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Premium Ship Review Perth11/4/2016 11:59:53 AM
Published By: LittleWhiteMouse

The Squid.

Quick Summary:  A shorter ranged, sneakier Leander-class Cruiser with HE shells and a weird smoke generator consumable.
Patch & Date Written: 0.5.13.1, November 2nd, 2016
 
Closest in-Game Contemporary
Leander, Tier 6 British Cruiser
Degree of Similarity: Clone / Sister-Ship / Related Class / Similar Role / Unique

The HMAS Perth was a modified version of the Leander-class cruiser.  The primary difference was an improved propulsion system.  In game, this is easy to see with the different funnel layout with the Perth having two to the Leander's one.  Here's a quick summary on how the two ships vary:
  •  Hull: The Perth has an improved armour scheme but less overall hit points. 
  •  Weapons:  Perth has access to HE shells.  While she has AP, her fuse timers and arming thresholds are nowhere near as forgiving as those found on British cruisers.  Her ricochet angles are less generous.  The Perth is also shorter ranged.
  •  AA Guns:  Perth has a mid-war AA armament and lacks 40mm Bofors or Vickers pom-poms.  She's quite vulnerable to aircraft attack.
  •  Agility:  Perth has slightly faster  rudder handling.
  •  Stealth:  Perth is marginally stealthier with a 200m surface detection range advantage over the Leander.
  •  Fun Stuff:  Perth's smoke generator is unique. 

PROs:
  • Though she's based on a British cruiser, she has access to HE shells.
  • She has a powerful torpedo armament, capable of doing nearly 62,000 damage per salvo.  Torpedoes may fire individually.
  • The Perth is wonderfully agile with a small turning circle of 640m and decent rudder shift time of 7.6s.  Very wiggly.
  • She has good concealment, starting with a 9.8km surface detection range with her camouflage.
  • The Perth uses the British spotter aircraft consumable.  This lasts for a full three minutes per charge as opposed to just 100s.
  • Her Smoke Generator is active for 90s, generating smoke the entire time.  This allows her to lay more smoke clouds than any other ship currently in the game.  While the individual clouds don't last very long, this thing poops out smoke for days and allows her to remain mobile while staying concealed.
CONs:
  • She cannot be used to train British Captains.  The HMAS Perth is the first of the Commonwealth ships which count as a separate nation.
  • She's very squishy, with a small hit point total and insufficient armour to provide any kind of protection from large caliber (203mm+) shells from heavy cruisers or battleships, which can overmatch her bows and deck plating with their AP shells.
  • The Perth does not have access to the special British AP shells.  She uses normal fuses and detonators, making her AP perform more akin to standard cruiser guns.  These are the same weapons as found on the HMS Belfast.
  • Her HE performance is modest at best with only a 9% chance to start a fire per shell.
  • Short ranged main battery at 12.8km.  This makes engaging certain ship types exceedingly dangerous especially at close range.
  • She is incapable of firing her main battery from concealment in open water, even when fully upgraded for stealth.  She must make use of her consumables or terrain to be able to attack without being spotted.
  • Her turret rotation speed is on the slow side at 7' per second.
  • The Perth has a poor AA compliment and does not get access to Defensive Fire.

 
Welcome to another Premium Ship Review -- the ever evolving series where the format subtly shifts and guest authors abound. Once again, Lert and NoZoupForYou join me in looking at this newest helping from the dry-docks of the Wargaming devs, the HMAS Perth.  Lert will be providing his views in a versus series while Zoup summarizes the Pros and Cons above.  Both gentleman offer their recommendations below too so you know you've got a more diverse set of opinions when basing your own decisions on whether to make your purchase.  On with the show!
 
The Lertbox

Hello and welcome to yet another Lertbox portion in a LittleWhiteMouse review. I've long since given up trying to figure out why she keeps letting me do this, but here we are. Today we'll be talking about the HMAS Perth, a modified British Leander class light cruiser, sailing under the Australian flag. In this game, she's a premium ship for the newly introduced Commonwealth nationality.

I will be writing a few short opinion pieces about how Perth compares to Cleveland, Molotov, Nurnberg and Belfast, which I believe to be a decent cross-section of direct competitors. Mouse has already written about how she compares to Leander herself.

 

The Perth shares much in common with the Leander-class, at least superficially.  But the manner in which you use her guns and smoke will largely define this new premium vessel.

Options, Upgrades & Consumables

The Perth doesn't have a lot of options, but she does have an interesting consumable.  Her Smoke Generator is unique.  It has an enormous up-time, continuing to create new smoke clouds for an astounding 90s.  To put this in perspective, this is three times longer than the previous front runner, the American tier 10 Gearing-class Destroyer (30s) and four and a half times longer than standard destroyer smoke generators (20s).  The downside to this smoke is that it each cloud she creates only lasts for a mere 10 seconds.  This precludes anyone else from trying to park in her smoke while still allowing the Perth to use her consumable offensively.  She can do this by cutting her speed down to 1/4 and walking slowly, generating new smoke as she moves.  In this manner, she remains unseen for up to 100s which is consistent with most smoke screens.  Thus the Perth has a very unique manner in which her consumable is used, allowing her to keep partially mobile.  Very fun.
 
In addition, she has access to the British Spotter Aircraft consumable. For any other nation, the normal duration for this consumable is 100s.  The Perth's spotter aircraft lasts for 180s -- a full three minutes, just like those of the UK tech tree.  Note that between her spotter aircraft (which allows her to fire from concealment in open water) and her smoke generator, the Perth can cycle offensive actions against enemy ships without being spotted.  Proper management of these consumables is key to keep out of harm's way.
 
Consumables:
  • Damage Control Party
  • Hydroacoustic Search
  • Spotter Aircraft or Catapult Fighter
  • Smoke Generator

Module Upgrades:  Four slots, standard cruiser 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:  Eight 152mm rifles in 4x2 turrets mounted in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration.
Primary Battery Fields of Fire (AB & XY):  Front: 294', 290'  Rear:  294', 288'
Secondary Battery:  Eight 102mm rifles in 4x2 turrets amidships by the rear funnel.
Torpedoes:  Eight tubes in 2x4 launchers, one to each side.
 
The Perth is armed with the same 152mm rifles -- and more importantly, the same ammunition as the HMS Belfast.  While her gun handling is identical to that of the Leander with a 7' turret rotation speed, it's this difference in ammunition that's quite telling. The Perth does not have access to the "improved" armour piercing shells of the Royal Navy.  She has a standard fuse-time, ricochet angles and detonator threshold rather than the more sensitive, deep-biting and fast-exploding shells found on the British Cruisers.  You will see a lot of over-penetrations against lightly armoured targets with your AP shells in the Perth and ricochets when they strike at oblique angles.  You're forced  to make dynamic ammunition choices in the Perth depending on your targets.
 
Like the Belfast, the Perth's HE shells are considered modest at best.  While they're superior to the HE shells found on the 150mm rifles of the Nurnberg, they're far and away inferior to the six-inch shells found on the American Cleveland, Japanese Mogami, or the Soviet Budyonny, Shchors, Chapayev & Mikhail Kutuzov cruisers.  The real downside to these shells is their low chance of setting fires for a cruiser-caliber shell at 9% per hit.  Combined with a smaller number of rifles, the Perth isn't an ideal firebug.
 
 
 
Where the Perth's main armament really hurts is their range.  She comes with a 12.8km maximum reach which is downright punitive at tier 6.  This creates a lot of problems for the ship and greatly reduces her survival chances when facing large capital ships.  She has a reliance on two of her consumables to safely engage dangerous opponents:  her Smoke Generator and her Spotter Aircraft.  With her spotter, her range increases to a more manageable 15.36km.  This will allow her to stealth-fire at targets from open water from ranges starting at 14.4km and as low as 13.4km with a 15pt Captain using Concealment Expert.  But it's her smoke from which most of her damage can be safely inflicted.  It does require a player to keep an eye on its active period and plan an extraction vector before the smoke wears off.  Using these two properly can largely mitigate her range deficiency, but each can be countered and leave the Perth dead in the water.
 
While her guns are on the lower scale of muzzle velocities, their short range ensures she's not penalized by very long lead times.  Like the Belfast, her AP shells can penetrate up to 118mm of armour at 10km so pick your ammunition types accordingly based on what you're facing.  

Like the Leander, whatever perceived disparities of the Perth's main battery are propped up by her torpedo armament.  The Perth has the same upgraded armament of the Leander with two quadruple launchers off each side, mounted just behind the rear funnel.  Like British cruisers, the Perth may fire in a salvo or launch her torpedoes individually.  With an 8.0km range and 61 knot top speed, these are wonderfully hard hitting fish at over 15,000 damage per.  The only downside to them is their range is a little lacking.  Making use of her torpedoes necessitates getting in "danger close" to the enemy.  This increases the skill threshold needed to do well in the Perth, maybe beyond the level at which many players will be comfortable. 
 

The Perth sits inside a cap circle in the early minutes of a match, smoke deployed and steaming ahead at 1/4 speed.  Her guns are hammering the approaching Red Team, lobbing high explosive shells onto the bows of Battleships and cruisers.  The Perth can often find herself as a front runner -- taking position of caps and strategic locations to put early pressure on the enemy.  Just make sure you have an escape plan in mind before engaging.  Your smoke will only last so long.
 
Rivals: vs Cleveland

Cleveland boasts more hit-points, a higher RPM, better DPM, more range, a better armor scheme and a better hidden citadel. On the surface, Perth is really the underdog here, and that's how you should approach this theoretical duel. You're not entirely without options, though. Your float plane gives you a nice boost to your range, your smoke is very tactical and can give you an edge and your torpedoes force the Cleveland to stay at range.

Both ships boast a similar top speed and agility but Cleveland has four additional guns with roughly the same ROF, and a better fire chance on her HE shells. You're not going to win a direct gunnery duel, but you can use your smoke to conceal yourself, while having your floatplane up to keep eyes on the Cleveland. If she starts getting too close, dissuade her with torpedoes, all the while keeping your fire up. A duel between a Cleveland and a Perth is not an easy fight for the Commonwealth ship, nor is it a foregone conclusion in the Cleveland's favor.

 
 
Maneuverability
Top Speed:  32.5 knots
Turning Radius:  640m
Rudder Shift:  7.6s
 
She handles like a dream. Once you drop Steering Gears Modification 2 onto the Perth, her rudder shift time drops down to 6.1s.  This gives her a destroyer-quality handling making her feel very responsive.  She definitely a light cruiser when it comes to her agility -- nice and wiggly.  It's easy to reverse course and throw off the aim of ships that are expecting you to move predictably.  She also dances to torpedo beats like a champ.
 
Speed wise, it's a bit more mixed.  While not terrible, there's nothing impressive about her 32.5 knot top speed.  However, unlike other cruisers, I found myself quite often sailing at 1/4 engine power to take full advantage of her smoke generators.  Out in the open water, though, her 32.5 knot speed is nice but she's running up against fleet footed ships such as the Scharnhorst-class.  While you can be more reactionary with her great handling, don't let yourself get run down by aggressive opponents.
 
Rivals: vs Molotov

Molotov has more powerful guns, higher range and a higher top speed, but is decidedly less agile and has a slightly weaker armor profile than Perth. Also, the Russian's torpedoes are short range self-defense ones, not even on the same level as the Australian's exploding fish. Plus, the Molotov does not get smoke, and is visible from much further. Approaching a Molotov requires patience and luck. Your AP will wreck a Molotov from the side, but be aware that she'll do the same to you if given half a chance. Fortunately, Molotov's 180mm AP is not quite big enough to overmatch your bow armor, so neither ship can lolpen the other.

I am tempted to say 'Approach the Molotov', but with the Russian ship's far superior speed this is easier said than done. The best way to engage a Molotov is to approach using stealth, then use your torpedoes to funnel him into showing you his broadside, and smacking home a salvo or two of AP. Use your smoke to disengage the now wounded Russian or finish him off in a slugging match. While he has the bigger guns, you have the better agility and both ships have similar DPM so a slugging match tends to go to whoever manages to wound the other first. And as far as that is concerned, Perth holds some pretty strong aces with its concealment, torpedoes and smoke.

 
Durability
Hit Points:  27,100
Citadel Protection:  Up to 100mm
Bow & Deck Armour:  Minimum of 13mm (immunity up to 180mm AP shells)
 
There's no way really to sugar coat this:  The Perth is really lacking in survability and protection.
 
She's on the low side for her hit point totals for a tier 6 cruiser -- she sits just above the Nurnberg in second last place.  But it's really her armour values which let her down.  The Perth has 13mm of bow and deck armour.  This is sufficient to protect her from Light Cruiser caliber AP fire.  Shells up to (and including) 180mm will bounce when she angles but anything larger will easily overmatch her.  While she does boast an impressive 100mm belt armour, it's a significant challenge to find ways to put this to work for you.  Expect to take frequent module damage and to lose weapon mounts.  In short:  don't expect the armour of the Perth to hold up under fire.
 
Her citadel, while on the smallish side, has a section that sticks up just over the water's surface which runs from beneath her first funnel to the aft superstructure.  While this would be difficult to hammer at close ranges, shells with a slight arc (such as those from a Battleship shooting at 12km out) will easily slam home.  This vulnerability becomes especially pronounced due to the short range of the Perth's weapon systems.  Like the USS Atlanta, she has to get very close to deal damage -- close enough to be inside the optimal firing ranges of Battleship and Heavy Cruiser caliber guns.
 
It's imperative, therefore, to make good use of her concealment values in conjunction with her consumables and agility to avoid damage.


The Perth plays a dangerous game with a New York-class Battleship.  Using the island, she approached within 4.0km of the American and crept out using smoke at 1/4 speed to unleash a point blank assault using high explosive shells and individually launched torpedoes.  The fish of the Perth can deliver monstrous alpha-strikes, ideal for putting down unwary ships that get too close.
 
 
Concealment & Camouflage
Surface Detection Range:  10.1km
Air Detection Range:  6.9km
Minimum Surface Detection Range:  8.62km
Concealment Penalty while Firing:  +4.56km (vs 12.8km gun range)
 
I'm of two minds about the Perth's concealment rating.  It's so good, yet at the same time, it's not quite good enough.  Right out of the box, the Perth has a 9.8km surface detection range with her premium camouflage.  I rubbed my hands with glee when I saw this value and prepared myself to write a "Perth is overpowered" review (that changed when I saw her weapon ranges).  The Perth is forever doomed to have a stealth rating that's on the cusp of excellence.  She's sneaky enough to navigate from point A to B without being spotted, but she's not sneaky enough to engage enemy targets with her weapon systems without giving her position away.
 
Perhaps I shouldn't be too critical.  Ships like the Molotov would give up their left propeller shaft for this kind of stealth, but this lack of range really hurts the Perth and makes her challenging to play -- at least until you factor in her consumables.
 
The gimmick of the Perth is her smoke generator, which is the complete opposite of the one found on the Belfast.  The Belfast suffers from performance issues when it comes to her smoke, being able to (at best) create two clouds before her generators give up the ghost.  These clouds will last for 103s, so it gives this higher tier British cruiser plenty of time to park her butt and pew pew to her heart's content.  However, they're not going to provide significant cover for friendlies, nor are they going to be of much use in trying to escape.  The Perth, by contrast, can create a maximum thirty-one clouds of smoke when moving at full speed with a signal flag to improve her engine performance.  Individually, these clouds only last for 10s which makes them useless for parking inside.  The Perth must keep moving while laying down smoke.  So too must any friendly ship looking to take advantage of this.  The values work out to the following:
 
Forward Speeds
  •  10 clouds @ 1/4 speed   (8.1 knots).  Maximum of 2 clouds active -- usually just 1.
  •  18 clouds @ 1/2 speed (16.3 knots).  Maximum of 3 clouds active -- usually just 2.
  •  30 clouds @ 3/4 speed (24.3 knots).  Maximum of 4 clouds active -- usually just 3.
  •  30 clouds @ 4/4 speed (32.6 knots).  Maximum of 4 clouds active -- usually just 3.
  •  31 clouds @ 4/4 speed + signal (34.1 knots).  Maximum of 4 clouds active -- usually just 3.
The Perth herself cannot make more than 1/4 speed and remain hidden within her smoke.  Any ships wishing to enjoy concealment with her have to be right up on her stern.  Being more than a ship length back will mean that they may end up being detected intermittently as one cloud dissipates around them as each new cloud is laid down.  It's possible for the Perth to provide smoke cover for larger ships by matching their speed as best she can and dropping smoke immediately in front while following their path.  This will preclude her from taking advantage of her smoke herself if this requires her to move over 12.5 knots, but it's a tactic worth keeping in mind.  Still, I would not expect most of her allies to appreciate the nuances of her smoke and I can foresee the Perth's smoke generator causing friendlies some grief as they try to take advantage of it only to have it disappear around them.  Players of the Perth will need to communicate directly, "Make 1/4 speed and follow me close while I lay smoke" to ensure that their team gets the most out of their consumables.
 
I must say I was disappointed to see that her premium camouflage was of the standard type found on tier 6+ ships. While I am hoping that this will be changed before release (and fed such information back to Wargaming), I am not holding my breath. The HMAS Perth counts as a Commonwealth ship and not a British ship, she's useless as a Captain Trainer. To this end, I would have preferred to see some additional effect found on the Perth's camouflage, such as the Anshan's bonus free-experience modifier or even a Captain Training bonus such as the one found on the German Prinz Eugen. 
 

Moving at full speed while deploying smoke, the Perth is able to provide concealment for this Gneisenau as she opens fire without the German Battleship having to slow down.  Unlike destroyers, she can maintain this level of concealment for over a minute and a half.  This can be up to four and a half times longer than normal smoke.  This is much easier for a Battleship to remain within than trying to stop suddenly to take advantage of a cloud dropped in her path.  With this setup, the Perth can still provide vision for the Gneisenau against enemy Battleships at range without worrying about being seen herself  so long as she keeps her guns silent, while protecting her allied BB from return fire.
 
Rivals: vs Nurnberg

The German tier 6 cruiser is a DPM monster firing very fast shells with a very flat arc. She has a vicious set of torpedoes reaching only two km less than Perth's. In a straight-up duel, she'll pummel Perth and take home the win. She's about as fast as the Commonwealth ship too, and not that much less agile. Plus, she has a far better range on her guns. The only benefits you have is better concealment, longer range torpedoes, smoke and better agility.

So how to fight a Nurnberg in a Perth? Use destroyer tactics. Use concealment. Use islands. Ambush her with your torpedoes. Use your hydroacoustic search to warn you of return torpedo fire. Harass her when she's distracted, then pop smoke sneak off into stealth when she turns her guns on you. Use your longer range torpedoes to funnel her, try to force her to make a mistake.

 
Anti-Aircraft Defense
AA Battery Calibers:  102mm, 20mm, 12.7mm
AA Umbrella Ranges:   5.0km, 2.0km, 1.2km
AA DPS per Aura:  38 / 7 / 11
Access to Defensive Fire:  Not available.
 
There's not a lot of good news here, but let's start with what's available.  The Perth has the same dual-purpose 102mm rifles found on the other mid-to-high tier British cruisers.  These have some rather nice teeth, being both long ranged (5.0km) and doing a fair amount of DPS per mount (9.5dps).  These lack some of the hitting power found on other dual-purpose turrets, such as the American 127mm (15.17dps) or the German 128mm (12.36dps), but they'll do -- especially for a mid tier ship.  Where the Perth is let down is the lack of decent medium-caliber AA guns to back this up.  Most of the British cruisers will follow up on these 102mm rifles with 40mm Bofors which are a splendid anti-aircraft weapon.  But the Perth does not get access to this or even the Vickers 2pdr pom-poms.  So while the Perth can deal a good initial slap to enemy aircraft as they wander into range, her umbrella doesn't appreciably increase in damage the closer you get.
 
Overall, this leaves her dangerously vulnerable to enemy aircraft -- particularly dive bombers.  She's nimble enough to make attacks by torpedo planes difficult but there's little defense against well aimed dive bombers, especially from ships like the Saipan.  Seeing eight Skyraiders angling against you is truly a frightening prospect in the Perth.  Keep a wary eye to the skies.  You don't have access to Defensive Fire to break up attacks.  You're not likely to have a Float Plane Fighter to assist you.  If you're caught out by yourself, you deserve what's coming.
 
 
Rivals: The Belfast

Notice how I didn't say 'versus' here, because a Perth versus a Belfast would not be a fair fight. However, many people will compare the two, as both are 'British' premiums, and both are light cruisers. Besides, they're only one tier apart. So on the surface of it they should be comparable, right?

Here it's the consumables that define each ship's playstyle and role. Both are 'support ships', yes. But where Belfast is an exemplary destroyer hunter, Perth is less so. She doesn't have radar, limiting her use in that role. Her short gun range is balanced out by the long duration on her scout plane and her hydroacoustic is useful, but she simply doesn't have the tools to counter smoke that Belfast has. Where Belfast is more a ship that pushes aggressively in front of her team and spearheads the advance, Perth is best served escorting larger ships and lending her fire to theirs, giving concealment where necessary.

 

The Perth's worst nightmare: Skyraider Dive Bombers from the USS Saipan. Struck by three bombs, she burns from bow to stern. The Perth has very little in the way of AA defense and enemy carriers should take full advantage of this.
 
Overall Impressions
Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult
Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / Extreme
 
The HMAS Perth reminds me oh-so much of a French auto-loader from World of Tanks.  For those not familiar, these vehicles have, instead of a steady rate of fire, an ammunition drum that allows them to dispense an enormous amount of damage in short order.  They then have to suffer through a very long reload timer as the magazine gets replaced.  During this time period, they are defenseless.  Many players die in this interim, managing only to dispense the 4 to 6 rounds in their first drum before burning up in a greasy fireball.  The Perth has a similar affliction.
 
I'm convinced any player will be able to make decent use of her up to and including the duration of her active smoke generator.  What will separate the successful players from the non-successful will be how they play the Perth during this cool down period when they have no smoke and the enemies want them dead.  If they have over extended and didn't plan an extraction path, they'll be stuck with the 10,000 to 30,000 damage they managed while their smoke was up and then get sent back to port.  Maybe they'll get a flag capture in.  Maybe they'll take out an enemy destroyer or get lucky with their first drop of torpedoes.  But it won't be consistent.  For those that plan ahead, the sky becomes the limit. This is the real trick with this vessel.  
 
She has a rather high skill ceiling.  She can be used to support friendlies so long as you're daring and sociable.  Her torpedoes give her the chance to do some frightening damage against enemy capital ships and she's a very real threat to enemy destroyers.  As the teams thin out, the Perth becomes more viable, especially if she's still got her consumables handy.  Her stealth rating provides all sorts of advantages, allowing her to ninja caps and support friendlies without being spotted in return.  Her smoke can allow her to dictate who gets seen and when.  Finally there are her ammunition choices.  Earning Witherer medals isn't beyond the scope of the Perth with clever use and combinations of her single-fire torpedoes and high explosive shells.
 
The Lertbox

Perth is an escort ship. Not a ship to fight others in a straight gun fight in. She doesn't have the super AP that Leander gets, she doesn't have the radar and volume of fire that Belfast gets, she doesn't have the raw DPM that Nurnberg gets or the alpha smash and speed that Molotov gets. What she does have are solid but unremarkable guns, solid but unremarkable speed, solid but unremarkable torpedoes and a very interesting smoke screen. If you're okay with letting other people have the limelight and supporting your team from the shadows, there are worse alternatives than Perth. But she's not a good ship for glory-hounds, and her carrying potential is limited.

She's not a bad ship, just not a very remarkable one with big shiny features.

 
 
Mouse's Summary:
  • The Perth is a squid.  She squirts all of the ink.
  • She's a challenging ship to use to influence the game.  While she can remain hidden, her offensive power is a bit lacking outside of her beautiful torpedoes barring recklessness on the part of the enemy.
  • As a support ship, she can selflessly use her smoke to cover larger ships without them having to slow down for well over a minute.  Coordinating with team mates is key.  This can be quite powerful when used correctly but may be outside the scope of pick up matches in Random Battle games.
  • The Perth is super squishy against anything outside of enemy destroyers and some light cruisers.  You're not going to win duels if you trade blows.
 Let's get to the meat of the matter:  The Perth is going to be a difficult ship to love -- which is weird, because I liked the Leander when I played her.
 
While delighted to see the British Commonwealth represented in the game (and hoping this means the HMAS Australia and HMCS Haida are on the horizon) I am very frustrated to see that British Captains cannot be trained on this vessel.  I held my breath and hoped to see some further motivator applied to her camouflage to make the Perth an immediate must-have such as bonus credit earning or experience gains -- you know, something to buff her appeal.  There wasn't anything during testing.  When I asked my contacts at Wargaming, they didn't believe that there would be any immediate alternative camouflages when she was released.  So take that into consideration.
 
Game play in the Perth didn't enamour me early on either.   On the surface, the Perth doesn't have a lot of teeth.  She only has the eight guns and that mediocre AP and HE fire from the Belfast.  Well, maybe that's not fair:  I do love her torpedoes.  While they don't have the range or hitting power of the IJN, they are something nice and I really missed having those when I played the Belfast.
 
Success in the Perth comes down to proper management of your consumables.  Assuming you're using premium consumables (and you'll want to use premium consumables), you've got 1 minute and 40 seconds of concealment from smoke with a 2 minutes and 40 seconds of down time while it resets.  Use this time to open up the range and then activate your spotter aircraft.  This will provide you with 3 minutes to continue dropping shots on target.  Wiggle your tush to dodge any return fire if you can't get out to stealth range.  Once this cools off, you'll be once again ready to use smoke for another minute and 40 seconds worth of killing.  Your plane will be back online in 4 minutes.  So you'll want to yo-yo between medium-close to medium-long range to take advantage of your consumables and keep your weapon systems active while avoiding reprisals.  It's kind of a fun dance to do when you're doing it right.  But misstep and everything goes to poop.
 
The Perth isn't like the HMS Belfast where you're absolutely dominant against one particular class.  She's not as good of a destroyer hunter, though she is capable enough in the right hands.  She's certainly got sufficient DPM to put the hurt on any underage ship that lets her within 7km.  But like the Belfast, the Perth really begins to struggle when facing other light cruisers or heavier ships.  Then it becomes absolutely necessary to properly cycle smoke, especially if you can't get off an ambush with your fish.
 
Where she really shines is when you can coordinate with one of your team mates, preferably in another cruiser and let them make use of your smoke while you do the same.  A simple message like, "My smoke's ready.  Slow to 1/4 and keep within 0.5km of my stern," is usually enough to allow another player to take full advantage.  Teamwork is OP in World of Warships after all.  
 
So what's all this mean?  Is the Perth a bad ship?  Well, no.  She can perform.  She can support.  You're just going to have to work harder at it than say, the Molotov or Belfast.  She's not going to be an easy ship to recommend though.
 

One of the neat side effects of the Perth's smoke is that it ships begin sailing in close formation to take advantage of it.  This ends up looking really cool.  Here, the Perth leads a Fiji-class cruiser as they engage enemy Battleships without being spotted in return.
 
Would I Recommend?
The Perth is a difficult ship to recommend because it's unforgiving.  I maintain that anyone should be able to do some damage, maybe even sink a ship on occasion in her so long as they use their smoke consumable properly.  She's going to frustrate a lot of opponents who don't anticipate her continuing to move when her smoke is laid down instead of puffing a couple of clouds and parking stationary within it.  How players manage the transition between smoke clouds with largely determine their success rate.  Those who like the Leander will probably enjoy the different take on the same class that is the Perth.  I had a great time testing this ship.
  • For Random Battle Grinding:

Mouse:  Eh, no.  First and foremost, the Perth cannot be used as a trainer short of her own dedicated Captain.  There are no other Commonwealth ships.  In addition, she's premium consumable-hungry.  I can't stress enough the importance of taking at least two, maybe even all four slots as premium versions, so this will eat into her credit earning potential.  So for credit earning and captain training, she gets two strikes.

When it comes to earning experience or completing missions, my feelings are mixed.  My damage totals usually sat between 40,000 and 90,000 in the Perth.  I only managed a single 2000+ base experience game, with most sitting between 1,100 and 1,300 on a win.  This often wasn't enough to top the team roster on the results screen.  To be fair, I did win far more than I lost.  Still, I would pass on her specifically for those interested in finding a ship to grind for experience, training, credits, signals or mission rewards.

Lert:   No. There are other ships out there with better characteristics for grinding. She can't train British captains, her credit earning potential is on par with other tier 6 ships and she doesn't earn more XP than them either.

Zoup:  For me, I can't imagine myself using this ship too often in battles. In many ways, its quite similar to the Atlanta. Sadly, its not a lower tiered version of the Atlanta because it lacks the fire-starting capabilities of the Atlanta, along with the rate of fire. I enjoy the Atlanta despite its shortcomings and lack of range. The lack of range for the Perth hinders it significantly, in my opinion and at Tier 6, the Molotov offers a much better premium option than the Perth.
  • For Competitive Gaming:

Mouse:  Let me be honest:  there are better ships for this.  She doesn't have great hitting power short of taking advantage of the bumbling incompetence of your enemies.  And while the Perth can be used as a support vessel, it's of a very limited fashion.  She'll be forever vulnerable to dive bombers and she's super squishy.  Her smoke, while amazing, kind of makes her a one-trick pony.  You have to risk a lot to get the Perth to perform and any competitive team will punish you for the slightest misstep.

Lert:  I would say no. Her mediocre speed, low gun range and lack of primary firepower hold her back in a way that a decent set of torpedoes and interesting smoke can't really balance out.

Zoup:  I could possibly see the Perth being used in competitive gaming as a high risk high reward ship for capturing points. It's torpedoes have the range to provide denial of swaths of sea and if DDs wander to close, it will give them a bad day. The problem is once its spotted, if any large ships focus fire, the Perth won't last long. Highly skilled players will likely make use of the Perth in ranked, but I doubt it will be a go-to ship.
  • For Collectors:

Mouse:  Hells yeah.  Commonwealth represent! 

Lert:  It's the first Commonwealth ship in the game, and worth nabbing for that reason alone. Time wil tell what other Commonwealth ships will eventually make it into the game. She's also a storied ship, having fought at Java Sea and survived, only to be torpedoed and sunk at Sunda Strait.

Zoup:  I think the ship is collectable. It's the first Aussie ship in the game and has a very noted history to it. With that, it meets the criteria for a collector ship. There is a market for it. More so than some of the previous premiums, like the Lo Yang. Though popular, I doubt the Lo Yang was purchased for its service history. So yes, I think the Perth will be collected.
  • For Fun Factor:

Mouse:   I really had a lot of fun in this ship.  I think it was because it prompted some of my team mates to work in close support with one another to make use of her wonky smoke.  But that stayed with me.  There was also the fun of using torpedoes and fires to really put the hurt on enemies.  Yeah, it was a blast.  Of course, I do like the Atlanta, so take this recommendation with a grain of salt.  If you enjoyed the Leander?  The Perth will suit you.  If you didn't?  Best to steer clear.

Lert:  Maybe? She's a support ship, not a glory-hound. She does a thankless job, and is adequate at it. If this is something that appeals to you, then yes. Perth won't let you down.
 
Zoup:  Meh. It's not great, but it's not bad. It can be fun, but it's not always fun. It's nice having a lot of smoke, and you can shred ships that get too close. However, it works both ways, and ships will shred you as well. Like I mentioned earlier, this is a risk and reward ship. You have to be deliberate. If you are playing too deliberate, you aren't having as much fun as you could be.
 

The Leander with the Perth off her rear port quarter.  These two ships share many similar characteristics but the differences in their ammunition is the most telling.  They work very well in support of one another, shortening the window in which they have no cover from smoke.
 
Outfitting your Perth
 
Recommended Modules
The Perth has four module upgrade slots.  Given her poor AA values, there's not much point in trying to prop it up.  This leaves a single, optimal build for the Perth.
  •  For your first slot, Main Armaments Modification 1 is your best choice.  From experience, I can say that she loses weapon mounts frequently.  I had my torpedo tubes destroyed several times and my guns temporarily knocked out regularly.  Alternatively, if you're horrified by the possibility of being detonated, Magazine Modification 1 will help you considerably.  I was not detonated in my test games with the Perth but you never know...

  • For the second slot, Aiming Systems Modification 1 provides its usual benefits.  This is less useful on a cruiser than a Battleship, however.  A good alternative is Main Battery Modification 2.  This accelerates her turret rotation by almost a full degree per second at the cost of her reload speed.  As the Perth will be throwing herself about often in order to dodge fire, this can help keep guns on target.

  • For your third slot, as ever, Damage Control System Modification 1 is the only really vaguely decent one.  Hint-hint, Wargaming.

  • For the fourth slot, take Steering Gears Modification 2.  This will improve your rudder shift time from 7.6s down to 6.1s.  As the Perth is rarely (if ever) stationary, this depreciates the value of Propulsion Modification 2 so I would avoid it.

Recommended Consumables
The Perth can be a very premium-consumable hungry vessel.  The merits of taking a premium Damage Control Party are pretty self evident.  You don't have a lot of hit points to spare and even a single fire can eat away at far too much of that precious health (especially if there are dive bombers hunting you). Taking a premium version of her Smoke Generator is also a pretty obvious move.  This increases the charges from 2 to 3.  More importantly, this reduces the reset timer from 4 minutes down to 2 minutes and 40 seconds, which is huge.

Of the other two consumables, it's a little more open ended.  To keep the Perth's guns singing at range, it may be worthwhile upgrading her Spotter Aircraft to reduce the reset timer from a punitive 6 minutes down to 4.  This will allow you to easily use it three times within a match as opposed to just twice.  On most other ships I couldn't recommend this with a straight face, but on the Perth?  It's quite valuable. 
 
I would avoid taking a Float Plane Fighter of any description.  You'll need the extra range well over the small boost to AA defense the fighter might provide.
 
Lastly, there's Hydroacoustic Search.  This is a very situational consumable so you can probably afford just the standard version if you find your credit costs are running high.  The premium version reduces the reset timer from 3 minutes down to 2 minutes.

Recommended Captain Skills

 The choices for the Perth's Captain Skills are fairly straightforward.  As she's the only ship within her own nationality (go, Commonwealth!), you don't have to worry about these skills pairing up nicely for an alternate vessel.
 
  •  From the first tier, it's actually difficult to recommend Basic Fire Training because of her poor AA values.  Still, this does provide a little bit of help and it's certainly the strongest choice at this tier. This will provide a boost to her secondaries too and the Perth does end up in sub 5km fights often enough.

  • From the second tier, both Expert Marksman and Last Stand have a lot of value.  The latter is obvious enough -- your engine and steering gears are almost as vulnerable in the Perth as they would be in a destroyer.  The former provides a 10% boost to your turret rotation speed, changing a 180' rotation from 25.7s down to 23.4s.  This really helps given how much you'll be throwing the ship about.  If you've taken Main Battery Modification 2, this will combine to reduce her turret rotation to 20.6s for a 180' turn or 8.74' per second.

  • From tier three, grab Superintendent right away.  This provides an extra charge of your Smoke Generator.  Note that you should keep an eye on your play style before taking this skill.  If you're using the premium consumable already and not running out on your matches, then there's no point on taking this.  Alternatively, Vigilance is a great skill for helping spot torpedoes early.

  • At tier four, Demolition Expert is wonderful.  This will increase your chances to start fires from 9% to 12% per shell.  Beauty!

  • And finally, at tier 5, Concealment Expert is the most valuable.  This will reduce your surface detection range from 9.8km down to 8.6km.  Keep in mind this will not allow you to stealth fire either your torpedoes or your main battery from open water.  Alternatively, Jack of All Trades is interesting because it reduces the reset timer on your Smoke Generator, from 2 minutes and 40s with premium to 2 minutes and 16 seconds.

A special thank you to NikoPower for providing access to the Perth, PigeonofWar for answering my questions and to Lert and Zoup for their contributions to the article. Also, a big thanks for the support offered by KJar, Argh_My_Liver, EroSun, MagisterAurelius and "Large Handsome Dog" (you know who you are). They helped keep me sane while trucking through the writing process. Lastly, a very special thanks to AfroSquirrel for that one game we ended up together in testing that was super fun to play.

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