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8Nov/191

Black Seas – 3rd Rates Squadron

In addition to the Frigates and Brigs from earlier this week, I want to cover the third plastic sprue as well - the 3rd rates. These are currently available as a squadron of 3 in a boxed set.

Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron

The name third rate comes from the British rating of ships of the line. A third rate ship of the line would usually have 64 to 80 guns mounted, thus making it less gunned than a second rate ship (90 to 98 guns) and first rates with 100 guns and more (so far only available as resin models by Warlord Games.), both usually have an additional gun deck, sometimes even two in case of the first rates.

The fourth rate, the ship class in between the third rates and frigates (often fifth rates), would carry between 48 and 60 guns. Where historical the third rate ships proofed to be the best compromise between sailing ability (speed, handling), firepower, and cost, in Black Seas they among the heavier classes of ships, and quite point intensive for the game's mechanics. But yet, with first and second rates  both larger and more powerful, these third-rate ships are the moderate "big ones" of the game.

The box comes at a RRP of 30 GBP, covering three sprues and a lot of additional material. The models are kept in the 1:700th scale.

Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron

The squadron box covers ship cards, pre-cut sheets for the sails, a roll of black yarn for rigging, ratlines printed on clear plastic, wake markers (similar to those from Cruel Seas) and a sheet for flags and pennants for each of the four main nations. And as mentioned, three sprues each covering a single 3rd rate ship.

The instructions are very clear and a big improvement over the Cruel Seas plastics. They give you a step by step guide through the building process.

Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron

The sprue is very generous with space, but covers optional parts as well, that we will take a closer upon while assembling. The parts stand clear and can be taken from the sprue with minimal risk of damage, especially parts like the mast.

Very low mould lines and sharp details on the parts. Casting overall is above average and of good quality.

Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron

The main hull consists out of the deck and two side parts, along with three pieces that are substructures of the deck at the bow, middle and stern. Similar to what we've seen with the frigates, the 3rd rates come with different designs for the figureheads and backplates (these are two parts, as they cover a balcony as well).

The figureheads cover a lion, a women, a warrior and a mermaid.

Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron

The 3rd rate has three masts on deck, mizzen, main mast, foremast and the bowsprit on the bow. The mizzen receives two yards.

Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron

The ship is almost done building, only missing a few boats and the anchors. You're free to mix the boats, leave some as spares as bits or for rescue missions.

Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron

The third rates are ready, here all three of them from this box next to each other as well as in comparison with the frigates / 5th rates and the brigs. I don't have a 1st rate at hand yet, but they are not that much bigger, a bit taller but not that much more in length or width.

Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron Black Seas - Frigates and Brigs Flotilla

And one example of a build 3rd rate ship from different angles.

Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron Black Seas - 3rd Rates Squadron

Conclusion
I prefer plastic over resin, so the availability of another kit made from a plastic sprue is a good addition to the range. With that, you can easily build 70-80% of your fleet from plastic, and only have the large 1st rate - if you even want to field one - in resin and maybe the smaller gun boats. But those are so small, that they can be cast as single part models with a mast or so in lead. Rather easy to assemble.

Assembly of the third rates went fast. Cleaning the parts from mould lines was without much of a hassle and that you have a choice for the figureheads and backplates is a nice thing as well. I hope that you can buy the metal figureheads and backplates at some point individually and not just as as part of the fleet sets.

The only thing that actually bothers me about this kit, is the price. 30 GBP for 3 sprues, even if you take in consideration that the additional material is costly, is still a bit much. A tenner per sprue is unusual high for Warlord Games, and the flotilla covers 4 sprues for 20 GBP, so I would have assumed that you pay the same for the 3rd rates squadron.

Black Seas Seas is a brand of Warlord Games.

The reviewed product item was provided by the manufacturer.

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  1. Thanks for showing us the box. The size comparison pic is helpful!


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