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Premium Ship Review: Atlanta

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Poopin' rainbows.
Quick Summary:  A fragile anti-aircraft cruiser with radar and armed with sixteen 127mm rifles and short-ranged torpedoes.
Patch and Date Written:  0.6.1.  February 3rd, 2017
Cost: 9,000 doubloons.

Closest in-Game Contemporary

Flint, Tier 7 USN Cruiser
Degree of Similarity: Clone / Sister-Ship / Related Class / Similar Role / Unique

Flint is an Oakland-subclass of the Atlanta-class cruiser, so it stands to reason that the two ships would be very similar.  Flint has an upgraded medium-range anti-aircraft suite.  She loses out on the two wing turrets found on Atlanta giving her a maximum of a twelve-gun broadside.  Flint's superiority is very firmly set by her torpedoes which have a reach out to 9.2km.  Lastly, the two ships trade out their third consumable, with Flint having a USN Smoke Generator instead of Atlanta's Radar. 

  • Armed with sixteen, rapid fire 127mm rifles in eight turrets dispensing up to168 rounds per minute from a fourteen gun broadside.
  • Turret traverse is blinding-quick at 25º per second.
  • Able to fire over intervening terrain quite easily.
  • Her main battery customizes incredibly with the 0.6.0 Captain Skills.
  • Her torpedoes are very fast and very hard hitting for a cruiser of her tier.
  • Powerful anti-aircraft armament, with unlimited charges of her Defensive Fire consumable.  With a full AA-upgrade build, she has some of the best AA-power in the game, tier for tier.
  • She has access to the USN Radar consumable.
  • Tiny hit point pool of 27,500hp.
  • Her machine-spaces citadel sits over the waterline and has a maximum of 89mm of protection.
  • Her bows are overmatched by 203mm guns or larger.
  • Her turrets get temporarily disabled easily.
  • Painfully short ranged at 11.1km stock.
  • Very poor ballistics, with shells being launched into low orbit even at modest ranges.
  • Poor penetration values on her AP and HE shells.  She struggles to do damage to tier 8+ Battleships.
  • Torpedoes are pathetically short ranged at 4.5km.
  • Large surface detection range of 11.0km.

 My last review of Atlanta was over a year ago and there have been some rather significant changes to the game in that time.  Atlanta has been graced by some better fortunes, including one direct buff and many smaller, indirect buffs caused by differences in new mechanics and systems.  This time last year, she was an overspecialized oddity, unable to perform in the manner players wanted and expected her to perform.  She remained a favourite to eccentrics and experts and downright punitive to novice players.

Atlanta's fame (or infamy) has waned considerably over the year.  She is no longer commonly available, having been removed as a permanent fixture from the online store.  She is also gone from the in-game tech-tree where she could be bought with doubloons.  Though far from rare, it is likely that as the game matures she may become a more uncommon sight.  This said, her game play style has been diluted somewhat by the inclusion of USS Flint, an Oakland-subclass of the Atlanta-class cruiser.  Flint shares many characteristics with Atlanta but with the benefits of better torpedoes and a smoke generator -- two fixes for the Atlanta-class many fans of her were clamouring for.
We received different fixes for Atlanta instead of questionable effectiveness.  This does raise the question if Atlanta is now worth purchasing for those who do not have her, especially given her limited availability.  Hopefully this review will address said concerns.
Atlanta subscribes to the original Wargaming design for premium vessels in World of Warships, where candidates were to be selected from ships that didn't fit in the tech tree.  These "weird" vessels included ships like Kitakami and Tone.
Atlanta's Defensive Fire is special.  Unlike other ships, she has unlimited charges of this consumable.  Its other characteristics, including reset timer, duration and intensity remain the same.  Atlanta is also one of the few tier 7 ships with Radar.  This has an 8.49km range, 25s duration and two or three minute reset timer depending if you took the premium version or not.
  • Damage Control Party
  • Defensive Fire or Hydroacoustic Search
  • Radar
Module Upgrades:
Four slots, standard USN Cruiser options.
Premium Camouflage:
Tier 6+ Standard. This provides 50% bonus experience gains, 3% reduction in surface detection and 4% reduction in enemy accuracy
Main Battery:  Sixteen 127mm rifles in 8x2 turrets with an A-B-C-P-Q-X-Y-Z arrangement.  A-B-C and X-Y-Z are superfiring, with all three turrets capable of shooting unobstructed directly forward or aft respectively.  P and Q are wing turrets mounted just ahead of X-turret and behind the torpedo launchers.  This gives the ship a fourteen gun broadside.
Torpedo Armament:  Eight tubes between 2x4 launchers.  One is mounted to each side of the ship behind the rear funnel.
Let's start with Atlanta's torpedoes; they are terrible.  While individually hard hitting at 16,663 damage per and fast at 65 knots they are pathetically short ranged at 4.5km.  This limits their utility to ambush scenarios and acts of desperation.  In order to properly make use of Atlanta's torpedoes, your opponent has to have made a serious mistake.  In such scenarios, a broadside of all four fish will be catastrophic and your opponent deserves the punishment these can dish out for being so horribly out of position.
In close range brawls with enemy cruisers, a broadside of her AP shells is often more reliably devastating than her torpedoes. That's really all that needs to be said about these weapons.
Main Battery
 Atlanta has arguably the most entertaining main battery armament in the game.
There are few guns as interesting as the USN 127mm/38 rifles in World of Warships.  They are not without their controversies either.  With 0.6.0 they received a significant buff in regards to how they interact with select Captain Skills and the variety of builds centered around improving these weapons is diverse.   But let's start with looking at their raw performance before we worry about how we can modify them.
Common Captain Skills taken by Atlanta players to buff their Main Battery.  Few ships benefit so greatly from Captain Skills as the Atlanta. From left to right:  Basic Fire Training, Advanced Fire Training, Demolition Expert, Inertia Fuse for HE Shells, Adrenaline Rush and Expert Marksman.  Not all of these skills should be considered optimal or even necessary.
The 127mm/38 rifles found on Atlanta are similar to, but not an exact match to the weapons found on the USN Destroyers.  They fire the same shells, with the same relative range, ballistic qualities, alpha strike, penetration values and fire chance to her line's destroyers.  However, Atlanta doesn't enjoy the same rate of fire found on vessels like Mahan, Farragut or Sims.  Farragut, at tier 6, fires 15 rounds per minute -- a value matched by Mahan at tier 7.  Sims gets this volume of fire as high as 18.2 rounds per minute while Atlanta has to make do with 12.  For those wondering, this isn't historical and has been reduced for balance reasons.
Atlanta may appear to have the equivalent broadside to three USN Destroyers combined, once you factor in her reload time, this works out closer to two.  And this brings us to our first two Captain Skills.
Rate of Fire
Atlanta reloads every 5s giving her fourteen gun broadside a potential rate of fire of 168 rounds per minute.  There are two ways to increase this.  As a destroyer-caliber weapon, Atlanta enjoys full benefits of Basic Fire Training which drops her reload down to 4.5s and increases her rate of fire up to just over 186rpm.  As if that weren't enough, you can also take Adrenaline Rush which increases her rate of fire as your ship takes damage.  At half health, this drops Atlanta's reload by another half second, increasing it to 210rpm.
Let's look at some real-world examples.  Assuming penetrating hits from her HE shells (594 damage per), a full 14 gun volley (8,316 damage per) yields the following.  Against saturated areas, the damage will be half this.
  • At 168rpm:  99,792 damage.
  • At 186rpm:  110,494 damage.
  • At 210rpm:  124,740 damage.
This is contingent on being able to land hits with that level of accuracy and penetrate vulnerable areas.  Like all guns, Atlanta's rifles are exceedingly dangerous up close.  Landing with ten or more shells per volley is easy enough inside of 7km ranges.  However, even veteran Atlanta players only land between 29% and 35% of their hits overall which much of the accuracy disparity coming from her poor ballistic qualities at range.
Range and Ballistics
One of Atlanta's biggest weaknesses is her lack of reach relative to her surface detection.  Stock, Atlanta's guns can theoretically hit targets up to 11.1km away while she's detected from the surface from 11.0km.  This 100m buffer for such a fragile ship forces her to be placed in harms way anytime she pulls the trigger.  Taking the skill, Advanced Fire Training extends her reach up to 13.3km.  Between camouflage and skills, it's possible to get her surface detection down to 9.4km.  In theory, this opens the tiniest of stealth fire windows (less than 100m) but in all practical sense, Atlanta cannot engage targets and stay hidden without the use of cover.
This is further compounded by the appalling ballistic qualities of her shells.  At her maximum range, her shells are taking a full second per kilometer of distance traveled.  This leads to horrible lead times.  Depending on game resolution, some players may be prevented from using the maximum zoom when ranging their shells as their targets will be well off screen.
This can make targeting specific sections of ships very difficult   This is a necessary skill when facing off against heavily armored targets which her HE shells can struggle to damage.

Penetration and Fire
Atlanta has one of the lowest average damage per game values of any tier 7 cruiser.  Stock, Atlanta's high explosive shells can penetrate a maximum of 20mm of armour.  Aside from destroyers and some light cruisers, her shells just don't have the penetration power to directly affect vessels short of their superstructures.  So while her guns may murder a destroyer with some alacrity, when facing against cruisers and battleships, Atlanta was often on her back foot.
Atlanta's AP shells can be truly monstrous when properly applied.  However, their penetration values due to their low muzzle velocity and poor ballistics arcs prevents them from being used efficiently outside of 7km ranges.  Inside this distance, Atlanta is more than capable of blowing out the citadel of heavy cruisers or hammering the upper hull or extremities of a Battleship with her AP shells and wracking up enormous damage totals quickly.  It's not uncommon for Atlanta to deliver seven to ten citadel hits against a broadside cruiser inside of knife fighting range.  This can deal a whopping 29,400 AP damage if you can land 14 out of 14 shells as citadel hits.  For this reason, Atlanta's torpedoes are often forgotten in the heat of a brawl as her AP can be more than sufficient to put down an enemy cruiser. 
Outside of this range or against even slightly angled targets, her AP performance becomes quite anemic.  For this reason, the ship has often lived and died by her high explosive shells.
In the past, this forced Atlanta Captains to rely on the fire potential of her weapons to inflict damage against larger capital ships.  As a flamethrower, she was quite good at this in theory but in practice, this was never sufficient.   Her individual shells have a poor base fire chance at 5% per hit.  Demolition Expert can nudge this number up to 7%.  However, this plugs into a larger formula:

[Fire Resistance Coefficient x ( 1 - [Damage Control Modification 1 - [Fire Prevention ) x ( [Projectile Base Fire Chance + [Demolition Expert + [signals - [inertial Fuse for HE Shells) = Fire Chance

Fire Resistance Coefficients vary, from 0.8668 for a stock tier 5 to 0.5671 for a fully upgraded tier 9 vessel.  This makes the chances of stacking fires much easier against lower tiered targets than higher tiered, which is ironic given that Atlanta can often deal more damage directly to lower tiered targets than needing fires to prop up her damage totals.  Here are some real world examples:
Atlanta with Demolition Expert facing an upgraded Kongo with Damage Control Modification 1
(0.8335) x [1-(0.05) - (0) x [(0.05) + (0.02) + (0) - (0) = 5.54% per shell
Atlanta with Demolition Expert facing an upgraded Iowa with Damage Control Modification 1 and Fire Prevention
(0.5671) x [1-(0.05) - (0.1) x [(0.05) + (0.02) + (0) - (0) = 3.37% per shell
Combine this with Basic Fire Training on the Atlanta (186rpm) and a 30% accuracy and you're looking at 3.1 fires per minute against the Kongo and 1.9 fires per minute against the Iowa.  Based on these numbers, an Atlanta should be able to easily stack a fire or two past Kongo's Damage Control Party and disengage.  Against an Iowa or similar tier 9 Battleship, it's questionable whether any fires will stick at all if the target Captain manages their consumable properly.  Dueling with either Battleship for longer than a minute greatly increases the changes of reprisals from the now-annoyed battleship from which Atlanta is unlikely to survive, so it's important to stack fires in a limited time frame and disappear.
Without the ability to do damage quickly to larger targets and her own poor survivability when such ships elect to shoot back, it's perhaps no wonder that Atlanta's average damage has been so low.  There is a ray of sunshine, however.
Inertial Fuse for HE Shells
All light cruisers have benefited massively from this skill and it has been a real game changer.  For Atlanta, this increases her HE penetration from 20mm to 27mm allowing her to now damage the extremities of tier 6 and 7 battleships and all cruisers within her matchmaking spread.  With this skill, now Atlanta can drop those theoretical 8,314 damage, 14 penetrating hit HE volleys against most of her opponents.  Only tier 8+ Battleships retain an immunity to her shells with the exception of their superstructures.
This skill isn't without its trade-offs, however.  It's an expensive investment for one, requiring the sacrifice of one or more beneficial Captain Skills.  In addition, it damages her already poor base fire chance by a whole 3%.  It's this latter trade off which can really hurt as her (in)effectiveness against tier 8+ Battleships plummets even further.  Let's look at our Iowa example again.
Atlanta with Demolition Expert and Inertial Fuse for HE Shells facing an upgraded Iowa with Damage Control Modification 1 and Fire Prevention
(0.5671) x [1-(0.05) - (0.1) x [(0.05) + (0.02) + (0) - (0.03) = 1.92% per shell

And if you can no longer afford Demolition Expert:
 Atlanta with Inertial Fuse for HE Shells facing an upgraded Iowa with Damage Control Modification 1 and Fire Prevention
 (0.5671) x [1-(0.05) - (0.1) x [(0.05) + (0) + (0) - (0.03) = 0.96% per shell
Once again, assuming Atlanta is using Basic Fire Training and attaining 30% accuracy, this works out to 1.1 fires per minute with Demolition Expert and 0.5 fires per minute without.  So it becomes a question of a trade off.  Inertial Fuse for HE Shells greatly increases Atlanta's lethality against same tier or lower tiered battleships but worsens her performance against those found at tiers 8 and 9.
Few ships have their performance defined so significantly by Captain Skills as Atlanta.  With her torpedoes being a mere afterthought, how a player customizes and elects to use Atlanta's main batteries will largely define their level of success with this ship.  There is no build that is optimal against all targets and some that are superfluous or even damaging to Atlanta's damage output depending on the ship type engaged.  A player must decide well in advance what kinds of ships she wishes to specialize against and build her Atlanta accordingly.
One of Atlanta's more infamous traits is the awful shell flight times.  At maximum range (13.3km) it's possible to begin firing a fourth volley volley before the first has hit the target.  This makes lead times downright punitive and adjusting fire difficult.
Top Speed: 32.5 knots
Turning Radius: 610m
Rudder Shift Time: 8.4s
Atlanta's top speed of 32.5 knots isn't particularly exciting.  It's sufficient for her task as an escort cruiser, but she doesn't have the speed necessary to challenge evasive destroyers.  Perhaps more pressingly, she is also lacking in sufficient speed to outrun fast Battleships that may seek to engage her, such as Bismarck, Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau or Iowa and she has no chance of outpacing Soviet and Japanese cruisers.  So while not slow or inflexible, some care needs to be taken when planning Atlanta's course lest she find herself out of position or over extended.  This is a problem common to all USN Cruisers.
Ship rotation times from starting at maximum speed and rudder hard over.  Each ship was run through the course five times (except Flint and Atlanta which were run for ten to confirm their similarities) and the average taken.  Deceleration is the time taken for a ship to reach it's lowest speed in a turn.  The two most important factors for determining ship rotation speed is the radius of her turn combined with the average speed while turning.  Smaller turning circles and higher average speed will result in faster rotation rates.  The tier 7 and tier 8 American cruisers are all very similar to one another in their performance, but Atlanta and her sister, Flint, are hands down the most agile of all of the mid tier USN Cruisers with between a 0.5s and 1.0s advantage in turning 90º.
Atlanta's handling is almost identical to other vessels found in the American cruiser line.  This similarity between mid-tier USN Cruisers makes for easy skill transference from one ship to the next.  If you can torpedo beat in a New Orleans, you'll find Atlanta answer similarly to her rudder. 
Atlanta's turrets have no difficulties tracking targets, even with her rudder hard over.  They traverse at a rate of 25º per second compared to the 6.3º per second she turns at full speed, allowing Atlanta to quickly acquire targets and engage new threats from one side of the ship to the other even while under heavy maneuvers.  This makes the Captain Skill, Expert Marksman, much less valuable for Atlanta than on other USN Cruisers.

Atlanta is rather agile and can be a real bothersome target for destroyers.

Hit Points: 27,500
Citadel Protection: 89mm of belt armour
Min Bow & Deck Armour: 13mm
Torpedo Damage Reduction: None.
Over the last year, Atlanta has enjoyed a considerable buff to her turret durability.
Patch 5.5 from April 26th, 2016, all small caliber weapons had their hit points increased as much as 2.6 times what they had been.  Prior to this, Atlanta's turrets had 1,500 hit points each while she now enjoys 4,000 hit points per.  Previously, it was a rare occurrence for Atlanta to survive a battle without losing some of her main battery.  Now it's rather uncommon for Atlanta to permanently lose any of her weapons.
However, much of what was previously said about Atlanta's durability still holds true.

Atlanta is one of the worst protected cruisers in the game, making her truly a glass cannon. She has a pittance when it comes to her hit point total.  Her armour layout is laughable with 89mm of belt armour.  Her large citadel has a section that sits above the surface running beneath the twin superstructures, from the bridge to the  wing turrets.  Her bow has only 13mm worth of protection, making it possible to overmatch it with 180mm guns found on the Kirov, Molotov and Dmitri Donskoi, never mind the larger caliber guns found on heavy cruisers and battleships.  There are few HE shells not capable of landing penetrating damage on Atlanta, no matter where they strike her.
In short, an exposed Atlanta is very likely to become a dead Atlanta.  It's imperative to make use of her concealment and agility to stay alive.  Hug islands and use them to block incoming fire.
Concealment & Camouflage
Surface Detection Range: 11.0 km
Air Detection Range: 6.4 km
Minimum Surface Detection Range: 9.4km
Concealment Penalty while Firing: +3.8km (vs 11.1km gun range)
For such a fragile and short ranged vessel, Atlanta is shackled with an enormous surface detection range.  She is utterly incapable of engaging enemy targets with her torpedoes without giving her position away.  It's only when either her main battery range or her concealment is upgraded that she can ambush surface targets with her guns.  Even with a full investment into concealment and range modifiers, Atlanta cannot stealth-fire from open water and remains dependent upon friendly smoke or island cover to stay concealed.
 At best, Atlanta can get her surface detection range down to 9.4km which is still punitive for a ship of her size and range.  She's unable to sneak up on destroyers and, unlike HMS Belfast, her surface detection range exceeds that of her radar, giving destroyers time enough to begin evading before Atlanta can light them up with her consumable. 
It is worth mentioning that Atlanta, with her radar consumable, can make better use of borrowed smoke clouds than some other ships.  When divisioned with smoke-laying vessels, Atlanta can help provide eyes for herself and allies while remaining obscured within the smoke clouds.  Though her radar has a very short duration, this can tip the balance in some engagements to let this fragile vessel exploit concealment mechanics within the game to her advantage and decide the local fight.
Anti-Aircraft Defense
AA Battery Calibers: 127mm / 28mm / 20mm
AA Umbrella Ranges: 5.0km / 3.1km / 2.0km
AA DPS per Aura: 121 / 27 / 29

Atlanta used to have the best anti-aircraft armament at tier 7 without contest  She has been partially eclipsed by her sister ship, Flint, which has a modernized suite of weapons which replaces Atlanta's 28mm 'Chicago Piano' mounts with the famous (and more reliable and powerful) 40mm Bofors.  This gives Flint a better punch at medium to close range while Atlanta dominates at a distance.  When combined with Captain Skills and module upgrades, Atlanta competes very well with her sister.  The image below breaks down how Atlanta's anti-aircraft power can be modified.
* Bonuses are multiplicative, not additive. Note that all DPS values are approximate with some weird rounding occurring (which is why the tool-tip in port is weird when you begin stacking bonuses).  This table can be used to calculate partial bonus stacks.  For example, a 127mm mount (121dps) with Basic Fire Training (x1.2) Priority Target (x1.1) and Defensive Fire (x3) bonuses would generate an average of 479dps.  The maximum output of Atlanta in an optimal situation would be a combined total of 1,215dps.
Fully specialized and in an optimal situation, Atlanta puts out 1054 / 118 / 42 dps (a combined total of 1,215 dps) at ranges of 7.2km / 5.0km / 2.9km.  Flint manages a combined total of 793 / 392 / 62 dps (a total of 1,247dps) at the same range intervals.  No other ships at her tier come close to Atlanta as her sister-ship.  With Atlanta's anti-aircraft firepower focused on her 127mm rifles and their 7.2km range, she makes a much better anti-aircraft escort over Flint and bests just about any other cruiser in the game, tier for tier.
Atlanta's anti-aircraft advantages do not stop with just raw damage.  Her aerial detection range is only 6.4km.  If she keeps gun silent and switches off her AA guns, she can ambush incoming aircraft squadrons by sailing into their path to intercept them.  By  keeping her AA guns silent up until they're all in range, she gives the CV player no warning of her presence and can devastate a concentrated attack wave before the CV player can react.  In addition, her and her sister Flint are the only ships in the game with unlimited charges of their Defensive Fire consumable.
Specialized in this role, Atlanta becomes a 7.2km no-fly zone which any CV player is fool to test, no matter what their tier.  But don't kid yourself.  Without this specialization, without Defensive Fire specifically, you're only going to damage attack craft waves, not rout them.  Any carrier wishing to delete you will be more than capable of doing so.
In her element and unconcerned.

Overall Impressions
Skill Floor: Simple / Casual / Challenging / Difficult
Skill Ceiling: Low / Moderate / High / Extreme

 Atlanta is not a friendly ship for beginners. 
  • Her weapons are too short ranged with a very temperamental damage output. 
  • Her surface detection range is too large and she has no easy-escape tools.
  • She is far too fragile to account for any mistakes.

While it's terribly fun to hold down your left mouse button and poop out rainbows of 127mm high explosive rounds, the efficacy of doing so is highly suspect at best.  You can't deal damage quickly with Atlanta unless you get in close and without proper forethought, that will simply get you killed before accomplishing anything of note.

The influence a well played Atlanta can have on a game is telling, but it depends entirely upon her Captain / Consumable / Module build.  She's a good support ship, however the decision on how to support your team will largely dictate the spheres of influence you can perform.  When Atlanta is caught out of position (which, let's admit, occurs almost continually in this ship), her ability to affect the outcome of the match falls away to nothing. 
Mouse's Summary:
  • One of the oldest premiums in the game.
  • She's also one of the most unforgiving ships in the game.
  • The recent buffs were nice... sort of.  I wanted Atlanta to get what Flint has.
  • Despite all of her troubles, Atlanta is a riot to play.

What a difference a year makes.  Here's the long list of changes that occurred directly or indirectly to Atlanta between February 2016 and 2017.

  • Her main battery durability was buffed, increasing her hit points 2.6 times.  She no longer loses her turrets constantly (HOORAY!).
  • The Situational Awareness skill was given out for free.
  • Her AP shell normalization was changed from 8º to 10º.  This means that if her shells strike at a 10º angle to the flat broadside of a ship, her shells will treat it as 0º and calculate as if they had struck flush.
  • She received Radar.
  • The new Matchmaker system places her at top tier very frequently.
  • The Captain Skill changes have benefited Atlanta greatly, with easier access to quality of life improving skills like Concealment Expert and the introduction of Inertial Fuse for HE Shells.  In addition, many players can't easily afford fire-mitigation skills like they used to.

Atlanta has seen both feast and famine.  During Closed Beta, when AP shells were dominant, she was as powerful as she has ever been.  The changes to AP and HE shells nerfed her considerably, but she still had a lot of functionality with asymmetrical carrier Matchmaking and how common carriers were during Open Beta.  There was almost always need for an AA escort and Atlanta filled that role nicely.  Once deployment symmetry became a thing when the game was released in September of 2015, Atlanta's popularity began to severely wane.

Now in 2017, it's the increase in smoke generators, specifically those of the British Cruisers, that have breathed new life into USS Atlanta.  She has a purpose now -- an ability that's always welcome when there's an enemy that needs digging out.  It's sad to say, but she gets more use out of that than she does her Defensive Fire consumable.
Inertia Fuse for HE Shells has restored some of the bite Atlanta once enjoyed back in Closed Beta.  While her upgraded HE shells don't have quite the same ubiquity as AP did back in the day, the average damage that Atlanta is dealing out has been on the rise in the last six months.  Looking at a two-week snapshot of her performance ranks her 6th overall for damage output among tier 7 cruisers.  It's still not a good performance, but it's definitely better than has been for the last year.
Atlanta isn't back to her glory days from Closed Beta.  
Would I Recommend?
Atlanta is a weird ship.  She's not something you invest in because you think she's good.  You do it because you want something unique.  While it is possible to earn an equivalent through Ranked Battles in the form of USS Flint, Atlanta's analogue is likely to be out of reach for much of the player base.
  • For Random Battle Grinding
Atlanta isn't going to make it easy on you to earn rewards like High Caliber, Confederate or Kraken Unleashed.  While she or any premium will earn a fair amount of experience and credits, Atlanta is difficult to make perform to make such numbers consistent.  There are definitely better investments.  So no.
  • For Competitive Gaming
No.  There are much better ships to bring in a competitive environment than Atlanta.  She's too fragile and if caught out of position, she has no get-out-of-jail cards to play.
  • For Collectors
Yes.  They saw lots of action early in WWII and enjoyed success and tragedy (Google the Sullivan brothers and have tissues handy). 
  • For Fun Factor

Very yes on toast.  Her guns are hilarious.

Staying near islands is imperative for the longevity of your Atlanta.  Use it to set up attacks and cover your escape.  Atlanta is not an easy ship to play.  She's not like the British Cruisers or premiums like Mikhail Kutuzov or Flint where you can pop an easy smoke consumable and trump any attempts to engage you.
Outfitting Atlanta
Atlanta can be one of the most complicated premium ships to equip in the game presently.  It's important to decide on a role for your Atlanta first.  From there you may select Captain Skills and equip consumables which best support the role that you've decided upon.
Modules:  All of my builds for Atlanta include the same module choices.  Main Armaments Modification 1, AA Guns Modification 2, Damage Control Modification 1, Steering Gears Modification 2.  There's some pretty simple reasons for this.
  •  In slot 1, you can take Magazine Modification 1 if you're really paranoid about detonations.  If you're intending to take Atlanta into a competitive environment, this choice should be moot as you should be using Juliet Charlie signals instead to mitigate detonations.  Personally, detonations don't bother me.  Atlanta does pop a little bit more than other cruisers, so keep that in mind.
  • In slot 2, you may be wondering about the viability of Aiming Systems Modification 1.  Skip it.   At maximum range, and by that I mean 13.3km from Advanced Fire Training, ASM1 provides an eight meter dispersion reduction.  Yep.  That's it.  Eight whole meters.  It's 6.9m at 11.1km.  Whoo.  Exciting!  Take the AA mod.  You'll get more use out of it.
  • All of the choices in slot 3 are terrible for the Atlanta.  Take what you want.
  • In slot 4, Propulsion Modification 2 is also a fair choice.  However, Steering Gears Modification 2 will shave almost half a second off of a 90º turn going at full speed.

Core Skills:   Despite the 0.6.0 Captain Skill overhaul making several builds viable, there remain some skills that are optimal for Atlanta.  They re included in all of the builds below.
  • Your tier 1 skill for Atlanta should be Priority Target.  Knowing when you're targeted and when you're not will save your ship and allow you to pull off some rather audacious feats.  None of the other tier 1 skills is as useful.
  • At tier 3, Basic Fire Training is the second essential.  This increases your main battery rate of fire by 10% and your AA dps by 20%.  Few ships gain so much as Atlanta from this skill.
Bombardment Build
This build focuses upon doing damage to larger ships -- specifically cruisers and tier 6 and 7 battleships.  The idea is to keep her guns singing as often as possible and to use intervening terrain to keep safe.  Because you're expected to be shooting almost non-stop, stealth abilities are less of priority.  This build, grace of taking skills which improve her gunnery, also makes a passable anti-aircraft cruiser but this isn't our focus.
Consumables:  Damage Control Party II, Defensive Fire II, Surveillance Radar II
Captain Skills:
This build is all about maximizing the performance of your guns against these targets.  Basic Fire Training and Adrenaline Rush increase your rate of fire.  Inertia Fuse for HE Shells allows you to land damaging hits against the plethora of 25mm armoured sections found on ships of your chosen targets.  Demolition Expert helps mitigate some of the lost fire-potential. 

Variant:  Swap Inertia Fuse for HE Shells for Concealment Expert.  This changes the build from doing direct damage to relying on fire damage to affect your targets.  This will generally result in increased survivability but you'll pay for it with lower damage totals.
Destroyer Hunter
The idea here is to sneak up as close as possible to destroyers and annihilate them at close range. She's built for stealth. This ship is rather vanilla when it comes to the performance of her weapons against larger targets, but such is the price you pay for being a specialized hunter.  Keep your anti-aircraft guns disabled until you absolutely need them.
Consumables:  Damage Control Party II, Hydroacoustic Search II, Surveillance Radar II
Captain Skills:
The first thing that should stand out is that this will keep your Atlanta shorter ranged than other builds.  This will also impair her anti-aircraft power somewhat.   Radio Location is used to assist with finding the little blighters.  Concealment Expert is used to reduce the range at which you're spotted to give destroyers less time to react.  In addition, you will have to go gun silent to evade return fire from larger capital ships.  Superintendent provides an additional charge of your Radar and Hydroacoustic Search consumables. 
You'll use Radio Location to home in on the destroyers until you're spotted.  If haven't uncovered the destroyer within 20 seconds of being lit, activate your Radar to light the destroyer and be ready to evade any return fire.  Last Stand is there to help keep you alive when your rudder gets shot out as you try to evade.  The destroyers will shoot back and they always seem to hit your rudder and set you repeatedly on fire.  The last thing you want to be doing is spinning in circles.
Anti-Aircraft Escort
As the name suggests, this build focuses on protecting friendly ships from air attack.  This is hardly an optimal build in the current Random Battle meta -- carriers are not as commonplace as they once were.  However, few can argue against Atlanta's efficiency as an AA-platform with this build.
Consumables: Damage Control Party II, Defensive Fire II, Surveillance Radar II
Captain Skills:
Everything pushes towards increasing Atlanta's AA range and DPS.  Basic Fire Training and Manual Fire Control for AA Armament boost your DPS directly while Advanced Fire Training provides the range.  Concealment Expert provides some survivability while also helping prevent you from being spotted early by surface ships.  This can allow you to better intercept an inbound bomber stream and ambush them.  Jack of All Trades is used to reduce the reset timer of your Defensive Fire consumable so that it will always be ready when the next attack wave comes in.
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