Premium Ship Review Mikasa

The Imperial Japanese Navy Pre-Dreadnought Battleship
 Quick Summary:  A tough low tier Battleship with awful guns, great (but too short ranged) secondaries and very slow speed.
  • Great durability with 31,200hp — almost as much as the South Carolina at tier 3.
  • Quite serviceable armour, great for angling.
  • Good HE shells with 5100 alpha strike and 29% fire chance.
  • Very heavy secondary armament, all loading HE with a fearsome rate of fire.
  • Decent rudder shift of 10.2s and small turning circle of 450m making her rather agile.
  • Special Matchmaking:  As the only tier 2 Battleship, she sees a maximum of tier 3 opponents.
  • Looks damn sexy.
  • Very short ranged at 9.5km.
  • Poor AP shell performance.
  • Guns are inaccurate with a low shell velocity.
  • Horrible gun arcs.
  • Secondaries are limited by their poor range
  • Slow with a top speed of 18.0 knots.
  • Potentially longer wait times in Random Battle queue due to small Matchmaking pool.
Arguably the nicest premium paint scheme in the game.
On some servers, the Mikasa is very hard to get a hold of.  In North America, she was only made available once, and then only as a participation prize for entering a Christmas Ornament contest in December of 2015.  Her reputation as not only a rare ship, but a significantly important historical vessel makes her highly prized by collectors.  However, this appeal is counterbalanced with what amounts to poor game-play, which may explain (in part) some of the reluctance to make her available for sale.
Primary Armament
The Mikasa is limited to a pair of turrets, each with two 305mm guns — one turret forward and one aft.  This is a very light primary armament, hurt more by a long reload for so few guns.  The Mikasa has the same 30s wait between volleys as tends to be expected from Dreadnoughts, but with such a small compliment of large caliber artillery, she really struggles to match any ship she encounters for damage.  These guns have very poor traverse angles, being limited to just over 180′ each, requiring the Mikasa to turn full broadside in order to fire all four guns.
 The one ray of sunshine is that her high explosive shells are very good for her tier.  With 5100 damage per shell and a 29% fire chance, hits from these shells can be quite brutal to the small hit point totals of low tier ships.  These are the same shells you will have experience with on the Kawachi. Sadly, they are not backed with appreciable AP shells.  These only do 7700 alpha damage and are hurt by a low muzzle velocity of 732m/s — a full 100m/s slower than the 305mm guns off the Ishizuchi and 140m/s slower than the Kawachi.  This leads to some rather high shell arcs when firing at anything over 5km distant, further reducing the penetration performance of these guns.  Very often you’ll find yourself tempted to just keep HE loaded and hope for fires rather than try for AP Citadel hits against the soft skinned vessels you so frequently face at tier 1 through 3.  This would be a mistake, however, and it’s important to rotate ammunition choices as opportunities present themselves for maximum results.
 With only a 9.5km range, you will often see the full effect of the 142m dispersion.  The lack of accuracy on the Mikasa’s guns is downright punitive, being on par with that found on the Kawachi.  However, the tier 3 IJN Battleship at least can broadside with eight guns to the Mikasa’s four — if she can even get four on target.  Even a slight bit of angling reduces her firepower by half to a mere two guns.
 In short, the Mikasa’s main battery is too small, too short ranged, too risky to bring to bear, too inaccurate and her shells don’t hit hard enough.
Living the dream.  Enemies at close range on either side with her secondary batteries cycling so fast as to leave opaque palls of smoke.
Secondary Armament
Here, the Mikasa shines.  Or she would if she only had a little more range.
 She has fourteen 152mm casemate mounted rifles, with seven to each side.  Rare for IJN Battleships, these fire a High Explosive shell with 3000 alpha strike and a 10% chance of starting a fire per shell.  These are backed by another eighteen 76mm guns mounted between turrets and casemates scattered across the ship.  These have a much more modest hitting power of 1300 damage and 5% chance of starting a fire.  With reload times of 10s and 4s respectively, the firestorm that the Mikasa can dish out is murderous and can quickly overwhelm any ships that stray into range.
And range is the kicker.  These only begin to target enemies that slip within 3.0km of the Mikasa.  The Advanced Fire Training captain skill can nudge this distance up to 3.6km but it’s still painfully short ranged for what can often amount to a much needed source of damage for this Battleship.  At the extremes of her reach, these are little more than celebratory fireworks, preemptively congratulating enemy destroyers on their point blank torpedo run.  It’s only up close — dangerously close, that these secondaries really begin going to work without the whims of RNG hampering their performance.
And when that happens, it’s a thing of glory.  It’s often been joked that active gunnery isn’t a required skill to do well in the Mikasa — you need only sail her into position and let her secondaries do the work.  They’re not quite that good, but maybe compared to their primary guns they seem to be.
This is a case of good news and bad.  First of all, her turret rotation is average.  Her primary batteries rotate at a rate of 4.5’/s or 40s to complete a 180′ turn.  With Expert Marksman, you can get this 180′ rotation speed down to a very respectable 34.6s.  But where the Mikasa really stands out is her combination of good rudder shift time and tight turning circle.  Her rudder will shift hard over in 10.2s.  This is half a second faster than either the South Carolina or the Kawachi.  In addition, this is coupled with a phenomenally tight turning circle of 450m.
This would all be amazing if it weren’t for her slow top speed.  The Mikasa struggles to reach 18.0knots.  Any form of maneuvering can quickly see this speed drop to 13knots.  This means that though she has a very tight turning circle, she can’t complete a full turn with any form of urgency.  This can make trying to slip between the tracks of torpedoes frustrating — not from an inability to get moving towards the right heading, but due to the anemic power of her engines to complete what will end up being a very tight turn.
It’s a good thing the MIkasa looks so pretty. She doesn’t get anywhere fast so you get to spend a lot of time looking at her.
Durability and Defense
The Mikasa has no anti-aircraft power, but she doesn’t need any.  She will never see an enemy aircraft carrier in her current Matchmaking spread.
As you can expect, the Mikasa will be seen long before she spots same tier ships, what with being the only Battleship.  With her premium camouflage, she is spotted from a distance of 11.2km — long before she’s in range.  There’s not much you can do about this.
With 31,200hp, the Mikasa is incredibly tough for her tier through the ability to absorb raw punishment alone.  This is a mere 500hp less than the South Carolina at tier 3.  As if this weren’t enough, her armour values are also impressive.  Unlike some of the low tier USN Battleships, her deck is reasonably well armoured and can prove to be proof against some low caliber high explosive shells.  When angled, she can shrug off the 152mm AP shells that predominate tier 2 and 3 engagements.
While her armour is thick, her main battery works contrary towards maximizing its value.  To fire both guns, the Mikasa has to swing broadside onto her target.  This holds true for also ensuring the largest volume of secondary battery fire against opponents.  In so doing, though, she loses out on any advantages towards angling her hull and it makes her more vulnerable to return fire.  This will often prompt the choice between maximizing durability or offensive power.
The Mikasa has the standard Battleship kit of a Damage Control Party on a 120s reset timer (80s with premium) and a 10s active time like other Japanese Battleships.  This makes her dangerously vulnerable to fire critical hits.  Sadly, in low tier games, there’s a predominance of high explosive spam from all vessels and this can often neutralize the armour advantages of the Mikasa.  When this happens, it’s imperative to maximize the efficiency of her Damage Control Party and use her Repair Party to pick up the slack.
 Overall Impressions
I understand some of Wargaming’s reluctance to sell the Mikasa.  She’s not a good ship.
It’s a unique form of torture being forced to fire the main battery of the Mikasa.  Though her dispersion isn’t great, the randomness of the trajectory of each shell is emphasized and punctuated by just how precious each shot becomes when you have so few to fire.  Where you might not notice or downplay the same wonky dispersion coming from a Kongo, Fuso or Ishizuchi, from the Mikasa it feels downright punitive.  Seeing the shells fired from the same turret taking vastly different trajectories is just painful when all of your damage potentially rides on the performance of as little as two guns for most of the game.
Her durability and secondaries sort of make up for any deficiencies in her main batteries.  It’s very satisfying to see her secondary guns blaze off each side of the ship.  It’s even more satisfying to see the last nail in the coffin hammered home by one of your 152mm or 76mm rifles and the resulting Close Quarters Expert badge you receive.  Similarly, when you’re top tier, there’s something very magical about being the only ship that can heal back damage.  Play the waiting game properly and you can easily print some Dreadnought medals too.  And given the firestorm of high explosive rounds that will invariably rain on your decks, you might just nab yourself a Fireproof award to complete the set.
 In this manner, playing the Mikasa is totally worth the frustration.  While other premiums print currency or provide bonus XP for training your Captain, the Mikasa facilitates the restocking of signal flags.  And for this I had to give a solid nod of approval. Still, the Mikasa wouldn’t be a Battleship that I played for fun.  Her secondaries are too short ranged.  Her main batteries are too few.  And lastly she’s just too slow to facilitate using either of these.
Before the storm. The Mikasa caught in a pleasant rain squall before the calamity of close range combat.
Would I Recommend:
 No, I wouldn’t.  Not from a game play perspective.
For a collector?  Sure.  And there’s all sorts of reasons to want to collect the Mikasa.  And for someone who wants to hoover up signal flags to boost their secondaries, repair party and put out fires more quickly, she’s good for that.  But I would not recommend her based on someone looking for a competitive ship that will perform well.
On Module Upgrades:
 The Mikasa only has a single upgrade slot.  This is one of the rare times where I will recommend avoiding Main Battery Modification 1.  Get Secondary Battery Modification 1 instead to help keep your secondaries alive.  Those pew pews do work.
On Consumables:
 The Mikasa has both the standard IJN Damage Control Party and a Repair Party.  Upgrading either one of these up to the premium version will pay off huge if you’re trying to farm signal flags (especially if you grab Repair Party II).  However, keep in mind you will not be doing very much damage in low tier games and recouping the cost for equipping premium consumables will be difficult.
 On Captain Skills:
Boost your secondaries!  I would say it’s a matter of life and death but it’s still not likely to keep you alive when you get down to it.  But it will make playing the Mikasa almost enjoyable and it sure looks pretty.
  • Your first skill should be Basic Fire Training.  This will increase the rate of fire of your 152mm and your 76mm secondary batteries.
  • At tier 2, the jury’s out.  Fire Prevention would probably be best if it weren’t so terrible.  So just go for Expert Marksman instead and get your turret rotation down to 34.6s.
  • At tier 3, Superintendent is arguably your best choice.  Though Vigilance and High Alert are not bad purchases either.
  • At tier 4, Advanced Fire Training is a must.  This will boost your secondaries from a mere 3.0km to an almost functional 3.6km.

After this I would simply select more low tier skills.  You’re unlikely to have a dedicated Mikasa Captain anyway, but if you do go this route, skills like Situational Awareness and Basics of Survivability would be good choices along with grabbing one of the other tier 3 skills I mentioned.

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