It has been a while since the CV rework stream went out and many voices in anger and support of the new system. I have done some analysis and would like to say that I agree that there are problems with the current system that need to be addressed. However, I do not believe the list Wargaming put out is correct nor complete and their reaction is far to drastic for a healthy change as they are replacing one bad system with a worse system.
The list of problems that I have with the current carrier game-play are as follows in no real order:
Battleships, Cruisers, and Destroyers get little information on what their AA guns are doing and if they are being effective. Similarly, current carrier captains get little information about how much AA fire is in coming.
There is more potential damage in one full set of bombers to destroy any ship in the game at least once. I don’t see this as a problem due to the multiple minute reload between strikes. However I think switching to a more accurate strikes and DoT style of gameplay will be worse for the overall balance of the game play.
Currently it is either hundred or nothing for AA fire. Either you kill the aircraft or you don’t. This binary RNG roll I think is the real problem on stream they replaced this with a HP pool and damage output from AA guns. This change is good and should be added to the game regardless of RTS or squadron gameplay.
Currently there are three interactions between AA guns and aircraft: Kill, Miss, “Panic”. I think changing it to: damage, miss, stun, disperse at the minimum would be a better plan. Also giving ships more AA options than just push defensive fire or not would go a long way to help balancing carriers and the other classes.
Most people call this the “skill gap” or reference the skill gap when they talk about what is the skill floor. A skill floor is the minimum amount of player skill required to make the class function. With so much going on and the horrible user interface for carrier captains make carriers much more complicated to pay over other classes. I don’t see this as a draw back but rather a function of making the class work within any sort of historical context. Changing this would either remove the historical basis or make carriers boring due to having a lack of options with only one squad. I would prefer that wargaming work to make it easier for players to learn and understand carriers before throwing them away.
Air to Air
Fighters follow the same AA damage system as AA guns but with a higher efficiency. If the AA gun damage change damage systems so should fighters. My biggest problem with current fighters is the strafe. Historical questionably aside the kill all or nothing makes combat quick and very unforgiving. Removing the strafe damage but allowing the disengage or making it just a speed boost. With changing the aircraft to a more proper damage model keeping it and putting out X amount of damage to any aircraft along the path making the squad easier to shoot down for AA guns or other fighters would be better.
Now a few of these, most notably everything to do with Anti Air is getting addressed with the carrier rework. With more accurate dive bombs AA guns will be at risk as there are clusters of AA guns in easy to predict zones on a ship. Landing a few dive bombs in clusters of AA guns will wreck the AA output of a ship. Rockets look especially good at sweeping the decks of smaller caliper AA guns, those 20mm and 25mm gunners should be shaking in their boots. With these small and often weaker AA mounts being the only assured AA damage destroying them early will be key in the new system, so early rocket runs on everything to set fires and destroy AA mounts will likely become common.
Changing to a less alpha damage aircraft carrier also means that while ships get a chance to counter aircraft carriers it also means that smart aircraft carriers will force ships to either turn to avoid torpedoes or eat battleship AP shells. Likewise giving carriers ease of access to stacking floods isn’t a good idea. Currently flood stacking in a carrier is tricky due to fighters coming to intercept torpedo bombers, surface vessels attempting to evade or form up tighter, and the difficulty to land multiple torpedoes fore or aft of the torpedo bulges. With the attack runs landing two or three torpedoes outside of torpedo protection will be possible if not easy. This would increase the number of floods by a large amount and once the first food is inflected the ship has to use their damage control else they will die to the flood. If they do than the carrier will see the damage tic stop and line up another attack run. With no fighters to interrupt, avoidable AA and precise targeting ships, the second flood is going to happen and the target will die to flooding damage if not finished off by another ship. Dive bombs will be a similar set up but more for the earlier in the game where knocking out AA guns are as important as setting fires and dealing damage so that the torpedo runs latter in the game can have as little resistance as possible.
This leads me to the clear and only way to play the new carriers. Open with a rocket squad, and hose down anything with a lot of AA guns to destroy as many mounts as possible, mid-game switch to HE dive bombs for those more stubborn AA guns and to finish off targets of opportunity. End game is the torpedo bombers as the majority of AA threat should be dead and ships are on low health so the alpha of torpedo bombers will come into play. Stacking floods on targets that are still mostly healthy or that have just finished their damage control cycle.
There are two bigger problems with the current purposed rework. The lack of control over the aircraft carrier and the lack of fighters. With no direct control over the ship it self the aircraft carrier now becomes a large target for hostile gunnery. Unless there is no flood or fire allowed on carriers after the new system comes in they will burn or flood to death very quickly, similarly evading long range shots or torpedoes from any range will become impossible making carriers even larger damage piñatas. The lack of fighters is also a huge hindrance to any team fighting an aircraft carrier. There is the mentioned fighter consumable but with out any real control over it the fighters having to be proactively placed and could be circumvented or waited out I feel that they will be as useless as the current catapult fighter at best.
In conclusion I would like to purpose a hybrid between the current RTS system and the rework system. It would consist of three main things. The first is dropping in that new AA system as it looks good on all fronts. Secondly, I would replace the manual drop with the attack run. Thirdly I would make each carrier a X/1/1/Y load out with a variable number of fighters, one torpedo bomber squad, one dive bomber squad and some number of rocket squads depending upon how they end up working, however I think one of them would be standard. All of these squads would be able to be in the air at once able to set waypoints and targets like in the current system however the auto drop would be a repeated attack run on the target by the squad. With the aircraft that are not in the current wave retreating automatically and loosing all spotting abilities. Fighters would be able to be deployed proactively and controlled to react to incoming threats however they could only spot aircraft or ships actively firing their main battery guns or shooting at them with AA. Meaning that if a DD wants to evade the fighter squad over head he just has to turn off his AA guns and stop shooting. This makes fighters the dedicated Air to Air weapons they were. Now I understand this hybridization would need more discussion and evaluation before making it to testing I think it would be a better version of carriers than currently purposed or implemented. I will likely be fleshing out the idea a bit and making another thread on that topic.