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Premium Ship Review: Varyag

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The following is a review of Varyag, a ship kindly provided to me by Wargaming. This may (or may not) be the release version of the vessel and these stats are current as of April 13th, 2018.
These stats may change before release.

We can hope.

Thotbote:  All looks.  No substance.


Quick Summary:  Oleg but worse.
Cost:  It had better not cost anything.
Patch & Date Written:  0.7.3 - April 8th to 11th, 2018.
  • It's free.
  • You can sell it for a port slot.
  • Muh history.


  • Remember Oleg?
  • This is worse than Oleg.

Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult
Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / Extreme 
Varyag is a protected cruiser.  She has just slightly more complex than the tier I ships with which we start the game in that she can mount some upgrades.  Forget everything you know about armour angling, ammunition choices and consumable management.  It's not needed here.

Expert players will laugh.  The only skilled play here is clever use of terrain to lob shells and keep yourself safe.  However, the maps are too claustrophobic to do anything but delay the inevitable.  Varyag is too undergunned to be competitive and even playing your best, you will be severely disadvantaged.
5QpnRIW.png  LA7Pwzh.png  6dtMBan.png  tTUfW7R.png  yBtH30h.png
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.
"Bad or worse" describes Varyag in just about every category.
  • There are some ships with some pretty iTQteVr.png firepower at tier III, but Varyag has the combination of poor guns and no torpedoes.
  • Her best quality is her jr7vbn9.png agility.  She's fast for a protected cruiser, though she can't come close to the destroyer leaders like Tenryu.
  • In her defense, half of the tier III cruisers have iTQteVr.png (read: non-existent) anti-aircraft firepower.

Not much to go over here.

  Consumables:  Varyag has the one consumable.
  •  kpn3pAh.png Her Damage Control Party is standard for a cruiser.
  Upgrades:  Two slots, standard cruiser options.
  • Wows_icon_modernization_PCM030_MainWeapon_Mod_I.png  In your first slot, take Main Armaments Modification 1.
  • Wows_icon_modernization_PCM020_DamageControl_Mod_I.png  or Wows_icon_modernization_PCM022_SteeringGear_Mod_I.png  Follow this up with Damage Control Modification 1 in your second slot.  Alternatively, you can take Steering Gears Modification 1, as the amount of HE fire thrown about at low tiers all but guarantees you're going to get your rudder shot out at some point.   You can skip on this if you take Last Stand, though.

Camouflage:  Type 9, Standard.

  •  PBEC503_Campbeltown.png  This provides a 10% reduction in service costs, a 50% bonus to your experience gains, a 3% reduction in surface detection and a 4% reduction in enemy accuracy.
 Main Battery:  Twelve 152mm rifles with a maximum of a six-gun broadside.  Four mounted between the bow and stern on the deck with decent fire arcs.  Eight mounted in casemates along the ship's flanks, with four to port and four to starboard. 
Secondary Battery:  Twelve 75mm rifles mounted between the deck and casemates with six to each side.
Varyag's AP shell penetration is held back by three factors.  First, they have a low muzzle velocity.  Second, they have enormous amounts of air drag which slows down their flight over distance, greatly reducing the energy on impact.  Third, their Krupp rating is terrible, further reducing their penetration power.  This is a cruiser you really want to spam HE on and forget that her AP shells even exist for the most part.  This leaves her with less than 70mm of penetration at 5.0km and around 25mm at 10km.  This isn't even effective against destroyers as they still require 25mm of steel to fuse properly.
Here's what you need to know:  Varyag uses the same 152mm naval rifles found on stock-Bogatyr, as well as the premiums Oleg, Aurora, and Diana.  Though the shell performance on these guns is identical between these four ships, their rate of fire differs as does the number of guns they can put on target.  Here's the breakdown of the number of guns they can fire at once and their respective reload times:
PnV6PuJ.png b1rVn5n.pnguQ4UY8V.png
Russian cruisers at tier III (and Diana at tier II) which make use of the 152mm/45 armament. Varyag couples the low gun count of Diana with Bogatyr's and Oleg's longer reload.

Development Update, April 17th, 2018

Varyag had her reload time buffed after this review was published.  While this is an improvement, it's not a significant one.  Varyag remains the worst performing cruiser at her tier in regards to firepower.

Mouse out!

There's such a pronounced disparity in the amount of firepower the tier III ships can put out, it has to be a joke.  I had to reconfirm several times that Varyag was indeed a tier III cruiser.  She scarcely out performs Diana at tier II and only by the smallest margins.  It gets even more frightening when you consider they're up against upgraded 130mm Bogatyr (instead of the 152mm listed above) and St.Louis.  The gap just gets comical with even Oleg looking good by comparison which is saying something.
There's not much more you need to know about Varyag's firepower beyond that, but I'll try and summarize the rest quickly.
  • The AP performance of these  low-tier, Russo-Soviet 152mm guns is a bad joke with the worst penetration over range at their tier.  Don't bother.
  • They have horrible muzzle velocity and very long shell flight times.
  • Her HE shells are reasonably good fire starters which about their only redeemable quality of her rifles.  Unfortunately with only a six gun broadside, Varyag is going to be the worst of the Russian bunch at her tier.
  • While stock, Varyag's surface detection range is the exact same range as her guns.  You can't silence your guns and hide in this boat. 
  • She has a lot of secondaries, but their small caliber, low penetration and pathetic range of 2.5km keeps them from being useful.

Summary:  She should have been tier II based on her guns alone.  Its a mistake to underestimate her firepower -- she can still stack damage and it's not impossible to have good games with her, but you're really playing a tier III ship with tier II guns.

Evaluation: iTQteVr.png
What it would have needed to be jr7vbn9.pngA (much) faster rate of fire, for starters.  That lacking, drop her down to tier II.

Hit Points: 22,400hp
Maximum Citadel Protection: 16mm belt + 76mm angled citadel wall
Minimum Extremities & Deck Armour: 6mm on her bow and stern.  16mm on her amidships deck.
This graph illustrates just why Varyag cannot win in a toe to toe match with other protected cruisers.  It would take Varyag a full minute of 100% accuracy to strip off just half of St.Louis' hit points with saturated HE strikes (0.165x shell damage).  In return, St.Louis could nearly sink Varyag in the same time frame from 100% health.  For those that like math, this means that a St.Louis is functionally worth almost two Varyag cruisers in terms of combined damage output and absorption.  Scary, no?
Protected cruisers aren't very complicated as far as their armour protection goes.  Varyag's thickest armour is a 152mm conning tower as a part of her superstructure.  Incoming shells need only contend with between 6mm and 16mm worth of steel to land penetration damage.  Her citadel is reasonably protected.  Between being fully enclosed and mostly submerged and some weird geometry to help foil incoming shells, she's completely immune to HE citadel hits and it's rare for AP to score the same.  In practice, tier II through IV matches usually devolve into slug fests of trading HE fire and Varyag will take damage from almost everything thrown at her. 

Do pay special attention to module damage, however.  Her powder magazines lie outside of her citadel (though thankfully they are fully submerged).  In addition, she is very prone to taking engine and steering gear critical damage from large caliber HE shells that are so often thrown about in low tier matches by battleships.  Investing in Last Stand for a dedicated commander wouldn't be remiss.
Varyag's hit point total of 22,400hp doesn't look too bad on the surface ... at least until you remember she can't win and damage-per-minute races with her main battery.  Then her hit point pool starts looking rather shallow.  She feels squishy -- far more so than her armour profile or hit point total should.  She can't kill aggressors fast enough and her own health melts under fire.

Evaluation: jr7vbn9.png
What it would have needed to be OzA23Hz.png:  A massive slug of hit points to make up for her terrible DPM.  I'm thinking around 30,000+.  Otherwise, drop her down to tier II.
Nothing special here.  This is a very slightly improved protection scheme over Bogatyr and Oleg though nothing to get excited about.  It's just a difference of a couple of millimeters on the citadel roof, turtleback and base of the citadel.

Top Speed: 25.0 knots
Turning Radius: 450m
Rudder Shift Time: 6.6s
Maximum Rate of Turn: 6.6º/s

This is Varyag's best quality and yet it still only merits a  jr7vbn9.png evaluation.  For a protected cruiser, she's greased lightning.  If she had her own anime, she'd be pooping out speed lines left right and center.  Of course, in the game of one-upmanship that is animated serials, all of her awesome speed would avail her not when faced with the likes of Caledon (29 knots), Friant (30 knots) and Tenryu (32.5 knots).  So even this great aspect is (at best) mediocre.  The best that could be said about her is that she can use this speed to disengage from most enemy battleships within her matchmaking spread.  She can even dictate the distance at which she fights some of those tougher protected cruisers out there.  It's too bad there's really not many places to hide on those small low-tier maps.
Oh well, at least she handles okay.  She's super tight when she wiggles, too. 
What you will find annoying is her habit of out turning her turrets.  They rotate at a maximum of 6.0º/s while Varyag herself can twirl at 6.6º/s, necessitating taking Expert Marksman in order to ensure your guns stay fixed on your target while under manoeuvres.  Even then, they'll only just manage to do so.  Ugh.  Could be worse, I guess.  It could be Oleg.

Evaluation: jr7vbn9.png
What it would have needed to be OzA23Hz.png:  Another two or three knots of speed.  Combined with her tight turning circle, this could have made her feel like a slow destroyer in terms of her handling.
Anti-Aircraft Defense

Evaluation: iTQteVr.png
What it would have needed to be jr7vbn9.pngBoris in the crow's nest with a megaphone shouting insults at airplanes.  If you want to bump that up to OzA23Hz.png, give him a service revolver.  It doesn't take much to get out of the dregs with AA firepower at tier III.
Surface Detection Range: 10.98km
Air Detection Range:  5.37km
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 9.37km
Concealment when Firing in Smoke: 5.04km
Main Battery Firing Range:  10.98km
 So she's not Friant.  While stock, Varyag boasts a 360m advantage on surface detection over the French tier III cruiser, yet I give Varyag a worse rating between the two.  The reason is simple:  weapon range.  Friant can disengage from an opponent by silencing her guns.  Varyag cannot do this.  If she's in gun range, she's spotted.  This is terrible.  Granted, with Concealment Expert she can partially amend this disparity but even still, she's only ever getting a 1.6km window in to hide within. 

Evaluation: iTQteVr.png
What it would have needed to be jr7vbn9.pngRadar.  No, I'm serious.  This is the only way I could conceivably consider Varyag to redeem herself at this point.  Give her freakin' radar.  Then at least people might say, "Oh, well at least she's good for something."
 Go to Gulag.  Go Directly to Gulag.
 At least it could be said that Varyag makes a decent trainer.  She's so terrible that no combination of commander skills is going to really rescue her from her shoddy performance.  So, feel free to go ahead and preemptively train a Soviet Aircraft Carrier commander with Varyag -- you could get him up to 19 unrelated skill points and feel very little difference compared to a similarly experienced commander specialized in cruiser game play.
If you're a nutter and intending to build a dedicated Varyag commander, it should look like this:
  • Take Priority Target first.  This will let you know when you're about to die.  You can alternatively take Preventative Maintenance to help keep your guns, engines and rudder from being knocked out.
  • Take Expert Marksman next.  This will keep your guns from slipping off target while under manoeuvres.
  • Next up, you're taking Demolition Expert for a slight boost in your fire chance.
  • And finally, you're grabbing Concealment Expert to boost your survivability.

After you have these core skills down, you'll be doubling back through the tech tree.

  • At tier 2, you'll want to take Adrenaline Rush to increase your rate of fire while damaged.  This will never salvage the DPM disparity between Varyag and the other protected cruisers she faces, but it can help.  As an alternative, you may take Last Stand, which will have more value to you if you don't have Preventative Maintenance as a skill or Steering Gear Modification 1 as an upgrade.  However, Adrenaline Rush should be considered optimal.
  • Then we're jumping down to tier 4 to take Advanced Fire Training.  This will increase the range of your secondaries from 2.5km up to 3.0km.
  • And finally, we're taking Basic Fire Training to boost your secondary rate of fire from 15 rounds per minute to 16.5 round per minute.

Congratulations, you now have the perfect commander for a 130mm Bogatyr which is a much better boat (though for Bogatyr, you'd want to take Advanced Fire Training before Concealment Expert and Basic Fire Training before Demolition Expert).

Final Evaluation
 Man, reviewing low tier ships is easy.
Mouse's Summary:
  • It's Oleg, but worse.
  • And if you remember, Oleg is a stock Bogatyr but worse.
  • I don't have a rating lower than "Garbage" but I would use it here.

Varyag is K2xl39f.png.  She's distinct from Aurora, Diana, and Oleg by just how much suck is crammed into one boat.

This isn't the first time we've seen a lower tiered armament glued onto a higher tiered ship.  Usually, however, the hull has to be super great to counterbalance the lackluster performance of the weapons.  HMS Hood is a good example -- she has ridiculous amounts of hit points, decent armour and great speed while being limited to the same guns as Queen Elizabeth a tier lower.  Varyag doesn't do this.  Her hull is very obviously that of a tier III protected cruiser but her guns belong at tier II. 
With great ships like Tenryu, Bogatyr and St.Louis at tier III, she doesn't have a hope in Hell of competing.  However, I posit that she's not meant to.
There is a glut of low tier, Soviet premium cruisers.  We have Aurora, Oleg, Murmansk, Krasny Krym and two versions of Diana.  There's no need for another tier III cruiser to be tossed into the mix -- especially one that doesn't offer anything in terms of new and novel game play.  It is, however, the perfect environment to throw out a freebie.  Varyag, as a reward ship, isn't meant to compete with other premiums.  This isn't like Missouri where if you acquire her, you're now set for life where credit earning is concerned.  She's not a universal trainer in the same way Atago is for Japanese heavy cruisers or how Scharnhorst sets you up for German battleships.  Varyag is a sub par offering, scarcely worth the time and energy to collect her, even as a port decoration.  If you want the real goods, Wargaming is asking that you pay for them or play long term to unlock things like Flint, Nelson or Shinonome.
This doesn't absolve Varyag in my eyes.  She's still a trashbote, but she's at least a free trashbote.  I would be incensed if they were asking money for this.
Would I Recommend?
So here's what they're asking you to do to earn Varyag.  You can accomplish this in any game mode except Clan Battles with tier V ships or higher.  These are missions done in stages, gated over time.
  1.  Win 10 battles.
  2. Earn 2M credits over any number of battles.
  3. Earn 1,000 ribbons over any number of battles.
  4. Win 5 battles.
  5. Deal 65,000 damage in a single battle that you win.
  6. Earn 20,000 experience over any number of battles.
  7. Sink 2 enemy ships in any battle that you win.

At the same time, you can simply buy her if you do not have the time to be bothered with any of this.  Overall, the demands aren't bad and you could probably accomplish most of these without really trying.  I cannot stress enough that this is a trashbote, though, and not worth the quid.

PVE Battles
  • How well does the ship maintain profitability in Co-Op modes and how does she fare against bots?
Yeah, she can work alright in PVE, mostly because bots are dumb.
  • Random Battle Grinding:
    This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements.
Just go play Bogatyr.  If you want a low-tier trainer for the Soviets, play Diana or Aurora instead.
  • For Competitive Gaming:
    Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding.
This isn't a thing that is done in this ship.
  • For Collectors:
    If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you.

Yes, she makes a pretty port queen.  Varyag's historical claim to fame is fighting in the Russo-Japanese war where she distinguished herself in a heroic (but ultimately doomed) breakout action.  She was sunk and then raised.  She then had her refurbished carcass swap hands from Japan back to Imperial Russia then to Britain and finally to Germany where she was sold for scrap.

Honestly, she deserves better.

  • For Fun Factor:
    Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play?
Very no on toast.  Go play a good ship instead.
  • What's the Final Verdict?
    How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage - Meh - Gud - Overpowered?
GARBAGE - The boat is unbalanced, not fun to play and weak. The ship desperately needs some buffs or some quality of life changes.
Mehbote - An average ship. Has strengths and weaknesses. Doesn't need buffs to be viable however she's not going to be considered optimal.
Gudbote - A powerful ship, often one of the best ships at a given role within its tier. Usually considered optimal for a given task.
OVERPOWERED - The boat is unbalanced and powerful. Typically she's either horrible to play against or she redefines the meta entirely. 

In Closing
As ever, I would like to thank @Lert for his assistance in putting together this review.  He slaves away proof reading and twirling ships when I ask him and I can't offer enough thanks for his invaluable help.  I would also like to thank @Pigeon_of_War for his assistance with getting access to this ship in a timely fashion to put this review together.  This review is brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.  Their support helps bring you reviews just like this, allowing me to spend more time twirling ships, mapping shell falls and writing about the game.

This review was a lot of fun to write for, even if the ship itself was a steaming turd.  Low tier ships are a lot easier to review -- they're less involved and the depth in which I feel I have to go can be somewhat lessened.  This allows me a little more time to have fun with some creative elements -- much of this got dumped into spiffing up my upcoming review on Asashio, which I admit I am spending way too much time on.  This isn't to say that I didn't indulge in a little creative time wasting here.  Here's a fun little example of where my mind goes while writing.  Little side projects like this keep me sane.


A list of sites, programs and people I rely upon to create my reviews.


For Graphics:

Programs Used:

  • World of Warships (duh)
  • Notepad (seriously)
  • MS Paint (also, seriously)
  • iPhone Stopwatch App (yep)


  • Mouse toils away on an old i7-2600K 3.40GHz computer with 16GB RAM and an Nvidia 560Ti GPU running a 64bit OS.
  • Thanks 2
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