In this second part, Andrey Gashkov continues discussing the strengths and weaknesses of battleships and aircraft carriers, and introduces some winning tactics for both of these classes.
How are you going to keep it all balanced in battleship vs carrier fights?
Firstly, it should be highlighted that, like real life, carriers in World of Warships have a limited number of planes aboard, so the amount of attacks they can perform is restricted to about three per battle. If a battleship manages to survive several air strikes, it will likely have reached an effective firing range, so it is the aircraft carrier that is about to have a hard time. For example, during the course of the first ever clash between aircraft carriers and battleships, the German battlecruisers “Scharnhorst” and “Gneisenau” managed to approach HMS Glorious without being spotted and destroyed her with their large caliber cannons. Of course there were situations when aircraft carriers managed to win close fights but these may be considered to be extremely unusual situations.
In addition, in game, the map is small enough that there is no real place to hide such a large ship. So, once spotted, carriers will immediately became a primary target for all enemy units.
Secondly, we will have a “slotted” balancing algorithm – where a battleship will be equal to an aircraft carrier, or two cruisers, or four destroyers. So, the number of aircraft carriers per team will be far lower than that of other class ships.
Thirdly, battleships will be able to group up to use the “Anti-aircraft” formation that prevents enemy planes from easy attacks. So it will be the carriers who require the support of allied ships to break through the enemy shield of defense.
So, it turns out that the carrier’s role will largely depend on its tier?
Yes, you’re right. As per historical reality, our game will reflect the growing influence of carriers for higher tiers. So, at early stages they will generally act as reconnaissance units, used to “spot” enemies for the allied vessels. There will usually be two or three fighter squadrons and one squadron of torpedo planes aboard. It will be fairly easy to handle tiny groups like this, and so their effect on the battlefield will be quite modest. Further on, at higher tiers, heavy carriers will begin fielding dozens of plane squadrons, and can easily turn the tides in any battle.
All in all, aircraft carriers present new tactical strategies for players. You will be able to destroy enemy recon seaplanes with your fighter squadrons, making your opponents blind both partially and completely.
How will you handle Lexington or Akagi type carriers that are known to have been rebuilt from patterns of battle cruisers?
Yes, you’re right, these ships were actually rebuilt from cruisers and battleships. However, according to naval treaties that limited the number of them per fleet, it was then decided to turn these initial projects into aircraft carriers, We will have some of them present in the game in two variations (carrier / battleship), in the relevant tech trees. Won’t this confuse fans of military history? No, as we have seen in practice, most players understand that it is a unique opportunity to see and experience ships that were never built in real life.
So, which is tougher: the ‘elephant’ or the ‘whale’?
The outcome of such a battle would depend on numerous details. Despite all the pros of the carrier, the battleship has also a word to say.
For instance, the simple circular “Anti-aircraft arrangement” will effectively cover ships within it from any aerial attacks. So squadrons will have to return for refueling and leave their ship temporary disarmed, offering their enemies several minutes for attack. This time may be sufficient to approach firing distance and complete several salvos. Even a single unexpected raid of destroyers may disarm (if not destroy) a carrier, making it dodge from their attacks and keep it from launching any planes.
Ultimately, winning or losing a battle will largely depend on the player’s skill and experience, and their ability to rapidly adjust strategies to respond to the constantly changing battle situation. Generally, I guess such fights will be won by the smartest opponent, whether it be a whale or an elephant.