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Premium Ship Review: Anchorage


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The following is a quick review of Anchorage, the tier VIII American heavy cruiser.  This ship was provided to me by Wargaming for review purposes.  I did not have to pay for it (though I did spend time grinding it out after-the-fact).  To the best of my knowledge, the statistics discussed in this article are current as of patch 0.9.10.  Please be aware she may change in the future.

And now for something completely different.  This is going to be a shot-review of Anchorage rather than an exhaustive one, greatly sped up thanks to being able to piggy back some of the graphics I did for Belfast '43.  Anchorage is one of those ships that looked hella-interesting when announced but she didn't pan out.  To this end, I'm glad that a lot of players earned her at a discount.  I don't think she's really worth the full asking price (spoilers) but that's mostly owing to her slow rate of fire and wonky consumable options.  Anyway, here is my review of ship named after the capital city of wannabe-Alberta.

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Quick Summary:  An American heavy cruiser with smoke and torpedoes!

PROS:

  • 27mm external armour, preventing overmatch of up to 381mm AP rounds.
  • Respectable anti-torpedo protection.
  • Has "American Piercing" AP shells with improved auto-ricochet angles.
  • Big alpha strikes from individual volleys.
  • Good fire angles on her main battery.
  • Strong torpedoes with a 66kt speed, 10.5km range and over 19k damage per hit.
  • Has access to a Smoke Generator with increased emission time.

CONS:

  • Only a modest gun range of 15.6km.
  • Long, 15.5s reload which hurts her DPM and fire setting.
  • Slow gun traverse of 6º/s.  Like, ew.
  • Bad torpedo firing angles, making them awkward to use. 
  • A total chungus with a modest top speed but horrible handling.
  • Terrible anti-aircraft firepower.
  • Large surface detection radius when firing in smoke.
  • Spartan consumable options.

Overview

Skill Floor:  SIMPLE / CasualChallenging / Difficult
Skill Ceiling:  Low / Moderate / HIGH / Difficult

Anchorage is a dirt simple ship to use.  Park in smoke. Select HE shells.  Cycle guns and hoover up damage.  Even a complete novice can score some respectable damage and maybe even shark a kill this way.  Compared to other cruisers, this is pure easy mode, even if it's not terribly efficient.  And that's really Anchorage's flaw.  She's not efficient.  Her long reload really holds back her carry potential, but there are other issues too.  She's nearly blind which is kind of a shocker for an American cruiser.  She's almost entirely reliant on having team mates spot for her whether she's parking in smoke or behind an island.  This hurts her team-play contribution as it largely relegates her to just dealing damage and she's not particularly good at that.  Yes, her alpha strikes are nice but that sustained output just isn't there.  Similarly, her short range prevents her from kiting very effectively which is a shame because she has some nice fire angles.  Overall, she's just not a carry-boat.

Options

Anchorage's consumables define her as much as her painfully long main battery reload (more on that later).  It's not that her consumables themselves are odd, it's the combination of how they're allotted and which one she gets access to.  You'll see what I mean:

Consumables

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Anchorage starts off normal with a standard cruiser Damage Control Party.  This has unlimited charges, a 5 second active period and a 60 second reset timer.

Her second slot is a tangled mess.

  • By default, she has a Catapult Fighter.  This deploys 4 fighters which orbit 3km around the ship for 60 seconds.  It starts with 3 charges and a 90 second reset timer.
  • This can be swapped out for a Spotting Aircraft.  Active for 100s, it increases Anchorage's range up to 18.72km.  It starts with 4 charges and has a 240 second reset timer.
  • What's weird is that this slot also competes for her Hydroacoustic Search.  Yes, really.  Other than this weirdness, this consumable is normal for a tier VIII cruiser with a 3.5km torpedo detection range and a 5km ship detection range.  It's active for 100 seconds with a 120 second reset timer.  It starts with three charges.

Finally, there's the craziness of giving a heavy cruiser a Smoke Generator.  It generates smoke for 30 seconds with each smoke cloud lasting for 104 seconds.  It has a 160s reset timer and it starts with three charges.

Upgrades

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Outside of destroyers, my recommendation for the first slot in most ships is dirt simple:  take Main Armaments Modification 1 and be done with it.  However, this is a case for Anchorage to take the oft maligned Spotting Aircraft Modification 1 special upgrade instead.  At a cost of 17,000 Y35gE6B.png from the Armory, this increases the duration of her consumable from 100s to 130s -- synching it up its duration almost perfectly with the combined emission and dissipation time of her Smoke Generator.  This of course hinges on not taking Hydroacoustic Search in her second consumable slot.

Speaking of her Hydroacoustic Search, I default to recommending Hydroacoustic Search Modification 1 in slot 2 if you're not going to pull off that Spotting Aircraft combo in slot 1.  Again, you're looking at a 17,000 Y35gE6B.png cost from the Armory to equip this.  If you can't or if you won't, take Engine Room Protection instead.

Aiming Systems Modification 1 is (still) the optimal choice for slot 3.

Because you're going to be parking in smoke or behind islands, Propulsion System Modification 1 is optimal in slot 4.  If you prefer to fire from open water, you may take Steering Gears Modification 1 instead.

Finally, Concealment System Modification 1 is still (disappointingly) optimal in slot 5.

Captain Skills

Anchorage doesn't reinvent the wheel.  You can use whatever American heavy cruiser captain you're currently training or using and get solid results.  She's not a very hungry ship when it comes to getting improved performance from her skills.  For example, here's a quick throw-away build.  Pick one of the tier 1 skills in green, then grab the ones in yellow.  Perfect?  No.  Good enough?  You betcha.

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Camouflage

Anchorage has two camouflage options and they both share the same statistics, making them simple cosmetic swaps:

  • 3% reduction to surface detection.
  • 4% increase to enemy dispersion.
  • 10% reduction to service costs.
  • 50% increase to experience earned.

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Anchorage's Type 10 camouflage.  You can unlock a palette swap for it.

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Anchorage's "National" camouflage.

Firepower

Main Battery: Twelve 203mm/55 guns in 4x3 turrets in an A-B-X-Y superfiring configuration.
Secondary Battery:  Eight 127mm/38 guns in 2x2 turrets with one mounted fore and aft and 4x1 in open-air mounts with two to each side.
Torpedoes:  Eight tubes in 2x4 launchers with one mounted to each side in the hull adjacent to the rear funnel.

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If it weren't for that reload, these guns would be great.  That sounds like my complaint of Vermont.

The more I played Anchorage, the more her firepower reminded me of Mogami, the Japanese tier VIII heavy cruiser.  I don't mean the cool, fun  Mogami.  I mean the far more pedestrian 203mm armed variant that's overshadowed by it's stock 155mm guns.  This is a bit unfair of a comparison to Anchorage because her weapon systems are a lot of fun -- or they would be if her guns weren't shackled to a 15.5 second reload.  That's honestly their biggest drawback despite otherwise having a lot of cool features.  Like Mogami, individual salvos, be it from Anchorage's guns or her torpedoes, are super satisfying.  You just don't shoot often enough.  But here's some of the reasons I generally like Anchorage's weapon systems:

  • Her torpedoes are excellent.  Their 66 knot top speed is amazing for a cruiser-launched fish and their individual hits are super-meaty.  They're even beefier than IJN cruiser-launched torpedoes, surpassing those tossed by Mogami and Atago which is saying something.  They even have more reach, albeit a mere 500m more for a 10.5km range.  She's not quite able to launch them from stealth but that's close enough.  Their only real downside is their horrible launch angles which forces you to give up a full broadside to send them off.
  • She has American piercing shells.  Anchorage's AP rounds enjoy the improved auto-ricochet angles of other American heavy cruisers.  Their ricochet chance starts at 60º (rather than 45º) and doesn't become guaranteed until 67.5º (rather than 60º).  They have good penetration for an AP round.  The only downside is that these are New Orleans and Wichita's AP rounds, not the super-heavy versions found on Baltimore -- so they're not the god-tier version, just the good version.
  • Her alpha strike from her individual broadsides is excellent.  With twelve guns, the punch she delivers per salvo is sizable.  Compare her HE penetrating broadside of up to 11,088 damage compared to Baltimore's 8,316.  She even comes off better when compared to the Japanese heavy cruisers with their improved-damage HE shells.  They only manage 10,890 damage per broadside ("only", she says -- that's still chunky).  Slap a lolibote with that and they'll feel it.
  • She has great fire angles.  She can bring all four turrets onto a target 30º off her bow and 31º off her stern.   Beauty.  Her gun traverse sucks butts, but whatever.

So there's a lot of good here.  It's just unfortunate that it's all locked behind that painful main battery reload or those poor fire angles on her fish.

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Anchorage's good AP shells help pad her numbers here despite her poor rate of fire.

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Approximate penetration values of Anchorage (and New Orleans & Wichita's) penetration.

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American HE shells are nothing special though.  Even with twelve guns Anchorage barely keeps ahead of Atago's 10-gun DPM despite having more guns and half a second faster reload.

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Her fire setting is pretty average for a tier VIII heavy cruiser, so that's a plus.

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Anchorage has "better than Benham" torpedoes.  They're faster.  They hit harder.  They reload just as quickly.  That's pretty impressive.  It's just a shame they have limited arcs and they're not mounted on a ship that could take better advantage of them.  So don't forget about these.  Use them when you can because their stats are damn good.

VERDICT:  Almost excellent, but gutted so badly by that long reload that it crashes and burns.

Defence
Hit Points: 41,800
Bow & stern/superstructure/upper-hull/deck:  27mm / 16mm / 27mm / 27mm
Maximum Citadel Protection: 152mm belt
Torpedo Damage Reduction:  16%

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Anchorage's turret faces have some nice 203mm armour plate on them.

Anchorage is a normal American heavy cruiser.  This comes with some pretty nice perks in the form of being blanketted in 27mm worth of plate.  27mm is one of those key armour thresholds that have artificial importance due to the shell penetration mechanics in the game.  381mm AP shells and smaller cannot overmatch 27mm worth of steel.  Furthermore, tier VII and lower 152mm HE rounds don't have enough base penetration to damage it without the Inertial Fuse for HE Shells (IFHE) skill.  Finally, 120mm HE rounds (found on many British-derived destroyers) cannot penetrate it either even with IFHE.  This opens up the opportunity to pull of some pretty fun shenanigans provided your facing off against the correct opponent.  Anchorage can bow-in and joust against 381mm-armed battleships and wreck 'em with her fish... provided they don't blow out her citadel with AP rounds as you cross alongside one another  -- make sure you bait those shots first!  This is by no means guaranteed outside of PVE battles, but it's nice to have.

She's otherwise unremarkable for a heavy cruiser.  She doesn't have a lot of hit points, but she's not squishy in that regard either.  She doesn't have any extra thick armour plates on her deck or any hidden geometries to wreak havoc on internal AP ballsitics.  If you expose her broadside, you will take citadel hits -- especially through her machine spaces where her citadel pokes up over the waterline.  She's vulnerable to AP bombs owing to her 76mm citadel roof.  She does have some respectable anti-torpedo protection for a cruiser, namely because she actually has anti-torpedo protection.  Many cruisers don't. 

Anchorage's longevity is thus linked to her ability to dodge, hide behind islands or use her smoke to extend her survivability.  Trading in open water is a bad idea, but that's normal for any cruiser -- not just Anchorage.

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Pretty uninspiring but her smoke should (in theory) make her modest hit point total last longer.

VERDICT:  Hella normal.  Nothing out of the ordinary here.

Agility

Top Speed: 33kts
Turning Radius: 800m
Rudder Shift Time: 11.2s
4/4 Engine Speed Rate of Turn: 5.1º/s at 26.4kts

There's not a whole lot to say here.  Anchorage's handling is terrible.  She has a large turning radius.  She's not especially fast.  Given her Smoke Generator, you're likely going to want to install Propulsion Modification 1 instead of Steering Gears Modification 1, so her rudder shift time feels chunky too.  I don't have anything nice to say about her handling.  Given her slow gun traverse, this feels even more pronounced as you'll be tempted to use her rudder to bring guns to bear faster which will just open up her squishy sides to getting citadelled.  Poor marks all around.

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VERDICT: Terribad.  She handles like a Soviet cruiser but at least those ships are usually high-speed.

Anti-Aircraft Defence

Flak Bursts: 3+1 explosions for 1,470 damage per blast at 3.5km to 5.8km.
Long Ranged (up to 5.8km):   87.5dps at 90% accuracy (78.8dps)
Short Ranged (up to 2.4km):  213.5dps at 85% accuracy (181.5dps)

Again, I don't have any nice things to say here, so forgive me while I grouch a bit at the state of Anchorage's AA firepower.  Why was her Catapult Fighter equipped to the same slot as her Hydroacoustic Search?  I am never going to take her fighter because of this which only increases her AA defence issues.  While it's nice that she has a respectable amount of AA firepower in her 5.8km batteries, her supporting batteries are too short ranged to be anything other than 'vengeance weapons' -- you know, the kind that might shoot down a plane after the CV has finished dropping.  This is a really poor showing.  For such a large, cumbersome ship, she's meat on the table for carriers.

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Yikes.  Are we sure this ship is American?

VERDICT:  Japanese-cruiser levels of bad.

Refrigerator

Base/Minimum Surface Detection: 13.62km / 10.7km
Base/Minimum Air Detection Range: 8.02km/6.5km
Detection Range When Firing in Smoke: 7.98km
Maximum Firing Range:  15.6km to 18.72km with her Spotter Aircraft.

So this is arguably Anchorage's strongest area after her firepower and we've already established that her firepower is a bit hit and miss (get it?).  Concealment wise, she's decent.  She has average surface detection for a tier VIII cruiser, so there's nothing to get excited about there.  I'll be honest, this surprises me given the size of the ship, but I'll take it.  Her aerial detection is a bit on the large size, but again it's nothing unmanageable or out of the ordinary.  This just leaves her consumables to talk about.

Had Anchorage been released anytime before the autumn of 2017, she would have been the bees knees.  Back then, Smoke Generators were THE team-play consumable of choice.  As it is now, smoke is still highly appreciated but detection consumables, namely long-range Surveillance Radars, are valued more.  Anchorage flips the dynamic of American cruisers on its head when it comes to its consumables.  It forgoes detection consumables -- even making Hydroacoustic Search compete for its slot in favour of her Smoke Generator gimmick.  Now this is a good gimmick, do not mistake me.  Anchorage doesn't just have a Smoke Generator, it has an American Smoke Generator which comes with increased emission time and duration.  However, it doesn't quite ditto the improved performance of other American smoke generators when it comes to duration.  For example, Benson and Kidd's smoke lasts for 124 seconds.  Flint's smoke lasts for 121 seconds.  However, she does have a leg up on Mikhail Kutuzov whose smoke is only emitted for 20 seconds and lasts 89 seconds.   Sadly for Anchorage, she's not well setup to take advantage of her own consumable.

Her 7.98km (effectively 8km) detection range when she fires within smoke greatly reduces its efficacy.  She's simply too loud of a target to take full advantage of the smoke she drops.  This is especially pronounced if there are any surviving lolibotes on the enemy team, sneaking around and sniffing out smoke-cloud contents.  Anchorage's detection range when she fires in smoke is almost as long as some Surveillance Radar detection ranges -- it's that bad.  She has to be one of the safest cruisers to approach when she's parked in her smoke.  Yes, her torpedoes are a risk but their fire angles are bad so she'll clearly broadcast when she's about to launch them when she swings out her broadside.  This largely relegates Anchorage's smoke use to firing from the second line.  The short range of her guns precludes her from doing this from a comfortable distance unless she forgoes the use of Hydroacoustic Search to take a Spotter Aircraft, and even then that only mitigates the problem temporarily. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Anchorage's Smoke Generator isn't a good fit despite the good stats of the consumable.  Had Wargaming ditched that and given her a Soviet style, short-duration but long-ranged Surveillance Radar, Anchorage would have been a lot more interesting and practical.

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VERDICT:  She came with the wrong consumables for 2020.

Final Evaluation
There have been a lot of forgettable and unfortunate ships released in 2020.  Anchorage is an excellent example of this -- where her design looks interesting but there's some game play element that just doesn't quite click and the ship ends up largely forgotten.  Ironically, Anchorage is exactly the kind of premiums I was hoping to see in World of Warships back when I joined in 2015.  She's different without being overpowered -- clearly sitting a step behind the tech tree ships in terms of her power level.  I should be celebrating her release as-is but she merely feels like a missed opportunity.  Still, I'm glad she ended up (mostly) free for players if they wanted to invest the time and handful of doubloons into unlocking her.  As far as American premium heavy cruisers go, she's definitely not my top pick or even in my top three.  Indianapolis and Wichita are more compelling choices in my opinion, with Alaska sitting as the crème de la crème.  Anchorage is just too weird to tickle my fancy.  She's not terrible, but she now sits alongside Puerto Rico as ships I'm never going to take out of port short of knocking off snowflakes or completing very specific missions where her tool-set will allow me to break the system.

The best thing about her is her cool camouflage and looks, in my opinion. She's not a good PVP boat (she's not terrible either, but she's hardly advantageous), however she's a great Co-Op monster if that's your thing.

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Frankly, this is what Anchorage is best for: derping around in Co-Op and pulling off crap regularly that you'd only see once in a blue moon in PVP.

In Closing

Normally when I finish a big review like Belfast's, I can't stop work immediately afterwards.  I need to wind down.  Usually I take on a pretty small project and work a half-day.  This may involve playing one of the test-ships that Wargaming has lent me or maybe collecting and revising some twirling data.  Maybe I might map dispersion or simply spend time chatting with players, answering questions and reviewing their replays.   The whole idea is to unwind slowly.  I get something done, but it's at a much more relaxed pace than the gruelling final push to get an article out.  With so many ships left to review in 2020, I've tended to default to getting started on the next review.  Normally this is just filling out my template for these articles, getting the PROs and CONS settled and maybe filling out the Options section before calling it a day.

With Anchorage... well, a lot of the work had already been done.  I literally wrote this over the course of 8 hours.  I had already play tested her extensively back in August-September (and didn't like her).  I have most of the graphics done for her grace of just finishing Belfast '43.  So I thought: "why not?" and tried to get this out in a single sitting.  Hooray for me!  This certainly isn't my best work and I definitely cut a lot of corners to get this out, but hey, it's done.  For a ship I'm not interested in playing, that's more of a relief than I would like to admit.  I don't want to have to come back to this one weeks or months down the road and have to remind myself of what she's like and spend hours (and days) doing graphics for a review I'll not enjoy doing.

So Anchorage is done.  I'm happy.  What's more, I think I can take an honest to god break now.

Thank you for reading, everyone.

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