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Intermediate Guide to Becoming a Better Player

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Alpha Tester
242 posts
7,854 battles

At this point in your Warship career, you have already learned some of the basic principles of the game such as how to fire your guns, and torpedoes, what a citadel is, the basics of how to aim, how to switch ammo types, etc. You have also likely made some progression towards some of the end tier ships and are probably getting a bit more frustrated with the skill gap. While you might have only a few hundred games combine some of the players you have been facing will have that many battles in a single ship which is making that grind that much hard. This guide will hopefully help you narrow that gap and be more competitive against those more experienced players. Further, the focus of this guide will be on the tactics and ships most likely to be used and encountered in later tiers (7-10).

Know Your Ships

The most important part of becoming a better player is having a strong ‘working’ knowledge of the ship that you are sailing or will be sailing in and the ships you will be facing. For the former, knowing your ship, you should understand the ships strengths and weaknesses such as the weapon systems (high or low velocity rounds, turret traverse, reload time and fire chances[1] for main battery, range, detectability and speed for torpedoes, and range and DPM limits for both the AA and secondary guns), armor values, citadel location, maneuverability, and consumable choices. Knowledge of these stats will help increase your damage output and increase your survivability as well as perform the best role for that specific ship. Further, this knowledge will help in making the decisions that I will discuss below, both in battle and pre-battle.

Armor Layout

Understanding the armor layout of your ship is crucial to your survival. This can be done by selecting your ship while in port and selecting Armor Layout to the right, just below the Captain. From here, you can select or select certain areas of armor to see both internal and external values. Three of the most important things to take note of are the bow armor values, side armor values surrounding the citadel and the citadel itself. The citadel is a very important part of your ship to know and comes with extra pieces of information to be aware of such as whether or not it sits above the waterline, are there any angles to it, and whether or not it has a turtleback armor scheme.

Bow armor values are important because of the overmatch mechanic that exists in the game (I’ll talk more about that later). Knowing how thick your bow is and what shell calibers can overmatch it should help you determine if bow on will be safer than showing a bit more side or vice versa but also help you pick certain Captain Skills. This is typically more important for Battleships but can be just also be applicable to cruisers as well, particularly heavy cruisers.

Turtleback armor is typically found in the German Battleships and some of the cruisers. It is also far more effective in battleships due to the overall thickness and thus protection that it provides them. In close quarters engagements, especially while broadside, they are nearly impossible to citadel. This is what the turtleback armor is good for. The same can be said for cruisers that have it as well but it is usually only effective against other cruisers. Against battleships, it can actually provide just enough armor to arm the large caliber shell’s fuse, resulting in a citadel instead of an over penetration.


Your positioning in battle, both geographically and against the enemy, is always something to consider. Further, it’s your ship and thus your knowledge of it, that helps make this determination. An example would be if you have thick bow armor, particularly for your tier, bow in to the enemy can be a great option. Add in the potential for good maneuverability and you can alter your speed and direction (forward and back) to help throw the enemy’s shots off. The capabilities of your guns will also play a factor. Both the American and Royal Navy cruisers and American Destroyers tend to have low velocity shells. This causes the shells to have a very high arc which will allow the player to ‘lob’ their shots over and behind islands. What this also means is you can maintain solid cover and still do damage, or hit targets who otherwise considered themselves safe from your teams fire.

More maneuverable ships, such as cruisers and destroyers should try to avoid static play, i.e. bow in and stay mobile as much as possible. Plan your route and exit strategies accordingly as well, this goes for battleships too. There will be times when you will be forced to show your broadside and doing so should have the shortest exposure time as possible. Use islands, or smoke whenever possible and if you can, watch the ships that are aiming at you. Many will try to anticipate your turn and fire accordingly. This is when you can either change direction, for cruisers and destroyers, or dump your speed quickly to throw their shots. Cover, whether solid or artificial, can be a great ally and utilizing it to its fullest potential is key to both doing damage, and receiving little.

Ammo Choice

Most ships have at least two different types of ammo and many have three; Armor piercing (AP), High Explosive (HE) and Torpedoes. Your choice of what to use and when you use will greatly increase your damage output and even survivability. Most cruisers, with the exception of the tech tree Royal Navy ships, tend to rely on their HE rounds for most circumstances and only switch to AP for the occasional broadside target. HE rounds are great for damaging low armor targets, damaging or destroying modules, damaging hard targets, such as a bow-in battleship and of course, setting fires. This is why so many players utilize their HE rounds most frequently as the damage over time, especially when fires have been set on multiple ships simultaneously, can add up quickly. The best way to take advantage of a good fire starter, such as the Chapayev or Zao, is to set a fire on one ship, and then to the next and repeat. Also, focusing on ships that have burned their damage control is crucial as the fire or fires will burn for their full duration. For this to be the most effective, team communication is important, though sometimes this may just be within a division.

Your Armor Piercing rounds are best suited for broadside targets. For most ships, aiming at the waterline, for the citadel, is the sweet spot for best damage potential. However, if a German battleship is your target, aim either at the superstructure or just below the deckline for best results. In a battleship AP tends to be the only round used. The reasons behind this are; they do the most damage and the reload time is long. Switching between AP and HE can be costly due to the long reload as situations where HE might have been more useful can quickly fade, especially when dealing with a cruiser or destroyer. AP can be very effective against softer targets, particularly if you are patient. For cruisers, waiting for the broadside is ideal while for destroyers, waiting for an angle between broadside and bow-in is the best. This increases you chance of getting full penetration damage as opposed to overpens.

The use of torpedoes, particularly for cruisers, is often very situational. This is largely due to the fact that your detectability exceeds that of your torpedo range. In short, you can’t launch torpedoes without being detected. Further, seeing as how you typically need to show your broadside in order to launch your fish, your game could come to an abrupt end if a battleship is your target. As a result, ambushing or defensive uses tend to be the most common instances in which cruisers use their torpedoes. However, they can still be used for area denial or against targets that are otherwise engaged by someone else and not paying attention to you.

The use of torpedoes with destroyers tends to be far less situational as their torpedoes have longer range and their ships have greater detectability. This allows them to use them more offensively and from concealment, particularly at higher tiers


World of Warships offers two main types of aiming reticules to the player; static and dynamic. Further, the option for extra information, such as range to target and estimated flight time of your shell to the target can be enabled temporarily via the Alt button or all the time through the settings menu by selecting the ‘Alternative Interface Mode’ option under Controls and setting it to either Full or Adaptive[2]. I personally prefer to always see this information as it aids in aiming and distance estimation to points in smoke for torpedo use. As for choosing between static or dynamic crosshairs, that tends to be a personal preference so long as you understand the differences between the two.

The static crosshairs, which has the biggest variety, is tailored to ships that go 20 knots, such as early tier USN Battleships, at full zoom. Further, the distance between the gradients on them does not adjust dynamically to zooming in or out. This can make them somewhat difficult to use as most late tier ship exceed that by a factor of 1.5 or greater. However, I have learned how to use them to great effect and here is how.

Using the estimated time to target as a base line, I line the gradient markers on my reticule with the bow of the ship as follows. For most upper tier BB’s, with the exceptions of the Iowa and Missouri, I take the time to target, say 10 sec, add 2-3 sec and that’s the gradient marker on my reticule that I line up on the bow, so 12-13. For most cruisers and the fast BBs, I multiply that by 1.5 and then typically at 1, so about 15 or 16. Finally, for destroyers I tend to multiply by 2.5 if they are not running speed boost (look at the smoke, if it is dark gray, they are running normal, but if it is thick and black they are running speed boost) and 3 if they are running speed boost. If, however, they are a Russian DD, I may tack on an extra 1-2 ticks because they are so fast. There are still other exceptions to these tricks, such as the Yamato, which is on the slower side of the high tier battleships so I only add 1-2 ticks instead of the 2-3. A lot of what I’ve learned in using the static crosshairs is trial and error and lots of practice. It will take time, but I have had great luck and you can too.

Dynamic crosshairs are designed more towards ships that travel at 30 knots and dynamically adjust the distance between each gradient depending on zoom level. This makes them great for hitting close targets or fast moving targets. I personally have not had great luck with the dynamic crosshairs but I know others enjoy them, such as Notser. To my understanding however, for targets traveling about 30 knots, you use the estimated time to target as the baseline, say 10 sec, and line up the 10 mark on the reticule with the center of the ship. For ships that travel faster, the factor by which they are traveling faster than 30 is the multiplier you would use for the gradient. An example might be trying to hit a ship that you know travels 36 knots. That’s a factor of 1.2. So for a 10 sec travel time you would aim at the 12 mark.[3]

Torpedo aiming is, in its basic form, quite simple. Place the green directional marker within the white estimate cone. However, the key word there is estimate. The cone is only considering a ships current course and speed. In lower tiers, this was often sufficient. In upper tiers, on the other hand, players have (usually) learned to not sail in a straight line and to vary their speed. They have also learned which ships have torpedoes, know their ranges and typically know when a destroyer is nearby. What all this means is that, at medium to long ranges, that cone is not very useful. What you need to be able to do is predict a players course changes and account for those when you send your torpedoes. If they turn in towards you, you need to send them on the inside of the cone, and if they start turning out and away from you, you need to send to the outside of the cone. How much you do this depends on the ship you’re targeting and its maneuverability. Most of what I can say here is play and learn by trying. Many players tend to be habitual in what they do, so watch for patterns. When do they turn out versus turn in? Are they constantly adjusting their speeds? Are there other ships targeting them? Figuring these questions out will help with making sure your torpedoes hit their targets.


Knowledge of your ship and how it performs is the first step in deciding the ships load-out. Also, knowing your own play style[4] and how you would prefer to play the ship is just as important as well. If you prefer to play with a more gun focus, then picking modules that increase accuracy, or reload speed, or turret traverse and their durability are things to consider, similarly with a torpedo focus. However, if you prefer the close in battles, a secondary battery focus is something to pick while still considering what your main armament requires to be most efficient. The same can be said if you want more of an AA build, particularly those ships that inherently have strong AA, such as the USN battleships and cruisers. Also, consider a ship’s weaknesses as well. Flammable ships, like the German BBs, can benefit from Damage Control modules, while ships with slow or below average rudder shift can benefit from the Rudder modules.

I would always recommend running premium consumables if you can afford it. Not only does it give you one extra charge or usage but the cool-down tends to be shorter as well. Always try to run flags as well. As you are grinding up, I would recommend running flags that benefit ship XP, commander XP, free XP and of course credits. Anything after that should focus on the ship performance and how you prefer to play that ship.

Finally I would also always recommend running your ship with camo. The buff, minor though it may be, to concealment and or enemy dispersion can mean big things over the course of a single battle. Not to mention many of the premium camos offer increases in income or XP.

For more details on module load-outs for individual ships I would strongly recommend watching some of the YouTube videos that Notser puts up. He does an excellent job at the beginning of each of his videos outlining his load-out and captain skills

Captain Skills

Just as with load-out, knowledge of one’s ship and how you would like to play it based on its and your strengths and weaknesses is key in training your captain. Due to the MANY different options and combinations I will keep this section short and point you in the directions to make your selections easier. First, I would recommend that you captain have a bare minimum of 10 points for best success at higher tiers with the ideal minimum being 15. Of course, the best would be 18 or 19 but we have to start somewhere. The usage of Elite Commander Experience can come in handy in retraining or training up new captains quickly, however, chances are you don’t have any yet so I would recommend using a previous ship to help train up to the 10 points or a premium if you have them. A great resource for planning captain skills is Shipcomrade.com. Not only can you pick out skills before you have the points, but you can see all the benefits to each skill listed at the end. Further, you can also see what other players have saved and recommend for certain ships. Finally, as with Load-outs, a great resource is to watch videos that Notser has created about specific ships for more ideas.

Game Mechanics

The primary game mechanics that I will be covering in this section are Overmatch, Auto bounce, over penetration, concealment and spotting, damage saturation and RNG.

Overmatching occurs when the shells caliber meets or exceeds 14.3 times the thickness of the armor in which it will penetrate. Once this threshold has been met, ricochets and shell breakups will not occur on contact with that section of ship. As most upper tier battleships have 32mm of bow armor, the only ship capable over overmatching their bow armor is the Yamato as its 460mm shells are greater than 14.3 X 32.

Auto bounce occurs when first, overmatching is not met and second, the inside angle of the shell’s path in relation to the angle of the armor it will hit is equal to or less than 30°. This tends to happen often when shooting at a bow in or a heavily angled target. Further, and certainly worth noting, if a ship’s armor has an angle of between 30° and 45°, bounces may still occur.

Over penetration can be a very annoying mechanic, especially for ships with large caliber guns like battleships, particularly when a cruiser armed with torpedoes is presenting a broadside just before launch. Over penetrations occur when the fuse on an AP shell does not have time (has not passed through enough armor) to arm the fuse and cause it to explode will in the ship or citadel. According to the World of Warships Wiki, if your ship has 410mm guns, the shell needs to penetrate a minimum of 68mm of armor in order to detonate. This is a little deceiving however as this can be reduced with range and water. For battleship players who are shooting at a close range cruiser, this means that unless they are presenting an angle that is less than 90° but great but greater than 45° you can overpen and do minimal damage. So to counter this mechanic, you can wait until they are at an angle that is greater than 45° or if they are presenting a perfect broadside, aim just below the waterline (a few pixels).

Concealment and spotting mechanics have changed considerably since the game first launched. In the current version though, the mechanics are quite a bit simpler. First off, the concealment of a ship is broken down into 2 parts, surface and air, and affected by its base concealment plus modules, load-outs and captain skills with some ships having concealment below 6km. Concealment is then negatively affected by fires and firing of any armament except torpedoes. Line of sight plays a large part in concealment and spotting as well. If not ship has a direct line of site to yours, regardless of detectability, you will not be spotted, even when you fire. Islands will provide this kind of cover as well as smoke. However, the exception to this is proximity spotting, which occurs when an enemy ship is within a base of 2km, regardless of line of site. The 6th slot module, Target Acquisition, will extend this to 3km and hydro can extend it even further. Radar, on the other hand, is effective up to its maximum range, regardless of line of site.

Situational Awareness

Maintaining situational awareness while in battle is extraordinarily important to your survival. It will help you avoid torpedoes, islands, friendly ships and taking unnecessary damage. The two easiest tools to use to help achieve better situational awareness is the minimap. If it is too small or too big you can use the Ctrl and the plus or minus key to increase or decrease the size of it respectively. Further, by holding Ctrl and using the mouse to hit the Settings cog in the upper right corner of the minimap, you can adjust the overlays that are displayed on it as well as its opacity. The second of those tools is to avoid being zoomed in all the time. Using the shift button will immediately bring you out of zoom, regardless of zoom level so you can look around you. Further, using shift in conjunction with the right mouse button will allow you to look around without losing your point of aim.

Things to always watch for are smoke screens, friendly ships, incoming fire and torpedoes. First off, smoke screens typically mean there’s a destroyer in that area, which in turn means torpedoes. Keeping your head on a swivel will also help you spot already spotted torpedoes. They might not be close enough to sound the in-game torpedo alarms so spotting them earlier as opposed to later is always important. Further, knowing where friendly ships are prevents you from getting in their way, or vice versa or more importantly, running into their torpedoes or guns. Always assume that the friendly player isn’t paying attention, particularly when there are targets within torpedo range and they’re behind you. Finally, watching the horizon for incoming shells, especially if you are broadside to those shells, can help you avoid lots of damage but just adjusting course or speed. Though there is a captain skill to notify you of incoming fire, knowing where it’s actually coming from is more important.

Advanced Tactics & Skills

Up to this point, most of the skills necessary for your success has been either already learned or already discussed. In this section, I’ll go over some of the nuances that will better you as a player help eliminate the enemy in a more efficient manner.

Manual Targeting

Holding control and left clicking on an aircraft or squadron with increase the effectiveness of your ships AA. Further, if you are running the Manual AA captain skill, this will increase this even further. The same can be done on a ship too for your secondary batteries. Though there is a similar skill for your captain (Manual Secondaries) which greatly increased their accuracy, if you are running that skill secondaries will not fire unless a target has been selected. As a result, though the skill is very affective, I would recommend getting into the habit before using that skill.

Gun Locking

You can lock your guns to either a specific point in relations to the ship or to a sector using Ctrl + X and Shift + X respectively. Typically, these commands are useful when you are making a hard turn or planning ahead for where your guns need to be. I also use them when I need to have my guns ready for a specific area or target during a reload while I check my surroundings.

Free Looking

This is a particularly useful mechanic to utilize, particularly in rapid firing ships.  When you are zoomed in, pressing and holding the Right Mouse Button (RMB) will zoom you all the way out and allow you to free look around your ship. With this, you can check for other targets, incoming torpedoes or anything else that could be hazardous. This is a huge aspect of the situational awareness discussed earlier in the guide. Doing so also locks your guns on that particular spot (range and bearing) so you can reacquire your current target easily by just releasing the RMB.

Selecting and Deselecting Targets

Pressing the X key while your reticule is over a target will allow you to select a target more quickly than letting the auto-select kick in. I find it more useful by deselecting targets in two instances. The first is the wrong target is selecting when two or more targets are close together. The second instance is a way to fake an enemy out if they are using the Incoming Fire captain skill or are using Priority Target. Though this doesn’t work very well for players with good situational awareness, for those without you can have good luck, particularly if they are close. If they are at medium to long range this isn’t as useful as your dispersion can suffer significantly when a target is not selected.

Inertia Fused High Explosive

Though this is technically a captain skill, the mechanics of this skill places it here. Inertia Fused High Explosive or IFHE is the 4-point captain skill that increases the penetration of your HE rounds by 30% while reducing fire chance by 1% for calibers up to and including 139mm and a fire chance reduction of 3% for calibers exceeding 139mm. As most ships follow a 1/6 caliber penetration rule for HE (German and British battleships and German cruisers adhere to a 1/4 caliber rule), meaning the penetration is equal to that of 1/6 the caliber of the shell. So a 152mm has ~25mm of penetration. This is important because without IFHE you cannot penetrate 27mm bow armor that many lower tier ships have. However, with a 30% increase in penetration, you now have 32.5, which rounds to 33mm of penetration. Now you can penetrate the bow armor of every ship in the game. Keep in mind however, if you gun caliber is anything above 192mm (33x6) for all but the Germans - which is 132mm (33x4) - then it tends to be a waste of 4 captain points as you can already penetrate 32mm.

Damage Saturation

All ships are broken up into 4 zones - one bow, 2 mid, and one stern. As a ship takes damage to these zones, either through penetrating or over penetrating shots, their given HP pool gets depleted. When this happens, further damage gets reduced and can ultimately get negated by this mechanic. You can estimate a sections damage saturation by how dark that area has become - black bring complete saturation. Once that happens, any penetrating or over penetrating shots from either AP or HE rounds will do no damage. However, fires, flooding and hours to the citadel will still inflict their full damage potential.


Tools and Resources

Below you will find a list of link to tools, websites, YouTube playlists and anything else that I would consider useful to your learning experience.

  • http://wiki.wargaming.net/en/World_of_Warships - Wargaming’s resource for everything Warships. From ship data to mechanics, maps, consumables – it has it all.
  • http://shipcomrade.com/ - Another good resource for World of Warships information. Of note, is the Captain Skill Calculator which I highlighted earlier.
  • iChase – An excellent YouTuber and WoWs Community Contributor. Most notably for this guide, is his Captain’s Academy Playlist. A must watch for the visual learner
  • Notser – Another YouTuber with very informative content. Though he tends to lack some of that situational awareness, particularly when it comes to islands, his added details about his load-outs and captain skills are very useful for players new to a ship.
  • Best World of Warship Replays – No commentary given, however, can be useful to watch to see how good games are played in a particular ship.

There are plenty of other YouTubers and streamers out there but these just those that I find to be the most helpful. 


[1] Fire chances can be broken down in two main groups – Stock and upgraded. The upgraded group can vary quite a bit due to captain skills and flags.

[2] I use Full exclusively

[3] I am by no means an expert at using the Dynamic crosshairs so any corrections are welcome.

[4] See Playing to Your Strengths: A How to Guide for more information


  • Cool 5

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728 posts
9,309 battles

Nice guide. Summarizes some of the key information quite well.


Only thing I'll nitpick is the HE Penetration; 1/4 rule applies to German Cruisers and Battleships ONLY, and not their Destroyers. It also applies to British Battleships.


Otherwise this is a good read.

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Alpha Tester
242 posts
7,854 battles

Thanks, wrote it a while ago and tried to update it for things I could think of, no surprise I missed a few things

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2 posts
9,310 battles

Still a great overview and useful recommendations.  One additional note: RNG can play a huge effect on the end results of a battle.  I've had a Leander (3100 max HP per hit) put 100 hits into enemy ships and only do 30k dmg (average dmg: 1/10th of max dmg).  It wouldn't have been as noticeable except the previous game was facing a New Orleans and doing so little damage even the other player commented on the bad luck.  At the other extreme, I've also hit/been hit for 40k dmg in one shot (and not be a detonation).



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Well-written and concise guide that manages to be fairly comprehensive without overloading with too much detail.

Would recommend.

Excellent work Snipey.



Edited by Dr_Powderfinger

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Alpha Tester
242 posts
7,854 battles

As I may not always remember to add new things as they change or come in a new patch or if I have missed anything, please feel free to leave suggestions for edits or additions.

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