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Des Moines vs. the World (Part 1: Overview)

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Why the Des Moines is the best tier X cruiser in the game (except Khaba).

A little background/foreword, I'm Gavroche and I've been playing this game on and off since open beta amassing somewhere over 5k games so far. I consider myself a cruiser main as I love the speed, stealth, and flexibility of the Goldilocks class. I currently have all the tier X cruisers except Henri, so I would consider myself decently informed about the gameplay of high tier cruisers. My first and favorite tier X cruiser was the Des Moines, back when there was only her and the Zao/Senjo. Back then gameplay was very different! Carriers and torpedo destroyers were much more prominent and battleships were less common and less dominant in a typical game. The Baltimore was one of the weakest ships in the game when it came to fighting other ships, since it lacked the radar and rapid reload we associate with it today. Nonetheless, her AA was top notch and escort was an important role. You had to put yourself in a position to defend against a CV snipe and protect your fleet.

When I finally got to the Daisy Mae, it was something of a shock for me. The Daisy Mae is larger than the Baltimore, with a slightly raised citadel, leading to some embarrassing deletions by Yamatos and Shimakazes because of the lower concealment, poorer concealment, and more sluggish movements. Yet, with a full 10rpm base, combined with the modules that reduces reload by 12%, meant that these wonderful American AP savloes came out every five seconds. You still couldn't pick fights with Yamatos or Zaos 1v1, but catching an enemy unawares often meant 20-30k damage before they got their first shot on you. I've "devastating strike'd" North Carolinas with the AP on this ship. Similiarly, her HE is equally exceptional, bearing a not so slight resemblance to a flamethrower.

As WoWs progressed, the Des Moines slowly got power creeped. CVs and DDs became less powerful, less common, and more constrained, leading to a reduced utility in countering them. Battleships grew in power and number after successive updates. Finally, other cruisers such as Hindenburg, which edges out Daisy Mae in AP DPM, Moskva, which has much better damage potential at longer ranges, and of course the Zao, with her insane HE ability, reduced the Des Moines to being simply a situational cruiser. She was still good for rapid dpm at close ranges, but unable to compete on the wider and more open maps that were introduced.

However, with the addition of radar, and with new changes in the meta, I think that somehow, quietly, the Des Moines once again rises to the top of the cruiser list, and here are the reasons why:

Des Moines: Strengths!


The #1 defining feature of the Des Moines is her unique 8" Autoloaders. With a base RoF of 10 RPM, she fires much faster than any other of the 8" cruisers or, in a chart:

Tier X cruiser stock setup comparison:

Of course numbers without context are worthless. so here is my interpretation: Des Moines AP DPM can only realistically be matched by Hindenburg and Minotaur. Minnie's damage is limited by her poor shell performance in terms of penetration and shell speed. Hindenburg does better at AP, especially at range, but at close ranges, it's actually a bit of a toss up. Hindenburg's AP has poorer normalization and penetration suffers greatly from it. Also, with Hindenburg, fully realizing her DPM requires her to expose an unacceptable amount of broadside. Hindy's alpha damage is a great strength though, as burst damage is greatly prefered over sustained damage.

In terms of HE, it's a lot closer. At close range, nothing even comes close to Daisy Mae's HE spam, however it's significantly easier to land HE salvos with the other tier X cruisers (excepting Minnie). Shooting at a DD 12km away from a Des Moines is more or less equivalent to shooting a DD from 14-15km in a Moskva.

Concealment and Maneuverability:

IMO Des Moines has less than stellar stealth with 10.6km concealment fully upgraded, compared with Baltimore's 9.6km. However, it easily beats everything other than Zao and Minnie in this cruiser comparison. This is essential, in my opinion as Des Moines simply cannot survive fighting equivalent tier ship at longer ranges. Due to her slow shells, her effective DPM falls off exponentially past 12km  Battleship AP easily pens Des Moines armor ( a point we'll bring up later) so it is imperative to use her stealth to maneuver her into advantageous fights (preferable when the enemy isn't shooting back).

In terms of Maneuverability I would rank it similarly. It's much worse than the Baltimore's and behind Zao and Minnie's but better than Hindenburg, Moskva, and Henri, sometimes significantly.

AA and Utilities:

All tier X cruisers have good AA. Yet, Des Moine's AA transcends such mundane word such as "good." Her AA is the equivalent to a solid brick wall reaching to upper stratosphere surrounding the ship in 76mm death! Actually, without def AA (which I don't run) it's fairly anemic, but no carrier wants to test whether a DM has def AA equiped by the equivalent of sticking her hand in, so you generally don't have to worry. As a matter of fact, isn't the best AA the AA that isn't even needed?

For the other cruisers, only Hindenburg matches this level.

In terms of Utility, Des Moines is unopposed. Her radar is one of the best, lasting for about forever (30s) and with a 9.6km range. Although this cannot compare with Moskva's radar range, it does allow for a full 45s of radar with the module. No DD wants to be within 9.9km of a Des Moines. This, combined with her AA makes her IMO the best escort in the game.



Des Moines is coated in 25mm magnets which attract enemy BB shells. Unless a shell srikes the belt armor at an angle, any 16" shell or higher is going to punch straight into your ship, something that only the Minotaur can empathize with (Minnie gets it worse, though). Des Moines also has a raised citadel and sits higher in the water when compared to Baltimore and the other tier X cruisers. All of this, combined with a merely "decent" health pool leads to a surprisingly fragile ship.

Another point to note is that Daisy Mae's signature turrets are also quite vulnerable and can easily be disabled. Whenever one of my turrets is disabled, I automatically repair it if my repair is not on cooldown. Two or three fires is a secondary concern compared to the loss of a full 33.3% of your dpm.

The Des Moines also has a relatively poor torpedo belt, which reduces incoming damage by approximately zero.


Anemic. Her default range of 16km is worse in class, but it doesn't even matter because of how difficult it is to hit ships at extended ranges. For a short period of time I tried running the range module, but I ended that when stealth firing was removed. I would hesitate to break stealth and open an engagement at ranges exceeding 14km. If there is any choice, try to close in to <12km ranges before opening fire (not always possible, esp. on tears of the cruisers).

One of the biggest issues with the poor range is that the Des Moises really prefers to be with the fleet. Her radar, AA, and squishyness are all good reasons to stick with some battleships or wolf pack with other cruisers. They gain the benefit of your consumables while they draw some of the incoming fire from your vulnerable ship. However, if enagements occur at 16+ kilometers, the Des Moines really struggles to accomplish much.



That should be the basics of the Des Moines, in Part II I will cover my personal build, talk about roles and then in part III compare it in more depth to each of the other cruisers individually.

Edited by Gavorche
Des Moines reload 5.5 not 6.0, bow armor 27, not 25
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The Des Moines base ROF was buffed to 5.5 secs (4.8 secs with MBM 3) a while ago.  The Radar is 9.9 km for 40 sec (56 sec with module).  The Des Moines (and Hindenburg) are the only cruisers capable of bouncing 15" AP (Bismarck, Tirpitz, and Monarch) off their Bows.  

Edited by DanielLeary
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47 minutes ago, DanielLeary said:

The Des Moines base ROF was buffed to 5.5 secs (4.8 secs with MBM 3) a while ago.  The Radar is 9.9 km for 40 sec (56 sec with module).  The Des Moines (and Hindenburg) are the only cruisers capable of bouncing 15" AP (Bismarck, Tirpitz, and Monarch) off their Bows.  

Oh, wow maybe that's why I suddenly felt the Des Moines was so much better. Lol, I never even noticed that...

Thanks for the reply, post has been updated.

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Alpha Tester
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Her AA without DF AA is Anemic?


The current max HP of Midways TB's (which is higher than the DB's) is 2559, maybe rounded up to 2560. A Des with BFT, flag, Manual, and the current slot 3 AA damage upgrade, focusing fire (as it should) is 1102 for just the 127 mm and 76.2 mm guns. Which all open up around 7.2 km if they have the range upgrade and AFT. So at 7.2 km they have a 43% chance every second of shooting down a plane. A probably closer to 37% for the groups that aren't focused. Considering Full AA Montana gets to 1355 which sure, is just over 50%, also needs them to be inside 40 mm range. Still about 2 km less. So all things considered, I wouldn't call it's non DF AA anemic, especially if you've built for AA generally but opted to take Radar over it. Which is also why us CV players get irritated when they keep buffing AA like the change to BFT and all. Des goes full AA at 7 km it can put out up to 3306 damage, that's 129% chance every second to shoot a plane down. A tier X plane. That's going to be replaced by an aircraft that currently would have 500hp less and is slower, meaning it's in AA longer. That, would be 160% chance every second against the current Lex TB's when they become the standard of Essex and Midway. It's actually even higher against them when on a Lex because they lack the extra 15% upgrade you can get on HP. 

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56 minutes ago, DanielLeary said:

 The Des Moines (and Hindenburg) are the only cruisers capable of bouncing 15" AP (Bismarck, Tirpitz, and Monarch) off their Bows.  

Baltimore, Roon and Hipper can also do that.

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