“Henri is dead”. It’s a comment I’ve been seeing a lot after the IFHE change announcement, because it will no longer be able to penetrate 50mm armor with any build. Now, a lot of these comments have been specific to competitive, and I agree, the ship’s role there may end up being replaced by Yoshino and Hindenburg. But, other than in competitive, I would argue that Henri is getting more of a sidegrade than a nerf.
I unlocked Henri shortly after it came out, back when it had no main battery reload booster and the IFHE Henri meta hadn’t really been discovered yet. I instantly felt that it was low-key overpowered, even though most people back then just saw it as a cross between the Zao and Moskva but worse than both. The speed was useful for kiting, but also very useful for rushing lone battleships with your 30mm belt angled toward them, and lone destroyers with hydro up. The HE has always felt powerful, with the alpha of Zao paired with even better fire chance and stock penetration. I recently unlocked IFHE on it after playing the vast majority of my Henri games without it, and it definitely feels stronger, almost like a Conqueror in cruiser form. But ultimately, this strength is really only useful against Moskva, Stalingrad and German battleships (and the first two of those are much less common in randoms than competitive). IFHE doesn’t matter for most ships, including the American battleships with 38mm decks. The ship did feel a bit stronger after I got IFHE, but the upgrade wasn’t nearly as drastic as the power surge I felt when I unlocked the legendary module, which, in my opinion, gives you the combination of extra range and reload that really makes you a monster, on a ship that has never really cared about concealment anyway.
Personally, even if Henri could still penetrate 50mm after the IFHE rework, I probably wouldn’t take it anymore because of the 50% fire chance reduction. You would be vastly reducing your effectiveness against 80% of the ships in the game to continue to do higher damage to the other 20%. However, Henri is getting an indirect buff as well: every single light cruiser will now have 16mm armor, which Henri can overmatch with AP. Henri’s AP is currently extremely underrated IMO, it has the penetration of a Moskva, higher alpha than Hindy, and Des Moines reload when you use your booster. Running into a bow-in Cleveland and pumping 20k of damage into his bow in seconds has the potential to make up for the IFHE nerf, a least for my playstyle (I like to push in the late game with my Henri when I get the chance, it really is great at rushing lone ships and killing them, and I like finding opportunities to use the ship’s AP). The ship has many strengths, and again, this is coming from someone who played most of their Henri games before unlocking IFHE.
So, in conclusion, the new default Henri build and playstyle will have HE that is less effective against a few specific ships, but have better fire chance, 4 extra captain points to use, and AP that will make you feel like a battleship with a 4.5 second reload whenever you fight a light cruiser with your reload booster up. Maybe this will make it feel “dead” to some people in randoms. If you’re one of them, I respect your opinion, and ask that you please respect mine (instead of raging at me because I see more value in my Henri than just penetrating 50mm armor). But I am personally quite excited to test mine after the changes and I think that most players should be too.
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