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Ships are one of the core elements of Anno 1800. They have multiple uses: exploring the map, claiming new islands, transporting goods and items, completing quests, participating in expeditions, patrolling an area, escorting ships, attacking other ships and islands' harbour buildings.

There are multiple types of ships with varying speed, number of cargo slots and item sockets, combat capabilities and other statistics. Some types of ships are especially suitable for particular tasks, while some ships are more flexible and are decent for almost all purposes but do not excell in any of them.

Controlling ships

To select a ship use one of the following ways:

  • Left-click on it when it is inside any of the regions
  • Left-click on the ship in the ship menu at the bottom of the screen
  • Press a keyboard shortcut (number) of the pin which the ship has been assigned to.

Once selected, the ship's interface appears at the bottom right section of the screen. There you can check multiple properties of the ship, including its name, type, cargo, health, maintenance etc. This menu also allows to equip items into ship's sockets or to issue a few different orders like patrolling an area or moving to a different region.

When the ship is selected, right-click on a target in order to perform one of the following actions:

  • Move the ship to a location (you can click on a location either in the game world or on the minimap)
  • Pick up an object from the sea
  • Escort a friendly ship
  • Attack an enemy ship

To deselect a ship left-click any empty spot in the game world or select a different ship/building.

To quickly select a ship again, it is possible to pin it and assign to a specific key on the keyboard (by default numbers from 1 to 9 + 0). There are several ways of pinning ships:

  • Select a ship and then use a keyboard shortcut (by default: Ctrl + number)
  • Select a ship and left-click on one of the pins
  • Drag a ship from the ship menu onto one of the pins (if the pin is already occupied by other ships, dragged ship will be added to the ones already assigned, instead of replacing them)

To see which ships are assigned to a pin, hover over the pin at the top of the ship menu. To remove ships from a pin, assign a ship to a different pin or right-click on the pin to remove all ships at once and reset the pin.

Managing multiple ships

To manage several ships at once left-click and drag over multiple ships to select them all at once, or left-click on the ships while holding Ctrl (either in the game world or in the ships menu at the bottom of the screen). As long as several ships are selected you are managing a fleet of ships, all issued orders will be executed by every ship which belongs to the fleet. Ships in the fleet can travel with two different movement behaviours: individually or grouped. With grouped behaviour ships travel together and faster ships slow down to match the speed of slower ships, while with individual behaviour every ship travels with its own speed, even if the ships within the fleet would have to split up.

Ship limit

There is no hard limit of the number of ships you can have, there is a soft limit instead, determined by influence. Each ship, except for flagship and salvager, requires influence points. Therefore if you are out of influence but want to have more ships, you have to reallocate your influence or increase how many influence points you have available overall.

Ship classes

Ships can be divided into classes based on different properties:

Based on combat capability

  • Trade ships - cannot attack other ships, have no cannons and no weapons are required to construct them, usually have many cargo slots
  • Military ships (warships) - they can engage in combat, escort other ships, they are equipped with cannons and weapons or advanced weapons are required to construct them, usually have fewer cargo slots

Based on wind effect

  • Sailing ships - they are strongly affected by the wind, travelling slower against the wind or faster with the wind
  • Steamships - they are not affected by the wind at all, having the same speed regardless of the direction of the wind
  • Hybrids - they are affected by the wind slightly but they can equip items which affect specifically sailing ships or steamships.

Based on availability

  • Basic ships - they can be constructed in shipyards as soon as population requirement is met
  • Special ships - they can't be constructed without meeting additional requirements, like possessing a specific item or permit, or they have to be bought

Based on the routing

  • Airships - they fly above the oceans and islands thus effectively covering shorter distance than the rest of the ships would on the same route
  • Typical ships - they sail on the water around islands, avoiding obstacles and other ships

Obtaining ships

Ships can be obtained via three different ways:

  1. Construction at shipyards - Ships can be constructed at sailing shipyards or steam shipyards. It requires enough workforce and construction materials and takes some time. Basic ships can be built only after attracting enough population to your cities. Special ships can be built only in those shipyards which are in range of a Harbourmaster's Office (or Docklands) which has specific items equipped inside.
  2. Trade - Many ships can be bought from neutral traders or pirates. Pirates are a good source of special ships, but a trade agreement is necessary. Number and types of available ships depend on the game progression and are different for each trader/pirate. Ships offered for sale don't get replaced automatically, they have to be bought to allow for a new possibly different ship to spawn.
  3. Quests - Very specific quests can be a source of particular types of ships. Great Eastern is awarded by completing a chain of quests for Sir Archibald Blake, once the World's Fair is completed. A quest for Captain Tobias rewards with blueprints which allow for construction of the World-Class Reefer.

Ships properties

For explanation and lists of ships properties, and the comparison of all ships in the game, see: Ships properties

All ships have different properties which determine the usefulness of each ship. Those properties include parameters such as:

  • Ship class
  • Cargo slots
  • Item sockets
  • Hitpoints
  • Damage
  • Range
  • Speed

Transporting cargo

All ships possess one or more cargo slots, each of them can store one item or up to 50 tons of a single type of goods (Oil Tanker is the only exception). Therefore they can serve as a temporary storage for goods or as means of transferring cargo from one place to another.

Manual transport

When a ship is near your island's trading post or pier, goods and items can be loaded or unloaded from the ship. This allows for manual transportation of goods and items between islands. Moreover, you can also transfer cargo between two ships which are very close to each other.

To transfer cargo move your ship close enough to a trading post or pier. When close enough, the inactive button from ship's interface with two opposite arrows will turn into an active button with a crate and two opposite arrows underneath it. Pressing that button opens the transfer menu. On the left side of the menu there is information about your ship: its name, type, cargo slots and item sockets. On the right there is the storage of your island or trade offers of the character the island belongs to.

In case of the island being yours, its storage is divided into goods and items. You can filter goods and items based on their type using the buttons underneath the tabs. Below the buttons there will be a list of all goods or items, restricted to the type of goods/items you selected. If there are more contents than can fit inside of the transfer menu, you can scroll down to see the rest. At the bottom-middle of the transfer menu you can decide how many tons of goods you want to transfer: 1, 10 or everything (default setting, up to 50 tons at a time). Select how many tons of goods or copies of items you want to transfer and then click on the goods/items on the ship's side to move them to the storage of the island; or click on them on the island's side to move them on board of the ship.

Alternatively, you can also transfer goods/items from the ship to the island's storage without opening the transfer menu. When a ship is selected, left-click on its cargo slot while holding Ctrl in order to transfer all contents of the slot into the island's storage.

Automated transport

For more details, see: Trade routes

Goods can be constantly produced in various buildings and consumed by factories or residences. It is therefore important to ensure that goods are constantly being moved from one island to another. Instead of doing it manually, it is possible to set up automated trade routes. After selecting the type of route, ships, islands involved, and good and their quantities, ships will regularly transport goods according to how the route has been set up.

Settling islands

All ships with at least two cargo slots can build a Trading Post on an unsettled island if the ship has the required construction materials on board: 10 Timber (or 10 Wanza Timber) and 8 Steel Beams, and if the player has enough Influence (required amount depends on the size of the island). If the ship moves in range of an empty coast, the blueprint for a Trading Post will appear. Clicking on it and then on the "build" button in the menu that comes up will construct the Trading Post. All goods that were on the ship will be automatically transferred into the island's storage, any excess will stay on the ship.

Wind

The wind direction shown in the upper-left corner of the minimap.

Sailing ships have to consider wind and its direction. If a ship sails against the wind, its speed is greatly reduced, whereas if it sails with the wind in its back, its speed will be increased. Sailing ships' speed indicates the lowest speed when sailing against the wind and the highest speed when sailing with the wind; when sailing at different angles to wind direction, its speed will be in between the lowest and highest value, according to the angle. Steamships are not affected by wind, and the Flagship, being a hybrid, is less affected by wind than other sailing ships.

You can check the wind direction by looking at the arrows in the top-left corner of the minimap. The direction is also indicated over the ocean right next to a ship when it is selected.

Wind direction is random and changes every now and then. This makes sailing ships somewhat unpredictable, sometimes their journey between two places may be very short, other times it can be extremely long due to wind. When it is crucial to have constant speed and reliable travel times, it is recommended to use steamships.

Naval warfare

For more details, see: Naval combat

Even though the main focus of Anno 1800 is managing your resources and economy, naval warfare can play a very important part of the game, depending on player's preferences and playstyle. Warfare can be used to weaken your enemies, gain items, secure islands with vital resources or forge diplomatic relations with AI players. There is no land combat, the only type of combat is the naval combat, which involves ships and harbour buildings.

There are multiple types of warships, each ship with different advantages and disadvantages, depending on the ship's parameters like range, damage, hitpoints, accuracy. For example, a Ship-of-the-line has more firepower than a battle cruiser, but a Battle Cruiser possesses a longer range and is more accurate. Consequently, in most situations a battle cruiser will win a one-on-one sea battle against a ship-of-the-line due to its superior range. However, if a ship-of-the-line can get close enough to a battle cruiser, then the odds can turn in its favor and the battle cruiser may be defeated.

Ship stance

Military ships can behave differently depending on their stance. Hover over the icon of the ship in its interface to see which stance is the active one. Click on that icon to change the stance. There are three stances available:

  • Active Defence: The ship will seek, attack, and pursue enemy targets until they leave the area, then return to its initial position.
  • Passive Defence: The ship will only attack enemy targets within its attack range, and will return to its initial position once they leave the area.
  • All-Out-Attack: The ship will seek, attack, and pursue any target for as long as it can.

Patrolling

Ships can patrol a certain area by following a route set up by the player. Military ships will attack enemy ships which get close enough to the patrolled area. It can be used to protect your islands and ships or to try preventing your enemies from accessing an important area, such as their harbours, neutral traders or pirates, or borders of the regions. A good patrol can effectively cripple enemy's economy by destroying their trade ships delivering goods between islands.

To set up a patrol select ship/ships and then use the patrol button in the ship/fleet interface. Then left-click on desired spots within the ocean to create a patrol route, right-click anywhere to confirm the route. Patrolling ship/fleet has yellow background in the ship/fleet interface and in the ships menu can be found in the "On Patrol" tab. Patrolling ships will travel from the first selected spot to the following spots in the same order as they got picked during creation of the route. After reaching the last spot they will travel to the first spot and sail over the same route again. Ships will be on patrol continuously until cancelled. To cancel the patrol, left-click on the button with a trashcan icon in the ship/fleet interface, or issue a new order. To patrol the same area again you need to create a new patrol route from scratch.

Escorting

Your ships can escort friendly ships by following them, and in case of using military ships they will also protect the escorted ship from enemies. The escort continuously follows their target (even to other regions) and if escorting ships are capable of engaging in combat, they will attack the enemies in case of the escorted ship being under fire. Escorting ships is a central part of one of the types of quests which require the player to escort a particular ship to a specific location or to the border of the region.

To issue an escort order, select at least one military ship and then right-click on the ship which needs to be escorted. Military ships assigned to the escort tasks can be found in the "Escorting" tab of the ships menu. To cancel the escort simply select escorting ships and issue them any new order.

Sending ships to other regions

Some resources can be produced only in particular regions while they might be required in other regions. You might also need to have your ships in different regions for other purposes like quests or war. In order to manage your ships across several regions, you can send your ships and whole fleets to different regions.

To send a ship or fleet to a different region, select the ships you want to move and then press the button with a globe icon in the ship/fleet interface. A pop-up menu will appear where you can select which region and island you want to move your ships to. If you click on the button with the globe icon on the right side from the name of a region, the ships will move to the trading post of one of the islands in that region (usually the first settled island). If you click on the button with the icon and name of the region, it will expand the list of islands you own in that region. Click on the name of the island in order to move your ships to the trading post of the island.

After selecting the destination the pop-up menu will be closed and the ships will start their journey. Ships which are travelling to another region have purple background in the ship/fleet interface; in the ships menu they can be found inside the "In Transit" tab. To cancel the transfer, left-click on the button with a trashcan icon in the ship/fleet interface, or issue a new order. Once the ships reach the destination you can receive an appropriate notification.

Expeditions

For more details, see: Expeditions

Ships can be sent out on expeditions to distant parts of the world in order to obtain various items such as specialists or animals. During expeditions the crew can encounter various events, which might require certain skills to survive them successfully or to gain special rewards. The type of ship, its items and cargo all decide about how well prepared the ship and crew are. Ships which have high number of cargo slots and item sockets are the best choice for expeditions, since they can be equipped with lots of items and goods which will increase the morale and skill of your expedition crew.

Skins

For more details, see: Vehicles skins

Some ships may have several skins available, especially if you own Vehicle Liveries Pack DLC. If the ship interface includes a paintbrush button on the right from the ship's icon, it means it is possible to change the skin of the selected ship. Click on that button to open a small pop-up menu containing all available skins and then click on the skin you want to use.

Items

For list of all items that can affect ships, see: List of Ship items

Most of the ships have at least one item socket, where specific items can be equipped in order to improve ship's properties or to grant it some special abilities. Only items specifically designated for ships can be equipped in the sockets. Moreover, some items are designed only for specific class of ships, like sailing ships or military ships, and they cannot be equipped in other types of ships.


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