This article is about the Ship Type known as the "Frigate". For the family of ship known collectively as "Frigates", see Frigate Class.

The Frigate is one of the larger Types of dedicated warships, available in all incarnations of Pirates!. Armed with plenty of cannons and a large crew, it nonetheless balances these with sufficient maneuverability to be able to put these assets to good use. As a result, its primary function is to hunt larger vessels such as Galleons. Non-Spanish nations tend to use Frigates to carry out their military goals in most games in the series, and players tend to consider the Frigate as (one of) the largest "useable" ship.

General DescriptionEdit

Frigate is the name used to refer to a specific type of ship or group of ships appearing in the various "Pirates!" games. It is one of the larger and most heavily-armed warships in the game, but retains surprising speed and maneuverability for its size. Designed originally by the Dutch to counter the threat of Spanish Galleons, its speed allows it to engage larger, heavier-armed vessels than itself with ease. Depending on the game, it is either the largest vessel considered combat-worthy by players or one of the largest.


The Frigate is a large warship which, unlike the larger Galleons, is built for speed and maneuverability. Its unique sail configuration combines ample Square Rigging on three masts, with anywhere upwards of two Triangular Sails mounted in various positions (depending on the version of the game). This design allows the Frigate to attain a very high maximum speed when wind is favourable, and yet retain good maneuverability in off-wind conditions. It has a single gun deck, but plenty of Cannons nonetheless. It carries a large Crew complement, and its cargo hold is slightly larger than that of medium-sized trade vessels.

In the Real World...Edit

Frigates were designed by the Dutch as a counter to the Spanish Galleon in the late 16th century. The "Frigate" design caught on, and many European powers began building them. However, the design was not uniform - any large warship built for speed rather than strength was dubbed a "Frigate". Eventually, when Line Battles became the primary method of naval combat, the name Frigate was reserved for ships with more than 28 cannons arranged on a single gun deck. These ships were used to support the line and flank the enemy, thanks to their considerable speed compared to actual Ships of the Line.
The Frigate design varies from one version of Pirates! to the other, especially in the way its sails are arranged. Nonetheless, the Frigate matches its historical description, and serves the same function it did when it was the height of naval engineering: to hunt down the powerful Galleons and subsequently maintain regional military dominance.

Strategic UseEdit

The Frigate is considered a "large" vessel in Strategic terms, meaning that it has trouble getting around the Caribbean, especially when going towards the East. Nonetheless, its Cargo and Crew capacity normally outweigh this in terms of strategic usefulness - the Frigate can carry more of these on board than most merchant vessels, and is powerful enough to operate alone in most circumstances and against most other ships. As a result, a fleet led by a Frigate is considered quite powerful and is sufficiently fast to prevent frustration while sailing.

In CombatEdit

The Frigate is one of the tougher, more heavily-armed ships the game has to offer. Its broadsides are quite fearsome, and can make short work of any smaller ship it encounters. Additionally, the Frigate is designed for speed and maneuverability, which are surprisingly good for a ship of its size. While it cannot outmaneuver a Sloop or a Pinnace, it is quite capable of taking on pretty much all other merchant and combat vessels. And of course, a smaller vessel will be crippled if the Frigate manages to hit it at least once.

As a result, the Frigate captain aims to inflict damage early in the battle, then rely on his speed to ensure that the enemy combatant does not escape. This usually means that Frigate captains must be very mindful of the wind, especially at the very start of combat, and/or be good-enough gunners to land that first blow and cripple the enemy's ability to maneuver. Battles with larger ships often take more time to complete, but in these cases the Frigate already holds superiority of speed and can utilize its ample armament better than the opponent. In these instances the Frigate behaves more like a Brig.

Once the enemy has been rendered docile or unthreatening, the Frigate can close in to board with its large Crew complement. In cases where starting battle conditions are favourable, the Frigate may even forgo cannonplay and enact a Boarding straight-away, leveraging its superior crew size.


Though normally a combat vessel, the Frigate has more room on board than most other trading vessels, while not being significantly slower than any of them. Since it is quite capable of defending itself in combat, the Frigate can be used as an excellent trading vessel, possibly even superior to smaller traders such as the Merchantman or Fluyt. And although it is smaller than a Merchant Galleon, it is also faster and, again, better capable of defending itself should the need arise.

Icon Pirates1987 Header Pirates1987Pirates! (1987)Edit

Ship Type
1987 Ship Frigate
A powerful and fast combat ship
Best Sailing Point: Broad Reach or Runnning Broad Reach
Best Speed (weak wind): 9 leagues
Best Speed (strong wind): 12 leagues
Max. Cannons: 28 Icon Cannon
Max. Crew: 224
Cargo Capacity: 120 tons
Basic Sale Price: 3,000 Icon GoldCoin
Draft: Deep

In the original game, the Frigate is considered a "mid-sized" combat vessel, since there are no less than 3 larger combat vessel types available. It serves roughly the same purpose that the Brig Class serves in later games. Nonetheless, it is considered the largest combat vessel than does not give up too much speed for its firepower or crew capacity.

Frigates often appear as non-Spanish ships, and are often encountered in the hands of Pirate Hunters and Named Pirates. It is a dangerous opponent regardless of owner. Note that Frigates only appear after 1600, and are significantly rarer in earlier Eras than in later ones.

The Best Sailing Point for a Frigate is either Broad Reach or Running Broad Reach, where it can achieve speeds of 9-12 leagues. This allows it to maintain a speed superiority over virtually all ships in most conditions. In light winds, it will be significantly faster than all ships larger than itself, regardless of sailing direction. In strong winds, it can outrun even a Pinnace (unless it tries to escape in a wide angle to the wind). Additionally, a single broadside hitting the enemy will usually render it helpless against the Frigate. The Frigate's turning speed, unfortunately, is slightly lower than that of a Merchantman, but still high enough to prevent frustration.

Capturing a Frigate for your fleet is a great boon, as it will usually serve as a powerful Flagship that does not slow you fleet down too much. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to have at least one small ship like a Pinnace or Sloop on hand to engage other small ships. The Frigate impacts your Sailing Map speed, so player wanting to remain mobile (like when having matters to deal with in various parts of the Caribbean) may wish to forgo the Frigate, but this speed reduction is otherwise not significant enough to outweigh the strengths of this ship.

Icon Pirates2004 Header Pirates2004Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004)Edit

Ship Type
Smallest member of the Frigate class
Large Frigate
2004 Ship Frigate
A powerful and fast combat vessel
Prevalence: Common
Physical Size: Large
Maneuverability: Mid-High
Durability: High
Best Sailing Point: Running Broad Reach to Broad Reach
Comparative Speed: Mid-High
Best Speed: Highest
Max. Cannons: 32 Icon Cannon
Max. Crew: 200 Icon Crew
Min. Crew: 16 Icon Crew
Ideal Crew (w/ Max Cannons): 112 Icon Crew
Cargo Capacity: 80 tons
Basic Sale Price: 600 Icon GoldCoin

In Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004), the Frigate is the name used to refer both to the specific Ship Type called "Frigate", and the entire family of ships known as Frigates. The "Frigate" is the Smallest member of its class, and is also the most common.

The Frigate is a large and fast combat vessel, one of the best heavily-armed vessels in the game (the others being its own larger variants). Difficult to control in battle due to its size, in the hands of a skilled captain the Frigate can nonetheless be extremely useful: its firepower enables it to subdue any opponent, its speed to outmaneuver all but the fastest opponents, and its maneuverability (when used properly with Sail State changes) can even allow it to avoid incoming fire despite its size. Outside of combat, it is seen as a naval-domination ship, capable of keeping an area clean of all enemy threats for long periods of time, and/or attacking enemy nations directly. It is encountered very often serving the military interests of the three non-Spanish nations.

The Frigate carries up to 32 Cannons into battle, and can hold a Crew of up to 200 men. With fewer than 16 men available, the Frigate becomes sluggish and difficult to use. With at least 112 men and 32 cannons on board, the Frigate is at its maximum fighting efficiency.

A Frigate can carry up to 80 tons of cargo (including Cannon), which makes it somewhat-useful as a trading vessel. Remember that 32 tons of cargo are taken up by the cannons, when this ship is fully-armed, and that much of this space should be reserved for Food for its large crew. Giving up cannons for trading pretty much kills its usefulness in defending itself.

When sold, a Frigate yields 600 Icon GoldCoin, plus 150 Icon GoldCoin for each upgrade installed on the ship. This assumes that the ship is at 100% condition, otherwise it is sold for less (down to 10 Icon GoldCoin if either sails or hull are all but gone).

Upgrades for a Frigate cost 900 Icon GoldCoin each. Once the rank of Admiral has been attained, Frigate upgrades will only cost 450 Icon GoldCoin each.

In the Player's HandsEdit

No nation/era combination will have the player starting off with a Frigate.

Finding a Frigate is relatively easy, though assaulting one to capture it can be dangerous. Once captured, the Frigate best serves as a Flagship for your Fleet. It should be able to handle any threat that comes your way.

Frigates are often seen as "specialty" ships - suitable only for specific players. Many players see them as being too heavy and unmaneuverable, especially when compared to such player-favourites as a Sloop or Brig. In truth, learning to control a Frigate's firepower takes time and skill, but will eventually pay off: captains that master this will often consider the Frigate to be far superior to any other vessel.

The Frigate's main drawback in general gameplay terms is its speed: while it sails very quickly to the West, getting back to the East takes time and effort. For this reason Frigate captains tend to put more emphasis on planning their journeys in advance so as to complete their business in one area of the Caribbean before moving on the next.

Nonetheless, one advantage is the ability to stay out at sea for prolonged periods of time. Frigates can carry plenty of food for their crew, and damage sustained during combat (if any!) is usually so minor compared to the ship's great Hull Durability that it only seldom needs repairs.

Aside from serving as your Flagship, a Frigate is a good addition to the player's Fleet when requiring a large Crew capacity - such as when going on Raids. Unless your Flagship is a small, fast ship, the additional Frigates will not slow down your Fleet by a very significant amount.

Unfortunately, in purely statistical terms the Frigate holds very little benefit over a Brig Of War, meaning that many players will forgo the Frigate in favor of the BoW when possible. A player who does stick with the Frigate will usually switch as soon as a Large Frigate or Ship Of The Line can be caught, as their statistics are almost uniformly superior. The bottom line is that the player will only capture and use Frigates when nothing better is available - assuming they even prefer heavy warships to begin with (many players do not).

Roles and NationalityEdit

The Frigate is one of the more common warships used in the game. All non-Spanish nations use Frigates to fulfill almost every combat role. The Spanish do not use Frigates (or any Frigate Class ship).

Frigates often appear as Raiders and Invasion Forces, where they are by far the most common Ship Type. They are also occasionally used as Military Payroll transports. If a non-European nation is sufficiently upset about naval losses, it may dispatch Frigates to Escort its non-combat vessels. Frigates also appear as New Warships, more commonly than most other ship types except the various Brig Class ships. As a result of all this, the Frigate is one of the more common ship types to be found in the Caribbean.

Finally, the Famous Pirate Blackbeard sails a heavily-upgraded Frigate.

In CombatEdit

The Frigate features unique combat properties that put it roughly on-par with the Brig Of War. It relies primarily on its awesome arsenal of Cannons, which can deliver a powerful blow to any enemy ship. As such, during Naval Combat a Frigate will usually attempt to pummel its enemy into submission, and only board the enemy once it has gained the advantage.

Frigate Class ships also have the unique ability to benefit greatly from changing their Sail States. When the sails are Full, the Frigate has an awesome speed advantage over almost every other ship, especially when sailing close to the direction of the wind. However, its turning rate leaves something to be desired in this state. When the sails are Reefed, the Frigate quickly loses speed, but gains a short period of time where its turning rate rivals that of a Sloop, allowing it to make a quick turn before raising the sails and regaining speed. Once the skill of correctly changing the Sail States has been acquired by the player, it becomes possible to outmaneuver most enemy vessels in the game, to such a degree that it is possible to evade enemy cannonfire entirely, in much the same way as a Sloop or Pinnace does naturally.

Combining high firepower with high maneuverability means that the Frigate is the only class of ship that can win any contest of gunnery with little or no damage, regardless of the opponent. The Frigate can bring its guns to bear on the enemy quickly (thanks to high turning rate with Reefed Sails), chase down fleeing opponents, out-maneuver larger ships with ease, and if necessary escape quickly downwind (thanks to high speed with Full Sails). Furthermore, its high Frigate-Class Durability means that it can sustain plenty of cannon hits without worry, making it a formidable combatant.

Note of course that due to its specific stats, the Frigate does not hold much of an advantage over the Brig Of War, leading many Frigate-captains to use a BoW until they can secure either a Large Frigate or Ship Of The Line. Nonetheless, the higher Durability of the Frigate, coupled with the potential of its Sail States, makes this a great combat vessel for experienced captains.