There are 102 ships at 9 points, and at least a third of them are somewhere between noteworthy and good. Some are even outright great, most of which appear on this list. This one was a real brain boiler and I bet I've included at least a couple controversial picks, though do note that many of the "tied" ships are in fact honorable mentions or similar to each other.
10. USS Emerald
USS Emerald is a little gem
of a gunship, and one of the five most durable you can get for under ten points, all of which earn a mention somewhere in this post. She is in theory approximately as durable as a four master owing to her ability, though a tad more susceptible to ramming damage. Her hold is small, but there are arguments in favor of all sorts of cheap crew to augment her. Captain, helmsman, shipwright, firepot specialist, oarsman, Ralph David
, and of course, an optional cargo master. I'd personally go for a captain, oarsman, and Ralph David, opting to use her as a pesky little escort gunship.
9. Sea Crane
- Honorable Mention: La Cordoba
Sea Crane and Song are both two-masted pirate junks with the same ability at the same cost—comparing them is a necessity. The former has superior speed and armament, the latter more cargo space. Make no mistake, Sea Crane is superior, never mind the smaller hold, as she can be turned into a better ship with the use of crew. Sure, Song can use a helmsman to catch Sea Crane, but then she's two points more expensive for no benefit. Sea Crane can speed along at L+S+S with a helmsman to scoop up gold before your opponents can, and you can either upgrade to Hammersmith
or use Gentleman Jocard
depending on your strategy. Song is only here because she's comparable, not because she's at all competitive with Sea Crane.
(La Cordoba is mentioned because she has the same ability, but is a less complete package.)
8. El San Jose
- Honorable Mentions: San Theodora
Four cargo, L+S move, a couple 4S guns, and tangentially useful abilities make these two ships highly comparable. El San Jose might be more likely to bring home more gold or get rid of a negative UT, but Golden Peacock has significantly more survivability, owing to her galley keyword and greater size. As usual, it's up to what worries you to help you decide which to use.
(San Theodora is an HM because she's a meh
version of San Jose, and Glaive the same to Golden Peacock.)
7. HMS Victor
Unlike the last two, Victor and Ladron are two similar ships with nothing statistically in common save for their size. They fall under the same category because of their related abilities, though their strengths are divergent. Both are well-armed, though I would argue Ladron is more so, in addition to being more capacious, though Victor is significantly faster. Overall, I would argue Victor is the better ship, as she's focused on being a warship, and Ladron is a tad confused with her good hold and subpar move as to what role she wants to play. There are better hybrids on the list, so this bout goes to HMS Victor.
6. HMS Hyena
- Honorable Mentions: HMS Success
Yet another case of comparing ships by their abilities. Hyena is well-rounded, while Ballista is min-maxy. I'll be clear that I consider Ballista more of an honorable mention, but better than her brethren categorized as such, and a ship that I feel hasn't gotten quite enough attention.
But HMS Hyena: well-armed, decent speed, great hold, useful ability. Thomas Gunn
, oarsman, and go out there with your budget, do-it-all hybrid. If you're insistent on padding her further, using Hermione Gold
and Trevor Van Tyne
adds a little more firepower for minimal investment, but you're pushing 16-17 points there when other ships can get you more for that price.
5. HMS Rye
- Honorable Mention: Lizard
HMS Rye has the edge as a source for the valuable cancelling ability, due to her inherently superior speed and galley keyword, but Hessian's cargo space almost argues her into gold runner territory, and her armament almost
makes her look like a hybrid. For both, I'd probably use a helmsman and oarsman, with consideration for a shipwright, and on the latter, Ralph David
(Lizard is too middling and lacks interesting enough stats for me to consider her true competition.)
Both have 5 cargo, two 3S guns, some L range firepower, and a base boarding value of 4. If you're good with that, Adventure is the ship for you, but if you want better firepower, more durability, and a negative ability, look to Eagle. Both are strong hybrid options in this point range, and make me think back to HMS Hyena above. Between Hyena and Eagle, the wings win me over, as Eagle has better firepower and endurance, though Hyena definitely has a better ability and more speed.
Between the three, it'd be Eagle-Hyena-Adventure, though Adventure is listed up here with Eagle because of their statistical similarity. On her own, she'd be near the bottom of this list, if even on it at all.
3. Morning Star
This version of Morning Star is significant due to the fact that she is the single cheapest five-master in the game, and one of only four ships at four plus masts to come in at nine points—there are no ships of 4+ masts below this cost.
As for how to use her, she can be made a fast, durable gold runner, or a moderate-speed, capacious one. Helmsman-explorer for the former, Master Bianco
for the latter. There are plenty more ways you can work with her, but no matter how you spec her, she's an awesome gold runner. You can make a warship of her if you're strange and foolish, hence, it won't be discussed.
2. Native Canoes
These things are brutally potent if you can use them correctly. Every treasure funneled through them is worth +1, and if you empty an island with them, you're going to see +4 gold provided you can get it all home. Durability is a big concern when using any canoes, but the potential of these cannot be ignored. Just hope your opponent doesn't use any of the UTs that can instantly wipe them out... runes of something or another. It has just enough problems that it doesn't quite
make the top spot.
Libellule is lightning-quick and has gargantuan cargo space. L+S move, six cargo, and the windcatcher keyword make her a mighty gold runner, and among the few expensive(-ish) ones worth using. A helmsman and either an explorer or Amiral Stephan Dupuy
with Mademoiselle Josephine Godiva
. Kind of hard to argue with a windcatcher moving L+S+S with a 55% chance of EA for 16 points, or just its plainer, but also excellent 12 point setup.
I'd even argue that her ability isn't such a bad negative, as it can save you from seeing your ship captured. Sure, her killer gets the lion's share, but not all of it, and if you're a bad sport, you can even Raft
your way out of that. All together, I'd argue she's the best nine-point ship ever released.
HMS Half Moon
USS Sea Tiger