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Ducky's cruiser captain skills guide.


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Ok, here is my cruiser captain skills guide/review 3.0.


Green: Good, pretty much universally useful
Orange: Situational or not so good
Red: Bad, if not useless on the majority of ships


1 point skills


Grease the Gears

1 Faster turret rotation to help turrets keep up with maneuvers. +15% main battery turrets traverse speed.

It's a good skill, it does what it says, all the time. Helps getting guns on target after making turns, hopefully keeping you from making bad decisions about not turning. Is it a good skill for all cruisers, no. There are cruiser lines that are not a good fit, like PA cruisers, others, such as the Russian heavy cruisers benefit greatly from it.


Swift Fish

1 Faster torpedoes means less reaction time at the target. +5% torpedo speed.
+5% aerial torpedo speed.

I'm going to keep this one as a bad skill. With justa few niche uses, cruisers should be speccing into guns and survivability. If you want to spec into torps, DD's exist.


Consumables Specialist

1 Better availability of consumables. −7.5% cooldown time of

all Consumables
Damage Control Party
Repair Party

This gets upgraded to a good skill now that more consumables are covered. Anything with a good hydro or any kind of radar will find yourself wanting this skill now and it helps with all the other consumables, other than DCP and repair parties. Borderline situational, but I feel there are enough cruisers that can benefit enough from it to upgrade it to a good skill.


Gun Feeder

1 Accelerates shell-type switching of main battery guns. −40% to the ship's minimum shell-type switching time.

I like this skill a lot on cruisers. I like it on cruisers way more than I do on BB's. I feel that the seconds saved with a cruiser can mean the difference between a handful of citadels and a handful of ricochets. 


Incoming Fire Alert

1 Provides a warning of long-range main battery fire. Receive a warning of a salvo fired at your ship from a distance of more than 4.5 km.

Like on destroyers, I am not a big fan of IFA. I prefer to trust my situational awareness to avoid enemy shells. Also, I find this skill can be confusing when there are more than 1 or 2 shooting at you. However it can be situationally useful and some people can get decent value out of it. If you are one of those people, great! If not, then you can spec that point into something more useful.


Last Stand

1 When the engine or steering gears are incapacitated, they continue to operate (but with a penalty). The ship remains able to move and maneuver - slowly - while the engine or steering gears are incapacitated.

I don't find this skill useful enough as most cruisers don't have much issues with excessively losing their rudder or engines. However it will work as advertised. It definitely will be more useful on ships with fragile modules, such as French cruisers. It is also more valuable on ships that play open water than those that rely on island cover.

Here's how I rank the 1 point skills:

2 point skills


Demolition Expert

2 A better chance of causing fires on enemy ships. +1% chance of main and secondary HE shells causing a fire.
+15% to the underwater explosion radius of main and secondary battery shells when attacking submarines.

I don't think 1% fire chance is enough for me to spend 2 points.


Fill the Tubes

2 Faster torpedo rack reloads. Put more metal fish into the water. −10% torpedo tubes reload time.

Torp builds on most cruisers are a bad idea.


Consumables Enhancements

2 Longer-lasting consumables. +10% action time of:

I you have smoke, radar or hydro, this is a great skill to use.


Eye in the Sky

2 A quick-response spotter plane.

Spotting Aircraft:
+2 charges
−50% cooldown time

This skill gets upgraded to situational. Now that the action time debuff is removed (which I went on record as saying was incredibly stupid, as I hate tradeoff skills) If you find yourself using a lot of spotter planes and they are in ships that you are able to reliably land shots while using the spotter plane, you might consider this.


Priority Target

2 The detection indicator displays the number of opponents that are currently aiming at your ship. The detection indicator will show the number of enemies targeting you with main battery.

I like priority target on any cruiser playing in the open water. It tells when I should shut up and go dark or perhaps start making a turn, or not to make a turn, etc. Way more handy in a cruiser than a DD. And let's put it this way, the rest of the cruiser skill tree is abysmal enough that I don't feel like there are many more skills competing for the points.


Focus Fire Training

2 Faster aircraft preparation. Quicker Air Strikes. More AA explosions.
When Sector Reinforcement is activated, stronger damage shift to the priority sector.
−10% aircraft preparation time.
−15% reload time of Airstrike armament.
In an active priority AA sector:
+1.5% (to 5%) immediate damage.
+25% continuous damage.[2]
+1 flak burst per salvo.
A flak burst is not added to a ship with no long-range AAA.

Stacks with Air Groups Modification 3.

I could put this skill as situational, but when you are depending on needing CV's in the match for it to be useful and for those CV's to be coming close enough to you for it to be useful when you can spec skills that are going to be useful in every match, its not worth it. *However this is a good pick on Dutch cruisers due to the added reload speed on airstrikes.

Here's how I rank the 2 point skills:


Yeah, I'm ranking some skills I rate as bad over skills I rate as situational. Mostly because I don't find myself in those situations or playing those situational ships. I will get more use out of torp reload than spotter planes just how I play. But I still think torp reload is a bad idea to spec for overall.

3 point skills


Heavy HE and SAP Shells

3 More ship damage from penetrating non-AP shells, potentially with a cost. +10% main battery HE and SAP shell damage.
+15% detectability of ships with a main battery caliber of 149 mm and above.
This skill will be useful to small-gun cruisers, of questionable value to most. Note, that HE and SAP shells cause ship damage only when they penetrate.
See here.

A skill that is only useful on super light cruisers or if you are doing a lighthouse build.


Pack A Punch

3 Improved performance of secondary armament. +20% secondary battery range.
+15% torpedo damage.

Super situational... So situational that I considered just marking it bad. Yeah there are a couple ships that benefit from it quite a bit (Napoli), but not enough to mark it as a good skill. It is really good on those couple ships though, don't get me wrong.


Adrenaline Rush

3 Increases reload speed of all armament as the ship's health decreases. For each 1% HP lost:
−0.2% reload time of all armaments
+0.2% AA continuous damage.

AS good as it always has been. You are going to shed HP throughout a match in most cruisers, getting buffed as you go is a good idea.


Heavy AP Shells

3 More damage for penetrating AP shells of heavy cruisers. +5% damage for AP shells 190mm and larger.

Only good for heavy cruisers obviously. In those cruisers you should be playing it hoping to use AP most of the time and HE only when you need to, so this is a good skill on them.



3 Increases capacity of consumables. +1 additional charge to all consumables mounted on a ship.

Extra heal, radar, MBRB, hydro, everything. Yep, its great! Having extra means you aren't going to be stingy with them and hopefully that makes you more effective and keeps you in the match longer.


Survivability Expert

3 Increases the size of the ship's Health Pool. +450 ship HP for each ship tier.

Not a great choice for ships with larger HP pools, possibly a good choice for lower HP cruisers.

And my rankings on them here:

4 point skills


Top Grade Gunner

4 If an enemy ship is spotted within the ship's standard detectability range,[4] this skill is activated. −10% reload time of secondary batteries.
When activated:
−8% reload time of the main battery.

Pretty much requires you to play in a specific manner or a specific build (lighthouse). If that fits you, take it, otherwise go for other skills.



4 When there are as many or more visible hostile ships than allies within the ship's standard main battery firing range, this skill is activated.[4] When activated:
+8% ship speed
−10% main battery dispersion.

You are pretty much always going to have more friendly ships in your gun range than enemies unless you are seriously yoloing or your team is badly losing. Spending 4 points on a skill with those conditions is idiocy. I will put a caveat here that in comp play where teams are dictating their position and can predict the enemy's deployment fairly accurately, it can be useful for most of the battle.


Radio Location

4 Shows the direction to the nearest enemy ship, detected or not. In battle, an azimuth range arc appears.
The enemy is alerted that a bearing has been taken.

Yep, it works. I don't use this in randoms ever. It's a comp skill for me on certain flanking cruisers. It's too expensive for me to get much use out of it in randoms. It also gives away where you might be to players that are aware of their surroundings an realize there is a ship closer to them than another ship that might be spotted.


Inertia Fuse for HE Shells

4 Increases the armor penetration of high explosive (HE) main and secondary shells, while decreasing their chance of setting the enemy ship on fire. +25% armor penetration of HE shells.
Base fire chance reduced by half.

I hate tradeoff skills. There is pretty much one and only 1 cruiser I use this on: 155 Mogami. IFHE has been gutted by WG and while its useful when you are top tier, it leaves you still unable to pen higher tier ships while cutting your one way to significantly damage them: fire. So if you think you'll be top tier, go ahead and use it, but you know how MM works... 


Concealment Expert

4 Reduces detectability range. −10% detectability range of the ship.

The only good 4 point skill in this abysmal skill tree. Spotting rules in this game. Being less detected is awesome.


AA Defense and ASW Expert

4 Increased anti-aircraft and ASW effectiveness. Quicker consumable reload while AAA is active. +25% damage from continuous AAA and flak.
+15% damage from depth charges.
While AA defenses are operating:
−50% ship consumables reload time.

This is a skill that is only useful when subs or CV's are in a match with you and are close enough to you to be useful. Yeah, it works, but by how much and how often? The 50% consumable reload is interesting though if you can play a central location and have lots of planes flying past or to you. I never realized this skill was buffed until redoing this skill guide. Might explain some of the super quick radar reloads I've encountered as a DD that I didn't think were possible.

And my rankings of the 4 point skills:

I utterly abhor the cruiser skill tree.  Things change a bit based on what ship it is, but yeah, I get to 19 points and not sure where to stick the last 2, or whether to free up 1 or 2 point skills and pick another 3 or 4 point skill, but most of the remaining 3 and 4 points kills are mostly uninviting. 4 POINT SKILLS ARE SUPPOSED TO FEEL GOOD, YET I FIND MYSELF TIME AND AGAIN WONDERING IF I CAN GET ANY USEFULNESS OUT OF THEM for the atrocious price of 4 points. When I'm ranking RL as #3 in that skill level, you know there is a huge problem. I rank 7 skills as "good" and only 3 of them exist at level 3 and 4. Now the caveat there is that there is typically one situational skill that works really well for a specific cruiser.


Also, in case you are looking for a simple to use online skill builder, I believe this might be one of the only ones left:
Shipbuilder exists, but its slightly more complicated when all you want to do is run off a quick build and send a link or picture to someone.

Edited by Ducky_shot
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  • HogHammer featured, unfeatured and featured this topic

Last Stand and Grease the Gears are the only "1 point" skills worth getting, in my opinion.

Fill the Tubes is nice to have when brawling in Co-op.  For randoms, I can understand people may not give it a high priority.
Priority Target = waste of points, in my personal opinion.
Agree that Demolition Expert may not represent a good value for the points spent.  Sometimes one has spare points and, well, it couldn't hurt, eh?

I consider "Pack a Punch" and "Superintendent" to be useful.
I'll normally take one of those two as my first 3-point skill, depending on the ship and the build focus.
The value of Survivability Expert really depends upon the tier of the ship in question, I feel.  A judgement call by the player, eh?

Concealment Expert we agree upon.
I'm fond of Radio Location for ships which may expect to hunt DD's.
The rest of the 4-point skills will vary in utility according to what sort of ship and build that a player is contemplating, I figure.

A useful topic for discussion, @Ducky_shot.  Thanks for sharing.  🙂 

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13 hours ago, Ducky_shot said:

I don't find this skill useful enough as most cruisers don't have much issues with excessively losing their rudder or engines. However it will work as advertised. It definitely will be more useful on ships with fragile modules, such as French cruisers. It is also more valuable on ships that play open water than those that rely on island cover.

Researchable cruiser engine/rudder splash incapacitation vulnerability (that is related to whether to pick Last Stand commander skill), compiled by myself with the help of the iwarship.net database tool.


Red: Very vulnerable, Orange: moderately vulnerable and Green: not vulnerable. For ships that are not vulnerable, that one point of commander skill may be used elsewhere; however, as it is indicated here, it take grinds through ships that are more vulnerable to splash damage incapacitation to reach Tier X and supership destinations.

Splash damage tolerance is very strictly related with shell calibre. German 210-mm shells and Soviet 220-mm shells have no overmatch advantage over standard 8-inch AP shells, yet they can cause HE incapacitation on ships that have modules that are only immune to 203-mm splash.

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