A Beginner's Guide to Shipbuilding
Before you read this guide make sure you have read the entire Economy Guide and that you are familiar with the basics of the economy. Shipbuilding may appear easy, but it does require you to learn and understand more advanced economic topics.
This guide will look at how best to use your ten structure lots to build ships. It is not intended that you make everything yourself. Some items are required in such small quantities that it is not worth putting up a structure only to demolish it the following day. Other items require a multiple-lot production line in themselves and cannot be fitted in with only ten lots. Purists who wish to make absolutely everything themselves will find ways to do this but the average player is advised to reconcile yourself to having to buy some items.
This guide is written for Freetraders. Whilst shipbuilding can be done by all careers, Freetraders have four significant advantages over other players:
Buccaneers also make good shipbuilders as they get the haulers, Auction House visibility and tax reduction, but they do not get access to advanced recipes.
What to Make
This guide uses a Small Shipyard. Whilst this is very limited in the types of ships it can build (Tiny, Small and Medium ships only) it has some significant advantages:
You should scan past Auction House sales as a guide to what sells. But for the purposes of this guide, I have put together the following list of ships. These are all popular choices and will fully utilise one week of shipyard labour. To emphasise: This is not a list of ships you ought to make, but a ‘typical’ weekly output to work out structures, recipe runs and bought out materials.
I have deliberately not included any outfittings but you will find you can make most outfittings with the same structure set-up, although you might have difficulty with some cannon and sail outfittings which require bought in materials.
Where to Sell
Above level 17, and also for 'specialist' ships like the Bermuda Trader’s, it may be better to sell in the Antilles as anyone looking for a ship will probably try an Auction House there, except the French whose shipbuilding hub is in Cayo de Marquis in Florida. Postillionens may well find a market in the next-level ports, ie Yucatan for the British, Louisiana for the French and New Granada for the Spanish.
How to Start
You will need a lot of Structure Deeds. Ten at least, and you will probably find yourself knocking down and building structures as the weeks go by. So maybe the first thing to do is build a Draughtsman's Office to make deeds. Unfortunately, the Textile Mill deed requires a Master Draughtsman's Office, so either buy a Textile Mill deed (and you may need more than one) or else build a Master Draughtsman's Office instead.
Next, you will need plenty of building materials. Check F1 help or hover over a deed to see what materials are needed to build it. Make a list of what you expect to need. See if you can buy these from the Auction House or other players. If not, you may have to build some structures just to make building materials.
Finally, before you commit yourself to shipbuilding you will need some money: about 200000 doubloons would be a good amount. To make money and to get some feel for the type of work involved, it is a good idea to start off by making one or more of the key shipbuilding ingredients and selling them through the Auction House.
Good examples would be:
But simpler items would be:
Doing this should also make you money, although it will not prepare you for hauling. As with all economic activity, check that you can sell the goods first before setting up a production line. Shipbuilding materials are likely to sell better in Deep Natural Harbor ports.
Structures and Material Quantities
You only have 10 lots so you cannot build every structure you require. This table will help you work out what you are best off making and what you are best off buying. It assumes you are using standard structures and advanced recipes and is for one week's production.
Structure Quantity is the number of structures required, shown as a decimal. As only the shipyard quantity is a whole number, for all other structures you will need to work out how to deal with fractional structure quantities. For example, you need 1.56 forges. You might find that you can easily buy iron ingots, in which case you deduct the 0.8 forge required to make ingots so you only need 0.76 forge and at the same time will not need a limestone quarry or iron mine. If you cannot buy iron, you might decide to run a second forge for three weeks out of five, a second iron mine for one week and a second limestone quarry for the fifth week. Or you might run two forges all the time and maybe make some ammo or cannon outfittings with the spare labour, but you will probably need a second iron mine and limestone quarry to be able to make the additional iron ingots.
Weight is to allow you to plan your hauling and structure locations. For convenience, it is a good idea to have a lumber mill, textile mill and forge in the shipyard port. There is nothing gained by placing a lumber mill in a woodcutting port – you have to haul the same weight whether in logs or in finished oak or fir goods - but having a forge in your iron port could considerably reduce the amount of hauling required. This is worth bearing in mind particularly if you are operating two forges; you could place one in the shipyard port and the other in the iron port.
Naturally, mines, plantations, quarries and wood camps need to be in ports with those resources. The shipyard needs to be in a port with a Natural Harbor. With all these limitations, you will gain most by choosing ports with as many common resources as possible so you need as few ports as possible, and the ports should be as close together as possible. Ideally they should also be near your preferred market for selling, but it is probably more important that your iron, oak and shipyard ports are close together than your shipyard is near your market.
One further consideration is the port Infrastructure Level. All information in this guide assumes the ports you use have no infrastructure, but it will benefit you to pick ports with high infrastructure levels as this not only allows you to produce more but also means you will pay less in recipe costs. You might also check the port tax rates as these too can be adjusted by Port Governors, although they cannot drop below 5%. However, in most cases port resources and geographical location are more important than Infrastructure Levels and tax rates.
At the bottom of the table is the list of items you will usually have to buy. By all means if you have a spare structure lot at any time, use it to make stocks of one of these materials, but this will be difficult for leather and ship provisioning.
This guide is not the place to go into too much detail about pricing, but as one of the ideas behind it is to make money it would be wrong to ignore it altogether. So I will just state my own personal policy.
For all prices, I use the base cost to make an item including all structure upkeep costs, and I add a mark-up based on how many structure lot-hours it takes to make.
At the time of writing, for all items except for ships and outfittings, I use a mark up of 200 db per lot-hour. Not only for items I sell, but I use the same mark up as a guide price for items I buy. If I can buy an ingredient for less than 200 db/lot-hr, I will usually buy it rather than make it. If I cannot buy an item for this price, I will try to make it.
Ships take rather a lot of work to make, so I usually add a higher mark up of 300 db/lot-hr. Outfittings are not only awkward to make but also time consuming to list on the auction house, and sales tend to be very erratic, so I add an even higher mark up of 400 db/lot-hr.
What you charge is up to you. See the Economy board of the Pirates of the Burning Sea Forum where there are some tools which will calculate prices with lot-hour or percentage mark ups.