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geser98

Furutaka - a guide to the best T5 cruiser

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Clickbait title - check! Now let's hope you'll get some useful info out of this guide.

Disclaimer: the below guide is based on my own experiences of playing the ship on different servers and multiple game versions. It is by no means a comprehensive review and it is entirely possible that I have missed some aspects of gameplay or misinterpreted some mechanics. Please leave a comment if you think that something is incorrect and I will amend as required.

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I've been contemplating writing this guide for a while, in fact I'd started and stopped a few times because of how much ground needs to be covered. But this time finally, I've made it over the line.

As for me, Furutaka was my first tier 5 cruiser when I just started to play WoWS a few years back and back in the day I did play it fairly well, but nothing to write home about. Recently though I started a new account on CIS server and when I got my Furutaka, I'd stuck with her and refused to sell even when I'd already researched Aoba. It is just so much fun to play and can easily net you win rates in excess of 60% if you do your part.

I as not joking when I said that the Taco is the strongest T5 cruiser. Yes, the server stats don't seem to paint a rosy picture, but this in most part is due to a simple fact. Furutaka is in my opinion an epitome of a cruiser - a jack of all trades, but master of none. This is her strongest feat and this is her biggest sin all in one. Many of the cruisers have specific play styles and situations where they are very strong, for example, Omaha is great for spamming HE from max range where she can't reliable be hit by any BB. Early German cruisers are great at shooting from behind cover, Kirov is great at both long-range spam and hunting cruisers with her laser-accurate and punchy 180 mm AP. And there is no better kiting cruisers than the Frenchies.

At the same time, Taco can do all of those things, and more, but she is not the best in any particular task. Even for fighting enemy cruisers I'd rather pick Kirov. Playing Furutaka correctly means adjusting your play constantly to use your strengths in any given situation. On one hand this makes playing her quite hard, but on the other hand, you will not be subject to dictature of RNGesus and Match Making and will be able to deliver consistent results in every single match.

Well, I guess that's enough with the foreword. But before we get into the tactics and strategies, let's first look at two very common misconceptions about Furutaka.

Fire starting

It is a common notion that most IJN CAs are good fire starters and this holds pretty well from Myoko onwards, but Furutaka and her half-sister, Aoba, are in a very weird spot in the entire IJN cruiser line in that they are simply rubbish when trying to benefit from DoTs.

Seriously, Furutaka is a rather poor firestarter. Take a look at this graph below showing the base Fires Per Minute for fully upgraded tech-tree cruisers from T3 to T7.

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It is clear the the mighty Taco is by far the worst T5 cruiser in her ability to start fires, and is almost the worst cruiser in her fully upgraded form, winning against Tenryu by a tiny margin. Stock, Furutaka, though, IS in fact THE WORST firestarting cruiser of all CA/CL from T3 and above. And the competition includes ships like Admiral Graf Spee, which is notorious for being bad at starting fires.

At the same time, that's not to say that Taco can't start fires. She can and often will deliver surprise double fires, but that is more of and RNG blessing than a rule. Trying to play her as a fire starter is in my opinion one of the main reasons for the server stats being so poor.

There will be occasions when you need to play her as a HE-spammer and she will be able to deliver some decent results, but it should never be your go-to play style.

Armor protection.

Another common myth about Furutaka is that she has poor armor protection. This notion is even proliferated by the authors of WoWS wiki page where in listing of Taco's weaknesses it says: "Lightly armored for a heavy cruiser with large citadel".

I can certainly agree with the second part of the statement. Furutaka's citadel is large and the central part rises way above the water line.

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At the same time the first part is a qualitative statement that begs the question - "Compared to what?” Simply put, Furutaka is the first of heavy cruisers in the tech tree and she has by far the best armor protection among T5 contemporaries and better than most of T6 ships as well. Let's just go through her armor scheme and list all things that she is immune to:

Main armor belt (76mm):

Cannot be overmatched by any AP shell in the game. Immune to all cruiser HE in her MM spread and all battleship HE except KM and RN battleships with their 1/4 penetration.

Upper armor belt/casemate (25mm):

Immune to overmatch by any AP below 380 mm. Immune to all destroyer-caliber HE and cruiser HE below 152 mm.

Armored deck (51mm): Cannot be overmatched by any AP shells in game. Immune to all cruiser/DD HE, except Adm. Graf Spee. Immune to 305mm non RN/KM battleship HE.

Fore/aft armor (13mm): Cannot be overmatched by cruiser AP below 203 mm.

 

As you can see, there is a great list of damage sources that Furutaka's armor scheme makes her immune to. But all of this of course depends on correct angling. This means that when facing most of armor piercing rounds coming from non-USN sources, you need to maintain an angle below 30 degrees (22.5against USN CA/BB AP) to ensure autobounce.

When kiting away in either hull Furutaka can bring all turrets to bear on a target at 30o either side of directly aft. So when you are kiting away and aiming at the most dangerous target, as soon as the front turrets are masked, you should be perfectly safe from non-USN AP, except for overpens on the stern and superstructure.

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When facing towards the target, you are safe as soon as rear turrets are masked and are about 6 degrees off target (this is shown on turret aim indicators).

With USN AP you have to be a lot more careful as ensuring autobounce requires a very steep angle of 22.5oor less. If you overdo it and angle too steeply you are potentially opening yourself to being citadelled through the bow. Fortunately, though, not many players at this tiers know that they should try and aim for the bow/stern and even if they do, accuracy of low-tier BB guns won't normally give them much chance of actually hitting the target.

Long story short - stay angled, but don't sit bow-on. Sooner or later you will get devastated.

But all this won’t save you much against HE-spamming BBs. Since HE ignores angling completely, you can easily get citadels through the deck, but thankfully HE citadels don’t hurt as much as AP does.

Research

Now, let's get some housekeeping out of the way and talk about research, upgrades, consumables and commander skills.

As I have mentioned previously, stock Furutaka is one of the most frustrating ships in the game so if you have any freeXP available, it would be a fantastic idea to make your life much more comfortable and get the gun upgrade ASAP. This will reduce the absolutely glacial reload from 22 seconds to “just” 15 seconds, which is still slow, but at least manageable.

If you have at least a 10-point commander then next you should research both hull upgrades that give you incremental increases in AA capability (LOL) and vastly improved rudder shift time. Final C-hull upgrade changes you into what essentially is Aoba by switching turret layout from 6 single gun turrets to 3-doubles. As often is the case with tooltips, C-hull tooltip shows you that the upgrade will decrease your artillery value. Just disregard it. It’s just wrong.

Finally, after hull upgrades get the range upgrade.

If, on the other hand, you don’t have a 10-point captain, research should be: gun upgrade -> range -> hulls. This is in order to give you more wiggle room between your max range and detection so that you can easily approach undetected and disengage when needed by silencing your guns.

Upgrade modules

In the first upgrade take Main Armaments Mod 1. Furutaka’s turrets are somewhat lightly armored with maximum protected front 25 mm faces angled at 14o (effective 26 mm protection) and can be easily knocked out by AP even from cruisers. With already lowest DPM for the tier you can’t afford to lose any more of your artillery and this one is a no-brainer.

For the second slot it’s a choice between Aiming Systems Mod 1 and AA Guns Mod 1. Personally, I prefer the latter. Taco’s guns already have a great accuracy so decrease in dispersion is not noticeable. At the same time in flattop-infested waters of low-mid tiers, your weak AA needs all the help it can get. Main Battery Mod 2 is a bad choice as it even further decreases your already poor DPM, while most of the turret traverse issues can be solved with Expert Marksman captain skill.

Finally, in the third slot, the best choice is the Steering Gears Mod 1. As in many cruisers, your rudder will get knocked out regularly when kiting and reducing the chances of that happening works great to improve your survivability.

Consumables

If you have credits to afford it, use premium Damage Control Party. You will get set on fire by HE spamming cruisers, you will get your rudder knocked out, guns are vulnerable and if you get citadelled, you will often get the engine knocked out as well. Having repair available can be and often will be a life-saver.

With the other 2 consumables you can use standard versions. Hydro is situational and I seldom use more than one or two charges per match and fighter plane gets easily killed off by CV fighters and bomber rear gunners and in cases when you use it for spotting, 5 minutes operational time is long enough.

In addition, I would strongly recommend using a red camouflage if you have any, because:

Spoiler

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Just to be sure, it wasmy attempt of a joke :Smile_facepalm:

Captain skills

Furutaka shines with a 10-point captain at the helm with Concealment Expert making her extremely strong. If you don’t have 10 points yet, use a different research progression as described above.

For the first skill take Priority Target, which is a must-have for most cruisers. For the level 2 skills, the best option is Expert Marksman which helps you rotate turrets faster and be able to manoeuver better without losing DPM.

Among the 3-point skills there are a few choices. You can take Demolition Expert to try and alleviate one of the biggest weaknesses of the ship – her lackluster fire starting capability. The other good option would be the Basic Firing Training which combined with AA guns mod 1 can give a scare to T4 carrier, but won’t do too much against T5 and above.

At level 4 take Concealment Expert to decrease your detectability to an amazing 10.4 km.

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If you happen to have more points to spend, there are plenty of options, but none of them will make Taco much stronger, but any extra points you spend will bring quality of life improvements.

She does benefit a lot from Expert Loader skill which allows to quickly swap ammo in case a wild broadside cruiser or a wild DD appears in close vicinity.

Another skill that improves experience a lot is Last Stand, which is normally taken by destroyers, but with Taco it will help when your rudder or engine gets knocked out and you don’t have Damage Control available.

Jack of All Trades and High Alert will help a lot when under HE spam from enemy cruisers and DDs. They will do little direct damage, but fires are annoying.

 

Spoiler

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If you hate CVs as much as I do and have a 19-point commander, you can opt for AA build. As hilarious as it sounds you can get her AA to some half-decent levels by grabbing Direction Center for Catapult Aircraft, BFT, AFT and Manual AA. Half of Taco’s AA (in C hull) is in 120mm dual-purpose guns so Manual AA will buff the damage output of those to a whopping 49 dps (yay :Smile_sceptic:) on a selected target and with both the upgrade module and AFT the range of her outer aura goes all the way to 6.5 km. This is enough to deplane T4 carriers and dissuade T5 carriers from repeatedly striking you, but then T6 and T7 CVs will still treat you as a roadkill.

 

Spoiler

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While preparing this guide I’d played with a 6-point, 12-point, and 19-point commanders. Of those the one with 6 points is clearly inferior, but I didn’t notice major difference between others.

Tactics

Finally, let’s discuss how to efficiently put all of old girl’s strengths and weaknesses to a good use on the battlefield.

a) All cruisers must die!

I’ve started writing some tactical notes and this thing has been coming up all the time in various sections, so I decided to put it as a separate point. If you get anything useful out of this review, I hope it will be this: kill enemy cruisers before anything else.

It’s easy to underestimate the importance of cruisers especially in low-tier games, given how weak and fragile they are, but in reality they make up the backbone of the fleet. The most important job of cruisers is that they connect and provide support to all other ship classes. They kill and harass enemy DDs, they kill enemy cruisers harassing friendly DDs, they fight put pressure on enemy BBs and dissuade those from pushing in with a constant stream of high-explosive projectiles, and they provide support to friendly aircraft and shoot down enemy ones. A team without cruisers is just a bunch of separate parts that can’t function well together.

Thankfully, Furutaka has a very particular set of skills that can make life of enemy cruisers very short and painful when she’s around.

very_particular_set.jpg.825f4a00e0d276ea94a0206b41a66503.jpg

 

b) Usage of ammo types

This is a very easy question for most other cruisers – use AP on broadside cruisers and HE on everything else. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this is not the case with the Taco. Let’s look at different ship classes and what ammo type is best used against those.

Destroyers – use whatever is in the barrel at the moment. Of course, using HE against DDs is the best option, but with 203mm shells, AP is a reasonable ammo of choice against lolibotes too. With Furutaka’s long reload usually you won’t have many shots on a destroyer before they go into hiding and switching ammo types even with EL skill is often a waste of time. At the same time, your AP overmatches armor of most DDs in your MM spread so you will at least get an overpen damage of 450/470 per hit. On the other hand, if a DD is angled and running away, you can often get juicy full penetrations for 1400 hp a pop and no angling can save enemy DD against it, although higher tier DDs can in fact bounce shells when angled so shooting HE is best for those.

Mind you, DDs are not your primary target. Taco is “all right” at dealing with underage ships, but if you’re fighting a cruiser with AP loaded, then have a brief opportunity to shoot at a destroyer but will then return to fighting the cruiser, it’s often a waste of time and potential DPM to switch ammo.

Cruisers – Use AP most of the time. There’s a simple reason for it: only times that you might need to switch to HE in a cruiser vs cruiser engagement is when the enemy is kiting away from you, but at the same time, these are the kinds of battles you don’t want to engage into. Any other cruiser will win the battle of attrition on DPM alone so if you find yourself in a situation where you are not doing damage with AP, it’s best to disengage and use your superior concealment to get closer and catch the enemy off guard.

If enemy is bow-tanking – pen them through the bow (doesn’t work for many higher tier cruisers though). You can overmatch deck armor of many cruisers. Upper belt armor can also be overmatched. And of course there’s the superstructure as well as knocking their guns out of action.

This is by no means a definite rule, and occasionally you will need to switch to HE, especially against low-health retreating ships. Still though, AP is the ammo of choice against CLs and most CAs too.

Battleships – This is where it gets tricky. There’s no particular preferred ammo type against BBs and you need to act according to what your team mates are doing. The trick is in the fact that Taco can do good damage to BBs with both AP and HE, but in order to take down the target quicker you need to work together with the team.

I use the following as a general rule: if one or a few better firestarting ships are spamming a battleship with HE, my DPM is best used to deal direct damage with AP. My team mates in this case would have little trouble starting fires and even though they won’t do as much direct damage, DoTs will tick. Yet, the fire damage is 100% repairable, but then from my side I add some of which only 1/3 can be healed. This combination of damage types will take down a BB much faster than just having 2 or 3 or 5 ships mindlessly spamming high explosives.

On the other hand, if red BB is being bombarded by AP from a friendly one, use your HE to set fires and force repairs. Once you’ve set a perma-fire or two (which is unlikely but can happen), switch to AP as long as you have broadside to shoot at.

Carriers – obviously use AP to take them down faster, but HE is a great weapon of choice against papier-mache CVs of T4 and T5, when AP will often fail you with overpens, but HE easily do full citadel damage.

Overall, I find myself using AP more often than not. At the same time there are occasional battles where I shoot HE almost exclusively, although this is rare.

 

c) Bow tanking vs kiting

Both of these are useful tactics to mitigate damage taken while continuing to deal damage yourself, at the same time bow-tanking is dangerous and if possible, kiting is better.

The primary reason kiting is a better option is that you retain more mobility and are able to react to changing circumstances quicker. When bow-tanking you are usually either doing ¼ speed in reverse or are stationary. Obviously moving forwards is too risky since it gets you out of position and opens up more angles for the enemy to shoot at. Then in case an alternative threat direction appears, going so slowly doesn’t allow you to manoeuver and change your angling fast enough.

On the other hand when kiting you can just go full ahead and change angling much quicker.

Also, the firing angles on either hull are better towards the back. In fact, rear firing angles are exactly 30 degrees from directly aft, so a tiny flick of the rudder will move you from safe autobounce angles to having all your guns pointing to the enemy. You just need 1-2 degree turn against non-USN AP.

There are of course situations where you suddenly find yourself facing a dangerous enemy and bow-tanking remains the only option. But then at the first opportunity try and turn away.

 

d) Supporting your destroyers

Supporting destroyers can come in many flavours: you can help them kill enemy DDs, scout for them (as a CV) or you can kill their natural predators.

In Furutaka at the beginning of a match it’s usually a good idea to follow your nearest DD to a cap. Be mindful of friendly DD detection and keep behind at a range where your friendly DD will detect enemy one or get spotted themselves before they spot you. Usually a 5-6 km gap is a good rough estimate.

Often enemy cruisers will get spotted first and since everyone is still getting into positions, many of those will be sailing full broadside. Now this is your queue. I often just sail with AP loaded from the start, because DD can use smoke screen and should be able to survive for a bit, but such fantastic opportunities to delete enemy CLs might not come very soon. At the same time by shooting AP in their broadside (even if you don’t get citadels) you will force the enemy to turn away and lose some DPM while traversing turrets and maybe lose all interest in being seen again.

Just be aware that as soon as you fire and show yourself, you will get targeted by multiple ships, so start angling in advance, preferably before you open fire. 

 

e) Using island cover

Furutaka is nowhere near as good as many other cruisers at utilizing islands for cover, but she can use rocky waifus for own enjoyment too, just in a lightly different way.

Other cruisers like to be completely unspotted and spam HE from cover while being completely undetected and occasionally you can find a low-lying island that you can utilize in a similar fashion, but often it’s not possible.

On the other hand, you can use islands to control the number of targets able to shoot at you. You can often position yourself in such a way that only one BB can shoot at you, while having all the others blocked by the island. And it’s easy to angle against a single target and deny any significant damage done to you, while putting pressure on the enemy.

Such positioning can also work to hold strategic points and deny pushing by the enemy, because if they do you can jump out of cover and put a salvo of torps in their face.

 

OK, I knew this was going to be long, but never thought it would be quite as long.

I love this ship and I greatly enjoyed playing it more to test some things for this review. I hope this guide will help some people who are struggling and maybe entice some to come back to the mighty Taco once again. Have fun!

You might be hungry after reading all of this. Here, have a Taco :)

taco.jpg.7d49769d38e9eec8d254c013ae2f8b13.jpg

 

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Glad you are doing well in it. Personally I feel the Taco deserves its stats and we are going to agree to disagree. I went back and replayed it after it was buffed and hold my same opinion.

Winning T5 randoms requires two basic skills. First is winning the initial cruiser lemming rush that is inevitable at that tier. The next one is dealing with swarms of Minikazee and her clones that infest T5. The Taco is, IMO, mediocre at the first and terrible at the second. When clubbing in my Minikazee Tacos were the one cruiser I feared the least. A few really big guns that fire really slow makes the Taco a superb sniper that is hardier than her Russian and German counterparts, but a lousy DD hunter in a tier it's needed the most.

Another problem I found is you are more reliant on RNG with those low volume of shells, big as they are, and with poor HE and low RoF enemy DDs laugh as they gatling fire torps into your BBs while you wait for your guns to fire. If you can survive until endgame the Taco thrives there. She has a thick hide and if allowed to force the engagement rewards well. Those big shells hit hard - if they hit. The issue is t5 matches are fast and hectic and the meta doesn't reward passive sniping.

Good Taco players I've run across are good with her torps more than her guns.

I found the Kirov delivered far more citadels than the Taco although the Kirov has crepe paper armor. 

Glad it works for you and appreciate the time you put into the review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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57 minutes ago, Scotty_SE said:

Winning T5 randoms requires two basic skills. First is winning the initial cruiser lemming rush that is inevitable at that tier. The next one is dealing with swarms of Minikazee and her clones that infest T5.

Well, thankfully not any more. There are of course occasional Minis and Kamis, but DD world is more balanced nowadays. I agree that killing DDs in Taco is a chore and something she's really not suited to do, but DDs at these low tiers are not as critical to winning as they are at T8-10, especially considering the fact that in about 60% of matches I'd played while making this there was a carrier or a couple. And as long as you have other cruisers with better DPM on your team, they should be dealing with lolibotes and you just do your thing.

In my recent play through I don't think I killed many DDs, but that still didn't seem to matter that much for winning games. Just IMO and I appreciate your comment. Unfortunately, there is probably no way (or at least I haven't found one) to make Taco better at fighting DDs.

 Capture.thumb.JPG.7b162ca49dde0e301ae84bc2fd9e8a41.JPG

Edited by geser98

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1 hour ago, Scotty_SE said:

one is dealing with swarms of Minikazee and her clones that infest T5.

Minakaze has NO clones in the game; The Kami sisters are totally different ships which are just similar, like Isokaze is at tier 4.

1 hour ago, Scotty_SE said:

DDs laugh as they gatling fire torps into your BBs

The fastest torp reload at tier 5 is 40 seconds; BBs reload faster and carry more guns which do more damage. Are you telling me that BBs fire FASTER than Gatling guns?

1 hour ago, Scotty_SE said:

Good Taco players I've run across are good with her torps more than her guns.

This is true, the Furry Taco carries 10 K torps which no one at that tier ever expects.

1 hour ago, Scotty_SE said:

When clubbing in my Minikazee Tacos were the one cruiser I feared the least.

Until you get hit by one firing 8 inch HE and half your health is gone.

1 hour ago, geser98 said:

Unfortunately, there is probably no way (or at least I haven't found one) to make Taco better at fighting DDs.

Nonsense ... buff her secondaries. Never happen though.

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8 minutes ago, Umikami said:

Nonsense ... buff her secondaries. Never happen though.

Good one :cap_like: I'll go with secondary build next. Fear me destroyers!

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13 minutes ago, geser98 said:

Good one :cap_like: I'll go with secondary build next. Fear me destroyers!

Sorry, you've misunderstood me; I said her secondaries need to be BUFFED, not BUILT. You can build what they give you, but the secondaries themselves need to be improved from the ground up. But, like I said, WoW will never buff them as it would make the ship OP.

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3 minutes ago, Umikami said:

Sorry, you've misunderstood me; I said her secondaries need to be BUFFED, not BUILT. You can build what they give you, but the secondaries themselves need to be improved from the ground up. But, like I said, WoW will never buff them as it would make the ship OP.

What kind of buffs are we talking about? I say C hull should get 20 120mm guns instead of 4.

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1 hour ago, geser98 said:

What kind of buffs are we talking about? I say C hull should get 20 120mm guns instead of 4.

Whatever it would take to make the ship better equipped to combat DDs; 20 120mm guns will most likely be considered OP.

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Still think the paper 14x140mm setup would be fun. Definitely a great DD killer. Not as good vs cruisers due to the short range. Who cares if it only fires a 2x120mm broadside.

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Rvi0udk.gif

 

@geser98 I saw Furutaka's face and already a Plus one from me. Furutaka best waifu. Too bad I'm scared of playing her since I can't stand seeing her sink. But when I do. Its badass. Nice right up though! Keep up the good work! 

Edited by Incendiary_Tanker

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