While steps have been taken to ensure accuracy, Alabama was a work in progress at the time of testing. Please be aware that all of the statistics and performance discussed here are subject to change before release.
Average and good at it.
Quick Summary: A Fast-Battleship with good handling and speed, excellent firepower and anti-aircraft protection. She suffers from a very large citadel placed high over the waterline.
Cost: Undisclosed at the time of publishing. Probably about the same as a Tirpitz.
Patch & Date Written: 0.6.2, March 10th, 2017
Massive anti-torpedo bulges which provide 49% damage reduction — the 2nd best value in the game.
Powerful, long range guns with a 21.1km reach and good vertical dispersion.
Responsive turret rotation at 4.5º per second.
Excellent levels of anti-aircraft firepower.
Good top speed of 27.5 knots.
Small 710m turning circle and fastest turning rate of any of the mid to high tier USN Battleships.
Excellent credit earning potential.
Her citadel sits very high over the waterline, extending from beneath the full length of the #1 turret to the #3 turret.
Her armour isn’t quite as good as advertised. Improper angling will lead to many penetrating and citadel hits.
Bow is easily overmatched by Yamato’s 460mm rifles.
Her aft transverse bulkhead protecting her lower citadel is only 16mm thick.
Low muzzle velocity and long shell flight times over range.
Finally, the American tech tree has access to a tier 8 premium. On top of that, she’s a tier 8 Battleship. Better still, its USS Alabama, a famous museum ship and American icon. The hype is real and if I’m terribly honest, I was dreading having to review this ship. With such high expectations centered around this ship, especially after the debacle in December of 2016 with the announcement that she would be limited to Supertesters only, I feared she couldn’t possibly live up to the hype.
Well, I needn’t have worried. There have been a few pessimistic reviews penned already and the word is out that Alabama is far from perfect. With that, I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I wouldn’t be the messenger that risked being shot for delivering such glum tidings as Alabama not being the embodiment of Pax Americana superiority. But, like all things on the internet, people tend to focus on a single issue and blow it ridiculously out of proportion.
Let Lert and I show you why you shouldn’t believe everything you’ve heard about the tarnish on Alabama’s reputation…
A southern belle.
There’s nothing out of the ordinary here. Alabama uses the same improved USN Battleship Damage Control Party as other American Dreadnoughts. This has a 20s active period and a 120s/80s reset timer.
Damage Control Party
Spotter Aircraft / Catapult Fighter
Module Upgrades: Five slots, standard USN Battleship options.
Premium Camouflage: Tier 6+ Standard. This provides 50% bonus experience gains, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy. This is the gorgeous measure-22 camouflage.
Alabama has a little more variety when it comes to what modules you’ll select for her, and this is largely dependent on how much you want to emphasize her AA firepower.
For your first slot, Main Armaments Modification 1 may seem like the default choice. However, Auxiliary Armaments Modification 1 is also practical for AA-specialized ships. This will help keep your 20mm, 40mm and 127mm mounts operable, especially when you take a lot of HE fire.
For your second slot, if you’re going AA spec’d, take AA Guns Modification 2 to bump up their range. Consider this ideal for this ship. Alternatively, take Artillery Plotting Room Modification 1 to bump up your range from 21.1km to 24.5km.
For your third slot, grab Damage Control System Modification 1. This will increase your already amazing torpedo damage reduction from 49% to 50%.
In slot number four, I prefer Damage Control System Modification 2 to help mitigate fire damage. You can take Steering Gears Modification 2 if you prefer. This will drop your rudder shift time to 12.3s.
And finally, in slot 5, take Concealment Modification 1. This will cut your surface detection range down to 14.1km with your camouflage.
Primary Battery:Nine 406mm/45 rifles in 3×3 turrets in an A-B-X configuration. B is stationed in a super firing position over top of A. These have a stock range of 21.1km.
Secondary Battery: Twenty 127mm dual purpose rifles in 10×2 turrets along the sides of the ship.
There’s a comforting familiarity to Alabama’s guns. They’re reliable, hard hitting and accurate. They are, however, plagued by the usual American gunnery weaknesses. They have a low muzzle velocity and Alabama has no way of reducing the enormous linear dispersion common to all USN Dreadnoughts.
Right off the bat, she has comparable dispersion than any of the other high tier American Battleships, with a 1.9 sigma rating. Only Colorado and North Carolina, with a 2.0 value a tier lower, has less vertical dispersion. This helps prevent her shells from overshooting, removing some of the RNG influence of Battleship gunnery. Now, with this said, it would be a mistake to call her guns accurate. Short of the German Battleships, no other ships in the game have as terrible a dispersion value as USN Battleships. This only gets mitigated at tiers 9 and higher, when they can equip Artillery Plotting Room Modification 2. Sadly, (and I was really hoping for this), Alabama does not get access to this module.
What Alabama does have is excellent damage potential on her shells. At 13,100 alpha strike, this gives a 500hp advantage over the Amagi’s 410mm AP shells and 1,500hp more than the 380mm guns of the Tirpitz and Bismarck. This lets Alabama trade very favourably, especially with two-thirds of her weapons mounted on her bow, letting her angle aggressively and help mitigate return fire.
Penetration values for Alabama’s 406mm rifles
For penetration, she sits well ahead of the German 380mm guns and just behind the 410mm of the Japanese, with better preservation of penetration characteristics at longer range over her IJN counterparts. Her effective penetration values are more than enough to demolish the citadel of just about any cruiser she faces within her engagement range. Inside of 15km, Battleship belt armour is of no-consequence though at these extreme ranges, ricochet is likely. This is in part due to the slow flight time of the USN 406mm shells. With armour piercing, it takes in excess of 10 seconds for Alabama’s guns to reach 16km. They’re a full second slower to 18km than the IJN 410mm shells and 1.6s slower than the 380mm guns off the Tirpitz and Bismarck.
Thus, while it’s sometimes frustrating to land hits with Alabama’s guns,when she does land her shots, they strike harder than anything from Japan or Germany and they’re more than capable of penetrating the targets she does face.
Special mention needs to be made in regards to Alabama’s gun handling. Her guns traverse a half degree per second faster than North Carolina’s at a rate of 4.5º per second. Even in a hard over turn at top speed, Alabama will never out turn her turrets. If you put Mister Seagal on board with Expert Marksman, you can get this rotation speed up to 5.5º per second which is just wonderful.
Alabama’s secondaries are … well, they’re nothing to write home about. They can’t stand up to the awesome batteries of the Bismarck and they’re certainly not going to frighten away anything that gets close. Their modest range of 5.0km combined with their 5% chance to start fires per shell definitely hold them back from being anything worth specializing into. Brawling is something you generally want to avoid when sailing Alabama anyway, so at least her armament isn’t working at cross purposes with itself.
She has better accuracy than most mid-tier USN Battleships. Only Iowa, Missouri or Montana specialized for reduced shell dispersion are superior. Alabama is less accurate than IJN Battleships but more than German Battleships.
Excellent gun handling characteristics, but poor shell ballistics. It’s easy to get guns on target but harder to get the shells there.
When you do land hits, the good penetration values and high shell damage will make it easy to rack up big damage totals.
Her secondaries are meh.
Alabama pursues HMS Fiji around the headland of an island and executes her at point blank range with six of her 406mm rifles.
Top Speed: 27.5 knots Turning Radius: 710m Rudder Shift: 15.3s
Alabama stands out as the most manoeuvrable of the high tier American Battleships. While she doesn’t keep the small turning circle of the Standard Type battleships (Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona), when compared to Iowa and Montana, she stands miles apart. It’s quite surprising that this agility doesn’t come at the cost of speed — Alabama keeps pace with North Carolina and can turn inside her. At range, this ability gives an extra level of protection that is (unfortunately), sorely needed.
When it comes to dodging, Alabama is very well equipped. She not only has the best rudder shift time of the high tier American Battleships, but she progresses through her turn far more quickly than even the 640m turning circle of the Colorado. In fact, she has a faster turning time than most of the tier 6 Battleships as well, being bested only by Dunkerque, Warspite and Bayern. She is the most agile of the mid to high tier American Battleships, bar none, and something to celebrate.
Her top speed of 27.5 knots is decent, but sadly outstripped by the Bismarck-class and Amagi-class Battleships which can make dictating engagement ranges difficult. Once she’s up tiered to face tier 9 ships, this lack of speed only magnifies. Alabama must use her good concealment values to help her disengage and redeploy as needed.
Data drawn from running these ships at maximum speed and then placing the rudder hard over and timing their turn. Alabama is the most agile of any of the American Battleships. Pay close attention to how little benefit Steering Gears Modification 2 actually provides.
Durability Hit Points: 63,300 Maximum Protection: 32mm anti-torpedo bulge + 310mm belt armour
Min Bow & Deck Armour: 32mm Torpedo Damage Reduction: 49%
Let’s start with what’s fun and remarkable about Alabama. She has the best torpedo damage reduction in the American tech tree. Alabama is surpassed only by the Yamato for the highest torpedo damage reduction currently in the game. Air dropped torpedoes feel especially anemic, striking for as little as 5000 damage along her armored belt. For as much work as carriers are going to have to do to land hits with their fish against this battleship, her anti-torpedo bulge will quickly teach them to look elsewhere.
Sadly, that’s about where the good news for Alabama ends as far as her armoured protection goes. Alabama suffers from all the same durability problems that the Iowa-class has had in World of Warships. Her citadel sits well over the surface of the water. This enormous vulnerability runs from just in front of her #1 turret all the way to her #3 turret. Short of her anti-torpedo bulge, there’s no further protection beyond her belt armour to keep it safe. At 310mm, this is hardly adequate to repel the kind of firepower that’s thrown at her.
Alabama doesn’t have any other tricks going for her. She has no turtleback, no armour sloping, no layering to keep her machine spaces and magazines safe. She’s a painfully easy target to citadel and it will happen a lot to the unwary. I know this is a deal breaker for many, so let me emphasize this again: Alabama has awful citadel protection and she takes citadel hits regularly. You can see the problems readily in the armor viewer. Even her transverse bulkheads are poor. Her upper bulkheads are 287mm from the waterline on up. Beneath that, her forward bulkhead is a mere 156mm. The roof is 154mm. Her rear may as well be an open door at 16mm.
Her fragility is further compounded by a tendency to take frequent penetrating hits from AP shells, even when angled. I suspect this is largely caused by shells striking the 32mm hull above the main armoured belt, where the funny contours might prevent auto-ricochet angles when your approach isn’t sufficiently acute.
In summary, while Alabama has some great anti-torpedo defense, she’s a fragile warship. Use her great handling and concealment values to keep her safe.
Like all high tier American Battleships, Alabama has no business brawling. She can do it, but it puts her at such a tremendous disadvantage.
Concealment & Camouflage
Surface Detection Range: 16.2km
Air Detection Range: 12.1 km
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 12.2km
Concealment Penalty while Firing: +12.2km (vs 21.1km gun range)
Alabama shares the same surface detection range as Missouri, but with the added bonus of being harder to see from the air. This doesn’t quite measure up to the North Carolina, which enjoys a 500m advantage over her, but she does hide better than every other tier 8 Battleship. With a full concealment build, she can become downright stealthy with a 12.2km surface detection range and limiting her visibility from the air to a mere 9.4km. With Alabama’s large, exposed citadel, she must exploit this to the utmost to keep herself safe.
Alabama is a glass cannon. She is best played using her speed to move out to the flanks and catching the Reds in a cross fire. When the enemies turn their attention her way, she can cease-fire and drop back into concealment and redeploy. By playing up to this strength, she can strike from an advantageous position and let her guns go to work.
Anti-Aircraft Defense AA Battery Calibers: 127mm / 40mm / 20mm AA Umbrella Ranges: 5.0km / 3.5km / 2.0km AA DPS per Aura: 151 / 191 / 187
She enjoys all the comforts the later USN Battleships when it comes to anti-aircraft firepower. Her air defense starts with the same battery of twenty 127mm dual purpose secondaries found on North Carolina, Iowa and Missouri. They provide a long reach and excellent alpha damage in five second pulses. When we filter down to her close-range batteries, they differ somewhat from her big sisters.
While Alabama has the lowest AA power of the high tier American Battleships, it would be foolish to label it as anything other than excellent. Alabama’s reach and firepower stands head and shoulders above her closest competitor, the Bismarck, with a full 117dps more than the German behemoth. She shreds enemy aircraft squadrons with alarming levels of ease and is a real asset when it comes to fleet defense from attack craft squadrons. This can (and should) be exemplified even more with modules and Captain Skills to increase their range and lethality. Properly specialized and manually targeting incoming squadrons, Alabama can get her average DPS up to well over 900, with almost half of that at a 7.2km range.
Alabama’s tighter turning circle and her anti-torpedo defense must not be forgotten. Against torpedo aircraft, no other Battleship is as well protected as Alabama. Enemy carriers will quickly learn to look elsewhere to farm damage. Throughout play testing, I was regularly shooting down in excess of 20 aircraft per game when carriers were present. This greatly increases the experience gains Alabama can earn.
The average DPS of the high tier American Battleships and a comparison of tier 8 Battleship AA levels, divided by weapon ranges.
As an American Battleship, there are a few different skill builds that are viable for Alabama. They summarize generally to three main types, emphasizing particular strengths.
All of these builds will begin with taking Priority Target. This is, in my opinion, the strongest of the tier 1 skill for Alabama. It will let you know when you’ve got the attention of the Red team and when it’s time to start putting that agility and concealment to work.
For the Anti-Aircraft Firepower and Concealmentbuild, your skill choice will be almost identical until tier 4. For the former, make sure you take modules that help boost your AA firepower. To this end, taking AA Guns Modification 2 in your second upgrade slot is key. I would also strongly recommend adding Auxillary Armaments Modification 1 to your first slot to help the survivability of your AA mounts. For the Concealment build, you can take whichever modules you want, except for Concealment Modification 1 which is mandatory.
At tier 2, you have the choice between Adrenaline Rush and Expert Marksman for your second skill. Alabama is less dependent on buffs to her turret rotation, making Expert Marksman less of a necessity. But if you’re using the Steven Seagal Captain, the bonus it provides makes it absolutely worthwhile.
At tier 3, Basic Fire Training will increase your AA firepower by 20%.
At tier 4, the Anti-Aircraft Firepower build should take Advanced Fire Training to further increase your guns reach up to 7.2km for your 127mm/38s. Next, they should take Manual Fire Control for AA Armament. This will maximize your AA firepower.
For the Concealment build, take Concealment Expert instead at tier 4 and follow it up with Advanced Fire Training to add some reach to your AA guns.
You’ll have 5 skill points remaining at this stage. Spend them where you wish. Good skills to consider are: High Alert, Superintendent, Basics of Survivability and Vigilance. Concealment Expert for the AA build and Manual Fire Control for AA Armament for the Concealment build aren’t bad choices either. If you’re using the Steven Seagal Captain, then Expert Loader is also worth considering. Skip it otherwise.
The Survivabilitybuild differs somewhat from these other two and there are many variations to consider. Make sure you take Damage Control Party Modification 1 & 2 in slots three and four of your modules.
At Tier 2, take High Alert as your second skill to reduce the time on your Damage Control Party.
At tier 3, you’ll want Basics of Survivability. This will cut the duration of fires down to 43s. Basic Fire Training will get your AA firepower up to very impressive levels.
Survivability builds greatly benefit from doubling up on skills. Jack of All Trades reduces the reset timers on your Repair Party and Damage Control Party. Superintendent gives you an extra charge of your Repair Party. Vigilance helps spot incoming torpedoes. Basic and Advanced Fire Training gives Alabama the necessary teeth to keep safe from aircraft. These skills are optimal. Concealment Expert will help keep you safe from harm. Finally, Fire Prevention helps reduce the chance of fires being set while also reducing the maximum number of blazes that can be set from four to three.
Here are some sample variations of the Survivability Build:
When patch 0.6.3 comes around, Alabama will be a bit of a dinosaur. Montana and Iowa will get their high-water citadels lowered and Alabama will be a relic of times gone by.
For this reason, Alabama is a difficult ship to recommend for novice players. Her high citadel is going to punish recklessness. Once you’re out of position, your game is going to end very quickly. As a result, Alabama will encourage novice players to avoid combat and snipe at very long-range. This will greatly reduce her efficacy. The only good news, really, is that whatever hits she does land can rack up some impressive damage totals.
In the hands of more experienced players, the sky is really the limit. Like North Carolina, Alabama can dish out ridiculous amounts of punishment while supporting her team with impressive anti-aircraft firepower. Where North Carolina relies on pure stealth, Alabama provides agility to help mitigate damage. Her fragility will hold her back from ever truly dominating in some situations.
Alabama is defined by five characteristics. Hard hitting guns, excellent AA power, great torpedo defense, good agility and that damned citadel height.
Scoring enormous damage totals in this ship isn’t hard.
Getting yourself sunk because you made a stupid mistake isn’t hard either.
Alabama can’t seem to help being a drama llama, now can she? When Wargaming originally announced she would be a reward ship for her Supertesters, the resulting poop storm was downright biblical. The early reviews from certain parties have blown new life into the turd tornadoes twirling around this ship. I’m not surprised. With the level of hype surrounding her, Alabama had to be perfect. Only small flaws would have been permissible.
When I was doing my first pass for this review, only one glaring flaw stood out, and that’s her citadel. This is the flaw upon which everyone has similarly latched on. For many players, it’s a deal breaker. No matter what strengths the ship had, with a vulnerable citadel, some players just cannot warm up to her. And do you know what? That’s a perfectly legitimate sentiment to have. I empathize completely with this revulsion and I know why some players will wash their hands of her right from the word go. Alabama isn’t a battleship with training wheels.
I also think that it’s a completely reasonable flaw for the ship to have from a balance point of view.
Lower her citadel and Alabama becomes a very, very powerful ship. She’s already almost as agile as Bayern, with North Carolina’s great guns and AA firepower combined with Yamato’s torpedo defense. And people want her buffed!? Look, she’s going to torpedo beat between fish, swat down planes, dodge long-range fire and drop diesel trains on the heads of anything she catches broadside. She needs a weakness somewhere. I’m exaggerating, but only a little.
Lowering her citadel wouldn’t make her immune to damage to her machine spaces, of course. It’s not like she would suddenly gain German Battleship levels of durability. However, it would make her hands down better than North Carolina — no question at all in my mind. She’s harder to hit, just as punchy and harder to damage with fish. If that’s the ship you needed to have to make Alabama an instant-buy, well, so be it. But be honest with yourself when you’re writing off Alabama for that one (admittedly quite glaring) weakness.
I had some phenomenal games in Alabama. I don’t see that changing going forward. However, she doesn’t have the optimal strengths of Bismarck. She’s not the be-all, end-all tier 8 premium some players needed her to be. Alabama is delightfully average in many ways, with a great balance of features that made her a real treat. She just has that one weakness and I’ve always loved a challenge.
Would I Recommend?
Alabama competes with two other American premium battleships that bracket her tier: Arizona at tier 6 and Missouri at tier 9. Missouri is a troublesome ship for some players to afford, locked behind the wall of 750,000 free experience, while Arizona is an easier purchase but suffers due to the Matchmaker which often puts tier 6 at the middle or bottom tier. Truthfully, Missouri is the better ship to grab, especially after 0.6.3 when her citadel gets lowered. This doesn’t make Alabama bad, but she cannot challenge Missouri for primacy.
ForRandom Battle Grinding: This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements.
Mouse: Alabama is an excellent credit earner, but she doesn’t hold a candle compared to Missouri. If Missouri isn’t available, then Alabama holds her own quite nicely, making around 350,000 credits before premium for a 2,000 base experience game. With her great AA power, shooting down even a handful of planes can greatly increase the amount of experience gained in a match, letting Alabama top the experience charts much more often than she might otherwise.
Lert: Yeah. She’s a tier 8 premium, and a very good one at that. Wear that Zulu flag and watch the credits roll in. Wear a dragon flag and a Zulu Hotel on watch that captain fast-track through training. In earning potential she’s every bit a match for Tirpitz, Atago and Kutuzov, and second only to Missouri.
For Competitive Gaming: Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding.
Mouse: Alabama will always suffer her citadel poorly in competitive environments. Using her speed and agility combined with her AA power, she’s a good asset to the team. However, if she’s ever caught out, she’s a ready target for the enemy team. She is the less optimal choice when compared to ships like Bismarck or North Carolina.
Lert: At first I was going to answer a tentative ‘yes’ here, seeing how comfortably she plays and how she compares to North Carolina. But honestly? You’re likely still better off with a Bismarck. You’ll give up firepower and agility for sheer brutish toughness, flexibility and secondaries.
For Collectors: If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you.
Mouse: It’s the Lucky A. Yes. What’s wrong with you?
Lert: Yes. While Alabama herself didn’t do much of note during her service she still exists as a museum ship. Plus, she’s the only South Dakota class currently in the game.
For Fun Factor: Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play?
Mouse: Very yes. I enjoyed my time very much sailing her… so much so that I’m giving North Carolina a bit of the stink eye. Alabama has good agility, great gun handling, punchy guns and who doesn’t like making enemy carriers cry?
Lert: Yes. Alabama is a comfortable and enjoyable ship to drive. Until you overestimate your turn and end up losing 2/3 of your health to some well placed battleship AP into your overexposed citadel. If you’re the kind of person who can suck it up when that happens and admit it was your own mistake to show so much side, Alabama is a fun and rewarding ship to play.