Firelock has a wide range of vessels available for Blood & Plunder now and I hope this can be a helpful summary and guide for which ships you may want to add to your fleet and how to use them.
I’m still working on compiling in-depth articles on each ship but this will be more of a quick overview of all the ships Firelock offers for the game.
The canoa is a small and very maneuverable craft primarily used by the Native factions. It can be effectively used by snipers as well or it can be used as the cheapest way to get from a ship to land. If you play Natives, you’ll probably want to get several of these. They’re fragile and it hurts really bad if they get hit by cannons, but they’re cheap and you don’t have to put many models in them to be effective.
Maximum model capacity: 8
- 2 points. Cheap to add to a force
- Paddles free up units to fire
- Very maneuverable
The Longboat is the basic European boat. It’s a cheap way to get units on the water. Similar to the Canoa but there are key differences. It’s just as fragile but it doesn’t have the Unstable trait which makes it safer. It doesn’t have Paddles but it can move under sail power. It’s still slow but has the Sweeps 4 as well so it can move when it needs to.
I don’t use the Longboat very often but it can be very useful for specific scenarios.
Maximum model capacity: 13 in 2 units. Each “deck” of a ship can contain 2 units so I won’t be naming how many units can fit into the rest of these ships. It’s always 2x the number of decks, with possible additions if there are sub-sections present.
- 3 points. Cheap way to get on the water
- Can hold more models than the Canoa
- Can uses sail power
- Can mount a Swivel Gun
- Slow sail speed
- Less agile than the Canoa
While still technically a “boat,” the Piragua is a major step up from the Canoa and Longboat. It’s fast, maneuverable and is much sturdier than both the Canoa and Longboat. It’s kind of closer to a Bark than the Longboat.
While it’s almost as large as a “ship” it still doesn’t provide Hard Cover and it can be sunk and rammed much more easily than ships with 2+ decks.
It can hold either 4 Swivel Guns or 1 Light Cannon and 2 Swivels
Overall it’s pretty fast and can be rowed around very effectively with oar power. It’s main limitation is that it can only house 2 units. Sweeps uses an entire unit leaving one to battle with unless you use wind power.
I see this used primarily by Spanish Corsairs with their souped-up sweep values or as a Native “flagship” amid a fleet of Canoa.
Maximum Capacity: 24 or 23 if you include the light cannon on the forward platform
- Fast and agile
- Tough for a boat.
- Lots of swivels
- Largest Native vessel
- Still fairly fragile.
- Sinks when reduced to 0 since it’s a boat.
- Only holds 2 units.
With the Bark we get into the 2-deck ships At 8 points, it’s only 1 point more than the Piragua and while it’s not that much bigger, it can take 4 Light Cannons, 4 Swivel Guns, and 4 units so it’s much more flexible. On the other hand, it lacks the Low Profile trait so it’s much easier to hit and its Lightly Built trait means you don’t get the standard Hard Cover bonus that you usually get with a “real ship.”
The Bark is partically great at any one thing, but its the smallest, cheapest, real ship and that’s worth something. I see it used as a “sniper platform” and I see it used in smaller naval games a lot. It’s particularly great for demo games since its small, has options for armament at it provides standard cover rather than hard cover which makes learning easier.
Perfect for demos and naval games of 100 points or less or amphibious games when you don’t have all your force at sea.
Maximum model capacity: 23/12 (all capacity numbers include full complement of Light Cannons and the first number indicates the forward deck and moved back)
- Cheap at 7 points
- Better gun options than Piragua
- Room for 4 units
- Easy to teach with
- Still fairly fragile
- No hard cover
- No room for medium cannons
The Tartana is a couple steps up from the Bark and that’s reflected in the 12 cost vs 8. This ship is faster, has more gun options, more deck space and provides hard cover. It share the same fragility as the Bark, but overall, this is a more serious ship. The Tartana also looks much more sexy with those two lateen sails.
This ship can easily be used in naval games of 100-200 points.
Maximum model capacity: 21/18
- Plenty of deck space
- Great gun placement (especially 4 swivels on the front deck)
- Provides hard (the Bark does not)
- Fast with no wind penalty
- Good sweeps value of 3″
- Not a Sloop
- Still fragile
For only 2 more points than the Tartana, the Sloop is a very powerful ship. It has all the advantages of a Tartana and more! It’s a little tougher with 3 more hitpoints than both the Bark and Tartana (which is a pretty big deal actually), it has space for 3 pairs of cannons on it’s front deck and it can cross the wind’s eye with impunity with that Fore-and-Aft Rig trait. The Sloop is an amazing ship and can be used effectively at many different point levels. I think it shines at the 200 point level but can be used anywhere from 100-300 points.
With the majority of the swivel guns in the back of the ship, this makes the Sloop an excellent “defensive” ship, or “runner” while the forward placement of the swivels on the Tartana makes it more aggressive or a “chasing” ship.
The Privateer Sloops adds more speed but loses at few of those nice hitpoints.
Maximum model capacity: 27/16
- Tougher than other 2-deck ships
- Huge front deck
- Space for 3 pairs of guns
- Space for lots of swivels
- Doesn’t mind sailing windward or crossing the wind’s eye
- Small back deck
The Sloop is a nice, multipurpose ship but the Corvette is the first “warship.” It’s still fragile (even more fragile than the Sloop), but it packs a punch. It’s fast at 5″ or Sweeps 3″, it’s long and turns really quickly with the skids near the front of the boat and it has spaces for lots of guns and plenty of men. It has a similar deck layout to the Sloop with e large front deck with space for 3 pairs of cannons and a smaller back deck with space for 4 swivels but what makes this ship special is all the extra “subsections.” There’s a fighting platform in the front that can hold more men and you can add Fighting Tops to add another two units of 4 men. All told you can house 7 units on the Corvette making it a flexible and interesting ship to pilot.
With Sweeps 3″ it can scoot around the table under oar power, especially under the Spanish Corsair faction. The option for stern chasers makes this ship that much more formidable.
This ship can be used in the same 100-300 range but due to the subsections, you can generally pack more points into this ship than the Sloop if you want.
Maximum model capacity (numbers in parenthesis indicate subsections): (6)/27 (4) (4)/18.
- Tons of options for manning this ship
- Good cannon placement
- Turns well
- Wooden kit that requires more effort than Firelock’s standard resin hull. Not necessarily a con, but something to be aware of.
- Heavy windward penalty
The Brigantine is the first 3-deck ship and here we get more of a warship. It’s tougher and it’s decently armed. It’s has 4 cannons per side which is more than every other ship we’ve looked at so far. If managed carefully, those 4 cannons can be effective but I generally prefer ships that have a deck with 3 pairs of cannons. Two pairs of two cannons has some advantages but overall, it seems better to fire 3 at once from ships like the Sloop, Corvette and Frigate.
The Swivel Gun distribution is ideal for an aggressive ship with 4 in the front and 2 in the back.
With 3 decks you can build a more flexible and diverse force which makes this ship a fun choice. The Brigantine isn’t particularly fast with a stop speed of 4″ but the windward penalty isn’t as severe as some other ships at 1″.
The Staysails and and Hybrid Rig traits are marginally helpful but often don’t come into play in my experience. The same goes for Sweeps although after playing against someone who likes Sweeps, I’m realizing moving under oar power is not bad, even if you forfeit some speed.
The two variations on the Brigantine round in No Peace Beyond the Line make this a great all-around ship since you can use it as a fast and fragile Privateer for less expense of a sturdier and heavier Sloop of War for a few more points.
Maximum Capacity: 17/20/19
- Tougher than cheaper ships
- 3 full decks allows for 6 units
- 3 ship variations possible with one model
- 4 swivels on front deck
- Not slow
- Weak cannon placement
- Not fast
The Fluyt is a huge ship and can carry 6 pairs of guns but it doesn’t have the same versatility as the Brigantine and Light Frigate. True to history, this merchant ship is a little unwieldy and slow. It has some fun modification options including Fighting Tops, Chasers and the Heavily Built trait in addition to little built-in perks like Easy to Handle (easy to change sails), Pinked Stern (less fragile to raking shots), Whipstaff (no turn penalty for an empty back deck) and the Poop Deck subsection.
In spite of being a large ship, you can build an effective low-point force using the Fluyt. You can build anything from a 12-gun Fluyt list for 100 points with 16 models aboard to a massive 350 point San Pablo list for the Spanish Armada with a full set of cannons, Regulars, a historical commander and 50 models. It’s a cool ship but I feel like it’s really easy to use it poorly since it has a top speed of 4, a -2″ windward penalty which means it can only move 2″ against the wind. I consider the Sailing Master very helpful when using a Fluyt, just so I can get that extra inch when I’m sailing against the wind.
Maximum Capacity: 21(4)/25(4)/15(7)
- Lost of space and different areas for men
- Space for 7 pairs of cannons and nice Swivel placement
- Fairly cheap to outfit and sail
- Sails like a bath tub if you aren’t careful
- Costs a lot (in real life money)
The Light Frigate is a serious ship! I consider this ship the best vessel in the game, right alongside the Sloop. It’s fast, maneuverable enough, has great deck space for both men and cannon and it’s tough as nails. Having a starting Fortitude of 5 makes a huge difference in a cannon duel. At 21 points, it does come at a cost, but I would consider it worth in almost every case. The Light Frigate has 6 cannons on each side and the option for stern chasers just like the Fluyt, but the 1-3-2 groupings feel considerably stronger than the 2-2-2 you find on the Fluyt.
This ship does take a higher point battle to make good use of. At 100 points you will have a “skeleton crew,” at 200 it starts to be pretty good, and I think it does best at 300-350 points.
The only real negative thing about the Frigate is that it doesn’t have that deck with 4 deadly Swivel Guns on it like most of the other 2-3 deck ships have.
Maximum model capacity: 18 (4)/28 (4)/21
- Can sail decently against the wind
- Great cannon layout
- Huge decks
- Costs 21 points
- No real cons…
I’m not entirely qualified to write on the Galleon yet because I haven’t sailed one! I have a Galleon but it’s sitting half finished on my shelf. It’s an intimidating project! I need to get back to it! I’m looking forward to playing some big games with it.
It’s a huge, tough, slow floating fortress! I’ll write more after I get some experience with it.
That’s every ship released at this point in the game. There’s a sixth rate Frigate coming out soon which could change the meta for larger games, but I have yet to get my hand on one of those.
Every ship has something unique to bring to each game but some ships rise above the rest in quality. Overall, I consider the Sloop and Light Frigate the best and most versatile ships in game at this point. If you’re looking for an entry point, the Bark is the smallest “ship” and easiest to learn with, but it doesn’t shine as a “strong” boat when you start playing competitive games. The Sloop is also a great intro ship, or even an “only ship” if you plan to keep your purchases reasonable and buy a single ship for your collection. It can be easily used in 100 point game, 200 games and even up to 300 with elite troops. The Brigantine could also be a good ship for a smaller collection since it’s a mid-sized ship that could be used for smaller or larger games, but ideally I would recommend getting a Sloop and a Light Frigate so you have a ship for any size of game.
That’s my quick analysis of Blood and Plunder ships right now! Let me know if have any thoughts on these ships that I missed. I’d like to hear what players’ favorite ships are as well. Drop me a comment and let me know what you like to sail.
Thanks for reading!