"On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures."
— William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (Act iv, Scene iii)
Light galley, sturdier and stronger than the Dromond, ideal for escort duty and/or raiding.
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A Barque is a type of light galley, sturdier and stronger than the Dromond. As expected, it is meant to serve in the Castle Age as an escort and raiding ship, capable of tearing apart the more lightly-armed fire vessels and transport barques used by land units to traverse water. Barques are a highly versatile ship, due to their cost and speed, making them highly useful on the high seas, but are easily sunk by heavier Roundships and Cogs. Nevertheless, a player should pay attention the the fact that it does not cost as much as a heavy ship, and is far faster than such.
Perhaps, the best use of a Barque would be to escort heavy ships. Because heavy ships are highly vulnerable to fire attacks, you can use Barques to either intercept the offending units, or to at least blunt their effects on your fleet by literally taking the fire, as opposed to letting them reach your more valuable heavy units.
- Taking Enemy Fire — The increased accuracy of a Barque's missiles and speed make them good for raiding and defending against fireships. On the other hand, their low cost makes them ideal as decoys.
- The First Wave — Due to low cost and high speed, Barques can be massed fairly quickly and used to counter a Fire Vessel rush.
- A Warm Welcome — As Barques are weak against heavy ships, complement your fleet with fireships to keep enemy Longships and Roundships at bay.
- Planned Obsolescence — Upgrade your Barques to War Galleys once resources are available.
Despite the appearance of more sophisticated watercraft, such as the Portuguese caravela, galleys continued to be used by various Western states well into the early Industrial Era. Galleys were easy to build, and cheap to outfit, and, in the Mediaeval Old World, were thus suitable for naval warfare which generally involved littoral action. At the same time, the flexibility of a galley meant that the ship was also popular with pirate crews who terrorised the Mediterranean, because its shallow draught allowed it to be hidden along the small islets that dotted the Mediterranean, and its agility also allowed it to take on larger but clumsier merchant vessels. Even long after tall ships became more agile and more destructive in power, galleys continued to be used in conflicts throughout Asia, Europe and even the Americas until the height of the Industrial Age, when steam power made oar propulsion all but obsolete save for the smallest of vessels.