Ship Preview: Duca d’Aosta

That’s a mouthful.
The following is a PREVIEW of the upcoming release of Duca d’Aosta, a ship Wargaming very kindly provided me.  This is how the ship appeared in the testing period up to and including the publish date of April 3rd, 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.
Quick Summary:   A wicked-fast and agile cruiser that’s painfully under-gunned and short ranged.
Cost: Undisclosed at the time of publishing
Patch & Date Written: 0.6.3, March 30th, 2017
Closest in-Game Contemporary
Budyonny, Tier 6 Soviet Cruiser
Degree of Similarity:  Clone / Sister-Ship / Related Class / Similar Role / Unique
Duca d’Aosta is superficially similar to Budyonny. They share very close ballistic qualities with their AP rounds. They’re both very fast ships. Both have pathetically short ranged torpedoes. Duca d’Aosta suffers in range, fire setting, torpedo armament and anti-aircraft defense compared to the Russian ship, but she’s overall faster and better protected.
  • Surprisingly good armour versus cruiser AP shells, capable of bouncing up to 220mm rounds off her bow and deck and 283mm rounds off her upper hull when angled.
  • Good AP gun ballistics from a 1000m/s muzzle velocity.
  • Excellent forward torpedo arcs
  • Very fast at 36.5 knots
  • She has one of the fastest tier 6 cruiser rotation speeds, making her very agile.
  • Modest surface detection range of 12.1km.


  • Long, high water citadel.
  • Poor main battery DPM.
  • Her HE shells are terrible fire starters and have “floaty” ballistics.
  • Only a modest main battery range of 14.0km.
  • Short ranged and weak torpedo armament.
  • Slow turret traverse of 6º per second.
  • Poor anti-aircraft DPS and a short 4.0km max range.
Wargaming very kindly supplied Duca D’Aosta for me to preview. Well, it was love at first sight. The ship looks gorgeous and her camouflage scheme is amazing. Unfortunately, the whirlwind romance lasted about as long as it took to get into my first game. The problems with the ship became apparent very early on and the more I did my research and digging, the worse things began to look. Buckle up, boys and girls, this won’t be a comfy, fluffy read for anyone who had high hopes for this ship at first glance.  The testing period usually takes a couple of iterations of the vessel to smooth out all of the wrinkles.  So enjoy this preview of one of the first test-iterations of Duca d’Aosta.


There are no surprises here, with no special consumable bonuses present for the Italian cruisers.


  • Damage Control Party
  • Defensive Fire or Hydroacoustic Search
  • Spotter Aircraft

Module Upgrades: Four slots, standard cruiser options

Premium Camouflage: Tier 6+ Standard. This provides 50% bonus experience gains, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy.

Equipping her Modules is a pretty unimaginative affair.
  • For your first slot, Main Armaments Modification 1 is the best choice.
  • Follow this up with Aiming Systems Modification 1 in your second slot to reduce dispersion and increase the rotation speed of your torpedo launchers. Alternatively, you can try and correct her turret rotation deficiency by sacrificing some reload speed by equipping Main Battery Modification 2.
  • In your third slot, take whatever. Damage Control System Modification 1 is probably best, nudging your torpedo damage reduction up to 10%,
  • And finally, take Steering Gears Modification 2 for your fourth slot. You’ll be zigzagging often in Duca d’Aosta.
Primary Battery:  Eight 152mm rifles in 4×2 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration.
Secondary Battery:  Six 100mm rifles in 3×2 turrets with one to either side of the ship behind the rear funnel and one mounted dorsally in front of X-turret.
Torpedoes:  Six tubes in 2×3 launchers, one off each side behind the first funnel.

My first impression of Duca d’Aosta’s game play was dictated very early by her guns. The closest analogue to her weapons are a weird combination of the AP shells from Budyonny and the HE shells from Perth. Her turrets are slow turning, her guns are rather short ranged and her munitions don’t hit very hard. Duca d’Aosta’s turret traverse rate is 30s for 180º or 6º per second. This is slower than the ship’s ability to turn, meaning that any form of high-speed defensive manoeuvres will throw off your aim. Given her short-range and her inability to kill anything quickly, you’ll be dodging often.

The best thing about her guns is their AP performance. She has a 1000m/s muzzle velocity — the highest at her tier. Duca has excellent ballistic arcs with AP shells, and though they are lightweight, they have comparable flight time to the Soviet 152mm rifles. Her damage is a modest 3,200 hit points and she’s fully capable of landing citadel hits against the broadside of enemy cruisers like Shchors or Furutaka at ranges in excess of 10km.

This contrasts sharply with her HE performance. While they do up to 2,100 hit points per hit, they have a horrible 7% chance to start fires. Unlike her AP shells, the ballistic quality of her HE rounds isn’t as forgiving. There’s a lot of float time at range, being comparable to British 152mm shells in this regard. This does allow her to fire over some types of intervening terrain with her HE rounds when she might not otherwise be able to engage a target with AP, providing some flexibility. However, note that they still have a high muzzle velocity, so this ability to lob shells over islands is limited to firing at extreme ranges.

With these qualities in mind, AP is the shell of choice with Duca d’Aosta. She can only reach out to 14km with her guns, so there’s still plenty of penetration power in them to put the hurt on cruisers and even battleships. It’s only when targets angle or when you’re facing something like a destroyer that you should switch back to HE.

One of the major flaws of Duca d’Aosta’s weaponry is that she does not do damage quickly. Though this is a problem common to all Light Cruisers, it’s especially pronounced here.  Her 7.5s reload and eight guns just doesn’t spit out shells fast enough. Short of catching the citadel of an exposed cruiser at point-blank range, chewing through enemy hit point pools will take time — even small hit point pools like destroyers. And it’s not like she can park in her own ready-made concealment like the other eight-gun light cruisers, Leander and Perth. Short of lobbing fire over terrain, it’s important to keep moving and dodging in Duca, limiting her ability to rain fire.

There’s a strong case to be made that Duca d’Aosta should use Inertia Fuse for HE Shells — her tier and armament are tailor-made for maximizing the gains from this skill. However, this will cut her base fire chance to a mere 4% per shell unless padded with Demolition Expert which will prop it back to 6%. To this end, spamming HE with this skill combination does not generate comparable damage numbers to other tier 6 cruisers. Dynamic ammunition choices are key to getting the most out of her.

Even her torpedoes are of little help here. Her torpedoes have a maximum reach of 4.5km, making it a real challenge to make use of them in the average fight. And, though their fire arcs are very comfortable when on the attack, her triple launchers don’t hit particularly hard. They’re utterly ill-suited to gutting a hale and healthy battleship and best used against weaker prey.

Duca’s secondaries are cute, but hardly threatening. They have a modest 4.5km range and you’ll be able to fire with a maximum of one turret per side plus the dorsal mount which can swing left or right as needed. They have a good rate of fire of 10rpm and a rather low fire chance of 6% per round. It’s kinda sad that these have only a 1% lower chance of starting a blaze than her primary battery.
  • Duca d’Aosta struggles to do damage quickly.
  • You have very different flight characteristics between HE and AP shells.
  • Her best asset is her AP rounds, but they cannot be used universally against all targets or at all ranges.
  • She’s one of the worst fire-starters among the tier 6 cruisers.
  • Her torpedoes provide a nice close-range sting, but can’t kill a full health battleship by themselves.
Duca d’Aosta has phenomenal forward torpedo arcs, making her able to engage targets as little as 25º off her bow.
Top Speed: 36.5 knots
Turning Radius: 710m
Rudder Shift:  8.4s
Duca d’Aosta’s biggest strength is her handling. At the time of writing, she’s the fastest tier 6 cruiser in the game with a half-knot advantage over her closest competitor. I would normally associate this straight line speed with some rather shoddy handling, but that’s not the case here. While her statistics look unimpressive, her ability to turn at high-speed is excellent, bested only by the British and Commonwealth cruisers with their souped-up engine physics. Duca manages a 5.7º/s rotation rate for her first 90º in a turn, accelerating to 6.2º/s rotation once her speed levels off to 29.1 knots. As such, she feels like she responds very quickly even to small touches of her rudder.
The only down side to this is that her turret rotation is slow. Without modification, her guns traverse at 6º/s making it impossible to keep them locked on a target when in heavy manoeuvres. To this end, investing in the tier 2 Captain Skill, Expert Marksman, is highly recommended which will allow you to keep your guns trained upon an enemy no matter how you throw the ship about.
Duca’s agility is entirely necessary. Her high top speed partially mitigates the weakness of her below-average gun range. She can quickly flex from one section of the battlefield to another. In addition, this allows her to become the threat to enemy destroyers caught beneath her guns. Short of using an engine boost, many destroyers cannot successfully disengage from such a fleet-footed ship. Finally, her short gun range often means she has to fight at close quarters with enemy vessels and without this great handling, she would have a much more difficult time evading incoming fire.
Duca will be zigzagging often to avoid enemy fire, so it’s imperative that you install Steering Gears Modification 2 to help her.
In summary, the handling of Duca d’Aosta is downright amazing.  She’s fast.  She’s responsive.  She’s got a very wiggly tush.  If you’re looking for the gimmick in this ship, it’s definitely in her speed and agility.
Hit Points: 29,700
Maximum Protection:  70mm of belt armour + 40mm of magazine protection (or 35mm of engine protection)
Min Bow & Deck Armour: 16mm 
Torpedo Damage Reduction: 7%
Duca d’Aosta has some surprising qualities to her protection scheme, such as her 7% torpedo damage reduction.  Let’s be clear form the get go, though: she is a light cruiser and you cannot rely on her armour to provide any form of reliable protection from Battleships or torpedo strikes.  What’s described below are quirks of her protection scheme that can provide some interesting counter-play against enemy cruisers.
  • Over her belt armour, running down the side of the ship, Duca’s hull armour is a surprising 20mm thick.  While this provides no real protection against HE shells, it can provide protection against AP shells and bounce strikes that would otherwise hammer her citadel.  It’s possible (if however unlikely) that shots baited against the side of your ship from 283mm guns from Scharnhorst or Admiral Graf Spee can be repulsed, provided you turn into the attack at the right moment.  I won a couple of duels against a Graf Spee this way.
  • Duca’s bow and deck armour is 16mm thick.  While this again is insufficient to protect her from just about any HE shells she will encounter,  this is enough to provide immunity to up to 220mm AP shells when angled.
  • Finally, Duca’s citadel is quite slender, running little more than one and a half times the width of the ship’s barbettes.  Even penetrating hits to her bow from shells that overmatch it may still miss the citadel given its dimensions.

This all amounts to a ship that’s rewarded very heavily for taking evasive action against incoming fire — even shells you might not be able to dodge outright.  Baiting enemies to use AP shells to hit your ship’s exposed broadside and then turning into enemy fire can pay off tremendously in duels, especially given Duca’s lower DPM.

It’s worth reiterating that Duca d’Aosta is not a well protected ship and her citadel rides very high over the water’s surface.  If you get caught unawares by enemy fire, you’ll lose your modest hit point pool very quickly if you don’t get deleted outright.
Concealment & Camouflage
Base Surface Detection Range: 12.1km
Air Detection Range:  7.3 km
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 10.3km
Main Battery Range:  14.0km
Duca isn’t a ship you want to take an active scouting role in — certainly not in the early stages of a match. Until you unlock Concealment Expert on your ship’s Commander, it’s important to keep her in the second line and follow your scouts from a safe distance. With her short main battery range and high-speed, you’ll find it quite possible to control your detection range against larger ships by resting on the cusp of your maximum reach. There’s one catch to this, of course.
Duca has a rather large surface detection range compared to the cover provided by her anti-aircraft batteries. It is quite commonplace for this ship to be lit up by shadowing aircraft while still being unable to engage them.
Unless you stick to the back of the pack, you’ll exist in a semi-permanent state of being illuminated by the enemy. Even with Concealment Expert, if you venture up the firing line it’s very difficult to dictate when (and how) you’re visible to the enemy fleet. One of the worst things you can do in Duca d’Aosta is make yourself the first target seen. To maximize her own firepower, she needs distracted or isolated enemies to pick on. Once she goes evasive, it’s very difficult to keep her guns firing.
To this end, I strongly recommend taking Priority Target as your first Captain Skill in this ship.

Like all light cruisers, making proper use of cover will keep Duca alive.
Anti-Aircraft Defense
AA Battery Calibers: 100mm / 37mm / 13.2mm
AA Umbrella Ranges: 4.0km / 3.5km / 1.2km
AA DPS per Aura: 20 / 46 / 16

For raw damage numbers, Duca d’Aosta has some of the worst AA power for a cruiser at her tier. It’s not just the low average damage which holds her back — it’s also the poor range of her large-caliber guns. Even fully specialized, Duca’s 100mm rifles can only reach a maximum 5.76km. With a full stealth build, her aerial detection range caps out at 6.5km. This creates a joint problem where Duca doesn’t generate enough DPS to really be a threat to enemy aircraft nor does she have the reach necessary to drive them off when they’re spotting her.
The two rays of sunshine for her anti-aircraft defense are her good agility and Defensive Fire. The latter will disrupt the attack runs of enemy aircraft when they commit while the former will better allow you to dodge any air dropped torpedoes. Her spiked AA DPS may allow her to shoot down a plane or two in the limited window in which they expose themselves to make their attack run. Unfortunately, once an enemy carrier player gets wise to the limited reach of her mounts, it will be easy enough for the CV’s planes to loiter beyond the aura of Duca’s100mm batteries, waiting out the active period of her consumable and then re-engage.
Duca d’Aosta should always be considered vulnerable to enemy air attack.

How to Waddle Away
Waddle waddle waddle.  Until the very next day…
Outfitting Duca d’Aosta is pretty straight forward. For your consumables, it’s best to grab a premium version of your Damage Control Party right from the start. If you have the credits to spare, you can also take a premium version of your Spotter Aircraft though this is an expensive luxury. It’s really the second slot where you need to make the tough decision.
My preference is for Defensive Fire between the two. While aircraft carriers are not present in every game, Duca d’Aosta’s a fairly inviting target for enemy attack planes and this can help give some survivability. In addition, it’s rare that Duca d’Aosta is up on the front lines providing spots for her team, so the need for Hydroacoustic Search is diminished somewhat. Still, for someone who prefers to engage enemy destroyers, this latter consumable is worthwhile and certainly viable. Whichever consumable you take, make sure you take the premium version to mitigate the long reset timers.
For your Captain Skills, your core build should look like the following:
  •  From the first tier, take Priority Target.  This will help keep you appraised of when you need to go evasive when spotted and from which vectors.
  • At tier two, Expert Marksman is your best choice.  This will increase your turret rotation such that you’ll still be able to keep your guns on target through the early part of a turn.
  • At tier three, Demolition Expert is easily the best choice, nudging up your pathetic fire chance per shell from 7% to  9% (which is almost acceptable).
  • And finally, at tier 4, you have a choice.  Concealment Expert and Inertial Fuse for HE Shells are excellent choices for your first skills.  Be aware that the latter, while providing more direct damage opportunities for your HE shells, it will also hurt your chances to start fires.

Good follow up skills include:  Adrenaline RushSuperintendent, and Last Stand.

Overall Impressions

Skill Floor: Simple Casual / Challenging / Difficult
Skill Ceiling: Low Moderate / High / Extreme

Duca d’Aosta isn’t an easy ship to do well in. She just doesn’t have the concealment or reach to make using her easy, nor does she have the offensive punch to make taking risks worthwhile. If it weren’t for her good agility, she’d have no real redeeming qualities. She doesn’t have a lot of consistent carry potential. High skill play in Duca will keep you alive longer and let you start stacking up damage. But, it’s a very steep uphill climb and predicated mostly by an opponent’s mistakes and not the opportunities the ship brings to the table.

Mouse’s Summary:
  • It took me a lot of games to finally “figure out” Duca.
  • She’s a very passive ship, requiring a lot of defensive play to apply steady pressure to the enemy.
  • Taking an aggressive stance with this ship at nearly any stage will simply get you killed.

I don’t like this ship and that’s a shame. I really wanted to. She’s not broken, but she’s not exactly fun. Duca d’Aosta is presently setup as a support ship, but she’s not terribly good at the role. She’s meant to fire from the second line, to pick on distracted targets and avoid their attacks. Now she’s good at dodging and I have to applaud Wargaming for making a vessel with such fine handling out of very modest looking manoeuvrability statistics. The problem I really have with this ship is that if you’re dodging, you’re not returning fire. Duca d’Aosta struggles to keep her guns on target and the necessity of heavy evasive manoeuvres completely shuts off her offensive capabilities unless you take Main Armaments Modification 2  (which doesn’t reverse this issue entirely).

This would not be a problem if she had better “fire and forget” weaponry, such as a decent chance to set fires or long ranged torpedoes. She’s lacking both. Her eight rifles can put out damage decently against specific targets but she doesn’t get the chance to keep her guns singing for very long. Ships either move out of range or it becomes time to start dodging and disengaging again.
This passive style of play isn’t very rewarding — not in fun factor or in the experience and credits department. Duca cannot provide secondary support roles, such as smoking out destroyers (she’s too big to get close) or providing AA support (her auras are too short ranged). Charging into contested cap circles will just get her citadel blown out. So that really leaves direct damage as her sole source of income and the well can run pretty dry when you spend much of your time evading enemy fire and struggling to keep your guns on target. It’s very difficult to get more than small 600 to 2,000 damage hits in before it becomes time to evade again.
Hiding behind cover wasn’t really a viable option. Her AP shells don’t have the arcs necessary to clear intervening terrain. Her HE shells do but only at the extreme ranges. It’s not like I could set many fires when I tried. And worse, she just doesn’t have the range to continually engage a target once you find the perfect spot to set up. Ugh, it was an exercise in frustration.
As it stands, Duca is an low-side of average ship at best. Her great speed and agility doesn’t make up for her modest concealment, short-range and mediocre damage output. Wargaming could release her as is and people will enjoy her agility.  They could make a good go of it, but she’ll never be the darling of the community in her current setup.  I’m curious to how other testers will view her — my own take is probably not universal and it will be interesting to see what changes (if any) occur with Duca over the testing period.
Let me be clear:  I don’t want to see any drastic changes made to Duca — she doesn’t need smoke or some gimmick to make her a competitive ship. Her speed and agility is novel enough. Where she lacks is in firepower. This could be provided in several different ways and any of the following on their own (or in combination) would be sufficient.

  • A faster turret rotation — even 0.5º per second would be enough.
  • An extra 500m to 1km her range.
  • A slight rate of fire increase.
  • Improved fuse timers, autobounce angles or normalization values on her AP shells.
There are potentially a lot of ‘fixes’ but such tweaks need be subtle. Duca isn’t broken, she’s simply not competitive at this time.

Duca d’Aosta is one of Wargaming’s best looking models in World of Warships to date.

Would I Recommend?

Duca d’Aosta doesn’t even make a good Co-Op warrior in her current arrangement.  She just doesn’t have the offensive output to do kill anything short of another cruiser quickly, and again, only if they’re not intent on shooting back.  Duca’s problems in Random Battles are certainly compounded by tier 6 Matchmaking.

  • For Random Battle Grinding:
    This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements.

No, I can’t recommend her here.  She has to play defensively to survive long enough to stack up damage.  And short of the enemy leaving you alone for the full match, it’s difficult for you to stack up enough hurt on the red team to regularly farm decent rewards.

  • For Competitive Gaming:
    Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding.

No, she doesn’t bring anything to the table competitively other than her speed and that’s matched (or at least matched close enough) by better ships like Budyonny.

  • For Collectors:
    If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you.

There’s going to be some appeal here as the first Italian ship in the game.  She did survive the war after serving throughout the Mediterranean, but it wasn’t an especially distinguished career.  So if that’s your thing, absolutely.  I will grant that she is a very pretty ship and would make a lovely port-queen.

  • For Fun Factor:
    Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play? 
I had more fun playing Krasny Krym.

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