State of the Game

I will try to cover what I feel is the current state of the game based on not only my own observations but the observations of others. I will be covering balance issues, recent and pending changes to ships and mechanics as well as hopeful changes in the future. I will try and keep it as concise as possible. As always, I will discuss individual things as I see fit and give my conclusion at the end.

The current state of the game leaves room for desire no doubt. With the recent addition of the RN Battleship line, the smoke changes occurring at the publishing of this article and the exclusion of carriers in clan battles, we have a few things to talk about. So let’s start with the most recent changes, smoke.

Smoke Spotting

In the latest patch that went live today, the spotting mechanics while shooting within smoke have changed quite a bit. Now, instead of firing with impunity, a 0km spotting range, your ship class determines your spotting range. For a generalized overview of the spotting changes here are the base values: 2.5km for destroyers, 5.9km for cruisers, and 13.6km for battleships. If you wish to see the values for a specific ship, please visit http://wiki.wargaming.net/en/Ship:Update_0.6.12. Though this won’t realistically fix the issues of little fire starters spewing brimstone onto your ships, but it will help with the napalm throwers and surprise broadsides of a big battleship hiding in the mist.

Conqueror OP?

There have been numerous, and videos, discussing whether or not the Conqueror is over powered and whether or not and how it should be nerf. Flamu made a video that was more of a rant while demonstrating a particular game that went well for him and poorly for a Montana, a bad example in my opinion. While both Notser and NoZoup (vid 1 & vid 2) made far more constructive videos discussing the stats that have been release by WarGaming. By the numbers the Conqueror is averaging about 8,688 dmg per minute while the next highest damage dealer, the Montana, is averaging about 8,205 dmg per minute. For other comparison the Yamato comes in at 8,333 and the G.K. comes in at 8,104. The overall average is 8,332.5. The difference between the Conqueror’s mean and the overall mean would be considered significant. However, when you consider that a single salvo on a G.K., for instant, doing about 8,000 damage and causing 1 fire, when left to burn for 45 sec, that one fire has negated any damage difference (about 12,300 dmg in fire damage)  between the Conqueror and the next highest ship. In reality, if the Montana, for instance, were to fire HE, she would likely outperform the Conqueror in overall average damage as a result of her better accuracy balancing the fire chance difference (48% vs 36% base). Further, due to the damage farming capabilities for the Conqueror and her concealment, most players play her more passively. Though damaging ships is nice, it does relatively little to help in the win when most of that fire damage can been healed by all tier 10 battleships and cruisers. So in conclusion, she needs some tweaks, and what appears to be coming does seem reasonable but will just increase passive play. She is fairly balanced in my opinion compared to the others in raw gun damage; it’s that flame throwing that sets her aside from the rest. If that’s the gripe everyone has (and it is mine), I would make the 457mm guns more accurate and nerf their fire chance, making them more viable as a gun option, and further nerf the fire chance of the 419mm. The RN HE shells already get increased pen, the significantly increased chance of fire is the problem, not the heal or concealment.

Gimmicky Ships

WarGaming has started a habit of introducing more and more gimmicky ships while doing very little to existing ships and mechanics. The RN cruiser line had great heals, smoke and fast reloads while only shooting SAP ammo (labeled AP in game), the KM destroyers had fast reloading, though low damage torps with great guns and hydro, the KM battleships have turtleback armor, making them very hard to citadel at close range and the high tiers have hydro and finally the RN battleships have below-waterline citadels, high penetrating and fire chance HE shells and the top tiers have outstanding concealment and heals. Meanwhile, existing lines have been relatively untouched in how they fit into the meta or even their own niche. An example is the Montana and Iowa, both have best in class, at tier AA protection, but they can’t even effectively protect themselves against tier 9 or 10 CV attacks, relying on cruisers, or even destroyers to help them. This prevents them from performing their primary tasks, if they were to actually do so. If we were to stick with gimmicky, give them defensive AA as an example, let them protect themselves as well as other battleships, ships that are moving closer to them anyways. Further, the Yamato, though it has the monster guns that pen anything, buffing its secondaries to be better, at least in some aspects, than the G.K., would give it the boost that it needs or buffing either its reload or turret traverse. With its very vulnerable citadel, it stands little to no chance against other BB’s in close combat. Those are just 2 easy examples, but the tide of balance is slowly tipping away from the original ships and that is saddening.

Battleship AP vs. Destroyers

Lots of destroyer players complain about battleship AP and how is does so much damage to them when it actually sticks. My thoughts on this matter – good. A destroyer can get within 6km or less, launch torpedoes and a BB will have little chance to avoid them, especially if the BB is broadside. Early game, especially at higher tiers, this is inexcusable. However, late game, as a DD as worked its way around the flank and ships capable of spotting the BB’s are everywhere, it’s hard to determine if there is a sneaky DD sending death fish in your direction. So, since a battleship has far longer reloads than a cruiser (the ‘natural’ counter to a destroyer) more damage should be expected. Further, destroyers have no citadels and are so lightly armored that offering a broadside only equates to overpens and considering while broadside you can launch torpedoes, that’s not a bad trade off for them. As for the battleships, if a destroyer is gutsy enough to close to 8km or less, gets detected and gives you their bow or an angle, that’s the same as telling a BB not to sail in straight lines. Shame on them, don’t punish or even fault the battleship for defending itself.

Carrier Menace

Carriers, when they show up in game, are a huge force multiplier. In their current state – both strike power and learning curve, paired with the current meta , a good carrier player can and often does determine the outcome of any particular battle. A competent captain in a high tier carrier, for example, can outright devastate any ship in the battle with a single strike or strategically whittle them down with either flooding or fire and their target may have done nothing wrong except take a ship with low AA. This is a clear balance issue and is probably why they are not in clan battles. Is this unfair to the competent carrier players who play that class almost solely, sure, but for every good carrier player, there are probably 5 that they could wipe the floor with. With carriers further being as powerful as they are to begin with, that can make for a very one sided battle, as I so often see in randoms when one CV player is that much better than the other (usually the enemy being better than the friendly – so it seems). They need to continue to be reworked by either outright nerfing them, or finding a better and easier  way to play them in battle – even the playing field a bit more so to speak. Even in making them easier to play, there will always be those players who are better than others, but now it will be more of a knowledge measure as opposed to an outright capabilities measure.

Conclusion

In the games current state, there are certainly ships and mechanics that need to be tweaked and many for good reason. However, there are a number of issues that people find with the game that have everything to do with the current meta and or the play style of the individual players. As an example, I personally don’t do well in the Conqueror. I don’t like sitting back and farming damage but would rather get into the fray and make a difference. The result of this, due to the new nature of the ship and stigma as a very big threat, I quickly get focused being closer to the battle and thus removed. Though I do less damage than I should or would like (still doing slightly better than the server average however), I take out important ships, destroyers and cruisers and even get into caps. My aggressive play style tends to get me in trouble with other ships as well; the Conqueror is not special in that respect. Players will always take risks, sometimes poorly calculated ones, that will cause griping about a ship or other mechanic in the game but that is what it is. Radar and hydro as examples, they have been the counter to smoke and island camping and for the players that use them, love them, but they are not fun when you are on the receiving end. They are the balance to the destroyer’s concealment, particularly when CV’s are so few and smoke is so common. Overall, the game is in a good state, with nothing terrible broken but many aspects being far from perfect. Future development however, should stray away from gimmicky ships and keep the uniqueness of a ship, or line, within the confines of other same class ships. Sure, tweak guns, armor layout, ship speed/maneuverability and perhaps some aspects of a consumable, trading one part for another, but drastic differences need to stop. Stop the power creep and fix what’s bugged before adding new things. With all that said, the game has benchmarks for improvement and for development as well as things that should remain as is. Hopefully the developers can separate the wheat from the chafe when it comes it actual issues and just plain old whining and move the game in the right direction.

Absence and Updates

Good morning all,

My apologies for not having any new articles for you to read. Things have been very busy and I have not had the time to sit down and write anything new but I’m hoping to change that very soon. I plan on putting out more reviews and guides as I am able as well as opinions and editorials about the game and its current, upcoming and hopeful state. Any (constructive) suggestions from the community are welcomed and I’ll try my best to fulfill then. Finally, I’m considering moving forward and starting my own blog outside of this one. If, and when, I start to do so I will be double posting until I’m comfortable with the traffic flow as well as to keep the once great WoWReplays alive. Send feedback and suggestions for a site name if that’s where you’d like to see this go.

The Conqueror: Live Review

To preface this review, I apologize for have no recent content. Life has been very busy and has prevented me from releasing the type of content I wish to release at the standard that I hold myself to. So without further nonsense here we go!

With the latest patch, the new Royal Navy battleship line has arrived and is available to the rest of us. I have been hoarding my free XP for just this ship and am glad I did. She is a joy to play, but does have some issues and I will highlight those later on in my review. To start, I will go over the specifics of the ship.

Ship Overview

Armaments

The Conqueror has 2 main battery choices, a set of 12, 419mm guns with an AP alpha strike of 156,000 (12×13,000) and 8, 457mm[1] guns with an AP alpha strike of 119,200 (8×14,900)[2]. Her HE fire chance on the 419mm guns is 48% while the 457mm guns offer a 63% chance of setting fire. The shell velocity of both guns is relatively slow, with all below 800 m/s, making here shells the slowest overall compared to the other tier X battleships. However, similar to her German counterpart, her HE penetration is equal to one quarter the shell caliber, compared to the 1/6th that other battleships offer. This has been carried through the entire RN line. The secondaries on this ship are nothing to write home about and are the worst of the top tier battleships. On the other hand, the AA capabilities of this ship, while at full health, can rival that of the Montana, particularly at medium range (between 2.01 and 3.51km; 527.2 dps vs 318 dps).

Survivability

HMS Conqueror has the lowest health pool of all the tier 10 ships with 82,900 hit points and has the second lowest belt armor values at 406mm. However, the excellent heal that this ship gets more than makes up for. Capable of restoring 1,989 hp per second for 20 seconds, you could, in theory restore a total of 159,120 hp if all you sustained was fire damage (unlikely I know) if you ran with Superintendent, the India Delta flag and the premium repair party. Further, the low sitting citadel makes the ship hold up well in medium to close range engagements, particularly if you are caught off guard.

Concealment

This ship totes the best in class concealment at 11.1 km by sea and 12.1 km by air with camouflage, Concealment Expert and the Concealment module. This surpasses the detectability of even some cruisers allowing you to get the drop on them and unleash a full broadside into them as they attempt to scurry away.

Pros

  • Best detectability by far, allowing for excellent, cruiser level ninja attacks on unsuspecting Battleships and certain cruisers
  • An insane, almost OP level of repair. Though this is balanced will in my opinion by the armor level and low HP pool
  • Good maneuverability, even for a battleship
  • Excellent overall DPM. Likely the highest of all this ships since HE is strongly recommended when fires are included

Cons

  • Lowest [sensible][3] AP alpha strike.
  • Lack luster AP capabilities (the 419mm have been nerfed and their penetration, even against a broadside battleship is less than optimal in my opinion, and the 457mm are just barely too small to cross the overmatch threshold.)
  • Slow shell velocity means increased flight time and difficulty hitting faster targets at a distance
  • You’re a big target (especially right after release)

Loadout

The WoWs Wiki offers a decent configuration setup here (http://wiki.wargaming.net/en/Ship:Conqueror) but my current setup is as follows:

Upgrades

Slot 1: Main Armaments Modification 1
Slot 2: Aiming Systems Modification 1
Slot 3: Main Battery Modification 3
Slot 4: Damage Control System Modification 1
Slot 5: Steering Gears Modification 2
Slot 6: Concealment System Modification 1

If CV’s become more of an issue, I may swap out Slot 2 and 3 with the AA Gun Modifications but I don’t see that being a problem just yet.

Commander Skills

Tier 1: Priority Target and Expert Loader (Since HE is such a great option on this ship, switching ammo type quickly without giving your position away by firing is nice)
Tier 2: Expert Marksman, Adrenaline Rush, and Jack of All Trades (I might get rid of Jack of All Trades and Adrenaline Rush once the thrill killing has subsided and trade those 4 points for AFT to destroy planes)
Tier 3: Superintendent
Tier 4: Fire Prevention and Concealment Expert

Camouflage

Basically, make sure you always run it, especially if it offers both dispersion penalties to the enemy and concealment to you.

Final Thoughts

Overall, she is a very solid ship so far. Even though I don’t have too many games in her, I have yet to have a game where I’ve done less than 120k damage. However, I am not a fan of having two main armament choices where one is clearly better than the other. Though most of the advantages run with the 419mm guns, which I strongly recommend, the AP capabilities leave room for improvement. With the sigma nerf and normalization nerf, the use of the AP rounds on the 419mm guns is suffering. Nerfing both was a bit much in my opinion thus far and if they buff either back to the 6.10 release, I would probably be quite content. As for the 457mm guns, I have yet to play much with them. I’m still getting used to the 419mm with their slower shell velocity and maybe that will help with changing my opinions on their AP rounds but once I get a good handle with them I’ll try the 457mm guns for giggles. Just looking at the stats though, I’m not impressed with the 457mm guns and see no real reason to choose them over the 419mm at this point. We’ll see though, WG might see that they are not well liked and give them a buff of some kind, but I doubt it.


[1] 457mm guns are less than the 457.3mm necessary to overmatch 32mm of bow armor.

[2] Montana and G.K (with 420mm guns) are capable of a 162,000 damage alpha strike while the Yamato is capable of a 133,200 damage alpha strike.

[3] Though the 406mm guns of the Großer Kurfürst have a lower alpha strike, I find there to be no discernible advantage in the 406mm vs. the 420mm guns whereas for the Conqueror, the 419mm is the best choice so far.

Ranked Thoughts and Opinions

To start off bluntly, I’m not a huge fan of ranked. One of the simpler reasons is I do not have the time to put into climbing the ladder so before I go on keep that in mind. Further, for the last 3 seasons, I have made it to at least Rank 10 and stopped. With that said the other reasons are as follows.

Reason 2

The static meta that has been the last 2 seasons of ranked does not bode well to my style of play. I prefer to be aggressive and make plays towards the objectives of the match and do damage to the enemy team. This does not mean that I won’t play more passively if I feel that’s what needs to be done, but that I still get bored sitting around for a target to be spotted.

Reason 3

This is a team based game with a mode that is strongly depending on team play and communication. At the lower ranks, this is increasingly difficult to find. Many play for themselves and pay little attention to the needs of the rest of the team, such as the need for smoke or the need for spotting. Further, the inability for players to acknowledge the need focus targets that have been called out is exceedingly frustrating, particularly when it’s a low health destroyer. I would expect that this gets better as you move up the tiers, but due to the fact that I get easily frustrated by this, I stop progressing and go back to Randoms.

Reason 4

Many players, particularly in earlier ranks, do not have the skills necessary to be assets to their teams. The main reason behind this is the ship tier required for Ranked is easily obtainable by even a novice player in a short time, and further there are many premium tier 6 ships that can be purchased with no experience at all. Though I consider myself to be an above average player, it would be a feat for me to be able to carry a team in a ranked battle to victory. As a result, I still rely on other members of my team to provide support and carry their own weight. If, however, those players lack the skills and knowledge necessary to be effective in the ship that they are in, then they are more of a hindrance than an asset – torpedoing from behind allies is a prime example.

Reason 5

The rewards to effort ratio is just not equal or beneficial in my opinion. Sure, the accolades that come with achieving Rank 1, and certainly multiple times, are quite nice, but the time to achieve that does not equal its cost.

Final Remarks

As I tend to only play in the evening during the week and early mornings on weekends, if I play at all during the weekends, finding skilled teams is far more difficult. Many are ‘casual’ players who play to have fun or younger players. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with either they both come with issues. The casual players don’t put the efforts in to be competitive, something required for ranked, and the younger players tend to caustically spam chat. I can only deal with so many “Your mom…” jabs before I just get tired of it and run out of reports. Friendly banter is fine, spamming and raving are not.

As for the skill issues, I do understand that Wargaming wants to be more inclusive than exclusive, however, competitive gameplay requires competitive and SKILLED players. Personally, I think Ranked should be relegated to tiers 8 or 9. Tier 8 offers a better range of ships and certainly is less exclusive than tier 9, though it still has the issue of several purchasable premium ships, with no game time required. Tier 9 is far more exclusive with only one premium ship, the Missouri. Due to the ‘cost’ of that ship though, any player with one has at least a working knowledge of the game and its mechanics. Most of you are likely against having ranked be only tier 8 or 9, especially if you have yet to obtain one which is why I’ll mention Option 3. Wargaming should go back to the split tiers in ranked. For ranks up to rank 15, players can use Tier 5 or 6, and after rank 15, the only option is tier 8. This will help with the skill gap and help prevent players from riding on the backs of others to achieve the higher ranks.

Keep in mind, these are my opinions, if you share them great, if you don’t, that’s fine too. I know some will not have had the same experiences with ranked as I have, but I would assume most have had some of the same observations, though your conclusions may differ. So should you feel so inclined to comment, please keep it civil…

High Tier American Battleship Buffs: A Review

In patch 0.6.6, the high tier American battleships – Iowa, Missouri, and Montana, received a buff in the form of a lowered citadel. This reduced the volume of their citadels by ~27% and redistributed the HP to more evenly throughout the ship. Wargaming did this to “promote more active play and maneuver.”[1] But is that what it does and how has it affected these ships?

This patch has been out just over a month allowing me to get some play time in on the Montana and Missouri (I have a Missouri so I have no need for the Iowa). In so doing, this is what I have noticed with these ships:

  • Seemingly increased popularity within Random Battles
  • Significantly harder to citadel at ranges between 10-15km
  • More forgiving broadsides
  • More aggressive plays by players
  • Increased survivability amongst players in those ships

Having both played in and against those ships, these observations have their pros and cons, so here is my take.

Missouri & Iowa

The Missouri and Iowa most certainly needed buffs. The lack of armor and very high citadel (though historically accurate) made playing them aggressively very frustrating. Nearly any cruiser or battleship that you would see in battle was capable of penetrating and even citadeling your ship if a broadside was given. This promoted static bow in play or passive sniping from a distance. Though they were certainly very capable of the latter, you were far more at the mercy of RNG than if you were to close this distance to the enemy. When outfitted correctly, the Missouri and Iowa are the fastest battleships in game and fairly maneuverable for their size, however, not maneuverable enough to evade deletion during a turn. So for these two ships, a buff was warranted but I think the citadel volume reduction was a bit too much.

In playing against them I’ve noticed that it is significantly harder to citadel them at point blank ranges, frustratingly so actually. More than once I have had a newly buffed USN BB show me a broadside at under 10km away and I’ll be lucky if I manage 1 citadel. Pre patch 0.6.6 and that scenario would have led to at least 3 if not complete deletion. Sure RNG could hate me, but for that much hate, it’s hard to believe. Perhaps I just need to relearn where to aim for these ships with the new buffs – only time will tell.

Montana

One of my favorite ships in the game, she was also my first tier 10. It took me some time to truly get the hang of her but once I did I understood her strengths and weaknesses. She could be very tanky bow in and very squishy broadside. In my opinion, though the buff is nice, I don’t think it was truly necessary, certainly to the degree that is was applied. A good and experienced captain could do really well in her pre-buff. Though she did not have the durability of the other two tier 10 BB’s, she could certainly hold her own in the niche that she sat. With a very heavy broadside, excellent AA, and significantly more belt armor than her predecessor, she could afford angles that would have otherwise been a citadel in the Iowa. The lines of the ship also made here armor more effective and deceiving, leading to bounces from what seemed like a broadside volley.

In her current configuration, she is far more forgiving for newer players that show their broadside. Punishment is certainly expected, but not to the extent that it once was. Her immunity zone has been broadened, making deletions at all ranges except drive-bys far less common in my experience thus far. If you play her a lot and haven’t quite gotten the hang of more advanced techniques, this is a great thing for you. If, however, you’re like me and drooled when you saw any of the top tier USN battleships offering a perfect broadside at close range, those days of a guaranteed serving of multiple citadels have passed. Do they still happen, sure, but not as much in my experience so far.

Conclusion

All three of the top tier USN battleships were over buffed in my opinion to compensate for less experienced players. Even in their original configuration, good players could still use them to great effect, even against Yamato’s. We would expect that once a player reaches the higher tiers that they have learned the fundamentals of playing a battleship, which includes not showing your broadside to other battleships. Sadly though, that is not the case. A noticeable percentage of players in high tier games still break these cardinal rules and bring down not just the team, but the stats of an otherwise viable ship. It’s like back in grade school where they stopped helping the ‘average’ students and spent their efforts on the ‘below average’ ones. This is what Wargaming has done in my opinion with this particular buff, over compensated for the players that still have yet to learn the fundamentals and skew the stats. Maybe, with time, they’ll see that and ‘nerf’ these ships. But somehow, I don’t foresee that happening. Perhaps the British Batteships will offer a rebalancing? That too, I fear, is wishful thinking.

Let me know in the comments below what you think of the buffs to these ships. Are they good, unneeded, or overdone?

 


[1] http://wiki.wargaming.net/en/Ship:Update_0.6.6

Article Content Poll

As many of you have seen, most of the articles I write have to do with stats and analytics. Though I do enjoy writing them, and try to make them as friendly to the populace as I can, I’m wondering what else you might like to read about in regards to World of Warships. The poll options include topics that I feel qualified to discuss and write about and am currently able to write about. (Sorry, I’m not a community contributor, so I can get info on new ships or their stats). Also, please feel free to post suggestions for articles and content in the comments as well, I probably left things out.

What is a Team Player?

What is a Team Player? This can be an easy question to answer but very difficult to define – numerically at least. So for starters, I’ll begin by stating how I would define a team player.

A team player will player for the team and the win and not necessarily themselves. What this boils down to is making plays that benefit the team but not the individual player, at least directly. This includes, taking and defending capture points, spotting without doing damage (with guns), smoking up teammates and not themselves, using consumables for the team, tanking damage or drawing fire from other teammates and sometimes even self sacrifice. Each class of ship has their own niche in what they are capable of doing and using those to both the players advantage and the teams advantage can often mean the difference between a win and a loss, or at the very least, a close game.

Continue reading “What is a Team Player?”