|Unit type||War boat|
|Line of sight|
Pack an old ship or bind up a large hunk of flotsam with enough combustible material, set it alight, and pray that it floats into a vast concentration of enemy timber — that is the quintessental tactical thought behind the Fire Raft. As most ships are built from Timber, it thus makes sense to use fire to burn and sink them, before the unsuspecting crews can come to their senses.Enemy ships will take heavy damage or are destroyed should they come in contact with this unit. Fire Rafts are highly effective against Heavy Ships, Super-Heavy Ships and Flagships, but do little damage against smaller vessels, particularly Liburnae or Pontones against Medium Ships, their results are more mixed.
Because of her weak hitpoints and rather slow speed (as fast as most medium craft) the Fire Raft is better off as a defensive weapon to be used against an incoming enemy fleet, or one which is set to reduce one's fortifications. Additionally, Fire Rafts, unlike other units, cannot be selected by clicking on them (since they have no crews on board) so the best you can do is to keep your Fire Rafts garrisoned away in a Dock, and release them when the opportune moment comes. In some cases, you can easily seize the waves if you have sufficient numbers of light ships, as then the Fire Rafts can be used to sink the larger warships, leaving your surviving vessels to then ravage the enemy fleet and coastline.
Because ships were built primarily of combustible materials (wood, cloth, hemp, and pitch), fire was a devastating weapon against them. The simplest way to set ships on fire was to fire flaming arrows or ballista bolts on an enemy ship, but choppy seas sometimes meant that aiming was difficult.
A more radical solution thus lay in the use of old warships, decked out with combustible materials, and sent to drift into the enemy fleet, with the hope of hitting at least one or two and setting them ablaze. Ships of this sort would normally be fairly large ships capable of carrying sufficient combustible materials, such as wood and old rags as well as chemicals such as oil, bitumen and sulphur to help maintain the combustive process during the course of the vessel's final voyage.
This method of attack was used by the Syracusians against the Athenian Expedition of 415-13BCE in an attempt to defend themselves, but the Athenian sailors were able to spot the fire ship used, and put out the conflagration in time. In contrast, however, the Tyrians were able to successively use fire ships to destroy the siegeworks being built by Alexander the Great during his investment of their island-city in 332BCE, but this only resulted in retaliatory measures — Alexander then sent the Greek fleet to blockade the isle, preventing any more Fire Ships from being built, and subsequently exacted harsh reprisals on the inhabitants once the city fell.