- Never Ever Give Up. The game is designed to enable a player to make large gains late in the game. In a single turn you can build a Naval Base and knock out a Ship of the Line, netting 30 points towards the leader. Plan and be patient. Each turn commit towards maximizing your opportunity.
- Build Diverse Industry Early On. You can logically break down the game into three phases, expansion, development, attack. Expand early as best you can, the more you build up production the better. Play those Mines/Merchants to gain resource production independent of Ports, in case you lose some to the enemy.
- Trade a Lot. Trade a lot, even if you don't have Advanced Barter. A few gold here and there are key to amassing Empire Points. Maintain ships at key ports to enable trade, so if a history card or AB pops up, you can immediately take full advantage.
- Burn Captain's Orders. Card management is tough, but important. Captain's Orders (even some good ones, like a +1 to attack or defense) should often be discarded instead of hoarded for many turns. This is most important in the two player game.
- Fleet Attack. Fleet attack is critical. Without advancements it's really tough to take down a SotL effectively.
- Avoid Weather Traps. Getting trapped (especially early) by bad weather is a real pain. Sometimes there isn't much you can do. In these cases, discard and use the extra gold to send the pirate to attack any settled ports for the mobile players. But plan ahead. If you have two ships, make sure they can sail in different directions to the next port. If you have a Land Ho, establish a port in a place where weather access is less problematic (and "good" weather is blowing in an opposing direction).
- Leaders Get Crushed. Whatever you do in a 4 or 5 player game, do not come out in front. You should know better. There is just no path to victory here. Remember the entire point count in the game is visible, except the cards in your hands. If you don't line up to play at least 20 points in the final two rounds.. well.. that's on you my friend.