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How to Control Your Win Rate

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A long time ago, on a forums board far, far away, I once wrote a similar post to this one...

"My ship is under powered."
"Win rate is all luck anyway."

"RNG ruins any competitiveness in this game."
"Whenever I'm doing well, Matchmaker tries to make me lose."
"I don't stand a chance when I'm bottom tier."
"You have to division to increase your win rate."
"It's impossible to carry in World of Warships."

Controlling your win rate seems like a pipe dream for many players in World of Warships.  They may believe it to be luck, dependent on the whims of Matchmaker.  Or they may feel that they only truly gain a modicum control when they division with other players in whose performance they trust.  For some, they feel that any winning streak will have RNG slap them back into the dirt later to balance it out.  It's unfortunate that these are accepted truths in so many eyes.  However, controlling your win rate in World of Warships is something that can be done, and done solo.  Influencing how often you win is something that can be managed and progressed towards, though it's not easy.  Like anything worth doing, you're going to have to roll up your sleeves and put it some hard work.

In taking this on, you have to accept a few premises.

  • Don't count on help from anyone on your team. This is a solo effort.
  • Accept that you can (and must) improve.
  • Take ownership when you make a mistake -- this includes improperly relying on your team.
  • Celebrate when you do something really well. You earned it.
  • Use every advantage you can.
  • Take breaks often.

Practice Makes Perfect
It's important to focus on a single ship when you decide to take on this trial.  This will provide you with several advantages:

  • You become very accustomed to ins and outs of your chosen vessel.
  • You become very used to the enemy ships you regularly face.
  • Your captain will gain a lot of experience and new skills, further improving your ship's performance.
  • You get very familiar on the best areas on a map to influence the outcome of the battle.
  • While you're distracted with this project, you'll bank a lot of free experience!

You may feel yourself going a little stir crazy sticking to one vessel for so long, but it's worth it in the long run.  Take breaks as you need to but the longer you can stick this out, the better the results will be.  The best choice would be to choose a ship you enjoy playing.  It's relative power level is unimportant and don't feel ashamed if you select a ship others might deem overpowered.  This is about personal progression and seeing an overall improvement in how well you pilot whatever ship you select.

There's a reason I have played the Warspite so much.  I know what she can do and what she can't.  I'm very comfortable with not only her gunnery but how she interacts with her defensive consumables.  I know how far she's seen and how quickly she can get from one section of the map to another.  I also know what guns are dangerous to me and at what ranges.

Now that you've selected your chariot of choice, it's time to get better in it.  One of the more sobering realizations I made when playing World of Warships was listing just how many systems i didn't understand.  The more I learned about the game's systems and mechanics, the more I was better able to put them into practice to my advantage.  The more of these I understood, the easier it was for me to not only beat, but thoroughly trounce opponents who didn't grasp them.  There are a few key areas all players should focus upon in order to improve how well they perform.

The first lesson is Attack Mechanics.  Few other skills will improve your performance (and thus, your win rate) more than being able to do damage quickly and reliably to the enemy team.  This is an enormous subject and worth every moment of your time spent studying it.  Proper understanding of the following will lead to much greater levels of success:

  • Armour penetration mechanics
  • Ammunition types
  • Damage saturation & compartmentalization of hit points
  • Torpedo defense
  • Attack aircraft management
  • Citadel hit mechanics
  • Fire and flooding critical hits.

The second component to ensure you understand is Spotting Mechanics.  Make sure you know how and why a ship is rendered or why it isn't.  Learn how the use of Captain Skills, consumables and modules can affect and change whether a ship is seen or not.  If you can't see something, you'll have a harder time killing it.  If they can't see you, you'll live longer.

Next up is learning about Defense.  If you've done your Attack Mechanics homework, you'll know that armour angling works against some attacks but not against others.  You'll also know why it's sometimes better to try and take multiple torpedo hits to your prow rather than amidships if you can help it.  The goal here is to keep your ship in the game as long as possible.  It also entails understanding the proper management of cool downs and consumables like Defensive Fire, Repair Party and your Damage Control Party.  Lastly, it also includes understanding what places on the map are better suited to playing to the defensive advantages of your chosen ship.

Which leads us to the last part:  Map Awareness.  You need to familiarize yourself with the maps to the point that you can predict where each enemy ship is likely to head before they're even spotted.  You need to be able to understand the attack-flow of a push and how it can best be countered.  Learn the best defensive positions on a map.  Know where the best locations are to lend support without putting yourself in harms way and understand from where unseen fire may be coming from.  This also entails having a good understanding of how cap mechanics work in the three different game modes.

The goal here is to make yourself capable of understanding how you can beat (or harass) any one ship that you may come across, regardless of the tier difference.  If you're in a tier IV IJN Isokaze-class Destroyer, how can you best handle a tier V USN Nicholas-class destroyer that can easily outgun you?  What if you're in a tier VI Budyonny-class cruiser facing a tier VIII Amagi-class Battleship?  What if your preferred method fails?  You have to have a backup plan.  Be flexible and have multiple solutions ready for any problems you may encounter.  Practice until it becomes second nature to you to cycle through these options and put them to work at dismantling whatever unfortunate soul you come across.

Singing Guns and Effective Fire
There's a direct correlation between higher damage (and kills) and higher win rates.  The theory goes that the longer you can keep your weapons cycling and landing blows on the enemy, the less hit points the enemy team will have and the more ships they'll lose.  The less ships they have, the less weapons there are hurting your team and thus, the more likely you are to win, right?

Well, that's the theory.  Putting it into practice is considerably more difficult.  One of the hardest skills to acquire (and I still struggle with this) is understanding where your attacks need to be placed to affect the greatest influence on the course of the game.  Truly excellent players are adept at getting their ship into advantageous positions where they can pour constant fire on the enemy.  They cycle their attack planes faster, they're able to put fish in the water at every opportunity and they're launching shells downrange with every reload cycle.  Not only that, they're putting the hurt on ships that need killing soonest. And when they're not actively doing this, they're moving their ship into a position to facilitate setting up their next attack run.

There's a balancing act, though.  Reckless aggression will only get your face blown off.  Playing too cautiously may end up having you waste time waiting for enemies to stumble into your prepared ambush, only to have your position overwhelmed from another vector.

The pitfall to espousing higher damage totals is the fundamental of wasted damage.  You can't just be dropping your offensive loads on whatever target crosses your path.  As you now have a comfortable understanding of defensive mechanics, you'll know that it can take a very long time to kill a battleship if you don't have a reliable way of delivering high alpha strikes. If you can't burn them down quickly, you might not have time to burn them down at all before your team is overwhelmed.  Remember to keep target priority in mind.  Destroyers, Carriers and most Cruisers can't repair damage.  Any hit points you strip from them aren't coming back.  It's often better to kill (or drive off) the little ones first and only to resort gunning for the Dreadnoughts when there's no other targets to pick on.  This way, these damage sponges won't be wasting your time absorbing all of the punishment you're trying to dish out while their little friends go scot-free and run amuck.

When you have a better understanding of core mechanics than your opponent, you can make utter fools of them -- like making a ten-hit point-blank broadside from a Fuso do zero-damage while steadily chewing through her hit points on the return.

Defending Flags & Map Control
Think of all of the games you lost a match because your base got captured.  Imagine you could erase all of those losses from your record -- how much better would your win rate be?

With very few exceptions, when your base is under threat and you have the choice of either capping the enemy flag or flexing back to defend your own, base defence should be your priority.  In my experience, base defence will win you more games than "capping fast" ever will.   Capping is difficult.  The mechanics favour the defenders greatly, with caps being frozen when an enemy ship sails into the circle, arresting the gains made until they're sunk or pushed out of the perimeter.  The cap circles are open and exposed.  The room in which to manoeuvre inside them is limited, making torpedo and aircraft strikes more difficult to avoid.  Even near misses from high explosive attacks from bombs or shells will reduce that ship's cap points by half.  And with needing 3 minutes to solo cap (and a minute-thirty with assistance), capping fast is a fallacy as even a single defending ship can delay the cap for a long time.

So why do so many of us make the mistake of trying to race an enemy's cap attempts with one of our own?  Particularly when there's opposition at the enemy cap circle that will make capping fast a pipe dream?  Better to flex back.  Better to harass and harry those making the mistake of thinking they can end the game quickly.  And better to ensure the enemy never gets into the circle in the first place.  Keep a wary eye on your mini-map and watch for breakouts on the opposite flank.  By knowing the speed of your ship and how much time it took you to get to where you are now, ensure you have enough time to flex back to base to spot and neutralize the ships that are pouring onto your flag.

Remember, this is your responsibility -- no one else.  It has to be you that flexes back.  It must be you that ensures that your base doesn't get capped.  It doesn't matter if you're in a poor ship to do it.  So long as your ship is still in the game, make certain that your base doesn't get capped.  If you leave it to someone else, you're trusting to RNG that Matchmaker gave you a team mate that's competent enough to do so.  This exercise is about eliminating our victimization to RNG, not espousing it.

In Domination Matches, things are equally simple.  You cannot leave flag capping to someone else.  It will be up to you to make the aggressive plays, just as it's up to you to decide which cap points to go for initially.  With your map knowledge of what ships will likely be headed where, you should be better armed to counter the enemy when they blunder into your guns.  Punish them for any attempts to take a flag.  Also recognize when your outmatched in a given area.  You don't have to surrender the cap point at this time, but understand that you're probably not going to take it.  Make the enemy work for the cap point.  Delay the capture as long as possible to slow their gains.  Once they have taken it, watch to see if they leave it undefended.  If they keep pushing, fall back and flex.

Carry Hard
You should be confident of the following now:

  • That so long as your ship is in the game, your base will not be captured.
  • That you can best or neutralize any one ship that you duel.
  • That no matter what kind of team or map you end up with, you have a plan on what you need to do to get the best results.

Outplaying someone in World of Warships often doesn't feel clear cut.  Many of us are too used to slug-matches.  It's possible to one-shot volley a poor cruiser or to stealth-torpedo a battleship or to use concealment from open water and pummel an opponent to death.  These attacks carry a stigma of being unfair, unbalanced and unsportsmanlike.  Nuts to that.  That's how you win.  You need to preserve your hit points while stealing them from the enemy so that you're in tip top shape to do it again.  I've gotten in the habit of weighing how many hit points I'm willing to spend to see an enemy sunk.  I usually don't budget very many, knowing that I'll need more hit points later to duel my second opponent or my third.  Or my fifth. 

Because once you know you can beat any opponent one on one and you've got the health left over to do it again, you can set yourself up to be in great shape to repeat it on the next encounter -- and the one after that.  Then the only recourse your opponents have to besting you reliably is to gang up on you, and with your map awareness, you're not going to make that easy for them.

Understand that losses will still happen.  You can be an absolute rock-star on one flank, releasing the Kraken and taking C-cap all by yourself only to see that your team has melted on the other side.  Don't get mad about this or frustrated.  Recognize it for the opportunity we so rarely get to practice.  You're going to take a stab at winning with long odds -- outnumbered and outgunned.  Do everything you possibly can to win said matches.  Turn your carry-hard skills up to eleven and go down swinging.  You know what?  You're probably going to lose.  You're going to lose those matches almost every time.  But you're going to learn a thing or two in these last-stand fights.  What ships are going to be the most dangerous to you?  Can they be killed quickly?  If they can't, can you avoid them long enough to whittle down their friends?  How much time do you need to buy to keep the cap-points from reach 1000?

If you manage to pull out the win, guess what?  You've just proved that skill can affect win rate.  The game rested on your shoulders and you carried the day.  Congratulations.

In any engagement, you should assess how many hit points you're willing to spend to secure a local victory.  Sometimes killing one ship will be worth sacrificing your own, but be aware that once you're sunk, you've sacrificed all ability to affect the outcome of a battle going forward.  It's all up to chance from that point on.  Personally, I prefer staying alive so I can carry more.

So how do you know if this is working?  Well, by selecting a single ship, you can watch your stats for that one vessel and see if they do improve.  Are you doing more damage?  Are you winning more often?  And most important of all -- do you feel like you're taking control of your matches?   The catalyst for me was understanding that if I had only done X, Y wouldn't have happened.  It might have been something simple like letting that one destroyer get away that later went on to have a monster match.  Figuring out how I could ensure that X was something I could apply to as many games as possible had a tremendous influence on the outcome of my games. 

This understanding means that I haven't worried about Matchmaker or RNG in a long, long time.  Bad teams?  Doesn't bother me -- more chances for me to practice being a roc-kstar.  Bottom tier?  Great, more experience and credits (and glory) when I kick the sorry butts of those higher tiered ships.  Bad ship?  Then I'll be underestimated and just maybe they'll make a mistake that lets me rip their throats out.

There is little as liberating as freeing yourself from the menace of a being a victim of RNG.  Sure, there will be some games you did everything right and you still lost.  It happens.  But always ask yourself:  Did you make the best of a losing situation?  Was there ever a chance for you and you alone to have carried the day?  If the answer is 'yes', then it's a step in the right direction towards taking ownership and control of your own win ratio.

And that's a win in of itself.

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