Part 79: Q&A - February 13
Empire Total War: The Second 80 Years War quick online Q&A
Q: How did the rating system for ships change over time as ships grew larger?
A: The rating system based on cannons wasn't invented until the early 1700s, which meant the sizes of the various ships was mostly solidified by the time it came about. The criteria was altered slightly at times, for example, the dependence on the number of decks or crew were dropped, and the definition of "cannon" kept changing to include or disclude specific types of cannon. The actual cannon volume in a given ship was altered only very slightly, so it wasn't necessarily true that a ship would drop a rating due to changes to the system, especially as the increase to the required number of cannon was complimented by an increase in the number of qualifying cannon. For consistency sake, we are using the 1804 British rating system where for starters, a first rate ship of the line must have one hundred or more cannon including carronade.
More common was taking a rate of ship and changing the classification. A fourth rate was originally considered a ship of the line, but as ships universally increased their ability to withstand and present fire, fourth rates were downgraded to frigates. Despite that, the requirement of fourty-six to sixty cannon had not changed.