Amphibiouz's Guide to Aircraft Carriers
Welcome to my first ever guide! I hope that by visiting this page you will learn how to improve your carrier gameplay or, if you're thinking about getting into carriers, maybe this will put some insight into deciding on which nation to work on. In this guide I will cover all aspects of carrier gameplay, from helping you decide which nation to choose, the differences in the nations, what each nation performs better/worse at, tips and tricks to help you get the edge over your opponents, as well as some expectations before going into a match to get you ahead of your opponent, whether he be skilled or new, there are always ways to tell. Allow me to first welcome you to the carrier community! The carrier community is the smallest among all other classes played in World of Warships and you will find that the majority of carrier players take pride in that, soon you will too! Remember that this journey you are about to take will take longer and often times be tougher than grinding out any other ship tree in the game, but it is also the most rewarding and that is what makes it all worth while. Something to consider before beginning this journey is your personality in gaming. If you enjoy multiple things going on at once, staying busy, always active and paying attention to your surroundings, then this class will be great for you. Carriers are the busiest and most micro-managing class in the game, so make sure your ready to challenge yourself!
Picking a Nation:
Currently there are two nations to choose from when your looking for a carrier to start playing. Both carrier lines will take you from tier 4 to tier 10. The main differences are squadron sizes and frequency of attacks. When making your decision, obviously you can see what ships you like the looks of too! Choosing a ship line is very important because once you start earning experience in your first carrier that experience will apply specifically to the next ship in that tier, so ensuring your 100% positive from the start is going to payoff better in the long run. As appose to changing you mind half way through and having to restart through a different line. The United States Navy (USN) carriers specialize in large squadron sizes, with a greater number of planes per squadron. For example on a tier 10 Midway (USN) you will have 6 torpedo bombers, but they will all be in one squadron and that is your only squadron of torpedo's. In regards to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) it is exactly the opposite. For example on a Hakuryu, you would have up to 3 different squadrons of torpedo bombers, each having 4 torpedo planes per squadrons. When talking in detail about faster reloads of planes ammunition's, its important to remember how many planes total are in each squadron because reload speed is equal to the number of planes per squadron. Just remember that by having more squadrons, it means each squadron has to reload individually as well.
So you may be asking what each nations strengths and weaknesses are. Well, this topic can be seen differently on both sides. Typically the general consensus is that USN has better fighters and a better air superiority loadout (AS). It is also common consensus that IJN carriers have better strike loadout's (S), which means torpedo's and bomber's dealing damage to surface ships. We will get more into the differences of AS and S loadout's when we talk about play style and choosing a loadout section. For now, it is important to think about the type of carrier captain you want to be. Do you want to deal large amounts of damage to enemy ships on the surface of the sea? Do you want to keep the skies clear for your allies and prevent many of the attacks from the enemy carrier? Perhaps you would like a little of both? It is my suggestion to many players to experience both sides of this early on in the tech tree. This way it helps you decide what you want to specialize in by the time you get to high tier gameplay. Not only specialize, but become proficient and good at it! With AS loadout's you will wreck havoc on the enemy planes. You will have more fighters than attack planes in your loadout in order to accomplish this. With S loadout you will have more torpedo's and bomber's at your disposal in order to deal higher amounts of damage to surface ships, and of course there is typically a 3rd modification for a mix style of play.
One thing to consider however between the nation is Anti-Air capabilities on your carrier. Typically USN has better AA. Why do I mention AA on an aircraft carrier? Because there will be many games that the enemy aircraft carrier will try to sink you, right at the beginning of a match. Having good AA capabilities may not be important to you, but it is worth mentioning because each of you may have different considerations, as well as play styles. What about fighter vs fighter considerations? As I previously stated, USN typically has better fighters than IJN and in a one squadron vs one squadron situation USN will win this section, but there is a lot more to it than that. I will discuss, in detail, how to effectively use your fighters in the up-coming sections as well. So if you want to play IJN, but are worried about fighters, stay tuned there is hope! One last thing to consider when making your decision is attack capabilties and micro-managing your squadrons. Remember early, I stated IJN has more squadrons? That is going to play at a advantage or disadvantage, depending on your ability to properly micro-manage your squadrons. If you are comfortable playing with multiple things going on at once, at the same time managing several different groups at the same time, IJN may be the choice for you. Does playing the USN mean that your bad at micro-managing? No, in fact, it can prove to be just as rewarding for the USN. Remember that the IJN carriers have more attacks available, in turn, the USN has to make sure each attack counts. So there is a risk involved on each side. You specifically have to make the decision on the issue you want to face. The choice is yours, take your time, think about it and choose wisely!
Picking a Loadout:
Now that you have made your decision on the Nation that you want to play it is time to pick a loadout that fits your liking. Typically you will find 3 different loadouts per carrier. What is a loudout? A loudout is a term commonly used by the community that means, how many of each type of plane you want equipped on your aircraft carrier. Some loadouts are heavy fighter focused, others are more heavily focused on torpedo's and bomber's. If you like the idea of air to air combat then choosing the fighter loadout is going to best suited for you. It will give you more fighters and squadrons to combat the enemy planes with. Not only that, but it will give you more tools (planes) to prevent attacks made on your allied fleet and your team will truly appreciate you for that. Something to consider before picking a loadout is whether or not you are in a division or if you have been experiencing teams frequently having outstanding AA support. In this case it may be worthwhile going a little heavier on strike, as your team may suffice with regular AA. Especially if your in a division with strong AA ships that will be supporting the fleet. These are things which you should think about before making a decision. Just remember, you can always change your mind later! Below, you will find a chart showing you more specifically what I mean in terms of the differences in loadouts and squad sizes. The first number represents fighters, second number representing torpedo bombers, third number representing dive bombers.
United States Navy (Aircraft Carriers)
Imperial Japanese Navy (Aircraft Carriers)
This section is going to be focused on helping you maximize damage. Whether it be fighter damage or attack damage on enemy ships. I will cover how to defeat AA cruisers, killing multiple planes at once, countering floater planes, and even counter AS loadouts. When you begin your carrier journey the very first thing you should master is the ALT key. This key will allow you to deal damage manually, instead of automatically. By learning this ALT key technique you will see extremely dramatic improvements in your damage output and carrier capabilities. Normally to make an attack on a ship, you simply left click on it and your planes carry out the attack, but we want to get away from that because it is not as effective as manually attacking. To carry out manual attacks, you need to plan ahead, predict the enemies movement, lead, hold the ALT key (on your keyboard) and left click. Whatever nation you chose, whatever loadout you picked, learn to use the ALT key!
Lets move to the obvious ones, like strafing. Strafing is what you do with your fighter planes to enemy planes in combat, by holding your alt key, prior to left clicking. This technique can be extremely effective when tying to kill multiple planes within a specific area. It will take you some time to learn this habit and become proficient at it, but stick with it and remember practice makes perfect. Lets talk next about countering enemy floater planes. Floater planes are commonly referred to as such, because those are the planes launched from surface ships that circle their ship (1 plane typically). There is an easy way to counter this if you plan on making an attack on that specific ship, without losing the ability to manual drop on your target. This specific technique is what you will use on Battleships. You may also use this technique on Cruisers who do not have the defensive fire (DF) ability active. To do this, begin to carry out a regular attack with one of your squadrons. After that squadron has attacked, leave it in the attack area of the surface ship, so the floater plane will stay attached to it. After the floater plane has attached to that spent squadron, carry on with the rest of your attacks manually. Best case scenario, you shoot down the floater plane and do not have to worry about using one of your squadrons as bait.
Your hardest AA targets to hit will be cruisers. Regardless of the Nation of ship, most of them have an ability called Defensive AA Fire Consumable (DF). This ability will cause what is known as a panic spread, basically not letting you manually (ALT) attack. It is extremely effective and takes on part of the role of a defensive floater plane at the same time. This can also be countered with patience and practice. The smart players will wait until your aircraft are directly over them to engage their DF and it will last for approximately 40 seconds. The key is waiting for that to end. Since they used their DF ability, they now have to wait between 120-180 seconds for it to reload. This is your opportunity to attack! Simply use one squadron to bait them into using their DF ability, try to escape with some of your planes surviving in that squadron because they can come back later and ALT attack and still hit the target, even with just 1 plane surviving. After the ability has gone on cooldown, now is the time to attack with full force. If they launch a floater plane, use the technique I taught you above to counter that.
How do you attack destroyers as an aircraft carrier? They are fast, they are extremely maneuverable, and they will be your hardest targets to manually attack. How about we take smoke out of the equation for a moment? A destroyer is full speed currently, moving across the map and you have a torpedo squadron available to attack. Pay attention to the players playstyle, does he keep his bow (front/nose) towards planes or does he keep his stern (rear) to planes? This is important because it will help you predict his movement. When carrying out an attack on a destroyer, you will need to double and triple your typical leads in order to hit the target. Look at the angle your coming from, consider what I stated above about whether he likes to nose in or opposite and put a big lead on him and hit him. Using dive bombers on destroyers is even more different. Typically with bombers you want a verticle axis that runs from the bow of the ship to the stern (same as your manual attack circle). It is directly the opposite with moving destroyers. When manually attacking destroyers, I recommend attacking from the side. The reason for this is because you can predict forward movement pretty easy, but the floating/drifting from side to side as he turns can be more tricky. In summary on the bomb attacks, use ALT key and attack from the side of his ship and plant your circle about 1 destroyers length ahead of him. It is important that you learn the timing on when your bombs actually drop too because there is approximately a 2.5 second delay once your circle goes yellow.
The final tip I want to talk about is how to counter an AS loadout carrier and how to counter a high tier IJN carrier, while you are using an AS loadout. This goes hand in hand with eachother. As previously stated it is extremely important to learn to properly micro-manage your planes, this will help you in the long run. Something to remember before we get into this as well is that once you get to tier 9-10, you will always have at least 1 fighter squadron, regardless of your loadout. You will need to use these fighter squadrons effectively if you plan on using a Strike loadout. So, Amphibiouz, how in the world do you counter an AS loadout carrier, when they have more fighters than you? You outplay him, that is how. Keep in mind, his fighters are going to have to reload at some point and often! Keep that as an advantage to you. When the match starts, begin sending your planes to 3-4 different locations (split them up). Never get in the habit of highlighting all of your squadrons and sending them to the same place. That is a very bad habit that good players will make you pay on. So send your planes all over the map, wait until you see where his fighters are floating/patrolling and avoid them. By keeping your planes separated, your making it extremely difficult for him to keep up, especially if your playing IJN. One player that is very effective at this is Austia and if your playing IJN, I highly suggest you try to find some of his replays to learn how he does it with his planes. Another option besides spreading your planes out is baiting. It is okay to use a squadron, or even 2, as a distraction to the enemy fighters. He will have to choose which side of the map to go and dedicate to that source. It may be worthwhile as well, to reveal a squadron to him so he can see it, in order to get your other squadrons around for an attack. Lastly, your fighters. If your running a strike loadout, learn to use your fighters as traps to your enemy. It is more important that your attack planes land a manual attack than it is for you to kill his planes. It is a race to see who can deal the most damage, don't let him win the race! Use your fighters to engage his, in order to let your attack planes through for a good manual attack.
Listed below you will find several game replays. Keep in mind these are not Epic Gameplay Montage's or edited game files to show one's best games. They are direct game replays, some are better games than others, but it will give you an idea of the UI, aiming, playing field mindset, tactical decisions and leads you need to put on targets. The list will continually be updated, so take your time and watch them if your just getting into carriers. Good luck out there!
http://wowreplays.co...-Essex-Atlantic (double snipe game)
Additional Related Notes:
IJN vs US disparity Thread: http://forum.worldof...d-to-read-this/
WORK IN PROGRESS- I will continue to edit/add to this guide regularly as well as update replays.
Edited by Amphibiouz, 08 May 2016 - 11:33 PM.