The first part of this season of ranked was fun and easy, despite the CV’s and numerous rentals. I was quickly able to get to Rank 5 with few losses and often saving my star. However, I attribute this to it being early season and the meta not quite being defined at the time and being less competitive at those lower ranks. Once I reached Rank 5 though, everything changed. The teams changed, the meta changed, what worked changed. This quickly became frustrating.
When I reached Rank 5, I started to see a new composition of ships. There were less of ships that could get up to the caps and either take or contest them and more that could sit in the back or kite around the flanks – Henri’s and Conquerors I’m referring to you. This also led to the change in the meta. Those who captained those ships were often not there to necessarily contribute to a win but to ensure the saving of a star and if there was no CV in the game it was generally a guarantee that one of those two ships would. While I can’t blame players for using such powerful ship, the way in which they were used cause much issue and more often than not, the team with those most Conquerors or Henris lost in my experience. Sure, they can dish out the damage – I took many a 10k+ HE hit from a Conqueror at max range while in my Kremlin – but damage doesn’t win the battle, caps and kills do. These ships just aren’t finishers, they are star savers. Shy of ships like these, I also saw less and less of teams that would capitalize on advantages, such as getting early kills or knocking a ship down to low health, having radar when the other team didn’t, having gun boat DD’s when the other team just had torp boats. Players were more passive overall. Sure, there were games where I would see a team – sometimes mine – that would aggressively push through the caps and annihilate the enemy, but those were exceptions rather than the norm. Though this can work fine when a team holds a majority of the caps or if there are ships in place to force mistakes to be exploited, but this was also rarely the case. It truly became a grind towards the end.
The other big issue was the CV’s at those higher ranks. A bad CV would be a guaranteed loss, while a good one either won the game for you or saved their star. I had several games where I had multiple achievements, including ones like High Caliber, but lots my star to the CV player who didn’t get one. Why? Because they were able to survive to the end or be the last one sunk. No achievements, 1 or even no kills, but just enough damage and plane kills coupled with an inherently longer survival time to get that extra XP. This wasn’t just frustrating – it was infuriating. Not to mention the damage that a CV could do in a single run with no mistakes made by the surface ship. I had one game where I was bombed for just shy of 60k in a single run (3 drops), then hit for 11k from rockets on the next run. In the first 5 minutes, I’ve gone from over 108k HP to 50k and have already burned 2 heals. I haven’t sat broadside. I haven’t sailed into a wall of torps. It was just decided by the enemy CV that I would be their focus. It’s broken – still.
CV issues aside, the rentals were not as big of an issue later on in ranked as they were earlier. Sure there were players that were clearly carried to higher ranks by their teammates and honestly had no business at Rank 5+, but most players in rental ships at that level were quite good and just didn’t have that ship in their port yet – usually Conqueror. However, early on in ranked, the number of rentals one side had compared to the other was often a strong predictor of which team would win. As mentioned in a previous article, this is something that should be addressed in the future if Wargaming plans on keeping this model.
Final thoughts and comments. I was able to progress to Rank 3 but due to time and issues with Save-A-Star players, I disappointingly ended at Rank 5 – one win short of being back to Rank 4. Sure, I had some potato moments and was not able to do well, such as rounding a corner in my radar Mino (this ship won me a lot of stars late season) to finish a DD only to find a Henri there just sitting outside of my radar range. As you might of expected, I didn’t last long. Though in my defense, the Gearing that was with me in that instance turned tail and ran the second he saw the Groz so he was unable to spot the Henri. I spotted him first and suffered the consequences. I digress however. My poor play moments aside, I usually managed to wind up in the top 3, often #2, but would more often than not be booted out of that #1, save a star spot by either a CV, Conqueror or Henri. So depressing. Overall though, I enjoyed this season for what it was, despite the issues. But those issues, namely the Save-A-Star mechanic and CV’s need to be fixed or eliminated from Ranked. Make Ranked Great Again! That is all. Happy Sailing!