How to Get the Best Start in ‘Sea of Thieves’

Joab Gilroy
Games PC Gaming
Games PC Gaming Indie Games Xbox

Rare’s Sea of Thieves is almost upon us. There’s just eight days left until the open-world multiplayer pirate adventure launches, and we’re struggling to contain our excitement. We’ve told you about how gorgeous the water is already, so today we’re going to get ready for launch with a shortlist of how to get started.

Bear in mind that Sea of Thieves is no Subnautica, so you don’t need survival tips. Instead, treat this as a bit of a checklist on the things you should remember before you head out to sea.


1 – Get a Crew Together

Solo-sailing in Sea of Thieves is for experts. The ships in Rare’s swashbuckling adventure are manually managed at every turn, which means going it alone can be like trying to spin dozens of plates on sticks. And if this is your first time playing Sea of Thieves, it’s like trying to spin dozens of plates on sticks, except you’ve never heard of plates before and you’ve only seen sticks in books. So rope in some friends to play Sea of Thieves with you.

If your mates aren’t keen, don’t worry — if you queue into the Galleon as a single person, you’ll be put on a boat with other players. Most of my experiences with other players have been pretty good — a lot of people are keen to show you the ropes — but if you get matchmade with trolls you’ll just have to exit and try again.

2 – Stock Up Before You Sail!

Cannonballs in a barrel in Sea of Thieves
Find barrels like this one and stock up!

When you spawn into the game world, you’ll probably want to head straight for your boat and start adventuring! Before you do, though, make sure you stock up on the basics — planks, bananas and cannonballs. Your ship comes stocked with a bunch of these already, but trust us when we tell you to get more.

The island you spawn on should have barrels littered around it — find them, and fill up! You can carry five planks, five bananas and 10 cannonballs each. You should be much better prepared for what’s coming — you’ll definitely wish your group of four had grabbed 40 extra cannonballs when you’re in the middle of a lengthy ship battle.

3 – Make Sure You Get A Voyage!

There are three voyage vendors around the game world, each with different mission types. The Gold Hoarders want you to find treasure chests, and they’re usually in a tent. The Order of Souls wants you to kill specific skeleton targets — you’ll find them in a spooky store adorned with spooky artwork. And the Merchant Alliance needs you to deliver certain items to certain places within a certain time.

If you’re doing missions for the Merchant Alliance, make sure you also get crates off them. They’ll ask you to get chickens or pigs, and they’ll give you the crates to carry said animals — but you need to actually go back to them to get the crates.

Once you’ve got your voyages, head to your ship and vote on them. On the Galleon, the voyage table is in the Captain’s quarters. On the smaller sloop, it’s just to the right of the first set of stairs. Propose a voyage and get your crew to agree to do it. Remember you have to vote to do the voyage even if you proposed it!

4 – Mastering The Wheel

Steering your ship in Sea of Thieves can take some practice, because boats aren’t as responsive as cars, so it’s easy to find yourself over-steering. There’s a great trick with the wheel, though — there’s a golden spoke on every wheel which represents zero degrees.

It starts at zero, and if you turn the wheel left or right you’ll move in that direction. To go straight again, shift the wheel back to the golden spoke, and when you hear a ‘thunk’ you’ll know you’re going straight.

The golden spoke on the steering wheel in Sea of Thieves
This is the golden spoke, when it's at the top you're heading straight!

There’s a catch to this, however. The wheel on the Galleon will turn 720 degrees to go hard left or right, which means you’ll have to turn it all the way around twice before it locks in one direction.

Keep that in mind if you’re trying to straighten up — if you’ve turned it 720 degrees left, getting back to the golden spoke once will mean you’re still turning left. Listen out for the tell-tale ‘thunk’ noise to know you’ve returned to zero degrees.

5 – Other Turning Tips

There are a few other tricks to turning your ship that you should remember. If your ship is anchored and it’s facing an island, and raising the anchor will run you aground, raise all the sails and turn the wheel hard left or right. Your ship will turn on the spot.

You can also adjust your sails angle to better catch the wind. Keep an eye out on the way the wind is moving in-game, and then turn the sails to get maximum speed. When the sails billow, that’s how you know you’re going full speed.

PVP combat in Sea of Thieves
Ambush players before they turn in and you'll get their rewards!

If you turn your wheel all the way left or right and then drop the anchor, your ship will jerk in the direction you’ve turned. You can use this to do a slick park job when you arrive at an island, but you can also use it to catch enemy ships out when you’re in a battle.

6 – Ship-to-Ship Combat

Fighting other pirates can be a large part of the Sea of Thieves experience, so it’s best to be well-equipped. The Galleon has four cannons on either side, so make sure they’re loaded with cannonballs if you think you’re about to get into combat. Get your helmsman (the player at the wheel) to determine which side you’re going to engage the enemy on, and then prepare for combat!

The trick to sinking an enemy ship is to do damage below the waterline. That’s the part of the ship that goes below water. Thanks to the awesome wave system in Sea of Thieves, you can absolutely get an angle on an enemy below the waterline when you need to, provided there are waves.

But if the water is calm, you’ll struggle to do sinking damage. In those cases, you’re better off doing whatever damage you can and then running — hopefully after you’ve raided their ship for supplies. Of course, you can always think outside the box.

7 – Have Fun

Ah, the old cliche! But seriously, there’s no point playing Sea of Thieves if you’re not having fun! If you get matchmade with jerk crewmates, don’t stick it out with them — bail and start over. If a voyage you’re doing isn’t interesting or is too hard, head back to the table and vote to cancel it instead.

Make sure you spend at least a bit of time getting drunk (in-game) with your friends — you might not know this, but if you get super drunk you’ll begin to vomit. And if you equip your bucket, you can catch that vomit. And if you time it right, you can throw that vomit in another player’s face and blind them!

It’s gross but effective, and something I wouldn’t have found if I wasn’t experimenting with the game and having fun.

Joab Gilroy
Joab is a games critic from Australia with over 10 years of experience and a PUBG tragic.
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