World of Warships

Getting better at reading matches: the concept of map control

WorldOfWarships3 - Getting better at reading matches: the concept of map control
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My last post was well received and that has motivated me to write a timely follow-up. Or that was the plan, holidays had a say in that, too, and delayed it up to today.
I'd really like to discuss the effectiveness of ship in match, in order to the touch on the controversial topic of balance among different ships in a matchmaking spread. Obviously the issue of CVs and the KM ships that are debated at the moment come to mind. Yet in order to do so we need some idea on how to compare ships of different classes. Since CVs partially follow a different set of mechanics in order to somewhat model their unique interaction with the other surface ships, we will begin with latter and try to find analogies to carriers to compare these at a later date.

The main (and very obvious) condition of my previous post on “How to (influence a) win in WoW” (Link here) is that a ship needs to be alive in order to have an impact. Furthermore in order to generate the necessary points for a win (by either eliminating opposing ships or holding capture zones) a team of ships aims for control over (key areas of) the map. This will be today's topic: making the elusive concept thereof a little more comprehensible and grounding the conclusions made in that post in the concept of map control.

Every ship in the game can be thought of as having a circular zone of influence around it in which it can potentially deal damage through shells and given the equipment torpedoes and/or secondaries (it may be helpful to think of it in the same terms it is displayed on the minimap). Overlapping circles of different allied ships have an additive effect. In that way a whole team spans a combined zone of influence that overlays the map. The price for an opposing ship to enter this zone and getting spotted is to be paid in hit points (HP) and perhaps (temporarily) broken modules. This already implies two things:
1) In order for a zone of influence to be effective a team needs to couple it ideally with direct vision control or at least approximate knowledge of opposing ships positions (displayed on the minimap as white, empty symbols of the enemy ship class). The combination of vision with the zone of influence we can then call map control.

2) Map control should be organized by a team in a fashion to maximise it on capture zones and/or avenues of approach of the opposing team. That way the opposing team has to pay a (hopefully) unsustainable price in HP and finally active ships to generate the necessary points for a win. We should keep in mind that each ships lost diminishes its respective teams map control – both through a loss in firepower and vision.

Now up to this point map control is a very theoretical construct, in practice (read in every match) there are modifiers on the zone of influence of every ship: The damage dealt will generally increase when the distance to the ship decreases (or put differently: every ship becomes more dangerous the closer you get to it). However the increase is both nonlinear and often discontinuous (as both dispersion decreases and the zones of secondary fire and torpedoes are entered respectively and cause a jump) and differs from ship to ship.
G. Kurfürst will in average be hold back by its abysmal dispersion and unable to project significant damage and thus threat to the ranges of its shooting range, but as soon as you enter secondary range the dispersion becomes less of an issue and you get an damage boost form these secondaries.
Additionally, while quite difficult to model with circular zone of influence turning your ship to unmask additional turrets or torpedo launchers, will both increase your effective damage towards that direction, while significantly decreasing your defensive capabilities in that direction. Think of it as the circle being modified by a heat map being rather cold (safe play style) towards the bow and aft and rather hot (risky play style) towards both sides.
In the case of defensive we should also take into account a ship's ability to mitigate damage through evasive maneuvering and/or maximising the effect of their armour through angling towards incoming projectiles. As time to dodge decreases with decreasing distance (also nonlinearly) so does AP shells penetration increase, making both maneuvering and armour less effective overall.
Given all that modifieres, it is therefore more sensible to talk from now on about an effective zone of influence, in which a ship poses a threat factor to any opposing ship.

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Striking the right balance between offensive and defensive can be generalized through picking an optimal engagement range relative to your ship and the opposing ship(s). It must be stated though that being unspotted is the best way of damage mitigation by far, but usually comes at hefty cuts to your offensive capabilities as shooting will expose your position directly or indirectly by following the tracer fire back to it's origin. Using torpedoes are a notable exception though, as they have no chance to directly expose a ship.
That means good players will know how to maximise their relative damage output compared to enemy ship(s) they face, while minimsing the damage they take, e.g. stay at distance in squishy kiters like the Soviet CL line up to, but excluding the Tier X Moskwa.
Good teams in turn will maximise their effective combined zones of influence in likely zones of enemy contact and make flanking time consuming for opposing ships, by projecting fire power on both sides of zones of contact. This can for example be achieved by positioning groups of medium engagement range cruisers on both flanks leave Battleships long range support battleships, like Montana or Yamato in a central position, able to support either flank if need or the opportunity arises (which is pretty much the base strategy for clan battles). Also, due to the effective zones of influence being modified dependent on a ships orientation (think of the heat map!) a slight dispersion of ships within the teams effective zone of influence creates different attack angles and thus in general greater damage for at least one team member.

Map control through effective zones of influence and vision is of course dynamic throughout the course of a match and will change with the position of each ship. This is absolutely necessary in order to maximise the opportunity to generate points through capture points and/or by eliminating ships. It is intuitively clear that parts of a map void of a ship's effective zone of control can be thought of to belong to the ship that can get there the fastest. Securing a cap zone and sweeping opposing ships back to the border may put said cap zone out of the effective zone of influence of your team, but may still be considered part of the map you control, if no opposing ship was allowed to slip through your ranks.
Adapting to changing opportunities and needs during the course of a match is primarily a matter of maneuverability in order to (safely) relocate and to a lesser degree a matter of turret/launcher turn rate in order to switch targets. Thus being able to shift local superiority to areas of interest (cap zones and agglomerations of enemy ships) faster than your opposing team is a proven way of pushing that team back and/or gaining a ship (health) advantage. This is why good players (the ones that don't tend to overextend, which in the context of map control is leaving your teams effective area of map control and/or entering the opposing teams zone of map control – both resulting in being easy prey) really value ships with good speed, because they can add their influence to crucial areas.

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