Saturday 10 September 2016

World of Warships Revisited

This is a "dad game" - a slow paced PC game with very few controls, and 10-minute rounds.  Cunning is superior to twitchy reflexes.  And of course, it's all about WW1-WW2 warships blasting chunks off each other. You can play with/against other humans or co-op vs AI bots.  In short, it should appeal to the average wargamer.  I've done other posts about this game, so I'm going to focus on changes since the last time I played (~6 months back) and then indulge myself with a rant.

So what has changed since last Christmas?
Well, there's new German battleships, for one.  Sadly this means games are crowded with even more mouthbreathing battleship drivers as everyone rushes to try them out and progress to the best ones.  The Russian cruisers are out and are not at all overpowered (*cough* Russian developer bias *cough*).  The Royal Navy still aren't in the game (after all, the Soviet Navy won WW2, right?)

I liked the new minimap and in addition, the markings that define where smokescreens start and stop are a great improvement.

In the latest patch, their is a very handy colour-coded "armour viewer" which shows the thickness of the armour on your ship, including magazines, citadels, turrets etc. 

Apparently high tier Japanese destroyers have been nerfed (surprise surprise) due to the whining of battleship 'tards and they are going to "rebalance" (i.e. nerf) the mid tiers as well.

There's a nice event on this month giving away two rather good ships (a tier 5 Kongo and a tier 7 Myoko).

Captain Skills have been adjusted (but as usual there are pretty much must-have skills for each class so there isn't really a choice if you want the optimum skillset) and so have ship upgrades.  

The biggest (and least welcome) change for me is the new "matchmaker" which decides what ships you get matched up against.  Basically, tier 5 ships get shafted by always ending up facing superior tier 6 and 7 ships.  Given tier 5 is the most popular, fun, accessible and balanced tier (all the ships are good and there are no "lemons") this is a major annoyance to me as a casual player.

It's a truism that the smaller the ship, the bigger the balls of the captain....

So is World of Warships fun?
Yes, it is.  I've enjoyed getting back into it.  There's a range of playstyles - you can spam your guns and dodge like a madman with a gunboat destroyer, sneak about and ninja torpedo stuff with Japanese destroyers (though they will be nerfed soon due to salty tears of battleship drivers unable to bother to steer left or right and dodge them).  You can drive a mighty armoured battleship (thought most people with these hide at the back of the map as a battleship and snipe ineffectively, fleeing after a single destroyer 5"shell scratches their paint) or be a multirole cruiser that showers things with 6" shells or precisely fires 8".  If you prefer boardgames and don't like ships at all, you can fly planes from overhead view RTS-style as a carrier.   If you have friends and a microphone, there is great potential for teamwork and the relaxed pace means there is time to randomly chat/plan ahead.

The Rant
As you may have inferred, I'm not a fan of battleships.  Actually, I like battleships fine. It's just the players who use them. For some reason this class invariably attracts the biggest retards on the team. "Hurr dur - I haz biggest gunz," perhaps? Dunno.  But for whatever reason, inevitably, the biggest ships on the team are driven by the biggest tools, who are definitely not the sharpest in the shed.

+have the highest average damage done per game
+have the highest win-rates
+have the most armour
+have the most hitpoints
+have the biggest and most long ranged guns
+have the strongest AA
+have the ability to dodge their biggest threat (torpedoes)
+can repair massive amounts of damage

-are slow to turn
-have slow-firing, slow-turning guns
-are not very sneaky

So, as expected, battleships are incredibly survivable and can dish out awesome damage, while being a little unwieldy.  Sounds like a perfect ship for someone who isn't afraid to mix it up, and can plan ahead a little. Sadly, 99% of battleship players possess neither of these traits.

Battleships can dodge torpedoes.  Just most of the time they choose not to bother.  Far better to whine for nerfs on the forums... (4:30 for torpedo dodging using WASD "hacks")

Battleship drivers are whiners.  If there is more than 2 destroyers in the game (out of 15 ships) there will inevitably be a battleship driver whining in chat. What? They may actually have to pay attention to where they are going in case of torpedo attack, and can't simply mindlessly sail in a straight line and focus on shooting all game?  Of course, it's fine if there are 6 battleships - hey, it's the only target they can hit.  In addition, battleship whines have resulted in nerfs to carriers and destroyers (who were designed to stop battleships wandering off alone) which has also indirectly nerfed the usefulness of cruisers (who counter said aircraft and destroyers). 

Battleship drivers are wimps.  Their damage parties can repair more damage than the entire hitpoints (flotation capacity) of a destroyer. Multiple times.  Their armour (if correctly angled - which is a big if given the average IQ) can shrug off capital ship shells.  They can eat half a dozen torpedoes and fight on.  Yet most battleship players run from the slightest hint of "trouble" (this could be defined as a cruiser 1/5th of their size) and tend to snipe from the extreme edges of the map ~20km, where they seldom hit enemies and cannot influence the game.  It's not uncommon to see cruisers and destroyers heading for the objective and battleships heading the other direction. 

Battleship drivers are dumb.  They loftily avoid peasant strategies such as zig-zagging and tend to sail blissfully along in straight lines, presenting their broadsides to the enemy (for more "dakka") which makes them vulnerable to enemy fire and torpedoes.  And in the game, there is a beeping torpedo alert, so it's not like they can claim they are "ambushed."  Most times the average battleship player will avoid the mission objectives and even run away from them if there is a weaker enemy presence there.

So, don't mince your words - tell us how you really feel....
It's so frustrating when the most powerful, toughest ships in your fleet are operated with someone who should not be allowed to use anything more complex than a spoon.  When a ship that requires thinking ahead (the main battleship weakness is they and their guns are slow) is piloted by someone who does not think. Period.  When a ship capable of soaking up immense amounts of fire hides behind smaller, flimsier cruisers using them as meatshields, or snipes from extreme range, running away from the mission objectives.  You'd think having the biggest guns would compensate for having the smallest balls but apparently this is not the case.

I've played hundreds of games over the last year but only seen a handful of good battleship players.  Usually these are fast battlecruiser types (Kongo, Scharnhorst) - so I suspect they were played by cruiser specialists who were moonlighting.

World of Warships is fun, simple, free and very good with friends.  It's full of team mates dumber than AI bots (usually in battleships) and if you want the Yamato/Tirpitz/Iowa be prepared to play a LOT to earn them.   There's been a few good quality of life changes, offset by the new matchmaking system which has shafted Tier 5 ships - to prepare to ran up to tier 7 (and to a lesser degree, tier 6) to get the new "sweet spot." 

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