WoWS – A Possible Solution to Detonations: Ammunition Fires

Written by beachedwhale1945

Background

There are few things as disappointing in World of Warships as going from full health to no health from a single shell. Unlike in World of Tanks or War Thunder, where some skill and vehicle knowledge can improve your chances of causing or preventing a detonation (knowing what to protect/aim at), detonations in World of Warships are almost completely up to RNG due to dispersion. Even people, like myself, who think magazine detonations should remain in the game want the system improved.

When I initially drafted this post, beyond making the detonation more interesting (bigger boom, damage nearby ships) I had not seen a proposal that solves this problem beyond reducing the frequency or removing detonations entirely. Since then some have come out, with some interesting ideas of their own. Many center around two major fixes: making the explosions larger and removing the random splash damage detonations. While in theory a nearby shell might detonate a smaller ship, in my research I have found no historical cases of a detonation from a near miss.

While researching the Battle of Jutland, I came up with a possible solution that is heavily based in history.

Terminology

Gunhouse: the visible portion of a turret where the guns are loaded and fired. May or may not be divided into smaller sections for each gun.

Stalk: the rotating part of a turret that extends below decks. Generally four or five stories tall. Yes, this is the proper term according to Navweaps.

Barbette: rotating turrets with a stalk had an armored cylinder down to the main armor deck and often below.

Charges: the propellant that shoots the shell out of the gun. Stored in silk bags (bag guns-the most common method) or brass cases like most bullets (cartridge, separate, and semi-fixed guns-generally used for c.127mm and smaller guns and most German guns). The primary culprit behind detonations.

Handling Rooms: the rooms where powder charges and ammunition are transferred from the magazines, lower hoists, or projectile rings to hoists that lead to the gunhouse. Projectile and powder rooms were usually separated.

Hoists: the elevator/lift-style system that brings shells and powder charges to the gunhouse or handling rooms. Can be used for projectiles only, powder charges only, or both in a single hoist.

Magazine: the room where the powder charges are stored. Projectiles are normally stored in shell rooms or on projectile rings in the stalk.

How Magazines Exploded

This summary is based on the design elements common to 150mm and larger guns in turrets with stalks. Destroyers and casemate/pedestal guns (Omaha) had slightly different arrangements that accomplished the same job.

First, we need background. A magazine is not the only place powder charges (almost always the culprit) are found during combat. Powder charges are moved via hoists to the gunhouse constantly during combat. As the magazine is much more difficult to hit and has very strong protection, most ships that exploded were hit here or in the gunhouse.

Usually, detonations begin as ammunition fires. These are dangerous, but not instantly fatal: at Jutland many ships burned but did not explode, even from fires in the gunhouse and stalk. Ships were designed to prevent shells from penetrating the stalk with well armored barbettes and keep ammunition fires in the stalk or gunhouse from spreading to the magazines (flash protection).

Ammunition fires can become explosions if the pressure is too high. Much like log in a campfire that turns into smoke, charges turn into a mix of deadly gases when burned. Unlike a campfire, however, simply denying oxygen to a burning charge will not stop the fire: they have everything they need to burn already except a spark. In an enclosed space these gases increase the pressure, which increases the burn rate, which increases the pressure. If the pressure gets too high, the structure is deformed or the charges burn so rapidly they explode. This pressure is different for every propellant, but more stable charges can reach higher pressures before exploding.

Once a fire starts, you have four ways to stop an explosion:

  1. Flood the magazine. Charges covered in water cannot be set on fire, and the fire will not be able to set off the magazine. This is only an option if the fire is outside the magazine.
  2. Vent the pressure. Get the smoke into the open air as quickly as possible. This is risky as including vents could allow flooding AND difficult as these spaces are very confined. This is often out of the hands of the crew and only occurs when the steel itself warps and breaks from the pressure (Boise, Gneisenau).
  3. Put out the fire. Good luck. These fires are very aggressive and hard to extinguish. By the time you get a dedicated damage control party with gas masks to the burning charges it is usually too late. Even if you think it has been put out, you may find yourself burning again soon (Lion).
  4. Hope the fire goes out. This did happen on occasion (Boise, Lützow), but only if the ship was designed well, the charges were stable, and/or very few were ignited.

In any case, ammunition fires almost always knock out the turret where the fire took place. The crew is either killed or the pressure has damaged the structure beyond easy repair (or both). The only exception I know of was aboard Lützow at Jutland, where the left-hand gun of Turret B was returned to working order half an hour after a single powder bag burned in the right-hand shell hoist. This is largely due to the bulkhead between the guns and the small size of the fire (which, interestingly, did not ignite the powder in the large brass case directly above).

The Solution

Add in ammunition fires.

When the stalk or gunhouse of your turret is hit, there is a small chance an ammunition fire will start. Once this starts the turret will be knocked out or the ship will explode. But the choice is no longer up to RNG alone. You the player have some control.

Once the fire begins you have a small window of time to react (10-20 seconds). In this time you can use the repair party consumable to flood the magazines, lose the turret, and save the ship. If the repair party is on cooldown, you can do nothing while you pray to RNGesus. RNGesus has three choices to choose from:

  1. The fire burns out your turret, which is disabled for the rest of the game.
  2. The fire turns into an explosion that does not reach the magazines. You lose the turret and take HP damage. This would be equal to the full damage of the loaded shell type times the number of guns in the turret (1 gun=1 shell, 3 guns=3 shells, etc.)
  3. The fire reaches the magazine. You explode. Odds of raging in chat increase by 92% and on the forums by 78%.

The chances of these events are variable, but I would recommend something like 40%-40%-20% as a good starting point.

To counteract this increase in magazine detonations overall, the chances of a shell hit to the magazine causing a detonation are reduced or eliminated entirely. Thus the combined chances of losing a turret permanently and detonating are not increased overall, though it is now much more likely to lose a turret and less likely to completely detonate.

Various flag rewards are added for each option above. The effects for each option could be:

  1. Turret burned out or magazine flooded: reduce the cooldown of repair party consumable, improve turret survivability, reduced chance of ammunition fires.
  2. Turret explodes: reduced chance of fire reaching the magazines, reduced chance of fire becoming an explosion, reduced chance of ammunition fires.
  3. Ship explodes: current detonation flag. Modified to complete removed ammunition fires as well as detonations. The chances of losing a turret do not increase beyond current levels.

The player that hits you also gets flags that improve the chance of causing ammunition fires. This is less than the reduction from the flags above (~50% as a start).

The equipment module that reduces magazine detonations is modified to reduce the chances of losing a turret (higher than Main Armaments 1, say the current 70% to 20%), and reduce fires (same 70%). Unlike MAM 1, this does not improve turret survivability or affect torpedo tubes. While torpedoes did explode and sink ships, this would be an unnecessary complication and nerf torpedo-carrying ships (particularly IJN DDs).

Optional elements that could enhance the system, but would also cause confusion among newer players:

Decrease chances of ammunition fires becoming detonations with improved hulls when flash protection was improved (early British ships explode often, later hulls not so much).

Give each powder charge different chances to explode. British ships that used MD charges are much more likely to explode if set ablaze than German or American ships that used more stable RP series and SPD charges. Ships that received more stable charges over time (particularly British) reduce the chances of fires and explosions with hull/gun upgrades.

Allow some form of short minigame between the player that hit the magazine and the player that was hit that determines if the ship explodes or just loses a turret.

Give players that cause ammunition fires flags with a higher chance for their shells to hit guns, stalks, magazines, or citadels.

Add an equipment module that increases your rate of fire, but also the chance for an ammunition fire becoming a detonation. [Similar to flags added since this post was first drafted]. This is similar to MBM 3, but does trades slower turret traverse for the fires->detonations.

If the magazine is hit, automatically use the repair party if available. Otherwise, a countdown timer appears on the screen showing how long your robotic crew has to live. Odds of raging in chat increase by 100%.

Same as above but remove the above timer. Odds of raging in chat increase by 200%. Odds of losing the next three games due to anger increase by 67%.

I welcome feedback and critiques.

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21 thoughts on “WoWS – A Possible Solution to Detonations: Ammunition Fires

  1. Leave it as it is. Any system that seeks to erase the history of the Arizona or the Hood is a waste of time.

    Citadels are also affected by dispersion- should we remove those two and just make the game autoaim?

    Like

    1. “Erase the history”, are you for real? Nobody is erasing anything, it is just a Suggestion of changing the fun and engaging game mechanics.
      Also the latest theory on Hood is, that a fire spreed from the decks through her fuel tanks into a 4inch Magazin … realise something?
      Your Point for citadels is non valid. By angeling and dodging you can prevent them, detonations are pure RNG. (well not quite but your influence on them is minimal)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Funny, I won so many detonation flags from the super containers(230 left) that I never have this problem. On the other hand I never see enemy ships detonating that often that I can’t believe that this is an issue.

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  3. you are just focusing on the negative aspect. you forget that you have an equal chance of destroying an enemy target in 1 shot form full health, which I am sure you enjoy doing.

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  4. How about removing all armament from all ships and make it a ramfest simply because a couple of thousand crybabies can’t handle that little bit of realism that exists in this god forsaken game. Jesus Christ….they NEVER stop…they will always complain about something. NO, and stop talking about it.

    Like

    1. How about you taking reading course – because this proposal is about improving and adding more realism – not the pure luck system we have now based on flawed armor mechanic.
      Detonation happened in real life and should happened in game… but through all XIX and XX century it happened 18 times that enemy shellfire or torpedo caused detonation :
      https://amp.reddit.com/r/WorldOfWarships/comments/463wu2/historical_magazine_detonations_the_list/

      Like

  5. This sounds like a complicated solution to a most minor of issues. Detonations are rare occurrences and powder hits are already somewhat modeled by citadel hits to the barbette. As a player, I do not like losing turrets much better than losing the ship, because it makes the experience less fun for the rest of the game and you are forced to continue unlike in a detonation.

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  6. It would be abysmal. Most cruisers and DDs would get nearly 1 shotted on any citadel. Very bad for gameplay. Having it on BBs only would make regular fires seem mundane.

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  7. Instead of making such a complicated solution, what about this?

    1. Player receives shell or torpedo that will detonate magazine
    2. Graphical effect and loud noise that alerts player the magazine is critically damaged
    3. HP rapidly decreases
    4. Player has about 5 seconds to use repair consumable before ship HP is fully depleted and ship explodes

    Basically if you get detonated, if you have quick reactions then you can prevent the detonation. Not very historically realistic, but still gives player a chance to survive a detonation shot.

    Like

  8. There’s no god damn reason one should survive detonation. Stop being crybabies and when it happens,just accept it and move on.

    Some youtuber and his fanboys are complaining about citadel hits….some other dude is complaining about fires…, some about detonations,some about something else. Stop it trying to castrate the game.

    Next time a random dude makes a stupid suggestion about something that doesn’t need to change, and shouldn’t change….simply ignore him,please. Otherwise, post other suggestions too….suggestions that make a lot more sense and actually make the game better, not just crybaby friendly. I don’t see you doing that very often….

    Like

    1. “There’s no god damn reason one should survive detonation.”
      Really? then check it out :
      http://www.jutland1916.com/tactics-and-technologies-4/battleship-design-and-anti-flash/

      Hms Lion – Lion’s Q turret. The ship was saved when the turret top blew off. There were heavy casualties (98 died in the turret) but the ship was saved by the explosion being allowed “out in the open”

      So it is possible and realistic that detonation happened but ship is “just” loosing one turret.

      Like

  9. Love the idea that you could use damage control to flood the turret, i’d swap the detonation mechanics for that tbh.

    I wouldn’t complicate things too much tho, if RNG lights the fire rep (lose gun) or boom. This makes early game detonations (that really screw your team) much less likely, which is my only real problem with the detonation mechanics. I’d perhaps also consider changing the detonation flags from 100% to 50% just to offset the reduced amount of booms we’d be enjoying.

    I dont mind a detonation when you’ve been slugging it out for a while, but when that first shell of the game takes out a ship its kinda tragic for the team.

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  10. It’s still going to do an immense amount of damage to a ship. If a 5″ magazine on an Iowa detonates, it’s possible for the Iowa to stay in the fight minus at least 1/3 to 2/3 of it’s base HP and very likely cause fires if it survives. If a 5″ magazine on an Atlanta or a Mahan detonates, the ship is gone anyways. If implemented it would be worse than the system now and a nerf to DDs and CAs. This is an arcade game not a simulator.

    Like

  11. detonations happen on average about 1 every hundred games or so currently.

    And im fine with that. If i have a choice to spam a repair and permanently lose one turret instead of the ship Ill take it.

    And if a cant spam repair at least i have time to pan the camera view back and watch the fireworks.

    And i do mean fireworks … towering columns of flame. watching a ship break apart from many incoming shells or a well placed citadel hit is one thing

    but a boom big as some of those british CL smoke clouds … and nothing but a bow and stern sticking up out of the water afterwards is something else entirely.

    at least that way i get a nice show as im launched at escape velocity towards the very gates of heaven or hell

    Like

  12. I get detonated at least once or twice every week playing dds. It isn’t fun or engaging – it’s just RNG’s way of giving you the middle finger.

    Like

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