The Sloop Class is a family of ship designs featured in Sid Meier's Pirates! (2004). It includes the Sloop, Sloop Of War, and Royal Sloop. All three of these Ship Types share the same physical appearance, and have similar characteristics.
Sloop-Class ships are small combat vessels, relying more on maneuverability than firepower, while still carrying enough cannons to harass enemy ships. With good speed and agility, they are some of the most favoured ships for player-use.
The Sloop Class is a set of three Ship Types. Collectively, they are known as "Sloop-Class Ships", and sometimes simply as "Sloops".
Each of the three ship types is referred to as a "Variant" of the Sloop Class.
- The Smallest Variant is known as a Sloop.
- The Mid-sized Variant is simply called a Sloop Of War (or "SoW", for short).
- The Largest Variant is called a Royal Sloop (or "RS", for short).
Although all variants share the same 3D model, they can be distinguished by size. The Sloop is the smallest of these. The Royal Sloop is the largest of the three.
All ship characteristics are also similar between these variants. The Sloop, being the smallest, can hold less Cargo, Crew and Cannons than the others. However, it is slightly faster and more maneuverable, and benefits from being a small, agile target. The Royal Sloop, the largest variant, holds more Cargo, Crew and Cannons, but is slightly slower than the others. The Sloop Of War sits comfortably in the middle, having "average" statistics compared to the other two.
Sloop-Class ships are small, sleek ships. They have a short, narrow hull, which is dwarfed by their large sails.
Sloops have only a single mast, carrying a large Square Sail, a smaller square topsail above it, and a large spanker sail at the aft.
In addition, three triangular stay-sails are stretched in front of the main mast.
The sloop displays very favourable sailing properties, thanks to its equal emphasis on Square and Triangular sails.
Sloops can maintain roughly the same speed when sailing between With The Wind and Beam Reach, both in and out of combat. While their top speed is not too high compared to large Square-Rigged ships, a Sloop does not need to sail in one particular direction to achieve a speed close to its own maximum. Nonetheless, Sloop Class ships do perform slightly better at Broad Reach.
Sloops can easily sail beyond Beam Reach, well into Close Hauled, without suffering too much of a speed decrease. Sloops even get some speed when sailing Into The Wind, assuming the wind is not too strong.
Furthermore, the large lateen sails add considerable maneuverability, rivaled only by the Pinnace Class.
The Sloop Class is considered a player favourite, mainly for its combat properties. It sacrifices some firepower, but gets a bundle of speed and agility in return.
Sloops can easily outmaneuver most other ships. Their turning rate is second only to the Pinnace Class, which means it will easily out-turn all other enemy combatant, even without Copper Plating installed. This allows it to stay out of the enemy's broadsides, and if necessary also to avoid broadsides that have already been fired.
Sloops do not carry much firepower, but do have sufficient cannons to cause some damage. The best use for these cannons is with Chain-Shot, to make the enemy even less maneuverable and thus easier to defeat. However, many Sloop captains prefer to keep gunplay short and only as a prelude to a Boarding. With a Royal Sloop, cannonplay becomes somewhat more useful, but still mainly to weaken an enemy ship rather than fully subdue it.
Sloops are terrific for attacking small to mid-sized vessels. They can chase down other sloops, hurt Pinnaces with their cannons to make them easier to catch, or out-maneuver and board merchant vessels with ease.
Against larger warships however, the Sloop captain needs to have good sailing skills. A Sloop's low Durability means that a broadside or two can severely weaken it or even sink it outright, and its small crew complement makes it hard to successfully board a fully-manned Frigate or Combat Galleon without first weakening it. While Pinnace Class ships are agile enough to simply board and hope for the best, Sloops make a larger, slightly slower target and thus need to weave around cannonballs just to stay afloat.
Nonetheless, in a worst case scenario, a Sloop Class ship can easily retreat by sailing in a wide angle, such as Close-Hauled, where other ships cannot follow.