Intro and some background for my absence
I actually had a long paragraph explaining why, but Blogger mysteriously ate it so I'll just say that some drama on Reddit happened which put me off from MWO and the community for a while. I might be overreacting because some people were mean to me on the internet, but please consider that I do this just to get away from negative stuff in my life. When they start happening here as well, let's just say it's not good motivation.
Finally, new content!Lots of things happened in the meanwhile though. They did a lot of balancing/polishing and recently introduced two whole new ship lines to the game. The first is the German cruiser line, which focuses on lobbing good AP shells at extreme range. I checked out the line and they seemed pretty flawed to me compared to the well-rounded IJN Cruisers, so I decided to pass. The second is the Russian destroyer line which focuses on speed, guns and having more health. The torpedoes are very situational but up until later tiers they're one of the best torps to nuke other ships with. We'll get to that later.
As I was looking at the line, it stroke a chord with me. These ships had extremely good guns with great velocity. Sort of like a DD/CA hybrid in terms of ballistics. This is also the promise of the USN DD line, but if you played them then you know that their guns are very annoying to use. Their guns reach their peak with the unupgraded Nicholas with its 5x127/L50 guns and afterwards you're stuck with the short-barreled L38 all the way through to T10. What that means is that their guns have very low velocity and a steep trajectory. After 10 kilometers hitting anything moving fast becomes hard and after 12 kilometers you can only hit slow BBs reliably. Unless you can see into the future or good with trajectory calculations.
The Russian DDs don't have this problem. Their guns get much better at tier 5 and keep getting better as you move on. Not only their guns are of a higher caliber, but their barrels are also longer. Which means much higher velocity and a flatter trajectory. Which in turn, also means you can do considerable damage with AP shells as well. Shooting cruisers at maximum range is very easy and you can even hit non-maneuvering DDs without excessive leading. Their guns are simply a bliss. The ship line also keeps getting better as you move up, The lower tiers are dominated by low-range torpedo spammers but you get a considerable upgrade at Tier 4 with the Izy. Then, at Tier 5 you are introduced to a whole new series with the Gnevny and its quadruple 130mm guns. At Tier 7 there's another jump after you get triple turrets and turn into a mini-Atlanta with ludicrous speed. At Tier 10 the transformation to a light cruiser is essentially complete. There's always a reason to progress and "filler bad" ships are few.
Anyway, I'm currently up to Tier 7 after three days of intensive WoWs action and I thought I'd share my thoughts on each ship up until Tier 8 before I get too used to the higher tiers! Here we go.
Tier II - Storozhevoi
Tier III - Derzki
Tier IV - Izyaslav
Tier V - Gnevny
With the Gnevny you finally get the feeling that you have something for every situation. Get bounced by CLs? Pop smoke, switch to AP and beat them up. Is your team having problems with an enemy deathball? Stay at range, keep pestering them with HE and get some heat off of them. Did you find a Minekaze nearby? This is the ultimate cockblocker for Minekazes. Another DD foolish enough to engage you? Too bad your 65kt torps at close range are nearly unavoidable. A BB coming around a corner? Your torps do 14k damage each, just nuke it. Some BBs are competent enough to sail away while loading HE to buy time, so make sure you don't overcommit much.
That being said, when you get uptiered and meet some Clevelands and other T6 stuff, you feel that your range is lacking. At this tier you are unlikely to have the Advanced Fire Training (I didn't) so it's hard to engage them on your own terms. When you meet them, you also feel that only 4 guns is a bit lacking in terms of damage output.
Tier VI - Ognevoi
Again, you do pretty much what a Gnevny does. Harass at range, pop smoke when bigger ships are close and generally never stop firing your guns while looking for torping opportunities. Your big health pool will come in handy as cruisers at this tier tend to be very nasty (Clevelands, Aobas, Nürnbergs) and have a high volume of fire.
This ship is pretty much what it feels going from a Nicholas to Farragut or from a Minekaze to Mutsuki — "I thought these things were supposed to get better?!". There's a light at the end of the tunnel though. Namely, the Kiev.
Tier VII - Kiev
First, you get triple dual mount turrets. Two at the front, one at the back. The HE/AP spam from this thing is simply unbearable for your opponents. At 9% fire chance per shell, you'll light everyone you meet on fire. The gun placement ensures you can give your enemies minimal profile while still having two flamethrowers at front.
Second, the jump in speed is insane. This thing does 42.9 knots without any bonuses. When you activate engine boost it goes all the way up to 46 knots at which you are going much faster than most people anticipate. Believe me, only a handful people know how to properly lead a 46 knot DD. You can change flanks easily, kite opponents and be generally a massive douche to the enemy team. It does about 48 knots with the speed flag, enough to outrun low-tier carrier torps!
Third, you get a very nice upgrade to your torpedo armament. Now, you have the same speed torps of the Ognevoi but with 2x5 torp launchers. When you get to use this many torps and something is in range, there is no escape. You can saturate the whole sea with two wide spread shots and it only takes 1-2 to bring most people down or heavily cripple them. Fighting this thing under 4kms is suicide.
So we add everything together and what do we get? It's a mini-IJN cruiser. You eat other DDs for breakfast (no other DD can trade with its guns) with your superior guns and keep pestering cruisers and BBs with unending HE spam. It's a beast. It's entirely possible to get off about 500 shots in a match and if you get used to leading well (trivial with 130mms) it's entirely possible to get 50k HE damage easily, not counting additional AP, fire or torp damage. This thing excels at every situation and will dominate every T7 match easily. If you want to get your daily confederate flag; hands off that Cleveland, this is your ship!
The only weakness is very weak AA and somewhat bad maneuverability. Carriers at this tier start becoming very aware of enemy DDs and will keep throwing dive bombers at you as soon as they pick you up as a threat. I've had some pissed off carriers keeping 2 dive bomber and 2 torpedo squadrons on top of my smoke for minutes to pick me off.
Other gameplay remarksThe Russian DDs manage to fill a niche between the cruisers and the DDs. As such, they also come with higher visibility. You should be ready to be spotted at almost all times, as you'll be using your guns a lot. This is not usually a problem as your speed and high health let you keep trucking for a long time. However it's annoying when dealing with other DDs, as they will always detect you first and get torps off before you get a bearing on them. Stealth fire is possible with AFT, but I haven't had much experience with it yet and the buffer zone at lower tiers is extremely tight.
Clevelands at lower tiers will usually be your main concern, but they're not that hard to deal with. The trick is using their horrible shell ballistics against them. I found out that if you keep your range above 10 kms, Cleves will have extremely hard time landing shells on you. Above 12kms they practically become non-threats if you don't insist on going in a straight line. If you're getting too much heat, it's also a good idea to stop firing and disappear for a few seconds and let the enemy switch targets.