ShipComrade

Premium Ship Review #151 – California

The following is a review of California, the tier VII American battleship.  This ship has been provided to me by Wargaming for evaluation purposes — I did not have to pay for this thing, which is a good thing because I would have felt offended had I shelled out money for this horribly mistreated piece of history.  To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this article are current as of patch 0.9.5.1.  Please be aware that her performance may change in the future.

I’m not going to waste too much time on this review (she says, and then spends three whole days on it).  USS California’s inclusion in World of Warships bothers me on so many levels.

I should preface this by saying that I love the American standard-type battleships.  I think they are some of the most interesting warships of the Second World War.  They are phoenixes that rose from the ashes of Pearl Harbor.  Despite their outdated designs, they went on to not only find a role in the fast-modernizing US Navy but they went on to engage triumphantly in one of the final battleship surface actions in history.  They could have just as easily remained a footnote in the war, left behind by fate.  So, you can keep your Iowas, the romance (to me) lies in names like West Virginia, Tennessee and California.  This is why I took issue with West Virginia appearing in her Pearl Harbor mien and not that of Surigao Strait.

So imagine my disappointment when, against all advice, Wargaming stuck to their guns and pulled a copy-paste job of USS Arizona’s performance and tacked it onto California.

Now, let me be clear:  Arizona, the tier VI American premium, is awesome.  Lert really helped me appreciate the game play of the “American Bricks” way back in 2016.  However, I do not love Arizona so much that I think cloning her game play and asking people to pay a premium price tag for a tier VII version is right.  While California does have some minor improvements over Arizona, they are (in my opinion) inconsequential.  I fear that these buffs will blindside people to what is nothing more than an already existing tier VI premium with a tier VII price tag.  With that in mind, this review is going to myopically focus on the differences between Arizona and California and why one ship is worth the money and the other is a slap in the face.

As much as I need a break right now, USS California is a big enough name to elicit sales simply merely by reputation.  I know it.  You know it.  Wargaming knows it too.  I want to head off any impulse purchases and warn players that they’re not getting a ship worthy of California’s name.

Quick Summary:

A slow American standard-type battleship with horrible gun firing arcs but improved long-range gunnery with her twelve 356mm guns.  She has excellent AA firepower.

PROS

  • Fully submerged citadel.
  • Heavy broadside of twelve 356mm/50 guns.
  • Long ranged with a starting reach of 19.9km which can be extended to as much as 27.7km between upgrades and consumables.
  • Decent gunnery dispersion with 1.9 sigma.
  • Small turning circle radius of 640m.
  • Excellent AA firepower, equivalent to a tier VIII American battleship.
  • Good concealment with a surface detection as low as 11.8km.

CONS

  • Painfully long, 34.2s reload.
  • 356mm guns lack overmatching ability against targets with 25mm+ extremities.
  • Horrible gun handling and appalling gun firing angles.
  • Very slow top speed of 20.5 knots and poor handling as a result despite her smaller turning circle radius.

Overview

Skill Floor:  Simple / CASUAL / Challenging/ Difficult
Skill Ceiling:  Low / MODERATE / High / Extreme

California isn’t difficult to play.  Picking her up and farming some damage is pretty easy.  Were it not for her horribly slow speed, I’d have given her a ‘simple’ rating.  All you really need to know are the battleship basics:  use the correct ammo, beware of flashing your sides, try not to get left behind.

California’s speed is a severe handicap, but you knew that coming in.  California gets no tools to seriously mitigate this.  Long range is nice, so flex those aiming skills you’ve acquired, but her gun caliber and long reload will largely limit the impact this has.  You can largely forget applying those brawling skills or getting to cap or even angling to mitigate damage — it’s just not applicable.  There’s a pretty hard cap on how far skill will take you with this ship.

Options

There’s nothing too surprising about California’s options.  She conforms to the norms for American battleships.  She doesn’t get access to Aiming Systems Modification 1 to reduce her main battery gun dispersion.  Instead, she has Gun Fire Control Modification 1 which increases her main battery gun range.

Consumables

  • California’s Damage Control Party is standard for an American battleship.  It comes with unlimited charges and an 80s reset timer.  For US battleships, this is active for 20 seconds rather than the 15 seconds for other nations, so bonus there.
  • Her Repair Party is also standard.  It queues up 50% of penetration damage, 10% of citadel damage and 100% of all other damage types.  Each charge heals a base of up to 14% of the ship’s health over 28 seconds.  She starts with four charges.
  • In her third slot, you have the choice between a Spotting Aircraft and a Catapult Fighter.  The former increases range by 20% for 100 seconds.  It comes with four charges and a four minute reset timer.  Her fighter is active for a mere 60 seconds (like all Battleship fighters) and resets in 90 seconds.  It has three charges base and sends up a squadron of 3 planes.

Upgrades

There should be no surprises for anyone here.  Build for survivability and fire resistance.

  • Start with Main Armaments Modification 1.
  • In the second slot, begin your fire resistance build with Damage Control Systems Modification 1.
  • Most people are going to want to spring for more range for California and thus Artillery Plotting Room Modification 1 will seem optimal.  However, once you get behind the helm of California and play with her (as I have), you’ll come to hate her sluggish gun traverse as much as I do and Main Battery Modification 2 will look hella appealing.
  • Damage Control Systems Modification 2 is your best choice for slot four, however, given California’s ridiculously-poor fire angles, you will not be blamed for reaching for Steering Gears Modification 1 in order to help with rudder shift time to swing her butt out and back in between salvos.

Commander Skills

Time to re-use a graphic because battleship skill optimization has stagnated!

Same old, same old.  Build for fire-resistance first, then double back for your other skills.  You probably want Expert Marksman over Adrenaline Rush on your first pass.

Camouflage

California has access to two camouflage patterns: Type 10 Camouflage – California and Freedom — California.  The two are merely cosmetic swaps of each other, providing the same benefits.  You’ll probably have to shell out some extra cash for the Freedom camo, whether that will be through a bundle or with doubloons after the fact.

  • 3% bonus concealment from surface targets
  • 4% increase to enemy gunnery dispersion
  • 10% reduction to post-battle service costs
  • 50% bonus to experience gains.

Summary so far:  Well, so far so good, I suppose.   There’s nothing out of the ordinary here.

I dunno what’s going on with California’s turrets with her Freedom camouflage.

Firepower

Main Battery:  Twelve 356mm/50 guns in 4×3 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration.
Secondary Battery:  Sixteen 127mm/38 guns in 8×2 turrets in superfiring pairs on either side of the ship facing fore and aft.

Arizona & California’s Main Battery Differences

  • California has more range (19.9km vs 16km)
  • California’s AP shells do more damage (10,500 vs 10,300)
  • California has a faster reload (34.2s vs 35s)
  • California’s AP shells have higher penetration.
  • California’s shells have higher muzzle velocity.
  • California has higher sigma (1.9 vs 1.8).
  • California has much reduced firing arcs (102º broadside vs 113º)

California uses New Mexico’s 356mm/50 caliber guns rather than Arizona’s 356mm/45s.  A lot of what’s listed above owe to the differences of the gun calibers. Compared to New Mexico, California has increased range (19.9km vs 16.1km) and better sigma (1.9 vs 1.5) but again that horrible deficit in fire arcs (102º broadside vs 109º).

So while California is an obvious gunnery upgrade over New Mexico, California is only a soft upgrade on Arizona.  The biggest advantage here is her increased range with the rest largely being window-dressings. Calfornia does have a higher muzzle velocity and thus better AP penetration over distance.  However this gap isn’t quite as pronounced as the difference in speed would suggest as Arizona has higher Krupp, a coefficient WG uses to directly modify penetration values.

California’s increased rate of fire, higher shell damage and sigma are all nice but the difference is so minor as to be largely unnoticeable.  California is a slow reloading, reasonably accurate 356mm armed battleship.  The 0.8 second faster reload still does not make her feel like she has anything but a painfully slow rate of fire.  The 0.1 sigma difference is imperceptible in game play — you couldn’t tell the difference if you tried.  And finally, as nice as the extra damage is, these are still 356mm guns.  Compared to the 380mm, 406mm and 410mm shells being thrown about by some of her tier mates, their individual shell performance is middling at best.

Thus cutting through all of the crap, California’s only significant change is her range increase over Arizona and she pays for this with truly appalling gun fire arcs.  Observe:

California has absolutely horrid main battery traverse rates, coming about at a glacial 60s for 180º.

California has tier VI firepower with tier VII range.  As much as I would like to be excited about her range, she needs it or the ship simply doesn’t work.  Wargaming will try and sell you this ship bragging that this reach is to California’s advantage.  Simply put, it’s the only thing which makes this ship viable as a tier VII vessel and even then it barely passes muster.  This ship is slow.  Unlike Arizona which finds herself occasionally enjoying the 36km x 36km claustrophobic maps of lower tiers, California more often than not sees the 42m x 42km and 48km x 48km maps of higher tiers.  That extra reach is an outright necessity to bring her guns into play before the battle moves on without her.  Even then, it’s often not enough.

You can get a taste for this already by playing Arizona in bottom tiered matches and struggling to keep up with the pace of battle.  California’s reach partially mitigates this, but only partially.  Her horrible gun fire angles necessitate that she swing out and show a lot more broadside in order to bring the weight of fire to bear on targets.  This exaggerated manoeuvre bleeds speed (to say nothing of changing her heading and possibly navigating away from battle), further slowing her already ponderous pace.  Thus her range becomes even more important.

Are California’s main battery guns better than Arizona’s?  Absolutely.  Are they good enough to be tier VII guns?  Sure — they have better range and much better sigma than New Mexico’s.  The issue, though, is that they’re not improved enough over the tier VI premium’s to be worthwhile.  Arizona’s weapons are amazing at tier VI.  California’s weapons are only okay at tier VII.  This means, gunnery wise, you’re paying more money for a worse experience.

This means for California to be worth her price tag, she’s gotta make it up elsewhere.

Once again, here are some dispersion tests. These are 180 shells fired at 15km locked onto the stationary Fuso bot. The bot was without camouflage. Unlike my normal dispersion tests, as Arizona and California can’t equip the dispersion reducing ASM1 upgrade, their fields look comparatively larger than ships of the same tier.  Shots are coming in from right to left with Fuso bow-tanking.
One of these is California, the other Arizona.  I’m not telling you which ship is which. If you’re struggling to see a difference in as clinical and sterile a trial as this, you have no hope of feeling the difference through normal game play.  In battle, targets are moving at different angles and speeds which makes any reasonable evaluation exceedingly difficult unless there is a tremendous change in performance.  This is why I frown on a difference of 0.1 sigma being used as a selling feature — it’s a “spreadsheet” value that will affect a ship over the course of several games but isn’t likely to be significant within a single match.

A Missed Opportunity

California doesn’t make up for her main battery gunnery with her secondaries.

California’s secondaries are crap and they didn’t have to be.  Despite constant suggestions to give her improved accuracy and/or range on her secondaries, Wargaming wouldn’t budge on keeping them standardized.  These weapons are not worth upgrading any more than you would find it worthwhile to upgrade North Carolina’s or Alabama’s secondaries.

California’s AP penetration is okay. It’s not high-velocity Soviet-good like Poltava’s, though, nor does it have Duke of York’s improved auto-ricochet angles (which shares the same penetration as KGV). Landing citadel hits against enemy battleships tends to fall off at ranges over 14km or so, but you should still be able to land penetrating hits through most belts you’ll encounter.
In theory, California has some pretty good AP damage output. She doesn’t have boosted HE shell damage the way Japanese and British battleships do, so she’s kind of lackluster there. That hurts given her inability to overmatch 25mm armour that’s so commonplace within her matchmaking spread.  Arizona sits just behind California in AP and HE DPM, but not so much that you’ll notice in most cases.

Summary so far:   You’re buying a longer-ranged Arizona.  The 0.8s improved reload time and harder hitting AP shells are okay, but you can’t feel the 0.1 sigma difference.  However you’re paying for the improvements with very crappy gun fire angles.

  • Options:  Nothing unusual, for good or ill.
  • Firepower:  Arizona with longer range, slightly improved damage output but much worse fire arcs.

Durability

Hit Points: 58,300
Min Bow & Deck Armour: 26mm extremities, upper hull and deck with some 31mm rear deck sections behind the superstructure.
Maximum Citadel Protection:  35mm anti-torpedo bulge, 343mm belt and 44mm citadel wall.
Torpedo Damage Reduction:  36%

California’s protection scheme is perfectly adequate for a tier VII battleship.  It’s comparable to Arizona’s and they each have their strengths.

California versus Arizona’s Durability

  • California has more health (58,300hp vs 57,200hp)
  • Arizona has better anti-torpedo protection.  No, really.  (37% damage reduction for Arizona vs 36% for California)
  • Arizona has better upper-hull armour.  (Arizona has a strip of 37mm armour above her belt while California’s upper hull is only 26mm).
  • California has better deck protection (California’s deck behind her superstructure and around her X & Y turrets is 31mm thick.  All of Arizona’s decks are 26mm).

Overall, the ships are very comparable in terms of their protection and durability.  While California has the slight edge in health, it pays to keep in mind that Arizona has a large hit point pool for a tier VI battleship while California is on the low side of average for tier VII.  Tier for tier, Arizona is the better protected ship with her armour and hit points meaning more at tier VI than California’s at tier VII.

That 35mm anti-torpedo bulge covers a huge section of California’s side. All things told, it’s not bad for helping keep shells out (especially when angling).  Her 31mm rear deck will help shatter small-caliber HE shells too, as will her 50mm armoured secondaries.
Look at that chungus. This is a top-down view of California with her 343mm belt highlighted in red. You can see just how massive her 35mm anti-torpedo bulges are.  Shells which fuse inside this bulge but outside of the hull spaces underneath result in zero damage penetrations.
Here’s a better view of how deep California’s belt extends. The dark red is 343mm thick while the orange strip at the bottom is where it tapers to 273mm. In order to land citadel hits, shells must contend with her 35mm anti-torpedo bulge then her 343mm belt and finally her 44mm citadel wall.
California’s citadel (in yellow) is fully submerged well below the waterline.  Short of adding a turtleback, it’s as well protected as you could hope it to be.  The most dangerous shots come from medium to long range where shells have a bit of drop going for them to strike beneath the waterline and angle towards the citadel.

As good as California’s lateral protection is, her big weak spot is her bow.  Her stern is made up of composite layers of armour beneath the 26mm outer shell in a similar vein to Giulio Cesare’s bow.  It isn’t anywhere near as vulnerable.  But her bow?  It’s just the 26mm outer portion until you smack the transverse bulkheads protecting her citadel.  They’re not thick enough to keep battleship caliber shells out.  Furthermore, that big 26mm area is just begging to receive hits from HE spam.  California faces a lot more opponents that can easily best her extremity and deck armour — not only with battleship caliber AP but also HE spam from cruisers with enough base penetration to out-muscle her structural protection.

Once engaged at medium-range, there’s really not much this ship can do about it short of trying to fight her way out.  As we’ve already covered, she doesn’t really have that much better of a chance of doing so than Arizona.  California’s protection scheme is decent for a tier VII battleship but it’s nothing special either short of her anti-torpedo protection (which is good but not as amazing as the size of her bulges would suggest).  She doesn’t have improved heals like the British battleships.  She doesn’t have a nigh-impervious citadel like Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.  She’s missing an ice-breaker bow like the aforementioned German ships.  The Soviets infamously have it too.

Were it me at the helm of California’s project, if improving her offense was off the table I would have done something here.  There’s lots of ways they could have gone about it, though I think the most elegant solution would have been to give her 32mm structural plate on her bow, stern, deck and upper hull, akin to a tier VIII battleship.  She would have felt immediately tankier but still vulnerable to higher tiered ships.  Oh well, missed opportunities.

California’s on the low end of average for her potential health.  This isn’t exactly welcome for such a slow brick with a big squishy snoot to boop.  California has a boring ol’ 14% healed over 28s, not the 16.8% of the KGVs and Hood, the 40% Nelson or even Colorado’s 18.48%.  It could be worse, I suppose.  She could have ended up like Poltava with a max of 4 charges of heals.

Summary so far:   Worse protection than Arizona, tier for tier, but that’s largely owing to a deficit of hit points as a tier VII battleship.  Her protection scheme is otherwise fine though her snoot is a huge weak spot.

  • Options:  Nothing unusual, for good or ill.
  • Firepower:  Arizona with longer range, slightly improved damage output but much worse fire arcs.
  • Durability:  Comparable durability to Arizona even though she sits a tier higher.

Agility

Top Speed: 20.5 knots
Turning Radius:  640m
Rudder Shift Time: 14.7 seconds
4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn:  3.7º/s

So, there are slow battleships in World of Warships and then there are the American premium standard-types.  You see, the normal American tech-tree battleships have an artificial boost added to their engines — they don’t bleed speed like normal battleships do.  It’s akin to (but not a copy of) the UFO-style acceleration found on British cruisers and destroyers.  However, the premium standards Arizona, West Virginia 1941 and now California, all lack this boost.  They decelerate like normal battleships.   This means the moment you touch their rudder, they dump their speed faster than a tweaked-out college student having their dorm inspected.

The net effect is that though California has a 20.5 knot top speed, she’s usually flirting with much less — as little as 15.3 knots at 4/4 engine settings.  Colorado at least manages 19.2 knots under heavy manoeuvres.  The horrible fire arcs on California’s guns will necessitate more manoeuvring to swing out her guns and then duck back which will only ensure she’s stuck on the lower end of this speed.  I have no idea why Wargaming didn’t provide her with the tech-tree style energy preservation.  This would have made her functionally as fast as Nagato under manoeuvres.

So you can largely forget about getting anywhere fast.  You can forget keeping up with the pace of battle.  You can also forget about successfully kiting or disengaging when things turn sour.  I think the real unfortunate detriment here is that it makes California more vulnerable to torpedoes.  If you’re trying to get from A to B as fast as possible, you’re not going to want to touch your rudder.  That just makes her easy meat for enterprising lolibotes.

Ostensibly, California’s range is supposed to help her here.  She might not be physically present in the heat of combat, but her reach should allow her to at least offer some contribution while she lags way in the back.

Summary so far:   California’s agility is absolutely appalling and worse than it had to be.  Still, she’s not far removed from Arizona — like, the differences are barely perceptible.  However, the larger map sizes makes this a lot more problematic.

  • Options:  Nothing unusual, for good or ill.
  • Firepower:  Arizona with longer range, slightly improved damage output but much worse fire arcs.
  • Durability:  Comparable durability to Arizona even though she sits a tier higher.
  • Agility:  An ever-so-slightly worse Arizona but now deployed on larger maps.

Anti-Aircraft Defense

Flak Bursts: 5 explosions for 1,400 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.8km.
Long Ranged (up to 5.8km):   137 dps at 75% accuracy
Medium Ranged (up to 3.5km):  364 dps at 75% accuracy
Short Ranged (up to 2.0km): 490dps at 70% accuracy

So here’s California’s main selling feature.  You get tier VIII American battleship AA firepower at tier VII.  This is in contrast to Arizona which has like … no practical AA to speak of.

As far as gimmicks go, it’s downright laughable in the current meta.  This might have meant something back before the CV rework, but it’s a joke currently.  Before patch 0.8.0, the levels of AA firepower California puts out would have been formidable and worth celebrating.  She would have been a meme the way USS Texas used to be down at tier V.  Now such AA firepower is merely an inconvenience to CVs.  While tier VI carriers have to respect your AA firepower they can still strike you.  Furthermore, it’s not going to put off a determined tier VIII carrier even for a moment.

The best that can be said is that California won’t be high on the enemy aircraft’s priority list.  However, she has enough problems already without considering CV strikes.

I’ve sorted these ships by the formula I like to use (DPS x [range-1km]) to give a better, but not entirely accurate, impression of AA effectiveness — the logic being that longer range AA is better than shorter range AA. Hood is listed without DFAA active, just know that the numbers shown here jump by 50% when she pulls the trigger. Nothing can touch California, though, which sits smack in the middle of the tier VIII American BB range, rubbing elbows with Alabama, North Carolina and everyone’s favourite: Massachusetts.
Summary so far:   California has absolutely amazing AA levels.  She’s boasting not only tier VIII AA firepower at tier VII but good tier VIII firepower at tier VII.  Unfortunately the state of the CV rework makes AA unrewarding and frankly useless at times no matter how much of it you have.  This is a booby prize in the current meta.

  • Options:  Nothing unusual, for good or ill.
  • Firepower:  Arizona with longer range, slightly improved damage output but much worse fire arcs.
  • Durability:  Comparable durability to Arizona even though she sits a tier higher.
  • Agility:  An ever-so-slightly worse Arizona but now deployed on larger maps.
  • AA Defense:  Excellent and sadly irrelevant.

Refrigerator

Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 13.5km / 11.79km
Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 9.69km/ 8.72km
Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 11.71km

California is very sneaky for a tier VII battleship.  I wish this could have meant more than it does.  This ship isn’t likely to sneak up on anyone, mostly because it’s patently unable to catch up to anything that doesn’t want to be caught.  At best, you might be able to setup an ambush and catch someone unawares but that’s not likely to happen — again because of that lack of speed.  Ostensibly, this should allow her to disengage more easily by holding fire but let’s not kid ourselves into imagining that she can escape pursuit.  Without allies to road-block, California will be run down, sneaky or not.

The final thing to keep in mind is that because of her long range, every time she pulls the trigger, she rings the dinner bell.  This can be especially problematic if you’ve boosted her range and there are silly things like a bored Musashi or Champagne itching for targets.

So California has good concealment!  Unfortunately she can’t really take advantage as well as another battleship might because of her slowness.

Summary so far:   California’s concealment is meant to be her saving grace.  With a base 900m advantage over Arizona, this is supposed to facilitate not only engaging the enemy but escaping from difficult situations.  However, without it being paired with improved agility or durability, this bonus is merely nice to have, rather than ship-defining.

  • Options:  Nothing unusual, for good or ill.
  • Firepower:  Arizona with longer range, slightly improved damage output but much worse fire arcs.
  • Durability:  Comparable durability to Arizona even though she sits a tier higher.
  • Agility:  An ever-so-slightly worse Arizona but now deployed on larger maps.
  • AA Defense:  Excellent and sadly irrelevant.
  • Vision Control:  Better than Arizona by a lot, but she isn’t able to take ready advantage of it.

Summary: California vs Arizona

California is a longer ranged Arizona with slightly improved damage output between better AP shells and a faster reload.  Her improved dispersion via sigma will only be apparent over the course of multiple games rather than individual matches.  She has greatly improved anti-aircraft firepower and she’s more stealthy.  However, she has very poor gun fire angles, horrible agility and no appreciable gains in defense all while being up-tiered to tier VII.

The final difference is cost.  Arizona will set you back the equivalent of 6,900 doubloons.  California will cost you around 10,000 for a worse experience, tier for tier.

It’s worth being said:  Arizona over-performs at her tier.  She is a powerful tier VI battleship, so you might think my comparison unfair.  California isn’t broken, she’s just not over-tuned the way Arizona is.  And that’s fair to say.  However, for a consumer looking for the best bang for their buck, why buy California when Arizona is available?  If you had to choose one, Arizona is the better purchase, hands down.

What’s more, California does not offer anything novel in the way of game play short of having better AA firepower.  Are you really inclined to pay to play Arizona with worse matchmaking for the simple sake of being slightly less victimized by aircraft?  Arizona is “long ranged” for a tier VI battleship once you install Gun Fire Control System Modification 1, so you largely duplicate California’s schtick there too.  California plays like Arizona but she plays less comfortably owing to her worse fire arcs and even more sluggish handling.

I’m left to wonder what the point of California’s design implementation as is.  Rather than look for something new or novel, Wargaming played it safe.  This might have worked had Arizona not been on offer — California would have been more rightly compared to New Mexico and her strengths would seem obvious.  “Ooh, 1.9 sigma with twelve guns?  That’s MUCH better than 1.5 sigma on New Mexico!”  But again, Arizona is a thing.  We already got that game play and at a better price and matchmaking.   Hell, if you’re a fan of PVE you get an even better deal with most scenarios now being limited to tier VI these days.

With Arizona existing, Wargaming should have either retired the Pearl Harbor monument or dredged up something from their box o’ gimmicks for California to compensate.  California is a ship without game play identity.  She is to Arizona what Alabama is to Massachusetts & North Carolina– entirely forgettable and an unfortunate waste of money for worse game play.

California is a beautiful port queen that doesn’t live up to her fantastic history.  It’s such a bloody shame.

This screenshot makes me sad. Once upon a time, seeing a ship with this much AA would have made me very excited. Now it’s just a reminder of how much potential is wasted in the current meta.

Final Evaluation

Let’s pretend Arizona doesn’t exist.  Is California worth it?

No.  No, she isn’t.  I love my standards — I love them to death.  But playing a standard-type battleship at tier VII or above needs to come with some pretty juicy perks or I’m not biting.  The issue is their inflexibility.  Once you start stacking on any other flaws and they just become unpalatable — and California’s gun handling and reload are some pretty wonky flaws, especially when paired with her slow speed.

And she gains naught for these handicaps.

The perks they gave her to compensate, namely good AA, nice range, good concealment and more accurate guns, don’t cut the mustard for me.  This is largely owing to what should be her main selling feature being laughable.  Phenomenal AA power is watered down more heavily than American Lite Beer.  Like American Lite Beer, the CV rework has a lot to answer for.  It should be hella tasty and refreshing.  Instead, it’s so much thinned out swill with a rancid aftertaste, leaving you to wonder what could have been.

California isn’t fun to play and that’s her greatest crime.  If she can’t be powerful, she needs to be interesting and she fails at that utterly.  I’ll play a shoddy ship back to back for hundreds of games provided she’s fun (I’ve done it too — I loved Atlanta before Surveillance Radar was a thing).  I don’t want to touch California.  I’m constantly fighting with her rudder or her guns and she has nothing I value to compensate for it.  Hard pass, ladies and gentlemen.  California is a hard pass.

Conclusion

I was going to take a break after Siegfried and Agir’s review was published.  However, California’s an important release and, more pressingly, I don’t feel she’s a good ship.  Had she been strong, I think I could have just sat aside and let people discover that for themselves.  But seeing how she was being released reminded me of why I write these reviews in the first place:  To protect other players from making bad purchases.  Wargaming burned me once too often in World of Tanks.  If I can help others avoid that, I will.

Now that said, with this high-profile release covered and my feels (hopefully) clearly broadcast, I’m taking some much needed time off.

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