ShipComrade

Premium Ship Review #144 – Cheshire

The following is a review of Cheshire, the tier VIII British heavy cruiser.  This ship was kindly provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes.  To the best of my knowledge, the performance and statistics discussed in this review are current as of patch 0.9.3.1.  Please be aware that the ship may change in the future.

Quick Summary:   A stealthy, but terribly squishy British heavy cruiser with a small battery of powerful 234mm guns.

PROS

  • AP shells can overmatch 16mm worth of armour, including the extremities of many lower-tier cruisers and destroyers.
  • Good AP penetration and improved auto-ricochet angles.
  • Excellent HE penetration, capable of directly damaging most battleship decks.
  • Good gun handling with 10º/s gun rotation rate.
  • Excellent AA firepower.  No, really.  Yeah, I’m surprised too.
  • Stealthy, with a surface detection as low as 9.5km.
  • British “portable dry dock” Repair Party, healing up to 40% of her health per charge before modifiers.

CONS

  • Only six main battery guns, greatly reducing her alpha-strike and DPM.
  • Her “stepped” citadel presents a shell-trap for large caliber battleship AP shells.
  • Only modest gun fire angles, leaves her vulnerable to return fire from AP shells.
  • Mediocre range on main battery guns for so vulnerable a ship.
  • Torpedoes are short ranged at 8km.

Overview

Skill Floor:  Simple / Casual/ CHALLENGING / Difficult
Skill Ceiling:  Low / MODERATE / High / Extreme

This ship doesn’t do anyone any favours, new players least of all.  Like the tier VII Pensacola of years prior, Cheshire is a lemon that will punish you for simply choosing to shoot your guns at the wrong time.  As players become more familiar with the foibles of the British heavies, Cheshire (and her sister Albemarle) will become primary targets for the farming of easy Devastating Strike medals.

For veterans, as appealing as the on-paper potential for this ship appears, in practice she’s just too fragile to really feel worthwhile.  You can do better in almost any other ship where skills like angling, island use, etc will serve you much better.

Options

Consumables

There’s nothing much out of the ordinary here short of her god-tier healing potion.  Keep in mind that all consumables will be the premium version soon so I’m just listing those values.

  • Cheshire’s Damage Control Party is standard for a cruiser with a 60s reset timer.  It’s active for 5 seconds and has unlimited charges.
  • Her Repair Party heals back up to 40% of her health base per charge over 20 seconds.  She starts with two charges with a reset timer of 80s.
  • You have the choice between two consumables in her last slot.  Both consumables start with three charges base.  Her Defensive AA Fire is active for 40s, increasing sustained DPS by 50% and explosion damage by 300%.  It has an 80s reset timer.
    Her Hydroacoustic Search is active for 100s.  It detects torpedoes at 3.5km and ships at 5km.  It has a 120s reset timer.

Upgrades

Start with Main Armaments Modification 1.

In your second slot, Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 is optimal if you can afford it.  Obviously this dictates that you’ll be eschewing using Defensive AA Fire but that’s okay. This will set you back 17,000 Coal .  Otherwise, default to Engine Room Protection.

Aiming System Modification 1 is really the only upgrade worth taking in slot three.

You have a choice in slot 4 depending on how you like to play.  If you prefer island humping, then Propulsion System Modification 1 is preferable to improve your acceleration from a standstill.  Otherwise, Steering Gears Modification 1 is your best bet.

ER MAH GERD choice in slot 5!?  Well, it’s not really.  Concealment System Modification 1 is still optimal.  But, for the sake of argument, let’s look at Ship Consumables Modification 1 and how it affects her consumables:

  • With this, her Damage Control Party will now last 5.5 seconds.  Yawn.
  • Cheshire’s Hydroacoustic Search will increase from 100s to 110s (or to 132s if you have Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 installed).  This is nice.  It’s not game changing, but it’s nice.
  • Her Defensive AA Fire increases from 40s to 44s … which doesn’t really help.  The duration of Defensive AA Fire was never the issue, but rather the damage it does.
  • And here’s the juicy bit:  Her Repair Party adds another 2 ticks worth of healing — or between 4% and 4.8% of her total health depending on if you’re using the India Delta signal or not.  This amounts to an additional 1,700 to 2,040hp per charge used with an upper maximum of 6,120 additional hp with three charges blown.

So, is that worth giving up Concealment System Modification 1?  Heck no.  But Ship Consumables Modification 1 isn’t terrible.  It’s just that Concealment System Modification 1 is (still) too damn good.

Captain Skills

Cheshire isn’t a very skill-hungry boat.  For the first 10 skill points, take the usual suspects.

  • Your choice of a tier 1 skill — I prefer Priority Target to let me know when my doom is nigh.
  • Adrenaline Rush is optimal at tier 2.
  • Through my play-testing, I used Superintendent as my skill of choice at tier 3, thinking I would get to make use of my Repair Party‘s extra heal.
  • And to no one’s surprise, Concealment Expert rounds things off at tier 4.

Pick and choose your favourites for your remaining points.

Camouflage

Cheshire has two camouflage options:  Type 10 and Victorian White camouflage.  They both provide identical bonuses:

  • -3% surface detection
  • +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells.
  • -10% to post-battle service costs.
  • +50% experience earned.
I do like the camouflage schemes for Cheshire. She’s a nice looking ship.

Firepower

Main Battery:  Six 234mm/50 guns in 3×2 turrets in an A-B-X superfiring configuration.
Secondaries:  Sixteen 113mm/45 guns in 8×2 turrets with four mounted each side in superfiring forward and rear positions.
Torpedoes:  Eight tubes in 2×4 launchers with one on each side mounted in the hull beneath the first funnel.

Celebratory Pew-Pews

Let’s start with Cheshire’s secondaries because they’re largely forgettable.  They are decent for cruiser secondaries.  However, given that Wargaming has yet to implement any cruiser with kick-butt secondaries ‘decent’ doesn’t matter.  At least they have 19mm of penetration, so they’re capable of directly damaging anything she faces.  Their high rate of fire does spit out a lot of shells.  But without phenomenal range or improved accuracy, they’re just window dressing.

I did kill a Dallas with one, so that was fun.

The muzzle blasts off of Cheshire’s guns are huge.

Are 234mm guns worthwhile?

This is the big question at the core of not only Cheshire’s worth, but her higher-tiered sisters as well.

  • What’s the big deal with large-caliber guns on a cruiser?
  • What can they do that faster-firing (or more plentiful) 203mm guns can’t?
  • What are their drawbacks?
  • And finally, are they any good?

In theory, a larger caliber gun provides inherent benefits over its smaller brethren.  These include higher penetration values for both HE and AP shells, including energy retention over distance (which factors both into penetration and ballistics).  In addition, the shells will individually cause more damage and have a higher chance of starting fires.  The final benefit is that depending on the size of the shells, it’s possible for their AP rounds to overmatch key armour values, ignoring ricochet mechanics.  These benefits are typically off-set by a smaller number of barrels, a larger dispersion area, a slower rate of fire and worse gun handling.  In summary, larger guns make it more likely that individual hits will cause significant damage but with fewer hits overall compared to smaller-caliber guns.

Whether or not this exchange is worthwhile depends upon just how much these guns gain versus how much they surrender.  For the sake of Cheshire’s 234mm caliber weapons, we have a direct same-tier analogue to compare them to in the form of Albemarle’s 203mm armament.

Alpha versus DPM

You would think that larger caliber guns, though fewer in number, would allow you to deliver more devastating volleys.  The idea being that while you might not shoot as often, the fewer salvos hit harder. I wish that were the case.  Let’s take Albemarle vs Cheshire as an example.

  • Citadel Penetrations (AP):  40,500 Albemarle vs 34,500 Cheshire
  • Citadel Penetration (HE):  29,700 Albemarle vs 23,100 Cheshire
  • Penetration (AP):  13,365 Albemarle vs 11,385 Cheshire
  • Penetration (HE):  9,801 Albemarle vs 7,623 Cheshire

Yeah, so that’s a wash.  A small bump up in gun caliber size does not provide an advantage in damage output on anything but a per-shell basis.  So the increased shell damage does not make up for a three-gun deficit (though in theory it could make up for a two-gun deficit).  Understandably, with a slower reload, the gap only opens up further.

And it’s not like Cheshire’s reload is particularly slow either.  Let me be clear, one of her gimmicks is the accelerated reload on her main battery guns.  Drake and Goliath, using the same weapons, have a base reload time of 18 seconds.  This can be modified down on these ships with the use of Main Battery Modification 3, providing them with a 15.8 second reload.  Cheshire, meanwhile, boasts a 12.5s reload timer which is amazing — this is a half second faster than Albemarle.

So if there’s any benefit to be found here, it has to be on how easily it is to make those shells deal damage rather than the damage potential itself.   Cheshire’s raw damage output values suck, so every hit needs to count.

A cruiser with only six heavy guns has crappy DPM. Who knew?

AP Performance

Cheshire’s AP shells are pretty good at ensuring they deal damage compared to 203mm AP shells found on Albemarle.  I say ‘pretty good’ and not ‘great’.  There are three factors where they hold an advantage over her counterpart.

  1. She has high penetration.
  2. She has improved auto-ricochet angles.
  3. She has overmatch potential against a key structural armour value.
Cheshire has Baltimore’s AP penetration values with Japanese 203mm ballistics. Note that while Cheshire does have slightly improved auto-ricochet angles, they are not on par with Baltimore’s. Her AP shells feel less effective overall because of this, even though they have about the same punch over distance.

British 234mm AP shells have higher penetration than 203mm guns — enough that it matters, but not so much where it’s an advantage except at very close ranges.  Like with HE shells, AP penetration values are important when they cross various functional thresholds — like being enough to citadel cruisers at very long ranges or having enough to penetrate battleship belt armour at specific distances.  Cheshire (and British 234mm guns in general) are capable of both of these things.  Albemarle struggles but can still manage the former and is generally unable to do the latter.  Understandably, this provides Cheshire with a bit more utility out of her AP shells — at least in theory.

That theory is much harder to put into practice.  Punching through battleship belt armour is only possible at suicidal ranges — well within 7km.  At such distances, you’re better suited to making use of her torpedoes rather than relying on the bite of her AP shells.  I suppose every little bit helps, especially given that not all cruisers are capable of doing so.   At least against cruisers, her AP shells are much more reliable, with enough extra penetration to contend with the relative increase in armour thickness due to angling.  Of course, this only works up to a point.

Curiously, Cheshire’s 234mm AP shells have slightly improved auto-ricochet angles, though only slightly — Cheshire’s AP shells automatically ricochet at an angle of 65º instead of 60º though the chance for it to happen still starts at 45º.  This runs contrary to the 234mm AP shells found on Goliath and Drake — so it’s something special found only on Cheshire.

So it’s less likely that Cheshire’s shells will slide off before getting a chance to punch in, but only slightly.  For example, 203mm AP shells normally have a 50/50 chance of ricocheting at 52º or so.  That doesn’t happen to Cheshire until about 55º.  This a far cry from the American auto-ricochet angles, which on Baltimore run from 60º to 67.5º,  This keeps Cheshire’s AP from being a universal shell.

Still, there are some targets that even angling against Cheshire will not avail them.  Her AP shells can overmatch 16mm hull sections; an important armour threshold being found on the extremities and hulls of tier VI and VII heavy cruisers and tier VIII+ very light cruisers.  It’s also the armour value found tier VI and VII destroyer hull forms, providing the 234mm AP shells a whole range of targets where they need not wait for perfect broadsides in order to be effective.  So that’s kinda nice, if a bit of a niche superpower that 203mm AP shells can’t pull off themselves.

I did get a chance to put it to good effect against a Dallas in a brawl during playtesting which was nice — he couldn’t angle against me while I was able to smash shells down the length of his hull even when he angled.  But that was one time in all of my play-testing.  Matchmaking was part to blame in this — being continually up-tiered meant that there were fewer targets where Cheshire’s overmatch could be used, but even seeing an opponent I could overmatch didn’t guarantee that I would have an opportunity to do so.

These three elements make Cheshire’s AP shells more useful than the AP shells of Albemarle though they don’t stray into the potency of American Piercing shells which can be used a lot more often.  So British 234mm AP shells are “more gooder” than Albemarle’s 203mm AP shells, but I’d argue they’re not good enough to make up for that alpha / DPM disparity.

HE Performance

The big numbers to concern ourselves with here are the thresholds needed to directly damage various parts of tier VIII+ battleships. These thresholds are: 1.) Their extremities (32mm) 2.) The upper hull and amidship deck of British & French battleships (32mm) 3.) The amidships deck of American battleships (38mm), 4.) The amidships deck of German battleships 50mm 4.) The amidships deck of Japanese battleships (57mm) 5.)  The amidships deck of Soviet battleships (60mm).

There is one thing, and one thing only to get excited over in regards to Cheshire’s HE performance and that’s her improved HE penetration.  Cheshire has 59mm of base HE penetration as opposed to the 39mm she would be expected to have.  This crosses an important (albeit, not crucial) threshold, allowing her to directly damage the amidship decks of many battleships along with the infamous extended armoured prows of Soviet ships.

This, to me, creates a target preference for Cheshire . Specifically, she’s better suited to hammering any vessel with extensive deck armour which includes most high-tier battleships (with the exception of the French and British) than most 203mm armed heavy cruisers.  Cheshire is capable of stacking direct damage here where other cruisers will have their damage partially mitigated by shells that stray onto these thicker armoured sections.

As nice as this is for Cheshire, it’s a bit of a booby prize.  While it does allow her to damage a wider variety of targets, when it comes to that DPM disparity mentioned previously, this advantage only comes into play in those select circumstances.  HE penetration is a binary after all — you can either penetrate or your shells shatter.  There’s no advantage to having more than you need.  There’s no point to Cheshire’s 59mm of HE penetration when she’s shooting up a destroyer or light cruiser.

Thus, the only way her 234mm HE shells keep up with Albemarle’s 203mm guns is through farming damage off of select battleships.  That’s really it.

I’ve included the FPM of heavy cruisers using IFHE for the sake of comparison when trying to encroach upon Cheshire’s massive penetration values (don’t do this, it’s silly). Overall, Cheshire is not a bad fire starter for a heavy cruiser. She’s not great, mind you,but she’s not bad.
Cheshire may single fire her torpedoes like other British ships which is nice. I wish she had more range.  These weapons are nice and hard hitting and could have done a lot to pad her mediocre gun DPM.

But are they worth it?

Heck no.

Look, 234mm guns aren’t terrible but short of pounding high-tier battleships with HE, Cheshire’s main battery firepower offers nothing worthwhile.  They didn’t stand up to a direct comparison to Albemarle’s guns and they’re no rock stars, so where does that leave these things?

Well, not in a good place. This isn’t a ship that kills anything quickly, and that can be a real problem if she doesn’t have the longevity to farm meaningful damage.  To me, this means that the ship better have some miracle or gimmicks buried in the hull itself in order to make it worthwhile.  Sadly, these don’t materialize in her weapon systems.

While Cheshire’s six-guns are definitely a hurdle to overcome, I lay a lot of the blame with this ship’s performance on her range.  Her 16.1km main battery reach and her 8km range on her torpedoes makes maximizing Cheshire’s firepower difficult.  As you’ll see in later sections regarding this ship, she just doesn’t stand up to return fire.  More range would have provided her with at least the semblance of being able to dodge.  At 17.5km or more, I think I would have felt a lot more comfortable in this ship. 10km fish wouldn’t have hurt either.

In short, Cheshire’s firepower is just plain bad.  Her main battery guns can’t keep up.  Her torpedoes are too short ranged to be used in any role save that of desperation and cruiser secondaries are (still) not worth it.

Like London, Cheshire’s fire arcs aren’t particularly good but at least they’re consistent. For those wondering, “good” entails being able to fire 30º off the long axis of the ship, allowing the ship to fire while still giving her the best chance to take advantage of auto-ricochet mechanics.  Still, Cheshire’s 10º/s gun traverse is sexy.

Verdict:   Awful because she only has six guns.  Also her torpedoes are too short ranged, but mostly because she only has six guns.

Defense

Hit Points: 42,500
Minimum Bow & Deck Armour: 25mm extremities with 30mm plating and deck amidships.
Maximum Citadel Protection:  152mm belt armour
Torpedo Damage Reduction:
19%

With Cheshire’s firepower woes, I was really (REALLY) hoping for some miracles in regards to her durability.  I was an early optimist until I started playing this damn thing.  Lemme show you why:

Cheshire is a certified chungus.

Look at that.  Big healthy heals and a pretty chunky hit point pool to boot.  Awesome!  There’s a whole lot to love here — namely that Repair Party isn’t a universal upgrade at tier VIII and just having one is a pretty solid advantage.  Having a British “portable drydock” which heals back up to 40% of the ship’s health per charge is amazing.  In theory, Cheshire is built to outlast most of her contemporaries, which should largely make up for any deficits in her firepower.

In theory.

Cheshire’s 30mm deck stands out — normally tier VIII heavy cruisers only have 27mm thick decks. This does provide some benefits against small caliber HE shells from destroyers and overmatch protection against battleship caliber AP shells smaller than 429mm.

That all falls apart when you realize that her protection scheme is a joke.  Her citadel is specifically designed to maximize the number of citadel hits she takes — I wish I was kidding.  It’s nigh impossible to angle Cheshire successfully against battleship fire of 380mm caliber or greater.  Every incoming salvo is potentially world ending.  She practically prints Devastating Strike medals for enemy battleships if they catch her out in the open, which means the best protection she could hope for is a big ol’ rock to hide behind.

The guilty party here is Cheshire’s “stepped” citadel. Not only does this section sit up significantly higher (and let’s keep in mind, the rest of Cheshire’s citadel already peeks over the waterline), but the upright angles ensure that battleship caliber shells that are slamming down the length of the ship will still smack against the citadel if they’re aimed high.  Furthermore, it creates a weak point where ships capable of overmatching her 27mm upper hull can STILL dunk shots into her citadel when she’s steeply angled where as other cruisers could at least content themselves that their belt armour will keep out the worst of it.  And, while Cheshire does have some hull sections that can ricochet up to 381mm AP shells, her soft bow and stern provide openings that even these will get through.  This isn’t a problem unique to Cheshire, it’s shared by Albemarle and to a lesser degree by Goliath.  But spreading the pain doesn’t make this any more acceptable.

Kiting and dodging in open water a fool’s errand — any shots that come in are potentially lethal.  When Cheshire is top tier, on the rare occasions where she’s facing 356mm armed battleships (or smaller), surprise-surprise, she becomes a little monster.  But banking on that kind of Matchmaking is a fool’s errand for a tier VIII cruiser.

I’m no stranger to playing squishy cruisers, but I’m used to there being some trade-off for it.  Maybe the ship has excellent firepower.  Maybe her consumables are amazing.  Maybe she has excellent agility and speed to facilitate dodging. Maybe her Repair Party could come off cooldown very quickly?  I dunno, I would expect something for all of Cheshire’s woes.

So here’s the bad news. That ‘hump’ of Cheshire’s stepped citadel is her Achilles’ heel. It’s too easy to hit and it makes angling in this ship next to impossible against high penetration AP shells.  Oh, those thick citadel decks will also guarantee that AP bombs wreck you thoroughly.

Verdict:  Her Repair Party is amazing.  Too bad she can’t survive long enough to take advantage of it.

Agility

Top Speed: 34kts
Turning Radius: 720m
Rudder Shift Time: 10.5s
4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 5.8º/s

On the whole, I have to give Cheshire decent marks here.  Her top speed is respectable for a cruiser.  Her turning radius isn’t horrible.  Her rate of turn is acceptable.  The only real glaring flaw is her rudder shift time and even that’s not irredeemable.  Don’t get me wrong, she could certainly be better — but she’s not terrible.  The only thing that I wish she had was better acceleration, especially given her love of island-humping.  That can be partially corrected by taking Propulsion Modification 1 but that would preclude her from fixing her rudder shift time with Steering Gears Modification 1.  I certainly value the former over the latter given the current meta.

Given Cheshire’s firepower and durability problems, “respectable” agility just doesn’t cut it.  In of itself, Cheshire’s agility would be fine for a heavy cruiser — even good, but with everything else stacked against this ship, it’s just not enough.  I would kill for her to have British light cruiser improved engine power — to make taking shelter behind islands easier or to facilitate dodging.  I would love it if she was even two knots faster, to make running down destroyers or dodging in open water feel a bit more viable, but it’s just not there.

Man, I’ve gotten to re-use this graphic three times now. All the time saved makes me very happy.

VERDICT:  She’s not terrible, but she doesn’t stand out here in a good or bad way.

Anti-Aircraft Defense

Flak Bursts: 7 explosions for 1,470 damage per blast
Long Ranged (up to 5.8km):   168dps at 90% accuracy
Medium Ranged (up to 2.5km):  228dps at 90% accuracy
Short Ranged (up to 2.0km):  249dps at 85% accuracy

Cheshire has some truly monstrous levels of AA firepower — it’s enough to grant her near immunity to tier VI carriers.  This, of course, translates to merely inconveniencing tier VIII and X aircraft carriers.  Cheshire will shoot down a lot of planes.  Given that she’s not starved for commander skill points, you could even go so far as to spend a few towards boosting her AA performance further if you were so inclined.

This ship has to be good at something, after all.

With apologies (still) to the colourblind. Cheshire has arguably the best AA firepower of any tier VIII vessel.  Unless it was show-stopping levels of air-defense, you couldn’t sell me a premium based on its AA firpower, though.

Verdict:  Really good.  Like, “make tier VI carriers cry” levels of good.

Refrigerator

Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 12.1km/9.51km
Base/Minimum Air Detection Range:
7.51km/6.08km
Detection Range When Firing in Smoke:
7.5km
Main Battery Firing Range:
16.1km

Cheshire has good surface detection values.  They’re not great, but they’re good.  Any cruiser capable of dropping their concealment below the 10km range is really nice and I can’t complain here at all about Cheshire’s concealment values.  Had this been paired with benefits anywhere else, such as agility, durability, firepower, good consumables, etc, I would probably be singing this ship’s praises, but here we are.

Cheshire doesn’t interact well with smoke — her 7.5km detection range when opening fire is scarcely better than her improved surface detection so she can’t dare follow destroyers in to take advantage of their advanced smoke screens.  Again, this further relegates this ship to humping islands and hoping against hope that she’s an unappealing target.

Verdict:  Good, but not enough to save the ship.

Final Evaluation

I’m not going to mince words here.  I hate this ship.  I hate playing it.  I’m glad this review is over.  I’m not touching it again until Wargaming does something to improve her lot.  Cheshire offers nothing, nothing of value.  Her 234mm guns with their improved HE penetration could have been a very interesting armament but their performance stops well short of that mark.  This ship needs more range, more agility and/or a faster reload before I would consider her to be a worthwhile investment.

Even in co-op battles, while it’s certainly possible to do well, you’re not really gaining anything over taking out Albemarle instead.  Yes, you might be able to get a few more HE penetrations on high-tier battleships, but you could get the same if you just stuck to peppering superstructures or the bows with 203mm guns.  While overmatching the snoots of charging tier VI and VII bot-cruisers with AP shells is entertaining, it’s not worth the price paid to acquire this ship.

I’m sorry I didn’t get this review out sooner.  Keep well clear of this failure.

Conclusion

Reviewing Cheshire has been really taxing.  My enjoyment of World of Warships was severely compromised with having to keep coming back to this damn thing.  It’s bad enough to play a bad ship, but it makes every little frustration just that much more poignant.  Anyway, it’s over, finally.  I’m going to go do something else for a bit to recharge my batteries.

patreon_shipcomrade.png

Leave a Reply