PREVIEW: High School Fleet Vessels

The following is a PREVIEW of the upcoming release of HSF Harekaze and HSF Graf Spee, two ships Wargaming very kindly provided me. The statistics and performance discussed here are still being evaluated by Wargaming’s developers and do not necessarily represent how the ships will appear when released.
I admit that when I heard about the crossover with High School Fleet (aka:  Haifuri or HSF), I had not watched the anime.  When I tried, my attempts were abortive to say the least.  The show was not my cup of tea.  I’m managing to stumble my way through them, albeit with frequent breaks.  I’ll get to the end before the ships get released, I swear.  So this review will be largely spoiler free.  Seeing the show explains a lot of the design decisions that Wargaming made when they included these vessels in World of Warships.  I applaud them for some of the bold choices they did make, ensuring that they could be enjoyed not just by fans of the show but by all players in World of Warships.
These decisions are most easily illustrated with HSF Graf Spee.  Stock, this is an identical clone to Admiral Graf Spee from the German tech tree.  There’s really only one place where the two ships differ and that’s in their choices of premium camouflage.  Admiral Graf Spee has just the one when you first get her — a tier 6+ standard (Type 10) which comes with the usual bonuses of 3% concealment, 4% increased dispersion to enemy fire and a 50% bonus to experience gains.  The HSF ships have two.
It’s the first of these two camouflage schemes that changes things.  The High School Fleets models themselves change depending on which camouflage is equipped.  When HSF Graf Spee wears the camouflage that represents the ship in the show, the model changes subtly.  The boat launches and rangefinder tower are different.  HSF Graf Spee gets a small mast on the bow but loses the observation deck behind the aft rangefinder.  The deck clutter moves around a little too.  When equipping the second camouflage, HSF Graf Spee is visually identical to Admiral Graf Spee, right down to the colour scheme.

It’s not just you.  The High School Fleet ships do not look like they belong in rave.  Their colour schemes are very subdued.   
Harekaze‘s changes are a little more dramatic.  Her first camouflage, again, models her as she appeared on the show.  Though she’s easily identifiable as a Kagero-class destroyer, she has two futuristic looking skiffs stored on deck, flanking her bridge.  The second camouflage scheme changes the model to a ship that wouldn’t be out of place at all in a historical setting.  The skiffs are removed and what could only be described as a “generic IJN premium camouflage” is applied to the whole ship with a mottled green dapple.
These alternative colour schemes are a godsend for those that aren’t fans of the show (or anime in general) as it gives them an alternative scheme that’s more in tune with the game’s normal aesthetic.  There is only one downside to these alternative colour schemes — they don’t enjoy quite the same bonus as the designs from the anime series.  HSF Graf Spee and HSF Harekaze‘s anime skins and models earn 100% bonus free experience on top of the usual Type 10 camo bonuses.  Their alternative colour schemes do not and are normal Type 10 camouflage.  Overall, the anime schemes aren’t nearly as garish as those we saw with Ars Nova:  Arpeggio of Blue Steel.  In fact, I would be so bold to say that HSF Graf Spee looks better than Admiral Graf Spee’s default scheme, unhistorical though it may be.
So while HSF Graf Spee is just a matter of picking a skin you like and enjoying all of the Admiral Graf Spee gameplay you want, HSF Harekaze is a different beast.
Harekaze is a fictional Kagero-class destroyer for the Japanese Navy.  Historically speaking, there was no Kagero-class destroyed named “Harekaze”, and there is only a very loose precedent for one of the additional hull options.  And yes, you did hear that right.  Harekaze has three different hull options to choose from.  And that’s pretty much the central theme to this vessel:  choice.  You’re spoiled for it.
The first hull option for Harekaze makes her little different from a stock-Kagero-class destroyer with the Rangefinder upgrade.  They share the same hit points, the same range and rate of fire with their main battery.  They have the same torpedo armament, surface detection, turning circle and rudder shift time.  Harekaze has much worse AA armament though, but compensates for this by being half a knot faster.
The second hull option may have been inspired by the Tan Yang, (formerly the Yukikaze) which had her 127mm/50 3rd Year type main battery replaced with the 100mm/65 Type 98 that we commonly associate with the Akizuki Harekaze with her B-Hull is armed with six of these 100mm guns.  This gives her a significant boost to her surface firepower as well as her anti-aircraft performance as these guns are dual purpose.  This does not affect any of her other statistics and these weapons perform identically to those found on Akizuki.
The third hull option again swaps her main battery out for something else — in this case, it’s a gun not yet seen as a primary armament in World of Warships.  Harekaze becomes armed with three (yes, only three) American 127mm/54 Mk39s.  These guns do appear in the game, but as the secondary armament for the tier 10 USN Carrier Midway.  These guns boast a great rate of fire, excellent fire chance and wicked-fast turret rotation.  Like the 100mm guns, these weapons are also dual-purpose.

HSF Harekaze, showing the two alternate colour schemes and the different weapon mounts. 
The last option is which Captain to use.  Harekaze comes with Akeno Misaki — the Captain of Harekaze from the anime.  HSF Graf Spee comes with Thea Kreutzer (yes, I rolled my eyes at that name too).  Unlike with the Arpeggio of Blue Steel vessels, High School Fleet ships may be used as a trainer for your regular commanders.  In addition, Akeno and Thea count as normal Japanese and German commanders respectively.  They can command any premium ship of their nation.  They can also be trained to command any normal vessel within their respective nations too with the usual xp penalty.
Be aware, however, that having them command any of your vessel changes all of the voices in the game to the characters from the show to simulate the fleets being commanded by the Blue Mermaids.  This overrides all of your voice settings (so no making a teenaged girl sound like Steven Segal) while you’re sailing with either of them.
So while the thought of anime crossover may turn some players away — it really shouldn’t.  HSF Graf Spee represents the first time (for the NA server) to get a hold of the Admiral Graf Spee since it was first released over New Year’s.  HSF Harekaze finally provides the IJN a high tier destroyer trainer that’s perfect for not only your torpedo-boat Captains, but also your gunship Captains from Akizuki.  I’m quite excited to see how (and if) these ships will change before release.  They feel ready to me.
Maybe I can get finished the series in time before they come out.

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