So, recently there was a... lets say "courageous" attempt to fix the issues about carriers which made me feel that those who come up with those fixes don't actually play Carriers themselfs or the game all together.
First of all, lets talk about the changes introduced - second control type and removal of manual aiming from tier 4 and 5. The second control type only introduced another way of playing your strategy game. Personally I still prefer the old one, but this one wasn't bad, I can see how newbies would appreciate more familiar way to play RTS. But then we go to the second part of that update, and boy oh boy did you make things complicated there. Torpedo drops by default are aimed at the slight angle to the front of ship's heading, always coming in from the front, no mater which angle your bombers come in at. What that means is that you can't pick the angle of approach simply by navigating your bombers. You have to naviagate them, press attack, then correct the angle of approach for all torpedo bombers if you want to hit with more then none, or in rare case, one torpedo. And that's providing the ship you're droping your torps at didn't see your bombers and didn't start evading beforehand. So basically micro management issue becomes even bigger.
And then we go to the ballance issues, which are a problem with carriers from the start and to at least tier 8. Firstly, lets adress the issue with stock - fully upgraded carrier ballance issue. Its awful. A guy who just got himself a new carrier, starting from tier 6 and up, have no chance against opponent with upgraded ship, unless last one is awful at playing game or stupid enough to pick a loadout without fighters. And that comes not only from general upgrades, but also captain skills. And that by extension means that the team with upgraded carrier gets the benefit of air superiority, which have a huge impact on the game. Now you might argue that there are ways around that, and I agree, carrier sniping is still a thing, but it is gonna depend on you being an excelent carrier player, opponent being a retarded carrier player and you killing him in one go. But then that just brings air superiority to another team, and carrier sniping is something I had the impression you were trying to avoid.
Not only that, carriers have ballance issues even between nations. Yes, Japanese carriers might have stronger torpedo capacity. But it doesn't mater if you can't bring your torpedoes on target because opponent have several squads of 6-7 fighters, which obliterate your bombers in less then 15 seconds without the strafing run, and in 2 seconds with it. And your fighters suffer the same fate. Just to put it into perspective, Japanese 5 plane squadron gets entirely obliterated in a headon strafe run against US. American 7 plane squadron loses just 2 planes in a headon strafe by Japanese planes. And if you chose to go without strafe runs, 2 Japanese full squadrons are going to lose against single US full squadron in at least 40% of cases. Sure enough, Japanese carriers have an option of getting third fighter squadron, which can help you if you are quick and masterful enough. But you will lose 2 of your squadrons in either case, and opponent with have reserve fighters to replenish his squadrons long after you'd lose yours.
And then we have dive bombers, which people think are not a big thing. But as a carrier player I can tell you that dive bombers do a lot more damage than torpedo bombers. Basically all the torpedo bombers do is do some damage and hopefully force opponent to use his damage control on flooding. If he did that, he is doomed, because dive bombers if aimed properly will cause 2-4 fires on the ship. And even if you have no torpedo bombers, but you've got more then one squad of dive bombers, you can exploit that to big advantage. And in dive bomber capabilities Americans win yet again.
The screaming examples of this disballance would be Saipan and Bogue. First one is overpowered beyond measure against Japanese carrier, not entire sure how it stacks against US carrier, but I imagine odds are not very favourable. Second one however... What the hell? 2 US fighter squadrons against single Japanese squadron? Even to distract one of them, the second will obliterate your bombers if the enemy carrier choses to ruin your day. And he can and will chose to ruin your day because the only thing he needs to keep his planes out of the AA range of at tier 5 is you. Yes, Japanese carrier gets to use torpedo bombers, but the only thing he could use those torpedo bombers untill recently is to torp himself and move on. Now they can't even do that. Yes, you can make work under those odds, but that relies on your skill being vastly superior to that of the Bogue player, and requires you to put immence ammount of efford, while Bogue can just casually point and click at your squadrons and ruin all of these effords.
Oh, and I also forgot to mention that american bomber squadrons can shoot down japanese fighters. Usually without strafe run my squadron would be either fully obliterated or have 2-3 out of 5 planes left.
Now the last issue with carriers is the match making. You basically have 3 states in your carrier - Complete domination, meh and complete uselessness. That goes to being downtiered, uptiered by 1 and uptiered by 2 tiers relatively. In nearly all cases carrier 2 tiers lower then the match he's playing will have a lot of trouble doing any damage even without interuption from enemy carrier. When he's top tier however its a completely ruined game for nearly everyone who you chose to target. If this is what Wargaming likes to see in their game... well, its gonna be the same story as with Artilery in Tanks.
So, that's enough rant, there are some suggested fixes:
- Specifically for Bogue and Saipan - for the first make 111 load instead of 201. It won't make Bogue superior or inferior to Zuiho, it will put them on level plain. For Saipan - nerf the fighters. Seriously, it doesn't mater if there's one less of these things, a single squadron obliterates one and a half Japanese squadrons with little issue.
- For entire carrier imballance between nations - rework the wayfighters work. Rather then having each plane their own HP and their own damage output which will divided by each other will calculate your chance of killing a plane for each plane make it simpler - ammount of planes is their HP. Japanese planes have much better damage output while having less planes. Each killed plane takes away the percent of damage output. Imo that will at least bring Japanese squadrons to some level with US sqadrons.
- For the non manual drops on low tier - either make them be relative to position of the planes against the ship you want to torpedo, or just give manual drops back, but with much longer fuse time on torpedoes and less accuaricy on dive bombers.
- For carrier match making its pretty obvious. Make just make their match making to 1 tier higher then their level. Similar to Light tanks in WoT. Its pretty much the only thing I can thing of to bring them to sweet spot.
- For stock carrier imballance I can't think of any fix. I understand the wish to make it feel rewarding to research this new plane loadout, and at lower tiers it works. But the higher tiers its just... 11k experience for just the flight upgrade? And you also need to get better planes because yours are one tier old and die, so you need another 18k to research just one new group of planes. And you simply can't do that because you get completely blocked from doing anything meaningful by the non stock enemy carrier. If its possible to implement the mechanic for carriers that will give them boost to experience untill they get one or several modifications, that could work. Other then this I can't think of anything.