This is the guide to becoming a better carrier player, a guide I would have wanted when I started playing CV’s. This guide will not be for those who have never played CV’s. I will not be explaining the controls, and I will only slightly touch on the consumables. This is for the more serious players, who want to become good CV players. I hope it will be of help to you. Have fun! 1: Introduction To clarify; in order to become a better player, this guide can help, but it can’t do it for you. Practice makes perfect, any experience is good experience. But most importantly: Have fun. It is almost impossible to keep something up if you’re not enjoying it. Question yourself: is this ship type for me? Or even: is this game for me? If yes, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get you started.   1.2 Basic rules To start off, let’s look at a couple basic rules that are vital in carrier gameplay: 1: Time to target is everything Travel time is killer. In order to have the maximum impact on a game, you need to make as many attacks per minute as possible. Push for a minimum of 1 attack per minute. Once you’ve got that down, try for 1.5 attacks per minute. Keep a notepad beside you with a pen. Make a tick every time you launch ordnance at an enemy (regardless if it hits or not—but it has to be one that you tried to hit). Then check the game duration at the end. Most people greatly over-estimate your average attacks per minute. Make sure to ride your boost continuously to fly as quick as possible. But don’t hold down W all the time, feather your boost button. Boost, let it recover for a second, boost again. You need to have it available if there’s fighters or AA that you need to avoid.   Most importantly, ploink your carrier as close to the enemy ships as you dare. The shorter the time between attacks, the more attacks you will do. It doesn’t help dying fast though. Make sure you have an exit strategy, and turn tail before its too late. Also, never-ever trust autopilot. It will mess up the most basic maneuvers. Make sure to ‘babysit’ it by adding multiple waypoints (hold shift and click to add more) or better yet, do complicated maneuvers yourself inbetween attacks. So, don’t run to the backline instantly. Don’t hang around forever, waiting for the perfect attack run. Good enough is good enough. Attack, attack, attack. That’s the key to carrier gameplay!   2: There is always something else Now, what do you do when there are only uninviting targets? Iowa’s, Worcesters, Des Moines and ships escorted by AA cruisers. Answer: You ignore ‘em, look for something else. There’s always something else, you just don’t see it yet. I will explain target selection in more detail later in this guide.   3: Supporting teammates Unless there is some chad player on your side that you KNOW will shoot at what you spot, don’t waste time spotting targets for your team. Think of how many times you’ve stuck your neck out in a DD, spotted enemies that need killing but your team keeps lobbing shells at the battleship at the back. If you’re fortunate, your attack runs will coincide with spotting ships. 2: Materiel Now for materiel, the actual ship you’re sailing and aircraft you are flying. First, let’s take a look at what each tier of Aircraft carriers offers. TIER IV: This is where everyone starts with their aircraft carriers. The anti-aircraft at this tier is minimal, and so is your damage potential. However, with 0.8.5 the tier IV carriers are hopelessly OP. Club seals at your own discretion. TIER VI: Tier VI is like its predecessor, a learning tier. This is like getting your first bike, but with sidewheels. You start learning the real deal, but you’ve got a long way to go yet. TIER VIII: Early effectiveness. This is a path to your tier X, and I will not focus on them in detail (except for premiums). This is where your sidewheels are removed, and you are finally able to spread your wings (pun intended) and explore the limits of the CV class. But remember, you’re still on a children’s bike. TIER X: The pinnacle of carrier design and gameplay. Brutal AA and smart opponents make this a very tough playground. It is however, the best way to master a carrier line. If you are thinking of getting a new carrier, here is a short overview of each line:    United States Navy  Imperial Japanese Navy   Royal Navy Kriegsmarine Difficulty: ★★ Difficulty: ★★★ Difficulty: ★★ Difficulty: ★★★ + High potential ++ Extremely high potential +/- Decent potential + High potential +/- Decent plane health - Low plane health + high plane health - Low plane health - low plane speed + High plane speed +/- Decent plane speed ++ Extremely high plane speed +/- Decent plane reserves +/- Decent plane reserves - Low plane reserves - Low plane reserves   And an overview the premiums. First the good ones:   Enterprise Kaga Difficulty: ★★ Difficulty: ★ ++ Extremely high potential + High potential +/- Decent plane health - Low plane health - low plane speed +/- Decent plane speed + Large plane reserves ++ Extremely large plane reserves (Comes from the quick replenishment time)   Saipan Graf Zeppelin  Indomitable Difficulty: ★★★ Difficulty: ★★★ Difficulty: ★ +/- Decent potential +/- Decent potential - Low potential + high plane health - Low plane health + high plane health + High plane speed + High plane speed ++ Extremely high plane speed -- Extremely low plane reserves - Low plane reserves - Low plane reserves   And last but not least, the tier VI premiums. Ark Royal Erich Loewenhardt Difficulty: ★★ Difficulty: ★★ +/- Decent potential +/- Decent potential +/- Decent plane health - Low plane health - low plane speed + High plane speed +/- Decent plane reserves - Low plane reserves   Now for the raw gameplay. This is mainly about judgement and vision. If you think high level carrier gameplay is easy, think again. 3: Gameplay How I approach a match: 1.      Check your matchmaking, check for strong AA ships and identify your targets. 2.      First, launch rockets for scouting. 3.      Fly in, make sure to bail immediately when you spot strong AA ships 4.      Target Destroyers if possible  (ESPECIALLY if they have AA turned on). When you can't find any, just strike something else. 5.      Decide what target to go for. When unclear, go for another scouting run. Make sure to target DD’s as much as possible early on, to give your DD’s the upper hand. 6.      Scan the map for inviting targets. See the next section for Target Selection. Rince and repeat.   3.1: Target selection This is probably the most important skill of a CV player. Being able to select the target that you are most effective at killing, and making sure to keep ‘winning players’ in check. If one enemy ship is holding back an entire flank, it might be a good idea to give him some pressure. Equally, when a flank is about to fall, give fighter cover to your allies and wear down the enemies. This of course depends on the distance to target. The closer, the better. Always make sure you use your carrier as effectively as possible. Don’t listen to your teammates here, YOU know how to use your carrier best, not your teammate. Things to consider when selecting your target: 1: Type of target 1.      Does it have strong AA? 2.      Is it big or slow enough to ensure a hit? 3.      How much health does it have (left)? 4.      Is it susceptible to weapons I have? 5.      Can the team kill this target without my help? 2: position of target 1.      How far away is my target? 2.      Is it close to strong AA ships/under fighter cover? 3.      How much influence has the target on the game? (prioritize enemies that are doing well) 4.      Is it moving, or unable or unwilling to move? 5.      How close is my target to other points of interest? (unspotted DD’s or other juicy targets) All this is different in every situation, so you will have to judge and learn yourself.       3.2 Map awareness Another major part of carrier gameplay is carrier placement. Getting yourself in the best possible position every time, without exposing yourself to unessecary danger. This is not a simple feat. It is heavily dependent on the map where you slam your carrier down. Make sure you anticipate falling flanks, by moving up or retreating. As a final note, DO NOT TRUST AUTOPILOT! it is on the enemy team, and will try to kill you. Do complicated maneuvers yourself, and give autopilot very specific instructions on where to move if you’re in open water.   3.3 AA mechanics   Now for one of the most complicated parts about CV gameplay; Anti-aircraft. These mechanics have been rattled countless times, but it's finally starting to slow down. With that said, here is a compressed and oversimplified overview of current AA mechanics (as of patch 0.9.7). DPS: (linear) With 100 DPS at 70% hit chance (100*70)=70 DPS.  Sector reinforcement affects only DPS. FLAK: (non-linear) With 10 base flak clouds and 70% hit chance, it will mostly be 7 bursts, 10 is maximum number and 4 is minimum. Every two seconds, a salvo is launched   Flak zones: With a single ship AA, 80% of flak bursts (but not more than 6) is being placed in zone A. Rest goes to B zones. If there are several ships firing, the rules are slightly different: up to 8 bursts can be placed in zone A, and up to 10 bursts in B zones. The most powerful burst are being chosen in this case. If a single AA group has multiple squadrons in range, flak bursts that would have been in B zone otherwise, are distributed into A zones so that AA covers all squadrons. The zone width is determined by your course and speed: Speeding up:      wide (zone X1) Slowing down:  narrow (zone X2)   Depends on how fast you are going - it takes time to accellerate and decellerate.   If you are interested in the topic of AA, the wiki has a pretty good article on it: https://wiki.wargaming.net/en/Ship:Anti-Aircraft_Fire If you're interested, I also compiled the AA of all tier VIII - X ships in text files:
TIER X AA TIER IX AA TIER VIII AA 3.4 General tips This is the big thing. How do you get the absolute most out of your CV? Here I wil list some tricks I’ve picked up over my time as a CV main. If you don’t recognize one of these points, I recommend looking in to and potentially learning them. 1: Pre-drop Standard, every carrier gets between 3-4 attacks per full plane squadron (differs per carrier). However, you will usually only get one attack off. This is fine, if you instantly recall your aircraft (see point 3) or fly out of AA to recall, you'll keep all of those aircraft, great! But sometimes, you have to make an attack (maybe to kill off an enemy) through AA that you know will kill your aircraft. In that case, pre-dropping (wasting one or two attacks into the water) will make 1-2 flights return to the carrier, which will save them from certain destruction Wether or not to predrop is up to your own judgement 2: Flak dodging The basic practise of flying around the black flak clouds. They hurt alot, but are relatively easy to dodge, unless there are too many ships firing at your planes. Simple WASD-hacks and some good ‘ol intuition will get you through any AA umbrella. Once you engage your attack mode, you won’t have to worry about flak anymore, as its damage is reduced by 80%. If you are struggling with this, don’t worry. Flak dodging will become second nature with experience.   3: Supporting teammates This is a touchy subject. Many people see CV’s as the one to protect them or their DD’s from enemy air attacks. The truth is that fighter gameplay is very limited, and a simple consumable is no deterrent for many CV’s. Add to that the average intelligence of teammates in WoWs… This is why I never prioritize covering teammates with fighters. I will only help them if I don’t need to change my plans for it. There is no use flying over a DD for 2 minutes, spotting and popping fighters, just for them to rush out and die to torps. No… your planes are better used elsewhere. This is not to say you may never spot for your team, or never prioritze DD’s, but don’t go out of your way to do it. Just do whatever the hell you want, be it helping your teammates or doing damage. Never listen to your teammate, as selfish as that may sound. 4: Consumables One different use for your fighters is to spot enemies, or keep DD’s spotted. Just be careful that it won’t be shot down. Try to let the fighters survive the full 60s. You have two other consumables, are Engine boost and Torpedo heal. Engine boost is extremely useful. Try to save it for when you really need it. Torpedo heal is easy. Use when your planes reach low health or when you really need to tank some damage. ‘nuff said. Also try to save this for when you really need it.   5: AA baiting This tactic is surprisingly effective, its the practise of letting AA target the initial attack squadron.   After a drop, if you INSTANTLY press F, all planes will pretty much slingshot back up into the immunity altitude. It helps if you go full speed at the end of your drop. Keep in mind, if the AA DPS is too heavy, it will have ample time to shoot down the aircraft reaches its ‘safe altitude’.   This trick works especially well with dive bombers, but it works great with torpedo bombers too. Try this out for yourself, it might come in handy one day. 6: Slingshot (OUTDATED) Slingshot! A feared word in the ears of many cruiser captain. Slingshot! A argument brought up most often during CV discussions. But what is it really? To start off with, wasn't slingshot removed a few patches ago? Well yes, but actually no. Although slingshot with bombers isn't possible anymore in the way we're used to, it still works just as well with torpedo bombers and even rocket planes. Therefore it is still a useful skill to pick up.   First let's start off with the mechanic itself, this video here can explain to you how it works:   I will kindly use Yuro’s video to explain this mechanic. Click here to go to his video   All credit goes to Yuro   There is another use of this mechanic, besides slinging 'into' AA of ships. You can sling 'out' of the AA of ships. Imagine, you spot a Worcester at 6km firing at you with all guns blazing, DFAA on. Here the slingshot can be of very good use. The normal way of flying out is simply turning, and speeding away, evading flak as you go. This might lose you 1-3 aircraft (depending on how long you stay in AA).   An alternative is to immediately start an attack run. If you keep turning heavily throughout the turn, you will fly up, drop, and shoot out of the AA zone. This might save you 1-2 extra aircraft than you would otherwise. This is why slingshot is still a useful skill to learn, and I'd recommend at least knowing about it.   7: 'Cold' side of sector With the addition of the priority sector, you can take less damage from AA by simply flying on the other side of the sector reinforcement. This trick only works (well) with dive bombers. You do this trick by approaching at an angle to the enemies' bow. Once the AA opens up and you see the burst damage from priority sector, you change course and approach from the other side of his ship. You'll take notably less damage, make sure to put this to good use!