I had a busy Wednesday, so this ranking is coming a little late.
There actually are enough 5-point ships to warrant a top ten. Unfortunately, beyond the top few, they are largely mediocre to bad, as many 1-masters with crippling flaws. There are some solid ships, but you'll have to wait until you get to the bottom to find them. Where to rank 5-10 is absolutely up for debate, since the value of a dirt-cheap warship is questionable next to some of the game's budget gold runners.
10. Le Rochefort
An honest, if uninspired gold runner, with an ability that may or may not have value.
This ship has kin in another set
, but the two are nothing alike. DPC's ship is a terrible hybrid, whereas CC's is an almost-viable gunship. She's quick, has an okay gun, and a fun ability. The lack of value for your points hurts her, and the fact that she'll be 8 points with a captain and disabled with a ram makes her hard to justify using.
8. USS Destiny
Like Fancy, this ship has a sister ship, a 3-master from Crimson Coast
. Unlike Fancy, these two share the range doubler ability. This ship's paper stats are inferior to Fancy's, but specific crew setups make her a more reasonable way to spend your points. She makes for an acceptable escort gunship with the use of Ralph David
, an oarsman, and a captain, which are enough to (mostly) prevent her from being a total waste of points. Considering that you're facing 10 points for what is still a middling 1-masted gunship, I can see most skipping out on this.
7. El Picador
Average armament, sure, but you're getting two useable guns and an acceptable base move for 5 points. There are better deals
to be had, and there are worse.
Statistically almost identical to Le Rochefort, Jeux benefits from an ability more suited to her role. She's still just a hair above average in this category, though.
5. El Chico
They're fraternal twins, with their identical cost, size, negative abilities, and otherwise similar stats. Chico has a faster base move, while Treachery gets more cargo and longer cannon ranges. Their less-middling stats than El Picador make them more viable, I think.
4. HMS Cumberland
Cumberland is a surprisingly well-rounded ship, with good guns, lots of cargo, and a low cost. Her flaws are a weakness against the game's most common faction and a subpar base move, but in all other respects, she can be considered a strong choice among the English for cheap ships, which they largely lack.
Rattlesnake is among the few cheap ships the Americans ever got, let alone ones that are any good. She has good armament, but her party piece is her cargo space, the best of any ship at this price. A helmsman to counteract her weak move and an optional oarsman or explorer make her one of the only low-budget American gold runners.
L'Intrepide is my go-to gold runner for when I want a good, cheap ship, but don't want to use Banshee's cry. She's endowed with speed and cargo space, and while I like to use her empty, a helmsman or explorer are not terrible additions.
1. Le Pique
Le Pique is a tremendously strange ship. She's arguably a better gold runner than L'Intrepide because of her speed, despite her poorer cargo space, and she has a 2S gun whose range can be doubled. She can even defend herself reasonably well while running gold if saddled with a flotilla, as her ability works well with it. Just an oarsman can do the trick, but if paired with a flotilla, a captain or shipwright may also be of use.