Yesterday, I talked about the four ways of winning in Ranked Battles. As a quick recap, they are:
- Sink the entire enemy fleet before time runs out.
- Allow your team’s points to reach 1000pts before time runs out.
- Reduce the enemy’s points to 0pts or less before time runs out.
- Have the highest point total when time runs out.
I personally don’t feel that these four objectives overlap perfectly well. Let’s be honest, each battle is dynamic and the conditions for an easy victory can change moment to moment. Blindly pursuing a single one of these objectives is a recipe for disaster. However not going into a game with a plan is also not doing yourself any favours. You need to keep these four objectives in mind and flex to whichever one will most likely ensure your victory.
And this is where risk assessment becomes interesting. Have you every sat back and analyzed what actions we take in Rank Battles and how they contribute to each one of these victory conditions? Like, a Destroyer rush to one of the caps seems like a really bad idea when you’re trying to win by sinking the entire enemy fleet — especially if you don’t have your own gunships in position to provide immediate support. It puts your DDs right up on the firing line, almost guaranteed to get spotted and negates their stealth advantage entirely. Yet it’s quite often a necessary risk to ensure that caps get secured and/or contested right from the word go.
And this is what we’re going to discuss today. When is it worth while to risk losing your ship and why do our team mates keep throwing their own ships away stupidly?
One of the most dangerous and worthwhile risks in Ranked Battles comes from attempting to secure one of the cap points on a two-cap Domination map. Here, both team have thrown their entire force at A cap. The Green team would lose two cruisers but successfully secure the zone, killing one destroyer in exchange. The Red team diverted one destroyer and captured B a moment later, making this trade off decidedly uneven in the Red team’s favour. But then one Red destroyer threw away their team’s advantage by immediately trying to retake A, getting his ship shot out from underneath him. This put the Green team back on even footing, negating the early advantage his team had fought for.
The elements that compose your team can largely dictate what victory conditions are easiest for you to accomplish.
There’s a whole conversation to be had on which ships are best suited for Ranked Battles. But let’s take a look at just two ships for one moment: The IJN Hatsuharu and the USN Mahan. The Hatsuharu is a torpedo boat with good stealth, reasonable agility and excellent torpedoes. Her guns are terrible. The Mahan is a gunship, with poor stealth (for a destroyer), poor agility (for a destroyer), great guns (again, for a destroyer) and decent torpedoes. The last thing a Hatsuharu wants to go up against is a gunship destroyer in a knife fight.
Yet both the Mahan and Hatsuharu are often pressed into one of the most dangerous roles in Ranked Battles: Attempting the initial cap in two-cap Domination maps. Racing ahead of the enemy fleet, destroyers try and secure a base before the enemy can take it. All too often, when both teams pick the same initial cap to secure, destroyers are usually the first casualties. They’re blasted apart either by their counterpart or by the supporting fire from the cruisers and battleships coming up behind. All things being equal, the Mahan is better than the Hatsuharu in this role, having the guns to drive off its counterpart and enough agility to usually dodge the torpedo counterstroke.
In this analysis, it would seem that the Mahan is the better destroyer for Ranked Battles (and maybe it is), but the Hatsuharu has other strengths beyond attempting suicide rushes. She can put out a heavy volume of torpedoes in a very short time. The Hatsuharu, like Battleships in Ranked Battles, is better suited for putting out large amounts of damage to cruisers and battleships than tangling with other destroyers. She can cap, but she’s better suited to doing this in the later stages of a match when the enemy DDs have been thinned out or driven away.
So when you’re in a Hatsuharu, is it really worth risking your ship on the initial cap where your biggest chance of success comes from hoping the enemy team doesn’t go to the same circle you chose? Wouldn’t it be better to be just a little slower — maybe support your own gunships from the second line until you see where the Reds are. Then you can start setting up your own attack runs or securing a base. This is much preferable than seeing your ship sunk and giving the enemy team a 100pt advantage in the opening minutes of a game. Better to be late to the cap party than dead.
Like it or not, some ships just aren’t well suited to trying to cap bases. Battleships are terrible at it. Not only are they usually slow, they’re exceedingly easy targets to hit for all manner of weaponry. Short of being out of range, it’s painfully easy to reset a cap attempt being made by a Battleship that’s not properly screened. A Battleship would much rather try and blast and sink enemy ships. You can’t rely on them for directly winning a game by securing cap-circles where they are usually limited to a mere supporting role. A Battleship under fire that pushes a cap with the pretense of securing it is a fool and is just bleeding hit points.
These are just a couple of examples where some ships are better at winning by sinking the enemy fleet versus cap zone control. And understandably, they may try to play to those strengths rather than risk themselves in an endeavour to which they are ill suited even when it may be absolutely necessary to predicate an easy win.
Math of a Death
When a ship dies, the points swing by 100 in favour of the team that did the sinking (150pts in the case of a carrier). So a 300 to 300 score changes to a 340 to 240. This is a value every player should keep in mind while they’re playing Ranked Battles. Always ask yourself when you do something risky: “Is this worth the scores being changed 100pts in our opponent’s favour?”
Let’s take our Hatsuharu early-cap example above once again. Is trying to cap a base worth risking a 100pt deficit to the enemy team? We know from yesterday’s article that to two-cap Domination zones accumulate 54pts per minute and three-cap Domination zones accrue at 36pts per minute. This means that to make up a 100pt deficit, you need to maintain a one-cap advantage for almost 2 minutes to make up for the loss of your ship in a two-cap Domination and just under 3 minutes in three-cap Domination. So for it to be worth our Hatsuharu to stick their neck out and drive headlong into a knife fight over the initial cap, their actions have to not only guarantee the cap but guarantee that the enemy fleet doesn’t take the other cap for two whole minutes to make up for the risk of their dying.
It seems a lot more chancy when you look at it this way, doesn’t it?
Some might feel that the only time it’s acceptable then for a ship to die is if they’ve helped secure the equivalent victory points either through straight damage and kills or through cap zone control. This is a simplistic way of looking at it but it’s not a bad starting point. But there are other examples.
- Preventing the enemy team from successfully capping through delaying actions can easily be calculated as a point value. Contesting their cap without taking it denies the enemy team their victory points at a rate of 54pts per minute for a two-cap Domination map, or 36pts per minute on a three-cap Domination map.
- Locking down an enemy ship, preventing them from doing any appreciable damage can easily be viewed as being worth 100pts. It helps keep your team mates alive.
- Similarly, tanking damage in a Battleship, drawing fire away from damaged allies or providing smoke to cover a retreat is also worth as much as 100pts as an action.
- Killing a dangerous enemy is worth not only 100pts but also the value of any damage they may have been set up to cause. Nuking a torpedo-ship like a Hatsuharu can be viewed as not only the points from a kill but also the points saved from any torpedo casualties they may have caused among your capital ships AND sparing your team the headache of ninja caps of bases later on in the match. This is part of the reason Destroyer kills are so highly prized in Ranked Battles. The scores may only swap by 100pts, but functionally this can give your team a tremendous advantage not reflected initially in the scores.
And let’s talk about this last point for a moment longer. If you are in a high value ship, you cannot spend your ship lightly. If you’re the only destroyer on either team, you are worth far more than the 100pt swing for either team. However, if you can kill off the last Battleship on the enemy team and give your own gunships a tremendous firepower advantage by nuking that full health Nagato, maybe attempting a suicide-close torpedo strike might be worth while…
Here’s another familiar scenario from the same game. Green has managed to secure both caps and is now leading by over 400pts. The only way they can lose now would be to have both of their ships sunk. As destroyers, they are completely capable of remaining undetected and out of reach of this Nagato. With less than 150pts to go, the Green team will automatically win by capping in one minute, 23 seconds. So why would you risk continuing the attack, risking being spotted and getting obliterated at close range by salvos from the Nagato’s guns when you’ve already won? I wish I could tell you. This Blyskawica was spotted by the Nagato’s float plane and blown apart by a combination of secondary and primary gun batteries in short order.
Sudden Death vs Assured Win
I wish it went without saying, but you need to do whatever you can to guarantee a win. At the most basic, you need to preserve your ship while doing damage to the enemy. At the same time, you need to make sure that the Red team doesn’t gain a larger than 100pt advantage over your own through controlling caps.
Too often, though, players look to play for Sudden Death — an immediate win through eliminating the enemy team instead of riding what could be a significant advantage which will easily play out to either a 1000 victory point win or simply by having the highest point total when the timer runs out. They are risking their ship to try and push towards an immediate gain rather than appreciating that they’ve already won in the long run if they just sit back and let the game continue to unfold as it has been.
If you’re more than 100pts up over the enemy team and have secured an equal or greater number of cap circles, why risk your ship on pushing into the guns and torpedoes of the enemy? Short of a concerted effort from all of your team together, you’re only making it easy for the enemy to sink you. Your team holds all of the cards. The Reds must push if they don’t want to lose. Attacking makes ships vulnerable, particularly if their attack isn’t coordinated.
When a team is losing, all of the pressure is on them. Some players will inevitably feel the strain more than others and are likely to break ranks recklessly. Let them. Wait for those players to make the mistake of separating themselves from the pack and pick them off. Don’t do the Red team the favour of reciprocating with a needless suicide rush of your own. There’s no point to it. Your team gains very little, if anything at all, from being aggressive when they’re already winning.
Failure to recognize when the game is already won provided no one does anything stupid is a very important skill in Ranked Battles. Always ask yourself: “Are we winning?” and look at the four victory conditions. Then ask yourself do you need to do anything to win. It might be as simple as “stay alive”. Or, always ensure that you have one cap circle. In an end-game one vs one scenario, you don’t need to go head to head with a full health battleship in your cruiser if your team is leading on points. Avoid them. When they try and cap one point, don’t try resetting them, just go cap the other base.
Always play in a manner than guarantees and safe guards the advantages your team fought and died for. Ranked Battles are hard enough to win without teams throwing their victories away.
That’s it for today. Please join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at how the new star-preservation system plays contrary to helping you win your matches and punishes players who try and take risks to help their team.