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

The Barque is a small-mid-sized Ship Type, available in all incarnations of Pirates!. Generally considered the smallest (and fastest) trading vessel, it fills different roles (for both the player and his opponents) in the different versions of the game. It is one of the more common ships to be found in the Caribbean.

General DescriptionEdit

Barque is the name used to refer to a specific type of ship or group of ships appearing in the various "Pirates!" games. It is a small mid-sized vessel, offering a fair balance between cargo capacity, armament, and speed. As such, it is a very versatile ship. However, being a jack-of-all-trades, the Barque is seen is a strange choice as a player ship, especially in the 2004 incarnation of the game. It is generally used by foreign powers as a trading ship.


The Barque has somewhat different appearance in each incarnation of the game. In the original game, the Barque is a long, three-Masted ship, sporting a triangular Sail on each mast. In the 2004 version, it is a short-hulled, three-masted ship with a large triangular foresail and two smaller triangular sails at the stern.

In the Real World...Edit

The Barque featured in both games does not have an exact historical counterpart. Names such as barca, barco, barge and barque have been used for a small vessel of coastal or inland waters, but they do not refer to a specific hull or rig structure. Closest historical counterparts are probably the Xebec and the three-masted lugger. Neither of the above ship types were ever used in the Caribbean, though. Xebec with its three lateen sails visually resembles in-game Barque the most - even more in the original game - but unlike it, Xebec had oars as well. A lugger is a similar three-masted fore-and-aft rigged sailing ship of the era, but it had lugsails. The hull of the Barque in 2004 version is closer to the Lugger than the Xebec.

Strategic UseEdit

The Barque fills a unique niche between mid-sized merchant vessels (such as the Merchantman) and smaller, faster combat ships such as the Sloop. It has a small but good capacity for cargo, for which it pays with speed and maneuverability. It is also slightly more heavily-armed than a Sloop.

The Barque's actual strategic usefulness depends on the version of the game you are playing:

  • In the original game, no ship played as good a part as the Barque in taking on mid-sized merchant vessels. It is stronger than the Sloop and can give and take more punishment, while not sacrificing much in terms of speed or maneuverability. It is a good mid-way vessel between the weaker, faster Sloop, and the stronger, slower Frigate.
  • In the 2004 game, the Barque is largely a fast trading ship, capable of carrying cargo around the Caribbean with somewhat more expediency that all other traders. Its only combat superiority over a Sloop is its slightly-higher durability, for which it pays with both speed and maneuverability. This is due to the Brig having replaced the Barque as the primary mid-sized combat vessel.

In CombatEdit

The Barque is a small mid-sized ship, and as such it is generally quick enough to chase down all trading vessels. However, it is not maneuverable enough or well-armed enough to reliably take on heavy combat ships.

In battle, a Barque will generally rely on firepower rather than speed. While not heavily-armed, it is also not fast enough to out-maneuver any but the slowest opponents - and those are generally very well armed themselves. Therefore, the Barque's captain will usually opt for a mix of cannon-fire and maneuvering, hopefully ending with a Boarding to utilize manpower and fencing skills.

Note that in the 2004 version of the game, the Barque lacks the maneuverability or cannon superiority to effectively fight combat vessels.


The Barque is the smallest ship that can be called a "trading vessel". While its cargo capacity is significantly smaller than that of a Merchantman or Fluyt, it is also considerably faster and more agile than those ships. This may or may not allow it to avoid combat with enemy vessels, but it can potentially defend itself against most threats, whether by running away or by blasting a smaller assailant into submission.

Icon Pirates1987 Header Pirates1987Pirates! (1987)Edit

Ship Type
1987 Ship Barque
A mid-sized trading ship with respectable combat ability.
Best Sailing Point: Broad Beam Reach
Best Speed (weak wind): 9 leagues
Best Speed (strong wind): 12 leagues
Max. Cannons: 16 Icon Cannon
Max. Crew: 128
Cargo Capacity: 60 tons
Basic Sale Price: 1,500 Icon GoldCoin
Draft: Deep

In the original game, the Barque is a mid-sized vessel capable of both trading and combat. It is a very potent weapon against other mid-sized traders as well as smaller combat ships.

Barques are favoured by the Spanish, and will appear frequently in their employ during the early stages of most games. The frequency of their appearance decreases in later eras, as they are slowly replaced by Galleons. They are occasionally used by both Named Pirates and Pirate Hunters, though they tend to be less frequent in these roles.

The Best Sailing Point for a Barque is Broad Beam Reach, a very odd angle compared to other ships, where it can achieve speeds of 9-12 leagues. In strong Winds it can be somewhat slower than a Square Rigged ship, at least when going Before The Wind or close to it.

Unlike in later incarnations of the game, in Pirates! the Barque is one of the more favoured ship types, having no other competitor that can fill its unique role as a mid-sized combat vessel. It can comfortably take on both Merchantmen and Fluyts, and is fast enough to compete with Sloops and sometimes even Pinnaces. However, despite its increased firepower, the Barque is rarely a match for larger combat ships like the Frigate or Fast Galleon, which can sink it with a few good broadsides. Still, it is maneuverable enough to attempt attacks on Galleons and Spanish Galleons, though this requires some skill.

Finally, being the largest Fore-And-Aft Rigged ship available in the game, it maintains a reasonable speed when sailing east, and is not as affected by Storms.

The combination of all these features make the Barque a Jack-of-All-Trades, and with the relative lack of ship types in the original game this is actually a useful trait to have.

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

Ship Type
Mid-Sized member of the Barque class
Coastal Barque
Ocean Barque
2004 Ship Barque
A small trading vessel
Prevalence: Common
Physical Size: Medium
Maneuverability: Mid-High
Durability: Mid-Low
Best Sailing Point: Broad Reach to Beam Reach
Comparative Speed: Medium
Best Speed: Medium
Max. Cannons: 16 Icon Cannon
Max. Crew: 70 Icon Crew
Min. Crew: 12 Icon Crew
Ideal Crew (w/ Max Cannons): 60 Icon Crew
Cargo Capacity: 70 tons
Basic Sale Price: 375 Icon GoldCoin

In Sid Meier's Pirates!, the "Jack-of-All-Trades" Barque from previous installations has been supplanted by the Brig as the mid-sized combat ship. The new Barque is in fact the smallest ship used as a common trading vessel, with everything that this implies.

the Barque is the name used to refer both to the specific Ship Type called "Barque", and the entire family of ships known as Barques. The "Barque" is the mid-sized member of its class, and is also the most common by a small margin.

The Barque carries up to 16 Cannons into battle, and can hold a Crew of up to 100 men. With fewer than 12 men available, the Barque becomes sluggish and difficult to use. With at least 60 men and 16 cannons on board, the Barque is at peak combat efficiency.

A Barque can carry up to 70 tons of cargo (including Cannon), which makes it the smallest type of ship that can actually be used for trading.

When sold, a Barque yields 375 Icon GoldCoin, plus 94 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 Barque cost 600 Icon GoldCoin each. Once the rank of Admiral has been attained, Barque upgrades will only cost 300 Icon GoldCoin each.

In the Player's HandsEdit

Unlike with the original game, the Sid Meier's Pirates! Barque is quite solidly a trading ship. As such, it is far less suitable for the player's purposes than the original Barque.

Using the Barque as a cargo carrier is a good option if the player's flagship is a large combat vessel. The Barque will then be able to keep pace with your ship in most situations, especially when going eastwards, though it may occasionally slow you down in strong winds or when going west. This is better performance than any other merchant vessel, anyway.

If you are looking for a mid-sized combat vessel that fills the gap between the Sloop and the Frigate, you need a Brig.

Roles and NationalityEdit

The Barque is used only by the Spanish and the French. For both, it is used as a simple Trader, and will therefore appear frequently on the campaign map. The Spanish also use the Barque to transport their New Governors. It does not appear in any other Ship Role.

In CombatEdit

The Barque is superior to all other trade ships in terms of speed and maneuverability. Owing to its Fore-And-Aft Rigging, the Barque can sil comfortably at the odd angle of Beam Reach (perpendicular to the wind), where it will reach at least 6 knots even in the weakest possible winds (and up to 12 in strong winds). It can even sail Close-Hauled when the winds are right.

Unfortunately, the Barque is neither fast enough nor well-equipped enough to take on any combat vessel. It does have a greater chance of surviving attacks by anything larger than a Sloop, thanks to its ability to escape at odd angles to the wind, but in most cases it will sustain gunfire damage while trying to do so. Naturally, a Sloop or Pinnace will not have any trouble following it in any direction, complicating matters.

For these reasons, the Barque is not considered a suitable ship for combat. It is also considered a fair target for the player in most circumstances, as it poses little threat with its weapons and is not very likely to get away if attacked from the proper angle.