Ahoy there mateys! Cap’n Dan is back for another article! Here, I will be going over the newest ship in the ship lineup (as of March 2020): The Firelock Games 6th Rate Frigate! As Blood & Plunder’s very first Rated Ship, it’s quite a doozy!
The 6th Rate is essentially an upgraded Light Frigate. It is a Size 4 model which means has an additional deck allowing for more models and more guns.
It has the same sailing profile, it’s just larger.
- Sail Settings: 5”, 4”, 3”, 2”, 0, and Anchor sail settings
- Max Turn: 3” Turn and
- Windward Penalty: -2”
- Draft Value: 9
Its high max speed means it can both run and pursue with relative ease. Its Staysails ability will help keep it from stalling out even when against the wind. Being a larger ship, the 6th Rate Frigate has a Draft Value of 9, as opposed to the Light Frigate’s Draft Value of 8.
This ship excels in the firepower category! She can hold a total of 26 Cannons when fully equipped with Bow and Stern Chasers, or 8 swivel guns if you forego the bow chasers. While not as much as the Galleon, this is amazing for the speed factor. The only downside is the Limited Capacity special rule, which makes it so you can only take 1 deck of heavy guns, and also reduces your speed to 4 inches. I would not recommend using this at all since the 6th Rate’s greatest feature is that beautiful 5-inch speed.
Like the Light Frigate, this vessel starts out at Fortitude 5, making it awesome for going broadside to broadside with ships in or below its class. Ironically, it retains the same 24 Bubbles that the Light Frigate has, meaning you haven’t lost or gained any durability for the points cost. However, the rigging Fortitude starts out at 4, and has a total of 18, which is a vast improvement over the Light Frigate’s 12. Honestly, I’ve never shot at rigging before. I prefer to kill models instead of rope so this upgrade is kind of expected, but won’t affect gameplay much….unless Firelock decides to add chain shot in at some point.
6th Rate Frigate Special Rules and Upgrades
The 6th Rate has quite a few Special Rules. It also has multiple upgrades available when you are building your forces.
Core Ship Abilities and Rules
It has Fighting Tops 3. That means each of it’s 3 main masts can add a Fighting Top. This allows you to put up to 4 models on the platforms that come with the kit. Fighting tops are great for sniping at enemies and forcing them to divide their fire.
It can take Bow and Stern Chasers, but if you take Bow Chasers you must lose 2 Swivel Guns, so these are situational at best.
Whipstaff means the ship can turn without penalty even if there are no models on the rear-most deck. This is a much underrated rule, as it gives your men room to maneuver around and below decks. The last two Special Rules are meant to make the 6th Rate historically accurate.
Deck Guns states that any guns placed in the rounded gun ports or as bow chasers must be light guns. This means if you fully equip the ship, 6 of those cannons can only be light guns.
Limited Capacity, as discussed in the Firepower Section, limits the amount of heavy guns you can take on this speedy beast by limiting them to 1 deck, and knocks your speed down to 4”. While most view this as a potential threat, if you’re fighting a fully equipped Galleon, chances are you’ll be running mostly Mediums and have ample boarding crew to take that pesky vessel anyway. The Galleon is a floating fortress, the 6th rate is meant for speed and maneuverability.
Additional Ship Upgrades:
The following upgrades are a bit hit-and-miss and should really only be taken if you think your scenario calls for them.
- Sweeps: +2 Points for Sweeps 2 is cool, but you REALLY should be staying in the wind since you lack Staysails.
- Wheel: The Wheel Upgrade for +2 is invaluable if you have a unit with Expert Sailors manning you sails! This means that you pass ANY Advanced Maneuver on a 3+…that’s an 80% guarantee you’ll pass! If you are forced to Tack, this will come in mighty handy!
- Bow Chasers: If you are in a scenario where you are doing an assault or possible chase Bow Chasers are a good option. But in a straight-up fight, especially against a Size 3+ ship the chaser guns rarely put out enough damage to be beneficial in a game. The risk of chaser guns are that they set you up for your enemy to do a raking shot on your ship. So be careful when you move to line up a shot. Lining up at the end of the previous round and hoping for a high space will allow you to shoot and then use your first Move action for your ship to turn aside after firing.
The 6th Rate has four decks, as it’s a size 4 ship. I’ll be referring to the decks as Deck 1-4 respectfully, starting from the front deck.
- Deck 1 (bow): 16 models with 2 cannons as bow chasers, 20 with a fighting top
- Deck 2: 31 models max with 6 cannons, 35 models with a fighting top
- Deck 3: 20 models with 2 cannons, 24 models with a fighting top
- Deck 4 (stern): 14 models max.
- Total Capacity: 81 models on the base ship or 93 with 3 fighting tops
Force building with the 6th Rate Frigate
Of all the factions I’ve played, one stands out superbly: The Dutch Navy. Choosing the “Ships of the Hoorne” faction rule gives any ship the “Heavily Built” upgrade for free! This increases your durability by ignoring the first point of damage to your hull from every artillery attack! In fact, if you wanted to be “That Guy/Gal”, you could play this faction, load up on Enter Ploeg, and then zoom in, board, and slaughter you enemies’ crew….if you like having friends, however, I do NOT recommend this course of action!
250 Point Forces with a 6th Rate Ship
- 250 Point Dutch Navy Force using Enter Ploeg and Soldaten
- 250 Point English Navy Force with 11 Pairs of Light Cannons
Being a size 4 ship, you probably need to be playing at 250 points or more to make this ship work at it’s optimal level. If you’re playing 200 or less, the Light Frigate is likely a better choice.
300-450 Point Forces with a 6th Rate Ship
- 300 Point 26 Gun English Pirate Hunter Force
- 300 Point Dutch Boarding Party w/Piet Heyn
- 350 Point Brethren of the Coast Force led by Monbars the Exterminator
- 450 Point Dutch Heyn’s Commissievaarders
500 Point Forces with a 6th Rate Ship
It can easily go up to 500 points with a full complement of cannons
Written by Dan Carlson
Photos in this article are used by permission of Dan Carlson, Liam Taylor, and The Just Dice League.
Additional Content Suggestions:
- Check out all our other ship reviews, painting guides, rigging guides, and ship stats on our Ultimate Guide to Blood & Plunder Ships page.
- Painting and rigging discussion on a Completed 6th Rate Frigate Model