There may be as many as thirteen premium ships being released over the coming holiday season. I want to cover them all, but I may need more time than is available to get my review done. These Little White Christmas Reviews are intended to be placeholders until I can finish the full article. This way, I can make sure I have at least something available when the ship hit the stores, even if it’s limited to general impressions. The full reviews, as you’re used to them, will follow. My priority order will be new vessels before reskins, high-tier ships before low tier and for-money (or free-XP) ships before coal, steel and reward ships.
Paint it Black
The “Black” ships (not to be confused with USS Black) have been added to the online store. These are clones of existing premium ship releases, right down to their camouflage bonuses. I have reviewed each of these ships in full with three out of the four having had their ship revisited within the last year.
The aesthetic of the black camouflage is interesting. It’s two-toned with one of the blacks being more of a matte finish with the other having a touch of semi-gloss. This is accented by a chrome trim. I do have to give compliments to the artist(s) who put these skins together — they look very sharp. While I would have personally preferred these camouflage patterns were simply sold for their existing namesakes, there’s no harm with the Black ships existing except to your wallet.
I’ll go through each of these ships with my general feelings of how they play and give you a yes/no recommendation for each. Note, I’m doing this for the ship as a whole, not specifically the Black-version. If you want one of these ships, well, now you’re spoiled for choice on the palette.
Asashio is a memebote. She’s overspecialized to the point of comedy, infamously armed with 20km “deepwater” torpedoes that are only capable of engaging enemy battleships and aircraft carriers. During development, certain portions of the community made some pretty outlandish claims regarding Asashio’s inclusion, including (but not limited to):
- Asashio was meant to reduce the number of battleships queuing in Random Battles.
- Asashio was intended to break the bow-camping meta.
- Asashio would make pushing in a battleship impossible.
She does none of these things. Her popularity following her initial release plummeted to the point that she’s a rare sight in Randoms. As a one trick pony, this isn’t surprising. It’s easy to get your fill of this relatively one-dimensional gameplay rather quickly. With patch 0.7.11 Asashio received a buff to her gunnery. Her shell damage has increased from 1,800 per shell to 2,150 along with a boost of the fire chance per shell from 7% to 9%. This buff is modest, but welcome, giving her a few more teeth to try and dissuade pursuing gunships or try and tax the Damage Control Party of enemy battleships.
Would I Recommend?
On the whole, I’d give Asashio a solid “pass”. She’s such a one-trick pony. She’s hilariously good at that one particular trick, but she didn’t initiate the Apocalypse as doomsayers promised. I am disappoint.
Atago has been (and continues to be) one of the most reliable premium cruisers found in the game. For fans of the Japanese heavy cruiser line, she spoils them by carrying over their game play elements perfectly and adding a safety net in the form of a Repair Party. The generous fire-sectors of her torpedo launchers are also welcome.
Atago has long been one of my favourite ships in the game. Fast, stealthy, hard hitting and with her consumable helping band-aid the relative fragility of IJN heavy cruisers, she’s always felt like a safe purchase to me. If you’ve enjoyed any of the 203mm armed Japanese heavy cruisers between Furutaka and Ibuki, Atago is a great premium. What’s more, with patch 0.7.11, Atago received a huge accuracy buff, which reduced their dispersion from cruiser levels down to destroyer levels. What I like most about this buff is that it allows her to be a little more versatile with her upgrade choices — you can now take AA Guns Modification 2 in her 3rd upgrade slot to pad her admittedly weak AA power without adversely affecting her gunnery.
Would I Recommend?
Atago is about as safe a purchase as they come. If you like Japanese heavy cruiser game play and want more of the same, just easier, then Atago is a great ride.
Massachusetts has to be one of the most pleasant surprises of 2018. What began life as a slightly less stealthy and slightly more manoeuvrable Alabama-clone became something else entirely over the course of development. Massachusetts differentiated from her sister-ship significantly with reduced accuracy, improved heals and phenomenal secondary firepower. In this last aspect, she dominates having arguably the best secondary performance of any of the battleships currently in the game.
For anyone who ever wanted a brawling American battleship, here she is. The South Dakota-class battleships are reliable ships, copying a lot of what works on the North Carolina-class but with added agility and anti-torpedo defense.
Would I Recommend?
Yes, with a butt. For fans of the American battleship line, Massachusetts might seem like an easy purchase, but you have to keep her commander-skill needs in mind. This isn’t a ship that you’d want for a trainer. She demands her own dedicated captain to really get the most out of her.
And finally, we come to the original and best: Tirpitz.
TIrpitz is almost a copy of her sister-ship, Bismarck, with just a few changes. Tirpitz has slightly more hit points. Tirpitz has reduced AA firepower. Tirpitz lacks her sister’s Hydroacoustic Search. Tirpitz has two quadruple torpedo-launchers. Before Massachusetts came around, she was the default heavyweight brawling champion, with phenomenal secondaries and the frightening killing power of those fish. She’s still decent but Tirpitz feels a bit long in the tooth these days.
The addition of AP bombs to the American aircraft carrier arsenal didn’t do Tirpitz any favours. Already dangerously vulnerable to air attack, she can be one-shot by dive bombers which is about as fun as it sounds. Even when they’re absent, Royal Navy battleships just love to set this ship on fire and break her torpedoes before she even gets a chance to get in close.
Still, when everything goes right, Tirpitz delivers. It’s just unfortunate that those opportunities to slam fish into unsuspecting ships is so uncommon.
Would I Recommend?
Meh? Tirpitz used to be a safe purchase, once upon a time, but now it’s definitely more of a personal preference. If you enjoyed Bismarck or other mid-to-high tier German battleship,s then sure. Otherwise, I’d give her a pass.
The Endy Bits