ShipComrade

Premium Ship Review #136 – Puerto Rico

The following is a review of Puerto Rico, the tier X American Cruiser.  Wargaming didn’t give this to me, but they DID give me doubloons (and Gorizia) a while ago which I elected to use to accelerate acquiring this thing.  This is the release version of the vessel and to the best of my knowledge, all statistics discussed in this article current as of patch 0.8.11.  Please be aware that her statistics may change in the future.

Quick Summary:  A soft upgrade on the Alaska-class large cruiser with a larger main battery, improved protection and AA power coming at the expense of agility, concealment and accuracy.  The running theme with Puerto Rico is how she straddles the line between cruisers and battleships.  With other large cruisers, the lean is very obviously one way or another.  Puerto Rico leans quite heavily towards the battleship side of things.

PROS

  • Massive hit point pool of 71,650hp.
  • Strong armour layout and fully submerged, well protected citadel.
  • Good anti-torpedo protection for a cruiser with a 28% reduction.
  • Enormous gun battery of twelve, powerful 305mm guns with tremendous AP alpha strike potential.
  • Has improved auto-ricochet angles on her AP shells.
  • Good anti-aircraft firepower.
  • Has access to an American Surveillance Radar consumable.

CONS

  • Gun accuracy is found wanting, using American battleship dispersion.
  • Low penetration for a large-cruiser.
  • HE performance is lackluster.
  • Clumsy handling with a slow rudder shift time and enormous turning radius.
  • Large surface and aerial detection ranges.

Overview

Skill Floor:  Simple / Casual / CHALLENGING/ Difficult
Skill Ceiling:  Low / Moderate / HIGH/ Extreme

This thing is a puffed-up tier VII battleship with tier X matchmaking.  I mean, it’s more complicated than that, but that just makes it more difficult for an inexperienced player to wrap their head around.  Veterans will have a good time in this ship, knowing how to make use of her strengths and weaknesses so that she doesn’t FEEL like a bloated tier VII battleship with tier X matchmaking.  Even though she totally is.  Fat, I mean.  Without the PH.

Author’s Note:  I’m not calling this thing a battlecruiser.  “Large cruiser” will do.  I’ll be using that term to describe all of the similar ships to Puerto Rico — those cruisers with main armaments with 283mm guns or larger, regardless of how they were described historically.  I need a catch-all term to describe the sub-type as found in World of Warships and “large cruiser” is used less in common parlance within our community so it will be less confusing than “battlecruiser” which has more historical significance.

Options

Consumables

Nothing surprising here.

Her Damage Control Party is standard for a cruiser with unlimited charges, a 5s active period and a 90s/60s reset timer.

You may choose between two consumables in her second slot:

  • Defensive AA Fire starts with the American bonus of an additional charge, giving Puerto Rico initially 3 charges instead of 2.  This is active for 40s and comes with a 120s/80s reset timer.  It provides the usual bonus of increasing sustained DPS by 50% and flak explosion damage by 300%.
  • Hydroacoustic Search starts with 2 charges.  This detects torpedoes at 3.5km and enemy ships at 5.0km. This has a 100s active period and a 180s / 120s reset timer.

In her third slot, you have the choice between three consumables:

  • Puerto Rico’s Surveillance Radar has a 10km range, a 35s active period and a 180s / 120s reset timer.  It comes with two charges base.
  • Her Catapult Fighter launches 4 planes.  The aircraft remain active and on station for 60s at a range of 3km.  It has a 135s / 90s reset timer and two charges base.
  • Finally, her Spotter Aircraft increases her firing range by 20% for 100s (to 22.56km stock or 26.17km with GFCS2).  This has a 360s / 240s reset timer and comes with three charges base.

Bringing up the rear is Puerto Rico’s Repair Party.  This comes with two charges base. Each charge queues up to 50% of penetration damage and 10% of citadel damage. She heals up to 14% of her health over 28 seconds with a 120 second / 80 second reset timer.

Upgrades

  • You have three options in your first slot.  Main Armaments Modification 1 is optimal.  However, you can choose to use either Damage Control Party Modification 1 or Spotter Aircraft Modification 1. These latter two are Special Upgrades which can be purchased through the Armory for Coal 10px-Coal_icon.png.
  • Again we have three options here.  The best choice is Surveillance Radar Modification 1.  Alternatively, you can take Defensive AA Fire Modification 1 if carriers make you particularly salty, though this is much less advantageous than the former upgrade.  Both of these are Special Upgrades which can be purchased through the Armory for Coal 10px-Coal_icon.png.  If you can’t afford them, default to Damage Control System Modification 1.
  • It should be no surprise but Aiming System Modification 1 is the preferred choice in slot 3.  Again, if CVs make you super salty and you want the illusion that an upgrade will help combat them, you can sacrifice some accuracy for AA Guns Modification 1.
  • As Puerto Rico is more vulnerable to fire, Damage Control System Modification 2 is preferred in slot 4 but you can swap it out for Steering Gears Modification 2 for a more active defense if that’s your jam.
  • Concealment System Modification 1 is the passive upgrade most players will get the best use out of in slot five.  Steering Gears Modification 3 (combined with 2 from the previous slot) allows for a more active, but skill-intensive benefit.
  • Once again we’ve got a triple threat in slot six.  Main Battery Modification 3 gives the most obvious benefit with a raw DPM increase.  Gun Fire Control System Modification 2 increases her reach.  And for those still resentful that patch 8.0 was ever a thing, AA Guns Modification 2 will help you feel like you can do more than Just Dodge™.

Captain Skills

I’ma keep this simple.  Build Puerto Rico the same way you would an American battleship commander.  Go for the following:

  • Priority Target (1pt)
  • Adrenaline Rush (2pts)
  • Basics of Survivability (3pts)
  • Fire Prevention (4pts)

That will do for your first 10 skill points.  After this, look towards useful skills such as Superintendent (3pts), Concealment Expert (4pts), Expert Loader (1pt) or just stick with whatever works best on your battleship captain.

Camouflage

For those who completed the grind, Puerto Rico comes with National – Puerto Rico and Type 20 Camouflage. Both camouflage patterns provide:

  • A 3% reduction in surface detection ranges.
  • A 4% increase to the dispersion of enemy gunfire.
  • A 20% increase to credits earned.
  • A 50% reduction to post-battle service costs.
  • A 100% increase to experience earned.
This is the default camouflage that came with my test-version of the ship, National – Puerto Rico.  This camouflage is unavailable if you don’t have the “Decorative” camouflage option enabled in port.
The Type 20 camouflage pattern caused me a little panic.  On my press account, the Puerto Rico I was assigned didn’t come with this and I had to fork out 5,000 doubloons to get access and I worried everyone would have to do the same.  I have been assured that this camouflage pattern does indeed come with the ship if you unlock it through the missions or by paying doubloons to fast-track.

Firepower

Main Battery:  Twelve 305mm/50 rifles in 4×3 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration.
Secondary Battery:  Sixteen 127mm/54 in 8×2 turrets with a turret mounted fore and aft of the superstructure and three turrets down each side.

Secondaries

Let’s start with Puerto Rico’s secondaries because they’re a fun curiousity.  Puerto Rico uses 127mm/54 guns, not the usual 127mm/38 guns that are prevalent throughout most of the higher tiered American ships.  These longer-barreled secondaries are rare, yo.  They’ve only been found on Midway, Montana and Ohio thus far, so Puerto Rico’s in pretty posh company.  Would that this actually meant something.

The best thing about them is their higher fire chance over 127mm/38 secondaries — 9% base instead of 5%.  But without superb accuracy, reload time, or range, these simply aren’t worth specializing into.  It’s a shame.  I’m still hoping for a secondary-based cruiser to appear and make us all go “oooh!” before we all point and laugh. (Yes, I’m totally foreshadowing).

Gun Handling & Range

Puerto Rico’s fire arcs aren’t good. They’re not terrible, but they aren’t good.

Let’s get settled in with Puerto Rico’s main battery armament.  I have two primary beefs with it:  She doesn’t have enough range.  She doesn’t have good fire angles.

Lemme complain about the latter before the former.  Puerto Rico has really good gun handling for weapons of that size.  She starts with a 6.0º/s gun rotation rate (30s for 180º for those allergic to math) which is excellent.  I mean, these guns still feel big, but they don’t feel ponderous.  It’s very easy to track these guns towards a target.  The only issue is that said target may be outside of her admittedly poor fire arcs.

I’m pretty quick to condemn a ship that need to swing its hips out to 35º from the line of its keel in order to unmask its guns.  This is one of my own personal pet peeves.  Less than 35º, that’s decent.  Less than 30º?  Now we’re talking!  35º or more?  Boo-urns to you, sir.  Boo-urns, I say.  This trait damned more than a few ships in my books and Puerto Rico is treading on thin ice with this kind of nonsense.  It leaves her far too open to reprisals for my liking, especially for a ship that can’t quite boast battleship belt armour.

This brings us onto the subject of range.  Puerto Rico has a fair amount; 18.8km isn’t terrible, but I wanted more.  For a ship with a lot of soft-skinned surfaces and not a whole lot of stealth, range is life.

Dispersion & DPM

180 AP shells fired at a stationary Fuso bot that had no camouflage. Both ships were using the Aiming System Mod 1 upgrade. Alaska uses large-cruiser dispersion (first used with Graf Spee) and 2.05 sigma. Puerto Rico uses American battleship dispersion and 2.20 sigma. Overall, Alaska has a smaller dispersion field but Puerto Rico’s higher sigma will tend to cluster shells closer towards the center of the target area. Alaska’s dispersion is better, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not better by a whole lot.

When Puerto Rico was announced, the big news about her main battery guns was that they have a larger dispersion area than those of some of the other Large Cruisers.

This is true — empirically true beyond a shadow of a doubt.  Combine this with her slower reload, and Puerto Rico has lost many fans even before the whole Directives debacle.  This has damned this ship in the eyes of many.  However, how much it actually matters with Puerto Rico’s larger broadside, comparable (albeit slower) reload and higher sigma value is up for debate.  Quantity has a quality all of it’s own, after all, and so long as Puerto Rico is generating similar numbers of hits over time, do the means really matter?

Puerto Rico’s dispersion and reload woes can be attributed to balancing measures meant to reign in her massive, twelve-gun broadside which is hitherto unseen in other large cruisers.  Effectively, Puerto Rico pays through the nose for the potential of delivering brutal alpha strikes.  And deliver them she can.   The amount of damage this ship can dispense is downright worrying.

It’s a surprise just how high Puerto Rico ranks on a potential DPM chart.  Normally, ships with higher alpha strike potential have lower DPM.  Still, a close inspection will reveal that Puerto Rico’s real strength is in slinging AP shells over HE.  Henri IV + MBRB is for firing over 60s with a single charge used.

HE & AP Shells

Like Alaska, Puerto Rico inherits the improved autobounce AP shell mechanics of American heavy cruisers.  This allows her to retain the use of her AP shells against a greater range of targets when they begin angling against her instead of having to rely upon her HE shells.  Puerto Rico is capable of engaging and penetrating the armoured belts of most cruisers even when they are angled at 45º to the perpendicular up to ranges of 15km.

As nice as these autobounce angles are, Puerto Rico’s AP shells are a bit of a trap.  They’re just good enough in most situations to fool you into thinking they’re a universal round … at least until you run into an enemy battleship.  It seems ludicrous to say it of a battleship caliber shell on a cruiser, but these rounds lack penetration.  Hits to the belt will simply shatter until very close ranges, necessitating that Puerto Rico’s captain aim for squishier parts of the larger ship.  The issue here is that Puerto Rico’s HE shells are only ever going to be “okay” which further complicates when it’s ideal to switch over.  They deal only a modest amount of damage per hit and their fire chance is similarly mediocre for a shell of that caliber.

While it is possible to farm fire damage off battleships by splashing incidental HE hits, this doesn’t play up to Puerto Rico’s strengths.  You’ll need a lot of time to burn a larger ship down to the waterline, time that might be better served delivering knock out blows to cruisers and destroyers.  Against the latter, her HE shells are again, okayish.  She doesn’t quite have the accuracy to deliver lots of hits at range, but her sigma value and the volume of fire will surprise you.

Penetration values drawn from proships.ru. Values are approximate. At the time of writing, Siegfried remains a Work in Progress and her penetration stats may change in the future. Disclaimers and credits aside, Alaska and Puerto Rico have low AP penetration values compared to the higher velocity guns of the German and Soviet large cruisers.  Puerto Rico struggles to contest battleship belt armour at range, especially when it’s even slightly angled.  However, she has more than enough to contend with most cruiser belt armour, regardless of range.

Summary

Large cruiser firepower tends to polarize between being between “cruiser-like” or “battleship-like”.  A case could be made that they are their own beast, however there’s no uniformity between the qualifying ships.  This is largely an artifact of disparate dispersion values, but others factors contribute such as caliber, sigma, normalization, reload time and penetration.   I’m inclined to put Puerto Rico much closer to the battleship side of the scale.  Her reload is slow for a large cruiser and, most damning, she uses American battleship dispersion.

Even though Puerto Rico uses a larger dispersion template, she sits on an excellent 2.20 sigma.  The expected wonkiness just isn’t there as often as “American battleship dispersion” should indicate. Her shells may have the potential to stray by a lot but they’re not going to stray often.  Once you account for the forgiving aspect of her improved autobounce angles and fast turret traverse, Puerto Rico’s gunnery ends up being far more comfortable than on many battleships.

VERDICT:  Good so long as you can effectively sling AP shells.  They get hella mediocre when you have to rely on HE.

Defense

Hit Points: 71,650
Maximum Citadel Protection:
254mm belt + 58mm citadel wall.
Min Bow and Deck Armour:
27mm
Torpedo Damage Reduction:
28%

Puerto Rico’s armour is almost battleship quality.  Almost.  An extra 5mm on her bow and stern, another 2mm on her upper hull and 50mm on her belt and none would be the wiser.  These missing millimeters matter, though.

Armour Protection

Puerto Rico has the equivalent protection of a tier VII battleship.

Let me be clear:  For a cruiser, even a large cruiser, this is downright amazing.   Puerto Rico is second only to Stalingrad in terms of her survivability and even that’s a damn close race.  Puerto Rico can take her turn up on the front line for a short while and endure damage that would make any normal cruiser balk.  However, it would be a mistake to imagine she can sustain battleship levels of abuse for long.

The primary difference between the two top contending larger cruisers is the level of citadel and outer-hull protection.

  • Stalingrad‘s protection scheme stresses bow-tanking and HE immunity at the expense of citadel protection.  Grossly oversimplified, Stalingrad is better at resisting any kind of shell damage.  However, when she is flanked, AP shells that can penetrate her thinner belt will result in her losing massive amounts of health.
  • Puerto Rico‘s armour stresses citadel protection.  While she enjoys some limited HE immunity to smaller caliber rounds, she has nowhere near Stalingrad’s ability to shrug off hits for zero damage.

In short, you’re going to take more incidental shell damage in Puerto Rico than you would Stalingrad.  However, you’re less likely to get your citadel blown out in the American ship, especially from cruiser-caliber weapons.

As good as Puerto Rico’s citadel defense is (seriously, she has over 310mm worth of armour there), it’s not without its flaw.  A cursory examination reveals her 19mm citadel roof which is just begging (BEGGING!) to be overmatched by battleship-caliber AP shells (overmatch me harder, daddy).  This vulnerability is smaller than it may seem, however.  Puerto Rico has a hidden deck, a Chris Hansen of armoured decks if you will, which is there to ruin the party when someone tries to plunge uninvited shells through her citadel roof.

Why don’t you have a seat?  There is a “hidden” 114mm deck above Puerto Rico’s citadel. In addition to the citadel deck itself, there are 114mm plates adjoining the citadel roof to the ship’s external armoured belt. This means in order to overmatch Puerto Rico’s citadel roof, the shell MUST pass through the ship’s 254mm belt. Hits that punch through the 30mm upper hull have no chance of landing citadel hits.  Sadly, this IS enough armour to ensure that AP bombs fuse properly.  Graphical assets pulled from GameModels3D.com.
A head-on view of the layers of armour protection overtop of Puerto Rico’s citadel roof.  Graphical assets pulled from GameModels3D.com.

VUs, Consumables, Floods & Fires

For a cruiser, Puerto Rico has an enormous chunk of hit points which spills over into a large healing potential.  She doesn’t rival Salem and Minotaur in this regard but it’s still sizeable, especially when upgraded with Superintendent commander skill and the India Delta signal.  Puerto Rico boasts excellent anti-torpedo protection compared to most other cruisers, at least until Siegfried is released (then the bar moves waaaay over).

A lot of the battleship-style drawbacks with damage over time effects have been inherited by Puerto Rico.

  • Puerto Rico burns like a battleship.  A single fire burns for up to 18% of her hit points over 60 seconds.  Cruisers burn for half as long, taking only half the damage in total.
  • Puerto Rico floods like a battleship.  A single flood will drown 20% of her hit points over 40 seconds.  Cruisers flood for half that damage over the same time period.
  • Puerto Rico heals citadel damage like a battleship.  She only recovers 10% of citadel damage with her Repair Party as opposed to 33% like most cruisers.

This should really emphasize the necessity of investing into what are ostensibly battleship upgrades and skills, like Damage Control Modification 1, Damage Control Modification 2, Basics of Survivability, and Fire Prevention.  The one ray of sunshine to mitigating this damage is Puerto Rico’s access to a cruiser’s Damage Control Party consumable.  This has a much shorter reset timer than battleship versions.  Properly managed, her consumables can remove the worst of these effects.

Remember when everyone was complaining about the amount of health Viribus Unitis had? I do. That’s why she’ll live on as a standard unit of measure for hit point totals.  This way, that forgettable ship’s legacy can live on.  Puerto Rico has 2.0 VUs of health.

Summary

Puerto Rico is more battleship than cruiser in terms of her durability.  Just keep in mind that she’s a soft-skinned battleship, closer to a tier VII vessel in terms of her armour profile.  Don’t skimp out on fire and flood mitigating skills and upgrades.

VERDICT:  She can keep pace with Stalingrad and even best her in regards to her citadel protection.  And she’s not an HE pinata like Yoshino.  That says a lot.

Agility

Top Speed: 33.5kts
Port Turning Radius:
910m
Rudder Shift Time:
15.9s
4/4 Engine Speed Rotation Rate:
4.5º/s

Puerto Rico handles like a fat duck on a treadmill.  She can waddle at a fair clip in a straight line, but asking her to change directions is just a recipe for a whole lot of awkward flapping.  The good news is that she can’t out turn her turrets.  So there is that.

Puerto Rico doesn’t turn like a one-legged cow with brain damage (that award goes to Stalingrad), but you might need to suffer some form of brain damage to think grinding through her directives is “simple”.

VERDICT:  She handles like a fast-battleship and a fat, fast battleship at that.  Her only saving grace is that she’s got a 33.5 knot top speed — something most battleships struggle to attain.

Anti-Aircraft Defense

Flak Bursts:  Six for 1,680 damage per blast.
Long Ranged AA:
~129dps at 6.0km
Medium Ranged AA:
~378dps at 3.5km
Short Ranged AA:
~158dps at 2.0km

On paper, Puerto Rico has the most formidable AA defense of any of the tier X cruisers.  She has it where it counts:  raw DPS.  However, when you start looking closer, it’s only kinda-sorta okay.

The best thing about Puerto Rico’s AA DPS are her 127mm/54s.  These give an extra 200m range over 127mm/38s, so I guess they’re not just window dressings.  The rest of her armament is made up of a pretty standard assortment of Bofors and Oerlikons.  These two guns start to feel a bit long in the tooth at tier X, not quite having the range and power for the amount desired for the amount of deck space they take up.  It’s really only Puerto Rico’s long range battery that can lend support to allies unless you’re snuggled right up against one another.

In this regard, the fearsome potential of Puerto Rico’s AA power is largely limited to self defense.  In practice, she can’t touch Cockbote and Minotaur for providing fleet support.  Worse, her Bofors and Oerlikons are painfully fragile and won’t survive long under any kind of HE abuse.  Puerto Rico’s defense against air attack can be pretty heavily compromised in the mid-to-late game.  You better hope incoming aircraft run into a few flak bursts.

VERDICT:  Great for self defense.  Pretty meh otherwise, especially after she’s taken a few HE hits.

Refrigerator

Base Surface Detection: 16.56km
Minimum Surface Detection Range:
13.01km
Air Detection Range:
11.16km
Detection Range When Firing in Smoke:
13.15km
Main Battery Firing Range: 
18.81km to 26.18km

The best thing that could be said about Puerto Rico’s vision control is that she packs an American Surveillance Radar consumable.  Even this is second rate compared to the super-long reach (though admittedly shorter duration) of the Soviet version.  The power level of this consumable largely limits the range benefits Puerto Rico could receive from a Spotter Aircraft.  I suppose you could pull a Yuro and simply go without.

For a ship that performs best when flanking her targets, Puerto Rico benefits greatly from a concealment build.  While her surface detection radius is never going to win accolades even when fully upgraded, she is fast enough to exploit gaps and take up advantageous positions to enact a crossfire.  The issue is one of reach, however.  Puerto Rico doesn’t have it.  While admittedly better than some of the other cruisers, for guns of her caliber and for this flanking play-style, something closer to 20km would be more comfortable.  While this does add some appeal to her range modification, her Main Battery Modification 3 remains optimal for the faster rate of fire.  Puerto Rico must simply suffer the range deficit and play appropriately.

So Puerto Rico ends up taking firing positions that leaves her comfortably within return-fire range of anything she could be shooting at.  You can forget keeping her hidden if there are aircraft up or destroyers still lurking. This leaves these bold plays for the late game or when your opponents simply Lemming to one side.

I’d be more comfortable with Puerto Rico’s concealment (or it’s lack) if she had Stalingrad’s ability to just lul at most HE shells.  She doesn’t have that, so we just have to deal, I suppose.

Verdict:  Pretty terrible, redeemed only slightly by her consumables.  Given the size of this bloody thing, it’s a wonder it’s not visible from space like Moskva and Stalingrad.

Final Evaluation

Let’s get the feels of the ship out of the way.

Puerto Rico is a fine vessel.  She’s not going to displace Stalingrad in my eyes, however.  I also find Yoshino to be a more interesting ship (what can I say?  I like ’em weird), but nothing inherently wrong with Puerto Rico.  She’s a good ship.  She’ll perform well with a lot of good things going for her.  Her guns are powerful, she’s pretty darned accurate and she hits like a truck.  Her armour scheme is pretty damn brilliant for a cruiser and her AA power is great.

Were it not for how this ship was acquired, I’d be happy to give this ship passing marks and a solid recommendation for those looking for something a little different.  I’m a little more harsh if you already have Alaska — Alaska is the better ship, tier for tier.  Puerto Rico is an upgrade but up-tiered so it doesn’t quite balance out.  So yeah, she’s a good ship with a big ol’ butt attached.

And here it is:  She’s good but then the Dockyard Debacle happened.  I can’t talk about Puerto Rico without describing how she was acquired.

It looks generous, until you account what’s asked of you.

The Basics of Acquisition

To unlock Puerto Rico, you had to build her.  Wargaming really went all out with the presentation with a beautiful stage by stage animation of the ship’s construction as you progressed.  Let me be completely fair:  This was gorgeous and I loved seeing the ship being assembled and the rewards along the way looked fun.  But let’s get onto how the ship was actually unlocked for a player.

  • To finish building Puerto Rico, you had to accumulate a total of 51,300,000 points from December 16th 2019 (10am UTC) until January 13th, 2020 (10am UTC).  This is 28 days or 40,320 minutes.  Yes, the minutes are important.
  • Opening the dockyard for the first time allowed you to begin construction.  You began with a 500,000 point head start and a build rate of 6pts per minute.  See?  I told you the minutes were important.
  • Simple math should tell you that this wasn’t enough time.

To accumulate points faster, players could unlock boosters to accelerate construction.  These boosters always provided a flat bonus number of points plus an increase in the number of points gained per minute.  They were purchased with a temporary in-game currency called “Ship Building Tokens”.  Boosters had to be acquired sequentially.  You couldn’t unlock Booster #3 until you had unlocked Boosters #1 and #2, for example.  Shipbuilding Tokens were acquired three different ways:

  • A total of 75 tokens were available through a daily login bonus over the course of two weeks.
  • Completing your Daily Missions would award up to 20 tokens per day.  Up to 480 tokens could be earned this way, plus a bonus 160 tokens for completing the monthly-chain for a total of 640 tokens.
  • Completing Directives.  Up to 1,950 tokens could be earned through these.

Boosters cost between 200 to 350 tokens to unlock each.  As you can see, it was via Directives that the most Shipbuilding Tokens were acquired — not only by number but also in speed.    To complete a Directive, a player had to finish between 5 and 6 missions which varied from the simple to the downright gruesome to accomplish.  The initial Directives were never more than mildly annoying while the later Directives required players to commit to playing literally hundreds of games over just a few days.

Thus the stage was set for how Puerto Rico was acquired.  Wargaming’s asks of players to keep abreast of construction generally pans out like this:

  • Spend your Ship Building Tokens ASAP to unlock boosters and accelerate construction.  In order to get the Ship Building Tokens to do this:
  • Log in every day that the event was running.
  • Make sure to complete your Daily Missions.
  • Complete Directives as quickly as you can.

But Where are the Ship Building Moneys?

Now, seeing as this all took place over the holiday season, not everyone was going to be able to login daily, never mind complete missions and directives in a timely fashion.  Well, never you fear.  Wargaming has your back… and their hands on your purse strings.  In addition to the aforementioned boosters, there were three PREMIUM boosters you could buy.

  1. 4,500,000 points + 104 points per minute (6,000 doubloons)
  2. 6,000,000 points + 138 points per minute (8,000 doubloons)
  3. 7,500,000 points + 173 points per minute (10,000 doubloons)

Like the other boosters, these had to be unlocked sequentially.  Thus if you wanted the bonus from booster #2, you’re also buying #1.  Wargaming “conveniently” sells a bundle of 25,000 doubloons for $99.99 Murica Moneys.  Just saying.

Now let’s do a bit of a basic math.  Let’s say you bought all three of these boosters and unlocked the initial booster.  You’re guaranteed to get Puerto Rico, right?

Well, no.  No you aren’t.  Assuming you spent your money at the start of the event, you’d finish the 28 days with 35,436,830 points out of the 51,300,000 needed to get a Puerto Rico.  This would leave you stuck at the end of Stage 5 out of 6 of construction if you couldn’t unlock any more boosters through game-play.

But never you worry, dear customer, you could always throw more money at the problem.  Depending on how far you have progressed, you can always spend more doubloons to complete construction in an instant.  The amount needed depends upon how far construction had advanced.  But you can’t just buy Puerto Rico, silly!  No, you have to purchase all three premium boosters first (duh!).  THEN you get the option to buy Puerto Rico.  The initial asking price here was 35,000 doubloons and dropped as low as 15,000 doubloons if you put some elbow grease in and unlocked a couple of the boosters with Ship Building tokens in a timely fashion.

Yes, Puerto Rico initially has upwards of a $236 US Dollary-doos price tag.

Poor Gorizia

So the stage is set.  Completing Directives on time may not be possible for many players.  Forking out over $200 may also seem unappealing.  So Wargaming tossed us a bone.

Gorizia was slated as a reward for completing the third set of Directives.  HOWEVER, Gorizia was a requirement to completing some of the easier missions for Directives 1, 2 and 3.  Thus, if players bought Gorizia outright through the premium shop before the Dockyard event began, they had an easy leg up on completing Puerto Rico without an arduous grind.  Furthermore players would “get their money back” (HA!) when they completed the third Directive as unlocking Gorizia would refund them 8,000 doubloons if they already owned the ship.

Quite conveniently, if you owned Gorizia, completed Directives 1, 2 and 3 AND paid for all three premium boosters, you were set to complete Puerto Rico with time to spare.  It’s almost like they planned it this way.

And then Things get Worse…

If all of this had been laid out for us from the start, gentle reader, I don’t think there would have been too much bellyaching.  Yes, this would have turned away many players.  Yes, people would have realized that there was no realistic way for them to acquire Puerto Rico over the holiday season based on their schedules and finances.

But Wargaming didn’t lay everything out from the start.

  • Community Contributors were encouraged to make content based on the preview of Dockyard feature on the test server.  No problems here except that the missions and doubloon costs all had placeholder values.  No effort was made on Wargaming’s part to provide content creators with the actual values when making their admittedly glowing reviews for what appeared to be a cool feature.
  • Initial Patch Notes and Event Descriptions trivialized and/or obfuscated the complexity and time investment needed to complete Directives.  Seriously, the language made it sound like just about anyone could unlock Puerto Rico for free.
  • The math needed to figure out how long it would take to unlock Puerto Rico was unnecessarily complicated.  The mechanics of this build are deliberately obtuse, making calculating how much time and money a player needs to spend on World of Warships over a busy holiday season a nightmare.
  • Players were encouraged to spend money early and often for fear of missing out.  The sales tactics here are downright predatory.  The “points per minute” mechanic means that every moment you spend contemplating whether or not to buy a premium booster is a moment you COULD have been earning points towards unlocking Puerto Rico.   Don’t think!  Just spend!  Buy more than you need, in fact, just in case!
  • The campaign was setup to prey upon players that won’t finish their builds on time.  Again, the fear of missing out and the sunken cost fallacy are being used here to encourage players to open their wallets at the tail end of the construction if they’re “so close!” to finishing but can’t make it for whatever reason.  This is, again, downright predatory.
  • The follow-up video about the Dockyard used the Test-Server placeholder values.  So, the internet is blowing up as players come to realize that they’ve been actively bamboozled and then Wargaming comes out with a video about the Dockyard on YouTube advertising the event.  The video uses the old placeholder values for doubloon costs and mission requirements which makes everything look oh-so easy!  Just wait until people who saw that video get suckered into the real costs!

And this was just the onset.  This doesn’t even touch upon the poorly received apologies, the convoluted explanations of mechanics, or the disgusting, derisive commentary that this event was aimed at exploiting the vulnerable (the sick or unemployed).  This doesn’t touch base on the refund shenanigans (you got rewards for spending doubloons — we’re taking the money back from the rewards you unlocked, sorry).  This doesn’t touch base on how unlocking Puerto Rico for free is simply an extension of “crunch culture” from game development being thrust upon players.  There are literally pages upon pages upon pages of commentary on all of this throughout social media.  There are literal hours worth of videos and streams of people talking about this.

Mouse’s Feels

At the end of the day, Puerto Rico is Wargaming justifying charging roughly $80 to $236 Murican cash-moneys for a ship they’d happily sell even to Joe-newbie. Last year, I was bothered that they were selling a tier IX premium to new players.  Now they’ve sold a tier X.  That’s the last flood gate opened.  That’s enough to bother me in of itself, but this whole episode is just so downright scummy that it actively damaged my perception of the game and the company behind it.

You’ll notice that I didn’t bother to cover all of the extra stuff you could unlock while acquiring Puerto Rico.  I touched base on Gorizia, but only briefly.  The simple fact is that I just don’t care.  Wargaming made it painfully clear that they have no respect for us — ANY of us — with this campaign.  In return, I have little inclination to speak well of it. I might have forgiven them for a miscommunication or two, but to hear them actively targeting vulnerable players as an active business decision?  Go to Hell.

I began writing these reviews for the specific purpose of trying to protect players from making bad purchases.  This is one of them.  This is a god damned insult.

No matter how pretty the Dockyard looks, no matter all of the time invested in what is a decent and well performing ship, no matter all of the Christmas reward and bonuses, Wargaming’s self-admitted intent behind selling Puerto Rico is to make you pay more than you need to, even at the expense of your well-being.

With apologies to Jim Sterling, someone at Wargaming decided that having a lot of money wasn’t enough. They needed all of the money.  And they’re not above stepping over anyone and everyone to get it.

In Closing

As promised, her are the list of winners from the “Lert’s & Mouse’s Most Memorable Premiums of 2019”.  I collected all of the valid entries, entered them into a big list and then used a Google RNG machine to select the winners.

  • Grand Prize Winner:   MetalForever – European Server

Congratulations, MetalForever.  I’ve forwarded your details to Wargaming.  They’ll hopefully get your Gorizia credited to you soon (if they haven’t already).  Do let me know if there’s any snag.

The 10 runners up were awarded a pair of codes to redeem for Santa containers and some Community Contributor temporary camouflages.  They are as follows:

  1. dajeffster – North American server
  2. RainbowFartingUnicorn – North American server
  3. KHyena – North American server
  4. RickPatton – North American server
  5. PlatinumT – North American server
  6. Ghawain – North American server
  7. RedshirtedEnsign – North American server
  8. Grantwhy – North American server
  9. Olonar – European server
  10. jellicoe1916 – European server

I have sent private messages containing the codes to the winners already.  If you submitted via Reddit, I sent them over Reddit’s message system.  For the forums, it was done over the forums.  For those who used ShipComrade, I sent it via Twitch (that was the only point of contact I had).

As part of the entries, people had to say which premium & reward ships they thought were most memorable for 2019.  I thought you guys might like to see the top 10 most popular choices.  The top three were only separated by a single vote each, so I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s too close to call there.  Smolensk, Georgia and Friesland were the top picks for sure.

  1. Georgia
  2. Smolensk
  3. Friesland
  4. Alaska
  5. Benham
  6. Thunderer
  7. Puerto Rico
  8. Exeter
  9. Ark Royal
  10. Yoshino

And that’s it for this installment!  The next review will be out the week of January the 8th (probably towards the end of the week)  Thank you all for reading and have a Happy New Year!

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