- The common T10 heavy cruiser armor scheme is 25mm (UK, IJN, RU, FR, IT) or 27mm (US, GER) nose and stern armor, usually with 30mm deck/side plating. There are exceptions to this like Goliath 40mm deck or Moskva/Petro 50mm deck/side.
- This is sufficient to bounce up to 420mm AP, but will get overmatched by Republique, Kremlin, Yamato, Thunderer, and Musashi.
- The above ships are quite common in the meta right now, particularly Thunderer.
- The 30mm CA armor has minimal benefit against other damage sources (rockets, bombs, DD HE, cruiser HE) compared to the 25mm CL armor. 152mm+ CA/CL HE pens 30mm, while 130mm DD HE can't pen 25mm.
The prevalence of BBs that overmatch T10 CA armor eliminates the 'tankiness' difference between CAs and CLs at T10 and acts as a net buff for T10 CLs.
In other words, "If I am going to get overmatched anyway, why not take a CL which will (1) have a slightly harder time at arming the overmatching AP and (2) usually has a number of ancillary benefits in the current meta?".
What do I mean by ancillary benefits? These are things you could consider as 'balancing factors' that light cruisers get in lieu of the heavy cruiser armor scheme.
- AA – T10 CLs (Smolensk, Minotaur, Colbert, Nevsky, Worcester) all have excellent AA, particularly long-range AA due to the dual-purpose mounts. The prevalence of CVs that obliterate cruisers (FDR, MvR) makes AA very valuable at the moment.
- Damage output – By this, I mostly mean fires against BBs and high raw DPM against cruisers and DDs. The lower caliber of guns should be a drawback against BBs, but just utilizing the very high fire-per-minute of the T10 CLs is enough of a weapon. Against any target that you can pen (pretty much every cruiser and DD except the 50mm Russian balans™ plating), you do absurd damage. Minotaur is an exception here, but deals with BBs pretty well.
- Stealth – with the exception of Nevsky, the T10 CLs have much better stealth than the CAs. Nevsky gets superb radar and excellent ballistics, so it is the only 'long range' CA. This also ties in well with AA, since the light cruisers have a very narrow or nonexistent window between plane spotting range and AA range. Heavy cruisers are easier for a CV to grief by loitering a fighter plane in their detection window.
Things I know people will point out:
- Yes, I know there are still plenty of 380mm/406mm/420mm guns at T10. I am looking at this from the perspective of someone choosing which ship to bring to battle. If there is a good chance that the enemy BBs will all be Yamatos and Thunderers, the 30mm armor on Henri seems significantly less valuable.
- CLs have their own issues too like poor ballistics (lol not Smolensk or Nevsky though) or CB-overmatchable armor (Minotaur, Smolensk).
- You could also just call this a net nerf to CAs, which is true, but again, I am looking at this from the perspective of someone choosing a ship. From my view, CL strength has risen relative to CA strength.
TL;DR: 30mm overmatch eliminates the tankiness difference between CLs and CAs. If you are going to get overmatched anyway, why not get the CL perks for free?
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© Post "Playing the cruiser metagame: 30mm overmatch is a net buff to high tier light cruisers" for game World of Warships.
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