This is a ranking of the SE/LE ships from value boxes, many of which are average or terrible. I speculated with Ben once that they were meant to be a "flagship" of sorts for new players in case they didn't get any bigger ships in the packs included, which makes some sense, but it doesn't excuse how weak many of these ships turned out to be. Nevertheless, there are strong options among them, and here they are.
Her guns are great, but her ability is garbage, her hold average, and her cost noncompetitive. She's useable, but there is too much good competition (even among SE ships) to rank her any higher.
9. Red Curse
Red Curse has worse armament than Independence, but better cargo space, and a more useful ability. She's a home island raider that can defend herself.
8. HMS Phoenix
An acceptable hybrid, or a solid choice for a budget warship. Her ability is really little more than a novelty, but even without it, she's a respectable ship, and you could argue she would pair well with world haters, flotillas, or Sir Christopher Myngs
7. HMS Burma
They're all but the same ship, and simple gunships at that. If I had to pick one, I'd take Burma for her better range and superior crew selection, but they're otherwise similar enough that I think they're worth listing as tied.
6. HMS Forge
She reminds me of HMS Lord Algernon
. Forge has better speed, a bigger hold, and a lower cost, at the cost of being one mast smaller, with a 3S gun toward the rear. The better base cannon ranks and ability not available on English crew make her better than Burma or Last Hope in my book.
A lame duck base move doesn't stop Isabela from making #5, though she may deserve a higher place still, because that ability is a game-winner. Her armament, though decent, is still nothing to focus on when you have that much cargo and such a good ability. I have her down at this spot because speed is crucial as a gold runner, and a base move of S is crippling for ships that are otherwise good
4. Empty Sky
Build her for what you want, because she can be a dangerous gunship, a hybrid, or even a decent gold runner. I maintain that this is one of the most underrated abilities in the game, and I honestly wish WK would have made her faster, even if her cost was 2-3 points higher, because that'd give her the ability to accept crazier crew setups. She beats Burma/Hope out by having more cargo space and better base gun ranks, but her speed is utterly pathetic.
3. Hades' Realm
Hades' Realm's base speed is trash, and her guns average, but her ability is a real shocker, and with a simple captain+helmsman, she'll do S+L+S speed, beating everything else on this list. She can go faster, too, as outlined in my recent (yet woefully incomplete) review
of her, where I highlight a setup that allows her to move at S+L+S+S.
2. HMS Richards
Same ship, different day
, as the say. The only differences are that Richards has all L range guns, and Seattle gets bonuses against forts too. Both make fine hybrids, or budget options for flagships in smaller games. They are a little on the dull side, like both ships in the #4 spot, though they beat them out due to greater cargo space offered for just one point more.
If you put a captain on this ship (and you will) then you're rocking quad 1S guns. Assign Commander Albert Crenshaw
and you have the equivalent of quad 1L guns, sans weaknesses to range-resisting abilities. That kind of build gets pricy, but Franklin can be either a truly devastating gunship or a strong hybrid regardless, and for that reason, she's the top SE boxed ship.