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Please be aware that all of the statistics and performance discussed in this post reflect the version of the ship as she appeared during the testing period. These are subject to change before release. The following is aimed at new(ish) players looking to find a little more information about various ships from events, for premium currency or for real-world cash. The goal is to allow players to make an educated decision before parting with their time and money and to find premium vessels that suit their chosen style of play, whether that is competitive, cooperative, or simply for fun. The idea here is to elabourate on information not commonly available through reading statistics and provide some (heavily) biased anecdotal evidence to encourage or dissuade you from making your purchase. The usual disclaimers apply: everyone knows the Matchmaker clearly loves me because I spend money so that's why I occasionally get really good games, not because I have any particular skills of note. Other articles in this series: Ships for Doubloons: Smith, Sims,Atlanta, Texas, Saipan, Tachibana, Atago, Ishizuchi, Aurora,Molotov, Mikhail Kutuzov, Emden, König Albert,Tirpitz, Campbeltown, Warspite, Limited Release Ships: Fujin, Kamikaze, Katori, Yubari, Gremyashchy,Leningrad, Diana,Murmansk, Krasny Krym, Imperator Nikolai I, Anshan, Lo Yang, Marblehead, Indianapolis, Arizona, Prinz Eugen,Scharnhorst, Dunkerque, Blyskawica, Belfast Gift & Reward Ships: Albany, Arkansas, Flint, Iwaki, Mikasa, Arpeggio of Blue Steel Ships: Kongo, Kirishima, Haruna, Hiei, Myoko, Ashigara, Nachi, Haguro Non Premiums: Gneisenau, Bismarck, Iowa,Isokaze, Bogatyr Condensed Reading: Mouse's Quick Summary of Premium Ships Without further ado: The Swiss-Army knife of destroyer mutilation. Quick Summary: A stealthy, Light-Cruiser gunship with a large number of consumables and an additional module upgrade slot. Cost: Undisclosed at the time of this review. Patch & Date Written: 0.5.12.1, October 12th & 13th, 2016. Closest in-Game Contemporary: Cleveland, Tier 6 American CruiserDegree of Similarity: Clone / Sister-Ship / Related Class/ Similar Role / Unique At her core, the Belfast is a gunship. She has no torpedoes to speak of and she's armed with twelve 152mm rifles. This makes her, at least superficially, quite similar to the Cleveland in terms of play style. But once you add in all of the weird quirks she gets -- like which modules and consumables she can and cannot arm herself with, the Belfast quickly becomes her own beast. Some may want to point to other smoke-launching cruisers like the Kutuzov or Flint but she's much further apart from these ships because of her limited armament which largely dictates her play style. Maybe she'll find a closer analogue when the Royal Navy joins World of Warships in force. But for now, the Cleveland is the closest ship to which we can compare. PROs: Reasonably durable for a cruiser with 35,700hp and 114mm belt armour. The Belfast can stealth-fire with the proper setup of modules and camouflage, even without a 15pt Captain. Fast rate of fire at 8.0rpm and second highest DPM of the current 6" (150mm to 155mm) armed light cruisers. Good AA armament. Depending on your module & skill choices, the Belfast can have as low as a 8.7km surface detection range. Depending on your module choices, the Belfast can have a rudder shift as low as 4.6s. Has access to Radar and Hydroacoustic Search at the same time. She has access to a Smoke Generator with a longer-than-standard smoke duration. She can mount up to five module upgrades. She's currently the only tier 7 with access to this fifth slot. CONs: Very limited ability to deliver high alpha strikes. For a cruiser, she has a low base chance to start a fire at 9% per shell. Slow turret rotation at 7' per second. No torpedo armament. Low top speed for a cruiser, limited to 32.5 knots. Stock rudder shift is on the slow side at 9.6s. No access to Defensive Fire. No access to Propulsion Modification 2. Smoke Generator creates a tiny amount of smoke before shutting down -- enough for up to two smoke cloud Wargaming continues to outdo themselves in the quality of their models and textures. Can it truly be happening? Is the Royal Navy finally going to be joining World of Warships? Wargaming may just be initiating another Royal Navy tease. We've had the Warspite. We've had the Campbeltown. Now we have the HMS Belfast joining the game. This long awaited ship is a delight to see in game. The model is absolutely gorgeous, representing the post-war refits of this historic vessel. With her inclusion we now have a Battleship, Destroyer and Cruiser in the game. What's next? The Ark Royal? Who can say? But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Lert will be joining me today providing a comparison to some of the Belfast's rival cruisers in the Rivals sections. NoZoupForYou will also be joining us to provide his voice talents to our project. I even got them both to fill in the 'Recommendations' section, so enjoy! Thank you, Zoup! The Lertbox Once again LWM has allowed me space to express my thoughts and opinions about an upcoming premium ship, and this time it's a very interesting one. The HMS Belfast is the first premium Royal Navy cruiser, and possibly even the very first Royal Navy cruiser that you can get your hands on. As such, she will set expectations for the Royal Navy light cruiser line, when it comes out. Belfast as she appears in this game is a tier 7 light gun cruiser with a lot of interesting tricks up its sleeve. It's one of ten Town class cruisers, and she appears as she was after her 1959 modernization, which saw her superstructure rebuilt, lattice masts added and her torpedo armament removed. The premium camouflage Belfast carries is her 1969 museum-ship color scheme. Departing from the usual Lertbox style of direct stat comparisons I will write opinion pieces about how she in my experience compares to Cleveland and Indianapolis, the two ships she'll be most likely compared to. Options There's a whole lot of weirdness going on with the options for the Belfast. First of all, she has four consumables but no choices to change them out for something else. You cannot swap out Hydroacoustic Search for Defensive Fire, for example. In fact, she doesn't get access to Defensive Fire at all, which should surprise some people. Her Surveillance Radar is on par with the American version found on the Atlanta and Indianapolis, with an 8.49km range and 25s active period. Her Hydroacoustic Search is also the standard version found on other nations (as opposed to the souped up version found on the German ships). But it's her Smoke Generator that's truly the odd duck. The deployed smoke has a longer duration than most other nations (103s vs 85s) though it still falls short of the American (121s). However, there's only a 7s window to lay smoke clouds, limiting the Belfast to making only one or two "puffs". Another fun bit of weirdness for the Belfast is that she has five upgrade slots instead of the normal four found at tier 7. This extra slot gives her access to the Concealment, Target Acquisition System and Steering Gears modifications which are gain the normal purview of tier 8 and higher vessels. The Belfast seems to trade for this by being unable to equip Propulsion System Modification 2. Beware of sitting stationary in your tiny amount of smoke. Overall, the module upgrade options are phenomenal for the Belfast, allowing you to choose between excellent agility or improved concealment, depending on your preferred style of play. Consumables: Damage Control Party Hydroacoustic Search Smoke Generator Radar Module Upgrades: Five slots. Does not have access to Propulsion Modification 2 for it's fourth slot.Premium Camouflage: Tier 6+ Standard. This provides 50% bonus experience gains, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy. Firepower Primary Battery: Twelve 152mm rifles in 4x3 superfiring turrets in an A-B-X-Y configuration. Secondary Battery: Eight 102mm guns in 4x2 turrets mounted amidships. If you strip away all of the toys on the Belfast, what you're left with is a no-nonsense gunship. She doesn't have torpedoes, so she's entirely reliant on the performance of her guns. This may look like a crippling flaw as the Belfast has some of the worst alpha strike potential of any 6" armed cruiser from her individual shells. Indeed, the Belfast is largely bereft of any ability to deal large amounts of damage in a single attack. Her weapons do not have great muzzle velocity either leading to a lot of hang time and necessary lead to land hits and precluding her from using AP against enemy cruisers until she's quite close. But this is all compensated for by a good rate of fire. When measured against other Light Cruisers in and around her tier with a similar armament, she comes in second for AP and HE DPM which is nothing to sneeze at. Just always keep her lack of torpedoes in mind when looking at these numbers. Gun performance comparison between 150mm to 155mm armed Light Cruisers The gun handling of the Belfast is reasonably comfortable. Her turret rotation is slower than I would want at 7' per second (25.7s for a 180' rotation). This value is similar enough to some of the Soviet cruisers like the Mikhail Kutuzov and Shchors and better than that of the upgraded Cleveland. It's not fast, but it's passable. Your shell flight time will always be on the long side, however. These are not the high velocity shells found on the Soviet cruisers or the Mogami's 155mm. They share a lot similar flight patterns to the USN Cleveland, so you're going to struggle a bit to hit anything but large or predictably moving ships at range. You can expect to see up to 11s lead times while stealth-firing, which this ship can manage at ranges from 14.5km with Concealment Modification 1 or 13.3km when combined with Concealment Expert. While the ship's range is nothing impressive at her tier, she is sneaky enough to easily get within range to be able to engage targets without risk of early detection. While this looks like good news, it's that low chance to set fires that really hurts the Belfast and precludes her from ever being considered an optimal fire-starting gunship. In the practical sense, when engaging other capital ships, her damage potential falls away if she cannot start sufficient blazes to give enemy Battleships pause. So she's rather RNG dependent in this regard. This is very important to keep in mind as the Belfast can (and will) go up against the more heavily armoured Battleships at tiers 8 & 9 where plating in excess of 25mm will result in zero-damage hits from her high explosive rounds. Still, the 9% fire chance is passable. It can do the job. It's just not optimal, especially when compared to her competitors.. Like all cruisers, her secondary armament is pretty forgettable. It has some good traits, though. She has a 5.0km base range with them and they fire 20rpm. But this isn't like you'll win a war with them. I did finish off a Leningrad with my secondaries, so that was cute. But I wouldn't expect this to be the norm with her. Overall, her guns are very well suited to putting the hurt on lightly armoured ships. Combined with other features, her weaponry seems almost ideally designed to make destroyers balk at being anywhere within 10km of a Belfast. She will also give pause to other cruisers, while being passable (but not ideal) for harassing Battleships in between interdiction missions. I'm not in love with her guns. They are decent though and they do the trick. Just don't expect miracles or fast results. You'll be dodging torpedoes a lot in the Belfast -- mostly because your guns, concealment distance and consumables make you an absolute nightmare for enemy destroyers. Rivals: The Cleveland Let's get the obvious comparison out of the way. At first glance Belfast comes across as an up-tiered Cleveland with added toys. This isn't an unfair assessment, as they share many attributes. Both are 32 knot, agile light cruisers with twelve rapid fire 6" guns. Neither have much armor, but both have a module layout that makes them a bit more survivable than their tier- and class mates like Budyonny, Shchors and the like. Both have a generous bag of hitpoints. Cleveland is more durable though. Her hit points last just a bit longer because of her lower tiering, and her citadel is notoriously difficult to hit reliably. Belfast feels a bit softer when under fire, mostly due to her citadel area being considerably longer than Cleveland's. The Cleveland is more agile with a faster rudder shift and a slightly tighter turning circle. Also, Cleveland gets a defensive fire consumable that Belfast doesn't, making her a nightmare for enemy carrier jockeys. Finally, Cleveland will theoretically light more fires per minute than Belfast. Where Belfast beats out the American fighting lady though is in pure volume of fire, 96 shells per minute verses Cleveland's 90. She has a higher base DPS on her AA, higher DPM on her guns and that very valuable fifth equipment slot which can fit either concealment to make a very stealthy cruiser or rudder shift to make her more agile than Cleveland will ever be. Also, the added value of smoke and radar can not be denied. It might not be fair to compare a tier 7 CL to a tier 6 one, but Cleveland is slated for an up-tiering when the CA / CL split happens, and since Belfast and Cleveland share so many play style elements the comparison holds. Belfast is by far the more versatile ship. Maneuverability Top Speed: 32.5 knotsTurning Radius: 680mRudder Shift: 9.6s The Belfast has a bit of a sluggish rudder shift. That's the bad news. The good news is that she can take two module upgrades to mitigate this, dropping it down as low as 4.6s which is downright awesome. With just the first module, you'll be looking at a 7.7s rudder shift time which is still a bit clunky but manageable. With her fair turning circle, she has a lot of hustle in her bustle. The Belfast doesn't get down to American levels of cruiser wigglyness (Zoup told me this was a perfectly cromulent word), but it's still more than sufficient to throw off the aim of enemies at range if you keep your patterns irregular. So, if you take a module or two to tighten up the response time of her rudder, the Belfast will feel very nimble with her handling. This compensates somewhat for her only modest top speed which is again, downright American in that respect. The 32.5 knots is the same legwork found on the Pensacola, Atlanta, Flint and Indianapolis. This lags well behind the more fleet footed Soviet and Japanese cruisers. As such, it will be impossible to run down all but the most complacent of destroyers. You'll also have a hard time fleeing from a fast Battleship that's intent on closing with you. There are few things more frightening than an Iowa bellowing, "Get in me belly!" while it chases your Belfast. Fire and maneuver is the name of the game with the Belfast -- tossing evasive maneuvers in between salvos. This isn't a ship with which you'll want to ever be caught stationary. Wargaming seems to be going out of their way to discourage this. First, they've removed the option to take Propulsion Modification 2 which would provide her with a lot more startup agility when caught sitting still. Second, her smoke screens are pathetically small requiring her to be at a near dead stop before activating or she risks slipping out of her tiny bank of fog. This makes her an easy target just before deploying her concealment and should make many a Belfast player think twice about using it this way. DurabilityHit Points: 35,700 Citadel Protection: Up to 114mm.Bow & Deck Armour: Minimum of 13mm each.Torpedo Damage Reduction: 4% The armour setup on the Belfast is a bit of a mixed bag. She has 114mm belt armour, which is rather good for a light cruiser, and certainly well above what we might see on her Soviet counterparts. Unlike ships like the Budyonny or Shchors, her citadel is at or below the waterline of the ship. Combine this with her 35,700hp and she's looking rather well protected -- or at least as well protected as a cruiser could be. And that's really the catch, isn't it? You cannot expect the Belfast to repulse Battleship caliber firepower, especially not at tier 7+. They will happily oblige you by emancipating your ship of it's hp poolt with a storm of 380mm+ shells. Don't give them the opportunity if you can at all help it. Use your agility and your stealth as your defense. What this level of armour plate will actually provide is reasonable protection from small-caliber (180mm or smaller) guns trying to throw AP at you. This can be rather commonplace as you close in with enemy destroyers and cruisers that will switch ammunition types if they think they can catch your broadside. Use your rudder, force those bounces off your angled sides. It is fun to note that the Belfast does have some small anti-torpedo bulges, providing a 4% damage reduction. Once you plug in Damage Control System Modification 1, this jumps up to 7%. It's not great by any means, but hey, cruisers should rejoice with any little durability bonuses they can claim. The angled belt armour of the Belfast bounces a 210mm AP round from a German Yorck-class cruiser. This is an uncommon occurence. Even bows on, the Belfast's prow is overmatched by 203mm shells or greater. Be very careful when engaging heavy cruisers at point blank range. Concealment & Camouflage Surface Detection Range: 11.3km Air Detection Range: 8.1 km Minimum Surface Detection Range: 8.7km Concealment Penalty while Firing: +4.56km (vs 15.4km gun range) Don't let these numbers fool you. Like her rudder shift time, the Belfast's concealment rating is something you can play with right out of the box with module choices. This is an either-or choice, though. You can either have gorgeous rudder shift or improved concealment rating, as they both take up the 5th module slot. This is very important feature to remember. With Concealment Modification 1 and her premium camouflage, a starting Belfast with a fresh Captain will have a 9.9km surface detection range and nearly a 1km window from which it can stealth fire at enemies from open water. Any Atago player will tell you the wonderful merits of a cruiser that's able to sneak within 10km of an enemy ship. This opens up the door for all sorts of clever play, including interdicting enemy destroyers and sneaking onto caps the enemy thinks are reasonably covered. Once you add a 15pt Captain with Concealment Expert, this range drops down to 8.7km which is just outside of the Belfast's radar range. This can quickly spell the doom for an enemy DD that's not paying attention to enemy team lists. It can find itself with a rapid fire light cruiser at point blank range, hammering it with salvos of 152mm with no easy way to escape. Hydro will sniff out any desperate torpedo drops. Radar will keep them lit even if they attempt to blow smoke. Her concealment allows the Belfast to contest capture points in Domination maps, especially from destroyers that have outstripped their support. In my test games, this became a rather common occurrence. Often happening not just once but twice in several encounters. Even without a 15pt Captain, I was comfortably able to pull off ambushes against lower tiered destroyers, like IJN Minekaze, Mutsuki and Kamikaze-class destroyers that often risked getting within 8km to launch torpedoes. USN and Soviet cruisers that popped smoke and began firing from within the cover of their concealment were simply ringing the dinner bell for my Belfast to come feast. Good times. This same concealment rating is also the Belfast's best armour when facing off against enemy cruisers. She has one of (if not the) best concealment ratings for her tier bracket. When you don't want to fight something, silence your guns and turn away. You're almost like an oversized destroyer in this respect. This ability to drop back into stealth is imperative given the rather modest top speed of the Belfast. You'll need to plan your escape at an early juncture if the enemies are pushing your flank aggressively. Lastly, special mention should be made towards the Belfast's Smoke Generator consumable. It's ... well, it's odd. It does not create a lot of smoke, but the smoke that it does leave down lasts longer than that of the Soviet or IJN ships. You have a little over a minute and forty seconds worth of concealment from the Belfast's smoke but you're not likely to get more than two smoke clouds out when you activate the consumable. It seems that Wargaming intends that the Belfast's smoke to be used primarily on the defensive rather than offensive role. This is further paid evidence to with her lack of the Propulsion Modification 2 -- slowing to a stop in your own tiny smoke screen is all well and fine, just be aware that you're not going to be able to get up and go in a hurry afterwards. Rivals: The Indianapolis Ah, the other tier 7 premium cruiser with a gimmick, this being radar in the Indianapolis' case. Here the difference is that the Belfast is a light cruiser and Indianapolis a heavy cruiser, armed with very potent 203mm guns. These USN 8" rifles have a very unique attribute: they are better at defeating angled opponents by virtue that they have a wider angle to work with before autobounce starts becoming a thing. This makes the American 203mm AP very dangerous to soft cruisers like Belfast. In a pure gun duel, I would imagine a smart Indianapolis drive to defeat an equal-skilled Belfast driver. The Belfast can't run away from the Indianapolis, so any duel between them comes down to using the environment and concealment versus gunnery skills, and the best the Belfast can do is try to not get shot too much. But these ships don't fight in a vacuum, and 1v1 fights are rare. Indianapolis' radar has proven itself a very useful piece of equipment, and Belfast gets access to an equally potent one. But where Indianapolis has to choose between hydro and defensive fire in one slot and radar and a fighter in the other, Belfast gets to use hydro, smoke and radar at the same time. It's hard to say which is the 'better' ship. They serve distinct roles. Indianapolis is better at putting the hurt on battleships and annoying carriers, Belfast is better at ferreting out destroyers, both can put the hurt on cruisers. But where Belfast might rely on a combination of HE spam, fire-hosing and some AP damage, Indianapolis can get away with relying on AP more. Anti-Aircraft DefenseAA Battery Calibers: 102mm / 40mmAA Umbrella Ranges: 5.0km / 3.5kmAA DPS per Aura: 72 / 140 The Belfast does not get access to the Defensive Fire consumable. This isn't a matter of having to choose between it and Hydroacoustic Search -- it's simply not an option at all. This immediately precludes the Belfast from being a dedicated anti-aircraft escort, which is a bit of shame because she has some rather impressive anti-aircraft firepower. When you compare her to the other tier 7 cruisers, her AA DPS is quite respectful -- the second highest overall. 224dps - Flint 212dps - Belfast 207dps - Pensacola 202dps - Indianapolis 182dps - Yorck 177dps - Atlanta 153dps - Shchors 151dps - Myoko Of course, there's a lot more to AA gunfire than raw DPS. Having it concentrated in the large caliber AA guns is important for a start. This is what makes the Atlanta and Flint so dangerous -- having enormous 127mm dual-purpose batteries. The Belfast does alright here, having 5.0km reach on her 102mm batteries with good DPS. She backs this up with the always reliable 40mm Bofors at a good defensive range of 3.5km. If the Belfast did have access to Defensive Fire, she'd be an absolute monster for enemy CVs. Without it, she's still a target to be respected but she won't be causing any form of disruption to aircraft groups. I was frequently shooting down a half dozen same-tier planes in games where there was an enemy CV present with only Basic Fire Training to improve my ships gunners. To this end, if you fancy playing the role of a makeshift AA escort, keep close to the ships in need of protective cover. Just be aware that you will never reach the same levels of anti-aircraft firepower as Defensive Fire spikes the DPS of the ship in question up tremendously when active, on top of its other benefits. Without Defensive Fire, even Dive Bombers present a serious threat to the Belfast as she has no way of disrupting their drop patterns. Her AA defense is good overall, and you can expect to seriously punish any groups making their attack runs against you. But you're still going to have to weather their drops. Overall Impressions Skill Floor:Simple/ Casual / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling:Low/ Moderate / High / Extreme The Belfast looks complicated, but she's really not. For all of the confusing mess of consumables and modules, the Belfast is, at her core, a light cruiser gunship. It's all about avoiding the attention of warships bigger than you while picking on those that are smaller. Even a novice player can take her into a match, rig her for concealment and do reasonably well farming HE and fire damage off of enemy capital ships at extreme range. The meta for her is making destroyer lives miserable and bullying capture points which is a high-risk, high-reward style of play but one that can quickly decide a match when done correctly. The Lertbox Belfast is perhaps the most versatile ship in the game at this moment, depending on captain skills and equipment fitted. You could go for a ballerina build and bring her rudder shift down to ridiculous levels, or go for a concealment build and have an almost comically sneaky little cruiser. Her AA is formidable even lacking a defensive fire module and properly specced she can function as AA escort, but she can just as easily ferret out destroyers trying to hide inside their smoke screens, while sitting comfortably in her own. She can even lay down a strategically placed puff of smoke to help conceal her team. During playtesting I found that a very effective tactic was to appropriate a friendly smoke screen in or near a cap and popping my own when it started running out, thereby extending the duration of the smoke screen by a considerable margin. Not many people dare attack a smoke screen that threw as many shells as these did, as well as intermittent torpedo fire from the friendly destroyer which laid the original screen. One misses defensive fire and her fire chance is a bit low, but were those present she'd be overpowered at tier 7. I can't stress how potent the combination of hydro, smoke and radar available without having to choose between them is. It's enough to elevate what is basically a very potent tier 6 ship up to tier 7. Mouse's Summary: The Belfast is the Inspector Gadget of warships. You have a gizmo for most situations, especially when facing destroyers. You'll have to pick between awesome rudder shift and awesome concealment. The lack of Defensive Fire and a high-alpha strike attack keeps her from being immediately overpowered. Best played patiently with a slight aggressive streak where DDs are concerned. The Belfast makes me miss a lot of things. I miss Defensive Fire. I miss being able to deliver high alpha strikes. I miss going fast. But if she had access to any one of these things, she'd be overpowered. The Belfast is a very comfortable ship to play. Once you wrap your head around the fact that you're not going to kill any big ships quickly, it gets quite easy. Avoid being spotted by capital ships. Get wiggly when you are spotted. Punish destroyers that over extend. That's about it, really. Where she gets very interesting is all of the wonderful tools you have to make destroyer lives miserable while not quite having the absolute optimum load-out to do so. Out of the ships presently available in the game, it would still be hard to argue that the Belfast is probably the best destroyer hunter out there. And that's what the Belfast truly embodies -- it's the destroyer hunter that we've all been wanting. Radar is fun and all on an Atlanta or a New Orleans, but neither ship can risk getting in close to make use of it to counter the Udaloi, Bensons or Blyskawicas out there that are sitting in their smoke screens and dropping pew pews on our team. The Belfast can risk it. She's got the tools to get in. She's got the tools to quickly isolate and punish the enterprising destroyer. And she's got the tools to get out afterwards. Top on my wish-list to make her even better at destroyer hunting would be a little more speed. It's just not there. Her 32.5 knots means that you're relying on destroyers making mistakes more than actively pursuing them. Hear that, DDs? It's your own darned fault that I'm making a mess of your ships with my Belfast. That the Belfast is so good at putting the hurt on over extended destroyers is likely going to make her a high priority target when word gets out. The mere presence of this rapid fire cruiser near a cap point can lock down any attempts by the Red team to ninja cap. It becomes suicidal for an enemy destroyer to venture anywhere near the Belfast's zone of control without big guns backing her up. This ship may shake up the current Random Battle meta somewhat. It's certainly going to make playing the lone-wolf destroyer much more difficult. The Belfast counters the Minekaze just as readily as she does the Udaloi and I was very happy to see that consistently in play. The only thing that would make me back off from a destroyer would be a Battleship lurking in the area. But if this capital ship was distracted or more than 14km off from my area of engagement, I was still going to eat me some destroyer goodness. When it came to pelting bigger ships with her guns, the Belfast wasn't anything special. She bombards predictably moving capital ships about as well as you can expect. She'll set a fair number of fires but not a whole lot unless your enemy plays dumb. This can make trying to accumulate high damage totals a bit of a challenge, but it's again just a matter of patience and picking your targets. Your enjoyment of the Belfast will largely be determined if you can make these 152mm guns work. Like many light cruisers, you're dependent on fire damage to maximize your output against Battleships. They're perfectly suitable for blowing up enemy light cruisers and destroyers, however. Would I Recommend? Heh, this is one of those ships that I feel like it doesn't matter what I say, people are still going to grab it. It's the first Royal Navy Cruiser available in the game. On top of that, it's a Premium Cruiser leading the release of the Royal Navy Cruiser line, so people will be wanting to grab her for a training analogue for their Captains. To top it all off, she's a museum ship. This is a difficult ship not to recommend, with the only caveat of course being that if you don't like mid-tier cruiser game play, this ship will not sell you on it. ForRandom Battle Grinding: Mouse: The Belfast is a good Random Battle boat. She can cap and defend. She can harass big ships. She can interdict and assassinate destroyers. Her big weaknesses are, of course, competently played Battleships. You'll also have to worry a bit about good carrier and cruiser players, but not nearly as much as the big capital ships trying to delete you. As she's designed to pick on destroyers, she nets quite a healthy sum of credits and experience for even small damage totals off these fragile boats. When pressured by enemy BBs, however, her performance really starts to hurt as I had to go gun silent to avoid getting obliterated. This in turn really affected my rankings and experience gains. The other thing to consider is that if you go premium consumable heavy (and you can go really heavy in the Belfast), you'll eat into your earnings very significantly which will hurt the rate at which you're grinding credits. Lert: Yeah, Belfast is a fun and comfortable, reliable if fragile, very versatile ship. Smacking destroyers around is not only a lot of fun, but nets you a nice amount of credits and XP as well. Zoup: I find the Belfast to be highly enjoyable in random battles. Despite this, I don’t find that I’m putting the amount of damage out that I would like. I attribute this to the fact that the Belfast has a low burn percentage. It isn’t really a ship that you want to go toe to toe with against Battleships unless their attention is already occupied by other ships. Against other CLs, its more than capable though, with HE or AP. The Belfast has a specific mission, and that is to aide your team by being a destroyer’s worst nightmare. And that is exactly what the Belfast is. You get all the normal goodies that come with premium ships and premium ship camo, but the most important thing is that you have a trainer for the RN cruiser line. I don’t see myself playing the Belfast exclusively over and over in randoms, but I will definitely play it often. It’s fun and offers something different from the other ships in the game. For Competitive Gaming: Mouse: The Belfast would have been a very interesting choice in Season 4 of Ranked Battles, when tier 7 was the top. I don't think she would have been capable of toppling the unfortunate meta that resulted in that season, but she certainly has the concealment and spotting tools to have upset the occasional game. Her lack of any high alpha strike limits her somewhat and her fragility would make her a rewarding target that would no doubt get her focused early when lit. Lert: I can only imagine what havoc a ship as versatile as Belfast would've wrought on the tier 7 portion of the previous ranked battle season. It's almost like this ship was made for competitive play. While she lacks the firepower of larger gunned ships, competitive play ensures that there are teammates with said bigger guns ready to pick up the slack, while you concentrate on spotting and intercepting destroyers and other cruisers. Zoup: The jury is out whether or not the Belfast would have succeeded in the Tier 7 battles from previous ranked gameplay. I’m going to go out on a limb though and say that it would make a good competitive ship. For this basis, I am going to point to the Atago and its stealth capabilities. I believe that it’s the 8.7km concealment that will make the Belfast a valuable ranked cruiser if we ever go back to Tier 7. Its stealth combined with hydro and radar allow it to both cap while defending against enemy destroyers. It has the ability to remain hidden from larger ships by use of low surface concealment and smoke. While it may not have torpedoes and the healing capabilities of the Atago, I feel it is ultimately the Atago’s concealment which helps it to excel in ranked gameplay. The same likely will prove true for the Belfast. Only time will tell. For Collectors: Mouse: She's a museum ship. She's also gorgeous. Absolutely, yes. Lert: This is a storied ship that still exists as a museum ship you can visit to this day. How storied, you ask? She participated in the battle that sunk Scharnhorst as well as being part of the escort fleet to the carriers that launched an attack on Tirpitz that saw the latter disabled and immobilized for several months. Though Belfast never fired on Tirpitz, she did on Scharnhorst and it was her fire combined with that of Norfolk and Sheffield that turned Scharnhorst into the waiting jaws of the heavier task force that eventually sank her. Zoup: This one is easy. Absolutely. She’s dead Sexy and I still remember seeing her sitting on the Thames when I vacationed in England back in 2012. She will be a must buy for many. For Fun Factor: Mouse: The Belfast is a very comfortable ship to play. She has the same foibles as most cruisers -- notably the fragility when Battleships are looking at her. So if that doesn't appeal, I would keep away. But as a light cruiser enthusiast, I really enjoyed her. Lert: She's very comfortable and versatile. You can adapt her to almost any role you could conceivably want a light cruiser to play. If you like cruisers, you'll like Belfast. Zoup: You can customize the Belfast to your hearts desire in more ways than most ships. She's fun to play for the ability to live on the edge of danger with her awesome concealment and destroyer destroying capabilities. Care must be taken though. You're still a cruiser. If you hate taking damage or like to show your broadside often, this ship will make you pay for it. This ship plays like a big destroyer that lacks torpedoes. The fun factor is there indeed. The question is: How long will the novelty of the extra module last, or is this what we should expect with the RN Cruiser line as a whole? Outfitting your Belfast isn't complicated as she doesn't specialize for any role other than "make a destroyer's life miserable" very well. You can try and make her an AA cruiser but she'll never really compete with dedicated AA escorts. Outfitting your Belfast Unlike other cruisers, there aren't multiple builds for the Belfast to allow her to accomplish different rolls. Without access to Defensive Fire, she's never going to be a specialized AA escort. This isn't to say you can't try and improve her anti-aircraft firepower -- it's just not going to have the same effect as it might on a Soviet or American cruiser, for example. Recommended Modules The list of modules to equip your Belfast are pretty straight forward. Do keep in mind that she gets five module upgrade options instead of the normal four found at tier 7. For your first slot, Main Armaments Modification 1 is probably the best choice. This will help keep your four turrets in the game. However, as a Light Cruiser, you have to contend with detonations more frequently than a Heavy Cruiser or Battleship. So Magazine Modification 1 isn't a poor choice. I was detonated once during playtesting by a Fuso AP shell without this mod equipped. For your second slot, you have three choices. Aiming Systems Modification 1 is arguably the most optimal. This will tighten your shell fall and give a slight bump to your secondary performance. Anti Aircraft Modification 2 isn't a great choice but it certainly has its merits. This will extend your AA umbrella up to 6.0km which may cause a CV Captain to pull his planes back. I wouldn't count on it though. Lastly, Main Battery Modification 2 will accelerate her turret rotation from 25.7s for a 180's rotation down to 22.3s. This will cost you some of your DPM, bringing your rate of fire down from 8.0rpm to 7.6rpm. For your third slot, Damage Control System Modifcation 1 is the best choice. They're all pretty terrible really. For your fourth slot, Steering Gears Modification 2 is optimal. This will reduce your rudder shift time from 9.6s to 7.7s. And finally for your fifth slot, there are two interesting choices. Concealment Modification 1 is arguably the best choice. This drops your surface detection range with camouflage from 11.0km down to 9.9km. This will also allow you to fire from stealth at a range of 14.5km. Alternatively, if you want to give her destroyer like turning, take Steering Gears Modification 3. This will reduce your rudder shift from 7.7s to 4.6s. Recommended Consumables You don't have any consumable options for the Belfast, short of deciding if you're going to pay for the premium versions or not. Out of these, Damage Control Party is hands down the best one to take as a premium, as it will help mitigate fires and other critical hits. Taking premium versions of Surveillance Radar and Hydroacoustic Search really only come into play when facing multiple destroyers for an extended period of time. This will reduce their reset timers from 3 minutes down to 2 minutes. Keep in mind that stocking up on premium consumables will quickly eat into any earnings you're making and with four consumable slots, if you went all out, that's a 90,000 credit deficit you need to make back each and every game. Recommended Captain Skills From the first tier, Basic Fire Training is the best choice. This will give a boost to your AA firepower as well as accelerating the reload of your secondaries. From the second tier, you have a choice. Expert Marksman is nice for accelerating the turning speed of your main battery. WIth as much maneuver as you will be doing in the Belfast, this can assist with keeping your guns trained on target, or at least hasten bringing them to bear when re-engaging. Alternatively, Last Stand will help keep your ship operable when taking critical hits to the rudder or engine, which happens often enough in Light Cruisers. From the third tier, there are two very good options. Vigilance will help with spotting the torpedoes launched form the Destroyers you will be pursuing. Alternatively, Superintendent will provide an extra charge for three of your four consumables which is also handy -- especially if you're not taking the premium versions. Unlike most cruisers, it's Demolition Expert which is the hands down best choice at tier 4 for Captain Skills. This will bump up your chance to start a fire with your main battery from 9% to 12% which is huge. Advanced Fire Training is reasonable, but be aware that the AA power of the Belfast will forever be held back by her lack of Defensive Fire. This 20% increase to your range can get her reach out to 7.2km with assistance from the Anti Aircraft Modification 2. In addition, this will bump up your secondary gun range to 6km from stock or 6.3km with Aiming Systems Modification 1 which will come in handy when you're using radar and hydro to flush out destroyers. Finally, at tier 5, Concealment Expert is your best choice. This really puts the Belfast's stealth rating at whole other level, dropping her surface detection range to as low as 8.7km and allowing her to fire from stealth at a range of 13.3km.
The following is aimed at new(ish) players looking to find a little more information about various ships from events, for premium currency or for real-world cash. The goal is to allow players to make an educated decision before parting with their time and money and to find premium vessels that suit their chosen style of play, whether that is competitive, cooperative, or simply for fun. The idea here is to elabourate on information not commonly available through reading statistics and provide some (heavily) biased anecdotal evidence to encourage or dissuade you from making your purchase. The usual disclaimers apply: everyone knows the Matchmaker clearly loves me because I spend money so that's why I occasionally get really good games, not because I have any particular skills of note. Other articles in this series: Ships for Doubloons: Atlanta, Texas, Tachibana,Atago, Ishizuchi, Diana, Aurora,Murmansk, Molotov, Mikhail Kutuzov, Emden, Tirpitz, Campbeltown, Warspite, Blyskawica Limited Release Ships: Fujin, Kamikaze, Katori, Yubari, Gremyashchy,Krasny Krym, Imperator Nikolai I, Anshan, Lo Yang, Smith, Sims,Marblehead, Indianapolis, Arizona, Saipan, Scharnhorst, Dunkerque Gift & Reward Ships: Albany, Arkansas, Flint, Iwaki, Mikasa, Arpeggio of Blue Steel Ships: Kongo, Kirishima, Haruna, Myoko Condensed Reading: Mouse's Quick Summary of Premium Ships Without further ado: The Tier 7 American Oakland-subclass Anti-Aircraft Cruiser USS Flint "A rose by any other name." Quick Summary: A destroyer with a citadel, complete with destroyer caliber guns, good torpedoes, smoke launchers and almost no armour. Has one of the best anti-aircraft armaments, tier for tier, in the game. Cost: Unavailable for purchase. May only be acquired through accomplishing specific event requirements. Patch & Date Written: 08.02.2016 to 08.15.2016, Patch 0.5.9 to 0.5.9.1 Closest in-Game Contemporary: AtlantaDegree of Similarity:Clone / Sister-Ship / Related Class/ Similar Role / Unique The Oakland-class is more of a subclass of the Atlanta, truly. In almost every respect, it's an Atlanta with a couple missing turrets and a more modern set of anti-aircraft armaments. The other differences look minor but are significant. The Flint has better torpedoes than the Atlanta. More importantly, she loses out on radar but gains a smoke generator instead. PROs: Armed with twelve, rapid fire 127mm rifles in six turrets launching shells at 12rpm. The small caliber allows these weapons to benefit from Advanced Fire Training and Basic Fire Training captain skills for improved range and rate of fire respectively. Very fast turret rotation speed of 25'/s. Two quad torpedo launchers off each side with a 9.2km range. Excellent AA power with unlimited charges of her Defensive Fire consumable. Small turning circle of 610m. Good surface detection range of 11.0km. Possesses US-Destroyer smoke launcher with their standard increased smoke-duration and longer set-time. Possesses one of the nicest looking camouflage schemes in the game. CONs: Almost no armour (and certainly little that could be called effective) and tiny hit point pool of 26,600hp. Poor range of 11.1km and unable to stealth fire. Guns lack hitting power except at very close range. Very low muzzle velocity and long hang time on shells -- almost 1s travel time per km at maximum range. Poor HE shell, with only a 5% base chance to start a fire. Only a modest cruiser speed of 32.5 knots -- unable to keep pace with, never mind run down enemy destroyers or outrun pursuing cruisers. Camouflage scheme is a "how to" guide to maximize fire placement on the Flint. The USS Flint's camouflage scheme is very clean looking. I also find it deliciously ironic that the dull grey decals denote the four locations on a ship where each fire can be set. Stylish and considerate! Meet the carrot at the end of the stick. Announced at the start of Season 4, the USS Flint is the current reward ship handed out to players that complete three seasons of Ranked Battles at Rank One. The process works as follows. The first time you hit Rank One, you receive the Jolly Roger 1 flag when the season concludes. The second time, you receive the Jolly Roger 2 flag when the season ends. The third time, you lose your Jolly Roger 2 flag but receive the USS Flint instead. There are no plans to sell the USS Flint so the only way to receive this ship is to hop onto the treadmill and begin your progress towards the finish line. The question is, of course: Is it all worth it? It may seem hard to get excited with what appears to be an Atlanta-clone, but don't let her looks fool you. There's more under the hood than meets the eye and the meta may surprise you. Since her inception, there have been a smattering of reviews that all describe her as overpowered. It only takes a brief glance at stat-tracking sites to see that the Flint is overwhelming the charts. She has deposed the Imperator Nikolai I as the top performing vessel. The Atlanta, meanwhile, sits with an average win rate that's almost a full 20% lower and 30,000 damage behind. For the top 10 worst performing vessels, the Atlanta comes in 10th. What differences between the two ships could make such an impact that between them they cover the extremes of one of the best and worst performing ships in the game? OptionsThe first thing to note is the different options found between the Flint and the Atlanta. The Flint trades the Atlanta's Radar option for a Smoke Generator instead. This is the sole difference found here. Both keep the unlimited charges of Defensive Fire. With all of the pitchfork waving that the Flint is inspiring, it pays to take a closer look at the options found on US ships and compare them to other nations. The amount of smoke generated and its duration is dependent upon tier. In addition, the USN Smoke Generators are better than those of other nations. They release more smoke and stay deployed longer. The Nicholas has better smoke than the Minekaze or Gnevny, for example. At tier 7, USN Smoke Generators fire for 27s and last 121s as opposed to a 20s set time and 85s duration of other nations. This makes the Smoke Generator option more powerful on the Flint than it would be if it was given, say, to a Myoko-class sister ship. Nation-specific bonuses for consumables is nothing new, with German Hydroacoustic Search being the best in the game presently, The American Battleship Damage Control Party are better than those of other nations. Now let's be very clear -- this is a powerful option. It's an uneven trade to take a Smoke Generator rather than Radar. Radar is situational in that it helps you uncover enemies within 8.49km for 25s every four to six minutes, depending on if you use the premium version or not. At best, Radar assists you in dictating the terms of engagement for 25s out of every four minutes. It allows you to counter the efforts of the enemy to engage you on their terms; that of concealment. Smoke, by contrast, when used offensively, allows you to dictate the terms of engagement for 2 minutes out of every 2 minutes and fourty seconds. I say again, there's only a fourty second window between the last puff of smoke and the next one you can deploy. Smoke mitigates one of the biggest weaknesses of the Atlanta-class; the ability to safely engage an enemy. The reach of her guns are closely comparable to her surface detection range. This means that short of using islands for cover, a firing Atlanta is a spotted Atlanta and one that can be easily attacked in return. Smoke changes this dynamic and not in a minor way either. The Flint, with her Smoke Generator, can take the fight to the enemy. With careful use, they can avoid reprisal and set up stacks of damage the Atlanta can only fantasize about. Both ships, when left unchecked, can wrack up impressive damage totals. The Atlanta required clever play to accomplish this. The Flint can do so with the push of a button and cutting its engines. It should also be noted, that unlike the other mid to high tier cruiser which also got a Smoke Generator, the Mikhail Kutuzov, the Flint gets 2 charges of her Smoke Generator and not just a single one like the Soviet Cruiser. Russian bias indeed. I will say that one of my little pet peeves about this is that on Destroyers, the hot keys are T for Smoke, Y for Engine Boost / Defensive Fire / Hydroacoustic Search. On the Flint it's reversed. T for Defensive Fire / Hydroacoustic search, Y for Smoke Generator. I found myself wanting to reach for smoke and instead sent my flak gunners bonkers. "Shh, guys, we need to hide! Fire every gun we have into the air so they won't see us!" Consumables: Three slots. Damage Control Party Defensive Fire (with unlimited charges) or Hydroacoustic Search Smoke Generator Module Upgrades: Four slots, standard USN Cruiser options.Premium Camouflage: Tier 6+ Standard, This provides 50% bonus experience gains, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy. The Flint "requisitions" the smoke already laid down by the IJN Minekaze she just sunk and reinforces it with her own to begin laying fire down on an enemy Texas. The Flint is capable of far more aggressive plays than the Atlanta. While the Atlanta could also have borrowed the Minekaze's smoke, the smoke laid down by IJN Destroyers lasts considerably less time than that of the Flint. Firepower Primary Battery: 127mm guns in 6x2 turrets in an A-B-C-X-Y-Z arrangement.Secondary Battery: NoneTorpedoes: 533mm Mk15 Mod3 torpedoes in 2x4 launchers, one on each side amidships. The Flint has low-caliber, dual-purpose armaments, doubling as the ship's long-range anti-aircraft compliment and precluding her from having any secondaries. They have excellent fields of fire, phenomenal gun handling and a fast reload rate of 12rpm in stock configuration. With 25'/s rotation speed, they will track anything you ask them to, no matter how you throw the ship about. They have a high shell arc which can be used to lob their shells over intervening terrain while keeping her safe from reprisals. The sheer volume of fire can quickly spell the end for enemy destroyers that get in close, being hammered by the equivalent of three-USN DDs worth of shell. It should be noted that as these are smaller than 139mm they gain the full benefits of the Captain Skills Basic Fire Training, Advanced Fire Training & Expert Marksman. This is about where the good news ends, however. The 127mm/38 is a Destroyer caliber weapon -- the same guns that are found on the USN Destroyer line starting with the Nicholas and playing up through to the Gearing in one form or another. These guns are infamous in game for their low shell velocity of 792m/s and long flight time over ranges -- often as much as 1s per kilometer traveled. Their range isn't good, reaching a maximum of 11.1km before Captain Skills which can only increase this to 13.3km. With Captain Skills, you can create an absolute tiny window from which to fire from open water undetected (about 100m). Lastly, the shells they fire are rather anemic. The only way to land citadel penetrations on an enemy cruiser is to get very close (within 7km, nominally), and fire directly at the flush broadside. The spam of her HE shells also often nets many multiple-hit, zero damage volleys. With only a 5% chance of fire, she can make for a very fickle and unreliable fire starter. The Captain Skill, Demolition Expert is often considered a must. Even with that, the Flint has to rake the decks with multiple hits to ensure a blaze. Good Flint Captains will then wash the deck from bow to stern, systemically attempting to start fires at each of the four locations on the ship to maximize damage. This is easier said than done with the long flight time of her shells where even small maneuvers can lead to misses. In summary, you have very quick guns and a lot of them, but you're not going to do a whole lot of damage. There are exceptions: lightly armoured targets like destroyers, stacking on ships or hammering AP shells through the broadside of a cruiser at point blank range. The firepower of the Atlanta and Flint are very similar, with the Flint having two less guns per broadside owing to the lack of its wing turrets compared to the lead of her parent class. You need time to make her guns work -- time to set up the perfect ambush or time to burn targets to the waterline. And time is a precious commodity for a fragile ship. Now let's talk about her torpedoes. The Flint, along with the Atlanta, are currently the only USN Cruisers over tier 5 to have a torpedo armament. With her torpedoes, the Flint deviates significantly from the lead of her class. She received the torpedoes that advocates for buffing the Atlanta have long cried out for. For those unaware, the Atlanta is armed with the same torpedoes as the tier 8 USN Destroyer, Benson: the Mk15 mod3. You'll note their range and speed is different -- that's historical. The range of torpedoes could be adjusted by slowing their speed. While the Benson has the slower, long-range setting, the Atlanta has the faster, short ranged version. Those clamoring for a fix would like her fish to match those of the Benson's. Personally, I would rather have the option in game of setting the torpedo speed (and thus the range) before launch, but what can you do? This "fix" was not given to the Atlanta, but it found their way onto the Flint instead. This gives her two quad launchers with 9.2km range. Her fish travel at 55 knots and hit for 16,633 damage per. These are fearsome and need to be properly respected or you can find yourself quickly losing your ship. However, even with this improved 9.2km range, the Flint is incapable of firing from stealth. This exceeds her surface detection range with camouflage and the tier 5 Captain Skill Concealment Expert by 200m, so that precludes firing from stealth unless you are sailing ahead of your target and they will drive into the path of your fish. This Budyonny attempted to rush the smoke of the Flint and caught four torpedoes for her troubles. Though the torpedoes of the Flint are more easily used with their 9.2km range, often it will be point blank shots like this where you make the best use of them. Maneuverability Top Speed: 32.5 knotsTurning Radius: 610mRudder Shift: 8.4s There is no difference here between the Flint and the Atlanta. The Flint has what could be considered "average" USN Cruiser mobility. She handles very comfortably. In the turn she feels more akin to a fat Destroyer, like one of the high tier Soviet incarnations between the Tashkent and Khabarovsk with a comparable turning circle and rudder shift. This is a theme repeated on cruisers like the Cleveland, Indianapolis and Pensacola. Though not lightning fast on answering her rudder, it's responsive enough -- safe and predictable. Where she lacks is the power to sprint. Looking at her guns, the Flint seems ideally suited to hunting down enemy destroyers, but the truth of the matter is that she's not fast enough to do so. There are no destroyers at her tier that are anywhere near slow enough to be unable to disengage from a Flint set on pursuing her. Worse, there are many cruisers that are not only faster, but much faster than the Flint as well. The IJN Heavy Cruisers have speeds that clock in between 34.5 knots and 35.5 knots. This means that if things go wrong, the Flint can't outrun her pursuers. It's worth keeping in mind that some of the Battleships in her Matchmaking spread can reach 33.0 knots. So while she's not a slow ship, she's not fast either. She can easily keep pace with the fleet, but she's going to struggle to outrun any of her contemporaries. It's really only against lower tiered Super-Dreadnoughts or facing enemies that are more inclined to bring their weapons to bear than use their speed where you can dictate the engagement distance in the Flint. DurabilityHit Points: 26,600Citadel Protection: Up to 89mm.Bow & Deck Armour: Minimum of 16mm each.Torpedo Damage Reduction: None. The Flint (and the Atlanta-class as a whole) are Destroyers that suffer from the citadel-penetration mechanic. Like other ships that suffer from this ignoble designation, such as the Yubari, Iwaki and Tenryu, it's just something you have to learn to accept. What defines all of these ships is their paper-thin armour and their low hit point total for their tier. For the Flint, this is magnified. With 26,600hp, she less structural capacity than the tier 3 protected cruiser, the St.Louis. With a minimum of 16mm of armour protecting the ship just about everywhere, you can rest easy that no cruiser AP round will overmatch her armour, but this disappears when you begin facing Battleships. Even bow on, the tiny 283mm rifles from the Scharnhorst can (and will) plow clean through your ship's innards like the armour wasn't even there. Against the Battleships she faces, the Flint can be sunk with as little as 6 penetrating (not even citadel -- just penetrating) hits. Many Destroyers can sink her with as little as two torpedo hits. This fragility is a real downside of the vessel and combined with her short range, her achilles heel. The Flint has to get in close to make use of her weapon systems. But up close, the weapon systems of enemy ships also amplify in effectiveness. The Flint needs to play carefully, wait for the right moment and think not just about doing damage but also how to extract itself after the fact to hide from reprisals. Her Smoke Generator can assist greatly with this. Misuse it and she's easy prey. The weapon systems aboard the Flint are also rather fragile. High explosive shells from destroyers landing in the same area can and will knock out her turrets. Larger caliber guns can manage this in a single shot. Though not as chronic as what the Atlanta used to suffer, don't be surprised if you lose turrets or torpedoes to even what feel like glancing hits. The Flint has so few hit points that even a single torpedo hit, like this one from an enemy Kiev, can be absolutely catastrophic. This stripped more than half the health off of the Flint in a single hit. Two would have sunk her with damage to spare. Concealment & CamouflageSurface Detection Range: 11.0km Air Detection Range: 6.4km Minimum Surface Detection Range: 9.39km Concealment Penalty while Firing: +3.81km The Flint isn't a large ship and she hides very easily. On any other cruiser, her concealment range would be considered exemplary with the potential to fire concealed on the surface at a range of a mere 13.2km. Unfortunately for the Flint (and fortunately for everyone else), this far exceeds the stock range of her 127mm guns. Upgraded, these weapons can only reach 100m beyond this distance. This also precludes her from being able to launch torpedoes from stealth. When the Flint pulls the trigger, she is seen. And if she's seen, she has to worry about being shot at. However, it's not a complete waste. Due to her short aerial detection range, the Flint is a potential nightmare for carrier players. With the ability to extend the range of her guns to 7.2km, by carefully leaving her AA guns disabled until she is spotted, she can wreak havoc on attack-craft waves. Planes, making an approach on what they believe to be an isolated target suddenly stumble on the Flint escorting alongside. Unmasking her AA guns at that exact moment, even a quick-responding carrier player will find their attack groups shredded. Bullying planes aside, the tragedy for the Flint is that while she has a good surface detection range, it's not good enough to let her easily sneak up on enemy destroyers in the same manner. With a 2 to 3.5km disparity between her own concealment values and those of the ships her armament would make her so adept at hunting at close range, destroyers have plenty of time (and plenty of speed) to reverse course and keep from being detected. The Flint can mitigate this somewhat by chasing a couple of kilometers behind her own destroyers, ready to assist on whatever enemy tin cans they light up. Everything written above could also be said about the Atlanta. But here we take a different path: The Flint has a Smoke Generator. And this changes everything. Though her Smoke Generator can be used defensively, it is much better used in an offensive role. With guns silent, using her good surface detection range, the Flint can silence her engines and coast to a slow stop, deploying smoke as she readies her position (preferably near a spit of headland for some cover). Using the vision provided by the rest of her team, her guns can engage with impunity. This throws every concern about her surface detection range right out the window. It buys the Flint the time she needs to make use of her guns. The treat of her torpedoes can trump anyone fool enough to try and close the distance and unmask her. With a 2 minute duration on her smoke and a 2 minute, 40 second reset timer from the last cloud to be released, the Flint is a potential nightmare for the enemy team. Two Flints working in tandem, with the right combination of premium consumables and Captain Skills, can potentially sit in their own smoke for nearly sixteen minutes straight without ever fearing being detected. Anything lit within 11km of this smoke deserves the rain of 300rpm that will descend upon them. This trick isn't invincible, by any means. Savvy players can still return fire at the root of the shell fountains and score some easy damage. Enemy destroyers are also fully encouraged to drop a heavy volume of fish towards any cloud of smoke that's spitting shells. These Smoke Generators mitigate one of the Atlanta-class' biggest weaknesses: Once spotted, they're too fragile to survive reprisal. In order to shoot, they get lit. The Flint can all but eliminate this risk and fire with full confidence that they can remain unseen for two minute intervals. There should be no surprises here. The Flint's AA power can be downright phenomenal and a near impenetrable wall for mid-tier carriers that send their air groups in one at a time. Anti-Aircraft DefenseAA Battery Calibers: 127mm, 40mm, 20mmAA Umbrella Ranges: 5.0km, 3.5km, 2.0kmAA DPS per Aura: 91 / 90 / 43 Tier for tier, the Flint has one of the best AA armaments in the game with a heavy mix of long and medium range anti-aircraft power. Compared to the Atlanta, she sacrifices some long range hitting power with the loss of four dual-purpose 127mm rifles in exchange for a much upgraded compliment of Bofors and Oerlikon automatic cannons. Upgraded, between modules and Captain Skills, and the Atlanta's anti-aircraft umbrella becomes truly monstrous for a tier 7 cruiser. Where the Flint really shows its laurels as an anti-aircraft cruiser is with her Defensive Fire consumable. She and the Atlanta are the only ships in the game with unlimited charges of this ability. I say again: The Flint has unlimited charges of her Defensive Fire consumable. There is seldom a reason not to use this ability when there are enemy aircraft in the vicinity. Even without specializing into her anti-aircraft abilities, she will still comfortably damage and destroy all but the highest tiered planes with almost laughable ease. Still, a Flint should be wary of aircraft. Good AA power does not grant immunity. If she ends up blind inside one of her smoke screens without spotters, it's possible to sneak aircraft up on her and she can't take many hits before she goes to the bottom. Priority must be kept on torpedo bombers above all others. Overall Impressions Skill Floor: Simple/ Casual / Challenging / Difficult While the Smoke Generator on the Flint helps mitigate mistakes, she is still a very fragile vessel. Her weapon systems are also lackluster and without proper use and target selection, she will not rack up damage easily. Being very short ranged increases the likelihood of something going horribly wrong and preventing the player from surviving a miscalculation. Skill Ceiling:Low/ Moderate / High / Extreme The Flint isn't like other cruisers, which allows you to react to changes and be rather flexible. She requires a lot of forethought to maximize her damage output and survivability. While not on the same level as the Atlanta due to her smoke, playing her carelessly will get her sunk in a hurry. The meta involves picking your moment, knowing where on the maps are best to set up and learning how to bait and evade as needed. She doesn't get an 'extreme' rating because of her smoke launcher safety net which, let's be honest, greatly simplifies matters. Mouse's Summary: Though she has a frightening rate of fire, the challenge with playing this ship comes with setting up opportunities to put her guns to work. They are are very short ranged and against distant or heavily armoured targets, they need a lot of time to whittle down enemies -- time where the enemy could be shooting back, setting up their radar or dumping fish in your direction. If you can manage to keep her guns singing, however, the damage she can stack can be frightening. Though not on par with Battleships, it's very respectable for a cruiser. She can murder destroyers with ease given the chance or any cruiser that strays into point blank range and gives their broadside. The opportunities you get to use her torpedoes aren't common but they provide an enormous boost to your damage totals. Her Smoke Generator greatly facilitates taking an aggressive stance to better make use of her guns and survive afterwards. She remains an incredibly fragile craft and not forgiving at all of mistakes. Again, her Smoke Generator provides a bit of a safety net. Between her smoke screens though, she's exceedingly vulnerable. I'm loathe to call the Flint overpowered. She's an Atlanta with Training Wheels. She's been playing too much Dungeons and Dragons and now she's got wizard powers and can cast Wall of Fog on command. She doesn't always need smoke. If the enemy is distracted (or in this case, too panicked to return fire), you can find a nice rock to hide from their friends and pew pew with impunity. The Flint makes doing everything the Atlanta does easier. Much of this is due to the presence of her Smoke Generator, but not all of it. She has marginally better overall anti-aircraft firepower and there's no arguing that her torpedoes as just outright better. Even with the slower top speed of her fish, a 9.2km range is so much more effective than a 4.5km range. There are effectively two things the Flint allows you to do that the Atlanta does not: Be aggressive. Make mistakes. The first is the reason you'll see that even among the top players, the Flint does more damage on average than the lead of her class. You can single out an enemy, make an approach and the blow your smoke and pew pew until they're either dead or move out of range. The latter is more likely, by the way. Few people are stupid enough to stay within 13km of a death-cloud spitting 127mm shells. If you want a decisive kill with the Flint, you have to get really close before popping that smoke and that's a bit of a gamble. But that's okay because of point number two. When things go pear shaped, the Flint will let you make a mistake and survive. Did you beach yourself while under fire? It's okay, blow smoke and get away. Did you get ambushed by an enemy cruiser you didn't think was going to be there? That's okay. Blow smoke and turn away. Did you get lit by aircraft in front of three Battleships? That's okay. Blow smoke and wait for them to pass or get blown up by your monstrous AA power. The Flint has survived twice as many games as the Atlanta. No wonder she does more damage. Keep in mind that short of Destroyers, the Flint cannot kill anything quickly at range. Her 127mm rounds rely on their fire starting ability to stack damage and when attacking an enemy Battleship, that doesn't happen fast. The sequence usually goes: Shoot until one blaze starts. Adjust fire until the second blaze starts. Battleship will then activate their Damage Control Party, starting a 10s to 30s immunity window. Keep shooting until one or more fires start again and stick. Reap the big damage totals as your prey burns merrily away in multiple locations. It can take as many as 50 hits before a fire starts, statistically speaking -- or roughly 30s of continuous shooting to set your first blaze. Mathematically, it should be rather difficult to set a Battleship on fire, have them put it out and then do it again. But if this is the case, why are the Flint's damage totals proving so effective? Well, one of the main reasons has a lot to do with her short range. The Flint can only attack ships that expose themselves. It's likely that it's never just the Flint that's likely to be shooting at you. There will be other ships too that are hammering the exposed Battleship (or Cruiser). They may have already had to put out a couple of blazes before the Flint's fire hoses begin soaking her in flammable, explody materials. The Flint is the queen of focusing fire -- she's a cleanup hitter looking for weak and vulnerable prey and she's really good at making sure beleaguered and crippled ships burn to death. The Atlanta-class has always been a glass cannon. In fact the Atlanta is generally considered a bad and weak ship. It's hard to swallow that one consumable is all it took to dial her from weak to a domineering presence. But what it has done is turned the Flint from a destroyer with a citadel that Battleships snacked on to a destroyer with a citadel that actually acts like a destroyer and scares the pants off of Battleships. A North Carolina-class battleship charges the smoke cloud of the Flint. She committed to the narrows to avoid a quick death at the hands of the Flint's allied Battleships. Now she faces a slow death at the hands of a tier 7 cruiser. She has to brave a gauntlet of incessant HE spam, stacked fires and dodge waves of torpedoes. This isn't fun, by the way. Well, for the North Carolina it isn't fun (the Flint's having a blast). But the North Carolina can't do anything but hope the smoke dissipates on time (it won't), or that the Flint makes a mistake (she won't) or that she can survive long enough to get lucky with her main battery and blow the Flint out of the water (she doesn't). And that's all dependent if she can dodge the torpedo drop that's incoming (she won't). See, the Flint isn't like your typical lone-wolf destroyers, roaming about on her own. By the very nature of her large size and slower speed, she likes to hang out with other ships. This mitigates one of the weaknesses of gunship destroyers -- they're often easier to isolate. Their high speed takes them well away from their friends. Cruisers and Carriers can trap them within their own smoke then charge their positions with a combination of Radar and Hydroacoustic Search. You can't charge a Flint if she's backed up by the guns and torpedoes of her allies. This is what often makes her so powerful. Yes, she's 'merely' hiding in smoke, but she's inaccessible until you chew through her allies giving her covering fire. You can forget about using Radar or Hydroacoustic Search to unmask her if you can't get close enough to do so safely in the first place. The Flint may seem unduly powerful, but she is so easily countered by a little number -- 12.0km. Get outside of that range and she's all but useless. When she lays smoke, back off. Her smoke charge becomes wasted. And even if she has specialized into Advanced Fire Training for that extra reach, the flight time out to those ranges is 13s or more. WASD and return fire. Better yet, throw fish at her if you have them. It's not easy hitting someone in smoke, but neither is trying to hit an evasive target with over a 13s lead time. Odds are you'll land damaging hits on each other about as frequently and the Flint has less hit points than you do. So when she starts barking, give her space -- clear out the ships around her. Then move in. And this is perhaps the most significant problem, I feel. It's not fun to play against a Flint. Like dealing with torpedo walls or being deleted by overlapping squadrons of aircraft, there are solutions to counter the Flint's poison smoke cloud but it's not fun. Reliably, it requires someone to stick their neck out. And let's face facts. It's going to be rare that: A.) You have someone willing to risk themselves to delete one ship. B.) It will be even more rare that they will always be in the right ship or position to do this. and C.) What are the chances their team will respond correctly and back them up in order to remove the Flint in the first place? The Flint's numbers are over performing. Yes, she is objectively better than the Atlanta. But she hasn't been improved so much as to unbalance things. Her carry potential is entirely dependent on having team mates spotting for her. None of the tricks she's performing haven't already been pulled by Fletchers, and Kievs and other Destroyer gunships, yet now people lose their minds. American-bias at it's finest, if you ask me. The Flint isn't unstoppable. She's just an Atlanta that thinks she's a wizard. And the real magic trick is that everyone believes it. Would I Recommend?Keep in mind, you're not going to be spending quid on this. No amount of money you through at the screen is going to facilitate getting a Flint. She's earned solely by playing through three Seasons of Ranked Battles all of the way to Rank One. My contacts at Wargaming tell me that there are no plans to sell her. Ever. So, knowing that reaching Rank One takes roughly 100 to 400 games (which, including queue times average out to about 15 to 20 minutes each), ask yourself if the Flint is worth 75 to 400 hours worth of game play to acquire. For Random Battle Grinding: The Flint is an excellent training ship for USN DD Captains. She uses all of the same skills, almost of the same tricks and she's got a few others besides (Hydroacoustic Search or Defensive Fire). Right now she's performing phenomenally in Random Battles meaning she's raking in tons of experience for training and loads of credits too. For Competitive Gaming: If Season Five of Ranked Battles is again capped at tier 7, you're going to see these ships appearing. They play very well to the Ranked Battle meta, with being able to facilitate covering Battleships with long lasting smoke and having the added bonus of being an excellent anti-DD weapon. For Collectors: If you're going to slave away at Ranked Battles, don't you want some kind of trophy to show for it? I know I do... #GetBoat. You can bet that this ship will turn a lot of heads over the years if this remains the only way to acquire her. So for bragging rights alone, she's definitely worth while. For Fun Factor: The Atlanta-class is a lot of fun. The Flint is no different. Pooping rainbows and swatting planes from the sky with impunity? Dumping fish into people sailing in straight lines that aren't expecting an American cruiser to have torpedoes? Sign me up. What really makes the Flint overpowered is team work. She cannot sight her own targets outside her own smoke. She can't stay permanently concealed in smoke without a partner. Friends OP. Please nerf. Outfitting your Flint Recommended Modules Like the Atlanta, depending on the role you choose, this can change out the load-out you choose for the Flint. The first slot is best used for Main Armaments Modification 1. Really, it's the best choice and not much has changed since the module overhaul. Yes, you'll detonate more often. No, it's not statistically significant in regards to your win rate or overall performance. Quit your whinin'. The second slot will be the module that you choose to define the roll you're going to take. The best will always be Aiming Systems Modification 1 as this improves the performance of your main battery and makes your torpedoes quicker to aim. You should select this if you're only interested in doing damage. However, if you want to emphasize your AA power, AA Guns Modification 2 is a good choice. This will increase your AA auras by 20% and makes the Flint a real nightmare for carriers as it effectively creates a no-fly zone around your ship. For your third slot, they're all terrible! No, really. Pick whatever you want. I usually take Damage Control System Modification 1. It's not that good, but none of the choices really are. For your final slot, Steering Gears Modification 2 is arguably the best choice. This will reduce her rudder shift time down to 6.7s. With all of the time you'll spend sitting in smoke, Propulsion Modification 2 isn't a bad. It will let you jump start up to 5 knots in a hurry which can be a life saver if you're suddenly under torpedo attack. Recommended Consumables Okay, now we get fun (and maybe a little controversial). First, equip premium versions of your Damage Control Party and Smoke Generator. This is super important as it will reduce the reset timer on each (always handy) but it will also give you an additional charge of your Smoke Generator (bringing the total up to 3). I cannot stress enough how important both of these two options are. If you pinch pennies here, you're greatly reducing the overall ease at which you can play this ship. Maybe you like the challenge. Hats off to you if you do. I would strongly recommend keeping your Defensive Fire consumable over swapping it out for Hydroacoustic Search. First of all, your Defensive Fire consumable has unlimited charges -- it's one of the Flint's advantages and it's a bit of a waste to throw that away. This will also allow you to more easily swat down spotting aircraft intent on keeping you lit for their team, or the invariable desperate torpedo plane strike that will be thrown your way to try and wrest you out of your smoke. This isn't to say that Hydroacoustic Search isn't a bad choice. It will help you survive if you're blinded by smoke or by terrain and you're convinced the enemy is rushing you. This can give you the time needed to evade or get your own fish off to swat your opponents. Neither are bad choices. Both are situational. Recommended Captain Skills Again, like with your modules, your choice of Captain Skills will largely be determined if you want to emphasize gunnery or AA-power. The nice thing is that these builds largely overlap with American Destroyer Captain Skills. For the first tier, Basic Fire Training is really the only one you should be looking at. This will increase her rate of fire to 13.2rpm. It has the added benefit of giving your AA guns some more teeth. At the second tier, Last Stand is your best choice. She is fragile and even near misses from high explosive shells can (and will) knock out your rudder. You can also expect to lose your engines to even destroyer-caliber guns that catch you broadside. At the third tier, Superintendent is an absolute must, regardless of what build you're considering. This provides you with an additional charge with your Smoke Generator. With a premium version of the consumable, this will bring your total charges up to 4. Vigilance is a nice secondary choice, but only consider it as a follow up -- not as a priority skill. Here's where the choice gets difficult.Demolition Expert is arguably one of the most important for the Flint. This increases her fire chance from 5% to 8% per shell and is an enormous performance upgrade, particularly if you want to focus on doing damage to larger capital ships.Advanced Fire Training is better suited to AA-spec'd Captains rather than Gunship Captains. At ranges over 11km, the Flint's shell flight time becomes downright punitive and it's especially difficult to land hits on target. Still the extra range is nice -- this will increase it to 13.3km -- and if you can land the hits, then there's no harm in investing here. The primary purpose of this skill, though, should be considered to boost your AA range. If you already took the AA Guns Mod 2, then this will further it up to a 7.2km maximum range for your 127mm guns. Lastly, Manual Fire Control for AA Guns is reserved once more for AA spec'd Captains. This should only be considered as a follow up for Advanced Fire Training and this will give your 127mm guns a lot of teeth. If you want to have fun, you could take Jack of All Trades at tier 5. This would reduce the reset timer of your Smoke Generators from 160s to 136s -- this would leave only a small 15s window between when your last cloud dissipates and your next charge is available. However, Concealment Expert is arguably the best choice among the tier 5 skills for the Flint, but will only be available to Captains that take a single tier 4 skill (unless you're insane and manage to grind out the 10 million xp for your 19th skill point). Concealment Expert will reduce her surface detection down to 9.4km.