Ship Overview – The Galleon

The Galleon is the largest ship (currently) available to use in Blood & Plunder and it is truly a beast! At 26″ long and 24″ tall, it truly dominates a gaming table and intimidates its opponents.

Photo by Guy Rheuark. Used by permission. 

It is by far the toughest and most heavily armed ship in Blood & Plunder but it is also slow, not very maneuverable and has a very deep draft.

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Speed and Maneuverability

The Galleon has the standard top speed of 4″ and has all the possible sail settings between 4″ and anchored. It has a -2″ Windward penalty and a turn of only 2″. The Galleon is many things but it is neither fast nor maneuverable. As long as you keep the wind at your back, you can move around just fine, but once you start going upwind, don’t expect to make a lot of headway. The 2″ turn is the lowest of any ship in Blood & Plunder. It will take a full 2 moves to move 90* and 4 full turn moves to reverse directions.

The Galleon lacks the Staysails ability that comes with some of the other large ships like the 6th Rate and Light Frigate which makes it extra unforgiving if you’re trying to travel upwind. Heading upwind is a decision that can’t be made lightly when sailing a Galleon. I find the Sailing Master a welcome addition to a Galleon’s crew. Getting an extra inch of movement at just the right moment can help this giant feel less like a massive bathtub. Luckily the Galleon’s ability to put cannons in the bow and stern helps make up for its sluggishness.

The Draft value doesn’t technically play into maneuverability but it does effect how you choose to sail once a shoal is on the board. With a Draft value of 12 you only need to roll a 3 to get the 15 that grounds a ship. That’s a 80% chance you’ll hit a shoal if you have to sail over it. Multiply that by 3-5 moves to actually move all the way over it (unless you can side swipe it) and you’re pretty much sure to get stuck. You can try to just sail around all shoals but it’s still possible that an event will produce an unexpected shoal at an inopportune moment. It’s happened to me. More than once…

Firepower

The Galleon has the most firepower potential of any ship currently in the game. And it isn’t even close. Fully armed, the Galleon can pretty much blast anything out of the water if it can bring its guns to bear. Even another Galleon…

The Galleon is unique in the game in that it can take Heavy Cannons. The 6th Rate Frigate can take a few heavies, but the Galleon has no restrictions like the Frigate. The Galleon can take up to 14 pairs of cannons of any size including 2 decks which can take 4 pairs (more cannons than another deck in the game), and bow and stern chasers. These cannons make the Galleon very expensive (in game terms) to load out, but in large games, the Galleon simply outguns everything else on land or sea. A Galleon with a full compliment of 14 pairs of Heavy Cannons will cost you 207 points (just ship and cannons, not any crew).

Those large decks of cannon need huge groups of cannon crew so you’ll likely have to either use smaller guns or choose a couple decks fill up with cannons in most games. Even at 400 points, the Galleon won’t be close to being full. The Galleon feels “full” and complete at about 1000 points. That doesn’t mean it isn’t useful or strong in smaller games, but it just means you can’t utilize it’s full potential until you get into really large games.

This ship has the coveted set of 4 Swivel Guns in the bow which can throw death wherever you point your ship. It has another set of 4 swivels in the quarter deck (third deck, counting from the front) that can be deadly as well. I prefer swivels on the front or back decks, but four swivels anywhere is good. They are some of the cheapest and fastest loading firepower available on a ship. I should mention that while the rules put 4 Swivels on the quarter deck, the model itself has mounts for 2 swivels each on the quarter deck and the poop deck. Not sure why the model and rules differ slightly, but apparently all 4 of them are controlled by the models in the 3rd deck.

Deciding how many guns you can afford or want to put in your Galleon list can be hard, but it is by far the most dangerous cannon ship in the game.

Durability

The Galleon is also the toughest ship in the game! With a Fortitude of 5 and an Integrity of 7, this ship can take 28 damage before being reduced to a Fortitude of 1. On top of those solid numbers, the Galleon comes with the Heavily Built trait which basically cancels the first damage applied by each attack. When you have a ship this tough, it’s hard to get hits through at all and if you cancel the first of each attack, that can make a big difference. The Galleon is pretty much only vulnerable to massed cannons with a Commander using the Broadside! rule to apply large quantities of damage all at once.

The Rigging Fortitude is 4/6 which is the same as the 6th Rate and very difficult for an attacker to burn through. The Galleon’s rigging is substantially more durable the many ships’ hull in this game!

This ship is a real tank but its lack of maneuverability can be a weakness in this deparment if an enemy is able to line up a raking shot on your stern. This could be devastating as your Fortitude is reduced and the hits are doubled. Don’t get raked!

Capacity

You can fit a huge number of models into the Galleon. The decks on the Galleon can hold 26, 35, 27 and 18 models respectively. That’s 105 models on deck! Then there are subsections including 3 Fighting Tops that can hold 4 models each, a Gallery in the stern that can hold 6 models and 4 Gun Decks that can hold up to 20 models each. That’s a total of 203 models when completely filled! When I did a 1000 point game, I had a total of 173 model in my force.

The subsection rules are a little difficult to fully digest (for me at least) so they take some study to understand and use well.

Picture by Jon Cleaves. Used by permission

The Gun Decks can be hugely useful as you can (1) have a gun crew without actually needing to paint insane amounts of models, (2) take advantage of the superior cover in the Gun Decks, and (3) take advantage of the current subsection rules that don’t prohibit models from firing swivel guns from the Gun Decks.

Picture by Jon Cleaves. Used by permission

The Gun Decks have a strange caveat in the rules where both players have to “agree to use them” before a game. But if any ship deserved to have those Gun Deck rules, it’s the Galleon!

The Gallery is a unique subsection in the Poop Deck that can hold up to 6 models. It can be useful but I find myself filling the main decks before considering using the Gallery. The Fighting Tops are a little tricky to use on the Galleon because of the game size usually used when a Galleon is present. The minimum unit size goes up as the total game size increases and any game larger than 299 points will kind of mess up optimal use of the Fighting Tops. You can put portions of units on the main decks in the Fighting Tops (you might as well since they are free on this ship and the elevation gives your targets a Save penalty) but if you wanted to put a independent unit of 4 or few models up there, you need to be playing at less then 300 points or utilize the Army Game rules which let you build 3 or more “companies” of units which all activate at once. This can honestly be a great way to use the Galleon. This way you can put all the smaller units for your subsections in a smaller company that has a smaller minimum size for a unit.

Special Rules and Upgrades

The Galleon doesn’t have any optional upgrades! All it’s special rules are all built in without having to pay for anything extra. And at 25 points, it’s not a bad deal at all. It’s a floating fortress!

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It has a lot of special rules but we’ve touched on nearly all of them already.

Gallery 6 is the extra subsection on the Poop Deck

Gun Decks 4 helps you man you cannons safely and still have room for men on deck.

Fighting Tops 3 lets you elevate some muskets to sweep your opponent’s decks.

Chasers lets you mount a pair of cannons in the bow and stern.

Whipstaff is an interesting rule. Usually if you don’t have a unit on the Poop Deck, you take a severe penalty to your ability to turn. Whipstaff takes away that potential penalty so you can leave that deck empty if you wish.

Heavily Built makes this ship that much tougher by canceling the first point of damage from every attack.

Other Considerations

This ship is amazing. It’s an impressive centerpiece of my fleet and I enjoy using it. It’s also a major investment in both time and money. At $300, it’s nearly twice as expensive as the 6th Rate Frigate which is the next largest ship. The hull is considerably taller than the 6th Rate and apparently Firelock had to use an entirely different and difficult casting method to make this beast possible.

Photo by Liam Taylor. Used by permission.

The Galleon easily took me the longest of any of the Firelock ships to build, paint and rig. I should mention that the ship comes in three main resin pieces: the bow, the main hull and the gallery subsection are all separate parts which need to be glued together. This can take some work as the resin usually need some trimming, sanding and patching to make everything go together perfectly. It also has some smaller pieces with which you can customize the stern. You can choose the Spanish crest and Catholic saints or more an English look with lions and a different crest.

galleon prow

The painting is a major project just because of the sheer surface area! It’s a tall ship and that gives you a lot of area to paint! The rigging is a decently large project as well, but if you’ve done any of the other ships, this is similar but just more of the same style of work. It was a very satisfying project to complete!

If you’re looking for an impressive and amazing ship, this is it. If you’re looking to squeeze the most out of your dollars, the Galleon might not be the optimal choice. The 6th Rate is not as huge or tough, but I think it is competitive with the Galleon for a lower price point. Unless you have a very special local play group that regularly plays extra large games, you probably won’t be able to play with the Galleon as much as you could with a Sloop or Frigate.

Forcebuilding With the Galleon

The Galleon is certainly going to be best in your higher point games. I think you can start to reasonably man it at 350 or so but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it effectively at the 200 point level as well. You just won’t be able to use all that it has to offer.

Here’s a nasty 200 point “Turtle Galleon” that puts a bunch of hardy Marineros Piqueros into the Gun Decks and just blasts away with cannons and swivel guns.

Here’s an English Navy budget Galleon that does a similar thing at 200 points. With 10 pairs of Light Cannons, you get that big ship feel at only 200 points.

Here is a “balanced” 300 point Spanish Galleon List I used in this Battle Report.

Here’s a 300 point Spanish list that omits cannons entirely. Cannons are a strength but this ship can be used as a sturdy fighting platform. The high hull can sometimes give you an elevation advantage and force enemies to board with Dedicated Climb actions.

Here’s a 400 point Dutch Navy force that attempts to be safe(r) from shoals by combining the Shallow Draft trait with a Ship’s Pilot. Now you have 3 chances to roll a 1 or a 2!

Here’s a 600 point list built using the Army Company Rules for quicker play:

  1. Front Deck
  2. Main Deck with the Army Commander
  3. Back Two Decks

Here’s another company level Galleon that totals 1000 points. This is one of Guy’s Brethren of the Coast lists and it sunk my 1000 point Galleon in two broadsides! Absolutely brutal.

  1. Top decks commanded by Admiral Henry Morgan
  2. Gun decks commanded by the Strict William Kidd
  3. Fighting Top units commanded by a French Buccaneer commanders

You can see this fantastic list in action in this battle report.

More Articles Featuring the Galleon

Galleon Painting Guide

Pictures of a Completed Galleon

Building and Painting the Galleon’s Hull

A 300 Point Battle Report Featuring a Spanish Galleon

1000 Point Galleon Duel Battle Report

The Galleon is a truly remarkable part of Blood & Plunder. I don’t get to play games with that often but it always delivers memorable game experiences and it never fails to attract other people to the game when it’s on the table.