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Found 34 results

  1. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review - Agincourt

    The following is a review of Agincourt, the tier V British premium battleship. This ship was provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes at no cost to myself; I did not pay to get access to this ship. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as of patch 0.10.4. Please be aware that her performance may change in the future. Summary: A slow but stealthy WWI era Dreadnought armed with fourteen 305mm guns in seven turrets (!) and a powerful secondary battery. PROS Dispersed armour scheme with an icebreaker bow & stern and resilient upper hull and amidships deck. Comfortable forward fire angles for most guns and that gorgeous Friday 360º turret traverse. Massive broadside of fourteen 305mm guns. Improved HE penetration. Powerful, accurate secondaries with long range and increased rate of fire. Tiny surface detection. CONS None of her armour is especially thick, making her easy to damage with battleship AP if not perfectly angled. Painfully long 36 second reload. Horrible main battery dispersion with 1.5 sigma. Terrible ... nay, craptacular AP penetration. Reduced HE damage. Slow and cumbersome. No anti-aircraft firepower whatsoever. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme For an inexperienced player, Agincourt is a bit of a rough ride. This is all down to her horrible rate of fire. At 36 seconds, a missed volley is downright painful and this is further complicated by the poor performance of both her AP and HE shells. You might aim properly but still find everything shatter or ricochet. There are further challenges with trying to manage her poor armour values and sluggish handling. At least they don't need to worry about managing AA defence as she doesn't have any. Admittedly, Agincourt's skill ceiling all comes from managing the brawling side of things. If you ignore that potential, then her skill ceiling is no higher than Moderate. But Agincourt fully encourages you to get your brawl on and it's a lot of fun. Agincourt embarrasses a full health KGV in a joust with a Devastating Strike. Options One of the nice things about reviewing lower-tiered ships is that there are fewer options to worry about. Still, there's quite a bit of weirdness going on here so pay attention. Consumables Her Damage Control Party is standard for a British battleship. It is active for 15 seconds, repairing all critical damage and removing fires and floods. It has unlimited charges and an 80 second reset timer. Agincourt's Repair Party is strange only in that it's perfectly normal. It lacks the additional damage queue normally found on British battleships nor does it heal an additional amount. Instead it queues up 50% of penetration damage from shells, bombs, rockets and torpedoes, 10% of citadel damage and 100% of everything else. Each charge heals up to 14% of her starting health over 28 seconds. She begins with four charges and an 80 second reset timer. Upgrades Business as usual here. Start with Main Armaments Modification 1. Then take Damage Control System Modification 1. For your third slot, you have a choice between main battery optimization or going with some secondary craziness. Aiming Systems Modification 1 is generally optimal for your main battery performance though there's a good argument to be made for taking Main Battery Modification 2 to reduce the time it takes to switch aim between targets. HOWEVER, the Agincourt does very well with a secondary specialization (yes, you read that right), so taking Secondary Gun Battery Modification 1 is the start of that magical journey. Commander Skills There are two builds worth considering here. The first is your typical fire resistance specialization. Start with your choice of Emergency Repair Specialist (1) or Gun Feeder (1). That's 1pt spent. Grease the Gears (2) is next. That's 3pts total. Basics of Survivability (3) is the first of our fire-mitigation skills. We're now up to 6pts. And Fire Prevention (4) caps us off. That's 10pts. From here, you're encouraged to pick skills that again emphasize survivability and main battery performance where possible. Good skills include: Emergency Repair Expert (4), Concealment Expert (4), Adrenaline Rush (3) and Priority Target (2) along with doubling back for the tier 1 skill you skipped. The second build is a brawling spec. You want to pair this with the Secondary Gun Battery Modification 1 upgrade for maximum effect. It starts pretty familiar with either Emergency Repair Specialist (1) or Gun Feeder (1) again but we also toss on Pyrotechnician (1) as a tertiary option (in both meanings of the word). That's 1pt spent. Grease the Gears (2) is still the best option, though Priority Target (2) is equally good for dealing with low-tier lolibotes, so it becomes a choice here. Now we're up to 3pts. Long Range Secondary Battery Shells (3) is the first major deviation we're seeing. Grab it. This is 6pts spent. Finish this off with Improved Secondary Battery Aiming (4). And that's 10pts. From here, grab a mix of survivability and gun performance skills along with doubling back for some of your favourites you had to pass over. Good skills include: Emergency Repair Expert (4), Concealment Expert (4), Adrenaline Rush (3). Fire Prevention (4) and Basics of Survivability (3) still have their place but you'll have to make some compromises somewhere. It is worth mentioning two controversial skills for Agincourt's secondary build. These are Inertial Fuse for HE Shells (2) and Swift in Silence (4). The former will make Agincourt's 76mm secondaries capable of directly damaging most tier VI and VII destroyer extremities, along with buffing her 152mm secondaries to be capable of doing the same versus tier VI and VII battleships. This comes at the cost of gutting their fire chance, which is a pretty stiff blow when dueling other dreadnoughts, especially with the prevalence of dispersed armour schemes that even the improved HE pen on her 152mm won't be able to best. Still, it's hard to argue with more direct damage. As for the latter skill, I go into more detail in the agility section below. I'm not a fan. Camouflage Agincourt has access to two camouflage patterns, Type 9 and Veteran of Jutland. They are cosmetic swaps of one another and both provide the following bonuses: 3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells -10% to post-battle service costs +50% experience earned. You can unlock the alternative colour palette (the blue) by completing the appropriate section of the Royal Navy Destroyers collection. Agincourt's Jutland camo. Like the ship itself, this is only available from a loot box. Where's that puky emoji? Firepower Main Battery: Fourteen 305mm guns in 7x2 turrets in an A-B-P-Q-X-Y-Z layout. A-B are in a superfiring configuration. P faces forward, Q aft. Y-turret superfires over X and Z, with X facing forward. Secondary Battery: Twenty 152mm guns and ten 76mm guns. Fourteen 152mm guns are mounted in casemates in the upper hull, four mounted in casemates in the fore and aft superstructure and two deck mounts straddling the main bridge. Eight of the 76mm are mounted in casemates on the upper-superstructure with a pair of turrets one platform higher on the rear superstructure. Fourteen Guns and They're All Crap Agincourt's guns are terrible. Ostensibly she uses the same guns as Bellerophon and Dreadnought, the tier III British battleships. However, they somehow manage to be worse on a per-gun basis. Specifically, Agincourt's 305mm guns have a longer reload than her tier III predecessors, worse dispersion and gutted HE performance. Yes, you have fourteen of the bloody things, but they're terrible. Unequivocally terrible. If Oklahoma weren't a thing, Agincourt's guns easily takes the prize for the worst gun performance at her tier. Thankfully, they have two redeeming qualities. She has fourteen of them. She has improved HE penetration. The major issue facing Agincourt's gun performance is her AP shells. If Oklahoma's AP was bad, Agincourt's is worse. It's so bad you can't reliably penetrate battleship belt armour outside of 8km distances. This necessitates keeping a ready list in your head of what the armour thicknesses are of select battleships and, in turn, what ranges you can engage them. Does New York have in excess of 340mm of belt armour, or is it only 280mm? At what range can Agincourt citadel a broadsiding Izmail? How much relative armour does a Conte di Cavour have at a 50º angle? When in doubt, you can always aim higher and hope for penetrating hits but you're working against troll, 1.5 sigma dispersion. Now you could be forgiven for thinking that Agincourt's AP penetration woes would make her better at landing citadel hits on cruisers, but this simply is not the case. Unlike other low-tier, small-calibre guns, she does not have the shortened, 0.01s fuse timers ideally set to for dealing with the smaller breadth of low-tier cruisers. Instead she has the longer, 0.033s fuse timers that are better suited for plunging deep into a heavily armoured vessel in order to destroy machine spaces and magazines. Thus, Agincourt's AP shells work at cross purposes to themselves. She does not have the penetration to readily duel with other dreadnoughts and her fuse timers are poorly set for popping the thinner citadels of low-tier cruisers. About the only targets where this low penetration and long fuse timers work to her advantage is blasting shells down the length of bow-in ships you can overmatch. Waiting that painfully long 36 second reload, setting up for that perfect broadside shot only to watch everything thrown at your opponent over penetrate or shatter is heartbreaking. That's painfully commonplace. Agincourt has some of the worst AP penetration values at her tier. And just to make things more frustrating, she has abnormally long shell fuse timers too which makes over-penetrations against cruisers more likely. So they suck on both ends of the spectrum. The two differences between the HE shells on HMS Dreadnought and Bellerophon versus those of Agincourt. Graphic pulled from gamemodels3d.com which i cannot recommend highly enough for players looking to expand their knowledge into the more esoteric details of World of Warships. Things get a little better with Agincourt's HE shells, but it's not all sunshine, rainbows and puppies here either. You need only look at the difference between Bellerophon and Dreadnought's HE shells versus those Agincourt was dealt. Dreadnought's HE shells hit 18% harder than Agincourt's and have slightly improved fire setting characteristics. Thus Agincourt's broadside is the equivalent of a 12-gun British battleship, not 14. Agincourt's HE DPM is little better than Wyoming, the tier IV American battleship, though the differences count. Perhaps the best saving grace of Agincourt's HE shells is that they retain the 1/4 HE penetration of the British battleship tech-tree. At 76mm, the modest damage output of her HE rounds becomes much more formidable and she is capable of landing citadel hits on a whole list of cruisers within her matchmaking, including but not limited to such prominent targets as the American Omaha-class and Pensacola-class. Farming up some of those black ribbons with HE shells is very satisfying, especially after being repeatedly trolled by her AP, let me tell you. Guess which ammo you'll be relying on? Agincourt's a decent fire setter. If you can land the hits, a full broadside is quite formidable. The catch to that, of course, is landing those hits in the first place. Her dispersion isn't kind nor is her reload. There just isn't anything really redeeming about Agincourt's main battery firepower short of the number of barrels. That 36 second reload is painful in the extreme. Her 4º/s gun rotation is lame, but at least she cannot out-turn her turrets (even if you slap on a Sierra Mike signal and the Swift in Silence commander skill). Her fire arcs aren't great on the whole. Some of her gun turrets are amazing but in order to maximize her firepower, you have to expose a lot of broadside. Her ballistics are incredibly floaty, with her shells suffering from a heavy amount of drag. And finally there's that awful shotgun dispersion of her's which can foil even the most carefully aimed shot. On the flip side, every now and then you'll land this amazing, Devastating Strike and it will make you wonder why you can't do it more consistently. I'm not a fan of Agincourt's main battery guns, if you can't tell. You can make them work, don't get me wrong, but it's an uphill battle. Okay, making this graphic nearly broke my brain. Y-Turret is my favourite (TGIF! ♥). Not only does it have great arcs, it can also rotate 360º. So long as you keep P and Q turret masked, Agincourt's forward fire arcs are very good. Historically, these seven turrets were named after the days of the week, from Sunday through Saturday, fore to aft. One of my standard dispersion tests. This is 180 AP shells fired at 15km. Agincourt is equipped with Aiming Systems Modification 1. Shots are coming in from right to left with the stationary Fuso-bot effectively bow-tanking. Agincourt's 1.5 sigma makes her gunnery all kinds of wonky. Their low velocity has their shell fall angle coming in at a rather steep 17º angle. I Need a Hero! ♫ Agincourt's secondaries to the rescue. Low-tier secondaries have long sat in the shadow. This was largely owing to the old Manual Fire Control for Secondary Armament skill which provided a 60% dispersion reduction to tier VII+ ships that designated a target for their secondaries but only a 15% for lower tiered vessels. For four skill points, it just wasn't worthwhile. That's changed with the skill rework, with low-tier battleships gaining the same flat 35% dispersion reduction as higher tiered vessels. So while high-tiered battleships definitely had the potential of their secondaries nerfed with the rework, lower-tiered vessels had their's buffed. But there's more to secondary performance than how well it synergizes with a particular commander build. There are four main elements to look for to see if secondaries are worth specliazing into: Range. This is the real kicker. If your secondaries don't have the reach, they're not of much use. A 5km base range is really the minimum I consider to be viable for secondary builds. Between skills, signals and upgrades, a 5km secondary can reach out to 7.56km which is outside of torpedo range for most destroyers, giving the guns some comfortable use. Most low-tier secondaries sit between 4km and 5km in reach. Agincourt's have a 5.5km base range, maximizing out to 8.32km which is very usable in lower-tiered matches. Volume of Fire. You need a lot of guns and/or a fast rate of fire to make a secondary build worthwhile. This simplifies to looking at the damage-per-minute potential of the base secondaries and seeing if they're putting out big enough numbers to make opponents balk. Agincourt has more DPM potential than a lot of the high-tier secondary heavy-weights. Yes, really. The reload on her guns is ridiculously short, with a mere 2.7 seconds on her 76mm and only 4 seconds on her 152mm guns. She puts out a lot of fire, very quickly. Penetration. Having a lot of potential damage doesn't matter much if those guns are incapable of directly doing any harm to the targets they hit. This is what largely damns a lot of high-tier French battleships. This is one area where low-tier battleships luck out. Structural armour plate at low tiers allows for even small calibre guns to be useful. Agincourt's 76mm can still directly damage the hulls of all tier IV and V cruisers and destroyers and even those of the very light cruisers at tier VI and VII. Her 152mm are a threat to anything but tier VI+ battleships and select heavy cruisers. Accuracy. The final piece of the puzzle is accuracy. If this isn't present but all of the others are excellent, then it can be overlooked. However, having this is definitely the icing on the cake. Agincourt has improved secondary accuracy on ALL of it's guns, not just the casemate weapons as found on ships like Warspite and Iron Duke. This gives her Massachusetts-style dispersion patterns on her secondaries. Agincourt's secondaries fall under the "accurate" category. Agincourt ticks all of the right boxes. Good range, solid DPM, workable penetration and great accuracy. I am firmly of the opinion that if you do not specialize Agincourt with a deep secondary build, you are doing it wrong -- or at the very least, you are missing out on one heck of a ride. While I can appreciate that some people do not find the AI driven guns to be entertaining, there is no arguing their efficacy on this ship. Fully tricked out, Agincourt's secondaries shred exposed destroyers and I've seen them make cruisers and battleships panic. As if their direct damage weren't enough, they're INSANE fire starters -- like Worcester levels of fire starting potential. If you've already been throwing HE shells from your main battery guns about, your secondaries will often find targets that have their Damage Control Party consumable on cool down, making for some easy damage as you move in to a joust. I cannot sing high enough praises for these weapons. Bring them into range whenever possible. You won't be disappointed. Have some perspective. Of the 452k done by Agincourt's secondaries, 330k comes from her higher penetration 152mm casemates. These can be buffed with IFHE to make them capable of damaging the hull extremities of anything within her matchmaking. If mapping her main battery guns nearly killed me, this turned me into a trigonometry zombie. This maps the fire arcs of Agincourt's secondaries with her 152mm in red and her 76mm in light blue. Agincourt's secondaries have most of their arcs weighted rearward. However, do not ignore the fact that she can still bring six of her 152mm guns to bear on a 30º angle forward, giving her a very meaty weight of fire on a brawling aspect while maintaining auto-ricochet angles. Go ahead and take IFHE if you want. She's got FPM to spare. Summary Terrible (HORRIBLE) main battery AP shells but decent HE. Long reload and wonky dispersion makes for very trollish gunnery. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it's heart breaking. If you're not spec'ing Agincourt for secondaries, you're missing out. Seriously. Durability Hit Points: 48,400 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 19mm / 13mm / 152mm / 38mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 229mm belt + 38mm turtleback + 38mm citadel wall. Torpedo Damage Reduction: 14% Dispersed Armour The thickness of Agincourt's armour is a serious issue. In order to cram so many guns onto her hull, her armour was compromised, shaved down to the level of a WWI era battlecruiser. She simply does not have the overall thickness needed to repel battleship calibre AP shells at any range. Even heavy cruiser AP rounds become an issue at closer distances. Without careful angling, Agincourt surrenders too many hit points to high-penetration AP attacks. The thick plates covering the ship ensure that every AP shell that does best the armour will fuse for full damage. The only ray of sunshine here is that while she may not have thick armour overall, it is well dispersed which can be downright troll against certain attacks. For cruisers and destroyers slinging HE and SAP shells, Agincourt has only a few vulnerable areas, namely her bow, stern and her small superstructure. Everything else they throw at her will shatter or ricochet which makes Agincourt feel quite tanky. Similarly, these vulnerable points are the only areas where battleships can land overmatching penetrating hits when Agincourt angles correctly. With her icebreaker bow, waterline shots will simply ricochet off. It pays to keep her gun fire angles that we discussed earlier in mind. Unmasking P & Q turret will generally leave her vulnerable to returned AP shells. You don't want to nose in perfectly as this will bait shots into her vulnerable upper snoot and barbettes, but sit her at a slight angle. If you can unmask everyone's favourite day of the week (Y-Turret) then you're doing it right. Thus Agincourt's armour protection rewards player skill; both for the attacker and defender. Knowing how to exploit her weaknesses bipasses a lot of her strengths. Knowing how to properly angle her can mitigate a lot of incoming damage. Look at that lovely dispersed armour scheme. Agincourt's armour is excellent when angled in a close-range brawl, though it doesn't quite stand up to long-range punishment. Still, keep her angled and she'll serve you well, resisting AP, SAP and HE shells equally. Do it wrong and those thick armour plates will ensure that battleship calibre AP shells fuse and deal full penetration damage. Her big 19mm snoot and butt are obvious weak points. Citadel & Turret Protection Understandably, the issues with her thin belt carry over to a poor citadel protection scheme. In particular, Agincourt is highly vulnerable to 380mm+ calibre AP shells as there are sections of her citadel which may be overmatched; namely the walls of her boilers, machine spaces and the roof. Still, Agincourt isn't a free meal for overmatching weapons. There is a hidden 25mm and 38mm plate in her bow and stern that caps directly on top of her 102mm and 152mm belt respectively, along with her 38mm turtleback. While the 25mm plate cannot resist 380mm+ AP shells, the latter 38mm will foil shots that come in a bit higher. Her turtleback isn't a significant barrier on its own. However, if she is angled, it's one more plate that may prompt a ricochet and save her for from taking a citadel hit. And really, that's the best you can hope from Agincourt's citadel protection: to turn a catastrophic hit into merely a serious one. One of the things AP shells LOOOOOVE to fuse on are Agincourt's turrets. She has a lot of them and they act as catchers mits for battleship calibre rounds. This leads to a lot more damage than you might otherwise expect and it's definitely a weakness to exploit when going toe to toe against her. While their turret faces are a chunky 305mm in thickness, this isn't enough to repel anything but the longest range fire from the weakest guns out there. Furthermore, below deck, the barbettes of her P, Q and X turrets are just 76mm. Penetrating AP hits love arresting within these rings and blowing up your guns. Similarly, the roofs of her guns are only 76mm. While their slope alone is more than enough to see off AP and SAP shells, Royal Navy battleship HE can and will penetrate if you're unlucky enough to get hit there. This will deal HE penetration damage AND prompt a critical damage check and again, you may end up temporarily losing a turret. Because so much of Agincourt's deck space is taken up by main battery guns, they get hit often. This in turn means more critical damage rolls so be prepared to see more temporarily disabled weapons on this ship than you might otherwise be used to. That's okay, though. You have more where those came from. The last thing to touch upon here is that with Agincourt's citadel being so long (long, long maaaaaan! ♫) every torpedo that hits you will be causing citadel damage. Agincourt has almost nothing in the way of usable anti-torpedo defence. She floods easily and you're not healing back much (if anything) from torpedo hits. Agincourt's main battery turrets are not very well protected, with P, Q and X-turret having very thin barbettes. It is not uncommon for any of her weapons to be disabled or permanently knocked out over the course of the battle when trading fire with other battleships. Y and Z turrets mirror B & A's barbettes respectively. Furthermore, Agincourt's citadel has 25mm sections of it vulnerable to 380mm+ AP shells overmatching. Be careful when facing battleships with these higher calibre weapons. Do keep her hidden geometry in her bow to help protect from overmatching hits punching through her 19mm bow and stern. Also, there's a 38mm turtleback that runs from the 152mm plate in the fore to the one dittoed in the rear, adding to her citadel protection but it's angled incorrectly to prompt ricochet checks. Health and Heals The strangest thing about Agincourt's durability is that it's so normal. Royal Navy battleships have, since their introduction into World of Warships, had special Repair Party consumables. While the portable dry-docks of Nelson, Lion and Conqueror are perhaps the best known among the community, Warspite always healed back more damage per charge of her consumable while also queuing up more damage as well. Even Iron Duke queues up 60% of penetration damage. Agincourt doesn't have any of that. Her Repair Party consumable is completely normal, healing back a "mere" 14% of her starting hit points per charge (base) and queuing up a "mere" 50% of penetration damage. The only ships she has a leg up on are Soviet battleships with their reduced number of healing charges. So while she may have a comparable number of starting hit points to Oklahoma, for example, she has less overall healing potential. Similarly, while Iron Duke's theoretical hit point pool is smaller, the tech-tree battleship has more efficient heals. So there's nothing really worth getting excited about. Thanks to the smaller hit point pools of Conte di Cavour and Viribus Unitis, Agincourt has a better-than-average base hit point pool but that's nothing remarkable. Nothing too out of the ordinary here. For those wondering, Agincourt's maximum effective health is 2.61 Viribus Unitis while New York, the best of the bunch, has 3.05. Summary Agincourt's dispersed armour scheme is a mixed blessing. It's good against small and medium calibre HE and SAP but only good against AP when perfectly angled and useless when not. Her guns get knocked out often and this has a spillover effect leading to Agincourt taking more penetrating hits. Nothing special about her heals. VERDICT: Pretty average for a low-to-mid tier battleship. Better than some, worse than others. Agility Top Speed: 22 knots Turning Radius: 670m Rudder Shift Time: 13.4 seconds 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 3.8º/s at 16.6 knots While Agincourt may have a battlecruiser's armour, she does not have a battlecruiser's speed. This is a slow, cumbersome ship. Her only saving grace is that there are a lot of slow, cumbersome ships at tier V so she doesn't feel horribly out of place. This said, her turning radius is one of the largest at her tier. And while a 670m turning circle radius looks pretty good if you're used to higher tiered ships, this is pretty bad down here in the kiddy pool where islands are plentiful. When paired with her pedestrian top speed, this results in one of the slowest rates of turn for a low-tier battleship. Agincourt feels big and sluggish. What's more, she doesn't get anywhere quickly. This isn't so bad if she ends up on a low-tier map, but when Agincourt gets uptiered, you really start to feel this lack of flexibility. Maybe there's room for the new Swift in Silence skill? I want to be able to recommend it. I would love it if the skill was competitive for certain ships and certain builds, but it's so hard to justify. With it and combined with a Sierra Mike signal, Agincourt's speed gets up to an impressive 25.4 knots, which largely corrects any flexibility deficiencies. That's incredibly enticing. The catch is, of course, that she needs to go undetected in order for this to work. Put one aircraft carrier in play or end up on a flank with a concealed lolibote and her boost goes away. One of the major reasons I want the extra speed is to allow Agincourt to kite but if she's detected (or firing her guns), that's not going to work. Furthermore, the skill and signal combined do not significantly boost her rate of turn, upping it to 4.0º/s. This comes at the cost of her turning circle, jumping up Agincourt's radius to 730m. At four skill points, it's just not quite there in my opinion. Maybe if the speed was always on? Maybe if it provided more speed? I dunno. Agincourt has some of the worst agility at tier V. She's not only slow, but she has a large turning radius at her tier too. Granted, that 670m is pretty small compared to higher tiered battleships, but still, it gives her some of the worst handling at her tier by a noticeable margin, making her feel like one of the higher tiered thunderchunkers when she tries to come about. VERDICT: Crap. Arguably one of, if not the worst at her tier. Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: None Long Ranged: None Medium Ranged: None Short Ranged: None There are two ways of looking at Agincourt's complete lack of anti-aircraft firepower. The first is to look at it as a crippling flaw. Any aircraft carrier that knows that Agincourt is bereft of AA defence can attack her with impunity; especially if she's isolated. Furthermore, tier VI carriers can drop fighters on top of her and keep her perma-spotted until she sails out of their spotting range. At her slow speed, this will take quite a while and it strips her of her stealth advantage. The general lack of long-range AA support at low tiers makes this quite likely and carriers can engage her confident that they will less planes than if they attacked one of her supporting team mates. Playing on the receiving end, it's a bit disheartening to know you're going to take repeat drops and it necessitates changing some behaviours. We already know that Agincourt is not agile enough to pretend to Just Dodge™ ordnance but if the CV player is in a hurry, they might flub a torpedo or bomb drop. But what's most important is to properly gauge when to use her Damage Control Party. Don't make the mistake of dousing fires too early or patching up floods you could just heal through. The second and cynical way of looking at things is that Agincourt's lack of anti-aircraft firepower doesn't matter. Few tier V battleships have any kind of anti-aircraft firepower worth getting excited about nor can they see to their own protection. In this sense, Agincourt dispels any illusions of counterplay against a carrier. There's not much anyway, so removing it entirely provides a more "pure" CV vs Surface Ship experience. Man, that's [edited]. And they said there's no such thing as a free lunch. VERDICT: There is now a level zero. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 12.24km / 10.69km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 8.7km / 7.83km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 9.35km Maximum Firing Range: 15.34km Upgraded includes the use of a camouflage providing a concealment bonus and the use of the Concealment Expert skill and Concealment System Modification 1 upgrade if available. Agincourt has no right being as stealthy as she is. She is the stealthiest battleship in her matchmaking pool. If she were a tier V cruiser, she'd be sneakier than half of them. It's a shame she's not a faster battleship because she could then take full advantage. The closer Agincourt can get, the better. Her armour just isn't thick enough to trade at range and her own AP shell performance is piss-poor until you're up close -- sometimes point-blank-range close. As it is, you can almost (almost!) get her to within secondary battery range before she's detected which is pretty hilarious. You need simply sprint the last 2.37km to start opening fire. Unfortunately, that 2.37km "sprint" is more of a wobbling bag of rancid liposuction meat gently rolling downhill. 2.37km is pretty substantial for a ship that can only manage about 22 knots; it takes her a full 40 seconds to cover that distance. Without the use of island cover, boxing your target in or your opponent making a mistake, Agincourt's not sneaking up on anyone this way. Agincourt's stealth is meant to band-aid a lot of other flaws. Bad AP penetration? Sneak up and get closer. Reliant upon secondaries? You can almost sneak into range. Poor armour protection from long range fire? Keep silent and go stealthy to mitigate it. I mean, Agincourt's stealth certainly helps but again, that lack of speed really makes it difficult to fully capitalize upon. It's only on those claustrophobic, island choked maps where this stealth + speed combination works in her favour and can be used offensively. In all other aspects, Agincourt's stealth becomes a purely defensive ability and used whenever she holds fire. Now this can be used to great effect by an experienced player. Disengaging at the right time will keep you alive, after all. But there are a whole range of "what ifs" that undo it -- the most simple of which being a shadowing lolibote or aircraft. Agincourt's stealth is a trait that's nice to have but it's hard to argue that it's especially powerful without speed to control engagement distances. VERDICT: Cool to have but not game-changing. Final Evaluation As Drachinifel has elucidated, Agincourt has always been a troublesome vessel. Her acquistion caused problems then and it's causing problems now. The only way to get Agincourt at her launch was through gambling through loot boxes. There was no direct sale offered. Using my press account, it took me 11 pulls before she dropped. That's 8,250 doubloons worth if I bought the crates individually. I didn't, I bought a huge bundle so it technically would have cost me 13,750 doubloons. That's the cost of a tier VIII premium for a tier V ship. While receiving dragon signals is nice, I have no practical use for any of the other contents from the containers. Ergo, these loot boxes are worthless to me but for the ship and the permanent camos. If I didn't get access to Agincourt via Wargaming, I would not touch this vessel with a ten foot pole. And that's a shame. This is a really fun ship. I've enjoyed Agincourt immensely and I highly recommend her for anyone that misses brawling in higher tiered vessels. But I hate loot boxes. I cannot and will not support them. So hard pass on Agincourt until she's made available by more conventional means. Thank you for reading.
  2. The following is a PREVIEW of HMCS Yukon, the tier VII Canadian Famous & Historical Monarch-class battleship. This ship has been provided to me by Wargaming for testing purposes -- I did not have to pay to get access to her. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are accurate as of April 16th, 2021 (Patch 0.10.3). HOWEVER, Yukon is very much a Work in Progress with everything about her subject to change. All of the performance discussed in this review is merely supposition based off the in-port stats only. It does not reflect any game play experience with the ship. Hiho lads and lasses. HMCS Yukon has made it to the live server for testing. Now, the changes made to the Community Contributor program forbid me from discussing my game play experiences with her. Fortunately, I have showed legendary amounts of restraint and I have not yet played her. This means I can go over her Work-in-Progress in-port statistics (that are all subject to change) Instead, I thought I would give you all a very early preview of what this new test ship looks like and compare her to the guesswork from my earlier article. To be 100% clear: I have not played this ship yet. All of the information in this article comes from in-port statistics only along with some data-mining from GameModels3d.com and wowsft.com. Everything about Yukon is subject to change. Everything. Options So there was one significant difference from my earlier guess with Yukon and that was how her Repair Party worked. Consumables Yukon's Damage Control Party will be identical to those found on most battleships with a 15s active period, an 80s reset timer and unlimited charges. Her Specialized Repair Team is the same heal found on Lion and Conqueror. If data-mined stats are to be believed, this has ridiculous high levels of efficiency, queuing up 10% of citadel damage, 75% OF PENETRATION DAMAGE and 100% of everything else. On top of this, it heals back upwards of 40% of Yukon's hit points over 20 seconds. It comes with three charges and an 80 second reset timer. In her third slot, you have the choice between a Spotter Aircraft and a Catapult Fighter. The former will come with 4 charges, boosting her main battery range by 20% for 100s with a 240s reset timer. The latter is an improvement over Famous & Historical Monarch's fighters, launching an additional aircraft for a total of four which will orbit on station for 60s. It will have three charges and a 90s reset timer. Okay, real-talk time: I have no way of confirming that 75% value short of taking gamemodels3d.com at their word. They have been wrong before. For example, gamemodels3d.com is still showing improper armour values on Yukon with their preview system, so maybe this 75% thing is false. The only way to know will be to take it into battle and I won't be able to confirm what I find there for you. If this 75% thing is true, whoa. I was expecting the 60% found on Nelson and I wouldn't have been surprised if it was only 50%. So this is something worth keeping an eye on for certain and it's the kind of thing I'll be testing thoroughly. Upgrades There's nothing out of the ordinary here. Camouflage Yukon has (disappointingly) showed up in port without a skin. She has camouflage, but there's no "look" to it -- it's the same as a naked tech-tree ship. This isn't uncommon with early versions of test ships. As far as I can tell, she's still just a clone of Famous & Historical Monarch without any geometry changes. Her camouflage options provide the usual tier VII bonuses of: -3% to surface detectability range. +4% to maximum dispersion of shells fired by the enemy at your ship. -10% to the cost of ship's post-battle service +50% to experience earned in the battle There's no sign of any alternate "gross nationalism" camouflage (yet). Maybe one's coming? Maybe her default camo will be the only one available. Booooring. Firepower Main Battery: 3x3 381mm/45 guns in an A-B-X superfiring configuration Secondary Battery: Sixteen 133mm/50 guns in 4x2 turrets arranged in superfiring pairs fore and aft on each side of the ship straddling the two superstructures. No more supposition. We now have some in-game stats to look at. A lot of Yukon's stuff clones Famous & Historical Monarch, such as her gun handling, firing arcs, etc. But her main battery guns are very different: Comparing Yukon (left), Famous & Historical Monarch (middle) and Hood (right). Note that I had Aiming System Modification 1 installed on Famous & Historical Monarch so her dispersion is smaller than a stock vessel. So, lots to talk about here. Yukon's guns appear to differ from Famous & Historical Monarch's in the following ways: Yukon's range is terrible. Yukon has a reach of 15.7km in this test-iteration (Work in Progress, guys, subject to change so don't rage yet). This is painfully short ranged. Orion, the tier IV British battleship has 15.8km. According to gamemodels3d.com (and backed by wowsft.com, the actual range she has is 15.65km, so yeah... she barely managed that 0.7. We'll see how this feels to play. I'm going to take a wild stab at "not comfortable" but we'll see if this hypothesis holds true when I get my hands on her. Reload Time: At 30 seconds, this is about what I expected. It means that out of my guess-DPM charts, the bottom one was accurate. HE Shell Performance: It's nice being right sometimes. It looks like Yukon got Hood's HE shells, exactly as predicted. I admit I was surprised with the muzzle velocity difference and I really shouldn't have been. Yukon will be cloning Hood's HE performance entirely. So that means worse penetration, worse shell damage and a slightly weaker fire chance. Good. Dispersion: The 216m looks like an improvement but it's not. Yukon appears to conform to standard Royal Navy horizontal dispersion patterns ([range in km] x 10 + 60). I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised here and see her with Warspite / Queen Elizabeth's / Hood's dispersion but oh well. Sigma: This information is NOT available in port and comes from data-mine sources. Using gamemodels3d.com and wowsft.com both agree that her sigma value is 1.9. Famous & Historical Monarch only has 1.8. Again, I MUST stress that these third party sites do get things wrong on occasion, so take this value with a big pinch of salt. Yukon should be more accurate than Famous & Historical Monarch, however, a difference of 0.1 sigma is generally beyond the perception of players to distinguish in gameplay and is something I like to refer to as a "spreadsheet stat". While it does affect performance, it's something that's really only visible over the course of many many games. It's something the devs will see and MAYBE you might be able to tease it out by playing back to back games alternating between Famous & Historical Monarch and Yukon over the course of a month. Expensive Shells: This information is NOT available in port and comes from data-mine sources. Yukon's shells are more expensive than Famous & Historical Monarch's. Apparently they cost 120 credits per shell while Famous & Historical Monarch's are only 90 credits. Again, something to double check the first time I take her out, I suppose. Ricocheting HE Shells: This information is NOT available in port and comes from data-mine sources. So... according to both wowsft.com and gamemodels3d.com, Yukon's HE shells can ricochet. Yeah. I'll believe it when I see it. But it's there in the datamine stuff. This is the kind of thing that I seldom get to talk about when play-testing because it's on that checklist of things to verify that quickly gets forgotten when it proves to invariably be false. I have NEVER seen this before. Note how Yukon kept Famous & Historical Monarch's short AP fuse timers. Alright, so what can we learn from all of this? Well, Yukon's stupidly-short range is going to be one Hell of an obstacle to overcome. Her Spotter Aircraft will be a must, giving her a maximum reach of 18.78km for a brief spell. I'm seriously considering taking the Spotter Aircraft Modification 1 special upgrade for the first time ever on a ship. Congrats, Wargaming, you finally made that awful upgrade worth considering, but for all of the wrong reasons. With her 30 second reload, her gunnery will be reasonably comfortable when she can actually reach what she wants to hit. Given my predictions about shell damage performance, it does mean that my earlier estimations on DPM are accurate: The crossed out ships are Yukon with a 25 second reload which isn't happening in this test iteration. This puts Yukon's damage output in the solid "meh" category. Her overmatch will be nice when she's top tier, so it's not like she's in the doldrums. But her HE performance is pretty terrible. Barring having no other choice, this current version of Yukon will want to be throwing AP whenever possible. As for her secondaries, they're crap. They differ from Famous & Historical Monarch's in that they have 1km less range (5.6km instead of 6.6km). I wasn't expecting anything miraculous there. Summary: Yukon's gunnery would be pretty comfortable at tier VII if it weren't for that range. I'm going to have to see how it pans out in combination with her agility, stealth and durability. I'm not expecting it to be a fun ride at this stage. Durability Hit Points: 60,500 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 26mm / 16mm / 26mm / 26mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 356mm to 381mm belt Torpedo Damage Reduction: 22% One of the biggest changes from the earliest data-mine previews were had of Yukon was in regards to her structural armour. For whatever reason, gamemodels3d.com was reporting it at 32mm -- identical to Famous & Historical Monarch's. As exciting as this would have been, I am not surprised at all to report that Yukon's extremities and deck plating are the normal 26mm you would expect for a tier VII battleship. Nothing exciting here. Do note her citadel placement. What's more exciting is the healing potential for Yukon. Receiving a British "portable dry-dock" Repair Party, combined with her large hit point pool for a tier VII battleship and she's got a lot of hit points to work with. Taking signals and commander skills to further improve her healing potential will be paramount to getting the most out of this test iteration, I suspect. Anyway, here's how the potential health pools pan out: Yukon combines the best parts of Nelson's and Famous & Historical Monarch's Repair Parties. The only thing she's "lacking" is any kind of improved citadel heal and she totally doesn't need it given the bonuses already going for her here. Summary: King George V, now with zombie-mutant healing powers. Agility Top Speed: 28 knots Turning Radius: 790m 7Rudder Shift Time: 9.7 seconds 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: ??? Assumed to be 4.1º/s So the big confirmation here is her ridiculous low rudder shift time. To put this in perspective, Famous & Historical Monarch has a 15s rudder shift time. I'm really really hoping for something weird to be going on with Yukon's agility in terms of energy retention but I'm not holding my breath. As nice as that rudder shift time is, if she ends up with Famous & Historical Monarch's pedestrian 4.1º/s rotation rate, she'll still feel slow to come about, just not clumsy. Her wiggling will be very precise, just not fast. Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: 4 explosions for 1,330 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.2km. Long Ranged (up to 5.2km): Between 84dps at 75% accuracy Medium Ranged (up to 2.5km): Between 312dps at 75% accuracy Short Ranged (up to 2.0km): Between 175dps at 70% accuracy Well, these numbers all fell within the parameters I had guess at but, let's be fair, I had cast a ridiculously wide net. It was hard not to be wrong. Yukon's stats clone Famous & Historical Monarch's A-hull AA performance almost perfectly with the only difference being the amount of damage done by flak explosions (Famous & Historical Monarch does 1,470 per blast instead of Yukon's 1,330). Overall, her AA power is kinda bad, She has the equivalent AA protection of HMS Nelson, putting out comparable numbers which are largely limited to "vengeance weapons" wherein most of the damage she does will happen after aircraft have already made their attacks. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 13.18km / 11.51km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 9.06km / 8.15km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 12.2m Maximum Firing Range: Between 15.65 and 18.78km when using her Spotter Aircraft The biggest changes here from what I had guessed originally are the reduction in Yukon's aerial detection range and her main battery firing range. Like with her surface detection before, the changes to Yukon's aerial detection allow her to get close to (yet remain slightly worse than) a fully upgraded Famous & Historical Monarch with Concealment Expert and the Concealment System Modification 1 upgrade. So it's safe (though not entirely accurate) to say that she copies Famous & Historical Monarch's stealth performance, just a full tier lower. The issue is really going to be getting around her horrible gun range. Also, Dead Eye will probably be on it's way out by the time this ship comes out. Overall Impressions There are two surprises here. Her range. Her heals. One is very, VERY good. One is very, VERY bad. They're obviously meant to counteract one another to some degree. As it stands, Yukon is looking SHA-MAZING for scenarios. Overmatch + zombie-heals + improved agility in a game mode where range doesn't really matter? Yes, please. In Random Battles, I'm less optimistic. As a top tier ship, she'll be a better bully than HMS Nelson. As bottom tier, she'll be worse. She'll be oh-so much worse. Her 30 second reload with those crappy HE shells will put her miles behind Nelson. I'll have to see if it pans out that way in practice but I'm none too hopeful there. Anyway, I can't wait to try her out and my soup's getting cold so I'm going to sign off and get back to work on ZF-6. Maybe (MAYBE) if I get enough done on ZF-6 today, I'll treat myself to a test-drive. We'll see! As one final caveat: Everything about HMCS Yukon is subject to change! Mouse out!
  3. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review - Hyuga

    The following is a review of Hyuga, the tier VII Japanese premium battleship. This ship was provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes at no cost to myself; I did not have to pay money to get access to her. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as of patch 0.10.3. Please be aware that her statistics may change in the future. I always start these reviews with the above disclaimer. I do it for a couple of reasons. The first is to let you all know that there is some intrinsic bias in this review. I am only human (beep-boop ♪) and it's possible I will make some reporting errors on stats and numbers. It's also to let you know that I have a relationship with Wargaming through the Community Contributor program. After all, I get these assets for free to review them and that's absolutely going to colour how I feel about a ship and my readers absolutely need to know about that partnership. However, what I wanted to draw your attention to was this: 'Please be aware that her statistics may change in the future.' I originally wrote this to to warn players of meta shifts. While the core stats of a given ship might not change, the game most assuredly does. Mechanics get tweaked, new ships get introduced and before you know it, your once S-tier Blyskawica is unable to keep up. This past month, this warning has taken on new meaning: The newer premiums may have their performance stats directly nerfed by Wargaming. This is a change from their old policy and it only applies to these newer ships. I had originally wanted to discuss this with my Flandre review but I totally brain-farted on that. Since Flandre, Hyuga and HSF Harekaze II have also been affected by this so it's time to make sure I cover this info. You can see Wargaming's notice of such in the detailed description they provide of an individual premium. I've highlighted the pertinent part: What this means: Hyuga and newer premium vessels do not have protection from being directly nerfed in the future. Changes are not guaranteed, but they are possible. Please, please, PLEASE take this into consideration before pulling the trigger on any purchase. Got it? Good. There's lots of room to discuss this change in policy and how it affects your personal buying decisions. Please feel free to discuss it in this thread or quote back this section in a new post if you prefer. For now, let's get back to my review of Hyuga. Quick Summary: A modernized WWI-era Japanese battleship with twelve, quick-firing 356mm guns, a dispersed armour scheme and access to the Main Battery Reload Booster consumable. PROS Trollish armour scheme for resisting SAP and HE hits, including thick upper hull, deck armour and voids. Good reach on her main battery guns. Very comfortable dispersion for such a large main battery. Excellent main battery DPM between her quick, 28 second reload and her twelve guns. The bulk of her secondary battery has increased accuracy. Has access to the Main Battery Reload Booster. CONS Wonky and weird citadel geometry. Seriously, it looks like a Picasso painting. Overmatch issues with her smaller gun calibre. Horrible gun handling and awkward fire angles. Only a modest top speed and not especially agile. Horrible anti-aircraft defences. Enormous surface detection range. Overview In the long-long ago, in the before-time, back when there was only three tier VI battleships in this game, a debate raged on which was the best. The answer is obvious now (it's bae-bote, always and forever) but it was a very eye-opening discussion. You see, back then it was Fuso that appealed to most. It's not hard to see why with her trollish armour and phenomenal firepower for her tier. She was faster than her two competitors and this was also back before sigma was understood. Some had a grasp of what overmatch was but others did not. It's not hard to see why Fuso was a long-standing favourite and her successor, Nagato, was often seen as a step down in terms of performance. It's surprising to me we've had to wait this long for a premium based around her game play. There are plenty of options with Fuso and Yamashiro from the Fuso-class and then Ise and Hyuga of the subsequent Ise-class. Well, the wait's over. We finally get what we've always wanted, however it is at the wrong tier. Up-tiering Fuso's gameplay begs the question if any gimmicks could make her worth playing. That's the Hyuga quandary in a nutshell: Is it worth paying money for an up-tiered Fuso with weird gimmicks? Skill Floor: SIMPLE / Casual / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme Hyuga's pretty new-player friendly. Keep back. Keep AP loaded. Pull the trigger. You can forget about nuances of angling properly; her gun arcs don't allow for that. She's not so fast that she'll get you into trouble nor is she so slow that she cannot keep up with the pace of battle as it progresses. So green light all around. She's an easy battleship to play and she'll deliver reasonable results to anyone of any particular skill level. For veterans, well there's lots to like here. Her consumables alone open up all kinds of opportunity for optimization, to say nothing of her fast-reload guns and her massive broadside. Hyuga's alpha strike potential is downright cataclysmic, reigned in only by modest penetration values which is yet another bit of info to out-skill. Still, as good as her armour profile appears, this is a difficult battleship to effectively tank damage, limiting her appeal as a front-line vessel for pushing and progressing the battle. Overall? Good marks for skill-potential and growth, but certainly not the best out there for that. Options Aside from her Main Battery Reload Booster, there's not a whole lot out of the ordinary for Hyuga when it comes to outfitting her. Consumables Hyuga's Damage Control Party is standard for a Japanese battleship, meaning that it's only active for 10 seconds as opposed to 15 seconds for most other battleships (and 20 seconds for Americans). It has unlimited charges and an 80 second reset timer. Her Repair Party is also standard. It queues up to 10% of citadel damage, 50% of penetration damage and 100% of everything else. From this queue, it will heal back up to 14% of the ship's starting hit points per charge over 28 seconds. It starts with four charges and has an 80 second reset timer. Her Main Battery Reload Booster is weird (not the least of which is seeing a MBRB on a battleship at all). It is active for 15 seconds, doubling the rate at which shells are reloaded during that time (each second spent reloading counts as two). It starts with three charges and it has a 60 second reset timer. Finally she has a Fighter. This launches three (3) aircraft which orbit on station for 60 seconds. It comes with three charges and a 90 second reset timer. Upgrades There's three builds to consider here: Optimal, comfort and PVE-shenani-nani-gans. Start with Main Armaments Modification 1. Begin your anti-fire regimen with Damage Control System Modification 1. So all of the fun happens in slot three. Aiming Systems Modification 1 is your best choice here. However, you can take the slight dispersion hit for Main Battery Modification 2 to increase her admittedly horribad turret traverse rate. For you PVE-nutters out there, you can also consider electing for a secondary build here with Secondary Battery Modification 1 if you like. Whatever your choice, follow that up with Damage Control System Modification 2 in slot four. Commander Skills Until Dead Eye (4pts) is dead and buried, it's going to remain optimal for all battleship builds. That's going to be the first priority on any PVP battleship build. From there, your next priority is to mitigate fire damage through Basics of Survivability (3pts) and Fire Prevention Expert (4pts). Next up comes buffs to gun performance, namely in the form of Adrenaline Rush (3pts) and Grease the Gears (2pts). That leaves you 5pts to play with (including a 1pt skill compulsory). Recommended skills include: 1 point skills: Gun Feeder, Emergency Repair Specialist 2 point skills: Priority Target 3 point skills: Super Heavy AP Shells 4 point skills: Emergency Repair Expert, Concealment Expert If you're a PVE main and want to dabble in a brawling build (because bots love to brawl), then you can skip the fire prevention stuff and just load up on secondary buffing skills instead, dropping Dead Eye and avoiding Concealment Expert because neither are ever going to do you any good. Camouflage Hyuga has access to two camouflage options. She comes with Type 10 Camouflage regardless of how you acquire her, but when she was first sold, the higher tiered bundle came with the Japanese Lacquer camouflage as well. This alternative camo is merely a cosmetic swap, providing the same identical bonuses of: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -10% to post-battle service costs. +50% to experience gains.  Hyuga's Type 10 Camouflage is the usual browns and greens you've come to expect from Japanese premiums. If you've finished the appropriate section of the Isoroku Yamamoto collection then you can palette swap to the blue instead. I really like Hyuga's lacquer camo. We've seen it before on Hayate. Firepower Main Battery: Twelve 356mm guns in 6x2 turrets in an A-B-P-Q-X-Y in superfiring pairs. Secondary Battery: Sixteen 140mm guns in 16x1 hull-mounted casemates with eight to a side and eight 127mm guns in 4x2 turrets with a pair on either side of the main superstructure. I'ma take a quick moment and start with Hyuga's secondaries. Outside of PVE modes, don't worry about them. If you prefer Co-Op, you can buff her secondaries and get some nice results. Hyuga's 140mm casemates have improved gunnery dispersion, akin to that found on other large-calibre casemates of ships like Nagato, Amagi, Iron Duke and Warspite. Her 127mm have normal ol' (bad) dispersion, though. Fully buffed, you can get their reach out to 8.47km which is pretty respectable and more than worthwhile when bots come rushing blindly at you. Their smaller calibre will prevent them from dealing direct damage to all but the softest skinned targets, but you'll undoubtedly start a fire or two in every match if you get stuck in. Don't bother with them in PVP, however. Twelve 356mm guns with a 28 second reload with 1.8 sigma and a Main Battery Reload Booster at tier VII. For those experienced with the game, that's all of the information you really need to know to appreciate Hyuga's strengths and weaknesses. There's minutia, of course; other details that matter, but the lion's share of the information you need comes right there. Let's break it down: Twelve guns: This is a lot, no matter how you slice it. Most battleships in the game sit with between eight and ten guns with twelve tending to be towards the upper limit (laughs in Lyon). Regardless of gun calibre, this promises a large broadside and huge alpha strike potential. 356mm gun calibre: By tier VII, this gun calibre is a bit long in the tooth as more and more vessels drift upwards towards 380mm and 406mm guns. It is below average for its tier despite the glut of ships still using it (Poltava, California, Florida, Duke of York, King George V and Hyuga). 356mm guns obviously don't hit as hard as the larger gun calibres, but they are also incapable of overmatching structural plate that's 25mm or thicker. 25mm and 26mm structural plates become increasingly commonplace at mid-to-higher tiers, preventing ships armed with 356mm guns from being able to bully these vessels at any angle they take. 28 second reload: Go back even a year, and the perceived "normal" reload time for a battleship was 30 seconds. However, between the new American and Italian tech-tree battleships released this past year, Wargaming seems increasingly weary of keeping to this standard. A glut of newer vessels have greater-than-30-second reloads to their name, which makes Hyuga's 28 seconds all the more remarkable. Again, I stress that this is with a large main battery of twelve guns. Even with their smaller gun calibre, Hyuga's damage potential is some of the best at her tier. 1.8 sigma: This is the "workhorse" value Wargaming typically assigns to most battleships. The average sigma among the seventeen unique tier VII battleships is 1.79 just to give you an idea. The trend tends to be for ships with a large number of guns to have lower sigma; usually in the 1.5 to 1.6 range. This afflicts the tier VI battleships with twelve guns with Fuso and New Mexico both stricken with 1.5 sigma while Arizona feels decidedly over-performing with her 1.8 at the same tier. To see Hyuga with 1.8 sigma speaks to the comfort of her long-range gunnery. Aim well and she'll reward you with multiple hits. Main Battery Reload Booster: This consumable is a game changer. Hyuga already fires very quickly. She is more likely to have shells at the ready when a target of opportunity presents itself. The faster a battleship fires, the more forgiving the vessel is for poorly aimed shots. This consumable turns everything on its head, providing Hyuga with shells on demand. With a touch of a button, you all but guaranteed to be able to put shells down range to capitalize on an opponent's mistake. This stacks with the strengths of her larger battery (twelve guns) and decent sigma (1.8) to make these shots count. With the short reload on the consumable, it's again likely to be ready when the next opportunity arises. The only thing arresting the overpowered nature of this combination is Hyuga's gun calibre. If she was capable of overmatching any target she faced, this would simply be a raw DPM increase. As it is, she still needs to look for the best shots possible. Give Hyuga your broadside at your peril. Hyuga's 1.8 sigma makes for comfortable shell groupings. It's not S-tier by any means, but it's a far cry better than Fuso's 1.5 sigma shotgun blasts. This is largely the means by which Wargaming justifies Hyuga being a tier VII. This is what Fuso's 1.5 sigma shotgun blasts look like. Both ships are using Aiming Systems Modification 1 (but not Dead Eye), firing 180 AP shells at 15km against a stationary Fuso bot without camo. Shells are coming in from right to left (the Fuso is bow-tanking). Twelve guns with a 28 second reload means that Hyuga very comfortably sits near the top of the potential damage charts, even with her smaller gun calibre. It doesn't hurt that Japanese HE shells deal more damage than most of the contemporaries of the same calibre, with only the Royal Navy HE being beefier on a per-hit basis (6,100 damage from a KGV-class HE shell versus 5,700 for Hyuga). I swore I'd never do one of these graphics again and YET, here I am... Twelve 356mm guns with a 28 second reload with 1.8 sigma and a Main Battery Reload Booster glosses over a lot of problems. Hyuga's gun handling isn't particularly good nor are her fire angles comfortable (more on these in the Durability section below). Her range is good, but it could be better. Without access to a Spotter Aircraft, there's no temporary flexibility to chase targets just beyond her nominal reach. Next, her HE shells aren't good fire starters. Finally, her penetration just isn't up to scratch to compete with battleship belt armours outside of 14km. There is also the added problem that with such fast firing guns, Hyuga remains spotted longer than other battleships, revealing herself with every blast of her weapons. All of these problems are easy to forget with just how many shells she puts downrange and how often the land hits. Yes, ricochets are annoying. Yes, it sucks when a salvo of multiple hits from HE fails to start a fire. These issues help reign Hyuga in from over-performing, because there's a little too much good going on here. A lot of the premium battleships at tier VII use 356mm guns for some reason. Ashitaka uses 410mm, to be clear, and is present here because she's the other Japanese premium. Despite her increased HE shell damage, she's only a modest fire starter and only because she has so many guns and fires so quickly. Her individual shell hits have some of the lowest fire setting at her tier. SUMMARY: Very comfortable gunnery platform. Maybe a little too comfortable. Durability Hit Points: 60,700 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 26mm / 16mm / 149mm / 35 to 44mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 32mm anti-torpedo bulge + 299mm belt + 32mm turtleback + up to a 230mm citadel wall. Torpedo Damage Reduction: 26% I'm going to start with this graphic. It may seem a little out of place, but hear me out. "It could be worse" sums up Hyuga's fire angles. Between these and her poor gun handling, she gets poor marks here. 'If you can shoot them, they can penetrate you,' sums up Hyuga's firing angles. Assuming you can set things up absolutely 100% perfect, there's still around a one in three chance of their AP shells doing unspeakably ugly things to your ship. Get sloppy by as little as 3º and their chances jump up to half with the enusing reduction of relative armour as an additional kick in the teeth (her 299mm belt drops from approximately 520mm of effective armour down to 485mm). Hyuga's firing angles aren't well designed for trading fire. She's not meant to tank damage in gun duels like this. She's much better suited at shooting things that aren't shooting back. You're pretty much forced to choose between damage out put and tanking effectively. She's not really agile enough to pull off both without making some serious compromises to one or the other. It's not all doom and gloom, though. The Ise-class is a WWI era super-dreadnought and this is reflected in her dispersed armour scheme. This means that other than her extremities and (admittedly sizeable) superstructure, Hyuga has thicker armour than expected. Combine this with her enormous anti-torpedo bulges (which don't work very efficiently against torpedoes for some reason), Hyuga's armour profile is downright troll for resisting AP, SAP and HE shells. The latter two especially struggle to deal reliable damage if they miss her snoot, booty or hat. Against AP shells, it's a bit more of a mixed-blessing. Her dispersed armour does make it more likely to AP shells to ricochet if she's angled correctly. However, the thicker armour plate also has the effect of guaranteeing to arm the fuses of large calibre AP rounds, all but negating the chance for reduced damage over-penetrations when shells do bite into these places. Overall, her dispersed armour scheme is more of a blessing than a bane. Before moving on, it's worth mentioning that her turrets have about 300mm worth of usable armour between their turret faces and barbettes. These are an admitted weak point when face-tanking if an opponent can't simply overmatch her 26mm bows with 380mm+ calibre AP rounds. Hyuga's guns break often when forced into this role. Hyuga's huge 32mm anti-torpedo bulge acts as a void. Any HE or SAP attacks that strike here will deal zero damage to the ship. Peel back that anti-torpedo protection and there's a mess of different armour values for AP shells to contend with. None of these values are especially high, so maintaining correct angling is paramount to resisting battleship-calibre AP fire. When it comes to citadel protection ... it's complicated. Around Hyuga's rear magazines, her protection is pretty damn good with a combination of up to 593mm worth of steel at funny angles aimed to keep shells out. But depending on where she's hit, this value can be as low as just 288mm. Add onto this the wonky (janky!) geometry, especially around the P and Q turret magazines and the rear machine spaces and Hyuga's presents shell trap after shell trap after shell trap for penetration AP rounds to catch upon and deal big damage. It's worth mentioning that her turtleback isn't angled steeply enough to resist flat-trajectory fire, to say nothing of long-range fire and it's from the latter that you need to worry about big damaging hit the most. The reason I have made such a big deal out of Hyuga's poor firing angles and gun handling has a lot to do with how badly this ship resists citadel hits from the incidental attacks that come from long range duels. Look, I was going to show the armour values for this but ... it's like Jackson Pollock painting. It's a total mess. There are so many different armour values and weird geometries going on. I want to rate Hyuga's overall durability more highly than it deserves. In truth, her protection scheme could be really troll if she had better firing angles to capitalize on it. Furthermore, being a tier VII battleship, that leaves those huge vulnerable overmatching holes in the form of her bow and stern for easy back-doors into big damage against this ship. And if those aren't available, you can always smack her in the barbettes and get some nice damaging hits that way -- the changes made to penetrating hits against guns has greatly hurt the durability of mid-tier battleships, especially in brawls. I suppose the best that could be said about her is that she's pretty good at resisting poorly aimed cruiser HE and SAP spam. However, her superstructure and extremities are large targets so you cannot expect any experienced player to ignore those soft spots. Furthermore, Hyuga burns just as well as any other Japanese battleship. Hyuga's health pool is only average. VERDICT: Pretty good if you can stay angled or your opponents are n00bs. I wouldn't count on either one of those, though. It'll work well against bots, though. Agility Top Speed: 25.3 knots Turning Radius: 750m Rudder Shift Time: 15 seconds 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 3.9º/s at 18.9 knots Tier VII is a transition-tier for battleship agility. This is where we start to see some really fast battleships appearing however there are still some 20-knot holdovers in the form of the American standards. This combines with a mix of different handling characteristics, with some retaining the early-battleship tight turning radii while others begin to have their turning circles balloon out to the massive sizes we see at higher tiers. Thus there's a lot of variety between the best and worst performers and everything in between. Hyuga is definitely one of those in between. Her speed is slightly below average for her tier and her turning radius is alright. At 25 knots, it's just about enough to keep up with the pace of battle or to disengage during the opening stages of a fight. As the battle progresses, however, Hyuga's pedestrian top speed is more of a liability where the threat of allied support begins to dry up and enemies can push more aggressively if she's exposed. Similarly, her modest top speed leads to a cumbersome rate of turn. The good news is that she doesn't quite out-turn her turrets. The bad news is that you're still going to be tempted to use your rudder to bring guns to bear and that's going to open up your sides for penetrating AP hits. To this end, taking traverse-improving skills and upgrades helps improve this ship's durability, if only to keep your fingers away from the WASD keys when switching targets. Think of Hyuga as a slightly-faster Nelson. VERDICT: Nothing terrible but nothing good. Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: 2 explosions for 1,330 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.8km. Long Ranged (up to 5.8km): 63dps at 75% accuracy (47dps) Short Ranged (up to 2.5km): 75.5dps at 85% accuracy (62dps) Yeah.... no. The only reason Hyuga isn't at the bottom of the pile for AA defence at this tier is because Ashitaka is a stock, interwar-era Amagi. VERDICT: Yeah... no. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 16.84km / 14.7km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 10.46km / 9.41km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 14.84km Maximum Firing Range: 20.31km Have some raw data. Hyuga's surface detection is pretty bad. Hyuga's surface deteciton is pretty terrible. Stock, it's 2km better than Fuso (a little bit less if they're both fully upgraded), so that's something I guess. But that's like saying your tier V battleship has more health than Viribus Unitis. Even with a full concealment build (which should still do, by the way), until the enemy destroyers have been thinned out, you have to count on being permanently lit if you're anywhere close to the front. Being so easily spotted means that Hyuga spends more time being the only target available than her contemporaries. I'm sure Wargaming has some metric out there to illustrate this that would justify my suspicions, but between Hyuga's enormous surface detection and rapid fire guns, she ends up making herself a target more often than most. This means more incidental fire comes her way, especially from other battleships. While not all of this will connect, it's just that little bit of extra chip-damage that will eat at her health or tax your Damage Control Party that makes Hyuga and Fuso feel squishier than their armour profiles would otherwise suggest. It's just something to keep in mind. Having Priority Target is recommended if only to let you know when you need to silence your guns and think about rotating towards the back of the line to ease off some of the pressure. Hyuga's lack of a Spotter Aircraft tends to keep Hyuga closer to the action than Fuso, even with the two ships having comparable ranges. For the sake of her gun performance, this is generally a good thing though I found myself missing that extra bit of reach-on-demand in higher tiered engagements. Still, I have no real complaints about her engagement distances. Hyuga has nothing else really to speak of when it comes to her Vision Control. She's a fat battleship, possibly visible from space. This gets her shot a lot, though often it's more incidental fire than anything concentrated. Still, you can't count on being able to properly disengage unless you keep her in the second line. VERDICT: Just plain bad. Final Evaluation This isn't the first time Wargaming has taken an existing design and up-tiered it by making some small changes. While Hyuga is not a Fuso-class, their design looks superficially analogous from a game play perspective, what with both ships being large, twelve-356mm gun armed Japanese battleships. However, the differences between them is extensive. While describing Hyuga has a Tier VII Fuso is a good shorthand for setting expectations, it's far from accurate. This isn't a complete list of differences (you could write a book on their armour and hull geometry differences alone), but here's the important bits that separate the two vessels: The Basics Hyuga is an Ise-class, with overall larger dimensions than the Fuso-class and, most notably, different P & Q gun turret layouts. Hyuga is tier VII, facing a maximum of tier IX opponents and Fuso is tier VI facing a maximum of tier VIII opponents. Hyuga is a premium with all that this entails and comes with permanent camouflage. Firepower Hyuga has access to a Main Battery Reload Booster. Hyuga has improved sigma (1.8 vs 1.5) Hyuga has longer ranged secondaries (5.6km vs 4.96km) Hyuga has sixteen 140mm casemate secondaries, Fuso has fourteen 152mm casemate secondaries. Fuso is longer ranged (21.81km vs 20.31km) and she has access to a Spotter Aircraft. Durability Very different armour layouts and hull geometries. No, I'm not going into detail. Hyuga has better overall citadel defence. Hyuga has more hit points (60,700 vs 57,100) Hyuga has better built in fire resistance from her tier (30% vs 23.5% approximately). Fuso has better anti-torpedo defence (34% reduction versus 26%) Agility Hyuga is faster (25.3kts vs 24.5kts) Fuso has a tighter turning radius (730m vs 750m) Fuso has a faster rudder shift time (14.9s vs 15s) Anti-Aircraft Defence Fuso has better AA DPS at close range (150.5dps vs 75.5dps) Hyuga has a Fighter consumable. Vision Control Hyuga has a better surface detection range (16.89km vs 18.9km) Fuso has a better aerial detection range (9.74km vs 10.46km) So Hyuga's not a Fuso clone, but really, the three big differences between the two vessels are her consumables, her range and her dispersion. Hyuga is a much better gun platform than Fuso, even with her deficit of reach. Her gunnery is more reliable than the tier VI vessel. She puts more shells on target from accuracy and more shells down range grace of her Main Battery Reload Booster consumable. In fact, Hyuga's gunnery is so much better that it feels downright comfortable; and that, to me, is always a warning sign that a ship is perhaps a little too good. If I find myself feeling cozy in a given vessel, that's a sure sign that something about it is overtuned in my hands. Whether or not this translates to being similarly good in the hands of the masses is another thing entirely, but a lot of the ships I like end up getting pulled by Wargaming -- just saying. In Hyuga's case, Wargaming's new policy on adjusting premiums should keep this ship from ever getting withdrawn from sale barring her becoming way too popular. But as it stands, I think Hyuga is a fantastic Japanese premium. She's right up there with some of the other top-tier Japanese premium battleships including Ashitaka, Musashi and Shikishima.
  4. The following is a quick review of Viribus Unitis, the tier V Austro-Hungarian battleship flying under the Pan European flag. This ship was provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes at no cost to me (thankfully). To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this article are current as of patch 0.9.10. Please be aware that her performance may change in the future. In the spirit of getting through some of my backlog, here's a stupid-quick review. Facilitated by the graphic production from working on Oklahoma, today we'll be looking at everyone's favourite standard unit of battleship health measurement: Viribus Unitis. This ships is as relevant to the tier V meta as that joke about her hit points: they're both stupidly obscure to the point of irrelevance. I keep forgetting that I should review this darned thing after I put out a warning about her back when she was first released. For those who don't remember, there was an enormous gap between her final test iteration and her release -- so much so that some of the advertised changes that were said to applied didn't go through. Huh, there's been a lot of that lately. Anyway, long story short: This ship isn't worth the time and effort I'm about to put into this review, so I'm giving myself an absolute time limit for the production of this article. Wherever I end up after 8 hours is where I'm calling it. Let's see what I can do. Quick Summary: A soft-skinned, over-tiered battleship with good gunnery but appalling fire angles on her main battery. This issue is compounded with a tiny health pool and poor armour layout. This ship is only good if no one shoots back. As a WWI era dreadnought, her AA power is about what you would expect -- limited to a crewman with a bullhorn whining at airplanes to please stop. Kinda like Reddit. PROS: Dispersed armour scheme giving her decent HE protection. Large broadside of twelve 305mm guns with good accuracy and high DPM. Tiny turning circle radius and good rate of turn. My ship's captain has an epic moustache. Tiny surface detection range. CONS: High-water vulnerable citadel. Poor armour geometry with tons of shell-traps. Tiny hit point pool. Absolutely appalling fire arcs. Relatively short ranged for a tier V battleship. Hilariously bad anti-aircraft firepower. Slow. Skill Floor: Simple / CASUAL / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / MODERATE / High / Extreme There's really not a whole lot to Viribus Unitis. She dittos a lot of the low-tier battleship game play. The only complication is that her fire arcs are total crap and this travesty is forced to face tier VII opponents. That kinda hurts her chances and makes her not new-fish friendly. For veterans well... there's again not a lot to her so short of angling and managing consumables and ammo, that's pretty much the limits to her complexity. Options Consumables There's nothing special here. Viribus Unitis' Damage Control Party is standard for any battleship that's not American or Japanese. It is active for 15 seconds with unlimited charges. It has an 80 second reset timer. Her Repair Party is also standard. It queues up to 50% of penetration damage, 10% of citadel damage and 100% of every other kind of damage. It heals back up to 0.5% of her starting hit points per second over 28 seconds. She starts with four charges and it has an 80 second reset timer. Upgrades Again, very standard fare for a not-American tier V battleship. Start with Main Armaments Modification 1. Next, take Damage Control System Modification 1. Finish things off with Aiming Systems Modification 1. Commander Skills Grab the same ol' battleship build I've been complaining about all year. With the commander skill rework coming, odds are I will only be able to use this like ... six more times. Camouflage Viribus Unitis has a single camouflage pattern. It provides: 3% reduction to surface detection. 4% increase to enemy dispersion. 10% reduction to service costs. 50% increase to experience gains. Viribus Unitis is a gorgeous looking ship. I love WWI era dreadnoughts. Firepower Main Battery: Twelve 305mm guns in 4x3 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration. Secondary Battery: Twelve 150mm guns mounted in casemates along the sides of the hull. The 1.8 sigma of Viribus Unitis' guns can be devastating in the claustrophobic, short-ranged engagements found at low tiers. A Farragut is discovers this to its peril, getting picked off as it accidentally slips out from its smoke screen. Viribus Unitis has very high shell drag coefficients which hurts her ballistics and penetration over distance. Twelve guns solves a lot of problems. Twelve guns with better-than-expected accuracy and without reload penalties solves a whole bunch more. That's the going theory with Viribus Unitis. She's a glass cannon, designed to put more hurt downrange than any of her contemporaries, her flaws be damned. All of her crappy features can be explained as paying for the boons of her gunnery. I'm frankly of the opinion that Viribus Unitis pays way too steep a price for what she gets. She deserves more given what a sorry excuse for a ship she ends up being, all of the sake of this 30 second reload and 1.8 sigma. Here's where I take issue: First and foremost: firing arcs and her gun handling sucks. She has some of the worst battleship fire angles in the game with her rear turrets only able to shoot at targets 47º off her bow and her forward turrets only capable of shooting at targets 41º off her stern giving her 92º of overlapping fire per side. NoW to be clear, there are battleships with worse overlapping fire arcs but they're usually suffering because they're mounted in wings or in P, Q and R positions amidships with superstructure blocking the guns. But for a battleship with a simple bow and stern mounting, Viribus Unitis is among the worst. Mikasa comes to mind as one of the few that is worse off (56º forward, 57º back with only 67º of overlapping fire). Vanguard is pretty close (43º forward, 41º back for 96º of overlap) as is Großer Kurfürst (46º forward, 36º back for 98º of overlap). And just to spit in your eye, her turrets are sluggish with only a 4º/s traverse rate (45s for 180º). Ewwww. Bad fire angles has a trickle down effect. To unmask her guns, you have to give up more broadside. Giving up more broadside not only makes her more vulnerable to return fire. It also slows the ship down if you're trying to advance as you have to nose away from your line of attack in order to keep firing. It's far too easy to find yourself veering off towards the map borders (or at least away from objectives) after a couple of minutes of sustained fire. For a ship that's already moving at a crawl, this is bad news. If you try and stay the course, well now you're only a six-gun battleship which means you're not taking advantage of those twelve guns for which you sacrificed so much. There's also the issue of range. While 16km may seem alright at first, there's no way to extend this the way that similarly short-ranged ships like New York or Texas can through upgrades. Nor does Viribus Unitis have access to a Spotter Aircraft consumable the way Kaiser and Iron Duke can. This is not a fast ship either, so it's not like you can make up the difference by aggressively charging towards the action. I mean, you can call it a charge but it's more like the movemement of glaciers. It takes Viribus Unitis almost 3 minutes to cover 10km at her maximum speed to give you an idea. Though she may share the woes of slow speed with other ships at her tier, they at least have the range to engage sooner. Being so short ranged means that she can (and will) be picked on cruisers outside of her reach. In my most recent bouts of playtesting, I faced a very knowledgeable Nürnberg player who knew they had 500m reach on me and played an expert game of keep away. I was being lit by a friendly destroyer and there was nothing I could do. Fun times. Being kited and picked apart by cruisers and other battleships is a very real issue because of this short reach if you can't drop back into stealth. Finally on my list of complaints, there are her secondaries. These prove to be a durability liability (see below in the Defence section) and provide almost zero benefit. They're too short ranged (4km) and fire too slowly (6rpm) to be of any use to anyone. Viribus Unitis does have some good AP DPM. Provided no one shoots back at her, she can put out some respectable damage. She's not a very good fire setter, however. Coupled with her only modest HE shells, she should really stick to firing AP whenever possible. VERDICT: Pretty good, honestly. There's some drawbacks here and there. It's just a shame these weapons are mounted on this particular ship. Defence Hit Points: 35,700 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 19mm / 13mm / 150mm / 30mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 150mm belt + 160mm transverse bulkhead or 280mm + 50mm citadel wall. Torpedo Damage Reduction: 18% Her hit point pool is such a bloody meme. I would like to tell you that all of the criticism about Viribus Unitis' fragility is just the internet being the internet -- magnifying a small problem and making it an undeserved crisis. Sadly, the rumours are true. She is a piece of crap. At first blush, her protection scheme looks hella exciting. It's got Soviet-levels of bullpaddies going for it with very few thinly armoured sections for HE damage or for large caliber AP shells to overmatch. Combine that with hidden geometry preventing AP shells from capitalizing on the sections they can overmatch. She should be able to tank for days, shrugging off AP hits left right and center with impunity not seen since the days of Imperator Nikolai I's reign. In practice, however, she's a wet noodle. While she does have some resilience to HE fire, she takes so much damage from AP shells it's downright comical. So what's the deal? The issue is shot-traps. Viribus Unitis' hull is riddled with shot-traps. Her secondary casemates are the most egregious of these. Even when the ship angles perfectly, it's possible to slam shells down into these traps and get penetrating hits with battleship and heavy cruiser caliber AP shells. But that's not all. Behind the 19mm hull sections are similar plates to ensure battleship shells fuse and detonate -- and every battleship caliber shell can overmatch these areas. This problem is, of course, exacerbated by her horrible gun firing angles. While her fire angles to the rear may seem more forgiving, her armour layout there is much softer making her more likely to take big damaging hits. But there's worse geometry to consider. Taking Viribus Unitis into a brawl is a death sentence. Not only does she not have the health to survive any torpedo strikes, her citadel is horribly vulnerable. It sits high over the waterline and, though she has a turtleback scheme, it isn't sloped sufficiently to repulse incoming fire. In jousts she's meat on the table for an enemy battleship. Worse, she has an octagonal-shaped citadel, similar to Yamato. Shots aimed beneath her first or last turret have a good chance of causing citadel hits even when the ship angles so your opponents have a chance of landing citadel hits against you before you can do the same to them. Her icebreaker bow should provide protection against this but only if you nose in perfectly. Give up any of her side to try and bait early shots can still see you sunk if you're not absolutely careful with the firing angles. All of these problems are mated to a hull with the hit points of a tier III dreadnought. She just doesn't have the health to take those high alpha hits, with even a single torpedo hit from a Japanese lolibote capable of gutting a third of her health at once. She is a Devastating Strike medal waiting to be printed. There's some hidden geometry to Viribus Unitis' armour scheme in her bow and stern. There is a 30mm thick deck under her 19mm prow, sitting on top of the 110mm icebreaker belt, effectively running nearly the whole length of the ship stopping at her Y-turret. This means that even if shells overmatch her 19mm bow they can't dive into her citadel. In addition on her there is a 43mm plate running along the base of the 150mm waterline belt of her bow (48mm on her stern) mating up to the base of the 160mm transverse bulkhead of her citadel. This prevents shells from diving down into the 25mm transverse citadel section. As nice as this protection scheme seems, she has an octagonal citadel. Shots aimed beneath her A or Y turret will slam into her citadel. Pay attention to the 180mm upper hull section of Viribus Unitis. These indents for her secondary battery make perfect shell traps for catching incoming AP shells. Even when Viribus Unitis angles perfectly, shells aimed high will penetrate for full damage as they catch off this geometry. Her protection scheme ends up looking better than it is. VERDICT: She has too little health and she takes far more damage than you would expect. Agility Top Speed: 20.5kts Turning Radius: 530m Rudder Shift Time: 11.5s 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 4.5º/s at 15.3kts Viribus Unitis really shows her lower tiered origins here. Her 530m turning radius is right home among the tier III battleships. Yes, I said tier III. Even at tier IV, her turning radius would be remarkable. For a tier V battleship, it's amazing. So hats off to her. This tiny turning radius gives her some surprising agility despite her pedestrian top speed. Though she can barely hold onto 15 knots in a sustained turn, she comes about rather quickly (for a battleship) at 4.5º/s per second. Sadly there's no way to correct her rudder shift time so while she may turn tightly, she still feels like a chunker. Worse, she totally out-turns her turrets, which makes her gun handling and poor fire angles all the more frustrating. Plan your turns accordingly and make sure you don't over-steer. Remember to protect her citadel as best you can. She isn't fast but at least she gets around (get it?). VERDICT: A mixed bag. She's very slow. It takes her a bit to start turning because of her rudder shift time, but at least she comes about quickly when she does answer her rudder. That tight turning circle is very nice. Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: Yeah right. Medium Ranged (up to 3.0km): 14dps at 75% accuracy Yep. 14 whole DPS. Even with sector reinforcement, you're looking at over a minute of sustained fire to shoot down ONE (1) tier IV bomber or attack aircraft, to say nothing of battling it out with the tier VI planes this thing also faces. It's not like this thing is Imperator Nikolai I or König Albert, where you could forgive them for having poor AA DPS because the rest of the ship is god-tier. Nope. Viribus Unitis gets 14dps on top of all of her other issues. VERDICT: Laughably bad. Aww, nuts. Refrigerator Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 12.5km / 10.91km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 6.82km/6.14km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 6.1km Maximum Firing Range: 16km Viribus Unitis has very nice concealment values, even for a low-tier battleship. Like with her health, AA defence and turning radius, Viribus Unitis' concealment values have more in common with tier III and tier IV battleships than those at tier V. For a ship with so many durability problems, this is a breath of fresh air and it really helps her survivability. There are, of course, two caveats to this: There are no enemy aircraft around. Good luck here given her matchmaking. There are no enemy destroyers around. Her concealment is most effective when she's uptiered. In the claustrophobic maps at the lower tiers, it's harder to make use of her open water concealment. It's far easier to use islands to help break line of sight rather than relying on putting what little distance there is available between herself and her opponents. If Viribus Unitis were a little faster, it might be easier to put this concealment to use, but she's not. Thus it remains "nice to have" rather than game changing. VERDICT: Good, but not good enough to save her. Final Evaluation Imagine having the brilliant idea after finsihing Pommern's review to wanna play this thing. Ugh, talk about whiplash -- going from a good ship to bad. I've been planning on squeezing a review of this ship in for a while now, since before ShipComrade shut down. She's one of several reviews that I had started but never finished owing to something of higher priority coming out and bumping her back. It was reviewing Oklahoma that brought her back to the fore, with some of the graphical overlap between the two ships expediting my process here. I played about a dozen games in her since September and this ship and I did not get along, though I think you could tell that from how much I've complained about her. I've made little secret that I hate ships with awful gun angles. Toss on some frustrating speed and range issues and it's no wonder I've come down so hard on her. Viribus Unitis does have some nice guns. Despite all of my bellyaching about everything else, there's no taking away from that. Her 305mm guns are excellent They exist at a tier where overmatching is less of an issue. She has good enough penetration and ballistics. She does more than enough damage. The only proviso is that she needs to be left well enough alone in order to pull it off. Yes, I've had some high damage games with Viribus Unitis but that's owing more to the enemy team enabling this rather than any particular strength of the ship. ANY ship performs so much better when the enemy team leaves you alone, after all, so I find it hard to justify that as a selling feature. Way back in October of 2019, I warned players not to buy Viribus Unitis because of confusion regarding whether or not some nerfs had been applied. With the question hanging in the air, I didn't want anyone buying her expecting X performance only to receive Y instead. Thankfully Wargaming was fast to clear up the issue when it was raised. Sadly, even with that done, I'm sticking to my guns and telling you all, once again, to not buy Viribus Unitis. She's a bad ship. Worse, the health of the game down at low tiers is worse than ever and your money won't be well spent. If you play late at night as I enjoy doing, you're stuck facing undersized teams, multiple carriers and/or a handful of bots. These are the off-peak hours risks, of course. But even in prime time, do you really want to take this ship out against tier VIs and VIIs? Viribus Units and Oklahoma feel like Wargaming's attempts at penance to pay for the horror that is Giulio Cesare. You shouldn't be put on the hook for their mistake. Thank you all for reading.
  5. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review - ZF-6

    The following is a review of ZF-6, the tier IX German destroyers. This ship was kindly provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes; I did not have to grind or pay to have access to her. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as of patch 0.10.3. Please be aware that her performance may change in the future. It's dockyard time again! How many of these have we done now? My brain fuzzes over when I try to count. After the Puerto Rico disaster, all of the subsequent dockyard events blur together. Add in the Cossack, Benham and Graf Spee grinds of yesteryear and it's too easy to confuse the two. Anyway, if you want ZF-6, short of outright paying for her, you're going to have to fork over some hard earned cash on top of the grind. This is the first destroyer on offer from the dockyard and it's a German destroyer too. I say this merely to point out that German destroyers in World of Warships do not have the best of reputations. There's a deserved stigma associated with German lolibotes (and the new 150mm armed tech-tree line is not helping). So is ZF-6 worth it? Let's look under the hood. Quick Summary: A small(ish) destroyer with a decent guns and fast, but short-ranged fish. She has access to a weird set of consumables including Main Battery Reload Booster. PROS Excellent AP shells, with good DPM and auto-ricochet angles. Improved penetration on her HE shells. Good fire angles on her guns, making it easy to maximize damage output. Wicked-fast & hard hitting torpedoes. Good surface and aerial detection ranges for a tier IX destroyer. Has access to Defensive AA Fire and Main Battery Reload Booster. Did you hear about her Main Battery Reload Booster? It's pretty important. CONS Small hit point pool for a tier IX destroyer. Anemic HE DPM and fire setting characteristics. Her torpedoes are short-ranged. Not very fast or agile. Shackled with a German Smoke Generator with its short cloud duration. No access to Hydroacoustic Search. (!) Don't worry about these flaws though, guys. She has a Main Battery Reload Booster. Did I fail to mention that she has a Main Battery Reload Booster? Yeah, I dunno what the big deal is either. I'd rather have hydro. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / CHALLENGING / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme ZF-6 isn't a ship I would recommend to novice players. Her play style is just going to get them killed. Her torpedoes are too short ranged. She's not fast. Her smoke's duration is very short. She's not very agile. And she's just stealthy enough to let you push in too deep where your friends can't help you. Add on her ammunition demands, her consumable demands and just how much better she performs if you know how to best make use of islands and smoke? Yeah, there's a pretty steep learning curve here. She's effectively a Fletcher with extra-steps. But for all of these same reasons, ZF-6 is a destroyer that will grow with you. Her concealment in particular is fun to use and abuse. The question, though, is if it's worth all of the extra effort to get the same numbers you might on another boat. Options It's easy to get lost in ZF-6 having "ALL OF THE CONSUMABLES!" only to fail to notice what's she's missing: She does not have Hydroacoustic Search as most other German destroyers do. Consumables Her Damage Control Party is standard for a destroyer. It has unlimited charges, a 40 second reset timer and a 5 second active period. Her Smoke Generator is also standard for a tier IX German destroyer, which is to say that it sucks. The duration of each individual cloud is only 73 seconds as opposed to the usual 93 seconds of tier IX Japanese and Soviet destroyers (or the 127 seconds of the Americans). So that's awful. Otherwise it's normal enough, starting with three charges, a 20 second emission time and 160 second reset timer. Her Engine Boost is totally normal: three charges to start, 8% boost to her speed, 120 second active period and a 120 second reset timer. We're going to skip slot four to talk about slot five's Defensive AA Fire. It increases continuous damage by 50% and quadruples flak explosion damage for 40 seconds. It starts with three charges and has an 80 second reset timer. and finally, let's backtrack to slot four... ZF-6 has access to a Main Battery Reload Booster. This is meant to be her main selling feature and is identical to that of the tier IX French destroyer, Mogador. It starts with four charges and cuts the reload time of her main battery guns by 50% for 15 seconds. It has a 100 second reset timer. Upgrades The short range of ZF-6's torpedoes precludes her from being a good torpedo boat, unfortunately. I mean, you can do it. But you're probably one of those nutters who enjoyed AL Yukikaze, you sick momo. Start with Main Armaments Modification 1 in slot one. You can use Magazine Modification 1 if you really hate surprises, though. The Special Upgrade, Engine Boost Modification 1 is best in slot two if you can afford it. It wi ll set you back 17,000  from the Armory. If that's not available to you, default to Engine Room Protection. For slot three, you've got a choice. None of them are bad ones, so pick the one you like best. Aiming Systems Modification 1 is easily going to the most popular so you can just turn your brain off and default to this, confident that it will help (a little) with long-range pew-pews. Torpedo Tube Modification 1 is kinda fun, in that it accelerates ZF-6's already stupid-fast torpedoes up to plaid (78.5 knots, WHOO! ♪). If you just want a quality of life boost, then Main Battery Modification 2 is fine for that extra turret traverse speed. Propulsion System Modification 1 is your best choice in slot four, giving you more acceleration from a dead stop which is helpful when island camping or hiding in smoke. To no one's surprise, Concealment System Modification 1 is still optimal in slot five. Double-yawn. ZF-6 isn't agile enough to make Steering Gears Modification 1 and 2 worthwhile for slots 4 and 5, btw. Cap this gunship's performance off with Main Battery Modification 3. Commander Skills This was the loser-build that I ended up playing with while testing ZF-6. It worked alright, but it's sloppy. I'm pretty lax with my commander builds as of late knowing there's a reset coming. It's hard to fuss over optimization knowing that some key changes are in the works.. Camouflage ZF-6 comes with two camouflage options, Type 10 Camouflage and War Paint - ZF-6. If you complete the dockyard event, you get both with the ship. They are cosmetic swap , providing identical bonuses common for tier IX premiums: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -20% to post-battle service costs. +100% to experience gains. You can unlock ZF-6's alternate palette for her Type 10 Camouflage by completing the first section of the "German Navy" collection. Crates for this can be purchased for 1,000 in the Armory. ZF-6's War Paint camouflage gets less fancy when you bring it into battle. Firepower Main Battery: Five 128mm guns in four turrets with a twin turret mount on the bow and three single mounts in an A-P-X-Y superfiring configuration. Torpedoes: Eight torpedo tubes in 2x4 launchers with one mounted between the funnels ahead of P-turret and the other behind the rear funnel. The Penultimate German 128mm Gun? If you buy into the hype, ZF-6 has the "best" German 128mm gun in the game right now. Compared to those found on the tech-tree destroyers, ZF-6's guns have a higher muzzle velocity and better auto-ricochet angles on her AP shells all for the cost of a slight dip in shell damage. If you're married to the idea that German destroyers should be throwing AP shells whenever possible, then yes, ZF-6's guns are the best of the 128mm bunch. I am not convinced, however -- mostly because German destroyer AP rounds are not the universal shell that we're so easily led to believe. Let's start with overpenetrations. Overpenetrations take the pop and pizzazz out of AP. Their punchy appeal is predicated upon performing properly when presented with paper-thin panelling upon most perimeter parts of the panoply of presently proffered peers. In other words: the shells won't pop if the steel won't stop. [Lert: If the fuse don't start, your damage's a fart.] This limits the functionality of AP shells when they engage soft targets. Knowing what thickness of steel is necessary to prime the fuses is key. And while angled targets do provide thicker absolute values of steel, one must keep the auto-ricochet values in mind. This creates a rather complicated series of angles where AP = very yes and others where AP = very no. All German 128mm AP shells need 21mm worth of steel in order to arm correctly, so the flat broadsides of a 19mm, tier VIII+ destroyer hull simply doesn't have enough steel present to make the shells go boom. And while good ol' Pythagoras will tell you that 19mm becomes 21mm at about 26º from the perpendicular, the complication of normalization rears its ugly head and you won't see the shells arm until 36º from the perpendicular (though this is always somewhat less to allow for the vertical angle). Against tier VII destroyers with 16mm worth of armour, you're looking at 49º from the perpendicular -- well into ricochet territory for normal 128mm AP shells. We get something that looks like this: AP penetration results for approximate engagement angles against a 19mm armoured target with German 128mm guns. A very special thanks to @mofton for showing me similar graphics earlier! ♥ Against 16mm, the margins get even worse, with normal 128mm AP shells having to contend with ricochets and ZF-6's shells losing 5º on their full penetration arc. I think it's safe to say that ZF-6's AP shells are not the best choice when fighting destroyers. Spamming HE will have you losing many DPM races, even with your vaunted Main Battery Reload Booster. Given her smaller hit point pool and lack of a Hydroacoustic Search consumable, knife fights with other destroyers is an uncomfortable. She can pull it off using her Main Battery Reload Booster as a crutch, but that's definitely outside of her comfort zone. She just doesn't have the health or the overwhelming DPM with her HE shells to be able to out-muscle same-tier (or higher-tier) destroyers. You're essentially hoping your opposite number will flinch when your consumable is active. It doesn't last long enough to decide contests. ZF-6 being a crappy lolibote hunter does not make her guns bad or even sub-par compared to other German 128mm weapons, however. Against battleships and tier VIII+ cruisers, it's a non-issue. Be the best angry smoke cloud you can be and spam that AP to your heart's content. This is where ZF-6's gunnery excels and it's super satisfying to watch hit point pools of cruisers and battleships melt when you can cycle her guns with impunity. Good AP DPM and crappy HE DPM. Pretty standard fare for a German destroyers. Do keep in mind that her lower HE DPM is compensated for by increased HE penetration. While this won't help you against other destroyers, it will increase her overall damage output against larger ships. ZF-6's AP penetration is ... well, it's not great. If you're pelting AP rounds and big-stuff, you want to do so no further than 10km or so to ensure your shells don't shatter against the 25mm/27mm/30mm/32mm of structural plate on your target. Outside of 10km, Pythagoras will tell you that your penetration values get kinda dicey and are likely to shatter. Big surprise, ZF-6's base FPM is terrible. Her Main Battery Reload Booster fixes this briefly. All the more reason to lean onto her AP shells when you can. ZF-6 has some very comfy fire arcs. Her turret traverse rate is kinda slow for a destroyer though, especially if you slap Main Battery Modification 3 on it. It starts at 10º/s but MBM3 will drop it down to 8.7º/s. This isn't enough to make her out turn her turrets, but it's less than ideal. Torpeedus I had a lot of good things I wanted to say about ZF-6's torpedoes. But I can't get past their terrible range. Whatever their strengths, that lack of reach undermines any effectiveness they have. Yes, they're very (VERY!) fast. Yes, they hit hard for a German torpedo, which is great! It's nice to see some German fish with some teeth! Their reload time is normal, so there's no extra penalty incurred for being special. But that range. Oh, that RANGE. Outside of using them to sweep smoke clouds, it was a pain in the butt to make use of ZF-6's torpedoes on the regular. After my play test games, I concluded there were really only two opportunities to make good use of them in the average game. The first, as I mentioned before, is to use them to rake through smoke clouds. This typically happens in the early portions of match in those invariable duels against other lolibotes as you contest cap circles. ZF-6's torpedoes are so fast that it's easy for an opponent to misjudge just how much room they have to manoeuvre. While they don't provide much in the way of reduced reaction time, it's that they move so quickly that your opponents may misjudge and mistime their dodges. I had a lot of success picking off destroyers in smoke -- in fact, this was the number one source of damage with my fish, which is kinda sad but kinda hilarious. The second opportunity comes in the end game, when there's a lot more room to manoeuvre and a lot less Surveillance Radar and Hydroacoustic Search being thrown about, where ZF-6 can take advantage of its low surface detection to finally bring its fish into range of juicier targets. Of course, this latter scenario is generally predicated upon carriers being distracted elsewhere or absent from the match entirely. If there are attentive aircraft present, you can generally forget ZF-6 has torpedoes outside of a suicide charge. The same goes for Surveillance Radar equipped cruisers. If they're still in the game and operating anywhere near your side of the map, then forget this ship has torpedoes. Just don't do it. VERDICT: Good AP shells and a good gunnery consumable. It's like spamming shells with a more-different duckybote. Her torpedoes are too short ranged to get used on the regular. Durability Hit Points: 17,000 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 19mm / 13mm / 19mm / 19mm ZF-6 has almost the same amount of health as a Fletcher-class destroyer. I am now going to tell you that this is a bad thing. If you don't have heals or a monster-pile of hit points, your destroyer's durability is sub-optimal. The trickle down effect here is that unless your gunship destroyer severely out-muscles her opponents in terms of damage output, this really limits their ability to go heads up in a knife fight. Similarly, not having a whole lot of health limits how often (and how long) a given destroyer can take risks like hammering a larger ship from open water without the cover of islands or smoke to protect it. This is doubly dangerous for ships like ZF-6 that aren't especially fast or agile. A smaller hit point pool acts as a lens, magnifying a destroyer's problems in other areas. For example, remember those torpedo woes we talked about? Because of ZF-6's low hit point pool, creeping in close onto an enemy battleship to use her torpedoes is all the more dangerous because if she gets lit, she's not likely to last very long. The same goes with surprise knife-fights, getting spotted by aircraft, lit by Surveillance Radar and you name it. So, low hit points = bad. Welp, we're at the stage where the vaunted Fletcher-class has been so badly powercrept their hit point totals are considered "bad". VERDICT: Crap. Agility Top Speed: 35kts Turning Radius: 670m Rudder Shift Time: 3.9s 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 6.7º/s at 29.3kts It's ZF-6's low top speed that gets her in trouble. She's one of the slowest destroyers at her tier and indeed, within her matchmaking spread. Only Shiratsuyu, Yudachi, Akizuki, Fen Yang, Jutland are slower. 35 knots is pretty much the baseline of most high-tier destroyers so not being able to exceed that largely dooms the ship to mediocre agility unless they have some gimmick to compensate. The British (including the aforementioned Jutland) manage this with improved energy retention and ridiculous acceleration. Others, like Mahan, have very tight turning circles, making them feel more agile than their slow speed would otherwise suggest. But not ZF-6. While her turning radius isn't terrible for a German destroyer, it's certainly not "good". Her rate of turn sits in the doldrums at her tier being among the worst present. The only reason ZF-6 doesn't look worse is that her turning radius is average. VERDICT: ZF-6 isn't Soviet rancid-mayonnaise-bad here, but her speed and agility are both pretty lame. Imagine having just enough speed to get into trouble but not having enough to get out. That's common for most destroyers, frankly, unless you can exceed 37 knots. Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: 2 + 1 explosions for 1,540 damage per blast at 3.5km to 6km. Long Ranged (up to 6km): 52.5dps at 100% accuracy Medium Ranged (up to 4km): 70dps at 100% accuracy Short Ranged (up to 2.0km): 115.5dps at 95% accuracy (109.7dps) ZF-6 is advertised by Wargaming as having "powerful AA defenses". Yeah, no. Her AA power is good for a tier IX destroyer. That's factual. But "powerful?" Her sustained AA DPS is comparable to Fletcher. If you consider Fletcher's sustained AA DPS to be "powerful" then sure, ZF-6 is just a small step down. Personally, I consider Fletcher's sustained AA DPS to be "okay" and verging upon "slightly annoying to contend with if I'm playing my CV like an idiot". I only consider Östergötland and Friesland of having "powerful" examples of AA at this tier. ZF-6 can't shred planes the way Friesland does. ZF-6 will get dropped on and she cannot stave off repeated air attacks. Your best defences are not to be made a target in the first place. Use smoke, Just Dodge™ and hope for the best. The good news is that ZF-6's aerial detection is wonderfully small, so you have that going for you. Keep her AA off and they need to get in close in order to find you. Yes, ZF-6 can put some hurt on planes that loiter but it would be a mistake to think that she can prevent a strike, especially when tier X planes get involved. As with most destroyers, you're hoping for the CV player to be inexperienced or to make mistakes. Protecting yourself is kind of a pipe dream unless they're already running out of planes... or you're playing Co-Op. CVs in Co-Op are a bit of a joke. I have these sorted in my usual way, using the formula ( Sustained AA DPS x [ range - 1km] ). It's not perfect but it does give a sense of who has the better base AA DPS values. That's why Z-44's chunky DPS rates lower than Jutland's, for example -- Jutland will keep enemy aircraft under fire for longer, even if the raw damage her guns can put out is overall less when aircraft are in optimum range. VERDICT: Keep your AA off until you absolutely need it and Just Dodge™. Or go play co-op where enemy aircraft are XP piñatas cuz they don't dodge flak. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 7.42km / 5.83km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 3.2km / 2.59km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 2.79km Maximum Firing Range: From 11.86km to 13.76km I make a lot of lists. Here's a helpful one listing all of the destroyers within ZF-6's matchmaking, ranking them by how low they can potentially get their surface detection range. Her 25th position may look alright, but context matters (for those wondering, ties are 'broken' by tier first and then the order in which nations were released into the game with tech-tree ships having precedence over premiums and reward ships) . Tier VIII is a tough competition with ZF-6 being on par to most of her competitors (100m difference is nothing).. She out-performs most of the VIIs barring Haida and she's reasonably comfortable against most of the tier IXs and Xs. ZF-6's concealment is pretty damn good and, in my opinion, this saves this ship from ignominy. Her guns are decent. Between their auto-ricochet angles and Main Battery Reload Booster, they're more than alright. Her torpedoes are painfully short ranged. You can't really play with those when there's radar lurking about but towards end game? Sure, they're more than workable and their high-speed a nightmare for any surviving battleships. Her agility and speed are both disappointing. Her health is bad for a tier IX destroyer and her AA power is over-hyped. But with stealth, with good concealment, ZF-6 allows for some damn fun shenanigans, especially if you can survive until the latter half of a match. Oh, but if she only had Hydroacoustic Search, she could be the total package -- good early in the game as well as late. As it is, short of sniffing things out with her face, she has no special tools to help her suss out enemy lolibotes when smoke or island cover comes into play and that's a shame. Still, she is small enough to out-spot some of her competitors. To this end, knowing which ships you can comfortably spot while keeping hidden really ups her game. This game play is very reminiscent of that of Fletcher, so those with experience there should be reasonably comfortable with how ZF-6 performs in this regard. If you can afford the points for Radio Location, it will help immeasurably in this regard. Keep a close eye on those team lists. One thing to keep in mind here is that Fearless Brawler will soon be losing its associated concealment penalty and will become a must-have for any and all gunship destroyers that can afford it. Taking it now worsens ZF-6's maximum concealment from 5.83km to 6.12km which is a pretty sizable leap (dropping her to 44th place on the graphic above). That's a pretty hard compromise on one of her best features, so it's a bit of a hard sell at the moment. If ZF-6 had more health or more speed (the latter to help avoid incoming fire), open water firing would be easier to endorse. But as it stands, I'd hold off. VERDICT: Redemption. Final Evaluation "Fletcher with extra steps". That's how ZF-6 feels to me. And the comparison is horribly clumsy, I know. Fletcher doesn't have a Main Battery Reload Booster. She doesn't have improved AP performance, or high-penetration HE. Fletcher's torpedoes are long ranged. Fletcher doesn't scooch about like a dog dragging it's butt on the carpet either. ZF-6 has a lot going for her that Fletcher doesn't, however Fletcher feels more "whole" and "put together" than ZF-6. Her consumables feel like duct-tape keeping the concept from falling apart. I dunno, maybe it's just me. Is ZF-6 any good? Well, she's not awful. Playing against her, I'm certainly going to respect those torpedoes and her Main Battery Reload Booster if I'm in close. But she's not a destroyer I fear to face. Seeing a Kitakaze on the enemy team? Yeah, I sit up and take notice. The same goes for a Fletcher, Jutland or Mogador. I can't say the same for ZF-6. This isn't a ship I'd balk at, I'm happy taking a swipe at in my tier VII Haida, to give you an idea, while I wouldn't contest a duckybote. I think that says a lot right there. Mouse out.
  6. The following is a review of USS Charleston, the tier III American cruiser. This ship was not provided to me by Wargaming. I purchased it all by myself. Lemme tell you, it was a real pain trying to get access to it too. Seriously, this damn thing initially had a limited release-run given away to new players. However, no one I talked to had any idea how these players were selected because it wasn't just any-old new players that were receiving her. Now compound this with trying to get ME access and it was a bloody mess. This was back in November. We're now creeping up on March and stats are changing every other patch. It's hard to keep track. Anyway, this should be considered current with patch 0.8.0.3 from the end of February 2019. Be aware that her stats may change in the future. Charleston is designed to be a new player's first taste of a premium vessel. She's ostensibly the tier III St.Louis tech tree ship painted blue -- about as safe a purchase you could make short of gift-wrapping a Bogatyr... ...except they did gift-wrap a Bogatyr in 2017 and it was a steaming pile. Granted Oleg is much better now but that's only because they carpet bombed some key ships at tier III with nerfs to make her more palatable. Don't get me wrong: Oleg still sucks, but at least you're not actively hating yourself after the ride. But this review isn't about Oleg. This is about Charleston, the Noo Bloo Saint Loo. PROS Enormous hit point pool for a tier III cruiser. Massive broadside of eight 152mm guns. Easily able to shift fire from port to starboard. Good range of 12.5km. It's a premium St.Louis -- one of the most reliable and powerful cruisers, tier for tier, in the game. CONS Slow with a top speed of 22 knots. Only 1.8 sigma on her guns as opposed to 2.0 for most cruisers. Terrible anti-aircraft firepower with no flak bursts. Very large surface and aerial detection for a tier III cruiser. It's a premium St.Louis -- she's not offering you anything more than you'd find in the tech tree. Overview Skill Floor: SIMPLE / Casual / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / MODERATE / High / Extreme St. Louis has a faster rudder shift time over Charleston. This is the only performance difference between the two that I've been able to find. That's it. You can add on some economic differences and her permanent camo but all other metrics are identical. Protected cruisers are some of the simplest ships to play in World of Warships. They're not my first choice for teaching players the basics -- you'll learn how to aim and maybe how to dodge torpedoes but that's about it. It's only with an appreciation of higher-end player-skills, such as exploiting terrain, engagement distances and target selection that players can differentiate themselves in terms of performance with Charleston. As such these ships are only really useful for instructing the absolute basics of gunnery and navigation yet nothing else. Charleston is defined by her huge slug of hit points and her solid damage output. This gives her a BEST and GOOD rating in Defense and Offense respectively. Her agility and anti-aircraft firepower are scarcely worth noting. She has some of the worst surface and aerial detection at her tier, though, making her BAD overall for concealment and vision control (which I'm still calling Refrigerator because of Lert). – One of, if not the worst at its tier. This is a pronounced weakness. – Middle of the pack at its tier. Not terrible, but not terribly good either. – Has a significant advantage over her tier mates. A solid, competitive performer. – No other ship at its tier does this as well as this ship. Options There's not much to say here so we'll skip the usual format. Charleston has one consumable - a Damage Control Party. She has two upgrade slots. The first should be filled with Main Armaments Modification 1 and the second should be player's choice, though I'd default to Steering Gears Modification 1 in an effort to keep your rudder intact. With all of the HE shells being thrown about, it's likely to break often. There's no wrong choice here though. And her camouflage is standard Type 10 Camouflage, providing the usual 50% experience gains on top of a 10% reduction to service costs. Enemy dispersion is increased by 4% when shooting at her and her surface detection range drops by 3%. Two camouflages in one. If you complete the 'American Cruisers' collection, you unlock an alternate palette for Charleston, turning her from blue to off-white. New players won't have access to this for a loooong time, so if you see a white Charleston, it's probably me or another a seal clubber. Make sure to say 'hi' before you show us no mercy. Firepower & Defense Main Battery: Fourteen 152mm rifles with one on the bow, one on the stern and twelve in casemates divided evenly on either side of the ship. Secondary Battery: Eighteen 76.2mm rifles in nine casemates per side. Hit Points: 29,500 Maximum Citadel Protection: 102mm belt + 76mm turtleback Minimum Bow and Deck Armour: 6mm I'm smooshing these two sections together with good reason. The St. Louis-class cruisers are some of the best "battleships" at their tier with a combination of good survivability and excellent firepower. Charleston loves it when enemy ships are dumb enough to try and trade fire with her. There are few ships she can't bully. Lemme show you why: Why You Bully Me? Bogatyr is listed here using her upgraded 130mm guns instead of her stock 152mm. The St.Louis-class doesn't quite top the DPM charts at tier 3, but it gets close enough. Don't worry about Kolberg. The apparently monstrous damage output of her guns is tempered by horrible ballistics and terrible penetration. She needs all of the help she can get. "The Best Battleship at tier III" doesn't quite hold water when you compare her effective hit points to an actual battleship. I stuck South Carolina in here to show the starting point of tier III battleships (I could have gone a little lower by using her stock hull, but whatevs). Don't get me wrong, the St. Louis-class has a enormous chunk of HP for a tier III cruiser, but it doesn't compare to an actual dreadnought's. Thankfully, most dreadnoughts won't be running with all of the potential recovery perks ... well, unless someone's seal clubbing. Moreover, short of meaty citadel hits, battleships cannot keep up with Charleston's damage output. When you look at those two charts, it readily becomes apparent that Charleston is well setup to out trade just about any other cruiser she comes across. It's only some of the Russian cruisers that present any sort of competition. This is facilitated by a lack of precision for her guns. Charleston, like St. Louis, has only 1.8 sigma compared to the nominal 2.0 sigma found on other cruisers. You generally won't feel the difference unless you're trading at long range. Even then, taking on a full health St.Louis-class isn't advised unless it's meant to be a game-winning play. Anything that crosses Charleston is going to come out gutted. Turning fights into slug-matches is exactly the American heavyweight's forte. With guns spread evenly down each side, switching fire from left to right is a snap, mitigating the dangers of close-range ambushes so commonplace on the claustrophobic, low-tier maps. Charleston rewards you for firing and manoeuvring, turning about to foil enemy fire and torpedo spreads. IFHE Need Not Apply The armour profile of low tier ships will appear strange to anyone more comfortable with higher tiered matches. Cruisers have almost no protection whatsoever. Contrarily, most battleships have dispersed armour schemes -- making them simultaneously incredibly bouncy while still having very convenient holes to play with. The extremities of battleships within Charleston's matchmaking spread do not exceed 19mm making the need for anything more than the 25mm of penetration from her HE shells largely superfluous. However, these same battleships have decks and upper hulls far exceed this armour value, with large areas with armour so thick that even with the IFHE skill, Charleston wouldn't inflict any damage. Charleston's armour piercing rounds are a bit of a mixed bag. While they are some of the most effective cruiser AP shells at their tier, their penetration performance drops off quickly over range. Most cruisers within her matchmaking spread have less than 100mm of citadel protection, making her AP shells effective at blowing out machine spaces at ranges up to 8km or so. This range is generally a good rule of thumb for engaging battleships with AP as well provided they're offering up a flat broadside. Aim for the upper hull you'll see more reliable damage than trying to find the few squishy spots with her HE. Of course, you could elect to ignore AP entirely and simply hope to set the ship on fire. While this will work (sorta), it's leaning on the hope that your opponents will mismanage their Damage Control Party. Charleston is only a passable fire starter. In this manner she pales compared to the Russian ships at this tier and it's probably the only fault of her weapons. Compared to her tier mates, Charleston is only a modest firebug. Again, Bogatyr is listed here with her 130mm guns. Her own protection scheme demands respect from AP slinging ships. She has an impressive combination of a 102mm belt and 76mm turtleback -- more than enough armour protection to keep out most cruiser-caliber AP shells even at point blank ranges. What's more, there's a hidden 51mm sloped plate that runs the mid-line of the ship from bow to stern, preventing overmatch from any large caliber AP shells trying to strike through her citadel roof. This doesn't give her any kind of immunity to citadel damage from battleships -- they'll happily blow out your machine spaces if you give them a chance. Her defense falls apart in the face of HE spam, however. While her 102mm external belt will shatter its share of incoming rounds, the 6mm and 13mm of external structural plate on the rest of the ship will give away penetration damage like no one's business. Best Battleship In the end, Charleston is very well armed and very well protected for a cruiser. She has comparable firepower to the Bogatyr-class cruisers with a better protection scheme and a bigger chunk of hit points. Given the teething troubles of battleships at low tiers, she stands a good chance of giving novice dreadnought players nightmares. You don't quite have the Russian flame throwers going for you, but you've got everything else on your side. Oh, she also has secondaries but they suck. Charleston's citadel protection is excellent for a cruiser. The rest of her armour is very soft. On the plus side, poorly aimed battleship AP shells will over penetrate. On the negative side, everyone spams HE at low tiers... Summary Tough for a cruiser because of her trolly armour vs AP shells and big hit point pool. Her durability does not compare to an actual battleship, though, and she's highly vulnerable to HE of all gun calibers. Very solid damage output. She's only passable fire starter for a cruiser. She's not bad, but she's not a flamethrower. Firepower Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : I'd have given it to her if she could have topped the fire-setting at her tier along with her solid DPM. Defense Evaluation: What would have to happen to DOWNGRADE to : The St.Louis-class is pretty safe here. Something bigger and fatter would have to come along -- or something middling with a decent heal and a half decently covered citadel. That's why Caledon didn't make the mark -- her machine spaces are too exposed. Agility Top Speed: 22 knots Port Turning Radius: 450m Rudder Shift Time: 8.5s Maximum Rate of Turn at 4/4 Engine Power: 6.1º/s Low tier cruisers are all wigglebutts. Charleston is in great company here with most low tier cruisers able to turn about at 6º/s or more. Charleston's gun traverse is fast enough to keep up with said manoeuvres which makes her feel very comfortable to play. This contrasts with some of the Russian gunships which are in bad need of some WD40 on their gun mounts. Charleston's relatively slow speed isn't much of a handicap. Lower tier maps are very small. Her 22 knot top speed is more than sufficient to provide her the ability to flex as needed or keep up with the pace of battle. So, other than "twirling Charleston = very yes", the only other element of note is her rudder shift time. It's slower than that of St. Louis which shifts all the way from port to starboard in 6.4s. Charleston's is two seconds slower. That's it. That's the big ol' difference between the two boats. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : More speed. Her turning radius is fantastic but speed would make all of the difference here. Anti-Aircraft Defense Short Range: 27dps between 0.1km and 0.7km Lemme just dig up a quick jpeg to summarize my feels on Charleston's AA firepower. It's the same one I used on Varyag's review and I think it's appropriate: The difference is, of course, Charleston actually has AA guns while a good third of the tier III cruisers don't. It's a shame that doesn't mean much. A handful of 7.62mm machine guns aren't going to do anything to deter a tier IV aircraft carrier from making repeated runs against Charleston. Her AA isn't worth specializing into. Your ship is an ideal, squishy target for repeated rocket and dive bomber strikes. Your terrible armour profile means they'll have no problems stacking damage. Your only hope to shoot anything down is for an already on-fire aircraft to attempt an attack run on you -- so it's owing more to the enemy CV misplaying than your own AA Defense. There are two consolations I can offer. First, as of patch 0.8.0.3, it takes forever for a tier IV aircraft carrier to kill anything. Second, most of the other cruisers also have crappy AA so it's not like you're the juiciest target around. Those CVs WILL kill you, though, if given enough time. So don't make it easy on them. Go hug a Wyoming if they're bothering you. Charleston getting bombed by Langley's dive bombers. Note that tracer firing at the aircraft overhead with a single ineffective "pew". This says a lot about the effectiveness of low-tier anti-aircraft firepower and none of it good. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : Not much actually. This speaks to how terrible most of the AA firepower is at tier III. She'd just need a couple of medium caliber mounts to toss out some explosions and BAM, she might even be the best at her tier. Refrigerator Base Surface Detection: 10.98km Air Detection Range: 5.1km Minimum Surface Detection Range: 9.59km Detection Range when Firing in Smoke: 5.04km Main Battery Firing Range: 12.5km You don't need to know much else about Charleston's concealment other than this graph. She's chubby, sharing a surface detection range close to some of the low-tier battleships. She's going to be one of the first targets spotted by the enemy team, whether that be with surface ships or aircraft. Note these aerial detection ranges are new with patch 0.8.0.3 representing a 20% reduction. Charleston previously had a larger aerial detection range of 6.3km. I don't know yet if this change will be permanent. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : Greatly reduce that aerial detection or shave off a couple hundred meters off her surface detection. Playin' the Blues Charleston is pretty forgiving when it comes to what skills you stick on her. A lot of them simply don't benefit her in any real capacity. To this end, there's only a few skills that are particularly good for her while the rest are kinda meh. Priority Target (tier 1) - Letting you know when it's time to get wiggly because ither a lot of ships are looking at you or when a hidden destroyer just switched from guns to torpedoes and back again. Adrenaline Rush (tier 2) - Increased rate of fire is always good. Demolition Expert (tier 3) - More fire! Maybe. Vigilance (tier 3) - Help you dodge the attacks of those few destroyers that can launch from stealth. Maybe. Concealment Expert (tier 4) - Make yourself less of a target. Final Evaluation It's a blue St. Louis with worse rudder shift that you can buy for 15,000 Coal. What more do you want from me? Okay, okay, okay. The tier III meta is one of the more interesting ones found in World of Warships, even if it's rather simplistic. All of the battleships can overmatch each other, but the prevalence of extended waterline belts makes bouncing AP shells through angling viable. There are almost no vision-projecting consumables but destroyer torpedoes are either too short ranged or the maps so claustrophobic that it's a challenge to remain hidden. The variety of cruisers is amazing. They have everything from armoured cruisers to scout-cruisers to destroyer leaders. Some of the cruisers have durability that almost rivals battleships. Fire and HE shells are a universal threat to all ships. It's unfortunate that low tiers are slapped with the (admittedly justified) label of being a kiddy pool. I wonder if we'll ever see a tier III Ranked Sprint season? For veterans of the game, it may be a bit of a shocker, but the St. Louis-class (including Charleston) are no longer the heavyweight champions at their tier. The nerfs the class received brought them back into line, with attacks to their sigma and rate of fire. Tier III is a much more comfortable contest now with Aurora and Bogatyr being close competitors with the American giants. Varyag and Oleg are still unfortunate, but they're not so far behind that they're not viable (just don't spend money on them). Charleston's champion-status is also more hotly contested now with some strong battleships to face. Gone are the days where she could easily out pace and out range a Kawachi or South Carolina and win the crown. She now contends with more balanced opposition in the form of Nassau, Bellerophon and Turenne (and unbalanced opposition in the form of König Albert). For me, I have two issues with Charleston. The first is that she's a low-tier premium. She's great for having fun, derping around in small maps and against (generally) novice opponents and hunting down other seal clubbers. However, being low tier, she's not great for earning credits and she doesn't earn nearly as much experience as higher tiered premiums. The second is that she offers absolutely nothing different compared to St. Louis except that slower rudder shift. So the take away is this: If you earn her for free, awesome and grats to you. If you have to pay coal for her, you can probably hold off unless you must-must-must collect 'em all. There's nothing wrong with Charleston. She's a great ship. We know this because she's already present in the tech tree under the name St. Louis. Would I Recommend? Eh, unless you're swimming in coal, I'd hold off. PVE Battles How well does the ship maintain profitability in Co-Op modes and how does she fare against bots? Yes. Charleston kicks butt against bots. Random Battle Grinding: This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements. No. While she does well in Random Battles, if you're trying to grind credits or captain experience, there are much better choices out there. Save up your coal and get an Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya instead. For Competitive Gaming: Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding. No. Do you know why? You can't play in the King of the Sea Tournament with Charleston. Did you know you can register for that right now? IT'S SHAMELESS PLUG TIME! For Collectors: If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you. Meh. She was built and steel and served during the first quarter of the 20th Century, including some escort roles in WW1. She didn't see combat, however, with most of her cruises being political in nature. For Fun Factor: Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play? Yes. It's a St. Louis-class cruiser. It's hella fun. What’s the Final Verdict? How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage – Meh – Gud – Overpowered? GARBAGE– I hate it! Mehbote – An average ship. Probably forgettable. Gudbote – The best thing ever. Totally not overpowered because I like padding my stats in it. OVERPOWERED – I hate playing against it! Don't worry, kids. That's just ketchup. Maybe. In Closing Shut up. It's still technically "next week". I'm on time. Really. Ugh. I'll have another due out in a few days time, I hope. It's 75% written. I just have ... like ... all of the graphics to do. Which reminds me, I should get started.
  7. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review: Pommern

    The following is a review of Pommern, the tier IX premium German battleship. Wargaming very kindly provided me access to her at no cost to myself. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed here are current as of patch 0.9.10. Please be aware that her performance may change in the future. 2020 has been one Hell of a year, and not in a good way. There was so much craziness going on, it's easy to miss that 2020 was the year that German premiums got good. Mainz, München, Lowenhardt, Agir and Siegfried -- they're all damn respectable premiums. Even Odin and Z-35 aren't terrible. To cap everything off, in late summer Wargaming released Pommern. On paper, she looks kinda blah. A slow-firing, 380mm armed version of Friedrich der Große? Screw off. This ship has no place being decent. Yet to hear the hype surrounding this ship, she's not only decent but well liked. So what the Hell happened? Well, gentle reader, let's take a look... Pommern = Chungus-Tirpitz. Damn it, that's a much better name. Quick Summary: A Friedrich der Große-class battleship with twelve, inaccurate 380mm guns. She also has two quad torpedo launchers and the Hydroacoustic Search consumable. PROS German citadel protection, effectively making her immune to AP shell citadel hits except under extreme circumstances. Excellent armour profile for shrugging off HE hits with an ice-breaker bow, thick upper hull and amidship deck armour plates. Heavy broadside of twelve guns. Heavy, long-ranged secondary gun battery with improved HE penetration values. She has torpedoes (!) She has access to Hydroacoustic Search. CONS Absolutely appalling gun fire angles. Long 33 second reload. 380mm AP shells cannot overmatch 27mm hull sections found so commonly within her matchmaking. 1.5 sigma dispersion on her main battery. 105mm secondaries have only 26mm of penetration, limiting their effectiveness against heavy cruisers and battleships. Horrible handling. Anti-aircraft defence is too short ranged. Skill Floor: Simple / CASUAL / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme German battleships are very new-player friendly. They are ostensibly immune to citadel hits. They have good armour protection for shrugging off HE shells. Their gunnery has been improved too, so it's not like you're dealing with the worst dispersion in the game anymore. Secondaries are fun and easy to use, automatically hoovering up damage. Aside from being packed in at a high tier, Pommern is a very easy ship to see success in. The only downsides for new players is that she forces them to sail broadside to unmask all of her guns which can lead to her getting chunked by return fire. While these aren't likely to ever be citadel hits, that doesn't really matter when every salvo lands multiple penetrations. For experts, Pommern provides all of the usual German battleship brawling benefits with the added plus of the combination of torpedoes and her Hydroacoustic Search. She can play more boldly than Tirpitz can, for example. She has more raw durability than Odin does too, so it pays to play aggressive when the timing is right. Brawl and jousting kills are the best kills and this is the ship to do it in. However, only a skilled player can pull these off with any reliability outside of PVE modes. Options Pommern is pretty bog-standard for a German battleship, showing up with Hydroacoustic Search and baiting players to spec secondaries instead of their main battery. Consumables Pommern's Damage Control Party is standard for a German battleship. It comes with unlimited charges. It's active for 15 seconds. It has an 80s reset timer. Her Repair Party is also standard, healing up to 14% of her health over 28 seconds per charge. It queues up 10% of citadel damage, 50% of penetration damage and 100% of everything else. It comes with four charges and an 80s reset timer. Finally, she has a Hydroacoustic Search consumable common to tier IX and X German battleships. Pommern starts with three charges which are active for 120s each and a 120s reset timer. It detects torpedoes up to 4km away and ships up to 6km away. Upgrades & Captain Skills Look, there are two ways you can build Pommern -- optimally or the correct way. Optimally involves building to buff your main battery firepower while simultaneously building for fire mitigation. This will give you the most consistent performance out of Pommern. Hey, look! It's this graphic again! Thankfully, you're not a snivelling, simp-wimplodite that caves to peer pressure. You know that the best experiences in World of Warships come from out-brawling your opponents. Build your ship towards going ham with secondaries, Hydroacoustic Search upgrades and improved rudder shift time. Chicks dig brawlers. I should know. Make the right choice. Note that I didn't flag IFHE here. Camouflage Pommern has access to two camouflage options. They provide identical bonuses standard for tier IX premiums: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -20% to post-battle service costs. +100% to experience gains. It needs to be said: Pommern's default camouflage is bloody gorgeous. The alternate palette isn't bad either. Finally there's the "Iron Cross" camouflage pattern which was earned through completing missions tied to the release of the German Aircraft Carriers. Firepower Main Battery: Twelve 380mm guns in 4x3 turrets in an A-B-X-Y super-firing configuration Secondary Battery: Eight 150mm guns in 4x2 turrets and sixteen 105mm guns in 8x2 turrets divided evenly down the two sides. Torpedoes: Eight tubes in 2x4 launchers with one mounted on each side between the funnels. Pommern is no Thunderer. In terms of firepower, the two ships are diametrically opposed. Thunderer has massive, quick-firing and super-accurate guns with decent fire angles but horrible gun handling. Pommern has relatively small-calibre guns, she's slow-reloading, she has good traverse but is stuck with horrible fire angles. Pommern subscribes to the whole 'toss enough poop at the wall' philosophy where accuracy is concerned. Conversely, you can brawl with Pommern and brawl well. Thunderer just sort of whimpers and dies in those situations. That's enough of my soon-to-be-retired meme-boat. Let's talk more about Pommern. With many guns comes much DPM. Pommern doesn't quite keep pace with Alsace, the other twelve 380mm-gun armed battleship at this tier. Alsace has a better AP shell and slightly faster reload. Pommern's HE DPM is pretty German -- which is to say crappy. Her one advantage is her 1/4 HE penetration (95mm) which means that while her individual salvos don't do as much potential damage, she's more likely to hurt hard-targets like German and Soviet battleships. Approximate AP penetration values drawn from wowsft.com. Pommern's AP penetration isn't great, but that's largely owing to 380mm guns being rather small caliber for her tier. Belt armour and citadel protection gets ridiculously thick within her matchmaking too, so you can't count on long-range citadel hits against other battleships. An Egg Through a Garden Hose Pommern has four weaknesses with her main battery firepower: Her fire angles suck. Her reload time sucks. Her dispersion sucks. Her gun calibre sucks. I hate Pommern's fire arcs. Her 5º/s rotation rate is okay, though. A-turret: 38º off the stern. B-turret: 41º off the stern. X & Y-turret: 42º off the bow For those of you who can't abide any ship with obvious weaknesses, you can tap out right here. Those of you who couldn't look past Odin's hit point total: shoo. Begone. This isn't the ship for you. For the rest of you, let's go over these drawbacks and look at them in closer detail. There's always a price for having a lot of guns -- at least until you hit tier X. Usually this is just crappy dispersion but it's not uncommon for battleships to have compromised rates of fire too. While not as bad as the new American battleships, Pommern has a "reload tax" for her twelve gun armament, paying for it with an extra three seconds on each reload. Even with this deficit, her AP damage output still keeps ahead of all of the other eight and nine gun armed battleships at her tier with the exception of Musashi and Jean Bart (and then only when the French ship is on drugs) so that's nice. Pommern's HE damage is another story. German HE shells, while benefiting from massively improved penetration, tend to suffer from a very mild case of being the absolute worst. She's only just ahead of Friedrich der Große, the six-gun armed Georgia and the Sovetsky Soyuz-sisters when it comes to sustained HE damage output. You might think that this means you should stay away from her HE. Well, no. It has a purpose. While you should generally stick to AP shells wherever possible, her HE rounds do have their strengths. Though she lacks raw damage, her higher penetration is more likely to ensure her shells will do damage against bow-tanking battleships. Pommern's 95mm of penetration should ensure that short of striking turrets, belts and conning towers that her numbers tick over -- modest numbers to be sure, but still. Similarly, an unappreciated aspect of German HE shells is that their fire setting chances aren't terrible. While not British-good, they are reliable fire setters which can be a good avenue for some supplementary damage (at least so long as you didn't spring for IFHE for your secondaries). This is particularly true when trading fire with intransient bow-on battleships or just before a brawl to tax enemy Damage Control Parties before your secondaries open up. Despite her poor damage showing, Pommern's a pretty decent fire bug for a tier IX battleship. German HE damage is lackluster but their fire chance per shell is pretty good. This performance is, of course, assuming you can stack the hits which has its own set of problems. This all said, Pommern's AP shells are far and above better, damage wise. The only issue is that their overmatch potential at tier IX has a lot to be desired. With more and more ships having 27mm+ sections of armour along their hulls, Pommern cannot reliably penetrate angled targets. Angling against Pommern works very well in anything but a very light cruiser. While there are a glut of 25mm cruiser bows and sterns to bullseye (and the occasional 26mm bow on tier VII battleships when Matchmaker is being gentle), Pommern's AP rounds are far from reliable. If it were just a question of having enough raw AP penetration, it wouldn't be so much of an issue, but her inability to best 27mm+ hull sections is a real drawback given their prevalence. But all of these questions of rate of fire, overmatch and flagging HE damage are all moot if you can't reliably put shells on target. Pommern's dispersion is ... well, it's not good. With Pommern's 1.5 sigma rating, RNGeebus has been given free reign to troll or bless you as He sees fit. Her twelve guns deliver a shotgun blast of shells flying every which way. Your aim can be perfect only to be plagued by overshoots and undershoots. Similarly, you can be well off your mark only to have this same spread of shot veer a shell straight into your target's citadel, making you look like a genius. The better you are at aiming, the more frustrating Pommern's dispersion seems. Yes, stray shots will sometimes work out in your favour but it's not something to be relied upon. Couple this with her longer reload and this wonky sprays are all the more saddening. Overall, Pommern's main battery gunnery is a mixed bag. Now, I am of the opinion that having twelve guns solves a lot of problems. Her 1.5 sigma isn't that bad when there's so many shells being spat out. Her 33 second reload isn't so awful that her damage suffers thanks to firing so many barrels at once. Her AP shells might not be able to overmatch all targets, but when the shells do land, they have decent penetration and respectable damage values. Her HE shells might have low damage per shell, but they have great penetration and solid fire setting chances. Her fire angles make my eyes bleed but at least her turret traverse is okay. So there's give and take in nearly every aspect. I think it's easiest to say that Pommern's guns are simply "sufficient" and leave it at that. They're not terrible but they're not good. Once again, a standard dispersion test. This is 180 AP shells fired at 15km at a stationary Fuso bot. Shots are coming in from left to right with the Fuso effectively bow-tanking. Pommern was equipped with the Aiming System Modification 1 upgrade, effectively making this sampling a "best case scenario" in terms of her overall dispersion area. Pommern's torpedo arcs are very comfortable and you can use them to ensure that you're not overangling against an enemy. Just switch over fast to your torpedoes. If you can line the fish up with the bow of your opponent, you're showing too much side and are in danger of taking penetrating AP hits. When it comes to her secondaries, their only major drawback is the 26mm penetration on her 105mm guns. You'll be tempted to take IFHE to make them more effective but that's an expensive choice and it will severely hurt the fire chance on not only them but her main battery guns as well. It's not worth it, in my opinion, but you do you. Secondaries & Fish to the Rescue! As a certified Bigpitz, Pommern's secondaries and torpedoes are both excellent. We'll start with her torpedoes. They have one fault and that's only have a 6km range. This is a common enough flaw among German battleships; they're all shackled to this range. In PVP battles, the opportunities to use her torpedoes are uncommon because of this short reach but they are oh-so satisfying. A broadside of four torpedoes is enough to cripple just about any battleship she comes across with only the chonkiest of thunderchunkers able to shrug off said hits and stay mean. Just about anything else will be reduced to a snivelling wimplodite crying hax. You totally get bonus points if you sink a destroyer with them too. With Pommern's Hydroacoustic Search, closing to such distances is a lot less risky than it is for Tirpitz but she has more advantages over the tier VIII premium than just that. Pommern's secondaries have excellent firing angles. She doesn't contend with any of the wonky weirdness of other German battleships' fire arcs. Odin, Bismarck and Tirpitz secondaries have some turrets which behave like they're occluded when they really shouldn't be. At a 30º angle, Pommern can bring all of her secondaries to bear onto a target, bathing them in a torrent of fire from fourteen barrels worth of hot-LUV! There are only two issues with Pommern's secondaries. The first is one of accuracy. Pommern's secondaries do not have the improved dispersion found on ships like Massachusetts and Georgia. It takes her more shots to land a similar number of hits. You'll just have to deal. The second issue is one of penetration. Pommern's secondaries have the same 1/4 HE penetration of her main battery guns which is amazing. However, her 105mm secondaries "only" have 26mm of HE penetration. Without Inertial Fuse for HE Shells, these guns struggle to deal direct damage to anything other than destroyers. As Pommern's 105mm guns make up the bulk of her secondary battery, it's a bit of a bummer. They're so close to being all kinds of awesome. Oh well. You'll just have to burn the thicker targets to death instead. So how good are these secondaries anyway? They're #2 in my books for secondaries at tier IX. Here they all are, ranked: Georgia - Excellent fire arcs, high rate of fire, good range and improved accuracy. The only issue with these guns is that they lack penetration to hurt anything bigger than a destroyer. While their chance to set fires is also pretty low, their improved accuracy makes up for the difference. Pommern - Excellent fire arcs, high rate of fire (105mm), good range, very high penetration. If Pommern had accuracy and/or a uniform battery of German 128mm, she'd be god-tier. Friedrich der Große - High rate of fire (105mm), good range, very high penetration. Friedrich der Große doesn't quite ditto Pommern's fire arcs so she misses out. Alsace - French secondaries look better than they are. They're held back by a lack of penetration on their 100mm shells. They can't even directly damage tier VIII+ destroyer hulls. At least they can set fires with the high number of shells they spit out. Jean Bart - She largely dittos Alsace but with worse firing angles. Izumo & Bajie - Decent range. That's really all these guns have going for them. Their fire arcs are bad. Their rate of fire is nothing special. Musashi - She just has decent range. She doesn't have enough of a broadside to be worthwhile. Lion, Iowa, Missouri, the Sovetsky Soyuz-sisters - lul. No. Playing second fiddle to Georgia's secondary is pretty damn high praise, I've got to say. Go, Bigpitz! Much better. See? These are what good fire arcs look like! Pommern's 105mm secondaries not only make up the bulk of her defensive damage output, but they also have the best fire arcs. Summary: Meh gun performance but she gets twelve of 'em, so that fixes things. Torpedoes are bae. Secondaries are bae. VERDICT: Hilarious up close. Meh at a distance. Defence Hit Points: 81,900 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 32mm / 19mm / 145 to 235mm / 50 to 80mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 300mm belt + 150mm turtleback + 45mm citadel wall Torpedo Damage Reduction: 25% Pommern has a big ol' slug of hit points and standard heals. Nothing fancy, just effective. Yes, I made these colours deliberately as pretty as possible. Pommern is blessed with all of the usual defensive boons of German battleships. Namely: She has a large hit point pool. She has excellent protection against cruiser-calibre HE shells. It is very difficult to land citadel hits against her with AP shells. German battleships aren't built lean. They're enormous. While this does make them a bigger target, easier to hit with ... well, anything ... it does ensure their hit point pools are on the large side. This in turn means more raw hit points can be hoovered up through their standard Repair Party consumables. This does, unfortunately, make them attractive targets for anyone looking to farm up large amounts of fire damage. While Pommern can do nothing but properly manage her Damage Control Party consumable to mitigate the resulting blazes, she is at least well protected against HE shells. Her distributed armour scheme generally just leaves her superstructure and the very tips of her bow and stern vulnerable to direct damage from small and medium caliber HE rounds. Similarly, this distributed armour scheme ensures that Pommern has little to fear from overmatching AP shells from the largest Japanese battleships. Short of better defence against bombs and torpedoes, you couldn't ask for a better armour layout. So she's fat and tough. This is nice. There's a hidden plate along the underside of the 150mm extended waterline belt. It's divided into two parts and helps plunging fire overmatching the 32mm bow from entering the citadel. The forward part is only 20mm thick. But echoing the layout of the 50mm deck plate is another 50mm plate which cannot be overmatched. Thus even if Musashi, Yamato, ARP Yamato or Shikishima overmatches the 32mm bow, it's nigh impossible for them to score citadel hits on Pommern through her snoot. There's another hidden plate in the stern protecting the citadel in a similar fashion, but it's 110mm thick. The geometry there is a bit janky to accommodate the steering gears though. Bigpitz also inherits a turtleback protection scheme for her citadel. Turtlebacks have a reputation for providing immunity to citadel hits, but this is undeserved. A well designed turtleback can help mitigate citadel damage, but this needs to have very shallow angles relative to the horizontal in order to prompt ricochet checks. It also has to be set to the correct depth so that shells can't plunge underneath it, bypassing it entirely. If the turtleback is angled too steeply, aside from providing another (hopefully) thick piece of steel to slow down incoming shells, it can actually work to the ship's detriment, steering shells via normalization mechanics into the citadel rather than away from it. Thankfully for Pommern (and most German battleships), her turtleback is well designed and short of shells being thrown at it from very long distances, it is guaranteed to auto-ricochet any AP rounds that punch through her belt. Even at these distances where her turtleback can no longer guarantee to ricochet shells, the combination of belt, turtleback and citadel armour is usually in excess of the available penetration. Pommern might take penetrating hits but the shells soon run out of steam before reaching her citadel itself. It is safe to say that she's is largely immune to AP citadel hits. While Pommern has the angles of her turtleback correct, it suffers from a high-water placement that can be bypassed. Normally this isn't an issue. However, when Pommern turns, she unwittingly hikes her citadel's protection up over the waterline "flashing her panties" as Yuro coined it. Any perfectly placed sub-waterline hits WILL citadel Pommern when she's in a turn like this. Needless to say, it's a pretty rude shock for Bigpitz drivers when they get walloped for most of their health simply for playing with their rudder. Note that this raising of her citadel happens on the inside of her turn, not the outside which dips down somewhat. This dip reduces the effective angle of her turtleback by about 2.5º or so -- it's not enough to foil her turtleback's protection but it is a slight reduction which helps with those auto-ricochet checks. This is all to say that Pommern is vulnerable while turning, but it's not an enormous and easy-to-exploit weakness. It has been hyped as being more exaggerated than it is. Just because she can take citadel hits, this does not mean that she will. To land hits like this, Pommern needs to be giving up a near perfect broadside, so time those turns appropriately, watch out for flanking fire and it becomes largely a non-issue. It is worth mentioning that this dispersed armour scheme can work against her when it comes to shrugging off AP hits, especially if you're lazy about keeping her properly angled. The thick plates of her upper hull and along her waterline ensure that every penetrating AP shell fuses. Provided the shell is slowed down sufficiently to pop inside her, she takes full penetrating hits when other battleships might only suffer over-penetrations. This is where her shoddy fire angles on her turrets is a big liability. In order to unmask her twleve gun broadside, she has to give up protection against return fire from AP shells. In order to stay AP-safe, she's reduced to a six-gun battleship. This reduced battery makes RNG's influence on her awful dispersion all the more pronounced and can be frustrating. Pommern's more telling weakness comes from torpedoes, bombs and fire. She does have a Hydroacoustic Search to help mitigate the foremost of the three, though that's no help against air-dropped fish. Similarly, AP bombs make a ruin of her and it's not like her AA defense is up to the task of keeping her super safe (more on that later). She's her own worst enemy when it comes to fire mitigation. You're going to want to build her up for secondary bonuses. This precludes her from taking much-needed (and let's face it: optimal) fire reduction skills. This means it's open season to stack blazes against her and you KNOW every Royal Navy battleship is going to paint your decks with their phat HE shells. Similarly, you can expect almost everyone else to huck HE at her given the difficulties of hurting her with AP. As awesome as full secondary builds are, the prevalence of fire damage means that such build are never optimal. Overall, Pommern is a well protected battleship -- as well protected as you could want and then some. She has her weaknesses, so do what you can to mitigate them. Otherwise, enjoy your tuff-bote. e German battleship armour is stupid complicated and the in-port armour viewer does NOT help you see everything that's important -- most notably the angles and thickness of turtleback armour but all of that other stuff I mentioned too. Note how high Pommern's citadel sits and how little of her turtleback dips beneath the water's surface -- only the corners submerge and only just. VERDICT: Top marks. Agility Top Speed: 31 knots Turning Radius: 940m Rudder Shift Time: 17.3 seconds 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 3.8º/s at 23.3 knots With three exceptions (and only one of them notable), tier IX battleship agility sucks inflamed, red monkey-butts. I'd call Pommern's agility a disaster but Minnesota exists, so that would feel like a misplaced superlative. Instead I'll just describe Pommern's agility as "not good". She has so little going for her here. I mean, at least she has a decent top speed of 31 knots. She also doesn't out turn her turrets, so there's that too. After that, though, everything goes the way of Harambe. Her turning radius is a travesty. Her rudder shift time is upsetting. Her rate of turn is bad though admittedly better than some of her contemporaries. However if you think that's worth celebrating then I'm worried you might also have a strange oral fascination with inflamed baboon posteriors. The best thing that could be said about Pommern's agility is that you really don't need this ship to do more than travel in a straight line most of the time. You don't need pants for the victory dance... ♫ VERDICT: Awful. The only reasonable part about her is her speed. Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: 7 explosions for 1,470 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.2km. Long Ranged (up to 5.2km): 158dps at 75% accuracy Short Ranged (up to 3.0km): 466dps at 70% accuracy Bigpitz is an HP pinata for enemy carriers (as are most battleships, frankly). While she does spit out a welcome amount of flak, that's hoping that enemy carrier players will oblige you by flying their planes into one of those blasts. Her AA DPS is largely centred around personal defence, being short-ranged and intense only within her closest aura. The best she can hope to do is make attack runs against her expensive -- shooting down planes only after they've dropped. Given her large size and horrible handling, she's such a tempting target for CV drops -- be it with bombs, rockets or torpedoes. AP bombs hurt. HE bombs and rockets stack those fires she's so often poorly specialized to handle and her enormous broadside makes her an easy mark for full spreads of torpedoes. Keep close to your allies to make yourself an unappealing target. Accuracy values greatly reduce the impressive baseline sustained AA DPS values listed in port. The above values have been modified by accuracy and demonstrates the numbers you're more likely to see before aircraft armour is accounted for. VERDICT: It's open season on your hit points. Refrigerator Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 17.28km / 13.58km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 12.81km / 10.38km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 16km Maximum Firing Range: Between 21.34km and 24.75km Well this is all just an embarrassing bucket of fail. Her surface and aerial detection are just plain bad. You're not hiding this ship. While there is an argument to "not bother", particularly when it comes to the expensive investment of skills like Concealment Expert (which could be better spent on Fire Prevention or something to boost her secondaries), the Concealment System Modification 1 upgrade is still worthwhile if only to add further disruption to enemy gunnery. Furthermore, with the large maps and longer engagement ranges in higher tiered matches, it's not that hard to get outside of 14km of enemy ships -- at least in the early minutes of the game. This can be life saving if Pommern comes under focus-fire from HE spamming ships. Still, the best way to keep her safe is arguably to use an island to break contact or at least to frustrate incoming fire. Given her crappy agility and size this is much easier said than done. You an also pull off fun tricks like parking in friendly smoke and keeping her main battery guns silent and just letting your secondaries go hog-wild. Do mind the inevitable wall of torpedoes, though. Truly, the best thing about Pommern is that she gets access to Hydroacoustic Search. The only other German battleship that gets both torpedoes and hydro is Odin, so this is pretty noteworthy. Still, having Hydoracoustic Search isn't enough to keep Pommern safe if she's stationary -- Pommern already needs to be moving to dodge anything. She doesn't have enough acceleration or agility at low speeds to get out of the way of incoming threats unless she's already moving at a fair clip. You can use this consumable offensively, which is super fun to pull off on the rare occasions where it's relevant. Do mind the retalitory fish from whatever you dug out of their smoke clouds, though. VERDICT: Terrible, generally. Hydro is nice, though. Final Evaluation If I'm terribly honest, Pommern didn't wow me. It's not that I don't think she's a good or fun ship, it's just that she treads familiar ground. Tirpitz, Scharnhorst and Odin all echo Pommern's general design principles. "Bigpitz" describes her well. She's an improved, up-tiered Tirpitz. This didn't guarantee Pommern would be good, mind you -- Wargaming has mishandled such projects before (California comes to mind). But Pommern didn't stray from the established formula too much. The craziest thing about her is the inaccuracy of her guns and even that's a pretty safe measure given that she has twelve of them. I enjoyed Tirpitz, Scharnhorst and Odin, so Pommern is comfortably familiar for me. She's about as safe of a tier IX premium as Wargaming could hope to design. For Wargaming, this is doubly important given the number of "failed state" premiums there are at tier IX. The list is hella long: Missouri, Musashi, Kronshtadt, Jean Bart, Benham have all been retired with Alaska and Georgia set to join them in the new year. Seven of the fifteen tier IX premiums released so far have been or are slated to be retired with two (Black & Neustrashimy) still MIA with fates undisclosed. Pommern and the upcoming Hizen have some pretty big boots to fill with all of those absentee premiums. Pommern has to be good but she's not allowed being too good lest she become too popular and get the axe as well. I'm not trying to instill a sense of panic-buying in anyone, but I do fear that given the competency of this ship's design, she may end up being a little well liked by the masses and end up retired herself. Time will tell, I suppose. Overall, I give Pommern good marks. She performs exactly as advertised and she's different enough to be fun and novel. Good work, Wargaming. It's too bad for them that this year will be remembered for civilization threatening to collapse and not for the year that Wargaming let German ships get good. They've knocked out quite a few good hits under the German flag. Maybe that's just a sign of the Apocalypse. Thank you for reading! 
  8. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review - Champagne

    The following is a review of Champagne, the tier VIII French premium battleship. This ship was provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes at no cost to myself; I did not pay to get access to this ship. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as of patch 0.10.3. Please be aware that her performance may change in the future. Behold the Imperator NIkolai I of the French battleship line. Champagne has been on sale all of twice. Form June 26th to July 10th, 2020 and from October 10th until 16th, 2020. She has been locked in the vault since then, available only through lucky drops through Supercontainers. Like Enterprise before her, Champagne's sale window has been exceedingly brief which begs the question if she has been removed for over-performing or not. Well, according to my contacts at Wargaming she has neither been removed nor is she over-performing. Like the abomination known as Cheshire, she simply is not put on sale very often. Performance not-withstanding, the argument has been made that she's the worst thing in the history of ever and not good for the game. Let's go into why this ship (and others like her) earn so much ire... Summary: A long-range sniper armed with six, quick firing 406mm guns that have improved accuracy and penetration. The ship itself has weakened structural armour and survivability over other tier VIII battleships. PROS Very long ranged with a 25.02km base reach. Excellent gunnery accuracy over distance using battlecruiser dispersion and 2.0 sigma Increased rate of fire with a 28.6 second reload. Ridiculous levels of AP penetration. Very high fire chance per shell at 49% per hit. Good gun handling with a 6º/s turret rotation rate. Very fast and very agile, handling more like a fat heavy cruiser than a battleship. CONS Small hit point pool for a tier VIII battleship. Very thin belt at only 240mm. Thin overall structural plate with 32mm upper hull and deck and only 25mm on her bow and stern (!). Bad forward fire angles. Small main battery with poor overall DPM potential. Crappy anti-aircraft firepower. One fewer charges of her Repair Party than most battleships. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / CASUAL / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / MODERATE / High / Extreme Champagne's game play is pretty comfortable for an inexperienced player provided they can steer away from any impulse to move up to the front lines. If said new-fish is more inclined to sit back and shoot from the A-line, then Champagne will reward them with some semi-reliable damage. Neat! I'd give her a Simple rating but she's too darned fragile and long-range gunnery does take some getting used to. Once you learn to play keep away and can lead a target comfortably? You're good to go. High-end game play with Champagne largely comes down to positioning, situational awareness and target selection. Yes, you could conceivably push up and take a cap or brawl or do all of the other loser-stuff that will most-likely get anyone but a pogchamp clobbered. There's the possibility of that. However, it's so unnecessary to get the most out of this ship. Sit back. Load AP. Farm damage. You're good to go. Options Consumables There is a lot of weirdness to Champagne and her consumables are no exception. Her Damage Control Party is standard for a French battleship. It comes with unlimited charges and an 80 second reset timer. It removes critical effects, extinguishes fires and repairs floods instantly for 15 seconds. Her Repair Party has one fewer charge than you would normally expect for a French battleship, allowing for three uses instead of the usual four. Otherwise, it behaves as expected, queuing 10% of citadel damage, 50% of penetration damage and 100% of everything else. It will heal back up to 14% of her health over 28 seconds and it has an 80 second reset timer. In her third slot, you have the choice between a Spotter Aircraft and a Catapult Fighter. The former comes with four charges, increases her main battery range by 20% (up to 30.02km!) for 100 seconds and has a 240 second reset timer. The latter launches three fighters which stay on station, orbiting the ship at a range of 3km for 60 seconds. It comes with three charges and has a 90 second reset timer. Her Engine Boost consumable provides an 8% speed increase (up to a maximum of 38.5 knots with this consumable and a Sierra Mike signal) for 180 seconds. It has a 120 second reset timer and comes with three charges. Upgrades Champagne's upgrades provide no surprises. Start with Main Armaments Modification 1. Like other French battleships with only a pair of turrets, you cannot afford to lose either one. Next up, you'll want the special upgrade Engine Boost Modification 1. This will increase the action time of her Engine Boost from 180 seconds to 234 seconds (!). It can be purchased for 17,000 from the Armory. If you can't afford that, then default to Damage Control System Modification 1. Aiming Systems Modification 1 is the only upgrade worth considering in slot three. You have a choice in slot four, with either being decent. Damage Control System Modification 2 will help mitigate fire damage. Though Champagne outranges most cruisers, she still has to contend with battleship HE spam so this is still a good idea. Alternatively, you can Just Dodge™ by taking Steering Gears Modification 1, though be warned, this won't make her cruiser-nimble and dodging only really works at very very long engagement distances. Finally, finish things off with Concealment System Modification 1. Commander Skills Well, Dead Eye is on it's way out. Champagne's nominal build included it. When it gets axed, you're probably best served just sticking to the same ol' survivability build you run on most of your French battleships anyway. This said, there's a very strong case to be made for a specialized Champagne captain that forgoes optimized fire mitigation to instead take Super Heavy AP Shells for that extra bit of long-range farming punch. Camouflage Champagne has only has access to Type 10 Camouflage, providing the usual bonuses for a tier VIII battleship: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -10% to post-battle service costs. +50% experience earned. Champagne's default camo is the darker of the two. The lighter alternative palette can be unlocked by completing the appropriate section of the Legion of Honour collection. Firepower Main Battery: Six 406mm guns in 2x3 turrets with one mounted fore and the other aft. Secondary Battery: Nine 152mm rifles in 3x3 turrets mounted down the centreline, twenty-four 100mm rifles in 12x2 turrets with six to a side. If you're going to make a good sniper out of a battleship, you need the appropriate toolkit. While just about any battleship with Dead Eye could sit on the back line and huck spitballs vaguely in the direction of the enemy at maximum range, to make this kind of gunnery consistent you have to be a Royal Navy battleship spamming HE (lul). To use real ammo that people won't whine about, you're going to need to have a lot of special traits to make it effective. Wargaming could have padded Champagne's gunnery by delving into their Box o' Gimmicks™ and fished out some consumables to boost her performance, but instead they went with altering her gunnery stats directly. They did this in three ways: She has improved accuracy. Her AP shell penetration is phenomenal for its calibre. Champagne has excellent range. She is purpose built for sitting on the back line and giving Hell to anything that isn't perfectly angled that falls under her crosshairs (and some targets can't angle against her at all). A Thunderous Salute This is a standard dispersion test with 180 AP shells fired at 15km at a stationary Fuso bot that had no camouflage. Shots are coming in from right to left with the Fuso effectively bow tanking. Champagne was using the Aiming System Modification 1 upgrade but not Dead Eye. And this is with Dead Eye and ASM1. Champagne seemed purpose built to take advantage of it. Or maybe that was just coincidence. It was ships like her and Thunderer that helped get this skill axed. The first piece of the Champagne sniper-puzzle is her dispersion. She joins the ranks of Georgia and Thunderer as a battleship using battlecruiser dispersion, a vast improvement over the dispersion used by the French battleship line. Champagne combines this with 2.0 sigma, clustering a bigger majority of her shells towards the centre of her aiming circle. This is an improvement over even Georgia's 1.8 sigma and Thunderer's 1.9 sigma, making her one of the most accurate battleships at long-range in the game (it's not Slava-good, but she'll get her own review and a deep-dive on vertical dispersion eventually). What is perhaps most important is that Champagne's vertical dispersion (the overshooting and undershooting of a target) is much reduced over comparable French battleships. Thus, for a battleship, her accuracy is downright reliable. Aim well, you'll get hits. However there's a double edged sword here. Aim poorly and you'll get nothing from the one-two combination of Champagne's small number of guns and the lack of scatter from her shells. Krupp is Balans™ Champagne still manages 545mm worth of penetration at 20km, making her a threat to most battleship citadels inside of her nominal range. Champagne has some of the highest AP penetration in the game for 406mm guns. At her nominal maximum range, she still manages around 500mm worth of penetration, making her fully capable of landing citadel hits against most battleships even at this considerable distance. At anything less than that and ANY battleship flashing their sides is just asking to get punished. Champagne's phenomenal AP penetration comes from a combination of factors, including a very high muzzle velocity for a battleship. But more to the point, she has a very high Krupp rating on her shells, giving her around 20% more penetration than expected at any given range. These shells are purpose built to punish battleship belt armour and at medium to close ranges, even angling isn't proof against their bite. If the shells don't ricochet, they have enough energy to bore clean through even the thickest of plate. Against more lightly armoured targets, Champagne inherits a lot of the same problems as Roma had. There's just too much speed and energy in her shells for her fuses to arm properly while still inside a cruiser. For example, to properly fuse inside a broadsiding Baltimore (152mm belt), Champagne must be at least 12km distant. For a broadsiding Cleveland-class cruiser, this range increases to in excess of 16km. The only way around this is to either dunk the shells into the water just in front of the target or to hit them while they're angled. Thankfully, Champagne's 406mm gun calibre gives her the ability to overmatch up to 28mm of armour, more than enough to punch through the extremities of any of the cruisers she faces. This isn't quite enough to best the 30mm deck and upper hull armour found on many of these ships, so it's not like it's idiot proof. The better solution is just to fire at a distance. And Champagne loves to fire at a distance. No Plunging Fire Champagne has a 25km range base. If you elect to use her Spotter Aircraft (and you SHOULD), then this increases to a whopping 30km for a short period of time. At this distance, Champagne has similar dispersion to a British, American or German battleship at 24km and still packs approximately 450mm worth of penetration (it's not quite guaranteed citadel hit range but you should still be able to land some penetrations). Champagne's shell fall angle never gets steep enough where deck penetrations is possible beyond overmatching, so you can ignore that. Sum of her Parts These three elements combine to make Champagne one of the best snipers using AP shells in the game, at least in terms of individual hits. Ignoring Slava (which is, for all intents and purposes, a Stalinium-built up-tiered improvement over Champagne), there are still other ships which do what Champagne does. But most of these are higher tiered ... and British. Champagne is to AP spam what Conqueror is to HE spam; it's easy and it chalks up an unreasonable amount of damage for so little effort all while largely keeping the ship out of harm's way. While other AP throwers have to worry about penetration (and thus engagement distances), Champagne is almost always in range and she's almost always going to be able to penetrate (if not land citadel hits). She sits so far back that the only real return fire you have to worry about comes from American battleships or vessels two tiers higher. Not only is Champagne's gunnery easy, it's stupidly safe too. Champagne has crappy DPM, what with having only six 406mm guns and nearly a 30 second reload. But don't let that fool you. As ever, there's more to the story than just DPM potential. It's too damn easy to fall into the trap of thinking that Champagne's six-guns are big liability but they really aren't. She arguably lands just as many hits as her contemporaries with fewer guns. However, her individual hits are often meatier because she's capable of (and quite likely to) land citadel AP citadel hits. The only thing that compares to the ease of her damage output are (say it with me one more time:) Royal Navy battleships slinging HE at other battleships. Champagne's damage totals are easily drawn from a larger pool of targets, as she can pick damage up from cruisers just as readily, so long as they're picked off at a distance. Given the ease at which this ship maintains said distance and her comfortable kiting angles, this is a non-issue. Champagne has very comfortable turret traverse rates of 6º/s. Her rearward arcs are much better than her forward arcs, so taking up a kiting position is preferred for maximizing firepower and defence. Summary Why use HE and who cares about her secondaries? Champagne makes sniping with AP fun. Champagne makes sniping with AP easy. Champagne can punish any ship that's not perfectly angled against her. A North Carolina angled at 55º takes a magazine citadel hit from Champagne at a range of 23.4km. This shot bothered me so much, I sent the replay into Wargaming to have them confirm the shot details. This is the kind of crap Champagne pulls off. Durability Hit Points: 52,600 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 25mm / 19mm / 32mm / 32mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 32mm anti-torpedo bulge + 240mm belt + 30mm turtleback + 50mm citadel wall. Torpedo Damage Reduction: 28%  Ships marked with an asterix (*) have re-skinned clones not listed on this chart. Champagne has Odin levels of health with Soviet battleship levels of healing. Both suck and not in the fun, sexy way. In order to apply BALANS™ to Champagne's gunnery performance, Wargaming took lessons learned from my firstborn child, HMS Thunderer, and whacked Champagne's duriability hard over the head with the nerf-bat (my second is due any day now -- stay tuned). In order to shrivel up her Gascogne-style defences, they had a four-point plan of attack. Limit the size of her hit point pool. Reduce the efficacy of her Repair Party. Shave off 25% of her belt armour and make it possible for large calibre AP shells to overmatch her turtleback. Give her heavy-cruiser structural plate on her extremities. Champagne's hit point pool wouldn't be out of place at tier VI. Her lower hit point pool means that she doesn't heal as much as other battleships but oh, it gets worse: she has one fewer charges of her Repair Party so she effectively has a smaller potential hit point pool than a lot of tier V battleships (seriously, she has less effective health than USS Texas and only slightly more than HMS Iron Duke). This has little to no bearing on her ability to heal back fires, rams and floods but when it comes to penetration damage, it takes fewer hits to sink Champagne than any of her contemporaries to a hilarious degree. Going a step further, her reduced armour and citadel protection is designed to make these damaging hits more frequent. Her 25mm extremity armour makes her vulnerable to overmatching 380mm AP shells, but it also opens the door for larger areas for destroyer and cruiser calibre HE to snatch up some of Champagne's hit points. Furthermore, her belt protection is ridiculously bad at only 240mm and her citadel protection is never any better than a combined total of 352mm (though it's as low as 332mm). While the different angles present, the effective thickness is higher than this -- for example, a North Carolina shell tossed at 18km has roughly an 18º shell fall angle. Accounting for the 6º of normalization, a perfectly broadside Champagne's 332mm combined armour over her machine spaces increases to a whopping 352mm or so. Yeah, the angles of her armour aren't really that effective. Champagne's armour protection scheme is that of a thoroughbred battlecruiser. Her citadel roof lies one level down, matching the top of the 355mm transverse bulkhead. It's armour thickness is 40mm. The root of her barbettes is 85mm thick. Champagne's crappy durability balances her the same way Asashio's inability to torpedo destroyers and cruisers balances her: It doesn't. Asashio doesn't have to engage cruisers and destroyers in order to be effective and Champagne doesn't have to expose herself to enemy fire in order to hoover up big damage. So none of this really matters because Champagne is so long ranged that she's not really going to take all of that much hurting unless you put her in harm's way. And there's no need to put her in harm's way. VERDICT: Squishy but it doesn't really matter. Agility Top Speed: 34 knots Turning Radius: 850m 7Rudder Shift Time: 15.5 seconds 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 4.7º/s at 25.4 knots The other reason you don't need to put Champagne in harm's way is that it's so gosh-darned easy to play keep-away. Her top speed of 34 knots is faster than a number of tier VIII cruisers and that's before you account for her access to her Engine Boost consumable. Seriously, Champagne is faster than Baltimore, Cleveland, Montpelier, Wichita, Anchorage, Chapayev, Tallinn, Mikhail Kutuzov, Admiral Hipper, Prinz Eugen, Mainz, Edinburg, Albemarle, Cheshire, Belfast '43, Irian, Wukong and Charles Martel. And those are just the tier VIII cruisers. It's a shorter list once you account for all of the other cruisers in her matchmaking spread and you need to add on a handful of destroyers besides. Champagne is fast. Anyone that's paid attention to my semi-coherent rants and explanations about warship rates of turn, speed is the name of the game. Tight turning radii are great and all, but without the speed to navigate those turning circles, it's all for naught. Champagne's high speed means that she has the best rate of turn of any of the tier VIII battleships, even better than the previous SoDak front-runners, Alabama and Massachusetts. It's a good thing her turret traverse rates are so good so she doesn't out-turn her turrets. It would be a mistake to think that Champagne's speed and agility allows her to Just Dodge™ the way a cruiser or destroyer can. She can't make torpedoes whiffa yu . She's not that nimble. However, put enough distance between Champagne and whatever is shooting back at her and yes, between varying throttle and course, you can throw off a lot of steel and high explosive thrown her way. This is where that 25km range and excellent penetration on her main guns once again comes into play. Champagne can comfortably operate 20km distance from targets, dealing reliable damage and this just so happens to put her far enough away that her tush-wiggle becomes good enough to avoid shells coming back. This in turn mitigates the deficiencies of her armour protection, largely making it a non-issue. And I remind you, her rearward fire angles are very good. She's purpose built for playing keep-away. Champagne has the best agility of any of the tier VIII battleships and her on-demand Engine Boost consumable makes it even more pronounced. With a Sierra Mike signal and her Engine Boost active, Champagne's rate of turn spikes at 4.8º/s but increases her turning circle to a 900m radius. VERDICT: The best at her tier (and the best at tiers VII, IX and X too). Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: 5+1 explosions for 1,260 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.8km. Long Ranged (up to 5.8km): 140dps at 75% accuracy Medium Ranged (up to 3km): 52.5dps at 75% accuracy Short Ranged (up to 2.5km): 112dps at 70% accuracy There's only one real problem with Champagne's AA defence and that's where it comes to the DPS totals from her medium and short-range mounts. She has decent long-range fire. She also spits out a decent number of flak clouds (admittedly, these don't hit as hard as her contemporaries, but whatever). So in a big ol' cuddle puddle of mutually supporting AA fire, she pulls her weight, adding some good long-range damage. It's only when planes take a particular interest in her (or if they perform a fly-over) that she doesn't have the teeth to do more than mildly inconvenience a carrier. This is a weakness to be sure, but to bring up my earlier comparison, Asashio also has crappy AA firepower and that's not really a drawback for something that's so far away from the action. Sure, if Champagne is the only target on a given flank where a CV is operating, she's going to get dropped on. But if she's at the back of the pack, is it worth taking the extra fly-time to dunk on her? Maybe. Maybe not. In the end, I don't think it really matters. Few battleships are a significant enough obstacle to bring tier VIII and X carriers pause and tier VI carriers (generally) have to respect all higher tiered AA. Champagne's AA power (third from the bottom) is all kinds of crappy which is distinctly out of character for the high-tier French battleships. VERDICT: Bad, but that's okay. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 16.38km / 12.87km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 11.01km / 8.92km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 15.82km Maximum Firing Range: Between 25.02km and 30.02km Champagne's biggest weakness is that her game play is reliant upon other people doing the spotting for her. Were Champagne ever forced to do the spotting herself? Well, then things like her armour or hit point deficits might mean something. But as it is, you're all but guaranteed to have someone able to light something up for Champagne to shoot at. And odds are, there will either be someone closer to the target for them to shoot at or Champagne will be so far back that she can make it exceedingly difficult to hit her. It's really only in very close games or in losing matches where Champagne's vulnerabilities owing to reliance on friendlies doing the spotting really come into play. The hope is that she's done enough damage and mauled her opponents to such a degree that this should be a non-issue. Similarly, she is fast enough to redeploy to hide behind someone else's skirts if needs be; again, taking the onus away from her to detect her own targets. Overall? It's not terrible. VERDICT: It's not terrible. Maybe it should have been. Final Evaluation Champagne's gameplay in a nutshell. It took a long time for Wargaming to realise their concept of a sniper battleship. The final iterations as evidenced by Florida, Slava and Champagne, have three elements in common: Very long range. Improved gunnery. Reduced survivability. Kinda. See, there are technically four of these sniper-battleships in World of Warships but HMS Thunderer did as HMS Thunderer does and ruined everything for everyone (and I could NOT be more proud). While my accidental British love-child has reduced survivability compared to Conqueror, it's nowhere near nerfed enough to matter. Ironically, I still don't think Wargaming has quite made these sniper fragile enough, but here we are. I still personally feel that the original version of Duke of York with no heals whatsoever is the way to go but I am not being listened to, otherwise we would have seen this on HMCS Yukon. But enough of my dream-botes. Sniper-battleships in World of Warships are as effective, compelling and healthy for the game as the Royal Navy battleships and aircraft carriers. They're about as fun too. It's HILARIOUS when you're the one dropping bombs on the enemy but it's Fun and Engaging™ when you're on the receiving end (please note the sarcasm). Yes, there's skill involved with playing Champagne well. Yes, you have to pick your targets. Yes, positioning matters. Yes, you can suck at it and do poorly. However, sniping in a battleship is World of Warships comfort-food: It's simple, straight forward and easy game play that gives you the euphoria of seeing big numbers and citadel ribbons appearing up on your screen. While playing Champagne I couldn't help but think back to when I was seeing how easy it was to farm Witherer medals with Conqueror. It was initially shocking at just how achieveable it was. Champagne reminds me a lot of that. She's not an "I win!" button, but barring RNGeebus saying "very no", getting good a good damage farm going was all but guaranteed, win or lose. My contact at Wargaming have told me that Champagne isn't over-performing. I don't know what their numbers are looking like, but from third party sites, Champagne is one of the highest damage dealers at tier VIII right now. Her bias is going to come from sniping other battleships, so it's to be expected, however unlike Asashio who shares this same target preference, Champagne can (and does!) pick on cruisers and other ship types too. So is Champagne good? Sure. She gets big numbers. Like playing a sniper in a First-Person Shooter, you get to feel like a professional badass, clicking on heads so long as your team's front lines hold up. If you can farm damage fast enough, it can turn games around. But big numbers in of themselves don't win games. I keep coming back to comparing Champagne to the Royal Navy battleships and there's a reason for it. The damage numbers these ship generate is disproportionate to their win rates. You don't play Champagne to win. You play her to farm damage. To me, she proves that battleship HE spam isn't cancerous so much as damage farming itself is. Champagne is not a team-player. She is a very selfish boat and that's why I keep coming back to the British BBs. She's great at what she does but not great for your team and arguably not good for the game either. With that in mind, she's totally a safe purchase if this kind of game play appeals. As for me? I'm emotionally obligated to stick with Thunderer. Remember, if it's not Champagne, then it's sparkling white cancer.
  9. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review - Anchorage

    The following is a quick review of Anchorage, the tier VIII American heavy cruiser. This ship was provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes. I did not have to pay for it (though I did spend time grinding it out after-the-fact). To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this article are current as of patch 0.9.10. Please be aware she may change in the future. And now for something completely different. This is going to be a shot-review of Anchorage rather than an exhaustive one, greatly sped up thanks to being able to piggy back some of the graphics I did for Belfast '43. Anchorage is one of those ships that looked hella-interesting when announced but she didn't pan out. To this end, I'm glad that a lot of players earned her at a discount. I don't think she's really worth the full asking price (spoilers) but that's mostly owing to her slow rate of fire and wonky consumable options. Anyway, here is my review of ship named after the capital city of wannabe-Alberta. Quick Summary: An American heavy cruiser with smoke and torpedoes! PROS: 27mm external armour, preventing overmatch of up to 381mm AP rounds. Respectable anti-torpedo protection. Has "American Piercing" AP shells with improved auto-ricochet angles. Big alpha strikes from individual volleys. Good fire angles on her main battery. Strong torpedoes with a 66kt speed, 10.5km range and over 19k damage per hit. Has access to a Smoke Generator with increased emission time. CONS: Only a modest gun range of 15.6km. Long, 15.5s reload which hurts her DPM and fire setting. Slow gun traverse of 6º/s. Like, ew. Bad torpedo firing angles, making them awkward to use. A total chungus with a modest top speed but horrible handling. Terrible anti-aircraft firepower. Large surface detection radius when firing in smoke. Spartan consumable options. Overview Skill Floor: SIMPLE / Casual / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Difficult Anchorage is a dirt simple ship to use. Park in smoke. Select HE shells. Cycle guns and hoover up damage. Even a complete novice can score some respectable damage and maybe even shark a kill this way. Compared to other cruisers, this is pure easy mode, even if it's not terribly efficient. And that's really Anchorage's flaw. She's not efficient. Her long reload really holds back her carry potential, but there are other issues too. She's nearly blind which is kind of a shocker for an American cruiser. She's almost entirely reliant on having team mates spot for her whether she's parking in smoke or behind an island. This hurts her team-play contribution as it largely relegates her to just dealing damage and she's not particularly good at that. Yes, her alpha strikes are nice but that sustained output just isn't there. Similarly, her short range prevents her from kiting very effectively which is a shame because she has some nice fire angles. Overall, she's just not a carry-boat. Options Anchorage's consumables define her as much as her painfully long main battery reload (more on that later). It's not that her consumables themselves are odd, it's the combination of how they're allotted and which one she gets access to. You'll see what I mean: Consumables Anchorage starts off normal with a standard cruiser Damage Control Party. This has unlimited charges, a 5 second active period and a 60 second reset timer. Her second slot is a tangled mess. By default, she has a Catapult Fighter. This deploys 4 fighters which orbit 3km around the ship for 60 seconds. It starts with 3 charges and a 90 second reset timer. This can be swapped out for a Spotting Aircraft. Active for 100s, it increases Anchorage's range up to 18.72km. It starts with 4 charges and has a 240 second reset timer. What's weird is that this slot also competes for her Hydroacoustic Search. Yes, really. Other than this weirdness, this consumable is normal for a tier VIII cruiser with a 3.5km torpedo detection range and a 5km ship detection range. It's active for 100 seconds with a 120 second reset timer. It starts with three charges. Finally, there's the craziness of giving a heavy cruiser a Smoke Generator. It generates smoke for 30 seconds with each smoke cloud lasting for 104 seconds. It has a 160s reset timer and it starts with three charges. Upgrades Outside of destroyers, my recommendation for the first slot in most ships is dirt simple: take Main Armaments Modification 1 and be done with it. However, this is a case for Anchorage to take the oft maligned Spotting Aircraft Modification 1 special upgrade instead. At a cost of 17,000 from the Armory, this increases the duration of her consumable from 100s to 130s -- synching it up its duration almost perfectly with the combined emission and dissipation time of her Smoke Generator. This of course hinges on not taking Hydroacoustic Search in her second consumable slot. Speaking of her Hydroacoustic Search, I default to recommending Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 in slot 2 if you're not going to pull off that Spotting Aircraft combo in slot 1. Again, you're looking at a 17,000 cost from the Armory to equip this. If you can't or if you won't, take Engine Room Protection instead. Aiming Systems Modification 1 is (still) the optimal choice for slot 3. Because you're going to be parking in smoke or behind islands, Propulsion System Modification 1 is optimal in slot 4. If you prefer to fire from open water, you may take Steering Gears Modification 1 instead. Finally, Concealment System Modification 1 is still (disappointingly) optimal in slot 5. Captain Skills Anchorage doesn't reinvent the wheel. You can use whatever American heavy cruiser captain you're currently training or using and get solid results. She's not a very hungry ship when it comes to getting improved performance from her skills. For example, here's a quick throw-away build. Pick one of the tier 1 skills in green, then grab the ones in yellow. Perfect? No. Good enough? You betcha. Camouflage Anchorage has two camouflage options and they both share the same statistics, making them simple cosmetic swaps: 3% reduction to surface detection. 4% increase to enemy dispersion. 10% reduction to service costs. 50% increase to experience earned. Anchorage's Type 10 camouflage. You can unlock a palette swap for it. Anchorage's "National" camouflage. Firepower Main Battery: Twelve 203mm/55 guns in 4x3 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration. Secondary Battery: Eight 127mm/38 guns in 2x2 turrets with one mounted fore and aft and 4x1 in open-air mounts with two to each side. Torpedoes: Eight tubes in 2x4 launchers with one mounted to each side in the hull adjacent to the rear funnel. If it weren't for that reload, these guns would be great. That sounds like my complaint of Vermont. The more I played Anchorage, the more her firepower reminded me of Mogami, the Japanese tier VIII heavy cruiser. I don't mean the cool, fun Mogami. I mean the far more pedestrian 203mm armed variant that's overshadowed by it's stock 155mm guns. This is a bit unfair of a comparison to Anchorage because her weapon systems are a lot of fun -- or they would be if her guns weren't shackled to a 15.5 second reload. That's honestly their biggest drawback despite otherwise having a lot of cool features. Like Mogami, individual salvos, be it from Anchorage's guns or her torpedoes, are super satisfying. You just don't shoot often enough. But here's some of the reasons I generally like Anchorage's weapon systems: Her torpedoes are excellent. Their 66 knot top speed is amazing for a cruiser-launched fish and their individual hits are super-meaty. They're even beefier than IJN cruiser-launched torpedoes, surpassing those tossed by Mogami and Atago which is saying something. They even have more reach, albeit a mere 500m more for a 10.5km range. She's not quite able to launch them from stealth but that's close enough. Their only real downside is their horrible launch angles which forces you to give up a full broadside to send them off. She has American piercing shells. Anchorage's AP rounds enjoy the improved auto-ricochet angles of other American heavy cruisers. Their ricochet chance starts at 60º (rather than 45º) and doesn't become guaranteed until 67.5º (rather than 60º). They have good penetration for an AP round. The only downside is that these are New Orleans and Wichita's AP rounds, not the super-heavy versions found on Baltimore -- so they're not the god-tier version, just the good version. Her alpha strike from her individual broadsides is excellent. With twelve guns, the punch she delivers per salvo is sizable. Compare her HE penetrating broadside of up to 11,088 damage compared to Baltimore's 8,316. She even comes off better when compared to the Japanese heavy cruisers with their improved-damage HE shells. They only manage 10,890 damage per broadside ("only", she says -- that's still chunky). Slap a lolibote with that and they'll feel it. She has great fire angles. She can bring all four turrets onto a target 30º off her bow and 31º off her stern. Beauty. Her gun traverse sucks butts, but whatever. So there's a lot of good here. It's just unfortunate that it's all locked behind that painful main battery reload or those poor fire angles on her fish. Anchorage's good AP shells help pad her numbers here despite her poor rate of fire. Approximate penetration values of Anchorage (and New Orleans & Wichita's) penetration. American HE shells are nothing special though. Even with twelve guns Anchorage barely keeps ahead of Atago's 10-gun DPM despite having more guns and half a second faster reload. Her fire setting is pretty average for a tier VIII heavy cruiser, so that's a plus. Anchorage has "better than Benham" torpedoes. They're faster. They hit harder. They reload just as quickly. That's pretty impressive. It's just a shame they have limited arcs and they're not mounted on a ship that could take better advantage of them. So don't forget about these. Use them when you can because their stats are damn good. VERDICT: Almost excellent, but gutted so badly by that long reload that it crashes and burns. Defence Hit Points: 41,800 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 27mm / 16mm / 27mm / 27mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 152mm belt Torpedo Damage Reduction: 16% Anchorage's turret faces have some nice 203mm armour plate on them. Anchorage is a normal American heavy cruiser. This comes with some pretty nice perks in the form of being blanketted in 27mm worth of plate. 27mm is one of those key armour thresholds that have artificial importance due to the shell penetration mechanics in the game. 381mm AP shells and smaller cannot overmatch 27mm worth of steel. Furthermore, tier VII and lower 152mm HE rounds don't have enough base penetration to damage it without the Inertial Fuse for HE Shells (IFHE) skill. Finally, 120mm HE rounds (found on many British-derived destroyers) cannot penetrate it either even with IFHE. This opens up the opportunity to pull of some pretty fun shenanigans provided your facing off against the correct opponent. Anchorage can bow-in and joust against 381mm-armed battleships and wreck 'em with her fish... provided they don't blow out her citadel with AP rounds as you cross alongside one another -- make sure you bait those shots first! This is by no means guaranteed outside of PVE battles, but it's nice to have. She's otherwise unremarkable for a heavy cruiser. She doesn't have a lot of hit points, but she's not squishy in that regard either. She doesn't have any extra thick armour plates on her deck or any hidden geometries to wreak havoc on internal AP ballsitics. If you expose her broadside, you will take citadel hits -- especially through her machine spaces where her citadel pokes up over the waterline. She's vulnerable to AP bombs owing to her 76mm citadel roof. She does have some respectable anti-torpedo protection for a cruiser, namely because she actually has anti-torpedo protection. Many cruisers don't. Anchorage's longevity is thus linked to her ability to dodge, hide behind islands or use her smoke to extend her survivability. Trading in open water is a bad idea, but that's normal for any cruiser -- not just Anchorage. Pretty uninspiring but her smoke should (in theory) make her modest hit point total last longer. VERDICT: Hella normal. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Agility Top Speed: 33kts Turning Radius: 800m Rudder Shift Time: 11.2s 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 5.1º/s at 26.4kts There's not a whole lot to say here. Anchorage's handling is terrible. She has a large turning radius. She's not especially fast. Given her Smoke Generator, you're likely going to want to install Propulsion Modification 1 instead of Steering Gears Modification 1, so her rudder shift time feels chunky too. I don't have anything nice to say about her handling. Given her slow gun traverse, this feels even more pronounced as you'll be tempted to use her rudder to bring guns to bear faster which will just open up her squishy sides to getting citadelled. Poor marks all around. VERDICT: Terribad. She handles like a Soviet cruiser but at least those ships are usually high-speed. Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: 3+1 explosions for 1,470 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.8km. Long Ranged (up to 5.8km): 87.5dps at 90% accuracy (78.8dps) Short Ranged (up to 2.4km): 213.5dps at 85% accuracy (181.5dps) Again, I don't have any nice things to say here, so forgive me while I grouch a bit at the state of Anchorage's AA firepower. Why was her Catapult Fighter equipped to the same slot as her Hydroacoustic Search? I am never going to take her fighter because of this which only increases her AA defence issues. While it's nice that she has a respectable amount of AA firepower in her 5.8km batteries, her supporting batteries are too short ranged to be anything other than 'vengeance weapons' -- you know, the kind that might shoot down a plane after the CV has finished dropping. This is a really poor showing. For such a large, cumbersome ship, she's meat on the table for carriers. Yikes. Are we sure this ship is American? VERDICT: Japanese-cruiser levels of bad. Refrigerator Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 13.62km / 10.7km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 8.02km/6.5km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 7.98km Maximum Firing Range: 15.6km to 18.72km with her Spotter Aircraft. So this is arguably Anchorage's strongest area after her firepower and we've already established that her firepower is a bit hit and miss (get it?). Concealment wise, she's decent. She has average surface detection for a tier VIII cruiser, so there's nothing to get excited about there. I'll be honest, this surprises me given the size of the ship, but I'll take it. Her aerial detection is a bit on the large size, but again it's nothing unmanageable or out of the ordinary. This just leaves her consumables to talk about. Had Anchorage been released anytime before the autumn of 2017, she would have been the bees knees. Back then, Smoke Generators were THE team-play consumable of choice. As it is now, smoke is still highly appreciated but detection consumables, namely long-range Surveillance Radars, are valued more. Anchorage flips the dynamic of American cruisers on its head when it comes to its consumables. It forgoes detection consumables -- even making Hydroacoustic Search compete for its slot in favour of her Smoke Generator gimmick. Now this is a good gimmick, do not mistake me. Anchorage doesn't just have a Smoke Generator, it has an American Smoke Generator which comes with increased emission time and duration. However, it doesn't quite ditto the improved performance of other American smoke generators when it comes to duration. For example, Benson and Kidd's smoke lasts for 124 seconds. Flint's smoke lasts for 121 seconds. However, she does have a leg up on Mikhail Kutuzov whose smoke is only emitted for 20 seconds and lasts 89 seconds. Sadly for Anchorage, she's not well setup to take advantage of her own consumable. Her 7.98km (effectively 8km) detection range when she fires within smoke greatly reduces its efficacy. She's simply too loud of a target to take full advantage of the smoke she drops. This is especially pronounced if there are any surviving lolibotes on the enemy team, sneaking around and sniffing out smoke-cloud contents. Anchorage's detection range when she fires in smoke is almost as long as some Surveillance Radar detection ranges -- it's that bad. She has to be one of the safest cruisers to approach when she's parked in her smoke. Yes, her torpedoes are a risk but their fire angles are bad so she'll clearly broadcast when she's about to launch them when she swings out her broadside. This largely relegates Anchorage's smoke use to firing from the second line. The short range of her guns precludes her from doing this from a comfortable distance unless she forgoes the use of Hydroacoustic Search to take a Spotter Aircraft, and even then that only mitigates the problem temporarily. I guess what I'm trying to say is that Anchorage's Smoke Generator isn't a good fit despite the good stats of the consumable. Had Wargaming ditched that and given her a Soviet style, short-duration but long-ranged Surveillance Radar, Anchorage would have been a lot more interesting and practical. VERDICT: She came with the wrong consumables for 2020. Final Evaluation There have been a lot of forgettable and unfortunate ships released in 2020. Anchorage is an excellent example of this -- where her design looks interesting but there's some game play element that just doesn't quite click and the ship ends up largely forgotten. Ironically, Anchorage is exactly the kind of premiums I was hoping to see in World of Warships back when I joined in 2015. She's different without being overpowered -- clearly sitting a step behind the tech tree ships in terms of her power level. I should be celebrating her release as-is but she merely feels like a missed opportunity. Still, I'm glad she ended up (mostly) free for players if they wanted to invest the time and handful of doubloons into unlocking her. As far as American premium heavy cruisers go, she's definitely not my top pick or even in my top three. Indianapolis and Wichita are more compelling choices in my opinion, with Alaska sitting as the crème de la crème. Anchorage is just too weird to tickle my fancy. She's not terrible, but she now sits alongside Puerto Rico as ships I'm never going to take out of port short of knocking off snowflakes or completing very specific missions where her tool-set will allow me to break the system. The best thing about her is her cool camouflage and looks, in my opinion. She's not a good PVP boat (she's not terrible either, but she's hardly advantageous), however she's a great Co-Op monster if that's your thing. Frankly, this is what Anchorage is best for: derping around in Co-Op and pulling off crap regularly that you'd only see once in a blue moon in PVP. In Closing Normally when I finish a big review like Belfast's, I can't stop work immediately afterwards. I need to wind down. Usually I take on a pretty small project and work a half-day. This may involve playing one of the test-ships that Wargaming has lent me or maybe collecting and revising some twirling data. Maybe I might map dispersion or simply spend time chatting with players, answering questions and reviewing their replays. The whole idea is to unwind slowly. I get something done, but it's at a much more relaxed pace than the gruelling final push to get an article out. With so many ships left to review in 2020, I've tended to default to getting started on the next review. Normally this is just filling out my template for these articles, getting the PROs and CONS settled and maybe filling out the Options section before calling it a day. With Anchorage... well, a lot of the work had already been done. I literally wrote this over the course of 8 hours. I had already play tested her extensively back in August-September (and didn't like her). I have most of the graphics done for her grace of just finishing Belfast '43. So I thought: "why not?" and tried to get this out in a single sitting. Hooray for me! This certainly isn't my best work and I definitely cut a lot of corners to get this out, but hey, it's done. For a ship I'm not interested in playing, that's more of a relief than I would like to admit. I don't want to have to come back to this one weeks or months down the road and have to remind myself of what she's like and spend hours (and days) doing graphics for a review I'll not enjoy doing. So Anchorage is done. I'm happy. What's more, I think I can take an honest to god break now. Thank you for reading, everyone. 
  10. The following is a VERY hasty review of HSF Harekaze II. This ship was provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes at no cost to myself. To the best of my knowledge, the performance discussed here is current as of patch 0.10.3. Please be aware that her performance may chance in the future.= So, first things first. It may be obvious to some but it isn't obvious to others. HSF Harekaze II is not HSF Harekaze. HSF Harekaze II does not come with multiple hull and camouflage options like her predecessor did. If you're hoping to play with Japanese 100mm/65 guns or a cute kitty camo, this isn't the ship for you. HSF Harekaze II comes with a singular armament of three German 150mm/55 SK C/28s as found upon the ship during the events of the High School Fleet: the Movie (2020) (or is it the OVAs?) to which this crossover ties in. The original Harekaze was a true hybrid with good guns (using her 100mm/65s) and good torpedoes. Harekaze II is a torpedo destroyer with German destroyer consumables and three of their 150mm guns (but weird ammo). Between the servers melting and the limitations imposed by the licensing agreement, HSF Harekaze II was not available for Community Contributors to play-test before her release. So this is kinda rushed. The last time I had a hold of her was August 11th 2020, where I wrote the following to Wargaming (she was play-tested under the working name "Arashi"). Oh, past-me. So young. So optimistic. So "hasn't just spent the last three days recovering from vaccine reactions so she probably isn't grumpy like I am now". I'ma rip this ship a new one. Harekaze did not get the German 1/4 HE penetration. Her gun performance remains very niche. Her AP shells allow you to citadel select cruisers with minimal citadel protection at very close ranges. However, having only three guns with a 5 second reload time precludes her from having anything close to competitive damage output with her small main battery. Harekaze II is a torpedo destroyer and her individual performance is dictated by how well you can land those incredibly powerful fish. However, unlike most Japanese torpedo destroyers, she turns things upon its head with her access to a Hydroacoustic Search consumable. Harekaze II has the potential to be a strong forward scout, good at projecting vision for her allies. This is a very high risk play, however, as she does not have the firepower, speed or health to survive an encounter that goes pear shaped. Before we begin... A bit of a caveat for this review: It has been made as quickly as I could. I played ten games in this ship yesterday as soon as I got up, made notes and compared them to my older notes back when this ship was called Arashi. I then borrowed my Fen Yang data-set (from January 2021) and began updating it. There are no pretty graphs in this review, just screenshots of crap I C&Ped into notepad. I did this for expediency's sake; each pretty graphic is anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours worth of work which would have added literal days to this reviews production. These collaboration ships are never on sale for very long and I wanted to get my take on this ship while it's still out there. If you want to hear more about elements I did not cover, such as fire setting, AP fusing angles versus destroyers, etc, I have the info available. So without further ado: PROS Large calibre guns for a destroyer providing good penetration and punchy individual shells. Excellent gun arcs and a 360º gun rotation on X-turret. Whoo! ♪ Love me some good gun arcs. Hard hitting torpedoes. Great concealment with a surface detection as low as 5.37km. Access to a German destroyer Hydroacoustic Search. Her permanent camouflage provides 50% bonus commander training. CONS Tiny hit point pool for a tier VIII destroyer. Bad gun handling. Poor main battery DPM. Not very fast or agile. Her AA defence is a joke. She uses a German Smoke Generator with shorter smoke duration time. Entirely reliant on never being spotted ever. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / CHALLENGING / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / EXTREME I'm normally pretty forgiving when it comes to evaluating the skill floor of torpedo destroyers. Her potential is through the roof. Actualizing that potential is another matter entirely. That doesn't make her powerful, per se, but it does mean you have to respect a Harekaze II in the hands of an expert more than you might a Kagero, for example; especially if she's in a division. Still, I gotta give HSF Harekaze II a bump up in difficulty for new players, if only because her survivability is so terrible. If you pull the trigger against the wrong target with your guns, you are doomed. If you over-extend, you are doomed. If you over-estimate the duration of your smoke: also doomed. Options Consumables HSF Harekaze II has German-destroyer consumables instead of those from a Japanese-destroyer. Her Damage Control Party is standard. It has a 5 second active time, unlimited charges and a 40 second reset timer. Her Smoke Generator is that of a German destroyer. It starts with 3 charges and it has a 160 second reset timer. It emits smoke for 20 seconds with each cloud having a 450m radius which is normal enough. However, the clouds only last for 69 seconds (nice) instead of the expected 89 seconds for a Japanese destroyer. We come back to normalcy with her Engine Boost. This provides the usual 8% speed increase for 120 seconds with a 120 second reset timer. It comes with 3 charges to start. And finally we have her glorious Hydroacoustic Search consumable. This has 3 charges to start, 100 second active time and a 120 second reset timer. It detects torpedoes up to 3.5km away and ships up to 5km away. This is identical to that found on ships like Z-23 or Z-35, for example. For those curious, this is still a step behind Loyang's and Siliwangi's. Upgrades It may appear that there's a variety of choice here, but there's really not; at least if you're worried about optimization. Take Main Armaments Modification 1 in your first slot. If you're allergic to Fun and Engaging™ game-play, then Magazine Modification 1 will help mitigate that somewhat. The special upgrade Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 is the best choice in slot two. Engine Boost Modification 1 is the next best choice. Each of these will cost 17,000 from the Armory. If you can't (or won't) afford that, then default to Engine Room Protection. Harekaze II is a torpedo destroyer. Play to your strengths. Take Torpedo Tubes Modification 1 in slot 3. If you want to pretend that you can prop up this ship's weaknesses than take either Aiming Systems Modification 1 or Main Battery Modification 2 to assist with aiming and gun handling respectively. You do have an honest choice in slot four. You won't be sitting in smoke often, so Propulsion Modification 1 may not give you the mileage you might be used to with other destroyers, however I still think it the better of the pair. Otherwise you can put a tiny bit more precision in her agility with Steering Gears Modification 1. Finally, take Concealment System Modification 1 in slot five. Commander Skills Build for and prioritize survivability, stealth, speed and torpedo performance. In a perfect "I'll never be spotted never mind shot-at" world, your 21pt commander should look something like this: There's a lot of wiggle room here. At tier 1 you can swap for Grease the Gears. At tier 2, take Priority Target or Last Stand if you prefer. At tier 3 you do not want to deviate from the two skills listed, but if you can free up points from a tier 4 skill (or two), then Adrenaline Rush or Superintendent aren't terrible picks. At tier 4 you absolutely must keep Concealment Expert. Given Harekaze II's low speed, I strongly recommend Swift in Silence (it's a permanent Engine Boost while hidden) but between that and Radio Location you can drop one (or both) to free up points for other choices. Though you gotta wonder, if you're never supposed to be seen, do you really need Survivability Expert? Seems to me like that 'never being spotted' thing is a bit of a pipe dream, no? Camouflage The original Harekaze absolutely spoiled players for choice. It came with both the High School Fleet themed camouflage and a more traditional Japanese destroyer camo as her inclusion into the game predated the expanded use of content filters we now enjoy in port (before, if you disabled being able to see the High School Fleet camo, the game demounted the camo). This latter changed the geometry of the ship to appear "normal" removing the fantastic elements from the anime and, provided you completed the first part of the Isoroku Yamamoto collection, it also provided an alternate palette. Finally, you could later buy the infamous (and amazing) Isoroku camo which turned your ship into a kitty-cat. Harekaze II has no such options. She comes with a single camo which also means you cannot palette swap her skin if you disable viewing the High School Fleet content with your port-filters. It provides the following bonuses: A 3% reduction in surface detection ranges. A 4% increase to the dispersion of enemy gunfire. A 10% reduction to post-battle service costs. A 50% increase to commander experience earned. A 50% increase to experience earned.  (These bonuses are identical to the optional "Isoroku" camouflage on the original Harekaze. However, Harekaze's default camo had 100% bonus free experience instead of 50% commander experience found here). No fun kitty camo here. Summary HSF Harekaze II has German-destroyer consumables. She should be built as a torpedo-destroyer with her upgrades and commander skills. Her camouflage options are limited to a single camo unlike her predecessor. Firepower Main Battery: Three 150mm/55 guns in 3x1 turrets in an A-X-Y superfiring arrangement. Torpedoes: Eight tubes in 2x4 launchers mounted fore and aft of the rear funnel down the centre-line of the ship. Gun fire arcs are: A-Turret: 312º X-Turret: 324º with a full 360º traverse. Y- Turret: 314º While HSF Harekaze II may be using German guns, she's using very Japanese ammunition. And this is very good ammunition to be clear (despite it's faults). If she had more than just three guns to play with, this destroyer's main battery firepower might have been interesting in game rather than simply academically. Here's what it gives you: Her AP penetration is excellent for a destroyer; well above and beyond German and Soviet destroyer AP penetration. This makes her a credible threat to most broadsiding cruisers up to distances of about 8km or so. Her HE shell damage is much higher than expected for a German styled weapon. HSF Harekaze II's shells deal a maximum of 2,500 per hit instead of the wimpy 1,700 of German shells. They have very high fire chance for a destroyer-mounted 150mm shell at 11% per hit. Here's what you're not getting from their German heritage: Improved German 150mm-gun dispersion. Improved German 1/4 HE penetration. Improved (60º to 67.5º) auto-ricochet angles. Look, there is so much I could talk about with these weapons. The interaction of their fuse sensitivity with destroyer hull angles, their long (for a destroyer) fuse timers and how this interacts with her AP penetration over distance, how good they are at setting fires, etc. But the simple fact of the matter is that HSF Harekaze II does not have enough barrels to make these guns work effectively. Harekaze II's weapons are weapons of opportunity. If you see a vulnerable, low-health target? Feel free to open fire. It doesn't matter if it's a destroyer, cruiser, battleship or carrier. Otherwise, don't bother. It's never worth giving your position away and making landing torpedoes harder. You know you're in a rough spot when the Japanese torpedo destroyers look like better gunships than you. Taking HSF Harekaze II into a knife fight is the wrong move against nearly any full-health opponent you can name. Her AP performance is at least respectable which makes her much more of a threat against low-health cruisers and battleships; especially to the former if they flash their sides. I put this together for three reasosn. First, Harekaze II's AP shells are really neat. I popped a low-health München at 6.5km with a brace of citadel hits which felt amazing. Second, it's an excuse to show off how different HSF Harekaze II's AP shells perform compared to other German 150mm armed destroyers. Third, it also allowed me to show one of the many differences between the old German destroyer 150mm performance (Z-39) and the new (Maerker). Torpedoes Tier VIII destroyer torpedoes have this annoying habit of being "almost amazing". There's always something wrong with them. Maybe they don't hit hard enough. Maybe they're really slow. Maybe the destroyer simply doesn't have enough of them. This is, of course, to encourage players to continue to look every upward and push onto those tier X destroyers where such flaws are reduced (if not absent entirely). For HSF Harekaze II, that issue is range. Let's be clear: HSF Harekaze II's torpedoes are some of the meanest at her tier. They hit like trucks. They're fast. She fires a good spread. While the detection range (and reaction time) of Japanese fish is notoriously over-generous, their biggest flaw is that they put these fragile and flighty destroyers within Surveillance Radar range. Their 10km reach just isn't ideal and an extra 2km would make a world of difference in their efficiency, which is exactly why they don't have it. Each torpedo hit from HSF Harekaze II chunks the red team of up to 20,967 damage, so even a trio of hits is a decent battle result. Four to five is a solid game and should put you near the top of the team lists. Six or more and you should start to feel sorry for the Reds. While this may not seem like a tall order, the reality is that you're as much reliant upon your own skill set as your are on the misplays of the Red team in order to get these kinds of results. Torpedo destroyers are generally very inconsistent, with high peaks and low valleys when it comes to individual games. Their volatility is what makes them so exciting ... and frustrating. Worse, their efficiency can be neutered by something as simple as an overflying group of enemy aircraft that had no intention of dropping on her. HSF Harekaze II, like all torpedo-destroyers, works best when they don't see the attack coming. A wary target may not be able to avoid every torpedo thrown at it, but it's the difference between scoring multiple hits or getting MAYBE one. Between the time it takes to setup, get into position and her own reload, she can't put enough fish into the water to guarantee a reasonable result that way. This is, of course, nothing new. It's a common lament for all torpedo boats out there. Except for Asashio. Asashio don't play by those rules. Asashio makes her own damn rules. Both versions of HSF Harekaze use Kagero's torpedoes. The original Harekaze uses her stock fish while HSF Harekaze II uses her upgraded ones. VERDICT: Her guns suck not because they aren't good, but because she doesn't have enough of them. Her torpedoes are great, though. Durability Hit Points: 13,300 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 19mm / 13mm / 19mm / 19mm No. Just, no. HSF Harekaze II's effective health is pathetic for a tier VIII destroyer. VERDICT: Very, very bad. Agility Top Speed: 35kts Turning Radius: 640m Rudder Shift Time: 4s 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 7.0º/s at 29.1kts A top speed of 35 knots is the basement of acceptable destroyer speeds. Anything less than that and it's a crippling flaw. So HSF Harekaze II's speed is barely adequate and will (frankly) get her into a lot of trouble. This is a ship that lives and dies by controlling engagement distances. While her excellent concealment does wonders for assisting her with this, without speed to back it up, it's by no means an easy contest. The worst case scenario for HSF Harekaze II is being pursued; especially by a ship equipped with either Hydroacoustic Search or worse Surveillance Radar. Her 35 knot top speed just isn't enough to open up the distance, If you touch her rudder at all, that speed falls below 30 knots and most cruisers going flat out can not only keep pace, but actively gain upon her. To this end, it's hard not to look favourably upon the commander skill Swift in Silence. The extra speed at least allows her to play keep-away from (most) cruisers. I'm recycling this from my Z-35 review for the sake of saving time. HSF Harekaze II has almost identical performance to Kagero, Harekaze, Asashio and AL Yukikaze. VERDICT: Okay, but only just. Anti-Aircraft Defence Short Ranged (up to 2.5km): 14dps at 95% accuracy (13.3dps) No. Very no. She struggles to shoot down summoned fighters, to say nothing of attacking planes. VERDICT: Even worse than her durability. I AM HAVING SO MUCH FUN RIGHT NOW! Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 6.84km / 5.37km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 3.06km / 2.48km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 2.96km Maximum Firing Range: 11.4km There is a lot of good going on here. First thing's first, the Kagero-class (and related) destroyers are the stealthiest ships within their Matchmaking. They have the surface detection to outspot everything else out there. Similarly, HSF Harekaze II's aerial detection is downright excellent. Planes have to be literally over-top of her in order to spot her which makes rocket attacks difficult unless the CV knows well in advance where the destroyer is (or is going to be). And let's not ignore the fact she also gets access to Hydroacoustic Search, giving her the ability to screen for enemy fish and the potential (I stress: potential) to spot concealed enemies. The only downside, really, is there's not much HSF Harekaze II can do with this great concealment offensively on her own. As great as her Vision Controll toolkit is, what can she really do with it other than to play keep away? Taking the Radio Location and Swift in Silence commander skills are nearly a must to give her both the advanced warning and extra speed necessary to ensure she can control engagement distances on lurking lolibotes. While she may be able to outspot anything she faces, she's not agile enough to come about in the short span of time between spotting a destroyer heading her way and when they make up the difference in surface detection and spot her right back. With HSF Harekaze II's fragility and poor DPM, this is rarely an encounter she comes out the better for if it comes down to trading fire. And if you do the smart thing and keep your guns silent and run away, you're still going to sacrifice a big chunk of her admittedly small health pool. The bad news with taking Radio Location is that it warns ships that you're lurking in the area, which hurts the efficiency of her torpedo ambushes. But it's not like you can really afford to go without. To this end, HSF Harekaze II's Vision Control is so damn frustrating. It's god-tier, but slapped on a boat that can do almost nothing with it. I got myself killed time and again making bold plays for my team -- spotting lolibotes, contesting cap circles and hoping against hope whatever group of random players I was teamed up with would take advantage of the forward positions I was taking. You can guess how my average game went. In a division, HSF Harekaze II's god-tier concealment and access to Hydroacoustic Search are worth so much more. But for her own merits, she's just a sneaky torpedo destroyer that doesn't have to worry about getting hit by enemy torpedoes. This is a list of all of the tier VI through X destroyers, ranked by their fully upgraded surface detection range. When there's a tie, I sort them by the following criteria. First, lower tiered ships get preference over higher tiered ships. Next, I sort them by the date of their nation's inclusion into World of Warships (Japan, USA, USSR, Germany, etc). Tech tree ships have preference over premiums. After that, I try and go by release date but that's not strictly adhered to. VERDICT: So damn good and so damn frustrating. Final Evaluation Forward scouting in HSF Harekaze II is ... well, it's a bit of a loser move outside of divisions. I want to play HSF Harekaze II like Haida II, the Cobra Chicken Boogaloo. Her great concealment and that long-range Hydroacoustic Search? It's SOOOO good when it works. If it works. I must stress both that 'when' and 'if'. If you can't rely on your team mates to shoot at what you spot, when you put yourself up on the firing line like that, you're just going to die and lose. It takes only a mildly aggressive enemy destroyer to see you off. And if you're stupid (or stubborn) enough to stick around when they've already sniffed you out once and know they can outfight you, then this happens: I must stress that even an Asashio can outfight you. HSF Harekaze II just plain sucks at dealing with enemy lolibotes outside of those she can outspot by a mile (and I do mean a literal 1.6km mile) or those who walk into one of your torpedoes. To this end, even trying to contest cap circles is an idiot-play and will only serve you well if your opponents are idiots. Given the quality of Random Battle teams, this means it will happen just often enough to make you think you can pull it off on the regular only to wonder why it fails so spectacularly when one of the Reds decides to do more than run screaming from the cap-buoys. This takes the potential of this ship in solo-play from amazingly versatile to a one-trick pony. You spam torpedoes. That's it. Your team mates will get mad at you for not spotting, for not pushing caps, for not sticking your neck out and pew-pewing that low-health target but HSF Harekaze II's just not built to take those kind of risks without backup. I was genuinely terrified whenever I saw a Kidd, Cossack or Lightning on the enemy team, to say nothing of the higher tiered A-tier gunships. While this is a common lament in most torpedo destroyers, I kept (stupidly) trying to play the forward spotter and I kept feeding myself to these destroyers. Now I admit, that's my own damned fault for playing her this way, but I had to prove to myself that attempting this without division backup wasn't viable. I would have been much better served thinking myself a Kagero that had already taken a broadside from a British battleship and thus, low on health, I should play cautiously. This largely means discarding what makes HSF Harekaze II interesting: her Hydroacoustic Search. In solo play, don't try and use it aggressively. Pretend it's not there. Use it to screen for torpedoes for your team. This all changes in a division, of course, but for solo-play? Without good team mates? No. Very no. So that leaves HSF Harekaze II to be evaluated upon how well she dispenses torpedoes. And in that regard, she's really no better than Kagero with one fewer degrees worth of torpedo arc off her stern. Is HSF Harekaze II good? Well, 5.37km surface detection + Hydroacoustic Search is good. 21,000 damage, 67 knot torpedoes with a 10km range are good. The rest of her isn't. You need to bring a friend along to do the shooting for you if things get hot. Do I like this ship? No. Would I recommend this ship? No. She's a pale shadow of the original HSF Harekaze and if Wargaming wanted to sell a 150mm armed version of her, they should have figured out a way to monetize buying another upgrade slot on her original hull. I suppose that causes all sorts of issues with the crossover license, so that's my guess why we didn't see it. HSF Harekaze II's implementation just makes the original look all the better, so go buy that one instead if you want a piece. I won't be playing this ship going forward unless in a division where I can count on my team mates to shoot what I light up. Then she's fun. But alone? No. If I want to play a tier VIII dedicated torpedo destroyer solo, there's always Kagero, Asashio, AL Yukikaze, etc. Conclusion Not bad. This review took me a little over 30 hours to put together from start to finish, including getting those 10 games in and a good night's sleep besides. Please let me know if you want me to spend some time turning those notepad screenshots into pretty graphics. Otherwise, I'm putting this one to bed and begin the next one. Thank you very much for reading and a very special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for helping keep my lights on.  
  11. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review - Wujing

    The following is a review of Wujing, the tier IX premium Pan Asian Alsace-class battleship. This ship has kindly been provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes -- I did not have to spend money to get access to this ship. To the best of my knowledge, the performance statistics discussed in this review are accurate as of patch 0.10.2. Please be aware that her performance may change in the future. Look, this one is pretty simple: = Wujing is a Pan Asian, premium version of the fully-upgraded French tier IX tech-tree battleship, Alsace. She clones Alsace's performance in every respect barring economy where Wujing earns more and comes with free premium camouflage. If you want to try her out for "free" (barring the time to accomplish the grind), unlock Alsace, play a few rounds in it and imagine yourself earning more credits because, y'know, Wujing is a premium. Bam, there you go; that's Wujing. For posterity's sake, I'll record her stats as she appeared at the time of this article's publishing but I'm not going to do a deep-dive into her performance. Quick Summary: Wujing is a Pan Asian Alsace. Seriously, we just went over this. If I have to explain everything twice, this is going to take forever. PROS Good citadel protection with stacked layers of armour amounting to 482mm of straight-line protection. Large main battery of twelve guns. Heavy secondary battery with good fire setting abilities. Decent agility with her Engine Boost assisting with her flexibility. Good AA firepower when it comes to supporting allies with much of her DPS focused in long-range batteries & flak. CONS Only 32mm of structural steel on the entirety of the ship, making her very vulnerable to cruiser HE spam. Her 380mm AP shells are incapable of overmatching a lot of the structural armour on cruisers she faces. Long, 32 second base reload. Unfortunate 1.6 sigma makes her guns fire like a shotgun spread. Her secondaries look much more capable than they actually are, having accuracy and penetration problems which keeps them from pulling their weight, even with a deep-specialization. Enormous turning circle radius of 910m. I'm not a fan of Wujing, not because she doesn't perform well (though I could go on a small rant about the nerfs made to Alsace in order to make room for Bourgogne), but because she's simply a clone. As nice as the skin looks, she feels very low-effort. Bajie is a much more interesting choice, given that Wargaming at least massaged her stats a little. It's a bit of an aside but with Yukon on the horizon, I feel like we dodged a bit of a bullet that she's at least getting the Bajie treatment instead of a simple copy-paste performance job like Wujing. Overall? Skip this one unless you really (REALLY) love your Alsace and want a premium version of her. Alternatively, you could just toss the money into a premium, perma camo for Alsace. The economy gains won't come close but it's the principle of the thing. Stats Dump:
  12. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review - Flandre

    The following is a review of Flandre, the tier VIII French Alsace-class battleship. This ship has been kindly provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes -- I did not have to pay for access to this ship. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as of patch 0.10.2. In the back of my mind, I always knew that World of Warships would eventually reach a state where the lines became bloated as those in her sister-game, World of Tanks. The sheer volume of choice is daunting, overwhelming even. Flandre is that tipping point for me; that moment where tackling World of Warships content has personally gotten to the point where it feels like there's just so much stuff out there. Flandre is the third premium tier VIII French battleship. There are now as many French battleships at this tier as there are British battleships at tier VII. Imagine being a new player trying to decide between the three as your first premium purchase, never mind the other dozen premium battleships she competes with directly. Wargaming appears to be trying to simplify matters. There's no gimmicks to know with Flandre. There's no additional oddities to obfuscate her performance. She is exactly what is described on the tin: a nine 380mm-gun armed battleship with a very traditional turret layout. Forget all of the gunnery and armour weirdness of Champagne. Ignore Gascogne's special consumables and weird placement of her quadruple turrets. Flandre is an easy-to-digest, simple battleship with predictable levels of performance. So with everything getting more complicated, Flandre is a breath of fresh-air. That or she's incredibly boring. Your mileage may vary. Summary: A tier VIII Alsace-class battleship with nine 380mm guns instead of twelve and crappy consumables. PROS Enormous hit point pool for a tier VIII battleship at 75,400hp. Thick citadel protection with upwards of 500mm worth of armour. Excellent torpedo damage reduction of 44%. Comfortable gun handling with a 5º/s rotation rate. Heavy secondary battery with a 7.6km base range. Fast for a tier VIII battleship with a top speed of 33.5kts. Heavy DPS in her long-range AA batteries, good for providing friendly support. CONS Uncomfortably slow 33 second reload on her main battery. Limited overmatch potential on her 380mm guns. Poor forward firing angles on her main battery. Most of her secondaries are incapable of directly damaging her opponents. Large turning circle radius of 910m. Limited consumables with no Engine Boost and one fewer charge of Repair Party. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / CASUAL / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme Flandre is pretty basic as far as battleships come. She doesn't earn a Simple rating for the following reasons: She doesn't have a universal ammunition type. You have to know when to use AP and when to use HE and against which targets. She's still vulnerable to citadel hits, unlike some battleships I could mention. So you need to be aware of angling and making sure you're not accidentally flashing your sides to something halfway across the map. This is a ship built for kiting, not for head-on fights. She can do the latter, but she's much better when used in the former role. Her short range puts her in harms way way too easily. And that's it, really. Flandre is a modest ride for more veteran players with her speed easily being her best asset. It's not all sunshine and roses, though. Her lack of reach makes taking up a central position and capitalizing on those fire lanes a bit of a no-go. Similarly, her limited consumables provides less flexibility than other French battleships. She does really kite well, though, which is a skill onto itself that pays off, but instances where you can make best use of that are situational. Still, she does offer a variety of game play options, up to and including taking her into a brawl. So, there's more to know than the basics and it's nice when a ship can grow with your skill set. Options I'm going to do something weird here and advocate for a secondary build as an alternative to the more standard emphasis on main battery firepower and fire prevention builds. Please note that this is a meme-build, way-way-WAY sub-optimal for any kind of PVP battle. Like, it's embarrassing how badly a secondary build ranks up to the more common survivability + sniping build. However, it's fun. I recognize that a lot of my readers enjoy PVE modes and secondary builds certainly have a lot more functionality there where the optimization rules change considerably. Consumables Flandre is absolutely bare-bones when it comes to her low-quality consumables. Her Damage Control Party is normal at least with a 15 second active period and 80 second reset timer. It has unlimited charges, as you would expect. Her Repair Party, on the other hand, comes with three charges instead of the usual four. The rest is as expected, queuing 10% of citadel damage, 50% of penetration damage and 100% of everything else. It will heal back up to 14% of her health over 28 seconds and it has an 80 second reset timer. And that's it. Flandre gets no other consumables and her Repair Party is crappy. Looooser. ♫ Upgrades You want to build your ship for fire-mitigation while buffing your main battery firepower where ever possible. To this end: Start with Main Armaments Modification 1. Damage Control System Modification 1 is the only worthwhile choice in slot two. Aiming Systems Modification 1 is optimal in slot three and by a significant margin. HOWEVER, for those who like inefficient meme-builds (or simply those who prefer PVE-modes to PVP), then you can get away with Secondary Battery Modification 1. This is the start of that aforementioned secondary build I mentioned earlier and I will go into more detail about its strengths and weaknesses in the Firepower section below. Damage Control System Modification 2 is best in slot four. And Concealment Modification 1 remains optimal for just about everyone in slot five. No big surprises there. Commander Skills Oh yeah, it's time to re-use a graphic! ♪ Wuh-BAAAYUM! ♫ Circles are must haves with squares as alternates to your preference. Until Wargaming gets around to fixing things, Dead Eye is optimal but you do you, cupcake. If you want to try your hand at playing a secondary build, it's going to look something like this: For the yellow circles, pick the skill that best suits your playstyle, but only one at each tier. Then take the red circles and finally gobble up the last three in blue squares. The idea here is that you can eschew worrying about concealment. You accept that you're not going to live very long, so buffing the number of Repair Party charges you have access to doesn't really matter. You will be set on fire, probably repeatedly, so fire prevention and mitigation skills still have some value. But you're going full-bore on the secondaring buffing skills. You can swap out the fire mitigation skills for Emergency Repair Expert and Adrenaline Rush if you're feeling metal, though. Just appreciate that you will die screaming and one fire. Your secondaries will be rockin', though. Note that Inertial Fuse for HE Shells isn't 100% necessary but it comes highly recommended for the sake of allowing her 100mm secondaries to have a chance of directly damaging a limited number of targets. However taking it thoroughly neuters her ability to set blazes -- something her secondaries do stupidly well. Camouflage Flandre comes with Type 10 Camouflage, providing the usual bonuses for a tier VIII battleship: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -10% to post-battle service costs. +50% experience earned. Her alternative palette can be unlocked through completing the "Legion of Honor" collection. Firepower Main Battery: Nine 380mm guns in 3x3 turrets in an A-B-X superfiring configuration. Secondary Battery: Nine 152mm guns in 3x3 turrets mounted on the centreline with one superfiring over B-turret and two superfiring over X-turret and twenty-eight (!) 100mm guns in 14x2 turrets in a superfiring stair arrangement with seven turrets per side amidships. Ouch. Why are we spending money on this? You know your HE DPM is bad when ROMA outdoes you. Something smells fowl Why does Flandre have a 33 second reload with only nine 380mm guns? There's something ducky going on here. The duckyness stems from Flandre's Alsace-grade durability. She has a lot of hit points. She has good (but not amazing) citadel protection. Ergo, with a little tweak to her sigma, Wargaming felt justified in throttling her reload time. It's even worse than Alsace's own 32 second reload and Flandre does not get access to Alsace's Main Battery Modification 3 upgrade to cut that down to the much more manageable 28.2 seconds. Combine this with the (relatively) small calibre of Flandre's shells and her DPM stinks like monkey-butts. Keep in mind, this is at a tier where the other 380mm armed battleships flirt with 25 and 26 second reloads with eight or nine guns. Let's go through the list; Vittorio Veneto: Nine 381mm guns with a 34 second reload. Shut up, she gets SAP. Richelieu: Eight 380mm guns with a 30 second reload. Roma & AL Littorio: Nine 381mm guns with a 30 second reload. Gascogne: Eight 380mm guns with a 28 second reload. Bismarck & Tirpitz: Eight 380mm guns with a 26 second reload. Vanguard: Eight 381mm guns with a 25 second reload. Famous & Historical Monarch: Nine 381mm guns with a 25 (!) second reload. Obviously this means Famous & Historical Monarch's firepower is grossly overpowered. No wonder she was selected to be the basis of a new premium. Now where was I? Oh, right! As of late, Wargaming seems addicted to shackling battleships with reloads greater than thirty seconds. The last two battleship lines, the Italian and American standard-type battleships all struggle with appalling reloads and Flandre fits right in with this mould. It is not a shape I like. Usually there's a reason for these longer reloads and as stated earlier, Flandre's slacking on her rate of fire is supposed to be compensated for by her chunky hit point pool and armour. Is that worth it? Well, spoiler alert: Not for me. It's not that the extra durability isn't potent in its own right (and more on that later), it's that 380mm guns are already feeling a bit small in calibre by tier VIII. So Flandre was already facing some challenges right out the gates. But it gets worse when you start comparing her to the other French battleships at her tier. Let's ignore Champagne as she is very much her own beast. Richelieu's guns are easier to use with their all bow-mount layout. Gascogne has improved sigma over Flandre. On top of firing more quickly, both of these ships out-range Flandre to a significant degree. Flandre's 20km reach cannot be modified. She lacks access to a Spotter Aircraft (something both Richelieu and Gascogne enjoy) and it's infuriating how often Flandre's guns feel just out of reach, especially in the opening moments of a match when a friendly carrier might be spotting a juicy broadside. Thus the combination of the poor reload and reduced range makes Flandre's guns less able to take advantage of opportunities than the other French battleships. She may otherwise clone their ballistics and (good) penetration but she's much more limited in carry potential, at least firepower wise. Flandre's guns are ... well, they're not good, let's be honest. Nine 380mm guns with wonky French dispersion and a shoddy reload? That ducks. I don't care how tough you are. Oh, French dispersion, you so silly. This is a standard dispersion test with 180 AP shells fired at a distance of 15km at a stationary Fuso bot. Shots are coming in from right to left. The Fuso has no camouflage, upgrades or skills that disrupt incoming shell fire. Flandre was using Aiming Systems Modification 1 but not Dead Eye. Flandre's fire arcs are much better suited to kiting than going on the attack. If you can fire all three guns forward, your opponent's return fire can punch into your belt. Flandre's AP penetration is decent compared to the other 380mm/381mm guns at her tier. I'd make a bigger deal about her AP penetration but she's competing with 406mm and 410mm AP rounds against which she doesn't look so favourable. Approximate AP penetration data pulled from wowsft.com The Death of Secondary Specializations Once upon a time, many years ago, there was one (and only one) defining feature that dictated if a ship had good secondaries or not: Range. In our naivety in the long-long ago, in the before-times, if a battleship had 4.5km or (gasp!) 5km secondaries, they were good. So long as you had enough guns and your citadel wasn't hiked up to your nipples, you should seriously consider buffing them. This is why we had secondary-spec'd Nagato-class battleships wandering around (5km secondaries, my gawd!) back in 2015 and early 2016. Much has changed since then. We have had two commander-skill reworks, one major and a couple of minor upgrade reworks, the addition of new signals, changes made to secondary ammunition, changes made to secondary range and changes made to secondary accuracy besides. What's more, we have a better understanding now of things like penetration, module damage and most-recently, dispersion. Thus, for players, evaluating secondary quality is a much more refined (if complicated) process. Under the old system, Flandre's secondaries look like the sex. Under the new, they have a couple of things going for them but on the whole, they are found wanting. Here's the criteria we look for now and how Flandre stacks up: Range: Flandre's secondaries are long ranged with a 7.6km base reach which can be upgraded up to 11.49km which is very respectable. This is longer ranged than Massachusetts, equal to Bismarck & Tirpitz and behind Odin's own secondaries. Gun Types: Flandre uses two calibres of gun. The bulk of her secondary armament is made up of quick-firing 100mm guns backed by (much) slower firing 152mm guns. Generally speaking, a homogeneous secondary battery is preferred. It's easier to evaluate for one. For another, it's easier to decide if a given secondary battery is worth investing skills like Inertial Fuse for HE Shells when there's a singular armament. So this is a point against Flandre's secondaries as there are very different needs and performance between the two weapons. DPM: Obviously the bigger the numbers, the better. Flandre's secondaries have the potential to put out monstrous amounts of DPM. But there's a couple of catches... Dispersion: If you can't hit your target, that DPM is going to throttle quickly. Flandre's secondaries are bare bones when it comes to secondary accuracy, having neither the slightly improved German dispersion, nor the much-improved Massachusetts (and British & Japanese large-calibre) secondary dispersion. Boo-urns. Penetration: Next up, those hits don't matter much if they can't inflict damage. The bulk of Flandre's secondary fire has 17mm of HE penetration which isn't enough to directly damage the hulls of same-tier destroyers and makes her patently incapable of damaging same-tier battleships anywhere. Inertial Fuse for HE Shells can correct this somewhat, but..... Fire Chance: ... taking IFHE hurts her fire chance. While Flandre's direct damage potential is in the toilet, her fire setting is some of the best out there. Those 100mm spit out a lot of shells and that again leads to a lot of potential fires-per-minute (again so long as dispersion behaves). Unfortunately, you need to choose between Flandre's secondaries doing direct damage or starting fires if you choose to specialize into them which makes them work at cross purposes. Firing Arcs: Flandre's firing arcs are okay. They're not great with the majority of her fire being aimed towards her broadside (40º off her bow or stern). This doesn't make them the best for taking on an aggressive brawling stance. So even before we get into whether or not secondary commander skill builds are worthwhile, Flandre's secondaries are severely flawed. Stock, they're good at starting fires but that will only really work against enemy battleships. Against destroyers and cruisers, you're not going to stack significant fire damage (if at all, given their short Damage Control Party) and you need to invest into Inertial Fuse for HE Shells if you want to have even a chance to directly hurt most of the enemy vessels you'll be coming across. Because of this, outside of PVE-modes, you're never going to get as much mileage out of Flandre's secondaries to make the skill investment pay off. I supoose the one caveat there is that no one will really be expecting Flandre's secondaries to reach out and slap them at over 11km, so you might be able to catch someone off-guard But the simple fact of the matter is that commander skills cannot band-aid mediocre secondaries they way they used to. The disparity in accuracy is so significant between the old ways and the new that you're just not going to land the hits necessary to make Flandre's secondaries pay off -- especially when compared to a more traditional Dead Eye or survivability build. Summary Flandre's weapon systems are C-grade at best but that's only if I'm feeling generous. I would rather be using Gascogne's or Roma's armaments. What does that tell you? VERDICT: Blech. Durability Hit Points: 75,400 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 32mm / 19mm / 32mm / 32mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 50mm anti-torpedo bulge + 350mm belt + 50mm turtleback + 50mm citadel wall. Torpedo Damage Reduction: 44% The insert here shows Flandre's citadel and lower hull armour geometries. The citadel's roof sits between the two 370mm plates and has a 40mm roof. Flandre is a bit of a roller coaster ride when it comes to her protection. Flandre's Repair Party has one fewer charge than most other battleships. That's . Flandre has an enormous hit point pool. That's . All of her structural plate fails to exceed 32mm, making her highly vulnerable to cruiser-calibre HE fire. That's . She has excellent anti-torpedo protection! That's . Her turtleback isn't angled steeply enough to ricochet incoming fire. That's . She has many layers of thick armour protecting her citadel. That's . She doesn't come with a free Frogurt™. That's . Go figure, a given ship has both strengths and weaknesses. How nuanced. Of course, if writing ship reviews for six years has taught me anything, it's that the internet hates nuance. People want their facts delivered in grossly oversimplified sound bites, preferably packaged in memeable formats. So what's the skinny with Flandre? It's not good news on the whole. Yes, she has a lot of health. Yes, she has good torpedo protection. Yes she's got a lot of layered armour protection around her citadel. However, she does not repulse incoming fire well. Angled in, she can bounce AP shells, at least so long as shells don't strike her large superstructure. There's enough weird geometry going on there that she cannot guarantee over-penetrations, even from battleship calibre rounds. The 100mm barbettes of her secondaries are more than capable of fusing even Shikishima's AP shells, so Flandre may end up taking some big, meaty hits that way. Furthermore, she has no hope of stopping an HE farm upon her person. Finally, her modest 20km reach of her main battery guns means that she usually has to place herself within range of cruisers in order to be able to fire back at her opponents, so you're almost constantly at risk of trading fire. And so you're forced to lean hard on that big health pool of her's. Do savour the little victories where you can: Feel good when that combination of her torpedo bulge and belt armour bounces a long-distance AP shell or eats a SAP round. Rejoice that you took almost half damage from that Japanese torpedo that caught you amidships. Be glad when that battleship shell gets trolled successfully by her weird, layered citadel protection. Those are the good moments. But overall, she'll be giving up a lot of health over the course of a match. Despite having more starting hit points than any other tier VIII battleship, the loss of one Repair Party charge drops Flandre down the list in terms of potential health. Still, don't overlook that chunky hit point total. While it does mean that she shrugs off penetration hits better than her peers, HE spamming ships love her for the big damage totals they get from their fires. VERDICT: If I'm in an HE spamming ship, I am totally focus-firing any Flandre I see for easy big-numbers from the ensuing fires. Agility Top Speed: 33.5 knots Turning Radius: 910m 7Rudder Shift Time: 16.6 seconds 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 4.2º/s at 25 knots Flandre's only saving grace here is her high-top speed. And that top speed is great, do not mistake me. Her 33.5 knots is downright amazing and barring being run down by smaller ships, Georgia or French battleships, she's fast enough to fully control engagement distances. But this is but one of many failing attributes that her speed must band-aid. Her turning circle radius is atrocious for a tier VIII battleship but her speed allows her to maintain at least a passable rate of rotation in spite of this. Similarly, a higher top speed provides a greater variety of possible velocities at which she can be moving, which in turn can foul up enemy gunnery estimations. Given Flandre's soft outer skin, avoiding incoming fire altogether is really her only recourse for reliably avoiding damage. What disappoints me most here is the lack of an Engine Boost consumable so commonplace on other French battleships (though admittedly not universal). While Flandre's top speed is amazing, Gascogne and Champagne both gave better flexiblity grace of their consumables, on top of being more agile overall. Flandre doesn't have bad agility, but she's definitely the weakest of the four tier VIII French battleships. Flandre has enough speed to get her both into and out of trouble. It's all on how you use it. While Flandre's rate of turn isn't terrible, her turning radius is large. She's spared a worse agility rating thanks to her high top speed. VERDICT: Only passable thanks to her good top speed. Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: 6+4 explosions for 1,400 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.8km. Long Ranged (up to 5.8km): 276.5dps at 75% accuracy Medium Ranged (up to 3.5km): 115.5dps at 75% accuracy Short Ranged (up to 2.5km): 73.5dps at 70% accuracy Flandre has two nice elements going for her when it comes to AA defence: She puts out a ridiculous amount of flak. She has a lot of sustained DPS focused into her long-range batteries. The division of Flandre's sustained AA DPS feels downright German. So much of it is focused within her long range betteries to the deficit of the efficiency of medium and small calibre weapons. Flandre's AA defence is comparable to (but worse than) a stock Alsace layout to put it in perspective, overall coming out about as efficient as Richelieu's. However, the massive weight of fire located in her large-calibre weapons front-loads her damage against incoming aircraft, making them feel more effectove than their numbers might otherwise indicate. This makes Flandre an excellent escort-vessel, able to provide effective, long-range support to allies. This combines with the fearsome number of flak clouds she puts out. Though these are individually less powerful than many of her contemporaries, she puts out so damn many of them. While you're not likely to catch an expert CV with one of them, the sheer volume will foul up more novice players and clobber bots hilariously. Look at all of that long-range AA DPS for Flandre! It's too bad she doesn't follow it up with medium and short-ranged AA DPS. Oh well. Those ships marked with an asterix include reskinned clones that share their AA values. VERDICT: Not bad at all. Flandre is definitely a friendly ship you want to hug if your own AA is a bit lacking. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 16.2km / 12.73km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 12.09km / 9.79km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 14.93km Maximum Firing Range: 20km There's not too much to go over here. Flandre has decent surface detection for a tier VIII battleship, but it's nothing remarkable. She doesn't bring any bonus detection consumables to the table, nor is she capable of boosting her main battery range. Yup, pretty normal. All you really need to know is her Dead Eye window is pretty comfortable but you're not likely to sneak up on anything. Have a data dump sorted by base surface detection range. Final Evaluation I was going to make a bad joke using John McCrae's famous poem. When Flanders is fielded, you've got to go On the A-line, or the back row To own some face; and with Dead Eye beg RNG and then ask why you get scarce hits upon your foe. Yeah, I think I'll stop there. Flandre! Is she good? Heck to the no, she is not good. Comfy? Yes. Adequate? Sure. Good? No way. Look, Roma is the better boat, no matter how you slice it. She has better protection, better guns, better concealment and better agility. The only thing that sets Flandre apart is her support AA-firepower and her big chunk of starting HP. So in matches where the damage you take comes at you all at once, sure, Flandre might survive where Roma might not. Maybe. Roma's more likely to shrug off the hits in the first place and go undetected. Roma's also better at dodging. So would you throw money at Roma? No? Then Flandre isn't worth it. Even if you stick within French lines, Gascogne is the more interesting vessel. Go back and look over all of those charts and graphs. Look at how Flandre stacks up to Roma and Gascogne. Roma has the additional benefit of not suffering from a commander-skill identity crisis. Though neither ship has secondaries worth upgrading, Flandre and Gascogne might fool you into thinking that they are. And Roma gets a beer-pope-hat. I really don't think I need to say more than that. Mouse out. So cool.
  13. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review - Hizen

    The following is a review of Hizen, the tier IX Japanese battleship and reward vessel for the Christmas 2020 Dockyard event. This ship was provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes at no cost to myself -- I didn't have to grind or spend doubloons on it (but I did anyway). To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as of patch 0.10.2. Please be aware that her performance may change in the future. Quick Summary: A Japanese battleship armed with twelve, slow-firing 410mm guns. PROS Thick lateral citadel protection. Armed with twelve 410mm guns, giving her the equivalent of a tier X alpha strike potential. Comfortable fire angles on her main battery guns. CONS Soft structural armour making her highly vulnerable to cruiser-calibre HE spam. Terrible (AWFUL) base reload time of 38 seconds per salvo. Slow for a high-tier battleship with a top speed of 28.2kts. Terrible anti-aircraft firepower. Visible from space. Her Repair Party has one fewer charges than a standard version of the consumable. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / CASUAL / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / MODERATE / High / Extreme Hizen offers stereotypical Japanese battleship game-play; the kind of stuff you cut your teeth on back with Myogi and Kongo back at tiers IV and V. Namely: keep back, stick to AP as much as possible and protect your citadel. It's not quite as idiot proof as say British or German battleship game play (which definitely deserve a "Simple" rating for most of their ships), it is pretty bare bones in terms of complexity. The biggest hurdle to overcome is reliable long-range gunnery. Her slow rate of fire punishes novice players in this manner, with every missed salvo hurting that much more. Sadly, this same lack of complexity reduced the carry value of this ship. Hizen doesn't brawl well. She's not fast or flexible. Expert players can make good use of kiting skills, ammunition choices and knowing where on the map to properly set up, but there are faster, tougher and overall better ships which can do Hizen's job and more besides. Options Consumables Hizen's consumables are normal for a Japanese battleship barring her Repair Party which has one fewer charges than expected. Her Damage Control Party is standard for a Japanese battleship with its 10 second active period. It has unlimited charges and an 80 second reset timer. Hizen's Repair Party is a disappointment, starting with only 3 charges instead of the usual 4. It heals back up to 14% of the ship's health over 28 seconds, queuing 10% of citadel damage, 50% of penetration damage and 100% of everything else. It has an 80s reset timer. In her third slot, you have the choice between a Spotter Aircraft and a Catapult Fighter. The former comes with four charges, increases her main battery range by 20% (up to 24.4km standard or 28.3km with Gun Fire Control Modification 2) for 100 seconds and has a 240 second reset timer. The latter launches 4 fighters which stay on station, orbiting the ship at a range of 3km for 60 seconds. It comes with three charges and has a 90 second reset timer. Upgrades Hizen's upgrade choices are bog-standard for a not-brawling, un-American, high-tier battleship Start with Main Armaments Modification 1 Mitigate fires with Damage Control System Modification 1 in slot two. You're a sniper, so grab Aiming System Modification 1 in slot three. Reduce fire and flooding damage with Damage Control System Modification 2 in slot four. Concealment Expert is still the best choice in slot 5. Boring, I know. Main Battery Modification 3 is the best choice for slot 6. Hizen's 38 second reload is appalling and you can reduce this 38 second warcrime down to a 33.44s political oopsie-daisy. However, if you want to buff your range from 20.33km to 23.58km instead, then Gun Fire Control System Modification 2 isn't a terrible choice. Commander Skills The more things change, the more they stay the same. There are a couple of "must have" skills for Hizen, namely Dead Eye (tier 4), Fire Prevention Expert (also tier 4) and Basics of Survivability (tier 3). Collecting these three skills is a must. After that it's down to recommended skills for you to mix and match to make your ideal build. At tier 1: Gun Feeder or Emergency Repair Specialist are your best choices. I'd only take one at this tier. At tier 2: Grease the Gears and Priority Target are the ones to focus on. On one of my builds, I grabbed both but this compromised the high-tier skills I could take. I prefer the latter to the former. At tier 3: After you take Basics of Survivability you're going to want Adrenaline Rush to attack her awful reload time. At tier 4: Dead Eye, Emergency Repair Expert, Concealment Expert and Fire Prevention Expert are all good skills. For Hizen, Concealment Expert is probably the weakest of the four while Dead Eye and Fire Prevention Expert are the strongest. Mix and match as you please. If you intend to take three tier 4 skills, you will end up with a build like the following: Gun Feeder (1) Priority Target (2) Adrenaline Rush (3), Basics of Survivability (3) Dead Eye (4), Emergency Repair Expert (4), Fire Prevention Expert (4). Camouflage Hizen has access to two kinds of camouflage. Type 10 and War Paint - Hizen. They provide identical bonuses of: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -20% to post-battle service costs. +100% to experience gains.  Hizen's Type 10 camouflage offers an alternate palette if you have completed the appropriate section of the Isoroku Yamamoto collection. In port, Hizen's War Paint camouflage will have 60 sailors out on deck in parade formation (I think that's what it's called). Firepower Main Battery: Twelve 410mm guns in 4x3 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration. Secondary Battery: Nine 155mm guns in 3x3 turrets and sixteen 127mm mounts in 8x2 turrets. Secondary Specialist Musashi Hizen's secondaries are crap. Hizen shares a similar secondary armament to Musashi barring the addition of two, faster-firing 127mm/40 guns per side. While the range of Hizen's secondaries is perfectly functional, their rate of fire is is slow. Were it not for the improved HE shell performance on Japanese battleships, her DPM would be in the doldrums with their crap reload. As it is, individual hits are chunky enough that on a raw DPM chart, she holds pace with Pommern and Friedrich der Große but with (much) worse fire angles and accuracy. Thankfully, the 0.10.0 skill rework made secondary-builds even less optimal than they once were, so you should have zero inclination on specializing Hizen down this route. Cross-Eyed Sniper It's all too easy to myopically focus on Hizen's 38 second reload and dwell on nothing but. However, she is decidedly more flawed than this mere lapse in reload-speed. Ostensibly, Hizen has a tier X armament that has been shoe-horned in to tier IX by nerfing the crap out of it. Wargaming managed this by giving Hizen's artillery three cardinal sins: Her reload is butts. Her accuracy is butts. Her range is butts. Hizen has slightly better penetration than Amagi (and her tier VII sister Ashitaka as well as Nagato). This is owing to a higher muzzle velocity and slightly reduced shell drag which provides better energy preservation over distance. This doesn't quite hold a candle to the punch of Izumo (and Bajie's) improved weapons which have more velocity, Krupp and even less drag. However, Hizen's reduced range makes it difficult to fully capitalize on this advantage. Let's start with the last thing first and begin with her range. Barring the new Italian battleships, Hizen has the worst range among the tier IX battleships, sitting 50m behind the Sovetsky Soyuz-sisters. After that, most of them best her by at least 1km with the American ships (aside from Georgia) being particular stand-outs given that they'll balloon their range up with third-slot upgrades to increase the gap even further. This range deficit might not be so bad if: (a) Hizen had better concealment... which she doesn't and... (b) Hizen had better armour protection ... which she also doesn't. Her 19.33km range may not seem like that big of a flaw; after all, it's just one upgrade away from being corrected and her Spotter Aircraft can provide some temporary relief. However, her lack of reach makes taking an influential, central map position more difficult. Again, her Spotter Aircraft may be enough to make up the gap, but if it's on cooldown when you need it most, the opportunity is wasted. Furthermore, if you upgrade her range, you then suffer the full force of her horrible reload. This largely relegates Hizen to straight up, heads-on engagements or waiting forever and a day fire between salvos if she does buff her range to enable flanking shots. While going heads-up works fine against smaller vessels (her 410mm guns are perfectly capable of overmatching the bows of any light, heavy or super-cruiser she comes across) she is less capable when facing other battleships. I make a lot of lists when putting together reviews. Notepad is my friend. This is the range of the tier VIII, IX and X battleships in order. 180 AP shells fired at 15km at a stationary Fuso-bot that has no camouflage. Shots are coming in from right to left, with the Fuso-bot effectively bow-tanking. All three firing vessels used Aiming System Modification 1 but did not use Dead Eye. Hizen's gunnery is a lot less comfortable than either Amagi's or Izumo's. It's frustrating how badly she scatters her shots like a shotgun blast. Hizen's gunnery woes compound further with her dispersion antics. While Japanese battleships have reduced horizontal dispersion over distance, their vertical dispersion at high tiers is much less forgiving. The overall area that Hizen blows her loads over is enormous and reminds me very much of some of my gunnery tests with Italian battleships. Admittedly, it's not as bad as that but after a few frustrating matches, it was hard not to draw the comparisson. Couple this with Hizen's 1.7 sigma value and her reliability just isn't there. For a ship with such a painfully long reload, watching your shells disperse to the four corners of the globe is infuriating (doubly so if you aren't using Main Battery Modification 3). Hizen's broadside of twelve guns will usually ensure that something hits, but it's easy to be blinded to their reduced efficiency that way. Hizen is slower firing and less accurate besides and this really hurts her damage output. Dead Eye is a must. Don't leave port without it and keep as far back as you can so that it's always working. Hizen's appalling reload time means that even with twelve guns she simply keeps pace with the eight and nine-gun armed ships at her tier. So, she's comparable DPM to an Iowa-class but with bigger alpha strike potential ... and worse accuracy. Japanese battleship HE shells do almost as much damage as British battleship HE shells. They just don't have the increased penetration or high fire chance of the British rounds. Which brings us now to Hizen's defining trait: her 38 second reload. Her twelve 410mm gun armament should stand out more, but it's caged and butchered behind this awful reload. Main Battery Modification 3 corrects this somewhat, morphing it down to a "mere" 33.4 seconds. With so many battleships at her tier firing between seven and ten seconds faster, Hizen's trades are dirt-poor. Despite what the DPM charts will tell you, her awful dispersion further throttles her damage output. She may appear to be able to keep pace (or be slightly better than) some of the nine-gun armed ships but the reality is that barring some spectacular RNGeebus-blessed alpha strikes, Hizen just doesn't keep pace. This is born out by performance stats where her damage totals are rather middling for such a large broadside. She's not terrible, but it would be a mistake to imagine that her large armament conferred any kind of advatage with all of these other flaws stacked against her. Hizen's fire angles are soooo close to being ideal, if only her rearward angles were a little more tight. Keep this fact in mind when we discuss kiting. Taking Main Battery Modification 3 guts her turret rotation rate from 4º/s down to 3.5º/s, allowing her to out-turn her turrets which is annoying. Summary The premise of Hizen is delivering these massive, twelve-gun alpha strikes at the expense of sustained fire. But she works at cross-purposes to herself with a lack of range and accuracy to facilitate dropping those bombs across people's decks. For such a long reload, another kilometer or two's worth of reach would have made all of the difference, allowing her to cross-fire from a central position. Her bad dispersion could have been swallowed as a throttling measure to keep her reliability down, necessitating taking several bites at the apple. As it stands, Hizen can put out some respectable damage and she can be an impressive artillery platform, but that's largely owing to RNGeebus being your close, personal friend and the Reds playing like idiots -- neither of these things should be counted on. Hizen's firepower doesn't open up opportunities. She's forced to have them handed to her. This kind of passivity is frustrating and uninteresting. VERDICT: Oh boy, "worse than it appears, but not so bad that it's terrible" summarizes Hizen's gunnery best. Durability Hit Points: 75,900 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 32mm / 19mm / 32mm / 32mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 356mm belt + 108mm to 115mm turtleback Torpedo Damage Reduction: 37% Hizen's defence is ... well, meh. (This uninspired sentence has been brought to you by: Chemical Dependence™. "Bring me caffeine or I'll eat your skin.") Hizen's armour protection is almost reasonable -- meaning that it's surprising how bad it is because it fails to meet even the low-set bar of Musashi and Izumo. I am shocked (shocked!) that Hizen's amidship deck is only 32mm while Musashi and Izumo both manage 57mm. Combined with her massive superstructure, Hizen is an easy damage farm for any cruiser-calibre HE shells. So that's unfortunate. She also inherits Izumo's buttacular shell-trap when she tries to kite. That stepped freeboard is an easy opening for incoming AP rounds to strike and there's no way to angle it to prevent that from happening. This is a shame because there's some very handsome extended waterline belt stretching out towards her butt which should foil attempts to penetrate her when angled. But all one needs to get around that is simply aim a little higher. You can't count on high-tier players to constantly derp shells into the waterline anyway. Bots will, players won't. Unless you're planning on using Hizen exclusively in co-op, her armour scheme gives away a lot of penetration damage, even when angled. It's best not to present any kind of target in the first place because her hit points drain fast when she gets focused. Which brings up the other thing: Hizen's Repair Party isn't good. While she has a very chunky hit point pool, having one fewer charge of her heals with no improvements to the consumable in compensation just means that she has less staying power than comparable battleships. Building for fire and flooding mitigation is doubly important because she simply isn't capable of recovering from them as readily as everyone else. Her citadel protection is ... well, like everything else, it's not great. It's slightly improved over Izumo's own, but only slightly. Given the sheer amount of metal in place, Hizen is generally safe from Citadel hits if she camps out at her maximum range. However, there are a few battleships out there that can manage in excess of 500mm of penetration out to 20km and those ones can still punish Hizen for giving up her sides, so be careful of flanking fire. Hizen herself doesn't quite have the range to comfortably sit back any further without compromising her already terrible rate of fire. Finally, there's some funny geometry going on with here forward citadel protection with the barbette of A-turret plugging a "hole" in the transverse bulkhead of Hizen's forward magazine. While this may present a "cheek" weakness similar to Yamato, I never received a citadel hit through it (that I'm aware of), nor was I able to generate citadel hits on the few opportunities I had to test it out in my games. It might be a weakness, but it wasn't easily replicable in my experience, so be aware that it might be a weakness, just not as enormous as Yamato's blushing cheeks. Overall, I can't call Hizen a durable ship. She has a lot of hit points, sure, but she doesn't hold up under concerted punishment. With homogeneous 32mm worth of structural plate, Hizen is an easy HE damage farm. Her citadel protection is improved over Izumo's, at least. But it's not so much better that I got super excited. Well, someone's got to be at the bottom. Hizen's effective health is lower than expected due to her missing a charge of her Repair Party. VERDICT: Not appallingly bad, but barely adequate. You would think for a ship with such troubled firepower that she'd be amazing here but nope. Agility Top Speed: 28.2 knots Turning Radius: 880m 7Rudder Shift Time: 17.1 seconds 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 3.8º/s at 21.2 knots Were it not for the other Japanese battleships, Hizen would be the least agile ship at her tier. This is largely owing to her sub-30 knot top speed which, when combined with an average turning radius for a tier IX battleship, she ends up feeling very sluggish. This is compounded by her slow rudder-shift time, though at higher tiers, such an affliction becomes increasingly commonplace. There are only two curiousities when it comes to Hizen's agility (which I rate as "poor" overall). The first is that she turns a bit more tightly than her in-port turning stat would suggest. She's closer to an 870m radius than an 880m. But as this still falls into my +/- 10m margin of error, I'll still consider the in-port stat accurate enough. The other oddity is more of a new trend where Wargaming have divorced themselves from top speeds that end in either full or half-knot values. It's only within the last year that we've seen ships like Hizen that end in something other than zero or a point-five. Neither of these curiousities have any redeeming value on Hizen's poor performance in this category, though. For nerds like me? They're interesting but nothing else. Hizen's agility is pretty trashy. VERDICT: Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: 4 + 1 explosions for 1,540 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.8km. Long Ranged (up to 5.8km): 105dps at 75% accuracy Short Ranged (up to 2.5km): 304.5dps at 85% accuracy Crap. Seriously. At least this is comfortably familiar. A Japanese battleship with bad AA? Totally unsurprising. VERDICT: No. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 17.38km / 13.66km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 12.96km / 10.5km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 17.01km Maximum Firing Range: Between 19.33km and 23.58km (max of 28.30km with Spotter Aircraft). Hizen is a big, fat battleship with a big, fat surface detection range. Aside from her Spotter Aircraft she brings absolutely nothing of value to the table here. She is a chunktacular travesty, visible from Mars and suffering for it besides. She needs more space than most to activate Dead Eye and she hasn't the range to capitalize on it either. This forces you to choose between boosting her range with Gun Fire Control System Modification 2, thus suffering the full wrath of her 38 second reload or coping with having a smaller activation window if you buff her rate of fire with Main Battery Modification 3. Hizen has similar tolerances as Marco Polo in this regard, which is pretty damning. VERDICT: Terrible and made worse that you need to choose between a bad reload or bad range in order to counter it. Final Evaluation Hizen is a Japanese Minnesota -- slow, fat and with a main battery armament that somehow manages to be disappointing despite its huge size. Being disappointing does not preclude Hizen from being effective, however. World of Warships is designed in such a way that even an aberrant, mediocre vessel can still perform in the hands of someone with the inclination (and enthusiasm) to squeeze some numbers out of it. The question becomes how much you have to work for it and Hizen is going to make you toil. Nothing for Hizen comes easy and her lists of serious advantages begins and ends with "twelve 410mm guns". I would much rather play Amagi at tier VIII or Izumo at tier IX than Hizen. Their advantages are much more clear cut, with Amagi offering almost as much firepower with slightly worse protection and penetration but increased agility and Izumo having great range, penetration and accuracy in exchange for slightly less potential DPM. Hizen doesn't slot well between them and feels clunky as a result. For those who have read my short summary of Hizen, I gave her a GARBAGE rating and I stand by it.: I think she performs fine, but I do not like this ship which is all I need to slap that label on her. She was not worth the grind, in my opinion, and worst of all, she's not fun to play. Those who failed to get her over 2020-2021's New Years aren't really missing out.
  14. Dunkerque overtaking Strasbourg. The following is a review of Dunkerque & Strasbourg, the tier VI & VII French battleships. They were both 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 0.9.12. Please be aware that their performance may change in the future. I couldn't help myself. I saw an opportunity to not only review a new ship but to update an older one too. Maybe I'll make this a regular thing going into the future whenever Wargaming releases a comparable sister-ship -- review the new addition and touch base on an older one. It seems a bit ambitious to declare it as the new norm, but we'll see what happens. At any rate, this is a review of both Dunkerque-class battleships: Dunkerque at tier VI and her new sister-ship, Strasbourg at tier VII. The two ships are almost identical which raises concerns on balance. Strasbourg is Dunkerque in almost every metric that matters short of tiering and access to the Main Battery Reload Consumable. One can't help but ask the following questions: Is Dunkerque so good at tier VI that she can be effectively cloned and placed at tier VII with little issue? Just how influential are the small changes made between the two ships? Is Main Battery Reload Booster that powerful on a 330m armed platform? Is Strasbourg worth the grind or should you just stick with Dunkerque? Let's find some answers! Quick Summary: Fast, lightly armoured battlecruisers with all eight of it's quick-firing 330mm guns mounted in two quad-turrets on their bows. Strasbourg has access to the Main Battery Reload Booster consumable. PROS All forward gun arrangement simplifies maximizing firepower. Fast reload (26s Dunkerque, 25s Strasbourg) Good HE shell performance and fire setting. Comfortable gun handling. Long ranged with good ballistics over distance. Solid agility with a good top speed and rate of turn. Strasbourg Specific: Has access to the Main Battery Reload Booster consumable. CONS Unable to fire her main battery guns directly rearward (for some inexplicable reason!) Lightly armoured, highly vulnerable to AP overmatch and HE shells. Exposed, high-water citadel with thin belt armour. Terrible anti-aircraft firepower. Large surface detection range. Strasbourg Specific: Small hit point pool for a tier VII battleship. Summary of Differences If you're a crusty ol' veteran with playing Dunkerque, so experienced in Marine Nationale ways battlecruiser ways that you serenade baguettes, you don't need me to tell you what she's like. To expedite things for these players, here's a list of all of the differences between the two battleships, from the significant to the inane. These are listed Dunkerque vs Strasbourg: Tier: VI vs VII (duh) Economy: VI vs VII (higher tiered ships earn more credits and experience for the same actions) Fire Resistance Coefficient: 23.31% vs 29.97% Superstructure HP: 1,800 vs 1,700 Belt Armour: 225mm vs 283mm Rear Upper Athwartship: 198mm vs 210mm Turtleback: 40mm vs 50mm Turret Faces: 330mm vs 360mm Turret Backs: 335mm vs 352mm Turret Floor: 150mm vs 160mm Sigma: 1.7 vs 1.8 Main Battery Reload: 26s vs 25s Main Battery Range: 18.21km vs 19.1km A-Turret's Fire Arcs: 310º vs 294º Number of 37mm twin AA mounts: 5 (18dps) vs 4 (16dps) Flak Explosion Damage: 1,330 vs 1,400 Main Battery Reload Booster: no vs yes Tonnage: 35,500 vs 36,308 Permanent Camos: 4 vs 2 Overview Skill Floor: Simple / CASUAL / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Difficult Both ships are wonderfully uncomplicated to use. The all-forward gun arrangement helps keep new-players safe, mitigating the need to expose the ship's broadside in order to maximize firepower. Their long range also helps keep new players safe. The ship's speed is also a blessing -- fast enough to get the ship where it needs to go but not being so fast that she can easily out-strip support as new players are wont to do. Were the ship easier to hide or if it had a better protection scheme, it might have warranted a "Simple" rating. There's a lot of strong carry potential with these ships. The combination of good speed and a relatively fast reload allows these ships to wreak all kinds of mayhem. Strasbourg's Main Battery Reload Booster is particularly delicious for punishing exposed enemies, be they a briefly lit lolibote or a high-tier battleship that needs to be burned. Unfortunately, they are painfully soft-skinned and very difficult to hide which are both strong limiting factors. The lack of overmatch potential on their 330mm guns is also a bit frustrating, though proper ammunition use can help mitigate this drawback. Options Both ships share similar customization principles. The marked difference between the two is in their consumables (naturally), but otherwise they can be built the same. Consumables Both ships have the same, standard Damage Control Party for French battleships. This has a 15 second active period, an 80 second reset timer and unlimited charges. Similarly, they share the same Repair Party which heals back up to 14% of the ship's starting hit points per charge. It queues 50% of all penetration damage, 10% of citadel damage and 100% of everything else. It has an 80 second reset timer. Their last shared consumables are the option between a Catapult Fighter and Spotter Aircraft. Dunkerque mounts these in her third slot and Strasbourg her fourth. The latter consumable increases their range by 20% for 100 seconds with a 240 second reset timer. Both ships begin with 4 charges. The former consumable starts with only three charges, deploying a pair of fighters which orbit the ship for 60 seconds. It has a 90 second reset timer. What sets Strasbourg apart is her access to Main Battery Reload Booster in her third slot. This reduces the reload time of her main battery guns by half for 20 seconds. She comes with four charges to start and it has an 180 second reset timer. Upgrades Both ships use the same build. In your first slot, Main Armaments Modification 1 is arguably optimal given the relative fragility of the Dunkerque-class's main weapons. Nothing sucks more than losing one of only two turrets! Otherwise, the two special upgrades, Spotter Aircraft Modification 1 and Damage Control Party Modification 1 may be used instead. They can be purchased for 17,000 from the Armory . Damage Control System Modification 1 is the only upgrade worth considering in slot 2. In slot three, Aiming System Modification 1 is optimal. But if you want, you can trade that out for faster turret traverse with Main Battery Modification 2 but this has much less benefit than decreasing the dispersion area. There are interesting choices for these ships in the fourth slot. Damage Control System Modification 2 is the most straight-forward and optimal, reducing fire and flooding damage. You can naturally opt to improve their handling by taking Steering Gears Modification 1 -- their high rate of turn and long range does lend them well to active dodging. However, given the disposition of these ships and their love of hugging islands, there's some worth in taking Propulsion Modification 1 for better acceleration from a dead stop. It's up to you based on your preferred style of play. When in doubt, though, default to Damage Control System Modification 2. Commander Skills Both ships can easily make use of the same commander. The ideal build differs somewhat from the default boring ol' battleship build in that Dunkerque and Strasbourg both benefit considerably from the Expert Loader skill. Making room for it can leave you with a skill point leftover which isn't as optimal as other builds. Oh well. Start with choosing between Priority Target and Incoming Fire Alert. I much prefer the former, but it's up to you. Grab the skills circled in green next to complete your 10pt build: Adrenaline Rush, Basics of Survivability and Fire Prevention. Next double-back and grab the skills in the red squares: Concealment Expert, Superintendent and Expert Loader. The skills in blue squares are nice to have but you may struggle to fit them in with the above recommendations. Mix and match to your tastes. Camouflage There are multiple camouflage options between the two ships. Dunkerque has Type 10, Fleur d'Acier (Steel Flower), Azur Lane and Mid-Autumn Festival camouflage patterns. Strasbourg has Type 10 and Winter Holiday camouflage patterns. All of the differences are cosmetic, providing the identical bonuses of: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -10% to post-battle service costs. +50% to experience gains. As an older (and popular) ship, Dunkerque has had a large number of premium camouflage types -- which is hella fun. I really like her Azur Lane camo. It's nice and sharp with the red and white contrast. Strasbourg's camo options are much more subdued. I'm not a fan of her Holiday camo. Firepower Main Battery: Eight 330mm/52 guns in 2x4 turrets mounted on the bow in a A-B superfiring configuration. Secondary Battery: Twenty 130mm guns in 5x4 turrets with two turrets per side and one mounted on the centre line facing the stern. Lemme preface this by saying that I'm not going to talk about the secondaries off the Dunkerque-class. They're not worth specializing into at the moment with their limited fire arcs, to say nothing of how poorly these ships fare in a brawl. Onto the main event! Big Guns, Bad Habits & Bae Bote I admit I have a bit of a bias against smaller-caliber battleship guns at the mid-tiers. This stems from my early days in World of Warships, having fallen in love with the overmatch potential of Warspite's 381mm guns tier VI. Bae bote's artillery, while not idiot proof, certainly lent itself well to firing nothing but a homogeneous loadout of AP shells. With all of the heavy lifting those Royal Navy 15" guns could do, I still remember being disdainful of Dunkerque's paltry 330mm guns when I first reviewed her back in late summer of 2016. They had no overmatch potential so they were OBVIOUSLY garbage, right? I'm somewhat less naive than I was way back when. Only somewhat, mind you. I still have a bit of a blind spot with bae-bote and battleship caliber guns with large-swathes of overmatch potential. That's something these guns lack but that doesn't make them bad by any means. There's a lot of good things about the combat performance of these weapons. They have excellent ballistics over range. They have a fast reload. They're decent fire starters. They have good AP penetration. AP penetration values drawn from Wargaming's Armada 2 video on Dunkerque from August 2016. Dunkerque and Strasbourg have some very respectable AP penetration values for guns of their caliber. There are two drawbacks with these weapons to keep in mind: They have French (and Italian) gunnery dispersion. They lack overmatch potential with their AP rounds. There's not much to be said about the first flaw. French battleship dispersion is the worst in the game currently, being slightly worse than that of American, British and German battleships. This leads to wonky shell groupings from these guns, especially at the long ranges Strasbourg is so often forced to engage. Having both guns on the bow in quad mounts does make them feel a little more accurate, at least in terms of the initial outbound shell clusters. However, this is more of an illusion than a practical advantage. Still, they have average sigma values, so within their dispersion elipse (larger as it is) their shell fall is pretty standard, though the difference between the two ships in this regard is largely indistinguishable. The best players in the game struggle to discern the difference between 0.2 sigma in standard game play, to say nothing of the 0.1 sigma difference between Strasbourg (1.8 sigma) and Dunkerque (1.7 sigma). Overall, the guns feel reasonable with their accuracy though they will troll you. Thankfully, their rate of fire helps alieviate the feeling of being cheated. One of the best fixes for bad dispersion is to reload often. When individual salvos don't feel like they matter as much, it's easier to forgive a few stray shells. Dunkerque's 26 second reload feels very comfortable -- more than making up for low individual shell damage. The extra second shaved off Strasbourg's guns is nicer still, though like her dispersion you might not feel the difference. Short reload times on battleships is a hella powerful advantage, even with the slightly lower alpha-strike from their hits. Battleship gunnery is incredibly opportunist, with citadel hit "money shots" making or breaking their play experience. Dunkerque's guns are more likely to be reloaded (or almost reloaded) when an opportunity presents itself. Strasbourg's are all but guaranteed. Like Jean Bart before her, Strasbourg's access to the Main Battery Reload Booster consumable is a game-changer. She will have her guns reloaded when it matters most, ensuring she can put shells downrange at vulnerable targets and best capitalize on the opportunities presented -- whether this be blowing out the citadel of a Christmas-Makarov or stacking fires back onto a Hizen that just blew its Damage Control Party. If Strasbourg's guns had better overmatch potential, they'd be downright oveprowered. The lack of overmatch potential is a problem shared by all battleship rounds between 283mm and 356mm in caliber. While the Dunkerque-class can overmatch 23mm of armour with their AP rounds, in practical terms, 19mm plate is the last effective armour value they can best at any angle. This makes most tier V, VI and VII cruisers vulnerable to being overmatched by these AP shells, but only the very-light cruisers at tiers VIII+. Like with dispersion, this is more of an issue for Strasbourg as a consequence of her higher tiering. It's only the extremities of tier V battleships that these AP rounds can overmatch and only then if the ships in question don't have dispersed armour schemes which gets a little more common at lower tiers. Against any other target, both Dunkerque and Strasbourg will want to reach for the HE rounds instead. To this end, I've found having the Expert Loader skill very handy if you can spare the single skill point for it. Outside of issues where they might ricochet from striking a plate they cannot overmatch at too steep an angle, Dunkerque and Strasbourg's AP shells perform well, with very respectable AP penetration values across all engagement ranges, with even better penetration than New Mexico's 356mm AP rounds. It's not quite high enough to contest higher-tiered battleship citadels at ranges of 15km or beyond, but it's good enough. Dunkerque may not appear to have impressive DPM, but she is more likely to be able to fire all of her guns than most other battleships -- especially while under fire herself. Her all-forward gun arrangement allows her to maximize her firepower while still maintaining a defensive nose-in aspect. Strasbourg is listed twice. The one with the asterix denotes her using her Main Battery Reload Booster for 20s. Strasbourg's faster rate of fire gives her comparable DPM placement to Dunkerque, tier-for-tier. However, her Main Battery Reload Booster takes things to a whole other level, allowing her to punish opponents when they give her an opportunistic shot. Both ships are decent fire starters. Strasbourg flirts with Royal Navy levels when she activates her consumable (again, denoted by an asterix). Gun Layout Dunkerque's A-turret fire arcs are gorgeous. Her B-turret are much less so. This makes her B-turret a good indicator for over-angling with Dunkerque when firing to the rear. So long as A-turret can engage but B-turret cannot, she's still in auto-ricochet territory -- you know, provided that the incoming AP shells don't simply overmatch her hull. The all-bow mounted gun arrangement of the Dunkerque-class is their most striking feature. In World of Warships, this has more advantages than drawbacks. Dunkerque was not the first battleship in the game with this layout. However she was the first battleship in the game to have all of her guns capable of firing directly forward. Thus she was the first battleship in the game that could "bow tank" while still maximizing her firepower. At the time of her release, it was easy to underestimate just how effective this was and how effective it remains in World of Warships. It is very easy to maximize firepower with Dunkerque and Strasbourg. Barring kiting situations, it is easier to bring all of their guns to bear than on any other battleship. This is further facilitated by their fast (for a battleship) traverse rate of 5º/s (36s for 180º). Even in situations where Dunkerque is being chased, her "over the shoulder" firing arcs are respectable with her A-turret being capable of hucking shells 25º off her stern, still maintaining a perfect auto-ricochet target with her belt. Obviously the drawback here is that she cannot engage enemies directly to her rear. What's more, this all-forward gun arrangement makes her slow to switch sides when firing backwards as her guns have to come all of the way around. Still, the all-forward gun arrangement greatly facilitates bringing all guns on targets for much of the battle. It's this ease of bringing guns on target -- all of their guns on target -- which makes these ships dangerous and it's one of their many strengths. Strasbourg doesn't have Dunkerque's delicious A-turret's fire arcs. Summary "Always ready" -- this defines the gunnery on Dunkerque and Strasbourg, and Strasbourg more than her sister. When facing off against these ships, their faster rate of fire, good fire arcs and gun handling is what makes them dangerous. As gunnery platforms, they're super comfy and fun to play. Their individual salvos may not hit as big as other ships; a consequence of both shell size and trollish dispersion, but they don't feel at a deficit in either regard. VERDICT: Their guns perform better than their smaller caliber would suggest. Beware Strasbourg's Main Battery Reload Booster -- used correctly, it can devastate vulnerable enemies. Durability Hit Points: 52,600 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 26mm / 16mm / 26mm / 26mm Dunkerque Maximum Citadel Protection: 26mm anti-torpedo bulge + 225mm belt + 40mm turtleback + 40mm/50mm citadel wall Strasbourg Maximum Citadel Protection: 26mm anti-torpedo bulge + 283mm belt + 50mm turtleback + 40mm/50mm citadel wall Torpedo Damage Reduction: 25% The durability fortunes of these two battlecruisers flips between their hit point totals and their armour profiles. While I would not call either ship blessed in either category, it's more that one or the other is "less-worse" in a given area than its sister ship. Overall, Strasbourg loses out wholesale to her sister, if only because she sits a full tier higher and contends with bigger threats. Health Pool Strasboug is the big loser here when it comes to comparing hit points. Dunkerque wins no prizes either, but as a tier VI vessel, she's she doesn't stand out in any negative or positive way. Strasbourg's woes come in two areas: She has a small (tier VI-sized) hit point pool. Her Repair Party is normal. The former kind of surprises me -- not that she has a small hit point pool, but that it's unchanged from Dunkerque's own despite the (slight) increase in tonnage. Best estimates should put Strasbourg's hit point total almost 1,000hp higher than Dunkerque. That's not enough to rescue her from the doldrums of tier VII health totals, but every scrap certainly helps and it would let her overtake Lyon at the very least. Moreover, the issue Strasbourg faces at tier VII comes from her plain-Jane Repair Party consumable. The glut of Royal Navy ships at tier VII along with Colorado makes Strasbourg's bare-bones Repair Party seem weak by comparison, especially on a ship with a hit point deficit. I suppose it's a blessing that she's not stuck with one fewer charges the way the Soviet ships and Florida are neutered, so that's something. Dunkerque's effective hit point pool is on the low side of average for a tier VI battleship. Now you can imagine what happens when you bring a "low side of average" effective health pool to a tier VII match-up. This is especially noteworthy as tier VII is where health regeneration gets super weird and powerful. Armour Profile When it comes to repelling HE shells, the two Dunkerque-sisters are functionally identical. While there exists some minor differences in their protection schemes, these are a non-issue when it comes to repelling HE shells. Dunkerque and Strasbourg are exceedingly soft-skinned and highly vulnerable to HE fire. Their near-homogeneous 26mm external plate makes them easy prey, not only for light cruisers but for 127mm+ armed destroyers. While the Inertial Fuse for HE Shells skill may be necessary, her opponents all have the potential to farm damage off the soft-skinned profiles of the Dunkerque-class battleships. Both battleships bleed a lot of hit points to small and medium caliber HE shells. Things don't get better when it comes to repelling AP rounds. Strasbourg attempts to correct some of the defence issues of her sister-ship with improved turret, belt and citadel protection profiles. Dunkerque is notoriously vulnerable to citadel hits, going so far as to have her machine spaces colour-coded through one of her camouflage patterns (thank you, Yuro, for pointing that out!). The thinness of her citadel protection means that with very few exceptions (Oklahoma, I'm looking at you), Dunkerque is vulnerable to battleship calibre AP shells at all ranges. This goes double for any AP rounds from guns of 380mm or larger as they are fully capable of overmatching her external armour plate and can land citadel hits at nearly any angle. Though Strasbourg's protection is improved, it's never so good that I would trust flashing her sides or snoot to incoming battleship rounds. Both Dunkerque-sisters take citadel hits frequently. They are both at risk of losing their turrets when they attempt to tank battleship fire. The best that could be said about Strasbourg is that she is largely immune to citadel hits from cruiser-calibre weapons, though again there are exceptions, especially at close range. Their armour profiles are almost identical but Strasbourg has the thicker belt, turtleback and turret faces. While the extra ~60mm of armour on Strasbourg's belt looks significant, the higher penetration gun she faces makes this improvement kinda moot. Summary These are ships that don't want to get hit -- like at all. Nearly every HE shell can hurt. Nearly every battleship-calibre AP round is a potential citadel hit. Having only two turrets makes the loss of one (even temporarily) a disaster. The best play with these ships is to not get hit in the first place; exercising their long range to make themselves a less appealing target. Anchoring one side against a piece of island cover is also a good practice, if only to mitigate flanking fire from enemy battleships from across the map. Limiting the angles of attack against these vessels is paramount to keeping them safe. They don't have a lot of armour. They don't have a lot of health. They don't have improved Repair Parties. VERDICT: Get hit, take cit. Agility Top Speed: 29.5kts Turning Radius: 730m Rudder Shift Time: 14s 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 4.7º/s at 22kts (Dunkerque) or 22.2kts (Strasbourg). What a difference a tier makes. Strasbourg and Dunkerque both have excellent agility for a battleship. Not only do they have a respectable top speed -- nearly reaching 30 knots -- but unlike higher-tiered battleships, they are not shackled with a punitive turning circle radius. No matter how you look at it, both battleships handle beautifully. This combines with their very nice gun traverse rates to make keeping guns on target a very comfortable experience. The only real fault for these two battleships is that they flirt with but never quite achieve cruiser-levels of agility. This flaw mostly resides with their rudder shift time which, while not punitive, is definitely too sluggish to affect reasonable dodging metrics. Active dodging is really only ever possible at the extremes of their range. It's a bit of a tease that way, but by any other measuire, their agility is solid. Dunkerque is very fast for a tier VI battleship which helps translate to a good rate of turn despite her larger-than-average turning radius at that tier. If it weren't for ships like Warspite (bae! ♥) and Normandie, she'd be the clear winner. Once you start comparing Strasbourg and Dunkerque to tier VII battleships, it's no longer a contest. Strasbourg is THE most agile tier VII battleship, bar none. Lyon and Gneisenau provide some competition, but Strasbourg is the hands down winner. VERDICT: Some of the best mid-tier battleship agility you'll find out there. Both ships handle beautifully and are very comfortable to drive. Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: 3 explosions for 1,330 damage per blast (Dunkerque) or 1,400 per blast (Strasbourg) at 3.5km to 6.0km. Long Ranged (up to 6.0km): 84dps at 75% accuracy Medium Ranged (up to 3.0km): 24.5dps (Dunkerque) or 21dps (Strasbourg) at 75% accuracy Short Ranged (up to 1.5km): 105dps at 70% accuracy I'm going to let the graphics do the talking here. Kay, so this looks like a hot mess and there's value in this chaos too. There are so many disparate AA range values at tier VI, it's hard to keep track. "Why so much negative space?" you might ask. Well, I scaled this to match the AA values of the tier VII battleships as both tier VI and VII battleships have to contend with tier VI and VIII aircraft carriers. The ships here are arranged in approximate level of effective personal defense, sorted by the formula [ AA DPS * ( range - 1km) ], thus putting more value on longer ranged damage output. None of the tier VI battleships could be said to have "good" or "effective" AA firepower, even against tier VI carriers. While Dunkerque sits in the middle of the pack here, she's in the bottom half of the incompetent. The best thing about her, really, are those 6km ranged guns which can help a friend out with overlapping fields of fire. Strasbourg has worse personal AA firepower than Nagato. It's only when battleships get to California or Florida levels of AA firepower that they can start looking towards their own defense. And it's not like these ships can prevent CVs from dropping on them -- oh no, they simply make it expensive (and then only if they haven't had most of their medium and small caliber guns shorn off by a spray of HE fire). Strasbourg stands little chance and is an easy mark for carriers. VERDICT: Hilariously bad on both counts. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 16.92km / 14.77km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 9.58km / 8.62km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 14.2km Dunkerque Maximum Firing Range: 18.21km to 21.85km Strasbourg Maximum Firing Range: 19.1km to 22.92km The stealth of these two battleships is crap. I don't know what really needs to be said beyond that. Their surface detection range is atrocious for a ship of their size and you can never truly get it under control. For Dunkerque, this is a more pronounced problem given the smaller maps she end up on at lower tiers. The only way you're surprising anyone in these ships is with long-range fire. While this may end a cruiser in short order, you're only going to annoy battleships unless their citadel protection is very (very!) soft skinned. In practical terms, everything will spot you first. Due to her fragility, this will so often relegate you to play defensively, hugging islands to protect a flank or deny vision lest you get crossfired from unseen enemy. VERDICT: Downright terrible. Final Evaluation Let's go back to those questions that started this review: Is Dunkerque so good at tier VI that she can be effectively cloned and placed at tier VII with little issue? Just how influential are the small changes made between the two ships? Is Main Battery Reload Booster that powerful on a 330m armed platform? Is Strasbourg worth the grind or should you just stick with Dunkerque? The answers to those questions are: Hells no. Largely irrelevant, though the extra second shaved off her reload and the extra armour is nice. I'm kinda miffed about her A-turret losing out on those firing angles, though. Yes. It's a disgustingly powerful consumable and it's what carries this ship at tier VII. Well, that depends. How much do you love Dunkerque? Dunkerque is a good tier VI battleship. This is largely owing to two factors: She has good guns and she has good agility. Dunkerque is fast enough to bring her firepower where it will do the most good and her guns are reliable enough to stack steady amounts of damage. Her fast reload makes her particularly good at picking on cruisers and stacking fires. Yes, her stealth sucks. Yes, her AA power sucks. Yes, defensively she's a bit of a joke. But those, like Tempest Keep, are merely a setback. Stealth and AA rarely define the battleship meta. Better armour would be nice, but it's not like Dunkerque is incapable of face-tanking a whole range of battleship opponents provided they're not armed with 380mm+ guns. Dunkerque is a whole bunch of "good enough" packaged behind comfortable gunnery. As one of the oldest premium battleships in the game Dunkerque doesn't have a gimmick to make her stand out anymore. Being French was her gimmick back in 2016. Since the release of the French battleship line, she lost not only that distinction but also the uniqueness of her all-forward gun arrangement. Players can simply unlock Richelieu from the tech tree if they want to have a taste of that game play, albeit two tiers higher. There's not a lot of 'wow-factor' baked into Dunkerque. She's good, don't get me wrong, but she's not amazing. She's not meta-defining or great. She wasn't a solid pick in tier VI Ranked Battles, sitting behind battleships that brought that oh-so covetted overmatch like Warspite and West Virginia and beyond consideration in team-based competitive (though admittedly everything played second fiddle to Admiral Graf Spee). Strasbourg will be rightly compared to Jean Bart and there is a reason Jean Bart isn't commonly available anymore (I'm still shocked she reappered for Black Friday, but whatevs, clearly WG likes money). If you love Dunkerque's game play, Strasbourg is so worth it, it's not even funny. I cannot stress enough how much the Main Battery Reload Booster consumable improves on what was already some damn fine gunnery. That's really the whole summation of Strasbourg. Yes, there's a bunch of other little changes here and there, but they feel so inconsequential compared to those twenty-seconds of fast-firing guns when her consumable is active. During development, Wargaming seemed oh-so careful not to repeat the misteps of Jean Bart's overpowered self. Strasbourg had her rate of fire nerfed from an initial 21 seconds (yes, really) to 24 seconds and then eventually down to 25 seconds with a slight sigma buff (from Dunkerque's 1.7 to the current 1.8). That should be enough to keep her in line, but I admit I enjoyed myself a lot playing Strasbourg. Such enjoyment on a test ship usually means that the ship is a little too strong. This speaks a lot to what battleship gameplay fundamentally boils down to: delivering big hits. The difference between good performance and bad in a match can so often be separated by a single Devastating Strike. Even if you lose, if you erased one ship outright, it's hard to call that a bad showing. Strasbourg's consumable makes it easier to do that and that's hella powerful. If I had to choose between the two, Strasbourg is (to me) the obvious choice. Dunkerque doesn't have anything novel going for her, in my opinion. Her best selling feature now is her tiering. Strasbourg at least has that gunnery gimmick; something a lot of players may not have access to in the future given the increased rarity of Jean Bart. Strasbourg is a GUDBOTE -- or more accurately, she's a MEHBOTE with a good consumable.
  15. The following is a review of Smolensk, the tier X premium Soviet light cruiser kindly provided to me by Wargaming. Please be aware that though this represents the release version of the ship, her statistics may change in the future. To the best of my knowledge, these stats are accurate as of patch 0.8.8. Someone thought it would be a good idea to release a tier X version of USS Flint but with Soviet flavour-crystals. Players in the know are disinclined to drink the red Kool-aid -- and with good reason. If you're hoping that I was going to feed the drama llama and tell you everything is fine with Smolensk, I'm sorry to disappoint. Smolensk is an unapologetically powerful premium and continues the 2019 Stalinium trend. I should call Smolensk by her proper appellation: a "Reward Ship". This distinction is hella-important. Reward ships can still be directly nerfed after-release. Barring extraordinary circumstances, a premium cannot. This is, of course, adding to the feelings of frustration within certain circles of the community -- knowing that Wargaming could apply corrections to Smolensk but hasn't. I'm personally not getting my hopes up. So let's take a look at this calamity and why Smolensk has so many people sipping Tang. PROS Troll armour scheme, with 30mm hull amidships, 50mm citadel roof and a thin armoured belt which prompts frequent AP ricochets and over-penetrations. Armed with sixteen (!) rapid-fire Soviet 130mm guns that upgrade well with commander skills. Has the ability to make players give up on life and/or rage quit simply by bringing them under fire. Speaking of fire, she's good at setting it. Good accuracy and shell ballistics for a light cruiser. Downright trollish protection scheme. Excellent concealment. It's so good that she can hide her over-performance from spreadsheets. Fast and agile. Good anti-aircraft firepower. Has access to a Smoke Generator. CONS Super squishy with a tiny hit point pool, pathetic armour and zero anti-torpedo protection. Speaking of squish, her citadel is exposed over the waterline and just begging to be groped by AP shells. When things go wrong, they go wrong quickly. Short ranged guns and torpedoes. But you can fix the former and you don't necessarily need the latter (nice as they are to have). Poor HE and AP penetration for a tier X cruiser (not that this matters, really, but someone would complain if I didn't put it here). It's Soviet, so it's not allowed to be good. Smolensk is an HE spamming, torpedo-armed light-cruiser with smoke. In theory, she's soft and fragile. In theory. In reality, she's hard to spot, she's hard to hit, and when you do hit her, you can't guarantee good damage numbers. The Details You Need to Know There are four main elements you need to know about Smolensk. Weapons Main Battery: Sixteen 130mm/57 guns in 4x4 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration. Torpedoes: Ten torpedo tubes in 2x5 launchers with one mounted on each side in wing mounts straddling the rear funnel. Smolensk has destroyer-caliber guns. This presents a few problems but, as we'll see, these are problems that are largely irrelevant. These imagined difficulties are: Smolensk is short ranged. She only has a modest fire-chance per shell compared to 152mm+ armed cruisers. She has low damage per shell compared to 152mm+ armed cruisers. Her AP penetration and HE penetration are poor. Smolensk starts with a mere 13.8km reach. This is near-suicidal range for a cruiser at tier X, but Smolensk has two ready fixes. Between the Gun Fire Control System Modification 2 upgrade and the Advanced Fire Training commander skill, Smolensk's range can be modified to 16km or 16.6km respectively. The choice between these two options lets players pick one of the two without taxing their ability to boost Smolensk's DPM or set fires. Combine the two (often at the expense of reload) and you have a reach of 19.2km. These options more than undermine any deficiencies in the reach of her guns. Furthermore, unlike some other destroyer-caliber armed cruisers, Smolensk's guns are comfortable to use up to ranges of 15km and have better ballistics than British or American 152mm. Shell flight times estimations (in seconds) of most of the tier X cruisers. These were taken from the in-game client with guns trained broadside. Smolensk's 130mm guns have shell flight times similar to Des Moines and Salem at very long ranges -- much improved over the more floaty ballistics of American and British 152mm guns. At ranges less than 10km, they're more akin to Henri IV's 240mm guns. Speaking of damage output and setting fires: It's true that Smolensk's AP and HE shells are found wanting in terms of raw damage output and fire chance compared to the 152mm, 203mm and 240mm guns of her competitors. However, the sheer volume of fire and her improved accuracy more than make up for any perceived deficit here. Furthermore, Smolensk can directly increase her rate of fire with Basic Fire Training -- something the other cruisers at tier X cannot, stacking this on top of Main Battery Modification 3. In addition, she takes less fire-chance penalty for using the Inertial Fuse for HE Shells skill than her contemporaries. This just leaves the issue of penetration, and this isn't one that can be corrected. Even with Inertial Fuse for HE Shells, Smolensk is incapable of damaging areas of armour thicker than 27mm with her high-explosive rounds. Her AP shells are similarly anemic with less than 100mm of penetration at ranges greater than 8km. However, her low penetration is largely a non-issue. Smolensk is more than capable of aiming for weak spots, and when you're tossing out that many shells, you're bound to hit something squishy sooner or later. Her AP shells are still able to chew through mouthfuls of an enemy ship's hit points if they present their broadside. She need merely aim at their softer hull sections like the bow, stern or upper hull. And for those tougher nuts out there, her fire setting will burn them to the waterline before long. Whatever perceived flaws Smolensk has with her guns are laughable, easily corrected if they were something that needed correcting in the first place. The sheer volume of fire her sixteen guns put out is nightmarish -- driving off and intimidating opponents. Softer hulled ships vanish in just a few seconds, allowing even this soft-skinned ship to out-trade select opponents. And if that weren't enough, she has decent torpedoes to stove the face in of anyone that comes sniffing near her smoke screens. These are just the stock DPM values. This is before the influence of captain skills, before upgrades, before consumables and before special upgrades. This also doesn't account for penetration or accuracy or what have you. I could have made this graph stupidly complicated with seventeen different combinations of applied bonuses and caveats to damage output but I think this already illustrates all it needs to: Smolensk spits out a lot of shells. Don't be in their way. There is no way I didn't screw something up here or leave something off. But, you know what? I'ma roll with it. You can increase Smolensk's fire chance even further by using the Adrenaline Rush commander skill and take some damage, but I think covering 34 different combinations is plenty, thank you very much. Keep in mind that these are base fire-per-minute values, not counting enemy fire resistance. In practice, the actual value will be about 40% to 50% of what's listed here. Oh no, Smolensk might "only" be able to start one fire every other salvo. What a joke. Smolensk doesn't miss -- only players do. (180 shells fired at 15km locked onto a stationary enemy Fuso without camo. Smolensk was equipped with Aiming System Modification 1). If you're paying attention, then with that optimal fire build I just illustrated above, you should be starting a fire almost every 5 to 6 seconds. Consumables Speaking of smoke screens, there are two consumables here worth noting. Smolensk, like all tier X cruisers, has access to a Repair Party consumable. There's nothing out of the ordinary with her having one, but given the frustrations of landing hits on this ship (and good quality hits at that), it's presence is noteworthy. The real ship-defining consumable here is Smolensk's Smoke Generator. There aren't many cruisers with HE shells with a Smoke Generator and with good reason. Iwaki Alpha, Belfast, Mikhail Kutuzov, and Flint aren't exactly biword for balance. If it weren't for Perth and Huanghe providing some (occasionally) good press, this combination would deserve it's automatic derision. Still, Smolensk is moving the needle towards the direction of "never again" in my opinion (she says, then HMS London gets previewed). What's funny to me is that there were steps made to try and reign in Smolensk's Smoke Generator. Mikhail Kutuzov, the retired tier VIII Soviet premium cruiser uses the same Smoke Generator as tier VIII Soviet Destroyers. It would stand to reason that Smolensk would use the tier X version but she doesn't. She uses the same tier VIII version as Kutuzov. The difference here is that Smolensk's smoke "only" lasts for 89 seconds as opposed to the 97 seconds it could have been. r/There was an attempt... Smolensk's Smoke Generator combines with her excellent surface detection, getting down as low as 10km. Stack this onto her flexible gun range and she's a hard cruiser to find when she doesn't want to be seen. Aircraft carriers won't do the spotting here -- her aerial detection range is the same reach as her long-range AA bubble. That just leaves blasting her with radar, waiting for her to open fire or getting suicidally close. For destroyers, closing the distance is high-risk. Getting counter-spotted inside of 10km of Smolensk is a great way to get yourself sent back to port in a hurry. For anyone else, there's those torpedoes to worry about and that ridiculous DPM. Short of radar, a well played Smolensk is only seen when she wants to be seen, and that's only when she's pulling the trigger. Protection Hit Points: 32,400 Minimum Bow & Deck Armour: 16mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 16mm bow/stern + 100mm transverse bulkhead (70mm belt broadside) Torpedo Damage Reduction: Nope.jpg Armour so bad, it's good. Her conning tower and the forward faces of her turrets are 100mm thick -- just enough to prompt the occasional ricochet or shatter smaller caliber AP shells. Smolensk has an exposed citadel, but she's surprisingly resistant to broadside citadel damage from battleships. Her citadel roof is 50mm thick and will auto-ricochet any battleship shells attempting to penetrate it from a range of 21km or less (even then, good luck). So only shots aimed directly at her waterline (or just beneath) count. At 70mm, Smolensk's belt isn't thick enough to fuse AP shells greater than 420mm in caliber. There was some great work done on Reddit by U/R_radical (link here, please give it some well deserved love) which I followed up on for my own tests. The grossly simplified version is this: République, Thunderer, Ohio, Georgia, Musashi, Yamato and Kremlin are physically incapable of landing citadel hits against the flat broadside of Smolensk if the shells don't strike water before entering the ship. They need to hit angled surfaces to increase the relative thickness of Smolensk's belt in order to fuse. It gets worse, though. Smolensk has a narrow beam -- there just isn't enough room when striking Smolensk's flat broadside for most battleship shells with their 0.033s fuse timer to explode inside the ship. The shells have to be slowed down first and air drag doesn't really begin to be enough of an effect until you get to ranges of around 15km or more. For some battleships with high velocity shells like Roma, you're looking at ranges closer to 20km. Inside that distance, short of shells dunking beneath the water first, their AP rounds will pass clean through resulting in over penetrations despite hitting the bullseye of her machine spaces. Thus, battleships have to wait until Smolensk is angled in order to have a chance at landing penetrating and citadel hits. The size of these angles varies with range, but even at a distance of 15km, Yamato is looking at needing Smolensk to be angled out at least 30º from a flat broadside before she gets that magical combination of thick enough armour to arm her fuse AND enough space along her shell path to land a citadel hit. My own tests with Lert necessitated a 37º angle before we got lucky with Musashi's 460mm AP shells. If that wasn't enough, Smolensk still has a few tricks to play. Her 30mm will also autobounce any AP shells smaller than 429mm that strike it at too acute of an angle. And finally, if you think smashing shells through her fragile snoot will finally yield those big damaging hits, be aware that her upper transverse bulkhead is 100mm thick -- there's no overmatching that if the shell comes in too steeply as Smolensk angles away. The net effect to all of this confusing math is that Smolensk's armour is downright troll when battleships shoot at her. Over penetrations abound. Citadel hits are rare. Auto-ricochets happen just often enough to make you want to pull your hair out. Thanks to her Smoke Generator, hits alone are uncommon for slow-firing ships. If this analysis seems battleship-biased, you're right. That's because cruisers have no problems at all ripping apart Smolensk if they catch her. Smolensk has a tiny hit point pool -- a mere 0.9 Viribus Unitis (VU) worth -- which also means poor returns on her Repair Party consumable. While outright trading with Smolensk is generally a bad idea because of her monstrous DPM, the occasional pot shot from cruisers will yield big numbers when they slap this little Soviet monster. Do your poor battleships and destroyers a favour if you get the chance. Venezia and Puerto Rico are works in progress and still subject to change. Smolensk's HP total is awful. If skill points weren't at such a bloody premium, it would be worth spending three of them on Survivability Expert. The bonus 3,500hp (almost 11%) would make her equal to 1 VU. This is a totally important standard unit of measure for a cruiser, or so the constant whining about the new Austro-Hungarian battleship would have me believe. Agility Top Speed: 35 knots Reverse Speed: -13.6 knots Rudder Shift Time: 8.2 seconds Turning Circle Radius: 750 meters Maximum Rate of Turn: 5.7º/s at 4/4 speed Compared to other mid-to-high tier Soviet cruisers, Smolensk is hella agile. Krasny Krym, Murmansk and Makarov are the only ships that handle better (and I would question giving Makarov that honour). Krasny Krym manages it because she's a tier IV design. Murmansk and Makarov are borrowed ships from other nations. It's the smallest slights which sting the most. I think I might have stomached Smolensk's inclusion better had she not trespassed here. She doesn't handle like a Soviet cruiser and this irks me to no end. Allow me to explain. I've spent forever twirling boats. I've got a pretty good base understanding of how ships move in this game and I'm forever expanding that knowledge. I've come to recognize patterns and trends, not only between the different ship types but also within a given nation. Japanese cruisers are fast, American cruisers have small turning radii, British cruisers break the laws of physics, and so on and so forth. I must stress that these are trends -- not hard fast rules. Still, patterns exist and I don't think they're coincidental. The Soviet cruiser line is one of contrasts. Their low tier cruisers are ridiculously agile -- some of the most agile cruisers in the game. However at tier V, they transition to very fast ships with enormous turning circles. Barring borrowed and up-tiered designs (and Mikhail Kutuzov), Soviet cruisers pay for their sleek hull forms with poor handling. Smolensk doesn't. For a Soviet cruiser, she is bloody nimble. She's fast. Her rudder shift time is good. Her turning circle radius isn't appalling. And it's this last part where I take issue. I expected her to have a turning radius at the 820m mark or greater -- something like Chapayev or Shchors. This would scale back her rate of turn down from 5.7º/s to 5.2º/s or less -- still decent but definitely more in line with the Soviet light cruisers as a whole. And let me be clear: I'm aware I'm unfairly gate-keeping which ships are allowed to be agile. There's no hard-fast rule that says Soviet cruisers must handle like a pregnant yak in a mud-wallow. The Sverdlov-class doesn't. None of their low tier ships do either. It kinda makes sense that a small, anti-aircraft cruiser like Smolensk would be a wiggly little thing. Colbert is. The Atlanta-class is. Their radii are much tighter than what Smolensk can boast. Compared to those two, Smolensk is pretty chunktacular. In fact when you put her alongside these other AA cruisers, her turning radius is downright Soviet. Still, even with this minor disparity, this is one more thing Smolensk is hella-good at. She's got the firepower. She's got the stealth. She's got the smoke. She's got the speed. She even has the durability despite being worth 0.9 VU. Her AA power is excellent (specifically when you also account for her aerial detection). And now, with this, she's super agile too. She's hard to hit in the hands of a good player. It's bad enough that she's a small target and one that's hard to dig out of smoke. With her great range improvements, she can play the open water game and Just Dodge™ her way to victory when islands and smoke aren't an option. I suppose with all of the time I've spent with twirling ships, it explains why this is the final straw for me. It's kinda absurd, when I think about it, but when have feels ever made sense? I hate you, Smolensk and your cute, twirly butt. Placed against her peers at tier X, Smolensk comes out looking very good. She's behind Colbert, Minotaur, Venezia and Des Moines, but only when the American uses her Legendary Upgrade. Venezia and Puerto Rico are works in progress and still subject to change. Everything Else Just so I can say that I didn't leave it out: Camouflage & Refrigerator Smolensk's camouflage is the standard Type 20 Camouflage. This provides: 3% reduction of detectability by sea 4% increase of dispersion of shells fired by the enemy attacking your ship. 50% reduction of cost of the ship's post-battle service. 20% increase to credits earned per battle. 100% increase experience earned per battle. Smolensk's economy doesn't appear out of the ordinary, being comparable to the other tier X reward ships Bourgogne, Thunderer, Stalingrad, etc. Base Surface Detection: 12.78km Aerial Detection: 7.41km Minimum Surface Detection Range: 10.04km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 5.91km Main Battery Firing Range: Between 13.8km (stock) up to 19.21km Nothing further to add here that hasn't already been discussed above. Smolensk is smol and a sneaky danger-noodle. Anti Aircraft Defense Flak Bursts (3.5km to 6km): 8 explosions for 1,890 damage per blast Long Ranged AA Guns (6km): 167.6 damage every 0.32s Medium Ranged AA Guns (3.5km): 186.2 damage every 0.32s Short Ranged AA Guns (3.1km): 58.6 damage every 0.34s Smol-bote with biggish AA. It's important to note that with Concealment Modification 1 and Concealment Expert, Smolensk's aerial detection range is a mere 21mm (yes, millimeters) longer than her long-range AA power. Don't ask your CV to try and spot this thing -- they'll get shredded. Smolensk can bloody stealth-snipe aircraft. Final Evaluation From KC Green's fantastic Gunshow comic. I bloody hate this ship. I've hated working on this review all month. I've rewritten this damn thing so many times, never happy with the tone, never happy with the message. Even now I'm not sure I've properly communicated how frustrating it is to face off against a well-played version of this thing. I don't want to water down this sentiment (which I have so many times before) by mathing out the odds of actually meeting a competent Smolensk player or how, yes, it's technically possible to counter it with X, Y and Z. I don't like facing this ship for the same reasons that I cringe when I see a Flint, Belfast or Kutuzov on the enemy roster. In the end, it doesn't matter if the enemy Smolensk is good or not. My sentiments about the match are already soured. I consider myself a patient person and the presence of a Smolensk taxes even me. I am someone who can stomach playing against carriers. I enjoy my troll-ships. However, even I have my limits. I don't like playing Smolensk. It feels grossly unfair. It feels the same way as playing Belfast, Kutuzov or Flint. She has all of the advantages and few match-ups are unfavourable (short of derping into a Shimakaze torpedo like I did one game). The deeper I looked into Smolensk, the more concerned I became. There's a lot going on here -- a perfect storm of potential and so many different combinations to analyze that it's easy to see why Smolensk not only can be a piece of garbage in one player's hands and an absolute beast in another. If you don't have Smolensk yet, I dunno what to tell you. On the one hand, I don't want to play against your new ship. On the other, I know that there's a risk you could miss out. She's a bona fide reward ship -- not sold for cash money so nerfs are possible. What you invest in now might not be the ship we have six months from now. If you're hoping to preserve this sense of superiority, then she might not be worth the investment. This changes if she's eventually sold for cash. As a tier X ship, I see that as unlikely. This might change come Black Friday through Christmas, though. Wargaming does like to bundle everything together and ring the dinner bell. This is also the first year where we've had a veritable glut of tier X reward ships available. Once cash changes hands, Smolensk's performance is locked in. The only recourse from then on is to hope she becomes rare. And if that happens, if you haven't got her already, you're unlikely to ever get her. To Hell with it: If you don't have her yet, get her ASAP. Play her often. Play her so often that it chokes the matchmaker. T-59 this momo and have popularity necessitates re-evaluating her performance and availability. I don't see Smolensk surviving either change-free or remaining freely available, though who knows what kind of timeline this is on. She's that good. She's that annoying. How to Balans the Spreadsheets Recommended Upgrades There's a lot to unpack with the upgrades of high-tier ships, but it's generally simple. You want to build Smolensk for agility and gunnery. Everything else is secondary to this. Start with Main Armaments Modification 1 in your first slot. In your second slot, take the corresponding Special Upgrade for either Defensive AA Fire or Hydracoustic Search -- whichever consumable you tend to favour using. Barring that, default to Steering Gears Modification 1. You're going to be doing a lot of gunnery at range so Aiming Systems Modification 1 is a good investment (if only because the other upgrades are crap). If you prefer to play Smolensk more static -- hiding in smoke and behind islands, take Propulsion Modification 2 in your fourth slot. Otherwise, take Steering Gears Modification 2 for better open water agility. Similarly, if you prefer open-water play and feel confident with your ability to dodge, Steering Gears Modification 3 will serve you well. Otherwise take Concealment Modification 1 to make hiding easier. Between the two best options here, Gun Fire Control System Modification 2 is the preferred choice, extending Smolensk's range. This puts less of a strain on her commander skill options (the effects here can be replicated with Advanced Fire Training). If you've 4 skill points free, then by all means, take the range-skill instead and default to Main Battery Modification 3 for the increased reload speed. Or, you could get all the range and combine the two -- but at least one range upgrade is needed. Recommended Skills There's a bit of a balancing act going on here. You need to have at least one range-upgrade for Smolensk (need is a strong word, but trust me, it makes all the difference). So if you haven't taken Gun Fire Control Modification 2 then you have to select Advanced Fire Training for example. So let's look at the worth of individual skills rather than the total package: At tier 1, there are three skills worth considering. Priority Target and Incoming Fire Alert are the first pair and tend to be mutually exclusive -- take one, not both. The former gives you more information. The latter gives you more critical and specific information. The last skill that's worthwhile here is Preventative Maintenance, but it's definitely sub-optimal compared to the other two for Smolensk. At tier 2, Last Stand is highly recommended. While not on Destroyer levels of fragility, Smolensk's rudder gets shot out often and near misses from large caliber HE shells can (and will) knock out her engines. Adrenaline Rush is also a great skill if you have the leftover points to spend on it. Jack of All Trades is handy for reducing consumable reset timers, particularly when the action is heated and in combination with the November Foxtrot signal and premium consumables to further drop their cool down. Similarly, Smoke Screen Expert is nice for the extra room to move around, especially if you plan to be sharing your smoke with a friend. At tier 3, there's a glut of choices here. Superintendent is arguably the best of the lot for the extra heal and extra charge of Smoke Generator. Basic Fire Training and Demolition Expert also play to Smolensk's best strengths. Beyond this, there are skills that are simply "nice to have" but hardly an efficient use of points including Vigilance and Torpedo Armament Expertise. The tier 4 skills are contentious and, frankly, are largely a matter of personal taste. Advanced Fire Training is all but mandatory in the absence of Gun Fire Control Modification 2 (how many times have I said that now?). Concealment Expert is amazing for its points cost, improving not only her survivability but opening up the door to ambushing aircraft with Concealment Modification 1, yet I wouldn't consider this skill required. Probably the best investment is Inertial Fuse for HE Shells, opening the door for Smolensk to directly damage the extremities of all heavy cruisers within her matchmaking. But even this isn't mandatory if you just want to make battleships burn. Finally, for the truly eclectic, there's Radio Location for those who fancy themselves as destroyer hunters in the late-game. Green = All but Mandatory. Yellow = Highly recommended. Red = Situational. Note this only applies to normal commanders. Special commanders, with their baked in bonuses, changes things. Last Bits And here I told myself this was going to be a short review. The amount of prep-work for this review was insane. I started mapping the dispersion of cruisers (ugh!), tested battleship AP fuses, did more work on torpedo damage, played with AA, did even more twirling, never mind all of that dirty, DIRTY play testing. You'll note a lack of an Angry YouTuber jpeg at the end of this article. That's deliberate. Some of my readers get too hung up on the soundbite at the end rather than the message as a whole. They might return at some point, but I'm retiring them for the time being. Thank you for reading. 
  16. It's double-header time! The following is a review of both Belfast and Belfast '43, the tier VII and VIII British premium cruisers. These ships were provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes -- I did not have to shell out any dollarydoos to get access to them. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as of patch 0.9.10. Please be aware that they may change in the future. Belfast is a total meme. I am delighted to see that Belfast '43 is being added to the game. Belfast is an important museum ship and it's so unfortunate that her premium had to be retired. She is the poster-child for unbalanced premiums so it's nice to see that Wargaming is correcting the lack of Belfast with what is ostensibly a more balanced version. Now I could just review the new one but I know I'd be hounded by the need to constantly compare the two. And if I half-butted the comparison, there would be tons of questions and comments asking that I follow up. So to correct this, I'm going to review both ships at the same time. So consider this an update to the old tier VII Belfast while simultaneously evaluating the newer, tier VIII version. God, Belfast is such a meme. Azur Lane went so far as to predict this too with Belfast and mini-me clone version of her. No, I don't get it either. Comparing Belfast to Belfast is going to get confusing in a hurry. In order to try and keep things clear, I will be not only referring to them by their tier but I will also colour code them. The discontinued tier VII premium cruiser will be referred to by Belfast (T7) while the newer, tier VIII version will be referred to by Belfast '43 (T8). Quick Summary: Two British light cruisers with the best combination of vision-control consumables in the game. Belfast '43 (T8) has slow-firing but harder hitting guns. Belfast (T7) is a meme-ship whose over-the-top performance has transcended not only World of Warships but in Azur Lane too. Shared PROS British cruiser with access to both AP and HE rounds. Improved acceleration. Good concealment with a surface detection as low as 8.91km. Access to a Smoke Generator AND Surveillance Radar AND Hydroacoustic Search all at the same time. (!) Shared CONS Very light cruiser armour profile with very thin hull plates that are easily overmatched. Enormous 6mm "hole" in citadel roof that's easily overmatched by any AP shell of any size. Does not have the same style of AP rounds as the rest of the British light cruiser line. Poor fire chance per shell for a 152mm round of only 9%. Horrible gun firing angles, necessitating giving a full broadside to bring all of her guns to bear. Bad gun traverse speeds of only 7º/s. Only a modest top speed of 32.5 knots. Not a good training ship for British light cruiser commanders. These two ships are defined by three things: (1) They're hard to engage but squishy if you can hit them. (2) They have an excellent combination of Vision Control consumables. (3) They have HE shells. Their game play is largely defined by taking station near an island, deploying smoke and HE-spamming the snot out of anything that comes within range. As if this wasn't bad enough, their combination of detection consumables makes them an absolute nightmare for destroyers who cannot dare to operate in their vicinity. Belfast's Hydroacoustic Search and ridiculous rate of acceleration keeps her safe from most torpedo strikes, nullifying one of the greatest risks to sitting in smoke while her Surveillance Radar ensures that any destroyers operating in the area quickly regret their life decisions. Ostensibly this is balanced by their poor fragility and gun handling, but the high concealment and agility of these ships coupled with their Smoke Generators makes even drawing a bead on them in the first place quite difficult. This combines with ballistics that are favourable for making use of island cover that further off-sets any deficits to survivability. All of the above strengths and weaknesses apply to Belfast '43 (T8) with the addition of the following: Belfast '43 (T8) Specific PROS High HE alpha strike for a 152mm armed ship from improved HE shell damage. Can single-fire her torpedoes. Small turning circle radius of 680m. Very short reset timer between final cloud dissipation and reactivation of her Smoke Generator. Starts with an extra charge of her Smoke Generator for a maximum of 5 charges with Superintendent. Can stealth-radar (albeit with only a 90m window at most but still). Belfast '43 (T8) Specific CONS Small hit point pool of 38,400hp. Long reload of 10.5s on her main battery leading to poor DPM and fire setting. Torpedoes are short ranged at 8km. Horrible anti-aircraft firepower for a tier VIII cruiser. Few charges of her Hydroacoustic Search and Surveillance Radar. Short duration on her smoke clouds. Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / CHALLENGING / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme Belfast '43 (T8) appears to have a balanced armament between AP & HE shells and her torpedoes. However, she pays for her triumvirate of consumables with nerfed weapon systems. Her main battery guns have a horrid reload time. Similarly, her torpedoes are much too short ranged to be used easily. Her AP shells suck, so that just leaves you with HE. Finally, as good as her consumable-combination is, they are limited by having either fewer charges (radar & hydro) or shorter duration (smoke), making it a challenge to manage them properly over the course of a full match. All of the shared merits and flaws listed at the top of this section apply to Belfast (T7) with the addition of the following: Belfast (T7) Specific PROS Fast, 7.5s reload leading to good DPM. Access to British light-cruiser energy retention, bleeding almost no speed in a turn. One of the few tier VII cruisers with Surveillance Radar. Has access to the 5th upgrade slot -- a rarity for tier VII ships. Belfast (T7) Specific CONS Only has 25mm of HE penetration. No torpedo armament. Long rudder shift time for a tier VII cruiser at 9.6s. Skill Floor: SIMPLE / Casual / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme Belfast (T7) is a different beast to Belfast '43 (T8) despite their similarities. This is largely owing to the differences in matchmaking -- Belfast (T7) gets to pick on tier V ships when matchmaking is being kind. Moreover, she's a rockstar at her tier giving up little while enjoying all of the same (but better) consumable benefits of the tier VIII newcomer. What's more, she fires three seconds faster per salvo and that makes a world of difference whether its stacking fires on an enemy battleship or lewding on a lolibote that you've flashed with her radar. Finally there's the extra agility Belfast (T7) enjoys. Her improved energy preservation means that Belfast (T7) is overall faster on average despite the two ships have the same top speed. This gives her a better rate of turn than her tier VIII-self despite having a larger effective turning radius. Just from the PROS and CONS list alone, you can clearly see that Belfast (T7) is much stronger (and easier to use) than Belfast '43 (T8). Bumping Belfast (T7) up to tier VIII would add on a low hit-point flaw but she would lose the slow-rudder shift as her 9.6s rudder shift time is on the slower-side of average for that tier. Belfast (T7) is, in fact, more than good enough to be a tier VIII cruiser with nothing changed about her. This explains why she was retired in the first place. So the question becomes not if Belfast '43 (T8) is a good enough replacement for Belfast (T7), because she's not, but rather if Belfast '43 (T8) is a good enough cruiser at to be worth picking up for anything but her name and history. Options Consumables At a glance, the first obvious difference between the two ships is that Belfast '43 (T8) can take a Catapult Fighter and Belfast (T7) cannot. But there's much more to it than that. Both ships share the same Damage Control Party. It has a 5s active period, a 60s reset timer and unlimited charges. Belfast '43 (T8), being a higher tier, has improved range with her Hydroacoustic Search over Belfast (T7) but with fewer charges. Belfast (T7) has a 3km torpedo detection range, 4km ship detection range, 100s active time, 120s reset timer and three charges to start. Belfast '43 (T8) has 4km torpedo detection range, 5km ship detection range, 100s active time, 120s reset timer and two charges to start. This deficit of one charge of her consumable is odd as most cruisers begin with three. Belfast (T7) has the much easier-to-use (and arguably better) Smoke Generator compared to the the new fish. Belfast '43 (T8)'s smoke is comparable to that of British destroyers, having more charges and a fast reset timer but with the smoke lasting for much less time. Belfast (T7)'s consumable is active for 15s with each 600m radius cloud lasting for 103s. It has a 160s reset timer and starts with three charges. Belfast '43 (T8)'s consumable is active for 15s with each 600m radius cloud lasting for 40s. It has a 70s reset timer and starts with four charges. Like with their hydro, Belfast '43 (T8) has improved range with her Surveillance Radar over Belfast (T7) but again, with fewer charges. Belfast (T7)'s radar is active for 25s and detects ships at 8.5km with a 120s reset timer and three charges to start. Belfast '43 (T8)'s radar is active for 25s and detects ships at 9km with a 120s reset timer and two charges to start. Only Belfast '43 (T8) can swap her radar for a Catapult Fighter. I dunno why you'd do that but hey, it's an option. Belfast (T7)does not have access to it all. Belfast '43 (T8) deploys three fighters which are active for 60s that patrol a 3km radius around the ship. It has a 90s reset timer and three charges to start. I think it's pretty easy to declare Belfast (T7) the winner here when it comes to her consumable options. Still, it would be foolish to deny that Belfast '43 (T8) has an excellent consumable suite, giving her some of the best tools possible in the game for vision control. Upgrades With Belfast (T7) being able to fit five upgrade slots like a tier VIII ship, the ideal upgrades between the two ships are identical. With both ships having improved acceleration, they cannot take the Propulsion Modification 1 upgrade in slot 4. The only apparent option in the second slot comes down to what you can afford. Surveillance Radar Modification 1 is optimal, adding another 5 seconds to the active period of their Surveillance Radar consumables. If you cannot afford that but have access to a Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 upgrade then equip that instead. Each of these cost 17,000 in the Armory so default to the former if you can afford it. If you can't pick up either one, then take Engine Room Protection. So the optimal build is: Main Armaments Modification 1 is slot 1. Surveillance Radar Modification 1 in slot 2. Aiming Systems Modification 1 in slot 3. Steering Gears Modification 1 in slot 4. And finally Concealment System Modification 1 in slot 5. Captain Skills There are effectively two builds for the Belfast-twins. They differ on whether or not to take Inertial Fuse for HE Shells (IFHE) to increase their penetration or to build for increased fire chance. Belfast '43 (T8) benefits more from the penetration provided by IFHE than Belfast (T7) due to how the skill scales with tier. Thus, the higher-tiered ship is more likely to build for IFHE but either build can work for either ship. Well this is a colourful, confusing mess. But there's a method to my madness. Start by picking one of the two skills in the yellow squares at tier 1. Next, hoover up the light blue circles. After that, decide if you want increased HE penetration with IFHE or increased fire chance with Demolition Expert. You can take both, but it's hella expensive. The remaining skills circled in red are nice to have. Use them to pad out your remaining available points. Camouflage Between all of the camouflages available between the two ships, they share identical bonuses. 3% reduction to surface detection. 4% increase to enemy dispersion. 10% reduction to service costs. 50% increase to experience earned. Belfast '43 (T8)'s Type 10 Camouflage. Belfast (T7)'s Type 10 Camouflage. Belfast (T7) received an additional camouflage through the Azur Lane crossover. In general, the Azur Lane camouflage disappoint me. World of Warships Blitz the crossover-skins had some fun geometry changes to the model too. Still, this one is at least nice and striking, even if it's just a skin. The best thing about it is that for my purposes, it's the easiest way to differentiate between the two ships in this review when I use screenshots. Firepower Main Battery: Twelve 152mm/50 guns in 4x3 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration. Belfast (T7) Secondary Battery: Eight 102mm/45 guns in 4x2 turrets. Belfast '43 (T8) Secondary Battery: Twelve 102mm/45 guns in 6x2 turrets. Belfast '43 (T8) Torpedoes: Six tubes in 2x3 launchers with one launcher per side mounted in the hull between the funnels. Belfast (T7) has the Union Jack on top of her B-turret except with her Azur Lane camo. Belfast '43 (T8) has AA mounts on top of her B-turret instead. Belfast '43 (T8). Note the differences in reload time, HE penetration, IFHE penetration and HE shell damage. Balancing ships is difficult. "Murder your darlings", an often quoted phrase stolen from Hollywood, has made the rounds in game design. The premise is simple enough: Identify what you like best about something you've made and then remove it from the design entirely. Such design elements will tend to lead projects astray and create complications further down the line. The darling in Belfast (T7)'s design, I am convinced, is her access to HE shells. At the time of her release back in the autumn of 2016, it was this feature which made her stand out more than any other from the British light cruiser line. Belfast (T7)'s HE shells did make her unique, but they ultimately broke and doomed the project. To be clear, HE in of itself isn't unmanageable. Belfast '43 (T8) is Wargaming's attempt to correct some of the earlier problems of Belfast (T7)'s design while still keeping access to HE shells. In my mind, it's a lot of extra work to accommodate something that was already out of place, long long ago. The time and energy could be better spent elsewhere and left us with a premium that was better suited to training British light cruiser tech-tree captains. As it is, Wargaming tweaked Belfast '43 (T8)'s HE shells to conform to the numbers they wanted to see. These changes are so odd they will understandably cause you to second guess her performance and potential. Fool me once, shame on you Belfast (T7)'s main battery firepower conforms entirely to light-cruiser norms. Her twelve 152mm guns behave exactly as you would expect. They fire a shell with modest damage output, with a rather floaty ballistic arc over medium range. To compensate, they have a high rate of fire. This seems simple enough. The only real oddity here is their rather poor fire chance per shell. If you line up the guns from most of the other 152mm armed light cruisers, Belfast (T7) looks pretty normal. Her 7.5 second reload fits in snugly between the long, 10 second reload of Mogami 155mm, the stately 8 second reloads of Soviet guns from ships like Shchors, Chapayev and Irian and the blistering quick reloads of Cleveland (6.5 seconds), Ochakov (6.1 seconds), Mainz (6 seconds) and München (5 seconds). However, only Mikhail Kutuzov is an apt comparison for Belfast (T7)'s ability to spit shells down range. Gun performance stats from patch 0.5.12.1 back in October of 2016 back when these were among the few 152mm armed contemporaries of Belfast (T7) at the time of her release. Mikhail Kutuzov, Budyonny and Chapayev all ditto'd Shchors's shell performance but with reduced DPM in Budyonny's case. Belfast (T7) and Mikhail Kutuzov can cycle their guns for long periods of time without interruption. Their Smoke Generators are the great facilitator, increasing their chances to not only find uninterrupted periods where they can spam HE to their heart's content but also survive longer within a match to do it over and over again. While ships like Cleveland or Helena can mathematically spit out more DPM, the survivability of these other ships is far more limited. It's easier for Belfast (T7) to take full advantage of her DPM potential and do it for more of a given match than it is for comparable cruisers. Belfast (T7) puts out a lot of damage mostly because she can take advantage of situations other cruisers can't. While others have to fish for cover or worry about dodging, she can just hold down her left mouse button. Her angry smoke clouds easily bully other ships, creating 15km zones of control. The only limit to Belfast (T7)'s potential is HE penetration. The changes to HE penetration and the Inertial Fuse for HE Shells skill hurt tier VII light cruisers in a bad way. It's hard not to feel like this was an attack specifically against Belfast (T7) to reign her in. Without the Inertial Fuse for HE Shells (IFHE) skill, Belfast (T7) cannot directly damage a long list of ship hulls. Taking IFHE shortens this list considerably. However, she still cannot directly damage the hulls of tier VIII+ battleships even with this skill. Furthermore, IFHE neuters her fire-setting chances, hurting her efficiency against these high-tier chunguses (chungi?) . Thus, whether you choose to go with or without IFHE is up to you -- both styles are viable and both have their drawbacks. Presently, it feels like tier VII ships get pulled into higher tiered matchmaking more often (though who knows what the actual math is on that) so I tend to steer away from IFHE on Belfast (T7) for the moment. This hurts her efficiency against cruisers, but I tend to focus on accosting lolibotes and burning battleships so this works out well for me. Overall, Belfast (T7) is as crazy-efficient as any tier VII light cruiser could hope to be. Her Smoke Generator allows her long periods of time where she can cycle her guns with near impunity. Belfast (T7)'s fire arcs are both varied and crappy. That would matter more if she had to wiggle and dodge, but she doesn't. You have to love how naively optimistic Belfast (T7)'s design is. "Sure! Give it better-than-average damage output for a tier VII light cruiser. Never mind all of the stealth and smoke advantages she has! It will all work out!" There have been so many lessons learned over the years... I apologize for these crappy graphs. I borrowed them from my München review and didn't bother to spruce them up. The IFHE+ and Max categories are assuming that the ships are using the Demolition Expert skill, both fire-improving signals and, in Flint & Atlanta's case, using the Basic Fire Training skill as well. The base 9% fire chance per shell pumps the brakes on Belfast (T7)'s ferocity somewhat. She merely ends up being a better-than-average fire setter overall for a tier VII cruiser rather than a high-roller like the other lights... at least until you remember that she can park and hold down her left mouse button with little worry of reprisals. Fool me twice, shame on me Alright, so Belfast (T7) proved we can't have nice things. Wargaming tried their best to make sure that Belfast '43 (T8) didn't repeat this travesty. Their solution? Nerf her rate of fire into the ground. Belfast '43 (T8) has a terrible rate of fire for a tier VIII light cruiser. It's a half-second worse than the fifteen-gun Mogami 155mm's 10 second reload. That's right; Belfast '43 (T8) has a 10.5 second reload. As you can imagine, this puts her DPM numbers into the toilet. When slinging her AP shells, she has worse potential DPM than most of the heavy cruisers at her tier which is downright terrible. Normally, when your DPM is that bad, they give the ship some form of compensation for this. For example, Atago & Mogami 203mm have greatly improved dispersion and kick-butt torpedoes. Then there's Amalfi who has a long list of advantages including high speed, agility, SAP shells and her Exhaust Smoke Generator. Finally there's Albemarle and Cheshire which have ... uh ... Wait. Wait. Hold on, I can do this. Finally there's Atago & Mogami 203mm which have greatly improved dispersion and kick-butt torpedoes! So as you can see, Belfast '43 (T8) is going to be leaning pretty heavily into her other advantages. Thankfully, this deficit is somewhat mitigated when it comes to her HE shells. Wargaming artificially boosted the shell damage of Belfast '43 (T8)'s HE rounds, up from Belfast (T7)'s 2,100 max damage to 2,450; a 16.7% increase. Belfast '43 (T8)'s individual salvos thus hit harder. It's not a lot harder, mind you (especially once you account for the 0.33x penetration damage modifier), but it is harder. When you then rank Belfast '43 (T8)'s HE performance up in a DPM chart, she sits above all of the heavy cruisers but behind all of the lights. On paper, this feels right -- especially given what we've learned about Smoke Generators on cruisers. Iwaki Alpha, Mikhail Kutuzov and Belfast (T7) ruined the gimmick for everyone else. Still, it's hard not to feel like this penalized reload is just plain punitive. It's painful and prevents her from playing to the same extremes as Belfast (T7). Belfast '43 (T8) is nowhere near as good of a destroyer hunter, for example. The opportunities to pack some loving onto lolibotes is fleeting and her long reload often limits such molestations to a single broadside slap rather than a repeated, fast-cycled spanking. Though her alpha strike on her HE shells is improved, Belfast '43 (T8)'s HE shell performance isn't improved so much that your singular volleys will guarantee a mauling. At best, you're looking at 9,702 damage per broadside to a destroyer compared to Belfast (T7)'s 8,316. Yes, it's more damage, but it's not "call you daddy" kind of damage. These problems are further compounded when it comes to Belfast '43 (T8)'s fire setting. While her HE shell damage is improved, her fire chance remains the same ol' unfortunate 9%. With that shackled to her 10.5 second reload, her chance to set fires drops from "worst of the light cruisers" to Cheshire levels of bad. Mother truckin' CHESHIRE LEVELS OF BAD, ladies and gentlemen. ARGLBARGL!!! If you take Inertial Fuse for HE Shells on Belfast '43 (T8) you can largely forget about farming fire damage even if you pad everything back up with Demolition Expert and signals. You'll be lucky if you get one fire to stick on permanently against high-tier targets, to say nothing of two. Your opponent has to already have their Damage Control Party severely taxed before you'll stick blazes onto their hulls. This is not a ship I would recommend building for just fires -- it's too much of a gamble with her poor fire setting characteristics. Despite this, it would be a mistake to skip taking IFHE on Belfast '43 (T8). Unlike Belfast (T7) she has the higher base penetration number (30mm) to allow her to abuse any target she comes across, so the direct damage is worth it. You might be thinking, "oh, but her torpedoes surely balance things!" NO. NO! Go gargle some liquid nitrogen and shut your hoarfrost mouth! Forget her torpedoes. At 8km and with only a pair of triple launchers, Belfast '43 (T8)'s torpedoes will not carry the day unless your opponents are idiots. If something big enough drives within range of your fish, you're either playing co-op or things have gone to poop. They are weapons of desperation, no more and no less. Arguably, the only good they do is to allow Belfast '43 (T8) to keep up in close-range firefights against other cruisers, compensating for her horrible reload. That's at least until you remember that most other cruisers will be spitting out fish too. It's a damn good thing Belfast '43 (T8) has those improved HE shells because her AP shells and torpedoes are liabilities. Belfast '43 (T8)'s fire arcs are closer to uniform but still crappy. Her torpedo arcs have an 88º fire angle starting from 50º off her bow. This is also crappy. Belfast '43 (T8)'s DPM has a lot to be desired. With her 3,100 damage AP shells and 10.5s reload, she has some of the worst AP damage output of any of the tier VIII cruisers. The boosted damage on Belfast '43 (T8)'s HE shells allows her to keep ahead of the heavy cruisers, but she still ends up with one of the worst HE damage outputs of any of the tier VIII light cruisers. Think Ochakov-bad. Use islands and her smoke to give her more time to cycle her guns. Bruh. Role Models Despite their differences, Belfast (T7) and Belfast '43 (T8) have the same role. Their primary job is to make destroyer lives miserable. Their secondary role is to harass anything else that comes into range with HE spam, either from angry smoke or from the cover of islands. Belfast (T7)'s longer lasting smoke and higher rate of fire makes her better at this, but Belfast '43 (T8) holds her own mostly owing to her higher HE penetration. Belfast (T7) is better at putting the hurt on bigger ships with fire stacks while Belfast '43 (T8) is more focused on doing it with direct, penetrating hits. The ballistics of their guns facilitates camping islands. It's not quite American in terms of their arcs, but they are pretty damn floaty. This is good news given how much broadside these ships need to show in order to bring their weapons to bare. Both have terrible fire arcs but that largely doesn't matter unless they're out in open water (which they shouldn't be). Overall, I'm pretty disappointed with both of their armaments. In Belfast '43 (T8)'s case it's because her torpedoes are too short ranged and that long reload isn't fun to play with. It's not terrible, but it's not fun. In Belfast (T7)'s case, it's because she's overpowered. She could have just had the same semi-AP shells of the rest of the British light cruiser line and this whole mess could have been avoided or at least mitigated. Boo-urns, I say. Belfast (T7) need not apply. Belfast '43 (T8) only. VERDICT: Belfast (T7) overperforms, but no surprises there. The IFHE changes have at least turned her from a "brainless, spam HE at everything and hoover up stupidly-big damage" to a "brainless, spam HE at everything and hoover up only modestly-big damage." Belfast '43 (T8) is supposed to have a more balanced armament between torpedoes and her AP rounds, but she's utterly reliant upon her HE shells in order to compete so that kind of undoes anything interesting about her weapons. Defence Belfast (T7) Hit Points: 35,700 Belfast (T7) Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 13mm/10mm/19mm/19mm to 51mm Belfast '43 (T8) Hit Points: 38,400 Belfast '43 (T8) Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 16mm/13mm/19mm/19mm to 51mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 114mm belt. Torpedo Damage Reduction: 4% Please note the difference in scale at the bottom of these two charts. I know someone will complain if I don't point that out. I needed more room for Albermarle's "anti-fail" mitigating drydock. There's not a whole lot to say here. Belfast '43 (T8) doesn't have a lot of hit points for a tier VIII cruiser. It's not a catastrophic deficit by any means -- she just doesn't have a lot. Belfast (T7) has fewer still, but she sits a tier lower so the gap isn't as pronounced. Neither ship has access to heals via a Repair Party (could you imagine if they did?) so that really puts them behind the health-pool front-runners. Given their poor fire angles of their guns, they tend to show a lot of broadside. Their 114mm of belt armour is good enough, with only Belfast '43 (T8) being vulnerable to citadel hits from HE rounds, but that's only from HMS Thunderer (love you, boo! ♥). Still, unlike some of the more recent British cruisers, their citadel does not match the 'hump' of their belt armour, laying flush just over the waterline. At least they have that going for them. These ships have two pronounced flaws to their protection scheme, with one exacerbated by the poor fire angles of their guns. First, Belfast (T7) and Belfast '43 (T8) have only 13mm and 16mm worth of extremity armour respectively. This is easily overmatched by every battleship calibre gun they will face. Belfast (T7) is particularly vulnerable as her 13mm extremities can be overmatched by even 203mm AP shells making every heavy cruiser a very pronounced threat. Belfast '43 (T8) has it better against other cruisers, with only the 234mm and 240mm guns of Cheshire, Drake, Goliath and Henri IV capable of doing the same. The second flaw has to do with their citadel armour layout. On both ships, there is an enormous, 6mm "hole" over top of the machine spaces. If an AP shell of any caliber punches through the belt, it can easily overmatch this roof-armour and enter the citadel without contest. Thus, even shots aimed too high will still land citadel hits provided they drop through this large opening -- the 6mm plate only prevents AP shells smaller than 85mm from overmatching. It's not going to happen all of the time, but this second bite of the apple will generate a few more citadel hits that would otherwise ricochet if the armour was thicker. Because these ships have to present so much broadside to fire their guns, this vulnerability over their machine spaces can be exploited more often. These are squishy ships. HE of nearly any calibre hurts. AP will wreck them in short order. Their fragility is meant to be a key flaw in World of Warships. However, given their stealth, ballistics and smoke, this isn't as much of a pronounced weakness as it might otherwise be. If you're dumb enough to sit out in open water and try and trade with another cruiser (or battleship for that matter) you get the spanking you deserve. Belfast '43 (T8)'s armour layout is almost identical to her tier VII counterpart. There are subtle differences here and there, like around the steering gears (not pictured) but other than the differences in super-structure and extremities, they're functionally the same. You can clearly see that 6mm hole in her citadel roof that matches the raised 114mm belt section. Her turrets aren't likely to resist damage with 102mm front plates, 51mm side plates, roof and (mostly) 38mm barbettes. Belfast (T7) is very soft-skinned. Even destroyer-calibre HE shells are more than capable of direct-damaging her even without IFHE. VERDICT: Soft and squishy, just like her Azur Lane design. Agility Top Speed: 32.5kts Belfast (T7) Turning Radius: 730m/740m Belfast (T7) Rudder Shift Time: 9.6s Belfast (T7) 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 6.7º/s at 31.8kts (!) Belfast '43 (T8) Turning Radius: 680m Belfast '43 (T8) Rudder Shift Time: 9.9s Belfast '43 (T8) 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 5.9º/s at 26kts I have Edinburgh (and Belfast (T7) who clones her agility performance) listed here at a 740m radius. Her calculated radius is technically 736m or so. Normally Wargaming tends to round up when generating in-port stats but not always. So 730m or 740m is technically correct. I could go back and fix this graphic to have her overlap with Bayard and Baltimore but screw it. The best thing about Belfast '43 (T8)'s handling is her small turning circle radius relative to the other tier VIII cruisers. British light cruisers are weird. This should come as no surprise. The physics-defying, flying-saucer behaviour of British light cruisers is pretty infamous at this point. They bleed almost no speed in a turn and can, in fact, accelerate flat out with their rudder hard over in ways that appear to defy all logic and reason. Belfast (T7) conforms to these insane-norms, largely cloning Edinburgh's performance. Where most cruisers can only preserve up to 80% of their speed with their rudder hard over, Belfast (T7) preserves almost 98%. This gives her an excellent rate of turn, making her far more agile than her other manoeuvrability characteristics would imply. Furthermore, this ship has ridiculous acceleration. It's better than having the Propulsion System Modification 1 upgrade installed on a comparable ship which is probably why Belfast (T7) can't take it. Combined with her Hydroacoustic Search consumable, it's exceedingly difficult to catch Belfast (T7) with a spread of torpedoes while she's parked in smoke short of deploying a wide net in the form of a "wall of skill" from multiple salvos coordinated from several ships. The only drawback Belfast (T7) has, really, is her relatively sluggish rudder shift time. But seeing as she doesn't have to choose between taking Propulsion System Modification 1 and Steering Gears Modification 1, she can always choose to improve her rudder, so it's not real drawback there either. She gets the best of both worlds. The only place where Belfast (T7) lacks is her top speed. This makes dictating engagement distances a constant worry, especially given her lack of torpedoes to shoo-away bigger ships that she can't burn down quickly enough. It's not a crippling flaw by any means, but it's worth keeping in mind. Now, if you were hoping (or expecting) Belfast '43 (T8) to conform to the same behaviours as her predecessor, you're mistaken. The only element she inherits is the improved acceleration (and the inability to mount Propulsion System Modification 1). Belfast '43 (T8) behaves like a normal cruiser in all other respects to her agility. She may appear to have a smaller turning radius, but this is a booby-prize -- Belfast (T7)'s larger turning radius is an artifact of her preserved speed in a turn. When she was released, Belfast (T7) was advertised as having the same 680m turning radius as Belfast '43 (T8). However that derived value assumes that a cruiser only turns at 80% of her 4/4 speed, so it had to be corrected to its current value (which is, frankly, still off by 10m -- it's closer to 740m according to my tests, but whatever). So Belfast '43 (T8) has the tighter turning radius, however this only applies at 4/4 engine power. Things get ... well, they get weird at other engine settings. Belfast (T7) is the more agile ship with a tighter turning radius AND better rate of turn at all other engine settings. Here's a quick look at the other tier VIII cruisers with a top speed of 32.5 knots and how they compare to these two ships: Problems circled in red. Belfast '43 (T8) bleeds too much speed at all but the 4/4 engine settings in a sustained turn. Though this is true for almost every engine setting, it's especially pronounced at 1/2 and 3/4 power. Belfast (T7) (and Edinburgh) behaves better than its 730m (or is it 740m?) in-port turning radius would suggest at all engine settings, but this really stands out at 4/4 power where it bleeds almost no speed at all. Cleveland and AL Montpelier bleed too much speed at 4/4 engine power. The effects of these other engine settings are not likely to apply often in the average game of World of Warships. All you need to know is that Belfast '43 (T8) has worse performance than she should while Belfast (T7) has better-than-average performance at all engine settings. In short, other than in acceleration, Belfast '43 (T8) has worse agility than she should. Without the energy preservation that Belfast (T7) enjoys at 4/4 engine power, Belfast '43 (8) is otherwise unremarkable short of her small turning circle radius for a tier VIII cruiser. Belfast (T7) is the much better ship, agility wise with a laundry list of strange benefits. VERDICT: The improved acceleration is wonderful to have, especially for camping the relatively small smoke banks that these ship generate with the short action time of their Smoke Generators. Belfast (T7) has the standard, British light cruiser physics-defying engines while Belfast '43 (8) is pretty normal. Anti-Aircraft Defence Belfast (T7) Flak Bursts: 3+1 explosions for 1,330 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.8km. Belfast (T7) Long Ranged (up to 5.8km): 91dps at 90% accuracy (82dps) Belfast (T7) Medium Ranged (up to 3.5km): 255.5dps at 90% accuracy (230dps) Belfast '43 (T8) Flak Bursts: 3+1 explosions for 1,260 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.8km. Belfast '43 (T8) Long Ranged (up to 5.8km): 80.5dps at 90% accuracy (72dps) Belfast '43 (T8) Medium Ranged (up to 2.5km): 80.5dps at 90% accuracy (72dps) Belfast '43 (T8) Short Ranged (up to 2.0km): 143.5dps at 85% accuracy (122dps) Some of this makes sense to me and then some of it doesn't. The part that makes sense to me is where Belfast (T7) has better AA power than her '43 counterpart. She is, after-all, a more modernized version of her earlier self, so I can stomach her having improved AA power if only from that aspect. What doesn't make sense to me is the incongruity between the number of dual-purpose 102mm guns and the amount of sustained AA DPS and flak bursts between the two ships. Logically Belfast '43 (T8), with her twelve 102mm guns, should produce more long-range AA DPS and flak explosions with her larger battery of large-calibre weapons. Instead, Belfast (T7) not only has more DPS but she generates the same number of explosions AND those explosions individually hit harder too. I suppose I'm forced to chalk it up to some nebulous hand-waving towards Belfast (T7) having improved AA detection systems or some such nonsense. The only consolation is that at least Belfast '43 (T8)'s long-range AA woes are at least consistent with those found on her tier VIII sister-ship, Edinburgh. Suffice to say, Belfast '43 (T8) doesn't have good AA firepower. She lacks access Defensive AA Fire (thought that's honestly a bit of a booby-prize in the current meta when forced to choose between it and Hydroacoustic Search) and she doesn't have the raw numbers to ensure her own safety. Then again, that's not something that Belfast (T7) can easily boast either, so it's not like Belfast '43 (T8)'s predecessor has an enormous leg up or anything. The only real bummer is that Belfast '43 (T8) has to deal with tier X carriers on occasion which will never (ever) go well. Overall, Belfast '43 (T8) is a decided downgrade from what Belfast (T7) can do. She's even a downgrade from Edinburgh and most other tier VIII cruisers, only having better AA power than the Japanese heavies. Word will eventually get out that Belfast '43 (T8) is an easy mark for carriers. While you could take her Catapult Fighter to provide some protection, it's not worth losing her Surveillance Radar for what little deterrent a fighter actually provides. The values here have been adjusted by the weapon accuracy (90% for large and medium calibre guns, 85% for small) and then sorted by the formula DPS x [ range -1km ]. This provides an approximate ranking system for effectiveness of AA, valuing longer-ranged mounts than shorter ones. If you're looking for Belfast '43 (T8) she's third from the bottom -- just beneath Anchorage and above the two Japanese cruisers. Yeah, her AA is that bad. Most of these ships have the option of increasing their sustained AA DPS by 50% through the use of the Defensive AA Fire consumable, but not all of them will have it due to having to choose between it and Hydroacoustic Search. The exceptions are Cleveland, Montpelier, Ochakov and Wukong which will always have it and Edinburgh, Belfast '43, Anchorage, Irian and Amalfi which cannot take it at all. For those curious, Belfast (T7) would sit just beneath Wichita on this chart, so slightly better than Edinburgh. VERDICT: Belfast (T7) has decent (but not great) AA firepower. Belfast '43 (T8) has poor AA defence for her tier. Their Smoke Generators are arguably your best protection against planes, but you should be understandably reluctant to use that unless your life depends upon it. Refrigerator Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 11.34km / 8.91km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 7.16km/5.8km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 5.28km Maximum Firing Range: 15.42km I dunno what this is or where it's from, but it's pretty apt at describing Belfast's monstrous refrigerator (Vision Control). This is the reason that Belfast (T7) is overpowered. There's a lot to cover here, so let's get stuck in. Angry Smoke Clouds Smoke Generators on cruisers, particularly HE spamming cruisers, is highly contentious. The only thing worse than being on the receiving end of an endless torrent of HE spam is aircraft carriers. ... ... Huh? Oh, right. HE spam from smoke is pretty awful too. The two Belfasts have different strengths when it comes to their Smoke Generators. Belfast (T7) has easier to use, longer-lasting smoke. Belfast '43 (T8)'s smoke is much (much!) shorter duration but it comes off cool-down very quickly -- from 15 seconds from the dissipation of your last smoke cloud to as little as 8.2 seconds if you double stack Jack of All Trades with the November Foxtrot signal. Thus for higher-skilled players, Belfast '43 (T8)'s shorter duration smoke is less of a liability as it's more likely to be available when they need it. For less expert players, the (much) shorter duration of her smoke makes it much more dangerous to use as they're more likely to be caught out when it dissipates. This said, I do believe that Belfast (T7) has the better smoke. Though Belfast '43 (T8) has an extra charge, Belfast (T7) has more overall time in concealment. When you account for the bonus charge provided by Superintendent, Belfast (T7) has as much as 472 seconds worth of smoke cover per match (just shy of 8 minutes or just over with an X-ray Papa Unaone signal). Belfast '43 (T8) has only 275 seconds (just over 4.5 minutes and just shy of 5 minutes with an X-ray Papa Unaone signal) in a best-case scenario. But let's put this math into terms that really matter: the number of salvos each of these versions of Belfast can fire from smoke. As discussed earlier, Belfast '43 (T8) has really crappy DPM owing to her long reload. Let's assume our Belfasts are moving at 1/4 speed and open fire the moment they activate smoke, targeting enemies spotted for them by allies. Here are the best case for the number of salvos fired without being detected with a single charge of smoke: Belfast (T7) - 16 salvos (192 shells) Belfast '43 (T8) - 6 salvos (72 shells) It's not even a contest. Belfast '43 (T8) doesn't spam HE from smoke so much as take a few pot shots before scuttling away. Belfast (T7) meanwhile can sit comfortably and commit Dresden-style war crimes on anything that happens into range. Thus, Belfast '43 (T8) is much more dependent upon using island cover and kiting in open water than her tier VII-self. This doesn't make Belfast '43 (T8) bad by any stretch -- smoke of any kind is a very powerful consumable. Being more flexible with the use of open water and island terrain can lead to more longevity, given that firing into smoke has become a lot more common of a player skill since Belfast (T7)'s introduction back in the Fall of 2016. However, the knowledge on how to pull this off successfully is less likely to be found in a lower-tiered lobby. Furthermore, Surveillance Radar and long-ranged Hydroacoustic Search is much more prevalent within Belfast '43 (T8)'s matchmaking, while Belfast (T7) may end up being the only ship on either team with radar so she need not contend with it as often. So, the theory goes with Belfast '43 (T8) being less dependent upon smoke, her performance will somehow make feel more fair, balanced, earned, legitimate, or whatever other buzzwords people want to assign to her reduced smoke-crutch. The simple truth is that her smoke is worse. You need to do more work in Belfast '43 (T8) to get the same kind of potential as Belfast (T7)'s easy mode. Thus, Belfast (T7) has the better smoke. What's more, she has the better matchmaking which makes said smoke all the more advantageous. Belfast '43 (T8)'s smoke is strong, but Belfast (T7)'s smoke is game-changing. Showing Ark Royal how it's done If Belfast (T7) was simply an angry HE-spamming smoke cloud, she would still have garnered a lot of hate. Mikhail Kutuzov generated similar amounts of ire (and similar amounts of being pulled from the stores). But what makes these ships such monsters is their trifecta of lolibote hunting Vision Control (refrigerator) traits. Namely: Low surface detection to close with her targets to get close-to or inside of Surveillance Radar range. Hydroacoustic Search to neutralize torpedoes or charge smoke. Surveillance Radar to scatter the roaches. For a destroyer, these things are a nightmare. There is little to no warning before they're detected and once they are spotted, you risk being in Surveillance Radar range. Belfast '43 (T8) is more dangerous in this regard, having a long-ranged, 9km consumable than Belfast (T7)'s 8.5km radar. Belfast '43 (T8) is one of the few non-Soviet cruisers capable of stealth-radar, but her window for doing so is exceedingly small (less than 100m). Still, if she's detected it means that whatever ship is doing so is within her Surveillance Radar range which is a hella dangerous situation for any lolibote to be in. While there is a small chance that Belfast (T7) shorter range might not reach out to whatever destroyer that's lighting her, it's again a small window -- a mere 400m grace. The big difference between the two ships is what they can do once they have lit a target with Surveillance Radar. Again, Belfast '43 (T8)'s crappy DPM rears its ugly head and prevents her from being the god-tier lolibote molester like Belfast (T7). At best, Belfast '43 (T8) is getting off three salvos against a destroyer lit by Surveillance Radar with one of those being fired blind. Belfast (T7) gets three guaranteed salvos and maybe a fourth chasing the DD after it disappears. The only consolation here is that Belfast '43 (T8)'s higher alpha strike per salvo helps reduce the gap somewhat, but it's still around a 4,000 penetration damage advantage to Belfast (T7). Finally, it needs to be repeated but Belfast (T7) is one of the few ships armed with Surveillance Radar at all at tier VII. This alone is a huge advantage. Both ships are excellent destroyer hunters. Belfast '43 (T8) looks more attractive grace of her improved Surveillance Radar range, but Belfast (T7) wins out overall for the combination of higher DPM without giving up much of anything in the exchange. She's simply more capable given the opponents she faces due to her lower tiering. Mister Horse The presence of these ships forces your opponents to play differently. Belfast (T7)'s presence is more pronounced, precisely because of all of the Vision Control (refrigerator) advantages she brings to the table for a tier VII ship. She is visible less often owing to her longer-duration smoke. She's able to do more damage and start more fires from concealment. Finally, she's just as capable as Belfast '43 (T8) at sniffing out lolibotes. Belfast (T7) is a priority kill if she's on the enemy team. Yes, sometimes she's an easy mark -- particularly if she faces an opponent who knows how to blind fire into smoke and RNGeebus says . But I certainly don't like that gamble. These ships both have amazing refrigerators. VERDICT: God tier, the both of them. Belfast (T7) wins out, mostly because she's only tier VII. Killing destroyers wins games and these things are purpose-built to make their lives short. Final Evaluation Long, long ago in a fondly remembered patch from many iterations before, Wargaming wished to add a new cruiser line to World of Warships. This was in the before-time, back when the game only had American, Japanese, German and Soviet cruisers -- and even then, only a single line for each nation. This was before Inertial Fuse for HE Shells existed, when four-stacks of fires were an ever-present danger and a single flooding critical could doom a ship. It was a time of a cross-drops and inpenetrable smoke that even a battleship could fire from undetected. It was a time of fresh optimism as the third battleship line ever had just been introduced and German ships were actually good. And so it was the British light cruisers were added to World of Warships and with them, a whole slew of odd features. Repair Parties across half the line. SAP shells before SAP was a thing. No HE rounds. Single fire torpedoes. Improved engine performance. Weird, short-emission time smoke. And with this new release, Wargaming needed a premium. Belfast (T7) was to be that premium. She would resurrect elements of the earlier design iteration of this weird and wonderful British light cruiser line. She kept the HE that had been nixed from Supertest from the tech tree line. But to do so she had to sacrifice almost everything else that made the British light cruisers unique. No SAP. No torpedoes. No heals. They gave her extra detection consumables to compensate and assumed the job balanced and done. Well, we all learned how that turned out. Reception was everything from "it's good" to "it's too good" and she'd only get better over time. Belfast (T7)'s legacy would be to remain on sale for 12 months before being pulled for being too popular (for obvious reasons). Moreso than almost any other over-performing premium in the game, she became the face of "pay to win" in World of Warships, earning the justifiable moniker "Payfast". This was a sorry fate for such an important museum ship. Belfast (T7) has enjoyed a long reign as an overpowered premium. She has survived well over the years with only two major hits to her dominance. The first was matchmaking. Gone are the days where tier VII ships enjoyed being top-tier in most of their games. With the sale of tier IX premiums, the higher tiers are so well populated that she gets dragged up far more than down. The second blow came with the changes to HE penetration and Inertial Fuse for HE Shells. She was stripped her of the ability to directly damage tier VI and VII battleship hulls without IFHE and tier VIII and IX battleships even with IFHE. Cruiser armour improved too. Her HE shells shatter against a wider range of targets she faces than they once did. Though her efficiency has been hit and hit badly, I don't think she's been brought into line. Belfast (T7) is still ridiculously capable. Her presence upon the enemy team forces players to change the way they play until she's neutralized (or recognized to being played poorly). Which brings me to Belfast '43 (T8). I'd argue the best thing about her is her consumable combination, but even that's nowhere near as dominant as her predecessor. Higher tiered matchmaking sees to that. The prevalence of Surveillance Radar, the crappier quality of her Smoke Generator and horribad reload ensures that Belfast '43 (T8) doesn't ditto Belfast (T7)'s performance. But this is still a ship to be wary of, especially if you're muckin' about in a destroyer. Belfast '43 (T8) simply isn't the nightmare to larger ships the way Belfast (T7) used to be. She's still unpleasant to face. Angry smoke clouds and HE spamming islands aren't fun to deal with if you're in a battleship. They're not much fun for anyone to deal with frankly. She is still a serious threat to any destroyer, but that's not unique to her. Any Surveillance Radar light cruiser at tier VIII+ is something destroyers need be wary of. Still, Belfast '43 (T8) doesn't make my cut of ships I'd go out of my way to play. She's a museum ship, though, with lots of history to her name. In competitive, her smoke and radar will ensure she's got some legs to her, but she's not going to be a monstrous repeat of Belfast (T7). I'm not entirely convinced her slow reload will keep her in line. It just takes her longer to farm the same kind of damage Belfast (T7) used to. Belfast '43 (T8) has potential -- you just need to put in more work. That'll be a turn-off for some (and understandably so), but a blessing for others that want such performance gated behind a higher skill wall. Overall, I have to say I'm happy that Belfast '43 (T8) is now available, if only because she's such an important ship historically and as a museum ship. This iteration lets people taste the same style of game play as Belfast (T7) can do, but with fewer tears of justifiable rage coming from your opponents. In PVE modes, Belfast '43 (T8) even manages to be the better ship, if only because she has torpedoes and bots are dumb. Belfast '43 (T8) really only has one major failing, honestly. She's a horrible commander trainer for the Royal Navy Light Cruiser line. Here we are, four years later, and we still don't have a good Royal Navy light cruiser premium for training up commanders. The Belfast-twins use HE, necessitating the use of Demolition Expert or Inertial Fuse for HE Shells -- skills useless on the tech-tree light cruisers. That just leaves the heavy-cruiser premiums. Exeter is powerful, bless her heart, but the penatlies of playing low-tiered ships hurts her earning potential. London does it a little better. But again, you may be tempted to take Demolition Expert on these ships. That just leaves Cheshire, bloody-monkey-sucking CHESHIRE as the de facto "best" British light-cruiser trainer among the cruisers. CHESHIRE, Wargaming's apology letter for the two years of Royal Navy battleship HE spam, as the only cruiser-premium worth training British light cruiser captains. What the Hell!? Welp, let's hurry up and wait. Maybe Plymouth will rescue us all. Somehow I doubt it. She's not likely to be accessible to everyone even if she does tick all of the other boxes. The worst thing about Belfast '43 (T8) is that she has kept Cheshire relevant. For those unaware, LittleWhiteMouse hates Cheshire and hated reviewing her. That Belfast '43 (T8) forced Mouse to remember Cheshire's existence is a crime for which she cannot be forgiven. It pisses her off so much she starts referring to herself in the third person. In Closing Heyo! ♪ Double-feature over! I hope you all enjoyed this detailed look at the two ships. I hope my colour coordination helped differentiate the two for you. Thank you very much for reading and thank you so much to my patrons for making these reviews possible. 
  17. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review - Z-44

    The following is a review of the German premium destroyer Z-44. 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. Let's turn back the clock a few years, all the way back to mid 2016. If you had told me then that Wargaming was adding a German premium destroyer, the kind of ship I would have imagined then is very different from the kind of destroyers we're seeing now. I wouldn't have imagined improved AP shell performance. I wouldn't have gone with shorter smoke duration. I doubt I would even have imagined adding Hydroacoustic Search. It would have been a bare bones ship with nary a gimmick in sight other than being German. Z-44 feels like something I would have come up with then. You know, before there was a German destroyer tech-tree line -- where simply being German would have been enough to make her stand out from the crowd. In this regard, Z-44 reminds me a lot of Blyskawica's design. At a glance, Z-44 is a hybrid destroyer with a torpedo-bias. She has nothing special in the way of consumables save that short duration Smoke Generator. Her gunnery is lacklustre. Even her hit point pool is modest. With the near constant string of "more different" design, it seems like Z-44 doesn't have a chance to stand out and capture attention. Simply being German isn't enough to sell Z-44, not when there's a glut of other German premium destroyers like Z-39, T-61 and her sister-ship, Z-35. Yet hidden within this unimaginative veneer, Z-44 has some frightening potential that echoes the terror of Benham. Quick Summary: A Type 1936B-class German destroyer that trades access to a Hydroacoustic Search and main battery DPM for a bigger torpedo armament of longer-ranged, fast-reloading fish. PROS Solid chunk of health with 19,400hp. Good AP DPM. Excellent HE penetration, allowing her to directly damage up to 32mm hull sections. Fast reload on her quintuple torpedo launchers. Good range (12km) and speed (64 knots) on her fish. CONS Horrible HE DPM & fire setting. Terrible gun handling with bad rearward fire arcs. Anemic torpedo warheads that do only 13,700 damage per hit. Slow rate of turn. Short-ranged AA firepower with no flak. She's a German destroyer without Hydroacoustic Search. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / CASUAL / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH/ Extreme Z-44 is ostensibly a torpedo-destroyer. This does not deviate much from the formula first played at tier II, so even an inexperienced player will find the premise familiar. Her game play focuses around putting fish in the water and keeping herself from being detected which is pretty bare-bones material for destroyers. The only reason this doesn't merit a 'simple' evaluation is the added complexity of Surveillance Radar ranges with which she must contend, especially with her fish being incapable of out-ranging Soviet versions of the consumable. There is a lot of potential for expert players to tease out more performance from this ship. This includes, but is not limited to: Just Dodging™ (HA!), knowing the spotting ranges of rival lolibotes, knowing which of these destroyers your ship is capable of defeating in a gunfight (and how to do it), how to bait and survive radar, etc. This, again, should be familiar for any veterans who have put a lot of time into torpedo-destroyers that have only a modest gunship element to their game-play. Options Consumables What's most interesting about Z-44's consumables is what she lacks. She does not get access to a Hydroacoustic Search consumable which is found on most German destroyers. This is a significant drawback. Z-44's Damage Control Party is standard for a destroyer. This has unlimited charges, a 5 second active period and a 40 second reset timer. Her Smoke Generator is a slightly improved version for a German destroyer, but still of poorer quality than Smoke Generators of other nations. It has a 20 second emission time with each cloud of smoke lasting 77 seconds instead of the normal 73 for tier IX German destroyers. She starts with three charges and it has a 160 second reset timer. Finally, she has a standard Engine Boost consumable. This provides an 8% speed increase for 120 seconds. It comes with three charges and has a 120 second reset timer. Upgrades Ostensibly, you'll want to build Z-44 as a torpedo-destroyer, but you can mix in some gunship elements if that's to your taste. 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, Engine Boost Modification 1 is best in slot two if you can afford it. It will set you back 17,000 from the Armory. If that's not available to you, default to Engine Room Protection. Given her reliance upon her torpedoes, Torpedo Tube Modification 1 is best in slot three. This combines with Main Armaments Modification 1 to further reduce the chance of your tubes being temporarily disabled and increases her torpedo speed from 64kts to 67.2kts. If you're looking to make better use of your guns, equipping Main Battery Modification 2 to increase her sluggish turret traverse will go a long way to improving her quality of life. Otherwise default to Aiming System Modification 1. Propulsion System Modification 1 is your best choice in slot four, giving you more acceleration from a dead stop which is helpful when island camping or hiding in smoke. 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. And finally, Torpedo Tubes Modification 2 is your best choice in slot six for a torpedo-destroyer role. This reduces her reload form 85 seconds to 72.25 seconds (or 65.03 seconds when paired with the Torpedo Armament Expertise commander's skill). Alternatively, for improved gunship performance take, Main Battery Modification 3 to drop her reload from 4.2 seconds to 3.7 seconds (or 3.33 seconds with the Basic Fire Training commander's skill). Note that this does reduce her gun rotation rate from an already lethargic 8º/s to 7º/s. Commander Skills The choice on how to play Z-44 solidifies with her commander skill choices. I've highlighted some of the better skills for her but you cannot afford them all. 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. If you have elected to play Z-44 as a dedicated torpedo destroyer, then Torpedo Armament Expertise is a must. If you're leaning more towards playing a traditional German gunship then you can skip that. After this, pick any of the red-square skills to your taste. In my testing, I favoured two builds after taking Torpedo Armament Expertise. The first included Adrenaline Rush paired with Radio Location. The alternative propped up my gunnery (somewhat) with Basic Fire Training, Expert Marksman and Preventative Maintenance. This isn't an exhaustive list. For example, if you can make Torpedo Acceleration work for you with faster, but shorter range torpedoes, go for it. This merely covers builds from which you'll tend to get the most mileage. Camouflage Z-44 comes with Type 10 Camouflage providing the usual tier IX premium-ship bonuses of: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -20% to post-battle service costs. +100% to experience gains. Z-44's default camo (white) is nice and striking. Firepower Main Battery: Five 128mm guns in 5x1 turrets in an A-B-P-X-Y superfiring configuration Torpedoes: Ten torpedo tubes in 2x5 launchers mounted ahead and behind the rear funnel. The Type 1936B Destroyers bear a cursory resemblance to the Fletcher-class. They're 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 their performance is worlds away different from the Fletcher-class, both as gun and torpedo platforms as each over-specializes towards a singular aspect. Z-44 focuses on her torpedoes. Guns There is a statistics that I don't often talk about. It largely gets lost with all of the noise I make about gun fire arcs, fire setting and DPM. Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to talk about all of the rest, but there's an element that conspires against both Z-35 and Z-44 to make them less than ideal gun platforms. Wargaming defines these terms as Fuse Arming Threshold. Fuse Arming Threshold is the minimum amount of steel an AP shell needs to hit before the fuse on board arms. If a shell fails to strike a plate thick enough, it will continue to pass through the ship without exploding. In game terms this means that you will only see over-penetrations unless the shell hits something thick enough to prime the shell. This value is normally 1/6th of the shell diameter. In both Z-35 and Z-44's case, this works out to 21mm. Now this value is important because most structural steel of destroyers does not exceed 19mm, with tier VI and VII destroyers only having 16mm. This means that unless an enemy destroyer angles (thus increasing the straight-line thickness of their armour), Z-35 and Z-44's AP shells cannot arm and will only ever over-penetrate in destroyer knife-fights. In order to fuse against a tier VIII+ destroyer hull, your target has to be angled at 35º towards you. In order to fuse against a tier VI or VII destroyer hull, it needs to be angled at 40º towards you. So unless your opponent is taking an aggressive stance, Z-35 and Z-44's AP shells won't fuse. This is stupid-important when you begin comparing the damage output of their guns. Z-44's DPM drops from 70,714 AP DPM (0.33x penetration damage) to 21,287 DPM (0.1x over-penetration damage). Compare this to the 35,357 DPM (0.33x penetration damage) of her HE shells. Why does this matter? Because Z-44 has absolutely garbage damage output on her HE shells. This is owing to Z-44's slower-than-expected reload. Unlike Z-35 which reloads 0.6s faster than expected for a German 128mm gun, Z-44 reloads 0.2 seconds slower. So not only is she a gun behind Z-46, her guns are individually putting out shells at a reduced rate. The two values per bar are for full damage (citadel hits) and penetration damage (0.33x). Z-44's AP DPM looks very respectable but it would be a mistake to rely upon it in knife fights against other destroyers. In most circumstances except against angled targets, these shells will over-penetrate, giving her even less effective DPM than her HE rounds which are terrible. Z-44 is only managing 21,429 DPM with AP when she over-penetrates. That's worse than Paolo Emilio's HE output. Z-44 cannot keep pace with the damage output of other destroyers, not when there's a risk of her AP shells over-penetrating. In knife fights, this is a death sentence unless your opponents fool enough to offer that precious angle where your shells can penetrate but they don't angle so much that it prompts a ricochet check. These close-range duels are made all the more uncomfortable by Z-44's poor gun handling and awkward fire angles. You can deep spec into Expert Marksman and Main Battery Modification 2 to make up for her sluggish turret traverse if you wish. This largely relegates Z-44's gunnery to the role bombarding larger ships such as cruisers and battleships and outright avoiding destroyer on destroyer engagements unless she has the very obvious upper hand. In this regard, she very much reminds me of Japanese torpedo destroyers. In that role, Z-44 is much better suited. Not only are her AP shells more likely to find hull sections that will arm them properly, her HE shells can take advantage of their increased penetration. Z-44 can damage up to 32mm hull sections with her HE rounds without having to resort to using the Inertial Fuse for HE Shells commander skill. This boosts her admittedly poor fire setting characteristics relative to gunships like Kitakaze, though it's not enough to pull it out of the doldrums. When fully upgraded, she is no better at setting fires than a Fletcher-class. Similar to the Fletcher-class, her ballistics are very floaty, so boosting her range is ill-advised as gunnery becomes uncomfortable at anything beyond very modest ranges. Overall, Z-44 is a poor gunship. Duels with enemy destroyers are limited to opportunistic strikes at best. While her AP shells can put out some respectable damage, she's far from a terror when it comes to hammering larger ships from afar. Z-44's fire arcs are strangely worse than her sister's. Her arcs are not bad on the attack with four guns able to shoot 25º off her bow, but you'll need to offer up a full broadside to fire with all five. Rearward, things get pretty terrible. Her problems here are compounded with her poor 8º/s gun rotation.. Friesland still rules the roost when it comes to fire setting. Z-44's fire setting is pretty bad, but it pays to keep in mind that she's more likely to be hoovering up direct damage from HE hits than other destroyers, so the numbers may end up being closer overall. Still, it's all kinds of frustrating when a battleship blows their Damage Control Party from a torpedo hit and you can't follow it up with a blaze for that sweet, sweet damage-over-time effect. Torpedoes The woes of Z-44's guns are paid back in full with her torpedoes. She is a torpedo-destroyer after all which is odd because at a glance her torpedoes look crappy. Do not let the low damage per fish fool you. The strength of Z-44 as a weapon platform comes from the combination of her two quintuple torpedo salvos and their wicked-fast reload. Fully upgraded and specialized to cut down her reload time, Z-44 can drop a full spread of torpedoes every 65 seconds at full health. Add on the Adrenaline Rush skill, at 50% health, Z-44 is launching torpedoes every 58.5 seconds. This is faster than a lot of her opponents expect given that it takes a minimum of 49 seconds to run to their full range (9.6km at 72kts with Torpedo Acceleration & Torpedo Tube Modification 1) and upwards of 70 seconds (12km at 64kts). This means that by the time Z-44's torpedoes are spotted, she's ready to launch another salvo. For battleships this means that every other shot they take, they have to contend with dodging fish from a concerted attack from Z-44. This makes closing with Z-44 dangerous for larger ships, especially if they do not have a Hydroacoustic Search consumable ready. Though her torpedoes do not have improved concealment, the fan of five torpedoes per launcher presents a serious challenge when it comes to dodging. Z-44's long range with her torpedoes is very welcome, especially in the radar-heavy environment of higher tiers. She can outstrip British and American cruiser & battleship borne Surveillance Radar entirely though she still needs to be wary of Soviet cruisers and destroyer variants. She is most comfortable up on a flank, sending constant waves of fish into parked enemies bow tanking the rest of your team. So long as no other destroyer (or aircraft) comes to spoil the party, Z-44 can rack up a surprising amount of damage in short order. Of course, this all hinges upon your opponents being idiots. This is the common lament of any torpedo destroyer as these high alpha weapons are fickle in the extreme. Some games, you can do no wrong. On others, you'll be lucky for even a handful of hits. Though Z-44's reload is fast, it's not like she holds a candle to Benham's ability to make torpedo soup. Z-44 drops about 25% more torpedoes per minute than Fletcher but her torpedoes only deal 72% of their damage. If all you're getting is incidental hits, that's not enough to keep pace and you certainly can't rely upon Z-44's guns to make up the difference. The success of this ship hinges entirely upon getting into an opportune firing position and being able to put sustained pressure on the Reds with multiple reloads worth of torpedoes. In some matches with aggressive enemy gunships or aircraft, this just isn't possible. Thus, like most torpedo-destroyers, Z-44 is very inconsistent with her performance. Being able to fire ten torpedoes every minute is novel. It's even fun when everything's going well, but it's so easy for the Reds to undo. VERDICT: Her guns are worse than they look and relying on them will get you into trouble. Her torpedoes are amazing and a lot of fun to use. She's not quite Benham levels of torpedo-trolling but she gets close. Durability Hit Points: 19,400 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 19mm / 13mm / 19mm / 19mm There's not a whole lot to say here. Z-44 is covered with 19mm structural plate from bow to stern with no deviations. Every HE hit short of the 100mm secondaries off some French ships is going to hurt. Z-44 has a respectable amount of health, but she's by no means competitive in this area, lacking the truly gargantuan hit point totals of ships like Paolo Emilio or the health regeneration from Repair Party equipped ships like Neustrashimy or Östergötland. This necessitates picking her gun battles with extreme care. Her chunktacular hit point total will only allow her to trade with select opponents -- either ones where she commands a considerable health advantage or those with poor gun performance. Taking her in a heads up fight with another gunship is generally a loser-move without a whole lot of backup. Z-44 comes in just shy of the magical 20,000hp benchmark. To be fair, this is a lot of health but at tier IX with the proliferation of the Repair Party consumable, it just doesn't hold up on its own merits. This means that while she may hold the temporary advantage in a one-off encounter, over the course of a whole match, she doesn't have the endurance of some of the other destroyers she competes with. VERDICT: Decent starting health but no heals and no armour makes her no better than average overall. Spend her hit points wisely. 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 Z-44 shares identical performance characteristics to her predecessor at tier VIII, Z-35. While not unprecedented for two sister ships to clone each other's agility, this isn't a hard-fast rule. One need simply look at the Fletcher-class to see the variety of performance characteristics between the four ships, with Black and Fletcher mirroring one another and Chung Mu and Kidd sharing different characteristics to the lead-ship. For such a large destroyer, it's perhaps unsurprising that she's a bit of a sluggard. While her top speed is alright, her larger turning radius makes her come about more slowly than most of her contemporaries. Z-44 feels closer to a nimble light cruiser than a true destroyer. This said, if you elect to equip Main Battery Modification 3, she will out-turn her turrets which is incredibly frustrating. Because of her deficiencies in gunship battles, her Engine Boost tends to be best used for controlling engagement distances. Use it to get away from fights rather than to navigate from point A to B. Z-44's cumbersome handling compounds the troubles of her poor gun handling and lack of a Hydroacoustic Search consumable. Torpedoes are more of a danger. Knife fights are uncomfortable, forcing you to reach for her rudder to track opponents. While she's still a destroyer and fully capable of Just Dodging™ as much as the next lolibote, it's hard to feel confident at her helm. Z-44's lack of agility makes every unexpected encounter a potential crisis. For a destroyer that performs best out on a flank, this is not a good trait to have. Z-44 has worse agility than Z-46 owing to her slower top speed. VERDICT: She has a decent top speed, but that's about it. Anti-Aircraft Defence Short Ranged (up to 3.0km): 255.5dps at 95% accuracy (242.7dps) Just Dodge™. VERDICT: Just Dodge™. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 7.78km / 6.11km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 3.7km / 3.0km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 3.06km Maximum Firing Range: From 11.11km to 15.47km It's not Z-44's guns nor her torpedoes or health that defines her nearly so much as her Vision Control. Let's start with her consumable situation. As has already been lamented, Z-44 does not have Hydroacoustic Search. Were she a destroyer from any other nation but German (or British) it wouldn't even be worth mentioning. However, German destroyers normally do have a hydro to play with and the fact that Z-44 doesn't is an unfortunate exception. Given her role, this isn't a terrible handicap however there's no arguing that having said consumable isn't advantageous. Without it, this further limits what team play this fat destroyer provides. She's certainly a clumsy forward spotter (and we'll get to that), but with hydro she could occasionally be of some use sniffing out torpedoes and (under very extreme duress given her gun performance) enemy ships hiding in smoke. On more than a few occasions during play-tests, I found myself noting all of the circumstances where it would have helped (including two close-range gun duels with a Kitakaze and one with a Fletcher through smoke). Boo-urns, I say. It's even more unfortunate that Z-44 doesn't conform to the German norms of having Hydroacoustic Search but does conform to having one of the crappier Smoke Generators in the game. Before I get too headlong into my [edited] here, let me be fair: Z-44's Smoke Generator is improved over the standard baseline version for a tier IX German destroyer. Her smoke clouds should only be lasting 73 seconds. Instead she gets a tier X version and a bonus of a whole four more seconds. Whoo. Please note my dripping sarcasm. Compare this to the 93 seconds enjoyed by Japanese and Soviet destroyers, to say nothing of the 127 seconds enjoyed by those filthy capitalist dogs lolibotes from 'Murica. 'Murica sez: "Deal with It." So all of that isn't looking good, but it's made worse by her horribad surface detection. Her base 7.78km detection radius is ... well, it's not insurmountable but I couldn't blame you for painting a big fat Nope.jpg across this ship and never looking back. There's a long list of destroyers within her matchmaking that can out-spot her 6.11km surface detection. Here's the list, with dangerous (to Z-44) gunships highlighted in blue. Tier VII: Haida (5.67km), Shiratsuyu (5.81km) & Z-39 (6.08km) Tier VIII: Kagero, HSF Harekaze, Asashio, AL Yukikaze (5.37km), Cossack (5.48km), Lightning (5.52km), Benson, Kidd, Hsienyang, Loyang (5.8km), Öland (5.83km), Orkan (5.91km), Siliwangi (5.94km), Ognevoi (6.08km), Akizuki (6.1km) Tier IX: Yugumo (5.52km), Neustrashimy (5.56km), Chung Mu (5.66km), Jutland (5.7km), Fletcher, Black (5.8km), Benham, Z-46 (5.94km), Östergötland (5.99km), Kitakaze (6.1km) Tier X: Shimakaze (5.59km), Somers (5.8km), Yueyang (5.83km), Gearing (5.94km), Daring (5.97km), Grozovoi, Halland (5.99km), Hayate, Z-52 (6.08km) This long list (and her lack of a hydro) makes contesting caps a stupidly-dangerous proposition. Knowledge of this list and paying close attention to the enemy roster and minimap is necessary before she dares stick her nose anywhere near those buoy rings. This goes double if a carrier is present and operating aircraft anywhere near her. The best practice for Z-44 is to turn tail whenever she is detected unless you know for certain you can win the ensuing gun-fight. Odds are, though, you're going to have to contend with your enemy's friends interjecting onto the encounter, so discretion is often the better course. I tend to reserve her Engine Boost consumable for these times to open up the distance. Her top speed is generally good enough to play keep-away, so that's a blessing. Using Radio Location is a tremendous help in knowing where threats will be coming from and I cannot recommend it enough on this ship, but that's torpedo-destroyer 101. And so that's the unfortunate situation with Z-44. She can't out-spot most of her opponents. She struggles to outfight gunships. She can't rely on stealth or smoke to keep her safe. This means keeping her opponents at arm's length and capitalizing on the good range of her fish to see out most encounters. Had she been more stealthy, she could have at least flirted with scouting, spotting or cap control in a pinch. But those avenues are largely closed to her until the enemy roster cleans out. VERDICT: Poor marks all around which greatly limits the number of classic destroyer-roles she can safely undertake. Cap circles are dangerous, yo. Z-44 is poorly equipped to contest them beyond flooding them with fish every minute or so. Final Evaluation Cut away all of the nonsense and Z-44 boils down to a single question: Do you want to play a torpedo-destroyer that can put a lot of fish in the water very quickly BUT her gunnery sucks, her concealment sucks and her torpedoes don't hit very hard? To that I have to ask: "how many fish" and "how hard are they hitting?". Those numbers have to be pretty respectable in order to make this ship work.. Honestly, the first number piqued my interest. Z-44's reload time on her fish is great, especially for quintuple launchers. It's kind of crazy just how many torpedoes she puts out (7.1 per minute, stock) especially when you compare it to ships like Fletcher (5.7), Neustrashimy (4.8) or Yugumo (4.3 with Type 93 mod 2s without Torpedo Reload Booster). Her fish may hit like fluffy bunny kisses but that's okay when there are so many of them. Her torpedoes aren't slow and their range is decent. She almost holds her own compared to Benham in this regard which pretty damn high praise. Except she doesn't. Nothing gets close to Benham's ridiculous 11.3 torpedoes per minute when she's wiggly enough to dump fish off both sides (and she so often is). Benham's fish hit 1.5k damage harder than Z-44's, they move 1 knot faster at the expense of 1.5km worth of range. Benham can put out sixteen torpedoes every 85 seconds to Z-44's ten. So while Z-44 echoes some of Benham's performance, it's definitely not on par. I suspect Wargaming is more than a little gun-shy of repeating that mistake. Z-44 puts out a lot of torpedoes and she puts them out quickly -- fast enough to be viable but not so fast as to be immediately compelling. This is her entire gimmick, like it or lump it. All of this said, it would be a mistake to underestimate what Z-44 can do. She is definitely a ship worth keeping an eye on if it appears on the enemy team. Torpedo spam is not fun to contend with if you're in a battleship. While Z-44 is an easy mark for destroyer-hunters (be they cruisers, carriers or other lolibotes), left to her own devices she can cause a lot of chaos in a short amount of time. I will leave it to angrier people than me to declare whether or not Z-44 is good for the game (go check out their YouTube video reviews when you're done here!). As an investment, I'll give her a pass. If I'm going to play a vulnerable torpedo destroyer, I'd rather have the ability to sneak around or push a cap. For novel torpedo action, I'll reach for Asashio. Z-44's okay, but short of using her to complete "get X number of torpedo hit missions", I'm not likely to want to play her again. It's been a while since I've let a jpg have the last word so here you go: 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.
  18. West Virginia is a slow brick with the biggest, baddest guns you're likely to find this side of tier VI -- at least until the upcoming Russian battleship tech tree. I want to thank Wargaming for providing me access to this ship. This is the release version of the vessel and all of the statistics discussed here are current as of November 30th, 2018. Be aware that Prinz Eitel Friedrich's statistics discussed in this article are still a Work in Progress and are subject to change. PROS Armed with 406mm guns with excellent damage, penetration and overmatch ability. That's it. That's all she's got. No, I'm not making this up. That one "Pro" is the reason that decides if you want this ship or not. CONS Small hit point pool of 50,200hp. Highly vulnerable to HE spam. Very slow and no improved energy preservation while turning. Bad anti-aircraft defense. Large surface detection range of 16.4km base. Overview Skill Floor: SIMPLE / Casual / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme Standard-type battleships are some of the simplest ships to play in World of Warships. West Virginia 1941 (WV41) makes this even easier by all but eliminating complicated decision-making for novice players. She's too slow to flex once she's committed to an engagement. Her AP shells are so good that you don't need to consider changing ammo types. She's going to get her bows overmatched by most of the battleships you'll face so don't worry too much about manoeuvres. You're also a ready victim of aircraft attack, so why bother stressing about it? Yep, dirt simple. Of course if you want to try-hard WV41 will reward you for it. She's got enough belt armour and agility to tank effectively. Her gunnery is wonderful so picking the right targets pays off huge. While she is slow, if you fancy yourself a master strategist then knowing just how and where you need to go to have the most influence will make all the difference. – One of, if not the worst at its tier. This is a pronounced weakness. – Middle of the pack at its tier. Not terrible, but not terribly good either. – Has a significant advantage over her tier mates. A solid, competitive performer. – No other ship at its tier does this as well as this ship. Her main battery guns are the about her. Her handling and anti-aircraft firepower are just plain . Her defense and concealment are passable, earning a rating. Options The only thing of note with WV41's options are her two camouflage patterns. Consumables WV41's Damage Control Party is standard for an American battleship. This has unlimited charges, a 20 second active period and a 120s / 80s reset timer. Her Repair Party is also standard, healing back up to 14% of her health over 28 seconds. This has a 120s / 80s reset timer. Finally, she has a Spotter Aircraft. There's nothing unusual here, with a 100s active period and a 360s / 240s reset timer. It starts with 3 base charges. Upgrades We're looking at the usual suspects for mid-tier American battleships with the exception of any anti-aircraft modifications. Like Arizona, WV41 doesn't have the AA power worth upgrading. Start with Main Armaments Modification 1. Next, take Damage Control Modification 1. Fires are a big concern for USN Battleships. After that, it's Artillery Plotting Room Modification 1. This will get your main battery range up from 16.06km to 18.63km. For your last slot, Damage Control Modification 2 is optimal for helping mitigate Fire damage. However, if you prefer, you can take Steering Gears Modification 2 to help with her sluggish handling. It's not going to do much, but every bit helps. Camouflage By default, WV41 1941 comes with Type 10 Camouflage. Alternatively, you can purchase W. Virginia 1941 as a cosmetic swap for 3,000 doubloons. Both types have identical bonuses, providing: 50% bonus experience gains 10% reduction to maintenance costs 3% reduction in surface detection 4% reduction in enemy accuracy. The big difference is how they sound. Yes, the W. Virginia 1941 camouflage has a custom horn! http://shipcomrade.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/West_Virginia_shiphorn_2.wav WV41's default camouflage pattern can be swapped for an alternative palette for those who have completed the second-medals section of the American Cruisers Collection. This changes the blue disruption pattern to a pale grey. For 3,000 doubloons, you can unlock the W. Virginia 1941 camouflage in red and brown. While this has the same economic bonuses, you do get a cute horn to toot Firepower Main Battery: Eight 406mm/45s in 4x2 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration Secondary Battery: Eight 127mm/25s on the deck and and Ten 127mm/51 mounted in casemates. Right, West Viginia 1941's main battery guns are the only good thing about this ship. I'm going to avoid doing Wargaming's hype-job for them by gushing overmuch about how good these guns are. This said, WV41's guns are easily the best battleship-caliber weapons available at tier VI. They're so good you're going to pay for it in almost every other facet of this vessel. If what we go over here in her Firepower section doesn't wow you, then this isn't a ship worth paying for. The Unnecessary I don't want to waste too much time on WV41's secondaries. There's not much going for them. They have a 4km range. They reload in 4.5 seconds. She fires a maximum of four guns (not turrets -- guns) per side. There's no potential here. Obligatory, ugly stats-dump. One of these days, I'll figure out a way to make this look pretty. Sorry, Mutsu WV41 is armed with the same naval rifles as Colorado at tier VII -- and here they are shoe-horned in a full tier lower. She inherits these weapons in full, and not having to suffer with inferior ammunition choices. The few differences summarize to the following: Main Battery Range - Colorado has 2.77km more base reach with her main battery for 18.83km vs 16.06km (or 21.84km vs 18.63km with upgrades). Sigma - Colorado has 0.1 sigma more than WV41 for 1.90 versus 1.80. Standard dispersion test. 180 AP shells fired at 15km at a stationary Fuso without camouflage. Colorado and WV41 have identical dispersion areas -- the only difference is how often shells cluster towards the center of your aiming point (as determined by sigma). Warspite, equipped with Aiming Systems Modification 1 has been included as she represents the gold-standard of what precision looks like among battleships at this tier. Penetrate All the Things With WV41's precision and dispersion being considered "average", her guns need to make up some ground to make this vessel worthwhile. Where she does this is in her penetration power. This she has in spades. WV41 has the best AP penetration among tier VI battleships, hands-down. With more than 450mm worth of penetration at 18km, she has enough to penetrate broadside battleship belt armour of anything she might face. Furthermore, the large-caliber of her shells allows her to overmatch 27mm worth of hull plating. WV41 will punish any cruiser within her matchmaking spread while also being able to do the same to tier VI and VII battleships, regardless of angling. This just leaves tier VIII battleships able to bow-tank her. In answer to this, WV41 must reach for her HE shells. She has no special quirks with her HE shells, so use them only when needed. They have 67mm worth of penetration which is more than enough to bruise any opponents pulling off these shenanigans. Unlike other tier VI battleships, WV41 is far less reliant on HE shells than most, so having only mediocre shells here isn't a drawback. Provided you aim well and dispersion doesn't troll you, WV41's AP shells have more than enough penetration to handle almost any target you might face. Let's take a look at some of the raw stats: These are the top 5 battleships at tier VI for AP penetration as of patch 0.7.11. Penetration values are approximate and courtesy of proships.ru (link in the Appendix -- give them some love). Generally speaking, battleships at this tier are forced to choose between having good penetration or the ability to overmatch. WV41 is unique at tier VI for having both. Go figure, bigger shells hit harder. WV41 tops the charts on a per-shell damage basis at tier VI, with one of her hits dealing 18% to 20% more damage than a comparable 356mm shell. This number is important to keep in mind when you account for potential damage output. WV41's precision, penetration and overmatch mechanics make individual damaging hits more likely in many (but not all) situations compared to her peers. They're not God-Tier Good as WV41's guns are, they're far from perfect As any veteran Roma commander will tell you: There's such a thing as too much penetration. It's possible to blow clean through the machine spaces of some cruisers without causing a citadel hit. Thankfully, this is largely limited to point-blank range engagements against the lightest armoured cruisers. WV41 doesn't couple of her enormous penetration levels with high muzzle velocity. Where they're really lacking, in my opinion, is reach. I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to tell you this early that mounting such potential on a standard-type hull is going to cause issues and she struggles to keep up with the flow of battle. WV41's fire angles are only alright. You have to expose a fair bit of side to get her full salvos off. This isn't too bad when she's top-tier. However, when she's at the bottom of the pile, the enormous levels of penetration present makes a mockery of your belt at anything but near autobounce-angles. This problem with being bottom tier compounds with her range. Again, it's perfectly acceptable when she's top-tier, but the large maps she has to navigate when she's facing tier VIIs and tier VIIIs makes me wish she had closer to Colorado-levels of reach. Finally, the last fly in the ointment is this: She only has eight guns. You really need to maximize the opportunities provided by your high-penetration and overmatch potential to make your advantages count. If you're facing opponents that are constantly sailing broadside at medium-close ranges, you would have been better served with a larger battery of smaller-caliber weapons. WV41's theoretical damage output isn't bad at all for an eight-gun warship at tier VI. It's considerably better when you factor in the gimmicks that make dealing said damage easier -- namely her high penetration and her overmatch potential. WV41 has to rely on said advantages to differentiate herself from the twelve-gun heavy hitters which use volume of fire to make something stick. Most of these suffer from 1.60 sigma or less which makes any pretense of precision dubious. WV41's fire arcs are average and on the poor side of average at that, especially when kiting. Her gun handling benefits greatly from Expert Marksman if you have the skill points to spare. You don't need it, but you'll want it. Summary Her guns deliver heavy damage, but they're not flashy. Their big deal is that they penetrate all of the things. Her secondaries suck, but no one's surprised. Evaluation: What would have to happen to DOWNGRADE to : Worse sigma, a longer reload, slower gun traverse, etc. Defense Hit Points: 50,200 Min Bow & Deck Armour: 25mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 343mm belt + 45mm citadel wall Torpedo Damage Reduction: 22% I told you: You're going to pay a lot of concessions to have 406mm main battery guns on a tier VI ship. This is the first of many areas where WV41 only manages to be so-so. An Aside about HE Damage Mitigation At tier VI, Fuso here is the gold standard for HE resistance, ticking all five five boxes including a fully reinforced main deck and upper hull. This gives her the best chance of shattering and absorbing HE spam from most CLs, CAs and DDs. Note that on the whole, these bonuses only provide some small amount of protection. Cleveland is still going to melt your face off. Let's talk a minute about HE damage mitigation from cruisers and destroyers. In general, there are five components to look for when evaluating how well protected a battleship is against small and medium caliber HE. The idea is that a ship has either spaced-compartments to absorb the shot or she has heavier armour than normal in a given place. This reduces the surface area where HE shells can land a damaging hit. Extended Waterline Belts must be above the surface to have any value, reducing the amount of target area on the bow and stern. These are typically found on German and lower tiered battleships. Imperator Nikolai I stands out in this regard. An Anti-Torpedo Bulge can have some merit provided it extends upwards to cover parts of the hull that would otherwise be vulnerable. The Queen Elizabeth-class are a great example of this, with bulges that extend forward far enough to help protect part of their bow. Armoured Bridge help foil HE shells from otherwise damaging your super-squishy superstructure. They typically have armour as thick as (or thicker than) the ship's belt which is a no-no for all calibers of HE. Reinforced Hulls and Reinforced Decks come with three distinctions -- no mitigation, partial mitigation and full mitigation. No mitigation speaks for itself. The plating is no thicker than the extremities and cruisers will hoover up damage here for days. Partial is thick enough to repulse some small and medium caliber HE shells, typically those of destroyers. Full mitigation will repulse 152mm shells buffed with IFHE or even some heavy cruiser shells. Note that some ships will only have a small part of their main deck reinforced -- pay close attention to the amount of area covered. The Bismarck-class is a good example of this. The Colorado-class relies on raw armour thickness to repel AP shells. Not much of her plate has any appreciable angle which would further increase its relative thickness. So while her 343mm belt looks solid, you'd get more mileage out of the sloped belts of some of the later USN battleships like the South Dakota, North Carolina and Iowa-class battleships which have better protection for comparable thickness. Given her 25mm extremities and deck plating, WV41 is dangerously vulnerable to AP overmatch mechanics from 380mm guns or larger and most HE shells she'll face. Armour Protection WV41's protection scheme is alright if only just. She relies on raw armour thickness to carry the day and there are glaring holes in her defenses which are easy to exploit. Her 25mm extremities and deck are vulnerable to overmatch mechanics and HE spam. She has poor anti-torpedo defense and no spaced armour around her belt. Her internal citadel wall is only a third as thick as the other standard-types at her tier. Finally, she has one of the lowest health pools at tier VI, barely scraping together 50,000 hit points. There are two reasons WV41's durability is considered adequate and the first isn't exactly flattering. The protection schemes of a lot of the tier VI battleships are found wanting. The other two standard-types are the only ones that could claim to have decent anti-torpedo protection, for example. Vulnerability to overmatch mechanics and HE is a chronic problem at this tier, with only a few ships boasting sections of upper hull or deck greater than 25mm. The list of problems among tier VI super-dreadnoughts goes on, with citadel height, hit point disparity and module vulnerability all plaguing ships to various degrees. So at least WV41's in good company. WV41's second saving grace is that her belt and citadel armour is good enough. When top-tier and with a bit of range or angling, she can avoid the worst from incoming AP shells. The high penetration of her own guns means that her opponent's protection scheme matters much less. If it comes to outlasting tier VI and VII opponents, WV41's defense is sufficient unto the task, allowing you to trade fire effectively. It falls apart against tier VIIIs, though. With her low hit point total, WV41 is second-to-last for effective HP among her peers. This is yet another way WV41 pays for those awesome guns and the cost is getting pretty steep. According to the Devs, WV41 (like other USN Premiums) is NOT slated to get the proposed Repair Party Buff coming to the American battleship line. I predict they'll rescind this statement. Repair Party You can't talk about American battleships without talking about this consumable. The lead of WV41's class, Colorado, has an improved Repair Party that heals back 18.48% of her health over 28 seconds instead of 14%. The entirety line of researched American battleships is getting said buff if the Work in Progress changes go through. The premium battleships are not, WV41 included. In this way, WV41 is being "Mutsu'd". While the Japanese premium was gutted by her poor shells, WV41 really feels the lack of Colorado's regeneration. Her hit point pool feels even smaller without it, and it's already pretty small. To put it another way, I was genuinely shocked when Wargaming told me that WV41 was not currently slated to be getting her Repair Party buffed in 0.7.12. It feels out-of-place. If she does eventually get it, it will be a welcome addition. Summary: Her armour is "okay". Her hit point total is not. Her anti-torpedo protection is unsightly compared to the other standard-types. Overmatch and HE are your bane. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : New Mexico's new Repair Party. Agility Top Speed: 21 knots Port Turning Radius: 670m Rudder Shift Time: 13.7 seconds 4/4 Engine Speed Turning Rate: 3.6º/s WV41 chasing Colorado in a turning radius test. You'll note how the gif "pops" as WV reaches the 9 o'clock position and skips to the 6 o'clock position while Colorado's circle is complete. She's that much slower than Colorado. This test confirmed WV41's port-stats as accurate. However, it did provide proof that Colorado doesn't turn as well as advertised. The lead-ship has a 710m turning radius, not 640m, so WV41 has a slight leg up there. Standard-type battleships are notoriously slow. WV41 somehow manages to be even slower. Yes, really. Wargaming has artificially boosted the engine power of some of the American battleships in a similar way to Royal Navy cruisers and destroyers. For normal battleships, they lose up to 25% of their maximum speed while under manoeuvres. Thus, a 30 knot battleship will drop down to about 22.5 knots in a sustained turn. New Mexico and Colorado both lose less speed in a turn than they should -- much less in Colorado's case; a mere 9%. Not so WV41. WV41 is entirely normal when it comes to manoeuvrability penalties, joining Arizona in this sorry-state. Thus WV41's 21.1 knot top speed falls down to 15.9 knots in a turn. Unless you're sailing in a perfectly straight line, this ship struggles to maintain 18 knots with any consistency. Unlike Arizona, WV41 has a larger turning radius of 670m instead of 640m. The combination of this slow speed and larger turning radius makes WV41 positively glacial when it comes to her rate of turn and arguably the worst-handling of any of the American battleships in the game. The gone ray of sunshine is that she can't out turn her turrets. So yay? So WV41 isn't getting anywhere fast. You can be fatalistic or proactive with this. The former is pretty brainless -- you're not fast enough to flex, so pick a path and accept whatever happens beyond your range as being outside of your control. Blame teams for your losses and decry WV41 as a trashbote because of it. The latter means work -- a lot of work. Develop your situational awareness. Keep a ready eye on the minimap and have a keen sense of predicting the flow of battle. Flex well in advance and give yourself time to intercept key threats. It's exhausting but you can work around this deficiency. The larger the map, the more work this is -- perhaps more work than it's worth. Summary Blame Lert for inspiring this image. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : She's the worst of the worst here. It would take a lot to redeem her. She'd need a turning radius smaller than 640m or better energy preservation in a turn to overtake Arizona. That still wouldn't improve her standing. Anti-Aircraft Defense AA Gun Calibers: 127mm/ 76.2mm / 12.7mm AA Aura Ranges: 4.2km / 3.5km / 1.2km AA DPS per Aura: 58.4 / 11.2 / 30.4 There's more bad news here. WV41's AA power sucks. It's worse than Arizona's, it's that bad. Do I need to elaborate more than that? What's this nonsense? "Effective AA DPS"? On the eve of the Aircraft Carrier rework, stressing over current AA mechanics just isn't worth while. Be glad WV41 isn't being sold on the premise that she has good AA. That might end up not meaning much in a few short months. This chart shows the relative power level of given AA armaments based on not only the amount of damage their mounts put out but also how far they can reach to keep enemy planes under fire. Thus ships which concentrate their firepower into long-range will get a higher rating than one that focuses on medium or short. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : Technically she deserves a "" at least going by the metric that she's not the worst or second worst at her tier. However, AA power at tier VI is almost across the board with only a few battleships that have enough to give any CV pause. I'm not pulling any punches here. Refrigerator Base Surface Detection: 16.42km Air Detection Range: 14.68km Minimum Surface Detection Range: 13.70km Detection Range when Firing in Smoke: 15.9km Main Battery Firing Range: 16.06km (18.63km with APRM1) While it cannot be accurately said that WV41 pays for the power of her guns with a lack of concealment, this definitely isn't one of her strong points. Her concealment is on the bad side of average, sitting just above Dunkerque and Mutsu by 500m, but well behind just about everything else. A full stealth build is highly recommended -- use and abuse what little ability to hide that she has. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : Losing two or three kilometers off her surface detection range. Taking Me Home WV41's skill choices are stupidly easy. With no real anti-aircraft firepower worth upgrading and secondaries that may as well shoot spit balls instead of HE shells, that just leaves a survivability build as the only real option here. Start with Priority Target. If you prefer, you can take Preventative Maintenance instead, but it's not optimal. Adrenaline Rush is your second skill choice. Take Basics of Survivability next. Finally, to round out your 10th skill point, choose between Fire Prevention and Concealment Expert. You'll be taking both, so the order is up to you. You'll take the other one for your 14th point. At 17pts you should take Superintendent. Note, if WV41 had the buffed Repair Party the other USN Battleships will be getting, you'd take this before Basics of Survivability and the two skills would trade places in order of priority. Oh well. And finally, round things off with Expert Marksman. If you prefer, you can take Jack of All Trades or High Alert instead. Final Evaluation Unless a ship is particularly novel, I'm not a fan of having to put in extra work to get a ship to perform. West Virginia 1941 is one such vessel. Her guns truly are phenomenal at tier VI. The rest of her, though? Well, it's all poor-to-average at best. There's a trap in such an evaluation though -- just because something measures up 'okay' compared to what else is out there, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's 'okay' on the whole. WV41's concealment is a good example of this. For a tier VI battleship, it's decidedly average. In order to be functionally competitive based on everything else, it's woefully inadequate. The same could be said for her AA power and agility. A case could even be made that her durability is similarly lacking. Those awesome guns have cost her dear. Her firepower up-tiers well even if the rest of her does not. WV41's weaknesses are scarcely noticeable when she's facing tier V and VI ships. This is largely owing to map sizes being so much more comfortable to her 'stately' waddle and modest range. Top-tier, she's truly a monster and you can really feel that this is what she was balanced for. She's on the tipping edge of being too powerful to be a tier VI ship. She's a solid contender for Ranked Battles. If Wargaming were to buff her with Colorado's agility and New Mexico's upcoming Repair Party improvements, she'll give Warspite a run for her money as the best choice in this limited competitive scene. The Random Battles queue won't let you play as top-tier all the time, however, so you have to contend with how WV41 stacks up against higher-tiered opponents. Provided you can get in range with her guns and not get focused, she performs well. The challenge, which is darn well near insurmountable at times, is getting into firing position, keeping up with the flow of battle, and being able to disengage when things get too hot. WV41 compounds the problems facing the Colorado-class as a whole by exaggerating the weaknesses that defined the class. Colorado is slow. WV41 is slower. Colorado isn't very durable. WV41 is weaker still. Colorado isn't flexible. WV41 is even shorter ranged. If a situation makes Colorado struggle, then WV41 founders. I'm not going to tell you this is a good ship. It isn't. I will tell you that her guns are good -- excellent, even. They're unfortunately mounted on an interwar, standard-type hull. In my opinion, the ship's worth playing for her guns alone. However, I wouldn't go so far as to say that the experience of firing her guns is worth paying for. My opinion here will probably change if she gets some small improvements, like that Repair Party buff. Would I Recommend? It's maybe a little presumptuous of me to say, but this isn't the ship that anyone asked for. Almost universally, if someone wanted West Virginia to show up in World of Warships, they wanted to see her late-war rebuild. Her story is a compelling one. She is a phoenix that rose from the ashes of Pearl Harbor and went on to avenge not only herself, but the United States Navy too. On top of that, her late war build is so much more interesting in terms of game play. What-if debates have gone back and forth on what tier she would end up and with what gimmicks to make her competitive. I don't think we'll see West Virginia 1944 anytime soon, though. If Wargaming rushed, they could have her out sometime in 2019, but I just don't think she's high priority. After all, they have West Virginia 1941 to sell. West Virginia 1945's anti-aircraft armament. My body is ready. PVE Battles How well does the ship maintain profitability in Co-Op modes and how does she fare against bots? Yes for Co-Op, no for Scenarios. WV41 excels in Co-Op. You can count on the bots to always come charging blindly at you which mitigates her weaknesses. In Scenarios, her speed and lack of AA power is a big liability. Random Battle Grinding: This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements. No. While she's a beast when top-tier, it's a roll of the dice to get that kind of favourable Matchmaking. If you could guarantee it? Absolutely, she's all kinds of fun when she's kicking in the teeth of her contemporaries. For Competitive Gaming: Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding. Yes. Oh look, guaranteed top-tier Matchmaking. For Collectors: If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you. No. I'm waiting for West Virginia 1944. For Fun Factor: Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play? Yes, surprisingly. I enjoyed playing WV41. I do love my standard-type battleships. What’s the Final Verdict? How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage – Meh – Gud – Overpowered? GARBAGE– I hate it! Mehbote – An average ship. Probably forgettable. Gudbote – The best thing ever. Totally not overpowered because I like padding my stats in it. OVERPOWERED – I hate playing against it! In Conclusion My goodness, I managed to get a review out on time over the holidays! That's one at least. The next ship to be reviewed is Bourgogne, the tier X French Battleship. I wasn't going to prioritize her initially, but news of Wargaming giving players the opportunity to acquire Steel outside of Ranked and Clan Battles has bumped her up my list. Hopefully I'll have her review out by this time next week. Dreadnought and Charleston remain in my backlog. Prinz Eitel Friedrich looks very close to being released too, so stay tuned!  Appendix Armour penetration data was pulled from: http://proships.ru/stat/ships/
  19. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review - Z-35

    The 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.
  20. The following is a review of HMS Exeter, the tier V Premium British Heavy Cruiser kindly provided to me by Wargaming. Please be aware that though this represents the release version of the ship, her statistics may change in the future. To the best of my knowledge, these stats are accurate as of patch 0.8.1. If you have any questions regarding any changes to this ship after subsequent patches, please feel free to contact me. The developers and I don't always see eye to eye. The balancing of Haida, for example, involved a lot of upset even if it had a happy ending. Before that, seeing Duke of York butchered and ground up into a pile of bland mediocrity was heart breaking -- particularly from her original state of such a choice cut of fun and unique game play. I was numb to the dismemberment of Prinz Eitel Friedrich where they sliced away everything that made her enjoyable; this kind of thing had just happened too often for me to be moved. But something snapped in me with this most recent, tasteless offering from Wargaming. I am in a rage regarding HMS Exeter and all of the wasted potential of this design. I couldn't scream loud enough that what they had was brilliant -- it was simply at the wrong tier. Exeter was finally the Royal Navy Light Cruiser (RNCL) captain-trainer we've been desperately waiting for since October of 2016. She had such fun crossover potential with Leander and Graf Spee, including making historical divisions. Such opinions and promise were discarded, however. Wargaming needed a moldering pile of mediocrity to offer up as a hand-out. Exeter was earmarked as that victim. Worse, they didn't warn me that this was the case. So not only did I expend a lot of energy trying to preserve what appeared to be an ideal vessel, my time was wasted because Wargaming was already locked in on a course long before balancing had even begun. They simply didn't elect to tell me and stonewalled suggestion after suggestion. As it turns out, I'm not sure they even got the balance right. But what should we expect for a project that was designed to be a failure (by my own metrics) before it began? The following review borrows heavily from the preview article I wrote for Exeter in early January in order to save time. I didn't get any warning on this one and I had to cut corners where possible to get this review out while it was still relevant. I had less than 12 hours notice she was finalized and released and the warning didn't even come from Wargaming. My apologies if some of the sass appears re-used. If you can't already tell: The bias is strong on this one. PROS Large effective hit point pool combined with access to a Repair Party. Heavily armed with six 203mm rifles. Powerful torpedoes for her tier with an 8km range, the ability to single fire them and hard hitting warheads. Excellent acceleration and rate of turn. Very stealthy with a surface detection as low as 9.6km when fully upgraded. CONS Her armour is very squishy with 13mm extremities. Terrible citadel protection and a high-water citadel to boot. Slow rate of fire with a 15 second reload leading to terrible sustained DPM. Poor fire arcs on her main battery guns. Torpedoes can only fire wide or individually (why is this a thing?) Turning radius is larger than advertised and her top speed is lacking. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / CASUAL/ Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / EXTREME For the novice player, Exeter is okay. She's a little unforgiving with her squishy armour and her slow rate of fire. Even gunship destroyers can prove quite dangerous if not handled correctly. In the hands of an expert, however, the sky is the limit. Exeter has some of the best concealment, the best AA defense, the best agility and the best overall durability of any of the tier V cruisers. The only thing holding her back are her weak armour profile and low DPM, both of which can be mitigated. Oh yeah, Exeter is totally balanced. That 15s main battery reload will keep her in line. She has the best AA Firepower too currently but that's highly volatile at the moment and subject to change with the CV rework ongoing. – One of, if not the worst at its tier. This is a pronounced weakness. – Middle of the pack at its tier. Not terrible, but not terribly good either. – Has a significant advantage over her tier mates. A solid, competitive performer. – No other ship at its tier does this as well as this ship. Options Exeter has only one surprise. For anyone that has seen a preview of Exeter, she no longer has access to a Smoke Generator. It did not survive her test builds. Consumables Exeter’s Damage Control Party is standard for a cruiser. This has a 5 second active period and a 90s / 60s reset timer with unlimited charges. Like other British cruisers, Exeter has a Repair Party. The duration and healing rate are standard for this consumable, healing up to 14% of the ship’s hit points over 28 seconds. This comes with 2 charges base and a 120s / 80s reset timer. She queues up to 50% of penetration damage and 10% of citadel damage. Exeter’s Hydroacoustic Search mirrors other tier V cruisers with a 3km torpedo detection and 4km ship detection radius. This is active for 100s with a 180s / 120s reset timer and 2 charges base. Her Catapult Fighter launches 2 aircraft which are active for 60s. They orbit at 3km with a 135s / 90s reset timer. Exeter starts with two charges base. Upgrades The only option worth taking in the first slot is Main Armaments Modification 1. In your second slot you have a choice whether to add extra protection to your engines or rudder. Propulsion Modification 1 would be my first choice. If you're dead in the water, you're not going to survive long. Steering Gears Modification 2 isn't a terrible choice, though, but less optimal than the disaster the former helps mitigate. As ever, optimizing your guns is the best choice. Aiming Systems Modification 1 will see the biggest performance increase for Exeter. However, if you're salty about CVs, then AA Guns Modification 1 isn't a bad choice. The relative short ranges at which Exeter fires isn't punitive on gun dispersion anyway. Camouflage Exeter uses Type 9 – Exeter Camouflage. This provides the usual: 50% bonus to experience gains 10% reduction to repair costs 3% concealment bonus and a 4% increase to enemy shell dispersion. Exeter has an alternate camouflage scheme in off-white and blue you can unlock by completing the second part of the "Naval Aviation" collection. The original is quite dark. Firepower Main Battery: Six 203mm/50 guns in 3×2 mounts in an A-B-X superfiring configuration. Secondary Battery: Eight 102mm/45 guns in 4×2 mounts with two turrets per side straddling the funnels in a forward-firing arrangement. Torpedo Tubes: Six tubes in 2×3 launchers rear facing straddling the foremost funnel Exeter has a modest set of weapon systems. They're not without their flaws. However, their drawbacks aren't enough to damn this ship, particularly when coupled with Exeter's strengths in agility and concealment. Lemme do a quick jpeg dump and we'll go over things in more detail. The first thing to know is that you're not winning any trading matches with Exeter. She has a small number of main battery guns and a long reload to boot. If Exeter cannot land citadel hits, her tier mates can tear her apart before her second heal becomes available. These are shell flight times and penetration estimations for Exeter's 203mm AP shells. The energy of Exeter's AP shells drops off quickly due to a high shell-drag coefficient which saps their speed. Still, while Exeter's AP penetration isn't high it's still more than enough to challenge the belt armour of any cruiser she might come across. She's fully capable of landing citadel hits against most cruisers up to her maximum range. Exeter's torpedoes are excellent for her tier. They do have a weird quirk where they can only launch wide / single as opposed the narrow / single of other Royal Navy cruisers and destroyers. Exeter's gun arcs leave a lot to be desired, especially when she's forced to kite. At least her guns rotate quickly. Her torpedo arcs are comfortable, though. Alright, so what did we learn? Exeter has low sustained damage output with her main battery guns. Her AP shells are serviceable. She's fully capable of landing citadel hits against just about any cruiser she comes across at any range provided she has their broadside. Her torpedoes are excellent but she can't fire them from stealth. I didn't mention her secondaries but that should tell you a lot. She has four barrels per side and they have a 4km range with a high rate of fire. They're not worth specializing into. That's all you need to know. The picture painted here is a ship that relies on alpha strike, ambushes and hit and run tactics to best her opponents.. Exeter is well set up to accomplish this largely owing to her agility and concealment -- two areas in which Exeter excels. Getting to within 10km of a cruiser enables her to land citadel hits reliably. Furthermore, her Repair Party makes taking such risks far more forgiving. Thus you have a ship that's fully capable of dictating engagement ranges and optimize the performance of her weapons. If things go pear shaped, she's likely to survive long enough to take a second bite of the apple or disengage as needed. Exeter doesn't have everything her own way, however. RNG can (and will) flub perfectly aimed shots on occasion. Exeter's 203mm AP do not enjoy any improved auto-ricochet bonuses, meaning angling against her is super-effective. Fouling up her first shot can spell disaster if your opponent responds to the threat of your sudden appearance. Furthermore, Exeter is only a modest fire starter, this again throttled by her low volume of shells. Against larger vessels, Exeter needs time to whittle them down -- time she may not have. Her triple torpedo launchers do not deal enough damage to allow her to a sink a full health battleship making suicide charges downright comedic. Facing destroyers, her long reload often means she only gets a single volley off at them before they disappear. This is rarely enough to finish off enterprising lolibotes operating in her vicinity. If you screw up an ambush, Exeter looks pretty foolish, especially if you over-commit. Thus, if you struggle to land citadel hits and you can't make use of her fish, Exeter's performance is a slow, steady burn. Use island cover to lob shells at approaching targets. Take what pot shots you can at exposed enemies and then retreat. Preserve her hit points and take little nibbles as they become available. Underestimate her at your peril, however. Her individual torpedoes are monstrous. Her AP shells are fully capable of catastrophically ending a cruiser that exposes themselves and her HE volleys can thoroughly gut a destroyer caught unawares. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : Give her back her 12s reload and fix the fire aspects of her torpedoes to narrow / single. Alternatively, give her a Smoke Generator so she can park her butt and cycle her weapons with near impunity. Defense Hit Points: 29,400 Min Bow & Deck Armour: 13mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 13mm extremity / deck + 72mm transverse bulkhead Torpedo Damage Reduction: 4% Exeter's deck amidships has two layers. The top deck counts as superstructure with only 10mm worth of protection. It's the lower deck where the torpedoes reside that has 19mm of protection which carries through to the upper hull. The one nice thing about her light armour layout is that short of hits to her citadel, most battleship rounds will simply over-penetrate. Exeter is an overstuffed hit point piñata made of wet tissue paper. Her bane is high explosive shells of nearly every gun caliber she faces. Most Royal Navy battleships are capable of blowing out her citadel with HE shells and scattering her machine parts across the surface of the ocean in a sloppy mess of fire and regret. Even gunship destroyers are dangerous and can take her apart in short order if ignored. Be especially wary of taking damage to her steering gears and engines -- they'll get knocked out often. It's smart to invest in Last Stand for your commander. Said armour is ironically quite good at holding out against AP shellsm though. Most calibers of AP shells will fail to fuse if they don't strike Exeter's 19mm hull or belt armour, resulting in over-penetrations. Furthermore, her 13mm bow is fully capable of autobouncing up to and including 180mm AP. Of course being "quite good" does not mean "impervious to". Exeter can and will be suddenly deleted by battleship caliber AP shells from any angle. Similarly, 203mm AP shells are a nightmare, especially if they're coming off an American heavy cruiser as they too can overmatch her bows and foil most of her attempts to angle her belt against them. Her main battery guns are especially vulnerable and likely to break when tanking said hits. None of this is new for low-tier cruisers, though. Exeter does differ from the norm in three areas, however. Her citadel is a small(ish) target. She has a lot of hit points. She has access to a Repair Party consumable. Points one and two are simply "nice". It's the last piece which makes Exeter obscene. It catapults her from "meh" status to blatantly overpowered. None of the other cruisers at her tier have anything close to Exeter's longevity. Before I say anything nasty about it's inclusion, it's time to abruptly let this section be. Provided Exeter doesn't get herself outright deleted by any given attack, she's pretty darned resilient. You're unlikely to be able to draw on the full 19,757hp her Repair Party can conjure but an extra 5,000hp to 10,000hp is more than reasonable, easily making her the toughest tier V cruiser by effective hit point total. This (in my opinion), combined with her stealth, agility and the relative small target of her citadel makes her overpowered. Emerald, being a travesty against humanity, gets away with having a Repair Party without catching any flak for it. Evaluation: What would have to happen to DOWNGRADE to : Give Furutaka a Repair Party. Agility Top Speed: 32.0 knots Port Turning Radius: 650m (720m actual) Rudder Shift Time: 8.4s Estimated 4/4 Engine Speed Rotation Rate: 6.7º/s Exeter's agility stats sit upon a throne of lies. This isn't anything new. Royal Navy cruisers (and destroyers) are almost all terrible fibbers when it comes to their handling characteristics. This is owing to their improved engine power which says "screw you, physics!". Thus Exeter agility has all sorts of fun and infuriating quirks like dragster-style acceleration, ridiculous energy retention in a turn and the ability to make 180º turns more dramatically than Wargaming discussing their "we won't nerf premiums" policy. Exeter has almost identical manoeuvrability characteristics to Nürnberg, the tier VI German cruiser which has the same 32 knot top speed and a 720 meter (actual) turning radius. However, when you compare them side by side you get the following: Exeter accelerates ridiculously fast -- better than you would see with Propulsion Modification 1 that's available on tier VI+ ships. She reaches a speed of 10 knots inside of 5 seconds, 20 knots in 8 seconds and 30 knots in less than 12 seconds. Nürnberg with the upgrade hits these same 10 / 20 / 30 knot benchmarks in approximately 8 / 14 / 27 seconds respectively. Exeter preserves almost all of her speed in a turn. Normal cruisers turn a 80% of their 4/4 engine speed. Exeter turns at 98.8% of her 4/4 engine speed (31.6 knots). Nürnberg, by contrast, decelerates down to 25.5 knots in a sustained turn. Exeter thus maintains a top speed more often than other ships, especially while under manoeuvres. While she lacks the straight line speed of Furutaka or Emile Bertin, she can be effectively just as quick in combat situations while ducking and dodging. Maintaining higher speed in a turn increases the rate at which a ship comes about. Thus Nürnberg's modest 5.4º/s rotation rate is dwarfed by Exeter's own 6.7º/s. So Exeter's performance far exceeds what her in-port stats will tell you. She may not have the raw power of her contemporaries, but she's no slouch. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : This should say a lot. There's a lot of agile cruisers at tier V. Fast ones too. Exeter handles beautifully with that improved engine power but there are times I miss the raw speed you can find on ships like Emile Bertin. Speed is life for fragile ships, after all. Anti-Aircraft Defense Long Range: 2 explosions at 560 damage and 52dps from 5.8km to 2.5km Medium Range: 2 explosions at 420 damage and 86dps from 2.5km to 0.9km Short Range: 22dps from 0.9km to 0.1km Catapult Squadron: 2 Aircraft Exeter doesn't have an extensive AA gun battery. Her dual purpose 102mm guns are in red, her 40mm pom-poms in yellow and her 12.7mm machine guns in blue. At least it's symmetrical. Remember how Exeter hates HE Shells? You can add "getting stripped of most of her AA-guns from a single hit" onto the list of reasons why. Let's start with the following disclaimer: Until the CV rework concludes, do not base and purchase decisions on a premium ship's anti-aircraft performance. All of the stats discussed here are still subject to change. Exeter is arguably the best anti-aircraft support-cruiser at tier V. While she lacks the raw sustained DPS totals, she has a combination of diverse AA assets which make her more of a threat than the sum of her parts. What I found quite effective was proper use of (and specializing into) Exeter's Catapult Fighter. This didn't form the backbone of my AA defense, but it spiked its effectiveness as readily as one would expect a Defensive AA Fire consumable to do at higher tiers. This is largely owing to the smaller air groups found at tiers IV and VI (especially the former). To this end, taking the captain skills Direction Center for Fighters and Superintendent is highly encouraged. The former increases the number of fighters to three and the latter provides an additional charge. Exeter completely shuts down tier IV dive bomber and torpedo bomber waves with her upgraded fighters -- it's really not fair. It's not like Exeter's regular AA values are lacking -- she simply doesn't have the OMG! hitting power you might expect from a "good" AA cruiser. Instead, Exeter makes do with modest DPS levels, a couple of flak bursts per AA aura and good range. All of these upgrade well with affordable options. AA Guns Modification 2 upgrade doubles the number of explosions she generates to up to four for her long and medium range auras -- nominally spawning 3. Finally, the more expensive (but arguably worthwhile) Manual Fire Control for AA Armament increases her sustained DPS values by a combined bonus of 50% to the reinforced sector. Altogether, Exeter punches far harder than your opponents might expect a tier V cruiser capable. She has the base toolkit needed to keep herself safe and make aircraft carriers cry if you've the inclination to use it. It should say something about low-tier AA that Exeter has enough flak to make tier IV aircraft carriers regret engaging her. Her DPS isn't enough to shoot something down on the first pass, but it will start taking the squadrons apart on the second. In addition, her long range flak bursts are particularly helpful when reinforcing an ally. Specializing heavily into her AA yields some nice results. Don't forget to deploy your catapult fighter to make those attack runs even more costly. Evaluation: IRRELEVANT Refrigerator Base Surface Detection: 10.98km Air Detection Range: 7.08km Minimum Surface Detection: 9.59km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 6.06km Detection Range when Firing in Open Water: 14.27km Exeter hides well. For a tier V cruiser, her concealment is pretty good. She has the same surface detection as USS Flint at tier VII. Most of the tier IV ships have the potential to be better, but they're unlikely to be harbouring a commander with Concealment Expert or any kind of camouflage unless they're a Death Pickle (Iwaki Alpha to those of you who don't remember a time before applicable camo). At her own tier, only Emerald is better. Huanghe, Leander and Perth all best her at tier VI. Belfast tops her at tier VII. Of course, Exeter lacks the Smoke Generator that these other ships I named enjoy. It's not like she couldn't use smoke if she has access to it. Her detection range in while in smoke is around 6.1km -- usable but by no means idiot proof. Of course, giving Exeter access to her own smoke as a tier V ship would have been lunacy. She's already powerful enough without it. Still, it is a shame to see that she doesn't mirror Royal Navy cruiser consumables in this regard. As for the rest, Exeter's Hydroacoustic Search is well received -- especially with on as many claustrophobic maps as she plays upon. Similarly, when she's top tier, there aren't very many destroyers that can stealth fire their torpedoes. Thus the charges of her consumable are seldom taxed and you can save it for actively hunting ships trying to hide in smoke, stripping them of their cover. Yep, on the whole Exeter does pretty well for herself in the ol' Refrigerator department. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : Quite a bit. Emerald is more stealthy and has smoke. I'm not even sure convincing Wargaming to replace Emerald with something else would do it. I mean, the most likely candidate is the Arethusa-class and that's even sneakier. No Miracle for Dunkirk Sooooo... about that Royal Navy cruiser trainer we've all been hoping for. Yeah, you're going to have to stick with Cossack or like... I dunno, Vanguard or something for a little while longer. Exeter isn't quite the ideal ship for optimizing for Royal Navy light cruiser builds -- especially if you're training up one of the Dunkirk brothers and are hoping to maximize their benefits of their bonuses. Here's where you should put your first 10 points: Start with Priority Target. Grab Last Stand at the second tier. Follow this up with Superintendent at tier three. And finally grab Concealment Expert at tier four. From here there are a bunch of skills worth examining. My personal preferences led me to take Direction Center for Fighters, Adrenaline Rush, Expert Marksman, and Manual Fire Control for AA Armament. This is hardly optimal but it does make her more comfortable while also giving her AA firepower some nice teeth. Final Evaluation I championed for Exeter's addition to World of Warships all the way back on August 8th, 2017. I certainly wasn't the first, but that was the date that I took ownership of my own interest and began pushing hard for her inclusion. She came up repeatedly with my talks with Wargaming over the following months, including a more formal proposal when Pigeon_of_War asked for suggestions in March of 2018. Let me be clear: I'm not taking credit for Exeter being added to the game -- I merely stress how much I wanted this vessel to appear in World of Warships. I wasn't quite Haida-levels of rabid for Exeter, but it was close. When I made my suggestions, my earliest estimations was that she could show up at tier V, bare bones with nothing in the way of gimmicks. I later amended this to tier VI with the possibility of up-tiering her to VII if they wanted to give her the usual combination of British consumables. So when Exeter arrived, I should have been elated. Instead I felt nothing more than frustration. She was placed at tier V with every bell and whistle imaginable, immediately setting off alarm bells that she was going to need nerfs or re-tiering. I theory-crafted from what I saw of her in port stats and wrote about my worries -- especially for the statistics that I couldn't see, like her auto-bounce features and engine power. Play testing confirmed these fears with a big ol' exclamation mark. Sarcasm ensued: From patch 0.8.0 during her original test build on the live server. The fix Wargaming implemented was to reduce her main battery rate of fire from the historical 5rpm down to 4rpm and the pluck her Smoke Generator from her. This ignored the repeated requests and advice from the community and content creators to bump her up to tier VI. Wargaming's changes were supposed to bring her into line and make her an acceptable tier V premium cruiser. This DIDN'T bring her into line. She is not an acceptable tier V premium cruiser. Like the changes that smacked Prinz Eitel Friedrich or Duke of York upside the head, Wargaming's nerfs made these ships less comfortable to play. While they did address performance somewhat, in Exeter's case it was more of an annoyance that a direct hit to her power level. Waiting an extra three seconds for each reload is a nuisance but it's not going to stop Exeter from wrecking face -- certainly not when she's got every other advantage stacked in her favour. Exeter is at a minimum a tier VI ship being stuffed into a tier where she doesn't belong. This is comparable to sticking a tier X battleship at tier IX and nerfing the sigma and AA-power and thinking it won't over-perform. Oh wait, it did. So Exeter's here and she's strong but she's annoying because she doesn't live up to her potential. The ship I very much wanted to see is a bloated powerhouse. I feel scummy for playing her. I'm mad at myself for finding any enjoyment clubbing baby seals with Exeter. My only consolation is that she faces a real challenge when up-tiered. You know there's something wrong when I can look at tier VII opponents in a tier V cruiser and think highly of my chances. It would be a mistake to get too invested into Exeter. She's just going to get nerfed down the line. I mourn the ship that could have been -- the ship this self-admitted teaboo desperately wanted to see. Would I Recommend? There are two ways to acquire Exeter: Paying for her (duh) or unlocking her through the Exeter's Last Stand missions which ran from March 1st 2019 until March 29th, 2019. For PVE Battles? Yes. Bloody shame you can't play scenarios with her. She'd have to be tier VI for that. For Random Battle Grinding? Yes. The baby seals won't club themselves. For Competitive Gaming? Yes. Pay to win, baby! For Collectors? Yes. It's HMS Exeter. She fought in repeated surface actions against more powerful enemies. Her battle against Graf Spee alone makes her collectible. For her Fun-Factor? No. She makes me have a sad, but I'm biased here. What’s the Final Verdict? How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage – Meh – Gud – Overpowered? GARBAGE– I hate it! Mehbote – An average ship. Probably forgettable. Gudbote – The best thing ever. Totally not overpowered because I like padding my stats in it. OVERPOWERED – I hate playing against it! From patch 0.8.1. Spot the differences. In Closing In the spirit of the Epic WGNA Forum Meme Thread, March 2019, I am going to preemptively head off any criticism (both constructive and not) with this jpeg. Yes, this even applies to you, super-helpful-person who has nothing but my best interests at heart. You're clearly a monster that deserves nothing but scorn and contempt for pointing out that small typo. This is the new standard for what the acceptable norm is when dealing with any kind of feedback: quoting anime and being a dink. ♥ Thank you all for reading!
  21. Updated November 7th, 2018 Jean Bart is an upgraded Richelieu-class battleship with improved anti-aircraft firepower and equipped with the Main Battery Reload Booster consumable. Unassuming at first glance, she is overpowered in the right situation. Jean Bart annihilates opponents that make mistakes like few other warships can. When capitalizing on these situations, she is without equal. Jean Bart punches much harder than her smaller-caliber battleship guns would suggest. This ship was kindly provided to me by Wargaming. Please be aware that there are some differences to this ship as of the original publication date. To the best of my knowledge, these stats are accurate as of November 7th, 2018 and represent the release version of the ship. Jean Bart has been made available for 228,000 Coal in the Arsenal as well as being sold directly in the premium shop. PROS Main Battery Reload Booster gives her the ability to brutally punish ships that make mistakes within her line of fire, be it with repeated citadel hits or stacking fires. Entire battery is bow-mounted, making it easy to maximize her firepower on the attack. Heavy secondary gun battery with a fast rate of fire from her 100mm guns. Excellent anti-aircraft firepower -- some of the best found on battleships in the game. Good overall agility for a tier IX battleship. CONS Tiny hit point pool for a tier 9 battleship at 69,000hp. Exceedingly vulnerable to light cruiser-caliber HE spam. Armed with only eight 380mm guns with low damage output. Unable to overmatch the extremities of tier VIII+ German and American heavy cruisers. Majority of her secondaries are incapable of dealing direct damage to most targets. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / Extreme Jean Bart is an easy battleship to play and quite forgiving. If her guns were of a larger caliber, I'd consider her skill floor to merely be 'Simple' As it is, players must have working knowledge of which ships her AP shells can overmatch and which they cannot which forces players to think ahead with their ammunition choices. As easy as Jean Bart is to slip on, she scales very well with player skill. Few battleships reward careful target selection and ammunition choice like Jean Bart. This is a ship where daring plays and proper consumable use make all the difference. Jean Bart feels very much overpowered in the right hands yet provide only a middling performance to the uninitiated. – One of, if not the worst at its tier. This is a pronounced weakness. – Middle of the pack at its tier. Not terrible, but not terribly good either. – Has a significant advantage over her tier mates. A solid, competitive performer. – No other ship at its tier does this as well as this ship. Musashi outperforms Jean Bart firepower wise, giving the French battleship a rating. Jean Bart has a low hit point total like HMS Lion but lacks her improved Repair Party consumable. She has a defense. Jean Bart has the agility and anti-aircraft firepower at her tier. Her concealment is only . Options Jean Bart doesn't offer much in the way of surprises. While there is room for some customization, she's fairly predictable. Her big gimmick is access to the Main Battery Reload Booster consumable. Consumables Jean Bart uses a standard French Damage Control Party. This has a 15s active time and a 120s / 80s reset timer. She has unlimited charges. Her Repair Party is also standard for a French battleship and begins with 3 charges. She heals back up to 14% of her health over 28s with a 120s / 80s reset timer. She queues up to 50% of penetration damage, 10% of citadel damage and 100% of any other damage type. Jean Bart comes with a Main Battery Reload Booster with 3 charges. This cuts down her main battery reload time by 50% for 20s with a 180s / 120s reset timer. Finally, she has access to the Engine Boost consumable with 2 charges. This increases her speed by 8% for 180s and it resets within 180s / 120s. Upgrades Jean Bart should begin by taking Main Armaments Modification 1 in her first slot. Optimally, take the special upgrade Engine Boost Modification 1 in her second slot. If you do not have access to one, then default to Damage Control System Modification 1. In your third slot, Jean Bart forces a choice on players. Optimally, you should increase the accuracy of your main battery with Aiming Systems Modification 1. However, that's totally boring. If you're feeling MANLY (and stupid), take Secondary Gun Modification 2 to boost your secondary range and show those lolibotes and inferior battleships who their daddy is.But maybe an Aircraft Carrier once touched you in a naughty place. Maybe you're super salty about that. If that's the case, you can always go for AA Guns Modification 2 to increase their range. This will make CV players hate you. And while other players may scoff that your build is sub-optimal, they'll all respect you deep down for making a CV player cry. Things get pretty boring from here on out. Damage Control Modification 2 is optimal in your fourth slot with the amount of HE that's thrown about. Steering Gears Modification 2 is a distant second place in terms of optimization, but if it makes you happy, who are we to judge? Take Concealment Modification 1 for your 5th slot. It's too good compared to the other option. And finally, take Main Battery Modification 3 for your final slot. Camouflage Jean Bart comes with Type 10 Camouflage. This predictably provides: 100% bonus experience gains 20% reduction to maintenance costs 3% reduction in surface detection 4% reduction in enemy accuracy. Firepower Main Battery: Eight 380mm/45 guns in 2x4 turrets in an A-B superfiring configuration. Secondary Battery: Nine 152mm guns in 3x3 turrets facing the rear and twenty-four 100mm guns in 12x2 turrets arranged in superfiring configurations with three facing forward and three facing rear on each side of the ship. Jean Bart has some of the firepower at her tier. For a battleship armed with only eight, bow-mounted 380mm guns and a small-caliber secondary battery, this is a bold claim. However, for much of Jean Bart's development cycle, she was disgustingly overpowered and there were very real concerns about her performance. Wargaming has scaled her firepower back, but I'm not sure they did it to the degree necessary to ensure balance at tier IX. As it stands now, Jean Bart has the ability to punish opponents like no other battleship in the game. Underestimate her at your peril. Jean Bart firing 180 shells, locked onto a stationary enemy Fuso without camouflage at 15km. She has the same horizontal dispersion pattern as German and Italian battleships. French 380mm guns are well known for their high shell velocity and energy retention. While this does assist in preserving penetration power over distance, this does have the side effect of causing many shells to overshoot or undershoot their target. Penetration values courtesy of the World of Warships AP calculator (link provided in the Appendix). Jean Bart (and Alsace) have the worst battleship penetration at tier IX. However, it would be a mistake to call her penetration "bad". She is capable of landing penetrating hits on enemy battleships at all but extreme ranges. Unassuming Armament Jean Bart's main battery uses the same 380mm guns found on the tier IX battleship Alsace and her tier VIII sister ships, Gascogne and Richelieu. These weapons are characterized by their admittedly large dispersion area, high shell velocity and energy retention, good penetration and middling damage. The precision of her shell fire has been tuned to be identical to Gascogne at 1.9 sigma making her gunnery feel comfortable and rewarding careful aim. While the high velocity of her shells and dispersion pattern does lead to the occasional wonky spread of shells, on the whole these weapons behave themselves better than the infamously temperamental weapons found on battleship Roma. 380mm guns already feel long in the tooth by tier VIII, to say nothing for tier IX. Unable to overmatch the bows of German and American heavy cruisers, their performance is often found wanting. Jean Bart compensates for this with having an accelerated reload of 26s. While this may seem impressive at a glance, it is the same reload timer found on the Bismarck-sisters a full tier lower and it's less than Monarch's 25s with nine rifles also at tier VIII. Still, Jean Bart's firepower is superior to these other ships grace simply of her gun arrangement. Having all of her weapons mounted on her bow facilitates their use which, combined with the higher precision of her guns, allows her to output more damage than any of these lower-tiered rivals. Still, she should not be able to compete with the likes of the Iowa-sisters, Lion or Alsace. And yet, she not only competes with them -- she puts them in their place. Jean Bart wins no prizes for her stock DPM values, but that's not where her strength lies. The Dreaded Box o' Gimmicks Wargaming has produced the horror or horrors in Jean Bart by giving her access to the consumable Main Battery Reload Booster. Originally dispensed to the French cruiser line, Jean Bart is the first (and probably not the last) battleship armed with it. Understand that this, more than any other trait, is what makes Jean Bart so formidable. When her consumable is properly managed, Jean Bart is game breaking. When it isn't, she's an up-tiered Richelieu with good AA power. The Main Battery Reload Booster is still new, so let's start with an explanation of how the version found on Jean Bart works. This should hold true for other ships, but in case it gets grandfathered in with nerfs, this will serve as a handy reference. While active, it doubles the speed at which Jean Bart reloads her main battery. It does not halve the time it takes for a shell to be reloaded. This is an important difference. Allow me to show what I mean: I've redone this damn chart nine ten eleven TWELVE FREAKIN' times. The most recent change to this consumable occurred with patch 0.7.10. While the booster is active every second spend reloading counts as two seconds. What the booster does not do is simply halve the reload time -- ie, turning the cycle time down to 13s for any shells being reloaded during the consumable's active period . There's no way to cheat the system and fire an extra shell at a fully halved reload by timing the consumable use carefully. The benefits of Jean Bart's consumable apply immediately and only for the duration that it's active. The benefits of her consumable stack with the gains made from the Main Battery Modification 3 upgrade and the Adrenaline Rush commander skill. The numbers here get truly frightening, with a Jean Bart at 50% health being able to cycle her guns as quickly as every 10s with her consumable active. For an enemy vessel caught within a turn, this is devastating as Jean Bart is capable of putting repeated volleys downrange before they can turn away or make it into cover. And it's here where this unassuming battleship becomes overpowered. Jean Bart's all-forward gun placement makes her arcs feel very comfortable -- at least until you have to start running. Be very careful of unmasking her B-turret when you do. This will open her up to taking some hard hits from over angling. Devastating Strikes & Burninations on Demand The all-forward gun arrangement on Jean Bart means that her guns are almost always going to be at the ready when a target of opportunity arises. Her Main Battery Reload Booster guarantees she'll have the right shells loaded. Moreover, her consumable makes it very likely she'll be able to take two bites of the apple before they're able to correct their mistake. It cannot be understated how disgustingly powerful this consumable is in the right hands. Jean Bart may not have the same raw damage output of her peers over time, but she has all of the tools, between gun arrangement, precision, penetration and reload time to make her guns far more devastating in the short term. This emphasizes a battleship's strengths -- overwhelming alpha strikes. Jean Bart is better equipped to deal them more often than any of her contemporaries. It goes beyond landing AP volleys on exposed broadsides. Jean Bart is just as capable of stacking fires with her HE shells in short order with the use of her consumable. If an enemy battleship blows their Damage Control Party, Jean Bart's fast rate of fire will deliver upwards of 24 shells inside of 33 seconds. Even with the modest (for a battleship) fire chance, Jean Bart can match the Royal Navy for infuriating stacks of blazes. Duly warned be ye, says I. Almost excellent - Except they totally suck Jean Bart's secondaries suck moose-balls. She boasts a similar secondary load out to her sister Gascogne but she has even more 100mm guns. This looks terribly impressive on paper. They have a good range. Her smaller caliber guns have a phenomenal rate of fire of 20rpm which more than pads their uninspiring 5% base fire chance. And, really, that's all their good for -- setting fires. They can only directly damage areas of 16mm of armour or less -- that's not even enough to contest the hull of tier VIII+ destroyers she faces. Taking Inertial Fuse for HE Shells will enable her to the penetrate up to 21mm but that's a damn heavy investment. You can go this manly route if you wish. It's hardly optimal, even if it is hilarious. Jean Bart's armour scheme does not hold up well in a brawl (see below) so this is a heavy gamble. Still, with her Main Battery Reload Booster, she can be a formidable opponent in close quarters if you like to live dangerously. Summary Main battery is unassuming. Secondaries suck unless you invest heavily into them. And opportunist par excellence, Jean Bart can capitalize upon opponent mistakes like no other battleship thanks to her reload consumable. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : An increase in gun caliber would do it, even without the accompanying increase in shell damage. Jean Bart is contesting Musashi for the top spot. Her guns are that good. Defense Hit Points: 69,000hp Min Bow & Deck Armour: 32mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 32mm torpedo bulge + 330mm belt + 50mm turtleback + 50mm citadel wall. Torpedo Damage Reduction: 32% Jean Bart holds the distinction of being the most vulnerable of the tier IX battleships. However, she doesn't rank last because of some crippling flaw. Her armour protection is sufficient. Her consumables aren't broken in any way. It's really just a deficit of hit points combined with a vulnerability to HE shells that puts her in last place. Jean Bart's hit point total are not those of a tier IX battleship. With healing scaling directly with a ship's base hit points and lacking the portable dry-dock of the Royal Navy, Jean Bart starts off the Durability-race with an immediate disadvantage, but she's not so far behind as to no longer be competitive. While she doesn't have deep reserves of health to absorb damage (or the healing potion to recover from it), her citadel protection scheme isn't lacking. She has decent anti-torpedo defense, for example, sitting at a modest, but respectable 32% damage reduction (and a far cry better than most of the other tier IX battleships, I might add). Her citadel placement is very-French. Her magazines and machine spaces sit just beneath the waterline, protected by a 50mm turtleback and a reverse-sloped belt. Combined, Jean Bart is all but immune to citadel hits at a distance. However, the steep grade of her turtleback lets her down at point blank ranges. Like Alsace, Gascogne, Richelieu and République, she is exceedingly vulnerable in a close-range brawl to broadside citadel shots from large caliber AP shells. On the whole, Jean Bart stands up well to AP fire and torpedo hits. Against high explosive fire, her defense scheme fails utterly though. Jean Bart's citadel protection is complicated, formed up of no less than four layers, two of which aren't pictured here. The first is her 32mm anti-torpedo bulge (not shown). Then shells strike her upper (330mm) or lower (250mm) belt, though the latter will usually necessitate plunging through water first, further reducing penetration. After that, her 50mm turtleback (not shown) gets in the way. Finally, there's her citadel wall which is between 30mm overt he machine spaces and up to 50mm over her magazines. Jean Bart doesn't sport the weakness of a thin citadel roof allowing for overmatching like some Royal Navy battleships, boasting 50mm on top of her 150mm deck protection. Note this last part differs from her sister, Richelieu which has 170mm of deck protection over her magazines but only a 40mm citadel deck. The entirety of Jean Bart is covered in deliciously squishy 32mm of armour that just loves to give up hit points. The only exceptions are her bridge, main battery and anti-torpedo bulges and that's hardly enough to guarantee a large number of shell-shatters. Jean Bart is exceedingly vulnerable to 150mm+ HE fire buffed with the Inertial Fuse for HE shells commander skill. German cruisers and battleships secondaries can exact a costly sum too This flaw isn't unique to Jean Bart, with American and British battleships sharing a similar fear of HE spam. However, when you factor in Jean Bart's lower hit point total and lack of a British mega-heal, this weakness becomes more pronounced. You're going to want to make American light cruisers die quickly. Make sure you have your Main Battery Reload Booster handy when an opportunity comes up to delete one of those mother truckers. One a side note, her 32mm armour also gets undone by 460mm AP shells from Musashi and Yamato. So there's that too. This is why light cruisers (and ducky destroyers) love Jean Bart. Anything that's teal is fair game for ships that can muster up 32.5mm of penetration or more with their HE shells. The brown section along her hull represents her anti-torpedo bulge which will absorb HE hits without taking damage. Finally, Jean Bart enjoys relative immunity to American AP bombs. They lack the penetration sufficient to punch through the multiple layers of armour protecting her citadel. Graf Zeppelin can land the occasional citadel hit but, by and large, she struggles in the same manner as American dive bombers. Jean Bart will still take a healthy amount of damage from these attacks -- overpenetrations will be rare, but at least she won't be deleted outright. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : Jean Bart would need a truckload more hit points, a special Repair Party consumable or deck and upper hull armour sufficient to stave off HE attacks from light cruisers. Agility Top Speed: 30.0 knots Port Turning Radius: 850m Rudder Shift: 16.0s Maximum Turn Rate: 4.1º/s Am I really going to talk about the manoevrability of the tier IX thunderchunkers again? Look, none of the tier IX battleships could ever be described as agile. The best that could be said is that some of them have the straight line speed when they care to exercise it. However, we all know that the current meta doesn't let battleships stretch their legs until later in the engagement. Thus those without aren't held back by any means and even Musashi's stately 27 knots is more than capable of keeping up with the pace of battle. Jean Bart isn't the fastest battleship at her tier. With her Engine Boost consumable operating, she can make 32.4kts which is still slower than the Iowa-class sisters. She can't boast the tighter turning radius or better rudder shift time of HMS Lion. What she can claim is to have a good rate of turn, keeping pace with Lion and Alsace. Where Jean Bart claims primacy (and I admit, this claim is tenuous), is the combination of all of her traits. She is not the fastest, but at least she's not the slowest either. She's at least faster than Lion which is arguably one of the frontrunners in this competition. She doesn't have the tightest turning radius, but it's only 20m behind that of the Lion and 40m better than her next closest competitor. Her rudder shift time isn't the fastest, but it's the second best at her tier. Jean Bart matches the best two battleships at her tier for rate of turn. ... and finally, she has the Engine Boost consumable. Engine Boost has always been the trump card of the French warships when it comes to contests of agility. With it, Jean Bart leaves Lion in her wake, not only figuratively but literally as well. She can come about faster. She can control engagement ranges more effectively. With Lion bested, Alsace is her only remaining competitor and Jean Bart's tighter turning radius and rudder shift time makes that a no-contest. Of course, besting Lion and Alsace doesn't make Jean Bart good in this category. In my opinion, none of the tier IX battleships are. But Jean Bart is at least the best of the sorry lot. Evaluation: What would have to happen to DOWNGRADE to : Loss of her Engine Boost alone would do it. When it's on cool down, she's no better than Lion. Anti-Aircraft Defense AA Battery Calibers: 152mm / 100mm / 57mm AA Umbrella Ranges: 5.0km / 4.5km AA DPS per Aura: 202.5 / 357 Raw DPS numbers (the graph on the left) can be deceiving. Range is an important factor with anti-aircraft defense and Jean Bart has this is in spades with all of her gun mounts. The graph on the right incorporates range into an equation to better evaluate the overall effectiveness of a ship's AA suite. This is calculated by taking the gun's range less 1km and multiplying it by DPS. While not an absolute measure by any means, it is indicative of the relative AA power of the ships in question. Jean Bart has god-tier anti-aircraft firepower. The only battleship in the game that tops her for effective AA cover is the personal rocket-powered umbrella of HMS Hood, and that's only when Her Majesty's ship is activating her Defensive AA Fire consumable. What makes Jean Bart's AA so effective is the combination of solid DPS numbers combined with her minimum of a 4.5km range. Fully upgraded, she's an absolute monster, outstripping even République and Montana for the potency of her flak. Like most battleships, most of her AA firepower is found in her medium caliber AA guns. Jean Bart's 57mm weapons don't stand up to HE any better than a 40mm Bofors nest, so she can be stripped of most of her threat to aircraft with the gentle caress from a Cockbote. Thus your AA power is inversely proportionate to the amount of HE fire you've taken. Given the current meta at high tiers, that's not going to be very high for very long. Evaluation: What would have to happen to DOWNGRADE to : A Cockbote serenade. Refrigerator Base Surface Detection Range: 16.38km Air Detection Range: 14.16km Minimum Surface Detection Range: 12.30km Detection Range when Firing from Smoke: 15.05km Main Battery Firing Range: 24.52km Jean Bart's concealment should be seen as "adequate" and nothing more. With the proper concealment build, she shares a surface detection rating with the Bismarck-sisters. She could certainly do worse. Few battleships reward concealment better than Jean Bart. As it is, even her middling concealment value risks making her overpowered. The most obvious use for her surface detection is to drop back into stealth when under fire. Jean Bart doesn't have the deep hit point reserves of other tier IX battleships, and having the ability to disengage at will is a useful trick. However, it's not this defensive ability that risks making Jean Bart an overpowered monster. It's her ability to use it offensively. No other battleship rewards an ambush play-style as much as Jean Bart. With her fast reload, good penetration and her Main Battery Reload Booster, having Jean Bart magically appear when you're at your most vulnerable is a nightmare scenario. This is where she scales so well with player skill -- those with the map knowledge and the willingness to push in order to set up ambushes get rewarded handsomely. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : Losing a kilometer or two of surface detection off her base range would do it. How to Make Roma Look Inadequate There are three main builds that are effective for Jean Bart. The Baby Bunny Build is the ol' battleship standby. Go for survivability increase skills including Concealment Expert, Superintendent, Basics of Survivability and Fire Prevention. The Salty About CVs build makes Jean Bart the scourge of the skies. Grab anything that boosts your anti-aircraft batteries like Basic and Advanced Fire Training and Manual Fire Control for AA Guns. Finally, there's the dubiously effective (but exceedingly Manly) Secondary Build. You'll want all the fixings at tier 4 including Advanced Fire Training, Manual Fire Control for Secondary Armament and Inertial Fuse for HE Shells. You can choose between Expert Marksman and Adrenaline Rush at tier 2 depending on if you intend to brawl or not. Final Evaluation Jean Bart seems like such an unassuming design. Who would have thought that an upgraded, up-tiered Richelieu-class would be on my watch-list for one of the most over performing releases of this year? I don't doubt that like Musashi, she's going to fly beneath some players' radar. There will be those that simply do not appreciate the imbalance that Main Battery Reload Booster provides, even when shackled to such unassuming weapons as a mere eight 380mm rifles. To this end, I predict that Jean Bart will become the darling of those few that know how to time their shots and don't use it simply for a flat DPM increase. I do foresee Jean Bart causing issue with some of the more veteran players. Grace of her abilities, this is a ship that by her very design punishes people that try and flex. Lord knows I won't dare turn a ship broadside within 15km of her unless I know her consumable is on cool down. While I would like to think that her gunnery may correct some of the popularity of certain American light cruisers, her ballistics just aren't designed for that. In short, Jean Bart is just going to reinforce the passive meta, albeit without the same obvious ability as ships like Asashio. The final bit of upset Jean Bart may deliver is still far off in the future. She is the best anti-aircraft platform found among the current battleships. With the aircraft carrier rework still months away, it remains to be seen what kind of upset she can deliver to the future version of this game mode For now, keep an eye on this ship. She has comparable earning levels to Musashi and Kronshtadt, which is better than most tier VIII premiums (barring the use of Makoto Kobayashi camo). I still haven't been told how she's going to be made available (seriously). If it's for free experience or coal, you cannot go wrong with this ship. She's too good. Would I Recommend? Seeing as I don't know how she's being made available, take this section with a pinch of salt. She could very well be the next steel-ship to reward Ranked Battle players. She may only be available for free experience or coal. Wargaming has not directly sold any tier IX+ premiums yet, so it's doubtful she'll appear in the premium shop or for doubloons. We'll have to wait and see. PVE Battles How well does the ship maintain profitability in Co-Op modes and how does she fare against bots? Meh. While shooting down aircraft is hilarious in co-op, the propensity for enemy bots to charge bow in makes her 380mm guns feel inadequate. Go for a MANLY build or don't bother. It would be super cool if she could be used in Operation Hermes, though. I'm still poking Wargaming about that one. Random Battle Grinding: This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements. Yes. The chaos of Random Battles serves Jean Bart and her god-tier consumable well. She earns a healthy wage too, which doesn't hurt either. For Competitive Gaming: Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding. No. Unlike in Randoms, it's less likely that your opponents are going to pull a stupid to make Jean Bart's Main Battery Reload Booster pay huge dividends. The more serious the competition, the less appealing she'll become. Plus Missouri has radar. For Collectors: If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you. Yes. She looks gorgeous and she's got a fair bit of history to her. For Fun Factor: Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play? Very yes on toast. After the first time you obliterate some poor sap coming about, you'll never be able to let go. What's the Final Verdict? How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage - Meh - Gud - Overpowered? GARBAGE- The boat is unbalanced, not fun to play and weak. The ship desperately needs some buffs or some quality of life changes. Mehbote - An average ship. Has strengths and weaknesses. Doesn't need buffs to be viable however she's not going to be considered optimal. Gudbote - A powerful ship, often one of the best ships at a given role within its tier. Usually considered optimal for a given task. OVERPOWERED - The boat is unbalanced and powerful. Typically she's either horrible to play against or she redefines the meta entirely If I have to do this again, I'm getting out the crayons. In Closing Updated for October 23rd, 2018. Jean Bart was finalized shortly before this article was originally published. Three days later, they announced she was going back into testing because of concerns she was over performing. Frustrating as this could have been, the changes have been simple to account for. Jean Bart still risks being overpowered, but the circumstances are far more specific now. She's still a highly competitive ship, but without the clear cut dominance she could demonstrate with alarming reliability in randoms. Wargaming has been mum on what's coming out next. With the Aircraft Carrier rework choking the airwaves, it's a bit of a toss up. Le Terrible was finalized almost two weeks ago however I have not had access to her in order to be able to finish my review, so she's on hold for the time being. I'm mostly done reviewing Prinz Eitel Friedrich too, so it's a race to see which one gets the greenlight first. Thank you all for reading!  Appendix World of Warships AP Calculator (n.d.) https://mustanghx.github.io/ship_ap_calculator/
  22. @LittleWhiteMouse EDIT: Now that LWM has provided her context time to add mine. I happen to be in a discord with LWM and I came home for work. When checking my notifications that gem greeted me. I was half joking when I said I was tempted to post it in the forums cause in Hinon thats what we do. (Looking at you @Lert) but when @LittleWhiteMouse said I could I jumped on it.
  23. The original and best. Quick Summary: A Bismarck-class battleship that trades away Hydroacoustic Search and AA-power for deck mounted torpedoes. Cost: 12,500 doubloons Patch & Date Written: 0.6.4 to 0.6.12, April 19th, 2017 to October 27th, 2017 Closest in-Game Contemporary Bismarck, Tier 8 German Battleship Degree of Similarity: Clone / Sister-Ship / Related Class / Similar Role / Unique The differences between Bismarck and Tirpitz are distinct. While they share the same main and secondary gun battery performance, Tirpitz has access to two quad-torpedo launchers while Bismarck has Hydroacoustic Search. Bismarck has a tremendous advantage in AA power over her sister ship, while also enjoying marginal improvements in armour protection, speed, agility and aerial concealment. Finally, the position of two of their 105mm dual purpose secondaries differs slightly, with Tirpitz having better firing arcs. PROs: Excellent armour protection and nigh invulnerable to citadel hits from AP shells. Main battery has a fast, 26s reload and good gun handling characteristics with a traverse rate of 5º per second. High penetration HE shells, capable of besting 95mm of armour with a 34% fire chance per shell. Heavy secondary gun battery complement with excellent 7.5km base range and improved, 37mm penetration on her 150mm guns. Powerful torpedo armament, especially for a battleship. Fast at 30.5 knots. Awesome selection of premium camouflages for long-time veterans. CONs: Poor anti-torpedo defense. Inaccurate main battery guns with low DPM, poor HE shell damage and poor fire angles. 105mm secondaries cannot damage the hulls of tier VIII+ destroyers. Short 6km range on her torpedoes. Torpedo tubes are vulnerable and get disabled often. Weak AA power for a tier 8 Battleship and easily one-shot by AP Bomb armed carriers. Very large turning circle of 850m. Lacks Hydroacoustic Search found on high tier German Battleships It's been a long time since I last looked at Tirpitz. Heck, I've been working on this review for six months now. When patch 0.6.4 dropped and Tirpitz received a buff to its secondary gun range, I thought the timing was perfect to sit down and look at her again, especially as she seemed to be encroaching upon Bismarck's supremacy. Well, things got busy and the meta surrounding German Battleships took a huge shift. Enterprise's AP bombs were one such jolt. The Royal Navy Battleships shook things up again and it forced me to review what I had so far evaluated and elect to wait to see if things shifted further. Things appear stable now. The Hallowe'en 2017 event has introduced another (so awesome looking) camouflage pattern to Tirpitz, so I thought it best to get this one off my list while the getting was good. So here we go -- six months late but hopefully not a dollar short. My big concern is that the buffs from 0.6.4 have largely made Bismarck obsolete. Bismarck can boast a few advantages that she trades in exchange for Tirpitz's torpedoes -- the question is "did Wargaming go too far when they improved Tirpitz's secondaries?" Well, let's take a look. Lert will join me with his final thoughts on this venerable premium. The three camouflage patterns for Tirpitz. These have become available for players who have owned her for a long time and has greatly increased her value. The Tarnanstrich camouflage greatly increases the amount of free-experience Tirpitz can earn while Magnu-S provides a small (about 4,000) credit boost. Note that the Magnu-S Hallowe'en camouflage can only be seen if a player enables the filters in port. Options Tirpitz shows her age when it comes to her options. First, she does not have access to Hydroacoustic Search as other tier 8+ German Battleships do. Second, she has access to three different premium camouflages. Initially, she comes with the standard Type 10 camouflage. The second camouflage came grace of the Hunt the Graf Spee campaign over Christmas 2016 and into New Year's 2017. It has not been made available since. The third camouflage pattern became available Hallowe'en of 2017 and it's likely that this too will become a rare accessory. It remains to be seen if Wargaming will offer these options again in future events. Her consumables are standard, with her Damage Control Party having a 15s active period and a 120s/80s reset timer. Consumables: Damage Control Party Repair Party Spotter Aircraft or Float Plane Fighter Module Upgrades: Five slots, standard battleship options Premium Camouflage: There have been three Tirpitz camouflage types. When purchased, you receive the Tier 6+ Standard (Type 10). This provides 50% bonus experience gains, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy. Veterans with Tirpitz may have access to Tarnanstrich - Tirpitz. This is the equivalent of the Type 11 camouflage found on Anshan. It provides 100% bonus free experience in addition to the Type 10 camouflage buffs. For Hallowe'en of 2017, the camouflage Magnu-S - Tirpitz became available. This provides the same bonuses as the Type 10 above but includes a 10% reduction to repair costs. (A special thanks to SoliDeoGloria for their help with this). These bonuses are identical to the premium camouflage you can purchase for Bismarck for 4,000 doubloons. Remember to equip as many premium consumables as you can readily afford. In order of priority these should be Damage Control Party, then Repair Party and finally her Spotter Aircraft or Float Plane Fighter. Of the two options provided, the Spotter Aircraft is (generally) more useful. This not only provides additional range (which is of limited use), but it also allows you to better triangulate the necessary range needed to bulls-eye ships hiding in smoke screens by homing in on the origin of their tracers. Her Float Plane Fighter isn't an awful choice, however, and with the right skill build, can be very useful in spotting approaching torpedoes and even detecting enemy destroyers. For upgrades, take the following: In your first slot, Main Armaments Modification 1 is essential. Your torpedo tubes will get knocked out often and your guns are going to take a lot of abuse too. In your second slot, you have a choice. Aiming Systems Modification 1 is optimal. This increases the performance of your main battery, but it comes at a cost -- the maximum range and accuracy of your secondary gun systems. If you want to use a full secondary build, take Secondary Guns Modification 2. In your third slot, take Damage Control System Modification 1. In your fourth slot, you have a choice. Damage Control System Modification 2 is optimal. Fire damage is more prevalent than ever. This module will save you 1,871hp per fire that's allowed to burn itself out (2.7% of your HP). Alternatively, you can take Steering Gears Modification 2 to assist with agility, but on its own, it will not improve manoeuvrability much without help. And finally, in your final slot, take Concealment Modification 1. Versus Bismarck There are a few difference between the two sister ships. Bismarck gets access to the Hydroacoustic Search consumable. Veterans of Bismarck may also have access to up to four different permanent camouflage patterns, though their bonuses are all identical to the permanent camouflage Bismarck can purchase. Firepower Primary Battery: Eight 380m rifles in 4x2 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration. Secondary Battery: Sixteen 105mm rifles in 8x2 turrets, twelve 150mm rifles in 6x2 turrets. Torpedoes: Eight tubes in 2x4 launchers, one off each side behind the funnel. Torpedoes Tirpitz's torpedoes help make her the Best Brawling Battleship in World of Warships. This is a title she's held since her introduction in September of 2015 and she hasn't surrendered it to any contenders since. Tirpitz was the first battleship in World of Warships to be given a torpedo armament and it caused a lot of fuss back in the day. Since then, Mutsu, Kii and the Scharnhorst sisters have joined her, but this hasn't diminished her prestige. Tirpitz's torpedo armament is the heaviest among battleships. However, when the stats of her torpedoes are examined on paper, they seem hardly inspiring. With a range of a mere 6km and a hitting power that seems more akin to weapons found on tier V or VI vessels, they can appear deceptively lackluster. Tirpitz's torpedoes are a brawling weapon and in this regard, they can be viewed as the equivalent of dealing a citadel penetration with her main battery per individual torpedo strike. Being able to deliver up to four of these against any target (regardless of angle) is an enormous strength and makes Tirpitz an exceedingly dangerous opponent in close quarters. Even single hits can be near catastrophic with the threat of flooding stacking upon the fires lit by her secondaries. Their lack of range is their biggest weakness. It's so short that it's a rare game that a well played Tirpitz gets to use them at all. And I do stress this "well played" part. Pushing to brawling ranges too early will only isolate Tirpitz from her support and invites to get her focused down by enemy vessels. Many a novice Tirpitz player has brazenly charged ahead to try and make use of this trump card, only to frustrate themselves with getting sent back to port for their folly. There's a reason this ship has earned the moniker "Derpitz" -- this mistake is commonplace. Don't be one of those chowderheads that helps propagate this stereotype. Another flaw of Tirpitz's torpedo launchers is their fragility. They get damaged often -- disabled both temporarily and permanently. This stems from three inherent problems with her torpedo launchers. Their hit point total. Their lack of armour protection. The amount of fire Tirpitz takes. Tirpitz's torpedo launchers have a standard 1,200 hit points -- a value common to all torpedo launchers, as is their 25% chance of being temporarily disabled per damaging hit received. They are effectively unarmoured, making them exceedingly vulnerable to high explosive shells. Taking Main Armaments Modification 1 increases their hit points to 1,800 and reduces the chance of being critically damaged down to 20% per hit, which is better, but not great. It's only by stacking the captain skill, Preventative Maintenance, that you can get their critical hit chance down to a more manageable 14% per hit taken, but this won't save them from total destruction.The volume of fire Tirpitz takes in a typical match all but guarantees your torpedoes will be temporarily disabled at least once. It's heartbreaking to lose one of these mounts permanently. There are few things worse than finally securing a chance to use them in close quarters only to find them missing. The prevalence of Royal Navy battleship high explosive fire has only increased the likelihood of Tirpitz losing her torpedoes. If you find yourself coming under fire from a British battleship, you're very likely to have your torpedoes permanently stripped after receiving a volley or three. Provided Tirpitz can survive getting into a close quarters engagement (and with her torpedo armament intact), her torpedoes give her an excellent chance of clinching the win in any brawl, even against tier X battleships. Tirpitz's main battery penetration values courtesy of World of Warships Armada. Secondaries One of the most significant changes that came to Tirpitz has been the improvement of her secondary gun battery. Tirpitz now boasts one of the most fearsome secondary gun complements in the game, with phenomenal reach and volume of fire. No other ships in the game currently put out the same wall of fire as German Battleships can. The buff Tirpitz received increased her secondary gun battery range from 4.5km when she was initially released up to Bismarck's own 7.5km reach. Fully specialized, Tirpitz's guns may reach out to a range of 11.3km between modules, skills and consumables. This is insane. Like, seriously -- I get that Wargaming was trying to be consistent, but holy meatballs on a six inch sub, did she really need this buff!? The disruption effect of these secondaries is considerable -- it's like an aura of doom that gradually sucks the life out of enemy ships that stray too close to the German behemoth. Tirpitz is veritably surrounded by a dark cloud of death and destruction. The closer enemies get, the more deadly the storm of shell and fire, leaving opponent choking for air and desperate to get away. The better of the two guns are her twelve 150mm guns are mounted between six turrets. Four enjoy favourable forward firing angles. These guns have a slower rate of fire of eight rounds per minute stock (this can be increased to 9.36rpm between Basic Fire Training and the Mike Yankee Soxisix signal and bumped up further with Adrenaline Rush). However, they have a decent base fire chance of 8% per shell. More impressively, they have improved penetration values of 37mm (as opposed to 25mm as would be expected), allowing them to damage the extremities of any warship they should encounter. This makes it easy for Tirpitz to stack damage even against other high tier battleships at medium to close range encounters. Her sixteen 105mm guns form the backbone of her secondary armament and they have more mixed performance. They have an excellent rate of fire, being able to spit out a fearsome 17.91rpm per gun (increasing up to 20.95rpm with the skills and consumable mentioned before). Their fire chance is only modest at 5% but when coupled with their rate of fire, the chance to set blazes is better (pound for pound) than Tirpitz's 150mm guns provided you can land the hits. However, unlike the 150mm guns, Tirpitz's 105mm guns do not enjoy increased penetration values. This leaves them with a paltry 18mm of penetration which is utterly insufficient to damage the hulls of tier VIII+ destroyers. Short of landing shells upon a target vessel's superstructure in high tier matches, her 105mm secondaries are not going to be stacking direct damage. The solution may seem to be to reach for the skill Inertial Fuse for HE Shells to correct this, but this damages the fire chance of all of Tirpitz's weapon systems. Still, this would provide Tirpitz with the ability to ravage all destroyers and British cruisers within her matchmaking spread. One of the drawbacks of German HE shells, to which her secondaries are not immune, is their low damage per hit. Tirpitz will do no more than 561 damage per 150mm hit and a mere 396 damage at best per 105mm hit (compare this to the 726 damage from Warspite's 152mm HE and the 495 damage from her 102mm HE). It takes a long time for Tirpitz to stack damage with her secondaries. This damage will add up, but don't expect it to win matches by themselves. Like Tirpitz's torpedoes, rushing blindly forward to make use of these weapons will only get you killed. Support your team. Don't let yourself become isolated just because you want to subject your opponents to your poo-gas stink cloud of shelly-flamey doom. Overall, Tirpitz's secondaries are a powerful tool. They can provide an alarming level of supporting fire that can surprise and intimidate your opponents. However, they are not a wunderwaffe -- they will not win matches by themselves. It takes a significant investment to make them truly formidable, often at the cost of survival skills. Used correctly, her secondaries can help tip the balance in engagements and even in matches, but they are a support-weapon, not a primary weapon. Main Battery So, Tirpitz has great secondaries and powerful torpedoes -- but what about her main battery guns? I'm very tempted to say, 'What ABOUT her guns?' and leave it at that (what are you, greedy?), but they are worth examining. Tirpitz shares the same guns as Gneisenau and Bismarck. These are high velocity 380mm rifles that compete well with comparable 15" AP rifles found on any of the Royal Navy battleships. They have high shell velocity, and decent penetration power. They aren't without their problems, however. It may sound funny to say after reviewing her heavy torpedo and secondary batteries, but Tirpitz is under-armed. Let's start with her penetration power. While Tirpitz does enjoy better penetration than Monarch, all this means is that she doesn't have the worst penetration at tier VIII. The performance of her AP shells is best considered "sufficient" and no more than that. She sits well behind Kii and Amagi and even further behind Alabama, Massachussetts and North Carolina. Her HE shells do have better penetration than normal, sharing Monarch's ability to best 95mm of armour. However, unlike the British, German HE damage is anemic. In fact, the damage off both her AP shells and HE shells isn't great for her tier. They have decent fire chances, but you'd be a fool to reach for HE in this ship with any regularity. Accuracy wise, the news isn't good. Tirpitz has the least accurate guns at her tier. They're hit with a one-two punch of German battleship dispersion levels (which are the worst in the game) and 1.8 sigma. This is further compounded by the wide spacing of her guns not only on the ship (Tirpitz is enormous) but within the turrets themselves. The last piece of the puzzle is that players so often make things worse by not installing Aiming Systems Modification 1 in order to instead boost their aforementioned secondaries. Expect some serious misbehaving where gunnery is concerned. Her biggest weakness, however, is that Tirpitz has only eight 380mm guns. Though she boasts a faster reload time, this really hurts her outgoing damage potential. This is compounded when she's forced to angle against long range fire. Her guns all suffer from a 290º fire angle which isn't terrible, but it's not great either (we'd want 300º fire angles for 'great'). While Tirpitz is largely immune to citadel hits, she's not immune to taking massive 20,000 spikes of damage when an enemy battleship catches too much of her side. This disparity in guns really hurts in bow-tanking situations. The British and American battleships can trade fire back with six guns, you're often only left with four. So Tirpitz's main battery is meh. Sure, it handles great. Sure, she's got a good rate of fire and decent range. Her AP shells are good enough, but she doesn't put enough shells downrange to compete with the other big ships at her tier (other than her sister). It's a good thing she's got her secondaries and torpedoes. But, don't let all of this negativity lull you cruiser and battleship-drivers into complacency. Tirpitz is still a battleship and she's still throwing 6.4 tonnes of death at you every twenty-six seconds. If only a third of that hits you, you're still going to have what the Chieftain describes as "a significant emotional event". Her guns are good enough. However, her overall firepower is phenomenal. Summary: Her main battery is weak. Her AP performance is okay but still miles behind the Japanese and American battleships. If that weren't enough, the gun dispersion will troll you often. This isn't a long range sniper by any stretch. Her secondaries are awesome, though they're not the be-all-end-all murder-machines they appear to be. You'll rarely get to use her torpedoes, but when you do, they will be game changers Versus Bismarck Tirpitz is better armed than Bismarck, having access to deck mounted torpedoes while Bismarck does not. In addition, Tirpitz has slightly better forward fire angles on two of her 105mm secondaries which are placed further out from the hull. The two sisters are otherwise identical here. Manoeuvrability Top Speed: 30.5 knotsTurning Radius: 850mRudder Shift: 16.0s Maximum Rotation Rate: 4.11º/s Tirpitz has speed to spare. She's not the fastest battleship at her tier (Bismarck holds that honour by a half knot), but she's pretty damn quick. A lot of apologies can be made for a ship with long legs. It facilitates much. It provides her with flexibility. It allows you to get out of (and into) trouble. It also can partially mitigate a bad turning radius as she'll come about faster than her turning circle might otherwise indicate. As far as her handling goes, it's not great. She has a long rudder shift time and an enormous turning circle. The only spot of good news is that she can throw the ship about at a respectable 4.1º/s despite these shortcomings. Adding Steering Gears Modification 2 can reduce her rudder shift time down to 12.8 seconds but this doesn't help her rate of turn significantly. In terms of manoeuvrability, Tirpitz will never be anything but average for a large battleship. She has more power than agility. Versus Bismarck Bismarck is half a knot faster than Tirpitz in a straight line. She's also slightly faster in a turn, keeping a speed of 23.4 knots when her rudder is hard over while Tirpitz lags behind at 23.0 knots. This increases Bismarck's rate of rotation to 4.2º/s. If there's one thing Tirpitz doesn't want for, it's speed. She's able to sprint at over 30 knots -- more than enough to keep up with the rest of the fleet and traverse the enormous high tier maps with haste. DurabilityHit Points: 69,300Maximum Protection: 315mm belt + 120mm turtleback + 45mm citadel wall Min Bow & Deck Armour: 32mmTorpedo Damage Reduction: 22% There's a lot to talk about here and not all of it good. There has been a significant meta shift for Tirpitz over the summer of 2017. Let's start with the really bad stuff. First of all, Tirpitz has awful torpedo protection for a high tier ship. The values at tier VIII vary from 19% up to 49% and Tirpitz definitely sits in the lower half. At least she's not the worst. Torpedoes will hit her for most of their listed damage and you can expect to take flooding criticals from most hits. She's a big target and she doesn't dodge well, so torpedoes (especially the air dropped kind) love you. Moving on... Tirpitz is horribly vulnerable to both American and German AP bombs dropped by Dive Bombers. Ironically in this game, the more armour you have on your decks, the more dangerous AP dive bombers become. Suffice to say, Tirpitz is "well protected" across her decks and the roof of her citadel. In practice this means she has enough armour to arm the fuses of any AP bombs that strike her and guarantee they won't overpenetrate. She can and will take multiple citadel hits from armour piercing bombs and it is not uncommon for her to be deleted outright from an attack wave of dive bombers from Enterprise or Graf Zeppelin, even from full health. Anytime Tirpitz faces Enterprise or Graf Zeppelin (or any future CV with AP bombs), take heed. These are your nemesis. Citadel hits are thankfully rare otherwise. While her excellent armour scheme works at cross-purposes with itself against AP bombs, it functions as designed against shell strikes. The armour design is very straight forward with a 315mm thick strip of external belt armour, an interior 45mm thick citadel wall and, between them, a 120mm angled plate to help divert or deflect incoming shells. Were these a simple sandwich of vertical plates, this would combine to a total thickness of 480mm -- proof enough against the penetration power of even the vaunted USN 406mm/45s at a range of 15km but the angle of the turtleback makes this even thicker. In practice, her opponents cannot land citadel hits against her at medium to close ranges. It's only from far out shots, with high penetration shells that she need worry and even then it's a rarity. Her short range protection gets even more impressive under close inspection. Not only can she prevent citadel penetrations, but the extended 60mm bow armour can allow her to ricochet even Yamato's 460mm AP shells aimed at her waterline (this won't hold up if she aims a little higher, though). A properly angled Tirpitz can survive a ridiculous amount of AP-shell punishment thrown at her. It doesn't hurt that Tirpitz has the highest hit point total at her tier which translates to a Repair Party consumable that heals a generous 9,702hp per charge. With much of the ship being covered by a minimum of 60mm of armour, Tirpitz enjoys significant protection against HE throwing vessels. Her amidship hull is all but immune to damage saturation from destroyer and cruiser thrown-HE shells (the notable exception being Graf Spee). However, this all falls apart when the Royal Navy battleships show up to ruin the fun. This has presented a rather pronounced shift in Tirpitz's meta. Where before the ship could build for secondary gun fire, manoeuvrability and concealment, commanders are now forced to seriously consider stocking up on survivability skills instead to mitigate fire damage. There is no solid protection against the Royal Navy high explosive shells for Tirpitz, short of finding cover or sinking the offending party. Tirpitz's Damage Control Party is often overtaxed in such encounters and skills like Fire Prevention, Basics of Survivability and High Alert as well as upgrades like Damage Control Modification 2 have increased significantly in value. The prevalence of Royal Navy Battleships is beginning to ebb somewhat, but survivability builds are still very much worth considering. The shift in meta has hurt Tirpitz's survivability in a few short months. She's still a very tough ship, but the good grades she previously earned have been marred with new developments. While she has always had to fear airstrikes, AP bombs present a new and very immediate threat to which she has no answer but to hope allies protect her. The prevalence of high explosive shells being thrown everywhere has made her great armour scheme less valuable. At least the RAF doesn't get to dump Tallboy bombs on you. There are more answers to counter Tirpitz than before. This doesn't make her durability rating poor. She's just not the be-all-end-all that she once was in this regard. Versus Bismarck Tirpitz outweighs Bismarck and enjoys a 100hp advantage over her sister ship. Bismarck has a thicker armoured belt, though, which reaches 320mm. This 5mm advantage also extends to her underwater belt protection which is 245mm versus 240mm on Tirpitz. Otherwise, the two sisters are very close in this regard. Broken in half by sustained Battleship and Cruiser fire, this cross section (though tragic) gives a beautiful interior view of the compartmentalization and different armour layers which makes the Tirpitz so tough to citadel. Concealment & Camouflage Base Surface Detection Range: 16.38km Air Detection Range: 14.79 km Minimum Surface Detection Range: 12.30km Surface Detection when Firing in Smoke: 15.05km Main Battery Range: 21.45km Surface Detection within Tier: 6th out of 9, behind Alabama & Alabama ST. Surface Detection within Matchmaking: 15th out of 33 The Bismarck-sisters used to be considered reasonably stealthy for a tier VIII battleship. The introduction of Royal Navy Monarch changed this definition, however, with a 1.8km advantage over the German leviathans. Still, Tirpitz's surface detection isn't terrible, it's just nothing to get excited about anymore. Still, it's pretty hilarious sneaking upon tier VII cruisers and magically appearing in front of them like a total creeper. Versus Bismarck The two sister ships have the exact same surface detection range. This extends to their detection range when firing their guns in smoke. Bismarck is marginally more stealthy overall, though, with an aerial detection range of 14.67km. This is really too close to matter very much, though, especially at the speeds aircraft fly. Anti-Aircraft DefenseAA Battery Calibers: 105mm / 37mm / 20mmAA Umbrella Ranges: 4.5km / 3.5km / 2.0kmAA DPS per Aura: 134 / 21 / 84 Float Plane Fighter DPS: 60 Tirpitz has the lowest AA power among Battleships of her tier. Not only does she have less overall average damage per second, but her large caliber guns are shorter ranged than those found on Amagi, Kii, North Carolina or Alabama. This puts a big ol' target overtop of Tirpitz for any enemy carrier looking to hoover up some big damage numbers. However, Tirpitz is not without redeeming qualities. The majority of her anti-aircraft strength is found within her dual purpose 105mm batteries and this provides a comparable long-range punch to the American Battleships and gives Tirpitz a bit of a saving grace. Properly specialized with anti-aircraft skills, her AA defense can be brought up to a respectable level with Basic and Advanced Fire Training and the inclusion of Manual Fire Control for AA Guns. This is a heavy investment to bring Tirpitz up from a ready victim of aircraft to make her a less appealing target, though. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that an enemy aircraft will recognize or appreciate the difference. The stakes have only gotten higher for Tirpitz with the advent of armour piercing bombs. The proliferation of these weapons has made playing German Battleships more challenging. When one of these carriers is on the enemy team list, it's imperative (more so!) that Tirpitz hug the AA umbrella of friendly vessels judiciously, preferably with a cruiser armed with Defensive Fire to scatter the bomb drop. Even a 5.0km gap between vessels can spell the end, allowing for opportunistic strikes to end the German juggernaut in ridiculously short order. If I didn't impress it upon you earlier, I will say it again: ships like Enterprise and Graf Zeppelin are fully capable of destroying a full health Tirpitz with a single sortie of their bomber complement and there's no amount of manoeuvre that will save you. You do not have the AA power to fend off these attacks and you're one of the few targets they can do this to. You are a hunted ship from the moment the game begins, so seek the cover of your allies at all times. Yeah. Tirpitz's AA power is pretty bad. This is the reason every single aircraft will divert onto you if they see you're unsupported. Versus Bismarck Here's where the big difference really counts. Bismarck doesn't have especially good anti-aircraft firepower, but it's a damn sight better than Tirpitz. This can be enough to make Bismarck look like a less inviting target if a carrier needs to choose between them, which is really all that matters when push comes to shove. How to Made in German Insert mustachioed crazy-person picture here There are two primary builds for Tirpitz -- survivability and a manual-secondary build. You could consider this the difference between specializing for defense versus specializing for offense. For the Survivability Build your first ten skill points should be the following: Start with Priority Target. Take Adrenaline Rush for your next skill. If you're going to be taking damage, you may as well capitalize upon it. Next grab Superintendent for the extra heal. Cap it off with Fire Prevention to reduce the chance of being set ablaze and the number of fires that can be burning at one time. For your next nine points, spend them on Concealment Expert, Basics of Survivability and Expert Marksman. You have a little flexibility with this build. You can take High Alert as your last skill if you struggle on managing your Damage Control Party. This build is ideally backed with flags like India Delta (+20% Repair Party healing), India Yankee (-20% to Fire duration) and November Foxtrot (-5% to consumable reload time). For the Secondary Build, your first ten skill points looks like this: Begin with Priority Target. Take Adrenaline Rush for your next skill. Improve that secondary reload time! Up next is Basic Fire Training to increase their rate of fire further still. This has the added bonus of giving your AA power a little more teeth. Take Advanced Fire Training as your next skill to throw that range out to your maximum reach. For your next nine points, Manual Fire Control for Secondary Armament should be your first priority. After that, it's up to you which skills to choose. The highest value skills for Tirpitz are (in no particular order), Fire Prevention, Expert Marksman, Concealment Expert, Vigilance, and Superintendent. Special mention deserves to be placed towards Manual Fire Control for AA Guns. You can try and put it in there to give Tirpitz's AA power a little more teeth. Her dual purpose 105mm guns do put out an excellent bit of firepower (albeit at 4.5km range). This will make her a thorny prospect for some of the lower tier carriers, but it will not save you when something of equal tier or higher decides it wants your hit points. Worse, even with this upgrade, it's unlikely to dissuade enemy CVs from trying their luck anyway and you're not going to wipe out the attack craft wave so you will still end up taking damage. Still, you can at least make attacks on your vulnerable BB more costly for the carriers, but don't kid yourself in thinking this will be a tremendous help. I never thought I would say this but air dropped torpedoes aren't Tirpitz's most pressing concern these days. Overall Impressions Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult If ever Tirpitz could have been called a premium battleship for beginners, that time has long passed. There are more threats to manage now and the use of consumables and positioning is of ever more importance. Granted, she is German and that does provide some training wheels for the novice, but she's not a simple ship to use... if she ever was. Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / Extreme Knowing every trick in the book will take you far with Tirpitz. She rewards angling, proper ammunition choices, abusing concealment, micromanaging consumables and min-maxing commander skills. However, she has no answer for aircraft from same tier or higher carriers (even Kaga and Saipan are considerable threats). Similarly, torpedo armed destroyers will dominate you. In this regard, no amount of skill will allow you to carry further beyond bringing a division mate to be your permanent flak battery and sonar buoy. The Lertbox Is she worth your money? The venerable Tirpitz. Is she still relevant? There is no denying that meta shifts and power creep have not been kind to her. Despite recent-ish buffs to her secondary range she still struggles around the middle of the pack in winrate and damage per game. I still have a soft spot for her though and believe she still has a place in this game. She's still the Queen of the Brawl with a very nasty poison dagger and destroyers should still fear her secondary battery. Where she falls apart though is in long range gunnery. Unfortunately with the introduction of the British BB line this is where the meta has been shifting; raining literal fire from afar. With only eight 15" barrels with mediocre accuracy she can't compete in a pure burning contest at long range. Other than that though, I believe Tirpitz still has a place in this game. She still excels in the brawl, she's still tough as nails. Even though she's not the queen of the tier 8 battleships anymore, she's still comfortable to drive. Mouse's Summary: Tirpitz is still the brawling heavyweight champion in the game. Her main battery guns wouldn't be terrible if they were more accurate or if she had more of them. Alas she doesn't. She's not incapable of doing large amounts of damage -- she just has to work at it more if you're only using her main battery guns. Once you supplement them with her secondaries and torpedoes, the sky's the limit. The only problem there is that opportunities to use the latter two weapon systems to their full effect aren't guaranteed and you run the risk of getting yourself wrecked if you try and do so before it's time. She's horribly vulnerable against aircraft and AP armed Dive Bombers make her wet herself and not in the sexy way. While it's arguably more intelligent to rig her for survivability, it's more fun to build her to use secondaries. I am glad I didn't finish this review when I started back in the Spring of 2017. I had originally wanted to talk about her after patch 0.6.0 -- to bring her up to date with the Captain skill change. However, it was when I received word that Tirpitz would be getting the same secondary gun range as Bismarck in patch 0.6.4 that pushed Tirpitz closer towards the top of my priority pile. 'What the heck is the point of Bismarck, then!?' I said to myself, groaning as yet another premium ship became arguably more powerful than her tech-tree counterpart. But I got busy -- first with Kaga, then Hood, then every other premium WG released over the summer. Tirpitz, and a hot-headed grump-fest about how she was superior to Bismarck, sat by the wayside. Then Enterprise showed up. Say what you will about this American carrier in World of Warships -- it announced a change in the meta that would be directed towards reigning in the dominance of battleships and the German battleships specifically. Tirpitz suffered especially with her poor AA rating. Wargaming followed this up by introducing Graf Zeppelin and the Royal Navy battleship line which seemed tailor made to neuter the German battleship strengths.. What made Tirpitz and Bismarck oh-so butt-kickingly powerful was punched in the throat. Their armour either mattered-for-not or it worked actively against them. So, powerful as Tirpitz is, she now faces one hard counter and a whole battleship line of soft counters. The meta has really shaken up around this premium battleship. Granted, she doesn't face this every game -- or even in most of her games. This has attacked some of the comfort level that used to exist when playing Tirpitz. In some games she can still be powerfully dominant. At other times, she's cowering on the second line until the bad airplanes and fire breathing dragons are properly neutralized. Now, I personally love this ship. It was one of the model kits that my father and I built together when I was little. Seeing her in World of Warships always touches on that small element of nostalgia for me. These rose tinted glasses are very dangerous to be wearing when trying to conduct an objective review. If I seem excessively negative about Tirpitz in this review, understand that I'm making sure I underline and stress her flaws. Tirpitz is still a great and powerful premium ship. Age may have tarnished her luster somewhat, but the buffs in 0.6.4 ensured she's able to stay not only relevant but highly competitive in the marketplace, even with AP Bombs and HE shells flying every which way. Tirpitz didn't sink the Bismarck when she received her improvements in 0.6.4, but she supplements her sister ship nicely. Any player that owns this ship should feel confident that she's still got it where it counts. Versus Bismarck Tirpitz does not make Bismarck redundant. The major difference between the two ships is the swap of AA Power and Hydroacoustic Search to equip yourself with a set of deck mounted torpedoes. That's a pretty serious quality-of-life changes for the sake of being able to shove fish up someone's nose. While it's wonderful for Tirpitz to be able to pull this off and it can be absolutely game changing when it happens, it's a rare occurence. AA power, on the other hand, is put to use far more often. So too can Bismarck's Hydrouacoustic Search any time she's being pursued by torpedo-armed destroyers. The buffs Tirpitz received didn't make her replace Bismarck -- she supplements her sister ship as any good premium sister-ship should, with her own fun strengths and weaknesses. Though things were looking up in patch 0.6.4, it hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows for Tirpitz since. Would I Recommend? Tirpitz used to be an easy recommendation across all categories. For PVE Battles How well does the ship maintain profitability in Co-Op modes and how does she fare against bots? Lert: Yeah. She still puts out a lot of damage at brawling range and she can still bully bots. She'll be a solid and steady earner. Mouse: Yes. Tirpitz is probably the ultimate Co-Op premium battleship so I cannot recommend her enough here.. Big guns, big secondary range and torpedoes? Combine that with speed and good armour -- those poor little bots don't stand a chance. You can forgo all pretense of subtlety and simply charge in, confident that you have the close-range damage to sink at least a pair of ships before going down. Earning 500 base experience in Co-Op is a breeze. This sort of confidence will no doubt spill over into Scenarios should they become available at her tier. Tripitz has a 39,375 credit repair cost with ammunition usually weighing and around the 7,500 to 15,000 credits to resupply. Thus, even a modest game will be self sustaining (especially with a premium account). You may have to forgo premium consumables if you have a stock account though. For Random Battle Grinding: This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements. Lert: She'll still pull in the credits and the close quarters expert badges and she'll still train your german captains in comfort. She gets a recommendation of Yes here. Mouse: Yes. Though Tirpitz is harder to recommend as a Random Battle vessel, I would still say she's a good purchase overall. She no longer feels like the dominating presence she was before Enterprise and the Royal Navy battleships joined the game. Moreover, on the North American server at least, she is facing tier X battles more and more often, but this is a problem inherent to all tier VIII premiums at the moment. For Competitive Gaming: Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding. Lert: No. There are other alternatives that better fit the meta. Mouse: No. Tirpitz is not the best choice for Ranked Battles. Her gunnery is too unreliable and her lack of anti-aircraft firepower can be a liability depending upon team composition. If this is your primary reason for wanting a premium ship, I would give her a pass here. She can compete, but there are better and more versatile choices. For Collectors: If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you. Lert: It's Tirpitz, the ship that scared the pants off of wartime Britain without actually doing anything other than sipping martinis and swatting at RAF flies in a fjord. Plus, she's one of the most beautiful ships in the game. Very yes. Mouse: Yes. Tirpitz's history is less glamorous than her sister ship and full of what ifs, but she certainly gets the imagination going. Plus, Wargaming can't seem to stop making cool premium camouflages for her. For Fun Factor: Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play? Lert: Brawling is fun. Ships that are comfortable to drive are fun. A strong yes here. Mouse: Very yes. Tirpitz is the sort of ship where those memorable moments keep rolling in. What's the Final Verdict? How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage - Meh - Good - Overpowered?
  24. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review: Musashi

    Battleship Musashi was provided to me by Wargaming. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this article are those of the release version of this ship and are current as of January 17th, 2018. Insert Kancolle boob-wrapping related joke here. Quick Summary: A Yamato-class battleship at tier IX. She has slightly less accuracy, greatly reduced secondaries and AA power. Cost: 750,000 free experience + 1 credit. Patch & Date Written: 0.6.15.1 through 0.7.0.0 -- January 12th through 17th, 2018. PROs At 97,300hp, she has the largest hit point pool of any of the tier IX battleships. Ridiculously thick armour in places with a 410mm belt, 560mm barbettes and 650mm turret faces. Beyond her extremities, her deck armour is a minimum of 50mm, providing her an immunity to most cruiser caliber HE shells. Excellent anti-torpedo defense with a 55% damage reduction. Armed with nine 460mm guns with enormous alpha strike, DPM and overmatch characteristics. Greatly extended active periods and shortened reset timers on her float plane consumables. Players can choose which price they wish to set for this ship, from free to the equivalent of 35,000 doubloons. CONs Citadel is exposed above water and has bad armour geometries which leaves her vulnerable when improperly angled. Horrible gun handling with a painfully slow turret traverse of 2.5º/s. Weak secondary armament, despite their decent range. Worst AA defense of not only any of the tier IX battleships, but also worse than any of the tier VIII battleships. Low top speed, slow rate of turn and an enormous turning circle. Huge surface detection -- possibly visible from space. Her best camouflage is locked behind a 5,000 doubloon additional purchase. Doesn't have Yamato's gun sounds. What the ever loving seagull turds on toast, Wargaming!? Overview Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / Extreme Even with her exposed citadel, Musashi is dirt simple to play and very casual friendly. By simply pointing her bow towards the enemy, she'll tank tons of damage and deal back a ridiculous amount in return. This same simplicity is also a weakness. There's nothing really fancy a veteran player can do with Musashi -- not without risking blowing out her machine spaces or getting her magazines one shot by a Shimakaze torpedo. She's too big too hide, too slow and clumsy to extract herself from trouble and so vulnerable to air strike, she dare not leave the safety of the herd. It's knowing when to move out and when and where to drop anchor that separates the good from the bad. Her traits break down as follows: These short-hand evaluations are based upon comparing the ship directly with the other tier IX battleships and not across her matchmaking spread as a whole. To say she's a one trick pony wouldn't be far from accurate, but it's one Hell of a trick at tier IX. As you can see, her guns have a lot of heavy lifting to do. Her armour and hit points will go a long way towards buying time to let Musashi lay down the hurt, but only if you can keep her from taking citadel damage. Let's take a closer look at how good these guns are, why they're such a big deal and the controversy surrounding her durability and defense. Options Musashi has a trio of surprises. The first, is the option for her High School Fleet camouflage. The second and third are her non-standard Spotter Aircraft and Float Plane Fighter consumables which have increased active periods and greatly reduced reset timers. Consumables: You have the choice between two aircraft options. The rest of the consumables are fixed. Musashi's Damage Control Party is standard for an IJN Battleship. This has a 10 second active period and a 120 second reset timer for the standard version and 80s for the premium version. Her Repair Party consumable is also standard. This heals back up to 14% of her maximum health over 28 seconds. In her third slot, Musashi has the option of either form of catapult aircraft. The active period and reset timers for these consumables are not standard. Her Spotter Aircraft is active for 120 seconds (instead of 100s) and her reset timer is either three minutes or two minutes depending on if you take the standard or premium consumable (instead of six minutes / four minutes). Her Float Plane Fighter is active for 180 seconds (instead of 90s) and her reset timer is either 90 seconds or 60 seconds on the standard and premium versions respectively (instead of three minutes / two minutes). Musashi's fighter does 55dps with 1,420hp which is on the weak side for this consumable. Premium Camouflage: There are two available to this ship. She comes with her Type 10 camouflage. Y118 - Musashi may be purchased for 5,000 doubloons. Musashi's Type 10 camouflage provides100% bonus experience gains, a 20% reduction to maintenance costs, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy. For fans of the anime series High School Fleet, there's the Y118 - Musashi. On top of the bonuses described above, it also adds another +50% to Commander Experience. There are only minimal geometry changes with the High School Fleet camouflage, limited to the removal of the A-crossing rails on the stern. Module Upgrades: Six slots. Standard battleship upgrades. In your first slot, take Main Armaments Modification 1. Follow this up with Damage Control Modification 1 in your second slot. If you access to the Special Upgrade, Spotter Aircraft Modification 1, this isn't a terrible option for Musashi given the increased duration time she already enjoys on this consumable. This would increase it's active time from 120 seconds to 156 seconds. Personally, I would prefer the fire chance reduction and increased torpedo damage reduction. In your third slot, Aiming Systems Modification 1 is optimal. You do not have the secondary or anti-aircraft firepower worth upgrading. If you're especially salty about turret traverse, you may take Main Battery Modification 2 to drop her 180º rotation time from 72 seconds to 62.6 seconds. This will slow down your reload time from 30 seconds to 31.5 seconds. In your fourth slot, Damage Control Modification 2 is optimal. Taking Steering Gears Modification 2 makes sailing Musashi more comfortable but it does not greatly enhance her agility. In your fifth slot, you have the choice. You may take Concealment Modification 1 to try and reign in your horrible surface detection range (you may as well try bailing out the ocean with a teaspoon, but every little bit helps, I guess). Alternatively take Target Acquisition System Modification 1 for bonuses to spot torpedoes and increase your guaranteed spotting range from 2.0km to 3.0km for what good it will do you. Depending on the skills you are choosing for your commander, one of these two options will make more sense (see below!) And finally, in slot number six, grab Main Battery Modification 3 to reduce your reload time from 30 seconds down to 26.4 seconds. This will sadly increase your 180º turret rotation time from 72 seconds to 81.4 seconds. Enjoy. (If you took Main Battery Modification 2 in your third slot, your reload time will be 27.7 seconds and your turret rotation will be 70.7 seconds for 180º). Firepower Primary Battery: Nine 460mm rifles in 3x3 turrets in an A-B-Y superfiring configuration. Secondary Battery: Twelve 155mm rifles in 4x3 turrets, Twelve dual-purpose 127mm rifles in 6x2 turrets. If your interest in Musashi had nothing to do with her history, then it's her guns that brought you here. The potential of the Yamato-class firepower being shoe-horned in at tier IX should give everyone fears of this ship being overpowered. Say what you will about the rest of the ship upon which they are mounted, Yamato's guns are arguably the best offensive strike from a gunship available in the game currently. Musashi nearly duplicates her sister ship's firepower but for two very important differences. One of these differences is manageable. The other is not. Let's begin with the latter. In Her Sister's Shadow Musashi's secondary firepower is terrible. She does not duplicate Yamato's secondary battery by any stretch. This is one of the most pronounced differences between the two sister ships. Unlike her anti-aircraft deficit, this is one area which matters. The differences are as follows: Half of Yamato's 127mm secondaries reload in 6.0 seconds. The other half reloads in 5.0 seconds. All of Musashi's 127mm secondaries reload in 7.5 seconds. Yamato has twenty-four 127mm secondaries. Musashi has twelve. Yamato has six 155mm secondaries. Musashi has twelve. Musashi doubles her 155mm complement but halves her 127mm armament. This is a significant drop in firepower even before you account for her increased reload time. The drop in her rate of fire feels unnecessary and punitive. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that Musashi's secondaries do not pose a threat, they are certainly not threatening. You cannot count on them to punish a destroyer or cruiser that gets themselves spotted within their range unless they are on perilously low health. Even then, I wouldn't count on it. Heavy secondary specializations on this ship struggle to earn their keep. Musashi doesn't have the best main battery guns in the game, but she's pretty damn close. The honour goes to her sister and the one small improvement that makes Yamato such a feared presence in World of Warships -- at least when her guns are loaded and trained in your direction. The only difference between Musashi's weapons and Yamato is her sigma value. Yamato has 2.1 sigma. Musashi has 1.8. That's it. That's the only difference. Their range, reload time, rotation rate, dispersion area, penetration -- it's all identical. You're going to hear a lot of noise about how this difference of 0.3 sigma makes all of the difference. They're not wrong in premise, but the emphasis is overblown. Musashi & Yamato's Real Difference All things being equal, Yamato is more likely to land massive, devastating hits than Musashi with her main battery guns. This isn't to say that Musashi isn't equally capable. She is. Statistically speaking, Yamato will simply do it more often. How much more often? I would give it no better odds than one additional time in six going by strict accuracy measures. So for every six devastating strikes you land with Musashi, Yamato will spit out seven. This is a marked difference -- do not underestimate it, but it's not a night and day difference some of Musashi's early detractors would have you believe. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Allow me to explain why these guns are such a big deal. Yamato's 2.1 sigma dispersion (orange) vs Musashi's 1.8 sigma (red). 180 shells fired at 15km, locked onto a Fuso. Both ships are using Aiming Systems Modification 1 against an a target without camouflage. Behind the Hype First and foremost, these guns have one telling flaw: Musashi's gun handling is abysmal. She begins with a 2.5º/s rotation rate and adding Main Battery Modifcation 3 will drop this down to 2.2º/s. And that's about it for weaknesses, truly. Objectively, these are excellent weapons. They are reasonably accurate with the tightest horizontal dispersion values, average sigma, ridiculous alpha strike, penetration and damage per minute properties. These guns hit hard, they hit often, they have tremendous range and you don't need to choose between improved accuracy or improved rate of fire as you might with an American battleship. Anything you hit will be hit hard. A single overpenetration to a destroyer is nearly the equivalent of being hit by two of Scharnhorst's 283mm shells. What's more impressive about them is that like Royal Navy battleships, Musashi can fire one ammunition type exclusively and rack up huge damage totals. Unlike Lion, however, Musashi can rely solely upon her AP shells, confident that she can almost always damage her targets catastrophically when she lands hits. Really, it's as simple as that. Musashi brings the biggest guns in the game to the table. She fires a monstrously huge shell that can damage just about anything it touches. These guns are good -- as you would expect them to be, and a lot of this has to do with their ability to ignore armour that everyone else can't penetrate. Musashi, like Yamato, has excellent fire angles - just a whisker shy of the coveted 300º on each turret. She can nearly guarantee to autobounce any incoming AP rounds while still being able to return fire with all nine gun barrels. Overblown and Overpowered Overmatch If you're unaware, overmatch is the ability for guns of a large enough caliber to outright ignore ricochet mechanics. The idea is simply that the shell is too darned big for a thin piece of steel to deflect them, even at very high angles. The larger the shell, the more steel it can ignore. For Musashi's 460mm guns, this value is 32mm which is a very important value in World of Warships as it forms the bulk of the extremities of high tiered battleships. Her and her sister Yamato are the only ships capable of penetrating the 32mm bows found at tier VIII+. As someone who has played a lot of mid-tier battleship games, I keep forgetting how much of a big deal overmatching is to high tiered battleship players. If you regularly play dreadnoughts from tiers III through VII, you know all about overmatch. Spend any time playing low tier premiums as trainers and you'll learn very quickly that tier III, IV and V battleships are utterly incapable of preventing their bows from being overmatched, even by 283mm battleship guns. You learn to angle, but not angle too much, in order to protect your ship. At tiers VI and VII, you suddenly gain the ability to prevent bow on penetrations from up to (and including) 356mm guns. This is where the laziness begins to set in. At tier VIII, you gain magic bow armour that prevents it from being penetrated by almost everything. Knowing how to angle just right becomes trivial. It always struck me as silly for players to tell me that high tiered game play demonstrated the pinnacle of skill when knowing about proper armour angling became mostly irrelevant thanks to everyone's immunity to each other's AP when they parked bow on. This sparked the outrage that was the Royal Navy HE-fest which runs contrary to the bow-on meta. Well, Musashi's here to shake things up further by making overmatch just a little more commonplace for higher tiered ships. Overmatching in tier VIII+ games is very powerful, if only because the static game play so often espoused in high tier matches makes it so. If someone wants to park themselves in front of your guns, you should absolutely oblige them and stove-in their stupid faces. Against tier VII ships, this is copious amounts of overkill but there are some ships like HMS Nelson that are made all the more vulnerable with the presence of Musashi's armament. Overall, Musashi's ability to overmatch is a very real strength, but moreover, it simply allows her to rely on AP shells and ignore the use of HE almost entirely. For World of Warships, this is very traditional and "proper" battleship game play, even if it as "game breaking" as Royal Navy HE spam. While she is not going to one-salvo delete ships as often as her sister ship, she's still going to do it a lot. So pick your poison. Death by burninating or death by sudden deletion by 460mm blasts of doom. Musashi tops the charts, as you might expect for the biggest guns in the game. Evaluation: BEST What it would have needed to be GUD: Here's where we argue which guns are the second best at tier IX. I'd have to give it to the 419mm found on HMS Lion over the 406mm found on Iowa and Missouri. While the American guns are slightly more accurate and harder hitting, Lion beats them out on penetration and can swap between her AP to her monstrous HE shells giving her so much more flexibility. In addition, Lion doesn't need to choose between accuracy and rate of fire. The ubiquity of Lion's armament almost beat out Musashi -- almost. Slow down Musashi's rate of fire or kick her sigma down lower than 1.8 and she might not be the champ. Durability Hit Points: 97,300hp Maximum Citadel Protection: 410mm Min Bow & Deck Armour: 32mmTorpedo Damage Reduction: 55% Musashi should be the toughest damn ship at tier IX. She might have been, but she has a crippling flaw: Her citadel sits so high it's nearly in orbit -- even higher than Yamato's own. That Musashi still weighs in as one of the most resilient vessels at her tier when being compared to HMS Zombie-Flanders and the German Juggernaut speaks volumes to the list of her advantages. Excessive Hit Point Total Stupidly Thick Armour Torpedo Defense Citadel Immunity to AP Bombs Musashi has 97,300 hit points. Her closest competitor, one of the H-series amalgamations hiding as Friedrich der Große has 84,300 hit points. This advantage should be obvious, but there's some subtle nuances to it. Players should keep in mind that the maximum hit point total of a ship does absolutely nothing when it comes to mitigating percentage-based damage over time effects like flooding and fire. A single fire on Musashi does just as much relative damage as it would to Kawachi, for example. The flip side of this is that Musashi's large hit point total does provide her with a healthier Repair Party consumable. Each charge heals her back 13,622 hit points over 20 seconds. Why doesn't this make Musashi the BEST? Well, here's why: Musashi loses out on primacy to HMS Lion's zombie-regenerative powers. Interestingly, this only applies if HMS Lion buffs her Repair Party consumable (and she should). In a protracted fight, given enough time to make good use of her consumables, Lion will out last Musashi every single time. Against all other opponents and Lion players that don't know any better, Musashi has the hands down advantage. Unless they burn her to death. Musashi has stupidly thick armour. Most of it is effective, even, which is somewhat of a miracle. Her belt armour is 410mm thick, which doesn't sound like that much until you apply a little trigonometry. At a 45º angle and with the reverse sloping of her belt, Musashi can boast in excess of 600mm of effective plating across her machine spaces. This provides relative immunity to even battleship caliber guns at 15km. So even when not perfectly angled, Musashi's rather well protected. In bow-tanking situations, her turrets protect her from overpenetrations to her superstructure by playing goal-keep with their 650mm turret faces and 560mm barbettes. Overall, Musashi's armour turns away a lot of AP penetrations and AP over penetrations into zero-damage shatters and ricochets. Why doesn't this make Musashi the BEST? Unfortunately, this protection partially undone by her citadel placement and shape. That 410mm armour is Musashi's citadel, so there's no backup behind this. What's more, this isn't the maximum height of her citadel either. There's a turtleback slope, steeply angled that's between 230mm and 340mm thick and with a ludicrious octagonal shape. Because of the angle, the turtleback is typically only vulnerable at very long range, but the vertical slope beneath it is not. This is only 350mm thick (with a 32mm bow on top of that), but given the penetration power of incoming shells at this tier, that's not going to stop anything if Musashi over-angles. Properly angled, Musashi can last for days. It's downright comical watching poor tier VII battleships trying to accost her with their tiny baby weapons. However, when she's facing 460mm caliber shells from another Musashi or Yamato or when an enemy gets her side, any pretense of being able to tank safely goes right out the window and she becomes dangerously vulnerable. I wasn't kidding when I said she had a high water citadel. The octagonal geometry makes Musashi especially vulnerable when she over angles her bow. Her opponents need simply best the 32mm armour there to get a shot into the flat 350mm citadel armour beneath. Musashi has amazing Torpedo Defense. When she takes hit against her torpedo bulges, Musashi outright ignores half the damage done. On top of this, she's incredibly resistant to flooding. Without question, she is the BEST when it comes to torpedo protection at tier IX ... at least when it comes to taking damage. I mean, arguably, it would be best if she could avoid it altogether. Heh, that's a funny joke... Musashi being agile enough to avoid things... Musashi's citadel is functionally immune to AP Bomb Hits. Lert and I spent a lot of time in the Training Room dumping AP bombs over and over and over and over again onto Musashi's decks, hoping to see some big numbers. Neither the American AP bombs nor the German AP bombs ever landed any telling hits. We never saw anything more than penetrating and over penetrating strikes. Math wise, you're looking at well over 30 or more bomb hits to sink Musashi using this ordnance type, which is patently ridiculous. Why doesn't this make Musashi the BEST? Immunity to AP bombs isn't anything new if you're not German. So that's Musashi's durability in a nutshell. Admittedly, it's a mutant, GMO nutshell, but it's a nutshell none the less. When everything goes right (and it will go right most of the time), she absorbs ridiculous amounts of punishment. This is all contingent on identifying where attacks will be coming from and keeping your bow pointed straight towards it. When fire, fish and Yamato-caliber guns appear, it's time to make yourself scarce, but that's a common flaw of all battleships, not just Musashi. Evaluation: GUD What it would have needed to be BEST: Lower her damn citadel. Manoeuvrability Top Speed: 27.0 knotsTurning Radius: 900mRudder Shift: 18.7s Maximum Turn Rate: 3.5º/s Don't let the labels fool you: I wouldn't go so far as to call any of the tier IX battleships "good" where their agility was concerned. The Iowa-class sisters are fast but they turn like dumpy ol' butt. Lion has a decent bit of wiggle in her tush but her speed is lackluster and winning out on rudder shift means nothing as it's a garbage stat. It should say a lot that Musashi is the worst out of this sorry bunch. There's no contest here. Musashi wiggles as pleasantly as a syphilitic grandpa without pants. Her top speed of 27 knots is the root of all of her ills. She is not flexible. She cannot dictate engagement distances. Her sluggish top speed makes her middling turning radius into a torturous grind as she slowly wheels about. She takes longer to change her heading than the bricks of the American standard-type battleships at tiers VI and VII. Yet in spite of all of this, she's still fully capable of frustrating players by rotating faster than her turrets. There is nothing pleasant about how Musashi handles. Nothing. Evaluation: BAD What it would have needed to be FAIR: Musashi could have had her turning speed artificially boosted in the same manner as Colorado or New Mexico. These battleships have their turning speed penalty slashed in half -- instead of losing 25% of their maximum speed, they only bleed 12.5%. Musashi would turn at 23.6 knots instead of 20.3 knots which would in turn accelerate her rate of rotation from 3.5º per second up to 4.05º per second -- an enormous change. This would make rotate as well as North Carolina or Monarch. Anti-Aircraft Defense AA Battery Calibers: 127mm / 25mm / 13mm AA Umbrella Ranges: 5.0km / 3.1km / 1.2kmAA DPS per Aura: 60.6 / 73.2 / 7 The graph on the left shows the raw AA DPS numbers of the tier IX battleships (and Yamato from tier X). The graph on the right applies a formula {AA DPS x ( Range - 1.0km )} to calculate the overall effectiveness of the ship's AA power. This weights longer ranged weapons as being much more valuable as planes will linger within their effect longer. None of the Japanese battleships shown have what could be described as "good" anti-aircraft firepower. Thus, while Musashi's AA firepower is terrible, it's not like she could have expected things to have been stellar. Musashi's anti-aircraft firepower would be an embarrassment at tier VII, never mind two tiers higher. Musashi is utterly incapable of seeing to her own air defense, regardless of what tier of aircraft are assailing her. A heavy investment into trying to salvage her anti-aircraft firepower can claw her out of the dregs and make her a thorny enough issue to shred a few tier VII planes, but don't kid yourself into thinking you can salvage Musashi's air defense. It will always be terrible. Her improved float plane fighter is probably her best anti-aircraft asset, though this won't prevent a determined CV from burying you. Only a desperate, ill timed and uncoordinated assault on Musashi will ever be thwarted by her float plane fighter. It would be a mistake to think that Musashi's lack of AA defense is a tremendous disadvantage, however. Aircraft carriers are not commonplace. Furthermore, Musashi isn't that bad -- at least in comparison to her tier X sister ship. With the wonderful exception of Kii, anti-aircraft defense has never been a strong point of the Japanese battleships. In fact, Yamato's anti-aircraft firepower would be disappointing at tier IX and only marginally better than Izumo's, so there's no great loss here. If on the off chance you do encounter a Midway intent on deleting you, it doesn't really matter that you're in Musashi. You could have been in Yamato, Lion or Friedrich der Große -- you would still get sunk. The only question is: How many planes would it have cost her when facing those other ships? Evaluation: BAD What it would have needed to be FAIR: A miracle. Yeah. That's all you get. Refrigerator Base Surface Detection Range: 18.00km Air Detection Range: 15.99km Minimum Surface Detection Range: 13.51km Detection Range when Firing from Smoke: 19.27km Main Battery Firing Range: 26.5km Detection Consumables: Spotter Aircraft / Float Plane Fighter The only thing you're sneaking up on realistically are two IJN Battleships that should really be put out of their misery. Musashi's surface detection isn't terrible. It's worse than that. You should accept right from the word go that you've lost the surface detection war with Musashi. Short of tripping over an Izumo that's given up on hope, there's really not much in the game you'll ever find yourself being able to out spot. This doesn't mean you should give up on concealment entirely. As tough as Musashi is, there will be times when you'll want to avoid being shot at and rigging this behemoth up for her best impersonation of stealth can keep your ship in the game longer. The situations where this will be useful aren't going to be commonplace. However, with Musashi's anti-aircraft firepower and secondaries being absolutely terrible, you may have a glut of spare skill points to devote to Vision Control. But let's be honest: In an ideal game, Musashi's surface detection should be 26.5km as your guns will be unloading almost non-stop. It's really only when the Red team decides to focus upon you in a rude (and game winning) manner that you should look to see if silencing your weapons can help dig you out of the mess you've put yourself in. Musashi isn't fast, so any extraction plan is going to take some time -- time a better concealment build might afford you. This said, any invested skills and modules sunk into stealth for Musashi goes right out the window if there's an enemy aircraft carrier lurking about or a surviving destroyer. Hell, even a leftover float plane fighter from that cruiser you sunk earlier will spot you from at least 14.4km -- further than you can see it and there's almost nothing your pathetic AA can do about it even if it was directly overhead, you poor thing. The only bit of a good news for Musashi in this whole category is that her aircraft -- both her Float Plane Fighter and her Spotter Aircraft -- last longer than the versions found on other battleships. Of the two, her Float Plane Fighter is the real winner, with a three minute up time, which is fantastic for a battleship. This can help you peak around islands, spot torpedoes and generally help alleviate a feeling of being completely blind. While these planes won't survive long in the flak-heavy environment of high tier matches, their reset timers are also short, so it should be less likely that you're caught completely unawares. If you're not considering a full stealth build, then those four skill points could be much better spent between Direction Center for Catapult Aircraft and Vigilance. Evaluation: BAD What it would have needed to be FAIR: Not that much, truly. A couple hundred meters off her surface or aerial detection range could have nudged her down there. The addition of some form of bonus spotting consumable like Missouri's radar might have also done it. As it is, the extended up time on her aircraft is already a good boon that had me debating which evaluation to give her in the first place. Mouse: I need a shorter term than "Vision Control" -- one word preferably so that it fits in the vertical summary pictures.Lert: Refrigerator.Mouse: Synonymous to it, smarty pants. Lert: Oh. Learning to Fight with Two Swords Musashi differs from her sister ship (and indeed, most other IJN battleships) in that she doesn't benefit nearly as much from AA / Secondary boosting skills. While it's always been of questionable merit to emphasize secondaries and AA power in most IJN battleships, with Musashi it's a loser move right from the word go. Here's the skill list I recommend: As ever, start with Priority Target. If you are apt at using the reflections of enemies in your sword blades, then you can take Direction Center for Catapult Aircraft instead. You've got a choice here. Adrenaline Rush is optimal -- it increases your rate of fire further, catapulting Musashi's DPM to beyond monstrous levels. However, for comfort and control, Expert Marksman is probably the better choice to accelerate your turret rotation from a crime against humanity to just a manslaughter charge. Next up, you want to start stacking skills to help with fires. Take Basics of Survivability. Follow that up with Fire Prevention. Your next nine points should be put into Superintendent and then doubling back to grab whichever tier 2 skill you skipped. You have four points left at this stage, which could be put into Concealment Expert (which admittedly, does help but it's not game changer) or a combination of skills like Vigilance and Direction Center for Catapult Aircraft / Preventative Maintenance from tier 1. Final Evaluation Missouri's biggest claim to fame is her credit earning coefficient which is, frankly, off the charts. Thanks to help from within the community, I collected pages upon pages upon pages of Missouri results screens to analyze her credit earning compared to Musashi's. While the sample size from the latter was admittedly smaller, being donated only by fellow CCs and Supertesters, it did give me a glimpse into the earning differences between them. Musashi earns approximately 75% of the credits Missouri earns. Musashi earns approximately 12.5% more than a tier VIII premium. Note I am speaking only of the base credits earned. This doesn't include expenses, premium camouflage or any other bonus. This number was very difficult to isolate and, if truth be told, I'm not sure I nailed it exactly. After analyzing a few hundred results screens from Tirpitz, Roma, Musashi and Missouri, my eyes are ready to fall out of my head. I did learn a few things -- namely that experience and credits are not directly linked, so credit gains differ from experience gains. It should be noted that both Kii and Roma with their Makoto Kobayashi camouflage will have higher credit earning totals than Musashi does. To best them you would need to equip a camouflage with an increased credit earning bonus like the Gamescom 2016. Musashi does earn bank -- never doubt it. She can't threaten Missouri for top spot, however. Musashi (red, long dispersion field) vs Missouri (green, squat dispersion field). Shells recorded with 25% opacity, allowing them to be stacked 4 times. 180 shells at 15km, locked onto a Fuso. Both ships are equipped with their dispersion reduction upgrades (7% Musashi, 11% Missouri). Fuso does not have camouflage. Mouse's Summary: Dirt simple game play. Point your nose at the enemy. Keep pulling the trigger. She's tough as nails until she's not. When one of Musashi's weaknesses (flanking, torpedoes, bombers) gets exploited, she folds quickly. She's closer to Yamato than most people give her credit. So many people dismissed Musashi out of hand: "A downtiered, stock-Yamato," they said, as if this was really something worth derision. The argument went that the free experience costs used to unlock Musashi should be better spent on Yamato instead. That's kind of a silly comparison to make, in my opinion. If you have anywhere close to that much free experience kicking around, you've long made up your mind about whether you want a Yamato or not and probably taken steps to acquire her. Having Musashi on offer isn't going to sudden make buying that Yamato you skipped all of this time worth while. But hey, if she suddenly looks attractive now that Musashi is out, more power to you. This is a very powerful premium battleship. Playing Musashi is all about buying time. She doesn't have Yamato's accuracy. It takes her a little longer to get up to speed -- to make those 460mm salvos really hurt. RNGesus may smile on you early on in a match every now and then, but it's best to bank on the need to stretch out those minutes as best you can to give you more bites of the apple -- to give you more time to drop those 14,800hp warheads on bow-tanking stupid heads and turn the course of battle. Finding a comfortable island shadow to lurk near, probing the enemy until they make a mistake -- that's Musashi's bread and butter. For most players, Musashi promotes static game play, I'm sorry to say. The combination of armour vulnerability, enormous surface detection and slow speed largely relegates Musashi's to such mind numbing simplicity, especially for inexperienced commanders. While she can push, while she can lead a charge and while she can pressure a cap circle, moving away from a safe anchorage undoes all of the benefits of her awesome armour scheme. So long as she has targets in front of her that need killing and she's able to put out effective fire, why risk moving? Frankly, it will win you games. If you do muster up the courage or reckless abandon to sally out in this monster, you're in for a treat so long as the threats to your flank are secured. Musashi is a phenomenal bully when top tier and she's no slouch at tier X either. Putting your ship up on the firing line and absorbing the wall of abuse can spare your team mates undue pressure. You're likely to survive what they can only dream of tanking themselves. There are inherent risks to doing this -- if you team doesn't push while you stick your neck out, no number of heroic damage absorption you demonstrate will turn a losing match into a winning one. You should be able to farm some nice damage before the loss, however, and who knows? The enemy might get reckless enough to drip feed their ships into your guns and turn their victory into a loss. This is why I enjoyed my time with Musashi so much. She's a ship that can really make a difference. Musashi reminded me a lot of my first year with World of Warships where I sank game after game after game into Warspite -- another ship with ridiculously powerful guns and horrible gun handling. I can think of no higher praise than that. There's just one problem... Musashi is overtuned. Musashi does too much damage and she's too tough to be a tier IX ship. The latter definitely helps the former -- whatever accuracy qualms 1.8 sigma may have given the ship design, having Yamato's full health pool a full tier lower gives her enough time to make those weapons sing. This is a ship that needs to be focused down and focused down hard when she's seen or you're going to lose ships quickly. While this ship will not last long when played by someone who doesn't know what they're doing, even in the hands of someone semi-competent, they're going to punch much higher than their weight class. Would I Recommend? 750,000 free experience is a heavy investment and it outright locks out new players. While I'm sure there are those of you out there who have legitimately horded this amount without spending a dime, for most players looking to acquire Musashi, they're going to be looking to use doubloons to convert experience on premiums and elited ships. Newer players have a lot of grinding to do before they can even do that. You're going to need 30,000 doubloons to afford this at the cost of approximately $110 USD or €100 to do this from a zero sum of free experience (and that's not including the extra 5,000 you'll need for her upgraded camouflage or the 300 for the port slot). The longer you spend grinding the experience, the less expensive you can make it. So set your own price. PVE Battles How well does the ship maintain profitability in Co-Op modes and how does she fare against bots? Absolutely. Musashi's guns seem specifically designed for dealing with bow tanking bots. Her increased credit earning allows her to earn a tidy sum. With her standard premium camouflage equipped, you'll spend 36,000 per match in maintenance with ammunition sitting at 400 credits per shell fired. Just beware dumb bots throwing friendly torps at you. Random Battle Grinding:This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements. Very yes. Do you like earning High Caliber and Dreadnought medals? Musashi prints High Caliber and Dreadnought medals. She's one of the best ships in the game for grinding credits -- currently only behind Missouri, Kii and Roma (and the latter two must have the Makoto Kobayashi camouflage). This gets even better with the High School Fleet camouflage for boosting commander experience gains. For Competitive Gaming:Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding. Yes. Musashi is very powerful at tier IX. For Collectors:If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you. Very yes. Musashi has the triple incentive of: 1.) Being a free-experience vessel that anyone with a lot of time can acquire. 2.) A beautiful historical vessel with a tragic end. 3.) The option of collecting a fun camouflage for a series players may have enjoyed. For Fun Factor: Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play? Very yes on toast. Subjecting a Pensacola-class cruiser to 460mm guns is a level of fun everyone should experience before the American cruiser line gets redone. What's the Final Verdict?How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage - Meh - Gud - Overpowered? GARBAGE - The boat is unbalanced, not fun to play and weak. The ship desperately needs some buffs or some quality of life changes.Mehbote - An average ship. Has strengths and weaknesses. Doesn't need buffs to be viable however she's not going to be considered optimal.Gudbote - A powerful ship, often one of the best ships at a given role within its tier. Usually considered optimal for a given task.OVERPOWERED - The boat is unbalanced and powerful. Typically she's either horrible to play against or she redefines the meta entirely. In Closing Hey, I made it. This review, like Ashitaka and Makarov before it is being done at the last minute. I hope quality hasn't suffered overmuch. It's still adhering mostly to my vision of what I want these reviews to look like going forward. They will continue to evolve -- you'll note that the Angry YouTuber review was hiding at the end again. Hopefully my "Overpowered" evaluation doesn't take anyone by surprise. I'm confident that over time others will begin to see the horrifying potential of a Yamato-class battleship at tier IX, even without its 2.1 sigma, secondaries, or AA firepower. Thank you all for the feedback on my Roma review. I'm going to continue to try out new things going forward; we'll see what works and what doesn't. Please don't hesitate about reaching out to me to let me know what you like and what you would like to see improved. Hopefully for my next review, I'll have a little more time to experiment more. I really just had to push through this one to try and get it out for the ship's launch. I want to extend a special thank you to my Patrons on Patreon who have already pledged their support. I'm looking to do more with that shortly, including setting up an easier way for you all to contact me. Hopefully this review is indicative of the amount of time and energy that I put towards these projects -- even on short notice, I do my best not to let you guys down. This isn't done without cost, however, and your support really helps me make ends meet. If you enjoy my reviews and are not already a patron, please consider helping out so that I may continue covering ships as they're released. I honestly don't know what's next after Musashi. I think I'm going to have to poke Wargaming and see what's on the docket. Maybe I'll have time to revisit an older review.
  25. HMS Vanguard is the ghost of the Royal Navy battleship tech tree everyone wanted to see. Ostensibly, HMS Vanguard was designed to be a tier VIII version of HMS Warspite. However, Vanguard falls short of this aspiration. For a high-tier Royal Navy battleship, she's surprisingly not idiot-proof, with a vulnerable citadel that needs to be protected with angling and manoeuvres. What's most exciting: Her AP shells are wonderful. Wargaming has offered some concessions to both of the fans of the current Royal Navy battleship line. They included HMS Monarch's excellent high explosive shells to Vanguard's arsenal, ensuring that these two players can continue spamming HE without a guilty conscience while everyone else rolls their eyes. I want to thank Wargaming for providing me access to this ship. This is the release version of the vessel and all of the statistics discussed here are current as of November 15th, 2018. PROS Large hit point pool of 71,700hp. Main battery has a quick 25s reload and excellent gun handling. Has the same dispersion pattern as Warspite, Hood and Queen Elizabeth and boasts 2.0 sigma, making her one of the most precise battleships in the game. Excellent AP and HE performance for a 381mm shell, including good penetration and damage values, rewarding versatile ammunition choice. Very fast rudder shift time for a battleship of 9.7 seconds. Improved Repair Party, queuing and healing back more than standard and with fast reset timer. CONS Exposed, above-water citadel. Absolutely appalling firing angles on her main battery. Main battery is only eight 381mm rifles creating issues with overmatching and DPM. AA defense is for self defense only and is concentrated in 3.5km range, medium caliber mounts that are easily knocked out. Large turning radius of 850m and slow rate of turn exacerbates the issues with her fire angles. Overview The maximum rotation positions of X and Y turret (her rear guns). They are not new-player friendly. They're not even veteran-player friendly. Vanguard's terrible fire angles so utterly dominate her game play, I felt the tremendous compulsion to wear white-lace and beg her to be gentle. These fire angles screwed me over more times than I can count. Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / CHALLENGING / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme Vanguard encourages players to sail with their broadsides exposed. With her above-water citadel, you can imagine how well she's going to go over with novice players. You know what? Never mind the novices. The veterans are going to find this frustrating too as it limits the amount of firepower she can dish out when trading. She's a battleship that reward cautious, opportunistic play -- which is review-speak for "hide in the back, shoot when you can and don't brawl". – One of, if not the worst at its tier. This is a pronounced weakness. – Middle of the pack at its tier. Not terrible, but not terribly good either. – Has a significant advantage over her tier mates. A solid, competitive performer. – No other ship at its tier does this as well as this ship. Vanguard has strengths and weaknesses across the board, giving her a rating in Offense, Agility, Anti-Air and Vision Control. It's only in Defense where she stands out with a rating. Her citadel is very vulnerable for a battleship, however she counters this with a the largest hit point pool at her tier and an amazing Repair Party consumable. Options Aside from Vanguard's Repair Party, there's nothing out of the ordinary to be found here. Consumables Vanguard's Damage Control Party is standard for a British battleship. She has unlimited charges. It has a 15 second action time and a 120s / 80s reset timer. Her Repair Party is improved. See the DEFENSE section below. There's a lot to go over. This starts with 3 charges base. Upgrades Optimization of Vanguard's upgrades will see the usual suspects rear their tired old heads. Start with Main Armaments Modification 1. Next take Damage Control Systems Modification 1. You've got a choice in your third slot. As ever, emphasizing gunnery is best so your first pick here should be Aiming Systems Modification 1. However, if you're salty about CVs, taking AA Guns Modification 2 is an okay choice. It's not great, but it's okay. Damage Control Modification 2 is arguably the best choice for most players in slot 4. You can elect to take Steering Gears Modification 2 to emphasize the strengths of her already quick rudder shift time. Be aware this is harder to make use of optimally even if it can yield higher results -- it's easier to tank damage than it is to dodge it, after all. Finally, take everyone's favourite no-brainer: Concealment Modification 1. Camouflage Vanguard comes with Type 10 Camouflage. This provides: 50% bonus experience gains 10% reduction to maintenance costs 3% reduction in surface detection 4% reduction in enemy accuracy. Firepower Main Battery: Eight 381mm guns in 4x2 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration. Secondary Battery: Sixteen 134mm guns in 8x2 turrets. These are superfiring with two forward facing and two rear facing per side. Secondaries Let's start with the small guns. You can largely forget that Vanguard has secondaries. These 134mm guns lack the range, reload time and volume of fire needed to present a credible threat to opponents. This is really unfortunate given their nice shell weight and fire chance. If they had the range or they had the rate of fire, maybe a secondary build would be fun to play around with. Lamentably, it's a mistake to invest anything in upgrading these weapons -- they simply can't do what you need them to. At best they might be able to start a fire on an enemy capital ship that strays too close. However, with Vanguard's high citadel, getting into a brawl is a death sentence, so stay out of secondary range. Main Battery Precision There's so much to like about Vanguard's main battery. First of, there's her precision. Vanguard is a blast from the past, sharing same horizontal dispersion value of the older British premium battleships, including Hood and Warspite. Inside of 12km, she overtakes even the vaunted Japanese battleship accuracy, making her much more adept at picking off close range targets like destroyers. Combined with her 2.0 sigma value, landing hits feels very comfortable, even at long ranges. Standard dispersion test for my reviews -- 180 shells fired at 15km locked onto a stationary target Fuso without camouflage. She was equipped with Aiming Systems Modification 1. Vanguard doesn't quite enjoy the same level of precision as Warspite owing to her faster shell velocity and energy preservation. This gives her a larger vertical dispersion area at all ranges. However, this does lead to improved shell lead times making gunnery easier. Note that Vanguard suffers from a lot of "downward drift" which adds a margin of error to these shell maps as I had to readjust aim with every volley fired. Thus the dispersion area maybe slightly smaller than shown. Shell Performance Vanguard's HE shells don't share the same performance anachronism as her dispersion. They're modern, almost (but not quite) matching HMS Monarch's HE, including her shell damage and penetration. Monarch's have a 1% higher chance to set blazes over Vanguard, though -- don't ask me why. Vanguard doesn't quite match up to the tech tree Royal Navy battleships for fire setting ability. This is good news to me -- it removes some of the brainless quality of HE spam. When you do reach over for her AP shells, you're rewarded with a welcome change from other Royal Navy battleship AP. Like Warspite before her, Vanguard has a longer fuse timer with her AP. This has a few effects. The downside is that she's more likely to overpenetrate soft targets, including broadside cruisers and battleship extremities. The upside is that it provides her AP with increased bite for reaching machine spaces and magazines buried deeper within the core of enemy warships -- especially those with spaced armour protecting their citadels. Vanguard is especially good at punishing broadside battleships at range. Approximate penetration values for Vanguard's AP shells. Vanguard's HE shells are fixed with 95mm of penetration -- not quite enough to punish the few exposed citadels found on high tier cruisers. Inertial Fuse for HE Shells will add a few more ships to the roster that her HE can punish, but it's not worth the points investment. Data pulled from World of Warships AP Calculator. Site linked in the appendix. Penetration wise, her AP shells are well setup, having comparable bite to Tirpitz and Bismarck. It pays to keep their caliber in mind, however. Her 381mm shells cannot overmatch the 27mm bows of American and German heavy cruisers. As good as Vanguard's AP shells are, spamming nothing but won't do you any more favours than if you used HE shells exclusively. Switch shells often in Vanguard and she'll reward you. Vanguard's fast 25 second reload facilitates swapping between ammunition while also padding her damage output when it comes time to cycle her guns. Damage output among the tier VIII battleships is very close. Vanguard keeps pace with her fast rate of fire, compensating for her smaller armament. As ever, take these numbers with a pinch of salt -- they do not represent the challenges of getting shells on target or penetrating when they get there. For whatever reason, Vanguard's HE shells only have a 34% base fire chance as opposed to Monarch's 35%. This creates an increased gap in their fire setting potential and makes Vanguard no better of a fire starter than American battleships. Still the increased damage she dispenses makes this more than worthwhile. Before any of you get yourself all hot and bothered about Monarch's fire setting, Cleveland (the gold-standard of tier VIII burnination) can spit out 9.97 fires per minute with the IFHE penalty and no other buffs. The same disclaimers apply for this chart as the others -- this is merely an indicator of performance and does not represent actual in game results. A myriad of factors will always conspire to mitigate a ship's ability to set fires including (but not limited to), target selection, opportunity, shell dispersion, fire resistance, etc. The Deal Breaker All of these strengths are present to pad for one massive weakness: Vanguard's appalling fire angles. Vanguard has a fast rate of fire, great HE shells, fast turret traverse and excellent precision because her fire angles are so bad. It's all meant to be compensation because Vanguard must present a near perfect broadside in order to fire all eight of her guns at a target. This leaves her incredibly vulnerable to reprisals. She is functionally incapable of autobouncing enemy shells while firing her full armament and instead she must rely on her armour thickness to repel shells. At anything but the longest of ranges, this is a fool's errand. Thus, Vanguard often has to sacrifice firepower in order to properly angle against her enemies. This is why her gun performance is so good: she's often forced to fight with only half of her weapons. Wargaming have done everything they can to make it easier to bring the other half to bear when possible. Her gun traverse is quick. Her reload is fast. She answers her rudder quickly too to help swing her butt out to unmask her guns. I'm not going to lie: These bad fire angles are enough to put me off this ship entirely, which is saying a lot given all of the wonderful perks her guns otherwise enjoy. Vanguard has the same (terrible) forward firing angles as the King George V-class battleships. However, her rearward firing angles are worse than the tier VII battleship. No matter how you choose to engage an enemy, when you use all eight of Vanguard's guns, you open yourself up to return-fire and potential citadel damage. Bad firing angles are one of my personal pet-peeves. I can stomach a lot of things, up to and including sluggish gun traverse, but not bad fire angles. This has greatly soured my opinion of this ship. Summary Secondaries are bad. Her main guns perform beautifully provided you can use all of them. Her fire angles will get you killed. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : I almost gave her a rating here -- that's how bad her fire angles are. However, there's just too many perks glued onto her weapons to make that a fair assessment. She'd need a much faster rate of fire before I would consider bumping this up. Or, you know, completely redesign the ship to give her better fire angles. That would work too. Defense Hit Points: 71,700 Min Bow & Deck Armour: 32mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 356mm Torpedo Damage Reduction: 25% Armour Protection The 356mm/343mm armour is replicated again around her rear magazine. Her turret faces are 343mm front, 228mm side, 178mm rear, and 152mm on top with 305mm barbettes. Let's start with the elephant in the room: Vanguard's citadel sits over the waterline. Much fuss will be made over this and rightly so. Only Roma shares this high-water vulnerability and the Italian ship is much better equipped to angle and bounce incoming fire. The net effect is that Vanguard is more likely to take citadel damage than other battleships when someone catches her side. This isn't to say that citadel damage is an exclusive weakness to Vanguard. However, it pays to keep her vulnerability in mind. Her aforementioned firing angles on her main battery guns exacerbates this problem. When Vanguard is firing all eight of her weapons, whatever she's shooting at has an easy target from which to farm damage. What makes Vanguard's fire angles such a liability compared to other battleships has to do with autobounce mechanics. Let's get technical for a moment to explain why. If AP shells cannot overmatch armour, there's an autobounce check. This occurs before any penetration attempts are made. The angle of the shell is compared to the angle of the surface it strikes. Normally, battleship AP shells that hit with an acute angle of 30º or less will auto-ricochet. This is why bow-tanking is so prevalent -- shells simply slide off the ship's bow and deck, unable to bite into the armour. No matter how much penetration a shell has, if it strikes at too shallow of an angle, your ship can avoid damage. Normally, battleship AP shells that hit with an angle of 45º or more cannot autoricochet. Any shells that strike between 45º and 90º to the hull will follow normal penetration mechanics. In between these two values, the auto-ricochet chance scales linearly. For Vanguard, when she fires her all eight guns forward at a 43º angle, any return fire from her target has only a 13% chance of suffering a ricochet. When she fires all eight guns to the rear at a 40º angle, this improves to a 33% chance. Most battleships are capable of firing all of their guns 35º off their bow, allowing them to ricochet shells automatically 2/3s of the time. The steeper they angle themselves, the better this defense. This mechanic is absolutely essential for keeping battleships safe from the monstrous levels of penetration found at higher tiers. Not only does it provide a better chance of automatically deflecting shells, it adds relative thickness to their armour belts. The steeper you angle, the greater the effective thickness. Vanguard's belt has between 503mm and 522mm worth of protection at 43º. However, if she could fire at 35º off her bow, this would increase to 598mm to 621mm. Data pulled from proships.ru (link in the Appendix). Values are approximate, usually with about 5% higher estimates than Wargaming's values published in their Armada series of videos. You can see by these values that at range, Vanguard makes an excellent bully when top tier -- with rare exceptions, she can unmask her X and Y turrets and fire, confident that her belt will be proof against return fire. This falls away when dueling with tier VIII+ opponents. With few exceptions, they all have the raw penetration needed to best her belt while she fires a broadside. Her citadel protection isn't all bad, though. First off, AP bombs can't citadel you. Hooray! Second, shots that land high that attempt to bi-pass her belt and drop down into her citadel have to contend with a 32mm citadel roof. Only Yamato and Musashi's 460mm guns can overmatch this, meaning that any other shell will skip off the top of her machine spaces for only penetration damage. Thus it's only shots fired directly at her waterline which can damage her citadel. The use of Priority Target is almost a must to alert you when enemies are looking your way to give you time to angle in and protect yourself. Vanguard needs time to stack damage -- to find those moments where she can sit broadside and make excellent use of her precision and rate of fire but don't push your luck when you're taking hits. There's one last little point of contention with Vanguard's protection scheme: With the entirety of her deck and extremities boasting no more than 32mm of armour, Vanguard is a juicy target for light cruisers. Expect to burn a lot if they catch you out in the open. Provided you can protect Vanguard's citadel (and that's a pretty big if), she has the largest effective hit point pool of any of the tier VIII battleships. With optimal use of her consumable, her theoretical maximum (less Survivability Expert) effectively doubles her hit point pool. In practice, you're never going to see that kind of number. Repair Party If Vanguard appears a little squishy, she all but makes up for it with her excellent Repair Party consumable. While she doesn't boast the same portable dry-dock found on HMS Lion, Nelson and Conqueror, she has the next best thing. Here's the bonuses she has baked in: Her Repair Party resets quickly. The reset timer on consumable is 90 seconds / 60 seconds for standard / premium. Compare this to the usual 120 seconds / 80 seconds of the normal Repair Party. She queues up 60% of penetration damage. This is admittedly standard for Royal Navy battleships, so Vanguard doesn't stand apart from the rest of the ships in her line. For most other battleships it's 50%. Vanguard queues up 33% of citadel damage. This is huge. While it would best to avoid taking citadel damage of any kind, Vanguard heals up more than the 10% of other battleships. Keep in mind, this also applies to torpedo damage which is the most common form of citadel damage battleships receive. This is especially good in Vanguard's case given her poor anti-torpedo protection. She heals up to 16.8% of her hit points per charge. Normal Repair Party mechanics heal up only 14% over 28 seconds -- or 0.5% per second. Vanguard enjoys a 20% boost over this like Warspite, healing 0.6% per second over the same time period. With up to five charges at her disposal through the use of premium and skills, Vanguard's faster reset timer ensures that she's able to make full use of her health regeneration. Her enormous hit point pool also guarantees big returns as Repair Party scales with a ship's starting hit point total. Summary For all of Vanguard's potential vulnerability with her high citadel, she's well equipped to mitigate and manage said damage. When she's top tier, the vulnerability of her citadel drops down considerably, making her very powerful. Light cruisers are always going to be pain in the butt, though, and beware HE spam from battleships too. Vanguard isn't done yet with her tricks, though, as you'll see in the AGILITY section below. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : Can a battleship with an exposed citadel even be considered ? It feels a bit of a stretch to me, but if you can keep her citadel protected, Vanguard is hella tough. That's a pretty big 'if' though when she's not top tier. She may lose her current rating when the North Carolina Repair Party buff goes through. Agility Top Speed: 30.0 knots Port Turning Radius: 850m Rudder Shift Time: 9.7 seconds (!) 4/4 Engine Speed Turning Rate: 4.1º/s The big thing to talk about here is Vanguard's rudder shift time. Now I've harped on rudder shift before -- it's a mean to an end, not an end of itself. Boasting that a ship has a great rudder shift time is like boasting that a ship has great range on its main battery guns -- it's nice to have but it's not a good indicator of a ship's performance. The same applies here. Vanguard answers her rudder quickly and her movements are much more precise as a result, but it would be a mistake to call this ship agile. Vanguard's rate of turn holds her back. 4.1º/s is painfully average for a high tier battleship. She sits well behind ships like the Richelieu-class sisters and the South Dakota-class sisters. This is caused by two things. One, her turning radius is big. Two, she doesn't have any baked in bonuses to help her preserve speed in the turn. The upside to her modest handling (and it's a stretch to call this a benefit) is that she can't out turn her turrets. She starts with a 5.0º/s rotation on her main battery guns and Expert Marksman only widens the gap, making adjusting her fire very comfortable if it weren't for those damned firing arcs. Vanguard's fast rudder shift time is almost good enough to allow her to fire her guns and angle back quickly enough to avoid reprisals. Almost. The simple fact of the matter, going from a 30º aspect to a 43º and back again takes too long. I never managed better than 15 seconds during trials. You might be able to pull this off against an inexperienced opponent but this is owing more to their mistakes rather than the merits of the ship itself. If you want to be able to fire all eight of Vanguard's guns while not getting your citadel blown out, you're going to have to play clever. Now just because Vanguard can't wiggle-wiggle-shoot doesn't preclude her from being able to dodge. This is something she's quite good at and where her rudder shift time makes her deliciously unpredictable. You'll still need range in order to pull this off, but you can pretend to begin unmasking your guns in order to bait shots and then double back on your course to bounce their shells. Similarly, the amount of bounce and twirl in her badonkadonk makes her a real nuisance for destroyers to land torpedoes. Vanguard is all about frustrating gunnery -- both yours and your opponents. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : She's not a speed demon like the French botes nor wiggling like the SoDaks. She's also not a thunderbutt like Kii, so there's that. I was personally hoping to see her preserve a little more speed in the turn to get her rotation rate up -- that would have done it, but it didn't pan out during testing. Anti-Aircraft Defense AA Gun Calibers: 134mm / 40mm AA Umbrella Ranges: 5.2km / 3.5km AA DPS per Aura: 68 / 413.1 For personal defense, Vanguard's anti-aircraft firepower is excellent -- comparable to the American battleships. However, that's about as far as it extends. Vanguard lacks the weight of fire with her dual purpose guns to be a credible threat to aircraft further out. This precludes any claims of efficiency with Manual Fire Control for AA Guns -- too much of her flak is focused upon her 3.5km 40mm batteries. This adds a second weakness: her medium caliber weapons don't stand up to punishment very well. If you've taken even a light dusting of HE shells, odds are your anti-aircraft firepower is nowhere near as formidable as it once was. So, while you're pristine and perfect, you'll shred planes. It's worth investing in Advanced Fire Training to help boost this further, but that's about as far as improving her anti-aircraft firepower should go. Hey look, I made it through a section without mentioning her awful fire ang -- aw, damn it. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : She's very close. Were it not for FOUR American battleships all having very similar AA firepower (and Kii besides), she might be able to muscle in and make her presence felt. As it is, she sits in their shadow. Refrigerator Base Surface Detection: 16.04km Air Detection Range: 13.7km Minimum Surface Detection Range: 12.04km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 14.73km Main Battery Firing Range: 20.0km There's not much to go over here. Vanguard's concealment is "sufficient unto the task" and nothing more. She sits in the middle of the pack for surface detection behind Monarch (14.6km), Roma (14.9km) and North Carolina (15.7km) and just ahead of the Alabama-twins (16.2km) and Bismarck-sisters (16.4km). Vision Control consumables are rare at this tier, being limited to Bismarck's Hydroacoustic Search and various spotter and float plane fighters found on select ships. Vanguard doesn't have access to any of them and she ends up feeling blind without them. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : More stealth or a spotting consumable other than an aircraft. Alpha and Omega There's not much to say in regards to the skill choices for Vanguard. You can buff up her anti-aircraft firepower if you're super salty about CVs, but on the whole a generic battleship captain build emphasizing fire resistance would serve you better. Start with Priority Target. Take Adrenaline Rush as your second skill. Follow this up with Basics of Survivability at the third tier. For your 10th point-skill, choose between Concealment Expert and Fire Prevention with your 14th point-skill, take the alternative. With your remaining 5 points to spend, customize as you will. Advanced Fire Training will serve you well if you want a little more teeth to your AA guns -- especially when paired with AA Guns Modification 2 from your upgrades. For your remaining 1pt, take either Preventative Maintenance or Expert Loader. Alternatively, you can mix and match between Superintendent, Expert Marksman, Jack of All Trades and High Alert. Keep those tier 1 skills in mind as filler. Final Evaluation She has two main flaws and only two: Her citadel sits high over the water and her fire arcs suck. If you can mitigate these two weaknesses, this boat is amazing. She's been padded with all of the perks possible to compensate for these challenges. If you can't mitigate them, or you find it frustrating, Vanguard is a steaming pile of doo. "The second coming of Warspite" has such a nice ring to it. So many of us were hoping that the Royal Navy battleship line would have borrowed heavily from Warspite's game design -- namely her gun's precision, sluggish gun handling, good agility and improved heals. Instead we got a pack of flame throwers with cloaking devices and portable dry-docks. Complaining about what became of the Royal Navy battleships is so 2017, though. I had pinned my new hopes that Vanguard would be my baebote #2, echoing a lot of what made Warspite great. She almost got there which is pretty surprising. But let's not sugarcoat things -- Vanguard fell short of the mark. This isn't a tier VIII Warspite. So is Vanguard "good"? Well, yes. Yes, she is. However, there's a big ol' butt attached. She's good but she's also potentially frustrating as all get out. I've grumbled enough about her fire arcs. This is a personal pet peeve of mine, if you can't tell. This right here is what would relegated Vanguard to a port-queen for me. For others, her exposed citadel is going to be a big no-no. Why play a battleship that can get her machine spaces easily blown out when you could play something similar that doesn't have to put up with that nonsense? Her inability to overmatch select heavy cruisers will be a turn-off for others. It will keep her from being a contender in competitive play because of it. Finally, her longer AP fuse timer gives her an increased chance of overpenetrations. There's few things as heart breaking as lining up that perfect shot on a cruiser only to watch your shells sail clean through, inflicting minimal damage. One of the ways a premium ship can get in my bad books is by forcing a player to take extra steps to accomplish the same task as other vessels. Vanguard ticks this box. If Famous and HIstorical Monarch can do what Vanguard does and with less frustration, why bother picking up Vanguard? If the comparison to Monarch is bringing you pause, good. The two ships have very similar play styles with the tech tree ship being idiot-proof. I think this is perhaps the most damning thing that could be said about Vanguard: like Monarch, she's a little dull. Thankfully, Vanguard does borrow just enough from Warspite to spare her being called the second coming of the King George V that never was. I'm just not sure it's enough to redeem the ship in my eyes. Her perks are compelling, but it keeps coming back to those frustrating elements for me. I suppose that says it all right there. Know thyself. If those elements seem like turn-offs to you, then stay away. Otherwise, she'll do you no wrong. Would I Recommend? Vanguard acted as the gatekeeper to the initial offering of HMS Dreadnought. If you wanted the latter you had to also buy the former. Make sure you weigh the merits of both ships before pulling the trigger on a purchase like that. PVE Battles How well does the ship maintain profitability in Co-Op modes and how does she fare against bots? Yes. Bots are dumb. Battleships vs bots is always a good fit. Random Battle Grinding: This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements. No. You are absolutely spoiled rotten for choice when it comes to Royal Navy premium battleships. Warspite, Hood, Nelson, Duke of York and Dreadnought are all on offer. Vanguard does have the advantage of being the highest tier, and thus potentially making the most bank, but you could do almost as well for yourself in most of the others. (I can't believe I'm recommending Duke of York as a reasonable alternative...) For Competitive Gaming: Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding. No. Get yourself Massachusetts or Alabama instead. For Collectors: If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you. Yes. She's the last Royal Navy battleship ever -- built in steel and she's drop dead gorgeous. For Fun Factor: Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play? No. I didn't find her fun to play. However, that's because I'm a whiner when it comes to firing arcs. Maybe your own mileage will be different. What’s the Final Verdict? How would the ship rate on oh-so scientific, not-sarcastic at all, Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage – Meh – Gud – Overpowered? GARBAGE– I hate it! Mehbote – An average ship. Probably forgettable. Gudbote – The best thing ever. Totally not overpowered because I like padding my stats in it. OVERPOWERED – I hate playing against it! In Conclusion It's only a week late. That's unfortunately going to be the status quo going forward as I perpetually play catch-up with releases. Since Dreadnought and Vanguard were ninja-announced last week, Bourgogne has been finalized. In addition Charleston was released without any warning, so there are three new reviews in the queue. What's more, the Black Friday ships, Massachusetts, Tirpitz, Atago and Asashio are on their way out. While Tirpitz and Massachusetts' reviews are still reasonably up to date, the changes to the latter two could warrant a revisit. Given the limited access I'm going to have with Bourgogne, I'll probably be prioritizing that one as my next review unless something else comes up. Thank you all for reading. Thank you very much to everyone that supports me on Patreon for helping me produce this content.  Appendix Armour penetration data was pulled from two sites: http://proships.ru/stat/ships/ https://mustanghx.github.io/ship_ap_calculator/
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