by Cameron Jacke, Jan. 2021
Downloading the Game:
This game guide applies to beta version 5.3.
Download the game here. It is available for Mac (osx) and PC devices.
To find the old game guide for versions v. 3.0 and earlier go here.
The first version of Sailing with the Gods was introduced October 2016. New versions will continually be available at the link above as development continues. Furthermore, download instructions for macOS and Windows are also available on the download page. The information in the game is based on archaeological finds, ancient inscriptions, and the literary sources through which social networks for the ancient Mediterranean are reconstructed: for more details, see “The Social Network”.
Sailing with the Gods is an open world game letting you play as the famed Jason, leader of the Argonauts, as he sails the Mediterranean exploring, trading, fighting, and more. As you explore the world, you will learn more about Ancient Greek culture and geography both through visiting cities all across the sea and interacting with other heroes. Jason was tasked by King Pelias of Iolcos to find the mythic Golden Fleece to earn his rightful inheritance as son of Aeson, the former king of Iolcos and half-brother of Pelias. Jason’s journey—and yours—focus on finding this fleece, but Jason can also collect fame called “clout” throughout the game, opening up new opportunities for glory. It is your journey, and thus you decide how to play! Will you complete Jason’s task of acquiring the fleece, explore every city asea until your network encompasses the whole Mediterranean, or trade and fight until everyone knows your might?
How to Play the Game:
Goals and How to Win: What are the goals of the game? How do I win?
When you begin your journey, you decide who will be on your crew! You begin your journey with five crewmen and a capacity to hire an additional five (maximum ten). Once you upgrade your ship (see The Quest below), you will have a much larger crew. Keep track of how many crewmen you have, as crewman can be lost to disease and accident. If you don’t have enough crewmen, you cannot sail and will die! You can choose your crew based on your needs, such as fighting, sailing, social networks, or those that can help you with trade. But be careful: the more men you have, the quicker your crew will go through food and water. You can hire and fire men every time you go to port as your goals and objectives change, but you must pay for their services.
In Sailing with the Gods, there are two main ways to win:
- Follow Jason’s legendary journey to get the Golden Fleece! You will have to hire warriors to fight off pirates at sea and sailors to manage your ship on your long and toilsome journey.
- Sail across the sea seeking wealth and glory, capitalizing on social networks to maximize your clout and become a renowned hero! Make sure to take into consideration each crew members’ home to best utilize social connections and networks.
You have to build your clout to win the game. You will start with a clout level of a lowly goatherd and must work your way up to the clout of a god to win the game! You will work up through many levels of clout to reach your goal: goatherd, farmer, merchant, mercenary, knight, war chief, boule leader, ambassador, prince, king, and then god!
Navigating the Sea: Now I’m on a ship, how do I sail around and get to ports?
You can navigate the Mediterranean with your mouse and keyboard.
- Use your mouse to select where in the sea you want to sail to.
- Using the arrow keys or WASD, you can pivot your view angle.
Other Navigation Elements:
- You can furl your sails to mitigate the effects of wind, or you can unfurl them to take advantage of favorable winds. When your sails are unfurled, your ship’s course may be less direct, as seen by a curved guideline.
- Drop anchor to prevent the wind from pushing you off course when you are not sailing.
- If the night sky clouds your vision, you can rest to pass time until the sun rises, reducing the amount of food and water your crew consumes.
- When you are close enough to a city, click on it to reach the port menu.
- To check your crew, click the crew tab at the bottom.
- The menu option in the top right allows you to save and exit.
- Lastly, the pause menu has a help selection to see the directions and primary goals.
Building a Crew: How does the crew work?
When you begin your journey, your first step is to build your crew. You will begin with a few men, but your first objective is to save up enough drachmae for a trireme. The trireme will come provided with the men required to pursue the golden fleece and clout at sea, but then you can hire more men at port, provided you have enough to pay their wages. Be careful though: if you do not have enough food and water when you leave port, some of your men may choose to leave the crew. Furthermore, if you run out of food and water at sea, your crew will dwindle away.
Jason can acquire more drachmae by trading port to port. Think like a smart trader! Objects and commodities are bought and sold at different prices in different ports, and you have limited space on board for cargo. By trading wisely, buying and selling these goods between ports, you can get enough money to buy more goods, keep your crew stocked up with food, hire more men, and eventually buy a trireme. The trireme—a mighty, three-rowed galley for your voyage—will increase your crew and cargo capacity, allowing you to pursue Jason’s mythic goals.
The Quest: How do I follow the quest?
Click on the Captain’s log journal in the top left of the screen to see the past and current steps in your progress through the quest of Jason. You begin at a tutorial level, learning the area and gaining drachmae to upgrade to the trireme, which you need to gain your hero crew and begin your quest. The journal will also contain information on the local areas you pass, on myths and pirates, and on discussions with your crew.
This first step is your first objective and will be listed in the top left corner. The object updates when you complete a step in the quest.
To complete this first step you must buy a trireme for 10,000 drachmae, which you can do in the shipyard at any port.
**Note** Once you upgrade your ship you will gain your crew of heroes, and they will be thirsty and hungry! Don’t forget to stock up on food and water before you sail away, or they may mutiny and leave you.
Once you have your trireme you will see the first port to which you must navigate in your path to gain the Golden Fleece and more clout! Check your journal for the directions to the next stop in the quest, and hire a guide (see below) for help in getting there.
At Port: How do I navigate the menu once I am docked with a city? What can I do here?
When you first come to a port a popup appears that gives you some historical information. Entrance may be a pricey affair. If you do not have anyone in your crew who is part of the port’s social network, you may have to pay taxes. This means that the social network of every person you hire can turn to your strategic advantage. Make sure to have an expansive network among your crew to increase the number of places you can go without losing precious cargo.
Entering a town allows you to do many things: you can let crew members go, hire new ones, take out a loan for drachmae, go to the tavern to play games or learn information, upgrade or repair your ship at the shipyard, or go into town to trade.
The “learn” button can also be used to learn more about the port in which you currently are.
In Town: What is the in town menu? What can do I do here?
If you go into town, you will have the option to buy and sell goods. Goods like water and provisions are necessary for your crew’s survival, while other goods like gold or wine are useful for trading. Your cargo is limited and can be seen at the top, along with how many drachmae (dr) you currently have.
You can also see how the cost of goods relates to the average town: if a town is selling something like timber for well under average, it may be a good idea to invest some of your extra money into it and then sell it at a port that pays more. Likewise, you may hold out on buying provisions until your next stop if they are overpriced and your crew is not in any immediate need of food.
In town you can buy monuments. Monuments like votives or a feast are a way for you to invest your money into collecting clout. In the ancient world, many social niceties like festivals and statues were sponsored by wealthy politicians, military folk, and business families. These investments gave back to the common people while also making the wealthier sponsors look like better citizens. Likewise, Jason can invest in monuments to give his drachmae to towns and increase his clout.
Lastly, in town the tavern will let you play games, learn more about what nearby towns are trading, and hire guides.
When you have hired a navigator to a new port, you can see the port highlighted on the horizon until you hire a new navigator elsewhere.
Leaving town and port is as simple as pressing the sail button, but make sure you have stocked up on food and water or some members of your crew may decide not to go with you for the next step of your journey.
Encounters at Sea: What can happen while I’m sailing?
Being at sea comes with many dangers and risks, but it also gives Jason the opportunity for glory and other rewards. There are a number of things you may encounter when you are sailing between ports, including abandoned ships, military triremes, pirates, storms, and more.
Some encounters involve symbols from the gods and other omens that may inspire or worry your crew.
Abandoned ships or other peaceful ship encounters may lead to you finding goods, while some ships may even gift you water or provisions if you are in need.
Other ships, like military triremes, are also peaceful, but may commandeer some of your provisions and even part of your crew—sometimes there is no saying no to a bigger ship and crew.
Be warned, however: some encounters may not have happy endings. Storms are able to sink your ship if you do not successfully navigate out of them, and pirates always bring trouble.
Storms: What do I do if a storm hits?
When a storm hits, you will have the opportunity to perform a ritual to attempt to assuage the gods and make your escape easier. If you succeed, with a little luck and a well selected crew, your clout will go up. If you fail your clout will go down, and you must escape the storm without the gods’ assistance. If you escape promptly, you may yet gain clout from the experience!
W/S or Up/Down keys move you forward and backwards through a storm. A/D or Left/Right keys help you turn left and right through the water.
Pirates: How do I fight pirates when they attack?
When you encounter pirates, you can either fight or negotiate your way out of the encounters. Negotiating could lead to you losing many drachmae and a sizable portion of your goods, but it will keep your men alive. Negotiating will also, however, cause your clout to go down, as no brave hero willingly submits to pirates.
If you fight back, you can select which crew members will go against the pirates, with their stats listed underneath them and the option to scroll through the rest of your crew. Pirate fights are turn-based, and as members of your crew are knocked out of the fight (their hit point gone), you can send in fresh fighters between turns.
If all of your crew is lost, your journey will come to a tough end, but if you are victorious, you will walk away with more clout (and your entire crew restored), knowing you have just cleaned the sea of yet another band of dastardly pirates.
In Sailing with the Gods, you pick your journey. However you decide to play, your journey will take you through innumerable perils, which may lead to an untimely, early conclusion to Jason’s adventures. But if you should survive, and find the golden fleece or reach ultimate clout, then you will have lived up to the mythical expectations of Jason.
Whether you live or die depends on the decisions you make as you play, but please share your feedback with us on the Play the Game page so we can further the project.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How do I actually get the ship from where I start to its first/next destination (is there a path that helps guide us)?
- Check out the Navigating the Sea section above. You can also hire a guide to a city. Once you start the ‘quest’ after upgrading your ship (see How to Follow the Quest above), you will be able to hire a guide in the tavern of any port to the next city in your quest, as well as to intermediate cities along the way. Directions to the next stop in the quest are kept in your ‘Captain’s log‘ in the top left corner of the sailing menu. When you hire a guide, you will see a green beacon in the sky light up over the city to which you want to go. If you are having trouble figuring out how to get to the beacon, it may be more helpful to hire a guide to an intermediate city (mentioned in the directions) that will get you half-way there (around the Mediterranean coastline).
- What if I get completely lost?
- If you get lost, stop at a nearby city, and you can hire a navigator back to a city you knew.
- What is the Samothracian social network of proxenia and Ancient Greek sources?
- A rich corpus of inscriptions attest the reputation and geospatial distribution of the Great Gods of Samothrace – an island positioned at the very edges of the Greek cultural and geographical world. Here a mystery cult, its procedures sealed by secrecy, was practiced for hundreds of years. While the rites were mysterious, the benefits of initiation were very well known: safety in travel at sea. Our project explores the hypothesis that the mystery cult of the Great Gods of Samothrace worked: its initiates did travel more safely at sea. The mythological expression of this safety was the intervention of Dioskouroi, helpful daimones and well-disposed gods; the social reality which underlay these symbols was a human social network created and authorized by the rites. Read more on how it worked.
- What if I find a bug or think something in the game could improve?