Stalingrad is perhaps the most controversial cruisers to date. Some players think its overpowered and others think it sucks. And to be honest, how one sees this ship is fully dependent on the viewpoint, I can understand both sides, as I will explain below:
For Random Battles
From the view of an average player, this ship is overpowered. Its simple to see why as its a "cruiser" with a massive hp advantage, a massive armor advantage, but most importantly, it have guns that can annihilate other ships of its class and tier and even have the ability to citadel BBs at long ranges, something unheard of from a cruiser. Stalingrad punishes potatoes extremely hard. We all know that this game, even at T10, is filled with mostly potato players with only perhaps 1 unicum per game on average, this means that a ship like Stalingrad that performs well against potatoes would perform well against most of its opponents, thus leading to a high average damage and win rate that is further improved by its playerbase.
However, from a the viewpoint of a unicum player, this is completely different. Unicum players judge a ship not only by its strengths, but ways to counter it. The simplest way to put this is:
From the viewpoint of potatoes, they can beat other potatoes by using Stalingrad because it have more HP and armor, and can do citadels. They lose to average players and unicums with normal cruisers anyway so there is no difference in the other two categories, thus they feel like the ship is great.
From the View point of average players, they can now seal club potatoes, gain an advantage over other average players, while losing to the 5% that is unicums is of the norm. So from that standpoint the ship is overpowered because its good against 95% and average players usually accept losing to the 5% unicums and losing harder to them doesnt make much of a difference.
From the viewpoint of unicums, this is a whole different story. We seal club potatoes and average players regardless, so the difference there is simply "meh". To put it simply, as you probably seen in arguments "good players will beat you regardless". Sure I just deleted a broadside Des Moines with Stalingrad, but I could have easily sank him in just about any other T10 cruiser, it might take some more time, but the difference is negligible. However, when it comes to fighting other unicums, Stalingrad is terrible, to say the least, heres why:
Stalingrad is terrible against unicums, even if the captain of Stalin is unicum himself
Against CVs Stalin is absolute food. Its the size of a Battleship and turns worse than one. This makes it the easiest target for torpedo bombers out of ANY other ship in the game. And whats worse is that Stalingrad have lower HP and worse torpedo belt protection that your average T10 BB and is thus much more likely to be devastating striked by a CV. Furthermore, it is also susceptible to being citadeled by AP bombs from not only the GZ, but also your average American AP DB. And unicum CVs will easily bait out the DFAA as it is only a 200% boost instead of the 300% normally and the fact that it can be long dropped and need DFAA against both TB/DB. Against BBs/CAs/CLs, Stalin does not have the overmatch that BBs have so against unicum captains that knows how to angle, Stalin deal next to no damage to them. As a matter of fact, some T7 cruisers have higher HE DPM than Stalingrad, when the Stalingrad is forced to use HE against smart opponents, she is no better than a normal T8 cruiser. The only exception is the British CL line which gets overmatched by Stalin. Against DDs Stalin is as hopeless as a BB. Its AP can now only overpen DDs and HE is again abysmal DPM. Its concealment is so bad that even with Russian radar any unicum DD captain can easily play around the window between its concealment range and radar range.
The nail in the coffin against unicums comes from its vulnerable armor scheme against AP. Yes Stalin is tanky when angled but it have the largest citadel for a cruiser that sits well above the water line. "If we assume other cruisers angle against Stalin why wouldnt we assume Stalin will angle against them in return?" Because 14km concealment. You cant angle against something you cant see, concealment dictates engagement and a unicum cruiser will choose to stealth when its broadside to Stalin and engage when Stalin is broadside to it. It doesnt even have to be a cruiser, even a GK can outspot and ambush a Stalingrad, and BBs have no problem deleting Stalingrad from full HP.
How useful is Stalingrad in Clan Battles? While it was fun on the first day of clan battles to run 7 Stalingrads and meme average players, it is no surprise to any unicum that 7 Stalingrads is a terrible comp.
The consensus on Stalingrad in competitive is simple, its a very special ship that have a very niche role, if you field a Stalingrad you arent fielding it because its a good cruiser, but rather its the right cruiser for the job that you need a ship to do. Either that is holding up a choke point or creating a crossfire (something the Stalin excels at), you would choose one over, say, a HIV. But keep in mind because of the massive disadvantages of a Stalingrad, you need to properly compensate for it in your team comp, that means having cruisers that actually do HE DPM like Hinden and HIV, and proper protection so the Stalin doesnt get flanked or farmed, as well as scouts to spot targets for it.
Having Stalingrad is an advantage not because its a good ship, but because it is an extra "special" tool in your toolbox. I wouldnt be concerned for Squall/Gale or even Storm clans because to be blunt here: even if you do get access to Stalingrad, it would be too difficult to effectively utilize it with the tactics of lower level clans.
© Post "Stalingrad: Ending the Myths" for game World of Warships.
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