|"[...] their abode is the Fire; whenever they desire to go forth from it they shall be brought back into it [...]"|
—The Qur'an (32:20)
Very powerful one-use anti-ship weapon, has a powerful single-shot attack, but very weak armour and hitpoints.
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A very fast and destructive unit, the Fire Vessel will leave any unwary opponents severely burned. These units, packed with all matter of incendiary materials and in some cases explosives will give even the mightiest galleys and carracks reasons for fear despite the powerful armament of their guns.
However, as awesome as the destructive power of so small a unit may be, it still has many drawbacks. Firstly, it must touch its target. Any admiral who beats a hasty retreat before your units, fast as they may be, can reach, won't be affected. Secondly, fire ships are fast enough to outpace their target - namely heavy galleys and sailing vessels - but it won't perform as well as it normally would, against light ships, whose better rate of fire (especially with brigantines) will put it down immediately. Lastly, it is an anti-ship weapon: it will not work against units in port, although it can harass your opponent into keeping his ships bottled up in port. Fire Vessels are a must-have in port defence - do not leave a Castle by the water without Fire Vessels garrisoned in a nearby dockyard.
In contrast with other factions which are forced to use Fire Vessels, the Byzantines have an even better unit: the Cheirosiphon Vessel (cheirosiphon meaning "hand-siphon" in Greek). This unit, although with a limited range, can set units and structure around it ablaze without endangering itself, and has by far the best attack in the game.
- 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 Vessels 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 Vessels 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.