Gunboats are infamous, we’ve all been shot at by an unseen gunboat that lurks behind islands, or by that unhittable Russian DD that is cheekily shooting at you from the open. However, just like most things, gunboating is significantly harder then it looks. Here is a rough guide on how to play a gunboat-style DD. This guide is intended for ships that have a preferably high rate of fire, and have good DPM. Don’t try to play like a gunboat in a DD that has awful DPM, such as Kagero, because it’ll often lead to sacrificing torpedo potential.
As a gunboat, your job is not to spot. Generally, you don’t have the concealment for that, leave it to the torpedo boats, or the general purpose DDs. Instead, follow your fellow DDs at a distance, providing them with artillery support in case they get into a rough spot. Don’t try to fight DDs early in the game, unless you can do it from stealth, simply because DD fights at the beginning usually lead to the DDs getting focused. Try to cap if you can, then move away
from the cap, use a smoke screen or islands to engage enemy ships. Alternatively, if you have a high maneuverability, firing from the open can work well, allowing you to draw fire from the enemy team, which you should be able to successfully evade (Note: if you see a large number of ships, do not fire from the open. Multiple ships will be able to focus you down; instead use an island or smoke to engage them).
In the midgame, take up an aggressive position and hold it for as long as possible, forcing enemy ships to withdraw. The goal is to try to deal damage to the enemy fleet, in order to cripple their ability to play in the late game. Try to take any open caps, and engage DDs that don’t have support from their fleet. For gunboats with long-range torpedoes, torpedo attacks during this stage of the game can be very useful.
By the endgame, hunt down destroyers and cap enemy points, try to finish off any ships that remain alive, while conserving your hit pool. Don’t engage in risky fights, instead focus on creating or maintaining a tactical edge against the enemy team.
General tips for Gunboats.
- Use Islands to set up torpedo ambushes, to fire over, and to block enemy ships from firing on you. A particularly useful strategy is to maneuver around an island in such a manner as to allow only one or two ships to fire on you, essentially isolating them from the fleet.
- Don’t be afraid to use AP. DDs can do tremendous damage to broadside targets at mid to close range, especially on ships with large superstructures, particularly German Battleships.
- Be very careful about radar ships, and try to ensure that they die quickly (calling them out, using an island to shoot them to death without the possibility of return fire, etc.).
- Be wary of torpedoes. DD’s will often die because they were sitting in smoke and fall prey to a torpedo attack. Try to angle against a possible torpedo threat, and maneuver around inside your smoke.
I hope this guide helps, good luck and fair seas captains!