The Fluyt isn’t the most fearsome or powerful in Blood & Plunder, but it’s an impressive and eye-catching ship that can be effectively used in a variety of ways.
The Fluyt is a large 3 deck ship that’s moderately armed, can hold a lot of men, but is fairly slow and doesn’t like going upwind.
The Fluyt has the same 4/6 durability that you find on the Brigantine and while that’s very “decent” but isn’t as impressive as the 5/6 you find in the Light Frigate which is comparable in size.
For such a large ship, it feels a little fragile compared to other ships. The Sloop is 4/5 so the Fluyt only has 3 more hitpoints than this light ship or 6 more than small ships like the Bark or Tartana. It does have the option to be Heavily Built which can help a good bit vs moderately sized ships but you still don’t want to go toe-to-toe in a cannon duel with a Frigate.
The Pinked Stern trait helps with durability a little bit as it makes raking shots a little less painful. Still, a raking shot is not something you want to seek out!
There’s a historical Spanish commander that grants his Fluyt (or Galleon) an upgraded version of the Heavily Built trait for free. Mateo Perez de Garay and his San Pablo are an excellent way to use the Fluyt within the Armada de Barlovento faction.
Speed and Manueverability
This is where the Fluyt is weakest. It has earned the nickname “bathtub” in my local group. The 4″ top speed is pretty standard but the -2″ Windward penalty is where things get dicey. The Frigate, Corvette and Sloop of War have the same -2″ Windward penalty, but they have a 5″ sail setting to make up for it. If you need to sail upwind or cross the wind’s eye in a Fluyt, it can be painfully slow and there’s a high probability you’ll be outmaneuvered by your opponent. I find a Sailing Master can really help you get through tough maneuvers in the Fluyt. That extra inch of speed really helps!
The turn value of 3″ isn’t bad for a larger ship and it can turn just fine as long as you don’t have to go upwind!
While neither Whip Staffed or Easy to Handle technically make the Fluyt more maneuverable, they both make the Fluyt slightly more efficient, leaving more actions to fight which is always helpful.
I think one of the strengths of the Fluyt is that you can handle this rather large ship with a fairly small crew. The Whipstaff trait plays into this theme. Usually you get a -1″ turn penalty if you don’t have a unit on the back deck, manning the tiller/rudder. This doesn’t often come up, but it won’t ever come up for this ship and that’s good because you need that 3″ turn to keep in the game! The Easy to Handle trait lets you use standard actions to change the sail settings rather than dedicated actions. This can be extremely helpful, although you are still limited to changing your sail setting no more than once per activation.
Finally, a small practical “issue”: using the turn gauge on the Fluyt is trickier than most ships because the entire hull is curved, making it difficult to be consistent in how you use the maneuver tool.
The Fluyt can hold a lot of men! With 2 large decks, a moderately sized back deck, plus the Poop Deck subsection and options for Fighting Tops, you can fit up to 73 models on this ship. The front deck can hold up to 21 models and another 4 in a 2-point Fighting Top if you like. I typically fill this deck with a lot of sailors to man the 4 Swivel Guns and possibly the 2 cannon ports. I find the front deck gets hit most by small arms fire in combat so I have a hard time putting more expensive models up there because of the high casualty rate.
The mid deck can hold up to 25 models with 4 Light Guns on board. There are no Swivel Ports here so I find this a good place to put a unit of unassigned sailors or a unit of Militia/Regulars along with the gun crew if you running cannons. You also have the option of paying for that Fighting Top for another 4 models in the rigging.
The main back deck can house up to 15 models and it can put another 7 in the Poop Deck subsection. You can basically fill this deck with gun crew as well if you want to man the cannons and the 2 Swivel Guns. The Poop Deck is a fun place to put a few elite snipers because if you’re fighting a smaller ship like a Bark, your snipers might apply the +1 Save penalty for being 2″ higher than the target!
The Fluyt’s armament isn’t as deadly as something like the Light Frigate, but it’s really not bad for being a merchant ship! The Swivel Gun placement is great with 4 in front and 2 in the back. That’s actually better than the Light Frigate!
The spread of 2/2/2 cannons isn’t my favorite but it can be effective.
- The Bad. You have to devote three units to man your guns and you don’t have that higher hitting power of 3 cannons together. They aren’t as powerful. If you want to up your chance of getting effective Critical Hits on your enemy, you’ll need to bring an effective commander with Broadside and 2 Command Points.
- The Good: you can man it with a smaller crew and your cannon power is spread out so the enemy can’t focus on your main (or only) cannon deck. You have a wide and evenly spread arch of fire.
The Privateer Fluyt
The Privateer Fluyt increases the top speed of the ship to 5″ but it doesn’t actually give it a 5″ sail setting so you have to have an entire unit devoted to that Swift rule (per the 2019 errata) to get that extra speed and only while going downwind. I would be tempted to use this version if the Windward penalty was reduced to -1″ instead of -2″.
The durability goes down from 4/6 to 4/5 which is equal to the Sloop which I would probably rather use unless I needed to dump a ton of men into a sea game.
Uses for the Fluyt
In my opinion there isn’t a lot of roles that the Fluyt fulfills better than an alternate ship but it can be used to decent effect in many instances.
One role that I think it fills really well is an auxiliary cannon ship in a larger multi-ship battle. You can load a Fluyt with a basic commander, 6 pairs of Light cannons and a skeleton crew for just a little more than 100 points. You can slowly sail (the Fluyt’s specialty) the gunship around the periphery and shoot those cannons as quickly as possible while a melee ship goes in to do the dirty work..
In the video below you can see the Fluyt used as a 300 point pirate ship under the command of Jean Hamlyn.
With Heavily Built, plenty of swivels and fighting tops, I think it makes a better defensive ship that it does an aggressive ship. If you’re on the offense, most other ships can head upwind and put distance between them and you. Don’t try to use the Fluyt as a boarding party platform because you may never get a chance to board.
While you can build it fairly cheap with a small crew, it’s also OK to just fill it up and sail it into combat with guns bristling! You don’t even have to focus on cannons. Or you could do cheap light cannons with grapeshot along with lots of muskets on deck and in the fighting tops and maximum swivel guns. You can pour out a lot of lead!
The Fluyt is also a great attention grabber at demos game sessions are you local game store. People will stop and look at any ship that’s nicely painted and rigged but these bigger ships really get people’s attention.
Being a merchant style of ship, my local group has used the Fluyt as an objective ship for various scenarios.
I have to say I don’t believe the Fluyt is the most competitive or powerful ship in the game but it’s a beautiful and impressive ship and I’m glad I have it in my fleet. It suffers from the “not a Light Frigate” syndrome.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a first purchase, partly because it isn’t the strongest and partly because it’s very expensive to buy. But if you’re playing the Dutch where it naturally finds its home, or if you just like the look of this ship, go for it! It will be a glorious ship in your fleet!
I would like to hear about other players’ experiences with the Fluyt. How do you usually set it up? How have you found the power level?
Thanks for reading!