High-tier premium ships for Free XP overview / World of WarshipsBy Denis Marasan ☆ 16/Jul/2019
The best thing about premium ships in World of Warships (play now!) is that you can get some high-tier premium ships for free just by spending Free XP (free experience). Certain ships can be researched from a tech tree by spending Free XP and purchased for 1 credit. And most of those premium ships are tier IX. So sweet on the part of Wargaming!
Tier VII British Battleship Nelson
Tier VII UK Battleship Nelson is not a high-tier ship and her farming qualities are questionable compared to tier IX premium ships that could be researched by spending free experience. Nevertheless, this offer is still rather interesting, considering the fact that it only takes 375 000 Free XP to get Nelson.
Tier VII ships are very comfortable to play. Playing on tier VII ships you spend most of the time playing against lower-tier enemies. Battles against high-tier ships are rarer, and you never face tier X ships that are real monsters in WoWS!
Another reason to buy Nelson is that she's great. In particular, her HE shells feature increased penetration and fire chance, rendering the use of AP shells virtually unnecessary. However, Nelson's AP shells, thanks to short-fuse aiming time, are very good for damaging enemy cruisers, ensuring lesser overpenetrations.
And last but not least, Nelson features an obviously overpowered Repair Party consumable. Its setting is identical to Repair Parties on tier IX Lion and tier X Conqueror, which means that Nelson can repair much of her damage, surprising and demotivating enemy players, whereas a smart Commander development permits maximizing the inflicted damage.
So if you like playing on mid-tier battleships Nelson is a ship to consider. But if you want to get the best ship possible for farming credits and experience you'd better stick with tier IX ships.
Tier IX Japanese Large Heavy Cruiser Azuma
At the moment of writing this article, which I'm planning to keep up-to-date, Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) Azuma is the only tier IX ship for Free XP. In fact, you've got a choice to buy Azuma or wait until the World of Warships operator puts up some other ship on sale. Not the best implementation of the concept of meaningful choice in games IMHO.
IJN Azuma is a Large Heavy Cruiser, meaning that it features 9 high-caliber 310 mm main battery guns in three-gun turrets mounted on a lightly armored hull. The ship itself is so huge that hitting her from any distance isn't a problem at all. And her armor belt is easy to penetrate if positioned full broadside.
Because AP shells have no bonuses (unlike USN Cruisers with their convenient better rebound angles), AP shells are rather useless and can be used in close quarters only. Most of the time Azuma is played using HE shells that have good penetration thanks to the high caliber and a high chance of fire. Azuma is really good for inflicting damage when using HE shells, though if comparing her to IJN Zao, which has is generally smaller and has smaller caliber guns with higher firing rate, Zao is obviously more convenient.
Though Azuma is good for farming credits and experience she provides no unique gameplay compared to linear IJN heavy cruiser Zao. Her AP shells are rather useless; HE shells are going to be your primary ammunition. All in all, Azuma is obviously good for dealing damage from a distance, but because it requires cautious approach she has no significant impact on a battle. In speaking of Azuma, achieving good results in terms of win rate may be tricky.
The following ships were removed from sale for various reasons, but you may still encounter them in battles or they may occasionally appear on sale.
Tier IX Japanese Battleship Musashi
I bet you've heard the opinion that Yamato is the best battleship in World of Warships. Now imagine Yamato being moved one tier down the line without changing her characteristics, except for AA-defense. And that's basically a tier IX Battleship Musashi that was added to World of Warships in early 2018 for selling
Thanks to her 460 mm guns Musashi is particularly good for damaging enemy Battleships because Musashi can penetrate most ships from the fore by ruling out the possibility of AP shell rebound. And her survivability is incredible thanks to high Hit Point pool and Anti-Torpedo Protection.
All in all, Musashi is obviously overpowered, so if possessing the best Battleship in World of Warships is what you want, buy her at the first opportunity. The only disadvantage is that you obviously become the most desired target to any Aircraft Carrier (particularly to Bombers and Attack Aircrafts), except for the cases when the Aircraft Carrier finds an even better target to feast on, like e.g. a Destroyer.
Tier IX USN Battleship Missouri
Missouri was the first tier IX premium ship in World of Warships that could be obtained for Free XP from late 2016 till early 2018. She is an Iowa-class Battleship. The significant difference between linear Iowa and premium Missouri is that instead of a Spotting Aircraft or Catapult Fighter consumable on the linear ship, premium Missouri has a Surveillance Radar. And since Missouri is long removed from sale, enemy players may not know about this feature and get surprisingly spotted and ripped apart by her main battery.
Missouri is a well-balanced Battleship, though Surveillance Radar is obviously a batter choice than Spotting Aircraft or Catapult Fighter consumable. So yes, Missouri is a bit OP and PtW.
Tier IX USN Large Heavy Cruiser Alaska
Alaska was so popular that she was removed from sale early in 2019, just a few months after she first appeared in World of Warship. One may assume that she was popular because it was overpowered. Nonetheless, that was not the case. After the rebalance of Aircraft Carriers the developers converted all the experience the players spent on researching the Aircraft Carrier lines to free experience, so the players just spent their drop-from-the-skies Free XP on the only tier IX premium ship available in the game store - Alaska.
USN Alaska is a well-balanced ship and strangely enough, that's her problem. The World of Warships players got used to the fact that many premium ships are overpowered or at least have an advantage over linear sisterships, and many of them were disappointed with Alaska.
In speaking of Alaska her agility and armor are OK, though she's still huge and easy to hit at any distance. Her reload time and accuracy are OK compared to other Large Heavy Cruisers but are inferior to accustomed heavy cruisers. Thanks to such a distinctive feature of USN Cruisers as better rebound angles, AP shells are very effective against enemy cruisers at almost any distance.
The cons include disappointing ballistics compared to other Large Heavy Cruisers, like e.g. IJN Azuma or Soviet Kronshtadt, making far-away targets hard to hit, and a not so good fire chance. But still, the gameplay based on combining different types of shells ensures you'll have some epic moments. Provided you've chosen an Expert Loader perk and are using Captains with a bonus to reload time when shell type is switched, like John Doe, George Doe, etc.
Tier IX Russian/Soviet Large Heavy Cruiser Kronshtadt
Another premium tier IX Large Heavy Cruiser with 305 mm main guns that was available for Free XP from mid-2018 till Jan 2019. Her main feature is great ballistics that facilitates aiming and ensures a better angle of penetration at the cost of worse accuracy (compared to USN Alaska and IJN Azuma).
The drawback is that Kronshtadt is very big and fragile, absorbing damage like a sponge. To counterbalance this drawback she was boosted with hit points and is the absolute record holder among other tier IX Cruisers. But that's not really an advantage; it's just an indicator of how fragile she is. Another problem is her weak AA-defense, though Kronshtadt still has a Defensive AA Fire consumable and can effectively thin out enemy squadrons.
All in all, if you like the gameplay on tier X linear heavy Cruiser Moscow, getting Kronshtadt makes sense. There's really no reason for the World of Warships operator to hide Kronshtadt and other high-tier premium ships under the counter forever. Otherwise, you may consider getting more suitable high-tier premium ships.