This frigate is the largest design of the type, and the relatively heavy 18-pounders it carries balance both firepower and reasonable accuracy. Against another frigate, the 38 is a dangerous opponent, but in close combat against a ship-of-the-line it is outmatched: like all frigates, it has been built for speed, not hull strength. In battle against a powerful enemy the best strategy is to keep out of range, and choose when and where to engage, taking advantage of the fact that the crew can reload the 18-pounders relatively quickly.
Historically, frigates were usually involved in single-ship actions, against other frigates rather than set-piece fleet battles involving ships-of-the-line. In fact, it was seen as ungentlemanly for a ship-of-the-line to fire upon a frigate, unless the frigate fired first. In such a case, the frigate captain had shown that he was ready for a fight that he was unlikely to win. This was not the only quirky rule of naval combat in the period. It was common to “clear for action” and put the captain’s furniture in a ship’s boat that was towed during any fight. It was considered very unsporting for an enemy to shoot at a captain’s private property!