[ CORRECTION: I missed a “less than” symbol on Bayard’s firepower graphic. As of patch 0.8.6, Bayard’s HE shells can damage areas with up to 29mm of armour, not 30mm as originally described. ] – LWM, July 26th, 2019.
The following is a review of Bayard, the tier VIII French light cruiser kindly provided to me by Wargaming. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this article are accurate as of patch 0.8.6. Please be aware that her statistics may change in the future.
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a French cruiser premium added to World of Warships, so you’ll have to forgive me if I’m excited. The last one to be added was De Grasse over two years ago, so I feel we’re long overdue. I’m especially thrilled that she’s a high tier premium, so this will really put everything that makes French cruisers “good” up on the line in premium form. I really like the French cruiser line, but being continually busy making content hasn’t given me a lot of time to play them. So it’s nice to have the excuse.
I’ve really hyped myself up for this one. Let’s see if she will meet my expectations or disappoint me horribly.
- Good anti-torpedo protection with a 28% damage reduction.
- Armed with 12 rapid fire 152mm rifles with good DPM and fire setting characteristics and access to the Main Battery Reload Booster consumable to spike this even more.
- Phenomenal torpedo fire arcs. Like, top shelf!
- Fast, with a top speed of 34 knots + French Engine Boost consumable allowing her to exceed 40 knots.
- Small surface detection of 12.24km (9.62km fully upgraded).
- Tiny hit point pool of 34,700hp.
- Exposed citadel sitting high over the waterline.
- Relatively short-ranged with a maximum reach of 16.44km.
- Terrible main battery firing arcs which forces her to expose her broadside to fire all of her guns.
- Poor long range anti-aircraft fire.
- Slow rudder shift time of 9.3 seconds.
NOTE: I have not included Bayard’s ~30mm HE penetration and armour values in my list of PROS/CONS. As of patch 0.8.6, these should be counted among her merits and flaws as they are unique to her at the current time. However, it is possible that these features will become standardized across all tier VIII light cruisers in a future patch. As such, I am loathe to mention them. Be aware of these traits, but don’t count on them necessarily remaining one of her defining features.
Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / CHALLENGING / Difficult
Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH/ Extreme
Oh, tier VIII cruisers, you so silly.
There’s a fun duality with tier VIII cruisers where they’re disgustingly overpowered when top tier and ready victims when not. To an inexperienced commander, a ship like Bayard is a Devastating Strike ready to be farmed by the red team when she faces tier X opponents and a comfortable ride when she’s at the top of the pile.
For veterans, she’s a lot more interesting than a ready victim. Her speed, stealth and firepower are all ready tools eager to be used and abused to generate some good numbers. She’s just a little too fragile and she struggles to do her own spotting to have more carry potential.
– Has a significant advantage over her tier mates. A solid, competitive performer.
– No other ship at its tier does this as well as this ship.
Bayard appears to be a standard tier VIII premium French cruiser when it comes to access to her consumables and upgrades. She has the option of two different camouflage patterns.
I’m only talking about the premium consumables here. We’ll see if Wargaming makes good on eventually getting rid of their standard versions.
- Her Damage Control Party is standard with unlimited charges and a 60s reset timer.
- Defensive AA Fire starts with 3 charges, a 40s action time and an 80s reset timer.
- Hydroacoustic Search sniffs out torpedoes at 3.5km and ships at 5km. It comes with 3 charges, is active for 100s and has a 120s reset timer.
- Bayard uses a French cruiser Engine Boost, increasing her speed by 20% (instead of 8%) for 180s. It comes with 3 charges and has a 90s reset timer.
- Bayard also has access to the French Main Battery Reload Booster. This has a short 15s active period and cuts reload time down by 50% while active. It comes with 4 charges and reloads in 120s.
Oh boy, light cruiser upgrades. There’s a lot of possible combinations here.
- It starts simple; take Main Armaments Modification 1.
- In your second slot, if you have access to Special Upgrades the priority should be (in order): Engine Boost Modification 1 first. If you don’t have that, then take Defensive AA Fire Modification 1. If that’s not available then drop down to Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1. And if that’s not available default to Propulsion Modification 1.
- Aiming Systems Modification 1 is optimal in slot three. If you want to give your AA a bit more teeth (not like they need it currently but hey, carriers might make a comeback) then take AA Guns Modification 1.
- Steering Gears Modification 2 is best in slot 4.
- And in slot five, you have a choice. Concealment Modification 1 is easier to use and will help you control engagement distances. If you prefer a more active, run and gun style of play rather than all of that skulking about then Steering Gears Modification 3 is best to help you dodge and kite.
Bayard comes with Type 10 Camouflage – Bayard. She has an alternate camouflage scheme, French Navy – Bayard. Each provides the standard bonuses for a tier VIII premium including:
- -3% detectability range by sea
- +4% dispersion of shells fired by the enemy attacking your ship.
- -10% to the cost of the ship’s post-battle service.
- +50% XP per battle.
Main Battery: Twelve 152mm/55 rifles in 4×3 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration.
Secondary Battery: Eight 100mm/55 rifles in 4×2 turrets in wing mounts. Two are mounted close to the bow, two closer to the stern.
Torpedoes: Six tubes in 2×3 launchers in wing mounts behind the funnel.
Secondaries & Torpedoes
Let’s get Bayard’s supplementary weaponry out of the way first.
As with most cruisers, Bayard’s secondary guns are completely forgettable. With only four guns shooting at a time and a 5km range, even with their 20rpm rate of fire, they’re not going to put out enough shells with their limited accuracy to make that much of a difference. Celebrate any fires or direct damage they cause — such occasions will be few and far between. Laugh if you actually manage to get a Close Quarters Expert medal with a lucky kill and lord it over your victim cause that’s so unlikely as to be hilarious.
Bayard’s torpedoes are much more functional. They have phenomenal firing arcs, being able to smash targets 20º off her bow and 22º off her stern, making them stupid-easy to use in a brawl if needs be. The fish themselves are pretty standard fare for French cruisers. the 550mm 23DT torpedo is first introduced into the French cruiser line with La Galissonnière at tier VI and carries through to Henri IV at tier X. It’s not an especially hard hitting torpedo, averaging only 13,705 damage for a casemate hit against a destroyer so don’t expect to take down a battleship with a single salvo unless they’re already below half health. The 9km range is usable but she’s not capable of launching them from stealth. She’s also shackled to the same 90s reload that afflicts most of the French triple torpedo launchers, so they’re pretty much a one-shot weapon in most encounters.
Overall, her fish are nice to have, but they’re not game winners in of themselves.
Main Battery Performance
Oh god, no. Those firing arcs. When I first saw them, I puked in my mouth a little.
There’s two things wrong with Bayard’s 152mm guns. The first is the aforementioned crimes against humanity: her firing arcs. The second is their range. Now, 16.4km doesn’t seem bad. It’s a far cry better than what Cleveland and Montpelier boast. However, it’s not quite far enough where it’s comfortable to dodge return fire from ginormous battleship caliber shells. It means anytime you pull the trigger with Bayard, you’re taking your life into your own hands. If you’re the juiciest (or the only) target available, your time in game may end up cut painfully (and hilariously) short. Not only will you not have a lot of warning to dodge, but if you’re firing with all twelve of your guns, you’re going to be sitting broadside when those shells start coming in…
Rather than swerve and dodge in open water, you can try and make an island your waifu and lob shells over her curves. Bayard’s 152mm guns share the same ballistic arcs as the 152mm found on La Galissonnière and De Grasse. They’re not quite as floaty as American 152mm but they’re closer to that kind of arc than to the flat, railgun trajectory of the Soviet 152mm guns. This allows you to get reasonably close to island cover and help prevent getting your face stoved in from return fire when you play peak-a-boo.
The choice of game play is up to you. I find the former more fun than the latter — particularly because Bayard can be such a rocket-butt with her Engine Boost if only because living dangerously is more amusing.
- Good gun performance. Great DPM (with the ability to push it higher on demand with her consumable), and lots of chances to stack fires.
- Horrible fire arcs and only modest range makes using this ship challenging to use in open water.
- Her torpedoes are okay, but don’t expect them to do any heavy lifting.
Hit Points: 34,700
Min Bow & Deck Armour: 16mm extremities, 27mm amidships upper hull & deck
Maximum Citadel Protection: 105mm to 120mm belt + 25mm citadel wall
Torpedo Damage Reduction: 28%
Bayard showcases some of the proposed (but not yet final) design changes for light cruisers that were first announced through the World of Warships devblog — specifically, her upper hull and deck is 27mm thick and she has 16mm extremities. Whether or not these become standard across the board or if Bayard will be considered strange for having them remains to be seen.
Bayard is an enormous target. She has these huge, slab sides that are just begging to be smashed. With her bad fire angles perpetually encouraging her to expose her broadside, she sets herself up readily for disaster. And disaster it will be: She has the dreadful combination of a high-water citadel and a small hit point pool. Sudden and dramatic ends to your play time occur with little warning when you misplay. Bayard has the annoying habit of taking citadel hits through her extremities anytime a large caliber shell even looks at you there. There are two perfect shell traps fore and aft to her citadel ready to catch anything flying lengthwise through your ship and those 16mm end-caps may as well be open doors inviting battleship shells in. Taking citadels up the butt is just par for the course here.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Bayard, though. Her citadel is completely enclosed — a trait only shared with the Admiral Hipper-class cruisers. All of the other tier VIII cruisers have their citadel fully or partially abutting against the exterior of the hull. More layers of armour means more autobounce checks. While Bayard’s internal citadel wall isn’t able to foil most battleship caliber shells that punch in through her belt, it has a chance to ricochet anything smaller than a 380mm AP shell which will drop that citadel hit down to a simple penetration. Turning in suddenly to incoming fire can mean the difference between sinking immediately or hip-checking shells for no damage.
On the fish side of things, Bayard stands up quite well to torpedo hits Her anti-torpedo protection is surprising. It’s a shame she didn’t have more hit points to more aptly shrug off the occasional hit. As it is, the damage reduction here is nice but it doesn’t clinch anything.
At the end of the day, though, Bayard’s speed (or a trusty island) is her armour. Her protection scheme is “good enough”, simply put. This is a ship that’s designed to sprint and wiggle in open water or farm damage from behind a spit of land — trusting more that enemies will struggle to hit her in the first place rather than gild herself in enough steel to turn away incoming shells. Bayard’s protection scheme will yield some pretty trollish ricochets, especially against smaller caliber battleship shells.
Her armour is okay. Her anti-torpedo protection is nice. Her hit point total is sketchy. It would be a stretch to say she has good protection but I wouldn’t call it terrible either.
What it would have needed to be : This is one of those times where a evaluation, though accurate when measured at her tier, feels unfair. Bayard’s just a couple thousand HP away from being promoted here and really shouldn’t feel especially fragile.
Top Speed: 34 knots
Engine Boost Bonus: +20% (40.8kts)
Turning Radius: 730m
Rudder Shift Time: 9.3 seconds
4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 5.7º/s
This is where Bayard excels (or is that ‘accels’?). Her 34 knot top speed is very respectable. With her Engine Boost consumable active and a Sierra Mike signal, her flat out speed caps out at 42.5 knots and if you slap on the Engine Boost Modification 1 special upgrade, you can enjoy these speeds for four and a half minute intervals. Bayard thrives in open water where she can stretch her legs and keep her speed up.
On paper, Bayard’s other agility stats are middling. Her rudder shift time is a touch on the slow side, but on par with or better than other high-tier French cruisers. Her turning radius is larger than Charles Martel’s but better than Saint Louis or Henri IV. Her rate of turn is comfortable and can be spiked higher by using her Engine Boost consumable. On the whole, Bayard’s agility is passable to good, largely owing to her speed providing correction where other areas are lacking.
As a high tier cruiser goes, Bayard is generally quite nimble. She doesn’t have the British wiggle-butt going on (and shame on her for that lack) but I’d argue its a worthwhile trade for being able to exceed 40 knots on demand.
This is where I once again lament Bayard’s middling reach on her guns. If she had even another 1000m worth of range, she could kite comfortably and confidently — being able to dodge return fire even from high velocity battleship shells. She can’t quite pull that off and this hurts her overall performance.
Long Ranged (5.8km-3.8km): 25 damage every 0.34 seconds and 4 explosions for 1190 damage each.
Mid Ranged (3.8km to 1.0km): 130 damage every 0.34 seconds and 7 explosions for 980 damage each.
So this is the part where I’m supposed to tell you if Bayard’s AA power is good or not. WELL MUAHAHAHAHA! SUCKS TO BE YOU! I ain’t gonna! We’re once again in one of those transitiony patch thingies where AA power all got changed again and aircraft survivability hasn’t been adjusted to compensate. So who knows if what Bayard has will be good enough to keep her alive in the future? NO ONE! NO ONE AT ALL! YOU’RE ALL DOOMED! DOOMED I TELLS YA! THE TWO PEOPLE STILL PLAYING CARRIERS WILL RULE US ALL!
Evaluation: WHO KNOWS!?
What it would have needed to be BALANS: MORE DEVELOPMENT TIME!
Base Surface Detection: 12.24km
Air Detection Range: 7.16km
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 9.62km
Detection Range when Firing in Smoke: 5.9km
Main Battery Firing Range: 16.44km
Bayard almost redeems herself in my eyes with her surface detection. It’s pretty small. It’s not amazing by any means. However, I should qualify: It’s not amazing for a tier VIII cruiser (though it is pretty good).
For a high-tier French cruiser, though, Bayard’s stealth is pretty darn amazing. Getting a sub-10km surface detection range is almost salve enough to soothe my gripes about her gun range. Bayard can (and must) play peak-a-boo in open water, using and abusing her concealment to take shots at distracted enemies to hoover up the damages only to hold fire and disappear when they start looking her way. Between speed and concealment, she enjoys a considerable degree of flexibility.
What’s more she can stealth torpedo provided you have an opponent making full steam ahead and you drop fish along their path. Bayard excellent torpedo arcs facilitate this while kiting which is all kinds of awesome when you pull it off. It’s contingent on your opponent being bad or distracted, but it’s still pretty novel.
The one good thing I can say about the diminishing number of carriers being played right now is that it allows Bayard to more comfortably take her Hydroacoustic Search consumable over Defensive AA Fire at the moment. As a support gunship, she’s not likely to be on the front lines sniffing out lolibotes, but in a late-game scenario when she might have the opportunity to charge an isolated pocket of smoke, this toolkit is most welcome.
On the whole, Bayard’s vision control is alright bordering on pretty good. She lacks radar or smoke to allow her to contest for primacy among her tier mates so she’ll have to settle for simply not being terrible.
How to be a Good Knight
Bayard is of questionable value as a French cruiser trainer because of her smaller caliber guns. While the WIP (and not finalized) changes to Inertial Fuse for HE Shells has diminished its import somewhat, it’s still worth having for 152mm armed cruisers and not even worth considering for 203mm+ armed ships. This conflict in optimized skill choices will necessitate players either having a dedicated cruiser commander for 152mm armed French light cruiser, compromising her skill choices or balancing the skill choices for a French destroyer instead which has more overlap but is still not quite optimized.
The big question I have is if Bayard is truly unique with her artificially high HE penetration and 27mm amidships deck plating or if she’s going to be made bog-standard a patch or two from now. These features are quite novel so long as they remain unique but there’s no guarantee of that. I asked the devs point-blank before publishing this review if the proposed Inertial Fuse for HE Shell changes were going through and I was told it’s still just a test-concept and not final. So, I don’t know what more to tell you. Frankly, I wouldn’t buy Bayard based on these traits remaining her own special-snowflake defining features, just in case.
Otherwise, I don’t really have too much to say here. As premium’s go, Bayard’s solid. There’s no real surprises to speak of and short of AA power (which is a nebulous black-box of future buffs, nerfs and possible design changes) everything is as-advertised. She’s a high tier French light cruiser, largely replicating the 152mm gunnery of La Galisonnière with twelve rapid-fire rifles at tier VIII. The ship is a little more fragile and shorter ranged than the French heavy cruisers, but she compensates for it with better (and damn good) DPM potential and workable concealment. It’s a reasonable trade. If you enjoy French cruisers and have a hankering for using 152mm guns instead of the 203mm+, Bayard will scratch that itch.
She’s not going to be a ship I reach for, I am sorry to say. It all comes down to her range. If her reach exceeded 17km I think she’d comfortably fit the role I imagine she’s trying to fill. As it is, Irian fits that designation much more aptly and Bayard cannot supplant her, even with her modestly improved damage output. She certainly cannot compete with Monpelier and Cleveland for the close island-support role. Her lack of Surveillance Radar keeps her out of dominating that niche (though her torpedoes are certainly a plus). This leaves Bayard with a feeling that she doesn’t quite belong — straddling two designations without quite being good enough to be worth taking over her competitors.
Bayard reminds me too much of Wichita, Blyskawica or Alabama in that she’s easily overlooked despite otherwise decent performance. She’ll have her fans and they’ll be right to like her, but I don’t foresee widespread popularity. For whatever reason, she didn’t click with me the same way De Grasse did which was similarly bland, but reliable. Oh well.
And as a fun aside: I’m terribly amused that I’m able to say that Alabama is easily overlooked. Suck it, 2017! That’s right! The ship we all got upset about two years ago doesn’t mean anything now! #Alabamagate #BigMamie!
Would I Recommend?
After so many tier IX and X reward ships have been released since late 2018, it feels strangely refreshing to be reviewing a boring ol’ tier VIII premium that’s “only” available through the online store. This one’s a straight up question if you think she’s worth the money or not which shouldn’t be novel but totally is.
For PVE Battles?
Yes. Bayard is a good ship for Co-op modes. I’m curious if she’ll eventually be allowed into Operation: Hermes. As a tier VIII cruiser, it doesn’t seem likely. (That scenario should really allow for Jean Bart and Bayard, though).
For Random Battle Grinding?
Yes. The caliber of her guns precludes her from being a good cruiser trainer (aside for captains of lower tiered French ships you might have kept). However, she should do alright as a destroyer trainer if that’s your preference.
For Competitive Gaming?
No. This was a toughie. I like her speed. I like her reload consumable. But I don’t feel she accomplishes any role better than other choices out there. Neither does she have the flexibility to do many jobs good enough to supplant others. She could work, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t see her being the optimal choice here.
No. She wasn’t built in steel.
For her Fun-Factor?
No. Bayard doesn’t scratch any particular itch for me that I could identify. Like I said, there are more interesting light cruisers I could play instead like Irian and Mikhail Kutuzov.
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!
- The Mouse paper-doll was designed and drawn by Chobittsu.
How about that? A review done on time. I’m more thrilled over that than perhaps I should be. Still, it’s not like I’m making any headway on my backlog. Neustrashimy, Dreadnought, Lenin and now Sirocco has been tossed onto the pile. I’ll keep plugging away. Thanks for reading!