Ship Overview – Bermuda Sloop
The Bermuda Sloop is a small swift vessel popular throughout the Caribbean during the Age of Sail. With a shallow draft and high top speed, it was an extremely popular vessel among pirate crews. In the game of Blood & Plunder, it is quickly becoming the most popular ship due to its inclusion in the 2-player starter set. In this blog post, we will take an in-depth look at the Bermuda Sloop and explore its capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and tactical uses in the game.
The Bermuda sloop is one of the most influential vessels in the Caribbean during the18th Century. Liam Taylor authored an excellent article on it’s history and background. If you’ve not read that article, “Leopards of the Seas – Bermuda Sloops in the Golden Age of Piracy,” it is well written and an excellent resource!
The 28mm scale Bermuda Sloop model measures 11″ long (17.5″ full bowsprit to the bottom of the gaff sail), 4.25″ wide, and 24″ tall. It is a sleek and streamlined ship that looks great on the gaming table.
- Ship Overview
- Stat Card
- Speed and Maneuverability
- Ship Model Capacity
- Traits & Special Rules
- Upgrade Options
- Assembling and Painting
- Video Review of the 18th-Century Sloop
- Combat Strategy & Tactics Suggestions
- Force building with the Bermuda Sloop
- Battle Reports
- Photo gallery of the Bermuda Sloop
- Bermuda Sloop With Seamon’s Quality Sails
- Product Recommendation
- Additional Content Suggestions:
Stat Card – Bermuda Sloop Ship
A copy of the Bermuda Sloop stat card front and back for reference or you can save and print it. Each side should be 4″x6″. You can then stick them in a recommended card sleeve and you are good to go.
Speed and Maneuverability
The Bermuda Sloop is one of the fastest and most maneuverable ships in Blood & Plunder. With the Improved Rig upgrade, you can get to a Top Speed of 6″. If you have a wind bonus and are gutsy, with a Sailing Master you can take a Lucky Hits and push your ship up to 7″ once per Turn and hope to Repair with another unit to not lose speed.
While windward the ship loses only 1″. If you reduce speed to less than full sail, your Hybrid Rig allows you to ignore the Windward penalty.
With its Shallow Draft you have almost no fear of shoals. With Draft 6, you only run aground on a 9 or 10 on a D10. But your Shallow Draft lets you roll two dice and keep the result of your choice. With two dice you have only a 4% chance of running aground.
Ship Movement Stats
- Top Speed: 5″
- Turn: 4″
- Draft: 6
- Sail Settings:
5″ | 4″ | 3″ | 0″ | ⚓
Sailing Strategy & Tactics Suggestions
- Speed is your ally with this ship. She can make the Kessel Run in less than… wait… wrong game. But with a Top Speed of 5″ base, and the ability to take the Improved Rig upgrades to get 6″ you can run down most larger ships with ease.
- Taking a Sailing Master to go above your Top Speed and taking the Lucky Hit can be risky. However, because it’s a Lucky Hit and not a Critical Hit, you have a -1 on the damage roll from Lucky so can’t take a catastrophic Mast Hit. That means you can use another Unit to do a Repair action every round and repair damage as you go. If you also take a Carpenter, you’ll improve the odds of keeping moving at full speed. Just keep a Fortune Point handy in case you fail.
- The sail settings on this ship allow you to cross the Wind’s Eye much easier than with other ships. You can use this to your advantage during a game by luring larger opponent towards you and then flipping in a way they can’t necessarily follow.
- Initial deployment of this ship varies based on your tactics:
- If you are meaning to board you, deploy as far forward as possible.
- If you are cannon dueling with another ship at range I like to pick a corner rather than the center of the board to maximize the distance between you
- With Swivels, the center of the board is good.
The Bermuda Sloop has the option for 8 Light Cannons or 8 Swivel Guns which makes it heavily armed for ship of its size. Fully armed, it has more firepower than the Tartana and standard Sloop which are both larger vessels.
To max out the firepower on the Bermuda Sloop it will cost:
- 8 Light Cannons = 28pts
- 8 Swivel Guns = 32pts
- Max Cannons: 8 (4 pairs)
- 6 Fore Deck (3 Pairs)
- 2 Rear Deck(1 pair)
- Max Swivel Guns: 8
- 4 on the Fore Deck
- 4 on the Rear Deck
Using Cannons on the Bermuda Sloop
The cannon layout puts 3 pairs of guns on the front and a single pair on the rear. Unless you take a commander with the Broadside! ability, focusing on solely the Front Deck only is likely a better option.
A standard crewed set of 3 pairs of guns has a minimum of 6 men (loading 1 side at a time), but realistically that means you’ll want a Unit of 8-12 men, leaving you space for 10-14 men on the front deck. That works well as the max unit size for a 200pt game is 12. You’ll have potential room for 12 + 1 for your commander + 1 for a special Character.
While a single pair on the rear means you are only firing a single light cannon. The benefit of the single gun is you only need a small crew to man the gun. Only two crew are required, but having 2 extras to absorb casualties puts it at a 4 man unit. That leaves you space for a unit of 10 on the rear deck.
You can also assign one unit to both the single cannon and the Swivel Guns but the reload sequence gets a bit wonky.
Using Swivels on the Bermuda Sloop
Swivels are one of the most dangerous features on the Bermuda sloop. No other 2 Deck ship can match it for the number of swivels onboard. This ship splits the swivel guns evenly between both decks.
- Mounting your Swivels at the front of your ship is excellent when doing a boarding-focused build as you can continue to shoot with the lowest to-hit modifiers possible for range.
- If you take a 4-man unit on the cannons, you can still allocate 10 models to the 4 remaining swivels on the rear deck. Or you can combine all the Swivels and the Light Cannon into one unit.
- Because of your high maneuverability, you can swing your tail toward your enemy to bring the rear deck slower before firing.
- Because they have a 360° field of fire they allow you to attack an enemy in any direction unlike the limit of cannons on broadsides.
The Bermuda Sloop is a bit fragile as a whole.
- With a Fortitude of 4 and an Integrity of 4, this ship can only take 12 damage before being reduced to a Fortitude of 1.
- Additionally, your rigging is also fragile with only 10 hits before being reduced to 1.
- Against a ship at Frigate scale or larger ship, you should avoid getting in the enemy’s Broadside. If they get more than a couple of salvos off, you risk being reduced to splinters.
- Be careful when approaching to board. If an enemy is able to line up a raking shot, this could be devastating as the number of hits is doubled. Don’t get raked!
Ship Durability Stats
- Fortitude: 3
- Integrity: 5
- Fortitude: 4
- Integrity: 4
Ship Model Capacity
Next to the Bark, the Bermuda Sloop is one of the smallest 2 deck ship models in the game. In its standard configuration, it is capable of holding 37 total models, 22 on the Fore Deck and 15 on the rear deck.
As a 2 Deck ship, you get a max of 4 Units (2 per Deck). This means you need to be more conscious of the units you are selecting.
Additionally, your choices of Artillery will affect your Unit size options more so than on larger ships. Both for unit size and placement of models on the ship. At full cannons, you will lose at least 1 model to place the cannon models on the front deck of the ship.
Meta Gaming and Removing the Windlass
The Windlass is the decorative bit at the front of the ship at the end of the front mast. It is a device used to help crews raise the heavy weight of the anchor.
There has been some discussion online regarding whether the Windlass is required on the model. Skipping it or removing it during construction will allow you to add 2 additional models to the front deck of your ship.
It has been “officially” ruled that such a modification to ship is allowed since that feature doesn’t exist on any other model, but no official errata has been added to the game.
On the one hand, it is a bit of “modeling for advantage” and strays from the original design of the ship. However, pirates were notorious for stripping a ship of all unnecessary elements and equipment to try to make s ship as lightweight and fast as possible.
I can see both sides of the argument and could be persuaded either way. My theory is if you’re a good enough player, you don’t need to tweak the models to win… hehe… kidding… sort of… As long as you are playing the game and having fun, that’s the more important part!
Rear Deck – Lower Subsection
The model of the Bermuda Sloop is one that sometimes confuses new players as the model kit appears to have additional areas that are inaccessible on the model. Visually there is a door on the ship and a hollow space where two guns reside. Most of the other ships have doors a the rear of the ship, but these are purely for the aesthetics of the model.
The lower deck is not a separate “subsection” as exists on other larger ships. At this time only the Galleon has a subsection for lower Gundecks that affect gameplay.
With regards to the sloop, any models manning the rear cannons should simply be placed on the top deck. As it’s a game not everything in the models is fully represented so you have to use your imagination. After all, if this were a real ship, there would be trays for cannonballs, rope, powder, and other items on deck making it more cluttered.
Traits & Special Rules
This ship has a LOT of special rules and abilities. Let’s go through those one by one.
Lightly Built – Due to its light construction, this ship may only carry Swivels and Light Cannons as Artillery. In addition, the ship does not offer Hard Cover to models inside it.
The inability to take Medium Cannons does limit this ship a bit in larger point games or in games against 3 or 4 Deck ships. In those instances, it is best to avoid a cannon duel and go for a boarding strategy.
Shallow Draft – If this ship must test to Run Aground, or if a Repair Action is being made to free this ship from being Run Aground, roll two dice for the Test and keep one result of your choice.
With base Draft of 6, you only run aground on a 9 or 10 on a D10. Since Shallow Draft lets you re-roll and keep the result of your choice you have only a 4% chance of running aground.
Hybrid Rig – As long as this ship’s sails are not at their highest setting, it gains both the Fore-and-Aft Rig ship trait and the ship’s windward penalty is reduced by 1″ (to a minimum of 0″).
Hybrid Rig is an interesting combo on this ship. By traveling at a slower speed you ignore the Windward penalty, which is particularly useful on turns. By giving you the Fore-and-Aft Rigging trait you get to re-roll any Advanced Maneuvers and keep the desired roll. It ties for the top ability in turning through the Wind’s Eye (Sloop & Privateer Sloop can as well).
Simple Rig – This ship’s Sail Setting may be changed using a Standard action instead of a Dedicated action. Additionally, apply a +1 penalty when taking a Shoot Test to hit this ship’s Rigging. This penalty is not applied to the additional dice, only the initial hit.
This attribute allows you to adjust speed more quickly. Paired with Hybrid Rig this can be useful when you need to make advanced maneuvers or turn through the Wind’s Eye.
Additionally, because of the few ropes and block and tackle bits needed to rig the ship you have few targets for the enemy to shoot and damage the ship’s rigging. This 10% penalty is helpful in offsetting the low durability of the rigging.
Upgrade Options for the Ship
There are two ship specific upgrade options available for the Bermuda Sloop – Reinforced Bulkheads and Sweeps.
Reinforced Bulkheads (3 pts)
Units in this ship count as being in Hard Cover.
This is a solid option and one I highly recommend to help keep your units alive. Even if you save one more lowly sailor, it’s paid for itself.
Sweeps (2) (1 pt)
May move up to 2” under oars while sails are set at speed 0” and the Sweeps are crewed.
Sweeps is not often useful in a standard or tournament game setting, but if the wind has died down or you want to entirely ignore the wind direction, this can be useful. Unless you are in a situation where a Scenario requires it, there is rarely a great reason to take Sweeps on a larger sailing vessel.
Generic Upgrade Options for the Ship
The Raise the Black expansion book adds a number of new “generic” upgrades available to any ship in the game. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
Anti Grappling Measures (3 pts)
A unit attempting to Grapple a ship with this equipment receives a +2 penalty to the Grappling Test.
The Anti Grappling Measures have no effect on a Grappling test from a ship that is either 1) a boat (any size 1 ship), or 2) if the skids of the two ships are within 5” of each other. (For clarity a unit making a Grappling action must still occupy a section within 3” of their target.)
For me, this upgrade isn’t one I’d bother to take. The Bermuda Sloop is typically meant to be an aggressive ship so you are likely to want to board anyway. If you aren’t interested in boarding you should be focusing on speed and sailing maneuvers to avoid getting boarded. Save your 3 points for an extra model or other upgrade.
Freshly Careened Hull (4 pts)
A ship with this Trait may take a single move immediately after being deployed – the ship itself being moved at its starting Sail Setting and speed (with usual modifiers for wind speed/direction). Additional Sails, the Swift Trait and any Sailing Master abilities are not applied to this move.
If you are going to be boarding, this is almost a must-take. That extra free movement at the start of the game is well worth the points. ESPECIALLY if you are facing a larger ship or one with more cannons.
Improved Rig (post 1700 factions) (4 pts)
A ship with this Trait gains +1 to its Top Speed characteristic. (Note this is Top Speed, not its actual Sail Setting values, making it mainly useful with a Sailing Master, or in an increased wind, etc.)
Again, this is a solid option for ships focused on boarding. It allows you to run at top speed and not worry about the danger of wind. If paired with a Commander with Sailing Master or a Character you can take a free Test once per turn to increase your Speed +1 allowing you to reach 6″. If you have a Wind bonus you can push to an insane 7″ and take a Lucky Hit on your rigging.
Streamlined Hull (post 1700 factions) (3 pts)
While at her highest sail setting, a ship with this trait may decrease her windward penalty by 1” (to a minimum of 0”) in one of her three activations per turn, but permanently increases its Draft value by 1. This may not be used in the same activation as the Sailing Master ability if the crew has it.
Because of the high speed of this ship and the ability to largely ignore a -1 Windward penalty on its own, I’m not sure I see the justification for taking this option. It is typically best taken on larger ships like the 6th Rate Frigate or Galleon that are less maneuverable. If the wind is a factor in a Scenario or initial deployment, you may be able to use it to your advantage, but personally, I’d rather have another model on my ship or look at other upgrades that would offer a more definitive benefit.
Assembling and Painting the Bermuda Sloop
This ship is the first model to be rendered in plastic by Firelock Games. As such it falls into a totally different category of preparation needed to get on the battlefield. In the past, their resin ships simply needed to have the rigging assembled and the ship was ready to go. This model is more like an airplane model you may have assembled as a kit.
Assembly How To Guides
We have full YouTube video guides and suggestions for preparing your awesome Bermuda Sloop model for use in your tabletop games. Or you can get a link to the printed instructions below.
Blood & Pigment Painting Guide – Coming Soon™
Sloop Painting Tutorial by OnTableTop
The fine folks at OnTableTop have put together an excellent painting tutorial as part of their “3 colours up” series. They are also a great resource for news in the miniature gaming world. Check out their YouTube channel and website for more great content.
18th Century Sloop – Sail & Rigging Instructions
A PDF of the fulling rigging instructions and sail template cutouts are available for download from Firelock Games.
Video Review of the 18th-Century Bermuda Sloop
Combat Strategy & Tactics Suggestions
Choosing an Overall Strategy
- The Bermuda Sloop is an extremely versatile ship. Your first step should be deciding the tactics you want to use. We have a multiple Sea Battle tactics articles to help make your decigision:
General Tips & Suggestions
- You have the option for 8 Swivel guns, more than any other Size 2 ship. It is a definite advantage worth exploring. Taking lots of 3pt sailors armed with only melee weapons can use Swivels as a force multiplier at medium and short ranges.
- The number of big guns you take makes a big difference in the combat style and unit placement. Because of its limited model capacity, you have to commit strongly to a specific tactic from the outset.
- If you are facing a Cannon focused opponent you are going to need to use your speed and maneuverability to try to stay out of their Broadside if at all possible. Because of its smaller size you are susceptible to damage from sustained cannon shots. Target their gun crews with your muskets or swivels to try to suppress incoming cannon fire.
- If you are taking a Boarding Focused build, you should DEFINITELY consider taking the Freshly Careened Hull for the bonus move at the start of the game. This will allow you to close on your opponent quickly.
- Because you can only take Light Cannons, if you know you are going to be facing a ship of Size 3 or 4, consider a different strategy than cannons. You will likely be outgunned and be unable to trade broadsides. A Boarding or Small Arms strategy may be a better option.
- If you know the Scenario to be played, read the objectives and how to inflict Strike Points. The Bermuda Sloop is adaptable to multiple objectives.
Force building With the Bermuda Sloop
The Bermuda Sloop is a great ship for games at 200 points or less. You can build forces larger than 200 and get it to 250 or even 300 points. However, at that scale of the game, if an opponent takes a cannon-focused build, on a larger ship you are in danger of being destroyed at range. A fully armed 6th Rate Frigate or Galleon can deal out more Hits in a single Broadside than you have in your Hull. As such, in 300+ point games, I would recommend taking two sloops rather than one.
Black Caesar’s Marauders by Niguel Vega
This 200 point list by Niguel Vega performed well at the 2023 Adepticon tournament. You can find a full write up on the list here.
This list is very aggressive with plenty of speed, Swivel Gun firepower and lots of bodies to board with.
British Pirate Hunters by Joseph Forster
This list would be very thematic for hunting down Black Caesar or Blackbeard. With some Swivels, some Cannons and some small arms, this list is pretty well rounded.
Elding Eluding Bermuda Sloop by Liam Taylor
Featuring a historical commander and no cannons, this list focuses on Small Arms and Swivel Guns.
This sloop is outfitted to avoid being boarded. With that move before the game and anti grappling devices, the opponent should have a difficult boarding and the Sailing Master character will help the ship keep out of the enemy’s broadside path as much as possible.
200 Pt Blackbeard Starter Set Only Force by Dan Carlson
this force by Dan Carlson is buildable from just the starter. It features Blackbeard himself and two Veteran units. 12 Roundsman with Buccaneer guns and 12 Veteran Pirates w/Blunderbusses manning Swivel Guns. With only two units, you get to move your ship in strange ways since you have to perform a Residual Move at the end of the round.
Battle Reports Featuring Bermuda Sloop Models
YouTube – Sloop Wars Vol 1
Photo gallery of the 18th Century Bermuda Sloop in Blood & Plunder
Here are a few photos of the plastic Bermuda Sloop in action! Select an image to zoom in.
The Bermuda Sloop is a versatile and formidable vessel in the game of Blood & Plunder. Its speed and agility allow for quick strikes against larger vessels, and its firepower allow it to hold its own in battle against other smaller ships. With the right crew and upgrades, a Bermuda Sloop is a valuable asset to any player’s force. We hope this article helped you in learning about the Bermuda sloop and expanding your skill in playing Blood & Plunder.
Bermuda Sloop Outfitted With Seamon’s Quality Sails
Seamon’s Quality Sails is are fantastic addition to any Blood & Plunder ship. These beautifully crafted sails are made from high-quality materials and are designed to be highly detailed and historically accurate. The attention to detail on each sail is remarkable, and they add an impressive level of realism to any Blood & Plunder game.
For more information on how to buy a set of sails for your own Bermuda Sloop visit the Seamon’s Quality Sails page.
- Blood & Plunder 18th Century Ship Model from Firelock Games
- Blackbeard & Maynard 2-player Starter Box – this contains 2x Bermuda sloops (or Balandras) along with 26 mins, core rulebook, dice and everything you need to start the game.
- 18th Century Sloop Kit from Firelock Games
- Raise the Black Expansion Book that contains the Bermuda Sloop stats and info.
Additional Content Suggestions:
- YouTube “How to Assemble the 18th Century Sloop” Video
- Ultimate Guide to Blood & Plunder Ships
- Leopards of the Seas – Bermuda Sloops in the Golden Age of Piracy
- Sea Force Building Tactics:
Article written by Jason Klotz
All photos used by permission.