Quick Summary: A Kirov-class cruiser armed with 180mm rifles with improved performance.
Cost: Undisclosed as of yet.
Armed with nine high velocity 180mm guns.
Has the same gun performance as the tier 9 Dmitri Donskoi.
Decent range of 15.5km. Can be increased temporarily to 18.7 km with her float plane.
Very fast with a 36.0 knot top speed.
Decent rudder shift of 7.8s.
Unable to fire from stealth without the use of her float plane.
Very fragile, with 28,400hp and vulnerable citadel from all angles to heavy cruiser and battleship caliber guns.
Torpedoes are short ranged at 4.0km.
Horrible AA defense, both short ranged and low DPS.
Large turning circle of 860m.
The Molotov is the quintessential support gunship. She doesn't have any tricks or special consumables to give her a sense of flair. She's not well armoured or especially stealthy. She can't take a hit to save her life. Her premium ship "quirk" lies entirely in her armament which allows her to deal a tremendous amount of damage at long range with brutally accurate, fast reloading 180mm rifles which feel way out of place at their tier. But is that enough to make her a worthwhile purchase?
These guns are the reason you want to play the Molotov. Though the look like the same armament as the Kirov (and they are), they have the same stats as those found on the tier 9 Dmitri Donskoi. This means a faster rate of fire, more damage from her AP shell and higher muzzle velocity.
The Molotov is armed with nine 180mm/57 Mk-3-180 rifles ranged in three turrets. These are the exact same guns as found on the Kirov and in the same arrangement. Two turrets are positioned superfiring forward and a single triple mount aft. Each of the turrets has only the smallest aspect of their field of fire obscured and with a decent turret traverse speed of 22.5s they're very easy to bring on target.
However, the ballistic qualities and damage of the shells are those found on the tier 9 Dmitri Donskoi, not the Kirov. This provides the Molotov with a 15% rate of fire increase over the Kirov for 4.6rpm. That would be advantageous in of itself, but the shells also have better ballistic qualities, with a muzzle velocity that's 120m/s faster than that of the Kirov's 800m/s. This makes it easier to put shells on target at range with less lead time. And if that weren't enough, there's more. The Molotov's AP shells hit almost 8% harder, with an alpha strike of 4400 per shell instead of 4100.
It's all well and fine that this tier 6 ship gets better guns than the tier 5 equivalent, but how does she compare to her contemporaries? How does she stand up to the Budyonny's notoriously fearsome 152mm armament? The Molotov doesn't have everything its own way when compared against her class' successor. Where the Molotov truly shines is the alpha strike potential of her 180mm rifles using AP rounds along with better shell flight characteristics. You can easily bullseye anything moving in a straight line at her max range, regardless of class. She can and will easily citadel an enemy cruiser up to ranges of 14km without much effort. The Budyonny is a much better firebug, however, and also wins out on range and the DPM race. This means that while the Molotov's guns hit harder with individual salvos, the Budyonny with her 152mm can out trade you in a slug match -- something worth keeping in mind.
Perhaps most pressing towards the meta, the Molotov struggles to attack without being detected on open water. With the tier 5 Concealment Expert captain skill and her own premium camouflage, her surface detection drops to 11.2km. When she fires, this blossoms up to 16.6km, making her utterly incapable of remaining undetected without the use of extending her range via her float plane. This means that whenever you fire with the Molotov, you are guaranteed to be spotted.
Coupled with her fragility, this limits the Molotov to a second line support gunship rather than a lone-wolf sniper.
Sharing the Kirov's deck armament of six 100mm dual-purpose rifles, the Molotov's secondary battery compliment is light but decent for a cruiser of her displacement. These have a 4km range and put out 15rpm with a rather unimpressive shell that's not likely to do much save perhaps start a fire or two. Generally speaking, you'll never be in close enough to make use of her defensive guns. Still, they're nice to have, short ranged as they are.
Speaking of short ranged, the Molotov has a rather uninspired torpedo armament. This consists of a pair of triple launchers mounted on the deck amidships with one to port and the other starboard. These are pretty standard fare for mid-tier Soviet cruisers, with 14,400 alpha strike and a mere 4.0km range. These fish are exceedingly situational in their use.
Using an islands as cover, the Molotov stalked this Colorado in from a distance of 10km before finally coming around the headland at 3.5km to launch a point blank torpedo strike. These sorts of opportunities are not common for the Molotov and are full of risk.
The Molotov follows the trend of Soviet cruisers. She is very fast in a straight line, managing a top speed of 36.0 knots. This makes her one of the fastest cruisers presently in the game and faster than some of the destroyers she may end up facing. This provides the Molotov with excellent flexibility, and were it combined with truly stellar gun ranges, I have no doubt she would have been a contender for one of the best cruisers at her tier for her ability to kite. This is especially so due to her good rudder shift time of 7.8s which allows her to change her course within the time it would take many of her opponent's shells to reach her at her engagement range. The only drawback is her enormous turning circle of 860m. This transforms her evasive wiggle into more of a gentle sway and prevents her from being entirely reactionary to incoming fire. Plan your turns well in advance.
This said, her top speed should be more than sufficient to ensure that anything you don't want to get close to you stays at arm's length.
Durability and Defense
Like the Kirov and the Soviet cruisers that follow her, the Molotov is a fragile vessel. This goes contrary to the in-game brief regarding the vessel, which describes her as being better armoured than the lead-ship. In the practical sense, this is a load of hogwash. With less than 30,000hp, she has one of the lowest HP totals for a tier 6 cruiser.
The Molotov has as little as 13mm of armour protecting her vitals,and she cannot angle and expect to escape harm from incoming fire from heavy cruisers and larger displacement vessels. Any guns over 180mm in caliber will overmatch the armour of her bow and stern and result in penetrating hits. This means the plethora of 203mm rifles that you encounter in her matchmaking spread (and nevermind the Battleship caliber weapons) will almost always result in damaging hits no matter how you might try and tank it. This really shouldn't come as any form of surprise for anyone familiar with Soviet cruisers at this stage, but there will always be someone that buys into the promotional descriptions.
But it's not like this armour is absolutely useless. You can angle against 152mm ships and bounce an enormous amount of fire off her turrets and angled waterline. It can be quite effective to partially expose your ship's side to bait opposing light cruisers to reach for their AP shells, only to turn back to a near prow-on aspect and shatter the shells off your armour. Your 180mm are guaranteed to hit harder, though not as quickly.
Of course, if they switch over to HE, forget about angling. Dodge, wiggle, use her high speed and get out of there.
And this is really the lesson you should take about the Molotov: Avoid taking fire. The longevity of this ship is measured in how well it can keep out from beneath enemy guns. Her own rifles have amazing performance, even at maximum range. By using this range to your advantage, you can give yourself more time to evade all without hurting your damage totals. Make use of cover and don't be afraid to silence your weapons to fade away when the enemy appears intent on focusing upon you.
On a final note, she does ride much higher in the water than the Kirov. Be careful out there.
The only thing that will truly keep your Molotov alive is keeping your head on a swivel. Track every threat. Move and plan accordingly or your small hit point pool will send you right to the bottom before you can put those awesome guns to work.
The surface detection range of the Molotov stands at 12.7km including the bonus for her premium camouflage, dropping down to 11.2km once you upgrade your Captain with Concealment Expert. The ship's concealment range should really be felt as the minimum engagement range of the ship -- where when you silence your weapons that you're able to fall out of detection. When her guns fire, she gains 5.2km worth of detection range, making her visible from nearly 18km out before you unlock Concealment Expert This is effectively ringing the dinner bell for any Dreadnoughts in range, so be very aware of your surroundings at all times when you open fire.
Anti Aircraft Armament
While the Molotov does have the option of swapping out her Hydroacoustic Search for Defensive Fire, she does not have the AA suite to compliment this change. At best, her anti-aircraft firepower can be used to disrupt incoming enemy bomber formations but she will have a very hard time shooting down anything except lower tier aircraft. Like the USS Texas, the limits of the Molotov's AA firepower caps out at a range of 3.5km, limiting the armament to self defense purposes.
The layout of the guns themselves differs from the Kirov. She has a mixed armament, composed of everything from solo 12.7mm machine gun mounts to 100mm dual purpose guns, from single 45mm small-caliber artillery to quad-vertical mounts of Vickers machine guns. The lion's share of her AA power, however, comes from the eight 37mm autocannons.
In total, while in stock configuration, she puts out 91dps which isn't a great number from which to start. She will never be a frightening AA platform, even when fully kitted out.
The anti-aircraft armament of the Molotov is nothing special and is unlikely to dissuade determined air strikes, like this attack run performed by a Saipan's eight Skyraider dive-bombers.
I have been spoiled by the recent premium ships of 2016. Though not all of them have been unique in some fashion many brought some gimmick to the table. The Molotov was harder to sum up at a glance. She was a good gunship, sure, but at first glance nothing stood out that appeared to make her truly memorable. I kept expecting to see something more from her, like the ability to fire from stealth or really good armour or AA power.
So my first test games were pretty lackluster as I derped about in what felt to me like a T6 Kirov. Sure, she had slightly better rate of fire and AP shells, but then I really started to take note of just how good her gunnery was. And her gunnery wasn't just good, it's amazing. I wasn't playing a Kirov at tier 6, I was playing a Dmitri Donskoi. I could slap citadels onto enemy cruisers at any range if they gave me their sides. I was punching 180mm rounds through the engine spaces of IJN Heavy Cruisers at 16km. Destroyers, thinking themselves safe from harm 14km out were picked off with ease.
So long as I didn't get myself stupidly killed (which, I admit, happened often), I was guaranteed to come out with great damage totals because these guns performed.
The Molotov is a total finesse ship. Knowing how to aim is important but keeping a ready eye on the changing situation on the map is even more so. I did awful with the Molotov when I was tired, distracted or stressed. But I could not be stopped when I was motivated and in the zone. She's fast enough to get out of trouble. She's nimble enough to evade fire. And she hits like a truck. The Molotov doesn't have the stealth tricks of the Budyonny -- she's nowhere near as forgiving. Instead it's all on the player's shoulders to duck and weave and put a precise flurry of punches back into the enemy and wear them down.
This is a great ship, and it will make me a better player.
Would I Recommend?
There's a pretty high skill ceiling on the Molotov. You have to have good situational awareness (not the Captain skill, the real-world skill!) to be able to make this ship perform. She has no get-out-of-jail-free cards. She has no Smoke Launcher, she has no ability to fire from stealth. She doesn't even have a great, trumping torpedo armament that will surprise enemies at medium to close range.
For those that have played and truly enjoy the Soviet Cruisers (or even the mid-tier German cruisers), she's worth looking at. Just be aware she's not very forgiving. If you want a forgiving cruiser trainer for the Soviets, look no further than the Murmansk at tier 5 or the Mikhail Kutuzov at tier 8.
The Molotov has four upgrade slots, common among all tier 6 and 7 ships.
For your first slot, Main Battery Modification 1 is your best choice, if only to help keep your awesome guns from turning into scrap metal.
I equipped Gun Fire Control System Modification 1 in the second slot, to reduce her gun dispersion down to 130m. The only other viable option I would ever consider for the Molotov might be AA Gun Battery Modification 1 to increase her AA power, but I honestly don't feel you could ever get her AA up to a level where that would be worthwhile.
There are two decent choices for the third slot, Propulsion Modification 1 or Steering Gears Modification 1 to help keep either your engine or your rudder from being damaged. As we'll likely be investing in the Last Stand Captain skill, neither of these is particularly an imperative but it's nice to have these working at full efficiency. I prefer the Propulsion mod, myself.
Lastly, equip Steering Gears Modification 2 for your last slot to drop your rudder shift time down to 6.3s.
Unlike more recent premium ships (Mikhail Kutuzov & Lo Yang, we are looking at you), the Molotov has standard consumables consisting of a Damage Control Party and the choice between Hydroacoustic Search and Defensive Fire. The premium version of the Damage Control Party is never a bad idea, though you should be doing your best to never truly need it. Of the other two consumables, both are highly situational. I find Hydroacoustic Search more valuable.
Though she's sleek, the Molotov rides rather high in the water compared to a Kirov-class.
Recommended Captain Skills
Though there may be some temptation to build her as an AA cruiser, she really excels as a long range gunship and I would choose skills to help support the latter.
Your first skill should be Situational Awareness. You need to keep your eyes on a swivel anytime this goes off.
I preferred Last Stand for my tier 2 skill. Alternatively, you can try Incoming Fire Alert if you need the extra help on being aware when you're being targeted. It's really that important in the Molotov. Still, I would recommend the former over the latter and try and teach yourself to work on your awareness.
For tier 3, Vigilance is nice to have and probably the best choice from among these skills.
For tier 4, there isn't a lot that's particularly valuable to the Molotov. I would recommend Demolition Expert to increase her HE performance. This will raise her chance of starting a fire per shell up to 16%.
And lastly, at tier 5, Concealment Expert is pretty much a no-brainer.