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Teekesselchen

Clan Battles: Ship Overview, Lineups, and the Meta Game

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My clan happened to be lucky enough to have enough players during the early stages of clan battles to climb into Typhoon 1 quickly. I lead our shotcalling for most of that time and could observe the development of the meta game from start to now. Since there the season is slowly coming to an end but many teams are still looking to fight there way up, I decided to give it my take on how the clan battle metagame has developed, which ships and lineups are used, and some general experiences we made.

 

Let us start with an overview of the ships. Some writers have tried to rank ships in a tier list, but we found that almost all ships are played successfully (although some ship classes allow for more versatility than others) since they offer different strengths and weaknesses. Only a few happen to be "strictly" inferior to other choices. I am sure many of you will have differing opinions, but the viability of ships turned out to be fairly conclusive in the higher leagues. Let's have a look:

 

Battleships

 

  • Common picks: Montana, Conqueror
  • Inferior picks: Yamato, Kurfürst

 

BBs tend to be rather similar, so the gradient from top to bottom is not that great. But because they all compete for a very similar role, small differences have a great impact in how optimal of a choice they are. You can certainly make all work for you to some degree, but you probably won't reach peak performance with the lower two.

 

  • Montana: Montana is the currently most played BB simply due to her firepower. You want to be able to deliver 10-20k salvos through cruiser bows and  punish any broadside. Against DDs you may get 8-10k dmg volleys as they turn away. These are the things Montana does the most reliably. Being able to punish enemy BBs for reckless turns is plenty enough, since they will rarely be your primary targets:
  • Conqueror: Conqueror holds the edge in moving up to more aggressive positions due to her concealment and heal, giving her more opportunities to exert pressure on enemy positions without having to fully commit. In return she suffers from much less reliable firepower than Montana. Her HE is useful for when there is an opportunity to focus down the enemy battleship, but that is rather situational.
  • Yamato:  When compared to Montana, Yamato's better accuracy and shell parameters do not make up for the loss of three guns. The ability to overmatch battleship bows is hardly relevant since bowcamping between BBs is a rarity - you will only get caught up in a hail of torpedoes and cruiser HE. Yamato especially suffers from a weakness in turning, since her turret rotation is slow and her citadel the most exposed of all T10 BBs. Yamato players tend to have to play very carefully and lose quite some power for it.
  • Kurfürst: The fast shell arcs and hydro are a benefit, but overall her weaknesses (concealment, maneuverability, size, dispersion) are just a little too much to consider her as a valid contender. Aganist the potent HE spam you tend to encounter, it can be difficult to get a Kurfürst into effective range as her armour scheme does not offer much of an advantage in the clan battle environment. The poor maneuverability around islands can also be a surprisingly relevant issue.

 

Destroyers

 

  • Common picks: Gearing, Z-52
  • Rare tech choices: Shimakaze, Khabarovsk
  • Pointless: Grozovoi

 

While there are clear cookiecutter favourites amongst DDs, there still is some variety in tech choices.

 

  • Gearing: Simply good at everything. Good at knifefighting, has solid torps with long range, and the best smoke. This makes her good in flanking positions or central open waters (for example in Mountain Range), where she can hold off enemy DDs and her smoke lets her establish team strongpoints  outside enemy radar range.
  • Z-52: Z-52 trades the smoking capability for a long-range hydro, which can be very useful for shutting down caps. This ability is especially used on Hotspot and Islands of Ice. If an enemy DD enters the cap, the hydro will lock them down behind an island, enabling allies to get flanking positions. In open waters, the limited 10.5 km torpedo range is a noteworthy disadvantage since you rarely get that close.
  • Shimakaze: Other than in random battles, Shima in clan battles commonly relies on 20 km torpedoes.  Her ability in knifefights tends to be underestimated quite a bit, but in the end she still doesn't compare favourably in this role. Shimakaze lineups often attempt to take control of the open waters to then focus down the enemy battleship by combining the torpedo threat with long-range HE spam (good role for the Conqueror). I found that teams have learned to contest the spaces between caps more heavily instead of focussing on the caps only, which puts a damper on this strategy.  Famously OMNI Strangers used the 20 km/gunboat Shima in this role in the early days of CBs.
  • Khabarovsk: Khaba's main role is taking caps quickly. On Mountain Range for example it's nice not to have to set a ship aside for too long to take your A/B cap. Afterwards her speed lets her gather information, or she can linger around an enemy cap to threaten to take it while the rest of the team pushes another flank. On EU I have only seen LOBUZ run it frequently, but to a respectable success.
  • Grozovoi: Grozovoi's strengths just don't fit very well into a clan battle environment, whereas her weaknesses (especially the large size and poor turning, which leave her an easy target) are devastating. In random battles she can farm great amounts of gun damage by firing from outside enemy gun angles or from a smoke, but in CB you won't get these opportunities very often. She doesn't have a good smoke, she runs an immense risk of getting absolutely wrecked in open water fights since you always have to count on supporting ships, and her torpedoes are nigh useless.

 

 

Cruisers

 

  • Backbone: Hindenburg, Des Moines
  • Supplementary: Moskva, Zao
  • Stylistic choice: Henri IV
  • Tech pick: Minotaur

 

Cruisers are where variety truly strikes. There may be cruisers commonly forming the backbones of all common lineups, but no cruiser is without a useful role.

 

  • Hindenburg: Hindenburg is the main fighting choice of virtually every lineup. She deals absurd damage and has great tankiness, which allow her to control large zones by raw power.  On EU, especially WGP2W went very heavy on Hindenburgs, running 3-4.
  • Des Moines: Des Moines is a prime choice to lock down caps and is often met on the "neutral" C-caps on Mountain Range and Hotspot. She tends to hug her island waifu especially tight, since she's a close/mid range DPS monster but very vulnerable to long range fire. So you usually want to have some spotting and deterrence in her area to make sure enemies can't get flanking shots on her.
  • Moskva: Long range radar, nice shell arcs, decently tanky. But her damage output is low, she is extremely vulnerable when her broadsides are ever exposed to fire, and can't turn unless she is perfectly covered. She generally plays a similar role to Des Moines but usually has to look out for positions further to the back.
  • Zao: Zao's infamous ability to decide fights between destroyers with her mix of great concealment, awesome arcs, and big HE alpha can be very relevant to some playstyles that look to cripple enemy DDs early. Others use her concealment and speed to put her in flanking positions, either in combination with or as a replacement for a destroyer. Her low HP pool leave her vulnerable in frontal engagements though.
  • Henri IV: She fulfills a similar flanking role to Zao, offering more speed and brute force in exchange for the concealment.
  • Minotaur: The rarest of CB cruisers. The only role I have ever seen her played in was as a stealth radar ship that ambushes destroyers foolish enough to get into her detection range, and zones out all the smarter ones. However this is the style used TWA, who secured #1 EU for a very long time with a no DD/Radar Minotaur lineup

 

On the eternal question of "range vs reload module", I found that Moskva and Hindenburg have a valid choice to make here just like in random battles. In some lineups Moskvas may be forced in positions where they may struggle with range. For Hindenburg it's a question between range for higher damage uptime, and reload for higher damage potential. Our Hindenburg specialist was able to use reload mod to its fullest, while I preferred range when filling in for him to increase pressure on the enemy battleship.

For the others it's much more simple: Range for Des Moines and Zao, reload for Henri and Minotaur.

 

 

Lineups

 

Finally, some commonly used lineups. It turns out that successful lineups generally used either two, one, or zero destroyers. Back when clan battles started some players thought about 3 destroyer/3 cruiser lineups, but those did not stand the test of time. In any case, I think going by destroyer numbers allows for a good broad categorisation.

 

Double DD Lineups

Common base: 1 Gearing, 1 Z-52, 1 Hindenburg, 1 Zao, 1 Des Moines, 1 Moskva, 1 Montana.  

 

This lineup tries to combine all the different strengths of plain strong ships. You will often find Zao and Gearing form a tag team on one flank, Montana in a central position, and Z-52 with some cruiser support lock down a neutral cap. Our clan used to run this exact lineup a lot for the first month or so, since it is very adaptable and good at reactive play. That makes it tough to win against better teams since it's not very good at forcing the enemy's hand, but very save when playing teams who you expect to beat through individual skill or shotcalling.

You can modify this lineup to your preferences by exchanging individual ships. WGP2W for example tweaked their lineup towards firepower and went with 3 Hindenburgs/1 Des Moines for cruisers, which is a smart choice as Z-52 can somewhat replace a radar on many maps. This way you almost have an in-between of a double and single DD lineup

.

Two DDs give good spotting utility, but you pay with low firepower. You have to set up vision advantages to make up for it. Sometimes this lineup allows you to counter enemy pushes by taking the enemy home cap with a sneaky destroyer. Double DD used to be the the defacto standard in EU for the first few weeks and is still played by good teams occasionally.

 

Single DD Lineups

I preferr Gearing with these lineups since you will generally use a double radar setup to lock down one cap. This leaves your DD to set up advanced strongpoints which can crossfire or isolate enemies.

Against double DD lineups you can play rather aggressively due to your firepower advantage and you can often win even after losing a cruiser first, but losing your DD may cripple you. Against no DD lineups you have a distinct utility advantage while not falling too far behind in raw force.

 

Overall, single DD lineups are currently the most popular in high ranks.

 

DD-less Lineups

Lineups without DDs are quite tricky. Naively played they will get shot at from enemies they cannot effectively retaliate against, and get whittled down. Well played they can zone out enemy spotting at first, then come back from a score deficit with decisive pushes that plain outgun the enemy. I have only ever seen them succeed with a stealthy radar Minotaur to zone or kill destroyers - which turns out to be not so radically different from a destroyer's role, since Minotaur's firepower contribution usually isn't all that important.

TWA played this lineup with up to 5 radars (such as 2-3 Des Moines, 1-2 Hindenburg, 1 Moskva, 1 Minotaur) to make up for the loss in utility, but also ran firepower heavy versions with 4 Hindenburgs (which, in my experience, where less successful).

 

Matchups

I generally found that having one more destroyer than the enemy is a benefit, but playing 2 vs 0 DDs puts you into too much of a gunfight disadvantage. Overall I preferr the single DD lineups as a compromise between active/aggressive and reactive/passive gameplay.

 

Videos

 

For a glimpse into high level play, I can recommend WGP2W Athothek's youtube channel (he usually plays cruiser, often Hindenburg or Des Moines) and OMNI Flambass' Twitch VODs and Livestreams. Both of them are capable players on persistent top ranking clans.


Notes/Edits

 

  • As WGP2W noted, some of the information is rather old as fewer teams play double DD now (which was the de facto baseline for the first 2-3 weeks in EU, but now is one choice amongst many) and they no longer run the 2 DD/3 Hindenburg style.
  • The question of what setup to choose depends a lot on individual players. One reason we ran the "double DD/one of all" setup for so long was that our Hindenburg player could hardcarry the damage portion. In times when he was less active, we ran into trouble on that front and switched to more damage heavy lineups. Single DD relieves some of the pressure on your cruisers to deal damage, but might require safer DD player. You also might run into pressure in other points as some of your cruisers now have to make due without dedicated destroyer supports. You have to replace information with pressure, and know how to account for plays that you might not be able to spot.
  • On individual play: Keep in mind how many ships on each team are (effectively) engaging the enemy at a given time. When the enemy outnumbers your active ships, your team might be in trouble and you might need to look for a way to get active yourself. If  that's not the case, don't freak out about not being in action. You can use the time to hold a key area or to prepare some other maneuver. To get into higher tiers, the first step is not making hasty decisions that get you killed.
  • On individual play II: Learn to hold your fire when you can't win a damage exchange. Too many players engage enemy ships in losing fights for no reason. When two Hindenburgs push your Zao around, the Zao doesn't *have* to shoot back if she can get undected. This is basic stuff both for random and team battles, yet a common error.
  • On range module on Hindenburg: Our Hindenburg player just broke up with me.

 

This overview was originally posted to Reddit.

 

  • Cool 3

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3 hours ago, lobuzjeden said:

 

We gave up with khaba. It was super useful in lower leagues or vs weaker teams, but best teams always know where Khaba will be on different maps (it's not hard to guess;) ) and send there Zao. Zao is ultimate anti-khaba ship with the same spotting range, so the gameplay on Khaba looks like spot Zao->get 8k salvo->run away to 11km->Zao disappears-> go back-> spot Zao-> get 8k salvo-> run away -> Zao disappears:D Second thing is speed tanking - it works well vs 95% of players, but best players from best clans can hit Khaba from 15km on Zao or Hindies. I found khaba super useful vs Moskvas/DM or vs weaker players, but Hindie/Zao/Henry can counter Khaba very easily.
Still, it's not bad choice, but there are better picks.
We have tested lineup with 6x Khaba and Montana, we lost 3 battles (still don't know it was lineup wrong, or just our alcohol level during weekend:P) and won 1 battle vs OP clan. I was funny because they called us retarded on start of battle and then they lost^^


Currently testing no dd lineups (Montana, 2x DM, 2x Hindie, Zao, Minotaur). It works pretty well but playing Minotaur is very hard. 1 wrong choice, 1 salvo and Mino is submarine. The problem with testing is that almost no one wants to play CW anymore - 95%+ of players finished missions so we are waiting for final week of CW to climb up a bit in ranks.

IMHO reliable lineup is with 2x DDs, Gearing + Z-52, Mino and Khaba are to situational. Our second team was playing with 1 DD, but I didn't tested it.

 

Oh my, Lobuzjeden himself, thanks for response :D

 

The Typhoon 1 meta seems to have settled on one DD. Double DD is reliable against worse teams because they can't ever surprise you, but against good teams it's difficult to make up for the firepower difference. The  Hindenburg(s) have to work double to make up for it. The better teams have become too good at denying destroyers from spotting, and at pressuring cruisers so that the second DD has a hard time carrying its weight.

 

We tried no DD ourselves as well, but it requires players who are good at making choices even without seeing the enemy, and some of us couldn't cope with that. The Mino usually did well enough, it was more about other players  going back and forth while taking pointless damage.

 

Looks like all the good clans are struggling with getting good lineups together anymore so the level of play has declined quite a bit. They're all running ragtag lineups with lots of unexperienced players now. Can be pretty frustrating for the more experienced ones, when they keep losing games for stupid unforced errors.

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Nice summary, and pretty useful guide for less experienced clans that want to improve. 

 

Seems the Typhoon 1 meta has settled around the 1DD / 2radar / 2dpm / 1flanker / 1 montana or conq setup.

 

In mid season we had great success with no DD - full dpm cruiser setup that encouraged aggressive gameplay which i like. After some time the meta settled to be more consistent with cap pressure with 1 DD, thus it became much more static, which I dislike. It started to look like Sunday randoms BB campfest.

 

Somewhat lately we struggle to perform consistently. Maybe its the meta, maybe we got tired of the repetativeness...

 

Even though I am not a CV player I hope WG will (re)introduce them in CB, as they can "speed up" and force active gameplay.

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On 18.12.2017 at 11:26 AM, Exohoritis said:

Nice summary, and pretty useful guide for less experienced clans that want to improve. 

 

Seems the Typhoon 1 meta has settled around the 1DD / 2radar / 2dpm / 1flanker / 1 montana or conq setup.

 

In mid season we had great success with no DD - full dpm cruiser setup that encouraged aggressive gameplay which i like. After some time the meta settled to be more consistent with cap pressure with 1 DD, thus it became much more static, which I dislike. It started to look like Sunday randoms BB campfest.

 

Somewhat lately we struggle to perform consistently. Maybe its the meta, maybe we got tired of the repetativeness...

 

Even though I am not a CV player I hope WG will (re)introduce them in CB, as they can "speed up" and force active gameplay.

 

 

Thanks!

 

In the late season we had our best performances by running double Zao. We went with Gearing,  Montana, 2x Des Moines, 1x Hindenburg, 2x Zao. This gave us a 15 game win streak into the top 5. The basic playstyle worked roughly like this:

 

  • Put the DD into a position as central as possible (right in the center on Hotspot, Mountain Range, Islands of Ice, near the contested C cap on Sea of Fortune) to gain control and information before commiting to a cap.
  • Keep Hindenburg and Montana in a central position to react to anything.
  • Use the Des Moines to shut down caps. We split them on Islands of Ice and Sea of Fortune, but kept them together at C cap on Hotspot and Mountain Range.
  • Use the Zaos' concealment for the main action. They are the first to make contact in defense (then they can just kite away and provide vision/flanking threat), or the ones to get firing angles around the flanks.

 

On Hotspot for example we would keep one Zao on the volcano side, while the other one pushes to the far east around C. There it would usually contest with other cruisers around getting flanking shots onto the DDs in C. The Des Moines and DD shut down C as much as possible. Montana and Hindenburg provided additional firing angles into C, and the potential to defend against any pushes by staying around the home cap (A/B). This gave us enough flexibility to take C fast to defend our home base in time, or to win any contest for C.

Zao was very useful on both sides. On the west it could spot an enemy push and kite it for a long time. On the east it was quick to get behind C and could easily outspot Hindenburgs which often tried to flank around there. I could often hold off two Hindenburgs there, until the enemy made a desperation push into C and then usually lost to the crossfire that Monti/Hinden provided.

 

On Islands of Ice we had 1 Zao 1 Des Moines defending the northern flank, with the option of pushing if we found out that the enemy didn't also at least have two cruisers there. Monti and Hinden sat around the center again to provide firing angles against the popular DD covers inside C, and to react to any northern pushes. Hindenburg often ended up coming down to C though. One Des Moines sat ready to radar C (which, again, often gave us free damage or kills on inexperienced DD players). The DD spotted center, or capped C if we found that the enemy didn't have sufficient C cover.

Here the southern Zao was very useful again, because with ships in the center and the south there is no save spot for DDs inside C. Hindenburgs could do the job so-so, but again they get outspotted and they are pretty slow to get there. In the north Zao would have been more replaceable because they weren't great on the offense. On the defense it could be super effective though, although there is some risk.

Much like on Hotspot our usual win condition was to win the contest around C, for which we had 5 ships in action. But we still had the position to defend our home base relatively comfortably.

 

Mountain Range played a whole lot differently. In this map we tried very hard to get the DD hitpoint advantage. We locked down C with both Des Moines and had one Zao take our home base (A/B). The other Zao, Hindenburg, and Montana all followed Gearing into the center to get a favourable exchange with the enemy DD, which we almost always got. If we didn't we could put down a smoke there for our cruisers to establish control. Often we could pressure the enemy BB from this spot.

From there on we would usually put the Zaos on the western flank to build pressure towards the enemy home base. Montana and Hinden stayed around the center, and Gearing would spot for one of these groups as needed. Sometimes we could push the enemy far enough until they had no angles on C anymore. Often we simply outplayed them on the western flank because they couldn't deal with the combination of concealment and firepower that the Zaos provided. Ships like Moskva and Des Moines were especially outmatched, while Hindenburg was just too visible. Against other Zaos we would often rely on our DD instead.

 

Sea of Fortune finally was the only map that we played fundamentally differently depending on our spawn side. From the north we would put heavy duty on C. We would push it with Gearing, 1 Zao, 1 Des Moines, and Montana. Sometimes even the Hindenburg helped out. This is because C was very hard to defend from the south. Moskvas were our favourite targets, often sitting behind the island far south of C where they are vulnerable to focus fire from Hinden/Montana, and crossfire from the west. 

We kept one Des Moines and one Zao on the west flank. Sometimes we would put both Zaos there, or one Zao one Hindenburg. Des Moines took to the islands north of A/B, where it could radar any attempts to cap A and provide crossfire towards C. If we had only one Zao there, it would just go all the way west to spot and delay enemy pushes, or to reset the A cap. If we had Zao and Hindenburg, we pushed them up a  little more aggressively until we knew exactly where the enemy team was positioned. In that case we often just held C while pressuring the west flank.

 

On the southern spawn we switched it up. We put both Des Moines west - one directly south of A/B, and one to the western islands. In addition we put one Zao and the Hindenburg there. We kept Gearing, 1 Zao, and Montana for C, which were often able to hold that cap for a surprisingly long time.

With this setup we could secure A from the western side, so we weren't too worried about the enemy getting C. From there on we could often get kills on the enemy west flank, or pincer Des Moines/Moskvas north of A in a crossfire with our C group.

 

I think running two Zaos fit perfectly to our information reliant style. We would never push on the hope to catch the enemy on a weak flank like many teams did. We always tried to secure an equilibrium and then slowly choke the enemy out with superior vision and firing angles. We were almost always prepared if the enemy tried big pushes. Especially against the no DD style we got really confident.

 

Against other lineups we found:

 

  • Firepower heavy lineups (say lineups with only 1 Zao but multiple Hindenburgs) were relatively easy to outplay with Zao's ability to outspot the enemy
  • No DD lineups were often all about that one doom push. Kite that one out, and it's fine.
  • Double DD lineups could beat our Zao defense, but it just took them way too long. On Hotspot for example, they could push the west flank and threaten our center position with smoke and torps from there. But before they could actually force kills or get our home cap, we had C already secured with our superior firepower, and were able to move our DD back home to shut the push down.
  • Moskvas were a huge weakness. On many occasions we just positioned ourselves to get as many firing angles on a Moskva as possible, and whittled them down from save positions. If they got undetected they were usually so isolated that they couldn't help out their teammates anymore. Apparently NA had such a thing as open water Moskvas, but those have no concealment and poor DPS so I don't see the point.
  • Single radar was too weak at holding caps.
  • Cool 2

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Why is my Hindenburg and other Tier X locked for clan battles. I am not in a clan and wont not play clan battles either? They gave me another ships but even they are locked. What do i have to do for get my ships back?

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