So I've seen a number of analyses floating around based on the Conqueror numbers that WoWSdevblog released this week, and I've found a number of them to be troublingly off-the-mark in terms of what conclusions people have drawn from them.
The full text of the data portion is in the spoiler below, but I've also rearranged the data into a tables for easier reference within each question.
Now, let's see what we can actually tell about the ship from the data provided.
1. Who plays Conqueror?
The wowdevblog post is interesting because it provided access to data that the public normally doesn't get to see. Rather than providing player-base-wide statistics like Warships.today or wows-numbers, they pulled the numbers for only those players who own Conqueror.
This allows us to compare the numbers for Conqueror Players (wowsdevblog) vs. the playerbase as a whole (warships.today 2wk):
There's one very consistent takeaway from this comparison, which is that Conqueror ownership is skewed toward above-average battleship players. In all four ships, Conqueror owners have higher damage and winrate than the general population. I didn't list them, but the same is also true of survival rate and kills/death.
Conclusion: Conqueror is still owned primarily by above-average players.
This supports the popular belief that ship stats in the first few months after release are skewed toward high-skill players who acquire them first, and confirms that this bias persists for at least that several-month window. It refutes the theory that Conqueror's strangely low winrate is due to skill dilution as the general masses have gotten a hold of the ship over time -- the Conqueror playerbase is still skewed toward high skill.
Finally, a minor technical note:
2. What is Conqueror's food?
The data also contained a breakdown of damage by type of ship the Conqueror shot. This data is normally unavailable to the public.
Total "ships" of damage done
The percentages shown are "% of a healthbar of the ship being shot". One-shotting a full-health destroyer for 20k would show up as "100.0%" in the original chart, but I've converted it to the easier-to-understand "1 DD healthbar" in the chart above. Knocking that same 20k off a 40k-max HP cruiser would show up as a "0.5 CA healthbars" in the cruiser column. Blasting a 100k HP battleship for 20k would show up as "0.2 BB healthbars". The general idea here is that it's far less important how many HP of damage you do, and far more important how many ships or fractions-of-ships you're taking away in a round. Note that this is the same basic system used to calculate XP earnings in-game. Also note that it will often take more than 100% HP to kill a ship, if it is allowed to repair, as it effectively has more HP than "one healthbar" at that point.
So what does this tell us? First of all, it tells us what kinds of ships Conqueror players are aiming at. It's battleships. Holy crap, is it battleships. While all four BBs do similar amounts of damage to destroyers (an average of ~15% of a destroyer kill per round), Conqueror has much higher BB damage per round. Where is all that firepower coming from? Turns out, it's coming from NOT shooting cruisers -- Conqueror has only 2/3 as many average cruiserbars as the other BBs.
Second question, is Conqueror really more lethal than the other battleships? Going by the last column of ship-equivalents killed, the answer is, perhaps surprisingly, no. In fact, among this (remember, above-average) group, Montana is actually just as lethal. The big difference is in how that lethality is achieved. Montana takes that bite largely out of cruisers, killing an average of 0.708 cruisers per match (almost 50% more than Conqueror's 0.473!). Conqueror, on the other hand, gets its damage from battleships. Since battleships have much larger health bars, this shows up as a higher amount of damage done overall, but results in only the same amount of "ship" being killed.
Conclusion: Conqueror feeds on battleships instead of cruisers like every other BB.
In terms of balance decisions, this is informative. It means that Conqueror's HE-heavy style of play is being applied primarily against other battleships, and has actually lessened the threat against cruisers, at least the way people are playing her today. Since WG believes BBs are slightly overpopulated and CAs are too threatened, this actually means Conqueror's HE spam is good for class balance.
It may also explain why Conqueror's winrate is not significantly different from the other battleships. While ships like Montana and Grosser Kurfurst are efficient at removing cruisers from the battlefield quickly, Conqueror is busy grinding down battleships. This would result in high damage output, but kills would occur later in the match, giving the enemy more time to deal damage to the Conqueror's team. The slow-acting HE+fire damage of Conqueror, therefore, would be less impactful on the match than early-game burst that removed enemy guns quickly.
3. Does Conqueror do more damage, or just live longer?
Conqueror lives significantly longer than any other battleship in the game under most circumstances. Given its extremely potent repair party consumable, this should not be surprising. This leads to an interesting question: is Conqueror really putting out more damage than the other BBs, or is it putting out similar levels of damage and being propped up by its extreme survivability? If Conqueror is due for a nerf, this distinction is important: is it the ship's offensive capability level that needs to come down, or its defensive capability level?
Average Time in Game
It turns out that the answer is a little of both. Conqueror does more DPM, and also does it for longer. However, an important adjustment is needed here. As we all know, basically no firing takes place during the first 2 minutes or so of a round, as ships sail toward the capture points but contact has not yet been made. It doesn't make sense to tally DPM over a period of time in which includes non-combat action -- DPM is artificially zero for this period. If all the ships live about the same amount of time, then this doesn't matter, because everyone still gets the same amount of active engagement time. However, Conqueror lives significantly longer than the others, and that extra minute or so is 100% engagement time.
So, here are the numbers after adjusting the DPM to ignore 2 minutes of non-combat time at the beginning of each round:
Average Time in Game
Average Combat Time in Game
Adjusted Average DPM
These numbers are, by and large, now very close. Conqueror is within spitting distance of Yamato's DPM, and all four battleships are within a 500 DPM spread. The total DPM numbers vary by only 5% between highest and lowest, which is a quite tight spread, all told.
Conclusion: Conqueror is not putting out more DPM than other Tier X Battleships. It is living longer while doing similar damage.
This means that, again IF Conqueror were to be targeted for a nerf, it is the defensive capabilities that should be examined more closely. Its guns are not delivering more intense damage pressure than the other battleships, they're just around longer to do it.
Final thoughts: Does the Conqueror nerf make sense?
Well... yes and no. Analysis 3 above shows that if something is due for a nerfing on Conqueror, it should be its survivability. Definitely not the guns. And that's what we're getting, a nerf to the cooldown of the repair consumable and a token reduction in its ability to disappear between salvos at medium-short range. So, the nerf is targeted to the right area.
But was a nerf really needed due to OP-ness? In all honesty, given the more in-depth data we now have, the answer may very well be no. Conqueror doesn't kill more ships per game than the other battleships (and it's not just KS'ing, it's also true of healthbars overall). And that's the case even though it spends nearly 10% more time in combat than the other ships. The damage it's doing is primarily to other battleships, and seeing a Conqueror on the opposing team is actually better for cruisers than seeing a Montana or Kurfurst.
And yet, it's also hard to deny that fighting a Conqueror is a supremely irritating experience. It disappears whenever it wants. You're always on 2 fires. If you can't kill it inside 60 seconds, you're not going to for a very long time. The Conqueror may not be more impactful than other battleships, but the quality of life of fighting one just sucks. In that sense, the proposed nerfs make even more sense. The concealment nerf makes it less likely to ambush your cruiser or pull a ninja vanishing act in the middle of a fight. The heal nerf was specifically to the cooldown of the consumable, and not its amount or intensity of healing while active. That means that the Conqueror isn't any easier to burst down than it was before, but if you can keep it lit, you now have a much longer window of time in which to kill it before the next super heal happens.
Ultimately, the "nerfs" to Conqueror are really more about quality of life than sheer power. They file down the rough edges around the cloaking device and miracle heal power. They don't lower its damage output, they don't change its targeting priorities, and they don't make it less survivable in the long run. And according the numbers, that's exactly how it should be.
TL;DR: Conq is owned by above-average players, who burn battleships with it instead of blapping cruisers. It doesn't actually do more DPM than other BBs, it just lives longer. The nerfs change none of that, they just make the ship less annoying to fight.
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