- Thick, 27mm bow which prevents AP shell overmatching of 381mm guns and smaller.
- Repair Party consumable heals up to 23,856hp per charge (!) with four charges.
- Citadel is HE proof with a belt of 152mm.
- Ridiculously fast rate of fire for 203mm guns with a 5.5 second reload.
- Improved auto-ricochet angles on her AP shells.
- 203mm HE shells allow her to easily stack damage against all targets without the requirement of a deep skill build.
- One of the best fire starters in the game.
- Good anti-aircraft firepower.
- Small hit point pool for a tier X cruiser at 49,700hp.
- Citadel sits well over the waterline.
- Horrible torpedo defense.
- Very short ranged for a tier X cruiser with a stock reach of 15.8km and no Spotter Aircraft consumable.
- Low shell velocity on her main battery which makes her shells ‘float’ over long distances.
- Sluggish gun handling with a 6.0º/s turret rotation speed.
- Surveillance Radar consumable is the Atlanta version — short ranged (8.5km) and short lasting (25s).
- The ship has no significant economic bonuses beyond a reduced repair cost. She earns less experience than a tier X ship with premium camouflage and playing her regularly may end up costing a player credits, making regular play unsustainable. (!)
Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult
Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / Extreme
– Has a significant advantage over her tier mates. A solid, competitive performer.
– No other ship at its tier does this as well as this ship.
She has no access to any kind of aircraft. Rather than choosing between Defensive AA Fire and Hydroacoustic Search in her second slot, Defensive AA Fire is the only choice. Hydroacoustic Search instead competes with Surveillance Radar in her third slot. Salem therefore has the option of doing something Des Moines can’t — she can equip Defensive AA Fire and Hydroacoustic Search at the same time. It’s up to the individual player if they believe that hydro is more valuable than radar, however.
- Salem’s Surveillance Radar is a nerfed consumable. It has 8.5km range (instead of 9.9km) and it only lasts 25 seconds (instead of 40 seconds). This is identical to that found on Atlanta at tier VII.
- In exchange, all of the suck from her nerfed radar consumable was traded in for a god-tier Repair Party. This is almost identical to that found on high-tier British cruisers and heals back up to 2% of her health every second for 20 seconds — or 19,880hp. She starts with two charges base. With the India Delta signal, this can be boosted up to 23,856hp per charge. She queues up 50% of penetration damage but only 33% of citadel damage (instead of 50% like British cruisers). This has the standard 120s / 80s reset timer of a normal consumable.
- Are you going to play an AA ship? If you are, then take the special upgrade, Defensive Fire Modification 1 (2nd slot), AA Guns Modification 2 (3rd slot) and AA Guns Modification 3 (6th slot) to maximize your AA power. If you don’t want to go quite so heavy handed, pick and choose among these for a softer AA build. AA Guns Modification 2 (3rd slot) arguably provides the most benefit for what’s sacrificed to take it.
- Now you need to choose how to emphasize your main battery. Do you want to go for range or DPM? For range, take Gun Fire Control System Modification 2 (6th slot) and look towards taking Aiming System Modification 1 (3rd slot) to help tighten up dispersion at these distances. Otherwise, Main Battery Modification 3 (6th slot) should be considered optimal to increase her rate of fire.
- How good are you at hiding behind islands? Propulsion Modification 2 (4th slot) and Concealment Modification 1 (5th slot) can help with this, with the former allowing you to back away more quickly if you get spotted and the latter helps keep you hidden. If you prefer a more active, open water play style then Steering Gears Modification 2 (4th slot) and Steering Gears Modification 3 (5th slot) may be more attractive alternatives in some form of combination.
Salem comes with Type 10 Camouflage. This provides:
- 50% bonus experience gains
- 10% reduction to repair costs
- 3% reduced surface detection range
- 4% increased dispersion of incoming fire
Main Battery: Nine 203mm guns in 3×3 turrets in an A-B-X superfiring configuration.
The core strength of Salem’s armament comes from her reload time. Despite being a heavy cruiser, Salem boasts a rate of fire on her 203mm battery that’s the envy of many light cruisers. Each one of her weapons cycles in 5.5 seconds (which may be reduced down to 4.8 seconds with Main Battery Modification 3). Combined with her larger shell, she easily competes with her tier X light cruiser counterparts and outperforms all tier IX light cruisers in damage per minute (DPM) races. This is insane. But, it goes beyond raw damage potential.
There are a lot of odd ducks among the tier 10 cruisers as far as AP shell performance goes — everything from Hindenburg’s increased damage to Minotaur’s extra short fuse timers. Salem’s gimmick is that she enjoys the improved auto-ricochet angles of other US cruisers. A check for ricochet doesn’t occur until it strikes a plate angled 60º to the perpendicular instead of 45º, leading to a lot more hits dealing damage against targets when positioning isn’t optimal. Her shells are much more forgiving despite having only modest penetration values. Still, Salem is fully capable of landing citadel hits against most other cruisers up to her maximum range provided she catches them broadside. Her AP shells can be devastating even to battleships as they cycle so quickly and stack damage so fast that even their enormous hit point pools quickly evaporate.
Salem has good (but not amazing) gun arcs. You can use your X-turret to help you angle against incoming AP fire that’s 381mm or smaller. If you can fire your X turret at the gun mounts of what’s shooting you, you’re at risk for taking significant damage. Note this won’t save you from having your bow overmatched by larger caliber guns or from guns with improved autobounce characteristics.
- Amazing DPM potential with AP & HE both.
- Can kill almost anything in short order at point blank ranges.
- Make good use of islands to hide yourself so you can cycle your guns without interruption.
What it would have needed to be : The literal arms race for best Firepower at tier X makes evaluating which one is difficult with each ship going about it differently. To be clear, Salem (and Des Moines) has some of the artillery at her tier but her lack of torpedoes and the issues of range hurts. Still, given the way that Stalingrad is shaping up, I would be a fool to ignore her influence in this evaluation and this is why Salem (and Des Moines) loses out on the top spot.
Hit Points: 49,700hp
Maximum Citadel Protection:
- 27mm bow + 127mm transverse bulkhead (bow on)
- 152mm belt (broadside)
Minimum Extremities & Deck Armour: 27mm thickening to 30mm on her maindeck.
Torpedo Damage Reduction: 7% (ew!)
This chart ranks the tier X cruisers (including Stalingrad while she’s a Work in Progress) by their potential hit point value. The value in red (left) is their base hit points. The blue bar is the absolute maximum amount of healing they can receive from their Repair Party consumable if it was optimized with 4 charges and using the Superintendent commander skill. It’s exceedingly unlikely that this amount healed will ever be actualized in game. Cruisers take citadel hits far too regularly which can often delete them outright without giving any opportunity to recover. However, if you can protect your citadel, Salem can be THE toughest cruiser in the game by sheer damage potential.
What it would have needed to be : A further tweak of her Repair Party, allowing her to queue up to 50% of citadel damage in the same manner as a Minotaur would have been welcome. This would let her maximize the output of her consumable.
Top Speed: 33.0kts
Turning Radius: 770m
Rudder Shift Time: 8.6s
Maximum Rate of Turn: 5.3º/s
What it would have needed to be : It’s not going to happen. Salem is a stereotypical American (Heavy Cruiser) — fat and difficult to sway.
AA Battery Calibers: 127mm / 76.2mm
AA Umbrella Ranges: 5.0km / 5.0km
AA DPS per Mount Type: 90.6 / 334.8
Salem to CVs: No Fly Zone.
- Salem’s AA power lacks range.
This seems silly to say when all of Salem’s AA guns reach out to 5.0km. While her guns do provide a solid wall of her maximum firepower when they stray into range, a 5.0km reach is no longer the gold-standard of AA defense at tier X. Ships like Stalingrad can project their large caliber auras out to 5.7km stock. Minotaur and Worcester can extend their reach out to 6.0km stock. The Des Moines-class of cruisers is lacking in this regard.
Keep in mind, though, ships only spot aircraft from a range of 8km…
- Salem’s AA power lacks DPS.
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Salem doesn’t have good AA firepower? Seriously?
No, not seriously. It’s only in a direct comparison with her peers that she’s found wanting and all of these contenders are frankly quite broken when it comes to how much punishment they can dish out to an unwary aircraft carrier. She’s fourth place overall (out of nine ships) at tier X for raw AA damage per second (DPS), outclassed by Worcester, Minotaur and Des Moines in first, second and third place respectively.
This is a nit-pick, not a flaw.
- Salem’s AA firepower is concentrated in vulnerable medium-caliber mounts.
This is nothing new but it is worth keeping in mind. Like many ships before her, Salem’s AA firepower is largely concentrated in her soft and squishy (and likely to die the moment an HE shell bursts anywhere near them) 76.2mm gun mounts. It doesn’t take very much damage to absolutely gut her AA firepower and neuter her defense.
- Salem cannot ambush aircraft.
Salem’s aerial detection gets no better than 7.8km. She’s always spotted before aircraft slip into her AA bubble. Worcester and Minotaur both can keep themselves hidden from aircraft by disabling their AA fire and then only activate it when planes stray well within the reach of their guns, decimating the squadrons before the CV player can react.
- Minotaur does not have access to Defensive AA Fire.
As excellent as Minotaur’s AA defense is, she does not have the potential show-stopping killing power that Salem does with her consumable active. Minotaur is superior, without argument, to the Des Moines-class sisters when their Defensive AA Fire consumable isn’t active. However, we would be remiss to ignore this advantage they possess.
- Worcester’s dependence on IFHE makes taking a full AA build difficult.
Optimizing an AA build is expensive, requiring sinking points into Basic Fire Training, Advanced Fire Training and Manual Fire Control for AA Guns to top the charts. It takes a 14pt build to unlock that much. Worcester’s 152mm guns are heavily dependent on the 4pt commander skill Inertial Fuse for HE Shells to maximize their damage output. Worcester players must choose between a full AA specialized build or taking Concealment Expert — a helpful and potentially life-saving skill. The end result is that it’s easier for Salem and Des Moines to deeply specialize into AA firepower than it is for this top competitor.
What it would have needed to be : Salem needs more range to take the top spot. Even then, Des Moines with her 20mm Oerlikons, will always have more AA firepower than Salem, so she’s going to have murder her sister too.
Detection Range when Firing from Smoke: 8.18km
What it would have needed to be : Salem is a long way off here. Even buffing her radar up to Des Moines levels still wouldn’t move the needle. She’d need a combination of consumable and surface detection buffs to begin to compete with Minotaur and Worcester.
There are lots (and lots) of possible skill builds for Salem. Above is just one of many examples. There are a few skills that should be considered “must haves”, namely Superintendent to give her an extra charge of her Repair Party and Concealment Expert to make hiding easier. From there, build as you please. Note that the above build has a little bit of everything, specializing in nothing. Advanced Fire Training will combine well with the AA Guns Modification 2 upgrade to give her a 7.2km anti-aircraft aura. The lack of other AA skills denotes a reliance on Defensive Fire to keep planes away.
- I honestly feel she’s just an ever-so-slightly crappier version of Des Moines.
- Don’t get me wrong, her Repair Party has the potential to be super awesome, but I found myself in more games lamenting the lack of her Surveillance Radar range than rejoicing over being able to out-heal fire damage.
- What really turns me away from this ship is her economy. Is this the start of a new trend of Reward-Ships? Nelson, Musashi and Missouri are looking a lot more attractive all of the sudden…
Salem just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and the incentives to acquire her feel contrived unless you’re a free-to-play player. Then, and only then does Salem begin to look appealing. Like tech tree ships, she’s still a tier X that will surprise butt-sex your in-game wallet. Salem will just do it a little more gently. For a player without money to spend, this has its appeal. It’s a chance for Des Moines game play at a discount. It’s a chance for another free ship. Just beware that owning (or even contemplating owning) Salem may grease the wheels to make you want to throw money at those 5,000 doubloon tier X camouflage patterns.
Those who like Des Moines may also enjoy the variety Salem offers, subtle though it is. At her core, she’s a tougher and more selfish versions of Des Moines, sacrificing utility of her longer ranged radar for mutant healing powers and the ability to take Hydroacoustic Search and Defensive Fire at the same time. Salem really becomes more interesting in a division composition but I’m still not convinced that Des Moines isn’t a better choice overall.
- PVE Battles
How well does the ship maintain profitability in Co-Op modes and how does she fare against bots?
No. Salem doesn’t offer anything for Co-Op that Des Moines doesn’t already. Bots don’t care if you hump islands, they’ll come at you too aggressively for that strategy to work so you end up having to open water brawl which isn’t Salem’s strong point. The shorter game play time of Co-Op matches mitigates the advantage of her Repair Party too.
- Random Battle Grinding:
This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements.
No, with a but. Salem’s economic bonuses are crap, frankly. Even as a commander trainer, she’s kinda lackluster. That would be about the only reason I could see to validate acquiring her — for someone that absolutely loves Des Moines game play and wishes they had a premium version of her they could use to train other commanders. But even then, her 50% XP bonus is pretty lackluster.
At least you have a better chance of farming Dreadnought medals in her.
- For Competitive Gaming:
Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding.
No. While on paper her mega-Repair Party looks amazing it was rare that I got to take full advantage of it in game. You pay for this with crappy radar. Don’t get me wrong, she’s still a Des Moines and she can still kick butt, but you’d be better with going with the lead of her class in this category.
- For Collectors:
If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you.
Yes. I’ll admit a bit of bias here — I had a lot of fun with the Salem Witch and this brings back a lot of fond memories for me. I’ve prodded Wargaming to make her October 2015 camo available. Here’s hoping.
- For Fun Factor:
Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play?
Yes. Des Moines game play is a lot of fun and Salem ticks this box as well.
- What’s the Final Verdict?
How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage – Meh – Gud – Overpowered?
GARBAGE – The boat is unbalanced, not fun to play and weak. The ship desperately needs some buffs or some quality of life changes.
Mehbote – An average ship. Has strengths and weaknesses. Doesn’t need buffs to be viable however she’s not going to be considered optimal.
Gudbote – A powerful ship, often one of the best ships at a given role within its tier. Usually considered optimal for a given task.
OVERPOWERED – The boat is unbalanced and powerful. Typically she’s either horrible to play against or she redefines the meta entirely.
My next review will be USS Massachusetts, the tier VIII American battleship. I should have it ready before June 25th. Thank you very much for reading. If you enjoy my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon.
- Ship Comrade – http://shipcomrade.com/
- World of Warships North American Forums – https://forum.worldofwarships.com/
- World of Warships European Forums – https://forum.worldofwarships.eu/
- World of Warships Wiki – http://wiki.wargaming.net/en/World_of_Warships
- World of Warships Reddit – https://www.reddit.com/r/WorldOfWarships/
- iChase’s YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/ichasegaming
- Farazeth’s YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/farazelleth
- Vehicles from Video Games – https://gamemodels3d.com/
- ProShips – http://proships.ru/news/
- SEA Group – https://sea-group.org/
- The Armored Patrol – https://thearmoredpatrol.com/
- World of Warships AP Penetration Calculator – https://mustanghx.github.io/ship_ap_calculator/
- Chobittsu Studios, Mouse & Lert artwork – https://chobittsu-studios.deviantart.com/
- Kantai Collection, fan works and official artwork – http://www.dmm.com/netgame_s/kancolle/
- Chaofanatic’s YouTube Channel, for speedlines – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7cs11HaqEA
- Victory Belles, https://victorybelles.tumblr.com/
- Azur Lane, http://www.azurlane.jp/
- T Imgur URL To – https://imgur.com/
- Pixlr for picture editing – https://pixlr.com/
- Ezgif for animation – https://ezgif.com/
- Gif Maker for well… duh … making gifs. http://gifmaker.org/
- National Center for Educational Statistics for graph making – https://nces.ed.gov/
- Google Docs for spreadsheets and data archiving – https://www.google.ca/docs/about/
- World of Warships (duh)
- Notepad (seriously)
- MS Paint (also, seriously)
- iPhone Stopwatch App (yep)
- Puzzle Piece (e the second)
Hardware: Mouse toils away on an old i7-2600K 3.40GHz computer with 16GB RAM and an Nvidia 560Ti GPU running a 64bit OS.