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mingtendo

Ammunition Rework

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Introduction

In WoWs, there are roughly 5 different ammunition types, depending on how you count them. These types can be separated into artillery, which every surface ship has (I will not be dealing with CVs in this post), and torpedoes. However, I think that WoWs should open up the idea of equipping more than 2 artillery shell types at a time.

There are 3 shell types in WoWs at the time of this post. Armor Piercing (AP), High Explosive (HE), and Semi-Armor Piercing (SAP); these make up 3 of the 5 currently available ammunition types. Almost all ships have access to only 2 of of these (British light cruisers being the clear exception), and of those ships, almost all of them have access to HE and AP shells (Italian cruisers being the clear exception with SAP instead of HE). I think that given the amount of HE-spam, and rather "stale" selection of types of shells, it's about time we had an ammunition rework. This rework will consider three things: allowing ships to equip 3 shell types, introducing new shell types, and making all shell types available to all ships.

A Third (or Fourth!) Shell Slot

Even though there are 3 different shell types in this game, most ships have only 2, and one of them is considered a "special feature" or "gimmick" of the Italian heavy cruiser line. I think this should be changed: this will allow captains more control over how they specialize their ships. One of the common arguments against more than 2 shell types is that it "keeps the game simple"; yet, this amount of customization is apparent in every other aspect of the ship except for ammunition. For instance, captain skills, upgrades, and even to some extent, consumables can be swapped out for something different for a different play style (lots of heavy cruisers have more consumables available to them than there are slots; Des Moines for example can pick between Radar, Spotter, or Fighter in one slot alone). This won't necessarily complicate the game more than it is to pick out what kind of torpedoes you want to use on ships that have multiple torpedo options. Even without introducing any new shell types, the existing shell types cover a broad range of use cases that should be made available to all ships. Let's examine these below.

  • Armor Piercing: highly useful against broadside ships, and the defacto standard for battleships. AP shells can deal the most raw damage (per shell) of any other shell type in the game and can cause nearly irreparable damage if they deal citadel damage or a hit to the citadel. However, they can ricochet if the target is angled properly, and can cause overpenetrations if the target's armor is not thick enough; these shells are only good against heavily armored ships. Additionally, British light cruisers have no option other than to use this ammunition type.
  • High Explosive: the defacto standard for cruisers and destroyers. They can deal decent damage and can damage or destroy smaller modules, most notably AA guns. They also have the ability to set fires, even if they do not penetrate armor and cause damage. This is the primary way for ships to deal damage when they cannot penetrate armor: by attempting to set fires or hopefully hitting a ship's thinly armored superstructure. 
  • Semi-Armor Piercing: the HE replacement on Italian cruisers. They can deal very good damage against light armor, but cannot set fires, and have chances to ricochet. Therefore, SAP is a very well rounded ammunition type as it can be used against all ships with a high degree of effectiveness without requiring them to have as good an angle. Note that only Italian cruisers can use this ammunition type.

There are many ships that could see the potential of being able to use one ammunition type instead of another. Destroyers may wish to use SAP to quickly dispatch an enemy destroyer, then switch to HE to light a cruiser on fire. Cruisers may choose to use HE to set a BB on fire, then quickly whittle them down with AP while they turn broadside, and then switch to SAP to deal more damage to an exposed aft. Battleships may find themselves using AP to slug out an opposing battleship, but may find that their AP is not quite effective against a light cruiser at close ranges and may choose to switch to SAP instead. Although there may be a lot of emphasis on the use of SAP in these examples, but keep in mind that SAP is the only new shell type that the game has received since its inception. Furthermore, this will also allow British light cruisers to have access to HE shells, which Wargaming deemed to be overpowered at one point and therefore is why they have only one shell type. Of course, adding new shells to every ship in the game would have enormous consequences on the balance of the game, but the shells can be balanced around the ship and her play-style. For instance, the Italian heavy cruiser's new flavor can be that they have high SAP alpha compared to her peers, in the same way that Japanese heavy cruiser's flavor is that they have high HE alpha compared to their peers. Some ships which may have a high rate of fire will have their SAP shells balanced accordingly so that they are not too effective by reducing initial shell velocity, increasing air resistance, decreasing SAP alpha, or changing SAP penetration parameters, etc. 

In short, allowing a third artillery slot may allow ships to have different tactics in certain situations. With exactly 3 shell types in the game, it may seem like all ships will now have access to SAP, but this is because there are not yet more than 3 shell types for which commanders must pick and choose between. 

New Shell Types

Immediately, the elephant in the room should be addressed: HE spam. The immediate idea is perhaps to "split" HE shells into two shell types: high explosive (HE) and incendiary (IN). In this rework of the original HE shells (which will be referred to as OGHE), the new HE shells will retain their signature of causing decent damage without chance of ricochet, but will not be able to cause fires. This should address the issue where light cruisers (with a couple very notable examples) would be able to cause a lot of damage and set multiple fires on battleships (although supercruisers like Stalingrad and Puerto Rico suffer from this kind of scenario as well). This is not to say that light cruisers will have their DPM nerfed; they will still be able to cause the same amount of damage, but they won't be able to deal additional damage easily by setting fires. This brings us to IN shells. These shells should deal very little damage; let's arbitrarily set it to 1/10th the damage that OGHE shells on that ship can deal (British light cruisers and Italian heavy cruisers will have 1/10th the alpha of their new HE shells, assuming that they will receive HE shells). These shells will now have a higher fire chance compared to OGHE shells (British and Italian cruisers will have new parameters balanced out for them) and like OGHE shells, can set fires even on if they shatter on armor. This is in addition to having no chances of ricochet and having worse armor penetration capabilities than their HE counterparts. This OGHE -> HE and IN split means that ships can no longer have their cake and eat it too as ships can either try to light a fire or deal decent damage against an unfavorably angled target, but not both at the same time. Additionally, the worse armor penetration ensures that even with IFHE, commanders cannot "recreate" the OGHE's effectiveness by increasing the armor penetration capabilities of their new fire-setting shells (even though they will already have significantly less alpha damage than their HE shells, and also damage the chances of setting fires significantly). 

In short, HE shells will have decent direct damage capabilities at the expense of poor indirect damage capabilities at all targets at any angle, while IN will have very poor direct damage capabilities but has very good indirect damage capabilities at all targets at any angle. While some may argue "why use IN at all when HE is clearly superior", HE shells require a ship to be constantly firing at their target, which may cause them to expose themselves unfavorably. Meanwhile, IN shells will be good for "fire and forget" where damage can be dealt to a target without the need for constant firing; they may be good for some more fragile ships or ships that rely on their stealth. (Lastly, incendiary shells have existed, so it is not entirely out of thin-air that I am pulling this concept from, for those of you who worry about the realism, although I cannot say if incendiary shells were ever actively used in naval artillery).

With that out of the way, I can begin to introduce some entirely new shell concepts. That said, for those of you who care about the "realism" and "historical value" in the game, it might be best to avoid this section, although I have not introduced anything in here that has not actually existed as real artillery as a whole (basically, some of these shell types may not have existed at all in naval artillery but may have in ground-based artillery or tanks).

  • Cluster Shells: (IRL) - These shells explode and disperse multiple smaller bombs or bomblets, dealing damage over a wide area. (IG) - They will operate much differently than the other existing shell types that I have described. These will explode in the air (this explosion deals 0 damage to ships) once they reach the distance at which the ship aimed at and drop bomblets over the dispersion ellipse, dealing HE damage (they cannot set fires). The main gimmick of this shell type is that its dispersion area allows the bomblets to hit multiple targets at once within an area. From a meta-game standpoint, this would be most useful for assaulting ships hiding in smoke, or clumps of ships in a small area (like in a control point), or down a narrow chokepoint (think Warrior's Path, Shards, Northern Islands, etc.). Because the bomblets would not be subject to normal shell dispersion (they will have their own dispersion, similar in mechanics to the ellipse that appears for carpet-bombers of British CVs), they can also be used to guess where an opposing ship might be. Each individual bomblet will not deal a lot of damage; in fact, their alpha will range in the hundreds, not thousands, but against large ships or clustered ships the damage can be quite substantial. The dispersion ellipse of the bomblets would be based upon where the ship was aimed when the shells were fired, and fall within that large circle. 
  • Smoke Shells: (IRL) - These shells were designed to mask movement of friendly troops or confuse enemy troops, or designate a target or destination. (IG) - There is a lot of potential here. The first idea that might come to mind is that it can be used to blind a ship briefly with smoke, but there are many more use cases, which I will list as types of smoke shells below. However, the common trait is that these shells do no damage and have no effect if they hit the water or shatter. These shells can also ricochet. These shells are designed more as a "team support" shell type to encourage teamplay, but also at an inherent level aid your team. 
    • Blinding Smoke Shells: These shells can be overpowered if not properly balanced. The idea is that once fired at an enemy, they will be encased in smoke. This obscures the view of the enemy from those that are firing at it for a short amount of time (~anywhere from 1-10 seconds), and therefore increases the dispersion of shells fired from the enemy. I want to make clear that the enemy can still physically see and lock onto ships that are firing at it, but the blinding effect will temporary decrease the accuracy of the main battery (torpedo tubes will not be affected). They will leave behind a yellowish colored smoke.
    • Incendiary Dust Shells: These shells explode and cover a target with highly flammable dust. The dust is quickly burned off (within 3-10 seconds) and thus the fire does not last as long. Although flammable, AP shells are the only shell types that cannot set the dust off. Multiple layers of dust can cake onto a ship, but will blow off the ship after a short period (2 seconds). Using Damage Control Party will remove all incendiary dust immediately, and makes puts the damage control crew on high alert for twice the duration of the consumable, making your ship dust-proof. Fires caused by the dust are bound to the same rules as fires from shells otherwise and can be damage-controlled and are subject to commander skills and upgrades that reduce fire durations with respect to the fire duration of the dust. The smoke will be a bright red-orange.
  • Carrier Shells: (IRL) - These shells were designed as sort of "high-speed" transport for anything that can fit inside the shell and withstand the shock of firing. (IG) One idea with these shells is that they may be used to slowly restore the health of a ship, including damage not normally recoverable by using Repair Party. Although it may seem silly to fire at teammates, this can be quite useful in prolonged engagements or for supporting teammates during downtime. Another idea is that this would be utilized not as a shell type by ships, but rather by carriers as a sort of "care package" for allied ships (this would also allow a carrier to heal itself if it so chooses), but then it would not be a shell type.

Shell Type Unification

Barring the ideas above, this would possibly be the easiest to implement, as it does not necessitate new shell types or the inclusion of new shell slot: only that all currently available shell types are available for all ships. While some may argue that this would ruin the Italian's ship identity, for the two most prominent shell types the characteristics of the shells is what makes every ship line different and it doesn't matter that they all share the same shell type. Prior to the introduction of Italian heavy cruisers, and barring the peculiarity that is British light cruisers, every ship has the same shell types available to them, yet they are all different to each other. German destroyers are known for the high efficiency of their AP, while their HE shells have very poor fire chances; Soviet cruisers have improved penetration of their AP shells with a very flat trajectory, which does not allow them to fire over tall obstacles; American destroyers have very floaty shells that allow firing over tall islands but hitting targets a long range is rather difficult. Making shell types exclusive to a ship line makes the shell type itself a gimmick and the game does not need further segmentation in its gimmicks (to the level of ammunition types). If that is the case, perhaps they should be excluded from the use of AP as well since we are artificially creating limitations of what ammunition types ships can use. This also brings me to British light cruisers, which do not have HE because Wargaming deemed it to be overpowered. However, with the introduction of ships like Worcester, A. Nevsky, Colbert, and Smolensk, this no longer seems to be the case, and British light cruisers should see a "return" of their HE shells. Perhaps the exclusion of SAP shells is due to how effective they are, and therefore the problem lies in the balance of the ammunition that is the problem (with respect to the rest of the ship, particularly the guns), in the same way the British light cruisers are excluded from using HE, the rest of the ships are excluded from using SAP.

Basically, I'd like to see shell types as universally usable in the sense that every ship has their own variant of that shell type. It means that British light cruisers and Italian heavy cruisers will get their own version of HE shells, while everyone else gets their own flavor of SAP shells. (This also means that given only two shell slots, players will have to choose between which shell types to take into battle, which will be interesting).

 

Conclusion

I am by no means the first to think of these things or present these ideas on here, nor do I think the implementation of any of this will be easy. But, I think it could lead to more diverse strategies, loadouts, and increase the amount of fun and teamplay in the game. Some of you might think that this is adding unnecessary complexity to a game with more than enough mechanics for an average player to handle, while others might think that some of these ideas improve balance or make the game more interesting. I'm just putting these ideas out here as a sort of thought experiment and to start some discussion. 

Edited by mingtendo
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Giving all ships access to SAP would really break things. Imagine Helena firing SAP at a DD. Single volley kills would be common. There was a balance  reason WG decided not to give some of the Brit CLs HE. Lots of other fire-spammers introduced since then tho. It would require re-balancing everything. Lots of unforeseen problems would arise.

Not sure how/why this would  increase the amount of teamplay and the fun might go down depending on your favorite ships.

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I would rather see a rework of how fires happen. First all shell types would be able to cause fires but at drastically reduced chance. Second fires would not burn for set periods but would have to be fought by the damage control teams with rolls to put them out every set number of seconds. Third fires would be able to cause critical hits which are checked for after a set period of time has passed and every additional time that set period has passed, ie secondary ready ammunition explodes destroying a secondary gun causing the damage needed to destroy the gun to the burning ships health pool. Additional fires beyond the oldest would either have minuses to their fire rolls or would not be fought. The damage control party instead of instantly putting the fire out would instead give a plus to the fire rolls increasing all that pass during the action period of it.

Fires would still be dangerous but would not be the weapon as they are now.

Flooding could be handled in a similar manner representing the time it takes to either stop the flooding or to contain it.

 

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Id definitely add FLARE shells for night battles, maybe a smoke type shell for a special ship that could deliver some sort of small smoke screen at a distance to save an ally, but certainly not a screen as lasting and large as the usual DD one.

 

As for SAP shells, just imagine the accurate battlecruisers with those. 300mm+ very fast very accurate at long range, not a very cool game for many after that. Or a DesMoines, like its raining hell.

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