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Brohk

An objective look at the CV rework

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Beta Testers, In AlfaTesters
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So the aircraft carrier (CV) rework is upon us and after watching the forums implode a day of being productive at work, I finally got home and was able to spend some time playing the game. I've decided to provide my thoughts in a separate thread (yes, yes, I know, very original) in the hope that maybe, perhaps, we can have a thread that doesn't immediately descend into hyperbolic chaos. I began playing last night with an open mind and a willingness to explore the rework, I suspended my own personal prejudices in an effort to form an objective opinion based on my experiences and plan to do so going forward - so with that out of the way, let's dive right in!RNGesus help me.

 

DISCLAIMERS: Before I begin, I feel it's necessary to highlight several things I feel are important to the rework that we should not lose sight of while the meta shifts, the game changes, and players vent their frustrations.

  1. Aircraft carriers (CV) are probably the most polarizing class of ship in the game. Often referred to as 'sky cancer' or a whole slew of less than flattering names, this is a class of ship that evokes strong reactions when being discussed and they run the gamut of emotions. Some players despise the class with an unbridled passion while others love the class unequivocally. Some players fear the class when it appears in their game while others don't give a whit. Some players advocate the removal of the class, some players argue it never should have been added, and some players feel you can't possibly create a game based in this period of time without them. Whatever your thoughts are on aircraft carriers, try to be mindful that your opinion is just one among many and they all deserve to be heard.
  2. The rework is changing not just how a class plays, but how players will control the class. As a result, some CV players are extremely angry about the loss of the RTS style of game play and they have every right to be angry. The responsibility for this anger falls squarely on Wargaming who introduced the RTS style of play and allowed it to exist for three years. Whether or not it should have been implemented in the first place is irrelevant. 
  3. A rework, not necessarily this rework, had to happen. CV's were one of the least played classes in the game and generally one of the least accessible for the average player with the skill floor being exceptionally high. There are countless other reasons I will list briefly but not get into detail over; the skill gap between opposing players, the alpha strike potential, spotting, and counter-play or lack thereof. A rework has the potential to correct many of the issues.
  4. Asking players to 'beta test' a 'live' game can understandably cause frustration. I've been playing long enough that I remember the beta periods of the game and the blurry lines between open beta and release. While I've personally considered the game to be in a perpetual semi-beta state as a result of my experience, newer players only see a released game that occasionally gets patches containing new features, ships, and/or balance changes. Asking people to invest their time and money towards testing in a 'live' game is bound to raise some concern, and rightfully so. Flags, camouflage, doubloons and credits are being spent for a testing process that could last several months and that does not set well with many players.
  5. Work in progress - 'nuff said! Okay, maybe I should add a little more detail here. I believe many players are aware this rework is not complete and is likely to change and fluctuate in the coming months, and I also believe that many players fundamentally accept this. There are a couple things to bear in mind here; not everyone is aware of the breadth and scope of the rework and potential changes, patience may be a virtue but see disclaimer #4, and there is warranted fear that things may get worse or the changes will not end satisfactorily for all players based on their desired outcome.

 


OBSERVATIONS: Please note that at this point, these are all based on a small number of games (8) in only two ships; the Kidd and Missouri - both fully specced for AA. My observations and thoughts are based on this very small number of games and will change over time with more games played and with balance changes.  

 I had no particular reason to pick the ships that I did (Kidd and Missouri), other than enjoying both of them and needing to replenish my credits after a frenzy of snowflake-driven purchases. Where possible, I selected AA modules and for captain skills, I selected AFT over MCFAA on both (in addition to BFT) so I could test the results prior to a respec. 6 of the 8 games had two aircraft carriers per side, the other 2 games had none (curious). Here are some of my limited observations:

  • Overall, playing the game last night felt very weird. It honestly felt like a different game with a lot of uncertainty, which isn't really unexpected. The sudden consistent appearance of aircraft carriers is something I haven't seen in a very long time. It became pretty apparent that people were still trying to get used to the controls while the rest of the ships held their breath waiting for something to happen. This appeared to lead to passive play on some sides, as I think players were fearful of being the tallest tree (and soon felled). 
  • I saw a lot of CV's come within line of sight of opposing ships early in matches, and whether this was intentional or an adjustment to the controls is unclear. What I found truly astounding was that in most cases, these CV's survived! I saw ships withhold their shots at a CV and opt for another target instead, and I saw some ships unload on CV's (myself included) and it felt like they were significantly tougher targets. 
  • The difference between a CV player who has a good grasp on the new controls versus one who is still learning was glaringly obvious. In one Missouri game, I was attacked by a Saipan repeatedly while in the vicinity of another ship and this player managed to land a total of four torpedoes in two separate drops, as well as hitting me with either rockets or HE bombs (I was a little unclear as to which, but a fire was started) while I managed to shoot down about three planes per pass. In another Missouri game, I was attacked by a Saipan while I was completely isolated and the first wave he sent started taking some chip damage, then hit flak and 6 planes were destroyed immediately, followed quickly by the other two. His next strike against me resulted in the exact same outcome, flak -> dead, he never managed to drop anything on me. 
  • DFAA is a very powerful tool, even on a destroyer. My Kidd was harassed early in one game by both enemy CV's and after 37 plane kills, they completely left me alone after inflicting minimal damage. 
  • CV's seemed to struggle to do damage, at least based on their XP-based position at game's end. Most CV's were in the bottom half of the team in total XP earned, a few were dead last, and the highest was 6th.
  • If felt like I spent a lot of time being spotted in my destroyer IF I happened to be the target of the CV. 

 


CONCLUSIONS: Waaaaaaaaaaay too early to draw any, for shame!

 


THINGS TO MONITORThese are some potential issues that I feel are worth keeping an eye on in the days and weeks to come.

  • The high alpha damage of CV's is gone now, theoretically there may be some potential to deal a fair amount with just one flight but practically it's not going to happen in the current iteration. While CV's seemed to struggle mightily to deal any damage, part of that may be players struggling to master the new controls. I'll be very interested to see if the outcome will change in the next couple of days. Will their need to be an adjustment in damage?
  • CV's being closer to the battle and lightning fast planes meant very short intervals between flights attacking my ship. In one of my examples above, every flight managed to either set me on fire or flood me when I was hit. As a result, DCP is going to have to be used wisely or your ship will suffer heavily if being targeted repeatedly. Will fire/flooding chance need an adjustment? Will CV's start moving closer to the fight?
  • Short intervals between flights can potentially be a problem for ships that rely on stealth if they lack the AA firepower to make a CV rethink their target. As a destroyer in particular, I had one game where the enemy CV kept repeatedly sending waves after me and while he was only able to do minimal damage, I spent a lot of time spotted and under fire. What effect could this have on the meta?
  • AA feels very strong right now, in some cases and for some ships, it feels stronger than it did prior to the rework. The real killer seemed to be flak which I felt was akin to a devastating strike performed by a ship as I saw entire flights blotted out of the sky instantly. Is flak too strong, or given that it can be dodged, should it remain very strong?
  • Player skill with the new controls, right now I feel most balance issues come back to this point. When I talk about new controls here, I also mean the new sector control for ships that, even without MCFAA provided a noticeable boost in the ships I played. As familiarity grows, will the player with the best grasp of controls win the encounter? If so, I feel like that may be a step in the right direction. 
  • The CV population, while almost insignificant prior to the rework, exploded afterwards for predictable reasons. In the coming weeks, will the population remain high or will it begin to dwindle closer to pre-rework?

 


These were some of musings based on my games played last night, I urge you all to share yours or respond to mine. Please try to remain objective and provide examples and as much detail as possible. Vent if you must, but try to understand that this is the situation at hand and raging, while cathartic, isn't exactly constructive. 

 

TL:DR - i haz o-pinions!

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