advice – Land Combat

It is likely that most players will have much more experience of land battles of the Total War kind. For this reason alone, they are easier. But you also only lose soldiers, not the ships and crew together, so any negative consequences are generally less ugly. 
The following are a number of observations (especially from watching the History Guy) as to how to best manage your land battles. 
– Firstly, try to form large or maximal unit sizes for infantry from the start. On easy setting, the AI forms smaller units that are mismatched in a firefight even when weaponry is equal. In addition, you are likely to have more numerical survivors each battle, who will accumulate experience. 
– Unlike the naval game, when you finish a land battle you can always refill it with experienced recruits…there is no dilution of experience in the larger unit when you buy reinforcements from the reserve pool since all reserves are a*sumed to have the same competence as the unit you are replenishing, unlike the crew pool for ships. 
– Secondly, use the group commands to create groups of three infantry units because this always allows for flanking of up to two AI units. It also provides a good compromise of solidity when standing off against the AI equivalents to prevent yourselves being flanked. 
– It is preferable to use the formation ‘sweep’ tool when designating the units’ paths, because this will move the (three) new units into a regular line, which is previewed by the tool. Otherwise, if you move each unit separately you will have a lot more work to do, a lot more chance of them being badly positioned on terrain and a lot more chance of shooting your own troops in the back of the head. Friendly fire, along with rear-flanking fire are the worst things that can happen to infantry, and using the group tool minimises the chance of both. 
– For weapon choice, always prefer sword bayonet versions of the best muskets, as their melee capability is seriously improved. It is worth buying up all of these even before you have the troops to need them, before each chapter ends (and the admiralty refills at each new chapter). 
– Melee is not the first overall strategy in most cases, as you will lose condition as well as many troops. But having sword bayonets on your troops is great defensively. 
– At the end of a mission, do not replenish your lost land troops immediately because you pay their wages. Wait until the next land battle to bring your units back up to strength. 
– Land units also have commanders. Generally, they are of lower stats, with several of their values being redundant on land. It is my a*sumption from experience that firearms and melee ability are the main ones, but stamina and morale also matter somewhat. 
– As with the naval units, especially early on your infantry units may have different strengths and weaknesses. So, I replace their title with a simple codification – Range Only (no bayonets, good guns), Melee (poor guns but bayonets) and Uber (great guns and bayonets). The game keeps track of land (and naval) unit expertise with a star above the unit card. 
– When using naval crew as land units remember they will be a pain to lose if they were experienced crew, so if you need to use these units as infantry then amalgamate them into as large a unit as possible. Not all of the units may be merged into just one unit as they need to be from the same boat and the game limits unit size at 320. To be safe, group them as soon as they land, and then figure out which ones will join together to have the largest ending unit size. They are helpfully compressed into a unit named ‘Division’. 
– Of the other units, cannon artillery needs a lot of micromanagement if the cannons are short range (4lb, 6lb). The good news is that they seem to fire over the heads of your own infantry, so they are unlikely to cause friendly fire unless you have just engaged in melee. 
– Mortars are very useful for a portion of the battle but are prone to get tired and grind to a halt. They are very powerful on small maps but rather weak on larger maps. 
– You probably wont need supply wagons until the major land battles and even so you can often capture both artillery and supply depots in most maps. 
– I have never used whole units of dedicated skirmishers, as you can detach skirmishers anyway from the larger divisions. The latter are slightly vulnerable to breaking, but their main jobs should be spotting the enemy, and offering flank protection and elimination of very weak enemy units. 
– And lastly, on a few missions, the ships with guns can support your land forces. To do this effectively they should be equipped with long range and reduced damage drop-off cannon. 

3. Global advice – Campaign Screens and Miscellaneous

The essential item – the big cheese – is the exploiting of saves and random reloads as mentioned in the first paragraphs of this guide.. 
But below are some additional comments on the campaign screens 
– For career options I prioritise the career points to first look at those which affect my progress the most, for the whole of the game. This tends to be the Admiralty sections, with the exception of Admiralty’s a*sortment, which can partly be mitigated by reloads. So I want more reputation and more cash from day one, and if I am a newbie to the game I probably want the price reduction too. If I am more experienced, and capture a lot of ships I won’t need to buy many ships so I can drop some points in price reduction. 
– I next prioritise survival of my ships and crew, but not officers. And on the basis that prevention is better than remedial action I tend to favour a few ranks of Crew Healing and Damage Control after battle, rather than reducing repair costs, crew hiring costs, or increasing officer survival, especially if you cheese the reload buttons. 
– Any spare career points in midgame I might put into officer and crew training speed as my crew and officer requirements grow over time. It is also where I will tend to outperform career points put in new officer availability, because I am picking officers from the pool with just one or two good attributes, rather than more expensive officers with many good attributes. These lesser crew will also have increased attributes as they get promoted. 
– Towards the end of the game I put points into ship upgrade costs, because this is when I will have the ships of rating 4 or better, when I will have more upgrading to do with more expensive upgrades. 
– I definitely don’t prioritise ‘Luck’ because I just reload if I am ‘unlucky’. Sorry, but I am writing this guide for savescum !!! 
– The game generously lets you preview the ‘trees’ for levelling a ship’s crew, soldiers and research options. Consider these when doing your planning ahead of time so that you know what the future possibilities might bring. 
– The research options are fairly self-explanatory, but in both campaigns your targets would be the level 3 sails, level 2 or 3 cannon weight reduction, and then level 2 and level 3 damage enhancement. For the US campaign you would also want to look at Industry research as a route to ship cannons, and at least 2 of the national arms providers to have enough weaponry with bayonets for your troops. 
– When you have migrated experienced crew into a bigger ship you get to pick fresh new level ups for the new ship. Then it helps to a*sign the crew and officers before deciding which level-ups the crew should have in the new ship. This is because you can see the effect the officers are having before you select which of the level ups to give the experienced crew in a new ship. The choice of level ups for the boat is final, whereas the crew and officers can vary their applied expertise when they move to a new boat. 
– Ideally, you would use a mental checklist such as the barebones one at the end of this guide to do everything in the right sequence. The simple version however is to optimise everything at a chapter end, and tweak everything after each major battle. Management is 50% of the game, and as someone said, most battles are won or lost in the preparation. 

Example Checklists

Chapter Beginning Checklist 
There are 5 chapters in both campaigns, so each time you get to run the chapter checklist… this is a bit like an aircraft takeoff checklist in that it can easily become over-complicated. So excuse me for any minor omissions in the list… 
 How many good ships are there in Admiralty to buy? Or do I want to reload the previous chapter end and reroll the available ships? 
 Ditto but reroll for the largest, best cannons for my biggest ships 
 Now look at the result of the side missions…were they successful ? (consider reload) 
Now, when happy with the rerolls, look at the missions in the new chapter… (and in each episode). 
 What sort of new missions are offered. Plan which to do first (large naval) and which to do last (land battles) in parallel with any side missions. 
 Now review your fleet of ships to consider new purchases, and crew migration to bigger ships 
 If buying a new ship – or if absorbing a captured ship of high rating – then decide which older vessels to migrate the experienced crew from 
 After removing the experienced crew from the smaller boat, and migrating that crew into the new larger ship, release the officers from that ship and every other ship of lower rating into the officer pool, and starting with the new, bigger boat, optimise the new officer a*signments. 
When doing this be sure to look both at your own reserve pool of officers, but also the ones newly available at the Admiralty. 
 Then working from left to right (higher rating to lower rating) re-a*sign the officers as best you can to all the ships of lower rating where you have s*ripped the officers, drawing new additions from the Admiralty where desired. At some point you may run out of good officers or experienced crew, which tells you that it is probably time to sell your weakest ship(s). 
 Then equip (or retool) the new larger ship with the best cannon you can buy. If you are just short of the quantity needed then buy those to put in your stores, and make a note to buy more and re-equip when the Admiralty refreshes stock. 
 Rename the new ships and the old ships appropriately (‘Dumpship’ for an old one perhaps, and 4++ Long Range for a new ship). Rename any ships where crew has degraded, or wghere a new specific role is envisioned. 
 Decommission the old ship removing the cannons and any upgrades. Unless it serves any purpose, never have more than 1 dumpship, to save on maintenance. Strongly consider selling the old ship back to the Admiralty. 
 Fill each ship up to their optimal crew size to be mission ready, but watching the crew slider so that their experience does not drop a level (because you have ‘diluted’ them with fresh recruits). 
 Revisit the missions and turn your attention to the land missions. Do not refill troops yet, but consider whether you need another merchant ship to fulfil the land missions in that episode. 
 If you cant afford more merchantmen, see if any of your military ships might need to be ‘overcrewed’ either as boarding ships or for being sent on land missions where you don’t have enough land troops available. 
Now you are ready for your naval missions in this section. Remember that as long as there is a land mission left undone, you can resend your best ships on every mission before that. Only a*sign the side missions in tandem with the very last (land) mission 
Additional checklist before last land mission of the episode 
 Bring all experienced land soldiers up to full strength (and don’t replace them before the next land mission in another chapter) 
 Review their weapons, targeting the best muskets, and bayonetted weapons 
 Upgrade any officers from the new admiralty pool 
 Rename any units who are now better at melee, ranged firing or both 
 Consider adding more infantry units and support units such as artillery 

 Get the best mix of side missions (which are rerollable to an extent) and troop deployment for this final land mission 
Additional Checklist after each main mission 
 Repair any ships 
 Replace any lost officers 
 Manage any crew promotions 
 Decide on any trophy ships, to sell for rep or to buy for rep 
 If keeping a new ship then process it according to the full chapter checklist above. 
Additional checklist at end of chapter 
 Revisit the Admiralty to buy any best-in-cla*s ships, ship cannon, or bayonet weapons for your stores 
 Do a last check of officers available that you could hire for the future 
 Get a stiff drink, because you have successfully completed the checklist. 

Written by chrishax

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