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A Newb's Guide to World of Warships

Are you a fan of World of Tanks? Did you plunge into to the Warships beta by buying a premium ship, but need help making sense of the game? This guide should help you sort things out. First off, World of Warships is not World of Tanks. It has its own unique rhythms and techniques and tactics that work in WoT don’t translate well – destroyers are not light tanks, cruisers are not mediums, battleships are not heavies, and carriers are definitely not arty. This is still a fun and fascinating game, though, with a lot of complex mechanics to learn. This guide will help you be prepared so you won’t have to swim with the sharks.

Ship Classes
Cruisers (CA or CL)
  • Cruisers are the most versatile ships. Their many small to medium caliber guns are easier to aim than massive battleship turrets, they’re less fragile than destroyers, and don’t require as much planning and strategic thought as carriers. They’re easy to learn – just don’t try to take on a battleship by yourself.
  • Most Japanese and some American cruisers come with torpedoes, but these are strictly a weapon of last resort – don’t rely on them.
  • Cruisers are most powerful when working with other ship types – they can protect battleships from destroyers and torpedo bombers, distract an enemy battleship while a destroyer closes for the kill, or harass an enemy carrier. Cruisers get a special AA barrage ability to disrupt attacking enemy bombers.
Battleships (BB)
  • Dreadnoughts! Castles of steel! Leviathans of the sea! These are the big bad boys of the ocean. They can take a lot of punishment and their big guns dish it out. You can also use their unique ability to repair your hit points. Battleships have their limitations, though – they are un-maneuverable and their big guns have difficulty tracking nimble destroyers or cruisers. Watch out for destroyers and torpedo bombers; they can sink you quickly!
Destroyers (DD)
  • DDs are the game’s ninja assassins. Small and unarmored, they are fast and can sink even the mightiest battleships with their torpedoes. Japanese and American destroyers are radically different – IJN DDs have longer range torpedoes and so can snipe from beyond visual range. Americans must close to within spitting distance to hit, meaning they are more reliant on their smoke screen ability.
Carriers (CV)
  • Aircraft carriers were queens of the sea in real life. They’re still lethal in World of Warships, but play more of a supporting role and the small map sizes mean you have to be careful, lest you blunder into range of an enemy battleship!
  • CVs play more like an RTS, directing their squadrons from an overhead view. A carrier skipper should always be focused on the big picture, using their planes to scout out enemy forces, spot hidden destroyers, and lend support where it is most needed.
  • Fighter squadrons are best used for scouting and, of course, shooting down enemy planes.
  • Torpedo bombers can wreck battleships, but have difficulty hitting nimble cruisers and destroyers. Use the manual drop ability for maximum effectiveness (hold down the alt key by default).
  • Dive bombers don’t do a lot of damage, but are better at hitting maneuvering targets than TBs. They’re also useful for scouting, doing critical damage to larger ships, setting carriers on fire (preventing them from launching or recovering aircraft), or distracting AAA from your torpedo bombers. Dive bombers are also the only planes that can reliably attack destroyers.
How to Not Be Seen
Spotting works in the opposite way from World of Tanks. In WoT, tanks have a maximum range at which they can spot enemy tanks. In WoWS, ships are themselves detected at a maximum range. So, you can see a battleship coming from a mile off, but a destroyer can sneak right into torpedo range. Before you take a ship out, especially a destroyer, take a second to memorize the range at which they can be spotted from the air and by surface units. If you want to stay hidden, watch how far away enemy units are and don’t let enemies within that magic radius.

Destroyers have a couple extra tricks up their sleeves. Smoke screens conceal you and your allies in a bank of fog, which can only be seen through at close range. Smoke lets you sneak up on enemy ships or can cover your escape after launching a spread of torpedoes. Destroyers should also turn off their AAA by pressing the P key – if you’re lying doggo in a smoke cloud or behind an island, you don’t want some idiot with a Bofors to give away your position. Once you’re spotted, go hogwild and try to shoot down some planes, just don’t give up your location before you have to.

Torpedo in the Water
There’s an art to using and avoiding torpedoes. Many beta testers complain that torpedoes are overpowered and that’s not true – there are ways to minimize your risks and outfox even the best destroyer or carrier skipper. First, don’t put yourself in a position to be torpedoed! Don’t go anywhere un-escorted and avoid narrow straits or places where your line of sight is limited. Destroyers, especially American destroyers, thrive in places where they can pop in and out from behind islands.

Second, don’t sail in a straight line. It’s tempting to just keep going forward when you’re working on hitting a distant target, but throw in some zig zags. Not only will you throw off some enemy shots, even a gentle turn could screw up a Japanese destroyer’s long range shot.

Third, always keep your situational awareness. Don’t just tunnel vision on a target in sniper view – keep an eye on the minimap and use right click to check around you between shots. You might spot an incoming spread of torpedoes or bombers before the game warns you.

Finally, learn to maneuver. If you see a flight of TBs or a destroyer coming at you, turn either towards or away from them to minimize your profile. I prefer turning away because it draws out the chase and gives your guns more time to work over your attackers. If you get caught by surprise, maneuver as radically as you can. Don’t dither – you don’t have time to waste – throw your ship into full reverse and TURN. You might not dodge all the fish, but you could turn a certain death into minor damage. And please, please don’t sit still – if you’re dead in the water, you might as well be wearing a big sign that says “easy target.”

BOOM! Headshot!
Most shots that hit you will just do minor damage, but every once in a while you’ll take a big one out of the blue and wonder “Hey, where’d half of my health pool go?” That means your ship was hit in the “citadel,” the most armored portion of the ship, which protects your engines, magazines, and other essential equipment. The good news is you can do it right back. Learn to aim for enemy ships’ funnels and turrets, preferably down by the waterline. If your guns are big enough and loaded with AP (and the RNG gods are feeling merciful), you’ll get a citadel penetration and your enemy will be in a world of hurt. Want to hurt a cruiser or destroyer’s ability to maneuver, setting them up for a torpedo spread or a citadel hit? Fire HE at their stern and funnels and you have a chance to knock out their engine or rudder.
Bon Voyage!
I hope this guide has given you a basic grounding in WoWS and will let you get a leg over the competition. There’s a lot more to discuss – aerial torpedo attacks, ammunition choices, map tactics, upgrades, captain skills . . . and I hope to cover those in future installments. In the meantime, good hunting!

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    Cruiser Katori (tier 1).
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    Battleship Kawachi (tier 3).
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    Perfect manual torpedo aim drop.
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    Aim here for citadel hits!
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    Destroyers running aground is a death sentence.
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    Dodging a spread of torpedoes.
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    Carrier strategic view.
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    Buffalo wing.

About the Author

About Matt Richardson (mtheron)

Matt Richardson is a freelance social media consultant and web traffic analyst in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has a degree in History from Davidson College, with a special interest in military history and the Civil War. He has rotted his mind with video games since childhood. You can follow Matt a...