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  The following review of Marlborough, the tier IX premium British battleship, was sponsored by my patrons on Patreon who helped me afford this ship.  Yes, I whaled for this damn thing. To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this review are current as patch 0.10.11.  Please be aware that her performance may change in the future.

Wargaming has gone out of their way to actively sabotage anything redeeming about Marlborough.  I would like to say that this is the kind of design I would have cooked up if I was actively trying to troll the community, but I have to be honest with myself: I am not capable of coming up with something this frustrating to play.  Marlborough's sins are many, though the base premise is one that is very appealing:  Lots of guns big guns firing very quickly.  It's a testament to how badly the ship is built that this core design gets mangled so thoroughly. 

Quick Summary:  A tier IX battleship with an enormous battery of sixteen, quick-firing 356mm guns.  She has poor fire arcs, poor gun handling, anemic AP and HE shell performance, horrid accuracy and bad armour.


  • Enormous battery of sixteen 356mm guns with ridiculous DPM potential and fire setting.
  • HE shells have 89mm of penetration.
  • Solid top speed of 31.5 knots.
  • Good concealment with a surface detection as low as 12.07km.


  • Horrible citadel placement and protection.
  • Highly vulnerable to HE spam with her homogenous 32mm structural plate.
  • Poor anti-torpedo defence.
  • Some of the worst battleship sigma in the game at 1.4.
  • Only modest range.
  • Awful fire arcs and poor gun handling.
  • Terrible shells with anemic individual performance across AP penetration, HE damage and fire chance.
  • Slow rudder shift time.
  • Unlike other British battleships, her Repair Party only queues 50% of penetration damage.


Skill Floor:  Simple / Casual / CHALLENGING / Difficult
Skill Ceiling:  Low / Moderate / HIGH / Extreme

Marlborough punishes players.  If you try and use her as designed, you'll end up back in port very quickly.  Her horrible citadel placement combined with terrible fire arcs means that if you open fire and the enemy shoots back, you're going to lose the exchange.  And better still, she's just fast enough to get you into position to get spanked without enough agility or protection to survive attempting to disengage.  This is toxic to inexperienced players who will find themselves getting smoked for playing the ship exactly as envisioned.  How is that fair?

Marlborough's carry potential is as mild as may.  The surest path to reasonable numbers from this thing is to spam HE. But those reasonable numbers won't come quickly and you better know when it's safe (and necessary) to push.  Marlborough doesn't do you any favours when it comes to outlasting the enemy and you're certainly not going to win any damage trades.  Most of your game play in this thing devolves to bow tanking and hugging islands.


The only surprises with Marlborough's options is how few (and crappy) they are.


For instance:  Marlborough only has two consumables.


  • Her Damage Control Party is standard for a British battleship with a 15 second active period, unlimited charges and an 80 second reset timer.
  • Her Repair Party is also standard, but not for a British battleship, which often have all sorts of weirdness going on.  Instead, Marlborough's consumable is akin to one you might find on a French, German or Japanese battleship.  Marlborough's version comes with four charges base and an 80 second reset timer.  It heals up to 14% on her maximum health over 28 seconds.  It queues up 10% of citadel damage, 50% of penetration damage coming from torpedoes, bombs, rockets and shells and 100% of all other damage types.


I'm not a fan of using upgrades to band-aid over flaws, but on Marlborough, it's almost necessary.



  • Start with Main Armaments Modification 1.
  • Next, start building up your anti-fire regimen with Damage Control System Modification 1, though we might not go full hog here.
  • You have a choice in slot three.  Aiming System Modification 1 is generally going to be optimal, HOWEVER, Marlborough's fire angles are crap and her gun handling isn't good, so Main Battery Modification 2 isn't a bad idea.  it will also save you a couple of commander skill points from having to purchase Grease the GearsPriority Target is much more important for Marlborough, so saving those two points here is pretty important.
  • Similarly, in slot four, Damage Control System Modification 2 is optimal for reducing fire damage.  HOWEVER, Marlborough's fire angles are crap and her gun handling isn't good.  Therefore, having the improved rudder shift time from Steering Gears Modification 1 isn't a terrible idea.
  • Concealment System Modification 1 is the only consumable worth considering in slot five.
  • You've got another choice to consider in slot six.  Understandably, having an even faster reload is most appealing in Marlborough.  Main Battery Modification 3 enables that, dropping her reload from 25 seconds down to 22 seconds.  However, given Marlborough's fragility woes, standing further back from the action isn't remiss.  Taking Gun Fire Control System Modification 2 increases her range from a modest 20.86km to a respectable 24.2km.

Commander Skills

I don't think anyone is really surprised I get to re-use this same  battleship commander skill graphic yet again.  Without improved secondaries, there's nothing really noteworthy here, so fall back on the standard battleship survivability build.




Marlborough came with two camouflages when you unlock her via the dockyard.  They provide the usual bonuses for a tier IX premium:

  • -3% surface detection
  • +4% increased dispersion of enemy shells.
  • -20% to post-battle service costs.
  • +100% to experience gains.

Marlborough's War Paint camo is the typical over-the-top patriotic style we've seen repeatedly in World of Warships.

As garish as the War Paint camo is, Marlborough's default Type 10 camo makes it look downright appealing.  Blech.  This camo pattern is hideous.

The alternative palette (unlocked through the Naval Aviation collection), tones down the Type 10's garish colours at least.


Main Battery:  Sixteen 356mm/45 guns in 4x4 turrets with an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration
Secondary Battery:  Sixteen 133mm/50 guns in 8x2 turrets in superfiring pairs firing forward and aft down each side.


Let's start with the obvious:  On paper, Marlborough has fantastic damage output.  Sixteen battleship calibre guns with a 25 second reload are a potential nightmare.  With the right upgrade, Marlborough can reduce this to 22 seconds.  Marlborough puts a lot of shells downrange very quickly and she has the potential to stack damage out faster than her contemporaries.  This is the dream that Wargaming is selling, but it's not a dream that's easily realized.  As we'll see, there are a stack of problems that get in the way, making this advertised gameplay challenging to achieve at best and downright frustrating to pursue.

Marlborough is a case study on why DPM charts shouldn't be taken at face value.

Problem the First

Much ado has been made about Marlborough's poor dispersion but it's not as bad as players imagine.  This lies solely at the feet of her 1.4 sigma which is among the worst sigma values in the game.  Marlborough's dispersion values are otherwise normal for a British battleship, using the same horizontal dispersion values as most of the British, American and German vessels.  Thus any accuracy woes the ship suffers must be laid at the feet of her shell grouping.  So the question becomes just how bad is 1.4 sigma?  Well here, judge for yourself:


These are three of my "standard dispersion tests".  This is 180 AP shells fired at 15km at a Fuso bot.  All of these tests were conducted using the Aiming System Modification 1 upgrade to reduce dispersion by 7%.  The Fuso bot was stationary and lacking camouflage.  Shots came in from right to left.  Two of these dispersion tests were conducted with Marlborough's 1.4 sigma.  One was conducted with King George V, who uses identical guns but has 1.8 sigma instead.  The difference may be a little harder to discern than expected. Sigma is an often overvalued statistic among players and represeents only a trend, not a guarantee of better accuracy on a per volley (and per match) basis.

Dispersion is highly volatile, even with excellent sigma parameters.  Marlborough's poor sigma makes it less likely that shells cluster towards the centre of the target area, spreading them out to the same overall area as her contemporaries but more like a "shotgun blast" than ships with higher values.  Still, thanks to RNGeebus, it's entirely possible to have good salvos with poor sigma and terrible salvos with excellent sigma.  With how few salvos are often fired in a single match of World of Warships and how few key "match defining" shots are needed to make accuracy stand out for good or ill, Marlborough's poor sigma value generates vastly different experiences for players.  Missing key citadel hits when the perfect broadside is available is infuriating and likely to stick in someone's head, especially with the knowledge that had the shells behaved, a Devastating Strike was guaranteed.

I spent a few days combing over accuracy statistics of some of the better players who had unlocked Marlborough  and compared them to how said players did in HMS Lion.  The overall accuracy difference was about 1% to 4%.  So Marlborough's accuracy is worse, but it's not worse on a level that would be readily apparent if you just went by number of hits.  That's perhaps misleading as the quality of said hits will also suffer.  There's an enormous disparity in player experience for having a salvo land three citadel hits versus one that lands three over penetrations through the super structure.

So yes, Marlborough's sigma value is bad, but it's not game-defining terrible. It's a flaw that's worth keeping in mind, but I personally feel that the import of sigma is overvalued.

Problem the Second


Marlborough's TERRIBLE fire angles are why I hate playing her.  It's no secret that I despise a ship with poor firing angles, particularly if it's paired with shoddy gun handling.  Marlborough ticks both of these boxes and, as we'll later see in the durability and agility sections, compounds it with hilariously bad protection and sloppy turning.  In order to fire all sixteen guns, Marlborough opens herself up to taking citadel hits in return from not only enemy battlehips but some high-tier cruisers as well.  This danger is so pronounced that you can only cycle all your sixteen guns when the Red Team is too busy to shoot back.  And so, her main selling feature is horribly compromised.  In practical terms, Marlborough is not a sixteen-gun battleship.  She's an eight-gun battleship, incapable of using her full broadside for fear of getting clobbered or beaching herself every time she does.

For expert players, the big drawback here are her rearward firing angles.  Marlborough cannot kite to save her life.  In order to trade fire, her only option is to fight bow-in, preferably keeping an island to one flank to prevent crossfire.  This severely limits not only her firepower but overall flexibility. 

Marlborough should be treated as an eight-gun battleship that can occasionally fire sixteen guns.  Between her awful fire angles, poor protection and agility, she cannot take advantage of her full broadside unless the Reds are already losing or they're idiots.  While bow-tanking at high tiers is nothing new, it is much more pronounced iwht Marlborough.  Thus, I feel that it's this second issue, Marlborough's gun handling and fire arcs, that is the most damning for the ship.

But we're not done trash-talking yet...

Problem the Third


Marlborough's AP shells are effectively non-functional.

Alright, I'm exaggerating but Marlborough's AP shells are very bad.  As 356mm rounds, they lack penetration necessary at this tier.  Outside of 14km, they lose all ability to contest battleship belt armour and their ability to citadel enemy battleships falls away significantly closer.  Given Marlborough's horrible fire angles, gun handling and protection woes, taking her into a brawl to be able to use her AP decisively is a loser-move.   Firing at range means aiming for superstructures and the upper hull, but her dispersion makes that a bit of a crap shoot anyway.

You would think that it would get better when facing cruisers but it's still a mixed bag.  While she has the penetration necessary to land citadel hits against cruisers at just about any range, she lacks the ability to overmatch anything but very light cruisers like Minotaur, Edinburgh or Smolensk.  I would have thought Wargaming would have at least gone so far as to give her AP rounds improved auto-ricochet angles to prop up their poor penetration values and lack of overmatch but it's not meant to be.  This means that most cruisers can simply face-tank Marlborough's salvos, risking only taking over penetrating hits through their superstructure or turrets.  And speaking of over penetrations, Marlborough doesn't even benefit from the short fuse timers of other Royal Navy battleships.  Her 0.033s fuse timers makes over penetrations much more likely against cruisers, especially ships with a narrow beam like Ochakov and Smolensk.

With her AP rounds being such poor performers, that just leaves her HE.

Problem the Fourth

So Marlborough is ostensibly relegated to being an HE spammer.

With Marlborough's AP being so crap, I would have thought that Wargaming would have leaned more heavily on Marlborough's HE performance but that's not the case.  Like Agincourt and Repulse before her, Wargaming has been nerfing the HE performance of newer Royal Navy battleship designs.  But while Agincourt's HE was only gently nudged away from these higher damage and fire setting values, Marlborough's were thoroughly gutted.


So while Marlborough is an HE spammer, she's a bad HE spammer, especially when you remember that between fire arcs and accuracy, you're not landing as many hits as her on-paper design would have you think.  Those fearsome 10k+ salvos just don't materialize very often and Marlborough is usually only slapping targets for 3k at a time (if even that -- her individual shells usually strike for 480 to 1,584 damage).  She's not even a particularly fearsome firebug.  On paper she's the best at her tier.  In practice, Alsace and the German battleships are more apt.  Marlborough just doesn't get to fire all sixteen guns often enough (or hit often enough) to realize anywhere close to her potential.

The best thing she has going for her is the increased HE penetration on her shells, but 89mm of HE penetration isn't that much more effective than the 59mm of HE penetration she would have otherwise had.  There's a few decks and upper hulls that she can now directly damage that she might not have otherwise, but it's such a niche ability that it's not a merit worth considering.

Marlborough's fire setting potential is the best at her tier though it's surprisingly only marginally better than that of Lion.  This, of course, hinges on the ability to be able to fire all of her guns and hit stuff reliably ... which you won't.

Problem the Fifth

This last bit is just nit-picky but it plays into how inept Marlborough's base design is.

The best way to counteract all of Marlborough's gunnery and durability issues is to keep her at range.  From further away, she's a less appealing target.  This, in turn, gives her more opportunity to take full advantage of her fast-reloading broadside.  Her HE (crappy as it is) isn't affected by distance and her armour becomes more effective against AP rounds fired back at her.  But, once again, Marlborough is held back.  While her 20.86km range isn't terrible (it's average for her tier) there's two things to keep in mind.

  • First, Marlborough does not have access to a Spotter Aircraft consumable to provide a temporary boost to her reach.
  • Second, unlike most of the other battleships at her tier, Marlborough's performance improves considerably the more reach she has.

When you're bad or your battleship is bad, humping the back of the map and farming fire damage is the way to go.  If Marlborough had a few more kilometers of base range, then her design would work as advertised.  As it is, taking Artillery Plotting Room Modification 2 helps band-aid a lot of her other problems.


They suck.  Ignore them.


Marlborough is a ship that punishes you for trying to play her to her advertised strengths.  Her guns are difficult to bring to bear.  And when you do get guns on target, she's not going to land as many hits as you might imagine.  And what few hits you do land aren't likely to be effective on a per-hit basis. 

Would that Marlborough's problems end here, but there's more problems coming that compounds her gunnery woes.

  • Her dispersion is bad, but it's not as bad as you're imagining.
  • She has a lot of guns and they do fire quickly, but it's rare you get to use all sixteen of them.
  • Her individual shell performance sucks.  Unless you can land a lot of hits, her salvos don't feel particularly strong.

VERDICT:  Wargaming believes that you should be punished for wanting to shoot Marlborough's guns.  Shame on you.

Hit Points: 76,800
Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck:  32mm / 19mm / 32mm / 32mm
Maximum Citadel Protection: 381mm belt
Torpedo Damage Reduction:  23%


You could be forgiven for imagining that Marlborough's citadel layout mirrored that of Vanguard or the King George V-class battleships.  But it's worse than that.  It's much worse.  While those battleships have citadels that sit at or just slightly above the waterline, Marlborough's citadel is hiked up to her nipples.  The one (and only) advantage of this is that her citadel roof is made up of the 152mm reinforced deck found on most ships that's usually hidden by the armour viewer, making her immune to overmatching AP rounds that strike at a shallow angle.  But, because her citadel sits so high (indeed, taking up the full height of her belt armour) the above advantage is irrelevant by making lateral hits against her citadel such an easy shot.  I might have been okay with this if she had REALLY THICK armour, but 381mm of nearly vertical plate with no extra bells and whistles is pathetic at tier IX.  Marlborough is dangerously vulnerable to citadel hits against her contemporaries at almost any distance.  But it gets worse.

Remember those awful fire angles we discussed earlier?  If you try and fire sixteen guns at a target, their return fire can (and will) citadel you.  Marlborough's fire angles are so terrible that incoming shells striking her belt will auto-pass their ricochet check a minimum of 81% of the time when she's firing forward and ALWAYS when she fires over her shoulder to the rear.  It's never (EVER!) a good idea to trade fire with enemy battleships using all of Marlborough's guns.  You'll give up huge chunks of your health if you don't simply die.

Things don't get much better against cruisers or destroyers.  Her homogeneous 32mm structural plate makes her an easy HE damage farm from heavy and light cruisers.  Given her damage output woes, she's not likely to fare well in these trades.  Incoming torpedoes from lolibotes and subs don't have to contend with very much anti-torpedo protection either.

And if you're thinking "oh, well she's soft skinned because Royal Navy battleships get a good heal", stop right there.  Marlborough has a worse heal than any of the other Royal Navy battleships in the game.  So not only does she take more damage than other Royal Navy battleships, she doesn't recover health anywhere near as quickly.

If you see Marlborough on the enemy team, know that she's an easy target.  As an xp pinata, there's a lot to like with Marlborough.  But playing her?  She's a total drag.

Marlborough's potential health is totally average.  But when you combine this with her poor protection scheme, she's a lot more fragile than these numbers suggest.

There are hidden armour plates in the bow and stern of Marlborough.  Unfortunately, her citadel sits so high that any shells bouncing off these plates will just slam into her 305mm bulkheads and citadel her anyway.

VERDICT:  Bad, horrible and terrible.

Top Speed: 31.5 knots
Turning Radius: 860 meters
Rudder Shift Time: 16.8 seconds
4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 4.2º/s at 23.5kts
Main Battery Traverse Rate:  4.0º/s

I wish Marlborough's agility was enough to bandaid her other problem.  Sadly, one issue sours the experience.

Let's start with the good:  Marlborough's top speed is great.  31.5 knots is very comfortable at this tier.  Similarly, her 860m turning radius isn't terrible; it's better than a lot of the other high-tier battleships, so I've got to give her a pass here as well.  These two factors combine to a 4.2º/s rotation rate when she's at top speed which isn't stellar but it's okay. Unfortunately, this is enough to allow her to out-turn her turrets, but I've already complained enough about that.  So you're probably wondering where the issue is.

It's her rudder shift time.

16.8 seconds isn't appalling but it's pretty bad.  And given her fire angle woes, her lack of torpedo protection and her citadel vulnerability, it's just that much worse.  Marlborough feels like she handles poorly.  Just Dodging™ isn't in her repertoire and you can forget being able to swing her butt out and back in order to flash her guns and avoid return fire.  If she had Vanguard or Yukon's rudder shift time, I might be more forgiving here but given what Marlborough needs, her agility just doesn't deliver. 

Two things to note with this graphic.  First, Giuseppe Verdi's agility is assumed -- I have not tested it yet.  She appears to have the same agility as Marco Polo (I suspect her agility performance is cloned) but until I get my hands on her, I won't know for sure.  The second item to note is the lack of data for Prinz Rupprecht.  I have not unlocked her yet to test her.

VERDICT:  Close but no cigar.

Anti-Aircraft Defence
Flak Bursts: 3+1 explosions for 1,540 damage per blast at 3.5km to 6km
Long Ranged (up to 6km):  80.5 dps at 75% accuracy (60 dps)
Medium Ranged (up to 3.5km): 528.5 dps at 75% accuracy (396 dps)

There's not much to say here.  Marlborough doesn't put out a lot of damage overall.  She's pretty crappy when it comes to how many flak explosions she generates (even if the individual hits are beefier than many at her tier).  The best that could be said about her is that she has good reach with her long-ranged batteries so she can support her allies decently.  But she just doesn't generate the numbers needed to make any CV player balk.

VERDICT:  A whole lot of meh.

Vision Control
Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 15.36km / 12.07km
Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 11.94km / 9.67km
Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 13.35km
Maximum Firing Range:  Between 20.86km and 24.2km when equipped with Artillery Plotting Room Modification 2.

Marlborough's concealment is good.

As it stands presently, Marlborough has the tenth lowest upgraded surface detection of all of the battleships within her matchmaking spread.  She ends up with a surface detection around 12km which is very comfortable and about on par with a lot of cruisers she faces.  With her guns silenced, she has little to fear from being spotted by larger ships, with only the usual culprits of submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyers being able to routinely outspot her.  In late game settings, this gets quite powerful, particularly when she needs to disengage.  It's unfortunate that she cannot pair this with good kiting fire angles, but such are the woes of her design. 

There are two other flies in the ointment.  The first is her relative lack of range with no ability to boost it short of taking a 6th-slot upgrade.  The second is a lack of any bonus detection consumables.  Though the days are long gone where orbiting aircraft could help sniff out threats, consumables like Hydroacoustic Search aren't unheard of on a fair number of battleships and Marlborough goes without.

Overall, her concealment is one of the few straight-up good things about the vessel.

Marlborough has excellent concealment for a battleship.

VERDICT:  Good, but not good enough to save the ship.

Anti-Submarine Warfare

ASW Armament Type:  Airstrike from 1.5km to 10km (plus bomb drop column)
Number of Salvos:  Up to three
Reload Time:  75 seconds
Aircraft:  Two S.25 Sunderlands with 2,000hp per plane.
Drop Pattern: 4 bombs each dropped evenly over roughly a 1.75km column
Maximum Bomb Damage:  3,000
Fire Chance: 17%

I'm again merely reporting this for posterity's sake rather than speaking towards its efficacy.  The Royal Navy battleships have some of the better airstrikes in the game at this stage in testing.  But with overhauls planned, who knows how things will change in the future?

VERDICT:  Don't know, don't care until things get closer to final.

Final Evaluation

Welcome to flavour country.

Like the tobacco industry, Wargaming will tell you their product is well researched and fine for consumer consumption.  This is despite their own evidence that players do not enjoy ships with compromised main gunnery performance. Playing Marlborough isn't likely to give you cancer as far as I'm aware.  It just feels like it. This is a bad design on Wargaming's part.  The amount of arrogance or ignorance needed to think that it's a good idea to [edited]-slap players for playing the ship the way they promoted her is just astounding.  The worst thing is that Wargaming is patently aware that frustrating gunnery isn't received well by the player base, yet they go out of their way to cook up this mess.  I'm glad most players I've encountered seem aware that this ship is poorly designed and are keeping away.  I really wish Wargaming would stop jerking us around with bad products like this.

But let's talk about what a "bad" product means in the context of this game, because invariably there's going to be someone that enjoys this ship -- whether by it's own merits or simply to because they're an unrepentent hipster that can't help but find enjoyment in things panned by the community.

It's important to appreciate that unlike her sister game World of Tanks, bad premiums in World of Warships create the illusion of being redeemable.  Any ship in the game is capable of damaging any other.  It was a meme back in the day, but you could take a tier II Umikaze into tier X matches and with a bit of skill, still pull of some surprising numbers.  This addage holds true for Marlborough.  She's a bad ship, make no mistake, but she can still generate numbers.  Fire and HE spam are the great equalizers after all.  All it takes is someone stubborn enough to sit behind the helm and keep trying and Marlborough will eventually deliver.  What makes Marlborough bad is the amount work needed to get the same results as other ships.  Meanwhile, your team is forced to carry harder to make up for your ships deficits.  This isn't an insurmountable ask by any means given how World of Warships is designed.  But Marlborough is still a liability.

This is obviously in the context of PVP modes.  Bots are dumb and you can make nearly anything work in Co-Op.

It wouldn't take much to make Marlborough less punitive to play.  Wargaming can't do much about her fire angles without clipping into the ship's geometry, so that's a wash.  But they could do one of or any of the following:

  • Drop her citadel down another deck.
  • Give her an improved Repair Party.
  • Increase her range by 2.5km.
  • Give her Duke of York's improved auto-ricochet angles (60º to 75º) on her AP shells.
  • Give her King George V's HE rounds.
  • Improve her rudder shift time dramatically.
  • Improve her gun handling dramatically.

Even the addition of only of these would vastly improve the experience of playing Marlborough.  Some are admittedly powerful (KGV HE, I am looking at you) and might necessitate further balancing measures.  Preserving her as-advertised 25 second reload might necessitate giving up range, speed and concealment.  I would happily sacrifice those to make her a better gun platform.  Main battery performance is the key aspect of game play for battleships in World of Warships and Wargaming screwed it up bad with Marlborough.  You shouldn't feel like you're fighting with the ship in order to fire her guns -- especially not with a vessel that comes with a $200 price tag.

Shame on you, Wargaming.

Mouse out.


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  • 1 month later...

Found it absolutely bizarre they didn't take a KGV stick her at tier 8, give her 3 quads DoYs AP a slightly buffed ROF and the usual changes for uptiering.

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