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German Z-52 Destroyer Line - Your_SAT_Score


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Note: These guides are courtesy of Your_SAT_Score from the old forum and saved by request.



Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Skill level
  • Who should play this line
  • Captain build and ship upgrades
  • Line Characteristics
    • Armor and Durability
    • Main Armament
    • Torpedoes 
    • Anti-Air Defense
    • Depth Charges (Ship Launched)
    • Maneuverability
    • Concealment
    • Consumables
  • General Playstyle
  • Individual Ship Rating
  • Gameplay Tips
  • Final Thoughts
  • Sources used

If you just want quick gameplay help,
I recommend reading the "Captain build and ship upgrades", "General Playstyle", and "Gameplay Tips" sections. 


The following is my review of the Z-52 German Destroyer tech tree line. 
My assessment is current as of February 2023 in patch 12.1. 
Barring major changes, this guide will remain relevant throughout the future. 

Summary: Jack-of-all-trades destroyer line with hydro. They can be effective in nearly every situation when used correctly. 
This guide can also apply to the following premium ships: T-61, Z-39, Pan Asian DD Lo Yang, and Lo Yang B, 

Note: This guide does not apply to the German Elbing DD line. Their playstyle is vastly different. 

Skill Level

Skill floor: Low-mid

  • High base HP helps them survive fights that may kill other DDs
  • Hydro helps newer players detect and evade torpedoes
  • Versatile weapons, can gunboat or torp boat as needed

Skill Ceiling: High

  • Excellent flexibility gives her a lot of options in each match
  • Using hydro against other ships is hard to pull off correctly
  • Balancing DD roles like objectives, spotting, and dealing damage is hard even for experienced players.

Who should play this line

Recommended for:

  • Beginner DD players - The Z-52 line offers many beginner-friendly perks to ease them into the universal DD role
  • Players can easily transition to other DD lines using the lessons learned here
  • Versatility - Can perform many different roles depending on the situation
  • PR farming - Their average stats are fairly low even by DD standards. Gunboat builds can farm a lot of damage

Not recommended for:

  • Specialist roles - While the Z-52 line can fill many different roles, it cannot perform them as well as other dedicated lines
  • Ranked/Competitive - German DDs are generally outclassed by radar ships
  • Co-op/Operations - Low DPM makes them unsuited for farming bots. 

Captain build and ship upgrades 

Radio Location Build: https://share.wowssb.com/FfUE

Take the skills in the numbered order.  I recommend this build for newer DD players. Radio Location is powerful for predicting enemy DD movements. Being able to anticipate and counter enemy DDs can prove decisive. 

  1. Preventative Maintenance- Lowers the chance of an engine/rudder break. 
  2. Last Stand - Mandatory destroyer skill. Unless you like playing without a rudder or engine
  3. Survivability Expert - This is taken first as it gives you +20% HP pool. AR is a lower priority due to how easily DDs take damage. 
  4. Concealment Expert - It's kinda mandatory if you don't want to auto-lose the spotting war
  5. Radio Location - Gives you an indicator pointing towards the nearest ship, usually a DD. Quite good when used correctly
  6. Adrenaline Rush - Now take AR as it can considerably boost your firepower
  7. Superintendent - You will regularly make use of all 3 consumables, a 4th will help in the mid-late game
  8. Liquidator - Offsets your mediocre flooding chance

 Alternative 1pt skill -  Gun Feeder is a good alternative for faster switching to AP in DD fights. 

Recommended support/Gunboat build: https://share.wowssb.com/zpGj

I personally use this build as it offers a good balance of firepower and team support. 
Recommended for experienced players to maximize their game impact. 

First 10 points are the same as the Radio Location build. 

  • Adrenaline Rush and Superintendent are taken for the same reasons. 
  • Main battery and AA Specialist - +5% gun firepower helps with fighting other DDs
  • Consumables Enhancements - Very useful for extending hydro duration

Co-op/Operations only build: https://share.wowssb.com/xsaF

Similar to the recommended build, but trades concealment for more firepower. 
The line isn't strong in co-op nor operations, so I don't recommend using this build unless you exclusively play these modes. 

Unique Captains:

The Jutland brothers don't really have any useful improved skills, but starting with 10pts is quite useful for immediately getting Concealment Expert. 
He is sold in the armory for 35k coal or 1500 doubloons. 

Lutjens is very useful as the heal and 140 shell hits considerably boost the DD's effectiveness. 
He can be obtained in the armory for 175k coal. 
Fairly expensive, so I don't recommend getting him until you have a few premium ships. 

Armor and durability 

  • High HP pool, though not gunboat DD levels
  • Typical thin DD armor plating
  • Slightly larger than normal hull size

Tier 10 Z-52 as an example:



German DDs are fairly tanky compared to other Universal type Destroyers like the US DD line. 
Their extra ~2-4k HP can prove decisive in surviving close DD fights or focus fire. 
They can even survive torpedo hits, though you shouldn't be taking torps in the first place. 
Of course, having 0 armor means they still die very quickly to anything that hits. 
You won't survive a direct slugging match against anyone else.

Instead, your goal is to avoid taking damage in the first place. 
Smoke up, dodge incoming fire, and have your teammates tank whenever possible
Keep your HP high for DD fights and other decisive plays where you can't avoid taking damage. 

Above average HP pool. Still squishy though. 

Main Armament

  • Uses standard Destroyer dispersion
  • HE shells have low damage, but high penetration starting with Tier 6
  • AP shells deal high damage, but have low penetration
  • Decent firing angles
  • Short main battery range

Z-52's dispersion is shown:



The Z-52 line is fairly average as far as gun handling is concerned. 
Shell dispersion, rate of fire, and even firing angles are in the middle of the pack. 
Because of this, it is easy to transition to other lines once you master the Z-52. 
Only her short main gun firing range can be considered an outlier, but this doesn't matter as shell flight time becomes unacceptably long at max range anyways. 

German DDs simultaneously have no firepower and amazing firepower at the same time.
In terms of raw DPM, they barely outgun same-tier Japanese torpedo destroyers. 
i.e. you aren't winning any DD fights with HE alone. 
Instead, they excel at farming cruisers and BBs thanks to the 32mm pen. 
Unlike other DDs, you aren't forced to target the superstructure to deal damage. 
With a greater surface area to farm damage, you can match or even exceed dedicated gunboats in some situations. 

AP is also important, but much more difficult to use properly. 
While it has powerful shell damage, its armor penetration is pathetic even by DD standards. 
It's so bad that you have to get under 2km to citadel a light cruiser, and even then it's usually not enough. 
Because of this, don't bother going for citadel hits. 

While the AP lacks penetration, even thin armor will arm your shell and deal full pen damage. 
A few well-timed AP salvoes can win you critical DD fights. 
Against larger ships, aim for superstructures, bow/sterns, and upper belt. 
AP will quickly out-damage HE so long as the enemy remains broadside. 
For more tips on using HE vs. AP, see the Gameplay Tips section. 

Overall HE remains your primary ammo type due to its reliability. 
AP offers burst damage that can prove decisive in close fights. 
Mastering the latter is required to get the most out of your limited firepower. 

HE deals low but effective damage. AP is great in specific situations. 


  • Decent range, gradually increases up the tiers
  • Mediocre torp damage, gets worse at high tiers
  • Fast and stealthy
  • 2x4 torp arrangement starting at Tier 6


German torps are best described as good enough. 
They aren't the highest damaging torps, but their fast speed and low detectability makes them hard to dodge. 
Range isn't the best, but it's enough to stealth torpedo by a comfortable margin. 
Their 8 torpedo broadside is also somewhat mediocre at higher tiers. 

Still, the torpedoes are an excellent complement to your guns.
Their fast reload lets you spam them to stall large pushes. 
Any enemy hit will become vulnerable to follow-up fires after burning DCP. 
A lucky torpedo hit can win you the DD fight, something that will happen surprisingly often. 
They won't beat dedicated torpedo DDs, but your torps will prove useful in many situations. 

Anti-Air Defense

Well yes, but actually no



You know your AA is weak when CVs 2 tiers below can attack you with minimal losses. 
Focus on avoiding being spotted in the first place. 
If that doesn't work, just dodge. 
Only use AA if you are detected, and that's mostly to shoot down fighters. 
See the Gameplay Tips section for help on how to just dodge. 

At least you can shoot down fighters, eventually

Depth Charges (Ship Launched) 

  • Pathetic damage
  • Drops a lot of Depth Charges per run 
  • Hydro helps with hunting subs
  • Launched from the rear of the ship


While individual depth charges deal poor damage, this is somewhat compensated by the number dropped. 
Like other DDs, the main issue is driving over the sub while not blowing up to his allies or getting shotgunned in the process. 
Though the Germans get an ace in the hole: Hydro
The long-range detection can force subs to dive early, robbing them of spotting and situational awareness. 
I don't recommend charging them unless they are completely isolated.

Hydro is useful, until you get shotgunned in the face. 


  • Slightly above average top speed
  • Somewhat wide turning radius
  • Mediocre rudder shift time, though it gets better at higher tiers

German DDs have decisively average maneuverability. 
While they don't excel in any evasive category, it is enough to give players the flexibility to choose how to dodge. 
It's also good enough for dancing around islands, something German DDs love to use with hydro. 
As long as you aren't trying to zoom across maps

Good enough


  • Mediocre surface concealment for a universal DD
  • Good aerial concealment like most other DDs. 


German DDs are on the upper end of acceptable concealment. 
Other DDs out spot them, but usually not by enough to avoid being spotted in return. 
Japanese torpedo DDs are a major exception as they vastly outclass you in concealment.
Hydro and island play can mitigate this weakness to a certain extent. 

At least your air detection is fairly low, good since your AA is ineffective. 
You want to remain hidden as long as possible against CVs. 

Mediocre, but good enough for DD roles. 


  • Standard Destroyer Damage Control Party
  • German Smoke Generator
  • Shorter smokescreen duration, but retains a long cooldown time
  • Standard Engine Boost 
  • German Destroyer Hydroacoustic Search
  • Equivalent to hydro used on non-German cruisers


Standard destroyer DCP, nothing worth talking about.
Engine boost is also the same as most other DDs, useful for repositioning and even dodging in a pinch. 

Unfortunately German smoke is completely inferior to every other smoke type in the game. 
Not only it has a short duration, but the cooldown remains painfully long at over 2 minutes. 
Very unfortunate when farming enemy ships.

This is more than compensated by having the best hydro in the game. 
While they can spot torps, their true power lies in their ability to spot other DDs. 
The ability to deny caps and hydro rush is very powerful when used correctly. 
See the Gameplay Tips section to learn how to maximize your hydro's effectiveness. 

Normal DCP and engine boost, weak smoke and amazing hydro

General Playstyle

The German Z-52 line belongs to the "Universal" type DD playstyle; capable all-around destroyers with excellent concealment
Universal DDs are defined as DDs with excellent concealment, roughly in the 5-6.3km detection range.  
They will out spot almost any other ship, making them effective at vision control and taking objectives. 
Examples include Z-52, Gearing, Shimakaze, and Daring. 

The Z-52 line excels at team support due to its powerful hydro, whether it is contesting caps or screening torpedoes.
However, their raw damage output suffers due to their short smoke duration and lackluster HE DPM. 
They are almost always outgunned in DD fights, though hydro and AP rounds can even the odds. 
Despite their low DPM, their 1/4 HE pen makes them surprisingly capable against larger ships. 
Unlike the Japanese DD Harugumo line, you don't need IFHE to deal direct damage without sacrificing fire chance. 
Torpedoes are also quite useful, allowing the Z-52 line to deal damage in almost any situation. 
Their damage output and range are subpar, so they should complement your guns, not replace them. 

Your optimal engagement range is ~4-7km against DDs, and 6-10km against other classes. 
While you won't win a fair 1v1 fight, don't be afraid to engage if you have the upper hand. 
Allied support, smoke/hydro, and even kiting away can even the odds when used properly. 
Otherwise, focus on controlling the objective and supporting the team. 
If that's not possible, then transition to a gunboat/damage farming playstyle. 
Try to farm out the enemy so you can move in to take the caps later. 

The key to success is leveraging your flexibility. 
The line may not specialize in any one role, but their adaptability will prove decisive in many games. 

Early Game (20:00 - ~15:00 in-game time)

Early game can be divided into two general tactics: Going for objectives or securing the flanks

In low DD matches or if the cap layout is favorable, then playing for the caps can give your team an early points advantage.
If you can hold on to the caps, your team will accumulate a significant points advantage going into the mid-late game. 
See the "How to take caps and not die" section in Gameplay Tips for more info. 

In radar-heavy maps or if you spawn far from the caps, it's generally better to focus on spotting. 
Early caps are nice, but not worth losing your ship for. 
By winning the flanks, you can set your team to win the side so you can take the cap later. 
Approach the flanks as you would a cap; once you get close to the midpoint of the map, get into a kiting position. 
Until you know the enemy DD and radar deployment, play cautiously. 
Your primary job is to gather info, not to force plays. 
If an opportunity opens up, that's great. But remember matches can go up to 20 minutes. 
Dying early cripples your team's spotting and cap control, which can lead to the enemy snowballing out of control. 

Mid Game (~15:00 - ~5:00 in-game time, or until ~4 ships remain on each team, whichever comes first)

After the first ~3-5 minutes, look at the minimap and team health and take stock of the situation. 
Also factor in the enemy DD situation. 

If the enemy is strong and looking to make a push, congrats you get to farm damage. 
Torps are a strong deterrent to pushing, but guns are even better. 
DDs are your biggest threat, but if he dies then usually the push stalls. 
See the "DD General Kiting Rules" in Gameplay Tips for more info. 
Assuming all goes well, you will farm a lot of damage while the other flank hopefully hasn't died. 
If both sides potato and enemy walks into spawn uncontested, then gg farm damage. 

If you get the strong side, then set up for a potential push. 
Killing the DD will give you the freedom to spot and encourage your team to push. 
Cruisers generally hate being permaspotted, so pushing them away will also cause the BBs to run. 
Then your team can push in and take the position for free. 
Pushing into the enemy spawn is great, but don't neglect your other flank. 
Sometimes it's better to just double back if the enemy is pushing on the other side. 

Most games will be roughly even with neither side having a decisive advantage. 
In these situations, cap control usually comes down to whoever wins the DD fight. 
If you have superior allied support and/or health, then play aggressively.
Force a fight in order to kill the enemy DD. 
Even if you just severely damage him, you've done your job. 
A low-health DD can no longer contest caps.

If killing the enemy DD is difficult or impossible, then rotate off and secure the other caps. 
Timely rotations can catch enemies off guard, netting you caps or even kills for minimal losses. 
If your other flank is failing, rotating over can prevent a total collapse. 
Though be careful if you are the only DD on your side. 
Many players will blindly follow DDs around, causing everyone to end up back in spawn and down all 3 or 4 caps. 

Late Game (5:00 to end of game, or when there only a few ships on the map)

The Z-52 line's lack of DPM and mediocre concealment generally puts them at a disadvantage in 1v1s and small skirmishes. 
Besides radar ships, lack of firepower will make any healthy ship difficult to deal with. 
Lucky torps are your best friend, though usually, it's a team effort with you providing the spotting. 
Healthy DDs can also be a problem, but you can smoke/island+hydro combo to keep them off the objectives. 

The overall strategy is to obtain/maintain the point lead. 
Healthy ships should run down the enemy while damaged ships provide support or take unguarded caps. 
Usually, it's best to group up as you can pick off lone enemy ships. 
As a DD, your job is to provide spotting and/or take caps depending on the situation. 
Don't be afraid to draw attention if you are healthy. 
A dead ally can provide a massive point swing that can lose the game. 

Quick Individual Ship Assessment

The last time I've played the Tier 2-5 ships was 7 years ago. 
I will refrain from giving my outdated opinions about them. 
Not that it matters as Tier 5 and below is just co-op with more rewards. 
Remember these assessments are my own opinion
Other players may rank the ships differently, but that doesn't necessarily mean their assessment is wrong. 

Ernest Gaede: 3/10

Mid-tier German DDs are just unfortunate, with Gaede somehow being the least bad of the bunch. 
Her guns struggle to output damage while the ship itself turns like a brick. 
Not all is bad though as she is the tankiest Tier 6 DD. Hydro also offset her weakness to torps. 

You won't die quickly, but so won't the enemy. 
And that can be a problem as you literally can't kill enemies fast enough if they start snowballing. 
But as far as learning the ship, Gaede is very forgiving due to her health and easy-to-use guns. 
Don't be afraid to get aggressive. 
If you make a mistake, then Gaede's HP will let you recover in most situations. 
If not, then oh well it's tier 6. 
Learn from your mistakes so you can do better next time. 

Gaede is a suboptimal choice for ranked. 
Even if T-61 didn't make her completely outclassed, Gaede still suffers from her poor surface concealment and lack of firepower. 
Both of which puts her at a severe disadvantage in DD fights. 
Not to say you can't win in Gaede, but your victories will come more from the enemie's lack of skill rather than the qualities of your ship. 

Lebrecht Maass: 2/10

Ah yes, let's take a DD and give her such awful surface detection that other DDs with twice her firepower will out spot her by miles. 
What could possibly go wrong?

No seriously, Maass is a complete mess. 
6.8km surface concealment is on par with Russian gunboats, and Maass has worse DPM and ballistics. 
Caps become difficult to contest downtiered, and nearly impossible when uptiered. 
Tier 7 matchmaking is also ruthless as Tier 8-9 DDs both outspot and outgun her. 
It's sad when a Japanese torpedo DD of all things can gun you down. 
And of course, can't forget about the radar cruisers or CV planes trying to make what's left of your gameplay as miserable as possible. 

Her only saving grace is her 32mm HE pen, letting her farm slow but reliable damage even against Tier 8-9 ships. 
Maass is essentially forced to play as a [edited] gunboat. 
Objectives are not your primary objective. 
Instead, focus on farming cruisers and BBs. 
Kill them and the enemy DD will be forced to give up the cap anyways. 
Supporting your own DD also works, but don't do this if there are only 1 or 2 DDs in the match. 

Maass is surprisingly better in ranked, though that's not saying much.
She still mostly farms battleships and cruisers, though she still has to be careful around radar ships like Atlanta. 
While she can't contest open water caps, other caps may have islands that Maass can sit behind with hydro.  
I wouldn't recommend her if you have a Haida or Jervis, but Maass can be an interesting challenge.

Z-23: 5/10

Z-23 is a breath of fresh air compared to the disaster that is Maass. 
Not only does she fix all of Maass's problems, she even improves on some aspects. 
You are even allowed to do DD things again thanks to your acceptable concealment. 

Otherwise it's back the usual German DD playstyle. 
Contest caps, spot for the team, even farm enemy ships with smoke. 
You still won't win any DD gunfights, but kiting and allied support can even the odds.  

In ranked, Z-23 is slightly outclassed by Lo Yang but otherwise has average performance. 
Unfortunately average is not enough as Kidd, Akizuki, and Cossack will dominate her outside of the smoke/hydro combo. 
A lucky torp or 2 is needed to even the odds. 

Z-46: 7.5/10 

If Z-23 was a breath of fresh air, then Z-46 is living on cloud 9. 
Again, she fixes everything that held Z-23 back while improving on her strengths. 
With 5.9km concealment, you can easily face-spot other DDs. 
Her guns are also a massive step up with faster reload and more importantly superior ballistics. 
For the first time you can go toe-to-toe in gunfights against same-tier DDs.

Her only major issue is the occasional supership match, but then again you can't expect any Tier 9 ship to fare well in the same situation. 
Tier 10 DDs are also an issue, but you have the tools to work around them when used properly. (except Smaland and Ragnar of course)
But this is a small price to pay for utterly demolishing any lower-tier DD you face. 

Z-46 still isn't the best DD at Tier 9, but she gives the others a run for their doubloons. 
At least enough to be the best German DD in the line. 

Z-46 is a powerful DD in ranked, but just slightly falls behind the top ships like Kitakaze and Black. 
Though she lacks in DD fights, her utility and firepower against larger ships can prove decisive in certain situations. 

Z-52: 5.5/10

While not as good as her predecessor, Z-52 is actually ok all things considered. 
The 6km hydro is a game changer, fundamentally changing her DD engagements.
As her surface detection is 6.1km any DD that face spots her will always be spotted in return as long as hydro is active. 
Very convenient when you can hide in smoke and attack without retaliation. 

While lack of range is always an issue, Z-52's main problem is the prevalence of radar. 
Tier 10 is home to a host of powerful radar ships, all of which solely exist to ruin your day. :fish_panic:
While you can maneuver around the radar cruisers, the radar destroyers Smaland and Ragnar are just awful to fight against. 
Thankfully the radar DDs are rare in randoms, but keep a close eye in case you happen to face them. 

Otherwise, Z-52's gameplay remains largely the same, though you will miss the rearward firepower. 
Contest caps, fight off other DDs, and farm larger ships when the objectives are secure. 

Z-52 is situationally useful in ranked, mostly because radar simply does her gimmick but better. 
There are a few maps where he can safely tuck behind islands and use her 2-minute hydro, but it is very inconsistent. 
Smaland and Ragnar will crush her in gun duels, even inside her hydro smoke gimmick. 
Z-52 can still pick on Shimakaze, but she becomes nearly unviable in the higher leagues where EU DDs are commonplace. 
If you must play her in ranked, focus on caps that have an island in them. 
Have allies nearby if facing Ragnar or Smaland, bait out their radar and exploit their 2 minute cool down as best you can. 

Clan Battles is a similar situation as radar cruisers generally outclasses Z-52's hydro for cap control. 
Even if Smaland is banned, Daring and Shimakaze are better suited for vision control. 
That being said, Z-52's hydro will lockdown caps far longer than a radar. 
6km hydro can dominate certain maps, but it will be limited to lower leagues or niche strategies for King of the Seas.

Gameplay Tips:

Most of these tips apply to other DD lines.
Even if you don't grind the Z-52 line, I highly recommend reading the tips to improve your overall DD gameplay. 
I will specify which tips also apply to other DDs. 

HE vs. AP

Despite its lower damage, HE is still your default shell. 
If the target is angled or if he has very thick armor, HE will deal more damage. 
Fires are also deadly against BBs, so try to light multiple sections on fire. 
You won't beat any ships in a damage race, but at least it's consistent damage. 

While more situational, correct usage of AP is necessary to maximize your damage output. 
German DD AP is quite powerful, so powerful in fact each AP pen deals the same damage as 2 HE pens.
If you expect to land at least 2 full damage AP shells, then it is worth switching to. 

Against enemy DDs, you have to predict when he will go broadside.
Most DDs will maneuver to get all their guns in the fight, with most over-rotating their ship in the process. 
Common times include the first few seconds of the fight and during the turnout. 
When done properly, you can land a devastating 4k+ salvo that may decide the fight. 
Keep in mind AP may still overpen thinner DDs at closer ranges. 
Tier 10 DDs are usually thicc enough for shells to arm in time, but T9 and below may need to be slightly angled to arm properly. 

Against broadside cruisers and BBs, aim at the upper belt and superstructure. 
Under ~6km, your guns become accurate enough to target the bow/stern sections as well. 
I would generally avoid using AP past 10km as you are more likely to bounce off the deck and even shatter on the belt. 
Also, against healthy broadside BBs I actually recommend starting with HE. 
Once he is on fire, switch to AP so your shells deal more damage. 
This way you maximize both your fire and direct shell damage. 

Hydro and Caps

In certain caps, it is possible to trap other DDs with your long-range hydro. 
You effectively become a super radar ship, keeping DDs permaspotted while staying safe behind islands. 
Just be careful around radar ships. 
6km hydro is nice, but 10/12km radar is better.
Good caps to hydro gimmick include the A cap in Hotspot, C cap on Neighbors, and the easternmost cap of Sleeping Giant
Below is an example of the hydro gimmick in action:



Smoke + Hydro Gimmick

By far your most potent gimmick when fighting other DDs. 
If you can get close enough to catch DDs in hydro range, you can kill them without fear of retaliation. 
You don't even need to use your own smoke. 
Sometimes you can use the enemy's smoke against him, masking your approach before you assassinate him. 
With the exception of Z-52, your surface detection outranges your hydro. 
While it is difficult to approach in open water, creative use of islands and smoke can overcome this issue. 
You can even approach from the side if the opponent is distracted. 
Done correctly, you can kill full HP ships while taking almost no damage in return.

I've included 2 examples:


Note the effectiveness of AP in both scenarios. 

Harugumo is very thick, so most AP rounds detonate in the hull
Z-35 is thinner, so most of my AP rounds overpen instead. 

However, keep in mind your guns can't kill enemies quickly. 
Healthy French DDs can rush your smoke and kill you at point-blank range. 
Save 1 set of torpedoes for this purpose. 
He can rush you, but even French DDs can't dodge at point-blank range. 

While hydro-ambushing enemies is nice, in practice 90% of your hydros will be for torpedo defense. 
Hydro can also deny caps, but few caps have islands you can hide behind. 
Most DD players at least respect the gimmick and won't suicide charge you. 
The combo is also very risky against cruisers as many will carry hydro, assuming they don't radar you first. 

How to take caps and not die

(Applies to other universal type DDs)

There are 2 general methods for taking caps: the standard approach and the reverse-in or KotS method 

Most of the time, you can just run full speed into the cap and turn away from the enemy. 
After entering the cap, turn away from the predicted enemy position so that your stern faces the enemy
Don't forget to pop hydro so you don't get torped. 
If you get radared, you can immediately go forward to escape.
In larger caps, you can back up a little to get extra spotting, but be careful when doing this against other DDs. 
You will be vulnerable during the transition from reverse to full forward. 
I've included a short video demonstrating this tactic:


Whatever you do, DO NOT RUN IN AND IMMEDIATELY SMOKE. (at least not at the start of the game)
Not only are you denying vision to your own team, but you are asking enemies to torp you. 
Hydro is not an excuse to sit in smoke, nor does it stop enemies from radaring you and chasing you out anyways. 
Do not be the potato DD that every team dreads:



If the cap is heavily guarded with multiple radar ships and DDs trying to kill you, this is when you use the tactic of... ignoring the cap entirely. 
Unless your team is way behind on points, it is better to focus your efforts elsewhere, whether it is spotting the radar cruisers to death or going for a different cap. 
As a DD, you don't take fair fights or walk into obvious traps. 
Use your flexibility and work around the enemy. Strike where they are weak. 

Now if you are in a Clan Battle or some unfortunate setting where you have to take the cap under fire, then use the KotS method.
It's actually similar to the first method, but instead of running directly into the cap, you slowly reverse in. 
This method is slower, but is much safer if you expect resistance like a radar ship. 
If you get radared, you can W out and try again in a minute. 
Just don't back into the exact same spot
Smart enemies will throw torps, blindfire, or send planes to your old location as soon as you re-enter. 

Vision Control

(Applies to all DDs)

Vision control is a broad topic that deserves its own guide, but I will cover the basics here. 
The goal is to both spot the enemy ships while keeping the enemy from easily spotting yours. 
A blind team will be outmaneuvered and destroyed in short order. 

DD fights are the fastest way to win the vision wars. 
Not only do you kill the main source of spotting, but now it's easier for you to spot the enemy. 
Keep in mind German DDs aren't the greatest in DD fights, so make sure you have support to even the odds. 

Prioritize keeping low-health enemies spotted for your team to finish off. 
Don't be afraid to position aggressively to keep them spotted, though have a smoke ready just in case. 
Other good targets to spot are squishy cruisers and radar ships. 
Keeping them spotted gives your team a chance of killing them, or at the least forcing them away. 

The spotting game is a very complicated and dynamic one. 
A good position to spot enemies in 1 game can be completely useless for the next. 
Unfortunately learning how to provide vision on the right targets requires consistent practice and situational awareness. 

Help, I'm being radared

(Applies to all DDs)

Russian cruisers are very annoying to fight due to their 12km radar and railgun ballistics. 
It's not as bad against US cruisers and RN Light cruisers, but getting caught under 7km is usually instant death. 

The key to fighting them is teamwork and splitting their attention.
Always keep track of where the radar cruisers are positioned.
If possible, skirt the edge of radar range so you can immediately run away if needed. 
Most players will radar early, so once you bait it just run out of its range and wait for it to end.
Use speed boost to dodge their shells. 
You can even hide behind islands in certain situations, but be aware of other enemies.
Just because the radar ship can't shoot you doesn't mean his teammates can't. 
Once the radar is down, you get 2 minutes to do whatever you need to do. 
Whether it is taking caps or counter-farming the radar cruiser. 

If he doesn’t radar, then follow the same tactics as open water gunboats.
It’s extremely important to keep track of his turrets.
If it’s turning towards you, a radar is likely to follow. 
You can use smoke to stop other ships from shooting you, but always stay at the edge of his range in case he radars. 

Radar DDs fall into 2 categories: Smaland/Ragnar, and everyone else. 
The Smaland/Ragnar match up is a disaster as they can beat you even at half HP. 
Your best defense is a combination of prediction, islands, and allied support. 
You will still take heavy damage, but at least you can make them pay a heavy price for it. 

Thankfully the other radar DDs are far easier to deal with, i.e Orkan, Hsien Yang, Chung Mu, Black, and Yue Yang. 
They still outgun you, but not to the extent of Smaland/Ragnar. 
In fact, you can trade favorably with the proper support and tactics. 
Whatever you do, don't panic smoke until you know their radar is on cooldown. 
Not only will it not conceal you, but you will also block vision for the rest of your team who could have shot the radar ship. 
DD radar only extends out to 7.5km, so only smoke past this range. 

Note: Pan Asian DDs can only carry smoke or radar, not both.
Assume they have radar until proven otherwise. 

Beginner Dodging Tips

(Applies to all DDs)

While the Z-52 line isn't the best at maneuvering, they are good enough to dodge all but the fastest shells. 
As a general rule of thumb, DDs will struggle to hit you past 7-8km while cruisers and BBs struggle past 10-12km. 
As long as you stay mobile, you should be able to avoid major damage. 

Aside from basic turns, the easiest method to dodging is to simply hit the brakes and turn out. 
Once the shots pass over, immediately re-apply full engine power so you can evade the follow-up salvoes. 
Congrats, you have successfully dodged 99% of enemy salvoes. 
Speed boost makes this tactic even more effective due to the increased acceleration
If you have trouble with knowing when to dodge, take Incoming Fire Alert
Other than this, maintain your speed and keep turning to make yourself a harder target. 

Advanced Dodging Tips

(Applies to all DDs and French cruisers)

Once you learn the basics, efficient dodging comes from understanding the psychology behind how players aim.
For example, worse players tend to underlead shots while better players tend to overlead.
Against weaker players, you can easily dodge by running full speed in a straight line, at least until they adjust their aim. 
Good players will still nail you, so you turn out and hit the brakes to dodge their first salvo. 
Funny enough this can sometimes backfire as you can dodge into a poorly aimed salvo if you overestimate the enemy's skill level. 

Another example is shown in the video below:



In this scenario, I'm contesting a cap while being radared
Since I am radared, enemies expect me to run away and aim at the bow
Instead, I go backward and completely dodge everyone's salvo, taking no damage in the process. 
Tallinn's radar only lasts 15s, so I only need to dodge 1 salvo, maybe 2 from cruisers. 

I can go on, but the general idea remains the same: do the opposite of what the enemy expects. 
This applies to all ships, but DDs have the maneuverability to take full advantage of this. 
If you can master his skill, then you can save your HP for important situations where you can't avoid damage. 

Damage Farming Tactics

(Applies to all DDs)

The Z-52 line can do both open-water gunboating and smoke farming, depending on the situation. 
Open water gunboating is best done against distracted enemies or if you will take little damage in return. 
You will have to operate near maximum gun range, but this lets you maintain spotting and save a smoke for later use. 
Keep an eye on the Priority Target counter. 
If the number ticks up, it might be a good time to smoke or go dark. 
Otherwise keep an eye on enemy turret orientation. 
If it starts turning towards you, this is a good time to go quiet. 
German DDs cannot dodge as well as the French DDs, but it's good enough for short engagements. 

Smoke farming is more powerful as you can attack from closer ranges. 
While you can focus more on aiming, don't forget smokescreens are torpedo magnets. 
Always use hydro if its available. At the very least be angled to their predicted vector. 
Ideal smoke ranges are between 7-9km, though this can vary depending on the enemy's movement. 
Against yoloing enemies, try to position the smoke off to his side. 
This way if he wants to run you down, he has to give broadside to your allies. 
Also keep torps ready just in case. 

Before you smoke, always make sure someone else is providing spotting. 
It is an awkward moment if you smoke up and deny your team's only source of vision. 
Even more awkward if the low HP enemy escapes because of you. 

Oh no, the CV only focuses DDs

(Applies to every ship)

Fighting CVs and hybrid BBs is never fun as many will go out of their way to focus you. 
The longer you live, the more time they waste on you.
Time spent not killing the rest of your team. 

Play cautiously if planes are buzzing around though. 
It's usually better to avoid combat until you know the CV isn't going for you. 
Last thing you want is to be caught unprepared and take the focus fire of 5 ships. 
AA should always be turned off by default. 
You aren't shooting down planes, so your best defense is avoiding them altogether. 

If the CV is actively going for you, then immediately get away from the enemy surface ships. 
Use allied AA support if possible. 
Try to stay in open water to give yourself room to maneuver. 
Rockets and HE bombers are your biggest threat. 
Torpedo bombers are also dangerous, but are easier to angle towards.
As long as you aren't distracted, you should be able to dodge. 

If there are too many threats to dodge, don't be afraid to burn smoke.
Losing 1 smoke is better than losing half your health. 

Not all games are winnable 

(Applies to everyone)

The most important tip. 

You will get unwinnable games from time to time.
Even the best players with the most try-hard divisions cannot win 100% of their games. 
At the end of the day, World of Warships is a game designed for entertainment (and spectating potatoes for content)
If WoWs is making you miserable, it's time to take a break.
Get up, walk around, do something productive. Anything to get your mind off of WoWs. 
You can always come back later. 

Final Thoughts

Overall the Z-52 line is an easy-to-play (by DD standards), but a difficult-to-master line of ships. 
They are an excellent starter branch for new DD players, teaching the universal playstyle in a forgiving way. 
Beginners aren't bombarded with heavy gimmicks like the Royal Navy DDs. 
Nor does it reinforce one-dimensional habits like the Japanese Shimakaze Line. 
Instead, their versatility will teach you how to approach the situation in a variety of different ways. 
Mistakes still hurt, but German DDs have a better chance of surviving them while teaching valuable lessons. 

While newer players can use their quicks to stay alive, it takes a true unicum to realize their full potential. 
Using the right shell is critical to maximizing your damage output.
And though hydro is usually a torpedo defense tool, they can turn enemy DD's smokes against them.
Used correctly German DDs will win fights that they otherwise would never stand a chance. 
Not bad for a line whose specialty revolves around team support. 

Despite being a DD main (or maybe because of it), I found this guide harder to write than my previous ones. 
DD gameplay is very complex and the tips section only covers a fraction of what I consider essential. 
Still, I'm happy to write this guide as German DDs are great for newer players to learn. 
Even experienced players can find them useful to master the DD class. 
For me, regrinding the line has shown how much I've improved since the start of WoWs.  
The averages I can put up today would have been unthinkable to the old me when there were only 4 DD lines. 
Still getting bad teammates though. Some things never change. 

This is currently my 3rd Tech Tree line guide, and my 4th overall. 
Currently, I am focusing on tech tree guides as they are rare to come by, but I occasionally review premium ships if I get time or take a particular interest in them. 
My next guide will be the Z-42 as she is the newest steel ship to be released at the time of writing. 
Her playstyle is actually similar to the Z-52, so I will write another detailed guide and totally not recycle content in the process. 
If you want to learn how a particular line works, let me know and I might be inclined to (eventually) make a guide for it. 

Sources Used

Wows-ShipBuilder: https://app.wowssb.com/

Used for all relevant ship parameters. The dispersion and ballistic charts are also very helpful in visualizing how good/bad your dispersion is. 

WoWs Shiptool: https://shiptool.st/

Excellent for comparing entire tiers or class of ships

In-Game Armor Viewer

Have to show the armor even if it doesn't exist. 

WoWs wiki: https://wiki.wargaming.net/en/World_of_Warships

Their articles on exact gameplay mechanics are quite handy. 

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