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mofton

But is it *fun*? A Subjective Review of the T5-T8 FR BB

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Hello Gang,

I was fortunate enough to be gifted some France crates and from them I unlocked the four available French battleships. I swiftly ground out the required base XP to unlock them and wanted to try a few games with each and give some early feedback. Others may review the ships more quantitatively, but this is entirely a 'muh feels' subjective review with occasional unchecked fact or figure thrown in for effect. The ground rules are -

  • I played the ships a bit, but not a ton
  • After every sweeping statement read 'to me'
  • Same captain spec was used for almost all - having to change specs is unrealistic up a line
  • I used a 19pt captain
  • Much beer was consumed in the playtest
  • This review ignores 'good for the game' considerations, it is entirely selfish

 

Bretagne - Sad, Bad and Dangerous to be Around

It is almost impossible for me to separate Bretagne the ship from Bretagne the T5 matchmaking victim. The 5 games I spent in Bretagne were generally frustrating and unproductive, 4 of them were T7 MM. My first mistake was to take AR over EM, and I'd consider the turret traverse without EM basically unusable. No one likes being unable to track, having to choose between maneuvering and aiming, no one likes waiting - this is why as a society Amazon 1 hour delivery exists, well some Amazon tech would go a long way on this boat. To summarize -

  • Samey=lamey this is an ABPXY Super(ha!)-Dreadnought which does about 21kts and has 10 guns in the 12-14in range. Sound familiar? Yeah, that'd be TX, NY, Iron Duke and Kaiser, and people complained about 12-gun Conqueror...
  • Slow to the show and nothing to do when you get there - 21kts, well I suppose someone has to be Scharnhorst food
  • Unrewarding guns - they're just bad in every way, no ROF like Konig, no pen like NY, no mad-fires or HE citadels like Iron Duke, just bad accuracy, pen, traverse...
  • Low HP, though this could be a plus as at least you get to die sooner and go back to port to rethink your life. Not everyone can be the 54k HP Kongo, but 42k is just... le sigh
  • Distributed armor scheme can be pleasantly surprising for HE resistance and autobounce, but undercut by 19mm sections and with all the cons of the scheme too

Summary image -

3WLnkG8g.png

Summary -

Bretagne is like her namesake Brittany when you live in southern England, same climate, not that interesting for your summer vacation, oh and there are lots of bullies, and you're the slow kid. Your classmates are going to Rome or Disneyland. Perhaps a cheap flight to Greece beckons. FXP your air miles and save yourself the trouble.

How to make this ship fun -

You can't. Upgrading the traverse would be a quality of life change but won't fundamentally change the equation. Bretagne is over-tiered in this form and you can't afford to be a mediocre superdreadnought at T5. Suffering's good for the soul...

 

Normandie - Conflicted as a Frenchman in 1941

Normandie wasn't rewarding. I want a ship that when I do good things says 'WELL DONE MOFTON YOU CLEVER BOY, HERE'S A CITADEL RIBBON'. Well that's a problem in Normandie. Battleships are about guns. Normandie's guns aren't fun. Ergo, Normandie's not fun. Battleship drivers want to see large numbers pop up on screen, and Normandie is absolutely not the way to make this happen, go get a Fuso. To summarize -

  • What's got the bow-on number of barrels as a Fuso, the dispersion of a German BB and the penetration of an Ishizuchi? That's right, Normandie!
  • Speed is a trap to allow you to get isolated and nuked by a carrier. 27kts is pointless if you're chained within AA range of a cruiser who wants to sit behind an island.
  • You have 12 guns which is 20% more than Bretagne but a lot of the time you see no advantage
  • Oh the penetration, penetration gets another complaint here, and usually I don't care too much but T6 has some chunky battleships and this is insipid
  • Dunkerque exists. Dunkerque is fun.
  • Vulnerable to chunk damage with the armor scheme plus... shockingly, an exciting 48k HP, as always not everyone can be a 58k HP Mutsu, but any damage costs you dear and when it comes down to the wire HP are valuable
  • Secondaries almost look good except a) they're secondaries and b) secondaries are always useless. They are pretty though, so I tried a secondary spec (mod/AFT) a little, it was just frustrating. Best results - 132 hits for 1,677 damage and 2 fires in about 4 minutes...

Summary images -

hwOay6Q.png

Summary -

A battleship with bad guns. The end.

How to make this ship fun -

I don't know, traverse... better guns, I give up. FXP it is.

 

Lyon - Phew

Lyon is sex on screws in a way I can't even describe and which defies convention. Why is some thing beautiful, beautiful? Lyon is a joy and a departure from the line which I don't understand. In theory she's Normandie with 33% more firepower, but somehow the package translates into 333% more fun. I guess sometimes 33% more is the difference between bankrupt and happy days. My very first salvo with the ship where I derped and forgot modules, upgrades, consumables, camo - detonated a full HP Pensacola. First impressions are important. To merrily summarize -

  • France-ica F-YEAH coming to sail the seas with 16 barreelllls yeahh
  • T7 matchmaking, everything Bretagne has but the exact opposite
  • What is Agincourt? Agincourt is dead to me - go back to WWI you English peasant
  • Gun volume makes the gun system rewarding, especially rewarding DYNAMIC ammunition selection on a sub-caliber battleship. I like dynamism. Did you hear that RN BB HE spammers?
  • Both AP power - one memorable salvo put 10 overpens into an Omaha which is still 1/3 his HP - and HE (strong fire potential and 16 guns seems to pass a fires/salvo reliability threshold) are enjoyable
  • 8 guns in the back - actually decent firepower in one quadrant unlike Normandie, especially good for kiting
  • Good AA allows for independent action? Need to go smash some reds up but teammates busy eating glue? No problem, run down there and do whatcha gotta do
  • A little je ne sais quoi she stands up to the other T7 BB while being different and not OP, huzzah it's possible!

Summary Image -

No good ones sorry, too busy laughing in deletions. Here's my second game in the ship where I matched my 7-kills in a game record, first impressions and all that.

Spoiler

ISNyGxpg.png

Summary -

Tres bien. (French for pretty darned good).

How to make this ship fun -

Click 'Battle'.

 

Richelieu - I wanted to love you.

Richelieu can best be summed up as 'a very poor T10 battleship'. Like Bretagne I can't separate the ship from the MM, if you want an objective comparison to North Carolina and co I can't really give it. Richelieu to me was defined by uptiering (7 of 8 games were T10) and enjoyment wise she up tiers particularly poorly. To writ:

  1. 15in guns when uptiered can't pen extremities on KM/USN cruisers and DM/Hindy get more games than all the other T10 CA combined, I had some costly bounce sessions
  2. High velocity guns overpen a lot, and while in the Lyon example doing overpen damage to some poor low HP Omaha is one thing, doing it to a 50k HP T9-T10 cruiser is quite another, especially with their repairs, I lost chip wars frequently
  3. The advantage of the 15in gun in pen is not realized in game thanks to autobounce and 400mm armored Yamato's all over
  4. If you're going to get few opportunities to shine accuracy is key, when a good high-tier player shows broadside you have to punish it because it's not going to happen again, Richelieu will let you down
  5. Low number of barrels and ROF make the HE-spam alternative less than productive
  6. Entire ship is 32mm plated, so Yamato and Musashi love you
  7. Kutuzov loves you too

To summarize otherwise -

  • I 'get' Richelieu, I have a ton of games in Dunkerque, it's not for bow camping, it's for flanking, it just can't at T8 and it's so, so vulnerable to incoming fire
  • AA is 'ok' especially when combined with decent TDS, but you still get bashed by Midway's while being immune to Independence's (much skillz) and flanking is therefore penalized
  • Speed boost is nice, I guess, when I even notice it's on, it doesn't seem worth 'saving' so I'd mostly just do it on cool down, not very exciting
  • Miss, overpen or autobounce: pick your poison
  • The advantage of effective firepower thanks to A-X isn't enough to offset the guns lack of output. 30s reload with a good chance of whiffed shots is frustrating, too long waiting to reload, too many misses. Neither spray'n'pray, nor a sniper rifle. 
  • Shell velocity is pretty tasty, targets get low reaction time shells get to the postcode fast
  • Secondaries are mostly useless, I tried one game with the module and eh...
  • The range is insane but combines poorly with dispersion, while the lack of a spotter prohibits firing-into-smoke, poor-man-DFAA or a heads-up around islands, and you feel the loss

Summary Image -

Damage from Yamato (no citadel's just chunk after chunk on reasonable angling) and the range on the minimap is almost deceptive, you see a cruiser half way into your range and then realize he's still 17km out, and angled, and autobounces you...

ZvDBk5Jg.png

Summary -

Not quite enough.

How to make this ship fun -

Gascogne was always going to be worse than Richelieu due to gun arrangement, but WG have improved her sigma and the repair cooldown in recent tests. While Gascogne will need more 'soft buffs', Richelieu could get on that bandwagon to a lesser extent, a 28s reload might not be much in absolute terms but it's psychologically nice to have, or 1.9 sigma. Something to address the guns. Shooting guns is fun.

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They let you post on the forums!? Aw crap...

Spoiler

Nice write up mofton. Looking forward to the chance to play the Lyon, and despite the seeming lack luster performance of Richelieu, I am still looking forward to giving her a go myself.n

 

 

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Looking forward to Bretagne..Iove playing T5 Bbs and have a positive WR for all of them except 49% on Konig as the result of poor play in the past. I fear no T7 ships in any of my T5 BBs and welcome the extra XP when I sink them!

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I got the Lyon. There's something to be said about the hilarity of 16 derp guns and what they can do. 

"Bah that was a crappy shot, I whiffed it..."

*DEVASTATING STRIKE*

"KEK I'll take it."

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I wanted to like this line...tried grinding for the stuff...meh don't care.

 

Good review though

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I got the Normadie mission from a crate which made her the 3rd of my tier 6 BBs, Dunkerque and Mutsu being the other 2. After trying out Normadie in Co-Op and Scenarios, I came to the conclusion that Mutsu is much better and Normandie doesn't even come close to being as good as Dunk.

I didn't try Bretagne since I wasn't impressed by what I've heard. Lyon is damn good and is a keeper even though I rarely play BBs.

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Spot on @mofton, I have the same general feelings.

 

Tier VI Normandie, Tier VII Lyon are just about as or more squishy than Tier V Bretagne.  Bretagne is softer than New York.  Gun for gun, they're actually quite mediocre for Tier V-VII French BBs.  The only one that gets away with it is Lyon.  16 dice rolls, baby.

This is the logo for Lyon.

51pugD82l2L._SL500_AC_SS350_.jpg

 

 

Richelieu is a very meh Tier VIII BB.

15" guns that get bounced by tons of Cruisers in high tier, much less the BBs of high tier.

Low rifle count.

I rather have the floaty shells of North Carolina, Alabama.  They have far more telling effects and will pen a lot more stuff, and punish the Cruisers that try to get too cute with you.

 

The secondaries are a mixed bag.  The range is good, you have a decent number of them.  But they are middle of the road for Tier VIII in terms of range and reload.  Tirpitz, Bismarck have vastly superior secondaries, but Richelieu's are better than NC & Alabama.  Then again, Bismarck is among the most played BBs in the game, so I'm sure there's a Bismarck player that will be more than happy to duel you with secondaries. 

- The 152mm guns have an average fire rate for Tier VIII.  With BFT they reload at 10.8 seconds.  Bismarck's 150mm with BFT fire at 6.8 seconds.  The French guns are more damaging, but Bismarck, Tirpitz 150mm fire rate take their toll.

- The 100mm guns fire at 3.6 seconds with BFT.  The 105mm guns on Bismarck fire at 3.0 seconds with BFT.

Then again, if you want to use more secondaries against Bismarck, you have to show more sides.  I'm sure the German BB players will love that.

 

AA is pretty decent for Tier VIII.  With an AA Build she will be very dangerous to lower tier CV aircraft, and just costly enough for VIII CVs to maybe reconsider.  Higher tier CVs won't really care.

 

Between Bretagne, Normandie, Lyon, Richelieu, IMO tier for tier, Lyon is by far the best, most effective, most fun of the four.  The funny thing with Lyon is she has some really critical weaknesses, but as a BB with decent mobility, TONS of guns, deadly AA for Tier VII, she is among the safest BBs to play at Tier VII despite some questionable armor.  Her ability to laugh at CVs in tiers where they're actually fairly common, is important as she is less restricted and scared of aircraft than other Tier VII BBs.  I've sailed her out alone daring Kaga to come after me.

 

Scharnhorst is fast, strong, tough.  But send some planes her way and the fear mounts.

Gneisenau is the same.  The fun part is she can actually have just as good or better AA than Lyon at Tier VII, but of course, nobody specs her for AA.  So she gets blasted from the air like any other.  Another important thing though, is if Gneis goes AA Build, that means no magnificent secondaries to help you offset the Non-ASM1 guns.

Nagato, KGV, Nelson are also adversely impacted by air attack.

Then Lyon is just sailing along happy, doing Lyon things while shooting planes down.  It is the Tier VII BB that has effective, dangerous AA while having strong Main Battery capability, while having fair mobility on the map.  Most of the BBs in Tier VII cannot tick all those boxes.

 

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway
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Just an anecdote for me, but I took out my Normandie for a spin in Aegis last night and racked up almost 159k damage.  Was a fun match, but admittedly I'd need to actually play the ship a lot more before coming to a solid assessment.

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The good part for having Richelieu to me?  Having 111k ShipXPs on her right now, so Tier IX Alsace will be close when the line officially releases.

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Love this write up Mofton, I have experienced much as you describe as far as Lyon. Richelieu is such a dramatic change to her predecessors, I figure she will take some getting used to.

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Huh, see you saying worse Iron Duke isn't a great tier V? And with the power plant of "added nine frames kek" and better ammo 12x 340's with crap armor still doesn't work at tier VI?

Who'd have thought? :cap_hmm:

Anyways, ignoring my own opinion (I've been banging on this drum for way to long lol).

 

Either way, thanks for the (subjective) review, it was fun to read! 

Take my upvotes;

DuDGBGL.gif

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17 minutes ago, nuttybiscuit said:

Love this write up Mofton, I have experienced much as you describe as far as Lyon. Richelieu is such a dramatic change to her predecessors, I figure she will take some getting used to.

Dunkerque already shows this off, IMO.  Statistically, she is good to go, doing as well as the best of Tier VI.  There are players that swear by her.  But she also has plenty of people that hate playing her.

 

Both suffer from wonky gunnery past brawling ranges.  When you get closer, especially firing forward, both rack up lots of hits.  Her atypical setup also makes her weird to play.  Richelieu is very much the same way, but a tougher ship and better AA, secondaries.

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I really don't feel the same... But well, as you said : this review is entirely subjective ^^ 

Still a good review, well writen and fun to read ;)

 

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18 minutes ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

Dunkerque already shows this off, IMO.  Statistically, she is good to go, doing as well as the best of Tier VI.  There are players that swear by her.  But she also has plenty of people that hate playing her.

 

Both suffer from wonky gunnery past brawling ranges.  When you get closer, especially firing forward, both rack up lots of hits.  Her atypical setup also makes her weird to play.  Richelieu is very much the same way, but a tougher ship and better AA, secondaries.

I only started having serious fun with Dunkerque when I decided to get close up and very personal with the enemy, and stopped bow tank camping at sniper range.

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1 hour ago, Kapitan_Wuff said:

They let you post on the forums!?

Lyon is F U N !

1 hour ago, Show_Me_Your_Cits said:

There's something to be said about the hilarity of 16 derp guns and what they can do.

LOTS of F U N !

58 minutes ago, ReddNekk said:

Lyon is damn good and is a keeper even though I rarely play BBs.

Did I mention that Lyon is F U N !

55 minutes ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

Between Bretagne, Normandie, Lyon, Richelieu, IMO tier for tier, Lyon is by far the best, most effective, most fun of the four

That 16 gun salvo is truly devastating.

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2 hours ago, mofton said:

Much beer was consumed in the playtest

I need to do less reviews sober.

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If you listen closely enough, you can actually hear Strasbourg’s  muffled cries from the closet WG stuck her in.

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15 minutes ago, nuttybiscuit said:

I only started having serious fun with Dunkerque when I decided to get close up and very personal with the enemy, and stopped bow tank camping at sniper range.

Oh, I learned to stop bow camping with Dunkeke early on after having early run-ins with Warspite and Bayern :Smile_hiding:

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I only got to play two battles in the Lyon before leaving town for the weekend, but she was hilariously fun in those two battles.  

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Oh the joy of the Richelieu, low tiers over pens, high tiers shatters and overpens.

hits1.jpg.b4ea97c42d2110f79b8529abf14b56ac.jpg

Hits2.jpg.8c7f5af34b412a895bd900ae7da7e431.jpg

hits3.jpg.3f7b604ebe27c8262431b0479b2b1e49.jpg

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hits6.jpg.d2f90ac6b522776cf2dd276e8a784a35.jpg

You will lose turrets in high tier games.  I've never had a turret destroyed, but I did see both destroyed on Reddit.

hits5.jpg.34e0a5d5de0514698716c97bea7c438f.jpg

Also if you try and fight too close (<2km), your guns have very poor depression and you can only hit the superstructure of BBs 

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2 hours ago, mofton said:

 

Bretagne - Sad, Bad and Dangerous to be Around

It is almost impossible for me to separate Bretagne the ship from Bretagne the T5 matchmaking victim. The 5 games I spent in Bretagne were generally frustrating and unproductive, 4 of them were T7 MM. My first mistake was to take AR over EM, and I'd consider the turret traverse without EM basically unusable. No one likes being unable to track, having to choose between maneuvering and aiming, no one likes waiting - this is why as a society Amazon 1 hour delivery exists, well some Amazon tech would go a long way on this boat. To summarize -

Summary -

Bretagne is like her namesake Brittany when you live in southern England, same climate, not that interesting for your summer vacation, oh and there are lots of bullies, and you're the slow kid. Your classmates are going to Rome or Disneyland. Perhaps a cheap flight to Greece beckons. FXP your air miles and save yourself the trouble.

How to make this ship fun -

You can't. Upgrading the traverse would be a quality of life change but won't fundamentally change the equation. Bretagne is over-tiered in this form and you can't afford to be a mediocre superdreadnought at T5. Suffering's good for the soul...

Same. She will suffer alot.

2 hours ago, mofton said:

Normandie - Conflicted as a Frenchman in 1941

Normandie wasn't rewarding. I want a ship that when I do good things says 'WELL DONE MOFTON YOU CLEVER BOY, HERE'S A CITADEL RIBBON'. Well that's a problem in Normandie. Battleships are about guns. Normandie's guns aren't fun. Ergo, Normandie's not fun. Battleship drivers want to see large numbers pop up on screen, and Normandie is absolutely not the way to make this happen, go get a Fuso. To summarize -

  • What's got the bow-on number of barrels as a Fuso, the dispersion of a German BB and the penetration of an Ishizuchi? That's right, Normandie!
  • Speed is a trap to allow you to get isolated and nuked by a carrier. 27kts is pointless if you're chained within AA range of a cruiser who wants to sit behind an island.
  • You have 12 guns which is 20% more than Bretagne but a lot of the time you see no advantage
  • Oh the penetration, penetration gets another complaint here, and usually I don't care too much but T6 has some chunky battleships and this is insipid
  • Dunkerque exists. Dunkerque is fun.
  • Vulnerable to chunk damage with the armor scheme plus... shockingly, an exciting 48k HP, as always not everyone can be a 58k HP Mutsu, but any damage costs you dear and when it comes down to the wire HP are valuable
  • Secondaries almost look good except a) they're secondaries and b) secondaries are always useless. They are pretty though, so I tried a secondary spec (mod/AFT) a little, it was just frustrating. Best results - 132 hits for 1,677 damage and 2 fires in about 4 minutes...

Summary images -

hwOay6Q.png

Summary -

A battleship with bad guns. The end.

How to make this ship fun -

I don't know, traverse... better guns, I give up. FXP it is.

 

I don't have Lyon and Richelieu, so my subjective response is largely to Normandie, which you need to treat less like bow-tank and more like angle and broadside.

Your best bet in the early to mid stages is to drive broadside at 3/4, using Aiming Module to tighten your dispersion, and engaging cruisers with AP as you see opportunities, as well as destroyers.

Forget trying to engage battleships at 16 kilometers or further with AP, you are unlikely to be getting anything more than bounces and shatters.

However, once you get to 14 kilometers, aim along their turn if they are broadside and let her rip. I've chunked 8-10k with some regularity on New Mexicos and other tier VI battleships in this way. But if you want to be a real pain, waiting until they have burned DCP and then hitting them with HE will reliably start two fires.

You can also make destroyer lives unpleasant by coming in angled so your A and X turrets are reliably on target, and letting your secondaries do the talking. The forward facing battery of 139s is perfect for pushing destroyers and cruisers.

3/4 speed offers really good handling for dodging torpedoes, and by occasionally increasing to full you can outrun preplanned torpedo strikes.

For cruisers of almost all tiers except tier VIII, your guns are reliable enough to gain a citadel.

And with some, like Edinburgh, you can still citadel. One match I was uptiered and pushed early into C cap, finding an Edinburgh trying to flank our capping destroyer. Staggering my turrets, I hit him for three citadels, and he started his superheal. I got him with another citadel and a normal pen before he escaped, and my friendly destroyer finished him off. I also brawled and CQE a Farragut in the same cap at match start. Not a First Blood, but just seconds behind the reds. While I died a minute and a half after the Edinburgh because of my push, it secured one cap for us and put us on an edge that the rest of the team could carry.

You have to take the good with the bad, so the squishy sides aren't going to save you if someone focuses you, but typically you can escape notice.

But any focus by aircraft carriers will end with heartache. You just can't do anything to stop it. You just have to try and stick close to cruiser support and hope they are good enough to disperse the incoming. But in 38 battles, I've had at least a dozen battles with carriers, and in nine of those I ate torps, and in a couple AP bombs that gave me early retirement.

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37 minutes ago, Big_Spud said:

If you listen closely enough, you can actually hear Strasbourg’s  muffled cries from the closet WG stuck her in.

Yep... she could've been fun at tier VII if WG had given her an overhaul like Richelieu got post-war.

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