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Once more with feeling4/8/2018 8:04:03 PM
Published By: LittleWhiteMouse
This review is brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.  Their support helps bring you reviews just like this, allowing me to spend more time twirling ships, mapping shell falls and writing about the game.  Graf Spee was the winner of a poll conducted for my patrons on which older review I should update first. 

My sincerest thanks to all of you who help with these projects.



And HSF Graf Spee -- cause they're one and the same, except one is better.

Quick Summary: A slow cruiser with battleship-caliber guns.
Cost: Including the port slot: 5,000 doubloons for Admiral Graf Spee and the equivalent of 5,340 doubloons for HSF Admiral Graf Spee.
Patch and Date Written: 0.7.2.1 to 0.7.3. March 17th April 6th, 2018.
Previous Review: December 15th, 2016

PROS
  • Enormous hit point pool for a tier VI cruiser with 39,400hp.
  • Powerful AP alpha strike with her main battery.
  • Excellent penetration on her HE shells.
  • Surprisingly effective secondary armament.
  • Precise, battleship-caliber guns with lower horizontal dispersion and 1.9 sigma.
  • Powerful torpedo armament with good fire arcs and range.
  • Access to German Hydroacoustic Search consumable.
  • Access to a battleship Repair Party consumable (!)
  • Very forgiving in regards to commander skill selection, making her an excellent trainer.

  • HSF Admiral Graf Spee has improved permanent camouflage with a bonus 100% free experience earned.
  • HSF Admiral Graf Spee can be used to train not only any of your German captains, but also any of the High School Fleet captains regardless of their nationality.

CONS
  • Large, vulnerable citadel.
  • Fires on her last 45 seconds -- 15 seconds longer than normal cruisers
  • Terrible DPM with both AP and HE shells.
  • Poorly equipped to deal with enemy destroyer threats.
  • Low agility for a tier VI cruiser with a 28.5 knot top speed, 10.3s rudder shift time and 5.2º maximum rotation rate.
  • Large surface and aerial detection ranges.
  • Her Repair Party only queues 10% of citadel damage instead of 33% of high-tier cruisers.

  • HSF Admiral Graf Spee is the better version of this ship with her camouflage bonuses, but not everyone likes (or wants to support) anime crossovers in World of Warships.
Overview
Skill Floor:
Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult
Skill Ceiling:
Low / Moderate / High / Extreme

Graf Spee looks complicated, handing players a lot of different plates to spin. You've got battleship caliber guns.  You've also got torpedoes. On top of that, there's four consumables all need to be managed properly to make this ship work.  What's more you've got cruiser-quality armour and a citadel to protect.  You can't play this ship as a battleship and expect to succeed, nor does she quite marry up to cruiser expectations, with speed, concealment and damage output.

Experts will appreciate the variety of game play this ship offers which is an interesting departure from the norm, but overall her slow speed and small number of main-battery guns limits her flexibility.
 
  • Graf Spee is largely defined by her battleship caliber gun armament, but it's her durability which is her quality.
  • Contrary to her rating, Graf Spee does not handle poorly -- she's simply a slow ship.
  • She earns a rating in concealment owing to her large surface detection relative to the other tier VI cruisers.  The further combination of a large aerial detection radius and her inability to capitalize on destroyer-laid smoke like other cruisers worsens matters.
 Options
Consumables: Graf Spee has four consumable slots.
  •   Graf Spee's Damage Control Party is standard for a cruiser.
  • or   In her second slot, you have the choice between Hydroacoustic Search or Defensive AA Fire. The latter is a standard version of the cruiser consumable, but the former is a specialized German version with an additional duration and detection range, giving Graf Spee a 114s active time, 3.66km torpedo detection range and 5.28km ship detection range.
  •   Graf Spee uses as Catapult Fighter in her third slot with 1180 hit points and 48 dps.
  •   Her Repair Party finishes off her consumable slots, healing back up to 14% of her maximum health (5,516hp) over 28s. This queues up damage in the same manner as a battleship.  She recovers 10% of citadel damage, 50% of all penetration damage and 100% of damage from all other sources.
Upgrades: Four slots, standard cruiser upgrades.
  •   In your first slot, take Main Armaments Modification 1.
  •  or   Next, take Damage Control Modification 1 in your second slot.  Alternatively, if you have access to the special upgrade Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 you can use it here instead.
  • or    Aiming System Modification 1 is optimal, especially for battleship-caliber guns. She gets a nice boost to her secondaries too. If you're particularly salty about aircraft, you can elect to take AA Guns Modification 2, but this is a highly situational upgrade you're only ever going to find use for when under direct attack from an enemy carrier.
  • or   You have your choice between Damage Control System Modification 2 and Steering Gears Modification 2 in your final slot, depending on your game play preferences. The latter makes steering more comfortable while the former will improve the efficiency of your Repair Party consumable in regards to fire damage.

Camouflage
: The primary difference between Admiral Graf Spee and the High School Fleet (HSF) Graf Spee lies in which camouflage patterns are available.
  •   If you purchased (or earned) Admiral Graf Spee, you will have access to Type 10 Camouflage. This provides a 10% reduction to repair costs, a 50% bonus to your experience gains, a 3% reduction in surface detection and a 4% reduction in enemy accuracy.
  •    Veterans may have unlocked Type 12 Camouflage for Admiral Graf Spee during the Santa's Christmas Convoy campaign. This provides the same bonuses as Type 10 above and is simply a cosmetic swap.  If you don't have it, you're not missing out on any benefits.
  • or   HSF Graf Spee differs from the standard premium in that she has the choice between two camouflage patterns when you purchase her. Both camouflage patterns include a 10% reduction to repair costs, a 50% bonus to your experience gains,a 3% reduction in surface detection and a 4% reduction in enemy accuracy. In addition, they both provide 100% bonus experience. This makes HSF Graf Spee superior to the standard premium.

    The Type 10 Camouflage turns HSF Graf Spee into a clone of the normal premium ship appearance wise. I say again, using the Type 10 Camouflage on HSF Graf Spee makes her look identical to Admiral Graf Spee.

    The W207 Camouflage provides not only a different colour scheme, but it changes the geometry of the ship, most notably around the bridge section. This matches her appearance in the anime.

Upper bridge geometry differences between HSF Graf Spee (twin spotlights) and Graf Spee (single spotlight, radar assembly).


Firepower
Main Battery: Six 283mm rifles in 2x3 turrets in an A-X configuration.
Secondary Battery: Eight 150mm rifles in single turrets and six 105mm mounts in 3x2 turrets.
Torpedo Armament: Eight torpedoes in 2x4 launchers.


Graf Spee's fire angles aren't great.  They're not terrible, but be mindful that if you try and fire your X turret or torpedoes at a target ahead of you, you've opened up yourself to take citadel hits.

There's a lot wrong with Graf Spee's weapon systems. She doesn't have good fire angles. She doesn't put out a lot of DPM. Even her AP alpha strike is only moderately better than the other heavy cruisers at her tier. Yet, for all of these faults, Graf Spee's firepower is excellent. Graf Spee's claim to fame in game is that she rocks the same main caliber of guns as a battleship. Combined with powerful torpedoes and a surprisingly effective secondary gun battery, she's a potent threat to almost any ship she encounters.

Almost...

Secondaries
Graf Spee's secondaries are perhaps the most surprising element of the ship's armament. This comes from three parts. First, she has a comparable broadside weight to HMS Warspite with four 150mm guns and up to another four 105mm guns. Second, like HMS Baebote, they fire a homogeneous wall of HE shells (which is most welcome). Third, her 150mm enjoy increased penetration, being able to damage areas of up to 37mm thick which lets her stack damage against any target she faces at close range.

She is unfortunately lacking in rate of fire and range.

At best, with all of the range improvements you can tag onto Graf Spee, the most you'll get her secondary armament to reach is 6.0km from 4.0km which isn't terrible but it's not great. I would have loved to see Graf Spee's base secondary range up at 5.0km so she could flirt with being able to use her secondaries in conjunction with her torpedoes. Similarly, the bulk of her broadside is made up of her 150mm guns with that great penetration. Unfortunately, their rate of fire is slow.

As it stands, her defensive armament is okay, but it's not going to be a show stopper that makes a destroyer turn away. Given the deficiencies of her main battery when it comes to handling lolibotes, this is disappointing.

Torpedoes
 

Speaking of her torpedoes, Graf Spee breaks the mold of German cruisers. Most German cruisers in the game make use of the G7a T1 torpedo -- the same weapon found on the stock Ernst Gaede German destroyer at tier VI but with a higher running speed and less range. Graf Spee instead uses the upgraded Gaede torpedo, the G7 Steinbutt (translation:turbot). This gives her fish improved range and speed over her contemporaries which can be a shock to opponents who are used to the short reach of most German armaments. The trade off is that they have a slightly larger surface detection range than the G7a T1s but this is hardly a concern.

Graf Spee's torpedoes are excellent, owing to the decent fire arcs, good range and impressive striking power from her quad launchers. They easily can spell the doom for any enemies that over extend and take Graf Spee lightly. Cruiser and destroyer kills are particularly prized in a knife fight. There are four deficiencies to keep in mind regarding her torpedoes, though:
  • Her fire arcs are good, but they have a strong rearward bias. In order to fire on targets ahead of her, it's easy for Graf Spee to over angle and give up too much broadside. This leaves her vulnerable to reprisals from AP shells.
  • Like all torpedo mounts, Graf Spee's mounts are highly vulnerable to HE (and British cruiser AP) shells. It's not uncommon for them to get disabled or destroyed, especially when under a lot of fire. Plan your attacks carefully.
  • Individually, the Steinbutts don't hit particularly hard. Even all four torpedoes cannot (and will not) sink a hale and healthy battleship short of setting off a detonation or flooding them out. While this will hurt them a lot, you've now got to contend with an understandably angry dreadnought.
  • Graf Spee herself isn't fast and she's huge.  This isn't a ship where you can easily sprint into torpedo range from an ambush position.  If you're married to the idea of a near suicidal rush of an enemy capital ship, expect to sacrifice a lot (if not all) of your health to get those hits in.

The extra 2km range on Graf Spee's torpedoes make them much easier to use than on other German cruisers (or German battleships for that matter), providing a welcome bit of shock-power to her armament.

Main Battery
 
Despite the similarities of gun caliber and mount appearance, Graf Spee does not use the same guns as found on Scharnhorst. Graf Spee's guns are an older, shorter barreled 283mm gun and this causes some disparity in performance between the two weapons. Graf Spee's guns hit harder and are far more accurate but they come with reduced penetration. Though her shells have a higher initial muzzle velocity, their shell drag coefficients are significantly worse which leads to longer shell flight times, decreased penetration over distance and higher shell arcs over range. However, it's her accuracy compared to other battleship guns that makes them remarkable.

While not on cruiser levels, Graf Spee has much improved dispersion over battleships. As beneficial as this trait appears, it's highly necessary for the balance of the ship: Graf Spee struggles to do damage quickly against most targets. Furthermore, she doesn't have the rate of fire or the number of barrels necessary to contend with the damage-per-minute output of other cuirsers. This same lack in guns also hurts her alpha-strike output.
 

Take Graf Spee's illustrated dispersion with a pinch of salt. Graf Spee suffers from a bug I call "downward drift". With the ship stationary and the guns trained on a distant target, the camera will slowly pan downward and reduce the range. With Graf Spee, this was particularly pronounced, with a loss of 60m to 80m worth of range over a 20 second firing cycle. This forced me to readjust after every salvo. This leads to an easily measurable +/- 10m vertical dispersion margin of error, but the damage on horizontal dispersion could be significantly larger, with only a distant nav buoy and rock formation to align my sites. The end result is that Graf Spee's dispersion is likely smaller than is being illustrated here. The only reason I include it in this review with these errors in mind is that the difference between Graf Spee's and Bismarck's dispersion is so pronounced that it's clearly visible even with this potential disparity.
 

In practice, these are not universal guns. They are highly specialized towards punishing cruisers -- particularly light cruisers where her 283mm AP shells can overmatch their thin bows and land citadels regardless of angles. Graf Spee does not have the penetration or shell fuse timer to punish battleships with citadel hits except at close range and against broadside targets. Heavy cruisers can successfully angle against Graf Spee and mitigate much of the damage of her AP shells. Thinly skinned ships like destroyers simply take an overpenetration or two, shrug it off and then have their way with you.

Reaching for HE shells doesn't correct these problems either. While they do have impressive levels of penetration, the damage of her HE shells is anemic -- striking for less on a per hit basis than Japanese 203mm. This gives Aoba not only higher damage per minute but a higher HE alpha strike too. On a per shell basis, Graf Spee's fire chance is the highest among cruisers but combined with her rate of fire deficiencies, she's the worst fire starter short of Leander by a significant margin. And that's saying something when you remember Duca d'Aosta is a tier VI cruiser.

You're always going to be hoping for those monstrous alpha strikes -- when the stars align and you catch a cruiser broadside and slap them with two or three citadel hits. Far more often you're going to be relegated to small amounts of chip damage; a thousand hit points here and there. This ship will not win any DPM races, but that doesn't mean she cannot out trade her opponents. Graf Spee has something the other cruisers don't: longevity. She's tough enough to survive most of what will be thrown back at her, so she tanks through the pain to try and land those crippling shots.

Summary:
  • Despite having battleship caliber guns, Graf Spee can struggle to do damage quickly to targets.
  • While it's easy to focus on alpha strike between AP shells and torpedoes, slow and steady accumulation of damage is Graf Spee's bread and butter.  Those big alpha strikes are memorable, even if they can be somewhat rare.
  • Her secondaries are surprisingly good, but not really good enough to be worth specializing.

Evaluation:
What it would have needed to be : Better flexibility with her weaponry. More range on her torpedoes, better secondaries for handling destroyers or a better HE shell on her main battery.


Defense
Hit Points: 39,400hp
Maximum Citadel Protection: 16mm anti-torpedo bulge + 100mm armoured belt + 40mm citadel wall.
Minimum Extremities & Deck Armour: 19mm
Torpedo Damage Reduction: 24%


Graf Spee has 10,600hp more than the average tier VI cruiser and 14,800hp less than the average tier VI battleship.

Graf Spee has an enormous hit point pool for a cruiser. When you take the average hit points of battleships and other cruisers at tier VI and compare them, Graf Spee sits just shy of the middle. This middle ground is duplicated in a few other ways with Graf Spee, both for good and ill. It makes her the toughest cruiser at tier VI by a landslide but she never gets close to challenging battleships for their supremacy of durability. She effectively has the health of a tier VIII cruiser two tiers lower, but she doesn't have everything her own way.

Fire Damage & Consumables

Graf Spee's continues to be unable to make up her mind on what ship type she is with her consumables. She uses a cruiser's Damage Control Party with its 5 second active period and 90s/60s reset timer. This does a lot to help the issues she experiences with fires. Graf Spee not only has access to a Repair Party like a battleship at her tier, she also uses a battleship version of the consumable. Graf Spee is incapable of recovering from citadel damage like higher tier cruisers, healing back only 10% of damage she receives there like a battleship instead of 33% as you might expect.

Patch 0.6.13 from November of 2017 halved the duration (and thus damage) of fires on cruisers and destroyers from 60 seconds down to 30 seconds. This means that a fire allowed to burn for its full length will remove 9% of a cruiser's total health instead of 18%. Graf Spee didn't quite get the same love, however. This is one of those instants where she sits in the unhappy middle ground between battleships and cruisers. Fires on Graf Spee burn for 45 seconds, costing her 5,319 hit points (13.5%) per blaze. This matches up almost perfectly with a single charge of her Repair Party (5,516hp).

The diminished base time on her fires does just enough to make investment in upgrades like Damage Control Modification 2 and commander skills like Basics of Survivability questionable. The 15% reduction these afford spares Graf Spee about 800hp per fire. Stacking the two saves her almost 1,500hp. These skill points and the upgrade slot could be much better spent elsewhere, such as with Superintendent to increase the number of charges she has on her consumables.

Armour Protection
In terms of armour protection, however, Graf Spee is undeniably a cruiser. There are only small traces of battleship pedigree here. Like most other German cruisers, Graf Spee's waterline citadel is completely enclosed, making her immune to citadel hits from HE shells. This also affords her slightly more protection with a combination of a belt plus an interior citadel wall. In addition, she has decent torpedo protection, reducing damage taken along her bulges by nearly 1/4. This is largely where any similarities to battleships ends, however.

Graf Spee's armoured belt is 100mm -- comparable to other cruisers like Budyonny, Leander and La Galissonnière. Her extremities are a mere 19mm thick, allowing them to be overmatched by any battleship-caliber shell she may encounter and they provide no protection against anything but the smallest caliber of HE shells being thrown about in her Matchmaking spread. Penetration damage will come regularly to this vessel.

The best that could be said about Graf Spee's armour layout is that it's sufficient to foil AP shells from cruiser-caliber guns. Properly angled, she can tank 152mm, 180mm and 203mm armour piercing shells for days, making her a very real threat to Royal Navy cruisers in particular. How fitting is that?

The Best (and Worst) of Both Worlds
You'd have to be all kinds of terrible to think that Graf Spee's durability is anything but amazing for a cruiser. Compared to a battleship, Graf Spee gets reduced fire damage and an improved Damage Control Party. Compared to a cruiser, Graf Spee enjoys excellent anti-torpedo protection, a massive hit point increase and access to the Repair Party consumable. She pays for this by taking more damage from fires than a cruiser would and her Repair Party isn't quite as good as it could be.

This seems like a trade in Graf Spee's favour.

It's important to keep in mind, however, that as good as her durability is, Graf Spee cannot go toe to toe with a battleship over prolonged encounters and expect to come out the better for it. Her protection makes her an excellent bully against cruisers. Against dreadnoughts, Graf Spee provides a little more forgiveness than you might otherwise experience in a cruiser, but only just. Devastating Strikes against you will still be commonplace if you give up her broadside, especially to some of those new French battleships with all of the guns.

Graf Spee has a second Achilles heel: destroyers. While she's well designed to outlast cruisers and limp away from unfortunate encounters with battleships, lolibotes present a very real threat. Given the weaknesses described earlier with her guns, short of lucky hits it takes far too long for Graf Spee to trade fire with an enemy destroyer gunship before they burn her down to the waterline. Torpedo boats are similarly dangerous. To be clear, this isn't a flaw of her durability but rather a weakness of her weapon systems. As tough as she is, she's not necessarily tough enough to come out the victor against a decently played destroyer.

Graf Spee's durability seems focused on making her a monster against cruisers and it does this very, very well.

Evaluation:
What would have to happen to DOWNGRADE to : Graf Spee stands well apart from the other ships at her tier. It's unlikely we'll see her knocked down from up high on her pillar. The only way I can think of would be if the Royal Navy battlecruiser line is introduced into the game as cruisers and not battleships.

Agility
Top Speed: 28.5 knots
Turning Radius: 680m
Rudder Shift Time: 10.3s
Maximum Rate of Turn: 5.2º/s

Graf Spee is slow.

There's no other qualifiers needed, really. While other cruisers are racing about at a minimum of 31.5 knots (and some in excess of 36), Graf Spee is rocking an epic tuba solo at a mere twenty-eight and a half. This has a splashdown effect across the rest of Graf Spee's handling. Though she maintains a cruiser's maximum speed in a turn (80% of maximum), her circle isn't small and her slower speed limits her agility as a result. She's one the slowest to come about, besting only Molotov -- and even then just barely. Her rudder shift time is also on the clumsy side.

Overall, Graf Spee handles better than a battleship and even better than a lot of the higher tiered cruisers, which is alright all things told. Against a good number of the battleship she faces, Graf Spee is fast enough to dictate engagement distances which will keep her alive. Finally, she doesn't even out turn her guns which makes her feel very comfortable and far more agile than she actually is.

Evaluation:
What it would have needed to be : More speed.
 
 
Speed Racer, she is not.
 
Anti-Aircraft Defense
AA Battery Calibers: 105mm / 37mm / 20mm
AA Umbrella Ranges: 4.5km / 3.5km / 2.0km
AA DPS per Aura: 49.8 / 10.4 / 30.0
Float Plane Fighter DPS: 48

One of the interesting curiousities about the modelling decision between Graf Spee and HSF Graf Spee is that the latter (using the W207 camouflage) has four additional, non-functional 20mm Flak 38s modeled. The rest of her AA gun mounts are identically placed when using other camouflage patterns and these four cosmetic AA guns disappear.

Without any bells or whistles, Graf Spee's AA power looks unimpressive. "Effective AA DPS" is equal to the DPS of the gun multiplied by the formula "weapon range - 1.0km". This stresses the importance of long-range firepower over close range AA mounts.

For a tier VI cruiser, Graf Spee has decent anti-aircraft firepower though she does not look it at first glance. Her effectiveness owes to most of her damage potential being concentrated in her large caliber, 105mm L/65 dual purpose mounts.  These put out 50dps base before upgrades and offer three benefits:
  • Graf Spee's anti-aircraft firepower is "front loaded", doing most of its damage at a distance before aircraft can line up their shot. Causing casualties early may dissuade carrier players from engaging her.
  • Dual purpose guns are far more resilient to damage than small and medium caliber AA guns. Graf Spee is more likely to keep her "teeth" later in a match than a cruiser that relied more on 40mm Bofors or 25mm guns.
  • Large caliber guns can benefit from more skills and bonuses than small or medium caliber.  Should a player choose to upgrade them, their increased performance is appreciable.
Graf Spee responds well to investment into AA firepower, including the skills Basic Fire Training, Advanced Fire Training and Manual Fire Control for AA Guns. However, it's the consumable Defensive AA Fire which truly makes Graf Spee's defenses sufficient to the task. Without it, even fully upgraded, Graf Spee's AA firepower will (at best) only bruise attack squadrons. You're unlikely to prevent drops entirely, even against a tier V Bogue or Zuiho.

This presents a bit of a problem for players when it comes to selecting their consumables. As a German vessel, Graf Spee has access to the improved version of Hydroacoustic Search and it can seem like a waste to set this aside in favour of a consumable whose use is far more limited. It's a difficult choice to make and even I flip-flop between the two based on previous experiences. Either one is a "safe" choice but it will affect how you respond to destroyer and aircraft carrier threats.


"Maximum Effective DPS" includes all possible bonuses from AA upgrades, skills and signals, including the use of
Defensive AA Fire where applicable (those without are marked with an asterisk). Under the effects of her consumable and a full AA build, Graf Spee proves to be quite a prickly target and one of the better defended tier VI cruisers in the game. The importance and impact of her large caliber guns becomes readily apparent. Without specialization, though, she's lackluster.

Evaluation:
What it would have needed to be : Graf Spee has a long way to go to separate herself from the pack. She would need a significant (and perhaps even modernized) AA-suite to make her truly advantageous.

Refrigerator
Surface Detection Range: 13.14 km
Air Detection Range: 8.49 km
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 11.22km
Concealment when Firing in Smoke: 9.47km

Destroyers will make you bite the pillow.

Graf Spee isn't a cruiser where it's generally safe to push early. While she doesn't have the worst surface detection range at tier VI, yet she still deserves a rating where concealment is concerned. She is one of the largest cruisers at her tier with a surface detection range on par with Budyonny. However, she has the worst aerial detection range of any of the tier VI cruisers. In addition, her gun bloom while in smoke is again the largest among cruisers.

Enemy destroyers sitting within smoke in an aggressive position will spot Graf Spee every time she fires where other cruisers might keep hidden. While battleships also share this problem, Graf Spee doesn't have their resilience and she quickly becomes a magnet for incoming fire. Your worst nightmare is following an advance on a cap circle only to have a friendly destroyer dump smoke when they meet resistance. You're blind yet any enemy lolibotes will keep you lit for their heavy hitters to have their way with you.

And they will have their way with you.

To this end, it's difficult to play Graf Spee aggressively in the opening minutes of a match -- at least until destroyers and CV attentions can be sniffed out. This is unfortunate given the strengths of Graf Spee's Hydroacoustic Search consumable. It could be a powerful asset on the front lines, but in Graf Spee's hands it's largely relegated to simple torpedo detection until late in a match. She is already poorly armed to handle destroyers, and her large size (and slow speed) makes spotting and engaging anything but low health destroyers problematic.

Evaluation:
What it would have needed to be : Graf Spee would need to lose at least a kilometer of base surface detection.
 
Helping Control the Pet Population Problem
 One of Graf Spee's best features is as a trainer.  Unlike ships whose performance is closely linked to the proper selection of commander skills, Graf Spee is forgiving in the extreme.  While there are some skills of higher value than others, not having the must-haves doesn't make playing this ship an ordeal.  In this regard, Graf Spee makes an excellent trainer of low-skill point commanders and as a cross-trainer for commanders specialized in any other ship type. 
  • Battleship commander?  Not a problem.  Stick him in her.
  • Lolibote captain?  Don't worry, he'll love riding Graf Spee.
  • You just bought Graf Zeppelin and you want to get to 10 skill points before committing crimes against humanity?   Don't worry, Graf Spee will take all comers.

    Why are you all snickering?
A further point to mention is that HSF Graf Spee may be used to train not only German commanders, but she may also be used to train any of the High School Fleet girls regardless of their nationality. The only exception to this currently is the cat, Isoroku, which is bugged in 0.7.3 and can only captain Harekaze (don't worry, I expressed my outrage to Wargaming -- they may even fix it). Wargaming is really going out of their way to make the Hight School Fleet version of this ship look more appealing.
 
Right, let's get onto skill choices.  Start with the following build:
 
 
This will give you better awareness, an improved rate of fire, more charges of your consumable and reduced surface detection range. Ideally, you'll want to follow this up with Advanced Fire Training, Basic Fire Training and Expert Marksman at tiers 4, 3 and 2 respectively to finish this off.  This will give you a nice solid build with the flexibility to swap between Defensive AA Fire or Hydroacoustic Search with your consumables and take all comers.  As an added plus, your secondaries will get their range boosted.

Thea Kreuzer
When you purchase HSF Graf Spee, not only do you get the bonus second (anime) camouflage scheme, but you also currently get a bonus 6pt commander in the form of Thea Kreuzer.  As if you needed any more reason for the High School Fleet version of Graf Spee to provide more value than the original.

This is one of the characters from the High School Fleet show where she commands Graf Spee.  While any German commander may captain HSF Graf Spee, Thea may also captain any German ship of your choosing with a simple change of specialization.  She may commander any of your German premiums without cost, of course.  In addition, she may also command HSF Harekaze -- the Japanese premium destroyer.

Using Thea Kreuzer in your ships changes the national dialogue of all ships in game to the cast of High School Fleet, making it sound like you're immersed in one of the episodes of the show.
 
Final Evaluation
Mouse's Summary:
  • Her hitting power is pretty good, but this comes from the combination of all of her weapon systems, not just her guns.  While you're going to be hoping for those big alpha strikes, you're probably going to have to settle for a lot of middling damage hits.  Relying solely upon her main battery guns can (and does) work, but you need a lot of time to make the damage add up. 
  • Fortunately time is typically something Graf Spee has in spades.  Her durability for a tier VI cruiser is great, though it's somewhat contingent on avoiding battleship attention.
  • Be really mindful of enemy destroyers in this ship.  Celebrate any chance you get to hit them with your torpedoes, though.  That's always hilarious.

I didn't think very highly of Graf Spee when I first reviewed her. 

Oh, I liked her fine, but during play testing, way back in December of 2016, some of my fellow CCs just couldn't make this ship work.  This spoke to me of a higher learning curve which limited accessibility. However, if you can get over this initial hurdle, Graf Spee really mellows out and she becomes a joy to play.  What I didn't account for was how many players would slip past this obstacle and settle in.  I greatly underestimated her appeal, how doggedly people would keep at it and, as a result, how well liked she would become within the community.  I suppose people were quite willing to tough her out.  It doesn't hurt that she was initially handed out for free or that she's as historically significant as she is.

So yeah, this is a good ship.  It's fun and it offers something different for players in mid tiers. 
 
Graf Spee, like Atago and the upcoming Abruzzi release, demonstrates how much power there really is in the Repair Party consumable.  At tiers where it isn't commonplace, it's a complete game changer.  Graf Spee takes this a step further with her enormous hit point pool relative to her peers.  She doesn't flirt with battleship levels of durability, mind you, but she's no slouch.  This simply affords players more time to keep shooting.  Given enough bites of the apple, Graf Spee performs.  Sometimes its in big, high alpha strike ways.  At others, it's just a slow, methodical stacking of low damage again and again and again.
 
The promise of delivering battleship-style alpha strikes against cruisers is a seductive lure.  While this does happen reasonably often against select opponents (specifically, sweet & delicious Omaha and Emerald-class cruisers), farming Devastating Strikes just doesn't happen.  If you can console yourself to play "spot the Murmansk" in those matches where you're top or middle tier, then you may find some mileage this way, it's foolish to expect it anytime a cruiser slips between your crosshairs.  If you can wrap your mind around that, then Graf Spee is one Hell of a ride.
 
Enough praises.  Let's talk about the anime crossover, High School Fleet and how it affects Graf Spee.
 
HSF Graf Spee is all but a clone of Graf Spee.  Unlike the Kamikaze-sisters, HSF Graf Spee is hands down superior to the original which preceded her.  Even if you don't like anime at all, the ability to mount a skin which all but removes all traces of the show mitigates this.  As far as anime skins go, I do believe that the W207 is the best looking (if unhistorical) of the three that have been made available between the two ships.  If you were intending to spend money to own one of these two ships,HSF Graf Spee is the better purchase.  It's all because of that bonus 100% free experience gain which is invaluable.  While on its own, it doesn't amount to much but when combined with stacking bonuses available between signal flags, dragon flags and events, the amount you can gain is just too much to ignore.
 
As I write this, HSF Graf Spee (and HSF Harekaze) are unavailable on all other servers with the exception of the NA server.  In North America, players are given the choice between both versions of Graf Spee and the choice is obvious. This makes me feel bad for players in other regions that are missing out.  Remember to bug your contacts at Wargaming if you want the crossover version of this ship available in your region!

Would I Recommend?
It's worth restating (for the umpteenth time) that there are two Graf Spee ships out there.  Short of price, the Anime crossover version is superior due to the economical bonuses she has over the standard ship and the inclusion of a pre-trained commander as well.
  • PVE Battles
    How well does the ship maintain profitability in Co-Op modes and how does she fare against bots?
Very yes.  In Co-op battles, especially, Graf Spee is a monster.  She works alright in scenarios too, though the prevalence of destroyers can be taxing on her guns.
  • Random Battle Grinding:
    This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements.
Yes, Graf Spee is a great trainer for any German captain on your roster.
  • For Competitive Gaming:
    Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding.
I'd give her a pass here.  You could make her work, but you'd be better served with a ship that has more versatility with her armaments.  Dat durability, tho...
  • For Collectors:
    If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you.

Very yes.  It's Admiral Graf Spee. 

  • For Fun Factor:
    Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play?
Graf Spee offers unique game play unmatched even by the premium Soviet cruisers at tiers 9 and 10.
  • What's the Final Verdict?
    How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage - Meh - Gud - Overpowered?
GARBAGE - The boat is unbalanced, not fun to play and weak. The ship desperately needs some buffs or some quality of life changes.
Mehbote - An average ship. Has strengths and weaknesses. Doesn't need buffs to be viable however she's not going to be considered optimal.
Gudbote - A powerful ship, often one of the best ships at a given role within its tier. Usually considered optimal for a given task.
OVERPOWERED - The boat is unbalanced and powerful. Typically she's either horrible to play against or she redefines the meta entirely.


Are you cringing yet?  I tried to cram as much Azur Lane & High School Fleet in as I could -- just like World of Warships!

 Appendix
A list of sites, programs and people I rely upon to create my reviews.

Research:

Artwork:

For Graphics:

Programs Used:

  • World of Warships (duh)
  • Notepad (seriously)
  • MS Paint (also, seriously)
  • iPhone Stopwatch App (yep)

Hardware:

Mouse toils away on an old i7-2600K 3.40GHz computer with 16GB RAM and an Nvidia 560Ti GPU running a 64bit OS.
 
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