Happy New Year!
The last dregs of 2018 are dripping away, so it’s time to look back on the last 365 days and get all mushy about it. In my case, this largely involves reflecting on all of the ships Wargaming released over the last twelve months that tried to bait out your wallets, your time and/or your sanity.
A total of thirty new premium and reward ships were released in 2018, including four clones. Of these, twenty-six were sold and eleven were “free” ships. There’s a bit of overlap there. Given the gating of alternative currencies used, it was all but impossible for a player to acquire all of the free ships without forking out money. Of these eleven freebies, six were high-tier reward ships including no less than two vessels that can only be purchased with Steel.
2018 wasn’t anywhere near as dramatic as 2017 when it came to ship releases and shifts in the meta. Given the upcoming aircraft carrier rework slated to drop in the early months of 2019, this past year looks like a quiet lull sandwiched in between two poop-tornadoes. Leaving fecal-forecasting aside, I’ve asked Lert to once again join me in looking over the premium and reward ships released in 2018 and going over which ones we thought were the most memorable.
Lert: This year has gone without great controversy, as far as premium ships are concerned. No Alabama, no Graf Zeppelin. One might argue that West Virginia was a controversy when they announced the 1941 version instead of the more coveted 1944 one, but all in all the outrage about WeeVee was a drop in the bucket compared to the aforementioned tier VIII premiums of years of yore. Maybe we as a community grew up a little and learned how to present our opinion without rage, maybe WG listened more and capitulated earlier, I don’t know – but the end result is overall less controversy, and I can only consider that a good thing.
As for the premium ships themselves, maybe I’m getting older and more jaded, but I think this was one of the lesser years in World of Warships history as far as interesting premium ships are concerned. Sure there were some gems and some stinkers, but overall I’d say 2017 was a better year than 2018 was and 2016 a better year than 2017 was. But even a mediocre year for premiums still leaves me with enough to talk about. So without further ado …
The Biggest Disappointment
Varyag is an underpowered and totally superfluous premium ship. Remarkable for being completely unremarkable. Did we really need another low tier Russian protected cruiser? Nothing interesting in the way of game play, she only stands out for being absolutely drop dead gorgeous. Varyag gets the waste of effort award for the 3D modeling and texturing team churning out an absolute masterpiece that the balancing team couldn’t make worth actually taking out into battle.
Varyag is not even interesting enough for a second paragraph. Moving on …
Varyag wasn’t even on my radar, which I guess supports Lert’s argument that she’s utterly forgettable. There were a few candidates here, including Vanguard, Salem and WV41. However, in my mind, the biggest disappointment was also the ship I found to be the most frustrating.
Duca degli Abruzzi is the Krasny Krym of 2018. This undergunned, overtiered abomination is only held together grace of her Repair Party. However, the near-exclusivity of that consumable at tier VII immediately lost its shine when Boise and Nueve de Julio showed up. I have no doubt it will continue to erode in the future. The poor manner in which she was balanced fills me with dread. Rather than address the core issues with the ship Wargaming resorted to diving into their box of gimmicks. I am not optimistic about the balance and play style upcoming Regia Marina cruisers.
There is no doubt a health counter-culture movement that loves Abruzzi but she’s no darling of mine.
That Time Wargaming Made Me Uncomfortable
Jean Bart is a battleship with main battery reload booster, but that’s not why I’m discussing her here. She’s an uptiered tier VIII with some tweaks, buffed AA and a reload booster. That’s it. She manages to be very flexible and reward good aim, a worthy addition to the game in and of itself. But that’s not the reason she’s on this list. She’s here because WarGaming broke their long standing rule of not directly selling anything higher than tier VIII for money. Of course, Jean Bart cost a veritable aft load of money, but there she was, a tier IX, being sold directly in the premium store.
What does this mean? Well, it opens the gates for further tier IX premium ships for direct sale. Here’s hoping for Friesland. Ah, who am I kidding – we’ll see pigs fly before Friesland makes it into the game. Jean Bart, she’s fun, she’s novel, she’s flexible and she’s the first tier IX sold for direct money.
I echo Lert’s concerns here regarding Jean Bart. She had a troubled development cycle, showing up originally as a tier VIII premium and then getting bumped up to a IX when she proved to be too powerful. I dunno why they chose to sell her directly. Maybe the penny-pinchers at Wargaming had already forecast that Jean Bart was supposed to recoup X amount of money and they needed to make up the difference. Maybe they were simply testing to see what they could get away with. In either case, it left a bad (and memorable) taste in my mouth, so she deserves to be on the list.
Ooh, I’ma go first on this one! Remember that time when they said that Asashio was going to reduce the number of battleships in the queue, all by herself? Remember when they said that no battleship was ever going to push anymore? Remember when someone predicted some other unrealistic hyperbole and blamed Asashio for it? I remember. I remember it fondly.
Look, Asashio is a terrible design good for one thing and one thing only: trolling. Ostensibly Asashio was implemented to test the viability of giving the Japanese destroyers access to deep water torpedoes as an alternative armament. I wonder what their data is showing regarding this experiment?
Yeah, can’t really make a most memorable premiums list without discussing Asashio. The destroyer nobody was asking for, with a gimmick nobody needed. Many people – including me – feared that Asahio’s long range, deep water torpedoes that can’t hit cruisers would lead to bad play. While my fears were not completely realized, the fact remains that Asashio is criminally misplayed, in general.
Too many people stay at too long range, just lobbing torpedoes at the general vicinity of the red team, forgetting that they are a small, stealthy, fast destroyer. Too many people don’t provide enough vision, don’t contest caps. And while I can’t blame all that on Asashio, I also don’t think her 20km, battleship-and-carrier-only torpedoes really do much to dissuade such bad play.
The Click Bait
You can’t talk about ships released in 2018 and not mention Stalingrad. The community at large cannot agree if she’s overpowered or underpowered, if she’s viable in competitive modes or if she’s a troll pick. With Wargaming giving away and directly selling Steel this holiday season, her sense of exclusivity has been severely damaged. There’s fears that this accelerated Steel acquisition is an indicator that she will soon be pulled from the Arsenal.
As far as drama llama boats go, Stalingrad isn’t the raging dumpster fire of yesteryear’s Alabama or Graf Zeppelin. 2018 was pretty tame when you get down to it if the only thing we could really get uppity over was another perceived helping of Russian-bias or Lert’ choice…
If there was one controversy this year, it was this ship. West Virginia 1941. She turned out a decent ship by herself, and the controversy wasn’t anything about her consumables or gimmicks; it was because Wargaming completely missed the point with choosing her for introduction. Many were the requests for West Virginia through the years, this G heard. But all of those wanted the arisen-out-of-the-ashes, 1944, Puget Sound refit – which apparently went over their head.
I have to give the community props though, the controversy as it were was a lot less noisy than previous ones. Cooler and calmer heads prevailed, most threads about #WV44 were polite discussions rather than rant fests, and WG actually listened. While personally I would’ve introduced WV’41 as Maryland and kept the WV name for the 1944 Puget Sound refit, I can find myself in the solution WG has chosen.
West Virginia 1941 gets my ‘Bless their hearts, they tried’ award, though Mouse is likely going to list this entry under a ‘controversy’ heading.
The People’s Voice
Last year we championed Alabama and Enterprise as community-lead projects. Haida has more in common with the latter — having been requested repeatedly by (Canadian) members of the community over and over and over again until Reddit was damn well sick of hearing about it. These projects are of particular importance to me and I think they always deserve recognition as the success stories they are. Another ship, HMS Exeter, is showing up in 2019 at the request of the community, so it shows that Wargaming is paying attention to the ships we want. We can only hope that West Virginia 1944 is being hastened through the development process given all of the hubbub made about her after WV41’s announcement.
I could go on at length about Haida’s development cycle, but I’ll spare you that for this article. I was heavily invested and involved in her testing, providing volumes of feedback (and many an angry rant besides). She’s definitely my darling of 2018 and no look back at this year would be complete without her mention.
Yeah, you finally got her. Congratulations. And she’s actually a good bote, too! Nice one, WG. Thanks. Now can we get some Dutch ships up in here?
Best Premium of 2018
People said Musashi would be completely useless. Superfluous. Meaningless. Not worth it. And she turned out to be an absolute unit, a sledgehammer without equal. Nothing else at tier IX can match Musashi in sheer, raw power. Everything about her sucks – except her hit point pool, and those unholy, massively powerful guns. Do you need 460mm at tier 9 to brutalize everything? No, but it’s a lot of fun. Well, fun is relative. I can see people decrying her lack of speed. Or agility. Or AA. Or stealth. And they have a good point.
But, for me, when I want some uncomplicated, sledgehammer-swinging, brute force, ludicrous ultra-violence; Musashi. There is no substitute. I like her even more than Yamato, and I couldn’t explain why. Maybe it’s because I’m beating up on smaller botes. Maybe it’s because as a tier 9 there’s less pressure to carry than as a tier 10. But, I don’t mind that she makes less credits than Missouri – she stil make a buttload. I don’t mind that she’s not as accurate as Yamato, she still puts warheads through foreheads.
Just – look over there please, carrier driver. No, over there. On the other side of the map. Thank you.
I wanna give top prize to Miss Moo-Moo too, but I gotta give premium of the year to Massachusetts. She ticks all of the right boxes, being (almost) everything I could want in a premium. She offers fun and unique game play. She’s strong and competitive without being overpowered. The only fly in the ointment is that she’s not the best commander trainer, but so long as you ditch manual-secondaries, you could stick a soft-AA build captain on her and do alright.
What’s most surprising is that she comes from such humble origins. Massachusetts was supposed to be a near Alabama-clone with slightly different AA and a touch more agility than Alabama. This was back when Alabama was going to be a reward-ship only for Supertesters. Of course, then Alabama-gate happened and she had to be overhauled. I have to say that Wargaming knocked it out of the park with this one, giving us a fun and rewarding ship that well deserved her “Black” clone. She is, in my mind, the safest acquisition anyone could make out of all of the ships released in 2018.
Yeah I can find myself in your choice of Massachusetts, but I’m going to stick with Musashi.
Although in my intro I said that this year was not as good for premium ships as 2016 was, it was arguably the year in which WG listened. With the promise of WV44 in the future, the introduction of Haida and the announcement of both HMS Exeter and a pan-european umbrella nationality, I am hesitantly optimistic for the future. Let’s see if WG can maintain this upwards trend.
I share Lert’s cautious optimism for the upcoming year with a big ol’ butt attached: It’s all going to depend on how well the aircraft carrier rework goes through. 2019 already has some interesting premiums lined up, including some very big names attached (Alaska, I am looking at you). I hope everything runs smooth — mostly because when things don’t it makes more work for me. Which reminds me, I’m still playing catch-up on 2018 premiums so I should probably shut down this article and get back to work on those wee tier 3s that snuck through the net.
So, dear readers, Lert and I want to know: What were your most memorable premiums of 2018? Which were the best? Which were the worst?
Thank you all for reading and we’ll see you in 2019! Happy New Year from Lert, myself and the rest of the ShipComrade crew!