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Premium Ship Review: Thunderer (For Reals this Time)

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The following is a quick review of HMS Thunderer -- for reals this time.  She's the tier X reward-premium battleship for the British Royal Navy.  She has been provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes and the statistics discussed in this article are, to my knowledge, accurate as of patch 0.8.8

I'm still working hard on my Smolensk review.  However, Wargaming has released Friesland, Ark Royal, Thunderer, Ohio and Yudachi over the last couple of weeks so I'm going to push out a couple of quick updates for uncomplicated ships.  These won't follow the usual in-depth format of my other reviews nor are there likely to be enormous follow ups for the foreseeable future.  With this all said, here's all of the details you need to know about HMS Thunderer.

How to make Thunderer

Start with the current HMS Conqueror.

Boring ol' stock Conqueror. This icon is now different with all of her triples instead of the pairs.  There's nothing you can upgrade anymore.

First thing to do is to call it some nasty names so it gets all teen-angst.  Make sure it has a big mood and starts acting all emo.

Camo includes the bonuses: 100% experience gains, -50% to repair costs, +20% to credit earning, -3% to surface detection ranges, +4% to enemy gunnery dispersion.

Now rip off her 4x3 419mm guns and replace them instead with 457mm guns.  Also make those black and edge-lord like the rest of her hull.

Conqueror *used* to be able to arm itself with 457mm guns. It can't anymore.

Add a bit of WD-40 to those turrets so that they turn faster.

Conqueror's guns rotate at 4.0º/s. Thunderer's rotate at 5.0º/s.

Now give your gun crew some performance enhancers.

Thunderer's 457mm guns reload in 26 seconds. Conqueror's 419mm guns reload in 30 seconds. No, it does not make sense. Stop thinking about how a 1,500kg shell can be manhandled faster than a 1,150kg shell.

Then teach the gunners to shoot past her nose, not up it.

Conqueror has 1.8 sigma with her 419mm guns and uses American battleship dispersion. Thunderer has 1.9 sigma on her 457mm guns and uses Alaska's and Graf Spee's dispersion. Yeah, that's nuts.  See below for a dispersion map.

Also, teach her AP shells not to be in such a damn hurry all the time.

Conqueror's AP shells fuse after just 15 milliseconds. Thunderer's AP shells fuse after 33 milliseconds. This makes Thunderer's AP shells more likely to explode deeper inside a ship, helping her land citadels against vessels with their machine spaces and magazine buried further within the hull.  It also means they're more likely to over-penetrate.

Tighten up those buns.

Thunderer has a 10.4 second rudder shift time. Conqueror has 17.3 second rudder shift. Note that both Conqueror and Thunderer have the same bugged turning circle radius. In port, it will say they can come about with an 820m radius but it's actually a terrible 930m radius instead.

Now, unnecessarily fiddle with her AA armament -- not making it better, just making it different.

Thunderer has 77 / 613 / 49 AA DPS over 6km / 3.5km / 2km . Conqueror has 77 / 627 / 0 AA DPS over the same distances. The biggest difference is that Thunderer has 20mm Oerlikons.

Perfect, now give her a useless consumable.


Now poop all over Conqueror's regeneration abilities.

Generally speaking, Thunderer's heal is faster but it heals a lot less than Conqueror's.  It's still better than a standard heal, though.  It's just that Conqueror's is so much better. 

Let's play it all back:

Difference Summary:

  • Thunderer uses 4x2 457mm guns.  Conqueror uses 4x3 419mm guns.
  • Thunderer's AP shells can overmatch up to 31mm of armour.  Conqueror caps out at 29mm.
  • Thunderer's HE shells can damage areas of up to 113mm.  Conqueror's cap out at 104mm.
  • Individually, Thunderer's shells hit harder with 14,900 AP damage and 8,200 HE damage with 63% fire chance.  Compare this to Conqueror's 13,000 AP damage, 7,200 HE damage and 48% fire chance. Thunderer's HE shells also do more module damage with a larger blast size.
  • Thunderer's ballistics are a little more "floaty" than Conqueror's.  Not by much though.
  • Thunderer uses battlecruiser (Alaska / Graf Spee) dispersion patterns with 1.9 sigma. Conqueror with the 419 m guns has American battleship dispersion with 1.8 sigma.
  • Thunderer's AP shells have a 0.033s fuse timer. Conqueror's AP shells have a 0.015s fuse timer.
  • Thunderer has a 26s reload instead of a 30s reload.
  • Thunderer has a 5º/s gun traverse rate instead of 4º/s.
  • Thunderer has 77 / 613 / 49 AA DPS over 6km / 3.5km / 2km . Conqueror has 77 / 627 / 0 AA DPS over the same distances.
  • Thunderer has access to Defensive AA Fire.
  • Thunderer has a 10.4s rudder shift time. Conqueror has 17.3s.
  • Thunderer's Repair Party queues up to 60% of penetration damage. Conqueror's queues up 75%.
  • Thunderer's Repair Party queues up to 33% of citadel damage. Conqueror's queues up 10%.
  • Thunderer's Repair Party heals back up to 16.8%/20.16% of her health over 28s.
  • Conqueror heals up to 40%/48% of her health over 20s.
  • Thunderer starts with 3 Repair Party charges. Conqueror starts with 2.
  • Thunderer's Repair Party has a 90s/60s reset timer. Conqueror's resets in 120s/80s

The Feels

BAM, there you have it:  HMS Thunderer.  Yours for the low-low price of one Smolensk. These changes amount to a significant difference in play-style between Conqueror and Thunderer and this largely comes down to two elements:

  • Durability.
  • Ammunition.

Both ships share the preference to sit back at very long range and to pound enemy into submission.  Where the two differ is that Conqueror has the flexibility to close in and tank for a while grace of her portable dry-dock.  Thunderer is arguably one of the (if not THE) squishiest tier X battleships though Bourgogne will give her a run for her money.  So while Conqueror can take a bunch of abuse for her team and zombie-heal through the worst of it, Thunderer is much more timid and less likely to recover.  This leads to a lot more passive play, often forcing her to kite and play the back line.

I hate playing the back line.

Standard dispersion test: Firing 180 AP shells at a stationary Fuso without camouflage. Out of all of the ships I have so far mapped dispersion for, Thunderer is the most stable gun platform by far. This doesn't mean anything in game play purposes, but for a nerd like me that maps dispersion, she was a godsend. The ship and her gun sights didn't move over 25 minutes of shooting.

Part of the issue with my dislike for this back-line firing is that Thunderer doesn't have the agility she's advertised as having.  This is a pretty big deal.  She's supposed to be able to manage about 4.1º/s rotation.  With her nice, fast rudder shift, she'd still feel big but she'd be responsive.  Right now, her maximum rate of turn is a downright sluggish 3.6º/s.  This makes her kiting feel a bit clunky and certainly limits her ability to react properly.

As for her ammunition:  Thunderer would be an AP-only battleship if her HE wasn't so good.  I don't think I can give her AP shells performance higher praise than that.  For a Royal Navy battleship, with Royal Navy battleship HE to say "I'd rather be shooting AP", you know it has to be good.  Thus, it feels good to vary ammunition choices in Thunderer.  You can spam just one or the other, but it's so much more rewarding to pick and choose as the circumstances dictate.  Once you factor in that excellent accuracy, good gun traverse and fast reload it's just such a wonderful gunnery experience.  Once they get that turning radius fixed, she'll be even faster to bring guns on target.

Thunderer is forced to play the back line, but she's good at playing the back line.  If this is your cup of tea, she's a great ship.

Mouse's Thunder(er)

This whole thing is still kinda surreal.  This isn't "my" ship.  My meaning here is that though I may have inspired the naming convention of this vessel (and I am taking credit for that), the game play that resulted isn't one that I like.  I prefer a bit of brawl to my battleships and Thunderer definitely doesn't have that.  She's still very powerful -- with guns that accurate, fast firing and hard hitting, she'd have to have a hull that was a total lemon to keep that potential in check.  For the record, her hull isn't a total lemon.

I do have to say that Wargaming has succeeded in making a different, interesting vessel compared to Conqueror.  As disappointed as I am that Thunderer can't brawl and tank, this lack does make her stand apart from her sister-ship.  Her gunnery is good enough to make up for the lack.  Thunderer isn't just a Conqueror with 457mm guns -- she's a different playing experience.  For those with an interest in such things, Thunderer revisits one of the earliest incarnations of Conqueror herself, way back from the early summer of 2017 -- namely that of the long-range sniper.  Thankfully not all of those elements preserved into Thunderer (she had Surveillance Radar at one point).

Ask me if it was worth ripping off Conqueror's 457mm guns to make Thunderer and I'm going to say "no".  Not for me at least.  That again speaks more that Thunderer doesn't play in a way that I enjoy rather than any deficit of performance.  Thunderer is good, she's just not for me.

This begs the question:  Would I recommend Thunderer?  Honestly, I'd hold off until Wargaming gets around to fixing Thunderer's agility.  It's not that this is a make or break issue, it's moreover the principle of hard earned in-game currency on a bugged product.


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