Civilization V Customisation Wiki

The Privateer is a Naval melee unit available in the Renaissance Era.


With letters of marque in hand, privateer captains were given free reign over the seas during times of war, attacking foreign trade vessels at will. Predominantly sailing from the 16th to 19th centuries, privateers were utilized by all of the major colonial powers, particularly Britain and Spain. As the privateer captains and crew were not typically paid by the government who authorized their mission, they were given a share of the spoils captured from the opposing fleets, sometimes creating a murky distinction between privateers and their unauthorized pirate counterparts.


The Privateer is a next-generation sail-based vessel, and arguably one of the best units added in the Gods & Kings expansion. It represents perfectly the corsairs that plagued the Atlantic Ocean in the Renaissance, with its two special abilities:

  • The Coastal Raider promotion allows it to plunder Gold each time it attacks cities.
  • The Prize Ships ability allows it to convert defeated vessels to your side (you can see the chance of this happening in the battle screen). The converted ships appear in the same tile where they were, and have half their hit points. Promotions, unfortunately, do not transfer over when you capture the ship.

The Privateer's combat strength is significant: although lower than that of a Frigate, it is perfectly suited for assaulting coastal cities and taking other vessels through boarding maneuvers. Roam the seas with it, looking for a chance to score against lone enemy ships, or when in a fleet, use it to deliver the coup-de-grace in naval battles, so that you have a chance to capture the enemy ships. You can also use it to get some Gold when besieging enemy coastal cities.

And even better: all these abilities transfer when the unit is upgraded. Note that a Privateer upgrades straight to a Destroyer, without ever becoming an Ironclad.

Unique Unit Replacements[]

Icon Unit Civilization Abilities
Bahanbune Icon
Flag bahanbune
So (So Yoshitoshi)
  • Gains Gold Gold from kills
  • May enter rival territory
  • May heal outside friendly territory at double rate if within 5 tiles of a Wakan
Caribbean (Henry Morgan) (LastSword)
  • May disembark to become a Musketman variant
  • Doubled City Plunder
Unitflag corsair
The Buccaneers (Henry Morgan)
  • Bonus vs naval units
  • Temporary combat boost upon raiding a Trade Route
Eia crop
'eiā Bora-Bora (Puni)
  • After starting its turn on an Atoll, gains +100% Strength combat strength for the next 2 turns
  • Provides bonus points towards a Great Admiral on kill.
Unitflag escuadranacional
Escuadra Nacional
Chile (Bernardo O'Higgins)
  • Earns 75% more Experience in battle
  • -50% Upgrade cost
Lanong Icon
Flag Lanong
Sulu (Azim ud-Din I)
  • Performs a weak Ranged Attack before engaging in combat
  • +1 Moves Movement after entering combat for the first time
  • Starts with Boarding Party I
Likedeeler Pomerania (Bogislaw X)
  • Unlocked at Compass.
  • -13% Production Production Cost (130 vs 150).
  • -20% Strength Combat Strength and may not enter Deep Ocean until the discovery of Astronomy.
  • +50% Experience Gain when beginning in enemy territory.
Man-of-war Icon
Flag Manofwar
Libertatia (James Misson)
  • +30% Strength Combat Strength in unowned Ocean tiles
  • Grants double Moves Movement to stacked civilian units
Qasimi Raider The UAE (Sheikh Zayed)
  • Receives a refund of its Moves Movement points upon capturing enemy ships or pillaging Traderoute Trade Routes.
  • Receives additional Gold Gold when pillaging Traderoute Trade Routes.
Qursan Tétouan (Sayyida al-Hurra)
  • Heals in enemy territory if moves are left at the end of the turn.
  • Nearby enemy units become weaker, and give you small amounts of Gold gold per turn.
Revenue-Marine Cutter America (James Madison)
  • +2 Moves Movement and +2 Sight when within 4 tiles of an enemy ship that is low on health.
  • Upon plundering or winning in battle, generate Goldenage Golden Age points.
Sabbak Tunis (Abu Zakariya)
  • -12% Strength Combat Strength (22 vs 25)
  • Gains Strength Combat Strength based on distance from the Capital (max +15)
  • Gains 20% of the Experience of defeated units
Schooner America (Washington)

(with Franklin Roosevelt's America installed)

  • +33% Strength Combat Strength when attacking other Privateers
  • +25% Strength Combat Strength in friendly territory
Sea Beggar
The Netherlands (William)
  • Starts with Coastal Raider II
  • Can heal outside friendly territory
EnglandHenryV SeaDog
Sea Dog England (Elizabeth)

(with Henry V's England installed)

  • Spawned everytime a Great Admiral is, provided they have been unlocked and have not become obsolete.
  • Can move through foreign territory without Open Borders.
Croatia (Tomislav I) (DJSHenninger)
  • Land Unit which acts as a Privateer when Embarked. Disembarking removes free Naval Promotions, but retains earned ones.
  • +3 City Strength and +1 Gold when garrisoned in a coastal City.
Icon War Junk
War Junk Taiwan (Koxinga)
  • More expensive to produce
  • +1 Movement
  • May move after attacking
  • Stronger when attacking, but weaker on defense
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