This isn’t one of my premium ship reviews, but it will be following a similar template. This is a look back at a design that almost came to be in World of Warships. Back in December of 2017 the tier VII British battleship, HMS Duke of York, was in testing and she had a very unique and controversial build. It was so controversial in fact that it caused no small amount of push-back from the community. This version was eventually and quite unfortunately scrapped. It forms the backbone of this proposal for HMS Prince of Wales.
This article is a hybrid of sorts — both a proposal for Prince of Wales and a report on how the old test-version of Duke of York behaved. Short of her anti-aircraft firepower and Spotter Aircraft consumable, all of the performance statistics discussed in this article have been tested extensively. This is born out of experience and a longing for a ship that no longer exists in World of Warships. The in-game pictures scattered throughout are using Duke of York as stand-ins.
In case it wasn’t clear: This ship is not a Work in Progress vessel. It’s a proposal for a new premium (HMS Prince of Wales) based on the design of an older version of HMS Duke of York from early December 2017.
- Deeply submerged magazines & machine spaces with thick belt armour, making her difficult to citadel.
- Fires only burn for 30s instead of 60s.
- Uses a cruiser’s Damage Control Party with a fast, 90s/60s reset timer.
- Heavy broadside firepower of ten 356mm rifles with a quick 25s reload.
- AP shells have improved auto-ricochet angles of 60º to 67.5º.
- HE shells have a 41% fire chance per shell hit, high damage and capable of penetrating sections with up to 88mm of armour.
- Very accurate guns for a Royal Navy battleship with 2.05 sigma.
- Access to the Defensive Fire & Hydroacoustic Search consumables.
- No Repair Party consumable. Seriously. You can’t heal.
- Small battleship caliber reduces damage of individual shells and prevents overmatching of 25mm bows found commonly within her Matchmaking.
- Bad fire angles on all of her main battery guns.
- Anti-aircraft firepower is mostly concentrated in short-ranged, fragile 40mm pom-pom mounts.
- Large, 790m turning circle with a slow rudder shift time of 15.0s and slow rate of turn of 4.1º/s.
Prince of Wales is King George V-class battleship that lacks a Repair Party. Her firepower has been massaged with higher accuracy and improved AP performance, making her especially hard-hitting. Her powerful suite of consumables is designed to increase her longevity versus aircraft, torpedoes and damage-over-time effects while keeping her vulnerable to shell fire.
To be clear, Prince of Wales differs from the current Duke of York in the following ways:
- Duke of York does not have access to Defensive Fire. Once upon a time, she did have it and it’s preserved with Prince of Wales. You can imagine how gloriously disgusting it was with Duke of York’s AA suite. I have half a mind to make this HMS Howe in order to mirror how revolting it was.
- Speaking of AA suites, Prince of Wales has a much-reduced anti-aircraft battery.
- Prince of Wales has a Spotter Aircraft consumable.
- Duke of York has a standard battleship Damage Control Party. Prince of Wales uses a cruiser’s version.
- Fires onboard Duke of York burn for 60s. On Prince of Wales fires burn for 30s.
- Prince of Wales has 2.05 sigma instead of the 1.80 sigma of Duke of York.
- Prince of Wales has a main battery reload time of 25.0s. Duke of York has 28s.
- Prince of Wales has a rudder shift time of 15.0s, not 17.5s.
- Duke of York has a reduced-charge Repair Party. Prince of Wales has no Repair Party.
Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult
Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / Extreme
Prince of Wales is a battleship with the training wheels removed. If mistakes are made, she doesn’t have any ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards to play to recover back the hit points lost. However, she rewards players with improved AP performance, encouraging dynamic ammunition choice and buffed accuracy.
For Veterans, the advantages of Prince of Wales become readily apparent:
- Accurate battleship caliber guns with improved auto-bounce characteristics and powerful HE shells.
- Hydroacoustic Search allows her to better avoid torpedoes. In a pinch, it may also be used to dig out enemy vessels hiding in smoke.
- Defensive Fire to protect not only herself but her allies as well.
- Reduced vulnerability to fire damage.
Provided she avoids being focused, Prince of Wales can deal tremendous amounts of damage very quickly — exceeding the output of contemporary battleships. She has the versatility to let her flex into different roles as needed, including tanking. While not as adept at soaking damage compared to her sisters, she is far more hardy than her cruiser allies. However, should she be caught out of position, she will quickly be sent back to port.
– One of, if not the worst at its tier. This is a pronounced weakness.
– Middle of the pack at its tier. Not terrible, but not terribly good either.
– Has a significant advantage over her tier mates. A solid, competitive performer.
– No other ship at its tier does this as well as this ship.
- Prince of Wales has the Firepower and Vision Control at her tier. This helps her dispatch enemies quickly and avoid damage.
- She pays for all of her Firepower and Vision advantages by having durability for a battleship with no ability to recover from damage taken.
- She has AA firepower, making her a thorny prospect for most aircraft carriers.
- Finally, her manoeuvrability is merely and unremarkable.
- Her Damage Control Party is the same as those found on cruisers (and HMS Warspite). This has a 5s immunity period and 90 second / 60 reset timer depending on if you use the premium version or not as opposed to the 120s / 80s reset timer and 15s immunity enjoyed by other Royal Navy Battleships.
- Prince of Wales’ Hydroacoustic Search is identical to the one found on tier VII cruisers. This detects torpedoes at 2.97km, ships at 4.20km and is active for 94s (these values changes to 3.0km and 5.0km with the changes announced on the World of Warships Dev Blog). It has between a two and three minute reset timer, depending on the version selected and starts with two base charges.
- Similarly, her Defensive Fire is identical to those found on cruisers. This has a 40s active period, increases the DPS of her 134mm and 40mm AA guns four times over and shares the same two minute / three minute reset timer. She has two base charges.
- Finally, she has access to a Spotter Aircraft to increase her range by 20% for 100s. This has a 360s/240s reset timer and three base charges.
Prince of Wales is optimally outfitted with the following:
- Start with Main Armaments Modification 1.
- If you have access to it take the special upgrades Defensive AA Fire Modification 1 or Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 in your second slot. Otherwise default to Damage Control Modification 1.
- Follow this up with Aiming System Modification 1. This is optimal. However, if you’re salty about aircraft carriers, you can take AA Guns Modification 2 to bump up the reach of your flak at the expense of main battery accuracy.
- And finally, you have a choice of either Damage Control Modification 2 or Steering Gears Modification 2 depending on your preference.
Prince of Wales comes with Type 10 Camouflage providing:
- 50% bonus experience gains
- 10% reduction to maintenance costs
- 3% reduction in surface detection
- 4% reduction in enemy accuracy.
Primary Battery: Ten 356mm rifles in an A-B-X superfiring configuration.
Secondary Battery: Sixteen 134mm guns in 8×2 turrets
Prince of Wales secondaries lack the penetration power and volume of fire to make them a credible threat to her opponents. Their shell damage, range and fire chance are respectable but they cannot be counted to see to this ship’s defense. If you’re lucky, they’ll finish off an enemy lolibote or maybe help tax a battleship’s Damage Control Party. Asking for more is just getting greedy. This isn’t a weapon system worth investing skills, signals or upgrades into enhancing directly. Massachusetts this is not. Moving on.
Prince of Wales is a contender for one of the heaviest hitters at her tier. She combines the reload time and damage output of King George V with the auto-bounce improvements found on Duke of York while adding a dash of improved accuracy to make every battleship short of Warspite and Yamato envious. As nice of a sales pitch as this sounds, they aren’t without their issues.
With that out of the way, there are two stand-out characteristics about her gun handling which almost make up for these previously listed deficiencies.
Prince of Wales has an excellent rate of fire. Her twenty-five second reload is amazing. Maybe it’s a trick of her slower shell flight time but it just feels like such a short reload cycle — it’s a rare occurrence to find yourself counting down the seconds before her next volley is ready. This only improves as the match progresses with the use of the Adrenaline Rush commander skill. At 50% health, Prince of Wales’ reload time drops to 22.5s. Provided you can swing her butt out without getting her machine spaces blown out, combining this rate of fire with her ten gun barrels gives Prince of Wales (along with King George V) the highest potential DPM for a battleship at her tier. She absolutely punishes opponents.
It only gets better, however. Royal Navy battleships are some of the most accurate in the game and Prince of Wales almost (almost) unseats HMS Warspite as the best sniper among them. This ship boasts the second highest sigma value currently found among battleships. Her 2.05 rating is on par with cruiser levels. This clusters her shell fall pattern towards the center of your target marker. While she may still suffer from the occasional rogue shell, such incidents are greatly reduced compared to other battleships. This is a warship that greatly rewards good aim and proper ammunition choices.
Now let’s talk ammo…
Prince of Wales’ AP shells are spectacular. This is unfortunate, largely because their performance will be ignored in favour of spamming HE instead.
- Prince of Wales’ AP shells have improved auto-ricochet angles. Most battleships shells have a chance to bounce at 45º angles and automatically ricochet off a target at 60º. Like Duke of York and Hood, Prince of Wales’ shells do not begin to check for ricochets until 60º angles and will not automatically bounce until 67.5º.In practice this means you can deal damage to targets that think themselves properly angled and safe from reprisals, including battleships that are bow tanking. If they haven’t positioned themselves perfectly, it’s possible for you to slam AP shells through their bows for some easy penetration damage. Generally speaking, if a battleship is firing back at you with any of its rear-mounted guns, you can penetrate their bow with Prince of Wales’ AP shells. She’s also quite adept blowing out the citadel of cruisers as they go evasive. Her guns have a lot more tolerance where they might otherwise bounce off. Overall, this provides a lot more ubiquity for Prince of Wales’ AP shells, allowing you to do more with them without having to switch over to HE.
- Your AP shells have fast-arming fuses. Normal battleship shells explode 0.033s after striking a surface thick enough to arm their fuse. Royal Navy AP shells do this in less than half that time — 0.015s. In practice, this means fewer overpenetrations from her AP shells hits, provided they strike a target with sufficient armour to fuse her shells in the first place. This is especially useful when hunting cruisers and doubly so at close ranges.
Combined with the accuracy bonus described above, it’s not uncommon for Prince of Wales to land 12,000+ damage volleys against enemy battleships without landing any citadel hits even at 14km to 15km ranges. If they’re foolish enough to give you a broadside, punish them. Aim for the upper hull (avoid their armoured belt) and hoover up the damage. There are two drawbacks to her AP shells though.
- Your AP shells cannot overmatch the bows of tier VI+ battleships or tier VIII+ heavy cruisers. The smaller caliber of her guns precludes her from damaging ships with 25mm or more bow plating if they angle perfectly. Her improved auto-ricochet angles mitigates this somewhat, but generally speaking, Prince of Wales must switch to HE shells against these targets.
- Prince of Wales will struggle to citadel enemy battleships. Even for 356mm, Prince of Wales’ penetration values are lackluster. Outside of 10km, Prince of Wales largely loses her ability to damage the machine spaces and magazines of enemy battleships.
Prince of Wales is still a second generation Royal Navy battleship and she still enjoys all of the overwhelming (and overpowered) potential of their HE shells. In short, they have improved damage, penetration and fire setting characteristics compared to the battleships from Japan, France, Italy and the United States. Overall, Prince of Wales’ HE shells are powerful enough in of themselves to overshadow everything else about her gunnery.
For those already cringing at the thought of another HE spamming battleship joining the ranks, it gets worse — Prince of Wales is highly accurate. Her initial volleys deal 2,013 damage per penetrating hit and she has the sigma value to ensure that she lands several shells at a time. She’s as capable of farming Witherer and Arsonist medals as any of her Royal Navy peers. It’s only their smaller caliber that prevents Prince of Wales’ HE shells from from being god-tier ammunition. She caps out at 88mm of penetration, making her unable to land citadel hits against the majority of cruisers she faces.
Unless you take Inertial Fuse for HE Shells. But you’re not going to do that. You’re not a monster, right?
It’s too easy to understate how effective Prince of Wales’ gunnery performs. She ends worlds. On a per volley basis, even at range, provided you’re not one of the gunnery crew of Spaceball 1, you’ll land multiple hits. If you’re giving people cancer with HE, that’s going to guarantee fires. If you’re using AP, that damage adds up fast. Prince of Wales has a higher damage output than any of her peers, bar none.
- Deceptively powerful guns. Don’t let their small caliber fool you.
- Versatile AP shells which excel at punishing unwary targets…
- … but that doesn’t matter because you’re probably going to derp-spam HE. I hate you.
What would have to happen to DOWNGRADE to : With her current setup, Prince of Wales has the best firepower at her tier. She has not only the DPM advantage but accuracy as well. She delivers hard hits fast and repeatedly. Slashing her rate of fire or neutering the normalization and/or some of her HE characteristics would tame her considerably.
Hit Points: 60,500
Maximum Citadel Protection: 381mm + 44mm
Min Bow & Deck Armour: 25mm
Torpedo Damage Reduction: 22%
The King George V-class battleships have excellent belt armour and citadel protection but they’re held back by two gaping big holes in their protection scheme. The first is their vulnerability to high explosive fire. Princes of Wales’ upper hull, extremities and deck are only 25mm thick — right in that sweet spot to take direct damage from HE shells from any small caliber guns using Inertial Fuse for HE Shells on their commander. Her enormous 25mm bow just begs to be overmatched by 380mm+ caliber AP shells.
Short of baiting shots into her belt, Prince of Wales is open 24/7 to penetrations. Girl, have some respect for yourself.
To put this into perspective, a single penetrating hit from a 410mm IJN AP shell from Nagato deals 4,158 damage. It takes only a modest anti-fire build to bring the damage Prince of Wales takes from blazes down to a reasonable level. Provided a player doesn’t panic when set ablaze, Prince of Wales can tank a lot of fire damage.
This is good news given her vulnerability to torpedoes. Her anti torpedo protection only mitigates about a fifth of the damage done that strikes her along her belt. It’s best to make good use of her Hydroacoustic Search to avoid torpedoes in the first place.
This all sounds like a bit of a mixed bag. Decent citadel protection but vulnerability to HE. She’s resistant to fires but torpedoes hurt a lot. The capstone which decides this whole matter is the complete lack of a Repair Party consumable on Prince of Wales. She is utterly incapable of recovering from damage done. This necessitates a different approach to playing this battleship. Prince of Wales rewards a player that keeps an eye on the flow of battle and is mindful of how best to use their armour and concealment to reduce damage.
And she slaps the Hell out of anyone too stubborn to pick up the knack.
There’s no sugar coating it, this is a tremendous flaw. This is the currency through which her excellent main battery firepower and her gimmicky consumables are paid. The cost will be too dear for some but it’s a price well worth paying for the artillery performance and utility Prince of Wales provides.
Top Speed: 28.0knots
Turning Radius: 790m
Rudder Shift: 15.0s
Maximum Turn Rate: 4.1º/s
There’s a whole lot of “average” going on here. Prince of Wales wins no prizes for top speed (that goes jointly to Gneisenau and Hood), turning radius (Colorado wins there), rudder shift time (Hood has that one too) or rate of turn (Gneisenau takes top spot). Prince of Wales sits comfortably in the middle in all regards here, handling identically to King George V.
Base Surface Detection Range: 14.58km
Air Detection Range: 12.51km
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 12.16km
Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 12.63km
Main Battery Firing Range: 18.15km
Stealthy but Not…
Along with her sisters King George V and Duke of York, Prince of Wales has the joint-best surface detection of any of the tier VII battleships. As good as this sounds, it’s a bit of a booby prize. Like (most) destroyers at her tier, the battleships at tier VII do not boast competitive concealment values within their Matchmaking. Monarch, Roma and North Carolina at tier VIII and Lion at tier IX are all capable of being more stealth thanks to their access to the Concealment Modification 1 upgrade. Still, there are a long list of other battleships that Prince of Wales can out spot, which is something. Overall, she sits in the top half within her Matchmakiing.
Suffice to say, coupled with her fragility, this isn’t a ship with which you’re going to want to do your own spotting. She’s a second line support vessel during the opening stages of the match until you can properly assess where the enemy forces are. It’s even worth holding your fire during the first few minutes lest your gun bloom makes you the only target visible for the entire enemy team. Once some of your allies start diffusing the incoming fire Prince of Wales can go to work with her excellent firepower.
Vision Control Consumables
During the latter stages of close matches, Prince of Wales’ ability to control vision starts to come into her own. With less threat of being focused, she can exercise her ability to tank and lead the charge for her squishier little sisters. She’s well equipped for this, with both a Spotter Aircraft and Hydroacoustic Search to assist with providing vision as she advances. In a pinch, she can even force ships out of smoke screens with less worry about torpedoes.
Overall, Prince of Wales is decent at controlling vision, but she doesn’t dominate here. It’s enough to help keep her alive and, in a pinch, provide support for her team.
What would have to happen to DOWNGRADE to : Prince of Wales bests even Duke of York for vision control at tier VII, having an extra Spotter Aircraft consumable to assist with projecting sight for her team. Losing that would merely keep her on par with her sister-ship, so she’d have to lose her Hydroacoustic Search or gain a few hundred meters worth of spotting range.
AA Battery Calibers: 134mm / 40mm / 40mm / 20mm
AA Umbrella Ranges: 4.5km / 3.5km / 2.5km / 2.0km
AA DPS per Aura: 64.8 / 7.6 / 118.8 / 25.2
Stock, Prince of Wales has fairly low-to-average anti-aircraft firepower — comparable to Nagato or or Nelson in overall effectiveness. This shouldn’t inspire much in the way of confidence. Neither of these two battleships are known for having great flak cover. Caught out and without upgrades, Prince of Wales doesn’t have the raw AA range or DPS to see off enemy aircraft squadrons. She may shoot a plane or two down, but they’ll still drop their payloads.
Short of having friends (what are those!?) Prince of Wales is utterly dependent upon her Defensive AA Fire consumable to keep her safe from the predations of air attack. Even then, without a deep skill build to emphasize her anti-aircraft firepower higher tiered aircraft carriers can tank the damage from her guns and still put bombs and torpedoes on target.
Princes of Wales’ AA defense is part and parcel for giving up her Repair Party consumable. With the proper build, she’ll take little to no direct damage from aircraft which isn’t something many tier VII battleships can boast.
Shut up, Hood.
What it would have needed to be : In order to top Hood’s ridiculous rocket-launchers, Prince of Wales would need a lot more weighted anti-aircraft firepower within her medium and large caliber gun mounts. This can be accomplished by adding more guns (boo-urns! muh histories!) or massaging her her Defensive AA Fire to provide a further boost to her weapons when activated.
- Fun and challenging ship to play.
- She mitigates RNG’s influence. Being set on fire doesn’t feel as frustrating. Dispersion doesn’t feel as punitive. Her own high fire chance and accuracy makes stacking your own blazes easy or delivering well aimed AP strikes to cruiser citadels.
- She’s not as vulnerable as some players may think and tanking feels very rewarding when you do it right.
There’s a saying within the community: the ship is only as good as the player. Player skill is easily one of the most important factors with a ship’s performance. However, it would be folly to dismiss how certain ships act as a lens to focus the abilities of the player. Prince of Wales is one such ship, scaling handsomely with player skill.
While it may seem folly to some, there’s a reason so many testers lament the loss of the Duke of York that could have been. Few ships reward a sense of risk and dare as she did. In World of Warships, this high-risk adrenaline is seldom found outside of destroyer game play. Some battleships get a taste when they go brawling but it’s rare to experience it within that ship type. With Prince of Wales, this thrill is constant. She borrows a lot of the pucker factor with which cruiser players are all too familiar.
Prince of Whales plays a game of cat and mouse against the Red team where you’re never quite certain while role you’re playing. Prince of Wales can deliver massive amounts of damage very quickly when played well, but there’s always that fear that the wrong move will get you caught out and torn apart. Even then, her death can be slowed by clever play and maybe, just maybe you can buy enough time to put the enemies down before you succumb.
I cannot overstate how much I miss this ship.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
It’s been almost a year since I first started playing HMS Duke of York. 2017 had seen several ships get tested with some variant of cruiser-crossover mechanics. It’s evident in hindsight that this was probably laying the groundwork for ships like Stalingrad, Kronshtadt and Alaska, speeding up (or at least smoothing out) their own development process. None of these ships that were used as guinea pigs quite caught my attention the way the 0.6.14 test build did for Duke of York.
Destined to be a reward ship, she could not remain the ship I had enjoyed. She needed to be accessible for the masses — not a funny-bote with queer game elements that appealed to a veteran player. Duke of York was central to completing many of the missions for the Battle of the North Cape campaign over New Years. The Prince of Wales design was too much of a departure from standard battleship play. While it could be learned, time was not a luxury players had over the holidays. The campaign would only run so long and the missions had to be completed by the deadline. Thus, the design was shelved and something more familiar was put in its place. Mass appeal was central to getting more players to login over New Year’s.
I didn’t have a proper appreciation of the reasoning for this decision when I reviewed her final form. I lambasted the release version and mourned the one that was lost. While the two ships have comparable performance levels, one was interesting while the other was a bore. Prince of Wales was a ship of feast and famine, spiky in its reward and challenge while Duke of York was far more stable and predictable.
It’s my wish that this article, this combination of hindsight and hope kindles a just a little excitement for a ship that could have been and which may one day return…
How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale?
GARBAGE – Grossly uncompetitive and badly in need of buffs.
Mehbote – Average ship. Has strengths and weaknesses. Doesn’t need buffs to be viable, but certainly not advantageous.
Gudbote – A strong ship that has obvious competitive strengths and unique features that make it very appealing.
OVERPOWERED – A ship with very clear advantages over all of its competitors and unbalancing the game with its inclusion.