First Impressions: Henri IV

The following is a PREVIEW of the upcoming release of Henri IV, a ship provided to me by Wargaming. This is how the ship appeared in the testing period up to and including the publish date of April 9th, 2017. The statistics and performance discussed here are still being evaluated by Wargaming’s developers and do not necessarily represent how the ship will appear when released.


Is this a tier 10 cruiser or a battleship?  Like seriously, it’s stonkin’ huge.  I know the joke’s already been made with Hindenburg. And, yes, Moskva is simply ginormous, but c’mon.
This preview will follow a different format from my usual articles.  Instead of looking at the ship’s statistics in detail and theory-crafting the best use of the ship, I am equipping my ship with consumables and modules that are pretty generic and dumping a bunch of ubiquitous skills on a Captain.  Then, I take her out blind with little idea of what her actual stats are like.
To this end, I equipped Henri IV with:
  •  Damage Control Party, Defensive Fire, Engine Boost and Repair Party
  • For modules I used, Main Armament Mod 1, Aiming Systems Mod 1, Main Battery Mod 3, Damage Control Mod 1, Steering Gears Mod 2 and Concealment System Mod 1
  • I used a 10pt Captain with Priority Target, Adrenaline Rush, Demolition Expert and Concealment Expert.
As I played, I made notes of things I liked and things I didn’t like about the ship.  These are not substantiated with facts — they are purely anecdotal observations. The idea here is to collect as thorough a look at the ship as I can in a handful of games.  Here’s what I observed:
Positive Perceptions
  • She’s pretty darned fast which is great.
  • Her AP can be downright monstrous against cruisers.  She stacks citadels in a real hurry which is awesomes but I seem to have to get in closer to do it reliably.
  • HE hits pretty hard.
  • Shell ballistics seem okay — their lead times aren’t battleship good, though.
  • Range is nice.  Not great, but nice.
Negative Perceptions
  • Horrible turret traverse.  These really feel like battleship caliber guns in slow moving turrets.
  • Bad gun arcs.  I really had to swing the ship about to bring all of my guns to bear, exposing way too much of my side to do it.
  • She handles like a pregnant yak in a mud wallow.
  • Guns don’t reload very quickly.  I mean, for the damage output that I’m doing per volley, I would expect her shells to hit harder or her rate of fire to be faster.  Maybe I’m just being greedy.
  • Torpedoes are garbage.  The 9km range at tier 10, coupled with only 3 tubes per side?  Blech.  Am I expected to be making better use of these to pad up her gun damage?
  • A plane consumable would have been nice — I feel kinda blind.  No radar or plane at tier 10 for a cruiser visible from orbit is just mean.
  • Her AA is pretty terrible.  She seems to launch fireworks in celebration to help guide enemy planes in.  She can’t even reliably shoot down spotter aircraft (!)
  • Horrible surface detection range.   I mean, I get it when I pull the trigger — I’m visible to everything within 19km and change.  But with a full stealth build I’m no more sneaky than an Iowa?  Seriously?

Henri IV’s reputation preceded her.  I was pretty weary of this ship going in and I’m sorry to say my prejudice felt validated in the first few games I played.  This was a shame too.  I got to division with DokturProfesor and we couldn’t make a very good go of it.  Anyway, let’s take a look at Henri IV”s actual stats and see how badly I had screwed things up…

Here comes the pain train…
Weapon System Feels
HE Spam wasn’t working — too many belt hits resulting in less damage.  Fires didn’t stack especially fast either.  AP seemed okay, so long as I could land hits at medium range.  The real problem was that at a distance, her AP’s performance fell away.  And in tier 10 matches, most of the shooting is happening at 16km+.  She seems built to work well at medium range, but being that close is exactly where I don’t want to be in this thing, given her piggish handling.  It’s hard to feel like I should be celebrating getting citadel hits at medium to close range when every other cruiser can manage the same. For having such big guns, Henri IV’s damage output feels lackluster.  It was a slow climb to get the numbers I wanted (and expected!) to see for a tier 10 cruiser.
Her gun handling wasn’t very comfortable for a cruiser.  It was slow — not quite Mogami slow, but slow enough to make me cringe and definitely slow enough that the ship could out turn her turrets during manoeuvres.  Her rear turret also has bad fire angles, which doesn’t help things.
Her torpedoes don’t seem to hit very hard — especially for only having three tubes.  The 9km range which is … well, I can make use of it only rarely in these higher tiered matches.  They’re alright when I survive to the later parts of the match but they’re pretty darned useless until then.
Weapon System Facts and Figures
  • Her rate of fire is the worst among the tier 10 cruisers. In ascending order of their reload speeds it’s: Minotaur (3.2s), Des Moines (5.5s), Hindenburg (10s), Moskva (10.4s), Zao (13.7s) and finally Henri IV (17.1s). Factor in the number of guns they shoot and you get the following RPM for each: Minotaur (188), Des Moines (98), Hindenburg (72), Zao (53), Moskva (52), and again Henri IV (32) at the back of the pack.
  • As a fire starter, Henri IV is lacking.  She lights 6.95 fires per minute stock.  Compare this to Zao (9.99), Des Moines (13.75), Hidenburg (9.36) and Moskva (8.83).
  • For such large caliber shells, they don’t hit especially hard at 6,200 AP damage and 3,400 HE (clearly her HE isn’t as good as I thought). This gives her a worse broadside alpha strike than Des Moines, Hindenburg and Zao. When you factor in her rate of fire, this also puts her DPM very firmly at the bottom of the pile. I really would expect her to deliver a monster alpha strike if they were going to shackle her with such a slow reload. She really doesn’t feel like a tier 10 with this damage output. It’s fine if Henri IV is meant to be the weakest of the tier 10 ships, but does it have to be by such a visible margin?
  • Her shell ballistics are alright, but they don’t match my optimism. She has an 845m/s muzzle velocity. To reach 15km it takes her shells 8.86s for AP and 9.39s for HE. This is comparable to Soviet 180mm guns found on Dmitri Donskoi and Molotov. So much for my hopes for rail-guns delivering freight trains.
  • As for her gun handling, part of the problem was my own fault for equipping Main Battery Modification 3, but only a small part.  Stock, Henri IV’s turret traverse is 32.7s for 180º — or about 5.5º per second. Clearly, I really have a thing against cruisers that can out turn their own turrets. Battleships? No problem. But cruisers? Evidently that makes me fume.
  • As for my suspicions of bad arcs, it’s only partially founded. A and B turrets have 300º firing arcs while C turret has 290º. So the ship has to angle out to 35º to fire all three gun turrets forward — which is exceptionally dangerous.
  • Henri IV’s guns can reach out to 19.1km .  This is the second highest reach among the tier 10 cruisers, behind Moskva at 19.4km.
  • Henri IV’s torpedoes are identical to those found on la Galissonnière at tier 6, except she gets 3 tubes per side instead of 2. They didn’t impress me at tier 6. They sure as hell aren’t welcome at tier 10.

Agility Feels
When you ask Henri IV to move, she complains like a kid at fat camp.  It takes a lot to get her going and when she’s finally underway, the movements are hardly what was asked of her.  It’s almost embarrassing to watch.  I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again:  She’s a battleship, not a cruiser when it comes to her handling.  Just ew.  And what’s worse, she still seems able to out turn her turrets!   At least she’s fast — so fast I largely forgot about her Engine Boost consumable, so that’s okay, I guess.

 Agility Facts and Figures
  • Henri IV’s apparently piggish handling is due to her large turning circle of 840m and 9.5s rudder shift time with Steering Gears Modification 2.  However, a lot of this was in my head.  Her ability to turn is best compared to the cruisers Molotov and Admiral Gaf Spee, with comparable times to turn 90º, with a rotation rate of about 4.7º/s.
  • With Main Battery Modification 3 slowing down her turrets, it takes Henri IV 37.3s to turn her guns 180º.  This provides a rotation speed of 4.8º per second, which explains the issue I was having.  It’s my own fault really.  How dare I try and optimize her DPM!
  • Her Engine Boost consumable is pretty interesting when you start theory-crafting.  It has a 2 minute up time and a 1.5 minute reset timer when you use the premium version.  In  theory, this will allow Henri IV to exceed 40 knots.  Add in a Sierra Mike speed signal, and you can get her top speed up to 42.3 knots.
Other Stuff Feels

I hated feeling so blind in this ship.  I should have dumped Defensive Fire for Hydroacoustic Search.  Not having it got me killed twice and it’s not like her AA firepower did anything good anyway.  It would have been nice to have radar or an aircraft to help with spotting.  Coming around headlands blind was just miserable.  So was trying to deal with ships parked in smoke.

 It was made worse that I felt everyone could spot me in return.  This ship seems to have comparable stealth capabilities of the high tier American Battleships.  She is definitely a second-line ship and you want to be far removed from the front lines, letting others take care of the spotting.  This is a real shame because her guns become almost acceptable inside of 14km.  Getting up close like that, especially early in a match, just gets you deleted in this thing.
Speaking of deletions, it happened a couple of times.  Her armour must be made of tissue paper because I couldn’t even bounce 203mm AP shells with any reliability, never-mind having a Yamato throw loaded dumpsters at me.  I expected Battleships to overmatch my bow, though I guess some small part of me was hoping that with her battleship like looks she might have some Battleship like resilience. More the fool me.  Even her Repair Party was uninspiring.  No British-bias here when it comes to recovering health.
Other Facts and Figures
  • Her terrible AA power explains a lot about my disappointment in consumable choices. Don’t bother specializing in anti-aircraft firepower for Henri IV.  Her totals are downright laughable.  She has 94dps at 5.2km and 97dps at 3.5km.  That’s 191dps which would be acceptable for a tier 7 cruiser. I wouldn’t even bother with Defensive Fire.  Hydroacoustic Search is a much better choice and I would have definitely enjoyed more success in my games if I had used this consumable instead.
  • Henri IV’s stock surface detection range is 16.6km.  Compare this to the 16.2km detection range of Iowa…
  • 203mm AP shells should not be overmatching Henri IV anywhere — not even her superstructure.  She has 25mm bow and deck armour.  However, the real joke is her “armoured” belt of 30mm.  I wish I was kidding.  30mm.  At least this is covered by 19mm of anti-torpedo protection and there’s 45mm of citadel protection behind that.  This does mean that when angled, Battleships will overmatch her belt armour and score penetrations, but the 45mm of citadel armour will prevent that from being overmatched in turn (not that it will stop a 406mm high velocity, super-heavy shell from landing citadels).  Her fragility cannot be understated.
  • At least I wasn’t wrong about her size.  She’s eclipsed only by Moskva’s 65,400hp with her own high total of 53,300hp.  It sure doesn’t last long.
  • Henri IV’s Repair Party doesn’t have anything special going for it.  It heals back 14% HP per charge, like normal versions of the consumable.  Compare this to Minotaur’s which heals back 40% HP per charge.

Premature Conclusions

 Henri IV is still half baked.  She could use another 20 minutes in the oven, because if you stick a fork in her, she’s still twitching (and screaming).  I’m no alarmist when it comes to evaluating ships — I don’t get all floppy-arms excited when I see something amiss.  But holy crud-vapors, this ship is not good.  I accept that some of the problems I had with the ship comes down to my sub-optimal load-out of skills and modules, but the foundation of the ship just isn’t sound.
Now let’s be clear:  you can have good games in her.  But Henri IV will make you work far harder to hoover up a proportional amount of credits and experience than you ever would have to in Des Moines, Hindenburg, Zao or Moskva.  In my opinion, she would have made an interesting tier 8 Premium Battleship and not a tier 10 Cruiser design.  I don’t quite understand what the design goal Wargaming had in mind when it comes to this ship.  Is she meant to be a “true battlecruiser”?  She doesn’t feel like it.
It’s her main batteries that really let her down.  She has bad DPM and bad Alpha Strike.  Is there something I’m missing?  Like does she have British levels of auto-bounce aversion?  Are her shells super-penetrators?  I didn’t see evidence of either in my admittedly few test games.  I did manage to citadel an angled Roon at over 17km, so maybe that’s the idea.  I dunno, though, that felt more of a one-off than by design.
Angry YouTuber Assessment:  GARBAGE

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