From the Depths: Seven tips to improve your World of Warships experience

It’s no secret that World of Warships has had a rough year thanks to dodgy monetization mechanics and Wargaming’s treatment of employees and players. But the game itself is undeniably one of the most unique war arcade PvP experiences available – and it’s a difficult game to master. Over the past two years, I’ve picked up some tips that have helped to both improve my gameplay and preserve my sanity. Hopefully, some of these recommendations will help to smooth over the experience for newer and seasoned players alike.

Don’t rush up a tech tree line or buy your way into higher tiers

In every forum for every MMO, a player who has recently discovered the game posts the same question: What is the quickest way to get to the endgame? World of Warships is no exception, with the “endgame” typically being a tier 10 warship of some kind. Despite the cautions and advice of more seasoned players to not rush the experience, the new player is very convinced that due to natural talent and many years spent video gaming, he will be the exception to the rule and will triumph where others have failed. Spoiler alert: He will not.

First, I’d contest the notion that the only fun to be had in Warships is at the higher tiers. I’ve had plenty of matches in tiers 5-8 that were more enjoyable than tiers 9 and 10 Second, the best way to be effective in the higher tiers is to play more matches. The tech trees start at tier 1 for a reason. The game is designed to slowly introduce new concepts, capabilities, and opponent skill level as players progress through the line. Playing through tier 4 and then buying a premium tier 9 ship will only result in more frustration for both the player and his teammates as they’ll enter the match unprepared for higher-level gameplay. Don’t skip the grind.

Play lots and lots of classes of ships

There are a few schools of thought on this one. Some players insist that specializing in a certain type of ship allows for more practice and better expertise for that class. I’ve taken the opposite approach of playing as many different ship types as possible to learn the techniques and capabilities of those ships. World of Warships feels like a game of chess where all the pieces move at the same time in both attacking and defensive positions; succeeding in engagements is dependent on understanding an opponent’s capabilities. The first thing I do at the start of the match is scan the enemy team’s ship roster to take note of the number of radar ships, torpedo boats, and other nasty surprises.

And how do I know which ships are armed with those utilities? Because I’ve played most of them! The best way I’ve found to memorize a ship’s capabilities is to get my hands on it and use it. Playing against ships I’m not familiar with is, to take the chess metaphor a bit further, like trying to play against a knight or a rook without knowing how that piece moves. Beyond weapons and consumables, different ships use different attack and defense techniques and have different armor schemes, detectability ranges, speeds, strengths, and weaknesses. It does take some time, but eventually, players who have experienced many different ships are able to assess one-on-one engagements and even larger strategic maneuvers at a glance of the screen.

Study the game outside of the game

Read posts, watch YouTube videos, and interact with streamers. In previous posts, I’ve lamented the lack of a feedback mechanism built into World of Warships. In a 12v12 random match, it’s nearly impossible for new players to gauge whether a move was valid or analyze a strategic blunder based on the outcome of the match. Some ability to differentiate will come naturally through playing the game, but I’ve found it very helpful to look over the shoulder of an experienced streamer. I’d advise finding one who is able to explain both why she made a move and why it was successful or not. Avoid the ones who play silently and rarely explain the game mechanics. They may be entertaining, but you won’t learn as much. There are also many good Warships YouTubers, but just be wary of outdated videos. The game is tweaked often, so videos older than two years tend to no longer be useful for educational purposes.

Don’t pay too much attention to your win rate

This one is difficult for me but has become vital for my continued enjoyment of the game. Using the in-game summary and various third-party sites, you can hyper-analyze your match statistics in Warships. In fact, it’s possible to drive yourself crazy with your match statistics. I used to look at my statistics every day, thinking it was a good way to measure progress and improvement.

The problem with this is that your win rate (the most popular stat quoted by WoWs players) is more useful for long-term analysis than tracking day-to-day progress. Several consecutive days of “bad” results may not be indicative of player improvement due to unpredictable matchmaking. Nowadays I like to check my stats every three or four weeks just to see how things are trending. I’ve found that my improvement is better reflected over the long term when using this approach. Regardless, don’t get too hung up on any one number in your statistics dump. A 43% win rate may indicate poor relative performance, but it doesn’t preclude moments of enjoyment!

Ignore your karma score completely

In a lackluster attempt to address the lack of feedback mentioned earlier, Wargaming has implemented a karma system that uses upvoting and downvoting of players for various reasons. In theory, karma (via the number of compliments and reports) would give players immediate feedback on how they just performed in the previous match. Unfortunately, players can be complimented and reported for any reason (or no reason), and they never know where the feedback came from or why; some players report others simply for playing a class of ship they don’t like.

So it’s essentially useless as a feedback mechanism and can instead discourage players who may have performed well. I’ve found the system so useless that I’ve installed a mod that blocks all notifications related to the karma system and hides my score from me. Just ignore it; you’ll be much happier and less confused. Like your personal statistics mentioned above, a low karma rate can be frustrating to new players. But unlike your personal statistics, karma is not based on actual game performance but rather on the personal whims of other players who may or may not be just as clueless as you are!

Look at the minimap often

New players often overlook the importance of the minimap in WoWs. But I once heard a seasoned player say he spent half of the match watching the minimap. The minimap is the chessboard tracking the movement of every piece in play. It’s easy to zone in to what’s going on in your immediate vicinity and forget that there are 11 other ships on your team, some supporting you and some in need of support. Players who can react to and anticipate situations based on friendly and enemy positions have a greater influence on the match than those with tunnel vision.

Consider buying premium time once you’ve learned the basics

If you’re a newer player who has been able to grind one or two tier 10 ships and you feel that it’s time to spend some money on the game, the best bang for your buck is premium time. While buying a ship will allow you to play that one ship with added bonuses, premium time includes bonuses to credit and experience gain on any ship you play. It can speed up the grind once you’ve got a solid grasp on what constitutes a good play and a misplay. Premium time is $100US for 365 days, but historically has gone on sale for 50% off as the year winds down. My advice would be to play the game for free until you’ve been able to grind a tier ten ship or two, though. An added benefit to buying premium time is that it sends the message that this is the type of monetization that players want, not the random loot boxes that seem to be all the rage.

Whether you’re the captain of a historical battleship or a feisty pirate queen on the deck of a smuggling vessel, the high seas are the final frontier of many MMOs! Join the MOP team here in From the Depths for occasional voyages into all the ocean-going MMOs of the moment. Just don’t sink our boat!
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