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Found 32 results

  1. The following is a review of Brandenburg, the tier VIII premium German battleship, was sponsored by my patrons on Patreon who helped me afford this ship. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as of patch 0.11.4. Please be aware that her performance may change in the future. The purpose of this review is to support the players, not the company behind the product. Isn't Brandenburg just a better Odin? That was my initial thought when I heard Brandenburg's announcement. I appreciated that they were different animals, with Brandenburg being derived from concept work leading to the Bismarck-class. However, it's hard not to see parallels between the two. I was worried that Brandenburg would make her obsolete. Then I remembered that Odin was already obsolete upon release and stopped feeling bad. WELCOME TO MY REVIEW OF BRANDENBURG! ♫ I started this review on March 20th, 2022. I had a lot of tier VIII battleships in my backlog, so I was using Atlântico's upcoming (at the time) release this as an excuse to try and clear out some of these neglected vessels. My usual turn around time for a review is about two weeks so long as I do absolutely nothing else during that time period. Updating my tier VIII battleship database would speed up the review process for subsequent ships by a few days. With this in mind, I was certain I could get a couple out before unlocking Atlântico. Brandenburg was the first one up and I planned to queue up Borodino and Constellation afterwards. It was going to be a hellish six weeks, sure, but knocking out four reviews in that time would be so worth it, at least so long as nothing went wrong. And oh boy did things go wrong. I got immediately sidetracked by projects like: ... pointing out all of the bad copy in Wargaming's premium shop and Armory. ... working on that AA catalogue I started back in January. ... putting time in to work on some related art projects with @Chobittsu. ... continuing to play with submarine damage models and depth charge mechanics. ... surviving COVID. So ... yeah, it's been a trip. I'm terrible at planning. I set myself some outrageous goals that don't allow for any leeway should things go wrong. I then proceed to beat myself up for not being able to fold space and time itself to meet said deadlines. Before we get started... You're going to notice a slight change with some of the graphs in this review. I experimented with trying to cut down the bloat that's ever increasing in World of Warships. There are thirty-one tier VIII battleships in World of Warships presently with more on the way. Rather give everyone eye-strain trying to compare them all in individual graphics, I cut things down to the tech tree battleships plus the other German premiums. This reduces the count down from thirty-one to twelve which is a lot more manageable. Now I'm not entirely happy with this and I recognize the flaws. For one, it shapes impressions. A given premium might stack really well against the tech tree ships but still be a poor offering compared to its peers. For another, these graphics have proven to me to be a quite helpful snapshot about the meta at a given point in time. Missing data points will make that harder to track in the future. Finally, it feels like I'm wussing out. I'm sure I could make thirty-one data points fit, gosh darn it, if I just tried a little harder! Oh well, what's done is done. Just thought you all should know. Please leave me some feedback on your thoughts and ideas. PROS Dispersed, heavy armour scheme and full icebreaker bow. Thick turtleback citadel. Good gun handling. Surprising accuracy for a twelve-gun armament with 1.8 sigma. Powerful secondary battery with improved accuracy, good fire arcs, long range and 1/4 HE penetration. Good top speed of 32.5 knots and fast rate of turn. She has torpedoes! CONS Small hit point pool for a tier VIII battleship which also compromises healing. Poor anti-torpedo protection. Short ranged at 18.5km. APPALLING FIRE ANGLES. [edited] ME, THEY'RE BAD. Small calibre AP shells lack overmatch potential and penetration. Unlike most other high-tier German battleships, she lacks Hydroacoustic Search. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / CHALLENGING / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme What happens when you take a brawling battleship, give it bad guns and chain it to a small hit point pool? You get a YOLO disaster waiting to happen again and again and again. Brandenburg is a bad battleship for inexperienced players. Her guns seem trollishly designed to punish new players. Her bad AP performance and her bad fire angles force inexperienced players to flash their broadsides and get themselves killed. Without a big hit point pool, they die in a hurry. The only bit of saving grace here is that at least she comes with a German battleship protection scheme, but even that seems flawed. This thing is fast too, so it's easy to over-extend and get sent back to port for being the easiest thing to shoot at. Experienced players can do a bit of flexing with Brandenburg, showing off their in-game knowledge on where it's best to change up ammo, how to optimize her with commander skills and when and how to brawl. I'm not saying she's going to be a successful ship because of this -- Brandenburg, like a lot of 2021 ship releases, punishes players for trying to play her as designed. It's just that an expert player can get a bit more out of her. Options Nothing too surprising here, other than what's missing. Brandenburg doesn't have access to Hydroacoustic Search. Otherwise, you'll have to choose whether or not to specialize in brawling, but that's an easy choice to make. If you want to win, you'll avoid brawling. If you want to be cool, brawling is the only acceptable answer. Now, you're not some kind of sensible LOSER, are you!? Options Brandenburg's Damage Control Party is perfectly normal for most battleships. It comes with unlimited charges and an 80 second reset timer. It's active for 15 seconds. In slot two, you get a standard Repair Party for a battleship. 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 and starts with four charges. In Brandenburg's third slot, it's choice time with either a Spotter Aircraft and a Catapult Fighter. The Spotter Aircraft comes with four charges, increases her main battery range by 20% for 100s and has a 240s reset timer. Her Catapult Fighter launches 3 aircraft which stay on station, orbiting the ship at a range of 3km for 60s. It comes with three charges and has a 90s reset timer. Upgrades Let's go down the list! Start with Main Armaments Modification 1. Damage Control System Modification 1 goes into slot two. It's choice time. If you're cool, you'll take Secondary Battery Modification 1. If you're smart, you'll take Aiming Systems Modification 1 instead. You're not one of those smart people are you? Let's hope not. Damage Control System Modification 2 is the better choice at slot four. You can take Steering Gears Modification 1 if you prefer, just be aware that fires are going to hurt all the more. And because I know you're super cool, you're going to compromise your fire setting in the commander skills section in order to build for secondaries, right?2 Finally, grab Concealment System Modification 1 because Wargaming still hasn't gotten around to giving us a competitive alternative in slot five, making it a non-decision for most ships. It's just a dumb 2M credit tax at this point. Commander Skills There are obviously two commander skill builds I'll champion. The first is the basic survivability build. Memes aside, this is hands down the optimal build for Brandenburg as it emphasizes fire resistance. But that's boring. A brawling build for Brandenburg plays up to the novelties (and stereotypes) of the German battleship line. As a less than optimal build, there's a lot more leeway on what you pick and choose for your backup skills -- the idea being that you're already compromising on optimization, so you may as well just try out some fun and weird combinations. Still, the general idea is to emphasize your secondary strengths. Beyond the obvious Manual Secondary Battery Aiming and Long Range Secondary Battery Shells you want to look at grabbing either Demolition Expert or Inertial Fuse for HE Shells (or both). The latter-most skill is contentious given that it compromises the fire setting of your entire armament. It's really only worthwhile if you intend to throw Brandenburg into brawls on the regular with high-tier battleships (though it does help with high tier cruisers too, especially with amidship hits). So you may want to hold off on IFHE. Boooooring. Tasty! Camouflage Brandenburg was sold with two camouflage options, Type 10 and German Eagle. They provide identical bonuses of: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -10% to post-battle service costs. +50% to experience gains. This is the only screenshot I took of Brandenburg's German Eagle camouflage and it's terrible (the screenshot, not the camouflage). The camo was only available in a bundle when the ship was initially sold and I have not seen it made available since. I didn't pick it up at the time and it seems I've missed out. Brandenburg's base Type 10 camouflage is a striking black, white and grey. It's quite handsome. I am not a fan of the alternative palette for her Type 10 camouflage. You can unlock this via completing portions of the German Navy Collection under your Profile tab. Firepower Main Battery: Twelve 305mm/56 guns in in 4x3 turrets with an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration Secondary Battery: Twelve 150mm/55 guns in 6x2 turrets and twenty 105mm/65 guns in 10x2 turrets. The large calibre guns are set on the main deck with the 105mm guns superfiring on one deck higher. The secondaries are divided evenly down each side. Torpedoes: Eight tubes in 2x4 launchers mounted behind the funnel on either side of the ship. Brandenburg has crappy guns, but she gets a lot of them and they're reasonably accurate. Gun Calibre, Penetration & Reload Time Brandenburg has small calibre guns for a high-tier battleship. Her 305mm weapons are the same as those found on Odin. For 305mm guns, her shells have good ballistics and penetration, but that's only for a 305mm gun. You're not contesting battleship belt armour at battleship engagement distances with her AP rounds, for example. You're also missing out on overmatching anything greater than 19mm with her AP rounds. Her individual hits aren't particularly powerful and her HE shells suffer from the usual German affliction of dealing less damage per hit than similar shells of their calibre. It's the quantity of shot that's supposed to make up for all of this, but even here, Wargaming pulled their punches. This is a recycled graphic pulled from my Odin review. Odin and Brandenburg have identical AP penetration performance. These numbers are approximate and pulled from wowsft.com. Brandenburg's AP penetration isn't great. She largely loses the ability to contest battleship belt armour outside of 12km if there's even a bit of angling going on. You want to throw AP shells as much as possible with Brandenburg, even against soft targets. Unlike other nations, her anemic HE shell damage is so much lower than her AP shells that they're only competitive when her HE is guaranteed to deal full penetrating damage. If a target has been partially saturated, her overpenetrating AP rounds will put out more hurt. This limits the optimal use of HE rounds to the following situations: (1) Against targets you cannot hurt at all with AP. (2) You're trying to start fires. Even against submarines at periscope depth, Brandenburg's AP will deal more damage. The only catch here is that Brandenburg's AP shells just don't have the bite needed to work against heavy armour. So you're forced to HE and suck up the damage disparity. Allow me to elaborate. For the longest time, I have held that 30 seconds is the standard reload time of battleship guns. This isn't necessarily true, but it's been an unspoken standard for a number years. So much so, that you could safely predict that any new battleship being added to the game would have it. Wargaming has begun to deviate from this standard. This largely began with the Soviet battleship line. Where once the odd ship with a weird reload added a little variety to a tech tree line, we're seeing slow or faster reloads defining and entire swathe of releases. Still, I find myself trained to look for a 30 second reload on any new battleship Wargaming adds. When the number is greater or lesser, it shapes my perception of its intended performance. For ships to match the 30 second reload output with a smaller armament (be it number of guns or smaller in calibre), I expect to see a faster reload. If an armament is especially large or hard hitting, then I expect to see a slower. So let's look at where Brandenburg's armament and reload sits: 22.5 seconds - Zieten with 3x2 406mm 23.0 seconds - Odin with 3x3 305mm 25.0 seconds - Famous & Historical Monarch with 3x3 381mm, Vanguard with 4x2 381mm 26.0 seconds - Bismarck & Tirpitz with 4x2 380mm 26.5 seconds - Brandenburg with 4x3 305mm 28.0 seconds - Gascogne with 2x4 380mm 28.6 seconds - Chamapgne with 2x3 406mm 30.0 seconds - Amagi & Kii with 5x2 410mm, North Carolina, Alabama & Massachusetts with 3x3 406mm, Constellation with 4x2 406mm, Richelieu with 2x4 380mm, Roma & AL Littorio with 3x3 381mm and Atlântico with 5x2 381mm 31.0 seconds - Borodino with 2x3 406mm 33.0 seconds - Ignis Purgatio & Ragnarok with 5x2 410mm, Vladivostok & Lenin with 3x3 406mm, Flandre with 3x3 380mm 34.0 seconds - Vittorio Veneto with 3x3 381mm 40.0 seconds - Kansas with 4x3 406mm This looks reasonably competitive, at least until you account for all of the flaws with her shells. I'm still balking that they didn't give Odin the same 20 second reload as Scharnhorst and Brandenburg's 26.5 second reload feels like more of the same mistreatment. Brandenburg isn't a particularly hard-hitting ship. Or rather, her guns just don't scale well against higher tiered targets and other battleships. Overall, her 26.5 second reload time isn't a flaw, per se, but it's not a strength either. It seems carefully measured to ensure she's reliant upon her other weapon systems. More on that later. Brandenburg's potential AP DPM looks great. But this doesn't account for the woes of dispersion, penetration, firing angles, auto-ricochet checks, etc. The POTENTIAL is there, sure, provided you've got an opponent willing to make things easy for you. Short of picking on lower-tiered cruisers or inside of brawling scenarios, the potential is difficult to realize. Like most German battleships, her HE shell DPM falls off the rails. I'd like to make a big deal about her improved HE penetration but Brandenburg's 76mm penetration just isn't impressive when compared to the 68mm being tossed around by most of the American, Soviet and Japanese battleships at this tier. So yeah, Brandenburg has good HE penetration for a 305mm armed battleship but that's only for a 305mm armed battleship. When stacked against the 406mm guns or the 1/4 HE penetrating 380mm/381mm guns from the Royal Navy and other German ships (and nevermind the Italian SAP shells), Brandenburg's HE looks crappy. It would be a struggle to call any of the tier VIII battleships "good" fire starters. King George V is pretty much the gold-standard of this for mid-tier battleships and she comes out just shy of 10 fires per minute before you account for things like accuracy (cut that number down to a third) and fire resistance (reduce it again to two thirds its initial value). Once reality sets in, you're looking at about two to three fires per minute for KGV. Apply the same approximates to Brandenburg and you come out at nearly two. This is probably the most reliable way for her to attempt to stack damage against enemy battleships. But unlike the British, don't expect a whole lot of direct damage to accompany Brandenburg's HE spam. There are tricks to make these guns work. HE spam is one such way. Your direct damage numbers will suffer, sure, but they won't suffer as badly if you simply stuck to AP rounds the whole time. You can try the whole "aim higher" with AP, hoping to bullseye the upper hull and superstructure of enemy battleships at range, but dispersion will troll you outside of near brawling ranges, so that's not entirely reliable. Brandenburg's guns are just not fun to use and you have to overcompensate a whole heck of a lot to get those numbers to stack. Gun Handling & Accuracy While Brandenburg's reload time is only ever going to be decent, her accuracy isn't as bad as I was expecting for a twelve-gun armed ship. 1.8 sigma isn't terrible. In fact, for a ship with as many guns as she has, it's higher than I thought it would be. Coupled with American battleship dispersion and a twelve-gun broadside, she isn't as likely to get trolled by RNG(eebus) as ships with fewer guns or worse sigma. This ultimately comes down to feels -- Brandenburg's salvos feel reasonably accurate even if their dispersion describes her as being only average. It's rare that a well aimed shot isn't going to yield at least a handful of hits. Brandenburg is good at putting warheads on foreheads at least so long as you ensure that all twelve guns are firing. And this is the other issue -- getting all of those guns firing. And maybe this helps explain some of my gripes with her reload. Brandenburg's arcs are HORRIBLE. For those unaware, I have a bias against crappy firing angles. Outside of PVE situations, Brandenburg when she fires all twelve of her guns. She's unable to angle correctly against return fire while doing so, which opens her up to taking some pretty bad hits in return. As you'll see in the Durability section, Brandenburg doesn't have a lot of hit points and she cannot afford to trade them away for the modest returns another six guns bring. Without a fast(er) reload on her guns and without good firing angles, her DPM suffers appreciably. So that paper DPM value shown before falls even further into the toilet. One of my standard dispersion tests. This is 180 AP shells fired at 15km at a stationary Fuso bot. Brandenburg is using Aiming System Modification 1, while the Fuso is completely stock and without camo. Shots are coming in from right to left with the Fuso effectively bow tanking. At 1.8 sigma and German dispersion, Brandenburg's gunnery feels "average", at least until you remember she has twelve guns and a quick(ish) reload. Volume of fire lends a sense of accuracy all on its own and Brandenburg ends up feeling more accurate than she actually is, even with a full secondary build. The HORROR. Main Battery Gun Summary Brandenburg has crappy guns, but she gets a lot of them and they're reasonably accurate. I wish I could say she had good fire angles or that they reloaded fast enough for that not to matter, but they don't. I found these guns to be incredibly frustrating to use, especially when facing same tier or higher opponents. The AP doesn't hit hard enough. And even when you do land some good hits that don't ricochet or shatter, they just don't do enough damage. Every time I reached for HE, it felt like I was giving up and begging for fires that usually didn't come. Brandenburg's gunnery takes a long time to stack appreciable damage. Brawling battleships are cool It's a good thing she's a brawler. She's designed to supplement her damage by creeping into secondary range (where possible) and spraying enemy ships down with a torrent of cruiser and destroyer-calibre HE. Up close, the deficiencies of her 305mm AP penetration falls away too and they become a lot more threatening. She's fully capable of blowing out the machine spaces of any enemy battleship with a vulnerable citadel and her twelve gun broadside ensures that it will hurt. The threat of her torpedoes makes even other heavy weight brawlers take notice. This is where she belongs. This is where she demands respect. And for a German battleship, her secondaries are contenders for the best out of all of them with better firing angles and more DPM and FPM than most. Combined with improved German secondary accuracy, 1/4 HE penetration and more guns than other German battleships, Brandenburg has some of the best brawling armaments at her tier. Check it out: Some notes to keep in mind: Massachusetts, Atlântico and Brandenburg have the same DPM when brawling, kiting or firing broadside. Zieten has the same DPM when brawling or kiting. Before you get too excited and run out and buy a Flandre or Kii, I remind you that DPM charts are not the be-all, end all. The majority of Flandre's damage comes from 100mm secondaries that only have 17mm of penetration and no improved accuracy (Gascogne has this same problem). A lack of improved accuracy also plagues Kii on top of having only a range that caps out at just shy of 10km with all buffs. Brandenburg combines good range, good penetration and good potential damage on top of solid firing arcs. She's the total package. The only thing we could ask for more would be a further improvement on her already improved "German" secondary accuracy or upgrading her 105mm to 128mm like Odin so that she can pen battleships without needing IFHE. Spreadsheets are not cool So Brandenburg has better secondaries than the other tier VIII German battleships, right? That's what the numbers say? Good, cuz I couldn't tell. Seriously, this is one of those cases where my notes on how a ship felt to play did not reflect the data I collected afterwards. I should explain -- my process for writing these reviews is to play the ship, take notes while doing so and then as questions come up, look at the ship's stats to try and understand where the feels are coming from. At no point in my play testing of Brandenburg did her secondaries stand out in any appreciable way from other German battleships I've played. I seriously thought her secondaries were bog-standard for a German brawler. It was only as I put together the graphics for this section that I said "wait, hold up" -- she has more DPM and better fire angles? Huh! So why didn't it come up? You'd think counting an extra pair of 105mm would have tipped me off. While I was conscious of them, they weren't anything to get terribly excited about. I liken it to the extra 100m Odin has on her secondary range. It's nice but it's not game changing. It was the same case for her firing angles. They're good, sure, and better than most of the other German battleships. But there's still that ugly deadzone straight ahead. Ultimately, this blasé attitude says a lot about how situational brawling is. In PVP, good brawls are so uncommon that they're an event when they finally happen. Thus, it's hard to get a good sense of value out of a secondary armament. This goes double when you've invested in them so heavily between skills, upgrades and consumables. And this is what it came down to: Brandenburg's secondaries didn't feel appreciably better than those of Tirpitz or Odin. So it was hard to care about them when the awesome experiences just didn't happen. So yeah, Brandenburg has good secondaries. But as far as I'm concerned, that trait is shared by all other German battleships so it's not a stand-out feature, so don't look at me singing Brandenburg's praises for her secondary potential as a selling feature of this ship over other German premiums. They all perform very much alike in this regard -- their potential is there, but it's so terribly situational. The pain and suffering that went into making this. Brandenburg was originally launched with bugged, asymmetrical secondary arcs on her forward-most 105mm guns. Those on her starboard side could fire up to 20º off her stern while the port side could only fire 30º off her stern. I've highlighted this difference with the two arrows in the graphic above. This was corrected with patch 0.11.4 with her port side now mirroring her starboard side (they can both shoot 20º off her stern now). Brandenburg's secondary arcs are okay. They're not great. At least she can bring all of her weapons the bear 30º off either her bow or stern, so you can use those to help ensure you're auto-ricochet safe in a brawl. I was going to ramble on about her torpedoes, but I think I can just summarize them here. Brandenburg's fish are short ranged but pack a comfortable punch, perfect for delivering a crippling blow in a brawl. The four she launches per side will not guarantee a kill on an enemy battleship unless they're already mauled, so keep that in mind. Her fire arcs are decent, able to launch 30º off her bow and just over that off her stern for a total of a 119º firing arc per side. Like other German battleships, her torpedoes are pretty fragile and have a habit of getting destroyed if she takes a lot of HE fire, so make sure they're still operable before committing to a joust. Summary Brandenburg may have crappy guns but she has good secondaries backed by short-range torpedoes. Firepower wise, she sucks if you can't get her into a brawl. If you can, Brandenburg's numbers jump tremendously. While you can all but guarantee this each and every time you take her out to a Co-Op battle, it's harder to ensure in PVP. I don't rate Brandenburg's firepower very highly. It's alright. When the stars align, it can be good. But you're setting yourself up for disappointment in PVP outside of those rare games where your enemies make the mistake of letting you brawl. VERDICT: Situational. Unreliable. Inconsistent. Durability Hit Points: 58,800 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 32mm / 19mm / 145mm / 50mm to 80mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 350mm belt plus 110mm to 120mm turtleback plus 45mm citadel wall Torpedo Damage Reduction: 23% Third from the bottom. A German juggernaut Brandenburg is not. Remember how players made a big stink about Odin's lack of health? Well, if you weren't around at the time, Odin was largely panned by the community for her tiny (52,800) hit point pool. Brandenburg has just 6,000 more. That's not a lot. That's like two more penetrating hits from battleship AP, and given Brandenburg's crappy fire angles, those penetrating hits are coming sooner rather than later. Brandenburg's hit point pool would be dead average for a tier VII battleship. And that's bad. That's very bad. Thus, Brandenburg suffers a lot of the same problems as Odin -- namely, not having enough HP left over to successful brawl when the opportunity finally arises in the mid to late game. Brawls always cost HP. Brawls can cost a lot of HP. And if you've already bled a lot of your initial health, it can be hella disheartening to not have the staying power to actually enjoy a good scrap. What might have been a game winning situation is now just a spiteful act of defiance before you're sent back to port. Even setting brawling aside, with the teething problems of her main battery guns, Brandenburg is just plain bad at trading. She doesn't have the health to spare to exchange body blows. This is partially mitigated by what appears to be a traditional German battleship protection scheme. Brandenburg has dispersed armour, including a full length 60mm icebreaker bow, thick upper hull and deck armour that will troll most HE (and some SAP!) thrown her way. This just leaves her (admittedly huge) superstructure and the tiniest portions of her bow and stern vulnerable and makes her largely proof against AP shells when angled. As for her citadel? I have ... mixed feelings... about Brandenburg's citadel protection. It's geometry is weird. It comes to a narrow point towards the bow. This creates some odd angles reminiscent of Yamato's octagonal citadel -- Brandenburg has similar "cheeks" that can theoretically yield citadel hits even when the ship is angled. Now, ostensibly, her turtleback should mitigate this. Unfortunately, I took a massive double-citadel hit early on when testing Brandenburg. Granted, these came from long range fire and double-granted, it was my fault for flashing that much side in the first place (gawd, I hate her firing angles). But given the tiers at which Brandenburg operates, most of what's going to be thrown at you from other battleships will be at long range so I got incredibly gun-shy after this. I couldn't play Brandenburg with the same confidence I could with other German premiums. I fully accept that this could have been an exception; an anecdote that biased me towards keeping a sharp eye out for repeat occurrences in a way I might not have otherwise fussed over. But it's definitely coloured my experiences. I'm aware that the odd citadel hit can (and do) happen with other German battleships so I dunno why this one shook me up as much as it did. I blame her fire angles. I'm always going to scapegoat her fire angles. Brandenburg feels squishy for a German battleship and I don't like that. Brandenburg has a dispersed armour scheme and odd citadel geometry I'm still torn if the latter is a blessing or curse.. Her citadel's 180mm tip is very thin. Combined with her icebreaker bow, this ship is incredibly difficult to citadel directly from the front when perfectly nosed in. However, that same tapering tip does make her more vulnerable when angled, in a similar manner to Yamato's infamous "cheeks" (though nowhere near to that extreme). Losing 25,000 health in a single salvo and these aren't even citadel hits. VERDICT: Squishier than her pedigree would otherwise suggest. Agility Top Speed: 32.5 knots Turning Radius: 820 meters Rudder Shift Time: 15.7 seconds 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 4.6º/s at 24.3kts Main Battery Traverse Rate: 6.0º/s Brandenburg (8) joins the SoDak-twins (2), Constellation (10) and Champagne (12) as one of the best turning ships at this tier. This is largely thanks to her high top speed. Brandenburg has a great top speed, a decent (but not good) turning circle radius and a rudder shift time on the poor side of average. These latter traits obfuscate what is, in fact, a quite agile vessel as far as battleships go. Speed corrects a lot of issues with agility, especially when they're only held back by "average" values elsewhere. Brandenburg's good top speed and modest turning circle radius translates to one of the best rates of turn for not only the tier VIII battleships, but most battleships in the game. Let's talk more about speed. It is a tremendous advantage. Not only does it allow you to get where you need to be faster, a greater range of speed makes it harder for opponents to properly guess your ship's momentum and lead appropriately. It also allows for a greater degree of control while kiting opponents which is arguably one of the most effective solo damage-farming techniques in the game. Being able to control engagement distances is a duel-winning strategy (though not necessarily a match winning one). In one game I managed to run down not one but two destroyers that strayed too close. Despite fleeing after being lit, they were unable to open up enough distance to get themselves out of spotting range before my secondaries chewed them to bits. Brandenburg's speed ostensibly makes it easier for her to commit to a brawl and use her secondaries and torpedoes, though there's a catch here. While speed is powerful, it can also be dangerous. If you're not careful, you can find yourself over-extending and making yourself an easy target for enemy focus fire. It's important to temper Brandenburg's potential with caution. She doesn't have a lot of health and it doesn't last long under concerted enemy attention. Mind that throttle. Vary your course and speed and beware blind corners. Please keep in mind that I'm comparing Brandenburg's agility to other tier VIII battleships and battleships as a whole. Brandenburg's handling still sucks compared to a cruiser. She does not compare well to Warspite's handling either. You're not going to be able to juke incoming fire or easily thread the needle and dance to torpedo beats. Finally, you can forget about Just Dodging™ air strikes. Still, Brandenburg's handling is very comfy. Good marks here. VERDICT: One of the best at her tier. Under attack from a Kagero and an Asashio. It's a losing battle from the start, but Brandenburg's agility at least frustrated the two destroyers, completely avoiding four salvos before finally being taken down by a fifth. Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: 6 + 2 explosions for 1,400 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.2km. Long Ranged (up to 5.2km): 192.5 dps at 75% accuracy (144dps) Medium Ranged (up to 3.0km): 511dps at 70% accuracy (358dps) DPS Aura Ranges Total DPS by Range Effective Damage vs 186.2knot Aircraft Alright, let me try and talk about this without being snarky or going on a huge rant. Some facts: Brandenburg's large calibre AA is short ranged at only 5.2km. Brandenburg has the best AA values among all of the tier VIII German battleships. In terms of effective sustained AA DPS, Brandenburg sits just behind Kansas and slightly ahead of Kii, putting her solidly in the upper third for sustained damage output among tier VIII battleships. She generates a lot of flak for a tier VIII battleship, though not enough to make her stand out. The individual hits from her flak are fairly average for a tier VIII battleship. Because of her short main battery gun range, she is unlikely to be using a Catapult Fighter over her Spotter Aircraft. She does not have access to Defensive AA Fire, not no tier VIII battleship has that presently. Where my snark and rants will stem comes from the fact that as good as this all looks on paper, it's not enough to keep her safe. A hale and whole Brandenburg is an inconvenient target for tier VI carriers as the attrition rates will erode their hangar capacity eventually. Against higher tiered carriers, short of them obliging you by faceplanting into flak bursts repeatedly, Brandenburg cannot inflict casualties quickly enough to compromise their hangar capacity, never mind stop individual strikes. Her presence will not dissuade a CV on her own and owing to her short range, she is not a particularly good asset to help protect others. As such, when she is not top tier, she is a ready victim to air attack. She might pad her experience and credits earned with some air kills, but you cannot trust Brandenburg's AA defences to do anything to protect the ship in the current meta. And that's really all AA is for as far as surface ships are concerned: printing credits and xp in compensation for letting CVs have their way with you. VERDICT: Brandenburg is better at squeezing out rewards for being [edited]-slapped by aircraft than most at her tier. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 16.2km / 12.73km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 11.22km / 9.09km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 12.78km Maximum Firing Range: 18.46km Hydroacoustic Search. Bismarck has it. Odin has it. Zieten has it. Tirpitz (and her clone) does not. Neither does Brandenburg. This consumable has increased value as Wargaming works towards completing submarines in World of Warships. This comes not only for the ability to spot incoming torpedoes but also for detecting submarines that might be lurking nearby. German secondaries are excellent anti-submarine weapons provided their target is spotted and can be shot at. The general inaccuracy of these weapons isn't nearly as much of a problem as it is against destroyers when shells only have to land nearby to score damage. Thus lacking a Hydroacoustic Search is notable. As far as surface detection goes, Brandenburg's alright. She just barely manages to squeak into the top third within her matchmaking with her concealment. It's neither a tremendous help nor a significant hindrance. It's comfortable enough to be a non issue for most game play though you'll be hard pressed to turn it into a reliable advantage. Given her relative fragility compared to other German battleships, I would have preferred her to be a bit more sneaky, but as it is, her concealment is workable. I feel her lack of a Hydroacoustic Search more than whatever is going on with her surface detection. If I've counted, calculated and transcribed everything correctly (and I'm almost certain I have not), Brandenburg sits tied for 39th out of 110 battleships within her current matchmaking. This is sorted by columns, so 1-37 in the first column, then 38 to 75 in the second, 76 to 110 in the third column. VERDICT: Meh. Anti-Submarine Warfare ASW Armament Type: Airstrike from 0.5km to 10km (plus part of the bomb drop column) Number of Salvos: 2 Reload Time: 30 seconds Aircraft: Two Blohm & Voss BV 138C with 2,000hp each Drop Pattern: 3 bombs each dropped evenly over 1.1km column Maximum Bomb Damage: 2,800 Fire Chance: 21% Bomb Blast Radius: 300m Submarine game play is still ever changing. This section largely serves as a snapshot of how ASW worked at the time this article was published. No doubt further changes will occur before submarines get finalized. That said, Brandenburg and tier VIII German battleships in general have the best anti-submarine warfare load-out of their peers presently. Bismarck, Zieten and Odin sit at the top of the pile, combining the best air-dropped depth charges with great secondaries and Hydroacoustic Search to mitigate the influence submarines have on their game play. Brandenburg and Tirpitz have to make do without the consumable to spot fish and occasionally help sniff out subs. Now this doesn't make any of the German battleships good submarine hunters by any means -- it just means they're the best equipped battleships at their tier to fight back against submarines should they be called upon to do it. I've spent some time mapping out depth charge pattersn -- both from ships and aircraft and I'll probably publish an article a little later showing the coverage at a particular tier. VERDICT: She has the best battleship launched air strike at her tier combined with good secondaries. U-190 got too close to Brandenburg and pays the price. Final Evaluation I like Odin better than Brandenburg and I like Scharnhorst better than Odin. I think that sums up my feels about these "large cruiser" armed battleships. Short of dusting off snowflakes or whatever I'm required to test in the future, I'm not taking Brandenburg out. I don't like her guns. That's really all there is to it. Why would I want to play a ship where my primary way of interacting in the game is such a miserable experience? I mean it's a doubled-stacked turd sandwich with bad gun performance and bad fire angles. Blech. Brandenburg is just Odin-Two. The biggest difference between them is that Odin has Hydroacoustic Search and Brandenburg has more guns. There are other differences than that obviously. Brandenburg has more guns, more secondaries with better firing arcs but worse penetration. Brandenburg is faster and has better AA power and just enough more HP to fool you into thinking she might be a better experience overall. Odin is more stealthy and her guns fire faster and with much more comfortable gun laying. So pick your poison. I'm not convinced either ship is worthwhile. My honeymoon period with Odin has long since past -- as I feared in my review of her years ago, once her torpedoes became common knowledge and players became more familiar with her gimmicks, success became increasingly volatile. That volatility is alive and well with Brandenburg's game play too. It's that same feast-or-famine that so many brawling battleships struggle. It's hard to appreciate a vessel whose fortunes are so closely tied not only to what tiers matchmaker places you in but what kinds of ship you end up facing. The presence of a single carrier or a glut of torpedo boats or a brace of submarines and Brandenburg faces an uphill battle. And like most tier VIII premium battleships, facing tier Xs is never comfortable. Still, if you can manage to get her into brawls and win those scraps, her performance is fantastic. How frequently you can make that happen will dictate your success in this ship. If you can't tell, I couldn't make that happen often enough to put a smile on my face. So no thank you, Mister Brandenburg, you are not the ship for me. Of course, all of these complaints apply only to PVP game modes. In Co-Op, Brandenburg is a thug. Her guns still suck butts in there, unable to overmatch as the bots suicide charge, but at least her secondaries and fish can rip them open and help pad her numbers. Brawling in that game mode is guaranteed, so her success is all but guaranteed. Still, if you're going to buy a tier VIII German premium battleship, just buy Tirpitz. In Conclusion This one ballooned out of control. I spent way too much time fussing over getting a better understanding of AA and ASW mechanics that sidetracked me down several week-long exploratory tangents. I mean, I'm happy that I understand ASW and AA much better than I did at the onset and it's nice to be able to put into context how Brandenburg (and other future ships) will slot into this developing meta. But stack on some other projects and RL issues and the content drought really bugged me. I dunno which ship I'm going to review after this. I'm kind of "battleshippped out" at the moment. Maybe I'll poke Maya. We'll see. Speaking of other projects, you may have noticed that I changed avatars in my graphics. @Chobittsu did a wonderful job putting together this cute Fantasy Dwarf ship's captain per my request. Animating a bouncy version of her as a forum avatar is one of many things on my to-do list. Thank you all for reading and thank you so much for your continued support. ♥
  2. San Diego received a set of announced changes this morning in the devblog. Let's look at them and put them into context on top of the information gleaned from the Test Server. Changes to Survivability I'm going to start with durability. San Diego receives a Repair Party consumable. While this will be welcome to some players, I am disappointed. The presence of any kind of healing gimmick onto a ship (be it the raw addition of a Repair Party consumable or the upgrading of an existing one) usually signals that Wargaming is dead-set on throttling the offensive potential of a given ship and we'll see this here. The Repair Party that Wargaming gave her appears slightly improved, though not unprecedented upon cruisers. It still heals back 14% of her health over 28 seconds as a normal consumable would, but she heals back 50% of citadel damage instead of 33% or 10% for many other cruisers. So that's nice. In terms of effective health, this is how tier VIII cruisers now rank up with the India Delta signal and Superintendent (but not Survivability Expert which you would be encouraged to take on this ship). I caution that "effective health" looks more competitive than it is. It will not protect you from Devastating Strikes to your citadel, for example -- San Diego is never going to have more than 31,900 hit points in her hit point pool at any point in time. It's also hard to use her a Repair Party to perfect efficiency. In practical terms, she's more likely to around 40,000 effective health in a particularly gruelling match. This is definitely an improvement, but it's important to understand that this does not make her durable. She's still stuck with her 16mm plating, for example. And if you cannot disengage when things get rough, she will fall apart quickly. Frankly, I would rather they got rid of this consumable in favour of the choice between Surveillance Radar and a Smoke Generator. Changes to AA Firepower Would you look at that? A modified Defensive AA Fire consumable. There's a few those hanging around, but Wargaming has been super cautious about doing anything worthwhile with this consumable since the CV rework back in January of 2019. There are effectively three levels of DFAA out there: The standard +50% continuous damage. Stalingrad's +25% continuous damage. The +100% continuous damage for some American destroyers. Toss on some minor differences in active time, reset timers and the base number of charges and that about sums up how adventurous Wargaming has been. So San Diego is slated to get the American tech-tree destroyer damage bonus on top of a reduced reset timer. What does that mean? Glad you asked. We'll use my fictional 186.2 knot target dummies and recalculate San DIego's theoretical damage output versus this easy (albeit quick) target: Total Damage Stock: ~2,683 Total Damage Old DFAA: ~4,040 Total Damage New DFAA: ~5,366 To put this into perspective, with DFAA active, this gives her more damage than Iowa or Missouri. Here's how she stacks up with the other tier VIII cruisers with their DFAA active, if available. It's important to keep in mind, though, that not all of these ships will have DFAA, as they usually have to choose between that and Hydroacoustic Search (and let's face it, the current DFAA is kinda trash). I've marked those with permanent access with a blue asterisk. Generally speaking, this is a change for the better, though it doesn't bring San Diego up to god-tier levels of AA. The Test Server showed that she doesn't have unlimited charges of her Defensive AA Fire consumable, for instance. She has four charges base like most other American cruisers. They've also nerfed her action time down to 30 seconds, though I'm less bothered by that given that DFAA usually lasts longer than an enemy CV tends to loiter. It's good to see Wargaming make these changes, but they could go further if they had the courage and conviction to do it. C'mon, WG. You can do it. Unlock Sandy's AA potential. Don't be shy. You know this is entirely situational and it won't break your precious carriers. Give us a reason to spec AA again. You're almost there. Changes to Gunnery Alright, here's the big one. The Test Serve revealed that San Diego does NOT have Austin's Main Battery Reload Booster with it's 75% reduction to reload times, but instead the 50% reduction. So that means that Wargaming fully intended to sell us a tier VIII Atlanta that couldn't match the tier VII Atlanta's damage per minute. Here's the old numbers again, but this time corrected with the right MBRB stats (it was assumed her MBRB had a 15 second duration instead of the 25 she had in the first round of testing): ATLANTA Damage per Minute Altanta AP DPM: 367,500 Atlanta HE DPM: 315,000 Base FPM: 8.75 SAN DIEGO (Old) Damage per Minute with 8.5 second reload San Diego SAP DPM: 266,824 San Diego HE DPM: 177,882 Base FPM: 4.94 SAN DIEGO (Old) with MBRB +50% Damage per Minute for 25 of 60 seconds San Diego SAP DPM: 378,000 San Diego HE DPM: 252,000 San Diego FPM: 7.00 Yikes. Well, the good news is that they've changed up a lot here. Let's look at the new numbers. We'll keep Atlanta along for the ride so we have a good baseline appreciation of what San Diego is trying to compete against: ATLANTA Damage per Minute Altanta AP DPM: 367,500 Atlanta HE DPM: 315,000 Base FPM: 8.75 SAN DIEGO (new) Damage per Minute with 5 second reload San Diego AP DPM: 352,800 San Diego SAP DPM: 403,200 Base FPM: Zilch. Theoretical FPM if she had her old HE: 8.4 SAN DIEGO (new) with MBRB +50% Damage per Minute for 15 of 60 seconds San Diego AP DPM: 441,000 San Diego SAP DPM: 504,000 Base FPM: Nadda. Theoretical FPM if she had her old HE: 10.5 On individual changes: Reload: Dropping San Diego from an 8.5 second reload to 5.0 seconds is welcome. It's not 4.8 seconds, but Atlanta doesn't have a Repair Party or Main Battery Reload Booster (I'll touch on those again later). So thank you for this change, Wargaming. It's not my ideal solution, but it's a step in the right direction. AP Ammunition: The addition of AP ammunition is welcome. Kinda. AP has a bit of a niche role with Atlanta's gunnery, typically being used as a damage boost over HE rounds when broadsides are offered or to deal direct damage to cruisers and some soft-skinned battleships when fires are already burning. It also comes up in knife fights to blow out citadels. The catch here is that San Diego's SAP overlaps some of this, making the addition of AP less pertinent. HE Ammunition: The loss of HE ammunition sucks. A lot. It's a go-to ammunition choice for bullying destroyers and it's nice for being able to stack DoTs and break modules. San Diego could have been a nice, but not overly competitive fire starter. To put this in perspective, Irian and Mikhail Kutuzov can set 10.8 fires per minute and Cleveland sets 13.3, so don't tell me that San Diego's 8.4 to 10.5 values are too high. SAP Ammunition: San Diego's SAP got nerfed, losing out on its earlier 2,700 damage to be dropped down to 2,400. Datamining has shown that these shells presently have a 65º to 75º ricochet threshold which is alright, but not ideal. The nerfs here are to account for her new reload, obviously. MBRB: I don't like San Diego's Main Battery Reload Booster. It's obviously causing balancing issues. Wargaming is already nerfing it, losing out on unlimited charges and reducing its active time. It's presence is also making WG shy away from giving San Diego a competitive base reload along with prompting wonky ammunition choices. Ballistics: We did learn that San Diego has improved ballistics over Atlanta, which will make her gunnery more comfortable over distance. This wasn't announced here but rather demonstrated through datamining. Her shells have a lower air-drag coefficient of 0.27 compared to Atlanta's 0.347, though they retain the same initial muzzle velocity of 792m/s. Her shells are also 0.5kg heavier. Exactly how this translates to ballistics numbers is outside of my wheelhouse, but it should bump up the effective range where her guns can be comfortably used by a kilometre or so at my best guess. Mouse's Thoughts Why are Wargaming still trying to shove the Tier VIII Austin premise down our throats? They're already (severely) compromising the premise, giving us a milquetoast ship as a result. Rip the band-aid off, Wargaming. Scrap the Austin premise. It's not needed (imo). It's not wanted (by me). It's a bad design (so says I). I don't want a tier VIII Austin. I want a tier VIII Atlanta/Flint. I want to molest higher-tiered lolibotes. I want to relive the glory days of AA-interdiction if at all possible. I want a ship capable of providing team play, not this selfish abomination. Remove the Main Battery Reload Booster. Get rid of it. It's clearly causing some consternation, making you do weird choices for ammo, consumable active times and the number of charges. It's not a compelling choice, so get rid of it. Remove SAP. Just give us AP and HE shells. If you want to do something weird with ammo, just make the AP have improved auto-ricochet angles (60º to 67.5º). Not only is this competitive, it's within the American-cruiser themes. On top of this, it allows both ammunition types to be used, prompting a variety of game play options. SAP overlaps too much with the other ammo types at this calibre, while simultaneously not covering all of the bases needed. Push her rate of fire. You've gotten rid of MBRB, now buff her rate of fire to compensate. You don't have to go too far her. It should just be oh-so slightly better than Atlanta's. Note, if you've improved her AP ammo, you might not even need to do anything here. Push her AA power. The change to her DFAA consumable is good. Now push it further. Do something daring with the consumable. Maybe bump it up to +200% damage, but with a short active time of only 15 seconds. Maybe it adds two more flak explosions when active. Maybe it (gasp!) slows down planes or increases the time it takes to aim. There's lots of ideas you could play with here, so surprise and delight us. The 100% damage buff was nice, but you haven't even given us unlimited charges like her sisters. Surveillance Radar and/or Smoke Generator. You're not going to sell me that San Diego is a better Atlanta-class without this. At a minimum, give her Atlanta's Surveillance Radar (7.5km 8.5km range) consumable. Better still, slap on both Flint's Smoke Generator and Atlanta's Surveillance Radar into the same slot and make players choose between them. I will happily surrender her Repair Party for this (which I think is a bad addition). I could go on. I haven't addressed her crappy torpedoes, her 16mm extremities, her still (unnecessarily) nerfed concealment, but that's enough for now. This design of San Diego still makes her the worst of the premium ships in this class, and there's no point buying this over Flint or Atlanta if it goes to market like this. Watashi wa numba three. Mouse out.
  3. The following review of Marlborough, the tier IX premium British battleship, was sponsored by my patrons on Patreon who helped me afford this ship. Yes, I whaled for this damn thing. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as patch 0.10.11. Please be aware that her performance may change in the future. Wargaming has gone out of their way to actively sabotage anything redeeming about Marlborough. I would like to say that this is the kind of design I would have cooked up if I was actively trying to troll the community, but I have to be honest with myself: I am not capable of coming up with something this frustrating to play. Marlborough's sins are many, though the base premise is one that is very appealing: Lots of guns big guns firing very quickly. It's a testament to how badly the ship is built that this core design gets mangled so thoroughly. Quick Summary: A tier IX battleship with an enormous battery of sixteen, quick-firing 356mm guns. She has poor fire arcs, poor gun handling, anemic AP and HE shell performance, horrid accuracy and bad armour. PROS Enormous battery of sixteen 356mm guns with ridiculous DPM potential and fire setting. HE shells have 89mm of penetration. Solid top speed of 31.5 knots. Good concealment with a surface detection as low as 12.07km. CONS Horrible citadel placement and protection. Highly vulnerable to HE spam with her homogenous 32mm structural plate. Poor anti-torpedo defence. Some of the worst battleship sigma in the game at 1.4. Only modest range. Awful fire arcs and poor gun handling. Terrible shells with anemic individual performance across AP penetration, HE damage and fire chance. Slow rudder shift time. Unlike other British battleships, her Repair Party only queues 50% of penetration damage. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / CHALLENGING / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme Marlborough punishes players. If you try and use her as designed, you'll end up back in port very quickly. Her horrible citadel placement combined with terrible fire arcs means that if you open fire and the enemy shoots back, you're going to lose the exchange. And better still, she's just fast enough to get you into position to get spanked without enough agility or protection to survive attempting to disengage. This is toxic to inexperienced players who will find themselves getting smoked for playing the ship exactly as envisioned. How is that fair? Marlborough's carry potential is as mild as may. The surest path to reasonable numbers from this thing is to spam HE. But those reasonable numbers won't come quickly and you better know when it's safe (and necessary) to push. Marlborough doesn't do you any favours when it comes to outlasting the enemy and you're certainly not going to win any damage trades. Most of your game play in this thing devolves to bow tanking and hugging islands. Options The only surprises with Marlborough's options is how few (and crappy) they are. Consumables For instance: Marlborough only has two consumables. Her Damage Control Party is standard for a British battleship with a 15 second active period, unlimited charges and an 80 second reset timer. Her Repair Party is also standard, but not for a British battleship, which often have all sorts of weirdness going on. Instead, Marlborough's consumable is akin to one you might find on a French, German or Japanese battleship. Marlborough's version comes with four charges base and an 80 second reset timer. It heals up to 14% on her maximum health over 28 seconds. It queues up 10% of citadel damage, 50% of penetration damage coming from torpedoes, bombs, rockets and shells and 100% of all other damage types. Upgrades I'm not a fan of using upgrades to band-aid over flaws, but on Marlborough, it's almost necessary. Start with Main Armaments Modification 1. Next, start building up your anti-fire regimen with Damage Control System Modification 1, though we might not go full hog here. You have a choice in slot three. Aiming System Modification 1 is generally going to be optimal, HOWEVER, Marlborough's fire angles are crap and her gun handling isn't good, so Main Battery Modification 2 isn't a bad idea. it will also save you a couple of commander skill points from having to purchase Grease the Gears. Priority Target is much more important for Marlborough, so saving those two points here is pretty important. Similarly, in slot four, Damage Control System Modification 2 is optimal for reducing fire damage. HOWEVER, Marlborough's fire angles are crap and her gun handling isn't good. Therefore, having the improved rudder shift time from Steering Gears Modification 1 isn't a terrible idea. Concealment System Modification 1 is the only consumable worth considering in slot five. You've got another choice to consider in slot six. Understandably, having an even faster reload is most appealing in Marlborough. Main Battery Modification 3 enables that, dropping her reload from 25 seconds down to 22 seconds. However, given Marlborough's fragility woes, standing further back from the action isn't remiss. Taking Gun Fire Control System Modification 2 increases her range from a modest 20.86km to a respectable 24.2km. Commander Skills I don't think anyone is really surprised I get to re-use this same battleship commander skill graphic yet again. Without improved secondaries, there's nothing really noteworthy here, so fall back on the standard battleship survivability build. Camouflage Marlborough came with two camouflages when you unlock her via the dockyard. They provide the usual bonuses for a tier IX premium: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -20% to post-battle service costs. +100% to experience gains. Marlborough's War Paint camo is the typical over-the-top patriotic style we've seen repeatedly in World of Warships. As garish as the War Paint camo is, Marlborough's default Type 10 camo makes it look downright appealing. Blech. This camo pattern is hideous. The alternative palette (unlocked through the Naval Aviation collection), tones down the Type 10's garish colours at least. Firepower Main Battery: Sixteen 356mm/45 guns in 4x4 turrets with an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration Secondary Battery: Sixteen 133mm/50 guns in 8x2 turrets in superfiring pairs firing forward and aft down each side. Let's start with the obvious: On paper, Marlborough has fantastic damage output. Sixteen battleship calibre guns with a 25 second reload are a potential nightmare. With the right upgrade, Marlborough can reduce this to 22 seconds. Marlborough puts a lot of shells downrange very quickly and she has the potential to stack damage out faster than her contemporaries. This is the dream that Wargaming is selling, but it's not a dream that's easily realized. As we'll see, there are a stack of problems that get in the way, making this advertised gameplay challenging to achieve at best and downright frustrating to pursue. Marlborough is a case study on why DPM charts shouldn't be taken at face value. Problem the First Much ado has been made about Marlborough's poor dispersion but it's not as bad as players imagine. This lies solely at the feet of her 1.4 sigma which is among the worst sigma values in the game. Marlborough's dispersion values are otherwise normal for a British battleship, using the same horizontal dispersion values as most of the British, American and German vessels. Thus any accuracy woes the ship suffers must be laid at the feet of her shell grouping. So the question becomes just how bad is 1.4 sigma? Well here, judge for yourself: These are three of my "standard dispersion tests". This is 180 AP shells fired at 15km at a Fuso bot. All of these tests were conducted using the Aiming System Modification 1 upgrade to reduce dispersion by 7%. The Fuso bot was stationary and lacking camouflage. Shots came in from right to left. Two of these dispersion tests were conducted with Marlborough's 1.4 sigma. One was conducted with King George V, who uses identical guns but has 1.8 sigma instead. The difference may be a little harder to discern than expected. Sigma is an often overvalued statistic among players and represeents only a trend, not a guarantee of better accuracy on a per volley (and per match) basis. Dispersion is highly volatile, even with excellent sigma parameters. Marlborough's poor sigma makes it less likely that shells cluster towards the centre of the target area, spreading them out to the same overall area as her contemporaries but more like a "shotgun blast" than ships with higher values. Still, thanks to RNGeebus, it's entirely possible to have good salvos with poor sigma and terrible salvos with excellent sigma. With how few salvos are often fired in a single match of World of Warships and how few key "match defining" shots are needed to make accuracy stand out for good or ill, Marlborough's poor sigma value generates vastly different experiences for players. Missing key citadel hits when the perfect broadside is available is infuriating and likely to stick in someone's head, especially with the knowledge that had the shells behaved, a Devastating Strike was guaranteed. I spent a few days combing over accuracy statistics of some of the better players who had unlocked Marlborough and compared them to how said players did in HMS Lion. The overall accuracy difference was about 1% to 4%. So Marlborough's accuracy is worse, but it's not worse on a level that would be readily apparent if you just went by number of hits. That's perhaps misleading as the quality of said hits will also suffer. There's an enormous disparity in player experience for having a salvo land three citadel hits versus one that lands three over penetrations through the super structure. So yes, Marlborough's sigma value is bad, but it's not game-defining terrible. It's a flaw that's worth keeping in mind, but I personally feel that the import of sigma is overvalued. Problem the Second Marlborough's TERRIBLE fire angles are why I hate playing her. It's no secret that I despise a ship with poor firing angles, particularly if it's paired with shoddy gun handling. Marlborough ticks both of these boxes and, as we'll later see in the durability and agility sections, compounds it with hilariously bad protection and sloppy turning. In order to fire all sixteen guns, Marlborough opens herself up to taking citadel hits in return from not only enemy battlehips but some high-tier cruisers as well. This danger is so pronounced that you can only cycle all your sixteen guns when the Red Team is too busy to shoot back. And so, her main selling feature is horribly compromised. In practical terms, Marlborough is not a sixteen-gun battleship. She's an eight-gun battleship, incapable of using her full broadside for fear of getting clobbered or beaching herself every time she does. For expert players, the big drawback here are her rearward firing angles. Marlborough cannot kite to save her life. In order to trade fire, her only option is to fight bow-in, preferably keeping an island to one flank to prevent crossfire. This severely limits not only her firepower but overall flexibility. Marlborough should be treated as an eight-gun battleship that can occasionally fire sixteen guns. Between her awful fire angles, poor protection and agility, she cannot take advantage of her full broadside unless the Reds are already losing or they're idiots. While bow-tanking at high tiers is nothing new, it is much more pronounced iwht Marlborough. Thus, I feel that it's this second issue, Marlborough's gun handling and fire arcs, that is the most damning for the ship. But we're not done trash-talking yet... Problem the Third Marlborough's AP shells are effectively non-functional. Alright, I'm exaggerating but Marlborough's AP shells are very bad. As 356mm rounds, they lack penetration necessary at this tier. Outside of 14km, they lose all ability to contest battleship belt armour and their ability to citadel enemy battleships falls away significantly closer. Given Marlborough's horrible fire angles, gun handling and protection woes, taking her into a brawl to be able to use her AP decisively is a loser-move. Firing at range means aiming for superstructures and the upper hull, but her dispersion makes that a bit of a crap shoot anyway. You would think that it would get better when facing cruisers but it's still a mixed bag. While she has the penetration necessary to land citadel hits against cruisers at just about any range, she lacks the ability to overmatch anything but very light cruisers like Minotaur, Edinburgh or Smolensk. I would have thought Wargaming would have at least gone so far as to give her AP rounds improved auto-ricochet angles to prop up their poor penetration values and lack of overmatch but it's not meant to be. This means that most cruisers can simply face-tank Marlborough's salvos, risking only taking over penetrating hits through their superstructure or turrets. And speaking of over penetrations, Marlborough doesn't even benefit from the short fuse timers of other Royal Navy battleships. Her 0.033s fuse timers makes over penetrations much more likely against cruisers, especially ships with a narrow beam like Ochakov and Smolensk. With her AP rounds being such poor performers, that just leaves her HE. Problem the Fourth So Marlborough is ostensibly relegated to being an HE spammer. With Marlborough's AP being so crap, I would have thought that Wargaming would have leaned more heavily on Marlborough's HE performance but that's not the case. Like Agincourt and Repulse before her, Wargaming has been nerfing the HE performance of newer Royal Navy battleship designs. But while Agincourt's HE was only gently nudged away from these higher damage and fire setting values, Marlborough's were thoroughly gutted. So while Marlborough is an HE spammer, she's a bad HE spammer, especially when you remember that between fire arcs and accuracy, you're not landing as many hits as her on-paper design would have you think. Those fearsome 10k+ salvos just don't materialize very often and Marlborough is usually only slapping targets for 3k at a time (if even that -- her individual shells usually strike for 480 to 1,584 damage). She's not even a particularly fearsome firebug. On paper she's the best at her tier. In practice, Alsace and the German battleships are more apt. Marlborough just doesn't get to fire all sixteen guns often enough (or hit often enough) to realize anywhere close to her potential. The best thing she has going for her is the increased HE penetration on her shells, but 89mm of HE penetration isn't that much more effective than the 59mm of HE penetration she would have otherwise had. There's a few decks and upper hulls that she can now directly damage that she might not have otherwise, but it's such a niche ability that it's not a merit worth considering. Marlborough's fire setting potential is the best at her tier though it's surprisingly only marginally better than that of Lion. This, of course, hinges on the ability to be able to fire all of her guns and hit stuff reliably ... which you won't. Problem the Fifth This last bit is just nit-picky but it plays into how inept Marlborough's base design is. The best way to counteract all of Marlborough's gunnery and durability issues is to keep her at range. From further away, she's a less appealing target. This, in turn, gives her more opportunity to take full advantage of her fast-reloading broadside. Her HE (crappy as it is) isn't affected by distance and her armour becomes more effective against AP rounds fired back at her. But, once again, Marlborough is held back. While her 20.86km range isn't terrible (it's average for her tier) there's two things to keep in mind. First, Marlborough does not have access to a Spotter Aircraft consumable to provide a temporary boost to her reach. Second, unlike most of the other battleships at her tier, Marlborough's performance improves considerably the more reach she has. When you're bad or your battleship is bad, humping the back of the map and farming fire damage is the way to go. If Marlborough had a few more kilometers of base range, then her design would work as advertised. As it is, taking Artillery Plotting Room Modification 2 helps band-aid a lot of her other problems. Secondaries They suck. Ignore them. Summary Marlborough is a ship that punishes you for trying to play her to her advertised strengths. Her guns are difficult to bring to bear. And when you do get guns on target, she's not going to land as many hits as you might imagine. And what few hits you do land aren't likely to be effective on a per-hit basis. Would that Marlborough's problems end here, but there's more problems coming that compounds her gunnery woes. Her dispersion is bad, but it's not as bad as you're imagining. She has a lot of guns and they do fire quickly, but it's rare you get to use all sixteen of them. Her individual shell performance sucks. Unless you can land a lot of hits, her salvos don't feel particularly strong. VERDICT: Wargaming believes that you should be punished for wanting to shoot Marlborough's guns. Shame on you. Durability Hit Points: 76,800 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 32mm / 19mm / 32mm / 32mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 381mm belt Torpedo Damage Reduction: 23% You could be forgiven for imagining that Marlborough's citadel layout mirrored that of Vanguard or the King George V-class battleships. But it's worse than that. It's much worse. While those battleships have citadels that sit at or just slightly above the waterline, Marlborough's citadel is hiked up to her nipples. The one (and only) advantage of this is that her citadel roof is made up of the 152mm reinforced deck found on most ships that's usually hidden by the armour viewer, making her immune to overmatching AP rounds that strike at a shallow angle. But, because her citadel sits so high (indeed, taking up the full height of her belt armour) the above advantage is irrelevant by making lateral hits against her citadel such an easy shot. I might have been okay with this if she had REALLY THICK armour, but 381mm of nearly vertical plate with no extra bells and whistles is pathetic at tier IX. Marlborough is dangerously vulnerable to citadel hits against her contemporaries at almost any distance. But it gets worse. Remember those awful fire angles we discussed earlier? If you try and fire sixteen guns at a target, their return fire can (and will) citadel you. Marlborough's fire angles are so terrible that incoming shells striking her belt will auto-pass their ricochet check a minimum of 81% of the time when she's firing forward and ALWAYS when she fires over her shoulder to the rear. It's never (EVER!) a good idea to trade fire with enemy battleships using all of Marlborough's guns. You'll give up huge chunks of your health if you don't simply die. Things don't get much better against cruisers or destroyers. Her homogeneous 32mm structural plate makes her an easy HE damage farm from heavy and light cruisers. Given her damage output woes, she's not likely to fare well in these trades. Incoming torpedoes from lolibotes and subs don't have to contend with very much anti-torpedo protection either. And if you're thinking "oh, well she's soft skinned because Royal Navy battleships get a good heal", stop right there. Marlborough has a worse heal than any of the other Royal Navy battleships in the game. So not only does she take more damage than other Royal Navy battleships, she doesn't recover health anywhere near as quickly. If you see Marlborough on the enemy team, know that she's an easy target. As an xp pinata, there's a lot to like with Marlborough. But playing her? She's a total drag. Marlborough's potential health is totally average. But when you combine this with her poor protection scheme, she's a lot more fragile than these numbers suggest. There are hidden armour plates in the bow and stern of Marlborough. Unfortunately, her citadel sits so high that any shells bouncing off these plates will just slam into her 305mm bulkheads and citadel her anyway. VERDICT: Bad, horrible and terrible. Agility Top Speed: 31.5 knots Turning Radius: 860 meters Rudder Shift Time: 16.8 seconds 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 4.2º/s at 23.5kts Main Battery Traverse Rate: 4.0º/s I wish Marlborough's agility was enough to bandaid her other problem. Sadly, one issue sours the experience. Let's start with the good: Marlborough's top speed is great. 31.5 knots is very comfortable at this tier. Similarly, her 860m turning radius isn't terrible; it's better than a lot of the other high-tier battleships, so I've got to give her a pass here as well. These two factors combine to a 4.2º/s rotation rate when she's at top speed which isn't stellar but it's okay. Unfortunately, this is enough to allow her to out-turn her turrets, but I've already complained enough about that. So you're probably wondering where the issue is. It's her rudder shift time. 16.8 seconds isn't appalling but it's pretty bad. And given her fire angle woes, her lack of torpedo protection and her citadel vulnerability, it's just that much worse. Marlborough feels like she handles poorly. Just Dodging™ isn't in her repertoire and you can forget being able to swing her butt out and back in order to flash her guns and avoid return fire. If she had Vanguard or Yukon's rudder shift time, I might be more forgiving here but given what Marlborough needs, her agility just doesn't deliver. Two things to note with this graphic. First, Giuseppe Verdi's agility is assumed -- I have not tested it yet. She appears to have the same agility as Marco Polo (I suspect her agility performance is cloned) but until I get my hands on her, I won't know for sure. The second item to note is the lack of data for Prinz Rupprecht. I have not unlocked her yet to test her. VERDICT: Close but no cigar. Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: 3+1 explosions for 1,540 damage per blast at 3.5km to 6km Long Ranged (up to 6km): 80.5 dps at 75% accuracy (60 dps) Medium Ranged (up to 3.5km): 528.5 dps at 75% accuracy (396 dps) There's not much to say here. Marlborough doesn't put out a lot of damage overall. She's pretty crappy when it comes to how many flak explosions she generates (even if the individual hits are beefier than many at her tier). The best that could be said about her is that she has good reach with her long-ranged batteries so she can support her allies decently. But she just doesn't generate the numbers needed to make any CV player balk. VERDICT: A whole lot of meh. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 15.36km / 12.07km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 11.94km / 9.67km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 13.35km Maximum Firing Range: Between 20.86km and 24.2km when equipped with Artillery Plotting Room Modification 2. Marlborough's concealment is good. As it stands presently, Marlborough has the tenth lowest upgraded surface detection of all of the battleships within her matchmaking spread. She ends up with a surface detection around 12km which is very comfortable and about on par with a lot of cruisers she faces. With her guns silenced, she has little to fear from being spotted by larger ships, with only the usual culprits of submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyers being able to routinely outspot her. In late game settings, this gets quite powerful, particularly when she needs to disengage. It's unfortunate that she cannot pair this with good kiting fire angles, but such are the woes of her design. There are two other flies in the ointment. The first is her relative lack of range with no ability to boost it short of taking a 6th-slot upgrade. The second is a lack of any bonus detection consumables. Though the days are long gone where orbiting aircraft could help sniff out threats, consumables like Hydroacoustic Search aren't unheard of on a fair number of battleships and Marlborough goes without. Overall, her concealment is one of the few straight-up good things about the vessel. Marlborough has excellent concealment for a battleship. VERDICT: Good, but not good enough to save the ship. Anti-Submarine Warfare ASW Armament Type: Airstrike from 1.5km to 10km (plus bomb drop column) Number of Salvos: Up to three Reload Time: 75 seconds Aircraft: Two S.25 Sunderlands with 2,000hp per plane. Drop Pattern: 4 bombs each dropped evenly over roughly a 1.75km column Maximum Bomb Damage: 3,000 Fire Chance: 17% I'm again merely reporting this for posterity's sake rather than speaking towards its efficacy. The Royal Navy battleships have some of the better airstrikes in the game at this stage in testing. But with overhauls planned, who knows how things will change in the future? VERDICT: Don't know, don't care until things get closer to final. Final Evaluation Welcome to flavour country. Like the tobacco industry, Wargaming will tell you their product is well researched and fine for consumer consumption. This is despite their own evidence that players do not enjoy ships with compromised main gunnery performance. Playing Marlborough isn't likely to give you cancer as far as I'm aware. It just feels like it. This is a bad design on Wargaming's part. The amount of arrogance or ignorance needed to think that it's a good idea to [edited]-slap players for playing the ship the way they promoted her is just astounding. The worst thing is that Wargaming is patently aware that frustrating gunnery isn't received well by the player base, yet they go out of their way to cook up this mess. I'm glad most players I've encountered seem aware that this ship is poorly designed and are keeping away. I really wish Wargaming would stop jerking us around with bad products like this. But let's talk about what a "bad" product means in the context of this game, because invariably there's going to be someone that enjoys this ship -- whether by it's own merits or simply to because they're an unrepentent hipster that can't help but find enjoyment in things panned by the community. It's important to appreciate that unlike her sister game World of Tanks, bad premiums in World of Warships create the illusion of being redeemable. Any ship in the game is capable of damaging any other. It was a meme back in the day, but you could take a tier II Umikaze into tier X matches and with a bit of skill, still pull of some surprising numbers. This addage holds true for Marlborough. She's a bad ship, make no mistake, but she can still generate numbers. Fire and HE spam are the great equalizers after all. All it takes is someone stubborn enough to sit behind the helm and keep trying and Marlborough will eventually deliver. What makes Marlborough bad is the amount work needed to get the same results as other ships. Meanwhile, your team is forced to carry harder to make up for your ships deficits. This isn't an insurmountable ask by any means given how World of Warships is designed. But Marlborough is still a liability. This is obviously in the context of PVP modes. Bots are dumb and you can make nearly anything work in Co-Op. It wouldn't take much to make Marlborough less punitive to play. Wargaming can't do much about her fire angles without clipping into the ship's geometry, so that's a wash. But they could do one of or any of the following: Drop her citadel down another deck. Give her an improved Repair Party. Increase her range by 2.5km. Give her Duke of York's improved auto-ricochet angles (60º to 75º) on her AP shells. Give her King George V's HE rounds. Improve her rudder shift time dramatically. Improve her gun handling dramatically. Even the addition of only of these would vastly improve the experience of playing Marlborough. Some are admittedly powerful (KGV HE, I am looking at you) and might necessitate further balancing measures. Preserving her as-advertised 25 second reload might necessitate giving up range, speed and concealment. I would happily sacrifice those to make her a better gun platform. Main battery performance is the key aspect of game play for battleships in World of Warships and Wargaming screwed it up bad with Marlborough. You shouldn't feel like you're fighting with the ship in order to fire her guns -- especially not with a vessel that comes with a $200 price tag. Shame on you, Wargaming. Mouse out.
  4. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review - Dido

    The following is a review of Dido, to tier VI premium British light cruiser, supported by my patrons on Patreon. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as of patch 0.11.1. Please be aware that her performance may change in the future. The purpose of this review is to support the players, not the company behind the product. Posting this review is not an endorsement of current goings on nor is it a statement about them. It's been a while, and not for the lack of trying. I have a half-finished Giuseppe Verdi and Kearsarge reviews archived before I got distracted with mapping sustianed AA DPS (kinda important when talking about Kearsarge's planes). My AA project has ballooned out of control which I feared it might. I'm putting those reviews on hold to get a (relatively) faster one out. Now Dido is a ship that players have wanted for a long time. A quick forums search finds talk about these ships going all of the way back to the game's launch, with players eagerly looking forward to more "Atlanta-style" ships. This ship has definitely been one I've highly anticipated knowing how important it is to not only Royal Navy enthusiasts but also players in the Commonwealth nations where she might be used (with modifications) to represent HMNZS Bellona or HMNZS Black Prince. Wargaming seems to have developed allergies for rapid-fire ships over the course of 2021 (to say nothing of AA specialists), with ships increasingly having longer and longer (and unfun) reloads and Dido's implementation obviously suffers from this new design direction. I was expecting Nürnberg levels of rapid-fire. Instead we got Dallas with much weaker guns. The silver lining (supposedly) is that they gave her smoke. So let's see if reaching into the Box o' Gimmicks™ has saved us from unfun design choices. Quick Summary: A fragile British light cruiser with ten, slow-firing destroyer-calibre guns. She's agile with good concealment and boasts a Short-Burst Smoke Generator. PROS Small citadel. Large battery of ten 133mm guns that fires both HE and AP. 360º traverse on rear turrets. Powerful, single-fire torpedoes. Excellent acceleration and decent agility. Good concealment. She has smoke. CONS Tiny hit point pool. Very thin citadel protection, vulnerable to even 203mm AP overmatching. Uses cruiser dispersion instead of destroyer dispersion. Slow firing for such small-calibre guns. Low HE and AP penetration. Clumsy main-battery firing angles. Bad anti-aircraft firepower. No access to Hydroacoustic Search. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / CASUAL / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme Dido has a nice, comfortable skill floor for inexperienced players. Park in smoke, apply HE to faces. Displace. Rinse and repeat. For veteran players, there's a lot to know. Map awareness, map positioning, proper smoke use habits, commander skill builds, ammunition juggling, using and abusing concealment, etc. They'll all serve you well here and help pad some of the ship's obvious weaknesses. Dido's carry potential is somewhat limited, however, by the issues with her penetration and damage output. She just doesn't hurt things quickly enough for bold plays barring a torpedo strike, so this is a ship that requires patience, caution and even more patience. Options The most variety you're going to find in optimized Dido builds comes from commander skill selection, and that's mostly focused around whether or not to take Inertial Fuse for HE Shells or to emphasize fire setting instead. One of these is a bad idea. Consumables Dido's Damage Control Party is standard for a cruiser. It comes with unlimited charges and a 60 second reset timer. It is active for 5 seconds. Her Defensive AA Fire consumable is standard for a non-American cruiser at this tier. It starts with three charges and it has a 40 second active period and an 80 second reset timer. While active, it increases sustained damage by 50% and quadruples flak explosion damage. Dido comes with a Short-Burst Smoke Generator reminiscent of that found on Belfast '43 and British destroyers. However, it's very much its own beast with no direct clones that I could find. It starts with five charges and emits smoke for 15 seconds. However, the smoke clouds only last for 35 seconds each (Belfast '43's smoke lasts for 40) . Her reset timer is also longer than her tier VIII cousin, with an 80 second wait time instead of 70 seconds. Upgrades Not much variety here. Start with Main Armaments Modification 1. Next, take Engine Room Protection. Aiming Systems Modification 1 is the only upgrade worth considering in slot three. And finally, Steering Gears Modification 1 is also the only upgrade worth taking. Commander Skills Why haven't you taken Heavy HE & SAP Shells yet? YOU MUST TAKE HEAVY HE & SAP SHELLS for Dido. There's no reason not to. Take it now. NOW. Have you done it yet? Okay, good. Now we can talk. You're going to want to pair that with Inertial Fuse for HE Shells along with the usual light-cruiser suspects of Concealment Expert and Last Stand is also recommended. You've got some wiggle room after that. I highly value Priority Target and I wanted the extra charge of smoke with Superintendent (though you're not always going to get to use it). With such as a small hit point pool, the extra 2700 (or 11% total) hit points from Survivability Expert is worth taking, though you could trade one of the latter two for Adrenaline Rush if you wanted. Finally, I had a point leftover which I dropped into Grease the Gears. Here's some of the skills I'd consider but didn't have room for in my current build: Gun Feeder - On more than one occasion, I wish I had this skill when the flat broadside of a cruiser finally presented itself. Demolition Expert - Nice to have, but expensive at two points. Adrenaline Rush - Mentioned above. Radio Location - See Demolition Expert. This would be nice to have but it's too expensive given Dido's priorities. Of course, if you're only playing Co-Op and scenarios, than other than Heavy HE & SAP Shells, your choice of skills doesn't matter much. Camouflage If you unlock Dido through the Gibraltar Pillars event, she comes with two camouflage options. Her Type 10 and Atlantic camos are palette swaps of one another, providing the identical bonuses of: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -10% to post-battle service costs. +50% to experience gains. This is Dido-s standard Type 10 camouflage. If she's put on sale on the regular later, this is the paint scheme with which she'll come. You can unlock this alternative palette for her Type 10 camouflage through completing a specific part of the Naval Aviation collection. For early adopters, they also received this Atlantic - Dido camouflage which is nice and striking. My guess is we'll see this as a purchasable option for and estimated 1,000 doubloons or 6,000 community-tokens for later-comers if they become available separately. Firepower Main Battery: Ten 133mm/50 guns in 5x2 turrets in an A-B-C-X-Y superfiring configuration. Torpedoes: Six tubes in 2x3 launchers on wing mounts straddling the rear funnel. Dido barely survives a ram attempt from Kijkduin, using her powerful torpedoes to sink the cruiser just before impact. Dido has better rearward than forward torpedo arcs. Torpedoes Let's start with the fish! Dido has surprisingly powerful fish for her tier. This is owing to her using the same torpedoes found on the tier VIII destroyer, Lightning, giving her quite a heavy punch. Their 8km range means you're not stealth firing at anyone barring extreme kiting situations or using concealment to setup a torpedo attack. However, their individual hits are devastating. A full broadside of her torpedoes will sink just about any cruiser she comes across. BUT (and I stress this but!) three torpedo hits aren't enough to take down any of the battleships she faces short of Viribus Unitis, so don't suicide charge anything that's not already damaged. Like other British cruisers and destroyers, Dido can single fire her fish which is welcome. It's just a shame these aren't a little longer ranged. Oh well, they're good at what they do when you are able to use them. Those these may be destroyer calibre, they do not have a destroyer's rate of fire. Tech Tree versus Premium I'm honestly surprised Wargaming chose to release another premium with destroyer-calibre guns, to say nothing of a whole tech tree lined based on the armament, without first addressing player concerns about their performance. Firepower wise, specialized cruisers are in a rough spot since the commander skill rework a couple of years back. Wargaming has made improvements, but super-cruisers and cruisers with destroyer-calibre weapons had their efficiency severely reduced. Ostensibly, Dido's arrival long after the rework (nevermind a full Pan Asian line dedicated to this armament choice) means that Wargaming has designed these ships with these deficits in mind. Ostensibly. Maybe they're couching their implementation with the promise of future fixes. I dunno. I can't hold their feet to the fire like I used to. These teething troubles are still apparent with Dido's gunnery and it takes a careful hand (and careful skill choices) to fix these issues. She's not quite a comfortable gunnery platform -- she gets close, but her weapons are far from the fun weapons of Atlanta and Smolensk, for example. As a premium version of Rahmat, the tier VI Pan Asian tech-tree vessel, it's natural to want to compare her and Dido. There's a lot of give and take between the two ships. Dido has better range than Rahmat, with a reach of 14.1km to Rahmat's 12.496km. This is a huge improvement. Rahmat has better fire angles on her Y-turret with a 270º arc compared to Dido's 268º. Minor, but still. Rahmat has the better rate of fire, reloading in just 7.5 seconds to Dido's 8.5 seconds. This is pretty big. Dido's shells have less drag and thus better ballistics. This is important. The reduced drag gives Dido's AP shells better penetration too. This is not so important, as we'll cover. Dido's AP shells have longer fuse timers of 0.033s instead of 0.025s. This is more of academic interest than practical. This all translates to Dido being a more comfortable platform to engage targets at a distance, which is good, but you pay for it with overall damage output. Of course, besting Rahmat's range is like bragging that your ship is faster than New Mexico. It's a pretty damn low bar to hurdle. Dido is short ranged, make no mistake, but she is the longest-ranged of any of the smoke-bearing cruisers at this tier barring Trento. Between having to choose between range and rate of fire, I'll take the range, especially when paired with Dido's improved ballistics. I'm not happy about Dido's rate of fire, especially when paired with her penetration woes. This isn't a cruiser that kills things quickly. Dido's DPM is middling. Her lack of penetration makes it very difficult to realize these numbers, however. It should be noted that Dido (and Rahmat) can boost these listed numbers by 10% by taking the Heavy HE and SAP shells commander skill, which they totally should. This bumps up Dido's AP DPM from 180,000 to 198,000 and her HE DPM from 134,118 to 147,530. With her guns being only 133mm in calibre, she doesn't suffer the accompanying concealment penalty normally associated with this skill. Dido's improved ballistics means that her AP penetration is lightly better than Rahmat's, even though they're using the same guns. This ballistic difference translates into Rahmat's shells taking 10.63 seconds to reach 12.5km. Dido's cover the same distance in 9.46 seconds and doesn't experience the same kind of floaty arc as Rahmat until a range of 13.47km. These arcs allow Dido to make good use of terrain cover to lob shells over islands. Dido's penetration isn't good. Her AP penetration is among the worst for cruisers at tier VI. Landing citadel hits against cruisers requires not only the enemy ships to provide a broadside to shoot at, but also specific armour thresholds. While something soft and squishy like Pensacola's 76mm belt over her machine spaces can be contested in excess of 12km, the 102mm plating over her magazines is proof until you get into sub-10km ranges. Dido's AP works well against lower-tiered and very light and scout cruisers but it's nowhere near reliable against higher tiered ships. The long fuse timer on her shells also makes overpenetrations more likely against soft parts like battleship superstructures. Her HE penetration doesn't get much better. Sure, the 22mm she starts with is enough to contest all destroyers and most (but not all) tier V, VI and VII cruisers she might face. This is also enough to hurt the extremities of tier V battleships and the superstructures of the remaining vessels. Taking Inertial Fuse for HE Shells greatly expands the targets she can directly hurt, being able to smouldering HE holes into any cruiser she might come across as well as opening up the extremities of tier VI and VII battleships as well. Pair this with the Heavy HE and SAP Shells commander skills and Dido's DPM starts to look respectable. This comes at the expense of setting fires, of course, but Dido's not a great fire starter to begin with. Even with a deep build into fire setting, she barely gets close to the stock-values of the 152mm armed ships. So I stress again: Take Inertial Fuse for HE Shells and Heavy HE and SAP Shells on your commanders or Dido's gunnery performance suffers. I'm not happy with this solution. It means that in order to be competitive, destroyer-calibre armed ships like Dido must pay a commander skill tax. If skills like these are so game-changing as to become mandatory, that's bad for the player-base. Players are punished if they don't take them. Dido is only ever a modest fire-setter. You can dump skills and consumables into trying to improve it, but you're only ever going to be as good as a stock Makarov. It's better to bite the bullet, take IFHE and go from there. British ships are notorious for having bad fire angles. Dido's forward fire angles are good for four out of her five turrets, but Y-turret sucks. Her rearward fire angles are pretty bad, though. There are two good points though: Her X-turret has phenomenal fire arcs and both it and Y-turret have a 360º traverse arc. Gun Handling & Accuracy Dido keeps up with the British tradition of cramming their guns in so tightly to their superstructures that it impedes their gunnery arcs. Her fire arcs are bad, with her Y-turret being especially awful. You can mostly ignore this when firing forward, with four guns capable of addressing very accute fire angles. It's just Y-turret that's nigh-impossible to bear without flashing your full broadside. Unfortunately, things are worse rearward, with her forward turrets having bad arcs. At least her turret traverse isn't painfully slow and her rear turrets can rotate 360º. So you're not going to be able to fire all five guns safely without cover. Being out in the open is just asking for trouble with Dido anyway, so use the crummy arcs as a bit of a reminder to get back into cover ASAP. Special mention should be made about her dispersion. Dido, like Rahmat, uses cruiser horizontal dispersion formulas; namely: dispersion in meters = {[(range in km) x 6.9]+33 } as opposed to the more accurate destroyer dispersion formula {[(range in km) x 7.5] + 15}. Wargaming has never been consistent with when it applies one formula or the other. Bogatyr and Krasny Krym, for example, use cruiser dispersion while ships like Atlanta, Flint and Smolensk use the destroyer version. The difference isn't huge, but it is noticeable -- especially with destroyer calibre guns that fire as slowly as Dido's do. Summary As a weapon platform, Dido is okay, but only okay. There's nothing novel about her gunnery. She's not like Atlanta or Smolensk or Colbert where a smaller calibre weapon brings the promise of a greater rate of fire. This is a shame, because spamming small calibre shells is a lot of fun. Instead, it's better to think of Dido as analogous to a 152mm-armed ship but with nerfed AP and HE performance. Her shells are bad; they can be made functional with the correct commander skill build, but that's more of a bandaid solution than a true fix. You can bring them up to a state of usability but they're never going to cross that threshold into being truly competitive. The same goes for her fish. They hit like trucks (which is awesome), but having only three isn't enough to make them a true trump card. Furthermore, her 8km range is only ever going to be okay and not great. She'd need another 2km onto their range to become something that could be used on the regular and another 2km beyond that to become a mainstay weapon. VERDICT: Very meh. Functional, but very meh. Durability Hit Points: 23,600 Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 13mm / 10mm / 89mm / 25mm Maximum Citadel Protection: 89mm belt Torpedo Damage Reduction: 4% That's not a lot of health. I don't think anyone was expecting Dido to be anything but squishy. She's not a heavily armoured cruiser and as far as tonnage goes; she's quite small compared to her contemporaries. The only question I had was whether or not she would get access to a Repair Party consumable to pad these vulnerabilities and the answer is decisively: "Very no". As it stands, it takes as little as a pair of 381mm citadel hits to send her to the bottom. Fun! I'm not going to tell you that "Akchooally, dis is gud," cuz it's not. This sucks. This sucks moose balls. This sucks so much that it makes Survivability Expert not only a viable skill choice, but arguably a necessary one. The commander skill-tax on patching Dido's flagging performance gets more and more expensive (for those keeping track, we're up to 10 mandatory skill points). The only decent thing about Dido is the size of her citadel. It's a small target and in my playtesting, its small size has kept me alive just a little longer as players overestimate it's scope. So catastrophic ends, while still possible, are a little less likely owing to this small target. Of course, once word gets out and familiarity with this ship jumps up with exposure, this advantage will mean less and less. Most of us now know how to blow apart an Omaha-class or an Emerald, for example, despite their citadels being smaller than higher-tiered cruisers. That same kind of baseline knowledge will eventually disseminate down to Dido as well and she'll pop as readily as the rest of them. Still, you might be able to pull off the occasional troll manoeuvre. Angling in Dido is generally a bad idea as even 203mm AP shells can overmatch her bow and blow her machine spaces apart (incidentally 203mm AP can overmatch much of her citadel roof too, so dueling with American heavy cruisers is generally a stupid idea). Remember that at ranges less than 8km, it's better to show a full broadside to most enemy battleships than to try and angle against them, trusting that their AP shells don't have sufficient time to arm inside your ship. This doesn't work for shorter-fuse timers from AP shells, such as the 305mm rounds on König, Scharnhorst's 283mm or Yukon's 381mm guns, but go nuts on trying it out against other battleships. Just remember: flat broadside. Any kind of angle and you risk giving enough room for those shells to pop you good. Given Dido's short range, German secondaries ended up being something I dreaded facing. HE of just about any calibre hurt and it's important to keep a respectable distance away from anything bristling with functional (or semi-functional) secondaries. This dittos for HE spam from gunship destroyers, but they tended to keep a healthy distance from Dido's guns for the most part. So, yeah. Dido's durability sucks. No surprises there, though, so don't get hit. Dido is made of squish. Dido's citadel is much smaller than players might think. You have to aim beneath her funnels to score citadel hits. Otherwise, you're very likely to overpenetrate. Dido's citadel is shown here in yellow. Her magazines do not count as part of the citadel and are featured here in dark red. This image comes from Gamemodels3d.com.. VERDICT: Bad but not like, meme-worthy bad (which would be kind of redeemable). Shooting beneath Dido's turrets may disable them or even knock them out, but you're not getting citadel hits if you aim there. You can try baiting shots here by offering up a full broadside at very close ranges, trusting her thin armour to prompt overpenetrations from battleship calibre guns. Agility Top Speed: 32.3 knots Turning Radius: 580 meters Rudder Shift Time: 6.5 seconds 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 6.9º/s at 25.8kts Main Battery Traverse Rate: 10.0º/s Dido does not have all of improved agility characteristics as other British light cruisers do. Still, Dido has some pretty good agility according to her in port stats. She has a tiny turning circle radius and a good rudder shift time. However, the tech tree British light cruisers and destroyers have improved engine performance, given them much better handling than their stats alone would otherwise indicate. Dido gets a half-measure of this bonus. She accelerates much faster than normal ships. However, she doesn't get the improved energy retention in a turn, decelerating to the normal 80% of maximum speed when she comes about instead of retaining 97.5% to 98.5%. You can see this here in the time it takes the tier VI cruisers to each 30 knots. The percentage in brackets is how much 30 knots is relative to their top speed, with the idea being that the closer this is to a ship's maximum speed, the longer it will take them to accelerate. 10.0 seconds Dido (92.9%) 10.5 seconds Perth (92.3%) 10.8 seconds Leander (92.3%) 11.3 seconds Mysore (94.9%) 22.9 seconds Dallas (92%) 23.8 seconds Molotov (83.3%) 24.3 seconds Budyonny (85.5%) 24.5 seconds Duca d'Aosta (82.0%) 24.9 seconds Trento (85.5%) 26.5 seconds Aoba (85.5%) 27.0 seconds De Grasse (89.6%) 27.5 seconds London (92.6%) 27.9 seconds Huanghe (90.6%) 28.8 seconds Pensacola (92%) 29.8 seconds Kijkduin (90.6%) 30.8 seconds Canarias (90.6%) 32.1 seconds La Galissonniere (96.8%) 32.1 seconds Nurnberg (93.8%) 32.1 seconds Makarov (93.8%) 35.5 seconds Devonshire (95.5%) It's obvious looking at this that Dido, along with Perth, Leander and Mysore, has much improved acceleration over their peers. She's hitting 30 knots while they're struggling to make 10. Even when her rivals are equipped with Propulsion Modification 1, their acceleration just doesn't compare. Here's a few examples of the same test, but this time equipped with the upgrade: Dallas: 20.8 seconds (2.1s faster) Budyonny: 19.2s (5.1s faster) Nurnberg: 26.9s (5.2s faster) Duca d'Aosta: 19.4s (5.1s faster) (Note: There's something weird going on with Dallas). So other than that, there's nothing too surprising going on here. Dido's not especially fast (she's not slow either). She has a good rate of turn, but not outstanding. Her turning circle radius is nice and tight, which is great. She doesn't get top marks in this category (Perth and Leander are a thing), but she's pretty damn good. Dido combines the small turning circle radius of Huanghe and Rahmat with the improved acceleration of Mysore, Leander and Perth. She does not have the improved energy preservation of the latter two, though, which would have spiked her rate of turn from 6.9º/s up to 8.4º/s! VERDICT: On a scale of one to awesome, Dido is super-great. Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: 2+0 explosions for 1,260 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.2km Long Ranged (up to 5.2km): 63 dps at 90% accuracy (56.7 dps) Medium Ranged (up to 2.5km): 63 dps at 90% accuracy (56.7 dps) Short Ranged (up to 2km): 94.5 dps at 85% accuracy (80.325dps) DPS Aura Ranges Total DPS by Range Effective Damage vs 186.2knot Aircraft Dido's AA firepower stinks worse than unwiped monkey butts. And I take issue with this. Dido's 133mm only have a 5.2km range and this makes me grumpy. 'What's the big deal?' you might justifiably ask. After all, the dual purpose guns on the KGV-class, Famous & Historical Monarch and Yukon all share the same range. It's that consistency which is bothering me. You see, Rahmat, using the same guns, gets a 5.8km range. Yeah! No consistency there. In the Pan Asian cruiser's case, I imagine it's to make the 133mm guns feel like a 100% upgrade over her 113mm weapons. Can't have the upgraded guns making her AA worse now can we? I also take exception to Wargaming's game design in regards to large calibre anti-aircraft firepower. It's been troublesome and busted since the rework back in 2019 and no iteration has worked sufficiently to my liking. It nerfed the Hell out of Hood's defensive AA rockets. It made Atlanta's AA power go from top tier to bottom. It makes Dido's AA power terrible in game, despite having a good track record historically. This is not the first ahistoric gameplay element to marr World of Warships but given the sorry state of surface ship to aircraft interaction, it's infuriating to me that Wargaming still hasn't ressurected the AA-picket ship role that has been gone since patch 0.8.0. Dido was a chance to amend this and they didn't take it. I'm not surprised they didn't. The whole CV rework reeks of incompetence three years on. Dido's AA, when paired with Defensive AA Fire will shoot down a plane or two so long her small and medium calibre AA guns are still intact (these will break as soon as you get hit by HE). She doesn't do enough damage, nor does she spit out enough flak bursts for any specialization into this role to be worthwhile. So don't bother. A few HE rounds between the funnels will strip her of most of her small and medium calibre AA and there's nothing you can realistically do about it. VERDICT: Ahistorical and laughably bad. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 10.54km / 9.2km Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 5.78km / 5.2km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 4.43km Maximum Firing Range: 14.1km There's good and bad here. THE GOOD Low surface detection Upgraded aerial detection matches her long-range AA battery range Smoke! THE BAD Cannot stealth-fire torpedoes No access to Hydroacoustic Search Each smoke cloud only lasts 35 seconds (a max of five salvos) It's the lack of access to Hydroacoustic Search that stings the most. Especially because her Defensive AA Fire is so bloody useless when paired with her abysmal AA values. Parking in smoke out in open water is just asking to get fish shoved up your butt, which is an embarrassing and carpy way to go out. I found myself prefering to keep smoke on standby while using islands as my prefered way to keep out of sight. Using smoke if spotted by aircraft or by an unseen vector became the better play. I even used it to help flush out a destroyer in a Ranked Batlte which was much more useful than parking in it. If Dido did have hydro, she could make some aggressive plays on occasion and behave a little more comfortably in open water, but it's not meant to be. Overall, she's good here. As limited as her Short-Burst Smoke Generator is, it's still very handy to have and it will help you win games. I'm just being bitter. Islands make better waifus than smoke. VERDICT: Good save for lacking hydro Anti-Submarine Warfare ASW Armament Type: Depth charges Number of Bombs per String: Five Number of Strings Carried: Two (may be increased to four with Depth Charges Modification 1) Reload Time per String: 40 seconds Drop Pattern: Rolled off rear deck in a line. Maximum Bomb Damage: 5,000 (estimated 2,567 damage) Fire Chance: 20% At the time of writing, submarines have been removed from public testing. I'm merely recording the data as it exists. It may become relevant later. Without Hydroacoustic Search, taking on subs is going to be a bad idea with Dido. Drop order of Dido's depth charges. Final Evaluation So Dido's good. Not great, but she's good. She's a cruiser with smoke that exists in an environment that's not saturated with Surveillance Radar and claustrophobic maps with lots of islands to shoot over. She'd have to be pretty terrible across most metrics not to do well. I'm not a fan of her given her lack of Hydroacoustic Search, mostly because I like bold-aggressive plays at low and mid-tier matches and not having the tools to dig out lolibotes sours me to the whole experience. Go figure, I don't have fun when my own idiocy gets me justifaibly blown out of the water for over-extending. Her lack of AA performance also bothers me considerably more than it should, admittedly. I wasn't looking for her to be god-tier when it came to shooting down planes. I just expected her to be better than bloody Molotov and Leander for crying out loud. But such isn't meant to be. Sucks to be me and have my preferences, I suppose. I admittedly haven't played her as much as I should, what with trying to get some Ranked Battle time in and poking at Canarias too. Still, the more I played her, the better things were turning out. I'm very curious to see how the community receives her. I personally feel her tiering holds her back. Wargaming just isn't incentivizing playing mid-tiers enough and they really should. I think it's a riot, but that's just me. Speaking of preferences, London is the better buy when it comes to tier VI premium British cruisers. She's much more reliable and nasty. In Closing I want to talk a little about what goes into making one of these reviews and just how much of a time investment these are. This one graphic demonstrates it quite well, I think. It takes me about two hours to put together one of these twirling graphics, assembling it through assets I make by hand with MS Paint and a calculator and then importing them over to photoshop to piece together in layers. That's already a lot of work, but it's only scratching the surface. There was no template for this. I had to make it. That took a lot of trial and error and a lot of botched attempts. I listened to feedback from my readers and my peers on how to improve my earlier results until I could create something that would show with a reasonable level of accuracy, how individual ships performed in a way that cut through the obfuscation of in-port statistics. I'm reasonably happy with how these turned out, though the number of ships at a given tier is making them too cluttered, so I will have to pair them down to only the relevant ships. But that still doesn't speak to all of the work that went into this, because there's all of the data collection that went into it as well. Simply timing ships twirling isn't all of it either (as arduous a task as it is keeping that database up to date). That ignores all of the testing and head scratching and math that went into figuring out how the in-port stats were created in the first place. This was further complicated by just how many ships had incorrect values listed in port too which created further hurdles. I have over 100 hours of recorded twirling data in my archives. 100 hours spent watching ships twirl in circles. And this is just for one graphic, I remind you. This has been repeated for other elements as well, be it detonations and module damage, smoke emission and ship hit boxes or god knows how much time I've lost trying to map dispersion. I'm not getting that time back short of using the data to share information. And I'm just speaking about my own time invested in these. @Lert and @Chobittsu are right there beside me, listening to me grumble. They provide feedback and suggestions, art and editing. To be able to speak confidently about any one aspect of a given ship's performance -- something I can back with actual provable stats -- takes time. It takes more time than you might assume from some throwaway DPM graphic or a funny little blurb about moose-testicles or an Angry YouTuber "meh". These reviews stand upon a a mountain of 'behind the scenes' work, an investment of a bunch of time about a video game that, let's be honest, hasn't treated me well over the last couple of years. It's hard producing these reviews. It's a lot of hard work that's built upon a lot of other work done in the past. Every new ship that's added to the game increases the workload. The last time I reviewed a tier VI cruiser, I didn't have to worry about Rahmat, Canarias, Dido or Kijkduin. Now I have to make sure those ships are covered too. I say this all not to complain, but to express my gratitude. The only thing that makes all of this time spent worthwhile is that you all see value in what I do here. For that, I am forever grateful. Thank you for reading.
  5. 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.
  6. The following is a review of Haida, a ship kindly provided to me by Wargaming. This is the release version of the vessel and these stats are current as of June 28th, 2018. I'm so happy, I'm crying. Quick Summary: A stealthy British gunship destroyer with a weird Smoke Generator and a single torpedo launcher. Cost: The equivalent of 5,600 doubloons. Patch & Date Written: 0.7.5.1 , June 20th, 2018 to June 28th, 2018. PROS Surprisingly tough for a tier VII destroyer with 15,700 hit points and large areas of 19mm armour. Enormous alpha strike on her HE shells and excellent HE DPM. Powerful torpedoes that hit for 16,767 damage and travel at 62kts. She can single-fire her torpedoes. Incredibly stealthy. Able to drop its surface detection down to 5.7km. Equipped with a British destroyer Hydroacoustic Search with a 3 minute (!) active time. Uses a Commonwealth Smoke Generator with a 90s emission time, allowing her to continue moving while staying hidden. The power (and comfort) of this ship spikes considerably with access to the Special Upgrades, Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 and Smoke Generator Modification 1. CONS Poor gun firing arcs on A and Y turret. Horrible shell flight time and very high ballistic arcs at range. Struggles to do damage against larger targets with poor penetration on AP & HE shells and poor fire chance. Only armed with a single quadruple torpedo launcher with a long reload. Not especially agile with a modest top speed of 36.5 knots and a 630m turning radius. Her Hydroacoustic Search is very short ranged, scarcely operating beyond the auto-detection radius. Her Smoke Generator is selfish and difficult to use to protect allies. As a Commonwealth ship, Haida has limited use as a commander trainer. Good day and welcome to the Canadian Corner. I'm Mouse and this is my grouchy editor from across the pond, Lert, eh. HMCS Haida is finally here. Finally, Canadians will stop complaining on Reddit, eh? Well maybe. Haida and the Tribal-class took a while getting through development. It's not like there isn't a small bit of controversy regarding how well this ship performs. My fellow Canadian, iChase, quite rightly pointed out that she's not going to be a ship for everyone, y'know? Who was the hoser that thought up a gunship with bad guns, eh? And it's not like she's got a lot of torpedoes to fall back on. Anyway, let's get this review started. It's gonna be a long one cause there's lots to go over and I have to pretend I'm not fangirling all over the place. Before we go any further, make sure you look up several reviews before opening your wallets for this one, okay? Like hold your horses, eh? Okay, that's my intro. Good day. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / Extreme This isn't a ship for new players. Haida struggles to deal reliable damage with either her guns or her torpedoes. Her ballistic arcs, poor penetration and horrible fire chance makes standing off at a distance and trying to deal damage challenging at best and horribly frustrating at worst. Her single torpedo launcher compounds this difficulty. This is a ship that belongs on the front lines where mistakes get punished absurdly quickly. Her only saving grace is her excellent concealment. Veterans will love this boat. She's uniquely designed to bully control points and extend vision for her team. This ship is a catalyst, facilitating wins by dominating caps and shutting down enemy destroyers. She rewards an aggressive play style that espouses knife-fights at point-blank ranges while harassing larger enemies. - 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. Haida's Firepower is a story of contrasts. Her guns are temperamental but their HE is incredibly hard hitting. She has only a single torpedo launcher but she has the ability to single fire them and deliver monstrous damage per hit. For sheer raw potential, though, she cannot escape being one of the most difficult ships to use on the attack at tier VII. She gets a rating. Haida has a high number of hit points combined with some minor armour improvements. She earns a rating. Her agility and anti-aircraft firepower are nothing to get too excited over, deserving the same evaluation. It's in Vision Control (Refrigerator) where Haida dominates. Even giving her a rating doesn't do her justice. This isn't a torpedo-boat that skulks, frightened of being discovered. Haida uses her concealment and detection abilities to hunt down those who want to remain hidden and punish those who think themselves safe. Hinterland Who's Who: Haida-Players In this short documentary series, we will be exploring four of the different types of Haida-players. They are easily identified by their distinct behaviors and performance, how they react to threats and the level of contribution they provide to their teams. Being able to recognize one of these Haida players and their potential impacts on the game will go a long way towards improving your experience. Click the image for a Youtube playlist of timeless Canadiana! Options Haida's gimmick is focused upon her two consumables. Haida makes use of the new Royal Navy destroyer Hydroacoustic Search consumable while borrowing a modified version of Perth's "creeping" Smoke Generator. In addition, Haida has access to two different premium camouflage patterns. Consumables Haida's Damage Control Party and Engine Boost consumables are normal for a tier VII destroyer. Haida's Smoke Generator is a modified version of that found on Perth and Huanghe -- two cruisers from the Commonwealth and Pan Asian tech trees respectively. Each cloud only lasts a mere 10 seconds but the generator continues making smoke for 90 seconds. With this, Haida can continue moving at speed (up to 12.5 knots) and remain hidden, covered by a continually deploying smoke cloud. Unlike the cruisers which also use this version of the consumable, Haida's reset timer is 120s / 80s between uses -- half the time of Perth's or Huanghe's. Her Hydroacoustic Search is that of the upcoming Royal Navy destroyer line. It's incredibly short ranged, detecting torpedoes at a mere 2.13km and ships at 3.12km. However, it's duration is 50% longer than that of standard cruiser-versions lasting 180 seconds. Upgrades In your first slot, you have a choice. Magazine Modification 1 will help mitigate some of the Fun and Engaging mechanics in World of Warships if you're adverse to that kind of thing. As a destroyer, you will detonate suddenly and often. If you like to gamble, then take Main Armaments Modification 1 instead. In your second slot, take Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1. This is one of the special upgrades and it will extend her Hydroacoustic Search's active time from 180s to 216s which is insane. You could use Propulsion System Modification 1, but that's for quitters. If you don't have the special upgrade, get one ASAP. In your third slot, take Smoke Generator Modification 1. This is another Special Upgrade. It increases the action time of your Smoke Generator from 90s to 117s. If you don't have access to one, you can use Aiming System Modification 1 like a poor person until you get enough sense of self worth to chase your dreams. Spend your coal on Special Upgrades! Unlike other destroyers, Haida doesn't spend very much time stationary, so the value of Propulsion Modification 2 is slightly reduced. To this end, it's really up to you on whether to take this or to reach for Steering Gears Modification 2 instead. They're both good. Camouflage Haida comes with Type 10 Camouflage. Players may also acquire Haida: Maple Leaf camouflage as an aesthetic swap. Both types provide: 50% bonus experience gains 10% reduction to maintenance costs 3% reduction in surface detection 4% reduction in enemy accuracy. Haida's optional Maple Leaf camouflage. This is camouflage is simply cosmetic and provides the same bonuses as her default camouflage. Haida joins Texas and Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya with awesome, over-the-top patriotic camo. Hinterland Who's Who: Haida Beaver Haida-Beaver is a passive, inexperienced destroyer player. Timid, her concealment & consumables are used as a security blanket and solely to keep her safe. Haida-Beaver sits within the sanctum of her pond (built from hydro and smoke) and hides from any and all threats. She might venture out and do a little bit of damage, but it's all done at range. This is about as exciting as Molson Canadian beer. You can expect to see her on the second line or off at the extremes of the map border, well away from predators. She'll only venture as close as needed to drop torpedoes or fire her guns and then quickly scurry away. Her success will be limited, like a border humping Shimakaze. Firepower Main Battery: Six 120mm/45 rifles in 3x2 turrets in an A-B-Y superfiring configuration. Secondary Battery: Two 102mm/45 rifles in 1x2 turrets mounted where X-turret from the main battery would be located. Torpedoes: Four torpedo tubes in 1x4 launchers mounted amidships. Balancing the Tribal-class destroyers for World of Warships was never going to be easy. The 120mm/45 guns aren't exactly known for their incredible striking power, rate of fire or their excellent ballistic qualities. Similarly, being limited to a single torpedo launcher greatly hinders Haida's damage potential. She has the worst weapon arrangement of any of the tier VII destroyers. These are not easy weapons to use and played improperly, some will struggle to see reasonable damage output. The Guns The single biggest disappointment I have with Haida's weapon systems are her uninspiring AP shells. For small caliber guns, AP shells are important against larger and more heavily armoured targets that are capable of shrugging off their HE damage entirely. Poor energy retention saps the penetration power of Haida's AP over distance, creating a very limited window at which this ammunition can be used effectively. Even slight angling by larger targets will foil their damage attempts. Among the tier VII destroyers, Haida's 120mm AP shells have the worst penetration values outside of 9km, being overtaken by the 128mm German AP. This issue of penetration is compounded by the low damage Haida's AP shells do when compared to her HE. There's only 200 hit points difference between them -- when factoring in for 0.33x multiplier of a penetrating hit, this disparity drops down to just 66 hit points. Given the unreliability of AP shells between overpenetrating hits and ricochets, Haida's AP is only worth firing if one of two conditions are met: Her HE shells must be completely incapable of damaging a given target, or... Her AP shells must be capable of delivering citadel damage. In all other cases, firing HE is superior given the bonus chance of starting fires and the resulting module damage that can occur from the blast of HE shells. This is owing not only to the deficiencies of Haida's AP shells, but the strengths of her HE. Whatever lamentations I have about Haida's AP shells are largely corrected with her HE. These munitions are not without their issues, but I'm of the opinion that their strengths far outweigh their deficiencies. Haida's core strength lies in the striking power of her HE shells. Her HE shells are listed with a maximum damage of 1,900 per hit, the same as Soviet 130mm rifles. Accounting for penetration damage, each of her hits will strike for 627hp, giving her a broadside alpha strike of up to 3,762 damage per volley. This is the second largest alpha strike at her tier, just behind Blyskawica's own 3,927hp if she hits with all seven of her guns. Haida has a faster reload than her Polish-twin, though, and she unleashes the highest damage per minute of any of the tier VII destroyers, outstripping even the B-Hull Mahan's five, rapid-fire 127mm/38s. She's fully capable of out-trading any of her contemporaries and can even make higher tiered lolitbotes balk at the power of her bite. DPM of the destroyer-caliber tier VII gunships. Haida has got it where it counts but it's one Hell of a close race. I must emphasize that this is limited to soft targets, however. The small caliber of Haida's HE shells leads to penetration issues. Stock, she may only directly damage areas of 19mm or less, which thankfully accounts for all destroyers and the superstructures of larger ships within her Matchmaking. This also includes most cruisers at tier VII or less, though thicker hull plating begins to appear around tier VI for some of the heavy cruisers. By tier VIII+ only British light cruisers remain vulnerable. For battleships, the range of targets is considerably smaller, with only tier V battleships having extremities she can punish. Taking Inertial Fuse for HE Shells broadens the number of targets she can damage, but it by no means is a cure all. The skill increases her penetration to be able to damage areas of 25mm or less. This provides no benefit for engaging enemy destroyers whatsoever. It adds a handful of cruisers to her list of available targets and all of the tier VI and VII battleships as well. However, Haida can not directly damage the extremities of battleships nor the hulls of American and German heavy cruisers at tier VIII or higher. Against these targets, she's limited to dealing direct damage to superstructures and these areas saturate quickly. Haida must switch to her torpedoes or AP shells to hurt these more heavily armoured behemoths. She's not likely to hurt them with fire. She's a poor fire starter. Her fire chance will fluctuate based on skill choice with as low as 4% per shell and as high as 8% with a combination of Demolition Expert and the two fire-chance increasing signals. This pales behind the 7% to 11% on ships like Blyskawica and Gadjah Mada. Destroyers already struggle to stack fires effectively and Haida is unlikely to tax an opponent's Damage Control Party with the blazes she sets. This makes Inertial Fuse for HE Shells more valuable in my opinion -- better to play to her strengths rather than attempt to prop up a weakness. Haida's strength resides in delivering these meaty hits with her HE shells, bringing all six guns to bear and chewing on their hides. Fires per Minute of Tier VII Destroyers before mitigation from the target is applied. "Upgraded" includes the use of Basic Fire Training, Demolition Expert and both fire boosting signals. Haida is never going to be considered a "good" fire starter. You can invest heavily into increasing her chances to set blazes if you wish, but you're unlikely to make more than a single fire stick per minute on an enemy battleship. Note the extreme difference between Haida's fire starting and Gadjah Mada's. They both use the same 120mm/45 guns but Haida uses a modified HE shell with increased damage at the cost of reduced fire chance. This will turn a lot of players away. The Tribal-class destroyers do not have particularly good firing arcs, which necessitates presenting more of a broadside to engage with all three of her turrets. The strengths and flexibility of the ship's gun coverage was supposed to reside in their B and X turrets. With X-turret removed to make room for a 102mm dual-purpose secondary, this leaves all of the heavy lifting on B's shoulders. Thankfully, they're a broad set of shoulders. Not only does B-turret boast great fire angles , but it can also rotate 360º, giving faster coverage from left to right while Haida is sailing evasive on the retreat. This is good news given the modest 10º/s rotation rate of her weapons. In most engagements, Haida will be able to easily bring four of her guns to bear, but you have to give up a lot of side to fire her Y-turret and that's necessary to really capitalize on this ship's strengths. Of course, stacking said damage presents more of a challenge than it should. Other than her fire arcs, Haida has poor shell ballistics. Up to 7km ranges, they're comparable to American 127mm/38s. I'm aware this isn't a flattering comparison given the flaws of American destroyer-caliber guns. Unfortunately, things get worse after that. British 120mm/45s have worse shell flight times than the Yanks. Seriously. These aren't weapons you'll want to stack Advanced Fire Training on. The shell flight time over distance is just too punitive to land hits against anything further out than 9km. So let's recap: The fire arcs on her main battery are not great. Her shell ballistics for HE and AP are terrible. She has bad AP penetration. The small caliber of her HE shells makes her HE penetration bad too. Her HE shells have a terrible fire chance. Her HE shells hit like a truck, however. Haida can out trade just about any destroyer she comes across, provided you can land the hits. Success with Haida as a gunship thus resides in emphasizing the accuracy and frequency of her HE hits against vulnerable targets and switching over to AP only when citadel opportunities arise. In both of these cases, this clearly involves getting in close -- dangerously so. These are knife-fighting ranges and Haida's artillery would seem to point that she should specialize towards hunting and engaging enemy destroyers, with cruisers and battleships as targets of opportunity. This premise is largely reinforced by her torpedo armament. The Fish Haida only has a single torpedo launcher. You can forget any pretense of playing this destroyer as a torpedo-boat for obvious reasons. While having a quadruple launcher is nice, it also comes with the downside of a downright painful 96 second reload. These two traits combined with a mediocre range of 8km may make her torpedoes seem like a complete write-off but they're not without some very strong merits. When compared to work-in-progress Royal Navy destroyer torpedoes, Haida's fish look amazing being comparable in performance to those off the tier X Daring-class in all aspects but range. Haida's torpedoes individually hit almost as hard as Shiratusyu's and Akatsuki's torpedoes. At 16,767 damage per hit and a 282% base flooding chance, Haida can devour large chunks of the enemy hit points with just a couple of strikes. This sits just behind the 17,233 damage and 287% flooding chance of the IJN fish. Haida is fully capable of one-shotting many of the destroyers she faces with a single torpedo. Haida's torpedoes have a 62 knot speed. They close the distance quickly and are on par with the IJN torpedoes at her tier. Haida's torpedoes are an improvement on the Japanese fish, though, with 200m less detectability and 1.2s less reaction time at 8.4s. Haida may single fire her torpedoes. Admittedly this is very difficult to exploit to its fullest. The potential on paper is devastating. In theory, it should allow you to guarantee more hits per launch when precisely aimed. Similarly, it opens the possibility of stacking flood effects to tax and overwhelm the Damage Control Party of enemy vessels provided you can space the time between hits. Finally, it can be used to bait ships into believing you're out of torpedoes when they dodge the first torpedo only to be caught out when they manoeuvre by the other three. However, these techniques are locked behind a very high skill wall barring the incompetence of your opponents. Make no mistake, while there is a lot of potency in Haida's single torpedo mount, it's not easy to use. I didn't forget about Haida's secondary. The British 102mm/45 is a great mid-tier backup weapon. Its high rate of fire is wonderful and it has a better fire chance that Haida's primary battery. There's the added bonus having great fields of fire, so it's very easy to bring it in on a fight. There are two problems with it, though. The first, it's linked to Haida's AA guns. Enabling one enables the other and with a long reach, this can give Haida's position away prematurely which can get you killed. Second, Haida's secondary is very short ranged -- a mere 4.0km. You're going to have to get in stupidly close to make this work for you, or you're going to have to give up on more advantageous skills and upgrades. In playtesting, I did manage to sink two ships with Haida's stock-secondary, so it's not useless. Like all of Haida's weapon systems, it's simply awkward to use. Summary Trying to deal damage at range will yield poor results. Haida is a knife-fighter. Get her in close. If you haven't yet learned how to stack damage with single-fire torpedoes, now is the time. She has a secondary. Sometimes it will kill stuff. Make sure to brag about it when you do. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : On the whole, Haida's weapon systems are the worst at tier VII. It's not by much. Sims and Minsk are similarly lacking. Hinterland Who's Who: Haida Moose Dangerous when crossed, the Haida-Moose is one that plays the role of a forward scout. Her Smoke Generator and Hydroacoustic Search are used defensively but she places herself up on the front lines to make sure her team has vision for as much time as possible. She prefers to keep enemies at arm's reach. If startled, Haida-moose may charge unexpectedly and can be devastating in these limited encounters. However, she's skittish and is just as likely to flee. Her suicidal bull charges are just as dangerous to Haida-Moose herself as the vehicle their opponents are driving. Haida-Moose will win more often, but no more so than any other destroyer. Haida-Moose's contributions to her team are unpredictable and caution should be exercised whenever you encounter one. Defense Hit Points: 15,700hp Minimum Extremities & Deck Armour: 16mm bow and rear quarter and 19mm stern, sides & deck. It's hella weird. See below. Normally for destroyers, the only thing worth talking about is their relative hit point total to one another. Haida comes out alright here. She ranks third overall for hit points among the tier VII DDs which is pretty impressive, what with Z-39 and Leberecht Maass to compete against. Clearly, Haida has been eating too much poutine. The healthy slug of hit points Haida boasts further improves her ability to out-trade enemy destroyers with her high HE DPM. But there's a further oddity with her armour layout. Large areas of Haida's hull and her entire deck are 19mm thick. This can provide some limited amount of defense against small caliber (114mm or less) HE shells, particularly those fired from battleship secondaries. Finally, the vulnerability of her main battery is worth mentioning. Without Main Armaments Modification 1 or Preventative Maintenance, you can expect Haida's main battery guns to be knocked out frequently. Like Blyskawica, her guns mounts are not fully enclosed turrets. Her gun shields are a mere 6mm thick with open backs. It is not uncommon for high explosive shells to disable one or multiple turrets in an engagement. For a destroyer who is reliant upon winning DPM races at close quarters, this can be crippling. Choose your skills and upgrades with this in mind. Hit point totals of tier VII destroyers. For a gunship, Haida is very well setup to bully other tier VII ships. It's only the Germans that outweigh her in this regard, but she easily caps them in damage per minute totals when firing HE shells. Angling will be key for besting their high AP shell damage. Make sure you take Survivability Expert to further boost your hit point totals. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : Haida's already close here, but to top German DDs she's going to need much thicker armour, a bloated hit point pool or access to a Repair Party. Agility Top Speed: 36.5kts Turning Radius: 630m Rudder Shift Time: 3.8s Maximum Rate of Turn: 7.5º/s There's a whole lot of "meh" here. Haida's top speed is alright. It's not great, though -- not in a tier populated by the likes of the Leningrad-class (43 knots), Blyskawica (39 knots) and Sims (38.5 knots). Haida is more reliant upon her concealment rather than her flat out speed to control engagement distances. In a running battle, she's at a disadvantage. She's also pretty lackluster with her turning radius. At 630m, you're going to need some advance warning when enemy fish are on their way. You're also going to need a bit of distance from enemy cruisers and battleships in order to dodge effectively. Keep this in mind. Her overall rate of turn is on the low side. Haida's not going to win any prizes for agility. She's comparable to Leberecht Maass in overall agility which isn't a very flattering. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : Yeah, this isn't going to happen. It's only thanks to Shiratsuyu and Z-39 that she comes away with a rating at all. Hinterland Who's Who: Haida Wolverine Small and scrappy, Haida-Wolverine challenges cap-circle dominance and is eager to fight with other destroyers. Though a solitary hunter, she's a team player and she uses her consumables to get the upper hand when contesting caps and to ensure the enemy never gets the drop on her friends. Haida-Wolverine is looking for a close-range brawl and she's going to use her concealment value to get it. At this tier, you can expect to see her smoke being used more aggressively rather than just an escape tool. Spotting her in a cap circle won't cause her to immediately flee and you're going to have to dig her out with planes, radar or focused fire. Expect some clever use of her consumables and good coordination with team mates. Haida will win a lot more once you're comfortably at this level. Anti-Aircraft Defense AA Battery Calibers: 102mm / 40mm / 20mm AA Umbrella Ranges: 5.0km / 2.5km / 2.0km AA DPS per Aura: 9.4 / 13 / 36.6 I wish I could just say that Haida's anti-aircraft firepower sucks and be done with it, but there's one more point to cover. Disabling Haida's AA firepower to keep her from being prematurely spotted by aircraft also disables her secondary. Not cool. Haida's AA defense is pretty shoddy, but she's in good company at tier VII. Evaluation: What it would have needed to be : Not a whole lot. Tier VII AA power is pretty shoddy and no one really pays it much mind anyway. Just showing up with a specialized AA build alone would make her better than most of her contemporaries, but that's true for any of the DDs. Moving on. Refrigerator Base Surface Detection Range (stock/min): 6.49km / 5.67km Air Detection Range (stock/min): 3.90km / 3.51km Detection Range when Firing from Smoke: 2.31km Main Battery Firing Range: 12.3km Detection Consumables: Smoke Generator / Hydroacoustic Search Haida has the best surface detection of any of the tier VII destroyers. It's not even a close contest. Her surface detection is so low, it almost appears that she has the Concealment Modification 1 upgrade built in (we'll see what happens with HMS Cossack!). It's only when Haida is compared to ships at this higher tier that her surface detection appears almost normal. In fact, out of all of the ships she may encounter, Haida ranks 12th out of some 50 rival destroyers for best concealment. Those that out-spot her are primarily IJN destroyers. Few of these destroyers present any kind of threat to Haida. Generally speaking, Haida can outfight anything that out-spots her and she can outspot anything that could be considered a threat, giving her the opportunity to control the engagement. Ten Best Upgraded Concealment Values Between Tiers 5 & 9 5.37km - Kagero (8), Asashio (8) & Harekaze (8) 5.41km - Fujin (5), Kamikaze R (5), Kamikaze (5), Minekaze (5), Mutsuki (5) 5.44km - Yugumo (9) 5.66km - Okhotnik (5) & Chung Mu (9) 5.67km - Haida (7) 5.80km - Benson (8), Loyang (8), Hsienyang (8), Fletcher (9), Black (9) 5.81km - Nicholas (5), Hatsuharu (6), Shiratsuyu (7) 5.94km - Akizuki (8), Z-46 (9) 5.97km - Jianwei (5), Gallant (6) 6.08km - Ognevoi (8) Smoke Generator As good as her surface detection is there will be times where she has to reach for her Smoke Generator. And here's where Haida gets weird. For a destroyer, Haida is unique, deploying the same "creeping smoke" as HMAS Perth or Huanghe. This consumable constantly deploys smoke for one minute and thirty seconds (or up to one minute and forty-seven seconds with the Smoke Generator Modification 1 special upgrade). However, each smoke cloud disappears in ten seconds (nine and a half with the special upgrade). This allows Haida to remain mobile. In order to stay hidden, Haida must maintain a speed of 12.5 knots or less. Haida moves at between 9.0 and 10.4 knots at 1/4 speed, with the latter value being from a combination of a Sierra Mike signal and her Engine Boost consumable. You can flutter the engines up to 1/2 power for brief intervals to get a little more thrust, just be careful not to exceed the 12.5 knots. Combined with her Hydroacoustic Search, while moving in smoke, Haida trivializes the dangers of incoming torpedoes. Haida's smoke is very selfish. She lacks on team play as she cannot effectively cover allies with her consumable without a high degree of coordination. This isn't something I would expect most friendly players encountered in Random or Ranked Battles to know how to do, especially in the heat of combat. Poor understanding of Haida's consumable will only get her allies killed that presumptuously attempt to rely on it in a moment of crisis. It is possible for Haida to provide cover. There are three ways to do it: The ship needs to synch their speed with Haida and sail in close proximity. Haida needs to call out her speed and announce any course corrections. This is best done in division over voice coms. Haida sails in front of a larger ship that needs cover while both ships move at high speed. Haida herself will not be concealed in smoke -- constantly outrunning it, but the friendly ship will be. Both ships park their butt in what amounts to a single puff of continually reissued smoke. Mind those incoming torpedoes. Haida's mobility with her smoke is very welcome in situations where the battle progresses and you need to redeploy. Haida can accelerate out of her smoke and bring it with her, allowing her to setup in a second location and continue making aggressive plays. The catch is that even when she's not spotted, Haida broadcasts her position. The palls of moving smoke are hard to miss. You cannot count on taking anyone but the most distracted players unawares this way. Speaking of awareness... Hydroacoustic Search Haida is the first ship to be released with what appears to be the new Royal Navy destroyer Hydroacoustic Search consumable. Haida was the test-bed for this new consumable and it's proven to be quite powerful. At first blush, it doesn't look like it, though. The range appears too short to be used offensively and like her Smoke Generator, Haida's Hydroacoustic Search appears very selfish, being only able to spot torpedoes in her immediate vicinity. However, the duration of this consumable more than makes up for any lack of range, providing Haida (and her team) with increased situational awareness. This facilitates Haida's presence up on the front lines. The longer she can remain there confidently, the more her team benefits. Her torpedo detection may seem small, but it provides Haida with all of the time she needs to manoeuvre. The 2.13km range can be modified with Vigilance if a player desires, bringing her torpedo detection range up to 2.66km. For a destroyer, none of these values present much in the way of concern. Short of point blank drops (aerial or otherwise), Haida should have no problems avoiding torpedoes in any given situation so long as her Hydroacoustic Search is running. If she's upgraded with Hydracoustic Search Modification 1, the run time of her consumable is three minutes and forty-six seconds which is an enormous window of relative immunity to torpedo attack. However, there's one more way of putting Haida's Hydroacoustic Search to use -- and that's on the attack. While her Hydroacoustic Search picks up enemy vessels just 1.12km beyond standard auto-detection range, this buffer is more than enough for Haida to abuse. Whether its creeping up on enemies hiding in their own smoke or slipping into range with her own, Haida is stealthy enough to pull it off. What's more, her guns have a tiny stealth bloom in smoke of 2.31km, giving Haida 800m of stealth-firing window to begin hammering targets without being seen in return. For a destroyer with such a high DPM, this is often all that's needed to doom an enemy DD (or a low health cruiser). With the long duration of Haida's Hydroacoustic Search, these attacks don't need to be rushed. You can take your time ensuring you get the proper setup, outlasting enemy Surveillance Radar or even German destroyer Hydroacoustic Search, letting you take them unawares. Crappy Weapons, God Tier Concealment Haida's excellent Vision Control largely explains why her weapon systems are of poor quality. Were her guns or torpedoes any better, she'd be overpowered. Seriously. Summary: Her Smoke Generator is selfish, but it's at least very flexible. Her Hydroacoustic Search's duration is its best feature. It's amazingly comfortable. Haida is stealthy as all get out.. She has no right being this sneaky, especially when firing her guns from smoke. Evaluation: What would have to happen to DOWNGRADE to : The only way Haida is giving up her crown here would be if another destroyer was added with similar concealment levels with American-style smoke and either Surveillance Radar or a cruiser's Hydroacoustic Search. They'd have to downtier Loyang. Hinterland Who's Who: Haida Cobra-Chicken Psychotically aggressive with seemingly little to no sense of self-preservation. Haida Cobra-Chicken will wreck you and poop on your corpse. Unlike the reckless bull-charge of Haida-Moose, Haida Cobra-Chicken's hatred for you is calculated despite appearances. You can think you're safe, hiding in smoke or behind cover, but she'll come and get you. She'll come and get you and you won't see her coming until she's hissing in your face. She doesn't care if you're a destroyer or HMS Belfast. God help you if she migrates into the cap you're contesting. The existence of any enemies on her territory is met with extreme aggression until they're dead or driven off. Haida Cobra-Chicken will abuse her concealment to make seemingly reckless plays to pick off enemies at point blank ranges. She'll knife fight not only with destroyers but cruisers and battleships when opportunities arise. Most of her kills will happen inside of 4km ranges and you'd never expect this level of aggression from something so derpy looking. Enemy radar and hydro is only a temporary deterrent and, like an aggressively swung umbrella, it can only keep enemies safe for so long. Her consumables are used to close the distance unseen, abusing vision to bring hot, poutine-flavoured death to people who dismissed her out of hand. She'll then make her escape to go back to nesting upon her cap circle until the next fool trespasses on what's rightfully hers. The test environment for Haida was about as nightmarish as it gets. All of her balance testing was done amidst the release of the American cruiser line. It was not uncommon for between one third to half of the enemy team having access to Surveillance Radar. If Haida could thrive in that environment, she can make it anywhere. A DeWolf in Sheep's Clothing Haida is a skill-hungry ship. You're going to feel starved for skill points, with so many viable and competitive choices, you're going to feel stretched thin. I played several different builds over the course of play testing and it's the one below that I found worked best for me. Start with Priority Target. This lets you know when it's time to get out of Dodge. Next take the no-brainer, Last Stand at tier two. At tier 3, take Survivabiliy Expert to increase your hit point total. This saved me more times than I care to admit. And then move up to tier 4 to take Concealment Expert. Cuz, duh. From here, it comes down to improving the quality and quantity of her HE direct damage. Basic Fire Training comes first. Haida primarily picks on destroyers and this will help ensure her dominance. Inertial Fuse for HE Shells will facilitate doing direct damage to cruisers and battleships. And finally Adrenaline Rush will further increase her DPM. There are lots of other viable skills, but they are, in my opinion, less worth while than the ones selected. Still, I highlighted skills that are reasonable substitutions. Here's why they didn't make my cut: I value information more than I do a better RNGesus roll. So Preventative Maintenance is less valuable to me than Priority Target. Haida can't out turn her turrets, so Expert Marksman is more for comfort than a necessity. Smoke Screen Expert can be a viable choice if you plan to division often with Haida. This will help your allies cuddle in your smoke screen. Haida doesn't set fires well. Demolition Expert can help pad her up to Sims-levels of fire starting, but it's bit of a waste. Vigilance is a good skill if you intend to division often. It also has some value in competitive for team play. Radio Location isn't really necessary if you focus on dominating capture points. Eventually they'll have to come to you. Besides, Haida isn't quite fast enough to put this to the best use. ... and finally... If you have access to the special upgrades for smoke and hydro, then Superintendent isn't necessary. Most games will end by the time you've used 3 charges. Still, for those marathon, nail-biter games, this could be nice to have. So get those special upgrades. Spend that coal! Final Evaluation I have been horribly stressed while following the development of Haida. It was really hard not to let bias take over my wants and wishes for Haida. I'm Canadian. Haida is my ship. It's likely the only Canadian vessel I'm ever going to see in World of Warships. I wanted her to be good. Worse, I recognized that I wanted her to be perceived as a good ship. I was excited about her. I wanted others to be excited along with me, even if I understood this was foolish and damaging to any review I might do. More than anything else, I feared Haida would end up bland and uninteresting. I could stomach her underperforming. If she was fun to play, I could forgive a lot. As someone who writes reviews, this is incredibly dangerous and I hope I've been successful in reigning this in. If you feel yourself cautious about this ship based on this review, then I've been successful. If you're overcome by hype, please, please, please, stop reading this and go find another review of Haida before your money explodes recklessly out of your wallet and into Wargaming's coffers. Haida that we've been given is a destroyer-hunter. She specializes in close-range knife fights where her high damage output overwhelms her opponents in short order. Contrary to American destroyers, she doesn't do this grace of excellent gun handling, phenomenal fire arcs and fast-firing weapons. Instead she relies on stealth to get in close, mitigating the weaknesses of her poor arcs and shell flight times to deliver several high damage hits before her opponent can react. If a fight opens up at range, she can still maintain a DPM advantage over select lolibotes, but her superiority falls away quickly. It's ill advised to attempt to pursue all but the most badly damaged vessels. Her ideal engagement distances are within 7km and she can be absolutely devastating at closer ranges. I cannot stress this enough: Haida's ideal engagement range is at distances that would be suicide to any other vessel. What is most remarkable about her is that she not only pulls it off, she excels in this environment.With her tiny surface detection, her access to a weird creeping Smoke Generator and an even weirder Hydroacoustic Search, she is well suited to not only closing into these ranges and engaging the enemies, but doing so without giving herself away. These close-range engagements are key to her success and not just with enemy destroyers. The closer you are, the easier it is to land hits, not only with her guns but with torpedoes too. Though Haida is limited to just a single torpedo-launcher, her individual fish are incredibly hard hitting. Haida deals nearly as much damage with her four torpedoes as Sims does with eight. Haida lacks the overwhelming alpha strike normally associated with close-range torpedo attacks, however. You can't count on being able to land Devastating Strike on capital ships. There's little chance of her ever nuking anything but a lower-tier battleship down from full health short of a lucky detonation. Thus attempts at these suicide rushes will, at best, cripple a target and leave you open to reprisals. This does work devastatingly well against cruisers, however, provided you can survive the gamut of Hydroacoustic Search and Surveillance Radar pickets that will be trying to sniff you out. Haida is a weird destroyer, borrowing elements from Kidd, Loyang and Perth with just enough Fujin in there to make you blink. I have found Haida to be a wonderful fit for me and I played the absolute Hell out of her during testing with over 150 games in her final iteration. But therein, I must stress caution. I remember my first dozen games played and it was a steep learning curve. Haida and I fought one another until things clicked and I didn't like her during this learning period. For some of the other testers I've spoken to, this kind of connection never happened. Enjoyment in Haida remained elusive for them and it could happen to you too. Your own mileage can (and will inevitably) vary. Would I Recommend? I suspect Haida will be a source of frustration for many players. This will come from three distinct areas. Players that want to like her but can't make her work for them. I sympathize, really. She's not an easy destroyer to play. I suspect there will be a number of people that pick her up, hit the wall and relegate this ship to a port queen. Players that end up with a Haida on their team that doesn't push. For a ship with so many tools available to facilitate contesting capture points and spotting, few things will be as more infuriating as seeing a Haida that plays passively and hides in the back in their own smoke. Players that end up with a well-played Haida on the enemy team. This is the only thing that's going to be worse than a bad Haida on your team is a good one on the enemy team. While the skill floor is high on Haida, in the right hands she's an absolute monster. She's well set up to bait radar, survive and then double back and do all sorts of mean things to your team. Without coordination and/or aggression, putting her down is difficult. It's not going to be fun watching your destroyers melt to preventable losses like sitting in their own smoke. It pays to keep Haida's strengths in mind -- she is not an easy destroyer to play. Please don't take just my word for it. Check out some of the other reviews on HMCS Haida before taking the plunge. PVE Battles How well does the ship maintain profitability in Co-Op modes and how does she fare against bots? No. Haida doesn't have the raw alpha strike needed to contend with charging bots in Co-Op. You can make her work, but you'd be much better suited with Leningrad, Sims, Blyskawica, Z-39 or any of the tech tree ships. Random Battle Grinding:This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements. Yes. In the chaos of Random Battles, Haida shines. She'll earn you lots of credits and experience. There are two downsides to keep in mind, though. There's no Commonwealth tech tree and there's never likely to be any Commonwealth tech tree. Haida has very little utility as a trainer until you max her commander to 19 skill points and farm elite commander XP which can then be distributed elsewhere as needed. She's not easy to use. While a given players' mileage will vary, Haida can seem very lackluster to those unwilling or unable to play aggressively. For Competitive Gaming:Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding. Yes. Haida is well suited to Ranked Battles where destroyer duels and selfish plays are heavily rewarded. She will struggle towards the end-game of matches, however, when there are just larger ships left. For Collectors:If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you. Yes. Haida is a ship steeped in history having seen a lot of combat in WW2 and Korea. In addition, she's a museum ship. She's the last of the surviving Tribal-class destroyers and the first Tribal-class and first Canadian vessel added to World of Warships. For Fun Factor: Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play? Yes. I love this ship. 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 I owe a lot of thanks yous for this one. Chobittsu went above and beyond helping provide artwork for this review. Many of my Canadian readers stepped forward with suggestions and support, eagerly anticipating this review. Finally, Pigeon_of_War at Wargaming has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to help make HMCS Haida a reality. He has been wonderful for listening attentively to feedback from the North American community regarding including Haida in World of Warships. On a more personal note, he's been very attentive at addressing my concerns about this ship during its development. I can't thank him enough. And that's it! I'm done! Haida's published and Hell-month is over. I've been working non-stop since mid-May on reviews. Thunderer, Kronshtadt, Monaghan, Salem, Massachusetts and now Haida -- six weeks straight of reviews with little more than a couple days off. I can finally breathe and enjoy summer. I dunno when the next review will be -- probably not for a fortnight. If you're looking for me, I'll be pool side, soaking up some summer sun before the Canadian snows come again on Tuesday. Thank you all for reading. If you enjoy my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon. P.S. There's no codes or clues in this review! Spare your eyes!  Appendix A list of sites, programs and people I rely upon to create my reviews.
  7. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review - Congress

    The following is a review of Congress, the tier VIII American Large Cruiser. This ship was provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes at no cost to myself. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as of patch 0.10.9. Please be aware that her performance may change in the future. I'm approaching this review a little differently. I want to examine Congress the way an experienced player might; one that followed the quick descriptions made about her around the time of her development. Namely: "Congress is a tier VIII Alaska with two fewer gun barrels." I want to explore how close this kind of shorthand is and if it actually reflects how Congress plays. To this end, I will be directly comparing Congress to Alaska; a ship that has since been retired for "too much battle influence" (or too much popularity). For someone fearing of missing out, knowing Alaska's fate (and that of most large cruiser premiums in World of Warships), Congress might not be available forever. So let's get stuck in. PROS Congress has the largest hit point pool of the tier VIII cruisers. Access to a Repair Party. Excellent armour protection for a cruiser with 229mm belt, 27mm extremities and 36mm thick deck. Excellent AP performance, including good penetration and improved auto-ricochet angles. Good accuracy with battlecruiser dispersion and 2.05 sigma. Good anti-aircraft firepower. Access to Surveillance Radar. CONS Fires burn for a full 60 seconds. Main battery only consists of seven guns, making bad RNG feel a lot more punitive. Floaty ballistics at long range. Poor damage output and fire setting. Bad rearward firing angles. Sluggish handling and poor overall agility. Bad concealment. Overview Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / CHALLENGING / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme Wargaming really missed the mark when designing Congress. She struggles to win any of the fights she picks. While she is tough for a cruiser, she's not battleship tough. For a new player, this means low-damage games or quick returns to port. Sometimes both. The real damning element here is her reload time and the small number of gun barrels. She punishes bad aim and bad RNG can punish even well aimed shots. For a ship that struggles to put out the damage, this is the kind of thing that quickly erodes player confidence. For someone inexperienced with the game, Congress is setup to frustrate rather than delight enterprising players. For veterans, Congress' durability is more exploitable. Similarly, her vision control, grace of her consumables, can turn key moments in game play. Finally, the improved auto-ricochet angles on her AP rounds is also something that can be exploited. However, the small number of guns limits this last influence considerably. There's some carry potential here, mostly in a team-comp setting where being able to bring a radar with heals matters. Options There are a few differences to note between Alaska and Congress here, but they're both very influential. The most notable is that Alaska has access to the 6th upgrade slot while Congress does not. The second is a modification to her Repair Party consumable, with Congress having one fewer charge than Alaska. Third, if you take her Catapult Fighter, Congress launches 3 aircraft instead of Alaska's 4. I've highlighted these differences in purple. Consumables At a glance, Alaska and Congress have the same consumables, but there are some slight differences between the options available to the two ships. Congress's Damage Control Party is standard for a cruiser. It has a 60s reset timer with a 5 second active period and unlimited charges. You have two choices for her second slot. Defensive AA Fire provides a 50% sustained DPS increase for 40 seconds along with quadruple flak burst damage. This has an 80s reset timer. Congress receives the American cruiser bonus with this consumable, starting with four charges instead of three. Hydroacoustic Search detects torpedoes at 3.5km and enemy ships at 5.0km. This has a 100s active period and a 120s reset timer. It comes with three charges base. Her third slot presents the choice of three options: Her Surveillance Radar has a 10km range, a 35s active period and a 120s reset timer. It comes with three charges. Her Catapult Fighter launches 3 planes. The aircraft remain active and on station for 60s at a range of 3km. It has a 90s reset timer and three charges base. Finally, her Spotter Aircraft increases her firing range by 20% for 100s (to 21km). This has a 240s reset timer and comes with four charges base. Finally, Congress' has a Repair Party. This comes with two charges base. Each charge queues up to 50% of penetration damage and 10% of citadel damage. She heals up to 14% of her health over 28 seconds with an 80 second reset timer. Upgrades There's a lot to cover here, including multiple Special Upgrades which can be purchased through Armory for 17,000. Remember that Alaska can take the sixth upgrade slots while Congress is limited to these five. Otherwise, their choices of upgrades are identical in the current meta. For your first slot: Main Armaments Modification 1 is arguably your best choice to help keep your guns in the game longer. However, there are some choices (and I can't believe I'm about to suggest the following): Given the extra burden being placed on Congress' Damage Control Party with the unmitigated disaster that is submarine implementation at the moment, there's a good argument to be made for taking the special upgrade, Damage Control Party Modification 1. I don't feel this is optimal but I would be remiss not to suggest it given the careful timing needed to kill torpedo guidance on top of Congress' vulnerability to fire. Finally, extra range makes this ship easier to play, so the special upgrade, Spotting Aircraft Modification 1 is worth mentioning. Alaska is unlikely to take this mod given her improved gunnery range over Congress. For your second slot, it's again a glut of choice. The special upgrade Surveillance Radar Modification 1 is arguably best. This is closely followed by Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 which is also a special upgrade. Taking this precludes you from using her Defensive AA Fire consumable, though (not a terrible loss, admittedly). Finally, if you cannot afford either, default to Damage Control System Modification 1. In your third slot, things calm down considerably. Aiming System Modification 1 is your best choice, hands down. Like, it's not even close. However, if you hate slow turret traverse rates and find yourself losing out on damage because of how much time you spend waiting for turrets to catch up, then there's a case to be made for Main Battery Modification 2. In your fourth slot, we're back to a glut of choice. Damage Control System Modification 2 will help reduce the damage over time effects from fires and floods. Steering Gears Modification 1 is my preferred choice as it helps avoid damage in the first place. However, I don't think that she mathematically exceeds the efficiency of DCSM2 by much, if at all. Finally, there's a VERY strong case to be made for Propulsion System Modification 1 in the current submarine-meta. Island camping is the best way to avoid torpedoes and fast acceleration throws off their tracking considerably. In your fifth slot: Concealment System Modification 1 is best. There's a case to be made for Steering Gears Modification 2 as an option, particularly when paired with the same upgrade in slot four. Alaska has a sixth slot. Congress does not. Camouflage The main difference here is that Alaska has tier IX permanent camo with improved economic gains. Congress's camo provides the usual tier VIII bonuses: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -10% to post-battle service costs. Alaska receives -20%. +50% to experience gains. Alaska receives +100%. Congress comes with the dark blue camo scheme. You can unlock the (much better looking) pale grey version through completing the 5th tab of the American Cruiser Collection. Differences in Options The biggest difference between Alaska and Congress is one of tiering. Being a higher tier, Alaska has more upgrade options and better camouflage. The only other differences of note are with their consumables, with one being minor (one fewer aircraft for their catapult fighter squadrons) and one major (Congress receiving one fewer charges of her Repair Party than Alaska). To me, only the Repair Party disparity really stands out as something somewhat unexpected for a tier VIII version of Alaska but it's easy enough to justify if the ship was too survivable at her tier. We'll have to keep this difference in mind for the Durability section below. Firepower Main Battery: Seven 305mm/50 guns spread between three turrets in an A-B-X superfiring configuration with the guns laid out in a 2-3-2 pattern. Secondary Battery: Twelve 127mm/38 guns in 6x2 turrets with one superfiring forward over the main battery forward, one superfiring aft and the other four divided evenly along the sides. Congress has the same AP penetration values as Puerto Rico and Alaska. For a large cruiser, her AP penetration is decent, but not top of the line. The 305mm/50 guns found on Congress, Alaska and Puerto Rico are excellent weapons. Their AP shells boast improved auto-ricochet angles, akin to the "American Piercing" shells found upon their heavy cruisers. They do not begin checking for ricochet until they strike a plate angled 60º from the perpendicular as opposed to 45º for most AP rounds. They are not guaranteed to ricochet until they hit a plate 67.5º from the perpendicular instead of 60º. This almost (ALMOST) makes their AP shells the only ammunition you need to have loaded. However, there are still many instances where their HE shells are still necessary. Anything other than very light and some lower tiered cruisers and destroyers can bow-in an auto-ricochet their AP rounds. You'll want HE shells against the lolibotes because they only take 10% damage from penetrating battleship calibre AP rounds (and these shells certainly qualify). Obviously the biggest difference between Congress' armament and that of Alaska is the number of guns. But there are three other differences of note. The first is something minor. Congress' X turret has better fire angles than Alaska. She's capable of maintaining auto-ricochet angles on her hull while still engaging targets which is REALLY nice but ultimately not game changing. While this will allow her to (partially) bully 381mm armed battleships and large cruisers, there's a glut of battleships that can overmatch her 27mm snoot. And it's not like those extra few degrees are inaccessible to Alaska either; she just needs to flutter her rudder back and forth between salvos. Thus this is really more a quality of life benefit than anything worth celebrating. The second is one of range. Alaska has excellent range, able to reach out to almost 19km. Congress makes do with a respectable but nowhere near as amazing 17.5km. Unlike Alaska, Congress cannot elect to increase this further through a sixth-slot upgrade. While people are more likely to reach for a faster reload if this option were available, it's still worth noting. The third (and most pressing) is Alaska's guns reload 2 seconds faster base. Congress's 22 second reload is identical to that of Puerto Rico two tiers higher. But unlike the higher tiered ships, Congress cannot take the sixth upgrade slot's Main Battery Modification 3 to accelerate her rate of fire. Combined with the two fewer guns you get the following shell outputs for the three ships (stock/MBM3) Puerto Rico: 32.7 / 37.2 rounds per minute Alaska: 27 / 30.7 rounds per minute Congress: 19.1 rounds per minute This is a HUGE disparity, with Congress having less than two-thirds the firepower of Alaska despite having over three-quarters of her main battery. This right here is what turns many people away from Congress who are expecting Alaska-levels of performance Congress looks even worse when you compare her to other cruisers and she's not even competitive with tier VIII battleships despite her faster reload. The reality is that Congress' damage output is painfully low if you cannot reliably land citadel hits. Her HE damage output and fire setting is especially pathetic. This isn't a ship designed to out-trade opponents, but rather one that's in it for the long haul; taking opportunistic bites where they present themselves and keeping an eye out for vulnerable targets where she can blow out their machine spaces and magazines. Even then, her alpha strike is much more limited and with a smaller number of guns. Her DPM is appalling and made worse that her gun accuracy is worse than all of the other cruisers on this list. It's important to keep in mind that larger gun calibre ships tend to have lower DPM. To put this in perspective, stock Alaska (which is a good ship) has 240,300 AP DPM and 116,100 HE DPM which would look rather modest when stacked against tier VIII cruisers, to say nothing of tier IX ships. You're not going to find anything redeemable about her fire setting either. After you account for innate fire resistances of higher-tiered targets and your own dispersion, you'll be lucky to make a single fire stick onto a target. If you're trying to set blazes, pick on something that already has her Damage Control Party taxed from submarines or HE spam. Congress has the same gunnery dispersion as Alaska (shown here). This is 180 AP shells fired at a stationary Fuso bot at 15km. The Fuso lacks camouflage while Alaska was using Aiming System Modification 1 to reduced dispersion by 7%. Shots were coming in from right to left. Alaska, Puerto Rico and Congress all use Graf Spee's horizontal dispersion formula (Range x 8.4 + 48m). Alaska and Congress both have 2.05 sigma. So what gives? Is Congress crap? Does her poor firepower reign her in? Has Wargaming nerfed the concept too much that it's no longer competitive? Well, no. Her numbers are fine (in fact, she's one of the better performers at her tier). The issue is that her gunnery feels miserable. This is largely owing to the fewer gun barrels. RNG feels much more influential when a ship fires fewer shells per volley. You'll notice that one stray shell more than you would in a broadside of nine, ten or twelve guns where one or two errant trajectories is more easily dismissed. Compound this with her long(ish) reload and her dispersion feels downright cruel at times despite being no different than Alaska's -- doubly so when you're not always in range. This is the same affliction which makes German battleship dispersion feel terrible despite them having comparable accuracy to British battleships. Fewer shells means RNG matters that much more. So while Congress is capable of putting out some reasonable amount of damage, you're much more likely to remember that time RNGeebus gave you the finger and made you miss the citadel of that broadsiding Mogami. Unlike Alaska, Congress' selling point isn't her guns. They're decent but they don't feel anywhere near as good as her tier IX counterpart's. If you need your premiums to wow you with their firepower, then stay away from Congress. Differences in Firepower Alaska has better firepower across most parameters. Alaska has nine guns to Congress' seven. Alaska's guns reload faster. Alaska's guns have more range. Alaska can mount an upgrade to either increase her range or reload time. Alaska has longer ranged secondaries. The only places where Congress is better is that she has an extra 6º worth of fire arc on her X-turret and her shells are 90 credits each instead of 125 credits. VERDICT: Unimpressive. A combination of slow-reload, only modest range and few guns dulls the performance of her otherwise excellent AP rounds. Durability Hit Points: 51,150 Maximum Citadel Protection: 27mm extremities + 260mm athwartship or 229mm belt + 19mm citadel roof or water + 178mm belt + 26mm citadel wall Min Bow and Deck Armour: 27mm Torpedo Damage Reduction: 13% Chonkzilla. Meet the best-protected tier VIII cruiser. Congress is a ship of durability superlatives at tier VIII. She has the best armour. She has the most hit points. She has the best-protected citadel. She even has a Repair Party -- something two thirds of the tier VIII cruisers lack. Congress has a larger effective health pool with her heals than anything short of the portable-dry-dock equipped British ships. Even her structural plate is the best you'll find at her tier, with extremities capable of auto-ricocheting up to 381mm AP shells and an amidships deck immune to 203mm HE rounds. Add on hidden deck, a waterline citadel placement and turret faces and barbettes in excess of 300mm thick and Congress resists damage better than any of her same-tier competitors. Like her sister ship, Congress is tough enough to take a turn up on the front lines if needs be and help the battleships tank incoming fire; especially when she's top tier. Short of hit points and heals, Congress shares the same protection scheme as Alaska BUT she has the bonus of facing lower-tiered opponents. Tier VI and VII light cruisers with 152mm guns cannot penetrate any of her structural armour without Inertial Fuse for HE Shells. She easily (EASILY) bullies lower tiered cruisers with almost disdainful ease and can even strong-arm some of the battleships at medium-to-close ranges thanks to her structural plate. Congress feels ridiculously overtuned when she's top tier because of this protection scheme, with only same-tier cruiser and battleship opponents being credible threats. When facing tier IX and X ships, her durability falls away to more reasonable, though still highly competitive levels. Would that this applied against all threats. Fire and torpedoes are Congress' bane, particularly the 0.9.10 threat of submarine launched fish. Though she has a cruiser's (relatively) fast-reloading Damage Control Party, in the current meta, it's easily overtaxed. Fires burn for full 60 seconds (18% of her total health instead of 9% like other cruisers). Her anti-torpedo protection is insufficient to resist all but air-dropped torpedoes and most hits strike her citadel, allowing only 10% of their damage to be healed back from her limited charges of Repair Party. Submarines absolutely LOVE her clumsy agility and allergy to fires. Congress is prone to having her Damage Control Party on cool down and she's not agile enough to dodge guided fish. As tough as she is, as big as her hit point pool might be, it only takes a few torpedo hits to send her to the bottom. While Congress is fairly resistant to shell damage, that's really the extent of it. Thus she's most comfortable against other surface targets slinging AP and HE shells at her. This extensive durability and survivabiliy is Congress's main selling feature. While Alaska is a more well-rounded when it comes to the balance between firepower and durability, Congress relies much more heavily on her durability to keep her competitive. The idea is that she outlasts other cruisers and can stay in the game long enough to make up for her lacklustre striking power. This definitely works. It's not terribly exciting, but it works. The Alaska-class has layers of hidden armour beneath her maindeck that you can't see in the port, including a 96mm/102mm deck between the upper deck and citadel roof (her roof sits just under the waterline). There are three ways for AP rounds to citadel Congress. The first is a subsurface hit that strikes the lower belt and punches into the 26mm citadel wall. Any battlehship calibre AP shell greater than 356mm can overmatch the 26mm citadel wall, so even heavily angled shots that barely passed the ricochet check against the outer hull can still cause citadel hits this way. The second is a bow or stern shot that goes through the 27mm extremities and then smacks into the 260mm transverse bulkheads that cap the citadel at either end. Finally, shells can punch through the 229mm upper belt and then overmatch through the 19mm citadel roof at a very shallow angle. Overall, Congress's armour is excellent for a cruiser. Differences in Durability There are three main differences between the two ships. Alaska has more hit points than Congress. Alaska an extra charge of her Repair Party. This gives Alaska a much larger potential health pool -- just over 100,000 hit points if all of her heals can be used optimally (and they never will) while Congress tops out just over 75,000. Alaska's superstructure hit-box does not include the extra bit of 16mm plate in front of her armoured conning tower. The 3D geometry of the two models is identical, but Congress maps out that hit box while Alaska does not. This makes Congress the slightest-bit more squishy to small and medium calibre HE shells as hits in this exact spot to Alaska will shatter off the armoured bridge. It's a silly, inconsequential difference, but hey, it's there. VERDICT: This is the best thing about her. Heals at tier VIII is huge, to say nothing of taking fewer citadel hits than her contemporaries. Agility Top Speed: 33 knots Turning Radius: 850 meters Rudder Shift Time: 13 seconds 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 4.8º/s at 26.4kts Main Battery Traverse Rate: 6.0º/s | Insert sad trombone noises here. Congress handles like a battleship, albeit a fast one with good turret traverse rates. Her 850m turning radius is appalling and her rate of turn lamentable. Pair this with a sluggish rudder shift time I've seen dogs drag their butts across the carpet with more grace than this ship handles. Congress isn't a fast cruiser either, by any means. Her speed of 33 knots (34.7 knots with a Sierra Mike signal) isn't enough to dictate engagement ranges at high tiers. Sure, while she's top tier she can run rings around most of the tier VI and VII super-dreadnoughts and post-treaty era battleships but nearly every capital ship gets going in a hurry once you cross that tier VIII threshold, to say nothing of the cruisers. Of course, running out in open water isn't exactly Congress's style either. She has horrible rearward gun angles which are patently ill-suited to kiting. Her horrible agility, modest top speed and similarly modest range don't lend well to trying to actively dodge either. Congress is most comfortable with an island protecting her side with her bows peeking out to take pot-shots at vulnerable targets. Sadly, this is more comfortable than effective. Differences in Agility Congress and Alaska have the exact same agility. Congress does NOT have very good fire angles for kiting with terrible rearward fire angles. Seriously: Booooo! And I don't mean that in the Hallowe'eny way either. Her forward fire angles are good though. It's kind of funny how the 6º/s gun rotation on Congress feels okay but this exact same value on a 203mm heavy cruiser feels painfully slow. VERDICT: She sucks and not in a sexy way. 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): 108.5dps at 90% accuracy (97.7dps) Medium Ranged (up to 3.5km): 273dps at 90% accuracy (245.7dps) Short Ranged (up to 2.0km): 150.5dps at 85% accuracy (127.9dps) So this section is why this review was so delayed (I was originally planning to have this review out a week ago). You see, Congress inspired a project. Annoyed with the post-rework AA, I wanted to see how well Congress' AA would stack up back before patch 0.8.0 dropped. This involved way too much research time and digging through the Wayback Machine to look at archived stats. Before I knew it, I was collecting the old AA values for every single AA mount in the game and it was suddenly Wednesday. Whoops. For those unaware, unlike today, the old system had AA values determined by weapon mount. A quad-barrel 40mm Bofors nest always generated 15.9 at 3.5km per mount (these could then be modified by skills, upgrades, consumables, player actions and signals). So if you saw a ship with eight of these Bofors nests, you knew that this ship generated 127.2 dps at 3.5km. It didn't matter what tier the ship was. It didn't matter what type the ship was. You also knew that each Bofors nest lost through combat would reduce your AA DPS by that same 15.9 value. It was very intuitive, even if the rest of the AA system was a convoluted mess (seriously, lots of RNG to determine if an individual plane was shot down). But it meant that you could look at historical ships and get EXCITED if they had a lot of AA mounts on a given ship. That's something that's been lost since the rework. Wargaming makes up the values with a hefty-dose of BALANS™ thrown in and we get what we get. Now, the reason I did all of this was because I wanted to see if Congress would have been a GOOD AA ship back in the day. If I can't be excited for what we have (spoilers!) then maybe I could sigh whimsically at what could have been. Anyway, that just explains the delays. It's a going-nowhere project sparked by a heavy dose of nostalgia for the game as it existed back in 2018. I blame everything that happened with Yukon and the current submarine mess for making this trip worthwhile. Anyway, back on task! You could be forgiven if you mistake Congress for having a similar AA layout to Alaska minus some Oerlikon mounts. Wargaming did make some significant changes, though, halving the number of Bofors barrels by cutting Alaska's quads down to twins on Congress. As a result, Congress has about two-thirds the effective AA firepower to Alaska which puts her right-around Cleveland and Montpelier levels of overall effective AA cover. By the standards of today, this makes her AA power "good" for a tier VIII cruiser though it's hard to call any tier VIII AA firepower "effective" against anything other than tier VI CVs. Sure, you can bruise incoming squadrons but you can't prevent drops. The best you can hope for against tier VIII and X CVs is to be too expensive of a target to drop on repeatedly. However, if it comes down to winning the game, there's not much you can do to prevent them from taking you out. Your AA is good, but good doesn't cut it these days. Congress' AA firepower will not keep you safe. At best, it makes you a lower priority. Differences in AA Defence Let's do the list. Alaska's twelve 127mm/38 guns generate 94.5 dps while Congress' twelve 127mm/38s generate 97.7. No, this does not make sense. Yes, they are the exact same mount. Alaska has fourteen quad-40mm Bofors generating 337.1 dps while Congress has fourteen twin-40mm Bofors generating 245.7 dps. Alaska has thirty-four 20mm Oerlikons generating 208 dps while Congress has only twenty 20mm Oerlikons and generates 127.9 dps. Alaska's flak explosions deal an average of 1,610 damage. Congress' do 1,540 damage because she's lower tier (flak explosions scale with tiers). Alaska's flak explosions have a slightly larger blast size. VERDICT: Functional. Vision Control Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 15.5km / 12.18km Base/Minimum Air & Underwater Detection Range: 9.72km / 7.87km Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 12.09km Maximum Firing Range: 17.5km This all suuuuuucks! But she can have an American Surveillance Radar, so that's pretty good. Differences in Refrigerators Nadda. Alaska and Congress are identical here. VERDICT: Suuuuuuuucks except for the radar. Find island. Make them your Waifu. Anti-Submarine Warfare ASW Armament Type: Airstrike up to 5km away Number of Salvos: Up to two Reload Time: 90 seconds Aircraft: Two flights of two PBY Catalinas with 2,000hp per plane. Drop Pattern: 6 bombs each dropped evenly over roughly a 4km column Maximum Bomb Damage: 2,100 Fire Chance: 12% The usual caveats for discussing anything related to submarines apply here: submarines and anti-submarine warfare are all highly volatile at the moment. I didn't get to playtest Congress much against submarines, so I don't have a lot to add. Her armament represents the current low-bar minimum for high-tier ASW, with a pathetic 5km range (and 4km drop column) on a spread of depth charges. This is, unfortunately, more effective than depth charges as Congress can launch these without needing to drive right overtop of a sub. While depth charges will do more damage, Congress is more likely to survive attacking a sub. In my not so humble opinion, all ships should have access to ASW airstrikes as subs are designed currently. Yes, even destroyers and cruisers with depth charges. They should get airstrikes too. Differences in ASW None. Again, Alaska and Congress ditto one another here. VERDICT: I regret that this section is a thing. Final Evaluation Let's start off by addressing this assumption: "Congress is a tier VIII Alaska with two fewer gun barrels." She isn't. Congress is a nerfed tier VIII Alaska with two fewer gun barrels, most notably losing out on health, heals, rate of fire, range and AA firepower. If Alaska is a fun, competitive tier IX premium, Congress is merely an average tier VIII offering. Yes, Congress is tough as all get out. Yes, her individual AP shells hits are frightening but as a 'total package' kinda deal? Don't buy into the hype. Congress is a shadow of her tier IX sister-ship. Really, the best thing about this ship is her survivability and that only applies if you play her conservatively. Still, tough as she is, she's not going to stay in the game long if you play recklessly (believe me, I tested this thoroughly with VERY aggressive pushes). Her small main battery makes it very difficult to win in straight up trades provided your opponent isn't an idiot.. And even when they mess up and give you one of those juicy broadside hits, a bad bout of RNGeebus will exaggerate Congress' small broadside weight. It's a tough pill to swallow when a ship's performance is so closely tied to taking opportunistic shots when so few shells fly downrange on a per-volley basis. It's hard to find much endearing with a ship who sells itself on citadel-striking ability but it can't deliver on that promise. All of this is made worse in that Wargaming totally butchered the historical design they claim Congress is based upon. Congress isn't the CA-F2 project. Wargaming very-lazily cloned Alaska's hull assets and swapped around her armaments with guns inspired by (but not matching) CA-F2's layout. @Kingpin61 put together this post way back in April 2021 and I'm shamelessly borrowing one of his jpegs here so you can see for yourself. This is the ship we should have gotten: Note the twin funnels and placement of the rear catapults, to say nothing of the four-guns forward, three guns aft layout. Congress reminds me of Yukon on so many levels. She's tough. She doesn't hit very hard. Her name sucks. She's a disappointment to those who were most invested in seeing her added to the game. Congress isn't terrible, but lordy, she's very obviously intended to ride the Alaska hype-train and hope that generate sales. When you look at her on her own, washing away the Alaska pedigree, there's not a whole lot to love here. This is a ship that needs time (and enemy mistakes) to do well in. Her durability combined with the utility of her Surveillance Radar guarantees that she's got enough of a toolkit to be useful. But lordy, I miss the days when premium ships had some striking power to them. I did not have a good time with Congress. Not during testing and not during my revisit of her in October to refresh my memory. I don't think very highly of Wargaming's design and I didn't find her game play entertaining. If I'm going to play an anemic tank, I'll play the one Chobi and I had a hand in making. Solid pass from me.
  8. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review - Yukon

    The following is a review of HMCS Yukon, the tier VII Canadian Famous & Historical Monarch-class battleship. There's three things you need to know about Yukon before we begin. Yukon was provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes at no cost. I did not pay to get access to her. Yukon's performance may change in the future. As with all premiums added after April 1st, 2021, nerfs as well as buffs are always possible. As we saw with Hyuga, these changes can come very quickly and may sting early adopters. @Chobittsu and I are responsible for HMCS Yukon being added to the game. Yes, really. While I will try and be objective about Yukon, my opinion on this ship should not be trusted. Now more than ever, you should really (REALLY) check out some other reviews before deciding whether or not you want to add Yukon to your collection. Do not take my word alone; my bias should be obvious. Now, this is not like HMS Thunderer where they took a joke idea of mine and ran with it. We were involved with the project from day one, eighteen months ago when the need was first identified and sixteen months ago when it formally began. Quick Summary: A stock Famous & Historical Monarch-class battleship with powerful heals. She lacks the improved HE shells from the Royal Navy battleship line and she has very (very) poor range. However, she has good concealment and handling for a battleship. PROS Armed with nine 381mm guns capable of overmatching up to 26mm hull sections. Good accuracy with 1.9 sigma. Shortened fuse timer on her AP shells helps reduce over-penetrations. Very fast rudder shift time of 9.7 seconds. Good concealment, with a surface detection as low as 11.5km. Her powerful Specialized Repair Team queues up to 60% of penetration damage dealt & restores up to 40% of her health per charge. CONS Horrible citadel placement. Very soft skinned and highly vulnerable to HE spam, rocket attacks and AP overmatching. Poor anti-torpedo defence. Her main battery guns are short ranged with a reach of 15.65km Slow reload of 31.5 seconds. Bad fire arcs and slow gun traverse. Though Yukon is a British Famous & Historical Monarch-class battleship, she does not have improved HE penetration, damage and fire chance. Our country reeks of trees...! ♫ Overview Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / CHALLENGING / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme It's hard to recommend Yukon to inexperienced players, which is a shame. There's a lot that's very forgiving about her. She has great heals. Her ammunition choice is very simple (use AP -- always use AP). She handles well and her concealment is good. The downside, of course, is that you have to put her in harms way in order to pull the trigger. Her (very) short range greatly hampers not only her survivability but her flexibility. If you play passively, the battle can outpace you, keeping enemies out of reach and functionally eliminating your from the match. If you play too aggressively, her soft skin and exposed citadel will get her blown up. Worse, her long reload punishes poor gunnery. Yukon doesn't offer anything new to veteran players. Her higher skill ceiling comes from using and abusing her concealment, including using islands to mask her approaches. Her good rudder shift time allows for some clever dodging and she can flirt with brawling so long as you respect her highly vulnerable citadel. If this sounds familiar, her game play largely echoes other sneaky, flanking battleships like Roma or skulking, island-bound heavy cruisers. Options The only two things to get excited about are Yukon's Specialized Repair Team and her Maple Leaf camouflage. 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 Teams is identical to that found on HMS Nelson; a slightly nerfed version of the same consumable found on Lion and Conqueror. It queues up to 10% of citadel damage, 60% of penetration damage that misses the citadel caused by bombs, torpedoes, rockets or shells and 100% of everything else. It heals back up to 40% of her health per charge over 20 seconds. It starts with 3 charges and has an 80 second reset timer. In her third slot, you have the choice between a Spotting Aircraft and a Catapult Fighter. The former (which you will always use) comes with 4 charges, boosting her main battery range by 20% for 100s (up to 18.78km) with a 240s reset timer. The latter (which you'll never use) launches three aircraft which orbit on station for 60s. It has three charges and a 90s reset timer. Upgrades I don't normally recommend this, but Spotting Aircraft Modification 1 has some value with HMCS Yukon given her range woes. This increases the action time of her Spotting Aircraft from 100 seconds up to 130 seconds. You may purchase this from the Armory for 17,000 though I'm not convinced it's worth the coal. If you have one already kicking around gathering dust? Go ahead and use it but don't go out of your way to buy one. Otherwise, default to Main Armaments Modification 1. In her second slot, take Damage Control System Modification 1. In her third slot, you have the choice of improving her accuracy or her gun handling. Take Aiming Systems Modification 1 for the former to decrease her horizontal dispersion by 7% and Main Battery Modification 2 for the latter to improve her gun rotation rate from 4º/s to 4.6º/s so that she can no longer out-turn her turrets. You again have a choice in her fourth slot. Damage Control System Modification 2 is optimal for reducing the duration of fire and flooding. However, if you want to play to Yukon's strengths, you can take Steering Gears Modification 1 to decrease her rudder shift time from 9.7 seconds down to 7.8 seconds. Commander Skills Dust off a boring ol' survivability build. Yukon does best with that. You've got some choice here, but it's not particularly interesting. At tier one, pick between faster shells swapping with Gun Feeder or a slight reduction to the reset timer on your Specialized Repair Team and Damage Control Party from Emergency Repair Specialist. Those are your best two options. A distant third is to shave off 24 seconds from your Spotting Aircraft consumable from Consumables Specialist. At tier two, choose between increased gun traverse speed with Grease the Gears or the still totally broken and ridiculously helpful Priority Target. The former is really helpful if you haven't taken the upgrade Main Battery Modification 2 as Yukon can (and will) out turn her turrets without at least one improvement. I will [edited] about this often in this review. For your first ten skill points, grab Basics of Survivability and then Concealment Expert. Then grab the other two tier 4 skills before finally taking Adrenaline Rush. Camouflage Yukon has access to two camouflage patterns, Type 10 and the gruesomely patriotic Maple Leaf. They are cosmetic swaps of one another and provide the usual bonuses of: -3% surface detection +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells. -10% to post-battle service costs. +50% to experience gains. Yukon's Type 10 Camouflage doesn't have a palette swap for the moment. She will in future updates according to Wargaming, it's just a matter of when. It's nice looking, though it's not visually striking. Our yaks are really large....! ♫ 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. Butt-first, a word on Yukon's critical flaw Let's start with Yukon's deal breaker. She's short ranged. How short ranged, you might ask? Take a look for yourself. Here's all of the battleships in her matchmaking spread: You knew Yukon wasn't going to be in the top 25. APRM1 is the American Artillery Plotting Room Modification 1. It increases a ship's base range by 16 and is available to American battleships from tiers V and up (Arkansas Beta gets it too). GFCSM2 is the upgrade Gun Fire Control System Modification 2 for tier IX+ ships. These upgrades are mutually exclusive. Keep scrolling. We haven't even gotten to the sub-19km ranges yet. Almost there! There she is. Just to give you an idea, if we included every single battleship in the game, not just those within her matchmaking, Yukon comes in at 118th out of 133 battleships. Even South Carolina, a tier III battleship, has better range than Yukon. Yukon has tier IV range on a tier VII hull. If there's any reason not to get this ship, this is it. It predicates all of the quirks with this vessel and it's what makes her harder to play for inexperienced players. As Chobi put it: 'To use Yukon effectively, you'll have to break social distancing rules and close to well inside the range of literally everyone else'. Activate your inner Karen and get close enough to cough on people. This has some interesting side effects, both good and bad (but mostly bad). The bad generally speak for themselves so let's focus on the hilariously good consequences of this. First, her AP shells feel far and away more punchy than they actually are. British AP shells have long been overshadowed by their HE performance. With Yukon lacking the extra kick with her HE, the former has their time to shine. Yukon's AP penetration isn't that far off from those on Gneisenau and Bismarck and they do more damage per hit. Furthermore, with her shortened fuse timer, overpenetrations are less likely -- at least so long as the fuse hit a plate sufficiently thick to arm them (64mm). Cruisers beware. This combination of short range with completely reasonable AP penetration means that Yukon's guns hurt when they hit. And being up close also means that her dispersion feels far less wonky too. Again, this is not caused by any special gimmick; it's simply a factor from having to play closer to your targets than you may otherwise be accustomed with a mid-tier battleship. The final benefit to Yukon's painfully short range is that it shapes player behaviour. You can't camp the back with this battleship; you have to be up front. You have to be tanking and/or actively kiting. And while this may have lurking lolibotes licking their chops, it has the additional effect of pushing enemy cruisers back. Yukon inadvertently forces her captains to play the objective. Imagine that. Let me be clear: Yukon isn't a good ship because she's short ranged. It's a huge flaw. All of those above benefits could be realized in any other ship simply by playing more aggressively. It's just one of those "feels" things. Yukon's AP will feel more punchy than it is. Yukon's dispersion feels less punitive even though it's completely normal. Yukon's performance feels more successful only because she encourages good positioning and manoeuvring habits. A comparison of the tier VII fifteen-inch gun AP performance (and Vanguard from tier VIII). Yukon's AP feels strong, only because she has to engage targets at such close ranges. Her shortened fuse timer also helps ensure fewer overpenetrations, provided the shells strike a sufficiently thick plate in order to activate their fuse. Yukon's other flaws There are three other gunnery drawbacks to keep in mind: #1: Yukon does not have improved Royal Navy HE shells. Famous & Historical Monarch is one of the worst HE spammers of the entire British Royal Navy line with relatively weak HE compared to other British ships. Yukon' is even worse, using the same HE shells as Hood; so she gets no 1/4 HE penetration. She has worse damage. She has worse ballistics than Monarch. She has a worse fire chance. Don't spam HE in Yukon unless you have to. Your AP shells are your primary damage dealer. #2: She has awful gun handling. Check out my gun fire arc graphic below in the Agility section. Pair this with sluggish turret traverse rates and you'll find yourself fighting with Yukon's guns as often as the enemy. I've made it no secret that I loathe poor fire angles, especially when paired with bad traverse rates so I'm going to make a bigger stink about this than it perhaps deserves. Taking at least one gun traverse improvement, be it an upgrade or commander skill, is almost a must. #3: Yukon does not have Monarch's improved reload time. Monarch, for all of her flaws, has one really good thing going for her and that's a 25 second reload. It would have been amazing to see this preserved on Yukon in some form, but that would have been a completely different ship. Instead Yukon has a 31.5 second reload time. This is bad, but it's not like... American battleship bad. She had a 33 second reload during testing at one point, to give you an idea -- that was bad. That was a miserable, terrible, horrible experience. Now just you wait, I've gone and jinxed it and Yukon will get nerfed back down to a 33 second reload. 31.5 seconds is just long enough to put a serious dent in her damage output and complicate things like gunnery (missing with a long reload hurts), switching ammo (Gun Feeder is a must if you do this on the regular), or simply trading fire with a dangerous opponent (German and American heavy cruisers, I'm looking at you). Furthermore, this all but kills her chances to be a semi-decent fire-starter. Nine 381mm guns with a slow reload means that Yukon sits on pretty modest AP totals. Without the improved British HE shells, her HE DPM sucks monkey butts and should be avoided in preference to her AP. Yukon is in the wrong half of this list for a Royal Navy battleship. Like Hood, she's not a good fire starter and you'll struggle to set more than a single perma-fire if your opponent's Damage Control Party isn't already taxed. These are the raw fire-per-minute value and do not take into account the fire resistance of a given target. Against most ships in Yukon's matchmaking, the actual chance of setting a fire will drop by about 30% to 50% depending; so pretty terrible overall, especially once you account for dispersion too. Yukon Gold Guns They're potatoes. And while quality potatoes are the basis of any good poutine, Yukon's guns do not make the grade. Her guns do not up-tier well. Her 381mm weapons cannot overmatch the 27mm hulls of tier VIII+ American and German heavy cruisers, to say nothing of the extremities of tier VIII+ battleships. In higher tiered matches, the simple act of pulling the trigger may get you killed. Yukon is stealthy as we'll cover later, but flashing her guns gives away that advantage. Yukon so often rides the edge of her concealment in order to bring her weapons in and when lit, she is often the closest, if not the easiest target for the Reds to shoot at. So not only is her 31.5 second reload slow, you're encouraged to throttle your own rate of fire for the simple sake of staying hidden and staying alive. Only pull the trigger if (a) it's not going to get you killed and (b) your AP shells will actually do something. And because you're not shooting as often, any RNGeebus shenanigans like wonky dispersion, are only going to feel more pronounced. Yay! Aren't you glad you shelled out money for this crap? So that's fun -- you know, not being able to do effective damage and all. I cannot stress enough how frustrating these guns are and how bad of an experience they create when Yukon isn't top-tier. What, you joined the battle hoping to be able to SHOOT? Yukon's too Canadian and polite to do something so unneighbourly, you big silly! I wish I was exaggerated, but Yukon's gunnery has had me in tears, it's so frustrating. I want to rate Yukon's firepower more highly (mostly because of her ability to overmatch up to 26mm hull sections), but even this out-dated meme can't save her from an overly dramatic F-tier evaluation. Not that there's anything serious going on in this graphic. VERDICT: How to ruin a ship: 101. Bad range. Bad reload. Bad gun handling. Hell, even the secondaries (which I didn't talk about) are terrible. Do you really need to read any further into this review? 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% This is Yukon's main selling feature. With Nelson being retired, Yukon becomes the new zombie-bote. Just when you think she's on the ropes, she regenerates a whole new version of herself. This effect is VERY disheartening to Yukon's opponents. The only way to keep her down is to either focus fire in between her healing charges or hit her citadel so that her damage queue is only 10%. Coming back from the dead is fun. It's probably the most fun thing about this ship (cuz it sure as Hell isn't about dealing damage). Yukon is the new zombie bote, joining the ranks of Nelson, Lion and Conqueror with having a Repair Party consumable that allows her to claw back from death's door. Watching one of these ships go from nearly dying to returning to fighting condition is incredibly demoralizing for Yukon's opponents. While I'm not convinced this is the healthiest of mechanics for the game, there's no arguing that it isn't strong. It's so strong in fact, it band-aids a lot of the problems with Yukon's gunnery. A correction to either Yukon's range or the rest of her protection scheme would easily push her into overpowered territory with this ability, that's how reliant this whole design is upon this one consumable. It holds the whole mess together, like a big ol' helping of Red Green's duct tape. For skilled players, this heal is especially potent when paired with the Adrenaline Rush commander skill. Choosing when (and if) to use it after taking damage gives a measure of control over Yukon's shoddy reload time. Yukon's heal contrasts with her armour and citadel protection. They're anything but good. The King George V-class are notoriously soft-skinned. Their structural armour never gets over the minimum at their tier, which is 26mm in Yukon's case. This makes her vulnerable not only to AP overmatching from larger calibre battleship shells but HE shells from even destroyer calibre weapons. Worse, her citadel protection is horribly flawed. It is artificially huge . It has a T-shape with the cross made by an additional deck over top of the magazines and machine spaces. This abuts against the hull and sits just over the water line. It's impossible to angle the ship to prevent citadel hits from guns capable of overmatching her bow or stern. The only thing keeping AP shells out of her citadel is the straight-line thickness of her belt and for that to work, her opponents have to be at ranges greater than 15km. And guess what? Your guns are going to force you to get in close so that belt of yours means nothing if you're not angling it. Yukon is similarly soft-skinned when it comes to taking torpedo damage with minimal anti-torpedo defence. Citadel hits, forever the bane of battleship healing, are doubly potent here as they neutralize the advantage of Yukon's Specialized Repair Team. She only queues up 10% of citadel damage, so the surest way to sink her quickly is through citadel and torpedo hits. Yukon trades best with HE spam and battleships with 356mm guns or smaller. Against these opponents, she can angle, she can tank, she can soak and she can heal. Naturally, when this ship is top tier, she feels like an absolute monster. Take her out of that environment and her durability sucks. If your opponents don't focus fire and if you can keep Yukon from being the most appealing target, this ship has some very long legs when it comes to survivability. This is the catch, of course. This is the challenge with playing the ship: How to keep from becoming a target when you need to put yourself in harm's way just to use her weapons? I mean, the obvious solution is just not to use her weapons at all and play Yukon as Wargaming intended: a soft-skinned piñata for the Reds to beat up. If you truly insist on fighting back, you'll have to make use of every trick at your disposal to keep her alive. Use islands. Use and abuse her advantages in Agility and Vision Control. Wait for your opponents to get bored and shoot someone else. Yukon doesn't tank so much as bleed strategically. Whatever the case, so long as you survive, you can all but guarantee to win a Dreadnought medal. Yukon inherits a similar armour layout to King George V, including having no structural armour thicker than 26mm. She is highly vulnerable to HE spam from even destroyer calibre weapons, to say nothing of overmatching AP shells. Yukon doesn't tank damage so much as soak it up and keep going despite all of the hurt. She can take a lot of abuse, sure, but don't think for a second you can easily (or safely) repulse incoming fire. This ship gives away citadel hits and torpedoes (even wimpy ones dropped by Ise) are her bane. VERDICT: This ship isn't one for farming potential damage missions -- she doesn't resist damage, she soaks it. Don't kid yourself into thinking she'll resist incoming fire so much as heal through it. Agility Top Speed: 28 knots Turning Radius: 790 meters Rudder Shift Time: 9.7 seconds 4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 4.1º/s at 20.8kts Main Battery Traverse Rate: 4.0º/s (uh-oh) Yukon dittos King George V and Duke of York's turning radius and rate of turn (#10 on this list). Rudder Shift TIme King George V: 15 seconds. Famous & Historical Monarch: Also 15 seconds Duke of York: 17.5 seconds Yukon: 9.7 seconds Yukon's short rudder shift time defines this ship's agility. The rest of it is pedestrian. She's not slow, but she's not fast. Her turning circle radius isn't terrible but it's not good either. She has no quirks of energy preservation so the combination of her modest top speed with a modest turning radius means that her rate of turn is predictably meh at 4.1º/s. Again, not awful but certainly nothing worth celebrating. But her rudder shift time...! Her glorious rudder shift time! It's A M A Z I N G ! (for a battleship) Yukon starts turning very quickly. Her movements are very precise, not at all the clumsy, sloppy wallowing that other battleships fumble through. This precise little princess tip-toes and twirls the moment you ask it of her. Granted, she doesn't put a lot of gusto into her spin, but still. Yukon can Just Dodge™, which is rather impressive for a portly battleship. This is life saving, not only for dancing to torpedo beats but also for juking incoming, long range fire. Being that Yukon is so often the closest visible target, having this extra level of wiggle is a godsend. It's so good it almost (ALMOST) makes me want to take Steering Gears Modification 1 instead of Damage Control Modification 1 just to make it even better. I cannot overstate how pleasant Yukon's handling is. It's important to appreciate that this only means she starts turning quickly. She can begin one turn, arrest it and go the other way much faster than contemporary battleships. Once she's locked into a turn, Yukon does not spin quickly. Thus you're not going to foil strike groups from aircraft carriers by spinning in place, for example. You might be able to throw off their aim by waiting for them to commit to an attack run and THEN throwing your rudder hard over. This isn't going to guarantee you take no hits, it just might mean you take fewer. Similarly, for this to work against gunfire, it needs to be done against opponents pretty far off to give Yukon enough time to get out of the path of shells. Would that she had better gun fire angles and didn't out-turn her turrets. It's this crap -- this crap right here -- that will get you killed more often than anything else. Yukon baits you into touching her rudder (her awesome, super-nice, candy-coated rudder) in order to unmask her guns. This invariably makes you flash a broadside and then you take the big damages you can't come back from. Stock up on either the Grease the Gears commander skill or Main Battery Modification 2 (or both) to help prevent Yukon-broadsiding. Yukon has slightly improved fire arcs over the King George V-class battleships, but she still has to expose a lot of broadside to fire all nine guns. VERDICT: Surprisingly pleasant ship handling. Unsurprisingly horrid gun handling. Anti-Aircraft Defence Flak Bursts: 3 + 1 explosions for 1,330 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.2km. Long Ranged (up to 5.2km): 84dps at 75% accuracy (63dps) Medium Ranged (up to 3.5km): 311.5dps at 75% accuracy (234dps) Short Ranged (up to 2.0km): 175dps at 70% accuracy (123dps) Yukon's anti-aircraft firepower is surprisingly decent for a "stock" ship. Yukon is using Famous & Historical Monarch's A-Hull with some modifications but her AA firepower is unchanged. Stock hulls are notorious for having bad AA suites so I was expecting Yukon's defences here to be akin to that of a typical IJN battleship but this isn't the case. The difference between Monarch's A and B hulls is largely focused around increasing the range of her medium-calibre guns from 2.5km to 3.5km. There's only a modest uptick to the DPS to her overall damage output. Thus, while Yukon's sustained AA DPS and flak values are pretty good for a tier VII battleship. There's just a slight step down in efficacy from Duke of York's and those are respectable, at least as far as the average goes. In play testing, Yukon's certainly not capable of driving off a tier VIII aircraft carrier's attacks but she can bloody their nose a bit. Something like Enterprise or Kaga will soak up those casualties and keep coming back over and over but the tier VI carriers like Ranger or Ryujo won't be as comfortable after a wave or two. I even managed to skunk a Weser, shooting down all of his dive bombers consistently before their drops. So... yeah. Not great, but relative to the other tier VII battleships? Yukon's AA is decent. Yukon ends up with marginally better AA power than King George V owing to having more of her DPS focused in her 2.5km pom-poms than her 2.0km Oerlikons. Overall, her AA power is very much focused upon personal defence rather than lending support to allies. VERDICT: Surprisingly not as bad as it could have been. 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: 12.17km Maximum Firing Range: Between 15.65 and 18.78km when using her Spotter Aircraft You'll have to click to expand this list if you want to see the values. The forums does not let me show graphics in any resolution higher than 800p. Or you could just squint at the red box and appreciate that Yukon has the 4th best concealment within her Matchmaking, just behind Viribus Unitis, Famous & Historical Monarch and Conte di Cavour. Yukon is one of the stealthiest battleships within her matchmaking spread. She has comparable concealment to a Myoko-class cruiser which, while impressive for a chungus, it isn't very competitive in the grand scheme of things. Still, her concealment is workable. For a ship with zombie healing powers, workable is all that's really needed. Her game play mirrors that of a heavy cruiser in this respect but with the twist that you're able to absorb a lot more fire than any cruiser ever could. Yukon must keep an an eye on which ships can spot her when she fires her guns. Once she is spotted, she doesn't need to hide right away; at least until the enemy starts firing back. Once that begins, she needs to drop back into concealment. The idea is to strategically break contact whenever things get too hot, give time for Yukon's zombie-healing powers to recover any lost health and then re-engage on more favourable terms. This largely involves rotating Yukon from the front lines to a secondary line while she heals and then pushing back out onto the front when she's good to go. The challenge in playing Yukon has less to do with getting (and keeping) her guns in range than it does with surviving whenever she is lit. The short range of Yukon's main battery guns makes it very likely that she will be one (if not the) closest spotted ships for the enemy team to shoot at. Knowing when and how to drop contact when things get spicy is the key to Yukon's success. This is why I subscribe so heavily to the Priority Target skill for Yukon. It lets you know when it's safe to keep cycling her guns and when it's probably time for you to go silent and drop back, letting her good surface detection conceal her once more. This has more use than the more reactionary Incoming Fire Alert, allowing you to preempt enemy gunnery, taking evasive action with her excellent rudder shift time. This won't prevent you from taking damage, keep in mind, it will simply limit the amount taken and hopefully keep you alive a little longer. Shadowing lolibotes and orbiting aircraft are Yukon's bane as they limit her ability to drop back into stealth. If there's still a significant lineup of enemy ships taking pot-shots at you, there's not much to be done. Use islands if you can, but if that doesn't work, just keep falling back. Yukon's goal is to keep the rate at which she's being damaged below that of her healing potential. She can take a lot of abuse, but you need to pump the brakes when this damage spikes in order to give your heals time to recover. Like her agility, Yukon's concealment is just good enough to give you the tools needed to facilitate but not guarantee this improved survival. VERDICT: Great for a battleship. Not quite good enough to be a reliable asset but certainly a weapon in Yukon's survivability arsenal. Yukon-Ho! Let's talk about the project itself and Chobi's and my involvement with adding HMCS Yukon to the game. I'll let Chobi take first chair. There's about to be a very stark whiplash in tone and for that, i offer a sincere Canadian apology. Chobi's Chibi-Chair Bonjour, mes amis. Plenty of you already know me, but for those who don't, I'm Chobittsu. Normally I just support Mousey by providing her with cute art and some minor little visual tweaks to her reviews like turning a spread of torpedoes into bunnies wearing snorkels... but this is a rather unique tale, one that requires us both to tell. Once upon a time in the far off land of Febuary 2020 Mousey, and I were approached by someone at the Wargaming North American office (name withheld deliberately, do not ask) and they offered us a chance that even my grumpy ol' cynical bones couldn't pass up... the chance to design a Canadian ship for the game [ There's some clarification about this in my section below. It's marked with bold text and a (1). If you have any questions about this, please ask us to explain. Do not assume. - Mouse ] . The only problem was we had a time budget; it had to be ready for Canada Day 2020. This ruled out modelling a ship from scratch, it takes many months of round-the-clock work to build a ship model, texture it, code everything related to it... there just wasn't time. Our only option was a clone with only tiny cosmetic changes. Several ideas were pitched around, some good, some silly, some that might even still be used. The initial proposal of one of the Royal Canadian Navy's (RCN) historical cruisers was dashed when it was noted that they had vastly different models than the in-game Fiji, there was no time to rip off a whole turret and slap an HMCS Quebec bumper sticker on it... but in mid-march we'd settled on our pick; a fictional Canadian Monarch clone. Right from the start we were stoked and immediately set to work, Mousey with most of the heavy lifting on balance and features while I tackled the visuals, chiefly the ship's camouflages. The initial project name we started with was HMCS Acadia; improved accuracy but with weaker HE shells and a reduced heal, but the added quirk of an Italian Exhaust Smoke. A glass cannon, as Mouse put it, something that could appear, take a big bite outta your stern and then try to slip away under a veil of smoke. But after a while under this name, we traded it out as Mousey wanted to save "Acadia" for the Queen Elizabeth variant that was actually proposed to parliament in the interwar period, and so by mid-2020, we'd settled on a new name; "HMCS Nunavik", as a tribute to the much under-loved peoples of the northern reaches of Canada. And with this name, we wouldn't step on anyone's toes for other historical ships as none were ever named for this northern Quebec region. We spent the next months fiddling with the details and pushing the date back a full year to make sure we had all the time we needed to develop a proper ship (in hindsight, maybe could have pursued the HMCS Quebec or Ontario after all, c'est la vie). All the while I bashed together a pair of camos for the ship, a crest, some flags and plenty of fun stuff in between. The original special camo was to make the ship look like an enormous war canoe of the Haida tribe (because most Inuit canoes are frankly rather plain)... and that was goin' great... until USS Anchorage was released with almost exactly the sort of special camo that I'd been developing... like, straight up uncanny resemblance. So that was a month and a half down the drain for me! But hey, at least I had the standard camo done; an up-scaled version of HMCS Sackville's camo and tribute to our use of Flower-class corvettes, small punchy escort ships and sub-chasers that would normally be too small to appear in WoWS. Put a pin in this part, we'll come back to it. Fast-forward now to the start of 2021. It's been a few months since we started this adventure, and things are going well. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the worlds on fire with Spanish Flu Too: Electric Boogaloo and we're hit with the first punch in the gut from the devs; They've vetoed the name "Nunavik" as their naval historians felt the region was too small to warrant a ship being named for it. Now, I'm not an expert on these matters, but 443,685km² is pretty damn far from small. They instead chose to call the ship "HMCS Yukon", after a Canadian territory of about 482,443 km²... but lets just ignore that battleships have been named for places smaller than the difference between these two regions... And the fact that we had a Mackenzie-class HMCS Yukon in 1963... With this new name, I had to throw out much of the work I'd already done. Name plates, crests, commemorative flags... back to square one. The only upside with this ship's new name was that I very quickly had ideas for where I could take the motifs: Huskys, Fireweed and Gold. I quickly had a new flag featuring the provincial flower of the Yukon; a husky wreathed in fireweed (a pink but rather poisonous boreal flower) on a background of golden yellow. The crest; a heraldic husky prancing over snow-capped mountains and blue skies with a band of gold. The camos? That same Sackville blue and white from the Nunavik I'd brushed up (don't take that pin outta this just yet, it'll come back again a few times), with the big fancy camo you'd get from the special premium edition of the ship being... the exact same camo again~! But this time with veins of gold cracked through the structure of the ship. Not any fancy geometry mind you, just clever bumpmaps and reflective texturing to make the ship appear as though it had bean carved from the Klondike itself. Add onto that the name plaque of the ship, similar in design to the one adorning HMCS Haida, a piece of history I've personally visited several times. And lastly, to top it all off, a large steel maple leaf afixed to her aft funnel, painted a vibrant green; a tradition our navy still follows to this day, though with a more crimson hue. My work was done, there wasn't anything left to do but wait and muse about what I could work on next for Wargaming, perhaps another ship when this one proved to be a resounding success~! Months pass while I wait to see the results, I was vibrating with excitement so much that I nearly phased between the molecules of my chair and ended up in the basement. Then the big day arrives, the first hinting of the ship being released! It was a rocky road but we'd done it! Our very own ship! The community gets hyped, there's naturally some who bemoan that it's non-historical, and I feel for those players, I too would have loved to have seen a built-in-steel ship instead, but with what we had to work with, I felt we'd accomplished something truly special, something unique. ... and then Wargaming arrived. With each successive change-log, the ship lost another element that made it worth looking into. The smile faded from our faces as the "fun-tax" was applied. But this was just the beginning... Remember that Sackville camo I designed? A tribute to the literal hundreds of corvettes that saw service around the world with only one remaining today as a museum? Well it's time to go back to that pinned note from earlier, spit on it, throw it in the shredder, and dump what's left into Halifax Harbour for the gulls to peck at. While I fully and completely admit that the standard Type-10 camo Wargaming designed for the ship is gorgeous, they entirely missed the point of the one I'd designed. And that gold vein version? Nope. Instead we got another post-1965 Canadian flag camo like what Haida has. A safe, boring choice... The ship's brass and wood nameplate was replaced with a stamp down on the stern... The crest? Well this is the part I turned out to be entirely wrong about, as our navy reuses crests when ships share the same name, but with the Mackenzie-class HMCS Yukon being made first I was a lil bit blind to that footnote, kinda glad that Wargaming caught it and I learned something new too. But back to being grumpy; Remember that husky flag? It's the only part I can say with confidence that you can see my involvement in. The finished product? No no, it looks nothing like the golden banner from before. This one is blue, no fireweed, and with the husky silhouetted on a yellow circle. (I'll hazard a guess that it's supposed to be the moon, which would then make it a wolf... not a husky.) They got the maple leaf on the funnel though, but since that was a historical element on our ships anyway I can't even claim credit for that... I literally have had more content added to the game as a result of being one of the finalists for the community patch design contest, at least my mermaid arrived with only a few minor changes. This was, in my opinion, a year of work wasted. Thankfully it didn't consume much of my time, but this was not the vision that I set out to pursue. As for Mouse's work, she can describe it better than I ever could. I'm just the visuals and "Can I secondary-build it?" guy... but this project, I had hoped, would lead to a whole series of fictional role-filler ships that would plug up gaps normally present in the Commonwealth tree. Once the Yukon's camos were done, I also started work on a proposal for a Maori camo once HMNZS Achilles finally appears on the development slipways, as well as additional fictional ships I'd love to help design for nations without large capital ships like fleet carriers or battleships... but this whole experience has left a terrible taste in my mouth... And while (our immediate contact within the company) was more than helpful in getting this project off the ground, I can't help but feel that everyone after them in the chain of development simply said "Y'huh, that's nice, here's what we're gonna do instead". So while Yukon got started as a result of the work Mouse and I did... this is anything but our ship. I can only apologize profusely to the other thirty eight million Canadians on this planet for this incredibly flaccid result, a travesty of poor representation and mediocre game-play. I've always been critical of Wargaming's decisions, always looked over them with a fine-toothed comb, always wanted to make sure that the content we get was the best it could be. And for the first time, I had the chance to actually truly shape some content... but in the end, it was an illusion. The hope I'd built for over a year, all the "maybe this time they won't disappoint me"s that I'd stashed away for winter... well, it's late spring now, just about summer... but I have yet to see the fields of pink boreal flowers bloom and bring life to this barren tundra... I genuinely hope it can be fixed, that the ship will grow into the hype we originally had for it, but it's out of my hands. All there is left for me is to eat my soup and watch the show unfold. Chobi even went so far as to play with Azur Lane designs. Mouse's Minutes Chobi and I are clearly entitled idiots for thinking anything good would come of this. Somehow, Wargaming didn't know we were involved. Chobi and I came into this project with high hopes. Wargaming was unaware where all of the ideas were coming from and didn't pay our dreams much heed. The decision to step over Chobi's and my submissions had nothing to do with malice and everything to do with ignorance; while our contact knew who we were, this wasn't important further up the chain. It seems our contributions were perceived as suggestions from random Canadian players. Yet somehow these suggestions were sufficient enough to get the Yukon project off the ground in the first place? I don't quite understand it either. Famous & Historical Monarch's a bad ship, there's no two ways about it. The only way to make a successful premium out of it, especially for a non-existent (and possibly dead-end) tech-tree like the British Commonwealth, is to have solid appeal. It needs to look good. It needs to feel good. You're sure as Hell not going to get that appeal based on the parent ship's reputation. If you can't hit either of those first two points, make it disgustingly overpowered. I would not have suggested Monarch if I had known how little influence my designs would have on the project. While I did not expect any proposed game play element to survive development fully intact, the spirit of it certainly could. I wanted a glass-cannon Monarch at tier VII, in the spirit of what Ashitaka is to Amagi. Wargaming went the complete opposite direction, giving us a damage-sponge. This is where I clarify that (1) footnote above in Chobi's section. Like Chobittsu, based upon my conversations with Wargaming North America, I thought that we were being asked to design the ship. According to Wargaming we were not asked to design the ship (1) (and this was only clarified now). Apparently, we were just to be reached out to if they needed us.... despite needing us right from the word go. No one at Wargaming thought to tell us this for well over a year. They took our design submissions. They took Chobi's art. They took our discussion and built the ship we have now. They took sixteen months of time, energy and enthusiasm from us. And all we knew was the devs liked our ideas and were moving forward with the Monarch premium. We had to figure out for ourselves how much or how little Wargaming was going to use because they weren't going to tell us. It turns out they used almost nothing. And we didn't figure this out fully until May 25th of 2021 when her Type 10 camo was finally datamined and the last element that could have been something Chobi and I made didn't materialize. For sixteen months, they have unwittingly dragged us along. Again, I must stress, this was not out of malice but out of ignorance; almost every WG employee I have spoken to since seems genuinely surprised I had anything to do with Yukon. My feelings really don't care about that, though. Wargaming had given me hope. They could have known if they bothered to look and listen to the feedback I was giving. Once Yukon was in testing, I was obviously upset. I was making noise about it. Wargaming still hadn't put two and two together. No one had reached out to us. No one had clarified our position or the worth of our submissions. "You were not asked to design a ship (1)" is only being mentioned after the fact. Like this week. Had they told us this back in February of 2020, it wouldn't have mattered. Expectations would have been set. Chobi's and my level of investment would have been set appropriately. But we weren't told. And the project went forward. Here's the final result. A crappy Monarch-clone and the players responsible disillusioned. This is where it gets fun. You're not reading the first draft of this review. You should really find some other reviews of Yukon and here's why: Being the nice Canadian I am, I went out of my way to warn Wargaming that Chobi and I were going to voice our upset about our contributions being ignored about having been left in the dark for so long. I submitted a preview of this article to them and they finally reached out: They didn't like our first draft. We apparently had some facts wrong (our bad!). They asked that I make sure that this review is clear about the following: They did not ask us to design a ship. They took our suggestions and feedback but they designed and made Yukon, not us (1). They said we should feel proud that some of our design elements made it into the final product. Yeah, what elements exactly? There's so very little in this ship that's actually ours. Not her name. Not her feel. Not her look. They even butchered poor Chobi's husky flag and turned it into a bloody wolf. Yukon is in the game. She's a Monarch premium. Should I feel happy about that? Should I be happy that I worked hard and waited over a year for a promised vessel that bares no resemblance to the project I wanted? Should I be happy they want to celebrate our involvement despite not even being aware of it until I bloody-well pointed it out? I don't feel happy. Crazy, I know. They talk like players getting a ship into the game is new and unprecedented. They're forgetting who they're bloody talking to and the abomination known as HMS Thunderer. They're forgetting that Chobi has literal art-assets already in the game between a patch and another flag. They talk down to us like we should be sparkly-eyed and enthusiastic for this humiliation. They've pushed me even further away from this ship over the last couple of weeks and I did not think that possible. I'm supposed to be on break and now they're jeopardizing me ever coming back after this crap. I feel disrespected, hopeless and sad. Please do me a favour: I know Chobi's all for pitchforks, tar and feathering but I'm not. If how Chobi and I were treated bothers you, speak with your wallet, not with drama and sensationalism. I won't think less of you if you ignore all of this and want Yukon anyway. All I ask is that things be kept civil. The HMCS Sackville camouflage included with our proposal for HMCS Nunavik. This included the green maple leaf upon her rear funnel, ship badge and name plate. We couldn't get you a historical Canadian ship so we thought we'd at least dress her up in the colours of one of our honoured vessels that did a lot of heavy lifting. Final Evaluation I'm not sure I can trust myself to be objective about this ship's performance given my history with her, but here goes. I don't think Yukon is terrible, but let's not kid ourselves: she's saved by her mega-heal. Her 15.7km range sucks. Her 31.5 second reload also sucks. Her gun handling and fire arcs suck. Her armour sucks. Her citadel layout sucks. Having 381mm guns at tier VII is great, but using them is a struggle. It's heart breaking when they misbehave. Yukon's heal holds everything together but even that cannot be relied upon. I think if it weren't for her comfortable rudder shift time, I'd genuinely hate this ship. Scratch that, I do hate this ship. I'm just capable of seeing some elements of redemption. That won't save her from a GARBAGE Angry Youtuber rating, however. Famous & Historical Monarch is a bad tier VIII battleship. Yukon is a bad tier VII battleship but she has a good heal. Yukon is ostensibly the new HMS Nelson. Yukon has better survivability from the OG zombiebote, but this comes at the expense of her firepower. It's not an even trade, however. There's no compensating for the loss of (a) 406mm AP shell overmatching (b) Royal Navy HE spam, (c) a 30 second reload and (d) not-horrible gun range. In exchange, Yukon gets a "better"hull design than Nelson's (though it's certainly not good), with the Canadian battleship being faster, more agile and downright sneaky. I think it's Yukon's 28 knot top speed which Nelson-fans will appreciate most. That's the flexibility Nelson lacked. Still, it's hard not to miss those sixteen-inch guns and that rage-inducing HE, to say nothing of Nelson's comfortable (yet modest) 18.2km range. Yukon has none of Nelson's reliability when it comes to dealing damage. The new Canadian-bote's performance is far more volatile, especially when she isn't top tier. Sometimes you like unto a God of War, long of neck, black, white and brown of plumage and full of hiss. At others, you're just a poor beaver, frantically just trying to plug leaks. If you're someone who prides themselves on consistency, this isn't your chariot of choice. Yukon upsets me. She is not the ship Chobi and I proposed. There's nothing about the ship that's ours; not her name, not her game play, not even her look. What should have been an easy PR win for Wargaming is anything but. The two Canucks responsible for this Canada Day ship feel alienated and are actively bad-mouthing the experience. Like, seriously, I would have gushed about this ship had we felt our contributions mattered. It's silly, but had Wargaming just provided Yukon with her Sackville-camo and the whole tone of this article would be different. I'm trying to like this ship. I really am. I've put in dozens upon dozens of games since she was finalized hoping to get past my own bias but my experiences out of game regarding her are insultingly-bad. I honestly hope that those players who do pick her up find her enjoyable. It would be wonderful to hear that I'm completely off-base and that Wargaming has served up a winner in the eyes of the community. I think there would be some kind of catharsis to hear that Yukon ends up being horribly overpowered in Ranked Battles, or beloved by Newfoundlanders or something like that. I just don't see it. I'm not capable of seeing it.
  9. 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/
  10. commando_brian

    Mouse abuse, why is WOWS so bad at PR

    Congrats WOWS your stupid heavy handed treatment of LWM has resulted in her leaving the CC program I regret getting involved with this game
  11. 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! 
  12. 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.
  13. LittleWhiteMouse

    Premium Ship Review: Aigle

    The following is a review of Aigle, a ship kindly provided to me by Wargaming. This is the release version of the vessel and these stats are current as of January 24th, 2018. The Baker's Dozen Quick Summary: A massive destroyer with ridiculously powerful guns and hard hitting torpedoes. Cost: Undisclosed at the time of publishing. Patch & Date Written: Patch 0.6.14 to 0.7.01, November 30th, 2017 until January 24th, 2018. PROs Huge hit point pool for a tier VI destroyer at 17,000hp. Armed with five139mm guns -- the largest gun caliber that can still benefit from destroyer sized gun skills. Very long ranged for a destroyer with a 12.8km reach. Excellent fire chance per shell of 9% Enormous warhead charge on her torpedoes, dealing a massive 18,400 damage per hit. Engine Boost consumable lets her top 43 knots for two-minute stretches. Her horn sounds like a choo-choo train. CONs Horrible turret traverse. Low velocity shells with high ballistic arcs and long lead times at range. Appalling fire arcs on her guns and uninspiring ones on her torpedoes too. Large turning circle of 680m and sluggish handling for a destroyer. Punitive surface detection range and unable to stealth-fire torpedoes without Concealment Expert. Very reliant on commander skills to make her comfortable to play. Overview BAD - One of, if not the worst at its tier. This is a pronounced weakness. FAIR - Middle of the pack at its tier. Not terrible, but not terribly good either.GOOD - Has a significant advantage over her tier mates. A solid, competitive performer.BEST - No other ship at its tier does this as well as this ship. Aigle is enormous, with powerful artillery, ridiculously hard hitting torpedoes, a huge slug of hit points and the ability to do in excess of 43 knots. She pays for it with horrible anti-aircraft firepower and a terrible concealment values. Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / Extreme This isn't a destroyer with which you can easily hide and attack enemies. Inexperienced players will find her awkward and impossible to conceal. She has the striking power to impress veterans, provided they can stomach the limitations of her weapon systems. Knowing how to use and abuse island cover is one of the key skills needed to excel in this ship. Options Consumables: Aigle's Engine Boost consumable is worth taking a closer look. Aigle's Damage Control Party is standard for a destroyer with a 60 second / 40 second reset timer. Her Smoke Generator is also standard with a 20 second emission time. Each cloud lasts for 81 seconds and the consumable has either a 240 seconds or 160 second reset timer. Finally, her Engine Boost consumable increases the ship's speed by 20% instead of 8%. This lets Aigle reach theoretical maximums of 43.2 knots for up to two minutes with 180 second / 120 second reset timer. Premium Camouflage: Aigle has the tier VI Type 10 Camouflage. This provides 50% bonus experience gains, a 10% reduction to maintenance costs, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy. Module Upgrades: Four slots, standard destroyer options. In your first slot, take Magazine Modification 1. You may be huge. You may have a ton of hit points, but you're still a destroyer with squishy magazines. Next up, take Propulsion Modification 1 to help keep your engines from being disabled. If you have access to it, take Engine Boost Modification 1 instead -- it plays up to Aigle's strengths. Aiming Systems Modification 1 is optimal in your third slot, mostly because Aigle's AA guns are terrible. In your fourth slot, Propulsion Modification 2 to give you a little more acceleration from when you're hiding in smoke. Firepower Primary Battery: Five 139mm rifles in individual turrets in an A-B-P-X-Y superfiring configuration. P is rear facing. Torpedoes: Six tubes in 2x3 launchers Aigle has awesome weaponry. On paper, she's the knees of the bees. Unfortunately, this is largely undone by poor fire arcs, awful gun handling and the combined issues of range and concealment. How much these affect you largely depends on your tolerance for wonky fields of fire and how reliant you are upon being sneaky to succeed in a destroyer. Artillery Poor fire arcs on French destroyers is nothing new. Cyclone, released in July of 2017, gave us the first hint of the travesty that would be Aigle's fields of fire and I'm not terribly optimistic about future releases being exempt from similar issues. To fire all five of Aigle's guns, you need to present yourself at near a full broadside to your foe, with a 57º off your bow to fire forward and a 59º fire angle off your stern when firing backwards. This is largely untenable in the thick of fighting -- not unless you want to sail in a straight line and give your opponents an easy shot. It's more realistic to expect that Aigle will typically fire with three guns (ABX forward, PXY backwards) which undermines the fearsome damage-per-minute (DPM) numbers she should (in theory) be able to boast. Her sluggish turret traverse of 6.5º/s only further complicates matters, making Aigle's gunnery uncomfortable under any kind of manoeuvres. The last flaw to speak of in regards to Aigle's gun performance is her shell ballistics. Her guns are not the high-velocity rifles of the Soviet Navy which hurts her ability to bombard targets at range. They are comparable in shell flight time to Japanese destroyers at a distance, but with a lower initial muzzle velocity. This is exacerbated by Aigle's poor concealment characteristics where she's often forced to bombard targets from longer range. Nine and ten second lead times are not uncommon, and worse if you add on Advanced Fire Training. The plus side to her ballistics was that she could park behind some islands and lob shells at distant targets and hammer them over and over, undetected and safe from reprisals. This is just one extra challenge to unlock the awesome damage potential of these guns. You can undercut these traverse and fire angle flaws (though there's nothing to be done about floaty ballistics). Aigle's 139mm guns benefit fully from Basic Fire Training and Expert Marksman. The former will prop up your flagging DPM while the latter will increase her turret rotation speed to 9.0º per second -- more than enough to keep up with the manoeuvres you'll put Aigle through. You can also simply tank your way through return fire from enemy destroyers while keeping four or five guns trained on them, confident you can out trade their fire. Feel free to play with Advanced Fire Training if you'd like, but the ballistic arcs that far out are hilarious. You shouldn't worry too much about concealment issues, though -- Aigle is already one of the largest destroyers out there and hiding in open water just isn't something she does well. Seriously? Ew. In payment for the aforementioned flaws, you get a monster. Aigle feels like some Frankenstein's golem, combining facets from different destroyer gunnery and creating something entirely new. Her 139mm shells are huge. For a destroyer, they do great damage, penetrate well, start fires easily and all without sacrificing rate of fire. It's the little things which add up too. For example, Aigle's AP shells have the same longer fuse timer as American 127mm/38s found on their destroyers. This gives the shells more time to punch through the layers of armour that protect the machine spaces of some cruisers. This makes Aigle a greater threat to the citadels of cruisers than many of the other destroyers. You're more likely to see full damage citadel hits than just penetrations when you ambush an enemy cruiser at close range. Aigle's guns also boast similar penetration power to the high velocity 130mm of the Soviets, making her capable of besting up to 80mm at 11km and 100mm of steel at 8km -- values which echo the citadel protection around many tier VI and V light cruisers, incidentally. Her HE is also arguably the best at her tier. She inflicts high shell damage but she's also the best fire bug at her tier. With Inertial Fuse for HE Shells (IFHE), she's capable of damaging the extremities of all but the tier VIII battleships. As a destroyer, she only loses 1% fire chance for this skill, it still keeps her viable as a fire starter. Be advised that without IFHE, big as Aigle's guns are, they're not capable of damaging the extremities of tier VI and VII battleships and tier VIII heavy cruisers which will see a huge drop in your damage done. AP in blue, HE in violet. Aigle will often struggle to get all five guns on target. It's fair to say I have a love-hate relationship with Aigle's gunnery. Her damage potential is the siren's call which made me want to take her out time and again. For every game where I got into an ideal position and could rain Hell down on my enemies, there were games where I had to run and hide from enemy lolibotes and cruisers. This isn't a destroyer where knife fighting is comfortable -- even with Expert Marksman, your fire arcs are going to leave you way too vulnerable to broadsides of torpedoes if you want to trade DPM. If you can park and blaze away, you'll do well with Aigle. If you're asked to move and fight, these guns will trip you up every time. Torpedoes There's not much to say about Aigle's torpedoes. She doesn't get a lot of them, for one. This contrasts with the stupidly huge warheads grafted to them which hit harder than any other fish at her tier, including the Pan Asian and Japanese destroyers which typically have the monopoly on such things. Their chance for causing floods is second only to Fushun's at tier VI. There are two problems I have with Aigle's torpedoes and they compound. They're slow. They're very difficult to fire from concealment. Short of ambushes around islands or suicide-torp runs, landing torpedo hits with Aigle's torpedoes is difficult. Sure, they're hilarious as all get out when they smack something, but good luck setting that up. It's impossible to launch her torpedoes from stealth without a full concealment build on your ship and commander. What's more, her fire arcs aren't especially generous (they're not terrible, but they're not great), so whipping your ship around to dump fish against an enemy coming towards you can often give yourself away. And, once they've seen you, they're going to turn. The slow speed of Aigle's fish means even a minor course adjustment will see your fish swim past their target without biting. Overall, Aigle's torpedoes are a lot like her guns -- you want to use them but they'll fight you every step of the way. They're hilarious when they work though and that alone will keep you trying. Aigle's has narrow torpedo arcs directly off her sides, requiring you to expose her full broadside in order to launch. Summary: Hard hitting. Horrible fire arcs. Can you overlook the latter in order to enjoy the former? Evaluation: GOOD What it would have needed to be BEST: Aigle isn't a torpedo boat. She's a gunship, first and foremost with torpedoes as incidental backups. Thus her merits are largely weighed upon her gunnery. As good as Aigle's guns are, they aren't the best. Farragut's guns put out more damage and are better suited to knife fighting. Gaede's 150mm are better for punishing larger warships. Aigle is a generalist, and a good one, with guns that can make a destroyer balk with the first broadside and make a battleship player grind their teeth with frustration at the incessant 139mm bombs being dropped on their decks. And just wait until you read what T-61 can do... Manoeuvrability Top Speed: 36.0 knotsTurning Radius: 680mRudder Shift: 4.1s Maximum Turn Rate: 6.8º/s at 4/4 speed If there was one flaw upon which to set all of Aigle's manoeuvrability woes, it's her enormous turning circle which lets her down. It's not the worst we've ever seen among destroyers (Ernst Gaede is worse within the same tier), but it holds her back. Combined with her modest top speed, this leads to a sluggish rate of turn for a destroyer and makes her more akin in handling to a nimble light cruiser than her fellow lolibotes. However, with the touch of a button you can alleviate Aigle's woes. Her Engine Boost consumable is phenomenal. Aigle launches from a 36 knot top speed to over 43 knots for two-minute intervals (three minutes with Engine Boost Modification 1). This also spikes her rate of turn from 6.8º per second up to 7.4º per second allowing her to come about more quickly too. With her boost, Aigle transforms from a dumpybutt to a rocketbutt -- untouchable within her own tier and competitive with everything she may encounter. The only down side to her Engine Boost consumable is those two minutes in between (premium) reset timers where you have to go back to being terrible Evaluation: FAIR What it would have needed to be GOOD: Aigle is a long way off from "GOOD" and only spared a "BAD" label because of her Engine Boost consumable. Aigle is so fast with her Speed Boost active, even my screenshots of her have speed lines. Rate of Turn There are several factors which affect how quickly a ship comes about. The most significant are the ship's forward momentum and the size of her turning radius. As a ship slows down, her turning radius changes, but not always for the better. To make things more complicated, different ships also preserve speed better in a turn. When it comes to changing your heading, keep up your speed. If you want a tighter turning circle with Aigle, slow down to 3/4s or 1/2 engine power -- you'll shave off 100m of her turning radius which can help you avoid islands. Just be aware you will not come about as quickly. Steering Gears Modification 2 reduces Aigle's rudder shift time from 4.1s down to 3.3s. However, this does not noticeably affect her turning values. This upgrade is a placebo and not a practical bonus. When attempting to measure the gains made, some of the results fell within the margin of error of my reaction time and were impossible to tell apart. 360º Rotation Rate (Ship Maximums): 1/4 speed (8.8 knots): 2.0º/s rotation, ~688m turning radius 1/2 speed (16.9 knots): 4.5º/s rotation, ~581m turning radius 3/4 speed (23.6 knots): 6.2º/s rotation, ~592m turning radius 4/4 speed (30.3 knots): 6.8º/s rotation, ~687m turning radius BOOSTED (34.9 knots): 7.4º/s rotation, ~732m turning radius 90º Rotation Rate (Stock): 1/4 speed: 1.9º/s rotation for 46.8s 1/2 speed: 4.3º/s rotation for 20.8s 3/4 speed: 5.8º/s rotation for 15.6s 4/4 speed: 6.3º/s rotation for 14.2s BOOSTED: 6.9º/s rotation for 13.0s 90º Rotation Rate (Steering Gears Modification 2) 1/4 speed: 2.0º/s rotation for 46.1s 1/2 speed: 4.4º/s rotation for 20.5s 3/4 speed: 5.9º/s rotation for 15.4s 4/4 speed: 6.4º/s rotation for 14.0s BOOSTED: 7.0º/s rotation for 12.8s Durability Hit Points: 17,000 Maximum Protection: 16mm Ah, destroyer durability. So straightforward. Aigle has the most hit-points at tier VI -- even more than Ernst Gaede's 16,500hp. This makes her the defacto toughest destroyer. But, don't get complacent. Glue on Survivability Expert to top yourself up to 19,1000hp to keep your primacy. Remember to guard your magazines with Magazine Modification 1 and/or a Juliet Charlie signal lest you find yourself unseated. You're still a destroyer after all. The glut of hit points on Aigle will serve you well, provided you can spend them wisely. Use them to clinch knife fights -- just make sure you dodge those fish. Evaluation: BEST What it would have needed to be GOOD: Destroyer durability is pretty straight forward until you start to see weird bits of armour-plate capable of causing ricochet at higher tiers. None of that's present here, so barring her spawning multiple magazines running the length of the ship, Aigle is safely the best of the bunch with the largest hit point pool. Anti-Aircraft Defense AA Battery Calibers: 37mm / 13.2mm AA Umbrella Ranges: 3.0km / 1.2km AA DPS per Aura: 5 / 19 Aigle's anti-aircraft firepower is all kinds of terrible and there's not a lot you can do to improve the situation. Given her size and her large turning circle, enemy aircraft are particularly dangerous for this destroyer and they have every reason to glue themselves to you and keep you from sitting safely back and using your guns to your heart's content. Aigle is so large that aircraft can spot her without even slipping into her AA bubble. A CV could (in theory), keep her permanently lit without any risk to her own reserves whatsoever. Evaluation: BAD What it would have needed to be FAIR: AA guns that were actually a threat to enemy aircraft. Vision Control Base Surface Detection Range: 7.74km Air Detection Range: 4.35km Minimum Surface Detection Range: 6.76km Detection Range when Firing from Smoke: 3.11km Main Battery Firing Range: 12.78km This isn't a destroyer you want to use to scout early on in a match. Aigle's surface detection range is enormous -- the worst at her tier. While she doesn't also have the worst surface detection range for a destroyer within her matchmaking spread, but she's close. There are all of two (2) destroyers that she will normally meet that she can out-spot: Mahan and Kiev. That's it. Your only hope otherwise is to run into players that are not running full concealment builds on their destroyers. You're going to be spotted first -- it's best to accept that early and change your play style to reflect it. Contesting cap circles early on in a match is probably not a good idea; not unless you know what you're facing and that they're unsupported.. Aigle does not knife fight with enemy destroyers well -- between her clumsy handling, bad gun fire angles and slow turret traverse, getting in close is an unnecessary risk. Pushing early means you're going to hemorrhage that hit point advantage of yours without gain. Save them for when you isolate an enemy destroyer later in a match and can out trade her. The biggest casualty to Aigle's poor concealment is the use of her torpedoes. She can't fire them from stealth without a commander using Concealment Expert and even then, your margin of error is a mere 240m. You're really just limited to ambush scenarios or firing them at distracted enemies. It's possible (and not necessarily a bad idea) to dispense with using Concealment Expert altogether and play Aigle like a light cruiser with added speed flexibility and immunity to citadel hits. Evaluation: BAD What it would have needed to be FAIR: A good start would be getting that glaringly obvious red X13 off the side of the hull. Contesting cap circles early on in a match isn't what Aigle is designed for. Countdown to Blastoff: X Minus 13 You're going to want a dedicated French destroyer commander for Aigle. I tried playing with my French Light cruiser commander during play tesitng and quickly grew to regret it. Start with Priority Target for your first skill. If you're omniscient (or just reckless), you can take Preventative Maintenance instead. You're a destroyer, so Last Stand is a must -- especially if you took Engine Boost Modification 1. Follow this up with Survivability Expert to boost up your HP even further. And finally, allow yourself to stay hidden with Concealment Expert. For your next nine points, sink them into the following: Inertial Fuse for HE Shells, Basic Fire Training and Expert Marksman. This will give you the punch you need to directly damage battleships, the extra rate of fire to spike your DPM and improved gun handling to help mitigate her terrible fire arcs when you do have to fight another destroyer. Alternative builds are possible, especially where you drop any pretense of trying to hide this ship and don't take Concealment Expert. The four points could be freed up for skills like Demolition Expert, Adrenaline Rush or Superintendent. Final Evaluation Mouse's Summary: Aigle: Big guns. Big fish. Big butt. Most premium ships have a paywall. Some premium ships have a skill wall. Aigle has a patience wall. Without the right commander skills, this is a terrible ship. Aigle looks so much better than she is This is one of those ships that if you only saw her statistics, you could be forgiven for getting really excited. Playing her is much more mixed. Sure, she can do a lot of damage when everything works right but it's a lot of work. It's safe to say that I didn't enjoy Aigle overmuch, even if I recognize how potentially powerful she could be for someone who could get over the frustrations of her weapon handling. Aigle is a good ship hamstrung by poor fire arcs. She's not a traditional destroyer. She shares more in common with some of the late tier Soviet destroyers like Tashkent, Kiev and Khabarovsk but without the stupendous ballistics that makes long-range gunnery on said ships so comfortable. Still, Aigle is advantageous with the right setup. Having that commander build is key. I found she played best when you could park her behind a low island and hammer cruisers and battleships over and over and over again with her shellfire while they dueled with my team mates. The sting of Aigle's fish guaranteed that pushing around the islands was a bad choice for my enemies. This only worked when CVs left me alone, but that's a common lament for most destroyers. The catch is, I had to know where on each map I could abuse this and not all of them were accommodating. This is a support gunship -- a baby cruiser, as it were. Play her with these expectations and you should do alright. The lack of concealment doesn't damn Aigle, nor does awkward gun handling (though the latter is a close thing). However, the two together does sour me. I am a big advocate for concealment dominating games. When concealment isn't available, then a ship must out fight or outrun from threats. Aigle struggles to do the former without the right build (get those 19,100hp and bump up your rate of fire!). And the latter? Well, Aigle's Engine Boost is all kinds of phenomenal. If it feels like I'm holding back on singing Aigle's praises, it's because I am. I hate feeling like I'm fighting with the ship to make it perform and bad fire arcs really soured me to her. It didn't help that I was playing with my French Cruiser commander through much of the early play-test and I had a less than ideal build going, but that's on me. I was so twisted against Aigle, I nearly slapped her with a bad review because of the negative bias I was feeling. It took putting a 19pt commander on her with the right build and just sitting down and weighing all the paper data that I had to finally cement in my mind that Aigle was a better ship than I was initially giving credit. I still didn't enjoy her, per se, but that didn't prevent her from being a good ship. She's well-balanced. She has her flaws (flaws that rub me the wrong way especially) but she's not some overpowered monster, nor some gutterfluff piece of trash. At the end of the day, it was difficult to pin an Angry YouTuber label to her. What finally clinched it for me was defining the role that Aigle took. She was a support ship, that much was evident, and looking at the other destroyers in her tier, she had the most overlap with the German destroyer, Ernst Gaede. I had to ask myself, between the two ships, which was better? I kept reaching the conclusion that even with Aigle's advantages in speed and hit points, Gaede was better between them. When it came to hammering larger ships, Gaede did it better. When it came to using torpedoes, Gaede does it better. When it comes to supporting a cap circle, Gaede is simply more versatile with her Hydroacoustic Search consumable. Sorry, Aigle. You're good. You're damn good, even. You're just not the best at your given job. Made in German smug. Would I Recommend? On the whole, I say "non, merci" to Aigle. France isn't hurting for good premiums at the moment. Maybe Aigle will look a little more attractive when the French destroyer line is closer to finished. PVE Battles How well does the ship maintain profitability in Co-Op modes and how does she fare against bots? Yes. Aigle will do just fine in Co-Op and Scenarios. Between her range, firepower, that huge chunk of hit points and her Engine Boost consumable, she's very versatile. Random Battle Grinding:This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements. Not especially, no. At the same tier you could get De Grasse or, for a few bucks more, Dunkerque. They would serve you better as commander trainers with France having a cruiser and upcoming battleship line. De Grasse practically prints Arsonist medals. The necessity of an experience commander with a lot of skill points works against Aigle being a good trainer. For Competitive Gaming:Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding. No. Wait for T-61. For Collectors:If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you. I'd give her a pass. Aigle didn't have a very auspicious career (she was sunk twice). However, that could be said of most of the more modern French designs in World of Warships. At least she was built in steel For Fun Factor: Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play? Very nope. I did not enjoy this ship. If you have more patience than I for horrible gun arcs and bad turret traverse, have at her. 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 The Aigle has landed. Thank you to my patrons on Patreon for their support in January for helping get this review out. I actually managed to take some time for myself (gasp!) and enjoy the game over the last week. Much of this was spent playing Co-Op of all things, crunching through the High School Fleet event to grind out the flags and camouflages on offer. Musashi, Yamato and Harekaze got a lot of play time and I even poked out with HSF Graf Spee a couple of times to collect the boxes I needed. Meanwhile, I haven't really touched Roma at all since release. It's still early yet and I'm still in the middle of crunch time with content creation. When things get a little less hectic, maybe I'll have a better idea if any of these ships will become new favourites. Aigle's not likely to make the cut. As much fun as her choo-choo train horn is, I feel no inclination to add her to my roster. My current ten favourite premium ships. Top Row: Fujin, Atlanta, De Grasse, Prinz Eugen, Atago. Bottom Row: Scharnhorst, Nelson, Harekaze, König Albert, Warspite. Appendix A list of sites, programs and people I rely upon to create my reviews. Thanks go out to iChase, NoZoupForYou, the World of Warships Wiki staff and Pigeon_of_War for their assistance with research. Most of all, everyone's favourite box-bound kitty, Lert, gets a special thank you for being the first to volunteer whenever I need help. With every review, he's behind the scenes providing feedback, proofreading, monotonously twirling ships and assisting with screenshots. And last, and definitely not least, one final thank you to all of my patrons on Patreon who help make these insane research projects possible. If you enjoy my reviews, please consider offering your support. For the complete list of my reviews, please visit:
  14. 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.  
  15. 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:
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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. 
  20. 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. 
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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!
  24. 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/
  25. @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.
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