Hello, fellas! It's been a while since I posted here and I'd figure I share a little bit of my own knowledge when playing DDs. As I am not a unicum by any means (hell, I'm even quite potato, if you'd ask me, based on my stats), I cannot say that these rules carry much weight to them, but members of this community who are far better players than I could chime in and correct me where I've really made a mistake. I'd like to address DD play right now because I've seen a large amount of DDs suiciding into caps and it's been making me miserable. In fact, the reason I decided to get back to DD play is because I wanted to be that one DD that doesn't suicide.
And then I thought to myself, "Hey, these 'suiciding' DDs probably have no idea that they're actually doing suicide with the moves they make." Also, there have been a lot of changes to the game that have made it very difficult for some DD players to adjust (particularly those who play certain nations). I humbly admit that I am probably in no position to teach anyone about DD play, but I think this might prove helpful to those who are either just starting out with mid-to-high tier DD play or are frustrated by it:
1: First and foremost, you are your team's most valuable tool for intelligence. Yes, your role includes capping, but even in CV matches where there's an ungodly amount of spotting going on, you're still the link between your team and the enemy's. Once that link is broken, the enemy has all the cards. So, staying alive and getting into those areas that help keep enemies lit for your team is your primary role. Capping comes after that. In other words, don't bum-rush a cap until you know where all the radar ships are! You need to know what you're facing before you go balls-deep into a cap zone. The only thing you don't usually spot at first glance is the enemy DD, but that will be addressed later . SO..... At the beginning of the game, you're a spotter, snuffing out the enemy and attempting to figure out what's ahead. But it's also important to see what's behind you, which brings me to my next point:
2: ALWAYS look at your teammates' positions on the map. If you have a teammate who is behind an island, make sure he's able to shoot at any DD that might pop up. If you have 3 BBs hanging out at the back behind a very tall island, you can't count on them. They're either repositioning or adhering to the time-honored tradition of being useless. Be patient with your team. Be patient with your position. Don't listen to your team when it's impatient because impatience is the sign of a very tasty potato. They're good in the oven, but not in WoWS. That said, even if your team is in a position to shoot, do not count on them. Assume that they won't shoot a DD you spot and act accordingly. 8 times out of 10 your spotting will first reveal some big juicy damage pinatas to them that they want to shoot first, so when you see the tinybote, they either lose interest or are reloading from their last shot and can't help you at that time. At that point, your first instinct should be to disengage. Speaking of which...
3: When heading to a cap, or any area where your spidey senses are telling you there's something wrong (you'll develop this instinct over time), position your ship in such a way that you're able to disengage rapidly if the situation calls for it so you can fall back into concealment. This way, if your team is unable to shoot a DD that pops up, you're at least angled in such a way that zipping out of there with engine boost will effectively make you untouchable in 4-10 seconds. Even if the enemy DD pursues, his shells will take longer to reach you than your reply. I personally like to try to get into a position where I reverse into the edge of the cap and pop engine boost as soon as I feel I need to start getting the hell out of dodge.
4: Don't rush to torp enemy smokes right away. First, ask yourself this question: Do I even have the range to torp? Zoom in like you would if you're taking a shot at the enemy, point at the outer edge of the enemy smoke, and check the distance on your recticule. If you have the range to torp, don't do it yet! Wait a few seconds to see if the DD starts to shoot. Once it shoots, shoot off a wall of thin-spread torps in that general direction. Most likely, a good player will start juking and moving inside his smoke, so make the wall as wide as possible. A good trick to use is getting out of the cap circle. That gives the DD in smoke the impression that you lost interest in the cap. DD is about playing mind games. It's chess. With ships. Play it like that.
5: In a CV match, try to stick close to your AA ships and keep your AA off (press the P key) until the moment where a plane is hovering right over you. The AA range of most ships is 5.8 km (and I think Minotaur has a little more, judging by how easily it can reach around and kill my planes when I play Midway xD). Keep around that circle to make sure you have AA cover. Do not depend on the CV for fighters (because they're pretty useless anyway) and don't blame the CV for not bringing them. In general, you want to stick relatively close to cruisers. Yes, a CV can still technically drop you, but you've just made yourself a less attractive target. Venture a little further out if you want, but keep that smoke handy.
6: Learn proper smoking techniques! Even if you are not a USN DD with those meme-worthy enormous orbital gun arcs that can shoot over Mt. Everest to a target on the other side, you want to try to smoke up as close to the inside curve of an island so that at least part of your smoke will keep an island between you and the enemy. You can always dip a little out of the island (and still in your smoke) to shoot something tasty if you must. As a USN DD you have all the advantages here because you can daka daka all day while pretending that island doesn't exist, if you do it correctly.
7: Keep a strong account of all the radars and hydros in your game. A good habit is to check the team lineups. How many radars do you have? How many hydros/radars do they have? What ranges are they? RN CL/DD will have hydro that reaches up to 4.5 km for ships, and 3 km for torps (correct me please if I borked this). German hydro is long-duration and extends up to 6 km. That includes DD, CA, BB, everything. They will bully you out of cap. When you see a Z-52, if you don't have a bunch of buddies shooting at him, run the hell away. Even if you do, run the hell away. Kite away and disengage while taking a pot shot or two. You won't beat them in a fight. They'll just pop smoke and hydro and shoot at you all day without much consequence from you if you chase them. This applies to all German DDs. You need backup and preferably radar to counter this. US radar is 8.5-10km and usually has quite a long duration of 40 seconds (Atlanta's is only 25 seconds, an exception). RU radar covers a larger area but has a duration of only 25 seconds. You can use this knowledge to bait radar consumable use so you can troll them xD. I do this by skirting just at the very edge of their radar ranges to trigger them, then moving away as I am detected, and enjoying the spotting damage this gives me when the BBs inevitably shoot the stationary cruiser at a weird angle. The detectability of a radar cruiser is often juuuuuuust a smidge above the radar range, so you can exploit this to your heart's content if you feel up for a challenge.
8: CVs hate ships that turn unpredictably. Generally, IJN CVs will try to hit you with rockets. TURN. USN CVs will try to hit you with dive bombers. This requires a certain level of finnesse. First of all, use speed boost if you have it. Second of all, keep in mind how the CV is approaching your ship. Try to turn broadside to the bombs so that fewer of them land on you (thank you @El2aZeR for suggesting this edit). Yes, a bomb may hit you, but at least it's just a bomb or two and not 4 of them. If you're up against a CV that knows how to counter and anticipate this, pray to RNGesus. RN CVs have those really numerous rockets that pen you like there's no tomorrow. Just juke around and that will grow their aiming circle. I must repeat this again: stick just ahead of AA ships whenever possible. This prevents situations where you constantly have to be juking and dodging (and praying, mostly). It helps to play a CV (if you don't want to grind CVs, you can always try out a Lexington in the public test server whenever it's open) and find out how they aim. If an RN CV approaches you with bombs, speed boost and turn. They'll have trouble hitting you because of how those bombs aim. Torpedoes and rockets are generally their best weapons against DDs.
9: If a BB you're torping is turned in just a little too much to eat your torps, shoot at it from smoke. Most BBs will start to turn away to flee. As they turn away, they eat your torps! Job done!
10: If your team is too passive, be a bit more cautious. There's no use trying to herd a bunch of cats provide cover for you. You'll have to use lots of caution, spot things out, etc.
11: If you're a USN DD, remember that your tools are not only for you! You have long-duration 2-minute smoke! USE IT FOR YOUR TEAM! Talk to your cruisers. If there's a worcester parked in an island but you see he can fire at more enemies by just leaving the island, tell him you're going to drop some smoke there and drop that long-[edited]huge smoke for him once he says "Wilco!". Ask them if they want it. Because if you get no reply, you shouldn't waste a smoke on a cruiser that's too tunnel-visioned to take advantage of the massive free-farming opportunity you gave it. Remember, people in randoms are not used to teamwork. But when a chance pops up and you synergize with a cruiser, you become an unstoppable duo. I've had games where I smoked up Atlantas and kept enemies lit while they farmed them to death. Same with a Des Moines that was able to farm out a troublesome Republique that was causing a crossfire situation. These things are subtle, and you don't get a lot of XP or credits for it, but they're so important for securing a win. If only WG would do something about the economy of spotting damage, because it's very important to keep enemies lit for your teammates. There's nothing more annoying to a Yamato than to try to drop into concealment to heal only to find oneself permaspotted by some little annoying ship that they can't spot and then farmed to death by the roflstomp crew :P
12: Even if you're not a USN DD, rule #11 still applies to you. Yes, your smokes won't be as fantastic, but they still present a crucial strategic tool. Use them wisely and secure the win!
13: Damage dealing is your final role. You're not in the game as a DD to do 200k games. There's CV, BB, and cruisers for that. If you play with the mentality of "hnnnnng gotta do me some DAMAGE!", your eagerness might hurt you in the end. The best way to play DD is to be patient, calm, and calculated. Be the unseen threat that slips in and out of darkness, accomplishing the subtle tasks your team doesn't even know they needed done. Be a ninja!
PS: DO NOT RUSH THE CV. Any CV with an inkling of what they're doing will kill you. Period. If you killed a CV by rushing it right after capping, you were fortunate enough to end up against a CV that doesn't know how to effectively get rid of you. If you've got all the objectives, the team is pretty much free of things to do, and you've got a bunch of AA behind you, sure, go ahead and milk the damage fairy!
I made this guide right now because I spoke to a fellow forumite recently and we agreed that the quality of gameplay has gone down significantly. I don't know if I've grown enough as a player to make a guide like this. In fact, one could even say I am being very arrogant at this moment. But my motivation is that I want to do what I can to make us *all* good players that can enjoy a nice, tense match that doesn't devolve into a roflstomp. Close matches are fun. Steamrolls are not. And upping the quality of play gets us to the former.
I hope you enjoyed this little guide and got something out of it, no matter how experienced of a player you are!
PSS: Switch off the option to enable AA and secondary guns if priority target set. This will prevent the game from automatically turning on AA when you switch sectors.