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UltimateNewbie

Quick Reference Guide: Understanding your ship's role and how to defeat all enemies

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Hello captains, welcome to the WoWS forums. 

Ever wonder how some players seems to know exactly what to do with their ships, and make them sing just right and devastate the enemy?  Ever see a ship on the other team and not be sure how you should counter them?  The answer is knowing what your ship's job is, how to capitalise on its strengths, and understanding how to counter enemy ships. 

But, given there are so many ships in the game, this can be hard to pick up quickly - how to keep track of them all? The answer is in the below table, where there are some patterns that multiple types of ship from multiple nations and tiers can be grouped together, as they all fulfil a similar role.  This quick reference guide is primarily for newer players who are looking to take their gameplay up a level.  If you are a brand new player, and not sure yet what type of ship or nation you should start, see the post immediately below this one for my suggested new-player friendly starter nations/types.  

As always, I would welcome any suggestions/feedback to improve upon it.  If you have any questions/would like me to elaborate, please post below.  

Otherwise, good luck!

 

Ship Type

Primary role(s)

Counter-play

Destroyers/DD - Torpedo

Examples:

  • IJN Destroyer tech tree line, ending in Shimakaze,
  • German Destroyer line, ending in Z-521
  • Russian/Soviet Alternate Destroyer line, ending in Grozovoi

When driving torpedo DDs, use your excellent stealth to get up close to enemies and deliver massive alpha strikes (via torpedoes), with high flooding chance as backup Damage over Time (DoT). 

Ideally remain unspotted at all times, in order to not alert your enemy of your torpedo attacks. 

Use stealth to capture control points, but bail quickly and early if gunboat DDs or carrier planes contest you.  

Spot enemy ships for your team. 

To defeat torpedo DDs, regularly change speed and direction to make aiming effective torpedo attacks very difficult.  Don't drive in straight lines or otherwise move in predictable ways.  Be paranoid if you are spotted for no good reason.  Use teamwork (such as friendly destroyers, cruisers or carrier planes) to spot enemy DDs before they can launch torpedoes against you. 

ALWAYS shoot at a spotted DD - they have low health; chip away at it whilst they are still (briefly) seen. 

Destroyers/DD - Gunboat

Examples:

  • USN Destroyer line2
  • IJN Alternate Destroyer line, ending in Harugumo
  • Russian/Soviet Destroyer line, ending in Khabarovsk
  • UK Destroyer line, ending in Daring
  • French Destroyer line, ending in Kleber

Use rapid-fire low calibre guns in open water (Russian or French) or in smoke (others) to trigger DoT damage (ie, fires) against enemy capital ships generally, contest caps against enemy destroyers early game.  Use torpedoes as backup weapons. 

Use speed, agility and small physical size to dodge incoming gunfire. 

When contesting caps, remember that Torpedo DDs are likely to be stealthier than you, so when you're spotted either rush them hard as you'll outgun them, or bail immediately - dont just sit broadside in your smoke as you'll eat a wall of torpedos.  

Dont drive in straight lines or otherwise move in predictable ways.  Be paranoid if you are spotted for no good reason.  Use teamwork (such as friendly destroyers, cruisers or carrier planes) to spot enemy DDs before they can launch torpedoes against you.  In addition, use hard cover (like Islands) to break line of sight.  Proper management of DCP and Repair Party.  Before battle, set up your ship and captain to resist fire damage; mount flags. 

ALWAYS shoot at a spotted DD - they have low health; chip away at it whilst they are still seen.  Practice hitting small ships moving at high speed at long range.  

Cruisers/CL - Light (6 inch/155mm guns or smaller) 

Examples:

  • Most early-mid tier cruiser lines up to about T6
  • USN Cruiser line, ending in Worcester,
  • UK Cruiser line, ending in Minotaur,
  • High-tier HE spammers including Bayard, Colbert and Smolensk

Use fast-firing medium calibre guns behind hard cover (like Islands) or soft cover (like smoke screens) to trigger DoT damage (eg, fires) against enemy capital ships.  Primary targets are destroyers and aircraft, or any battleship that has just put out one fire like a total muppet.  

Cruisers are consumable queens - support friendly destroyers near caps (but stay in/near cover) with aggressive use of radar, hydro.  Destroy enemy planes with Def AA. 

Do not get spotted in the open, as your lack of armour and massive citadels mean you die if seen. 

If a capital ship, shoot them back! Use hard cover (like Islands) to break line of sight. Proper management of DCP and Repair Party - DO NOT just put out one fire if you cannot get to safety first.  Before battle, set up your ship and captain to resist fire damage; mount flags. 

If a destroyer, use situational awareness and skill to bait consumable use.  Draw cruisers out into the open in front of friendly battleships and heavy cruisers.  Force movement away from hard cover by flanking with torpedo attacks on their 'safe' position. 

Cruisers/CA - Heavy (8 inch/ 203mm guns or larger)

Examples:

  • USN alternate cruiser line, ending in Des Moines3,
  • French cruiser line ending in Henri IV,
  • German cruiser line ending in Hindenburg,
  • IJN cruiser line ending in Zao,
  • Italian cruiser line ending in Venezia.
  • High-tier Superheavy Cruisers including Alaska, Azuma, Yoshino, Kronshtadt, Stalingrad, and Siegfried.

Use quick-firing medium calibre guns in open water to deliver substantial, accurate, AP alpha strikes to enemy cruisers (primarily), or HE alpha strikes to open water gunboat DDs, or HE/fire damage to capital ships at long range (15km+).  

Use consumables to support team where possible, including Def AA, hydro or radar typically in a defensive way.  

Late game, can use torpedos (if any) in last-ditch suicide strikes against capital ships from positions of concealment (like Islands). 

Faster cruisers (particularly French) and heavier-gunned cruisers (particularly Superheavy Cruisers) work best on the flanks of maps to get better shots on enemy broadsides with their heavy AP guns.  

Italian SAP shells devastate destroyers and hurt weakly armoured parts of other ships (eg, battleship superstructures) but can quickly lead to damage saturation if repeatedly used in the same place - switch between SAP and AP frequently.

Whilst you have some armour, being hit in the citadel still hurts - dodging enemy battleship fire is feasible at long ranges if vigilant. 

If a capital ship, shoot back! Use hard cover (like Islands) to break line of sight. Proper management of DCP and Repair Party.  Before battle, set up your ship and captain to resist fire damage; mount flags. 

If a cruiser, do NOT go broadside - engage in DPM duel and hope for enemy incompetence; close range if you have torps, else attempt to kite them.

If a destroyer, use situational awareness and skill to dodge incoming fire, go dark (become unspotted) and then keep enemy ship spotted until friendlies kill it or they blunder into your torps.

Battleships/BB - Brawling

Examples:

  • German battleship line, in particular Tirpitz,
  • French battleship line (to a lesser extent), ending in Republique
  • USS Massachusettes and to a lesser extent USS Georgia (but not other USN battleships). 

Use combination of relatively inaccurate main battery of slow firing heavy weapons to deliver large alpha strikes (via guns) over medium-short distances, particularly against hapless cruisers or battleships who turn broadside to try and run out of your secondary battery range.  

Early game, follow other battleships and use main guns on targets.  Mid to late game only, close range to enable powerful secondary armament/torpedoes to destroy wounded ships.  Laugh heartily.  

Practice torpedobeats ad nauseum.

DO NOT DRIVE BROADSIDE to a battleship, or else get a paddlin'. 

Kite the enemy ship by running and attempting to set fires/floods.  

Maintain maximum distance, where their guns are less accurate and in order to stay out of secondary range. 

If a destroyer, take advantage of enemy ship's exposed forward position, and lack of stealth and agility to plan surprise torpedo attacks.  Remember to say 'bye' in global chat like a Sir if target takes no evasive action before wall of skill (ie, your torpedoes) hit.

Battleships/BB - Conventional

Examples:

  • IJN Battleship line, ending in Yamato,
  • USN Battleship line, ending in Montana,
  • Russian/Soviet Battleship line, ending in Kremlin,
  • UK Battleship line (to a lesser extent), ending in Conqueror.

Use relatively accurate long-range main battery of slow firing heavy weapons to deliver massive AP alpha strikes (via guns) over long range from open water. 

Primary targets are cruisers (from any angle), or broadside battleships.  

Shoot opportunistically at any spotted destroyers.  

Dont ever drive alone - lonely battleships are simply food for carriers, destroyers or island-camping cruisers. 

UK Battleships are stealthier so can be used more effectively from mid-range, and their HE is actually devastating so switch ammunition appropriately.  

DO NOT DRIVE BROADSIDE to a battleship, or else get a paddlin'.  

Kite the enemy ship by running and attempting to set fires/floods.  

Maintain vigilance on enemy rate of fire and their target to maximise chance of dodging incoming gunfire - if their target isnt you, farm the battleship for free damage (keep an eye out for other enemies shooting at you though). 

If a destroyer, take advantage of enemy ship's lack of stealth and agility to plan surprise torpedo attacks.  Remember to say 'bye' in global chat like a Sir if target takes no evasive action before wall of skill (ie, your torpedoes) hit.

Aircraft Carrier/CV

Examples:

  • USN Carrier line, ending in Midway,
  • IJN Carrier line, ending in Hakuryu
  • UK Carrier line, ending in Audacious

Use relatively fast strike aircraft to deliver repeated DoT attacks on lonely enemy ships, either destroyers (with rocket planes) or battleships (with dive and/or torpedo bombers). 

Early game, spot enemy fleet disposition and (particularly) location of enemy destroyers.  Later, support friendly light cruiser/gunboat DD attacks on enemy capital ships by prioritising targets that have recently used DCP and/or forcing ships to use DCP when they dont have hard cover easily accessible making them vulnerable to your team's light cruisers/gunboat DDs. 

Avoid cruisers with Def AA whenever possible.  Avoid attacking groups of ships with shared AA bubbles whenever possible (though spotting is valid).

Stay alive through paranoid map awareness and good positioning behind hard cover, but not too far away from main fight to reduce flight transit times to your targets.

Do not ever be alone.  Use teamwork to share AA by driving within friendly ship's AA bubbles (usually about 4-5km).  

Although less likely to prevent the first attack, repeated plane losses will deter further attacks and will ultimately degrade performance of enemy carrier to benefit of the entire team.  

Dodge dropped ordinance by extreme manoeuvre, effective for all ship types to at least a reasonable degree.  Proper management of DCP and Repair Party.  

Before battle, set up your ship and captain to strengthen AA and/or resist fire damage; mount flags. 

 

Footnotes:

  1. German DDs are a lot closer to a hybrid torpedoboat/gunboat than this suggests; however, I found much greater success playing them like a torpedoboat with guns rather than a gunboat with torps. 
  2. Whilst USN DDs are all capable gunboats, T10 Gearing and T9 Fletcher (in particular) can be optimised as torpedoboats with guns, which many players prefer.  
  3. Whilst the USN heavy cruiser line generally can be played like this,  particularly in mid-tiers, at higher tiers it is better to play them like USN light cruisers with harder hitting guns -  the T10 Des Moines must be played like a USN light cruiser; a DM in open water will just die.  
Edited by UltimateNewbie
More examples...
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As I mentioned above, if you are a new player and are looking for a suggestion for which nation/type to play, I suggest the below as relatively forgiving, fun and provide a good basis to understand the type: 

  • Destroyers: American destroyers are the easiest to play - their fast firing guns, and torpedoes on both sides (at low tier) means that its a fast, fun run-and-gun style, with great smoke screens.  They are very forgiving - rush in, gun enemy destroyers, and if you win and live, then rush up to a battleship and shove him up with short-range torps... once you get more experience, you can do all of those things better, faster, longer etc. 
  • Cruisers: French cruisers are probably the easiest to play at low-mid tiers. Load HE, shoot slow targets at near your max range to set them on fire - when they repair those fires, set more.  Dodge incoming shells (particularly from battleships) by slamming into full reverse and throwing the rudder over into a hard turn - then accelerate away again before the next salvo comes.  Use your long-range torpedos to shoot down narrow alleys where the enemy is coming from - sometimes you'll get a hit, and it'll be great. More fires!
    • DO NOT start on the British Cruiser line - these ships take detailed understanding and experience of the game mechanics in order to play; things like target selection, map positioning, map awareness, spotting mechanics, AP bounce and shatter mechanics, smoke screens, fire detection range in smoke, sonar, and torpedo aim all to be functional. Experienced players even struggle with this line.  Steer clear.  
  • Battleships
    • British: These are sturdy battleships that have excellent HE direct damage and high fire chance - unlike most battleships, shooting HE at things will make them go boom. Because of that, and because they have decent armour protection generally, these battleships are easy to learn: aim well, and profit. 
    • German: Much stronger armour, but wonky/inaccurate main guns - you'll mostly be shooting AP shells at enemy battleships and cruisers.  However, your battleships have good to excellent secondary battery (particularly from Tier 7) and are a defining feature of the line.  Because they are meant to be played up close to the enemy, these ships are easier to aim, take solid damage, and encourage your team to push the capture point you're currently on, helping to win games. 
  • Aircraft carriers: Personally, I suggest avoiding them entirely for now - they are very different to play and hard to do well at.  They are currently undergoing a major re-work (moving from a 2D RTS style control interface into controlling only one squadron at a time in the 3D environment view you know from playing other ships).  Until the re-work settles down, and community contributors can make specialised content to help new players approach carrier play, I suggest learning the other ships first.  There will be plenty of time to come back to carriers later.  

Once you have a few more battles under your belt, I strongly encourage you to read the following: 

Edited by UltimateNewbie
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39 minutes ago, UltimateNewbie said:

 Use teamwork (such as friendly destroyers, cruisers or carrier planes) to spot enemy DDs or torpedoes before they hit you.

Planes don't spot torpedoes anymore...might wanna clarify that so new players don't get confused.

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2 minutes ago, IfYouSeeKhaos said:

Planes don't spot torpedoes anymore...might wanna clarify that so new players don't get confused.

Fair point, I was thinking about the planes spotting the DDs (and thus you know where the torps will be coming from), but I'll have a go at clarifying that point.  

Thanks!

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I would argue that Royal Navy Battleships are a poor first choice of BB because they encourage habits that do not translate well to other nations (namely HE spam with 1/4 HE penetration).

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23 minutes ago, WuYixiang said:

I would argue that Royal Navy Battleships are a poor first choice of BB because they encourage habits that do not translate well to other nations (namely HE spam with 1/4 HE penetration).

I understand your point, but RN Battleships have the major advantage that new players dont need to fret about ammunition choice whilst they are still learning so much more about the game - whether its the maps, where to go, how to even accurately aim etc.  A pretty easy way to lose new players is through their guns doing no damage (eg, an AP bounce) whilst the enemy seems to be able to do massive damage to them (eg, AP citadel through the broadside).  At least with RN battleships, shooting HE isnt irrational and will still do material damage to enemy ships (and set fires).  They can learn the benefits of AP with other battleship lines as  they become a bit more experienced.  

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I like how basically all of the counterplays boil down to "don't drive in straight lines, dumb-aft"

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3 minutes ago, Lert said:

I like how basically all of the counterplays boil down to "don't drive in straight lines, dumb-aft"

Haha. Well, it sounds like pretty good generic advice! 

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10 hours ago, steelranger1 said:

Wha's the meaning of this phrase?

Ah, good question. Not sure if there is an official definition, but in effect it’s an aggressive form of running away, typically done by a fast ship (eg, a cruiser) to a slower (but more powerful) ship, like a battleship.  

The idea is to maintain your distance to a more powerful enemy that is chasing you. This has two main advantages: typically, this means they can only use their front guns instead of a full broadside (as turning to use their full broadside would slow them down too much letting you run away) but you may be able to shoot back with all your guns if you are faster and more manoeuvrable. In addition, ships (but particularly battleships) are less accurate at range. 

Furthermore, Turning at the right time may throw off their aim; turning at the wrong time gives them a bigger target to shoot at and you are more likely to eat catastrophic damage. There is some skill required to kite well. It also helps if you can coordinate your kiting with your team, which can help you decide which way to run.

In addition, kiting increases the effective range of your torpedoes as the enemy is driving towards you. 

Finally, sometimes it only delays the inevitable: the more powerful ship will generally still win. But, you may drag them out of position, they may drive broadside to your team making them easier to kill, you may be able to set more fires etc before you die which helps you kill a superior ship with more HP, etc. If the range grows beyond your detection range, you can stop firing and the enemy can’t see you anymore - but they still might try to chase you.

Essentially, kiting gives you a chance to live and it improves your team’s chance of winning. 

Hope that helps. 

Edited by UltimateNewbie
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10 hours ago, steelranger1 said:

Wha's the meaning of this phrase?

Further to my other post on kiting, consider a scenario.  You are in an Omaha (T5 USN light cruiser) and your opponent is in a New York (T5 USN Battleship), and assume both players still have teammates still alive.  

  • If you are detected at 11+km away from the New York, you can run and kite him as I described above.  Start running, but keep cycling your fast firing guns to set fires, tax his damage control parties, and burn him to the waterline.  If he chases, his max speed is 22kt and yours is 30kt+, and he can only use his front four guns (instead of all 10 of a broadside).  He will try to shoot back, but you are unlikely to take significant damage if you dodge effectively, and so you preserve your HP for use against other enemy ships later (preserving HP whilst killing the enemy typically results in winning battles).  
    • But, I suggest you pay close attention to where the NY's guns are pointed before turning - if they are pointed at you, wait until he has fired before turning as otherwise you'll give him your broadside and he could kill you in 1 shot.  
    • If the New York is intensely firing at your teammates, then only 'run' at 1/4 or 1/2 speed (unless someone else is shooting at you, of course), as staying at medium range means that you'll land more hits whilst not taking more risk.  
  • If you are detected at 8km away from the New York, you have some difficult decisions to make. 
    • If you have island cover, then go and hide behind an island and shoot as you go - you are trying to set up a close range suicide attack on him using your sonar (to see around the island) and your torpedoes (for the alpha strike).  
    • If you do not have island cover, then you need to immeditely decide if the New York is aiming at you and is about to shoot, or if they are focused on someone else. 
      • If they are pointed at someone else, you have the opportunity to run and kite them.  But you also have the opportunity to close to use your torpedoes.  
      • If the New York is pointed at you, then turning to kite will probably result in your death.  But charging into torpedo range you will probably still die, as he'll have 1 minute to make two full broadside salvos into you.  Sometimes, life's tough. 
  • If you are detected at less than 4km away, then just use your torps and dont try to run and kite.  If you have a good opportunity, see if you can turn to send both sets of torps into him (from each side).  Still, if his guns are ready you can still die from 1 salvo.  

Perhaps that gives some context to my comments above.  

 

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Some edits to the original posts, including: 

  • To place the French DD line;
  • To place the UK Battleship line, which I somehow overlooked previously;
  • To add the USS Georgia; 
  • Further edits to clarify that the right hand side column is how to play against the ship type
  • Other edits to clarify what I meant.  

I hope this continues to be a helpful resource for people. 

 

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On 4/22/2019 at 5:59 AM, UltimateNewbie said:

Haha. Well, it sounds like pretty good generic advice! 

Rule number 1 lol

 

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On 4/1/2019 at 6:01 PM, UltimateNewbie said:

Whilst USN DDs are all capable gunboats, T10 Gearing and T9 Fletcher (in particular) can be optimised as torpedoboats with guns, which many players prefer.  

What about no? They were never 'capable gunboats', they always were multi-role DDs that can fulfill many functions, but don't particularly excel in any. You can't seriously consider something to be a gunboat when with their infamous 127/50 guns it's a struggle to hit an enemy DD at ranges past 7km and struggle to hit _anything_ past 10km. In addition to poor ballistics they also have Le Terrible fire chance so they're even not very likely to get more than one fire tick on a BB without the help of the team.

 

Edited by geser98

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2 hours ago, geser98 said:

What about no? They were never 'capable gunboats', they always were multi-role DDs that can fulfill many functions, but don't particularly excel in any. You can't seriously consider something to be a gunboat when with their infamous 127/50 guns it's a struggle to hit an enemy DD at ranges past 7km and struggle to hit _anything_ past 10km. In addition to poor ballistics they also have Le Terrible fire chance so they're even not very likely to get more than one fire tick on a BB without the help of the team.

 

Hi. Your experience with them might be different, but since the games start they have been very effective cap contesters using their guns. Sure, they weren’t great at open water stealth firing, or even long range pew pew like Soviet (or French) DDs, but in general, the USN DD line incl the T9 and T10 fits better in the gunboat column. Just at shorter range. 

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20 minutes ago, UltimateNewbie said:

Hi. Your experience with them might be different, but since the games start they have been very effective cap contesters using their guns. Sure, they weren’t great at open water stealth firing, or even long range pew pew like Soviet (or French) DDs, but in general, the USN DD line incl the T9 and T10 fits better in the gunboat column. Just at shorter range.

Why not have a 'multi-role DD' category? Because ships like USN DDs, Udaloi, Groz and some of RN/PA destroyers should in reality do all of the main functions of a DD, but will lose in contest with more specialized ships.

With recent buffs Gearing for example becomes more and more of a torpedo boat. In fact out of T10 destroyers she can in a one-on-one scenario out-trade: Shimakaze (but only at very close ranges), same with Groz and Khaba and Z-52 if she doesn't have hydro ready. Yet all of these ships (except Z-52) will eat Gearing alive at 7 km range and up. And Z-52 will eat her alive with hydro or if Gearing shows broadside.

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8 minutes ago, geser98 said:

Why not have a 'multi-role DD' category

For a few reasons. Originally I was going to have only one box per type (DD, CL, BB etc) but that wasn’t practical. The object and purpose of this guide was to bring order to chaos, to make it faster for newer players to recognise patterns whilst not overburdening them with a thousand exceptions. And I applied it at a ‘line’ level, not at a ship level unless there was a major aboration like the Massachusetts.

I still think that USN DDs from T2 to T8 at least, and the T9 and T10 can be optimised this way, as cap contesting knife fighters and aren’t really true torpedoboats.

If anything, the most marginal example above is USN CAs that could probably be moved to the USN CL line. 

If this was done at the ship level, there would be a proliferation of examples and exceptions that would be too complex for a newer player to rearm and retain. Sure, it could be more accurate at the margins, but if that marginal accuracy results in no one using it, then it’s not helpful. 

And PA DDs are all over the shop - some even wouldn’t fit in the multi role as they are Soviet or British copies, some are USN etc. 

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