Frequently Asked Questions
-Standards vs. Alaska
-12" Guns vs. 14" Guns
-New Mexico (1930)
-New Mexico (1945)
-South Dakota (1939)
A Note on "Skill"
This guide was created to provide up-to-date information on how to command a USN
battleship. Previous guides have been rendered largely useless due to patch cycles which
have made drastic changes to the ships, and as a result there was little easy-to-find
information regarding current strategies for using USN BBs. To that end, I wrote this
guide to provide such information.
The previous BB guide by ar2d2 can be found in the following link:
The only real relevant information there not covered in my guide is regarding the Iowa and
Montana, and that only because the Iowa was changed very little in the BB4 patch and the
Montana has yet to go through its patch cycle. Otherwise, take the rest with a grain of
salt or two.
So, moving on. Assuming that you've read my other guide for DD to CA (which you should
have if you've managed to get this far), you know how this is going to go.
If you'll remember the good old days, USN BBs used to be at the absolute bottom
tier of all the BBs in the game; they were slow, horribly short-ranged, made of paper,
and only had their high points in a few places (Iowa L's on a NC, anyone?). Nowadays,
it's not much better, but for the most part, they are usable. Above all else, it takes skill
to use your ship properly, and this applies best to USN BBs than anywhere else.
BB driving, unlike DD, CL, or CA driving, actually takes skill to get good at. Unlike your
average Noobskrieg game where players just spray each other with shells and torps
at close range, battleships are literally capable of blasting each other to bits within 4
salvos or less (depending on the tier of the ship and the skill of the driver) from
halfway across the map with next to no warning, so learning how to use your ship has
a rather steep learning curve. This takes time, practice, and a lot of learning; I'm here
to provide a fraction of that last part for you.
Now, at this point, I'm assuming that you're competent in general ship usage. That
means that you're completely familiar with Manual FCS, you don't use torps, you use
scouts properly (or at least do use them at all), and you most certainly do not try to
deck whore your ship. But most of all, I will assume that you have read all of NF-Guides
and know how to look up information on Trainworld; those two are paramount among
all other things. If you don't, then go do that before continuing on. At this stage of the
game, nobody has any excuse not to know the bare minimum about how to play this
Assuming that you've read my DD to CA guide, and done all the required reading
at NF-Guides, what's next? There's still another tier of knowledge that you need
to overcome. The first of these is Adalbert's ability guide:
Not really absolutely required reading for most players, but it is for understanding
the finer points of this guide, since it will increase your understanding of how this
game works immensely. Having those numbers and formulas memorized in your head
isn't strictly necessary, but at the minimum have it bookmarked for future use in case
you need it.
The next step is to read my battleship tactics guide:
Note that the information in that thread is not exactly basic, but should become
second nature once you get more experienced at playing. As I also mention, they
aren't advanced playing tactics either, so that leaves room for you to grow after
reading it. Since I go over most of the bare basic tactics that you will use as a BB in
that sticky, I will assume that you have read it or will read it before I continue on, since
I'm too lazy to write it all over again in this guide.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I thought that I'd put this near the beginning of the guide rather than the end, since
it might cut down on lazy people not finding their answer and making useless posts. I
probably won't update this section a lot, but I'll answer most of the common
Q: What sailors should I raise?
A: The following is absolutely required:
1 Bridge Operator (2 is optional but highly recommended, 3 or more if you want)
2 Accuracy Gunners for main guns (Class Accuracy first, however you want later)
2 Reload Gunners for AA guns (Ditto above, but Reload first)
1 Rookie Pilot (Very important! Do not forget this one!)
3-4 Engineers (These are important! Keep them leveled properly!)
Having more than one BO is recommended if you like to plan ahead (more on this
later). Having at least one scout is required for BB play, so don't forget it. If you want
to try to get a BB6, you'll want 4 each of Repairers and Engineers, but having at least
4 Engineers is highly recommended no matter what (3 is the bare minimum and works for
most of your grind, but you'll have trouble near the end of the road), and whether you
want 3 or 4 Repairers is your choice. The amount of supports you'll use at each tier
varies: 4 for BB1, 5 for BB2-3. 6 for Iowa, 7 for Montana, and 8 for Nebraska. This, of
course, is assuming that one of your support slots is always occupied by a scout. So, at
the very end, you will want a total of 8 support sailors; how you mix that up is entirely
up to you.
Q: Why are Engineers so important?
A: Because this is USN. USN ships depend a lot on speed, and having more speed at
your disposal can work immensely in your favor. Every USN player should have at least
three Engineers on their ship whenever possible (four is recommended), and always at
most five levels below your BO, but not more. At higher levels, not being able to maintain
a high overheat speed is a serious liability, so make sure to keep leveling them. If you're
enterprising, though, you could choose to raise more than four and sell the extras off,
since USN Engys are in very high demand and can sell for a large amount of credits.
Q: How many support sailors should I raise?
A: As I mentioned above, you'll want a grand total of 8 for your Nebraska, and what
combination you use is up to you. Some people raise 3 Repairers and 5 Engineers, while
others raise 4 of both. I'm personally a student of the latter school, since, if you read
my Battleship speed cap guide, you'll learn that there is a diminishing return after three
or more Engineers, and four Engineers is enough to hit the speed cap by that level
(especially since the Nebraska requires all your support sailors to be at least level
115). After a certain point, extra overheat time can only help you so much, and repair
rate becomes more important.
Q: Why Reload gunners instead of AA gunners?
A: For the simple reason that the AA gunner class is unusable due to their lack of Reload
ability and the general uselessness of A variant guns. In this guide, when I say "AA
gunners," I mean regular gunners that have Reload classed as their primary ability, so
don't confuse it with the AA gunner class. I go more in-depth in my AA guide sticky, so go
there for more information about general AA usage.
Q: What armor should I mount?
A: Nothing except bulge. If you're a member of the school of thought that advocates
putting on a thin layer of belt, deck, and bulkhead to lower crew deaths (I have yet
to see reliable proof that this works), or putting on enough belt to "halve" torp
damage (which can be very life-saving these days), then go ahead. But the general
recommendation is to only put on bulge until you start losing speed. Speed is highly
important for USN BBs, so you want to keep that as high as possible.
For more fragile BBs, putting on bulge past the speed loss limit is also acceptable, as
long as it's not too much. I personally put on bulge until I've already lost a knot or
two of speed on some of my ships, enough to ward off several torpedoes with no
damage. But that's just my personal preference. Plus, I like to laugh at torp whores
and torp bombers that think they can do damage to me.
Deck is simply not a viable option for USN BBs. If you want deck, the RN subforum is
just a few clicks away. For USN, there is no BB that is capable of cost-effectively
mounting enough deck to bounce shells. For fun setups, yes, go ahead, but for serious
setups, taking off turrets or using smaller guns is a suicide proposition.
Q: What should I put on my T mounts?
A: Certainly not torp launchers. Depending on how much you would like to depend
on fighter cover, carrying AA guns is a viable option on most USN BBs, but not all. Read
my AA sticky for more info:
Also, speed and durability is another issue to consider. Some people like to play their
ships AA-less in favor of increased speed (from the weight saved off of the guns) and
durability (from the support sailors put on the T mounts instead of AA gunners), and
this is certainly a matter of personal preference.
I've always played my ships with AA where possible, since my playing style affords
me more effectiveness when I can blind the enemy whenever I want, it's useful to be
able to shoot down bombers by yourself without having to rely on a CV teammate, and
the credit gain from downing enemy fighters and bombers is always a nice bonus (to say
nothing about forcing the other team's CVs to play better or pay more money). Playing
with AA requires you to focus on more than simply blowing the other guy out of the
water with your main guns, and does require multi-tasking, so it's understandable that
AA is not for everybody. Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you want to put AA on.
Q: Should I use Restorers?
A: This is entirely up to you. Using Restorers takes up a sailor slot that could be used
for a more effective sailor like a Repairer or Engineer, and at high levels everybody
hits the 900 SD cap anyways. Since the only real thing that Restorers provide is SD,
they're absolutely useless at high levels; however, at low levels when you haven't hit
the SD cap yet, a Restorer can give you that extra bit of durability that could be a
lifesaver. The main issue, of course, is that if you use a Restorer, you can't level a
Repairer or Engineer in its place, which makes it harder to level up your entire support
crew on your ship, which in turn makes you slower and less durable at higher levels.
Ultimately, it's a trade-off between ease of playing at the early and middle stages
versus better support performance at higher levels. Having more than one BO (as I
recommended, and as I will elaborate on later) can effectively eliminate this issue, but
for those with only a single BO, this choice is one that you'll have to make yourself.
On the flip side, Restorers will always be useful on a CV and SS, so if you ever decide to
go down any of those two routes, you'll have some sailors that can help you out down the road.
Q: When will my gunners hit the accuracy cap?
A: Refer to Adalbert's ability guide for that. Remember that the accuracy cap is based
on the level of your gunners, so the higher their level, the better they can potentially
perform. But to give you a short answer, it depends on how much money and time
you've put into your gunners. Elite Accuracy B/V/E gunners will likely hit the cap in their
50's to 60's, while 10/10 non-boosted partially-vetted gunners may not hit the cap
until the late 70's (at least that's around when mine hit it). If you don't like your
spread, then prepare to spend some money upgrading your gunners, or spending lots
of time gaining experts and converting them to vets.
The following link gives a short table for when you can expect to reach the various caps.
It's somewhat basic, but also useful.
Just take the reload cap with a bit of salt, as it's been raised slightly since that thread.
Q: My gunners and support are falling behind my BO! What should I do?
A: If you've managed to let your gunners fall behind your BO, then you really have a
problem. Generally, your gunners should be *ahead* of your BO, and while having
your support sailors trailing behind your BO and gunners is always the case with most
players, make sure not to let them fall too far behind.
Again, I would recommend that you train two BOs. As I said, doing so allows you to
get your crews ahead of either of your BOs, and this will really help you out down the
road since you'll be able to perform better in each ship.
Q: In your guide, what do you mean by the effective overheat percentage?
A: If you've read Adalbert's ability guide (like I told you to), you'll know that the
overheat speed that your ship is capable of is calculated through a combination of
the overheat ratio of your ship, the overheat ratio of the ship's engine, and the ability
of your own engineers. You'll also know that maximum overheat is capped at 70% (or
170%, however you want to term it) of your ship's cruise speed. The effective overheat
percentage is simply how much out of that 70% your ship is capable of reaching
without any engineers, assuming that you're using the proper engine. In the case of
the Alaska, you're already at 70% because of the ship's extremely high overheat ratio,
which means that you're running at the speed cap right at the beginning; in the case
of the Iowa, the ship and engine combination put you at 28%, which means that you'll
have a lot of work on your hands if you haven't leveled your engineers properly.
Q: Why don't you have sections for the New York, Sevastapol, and Nebraska?
A: This will require a bit of explaining beyond the "I'm not writing a guide for ships
that I don't have" reasoning.
First, with the NY, it's an event ship rather than something that anyone can get, so
writing a whole section that only a few people will benefit from isn't really
cost-effective. While I do have a New York in my harbor that I received as an
appreciation gift for my work for OpenNF, and I do enjoy using it a lot, I haven't really
had the time to do an in-depth analysis of its true capabilities, so it'll have to wait.
Reason number one for me not writing a guide for the Sevast is, I simply don't have
one. But ignoring that, the Sevastapol is a crutch ship that really doesn't need a guide.
The design of the ship itself makes it very easy to use, since it doesn't really have any
flaws that other players can take advantage of. While you won't learn a lot by
playing the Sevastapol and your skill will almost certainly suffer for it (as evidenced by
all the crappy SoDak drivers I've seen), it's fully within your right to use it. You just
won't have, or need, my help with it.
While I did help to test the Nebby on the Test Server before its release on the main
servers, let's stand back for a second and look at the whole picture. It's a level 120
ship. You need a level 115 crew to drive it. You should know what to do by now and
you most certainly do not need a guide for it. If you still need help at this stage, then
there is something horribly wrong with you. And besides, due to real-life
circumstances, I wasn't around to test the Nebraska for the last two months before
testing was concluded, so what I tested and the final product are two different things.
Q: Should I go down Brooklyn line or Northampton line?
A: This is entirely up to you (and, in case you can't decide, I have another sticky that
goes into detail on that issue). Most players decide to go down the Brooklyn route,
since it's easier on new players, and then take the New Mexico after that, since it
comes 5 levels before the Colorado. However, some people go down the Northampton
line for a bigger challenge, and choose between the Penn30 and Tenn41 after that.
My personal advice is, train two BOs, and go down two different lines with them, one
down Brooklyn and the other down Northampton. This makes it immensely easier to
train your crews up (especially your support sailors), and gives you far more variety
down the road, which really helps to break up the grind. Of course, training two BOs at
the same time is no easy feat, so you'll generally want to pick one to keep ahead of the
other, and focus on them one at a time instead of on both equally.
Q: Should I get a BB or a CV?
A: Honestly, you're asking here? Do a search first and read up before you come back.
And when you do, I'll remind you that this is a BB guide, not a BB and CV guide.
Q: What's better for the Montana, the level 100 triple 16"s or the level 110 dual
A: The general consensus among most players with Montys that I've talked to is that
the triple 16"s are the best gun for the ship, since they give you enough firepower
to wipe anything off the map with a single salvo (BB6's included). The dual 18"s give you
inferior firepower for a hair more range, but that hair of extra range isn't wholly useful
(besides allowing you to match range with a SY and L2). But note that this may be prone to
change in the future, depending on how patches play out.
Q: What's the difference between BB X and BB Y? Which one is better?
A: I'm not here to think for you, you'll have to decide for yourself from the information
I've provided. Pretty much every USN BB in each respective tier is viably equal to
each other, the only thing that makes one ship better than another is the playing style
that players afford themselves to. What seems like the best ship to you may not be
the same one that another player claims to be the better ship.
Q: Hurry up and write the section about the Iowa, I want to read what you have to
say about it!
A: I'll get around to it when I feel like it. Due to real life circumstances I am unable to
spend a lot of time playing with my Iowa, so it'll have to wait. Besides, at that level,
nobody should need a guide for the Iowa and beyond, you should know what to do
Q: I want to contribute to your guide! How do I do that?
A: Right now, I'm not taking any submissions. If you want guides for the New Mexico
and Tennessee lines, look elsewhere (in fact, Ar2's guide has information on the New
Mexico line). And as I said, beyond the USN BB3s, you should not need any help
figuring out what to do, so you shouldn't need to ask about the Iowa or Monty. If I
ever change my mind and decide to take submissions, I'll say so, but until then, what
you see right now is what you have.
So then, let's move on to the meat of the guide, the ships themselves.
Before we embark on the discussion of the BB1s, there's a bit more that you should
learn about. Since BB1s will be the very first BB-class ship you will have access to,
there's a rather noticeable bump in the learning curve here. As such, I've decided to
add this section here as a basic reference and knowledge pool. As you read through,
don't worry if you don't understand it right away, a lot of this information is quite
complex. If you don't get it at first, then just use this section as a reference as
you read about the ships themselves.
Standards vs. Alaska
Right at the start, you will notice that most of the BB1s look very similar to each
other, with the exception of the Alaska and Guam. This is actually due to the way that
the ships were historically designed, which SDE used as a basis for balancing the
ships in the game.
Most players will refer to the Alaska and Guam as the Alaska family, and the Nevada,
Pennsylvania (1930), New Mexico (1930), and Tennessee (1941) as the "Pre-Model
Standards." The Alaska family and the pre-model Standards play very differently from
each other, and may players will find that they absolutely love one of them but hate
The defining characteristics of the Alaska family are its high speed, AA capability,
respectable scout capacity, and low durability. While durability is low all across
the board for at-level BB1s, most eventually toughen up with higher-level crews,
whereas the Alaska family retains its frailty even with level 70+ sailors. However,
this low durability can be somewhat negated with the Alaska family's ability to carry
AA, its large scout storage space, and its extremely potent speed, all of which
also magnify at higher levels to create one very lethal ship.
In terms of tactics, there are two main ways to play the Alaska: Support style, or
The Support role is the general style used by most new players, since the Ninja style
requires more skill. Simply, it involves picking a large BB or a BB group on your team,
staying behind the battle line, and backing it up. Use your AA guns to keep scouts and
bombers off of them, use your main guns to suppress smaller targets, use your own scouts
to provide vision for them, and use your speed to move from hot-spot to hot-spot and to
rush in and support your bigger BBs against a single larger target.
As the name suggests, your role is to support the bigger BBs on your team and extend
their survivability in any way you can. When helping them against larger ships, don't
be afraid to use your speed to rush into range to pound away, but be sure to use your
judgment and decide when is the right time to rush. If you close in at the right time,
you could get some good shots in on your target (and maybe even sink something), but time
it wrong and you could end up going under without landing a single hit.
While playing the Alaska in the Support role may seem like playing as nothing more than a
glorified CA, there isn't much that you can do about that (and historically, that really
is what the Alaska class was). Since you lack the proper durability and range to duke it
out with the big ships, the next best thing you can do is help the ships on your team that
can; sinking with zero attack at the beginning of battle is not the best very way to
contribute to victory.
The Ninja style, as I said, takes more skill and involves more risk, but properly played,
can cause far more damage to the other team. The concept is to get away from any friendly
battle groups, and stay in the fog of war; use your AA to prevent the enemy from keeping
track of you, and use your speed to shadow and watch the positions of enemy ships closely,
picking targets as necessary but not immediately engaging. When the time is right and
you're sure that you're invisible, pounce on your target and take it down. Like a ninja,
you wait hidden in the shadows until you can do the most damage to an individual target or
the enemy team as a whole. This is a dangerous tactic, since you won't be able to take
many hits, you can't rely on teammates to back you up with more firepower, and a lucky
enemy salvo or the sudden appearance of a scout could turn things around drastically. But
if you do pull it off right, you can change the tide of the battlefield, and very few BB1s
can do that.
The pre-model Standards are the opposite of the Alaska family in just about every way.
Rather than focusing on speed and flexibility, the Standards focus on durability and
Every advantage that the Alaska family has, speed, AA, and scout capacity, become
disadvantages for the Standards, which are slow, cannot mount AA (for the most part),
and can only carry a handful of scouts. The trade-off, however, is that, as they are
true battleships, they have the durability of such, and can absorb hits in ways that
an Alaska can only dream about, and can dish out as much firepower as they can take.
Another difference in the Standards is that, unlike the Alaska family, they can mount
14" guns, which are discussed below. These carry an intrinsic advantage in that they're
well-suited for rushing, and in fact complement their other advantages.
With the Standards, the best way I found to use it was through what I call the "Raging
Bull." The essence of this tactic is thus: pick a target, and stay outside of its range,
and then when you see an opening when your enemy is distracted and/or blinded, hit your
overheat, close in, and start pumping as many shells into him as you can while
maintaining speed and zigzagging like crazy. Others would call this tactic more akin to
a suicide charge, but in this case it works to your advantage due to the Standards'
Because of your short range and slow speed, you have to fight a battle to the bitter end
when you decide to engage. Getting within range in the first place is a great risk and
challenge, so once you do achieve range you have to do as much damage as possible. What's
more, retreating is riskier than continuing your engagement, because your slow speed
means you will spend more time retreating, and your short range means that your enemy
can shoot at you while you cannot shoot back during that time, so breaking off will
usually spell your death. So, your best chance of surviving is by eliminating your
What makes this tactic survivable is the Standard's durability, firepower, and rushing
capability (the last one provided by its guns, as elaborated in the next section). The
Standards' ability to weather hits means that you have a higher chance of surviving hits.
Once you do get within range, your firepower allows you to put a lot of hurt on your
target, and with very good gunners you can really bring the pain on. And because of the
guns, you can continue to chase your target down as he retreats.
One more nuance about the Raging Bull is that it works better against bigger BBs than
against smaller ones. This is because, at higher levels, players tend to try to engage
their targets at maximum range, and avoid shooting at them much closer. Because of this,
very few players will be skilled enough to shoot more than a few degrees below their
maximum angle. As a BB1, your range disadvantage turns into your greatest advantage, as
you engage them at ranges known well to yourself, while your opponent is frantically
trying to guess which angle corresponds to the range that you're at, giving you more
time to put out as much firepower as possible.
Played properly, a Raging Bull can take down at least one larger enemy BB, and while
it may cost you your own ship, putting an enemy BB4 out of play can make a huge
difference for your team.
12" Guns vs. 14" Guns
In your BB1 you have two general categories of main armament, 12" guns and 14" guns. The
12" guns are simply the triple 12" N's and L's used primarily by the Alaska and Guam,
respectively, while the 14" guns are the 14"45 Mk 9 (dual) and Mk 10 (triple) guns (NOTE:
This does not include the 14"50 Mk 7 triple guns used on the remodels, those are BB2 guns).
Now, general logic dictates that since 14" is a greater diameter than 12", the 14" guns
would be superior in every way. Not so, since historically, the 12" guns that were
developed for the Alaska class were developed in the years leading up to and during the
war, while the 14" guns were mostly built in the early inter-war period, and rebuilt at
least a decade before the war actually began. As a result, the 12" guns are really, at
minimum, equal to the older 14" guns.
In terms of equality, each set of guns has the same range. Obviously the 14" Mk 9's and
10's will match range with each other since they were designed to work with each other on
the Nevada, but the maximum range of these guns is equal at each tier with the maximum
range of the 12" guns. The 12" L's have the same range as the 14" Mk 9 L and Mk 10 L, the
12" N's match range with the 14" Mk 9 N and Mk 10 N, and so on. So, in layman's terms, the
Guam matches range with the Nevada, NM30, Penn30, and Tenn41, but an Alaska with 12" N's
is outranged by all of these.
Now, on to the differences, which are vast and many.
The first of these differences is the shell damage. The 14" guns are rated at around 2000
damage per shell, while the 12" guns are rated at approximately 2200. While this doesn't
seem like such a huge difference at first, remember that this is per shell, and when you
multiply that difference by 9 or 12 for each salvo you fire (and you will be firing lots
of salvos), it adds up.
With their recommended setups, the Alaska and Guam are rated at 19.8k potential maximum
damage per salvo, the Nevada at 20k per salvo (the extra barrel compensates for inferior
shell damage compared to the Alaska family), and the other Standards at 24k maximum
damage output per salvo.
The maximum angle of these guns is also a large difference, perhaps the biggest one. At 45
degrees, the 12" guns have a high slinging angle that makes the player lose more range
while chasing (remember reading about that in my BB tactics guide?) but also gain more
range while running. The 14" guns, on the other hand, have a 30 degree max angle, which
makes them well-suited for chasing ships, as they lose much less range while chasing and
give their targets little chance to dodge the salvo; this, in a nutshell, is what makes
the Raging Bull tactic for the Standards possible. As a result, the 12" guns serve
better for passive combat players, while aggressive players may prefer the 14" guns. Be
warned, though, that the armor penetration on the 14" guns is also very miserable because
of the low angle, so tackling armored targets with these guns can be a huge challenge
(this also applies to the 14" Mk 7's).
Another major difference is weight. Back in the Suckvada days when the USN 14" guns were
unusable, Nevada drivers were forced to put 12" L's on all four of their mounts, which did
give them somewhat impressive firepower, but at the massive cost of speed on a ship that
was already extremely slow to begin with. Both 14" guns weigh considerably less than the
12" guns (with the 14" Mk 9's the difference is greater, obviously), which allows players
to run a faster ship with the 14" guns.
Oddly, the required gun space for these guns is in the reverse of their weight and
effectiveness, with the 14" Mk 10's requiring more space than the 12"s; obviously, as the
14" Mk 9's are dual guns, they require less space than the 12"s, which are triple guns.
This makes mounting the 14" Mk 10's a rather tricky proposition on the Alaska and Guam,
whereas mounting the 12" guns on the Standard Types is quite easily done and even gives
you more space for ammo (the obvious exception being the B and X mounts on the Nevada,
which were designed to carry the 14" Mk 9's).
So, if you decide to mount different guns on your ship than what the design originally
intended, what happens?
In the case of players putting 14" guns on their Alaska and Guam, the loss of firepower or
range can be quite large. On the Alaska, mounting the 14" Mk 9 L's gives you only six
barrels of inferior firepower at slightly better range and considerable weight savings,
while mounting the 14" Mk 10 D's gives you the same weight savings and nine barrels of 14"
firepower, at the great cost of range and firepower (since each shell does less damage),
as well as only being able to carry 2 binds of ammo. In the case of the Guam, putting on
the 14" Mk 9 L's saves you considerable weight at the cost of almost half of your
firepower, while the 14" Mk 10 N's saves you a lot of weight at the expense of range,
firepower, and ammo capacity (2 binds is not enough for prolonged engagements).
Overall, a six-barrel salvo of 14" will give you a maximum salvo output of 12k, which is
nearly half of what is possible with the 12" guns. A nine-barrel salvo of 14" will net you
18k maximum damage per salvo, but this is at inferior range since you're using the N and
D variants, plus you have to deal with the drastic shortage of ammo, a total of 2 binds
For these reasons, putting the 14" guns on the Alaska and Guam is not really recommended,
except for a specialized setup, since the extra speed gained from the extra usable
displacement is not really worth the loss in firepower or range. For aggressive players
who like the low maximum angle of the 14" guns, it could be used under special
circumstances, since the low slinging angle makes it easier to chase enemies, another
thing that the Alaska class excels at with its excellent speed. But remember that even
with nine barrels of 12" firepower, an Alaska or Guam is still hard-pressed to bring down
their target in an optimal number of salvos; the inferior firepower, range, and
availability of ammo that comes with carrying nine barrels of 14" increases this
difficulty somewhat, and cutting the number of barrels down to six makes a slugging match
a losing proposition, especially with the glass jaw that these ships carry. As a result,
the 14" Mk 9 L's can turn the Alaska and Guam into quite fast hit-and-run ships, but with
a fair denunciation of the "hit" part of that title.
Mounting the 12" guns on the ships more suited to carry the 14" guns (namely the NM30,
Penn30, and Tenn41), on the other hand, is something that's quite doable. As these ships
have more staying power than the Alaska family even with the 14" guns, putting on the 12"
guns gives them passive combat ability, which makes them hard opponents to chase given
their increased firepower (26.4k potential damage per salvo, compared to 24k), and the
longer running range afforded to them by the higher slinging angle. The Raging Bull card
can't really be played with these guns, as the additional weight slows them down quite a
bit, so passive combat is a far better choice here.
As I said in my BB tactics guide, most BB1s are simply the first ship that players get
their hands on that are classified as BattleShip or BattleCruiser. In this case, the USN
BB1s are the pre-refit Standard Type Battleships, plus the two members of the Alaska class
Large Cruisers. Now, historically, the Alaska and Guam were Large Cruisers, not
battlecruisers, but SDE saw fit to term them as battlecruisers, so you get stuck holding
the short end of the stick there (which you should get used to). But besides that, pretty
much all BB1s for all nations are hard to play, and only really get "good" once your crew
is ready to handle the next ship down the line. Not exactly fair, but something that you
should get used to.
Right when you start out, you will learn to absolutely hate the Alaska as a BB. While its
capabilities allow even a Blitz noob to wipe the floor with most other CAs in the game, it
doesn't fare so well against other BBs. It has the support slots of a CA, the least range
of all BB1s in the game, absolutely horrid at-level spread, and paper-thin durability.
Still, all is not lost. Why is that? Well, besides the fact that what makes the Alaska
suck is because your crew is at-level rather than flaws with the ship itself, the Alaska
is one of the few BBs in the game that can hit the overheat cap without even trying, among
its various perks. If you can use the advantages that the Alaska provides properly, it can
serve as a worthwhile ship to drive.
The mistake that most new players make with their Alaska is that they try to play it as a
line ship; with no range, firepower, or durability, this almost always ends up with the
Alaska being one-shotted by that BB5 across the map without a second thought. Trying to
put an Alaska on the battle line is an absolutely terrible idea, so don't even try.
Fortunately, as you will see, there are other ways to use your Alaska successfully,
without the risk of being pulverized by the big guys.
One of the biggest problems in playing the Alaska is in dealing with the spread of the
guns, which is horrible because of the level of your gunners. The only way to deal with
this is either by spending money on your crew or by leveling them up higher. However, this
isn't as big of a problem as it was before, since the guns that the Alaska normally uses
have an accuracy revision bonus, which becomes more apparent at higher levels (my gunners
can practically block with them). Until you reach that high level though, there's not much
you can do except deal with it.
Durability is also a huge problem, as the Alaska has the same number of support slots as
the Baltimore you commanded before, and is a large target to boot. There will be times
when you will think that your Baltimore was more durable, since it could absorb BB shells
more reliably, and this is not far from the truth. However, this is also something that
you have to deal with until your support sailors get better. Be warned, though, that this
"glass jaw" effect is something that doesn't ever quite stop bothering the Alaska.
In general, most players use the 12" N's as the main guns on their Alaska, since the 12"
L's only afford you two binds of ammo. The high slinging angle on these guns makes them
hard to use in a chasing scenario, and as a result some people opt to mount the 14" Mk 9
L's or 14" Mk 10 D's for their lower angle to reduce the hang time, though the
disadvantages from doing this are generally not worth it in my opinion. How you set it up,
however, is entirely up to you. But my experience tells me that the 12" N's are the best
gun to use on the ship.
The secondary battery on the Alaska is quite nice, far better than what you can expect
from the Standard Types, which makes it and the Guam unique among USN BB1s. With AA
guns mounted on it (see my AA guide sticky for more details), the survivability of the
Alaska can be increased considerably; you can shoot down scouts to blind your opponents,
or bring down those bombers gunning for you. When used behind the line, the Alaska can be
used quite successfully as a support ship.
The engine choice can be a bit complicated here. While most new players choose the BC
Heavy Engine, the CV IV Heavy Engine is a better choice because it's lighter, giving you a
bit more usable displacement. Performance-wise, though, there's not that much of a
difference; the Alaska's high overheat ratio means that it will hit the overheat cap with
either engine, but the CV IV engine will give you an extra bit of overheat time. In terms
of cost, the CV IV engine is also cheaper, so it's overall superior. In this case,
researching your options before buying something really does pay off.
Because of this, the Alaska is a very fast ship, and you shouldn't hesitate to exploit
every last ounce of that 49+ knot overheat speed. It's quite long, which makes it easy to
land shells on, but it's also very slim, which can make it extremely hard to hit if you
know how to maneuver it. In fact, the slimness, combined with the speed, can make the
Alaska a very hard ship to bomb, which can greatly frustrate the CVs on the other team; I
once managed to completely avoid being damaged for five minutes in my Alaska while under
the full undivided attention of three enemy CVs.
The Alaska has the ability to carry 5 or 6 scouts, which will come in very handy for your
team, and can launch two of them at a time. Compared to later BBs that you will drive, this
is a boon that you cannot afford not to exploit. Use those scouts frequently, and don't be
afraid to conduct risky maneuvers with them if it will result in better scout coverage for
When playing the Alaska, you have two choices, as elaborated in the Pre-BB1 Reading
section: Support style and Ninja style. If you're just learning the ropes with the
Alaska, then Support style is a good way to ease into the ship. You can start by playing
Support for the biggest ship on your team, and as you get better, do it for a group of
ships in your hemisphere. When you feel confident enough, you can switch to Ninja style.
Overall, the Alaska is certainly not the best BB1 out there, but it does have some
surprises up its sleeve that can be used to pull off some nifty tricks that only the
Alaska and Guam can do. Your speed, AA, and scouts are your biggest assets, so don't be
afraid to use them. Your spread is the least predictable factor in using the Alaska, so
when in doubt, be sure to make your shots count. And try not to get hit whenever you can,
as at-level, it only takes a few heavy shells to put you into a bad situation.
The vast majority of players tend to remodel their Alaska into the Guam, or skip the
Alaska altogether and remodel straight to the Guam upon purchase, since the Guam is better
in most areas overall than the Alaska, and at-level the Alaska is one of the hardest ships
in the game to play. As a result, most players see the Alaska as more of a stepping stone
ship rather than a true BB1 in itself, and this is fine since the Guam does outstrip the
Alaska in virtually every way at high levels. However, at-level, the Alaska does hold the
advantage of hitting the speed cap right off the bat, which very few ships can accomplish.
As a remodel to the Alaska, there's not much more that you can expect from the Guam than
what you would have expected from the Alaska. The Guam is better in almost every way than
the Alaska except for speed, but not by much. As a result, you really should play the Guam
like you did the Alaska, but with these changes in mind.
The Guam isn't much more durable than the Alaska, but it does come with an extra support
slot, which does help immensely. Your durability is still that of a BB1 though, so don't
get your hopes up too high. The extra DP and support slot help you absorb hits somewhat
more reliably, but any big BB will still have more than enough firepower to take you out
very quickly if you decide to go toe-to-toe with them. Just think of it as having more
elbow room for making mistakes, but not much more. Beware of the glass jaw though, as that
is one flaw that's carried over from the Alaska.
Gun spread will have hopefully improved as well if you've leveled your gunners properly,
so hitting targets more consistently will be easier in the Guam. The general
recommendation here is to use the 12" L's as they offer the best combination of range and
firepower for the ship, but as with the Alaska, putting on 14" guns could improve your
rushing and speed capabilities at the cost of firepower, ammo, and armor penetration.
Again, my experience tells me that the 12" L's are the best way to go.
The AA suite for the Guam is basically an improved version of that for the Alaska, so you
can mount the same types of guns with more ammo, which does come in handy. Which guns
you mount are entirely up to you, or even if you want to mount AA guns at all. However, as
with the Alaska, using AA can increase the viability of your ship considerably, and it
wouldn't be smart not to take advantage of such a great secondary battery.
The Guam mounts virtually the same engine as the Alaska, but because of its lower overheat
ratio, it can't go nearly as fast right off the bat. At 42 knots with average at-level
engineers, it's still faster than most other ships out there, but you won't be able to
streak across the battlefield like you did in the Alaska. Most people consider this a
small price to pay for the other advantages that the Guam has over the Alaska, though.
Again, the Guam can carry 5 scouts with two-plane simultaneous launching capability, so
again, you should use these to the utmost advantage that you can. As I've stated multiple
times in my tactics guide, the team that does not scout properly will almost always be the
team that loses, so do your part in making sure that your team scouts properly.
Tactically, the Guam is played much the same way as the Alaska, but with more overall
resilience in exchange for speed. Both the Support and Ninja styles are viable, though in
this case players are encouraged to test their skills at the Ninja style, as it promotes
skill growth more than the Support style, and the Guam's enhanced capabilities allow you to
play Ninja better than Support. Used properly, a Ninja Guam can throw some extremely nasty
surprises in your opponents' faces, and alter the battlefield situation in a way that very
few BB1s can.
NEW MEXICO (1930)
Coming six levels after the Guam, having access to yet another BB1 may not seem like
an upgrade at all, but the New Mexico (1930) offers a completely different style of play
from the Guam. In fact, depending on your play style, you may find the NM30 to be more fun
to drive, as it offers a slower and steadier approach to BB play than the battlecruiser
style you learned from the Guam. While it can't quite be said that this is a complete
upgrade from the Guam, the NM30 is often underestimated by its opponents, to their
eventual sorrow should its driver be skilled. If you learn to master the battlecruiser
ninja style gameplay of the Guam as well as the steady line-battle tactics of the New
Mexico, you will be well on your way to become an expert in BB driving.
The very first feature that you'll probably notice about the NM30 is that it has four R
mounts over the Guam's three. This lets you bring more overall firepower to bear on your
targets, and should your gunners be good, allow you to sink most ships of the same tier
under most conditions. The recommended guns to use on the NM30 are the triple 14" Mk 10
L's, which are very different in performance from the Guam's 12" guns (you can read more
about in the "12" guns vs. 14" guns" section). With a total of twelve barrels of raw 14"
firepower, you can put a serious amount of hurt on your opponents if you're smart and lucky.
One of the downsides of the New Mexico is that you have nowhere near the amount of speed
to get within range of your opponent as the Guam; with a base overheat in the mid-30's,
you can only really hope to break into the high-30's with good Engineers a few levels
above the ship, a far cry from the Guam's minimum overheat speed of 42 knots. You'll be
roughly as fast as a Nevada, and a bit faster than a Penn30, but the differences at that
level are lost in the noise. The upshot, though, is that the New Mexico family doesn't
have the glass jaw of the Alaska family, so you have somewhat more survivability than you
would think. Just remember that you're still a BB1 though, and most medium-level BBs will
still have little problem putting you down if you challenge them brashly.
If this is your first line, the NM30 will be your first ship since the Brooklyn that
cannot carry any decent AA on the secondary batteries. If you got used to plinking scouts
in your Guam, then the transition can be somewhat rough here, but the bright side is that
you can use the T mounts to carry support sailors to extend your survivability
considerably, on top of the NM30's innate damage resistance. And at BB1 level, this can
make quite a difference. However, if you choose, you could opt to carry the 5"25 single AA
guns and give enemy scouts a nasty surprise.
On this side of the tree, the NM30 will be the first ship that cannot carry 5 scouts; with
a carrying capacity of 3 or 4 scouts, you'll have to learn to conserve your planes to make
the best of them in every situation. The numbers don't get better until you reach the
Iowa, so get used to it.
The NM30 has the ability, like its Standard Type brethren, to play a line battle against
other BB1s, rather than relying on ninja tactics or simply supporting the line like the
Alaska family. Against larger enemies with more range and firepower than you, though,
you'll have to rely on other techniques, like the Raging Bull (discussed in the Pre-BB1
Reading section). You won't really be able to rely on blinding the enemy to approach them
since you can't really carry a reliable AA suite, but if you can get within range of the
enemy, then you'll be able to dish out a fair amount of punishment on them, and maybe even
sink something. Learning to use your brain to tactically engage the enemy with your
inferior range is something that will serve you very well later on down the line.
Nicknamed the "Potato" and "Hamster" at times, the Nevada was once known as the
Suckvada, and held the reputation as the the worst BB1 in the game, tied with the IJN's
Kongo. Successfully playing through the Nevada in that time alone made players a SONS,
Survivor of Nevada's Suckiness. With patch cycles though, the Nevada has turned into a
nice boat that, while still a BB1, has the capability to surprise its opponents at times.
As a Standard, the Nevada doesn't have the advantage of having a large number of scouts,
or a usable AA battery, or even speed. What it does have, though, is firepower and durability.
It starts off with the proper number of support slots, is tougher than the Guam yet doesn't
share the glass jaw of the Alaska family, and sports more barrels and firepower at the same
range as the Guam. While it does still share the at-level pains of bad spread and horrible
support, these things are to be expected, and proper leveling will fix them.
The main guns for the Nevada are the 14" Mk 9 L's on the B and X mounts (those are the
ones closer to the superstructure), and the 14" Mk 10 L's on the A and Y mounts (the ones
closer to the ends of the ship). While the 14" guns do less damage per shell than the 12"
guns, the Nevada can carry ten barrels, as opposed to the nine barrels of the Alaska and
Guam. As a result, the Nevada can field more firepower, and the pure saturation factor of
ten barrels versus nine makes hitting targets easier as well.
The secondary battery on the Nevada leaves much to be desired, but that's to be expected.
Most players opt to leave the mounts gunless and put support sailors on to increase their
durability, but some players like to put the 5"25 singles on as a surprise factor. While
the 5"25's are far inferior to the 5"38's or 3"70's, if only because those guns have two
barrels per mount, most people don't expect a Nevada to carry AA, and as a result, will
blindly fly their scout right on top of it, only to be shocked as it gets picked off by a
4 barrel broadside.
One of the major reasons that the Nevada was horrible to play was because it was an
extremely slow ship. Nowadays that's not as much of a problem since it can carry a usable
main battery, but the Nevada remains a fairly slow ship by today's standards, coming in at
an overheat speed around the mid-30's with at-level engineers. As a result, conducting
combat maneuvers can be quite hard, and giving chase to an enemy is almost suicide if they
have half the brain to run. So you'll have to choose your engagements carefully, and make
absolutely sure that you can win that engagement or at least do as much damage as possible
before succumbing to the enemy's shells.
The Nevada can also only carry 3 or 4 scouts, which makes each individual scout more
important, and can launch them one at a time. If possible, try to use them sparingly and
carefully, and do your best not to lose any of them. The last thing you need is to have to
call in your allies to scout for you halfway through the game when there are still enemy BBs
lurking in the darkness around you. There will be times when you will need to sacrifice
one of them every now and then, but judgment and experience will help in that.
The way that I played the Nevada was by using the Raging Bull (discussed above). The
slowness of the Nevada doesn't help matters much, but by playing aggressively, you'll be
able to take your opponent by surprise and perhaps even survive the encounter to do it to
someone else again, depending on how good you and your crew are.
As a pre-cursor to the BB2 stage, most USN players must first get the pre-model to that
ship, the Penn30 being one of them; the Colorado is the only USN BB2 that does not have to
go through this. As an end-stage BB1, the Penn30 plays much like its peers, the NM30 and
Tenn41. It carries the same guns and has more or less the same capabilities, but it's the
remodel where things change completely. Initially, the Penn30 seems like only a minor
upgrade from the Nevada. You have more durability and firepower but less speed, and your
AA battery is still useless, but used properly, the Penn30 can tear holes through the
enemy like the Nevada.
The first thing that you will notice is that the Penn30's mounts are uniform, so you can
put 14" Mk 10 L's on all four mounts. This, in effect, gives you twelve barrels of raw 14"
firepower to dish out at targets. Some people option out for the Guam's 12" L's for
increased per-shell damage and better deck penetration, at the cost of losing speed and
rushing capability. This is largely a preference of playing style, with the 12" variant
excelling in passive combat, while the 14" variant can charge enemies more efficiently. I
never ran with the 12" guns since I wasn't so keen on losing speed and rushing capability,
so my general recommendation is to use the 14" Mk 10's.
The secondary battery, again, is more or less useless, and most people put on support
sailors for more durability and speed. You could choose to put AA guns on if you wanted,
as with the Nevada, since the surprise factor is quite considerable, but in some cases the
increased durability and speed can be a godsend.
As slow as the Nevada can seem, the Penn30 is even slower, but be comforted by the fact
that it's only by a knot or two. Still, this makes charging your opponents harder to do,
but when you do get in range, you'll hit like a pile of bricks. The trick is to get into
that range to begin with though, which will require practice, judgment, and a lot of luck.
The Penn30 carries 3 scouts like most other USN BBs, and launches them one at a time. This
bears the same issues of scout scarcity that the other BBs also suffer from. Use your
scouts carefully, and make sure that you get the most use out of them in each game.
I basically played the Raging Bull with the Penn30, like I did with the Nevada. Pick a
target bigger than yourself, cruise outside of enemy range, wait for an opportunity, and
charge in and beat them down when they're distracted. Again, when you charge in, you'll
essentially have to commit yourself to that battle, since retreating is a dangerous
proposition with such slow speed and inferior range to your opponent. Don't stop attacking
until your target is dead, or you are.
I have not driven the Tenn41 or Tenn45, so I can't offer any personal insight to how to
drive it. However, its general performance set is similar to that of its other BB1
Standard Type brethren, the Penn30 and NM30, so look at those respective sections for more
information. The one exception is that its T mounts do have enough space to mount a
limitedly useful secondary battery, though it does squeeze the ammo count a bit too close
for comfort; how you use that secondary battery is up to you.
Once considered among the worst in their class, the USN BB2s have become virtual
monsters with various patch cycles. They have two general play styles that you can
accord yourself to, and you have both of these options at your disposal whether you
chose the Brooklyn or the Northampton. With the exception of the Colorado, every
USN BB2 is a remodel of their BB1 iteration. However, these remodels aren't just
minor incremental advantages that let you carry a bit more ammo and have a bit
more durability; they are the penultimate step from being a lowly BB1 into being a
combat viable and fully-fledged BB2.
NEW MEXICO (1945)
If you opted to get the NM30 right when the opportunity presented itself, instead of
picking the Colorado 5 levels later, this will be the ship that you command at level 70.
While it shares the same battle sprite with the NM30, don't mistake it for one; it's
considerably deadlier, and despite being considered an inferior ship, is more than capable
of taking down anyone who underestimates it.
When you first look at the NM45, you'll notice that it does, in fact, look like a mere
incremental buff over the NM30: more durability, an extra support slot, and more gun
space. However, these are only surface differences, and the actual product is far
deadlier. While more durability and support is a given every time you upgrade your ship,
the additional gun space means that you can mount a new type of 14" gun, the 14" Mk 7 L's.
What these guns offer you are more range and more damage, allowing you to turn your raw
14" firepower into something to be truly reckoned with. While they don't quite compare to
the 16" shells used by the Colorado and Tenn45, you have enough saturation firepower to
raise serious hell when you want to.
While the NM45 carries the same engine as the NM30, it's capable of going considerably
faster. The slow speed that defined the pre-model Standards is gone with the remodel, and
used properly you can even attain the same speed as a Guam. However, reaching these
speeds requires good Engineers, and while this applies quite a bit to the NM45, it comes
off better than the Colorado and the Tenn45. You're certainly nowhere near as fast as a
Penn43 right when you get it, but the NM45 still hits its speed cap before the other two
The other major change is that the NM45 is capable of carrying an AA battery, which you
should put to good use. Combined with its higher speed, a cunning player can use the NM45
to ninja to a certain degree, though not nearly as well as the Alaska family. as with back
in your days with the Cleveland and Baltimore, you can take down scouts to blind your
enemy, or shoot down bombers approaching your battle line, which may even be targeted on
you. Some players drop the AA for more speed, as this can mean a difference of two knots
of overheat, but this is mainly a playstyle issue.
As with its pre-model iteration, the NM45 can only carry 3 or 4 scouts, so try to use them
wisely when possible. Depending on the skill of your opposition, you will almost certainly
run out before the end of a game, but that shouldn't prevent you from trying not to.
With all these enhanced capabilities, the NM45 is quite able to duke it out on the battle
line against its peers, instead of biding its time to attack a stronger opponent at the
right moment. This, in itself, is what makes the remodel well worth it. While it doesn't
have the raw firepower of the Colorado, it makes up for this with its superior saturation
firepower and superior speed, and due to sharing a sprite with the NM30, can cause people
to mistake your ship for one, a mistake you can capitalize on and punish them for.
Requiring players to grind their ship for five levels without picking the NM30 (and
before the PBBs were introduced), the Colorado was once considered a status
symbol and not much more. But patch cycles have turned this baby into what many
consider not only the best USN BB2, but also one of the best BB2s in the whole
game. It's durable, it's not horribly slow, and it is extremely lethal when put in the
right hands. Truly, those who grind through the Guam for 11 levels to reach this ship
have earned their right to command such a powerful battleship.
While not able to mount its now-deleted historical guns, the Colorado is capable of
mounting the dual 16"s planned for the Lexington class battlecruisers. That's actually
a good thing, since its historical gun set had next to no range, while the dual 16"s it
uses now are capable of tearing through targets with ridiculous ease at long range.
Compared to the Guam's 12" L's, these guns are fully capable of doubling your damage
potential without breaking a sweat, as USN 16" shells are among the most damaging in the
The secondary battery of the Colorado is usable, but not quite as spacious as the
mounts that you used on your Guam. You can mount AA guns on them, but you'll be
limited to less ammo, so you may need to pick your shots wisely (though to be
serious, you should remember that a battleship's main job is to kill the other team's
battleships, not clear the skies of enemy planes; that's what AA ships and fighters
are for). Leaving the mounts empty is, of course, always an option as well, as doing
so can increase your durability and your speed as well (remember that you're
carrying eight guns in your secondary battery, and that weight does add up).
Unfortunately, the Colorado is quite a bit slower than the Guam, clocking in at the
mid- to high-30s overheat, but that's to be expected of going from a "battlecruiser"
(which was built for speed) to a battleship (which was built to slug it out). As you
also have more durability and are lacking of the glass jaw that was such a glaring
annoyance on the Alaska family, this ship is actually capable of playing the battle line
fairly reliably, but not nearly as well as any higher tier BB, obviously.
You have three scouts to play around with, no surprise there, and you can launch
one at a time, again no surprise. Going from the five on the Guam to this can be somewhat
disconcerting at first, but once you learn to conserve those scouts, you'll be a better
player for it.
Going from the Guam to the Colorado is like going from night to day. From a ninja
ship that relies on speed and stealth to surprise and defeat the enemy, to a tough and
reliable workhorse that can throw down on the battle line, the change of playing style is
rather large. However, remember that even though it's much more of a line ship than
the Guam, you're still in a BB2, and you can still be erased from the map just as easily
by that BB5.
One of the most awesome things about the Colorado is that it can play what is invariably
called the "Mini-Monty" or "Short-Range Boomstick" setup, and mount and carry the triple
16" guns used by the SoDak and NC. With only the D variants able to fit, and these
variants giving you even less range than the dual 16" L's, you'll be scrambling to get in
range of an enemy without being obliterated. However, once you do achieve range, you can
virtually erase them from the map in a few well-placed salvos that reload faster than your
standard guns. Tossing around twelve (!!!) shells of USN 16" will almost guarantee a kill
every time. But be warned that those guns will make you quite slow, and that you can only
carry two binds of ammo on each gun with this setup, so you will have to pick your targets
extremely carefully; aim for large BBs and make your shots count, and ignore any small
targets, leaving them for your allies to dispose of.
Virtually the fastest USN BB2, the Penn43 can be a real devil in the right hands. While it
still uses 14" guns in name, these things can dish out a lot more pain than the 14"
Mk 9's and Mk 10's that the pre-model Standards used, at longer range as well. If you like
playing high-speed combat and hit-and-run games, then the Penn43 is the ship for
The optimal guns for the Penn43 are the 14" Mk 7 L's. These are superior to the 14"
Mk 10 L's in range and firepower, but the shell spread will leave a bad taste in your
mouth. While the low slinging angle makes it harder for your targets to dodge your shots,
they also make it much harder to punch through deck armor. As a result, many people prefer
not to carry AP ammo with these guns, and simply rush their targets and kick them in the
belt. Some people try to put the dual 16" N's on their ship, which affords more per-shell
punching power and deck penetration at the cost of range and rushing capability.
Personally, I always ran with the 14" Mk 7 L's, as those suit the ship better, and
voluntarily sacrificing range is rarely a good habit to get into.
The remodel also affords you a usable secondary battery, which, on this side of the
tree, would be the first time that you can mount usable AA since your Oakland. Depending
on your preference, you can choose to carry AA on your Penn43, or opt to put support
sailors on and use the saved weight for more speed.
Speaking of which, the Penn43 is an extremely fast boat, capable of hitting the
speed cap of 42+ knots with next to no effort. If you opt not to carry AA and to minimize
your armor, you'll be a virtual speed demon in this thing, capable of pulling hit-and-runs
on unsuspecting opponents, or even pulverize them altogether before they know what's
happening. While the Tenn45 does eventually get faster at high levels, the key phrase
there is "at high levels." The Penn43 starts out right next to the speed cap, while the
Tenn45 takes a good long while to get there.
You have three scouts on this thing, like on your Penn30. Use them the same way.
With its plentiful speed and reliable hitting capability combined with well-suited
low-angle guns, the Penn43 is capable of dancing around the battlefield like a Guam,
just without the glass jaw. This lets you pull hit-and-run tactics fairly easily, and you can
rush opponents with fair reliability using the 14" Mk 7 L's since their low max angle
causes you to lose less range while chasing. Be warned, though, that the shell spread on
these guns tends to be somewhat iffy compared to the 16" duals, so making your
shots count is important. Also, as mentioned, watch out for armored ships, and always be
ready to do some up close and personal work if needed.
Again, I have not played with the Tenn41 or Tenn45, since I took the Penn30 and
Penn43, so I have no detailed advice to offer here. However, from discussions with
fleetmates and other players, I can surmise that its performance level and playing style
are similar to that of the Colorado, which I have played, so look in the Colorado section
for general advice. While the Tenn45 is also capable of carrying the triple 16" D's like
the Colorado, it can only carry one bind of ammo on each gun, which obviates using them in
even a fun setup, since you only get 12 salvos.
USN BB3 have gone through many changes in the past that they hardly resemble their first
iterations anymore. Even in the recent past, they have often been underestimated and
improperly driven, leading many to think that they were lacking in capability. However, now
they stand among some of the most fearsome BBs that you could ever have to face in the game.
While being able to drive the 1920 pipe dream version of the South Dakota class battleship
will have to remain a pipe dream, the 1939 class is, luckily, available for use in this
game. Unfortunately, because it's one of the most plentiful BBs around due to the
popularity of the Brooklyn in Noobskrieg, the number of improperly set-up SoDaks that run
around on a daily basis is enough to make most peoples' heads spin. Hopefully, this guide
will help sort out what is the right way and the wrong way to use this BB3.5. And no, that
is not a typo, the SoDak truly is one of the best BB3s in this game when driven right.
The guns that you should use on the South Dakota are the level 80 triple 16" Mk 3 L's.
Those are the guns with the 40 degree max angle, not the ones with the 45 degree max
angle. Those guns are used on the North Carolina, which we'll get into later. Now, with
these guns, you have some real serious punching power at your fingertips (USN 16" shells
tend to wreck their targets quite efficiently, as you may have found out if you've ever
driven a Colorado), though they're also a bit lacking in range compared to some other BB3
guns. However, if you're good at aiming, you can put some serious hurt on your opponents.
The secondary battery is useful, just like with the Colorado or NM45; not as useful as it
would be if you had the five-mount broadside that the other members of the South Dakota
class had, but still useful. Put guns on to swat away planes, or run them empty with
support sailors to increase your speed and durability. As the SoDak is capable of
extremely high speeds, some players capitalize on this and run AA-less to maximize this
advantage, though it's largely a matter of personal preference.
With various patch cycles, the SoDak isn't the SlowDak anymore, but rather the polar
opposite. The best engine choice is the CV IV Heavy Engine, as with the Alaska and Guam.
It gives you the most horesepower for your buck, giving you an overheat of 42+ knots right
out of the box if you've kept up on leveling your engineers (that's how fast mine went
when I first got it, and that was only with two engineers). While you can't reach the
dreaded 49 knots that it once used to terrorize the battlefield, you can easily squeeze
out 45 knots without even trying.
You have room for 3 scouts, and two catapults to use them from. Please use those scouts.
The number of scoutless BBs out there right now is enough to make anyone collapse into
A great player once said, "playing the Guam is the best training you can get for playing
the SoDak," and this statement holds true. With enough speed, a SoDak can dance around
the battlefield like a Guam, only with much more durability, range, firepower, and at
higher levels, more speed; in fact, with good Engys, you will be able to streak around as fast
as an Alaska. You not only have the option of playing in a limited line battle with the
SoDak, but when you factor in its amazing speed, you have the ability to pick when to
engage your opponent and pulverize them. If you opt to sacrifice speed for AA capability,
you can blindside your opponents very effectively by taking out their scouts, much more so
than the Guam.
I personally used the SoDak as a BB5 bully. Since most BB5s are extremely big and slow,
and not exactly driven by the best players these days, cloaking yourself in the fog of war
with your AA and then charging them in the darkness will almost always result in a kill.
As long as they're blind, they can't shoot back effectively. Their large size works
against them since it provides more surface area for you to land your USN 16" shells on.
And their slow speed prevents them from being able to escape you.
On the battlefield, one of the worst enemies you could ever have to face is a 47-knot
SoDak that knows what it's doing...
With various patch cycles, the NC has become a virtual monster overnight. Once thought
inferior to the Tenn45 and Penn43, the NC how has the ability to duke it out on the battle
line and absolutely devastate just about any other BB3 in the game.
While various patches have fixed this issue somewhat, the NC is a somewhat frail ship
compared to other BB3, as it shares the glass jaw that the Alaska family suffers from. Enemy
shells will seem to do more damage than usual to the NC compared to other ships you may
have driven before. While you can afford to make some mistakes, playing carefully in the
NC is something that you should always do.
The guns that you should be using on the NC are the triple 16" Mk 6 L's, the ones with the 45
degree max angle. While it may be challenging to land complete salvos on targets, these guns
afford you more range than most other BB3 in the game, and you can use this extra range to
keep them at arm's length while beating them down. Beware, though, that the high angle also
makes it very difficult to chase enemies, so rushing is something that should be carefully
The secondary battery on the NC is rather nice, sporting a potential of 10 barrels in
either broadside. This makes it somewhat easier to bring down enemy air squadrons,
especially with the concentration of the battery positions. Not taking advantage of these
mounts, given the lack of advantages for the NC in other departments, is not a wise choice
The BB V Heavy Engine is the only real choice of engine here. With good engineers, you
should be able to make speed in the high-30s, and with high-level engineers, break into
the low-40s. The NC is, unfortunately, not a very fast ship, but it's also not horribly slow
either. This average speed can make it difficult to perform combat maneuvers at times,
but it's far from impossible.
Like the SoDak, you get only 3 scouts to use, so use them wisely. At these levels, losing
all your scouts can make life very hard for you, since your guns are much longer ranged
than before and that's a whole lot more darkness around you to worry about.
The NC makes one hell of a line ship, and if you can play smart and use your AA, you can even
get within range of BB4s and blow them away, even more so since players tend to
underestimate its capabilities. Blinding the enemy in the NC isn't quite a necessity, but
it does help immensely since it takes away your glass jaw disadvantage, which evens the
playing field immensely. The best games that I've managed in my NC have always been when I
was able to blind my opponents and blast away at them when they can't see me; while this
certainly applies to any BB out there, it's one of the best niches that the NC can fit
into due to its enhanced AA battery.
Not a lot that I can say about the Iowa at this point. I've only had a few games in it so
don't expect a guide here any time soon. When I do have a better handle on it though, I'll
update this section when I have the time. But in any case, you should't need a guide for the
Iowa if you've gotten this far, so you should be able to make do whether or not I write
I have no plans to grind for the Monty at this time, so don't expect anything here. But as
above, you shouldn't need a guide for this ship. Seriously, if you need advice at this
level in the game, you should probably start all over and learn from scratch.
A NOTE ON "SKILL"
While this may seem like common sense, the performance level and complaints of many
players out there would seem to indicate otherwise, so this does deserve a section of its
own. It may seem long and preachy, but hell, this whole guide is, and if you don't like
it, then don't read it.
In today's game, it is a well known fact that the skill level on an individual basis is
far lower than it was in the past. You can debate about the actual causes of this, whether
it's Blitz, shared XP, Premium subscriptions, what have you, that's not the point of this
section. The purpose of this section is to explain how to remedy the problem on an
From time to time, you may see a lower tier ship sink a higher tier ship with relative
ease, or perhaps the converse happens, and you may see what is lauded as one of the best
ships of a class being manhandled and taken out by what is perceived as an inferior ship.
While there can be many circumstances as to why this happens, such as the higher tiered
ship having been damaged and not at full strength at the time, or scouting coverage on
both teams favoring the lower tiered ship, or simply a fluke, people may be tempted to take to
the forums and complain that something must be wrong with the ships themselves. But more
often than not, the key reason for the larger ship's defeat is a little something called "skill."
While there are issues with various ships that are largely well-known, many of these issues
have stopgap measures that temporarily alleviate them for the time being. But in cases where
the balance works properly, these instances of a small ship taking out a big ship one-on-one
still occur. So does that mean that the balance is incorrect? Should the smaller ship be nerfed
and the larger ship buffed? In this case, no; this is where skill plays a role.
So what, exactly, is skill? At the most basic definition, it simply means that when two
opponents on equal footing face each other, the one with more skill will emerge
victorious. So, for the case of NF, skill means being able to control your ship precisely,
being able to aim and shoot properly (assuming that your gunners don't suck), and being
able to make judgments in the heat of battle that will result in your victory. Of these
three, the last is the most important, as no amount of aiming and maneuvering prowess will
save you from a tactically futile situation.
Of course, one of the most favorite complaints by people is that these so-called "farmers"
have quad-gold crew (in this case, it means that their crew is all above level 100). And to
an extent, this is true, but not always. The thing to consider is that all abilities have caps,
which means that no matter how high leveled your sailors are, they cannot perform better
than this cap.
The same principle applies to ships; all ships have a maximum limit on their performance
capabilities. No amount of engineers will make a properly set up BB go faster than 50
knots, uber gunners cannot make the guns reload in 6 seconds, and no amount of support
crew will ever make a ship have more than 900 SD. To be sure, a ship playing at the
maximum caps can be quite dangerous, but it is still capped nonetheless.
And even without high-leveled crew, it is still possible for at-level ships to take on and
take out ships higher leveled than themselves, which are at the cap. And this is where
skill comes in; in NF, skill is what makes it possible to take an inferior ship and defeat
superior ships, or to achieve victory when both opponents are equal. Skill is an aspect of
the player, rather than an aspect of the ship.
So, how does one "gain" skill? Well, common sense dictates that if one plays long enough
and learns from it, they will gain skill, while one who only plays to gain levels and
learns nothing along the way will not. This is one of the key factors that separates the
"good" players from the "bad" ones, the will to learn.
Rule number 1 of gaining skill, always have the proper attitude. Don't grind through a
ship just to get the next one, learn from your experiences and become better from them.
Learn which tactics resulted in victory, and remember which mistakes caused your defeat so
that you won't repeat them again. Playing through a ship with disadvantages teaches you
how to play in such a way to negate them. And if you can apply that to the next ship, and
the one after that, then there is no way you can go wrong.
Another rule that ties into this is, always exhibit competence. As I outlined the most
basic rules of competence in my BB tactics guide, be sure to memorize those rules. Knowing
what is and isn't smart will become second nature over time, but playing smart is one of
the scarcest resources in this game, so be sure to learn it while you can. Playing
irresponsibly not only costs you personal victory, but may also cost victory to your team.
Do it long enough, and it'll be a long grind to the next ship.
Of course, controlling your own ship is only part of the equation, another major part lies
in controlling the battlefield. This is somewhat harder than influencing your own
individual battles, but it's an integral part of learning how to play with teamwork. While
winning your own battles will help your team, knowing how the entire battle itself is
flowing, and adapting yourself to it, will significantly improve your chances of victory.
While most battles will remain two masses of individuals fighting for themselves, learning
how to influence the overall flow will only help you and your team.
The final lesson to learn is, judgment. With time and experience, your judgment will grow.
If you learn the proper lessons, you will get better faster, and if you continue along
this road, your skill will be honed to a fine point. And when that time arrives, you will
be a menace on the battlefield that will be able to take out almost any other ship, or
even entire teams, no matter what ship you are in.