Little is more frustrating for a player than getting into a battle in your ship only to find CV’s are in your battle and the enemy CV is not only competent, but has singled you out. This of course leads to the inevitable question, “Why me?” That question could be followed by other such questions like, Are you top tier? Have you isolated yourself? Are you in a ship with low AA capabilities? Are you more of a threat than other players (skill or ship selection)?
Preparing for Battle
Shy of getting into the whole psychology of a CV player discussion just yet, lets go over some of the things that you can do before you queue up into a battle.
- The highest concentration of CV’s occur in tiers 7 or below so if you plan on playing in one of those ships proceed accordingly
- Make a determination of you ships AA capabilities. American ships tend to have the best base AA of any type so that’s always a good start. Cruisers by majority, can equip Defensive AA, so if you believe that your chance of getting into a battle with a CV is good, make sure you’re consumables are loaded correctly.
- IF your ship has decent AA to begin with, consider buffing it with the appropriate flags, modules, consumables and captain skills (see below).
- Consider your ship’s size and maneuverability. Large slow ships, like BB’s, are easier to strike while fast small ships, like DD’s, are more difficult and tend to take more skill on the part of the CV captain. Buffing your rudder shift time with the necessary module(s) can serve great purpose, not only for CV strikes, but for avoiding ship launched torpedoes as well.
- If you’re grinding a ship that is known for bad AA (if you don’t know, ask someone or Google it), consider divisioning with another player or players that have AA or at least the Defensive AA consumable.
In-Game Counter Play
Lower tier CV’s (7 or even 8 and below) are easier to counter or avoid than the upper tiers due to the amount of squadrons, squadron size, and individual aircraft HP. So as a disclaimer, if a competent tier 9 or 10 CV captain wants to strike you, they probably will. With that out of the way, here are things that you can do while in a battle to mitigate strikes and damage.
- Take note of the AA capable ships on your team and what type of CV both your team and the enemy is sailing. Knowing what the strike capabilities are of the enemy CV, regardless of the skill of the captain, is extremely important. Does the CV have odd torpedo drop patterns likes the Kaga, Enterprise or Graf Zepplin? Is the CV capable of loading AP bombs like the Graf Zepplin, Enterprise, Lexington, Essex or Midway? Or does the CV just have massive amounts of strike squadrons like the Hakuryu or Taiho?
- If you have poor AA or even lack the defensive AA consumable, consider sticking to ships with better AA. Safety in numbers folks.
- Do NOT isolate yourself. If you go off alone and get detected… alone, you will be sent to the bottom or will be made utterly worthless to your team due to your low health.
- When attack squadrons are incoming, remember to Ctrl + Click on the squadrons. Prioritize torpedo or AP squadrons first.
- When you know you are about to be targeted by a CV consider the following maneuvers – For dive bombers, when you can and don’t offer your broadside to the entire enemy fleet, turn away from them so they drop across your ship (smallest target) instead of along your ship. If you know they are AP bombs from one of the American CV’s (wouldn’t matter from the GZ), and you’re in a cruiser or a lower tier German BB, risk the broadside to other ships. You’ll likely take less damage from them than the bombers. For Torpedo drops, turn into the attack. This will limit the torpedoes you take, and possibly prevent some of them from even arming.
- Use your def AA wisely. If you can use it to mitigate a strike on a friendly, please do so. They will be grateful. If you have to use it for yourself, save the def AA for torpedo strikes or AP bombers if you’re a cruiser. If you’re a destroyer, let loose on any attack squadron, but if you possible, certainly hold for the torpedo bombers and the inevitable cross drop.
- Use your damage control wisely. Good CV players will spread of their attacks so to inflict perma-fires or floods. If you get flooded or set on fire by the first wave, and you know there’s a second wave incoming, wait to pop that damage control if at all possible.
There are a few ways that you can spec a ship with your captain. For best results with modules, I would recommend Aux Armament 1 and AA mod 2. AA mod 3 is also a great choice but if you’re specing your Montana, Iowa, or Missouri, you’ll miss out on the unique Artillery Plotting Room 2 module for that extra accuracy. Further, depending on your style, you may opt for the Spotter as opposed to the Catapult Fighter. For BB’s, it’s 6:1, half-dozen the other as the fighters are aloft for as long as the spotters these days and where the spotter gets you a great view for shooting in smoke, the fighters scatter attack squadrons. As for Captain skills, the screenshots below from wowsft.com show some possible builds.
The current AA schema being an all or none is supposed to change in the future with the CV Rework. This change will focus on port/starboard AA capacity as opposed to that of the whole ship. Though the current setup is less “realistic” than that of the purposed changes, it allows for more flexibility on that of the player. Today, I can orientate my ship in any direction and still unleash the full force of my AA upon attack aircraft, therefore allowing me to turn into torpedo bombers and still shoot lots of planes. The purposed rework seems to emphasize the broadside, which will seemingly force you to gamble with shooting down more planes (thankfully only 3 per drop) or taking a torpedo. Then again, when the rocket fighters are added, you will still have to eliminate 6 fighters in a very short time to not take damage. Will the broadside be worth it?
Further thoughts would include, for me at least, a rework on the AA and survivability focused captain skills. Since the plan is to have infinite aircraft, how will ships defend themselves late battle after all their AA has been knocked out? Even with the Aux Armament module and Preventative maintenance, I still find myself losing tons of AA when there is tons of HE spam. Of course, only time will tell and if you haven’t read my previous article on the CV Rework, the short and long of it is I’m not a big fan. Sure it has some nice facets, but the majority of it I, and several others, do not like. I leave that at that for this article.
As for any other AA and CV counter tactics, I probably missed a few things so feel free to point them out to me and I’ll be sure to amend the guide with the added info.