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Illinois - Premium Ship Guide - 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
  • History
  • Skill level
  • Who should play this ship
  • Should I spend 51k RP for Illinois?
  • Captain build and ship upgrades
  • Ship Characteristics
  • Armor and Durability
  • Main Armament
  • Secondary Armament
  • Anti-Air Defense
  • Anti-Sub Airstrikes
  • Maneuverability
  • Concealment
  • Consumables
  • General Playstyle
  • Early game
  • Mid Game
  • Late Game
  • Ranked
  • 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 Tier 9 US premium battleship Illinois.
She is available in the Research Bureau for 51,000 Research Points (RP). 
Players will need to research 5x Tier 10 ships before they can access RB. 
Each line reset gives 10k RP, or 20k with a 2x bonus. 
3-5 resets are necessary to research her. 

My assessment is current as of April 2, 2023 in patch 12.2
Barring major changes, this guide will remain relevant throughout the future. 

Summary: Stock Iowa hull with Buffalo guns. DPM-focused battleship with a kiting cruiser playstyle. 


The real-life BB-65 USS Illinois was to be the 5th Iowa-class battleship to be built for the US Navy. 
Due to the US Navy prioritizing CV construction, Illinois and her sister ship Kentucky remained unfinished by the end of World War 2. 
While both ships would eventually be scrapped, there were various proposals to convert Kentucky including a guided missile battleship concept and of course the anti-air battleship concept. 
This particular refit represents the SCB-19 project, though in-game Illinois is probably slightly different than the actual blueprints. 
For more information, Drachinifel covers the SCB-19 project in his video: 

Side note: Considering Kentucky was the more likely of the 2 to be converted, I find it odd that WG went with Illinois instead. 
Perhaps they are saving Kentucky for another premium concept (please, no BBG-1)

Skill Level

Skill floor: Mid

Durable in a kiting cruiser role, but new players may mistakenly play her as a BB
Getting close for effective DPM can be a tricky affair
Shells are hard to aim at typical fighting ranges past 13km

Skill Ceiling: Low-mid 

Kiting cruiser playstyle is easy to master
Close-range firepower will reward aggressive players if timed correctly
Positioning can be tricky due to the relatively high surface detection and slow shells

Who should play this line

Recommended for:

Unique concept - Illinois is currently the only DPM focused BB in the game
BB main battery ribbon farming - Uniquely suited for this mission due to her RoF
Credit farming - Tier 9 ships are excellent credit farmers, and Illinois is no exception

Not recommended for:

First-time RB ship - Ohio is generally regarded as superior and only costs 10k more RP
Competitive modes - Lack of crossfire or tanking potential leaves her without a useful role. Cruisers can do the kiting role without taking the BB slot

Should I spend 51k RP for Illinois?

While Illinois has a respectable performance, she faces stiff competition from other Research Bureau ships. 
Ohio stands out in particular as she is a very strong Tier 10 BB and only costs 10k more RP. 
Colbert is a funny dakka-dakka machine and Vampire 2 is a solid DD with hydro. 
For Tier 9 ships, Paolo is a funny yolo boat and Siegfried is a cruiser with a BBish playstyle. 
I argue their playstyle is more unique than Illinois's reskinned kiting cruiser playstyle. 
Basically, it isn't an easy decision from a pure gameplay perspective. 

She is definitely fun to play if for the funny 8" autoloader go brrrrrrr memes. 
If other ships doesn't seem appealing, then by all means get Illinois. 
If you have played US heavy cruisers, then you will easily transition over to Illinois. 

Captain Build and Ship Upgrades 

Standard US BB build: https://share.wowssb.com/Jo9k


If you can't afford or don't want to create a designated Illinois captain, then the standard US BB captain build will work. 
It's practically the same build but trades Demo Expert and Vigilance for Preventative Maintenance and Grease the Gears. 
There isn't much of a difference, so take this build if the captain also plays on any of the US BB lines. 

Dedicated Illinois build: https://share.wowssb.com/YW9w


Take the skills in the numbered order.

  • Main Battery Mod 1 - Standard module to reduce risk of guns getting knocked out
  • Damage Control System Mod 1- Standard module for BBs
  • Artillery Plotting Room Mod 1 or Main Battery Mod 2-  All of the slot 3 upgrades aren't really useful tbh. I take the range upgrade for easier BB farming at 18km, but you shouldn't be shooting at max range unless there is literally no other target. 
  • Steering Gears Mod 1- Helps offset Illinois's slow rudder shift, but prop mod or DCM2 are also fine if that is what you normally run. 
  • Concealment System Mod 1 - You need to get close to offset your shell's slow speed. It's not worth running any other upgrade in this slot. 
  • Artillery Plotting Room Mod 2 - US BB exclusive upgrade. Invaluable for improving your accuracy. Reload mod is also fine for better close range firepower

Skills reasoning:

  • Preventative Maintenance - Reduces the chance of guns getting knocked out
  • Brisk- Illinois can use her high speed to stealthily get into position before opening fire
  • Adrenaline Rush - Mandatory skill for all BBs. Gives you free firepower for tanking for your team. 
  • Concealment Expert - You need all the detection-reducing modifiers due to your slow shells
  • Fire Prevention - Another mandatory BB skill as you will almost certainly be lit on fire. 
    • This takes priority over Emergency Repair Expert as saves you more fire damage in the long run. 
  • Emergency Repair Expert - Extra heal is very useful for late game, but is a lower priority than the other 2 skills.
  • Vigilance - Helps somewhat with dodging torpedoes. Priority target is also fine if you use the PT counter trick
  • Demolition Expert- Helps slightly with getting witherers and arsonists


Basics of Survivability - It's ok, but her Improved Repair Party offsets the need to reduce fire/flooding duration
Gun Feeder - Useful if you have Halsey or a Doe brother for the improved version

This build is largely the same as other BB tank builds, but with Demolition Expert to increase her fire starting chance. 
To be honest, anything past the 18th point will have very little effect on your performance. 
So pick whatever skill you feel like if you don't agree with my suggestions. 

Unique Captains:

While the Doe brothers provides little benefits, their starting 10pt makes them usable without having to invest exp for a 4pt skill. 
Halsey's -20% reload time is powerful if you can constantly get the Confederate achievement. 
In terms of difficulty, it's roughly the same as Iowa. 
Illinois is more consistent, but Iowa can get lucky with a few dev strikes. 

Armor and durability 

Small HP pool, but uses the improved US BB heal like Iowa
Similar hull to Iowa, lower citadel but weaker turret armor
Citadel itself is well below the waterline, and difficult to hit
Average in terms of armor protection
25% Torpedo Protection System, poorly protected against torpedoes

External Armor -



Internal Armor -




Turret Armor -



Citadel Waterline -



Illinois shares a nearly identical hull with the other Iowa class battleships, but with a few critical differences. 
The armor itself is almost the same including the 38mm deck, large superstructure, and belt armor. 
However, Illinois's citadel sits far below the water line. 
As a result, Illinois rarely takes citadel hits even when showing full broadside. 

However, Illinois comes with ~11k less HP, giving her the 3rd lowest HP pool of all Tier 9 BBs. 
Tier 8 North Carolina has almost the same HP pool, but is considerably smaller and harder to hit. 
An improved repair party somewhat compensates, but it's not enough. 
Especially since her armor can't resist enemy shells like a German or Russian BB. 
The rear citadel is especially vulnerable as that 16mm bulkhead armor isn't stopping anything.
Anything with 32mm overmatch will citadel your aft, but thankfully those ships are uncommon. 

It doesn't help her turrets are vulnerable to getting knocked out. 
The 203mm turret face won't stop a BB shell head-on, leading to frequent incapacitation if the enemy aims correctly. 
Even high-penetration cruiser AP rounds will cause issues under 10km.  

25% Torpedo defense system also happens to be one of the worst with 1-2 torp hits enough to cripple your ship. 
Her elongated bow and wide turning radius does her no favors either. 
Basically if something is torping you, good luck because you will need it. 
Not to say you can't tank of course, but avoid running headlong into heavy focus fire. 

Same survivability as Tier 8 North Carolina, a BB one tier lower. Also poor turret protection. 😐

Main Armament


  • Battlecruiser dispersion, accurate by BB standards
  • Best HE DPM of any BB
  • AP with enhanced pen angles is surprisingly useful, but don't expect citadels
  • Slowest BB shell by a large margin, expected since it's literally US heavy cruiser shells
  • Excellent turret angles, can fire 30° off the bow and stern
  • Short main battery range

Dispersion and shell flight time: 




Illinois uses the exact same shells as the high tier US heavy cruisers, which makes her gunnery more like cruisers than other BBs. 
Her battlecruiser dispersion is good, but not on the same level as a proper cruiser, even with the -11% dispersion slot 6 upgrade. 
Cruiser ballistics also hurts as Illinois struggles to hit anything past 15km
Any slight maneuver is enough to dodge your shells, assuming you have enough lead in the first place. 
In this regard, the 18.5km range isn't too limiting as you can't hit anything anyway. 
You can increase the range to 21km, but this is mostly for slightly better vertical dispersion.

At least the turrets themselves turn fast enough for most fights. 
The angles are also really good as you can remain completely angled while firing all guns. 
However, fragile turrets can lead to frequent incapacitation at inconvenient times. 

AP shells:



AP-wise, it's a general downgrade but at least has its benefits. 
Enhanced AP bounce angles of 60-67.5° degrees means you can penetrate at steeper angles, more than what many players expect. 
The penetration is also good enough to citadel most cruisers under 12km. 
With a 9s reload and 12 gun salvo, you can land multiple citadels before the enemy angles. 
Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of threatening cross-map salvoes normally expected of a BB.  
Enemy BBs can gamer turn at longer ranges knowing you cannot delete them. 
Illinois can still rack up damage if the enemy stays broadside, but there isn't the fear of instantly losing 30k in 1 salvo. 

HE Shells:

Like other cruisers, HE is your primary damage dealer. 
In fact, Illinois has the best HE DPM of any Tier 9 BB. 
When factoring in accuracy differences, Illinois's damage output is roughly the same as Buffalo. 
With 32mm HE pen, only certain heavily armored sections of BB and cruisers can resist it.
Doesn't matter how they angle, they will burn down all the same. 

Overall HE remains your primary ammo type due to its reliability. 
AP offers burst damage that can prove decisive in close range fights. 
The right shells in the right place can make or break a close game. 

Trades long range crossfire potential for close range DPM. 

Secondary Armament


  • 7km base range, 10.5km max range
  • Bad effective damage output

Like most other ships, Illinois secondaries are not worth investing into.
Poor base firepower and awful accuracy means they do literally nothing past 7km, even if fully upgraded. 
Instead, they take away precious captain points that could have gone into making Illinois tankier. 
Don't mistake her for a Georgia or Massachusetts. 
Illinois brawls with her main guns, not some puny secondaries that can't hit the broadside of a Hannover. 

Brawl with your main guns instead

Anti-Air Defense


Good AA for a Tier 9 BB
Powerful Flak and mid-range AA



Illinois AA is actually quite good for a Tier 9 ship. 
Only a few cruisers and BBs with DFAA active can surpass her. 
This is useful for facing Tier 8 CVs... and nothing stronger. 
Tier 10 and super CVs can easily punch through your AA with minimal losses. 
Even determined Tier 8 CVs will break through and deal heavy damage. 
CVs will gladly trade a few planes for 10-20k salvoes, something almost unavoidable with your large hull.
Unless the enemy CV is a potato, play cautiously and try to stick near AA bubbles for support. 

Torpedo and AP Dive bombers are your biggest threat. 
Always angle to them whenever possible. 
HE and Skip bombers still do a lot of damage, but you can heal through their damage unlike the TBs and AP bombs. 
Rockets are mostly an annoyance as they need to hit the superstructure to deal damage.  
If the CV is wasting them on you, that's an attack not going for your DDs. 

Good, but not really

Anti-Sub Airstrikes


  • Same ASW as other Tier 9 battleships

Illinois shares the same depth charge airstrikes as some other same-tier battleships
Deals minor damage, but the extra range is very useful for hitting subs at standoff distance
That being said, multiple airstrikes from different ships can 1 shot subs if everything hits. 
Airstrikes can also be used to bait out enemy AA, giving keen players a rough estimate of the enemy’s position.  

BBs have the best ASW due to their range, quite ironic 



It's practically the same as Iowa, which is to say only good in a straight line. 
With those stats it takes at least 15 years to turn the ship, which makes dodging torps somewhat hard. 
Or dodging island, or dodging anything really. 
32.5 kts isn't even that good nowadays with some BBs pushing 35-40kts. 
Illinois is still fast by BB standard, but with all the 40-60kt cruisers and DDs running around, she feels a lot slower nowadays. 

Good luck doing anything but going straight



  • Mediocre detection for her effective gun range
  • Poor aerial detection

While her surface detection is actually good by BB standards, it's fairly high for her short range guns. 
It can be troublesome getting close enough to reliably hit enemy ships. 
Her survivability can somewhat compensate, but not so much in high tier matches. 
Against superships, either you die getting close or aim off screen at 20km ships. 

Air detection is like every other BB, easy permaspot gg. 
Good luck getting close in CV matches. 

Unlike other BBs, Illinois can actually shoot inside smoke without getting detected across the map. 
It's not as good as cruisers, but at least you can use friendly smokes in some situations. 

tl;dr: Technically good, but mediocre in practice considering her close range playstyle


US BB Improved Damage Control Party


US DCP offers excellent protection against fires and flooding due to their extended duration.
Gives you a lot of time to run away or go dark before getting lit on fire again. 
80s cooldown is the same as other BBs, so don't carelessly DCP 1 fire. 

US Improved Battleship Repair Party (Same as Iowa)


The improved repair party is the same as the US Montana line. 
Even with no captain skills or heal signals, the repair party will restore up to ~12k HP or about ~18% of your HP. 
Unfortunately, Illinois's small HP pool means she can't take full advantage of it, but at least you are more resistant to fire/flooding damage. 
You likely won't get the full healing effects by the 4th heal, possibly earlier if you took citadels or torps. 

Illinois only has those 2 consumables. No spotter plane or other fancy gimmicks to worry about. 

Excellent DCP and repair party. Where is my spotter 😞

General Playstyle


Illinois is essentially an Iowa hull with Buffalo firepower, combining to create the game's biggest kiting cruiser (for now). 
With her excellent bulk and firepower, she is easily the best HE spamming BB in the game. Even better than some cruisers at this role. 
However, this comes at the cost of not being able to do typical BB things like dev striking cruisers across maps or tanking for your team. 
Farming damage is easy, but converting it into a win is the hard part. 

While she can damage farm in the early game, she performs better in the mid-late game where she can close in on the enemy. 
8-12km is your optimal engagement, though expect to play most of the battle at 13km to max range. 
Farming BBs and large cruisers will be the bulk of your damage. 
While you angle to their AP, your HE spam will burn them down and eventually force them away. 
Even tier 10 BBs struggle to trade evenly
Only the overmatch BBs like Yamato will threaten your kiting playstyle. 

Cruisers are still important targets, but your slow shells can make it difficult at longer ranges. 
Funny enough other kiting cruisers will out trade you past ~14km due to their superior accuracy and your inability to dodge. 
Illinois can win trades under ~12km as her bulk lets her outlast the competition, but this isn't realistic until late game. 
Unlikes your DD players, most enemies actually have self-preservation instincts and won't let you walk up to them. 

DDs are a similar story as you can't hit them past the concealment range. 
However, if you somehow get under 10km, your rapid fire guns will make short work of any DD. 
Of course, this assumes you survive the constant waves of torps they will probably send at you. 

Just remember you aren't a Battleship, but a kiting cruiser that happens to have a BB designation. 
Your goal is to farm enemies early game to setup your mid-late game plays. 
With high bulk and DPM, she is excellent at counter-pushing after farming enemies to death. 
Patience and aim is the key to mastering her playstyle. 

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

Illinois is at her weakest during the early game due to her inability to snipe important targets. 
Recklessly charging in with such a big ship is just asking to get farmed down by half the team. 
Instead, do what every position guide says for literally every ship and run to the flanks. 
You aren't going for cross shots yourself, but limiting enemy crossfires is a good idea. 
The goal is to get into a good farming position and left click on enemies until something happens. 
In down tier matches, don't be afraid to sacrifice some HP to get closer. 
Losing some HP is a small price to pay for better shots and a slight AR boost. 

You will primarily be shooting at cruisers and BBs, but don't ignore the DD fight. 
Even a few hits can decisively swing the fight, and you get 2 chances to other BB's 1. 

If you are unlucky and get the middle spawn, you can try camping one of the center islands to get closer. 
This varies by map, but sometimes there is enough island cover to sit close to the enemy. 
Two Brothers is a good example and you can even turn around to camp enemies in mid. 

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. 

If the enemy is strong and looking to make a push, yay free damage. 
Bow in ships are easy to farm and you don't have to run immediately due to your massive HP pool. 
Against light enemy pushes, you can even just back into them to ensure they don't get away. 
Just don't be a sitting duck if a DD or sub is throwing torps at you. 
Give up ground if they are torping, and report the sub for ruining your otherwise easy game. 

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. 
Illinois has the DPM to help, but rarely gets close enough to land important salvoes. 
Still, don't pass up the shot if the opportunity presents itself. 
In the meantime focus on out-trading the enemy BBs and cruisers. 
You have the bulk to withstand unlucky hits unlike your lesser cruiser brethren, so bait enemies when appropriate. 
You can even do the classic US CA bow-in island tactic if there isn't overwhelming enemies. 

If you are playing into the enemies' weak side, push in to finish off low health ships. 
Other BBs are better at leading the charge, but Illinois does fine if you are closer. 
Once the side is secured, rotating back through spawn is usually the better play. 
Illinois can farm out BBs, but cruisers and torpedo DDs are very difficult to deal with. 
If the latter are kiting you, rotate through your own spawn instead and guard against any counterpush

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

Late game Illinois is quite powerful due to her ability to 1v1 most ships in the game. 
Only secondary BBs, torpedo DDs, and some high tier ships will give you trouble. 
Everyone else you can run up and abuse your close range DPM to win the fight. 

As usual, 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. 
Use your HP to push enemies away and clear the cap for your DDs to take. 
You can also just sit on your cap and block any attempts by the enemy to take it. 
Few enemies wants to fight you at close range, so position yourself so enemies can't avoid you.


Illinois is pretty good for a Tier 9 ranked BB, though probably not top tier like Musashi or Rupprecht. 
BB/Large Cruiser heavy matches are ideal where she can farm their pushes with little effort. 
As long as you don't show broadside, you will outtrade everything except Musashi and Rupprecht (in secondary range). 
Afterwards, you should still have HP to spare when counterpushing.
Her main problem is actually the early game DD fights as her poor ballistics prevents her from safely contributing. 
Sometimes the DD fight decides the match before you can do anything about it. 
Past the early game, just farm enemies faster than your allies get farmed. 
Focus on radar cruisers and yoloing German BBs. 
Holding 2 caps is the key to winning, so rotate to critical areas if needed. 

Gameplay Tips

While Illinois is considered a BB, many US heavy cruiser tips also apply to her

HE vs. AP

Illinois follows the same logic as the US CAs. 
HE is your primary ammo type as it pens the majority of armor you will be facing. 
Anything it can't pen, it can light on fire anyways. 
Doesn't matter how the target angles, HE will deal consistent damage. 
At mid-long ranges, target the superstructure. 
Dispersion isn't good enough to target individual sections, but stray shots can light other sections on fire if you are lucky. 
Against predictable targets at close ranges, try targeting the bow/stern if they aren't saturated. 
You may also light a fire if lucky. 

If the target is showing broadside, then switch to AP for maximum damage. 
They are best used under 10km due to shell flight time, though they remain effective against oblivious enemies at longer ranges. 
For cruisers, aim for the smokestacks and rear guns to maximize the chance for a citadel. 
If the enemy angles, you can usually sneak a citadel hit under the bow turrets unless he completely bows in. 
As good as your AP is, you can't overmatch Tier 6+ cruiser bows, so switch back to HE and continue farming.
Gun Feeder is highly recommended as you can quickly switch back to AP if he accidentally shows too much side. 

Against battleships, aim for the upper belt for constant penetration damage. 
Don't bother going for citadels unless you are under 4-6km and the BB is completely broadside.
Correct use of both shells is necessary to optimize your Illinois gameplay. 

Farming Fire Damage

The idea is to juggle fire damage between multiple ships, earning you witherer and/or arsonists in the process. 
BBs and large cruisers are good targets as they take the full 60s fire duration. 
As soon as you light 1 fire, immediately switch targets. 
Skilled players will usually let 1 fire burn, but others may immediately DCP 1 fire. 

If the enemy does use DCP, time your next HE salvo so that it hits just after the immunity period ends. 
Most BBs DCP lasts 15s, with Japanese BBs taking 10s and US BBs 20s. 
If done correctly, you can light a permanent fire that drains up to 20% of their HP. 
DCP cooldown is 80 seconds, so keep spamming them until they catch fire. 

Illinois is one of the best BBs for farming witherers due to her excellent fire starting capability.
Spread the HE love and you will be rewarded with easy 150k games. 

While farming damage feels great, do not tunnel vision so hard you lose track of the match. 
Farming does you no good if you ignore the DD taking your home cap for the win. 

This Daring clip is a good example of rotating fires: https://i.imgur.com/NUUMeYX.mp4

Illinois Engagement Ranges

While the shells perform best at ~5-12km, her bad concealment sometimes makes it difficult to get close at the start.
Practice leading enemy ships at longer ranges; good players should be comfortable landing hits at ~15km on cruisers and ~18km on BBs. 
This way you are still relevant if you can't get close for whatever reason. 
Higher damage output = faster enemy kills which can snowball into other advantages. 

If you are at low HP or there are a lot of threats, then play further back. 
Better to play safe than to die a horrible death in 2 minutes. 
Remember you are a threat as long as you live. 
Even a heavily damaged ship can repair and become a threat in just a few minutes. 

Getting close in the early game

While difficult, aggressive early-game positioning is still important for maximizing your firepower. 
Every kilometer helps when you are shooting orbital shells that take 70 years to land. 
If you haven't already, turn on ship detection radius on the minimap.
We will use this to check our position to ensure we don't get prematurely spotted

The most common way to get close is with islands. 
Use them to block line of sight as you approach. 
You can shoot over some islands, but it's generally not necessary due your high survivability. 
Leave the island camping for your allies. 

Instead, use islands to mask your broadside as you do the turnout. 
This puts you in a kiting position to receive an enemy push. 

If there is a CV in play, then watch for his planes before committing to a position. 
Getting spotted at the wrong time will cost you a lot of HP, not only from the CV but from the enemy team getting free shots. 
If he commits to the other side, that's your opening to get closer. 

Adrenaline Rush Abuse

(Works with all ships)

Everyone benefits from Adrenaline Rush, but BBs are especially well suited due to their ability to control their HP. 
High HP pool and good armor means you can safely fight even at half HP. 
As long as you don't overaggress, you essentially have +10% DPM for the rest of the game. 
Keep in mind sometimes it's better to heal early if you are expecting a major fight. 
This way your next heal is ready to go once the fight starts. 
Your DPM instantly drops to 0 once you die, so don't procrastinate on your heal. 



St. Vincent is used as an example

After letting 3 Yoshino fires burn, I return the favor in kind with an additional -16% reload time
Since there are no nearby threats, I don't mind sitting at 15k HP as I have time to heal it all back. 
I don't recommend losing this much HP but this screenshot demonstrates how effective AR can be in the late game. 

General kiting rules

(Useful for all ships)

The goal of kiting is to out outtrade the enemy and slow his push. 
It's like holding the high ground, making it harder for enemies to hit you while you have an easier time hitting in return. 
However, this comes at the cost of giving up space. 
Oftentimes it's a cap, but it can be a valuable chokepoint or even allow the enemy to flank your team. 
A good kiting position is one that best balances survivability and damage output while forcing enemies away from their next objective. 

Illinois kites well between ~12km - 15km. 
Bow in ships are easy to hit and your HE ignores their angling. 
Don't be afraid to get closer if the enemy doesn't have much firepower. 
You are quite tanky for a kiting ship, and getting closer increases your damage output. 
Of course if there are a lot of enemies mashing W, just run away. 
Focus on out-trading the enemy, deal more damage than they do to you. 

On bigger maps, can also draw enemies away from your team. 
Instead of running towards your team, run at a ~90° to the enemy push to setup a crossfire. 
Either the enemy gives you free broadsides or they send a few ships after you. 
You may even convince them to turn back to spawn, buying valuable time for your team. 
When the enemy is sufficiently weakened, you can counter push and punish them for letting you live. 

Think about where to position 2-3 minutes ahead

This is the part WG is referring to when they say "World of Warships, the thinking man's action game".
No individual salvo will win you matches, but positioning your flamethrower is what decides the match over time. 
Even a slight increase in damage output can win flanks faster, snowballing into advantages in other areas a few minutes faster. 

A lot of this comes down to experience and judging each side's relative strengths. 
For example if your other side loses a DD early on, they will likely give up the cap and possibly move away due to a lack of spotting. 
You may need to switch flanks to prevent a total collapse.  
Act as early so you aren't caught flatfooted when the enemy pushes in. 

Turret Management

It's important to pre-aim your guns rather than turning to react. 
Japanese ships generally have slow turret rotations speed, 
To do this, point your guns to 1 side and lock them into position with either Ctrl + X or holding down Right Mouse Button. 
This prevents the guns from rotating while you get your shep into position. 
When you are done angling, disengage the lock.
Done correctly, the guns should be in position ready to punish any target in your area. 

Dodging Torpedoes

Not taking torps is kinda important if you want your heal to function properly.
For a visual demonstration, click here for a video by OverlordBou that goes over the basics of dodging

Dodging torps itself is mostly predicting where torps are likely coming from, then not being in that area or angling. 
Before the match starts, take note of how many torp DDs, IJN CLs, and subs you are facing. 
During the early game, your DDs and CV should be able to spot which of those ships you will be fighting. 
Ideally keep a DD in front so he can keep the torp threats in check, or at least spot them. 
Stay angled to their general direction and keep varying your speed. 
Most DDs torp at the white line, so you will unlikely get hit if you constantly adjust your course. 
Even in the unlucky event the torps are on point, at least you are prepared to dodge. 

When you spot the torps, quickly turn parallel to them. 
Turning into them is the best way to dodge, but be careful of your end position. 
It does you no good if you get stuck bow in with no way out but broadside death. 
Turning out is not as good, but generally will leave you in a better defensive position against surface ships. 
In practice though, your starting angle will determine if you turn in or out. 

Playing in a CV match

Rockets are the only weapon type you aren't too worried about. 
Thick armor will usually prevent significant damage, though fires are still a problem. 
Turn into them when possible, though they move so fast even this may not be possible. 

Torpedo bombers will absolutely wreck you if they can cause flooding. 
Turn into the torpedo bombers to minimize your profile. 
If you think the CV is a potato, you can even slow down and try for a complete overshoot. 
This will make you vulnerable to follow up attacks, so don't do this often. 

Their ability to strike your citadel and deal unhealable damage counters your repair party, so dodge them at all costs. 
For AP DBs, turn broadside to avoid their bombs. 
Against torpedo bombers, turn parallel to the attack and present the narrowest profile possible. 
If you can't avoid the torps, then aim to receive them on the bow or stern. 
You can always heal bow/stern saturation damage, you can't heal much citadel damage. 
Rockets and HE DBs are lower priority since you can heal most of it back.  

While your AA can defend against lesser CV players, the constant spotting ruins your positioning game. 
There isn't anything you can do to stop planes spotting you across the map. 
Island can help you get close, but beware the CV can turn them against you. 
If you are stuck in open water, gg have fun kiting enemies at max range. 

For defending against attacks, try to be in open water where you have space to dodge. 
Good CVs can use islands to sneak inside your AA range and take minimal damage. 
Be careful of enemy BB cross fires, but Illinois is unlikely to take citadels anyways. 

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 reading WoWs April Fools jokes)
If WoWs gives you a match like this, it is telling you to take a break: 


(Thanks WG)

Final Thoughts

Overall Illinois is an interesting take on the kiting cruiser playstyle. 
Although she is both tanky and has good firepower, she has to get close to use the latter effectively. 
This is acceptable when farming BBs, but uniquely puts her at a disadvantage against a decent cruiser past 13km. 
They will have no problems hitting you while dodging everything in return.
Hopefully you get 4+ BB matches due to her ability to farm other BBs. 
Illinois doesn't make decisive or flashy plays but grinds enemies down in a war of attrition. 

Because of this, I merely rate her above average at best. 
Sadly NA matchmaking tends to be unforgiving due to 3 BB matches and constant uptiering into superships. 
There isn't much you can do once the enemy starts snowballing. 
On the bright side, she is easy to play due to her similarities with other US ships and an easy playstyle. 
You should also have a high-level captain available to maximize her effectiveness. 
To be honest, it's nice having a fun to play ship that isn't overpowered. 
So far most players have enjoyed playing her, myself included. 
If you decide on buying Illinois, you won't regret your purchase. 

This is currently my 3rd Premium ship guide, and my 7th 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 Russian Nevsky line, followed by either the Italian or French DD line. 
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. 

Since you have made it to the end, have this unusual Illinois dev strike:


Sources Used

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

Used for all relevant ship parameters. The dispersion and ballistic charts is also very helpful to visualize how good/bad your dispersion is. 
WoWs Shiptool: https://shiptool.st/

Excellent for comparing entire tiers or class of ships
In-Game Armor Viewer

Well, gotta 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 is quite handy. 


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