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Galley (ETW Unit)

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Galley (ETW Unit)
Class Medium Galley
Unit Size 74 men
Weaponry 2 guns
Melee Attack
Ranged Attack
Charge Bonus
Region Europe
Recruitment Cost 430
Upkeep Cost 100
Turns to Build
Unit Limit
Building Requirements Dockyard
Technology Requirements None

Galley thumbnail.pngGalleys are propelled by both oars and sails, with cannons on firing platforms above the rowers’ heads.


Although made obsolescent by the rise of broadside-firing sailing ships, galleys still have a place in naval warfare. The wind (or its lack) does not limit their movement and, if well handled, galleys can run rings around sailing ships. A galley has a reasonable amount of firepower for its size with cannons on a firing platform, or with a full gun deck above the rowers (on a design called a galleas). Up to five men work each oar; these are convicts (at best) or slaves (at worst). The life of a rower is hard, brutal and can be short: chained to their oars, they will go down with the galley if it founders.

The galley’s main disadvantage is its vulnerability in heavy seas: it would almost certainly sink in a full Atlantic seaway. It is most useful in relatively calm waters such as the Mediterranean or Baltic. These smaller seas also help keep a galley close to port: the large crew size means that they cannot venture far from a supply port, making them unsuitable for trans-oceanic voyages.

Historically, the galley survived for a long time as a practical warship in sheltered waters. The Ottomans, Swedes and Russians all used them in their battle fleets. As late as the 1790s they were still in use in the Baltic and the Mediterranean (C. S. Forrester has his famous fictional hero Captain Horatio Hornblower face Spanish galleons in one encounter). North African corsairs also used galleys, as they had a ready supply of European slaves to serve in them.


Although galleys carry only three cannon, these are all very heavy hitters and on the stern or bow of the ship, allowing them to use hit-and-run tactics to great effect. Since they fire their cannons so close to the waterline, galleys have a nasty habit of sinking much heavier ships within a few shots. Galleys also have the advantage of having oars and therefore not relying on the wind as heavily as most other ships, (although choppy water almost completely immobilizes them). However, galleys have minuscule sail and hull strength, and a very small number of crew. Therefore, galleys simply cannot compete with heavier ships of the later eras and should be phased out by then.


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