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BB Shell Mechanics and DD's (aka why I still won't fire BBHE at DD's)

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So I'm sure everybody has their thoughts on the recent BBAP vs DD changes, and there's plenty of reasons for and against the change.  I've been playing the game for 4.5 years now and they've done a lot of things to change DD survivability (both buffs like the AP rework of 0.3.1 removing their citadel and nerfs such as the addition of radar or removal of open-water stealth firing).  I play a lot of battleships (and have for quite a while), but I play some DD's as well, having ground the IJN DD line in alpha, beta, and now release, as well as playing the various prem DD's and testing new DD lines that come out.  I mainly play high tiers, and want to look specifically at the BB ammo vs DD balance at high tiers. 

There are a few mechanics affecting BB shells fired at DD's, some with very significant effects, especially for HE.  Some important ones, not in any particular order

  • Overmatch (this matters more for CA AP vs BBAP, but is important for how BBAP vs DD interactions work)
  • Damage Saturation
  • Module damage
  • Underwater hits
  • Dispersion
  • What I term "double count," which is when the game mechanics decide to align to allow a shell to get two hits worth of damage but only one (usually inaccurate) ribbon.   I have seen double overpen, pen+overpen, double pen, citadel+overpen, and citadel+pen damage rolled through my experience playing the game. 

All of these wind up boiling down to the consistency of each shell.  BBAP does a guaranteed minimum amount for each hit you land, while HE can fluctuate wildly, mainly due to some of the mechanics mentioned above, so lets explain more.

For this, I will be looking at Montana's shells.  Their in-game stats are here:

0VVW94Q.png

With 13500 rated AP damage, that means 1350 per overpen.  The HE is rated at 5700 damage, which is 1881 damage for a penetrating hit.  Sounds like an improvement over the AP shell?  Not necessarily.  The AP shell is not affected by damage saturation, meaning that it will always (thanks to overmatch) do a flat 1350 per shell minimum on anything that isn't the 50mm plating of a Khabarovsk (or 2700 if you trigger the "double double count," which I've managed to do in the current Halloween fun mode with 3 overpens of damage and two ribbons).  If the HE shell hits a damage saturated section, it only does 941 damage, which is less than the single AP overpen.  So if shooting at a DD that is damage saturated, you are still better off shooting AP.  On British BB's with their buffed HE, 419mm AP does 1300 damage per round against a DD.  While the 7200 rated damage HE does 2376 damage on a pen, once the DD saturates, this falls to 1188, still below the damage of an AP overpen, and it is still affected by modules and hitting the water.

Another mechanic that makes HE less desirable is that it detonates on contact.  This has a two fold effect:  First, it means that main gun turrets, torpedo tubes, secondaries, and AA guns can "absorb" the shell for no damage (this can happen with AP but far less often, as the AP will usually overpen the module and hit something behind it).  Second, it also means that all HE shells explode on contact with the water, thus they can not hit the underwater parts of DD's, while AP can. In this side on view of a Gearing, I boxed the underwater part in red, and the modules in yellow, leaving the green as the main area hittable by BBHE in this lazy MSPaint edit.

Spoiler

LkSW8vD.jpg

There's still a decent amount of hittable area, but you can see that there's a significant amount of area below the waterline that HE simply can't hit.  This means that a DD is a bigger target to BBAP than it is to any kind of HE.  This is where dispersion comes in.  While most DD and CL/CA have tight dispersion and if you aim well, can reliably land most of the shells on a DD sized target where you aimed.  Most BB's are blunderbusses outside of point blank range, and out side of 12km or so, you rarely will hit more than 1/3 of your shells unless you win the dispersion lottery, and both your aim has to be true and predict the opponent's maneuvers properly.  A larger target means more hits on average, which means more damage, and I think many people forget about this part of the mechanics.

In this side-on view of Yueyang (a common DD in Clan Battles), known for being lower in the water than a Gearing, the difference is pretty significant.  Approximately half of the side on surface area is not hittable by HE, and the superstructure is able to saturate, reducing HE damage further.

Spoiler

The area of the superstructure approximately cancels out the area of the box by the stern that is not actually part of the ship so we good here Kappa

48VkvBt.jpg

 

For some DD's the front turrets are a decent portion of the frontal area, so if a DD is rushing you, you get this profile to shoot at:

Spoiler

es1HynP.jpg

Note the main turrets and AA mounts boxed in red that will absorb your HE for no damage, and the bow below it can also saturate, while AP will still do its guaranteed overpen damage.  

 

Lastly, people say to shoot HE at DD's because of the module damage.  However, I feel that the value of module damage is overrated.  DD's have the fastest cooldown Damage Control Party consumable in the game on a ship that isn't named Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya.  At 40 sec cooldown base for the standard Premium version, that is nearly as quick as a BB takes to reload, and thus is almost always ready at the start of an engagement.  Most DD players spec Last Stand on their captains, so engine and rudder are often not repaired, and the only relevant DD AA is from a skill/mod/and/or DF stacked DP main armament so losing the 20mm and 40mm mounts usually is unimportant.  If they are immediately needed, a DD will often DCP its main gun turrets or its torpedo tubes.  The guns aren't as important vs BB's in the usual "close range ambush" situation often mentioned, so it's the torpedo tubes that are important, as that is the DD's alpha strike.  If they are loaded already, temporarily disabling the torpedo tubes does absolutely nothing as the DD player will just hit R and torpedo you anyways, meaning that only permanently destroying them will affect the outcome in that situation.  The only other scenario where temporarily disabling the torpedo tubes will affect anything is if they are still reloading, as the reload will be reset (much to the chagrin of the DD cursing that they would have loaded 5 sec later).  Thus, the times HE module damage actually is a factor in a BB vs DD engagement are relatively few, not to mention that BBAP can also damage and destroy modules too, but just requires a direct hit.

 

Thus, at the end of the day, I feel that BBAP is significantly more consistent than BBHE.  I said over a year ago around various discords when the "double count" stuff first came up that they could make BBAP overpen only and I'd still shoot it over HE due to the reasons I've written above.  IMO, what needed to happen for balance was a removal of the "double count" mechanic, and then a reduction of the maximum damage an AP round could deal with a single hit.  The "single shell lands for 6-8k" was the stupid part of BBAP vs DD's.  Either way, I feel that HE is all but useless due to the drawbacks I've mentioned, and AP is still the preferred choice because of the consistency.  HE is just too inconsistent for a "not worth it" level of damage increase, or potentially even a damage decrease due to saturation.

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My first game post-patch with the Montana just now resulted in a dev strike with BB AP on a Fletcher.

It also was a shot I never would have been able to switch to HE for even with Segal/expert loader, not that I would have even if I could - the odds of doing the ~10k damage that I did in an HE salvo is approximately zero.

 

 

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You articulate it better than I would of. But yes I am in agreement. AP is still seemingly more consistent. I havent really bothered switching to HE, except a few times now after patch. Still blapping DDs. (just not the occasional nosedive, which Im fine with)

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Regardless of what shell you are also using, there is still the amount of time it takes to typically swing guns to target, fire, reload to the "suitable" shell, and fire again, including travel time on both salvos. Unless your name is Missouri, you simply cannot control when the DD is spotted and be able to actually use the HE shells that WG tells you to fire when shooting a DD. That is up to them to be spotted again by your team, or to reveal himself on his own accord. Typically when you see a DD it isn't for long, even under the longest USN radar. CVs are a rare wildcard that shouldn't be taken into account unless you are the CV,  leaving most battleships up to guesswork for the DD.

 

While I don't want to pander as if BBs need radar (no...), or they should spec for RPF (no...), this change seemed incredibly hurried and that there should be a solid amount of data present to eliminate the single-shell multi-pen issues we've had for so long now. Unfortunately to those who do play BB, it is likely to stay for a very long time. It will be incredibly difficult now to prevent a DD charge, not just at top tier either where your accuracy and precision is at the peak of gameplay, but for lower tiers as well. A change like this solidifies me probably never returning to Tiers 8 or lower due to not having an accuracy module on the ship.

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Pretty much spot on, though while part of the intent of the change to get BBs using HE more wont really happen, the other part of reducing the massive damage that could be inflicted I can still agree with.

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Did it ever occur to you that WG never had any intention of encouraging BB to use HE and they simply wanted to remove what was effectively a second roll to detonate for DD? I really don't see how anyone can claim there were solid arguments against the BB AP nerf.

Edited by awildseaking
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20 minutes ago, awildseaking said:

Did it ever occur to you that WG never had any intention of encouraging BB to use HE and they simply wanted to remove what was effectively a second roll to detonate for DD? I really don't see how anyone can claim there were solid arguments against the BB AP nerf.

That would be assuming that they fixed the double penetration bug.   I don't think that they did that with this patch. I could be wrong.   

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Yeah pretty much my feelings. There is  little point for a BB to use HE against a DD unless it is a British BB with HE already loaded. But your post definitely points out just why BB AP was so good at blapping DD's from Afar. hose underwater shell hits tend to slow down shells a lot, which results in frequent penetrations and hits to the front of a DD would almost always be full pens. Either way, removing Full pens on DD's was a step in the right direction, as it was quite silly how high tier BB's could just one shot DD's if their aim was good enough. Unfortunately this has also caused the side effect of making low tier BB's much more vulnerable to close in DD rushes, which was something they already struggled with quite badly, and such Deletions didn't happen very much at low tier due to the much derpier BB dispersion. So they fixed the high tier issues, but typical of such a large blanket change, it likely had some negative effects on low tier play.

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Even though I mostly plays DDs these days I have been concerned about the defensability of a DD charge vs BBs with the AP changes. I think the best solution would be 300+mm HE shells are not effected by saturation vs DDs and cannot have their damage absorbed by a DD module. A 16" HE shell is supposed to be equivalent to a 500 pd bomb, below is a video of a 500pd bomb, There is no way a 100-130mm turret absorbs that explosion.
 

 

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i dont think the issue is really about which shell you use. its generally about, you're not really supposed to be able to randomly and accurately deal that much damage to destroyers.  thats what keeping your cruiser escorts alive is for, a la beta levels of teamwork that are no longer present. You get massive radar instead. 

DD sneaks up to 6km of you then rushes you, you kind of deserve the torps.  you can't die from being torpedo in the face unless its single fire from UK. 

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1 hour ago, BlailBlerg said:

i dont think the issue is really about which shell you use. its generally about, you're not really supposed to be able to randomly and accurately deal that much damage to destroyers.  thats what keeping your cruiser escorts alive is for, a la beta levels of teamwork that are no longer present. You get massive radar instead. 

DD sneaks up to 6km of you then rushes you, you kind of deserve the torps.  you can't die from being torpedo in the face unless its single fire from UK. 

 

It's pretty hard to say whether or not you're supposed to "randomly and accurately deal that much damage to destroyers". Most of the time, it's really specific scenarios where it will happen. But, if a player knows how to aim, then that just means they know how to aim. Those players who get their practice in shooting and know how to hit maneuvering DD's will more likely get the hits on them. So, doing all the 'high damage' that said DD player receives can't really be argued about being right or not since if a person just knows where to aim, then the DD will get hit for a bunch more often than not. There's gonna be clans out there which put pressure on their BB players for purposes of being able to hit DD's a majority of the time in various circumstances. It's an 'expectation' in a way for some of those people to land their shots on the DD's. So, random or luck even, isn't really a good word to describe this entirely. Like, you might not have used those words entirely, but a bunch of others certainly have.

The other issue is the whole DD rushing BB scenario which tons of people like to bring up. Sure, maybe if a Battleship player is clueless and does not pay attention and finds themselves face to face against a rushing DD they might deserve what is about to be in store for them. But there are other scenarios too. It's not far fetched to say that a bunch of times, BB players have to take point and move in close to pressure a cap or even contest it by going inside, or else they might risk losing the whole battle. Situations like that where the BB needs to take charge/responsibility and get into a crucial position, but end up face to face with a DD, you can't really say they deserve to die in that scenario. Some people out there talk rant about how "BB's shouldn't be that close to begin with". But they need to consider that sometimes for the betterment of the battle, it just needs to happen.

Certainly in this patch, there is much less incentive for Battleships to move up closer to the caps to actually help out and perhaps support their own DD's. It just puts them in bad spots, and with unreliable ability to damage the DD's, these players just have more incentive to stay back and camp from afar to not risk running into a DD that may just give them a premature visit back to port. Furthermore, whether or not the BB player decides to use HE- If they decide to, then they're essentially dedicating a whole salvo to the DD which realistically by the time the shells are loaded: the DD may or may not have disappeared out of range, into smoke, behind an island, etc. If there is a bunch of other ships (not DD) that are possible targets, this is another reason to just use AP cause there might be a critical moment where the AP will do a lot against those other ships instead. If HE was loaded, then it is completely missed damage potential.

Anyway this isn't entirely in response to you- Some was just in general stuff. So, sorry to bombard you with a huge post

And it's late at night, so yolo

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This whole update wasn't even needed in the first place. It's bee like this since day one. Hell, some of the DD's that they introduced, such as the Z52, had b=specifically been billed by WG as having their weakness be BB AP arming on them a little more often than other DD's, because their bulge made it easier for the round to arm and deal full pen damage. The fact that two DD's, the Khab and Haru, even got "exempted" from the nerf on BB AP is telling. Some people, particuraly DD mains of course, only started complaining about it in earnest sometime last year.

In the end of the day, it was working as intended. DD's that got careless about being spotted in the open, and aimed at by an enemy BB player 10-15 km know to prioritize targets, got punished. Now, DD's don't have to worry about BB's anymore, and just rush into the areas that BB's are holding, sub-10 km at times.

Switching to HE isn't even viable, as most BB's, even with EL, would take 15~ seconds to be able to switch to HE and shoot them at. Plenty of time for the DD in question to go dark, get behind cover, etc. Unless, of course, that you want BB's shooting HE all the time, even those that are nor RN ones. BB's have inherently large dispersion, and low reloads, so every salvo counts. And not being able to shoot at a DD with the "correct ammo type" is to be expected.

So all in all, everyone loses to some extent. Because now, unless is an RN BB, *both* teams will be stuck with BB's not being able to support against the other respective enemy team's DD threats.

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Ted is right on the money here - battleships won't start using more HE, DDs just won't get punished for mistakes. The one and only problem with beebeeayypee was the double dipping bug - an actual bug.

Ironically, the only ships that this change has truly nerfed are battlecruisers like Kronshtadt and Stalingrad (which is a sidegrade to Moskva, fite me).

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All your points on underwater/module pens are good ones.

That said, I do still sometimes think it's superior to shoot HE  than AP, especially in BB which you may have a predisposition to anyway.

British battleships with high HE damage for instance may be better off with HE. A Vanguard HE shell does a theoretical 2,079 for instance, while AP does 1,170 or a HE:AP damage ratio of 1.77:1. The higher damage absorbs some of the effective lower chance of hitting or being absorbed by a module. For something like Bismarck doing just 1,452 with HE while doing 1,160 with an overpen at a ratio of 1.25:1 the calculus changes, as it does in your Montana example - 1.39:1.

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1 hour ago, Cruiser_Atago said:

 

It's pretty hard to say whether or not you're supposed to "randomly and accurately deal that much damage to destroyers". Most of the time, it's really specific scenarios where it will happen. But, if a player knows how to aim, then that just means they know how to aim. Those players who get their practice in shooting and know how to hit maneuvering DD's will more likely get the hits on them. So, doing all the 'high damage' that said DD player receives can't really be argued about being right or not since if a person just knows where to aim, then the DD will get hit for a bunch more often than not. There's gonna be clans out there which put pressure on their BB players for purposes of being able to hit DD's a majority of the time in various circumstances. It's an 'expectation' in a way for some of those people to land their shots on the DD's. So, random or luck even, isn't really a good word to describe this entirely. Like, you might not have used those words entirely, but a bunch of others certainly have.

The other issue is the whole DD rushing BB scenario which tons of people like to bring up. Sure, maybe if a Battleship player is clueless and does not pay attention and finds themselves face to face against a rushing DD they might deserve what is about to be in store for them. But there are other scenarios too. It's not far fetched to say that a bunch of times, BB players have to take point and move in close to pressure a cap or even contest it by going inside, or else they might risk losing the whole battle. Situations like that where the BB needs to take charge/responsibility and get into a crucial position, but end up face to face with a DD, you can't really say they deserve to die in that scenario. Some people out there talk rant about how "BB's shouldn't be that close to begin with". But they need to consider that sometimes for the betterment of the battle, it just needs to happen.

Certainly in this patch, there is much less incentive for Battleships to move up closer to the caps to actually help out and perhaps support their own DD's. It just puts them in bad spots, and with unreliable ability to damage the DD's, these players just have more incentive to stay back and camp from afar to not risk running into a DD that may just give them a premature visit back to port. Furthermore, whether or not the BB player decides to use HE- If they decide to, then they're essentially dedicating a whole salvo to the DD which realistically by the time the shells are loaded: the DD may or may not have disappeared out of range, into smoke, behind an island, etc. If there is a bunch of other ships (not DD) that are possible targets, this is another reason to just use AP cause there might be a critical moment where the AP will do a lot against those other ships instead. If HE was loaded, then it is completely missed damage potential.

Anyway this isn't entirely in response to you- Some was just in general stuff. So, sorry to bombard you with a huge post

And it's late at night, so yolo

i take it back, i do agree. 

but the point remains. This level of damage isn't what should be expected for BB ap vs DD. 

Also, aim has gotten better in the last year, used to be people couldn't hit DDS or Khab at all. now, its eminently easy. Do it every time, every game. 

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I still found it slightly more effective to hit DDs with HE instead of AP, or at least it's worth trying if you know that there's only a DD that you will be shooting at. This change made me realize that expert loader is probably a really good skill on BBs like GK and Montana with which I shoot a lot of HE to begin with. 

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just wanted to say that i agree with the OP.  I had similar thoughts, though i dont think i ever articulated them as well as they did.    I would say AP is better in about all situations but one.   When a DD is rushing, have HE loaded and wait until they make the turn to torp.  by that point, they will show you a nice juicy broadside that is easier to hit, and less likely to have shells hit their modules.  I have dev struck a few DDs that way since the patch.  With that said, if they are full HP, you are not likely to delete them unless they have a low amount of health(total HP for their tier or just low on health)  if someone is full HP, it is doubtful you can overcome damage saturation, dispersion, and module hits taking the damage instead to delete a full health DD. 

 

 

had that damage to modules doing 10% of shell damage went through, it would of been a hit to all types, not just BBs and cruisers.  more so for DDs because most cant heal.   with that said, BB AP would of probably been better when hitting those modules, because 10% from an AP shell is almost always more than 10% of HE. 

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too bad so sad.  dd's are smaller weaker boats that should get wrecked by bigger boats.  you don't balance your game by making the worst ship the best ship.  if people want to drive less survivable boats that's their decision they shouldn't need artificial nonsense to give them incentive.  

 

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11 hours ago, _Fr0g_ said:

That would be assuming that they fixed the double penetration bug.   I don't think that they did that with this patch. I could be wrong.   

Even double dips are okay so long as they remain overpens. Full pen is what made double dips a problem in the first place. Removing dips and not AP pens would make DD continue to receive excessive dmg from RNG.

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I haven't found it to be too big of an issue thus far.  AP is still more consistent damage, but I have fired a few volleys of HE at DDs and noticed that, once hit, they just limp along like paralyzed fish.  BB HE breaks everything lol!

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22 minutes ago, awildseaking said:

Even double dips are okay so long as they remain overpens. Full pen is what made double dips a problem in the first place. Removing dips and not AP pens would make DD continue to receive excessive dmg from RNG.

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The 'double dips' are as everyone knows, a bug/glitch/whatever you want to call it. There's no real reliable way to even cause that to happen, so that's the most RNG thing about this. Getting full pens are more reliable to get and the circumstances of receiving those full pens are pretty straightforward (literally). The double dips aren't even an intended consequence, so that is what should have been looked at or removed first honestly. The double dips notwithstanding, a full pen from something like a Montana caused roughly over 4,000 damage. In itself that isn't that much, it gets to be excessive when a bunch of shells hit and deal cumulative damage. But that's the same as any other ship. If we want to get into it, it could be argued that cruisers have it worse cause they can take heavy damage, i.e., citadel hits at literally any angle and that does upwards of 13,500 damage (For Montana), meaning that it takes only 3 of those to effectively remove them as opposed to perhaps 4-6 hits on a DD to deal about the same % overall damage. But that's it's own topic :Smile_hiding:

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On the topic of large-caliber HE, two things I've observed.

The amount of zero-damage hits on DDs is vanishingly small, I can't pull any from memory at the moment.

The modules damaged on DDs are sometimes outright destroyed, such as their torpedo tubes. 

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