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Premium Ship Review - Z-35
LittleWhiteMouse posted a topic in General Game DiscussionThe following is a review of the German premium destroyer Z-35. She was provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes at no cost to me. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as of patch 0.9.11. Please be aware that her performance may change in the future. The Type 1936B destroyers bear a cursory resemblance to the American Fletcher-class. Tthe German and American ships are both large destroyers with five (roughly) five-inch guns in single turrets and two torpedo launchers, with Z-44 duplicating the quintuple mounts of the Fletcher-class while Z-35 makes do with quadruple mounts instead. However, the Type 1936B-sisters do not share the versatility of the American Fletchers, instead opting to specialize heavy towards a singular aspect. In Z-35's case, her strengths are so straight forward and unassuming, they''re easy to miss. Her smoke reloads quickly. Her guns fire 0.6 seconds faster than they should. That's it. That's Z-35. But these two things matter and they matter more than you might imagine as you'll see. Quick Summary: A heavy German gunship destroyer with five, rapid-firing 128mm guns but short-ranged torpedoes. She comes with a British destroyer Short-Burst Smoke Generator and a German destroyer Hydroacoustic Search. PROS Good chunk of hit points at 19,100hp. Good forward firing arcs. High DPM, especially with her AP shells. Boasts 32mm of HE penetration even before Inertial Fuse for HE Shells. Decent fire setting. Has a British destroyer Short-Burst Smoke Generator with lots of charges and a short reset timer. CONS Very (VERY) commander-skill hungry. Short ranged torpedoes. Slow turret traverse rates and poor rearward firing arcs. Sluggish rate of turn and large turning radius. Short-ranged AA firepower with no flak. Large surface detection range. No access to an Engine Boost consumable, limiting her top speed. Has a British destroyer Short-Burst Smoke Generator where her individual smoke clouds do not last very long. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / DIFFICULT Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH/ Extreme Of the two Type 1936B destroyers, Z-35 is the less inexperienced-player-friendly of the pair. She's fat, she's not as fast, and using her weapon systems at the wrong time will get you spotted and killed. She doesn't scout well. She's too easily spotted trying to take cap circles and she's not agile (or fast) enough to book it out of Dodge when things go pear shaped. Her huge chunk of health evaporates fast during these missteps. Oh, and carriers just love to chew on you. For veterans, Z-35 ticks the usual German destroyer boxes but with some British-destroyer flavour added in. The fast cool-down of her Short-Burst Smoke Generator opens the door to some slippery shenanigans that can infuriate your opponents. Good map knowledge and knowing which islands you can use to bombard enemies from cover helps immeasurably and saves those precious smoke charges. Finally, while difficult, it's possible to use her as a forward scout, providing vision for your team and screening for enemy destroyers. Options Consumables There are two items of note here. The first is Z-35's Smoke Generator. The second is her lack of an Engine Boost consumable. Her Damage Control Party is standard for a destroyer. This has unlimited charges, a 5 second active period and a 40 second reset timer. Z-35 borrows a Short-Burst Smoke Generator from the British tech tree destroyers. This has 6 charges and only a 70 second reset timer. However, it only generates smoke for 10 seconds and each cloud lasts a mere 40 seconds. Like with British destroyers, the individual smoke clouds generated have larger dimensions than normal smoke (600m instead of 450m). The Hydroacoustic Search she mounts in her final slot is standard for a tier VIII German destroyer. It's active for 100 seconds and over that time it spots torpedoes at 3.5km and enemy ships at 5.0km. It starts with three charges and has a 120 second reset timer. Upgrades In your first slot, Main Armaments Modification 1 is optimal. However, if the thought of being detonated incenses you (and you do not have a ready stock of Juliet Charlie signals), then you can take Magazine Modification 1. The Special Upgrade, Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 is best in slot two if you can afford it. It will set you back 17,000 from the Armory and will increase the consumable's action time from 100 seconds to 120 seconds. If that's not available to you, default to Engine Room Protection. I recommend Main Battery Modification 2 in her second slot to improve her gun handling. This will increase her gun rotation rate from 8º/s to 9.2º/s (up to 11.7º/s if you also add Expert Marksman). Otherwise default to Aiming System Modification 1. Propulsion System Modification 1 is your best choice in slot four. Z-35's Short Burst Smoke Generator does not generate many clouds so you have a lot less room to hide in. Improved acceleration is recommended.. If you prefer a more open-water style of play, then Steering Gears Modification 1 is better. To no one's surprise, Concealment System Modification 1 is still optimal in slot five. Steering Gears Modification 2 is a poor substitute but it has some (minor) viability when paired with Steering Gears Modification 1. Commander Skills After taking the mandatory survivability skills, prioritize skills hat will improve or facilitate Z-35's gunnery. Start with your choice of tier 1 skills. I prefer Priority Target but Preventative Maintenance and Incoming Fire Alert are reasonable choices. If you end up with 1 skill point leftover at the end, do not double up on Priority Target & Incoming Fire Alert -- always pair them with Preventative Maintenance instead. Next, grab the three skills highlighted with yellow circles: Last Stand, Survivability Expert and Concealment Expert. These are the mandatory destroyer skills that should be present on all of your lolibote commanders. After this, pick any of the red-square skills to your taste. Basic Fire Training should be considered all but mandatory but in the end it's up to you. There are lots of different viable builds for Z-35 and there simply are not enough commander skill points to go around. Finding what works for you may take some experimentation. She reminds me very much of HMCS Haida in this way. I found Radio Location to be especially helpful in Z-35. She's often out-spotted by enemy destroyers so this at least helps give a vector towards the skulking little monster. Camouflage Z-35 comes with Type 10 Camouflage providing the usual tier VIII premium-ship bonuses of: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -10% to post-battle service costs. +50% to experience gains. I'm not a fan of either of Z-35's camo palettes. They look dull and dingy. Firepower Main Battery: Five 128mm guns in 5x1 turrets in an A-B-P-X-Y superfiring configuration Torpedoes: Eight torpedo tubes in 2x4 launchers mounted ahead and behind the rear funnel. Z-35's forward torpedo launcher has a 40º to 119º arc off each side (79º total). Her rear launcher has a 41º to 129º arc (88º total). Yes, her arcs are slightly better than Z-44's. That will be a running theme. Forgettable Fish Let's start with Z-35's torpedoes because they're largely a non-entity. This is owing to the combination of their short range (6km) and Z-35's limited concealment (6.11km minimum surface detection range). Short of using smoke, island-cover or racing ahead of a fast-moving target to dump fish in their path, Z-35 is not launching her torpedoes from stealth. This largely limits them to a weapon of desperation -- either yours or the enemy's. These torpedoes clone those found on Z-44 save for range and reload. Z-35's 90 second timer is about what you would expect for a quadruple launcher and echoes the reload on other German destroyers like Z-39, Z-23 and Z-46. Part and parcel of this cloning was the anemic warheads found on Z-44's fish. To put down a full health battleship, you'll need both launchers, so don't skimp out. Overall, these weapons are largely forgettable. They are just too short ranged to make regular use out of them, though it's always exciting when you do. Great Things About Her Guns Z-35 is armed with five of the German 128mm/45 guns. These weapons are the same guns you first take up at tier VI T-61 and Ernst Gaede. They are defined by their excellent AP shell damage which is comparable to a 152mm round fired from a light cruiser. This improved AP damage comes at the expense of that of her HE shells which are downright wussy by comparison. While AP shells always deal more damagethan HE for all ships, the ratio here is a 2:1 difference which is really high. Nost range from about 1.4 to 1 (IJN 100mm, Soviet DDs) down to around 1.2:1 (American & Pan Asian destroyers) with some extremes going lower still. Thus, it's to Z-35's advantage to make use of her AP shells whenever possible, though that's seldom straight forward. The issue is two fold. Both problems boil down to the maximum and minimum amount of armour Z-35's AP shells are effective against. First, they're lacking in penetration even for a destroyer. She can't even managing to best 100mm of steel at 5km. On the flip side of things, her AP shells still need to strike a minimum armour value in order to properly fuse -- 21mm to be exact. Without hitting that her shells simply overpenetrate and her damage output drops below that of her HE shells. Thus her AP shells exist in this narrow band of utility. They don't have enough penetration to citadel cruisers (except in very extreme cases) and their fuses aren't sensitive enough to properly arm on the broadside of destroyer hulls or battleship superstructures. There's no helping the former short of getting suicidally close -- and at those ranges, your fish are a better option anyway. The latter can be worked around. Good ol' Pythagoras tells us that the 19mm worth of plate found on high-tier destroyer hulls and battleship superstructures becomes 21mm thick when angled at approximately 35º from the perpendicular (lower tiered destroyers and battleships necessitate even steeper angles). So switch over to her AP shells as enemies begin nosing in. Just make sure to switch back to HE if they angle in too steeply or show broadside again. Though Z-35's HE shells are anemic on damage per hit, they have excellent HE penetration. She's able to penetrate up to 32mm of steel right out of the package which allows her to direcly damage the extremities (and some hulls) of tier VIII+ battleships. Few other destroyers can manage this and those that can have to rely upon using the Inertial Fuse for HE Shells skill which damages their fire-setting. This means against those big ol' thunderchunkers, Z-35 tends to do more damage on per hit basis that contemporary destroyers despite the deficit on damage per shell as hits that stray from their superstructures still have a chance of dealing damage. Thus she can still farm some numbers while attempting to spread fires on the other sections of the hull. It is worth noting that once a hull section is blackened, switch back to AP shells even if they will overpenetrate. A saturated (0.165x) HE hit from Z-35's guns does 248 damage while an overpenetration from her AP shells does 300. There is a lot of this jockeying back and forth to keep Z-35's damage output optimal. Where Z-35 stands apart from other German destroyers is her rate of fire. She doesn't have the usual 4 second reload -- instead her's is only 3.4 seconds. A 0.6 second difference may not seem like much but it's a 15% increase to her rate of fire. With her five guns, Z-35 puts out 88 rounds per minute, allowing her to keep up to but not quite match Z-46's and Z-52's six-gun, 4 second reload with 90 rounds per minute (at least until they equip Main Battery Modification 3 and leave Z-35 in the dust). So it's fair to say that Z-35 has almost tier IX gun damage. Let's call it tier VIII+. Look up, look waaaay up and welcome to Z-35's castle made of excellent AP performance. Her HE DPM isn't bad which is surprising given the lacluster damage of her individual shells. A Little Bit Pear Shaped... There are three ... well, let's call them "soft problems" with Z-35's guns. They're not crippling flaws by any means, but they are problems you'll have to address in order to make this ship perform. This first is their ballistics. German 128mm/45 guns have comparable ballistics to British 113mm/45 guns found on Jutland and Daring. This is better than the American 127mm/38 trebuchets but just slightly worse than the 120mm Bofors found on the Pan European destroyers like Frielsand. There are three shell flight time incriments I like to look at when I'm analyzing a ship: Four seconds, eight seconds and twelve seconds. Four seconds is about the maximum lead time that I can confidently bullseye a fast moving, evasive target like a destroyer with (almost) every shot regardless of how they throw themselves about. Z-35's shells reach 6.5km or so in 4 seconds. Inside of this mark is her ideal knife-fighting range. An eight second lead time is that sweet spot for standard engagement distances. Most of my shells will hit, even if the target is under manoevres. But with this much shell flight time, active dodging becomes an issue and hits are not guaranteed. For Z-35 an 8 second lead time takes her to 10.5km. This is the distance she can comfortably spray down cruisers and battleships from cover. Once I hit a twelve second lead, I'm really only going to hit the target if they're moving predictably and even then I might have to range in a few shells before connecting. For Z-35, this is only reached if you use the Advanced Fire Training (AFT) commander skill to let her reach this 13.5km distance. This is the upper limit of where she's effective so generally speaking, you can do without boosting her range and just stick with her base 12.12km reach. AFT gives her a maximum reach of 14.54km but that's just wasted space she can't effectively use as it takes her shells over 13 seconds to reach this distance. The second issue Z-35's guns face is gun traverse rates. 8º/s is alright but at full speed, she turns at just over 7º/s. When guns traverse this slowly relative to their ship rate of turn, the temptation becomes to use the rudder to keep guns on target. Dodging gets sacrificed to maintain a rate of fire. This can (and will) get you killed on occasion. Between the Expert Marksman commander skill and Main Battery Modification 2 upgrade, Z-35's gun handling improves from 8º/s to 11.7º/s. It's still not ideal (I would prefer 12º+ for a dedicated gunship) but it can be made to work. Such a build is expensive, however, especially for a ship that's already starved for commander skills. Mitigating this issue requires a lot of forethought in planning your angles of attack. I'm an impulsive idiot, though, so I've found upping my gun rotation rate works better for me. The final piece of the puzzle is her fire arcs -- specifically her rearward firing arcs. Forward, they're gorgeous, with only her Y-turret being a bit of a loser, failing the manage my covetted 30º off the bow fire angle. Four of her guns can manage 25º, just like Z-44, which is super comfy. Rearward things get bad. Her two forward turrets can only engage targets 54º off her stern which is horrible. Engaging with these turrets makes Z-35 an easy target for return fire which will get you mauled in short order. Sacrifcing two turrets in order to kite effectively is a poor trade, especially in knife fighting situations against other lolibotes. She is much better on the attack than on the defensive -- keep that in mind when setting up your attack runs. Z-35 has much better fire arcs than her sister, Z-44 with slightly better arcs on A & B turret but MUCH better arcs on Y. Z-35 has excellent forward fire arcs but pretty crappy to the rear. Her gun rotation of 8º/s is pretty bad, though. Practical Application Making the most out of Z-35 is all about exercising patience. She's too fat to contest a cap circle in the opening minutes of a match. As soon as there's opposition and they have any kind of support, she needs to vacate. During the opening minutes of the match, Z-35's gunnery is best used sparingly. What she's looking for are easy targets to hose down with a mix of HE and AP shells while avoiding reprisals from radar cruisers and carriers. Shooting and scooting from behind islands and smoke cover is her bread and butter until things begin thinning out. Only then, with her hit points preserved, can she begin hunting down lolibotes, where she can out-trade them with her rapid-fire guns and large hit point pool. The modest damage destroyers generate against larger targets belies it's efficacy in turning the outcome of a game. It's intimidating and frustrating to be hosed down from an angry smoke cloud or island. Light a fire or two and most battleships will give up the fight, even if you've only scratched their paint up until this point. Picking on cruisers, especially ones that can't heal, is riskier given the possibilities of Surveillance Radar or simply using their faster-reloading guns to take enterprising shots into your smoke. Still, the rewards are great if you can pull it off, especially against cruisers that can't heal. But it's ambushing destroyers where she really shines -- especially when she can make use of her Hydroacoustic Search to flush them out at close range and tear them apart in short order with her rapid-fire guns. That's always so satisfying. Fully upgraded toward setting blazes, Z-35 is a respectable fire setter. That's not something you can say about her tier IX counterpart, Z-44. VERDICT: Great guns. Crappy fish. Durability Hit Points: 19,100 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 19mm / 13mm / 19mm / 19mm In a straight up fight, Z-35's glut of hit points is bloody intimidating. Combined with the high DPM, she'll come out the better in most trades, even with most of the same-tier gunships. It's only in a protracted engagement, over the course of many minutes that she falls behind those destroyers equipped with a Repair Party. Similarly, this advantage in hit points falls away when up against higher tiered opponents with their larger hit point pools and even more efficient heals. The solution is, of course, to put those little bastards down quickly making optimal use of her AP and HE shells. However, given Z-35's shoddy ballistics and modest speed (see below), encounters with other destroyers are seldom decisive. She's too fat to get close barring the enemies already hiding in their smoke. Her ballistics are too floaty to guarantee hits at range and her ammunition too temperamental. Thus it becomes a case of spending her hit points wisely in such encounters and keeping in mind that some ships will claw back the health you've taken from them... which unfair as you totally went out of your way to steal those hit points in the first place. These graphs are getting a little too cluttered. I think I'm going to have to start paring them down and only selecting a few key ships. Agility Top Speed: 36.5kts Turning Radius: 670m Rudder Shift Time: 4.4s 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 7.1º/s at 30.8kts And here, Z-35 doesn't fare so well ... This is a shame, because it had been pretty good up until this point. The disappointment she creates here isn't owing to a single thing but rather all of them working in combination. Her top speed is decent. 36.5 knots is more than reasonable. She's certainly not competing with the likes of the Soviet and French speed demons, but that's not a flaw in of itself. Her rudder shift time is fine. It could be better but it's not terrible. And finally, her turning circle radius is a bit on the large side, but alone isn't enough to damn her. But when you put this together, Z-35 handles like a fat, ill-tempered duck. She's anything but nimble and she ends up feeling more like an agile light cruiser than a destroyer. She can wiggle and dodge, sure, but it's not as comfortable as other destroyers. Her 7.1º/s rate of turn is close to that found on cruisers like Perth and Murmansk. Things get weirder when you look at her consumables. When I saw Z-35 had a Short-Burst Exhaust Smoke Generator, I got excited that we might see a German destroyer with British destroyer energy preservation -- you know, to facilitate stopping and starting in her tiny smoke screens. Well, a simple twirling test dismissed that notion. Then I thought, perhaps she will have improved acceleration. To this end, I compared her to Farragut, the tier VI American tech-tree destroyer that shares the same top speed. But Farragut reaches 36.5 knots a full second faster than Z-35, so that didn't pan out either. The last thing I checked was if Z-35 stopped faster (cuz I dunno, maybe it was a thing to help with braking into her own smoke?). Again Farragut achieves this a full second faster. The only thing these tests confirmed was that Z-35 is a chonker and she does have any special agility gimmicks. Taking Propulsion Modification 1 is thus highly recommended. It's the only extra grunt you'll get in her engines short of equipping a Sierra Mike signal. What Z-35 does have is an agility deficit and this goes beyond her modest-to-poor base stats. Without access to an Engine Boost consumable, she doesn't have that on-demand speed that's so helpful for destroyers for extracting themselves from bad situations (to say nothing of capitalizing on opportunities). Functionally, this reduces her flexibility to that of the Japanese torpedo-boats of this tier. Anything else can, with the touch of a button, out-strip her in straight-line speed. This limits Z-35's ability to control engagement distances. This, on top of her rearward fire-angle woes makes her a very poor choice when it comes to kiting opponents. Z-35 can gun but her run needs a lot of work. Pretty crappy. At least Z-35 isn't ducky-bad. VERDICT: Forget any hidden agility bonuses. She's as bare bones as she looks and she looks chonky. Anti-Aircraft Defence Medium Ranged (up to 3.5km): 122.5dps at 100% accuracy (122.5dps) Short Ranged (up to 2.0km): 42dps at 95% accuracy (39.9dps) I crack the joke in my Z-44 review that all she can do is Just Dodge™. I thought it worth explaining why I'm generally dismissive of most destroyer AA defence. It comes down to two main reasons: They don't generate enough DPS. It's against their best interest to keep their longer-ranged AA batteries active until the last minute. The first one is pretty obvious. If you're not doing enough damage to shoot down so much as a single plane, there's nothing stopping the carrier from coming back again and again. Even if a destroyer does have enough DPS to shoot down an aircraft, they have to do so at a rate that taxes the regeneration of the carrier significantly or the carrier can simply absorb the losses and (once again) keep coming back. This problem compounds with destroyers keeping their AA disabled. Because of their only modest AA values relative to the hit points of individual aircraft, their best defence is to remain unspotted for as long as possible. To this end, destroyers will only activate their AA guns when planes wander into their aerial detection range. This further reduces the amount of time they have to shoot down aircraft. For example, to shoot down just one upgraded (health + armour) F4F Wildcat from a tier VI Ranger's attack-aircraft squadron, Z-35 needs anywhere between 4 seconds (absolute best circumstances with perfectly timed focus fire against a full-sized squadron) and 9.2 seconds (just base DPS, no focus fire) to shoot down one (1) aircraft assuming all of her guns are in range and intact. Things get worse when you face tier VIII and tier X aircraft. And that's the other thing, with Z-35's AA firepower based on medium and small calibre mounts, even a cursory smattering of HE damage will break many, if not most, of these weapons. A single HE rocket strike facilitates any follow up strikes. It gets easier and easier for the carrier the more damage she does. The only way to succeed here is not to get engaged at all. In order to stand a reasonable chance of discouraging predation, your little destroyer has to be shooting down three or more aircraft per squadron and that's largely beyond the capabilities of most tier VIII destroyers. Z-35 isn't the DPS front-runner. So Just Dodge™. You might shoot a few planes down. They will probably be summoned fighters. But don't kid yourself to think you have anywhere near enough AA protection to make a carrier think twice. Even the best performing AA-destroyers at this tier struggle, to say nothing of the rest of the plebes. VERDICT: Just Dodge™. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 7.92km / 6.22km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 3.7km / 3.0km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 2.99km Maximum Firing Range: From 12.12km to 14.54km Fat Z-35 is one heckin' chonker. To other ships, she's spotted just as easily as Z-23 and Harugumo. You're not sneaking up on much of anything. On the occasion the enemy lolibote doesn't spot you first, the margin of distance between your surface detection and that of your enemy is so small that you'll scracely have the reaction time to capitalize upon it. It's only the ships out there with the worst concealment that she can effectively out-spot and keep lit without giving herself away, assuming you went with a full concealment build. The list of ships she outspots by a distance by 400m or more is painfully short. Le Terrible (+430m) Mahan (+450m) Aigle, Guépard, Maass, Minsk, Blyskawica, Udaloi (+540m) Marceau (+760m Kiev (+850m) Paolo Emilio (+910m) Tashkent (+1,170m) Mogador (+1,280m) Kléber (+1,540m) Khabarovsk (+1,640m). You'll note that many of these ships include those that can exceed 40 knots. Even if Z-35 spots them first, there's no guarantee she can effectively play keep away if they're trying to sniff her out. Similarly, when Z-35 is detected first, she's not guaranteed to have enough speed to be able to run down those that are lighting her. She is generally ill-suited to hunting down destroyers for this reason., at least without a lot of help. Taking Radio Location as a commander skill is highly recommended as it lets you know the vector towards the nearest ship. This will, at times, allow you to plot more effective intercepts, especially with working map knowledge and how enemy destroyers like to take advantage of different locations. It also helps with using her other consumables efficiently, warning when using her Short-Burst Smoke Generator or Hydroacoustic Search are best held on standby. There are only ever bandaid solutions to correct for Z-35's large surface detection. Patience, caution, Radio Location all help but they're not a perfect fix. Keep this flaw in mind. Squid Ink Thankfully, Z-35 will (almost) always have her Short-Burst Smoke Generator on hand. The reload of this consumable is very short -- 70 seconds from the last smoke cloud's discharge. The delay between Z-35's last smoke cloud being issued and the consumable coming off cool-down is a mere 20 seconds. This can be further reduced with signals and commander skills, dropping the delay down to just 13.2 seconds (63.2 second reset timer) allowing Z-35 to become especially slippery. While her individual cloud may last only 40 seconds, the value of (almost) always having her smoke ready again when she needs it cannot be underestimated. It's this consumable which "fixes" her bad concealment. It also helps keep her alive with her smoke not allowing her to stay parked in one place for long without being spotted again. This can (and will) frustrate enemy torpedoes launched from long range to try and flush you out, sparing you some use of your Hydroacoustic Search. Gunning from smoke is Z-35's bread and butter, though efforts should be made to spare its use when possible. Assuming it takes Z-35 two minutes to make initial contact from the start of the match, she can blow through all six of her intiial smoke charges by the 10-minute mark of the game. It's surprisingly easy to run out. Superintendent helps, of course, but you can spare yourself the three commander skill points by having a list of islands in your head that you know you can make ready use, allowing you to bomabard enemies from relative safety. This can always be supplemented with a squirt of smoke if the firing angles change. Not a Cheese-Eating Surrender-Monkey With her great smoke and her poor concealment and awful kiting fire-angles, she is not well suited to blasting enemies from open water. As lolibotes go, Z-35 is a pretty damn easy target to bullseye for cruisers and battleships, even when she's attempting to make herself wiggly. Her (relatively) short engagement distances compound this. Her 36.5 knot top speed, her 7.1º/s rotation rate and her inflexible gun arcs means that her movements are limited and often predictable. A Z-35 that starts blasting out in the open is asking for trouble and is usually forced to squirt smoke to bail herself out when enemies start looking her way. Granted, this can be a pro teamplay move in order to distract the Reds but it's generally lumped in the "not a good idea" or "get yourself sent back to port stupidly fast" category of thought-processes. Stick to island cover. Use your smoke. Success & Lolibote Hugs Z-35 generally espouses standard German destroyer game-play because of her concealment woes. Don't push cap circles too early. Bombard targets from smoke. And, when opportunity permits, push on any destroyers hiding in smoke to flush them out with her powerful Hydroacoustic Search. This is, in my opinion, Z-35 at her most rewarding -- catching enemy destroyers unawares and ripping them apart with a hail of her rapid-fire 128mm weapons. Her awesome forward fire angles make this so heckin' comfortable. So long as you time your approach right and use their own smoke to prevent her friends from seeing you once you've finally got them lit, the pay-off is huge. You can then "borrow" their smoke afterwards and put shells in their friend's faces if there's any within reach, or simply go back and cap now that the enemy destroyer screen is thinned out. Z-35's stealth game is very nuanced. She's ill-suited to taking big risks, being (generally) unable to run if things go pear shaped (and they will). But, with careful husbandry of her vision control assets and some general patience for finding the right opportunities, she plays a mean game. Z=35 may have crappy stealth but she has good vision control. Getting the most out of it comes is locked behind a pretty high skill wall, making her unfriendly towards new players. But in the right hands, she's a beast. Island? Check. Enemy battleship inside of 11km? Check. Smoke at the ready? Check. This is Z-35 101. VERDICT: Far better than her crappy surface detection range would suggest. Final Evaluation I don't think I could have been any more dismissive of Z-35 if I tried. A big, fat German gunship with useless torpedoes? How boring. Why would anyone want to spend money on this thing when they could get something novel like T-61 or T-44? The simple answer is reliability. Z-35 is a workhorse. She's no show-pony. There's no glitz, no glamour. There's no fancy gimmicks. Hell , I even overlooked the quirk of her Smoke Generator on my first couple of play throughs. It wasn't until I noticed that it always seemed to be at the ready that I clued in (you would have thought the different icon would have tipped me off, but I'm an idiot, what can I say?). Z-35 is simply effective. That is not something you can say about her sister, Z-44, whose fortunes largely hinge upon the stupidity of her opponents. She's analogous to (and largely performs a similar role) to the IJN Ducky Botes like Akizuki, Kitakaze and Harugumo. It's hard to argue against their efficacy. Now being effective doesn't necessarily translate to being fun. A ship being good goes a long way towards that, let's not kid ourselves, and Z-35 definitely has one foot in the stirrups there. Where this ship excels, what truly makes her special, is how much control she gives to the player. Success with Z-35 doesn't hinge on having good team mates. She can do her own spotting even in her own smoke, picking on battleships made visible by the blast of their own guns. She's not beholden to there being gaps in the enemy lines in order to farm damage the way Z-44 and other torpedo destroyers are. Her tool-set gives her enough versatility that you can set yourself up to succeed and the ship's performance changes noticeably with different builds, lending this sense of customizability that feels so rewarding. You can make this ship your own, both through style of play and upgrades. So far, pretty high praise, no? Now the caveats Tier VIII matchmaking is junk. Tier IX is the new tier VII and Z-44 spits on Z-35's matchmaking. Z-44 enjoys fewer games with aircraft carriers in it -- a factor that greatly changes the quality of life for destroyers, I think we will all agree. For Z-35, the presence of carriers is normal, being bracketed by tier VI and tier X CVs within the matchmaker, to say nothing of those that populate her own tier. It's so commonplace that I sat up and took notice in my play sessions when there wasn't a carrier present, and thanked my lucky stars RNGeebus had smiled on me. Similarly, for pure economy reasons, tier VIII feels long in the tooth. Why earn 400,000 credits a match when you could earn so much more by playing a tier IX premium instead? It's also hard to feel like Z-35 is somewhat lacking in game play variety. In my heart I know this is a falsehood -- the manner in which she has to approach each match is varied depending on the opponents she faces. Some games she has to be especially slippery, dodging active hunters and farming what little damage she can as opportunities permit. On others, she gets to play a forward scouting role, pushing the enemies screens back. My perception no doubt comes from the lack of torpedoes which is so very much a staple of destroyer game play for me. This combines with the necessity of patience to make Z-35 work. I'm not patient in my game play. It's an uncomfortable fit for me and when every match starts with a delayed waiting period, they end up feeling similar. I'm sure this is all in my head. Overall, I'm very pleased with Z-35 but I can't recommend her. The skill floor is a little too high. If you're a veteran destroyer player with a solid understanding of stealth and gunship tactics, go for it.. Otherwise, respect this ship and keep clear. Conclusion Thank you all so much for reading. Thank you very much to my patrons for their continued support. I had originally planned to review both Z-35 and Z-44 together in the same article in the same manner as my Belfast & Belfast '43 review or that of Siegfried and Ägir. However, time was not permitting. It is easier for me to separate the two of them rather than constantly lacing a narrative between the two ships. This is clearly a case of "if I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter". If you stumbled upon this review and are looking for her sister ship, you can find the link here. Go have a read before you pull the trigger on either ship. I really like this screenshot. My new pooter makes things pretty.