Ibuki review (Tier 9 IJN Cruiser)

Congratulations, you made it to Tier 9! Now, the only thing that stands between you and the mighty Zao is the long Ibuki grind. Coming down from the rush of hilariously powerful T7 Myoko and to a lesser extend (after the nerfs) the T8 Mogami, you are probably asking for another hefty upgrade. However, at first, the Ibuki is anything but an upgrade. It's the same old chassis you've been using since T7 with the same old guns since T5. It turns out it's there to give you a chance to perfect your mechanics, adjust to T10 gameplay and ultimately prepare you for the Zao.

Under the hood: More of the same

The Ibuki is virtually identical to the Mogami. Same hull, same turret and torpedo launcher layout. The Mogami isn't a bad ship by any means even after the nerfs, but the feeling of more of the same is a bit daunting at first. Most of the other lines get a hefty firepower/armor upgrade at Tier 9 such as the jump from the Tashkent to Udaloi, Admiral Hipper to Roon, New Orleans to Baltimore, Benson to Fletcher and so on. However you are still stuck with the same old chassis. A still very capable but also an increasingly obsoleted one.

Before we move on with the gameplay, let's take a look at what really changes between the Mogami and the Ibuki.

The good ol' trusties are indeed getting old
The biggest change between the both is the range improvement. The Mogami is capped at 15.8 kilometers while the Ibuki starts with 15km base and afterwards have the option for a 16.5km upgrade. This can further be upgraded to 19.2km with the GFCS III mod. On the downside, you still use the same guns and fire the same shells so those shots to 19.2 kilometers take a whopping 13 seconds. More on the implications of this later.

The AA gets a rather hefty upgrade as well. It's actually very close to the Myoko's final layout, but with the addition of 100mm DP turrets and 40mm Bofors guns that double the DPS of the Mogami C hull. At 238 DPS it's still has the weakest AA of tier 9 cruisers, but not by a huge margin like the Mogami which struggles to shoot down planes even with Defensive AA active.

The Ibuki sports decent AA thanks to its 100mm DP guns
Surprisingly you also get an offer for better torps with more damage and faster speed. The upgrade gives you 21k damage and 67kt torps for the low cost of 28k XP and 2.4M credits. I honestly did not see the value in this upgrade as the torps on IJN cruisers are very situational. It simply detracts from your Zao grind.

Lastly, the survivability. Now, for some reason the Ibuki gets 39000 HP instead of usual 39200 HPdespite supposedly having better armor protection. However you get access to the repair party which helps massively with the survivability. As I explained in my Atago review, the repair party lets you recover from massive HE damage and fires as well as getting citadeled by BBs. Which in turn lets you be much more aggressive. It's a great ability but then again, every other T9 and T10 cruisers have it. Also, even the Atago benefits more from it because it has 1100HP over the Ibuki, so it repairs more with each use.

Not everything is an improvement though. Your base concealment range jumps from 12.1 to 12.6 kilometers which means your absolute best concealment jumps from 9.4 to 9.7 kilometers. Not even mentioning the Atago's amazing 9.1 km concealment. This looks like a small jump but you definitely feel the pain of it. At later tiers concealment becomes very important and you need every meter of it.

As you can see, it's a bit of a mixed bag. Nothing really changes and this is not good news because a lot changes for the other T9 cruisers. However, it turns out this good ol' cruiser hull has one extra trick up its sleeve.

On the field: Proto-Zao

When I first started playing with the Ibuki and played it like my aggressive Mogami/Atago style, I got my ass handed out to me, repeatedly. You just can't do that "lurk on someone and then just HE them to death" trick anymore, at least not consistently. Even weakened opponents can make comebacks due to sheer firepower and better armor.

Its HE is still the best for getting rid of DDs
At Tier 9 you're mostly playing with Tier 10's in your matches and they simply outpower you so much. I'm talking about an environment where Zao's lurk the waters, DMs pop up and stuff HE/AP in people's faces and opportunistic Hindenburgs that seek citadels from 20 kilometers. Not even mentioning BBs, DDs and CVs, it's very rough.

Then, after a few matches and a couple of millions of upgrades later, something clicked with me. Do you remember that range upgrade the Ibuki gets? The one that pushes your range to 19.2 kilometers? This is what Wargaming wants you to learn with the Ibuki. You learn a critical component of what makes the Zao makes such an annoying beast; stealth shooting. Let me remind you that by the time you get an Ibuki, you should have a captain with Demolition Expert and Concealment Expert skill.

With all the buffs you can get, you may remember that I mentioned a 9.7 kilometer concealment distance. Firing adds a ~5 kilometer penalty so that means after 15 kilometers you are stealth firing. How you do in late-tier matches depend a lot on your ability to capitalize on this. Until you get better at it, the Ibuki will feel nothing but a downgrade. Especially compared to an Atago.

Shooting at such long ranges will not be easy though. It takes 10 seconds at 15 kilometers for your shells to land and a lot can happen in the meanwhile. At 19.2 kilometers it takes almost 14 seconds. It sounds terrible but as you keep playing, you'll see that it's very possible to hit ships at that range. BBs obviously are the easiest to hit followed by less maneuverable German and Russian cruisers. Your job is to harass and start fires on these ships all match long. When you have DDs nearby, you can switch to a more aggressive Mogami style gameplay where you use your stealth to sneak up on and ambush them.

Your most delicious victims are going to be late tier BBs which go stationary or back up casually while pointing their bows at your team. Then you apply some stealth 203mms to those BBs, set them on fire with 20% fire chance and suddenly they start regretting their decisions. They will be absolutely helpless as you start raging fires on their ships.

When you're fighting enemies outside your stealth-firing range, you can still use your excellent concealment in your favor. However this requires you to be very aware of your surroundings. What I like to do is watch a juicy target (preferably a BB) and wait until they're distracted by a friendly. Then you fire at them right after they fire themselves, ensuring no retaliation as I reveal my ship. Afterwards you can choose to simply disappear again after you reload or keep firing on them if you see no reaction.

Despite being the same old shells from T5, your HE shells still do a ridiculous amount of damage. A good hit to superstructure will usually do 4-7k damage plus an occasional fire. Afterwards you can expect about 2-3k per salvo. If you catch a DD broadside at close range you can expect up to 10k damage with a good aim. For some reason I also detonated an unusual amount of DDs in my Ibuki.

Lastly, the Ibuki is not just about shooting. It's also about learning late-tier survival. You can't just start turning and expect people to miss, they don't. You need to learn mind gaming people and trick them into missing. For example using the throttle aggressively when you're broadside will save you from BB/CA deletions. You will have to learn surviving during the 20 seconds concealment penalty due to shooting.


The Ibuki is a pain right until you upgrade it fully and then spend a couple of dozen matches learning how to play it. It indeed worked out just like that in my case as after initially absolutely hating it. I ended up with 65% winrate, 80.000 damage and 2k XP when I unlocked the Zao. This is purely due stealth firing mechanics and the extra damage that comes with it.

Unfortunately, if you're going for the Zao and if you have an Atago like me, keeping the Ibuki isn't really worth it. The Zao is better at stealth shooting and it has amazing shell velocity and trajectory. The Atago is better at being an aggressive CA with its resilience and better matchmaking due to it being a Tier 8. However, if you're coming from the Mogami, it's a decent upgrade. Even though the only "upgrade" worth mentioning is the extra range, it completely changes how you play it.
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About Rak

I'm an engineer who likes to write extremely long articles about games that border simulation and mainstream.
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