Detonations; the ‘most’ fun and engaging mechanic in the game that many historically can’t stand – myself included. Thankfully though, the latest patch, 0.7.2, has prevented ships from being detonated when they are above 75% health. This was a great step in the right direction as there is nothing more frustrating than being in a full or nearly full health tier 10 ship and being detonated and then paying the repair cost with nothing to show for it. All that aside, the point of this article will be to discuss the mechanic, my current impressions of it, and some new food for thought.
The detonation mechanic exists in the game exists due to its historical nature. Arguably, this adds realism to the game to which is more arcady as opposed to a simulator, something WarGaming has themselves noted. However, this touch of realism doesn’t come without balance, something actual naval vessels did not have. The game offers modules that significantly reduce your chance of detonations and a signal flag that completely eliminates it, which ironically enough, you earn by being detonated. To dive more into its in-game existence though, some historical facts and figures should be noted.
In WWII the Iowa-class USN Battleships, with their 16″ guns were capable of firing in excess of 40,000 yards. The accuracy of these guns at was just over 30% at ranges near 10,000 yards for a broadside target down to below 3% out to 30,000 yards under controlled conditions, not in actual combat. This would of course suggest that under combat situations, these values would be reduced, likely significantly. With these values in mind, hitting a target at all, let alone hitting the target in its magazine was not as common an occurrence. However, this being a game, and not a true simulator, adjustments needed to be made to make it enjoyable.
Within the game itself, a series of checks are made to determine whether or not a ship will be detonated. The first check is if the ship is below 75% health. This is the newest mechanic. The second check is whether or not the player has anything that mitigates detonations, like flags or modules. The third check or series of checks is the penetration of the incoming round into the ship itself. Does the round meet overmatch mechanics? Will the round ricochet due to angle? Does round have enough penetration to make it through the layers of armor coming into the magazine? Does the round still have enough penetration to over penetrate and not explode within the magazine? The fourth check, if the round has made it this far and detonates in the magazine is to determine the health of the magazine and the damage potential of the round. If the damage potential of the round is equal to or exceeds that of the HP of the magazine, the chance of detonation increases dramatically, though is still not 100%. However, in my experience, once I have taken enough damage to my magazine areas, usually through citadels or regular penetration damage, detonations from a certain salvo or even torpedo hit are pretty predictable.
Final balancing in the game comes from the hit point pool of the magazines and RNG. Realistically speaking, if a 16” round was to enter the magazine of another ship and explode, the magazine will go with it. However, as a ship’s accuracy is significantly better in-game than it was historically, detonation chance has to exist in order to make the game playable. Otherwise, detonations could be easily caused and players would just get frustrated and stop playing.
I know this newfound information and perspective won’t make getting detonated any less frustrating in the moment, but personally, I find the alternatives, being more realistic or not existing at all, to not be as enticing. Since who doesn’t like taking 70k off a Yamato with a single round?