Disclaimer: I'm a cruiser main, recovering potato. After 6-7K battles at a 46% win rate as a yolo artist, I joined the USN Fleet, and started learning how to actually play the game. I'm at 15K battles and have managed to get my win rate up to 56% by averaging a 67% win rate over the last year or so. I'm a statistics dork, tracking my stats every season, like weirdly analytical. I track win rates for EVERY one of my 125 or so ships, plus DR, Ships per battle, MVP%, etc. So I feel pretty comfortable putting this guide out there based on what works for me and the input and advice from some of the best players in the NA server. This is NOT magic, and it is not perfect, but I definitely feel like this will help average or recreational players understand cruisers, and even a veteran player may find something new.
THIS IS PART ONE. PART TWO WILL BE A REVIEW OF THE VARIOUS SHIP LINES AND BEST PRACTICES FOR EACH. PART THREE WILL BE A SHIP-BY-SHIP GUIDE OF EVERY CRUISER IN THE GAME FROM T7-T10…
· OPENING SALVO – Cruisers might just be the most mis-understood ships in the game. There is a reason that new players almost ALWAYS start with battleships, destroyers or carriers. The BB is obvious, it appeals to the caveman monkey-brain inside all of us, generally viewed like a heavyweight fighter, a Mike Tyson or a Alistair Overeem. Everybody wants to kick ass and take names. The DD is the undisputed featherweight champion of the world in the solo/yolo life. Speedy, torpy, a high-risk, high-reward lil feller that can make or break a battle when played competently. And the CV can be the King of Battle, whether providing fighter cover for his teammates, spotting and scouting enemy positions and sucking up enemy damage control all game long and generating monstrous damage numbers.
The cruisers though? Some start running cruisers because they have learned to hate DDs, and want to hunt them. Some because they become enamored of the higher rate of fire and mobility after realizing that a behemoth of a BB is not fast enough on either front to satisfy their urges. Maybe they get murdered by CV air groups over and over and they want some sweet, sweet AA. Whatever the reason one chooses cruisers, the actual proper utilization of a cruiser is far more nuanced than these niche capabilities. The cruiser, in all the various lines, tiers and styles, requires much more skill, experience and battle IQ than any other ship class to run properly, and even more to truly accomplish the mission for which they are intended. This guide is intended to look at all of the roles and missions that a cruiser driver needs to fulfill, and an overview of various cruiser strengths, weaknesses and tactics. I’m only going to be looking at Tier 6 through Tier 10, and focus will primarily be Tier 7 and up unless there is specific information or educational benefits to discussing the lower tiered ships in a line. This guide is based completely on my experience in the game, and some hard data, but it is FULLY an opinion piece. Your mileage may vary, as may your opinions. But I wish somebody had told me all of this two years ago… Let’s get started!
v GLOSSARY OF TERMINOLOGY
Battle Flow: The developing movement and tactics employed by the opposition and the manner in which your teammates respond to them. If a captain does not know which way the battle is moving or general locations of enemy forces within the first 90 seconds of a battle, he is not paying attention or does not understand battle flow.
Battle IQ: The ability to see what ships and players are on the opposing team and before the game even starts have a general idea as to where the enemy ships are likely to show up once the battle is up and running. Directly related to Strategic and Tactical Anticipation.
Strategic Anticipation: At the beginning of a battle, the ability to see the map and know the most likely initial movements the enemy ships will make based in ship class and enemy platoon composition, enabling the captain to choose proactive, reactive or hybrid strategies.
Tactical Anticipation: Using experience and knowledge of the capabilities of enemy ships, a solid captain can change course or speed, or switch targets, etc based on what they see most often. This is where battle outcomes are often decided. It could be a basic as knowing that an enemy DD that just smoked up as it turned broadside has almost certainly launched torpedoes and that a super sweet full reverse, hard starboard turn (or port, whatever is needed) torpedo dodge is the right move. It could be as advanced as knowing that the cruiser that went behind that island is begging for you to put torps on the opposite side of the island where he won’t see them coming until he sails right into them as he pops out the other side.
· LIGHT CRUISERS, ARMORED CRUISERS, HEAVY CRUISERS
o Light Cruisers (CL) – Smaller displacement cruisers, lightly armored, generally with lots of destroyer caliber guns and a high rate of fire and useful consumables like smoke, radar, AA defense sonar, etc. Not super durable, but sneaky and quite capable of ridiculous feats in the right hands.
o Armored Cruisers (CA) – A heavier displacement ship, and usually much bigger guns. Generally, the heavy cruiser is defined as having main guns 8” or bigger, although there are exceptions. Generally better armor, sometimes MUCH better armor, they are often intended to bridge the gap between BB and DD or light cruiser. CA’s also benefit for most of the same consumables the CL lines do.
o Battle Cruisers – There are only a couple of them in the game, and they really ought to be classified, in the strictest terms of their use and capabilities within the WG definitions of ship classes, light battleships. The few heavies in the game are much more similar to a Scharnhorst or an Odin than they are to a Wichita or a Zao…
· BASIC CRUISER ROLES AND ASSOCIATED STRATEGIES AND TACTICS
o This will be the most important thing you will read in this guide, so get your pen out and WRITE THIS DOWN: A cruiser is a support ship, first and foremost. While a good cruiser driver can often pull off big damage numbers, sink lots of ships and snatch MVP medals, the fact is that cruisers just do not have the big alpha strike mojo of other ship classes. When utilized in support of a platoon or the team, I have had countless battles where I grabbed a cap, held it while driving enemy DDs out of it, and dodging CV air groups. Those battles often end with my damage done around 30K, MAYBE a kill or two, and a cap or two. But my patience and tactics ensured that the victory would be ours. It’s only sexy for people with big brains, Mongo like BATTLESHIP WITH BIG SMASH! So how do we really get in there and garner a reputation as a good cruiser driver? Support can mean a few different things, we’ll look at the most important styles of support:
o Escort: Let’s be real, we’ve all been that BB driver who heads out looking for a fight. Your cruiser guy swerves off and displays his potato flag and you’re like “Crap… where the hell are the enemy DDs???” just as the little bastards appear, 7km off your port side. While your guns are pointed to starboard… Cruisers are supposed to be handling that business. They sail with you, sharing AA umbrellas and hoping to shred the DD that makes the mistake of going detected too early… Or maybe you’re in a light cruiser, and you’re escorting a heavy cruiser, a little hunter killer duo. Same principle, little fella protects bigger fella while both slaughter the enemy. Or maybe your platoonmate wants to run his Roma, which has the AA power of Eric Cartman, so you run your USS Cleveland or Wichita and help him out with that AA while still looking to schwack DDs and cruisers who would harass your big pal..
o Area Denial: There are few things as disappointing as being in a DD and heading for the gap between a couple of islands and as you clear the first one there's a cruiser sitting there, dumping HE into your ass as you desperately pop smoke and turn to try and put out torps. Now your whole plan has changed and you’re on defense. Or you’re trying to capture and hold the cap, but every time you try to get into an advantageous position, that cruiser across the way starts spamming the crap outta you. The cap may not be lava, but that Chapayev is making it feel like it while keeping a rock between him and your pals… Or similarly, that same feller has hooked up with a DD and they are shutting down every attempt for you and your homies to push up that right side for the base cap…
o PPFPPM: Pew Pew F***ing Pew Per Minute. Some people call it spamming, but I prefer my scientific verbiage myself. In this role, your entire job is to ensure that you are doing whatever it takes to keep your guns firing at every possible moment. In a great PPFPM game, a cruiser driver might have up to 400 main gun hits in a battle, more if in the right ship… This is the simplest role to fulfill, and can be greatly appreciated by the rest of your team as you weaken enemy ships with fire and death until they become BB food… It’s pretty fun too, lol.
o Flying Squad: There is one other role, which is the one that keeps me in the cruiser game, and that is as a response unit. When I was in the Navy, this role was referred to as the Flying Squad. In the event of an emergency, the Flying Squad were the initial responders, they hauled ass to the scene of the emergency, the concept being that a quick response by well-trained sailors might be able to mitigate or even eliminate the emergency before it became a crisis. Cruisers excel in this role, as they generally have the speed, maneuverability and firepower to shore up a failing defense or give a push to a stalled offensive. This role, however, requires the most out of a captain, as you really need to be able to read the battleflow and anticipate potential problems both before they happen and as you respond.
· EQUIPMENT CHOICES
o Three slots, many choices, simple decision. Mostly. While there may be slightly different choices specific to a line or ship, there are really only two set-ups required for cruisers, I’ll provide a brief explanation of each one. Further details may be included in the ship-by-ship guide further along. My personal, strongly held, absolutely indisputable opinion on slot one is here though: DO NOT EVER CHOOSE THE RELOAD SPEED IN SLOT ONE. Think about it. Let’s use an average cruiser, the USS Cleveland as our example. Bone stock reload of main guns is 6.5 seconds. 5% of 6.5 seconds is 0.325. So now your reload is is an incredible 6.175 seconds. Is this improvement worth the 25% decrease in turret survivability? My experience has been that it is not. That faster reload isn’t paying off in reality as you start seeing those turrets go offline in battle. It’s a terrible trade, IMO… So now that the Gospel is given, let’s move on.
o The “Run and Gun”: This one is generally for the cruiser driver who prefers a disruptive, constant movement strategy, throwing as many shells downrange as possible, hunting other cruisers and DDs while running island to island. It’s often a high-risk style, but can generate crazy numbers when done right. To best equip yourself for this task, it’s quite simple. Slot one is always turret traverse, as you want to be able to get your guns on target as quickly as possible while dodging torps and BB salvos, responding to threats in a 360 degree battlespace. Slot two is propulsion, which improves both your acceleration AND deceleration. Being able to throw your ship in reverse from full speed ahead is one of the key components of torpedo and BB salvo dodging. My recommendation is rudder upgrade. Between improved steering response and the propulsion upgrade, there’s a pretty significant upgrade to your ability to dodge the hurty stuff. With these three slots filled, you have now maximized your ability to keep guns on target and made yourself a difficult target. Go get ‘em Tiger!
o The “Patient Pirate”: So you’ve figured out that your cruiser actually has ridiculous range and accuracy? Or maybe your cruiser has crazy shell arcs that enable you to drop your shells on folks hiding behind islands and can’t shoot you back… So you’re less likely to find yourself needing the turret traverse upgrade, might want some dispersion improvements there… Slot one is going to be dispersion. Slot two should still be a propulsion mod, as it allows you to retain some emergency maneuverability. Slot three is the interesting one. You can go rudder, it’s the easy choice. But if you’re a true Patient Pirate, willing to forego high DPM for DTM (Damage That Matters), you can equip concealment. If you have an accurate, rangey cruiser, you might consider skipping the brawling furball in the middle and look to hang back with a BB or near cover and put your rounds into ships that are out past your detection range by a significant margin. Throw out a couple of salvos, back up a bit and wait for your detection bloom to drop again, wash, rinse, repeat…
- SirNiflton’s Sea School Episode 2: Basic Tactics for New Cruiser Players
- Playing the cruiser metagame: 30mm overmatch is a net buff to high tier light cruisers
- Premium Propsal: HSwMS Göta Lejon as a Tier 7 Pan-European Light Cruiser
More about World of WarshipsPost: "The Cruiser Gospel According to DD966-Part One" specifically for the game World of Warships. Other useful information about this game:
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