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Asmodaeus posted a topic in BattleshipsAn Open Suggestion to Wargaming – The Nelson-class battleships, Premiums, and Tech trees. As most people will be aware, the British battleship line was probably the most anticipated line in World of Warships this year,– and probably one of the most asked for lines since the release of the game. However, it is my impression,– I could be mistaken,– that there has been a fairly ambivalent response from the community as to how the Nelson will be released as a XP premium like the Missouri. While I would argue that the Nelson-class should not be released as XP premium ships, I would like to take the opportunity to show precisely why,– for historical and tech tree reasons,– Wargaming should not inadvertently close potential future avenues of expanding the British tech tree by blocking the Nelsons in as premiums. In this short essay, I would therefore like to suggest a simple alternative solution to releasing HMS Nelson as a premium ship as well as also suggest how an in-depth look at the historical development of British battleships and British battlecruisers could show Wargaming how it could in future bring in the Nelson-class battleships as regular members of a fully-fledged line of British battleships. (For the tl;dr version, please skip down to the conclusion. For a more technical look at why, continue on.) Historical development and its implications on the British battleship line. There is a tendency to conflate the historical order in which ships were built with design evolution,– e.g. Queen Elizabeth => Nelson => King George V,– even though this does not reflect the reality of warship design from the First to the Second World Wars. An understanding of the broadly linear nature of naval architecture actually makes building a tech tree for World of Warships easier, and is essential to understanding the place of as unique a class of ships as the Nelsons, which neither resemble the battleships the preceded nor followed them. World War I battleship design in Britain was heavily influenced by the ideas of Jackie Fischer, whose championing of the battlecruiser caused the British naval establishment to develop concurrently two types of capital ships, as opposed to one homogenous type like the US Navy’s Standard-type battleships. Slow and heavily armoured battleships were relegated to a 23knt speed for homogeneous line-of-battle actions, while battlecruisers were used as light cavalry as thus were built to be significantly faster but more lightly armoured. While this seems simple in theory, the significant overlap between battleship and battlecruiser design makes this very had to keep in mind with the appearance of the Queen Elizabeth-class battleships, which were touted as the world’s first ‘fast’ battleships. What is most important to take from this is to remember that the British naval architects of the period thought in terms of ‘slow’ battleships and battlecruisers as this affected warship design in the immediate interwar period and thus has important ramifications on how any British battleship line is to be developed in World of Warships. Essentially, British design was built in linear fashion, which each succeeding class being more heavily armed, more heavily armoured, or faster. One can trace a clear line of improvement,– much like the tier system in World of Warships,– just by a cursory glance at the battleships and battlecruisers up till the Washington Naval Treaties. For our purposes, we will concentrate on the relationship between the final classes of World War I, Revenge-class battleships, the Queen Elizabeth-class battleships, the Renown-class battlecruisers and the Admiral-class battlecruisers. Slower than the preceding Queen Elizabeths, the Revenge-class is a quintessential ‘slow’ battleship, featuring similar armour and armament, but slower and consequently smaller. At 21knts, she matches the speed of earlier ships like the Iron Duke-class battleships. In contrast, the Renowns shed a gun turret and significant amounts of armour to reach 32knts. Originally laid down as improvements of the Revenges, they were around 30 meters longer and fit in as a battlecruiser analogue to the Revenges and the Queen Elizabeths. The odd one out are the Queen Elizabeths, who, featuring heavy armour and a top speed of 25knts,– comfortably in between the speed of the ‘slow’ Revenges and the battlecruiser Renowns,– they fit into neither category of ‘slow’ battleship or battlecruiser. In contrast, the Admiral-class is what you get if you stretch the Queen Elizabeth class into a battlecruiser without compromising armour or armament: a 32knt Queen Elizabeth at Tier VII that is unsurprisingly squishy when placed against Tier VIIIs. However, convergent evolution and universal utility is what led to the Queen Elizabeths becoming the template for future battleships, with the slow, all-gun-forward arrangement of the Nelsons being discarded and the lightly armoured battlecruisers seeing general extinction after the 1920s, the Alaska large cruisers and a number of unrealised designs notwithstanding. Revenge, Renown and Queen Elizabeth essentially illustrate three different paths of development that British naval design could go down: the ‘slow’ battleship, the battlecruiser, and the ‘fast’ battleship which acts as a synthesis and middle ground between the former two. In terms of World of Warships. What this means is that Wargaming actually has the potential to develop three battleship/battlecruiser lines rather than the current one or even the potential two that most were thinking of when building their own versions of the British tech tree. The place of the Nelson-class battleships One argument seen in the discussions and Q&As regarding the Nelson-class is that the developers did not wish to disrupt the gameplay style of the Queen Elizabeth-Conqueror line by introducing a slow all-gun-forward battleship into an otherwise conventional line. Speaking frankly, this seems a fairly weak argument when one takes certain examples already in-game into account. We have already seen significant gameplay changes when switching tiers in World of Warships. The clearest illustration of this would be to bring up the Amagi-Izumo shift, where a modernized battlecruiser which is arguably more heavily armed in the rear leads to a broad beamed all-gun-forward battleship. Other ships which feature similar shifts would be the move from the armoured St. Louis to the fast but fragile Phoenix, or the slow but manoeuvrable Bayern to the speedy Gneisenau. A more convincing argument against placing Nelson after the Queen Elizabeth would be to point to the development of warship design around the end of the First World War, where Nelson and its progenitor design, the N3 battleships, represent the ‘slow’ battleship line perfectly. In contrast, the Queen Elizabeth-class after modernization and the King George V-class are much closer relations, with the KGVs being faster, far better armoured, more lightly armed and visually similar to the earlier modernized class. Building three lines: ‘slow’ battleships, ‘fast’ battleships, and battlecruisers While I hesitate in building a tech tree, I would like to at least suggest how historical development would translate in terms of the tech tree, where gaps in the lines exist and thus need further research to fill them in. This tech tree would be predicated on the idea that we have three different lines to accommodate the different evolutionary trees of British battleship and battlecruiser design: ‘slow’ battleships, ‘fast’ battleships, and battlecruisers. As most here are probably aware, there are quite enough historical classes to easily fill out three lines, from tier III to tier V. However, it is from tier VI up that things get complicated, which is why I’ll focus primarily on those. A preliminary outline of how things would look follows thus: Tier VI : Revenge; Queen Elizabeth; Renown Tier VII : ???; King George V; Admiral Tier VIII : Nelson; (Monarch); J3 Tier IX : ???; Lion; G3 Tier X : N3; (Conqueror); I3 Each line should have a theme or idea behind it so as to differentiate them from one another and also offer players an incentive for grind up the different lines. While speed would be the primary theme of the battlecruisers and, as it seems to be shaping up with the Conqueror, heavy armament for the ‘fast’ battleships, heavy armour should be the theme of the ‘slow’ battleship line, where ships were designed to fight in broadside battles and still come out swinging. Here, the Nelson-class sits at tier VIII with their heavy armour and 16-inch guns, as they were capable of pummelling the Bismarck under favourable circumstances and thus toe-to-toe should they meet equally in-game. However, the one that would appear at tier VIII would be Nelson in her 1945 configuration, with a greatly bolstered anti-aircraft battery to allow her to fend off enemy carrier planes which become increasingly lethal as you rise in the tiers. The N3-class, with their even heavier armour and 18-inch guns would sit at the top of the line. Although they possess a turret less than the Conqueror, the N3s outclassed all other contemporary battleships when it was designed in terms of armour and armament, and after some modernization of their anti-aircraft armament, it would not be unrealistic to imagine them slugging it out with the other tier Xs. The G3-class is actually a surprise in terms of its placement in the tree as they are, in truth, battlecruisers only in name. Featuring heavier armour than the Iowa-class battleships, they would play more like fast battleships, essentially revealing how the different evolutionary branches eventually converged towards the idea of a universal battleship,– similar to how heavy tanks and medium tanks eventually converged into the modern main battle tank. As can be seen, gaps exist in both lines, for the tiers VII and IX of the ‘slow’ battleship line, and the tiers VIII and X or the battlecruiser line. Knowing British design history after the end of the First World War will reveal no shortage of high-tier potentials due to the number of super-battleship designs that were cut down by the Washington Naval Treaties, including the J3, a battlecruiser design very similar to the Monarch-class, which feature three triple 15-inch guns in conventional arrangement; and the I3 which features somewhat heavier armour than the G3s but an 18-inch main armament. For those missing in the ‘slow’ battleship line, I have deliberately chosen to omit them as there are possibly two potential areas where one could find candidates. Either one could look at the preliminary designs of the Nelsons, i.e. P3 & Q3, to find potentials to fill in the gaps in tiers VII, or one could look instead to the 1928 and 1935 design studies for potential tier IXs. Conclusion As shown above, it is fully possible for Wargaming to build three fully fledged battleship-battlecruiser lines for the British in World of Warships,– an opportunity which should not be squandered by placing the Nelson-class battleships outside of the regular tree. Were the lead ship of the Nelson-class to become a premium, it would make for some awkward tech tree shuffling and renaming in future should Wargaming later on decide that it would like to build a second or third British battleship line, which is highly probable as adding new tech tree lines is the most viable way Wargaming has of expanding the game. Instead, if Wargaming nonetheless insists on releasing a Nelson-class battleship as a premium ship, I think if would be a better decision,– in light of the reasons above,– to make the premium HMS Rodney, rather than HMS Nelson. Premiums should always be there to offer something special to players, which is why they by and large should represent specific members of a class rather than ship-classes as a whole. This is something that makes them an attractive purchase for players without removing the free2play aspect of a MMO,– better to let all players experience a ship class rather than placing something as well-known and iconic as the Nelson-class battleships (or even the Kii-class battleships but that’s an argument for another day) behind a monetary or experience wall that most players will need to use substantial real money to overcome. If nothing else, Wargaming will be better able to deflect critics of the game economy while also retaining the goodwill of players who wish to experience these ships but have not the means to pay for what would be a fairly expensive bit of experience conversion. With HMS Hood, the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen already in the game, the addition of another veteran of the drama surrounding the sinking of the Bismarck will be very much welcomed by the history buffs amongst the community, as well as leaving Wargaming the option in future of using the Nelson-class as a regular ship in a ‘slow’ battleship line for the British in future. I was uncertain as to whether this should have been posted here or in the gameplay forum, so if a moderator would be so kind as to help move it if I've placed it in error, then I would very much appreciate it. To everyone reading this, I only ask that you be kind and constructive with your criticism. Thank you.