I'll begin by getting a slightly biased opinion out of the way. I like Mutsu. She's endearing in the almost-good sort of way. She's a struggle to play well, but she's still fun. However, I'd never even consider taking her into an operation, least of all this week's Newport Defense. She simply doesn't have the precision needed to be worthwhile.
Another quick elimination is the disastrous P.E. Friedrich. There are few good words to say about this ship. All she has going for her is speed, and that's next to useless in this operation. Moving along swiftly.
I haven't yet played West Virginia, so there's no point in me discussing this ship. I am interested in hearing about players' experiences with this ship though.
That brings me to the meat and potatoes of this post. I've had good success with both Arizona and Warspite, ships which share a very comfortable trait for operations — they're very precise for battleships. Whereas Warspite slings fewer and larger shells with great overmatch potential in a generally tight pattern which rewards good aim, Arizona makes up for this by saturating the area with half as many more shells of a still potent calibre. In both cases, you're virtually guaranteed to do consistent damage if you aim well against ships of a similar tier.
The main difference is that, though Warspite is a heavyweight sniper and can punish even this operation's ace Izumo, Arizona can struggle with unfortunate bounces or shatters against the most unlikely of targets and angles, simply because she cannot overmatch some critical thresholds in this operation.
This difference effectively determines the roles each ship plays. Arizona, with her smaller but greater number of shells is very effective at dealing with cruisers since it is less likely to overpenetrate their armour, and her HE makes short work of destroyers. On the other hand, Warspite is more likely to struggle with destroyers despite her great precision simply because she has fewer shells going down range at any time, and she can be surprisingly inconsistent with similarly tiered cruisers which will somehow only suffer overpenetrations despite proper aim.
So that raises the question: Which battleship is better suited for this operation? I feel that though Warspite is the less versatile ship, she is far more capable than Arizona at dealing with the numerous enemy battleships present throughout the course of the operation. One must keep in mind that you will always have cruiser support in the operation, including a very efficient bot Baltimore. in these mid-tier operations, cruisers are always best at dealing with other cruisers, and battleships are best left to deal with other battleships.
However, while I feel that Warspite is the more reliable choice overall, I have still had great success with Arizona due to her versatility. She punishes cruisers and destroyers well, and can mostly hold her own against battleships, Izumo included. Ultimately, the choice between Warspite and Arizona comes down to how you want to play your battleship. Both offer excellent qualities the other cannot, and both have their own place in this operation. These battleships are both very efficient in this operation in particular, where the low speed of Arizona is no real disadvantage, and where having excellent handling between them gives you the option of easily repositioning when necessary.
Which battleships have you taken into Newport Defense and have had great success in?
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