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Premium Ship Review: Twelve Bees (2020 edition!)


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The following are a series of quick reviews of the Black Friday ships.  Access to all eight of these ships was provided to me by Wargaming at no cost to myself.  To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed here are accurate as of patch 0.9.10.  Please be aware that their performance may change in the future.

Happy Holidays! 

I am not going to be negative snark-monster this year.

Okay, that's a lie.  My first draft of this was chock-full of grumpy holiday resentment.  But I vented.  I got it all out of my system.  I deleted said draft and now I'm feeling all better.  I'm able to genuinely enjoy the season again, mostly thanks to being able to play super-auntie.  Heck, I'm even finding myself excited for some of the upcoming releases Wargaming has announced for this holiday season..  Even with the inevitable accelerated release schedule that comes this time of year, I feel ready.  2020 has been one Hell of a ride for the game, even if you ignore the pandemic.  There has been so much content, so many releases and so many events, it's been genuinely hard for me to keep track.  As of Black Friday this year, there are now forty-three (43!) premium and reward ships that have been released and we know of at least two others due out before the end of the year.  That's nine more ships than the previous front-runner of thirty-six releases, way back in 2016.

As has been custom for Wargaming since 2018, Black Friday sees the release of four new clone ships with sexy black and chrome camouflage schemes.  While I would love to use their releases as an excuse to update some of my older reviews, it's just not realistic.  Still, I thought I could throw something together that's fun while also speaking to the current performance of said ships.

To that end, I present to you, the Twelve [edited] of Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas, Sub_Octavian sent to me... ♪
A Ship That's Retiring Shortly!  ♫

Massachusetts Black
Massachusetts is arguably one of the best premiums that Wargaming has ever made.  She's not only fun and powerful, her gimmicks went on to inspire hope of seeing an entire tech tree line based on her performance.  It's a shame that she's being retired with patch 0.10.1.  I resent "fear of missing out" as a sales tactic and I'm not advocating that you panic buy this ship if she does not interest you, but if she was on your list of ships to get, now's the time.

On the second day of Christmas, Sub_Octavian sent to me... ♪
Two Turtlebacks  ♫

Tirpitz Black
When she was released back in September of 2015, Tirpitz was a monster.  It was inconceivable that a battleship could be (mostly) immune to citadel hits.

On the third day of Christmas, Sub_Octavian sent to me... ♪
Three Not-Bensons ♫

Sims Black
This isn't an easy ship to recommend precisely because there are better ships out there.  For the longest time, she was compared negatively to other American destroyers owing to her smaller gun battery and lacklustre fish.

On the fourth day of Christmas, Sub_Octavian sent to me... ♪
Four Deep Water Fish  ♫

Asashio Black
Behold, the ship that single handed made battleships unplayable.  Oh wait, that didn't happen.  Asashio's torpedoes are stupid.  They have a 20km range, almost zero detection and hit like trucks.  Oh, but they can only hit battleships and aircraft carriers.  She's so single-minded in her purpose its hilarious.

On the fifth day of Christmas, Sub_Octavian sent to me... ♪
Five American Piercing Shells!  ♫

Alaska Black
Like Massachusetts, Alaska is set to be pulled with patch 0.10.1.  It's a shame, she's a very nice ship with great artillery.  Her AP shells have improved auto-ricochet mechanics and solid penetration, allowing her to flex between ammunition types no matter what target presents themselves from moment to moment.  Combine that with good durability and Surveillance Radar and perhaps you can see why she's being retired.

On the sixth day of Christmas, Sub_Octavian sent to me... ♪
Six Tribals skulking ♫

Cossack Black
Tribal-class destroyers are excellent destroyer-hunters and cap-contesters.  This is a high-risk, high-reward style of play that's not for everyone.

On the seventh day of Christmas, Sub_Octavian sent to me... ♪
Seven reloads boosting ♫

Jean Bart Black
Seeing this ship here is a surprise.  Jean Bart was retired last year due to her popularity.  This is largely owing to her Main Battery Reload Booster for her guns which allows her to punish exposed enemies like few ships can.

On the eighth day of Christmas, Sub_Octavian sent to me... ♪
Eight turrets spamming ♫

Atlanta Black
I will always have a soft spot for Atlanta, ever since I watched PhlyDaily and BaronVonGames spamming her rapid-fire 127mm/38s at everything that moved in Closed Beta.

On the ninth day of Christmas, Sub_Octavian sent to me... ♪
Nein second bomb drop ♫

Graf Zeppelin Black
Graf Zeppelin had a ... well, let's just say "storied" development history, including (but not limited to) bombs that required you to lead a target by nine whole seconds.  No, I'm not kidding.  That's gone now, thankfully.

On the tenth day of Christmas, Sub_Octavian sent to me... ♪
Ten different skins ♫

Atago Black
Okay, I'm exaggerating a little.  Between Atago, Atago B and her Arpeggio of Blue Steel clones she has nine permanent camouflage options -- ten if you include her default, no-camo skin.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Sub_Octavian sent to me... ♪
Eleven inch shells bouncing ♫

Scharnhorst Black
Scharnhorst's 283mm AP shells are notorious for having very limited overmatch potential.  With the increase in cruiser armour with the HE and IFHE rework earlier this year, her shells ricochet more often than they ever have previously.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Sub_Octavian sent to me... ♪
Twelve torpedo planes ♫

Kaga Black
Kaga is best known for her enormous (if squishy) squadrons.  Her dive bombers and torpedo bombers come in squadrons of twelve, her rocket planes in squadrons of eight.

Thoughts & Feels

There are some good ships here.  Wargaming has generally picked winners which makes most of them a pretty safe purchase.  Atago, Atlanta and Massachusetts would be my top picks for someone who doesn't already have said ships.  These are all strong vessels that have aged reasonably well, but most importantly they're all fun to play.   I'm glad they've made the older ships available for direct purchase through the Armory for doubloons rather than forcing you to roll the dice or pay cash.  If you want the new four ships, you're going to have to either pony up for a massive bundle, buy them directly through the online store or gamble through loot boxes.  I am not a fan of loot boxes at all -- it's safe to say that I abhor them almost to Jim Sterling levels of ire (thank god for him).  One thing to be super-aware of with these Black ships is that though they may be clones of their parent vessels, they DO NOT COUNT as said parent vessels for the purposes of missions.  So, for example, say the Strasbourg event coming up at the end of the year has a mission which you can short cut using Jean Bart.  Jean Bart Black would not work for said mission unless specifically listed.  This also means that any follow up camouflages or whatever that gets released for the parent ship will not be available on the Black version.  So think twice about spending money on these if that's one of the reasons you wanted them.

Thank you all for reading.  I hope you stay safe over this holiday season.  If you have any questions about the performance of any of these ships, this is the place to ask.  I'm happy to wax poetic about my favourites and the rest of the community is sure to chime in too.  ♥


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