Recently, WG have announced more tweaks and changes to aircraft carriers in order to balance them once again, specifically in relation to spotting and their interaction with Destroyers. You can check out more about these changes below but the propose of this article is to touch on what I would do to CV’s to balance them – shy of removing them all together.
The CV rework which was introduced back in 0.8.0 has changed the landscape of this game in a very significant way, and not entirely for the better in my opinion. This has resulted in many players leaving or threatening to leave the game while at the same time bringing others back. For better or for worse, CV’s are here to stay but there needs to be some very important changes to make them and their interaction with surface ships far more comfortable. So here are some changes that I propose based on my current experience with them.
Right now, CV spotting significantly out performs the spotting of any ship, shy of being within range of radar or hydro. This has resulted in destroyers to change their tactics completely as they can no longer focus on the caps comfortably at the start of a match – their previous primary goal. The ones that have adapted now wait until areas have been cleared or ship locations known before they move in or they just flank or provide area denial. Those who are not DD mains, but rather play them occasionally, are still learning this, but more often, harass their friendly DD’s when they are in other ships for not performing their old role. To counter this excessive spotting issue, I would like to see CV’s spot much like radar and hydro does now – with a cool-down period before the rest of the team gets the ship rendered. Further, that counter gets reset should the planes lose line of sight or move out of air detection range and this should be the case with ALL ships. As a balance however, the use of AA increases the air spotting bloom which in itself will have a cool-down, thus allowing for greater margin of error for air spotting DD’s. This will force those AA spec’d DD’s to chose when to enable their AA guns more carefully. Similar to what some do now.
Currently, CV survivability is pretty high. This is due to not just the nature of the ship type in being able to sit outside of detection of the enemy and behind islands, but due to the new damage control mechanics. The auto-enabled DCP removes a players need to use it which of course can cause issues for them in certain circumstances, however, the very short duration fires are the true issue here. While I probably would not recommend a 45-sec fire duration given the speed in which an enemy CV can stack DoTs, something like 15 seconds and having the ability to chose when to use DCP, which in turn could have a shortened cool-down, similar to that of a destroyer. This, in theory, will cause CV players to position themselves more intelligently for one, force them to chose when to use DCP, but also give the enemy players some reprieve should they be able to spot them and light continuous fires on the flight deck.
Though there are some upcoming changes that have been discussed, specifically with sector reinforcement and making it more user friendly, I think more needs to be done here. Currently, there are only a few ships that are just not recommended to strike. Further, unless you are playing one of those ships, fully spec’ing for AA is just not worth it as the changes have little impact on your ability to shoot down aircraft. This lies largely in the difference between DPM AA and Flak bursts. While flak bursts do tons of damage when aircraft fly through them, players have found that they are relatively easy to avoid. Plus, if the ship doesn’t put out that many to begin with, that interaction is certainly in the CV’s favor. What needs to happen here is an increase in ships ability to have continuous DPM while reducing the damage of the Flak as a balance. Further, the sector reinforcement changes as purposed are just not enough. As they currently stand the bonuses for the Battleships and Cruisers are insufficient given the amount of AA some of these ships have or are supposed to have. Further, the time it takes to reinforce a sector given how quickly a CV can come around and make a follow up strike in a weakened sector makes it nearly worthless unless they are running the manual AA skill. In this instance, I propose two changes. The first would be to increase the AA bonus on Battleships and Cruisers to something more substantial. While 50% probably aligns more closely to the power they should have, something more like 35-40% might be better suited for balance. The second change would be to decrease the time it would take to change sectors. This could even have nation specific values as well. An example might be USN BB’s and CA/CL’s have the shortest sector reinforcement times and IJN have some of the longest. Overall, I would like to see somewhere between a 20-25% decrease in the time it takes to reinforce a sector. This now allows the surface ship captain to be more involved with anti-air.
New AA Mechanic Proposal
Finally, and this would be in lieu of the existing sector reinforcement system, I would propose changing it entirely to a hybrid between the main battery aiming system where we have X & Y movement and the torpedo system where we have a visible cone of fire. This system could be semi-autonomous where AA will fire at enemy aircraft, utilizing the existing aura system in place. However, should the user chose to enter manual AA mode, they could manually control a heavily fortified AA cone, aiming at and tracking incoming aircraft. Balancing factors to this would be delayed tracking – it takes time to rotate these guns, the player must compensate for lead (flak bursts are calculated automatically), and like with the main guns, AA power will be determined by how many guns can fire on that sector – broadside vs. bow or stern vs. vertical. While this could be available on any ship, this mechanic, once entered into would render main guns and torpedoes in-operable to the player. Thus, if they are openly engaging the enemy, their choice to continue to do so or engage aircraft would be at their own peril. Once again though, AA would still continue to fire, but without the manual buff.
Carrier v Carrier Interactions
We need to bring back carrier versus carrier interactions. Currently, the only ‘defensive’ measure carriers have is the patrol aircraft, which is a joke. Ships easily sail outside of that protective bubble, the planes are weak and easily shot down, and due to the big green or red circle on the minimap, they are pretty easy to avoid. In reality, everyone of these planes had guns as a way to defend itself, why not make them functional in-game somehow. They don’t have to have the same power as fighters in pre-0.8.0 games, but some impact would be nice. Even if they were completely automatic, say if aircraft were within 1.5-2km of each other they would fire, now a CV player could have the choice to play defensively OR offensively. As I have done previously, ways to balance this could include some aircraft have both front and rear guns while other only have front and some aircraft are best attacked head on and avoided in a chase. Just some thoughts though.
Carriers are here to stay, much to the chagrin of many players out there. Sure, their direct damage potential is not what it was when the rework was first released, but their indirect damage – aka spotting damage – really hasn’t changed any. Their speed and overall sight range allows them to dominate spotting the enemy and they can easily kill off any ship if that ship is not supported by overlapping AA bubbles with constant attacks. While their play is still very unique from any other ship type in game, the changes since the rework have allowed even the average player to have an impact on the game, if just in spotting alone. Finally, adding more options for both the surface ships to have more control over AA and CV having more options to attack other aircraft is crucial, in my opinion will make having CV’s in the game far more comfortable.