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Premium Ship Review: Ashitaka

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The following is a review of Ashitaka, a ship kindly provided to me by Wargaming. This is the release version of the vessel and these stats are current as of November 30th, 2017
No butt jokes here..
Quick Summary:  A battlecruiser with great speed, amazing broadside firepower but garbage AA values, poor armour protection and some serious shell penetration issues. 
Cost:  Bundles begin at $41.99 including a port slot.
Patch and Date Written:, November 30th, 2017
Closest in-Game Contemporary
Amagi, tier VIII Japanese Battleship
Degree of Similarity: Clone / Sister-Ship / Related Class / Similar Role / Unique

Back in January of 2017, Amagi and Nagato received a significant quality of life buff.  Their stock hull was being removed from the game.  Now they would only need to research a single hull to upgrade their vessel.  These ships were horrible to grind while stock -- not only did they have poor anti-aircraft armaments and long rudder shift times like other stock vessels, they were also forced to use guns with worse penetration values.

Some players lamented that it was a shame to lose the distinct models.  Indeed, their designs were quite recognizable.  Wargaming made plans to return these ships as premiums, with Mutsu representing a modified A-Hull Nagato and Ashitaka representing Amagi.  In both cases, these ships are downtiered in an attempt to balance their poor characteristics compared to their sister ships. 

Short of the gun layout and handling, Ashitaka is night and day different from Amagi in terms of overall performance.  They may be related, but they're very different craft.  Liking one will not guarantee you like the other.

  • Heaviest main battery broadside firepower at her tier.
  • 410mm guns are capable of overmatching the bows of any ship tier VII or lower.
  • Fast, with a top speed of 30 knots
  • Reasonably good rate of turn at 4.0º/s
  • Straight forward game play -- no gimmicks, just gunnery.
  • Option of purchasing the Makoto Kobayashi camouflage with its improved economic bonuses.

  • Weak belt armour, with only 254mm of protection.
  • Long (31.0s) reload on her main battery guns.
  • Poor penetration values on her AP shells.
  • Large turning circle of 870m.
  • What anti-aircraft firepower?
  • Enormous surface detection range.

Wargaming has succeeded in seriously pissing me off.  I'm going to try and remain objective here, but if a little more snark comes through this review than intended, you'll have to forgive me.  This review is being put together under exceedingly short notice.  A special thanks to KJar, Lert, Pigeon_of_War and the Wiki-staff for keeping me sane through this crunch time. 

Depending upon the bundle purchased, Ashitaka comes with two different camouflage patterns.  This mirrors the release of Battleship Kii  in September of 2017.  Otherwise, there are no surprises here.
  • Damage Control Party
  • Repair Party

Module Upgrades: Four slots, standard non-American battleship options.
Premium Camouflage: 
  • Ashitaka's default camouflage is the standard Type 10.  This provides 50% bonus experience gains, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy.
  • Makoto Kobayashi -- Ashitaka camouflage provides 100% bonus experience gains, -50% to the post-battle service costs, +20% bonus credit earning, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy.
For your upgrade choices, it's more straight forward than ever.
  • Start with Main Armaments Modification 1.
  • Next, take Damage Control Modification 1.
  • After that, there's no point on taking anything other than Aiming System Modification 1.
  • And cap it all off with Damage Control Modification 2

There are no Special Upgrades worth installing on Ashitaka at this time.

Primary Battery: Ten 410mm rifles in an A-B-X-Y-Z configuration.  A&B turrets along with Y&Z turrets are superfiring.
Secondary Battery: Sixteen 140mm guns in casemates and four 120mm guns in single deck mounts.
It's hard to argue with the problem solving capabilities of ten 410mm naval rifles.
On paper, Ashitaka has the largest main battery armament of any of the tier VII battleships, outshining the ten 356mm armed King George V-class battleships.  The broadside firepower that Ashitaka dispenses will end worlds.  This is a ship that faces puny little Omaha, Emerald and Königsberg-class cruisers, for crying out loud.   If you can catch a cruiser with all ten of these guns, there will be nothing left of them but a bad smell.  This similar weight of firepower can be downright disastrous for destroyers too.  Even a couple of overpenetrating hits will gut a lolibote and leave them regretting their life decisions.
I am sure you could all smell the 'but' coming.   These aren't your Amagi's 410mm guns.  Well, they are -- they're just not using the same AP shell.
Like Battleship Mutsu before her, Ashitaka makes use of the 410mm AP/APC Type 88 shell instead of the Type 91 shell found on battleships Nagato, Amagi and Kii.  Let's take a look at what differences this entails:
The kick in the pants that everyone will focus on are her penetration issues.  With her lower Krupp rating, Ashitaka's shells not only lack penetration power, they're also more likely to shatter against thicker armour plate.   In practice, Ashitaka's AP shells behave very similarly to the 356mm shells of the King George V-class, keeping comparable penetration power up to about 15km.  Beyond that, Ashitaka's performance begins to fall noticeably behind.  So let's go back to gloating about kicking the butts of Omaha, Emerald and Konigsberg-class cruisers for a moment.  The other side of the coin here is that she'll also be trying to penetrate the armoured belts of Izumo, Iowa and Friedrich der Große-class battleships at range.  You can imagine how well that's going to go over. 
Veterans of the Royal Navy battleship line -- true veterans; the ones that were playing HMS Warpsite and HMS Hood before the rest of the fleet showed up, will well understand the challenges presented here and know the work around.  Ashitaka needs to aim for the upper belt and hull of enemy battleships at range to inflict damage.  Similarly, she needs to abandon the idea that she can inflict citadel hits on any battleship that's same tier or higher at anything beyond 12km.  Going for these upper hull shots can still yield some impressive damage totals, but it takes practice and patience to adjust your gunnery habits.  Ashitaka's slower reload time makes any bounces and ricochets feel especially punitive, however, and it can be an exercise in frustration.  Even good aim will not always avail you -- these are battleship caliber guns after all, with battleship dispersion and 1.8 sigma.
Unlike the tech tree Royal Navy battleships, Ashitaka doesn't have the increased penetration to make spamming HE an attractive counterpoint to trying to bullseye ships with AP.   These are issues that have plagued HMS Warspite, Hood, and  Mutsu.  Players should know what to expect by now.
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DPM and Penetration values for AP shells.  AP penetration values are taken from Wargaming's own Armada videos.  Ashitaka, Nelson and Colorado penetration values are a best estimates using available data.
Backing up the mixed performance of Ashitaka's main battery guns is a heavy secondary gun battery of equally mixed performance!  Hooray!  This comes with a 7km range and a 10-gun broadside.  However, you're not going to want to specialize too heavily into this armament.  The rate of fire on Ashitaka's weapons are on the slow side.  What's more, the 140mm casemate guns which form the lion's share of her firepower shoot an AP shell, not HE. Boo-urns. 
Still, these guns will surprise you.  I stuck a secondary-specialized commander into Ashitaka and quickly hoovered up a pair of Close Quarter Expert medals for killing a Farragut and Atlanta. So it's not like they don't have their uses.
  • Her guns aren't as bad as their penetration values might otherwise indicate.
  • Her slow reload doesn't help matters, though.
  • Her secondaries look more threatening than they actually are.
Concealment & Camouflage
Base Surface Detection Range: 17.28km
Air Detection Range: 13.71km
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 14.41km
Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 16.9km
Main Battery Firing Range: 19.88km
Surface Detection Rank within Tier: Last out of nine battleships
Surface Detection Rank within Matchmaking: Tied for 37th out of 39 battleships with Friedrich der Große and Amagi.
You're visible from space.
Anti-Aircraft Defense
AA Battery Calibers: 120mm / 25mm
AA Umbrella Ranges: 4.5km / 3.1km
AA DPS per Aura: 10 / 74.9
No. Just... just, no.
I cry every time.
Top Speed: 30.0knots
Turning Radius: 870m
Rudder Shift: 14.9s
Maximum Turn Rate: 4.0º/s

Tier VII is a fun tier for battleships.  This where most of the nations find their running legs (except 'Murica, who shows up late for the war again).  The average top speed at this tier is 27.8 knots, buoyed on the high end by Hood and Gneisenau at 32 knots and held back by Colorado at a mere 21 knots.  This makes Ashitaka's 30 knot top speed look very attractive.  It allows her a great deal of flexibility not often enjoyed by mid tier battleships.  She can easily keep up with the flow of battle and redeploy as needed.
She is unfortunately cursed with the second largest turning circle at her tier, with only Hood's 910m being worse.  The next closest is Gneisenau at 830m.  This isn't a ship that answers her rudder quickly.  Her rotation rate is on the slow side, though she is better than the slugs Nagato and Nelson which truly drag their heels due to their lower top speed.  Still, Ashitaka is going to struggle to dodge incoming fire with anything less than a 7 second aim time.  Varying her speed as well as her heading is going to be needed to attempt to avoid long distance volleys and even then she's not going to pull it off easily.
Hit Points: 59,400
Maximum Citadel Protection: 254mm +70mm turtleback
Min Bow & Deck Armour: 25mm
Torpedo Damage Reduction: 25%
Hull armour protection.  There is an absolutely tiny strip of  203mm armour on the bottom of the 254mm belt well beneath the waterline.
While Ashitaka's durability isn't good, it's not as bad as it could be.  Ashitaka is about 1,000 hit points (or about 2%) shy of the average total at her tier now that Colorado has been propped up to acceptable level, so this isn't terrible.  The real concerns are her armour values.
Ashitaka is a wet dream for any light cruiser using Inertial Fuse for HE Shells.  The whole expanse of the ship from bow to stern, with the exception of her belt and gun turrets, is kerosene soaked HE pr0n, never exceeding 25mm in thickness.   She's such a large target with little in the way of superstructure to get in the way of the fall of shells.  Cruisers (and even some destroyers) will trip over themselves to be the next in line to shoot you.
As guns increase in size, it doesn't get much better.  Her belt armour caps out at 254mm at the waterline tapering to a 203mm thickness beneath the surface.  Unlike Nagato, she does not have an extended belt stretching to cover her bow, though she does have one towards her stern where the armour thins over her steering gears to a 'mere' 229mm.  This makes it difficult for her to angle against incoming battleship shells without risking them overmatching her thin prow and hammering into her magazine.
Oh, that's worth mentioning -- Ashitaka's citadel raises up over the waterline beneath her A & B turrets.  What's more this raised area is entirely composed of her forward magazine; because reasons.  This means that any citadel hits punching into your bow are likely trying to  cook off your ammunition.  Time will tell if Ashitaka pops more often than other battleships.
The only spot of good news is that most of her armour protection against AP dive bombers is too thin to arm the fuse.  The exception to this are the 70mm turtleback areas that will arm the bombs and result in Ashitaka taking full out citadel hits from the attack.  This should be rare, however.  But given her poor anti-aircraft firepower, it's not like the enemy carriers are going to be lacking surviving aircraft to give it another go.
Tightening up Amagi's A-Hull
The one consolation with Ashitaka -- skills don't make her subsystems a whole lot better.  This means you can focus on a survivability build with a clear conscience.  Here's your first 10 skill points:
  • Start with Priority Target.
  • Grab Adrenaline Rush to try and hack at that 31s reload time.
  • Take Basics of Survivability.
  • Finish it up with Fire Prevention.

For your next nine points, take Concealment Expert so you're only visible from low orbit instead of across the solar system.  Grab either Superintendent or Vigilance (your choice).  And finally take Expert Marksman to get your guns twirling faster.

Overall Impressions
Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult
Ashitaka doesn't reinvent the wheel.  Protect your citadel.  Fire pew pews at the enemy.  The only real bump in the road is learning to make use of the lower penetration on her AP shells. 
Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / Extreme
Ashitaka has speed and firepower.  That's recipe enough for skilled players to cause a lot of havoc.  However, there's only so far skill will take you on Ashitaka.  She's too big to hide.  She can't effectively angle against most battleship opponents. This leaves you with out-trading your opponents and for that, you're reliant upon your aim and RNGesus.  If she had a single universal ammo type, I could drop this down to 'low'.
Mouse's Summary:
  • Ten guns really does solve a lot of problems.
  • So does having a good top speed. 
  • It's just a shame about all that other stuff...

Ashitaka isn't a good battleship.

Firepower solves a lot of problems in World of Warships, and Ashitaka has a healthy helping of that.  Were her guns firing the Type 91 AP shell found on Nagato, Kii and Amagi, I don't think there would be any real debate on her viability as a battleship.  As it is, the Type 88 shells have a reputation -- one I feel is slightly exaggerated and undeserved.   While they are obviously somewhat lacking, they are not unserviceable.  It's the inconsistency of their performance which causes them to be so demonized.  And let's be fair -- battleship reloads are long and each volley already feels like a roll of the dice.  A series of shatters at the wrong time will feel downright punitive and that's an understandable deal breaker for some.
So while I may wish for better shells, that leaves me to take a frank appraisal of everything else she has to offer.  Her range is adequate.  Her gun handling isn't terrible.  Her accuracy is okay.   Her secondaries are fun but forgettable.  She's fast -- I like fast ships.  Fast ships provide flexibility and flexibility wins games.  Her concealment and durability have a lot to be desired though.  Are these last two elements combined with her shells enough to condemn her to wallow with the likes of Huanghe, Krasny Krym and Oleg?
I honestly don't believe so.  Ashitaka isn't a trashbote.  She's not good -- I think we can all agree she's not incredibly advantaged.  She pays very dearly to have access to ten 410mm guns at tier VII, so dearly I would struggle to recommend her, even though I know she can and will perform in the right hands.  Ashitaka's armour and durability need to be weighed against her offensive power. She's fragile for a battleship, admittedly -- but is she so fragile she can't survive long enough to deal reasonable amounts of damage? We've looked at her guns and her armour.  Top tier, she can bully with the best.  Her armour's proof enough against 356mm guns or smaller.  But she does not up tier well.
It's funny, but t I think the A-Hull Amagi was better.  At least she had 32mm of bow armour.
Would I Recommend?
Ashitaka "becomes worthwhile" with the Makoto Kobayashi camouflage.  Now, I was reluctant to describe it this way as it prompts players to fork out an additional sum in order to prop up an otherwise flagging premium.  However, it would not be fair to fail to mention the merits.  With this camouflage, she joins the ranks of Kii, Prinz Eugen and Missouri as an incredibly profitable premium ship.  Missouri still wins out, but Ashitaka will make bank for those looking for a credit earning ship.
  • PVE Battles
    How well does the ship maintain profitability in Co-Op modes and how does she fare against bots?

Yes.  In the close-range encounters typically found in Co-Op and Operations, Ashitaka thrives. 

  • Random Battle Grinding:
    This includes training captains, collecting free experience, earning credits and collecting signal flags from achievements.
I'll give her a pass here.  For the money, you could take Kii or Mutsu -- one being cheaper and the other arguably more effective against everything within her matchmaking spread.
  • For Competitive Gaming:
    Competitive Gaming includes Ranked Battles and other skill-based tournaments. This also includes stat-padding.

What are you, nuts?  No.  Go away.

  • For Collectors:
    If you enjoy ship history or possessing rare ships, this section is for you.

The Makoto Kobayashi camouflage adds a fun collector's element to this ship.  Yeah, I could see people justifiably wanting her for that if they were a fan.

  • For Fun Factor:
    Bottom line: Is the ship fun to play?

No.  Go away.

  • What's the Final Verdict?
    How would the ship rate on an Angry YouTuber scale of Garbage - Meh - Gud - Overpowered?
GARBAGE - Grossly uncompetitive and badly in need of buffs.
Mehbote - Average ship. Has strengths and weaknesses. Doesn't need buffs to be viable, but certainly not advantageous.
Gudbote - A strong ship that has obvious competitive strengths and unique features that make it very appealing.
OVERPOWERED - A ship with very clear advantages over all of its competitors and unbalancing the game with its inclusion.

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