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Premium Ship Review Mutsu2/3/2017 11:36:41 AM
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.
 

Mustu-have?
 
Quick Summary:  A faster Nagato-class Battleship with less armour, less efficient AP shells and almost no AA power whatsoever.  She does get deck mounted torpedoes, though.
Patch and Date Written:  0.6.0.1 - January 30th, 2017 through to February 3rd, 2017.
Cost:  Undisclosed at the time this article was published.
 
PROs
  • Largest hit point pool of any of the tier 6 Battleships at 58,400hp.
  • Her 410mm shells are the highest damage rounds found at tier 6.
  • Able to easily overmatch the bows armour of any Tier 5 through 7 battleships.
  • Decent accuracy, including a 1.8 sigma vertical dispersion value.
  • Excellent range at 20.4km.
  • Armed with deck mounted torpedoes (!)
  • Very heavy secondary gun battery.
  • Good top speed of 26.5 knots.
CONs
  • Her citadel sits high in the water and is vulnerable to long-range, plunging fire.
  • Poor overall armour values.
  • Low Krupp (and penetration) values on her 410mm shells.
  • Secondaries are short ranged at 4.0km stock.
  • Very limited fire arcs and performance on her torpedoes.
  • Rather large turning circle of 770m.
  • Enormous surface detection range of  16.9km and the largest aerial detection range of the tier 6 Battleships at 13.3km
  • Mutsu sets a new standard for poor anti-aircraft defense.  Like, seriously.  Her AA power would be shameful at tier 4.
 
Patch 0.6.0 removed the stock hulls for Amagi and Nagato in the research tree and rendered these hull designs into two new premiums, Ashitaka and Mutsu respectively.  Mutsu is the first of these ships to be released -- we'll see Ashitaka later on in the year.  For those unfamiliar with the IJN Battleship line, the stock versions of these hulls weren't exactly good.  While not as hamstrung as Fuso while stock, they certainly were not competitive at their tiers. 
 
For this reason, Mutsu appears in World of Warships as a tier 6 vessel instead of at tier 7 like her sister, Nagato.  This allows this ship to be re-balanced based on her own merits and flaws rather than trying to shoe horn her into a tier where she doesn't belong.  Mutsu as she appears in game represents the ship after her 1924 refit, where she acquired her serpentine shaped funnel but before 1926 where she lost her torpedoes.  Of course all of this date specificity is moot when you you realize that she didn't get her catapults until the 1930s.  Yay, fiction!
 
I'm joined once again by Lert who will be providing his usual smarmy comparisons of some of this ship's contemporaries.  I'm also trying something new.  GrafZeppelinKai, one of the Wiki-Staff volunteers has written a lovely piece on Mutsu's history which can be found on the ship's wiki page.  The wiki staff perform some wonderful written work and I'm trying to help give them a little more just deserved attention.  I hope you all enjoy a bit of history about the ships.
 
The Lertbox

Hello and welcome to another Lertbox, in which I try to offer a counterpoint to LittleWhiteMouse's more in-depth review of an upcoming premium ship. This time it's Mutsu, a ship that earned its place in history for the same thing Arizona did: tragically blowing up in port with a lot of people inside. The cause of Mutsu's destruction is slightly more controversial than Arizona's, a Japanese investigation concluded that a disgruntled crewman sabotaged #3 turret and blew up the ship, while an alternative theory is that of a fire caused by 20+ year old electronics near #3 turret. All we know for certain is that Mutsu took 1121 crew and visitors with her, only 56 less than Arizona's demise claimed.

For this Lertbox I will discuss how you would take on an Arizona, a Warspite and a Dunkerque in a theoretical 1v1. I hope this will give the reader an idea how Mutsu will perform compared to her peers.

 

Given the Mutsu's large surface and aerial detection range, in combination with her vulnerable armour scheme to ranged fire, it's often best to let some of your allies screen your advance.
 
History with the Wiki:  Mutsu
By GrafZeppelinKai
 
The Nagato-class battleships were the last pair of battleships build by the Japanese Navy before the global hiatus on capital ship construction due to the ratification of the Washington and London Naval Treaties. As such, the Nagato-class is seen as the culmination of all the experience learned by the Japanese Navy in dreadnought design and construction up through the end of World War I.

Led by famed naval architect Yuzuru Hiraga, planning and design for the Nagato-class began in 1916. By this time, Japan was a steadfast, growing naval power and wanted their designs to reflect such a status. As such, from the outset the Nagato-class were set to be first-rate dreadnoughts, competitive with the offerings of the other navies of the world (chiefly the Colorado-class battleships that were being built by the United States). Hiraga and his team were meticulous, delaying final completion of her plans until mid-1917 in order to incorporate the lessons learned from the Battle of Jutland the previous year. What ultimately emerged were the most advanced battleships afloat in the world.

The Japanese determined that high-speed was an integral asset to making a battleship an effective weapon; as such, the Nagato-class were designed to be the fastest battleships in the world. It was decided to fit no less than twenty-one (21) Kampon boilers into them: fifteen (15) oil-fired and six (6) mix-fired. These boilers then fed into four (4) geared turbines that each powered a single screw. Altogether, they generated 80,000 shaft horsepower and propelled the ships to speeds above 26 knots, significantly faster than their competition. This was not a fact the Japanese Navy boasted about, however, instead electing to keep the true speed a closely guarded secret. In fact, the US Navy didn’t know the true speed of the class until well into the late 1930s.

In electing to focus on propulsion and speed, weight had to be saved from the armoring. Ergo, the Japanese opted to implement the “all-or-nothing” armor principle that was championed by the US; maximal armor to the vital areas whist non-critical surfaces receives minimal armor. The main belt and the barbette rings received 12 inches of armor, whilst the conning tower and the turret faces received 14 inches and 18 inches of armor, respectively. While this was sufficient to rival other battleships of the period, British and US battleships all had heavier armor, with belt armors exceeding 13 inches for many classes.

After experimentation with the six turret design of the Fuso and Ise classes, Hiraga and his designers decided to revert back to a quadruple turret design, determining this configuration to be the most effective. In order to not decrease overall firepower — by reducing the number of barrels from 12 to 8 — the caliber each rifle was increased from the traditional 14 inches to 16 inches; in fact, the Nagato-class battleships were the first ships in the world to mount 16-inch naval rifles. To supplement the primary artillery, twenty (20) 5.5-inch casemate guns were added to the hull. Interestingly, the Nagato-class retained the Japanese tradition of fitting torpedo tubes to their battleships. Historically, eight (8) total tubes were incorporated in the design; 4 above the waterline and 4 submerged (only the four above the waterline are available in-game).

Mutsu (named after Mutsu Province) was the second of the two Nagato-class battleships, built at the Naval Arsenal in Yokosuka. She was laid down 1 June 1918, launched 31 May 1920, and completed 24 October 1921.

The Nagato-class underwent a modernization in the late 1920s and a reconstruction in the 1930s to keep the designs combat-capable. During the 1920s modernization, the first funnel was replaced with a serpentine funnel with a raked-top in order to attempt to fix the issue of the superstructure being occluded with smoke; the very funnel seen in-game. Furthermore, the torpedo tubes were traded-in for anti-aircraft artillery, in order to counter the growing threat of aircraft. Unique to Mutsu, her bow was remodeled in order to decrease water spray to her foredeck. The 1930s reconstruction proved to be a more extensive overhaul. The iconic 7-masted superstructure was replaced with a pagoda-mast style design, and the first funnel was removed altogether. The old boilers were replaced; the overall number was also reduced to just ten (10). Interestingly, the old turrets were replaced by the ones of the incomplete Tosa class battleships, allowing for greater gun elevation, ergo greater range. Furthermore, torpedo bulges were introduced. To mitigate the loss in ship speed due to the added weight, the length of the battleships were increased. Finally, a catapult was added to launch scout planes off the deck.

Service History

Commissioned in October 1921, Mutsu survived the Washington Naval Treaty, was assigned to BatDiv (Battleship Division) 1, and began an uneventful interwar career. From 1927 to 1933, Mutsu would receive periodic modifications, but in September 1934 she entered drydock for a complete rebuild and modernization. She remained in yard hands until September 1936.

With the beginning of war with China in July 1937, Mutsu — having returned to BatDiv 1 alongside Nagato — joined the fleet for security and blockade patrols off the China coast. Mutsu would continue operations off China until March 1941. In August 1941, Mutsu began preparations for combat as Japan planned for hostilities with the United States.

Mutsu would spend the beginning of World War II, from December 1941 to May 1942, in reserve and training. In June, she and the rest of BatDiv 1 — now including Yamato — sortied as part of the Main Body for Operation MO, the invasion of Midway. Other than to receive the transfer of survivors from Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, and Soryu, Mutsu would not participate in the battle, and returned to Japan.

In July, BatDiv 1, less Yamato, was attached to the 2nd Fleet. In August, they departed for Truk after the US landing at Guadalcanal. In late August, Mutsu was assigned to support the Main Body for the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, where she fired at an aircraft shadowing the fleet. This would prove to be her only shots fired in combat during the war.

In September, Mutsu landed a party to help train anti-aircraft crews at Truk. She would remain and participate in exercises until January 1943, when she returned to Japan. Excepting one aborted sortie to the Aleutians after the Battle of the Komandorski Islands in late March 1943, Mutsu continued to conduct training and gunnery exercises until June 1943.

On 8 June 1943, Mutsu was moored in Hashirajima harbor when, at approximately 1200 hours, her No. 3 turret suffered an explosion. The blast tore her in two, and the section forward the No. 3 turret rolled over and quickly sank. Her stern section sank early the next day. Of her 1,474 crew, 1,121 were killed. An investigation concluded human error was responsible for the explosion, and the Japanese Navy consequently altered regulations for the handling of explosives aboard ships.

Mutsu was struck from the Navy List on 1 September 1943.

Post-war salvage attempts proved to be failures, though Mutsu’s No. 4 turret, anchors, and other parts of the ship — including her bow — were successfully recovered in the 1970s. The gun barrels from the salvaged No. 4 turret were restored and are now on display in separate locations in Japan: one at the Museum of Maritime Science in Tokyo, and the other outside the Yamato Museum in Kure.

 
Options
Mutsu has standard tier 6 IJN Battleship options.  There's nothing out of the ordinary here.
 
Consumables:
  • Damage Control Party
  • Repair Party
  • Spotter Aircraft
Module Upgrades: Four slots, standard non-USN Battleship options.
Premium Camouflage: Tier 6+ Standard. This provides 50% bonus experience gains, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy 
 
Firepower
Main Battery:  410mm/45 3rd Year Type in 4x2 turrets in A-B-X-Y configuration @ 20.4km Range
 
Mutsu fires a Type88 1000kg AP/APC shell up to a range of 20.4km with a 790m/s muzzle velocity.  This is the largest shell found presently at tier 6, eclipsing Warspite's own 381mm, 879kg shell by a healthy margin.  Don't mistake these shells for the same ones found on the upgraded Nagato.  The ammunition Mutsu uses is a pre-WWII shell and was originally found on the stock Nagato and Amagi.  They have worse overall performance than those found on the IJN Battleships at tiers 7 and 8, with lower alpha strike, muzzle velocity and Krupp values while being slightly lighter overall by 20kg.  This gives Mutsu significantly less penetration power over distance to the lead of her class, with many shells shattering or ricocheting against enemy warships at medium to long range.
 
Despite my incessant whining, Wargaming wouldn't provide me the exact penetration values present on Mutsu. For now, we have only two sources to give us with a glimpse into what the raw numbers might be.  The first comes from Wargaming's own Armada Videos.  These are few and far between, but thankfully have included a plethora of ships found in Mutsu's matchmaking spread.
 

Statics drawn from the World of Warships Armada Videos
 
The second, and admittedly more awesome source, is the work done by fnord_disc on the European Server, who reverse-engineered an approximate model of the penetration mechanics.  The numbers they worked out provide the following estimated values for Mutsu's AP shells:
  • 548mm at 5km
  • 426mm at 10km
  • 332mm at 15km
Even as an estimation, this puts Mutsu's shell penetration among the worst for tier 6 Battleships, ahead of only Warspite at extremely short ranges and only ahead of Bayern at anything beyond that. The net result of this will be less damaging hits against heavily armoured (or angled) targets.
 
Datamining reveals that Mutsu's gun accuracy is decent -- she boasted a 1.8 sigma during testing combined with the typically tight dispersion values found on IJN Battleships.  This is superior to anything short of tier 9 and 10 USN Battleships specialized for accuracy.  On paper, this should help compensate for some of the penetration issues found on the guns.  However, with the small number of barrels Mutsu brings to bear, every shot feels considerably more precious than the 'shotgun blasts' fired by 12-rifle ships.  Thus, Arizona which has more overall dispersion but the same sigma value, feels more accurate than Mutsu by combination of having more guns and better penetration values.  You're going to simply do more damage more consistently with a ship like the Arizona or Dunkerque despite Mutsu's advantages in accuracy.
 

Comparative data between the tier 6 Battleships + Nagato.  Mutsu's strengths are her range, the high alpha damage of her individual AP shells and her ability to overmatch the bows of any tier 5, 6 or 7 battleship.  She also has the highest potential DPM values of any of the 8-gun Battleships.  Her weaknesses include her low muzzle velocity and poor Krupp and penetration valuesvalues. While Mutsu's guns look like they have the potential to perform, you may find they let you down at long range engagements. 

I'm trying not to sound too bleak about Mutsu's main battery firepower.  There are two versions of Battleship Mutsu's guns.  The first was the version that I play tested.  The second is the version that's being released.  Wargaming let me know in advance what the changes would be and I tried to keep them in mind while I tried out this ship.  I'm taking it on faith that Mutsu will be released as Wargaming announced.
  • Mutsu had a 35s reload on her main armament.  This is being reduced to 30s.
  • Mutsu had a turret rotation speed of 3.3º per second.  This was buffed to 3.8º per second (from 54.5s to 47.4s  for 180º rotation).

In short, Mutsu's gun handling and rate of fire was buffed rather significantly.  This in turn greatly affected the DPM we saw during play testing.  This put her optimal DPM down to 170,057 AP damage and 89,143 HE damage.  The buffs provided by Wargaming increase her DPM by a full 17% which I think we'll all agree is enormous.

Summary:
  • Her main battery has mix of significant strengths and telling weaknesses.
  • Shells are individually hard hitting, long ranged and capable of overmatching the bows of any tier 5 to 7 battleship.
  • However, she is severely restricted by poor penetration values at range, a low Krupp rating and small main-battery.
  • Probably her best feature is her "new" 30s reload which gives her the best potential DPM of the 8-gun Battleships.
Secondary Guns
Secondary Battery: 140mm/50 3rd Year Type in 20x1 casemates, 127mm/40 Type 89 in 4x2 turrets @ 4.0km Range
 
The lion's share of Mutsu's secondaries are composed of her 140mm casemates.  These fire 7.9 rounds per minute at a disappointing 4.0km range.  Like all IJN Battleships, her casemates fire an AP shell instead of HE which reduces their overall performance.  While on paper, AP shells do more damage, their output isn't consistent.  They cannot light fires.  They are likely to ricochet and shatter against even slightly angled targets.  Her 127mm rifles do fire an HE shell, but these are limited to two pairs of turrets on either side of the vessel. 
 
It's difficult to justify investing heavily in upgrading Mutsu's secondaries to improve their performance, primarily given their poor range and unreliability.
 
Torpedoes
Torpedo Complement:  4x1 Launchers firing a 533mm Type 6 torpedo at 57 knots for 7.0km.
 
Move over, Kriegsmarine; the IJN now has deck mounted torpedo launchers too.  While the Tirpitz introduced Battleship-launched torpedoes to fanfare and fireworks, Mutsu's torpedoes feel like they should be announced by a kazoo.  The Type 6 is the same torpedo found on the Isokaze and Minekaze.  This strikes for 10,833 damage which, when facing the anti-torpedo bulges of contemporary Battleships, feel lackluster.
 
The devil is in the details with Mutsu's torpedo armament.  While its true that she has limited fire arcs, these have a forward facing from 55º to 105º.  In addition, these have a ridiculously short reload rate at a mere 21s.  
 
These torpedoes do not give her the strength to effectively brawl with enemy Dreadnoughts.  While theoretically being able to interweave broadside main battery fire backed by torpedoes, alternating each in rapid succession, practical experience makes it too risky.  Mutsu has to expose her vulnerable citadel to launch torpedoes.  While this is easily done in the first moments while the engagement ranges are still closing, it becomes impossible to get a second salvo off as ranges close and the fight devolves into a "death circle" at point blank range.
 
Still, if you get locked in a battleship brawl, her torpedoes can be a welcome trump card to end the engagement favourably.  Keep in mind that Mutsu does not have the armour profile or secondary ammunition to brawl effectively. 
 
Firepower Summary:
  • Main Battery firepower is optimized for a mid-to-short range engagement, between 7km and 12km.
  • Her secondaries are plentiful but are painfully short ranged and focused around a heavy broadside of AP shells which limits their utility.
  • Her torpedo armament reloads very quickly but a broadside does not hit very hard.  It is only suitable for finishing off already crippled targets and should not be relied upon as a trump-card.
  • Playtesting Mutsu with a 35s reload wasn't fun.  She'll be in much better shape now.
Rivals:  Arizona

LertYou have longer range, more hit-points, better speed, better dispersion at a given range and your 16" shells will overmatch Arizona's 25mm bow and stern armor. Sounds like a foregone conclusion, right? Well, not quite. Arizona's bow (or stern) is a difficult target to hit at range. Also your large shells lose a lot of penetration when flying that far and are likely to shatter on anything that isn't Arizona's bow. Plus, a low volume of fire makes missing the American ship or shells shattering a relatively more painful event, cutting down your already lacking DPM. Meanwhile Arizona's range isn't that much shorter, and she has a much higher RPM with her 12 14" rifles. Plus, Mutsu's armor is so soft that you're bound to take significant pen damage from any Arizona return volley.

If you can, point your bow straight at Arizona and close the distance with your superior speed. Arizona's 356mm AP will mostly bounce off your 25mm forward end with only stray shells going into your superstructure, and your 410mm return fire will go through Arizona's bow like butter - if you can hit it. The ideal situation is to set up a drive-by. Pre-aim your guns when you're almost about to pass, fire your torpedoes into the Arizona's path, quickly switch back to your AP and let loose a devastating volley of 16" AP at point blank range.

 

Mutsu's guns are accurate enough to let you snipe, but they just don't have the penetration value to reliably deal the damage you want at those ranges.  Pick your targets carefully.  You can still score some pretty impressive early damage if you know who to aim for.
 
 
Maneuverability
Top Speed: 26.5 knots
Turning Radius: 770m
Rudder Shift Time: 14.7s
 
Mutsu is rather fast for a tier 6 Battleship.  Her top speed of 26.5 knots makes her faster than most tier 5 through 7 Battleships with the exceptions of Kongo, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Dunkerque which is rather respectable.  While this doesn't give her tremendous flexibility, it does allow her to keep up with the pace of combat.  She can attempt to dictate engagement ranges instead of having them set for her.  
 
Like most IJN Battleships, her turning circle isn't small nor does she answer her rudder especially fast.  In truth, her Rudder Shift Time isn't terrible, it's just that when combined with her large turning circle, she doesn't feel especially maneuverable.  During play testing, even with this slow handling, she was still quite capable of turning the ship faster than her turrets could compensate for.  She initially had a 3.3º per second rotation speed on her main battery guns.  I'm assured this will be buffed to 3.8º per second before release which will help.
 
Mutsu has a 1.5 knot advantage over her sister, Nagato.  This advantage comes grace of less armour protection.
 
Durability
Hit Points:  58,400
Citadel Protection:  305mm belt armour + 76mm turtleback
Min Bow & Deck Armour:  25mm
Torpedo Damage Reduction:   22%
 
Mutsu shares a lot in common with Nagato, as one might expect.  This provides a bit of good news right off the start:  Mutsu has the highest hit point total of any of the tier 6 Super-Dreadnoughts. Their armour profiles are almost identical but for the following changes:
  •  Nagato has 25mm of extra armour across her sides in the form of anti-torpedo bulges.  These afford the lead ship a 5% further reduction in torpedo damage along with their armour benefits.
  • Nagato has reinforced main battery turret and barbette armour, with 457mm turret faces and 405mm barbettes.  These values never exceed 305mm on Mutsu.
  • Nagato's forward magazine is protected by a 289mm turtleback.  Mutsu has only 76mm on this section of plate.
  • The citadel deck of Nagato ranges from 44mm to 197mm.  On Mutsu, these values range from 25mm (!) to 51mm.

 The Nagato-class has never been considered a heavily armoured ship and the deficiencies on Mutsu only exaggerate this weakness.  While she can angle against 356mm rifles, if she doesn't angle properly she can (and will) get citadelled with alarming regularity.  Her citadel sits over the waterline and while her belt armour and the turtleback protecting these machine spaces looks formidable, these are often bypassed by shots striking her from range, which need only contend with the 25mm + 70mm deck armour found amidships and the pathetic 25mm roof her citadel.  She has objectively worse protection than the Warspite at all ranges.

This emphasizes the gunnery strength of Mutsu which seems designed around a mid to short ranged engagement.  However, with her citadel sitting over the waterline, short of bow-on angles of attack, she is far too vulnerable to risk at point blank ranges against other battleships.  This illustrates some of the dangers of trying to make use of her torpedo armament.  Angling out to take the lead on a closing enemy Battleship at the very least exposes her forward magazine to citadel hits.  So to maximize her armour values, Mutsu seems best at medium ranges -- approximately 7km to 12km away from her targets.
 
Of course, this all goes to pot if she's facing anything with 380mm rifles or larger which overmatch the 25mm sections of her armour.  When facing tier 8 opponents, her armour feels very deficient indeed.
 
Like all IJN Battleships, Mutsu is shackled with the worst Damage Control Party consumable in the game.  This makes the Battleship exceedingly vulnerable to fire and flooding damage.
 
 
Rivals: Dunkerqueueueeueeeuueueue
Lert:
  You have the advantage in hit-points, range and firepower. Dunkerque beats you in speed, agility and size, being a smaller target. She has the speed to dictate the engagement, allowing her to keep you at the max of your range where your dispersion and low volume of fire means you won't hit many of your shells. The ones that do hit and manage to avoid the Frenchman's armored belt will bloody her nose, but that's not reliable enough to count on. Meanwhile Dunkerque's 330mm rifles will struggle to do meaningful damage to you as well, especially if you keep properly angled ..

... But that's when the dastardly Frenchy will just switch to HE and burn you down. While your own HE shells aren't bad, they have 5% less fire chance and you have a lower RPM, so in a fire-hose contest you're going to lose. If you're taking on a Dunkerque in your Mutsu you better hope that you're going to get lucky or your opponent is stupid, because barring luck a smart Dunkerque driver will just wiggle around at range and burn your lumbering stern to the ground.

 

This will happen a lot.
 
 
Concealment & Camouflage
Surface Detection Range: 16.9 km
Air Detection Range: 13.3 km
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 14.1km
Concealment Penalty while Firing: +12.3km (vs 20.4km gun range)
 
Mutsu has arguably the worst detection range of any of the tier  6 Battleships.  Actually, Mouse, Fuso has worse surface detection range, and while that's technically correct, Mutsu will be spotted from the air a full kilometer sooner while still having an astronomically huge surface detection range.  If there's an enemy carrier present, you can expect to be the first ship spotted in Mutsu.  This in turn means that you'll have every gun pointing at you first until squishier (and closer) targets get lit. Priority Target is well worth the investment.
 
 Given Mutsu's vulnerability to long range fire, it's important to engage in evasive maneuvers when she finds herself lit in these early moments of the engagement.  Alternatively, she can elect to begin her own advance a little later than the rest of her team.
 
Her large surface detection range makes disengaging from enemies exceedingly difficult.  She does have the speed to help dictate engagement ranges against most Battleship opponents in her Matchmaking spread, along with the range to hammer them beyond their own reach.  However, she is always going to be reliant on Allies to keep her opponents lit while attempting to keep enemies at arm's length in this manner.
 
 Anti-Aircraft Defense
AA Battery Calibers: 127mm / 40mm / 12.7mm
AA Umbrella Ranges: 5.0km / 2.0km / 1.0km
AA DPS per Aura:  40 / 16 / 5
 
To say that this Battleship has poor anti-aircraft firepower is a gross understatement.  Mutsu has worse anti-aircraft defense than any of the research-based Battleships at tier 4.  She's setting a whole new standard for what "bad" anti-aircraft firepower is at tier 6.  She has half the DPS of Fuso, a Battleship that has some of the worst AA firepower at tier 6.  Combined with her horrible aerial detection range, the sight of Mutsu on the enemy team should ring a dinner bell for all CV players.
 
Rivals: Warspite

Lert:  A more even match, since both of these ships operate on the same basic principle: trading in number of barrels and DPM for shells large and powerful enough to overmatch the 25mm bow plating found on even tier battleships. Again, you have the larger health pool, better range and larger shells, but Warspite is notoriously wiggly making her a difficult target at range, has a superior healing potion and her shells aren't that much smaller than yours to begin with. She'll overmatch your bow as easily as you'll overmatch the grand old lady's, so face-tanking incoming fire isn't a thing like it is against Arizona or Dunkerque.

Use your superior range to whittle her down and your superior speed to keep her at range. Conversely, you could go for the same drive-by tactic that I recommended for taking on an Arizona, but be aware that Warspite's 15" rifles will smash through your bow plating and bite chunks offa your face while you do it. Where against an Arizona you would charge in head on, you might try closing the distance under an angle to try to lure Warspite's return fire away from your bow and into your armor belt, where it will bounce off instead of eat up large chunks of your hit-points.

 

A lot of CV pilots "experimented" with the AA defense on Mutsu while I was play testing her, but most weren't too interested beyond a cursory strike or two.  As word gets out about Mutsu's vulnerability to air power, you can expect more concerted attacks.
 

Overall Impressions

Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult
Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / Extreme 
 
Mutsu, as a tier 6 Battleship, already has a couple of strikes against her when it comes to evaluating her suitability to a novice player.  She punishes players for exposing her broadside while simultaneously having a gimmicky weapon system that encourages exactly that.  With poor armour, a (relatively) small number of main battery guns and secondaries that won't be of much help, a novice player could be forgiven for struggling to get any kind of reliable performance out of this ship.  
 
For the expert, Mutsu will reward good gunnery with excellent DPM values for an 8-gun Battleship.  Her torpedoes will be a fun (if seldom used) gimmick that will clinch select engagements.   Still, her horrible surface detection range, poor AA defense and poor armour values will limit her carry potential. 
 
The Lertbox

I wanted to like Mutsu, but I just can't. She's wonderful in co-op where she'll just eat off everyone's face with her brutality, but against other people I found her lacking. Her WWI era shells don't have the penetration or the Krupp hardness to do significant damage at range, and she doesn't have the armor to mingle up close. Her hit-point pool gives her some staying power in a brawl and her torpedoes are a nifty poison dagger, but this is a ship with weapons that want to move in close and a hull that wants to stay far away.

Comparing her to other tier 6 battleships makes her look better than she is. Truth is, Mutsu starts falling apart quickly against higher tiers, and I would take any of the other three into a tier 8 battle over Mutsu.  Plus, there's the T6 MM to worry about, and Mutsu really does not up-tier well. I won't say that Mutsu is a bad ship per say, just that she's an alright ship in a pond of great ships, namely the trio I pit her against.
 
Mouse's Summary:
  • I have a love-hate relationship with Mutsu's guns.  It was awful play testing with that 35s reload, but I could still make some great plays with them.  I am very excited about their 30s reload.  While I wasn't landing citadels as often against Battleships, they're perfectly adequate for regular penetrations.
  • Her armour is super squishy for a Battleship.  Also -- fires.  Oh god, the fires.
  • Her torpedoes were nice to have, but its rare when I got any good use out of them.
  • Mutsu's secondaries were disappointing.
  • She's a perfectly adequate ship ... until she has to face tiers 7 & 8.

Wargaming didn't want a repeat of the German Destroyer incident. They let us Community Contributors know in advance that the Mutsu we were playing wasn't the final version.  There were all of three changes that they gave us, but let me be be clear -- there may be others.  As values like vertical dispersion, Krupp and shell-drag coefficient are not intended to be public knowledge, there are lots of parameters that could still change before release. So while I appreciate Wargaming striving to keep us in the know about what the release version of the ship may be, it pays to keep that disclaimer at the top of this article in mind.

 There was a third change, beyond rate of fire and gun traverse that Wargaming informed us of.  It was this:
 
"Increase rudder deflection speed from 19.2 to 17.9."
 
Now, you would think that would coincide with Rudder Shift Time, but her rudder shift time is 14.7s.  Whatever this value is, it represents a 7.3% change.  From the way it's worded, it could represent either a buff or a nerf.  If anyone has any grasp on what this is, feel free to let me know.  My contacts at Wargaming who were relaying the information didn't know what it was either and couldn't get it clarified, so obviously someone at St.Petersburg has the info and simply assumed that we'd also know what it was.  
 
And so, I played Mutsu with a 35s reload and a 54.5s for 180º turret rotation speed and was asked to evaluate her performance.  I won a heck of a lot of games.  One day's worth of playtesting saw me win 12 out of 13 matches.  However, let me add a qualifier to this win streak:  I still have not broken a 2,000 base experience game in Mutsu.  It wasn't a case of not being able to get the damage totals -- getting in excess of 100,000 damage wasn't impossible.  But I never had any truly spectacular games.  My personal best is 1,716 base experience which is disappointing with the typical "good" game sitting around 1,300 to 1,500 base experience.  I took the occasional break from Mutsu by playing with my Warspite and Nagato and easily crushed that 2,000 base experience ceiling.
 
I should warn everyone:  I love Nagato, so it's probably no surprise that I took well to Mutsu,  The improvements this ship will receive in terms of reload and gun handling (and the changes to whatever the heck rudder deflection speed is) will be welcome.  Still, the ship isn't without its disappointments for me.  The increased vertical dispersion of her guns over Nagato and the poor range on her secondaries really made me have a sad.  
 
 
 
Overall, Mutsu is a decent IJN Battleship but she's not phenomenal.  I don't think anyone was expecting her to be outstanding, though -- not as an early version of a Nagato-class Battleship.  So in that regard, she doesn't disappoint.  Now if only the Matchmaker would let her be top tier more often...
 
Would I Recommend?
Mutsu makes a great Co-Op warrior.  She's got powerful guns and she faces enemies that are, quite frankly, dumb as posts.  The bots are unlikely to shoot at you when there are still cruisers and destroyers alive.  This gives you lots of time to exercise your 410mm rifles often at very close range where their penetration issues aren't present.  You'll also be able to use your torpedoes a lot and score hits too.
 
Outside of Co-Op, Mutsu begins to suffer.  It would be one thing if she was top tier as regularly as a tier 7 or 8 ship, but she exists in that special Hell that is tier 5 and 6 Matchmaking.  She doesn't up-tier very well -- holding her own against tier 7 ships (if at a bit of a struggle) but really hurting once she faces tier 8s.  Of course, this could be said about most of the tier 6 premiums, so that's nothing new.
  • For Random Battle Grinding
Mouse:  It's sad to say, but Japan is rather lacking when it comes to premium Battleship trainers.  The Ishizuchi is okay but, let's be honest, she's no Scharnhorst / Tirpitz / Arizona / Missouri.  While Mutsu is a better fit, I wouldn't say she's a great fit.  She can do what she needs to, however, and if you're hard pressed for a training ship, then Mutsu can step up to the plate.  But I think you might be looking over your shoulder for the next IJN Premium Battleship.
Lert:  No. Arizona is IMO a far better ship, as is Warspite. And both of those are available in the tech tree for doubloons at the writing of this article. Consider Mutsu if you really need a Japanese battleship crew trainer, but buy American or British if you want a good ship to carry in.

GrafZeppelinKai:  Mutsu is a dependable battlewagon. Her above average gun handling characteristics, combined with a little practice, will come into it’s own. Similarly, if you’re looking for a dedicated IJN BB Captain trainer, Mutsu is your best option for now.
  • For Competitive Gaming
Mouse:  No.  She's too squishy and too huge.
Lert: No. If you need range, bring a Fuso. If you need overmatching ability, bring a Warspite. If you need staying power, bring an Arizona.

GrafZeppelinKai:
 It will take a bit more work to make her shine here, and her deficiencies will feel more glaring. Similar to Warspite, having good planning ahead of time will mean you’re able to dish the damage while not being the focus of the enemy.
  • For Collectors
Mouse:  Yes.  She's a beautiful ship with an interesting history and a tragic story.
Lert: Yes. Mutsu has a place in history, and her configuration might appeal to people who like WWI era dreadnoughts.

GrafZeppelinKai: I’m gonna be honest here: I like 1920s Mutsu. She’s very pretty to look at, and there are many subtle details that make her very period accurate. For that reason alone, she has a spot in my port.
  • For Fun Factor

Mouse:  Well I liked her.  However, I don't think I would play her very often, not compared to the other premiums 6s. 

Lert:
She handles comfortable enough, if a bit sluggish on the rudder. I would consider her a fun ship if her shells didn't tend to shatter at long range, or her hull held up a bit better under fire. Plus, her torpedoes are just funny, if you get a chance to use them. Those are big if's though.

GrafZeppelinKai: 
I enjoyed my time testing Mutsu. To me, the gunnery felt familiar and comfortable, and you can never resist a giggle when you surprise an adversary by pooping out a torpedo.


In a brawl with Bayern and Nurnberg.  Mutsu uses her main battery to finish off the German cruiser while  dumping fish into the bows of Bayern.  Brawling is exceedingly risky with Mutsu.  Don't expect your torpedoes to clinch a fight for you.
 
Outfitting Mutsu
Mutsu doesn't require anything beyond the norm for IJN Battleships, which is a welcome relief.
Recommended Modules
  •  For your first slot, take Main Armaments Modification 1.  This should be no surprise.  The armour around Mutsu's main turrets along with her barbettes is pretty substandard for her tier, so this will help keep them in the game.  It should also help mitigate damage to your torpedo tubes, but they tend to go belly up if anyone looks at them funny.
  • For your second slot, you may be tempted to try a secondary build, but in my experience this is a mistake -- you can't get her range out high enough to make it a credible threat..  Aiming Systems Modification 1 is arguably the most effective choice here.
  • For your third slot, take Damage Control System Modification 1.  This will help mitigate fire and flooding damage while increasing your torpedo damage reduction to 24%.
  • And finally, take Damage Control System Modification 2 to reduce the burn-time of fires.  You can take Steering Gear Modification 2 if you prefer, especially if you've taken Captain Skills to mitigate fire damage.

Recommended Consumables
Don't skimp out on the premium consumables for this ship.  Taking a premium Damage Control Party is an absolute must.  I also strongly recommend taking a premium Repair Party as well to reduce the reset timer of your healing potion and to give you an extra charge.  I don't see much need in breaking the bank with a Spotter Aircraft, so it's up to you to invest in the 22,500 extra credits to make this premium or not.

 
Captain Skills
For the core build, we're going to want to emphasize her damage control abilities.
  •  For your first skill, you have a choice between Priority Target and Preventative Maintenance.  I prefer the former on my first pass -- it's helpful to know when potential damage is incoming.  The latter has currency with Mutsu due to the relative fragility of her weapon systems compared to other tier 6 Battleships.
  • Next, at tier two, grab Expert Marksman.  This was absolutely essential with her 3.3º per second rotation speed and it will still be worth while when this gets buffed to 3.8º per second.
  • At tier three, Basics of Survivability should be the skill to grab to help mitigate fire damage.
  • And finally, when you hit tier 4, take Fire Prevention

After this first pass, there are other skills to consider.  The best of the bunch are Adrenaline Rush and High Alert at tier 2 and Superintendent at tier 3.  This is one of those rare ships where I will not recommend Basic and Advanced Fire Training as the top picks.  While these will help prop up her horrible AA firepower, it's really not going to move the needle enough to make it anywhere near acceptable.  Similarly, her secondaries are just a little too short ranged to be worth specializing into.  You can certainly try it out for yourself, but I don't think you'll find it pays off as well as it would for her tier 7 sister.

 
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