First Impressions: La Galissonnière

The following is a PREVIEW of the upcoming release of la Galissonnière, 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.
With the French Cruisers still in testing (and having learned my lesson from trying to keep up with the changes to Duca d’Aosta), I’ve decided to forgo my usual in-depth review.  Instead, I thought I would try something a little different.  Rather than spending time documenting the raw stats of a new ship and theory-crafting a hypothesis of the ship’s performance, I thought I would just dive right in and play a few games. This will be a big step away from my methodical review process.  Let’s see if I can cope.
First things first, I kitted out my ship with the following:
  • I used a 10pt Captain with Priority Target, Adrenaline Rush, Demolition Expert and Concealment Expert.
  • Modules look normal. I went with Main Armaments Mod 1Aiming Systems Mod 1Damage Control Party Mod 1 and Steering Gears Mod 2.
  • She has 3 consumables. Damage Control Party for slot 1 (duh), Hydroacoustic Search OR Defensive Fire in slot two (I took the former), and finally the special French Cruiser Engine Boost for slot 3.
  • She has access to premium camouflage too which is incredibly boring. It’s just a dark, slate grey painted up to the rear deck-level.
As I played, I jotted down quick notes to myself about how the ship felt;  no empirical evidence — all feels. The bias was real and the views unsubstantiated by anything but anecdotal evidence.  Exciting!   Here’s my quick views on the ship.
Positive Perceptions:
  • Excellent fire starting from her HE shells.  She’s a flamethrower.
  • She racks up damage quickly — easily netting high damage games.
  • Her turret traverse rates are very comfortable.
  • Great range for guns and torpedoes (but especially guns).
  • She answers her rudder quickly, with good handling.
  • Her AA shoots down quite a few planes.

Negative Perceptions:

  • Poor ballistics with a lot of “float” in both shell types.
  • AP felt downright unimpressive.
  • Only two torpedoes per side?  Seriously?  That’s just ugh.
  • She feels very slow, even for a cruiser.
  • Her anti-aircraft is painfully short ranged — it seems limited to self defense.
  • The Engine Boost consumable feels like a consolation prize for her awful top speed.
  • Hiding her was really difficult.

Afterwards, I went back and put the ship’s stats under a microscope.  Let’s compare how my initial impressions match or don’t match the actual capabilities of the ship.

This was my third game in la Galissonnière — a Domination map on Two Brothers.  I took station behind the islands overlooking the western cap circle from the north spawn and proceeded to bombard the snot out of an enemy North Carolina, nearly burning her down to the waterline.  Her shell arcs made this nice and easy for me.  Fun times.

Weapon Systems Feels
I spent most of my games slinging HE and I didn’t really feel much need to stop.  It was only when ships like an Aoba and Molotov offered up their broadsides at close range that I switched over to AP rounds.  Her AP rounds disappointed me against the Aoba though they tore apart the Molotov within a few salvos.  Her high explosive shells were really the rockstars, though.  After setting two fires on a Nagato, the Battleship blew her Damage Control Party and the next salvo I connected lit three more.  I laughed but I felt genuinely bad for the dreadnought. Overall, her guns feel very much like those off the Cleveland — well, except for their turret traverse and range (both of which are awesome).

As for her torpedoes:  They didn’t do me any favours.  I scored a couple of hits against a Bayern and I finished off a low health Bogue with a single hit.  They earn a big old ‘Meh’ from me.
Weapon Systems Facts and Figures
  • La Galissonnière is a great fire starter — she’s the second best fire starting cruiser at tier 6 grace of her high fire chance per shell (12%), the number of guns (9) and her rate of fire (6rpm).  She can start an average of 6.48 fires per minute.  That’s behind Nurnberg at 7.2 fires per minute but ahead of Perth (5.64).  With my Captain setup, la Galissonnière’s fire starting jumps up to  7.56 fires per minute.  Even with Inertial Fuse for HE Shells, so long as it’s combined with Demolition Expert, la Galissonnière will start 5.94 fires per minute, which is still very dangerous.
  • La Galissonnière has an excellent 15.9km range. However, her guns have a rather low muzzle velocity of 870m/s. For shell flight times, they most closely resemble those of the German cruiser, Nurnberg at ranges of 10km or greater. They’re considerably faster than Cleveland’s but well behind those of Budyonny.  So looks like I totally missed the mark here.
  • I totally mistook her rate of fire for being higher than it was.  La Galissonière fires at 6rpm, not 8rpm — this puts her DPM quite low on the totem poll for tier 6, dropping her behind even HMS Perth and Duca d’Aosta.   In fact, this puts her as one of the lowest potential DPM light cruisers at tier 6, being closer to Molotov in terms of damage performance.  Whoops.

    With Inertial Fuse for HE Shells, there’s nothing in her matchmaking spread that la Galissionniere won’t be able to damage with her HE shells which will probably help.

  • The reason her gun traverse felt so comfortable was due to the high speed of their turning.  La Galissonnière can rotate her guns 180º in 15 seconds — or 12º per second.  Short of the Atlanta-class, that’s unprecedented in mid-tier cruisers which usually have a rotation speed between 23s and 35s for a 180º turn.
  • La Galissonnière’s torpedoes have a 9km range at 60 knots, which is very serviceable at tier 6.  The reason I felt so unimpressed by them was the limited number of launchers (2 per side).  Their damage rating isn’t bad for their tier at 14,833.  After damage reduction from TDS, most Battleships aren’t going to lose anywhere close to 50% of their HP even if both hit.  Their reload isn’t especially fast for two-tube launchers at 60s per which makes them rather forgettable.
Agility Feels
 Handling wise, she’s slow.  She’s very slow.  Touch the rudder and she’s no longer doing anywhere close to 30 knots.  It feels dumb to have Engine Boost on such a slow ship.  Activating it makes her feel more cruiserish.  At least she turns and dodges well.  I really ticked off a North Carolina by dodging everything he was throwing at me from 14km out.  It was pretty bothersome not to be able to catch an Independence that was running away from me and pretty terrifying when a Gneisenau was catching up while I tried to dodge and run.
Agility Facts and Figures
  •  La Galissonnière is one of the slowest cruisers at tier 6 with a maximum speed of 31 knots.  Only the Admiral Graf Spee is slower at 28.5 knots.  However, it should be noted that while she is slower, she’s not slower by much.  The next closest ships to her are Nurnberg (32 knots), Cleveland and the British and Commonwealth cruisers (32.5 knots).  I guess I’ve been playing Duca d’Aosta too much.
  • With her rudder hard over, la Galissonnière decelerates to 24.7 knots as her maximum speed.  This is a comparable deceleration to other cruisers at her tier who run at about 79% of their top speed in a turn (except Leander and Perth).   So this perception was all in my head.
  • La Galissonnière has one of  the smallest turning circles for a cruiser at her tier, just 10m behind Leander and Perth at 650m.  Her rudder shift time is right in the middle of the pack at 7.7s.  When measured, its la Galissonnière’s top speed which lets her down when it comes to her time to complete a turn.  Her handling is best compared to Cleveland overall, being just a fraction of a second slower to complete a 90º turn at a 5.3º per second rotation rate at top speed.
  • The Engine Boost consumable provides a 4.7 knot boost to her top speed when activated, bringing la Galissoniere’s maximum velocity up to 35.7 knots for two minutes.  During this time, she’s the third fastest cruiser at tier 6 behind Duca d’Aosta (36.5 knots) and Molotov (36 knots).  To get the most out of this consumable, la Galissonnière needs to be moving in a straight line as turning will reduce her speed appreciably.  This is why I didn’t really feel her Engine Boost while I was using it.  Activating it while dodging won’t be as dramatic as sailing flat out.
Other Stuff Feels
Her anti-aircraft firepower is a joke.  Yeah, it shoots down a lot of planes, but only at stupidly-close ranges — certainly not enough to stop them from dropping their ordnance.  I didn’t run with Defensive Fire, opting for Hydroacoustic Search instead. She’s obviously no Cleveland. It looks like she’s got a lot of 40mm Bofors mounts on her decks, though — maybe that explains her close range pew-pews?  She’s got enough wiggle to dodge fish rather impressively.
She doesn’t have a lot of hit points for a tier 6 cruiser, which is weird cause she looks huge.  Her armour feels great against cruiser caliber rounds. Battleships don’t play nice and the citadels still add up quickly against those big ships.  Without the speed to open up the distance, being pursued by Scharnhorst-class and tier 8+ BBs wasn’t fun.
I think the biggest downside is that she’s just so big and hard to hide.
Other Stuff Facts and Figures
  • Well, I wasn’t wrong about her range.   Her aura ranges are 4.0km, 3.5km and 2.0km.  This limits her anti-aircraft firepower to self defense ranges.  Her medium range AA guns are indeed 40mm Bofors.
  • Her combined average DPS for all of her guns is 158 which isn’t bad.  It’s not great, mind you, but it’s not terrible.  Cleveland is the best at her tier with 208, but the next step down is Nurnberg at 181.  Much of her damage (95) is found in her 40mm Bofors which do benefit from the damage bonus to Defensive Fire.  I’m curious to see how well she can shoot down planes defensively with a proper AA spec.
  • La Galissonnière has 27,300hp — one of the lowest totals at tier 6.  Her armour profile is interesting, however.  She was designed to mimick the Algérie-class’ armour scheme.  The first point of note is that she has 10% torpedo damage reduction which is pretty good for a cruiser (especially at mid tier).
  • The entire side of her citadel is protected by 105mm belt armour followed by the 20mm outer wall of her machine spaces and magazine.  These do rest slightly above the water’s surface.  With a minimum of 16mm of bow and deck armour, La Galissonnière can angle and tank 220mm AP shells.
  • She does suffer in the concealment department. La Galissonnière’s range will play against her every time she fires, making her visible from 15.6km out. With Concealment Expert and camouflage, her detection range doesn’t get lower than 11.4km and her aerial detection range sits at 6.3km.

Premature Conclusions

 La Galissoniere is pretty good.  She’s not great by any means.  She’s slow as all get out.  Her AA power sucks hairy moose balls and she’s visible from space.  That said, her HE spam is gorgeous (unless you’re on the receiving end) and she’s rather good at bullying other cruisers with good armour values.  For short bursts, she can be a nightmare for destroyers, sticking to them like glue and tearing them apart in short order.  Battleships need to be weary about being caught beneath her rain of HE shells — especially at range when she can dodge their return fire.
Because la Galissoniere is so comfortable to control (between her turret traverse and good handling), I worry she feels better than she actually performs. She’s definitely forgiving.  It takes no effort to HE spam, after all. It will be interesting to see what the numbers report when she goes live. I predict decent damage totals but only modest win rates — she doesn’t have the flexibility to control capture points well and I can see a lot of players getting tunnel visioned on stacking fires and hanging back instead of watching their minimap and progressing the fight properly.
I don’t think she’ll hold a player back at tier 6 but she’s not going to be a contender for the best tier 6 cruiser by any means.  At least you won’t feel the compulsion to free-experience past her.  The grind to Algérie will be pleasant.
Angry YouTuber Assessment:  GUDBOTE

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