War Thunder

Why Naval RB’s latest DM changes were shit, and how to fix them.

warthunder 3 - Why Naval RB's latest DM changes were shit, and how to fix them.

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Personally, I never really liked tanks. It's too easy to get killed by people you never saw, and in one hit.

I loved ships gameplay because it was slower, more methodical, and gave you time to think and consider, all while still demanding active work of the player. But often, it's still too quick. At closer ranges, my Fletcher and/or Farragut can hose down a comparable Japanese destroyer in under a minute. That's a bit too much lethality.

Below are some of the issues I have just heard of, as well as some I've seen myself. However, I'm not just whining. I've got ideas for solutions, and I tried to make it so they'd be fairly easy to implement.

I've done a fair amount of browsing the forums and chatting with all 3 people who play naval in a few discords I'm in (ha lol nobody plays Naval haha), including some dataminers who have done incredibly detailed tests. DM issues are many, but generally lead to ships dying too quickly. IMO, DMs need some major changes, if not a complete overhaul. Frankly, the reduction in TTK with this patch simply baffles me. I don't think I encountered anyone in my Naval games who thought ships needed to be more fragile. Let me ask you a question. How many modern warships have you ever heard of that were wiped out by killing all the crew onboard? I can't think of one, while the ships that died to fire, structural damage, and flooding are incredibly numerous. Currently, WT Naval matches leave a bunch of structurally sound ships floating crewless.

EDIT: Let's be clear, I still actually really enjoy naval! I know it isn't exactly the most popular mode, but that's a damn shame. It has a ton of potential, and even low tiers can be fantastic fun. (If anyone would like, I'd be happy to type of some of my experiences and tips I've learned thus far.)


Quick note before I really get going, a few elements of my proposed system are already in game. e.g., flooding does increase with speed, and severity does seem to rely on the kind of weapon punching the holes in your hull. IIRC, damaged modules do work at lower efficiency, though I'm not sure exactly how severe the curve is.

I'm aware not everything here is new. I wanted to be sure to spell out how I thought the mechanics should work. Finally, please let me know what you think!

Just to get started right off the bat with a couple damage issues, which generally make ships weaker and more killable.

  • Structural Steel fails to generate any spall when struck by AP or SAP shells, the fragmentation essentially all coming from the shell itself. Thin structural steel may not spall as much as penetrated armor, but it's not butter. It's still going to form spall, especially when a large-caliber AP or SAP shell punches through ~15-25mm of it.

  • Walls, bulkheads, and armor either don't actually stop shell fragments and HE like they should, or aren't properly modeled, meaning HE (especially of larger calibers) does massive amounts of damage where IRL damage would be fairly localized. 1 203mm shell shouldn't turn two full sections on a Cruiser black and take out half the crew.

    • I've seen claims of both missing interior bulkheads and excessive HE fragment penetration. I don't know which is correct, but the latter would cause all the issues I've heard of so far. That being said, it could be multiple issues. The short version is that HE frag is too deadly and needs to be dialed back a bit, and SAP/AP need a little love.

The new "not enough crew for repair" has potential, but currently, there's no way to choose fighting vs repairing. It's just like the wounded pilot mechanic that briefly found its way into air battles. Instead of introducing tactics, choice, and risk to the gameplay, it just cripples you. I'm the captain, so I should be able to choose what my crew is prioritizing. Nothing is more infuriating than sitting safe behind an island, out of range and line of sight of enemies, slowly sinking because my men on the guns refuse to grab a bucket and start bailing, even as the water reaches their ankles. That being said, DDs shouldn't be running around on 1% crew like nothing is wrong, right after I nearly killed them. (

) However, I think the accruing of permanent physical damage, flooded compartments, and changes to fire mechanics would make this less of a problem. Allow me to explain:

DJBscout's overhauled damage system:

Let's start with the current way things work right now. The current damage model revolves around "crew %", an arbitrary(ish) limit of how few crew can properly operate the ship. It's kinda silly, and not too far off from the Health Bars of that other game, which admittedly isn't a terrible model, but we can do better! In some ways, our current model is even worse than health bars! How, you ask?

Currently, it's actually a better idea to turn your front guns on an opponent, and have your ship facing theirs. This is the reverse of the classic "crossing the T" maneuver, as the reduction in damage received is an excellent trade for the reduction in damage dealt, unlike in real life. (yes, I know the situations are different and don't translate perfectly. Bear with me.) If your opponent aims for your turrets, sure, they might knock them out, but they'll come back online shortly, and it doesn't cost you much crew. You can also keep a portion of your ship poking out from behind an island, such as the nose or tail, with similar results. Once they turn the compartments they can see/target black, they can't do anything else to you (except maybe plink away at your bridge), and systems will continue to function, with no penalty for the absolute beatdown your ship is receiving. The end result is that currently, ships are too durable by individual section, but are overall very weak to relatively small amounts of incoming fire. As such, I propose we replace crew % with:

Big Idea 1: Structural Integrity

The current implementation of crew % is actually pretty close to structural condition in many ways, but it needs some major tweaks to make more sense for both realism and gameplay purposes.

1. % Integrity: This is essentially the equivalent of "crew %", but a LOT tougher. Structural kills will be slower than crew kills, but the tradeoff is that combat performance of individual sections will be much more hampered by direct damage.

  • In the end, the structural condition would be generally less vulnerable to instantaneous damage, but fire, flooding, and heavy damage would become much more important in the long run. Ships would be able to take a lot more of a beating, BUT the beating they receive would take more of a toll on the ships' combat effectiveness.
  • The best part of this is that it would require almost no changes to the current compartments or damage modeling, mainly working by tweaking existing game mechanics.
    • % Integrity would be based on ship construction and durability (roughly determined based on tonnage, ship class, and construction materials), rather than number of crew, so the stock values would increase (probably).
    • If the HE vs AP shifts I mentioned above are implemented, the damage of individual (large) HE shells would decrease, and the general damage of SAP and AP would increase slightly, though it still wouldn't match HE for general destruction of unarmored targets/sections.
    • The main change here would be making bulkheads and interior construction more frag-resistant, containing explosions and damage in smaller areas.
    • Again, this isn't radical. Most of what this boils down to is bulking up structure frag resistance (i.e., increasing how much they stop frag they are hit with, NOT decreasing much they spall when they are penetrated) slightly, then nerfing large (stuff like the Graf Spee's ludicrous 203mm) HE fragments/shells. Smaller HE shells (stuff like the 3" on US sub chasers, and the varied 76-85mm guns on Soviet gunboats) are absolutely fine in their current state.

2. Repair times:

  • If a compartment of a ship is thoroughly turned to swiss cheese, with dozens (or even more) of hits from high-caliber guns in the same localized area of a ship, the structural integrity of the section will decrease. Essentially, as you blow bits off of and tear through the ship's structure, it's going to become harder to traverse, sub-systems, critical lines (electricity, water, steam) will become damaged, and structures will overall be weakened. Crazy thought, right?
  • Sections will essentially be the exact same compartments of the current models, just beefed up a bit to represent structure, instead of crew %.
  • This would be modeled as follows:
    • As the integrity of an area decreases, repair times increase. Again, it's much like the current system. As crew % decreases, repair times go up, the difference here is that the repair time difference will mostly be by individual compartments and their integrity. The system I propose is twofold:
    • Firstly, the overall structural integrity modifier, similar to the current crew % (just a lot stronger/slower to decrease).
    • Secondly, the individual compartment's structural integrity.
    • Multiply the two together for the repair modifier of a given section, weighting individual section condition over the overall condition.
    • Results:
Section integrityShip IntegrityRepair Speed
lowlowslow af
  • So, how will this present in gameplay?

    • If a section/compartment takes a couple hits, it'll still be just fine, especially with the beefed up frag resistance.
    • However, if a ship has one section taking a particularly heavy beating, (for example, if the bow and bow turrets are peaking out from behind a island and taking all the hits), that 1 section will struggle to remain combat-capable as it takes more and more damage. Given enough volume of fire, it should to be possible to knock out certain key modules entirely. Speaking of which,

3. (Semi-)Permanent Module Destruction: If a ship is well and truly taking a beating, certain key structural elements are going to be struck. Currently, the effects of these being struck isn't always clear, and the only modules of a ship that can't be restored back to nearly undamaged condition are the compartments themselves and some fuel tanks. I propose changes for the following systems:

Ammunition and related systems:

1. If an ammo elevator gets hit:

  • On being hit, loading speed is reduced by half (third?) the % damage so long as the rack is functional. (e.g., an elevator is hit, and turned yellow, dropping load speed by 10%. ~20% damage, ~10% speed reduction. It gets hit again and is turned red, at 90% damage, dropping speed to 45%. .5*90% damage = 45% speed reduction)
  • If the elevator is destroyed (turned black), ammo cannot be fed until it is repaired.

2. If a ready rack gets hit:

  • Upon being hit, ammo capacity is reduced by the % damage, rounded up to the nearest 1, and not dropping below 1 capacity total so long as the rack is functional. (e.g., a ready rack with a capacity of 10 is hit, and turned yellow, dropping capacity to 8. ~20% damage, ~20% ammo capacity is removed. It gets hit again and is turned red, at 95% damage, dropping capacity to 1. The rack is ~95% damaged, 10 rounds would be removed, but there's a minimum of 1 round capacity for functioning racks, so instead the capacity is reduced to 1 instead of 0.)

  • If the ready rack is mounted on or immediately adjacent to the turret:

    • Upon a ready rack being destroyed (turned black), all ready ammo is lost, and the turret is disabled. (not destroyed, but no ammo at all can be fed until the ready rack is repaired)
    • If the ammunition in the ready rack detonates, the rack, turret, and any attached ammo elevators are automatically destroyed. The ammo explosion also does structural damage and potentially sets a deck fire at that location. Until the rack and elevators are repaired, no ammo can be fed.

    Nearby elevators don't count, and aren't necessarily destroyed, though the explosion might destroy them anyway. Damage, fire chance, and fire size are all dependent on the amount of ammo that is set off.

  • If the ready rack is further away from the turret, intermediate to the turret and main ammo storage:

    • Upon a ready rack being destroyed, all ready ammo is lost, and any attached ammo elevators are disabled. No ammo can be fed until the rack is repaired.
    • If the ammunition in the ready rack detonates, the rack and any attached ammo elevators are automatically destroyed. The ammo explosion does structural damage and potentially sets a deck fire. Until the rack and elevators are repaired, no ammo can be fed.

    Amount of ammo detonated determines damage, fire chance, and fire size.

  • Sufficiently large ready racks (like those on the Pr.159/Pr.35) may be coded to adopt main ammo storage behavior upon detonation.

3. If a main ammo storage gets hit:

  • Upon being hit, ammo capacity is reduced, though perhaps not quite as severely as the ready rack.

  • If main storage is "destroyed", all ammo in it is "lost" (unusable), and the storage is permanently destroyed, i.e. the storage cannot be repaired. Reload for the fed turrets becomes incredibly slow. You're now running ammunition from the other end of the ship (assuming there is another main ammo storage) to the ready racks (if they're even operational), severely limiting capacity. (The icon for this could look like stick figure carrying a naval shell and an arrow?)

    Yes, this is a bit harsh, but main ammo storages are usually difficult targets to hit (small, well-protected, and usually hidden among other things), and that accuracy should be rewarded. This also means taking out the ready rack for an effected turret means any new ammo will have to be run all the way to the front once it is repaired. I'm also not 100% sure if a destroyed storage should still be able to be detonated, though I'd lean towards yes.

  • If the main storage detonates, the storage and turrets it feeds are permanently destroyed. They cannot be repaired. You're also looking at massive structural damage to the front of the ship, likely including fires and massive flooding.

    side note, the visuals for detonating main storages could be amazing. I'm talking turrets exploding off of ships, sparks flying everywhere, and a raging inferno pluming out from the magazine

  • While I'm talking about ammo racks, taking less ammo needs to actually mean the ammo racks aren't completely filled, starting at the bottom/center/least vulnerable positions. This could really help some ships with ammo storage that extends above the waterline.

    • As a further aside here, ammo storages/racks can be destroyed by hitting the module, but ammo detonations can only occur if you actually hit ammo/shells (specifically, charges)


1. Engine: If an engine is taken out, it's gonna take some time to properly repair. Engines are big, complicated, and can be dangerous to work on, especially if they're damaged.

  • Engines are especially difficult (read: impossible) to repair while they're running, meaning a repair while running will be unable to restore full functionality (no better than light orange/50% condition), and will take longer.

    Damage control can automatically do this, or you can turn off the option in settings, and manually shut down an engine before/during the repair.

  • Destroyed engines are obviously shut down, but will also be fully repaired by default, meaning it'll take longer.

2. Transmission: see engine. Big, complicated, and hard to work on when they're doing turny turny.

  • Same restrictions as engine.

3. Boiler: Boilers are massive pressure vessels, aka bombs that haven't exploded, yet

  • If a boiler is hit, it might explode in a way not too dissimilar from a magazine detonation. This would incur permanent destruction of the boiler/related engine, structural damage, as well as potential fires and/or flooding in that section (more on that later)

    not sure what exact IRL conditions lead to catastrophic boiler failure, but those should be fulfilled for such a catastrophic failure to occur in-game.

Big Idea 2: Damage Control Revamp

Deployment of firefighting, mechanical repairs, and breach repair/pumping/unwatering should no longer be automatic, but rather manual. This means one will actually need to pay attention to the condition one's ship is in, rather than simply letting the AI take care of it all as you plink away at opponents, and checking your crew % occasionally.

Alternatively, the automatic response could be made a bit slower, and/or the penalty for not prioritizing a given function/running simultaneous DC functions could be increased, to the point where auto was viable, but manual deployment offered a clear advantage for a skilled player

This could also allow players to choose what function damage control parties would prioritize. For example:

  • Ship have minor flooding from shell hits in non-crucial areas, but an ammo fire in the front? Only select/activate firefighting, then wait for the crew to finish that before telling them to start pumping/sealing.
  • Major flooding from a torp and a medium fire belowdecks from a small bomb? Prioritize pumps/sealing, then kick firefighting in once the bulkheads are sealed.
  • Dead engine with small deck fire near the bridge while you're still being shelled? Prioritize the engine repairs, so you can escape behind a nearby island.

This also makes the tradeoff of whether or not you should treat fires an actual choice with risks, instead of just always popping firefighting as soon as a fire breaks out. If you can afford to let a small fire (or 2 or 3) burn, it might be worth it to not activate firefighting, in favor of the quicker engine repair and chance of escape. This also makes "nuisance fires" actually more important than they seem, simultaneously increasing the importance of fire in the long term while reducing its short-term lethality, which is currently insane. "What do you mean, 'nuisance fires'?" I hear you ask. Yes, nuisance fires. Keep reading.

1. Fire: Fires are far too dangerous when they start. The fire chance is good, but deck fires should mostly be a nuisance. If you hit the ammo or boilers, then you should be looking at more serious fires, or even catastrophic failures/explosions. Right now, if you start a fire on the superstructure, it spreads incredibly aggressively, and ticks crew down as if they were moths flying into a lantern, as if it were an engine/ammo fire. – Fire types ought to exist: (listed in order of severity from least to greatest) – Deck fires: flammable substances on the decks and in the structures such as wood, fabric, etc. Very little structural damage or crew attrition, mainly a nuisance. Their danger would lie in their ability to potentially spread if left untreated, first to other deck sections, then to fuel reserves, and even ammo. These would be fairly common, resulting from hits to the deck or superstructure.

They would also be extinguishable with man-portable equipment, and in essence wouldn't require FPE to put out with ease. The later types should still be extinguishable without FPE, but it should be much slower. On deck fires, the difference would be fairly small.

  • Fuel Fires: coal/oil, set on fire. Somewhat self-explanatory. Slightly more crew attrition than deck fires if left untreated, and their danger would be their proximity to boilers and ammunition, and higher speed in spreading the fire to these areas. Essentially, worse deck fires, resulting from hits to fuel reserves, or a deck fire that spreads. Coal and oil might have different fire chances and/or severity.

    Not sure exactly how common fuel fires were IRL, so I don't know how common they should be in game. IIRC, coal bunkers were planned as secondary armor, so these fires may not be able to be set directly, instead requiring a deck fire nearby to set them off.

  • Engine/Boiler fires: Again, somewhat self-explanatory. The controlled internal combustion of the engine/boiler compartments is suddenly neither internal, nor controlled. Main danger comes from the fact that the crew/engineers in these compartments would need to abandon any efforts to control the engines, repair breaches, or fight flooding. However, if left untreated, these fires could eventually result in catastrophic boiler failure (increased pressure, no engineers to regulate the machinery, etc…), an event on par with ammunition detonations.

  • Ammo fires: Put this out, or your ammo will explode. I don't think I need to explain why this is dangerous. Only result from direct hits, or a fire that spreads. Bulkheads and armor around areas that handle ammo are usually pretty dense, so deck fires will be somewhat slow to spread the last few compartments to ammo. Fuel fires would be quicker.

2. Flooding: Flooding shouldn't be so quick to stop, but also shouldn't be too severe in the moment. IRL, flooding was generally a long-term killer, relatively slow, but also hard to fight back against. However, currently in the game, bombs and torps are either near-instant kills, or shrugged off within a couple minutes. The goal of this flooding model would be to decrease flood speed, but also make it harder to fight, and requiring more sacrifice to do so effectively. I propose 3 main mechanics:

1. Size of hole: What made the hole? Is it a torp, that leaves a gaping tear? Is it a 40mm AP projectile? A 130mm HE that'll make a huge entry wound?

  • As you travel faster, more water rushes in. Bigger and/or more holes = faster flooding
  • The crew's ability to patch holes damage becomes seriously limited as the holes get bigger (i.e., torps leave massive gaping holes that crews almost cannot hope to patch.)

2. Location:

  • If you take hits below the waterline, sections/bulkheads should fill, rather than the ship as a whole. Each compartment would likely contain a number of different sectors that could be sealed off. In the event of a breach that cannot be patched, crew would attempt to seal off the bulkheads and rooms that connected to the holes/flooding. > Ideally, ruptured walls and bulkheads would be simulated on an individual level, but that would be rather resource-intensive. Rather, % integrity could be used to determine the efficacy with which the crew could seal off rooms within a given compartment. Additionally, one could query for damaged modules below the waterline to provide another sense of how damaged the bulkhead systems might be. Certain crucial systems (engines, ammo) might have boxes of bulkheads/seals surrounding them, keeping them from flooding and becoming non-functional.

3. Breached vs Flooded:

  • Breaches: Everything starts as a breach, with more air than water in the compartment.

    • For smaller holes, the crew can repair the breach, and stop the flow of water from leaking in.
    • However, for larger breaches, such as those caused by large explosions, the damage control here would be more about trying to pump out water or sealing off rooms/areas with bulkheads, instead of attempting to seal holes completely.

    crews could also lock down doors and bulkheads without repair tools, which would allow stock ships to stave off/reduce flooding instead of being doomed if they take a few hits below the waterline – Breach repairs are also limited by speed, and also scale with hole size. A hit from an AP 40mm might be quickly patchable at all speeds, but a hole from an 8" gun might not be repairable at all over 20kph, and a torp might require nearly coming to a stop to try and patch the hole. Repairs will also be slower at speed.

  • Flooded sections: If a section is sealed off with bulkheads because patching the breach isn't viable at the current speed, the section will flood, filling up with water until the sealed section is filled.

    • Once a section becomes flooded, modules contained within become non-functional.

    Key areas like ammo storage and engines would be more likely to be pumped out instead of being sealed off, as the crew would fight much harder to keep those crucial sections operable. However, they could still be flooded with a sufficient number of shell hits without repair, or sufficiently close torp hits. – If one was able to get to cover and stop, the crew might be able to recover some flooded sections and/or repair breaches they were previously unable to. – Flooded sections will either have to be pumped out first, or will not be able to be recovered at all. (not sure which yet)

    Tactical beaching might be an option to try and drain a flooded section.

  • Results:

    • As a ship engaged in a fight and took hits below the waterline, it would accrue flooded/breached sections where the crew had to seal off bulkheads/pump rather than patch holes, respectively.
    • Over time, if not addressed, flooding could slowly spread through damaged compartments with leaky bulkheads.
    • If a partially flooded ship entered another engagement, it could suffer from
  1. non-functional modules
  2. listing
  3. reduced speed and maneueverability
  4. risk of further flooding if speed is increased
  5. less leeway before losing buoyancy and sinking
  • Decreasing the instantaneous lethality of individual torpedoes and increasing the lethality of multiple torpedoes over time would help prepare and balance the game for submarines (hint hint), as well as cutting back a bit on the efficacy of revenge bombing.


  • I spent way too much time typing this all out instead of doing work I need to do.
  • Much of the infastructure for this revamped damage model is already in place, and just needs minor tweaks
  • Between the 2 sections of this proposed DM rework, ships would simultaneously become less fragile, increasing engagement time, and would also suffer more permanent, punishing results from the damage they did accrue, with greater resolution.
  • With greater ship durability, I believe we would see a shift towards longer engagements, with more thought going into targeting specific parts of enemy ships, and more skillful aim being rewarded, and volume of lower-damage weapons not simply outclassing larger weapons.
  • Gaijin please

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