ShipComrade

Premium Ship Review #129 – Benham

The following is a review of the tier IX premium American Destroyer USS Benham, kindly provided to me by Wargaming.  In addition, they provided me with 15 of the Rogue Wave Containers to open which are also reviewed here.  To the best of my knowledge, this article represents the release version of the ship.  Be aware her statistics may change in the future.

Hill was a fake (she didn’t exist!)
But Benham was real and hard to resist.
She’s locked with a grind
That will tax your behind
(And plaster your parked keister with a bedsore or cyst).

Wargaming wants you to choose to spend
Your money before the campaign’s end
To hurry your progress
And finish up this mess
Lest you go without Benham (which they don’t recommend).

I will review not only Benham
But also the source of far too much bedlam.
I’m not a fan of lootboxes
But this is what my job is
So I’ll report on the crates as Wargaming sends ’em.

Enough! This is taking up too much wind.
The mission for Benham will soon rescind.
In short, here’s the gist
Benham’s not to be missed
But she’s not worth having your time or finances skinned.

PROS

  • Excellent gun handling with a 30º/s traverse speed.
  • Massive torpedo armament of sixteen tubes in 4×4 launchers.
  • Relatively short reload time on her torpedoes of 85s.
  • Agile with an 8.6º/s rate of turn.
  • Has access to Defensive AA Fire if you swap out her Engine Boost consumable.

CONS

  • Pathetically small hit point pool of 14,500hp.
  • Small main battery armament of only four guns with terrible ballistics.
  • Individual torpedoes don’t hit very hard.
  • Weak anti-aircraft firepower if Defensive AA Fire isn’t active.
  • Large surface detection of 7.56km.
  • Will cost you all of your time or all of your moneys to acquire.

Overview

Skill Floor:  Simple / CASUAL/ Challenging / Difficult
Skill Ceiling:  Low / Moderate / High/ EXTREME

For a new player, Benham is forgiving.  She’s a torpedo destroyer with enough tools to help keep her safe from most dangers.  She has enough guns to make other gunships wary.  She has enough stealth and range to launch torpedoes undetected.  She has enough AA to make planes upset.  It’s just long-range Soviet radar and stealthy gunships she really needs to worry about.

Veterans can coast up this easy-mode incline to pull off a few more daring moves.  However, her large surface detection keeps her from being able to pull off some truly exceptional exploits reliably adding a considerable element of danger to her play.  She has her weaknesses, but this doesn’t hold her back from being a truly dominant force in the hands of someone that knows what they’re doing.

iTQteVr.png– One of, if not the worst at its tier. This is a pronounced weakness.
jr7vbn9.png – Middle of the pack at its tier. Not terrible, but not terribly good either.
OzA23Hz.png – Has a significant advantage over her tier mates. A solid, competitive performer.
G8OWSR4.png – No other ship at its tier does this as well as this ship.
Benham’s torpedoes are the stand out element of her firepower but are held back by the damage output of her guns. Similarly, while she has access to Defensive AA fire, her overall AA power is limited without it. Her concealment is also on the bad side but not so terrible compared to some of her peers. All three of these earn a “Fair” rating as a result.

Options

Nothing surprising here other than an initial bug with her default camouflage.

Consumables

Benham’s consumables are normal for an American destroyer.  There are two consumables of note here.

  •  Benham has an American Smoke Generator which emits smoke for 30s instead of 20s and lasts for 127s instead of 93s.
  • Benham can swap her Engine Boost for Defensive AA Fire.  This provides a 200% increase to her AA damage output for 30 seconds.

Upgrades

Your upgrades are going to focus on emphasizing her torpedo armament first and foremost with a secondary aim to beefing up her AA power.  You never know — the CVs might come back.

  • You have your choice in your first slot between Magazine Modification 1 to help prevent detonations and Main Armaments Modification 1.  The latter is optimal but if you really hate exploding suddenly, take the former.
  • In your second slot, the special upgrades Defensive AA Fire Modification 1 and Engine Boost Modification 1 are optimal.  If CVs become prevalent again as they were up until this patch, the former will have more value.  We’re in a CV lull with patch 0.8.5 which may continue into 0.8.6 so you’ll probably get more use out pimping out your engines.  If you don’t have access to either, default to Propulsion Modification 1.
  • AA Guns Modification 1 is the best choice here for reasons mentioned above.  Otherwise take Aiming Systems Modification 1.
  • Propulsion Modification 2 is the best choice here.
  • Concealment Modification 1 is the only choice worth considering in this slot.
  • And finally, Torpedo Tubes Modification 3 is your best choice.  If you want to try and prop up your pew pews instead, take Main Battery Modification 3.

Camouflage

Benham has two camouflage options.  She comes with Type 10 Camouflage and an alternate in the form of Master of the Water World.  It appears that her Type 10 Camouflage is bugged as it doesn’t conform to tier IX economy bonuses.

At the time of release, Benham’s Type 10 Camouflage provides: +50% experience gains, -10% to post-battle costs, -3% to detectability by sea and +4% to enemy dispersion.  This will be modified in patch 0.8.6 to reflect her intended camouflage values below.

Benham’s Master of the Water World camouflage provides +100% experience gains, -20% to post-battle costs, -3% to detectability by sea and +4% to enemy dispersion.

Boo, Benham’s alternative camo scheme (unlocked via completing the American Cruiser collection) isn’t as cute as Hill’s.  When purchased through the Armory, Benham comes both her default camouflage and Master of the Water World camo.

Firepower

Main Battery:  Four 127mm/38 guns in single turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration.
Torpedoes:  Sixteen tubes in 4×4 launchers with two wing mounts per side.

Is that a big torpedo armament on deck or are you happy to see me?

Benham has very comfortable torpedo fire arcs which largely match the fire arcs of her guns.

Benham’s wing-mounted torpedo layout hasn’t been replicated within the American destroyer line in part since Hill and Mahan at tiers V & VII and in full since Wickes, Clemson and Nicholas at tiers III, IV and V respectively.  And that’s a crying shame because this load out is hilariously fun to play with.

Benham has a huge bank of torpedoes — enough even for a tier X ship, never mind a tier IX.  The only thing that keeps Benham under control is the quality of her individual fish.  They lack striking power on a per-hit basis.  Japanese torpedo destroyers have freakin’ ginormous warheads on their torpedoes and I think this is kind of why I took it for granted that other torpedo boats would have the same. That’s not replicated here.  While some high-tier American destroyers do get some super-nasty swimmers, Benham doesn’t. Instead she flirts with damage values more commonly seen on British and German destroyers which is disappointing.

It’s a good thing quantity has a quality all on its own.  Not only does Benham have four quadruple launchers, but these launchers are also fast-reloading.  With the Torpedo Armament Expertise skill and Torpedo Tube Modification 3, you can get her reload down to a mere 65 seconds which is downright hilarious.  It’s not quite fast enough to have your tubes at the ready every time you swing your boat around from port side to starboard but the wait isn’t very long.

When Benham begins swinging her hips from side to side, other ships better begin dancing to her torpedo beats, because the fun won’t stop until something dies or they abandon a flank.

Ohai, American 127mm/38s, is that you?

Benham’s guns suck.  Yes, I’m being hyperbolic.

For anyone that got excited seeing good torpedoes on an American destroyer and imagining she might be the “total package”, I’m sorry to disappoint. Yes, she’s armed with American 127mm/38s, renown for their gun handling, damage-output and floaty ballistics from Hell.  Yes, they’re generally considered decent guns.  Yes, you can make good use of these weapons on Benham to run amuck.  However, that’s largely dependent upon the enemy team letting you.

Benham’s armament is on the small side for her tier with only four guns instead of five.  These are not quite the same load-out as USS Sims at tier VII with a 0.04s faster reload, but it’s close enough.  In practice, Benham’s isn’t a good tier IX gunship and I stress that tier-part.  Picking on things lower tier than her?  She’s okay.  She can bluff.  She can bluster.  But if you face someone that holds their nerve, Benham’s in trouble, especially if they’re closer in Matchmaking than a lowly VII.   She’s limited by to two problems which compound the admittedly not-insurmountable deficiencies in firepower.

  1. She’s not especially stealthy.
  2. Her hit point pool is tiny.

Your opponents are most likely going to see you first.  What’s more, her contemporaries are more than capable of trading blows with you.  They have more health, for one.  Second, their guns are as good as your own or better in most cases.  Even some of those tier VIIs will give you a good run for your money like Haida and Z-39.  Your best defense is therefor not to rely on her guns but instead squirt torpedoes in their faces like a squid shooting ink.  A lucky torpedo hit will immediately swing things in Benham’s favour.  Sometimes simply forcing the enemy to swerve will give her time to catch up on the DPM disparity and clinch matters.

Benham’s in a bad place when it comes to her guns. She has comparable main battery performance to Yugumo. While you can’t take the Japanese destroyer guns lightly, they are a far cry from being a “good” weapon system at tier IX. The same holds true for Benham’s artillery. It’s only ever going to be kinda-sorta alright and never something you want to have to rely on.

Benham’s definitely not my first choice for bombarding larger ships either.  The best that could be said about her guns is that their high trajectory makes it easier to use terrain from cover.  However, their awful shell flight time, low penetration and poor fire chance per shell hold her back.  Volume of fire will counter this somewhat.  Fully upgraded, Benham can spit out almost 90 rounds per minute which is alright but you’re going to struggle to stack appreciable damage or make a single fire stick.

These guns aren’t great, sure, but they’re not without their charms.  I do like their gun handling.  I do have a soft spot for the ballistics of the American trebuchets.  I do like their fast reload.  They’re almost good enough — almost.  If you find yourself squaring off against a less-than-confident opponent, you might be able to take them even if they outclass you.  However, Benham struggles to claim the title of a true hybrid like Harekaze.

Benham is a torpedo boat first and foremost.  Her guns are a mere afterthought, mostly because the flaws of the ship they’re mounted on.

Benham’s fire arcs are better suited to kiting opponents than facing them head on. Her gun traverse is fantastic, though.

Summary

  • Benham is, above all, a torpedo destroyer.
  • Use and abuse her agility to make good use of all four torpedo launchers.
  • Her guns are passable but only just.

Evaluation: jr7vbn9.png
What it would have needed to be OzA23Hz.pngNo surprises here — Benham’s firepower stat is propped up by her torpedoes.  Improving these further would certainly make her a contender.  Similarly, buffing her guns enough to put her closer to the middle of the pack and make her a true-hybrid would also do it.

Defense

Hit Points:  14,500hp
Minimum Bow & Deck Armour: 19mm

Okay, someone explain this to me:  Benham is an ickle, wee lolibote.  Her hit points would indicate she’s the tiniest of tiny.  She’s such a lightweight, Ark Royal should be stalking her at every turn. This hit point total belongs on a tier VII destroyer, not a tier IX.  So why is she so fat when it comes to concealment?

This does not make sense.  I’ll whine about this more when we get to the Refrigerator section below.  Right, back on topic.

Benham’s hit point total sucks.  She doesn’t have any special armour or healing or anything like that.  Her hull sections are all 19mm.  She’s squishy as all get out and vulnerable because of it.  Expose yourself at your own peril.

This should put things into pretty clear perspective, at least at tier IX. The astute among you will notice I’m not including potential bonuses from special commanders. They complicate matters to the point of ridiculousness. For a simple bar graph that’s merely meant to illustrate that Benham doesn’t have a lot of health for a tier IX destroyer, it’s all overkill.

Evaluation: iTQteVr.png
What it would have needed to be jr7vbn9.png:   2,600 more hit points, a heal or some really weird (good!) armour for a destroyer.

Agility

Top Speed: 36.5 knots
Turning Radius: 560m
Rudder Shift Time: 3.4s
4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn:  8.6º/s

Benham looks pretty vanilla for an American destroyer.  She does have one trick up her sleeve:  she’s more agile than her stats would otherwise suggest.  Her stats look almost identical to those of Fletcher, however through quirks in Wargaming’s agility code, Benham ends up just a touch more nimble than the tech tree lolibote.  Her maximum rate of rotation squeezes out 0.2º/s more than Fletcher.  This comes from a slightly tighter turning radius than advertised which ends up closer to 550m in testing than 560m while Fletcher errs closer to 570m.

That’s it, really.  Benham doesn’t have any other tricks up her sleeves like super-speed or energy conservation.  This isn’t a ground breaking revelation or an ace-in-the-hole she can whip out of nowhere like Jojo can with a tommy gun.  Benham is just a touch more wiggly than her stats would otherwise suggest.  This is enough to nudge Fletcher out of the race and puts Benham up as one of the most agile destroyers at tier IX.

I very much like this about Benham.  It’s nice — comfortable but subtle.

If she were just a little faster, I’d give her the laurels at her tier when it comes to agility.   Benham’s manoeuvrability definitely makes it easy to dump fish off each side.  She’s also really good at dodging incoming fire at range.  I just wish she had that speed.  For such a fat, fragile ship, having that little bit more pep in her step could have allowed her to dictate ranges. Oh well, at least she’s not slow. Benham does what you want without flair and dazzle.

Evaluation: OzA23Hz.png
What it would have needed to be G8OWSR4.png:  More speed.  36.5 knots is nice but it doesn’t quite cut the mustard when measured up against ships that are fast, yet still reasonably agile like Udaloi and the up coming French destroyers.  You want to be able to leg it when you don’t want to knife fight something in Benham and that comes up often.

Anti-Aircraft Defense

Long Ranged (5.8km-0.9km):  220 damage every 3.4 seconds and 2 explosions at 1,470 damage.
Short Ranged (0.9km to 0.1km):  90 damage every 1.48 seconds.

Unless she’s deeply specialized for it, Benham AA power is pretty crappy overall.  As far as disappointments go for a premium, it’s not unexpected. Benham isn’t the first (and she certainly won’t be the last) premium with bad AA power.  And let me clarify, it’s not that she has comparatively bad AA power compared to her tier IX peers.  It’s just weak on the whole, even for a destroyer.  The kind of numbers she’s spitting out are something I would expect to see on a tier VII destroyer.

Of course, it’s not like this evaluation matters much.  As of the current patch (0.8.5.1 as I’m writing this), AA power and balance remains highly volatile with no less than three significant changes waiting in the wings (focus fire, rate of fire and whatever health buffs they might give planes to compensate) and maybe more besides.  This makes upgrading Benham’s AA a bit of a waste.  Still, we can probably expect the pendulum to swing the other way soon and boosted AA power may be her salvation.

I’ve said this in my other reviews as of late and it’s worth repeating:  Don’t buy a premium ship based on it’s anti-aircraft capabilities.  It’s possible that bad AA power will become a crippling issue in the future, though that’s unlikely.  Similarly, good AA power might be either the knees of the bees, downright worthless or anything in between over the coming patches.

Evaluation: jr7vbn9.png
What it would have needed to be OzA23Hz.png
  Benham is only spared and embarrassing evaluation here for one reason:  she has access to Defensive AA Fire.

Refrigerator

Base Surface Detection: 7.56km
Air Detection Range: 2.86km
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 5.94km
Detection Range when Firing in Smoke: 2.83km
Main Battery Firing Range: 
12.6km (15.12km with Advanced Fire Training)

What the actual fudge?  14,500 hit points and a surface detection of 7.56km?  This is the same as Kitakaze and Z-46 (which each boast about 20,000hp!).  She’s also got one of the largest aerial detection ranges at her tier too.  She’s only spared complete humiliation because Tashkent and Udaloi are a thing.

Something here stinks of Balans.

The combination of bad health, mediocre guns and high surface detection really hampers Benham’s flexibility.  Taking her out of her “support ship” comfort zone is possible, but she feels clumsy and vulnerable on the front line.

Evaluation: jr7vbn9.png
What it would have needed to be OzA23Hz.png:
  She has to lose more than 500m off her base surface detection which is no small sum.

Rogue Wave Containers & Event

We can’t talk about Benham without talking about how she was acquired.  Through the event there were three ways to pick her up:

  1. Be a content creator and be given the darned thing for free by Wargaming in order to produce content based around it.
  2. Labour through missions and tasks over the course of the event to accumulate enough Fuel to buy her through the Armory.
  3. Buy the Rogue Wave Container loot boxes to get the fuel needed instead.

Benham came with a price tag of 800 Fuel, Fuel being the temporary currency used throughout the event.  It was possible, though requiring deep commitment, to acquire all 800 needed Fuel tokens by completing tasks provided, thus allowing Benham to be earned for free.  However, these free ships would only go to the truly dedicated, as missing even a small number of these missions over the duration of the campaign would result in the player ending up short of the 800 cost.  The maximum number of Fuel Tokens that could be earned from player actions was just 850, so this really was a marathon.

It’s almost like they planned it this way.  Fremium monetization to the rescue.

For those unable (or unwilling) to complete the grind, Wargaming sold “Rogue Wave Containers” — loot boxes which were guaranteed to contain 15 Fuel Tokens on top of other goodies.  To buy Benham outright without participating in any of the missions or events, a player would need to buy 54 of these containers, either with cash through the online store or with doubloons through the Armory.  The outright cost on the North American server was $217.97 USD or 54,500 doubloons.

Whether you elect to get her through an investment of time or money is up to you.

The promotional material Wargaming provided explaining the possible contents of one of the loot boxes. The boxes contained three items. The first item would either be 5 Post-Apocalypse temporary camo, 1 permanent camo or 400 doubloons. The second slot could include commander XP, premium time, credits, coal or the Type 59 temporary camo.  Each container guaranteed 15 Fuel.  Community Contributors, (myself included) were given 15 of these to open by Wargaming.  I used some spare doubloons that had been gifted to me by my readers to buy ten more.  Again, I must stress:  I did not pay for ANY of these boxes myself.
Eclaire, one of the EU-CCs, organized collecting all of the data from opened loot boxes from various Community Contributors who volunteered their results to get a better idea of the odds of receiving individual prizes. Between us, 320 premium Rogue Wave containers were opened by the time I finished this article. My own 25 are included in this tally.

Final Evaluation

Benham is one powerful ship and it really illustrates how the overall whole can be more than the sum of its parts.  While I may have grumbled about her guns, sighed in annoyance at her hit point total and spat a few obscenities about her camouflage rating, Benham is the total package.  For those players who enjoy playing lone wolves that can do a bit of everything at least reasonably well, this is it.  This is the ship.

Let be clear:  Benham’s guns do suck.  Her hit point total is laughable.  Her concealment rating is balls-tacular.  But they have to be.  There’s just too much potential in a destroyer than can death-blossom her way to victory.

Imagine it with less lasers and more torpeedus.  The amount of spinning is accurate, though.

Benham is most comfortable in a harassing role.  This isn’t a ship I’d want to push on a contested cap circle.  I’d still give it a poke early on, just in case the Reds were leaving it open, but if there’s any resistance, I’m dumping fish and I’m sidelining myself until the radar-boys clean it out.  This ship really performs best on the flank or kiting, flooding the works with swimming minefields of perpetual torpedo drops.  While all of the drama’s happening around the cap circle, Benham wants to be pushing the Red’s big hitters back (or at least slowing them down) with the threat of torpedo soup.

The big question is if she’s worth it, especially given the time and/or financial sink associated with her.  That’s entirely up to you, I’m afraid.  In my own personal case?  No.  This isn’t a ship I would have had the inclination for grinding myself.  Normally when missions like this come up for reward ships in the past, even if Wargaming gives me access to a preview version, I’m right there in the trenches and trying to legitimately earn one for myself.  I had no desire to do so this time for Benham.

That should say enough right there.

Would I Recommend?

Benham’s not for me.  Still, I can see her being worthwhile for others depending on what they want her for.

For PVE Battles?

Yes.  Like, shut up and take my money, yes.  Benham rules the roost when it comes to Co-Op battles.  Fast reloading, decks double-stuffed with torpedoes?  Yes, please.

For Random Battle Grinding?

Maybe?  Benham does well in the chaos of Random Battles.  On top of that, she’s a decent commander trainer for your USN Destroyers, particularly if you’re more torpedo focused for your higher tiered ships like Fletcher and Gearing.  She’s certainly less clumsy than Monaghan that way.  Still, if push came to shove, I’d prefer Kidd.

For Competitive Gaming?

No. She’s too fat and fragile, IMO.  She’s not a terrible choice, but you could do better.

For Collectors?

Yes. Benham doesn’t have an especially auspicious career, but she did see combat during WW2 which is more than can be said for many premiums.

For her Fun-Factor?

No.  If I’m going to play a torpedo destroyer, I think I’d rather reach for something meme worthy like Shimakaze or Asashio.

What’s the Final Verdict?

How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage – Meh – Gud – Overpowered?

  • GARBAGE– I hate it!
  • Mehbote – An average ship.  Probably forgettable.
  • Gudbote – The best thing ever.  Totally not overpowered because I like padding my stats in it.
  • OVERPOWERED – I hate playing against it!

Art Credits

  • The Mouse Paper-doll, Pigeon and Soup-chan were all designed and drawn by Chobittsu.
  • The Last Starfighter belongs to Disney.  Oh god, will they come for me now?

In Closing

Well, this is coming out much later than I had wanted it to.  I got distracted, you see, by a simple question:  How good are Benham’s torpedoes, really?

It’s such a simple question.  I had no idea how far down the rabbit hole this would go.  All I really wanted was the answer on which tier IX torpedoes were better and why.  The big curve ball was another premium — USS Black.  For those unaware, Black’s torpedoes are weird with a capital WTF.  I wanted to take another stab at understanding how their mechanics worked so I could fairly compare Benham’s fish to them.  Well, after the first day of testing, dumping fish into Yamato-class battleship bots for hours on end, I could only conclude that the in-port torpedo damage stat was a lie.

On day two, Stuntman9630 and I put our heads together and more bots got abused with fish.  After almost seven hours of testing, we could reliably predict how much damage any torpedo in the game would do to a destroyer it struck amidships.  The damage mechanics are convoluted to say the least and this is only scratching the surface.  Hitting destroyers amidships, you see, is probably the simplest torpedo damage calculation in the game.  From there it only gets more complicated, with AOE damage (yes, really) torpedo defense systems and saturation mechanics muddying up numbers further.

I spent another five hours after Stuntman9630 had to go collecting more data and trying to refine our experiments.  It’s become evident that this project will consume a lot more hours and the resulting information wouldn’t be ready on time to benefit this review.  It’s just another pitfall to getting stuff done, so it’s sidelined for now.  Maybe I’ll be able to pick it back up again later before Wargaming overhauls AA mechanics yet again and drags my attention away.

Thank you all for reading.

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