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War Canoe

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The War Canoe is a Ship Type available in Sid Meier's Pirates!. It is the smallest Ship Type in the game, and is also the smallest variant in the Pinnace Class family of ships. It is an extremely fast and agile boat, capable of weaving between cannonballs and sailing easily upwind. Its firepower and crew capacity are negligible. War Canoes spawn out of Indian Villages, and will never be seen in the employ of any of the four nations. Counterintuitively, the War Canoe is considered one of the best ships in the entire game, although it requires an extremely good understanding of the game, as well as excellent Fencing skills, in order to utilize it properly.

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

Ship Type
War Canoe
Smallest member of the Pinnace class
Larger:
Pinnace
2004 Ship Pinnace
A tiny but lightning-quick boat
Prevalence: Common
Physical Size: Smallest
Maneuverability: Highest
Durability: Lowest
Best Sailing Point: Broad Beam Reach
Comparative Speed: Very High
Best Speed: High
Max. Cannons: 8 Icon Cannon
Max. Crew: 50 Icon Crew
Min. Crew: 6 Icon Crew
Ideal Crew (w/ Max Cannons): 30 Icon Crew
Cargo Capacity: 20 tons
Basic Sale Price: 225 Icon GoldCoin


In Sid Meier's Pirates!, the War Canoe (also known as the Indian War Canoe, Tartane in the manual) is the name of a Ship Type belonging to the Pinnace Class family of ships. It is the Smallest variant of that class, and indeed the smallest ship model in the entire game.

The War Canoe is extremely fast and extremely agile. It can turn on a dime, and will gain speed very quickly.

The War Canoe carries up to 8 Cannons into battle, and can hold a Crew of up to 50 men. With less than 6 men available, the War Canoe becomes sluggish and difficult to use. With at least 30 men and 8 cannons on board, the War Canoe is at its maximum fighting efficiency.

A War Canoe can carry up to 20 tons of cargo (including Cannon) - barely enough to feed its entire crew for more than a few months, let alone carry any extra cargo. Even with a full fleet of War Canoes, maximum cargo capacity is only 160 tons, only 20 tons more than a single East Indiaman or Treasure Galleon.

When sold, a War Canoe yields 225 Icon GoldCoin, plus 56 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 War Canoe cost 400 Icon GoldCoin each. Once the rank of Admiral has been attained, War Canoe upgrades will only cost 200 Icon GoldCoin each.

In the Player's HandsEdit

The War Canoe has what can only be described as a "cult" of worshippers - players who believe that it is in fact the best ship in the entire game.

The reasons for this lie with the Canoe's exceptional maneuverability and tiny size. It can easily dodge cannonballs, and can very quickly close with an enemy ship for a Boarding. Players who are exceptionally good at Fencing find that the War Canoe removes all necessity for gunnery, and therefore remove all guns from their ship as they just take up valuable space.

Strategically, the War Canoe is also the fastest ship sailing on the World Map. It can also sail eastwards faster than any other ship. These are very valuable properties, as time is always slipping away.

In addition, it is reasonably simple to find any number of War Canoes, just by visiting an Indian Village. This means that a Canoe can be acquired very early in the game, which speeds the player's progress considerably.

Roles and NationalityEdit

In terms of appearances in the game, the War Canoe is unique in three ways:

  • It is the only ship sailed by the Indian faction.
  • It is only ever sailed by Indians (or the player, once one is caught). None of the other factions will field a War Canoe at any given time during the game.
  • As a result, it is the only ship that ever fills the role of "Indian War Canoe", a specific kind of ship activity somewhat similar to that of "Pirate Raiders". The difference is that a successful Pirate raid on a port severely reduces the wealth of a port, while an Indian raid leaves wealth intact, but reduces the population, which can possibly improve the wealth of the port.

War Canoes will randomly spawn out of Indian Villages every once in a while, in a group of 3 ships, heading towards a nearby Port. While sailing, it is possible to assault them - if you are quick enough to catch them before they get away or reach their destination.

It is also possible to cause War Canoes to spawn by design. To do this, visit an Indian Village and talk to the Village Chieftain. He will tell you of a planned raid against a nearby Port, and will subsequently spawn 3 War Canoes heading towards that port. You may attack these Canoes as you would normally.

In CombatEdit

As repeated several times above, the War Canoe is the single most agile ship in the entire game.

The Canoe's Fore-And-Aft Rigging, basically no more than a couple of triangular sails, coupled with its tiny hull, will turn the ship around almost on the spot. This allows the Canoe to make extremely tight (and unexpected!) turns.

In addition, this type of rigging also allows the Canoe to sail extremely quickly in awkward directions, such as Broad Beam Reach (its Best Sailing Point) and clock a couple of leagues even Into The Eye of the wind! In fact, it is the only ship type that can consistently maintain proper sailing velocity (5 leagues and upwards) when sailing upwind. This, as explained by the game guide, is because it actually carries oars for the crew to use. Oars are carried by all Pinnace Class and Sloop Class ships, but increase in effectiveness as ships get smaller.

Coupled together, these features allow the Canoe to outmaneuver any other ship in the game - potentially even other Pinnace-Class ships. Furthermore, due to the Canoe's tiny size, it can not only avoid enemy cannonfire (by turning quickly after the enemy has unleashed a broadside), but can potentially weave in between cannonballs. This is, of course, absolutely crucial, as the Canoe's Durability is abysmal, and it will not survive more than a few cannonball strikes before sinking.

Experienced Canoe captains regard loading the Canoe with cannons superfluous. 8 Cannons (its maximum loadout) are barely enough to cause any serious damage to other ships. For this reason such captains unload all their cannons to begin with, hence going into combat unarmed. Instead, they seek to outmaneuver the enemy ship and close in for a Boarding while avoiding enemy cannonfire. Once the boarding has commenced, the captain then only relies on his skill with Fencing to defeat the enemy ship. Even with the Canoe's small crew complement of 50 men (75 with Triple Hammocks), it is quite possible to defeat enemy ships loaded with hundreds of sailors this way.

The result of this is that the Canoe is used simply as a boarding platform - nullifying the enemy ship's firepower superiority, and hopefully also its manpower superiority. Therefore the Canoe can easily engage even the largest, most dangerous ships.

Attacking an Enemy CanoeEdit

The difficulty associated with combating a ship that can easily escape into the wind (and cannot be chased by anything larger than another Canoe) should be obvious. Good strategies for such an encounter involve attacking from up-wind, so that the Canoe has no choice but to flee in a more manageable direction. However, it is still imperative to try and hit the Canoe, preferably with Chain-Shot, before it can open up the distance and escape - in any direction.
Note: If you manage to make contact with an enemy War Canoe, it will immediately surrender. It is unknown whether Firaxis intended to implement combat with a Canoe's Indian crew, but the game does not offer this ability. There is no Fencing - the ship surrenders as soon as contact is made, regardless of how many men, cannons or sails it has left on board.

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