With the arrival of Emissaries and a choice of allegiances to be made, we’re delving into the histories and priorities of the Sea of Thieves’ current Trading Companies and the precarious balance they strike to keep this pirate paradise relatively peaceful. Following our first Spotlight on the Gold Hoarders, we now turn our attention to those eminently respectable trader types, the Merchant Alliance.

Company Background

The Merchant Alliance are one of the newer Trading Companies to establish themselves on the Sea of Thieves, within years having grown from almost nothing to a thriving business under a model from which other Companies are still learning. The representatives of this Company value formality, discipline and precision, making them quite unlike many of the pirates whose services they employ, but forward thinking has shown them ways to create some lucrative arrangements.

Seen as stuffy and officious by their rivals, the Merchant Alliance aren’t, in truth, always the simplest Company to deal with. They’re far too uncompromising to haggle, they won’t take unnecessary risks, they don’t take kindly to tomfoolery and banditry and they certainly have no time for exploring the Sea of Thieves in search of ‘adventure’. Profits are maintained through timely, careful trade and building a reputation for reliability. That’s easier said than done when you primarily use pirates as freelancers, so remuneration for their Voyages is highly dependent on the speed and condition of deliveries.

Why use pirates at all? Because they’re an abundant resource, and because the woman who forged the Merchant Alliance realised it’s much better to have crews of cutthroat thieves working for you than against you. In fact, as readers of the Sea of Thieves: Origins comic series will know, it was this woman – Senior Trader Mollie – who built the Alliance from the ground up, breaking away from the a larger organisation known as the Grand Maritime Union.

The GMU hold a heady amount of power in the world beyond The Devil’s Shroud, controlling vast fleets through an iron grip on trade across several continents. However, there is one market they are yet to tap – the hidden Sea of Thieves. Their hubris has so far left them unable to fathom how to safely capitalise on this secretive paradise of gold and mysterious power, but the success of the Merchant Alliance, splintering away thanks to Mollie’s willingness to embrace new ideas, is a dire omen. These Merchants represent the arrival of civilisation and order on the Sea of Thieves: the more they thrive, the less ‘true’ piracy becomes a viable way of life. Should they grow too big, or should the Grand Maritime Union find a way to send more ships in their wake, the Sea of Thieves as we know it could be under threat…

Company Operations

The Merchant Alliance steer clear of provoking the Gold Hoarders by focusing on trading commodities rather than seeking treasure and gold itself, though they certainly make plenty of it. They primarily offer Voyages that revolve around finding and delivering these commodities. They might even ask you to find and capture wild animals in cages, to be delivered to traders on other islands.

They also trade general goods, such as Crates of Rare Tea and Exquisite Spices – highly sought-after by fancier pirates and homebodies. Resource Crates and Gunpowder Barrels that might otherwise be used for stocking ships are accepted too, while other lucrative Voyages involve perishable Cargo Crates. Luxurious cloth, plants and rum are worth a great deal of money, but the payment will drop rapidly if they become spoiled. Soaked cloth, parched plants or broken bottles (quite likely after being dropped, jostled around or hit by enemy fire) will result in penalties.

A new recruit for the Merchant Alliance will begin as a humble Merchant Sailor, but more grand titles reminiscent of the navies of the outside world are available for dedicated workers who don’t dawdle or lose cargo. The Alliance will reward promoted pirates with spyglasses and watches of advanced craftsmanship, all the better for spotting potential danger and keeping your deliveries timely. Since the Ships of Fortune update, pirates may now excel beyond the rank 50 Master promotion and begin collecting their very own Merchant Alliance ship livery and uniform.

Thoughts On...

The Gold Hoarders:
“The Hoarders have a truly clever business model, but they seem unable to grasp the idea of reinvesting their profits in growth. They simply… hoard it all!”

The Merchant Alliance:
“We may not impress all pirates in terms of ‘swashbuckling’ and suchlike, but we are the future of the Sea of Thieves.”

The Order of Souls:
“Their mystical mumbo-jumbo surely has little real value, but they keep skeletons at bay and that reduces our lost cargo wastage.”

Athena's Fortune:
“The Pirate Lord seems to approve of our presence and Legends are reliable couriers, but a clash is likely when we finally control all commerce.”

The Sea Dogs:
“Our arrangement to supply that eyesore of an Arena has been very lucrative. The more they drink, the more we profit.”

The Hunter's Call:
“That clan of vagabonds could become a threat to our food trade… if they ever become remotely organised.”

The Reaper's Bones:
“A most unsettling development. Theft and disorder are the price of business here, but organised aggression? That cannot be condoned.”

Company Representatives

Senior Trader Mollie is stationed at Sanctuary Outpost. The face of the Company, Mollie personally established the Merchant Alliance and forged herself a future from nothing.

Senior Trader Mavis is stationed at Golden Sands Outpost. She is very keen on fast, efficient deliveries, even if it means sacrificing a little customer service. Better get going!

Senior Trader Meg is stationed at Galleon's Grave Outpost. She likes to give pirates simple mottos so they know exactly what to do – such as take an assignment and deliver it, yesterday!

Senior Trader Mildred is stationed at Ancient Spire Outpost. She is a little more personable than some of her colleagues, but has an edge that suggests she can most certainly take care of herself.

Senior Trader Mandy is stationed at Dagger Tooth Outpost. She loves animals with a passion, so despite the nature of her business she encourages pirates to be careful with their living cargo.

Senior Trader Maureen is stationed at Plunder Outpost. Maureen seems to believe that Merchant work is highly dangerous due to the deadly ferocity of pigs and chickens. So be careful, just in case.

Senior Trader Matilda is stationed at Morrow's Peak Outpost. Matilda is on the aggressive side of the Merchant mindset, believing that the Company only survives while pirates are willing to defend their cargo at all costs.

Emissary Guidance

Becoming an Emissary of the Merchant Alliance allows a pirate to wear their uniform (cleaned, steamed and pressed properly, of course) and improve the rate of profit and reputation gain by progressing through Emissary Grades. Completing Merchant Voyages and Quests will raise your Grade, as will capturing animals, delivering Commissioned Animals, delivering Cargo Crates and picking up Crates and Mermaid Gems, among other activities.

Stowing such items on your ship brings the Company honour and so raises your Grade, as does daring to defeat Forts, Skeleton Ships and Megalodons, quelling the threats that make trade routes so perilous. Should you be bold enough to hold on to your sellable cargo until you reach Emissary Grade 5, you’ll earn the maximum bonus for cashing it in, along with a special Quest!

Emissaries Explained - Official Sea of Thieves Gameplay Guide

Duration 3:44

Further Reading

To find out more about the Merchant Alliance…

Play Sea of Thieves and embark upon the epic Shores of Gold series of narrative-driven Tall Tales.

Read Sea of Thieves: Origins Volume 2 – The Bonds of Union, which tells the backstory of Mollie and how she formed the Alliance (and inadvertently sowed the seeds of another popular group)…