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World Of Warships New Carrier Game Play : It’s fun, and it’s bad.

Game Balance Vs Fun Balance For Everyone is Hard

So I’ve been playing the heck out of Wargaming’s ( recently revamped game-play mechanic for aircraft carriers in their World of Warships ( game.

I played 8 games in “Co-Op” mode, and then went to “Random Battles” using the Tier-4 “IJN Hosho”.

It was a heck of a lot of fun and much more accessible to me as a player than the previous “WoWs As StarCraft” system had been.  However, something was … off.

Specifically, my damage.  I was struggling to break 10k damage.  This is a relatively trivial target number, incidentally.  A single citadel strike from a battleship or a couple of torpedo hits from a destroyer will yield that kind of result.  With much less work, in fact.

At this point, I’ve played another 16 games between T4 and T6.  It’s still a remarkably fun play style that I actually generally enjoy more than IJN destroyer play and that’s been my jam since WoWs Beta.  However, for now, I’m unlikely to keep playing carriers for a simple reason;  every carrier I saw in every game I played was scoring around 600xp at T4 and 900xp at T6 and their team mates were yelling about it.

Chatting with both Red and Blue CV players during each game I got a pretty common picture;  no one is happy with the fragility of the fighters and the lack of damage for the difficulty involved.

It’s currently not uncommon to be unable to hit a destroyer with “attack aircraft” carrying Surface-To-Ground rockets.  The issue isn’t what you might think, either;  if WoWs is roughly a game of rock-paper-scissors, the problem is that your rock can’t detect the scissors soon enough to be able to target it, and when it does, it misses 30% of the time due to random chance.

It’s currently not uncommon to make an attack run on a cruiser with dive-bombers to have the entire squadron shot down, and the two bombs that are dropped land in the water beside the ship, or fail to detonate because they are armour-piercers hitting the thin parts of the ship instead of the “citadel”.

Infrequent citadel hits are rewarded with damage numbers barely on par with the kind of damage that battleship guns do on low-damage hits.  Cruisers have dedicated anti-aircraft barrages that do frightening damage so making an attack on a cruiser is essentially currently only an act of desperation.

Torpedo strikes on battleships are similarly underwhelming.  Battleships carry significant AAA batteries and have armour that turn aside rockets and bombs as a matter of course.  Torpedoes are about the only viable option, except that cruiser cannon rounds produce better damage numbers and require less work.

That would be my biggest complaint, over all, and its the reason I’m going to stop playing CVs.  I’m a literal liability to my team if I take a carrier.  Allow me a moment to illustrate what I mean. 

As an experiment, I played three games in a KGM T6 battleship.  In all three cases, I loaded high-explosive exclusively into my main guns, sailed into the middle of a contested capture circle and unloaded on whatever I could reliably hit.

This is, in a simple description, extremely bad tactics and play style for a battleship.  On the other hand, I did twice to three times as much damage, soaked ten times as much damage and made twice as much experience points as the played-my-best carrier games.

It wasn’t nearly as fun, but I was literally twice as effective for my team by playing a battleship badly as a carrier well.  That, to my way of thinking, is a problem.

Given my conversations with other carrier captains in game, my experience is not unique.

“You should be playing in Co-Op battles then.  That is what they are for”

— Useful Comment From Team mate

I would agree, except that the premise is wrong.

The AI in Co-Op is not good enough to do more than get a new player past they “how do the mechanics” work level.  In addition, in most Co-Op/ Vs AI battles I’ve played at least ⅛ the team are other AIs, and ⅛ the team is made up of players “working off” their “pink paint” for team-killing.

Neither of these groups of ship captains are there for a long game.  They are not there to play well.  They are there to fill slots.

In the rare case where I get a full team of talented captains playing in ernest, we usually annihilate the AI fast enough that I can barely get two full strikes delivered to targets.  Either may or may not do damage and may or may not be just blown out of the sky before being useful.

In other words, it’s a lousy training environment.  Further, the damage numbers were looking so bad that I presumed that they had been nerfed for Co-Op play.  That is why I went to playing Random Battles;  I wanted to see what the “real” numbers were.

Random Battles are more fun, the damage is just as bad, and I get the bonus of crippling my team mates, some of whom will point that out to me.  In detail.

Don’t @ me about needing a thicker skin for online games.  No fun is no fun, and if the players are part of the problem, then myself and other prospective Captains are likely all going to come to the same conclusion;  we can do much better sailing other ships badly.

That’s the real crux of it.  If I sail a mid-tier battleship badly, nothing gets said.  If I sail a mid-tier carrier well, I’m letting my team down.

That’s no fun for anyone.

So what needs to change?  I don’t believe in complaining without proposing change.  If you don’t have a solution and you are complaining, you’re whining.

  • Improve aerial detection ranges for destroyers.  I’m ex-Navy, and I can tell you first hand that wakes are visible at sea much further than the ship that makes them is.  Let us at least see the wake.
  • Improve damage done per strike with rockets and torpedoes.  If I’m going to lose an entire squadron of bombers to drop two fish, only one of which hits, please make the damage worth it.
  • Reduce the effectiveness of AAA.  Right now, if a battleship is sailing with a destroyer, I’m going get my entire squadron blown out of the air in the time it takes to make my first attack run.

   Likewise, a pair of cruisers, even without using Defensive Fire, will casually obliterate a six-plane flight that strays too close while attacking something else.  Players are not stupid and they are grouping up in pairs or trips to maximize AAA cover.  This is less pleasant for the carrier captain than a rabid porcupine at the dinner table.

  • Make T4 and T6 bombs semi-armour-piercing so they produce better damage results against the lighter deck armour of cruisers.  If we have to hug the aforementioned porcupine, it would be nice to get a good payoff for it.

Just to be clear, I’ve been playing and enjoying World of Warships since beta.  I own a few premium ships.  I’ve ranked up to a couple of T10s.  I have a couple of 19-point Captains.  I still play the Shimakaze because I adore the ship for what it was “back in the day”.  I still play my Bismark with WWII paint scheme because it feels cool.  I still play my Atlanta because it makes me giggle.  

I don’t stop doing something because it’s hard.  I stop doing something because it’s not worth it.  I like World of Warships and I want it to get better.  Carrier play as it was before this iteration was a wreck.  This is a step in the right direction.  It just needs more work before I’ll feel okay about “learning on someone else’s game time”.

Thanks very much for reading.  Let me know what you think in the comments.  I hope to see you out on the virtual seas of the World of Warships.

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