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Premium Ship Review Ishizuchi5/5/2016 10:28:39 PM
Published By: LittleWhiteMouse
The Imperial Japanese Navy Battlecruiser
Ishizuchi
 
Quick Summary: A true WWI era Battlecruiser, trading armour for speed. Armed with ten 305mm rifles with improved reload times providing fearsome potential DPM.
 
PROs
  • Fastest rate of fire of the tier 4 Battleships at 2.4rpm.
  • Highest HE DPM of the tier 4 Battleships
  • Excellent chance to start fires per shell at 32%
  • Heavy secondary battery armament.
  • Good top speed for a Battleship at 27.5 knots.
  • Sees a max of tier 5 opponents (unlike Imperator Nikolai I).

CONs

  • Very lightly armoured -- can take citadel hits through the bow from 356mm rifles.
  • Limited fields of fire on her #3 turret.
  • Short range on primary armament of 12.9km.
  • Effectiveness of secondaries limited as they are also short ranged at 3.5km.
  • Poor AA compliment.
  • Poor torpedo defense, including a large turning circle of 740m and weak anti-torpedo bulges.
  • Enormous surface detection range of 16.1km with her default camouflage.

 

The Ishizuchi has never been a strong vessel. When she was first introduced, her novelty was that of a Battlecruiser that would actually remain a Battlecruiser. For those unaware, the other Battlecruisers presently available in the game, Myogi, Kongo and Amagi, all get a modernization package that through research abandons their Battlecruiser roots and slaps on a host of armour. This added weight somehow doesn't affect their speed but provides them with sufficient protection at their tier. Battlecruisers are, by their design, meant to sacrifice armour for speed in order to be able to bring Battleship caliber weaponry to what would otherwise be a cruiser-fight. This should enable them to keep pace with the fast flowing action of the lighter ships and bring a knock out punch to such engagements.

In the Ishizuchi's case, she has always had the speed and she certainly has the Battleship quality armament. But as mentioned above, she alone (and any stock Kongo-class or Myogi-class you encounter) will be the only Battleship lacking in armour. In order to balance this, Wargaming recently provided a buff to help her bring the pain and outgun some of her opponents. But was it enough?

 

  The game has changed significantly since I last looked at the Ishizuchi. She's received a considerable buff in 0.5.5. More importantly, perhaps, she no longer suffers the long range predations of cruisers with the Advanced Fire Training skill extending their 152mm rifles.
 
Primary Armament
The Ishizuchi is armed with ten 305mm rifles arranged between five, two-gun turrets. Two turrets are positioned in a superfiring position forward. The other three are aft with the number four and five turrets arranged in a superfiring position while the number three turret is on the same level as the number four with restricted fields of fire as a result. This gives her four guns able to fire directly forward, four guns able to fire directly aft. While angled, she's able to bring eight guns to bear easily enough with her #3 turret again being the black sheep that can cover most of the rear but struggles to traverse to an aggressive forward facing. Unmasking her often requires the Ishizuchi to expose more of her broadside than is safe.
 
The handling of these guns is comfortable enough. Their rotation speed is a curious 4.3'/s which works out to a 180' turn clocking in at 41.9s. When combined with the Expert Marksman Captain skill, this becomes a much more round 5.0'/s or 36s for a 180' rotation (it's almost like Wargaming planned it that way -- not suspicious at all!). Aside from fighting with the poor gun angles on the #3 turret, bringing these guns to bear is easy enough and feels responsive for a Battleship. She can out turn her turrets, however.

The armour penetration (AP) rounds of the Ishizuchi are lacking. That's the bad news. They have an 8000hp alpha strike -- 300 damage behind those of the American 305mm guns and 600 damage behind those of the Russian. These have a decent muzzle velocity of 831m/s which are faster than the shells from the Imperator Nikolai I but slightly slower than the American shells. However, as the lightest of the three, the Ishizuchi's shells bleed speed faster over distance and at ranges of 12km, will take over 7.5 seconds to reach their target. This overall gives them less penetrating power than those of the American or Russian shells, with less kinetic energy delivered with their impact at range. And hold onto that range thought while we talk about high explosive shells for a moment. The good news is that the Ishizuchi absolutely dominates the other Battleships when it comes to her high explosive armament. Her shells hit 20% harder than the American or Russian shells. They have a 32% chance to start a fire.

It gets even better. The Ishizuchi, while only have 10 guns to the 12 of the Wyoming-class and Imperator Nikolai I, puts out shells every 25 seconds. This was the buff she received in 0.5.5. This allows her to put out 2.4 rounds per minute per gun. Though it may not sound like much on paper, in practice it allows you to take advantage of ammunition swaps much more comfortably to take advantage of opportunities like recognizing when an enemy battleship has blown their Damage Control Party to set them ablaze with conflagrations that will get their full burn. High Explosive is sounding more and more fun for this ship, doesn't it?

I asked you to hold onto that range thought for a reason. The Ishizuchi has a maximum range of 12.9km. That's it. In her Matchmaking spread (tiers 3 through 5), she is out-ranged by half of the cruisers she will face and all of the Battleships except those at tier 3. This is actually a better environment for her than when she was first introduced, with all of the cruisers (with a few exceptions) being unable to extend their range even further through the use of Advanced Fire Training from a well skilled Captain. But this precludes the Ishizuchi from ever engaging a target that cannot fire back. With her surface detection range of over 16km, they will always have the opportunity to see you coming. In the case of some of the more fleet footed enemies, they can begin kiting you too, preventing you from bringing your weapons to bear.

This effectively means that while the Ishizuchi's guns are decent (her AP is meh, her HE is great), you'll never get any free bites of the apple. Anytime you engage an enemy, they have every opportunity to fight back. The Ishizuchi cannot fight from the rear. She needs to be in harms way to do damage with her fast reloading guns. And as we'll see later, this will come back to haunt her.
 

The Ishizuchi and Imperator Nikolai I, working on close tandem. These two tier 4 premium Battleships could not be more different with their gunnery and performance if they tried.

Secondary Armament
Like all IJN Battleships, the Ishizuchi has a very handsome secondary gun battery compliment. And like all low tier battleships, this is so painfully short ranged that the quality of her guns feels wasted. The bad news is that their engagement range is limited to 3.5km -- this can be extended up to 4.2km with Advanced Fire Training on your Captain which is a little better. Add a signal and you almost reach a respectable distance of 4.4km. But what does this get you?
 
This puts eight 152mm case-mate mounted rifles and three dual-purpose 76mm deck guns per side onto a target. This ratio is a bit unfortunate. The 152mm rifles fire armour piercing rounds every 10s with 2900 alpha strike while the 76mm rifles put out a 1300 damage high explosive round every 3 seconds or so. I usually prefer high explosive rounds for my secondaries -- they don't bounce and they have a chance of starting fires even with zero-damage impacts. Still, the AP can surprise people and the lower caliber does have a chance of causing 900 damage penetrating hits if it strikes a target properly. But like her main armament, you're going to struggle to get these in range. And when you do, it's likely to be up against destroyers that you're going to wish weren't quite so close.
 
Overall, you can't expect the Ishizuchi's secondaries to do you much in the way of favours. They won't start many fires. When they do hit, they'll probably over penetrate or bounce.
 
Maneuverability
With her long, sleek hull, the Ishizuchi is a fast Battleship. Flat out, she can reach 27.5 knots, which is more than respectable for low tiers, especially on the small maps she normally finds herself. This allows her an incredible degree of flexibility -- or it would if her guns had more range. As it is, this top speed allows you to close to within gun range with most targets, though the more agile cruisers will still be able to keep you at a distance. This speed can get you into trouble if you're not careful as you can outpace the other dreadnoughts in your fleet and put yourself up on the firing line as the first priority target for the Red fleet. This is especially the case given her large surface detection range (but more on that later).
 
At 740m, her turning circle is on the large side and her 12.9s rudder shift isn't good either. This makes her feel like a large vessel -- or at least a clumsy one. Narrow channels can be a challenge to navigate and there are non quite so narrow as the tracks between torpedoes. The Ishizuchi is a battleship that requires you make preemptive maneuvers well in advance to throw off torpedoes from aircraft and ships. Once you commit to a turn, you won't be able to flex out of it very well.

The Ishizuchi has just enough agility to foil automatic drops by Tier 4 Carriers, provided she continually turns into the approaching planes. Manual drops, however, are a different matter entirely.
 
Durability and Defense
Oh boy, where to start? Let's start with the really bad news and work our way towards the not-quite-so-bad. Supposedly the Ishizuchi saw some improvements to the durability of her modules. But these are minor enough to not be noticed in the grand scheme of things.
  • The Ishizuchi is spotted from the surface at 16.1km with her premium camouflage (almost 17km without). This is positively enormous for such a short ranged Battleship and it precludes you from ever being able to get the drop on a target.

  • The anti-aircraft guns are limited to the six dual-purpose 76mm rifles found on her deck. Yeah, there's not even someone up in the crow's nest with a pistol to help see off enemy aircraft. These are short ranged at a mere 3.0km stock and do a pittance of damage. You won't be shooting down planes without a lot of help. And her clumsy maneuvering makes her easy prey for any CV player's manual torpedo drops. You can expect to eat at least one fish every drop and more likely two or three if they know their craft.

  • And her armour is terrible. True to her Battlecruiser roots, she has sacrificed a lot of armour protection in favour of speed and this shows. Her "armoured" citadel has just over 200mm protecting it, compared to the 305mm found on similarly armed Battleships. With angling, this should keep your citadel proof from cruiser-caliber weapons, though take care around the hyper-penetration rounds of the IJN 203mm found on the Furutaka, the 152mm found on the Konigsberg and the 180mm on the Kirov. Against Battleships, it's utterly insufficient. Even modest angling will still see shells slam through the barbettes and into the citadel when shots are placed beneath her turrets, especially when you start facing against 356mm armed vessels like the New York, Texas and Kongo-sisters. You can also expect to take a lot of damage from high explosive shells.

  • Her anti-torpedo bulges, such as they are, provide a minimal reduction of 7% to torpedo damage. I'm surprised she even has them as the stock Kongo does without. So small miracle, I suppose.

  • She has the standard Japanese Battleship Damage Control party. This has the shortest active period of all of the nations (except the Warspite) at 10s with the same long cooldown that all Battleships (except the Warspite -- you special snowflake, you) that can be as much as two minutes. Fires love burning on this ship.

  • And finally, the goodish news. She has 45,700hp. This is the same as a fully upgraded Myogi which is a ton. It's more than the Wyoming-class, more than the Imperator Nikolai I. Worse comes to worse, you can always ram your Ishizuchi into something and do a massive amount of damage to whatever is presently frustrating you. Just be ready for the inevitable flooding that will result. Still, quite satisfying!
Sounds like a whole lot of bad news, doesn't it? It's sadly not an over exaggeration or an undue emphasis on the Ishizuchi's flaws. With the short range of her guns, she must place herself in harms way. Unlike other Battleships, short of an impressive hit point total, she just doesn't have the durability to tough it out. You'll want to lead from the front to get your weapons to bear and this is exactly the wrong place to be. As soon as you start taking fire, you have to pull back, but doing so exposes her vulnerable sides and can spell disaster just as quickly as if you attempted to ride out the worst of the shell and torpedo storm and try and out DPM your opponents. It seldom ends well.
 
The one solution would seem to be to use the cover of islands to slip closer to your enemies. The Ishizuchi does this well, despite her clumsy rudder shift and turning. However, if there are any destroyers (particularly IJN Destroyers or a Gremyashchy) lurking in among those islands, you're just as dead. And you're downright out of luck if an enemy CV looks at you. Overall, her fragility is an exercise in frustration.
 
It should be noted that she only sees a maximum of tier 5 opponents.  This isn't special matchmaking -- this is a trait shared by all tier 4 battlewagons with one exception.  The Imperator Nikolai I can see tier 6 ships.  So I guess things could have been worse for the Ishizuchi.

The Ishizuchi is one of those ships that would benefit greatly from draw-distance reductions brought on by inclement weather. This would make her short gun range and enormous surface visibility less of a combined liability.

Overall Impressions
So the question thus becomes: Are the Ishizuchi's upgraded 2.4rpm guns and 27.5 knot top speed worth the frustration of her lack of armour and anti aircraft armament? Did the recent buffs "fix" this vessel? Not in this author's opinion. I very much want to like this ship but she's not good. She really isn't. She has some nice qualities but she doesn't excel anywhere except her reload rate and this doesn't translate into a winning formula because of the shoddy performance of other qualities of her guns.

At least she's not a frustrating vessel to play. And this isn't to say that you can't get some impressive results with it. Though the limits of her range are a bit of a nuisance, her guns perform decently. The fast reload is fun. You can still get some wonderful shots in, like being able to delete a cruiser in a single volley when you blow out her citadel from beneath her. The Ishizuchi feels like it should be able to perform and it can, but it's an uphill battle. It requires the perfect storm of exemplary play and either a good team or downright negligence on the part of the Reds.

I understand why she's a premium and what qualities she's supposed to provide to the IJN line as a "true" WWI era Battlecruiser. But sadly, that hasn't translated well into World of Warships. It is her fragility, not her firepower and not her speed that remains the primary emphasis and defining trait of this ship. And this colours my impressions of her.

Would I Recommend?
No, I wouldn't. If you like IJN Battleship play, this ship should be compared closer to the Myogi or Kawachi than to anything that comes after. Unless you harbour some fond memories of tier 4 Battleship play in your Myogi, then stay clear of the Ishizuchi. She's a difficult ship to do well in and she will not help you win games. With the difficulties in inflicting damage (or surviving long enough to do said damage), it's going to be difficult for her to make credits and earn experience for you.

Recommended Modules:
As a tier 4 Battleship, the Ishizuchi has two upgrade slots.

  • For your first slot, Main Battery Modification 1 is the only one that makes sense.
  • For your second slot, you have a choice. As the Ishizuchi receives a lot of citadel hits, you may want to consider investing in Propulsion Modification 1 to provide a boost to her engine's durability. The old standby of Damage Control Systems Modification 1 is alright though.
Recommended Consumables:
Battleships benefit greatly from the use of premium consumables, what with the long cooldown time of their Damage Control Party. Similarly, a premium version of her Repair Party will provide you with an extra recharge, earning her back just over 6000hp. However, keep in mind that using these premium consumables eats into the credits earned which can negate one of the reasons for owning a premium warship in the first place -- which is to make bank.

Her camouflage provides the standard 3% concealment increase and 4% accuracy disruption. As a tier 4 ship, she gains 30% extra experience from this.

The Ishizuchi is sometimes called the "baby Amagi", sharing much in common with her tier 8 sister, including speed, gun arrangement and weak armour.  Her heritage is especially noticeable when you look at stock versions of the Kongo and Amagi before they received their modernization upgrades.

Recommended Captain Skills:
If you choose to run a dedicated Captain (or merely want to know the optimal skills), I would recommend the following:

  • From Tier 1, Basics of Survivability is your best bet. IJN Battleships are particularly vulnerable to fire criticals and this will help reduce the amount of time you're under a full burn.
  • At tier 2, Expert Marksman is your best investment. This will reduce her turret rotation down to 36s for 180' turn.
  • I really like to stress the durability on my Dreadnoughts, so Superintendent at tier 3 is my recommendation. This provides you an extra charge of your Repair Party which (if you survive long enough to use it) is an extra potential 6000hp for your Ishizuchi. Alternatively, High Alert is a good purchase to reduce the reset timer of your Damage Control Party.
  • There really aren't very good skills at tier 4. Advanced Fire Training helps a little. This increases your secondary gun battery range up to 4.2km which is okay. Demolition Expert will nudge up your HE main battery rounds to a 35% chance to start a fire which is also okay, but not great. The other skills are hardly worth considering.
  • At tier 5, you're again faced with many not-very-good choices. Concealment Expert will drop your surface detection range from 16.1km to 13.9km which still isn't enough. Jack of All Trades is probably your best bet, but it's not the best investment of 5pts in my opinion.
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