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SEATOPEN

Zao Numbers Terrible--Advice Needed

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I enjoy playing the Zao, she is one of my 15 T10 ships (I may have a problem).  However, my record in this ship is a miserable 42% with a record of 65 - 91.  Some relevant stats:

Main Gun Accuracy: 36%

Average Damage: 66,600

Warships Destroyed: .7

XP Average: 1482

Ships Destroyed: 107 (67 guns, 18 torps,  22 fire)

Maximum kills:  3

Captain: 19 pt Yamamoto w/Prevent Maint, Exp Loader, Expert Marks, Ad Rush, Surv Exp, SuperInd, Demo Exp, Concealment Exp

Modules:  Main Arm Mod 1, Damage Control Mod 1, Aiming Sys Mod 1, Steering Gears Mod 2, Concealment System Mod 1, Gun Fire Control Mod 2.

I know I'm short on lethality but can't figure it out.

PLEASE HELP!

Edited by SEATOPEN

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Expert loader and surviveability expert, and possibly demo expert are rather wasted skill points IMO. I'd rather use RPF and some fire reduction/consumable reload skills.

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Respec your captain:

priority target

expert marksman

demo expert

concealment

adrenaline rush

superintendant

 

i would say the last four points are captains choice.  Aft for improved daka daka, maybe vigilance/pm or Bos/pm Survivabilty expert is a silly choice for a cruiser-more if a good dd skill imho.  I’m also not a huge fan of expert loader.

 

use your concealment to your advantage. Disengage when focused, don’t yolo, keep everything at arms length and burn baby burn. My zao experience is limited to space battles, but my first 200k damage battle was in that ship.  I do have the hindy though and they are quite similar.  Both are good at denying areas to enemy ships and being super annoying.

Your stats aren’t terrible, just your win rate. Take a look at what your doing and make sure your helping the team With the objective.

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17 minutes ago, gmrbull said:

Respec your captain:

priority target

expert marksman

demo expert

concealment

adrenaline rush

superintendant

 

i would say the last four points are captains choice.  Aft for improved daka daka, maybe vigilance/pm or Bos/pm Survivabilty expert is a silly choice for a cruiser-more if a good dd skill imho.  I’m also not a huge fan of expert loader.

 

use your concealment to your advantage. Disengage when focused, don’t yolo, keep everything at arms length and burn baby burn. My zao experience is limited to space battles, but my first 200k damage battle was in that ship.  I do have the hindy though and they are quite similar.  Both are good at denying areas to enemy ships and being super annoying.

Your stats aren’t terrible, just your win rate. Take a look at what your doing and make sure your helping the team With the objective.

gmrbull, demo expert is a waste on the Zao.  It's all a matter of diminishing returns and math.  The higher the base fire start chance (FSC) is, the less valuable DE becomes.  DE is great on DDs, meh on cruisers, and a total waste on BBs, even RN BBs.

How so?

If you have a DD with a base 4% FSC, adding DE (+2%) is a 50% increase to the FSC.  OTOH, if you have a cruiser with a cruiser with a base 20% FSC, adding DE (+2%) is only a 10% increase to the FSC.  And if you have a BB with a 40% FSC adding DE is only a 5% increase to the FSC.

Thus, it seems to me that adding a mere 2% to the Zao's already high FSC (a bit over 20% as I recall) is not a particularly efficient use of 3 skill points.  And that those 3 skill points could be used on something where you could get a better return.

 

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25 minutes ago, Isuzu_Sento said:

Expert loader and surviveability expert, and possibly demo expert are rather wasted skill points IMO. I'd rather use RPF and some fire reduction/consumable reload skills.

Aside from the fact that I had the EL skill on realism grounds, I find that it's also a pain in the behind to use effectively because it requires that ALL of your guns be fully loaded at the time you want to make the ammo switch.  Sometimes, this isn't a problem, but sometimes it is.  For example, if your rear guns are loaded, but the front ones are reloading, EL gives you no benefit if you want to switch.  You'd have to either wait for the front guns to finish reloading before making the switch to gain the benefit of EL, or you'd have to just switch ammo immediately and get no benefit from EL.  Seems like a waste of a skill to me, because its usefulness is limited.

As for SE and  DE, I agree.   Oh, I suppose that 3500 more HP on the Zao in particular isn't a total waste, but it seems like there are more useful skills to be taken.  And I've written in a previous post that I think that DE is largely a wasted skill on the Zao.

 

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Zao is a CA that is very difficult to do well in, but extremely rewarding if you can master her. Of course she was much more powerful in previous versions of the game, but she's been nerfed considerably. All things granted, she is still a potent ship but is sadly outgunned by all other cruisers at her tier.

Here are my Zao captain specs if you want a good glimpse of how to kit her out properly:
-Priority Target
-Expert Marksman
-Adrenaline Rush
-Demolition Expert (seems like people think this is a redundant skill judging from the posts here, but ehh)
-Superintendent
-Concealment Expert
-Radio Position Finding (this is entirely optional since I used it for clan battles)

If you think Demo Expert is redundant and RPF doesn't seem all that helpful, you have 7 more points to invest in what you see fit. Vigilance is a good choice if DD torps are a constant issue for you.

My Zao's stats aren't all that spectacular either, and this is coming from someone who has done very well in Atago and Mogami. Something about her just doesn't seem to ring with me...but I've had clan members tell me Zao has to be played like a destroyer. Try to kite at good distances but don't overextend too far where you're either out of the engagement or you can't cover your teammates effectively. Use stealth to your advantage because only the Minotaur outspots you. If you see a broadside cruiser, load AP and go to down. Otherwise, use HE for everything else. And don't even think about using your torps unless it's a last desperation attack, or an enemy has no idea that you're rounding an island and you're absolutely positive their guns aren't aiming in your direction.

How well did you do in the Mogami? It's better to get some practice down in a lower tier CA than a high-tier one and have your credits and stats tank badly. Zao is a very expensive CA to play after all if you don't use her premium camo(s).

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**edit** - After initially pulling up my #'s my Zao #'s have plummeted in the last month to 47%, so take what I say below with a grain of salt.  :-)
 
One thing about Zao that was a game changer for me a few weeks ago and saw me pull my numbers way up (though they are still
subpar in my view also) was better using her concealment.  There should be significant periods of time, even at long range, when you are not shooting in her cause you are repositioning or what not.  However whenever that happens *something* (hopefully two somethings) should be on fire.  :-) I've found the Zao has made me start to pay really close attention to which BBs have popped repairs or not.
 
Re: Skills I am not going to state much other than to say that Expert Loader is a skill I have found very handy, but mostly in the early game when supporting DDs.  The Zao's stealth allows her to eat Neptunes and Minotaurs for lunch and I love nothing more than seeing a Minotaur pushing near a cap supporting a DD.  ;-)  I usually push a cap with a DD early game, support and then fall back, always being sure I am angling away before firing.  I do run Vigilance because with her small HP pool a single torp can really really hurt.
 
Recently I do feel I have been underestimating the power of the Zao's AP, which I have seen a few other folks say is common.  Someone noted broadside cruisers and that's for sure, but I think the same may apply if you are (un)fortunate enough to find yourself against a BB showing his broadside 12KM or less, especially non Tier X ones. I still try to light them on fire, but once I've got a fire or two going I've lately been switching to AP. You are not going to penetrate the belt (most likely) but aim up and you will decimate the super structure and likely penetrate any casemate armor.   I was doing 7 - 10K damage per salvo against an Amagi that I ran into coming around an island and sank it with AP a few days ago, far more than I was doing with HE prior to switching.  Similar experience with a Missouri a few days prior also.  I haven't fully explored this yet though and need to spend time in a test room and watchin' videos this weekend with her to feel it out a bit more.
 
 
Edited by seaherder
update.
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I actually think zao is fine cruiser that requires you to have some situation awareness.   I run RDF on mine to keep surprise down.      otherwise,  pretty straight forward  setup.      pt,  ar/em,  si,    rdf/ce and   se or vig as last    great for kiting and   burning down the world.    I am averaging as much or better than hindy at the moment.    (ok only 20 match though)      torps are nice if you can use it  for kiting or around island.     

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I was jacked to get Zao a loooong time ago.  No bones about it, it's a great ship. 

That said, I have to play it repeatedly before I can pull some real performance out of it.  It has troll armor, but somehow I find a way to catch every cit possible. 

GL, I can't tell you any more than Flamu...

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Be patient, work Zao's amazing concealment to your advantage.  Use concealment to get into fights under your preferences.

 

There are times when simply sitting at range spamming shells will be fine.  But there are times when her great concealment is an immense asset.

 

Use it to easily "go dark" when sh*t's getting too crazy.  On the flip side Henri IV, Moskva, Hindenburg have very mediocre to downright abysmal concealment and have a hard time disengaging unless they were sitting far away.  Not Zao.  Zao can fight at close ranges for surprise attacks and then easily disappear the next moment.

 

Pay attention to what's going on in the match, look for ships and positions, firing angles where you can leverage the power of your guns.  Get there by Zao's great concealment, then unload, and then disappear before the reds can focus you.  Look for opportunities to plant AP, which is very underrated with Zao as many just think of using only her HE.  Her AP is very competitive and punishing.

 

Zao is very competitive at Tier X because of her combination of range, power in her guns alongside that concealment.  It lets her control the fights that she wants to get into far better.  If she doesn't want to stay in that fight?  She just disappears.  Use her concealment to put her guns in a good situation to profit with.  Use her concealment to deny the fight you don't want.

 

For me, I have a very high survival rate in her among the Cruisers that I play a lot of.  This is very important because I play super aggressively to the point of being a weakness in some matches.  Yet I still maintain a 53% Survival with 137 matches and a decent 52% Win Rate.  She is my only Cruiser with 100+ matches at a 50%+ Survival%.  I don't even consider myself worthy of mention with the more elite Zao players out there, yet I can eke out a 50%+ Survival and decent WR%, despite being too aggressive.

 

Another edit:  You got F3 torps.  They are for targets of opportunity.  However, unlike previous tiers, they are only 8km in range, not 10km.  They are super fast even without Torpedo Acceleration and are very powerful.  But the range is mediocre.  You can't use them like you did with Myoko thru Ibuki, dropping 10km torps just outside your concealment range and not get spotted, and still expect to hit pursuers.  The 8km F3s cannot do that.  They are for for island ambushes (that still need a lot of care to get those torp angles into play) and making a BB pay for not killing you before you are on top of them.  Do NOT flash your sides in front of someone to launch the F3 torps unless you want to suddenly die.  Launch them as you are passing them.  Of course, do not do head-on torpedo attacks against a Cruiser that has more favorable torp launch angles like Minotaur and Hindenburg.

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

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The Zao is a ninja. She can go everywhere alone and can still be fine. She is hard to citadel and packs a punch.
I like to move along rocks at the start and maybe surprise a BB, otherwise use your sniper guns to flank enemys and make them regret their position choices.

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Just recently graduated to Zao, and so far I am loving it. Probably helps that I am very used to DD gameplay with being all sneaky beaky and taking targets of opportunity then disappearing before the enemy takes notice. Or sometimes just sit behind the line and BBQ those BBs that decide to show you their broadside. Also, like others have pointed out, do not underestimate Zao's AP, they're very good at mid range, especially against cruisers, but can punish BBs heavily as well.

Zao's strongest points, imho, are the stealth and insane accuracy of its guns. I'm running concealment expert build with range mod and (shock horror) spotter plane. I was very pleasantly surprised that I can still consistently land hits at ships as far as 22 km away (as in "land 8 hits and set 3 fires in one salvo" accurate). I'm sure my targets weren't as happy about it, though.

Much like with DDs, Priority Target is a life saver. 0-1 is the operating range, as long as you keep track of who's that 1 targeting you is (a skill i picked up from DD play), and if the number is going up, it's time to go dark and relocate. Range mod in last slot allows you to have a really comfortable buffer between your detection range and your max gunnery range, while spotter plane provides with that quick burst of range when you absolutely need to hit that BB capping a cap half across the map.

While in generally I find Zao's turret angles to be less forgivable than her predecessors (you need to show more broadside to bring all 4 guns on target), her armor somehow feels sturdier, nibbling up fewer citadels even if you get caught broadside. Though random citadels through the aft still happen. Slow reload of 13.7s and fast rudder shift means you can wiggle your way around to minimize the amount of side you're showing, but it is important to keep track of your opponent's reload. Typically you can sneak in two salvos between BB's reloads, but fast-firing cruisers, like Des Moines and Minotaur can pose a lot more threat, especially up close, so better to not risk it unless necessary. Though Minotaur will have really hard time hitting you at your working distances (10-15 km nominally). If you get close to those, load AP and say hello to their citadel for me. One well-placed salvo will definitely make either of those ships think twice before engaging you again, assuming they live to tell the tale. Hindy is about similar to you, and is rather more difficult to citadel (but not impossible), so it's a lot more situational. Moskva... Well, give it the battleship treatment if it's far away, but AP will make very quick work of it at medium-close. On the other side, its AP will make quick work of you as well, so it's "balanced". On the good side, Moskvas don't have torps... Yet? I haven't really met enough Henris to say anything about them, sorry.

Oh, and yes, make sure you set fires. Lots of fires.

edit: And I rarely, if ever, stop moving. If getting out of range, go dark, turn around, pop up somewhere else, set more fires, vanish again, rinse and repeat.

That's it, i guess :)

Edited by Aessaya

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The recent addition of 12km torpedoes has made Zao much better.  In terms of open water fighting, she is the best, multi-dimensional Cruiser in her tier.

 

The 12km torps give her play options that you used to have with the VII-IX IJN Cruisers.  Now they are back.

Edited by HazeGrayUnderway

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20 hours ago, HazeGrayUnderway said:

The recent addition of 12km torpedoes has made Zao much better.  In terms of open water fighting, she is the best, multi-dimensional Cruiser in her tier.

 

The 12km torps give her play options that you used to have with the VII-IX IJN Cruisers.  Now they are back.

I agree, Unicums say the 12km torps were not needed - but I, mere mortal, say they were after the stealth fire nerf.  

I really like the Zao more now, finally. 

OP Seatopen, are you doing better these days?

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On 7/14/2018 at 4:06 PM, WhiteRecon said:

I agree, Unicums say the 12km torps were not needed - but I, mere mortal, say they were after the stealth fire nerf.  

I really like the Zao more now, finally. 

OP Seatopen, are you doing better these days?

You know it's great when Zao can sneak up and stealth torp ships in their smoke even if they had spotting ships in the area.  Had some great moments with Zao recently.

Feeding chasing BBs torpedoes while undetected, then opening up with HE + Fires after the floods land and DCP goes on CD.

Torpedoing and killing at 10-12km out a smoke camping Worcester (a DD dropped smoke for him).

 

As said before, tricks you used to be able to do in the past with prior IJN CAs, are finally back on the table.  But Zao is even better.  The prior IJN CAs had 10km torps so their windows are a bit tighter.  Zao has great stealth already and 12km torps is LOTS of leeway to operate.

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