It has become a tradition to formulate all sorts of Rankings ideas over at Miniature Trading. I started the original series, which reviewed my opinion on the top 5 or 10 gunships and gold runners for each of the factions. Godmason has continued the series and we have many threads still to go! Here you can find my ideas on the various factions and their best ships. This is a good way to learn about the game, learn about the factions, and discover which ships you might be interested in acquiring to build your fleets and expand your collection.
Top 10 English Gunships
1. HMS Titan
This ship is the first gunship to ever be gifted with amazing guns and the built-in EA roll. Back in the old days before the 2 action limit rule was instituted, players everywhere loaded the Titan up with crew like Myngs and gave their ship enough extra actions to clear the board in one turn. Even today you’ll occasionally see newbies posting fleets claiming to be able to eliminate upwards of 20 masts in one turn using old-school combos. Although the Titan has serious competition now that all the sets are out, she still remains one of the most formidable foes you can face in this game. A large cargo space, average base move, and fair point cost make her the quintessential gunship.
2. HMS Grand Temple
One of the most undercosted ships in the game, the English version of the original GT just missed out on the #1 spot. I felt that the Titan’s 2 extra cargo spaces gave her more flexibility in terms of crew and potential treasure running/stealing, and the EA is worth more than allowing Pirate crew aboard. Although, since Pirate crew can be used on the HMS GT, undercosted crew such as Calico Cat can come aboard and give the GT an EA at a discount.
That being said, the Grand Temple combines above average size with above average speed (for her size, anyway), not to mention her near-perfect guns. I myself have used her extensively, and I can say that she is one of the best gunships in the game, regardless of nationality.
3. HMS Endeavour
Combining theoretically perfect guns with the most potent offensive ability in the game, this beast is probably the most powerful five master ever. Put a world-hater on board and you’ve got a chance to take out up to 10 masts in one turn if you can find enough targets. The only things that hold this ship back from taking the #1 spot are her high point cost (tough to use in the standard 40 point format) and her average speed and cargo space. In addition, many players may be expecting her to be used a lot, so make sure to have a counter for ships with this ability.
4. HMS London
Not only does the London combine great cannons with good speed, she only costs 11 points, less than most other large English gunships. She’s not as flashy as some of her counterparts, but 16 points (with a captain and helmsman) gets you a very nice package. Her ability doesn’t help her too much, but perhaps it’s all for the better since it keeps her point cost low.
5. HMS Gallows
This ship is expensive and a bit slow at 16 points, but having 4 1L cannons before adding any crew is the best a gunship can ever do. Her firepower is simply too good to be ignored. In addition, her large cargo hold allows you to pack on deadly crew and equipment, or potentially use her as a treasure raider and/or hybrid ship.
6. HMS Oxford
Similar to the London but with a higher point cost and slightly less effective guns, the Oxford can fly under the radar by playing second fiddle to ships like the Titan and Endeavour. Her speed sets her apart; no other English gunship as large can boast such a high base move, outside of HMS Swallow. With just a captain aboard she’s ready to go at 15 points. Again, like the Gallows, her extra cargo spaces can be utilized to run gold or try to steal it via boarding. Her ability is just gravy after how good the rest of the ship is.
7. HMS Bolingbroke
This one is a little bit sentimental, but I’ve always thought the Bolingbroke to be one of the most underrated ships in the game. The cheapest ship on this list, the Bolingbroke is very much like a smaller version of the London, combining S+S speed with good cannons. Released in the first set, her speed made her “fast” in those days. Her ability is often cited as a good one to use behind a larger ship, but it’s very flexible in that it can be used at any point in the game.
8. HMS Royal
This might be a surprise to some, however the impact of a world-hater on guns that are already good is understated. Raw firepower wins battles more than flashy ships and expensive crew. The Royal combines great firepower with enough cargo space to add another crew or equipment after the standard captain and helmsman (or Hermione Gold).
Not exactly a ship, I first had doubts about putting this on the list. However, this is by far the cheapest bunch of guns you can buy in England. It would be considered even they didn’t have great ranks (2) and ranges (S+S). Hook this up to a ship like the Oxford and you’ll be almost unstoppable. Always remember that not only can your opponent only cancel your ship’s captain, but the Extended Range keyword can let you snipe away from outside S range, not to mention the fact the the flotilla’s shoot action can’t be cancelled, making her perfect against ships with cancellers. I prefer the Gibraltar over the Tower because of the gun ranks and lower point cost, but Tower isn’t far behind at all.
10. HMS Apollo
This was the hardest choice to make – HMS Victoria would probably be #11. You can see my honorable mentions below, but the last spot will always be a tough one. I went with the Apollo over the Victoria for a number of reasons. The Apollo has a faster base move, and her guns are a mix of S and L, which can be crucial if facing the wrong opponent. However, the Apollo’s reroll gave her the advantage over the Victoria and the other version of HMS Apollo. Faction-haters are too situational, while the reroll can be used over and over for a multitude of things.
Honorable mentions (not in order): HMS Victoria, Tower, HMS Hyena, HMS Victor, Cygnet, HMS Durham, HMS Bretwalda, HMS Nautilus, HMS Swallow, HMS Leicester, HMS Lord Walpole, HMS Wycliffe, HMS Apollo
Top 10 English Treasure Runners
1. Aberdeen Baron
One of the only 5 masters in the game that’s viable as a treasure runner, the Aberdeen Baron has been a staple in my English fleets. The built-in explorer ability makes her fantastic. Some will disagree with her placement here because she’s not dirt-cheap and only has S+S speed. However, for 14 points (with a helmsman) you have an extremely durable runner sailing at S+S+S with room for 4 coins. Having extra masts that can be taken down is invaluable because it allows her to get home without sinking. Only 1 or 2 hits are required to dismast and therefore stop a lot of the best treasure runners in this game. The Baron is a very unique ship that deserves recognition for her greatness.
2. HMS Lady Provost
This one is expensive but worth it. The Provost combines speed (S+L) with a huge cargo hold (6 spaces!). She would be #2 on this list even without the HI-raiding ability, which is perfect for a gold runner like this one. That ability makes her contend for the #1 spot, but I had to choose 5 masts for 12 points rather than 2 masts for 13 points.
This ship only needs an explorer to get started, which ties the Baron at 14 points overall. Add a helmsman for S+L+S speed. Just be careful with the Provost because you don’t want your rather pricy investment to get hit.
3. HMS Hound
Here’s a more typical runner of which England has very few. Simple but effective, the Hound combines adequate speed with adequate cargo space. Plop an explorer on her and she comes in at 8 points. I gave her a slight edge over the next ship because she’s a point cheaper and has a more useful ability. Her ability may not help her directly, but it can help out the rest of your fleet in numerous ways.
4. HMS Alexander
Very similar to the Hound but a point more expensive. Between her guns and ability she’s more capable of putting up a fight, but any fleet (especially an English one) had better not be using her for combat.
5. HMS Cumberland
One of the cheapest ships in the English navy. This ship really needs a helmsman to move quickly enough, but for 7 points L+S movement with 3 spaces available is a great deal. Adding an explorer brings it to 8 points but then you’ll only have room for two treasures. In addition, this little pest has fantastic cannons, which makes her the perfect ship on which to put a captain and a helmsman and become an effective support gunship. In that scenario she would still have two spaces available, perfect for stealing gold from enemy runners. Overall a very versatile ship.
6. HMS Dover
The Dover isn’t always a treasure runner due to her large size and serviceable guns. However, in England’s fleet she fits better as a gold ship because they have so many better fighting options. She can also be used to do both. For 13 points (with a helmsman and explorer), the Dover moves S+S+S with 3 spaces available for gold. She is similar to the Aberdeen Baron when crewed with at least an explorer. Again, durability is an underrated aspect of running gold.
7. HMS Trepassey
It should say “+S” to her base move, but even with L+S+S speed on the way out this ship is one of the fastest the English have. Unfortunately this means she can’t carry an explorer, but 7 points is still a nice price for being able to move L+S+S to an island, take the best three treasures, and sail back at L+S.
8. HMS Gibraltar
This ship completes the trio of English two masters from CC. The Gibraltar isn’t the worst of the three – you could make a case that she’s the best! However, for strictly treasure running she loses a few points for being expensive and having less cargo space than the other two. This is one of the more versatile ships England has. Send her out with an explorer and she’ll be able to grab a few coins at S+S+S speed, or she can raid an enemy HI when they least expect it. It’s also feasible to send her out with a captain and use her effective guns to support your main gunship and/or raid enemy gold runners and use her two spaces to steal gold from them.
9. Honu Iki
This ship has everything going in it’s favour. Good speed, a lot of cargo space, a decent ability, a nice gun, and Super Rare status. This ship isn’t one of the very best, but she gets the job done. I would recommend either a helmsman or explorer, or possibly both depending on your preferences.
10. Sea Tiger/HMS Antelope
I put these two together since they’re so similar. I have both and they’re effective for their point cost. Both have no ability, so it’s up to you if you want to pay the extra point to get the extra speed and slightly more maneuverability.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Edinburgh Trader, HMS Hyena, Bilge, HMS Galway, HMS Hermes, HMS Sea Phoenix, HMS Snipe, St. George, HMS Bath, HMS Half Moon, HMS Starbuck, HMS Discovery, HMS Greyhound, HMS Yardbird, HMS Oxford, HMS Swallow, HMS Cheshire, HMS Prince of Chichester, HMS Rye, HMS Patagonia, HMS King Edward, Metal Dragon, HMS Swiftsure, HMS Durham, Maui’s Fishhook
This was actually harder than ranking the gunships; some of these rankings could easily be changed a bit. In addition, some of the honorable mentions just barely missed the cut.
Top 10 French Gunships
1. Le Soleil Royal
The Soleil Royal is a near-perfect ship. She gets the #1 spot because she gives you great bang for your buck. There are a few flashier ships, but the Soleil Royal combines a great point cost with good guns and a great ability. Her speed is the only thing that leaves something to be desired; however with 5 cargo spaces there is plenty of room to add a helmsman and potentially a sac captain and some oarsman. On top of everything else she’s one of the most beautiful ships in the game, like many of the other French ships.
2. Le Bonaparte
I’d like to put some more five masters above this ship, but there’s no denying her from taking the #2 spot. I know that some would rank her #1. However, I feel that her guns and high point cost (and to a degree her 3 cargo spaces) hold her back a bit. Although her ability makes her incredibly difficult to take out, her firepower is a bit lacking. The Soleil Royal costs 16 points even AFTER you add a captain.
That being said, this might be the “best of the pests”. Ships with this ability are just so annoying. Back before “reverse pinning” was banned this ship was nigh unbeatable. Even today she remains one of the best ships in the game.
3. La Delacroix
Often overlooked because of being from FN, this ship is a beast. Great guns, good speed, and a very nice ability that makes her versatile and maneuverable. Her point cost is high and her cargo hold is small, but this ship just beats out a few of the other five masters on this list.
4. Le Superbe
The other French five master from RV, Le Superbe has everything you want in a gunship. The only thing that holds her back a little bit are the fact that all of her guns are L-range. In addition, I felt that the reverse captain ability of the Delacroix was more valuable than the Superbe’s ability. However, they can both be very useful and it depends on the situation.
5. Le Gaule
Another beautiful five master, Le Gaule is one of the best close-quarters brawlers in the game. She’s expensive but quite powerful. The only thing that holds this ship back are that both her guns and ability only work within S, putting her at a disadvantage when facing ships like the Bonaparte or ships with cancellers.
6. Le Dauphin Royal
Another powerful five master with fantastic guns and a nice point cost. This one’s not as flashy as her sister ships but gets the job done. This ship is the only one of the original three French five masters (from CC) to make the top 10; the other two were considered heavily and are listed as honorable mentions.
Also, I felt it was easier to group all of the five masters together at the top since they have more firepower than the following three masters.
7. La Lyon
There are some who will disagree that this ship is above the next two. However, nothing is better to have in a gunship than all rank-1 guns! I’ve recently acquired this ship and I’m pretty sure the mainmast should be listed as a 2L gun, not 3L. The Lyon is simple but extremely effective.
8. La Belle Etoile
This is a really fantastic ship. This is one of those ships that’s just PACKED. By that I mean that she is just great in every way. Fast, capacious, and well-armed, with a high enough point cost to add essential crew like Barbinais in order to eliminate as much enemy cargo as possible. She can also be used to run treasure or steal it. The only thing that holds her back are her guns, serviceable but not optimal for a ship with such an ability.
9. La Bonne Chance
This thing is the most simple gunship ever created! Put a captain on and you’re good. Her speed and ability are fantastic complements, and having just one cargo space may actually be better since it makes your job as fleet-builder incredibly easy. Great value for 13 total points.
10. Mont Blanc
I’d love to award the last spot to a ship, but I really value flotillas as a great and cheap way to boost your firepower. This isn’t the best flotilla in the game but it is the only French one. Hook it up to the Bonne Chance and you’ll have 7 effective guns (with 4 of them at S+S range) flying around at S+S+S speed for only 22 points! If you don’t use/don’t like flotillas, a lot of the larger ships in the honorable mentions list could easily be swapped for this one.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): La Ville de Paris, La Magnifique, La Charlemange, La Corse, L’Espadon, Le Descharges, L’Heros, Monaque, Morning Star, Neptune, La Possession, L’Ange de la Mer, La Gaule, L’Aube, Le Pluton, L’Hercule, Saber, Conquerant, La Martinique, La Republique, La Provence, Le Mercure, Le Duc d’Enghien, La Versailles, Le Republicain, Le Lache du Calvados, La Felicite, Le Courageux, Le Coeur de Lion, La Vengeance
Top 10 French Treasure Runners
1. Le Bon Marin
This is the most perfect “as-is” treasure runner in the game. Cheap, fast, lots of cargo, built-in explorer. Need I say more?
This ship has the durability of a two master, but because of that negative ability her point cost is about what a two master might be. Her somewhat obscene cargo hold is only augmented by her fast base move. Easily one of the best ships in Savage Shores.
One of the original French ships, this is one of the very best deals in the game. She is just fantastic. Most players either use her as some kind of treasure ship or a place to put their 0LR +5 crew/etc., but it’s even feasible to use her as a gunship. I think of her as the French answer to HMS Cumberland, which is from the same set.
4. Le Pique
This ship has been a staple of French fleets since she came out. Some use her as a sniper gunship (potentially with shot equipment), but since she’s so fragile I think she’s better as a gold runner. If you add an explorer she’ll only have two spaces for gold, but you’re still only spending 6 points and she’s got S+S+S speed. Another great value for your points.
I personally like this ship better than Le Pique, but I felt that one extra cargo space isn’t worth paying 3 extra points. The Artesien does have a more treasure-oriented ability, but it’s not particularly good. She’d be better off with no ability or an ability that lets her randomly take one treasure from any ship she touches. Either way, still a great ship!
6. Le Triton
This is the most durable ship on the list so far, which makes a sizable difference in my book. The Triton is very simple – just crew her with some combination of helmsman/explorer and she’ll be set to go. Her guns are serviceable, making her a good hybrid ship.
7. La Vengeance
The Vengeance could be considered a larger and more expensive version of the Triton. Her extra firepower (and bonus against English ships) makes her even more viable for use as a hybrid, but with only an explorer she makes for a good gold runner as well. Even without a captain this ship should be able to easily settle most disputes over gold by ramming and boarding smaller enemy runners and taking their gold and potentially dismasting them.
8. La Dijon
This is your quintessential bread-and-butter treasure runner. (That sentence sounds strange lol) The Dijon has it all – nice cargo, good speed and even an ability that’s perfect for a gold runner.
9. Le Favori
This one is similar to the HMS Lady Provost, trading the HI-raider ability for a defensive one and losing a cargo space. Her ability is what sets her apart (and makes her expensive), giving her an advantage over other small ships, although she’s still vulnerable to ramming. The Favori has performed admirably in my games and is a little bit underrated because the top 5 ships on this list steal thunder from other ships.
10. Le Courageux
I’ve had two copies of this ship for a long time and never could understand all the hype. However, she is quite good. She is a uniquely gifted hybrid ship, with enough cargo to run gold and fight and an ability that suits both, especially given her small size. This ship just beat out the Amazone and Belle Poule.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): L’Amazone, La Belle Poule, St. Joan, La Fureur, Le Coeur de Lion, Jeux, Lezard, East Wind, Sea Phoenix, L’Afrique, Le Mercure, L’Eroica, Le Rochefort, Marianne, Le Descharges, Le Petit Dauphin, La Belle Etoile, Le Lyon, L’Argus, L’Heros, La Geographe
Top 10 Spanish Gunships
My revised list:
I’m still massively in favor of getting the best cannon ranks possible, but I realize that my original list here might be a bit wrong. That said, I have not been playing as much this year. Honestly, some typical performances by similar or the same ships (typical luck for me meaning going 0/5 with rank-3 cannons and 4/4 with rank-1 cannons, for example) in the near future could upend this list again and make me change it back. XD It is still open to revision, but for now I have some changes:
1. San Cristobal / San Cristobal
2. El Acorazado
3. Santa Ana
4. La Resolucion
5. Asesino de la Nave
6. La Tartessos
7. El Algeciras
8. El Monte Cristo
9. El Cristal del Obispo
10. Armada / Diablo
Very close to being in the top 10: Santo Columba, El Leon, La Sirviente, El Alma
Other honorable mentions (in no particular order): Virtuous Wind, La Cordoba, La Reconquistador, El Paso, El Toro, Granada, El Montenez, El Neptuno, El San Francisco, El San Salvador, La Catedral del Mar, Santos Romanos, El Rosal, La Ebro, El Extremadura, El Villalobos, La Cazadora, El Algeciras, El Príncipe de Asturias, La Habana, Santa Lucia, El Corazon del Mar, El Duque, El Garante, El Tirador, L’Aguila, La Resolucion, Valeroso
Top 10 Spanish Treasure Runners
1. La Monarca
This is one of the most classic gold runners in the game, combining great speed and cargo space with a gold runner friendly ability. Her point cost is relatively fair, making her fantastic but not outright broken.
2. La Santa Isabel
The Santa Isabel is one of Spain’s best all-around ships. Her speed, cargo space and extremely valuable +2 ability make her better suited to treasure running. Her guns are serviceable, however, so put a captain and explorer on her and she’ll be a perfect hybrid ship.
3. La Joya del Sol
With the biggest non-10 master cargo hold in the game, the Joya del Sol has appeared in countless fleets since the very beginning of the game. Her speed and guns leave a bit to be desired, but 8 cargo spaces is ridiculous. With as many as 6 spaces available for gold even after adding a helmsman and explorer, the Joya can easily hit at least two wild islands per trip. In addition, her size and boarding ability make her ideal for fending off attacks, not to mention attacking enemy treasure runners and stealing their gold.
4. El Alquimista/San Pedro
These ships are almost exactly the same. The junior version of the Santa Isabel, both of these ships are ideal for grabbing gold. With an explorer they’ll have 3 spaces left over, and even with a captain (since they’re medium size and have decent guns) they’ll have 2. Great ships in every way.
5. El San Jose
Rounding out the three super-ships from RV, this Spaniard is your typical gold runner. Her trading treasure ability helps her avoid negative UT’s and makes her even more perfect for the role of gathering gold.
6. Native Canoes
These could be ranked higher although I feel that their fragility and relatively low speed hold them back a little bit. They are a great addition to any Spanish fleet and the +1 ability (up to +5) makes them one of Spain’s best options for treasure.
7. Morning Star
I wasn’t going to include this ship at first, but her durability and very low point cost (cheapest 5 master in the game) give her the advantage. With a helmsman and explorer she’ll cost 12 points and be moving S+S+S with room for 4 coins, comparable to the Aberdeen Baron.
This is one of those rare Hoist ships. All of them are quite interesting, to say the least. This is the cheapest one, but she still has 7 cargo spaces! Even with 6 after adding a helmsman, this ship is a wonderful option for the Spanish to have. Her second ability isn’t likely to be used much, but it could help her in a pinch.
9. La Santa Ana
This ship would be famous if not for the Joya del Sol. Alas, nobody really ever uses her. This is one of the best large treasure runners out there.
10. El San Francisco
This was a tough fight for the last spot (see my other picks below). In the end I went with the middle option. The San Francisco is a great overall ship whether you put a captain, helmsman, explorer, or any combination of the three on board. One of my favorite Spanish ships.
Very close to being in the top 10: Virtuous Wind, La Rosario
Other honorable mentions (in no particular order): Francesca, Santa Lucia, La Espada de Dios, El Cervantes, El Martillo de Dios, El Raton, El Hambre, La Manila, La Saragoza, San Theodora, El Afortunado, El Algeciras, San Leandro, Cazador del Pirata, L’Aguila, Pescados de Plata, Concepcion, Magdalena, San Cristobal, San Cristobal, Intermediaro, Valeroso
Top 10 Pirate Gunships
Sometimes I forget about the Zeus since I don’t own her yet, with my biggest Pirate ships being the five masters. She is something to behold, and although I don’t generally think ten masters are worth paying for, the Zeus is the cheapest of the bunch. Her guns leave something to be desired – I would highly suggest using Bruce Grey since the more cannons a ship has, the more value you get out of improving each and every one of them. With Bruce Grey and the standard captain and helmsman, this ship will be dominant. She is viable in 40 point games, and her ability and huge size makes her perfect for stealing lots of gold from your opponent’s poor treasure runners.
After the Zeus, things get a lot harder in a hurry. The next 6 or so spots could easily be changed around.
2. Black Pearl
For some reason I always underrate this ship, so I was surprised to rank it this high. This is the best version of the Black Pearl. Her ability is key, allowing her to move L+S+S with a captain and helmsman with 2L, 1L, 1L, 2L guns. This is a great package.
This is the original Pirate flagship! The Revenant is and will always be a classic. I find her ability to be a bit more practical than the Harbinger’s. This is one of the only Pirate ships with 4 or more masts to have unmodified rank-2 guns.
These two are the same ship thematically and similar in gameplay, so I’m combining them to make room for another ship in the top 10. The derelict ability is powerful, but the problem is twofold in a game, especially a smaller game. The Harbinger will be transported away from where the action was, so depending on the situation, you may not want to use the ability. In addition, the odds of repairing the captured ship and actually using it effectively against your opponent in the same game are relatively small, especially in smaller/faster games. The Harbinger will have to dismast an enemy ship and capture her very early on in the game. That being said, you can’t go wrong with either of these gunships.
5. La Victoire
This ship loses out to the above ships because her cannons are a bit less accurate. However, the Victoire is one of my favorite new ships and one of the most unique ships in the game. You can use French crew on the Victoire, and she’s got 6 cargo spaces! This makes her ideal for leaving some spaces open to run gold and/or steal it. Her point cost is great and probably even a little too low, making this ship a great option. She looks black in the picture but is actually a very dark purple, making her even more unique!
6. Black Pearl (damaged)
Here’s another version of the Black Pearl, trading speed and point cost for a nice ability and S-range guns. Her ability makes her ideal for packing crew aboard, and this is a gunship to be reckoned with.
7. Darkhawk II
This ship is legendary. She has more cargo spaces than most ten masters and almost as many cargo spaces as points! On top of everything else, she makes for a great gunship. If you want to go overboard you can use tailor-made Jonah to turn this ship into a monster. Easily one of the best ships in the game. I remember CC Mike saying that he thought this was the best ship in Pirates. In addition, possibly the best overall hybrid ship.
I have a soft spot for the original Deliverance (listed below as an honorable mention), but this is the better ship. The Deliverance is the fastest Pirate five master, making her intriguing right off the bat. She would be ranked higher on this list if she wasn’t lackluster in other areas. If you’re looking for a very large gunship that’s also very fast, this is the best the Pirates have got.
This is one of the best 3 masted gunships in the game, with great speed, solid cannons, and a nice ability, all for just 9 points! If you haven’t used the Windjammer I would highly recommend doing so. For more details check out my review of her.
This was a tossup. Any of the ships in the “almost” list can be subbed in for the Recreant, but I felt that she deserves more recognition than she’s gotten so far. The Pirates have a plethora of awesome 3 masted gunships (see below for more), and the Recreant is one of the best. For 14 points she’ll move L+S with the move-and-shoot and built-in crew-killing.
Very close to being in the top 10 (in no particular order): Empress/Empress, Morning Star, Eagle, Selkie, Diamond Strike, Black Swan, Golden Medusa, Accused, Doombox, Ophidious
Other honorable mentions (in no particular order): Black Pearl, Flying Dutchman/Flying Dutchman, Kray-kin, The Kraken, Revenge, Freedom’s Hand, Minerva, Splinter, Widowmaker, Angelica, Deliverance, Raninoidea, La Morte de Yarborough, Raven, Royal James, Treasure, White Rose, Devil’s Pay, El Tejon, Xiamen’s Claws, Cutlass, Executioner, Panda, Pride, Red Curse, Greed’s Hammer, Sister’s Rage, Carrion Crow, El Ballista, El Ladron, Longshanks, Raven’s Neck, Sea Nymph, Fool’s Hope/Fool’s Hope, Lady’s Scorn, Akua Lapu, Bruja
Top 10 Pirate Gold Runners
1. Banshee’s Cry
Widely considered to be the best ship in the game. Also the most undercosted ship in the game. Only 4 points (with an explorer) gives you L+L movement with room for three coins. Have you heard enough about this ship yet?
2. Darkhawk II
Depending on your preferences for large vs. small treasure runners, this ship could be moved down to #6 since the following four ships are all quite similar. However, the Darkhawk deserves recognition as one of the best ships in the game and quite possibly the best ship overall, because unlike the Cry she can put up a good fight. Even after you add a captain, helsmman, and explorer you’ll have 5 cargo spaces available.
The following four ships are all quite similar and therefore can be interchanged. I ranked them as follows based on their total point cost. All four are incredibly popular and make the Pirates the best faction in the game.
3. Bloody Jewel
9 points (with helmsman + explorer): S+L+S speed with 3 spaces.
4. Bonnie Liz
11 points (with helmsman + explorer): S+L+S speed with 3 spaces.
5. Star of Siam
9 points (with explorer): S+S+S speed with 3 spaces.
11 points (with explorer): S+S+S speed with 3 spaces.
7. Neptune’s Hoard
This is the flagship of the old Norvegia setup with crew like Don Pedro Gilbert. Even after the ruling on gold was changed the Hoard remains one of the best ships ever. She’s even got serviceable guns to use if you wanted to make her a hybrid ship.
8. Hai Peng
This is the fastest ship in the game when you add a captain and helmsman (S+L+L+S). If you add a crew like Captain Jack Sparrow you can save a cargo space (you can also use Hammersmith to combine abilities). Using Captain Jack also opens up possibilities for crazy fleets like this one. This is one of the most interesting ships in the game.
This is one of my oldest ships and one of the best one masters. It would be nice if she had one more cargo space, but even with an explorer she has two spaces available for gold, which isn’t bad when you consider that the other coin or two on the island is probably a 1 or 2 since you’ll take the highest value coins. She is vulnerable to ramming, but her ability makes her tougher than most one masters, not to mention the fact that her 2L cannon could come in handy. A very good ship overall.
For the last spot I chose one of the only three masters in the game with S+S+S speed. She’s a bit pricier than most of the other ships on the list, but her speed and ability make her very evasive and difficult to stop.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Barnacle, Dragon, Grand Barnacle, Jolly Mon, Paradox, Song, Swift, Foresight, Mystic, Sea Crane, Adventure, Cassandra, Eagle, La Victoire, Mermaid, Rover, White Rose, Shamrock, Cursed Blade, Hades’ Flame, Lightning, Bandido, Black Heart, Gale Force Nine, Longshanks, Pandora, Raven’s Neck, Shadow, Akua Lapu, Cannibal King
Top 10 American Gunships
After putting the HMS Titan #1 on my list of English gunships, it should come as no surprise to see the Enterprise atop this list. The Enterprise was actually the second five master I ever got, so naturally she’s seen a ton of usage. In fact, her masts have been taken out and replaced so many times that they’re looser than most other ships.
I’ve said this already, but there’s nothing like having a world-hater on a ship with great cannons. The Blackwatch has firepower that is almost unrivalled by any other ship.
3. USS Kettering
This ship is one of the coolest ships in the entire game. She already has good speed, so you don’t need a helmsman like you do with most other gunships. The Longship keyword doubles her firepower to six shots per turn. The built-in canceller is what puts this ship over the top – just about the best and most flexible ability in the game.
4. Ghost Walker
See the Kettering above. The Ghost Walker doesn’t have quite the firepower, but the Ghost Walker is still a ship to be very concerned about.
This is another legendary ship that has sent countless vessels to the bottom of the sea. Equip her with a captain and helmsman and you’ll have 4 1S guns sailing at S+S+S speed.
Since the two versions of this ship are so different I’ve ranked them separately. This one isn’t as playable as the OE version, but as with El Acorazado there is not really another gunship in this game that can beat a ship like the Constitution in one-on-one action.
7. USS Thomas Jefferson
This five master is an absolute beast with all 2S guns and five cargo spaces to fill up. The S-boarding ability makes her even more deadly. I also find her to be one of the coolest looking five masters.
8. USS Mercury
This is the best 3 masted submarine in the game. The Mercury combines the best guns money can buy with a nice defensive ability. If this wasn’t a submarine it wouldn’t be on the list, but subs are notoriously difficult to stop and this one is exceptionally good where others are not.
9. USS Constitution/Bonhomme Richard
Since these are so similar and I did separate rankings for the Constitution, these two are ranked together. The Richard gives you slightly better speed but slightly worse firepower. If you know what faction you’ll be facing it will make your decision easier.
10. USS Stephens
The Stephens is the only ship in the game with both the captain and reverse captain abilities. This makes her the only ship that’s viable to use as a gunship with no crew whatsoever. She is slow and expensive, however, so to maximize your investment I would suggest a helmsman and a world-hater. Her rather average guns keep her from moving higher on this list.
Very close to being in the top 10 (in no particular order): Intrepid, Mohican, USS Albany, USS Eagan, Independence
Other honorable mentions (in no particular order): USS Concordia, USS Morning Star, Sea Serpent, USS Denver, USS Seattle, Concord, Horizon, President, Providence, Hessian, Paul Revere, USS Atlanta, USS Maryland, USS Sioux, USS Quigley, Chesapeake, Jarvis, Julius Caesar, Louisiana, Peacock, Saratoga, USS Emerald, USS Hudson, USS Montezuma, USS Overton, Minuteman
Top 10 American Gold Runners
I have used the Frontier on many occasions, and she is just fantastic. Decent speed, HUGE cargo, Hoist ability. She is expensive, but in this case the high point cost is justified.
2. Native Canoes
Native Canoes are generally some of the best treasure runners available to any faction, but for the Americans they are a life saver.
These canoes are unique because they’re faster than the Spanish and Cursed canoes. They also have that treasure ability, which lets you create fun fleets like this one.
This ship could be ranked a bit lower, but her size and gun ranks give her a nice bite. With an explorer she’ll have room for 4 coins at 13 points.
4. USS James Madison
This is a fantastic ship that I’ve finally acquired. Very underrated ship, with an explorer you’ll have 3 cargo spaces left over for gold that you can spot with her nice ability. Again, 3 masts is a nice bonus for a very fairly-priced gold runner.
Each of the next three are pretty equal in my opinion, I just ranked them this way based on their durability.
This one is a nice option to have at just 7 points. With a helmsman or explorer she’ll make for a decent treasure runner.
The Rattlesnake is slow but very cheap. With a helmsman and explorer she’ll be going L+S with room for 3 coins for 8 points total, a great deal for a faction like the Americans.
7. USS Annapolis
This one just needs a helmsman and she’ll be ready to go. Her built-in explorer saves a valuable cargo space, but one mast is always a gamble in terms of fragility.
This one is similar to the James Madison but she’s pretty expensive to use only as a treasure runner. If not for Savage Shores the Americans would really be lacking for gold runners.
This is another ship that runs out at S+S+S, grabs 3 coins, and comes back at S+S.
This is one of those ships that you don’t know which crew to put on her. A simple setup with a captain, helmsman, and explorer would work great. Either way you’re going to end up spending a lot of points on the Roanoke. Her access to Pirate crew makes things even more interesting because they have so many great named crew and the Americans have a relative lack of great named crew. Her cargo hold is big enough that you could even use the old Norvegia setup with Gilbert! Depending on how you crew her, the Roanoke could potentially move up a few spots on this list.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Pawtucket, USS Morning Star, Hessian, Louisiana, Harlequin, Speedy Return, Argo
Top 10 Cursed Gunships
This ship is so much better than almost every other Cursed ship it’s not even funny. Fast, great guns, nice point cost, not to mention some relatively useful abilities. This ship gets the job done and can even be used as a hybrid ship since the Cursed have so few good options for getting gold.
This is another rare Cursed ship with S+L speed. As long as your captain isn’t cancelled her guns improve to rank 2’s. It would’ve been nice if Fear was left out to lower the cost a few points, but this is still one of the best Cursed ships either way.
3. Grim Reaper
This ship is very underrated and effective. Essentially a poor man’s version of the Grinder, the Grim Reaper can still do serious damage for a low point cost. In addition her boarding bonus makes her more relevant against larger ships she’ll go up against.
After those three ships, things get more difficult because the ships have either worse cannon ranks and/or much slower speeds. Therefore it became harder to rank the ships for the rest of the top 10.
4. Divine Dragon
The Divine Dragon is a classic, the only Cursed 6 masted junk and the only non-Jade 6 master outside of the HMS Grand Temple. She has been very involved in a lot of big and fun games, most notably the first 500 point game I played. Her guns really need the extra boost to become effective, and although they still aren’t spectacular, it helps that there are so many of them, not to mention the Junk keyword. Her speed sets her apart from some of the following ships.
5. Loki’s Revenge
This ship is crazy! I must admit some bias here because as of now the Loki’s Revenge is one of my favourite ships. A captain and helmsman brings the total point cost to 20, and an additional 3 oarsmen for the sac ability brings it to 23. However, you’re guaranteed to move S+S+S+S and rip off a full dozen shots at 2L! Now you can see why I wanted this ship so badly. I also must say that she is one of the coolest-looking ships in the game. Finally, if I had to pick a favourite flavour text for a game piece, I think it would be this ship.
The Loki’s Revenge spews fire like some kind of deranged god, an ability that science has yet to explain.
6. Flying Dutchman
This is essentially a 22 point ship once you add the necessary captain and helmsman. That’s a high price to pay for a ship that’s still moving pretty slow with a relatively bad ability. The Dutchman is habitually overrated by newer players and I must say somewhat underrated by more veteran players (I have to admit that I almost left her off the list entirely!). At the end of the day you’re still getting a large dangerous ship with very effective guns. If you think about the total point cost, gun ranks and speed she’s actually quite similar to the Loki’s Revenge. However, the sac ability is so much better than BA that it overrides the Loki’s weakness of only having three masts.
7. Baba Yaga
Another less flashy Cursed longship, the Baba Yaga is effectively able to shoot 2S guns six times per turn. Once again you’ll be paying a lot for it because this will run you at least 20 points. The Baba Yaga is just one of those gunships that’s simple but effective.
I found it hard to determine where to rank the next three “ships” because they’re unique in all sorts of ways and it’s easier to rank the ships one after another.
The only “ship” in the game with the copy ability. Behemoth is just that, a true behemoth on the high seas. Copying a captain is the obvious choice, but all kinds of fun combos could be available, especially in a large or multiplayer game. Definitely one of the best sea monsters.
Calim is one of the fastest monsters in the game. When combined with her ability and the fact that the enemy ship will be pinned after the ram, Calim can become quite a nuisance to your opponents. Her gun ranks are worse than Behemoth’s and it’s much harder to give her the ability to move and shoot, but Calim is a large threat (literally) in any game.
10. Death’s Anchor
This should probably be ranked higher, however I wanted the spotlight on the actual ships as much as possible. This flotilla has better gun ranks than the other one (listed below) and is a very effective firepower boost to any Cursed fleet. Fast ships like the Grinder and Executioner are especially useful for towing the Death’s Anchor, but I’ve also employed the Fallen Angel (listed below).
Very close to being in the top 10: Brachyura, Guichuan, Hellfire, Last Hope, Monkey’s Paw
Other honorable mentions (in no particular order): Mourning Star, Raptor Maw, Silver Coffin, Skin Flayer, Guinee, Juggernaut, Lechim Namod, Maxehebel, Sea Duck, Calypsos, Fallen Angel, Whydah, Mist Walker, Urd, Crushed Skull, Sea Monkey, Nightmare, Delusion
Top 5 Cursed Gold Runners
I really need this ship lol. Put an explorer on her and you’re moving S+L with room for 3 coins. With a price of only 13 points that’s about as good as you’re going to get with the Cursed. In addition her abilities and fantastic cannon ranks can really help her fight back and/or escape an attack.
2. Sea Monkey
The Sea Monkey is another Cursed ship with S+L speed and four cargo spaces. The same rules apply here; now you’ve got one less point to spend on other stuff but you get the reverse captain ability.
3. Sea Duck
With or without an explorer this is one of the most effective Cursed gold runners that’s cheap and not abysmally slow. Ideally you’ll be able to shoot at danger before it gets to you with her ability, but we all know that the best laid plans get ruined, especially in Pirates.
4. Sea Rat
The Sea Rat is always underrated. It’s probably because she is a two masted junk, one of the hardest ships to build. She’s from the most common set (OE), so some players no doubt have many Sea Rats. In addition, Sea Rat is not an especially flattering name for a ship. However, this ship is a nice treasure runner once you add a helmsman and explorer. L+S, room for 3 coins, 13 points. The added bonus of being able to steal treasure from an enemy HI makes her an ideal gold runner (for the Cursed).
Ugh. I didn’t really want to rank these but the other options are so bad that I had to throw them in at the end of this list. The Guichuan would get the nod for the Treasure Ship keyword and being slightly cheaper, but since you are required to use the Headhunter she comes in at 36 points. The Delusion gives you better speed and more abilities that may or may not (probably not) be useful, while sacrificing cargo space once you add crew. The Guichuan is better at being a gunship and a pure treasure runner while the Delusion is better at finding gold, stealing it, and generally just taking up a lot of useless space.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Cyclone, Maman Brigitte, Fallen Angel, Hangman’s Joke, Loa’s Justice, Grim Reaper, Celestine, Native Canoes, Dark Pact
If Return to Savage Shores had actually been produced and released, the Cursed would have gotten a ship named “Sskwa’aluk” . That ship would have been #1 on this list.
Top 5 Barbary Corsair Gunships
1. Janissaries’ Blood
This ship combines good speed with a nice ability. Most importantly, however, all four of her cannons are serviceable, while the other 4 masted galleys have poorer ranks and get worse as you go from bow to stern.
This ship is cheap compared to some of the other and more flashy BC 2 masters. Her speed and cannons don’t necessarily need augmentation. Perhaps best of all, access to Pirate crew lets you pick from an impressive selection of great named crew, something the Corsairs really could use more of. On an 8 point ship with 2 cargo, you won’t be able to do much, but it still helps.
3. Tiger’s Eye
I wanted to rank this ship lower but I couldn’t. Her speed and ability make her the perfect treasure runner, but also a good candidate to be a fighter. Her cannons don’t recede with the ship. This is the most popular BC ship.
Another nice ship with great overall stats. This is a nice midsize option to have, especially if you’re going to play against the French. She’s one of the best BC options for a gunship, but with a captain and explorer she’ll still have two spaces available for gold.
5. Nubian Prince
#001 in the Barbary Coast set, this is the first Barbary Corsair ship and therefore sort of their unofficial flagship. Her stats leave something to be desired, but her ability and size make up for it somewhat. She could really use some kind of boost to make her a true gunship. Bonus points for having a cool name and being aesthetically pleasing (not unlike a lot of BC ships of course!).
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Ivory Star, Jackal’s Teeth, Wicked Kareen, Divan’s Punishment, Silent Death, Bey’s Revenge, Desert Wind, Queen of Sheba, Sahara
Top 5 Barbary Corsair Gold Runners
1. Tiger’s Eye
This was #3 on the gunship list and here it is once again. Once you get over the effectiveness of this ship I’d encourage you to move on and use different ships.
This was one of only two Corsair ships I had (along with the Griffin) for a long time and is therefore a natural favourite of mine. Nice speed, good cargo, solid durability, and a cool (I’m running out of adjectives lol) ability that can help her out. In terms of a Corsair ship she’s sort of on the large side of the scale and her cannons may even hit something if you need them, something that can’t be said for a lot of other Corsair ships!
A very cheap option that doesn’t lose you any speed or cargo spaces. Her ability is the key to her low cost. There are a bunch of other BC ships with the same point cost or speed but none that can match the Griffin’s overall combination of cost, speed, and cargo.
With 5 cargo spaces and terrible cannons, the Morocco jumps out as a gold runner. Even after adding a helmsman she’ll have 4 spaces left. Her ability makes her a near-perfect gold runner.
5. Crescent Moon
This last spot was a wild card for me and I wanted to include a 4 master. The Crescent Moon has the best combination of speed and cargo so she gets the nod for the final spot.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Winds of Vengeance, Splendor, Marrakesh, Golden Peacock, Desert Wind, Agha’s Whip, Queen of Sheba, Sahara, Dervish, Whisper, Carthage, Tunis
(I love the Queen of Sheba and I wanted to include her in one of the lists. I felt that her ability inhibits her use as a gunship because she only has 2 masts in the first place and she can’t afford to lose any without the enemy firing a shot. The Morocco is a similar ship but more of a typical treasure runner. However, the Queen of Sheba’s ability becomes irrelevant when using her as a treasure runner, so it comes down to how the player values the Morocco’s ability for the extra 2 points.)
Top 5 Jade Rebellion Gunships
1. Grand Temple
This ship is expensive but worth every point. Her ability only makes her that much better and more flexible.
2. Grand Path
This ship is a monster. One of the best boarding ships in the game, her cannons are almost perfect. With a helmsman she’s essentially a 19 point ship, comparable to the Grand Temple. The Temple combines better speed and maneuverability with the reverse captain ability while the Grand Path is a better boarder and slightly more accurate, though only at short range. Take your pick – you can’t go wrong!
3. Virtuous Wind
This is the only Jade ship bigger than 2 masts with all 2L guns, technically the best cannons money can buy. She’s simply one of the best ships in the game and without too much argument the best overall ship in the Jade Rebellion. This is sort of the Jade version of the Tiger’s Eye, with a captain and explorer the perfect crew complement.
Some may have expected to see this ship higher on the list (or not at all, who knows?). Her huge cost, rather average cannons and Treasure Ship keyword hold her back. This ship isn’t a great ship to use exclusively as a gunship, but rather as a hybrid. She definitely needs a captain and helmsman, which essentially brings her cost to 41 points with the necessary Admiral Zheng He.
5. Grand Mountain
There are a number of smaller JR ships with accurate cannons, but the Grand Mountain has six guns for just 14 points. Her speed is lacking to say the least, but with a helmsman and hopefully some kind of extra action crew she should be able to get some shots in. In addition, your opponent may forget about her lone 2L cannon and/or her bonus against English ships.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Grand Dynasty, Sea Serpent, Sea Phoenix, Sea Duck, Black Lotus, East Wind
Top 5 Jade Rebellion Gold Runners
1. Virtuous Wind
This ship is a bit expensive for what you’d like to pay for a gold runner, but this ship is LOADED. Every stat is about as good as you can hope for. Unlike many of your opponent’s gold runners, the Virtuous Wind is durable and very capable of putting up a fight. The HI-raiding ability is just gravy. For 17-19 points you can have a 3 masted ship moving S+L+S with room for three coins.
2. Tiger’s Breath
A Super Rare from the Barbary Coast, this ship screams gold runner. After adding a helmsman you’ll move S+S+S with room for 3 coins for 11 points. With a tad less speed but the same amount of cargo left over for less points, this ship just barely lost out to the Virtuous Wind and her extra durability, fantastic cannons, and HI-raider ability (great to have on a ship that’s already fast).
3. Sea Crane
This ship could use an extra cargo space or two but even with an explorer or helmsman she’ll have room for 2 coins, which is usually enough of an island to make a nice profit. Add the +1 and you’ve got a nice gold runner. As with many of the other JR gold ships (Virtuous Wind, Baochuan, East Wind, etc.), the Sea Crane is able to defend herself if need be.
Although the Treasure Ship keyword and 10 cargo spaces is epic, the Baochuan moves just L and takes up almost your entire build total in a standard game. Theoretically you NEED Li Quin just to fit Zheng He, a captain, a helmsman, and an explorer on board, leaving just 3 points left over. As with the other 10 masters the Baochuan is better used in large games where she can exploit her size and Zheng He’s ability more often. That being said this is one of the most epic ships in the game and the original 10 master.
5. Sea Tiger
This is the cheapest 2 masted JR ship. I’ve used the English version of her many times with considerable success. Leave her uncrewed and she won’t take up much of your build total, but you might be surprised what she can do for you. Speed is huge in Pirates and it can make up for her lack of explorer. The Sea Tiger is just a good option to have and one of the only viable “swarm” ship the Jades ever sailed.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Grand Wind, East Wind, Sea Wind
Top 5 Viking Gunships
The Vikings only have 23 ships, most of which are slow and expensive. They are much better at fighting than getting gold, in part because of the Longship keyword. However, they don’t have anything bigger than 3 masts, and it just so happens that their 3 masted ships are also the ones with the best combat abilities and cannon ranks. Therefore, as long as you pick a 3 masted Viking longship as your Viking gunship, you’ll do alright. In addition, all of their common 3 masted longships are relatively similar and therefore this list doesn’t really mean a whole lot – reverse the order and it could be another player’s opinion.
With somewhat above-average speed for a Viking ship and with a very helpful ability, the Muninn is one of the best ships in their fleet. L-range guns are a help since the longships don’t have the best firing arcs and you have to shoot over the relatively bulky oars and width of the ship in the first place.
This one is nice because she’s cheaper than the others that cost the same even after adding a captain to the Huginn. Her guns are all different and her ability is very nice to have.
I wanted to rank this ship #1 because of her perfect cannons, but the overall package is just slightly less than what you get with the above two ships. That being said the Naegling can be the most destructive longship in the game, especially if you manage to use her ability (possibly by teaming her up with one or more of these 5 ships).
The Hrunting is in between the other 3 masters in numerous ways, which actually conspires to hurt her position on this list. She’s expensive but not as much as the Naegling, but her ability isn’t worth anything for a gunship, especially since you’ll only have one cargo space available after adding a captain and helmsman. Her guns are accurate but only at short range, meaning you’ll have to get extremely close alongside an opposing ship to have all three in range at once.
The Kalmar is an LE with just S speed, but she compensates with fantastic cannons and 5 cargo spaces, enough to add the necessary crew and still have room to use her ability.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Asgard, Hrothgar, Grendel, Wodin, Yggdrasil
Top 5 Viking Gold Runners
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Kalmar, Elsinore, Hlidskjalf, Wodin, Freya, Fenrir
Top 5 Mercenary Gunships
1. Shui Xian
This huge ship is one of the cheaper ten masters along with the next ship. The Shui Xian gets the nod because of her rank-2 cannons, of which the Celtic Fury has none.
2. Celtic Fury
I consider this to be the most boring ten master; just my opinion.
Where would the Mercs and Captain Nemo be without their “flagship”?
This ship is a bit pricy but with solid speed and essentially 4 2S guns, you can’t do much better with the Mercs for pure firepower.
5. Santa Molina
This ship is cheaper than most Merc ships (even those with less masts) and comes with a serviceable set of guns and a very good ability. The “almost” ships are just about as good, however.
Almost in the top 5: Tasmanian Devil, Hephaestus, Meropis, Shaihulud
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Terror, Bosun’s Bane, Bashaw Folly, Cadara, Divine Dragon
Top 5 Mercenary Gold Runners
1. Celtic Fury
With the Dories keyword the two ten masters have to take the top spots on this list as they did last week because you need at least one canceller just to make a Merc treasure runner viable.
2. Shui Xian
I switched the order on these two – I have some vague notion that the French have more gold-running type crew than the English.
3. Devil Ray
This ship could use another cargo space or two, but her speed is quite good for a Merc ship when underwater, which is where you’ll want her most of the time.
This is the only “normal” gold runner the Mercs have. Add an explorer and you’ll have 3 open spaces moving S+L for 13 points, comparable to other factions.
This is another rare Merc ship with S+L speed, although she’s not as well-known as the Matuku because of her rarity.
Honorable mentions (in no particular order): Bosun’s Bane, Duncan, Slipstream