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Premium Ship Review #139 – Wukong

The following is a review of Wukong, the tier VIII Pan Asian premium cruiser.  She was provided to me by Wargaming for evaluation purposes at no cost to me.  To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed here are accurate as of patch 0.9.0.  Please be aware that the ship’s performance may change in the future.

Quick Summary:  A premium Charles Martel-class cruiser with a balanced weapon-set between guns and her fish.  She has completely different consumables than the French ship making her much slower. However, she has faster reloading guns and powerful deep water torpedoes.

PROS

  • Excellent main battery range of 17.6km.
  • Good main battery DPM and fire setting for a heavy cruiser.
  • Powerful, deep water torpedoes with good range, speed and damage.
  • Access to Torpedo Reload Booster.

CONS

  • Very squishy for a heavy cruiser.
  • Meh to poor fire angles forward and aft.
  • On the slow side.
  • Only modest AA firepower.
  • No access to Hydroacoustic Search.

Charles Martel vs Wukong

The French cruisers are gunships foremost with their torpedoes as a comfortable afterthought.  The Monkey King takes a more even approach with modest gunnery and a fairly potent torpedo armament, albeit with the usual targeting limits of deep water fish.  Thus, as a battle progresses, Wukong tends to prefer to get closer though she lacks the flexible, consumable tool-set of the lead of her class.  Simply put, Wukong risks more getting closer but stands to gain more when she does make that move.

Here’s the complete list of differences between them:

  • Wukong is a premium Pan Asian ship.  She has improved economy, access to premium camouflage, can train commanders, etc.  Charles Martel is a tech tree French ship.
  • Wukong has 2 meters more main battery range.  Yep, two whole meters.  Suck it, Charles Martel.
  • Wukong’s guns reload faster.  The Monkey King’s guns reload in 10.5 seconds.  Charles Martel’s reload in 11 seconds.
  • Wukong has powerful deep water torpedoes.  They are faster, longer ranged, harder to detect and more powerful than those found on Charles Martel.  They are also slower loading.
  • Wukong does not have access to a Hydroacoustic SearchShe only has access to Defensive AA Fire.  Charles Martel can choose between the two.
  • Wukong has access to a Torpedo Reload Booster instead of Charles Martel’s Main Battery Reload Booster.
  • Wukong has access to a Spotter Aircraft instead of Charles Martel’s Catapult Fighter.
  • Wukong does not have access to Engine Boost.  She’s nowhere near as fast and flexible as the French ship.

Wukong feels very different from Charles Martel.  They still share the same base game play elements — namely firing from the second line, but Wukong does not have the agility of Charles Martel to make her fight comfortably in open water.  Without access to the vaunted French Engine Boost consumable, her speed, acceleration and agility parameters are all downright pedestrian. Thus open engagements without cover are far more dangerous for Wukong than Charles Martel.  Exercising range to take advantage of longer incoming shell flight times on Wukong is paramount in these fights, as is silencing her guns to disappear when battleship attention strays her way.

Wukong feels closer to a Japanese heavy cruiser than a French one.  She can’t quite build for stealth the way the Japanese heavy cruisers do, but it’s still worthwhile for the extra play she can get out of her torpedoes with this measure.  Much higher risk, indeed.

You can play test Wukong somewhat by using Charles Martel and restricting yourself to only using Defensive AA Fire and her Damage Control Party.  Unlike with the Bajie – Izumo comparison, this is a far less perfect trial run as it does not reflect the impact of Wukong’s torpedo armament and its accompanying Torpedo Reload Booster consumable.

Overview

Let’s get into the nitty gritty with some graphics and details about this ship.  Like with my review of Bajie, I’m keeping this review shorter for a couple of reasons.  Most of the data surrounding Charles Martel is available to all, first of all.  Second, I want to get this review out in a timely manner and full, exhaustive reviews are enormous time sinks.  Instead, I’ll be focusing upon the differences that make Wukong stand apart and hopefully this will be enough information for players to make their own judgements.

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

Wukong doesn’t have any training wheels.  Doing well with her is linked directly to long-range gunnery, a player’s ability to Just Dodge™ and knowing when it’s time to move in and starting pushing the enemy.  These are all skill-sets more likely to be found on experienced players.

The more things change…

Wukong isn’t the same ship as Charles Martel.  They’re the same class, but from the top down, they’re designed to play very differently. Whether they actually play differently is more the question.  You can design things to play a certain way, but if it’s not optimal to be used as you envision, then all of your funky designs are just window-dressings.  Charles Martel plays best at range, using speed and agility to bombard targets from open water.  Between it’s Engine Boost and Main Battery Reload Booster, it’s well positioned to take advantage of this play style, with it’s incredible burst and frustrating ability to dodge well making it a real threat.

Cheshire and Mainz remain works in progress and their performance is subject to change. Please note that the turning radii here are taken from their in-game performance at 4/4 speed during a sustained turn and may differ from the in-port stats provided by Wargaming.  Increases in speed, such as those provided to Bayard and Charles Martel through their Engine Boost consumables, improve a ship’s rate of turn but at the expense of their turning radius.  Simply put: a ship using this consumable changes direction more quickly but needs more room to do it.

Wukong is capable of acting similarly, but without the added on-demand agility and increased rate-of-fire, she’s not as well designed to survive or capitalize on exposed targets.  Placed in this position Wukong is, hands down, an inferior Charles Martel.  Wukong can compete, it’s simply an uphill battle.  The best that could be said about her is that she can open up the range even further with her Spotter Aircraft, ostensibly providing a similar level of protection that Charles Martel enjoys under the effects of Engine Boost.  The duration of the consumables and practicality of the differences between increased range over increased agility doesn’t make this a fair comparison, in my opinion.

This begs the question if there’s an alternative play style which is just as viable for her to undertake.  The answer is ‘yes’ with a big ol’ flaming mandrill’s butt attached.

The consumable differences between the two ships, with Wukong on the left and Charles Martel on the right.  Wuking is much less flexible than her French counterpart.

Wukong has the ability to play as a stealthy torpedo-cruiser.  With a full stealth build, she can rig herself to have a concealment of 10.75km between the Concealment Expert skill, camouflage and the Concealment Modification 1 upgrade.  This provides her with a 1.25km stealth-firing window from which she can launch torpedoes at cruisers, battleships and aircraft carriers without being detected.  Combine this with the improved speed and damage performance of her torpedoes along with her Torpedo Reload Booster and this seems to be the answer, right?

If you disable Wukong’s camouflage through the port UI, you get a Pan Asian colour scheme. However, if you use basic temporary camouflage, Wukong’s palette changes back to a French one. Bajie does this too, but to a Japanese palette.

Wukong torpedoes are good, they’re very good even.  However, they’re not so good that they overshadow (or come close to overshadowing) Wukong’s gun performance.  Short of your opponent being an absolute idiot (or heavily distracted), your torpedoes are never going to outshine your guns.  To me, her fish are very much in the “nice to have” category, rather than the game-defining role.  The one exception here may be co-op battles, where YOLO-rush jousting is in higher demand (and highly rewarded).  Still, it’s not like a single spread of Wukong’s torpedoes can one-shot a hale and healthy battleship, necessitating the well-timed use of her consumable to put one of the big beasts down.  So even in the ideal scenario where nothing goes wrong, there’s still caveats holding Wukong back.

You see, Charles Martel also has the flexibility to move in when opportunity permits.  She’s reasonably capable with her on-demand improved agility and speed over Wukong, to say nothing of her access to her Hydroacoustic Search consumable to help with detection. At close ranges like this, her Main Battery Reload Booster is as much of a danger as her torpedoes so it’s not like Wukong is hands-down better even in this scenario.

Wukong’s DPM is bloody respectable for a heavy cruiser, even if she lacks Charles Martel’s burst potential through her consumable.
She’s not a bad fire setting either.  It pays to keep in mind that these are only comparing her to other HEAVY cruisers.  The light cruisers at tier VIII all kick her butt thoroughly.

The more things stay the same…

Wukong is still a gunship.  She’s a gunship with workable torpedoes, to be clear, but a gunship she remains.  Those torpedoes simply aren’t good enough that they redefine the play style of this ship.  Wukong is still a Charles Martel-class cruiser and whatever the paper designs may imply, you’re still going to get the best mileage dittoing the behaviours of the French lead of her class:  Keep at range.  Kite and bombard the enemy.  You can get closer and use torpedoes opportunistically, but your business is primarily done with guns from a distance.  Wukong may lack Charles Martel’s burst-output, but her sustained DPM and fire setting is respectable.

Frankly, that’s all that really matters.  Wukong is “good enough” to compete.  The question becomes if you’re willing to pay money for second place.

For those not good at the math, a broadside of Wukong’s torpedoes tops out at a theoretical (but not achievable) 55,200 damage. Charles Martel caps out at 44,499. This isn’t enough damage to one-shot any battleship once you start account for torpedo damage reduction, so beware of YOLO rushing pristine big ships if you’ve got survivability in mind.

Overall Impression

Charles Martel is a good ship.  So is Wukong.  Charles Martel is simply better.  I really don’t have much more to say about this ship’s performance beyond that.  I will say that I find it really strange that they named a pretty mediocre, squishy ship after a quadruple-immortal powerhouse like the Monkey King.  Couldn’t they have slapped a British mega-heal on something Russian?  That would have been much more in character.  Like a British mega-healing Kronshtadt or Vladivostok?

For a fun, abridged version of Sun Wukong’s origin story, may I present:

Conclusion

Alright, two down and one to go.  I’m not quite sure what format Siliwangi’s review will take.  I’m leaning towards a full review as there’s such a long list of differences between her and the closest tech tree ship, but we’ll see.  Expect that either late next week or early the week after!  Thank you for reading!

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