The following is a review of Mainz, the tier VIII German light 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 0.9.2.1. Please be aware that she may change in the future.
I can’t think about this ship without thinking of dseehafer, one of the players and forumites from the North American server. I knew dseehafer from his “Know the Difference” series of articles. My grasp of the history surrounding these ships has always been shaky so I gravitated towards people in the know, particularly those who can present such information in a fun way. I always looked forward to one of his comparisons and history blurbs.
Like many of us obsessed with this game, he proposed possible candidates for future vessels in World of Warships. One of his proposals was this very ship — an Admiral Hipper-class cruiser with 150mm guns. This was the first I became aware of the possibility and it seemed like a wonderful idea. Like many of you, I’ve been annoying Wargaming about it off and on over the years.
Regardless of how it came to be in World of Warships, to me this is dseehafer’s ship. He passed away almost two years ago today. I hope he would have enjoyed Mainz. I wish he was still around to be able to tell me everything that’s wrong about it. This review is dedicated to his memory.
- Her citadel protection is very trollish at medium-to-close ranges.
- Good main battery firing range of 17.5km.
- Awesome guns with high DPM and HE penetration.
- Heavy, fast-loading torpedo armament.
- Impressive levels of AA firepower.
- German Hydroacoustic Search.
- Doesn’t require a deep commander-skill build to make her effective.
- Light cruiser armour instead of mirroring Admiral Hipper & Prinz Eugen’s structural plate.
- Bad fire angles on her main battery guns, especially rearward.
- Short torpedo range.
- Slow and clumsy.
- Stonkin’ huge and visible for miles.
Skill Floor: Simple / CASUAL / Challenging/ Difficult
Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / HIGH/ Extreme
Mainz is easy to play: Hold down your left mouse button and hoover up massive amounts of damage. Her HE spam and fire setting are both top shelf. I’d rate her as “simple” if it wasn’t so hard to keep her alive. Novice players will get themselves killed pretty quickly if they’re not careful.
For veterans, the combination of her poor agility, enormous surface detection and squishy outer armour holds her back. This ship is on the cusp of greatness if she had just a little bit more armour or heals or something. Still, she can pull off some pretty amazing things provided your opponents are idiots. But that’s not a caveat you want to count upon.
It’s kind of refreshing to see a no-nonsense ship like Mainz.
Nothing out of the ordinary here except for the usual German-cruiser hydro bonus.
Mainz’s Damage Control Party is standard for a cruiser with unlimited charges, a 5s active period and a 90s/60s reset timer.
Her second slot provides you with a choice between two consumables:
- Her Hydroacoustic Search is the improved German-cruiser version. This comes with two charges base, a 120s active period (as opposed to 100s for most cruisers) and a 180s/120s reset timer. Her detection ranges are also improved: 4.0km for torpedoes (instead of 3.5km) and 6km for ships (instead of 5km) .
- Alternatively you can swap for Defensive AA Fire. This comes with two charges base with a 40s active period and a 120s/80s reset timer. This provides the usual 50% increase to sustained DPS and 300% increase to flak explosion damage.
Finally, Mainz has a Catapult Fighter. This comes with two charges base with the fighters patrolling for 60s with a 135s/90s reset timer. She deploys a squadron of three planes.
This is all pretty standard fare for a cruiser.
Start with Main Armaments Modification 1.
There’s a lot of choice in your second slot, but it’s really a matter of being able to afford what’s best:
- Get Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 from the Armory. This will set you back 17,000 Coal . This will lock your consumable choice in, but it’s a good choice. Heck, it’s the best choice right now Defensive AA Fire just isn’t what it used to be and increasing Mainz’s Hydroacoustic Search run time from 120s to 144s is wonderful.
- If you can’t (or won’t) take the hydro-mod, then you have the choice between Engine Room Protection and Damage Control System Modification 1. Neither are going to rock your socks, with the former taking a bit of strain off your Damage Control Party (not that it’s especially taxed) and the latter providing a bit of damage-over-time mitigation.
Aiming Systems Modification 1 is really the only upgrade worth considering in slot three, I’m sorry to say.
For slot four, you’re making a choice between two different play styles.
- If you’re intending to make use of island cover, then Propulsion Modification 1 (that rename is throwing me off) is your best bet to give that all important improved acceleration from a dead stop to better duck in and out of cover.
- If you’re more intent on firing from open water, then grab Steering Gears Modification 1 (ugh, rename) instead to reduce her rudder shift time.
There’s a similar choice to be presented in slot five.
- Concealment System Modification 1 is still too good to pass up. Increased stealth and increased dispersion from enemy fire? Yeah, it’s hard to say no. Even for a thunderchunking tuba-soloist like Mainz, this is still a good investment.
- If you’re feeling brave and want to double-down on that open-water firing, then you can opt for Steering Gears Modification 2 (ugh, rename!).
Mainz doesn’t require a deep skill build in order to make her effective. This means she’s far more forgiving of a captain trainer than many other premiums out there. This makes her an ideal ship for leveling up the captains of your heavy cruisers and battleships.
Mainz comes with Type 10 Camouflage, providing the usual bonuses:
- A 3% reduction in surface detection ranges.
- A 4% increase to the dispersion of enemy gunfire.
- A 10% reduction to post-battle service costs.
- A 50% increase to experience earned.
Main Battery: Twelve 150mm L/60 guns in 4×3 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration.
Secondary Battery: Twelve 105mm L/65 guns in 6×2 turrets with three turrets per side.
Torpedoes: 4×4 launchers with two per side straddling the fore and aft superstructures.
Mainz’s main battery guns are hella awesome. They’re the same 150mm/L65 guns found on Nurnberg and Mainz boasts twelve of them. They have three primary strengths which makes them so competitive:
- They are long ranged.
- They have an excellent rate of fire.
- They have phenomenal HE base penetration values.
Let’s start with the simplest element to grasp: Mainz’s range. Her 17.5km reach is very comfortable, above the 16.6km average for cruisers of her tier. Range keeps cruisers alive — it allows them to stand off further away and thus gives them more time to respond to threats and make better use of what concealment they have. To Mainz’s benefit, her ballistics allow her to capitalize on said range, with reasonably comfortable gunnery up to about 15km.
At the extremes of her range, she has as much as a 12.5s lead time which largely precludes her from bombarding all but the most predictably moving vessels. Still, Mainz won’t be lacking for targets like this in higher tiered matches. Furthemore, at these longer ranges, her gun arcs allow her to better capitalize on island cover which will also help keep her alive.
Rate of Fire
Mainz’s guns reload in six seconds; that’s hella fast. Mainz easily keeps up with the other light-cruisers in terms of fire setting and damage output, even with her anemic HE shells. When opportunities present themselves for her to make use of her AP rounds, she can really punch hard. These changes aren’t commonplace but capitalizing upon them makes all of the difference.
But it’s Mainz’s HE shells that are the real superstars thanks to the changes from patch 0.9.2.
Increased HE Penetration
Right out of the box, Mainz has 38mm worth of HE penetration. This is enough to directly damage the structural armour (bow/stern) of any ship she comes across. In addition, it allows her to penetrate the upper hull and decks of tier VIII+ American battleships. But there’s more to it than that.
Mainz doesn’t have to choose between direct damage and setting fires. Most other light cruisers are shackled to using Inertial Fuse for HE Shells in order to get similar levels of penetration. Furthermore, taking this skill cuts their fire setting chance in half, forcing them to choose their style of play. Mainz, on the other hand, gets it all. What’s more, she gets it for free. The significance of this can’t be understated. Mainz keeps old-timey, pre-0.9.2 light-cruiser fire setting capabilities and damage output, all in one. In practice, this makes her one of the better potential damage dealers out there while simultaneously not requiring a deep commander skill-build in order to be at her most effective.
In short: Mainz spits out a lot of shells, over long range and most of what those shells will hit will take damage from them and be set ablaze.
The Party Pooper
Mainz doesn’t have everything going her way. First and foremost, her hull is less than ideal. I’ll get into more of that in the later sections, but you’ll see what I mean. Sticking to just firepower elements, Mainz has poor gunnery fire arcs and modest-to-slow gun traverse. In short, her gun-handling kinda sucks. It’s not on catastrophic Vanguard-levels of restricted fire lanes nor Queen Elizabeth sluggish gun-traverse, but neither element is ideal, so I think it worth mentioning.
Furthermore, though her torpedo armament is heavy, her reload times fast and their fire arcs good, at a mere 6km range they are hard to use. They’re nothing more than weapons of desperation. You’re only going to make effective use of them when your opponent screws up. Her individual fish don’t hit especially hard either, so you’ll need multiple hits to put anything down. Neither of these would make me damn the armament had they been mounted on a ship capable of surviving in brawling ranges outside of co-op but this isn’t that ship.
- Mainz’s guns are amazing. Effectively she gets Inertial Fuse for HE Shells for free without having to pay the price for reduced fire setting.
- Her gun handling and the ship upon which the guns are mounted are less than ideal. They’re not terrible, but these are great guns mounted on a meh hull.
- Mainz’s torpedoes are too short ranged to use outside of brawling situations, which she is not built for.
Verdict: The guns sell this ship. Seriously, this is the high water mark. If they haven’t wowed you, stay away.
Hit Points: 42,500
Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck: 25mm/13mm/25mm/27mm
Maximum Citadel Protection: 25mm outer hull + 80mm belt + 40mm turtleback
Torpedo Damage Reduction: 22%
I had very high hopes for Mainz’s defenses but she disappoints me. Let me preface this inevitable gripe-fest by saying that her defense is completely acceptable for a tier VIII light cruiser. In fact, she’s the best protected tier VIII light cruiser, bar none — that’s even accounting for Edinburgh’s portable dry-dock Repair Party. She has good citadel protection with effectively 145mm worth of armour at various angles to keep AP shells out of her machine spaces & magazines. The flatter the AP trajectory, the more effective Mainz’s citadel protection becomes. She combines this with good anti-torpedo defenses and a reasonable chunk of hit points.
Let me make this clear before I go off on a tangent: Mainz’s defense is perfectly acceptable for a light cruiser and has some obvious good points. Got it? Good.
Now let me get my rant on: Wargaming missed an obvious opportunity to give Mainz German Heavy Cruiser structural armour.
With the Inertial Fuse for HE Shells rework with patch 0.9.2, Wargaming adopted a series of standardized armour values for cruisers. One of the effects of this was to subtly differentiate heavy cruisers from light cruisers, giving the former overall slightly better protection. This is especially pronounced in tier VIII+ German and American heavy cruisers who enjoy the vaunted 27mm bow and stern armour sections. This allows them the chance, when properly angled, to auto-ricochet 381mm AP shells that are so commonplace within their matchmaking. This 27mm armour threshold allows these cruisers to make the occasional bold play against select battleship opponents, engaging in close-range brawls and clinching key encounters.
Mainz obviously missed out on this or I wouldn’t be whining like a destroyer that just got cuddled 2 minutes into a match by a Midway.
Had she been given the same treatment as the other Admiral Hipper-class cruisers, the entirety of her outer hull (less her superstructure) would have enjoyed a homogeneous 27mm armour thickness. While this doesn’t guarantee ricochets, it does open up the door for some very interesting possibilities.
Brawling possibilities. And I love brawling.
With only her amidships deck reaching 27mm, Mainz feels very soft-skinned — not only against battleship AP shells but also against destroyer-caliber HE shells. While it would have broken with the armour standards set with patch 0.9.2, I think it would have been an easy quirk to differentiate Mainz and make her appeal to expert players. Her lack of a Repair Party coupled with her enormous surface detection range and low top speed were always going to be liabilities that reigned her in. During my playtesting of Mainz, I kept getting surprised that she didn’t have the same armour profile as Prinz Eugen and Admiral Hipper — it seemed like such a natural fit. I’m very sorry to see this potential gimmick didn’t make the cut.
I just wanted to drive myself closer and hit things with my sword.
Verdict: Pretty good for a tier VIII light cruiser, which unfortunately means it’s terrible when you consider its overall effectiveness. The best you can hope for is to troll some AP fire that tries to citadel you, but that’s really it.
Top Speed: 32.0kts
Turning Radius: 720m
Rudder Shift Time: 10.5s
4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 5.5º/s
There’s really nothing but bad news here. It’s not tragic news, mind you. Mainz is slow and most of her problems stem from this lack of speed. 32 knots is downright pedestrian for a high-tier cruiser and it has a trickle down effect. Because of this low top speed, her rate of turn suffers. Similarly, there’s not as much variance in her forward momentum when she adjusts her throttle settings, making it harder (but not impossible) to dodge incoming fire with extreme-ultra-super-late-braking. Her rudder shift time is slow too, so that adds to the difficulties of dodging.
Thankfully she has a decent main battery gun range, so at least she can use that to assist with avoiding incoming fire. Similarly, her Hydroacoustic Search should trivialize avoiding most torpedo salvos, providing ample warning. Given her love of island-camping, Propulsion Modification 2 is highly recommended to provide more grunt to her engines from a dead stop. This will facilitate making best use of the islands as well as dodging incoming attacks when targeted by guns or fish.
Mainz wins no prizes here. She does not have a high top speed. She does not have a good rudder shift time. Her turning circle radius is only average and her rate of turn is generally slow. Boooooo.
Verdict: Mainz is too slow to be effective here.
Flak Bursts: 6 explosions for 1,400 damage per blast
Long Ranged (up to 5.2km): 119dps at 90% accuracy
Medium Ranged (up to 3.5km): 319dps at 90% accuracy
Short Ranged (up to 2.0km): 147dps at 85% accuracy
It’s simultaneously awesome and infuriating that Mainz’s AA power is so good. On the one hand, she has some of the best AA at her tier, which is really saying something. On the other hand, AA mechanics are terrible, clunky and boring, which is really saying something else.
Mainz’s AA defense is comparable to that of Baltimore, barring the disparity of range on her long range batteries. She easily dominates both Admiral Hipper and Prinz Eugen in terms of AA defense. The flip side of this is that it means almost nothing. While Mainz is capable of making attacks against herself costly to same and lower-tiered carriers, only a damn fool would think her immune to CV predation. Even with her formidable defenses, the best you can hope is that Mainz appears to be a less appealing target than other ships on your team. Good luck with that.
It’s for this reason that I don’t recommend using Defensive AA Fire. It simply doesn’t matter. Mainz’s Catapult Fighter serves as warning enough for enemy CVs that coming near will be expensive and that should suffice to keep them away, at least on the short term.
Verdict: Bloody respectable for as much as that’s worth.
Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 15.3km/12.02km
Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 7.5km/6.08km
Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 8.41km
Main Battery Firing Range: 17.52km
- Mainz’s guns are great.
- Her torpedoes are meh but at least she gets a lot of them and they reload quickly. If you can get in close, you can really ruin someone’s day.
- Her protection scheme has some trollish parts to her citadel defense. She’s otherwise pretty squishy, so good luck with using those aforementioned fish.
- She’s slow and that hurts her overall agility.
- Her AA power is pretty damn good but that doesn’t matter.
So we have a soft, slow but reasonably hard hitting cruiser on our hands. The final question is: Can Mainz fight effectively in open water? If she silences her guns, can she sneak into positions to make best use of her guns, torpedoes and cover?
The answer is: very no.
Mainz’s surface detection is horrible — it’s actually the worst among the cruisers at tier VIII currently. It’s still ahead of most of the battleships at tier VIII, so that’s something, I guess, though Roma can sneak up on you. Still, her surface detection isn’t doing the ship any favours and it largely limits her play-style to island humping if she wants to be effective.
If she’s not hugging an island, Mainz has to stay way at the back so that her modest wiggle gives her even a chance at dodging potential battleship attention. Even then, during playtesting I was loathe to chance it. She’s just too sluggish to dodge effectively. It was only against the most novice battleship or heavy cruiser gunnery that I felt Mainz stood a chance of throwing off their aim.
The only redeeming factor Mainz is her German Hydroacoustic Search. Sadly, this has less value on Mainz than it does on other German cruisers. She doesn’t have the concealment or the armour profile to risk being up on the front lines. You’ll have to leave sniffing out destroyers to other ships if there’s any enemy support even vaguely present.
Verdict: Hella poor. Her Hydroacoustic Searchi is really good, but the opportunities to use it offensively are limited to your opponents being really stupid or just-plain blind.
Remember how much of a fuss was made over Bayard’s firepower when she was released back in July of 2019? Mainz is on that level and, what’s more, she survived patch 0.9.2 intact. That can’t be said about any other light cruiser short of Mogami 155mm.
Now this doesn’t make Mainz “the new Bayard” — not by a long shot. Frankly, there’s a lot about Mainz that sucks. My bias is to nay-say her agility most of all; that’s certainly the area where she differs most from the French demon. I’m still pretty miffed by her armour profile.
Without armour, speed is king and Mainz just doesn’t have it. Troll citadel protection at point blank range is nice and all, but it’s so seldom going to come into play — not when everything else thrown at her can penetrate (HE) or overmatch (large caliber AP). I don’t have anywhere near the confidence in Mainz’s ability to dodge in open water as I did with faster ships.
The challenge with Mainz comes down to keeping her in the game long enough to make the theoretical potential of her weapons count. I don’t feel that this is something many players will find easy in Random or more competitive battles, though it’s dirt-simple in PVE modes. Veterans of Light Cruisers, particularly American ones, will have a better time of it — just pull up your laundry list of workable islands and go from there. More power to you if you can wiggle and dodge to make open water play viable — it wasn’t something I had success with but maybe others can pull it off. Again, in theory, if you can make this work her potential jumps up tremendously and she’ll rival what Bayard was one capable of performing.
I honestly hope I’m making mountains out of molehills in regards to Mainz’s drawbacks. I want this ship to be good and better than I perceive her currently. That’s probably blinding me to the overall potential of this vessel. So take what I’ve said with a big ol’ heaping tablespoon of salt.
This is dseehafer’s ship and I want it to be a good one.
March can suck it.
World of Warships wise, my first couple of weeks was dominated by finishing London and prepping Cheshire. When patch 0.9.2 dropped and Cheshire was sidelined. All of my focus shifted to answering questions about IFHE. Then Wargaming announced to us Community Contributors that Mainz would be releasing April 1st and Cheshire’s review again was pushed back in order to try and get this review out in a timely manner. This was annoying because that review is almost finished.
Wargaming has changed the focus of the Community Contributor program away from providing previews of in-development ships and towards vessels as they’re released. I’m shifting priorities to try and keep up immediately with the release schedule like I did in years previous. It’s going to force a few changes in my review backlog, but hopefully it will ensure that going forward, anything new that comes out will have an article out almost as soon as they’re released.
That is, of course, barring the challenges of self-isolation. Please look after yourselves and your loved ones. Listen to medical professionals and do what they recommend as much as you can.
May April be safe and uneventful, pun 100% intended.