Galleon (ETW Unit)
A galleon is a strong, seaworthy vessel, capable of surviving an Atlantic crossing in the worst of weathers. This is a tribute to their builder’s methods and techniques, learned over the decades of making caravels and carracks. The lines of a galleon show its medieval heritage, as the type is similar to the earlier ships, but without their high forecastle shape. The galleon retains a high stern castle, but its main fighting power is on the gun deck. This change meant that galleons are not fighting platforms for (land) troops, but fight with broadside batteries of demi-culverin cannons. In this respect, it is a forerunner to the later square-rigged rated ships of the line. The guns and strength of construction make them dangerous targets, as numerous English pirates and privateers discovered to their cost.
A galleon can also carry a substantial cargo. The Spanish galleon fleets carrying bullion from the New World, for example, made a tempting target because they were such good cargo vessels. The wealth they imported was almost beyond calculation. The gold and silver, however, damaged the Spain by flooding the country with “cheap” money, and there was no understanding of economics to help stop the problem.
Galleons are, for trading ships, extremely powerfully armed. They are stronger and heavier than a fourth rate in terms of armament and are cheaper and available much sooner. Galleons are heavily armed enough to deter pirates and other raiders where Indiamen would be considered easy prey. However, they are also much more expensive (almost threefold) and more time-consuming to construct than Indiamen, along with a much higher upkeep cost (sixfold). This means that galleons are at their best in the earlier stages of the game, when pirates are not contained and Spain's navies are not yet fully developed. In the late stages of the game, galleons should gradually be replaced with indiamen when proper battleships are available to protect trading fleets, in order to lower upkeep cost.
Galleons have two chasers (guns placed at the fore of a ship). These are extremely hard hitters, and even stronger frigates such as fifth rates will find themselves heavily damaged if hit with too many shots from these.
Galleons can be built in any port. This makes them extremely useful in the early game, and allows Iberians to build more Trade Ports. They are also inexpensive for such a powerful ship.