Getting more wins in Arena, Sea of Thieves’ new competitive mode, is no easy feat. This mode is far more demanding on players and forces teams to juggle combat, hunting for treasure, and ship manoeuvrability. To increase how many wins you get, you will need to keep these Arena tips and tricks in mind.
Get more wins in Arena
For the uninitiated, The Arena is Sea of Thieves’ version of a competitive multiplayer mode. In this mode, five galleons compete to dig up treasure and turn it in to set points around the map. The map itself is a small section of the map from Adventure, and all teams receive the same treasure maps, meaning you will wind up fighting over treasure chests.
The scoring is based on a point system, where digging up treasure, handing treasure in, landing hits on ships, and killing other players rewards your team with points. Be careful, as points are lost if your ship sinks:
- Dig up a chest: 100 points
- Hand in a chest: 1,000 points
- Hit another ship with a cannonball: 25 points
- Kill a player: 5 points
- Your ship sinks: -1,000 points
As you can see, there is a strong emphasis on digging up chests and turning them in. But, it is just as important to damage enemy ships and sink them. By deemphasising killing players, Rare has ensured spawn-camping is not a valid strategy. However, that’s not to say killing enemy player is entirely useless, if implemented well, it can often ensure enemy teams lose thousands of points.
However, there’s another benefit to winning: cosmetic items. For Pirate Legends, there are several weapon cosmetics that are unlocked after earning 100 wins. The longer you wait to get these wins, the more skilled players will become in Arena.
Play with friends
Obviously the best situation to improve your chances of winning in Arena is to play with friends or people who you trust. While there are some quality random players out there looking for a team, nothing beats the cohesion of playing with friends.
However, if you are limited to using the Open Crew setting, try and befriend any of the talented players. By doing this, you can increase your pool of players and call on them to fill out a team.
Raise the anchor
The first few moments of the game can make all the difference, and sitting with your anchor down means time wasted. For this reason, it is critical that all available players help raise the anchor. Too many crews spend time filling their pockets and looking at maps – all of this can be done once the ship starts moving.
Get the anchor up, and have one player at the helm and another reading the map to call out where to go. The last two players should be tending to the sails.
Teamwork is going to play the biggest part in ensuring you get more wins in Arena. As a well-oiled team, you should assign players specific roles. However, flexibility is also key, and just because someone is the designated helmsman, doesn’t mean someone else can’t grab the wheel in a pinch.
Finding chests is often difficult, especially with a limited knowledge of the islands, so get your most island-savvy player onto land for digging. It can also be worth having another player assist with finding chests, especially if time is of the essence.
Having someone hyper-focused on ship navigation is also critical. This role requires they be aware of where the ship is, where it needs to go, and the well-being of the hull. All other players should live and die by what this player says, because if the ship goes down, that’s more than just 1,000 points lost, you also lose your position, any chests you had on board, and you lose the time it takes to respawn and get back.
Another role to consider is someone who assists with loading cannons between battles and utilizes the harpoons. This will be your most accurate player, because the harpoons can be the difference between winning and losing – but more on this later.
The mid-deck hull is often one of the most underappreciated areas of a galleon. Anytime you sink, it’s likely because you ignored the holes in the mid-deck. Whenever you have a moment to breathe, a great strategy is to employ the “everyone fix a hole” command. At this point, everyone on the ship should run to the mid-deck, find a hole, and patch it.
By having all players fix at least one hole, you can guarantee that you are in a better place than the majority of the other ships on the server. However, this requires teamwork and for players to listen to the person in charge of the ship. If worse comes to worst, you can always patch the mid-deck solo.
Defend the ship
While there may be some overlap here with previous points, defending the ship is primarily about protecting it from other players. The biggest threat to your chances of winning an Arena match is other players. A player that gets on your ship has access to everything you need to win: chests, food, cannonballs, and your anchor. For this reason, you should always listen out for swimmers and anyone trying to board your ship.
When you’re going slow and circling an island, always listen for the sound mermaids make when the pop out of the water, this will alert you to another player nearby. You should also listen for anyone paddling by your ship. If someone does manage to get to your ladders, defend it with your life. If you’re using a blunderbuss, wait for them to reach the top and then blast them away.
Another player will inevitably make it onto your ship. Whether you didn’t hear them or they jumped across during a ship-to-ship battle doesn’t matter, what’s important is that you defend the anchor. If your anchor goes down, that’s bad news. You will be stationary and another team can outmanoeuvre you.
If someone does manage to lower your anchor, grab onto it! As you’re raising it, have your teammates defend you. The boarder will likely want to knock you off the anchor to ensure it lowers, so as soon as you’re on it, you’re now the bait.
Use the harpoon
As promised, the harpoon. The harpoon has been a major game-changer for Sea of Thieves, and that’s never been more evident than in Arena. The harpoon has a multitude of uses, all of which will improve your chances of winning.
Firstly, use the harpoon to snatch chests from the shoreline and place them on your ship. This will help circumvent the slow swim to the ladder, which wastes time. Simply place the chests on the beach within range of the harpoon and run back to keep digging more.
Another use of the harpoon is for tighter turns without need for an anchor-drop. If you’re close to an island or a rock, fire it at the shallow water or a landmass and start reeling in to cut a tighter circle. Be careful, as reeling too hard will cause you to slam into the island and beach yourself.
Finally, the harpoon is a great tool for keeping another enemy tethered to you. Harpoon an enemy ship and pull them in close for boarding or use the harpoon as a tether so you can “orbit” the enemy ship in a tight circle, allowing your cannons to lay waste to their hull.
One of the cheekier strategies for earning more points is to always tap chests. If you absolutely have to leave an island (because an enemy player is coming in or you’re running out of time to loot), leave a player behind to hunt down and “tap” the chests with a single dig. When the shovel hits the chest it’s counted as being dug up, so no need to shovel all three times. Furthermore, every chest you discover is another 100 points, which adds up extremely quickly and can make all the difference.
In the event the island you're on is the only map, it's worth considering leaving a single chest undiscovered. The reason for this is that, as long as there is still an X on the map, no more maps will be generated. This can be useful in denying other ships the chance at getting more chests while you're trying to turn some in. If you do dig up all the chests and a ship just so happens to be near one of the new islands, you won't necessarily be able to prevent that ship from digging up and collecting treasure.
Fight or Flight
Probably the most difficult aspect of Arena is picking whether you should stay in one place to fight or try and flee. Unfortunately, this is entirely situational and there is no set solution. There are a few things you should consider though.
First of all, how many chests do you have on your ship? Consider whether fleeing and turning them in will result in you taking the lead or maintaining the lead. How many ships are coming in? Depending on the number of ships approaching could make all the difference. However, the caveat here is whether you’ve fought them before. If you’ve managed to sink a ship in equal combat (they were aboard their ship and not a sitting duck), then you might consider staying to fight them.
What’s important in these times is that all players should return to the ship. An enemy ship will be coming in with a full crew ready to fight, which means you must meet them with equal strength.
Learn the islands
While it might be basic for some, if you do not know the maps, you are going to take far too long finding where to go. The faster you can learn what island you’re looking at, the less time you’ll spend cross-referencing the maps in your hand to the map of the field. The best way to do this is to spend more time with Sea of Thieves, whether it’s in Arena or Adventure.
Not only will learning the islands help you figure out where to go, it will help when you’re trying to dig up treasure. If you know the layout of an island, you can very quickly locate where the chest is buried and get it dug up.
Winning matches in Arena is an exhilarating experience. With only 24 minutes to secure the victory, and other teams gunning for the same treasure, there is bound to be countless fights and a lot of action. If you want to improve your chances of winning, and eventually unlock some great cosmetics, start practicing some of the strategies listed here today! Be sure to sail over to the Shacknews Sea of Thieves guide and walkthrough for more valuable pirate content.