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Friday, September 25, 2015

Fleet Friday: How to Win Ranked Battles

Mabrick's Ranked Battles as of 2015-09-25
Since Ranked Battles went live last week, I have played at least one game each time I've been able to play World of Warships. I have only played them using my Pensacola class cruiser. More on why down below. Of the seven battles I've been in, my team has only lost the first battle. There was a reason for this, which I will discuss below. Overall I am pleased with my performance in Ranked Battles. I have only destroyed five ships and 27 aircraft, but I've been a member of the team and done my part. Mostly that has been providing screening and AA support to our battleships. But enough about me. What I really want to discuss is what works in Ranked Battles and what doesn't.

What Works

First and foremost, fleets need to stay together. At a minimum this means carriers, battleships and cruisers. Destroyers are a special case which I will discuss separately. All ranked battles (almost) always have one carrier and two battleships. I've seen no more than two destroyers on a team, though my statistical sample is fairly low. Typically I have only seen one destroyer per team. That leaves two or three cruisers. Since ranked battles are tier VI and VII ships only, that means the cruisers are the bulk of the ship based AA assets. There is another, but more on that in a moment as well. They must stay close to the battleships if those capital ships are to survive. It is also crucial they place themselves properly. They need to be between the fleet and the enemy a couple of kilometers ahead of the battleships. This keeps them in AA range and also screens for destroyers. Taking out the enemy destroyers that get past the fleet's destroyer(s) is the primary function of these two cruisers. They should keep HE loaded until they are dealt with, though this will be the case in most tier VI and VII cruisers without 203 mm guns.

If there are only two cruisers they need to be the corners of a box around the battleships and carrier. If three cruisers are available, the third should be between and no more than one kilometer behind the battleships. It should be the strongest AA ship. This will maximize its AA potential. It should be ready to race to the side from which the enemy aircraft approach. It is the responsibility of the cruiser commander to make this happen. The battleships are too slow to make it happen and need to concentrate on the opening long-range battle. The only thing the battleship commanders need to do is stay close together, preferably within a kilometer of each other, so the AA umbrella covers them both.

The carrier needs to stay behind and between the battleships no further than a kilometer. It should position itself directly behind the third cruiser if available. It should keep at least one squadron of fighters patrolling over the fleet at all times. This is actually the primary protection against the enemy torpedo bombers. The carrier commander must do everything possible to keep the carrier and both battleships afloat. I believe this is more important even than sinking enemy ships. Without the two battleships, victory will be very difficult. The fleet needs that firepower. The carrier needs to stay with the battleships unless it begins taking fire. Then if can either back off or, better yet, the battleships can prioritize the ship(s) firing at the carrier for destruction.

The battleships need to work together. They need to fire on the same target at the same time. Stick to that target until it is sunk, then move onto the next target. Ignore destroyers. Your destroyer and cruiser commanders will deal with them. If they don't, you will likely lose anyway so at least do your job, which is bringing massive damage onto the enemy fleet.

Destroyer captains, don't be a lone wolf. You have two competing primary tasks. You need to take the capture point first, or at least contest it, and you need to kill the enemy destroyer(s.) As they will be moving into the cap circle too, these goals are not opposed, merely competing. Fortunately you can do both simultaneously in most instances. You must not go after capital ships until the enemy fleet is stripped of its destroyers - period. Also, try not to get much further than seven kilometers in front of your fleet. You are the battleships' forward observer. If you can spot ships and stay hidden while capping or contesting cap, that is the best thing you can do for the fleet in the first few minutes. Like the cruisers, your job is not to sink enemy ships. It is to enable the battleships to sink enemy ships. If you are spotted, by staying within seven kilometers you will get supporting fire from your cruisers. Pop smoke but stay in the cloud so they can continue firing at whatever ship spotted you. If that other ship is an enemy destroyer, feel free to join in. If it is a cruiser, stay hidden and stay alive. And I hope this isn't news to you, but keep moving.

Lastly, take at least one of the capture points no matter what. If you do not, you will lose the game every time. My Ranked Battle last night was a prime example.

An Example of How to Win

This was an odd Ranked Battle as each side had three battleships. It's the first time I'd seen that happen, but I guess it is possible. Here were the teams.

Ranked Battle 150924_193106 Teams
The enemy fleet and my fleet both went for the same capture point. Their fleet attempted to use islands outside the capture point to shield themselves and refused to move into the middle. Our destroyer, Nagato and I pushed directly into capture point A. Our destroyer, with my cruiser supporting, took out their destroyer. Our Nagato engaged their battleships. Seeing our "charge," the rest of our team followed - including our carrier who proceeded to move to take capture point B. Yes, the carrier took the capture point B - because team play. Here is the mini-map at that point.

Ranked Battle 150924_193106 Map A
Within seconds the Cleveland took out our destroyer. I engaged the Cleveland, but one of their Nagato landed a citadel on my Pensacola and we all know how that goes. Now, you are probably thinking we were at a disadvantage because we were down a destroyer and a cruiser to their destroyer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our Nagato then turned INTO the enemy fleet with our Fuso right behind him, now with the Atlanta now screening between the battleships and the enemy fleet, who was still playing the losing range game. He proceeded to sink the Nagato who sank me. He then engaged their Atlanta who finally decided to close for an attack. Our Atlanta joined her fire with the Nagato, and they sank the enemy Atlanta in short order, but not before it launched a devastating strike torpedo salvo against the Nagato. Here's where the battle stood at that point.

Ranked Battle 150924_193106 Map B
Yes, the Nagato took out three ships in is seemingly suicidal charge, but more importantly he drove the enemy even further from both capture points! The enemy fleet, not wishing to engage at close range, turned away from them. Just look at the mini-map. They took themselves out of the race. At this point my team was ahead 258 to 190 and the match was already decided. We didn't lose the capture points the rest of the match, even though by the end of it we were down to just a carrier and the Fuso, while they had a carrier, a Nagato and a New Mexico. Here's the final map.

Ranked Battle 150924_193106 Final Map
Their effort was far too little too late. Their battleships could never have taken both capture points before we got to the 800 points needed for victory.

What Doesn't Work

As this post is already pushing 1500 words, I'll bulletize this list without explanation. I think the above example is plenty illustrative.
  • Being a lone wolf
  • Not staying within support range
  • Carrier hunting (until the end game, if there is time)
  • Being timid
  • Playing the "range game"
  • Not taking capture points even if you get pummeled for it
Now, does this mean there aren't situations where some of those might be necessary? No, it does not. Battles, even virtual ones, are a dynamic event. No two are ever the same, so you can't claim one tactic/strategy will always work while certain others will always fail. But I'll tell you what, in the one Ranked Battle my team lost, the very first I played, we split our fleet, did not stay in supporting distance, and failed to take two of the three capture points. By the end of the game we held none. That game was more like a typical Random Battle free-for-all than a Ranked Battle, and it was an important lesson to me. So, what are the important lessons you've learned in Ranked Battles? Leave a comment and let us all know. Share a good or a bad experience. Together we can all get better. Cheers!

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