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World of Warships - Survival in IJN DD's - A Detailed, Advanced Guide

Survival in IJN DDs - A detailed, advanced guide

Survival in IJN DDs - A detailed, advanced guide by  by sBcNikita
The IJN line demands skilled, experienced commanders. You might be able to shoot your way out of a mistake in your Gnevny or Benson, but if you screw up critically in a Mutsuki or a TRB Kagero you will probably not make it out alive.
To excel in the line, you need more awareness and better decision-making ability than the average DD player. You must constantly reevaluate the tactical situation according to evolving factors.

Before you begin--TRB versus smoke
For the Shiratsuyu, Kagero, and Yugumo, IJN DD players are presented with an interesting choice between smoke and the torpedo-reload-booster consumable.
TRB takes the requirement for good decision-making in IJN DDs and multiplies it by five. Mistakes will be costly or fatal. Without the benefit of smoke you will only break detection by running.
In my opinion however, every DD that faces the TRB/Smoke choice already has the concealment it needs to generally survive without smoke. With Shiratsuyu, Kagero, and Yugumo, smoke has always been a get-out-of-jail-free card. If your game awareness is good enough that you don’t need to lean on that emergency crutch, then you are sacrificing relatively little in losing smoke, while TRB represents a very, very potent increase in your damage-dealing potential (especially if you are actually good with torpedoes--see my earlier torpedo marksmanship guide for tips).
Nor is smoke always advantageous for your survival. In some cases (plane-spotted, cruiser pushed within your detection range) it merely prolongs your inevitable demise if you can’t leave the cloud anymore without being immediately seen. In other cases (radar, torpedo soup) it may actually increase your vulnerability by fixing you in a stationary location.
Consequently, I advocate taking TRB over smoke in all cases. There is no point to playing smoke Yugumo for instance. Fletcher beats it handily in most respects. Only by min-maxing with TRB does your ship become differentiated from the competition, capable of reaching its full and unique potential.

What to do at the start of the match
The game has started, you’ve just opened the throttle. What develops over the next few minutes might literally decide whether or not your ship lives or dies.
  1. turn your AA off immediately. Even an instant of air detection may be fatal. At best, you give away your location unnecessarily and reduce your ability to stealth torpedo effectively.
  2. Check your ammunition selection. If you died pumping AP into a cruiser’s hull in your last game, you’ll want to make sure you have HE selected for the initial DD encounter.
  3. As you accelerate, check the map, the team lineups, and the positions of friendly ships, and make your decision which, if any, cap to contest.
The first minute of a match is critical to the outcome. Taking advantage of the early moments to pick your initial course of action and coordinate with your team can be decisive.
  • Identify where the team will need you and where you can contribute best. A smoke-less Shiratsuyu, for example, cannot contribute to taking the center caps on Haven in Domination. You are best off finding torpedo opportunities on a flank. Spawning as an Akizuki on Haven in a 3 DD vs 3 DD game, however, you are most useful backing up one of your two DDs.
  • Communicate early and often. Suggest an overall team strategy. Call for cover. Request radar support. Buddy up with a gunboat DD.
  • Know when your plan is a lost cause. Recognize when the risks are too great and concede the cap. A cap can be retaken, but your ship can’t be resurrected.

Early-game cap contesting--approaching the cap:
  • As you approach and enter the cap, keep a constant eye out for enemy radar ships, DDs, and planes. Don’t just wait for them to be spotted--actively think about where they might be. As enemy DDs appear across the map, use process of elimination to update your potential matchup. (Enable the “last known location” and “display ship names” options on your minimap in the minimap options, if you haven’t already. Click the gears next to the minimap.).
  • Are you located via RPF? If so, avoid traveling in a straight line on your approach to the cap. A skilled opponent might try and launch a predictive wave of torps that could catch you off guard.
  • Check your torpedo cooldown. Many DDs, especially at higher tiers, might not have your initial salvo ready yet by the time you reach the first zone.
  • Update your assessment of friendly support. Have your radar cruisers bailed on you? Did your friendly fighters get insta-killed by the red CV’s strafe? Again, if the situation looks suddenly dire, don’t be too proud to bail.

Early-game cap contesting--inside the cap:
This excellent single-image guide by /u/OhNoThatSucks concisely summarizes some common early mistakes that DD players make, as well as the correct optimal behavior. I outline his take-aways below:
  • Don’t bunch up with a friendly DD in the same cap, especially in the same smoke cloud. A serving of torpedo soup later and you’re on your way back to port and your team is down two destroyers.
  • Whatever you do, do not pop your first smoke until you are SPOTTED. Smoke before you are spotted and every enemy ship within range will launch torpedoes into your cloud. Smoking may also leave you vulnerable to radar or a German DD, and critically also removes any spotting that you were providing for your teammates.
  • Enter the cap in a way that leaves you with at least one quick way out. If the threat level is high, consider backing into the cap zone to facilitate escape. The somewhat more aggressive approach is to enter the cap along the rim at a shallow angle. This forces the enemy DD to cross the cap to find you, while turning your full gun battery and torpedo tubes to the enemy, and still gives you the flexibility of pushing forwards if the opportunity presents itself.
  • Make sure terrain isn’t blocking your escape. Pick the direction and orientation that permits a fast escape, leaving ample room for maneuvers if possible.
I will add an obvious but necessary point of my own:
Never drive directly into a contested cap, bow-in. Loads of DD players complain about their inability to escape from a Fletcher or Gearing in an IJN DD due to the latter branch’s long turn times.
The solution is simple--you should try to never be in a position where you need to execute a full 180 to escape, ever. If you suspect an enemy DD, don’t go bow-in. Approach at an angle. If you suspect radar, don’t go bow-in. Approach at an angle. If you expect planes, don’t go bow-in. Etc…
How aggressively you push into the enemy should always be directly related to the threat level against you. We all make mistakes, but generally speaking, you should be prepared enough that a simple 90-degree turn away is all you ever need to do to escape a serious threat.

The opening destroyer skirmish
In a duel to the death, assuming equal skill, consumable availability, etc… an IJN DD is typically at a disadvantage.
However, the opening DD duel is generally NOT a straight duel to the death.
On the contrary, both DD captains are hoping for a long, productive game with lots of caps and juicy damage. Both players are hoping to minimize detection and HP loss in the early game. In a real match, that Minsk doesn’t generally have the luxury of charging into your supporting cruiser fire to find your Mutsuki in your smoke.
I believe that the opening destroyer skirmish is arguably played in a different manner compared to other DD knifefights later in the game.
Before we begin, I’ll first clarify that a TRB IJN DD should not attempt to openly fire upon an enemy DD in the cap unless combat is unavoidable. A TRB DD should contest the cap passively, with an escape route close at hand and with the support of friendly ships that can dissuade an enemy DD from closing to engage you. TRB DDs should prioritize survival primarily--your impact on the match occurs in a different manner than most other DDs, and requires that you survive to the mid and late-game to ensure that you can make maximum use of your torpedoes.
So now, turning to the non-TRB IJN ships, in the opening fight, your goals are fourfold (in no particular order):
  • Drive the enemy from the cap
  • Avoid detection if possible
  • Break detection if detected
  • Trade HP favorably with the enemy DD.
The two factors that your immediate decision-making hinges on are 1) whether you have been detected, and 2) whether you have fired your guns. Firing your guns within sight of the enemy places your detection radius at your maximum gun range for 20 seconds, during which you will have to strain and dodge heroically to avoid damage.
An IJN torpedo-based DD typically enjoys a sizable stealth advantage over hostile DDs, and can even drive an enemy DD from the cap zone without firing a shot. In some matchups, this translates to an absurd advantage. Assuming that each of you have a cruiser or two in support, he might be pummeled mercilessly trying to find you while you take no damage.
If your opponent chickens out and smokes before sighting you, then great. You can try to torpedo him in his cloud (use narrow spread please). He is now vulnerable to being pinned by friendly aircraft or lit up by friendly radar, and the incoming direction of his torpedoes is now obvious. You have also denied his team his spotting. Your response should be to simply sit in the cap, keeping careful track of other threats, torpedoing away to your heart’s content.
If he continues charging towards you, stay cool. Allow him to take additional damage from your support fire. Then, just seconds before he will inevitably detect you, open fire early. This lets you get in the first salvo--by the time he fully reacts, your guns will almost be ready to fire again. With two six-barrel broadsides, that might easily be a free 2500 HP traded in your favor.
As he finally sees you, wait for him to fire his first salvo before you smoke. You will take a shot or two, but you will drop out of detection soon afterwards, while he will remain detected for up to the next 20 seconds by any allies if your smoke did not obscure vision of him. You will be able to use their spotting to pummel him with additional salvos until he smokes.
If you suspect he may be continuing to push your smoke, consider whether you can win the resulting knife fight based on your and his support, and decide to hold your ground or retreat. Against German hydro, if you decide to fight, you will want to abandon your smoke and regain vision of his ship.
Summary: A conservatively-played IJN DD with even modest support can be tricky to locate in a cap, making you well-positioned to trade HP favorably in the early stages of the game. Support from other ships is particularly useful for you--you can often win most initial HP exchanges.

Mid-game positioning and decision-making
  • Mind your distance to enemy ships. Leave a safety buffer for slow ships, and increase that buffer for faster ships. Fast cruisers like the French CAs can be especially hazardous. If enemy DDs are not visible, predict where they are now and treat those areas with caution.
  • Give islands and smoke a buffer distance as well, as detailed in the single-image guide linked earlier. You don’t want to blunder into an unexpected close-quarters encounter.
  • In general, continually keep tabs on your biggest threats--enemy destroyers, aircraft, and radar. Where are their destroyers? How much HP do they have? Act accordingly--if you are low HP and they are healthy, behave with caution. If they are on the verge of death, hunt them.
  • Constantly re-evaluate where your torpedoes are needed. As an IJN DD, you are well equipped to solve a few problems in particular--you are naturally strong when defending an open flank that the enemy team is pushing, you punish red capital ship blobs, you punish bow-tanking BBs, and you punish smoke cruisers. Identify priority targets, and predict where priority targets will be when your next salvo becomes available.
  • Maximizing hit probability with torpedoes is as much about positioning as it is about torpedo marksmanship. Without wasting too much time flanking, attempt to position yourself so that your primary targets are traveling as close to broadside as possible, to maximize the likelihood of and the number of torp hits.
  • When repositioning to launch torpedo volleys against oncoming ships, make a U-turn away from the enemy when in doubt, not in. This prevents you from accidentally getting too close. You can always close the distance again later.
  • Keep in mind that wide flanks to assassinate an enemy carrier or catch a battleship blob by surprise cost a great deal in terms of time… ask yourself if it’s worth it, and make sure your team will not be overwhelmed while you are off on a solo adventure.
  • Overall, keep an eye on the big picture--don’t get tunnel-visioned into thinking only about your next torpedo salvo. How is your team doing? Are objectives available for capture? Remain aware of how you can help your team by maintaining spotting of that retreating cruiser, or screening for an enemy destroyer.
  • Lastly, if you are being hovered by enemy planes, do please turn on your AA whenever the squadron is inside your base air detection range. You will kill a plane or two eventually, and that may either a) cause a skittish pilot to pull the planes back, or b) be enough to kill the spotter/fighter/squadron. At any rate, it can’t possibly hurt at this point, so don’t be the captain who leaves his AA off while remaining perma-spotted.

DD fights at midrange
When you suddenly encounter an enemy DD at midrange, your goal as an IJN DD captain is often to break detection again as soon as possible.
  • If you will certainly remain detected for the next 20 seconds no matter what you do, open fire. If you believe you can break detection before 20 seconds are up, hold fire. Update this estimate with every salvo. Often, if the enemy is just at the edge of your detection radius, you can break sight quickly and your guns should remain quiet.
  • Become an expert with your guns. If you can reliably hit the majority of shells on every salvo at 5-7 km and continue to score hits beyond that distance, you can often trade HP favorably, particularly against DDs with poor arcs or against less-skilled opponents. Develop the skill to win fights that you theoretically shouldn’t, so that you can seize the opportunity if facing an inferior player.
  • When dodging incoming enemy fire, keep track of your attacker’s rate of reload. Especially when dodging cruiser fire, the trick is to begin a new turn just as their guns are about 1-2 secs away from firing the next salvo. Often, enemy players will not adjust their aim again to match your new turn.
  • Running aground can be disastrous. Glance at the minimap or zoom out between salvos. Learn to steer from the minimap while fighting--it can and will save your life.
  • Similarly, stay aware and don’t become target fixated. Don’t sail into a second threat while running away from the first. Keep an eye out for incoming planes, torpedoes, or that BB salvo flying in from 15 km away.
  • Sometimes, you may have an advantage and should initiate a gun battle. Don’t be shy about using your guns if you can secure a DD kill or start a fire on a distracted BB. Make the decision based on a) how long will you remain detected? b) how much damage will you take? and c) how much damage/impact can you inflict in return?
  • If set afire while escaping, try to hold damage control until your main gun detectability has timed out and you are a safe distance away. A second fire ignited after you repair the first might leave you spotted with fatal results.

DD knife fights--the battle to the death
The truth is, very few DD players are truly comfortable in a knife fight. Brawling well at <3km ranges comes with experience, and given the rarity of point-blank-range DD fighting, it takes a long time to approach these encounters with confidence. Nor can you ever be certain that you’ll emerge on top.
There are no general rules to a knife fight. Every situation is different, depending on relative health, torpedo cooldowns, the characteristics of the DDs in question, and team support.
  • If there is zero chance of escape, then fight aggressively to the death. At equal HP, your only chance to come out victorious as a Kagero vs. a Gearing is closing to point-blank range and torpedoing them. At the very least, you might ensure a trade. Even if you have no torpedoes available, your largest team contribution remaining may be the damage you caused your adversary using gunfire. Maximize it.
  • Winning a knife fight often boils down to extreme efficiency. You may have to maneuver, while hitting speed boost, while firing with optimal accuracy, while launching torpedoes, while mashing DCP to put out a fire, while hitting TRB to reload your tubes, all while keeping track of terrain. With a 5.7s reload rate on your Yugumo or a 7s reload rate on Kagero, you should focus on maneuvering, torps, and consumable management during reloading, then bringing your guns to bear with perfect timing as the reload finishes.
  • Hold your torpedoes for as long as possible until the range is close. You will regret having empty tubes if you blew your fish early and both end up turning into one another at 2 kilometers.
  • Pay close attention to the enemy DD’s rate of fire. A break in the stream of fire coming from an Akizuki or USN DD often gives away when they’ve switched to launch torpedoes. When they resume fire, you can confidently initiate a dodge.
  • Vary your speed and direction of travel constantly, but don’t lower your throttle to zero or reverse except in an emergency. Keeping your speed up is key to having the mobility to dodge torpedoes and navigate terrain.
  • Against a USN DD of average skill, if you are at low HP and anticipate dying within the next few salvos, a tactic of last resort is to send your DD into full reverse in the final moments of a gun duel. The stress of combat and the graceful arcs of American 5-inchers can often cause your opponent to lead by too much in these vital moments, which can be the difference between victory or death.
  • Lastly, these same rules often apply to last-ditch close encounters with enemy cruisers or battleships. In these cases, your torpedoes are often your only hope. If you can’t run, don’t even try. Fight instead--get in close, and hold the torpedoes until you are either about to die or are at point-blank range.

My chronic mistakes - the goofs that I still regularly make…
  • Don’t contest caps if they’re a lost cause. Even now, I sometimes get cocky and think that I can get away with a risky cap contest even though I have minimal support. If the threat level is high and you don’t have the backup you need, then give up on the cap.
  • Terrain terrain terrain. Even with 1856 DD games and counting, I still die because I brushed an island or beached myself more often than I’d care to admit.
  • Passing in front of visible friendly ships, and getting hit by torpedoes that weren’t even remotely intended for me is a particularly embarrassing way to die. Constantly consider what torpedo “lanes” the enemy might be using to hit your allied battleships, and be cautious when crossing them.

Late-game
The late game is when destroyers in general become the most powerful. The map is now more open, enemy ships may be running low on planes, hydro, and radar, and objective lead is now of monumental importance.
At the same time, enemy capital ships are often at reduced health and forced to sprint in predictable paths towards the capture zones. All this combines to make the area denial and assassination threat provided by your torpedoes very valuable.
Close late-game matches can result in highly unique win/loss scenarios. Sometimes, the most valuable tool at your disposal is coordination and advice-giving via the chat box to make sure that your allied cruiser doesn’t feed a kill to the enemy team at the worst possible moment. Otherwise, the most important aspects of the match are the point difference and the remaining time.
Points for survival in the late-game
  • I hope you remembered how much health the surviving red DDs had left. If they’re low, you might become the hunter now.
  • Once you reveal your position on the map, the game is on. If you’re capturing a zone, or if the enemy encounters your torps, or if you smoke, are located by RPF, or win a gunfight elsewhere on the map and slip back into stealth, realize that you may now be being actively hunted. How would you search for your DD if you were the enemy?
  • Keep your speed disadvantage in mind. If your position is revealed in open water, a faster DD will catch up with you eventually, and smoke will only temporarily break line of sight once they do.
  • Respect enemy radar carefully. Early-game, it’s not worthwhile for a Des Moines to pop radar upon spotting torpedoes. Late-game, they will often be willing to roll the dice and gamble that you launched from 8km away instead of 11km.
  • From the points above, you may have guessed that the best advice of all for survival in the late game is to buddy up. You will provide valuable spotting for a friendly ship, while their firepower will protect you in turn. You should avoid sailing solo unless it is otherwise necessary to win the game.

A final note--improving from game to game:
This is a demanding line of destroyers to play, particularly at high tiers. If you are a poor torpedo marksman, you will have little game impact. If you are making basic positioning mistakes, you will find yourself in situations that you cannot escape from and die needlessly.
It will take some practice to get the hang of surviving in a Kagero without smoke, but once you do, you’ll find that you actually don’t miss smoke that much. If you really are dying consistently and repeatedly without smoke, then you need to be honest with yourself in terms of self-criticism.
Refrain from immediately blaming the ship you’re driving. After every game (even if you survived, and even if your team won), the key to improvement is to identify mistakes that you made and learn from them. If you keep ramming your head into a brick wall while complaining about how inferior your guns are, how you don’t have smoke, how your HP pool is so pathetic, etc… then frankly you will never learn that you were responsible for captaining your ship into circumstances where those factors were decisive in leading to your demise.
Game awareness and good decision-making are necessary to succeeding in the IJN DD line. If you haven’t developed these skills yet, you can do so in real time--by focusing your efforts on self-improvement, you will strengthen your performance.

Source: sBcNikita on Reddit


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