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  1. If you're looking for a unicum guide to ranked or something, this is not it. This is just a musing on my experiences this ranked season, being merely of green pr and having not done randoms in a long time. Some of it may be subjective. The first time I tried a full ranked season was season 7, with tier 6 ships (when was the last time WG had a full ranked season at tier 6 or below, anyways?). Although I was a potato back then, the lure of Flint (which I eventually got for steel, although irritatingly enough WG announced their removal and return in coal shortly afterwards) and Black, along with free doubloons, was what motivated me to try ranked again. However, what followed was basically circumstances conspiring against me. Multiple obstacles threw themselves into my path. Some seasons had other events offering more appealing rewards (like premium ships or perma-camos). Many times I found that my lack of a tier 10 ship precluded me from advancing higher than the double-digit ranks. And obviously real-life matters meant that I had to prioritize them over WoWs. But this time around, on the 17th season, I finally had both the eligible ships and the time to try and rank out. From the lowest rank to rank 12 was honestly a fairly pleasant affair. It was honestly not too bad of a grind, and the overall battles were interesting and fairly dynamic; I'd go as far to say as even the path to rank 6 was enjoyable. Although I used mainly Vladivostok and Massachusetts to reach the premier league, each battle was imo rather interesting, and no class from my observation seemed outrageously influential over the battle. Admittedly there were flaws in my battleship tactics, which were ultimately what contributed to me switching to Ognevoi for the race to rank 1. Rank 5 and above, however, was frankly something I'm thinking about never doing again. Through my trek up the ranks, some things became apparent: Some ships popped up much more than others in the MM—many of which were premiums—while other were basically extinct. Variety is close to nonexistent. The number of torpedo-focused destroyers, non-radar cruisers, and battleships not named Massachusetts, Tirpitz, or Bismarck that I encountered after rank 6 could honestly be said to be within the single digits. It was frankly both frustrating to take a non-meta ship into ranked—in my case, knowing that I could not out-knife-fight Cossack/Kidd/Akizuki/LoYang, could be hydro'd in my smoke, and oftentimes even out-spotted—and see the same ships over and over again knowing they had some sort of advantage that a non-meta ship would have. I realize that some ships will always be more suited to the meta than others, but would it really hurt to incentivize variety? I'd like to see more Amagis, Monarchs, Romas, etc. The meta is dominated by destroyers HE-spamming from smoke and CVs. The higher the ranks I went, the less battleships and cruisers appeared. Frequently it'd be something like 3 or even 4 destroyers, and one of each of the other classes. Battleships were relegated to basically camping somewhere outside of the cap, dodging torpedoes and tanking HE spam and CV attacks (to me it was a rather unfitting yet understandable sight to see battleships, with their big guns and heavy armor, running away from a tiny fragile destroyer plinking away at the battleship with HE shells). Cruisers were forced to hide behind islands for fear, I found, of being targeted by HE spam more often than being targeted by a BB salvo. Gunboat/capping destroyers basically duked it out in and around the caps, and whichever side emerged victorious had already won the battle more often than not. The one class that could intervene effectively and consistently, the CVs, was frankly a source of irritation to everyone. At least to me, it was frankly not a very interesting or fun style of battle. The concentrated fire of 24 Smolensks is not enough punishment for whoever thought CVs—especially rocket planes—and the current fighter system/AA were good ideas. Whether on my team or the enemy team, a CV had the ability to turn the tide like no other class. Rocket planes are imo the worst, as they are deadliest against destroyers, aka the class on which the entire battle rides. The AA of even multiple ships (and vaunted AA ships like Kidd and Cleveland) combined oftentimes wasn't enough to prevent a good CV captain from stripping a dd of 1/3 to even 2/3 of their health. Catapult fighters and the fighters dropped by CVs were useful only for occasional spotting—I'd often watch a CV's fighters fly right past an attacking enemy squadron for a full 360 before actually bothering to intercept. That is besides the damage that AP bombs could do to cruisers/battleships, the torpedoes, and the AP rockets the new German CVs boast. Many teams I was on and those I fought against managed to recover from an early ship down (which admittedly sometimes I was guilty of doing). I never once saw a team that recovered from having their CV be carelessly deleted early in the battle. The same applies for teams blessed with a god-like CV vs. teams burdened with a CV that seems to find cruisers and destroyers invisible and believes enemy ships see via motion. The saving-star mechanic provides bad incentives. As it turns out, the tactics best for saving a star oftentimes differ from the tactics best suited for actually winning. I've seen quite a few ships yolo in or camp in the back sniping from the J line, costing the team the battle but saving their own stars. In one particular incident (which I'm not proud of), I was sitting in my smoke 5 km away from a nearly full-health Mass. pinned in between 2 islands, with enough supporting ships to ensure that if I tried to rush him I'd die but not enough that they could stop me from sinking the Mass. should I choose to rush it or to prevent me from quietly escaping should I have done so. The proper thing to do would have been to survive to fight another day while letting the Mass. off with a few torpedo hits, given my team was down 3-5 or so (although admittedly the points were rapidly accruing for the enemy team). Yet instead, on a whim, I decided to rush the Mass. Predictably, I died, but so did the Mass. And of course, I ended up being the one that saved a star on my team, above those that I believed had played it smarter and more prudently than myself. There is no "I" in "team", but there is a "me" (applicability will vary) Although many battles I think were lost causes from the start—like one battle where the team was down 3 ships by the time the 5 minute mark had passed—I'd say around 1/5 of all my lost battles were ones where I (even though I consider myself an amateur at such post-battle analysis) could point to something I had done wrong, anything from pushing too aggressively, being too defensive, not expecting what in hindsight was an obvious torpedo salvo, etc. I recall one battle where an Akizuki and Lexington on my team were clogging the chat with demands to report the other, and I found out afterwards that they both had less-than-stellar stats. It was a rather amusing find to say the least. And I'd honestly like to thank all those who gave me advice, whether on the forums or elsewhere. It helped me advance as far as I did. The ability to rank out is no indication of skill. This tenet I held true at the start of the ranked season and even now I still hold to be true. I've little doubt there were those on my team or on the enemy team who dropped the ball during the battle, were carried by the team, and then happily ranked out leaving everyone else to continue the grind. While ranking out in as few battles as possible may very well indeed be a matter of skill, ranking out by itself is merely a testament that one was willing to put in the time and battles necessary. In what I consider to be an incredibly cruel twist of fate, I managed to get within 3 stars of ranking out at one point. The second-to-last day of ranked, for example, I was sitting fairly pretty with only 4 stars left. Yet after 214 battles and finishing the Vladivostok and Ognevoi grinds in the meantime, my final standing was rank 3 with 1 star. 18 battles on the last day of ranked netted me a net loss of 5 stars. Slight changes to the MM might as well have resulted in me ranking out. It is... dispiriting to have come so close to my goal only to fall short. But just as dispiriting was the constant mind-numbing routine of ranked meta. The pleasantness of reviewing tactics with unicums and WoWs acquaintances and the few glorious moments of battle (and of good-natured banter with the enemy team at times) were smothered by the repetition and frankly disgraceful nature of ranked battles. Randoms may be, well, more random, but just about anybody who does higher tier battles can attest to how imo terrible the meta has become. I'm not considering quitting from WoWs just yet, but I do think I will be taking a hiatus. And I'm honestly not sure if I'll ever do ranked again. The feeling of having fallen just short combined with just how much the meta of these high tier battles makes one want to pull their hair out makes me question: just how much is the steel worth anyways?
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