The vast majority of my matches I drive regular surface ships. However, yesterday I unlocked the Hakuryu after 97 battles with a 69% WR (nice!) in my Shokaku. Thought this might be a good time to address the explosive topic that is AA.
I started playing when RTS CVs were still a thing, so I remember entire squadrons being eaten alive by AA cruisers with DefAA active. Back then this was balanced by a significant cooldown and the relative rarity of those cruisers on low tiers or hugh plane reserves on higher tiers, as well as baiting out DefAA on the tactical level.
These times are gone since the CV rework. During this rework CVs traded their devastiting alpha strike threat for more evenly distributed damage. This is why we now have smaller strike packages in one bigger flight. In accordance with damage by planes being more distributed over time the damage to planes has also been more evenly spread. This is fair in terms of game balance and the reason why expecting entire flights wiped out as it was possible before the rework is not up to date anymore. So far, so much one-year old coffee.
Still, I almost on a daily basis can see posts calling for a removal or further rework of CVs – and honestly, I can understand the authors (being harassed by CVs more often than driving them). WG however claims AA is pretty much balanced by now – and again by sheer statistical anaylsis they also might be right (can't confirm without access to those numbers). So how can it be that CVs are both a pain to play against and still AA appears to be balanced on the numbers side?
I think it comes down to perspective. This is the most important observation I have made during the grind on all 3 Tier VIII CVs: The AA of your own ships is almost meaningless, yet the AA of close-by allies certainly is not!
Why is that? As a fairly competent CV captain I can in pretty much all cases avoid flak damage form the ship I'm attacking. This is mostly done by starting the attack run and boosting when entering the flak zone having aligned my planes beforehand so they only have to go in a straight line to the target ship. That way the combination of reduced time in the flak zone due to boosting and the change in altitude by starting the attack run pretty much auto-dodges flak.
The planes lost to continues AA damage is about equal my plane replenishing rate on equal tiers and a little higher when being uptiered, but not by much. When bottom tier my flights are usually depleted to 2/3's with no reserves at the end of a match.
So it is only flak that really cuts into a CVs continued strike capabilities and as just stated the ship being targeted is virtually incapable of getting hits on all but potatoe CV captains with it.
However, things change when there is an allied ship close-by; since you want to get the aiming recticle of your planes as small as possible as a CV you should avoid heavy manoevring. This makes the planes path very predictable and if that paths goes along the flak zone of an allied ship the flak puffs of that ship rarely miss their mark and wreak havoc among the planes.
As a result the attacked ship does minimal damage to an attack strike but eats all the damage while an allied ship, if it is there, reaps the benfits of damaging and shooting down most of the planes. This and the fact you can't really retaliate against a CV makes for a deeply frustrating, yet (maybe) overall balanced AA interaction.
Since there are no ways to ensure that allied ships are there to provide that very impactful AA support, more often than not the CV gets away very easy, which makes it even worse for the surface ship in reality.
That sounds quite grim, doesn't it? It doesn't get any better when I say that without a way to ensure that the CV-surface ship interaction is only between the targetd ship and the attacking squadron the AA balance will more likely than not be out of whack in one or the other direction. And besides exploits in potential implementation like delibertaly locking onto a ship with poor AA close-by only to change to your real target in the last second this would feel artifically restricted in a game where shells and torps can targets you didn't even aim for.
So what to take away? Already driving in 2-ship teams in such a way that your flak protects your ally can be very effective against a CV. And while you can't safeguard against all damage the losses won't be sustainable for the CV this way. As the trageted ship: make pre-aligning a strike difficult keep dodgingTM to mitigate at least some of the damage, but beyond that take the inevitable damage, frustrating and game hindering as it may be, in the knwoledge you safed eleven other teammates (temporarily) from your fate.
Bonus: AA consumables
DefAA: for the reasons stated above almost ineffective for self-defence, good utility though for punishing CVs for striking nearby allies.
Fighter: actually useful in frustrating follow-up strikes, but utterly incapable of preventing the first attack run if the enemy CV insists. Timely activation (planes about 7-8km out) might presuade a CV player to not attack at all for the run time though.
Important note: less useful against Torpedo Bombers, as their heal, when activated correctly, can complitely nullify any damage done by the fighters.
Source: Original link
© Post "Myth Buster: Anti-Air Edition" for game World of Warships.
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