Fire Barque

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"A mighty flame succeeds a tiny spark."

—Dante Alighieri, Paradiso (Bk I)

In game

Fire Barque — Vital statistics
Fire Barque

Very powerful one-use anti-ship weapon, has a powerful single-shot attack, but very weak armour and hitpoints.

Prereq: Build time HP LOS Attack Attack speed Movement
Upgrades to
Level 1: Caravan Train Commerce
140 8 80 None 40
Fire Vessel
Cost Created from Armour Weapon range Specialty
Base Ramp Pop
Wealth.jpg: 40;
Timber: 20
Wealth.jpg: 1 1 Estaleiro.png 1 0–1

Attack bonus versus heavy ships.

Overall strategy

It is said that ships, being made of wood, are most adverse to fire. With this naval vessel, the wooden hulks of your foes will have nowhere to run: the fire barque has a powerful anti-ship attack, and in sufficient numbers can easily destroy any enemy vessel that dares to under-estimate its small size but terrible effectiveness.

Note, however, that Fire Barques have several limitations. The most obvious one is their subceptibility to faster light ships. An enemy can use humble dromonds to take the brunt of their damage, and because they are cheap and expendable, a fleet of heavy ships can be screened with a dromond flotilla. The next one is their inability to target non-naval units, meaning that near buildings, they are worthless. Thus there are two ways of using Fire Barques: the first is to escort them with appropriate vessels; the second is to keep them in port until needed. Because of how lethal roundships are to castles, always build a Dockyard and fill it with Fire Barques near the site of your castle, so that enemy fleets won't knock down your defences.

Unit summary

  • A Floating Wooden Wall — Because of how fragile fire ships are, always escort them with proper escort craft or bank them in your Dockyard for future use.
  • Defend Your Castle — In naval battles, Dockyards staffed with Fire Barques are useful for defending Castles , so that enemy fleets won't knock down your defences.
  • Raiders of the Lost Barques — Fire Barques make easy prey for light ships , so keep your Fire Barques well -protected, preferably by building your own light shipping.


Because ships in the Middle Ages were built primarily of combustible materials (wood, cloth, hemp, and pitch), fire was a devastating weapon against them. The simplest way to set ships on fire was to fire flaming arrows or ballista bolts on an enemy ship. Next most useful were flaming grenades, something like modern Molotov cocktails, filled with a combustible liquid like oil. Most intricate were flaming firepots suspended from the bow of a ship by a pole. When the pole was positioned over the deck of an enemy ship, the pot was dropped, shattering it and spread burning liquid over the deck. Other methods also included the use of old vessels set ablaze and let loose to drift amidst the foe. It was this tactic which helped the warlord Zhu Yuanzhang win the battle of Poyanghu in 1363, cementing his place as the first emperor of the Ming dynasty of China five years later.