World of Warships: 101


World of Warships, much like its warplane and tank brothers, can be a bit overwhelming with choices begging for a large number of play styles; it can get to the point that it can be difficult to know where to start. So then, an introductory guide to explain the ins and outs of the game is in order: Welcome to TMC’s World of Warships 101. Your progress should be much more clear after this guide. We will explain the difference between the nations and classes, and some tips for using them effectively.

Your First Match

The good news with your first match is there are really only two options: Japanese or American. While very evenly matched, even these first two ships begin to show the differences between the two nations. The lightly armored Japanese Hashidate has smaller cannons that put out a greater volume against the big gunned and heavily armored American Erie. Given you will not be in these ships for too long, the important thing to do at this point is experiment. Play with the controls, pull up the help menu with F1, watch your teammates on the map, and stick with a few friendlies as they move about the map. Most importantly, have fun.

Do not worry about grinding early on and try both ships to get an idea of what you want to do. Rush in and see if you like brawling, stay back and shell from what is considered long range for the early tier ships. You will learn to always stay moving and keep an eye out for torpedoes. Try different routes on the same map and see which work, and which don’t. Unlock modules with your experience and mount them with your credits. Be warned that there is certainly something you should not do: do not spend several hundred thousand credits on upgrades or any Doubloons at this point. You will not be in the ship long enough for these to be worth it. Once you have fully researched your first ships, you may be wondering where to go. The national differences you may have noticed with the starter ships continues through to each nation and class of ship. So what do they all mean? Let’s start with the cruisers.


Cruisers are fast ships with lower hitpoints, some armor, and high damage outputs. These are for the player that wants to have a bit more staying power than the destroyers without sacrificing as much of the speed or maneuverability as you would with the battleship. Anti-aircraft (AA) batteries are much stronger on cruisers, especially at higher tiers. Some cruisers, mainly Japanese, carry torpedoes. Higher tier cruisers carry Hydroacoustic Searches to increase detectability ranges and Defensive AA Fire to shred any carrier’s aircraft foolish enough to close in. This leads to a jack of all trades ship that can engage destroyers, battleships, carriers, or other cruisers equally well, while not exceeding in any particular area just like their real life counterparts. Ironically, this philosophy that makes them so great in the game tangentially lead their real life counterparts from the frontline and into the annals of history.

The Tier IV Premium Japanese cruiser Yubari

Japanese Cruisers

The Japanese Cruisers are very strong early on, reflecting the strength the Imperial Japanese Navy had early in the war. These cruisers tend to have more, smaller cannons with a lower rate of fire but superb range. The smaller caliber means less penetration even with armor piercing ammunition, meaning the best bet to load high explosive. The fact that high explosive ammo almost always does damage combined with the random chance to start a fire means they are ideal for most every situation. When in doubt, load high explosive.

Japanese cruisers will also be equipped with torpedo tubes starting with the Tenryu to punch big holes in the sides of ships that decide to come in close. It is important to hold onto your torpedoes until such an opportunity arrises. The times you launch a spread of torpedoes and sink that destroyer that decided to get a little cocky while sneaking in a little too close is a highlight of the game that never gets old.

American Cruisers

The first thing you’ll notice with the American cruisers is their incredibly speed. Starting with the Phoenix’s top speed of 35.5 knots and continuing through the line, you will never be late to the party in an American cruiser. Better yet, when you arrive you will have the firepower for any situation. American ships have bigger caliber guns but fewer of them. While there are more opportunities to use the armor piercing shells for the American cruisers, high explosives should still be the default load out given its versatility against the largest variety of targets.

The American cruisers give up torpedoes at higher tiers for the Defensive AA Fire ability. This turns the Americans from your standard airplane destroyers into hungry aircraft shredders that can eat whole squadrons of planes without a second thought. Carrier pilots would be wise to avoid American cruisers as a rule. We have a more indepth guide to the American cruisers if you find yourself leaning towards these warships.


Destroyers are the eagles of the battlefield. Patiently waiting for opportunity to open up, and then striking their prey at high speeds, and then disappearing again. Destroyers have the highest damage potential in the game excluding magazine strikes combined with the best speed and maneuverability in a hard to hit tiny package. To balance this, they have absolutely no armor or hitpoints to speak of and will crumble with just a single broadside from a battleship. Knowing what is going on isn’t just a pleasantry, but an absolute necessity. When properly utilized, a destroyer is capable of sinking half of the enemy team or more. That being said, they do not scale as well as many of the other ships in the game, and really struggle in the higher tiers.

Early on, destroyers can be very powerful. Though sometimes it is not enough.

Japanese Destroyers

Like many other Japanese ships, the Japanese destroyer is faster, more maneuverable, and stealthier than the Americans. The biggest advantage of the Japanese destroyer is in the torpedoes: stronger, longer, and faster. What is not to love? In particular, the range is almost double for most tiers. While the majority of the time torpedoes will be used in close quarters to ensure your enemy doesn’t have time to dodge them, a few torpedoes down a bottleneck have yielded excellent results. With this much awesome, there is an Achilles’ heel: the cannons on the Japanese destroyers are unabashedly terrible. More often than not you will be out turning them, making them more useless than a bomber’s rear gunner. Even when they are firing, they put down paltry numbers that make you wonder why the bothered putting them on their instead of more torpedoes.

American Destroyers

American destroyers can pump out some great damage from their cannons, which can sort of make up for their lackluster camouflage and atrocious torpedo range. The American destroyers, as a result, tend to fight a bit more like super maneuverable cruisers rather than the glass cannons that they are. Further reinforcing this is their not terrible anti-aircraft guns. Still, if used properly, the American destroyers can be an asset to your team instead of the liability many think them to be.

A pair of Tier VIII North Carolinas after more than a few shellings in formation with a Tier VII Nagato


The venerable battleship: pride of the fleet with huge guns, huge armor, and a huge target painted on your head. Large caliber guns can do hilarious amounts of damage with well placed shots destroying ships in one or two volleys. The armor and hitpoints are unrivaled, giving a sense of invincibility that is reinforced by the ability to regenerate hitpoints mid-battle. Unfortunately, the cost to this great power is your speed and maneuverability with only carriers able to rival such a mighty rudder-shift time. Early tier battleships also have a large gap in their air defenses, making them easy prey to a carrier’s bombers.

The key to surviving early on is sticking together, preferably with at least on ship that has decent AA. To not just survive, but to thrive, you have to know when to use armor piercing or high explosive rounds. For those who would like a little more on that subject, do check out Wargaming’s own blog on the matter as well. Likewise, stagger fire is your friend: missing an entire broadside is much more painful when you have 26 second reload timer.

Japanese Battleships

The battleships of the Imperial Japanese Navy tend towards higher caliber guns that have longer range but lower damage and accuracy, greater hull speed at the earlier tiers, and less armor than the Americans. The poor accuracy makes it difficult to engage targets at the maximum range, but the poor damage and armor make it difficult to close in. This makes them a tricky ship to captain requiring a steady hand and a spot of luck from the random number generator if you try to attack from long distance, or shot mitigation skills and friends if you attempt to go in closer.

American Battleships

The battleships of the United States Navy start off slow, only moderately armored, incredibly short ranged, and guns whose turn times are measured in hours. The good news is not only are those guns accurate, but they put out a very high amount of damage once they get square to the target. A decreased number of turrets does mean less granularity in control, but a more reliable and robust platform. By the time you get to the North Carolina, however, many of the shortcomings of American battleships are gone: strong anti-aircraft, respectable range, unbeatable armor, acceptable speed, and guns that can tear a hole in anything on the water.


If you are looking at carriers, you should have a pretty good grasp of the game so far and even be pretty proficient in many different aspects of the game and comfortable fighting in the World of Warships. Take most of what you learned so far, and forget it: carriers are completely different from anything else in the game. Instead of firing guns in a first person cannon view from a ship in the middle of a fight, you will be controlling a number of airplane squads from modified map view while trying not to crash to stick with your team from a disconnected camera.

Moments before this mighty Taiho crashed into the iceberg ahead

There is a similar juxtaposition to your main weapons as well. Carriers have the most mobile damage from the least mobile ships. You will need to learn how to manually drop torpedoes from your torpedo bombers, manage your dive bombers, and protect your slow, large ship from the enemy bombers that are undoubtedly searching for you. Your previous ships will have taught you the techniques of other players, and give you a better idea of how to attack them. It should also have taught you which ships you should aim for and which ships to avoid.

There are three ways to survive in a carrier: stick with your team, hide well enough to not be spotted, or kill anyone that gets close enough to mess with you. The first is the best option, though it can be very hard with the early tier American carriers especially. Hiding may work if your team is doing well early on, but is very difficult to maintain mid to late game. Fighting for your survival is particularly difficult when you are new to carriers, but is a strong option once you have mastered your craft that brings dividends in the way of experience and coin.

A poorly excecuted hide technique

Japanese Carriers

Japanese carriers are very distinct from their American counterparts. They have good speed from early on coupled with great maneuverability, a large number of squadrons, and a focus on torpedo bombers. The large number of squadrons coupled with the focus on torpedoes means that even the most novice of captains can sink enemy ships with the Japanese carriers. The greater speed means it is easier to stay with your team, and even avoid some fire with the increased agility. While the Japanese are very susceptible to American fighters, the greater survivability and lethality in less skilled hands makes them an easy first choice for carriers.

American Carriers

Wargaming gaming themselves have come out and admitted the American Carriers are slow, have poor concealment, and all around painful to use in the beginning; they are not exaggerating. The American carriers have better armor with more hitpoints, larger squadrons with better fighters, better AA, and a great number of spares if you happen to lose some. If you can grind through the lower tiers, the American carriers completely eclipse their Japanese counterparts with powerful bombers, strong escorting fighters, great survivability, and respectable speed.

Venture Forth

The World of Warships is already vast and complex, but you do not have to go it alone. Hopefully after this quick orientation, you have a better idea of where to go and what each ship leads to. If there are more specific questions you have, ask them in the comments below or check out a wide variety of guides available: the aformentioned controls guide and AP vs HE guide, the detailed weapons data dump, a short American cruisers introduction, and a variety of ship specific guides we have in our archives. First and foremost, enjoy the beautiful and intricate game that Wargaming has shared with us for free! Fair winds and following seas, captain.

This article originally appeared on, written by Set’s Chaos.

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