São Gabriel-Class Carrack
[...] through their depth he rides,
— Luís Vaz de Camões, Lusiads (Bk 9, trans Burton)
With its dark, intimidating black paintwork, and its size which dwarfs other carracks, the São Gabriel-class carrack is a sample of state-of-the-art Western naval engineering at the beginning of the 16th century. Not only is it stronger than a normal carrack, but it also combines the terrifying speed and firepower of a lanternas with the rate of fire of a normal carrack, making it the best heavy naval unit in Rise of Kings. Additionally, its rigging, being the most advanced and tallest in all Western Europe, grants it a good line of sight of the battlefield - trumped only by the larger wooden hulks of the Asians, the South Sea Barque.
Such firepower however comes at a price, though, and a Portuguese player must be prepared for a long gestation period before the humbler nau can be replaced by these nautical titans. And even then, there will be problems: smaller and cheaper galleys and carracks can be used to swarm these warships, and fire ships still prove to be effective, if they are given the chance. Worse of all, the warships hosted by the Chinese and Japanese have more hitpoints, making this warship's performance against a fully-rigged Asiatic fleet pretty much a moot point. It is only a foolish player who thinks of relying on these ships alone; wiser admirals must surround the pride of their fleet with smaller vessels such as Portugal's prized caravels and fire ships of their own.
- Slow and Steady ... — Although it is the best warship in the western navy, research and construction for this unit takes a fair bit of time, although it is nowhere as slow or difficult as the Asian nations have it.
- ... Might Not Win The Race — Like all heavy ships, the Gabriel suffers from one weakness, and that is fire ships. Its relatively nimbleness and rate of fire do nothing to help it, and so the Gabriel has to be well-protected by a fleet of fustas or caravelas.
The carrack was a three- or four-masted sailing ship developed in 15th century Western Europe for use in the Atlantic Ocean. It had a high rounded stern with large aftcastle,forecastle and bowsprit at the stem. It was first used by the Portuguese and Spanish to explore and map the world. It was usually square-rigged on the foremast and mainmast and lateen-rigged on the mizzenmast. Carracks were ocean-going ships: large enough to be stable in heavy seas, and roomy enough to carry provisions for long voyages. This made carracks suitable as "floating command centres"/supply depot for faster but smaller caravelas. And while carracks expectedly had teething problems related to their architecture, they were the only ship available until naval architecture improved over time.
The São Gabriel was one of the first ships used by Vasco da Gama to reach India. She was one of four ships, the others including São Rafael, another carrack, and a caravela named Berrio. Departing in the summer of 1497, the expedition managed to reach India 10 months later. Although disease would decimate the crews, and the São Rafael was scuttled, the Berrio and São Gabriel would successfully return in August 1499, with a load of spices that was sold with immense profit by the Portuguese crown, cementing the foundations of Portugal's mercantile empire in the Far East.