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Thoughts on the State of High Tier Cruisers

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Seeing the forum's common feeling that cruisers are getting the broken end of the bottle as far as WG's rock-paper-scissors balance scheme is concerned, I wondered what could be the main issue.

 

There are many complaints on the weakness of cruisers, especially their fragility and inability to effectively FIND enemy DDs. I started thinking that the issues are not individual problems, but rather symptoms, and I started looking for the root cause. I thought back to when I was climbing the USN cruiser line(infamously the weakest cruiser line, if not in the game itself). I remembered how the transition from the Cleveland to the Pepsicola was particularly painful, not because the Pensacola was unable to perform, but because I was so used to rapid fire light guns that using heavier guns on cruisers was too different to apply tactics that I had learned up until that point. Once I had started playing more cautiously, and used my greater range, I was able to perform well.

 

This was when it hit me. What if the high tier cruisers are not fundamentally weak, broken, ineffective, etc. but rather the tactics that many learn when transitioning from light guns to heavy guns do not work in the high tiers, just as the tactics that I had learned from the Cleveland, Omaha and Phoenix did not work at all on the Pensacola.

 

This idea makes the most sense as in tier 7, cruisers are still somewhat able to use their 8" guns to some significant effect on BBs in straight up gun fights, and still be able to have a reasonable chance of survival, if evasive actions and tactics are used. Tier 7 is also where destroyers are also not too stealthy yet, and can still very easily get too close due to carelessness, and be spotted by cruisers outside of BB effective ranges.But once they get to tier 8 and up, BBs' effective ranges increase dramatically and DDs stealth follows a similar pattern, with torpedoes getting greater ranges, allowing DDs to not need to close to dangerous ranges anymore. This leaves cruisers stagnant while DDs and BBs improve significantly. Cruiser captains, now find themselves suddenly in situations where BBs can hit them more at farther ranges, and DDs being able to get closer than ever and still not be spotted. With the new situation at hand, gunnery exchanges in cruisers are simply untenable affairs, leaving cruiser captains scrambling.

 

This change in situation, rather then a drop in power, is supported by the state of lower tiers. BBs are always able to one-shot cruisers, but simply do not have the range, nor the accuracy to do it regularly or for long at the lower tiers. DDs are always hard to find due in no small part to their low detection ranges, but their short torpedo or gun ranges made them risk dangerously close approaches. This basically meant, that in lower tiers, cruisers did not even have to go far, as their targets had no choice but to come closer to the cruisers to be effective. I believe tier 7 is the last tier that this is even partially the case, with tier 8 being the definitive cut off point. Once in tier 8 and above, cruisers now have to close the range themselves to get into gun range, a reversal of the situation in the lower tiers, making the cruisers trying to use older (read: ineffective) tactics making themselves easy targets.

 

With this in mind, I then wondered if cruisers can't go in to fight, what purpose are they to serve? They couldn't close the range to fire on BBs, nor could they go out to seek and destroy DDs. It then becomes apparent that in the higher tiers, that a cruiser's role now is more defensive than offensive in nature. Assisting friendly BBs if enemy BBs get too close by burning down the enemy BBs. Warding/chasing off DDs from the BBs and CV(s). Providing fire support for ally DDs. Shooting down aircraft. All of these roles share the common theme of defense.

 

Also, I considered how the reward system awards aggressive/offensive play styles, so providing an incentive for cruisers to continue using ineffective tactics in the higher tiers, to the point that I am reminded by a well known video game reference regarding insanity.

 

The only reason cruisers such as the Zoa and Moskva do so well, is because their abilities allow cruiser captains to apply the old tactics with any appreciable results beyond just a repair bill ( plus fun tax ). Incredible stealth, or favorable shell arcs allow these cruisers to get into gun range and not be at enormous risk of BB gunfire.

 

TL/DR: Cruiser captains are so used to pseudo-yolo tactics for their cruisers that worked in lower tiers, that they want to use them in high tiers, and it doesn't work. Cruiser captains should adopt more defensive tactics if they want to be more effective in higher tiers, and stand a better chance of surviving.

 

I am open to discussions, arguments, and or suggestions as to why I may be wrong in my assumptions.

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It's more than even that. Even with the change from low to higher tier, a big reason those pseudo yolo tactics work, is because at lower tiers BBs are highly inaccurate, but when you hit tier 8+ that suddenly goes away and it's not uncommon to get nuked from a BB 18km away you didn't even know was there.

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It's more than even that. Even with the change from low to higher tier, a big reason those pseudo yolo tactics work, is because at lower tiers BBs are highly inaccurate, but when you hit tier 8+ that suddenly goes away and it's not uncommon to get nuked from a BB 18km away you didn't even know was there.

 

Further driving home the point that changing gears from offensive to defensive is imperative to maximize cruiser effectiveness. If cruisers hold their fire until they are spotted by BBs that closed the distance (often into the range of cruiser guns) or DDs spot them, cruisers will avoid being sniped as you mention.

 

A note on DDs spotting cruisers. Using radar for only when you are spotted, but see no enemy ships nearby may be an effective tactic as radar's range should be far enough to detect the enemy DD in question. This is similar in nature to BBs not using there damage control until they are safe from further HE, or have three fires burning at once.

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Even as a BB player that jumps up and down whenever I delete a full-health cruiser from across the map, I still can empathize with cruiser players. I agree they are too sensitive. Most BB players complain "Cruisers are OP, my BB is burning every 2 seconds11!!11!" I would agree they're underpowered, especially at high-tier.

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OP,

 

Some very good points!  Thinking about what you said, seems likely to apply mostly to ships of all the same tier.  But throw in the +/- 2 MM and some of what you say goes right out the window.  T5 BBs have always been able to delete T3 cruisers with a single salvo.  And that trend is a consistent problem throughout the entire game.  

 

While it seems to be of general opinion that cruiser can set BBs on fire at will, that is just not the case.  I mainly play cruisers and shoot a ton of HE, cruisers just DO NOT set that many fires.  My fire rate in my Cleveland is like 3 per hundred hits way below the advertised 14% chance.  Yes I have had 30 fire games with 250+ hits, but honestly a Cleveland just can't do that Vs T8 BBs every game. 

 

Some of the cruiser problem is exactly what you say, switching from light to heavy guns and the tactics changes there in.  Some comes from the shifts from low to mid to high tier and all changes that accompany them.  But the fragility of cruisers still exists throughout.   You could take away the cruiser citadel and still a +2 Bb can do multiple heavy damage hits and kill you in one salvo.  A top tier BB can always shoot farther than the bottom tier cruiser, and is always more accurate to a longer range. 

 

Couple all this with the current mid tier meta, and any player willing to put up with it, you get players who make it to top tier and they careless.  They are so tiered of being beat on by the time they get to T8 only to find more of the same.  No mater how you play, conservative, aggressive, one DD spots you and a BB you can't see deletes you form map. 

 

Cruisers in general are in a terrible spot. 

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Until stealth fire is removed, cruisers cannot be more powerful than they already are.

 

The biggest shift you see at higher tier play, is the reduced ability to hunt DDs in the early game. You get lit, you're dead. Throw in 15-20km torpedo ranges, and DD destroying pretty much goes by by at least early on until people get situated and not in position to fire on the first ship that gets lit.

 

Anyway, firing out of smoke while still being undetected, concealment, and stealth firing are just way too overpowered right now. Let's also note, that a cruiser player who knows what he's doing is very very powerful. At this point, I'm not really sure what more you want. Cruisers have stealth, high fire rates, very high DPS, and their AP shells are able to penetrate any ship in the game at tier 10.  I really don't see any place to buff them right now.

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So basically sit on your bottom half the bloody game, waiting for someone to make a mistake...

 

Welcome to World of Ranked/Battleships/Destroyers...

 

One of the biggest issues I have with CVs right now, (outside of the controls, and mid-to-high tier,) sure you can scout, and maybe try to snipe a DD, but you might as well not even bother trying to attack anything big unless some is a yolo idiot, or until half the game is over and the enmy team is damaged spread out.

 

WG wants us to be agressive; yet with two classes of ships (in higher tiers at least,) doing so seems tantamount to suicide, (cruiser insta-delete or carrier air-group anhilliation.)

 

On the point about switching from light to heavy guns, perhaps that is part of the reason I think Atago is such a piece of useless junk... 'Awesome ship my fanny,' not when my average damage in the Blue Barge is 19k...

Edited by Estimated_Prophet

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 At this point, I'm not really sure what more you want. Cruisers have stealth, high fire rates, very high DPS, and their AP shells are able to penetrate any ship in the game at tier 10.  I really don't see any place to buff them right now.

 

So maybe T10 cruisers are OK;  but what about T8 cruisers, The New Orleans for example?

 

Honestly one tier being ok does not mean all other tiers or even one other tier is OK.  Look at all cruisers and compare them to each other, and each tier as well as the tiers they see in fights.  Obviously if T10 cruisers are balanced to fight T10 BBs then they will be fine if fighting a T8 BB.  But the opposite cannot be said and a T8 cruiser WILL see a T10 BB. 

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So maybe T10 cruisers are OK;  but what about T8 cruisers, The New Orleans for example?

 

Honestly one tier being ok does not mean all other tiers or even one other tier is OK.  Look at all cruisers and compare them to each other, and each tier as well as the tiers they see in fights.  Obviously if T10 cruisers are balanced to fight T10 BBs then they will be fine if fighting a T8 BB.  But the opposite cannot be said and a T8 cruiser WILL see a T10 BB. 

 

New Orleans is a victim of being over tiered. Plain and simple. Plus having an AA suite worse than the tier 6 cleveland(due to the fact of when the ships were launched and the 127/38 vs the crappy 127/25) is a really big issue for New Orleans. Personally I'd like to see her dropped a tier and replaced with Wichita.

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Goos insight on Cruisers gameplay going totally defensive - which begs the question why use the class at all.

 

Personally I'm getting Москва and selling remaining t8 plus cruisers after,

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So maybe T10 cruisers are OK;  but what about T8 cruisers, The New Orleans for example?

 

Honestly one tier being ok does not mean all other tiers or even one other tier is OK.  Look at all cruisers and compare them to each other, and each tier as well as the tiers they see in fights.  Obviously if T10 cruisers are balanced to fight T10 BBs then they will be fine if fighting a T8 BB.  But the opposite cannot be said and a T8 cruiser WILL see a T10 BB. 

 

US ships are just garbage. If you think the NO is bad, just wait until you play the Baltimore.

 

But you do bring up a good point, that tier 8 cruisers just get demolished at tier 10. Really though, every cruiser that gets tiered up is going to have a bad day. Mid tier cruisers took the biggest hit with the AFT nerf, and we are still seeing those effects at mid tiers.

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US ships are just garbage. If you think the NO is bad, just wait until you play the Baltimore.

 

But you do bring up a good point, that tier 8 cruisers just get demolished at tier 10. Really though, every cruiser that gets tiered up is going to have a bad day. Mid tier cruisers took the biggest hit with the AFT nerf, and we are still seeing those effects at mid tiers.

 

Actually the biggest winner of that AFT nerf were tier 7 cruisers. It was absurd that a Cleveland could outrange my Pensacola. Now, that crap simply doesn't happen anymore.

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So basically sit on your bottom half the bloody game, waiting for someone to make a mistake...

 

Welcome to World of Ranked/Battleships/Destroyers...

 

One of the biggest issues I have with CVs right now, (outside of the controls, and mid-to-high tier,) sure you can scout, and maybe try to snipe a DD, but you might as well not even bother trying to attack anything big unless some is a yolo idiot, or until half the game is over and the enmy team is damaged spread out.

 

WG wants us to be agressive; yet with two classes of ships (in higher tiers at least,) doing so seems tantamount to suicide, (cruiser insta-delete or carrier air-group anhilliation.)

 

On the point about switching from light to heavy guns, perhaps that is part of the reason I think Atago is such a piece of useless junk... 'Awesome ship my fanny,' not when my average damage in the Blue Barge is 19k...

 

Is waiting until your opponent has expended much of his ability to fight before striking not a valid tactic? Sometimes the key to victory just won't appear immediately, no matter what you do in the early game. You simply do have to wait out the AA clusters, the fleet formations of impenetrable flak clouds.

 

Let me put it in this way. Two boxers are in a match. The first boxer decides to go on the offensive immediately, with a flurry of blows, trying to get a victory quickly. The second boxer, seeing this, decides to block, dodge, or otherwise stand strong against his opponent, and wait for an opening. The match goes on for a bit, when the first boxer starts to tire, as he obviously can't keep up his barrage forever, slows down, punches become sloppier. The second boxer, seeing that the first has tired himself, goes on the offensive, exploiting the exhaustion the first is under. The first is unable to put up a defense effectively due to being tired from his early offensive, and is then soon defeated by the second.

 

You're statement "WG wants us to be aggressive; yet with two classes of ships (in higher tiers at least,) doing so seems tantamount to suicide, (cruiser insta-delete or carrier air-group annihilation.)"  whilst true, is only a part of the truth. Being aggressive EARLY in the game is suicide, but the enemy becomes sloppier, makes mistakes, and presents more openings for attacks as the game goes on. The time to strike, is not in the first few minutes, but rather later in the game.

 

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Is waiting until your opponent has expended much of his ability to fight before striking not a valid tactic? Sometimes the key to victory just won't appear immediately, no matter what you do in the early game. You simply do have to wait out the AA clusters, the fleet formations of impenetrable flak clouds.

 

Let me put it in this way. Two boxers are in a match. The first boxer decides to go on the offensive immediately, with a flurry of blows, trying to get a victory quickly. The second boxer, seeing this, decides to block, dodge, or otherwise stand strong against his opponent, and wait for an opening. The match goes on for a bit, when the first boxer starts to tire, as he obviously can't keep up his barrage forever, slows down, punches become sloppier. The second boxer, seeing that the first has tired himself, goes on the offensive, exploiting the exhaustion the first is under. The first is unable to put up a defense effectively due to being tired from his early offensive, and is then soon defeated by the second.

 

You're statement "WG wants us to be aggressive; yet with two classes of ships (in higher tiers at least,) doing so seems tantamount to suicide, (cruiser insta-delete or carrier air-group annihilation.)"  whilst true, is only a part of the truth. Being aggressive EARLY in the game is suicide, but the enemy becomes sloppier, makes mistakes, and presents more openings for attacks as the game goes on. The time to strike, is not in the first few minutes, but rather later in the game.

 

 

But even trying to be aggressive later on is a challenge, and if you wait too long, you miss out on opportunities to do a bunch of damage.  

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But even trying to be aggressive later on is a challenge, and if you wait too long, you miss out on opportunities to do a bunch of damage.  

 

But isn't victory the ultimate goal? A massive amount of damage won't do you much good if the game ends in defeat.

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Just want to point out that IJN cruisers make the switch from CL to CA at Tier 5.  But then again, they are often considered to be the most viable CA line.  

 

I'm a cruiser main and I really only have two problems with high tier cruiser gameplay.  The first, and probably most common complaint, is the ability to lose 75%-100% of my health from a single salvo even when angled.  This is ins't as big a problem at long ranges and I don't mind getting deleted if I messed up and showed full broad side.  I run the incoming fire alert on some of my cruisers, which pretty much entirely removes the threat of getting sniped at long ranges by a BB you didn't see.  For me the real problem is that it this makes it incredibly difficult to close distance with enemy BBs which leads into my my second point...

 

Cruisers are primarily a support class and are heavily dependent on the rest of their team.  I like to play aggressive and cover DDs as they push caps.  But if our BBs don't push this creates a dilemma.  If I do push, then when I'm inevitably spotted, I'll be the juiciest and closest target and instantly focused fired by the enemy BBs.  This forces me to retreat, as even if angled it's only a matter of time until I start getting over matched for a citadel.  But if I don't help with the cap, our DDs will get massacred and a loss becomes likely.

 

I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression.  I love high tier cruiser play and I feel I can consistently get good personal results.  It just gets frustrating at times as I feel cruisers have the least individual affect on a game.  They are force multiplies, they can be the decisive edge in helping DDs push caps, and they can provide fire support to brawling BBs to turn the tide.  But if the DDs don't cap and the BBs don't brawl, a cruiser won't be very good at pushing a contested a cap and it certainly won't do very well brawling against a BB.

 

*TL/DR

 

For me the BB sniping/camping meta is the biggest problem for cruisers at the time being

 

Edited by yashma

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But isn't victory the ultimate goal? A massive amount of damage won't do you much good if the game ends in defeat.

 

But absolutely terrible damage won't get you squat either in a win.

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Just want to point out that IJN cruisers make the switch from CL to CA at Tier 5.  But then again, they are often considered to be the most viable CA line.  

 

I'm a cruiser main and I really only have two problems with high tier cruiser gameplay.  The first, and probably most common complaint, is the ability to lose 75%-100% of my health from a single salvo even when angled.  This is ins't as big a problem at long ranges and I don't mind getting deleted if I messed up and showed full broad side.  I run the incoming fire alert on some of my cruisers, which pretty much entirely removes the threat of getting sniped at long ranges by a BB you didn't see.  For me the real problem is that it this makes it incredibly difficult to close distance with enemy BBs which leads into my my second point...

 

Cruisers are primarily a support class and are heavily dependent on the rest of their team.  I like to play aggressive and cover DDs as they push caps.  But if our BBs don't push this creates a dilemma.  If I do push, then when I'm inevitably spotted, I'll be the juiciest and closest target and instantly focused fired by the enemy BBs.  This forces me to retreat, as even if angled it's only a matter of time until I start getting over matched for a citadel.  But if I don't help with the cap, our DDs will get massacred and a loss becomes likely.

 

I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression.  I love high tier cruiser play and I feel I can consistently get good personal results.  It just gets frustrating at times as I feel cruisers have the least individual affect on a game.  They are force multiplies, they can be the decisive edge in helping DDs push caps, and they can provide fire support to brawling BBs to turn the tide.  But if the DDs don't cap and the BBs don't brawl, a cruiser won't be very good at pushing a contested a cap and it certainly won't do very well brawling against a BB.

 

*TL/DR

 

For me the BB sniping/camping meta is the biggest problem for cruisers at the time being

 

 

That is more a problem with BB captains being too passive, *Glares menacingly at bow camping BB captains*  but many people equate this dilemma you describe to cruisers being far too weak, or battleships being far too strong.

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But absolutely terrible damage won't get you squat either in a win.

 

I suppose that is where one's skill comes into play, acquiring both damage, and a victory.

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Being aggressive EARLY in the game is suicide, but the enemy becomes sloppier, makes mistakes, and presents more openings for attacks as the game goes on. The time to strike, is not in the first few minutes, but rather later in the game.

 

I don't deny this; and it is likely one of my greatest faults as a CV driver; an inability to be patient...

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There is indeed a transition around tier 7 for cruisers. I think it's more than just going from CL to CA.

 

First, as OP mentioned, DDs suddenly have more range, more concealment, better torps, etc. The range of engagement starts being pretty far considering the agility of DDs. The accuracy of your shots gets very low at that range, so instead of being able to get full salvoes on DDs, you get a few hits here and there. Nothing scary. Also, since the range in bigger, your shots take longer to get to the target, making then easier to dodge. In order to have a better chance at killing DDs, a cruisers has to charge forward, and we all know what happens to a cruiser on the front line.

 

Next, cruisers do get bigger guns. However, I think these news guns make them unfit to hunt DDs. The alpha damage of the 203mm isn't enough to one shot a broadside/sitting DD (like a BB can one shot a broadside cruiser). The reload time is also pretty long, allowing DDs to escape or, at least, get in a more advantageous position to avoid shots from the cruiser. When a BB shoots a broadside cruiser, if the cruiser survives, he's either lucky because of RNG or the BB was a bad shot, otherwise he's back in port. A cruiser shooting a DD? You don't have the damage or the rate of fire to get rid of him. You need allies to help you kill him. As an example, the Furutaka, the first CA in the game, can deal tremenduous damage to other cruisers and even hurt BBs with her big guns. I feel, however, that she's probably the less effective DD hunting cruiser at tier 5 because of the low turning rate of her turrets and the slow firing rate. I'd much rather sail an Omaha to hunt them with rapid fire.

 

Another point that I think is never mentioned is how cruisers start becoming "little Battleships" at around tier 6-7. What I mean by this is that they get chubbier and chubbier. Cruisers get bigger and with this, turn slower and thus, show broadside longer. I think this was in part addressed with the latest rudder upgrade. It doesn't affect the ships turning radius however. When a cruiser needs 2 km to do a 180 degree turn, it doesn't matter that your rudder shifts in 0.5 seconds, you're still going to show your broadside for a long time while retreating. When adding the fact that cruisers have inexistent armor, it makes them easy targets for everybody (including other cruisers). In comparison, lower tier CLs are very agile. They take enough time to turn that if they don't time it well enough, they'll get erased, but fast enough that you actually have time to turn between shots from a BB.

 

Lastly, let's not forget that everything around cruisers get better. DDs get more range, more concealment, better torpedoes, etc. BBs suddenly get almost as fast as cruisers, they get better guns that get more accurate without a reload nerf like cruisers do, they get good armor and torpedo protection, they are allowed to spec concealment and some of them get better concealment than cruisers, they get very good secondaries and help with countering their hard counter, some of them even get torpedoes! While the power ratio between DDs vs BBs stays relatively the same throughout the game, the power ratio between BBs vs cruisers gets off the charts at higher tiers. A citadel hit from BB has no comparison in what a cruiser can do to a DD.

 

In conclusion, I want to mention that it is possible to do well in cruisers. However, I think they are still bad at doing what they are supposed to do, hunt and sink DDs. They are great in a boring  passive support role, shooting down inexistent planes and waiting for DDs to do suicide runs on them... They can't do much on their own, but do great in numbers. As long as someone takes hits for you, you'll be able to rain damage on your target. You will need more teamwork than other classes to be able to do well and you will rely on your teammates to achieve good results.

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But isn't victory the ultimate goal? A massive amount of damage won't do you much good if the game ends in defeat.

 

A massive amount of damage is needed to offset the Service TAX WG implemented two patches ago. Sitting on your rear doing nothing and getting no damage is going to get VERY expensive if you do it on a regular basis. I found this out very quickly using the Yorck. Service TAXES at tier 7+:

T7: 42k
T8: 75k
T9: 120k
T10: 180k

 

No way you can work at a win-only style and afford to keep playing the game at these levels. 

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yet another BB driver here, to tell cruiser drivers, you're simply doing it wrong, rather than there's a fundamental problem with the fact that BB's can one-shot delete cruisers.

 

FTFY

 

The fact is, cruisers were never designed to stand up to battleship gunfire.  they should not be battleship prey.  Battleships can simply delete cruisers, cruisers cannot simply delete DD's because DD's have no citadels.  That means, vs their prime targets, cruisers are at best going to be settling for 33% of their max damage via standard penetration, where battleship drivers get to enjoy overmatching armor, citadel punching goodness.  How does that seem reasonable or fair? 

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FTFY

 

The fact is, cruisers were never designed to stand up to battleship gunfire.  they should not be battleship prey.  Battleships can simply delete cruisers, cruisers cannot simply delete DD's because DD's have no citadels.  That means, vs their prime targets, cruisers are at best going to be settling for 33% of their max damage via standard penetration, where battleship drivers get to enjoy overmatching armor, citadel punching goodness.  How does that seem reasonable or fair? 

 

I have a lot of games in both BBs and CAs and I completely agree with this statement; which is why I'm all for a nerf to BB citadel damage.  Asking for a 10-15% drop in citadel damage may be in order to give cruisers a bit more forgiveness for their mistakes and allow them to remain in the fight a bit longer.  
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I have a lot of games in both BBs and CAs and I completely agree with this statement; which is why I'm all for a nerf to BB citadel damage.  Asking for a 10-15% drop in citadel damage may be in order to give cruisers a bit more forgiveness for their mistakes and allow them to remain in the fight a bit longer.  

 

I love my BBs, but that doesn't stop me from supporting your post. +1!

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