Hullo, everyone! Welcome to Lert’s and Mouse’s end-of-year festivities! We’ve got a lot to say and some goodies to giveaway too, so make sure you read through to the end of the article for those details. We’re going to be going over the premium and reward ships that we felt were most memorable in 2019 and why they made our list. These aren’t necessarily the best and worst that 2019 had to offer, simply those that stick out in our minds and are likely to be well remembered (or loathed) in the future.
Let’s begin things with the unfortunate elephant in the room:
2019: The Year that Tried to Murder Fun
Oof. 2019 is almost over, and I’m glad for it. This was one tough year for World of Warships, for the game itself, for the developers and for the players. The CV rework went live and was met with – mixed opinions, to use an understatement the size of US WWII industrial base. The Research bureau was announced to great dissatisfaction from the playerbase, and with good reason – the original implementation was just sheer pay to win. The current implementation is better, but still far from ideal. Then there was the announcement of subs with initial rounds of testing, the introduction of Smolensk, the announcement of the Ikea flat-pack destroyer line with their meatball torpeedus, and the Puerto Rico debacle.
To say this year was one of controversies is, again, an understatement of biblical proportions. What will 2020 look like? One can only hope for less controversy this time around. Me, I’m trying to guard myself against the fatigue that’s been slowly creeping in. A sense of enjoyment I once felt while playing this game now takes more effort than ever to find. I’ve scaled back my play and my forum presence, as some may have noticed.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that if not for Mouse, I might not even be still playing this game. Hours we’ve spent discussing the controversies, sciencing new mechanics, new premium ships, puns I’ve inflicted upon her and just general good times is why I’m still here.
Is it over yet? In hindsight, I should have taken the year off. I certainly could have used it for personal reasons. More universally, this was not a good year for the community as a whole. The enjoyment of the game was severely compromised by the drawn out carrier rework. It took eight months for the systems for the CV rework to stabilize and there are still balance issues to be addressed even now, a full eleven months after it launched. Add on the additional calamities of the Research Academy-Bureau-thingie and the whole end-of-year Puerto Rico debacle and 2019 deserves to burn in a Colbert-Smolensk spammed fire.
To say nothing of my health issues, this was a really difficult year for me. I don’t stomach excessive negativity well. I look to my hobbies for enjoyment, not a constant bitch-fest. Still, there were a lot of valid complaints and criticisms over the year and they needed to be aired and relayed. You would think that with serious problems that exaggeration and vitriol would ebb, laser-focused on solving issues that actually needed addressing. Sadly, misinformation and rhetoric spiked over the course 2019. The Community Contributor program in particular has become a polarized mess of condescending backhand talk and ridicule. Getting review work done has never been more of a challenge than it was in 2019.
I am so very, very glad the year is over.
It hasn’t all been doom and gloom, though. Despite the challenges coming in from all sides, the support of my friends and readers has been most welcome. Furthermore, there was some really fun ship additions to World of Warships. I personally feel that the latest King of the Sea tournament was the best one yet to spectate, for example. It gives me high hopes for the popularity of the competitive scene in the future. And lastly, despite all of the chaos, despite the constant overhauls to mechanics, I did manage to keep abreast of all of the changes and I came out the other side with a solid understanding of the CV-mechanics. So help me, I even found some enjoyment in all of the mess. If nothing else deserves a gold-star, that certainly does.
I hope, like me, you did find some measure of amusement out of all of the 2019 chaos. Furthermore, I hope you’ve had a wonderful and safe holiday season, Bataan Death Marches for Puerto Rico aside. Let’s hope 2020 doesn’t similarly try and kill us all.
- Top Row: Irian, Wichita, Alaska, Exeter, Azuma, Lazo, Neustrashimy, AL Montpelier
- Second Row: AL Yukikaze, Lenin, Georgia, Hill, Benham, Yoshino, Siroco, Bayard
- Third Row: Colbert, Somers, Smolensk, Friesland, Yudachi, Thunderer, Ohio, Ark Royal
- Fourth Row: Yahagi, Viribus Unitis, Genova, Sims B, Scharnhorst B, Graf Zeppelin B, Alaska B, Poltava
- Bottom Row: Gorizia, Puerto Rico
2019 saw the most premium and reward ships released yet to World of Warships, that’s even if you dismiss the four cloned Black Friday vessels. It was one Hell of a busy year. On top of 34 premiums listed above, we had another 31 tech tree ships added between the tech trees for the Russian battleships, British carriers French destroyers and Italian cruisers. Add onto this the aircraft carrier rework and it’s a wonder that everything isn’t on fire.
Colbert. Smolensk. We’re watching you.
Let’s get into Lert’s and my picks for the most memorable of this crop.
The Hatred Award
Smolensk has sparked a lot of hatred on the forum, for a ship that is in my opinion not nearly as overpowered as people make it out to be. Sure it’s strong in its niche, very strong even, but it’s also easily deleted. Especially if you know where it is and can plan your salvo and select the appropriate shell. It’s only in the hands of the very best players that she elevates to a nearly untouchable state, and even then one mistake, one lucky salvo, and it’s all over. All the hatred and vitriol leveled at Smolensk wouldn’t be nearly as abundant if it had been an American ship.
Is she good for the game? Debatable. The HE spam meta has been the source of lament on the forums for a long time now. Is she strong? No doubt. But overpowered to such a point that she’s earned the hatred she’s getting? Personally I believe that has more to do with the flag she’s wearing than anything she’s capable of.
The Most-Balans Award
It’s a wonder how Benham managed not only to slip into the game as-is, but also ended up being a giveaway ship. I’m used to such things being hamstrung at the eleventh hour of development, not kept as competitive monsters. Smolensk may get all of the press for being bad for the game, but Benham deserves no less hate. Worse, I think Benham will end up having longer legs than Smolensk precisely because the Soviet ship gets all of the attention.
It was a difficult choice to not include Benham in my list, but between Puerto Rico taking the spot for nightmare grinds and torpedo spamming destroyers not being that novel, she’s a runner up for me.
The Illegal-Fun Award
I have invested way too many hours into aircraft carriers this year. It was a chance for me to keep ahead of the curve. Even with my health issues, I made the time to understand appreciate all that was happening. As a consequence, I actually started enjoying some of the time I spent in them.
The culmination of this is my love for Ark Royal‘s game-play. Whenever I want to blow off steam, I take her out — as often into Scenarios as Random Battles. The balance of tier VI carriers is much better than the other tiers and Ark Royal is in a particular sweet spot with some pretty hefty weaknesses. I feel less guilty in that regard, even if there are more than a few delicious baby seals being clubbed. Still, those cute little destroyers aren’t going to hug themselves and Ark Royal is just the ship to do it.
The “Sky-is-Falling” Award
Alaska‘s development saw one relatively sizable nerf that instantly had the forum in an uproar. That one nerf had instantly made her completely useless. This was evidence of Russian bias, that Kronshtadt was allowed to exist the way she was but Alaska had to be nerfed. Evidence that the devs hated the USN. The ship was ruined forever, cried all the forum-warriors who’d never driven her, who’d at most seen one in battle driven by a tester. But often not even that.
And then she was released, and all the whining stopped. She was released and proved herself a solid, reliable performer. And now if anyone asks about the best T9 ships, Alaska is often one of the first mentioned. She’s commonplace in matches, and has, on the whole, a good reputation. Where are all the people who said she was a useless piece of crap now? Where’s all the whining?
It’s funny how well Alaska‘s development worked out. She’s an incredibly safe investment, I find, and she joins the ranks of other safe and worthwhile investments from 2019. This list includes (for me) ships like Irian, Lenin, Georgia and Friesland.
The Disappointment Award
Exeter was tested at Tier VI, until WG in their eternal wisdom mucked with her soft stats and downtiered her to tier V. Normally I don’t mind retiering of test ships if it’s warranted and an argument could be made that for Exeter it was, but I’m not convinced. With massaged soft stats and some consumable muckery I still believe she could’ve been a wonderful little tier VI heavy cruiser.
Now don’t get me wrong, Exeter at tier V performs very well and is actually quite powerful. I have no problems with how she feels or plays at tier. But personally I would’ve loved to see her slightly buffed and put at tier VI, where she can div alongside historically related ships like the Leander class and Graf Spee. Missed opportunity I’d say.
As an avowed teaboo you would think that I too would similarly lament Exeter’s treatment. However, I really have to give this prize to Gorizia. The potential of this ship, and indeed the Italian cruiser line as a whole is just one big sad-trombone moment. Gorizia earns a double helping here of not only struggling with the woes of the rest of the Italian cruiser line, but while simultaneously being slapped in as the forgotten runner-up prize for one of the worst mismanaged events in the game’s history.
The Zara-class as a whole had the potential for being amazing powerhouses in World of Warships. Now, they’re simply forgettable. Like Exeter, they’re a victim of being shoved into a tier where they didn’t really belong.
The “Be Careful What You Wish For” Award
Thunderer was made up by Mouse as a joke, as snide commentary on how WG seemed to design their premiums at that time. She was designed to incorporate all the un-fun choices WG could make, designed to be terrible. And then WG made her real. Fortunately not to Mouse’s un-fun specifications, thank Odin. The resulting ship is at least enjoyable and seemingly pretty well balanced with weaker survivability in exchange for superbly comfortable gunnery compared to Conqueror.
For the record, the Thunderer I’ve been bugging Wargaming about for the last year and a half was the Orion-class (tier IV) battleship.
But what did I get instead? Well, they took the joke from my 100th review and seemed to have married it to the proposal I made for Prince of Wales — namely a super-accurate battleship that was squishy as all get out. I wish I could take credit for what Thunderer became but I admit to being blindsided and rather unhelpful with her development. Hell, I HATED this thing for a while until I remembered that I had asked for something similar and reminded myself how that particular ship needed to be played.
The irony here is that Thunderer, for starting out as such an unnecessary and unwanted abomination, has ended up being probably one of the most pleasant premiums of 2019. She has obvious strengths and obvious weaknesses. She rewards good decisions and punishes poor play in a far more fair manner than a lot of the other ships from this year.
I’m sincerely flattered to have my name tied to something so well done, even if I did little but name the darn thing.
The “You Knew It Was On Our List” Award
Puerto Rico. What more can be said about this ship? I’m sure Wargaming would love nothing more than to move ahead and leave the mess of her introduction behind. She was presented as the fun holiday grind for 2019, until the actual requirements came out and it became clear that she was intented only for the top .5% of nolifers, and people with fat wallets. All for a ship that’s decidedly mediocre in actual performance.
Now don’t get me wrong, despite my initial rant about the ship I don’t mind no-lifer / whale only grinds. I don’t mind content gated for people who put in effort beyond what I am reasonable capable of putting in. There are ships I know I’ll never have, and I’m at peace with that. Just call it what it is, and don’t present it as the fun holiday grind event. All WG had to do was introduce the event with things like “Are you man enough for Puerto Rico?” and “Only those who prove themselves over the holiday season will have Puerto Rico!” and I would’ve had a lot more truck with it.
The PR disaster was a PR disaster.
I dunno that Puerto Rico will be much remembered going forward. Her event is definitely more memorable than the ship herself, and the public relations disasters are more memorable still. Puerto Rico is a competent, soft-upgrade to Alaska but tier for tier, she’s nowhere near the success story of her predecessor.
Oh she’ll be remembered alright. She’ll forever carry the stigma of being that mediocre ship with the dumpster-fire introduction.
The Premium of the Year Award
I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise that my premium ship of the year is Friesland. But, it’s not for the reason you might think. While I’m delighted that we finally have a proper Dutch ship in the game, I truly believe she’s a candidate for premium ship of the year on her own merit. She’s unique, offering a playstyle not yet seen in the game. She’s fun to play. Despite her HE spamming playstyle there’ve been hardly any complaints from people playing against her. She has weaknesses keeping her in line despite distinct strengths, and she fills a niche. Plus she’s very pretty, which also helps.
If only she’d been historically more significant. But we can’t have all, can we. Still though, she ticks all the boxes of a good premium ship, and now they’ve announced a Pan Ikea flat pack destroyer line, she’ll have a use as a high tier captain trainer too. All in all I’m more than pleased how well received the first Dutch ship has been. On to the next one! 1047 maybe? An Admiralen? 1913? O-16? Time will tell.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t chime in on Lert’s commentary on Smolensk, here’s why. More than any other ship released in 2019, I think she defines this year. Forget aircraft carriers, forget Puerto Rico, forget the Research Academy; 2019 is the year of Smolensk.
She’s powerful, easy to play, controversial as all get out and prevalent. This ship is everywhere. As much as I loathe the damn thing, I have to admit that she’s popular and with good reason. She’s easily one of the safest investments for your ship collection at the moment. Even the looming threat of multiple nerfs doesn’t lessen the luster around her. It took a poop-tornado the size of Puerto Rico’s release to mute the daily hate-commentary on Smolensk.
It bothers me that I can’t give this award to a ship I like. I was happy to award this to ships like Scharnhorst (2016), Giulio Cesare (2017), and Massachusetts (2018) (battleship bias much, Mouse?) but Smolensk earned it fair and square in 2019.
2019 is over, and not a moment too soon. It’s been a year of some ups and many downs, and we’ve still got the introduction of submarines to look forward to. Or to dread. Current test iterations give me reason to doubt they’ll be well received or a positive addition to the game. Maybe 2020 is the year I finally stop playing. But probably not. Thank you all for reading my ramblings and engaging in discussions. It’s been a memorable year. Let’s hope the next will be forgettable. I’ve had enough of ‘interesting times’, thankyouverymuch.
Though the aircraft carrier rework loomed large in my concerns at the end of 2018, I had more pressing concerns with the proliferation of tier IX+ premiums being added to the game. At the time, Jean Bart was the only tier IX premium that had been sold. There had been others, like Kronshtadt, Musashi, Missouri and Black, but these were all reward vessels — sold indirectly rather than being slapped front and center on the premium shop. Currently there are five tier IX ships being sold directly for cash. And now Puerto Rico is the first tier X premium sold for doubloons. I do not doubt that in 2020, we’ll see more of the same. It’s possible even that ships like Thunderer may similarly move over towards a for-cash value, so long as Wargaming is happy with their current state of balance.
Is it funny I worry more about this than submarines for 2020? Submarines are way down on my list of concerns. I’ve still got it in my head that more changes may be coming to aircraft carriers in the future. It still feels surreal that the rework is “finished” but for some balance adjustments for individual ships. I guess I’m not ready to put that calamity down and worry about new things when I don’t feel the old has yet been addressed to my satisfaction. 2019 was one weird year for a number of reasons.
Thank you all for reading and good luck in the give-away, and a happy new year!
But, let’s end things on a positive. I have stuff to give away and this is open to everyone, regardless of region. Here’s what’s up for grabs:
- TOP PRIZE: Gorizia, the tier VII Premium Italian Heavy Cruiser provided to me by Wargaming.
- RUNNERS UP: Code Combo (Christmas Container Code + Community Contributor Camouflage Code)
I will be giving out ONE (1) Gorizia and TEN (10) Code Combos. Here’s what you need to do to enter:
- Include your USERNAME you want the prize awarded to.
- Include the REGION in which play.
- Tell me what your most-memorable premium or reward ship released in 2019 was and why. The list of all 34 ships is up at the top of the article if you missed it.
These submissions may be made in the following places:
- Here in answer to this article (ShipComrade)
- Reddit on the thread I create linking back to this article.
- My Patreon page where I link back to this article.
- The copy of this article on the North American World of Warships forums.
Reward submissions must be entered before 17:00 UTC on December 30th. Winners will be chose at random from eligible entries. I reserve the right to disqualify people for being total puds. So don’t be a pud. I will publish the winners with my Puerto Rico review.
Thank you all for reading. Have a GREAT and wonderful holiday and a safe New Year’s. Good luck to those sorry few still grinding for Puerto Rico. My heart goes out to you.