Fleet Friday: F All for Balance

I’ve had a completely uninspiring week of World of Warships. It was so uninspiring I spent a few hours in Elite: Dangerous finishing the exploration journey I was on before World of Warships went into open beta. I am finding my slog through the middle tiers of the U.S. cruiser line somewhat disheartening.

Be warned, there may be bitching ahead!

Let’s start with the Pensacola. It’s a great anti-aircraft (AA) platform, especially if you go for the upgrades AA Gun Modification 1, which gives your AA guns a 20% survival bonus, and AA Guns Modification 2, which increases your AA range by 20%. A commander with Basic and Advanced Firing Training only makes it better with a further 10% increase in AA efficiency and another 20% improvement in AA range. In one of my games this weekend I shot down 20 airplanes attacking our fleet’s aircraft carrier. It was an Independence class carrier so had decent AA of its own as well as fighters. It shot down 37 attacking aircraft. Combined we took out almost seven flights in a match with one carrier per side. Our carrier was not hit by a single bomb or torpedo. The enemy planes never had time to drop them. You don’t have to sink the enemy carrier to render it useless.

The issue I have with the Pensacola is its main guns. Yes, they are 8″ guns making the Pensacola nominally a heavy cruiser. But they fire once every 15 seconds doing 2800 HE and 4600 AP damage in a fully upgraded ship. Compare this to the Cleveland class cruiser that has twice the firing rate and does 2200/3200 damage. In one minute the Pensacola, if it hits will all shells, can do a maximum of 112,000/192,000 damage. The Cleveland class can do 211,200/307,200. Why would I want a Pensacola in a surface engagement? That’s what has me frustrated. It’s a heavy cruiser but it loses every time to a Cleveland unless you have impeccable aim and hit a citadel at least once. And while you’re trying to carefully aim and do that, the Cleveland is raining HE on you and burning you down to the waterline. It’s a race you can’t really win.

I’ve noticed one advantage to the 8″ guns on the Pensacola. They can penetrate the armor on at least a New Mexico class battleship and get a citadel hit. I’ve done it. But to paraphrase General Ackbar, you won’t last long against those enemy battleships. Her shells will go trough your armor like it wasn’t even there. And they have a repair capability. You don’t. Oh, and battleships just love to shoot all the cruisers first, even when our battleships are also close at hand. It gives them an easy kill before our destroyers/carriers sink their lumbering aft with torpedoes.

The other thing a Pensacola class cruiser can do is take four torpedo hits meant for your fleet carrier and survive. Not that it is a lot of fun making that sacrifice. But when you look at it analytically, that carrier has far more damage potential than you do. Too bad Wargaming doesn’t give experience for being such a team player.

But all that isn’t the start of my whine. My whine starts with the match maker. At this stage of the open beta, it seems there are lots of Tier V and lower players, and lots of Tier VIII and higher players. Since the Pensacola is a tier VII ship, guess the group with whom you get to play? Did you know a Tier VIII or IX battleship can shoot HE at a Pensacola and sink it with near misses at 18 kilometers? No, I’m not really exaggerating.

I’d like to think the U.S. cruiser line will get better with the New Orléans class, but the damage potential is only 108,360/178,020 because of the loss of a gun. However, six of them fire forward so it is better than a charging Omaha. The Baltimore class only has nine guns as well, and only gets you back to a damage potential commiserate to the Pensacola, but at least it has better armor. It’s the Tier X Des Moines that really sings songs of destruction. With its auto-loading 8″ guns, its damage potential is a staggering 252,000/450,000! I’ve only seen one in a match, and thankfully I did not have to go up against it.

I find that I am starting to play as many matches in my Omaha class cruiser as my Pensacola. I kept it as it has torpedoes, and I am finding it more fun to play. I don’t like getting brutalized game after game in the Pensacola, and the old Omaha can dish out a potential 146,300/206,150 even taking into account that no more than seven of its guns can be brought to target at any given angle. It makes me want to just use it to go through the rest of the U.S. cruiser line until I can sail a Des Moines. Is that wrong?

So, there’s my bitch. Do you agree or disagree with my assessment of the Pensacola, and the top half of the U.S. cruiser line in general? What am I missing? Are lower tier U.S. cruisers just overpowered and in need of a nerf? Does the Pensacola, et al, have any redeeming values beyond their AA capabilities? Let me know in the comments – and thanks.

6 comments on “Fleet Friday: F All for Balance

  1. I’m only at the Omaha level yet, but my original plan was to just stop after completing the Cleveland. It’s AA is good enough and those guns… It can almost shoot the third salvo before the first one arrives. On the other hand, it’s guns are like paper. I’m watching how other Cleves play when my ship is already sunk and there’s hardly a match, where a half-hp Cleve still has all it’s guns operational. The Pensacola might have sturdier guns?
    The T5 IJN Furutaka is in the same boots as the Pensacola I bet. It’s guns are a big let down compared to the T4 Kuma’s and the torps aren’t that much better either.

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  2. Took a good look at my stats since I had the feeling I had better results in my Phoenix as the Omaha but I do have better performance with the Omaha, it’s just that other players are getting more skilled at higher levels.

    At least US cruisers have guns. IJN cruisers seems more like light battleships, Haven’t yet undocked my Furutaka.

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  3. So, not trying to make things worse but a Cleveland with the level 4 Commanders upgrade for +20% range with artillery up to 155mm means the Cleveland has a 17.2 km range or about 2 km farther than the Pensacola. Something to look forward to however is the decreased spotted range of the New Orleans, Baltimore and Des Moines. It might be worth it to look into the level 5 Commanders ability of -12% to cruisers. The ability to punch out to 14-16 km yet only having a 11.5 spotted range could be useful especially when shooting at those Tier 8+ Battleships

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    • Yes, indeed! I was a victim of that range versus spotting distance on Friday while playing my Omaha on a Fault Line three cap point map. I was pummeled by two divisioned Clevelands I couldn’t even see. If there is one thing I’d nerf the Cleveland for is that range. Unless there is a gun elevation issue (and there is not,) a 152mm gun should not out range a 203mm gun. Ballistics don’t work that way. If you look at Wikipedia’s pages for the two gun types, the 6″/47 had a maximum range of 14.5 km at 41 degrees elevation and the 8″/55 a range of 27 km at 41 degrees elevation. From that I’d also say the Pensacola needs a range buff!

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6%22/47_caliber_Mark_16_gun

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8%22/55_caliber_gun

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  4. Strangely, as the Cleveland to your Pensacola, I find it awfully hard to damage you with AP or HE. AP seems to be despairingly ineffective if it hits, and HE suffers from the ’17 hits and one fire started’ phenomenon that I keep suffering. (I counted my average hit damage with AP, and it seems to be 800 or so. When I’m being it for double that, I’m losing badly)

    The advantage of the Pensacola is in the skirmishing ability, I thought. I think that they have longer range? This might be a delusion I’ve picked up after grinding through the upgrades to finally get the second set of Cleveland guns, which seem to suck even worse due to their awful turning times.

    At least they’re all better than the South Carolina, which I have bought, grinded and still find irredeemable. Battleship guns are utterly terrible, and I’ve a mind to court-martial my Gunlayers for incompetence. Or perhaps request a general recall and refit due to sabotage.

    I think the advantage of the Pensacola is that your armour means you’re unlikely to be citadelled, and your guns are more likely to citadel. In essence, it is more like a battleship than a cruiser.

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  5. Someone is learning why cruiser commands were considered career poison in WW2. Lots and lots of them were treaty ships imposed on the U.S. Navy by the Washington Naval Treaty. The Pensacola is high on that list.

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