This will be the first article of 3 that I have planned for this week and possibly next. The focus of today’s article will go over what has been currently implemented into the game, its effects on players and gameplay and my opinions on the matter which will include suggested changes. Upcoming articles will cover changes to the AA, before and after, and where it excels and where it needs some help. The final article will cover the overall change in the meta and how best to adapt based on the current iteration which will include the ‘hot fix’ planned.
The current live iteration has not done the general populations opinion of the CV or CV player any good. As suspected, the initial release would bring loads of CV’s into the queue at any and all tiers and this is indeed the case with the average being 2 per side with 3 CV’s per side existing at lower tiers. Prior to this release, 2 CV’s were common per side at lower tiers, while higher tiers were capped at 1. This was a way to balance the alpha strike power that higher tier CV’s had. Though initial alpha strike power has been significantly nerfed, the overall power of a single CV, let alone 2, is still very evident. Furthermore, as a way to emphasize change in power it’s comparable to giving a G.K. Stalingrad guns with Des Moines rate of fire and Zao accuracy. Sure you can’t ‘one shot’ tier ten battleships anymore, but you have the DPM, so to speak, to make up for it. Previously, a 300k+ damage game was considered an outlier, let alone a 400k+ damage game. In the current patch however, we have already had someone break 500k. This was unheard of. It is also becoming far more common for players to break into the 300 club and even the 400 club. Sure, 550k damage is still an outlier, but the overall ‘mean’ appears to be increasing which I interpret as the exact opposite of what the rework was supposed to accomplish. These numbers have been accomplished with the current version of the Hakuryu. While WarGaming has acknowledge the issues here, and are implementing a ‘hot-fix’ soon, the current patch notes do not appear to address the underlying problems.
Game Play Changes
The changes that the new CV rework has forced players to adapt to are many. First off, DD’s by and large are obsolete. The CV’s can do their job in terms of damage and spotting far better than they can. While the DD play is still the primary choice for taking or contesting a cap, that is only if a CV player decides to focus their attention elsewhere. However, once that DD is detected by a CV player and becomes a target – their ticket has been punched. So it’s be focused and be minimally effective, or play another ship.
If you are in a cruiser or a battleship on the other hand, your choices are to pray you’re not singled out all while huddling with the rest of the fleet so that you can participate, or accept the inevitable paddling that you are going to receive while huddling with the rest of the fleet. Not really any choice is there? If you find yourself at the edge of the fleet, or decide to wander off on your own, you will be focused and you will be sunk. It may not be by the CV, but they will certainly be credited with the assist. Whatever the case may be, the win will still be determined by the better CV and on rare occasion, the team who has the DD who is able to survive long enough to cap.
So far as the changes go to AA it’s a joke. Sure there’s the ‘Wow’ factor of flak clouds, tracers and new sounds is nice, but it’s all just for show so far. Already players have learned how to avoid the flak clouds, which can inflict large amounts of damage to planes, but only if they fly straight through them. Outside of that, there is just raw DPM which is unlayered, meaning you do not get the benefit of your long range AA DPM when the planes are in the mid-range bubble. Though this can be boosted by sector, this is cumbersome and takes time to not only do, but to get into the habit of doing. Further, much like the flak, CV players can just use the speed of the planes to strike from the other side, which now has REDUCED efficiency. Finally, and I think this is the biggest travesty (followed closely by the removal of layered AA bubbles), the range of AA has been significantly reduced. My Worcester, as an example, which was nearly full AA spec (I didn’t have BFT), had an AA score of what would be well over 100 with a range of 8.6km pre-0.8.0. She now has a score of 84 and a range of only 6.9. That’s a HUGE hit. More importantly though, all the DPM is in the flak bursts followed by the mid-range AA (1.9-4km). That means the biggest threats, torpedo bombers, do not have to get into the most dangerous AA damage zones before they drop their ordinance.
This sh*t is broken. There is no other way to put it. Prior to the beta tests, there were hopes that CV’s would become a balanced class that interacted well with the rest of the ship types. From even the first test, I saw this as a loss. Now with this on the live server, every change has only made things more frustrating. Prior to 0.8.0, I enjoyed playing an array of ships and felt that, so long as I didn’t potato, I could make a positive difference in the outcome of that particular match a majority of the time, regardless of the ship that I took. That is not the case here. Cruisers that used to create no-fly zones for even tier X carriers, like the Worcester and Minotaur, are now just a slalom course for planes with the finish being a 20k strike. Whether it be here or elsewhere, my predictions based on the original test was that players would find ways to learn this system and ‘exploit’ the weaknesses. Sector focused AA? Go to the other side! Flak bursts? Oh look, they spawn in a predictable path so I’ll just slalom about. Oh no, my planes are taking damage! I’ll just press the F-key and they’ll be ready again shortly. Instead of balance, they injected CV’s with steroids and strapped the A-10 Vulcan cannons to each arm all the while turning Bofors into fly-swatters for AA. In current form, the Hak can strike twice with torp bombers while not only remaining undetected, but staying outside of ANY AA bubble. You have relegated randoms to dodge the CV instead of engage the enemy or objectives. This is not fun. Period.
After that previous rant, here is what I think could help balance the game while still keeping CV’s as a class. Which to be honest, is the most likely scenario since WG is very unlikely to nix them altogether. Here goes.
- Make AA actually effective – enough for a single ship, when spec’d as such, to be able to defend itself
- Increase the overall DPM of the AA guns outside of the flak
- Re-institute layered DPM for the different AA gun ranges
- Allow AA ships (like the Worcester) to have an AA range that is long enough to engage aircraft at their strike or detection range – whichever is greater
- Reintroduce aim-time/dispersion changes for aircraft under fighters or Defensive AA. (I’m sorry if the mechanic still exists, but it does not appear to make much of a difference)
- Change the spotting and concealment mechanics of the planes – spotting range should be equal to detection range given their speed advantage
- They should not a stealth advantage over Destroyers as a way to keep them [destroyers] relevant.
- Focus on damage over time or alpha – not both
- Being able to perform 20k+ strikes with a single drop while still causing floods is ridiculous. Particularly since it’s rinse and repeat every 20-30sec.
- Get rid of AP bombs
- Miss plays by offering broadside to a battleship or a cruiser is asking for citadels. Getting citadeled from any angle, with no defense and no way to effectively heal that damage is just wrong.