The Noble Swan is an intriguing piece. Turtle Ships are generally small, but cheap, and they can seen like great additions to a fleet. The problem is that while they seem super defensive, it doesn't usually work out. The Turtle Ship's ability allows them to take two extra hits before even shooting at her mast, one to hit for her mast, and another to stop her from moving. Despite all that, there's a host of abilities that can bypass this. While Sea Dragons and Scorpion ships are rare enough to not necessarily worry about, nearly any ship can ram a turtle ship to eliminate a mast. So while Turtle Ships might seem like a good support goldship, or gunship, they are still vulnerable to a 5 in 6 chance of losing their only mast.
The Noble Swan, however, is able to avoid the biggest weakness Turtle Ships face, which makes those two extra hits are a good deal for only 6 points. That really makes the Swan really standout from the crowd of turtle ships.
Uses, Strategies and game play:
For a ship like this, she is probably not your first choice. You've got a good idea what you want the centerpiece of your fleet to be, and now you're just filling in points. The Noble Swan is a good, cheap, way to add another ship to your fleet to do a little extra work as a support gold runner, or a support gunship.
If you try to use the Noble Swan for a support goldship, you biggest problem is the 2 cargo. You won't want to add any crew to her. Luckily you should be satisfied with an S+L base movement, and compared to other ships this cheap, her bulk will be able to survive a small scuffle if she gets into trouble.
If you want to use the Noble Swan as a support gunship, you'll have limited options for crew, but you get an extra bulky little canon in fights. Keep the Noble Swan close to the action and she should hopefully be able to score an extra hit or two, while not drawing too much attention to herself. Since it would take so much extra effort to eliminate her one canon, your other ship will probably be drawing most of the enemies' fire.
Combos with other miniatures:
With such a low point cost, there's not many combos to make. Being a filler ship, you're probably only working with the points left over. Finally, being restricted to Jade Crew, limits the selection of abilities she has access to.
If you're using her as a support goldship, you probably won't won't want to use any crew that take up cargo space. Which limits you to Shap-'ng-Tsai and Ms. Cheng(if you include Shap'ng-Tai to link her with). Given the usefulness of their combo to the Jade fleet, however, I'd recommend using those two crew on your primary Gold and/or Gun ship. You'd also be spending 11 points on the Swan. You'll have a fast ship, but when there's ships like the Sea Crane and the Tiger's Breath for less, you're only better of if you don't own those pieces.
If you're running a gunship, after a captain, your options are only oarsman, cannoneer, and musketeer. Maybe an explorer if you want to help a gold ship you're escorting. The choice here will come to what points you have left, and if you want to double down on being defensive. The Oarsman is only good keep your ship from being stolen but a one-masted ship can be repaired quick enough, you might want to consider it. A musketeer after a captain is (relatively) expensive.
Li Quin might seem relatively safe on the Noble Swan as he would be safe from boarding while she still has panels. Once those are gone though, if the Swan fights, he's extra vulnerable, and he might have drawn fire to the Swan. And if placed on a gold ship, he's taking on of the two cargo spaces so, while he seems ideal for it, perhaps he is not actually the best crew for the Swan.
Ways to counteract it:
-Firepots, Swoop attacks, and Scorpions still pose a problem. Firepot Specialists especially as a hit from one of those will take off your mast and a panel.
-A Canceler would allow a ram
-A well equipped fighter or gold ship would always beat her at what she does, but that is why she is here for support.
The only turtle ship that fixes one of the big flaws in the keyword
Good for her nation
Can't be boarded to kill crew, or steal treasure
Only 2 cargo
Crew quickly raise the costs involved
Limited to Jade Crew (No Gentleman Jocard here to raise that cargo limit)
If you opponent constantly uses galleys, your ability is actually a waste and you could have selected another turtle ship
Artwork and aesthetics:
A solid design. Nice looking sails and hull. I personally like when I can use a variety of ship types to offer visual variety in a game, which makes me appreciate ships like this even more. Personally, I tilt the panels to add a little more variety to the side as, otherwise, turtle ships unfortunately lose their details to the blank white sides of the cards they are built from.
For what she is, I'd give the Noble Swan a 7. There's better than her, but she's more than good enough to justify using if you want to keep things varied, especially if you're playing the Jade Rebellion.