In Tides of War the player takes the role of a ship commandant in the 18th century. Similar to Sid Meier's Pirates, he can sail freely through the game world, earn money and take missions. These missions mostly consist of either combat, delivery or exploration tasks.
The earned money can be used to purchase better cannons or ships which give advantages in the real-time combat. These battle are similar to other strategy games, meaning that the ship controls are indirect. Nevertheless the player can use the wind direction to his advantage. When sailing the sea the player sets discipline levels, determine rations and food types which have influence on the crew's morale and stats.