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Contrary to popular belief pirates didn't just attack any ship that they came across. Pirates used sophisticated techniques for taking over ships, many of which they learned in the European navy.
Pirates began their strikes by looking for intelliegence. They interviewed merchants, smugglers, and government officials sometimes employed torture to extract as much information on possible targets as they could. The more information about the armorment, speed, and destination of their intended targets.
Once they had a fix on their prize, they utilized a number of different techniques for capturing the vessel and its riches. Sometimes all they would need to do was appoach the vessel with their flag unfurled and the crew of their target would surrender based on the reputation of the pirate captain and his crew. Sometimes they used subterfuge to get their targets in close enough to board. They would fly the flag of an friendly nation and wait for the target to close before springing the trap.
Whatever method they chose to use, ultimately the pirate ship had to take control of the enemy vessel. They sometimes pounded the ship into submission with cannon, but since the danger of losing the treasure was greatest if their target sank they would fire into the rigging to disable the vessel. Once it was unable to manuver, the pirates would board the vessel and take control of it by force. Pirates favored close quarters weapons that could be used in the confines of a ships decks. Pistols, swords, and daggers were favored by most pirates.
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