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poeticmotion

The Noble Craftsman - Poetic's Albemarle Review

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Disclaimer: I am fairly average, skill wise, and definitely no unicum. Also, while I did consult numbers and stats, my reviews are primarily based on the feel of the ship and my performance in her. This is of course a limited sample size, and is affected by my playstyle (which is generally fairly aggressive leading to occasional overreaches and a low survival rate.) Your mileage may vary. PvP stats in Albemarle at time of review: 16 games, 10 wins, 63% win rate. 53K average damage. Best game in Albemarle: 4 kills, 100k damage.

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While I usually play up each line without skipping ships, I won Devonshire in a early access crate and then skipped Surrey straight to Albemarle when the patch dropped since you get a daily bonus for playing Albemarle (or London) during this event. I have not been disappointed in this decision, as Albemarle is my new favorite researchable mid-tier CA.

She's got a few quirks and she won't work for everyone. She's got a medium to high skill floor without a super high skill ceiling; she's a workman's ship, getting the job done without a ton of gimmicks or consumables or special tools. She's got short range and lofty shell arcs, and she's not nearly as nimble as her British CL cousins. Positioning and proactive movement are even more important in this ship than usual; she's stealthy, but when spotted in open water she doesn't have the speed or agility to dodge like CLs do, and her rmor scheme is trolly but hideously vulnerable to accurate fire. 

Offense

Gunnery: Citadels For Dayssssssss

These guns, y'all. I like them. 

She's got a 3x3 203mm main battery,  and her gunnery is solid. These guns are accurate, hard-hitting, and if you can anticipate opportunities and have the right ammo loaded, you'll be rewarded. She hammers broadsides of any tier at any range with AP. and her HE lights fires and delivers direct damage to angled targets with aplomb. Her reload is pedestrian, 13 seconds, which is a bit faster than Atago, Mogami, or Amalfi but at the tail end of the pack after Baltimore, Charles Martel, or Hipper.

Unlike her lower-tiered siblings, she's got competitive range, right in the middle of the t8 CA pack, and she includes a spotter plane. However, her shells are floaty enough that you really want to seek opportunities to engage more closely; she's no sniper. Her AP isn't the highest damage, but it penetrates easily and accurately; I've been hitting citadels much more consistently in her than I'm used to with tier 8 cruisers. And her HE is outstanding; she murders DDs quickly, lights fires on BBs every salvo, and delivers consistent direct damage. 

The 3x3 A-B-X layout is a nice step up from lower tiers and an advantage over Hipper or Atago; you can keep 6 of your guns on-target even while angling properly, and they rotate rapidly for a CL (22.5 sec/180-deg turn). I didn't have a problem out-turning my turrets, and was able to  switch sides with my guns quickly when I had to make a radical course change. 

The only downside of her guns is that her rear turret firing arc is  very limited, and she doesn't have the agility to wiggle, unmask, shoot, and wiggle back to angled in many situations. Early game, you're going to want to mostly use your front turrets except when you can isolate an opposing ship while limiting angles to return fire. Albemarle is fairly survivable, but does not forgive critical mistakes easily (more on that in the next section.) Her front turrets have better arcs than her rear turrets, making her able to keep 9 guns on target when kiting fairly well, but her limited speed and agility make kiting a dangerous game. 

Torpedoes

She's got a quad launcher on each side, and one nice touch is she's got 10km torps as opposed to the 8km torps on the lower tiers or her CL counterpart Edinburgh. They're the same torps found on Neptune or Minotaur; 62 knots, reasonable damage, and single-fire capability. And, just barely, you can stealthtorp with her; she's got a very narrow (.2km) window to torp from stealth. In practice, that's going to be hard to work with, but it works well with oncoming ships.

Her torps are excellent for kiting; 10km range means you can launch at ships 13-14km away chasing you and force a turn or flood them. I sank a Georgia this morning this way; my team had collapsed on one side and I was running away; dumped torps at a Georgia 13km away coming out of the cap, wiggled and dumped 4 more,  and he ran right into the second set. 

Vision

She's got standard cruiser hydro, but no radar. Still, when combined with good stealth (9.8km) and her wickedly effective HE, she hunts and kills DDs with aplomb. She doesn't have the speed to run down a DD in open water but she's a powerhouse in islands and using terrain for ambushes. Also, Albemarle doesn't require a deep capt build, so you can take RPF without crippling yourself elsewhere. Her good stealth also helps get her into position to ambush cruisers; her AP power and accuracy lends itself to patiently working into position and then announcing your presence with a 9-gun AP salute directly into a red cruiser's cit. 

Offense TLDR: This is a ship that rewards patience. She's an ambush predator, like French DDs were before the Kleber nerf but in a totally different way. Albemarle functions well for players that know when and where to push and have the fire discipline to stay dark until they have the right spot. Pop up, kill, then go dark, heal, and  stalk the next victim. 

Defense

Survivability: A floating citadel

The good news is that Albemarle's citadel has a decent HP pool (43800hp) and very good armor for a cruiser, with a stronk 152mm armor belt over her critical spaces and strong deck armor making her hard to pen with HE.

The bad news is her citadel is absolutely gigantic,  stretching from the front of the A turret to the back of the X turret, and with parts of it reaching almost up to deck height. It's very exposed, and with no turtleback or spaced armor features. If you show broadside to a BB and he gets a salvo off, you're done. And with 152mm of armor covering most of her sides, you're not going to bait overpens; AP fuses will arm, and she will get wrecked. 

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Now, it's not as bad as it sounds. She has the RN superheal; 20 second duration, 1 charge base but 3 with superintendent and premium consumable, and it cools down in 80 seconds. She can heal almost half her HP back with a single heal, including 50% of citadel damage.  However, with only 3 heals and a quick cooldown? You've got to manage your heals and DCP well, and know when to pull back or when to push. If you're too aggressive too early, or if you pop heals before you need them, you'll be out of heals 7 minutes into the game and be unable to contribure much late-game (that's if you don't just get devstriked for being too aggressive.)

The way this works in practice? Patient players who position well will find her the tankiest, most survivable CA at her tier. But she's very vulnerable to mistakes, and she's very prone to getting devstriked without a chance to use that great heal if you overangle. If you survive it, you can bounce back and be in good shape again. Also, with that quick cooldown, it's really tempting to use your heal too early and often, especially since when you take damage it tends to be in big chunks. It's a balancing act, but try to be patient with your heal and wait until you've taken enough damage to be worth burning a charge.

AA

She doesn't get a fighter consumable, but her AA feels comfortable at self-defense. She doesn't have the 'fleet support' long-range AA of USN ships but she's got enough to handle herself. Planes will get through, but  most of the time, a smart CV will get tired of losing planes quickly and pick an easier target. I was routinely the team leader in plane kills, even in t10 matches. Small smaple size and I saw mostly t8 CVs, but still, she's solid. 

Concealment and Agility 

Her combo of good (9.8km) concealment and good enough AA to push planes away unless the red CV is determined to kill you makes it easy to go dark when needed. But you won't outrun a DD keeping you spotted. This isn't a ship that can weave about in open water drawing enemy fire and dodging it; you bleed too much speed and you don't have much to spare. If you're trying to kite away from a strong red flanking force while your team is on the other side of the map, which is a valid tactic in French and many Russian cruisers, you're screwed if you're surrounded by open water. That's not to say you can't hold down the weak side; she excels at that so long as you have an exit strategy and terrain. 

Defense TLDR: Don't bait overpens because 152mm armor belt means you won't. Angle, save your heals for when you need them, don't be afraid to go dark, and don't try to open-water kite. Islands are your waifu. Stalk and kill, don't run-and-gun. 

Setting Up Your Albemarle

Captain skills

The good news is Albemarle doesn't require a deep or specific captain build to be effective.  I'm using the following: PT, Last Stand, Adrenaline Rush, Jack Of All Trades, Superintendent, Concealment Expert, RPF.

203mm guns don't really need IFHE and you don't need DE with a 17% chance already, especially when she's not a dedicated firestarter (I average about 50/50 to 60/40 split between HE and AP.) Her AA is also fine without speccing for it, unless you really hate planes. Concealment Expert is super useful to get your spotting range down to 9.8km (in conjunction with the slot 5 concealment mod.) RPF helps hunt down DDs or get into ambush positions. 

Upgrades

Pretty standard cruiser upgrades here. Slot 5 is concealment, slot 4 is steering gears to make her rudder shift passable, slot 3 is aiming systems mod for that dispersion buff, slot 2 is your pick (I run the damage control mod since I use last stand) , slot 1...I haven't detonated yet but if you want to save flags and hate detonating, pick the detonation mod...if not, main armaments mod is the way to go.

TLDR: Albemarle, The Noble Craftsman

Albemarle's not a flashy ship, She doesn't have overly fancy gimmicks; she doesn't spam HE in mass quantities or have fancy ammo or guns or smoke. There's no one thing she does insanely well, and no memeworthy attributes to make her a streamer's delight. She's a work pony, not a show pony. But as far as work boats go, she's one of the best.

She's the epitome of what a heavy cruiser should be: deadly to DDs and other cruisers, with enough tools to keep from being helpless against a BB but still at a distinct disadvantage. 

Strengths:

  • Gunnery: Both her ammo choices are solid. She can and will delete any same-tier or lower cruiser with two good or one great AP salvoes, and she can take huge chunks off DDs with her HE. And although she only gets off a salvo every 13 seconds (a little less with AR after taking some damage), 17% fire chance on HE means she lights her share of fires; with even decent RNG you'll light a fire every salvo or 2 on a BB.  Her floaty shell arcs at range take some adjustment, but I found her guns to be fairly accurate. A little derpy on occasion, but I think a lot of that was me adjusting to her ballistics when engaging angled or distant targets; when I had a shot at a broadside, she'd rarely let me down.
  • Resilience: No matter how careful you are, cruisers are fragile. You can angle against everyone you see, and then you get spotted by a DD and blapped by a BB halfway across the map. It happens. All you can do is mitigate that as best you can. Albemarle's got a citadel and armor scheme that's pretty much designed to get wrecked by broadside shots but be trollish when angled. You're going to eat devstrikes in her just like any cruiser, but her superheal is good enough that if you eat a bad salvo and survive it, you'll bounce back with enough hp to be a factor in the game. 
  • AA: She's got enough AA to make same-tier CVs pay for attacking her. They'll get through, but it's going to hurt. Even t10 CVs will lose some planes trying to punch through your aura. If a CV focuses you, you'll have a rough time, but you're generally able to look after yourself and deter repeated strikes. 

Weaknesses:

  • That citadel, yo: It's big, it's ugly, and it does not forgive mistakes. Albemarle will NOT perform for you if your positioning and angling game is weak. You will die badly if you show your side to an even half-decent player. 
  • She's not ready for this jelly: She does not have the baked-in agility buffs of British CLs. She handles competently with steering gears mod 1, but she doesn't have the speed to outrun pursuers or the agility to dodge shots. 
  • Map control: Her lack of speed and average range hurt her ability to flex across the map to react to the red team, and also renders her reasonably toothless in open-water weak-side flank play. She's best off using terrain to pop ambushes and supporting the flank of your team's push; you can absolutely play the weak side if you've got terrain and a good sense of where red ships are and where they're likely to go. 

The devs named this ship well;  the first Duke of Albemarle was a key figure in the Restoration and known for his pragmatic approach to both warfare and statesmanship. This is a similarly pragmatic boat, one that rewards skill but doesn't forgive mistakes. Her superheal is great but make no mistake; you will get devstruck without a chance to use her if you take foolish risks or YOLO. She has an armor scheme that rewards angling and punishes not angling even more than most; she'll bounce her share of AP but give a flat side and she's going to take multiple citadel hits. She's got great torps for area denial, or torping a smoke cloud, but not enough to rely on them as a primary weapon. Her AP and HE are both strong,, but proper ammo selection is key to getting the most out of her. Like her namesake, she simply does her job and does it well.

She can very quietly carry a mediocre team in the right hands, but she isn't going to have monster games. She can consistently pop off very good games. She can carry late-game with the right mix of opposing ships, but you don't want to be in a situation where you have to kill a smart BB to win as she can't kill them fast enough unless they derp and when spotted she's going to take hits. You'll see results like this fairly consistently once you learn to play her well.:

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I don't have the rest of the line yet, but Devonshire and Albemarle make me excited to play the rest of the line. If you want a ship that does its job, is balanced but strong, and rewards thoughtful and workmanlike play but punishes derpy mistakes, this is your cruiser. I hope you enjoy Albemarle as much as I do.

PVP stats in Albemarle at time of review: 16 games, 10 wins, 63% win rate. 53K average damage. Best game: 4 kills, 100k damage.

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A link to my previous reviews: 

Spoiler

 

 

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I have not had great success in the Albemarle. My main issue is that everyone seems to target that ship as soon as it is spotted, even shooting over closer targets. many times I will deliberately be at the back of the main force and still have 4 or 5 ships targeting me when I get spotted.  The super heal is good except once I start taking damage I rarely have time to use it as the volume of fire is too much. angling helps at close range but any plunging fire from the bigger guns just seems to drop straight through the ship.  Ill keep trying but either I'm playing it completely wrong or I've been hacked and there is a giant "shoot this guy now" banner floating above my ship

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Great review on the Albemarle , just got her recently in the early access !!! How bout 1 on the Tier VI Devonshire and Tier VI London !!! Wish they had done Norfolk or Suffolk , 2 of the most famous British heavy cruisers !!!

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I find her inconsistent and frustrating.  Fighting dds and cruiser is fun , but I full health explode way too often when a bb even sneezed near me, even with angles that would bounce in most other cruisers.  I cant say I'd keep her after the event, but I might struggle through to drake.

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I was very disappointed in Albemarle.  The only things she has that I would consider strengths are decent AA and the super heal.  Her HE is fair, will start some fires but is otherwise average.  AP is very situational and tends to be inconsistent.  Shell arcs are very floaty and I am pretty sure that penetration falls off sharply as the range increases.  Her acceleration is terrible, rudder shift and turning circle are average.  Her protection scheme is basically non-existent, as her plating can be overmatched by even 15" armed BBs.  She eats huge damage from every angle, often so much and so fast that the super heal struggles to keep her afloat.  If you are lucky enough to find a comfy island to park behind, you can abuse the island waifu gameplay but that is very map-dependent. 

To be fair, I felt that Surrey had many of the same issues; the primary differences being that Surrey has a much smaller citadel and lacks the super heal.  I have one game thus far in Drake, and if that is any indication it will be a much more pleasant experience than Albemarle.

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So far, not enjoying mine, It get citadeled by darn near anything that shoots at it from what feels like any angle. It can't even make for a good diversion as it dies to quickly. Superheal is nice, but I don't get to use it that often as again, it feels like every ap shell that hits you gets a citadel. guns have been absolute meh for me, good he, ap that does occasionally behave but for the most part the line just seems to be a skip. only bothering with the directives to try to get the commaneder.

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Nice review.

I enjoy my Albemarle.

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