- The Best Ships -
The relative power of ships in the hobby are determined by the interactions of several physical characteristics of the ships and how our rules are crafted. Some ships have features that make them clearly better than others. The relative importance of these factors is debatable and varies biased on preferred play style and ship building and battling ability. At the end of the day you should build what you want, but if you want to build one of the most competitive capital ships possible you should consider the ships on this list.
Shafts: 4 shaft ships are the best overall performers. The inner two are powered and outer two are used for drag. Adding drag allows you to add thrust without adding speed (top speed is limited but acceleration is not) which also helps turning. Two shaft ships are not as able to meaningfully increase drag. Three shaft ships get the outer two as drag, but with just a single drive prop the acceleration generally suffers, however they turn better as the rudders have less prop wash to control.
Rudders: Ships in our scale turn by controlling the column of wash generated by the propellers. Twin side by side rudders is the best setup. Bigger rudders are better and rudders are scaled in size to class. As such, class 4 and 6 ships of similar length and hull shape will not turn the same due to the allotted rudder size.
Speed: Speed is by rule determined by length. Theoretically in this system the longer ships are faster and the shorter ships turn better. Being fast (24 seconds) is an advantage, but being slower is not necessarily a disadvantage. A lot of 26 second ships perform very well. 28 second ships can be at a serious disadvantage and other characteristics need to be present in order to consider them competitive.
Size of ship: Length, beam, and weight are important. Wider ships generally perform better as they are more stable on the water and will turn better than narrow ships. Super long ships are at a disadvantage in terms of turning. Heavier ships have more momentum and change directions and maneuver poorly. A certain amount of weight is good though as heavier ships can use their mass to control the movement of other ships when they get side by side. Smaller ships may maneuver well but they donít have the ability to use their weight to control other ships.
Guns: There are several rules regarding where the various ships are allowed to place armed bb cannons. In general, most ships class 4+ are not allowed to have more than 2 side-mounted guns with a few notable exceptions. More importantly however is where along the ship the turrets are located. To understand this point you need to understand the relative strength of guns based on placement. A stern side-mount (haymaker) is the best gun in the hobby, they are the relative easiest to hit the more dangerous below the water line hits. Stern guns are relatively easy to hit and can be fired and at the same time keep your shipís sides protected but donít score as devastating damage as side-mount guns. The bow side-mount can score below the water line hits but is harder to get on target and requires you to put your ship at greater risk to get shots off. For the most part I would consider stern side-mounts as the gold standard for what makes a ship dangerous or not.
Target area: Several factors are at play here. Overall length of the ship is important, very long ships are easier to target. The height of the hull is important for the same reason. Hull mounted casemates can help decrease target area as the rules allow for these hull features to be impenetrable. Casemates also factor into the target area in the stern of the ship as there is generally a step down in the stern in which even less target area exists.
Trigger pulls: Not only are more trigger pulls often more enjoyable as they allow for more playtime, they can also be important in helping you and your team maintain control of the water late game. More trigger pulls helps spread out the firepower of your ship over the entire course of the battle.
Ĺ Units: The extra 0.5 unit some ships are allotted can make a significant difference. For instance a typical 26 second battleship with a 75 round haymaker is in my opinion is significantly more powerful than a similar ship with a 50 round haymaker but otherwise similar gun setup (Iron Duke at 5.0 units vs Queen Elizabeth at 5.5 units).
The best ships:
Nagato Ė The Nagato has key advantages in multiple areas and has minimal weaknesses. It can mount 3 side-mounts and is a class 6, so itís firepower potential is very big. It is a perfect size, heavy enough to bully other ships but yet small and short enough to be fairly mobile. It gets twin side by side rudders and has 4 shafts. It is also a fast battleship at 24 seconds. Also the gun/turret layout allows for a couple very key configurations which allows for a very dangerous ship with either the traditional 5 guns and 1 pump or 4 guns and 2 pumps utilizing two stern sidemounts. One weakness of the Nagato is that the flared shape of the bow makes it a bit vulnerable to take on a lot of water when driving around with significant above the water line damage in the bow.
IJN Nagato (one pump configuration)
North Carolina Ė Up until the late 2000ís this was considered the best ship in the hobby. It is a big but not too big class 6 ship with lots of fire power. Specifically the triple stern guns allow for a large amount of safe damage to be dealt. It is fast at 24 seconds and turns well with twin side by side rudders and 4 shafts. The only thing holding this ship back is that it only has 3 turrets and as such canít realistically have a usable stern side-mount.
USS North Carolina
Queen Elizabeth Ė The QE is the best all around Allied boat. It has excellent turret positioning and gets the ability to use a 75 round haymaker which is very powerful. It has fantastic mobility due to the twin side by side rudders and 4 shafts. It also battles well in the hug and slug playstyle in which itís relatively good size/weight can be brought to good use. The only down sides are that it is 26 seconds which isnít that big of a problem for the most part and that the class 5 rudders are just a touch smaller than the class 6 rudders.
HMS Barham (2 pump configuration)
Kongo Ė The Kongo shines because of the firepower. Though it is a class 4 it gets 3 side-mount guns, one of which can be a 75 round haymaker. It is fast at 24 seconds. The turret placement allows for two stern side-mounts. Unfortunately for the Kongo a major weakness of all class 4 ships is that the rudders are significantly smaller than the higher class ships and even though it gets twin side by side rudders and four shafts and it is a relatively short fast ship, it is very challenging to get the Kongo to turn very well.
Seydlitz Ė The Seydlitz is a fairly balanced ship. It has a lot of good features without any one of these features making it over the top. It is smallish and with a ton of casemates so it has very little target area. The turret placement allows for multiple usable options with a very strong stern of the ship. It is also 24 seconds. Drawbacks are that it is narrow in the stern and is a class 4 so getting it to turn well with those smallish rudders is challenging though it is the shortest 24 second ship. Also it isnít very heavy so bumping and grinding is a bit difficult with this ship even though it is set up to play that fight very well, so using speed and nasty gun placement to keep the enemy off of you is the trade off.
(Picture coming soon)
Tiger Ė The Tiger is similar to all of the smaller 24 second class 4 battlecruisers in that it is fast but disadvantaged in the turning ability because of the class 4 rudders. Advantages are that it has a tricky to use but possible to use stern side-mount. It makes the list partially because it one of the few usable Allied 24 second capital ships with a stern side-mount. I would consider this ship an advanced build because some of the weaknesses can be difficult to overcome.
(Picture coming soon)
Honorable mentions and other generalizations:
Baden Ė You can argue the advantages and disadvantages of all of the WWI German battleships very similarly as a class. They are all slow at 28 seconds which is the main pitfall. They all have 2 rudders and 3 shafts which make for turning monsters but they donít accelerate all that well. Accelerating issues are balanced because a lot of these ships are fairly light so getting to top speed takes a little less energy. The gun placement of these ships include fairly standard dangerous stern side-mounts. Iíd direct people to either the 4.5 or 5.5 unit German slow battleships if they are wanting to go that route because of the added power of having a 75 round stern sidemount.
Invincible Ė This British battlecruiser it is fairly small but it is very agile due to the 4 shaft dual twin rudders because it is fairly short. It can play well as a slasher, but wonít do well slugging it out because it has relatively low firepower with 4.0 units and it has a lot of target without casemates in the hull.††
Japanese Battleships Ė The Fuso, Ise, Yamashiro, Hyuga are all relatively large for 26 second ships which is both good and bad, have twin side by side rudders, have interesting usable turret locations. However putting all of the firepower in the stern makes the bow very vulnerable.† They can be slightly challenging to get to turn well due to the class 5 rudders and long hulls.
German Battlecruisers Ė The Derfflinger is a very competitive fast battlecruiser that is probably not quite as strong as the Seydlitz. It has inline rudders which can be made to workout OK. The Molke also is a very nice 26 second ship, has 4 shafts but inline rudders, and wing turrets that allow for creative stern setup. The Von der Tann is very competitive as well, it is small but very mobile as it gets twin side by side rudders and retains the 26 second speed, and has a lot of casemates to help protect the sides. In reality it is difficult to justify building one of the 26 second German battlecruisers when the Seydlitz is just so strong, unless the goal is variety.
American Battleships Ė The early pre WWI American battle ships are 28 seconds and very small but are at a disadvantage to other similar ships because they canít turn with the small German ships with 3 shafts, though they can out accelerate them. The mid to large size WW2 American Battleships and refit versions of such are all very similar with strengths of good gun placement and relative weaknesses in that they are 26 seconds and only get 1 rudder so wonít turn as well as the QE. If you love American battleships go for it, but the QE is much more competitive.
USS West Virginia
British Battleships Ė Early British battleships are similar to the Germans and early Americans and in that they are mostly limited to 28 seconds and wonít turn with the German 3 shafters. Turret placements are generally advantageous in these lines with strong stern configurations available. The later ships in the line are a little more playable at 26 seconds, such as the Agincourt and Iron Duke. These are quite respectable but are just not quite as competitive as the QE. The Valliant is basically a QE that doesnít get twin side by side rudders nor the heavy casemates so isnít really worth it either.
HSM Agincourt (all guns in the stern)
Bismarck Ė One of the most famous battleships in history is a bit of a mixed bag. The fire power is great but it is fairly big. The large target area means it will sustain a lot of damage in a typical battle but has a large hull so it takes damage relatively well. The high battling weight makes it tricky to make it accelerate very well which is compounded by the 3 shaft setup. Generally however it will turn quite well. Overall Iíd say it is better left for advanced builders and battlers.
DKM Bismarck (two pump configuration)
The Large Ships Ė The very large class 7 and 8 battleships: Yamato, Iowa, Vanguard as well as the other class 6 ships: Richeliou, Nelson, Litorrio, King George V are advanced builds and can be made playable by very seasoned builders but are not competitive for the average captain. Some of these very large ships are allowed dual firing side-mounts which can be devastating but can be hard to get them to work for you because of other disadvantages of these ships such as mobility and turret placement. The very large Battlecruisers: Hood, Scharnhorst, Alaska are similarly inherently un-competitive for the average battler due to their very large hull size. The South Dakota is 26 seconds and offers no advantages over the North Carolina since it is a very similar hull design and turret setup.
HMS Rodney (twin starboard sidemounts, single port bow and stern sidemounts, two pumps)
Other ships Ė Various other ships are not listed or referenced above but the same principles still apply. People have generally already figured out what ships you can make highly competitive and which ones are not, so ask around and donít take only my word for it. And if you have your heart set on the odd ball Chilean Dreadnaught Almirante Latorre, by all means go for it, just donít expect it to be on average as competitive as the QE.