Aoba was one of my favorite cruisers to play with and is one of my best ships stat-wise. She's incredibly flexible as a heavy cruiser and has the potential to hurt just about anything except CV squads because of poor Japanese AA. To answer your questions: 1. Is she Tanky? Not at all, Aoba is incredibly squishy and will melt with close range fire. She can be a front-line ship, but not in the way that is traditionally thought of. 2. What range is best to fight at? Within 11-14 km, optimally. As an IJN cruiser you have two key advantages, stealthiness (~10.5 km surface detection iirc with camo and CE), and a relatively slim hull. As a result you have the ability to pop in and out of stealth while kiting away to be a huge thorn in the side of an enemy team pushing up a flank. A good strategy is to push deep into an enemy flank, close up to within about 12km of the nearest enemy ship while remaining undetected before starting to turn away, and shooting when flat broadside. Showing your broadside will at such a close range will, obviously, attract the attention of every big gun in the general vicinity; but by the time they notice and get their guns trained on you, you're already pointed away from them and using your excellent turret angles to sling HE into whatever happens to be standing in your way. With good use of rudder you should be able to dodge most salvos and be able to take some of the heat off your team, if only for a little while. If a few hits are starting to land home and the heat is too much, just stop shooting and use that excellent concealment to disappear, reposition, and start again. This is a key tactic with any IJN cruiser and is a trait unique to the line, but it is especially easy with Aoba as, although she only has three guns, only her and Furutaka have good gun angles that allow you to fire all of your guns while remaining fairly angled. DDs (and very occasionally, radar) can spoil this by permaspotting you, so make sure you know relatively where they all are before you try it. I would highly recommend the Shot Timer mod from Aslain's Modpack as it starts a 20 second timer every time you fire your guns, which is the time it takes for the concealment penalty from firing to wear off. 3. Is she a DD hunter or Cruiser fighter? She is capable of doing both, although she is a better DD hunter than a cruiser killer as her AP is rather lacking. Above all, however, she is fantastic at burning down BBs with excellent HE alpha and a base fire chance of 17% per shell, which can be bumped up to a whopping 21% per shell with DE and flags. On top of that, Aoba has the best reload of any IJN CA with a 10 second base reload, a feature which is sorely missed for the remainder of the line. Be sure to never engage BBs in a prolonged gun fight and always kite away rather than charging directly at them, by kiting you give yourself the option of disengaging if it goes sour. Of course, her weak armor scheme means that HE to your rear end will sometimes mean your rudder will get knocked out (take propulsion protection instead of DC in the slot 2 upgrade), and she will regularly eat penetrations from overmatching BB AP and even the occasional lolpen citadel from the rear, so know when to tap out and disappear. 4. I have 10 pt Captain. What skills? Pretty much what other people have suggested: PT, EM, DE, CE with the first 10 Take SI (for repair party in later tiers) and AR after in that order. You very well could take AR instead of EM for the second skill if you want to buff late-game DPM, but personally Aoba's high rof for an IJN cruiser is already good enough.