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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.