Be better at Warships by knowing historical tactics

Just the word “history” makes some people start to nod off immediately. But at (source) we are all about sinking ships, early, often, and over and over again.

Historical tactics gives us a simple-to-complex learning curve, and helps of have a clear head as we seek to wreck as many opposing ships as possible.

Sailing Tactics


This is what happens in most pub matches. It is best described by the dictionary definition:

1. in disorderly, headlong haste; in a recklessly hurried manner.
2. in a confused or jumbled mass, crowd, manner, etc.:
Don’t do this! This is why we have all of the following tactics to draw from:


The melee (pronounced may-lay) is what you most commonly see in a WoWS pub match: ships mixing it up and shooting. This isn’t always a bad thing, because high-power ships tend to engage each other, allowing more modest ships to engage with reduced risk.

The problem with melee is it gets chaotic, and if the battle turns against you, your team has little recourse. There is also a much higher chance of friendly fire, especially from torpedoes.

Melee is a good choice in cases where you need Light Cruisers and Destroyers to engage enemy Battleships in situations where they would be very vulnerable. Essentially the BB’s trade fire while the smaller ships tip the scales.

Line of Battle

There are two ideas driving LoB: as a unit, your ships make a wall; a sort of floating fortress of guns that blows apart any ship that approaches it. The second concept is maintaining distance.

In LoB your ships-of-the-line (namely Battleships and Heavy Cruisers) picket along a designated line, maintaining a broadside presentation to the enemy. When a target presents, multiple ships bring all their guns to bear on that target.

An example of both sides running a line of battle
An example of both sides running a line of battle

Line of Battle is essentially a great focus fire tactic. The downside is it’s defensive… you won’t capture any objectives with it, and it’s limited to highly armored ships. Frankly I think the game could use more of this tactic, as the default attack most of the time is pel-mel, making the enemy especially vulnerable to focus fire.

But what do light ships do? They must either find islands and hide and provide crossfire, or stay behind the SoTL and use them as meat shields, providing supporting fire as they can. But because LoB is defensive, taking an objective can go a long way to help your team, if you can do it safely. You can also benefit your team by spotting for the SoTL.

As ships turn into a picket, they can either turn following, and all be sailing in the same direction, or they can turn crossing, meaning they will pass other ships of the line. Each has an advantage depending on the situation.

At Anchor

For the purposes of WoWS, At Anchor is the positioning of your ship in a strategic position, and coming to a full stop. This allows you to sight your guns down a common corridor, and hide behind islands. Also, on open water, unscrupulous captains may mistakenly lead you as a target, putting their shots off your bow.

This can be a particularly beneficial tactic for small ships, allowing them to fire torpedoes and run.

Once you are detected by ship or aircraft, you should get moving.

Jigger Butt

Okay, I admit I just made this one up. But it’s the tactic of sailing so erratically, enemy ships will consistently miss you. Great for destroyers and some of the more maneuverable light cruisers.


Ramming is a very legitimate battle tactic when done correctly. Ramming is all about weight: if a full-health Cruiser rams an almost dead Battleship, chances are the Cruiser will sink.

Ramming is a good way to clear the water when a melee becomes too crowded. Consider it as an option, especially if you have a heavy American Cruiser or a fast Japanese Battleship.

Aiming Tactics


This French tactic focuses on rendering a ship ineffective, rather than sink it. Ironically this is a solid tactic when beating a retreat. If you are pulling back from engagement, you usually aren’t going to sink the ship you are engaged with.

The idea here then, is to neutralize engines, guns, or components in order to make the attack against you the least effective. Of course this means shooting HE (High Explosive) for maximum component damage.


This Dutch tactic is all about putting ships at the bottom of the sea. It is commonly observed in pub matches, except that players sometimes stop short of actually sinking the enemy ship. It is important to remove their guns from the game by sinking them. This generally means shooting at the hull and AP (Armor Piercing) when appropriate.


This British/Scottish tactic is to put secondary guns to maximum use. Learn what ships have good secondary gun range. Look at secondary gun upgrades. If your ship has strong secondaries, consider closing in to secondary range. It’s not always a good idea, but if you can pull it off it will give you an edge.

One might think this would be good in a melee, however if everyone has secondaries going, it’s not exactly an advantage.

Another key aspect of carronade is that your secondaries are engaged at any heading, allowing you to maintain fire while you swing your primary guns around.

Raking Fire

Raking fire is the act of shooting along the length of a ship. This is usually combined with the tactic of breaking a line and flanking.

In many cases if you are raking an enemy ship, and you can get some plunge on your arc, it is actually advantageous to fire AP. That way the shot rips through the whole length of the ship. You do not want to fire at the hull because of the chance of bounce, so try to put shots down through the deck and superstructure.

Grouping Tactics

Whether you are in a Division, or trying to get a few pubbies to work together, consider these tactical groupings:

Escort Group

An escort group is a healthy combination of ship types working together. This is essential in WoWS for the protection of Battleships against Destroyers and torpedo-equipped Cruisers.

Typically one or more Cruisers should buddy-up with a Battleship in order to clear away Destroyers and light Cruisers ahead of it.

Wolf Pack

A Wolf Pack is several ships of the same type working together. Typically this excludes Battleships, but can be great for Cruisers, Destroyers, and even Carriers (bomber squadrons). By working in twos and threes, Destroyers can almost ensure destruction of an agreed upon target. Often Cruisers and Carriers can do the same.

It is important to not Wolf Pack at the expense of Battleship escort. Make sure the Battleships are protected, then Wolf all you want!

That’s it for now. I will cover torpedo tactics, as well as Carrier tactics in future installments. Good luck and calm seas!

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