The Privateer is a Naval melee unit available in the Renaissance Era.


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.


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 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 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, without ever becoming an Ironclad.

Unique Unit Replacements

Icon Unit Civilization Abilities
Caribbean (Henry Morgan) (LastSword)
  • May disembark to become a Musketman variant
  • Doubled City Plunder
Unitflag corsair
The Buccaneers (Henry Morgan)
  • Bonus vs naval units
  • Temporary combat boost upon raiding a Trade Route
Unitflag escuadranacional
Escuadra Nacional
Chile (Bernardo O'Higgins)
  • Earns 75% more Experience in battle
  • -50% Upgrade cost
Sea Beggar
The Netherlands (William)
  • Starts with Coastal Raider II
  • Can heal outside friendly territory
Croatia (Tomislav I)
  • Land Unit which acts as a Privateer when Embarked. Disembarking removes free Naval Promotions, but retains earned ones.
  • +3 City Strength and +1 Gold when garrisoned in a coastal City.

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