This project explains why I haven’t published my Lenin review yet. I’ve been sidetracked — namely understanding how Continuous AA Damage worked, why it appears more effective for some ships than for others. I mean, how am I supposed to properly evaluate the relative effectiveness of AA firepower if I don’t understand the fundamentals? Well, now I do and it’s all crap because of a bug. But more on that later. Let’s talk about how continuous AA DPS is supposed to work!
A Throne of Lies
For this article, I’m not concerning myself at all with flak explosions. I’m just talking about the pulses of direct damage a ship’s AA mounts deal to attacking aircraft. For veterans of World of Warships, the following should come as no surprise: The in-port information about your anti-aircraft defense is horribly misleading. While technically correct, the values like “continuous damage per second” do not reflect the effectiveness of a given aura’s damage output. Here’s why:
- Each aura deals a fixed amount of damage per shot.
- Each aura has its own reload time.
These are both hidden values and they’re important ones. They tell you how much damage you can expect to cause to aircraft an aura and how often you can expect to see those numbers appear. The variance in these two numbers is tremendous and the difference between them dictate whether or not a ship has good anti-aircraft firepower or not. A slow firing gun might deliver massive alpha strikes to aircraft but only manage to fire once (if at all) before aircraft sail out of their range. This, in part, explains why ships can rack up some pretty impressive aircraft damage totals without shooting anything down. It also explains why you can see your AA gun animations chattering away and yet you receive no tally of damage — the planes got out of range before someone could line up the shot to fire.
In short, the “Continuous Damage per Second” value in port is a crock and isn’t worth heeding. Some of the ships you might consider to be excellent AA powerhouses because of high AA DPS values may, in fact, be pretty crappy.
Bringing the Thunder
So if we can’t trust the client to tell us what we need to know, we have to go digging. Unfortunately, you’re not going to find the information you need anywhere except for third party sites or from your friendly neighbourhood dataminer. I used gamemodels3d.com to pull the following values (and I highly recommend the site for anyone that’s looking to learn more about World of Warships).
So there’s a lot of numbers and not a lot of meaning here, so I MS Painted some brief explanations. These are the values for the (still Work in Progress) HMS Thunderer, the upcoming tier 10 premium Royal Navy battleship. She uses the same 133mm/50 dual-purpose guns as HMS Conqueror and her performance with these weapons has been cloned in this first iteration. So, let’s go over what we see here.
- Hit Chance is an accuracy coefficient. You’ll see this value repeated in port but how it gets used will throw you for a loop. It has nothing to do with how accurate your Continuous AA DPS is. Instead, it slows down the rate of fire of a given weapon.
- Area Damage is how much damage is done per hit. This is the number you should see show up in the UI any time your Continuous DPS scores a hit against an enemy aircraft. This value can be modified by skills, consumables and player actions as we’ll discuss later. However, if you were to populate a Training Room with active Conqueror bots and fly your unbuffed aircraft within the 3.5km to 6.0km reach of her 133mm guns while dodging flak perfectly, this would be the amount of damage done to your aircraft with every pulse.
- Area of Damage Frequency is ostensibly your reload time… except it’s not. This value gets modified by your Hit Chance — specifically, you divide your Area of Damage Frequency by Hit Chance to get the actual time, in seconds, of each pulse. In the case of Thunderer here, this means her long range aura only shoots once every 4.95 seconds. This number can be modified through player actions.
- Area Damage Per Sec is where we get that useless in port AA-DPS stat. This is imply the Area Damage divided by Area of Damage Frequency and it doesn’t account for the Hit Chance coefficient which is hella important.
These are pretty damn important values to know and speaks a lot about how anti-aircraft firepower works in World of Warships. The only way to find these values is to dig. These values could also be changed without the players knowing and we’re reliant upon dataminers making the discovery or Wargaming letting us know.
Player actions can modify how much Continuous Damage a given aura does and how frequently it fires. This is STUPIDLY IMPORTANT to understand in order to grasp how to make the most out of your anti-aircraft firepower and for evaluating the potential AA strength of a given ship. This will also save you spending credits, doubloons and captain experience, so let’s go over these thoroughly.
There are four ways to increase the amount of Continuous Damage done per pulse. In order from lowest to highest:
- November Echo Setteseven signal adds 5%.
- Basic Fire Training commander skill adds 10%.
- AA Guns Modification 2 adds 15%.
- Defensive AA Fire adds 50% to 200% for select mounts.
These bonuses are multiplicative. Let’s take Thunderer as our example. She normally deals 450 damage every 4.95 seconds. Fully upgraded and using her (still WIP) Defensive AA Fire consumable which is oh-so rare on a battleship, she can increase this to 1,195 damage ever 4.95 seconds. With DFAA inactive, this will drop back down to 597 damage every 4.95 seconds.
The rate at which pulses occur can also be modified through the use of Sector Reinforcement. Sector Reinforcement greatly increases the number of attacks made and varies per ship type while aircraft are targeted within their aura.
- Cruisers and Battleships gain 25%
- Destroyers gain 50%
- Aircraft Carriers gain 60%
- These values can be increased by 20% (multiplicative) with the Manual Fire Control for AA Guns commander skill. With this skill, cruisers and battleships fire 50% faster. Destroyers fire 80% faster. Aircraft carriers fire 92% faster (!)
- NOTE: using Sector Reinforcement slows down the rate of fire in the opposite sector. Proper management is key.
Restating our example above, just through the use of Sector Reinforcement, our stock Thunderer now fires every 3.71 seconds. Fully upgraded, this turns into 2.48 seconds. However, if you’ve mismanaged your Sector Reinforcement, our stock Thunderer now fires 450 damage every 6.19 seconds. Fully upgraded, this gets even worse with it dropping down to 7.43 seconds.
Of course, the carrier player isn’t going to let you have everything your own way. They can mitigate the amount of Continuous Damage they receive in the following ways:
- Aircraft Armour commander skill reduces the amount of Continuous Damage received by 10%. This skill is very commonplace so you can expect it to influence your numbers often.
- Attack Runs reduce the amount of Continuous Damage received by 50%. Whenever planes begin their attack, the amount of damage they receive is slashed in half. Left click your way to victory.
- Slingshot Dropping uses (and abuses) an immunity window provided to dive bombers after they drop ordnance. They are completely immune to Continuous Damage for 5 seconds + the bomb drop time.
- Destroying AA mounts reduces the amount of Continuous Damage proportionately. So if you started with eight medium-caliber AA mounts and three get destroyed, your Continuous Damage drops by 3/8ths.
Similarly, they can increase or decrease how often they’re hit by Continuous Damage by loitering in or speeding through a given aura. Inexperienced carrier players are more likely to manoeuvre and come about while still within a ship’s anti-aircraft aura, stacking Continual Damage (and how nice of them to be so obliging!). Contrarily, you can expect expert players to minimize their exposure time to Continuous Damage through use of line of sight blocking mechanics and speed. Speed is of particular concern, given the following amount of distance covered per second in World of Warships:
- 100 knots = 0.27km/s
- 120 knots = 0.32km/s
- 140 knots = 0.38km/s
- 160 knots = 0.43km/s
- 180 knots = 0.48km/s
- 200 knots = 0.54km/s
Looking back at our 133mm guns on Thunderer, they have a 2.5km range (6km to 3.5km). 160 knot aircraft can cover that distance in 5.8 seconds. Boosting up to 195 knots, they’ll cross that same span a full second faster at 4.8 seconds. Proper management of your fire sectors can mean the difference between shooting something down and doing no damage whatsoever.
“But Mouse,“ you say, “your last example sounded hyperbolic. Surely there’s no way for aircraft to pass through an aura and take zero damage. Shouldn’t the AA guns open fire the moment an aircraft comes into range?” Yes, yes they should. They don’t, but they should.
This is one of the problems with anti-aircraft firepower right now. It needs to be rectified. Currently, ships don’t preload their anti-aircraft guns. Yep, someone has to go run and fetch the ammo hoppers before your guns will shoot. This means, using Thunderer as our example, that aircraft can sit in her long-range aura for 4.95 seconds before they take Continuous Damage. Before the boost nerf, it was all too easy for aircraft carriers to rocket through some of the slower firing auras without taking a lick of damage. It didn’t matter how many damage boosts you applied, if you hadn’t reinforced your sectors to increase your rate of fire, they were in and out before your guns would shoot once. Graf Zeppelin and Indomitable could make 0.7km/s with some of their strike aircraft, meaning that even if you did reinforce your sectors, there was long range AA that simply couldn’t touch them.
Now, I have it from Wargaming that this will be fixed in the future — and this might very well be THE AA-fix they’ve been alluding to. This won’t have much impact on rapid fire weapons, but it will be a sizeable buff to slower-firing guns which will go from no-shows to providing some pretty chunkular damage. I dunno how long we have to wait, though.
Feeling Weird and Weird Feels
Looking this over, it’s evident to me that Wargaming built the backbone of anti-aircraft defense around the Sector Reinforcement mechanic. In theory, it’s hella powerful if used correctly with the right buffs. Manual Fire Control for AA Guns is, hands down, the best AA skill for a ship to be using if they want to improve their aircraft killing power. In practice, well, the bug undermines Continuous Damage rather significantly, more than halving the effective damage output of large-caliber AA guns in some respects. The faster firing medium and short range AA guns are much less affected by such things. Unfortunately, small and medium caliber AA mounts tend to pop to loud noises, never mind direct fire from HE shells, British cruiser SAP and aircraft delivered ordnance.
It’s no surprise to me that, on the whole, Sustained Damage feels underwhelming right now. However, I think the problem is further compounded by simply not understanding how much damage is done and how often. There isn’t a lot of consistency either. It seems the values for rate of fire and damage are based on not only which guns are used by how many. Here’s an example of four tier 8 American ships, all using 127mm/38s, 40mm Bofors and 20mm Oerlikons.
127mm/38s – 5.8km to 3.5km
- Kidd: 340 damage every 3.91 seconds
- Cleveland: 440 damage ever 3.33 seconds
- North Carolina: 440 damage every 2.44 seconds
- Enterprise: 420 damage every 4.14 seconds
40mm Bofors – 3.5km to 1.5km
- Kidd: 210 damage every 1.54 seconds.
- Cleveland: 210 damage every 0.88 seconds
- North Carolina: 220 damage every 0.59 seconds
- Enterprise: 210 damage every 0.57 seconds
20mm Oerlikons – 1.5km to 0.1km
- Kidd: 110 damage every 0.73 seconds
- Cleveland: 150 damage every 0.28 seconds
- North Carolina: 140 damage every 0.32 seconds
- Enterprise: 180 damage every 0.26 seconds
There is a lot of variation here. It means we cannot simply look at what AA mounts a given ship has, or what the DPS values are listed in port to appraise how good anti-aircraft firepower for a given ship is supposed to be. The performance of Continuous Damage is currently flawed and this exaggerates some the disparities in performance we’re seeing. Ships reliant upon their long range AA to keep them safe aren’t performing optimally right now — German, battleships cruisers and Atlanta, I’m looking at you. For those frustrated with the current AA mechanics — you’re right to feel that way. Hopefully this information kindles some small bit of hope that the problems are recognized and some good changes are coming.
Provided nothing else breaks, of course.