A highly flexible and adaptable class of medium warship, the Frigate is built as a rapid support ship, whilst carrying an ample amount of firepower on board for situations that need it and so she is typically classified by little ornamentation and a low poop and forecastle to decrease drag. For a man o' war, a Frigate is substantially cheaper, and will cost far less manpower in comparison to other units.
For this reason, the Frigate is the ship of choice for most admirals, seeking a balance between the heavier but costlier Galleon, and the speed of the weaker but cheaper Galleys and Yachts. If built in sufficient numbers, Frigates can easily overwhelm even heavier vessels such as Ships of the Line, but the immense losses you will need to incur means that you are better off using Fire Vessels to dispose of any larger prey, leaving the rest of your enemy's fleet helpless before the crushing power of your ships. An ideal starting fleet should always countain at least 2-4 Galleons or Heavy Frigates, and at least 6 to 9 Frigates, followed by as many light attack craft as you desire to counter the enemy's light attack craft.
A frigate was a collective term for any ship that was lightly armed, full-masted, and had quick maneuverability, and primarily intended for interception duty and patrol work while holding on to some degree of firepower, in comparison to the.multi-decked ship of the line which were meant to perform fleet actions.
Like the galleon, the frigate has its origins in a variant of Mediterranean galley called a galleass. Whereas the galleon was primarily a galleass built taller and higher for sea combat and with a full rig of sails, the frigate was based off a lighter variant of the galleass known in Italian as a fregata (literally, "sneaker" or "raider"). The fregata or "frigate galley" was slightly taller than most galleys of its day, yet had broadside guns, a more extensive sailplan (early modern western galleys used the triangular lateen as opposed to an all-out square rig design), and was low enough in the water to be rowed.
Even so, it was not until the mid-18th century when the frigate fully evolved from its mediaeval origins as the classic tall ship with the French warship Medée in the 1740s CE. This was a ship with a less pronounced profile (because boarding and melee actions were no longer seen as important as naval gunnery), but packed a more advanced sailplan and was dedicated primarily to the task of waging war. In addition, severely damaged galleons and ships of the line could sometimes be "repaired" and became a variant of frigate known as a razée (French for "cut down", "razed" or "shaved") because a multideck vessel could be renovated, losing all but its lowest gun deck (assuming it was still intact), and the resulting warship would be lighter, yet perhaps larger and stronger than other "frigates". Unsurprisingly, Frigates were often the warship of choice for many of the pirates who terrorised the so-called "Spanish Main" (the waters between Spain and her American empire) and the waters off Africa throughout the 18th century, thanks to their good combination of firepower and mobility. The Concord, now better known as the Queen Anne's Revenge, was one such notorious pirate ship of the frigate class.