Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Warship Wednesday - Battleships

The situation had gotten dire.

I was in my Tirpitz battleship sitting around half health. A friendly Tirpitz and North Carolina battleship had gone towards the enemy capture point but had gone in separately and were now sunk. The remainder of the fleet, a cruiser and carrier, was way off on the west side of the map. A hostile Tirpitz battleship, New Orleans and Pensacola cruisers, and a Hatsuhara destroyer were ahead of me. Four to one odds.

My allies had softened up the cruisers down to less than 20% health, and all but the Pensacola were on the other side of a point. The Pensacola was running away from me, about 15 klicks off and growing, hoping to open up range while his allies moved into position. I could not let him get away and distract me. I fired and my aim was true and the cruisers foundered. I swung my guns back to the starboard side and turned the rudder hard port, knowing the Hatsuhara would be aiming torps right around the point. I predicted correctly and as I came around the point the destroyer and cruiser were close and bearing down on my position. The torpedoes missed me and I turned my guns on the New Orleans and sent her down to the bottom of the see. Down to two to one.

The enemy Tirpitz was farther back and the Hatsuhara pulled range from my secondaries. I swung my rudder back to the starboard to turn my fire on the enemy battleship and start to approach to try and use my own torpedoes. We started exchanging fire and while hid health points were higher than mine, my armour angling reduced the incoming damage while he was taking big hits from my guns. We were pulling even in HPs when I saw him start to turn to try and fire his torps into me, so I pulled port hard again and fired my torps in a tight spread. I ate one of his torps fired in a wide spread, but my torps slammed into him and he sunk.

As I turned to finally deal with the ineffective Hatsuhara, the game ended on points in our favour.

I told this story not because I look awesome in it (although it helps) but because it highlights a lot of subtleties in commanding a battleship that neophytes might not realize coming into the class: angling armour, pre-turning to avoid torps, picking targets, etc. It also highlights nicely the sheer staying power and hitting power of battleships, something no other class has in such a combination.

Today's post I'm going to give a short list of tips about commanding Battleships.

1) Don't let the South Carolina and Kawachi get you down. The first battleships you run into in the tech tree at tier III are horrible. They have the hit points and long load times characteristic of battleships, but combined with incredibly short range main weapons and dismal slow speed. They are shorted ranged and slower than same tier cruisers and thus can be burned to the ground without ever getting in range if the enemy is smart enough. Worst of all, they have no AA defense and sometimes are in battles with tier IV carriers whose torpedoes can be a pain in the ass. Good news is that you can push through it pretty fast and things start to get better with upgraded Myogi and Wyoming.

2) Learn to turn. Going in a straight line for any length of time makes you a perfect predictable target. Torpedoes from destroyers love battleships that continue in a straight line, and so do Torpedo bombers. Just doing constant half turns is often enough to throw a shot off enough to miss, and if you even suspect a destroyer or torpedo bomber is coming your way you should be turning hard to one side, preferably towards the incoming torps but not necessary.

3) Learn to aim. You have to make your shots count in a battleship since you only get to fire twice a minute (or less!). This take practice to get the long range shots to hit, but under ten klicks you need to be nailing every target. And just hitting anywhere is not enough, you need to know where to hit. Check out this guide from the forums. This means using AP ammo against everything except destroyers (with occasional exceptions) and trying to get those juicy juicy citadels which can cripple enemy ships very quickly.

4) Angle your armour. When facing enemy battleships, you need to avoid as much as possible presenting your entire broadside as it gives the enemy shells the best chance to penetrate your citadel. I realize you need to turn to your broadside to fire your own guns, so I try to weaving approach where I alternate half turns through my firing cycle, coming far enough to one side to fire and then turning back to try and bounce the return fire. If you do this, and your opponent does not, you can make him pay.

5) Be conservative with damage control ability, liberal with repair. Don't use your damage control party on the first fire to start on your decks, because sure enough as you put it out they'll start another and you just have to watch it burn. Try to save it until you are low in hit points or have multiple fires going on. Or, if you suspect you are going to take a torpedo any time soon, save it for that because flooding lasts longer, slows you down, and does a lot of damage over time. Conversely, the repair ability should be used as soon as its reasonable, i.e. after you have taken a significant amount of light and moderate damage. Hitpoints don't get wasted if you use it early and it will be ready sooner that way for next time. Be warned, make sure you use it after you've taken significant damage or you might end up only repairing a bit. I aim for 75%, 50%, and 25% health point totals to activate it.

6) Don't go alone. Try your hardest to get a cruiser or two to come with you early in the battle, or if not turn around and follow them. While I've been able to kill destroyers with my battleship in the past, its bloody hard and even a success can mean eating a handful of torpedoes in the process. Cruisers, on the other hand, eat destroyers like no body's business. Plus, while your own AA is constantly getting better as you go up the tiers, its always good to have more AA to protect you from bombing runs as much as possible.

7) Constantly evaluate the situation. Your long gun reload times can be seen as a boon if you take the time to look around and see what's going on. Count the DDs on the minimap so you know how many could be near you, see what enemy is approaching in case you want to angle your armour differently, see what the flight squadrons of the carriers are doing, pick your next target. Use the Shift key to switch from zoomed in to zoomed out views, look around, be aware. Too often I see battleship captains focused too much on the nearest target that they miss what's happening around them.

Whatever you do, have fun! Remember its only a game.

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