World of Warships

French DDs: are we okay with ‘beginner-unfriendly’ ships?

WorldOfWarships5 - French DDs: are we okay with 'beginner-unfriendly' ships?
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With the announcement of the upcoming French DD-line in the mold of the heal- and smokeless Le Terrible, there has been concern that they would be less than fantasque to play (see what I did there?). Le Terrible has already laid the groundwork for the meme of French DD = le bad. This post aims to clarify where exactly that impression comes from and looks toward the full ship line: if the designs stay as proposed, French DDs will combine a high skill floor with high resource investment to make for the most beginner-unfriendly tech tree to date. If we are okay with that or not is something that everyone will have to decide for themselves.


What is a beginner-unfriendly ship?

For the sake of discussion, I have come at this question from two angles: in port and in battle. For each I have looked at how Le Terrible — as a prototype for the line — is challenging for inexperienced/resource-starved players. This list is by no means exhaustive — feel free to add your own criteria.

Port

Does a ship need a high level captain to deal damage adequately?

Most ships require at least 10pt captains (i.e. one 4pt skill) to function adequately. Battleships generally tend to require less because the guns are devastating right out of the box; light cruisers and some DDs need a hefty 14pt. captain because CE+IFHE is mandatory.

In my experience the Le Terrible requires at least a 13pt. captain (PM, PT, LS, AR, SE, CE) to be halfway decent. Your mileage may vary, but I struggle to see the ship functioning with anything less.

Does the ship require special upgrades from the arsenal?

This point affects ships with strong consumables: first and foremost radar and rolling smoke, but also long lasting speed boost, hydro, spotter and defAA. Some ships like the Perth only really shine when decked out with special upgrades, which is quite punishing for players who don't have the coal/coupons to purchase them. Le Terrible benefits disproportionately from having the spood beest module — you get 90s more out of every charge. To me, this special upgrade is almost mandatory because insane speed is your only survival tool.

Battle

Does the ship have low-skill offensive/defensive moves?

Smoke screens are a great example of a low skill defensive move — beginner DD players quickly learn to use it as a "get-out-of-jail-free card." Brawling torps on a Tirpitz are the equivalent low skill offensive move: they rack up a nice chunk of damage if you can get into range, regardless of your opponent's skill.

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Le Terrible has no smoke or heal. The 8km torps can be a challenge to land without yolo-ing, and the stealth-torp window of 1.4km isn't very easy to play around. MBRB is nice to have, but pulling it off without taking massive damage in return IMHO requires above average tactical awareness. You can long range run-and-gun with her, but that requires pretty good aim to rack up consistent damage and effectively removes your torps as a damage output option (not to mention that a gunbote build is also captain skill intensive).

How many ships hard-counter you?

Anybody can perform decently when the ship can deal with anything the MM throws at it (cough cough Kutuzov). A ship becomes really beginner-unfriendly when the majority of the MM has good tools to deal with you.

Le Terrible struggles against most DDs because they can outspot her, get the first shots off, and start turning away/smoking. MBRB is completely neutered when you don't have a clean target profile to shoot at because the shell velocity is all kinds of meh.

CVs obviously counter you super hard because you can't even smoke up to escape the harassment. Cruisers and BBs with good shell velocity also wreck your day. That doesn't leave a lot of ships with an obvious inability to deal with her. And since you don't have a heal or smoke, all it takes is one mis-position for you to get chunked or hard spotted and focused. Le Terrible is the opposite of forgiving gameplay.


Conclusion

Reviewing these questions, there are obviously ships that are more beginner-unfriendly in certain aspects. What makes Le Terrible so challenging is the breadth of her beginner unfriendliness, both in port and in battle. If the French DD line is going to follow the design template of the Le Terrible, then a lot of players will likely struggle. They will likely call them bad ships and demand buffs. That puts WG in a bind: either buff and have them over-perform in capable hands or be called tone-deaf for ignoring the players. Before that day comes, I think we should start off by having a discussion about whether we are okay with a having such a beginner-unfriendly tech tree in the first place.

Happy sailing =)

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