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dasCKD

The Carrier Problem

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Hello. I am here from abroad to talk into your ear for the next 45 minutes. Do not question my credentials to make the statement and balance judgements I do I have none.

I am back and a bit miffed but back. Whilst using autocorrect on some of the words in this article, I noted that 'twerking' was now an officially recognized word and I found that incredibly depressing.

The_Carrier_Problem.jpg

World of Warships is a house of cards that is constantly built upon by line after line and gimmick after gimmick. The carrier situation in general is what happens when we try to balance by tacking on extra features instead of looking at the game balance as a whole and working from there.

Foreword

Spoiler

I have gotten back into ranked battle and after being kicked around in cruisers for a while, I got back to carriers. The results were expected. All but one of the enemies I faced didn't know what strafing was and my team managed to lose a battle where I managed to do over 120 k damage and earned my first King of the Skies award. There is much that is said about balancing carriers, all the way from balancing the nations to trying to make it so that they are more balanced, the introduction of new ammunition and torpedoes in order to make it so that different carriers fill different niches and therefore lowering the necessity of balancing different loadouts and carrier types against each other, and the tweaking of hangar spaces that were a legacy holdover from the old days of carriers when loadouts weren't split across 3 plane types and where tier 7 carriers could face tier 9 carriers in battle. All of this has the typical issue with many of Wargaming's changes however. They are attempting to trim a tree's branches into the shape they want whilst the root rots unnoticed. Before we could discuss even overhauling carriers, the issue at the heart of carriers needs to be addressed. Even with these problems, I still see these problems as a distraction. It is a problem that carriers are such excessive skill multiplies. It is a problem that the introduction of gimmicks will only make carriers more and more unfriendly to newbies and that the way carrier tier advancement works both facilitates and encourages seal clubbing. All of these problems are, in my opinion, all distractions from the fundamental issue that drives the carrier problem. I think the problem with carriers is more fundamental than that. We need to get rid of AA ships. We need to get rid of the very concept of AA ships.


The Problem
The carrier problem, in my mind, boils down to two problems:

  • AA varies depending on different factors
  • AA gets destroyed

Which really is why we should just get rid of AA ships.

Spoiler

Now you might think that this is an insane conclusion to draw from the given facts. Most of your probably know that for sure already, but that's hardly the point. Whilst getting rid of AA completely would likely improve carrier numbers, it won't balance carriers in any appreciable way. It would just result in everyone migrating to carriers or leaving the game. It makes sense that Wargaming is apprehensive in making any power improvements to carriers and why they want to overhaul the entire carrier class. Leave it to Wargaming, I suppose, to burn down their entire port because they can't properly fit in a single ship. An entirely new mechanical system would indeed even the playing field as veteran players scramble to relearn the new carrier mechanics and newer players would be granted access to the carrier class. The impact to the player base with this change will be relatively low considering that pure carrier players are extremely rare and most veteran carrier players would simply migrate to other classes rather than leave the game outright. The problem then is that this is, to use my previous metaphor, not the uprooting of a rotten tree but the trimming of the dead leaf seemingly unaware of the fact that a rotting tree will only keep producing more rotten fruit and dead leaf until something is done about the root of the problem. Pressing reset doesn't do much to solve the issue when the machine is itself broken, soon enough a new crop of veterans to the new carrier will arise and we will be back where we are. The mobility of carriers and the ability to fully invest without having to irreparably lose the ship will still make carriers strategically superior to players who know how to properly make use of the superior mobility and reaction that carriers provide. The change, no matter how drastic, will change the issue with carriers that keeps them from being balanced. Whilst a carrier overhaul will get rid of the carrier skill gap temporarily, this is nothing more than another delaying tactic no different from promises of a carrier overhaul in 'the year of the carrier' that we have seen prior.

 

I would like to propose a thought experiment. Let's say we take a perfectly random sample form a population that plays two ships, ship X and ship Y. They have identical win rates, identical average damages, and one ship is better balanced than the kilogram weight standard and the other is a Saipan's and Belfast's lovechild if she was mounted with autoloading railguns and a smoke screen. Carriers are incredibly hard to master. For people who master them, they are often the highest performing ship of their roster. For the rest of the carrier players, the practically mythological power that likely drew them to the class in the first place is practically an impossibility as they are routinely routed and crushed under superior mechanical skill, superior strategic planning and baiting, or both. Theory can be a bit hard to grasp however, so I'll give a simpler example.

 

Capture.png

Lexington VS Shokaku bomb drop approximation

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Tier 8 carrier statistical numbers

The Shokaku and Lexington are incredibly different carriers, but their most obvious distinguishing feature is the function of their respective dive bomber squads. A single strike from a Lexington could eliminate almost anything up to and including tier X ships in her now defunct strike loadout whereas a ship like the Shokaku could only boast that capability against destroyers. I could distinctly remember routine examples of dive bomber strikes that have reduced tier X destroyers from full health to 0. I could also remember full strikes where the dive bomber grazes the ship for engine damage and nothing else. For this precise reason, many people favor the Shokaku over the Lexington. This might seem like a detraction from the topic of carrier balance in general, but the problem is the same. Whereas a Lexington is beholden to RNG, carriers as a class is beholden to the matchmaker. It does not matter if a carrier can clock in 200k damage in one game if for the next one she'll be floating her planes around, losing entire squads to ships that are spotted literally seconds before the squad resupply timer starts ticking.

 

The matchmaker issue is admittedly, to an extent, something which virtually every ship suffers from. A tier 8 ship might rip everything apart in a battle where they are top dog whereas they'll barely be able to hold their own in a tier X match. It is worse for carriers however thanks to how the AA system works. The comparison between the Shokaku and the Lexington is really only an example in this particular case. I have had games where the Lexington murdered everything, tier X battleships included, that she came across whilst also meeting matches where she barely claws back 30k damage. Carriers, in many ways, are just like this. If commanded by a competent captain(Not exemplary mind you, just competent), they could potentially massacre basically the entire game and win it for their allies, whereas even the best carrier players will run into games (quite often, mind you) where they are utterly useless. Everything about the way the AA system in World of Warships works is broken, sick, and wrong and whilst it is fun to rail against the latest blatantly overpowered AA suites like the Worcester or stupid changes like the removal of manual attacks at the learning tiers, we should not forget that the problem with carriers began near the genesis of the class.

The House of Cards
I am sure we have all seen tier X carrier tryhard divisions. I am sure that we all know that a ship's AA performance could be significantly increased by tacking on captain skills and captain upgrades. Most of us would likely have issues actually visualizing how far this could be taken however. For the selection process, I picked ships known for having excellent AA capabilities to compare with ships with less than stellar AA firepower in order to demonstrate my point. I am doing this for a reason that will become clear later down the page, for now I'll introduce you to the 4 ships that are selected for this comparison.

  • The Amagi
  • The North Carolina
  • The Yamato
  • The Montana
Spoiler

The AA Tax
Now many of you probably have never heard of Cross Sectional Fire Power. It makes sense to an extent, seeing as how I have just came up with this term just a few moments ago. In fact if you know the term, message me in private later about the stock market as you are evidently here from the future. The concept behind it is very simple though. To drop a payload, a plane needs to fly through AA. The longer you need to spend in AA, the more chances you will have to get your planes shot down. Relatively simple. The value does assume that the plane makes a perfect line towards the ship which is unrealistic. Nevertheless, it can serve as an approximation.

 

For those who need a refresher, here are the more common AA skills and upgrades:

  • AA upgrade +20% to AA aura size
  • Advanced firing training +20% to AA aura size
  • Basic firing training +20% AA aura strength
  • Manual AA +100% AA aura strength for AA > 85 mm

This gives a summed range extension multiplier of 1.44 and a damage improvement multiplier of either 1.2 or 2.4 depending on the AA caliber. Converted into a graph, it looks like this.

 
default altered
DPS Range CSFP DPS Range CSFP
Amagi 127 mm/40 Type89 A1 80.80 5.00 404.00 193.92 7.20 1,396.22
  25 mm/60 Type96 mod. 1 75.60 3.10 234.36 90.72 4.46 404.97
  13 mm/76 Type93 Quad 58.80 1.20 70.56 70.56 1.73 121.93
N Car 127 mm/38 Mk32 151.00 5.00 755.00 362.40 7.20 2,609.28
  20 mm Oerlikon Mk4 166.00 2.00 332.00 199.20 2.88 573.70
  40 mm Bofors Mk2 159.00 3.50 556.50 190.80 5.04 961.63
Yamato 25 mm/60 Type96 Tri mod. 1 134.00 3.10 415.40 160.80 4.46 717.81
  25 mm/60 Type96 Tri mod. 2 146.00 3.10 452.60 175.20 4.46 782.09
  127 mm/40 Type89 A1 61.00 5.00 305.00 146.40 7.20 1,054.08
  127 mm/40 Type89 A1 mod. 3 61.00 5.00 305.00 146.40 7.20 1,054.08
Montana 20 mm Oerlikon Mk4 72.00 2.00 144.00 86.40 2.88 248.83
  40 mm Bofors Mk2 318.00 3.50 1,113.00 381.60 5.04 1,923.26
  20 mm Oerlikon Mk20 122.00 2.00 244.00 146.40 2.88 421.63
  127 mm/54 Mk41 157.00 5.20 816.40 376.80 7.49 2,821.48

The values are highlighted according to their power. We can do that now in 2018 with color automatic assignment. Edit: which they appear to have removed now that I posted. Bugger.

  standard CSFP altered CSFP ratio
Amagi 708.92 1,923.13 2.71
N Car 1,643.50 4,144.61 2.52
Yamato 1,478.00 3,608.06 2.44
Montana 2,317.40 5,415.21 2.34

By modifying ships that are, for all practical purposes, identical, we could see a rise of anywhere from 2.5 to close to 3 times increase in effective AA firepower. An Amagi, a tier VIII battleship with decidedly mediocre AA almost attains the AA cross sectional firepower value of the standard Montana, the tier X AA battleship, by falling short by around 400 CSFP just by adding the skills to the captain.  This causes many issues. Firstly, it means that even AA ships need to invest in anti air skills if they ever want to be truly effective, detracting from other skills that they would greatly benefit from. Ships that are designed to be AA support could end up less effective than ships whose weakness are meant to be their weakness to carriers who simply spec against aircraft. This massive disparity between the performance of a ship against carriers had led to many issues one of which is the utter lack of consensus on how strong the AA should be. The fact that just about any artillery ship could be turned into AA monsters at the whims of each separate player. This issue can't be fixed by simply nerfing or buffing the AA values unless done so to the extent to either make ship AA either entirely meaningless or completely impenetrable to any carrier and therefore both invalidating any point of raising the performance of AA guns through captain skills. If Wargaming ever wants to let ships remain anywhere in the center of being somewhat vulnerable and somewhat resistant to carriers, the very concept of speccing into AA captain skills and upgrades needs to be erased from the very fabric of the game.

 

The main argument often leveled by Wargaming whenever the topic is that as carriers are quite rare, full AA builds are likewise rare and that very few can afford to build fully into AA. Whilst none of what they have said is factually inaccurate, it still does nothing to answer the concerns of the players. The very fact that it is even theoretically possible to create such an AA field using any ship is the problem and Wargaming's excuses will do nothing to fix the fact that carriers DO run across ships with such a setup. It also doesn't address the fact that they are forcing players who might want to use said upgrade slots and captain skills for something else to invest those points into anti-carrier measures should they be expected to defend against carrier attacks.

Defective Fire

Capture.png

Hood, with her infamous rocket AA

As if the whole issue with ships being able to arbitrarily increase their AA values was not sufficient for Wargaming, there is the issue with defensive fire. Now for those newer players, defensive fire does have precedent and a reason to exist. Carriers, back in the day, had the kind of power where the introduction of defensive fire was a reasonable addition to the game. That said, in the present game climate it is little more than a crapshoot and it was not any better when cruisers were the dominant class. When defensive AA is active, cruisers (with the exception of the Atago and maybe a few others) that have made an otherwise catastrophic error in deployment instead become virtually untouchable to carriers. Conversely, a ship that otherwise has excellent AA will fall prey to even moderately well executed carrier attacks if they had the misfortune of making the 'wrong' consumable choice based upon no prior knowledge except for errant speculation on whether or not the matchmaker is conspiring against them that day. Hindenburgs and Des Moines will die if caught without defensive fire without being able to do much, whereas ships like the Kutuzov would be able to repel a carrier with ease should they have defensive fire ready.

 

Now there was a time where the defensive fire was on essentially all cruisers and back when it had to be. In the bad old days, carriers wielded such power that nothing but a full complement of 12 ships in formation was able to make even so much as a dent in a full Hakuryuu rush. The ability for cruisers to significantly blunt the power of carriers made sense back then, considering how ineffectual AA was against carriers. Even as the power of carriers were reigned in with improvements to AA across the board however, defensive fire has not changed. This is another addition to the rolling the dice that all carriers need to do when plotting an attack. Even assuming an identical AA spec, something which is demonstrated above to cause an already ludicrous leap in AA performance with the application of captain skills and player choice, the result of a carrier attack can either end in a former cruiser now a reef or about 20 dead planes and about 2000 damage. This is further exacerbated by the fact that cruisers need to choose between hydroacoustic search and defensive fire. Whilst the choice between the two is not without application in organically controlling carrier and destroyer numbers, what the lack of defensive fire on certain ships with said consumable available results in Wargaming never having to ever balance carriers properly.

 

The simple fact is that if cruisers and destroyers with defensive fire is meant to be able to repel (in case of cruisers) or blunt (in case of destroyer) carrier attacks, then they should be able to always do so.  If carriers are meant to be able to do some damage to these same ships, they should always be able to do so as well. The use of a consumable that, when active, a carrier almost never could get past just results in Wargaming never having to balance carriers properly. When carrier numbers grows too high because no one uses defensive fire consumables, people just run more defensive fire which results in a dip in carrier numbers which just perpetuates the constant cycle. Whilst it would no doubt be a monumental task to balance carrier and AA performance such that it would be acceptable to all parties involved, it is not something that could be indefinitely postponed. Despite server population being more or less constant, Wargaming continues to bleed carrier players every day. The refusal to do anything would only exacerbate the issue. A change that would have been acceptable or potentially even lauded six months back will be accepted by essentially no one in the current climate and this is the bed that Wargaming has made for themselves.

Because Why Bother Balancing?
With the upcoming Warchester being the best AA ship EVARHHtm WG continues its trend of introducing ships with ridiculous AA. They took a look at the Des Moines, a ship with quite frankly excessive AA, and thought that it would be wise to make a ship with even better AA. This is far from the issue however as WG has managed to wriggle their way out of giving ships sensible AA values for nearly two years now thanks to the fact that, with the introduction of HE spamming battleships and the meta heavily favoring withering back line cruisers, AA doesn't last very long in extended engagements.

Spoiler

The Stupid Genius Idea
On the surface, the idea of AA deteriorating must sound incredibly clever. Carriers hold the single most precise damage vector in the entire game as part of their arsenal; a tool that could win or lose games depending on how it is employed. It therefore makes sense that a mechanic that would be able to protect the enemy ships, at least to some measure, from being struck out by carriers would exist to protect them so that they could last until a bit longer into the game. Like everything else however, this is just another statistic bloating tactic that Wargaming has been hiding behind for far too long. The fact that AA can be destroyed means that a ship that is meant to be an AA ship that then gets into an AA build could still be rendered an easy prey for carriers. As a balancing feature, this is far more problematic than most people seem to realize. For larger ships like cruisers and battleships who lack the maneuverability defense offered by destroyers, they will slowly become more and more vulnerable as their AA firepower inevitably slowly gets destroyed without any chance for recovery. As long as a carrier manages their planes well, they could keep their planes well into the twilight hours of the battle. Surface ships can't 'manage' their AA to the end of the battle if they plan to be taking hits for their team at all. If there was at least some mechanic to recover loss AA, then this might not be such a problem but then Wargaming can't coast along with endlessly releasing no fly zones that then gets bombed into AA insignificance. A ship rarely loses torpedo tubes and guns and when they do it's a big deal. AA or secondary losses though? Not even important enough to consider reporting to the player at the helm of the ship. The disregard shown to such a broken mechanic by Wargaming and, to an extent, the player base at large is perhaps why it went unaddressed for so long.

On 4/28/2018 at 6:52 PM, Crysantos said:

I understand the the AA power is a concern and we'll definitely keep an eye on that but also keep in mind that HE shells take down those AA mounts quite easily, I had exactly that experience with her in battle - also full AA builds aren't  going to be the common build in randoms. 

In a way, it is diabolical. Thanks to this rarely discussed mechanic, Wargaming could feel to ramp up AA as much as they damn want and still use excuses such as "oh, but when I tested out the Worcester she had most of her AA knocked out" to excuse the addition of even more ridiculous AA suites on top of a game already heavily burdened with them. The fact that AA simply doesn't last long enough is the reason why Wargaming can sleep easy knowing that they can feel free to ramp up the AA as much as they like and screw balance as long as their numbers say that carriers are still doing good damage. The fact that carriers struggle to be decisive early on, barring an exceptional cream who are proficient at eliminating destroyers, means that the game will drag out and that carriers can pad their damage by bombing nearly helpless Kurfursts for two thirds their HP thanks to the fact that the battle lasted long enough. Wargaming gets their massive damage numbers without ever having to balance them. Maybe high tiered carrier strike power really does need a nerf, we'll never know for sure thanks to the fact that they'll be doing nothing but flying doughnuts for the first 5-10 minutes of the game if they haven't learned to bomb destroyers or got into a match with bottom tiered cruisers and battleships to pick on. Good for Wargaming I guess, but it is quite frankly awful for us. Whilst carriers might be fine to bean counters who have the luxury of sitting aloft the sum of a thousand games and looking down on it all, it certainly isn't for us players who have to play every minute and second both as and against carriers. Taking 6000-7000 damage from a Shokaku strike on average might kind of suck for the four destroyers it happens to, but it is far worse for the one in four destroyers who get one shotted by a Lexington. The destroyers who took an errant torpedo from a Shokaku might be a bit grumpy, but that one in four destroyer who gets one shotted will remember what happened with the Lexington. The house of cards might look stable from the outside, but its pieces are broken beyond function.

Capture.png

A point I'm making about something or another

There is a proverb from a language I don't speak, but that has always stuck with me. Covered garbage still stinks. Wargaming can try to clean up their trial all they want with promises, unbalanced mechanics with no in-game indication, and endless conga lines of ship lines with better and better AA, but unless they clean up this mess that they created we will never see balanced carriers in World of Warships. We still don't have a good baseline of what AA SHOULD behave like simply because everything that has been done to address carriers have been superficial patchwork. AA suites that just get more and more powerful are apparently 'fine' thanks to the fact that the entirely invisible AA strength mechanics could simply be lowered into utter irrelevance even on ships with the strongest AA. The gigantic differences in AA performance by the ships of different nations due to their historical performance, the captain skills and upgrades that allow for players to increase their AA for little cost, the destruction of AA that ends up rendering ships that are meant to have some measure of AA protection utterly defenseless against them with no option for recovery, all of these things will quite frankly have to go. I bought up the comparison between Shokaku and Lexington for a reason. The massive lottery that all carriers and all ships that meet them have to constantly play is utterly antithetical to a balanced game and we can only keep dancing on this poorly conceived house of cards for so long before the whole thing goes tumbling down. This can't go on. It couldn't go on from 2 years ago, and yet Wargaming has done nothing to address this. Their promises of an overhaul are long forgotten behind the releases of premium carriers and the procession or more and more AA ships. There should be no ships which are helpless against the carrier. There are no ships that should be no fly zones. Until this very concept is discarded, we can't expect a balanced carrier class.

A Few Last Words
Wargaming, if you're still reading I would like to address you for a moment. I took my time to write this out because it is quite frankly easy to scream out whatever buff and nerf that I want, but I want to try to explain my point of view and why I have it. Whatever you think you are doing with the carrier overhaul: stop for a moment and put down the designing markers and listen to me. None of the true problems with the carrier class will change even with the complete overhaul of the entire carrier control scheme. Even turning carrier play into World of Warplanes is nothing but superficial change when we compare it to the rotting cesspit that is the very way that the AA is designed to work with the ships. Making it so that AA is manually guided by players will not help with this. Making it so that carriers can only autodrop will not help with this. I think that one day carriers can be great for everyone instead of a select few who either have the patience to wrestle with the buggy UI and the endless crap that gets thrown their way and those that are too inept to realize that they are being a burden. So many things need to be changed, from somewhat balancing the excessive influence that carriers could have to balancing the tier progression with something more sane than doubling the torpedo strike force from Essex to Midway. Before we could get to any of that however, the root of the issues still need to be addressed. Until Wargaming takes off these balance training wheels, the problem with the carrier class as a whole will follow the game to its inevitable bitter end.

If you'd like to hear me talk into your ear for longer, just tell me. For now, I'll be glad to begin my not at all subtle hostile takeover of a new cluster.

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Oh, and I heard that the NA server particularly dislikes weebism and so I made sure to add in images just for you.

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B-but I like weebism!

 

 

Too late at night for me to read it in detail, but I hate CVs just as much (or if not more) than the next guy. Not sure if removing AA is really the solution, but it's an interesting thought... I am super annoyed about ships being balanced around AA and about ships that simply get crapon by CVs because they don't have AA, but removing AA seems to suggest that you have to unwind all these checks and balances as well. In addition you'd have to severely tone back the striking power of CVs such that all these AA-less ships don't get insta-deleted, which is the problem that AA-less ships currently have.

i dunno, it doesn't seem that simple to me, but maybe that is not entirely what you are suggesting.

I am of the mind that CVs won't be balanced until you are able to have as many of them as people are willing to play in a game instead of this forced limit of one or two. At some level I feel like it was more balanced back in the day when you could have many CVs, as the DFAA capable cruiser population would increase to compensate. In the same vein I feel like the BB-heavy meta everyone complains about now is an indirect result of WG having to impose this limit on CVs. Anyway, i don't know what's the answer, I agree strongly that there is an issue, and even Femennenly calls it skycancer. 

 

EDIT: Also why is one Sims happy and the other less so? Is it implied that the happy one has DFAA and the other one doesn't? And one has SE and the other doesn"t?

Edited by pikohan

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There not just making it up, as the war went on the ships were getting more and more AA ability. The ship was built in 1947 and AA was the top priority for Cruisers more than main guns. In the 20's and 30's ships had very little AA. The war proved Air-power as the most dangerous weapon to a ship so as each class was built more and more AA was put on them. so as the Tiers get higher the AA gets heavier. At the end of the war AA was so efficient. It broke the Japanese Air wing. And I agree there should be more than one Carrier on the battle field, because that's how they fought. Its all about the weapon superiority and technology of the time. 

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@OP: Are you applying for a job or research grant money?

While everyone can agree that CV play does not quite fit in with the rest of the ship classes currently in the game,  adjusting EVERY ship and it's supporting Captain skills seems like the absolutely worst way to do it.  You certainly put a lot of time and thought into your post, but you also approach it from one direction, and without getting significant input or feedback from others, you have gone down the proverbial rabbit hole in pursuit of your idea.

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4 hours ago, dasCKD said:

If you'd like to hear me talk into your ear for longer, just tell me. For now, I'll be glad to begin my not at all subtle hostile takeover of a new cluster.

it was late when i started to read this so ill just point out the parts i remember and do the rest in the morning the tier 8 CV  Shokaku and Lexington it's not so much the DB but also TB Shokaku uses it's TB to deal damage were the Lexington is DB its been that way for both lines IJN is more TB focused and US DB, i'm not sure when you last checked but a tier 8 CV sending it's planes to a tier 10 ship is a death wish at the start off a battle, people favoured Shokaku for it loadout of 2-2-2 and other options where Lexingtons is 1-1-2.

AA is a touchy subject with to a lot off players they don't want to spec their ships for AA but want WG to hand them out AA to counter CV, some CV players will spec their ships for AA cause they know how much damage a CV can do, i spec my BB for AA cause i play CV and know how much damage they can do and free roam they have if nothing is there to counter it, iv'e even gone into a cap to give a DD AA cover in a BB that was getting harassed  by planes and let  them get out off there alive. getting rid off AA ships won't help they are there for a reason the problem is players/teams don't use them like they should i.e why should someone use DF to cover another ship when you might need it later or why should a BB stay close to cruisers if it is spec for AA to give them cover if it means them taking damage. As a CV player i love it when a teammate lets me know their ship is AA spec and can help with planes and we work as a group to shut down the other CV, CV players have also learned to stay away from AA ships till later in the game.

Taking away AA ships won't help at all but give CV more room to do what they want WG needed to focus on exp or something for players/ships that used AA spec ships to give cover to teammates, it's the same as spotting a good CV player will do it because it helps the team win where as some won't do it because it takes away their time to deal damage and gain exp/credits, That's the part WG needs to look at not just damage but the support you give teammates to gain exp etc doing that might make AA ships give cover to a teammate, CV spotting more allowing DD to do what they need to do, cruisers pushing in to give DD support i.e you pop smoke for a team mate to shot from and kill a ship what do you get for popping that smoke?

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Carriers will be great when they're removed from the game! :Smile_hiding:

 

Until then, gimme that AA firepowah!!!  :cap_rambo::cap_rambo::cap_rambo:

Edited by Crucis
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1 minute ago, Crucis said:

Carriers will be great when they're removed from the game!

Carriers will always be part off the game.

 

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5 hours ago, dasCKD said:

Hello. I am here from abroad to talk into your ear for the next 45 minutes. Do not question my credentials to make the statement and balance judgements I do I have none.

I am back and a bit miffed but back. Whilst using autocorrect on some of the words in this article, I noted that 'twerking' was now an officially recognized word and I found that incredibly depressing.

The_Carrier_Problem.jpg

World of Warships is a house of cards that is constantly built upon by line after line and gimmick after gimmick. The carrier situation in general is what happens when we try to balance by tacking on extra features instead of looking at the game balance as a whole and working from there.

Foreword

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I have gotten back into ranked battle and after being kicked around in cruisers for a while, I got back to carriers. The results were expected. All but one of the enemies I faced didn't know what strafing was and my team managed to lose a battle where I managed to do over 120 k damage and earned my first King of the Skies award. There is much that is said about balancing carriers, all the way from balancing the nations to trying to make it so that they are more balanced, the introduction of new ammunition and torpedoes in order to make it so that different carriers fill different niches and therefore lowering the necessity of balancing different loadouts and carrier types against each other, and the tweaking of hangar spaces that were a legacy holdover from the old days of carriers when loadouts weren't split across 3 plane types and where tier 7 carriers could face tier 9 carriers in battle. All of this has the typical issue with many of Wargaming's changes however. They are attempting to trim a tree's branches into the shape they want whilst the root rots unnoticed. Before we could discuss even overhauling carriers, the issue at the heart of carriers needs to be addressed. Even with these problems, I still see these problems as a distraction. It is a problem that carriers are such excessive skill multiplies. It is a problem that the introduction of gimmicks will only make carriers more and more unfriendly to newbies and that the way carrier tier advancement works both facilitates and encourages seal clubbing. All of these problems are, in my opinion, all distractions from the fundamental issue that drives the carrier problem. I think the problem with carriers is more fundamental than that. We need to get rid of AA ships. We need to get rid of the very concept of AA ships.


The Problem
The carrier problem, in my mind, boils down to two problems:

  • AA varies depending on different factors
  • AA gets destroyed

Which really is why we should just get rid of AA ships.

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Now you might think that this is an insane conclusion to draw from the given facts. Most of your probably know that for sure already, but that's hardly the point. Whilst getting rid of AA completely would likely improve carrier numbers, it won't balance carriers in any appreciable way. It would just result in everyone migrating to carriers or leaving the game. It makes sense that Wargaming is apprehensive in making any power improvements to carriers and why they want to overhaul the entire carrier class. Leave it to Wargaming, I suppose, to burn down their entire port because they can't properly fit in a single ship. An entirely new mechanical system would indeed even the playing field as veteran players scramble to relearn the new carrier mechanics and newer players would be granted access to the carrier class. The impact to the player base with this change will be relatively low considering that pure carrier players are extremely rare and most veteran carrier players would simply migrate to other classes rather than leave the game outright. The problem then is that this is, to use my previous metaphor, not the uprooting of a rotten tree but the trimming of the dead leaf seemingly unaware of the fact that a rotting tree will only keep producing more rotten fruit and dead leaf until something is done about the root of the problem. Pressing reset doesn't do much to solve the issue when the machine is itself broken, soon enough a new crop of veterans to the new carrier will arise and we will be back where we are. The mobility of carriers and the ability to fully invest without having to irreparably lose the ship will still make carriers strategically superior to players who know how to properly make use of the superior mobility and reaction that carriers provide. The change, no matter how drastic, will change the issue with carriers that keeps them from being balanced. Whilst a carrier overhaul will get rid of the carrier skill gap temporarily, this is nothing more than another delaying tactic no different from promises of a carrier overhaul in 'the year of the carrier' that we have seen prior.

 

I would like to propose a thought experiment. Let's say we take a perfectly random sample form a population that plays two ships, ship X and ship Y. They have identical win rates, identical average damages, and one ship is better balanced than the kilogram weight standard and the other is a Saipan's and Belfast's lovechild if she was mounted with autoloading railguns and a smoke screen. Carriers are incredibly hard to master. For people who master them, they are often the highest performing ship of their roster. For the rest of the carrier players, the practically mythological power that likely drew them to the class in the first place is practically an impossibility as they are routinely routed and crushed under superior mechanical skill, superior strategic planning and baiting, or both. Theory can be a bit hard to grasp however, so I'll give a simpler example.

 

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Lexington VS Shokaku bomb drop approximation

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Tier 8 carrier statistical numbers

The Shokaku and Lexington are incredibly different carriers, but their most obvious distinguishing feature is the function of their respective dive bomber squads. A single strike from a Lexington could eliminate almost anything up to and including tier X ships in her now defunct strike loadout whereas a ship like the Shokaku could only boast that capability against destroyers. I could distinctly remember routine examples of dive bomber strikes that have reduced tier X destroyers from full health to 0. I could also remember full strikes where the dive bomber grazes the ship for engine damage and nothing else. For this precise reason, many people favor the Shokaku over the Lexington. This might seem like a detraction from the topic of carrier balance in general, but the problem is the same. Whereas a Lexington is beholden to RNG, carriers as a class is beholden to the matchmaker. It does not matter if a carrier can clock in 200k damage in one game if for the next one she'll be floating her planes around, losing entire squads to ships that are spotted literally seconds before the squad resupply timer starts ticking.

 

The matchmaker issue is admittedly, to an extent, something which virtually every ship suffers from. A tier 8 ship might rip everything apart in a battle where they are top dog whereas they'll barely be able to hold their own in a tier X match. It is worse for carriers however thanks to how the AA system works. The comparison between the Shokaku and the Lexington is really only an example in this particular case. I have had games where the Lexington murdered everything, tier X battleships included, that she came across whilst also meeting matches where she barely claws back 30k damage. Carriers, in many ways, are just like this. If commanded by a competent captain(Not exemplary mind you, just competent), they could potentially massacre basically the entire game and win it for their allies, whereas even the best carrier players will run into games (quite often, mind you) where they are utterly useless. Everything about the way the AA system in World of Warships works is broken, sick, and wrong and whilst it is fun to rail against the latest blatantly overpowered AA suites like the Worcester or stupid changes like the removal of manual attacks at the learning tiers, we should not forget that the problem with carriers began near the genesis of the class.

The House of Cards
I am sure we have all seen tier X carrier tryhard divisions. I am sure that we all know that a ship's AA performance could be significantly increased by tacking on captain skills and captain upgrades. Most of us would likely have issues actually visualizing how far this could be taken however. For the selection process, I picked ships known for having excellent AA capabilities to compare with ships with less than stellar AA firepower in order to demonstrate my point. I am doing this for a reason that will become clear later down the page, for now I'll introduce you to the 4 ships that are selected for this comparison.

  • The Amagi
  • The North Carolina
  • The Yamato
  • The Montana
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The AA Tax
Now many of you probably have never heard of Cross Sectional Fire Power. It makes sense to an extent, seeing as how I have just came up with this term just a few moments ago. In fact if you know the term, message me in private later about the stock market as you are evidently here from the future. The concept behind it is very simple though. To drop a payload, a plane needs to fly through AA. The longer you need to spend in AA, the more chances you will have to get your planes shot down. Relatively simple. The value does assume that the plane makes a perfect line towards the ship which is unrealistic. Nevertheless, it can serve as an approximation.

 

For those who need a refresher, here are the more common AA skills and upgrades:

  • AA upgrade +20% to AA aura size
  • Advanced firing training +20% to AA aura size
  • Basic firing training +20% AA aura strength
  • Manual AA +100% AA aura strength for AA > 85 mm

This gives a summed range extension multiplier of 1.44 and a damage improvement multiplier of either 1.2 or 2.4 depending on the AA caliber. Converted into a graph, it looks like this.

 
default altered
DPS Range CSFP DPS Range CSFP
Amagi 127 mm/40 Type89 A1 80.80 5.00 404.00 193.92 7.20 1,396.22
  25 mm/60 Type96 mod. 1 75.60 3.10 234.36 90.72 4.46 404.97
  13 mm/76 Type93 Quad 58.80 1.20 70.56 70.56 1.73 121.93
N Car 127 mm/38 Mk32 151.00 5.00 755.00 362.40 7.20 2,609.28
  20 mm Oerlikon Mk4 166.00 2.00 332.00 199.20 2.88 573.70
  40 mm Bofors Mk2 159.00 3.50 556.50 190.80 5.04 961.63
Yamato 25 mm/60 Type96 Tri mod. 1 134.00 3.10 415.40 160.80 4.46 717.81
  25 mm/60 Type96 Tri mod. 2 146.00 3.10 452.60 175.20 4.46 782.09
  127 mm/40 Type89 A1 61.00 5.00 305.00 146.40 7.20 1,054.08
  127 mm/40 Type89 A1 mod. 3 61.00 5.00 305.00 146.40 7.20 1,054.08
Montana 20 mm Oerlikon Mk4 72.00 2.00 144.00 86.40 2.88 248.83
  40 mm Bofors Mk2 318.00 3.50 1,113.00 381.60 5.04 1,923.26
  20 mm Oerlikon Mk20 122.00 2.00 244.00 146.40 2.88 421.63
  127 mm/54 Mk41 157.00 5.20 816.40 376.80 7.49 2,821.48

The values are highlighted according to their power. We can do that now in 2018 with color automatic assignment. Edit: which they appear to have removed now that I posted. Bugger.

  standard CSFP altered CSFP ratio
Amagi 708.92 1,923.13 2.71
N Car 1,643.50 4,144.61 2.52
Yamato 1,478.00 3,608.06 2.44
Montana 2,317.40 5,415.21 2.34

By modifying ships that are, for all practical purposes, identical, we could see a rise of anywhere from 2.5 to close to 3 times increase in effective AA firepower. An Amagi, a tier VIII battleship with decidedly mediocre AA almost attains the AA cross sectional firepower value of the standard Montana, the tier X AA battleship, by falling short by around 400 CSFP just by adding the skills to the captain.  This causes many issues. Firstly, it means that even AA ships need to invest in anti air skills if they ever want to be truly effective, detracting from other skills that they would greatly benefit from. Ships that are designed to be AA support could end up less effective than ships whose weakness are meant to be their weakness to carriers who simply spec against aircraft. This massive disparity between the performance of a ship against carriers had led to many issues one of which is the utter lack of consensus on how strong the AA should be. The fact that just about any artillery ship could be turned into AA monsters at the whims of each separate player. This issue can't be fixed by simply nerfing or buffing the AA values unless done so to the extent to either make ship AA either entirely meaningless or completely impenetrable to any carrier and therefore both invalidating any point of raising the performance of AA guns through captain skills. If Wargaming ever wants to let ships remain anywhere in the center of being somewhat vulnerable and somewhat resistant to carriers, the very concept of speccing into AA captain skills and upgrades needs to be erased from the very fabric of the game.

 

The main argument often leveled by Wargaming whenever the topic is that as carriers are quite rare, full AA builds are likewise rare and that very few can afford to build fully into AA. Whilst none of what they have said is factually inaccurate, it still does nothing to answer the concerns of the players. The very fact that it is even theoretically possible to create such an AA field using any ship is the problem and Wargaming's excuses will do nothing to fix the fact that carriers DO run across ships with such a setup. It also doesn't address the fact that they are forcing players who might want to use said upgrade slots and captain skills for something else to invest those points into anti-carrier measures should they be expected to defend against carrier attacks.

Defective Fire

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Hood, with her infamous rocket AA

As if the whole issue with ships being able to arbitrarily increase their AA values was not sufficient for Wargaming, there is the issue with defensive fire. Now for those newer players, defensive fire does have precedent and a reason to exist. Carriers, back in the day, had the kind of power where the introduction of defensive fire was a reasonable addition to the game. That said, in the present game climate it is little more than a crapshoot and it was not any better when cruisers were the dominant class. When defensive AA is active, cruisers (with the exception of the Atago and maybe a few others) that have made an otherwise catastrophic error in deployment instead become virtually untouchable to carriers. Conversely, a ship that otherwise has excellent AA will fall prey to even moderately well executed carrier attacks if they had the misfortune of making the 'wrong' consumable choice based upon no prior knowledge except for errant speculation on whether or not the matchmaker is conspiring against them that day. Hindenburgs and Des Moines will die if caught without defensive fire without being able to do much, whereas ships like the Kutuzov would be able to repel a carrier with ease should they have defensive fire ready.

 

Now there was a time where the defensive fire was on essentially all cruisers and back when it had to be. In the bad old days, carriers wielded such power that nothing but a full complement of 12 ships in formation was able to make even so much as a dent in a full Hakuryuu rush. The ability for cruisers to significantly blunt the power of carriers made sense back then, considering how ineffectual AA was against carriers. Even as the power of carriers were reigned in with improvements to AA across the board however, defensive fire has not changed. This is another addition to the rolling the dice that all carriers need to do when plotting an attack. Even assuming an identical AA spec, something which is demonstrated above to cause an already ludicrous leap in AA performance with the application of captain skills and player choice, the result of a carrier attack can either end in a former cruiser now a reef or about 20 dead planes and about 2000 damage. This is further exacerbated by the fact that cruisers need to choose between hydroacoustic search and defensive fire. Whilst the choice between the two is not without application in organically controlling carrier and destroyer numbers, what the lack of defensive fire on certain ships with said consumable available results in Wargaming never having to ever balance carriers properly.

 

The simple fact is that if cruisers and destroyers with defensive fire is meant to be able to repel (in case of cruisers) or blunt (in case of destroyer) carrier attacks, then they should be able to always do so.  If carriers are meant to be able to do some damage to these same ships, they should always be able to do so as well. The use of a consumable that, when active, a carrier almost never could get past just results in Wargaming never having to balance carriers properly. When carrier numbers grows too high because no one uses defensive fire consumables, people just run more defensive fire which results in a dip in carrier numbers which just perpetuates the constant cycle. Whilst it would no doubt be a monumental task to balance carrier and AA performance such that it would be acceptable to all parties involved, it is not something that could be indefinitely postponed. Despite server population being more or less constant, Wargaming continues to bleed carrier players every day. The refusal to do anything would only exacerbate the issue. A change that would have been acceptable or potentially even lauded six months back will be accepted by essentially no one in the current climate and this is the bed that Wargaming has made for themselves.

Because Why Bother Balancing?
With the upcoming Warchester being the best AA ship EVARHHtm WG continues its trend of introducing ships with ridiculous AA. They took a look at the Des Moines, a ship with quite frankly excessive AA, and thought that it would be wise to make a ship with even better AA. This is far from the issue however as WG has managed to wriggle their way out of giving ships sensible AA values for nearly two years now thanks to the fact that, with the introduction of HE spamming battleships and the meta heavily favoring withering back line cruisers, AA doesn't last very long in extended engagements.

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The Stupid Genius Idea
On the surface, the idea of AA deteriorating must sound incredibly clever. Carriers hold the single most precise damage vector in the entire game as part of their arsenal; a tool that could win or lose games depending on how it is employed. It therefore makes sense that a mechanic that would be able to protect the enemy ships, at least to some measure, from being struck out by carriers would exist to protect them so that they could last until a bit longer into the game. Like everything else however, this is just another statistic bloating tactic that Wargaming has been hiding behind for far too long. The fact that AA can be destroyed means that a ship that is meant to be an AA ship that then gets into an AA build could still be rendered an easy prey for carriers. As a balancing feature, this is far more problematic than most people seem to realize. For larger ships like cruisers and battleships who lack the maneuverability defense offered by destroyers, they will slowly become more and more vulnerable as their AA firepower inevitably slowly gets destroyed without any chance for recovery. As long as a carrier manages their planes well, they could keep their planes well into the twilight hours of the battle. Surface ships can't 'manage' their AA to the end of the battle if they plan to be taking hits for their team at all. If there was at least some mechanic to recover loss AA, then this might not be such a problem but then Wargaming can't coast along with endlessly releasing no fly zones that then gets bombed into AA insignificance. A ship rarely loses torpedo tubes and guns and when they do it's a big deal. AA or secondary losses though? Not even important enough to consider reporting to the player at the helm of the ship. The disregard shown to such a broken mechanic by Wargaming and, to an extent, the player base at large is perhaps why it went unaddressed for so long.

In a way, it is diabolical. Thanks to this rarely discussed mechanic, Wargaming could feel to ramp up AA as much as they damn want and still use excuses such as "oh, but when I tested out the Worcester she had most of her AA knocked out" to excuse the addition of even more ridiculous AA suites on top of a game already heavily burdened with them. The fact that AA simply doesn't last long enough is the reason why Wargaming can sleep easy knowing that they can feel free to ramp up the AA as much as they like and screw balance as long as their numbers say that carriers are still doing good damage. The fact that carriers struggle to be decisive early on, barring an exceptional cream who are proficient at eliminating destroyers, means that the game will drag out and that carriers can pad their damage by bombing nearly helpless Kurfursts for two thirds their HP thanks to the fact that the battle lasted long enough. Wargaming gets their massive damage numbers without ever having to balance them. Maybe high tiered carrier strike power really does need a nerf, we'll never know for sure thanks to the fact that they'll be doing nothing but flying doughnuts for the first 5-10 minutes of the game if they haven't learned to bomb destroyers or got into a match with bottom tiered cruisers and battleships to pick on. Good for Wargaming I guess, but it is quite frankly awful for us. Whilst carriers might be fine to bean counters who have the luxury of sitting aloft the sum of a thousand games and looking down on it all, it certainly isn't for us players who have to play every minute and second both as and against carriers. Taking 6000-7000 damage from a Shokaku strike on average might kind of suck for the four destroyers it happens to, but it is far worse for the one in four destroyers who get one shotted by a Lexington. The destroyers who took an errant torpedo from a Shokaku might be a bit grumpy, but that one in four destroyer who gets one shotted will remember what happened with the Lexington. The house of cards might look stable from the outside, but its pieces are broken beyond function.

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A point I'm making about something or another

There is a proverb from a language I don't speak, but that has always stuck with me. Covered garbage still stinks. Wargaming can try to clean up their trial all they want with promises, unbalanced mechanics with no in-game indication, and endless conga lines of ship lines with better and better AA, but unless they clean up this mess that they created we will never see balanced carriers in World of Warships. We still don't have a good baseline of what AA SHOULD behave like simply because everything that has been done to address carriers have been superficial patchwork. AA suites that just get more and more powerful are apparently 'fine' thanks to the fact that the entirely invisible AA strength mechanics could simply be lowered into utter irrelevance even on ships with the strongest AA. The gigantic differences in AA performance by the ships of different nations due to their historical performance, the captain skills and upgrades that allow for players to increase their AA for little cost, the destruction of AA that ends up rendering ships that are meant to have some measure of AA protection utterly defenseless against them with no option for recovery, all of these things will quite frankly have to go. I bought up the comparison between Shokaku and Lexington for a reason. The massive lottery that all carriers and all ships that meet them have to constantly play is utterly antithetical to a balanced game and we can only keep dancing on this poorly conceived house of cards for so long before the whole thing goes tumbling down. This can't go on. It couldn't go on from 2 years ago, and yet Wargaming has done nothing to address this. Their promises of an overhaul are long forgotten behind the releases of premium carriers and the procession or more and more AA ships. There should be no ships which are helpless against the carrier. There are no ships that should be no fly zones. Until this very concept is discarded, we can't expect a balanced carrier class.

A Few Last Words
Wargaming, if you're still reading I would like to address you for a moment. I took my time to write this out because it is quite frankly easy to scream out whatever buff and nerf that I want, but I want to try to explain my point of view and why I have it. Whatever you think you are doing with the carrier overhaul: stop for a moment and put down the designing markers and listen to me. None of the true problems with the carrier class will change even with the complete overhaul of the entire carrier control scheme. Even turning carrier play into World of Warplanes is nothing but superficial change when we compare it to the rotting cesspit that is the very way that the AA is designed to work with the ships. Making it so that AA is manually guided by players will not help with this. Making it so that carriers can only autodrop will not help with this. I think that one day carriers can be great for everyone instead of a select few who either have the patience to wrestle with the buggy UI and the endless crap that gets thrown their way and those that are too inept to realize that they are being a burden. So many things need to be changed, from somewhat balancing the excessive influence that carriers could have to balancing the tier progression with something more sane than doubling the torpedo strike force from Essex to Midway. Before we could get to any of that however, the root of the issues still need to be addressed. Until Wargaming takes off these balance training wheels, the problem with the carrier class as a whole will follow the game to its inevitable bitter end.

If you'd like to hear me talk into your ear for longer, just tell me. For now, I'll be glad to begin my not at all subtle hostile takeover of a new cluster.

You lot grow like weeds in my garden. Roundup works for weeds, but not weeb's. :Smile_sad: One last thing LOL :Smile_teethhappy: 

Edited by Crusin_Custard
  • Funny 1

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1 hour ago, Raven114 said:

There not just making it up, as the war went on the ships were getting more and more AA ability. The ship was built in 1947 and AA was the top priority for Cruisers more than main guns. In the 20's and 30's ships had very little AA. The war proved Air-power as the most dangerous weapon to a ship so as each class was built more and more AA was put on them. so as the Tiers get higher the AA gets heavier. At the end of the war AA was so efficient. It broke the Japanese Air wing. And I agree there should be more than one Carrier on the battle field, because that's how they fought. Its all about the weapon superiority and technology of the time. 

AA did get stronger as the war went on, but usn and German dive bombers could come in at steeper angles than ships could elevate their guns, so you'd have to rely on nearby ships to protect you. That's not modelled in game though.

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13 minutes ago, ausanimal said:

Carriers will always be part off the game.

 

Yeah, I know.  But a guy can dream, can't he?  :cap_old:

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Skill differences are so emphasized in the manual drop and multi-tasking that balancing CVs is a nightmare, especially given that except Montana's long-range AA, HE spam will destroy it in no time.

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6 hours ago, dasCKD said:

The Problem
The carrier problem, in my mind, boils down to two problems:

  • AA varies depending on different factors
  • AA gets destroyed

Which really is why we should just get rid of AA ships.

 

 

 

So, by your reasoning:

Torpedoes vary depending on different factors.

Torpedo launchers get destroyed.

Which is really why we should get rid of torpedo ships.

Also

Main guns vary depending on different factors.

Main guns can get destroyed.

Which is really why we should get rid of main gun ships.

 

 

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