WoWS – Avoiding being a Priority

I fell out of the habit of playing World of Warships.

I prefer sailing Cruisers, but once I hit Tier 5 I found them especially frustrating. I’ve already remarked on how I had changed my style of play. I couldn’t be too aggressive as I died too quickly, I couldn’t be too defensive as while I might live longer, I would not do enough damage to have an impact on the game. I got better at using islands for cover, maneuvering to make myself harder to hit, angling my ship against incoming fire, thinking where my route through the islands would leave me positioned many turns ahead, being very mindful of the alignment of my guns and so on. I tried to remember the basic strength and weaknesses of the ships I was opposed to, I looked at the alignment of their guns through binoculars, I tried to logically think ahead about their likely course and behaviour. I watched YouTube video after video, and captained Battleships against Cruisers to better understand what tactics worked and what did not, and made a real effort to improve my play.

The outcome was failure.

Any time I made the slightest of mistakes I always seemed to be punished severely for it. Two Battleship volleys was all it took to take me out of the game. Bang, 100 to 50% health, bang, 50 to 0% health. Multiple times I’ve been sunk on the very first volley of the match – despite taking evasive action the moment I was detected. I would have had to move directly into the path of initially errant shots.

Maybe it was because I always seemed to be bottom tier in my matches? Maybe I needed to push through to higher tier Cruisers? I looked at the stats of Tier 6 and 7 ships and they didn’t actually look that much better. Sometimes on paper they looked worse. (Subsequently I’ve realised the upgrade slots is what lets them shine.)

Maybe it was because I did not have any maximised Captains? Maybe some of those top tier skills make all the difference?

Maybe it is because I don’t use any mods?

This is not just a short run of bad luck – I’ve been playing for 5 months, and over 300 of my 600 matches have been in Cruisers. I had to put up my hand and admit – with embarrassment, that despite my efforts I was frankly just no good at the game. It wasn’t a deliberate decision to stop playing, but I had.

I logged back into the game when update 0.6.0 was released, some 11 days ago.  I still had premium time on the account so I thought I would have a look around.  There has been a lot of displeasure about some aspects of this update, but without a deep investment in the game none of it really worried me.

After updating Captain Skills, I grabbed a few cruisers and took them out for a spin.

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Obviously, I have taken this screen capture at a nice point in time and I expect things to return to their normal pair shape, but I’ve had 80+ matches since the update and it has been like a different game for me.

In reality, there is often only one person, or a small division of 2 or 3 people who actually decide each match and carry the rest of their team. I am not that person. I see them at the top of the result boards on each win. Since this last update however I have been close to the top of the results board, behind those people who carry the game, providing a useful contribution. When that person is not in my team and we lose, then I am finding myself in the top couple of the losers. I am not skilled enough to carry the team, but usually get something out of the game.

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There have been a couple mechanical reasons for the change.

Because of my Graphic Card upgrade I am now playing the game in full window mode at 3832×2085. There are aspects of the UI I wish I could upscale, but the full screen view seems to help with immersion, improving my situational awareness and allowed an extra level of finesse to my control inputs.

I have also moved away from firing by math (where you mentally calculate the lead based on time to target, estimated speed, direction of travel and what not), and moved back more to firing by feel. “That feels about right”. It is easier to do this with Cruisers as you can fire single spotting rounds, then walk the main salvo in on the target. Once zeroed in like that, you tend to be able to constantly rain shells down on them without over thinking.

Both these have made a difference. The biggest impact by far however has been the one point “Priority Target” skill.

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I have found it invaluable in a Destroyer or Cruiser. In the past evasive manoeuvring started as soon as you were detected, then ramped up when you saw shells coming your way. Such manoeuvring slows you down, throws your guns off the optimal bearings, takes you off your planned route, and often delays your arrival behind cover.

Now if you are spotted but no one is aiming at you, you can continue (torpedo awareness aside) towards your waypoint. If you know that one opponent aiming at you is that Battleship, you have 20+ seconds between each salvo were evasion doesn’t have to be your highest priority. If you have only one opponent aiming and you know it must be a Destroyer, you can respond differently than if you have Five opponents aiming at you. I still get one shot of the map at times, but I have found it far easier to place my ship more optimally, am staying alive longer on average, and having more of an impact on the game.

It is not perfect. I’ve already noticed that people can salvo you without the target indicator showing. I expect from the map that they were tracking another target in the same direction and switched over to me without specifically keying the UI to update. Once they fire however the indicator tends to come on soon after.

I expect this short flurry of win’s will die away as others work out the best offensive and defensive use of Targeting Priority, but in the meanwhile I’ve felt unusually almost competent, which has made the game much more enjoyable.

2 thoughts on “WoWS – Avoiding being a Priority

  1. T5/6/7 cruisers are in the hardest spot. It’s still a BB meta with a lot of T7/T8 BB and if you are bottom tier you will have issues. I agree that priority target is one of the best 1 point cruiser skills available (that and the double catapult fighter which functions as a cheap hydro).

    I don’t have enough patience to play anything but IJN DD’s really. I want to move forward not retreat.

    Do you ever watch videos or steams from players like iChaseGaming, Flamu or Notser? I can recommend all three.

    • I watch all those streamers, although did not previously check Flamu regularly. I might do so now. While interesting, I have found they don’t seem to sail the Tier V ships much, and being older players, don’t spend much time discussing more basic tactics.

      I’ve stepped up to multiple Tier 6 ships recently. While on paper they have not always been much better than their Tier V counterparts, I’ve found them more enjoyable to play. The cruisers Budyonny, Cleveland and Nurnberg tend to make is easier to contribute to the team. The Aoba however is like the Furutaka, and requires luck or more skill than I have to make an impact.

      The Fubuki is the first tier VI destroyer I’ve played, and it too seems a big step up from the Tier V ships. It doesn’t release the flood of Torpedoes the higher tier ships seem to, but I’ve found it fun and effective.

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