Capn’s Cruiser Corner: The Duca d’Aosta–Italian Stallion or Macaroni Pony?

When the new premium Tier VI Italian cruiser, the Duca d’Aosta, was announced, I was very interested. The ship just looked cool–to the point where it was hard to tell the bow from the stern! As it went through super-testing, Wargaming chose to buff it quite a bit. The best thing, I thought, was the ability to mount both Defensive AA and Hydroacoustic at the same time. How many times have you, as a cruiser captain, agonized over which of those to choose before the battle starts? And regretted the decision? Certainly, Hydro is probably the safer choice given the scarcity of carriers, but when CVs appear you sure wish you’d chosen AA, particularly if they are targeting you! I was also intrigued by the top speed of the ship (36.5 knots) and the 12 km torpedoes. So I decided to buy it, depending of course on the price.

When the ship was released (April 21 on NA), and the price came in at a reasonable $24, I snapped it up. I used credits to upgrade all the slots (Main Armaments 1, Aiming 1, Damage 1, and Steering 2). I used free Captain XP to bump the captain up to 10 skills, choosing Priority Target, Adrenaline Rush, Demolition Expert, and Concealment. Usually I choose Expert Marksman for the 2nd skill, but I heard that the turret rotation was already pretty good, so I chose Adrenaline, a very useful skill when you take a lot of damage (as I am prone to do).

Okay, so I’ve played 30 games with the Duca since then. What have I learned? Well, one of the first things I did was bump up the captain to 14 skills, and took IFHE. I was finding that a large majority of my HE rounds were just shattering, no matter what the target. Sure, the fire damage was okay, but it was frustrating to hit the target and most of the time do little to no damage. With IFHE, most (but certainly not all) of the shots penetrate, and I still manage to start a few fires. The 152 mm AP rounds fly out at an amazing 1000 m/s, and HE is not far behind (950). That take some getting used to when aiming, and I’m not there yet. Despite the velocity, they just don’t seem to hit hard.

The torpedoes are comical. Sure, they have a 12 km range, but they are so slow (51 knots), and even if they have only a 1 km detection, everybody seems to spot them in time, or at least vary their speed and course over the time it would have taken to connect, even if they aren’t aware of them. In the first 30 games, I’ve sunk only two ships with torps. They must have been distracted by something else! Ironically, I was sunk once by Duca torps. I was distracted, and didn’t see them in time to react. There really is a only short reaction window, if you’re not expecting them.

The AA lights up the sky, especially when using the defensive fire, but doesn’t seem to accomplish much. I think the most I’ve shot down in a game is 5.

The secondaries, while not strong like some other ships, are actually somewhat effective, especially with the flag. Every little bit of damage helps, of course.

The Duca also has a scout plane, so that is three consumables. This is my first exposure to a scout plane, and while it does extend the artillery range from 14 to 16.8 km, I find it hard to place shots. For now, I think I would prefer a fighter.

The ship is fast! As stated, it clocks in at 36.5 knots without a speed flag (which are hard to get), and turns very nimbly. This is very useful for escaping back into invisibility, and for evading shots. With Concealment, the detection range is something like 10.3 km, which is decent. Despite having good turret rotation, you can readily out-turn your turrets. As soon as I earn the next two captain levels, I will slap Expert Marksman on and see if that helps.

Here are the ship ratings (14 point captain):

  • Survivability: 39
  • Artillery: 48
  • Torpedoes: 16
  • AA: 30
  • Maneuverability: 80
  • Concealment: 68

The gun reload time is 7.5 seconds, and the torpedo rearm time is 71 seconds.

So how does the above compare to other light cruisers at Tier VI? I really don’t have any other Tier 6 cruisers, only the Aoba, which of course is considered a heavy cruiser. Would you want to take this ship into a knife fight with a Cleveland? Actually my experience doing that has not been completely disastrous, but certainly stressful (in an enjoyable way).

Here are some stats from the first 30 games:

  • Win Rate: 47%
  • Average XP: 1020
  • Average Damage: 26834
  • Destruction Ratio: 1.85
  • Battles Survived: 17
  • Average Potential Damage: 494319

So which is it, stallion or pony? A little of both. Fast like a stallion, but with a weak “kick” like a pony. I think if Wargaming wants it to be competitive, it needs to buff the gun damage output. And I think I’d rather have shorter range but faster and stronger torpedoes. The ship speed is great, but I see that the Tier V French Cruiser Emile Bertin is going to get buffed to 39 knots, so there goes some of the “uniqueness” you expect from premium ships. I’m not sorry I bought it, as it’s fun, but it really doesn’t offer the “uniqueness” that, say, the Atlanta offers.

I’ll keep playing it, especially while the campaign is running that gives you an additional 100% to captain experience, just for showing up in each game. I expect that some day there will be a full line of Italian ships, so having a fully-trained captain would be good. That may be reason enough to buy this ship, especially given the low price, and you can’t forget the premium credits and low expenses you enjoy.

All for now,

Capn_Will

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