Players first arriving into Ranks 5+ may be in for a bit of a rude shock. The meta of Ranked Battles doesn’t shift so much as crank up to eleven. Deviating from this play style, short of the miracles of a disarrayed enemy team, is a recipe for disaster. In my opinion, it illustrates quite clearly everything unfortunate about Ranked Battles this season and it is exemplified with two-cap Domination maps. Players unaware of this meta, or unappreciative of the consequences of this meta are often derided as being a burden upon their team. Ship choices that do not play to this meta are equally demonized.
From the onset, all of the team’s destroyers will rush their cap. On some maps, like Islands of Fire, Fault Line and New Dawn, the caps are already pre-determined with each team having an accepted cap they will take without a shot of contest. On others like North or Atlantic, there’s still a bit of scrapping that occurs over which team will settle for which cap circle. Neither team wants to lose any ships (or even sacrifice any hit points) over these initial caps which is why there’s this strange acceptance to let each take their own base without too much fuss. Taking these caps quickly is important and you’ll often hear derision if a cap isn’t secured faster than the enemy team. And this is with good reason. If all goes to plan, no one will die.
Yep, you heard me.
It’s not like the teams aren’t trying to kill each other — far from it. They’re just not willing to risk their own ships in order to do so. You’ll see cruisers and battleships huddled quite close together, often with the shelter of a land mass close at hand, perpetually hiding under a blanket of smoke provided by friendly destroyers. This is usually within spitting distance of their caps but far enough back to mitigate hail-mary torpedo strikes. Properly laid, these capital ships are immersed in these fog banks. The idea is to give the enemy nothing to shoot at — not a single target. Meanwhile, between spotter aircraft launched from catapults and the destroyers roaming 4-5km ahead, they attempt to catch sight of an enemy capital ship not so properly concealed.
If smoke is properly managed, your team’s battleships and cruisers are never lit and never in real danger. If a ship strays from the smoke or if destroyers fail to manage laying it at correct intervals, this will open up windows where your ships are vulnerable and fire pours in. Properly angled and with lots of time in between these sightings, most Battleships can mitigate much of the damage. Cruisers are less likely to survive and are advised to make good use of hugging close to island terrain as smoke wears off. The engagement ranges are usually around 14km to 15km, so the chances for devastating strikes from a single broadside are low.
While this is all going on, the destroyers are expected to keep the perimeter secure so that no enemy DDs can get angle and range to the smoke bank to launch torpedoes or provide spots. Letting an enemy DD get behind your team spells disaster — often not because of the direct damage they do but from the added stress needed to make sure that your battleships are properly covered in smoke from all avenues of approach.
Casualties, when they occur, are invariably from one of two sources — both preventable.
- A capital ship loses concealment and isn’t in a defensible position.
- A destroyer gets picked off.
The kill counts on these games is usually quite low, with often equal tallies reaped on each side. The difference then comes down to who has the lead on cap points. And this is where capping early is so very key. A single tick advantage on cap points can (and will) spell the difference on who will win. This means capping second requires this team to score a kill to win. The pressure is on them. But they not only need to secure a kill, but prevent any casualties of their own. Often you’ll see a small raid made by their destroyers to light one of their opposite number . A frenzied lashing at whatever gets lit follows. Hopefully they secure a kill (or at least a large amount of damage without taking any in return) and retreat back because those BBs are going to need smoke again.
So in summary, it’s two teams camping with destroyers being asked to not only provide vision but ALSO keep close enough that they can immediately flex back and provide smoke when it’s their turn. It’s about as much fun as going to the dentist. It’s a very high-stress, long-wait style of game play. It’s long periods of nothing much happening followed by brief moments of opportunity that if not capitalized correctly will spell the difference between a win or loss. There is nothing dynamic about this style of play and I hate it with every fiber of my being.
I can’t wait to be done.