Sea of Thieves Merchant Alliance guide: How to level up fast and find your goods

A member of the Merchant Alliance from Sea of Thieves.

The Sea of Thieves Merchant Alliance tends to be the last faction for which players hit level 50 in Sea of Thieves. Its missions consist of Cargo Runs and Animal Sales, but the majority of players prefer other missions. Still, if you want to achieve Pirate Legend status, you'll need to build up a healthy relationship with the Merchants, so use our guide as an intro on exactly how to do that.

The Sea of Thieves Merchant Alliance isn't just about chasing animals. Find your sea legs and you'll discover there's happily more diversity to this particular faction's quests. You'll... still have to chase animals around sometimes - good luck with those snake bites - but at least half the time you'll also get to go on Sea of Thieves Cargo Runs - newer missions which have you carefully moving cargo from buyer to seller. It's like Uber Eats at sea. Whether you're chasing chickens or delivering fragile bottles and other supplies, here's everything you need to know about the Sea of Thieves Merchant Alliance missions.

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How to grind Merchant Alliance reputation

The only reliable way to increase your Merchant Alliance level is to undertake and complete their Voyages, then buy promotions to unlock better Voyages and rewards. You can find a Merchant Alliance representative at every outpost in the game, typically out on the docks near where new ships automatically spawn in (head to a signpost and follow their emblem, a blue globe, if you're still lost). Once you find a Merchant Alliance NPC, purchase one of their voyages - the first set will be free.

Once you've snagged a voyage, do not immediately set sail. You probably don't have what you need to complete the Voyage yet! Do head to your ship, but only go so far as to propose and vote on the Voyage. The next section of this guide will tell you what to do once you've officially started your Merchant Alliance Voyage.

How to do Merchant Alliance Voyages

A Merchant Alliance shipping manifest from Sea of Thieves.

Your first step after watching the dramatic Voyage title screen is to pull out your manifest and see what the merchants want. Hold RB to select your new map item, then hold RT to bring it up to your face. There are three things you need to pay attention to here:

1) Goods: Your shipping manifest will tell you what you need to find - pigs, chickens, dozens of cannonballs, that kind of thing.

2) Location: Unlike the other two factions, the Merchant Alliance always wants you to deliver to one outpost specifically. If you sell to the wrong rep, you won't complete your Voyage.

3) Deadline: Every Merchant Alliance Voyage has a time limit before it unceremoniously expires. Pull out your pocket watch to check the current in-game date and time.

Phew! Lot of information, right? But you're still not ready to sail. First, you need to run back to a Merchant Alliance rep (any will do) and pick up your assignment of crates. These are the items you need to fill up with cargo and then deliver. Take all the crates back to your ship and now you're finally ready to go. But where to? If the Merchants are asking you to pick up some livestock, consult our Sea of Thieves animal location guide for tips on where to find them. If they're asking for other goods, like a crate full of bananas, just loot barrels and boxes wherever you go then stock them into the crate. Try to keep heading in the general direction of your destination outpost while you're hunting for product - time is money!

How to solo level Merchant Alliance

The Merchant Alliance isn't easy to work for alone; you'll miss having a few extra hands when your pigs are snout-deep in rising water and your deadline looms with the rising sun. But it can be done! Keep these three Merchant Alliance tips in mind while you're seeking your solo fortune.

Avoid fights: Getting into naval battles is half the fun of Sea of Thieves, but not when you have a hold full of valuable cargo! Animals can drown if submerged too long in flooded decks, or can be killed outright by shrapnel from nearby cannon strikes (this has happened to me way too many times). You really don't want to risk combat if you're hauling explosive gunpowder kegs. If you see a ship docked at your destination outpost, consider changing course and finding something else to do until they sail away. Strongly consider it if it's a galleon - they love bullying sloops around.

Bring spares: You can find abandoned crates and other goods on islands. If you pick them up and use them to grab even more of your objective, you'll have extra insurance in case something bad happens. Honestly, the easiest way to get extra crates is just to accept a Voyage, grab your allotment from a Merchant, then cancel the Voyage ad nauseam. That can get a bit expensive once you have to pay for Voyages though.

Stockpile everything: When a Voyage asks you to fill a crate with 50 bananas and bring it to another outpost, and you already have 50 bananas ready to go on your ship, you'll feel pretty dang smart.

A pirate, a chicken, and a merchant are hanging out in the Sea of Thieves. This isn't the setup for a joke.

Merchant Alliance commendations

Faction commendations are extra XP boosts you get for reaching special milestones across your entire tour of duty; for instance, the Order of Souls will give you a commendation for turning in enough Skeleton Fort Captains skulls. Nothing that exciting for the Merchant Alliance, though - all of its commendations are earned through doing the usual Voyages. Back to the crates!

Merchant Alliance rewards

Working for the Merchant Alliance earns you gold, but there are fringe benefits too (and I don't mean matching contributions to your I-Arrrr-A account). Aside from fancy titles, the Merchant Alliance will also sell exclusive pocket watches and spyglasses. They work like any other item of their type, but they look much more luxe. Everybody will be all like "ooh, you've delivered a lot of chickens, haven't you?" when you bust yours out. Special merchant clothes and ship customization options can also be yours once you reach a high enough level.

A Merchant Alliance pocket watch from Sea of Thieves.

What happens at Merchant Alliance max level?

What are the ultimate rewards for becoming a true merchant master? We're not sure yet. However, we do know that reaching level 50 with the Merchant Alliance is one of the steps to becoming a Pirate Legend, which sounds like a worthwhile goal for a buccaneer if ever there was one.

Connor Sheridan

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.