An Admiral is an agent in Empire: Total War. Like generals, they serve as commanders, leading ships at sea in times of peace and war. As with other characters in the game (e.g. agents, minsters, etc.), admirals can gain and lose traits and ancillaries based on their performance. These traits can increase or decrease their morale-boosting and command abilities.
At sea, admirals command a flagship, serving as its captain (a departure from reality, since flagships are directly commanded by a Flag Captain subordinate to the admiral on board). In their full-dress uniforms, they cut a dashing figure on the quarterdeck, inspiring their men, and making themselves a prime target for the enemy. Admirals can be a powerful influence on a battle, rallying routing vessels and encouraging nearby ships; but if killed, the impact can be just as dramatic, severely impacting their fleet's morale.
Admirals can be converted in two ways. The first is the construction of an "admirals' flagship,": an Admiral's Flagship, 1st Rate, Admiral's Flagship, 3rd Rate, or an Admiral's Flagship, 5th Rate. The second is by promoting a captain of ship to flag rank, a process similar to the promotion of generals from the ranks. Although this second method is less likely to spawn a good admiral, it does have some benefits, allowing a fleet's admiral to sail aboard a heavier ship than he otherwise would have been able to.
Once commissioned, admirals cannot transfer their flag to another warship. If their flagship is destroyed or captured, they are removed from the game.
Strategy and TacticsEdit
Admirals are a precious resource and should be used wisely both in battle and in the campaign. Being overprotective makes them worthless, yet foolhardy daring is equally inadvisable. This balance between courage and common sense must be kept on both the battlefield and the campaign map.
Default "line astern" formations will generally place the admiral in the vanguard of the line. While this is courage worthy of any great leader, it can be somewhat disconcerting when admirals aboard mere 5th rates choose to do so. Therefore, it is vital that other ships in the formation and/or the fleet protect their commanding officer. Sloops or other light vessels can draw fire, and heavier ships can work to neutralize the most immediate threats to the flagship, particularly attempted boarders.
On the campaign map, admirals must also be protected. Generally, it is best to keep them with a large fleet, an arrangement which has mutual benefits, since admirals offer morale bonuses to the fleet and battle, while the fleet in turn can protect him from attackers.
At the same time, players should work just as hard to kill enemy admirals as they do to protect theirs. Well-timed attacks with superior forces or well-handled suicide raiders can kill hostile admirals, as can assassination attempts from Rakes and Hasashshin when the admiral is in port. In battle, marine sniper and boarding actions can also yield results, although perhaps the most effective method revolves around naval gunnery. Round and grapeshot broadsides aimed at the stern and quarterdeck are effective, although not guaranteed to kill captains and admirals. Players should also keep a sharp eye as to the admiral's exact whereabouts aboard his flagship, for should he attempt to go aloft, chainshot should quickly be fired.