ShipComrade

Premium Ship Review #100: HMS Thunderer

I want to thank Wargaming and all of my readers for their support over almost three years of writing these darned things.  I am very happy to present something a little different for my 100th Premium Ship Review.


Quick Summary:  A Conqueror-class battleship with eight 457mm rifles shoe-horned in at tier IX with horrible dispersion, only a single heal charge and a weird hydro.
Cost:  Unknown at time of publishing.  Presumably 750,000 free experience.
Patch & Date Written:  Test Server from May 14th through 18th, 2018.  Written from May 14th through 23rd, 2018.

PROS:

  • A large 83,200 hit point pool for a tier IX battleship, a fully submerged citadel and a thick armoured belt.
  • Her powerful AP and HE shells have the highest shell damage per hit in the game.
  • Ridiculous HE shells with a 63% fire chance per hit and 114mm of penetration.
  • Excellent forward firing arcs.
  • Powerful anti-aircraft armament.
  • Stealthy for a battleship with a surface detection range as low as 11.1km.
  • Has access to the Royal Navy battleship Repair Party with it’s zombie-regeneration ability.
  • Has access to a long-duration but short ranged Hydroacoustic Search.
  • Has access to the upgrade Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1.

 

CONS:

  • Terrible dispersion with 1.6 sigma. (!)
  • Short ranged for a tier IX battleship with a 19.7km reach and she cannot take any upgrades to increase it. (!)
  • Terrible secondaries for a brawling battleship.
  • Upper hull and deck is all 32mm, making her vulnerable to HE fire.
  • Anti-aircraft firepower is concentrated in medium-caliber guns which are shorter ranged and easily knocked out.
  • Large turning radius of 940m and only a modest top speed of 29.5 knots which hurts her rate of turn.
  • Easily spotted by aircraft with an aerial detection range of 15.7km.
  • Only has a single charge of Repair Party and Hydroacoustic Search.
Overview
What the heck is this ship and why haven’t you heard of it?
HMS Thunderer was the name of one of the planned Lion-class battleships that never came to fruition in World War 2. Like her sister ship, HMS Conqueror, the name was requisitioned. In World of Warships, Thunderer is a Conqueror-class battleship — specifically, a Conqueror restricted to the 457mm armament and downtiered. This ship addresses two needs.
  1. Conqueror with eight 457mm guns at tier X isn’t competitive compared to her twelve-gun 419mm armament. Conqueror is already a controversial ship at tier X so any buffs, even minor ones, are likely to stir up feelings of resentment from more veteran and competitive-minded members of the community. This may mean that the 457mm rifles from Conqueror will be removed in the future. Thunderer allows Wargaming to re-use assets.
  2. Wargaming has been moving towards adding more free-experience sinks in the game. HMS Thunderer, at tier IX, would be another such vessel along the same lines as Missouri, Musashi and Kronshtadt. It surprises me that they have elected to use another battleship for the tier IX Royal Navy ship (I would have gone with a destroyer) given that we already have a 375,000 free experience battleship in HMS Nelson. The cynic in me realizes that battleships will sell more than destroyers.

HMS Thunderer is in the earliest stages of testing. Be advised that most of the details found in this review come from theory-crafting and going up against bots. The impermanence of Thunderer’s statistics should be emphasis enough that everything you read here should be taken with a healthy dose of salt.

Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult
Skill Ceiling: 
Low / Moderate / High / Extreme
When compared to Lion and Conqueror, Thunderer appears to have the Royal Navy battleship training wheels removed.  Don’t let her poor sigma value and short-changed Repair Party fool you — novice players can still camp the back and dab that 2 key and hoover up some lamentably easy damage.  However, the closer you get to the enemy with Thunderer, the more her damage potential spikes.  She has an extensive toolkit for working in at close-range to the enemy team but it will take a daring (and skilled) player with an understanding of risk-assessment to pull it off.
Here’s how her components break down:
 
 – One of, if not the worst at its tier. This is a pronounced weakness.
 – Middle of the pack at its tier. Not terrible, but not terribly good either.
 – 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.
  • Despite their high potential DPM with both AP and HE shells at tier IX, Thunderer caps out at a  evaluation because of her poor sigma value which makes her dispersion trollish at times.
  • An 83,200hp battleship with thick belt, a submerged citadel and British mega-heals.  How could she not be the ?
  • Her agility is unremarkable.
  • Her AA power is almost   but it’s far too short ranged and far too fragile.
  • Missouri almost tops her when it comes to Vision Control, but Thunderer’s surface detection and Hydro consumable makes her the  at tier IX.
Options
Thunderer is a bit of an odd duck where her options are concerned.  She has less consumable charges than she should.  She has access to Hydroacoustic Search and an upgrade to buff it but she loses access to a range upgrade instead.
Consumables

While Thunderer’s Damage Control Party is standard for a Royal Navy battleship, her other two consumables are worth paying special attention to.  Note the limited number of charges on these two consumables makes taking premium versions and the commander skill Superintendent an absolute must.  This in turn affects her earning potential too.
  • She has a single charge of her Repair Party instead of two normally found on high tier British battleships.  She queues 60% of penetration damage and can heal up to 40% of her hit points (33,280hp) per use.  This has an increased 180s/120s reset timer like HMS Conqueror.
  • She has a single charge of her Hydroacoustic Search.  This is identical to the consumable tested on HMS Cossack.  It has a 2.79km torpedo detection range, 3.21km ship detection range and lasts 180 seconds with a 180s/120s reset timer.

Upgrades


Thunderer does not have access to Gun Fire Control System Modification 2 to increase her range, but she does get access to the Hydracoustic Search Modification 1.

  •  In your first slot, take Main Armaments Modification 1 as the optimal choice.  Alternatively, if you have access to it, you can swap this out for Damage Control System Modification 1 to increase the active time of your Damage Control Party from 15 seconds to 21 seconds.
  • In your second slot, take Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 if you have access to it.  This will increase the active period of your Hydroacoustic Search from 180 seconds (3 minutes) to 216 seconds (3 minutes, 36 seconds).  If you don’t, take Damage Control System Modification 1 to help mitigate fires and floods.
  • The only choice worthwhile in your third slot is Aiming System Modification 1.  Thunderer’s dispersion is awful and her AA guns are not worth upgrading due to their fragility.
  • Take Damage Control System Modification 2 in slot number 4.  If you prefer to wiggle, Steering Gears Modification 2 isn’t a bad choice but the former is optimal.
  • Concealment System Modification 1 plays up to Thunderer’s strengths, so don’t leave port without it.
  • And finally, with no access to a range increasing modification, Main Battery Modification 3 is the best of the remaining choices.

 

Camouflage
Thunderer comes with a tier IX, Type 10 Camouflage. This provides 100% bonus experience gains, a 20% reduction to service costs, 3% reduced surface detection range and increases dispersion of incoming fire by 4%

Firepower
Main Battery: Eight 457mm rifles in 4×2 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration.
Secondary Battery:  Sixteen 134mm guns in 8×2 turrets with four mounted to either side.
Thunderer’s guns look scary in port and that’s about as far as it goes.  They’re no slouches, but they’re not god-tier weapons like the 460mm on Musashi.  They’re a flexible weapon but with a specialization towards bullying enemy battleships and negating the effects of their armour profiles, regardless of the angle they take.  Thunderer’s effectiveness against cruisers and destroyers is reduced — significantly so in the case of enemy destroyers.

I like the high contrast on Thunderer’s gun barrels.
Sins of the Father
As a Conqueror-class battleship, there’s a reasonable expectation for Thunderer to be a high-explosive spamming specialist — particularly against battleship targets. She still boasts the triple threat of excellent damage, high penetration and high fire chance per shell, but she lacks the shell volume that made Conqueror such a monster with her twelve 419mm guns. While Thunderer cannot put as many shells down range, the quality of her individual hits is greater. This is a poor trade but it would be a mistake to underestimate her. Thunderer may not be as capable as Conqueror at burning battleships down to the waterline, but she’s no slouch.
The 114mm of penetration on Thunderer’s guns means that almost every hit that strikes an enemy vessel will result in penetration damage of some kind. It’s really only strikes against main battery mounts or the ship’s belt which will shatter, and in the latter case, there is a long list of cruisers that are vulnerable, including those that can take citadel hits from Thunderer’s high explosive shells. What’s worse for her opponents, Thunderer’s HE shells have an enormous module blast radius. She will quickly strip larger ships of all of their small and medium caliber AA guns. Smaller ships like cruisers and destroyers risk having main battery or torpedo mounts disabled or destroyed and components like their engines and steering gears damaged. It is not uncommon for Thunderer to destroy torpedo mounts with only a few hits. For destroyers, this often means having multiple systems shatter if they get caught by even a single shell hit on an extremity, including a very real chance of detonating.
Facing these weapons is infuriating as there’s no real defense against them other than to dodge. For Thunderer, that’s great news given her accuracy woes. If she had to aim for specific spots on an enemy ship to do damage, she’d be in trouble.

Approximate module blast radius of one of Thunderer’s 457mm HE shells.  Reference Mahan (108m long) used for scale.  It’s quite possible for even one of Thunderer’s HE shells to damage two destroyer magazines simultaneously, allowing her to “double dip” her detonation chances one the destroyer is on low enough health.  She’s particularly apt at destroying torpedo mounts, much to the screams of frustration of her opponents.
Who made that man a gunner?
I did, sir.  He’s my cousin.
How very subtle.

There’s no way to sugar coat it: Thunderer’s gunnery is (space) balls. Someone thought Thunderer deserved to be Orion’d before she was even released. If your hope is to sit at the back and farm damage in Thunderer, there are two pieces of bad news.

  • The first is that for a tier IX battleship, she’s short ranged. Wargaming seems intent to correct the play style that people loathe to face against when up against a Conqueror. Thunderer’s range caps out at 19.7km with no ability to increase it. She does not have a Spotter Aircraft consumable nor did she have access to the Gun Fire Control System Modification 2 upgrade. This severely limits her influence in the opening stages of a match.
  • The second is that she has the worst sigma value of any of the eight-gun battleships in the game. While Thunderer does enjoy the same tight horizontal dispersion as other British, Russian and American battleships, the spread of shells throughout this area is lamentably akin to a shotgun blast. Spamming fire at long-range will result in irregular performance.

To land consistent hits Thunderer must get close — closer than most players will likely feel comfortable. At ranges inside of 14km, her gunnery feels a lot less wonky, though stray shells still occur. This is nail-bitingly frustrating when trying to land hits on a destroyer that appears at medium to close ranges, or to see a perfect broadside shot against a cruiser sail wide. Thunderer’s guns are temperamental to say the least and they expose her to reprisals. Getting this close puts her within easy torpedo range of skulking destroyers and even the secondaries of French and German battleships.

The unfortunate effect here is to discourage players from attempting to make more difficult shots and instead rely on the more consistent output on spamming HE into battleships. This is entirely the point. After all, HE thrown at a battleship doesn’t really care where it hits. Even strikes against the turrets and belt that shatter for zero damage still start fires. In this way Thunderer’s dispersion may even play to her advantage, spreading her shells across her target and facilitating starting blazes in multiple areas. The aim here (get it?) is to keep Thunderer’s damage output against battleships high but also to throttle her effectiveness against other ship types.
Thunderer’s dispersion taken form the test server and Conqueror’s from 0.7.4.1 on the live server. They have identical dispersion areas, but Thunderer’s smaller sigma value means that her shells are less likely to fall towards the center of the aiming point.

Regrettably Awesome AP Shells

Thunderer has the highest damaging AP shells in the game. No, really. Conqueror has them too, but you wouldn’t know about them because no one uses them. No one is likely to use them on Thunderer either. They have excellent penetration values and a shortened fuse timer which, in theory, should make them great for punishing cruisers.

In theory.
The unfortunate side of things is that with Thunderer’s 1.6 sigma, her AP performance is spotty at best. As a match progresses, Thunderer may reach for her AP shells to great effect. But this is contingent upon her gaining a position where she can use them. She’s stealthy enough to do it (provided you don’t trip over a plane). Once the range drops down below 14km, her dispersion is reasonable enough to make such attacks viable. However, when improbability stacks upon improbability, the odds of ever seeing this regularly performed drops to nothing. And let’s face it, it’s easier to just let enemy battleships attempt to face-tank Thunderer while you stave their noses into their sinus cavities with HE fire.
Practicality will dictate that only very skilled players will make effective use of her AP shells. Most other players will be better served spamming HE.
Secondaries, Fire Angles and the Rest
For the cost of 1.6 sigma, I was hoping to see something to compensate for it, but Thunderer doesn’t even have a remarkable range with her secondaries. Furthermore, the small secondary battery makes any pretense of specializing into it a waste of time. This is a shame for those of us hoping for another Warspite. Though Thunderer must engage enemies at medium ranges, she is not a brawler. She has good forward firing angles on her main battery but poor ones to the rear. On top of this, her turret traverse is on the slow side, making such close in engagements frustrating as she cannot react fast to changes in heading.
Thunderer has better forward firing angles than to the rear. It pays to keep this in mind when angling defensively.
Conclusions

Thunderer feels like an attempt to solve some of the game play problems with the high tier Royal Navy battleships — namely how un-fun it is to be on the receiving end of walls of HE spam from stupidly long range. However, it’s a boneheaded solution, as it addresses only one problem. Admittedly, it does solve the first problem very well — I like the reduced range a lot, especially when combined with the strengths of her Repair Party and Concealment. However, the 1.6 sigma immediately undermines all this hard work by making her gunnery frustrating. Instead of encouraging and rewarding players for reaching for AP shells, the wonky accuracy of her guns makes HE the smartest choice to fire in most situations.

A possible solution would have been to tighten up her dispersion significantly but increase her reload time. This would make it more difficult for her to tax the Damage Control Party of enemy battleships and make proper shell choice all the more important. However, I suspect that increasing her accuracy would only encourage players to loiter as close to maximum range as they can. The core problem is really the over-performance of Royal Navy HE shells and I’m not sure there’s an easy fix beyond exorcising the ammunition entirely.

At least she doesn’t have twelve 419mm rifles.
Summary
  • Her main battery guns are frustrating to use.
  • It’s arguably just as frustrating to be on the receiving end of her HE spam.
  • Her secondaries are too small in number to be worth upgrading.
Evaluation: 
What it would have needed to be :  Better sigma or a (much) faster reload.
Defense
Hit Points: 83,200hp
Maximum Citadel Protection: 406mm + 45mm
Minimum Extremities & Deck Armour: 32mm
Torpedo Damage Reduction: 28%
This graph shows the theoretical maximum hit points of each of the tier 9 battleships, including the use of premium consumables, Superintendent and India Delta signals. It does not include bonus hit points for Survivability Expert because that’s just silly. Even starting with a single charge of her Repair Party, Thunderer absolutely dominates this category. When you combine this with her excellent citadel protection and thick belt, she is arguably the best battleship at tier IX in terms of survivability.

 

Armour & Protection
As a Conqueror-class battleship, Thunderer shares many traits with her sister-ship with only small variations in her protection scheme.  In general, Thunderer has slightly more hit points and marginally thicker forward facing, transverse armour but slightly less facing the rear.  These differences are so minor to push her away from being an outright clone, while remaining a functional clone in these regards.
Thunderer’s protection scheme mostly stands apart because of her 457mm guns.  These are much more heavily protected than the 419mm mounts.  The faceplate of Thunderer’s turrets is an impressive 456mm while Conqueror merely boasts 381mm with her 419mm armament.  This difference in armour is echoed on all the other facets of the turrets, making Thunderer’s gun protection scheme much more robust overall than a typical Conqueror.  To be clear, this amounts to little in brawling ranges where battleship penetration values are so high as to make mockery of any protection whatsoever.
The Conqueror-class has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to citadel.  This is largely owing to her fully submerged magazines and machine spaces hiding behind thick, 406mm belt armour and a secondary thinner belt which runs well beneath the water’s surface to help foil plunging fire.  However, this reputation is only partially deserved, owing much to the ridiculous engagement distances at which Conqueror tends to fight her opponents.  This is a luxury that Thunderer does not enjoy and I suspect she’ll take more AP damage as a result, especially if she’s caught out in the more frequent manoeuvres necessary to keep this ship afloat.  Still, with proper angling, she’s a frustrating target upon which to land catastrophic damage.
Thunderer does have an Achilles Heel — a 19mm roof to her citadel above her engines.  Provided a battleship caliber shell can penetrate into the ship, it will overmatch this section and result in a citadel hit.  Even Scharnhorst’s 283mm guns are capable (in theory) of accomplishing this, provided they can best Conqueror’s belt armour or upper hull armour in the first place.  Experience with Conqueror has shown that this isn’t a crippling flaw in the design, though — citadel hits on these ships remain rare.  This is largely owing to her ridiculously thick belt which is second only to Musashi’s 410mm belt.  Thunderer is generally quite well protected against battleship caliber AP shells.
This same immunity does not extend to HE fire or Royal Navy cruiser AP. Aside from her turrets, barbette and belt, the entirety of Thunderer’s armour gets no thicker than 32mm, making her dangerously vulnerable to spam from 152mm armed cruisers. The new American light cruisers are going to have a field day pooping rainbows on to her decks. Fiji through Minotaur will laugh all the way to the bank. Thunderer’s shorter range makes her an ideal target for cruisers of all types and she is an easy experience pinata in this regard, especially given her temperamental dispersion which may keep such ships safe from reprisals.
Her torpedo protection is, at best, adequate and on the poor side overall. She has very little in the way of flooding mitigation from deep water and high tier IJN destroyer torpedoes. However, access to Hydroacoustic Search helps avoid this damage in the first place.
Repair Party
The last piece of the puzzle which largely defines the durability of high tier Royal Navy battleships is their Repair Party. Like all Royal Navy battleships, Thunderer queues up to 60% of all penetration damage, regardless of source. What sets these ships apart from the battleships of other nations is the amount of health they recover. Thunderer heals back 40% of her hit points with a single use of her Repair Party. Combined with the India Delta signal and this amount jumps up to 48% — that’s between 33,280hp and 39,936hp per charge. This amount is nothing short of insane.
Some efforts were made to make this more balanced upon Thunderer. Like Conqueror, she shares a painfully long 3 minute reset timer on her  consumable. More importantly, she has one less charge, starting with only a single charge base and with a maximum of three available through the use of a premium consumable and the Superintendent skill which is a must. Even with this mitigation, the amount of effective health Thunderer potentially has access to outstrips all of her contemporaries so this can’t even be looked at as a flaw, but rather a full on strength. So long as Thunderer can disengage and give herself time to recover, she can heal back damage that would see her sunk two and a half times over.
No, it’s not fair. I guess that partly explains her 1.6 sigma.
Summary:
  • Excellent citadel protection.
  • Modest to poor HE and Torpedo Protection, the latter partially mitigated by Hydroacoustic Search.
  • Ridiculous ability to heal back massive amounts of damage taken, allowing her to effectively come back from the dead one and a half times.
Evaluation: 
What would have to happen to DOWNGRADE to :  Thunderer would have to lose its 40% heal altogether and replace it with a normal, lower tiered Royal Navy battleship heal.
 Agility
Top Speed: 29.5
Turning Radius: 940m
Rudder Shift Time:  15.8s
Maximum Rate of Turn: 3.7º/s
Thunderer does not rank well in terms of her agility.  Her only boast is a “fast” rudder shift time (relatively speaking).   Her turning circle is enormous, on par with Friedrich der Große.  Everywhere else, she’s on the low side of average.  Thunderer is only spared  evaluation in regards to her agility thanks to Musashi also being a tier IX battleship, otherwise she’d arguably be the worst of the lot.  Thunderer feels like a large battleship and not an especially fast one.  She’s no sluggard, but this isn’t a ship that ever feels comfortable coming about.
Be advised that with Main Battery Modification 3, her gun rotation drops from 4.0º/s down to  3.5º/s, meaning that she can (and will) out turn her turrets while under manoeuvres.  Expert Marksman corrects this if you have the skill points to spare.
 Evaluation: 
What it would have needed to be :  A lot of heavy lifting would be required here to make Thunderer compete with Lion or Alsace.  She only barely squeaks in a  as is.
Anti-Aircraft Defense
AA Battery Calibers: 134mm / 40mm
AA Umbrella Ranges: 5.2km / 3.5km
AA DPS per Aura: 68 / 527.2
Thunderer’s AA firepower was (disappointingly) cloned from Conqueror. On paper it looks impressive, with higher raw damage than anything else at her tier. There are two weaknesses to her AA power, however, which tell a different story.
  1. Thunderer’s AA firepower is concentrated in her 3.5km mounts. These do not upgrade nearly as well as large-caliber mounts which are more powerful on ships like Friedrich der Große, Alsace and the Iowa-class sisters. Their lack of range limits them to self-defense purposes only, and not being able to lend her AA firepower as a fleet support weapon.
  2. Thunderer’s AA firepower, being so reliant on her 40mm mounts, is easily knocked out. Even taking just a few HE hits can absolutely neuter her AA defense, making her easy prey for aircraft carriers, quickly reducing her to less effective AA firepower than even Izumo. Yeah. It’s that bad.
Thunderer’s AA firepower is thus only good so long as she hasn’t been attacked yet. While most battleships also suffer a (severe) reduction in their AA defense after being attacked, on Thunderer it is much more exaggerated. Frankly, this is the kind of AA firepower that I like — one that can be counter-played with a little teamwork.

Evaluation: 
What it would have needed to be :  More large-caliber mounts or more effective large caliber mounts.  Thunderer has the raw AA DPS but not the range or longevity needed to earn a better rating.

Refrigerator
Base Surface Detection Range: 14.78km
Air Detection Range: 15.66km
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 11.10km (!)
Detection Range when Firing from Smoke: 15.85km
Main Battery Firing Range: 19.65km
Sadly, I never got to put Thunderer’s Hydroacoustic Search consumable to any hard test. Bots are dumb, you see, and don’t behave like players. I never had to contend with a perfectly positioned Asashio or Shimakaze trying to ninja torp me. The theoretical numbers for the increased reaction times do make me optimistic, however. Vigilance is a worthwhile investment for Thunderer, increasing her torpedo spotting range from 2.79km up to 3.49km.
Only Missouri presents any kind of challenge to Thunderer’s dominance of Vision Control (Refrigerator) among the tier IX battleships, and it’s a weak contention at that.
Thunderer is not without a weakness, even if such weakness is downright laughable.  She has a large aerial detection range of 15.66km.  This can be reduced down to 12.1km with Concealment Modification 1 and Concealment Expert (camouflage doesn’t help) but she still ranks in the bottom half of the tier IX battleships for aerial concealment with the likes of Musashi, Izumo and Friedrich der Große for company.  This really doesn’t hold her back though.
What’s most distressing for anyone that’s not playing Thunderer is her ability to sneak up and disengage almost at will.  Fully specialized, she can get her surface detection down to 11.1km which is not only the best among the tier IX battleships, it’s the best out of any battleship within her matchmaking spread with the exception of HMS Monarch.  For those who remember, this is Conqueror’s pre-nerf surface detection range, now in tier IX form.  One of the big issues of this stealth rating as that she boasts a better surface detection than the following cruisers:
  • Tier 7: Algérie, Yorck, Myoko, Shchors
  • Tier 8: Prinz Eugen, Mikhail Kutuzov,
  • Tier 9: Saint-Louis, Kronshtadt, Dmitri Donskoi
  • Tier 10: Moskva, Stalingrad, Hindenburg, Henri IV
For a ship that succeeds or fails based on how close she can get to the opponent before unleashing her main battery guns, this is a good thing for Thunderer and a terrible thing for everyone else. Without aircraft or smaller ships to keep her spotted, Thunderer can disengage almost at will. She can pull all sorts of nonsense while unspotted, from setting up ambushes, ninja capping or simply building a second version of herself with her Repair Party.
But Thunderer isn’t done yet. She has one more trick to play. She has the same Hydroacoustic Search consumable that was tested on HMS Cossack. This is a weird version of the consumable with a three-minute active period. The trade-off is that it’s not designed to be used offensively as it has very short-range. What it does do is give far more warning for incoming torpedoes than Thunderer might have otherwise. In theory, this should help make more aggressive plays — or at least mitigating torpedo damage which was one of Conqueror’s weaknesses.

Evaluation:  
What would have to happen to DOWNGRADE to :  The loss of Thunderer’s Hydroacoustic Search might be enough to tip the scales back in Missouri’s favour.  It’s hard to argue with how powerful Surveillance Radar is on that ship.

Final Evaluation
HMS Thunderer is a sweet-mess of half measures. I understand the attempt here — to make a version of the 457mm Conqueror attractive without annoying the Hell out of the player base with another long-range HE spammer. The significant reduction in long-range fire was a good move. So too was reducing the number of charges on her Repair Party (if they weren’t going to reduce her hit points, this was 100% necessary). However, I don’t believe that making her gunnery more difficult with bad sigma is the answer to reducing Royal Navy battleship HE spam. Inaccurate guns will not encourage players to take more risks with AP shells. The result of trying to shoe horn in a 457mm Conqueror at tier IX as described above is just going to annoy everyone — both playing her and playing against her.
The easiest solution would be a blanket-nerf of Royal Navy HE performance while keeping Conqueror’s original 457mm accuracy of 2.0 sigma. Royal Navy HE has the triumvirate of penetration, high damage and fire chance. One of the three needs to go. If this sweeping change is made, it must be made now before any further Royal Navy battleship premiums have this ability grandfathered in. Warspite doesn’t have it. Neither does Hood. Puke of Dork has it and so too does Nelson, but it’s really only on this last ship where it’s highly competitive. I’d be okay if HMS Nelson was the only fossil remaining in the game with these characteristics given her other flaws.
Let’s be clear: The Royal Navy battleships do not (in general) over perform. They’re over specialized in the same way as Asashio and unbalanced with a near myopic fixation upon farming damage off battleships. They’re not overpowered, not from a performance statistics perspective — their ability to influence the outcome of a battle isn’t especially pronounced compared to other ships. They’re simply not fun to play against if you’re in a dreadnought on the receiving end of a torrent of massive high explosive shells.
Adding a ship like HMS Thunderer would just cement the permanence of Royal Navy battleship HE-spam and I really hope Wargaming doesn’t add Thunderer to the game before addressing this issue.
It’s a good thing they’re not.
Inspiration for Thunderer’s camouflage scheme came directly from this image.

Mouse’s Summary:

  • Designing premium ships isn’t easy.
  • It’s even more difficult when you challenge yourself to make the most annoying premium ship possible — one that would upset both those who would be playing her and those who would be facing her. Compound this with creating the illusion of balance and competitiveness. The last thing I wanted when designing this thing was making something people would actually be happy to see arriving in-game.
  • I had a lot of fun with this project — it’s been in the works for several months and it’s really been eye-opening to the design process and the challenges inherent with introducing a balanced ship into the game. It was also nice to be bound to my release schedule and not waiting on Wargaming to greenlight something.
Thunderer is my design, not Wargaming’s. They’re not bringing this into the game… at least, I hope they’re not. I intentionally made this design as trollish as I could while trying to echo some design ideas Wargaming has floated in the past. Supertesters will likely see some echoes of Massachusetts in there, along with a little Duck of York. I tried to keep Thunderer unimaginative, dull, and infuriating, all for a singular purpose:
I wanted to express my love and frustration with high tier Royal Navy battleships.
I’m a Royal Navy battleship fan-girl. I’m unapologetic about it. This is why I loved HMS Warspite so much and why Suck of Pork ticks me off as  much as it does. I want to enjoy HMS Lion and Conqueror, but it’s hard not to feel guilty when playing them. Dishing out walls of damage is fun, but it’s not healthy game play.
For my 100th Review, I chose to write a troubled love letter to these ships. Rather than simply review Lion and Conqueror, I made a bastard-offspring of the two of them to try to open my own eyes to just how wonderful and awful they truly are. This is how HMS Thunderer was born. I put together a design brief. I sweet talked Chobittsu to help put together a skin I had designed (if I had more time, I would have also altered the geometry of the ship slightly).  I then play tested an approximation of Thunderer using a 457mm Conqueror in co-op and training rooms over and over and over again until I was sick of it. I read thread upon thread of suggested fixes, some that were intelligent, others that were hilariously hate-filled.  This distillation of all of these experiences coalesced into the write up above — an imperfect, deliberately malicious solution to a difficult problem.
I’ve been bugging Pigeon_of_War in a not-so-serious way that Conqueror’s 457mm armament would make a wonderful core design for a premium if done right. Stripping them from the tier X Conqueror would then allow Wargaming to readdress not only their performance but those of the (frankly disgusting) 419mm guns too — preferably by tossing them in the dumpster. They could then either use the 457s properly or equip these ships with 406mm with the right balance tweak. The alternative is to make Conqueror keep the 457s and strip her of the 419s and use those to make the tier IX premium. Go for gusto! Watch the world burn! Hoover up the salt, tears and moneys that will come pouring in!
It’s a vain hope to see the Royal Navy tech tree stop being the bi-word for fun and engaging game play — where seeing them on the team rosters doesn’t immediately make you want to pull your hair out in frustration. It’s hard to say what’s worse: facing against them or watching your own team mates hump the map border and spam ineffectively until the game is lost. I don’t envy Wargaming the difficult process of bringing them to heel. It cannot be a high priority and I understand why. But, a girl can still hope and dream. I simply wish to enjoy my higher tiered RNBBs without feeling like I’m gouging out people’s eyes when I do it.
Kudos to those of you that saw through my ruse right away, even with Sub_Octavian running a small bit of interference. I wasn’t surprised that there was as much of a disappointed murmurs about the rumours of Thunderer. That is how I designed her, after all. She was meant to be as lamentable. She replicates how I felt seeing Conqueror released with twelve 419mm guns instead of balancing around her more interesting 457mm guns.
The only thing this game needs less than another Royal Navy battleship premium at the moment is another low-tier protected Russian cruiser.   Don’t get me wrong, if they announce HMS Vanguard in the coming months I will squeal happily (and then cringe wondering how she will be implemented). After this little prank, though, I think I’m going to have to go sit in the corner for a while and think about what I did. I’m probably not going to be allowed to touch the next RNBB premium until I’m done sitting in my time-out.
To anyone truly offended by this review, I apologize.  And not just one of those automated Canadian apologies.  Hopefully you can forgive me for wanting to do something a little selfish after all this time.  I should be good for the next 100.  But, there’s a method to my madness in the end.  Let me know what you think would be the best solution for correcting HMS Lion and HMS Conqueror.  You can email me at aprilwhitemouse@outlook.com with your feelings.  Please include your in-game name and the region in which you play in the message.  On Monday, May 28th, I will pick three players from all of the comments to win a Warspite — a premium done well instead of this trainwreck.
Thank you all for reading and thanks especially to those of you who have stuck by me for these past three years.  ♥  And thank you, Wargaming, for being such a good sport about this.
I’m going to Hell, aren’t I?
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.
FAKEBOTE – A construct of Mouse’s demented imagination.  Not only that, she deliberately made it awful on purpose.  Because she’s mean like that.

 
Do let me know what you guys think of this way of handing out the CC codes.
 In Closing
There now, with that out of my system, it’s back to business as usual. It appears that Monaghan or Kronshtadt will be the next ships I review. They’re both real, unlike Thunderer and T-61 (it’s no coincidence those two ships have similar camouflage schemes — I’m just saying). I don’t have an ETA for either of those yet but hopefully I’ll have one done by the time 0.7.5 drops.

I want to thank my patrons on Patreon for helping me reach my first funding goal. It’s all kinds of humbling. Thank you so, so much — everyone from the Thank You, Duck tier on up. I really means a lot to me and your help just makes me want to raise the bar that much more on all the work I do. Even this throw-away joke review ended up being 6,000 words. 🙂

Appendix
A list of sites, programs and people I rely upon to create my reviews.

Research:

Artwork:

For Graphics:

Programs Used:

  • World of Warships (duh)
  • Notepad (seriously)
  • MS Paint (also, seriously)
  • iPhone Stopwatch App (yep)

Hardware: Mouse toils away on an old i7-2600K 3.40GHz computer with 16GB RAM and an Nvidia 560Ti GPU running a 64bit OS.

1 thought on “Premium Ship Review #100: HMS Thunderer

  1. I can across this sometime ago and really enjoyed but while look at some of the reviews you have done lately. I thought I should add a extra big thank you. for all your work. I spotted this was a fake when I read the name of the ship on my first read through, still read it all the way to the end though as it is so well done. No skimping just because it’s a joke.
    Hope they have let you out of the corner / of the naughty step.
    Capt A Bumbler RN

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