Ship Overview – The Tartana

The Tartana is one of the newest ships available from Firelock Games and I’ve found it an excellent addition to my fleet. It shares many of the strengths of the Sloop, but a couple things set it apart and make it a unique and interesting little ship.

The Tartana is a fairly small and light ship with 2 roughly equal decks with the ability to take 2 pairs of cannons and 6 Swivel Guns. This is a newer ship in Firelock’s line and can’t be found in either rule book right now.

Speed

The Tartana has the standard 4″ top speed so it won’t overtake a warship like a Frigate or Corvette in a downwind race, but it’s 0″ windward penalty means it can maintain that speed in a fight while other larger ships might start to flounder. For most purposes it’s as fast as a Sloop but without the ability to turn it into a Swift Privateer vessel with 5″ speed.

Maneuverability

With a compact body and a full 4″ turn and 0″ windward penalty, the Tartana is extremely nimble. It has Simple Rig so you can easily change sail settings but it lacks the Fore and Aft rigging that makes the Sloop so good at Tacking.

The Tartana uses Lateen Rig which means you can’t attempt the Box Haul maneuver but with a turn of 4″ and no windward penalty, you probably won’t be want to Box Haul anyway!

With fairly few hitpoints, you’ll want to make best use of your maneuverability and try to stay out of cannon arch of opposing ships.

You can pay a couple points to give the Tartana Sweeps 3″ if you want to give up a little speed for more maneuverability. That could be a nice option for Spanish Corsairs since they would move that up to 4″.

Durability

This is a fragile ship. With 4 Fortitude and Integrity it’s just as vulnerable as the Bark, Privateer Sloop and Corvette. It doesn’t take more than a couple broadsides to completely ruin a ship like this.

 

At 200 points or less, you shouldn’t be seeing too many but above 200 points, you’ll likely have to do some careful sailing to keep out of trouble. If you’re planning on bringing a smaller ship like this to a larger match, a carpenter might be a worthwhile investment.

6 hits on a fresh Tartana mean you get a Critical Hit and 7 would give you a Strike Point!

You can mitigate this weakness a little by using the Dutch Navy, or even William Kidd (probably not the best idea) to give the Tartana Heavily Built.

Capacity

The deck sizes are great on the Tartana! The decks are roughly equal. The forward deck can hold up to 21 models in the front and the back can hold up to 18 along with 4 Light Cannons. That number might be increased by 1 to 3 if you remove the cannons.

The back deck on the Sloop always feels small and crowded, especially if you plan to man all 4 Swivels. The larger deck here feels much more flexible. I think you can comfortably man both the cannons and swivels with a single unit of 8-10 cannon crew and still have room for a decent unit of fighting men as well.

Bark vs Tartana

The front deck is usually where you want to put your best muskets. With the 4 swivels in the front, the Tartana feels like an aggressive ship. The Sloop excels at running and blasting the pursuing ship with swivels and turning for a broadside when appropriate but the Tartana feels like it’s strongest when it’s front deck is pointed towards the battle. That windward value of 0″ further reinforces its strength as an aggressive ship.

I like to put a large group of dangerous cannon crew like Marins or Enter Ploeg up in the front on the swivels along with some men with muskets. You can chase down your enemy, harass them with heavy Swivel and musket fire then board as soon as possible.

Other Considerations

The Tartana has some practical advantages over some of the other ships in the game.

  1. It’s cheaper than a Sloop yet very comparable in the table. At $49 MSRP, it’s $10 less than a Sloop and it can fill most of the same roles in your games.
  2. It’s easy to paint and assemble. This is a fairly plane ship which means you can paint it up in just a couple hours. As with with most small ships, it likely wouldn’t have had cannon port hatches which brings down your assembly time as well.
  3. I’m game terms this is a fragile ship, but the model itself is fairly compact and sturdy which makes it great for transporting to and from your local game store. The masks are short and sturdy when compared with the Sloop and most of the other ships in the game.
  4. Lots of people use the Sloop so you should be different and use the Tartana! It’s a pretty little ship and you know you need one!

L to R: Bark, Tartana, Sloop, Frigate, Galleon

Tartana on the center right compared with the rest of the fleet.

Uses for the Tartana

I think the Tartana excels in the 100-200 point range at sea. You can put a decent crew, a couple swivels and some light cannons all on it for 100 points. But you can also fill it out with a better commander, full crew and more artillery and have a nice 200 points ship as well. Above 200 points, I would be reticent to take a Tartana because your opponent could easily have enough cannons to sink you in a couple shots.

The Sloop is a better cannon ship at 200 points since you can use 3 guns per side which feels much more substantial.

Jean Hamlin battles with a Corvette at a local tournament.

Conclusion

The Tartana is a fine little ship! In many ways it’s similar to a Sloop but I find it slightly better for offensive play styles while the Sloop is better at defensive play.

It’s fragility is its weakness so be cautious when facing anyone with real cannon power. You’ll need to suppress the cannon crew or you’ll be blown to pieces!

How do you use your Tartana? I’d be happy to hear about your experiences with this ship!

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