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Premium Ship Review Scharnhorst8/8/2016 12:29:29 PM
Published By: LittleWhiteMouse

Please be aware that all of the statistics and performance discussed in this post reflect the version of the ship as she appeared during the testing period.

These are subject to change before release. 

 
The Tier 7 German Battlecruiser
Scharnhorst
"The perfect drug."
 
Quick Summary:  A brawling Battleship with a smaller caliber, quick-firing armament, yet still with a battleship's (in)accuracy.  A specialized ship, she boasts good armour, speed and some nasty surprises in the form of deck-mounted torpedo launchers.
Cost: Undisclosed at the time of writing this article.
Patch & Date Written: 08.01.2016 through to 08.07.2016 , Patch 0.5.9 to 0.5.9.1

Closest in-Game Contemporary:  Tirpitz
Degree of Similarity: Clone / Sister-Ship / Related Class / Similar Role / Unique
In many respects, the Scharnhorst feels like a mini-Tirpitz -- and it should.  The Scharnhorst-class preceded the Bismarck-class, so there's a lot of overlap between the two.  Smaller caliber battleship guns than you would expect for her tier?  Check.  Faster reload to compensate?  Check.  Good armour scheme?  Check.  Deck mounted torpedoes?  Check.  We have a winner!
 
PROs:
  • Battleship caliber guns that reload in 20s.
  • Fast turret rotation speed for a Battleship of 7.2'/s.
  • Good shell velocity from guns at 890m/s.
  • Decent range at 19.9km which can be extended with a spotter aircraft consumable to
  • Excellent secondary battery compliment with good range of 5.0km.
  • Has rather quick-reloading torpedoes (!)
  • Decent AA compliment with a heavy punch out to 5.0km with 105mm guns.
  • Fast at 30.0knots.
CONs:
  • 283mm guns often foiled by Battleship armour leading to many ricochets, especially at range.
  • Alpha strike of 283mm AP shells is lacking at 7,600 damage.
  • For such a fast reload, she does not have good DPM, being instead only marginally better than other tier 7 Battleships.
  • Very poor HE shell with 3,200 damage and 20% fire chance.
  • Accuracy of guns is lacking.  Poor dispersion values that feel very pronounced at range.
  • Guns easily knocked out at medium-ranges.
  • Lacking in close-range AA power.
  • Large turning circle of 800m. 
 
They're heeeeeere! The Scharnhorst's release is the forerunner of the upcoming and highly anticipated German Battleship launch. 
 
She has too much armour to be a Battlecruiser and she doesn't have big enough guns to be a Battleship.  What the heck is this monstrosity?  Well, it's the Scharnhorst.  
 
Options

There's no unexpected surprises when it comes to the Schanrhorst's options.   Her Damage Control Party is standard for German Battleships (120s reset timer, 15s up time) and so is her Repair Party (heals a maximum of 14% of your starting HP).

Consumables: Three slots
  • Damage Control Party
  • Repair Party
  • Your choice of a Spotting Aircraft or Float Plane Fighter.

Module Upgrades: Four slots, standard German options.
Premium Camouflage: Tier 6+ standard. This provides 50% bonus experience gains, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy.

 
Firepower

Primary Battery: 283mm guns in 3x3 turrets in an A-B-X arrangement.
Secondary Battery:   105mm guns in 7x2 turrets, 150mm guns in 4x1 turrets and 150mm guns in 4x2 turrets.
Torpedoes:  533mm G7aT1 torpedoes in 2x3 launchers, one on each side amidships.

I keep wanting to compare the Scharnhorst main battery to that of a heavy cruiser.  But I can't.  I like heavy cruiser guns.  I don't like the guns on the Scharnhorst.  I expect a lot of polarized opinions about her main armament.  She has some excellent characteristics and then some very poor ones too. For a battleship, she has fast firing guns with good handling, good range and a good shell velocity. But this is countered by her relatively poor shell damage, poor penetration and poor accuracy. 
 
The Good:  
These guns have some pretty phenomenal traits, including a 20 second reload and a 7.2'/s turret rotation speed -- both of which are downright insane.  Added onto this, she has good range of 19.9km and an excellent muzzle velocity of 890m/s on her shells.  In addition, she has the option for using a float plane which can further boost her reach up to 23.90km.  With traits like this, it's easy to start getting excited.
 
The Bad:
Her lower caliber guns really struggle to deal with Battleship-armour. You're going to bounce a lot of AP shells fired at enemy Battleships at ranges over 12km, especially when they angle even slightly. Her 283mm rifles can only overmatch 19mm worth of plate which isn't very commonplace at her tier and is limited to only a handful of cruisers and most destroyers. Added onto this, the Scharnhorst has very typical German HE rounds. They have a poor chance of starting a fire for a Battleship caliber shell -- a mere 20%. In addition, her alpha strike with individual shells is an anemic 3200. This is a rather telling weakness of the ship: You don't want to duel with enemy Battleships if you can help it. They're too tough a nut to crack.  
 
Furthermore, as good as her reload is, she doesn't have monstrous maximum AP DPM for a Battleship either, with only a 3.3% increase over that of the Colorado (which was never known for having great DPM in the first place). With smaller alpha strikes of 7,600hp per shell, citadel hits are far less catastrophic yet just as challenging to place -- and sometimes more so due to her poor penetration values at range. To sink a ship, you're going to have to rely on landing multiple salvos to keep pace with the throughput the more heavily armed Battleships.
 
The Ugly:  
Unlike the last premium Battleships we enjoyed, the Scharnhorst does not appear to have amazing accuracy.  The German ships, when mapped on a graph, have marginally worse shot dispersion than that of the USN.   This puts the German Battleship line as one with the largest linear dispersion in the game.  Her accuracy felt very much like a "traditional" battleship to me.  It will frustrate you at times and deliver some impressive hits on others.  But do expect to see a lot of wonky shots coming out of her guns.
 
It's this last part that really hurts the Scharnhorst's prospects of being a workhorse at all ranges.  She needs to close the distance to make her guns perform with some form of approaching reliability.  When you combine it with bad penetration, well, it gets difficult to feel that your guns are performing well.  Unlike other Battleships, her guns don't really work against all-comers.  Angled heavy cruisers and most Battleships shrug off a lot of the damage you try and push out.  I have found myself reaching for HE against these opponents and trying to use her reload to set their decks ablaze in multiple locations.  But her accuracy makes this much more difficult than it would be in a heavy cruiser.
 
If you treat her as having a heavy-cruiser's armament (minus the accuracy) and remember to switch ammo based on what you're shooting at, you'll do well.
 
 The Scharnhorst's triple 11" guns go to work. Gotta love the disturbance caused on the water by their muzzle blast.
 
But let's step away from her primaries and look at her other weapon systems.  A cursory glance over the Scharnhorst shows that her secondaries have a 5.0km base range -- which is great news.  In terms of weapon load out, it's lighter than the Nagato but still impressive.  She has a total of seven dual 105mm batteries with a fast rate of fire (three to each side and one mounted on the center line facing the stern) and a total of eight 150mm turrets mounting either a single or dual guns.  Both guns have a good chance of starting a fire at 8% for the 105mm and 7% for the 150mm (yes, really).  They're set up to attack ships alongside the Scharnhorst which isn't perfectly ideal, but it's certainly still usable.  Upgraded, this could become quite formidable.
 
Lastly, there are her torpedoes.  
 
Yes, the Scharnhorst gets torpedoes.  At 14,600 alpha damage, a 6.0km range and 64 knot top speed, they should look familiar.  She's firing the same G7aT1 533mm torpedo as the Tirpitz.  Getting close to the Scharnhorst isn't quite the death sentence as it would be with her bigger sister -- at least, not at first.  On each side, she has triple launchers instead of the quads found on the second Bismarck-class Battleship. Where these get particularly mean, however, is their reload time.  It's a mere 60s -- or three volleys from her guns if you want to think of it another way.  This is 30s faster than the Tirpitz, which means just because you dodged one salvo, it doesn't mean you're safe.
 
The Scharnhorst can and will fire again if you don't get out of range or sink her.  Never let her get close unless it's to secure the kill.
 
Fish in the water. Like the Tirpitz, the Scharnhorst has two torpedo launches amidships with excellent fields of fire backed by an impressive secondary gun battery. You have been warned.
 
Maneuverability

Top Speed: 30.0 knots.
Turning Radius:
800m
Rudder Shift:
14.5s

 The Scharnhorst has some very long legs.  At 30.0 knots, she is the fastest Battleship at her tier presently.  This also allows her to (relatively) keep pace with some of the Fast-Battleships that make up the higher tiered vessels at tiers 8 and 9, along with their cruiser escorts.  This good top speed is important, particularly with the issues with her gunnery.  It's important for her to close the distance when engaging enemy Battleships as fast as she can to make her 283mm rifles count.
 
Still, speed can kill.  It's important not to out-strip your allies when you're top tier and move with the fleet where necessary to prevent your ship from getting shot out from underneath you.  This is especially important in the early stages of the match when enemy destroyers, particularly the long range torpedo boats that frequent her matchmaking spread, are still up and hunting.
 
The Scharnhorst does not turn well.  Her 800m turning circle feels sluggish.  Her 14.5s rudder shift time is average, but she won't change directions quickly.  Her good top speed does mean that once she does finally begin a turn, she can come about to a new heading quickly enough as she motors through her circumference.  One good note should be that she doesn't lose half her speed in the turn like historical counterpart did.  So yay.
 
It should be noted that her ridiculously fast turret rotation means that you'll never throw your turrets off target, even in a hard turn.  This is downright amazing and it really makes the Scharnhorst a comfortable battleship to play.
 
 
The Scharnhorst can quickly redeploy with its 30 knot top speed. However, it doesn't turn quickly. While islands can help her get close to enemies, she doesn't turn particularly well and she's easily blindsided by torpedoes.

Durability

Hit Points:  56,300
Citadel Protection: Up to 350mm + turtleback
Bow Armour:  25mm (immunity to 356mm rifles)
Torpedo Damage Reduction: 24%

 The vaunted durability of the Tirpitz isn't quite repeated in the Scharnhorst.  She shares a lot of similarities with her higher tiered sister, including strong transverse bulkheads and good citadel protection with a thick armoured belt and slanted turtleback shields to help deflect shells away from her magazines and machinery.  This armour can be downright trollish when it comes to preventing citadel penetrations -- particularly from 356mm rifles.  But overall?  Don't believe the hype.  Her durability starts to fall away when she's staring down 380mm and 410mm guns which are all too commonplace in her matchmaking spread.
 
 Her prow and forward waterline isn't as thickly armoured as the Bismarck-class.  At 25mm (as opposed to 32mm on the Bismarck-class), she can't repel shells of 380mm or greater.  As a result, she can (and will) often be penetrated through her nose when on a head-on approach towards an enemy battlewagon.  In fact, you can expect to take a lot of penetrating hits in this ship.  The sandwiches of her armour plates are great at catching and preventing overpenetrations, so damage can stack up quickly when you're under fire.  
 
In addition, her turret armour isn't quite as good as advertised.  Only the frontal face of her turret is 350mm.  The sloped frontal surface is 150mm and rather vulnerable to incoming rounds from medium range.  You'll find that your guns are frequently taking damage in the Scharnhorst and it's not a pleasant experience.  
 
She doesn't hold up well to torpedoes either, with a rather minimal anti-torpedo bulge which mitigates less than a quarter of the damage to blows striking her amidships.
 
Her Damage Control Party has a 15s immunity window with the normal reset timer of 120s / 90s.  This appears to be the standard for German Battleships (unlike the 20s immunity window for the Americans or the 10s immunity window for the Japanese).  Her Repair Party also is normal enough, healing up to a maximum of 7,882hp per charge under ideal circumstances.
 
Overall, her armour is really good, it's just not amazing.  You can easily bully tier 5 & 6 Battleships (except the Warspite) with just a little angling.  It's only once you face those bigger gunned ships at tier 7 or higher that you need to start being careful.

Concealment & Camouflage

15.7km Surface Detection, 12.4km Air Detection

 The Scharnhorst is a Battleship, and it really shouldn't come as any surprise that she's visible from a long ways out.  In practice, she's just slightly easier to hide than a stock Tirpitz.
 
Slightly.
 
Bow on, the Scharnhorst can easily bounce 356mm rounds, such as those being desperately fired by the Kongo she's pursuing in this picture. She loses this ability against 380mm rifles or larger, found on ships like the Warspite and any Battleship tier 7 or higher.

Anti-Aircraft Defense

AA Battery Calibers: 105mm, 37mm, 20mm
AA Umbrella Ranges: 4.5km, 3.5km, 2.0km
AA DPS per Aura:  116hp, 51hp, 30hp

 The anti-aircraft firepower for the Scharnhorst is interesting.  At a glance, it appears to be on par with that of the Nagato, but the power of the auras is quite queer.  Everything is front loaded into the 105mm dual-purpose guns.  She has very little in the way of small and medium caliber weapons to shred planes that get in close.  This forces her to rely on the power of her slow-firing artillery to swat down planes.
The good news is that you'll inflict casualties early on approaching aircraft.  The bad news is that the rate at which enemy aircraft are shot down doesn't really accelerated beyond that initial point of contact.  
 
And interesting side effect of this reliance on her large caliber guns is that this works very well with the oft-neglected Manual Targeting for AA Armament Captain Skill.  This effectively more than doubles her long rage DPS when you focus your guns onto an attack plane squadron, giving the Scharnhorst over 240dps against focused planes outside of 3.5km.  This won't create an impenetrable wall, but it will do considerable damage to same-tier attack planes.  You can expect to shoot down at least one plane on approach -- often two before they drop their ordinance.
 
The Scharnhorst has the option of using a float-plane fighter and I strongly recommend you do.  This provides an additional 55dps but moreover, it will spook whatever attack planes it glues itself to.  Given the large turning circle of your ship, this can be invaluable for trying to dodge the spread of torpedoes launched at you from torpedo planes.
 
 The Scharnhorst has interesting, but not necessarily powerful overall AA values. It's important for her to work with other ships to overlap her AA power to help stave off enterprising attack runs by CVs. Here she works in close concert with two other Battleships in loose formation to help punish some dive bombers sent by a Ranger.

Overall Impressions

Mouse's Summary:

  • Gun handling is phenomenal.  Gun performance, not so much.
  • Secondaries and torpedoes work like a dream.
  • Very obviously a brawler, wanting to be within 12km or less to make the most of her weapons.
  • Armour is good, but not great.  You're not going to bounce many 380+mm guns, so expect to trade hp and lose gun mounts.
  • Excellent when top tier, but more challenging to play when not.

The Scharnhorst is a monster when she's top tier.  She may even be a little overpowered for a tier 7.  However, in World of Warships, there's such a big step to get up to tier 8 that she doesn't fit alongside the Tirpitz.  She couldn't compete with the North Carolina or Amagi.  It's no wonder there was so many rumours coming out from the testing period about how powerful she might be.  Even I bought into the hype.  When I was finally able to get my hands on this ship, after only a couple of games, I thought she was a demon and would skew the balance at her tier.

 It took some time to play with her before I began to appreciate her weaknesses.  
 
I come off harshly decrying her (in)accuracy in the firepower section, but let me set the record straight here:  her accuracy isn't awful.  I'm going to guess the sigma modifier of her guns is probably around 1.6 to 1.8.  For those of you who follow things, this would put her accuracy almost on par with the Arizona -- a ship whose accuracy I praised.  The difference is that with her poor penetration and smaller caliber of shell, a lot more hits ricochet.  A lot more hits fail to penetrate.  On a per volley basis, I found it more difficult to land solid damaging hits until I really closed the distance.
 
Her armour is good.  It's just not amazing like the Tirpitz.  She has a lot of the same values as the Bismarck-class' armour scheme.  When she angles, she's going to foil a lot of attempts to damage her citadel.  I was disappointed that she didn't enjoy the same bow-on immunity the Tirpitz can when facing 410mm or 380mm guns when charging her opponents at medium to close range in order to use her fish.  She could still pull this off against most tier 5 an 6 battleships though, and this ability shouldn't be downplayed.  
 
So her guns need time to work and her armour will buy you that very time you need. Overall, that's a pretty good combination.  Tag on the nice little extras like great speed, torpedoes, excellent gun handling, and that curious but workable AA power and it's no wonder she was such a difficult ship to balance.  The hype train has reason to be excited.
 
The Scharnhorst is a really good ship.
 
 Cut from the same cloth.

Would I Recommend? 

 Hopefully you've made it this far and you have appreciated the fact that she doesn't have everything her own way.  Her guns aren't amazing (or are they!?) and she's not built Tirpitz-tough (or is she!?).  But she's still a good boat. How good though?
  • For Random Battle Grinding:

I honestly feel that the Tirpitz is the better ship to get between the two.  This doesn't make the Scharnhorst a bad Captain Trainer or credit earning vessel.  She'll certainly cost-less than the Tirpitz, being a tier lower, but maybe not appreciably less.  On games where you're top tier, you're going to earn a butt-ton of credits and experience.  When you're not, you're going to have to adjust your play somewhat.  If you can wrap your mind around that, you'll have a blast playing this rather unique boat.

  • For Competitive Gaming:

 I don't feel like the Scharnhorst would have worked well in Season 4 of Ranked Battles.  Her guns really struggle to stack alpha strikes and I believe the long-range, smoke-camping meta wouldn't have played to her strengths.  Still, good players would be able to make her work and she certainly has an interesting toolkit.  Her vulnerability to 410mm rifles and inability to stack damage quickly might just be a little too much to bear, though.

  • For Collectors:

For the love of toast, yes.  It's the Scharnhorst for crying out loud.  History!  Read it!  Blargh!

  • For Fun Factor:

 Yes, yes and yes.  Frustrating as her guns can be, there's something so cathartic about dumping fish into a battleship that was trying to bully you, thinking herself immune to your shells.  Reality check! 

Outfitting your Scharnhorst

Recommended Modules

You've got some interesting options when it comes to kitting out your Scharnhorst.

  • For your first slot, I would recommend grabbing Main Armaments Modification 1.  Your primary batteries will take a pounding and you will lose your guns often.  Don't make it easier on your opponents.

  • For the second slot, here's where you start getting some interesting choices.  The best will always be Aiming Systems Modification 1 as this improves the performance of your main battery, along with providing a small increase to your secondaries and the handling of your torpedoes.

    However, if you want to emphasize your secondaries, Secondary Battery Modification 2 will give them a big boost.  With a combination of Captain Skills, you can make your secondaries rather frightening.

    Alternatively, I could also recommend AA Guns Modification 2 if you really hate carriers and want to really play up to the long-range strengths of her 105mm guns.  This last one is probably the least efficient module to install, but it's still feasible based on your preferences.

  • For your third slot, they're all terrible!  No, really.  Pick whatever you want.  I usually take Damage Control System Modification 1.  It's not that good, but none of the choices really are.

  • Lastly, for your final slot, you again have the choice.  I prefer Damage Control System Modification 2 to help reduce the duration of fires.  I find this helps take the strain off my Damage Control Party consumable.  However, Steering Gears Modification 2 isn't a bad choice either to reduce her rudder shift time.

 Looking towards the future.

 
Recommended Consumables

As a Battleship, I have to stress taking a premium version of her Damage Control Party.  This keeps the same immunity period of 15s but it reduces the reset timer from 120s to 80s.  I also find value in the premium version of her Repair Party to reduce the reset timer for similar reasons.

For her plane consumable, I would recommend her Catapult Fighter over her Spotter Aircraft.  The Scharnhorst's guns don't perform particularly well at range, so the boost provided by the Spotter feels superfluous to me.

Recommended Captain Skills

You've got some real choices to make for your Captain Skills with the Scharnhorst.  Personally, I think this is a great thing.  While there are some obvious best-skills to pick, you can trade a little optimization for some very fun situational skills. 
  • For the first tier, there's two good skills to consider.  Basic Fire Training is important because it will boost your AA power and increase the rate of fire of your secondaries -- both which are nice things to have on the Scharnhorst.  Basics of Survivability is also well worthwhile to help reduce damage caused by fire and flooding.  Combined with Damage Control System Modification 2, this will reduce a single fire burn from just over 10,000hp worth of damage to roughly 7,400 damage.  This value lines up with a single charge of your Repair Party consumable.

  • At the second tier, unlike most Battleships, you won't need Expert Marksman.  This will only increase your turret rotation by 0.39'/s.  This is still a safe skill to have, but it doesn't pay as big dividends as it does with other battleships.  Instead, if you're feeling cheeky, I would go for Torpedo Armament Expertise.  This will reduce her torpedo reload from it's already quick 60s down to 54s.

  • At the third tier, you've got a choice.  Superintendent looks nice on the surface as it will give you an extra charge of your Repair Party, but you're unlikely to ever need more than 3 to 4 charges per battle.  Vigilance is nice to help spot incoming torpedoes.  High Alert is also highly desirable to reduce your Damage Control Party reset timer from 120s / 80s down to 108s / 72s.

  • There are, again, three good skills to grab at tier 4.  Advanced Fire Training is hands down, the best of the three.  This will boost both your AA range and Secondary gun battery range -- with the latter alone allowing your secondaries to reach as far as your torpedoes, which is a nice overlap.  Demolition Expert isn't anywhere close to being as good, but it will give a nice boost to your fire chance, bringing it up to 23% per shell.  Lastly, and perhaps most interestingly, with so much of her AA power resting on the strength of her 105mm, Manual Fire Control for AA Armament is pretty good too.

  • There's only two skills I feel worth considering for the Scharnhorst at this tier.  Manual Fire Control for Secondary Armament is probably the more interesting of the two.  As a tier 7 ship, the Scharnhorst enjoys the full bonus this skill provides.  If you've heavily upgraded your secondaries already, then this may be worthwhile.  The alternative is Jack of All Trades, to drop the reset timer on your Repair Party and Damage Control Party.  This is a safe skill to grab, even if it is a little boring.
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