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Premium Ship Review: Hill

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The following is a review of the American Destroyer USS Hill, kindly provided to me by Wargaming. To the best of my knowledge, this represents the release version of the ship.  Be aware her statistics may change in the future.

Of the two ships that are new (Benham was released too), Hill has the less remarkable debut. She takes her cue from Nicholas but don't misconstrue: the comparison of the two becomes askew when their differences are run through. With this in mind, let us cut into this review: (enough of the rhymes, whew!)


  • Armed with 5 rapid fire guns with good damage output.
  • Good gun handling and fire arcs on most of her mounts.
  • Heavy torpedo armament of nine torpedo tubes.
  • Good top speed of 37.5 knots.
  • Agile with a good 560m turning radius and a high rate of turn.


  • Only a modest hit point total for a gunship.
  • Bad ballistics on her guns.
  • Horrible forward fire angles on her middle turret.
  • Torpedoes are painfully short ranged at 5.5km with limited arcs per launcher.
  • Enormous surface detection range of 7.38km


Skill Floor:  Simple / Casual/ CHALLENGING / Difficult
Skill Ceiling:  Low / Moderate / HIGH/ Extreme

Hill is a typical mid-tier American destroyer.  While she's easy enough to play when top tier, as soon as she steps out of the kiddy pool, she'll prove to be a challenge for novice players to wrestle.  Her short range torpedoes, the poor ballistics of her guns, her enormous surface detection and modest hit point pool do not lend themselves well to the inexperienced.

Veterans can make good use of her, though.  Map knowledge can help mitigate her torpedo range and allow her to capitalize on island terrain.  Her smoke is excellent and can be used and abused.  Finally, her excellent agility makes her a potent knife fighter.

  • iTQteVr.png– One of, if not the worst at its tier. This is a pronounced weakness.
  • jr7vbn9.png – Middle of the pack at its tier. Not terrible, but not terribly good either.
  • OzA23Hz.png – Has a significant advantage over her tier mates. A solid, competitive performer.
  • G8OWSR4.png – No other ship at its tier does this as well as this ship.
  • Hill is reliant upon her guns to keep her firepower competitive.  While they have great potential damage output, their ballistics really hold them back.  Her torpedoes are too short ranged and too slow to be of much help.
  • Hill's defense and agility have nothing wrong with them -- they just don't top the charts among the other tier V destroyers.  Agility wise, she handles very well, but there are simply other destroyers at this tier which handle better.
  • Anti-aircraft firepower remains a work in progress.  Hill has a solid foundation here and should rank among the better tier V destroyers for AA power.  What that will actually mean remains to be seen.  We'll have to wait until the dust settles.
  • Hill is visible from space.  It's unfortunate.  Her stealth sucks.


Hill stands out in two areas.  First, she lacks access to Defensive AA Fire.  This isn't unusual in of itself, however the consumable is commonplace on upgraded American destroyers, so it's absence is worth noting.  Second, Hill has access to two permanent camouflage patterns.



  • The only consumable of note with Hill is the use of the American Smoke Generator with a longer emission time (30s vs 20s) and duration (115s vs 77s).



Upgrade wise, Hill is pretty standard.

  • Start with Magazine Modification 1If you don't mind detonations you can swap for Main Armaments Modification 1.
  • Propulsion Modification 1 is the only consumable really worth considering in your second slot.
  • Your third slot is a little weird with neither being especially good for a low tier destroyer.  AA Guns Modification 1 gives your AA a bit more teeth against novice CV players.  Alternatively, you can take Aiming Systems Modification 1 though this really is only useful for increasing your torpedo tube traverse.

I've been playing tier VI+ destroyers for a while and I had forgotten how accustomed I was to the acceleration provided by Propulsion Modification 2.  Hill, as a tier V destroyer, can't equip it and this has gotten me killed far too often.  Ugh.  So embarrassing.



Hill has access to two camouflage options, the standard Type 9 and the Master of the Water World.  They are effectively cosmetic swaps of one another, providing the same bonuses.  If Hill doesn't come with the second camouflage, it may be purchased for 2,000 doubloons.

  • +50% experience gains
  • -10% to post-battle costs.
  • -3% to detectability by sea.
  • +4% to enemy dispersion.

The alternative palette swap for her base camouflage can be unlocked through completing the American Cruiser collection. I quite like the alternative palette. It reminds me of Easter.


Main Battery:  Five 127mm/38 guns in single turrets in an A-B-P-X-Y configuration with A-B and X-Y superfiring.  P-turret is mounted between the two funnels (unfortunately).
Torpedoes:  Nine tubes in 3x3 launchers with a wing mount to each side and one mounted on the center line.

American 127mm/38s, We Meet Again



These are the staple of the American destroyer line from tier V+.  They are characterized by the following:

  • Dual Purpose.
  • High rate of fire.
  • Good gun traverse speeds.
  • Low muzzle velocity and horrible ballistics.
  • Poor fire chance per HE shell.

As you climb in tiers, their rate of fire tends to improve and that's about it.  It shouldn't be a surprise then that Hill's rate of fire isn't that impressive compared to some of the later offerings in the tech tree.  Hill dispenses 12.5 rounds per minute (rpm) per gun, giving her a broadside of 62.5rpm before any upgrades.  This is on the slow side, with most American destroyers with 127mm/38s spitting out a minimum of 15rpm per gun at tiers V and VI and jumping up to 18.18rpm by tier VII.  She compensates for this deficit by mounting five guns, at least allowing her to keep pace with Nicholas at her own tier.

The usual caveats with DPM charts apply. This only describes the potential damage output of these guns and it doesn't account for things like how easy it is to bring guns onto a target (traverse, fire angles), how easy it is to hit a target (dispersion, ballistics) or how easy it is to deal damage (penetration). But you're all smart enough to know that, right? This is sorted by HE shells for the simple reason that they get spat out more often. Gremyashchy has the most useful AP shells at this tier and is the most likely to do something effective with them.  Hill just barely keeps ahead of Nicholas in terms of potential damage output but only if she can bring all of her guns to bear.  Thankfully many of the low tier destroyers have gun angle issues, so it's a pretty close contest.

To make the best use of Hill's guns, she generally has to get close.  The ballistic arcs on the 127mm/38s is notoriously bad, making attacking ships at anything beyond stupidly-close ranges a challenge.  The one benefit to this is that she's quite capable of lobbing shells over intervening terrain (or team mates) without issue, so she's quite apt at taking advantage of island cover.  Still, when it comes to engaging enemy destroyers, she's going to need to grab them by their belt buckle which isn't always comfortable.

For a ship reliant upon knife fighting to secure kills, at least her gun traverse is fast enough to keep up no matter how she wiggles or dodges (and she's good at the wiggles).  On the whole, Hill's guns are pretty darned good, second only to Gremyashchy's guns for overall performance, but that's mostly owing to Gremyashchy's AP shells being so good.

Hill's forward fire angles are pretty good except for her P-turret. This shouldn't really surprise anyone given that the darned thing is sandwiched between her two funnels. As a consequence, if Hill wants to top the DPM charts at tier V, she has to expose her full broadside in order to do it. She has much better fire angles to the rear which makes for better kiting performance. Keep this in mind when parking in smoke. It's better to turn away from your opponent and angle your butt towards them. Not only will you have an easier time bringing all five guns to bear, you can also prep for a quick getaway.

Short Range Torpeedus

I'm spotted here as I drop my torpedoes at this König. Anyone taking bets on if he attempted to dodge?

Low tier American torpedoes suck.  There.  I've said it.  They're short ranged, slow and they don't hit very hard.  The one advantage they do have is that American destroyers have a lot of them.  Hill doesn't quite pack as many, with only nine compared to Wickes, Clemson's and Nicholas' twelve launchers. 

One of the (additional) issues I had with Hill's torpedoes was the limited arcs.  They can't aim at anything less than 50º off her bow and her center-line launcher can barely reach anything to her rear.  Like with her P-turret on her guns, you've got to give up a lot of broadside to be able to put your swimmers into the water.  Her fish are at least more versatile than low-tier Soviet torpedoes but that's not saying much.

If you want to make use of Hill's fish, you're going to have to rely on close range ambushes or suicide-torping a target at point blank range.  Just be aware that some of the higher tiered ships will have enough hit points to tank taking repeated hits and make you look like an idiot when your tubes are empty.  You're not going to get much use out of them in higher tiered matches which makes her all the more reliant on her guns.


I dare say that Hill is almost under-armed.  Bad fire angles keep her from being able to use all five her guns reliably.  Her torpedoes are almost no help outside of top-tier matches.  For a tier V boat, I guess that's good enough but this ship isn't winning any prizes.

Evaluation: jr7vbn9.png
What it would have needed to be OzA23Hz.pngBetter fish or a higher rate of fire on her guns.  It shouldn't be any surprise that Gremyashchy tops the charts here with the Kamikaze-sisters hot on her heels.


Hit Points:  12,100hp
Minimum Bow & Deck Armour: 10mm

Hill has two huge flaws.  The biggest is definitely her surface detection.  The second is her modest hit point total.  For a gunship, Hill's hit points are kinda meh.  While Survivability Expert is all but mandatory for destroyers, it's doubly so in Hill's case.  She's too fat to hide and she's going to have to trade hit points in most encounters in order to deal damage (barring island humping and hiding in smoke).  I mean, her hit point total isn't terrible, but it's uninspiring for a gunship, barely scraping together 12k to her name.

  • 13,100 hp - Nicholas, Gremyashchy
  • 12,700 hp - Podvoisky, Okhotnik
  • 12,500 hp - Jianwei
  • 12,100 hp - Hill
  • 11,300 hp - Mutsuki, T-22
  • 11,200 hp - Acasta
  • 11,100 hp - Fujin, Kamikaze R, Kamikaze
  • 10,900 hp - Minekaze

A thousand extra hit points here could have easily changed Hill from a decent ship to an excellent one.

Evaluation: jr7vbn9.png
What it would have needed to be OzA23Hz.pngA thousand more hit points would do it.


Top Speed: 37.5 knots
Turning Radius: 560m
Rudder Shift Time: 3.1s
4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 8.6º/s

One of the best things about Hill is that she has a low-tier lolibote's agility.  She's got that smol lolibote wiggle in her tush with a rate of turn that's oh-so tight...! ♥

Azur Lane's Ark Royal was drawn by HM & Tomodachi and misappropriated for this review.

Evaluation: jr7vbn9.png
What it would have needed to be OzA23Hz.pngWhile Hill does have that smol-bote sway, most of the other tier V destroyers have it too.  Minekaze is the princess of this tier when it comes to agility and Hill is way down the list.  This just kinda illustrates the flaw in a ranking system.  Hill may not be the best, or even the close to the best in this category, but she still boasts some amazing handling.  To top Minekaze she'd need more speed while preserving all of her other characteristics.

Anti-Aircraft Defense

Long Ranged (5.8km-1.8km):  190 damage every 4.5 seconds and 1 explosion at 560 damage.
Short Ranged (1.8km to 0.1km):  50 damage every 1.96 seconds.

Look, AA defense and aircraft survivability is going to be all over the map between now ( and the next few patches (0.8.7 at least).  There's not much point in reviewing a ship's given AA power at the moment.  Don't buy a ship based on its AA power for the foreseeable future.

Ugh, six more weeks of volatility.

To the tune of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck", in memory of destroyer game play from patches 0.8.0 to 0.8.4.  The pendulum has swung hard in favour of AA power in 0.8.5.  Hill's AA defense is very comfortable against tier IV CVs at the moment, but will it last?

Evaluation: OzA23Hz.png
What it would have needed to be G8OWSR4.png:  Access to Defensive AA Fire.  Of course this is all irrelevant anyway given how volatile AA power continues to be.  Hill's in a good spot right now.  We'll see if that continues.


Base Surface Detection: 7.38km
Air Detection Range: 2.85km
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 6.44km
Detection Range when Firing in Smoke: 2.75km
Main Battery Firing Range:  11.35km (13.62km with Advanced Fire Training)

Let's look at some numbers.  I've listed all of the destroyers that Hill can face, ranking them by their upgraded surface detection.  I've applied camouflage (3% surface detection reduction) and the Concealment Expert (10% surface detection reduction) to all of these ships and Concealment Modification 1 (a further 10% surface detection reduction) on Z-39 cuz she's hella balans.  Now, it's important to keep in mind that the lower tiered destroyers -- specifically those at tiers IV and V (and even some VIs) might not be running with full concealment builds so take these numbers with a pinch of salt.

Dangerous gunship opponents which are stealthier than Hill are highlighted in red.  Those dangerous gunships she can out-spot are highlighted in green.

When Hill is Top Tier (Tier IV & V opponents)

  • 5.34km - Isokaze
  • 5.41km - Minekaze, Mutsuki, Fujin, Kamikaze R, Kamikaze
  • 5.50km - V-170
  • 5.66km - Shenyang, Wakeful, Okhotnik
  • 5.69km - T-22
  • 5.81km - Nicholas
  • 5.97km - Acasta, Jianwei
  • 6.11km - Gremyashchy
  • 6.13km - Clemson
  • 6.44kmHILL
  • 6.76km - Podvoisky 

Hill doesn't come out looking too good when she's top tier, but that's okay.  She can effectively outgun most of her opponents here with only the American and Soviet destroyers being any real threat to her in a gun duel.  Engaging torpedo destroyers successfully isn't too much of a problem here because the maps are so claustrophobic that you can abuse map borders and islands to cage them in.  Still, Hill wins no prizes here.

When Hill is "Mid" Tier (Tier V & VI opponents)

One of the other possible matchmaking oddities for tier V is that they can end up just facing opponents one tier higher with nothing beneath them.   This results in the following list of opponents:

  • 5.41km - Minekaze, Mutsuki, Fujin, Kamikaze R, Kamikaze
  • 5.66km - Okhotnik
  • 5.69km - T-22
  • 5.81km - Nicholas, Hatsuharu
  • 5.97km - Acasta, Jianwei, Gallant
  • 6.11km - Gremyashchy
  • 6.13km - Fubuki, Shinonome, Gnevny, T-61, Fushun
  • 6.29km - Monaghan, Anshan
  • 6.44km HILL 
  • 6.60km - Farragit. Ernst Gaede
  • 6.76km - Podvoisky, Aigle

There's a lot more dangerous opponents now, but Hill thankfully out-spots many of the new ones including the tier VI ships Aigle, Farragut and Gaede.   Still, the Soviet and Pan Asian additions are worth minding.

When Hill is Bottom Tier (Tier V, VI and VII opponents)

Big surprise -- there's a lot of scary opponents two tiers higher.

  • 5.41km - Minekaze, Mutsuki, Fujin, Kamikaze R, Kamikaze
  • 5.66km - Okhotnik
  • 5.67km - Haida
  • 5.69km - T-22
  • 5.81km - Nicholas, Hatsuharu, Shiratsuyu
  • 5.97km - Acasta, Jianwei, Gallant
  • 6.08km - Z-39
  • 6.11km - Gremyashchy
  • 6.13km - Fubuki, Shinonome, Gnevny, T-61, Fushun, Gadjah Mada
  • 6.29km - Monaghan, Anshan, Jervis
  • 6.44km HILL , Akatsuki
  • 6.60km - Farragut, Ernst Gaede, Sims, Leningrad
  • 6.67km - Mahan
  • 6.76km - Podvoisky, Aigle, Leberecht Maass, Blyskawica

As you can clearly see, Hill's concealment doesn't do it any favours.  Thankfully, her stealth is JUST good enough to keep her nose clean in higher tiered matches, though she barely has any reaction time between spotting some of those dangerous gunship opponents before being detected in turn.  To be comfortable, I'd generally want a minimum of 250m worth of difference between the detection ranges of two ships to allow players time enough to make a decision whether to engage or begin retreating.  This is not enough time to prevent being spotted in the first place (a 30 knot ship covers 250m in 3 seconds) but it can give you enough of a head start to make a decision.

Hill is a big girl with all of the challenges that brings.  This is, in my opinion, what really holds her back from being a "good" ship.  She doesn't have the stealth to sneak up on much and her guns are reliant upon her closing the distance (to say nothing of her torpedoes).  Worse, the extra range on her guns makes her visible from further out.  This range is mostly useless given the horrible ballistics on her guns.  This is probably her biggest weak point overall.

Evaluation: iTQteVr.png
What it would have needed to be jr7vbn9.png
Hill's stealth rating is pretty terrible.  It could be worse, but let's not go there.

King of the Hill

Hill accepts a standard American destroyer captain build and shouldn't give anyone any issues with skill compatibility.  Your first 10 skill points should look like this:

  • Start with Priority Target.
  • Next take Last Stand.  I really hope Wargaming does something about this skill.  It's mandatory on all destroyers.
  • Survivability Expert is next at tier 3.  This will add another 1,750hp to your total which can give you the edge over the other low-tier gunships that haven't taken this.
  • Concealment Expert rounds things off.

As you double back through the line, take skills which emphasize her gunnery.  Basic Fire Training is a great choice.  Superintendent is nice too because it gives you another charge of smoke that you can use to camp out and spray down larger ships without being seen (just watch out for fish).  Adrenaline Rush is always worth the points. 

Over the Hill

To appreciate Hill you need to take a close look at Nicholas, the tier V American tech-tree destroyer. If you listen to the peanut-gallery, they'll tell you the two of them are very close. They're technically correct (the best kind of correct) despite the two ships having an enormous laundry-list of differences. While Hill and Nicholas share the same guns (127mm/38s) and torpedoes (Mark 11s) the soft-stats of the ships differ wildly. But don't you fret: this doesn't affect performance much. Let's get into the list:

Where Hill is Better than Nicholas:

  • + Hill has 5 guns to Nicholas' 4.
  • + Hill has an 11.3km range to Nicholas' 10.9km.
  • + Hill has better main battery firing angles than Nicholas.
  • + Hill has better long-range AA firepower.
  • + Hill has a top speed of 37.5kts to Nicholas' 37kts.
  • + Hill has a 560m turning radius to Nicholas' 600m radius.
  • + Hill turns at 8.6º/s, Nicholas turns at 7.9º/s.
  • + Hill has premium economy, Nicholas does not.
  • + Hill has TWO permanent camouflage options, Nicholas doesn't have access to any.

Where Hill is Worse than Nicholas:

  • - Hill has 12,100hp to Nicholas' 13,100hp.
  • - Hill's hull armour is no thicker than 10mm, Nicholas has 13mm amidship decks and a 15mm hull.
  • - Hill reloads in 4.7s, Nicholas in 4.0s.
  • - Hill has three triple torpedo launchers, Nicholas has four.
  • - Hill has worse torpedo fire angles than Nicholas.
  • - Hill has worse short-range AA firepower.
  • - Hill has has a larger surface detection of 7.38km to Nicholas' 6.66km
  • - Hill has a larger aerial detection of 2.85km to Nicholas' 2.45km.
  • - Hill is visible in smoke from 2.75km compared to Nicholas' 2.49km.
  • - Nicholas can swap her Engine Boost for Defensive AA Fire.

Now if you take a look at that list, you're probably going: "Hey, Mouse, those two ships aren't alike at all."  Well, duh, no kidding.  When you get into the nitty-gritty, it becomes a stretch to say that Hill shares much in common with Nicholas without a huge number of big ol' fat buts attached. This said, only a big ol' fat butt would try and lord over the differences like they really amounted to much. Boil it all down and the differences between the two comes to this: Nicholas is more survivable, being tougher and more stealthy. Hill is more agile. Overall, they're pretty damn close. They're both American destroyers sharing the same weapons, after all.

Let's describe Hill on her own merits: Hill has good guns, good agility but terrible torpedoes and horrible concealment. Without a huge slug of hit points, it would be a stretch to call her "good". Her design is perfectly adequate when she's top tier, especially in the claustrophobic maps she finds herself in during those matches. She's especially effective at running down other destroyers with her rapid fire guns and using her agility to dodge attempts to torpedo her. However, Hill does not up-tier well at all. She's too fat. She's too fragile. She's too short ranged to hit hard enough to keep up with stronger opponents.

This summation fits Nicholas to a T which is probably why the two destroyers are viewed so similarly. Of the two, I'd argue that Nicholas is the better boat, if only for the extra health and slightly better concealment. However, the reality is that Hill will perform better than Nicholas as a whole due her being a premium ship. You can put your tin foil hats away -- Hill's greatest strength is that she's likely to have a high skill-point captain commanding her. Nicholas, on the other hand, is hardly the darling of the American destroyer line and unlikely to have a commander exceeding 10 skill points at the helm. While there may be a few veterans about holding onto a Nicholas they've invested heavily into, she's overshadowed by Clemson and Farragut. Thus, Hill is likely to appear to be the better boat once stat-tracking gets some numbers to play with, even if Nicholas is objectively the better ship when you analyze her systems.

So, yeah. Hill's alright -- I don't like her, but she's alright.  She's a decent gunship destroyer when top-tier, for example. However, we have to pretend that Nicholas doesn't exist to reach that assessment.  I'd much rather have one of the Kamikaze-sisters, Gremyashchy or Okhotnik if it came down to choosing a tier V premium and I'd still take Nicholas over Hill in a heartbeat.  She doesn't really have a "point" compared to Nicholas other than simply offering more of the same in premium form. The huge stack of minor differences between her and her tech tree counterpart make her just different enough to be just that -- different for difference's sake.  None of the tier V tech-tree destroyers are particularly fun to play, in my opinion, so take my saltiness over Hill with a pinch of ... well, even more salt.

If you like Nicholas and want a mid-tier American trainer, then Hill is great news for you.  Otherwise, Hill isn't worth playing, let alone paying for.

Would I Recommend?

There's a couple of ways of getting Hill.  She was given away provided players completed a series of missions during patch 0.8.5.  Alternatively you could just throw money at Wargaming if this was too much work.

For PVE Battles?

No.  Gunship destroyers, especially ones with short ranged fish, aren't really a good choice for PVE battles.

For Random Battle Grinding?

No.  There are better trainers and credit farmers out there for the US Destroyer line (Kidd comes to mind).

For Competitive Gaming?

Hells no.  Take Nicholas instead if you're going to take a tier V American destroyer.  There are much MUCH better choices at tier V for something like Ranked Sprint.

For Collectors?

No.  Hill didn't exist in steel.  The only real reason to want to collect her is that she had the potential of being free.

For her Fun-Factor?

No. I didn't enjoy playing Hill at all.

What’s the Final Verdict?

How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage – Meh – Gud – Overpowered?

  • GARBAGE– I hate it!
  • Mehbote – An average ship.  Probably forgettable.
  • Gudbote – The best thing ever.  Totally not overpowered because I like padding my stats in it.
  • OVERPOWERED – I hate playing against it!

And WG said that players don't care about cosmetics.  HA.

Art Credits

  • The Mouse Paper-doll was designed and drawn by Chobittsu (and is super fun to play with).
  • Ark Royal was drawn by HM & Tomodachi.

In Closing

I was originally going to glue this together with Benham and also talk about the loot boxes all in a single article.  Well, that quickly bloated to a monstrosity that would make my Haida review look brief, so I've elected to cut it up.  Benham will be the next ship reviewed and it should be out within the next week.

For those who can't wait that long:  Benham is good.  She's fun, even, if you like torpedo destroyers.  She reminds me vaguely Harekaze -- a good mix of gunnery and torpedoes.  I'm not sure she's worth busting your butt over on the grind, but there it is. 

Thank you all for reading.

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