How Submarines Further Ruin the World of Warships

How Submarines Further Ruin the World of Warships

Introduction of submarines is probably the worst thing that has happened to the World of Warships since introduction of carriers.

And while it is possible for a good player to counter and even destroy submarines one-on-one, thanks to battleship’s airstrike ability, that is not the main problem with the class. Problem, as with the carriers, is its interaction with other classes.

Countering a submarine, even in a German battleship, is a full-time job. Between sonar ping damage bonus and homing torpedoes, there is no time to take eyes off the submarine in question. This, of course, results in being easy prey for just about anything else. Mere presence of a submarine can push a battleship into a bad position, preventing it from setting up crossfires or tanking.

And even air strike is not all that useful against a good player. Submarine will simply stay unspotted and spam guided devstrike torpedoes against targets which have no way to counter those torpedoes.

Destroyers, class which is supposed to counter submarines, are not really capable of doing so. In fact, dev blog has stated that destroyers and cruisers are the main target for submarines. Battleships are actually better at hunting submarines than destroyers – but they are also vulnerable to being mispositioned due to their size and relative sluggishness.

Submarines are yet another class that punishes pushing – and far more so than either HE cruisers, HE battleships or carriers. Homing torpedoes turn submarines into tripwires – if you encounter a submarine that is anywhere but astern, and don’t have a DCP ready, you are dead. Torpedoes cannot be avoided without DCP, and when target is double-pinged, they also gain the ability to cause citadel damage and ignore torpedo protection. These are basically Sidewinders with nuclear warheads. Double-ping torpedoes also track much harder and have tracking cut off much later. This means that DCP has to be kept in reserve for countering submarines – which in turn means that it is not available for countering the already omnipresent HE spam or destroyer-launched torpedoes which, while unguided, are both more individually powerful and more capable of causing flooding that submarine-launched torpedoes. Also, since sonar ping reloads faster than DCP, latter has to be used only when torpedoes had been detected.

Thus in order to make most out of the DCP, a ship targeted by the submarine has to turn away and run while dodging salvoes of torpedoes – turning into the submarine is actually preferable, but not if it means getting shot at by the rest of the enemy team, which means that turning away and using DCP to negate tracking is often a better choice. It is possible to avoid torpedoes either way, but it means that pushing becomes impossible, and tanking also becomes impossible as avoiding guided torpedoes necessitates staying at full speed and preferably in open water, unless location of the submarine is already known. If it is known, islands can be used to block submarine’s engagement lines – but that requires lack of carriers. If there are carriers nearby, it is necessary to keep moving, which again prevents proper tanking and also brawling – both of which involve ships using island for cover, and often moving at slow speed or even being stationary while at it. As SeaLordMountbatten puts it, “battleships are almost completely fine, unless you are in a terrible position and not moving, or if you are distracted”. In other words, battleships will be completely fine – unless they are either tanking or brawling. Which means that battleships, in a single stroke, have been rendered both boring and irrelevant.

And even this may not work, for a simple reason that submarines have multiple torpedo launchers. A submarine commander can easily ping a target (especially a battleship), launch a set of torpedoes, wait for their damage control to expire and start reloading, re-ping the target as many times as he likes, and then launch all the remaining torpedoes – which, at that point, are basically unavoidable, ignore torpedo protection, and do citadel damage. And pings do not cost anything, either in terms of energy or anything else. A ship targeted by a submarine has to drop everything else in order to defend itself, which then automatically makes it vulnerable to rest of the enemy team.

Because submarines are so hard to spot, it is also easy for them to set up crossfires. Torpedoes can appear from literally anywhere, and because these are homing torpedoes, zig-zagging – a normal and very useful counter to stealth-torping destroyers – is completely useless. This means that pushing against a submarine is impossible even in open water – which is not the case against a destroyer.

What is more, because submarines are so dangerous and so hard to detect, even a very bad player can easily neutrilize an extremely good player for a very long time. There is no escape, as submerged submarine can easily match the speed of most ships. There is no counterplay, as DCP is easily countered by re-pinging, and submarine can attack from beyond the range of ASW planes. ASW planes in any case have such a narrow effect spread that submarine can easily escape if it sees them coming. And guns don’t work, because submarines are smaller and more agile than destroyers. Even a surfaced submarine is stealthier than most destroyers, can easily stealth-engage them with torpedoes, and can escape anytime – making submarines excellent cap contesters.

As a result, even for me, playing submarines is not difficult. I am not a good submarine player, to put it mildly, and I managed to easily deny a cap to enemy battleships and then surface and cap. I also got in the middle of team XP ranking with, essentially, zero effort.

Even in games when I did no damage, it would take three ships several minutes to hunt down and kill me, thus denying them to the team.

Next problem is spotting. Submarines are essentially invisible, yet are excellent spotters. A submarine at periscope depth has no penalty to spotting ships while its own detection distance is significantly reduced, below even that of a destroyer. Thus they have much more area denial ability than destroyers do. Pretty much the only answer to submarine spotting is to run – unlike a destroyer, submarine can simply dive if threatened – and that is not always successful. Pushing to kill a submarine is sometimes possible, but it is also a good way of getting killed – either by a submarine, or by its teammates. And since submarines do some 20 knots underwater, it is also easy for them to run away. As a result, submarine can easily win a flank while doing absolutely no physical damage at all. Submarines are also typically (though not always) the last ships alive in the game, potentially drawing out the game into extreme boredom, as they can cancel any interaction with the game by diving into hyperspace (also known as maximum depth).

Submarines are not just overpowered, they also make game more passive and boring. In order to push and get to brawling distance, player has to take various threats into account and to decide if, where and when to push. Increased number of heterogenous threats makes such decision more difficult, and also makes conditions for pushing less likely to happen. Therefore, addition of HE spammers, aircraft carriers and submarines each made brawls much less likely, because tactics required to counter each are different, and mutually exclusive.

Especially interaction between carriers and submarines is bad. Carriers punish players that get close to islands, but getting close to islands is best way to counter submarines as well as HE spammers. Thus submarines prevent ships from avoiding carrier attacks, while carriers prevent ships from countering submarines. But HE spammers and submarines are also mutually exclusive: best way to counter HE spammers is to use islands for cover at low speed or without moving, but doing so in presence of a submarine is a death sentence, unless submarine’s location is known. HE spam also requires DCP for a counter, yet DCP is also necessary to counter submarine homing. Therefore, there are three ship types which require different tactics to counter – with the overall answer being, “stay in the open water”.

And submarines are, even on their own, dangerous enough – due to homing torpedoes and double ping mechanics – that the best answer to a submarine, even for a battleship, is to simply run away. And this can often involve running away into destroyer’s torpedoes or an HE spammer. Submarine does not even need to launch torpedoes to massively impact the game: simply getting double pinged is quite enough to make most battleship players decide to get the hell out, as the alternative is clear.

What makes this even worse is that battleships are not, in fact, the class that is being hard-countered by submarines. Sniping battleships don’t have to worry about submarines at all, while brawling battleships are merely a collateral victim. Battleship’s long-lasting damage control party as well as torpedo homing mechanics make them not that bad at avoiding torpedoes – though this is countered by the sheer importance of (now wasted) damage control to battleship’s performance. But cruisers, and even destroyers, actually have it just as bad – if not worse. Destroyers are easily the most overworked class in the game, and they also happen to be the main target for the submarines – while being the worst equipped to counter them. Destroyer DCP is short-lasting, yet torpedo homing cuts off relatively late and torpedoes hard home on to destroyers, making submarines very lethal to destroyers. Cruisers are in just as bad, if not worse, position.

But of course, WarGaming is run by vodka-addicted apes who do not play their own game. Thus we get statements such as “right now, submarines are weak in terms of statistics“. Maybe they are, maybe they are not, but either case, it is irrelevant. It does not matter how many players play submarines. It does not matter how well submarines do in terms of damage and win rate. It does not matter how well submarines do at spotting, potential damage and so on. What matters is how they interact with other ships in the game – and so far, this interaction has been wholly negative.

Also, “If the class’ popularity is lower, it will indicate that players interested in submarines do not like their mechanics, and we will look into how we can improve them.”. No, WarBooze, class popularity does not work that way. Ships are popular for many different reasons. German battleships are popular despite the fact that they are actually very weak in terms of current meta, for several reasons: most importantly, because Bismarck is a popular historical ship, and because it is fun. When it comes to popularity, Bismarck is beaten only by Japanese Yamato:

But it is almost certain to beat Yamato in terms of in-game popularity because, as a secondary-build ship that is not seriously oversized, it is very fun ship to play – likely only beaten by Tirpitz and by Scharnhorst twins due to their torpedoes. But as these ships lack hydro, they are also much less versatile than Bismarck.

That the above logic is sound can be confirmed by looking at ship popularity:

Bismarck and Tirpitz unsurprisingly take the first two spots. Third place is Shimakaze (a destroyer), while fourth and fifth places are taken by Gneisenau and Yamato. While the above data, being for overall history, may not be very representative, its logic is supported by the data for last two months:

KMBB9Friedrich der Grosse149226345
KMBB10Grosser Kurfuerst80314171

As it can be seen, German battleships are by far the most popular ships in the game. Only non-German ships present are Yamato and Iowa, both of which have very high historical significance, as well as Shimakaze which is a torpedo destroyer and thus quite a blast to play.

This popularity will also transfer to the lines themselves: both because battleships of the same line tend to share characteristics, and because they have to be grinded in order to get to target ship – which is usually in Tiers 8 to 10. But one common characteristic of all popular ships is that they are good brawlers: even Yamato and Iowa can be decent brawlers when played properly.

Therefore, submarines were never going to be popular. They are not as well-known or glamurous as surface ships – even destroyers – and are thus at a massive starting disadvantage. They are also – in large part thanks to the ridiculous homing mechanic – very boring to play, and making the class more powerful will not change these factors. But WarGaming, having apparently undergone a collective lobotomy sometime in the past half a decade, completely fails to understand this.

Now, basic mechanics may “work well” – as WG had put it. But they only work well for submarine players. And as noted, submarines are a boring class to play, but WarGaming completely fails to understand that, believing instead that “Their popularity in the Golden League is decreasing, and we connect this to the fact that submarines are a new, somewhat unknown class that is weaker than others. Since the main drive in the Golden League is victory, players choose the classes they feel confident in and that provide them the highest chance of winning.”. Yet WarGaming’s own graphs, provided at the blog post linked above, reveal that submarines have third greatest impact on battle outcome, nearly tying with destroyers in important metrics such as lifetime and spotting damage. They are overpowered in every metric except direct damage, but WarGaming is planning to make them even more overpowered to compensate for submarine gameplay’s sheer boredom. This has all the signs of another carrier rework-esque disaster in the making.

In the end, submarines are a class designed for brain-dead sadists, much like carriers, but far worse. That being said, it appears that some issues will be fixed:

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