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Napkin Meta-Analysis: Balance Changes 0.13.1


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As loyal readers will have no doubt noticed during the analyses for 0.12.10 and 0.12.11, dissecting balance changes is one of my favorite things to do. With the recent release of the 0.13.1 DevBlog, I feel like the dog that was gifted a crate full of tennis balls for his birthday: completely overwhelmed with joy! Thirty-nine ships (!) will be receiving love and/or correction soon, and given that I can spend hours mulling the ramifications of just one change, contextualizing them all is going to be quite a task.

So here is the game-plan: we will be tackling them in chunks, one or two nations at a time. In order for folks to be able to keep track, we'll update the list of links below this paragraph as we go along. For long-term reference, @I_cant_Swim_ has kindly created Torino's Napkin Emporium in the Ship Reference section. Each new article will be 'featured' for a bit and then go to live there permanently, alongside my previous analyses. Check them out and tell me whether my prognostications turned out well or ill.  

Apart from going nation-by-nation, the other thing we can do to make sense of all these changes is to start out with an overview of the changes in aggregate. Especially now that there are two branches of the game in circulation, it can be difficult to contextualize how each balancing decision fits in with the direction that our (western) version of the game is heading. So let's take a look!

Spoiler alert: turns out, we're not in a bad place. As always, I hope you enjoy.

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Links

Overview - Japan - United States - Russia - Great Britain - France - Italy - Pan Asia - Pan Europe & Spain 

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Overview

Thirty-nine ships is a lot to process, so let's start out by getting our bearings. Below is a compact list of all the ships that will be addressed in WoWS 0.13.1, sorted by nation, class, and tier; the ships in gold are premiums/reward ships.  

image.thumb.png.da1f76e23ebcc6675c730a2c56fed9ad.png

From the outside, it is always interesting to try to understand the developer's decision-making process when it comes to addressing the balance of a particular ship. While the candidates above may seem in obvious need of intervention, the logic behind previous balance-recipients1 hasn't always been the easiest to follow. 

What would be great is if we had a system like Britain's Shadow Cabinet, where another entity with expertise in the game's systems makes alternative proposals as to what ought to be better balanced. Then we could compare the two and see whether we are happy with what we have. It is just our luck that we do have such an entity -- the developers of the Russian split-off of World of Warships: Lesta Studio's Mir Korabley (MK). 

Since roughly 0.12.6, the development pipelines of WoWS and MK have begun to diverge; this has resulted in three rounds of ship2 balance changes apiece.3 Below are the side-by-side breakdowns of the two developers' balancing decisions over that time. Green changes are buffs, red changes are nerfs; dark green highlights where both developers modified the same parameter. 

Japan

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.ec1163bd5d65a600dfb55508fd70d7ad.png

United States

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.8845de901d54ac876d1970643e98a54f.png

Russia

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.0f9600b03d034937bd49553207483490.png

Germany

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.a9fd338cd62830076de96e5d5899dfb5.png

Great Britain

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.4517f3d117fa1c4bbb9c45e423987e70.png

France

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.4daa2f8a0809f84189c3b40a5591c6c9.png

Italy

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.7d1481938d1661f9655008ab9db46315.png

Pan-Asia

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.1b730e3035c266c378794f1a397bb2d6.png

Pan-Europe, Netherlands, and Pan-America

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.1f180c21f02be90a6b78cadbb3143b63.png

Spain

Spoiler

image.thumb.png.13668ac649664dd16805ae5ab9fa0f52.png

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Quick Napkin Meta-Analysis

Three points emerge clearly from the comparison of WoWS and MK balancing decisions: the choice of tiers, the choice of classes, and the differing levels of ambition in addressing problem areas. 

Tiers

Mir Korabley started strong out of the gate in 0.12.8, addressing some high-tier bugaboos like Kremlin AA-health and Henri IV acceleration. However, the numerical bulk of the changes Lesta have made since then have been to the low-tiers. Comparing the number of balance changes broken down by tier, we can see that in WoWS the majority have been towards the high tiers, i.e. where the mature player base is most likely to feel their impact. The chart below actually overstates the number of high tier changes that MK has made because it includes a number of small changes that only impact niche scenarios (Spanish CA secondaries, German T9 supercruiser ASW, IJN torpedo bomber detect). It should be highlighted that, apart from an incidental Sekiryu nerf, MK has made zero balancing interventions at Tier 11.  

Spoiler

image.png.18637f2a51dcc2d81eb612349f453b5f.png

 

Classes

The two branches of the game have quite different ideas about which classes are in need of adjustment. For WoWS, a lot more focus was placed upon addressing problem areas in the Destroyer department, as well as with the super-light cruisers (CLAAs). For Lesta there seemed to be more of an emphasis on helping the high-tier heavy cruisers, as exemplified by their buffs to Hipper, Saint Louis, and Henri IV. Though it looks like both games addressed a similar number of Aircraft Carriers, it should be noted again that the IJN Torpedo Bomber detect nerf makes up the bulk of MK's numbers in this department; the only true rebalancing they've done is to the Max Immelmann. WoWS, by contrast, made significant changes to every one of its eight re-balanced CVs. 

Lesta does deserve praise for addressing the low tier cruisers and battleships. Many of the buffs are to the no. 1 long-standing quality of life problem that plagues the larger ships at these tiers: abysmal turret traverse. When the game launched in 2015, a 60 second base turret traverse was considered bad but acceptable, but not in the year 2024. 

Spoiler

image.png.0a4226fb18978b4c849cb2c0be3378ba.png

 

Scope

Comparing the two balancing philosophies so far, it becomes obvious that the World of Warships balancing team is the more ambitious of the two. As examples of the difference in approach, we can cite the buffs to the whole line of Pan-Asian CLAAs, nerfs to the eight most problematic CVs, as well as the nerfs to ships that are strong in competitive (Petropavlovsk, St. Vincent, Annapolis, Condé).  Furthermore, the WoWS team has shown the willingness to dig a little deeper and re-work concepts that were obviously non-functional: Sevastopol, Khabarovsk, and California will be fundamentally different ships come 0.13.1. This level of commitment to fixing what wasn't working should be applauded, especially given that MK has barely made any interventions of that severity.4 

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Conclusion

When I first saw the devblogs come out for the Russian game in autumn 2023, I admit that I felt uneasy. Lesta began strong by addressing some of the non-sensical balancing decisions of the past and picking off the low-hanging fruit early. The WoWS team by comparison seemed somewhat disconnected from the realities of their game, eschewing some of the slam-dunk popular re-balances in favor of ... Tier 7 premium torpedo destroyers and half-forgotten dockyard ships? Among the re-worked ships only the Pan-Asian CLAAs stood out as needful recipients of balancing love. Things seemed to get worse when MK chose to overhaul a good chunk of their low-tiers, presumably to make them more new-player friendly. One could be forgiven for thinking that we came off worse in the divorce.  

With the 0.13.1 update, however, World of Warships will move past its Russian cousins when it comes to the quality and the impact of its balancing decisions. Much of the aforementioned low-hanging fruit will have been plucked (Hayate, California, Veneto, Colombo). Beyond that, the most over-powered of the Aircraft Carriers will have been hammered down to size, as well as some of the strongest ships in the competitive modes. Lastly but very much not leastly, the WoWS balancing team will have breathed new life into some of the perennial meta-laggards like Sevastopol and Khabarovsk. In combination with the WoWS-only 0.12.10 Commander Changes, it can no longer be argued that the west is getting the short end of the stick when it comes to balancing work.       

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That is all for the very quick Napkin Meta-Analysis of the last three rounds of balancing changes for both servers; I hope it was as interesting for you as it was for me. Stay tuned as we make our way through all thirty-nine re-balanced ships in the coming weeks. Thank you for reading ❤️

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1 The 0.12.10 Balance Changes in particular stick out as difficult to understand. Austin? ZF-6? Tashkent '39? 

2 In addition to three rounds of balance updates, WoWS-users have also benefitted from a Captain Skill rework that MK hasn't done.

3 WoWS - 0.12.10 - 0.12.11 - 0.13.1 | MK - 0.12.8 - 0.12.10 - 0.13.0 (recommendation: use Chrome + translate) 

4 The biggest changes are: 1) adding 5.5km hydro to the previously hydro-less Wukong; 2) drastically improving the Collingwood's healing cooldown and citadel repair percentage; 3) Hammering down the Immelmann and the Salmon. Not bad, but WoWS has intervened more severely and more often. 

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The one change I worry about is to Aviere...

Her torps were her longest ranged weapon...and a 20% reduction on a ship whose guns have sub 7km range means a lot of players are going to be getting afk penalties because they can't get close enough to actually fire their weapons with taking enormous risks.

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2 hours ago, Daniel_Allan_Clark said:

a lot of players are going to be getting afk penalties because they can't get close enough to actually fire their weapons with taking enormous risks.

There are DDs at this tier with shorter-range torps than that. Insofar as the guns are concerned, the idea is that you DO take risks in order to trash an enemy DD and drop off concealment immediately it dies. If you're not happy with that playstyle, drop the line. 

If they're AFKing because they're rage-quitting battles, they either need to drop the line now or bite their tongues when WG kills their accounts for rage-quitting. 

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3 hours ago, Daniel_Allan_Clark said:

The one change I worry about is to Aviere...

Her torps were her longest ranged weapon...and a 20% reduction on a ship whose guns have sub 7km range means a lot of players are going to be getting afk penalties because they can't get close enough to actually fire their weapons with taking enormous risks.

Poor Aviere slapped with the nerf hammer,she was always outranged to start with.

Russian dds mostly have short ranged torps as well but they are gunboat dds-not sure what role Aviere is supposed to fill as her speed boost and smoke are not that great either.

Suicide dd seems to fit:

kamikaze-sushi.gif

 

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