Here are a few tips that I use in playing the game:
1. Unless you need some crew on the sails to maneuver, put all of your crew on
the guns. This increases your firepower. Although it takes a little effort to
continually switch your men from the guns to the sails and back, the extra
firepower usually pays off.
2. At the start of a battle, load one of your broadsides with doubleshot (the
side that faces away from the enemy). This is your reserve. Engage the enemy
freely with your other broadside until the range has dropped to 200 yards,
then maneuver to bring your double-loaded broadside into play.
3. If your ship carries a lot of carronades and you are just outside carronade
range but closing with the enemy, set your Open Fire Range to 600 yards so
that you hold fire until all of your long guns and carronades are within
range. Otherwise, your long guns will fire immediately and the carronades
won't fire at all.
4. If you are fouled with the enemy and engaging in melee, hold a few men back
to load doubleshot. You can load doubleshot just as fast with 6% of your crew
as with 96%. On the next turn, if you are no longer fouled, you have a
double-load ready to fire. However, if you are still engaged in melee on the
next turn, you might move all of your crew off the guns. Otherwise, you will
waste the double-loaded broadside with a weak shot. Wait until you can bring
most of your crew back to the guns, and then fire it.
5. When your ship is taking more damage than the enemy, try to avoid the enemy
for a few turns and make some repairs. In the campaign game, your crew
automatically repairs some of the damage between battles. If the damage is not
completely repaired by the next battle, assign some crew to repair it. For
example, while you are chasing a merchantman, 50% of your crew could be
repairing damage left over from a previous fight.
6. In the campaign game, if you are caught by a superior force, run and the
enemy will chase you. Your ship is usually faster, so you can turn every so
often and take a raking shot against the pursuer's rigging.