ShipComrade

Mouse’s Little White Christmas Reviews #1: HMS Vanguard

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.

HMS Vanguard

First up is HMS Vanguard which appeared in the online store on November 16th, 2018.  She’s an attempt on Wargaming’s part to create a tier VIII Warspite and, bless them, they did try.

PROS

  • Large hit point pool of 71,700hp.
  • Main battery has a quick 25s reload and excellent gun handling.
  • Has the same dispersion pattern as Warspite, Hood and Queen Elizabeth and boasts 2.0 sigma, making her one of the most precise battleships in the game.
  • Excellent AP and HE performance including good penetration and damage values, rewarding versatile ammunition play.
  • Very fast rudder shift time for a battleship of 9.6 seconds.
  • Improved Repair Party, queuing and healing back 20% more than standard and with fast reset timer.

CONS

  • Exposed, above-water citadel.
  • Absolutely appalling firing angles on her main battery, often forcing her to fire with only half her armament.
  • Main battery is only eight 381mm rifles creating issues with overmatching and DPM.
  • AA defense is for self defense only and is concentrated in 3.5km range, medium caliber mounts that are easily knocked out.
  • Large turning radius of 850m and slow rate of turn exacerbates the issues with her fire angles.

So here’s the basics of what you need to know about this ship:

Guns:  4×2 381mm with 8×2 134mm secondaries

Vanguard has very accurate guns with some great gun handling.  However, her fire angles are some of the worst in the game.  Seriously, they are just awful and I wouldn’t recommend this ship to players based solely upon that fact.  If you want to get a sense of how bad they are, play King George V, the tier VII British battleship.  Vanguard has similarly restricted forward firing arcs.  However, unlike the KGV-class, her rear arcs almost as bad.  You’ve got to expose a lot of broadside to unmask these guns.  As a best-case scenario, this will cause you to occasionally beach yourself as you use the rudder to compensate.  At worst, it will get your citadel blown out.

These, gentlemen, are what you call “deal breakers”.  Ideally you want your gun firing angles to be able to engage targets as close to 30º off hull as possible to facilitate ricocheting return fire.  Once this value gets to 45º, it’s no longer possible to automatically ricochet enemy shells.

This deficiency is a shame because otherwise her gunnery is really comfortable.  Her disperison and sigma are identical to that of HMS Warspite which has arguably the best precision in the game right now.  Her AP penetration is comparable to that on Gneisenau, Bismarck and Tirpitz and her HE shells are identical to those found on Famous and Historical Monarch.  Vanguard has the same fuse timer as most other battleships which gives her AP shells a lot of bite, especially at range.  This is a ship you can spam AP on and get good results — it’s really quite refreshing.

Aside from her firing arcs, the final downside is that she’s only armed with 381mm guns.  She can’t overmatch 27mm bows of tier VIII+ heavy cruisers from the American and German lines.  What’s more, with only eight guns (and you’re often only firing four), she doesn’t output damage quickly, even with her fast reload.

Forget that she has secondaries.  They suck.

Defense:  71,700hp with 356mm Belt, 32mm deck and extremities and 25% TDR

Vanguard has a solid chunk of hit points and a great (but not god tier) Repair Party.  Her consumable is an improved version over Warspite’s own, queuing up 60% of penetration damage dealt and 33% of citadel damage. In addition, it heals up to 16.8% of her maximum HP per charge (as opposed to 14% which is standard).  Finally, it has an accelerated reset timer of 90s / 60s as opposed to the standard 120s / 80s.  With an India Delta signal installed, Vanguard can heal back up to 14.5k hit points per charge.  The only other consumable she gets is a Damage Control Party which conforms to the norms for British battleships.

This is all pretty good news given that she has an above-water citadel and pretty terrible anti-torpedo protection.  If you expose your sides, you will take citadel damage from any battleship that’s paying attention.  Given the problems with her gun arcs, you will be tempted to expose your sides… often.

Vanguard’s citadel is T-shaped with the top section flaring out to adjoin to the outer belt at the waterline. This part is particularly vulnerable to battleship AP shells.  460mm AP shells fired from Musashi and Yamato through her upper hull are fully capable of overmatching her citadel roof and landing citadel hits that way, so beware.

Agility: 30kt top speed with 850m turning radius and 9.7s rudder shift.  4.1º/s rotation rate.

Despite her fast rudder shift time, Vanguard’s held back by her turning radius.  She can’t comfortably swing out her backside to unmask her guns, fire and then swing back in between enemy reloads.  She does dance torpedo beats reasonably well though — at least you’re unlikely to ever over-steer.

Stealth:  16.0km stock / 12.0km upgraded surface detection

Her concealment is worse than North Carolina but better than the South Dakota-class battleships — this means it’s good but it’s not great.  Her permanent-camouflage bonuses are normal for a tier VIII battleship, including economic gains.

AA Defense:  68dps @5.2km and 413dps @3.5km

Vanguard’s DPS is focused within her medium-caliber 40mm guns.  These are great for personal defense but useless for fleet defense.  Without upgrades, she’ll shoot down some planes but she won’t stop them from dropping their munitions.  Upgraded, she can be a bit of a terror, especially to lower tiered aircraft carriers.  However, once she starts taking HE damage, she can quickly find any effective AA defense neutered.

Would I Recommend?

I’d give Vanguard a hard pass and it’s a shame.  I’m not going to lie, this all comes down to her fire angles.  I don’t like feeling like I’m fighting with the ship to make her perform and those fire angles were just not something that I ever got used to.  I imagine that if you could get over that, you’re going to be well rewarded and you’ll probably end up liking this ship a lot.  Vanguard has got some great things going for her.  Her gunnery is fantastic.  It was wonderful to be using Royal Navy AP shells with confidence.  Her Repair Party is pretty boss and her agility isn’t terrible either.

She can really put out the damage provided she’s left alone in order to do it.  I just don’t want to waste my time getting frustrated with how a ship handles for that kind of quid, you know?

The Endy Bits

That’s it for this quick look at Vanguard.  Hopefully that will be enough to tide you over until I get a full review out.  The full review will have all of my usual fixings including graphs, layouts, build recommendations and snark.   See you then!


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