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Sea of Thieves Arena beginner’s guide

Impress the sea dogs and claim victory with your crew

Sea of Thieves - a crew of pirates play music around a treasure chest they’ve just discovered Rare/Microsoft Studios
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

Sea of Thieves’ Anniversary Update includes the Arena, a competitive game mode with a new faction and 24 minute matches. The Arena places players on a galleon, which holds four people, and puts five galleons on a small section of map to rack up silver, a currency that only exists within the Arena. Whichever galleon has the most treasure at the end of the map wins.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to earn silver; break down the best ways to navigate the Arena; and teach you how to ensure that you’re playing at peak performance when you break a parlay against enemy pirates.

How to earn silver in the Arena

There are three ways to earn silver in the Arena:

  1. Kill other players. This only earns you 5 silver, which isn’t very much, but it also removes that player from the game for a short period of time as they respawn.
  2. Land a cannonball on an enemy ship. Each cannonball grants 25 points.
  3. Dig up chests. Each chest you find on an island will grant your team 100 points. Turning in the chest at a Sea Dog station, which are marked with bright red plumes of smoke, will give your team one thousand points.

It’s also possible to lose points. If your ship sinks, you’ll find yourself losing one thousand points.

Rare/Microsoft Studios

Swashbuckling tips

The first thing to do is ensure you’re using the right weapon loadout for you:

  • A cutlass is nearly mandatory, due to changes since Sea of Thieves’ launch to weapon reloading and switching that disincentive double-gun.
  • An Eye of Reach acts like a sniper rifle, allowing for the highest range shots.
  • The blunderbuss is like a shotgun, and is ideal for close combat or taking on multiple foes.
  • Finally, the pistol is the Mario of weapons: It’s always a decent choice and never a bad one.

Also, make sure you’re up to date on your stabbing skills. Left click/right trigger slashes, and you get up to three swings before your character takes a break. Right click/LT allows you to defend against incoming attacks. If you jump with space bar/A while defending, you’ll jump in the direct you’re moving in a controlled dodge.

You can also hold down left click/right trigger to charge forward, which is a powerful attack. If you charge while entering the surface of water, your character will skim the surface like a dolphin, which is ideal for getting back to the ship after digging up treasure.

A player observers an Arena fray from afar in Sea of Thieves Rare / Microsoft Studios via Polygon

Navigating and seafaring

When you’re sailing in the Arena, there are a few things you can do to ensure you get to the islands as quickly as possible (or out maneuver a foe). Remember you’re on a galleon, which is the slowest ship when sailing into the wind, and it struggles with turning when the sails are down.

One of the first advanced sailing tricks that you can learn is “the emergency brake.” Let’s say your ship is moving at max speed toward a rock, or you swiftly want to turn 90 degrees to evade a foe. First, crank the wheel as far as it will go in the direction you wish to turn. Then, drop the anchor. As soon as the ship turns, straighten the wheel and raise the anchor back up.

Also, don’t forget your harpoons. Harpoons can snag islands or other ships, and you can use that momentum to pull your ship around an island or up to an enemy.

Finally, remember that you don’t have to come to a full stop at a Sea Dog station to turn in your chests. Consider a combat drop — a player grabs a chest and simply jumps over the side, and then swims to the station to turn it in. They can then swiftly return back to the galleon via mermaid. As long as they don’t get ambushed, it’s an efficient way to rack up points while minimizing risk.

An Arena map table in Sea of Thieves
The golden crests show the turn-in points on the map
Rare / Microsoft Studios via Polygon

Ship repair and tools

On the second floor of your ship, you’ll find cannonballs in red barrels and food and wood in brown barrels. Always make sure your pockets are full of these valuable supplies, unless you’re planning on leaving the ship to board an enemy ship or jump into the water.

Ship damage, as of the Anniversary Update, is now modular. That means the wheel can take damage, where individual handles are blown off, and the capstan (anchor control) can take damage as well. If your capstan is hit at the right angle, the anchor immediately drops, so having a crew member nearby to grab a handle can be helpful. In addition, enemies can blow off capstan handles. Make sure they get repaired over time so that you don’t find yourself unable to lift the anchor at a key moment.

Masts can now also take damage. If a mast is damaged, you’ll see a large crack in it. Repair it with a plank of wood. If there are three large cracks, the mast falls, requiring one player to lift the mast back up using the sail controls while a second player repairs the mast. This is a huge hurdle, so keep an eye on your mast (and drop the enemy masts if you get the chance).

Every ship has a limited amount of supplies, and they can run low during a frenetic Arena match. Boarding another ship can be useful to drop their anchor or kill their crew, but one of the most subtly efficient things you can do is fill your pockets with their supplies. More for you and less for them!

sea of thieves 1.12 update the skeleton thrones Image: Rare/Microsoft Studios

Cannon warfare

Ship-to-ship combat from afar is pretty straightforward. You fire cannons and watch the cannonballs hit the enemy ship. The first thing to remember is that playing full aggro is a viable strategy. Earning 25 points per cannon adds up when you have all guns blasting and connecting with the enemy ship.

Also, it doesn’t have to be a cannon from your ship. If you find a fort cannon or you find yourself aboard another ship, landing shots from that cannon still counts toward your points tally.

Make sure you’re aware of waves, t. Waves have changed since the game’s launch to lift your ship (or lower enemy ships) far more than before. Check your trajectory with a single shot before you commit to a full barrage. Sometimes, you’re able to land a shot, and other times even a seeming slam dunk can miss because of the waves.

The Arena is a quick mode that’s a total blast to play, and these tips should helpfully smooth out the experience even more. You will still earn gold no matter how you rank, so get in there and try the game mode out! You have nothing to lose.

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