How to Play CV Rework
Table of Contents:
The rework is truly upon us. With such a major change coming to the game, there are probably many people who aren't aware what can be done, how to even play, or even know it's happening. To this end, I have gone over what can be done in the rework a lot, testing ideas from people and even theory crafting my own. I have been the carrier and the ship trying to maximize the potential and exploit the game to a high level in these interactions. I don’t have the patience of LWM to show you the tiny details, so instead I will focus on the overall effect of ships vs carrier, and the players behind them, while also discussing the best ways to combat from either side. Take note that I only spent my time in tier 8-10, against as many actual players I could find and I will be using video examples taken from my twitch to explain everything that I will be talking about here (there are vulgarities in the example videos, you have been warned). If you like the effort put into this, and want to see me in action, follow the channel here. https://www.twitch.tv/pulicat
Also note that when I say Ships, I mean non-CV ships.
2. The Carrier Experience.
In my time playing the CV’s, I actually had a good time. The gameplay lines up much better with what it’s like playing other classes, the controls and events are fluid, and the visuals are great especially with the new perspective. I’ve seen a lot of complaints from players saying it’s boring, that all you do is just attack over and over the same way. Perhaps they are just people who only play the old carriers, but if they aren’t they should take a second look. You control 1 thing, and use concealment, positioning and accuracy to attack the enemy and avoid damage in return, exactly like every other class.
However, the difference is in how you attack. Ships in the game simply throw their shells and torps at each other and whittle down the only HP bar they have. Carriers fight in this way, but they are not fought in this way. The CVs have 3 separate HP bars, the one that’s applied to their hull, their plane reserves, and their plane HP. The plane HP is what you fight to fend off an individual attack, and at most a squadron can use ½ or 2/3 of the maximum strikes before plane risk is too high. Every plane that escapes, no matter it’s health, is a full HP plane later, which brings us to the second HP bar, the carriers reserves. This is probably the closest resemblance you can find to the HP of a normal ship going down over time. The more plane kills you can get, the more you are actually hurting the CV, but it’s important to keep in mind that the CV is regenerating the reserve HP by about 1-2 planes per squadron for every attack it sends out. If the CV player is using all their squads, you will want at least 4-6 plane kills done to every squad in order to outpace the regeneration. That is what the actual hull HP of the carrier is doing, a floating factory that once you finally kill, you put it out of commission for good. This gives the CVs a big advantage against another ship.
Overall, I think there will be a portion of players that enjoy the new carriers, like DD players as they play very similar now. Both quick and low alpha damage (so they say), weak against group focus. It makes a lot of sense that WG decided to branch the carrier tech tree off of Destroyers when you think about it like that.
3. The Carrier Balance, IJN vs USN.
Feels mostly like brains vs brawn. IJN have less but stronger and faster torps, AP bombs and comparatively slow attack craft with less rockets. Their planes are weaker overall, and the AP bombs suffer to this. USN on the other hand focuses on saturating the target with more in their payload in exchange for less damage. Their attack craft are much faster but the bombers much slower, and all squads more durable. It’s the much more DoT (damage over time) focused of the two, but there are methods for both nations to cripple opponents with DoTs.
The Tier 10s are a different matter entirely however. Their deck armor makes it so that the only effective squad to ‘cv snipe’ them with is torpedo planes, which can be dodged. Here is an example of 2 tier 10 CV trying to snipe me from the start of the game. I am completely without allied support, fending for myself. After I take a big hit because I was just sitting still not caring, I start actively countering and they can never finish the job. I end up killing 50 planes. Example: Being CV sniped by 2 enemy carriers.
Unfortunately, at other tiers, CV snipe is still possible, but at least unlikely. It’ll take them some time since you are so far away, and your summon fighter and plane fighters make it so an enemy squad can only attack you once before being swarmed down, it’s simply not a viable strategy to winning the game unless the kill is confirmed in 2-3 attacks.
4. Basic Carrier Gameplay.
It’s fairly straightforward in terms of controls. You can use WASD for movement, and mouse aiming for fine tuning. It will probably take some time to adjust to the mouse aiming, as you will find it doing it automatically while you're just looking around. If you use right click to lock your guns and look around playing a ship, this same thing works for planes. When attacking another class of ship, it's important to use the correct aircraft for the job.
When attacking destroyers, Attack Planes have the easiest time. The damage may not always be great, but keep in mind they're not always going to be trying to dodge only you as you are keeping them spotted. Torpedo Bombers are good for dropping into smoke, but a moving DD will be a very tough target. Dive Bombers are the least useful, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to hit.
When attacking cruisers, Attack Planes are once again your best choice. They are quick enough to take less damage within enemy AA auras, have reliable damage, and don't care too much about enemy angling. Dive Bombers can be a good choice as well, especially AP bombs. Stationary cruisers camping islands will be a prime target for DBs. Torpedo Bombers are least effective, as they are slow and dodgable for a cruiser.
When attacking battleships, literally everything works. They are not maneuverable enough to dodge attacks well, and can be harassed effectively.
4-1. Starting an Attack Run and the Grey Marker. That grey marker is very important, far beyond just where the attack lines up. The grey marker represents the point at which your planes will achieve full accuracy with their aim during the attack run if you do not debuff the accuracy with moving. Example: Grey Marker Represents Full Aim Note where the grey marker is when I start the attack run, and you will see it lines up with where I get full aim.
4-2. Do Not Move When Starting an Attack Run. This is key. Get in as close as possible to your target with the grey marker lined up, make sure your mouse is centered on it and do not WASD or mouse move and you will achieve full aim in the shortest amount of time, leaving you less exposed in your limited attack run movement. If you happen to overshoot with the marker slightly, you can hold slow down (Skey) and this will not affect your aim negatively, but give you more time to aim. This does expose you to flak however. Example: Don't Move While Aiming Also, if there are a lot of ships with AA, it will affect your aim time.
4-3. Don’t Be Greedy. Most people will probably learn over time, but if you go through with a strike and more than half your planes are yellow HP or less, just send them home. It’s honestly not worth crippling your late game potential if you lose your planes by trying to turn around and get another strike. If you are squad shortening, you can always just launch the same squad and get back there. Your games are long in CVs, be patient and think of the long game.
4-4. Do not bother with pre-emptive on-summon fighter drops. They are better saved for BBs that have used DCP. Tell your BBs to either say they used DCP or use a quick command to ask for AA support. If you see bombers flying around, don’t try to drop a fighter on them. It simply does not engage fast enough and will be wasted. They are also good for yourself in the late game, which may become very cv vs cv. The consumables will fill the gaps of the one for your CV. Example: Dropping fighters on enemy planes doesn't work.
4-5. Using Attack Runs Defensively. In certain situations, you may find use to use the attack run to lower your planes closer to the water. You can duck behind certain islands to avoid enemy AA guns, or even from being spotted entirely. It's important to note that currently you can't cancel an attack run in progress, but you aren't usually locked out of attacking again for very long. So it's possible to attack run to sneak in, exit attack run for your approach, and then start the actual attack run. This was requested to be added in by @MaliceA4Thought.
5. Advanced Carrier Techniques.
This is the section I believe most people will be interested in. Over my time playing I tried existing strategies I heard of and even came up with a couple on my own that have potential to be really strong options.
5-1. Hakuryu Stealth Torping and Sequential Dropping. Everyone probably knows about this one by now. With the 8km torps and full conceal, you are able to drop torpedoes 7km away from a target, and turn away holding the S key to never be spotted by him. Though the torps are slow, people still land torpedoes with ships like the Sims or Black. This will be very potent against ships that like to hug islands, bow tanking or are otherwise relatively immobile. Sequential drops are very potent too, as the torps are extremely stealthy. Once you get good at aiming the lead and predicting opponent reaction, you will hit them. And with the spacing on the torps, you may be able to reapply flood after they DCPed one in the first wave, all without losing a single torp bomber. Examples: Stealth Torping. Sequential Dropping
5-2. Squad Shortening. This is one of mine, as far as I know nobody has tried this or talked about it at all. The idea is when you launch a fresh squadron, you immediately drop a payload to send the planes back home. This is best used in 2 situations. At the start of the game, you can shorten your attack plane scouts to half so it’s easier to dodge in the long-range flak bubbles, and to make sure you can launch a full squad of the same type right behind landing the ones you’re on. The applications are limited because, even though you are able to dodge flak easier, continuous AA damage will have less planes to work over. The effect of continuous is best explained in this thread here made by @Edgecaseand @GoldPile. You might be able to get more use out of Last Gasp this way too.
5-3. Forcing DCP. As we all know, a flood is usually an instant DCP for any ship that suffers one. Using the above trick to fly around with 2 torp strikes instead of 3 and having a full squad at home, you can try to dive through heavier AA to get one torp strike on a BB and fly away with Last Gasp. If you flood that BB, he’s going to have to DCP it. Land the rest of your weakened torp planes and launch a full hp squad to do the same thing again. It is nearly impossible to stop a full HP squadron from coming in and attacking once, but it is very possible to stop a second strike from the same group. This method gets around that limitation, and can guarantee anywhere from 30-40s of uninterrupted flood damage, plus two torp plane strikes worth of damage on a BB. And that’s assuming they’re running premium DCP with max cooldown reduction. On top of that, you will barely lose any torp planes. Very viable but the window is short and you must be able to launch enough torp planes to field nearly 2 full squads at one time. Take care of your reserves. Example: DCP Forcing. I have taken the flooding mechanic changes into account for this technique, and have determined it will still be effective and potentially more.
5-4. Abusing Flak Spawns (Plinko Flak). Flak is the deadliest thing to you, obviously, and sometimes the flak walls spawn too long for you to go around. A lot of the time I see this complaint, the planes are flying right at their target, so the flak wall spawns between you and the target forcing you to fly around and mess up your attack run. One thing to note is that the flak spawns in front of you, not always between you and the target. This can be abused, and with the name Plinko you probably already understand. When approaching a target, use boost to go full speed at an angle to the target ship. When the inevitable flak wall spawns, release boost, turn to another angle and boost again as if you were just rolling off the wall to the side. You can adjust how you want to plinko the flak based on how your opponent is maneuvering against you, but it is an extremely reliable way to not only mitigate flak damage, but potentially remove it entirely, including defensive fire. Examples: Plinko ex.1 Plinko ex.2 Plinko ex.3
6. The Ship Experience.
The workload here has gone up. Now everything you knew about the game must be considered with carriers. No longer will CVs appear once every 5 or 10 games. It will be common to see at least 1v1, and probably a lot of 2v2 coming right out of the patch, especially with a new carrier line coming out in 0.8.1. Unfortunately most of my experience fighting other ships with carriers around was against bots in PTS. Even with that limited experience, I don't think fighting carriers will be much different as it is with RTS CVs. It can be slightly satisfying when you see the big red damage numbers done to planes, but after a while it became a bit hollow. The CV is still just fighting against a mechanic, not against me directly. As much as I really wish for direct control over my AA so that it's really ME he is fighting, I think this would be too much for a good amount of players to handle without suffering.
Now before you start saying that's crazy talk, people should either be able to handle it or be punished, I would agree with you IF there was skill based matchmaking. At least then, the players with lower capabilities would fight people of similar skill only, and what they would or wouldn't be able to do wouldn't be as unfair. I don't find it unreasonable to give some concessions to those players since they are forced to play against really good players. Back on topic to Automated AA however, having the entire interaction with another class be automated is fairly frustrating at times. I can think of a couple unobtrusive ways where a player can have more interaction with the aircraft, and that will be below where I suggest mechanic additions.
Overall, carriers and ships interact the same way, it will just be much more frequent now since they will appear in more games. There will be some system shock at first, and I have no doubt that gameplay will settle and be balanced around it over time. Whether I want to be a ship in that gameplay however remains to be seen, and right now it's sitting at a no.
7. Defending Yourself from Airstrikes.
Stay near ships with defensive fire if you don’t have one, don’t get engaged by planes when you can’t maneuver much, and be very careful with your DCP. At the start of 0.8.0, a lot of players won’t be experienced yet and you may not notice their effect all that much. They will probably lose a lot of planes doing things they shouldn’t, and be out of reserves for late game. Don’t let that fool you, good carriers will be deadly as ever, and nothing but the longest flak walls, highest continuous damage and most bizarre maneuvering will stop them. Using your defensive fire or catapult planes should not always be used just because you have them active. Saving them for more dangerous squad types, or protecting yourself from follow up attacks while your DCP is down would be better than trying to defensive fire rocket planes as soon as you see them.
When Attack Planes are coming for you, their main goal is your soft spots. The biggest one being your superstructure. To describe how they launch rockets, I will use Shokaku as an example. They launch rockets within their elliptical as 2, and then 8, followed by the last 2 in a straight line. This means that broadsiding the incoming attack planes is exactly what they want you to do. Try to show the least amount of profile possible while still keeping them in your sector to fight against them the best.
With Torpedo planes, the same can be applied. Show the least amount of profile as possible while maintaining your sector on them. You also want to try to turn towards them if you can, because this will reduce the amount of time the torpedoes are around you and reducing your movement options. If you turn away, it sets up potential for the enemy cv to cross drop you, since torpedoes move slower and they'll box you in longer.
With Dive bombers, their preferred angle is with you pointing directly toward or away from them. At least the tech tree ones. Give them as much broadside as possible.
7-1 Beating CVs with the Numbers. What it comes down to now is minimizing the enemy CVs effect on you and the game as much as possible. Any amount of time waste and plane reserve hits you can cause to the enemy are victories. Even if they are small, they all add up, and wasting their time is good since they are focused on damage over time. Remember, even though there will be more players in carriers that you will see often, there will be a balance between good and bad ones, so it may not always be so bad fighting against a carrier.
7-2 DDs vs Carriers. Destroyers will still have to be careful early game, because attack planes can still hurt even if they don't delete you. Try to take a more cautious approach to caps, so as not to be spotted in the open by planes and be attacked by both them and enemy ships. Watch out for torpedo planes assisting in cross dropping your smoke.
7-3 Early Sector Switching. When under attack by a squadron, and you know they will pass over to your other side, try to learn the timing of your sector switch delay to line it up so it switches right when they pass over. This will maximize your sector, and there is no AA loss in switching. It will take some time to get it right, but every little bit will help.
7-4 The Downtier Experience. Be really careful when you are bottom tier against a CV as well. It's really hard to defend yourself alone against strong planes, almost to the point where it seems unfair. I hope WG puts more focus onto this area of balance. The downtier experience
To judge whether or not you were successful in fighting off a plane attack, a good rule of thumb would be expecting 3 plane kills and upwards to even have a noticeable effect on his reserves per attack. If the enemy carrier is smart though, he will just land his planes before he loses too much. The best you can expect most of the time is to make sure you only get attacked once by the entire squadron, and try to mitigate the damage from that 1 attack as best you can.
8. Possible Mechanic Additions.
One thing that is really strong right now is using the land command for your squadron right after an attack. Your planes disappear so quickly that the enemy can’t really shoot you down. Something that would be good is adding a similar effect of strafing out of a fighter lock. Losing a plane doing so, or taking a lot of damage from AA if you use the land command inside short or medium range AA. This would at least give the ships more of a chance to destroy planes and some punishment or risk to pulling the land maneuver (flying high into the sky sharply) right over enemy AA.
I also think that since fires on CV only last 5s, the DCP auto consumable should never activate for them. A player would never use it for that, even if they somehow happened to have 4 fires going, that would not come close to the damage of a normal fire on anything else. Even if there are players that would want the auto use to activate for a single fire, it would just do them more harm than good.
In respect to the lack of interaction for ships in fighting aircraft, one thing that would be doable is re-implement ctrl-click aircraft, and have a delay of 3-4 seconds between each time you are able to click to add in a couple bonus ticks of continuous damage. Nothing that will disrupt the balance, but at least add some player action = impact.
Another thing that could help with that would be to add a fourth attack mode, being AA. Picture the mode you get for torpedoes, a large cone representing the limits of your aim, and a smaller one showing you where you are aiming within that cone. The smaller cone would increase the damage for any aircraft that are inside it (above it), and the large aim limits would just be your AA auras. This would not only be a better and more interactive system than what I just mentioned above, but this would also be better than the sector system. The smaller aim cone could be 1/4 or even 1/6 of your AA aura, like a slice of pie. You could lock it in place with the key used to activate the sector system now, so you could do other things, or take direct control during an attack to maximize the damage you do to the planes. You yourself fighting a CV while it is attacking you. This isn't quite as far as real control over your AA, but it would line up well with existing gameplay and reduce the automated RNG of your AA that is your entire interaction with another class.
By @NCC81701, Have you thought about viability to adding manual control to altitude and AA similar to subs? Say for High altitude drop is less accurate but takes less damage from Short/Mid AA but low altitude attack is more accurate but take more damage from Short/Mid AA. The player ship then have to judge/decide the altitude level of the large caliber AA/flack burst. if it's at the correct altitude it does bonus damage. Cooldown will be present for changing the altitude of both planes and large caliber AA of course.
9. General Thoughts.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience playing CVs, the same cannot be said for playing ships against them however. I feel that the gameplay of WoWs is much more strategic and enjoyable without CVs in random battles, and a lot of that is lost with them. When CVs are around, they dominate the no-mans land, and nothing can really contest this. Even if the CV can no longer one shot you, it doesn't change the environment they cause. This will really be felt if WG puts in 2v2 CV matches. If WG happens to read this, I really think you should limit it to 1v1 for at least 0.8.0, and then evaluate the effect from live to consider if upping the amount for 0.8.1 is warranted. I know this will impact the amount of people trying to play CV in 0.8.0 and the queue times, but 2v2 would really put negative opinions in people's minds as they experience it as ships, no matter how balanced you might think it is. Being attacked by a carrier is not something people will enjoy, and doubling that occurrence is risky for tolerance.
10. Thank You.
I hope this Guide/Opinion piece was useful to you. I put a lot of work into it over the course of the week, and tried to make it as unbiased and fair as possible. I ask that you share this with people in the game so they too can get a handle on this new gameplay, and if you have questions or want to counterpoint what I’m saying, I’m always glad to respond. You can either comment to this thread or talk to me in Twitch. Also, feel free to argue points made here or by other people commenting, but keep it civil so this thread remains unlocked and open for discussion.
Special Thanks to:
@HellaCopterRescue for putting up with my long rants and playing Devil’s Advocate, along with helping me test things for video. This guide would not be what it is without his help.
@Kousatsu for assistance behind the scenes ensuring this guide was well structured.
@Carrier_Hornet for playing CV for me so I could play ships in PTS and guarantee carrier games.
@Warlord78 and @Ponymagistrate for reviewing this guide among other things.