When you first start playing Assassin's Creed 4, you may notice that you don't see a lot of detail on the map of the sea you're traversing. This is because you’ve yet to unlock most of the map so you can view all the finer details. There are 10 Naval forts scattered around the map, divided into easy, intermediate and expert difficulty levels. Sack the fort, and you claim that section of the sea, unlocking all of the goodies it holds. With this in mind, here are some strategies for claiming forts in AC4: Black Flag.

Initial Approach

As you approach a fort, not only must you deal with the fort defenses, but also any ships in the immediate area. It's rare to find a fort unguarded, but you only have to worry about the other ships until you've damaged the fort enough to land and sack it. For this reason, your initial approach can be handled one or two ways.

Your first option is to use the spyglass to find the best route that takes the Jackdaw directly parallel to the fort, so you can fire off several rounds of broadside cannons with each pass. The route you choose should bypass as many enemy ships as possible. You'll be bombard from all directions, but it will take a bit for the opposing ships to get into firing range.

The second option is to pick off one ship at a time as you ease your way towards the fort. In this scenario, you'll need to fire on a single ship, then move outside of the fort's firing mortar range. You don't want to be attacking a ship while the fort is firing mortars at the Jackdaw. When you fire on one of the ships, more than likely you'll get two or three ships, so make sure you have your multi-ship combat down.

Laying Siege

Once you've decided to either pick off the surrounding ships one by one, or take the fort head-on and ignore the ships (for the most part), it's time to make your move. Mortars are generally the preferred attack from a distance, and with the fort being a stationary target, it's much easier to hit compared to attacking a ship. However, the forts are also equipped with mortar shots, and you'll have to avoid them, as well as the enemy ships as soon as you fire on the fort with your own mortars.

Your course of action here should be dictated by your Jackdaw upgrades. If you have powerful mortars but your broadside cannons are lacking, then make a beeline for the fort with mortars inflicting as much damage as possible as you make your approach. If you have some decent firepower in your broadside cannons, forego the mortar phase and instead get within broadside range as quickly as possible.

With the fort in your crosshairs, you'll need to take down several towers at the very least. The requirements to disable the outer defenses varies from fort to fort, but once you've dealt enough damage, you'll be able to transition to the land battle.

Focus on the same target with each pass until that target is destroyed. In many cases, your targets will have weaponry attached to them. The faster you destroy each target, the less damage the Jackdaw will take. It's also a good idea to vary your speed as you pass within firing range. The fort aims its attacks based on the location of the Jackdaw when the attack will hit. If you race in at breakneck speed and then come to a halt to fire, before racing off again to make another pass, you'll avoid a decent amount of damage.

Assassinating

With the outer defenses breached, any remaining ships will still attack the Jackdaw, but you won't have to worry too much about attacks from the fort. If you can't disembark near the fort due to attacks from the other ships, lead them away from the fort, then head back at full speed and get off the Jackdaw as soon as you're out of range of the attacking ships.

Once you enter the fort, you have two objectives: take down at least one Captain (sometimes as many as three depending on the difficulty level), then take out the Commander of the fort. In most cases, you can avoid fighting other enemies and even sneak up to the point of performing an aerial assassination on all targets.

There are a few instances in the more difficult forts in which you'll need to take out some other guards, or be skilled at stealth maneuvers to make it to the Captains and Commander without a confrontation. If you're skilled at stealth and melee combat, you can complete this phase with minimal weaponry. However, if you're struggling, sleep and berserk darts help out considerably, and if you find yourself in a group of soldiers, a smoke bomb will allow you to escape and continue toward your targets.