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A Guide to Commander Skills in World of Warships / WoWS

A Guide to Commander Skills in World of Warships / WoWS

By Denis Marasan ☆ 13/Jan/2020

Here’s a complete guide on Commander Skills in World of Warships (play now!) I tried making this guide as brief as possible, covering the process of selecting skills for any Commander. In the first part of the guide, I’ll do a general overview of Commander Skills in WoWS. Commander Skill builds for different classes and the selection of skill points for different ships see in the follow-up parts:

N.B.

It should be better to write some kind of a foreword that explains the game basics and Commander development in World of Warships (play now!), but this part will make the guide much longer and that kind of general information is publicly available on other websites, in particular on the official WoWS wiki. So I decided to skip this part and come down to essentials. Enjoy!

Commander Skills’ general overview

In this part of the Guide to Commander Skills I consider every skill in World of Warships. The following terminology will be used:

  • First-order skill. This is a skill that you should select first.
  • Second-order skill. This is a skill that you might select after you’ve selected all first-order skills.
  • Not-so-useful skill. This is a skill that is obviously not so useful.
  • Useless skill. This is a skill that’s not going to work on a selected ship (it’s greyed out in the game interface).

 


 

Level 1 Commander Skills

Priority Target - Level 1 Commander Skill

Priority Target (the first-order skill for any artillery-focused ship: Destroyer, Cruiser, and Battleship)

The detection indicator displays the number of opponents that are currently aiming at your ship or squadron.

This skill provides vital information when playing on any artillery-focused ship. Not very useful on torpedo-focused ships, like IJN Destroyers, since in this case, the mere fact of being spotted signifies a problem. By knowing the number of opponents that are currently aiming at your ship you’ll be able to make a hard-boiled assessment of risks, thereby maximizing the efficiency of your play.

Preventive Maintenance - Level 1 Commander Skill

Preventive Maintenance (the first-order skill for few torpedo-focused ships, like IJN Destroyers)

Reduces the risk of main turrets, torpedo tubes, steering gears, and engine becoming incapacitated.

  • Risk of all modules becoming incapacitated: -30%.

This skill is not very useful at all, though since there is no wide range of choice for torpedo-focused IJN Destroyers, selecting this Commander Skill isn’t a mistake of any sort. Another drawback of the Preventive Maintenance design is that you’ll never know whether the skill worked or not.

Expert Loader - Level 1 Commander Skill

Expert Loader (a second-order skill for Heavy Cruisers and Battleships)

Accelerates shell type switching if all main battery guns are loaded.

  • Time taken to switch shell type: -50%

The idea of this Commander Skill is to maximize your damage per minute by using the right ammo type. E.g., by rapidly switching from HE to AP shells in order to hit an enemy citadel. When an enemy ship is showing you her broadside you’ve got several seconds to switch from HE to AP shells. Thereby the Expert Loader is useless for Destroyers and Small Light Cruisers, not-so-useful for Light Cruisers, perfect for Heavy Cruisers (especially USN Heavy Cruisers having better rebound angles and hence more effective AP shells), not-so-useful for Large Heavy Cruisers and Battleships.

However, in World of Warships there are unique Commanders having a Rapid Loader trait instead of Expert Loader, reducing the reload time when switching shell types by -75% (instead of standard -50%). Rapid Loader is perfect for any kind of Heavy Cruisers and Battleships, giving the player a clear advantage.

Air Supremacy - Level 1 Commander Skill

Air Supremacy (the first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers)

Accelerates aircraft servicing.

  • Aircraft restoration time: -5%

This is the first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers. Air Supremacy is useless for ships of any other class.

Direction Center for Fighters - Level 1 Commander Skill

Direction Center for Fighters (the first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers, a not-so-useful skill for any other class)

When the Fighter consumable is activated, an additional aircraft is launched.

  • Number of aircraft: +1

This Commander Skill applies to both carrier-launched and catapult-launched fighters. It may be considered as a first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers and a not-so-useful skill for any other ship having a catapult-launched fighter because you can always choose a better skill.

Improved Engine Boost - Level 1 Commander Skill

Improved Engine Boost (the first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers)

Increases the engine boost time for the aircraft carrier’s squadrons.

  • Engine boost time: +10%

This is the first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers. Improved Engine Boost is useless for ships of any other class.

Incoming Fire Alert - Level 1 Commander Skill

Incoming Fire Alert (a second-order skill for Cruisers)

A warning about a salvo fired at your ship from a distance of more than 4.5 km.

The Incoming Fire Alert skill works perfectly at large distances, especially for Cruisers. Not very effective for Destroyers and Battleships, since Destroyers mostly suffer from salvos fired from shorter distances, whereas Battleships lack maneuverability to turn away from incoming shells.

Last Gasp - Level 1 Commander Skill

Last Gasp (the first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers)

Completely restores the engine boost for the last attack flight of the aircraft carrier’s planes..

This is the first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers. Last Gasp is useless for ships of any other class.

 


 

Level 2 Commander Skills

High Alert - Level 2 Commander Skill

High Alert (a second-order skill for Destroyers, Cruisers, and Battleships)

Reduces reload time of Damage Control Party.

  • Reload time of Damage Control Party consumable: -10%

Since the High Alert skill allows for using the Damage Control Party more often, it effectively saves your hit points. The longer your ship stays, the more impacts she has on the battle, so the significance of this Commander Skill is difficult to overestimate, especially for Battleships. Nevertheless, there’s always a better skill to consider.

Jack of All Trades - Level 2 Commander Skill

Jack of All Trades (a second-order skill for any ship with lots of consumables)

Reduces the reload time of all consumables for the ship and squadrons.

  • Reload time of consumables: -5%

The more consumables your ship has, the more topical this Commander Skill is. And since the higher your ship tier is, the more consumables she has, the Jack of All Trades skill should be considered as a skill for high-tier ships, having 4+ consumables, e.g. USN Light Cruisers. For ships having 2 or 3 consumables, there’s always a better skill to consider.

Expert Marksman - Level 2 Commander Skill

Expert Marksman (a second-order skill for ships with slow-turning turrets)

Increases the traverse speed of main battery guns.

  • Traverse speed of guns with a caliber above 139 mm: +0.7 deg/s
  • Traverse speed of guns with a caliber up to and including 139 mm: +2.5 deg/s

This skill is topical for Battleships with extremely slow-turning turrets, e.g. tier X IJN Battleship Yamato, as well as for ships of other classes with turrets going behind the circulation, like tier VII IJN Heavy Cruiser Myoko. Expert Marksman makes your play more comfortable and provides more tactical flexibility when transferring fire from one target to another.

Torpedo Acceleration - Level 2 Commander Skill

Torpedo Acceleration (a not-so-useful skill for most ships)

Increases the speed of torpedoes launched from both ships and aircrafts by reducing torpedo range.

  • Aerial torpedo speed: +5 kt
  • Ship torpedo speed: +5 kt
  • Aerial torpedo range: -20%
  • Ship torpedo range: -20%

In theory, the Torpedo Acceleration skill is great for making long-range torpedoes, e.g. high-tier Japanese Destroyers, a little bit faster. In practice, this Commander Skill is useless for most ships, either because the negative effect is unreasonable, or the advantage is minuscule.

Smoke Screen Expert - Level 2 Commander Skill

Smoke Screen Expert (a not-so-useful skill)

Expands the smoke screen area.

  • Radius of the smoke screen: +20%

It looks like that this Commander Skill was designed especially for HMS Light Cruisers and the ships like Soviet Smolensk and Mikhail Kutuzov. The Smoke Screen Expert skill is obviously helpful, but as usual, you can always choose another skill giving you an even bigger advantage.

Improved Engines - Level 2 Commander Skill

Improved Engines (the first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers)

Expands the smoke screen area.

  • Increases the speed of the aircraft carrier’s squadrons.

This is the first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers. Improved Engines is useless for ships of any other class.

Adrenaline Rush - Level 2 Commander Skill

Adrenaline Rush (the first-order skill for most Cruisers and Battleships)

Increases the reload speed of all armaments as the ship’s HP decreases.

Increases the speed of the aircraft carrier’s squadrons as the aircraft carrier’s HP decreases.

  • Reload time reduction for all types of armament for each 1% of HP lost: -0.2%
  • Squadron speed increase for each 1% of HP lost: -0.2%

This skill effectively increases your damage per minute. Because together with the number of hit points, this is the most significant parameter impacting your ship's efficiency, the Adrenaline Rush skill should be considered as the first-order Commander Skill for most Cruisers and Battleships, except for the ones specified below.

Last Stand - Level 2 Commander Skill

Last Stand (the first-order skill for all Destroyers and rare Cruisers)

When the engine or steering gears are incapacitated, they continue to operate but with a penalty.

Since some ships have glass modules (engine and steering gears) they require selecting this Commander Skill first. Otherwise, these ships may become virtually unplayable. A golden rule is to select the Last Stand skill for all Destroyers and some low- and mid-tier Cruisers (e.g. Japanese and French Cruisers up to tier VI inclusive). Speaking of Cruisers, it’s always a good idea to test the ship without selecting a second-level skill for a couple of battles fist just to make sure that the ship is playable without the selection of the Last Stand skill. And select the Last Stand if it suffers from incapacitated engine or steering gears.

 


 

Level 3 Commander Skills

Basics of Survivability - Level 3 Commander Skill

Basics of Survivability (the first-order skill for Battleships and Large Heavy Cruisers)

Accelerates repairs of modules, firefighting, and recovery from flooding.

  • Time of repair, fire extinguishing, and recovery from flooding: -15%

This skill effectively reduces the HP loss to fire and flooding. And since Battleships and Large Heavy Cruisers suffer from both more than any other class, the Basics of Survivability skill is vital for them.

Survivability Expert - Level 3 Commander Skill

Survivability Expert (the first-order skill for some high-tier Destroyers)

Increases HP of the ship and aircraft, including fighters.

  • HP for each ship tier: +350
  • Aircraft HP for each ship tier: +25

Since this Commander Skill is tier- and class-dependent, it’s only effective for high-tier Destroyers. Though the Survivability Expert skill is obviously useful for any high-tier Destroyer since it gives invaluable Hit Points, its primary field of application is mainly limited to boosting HP for Destroyers combating enemy ships at control areas in Ranked or Clan Battles.

Torpedo Armament Expertise - Level 3 Commander Skill

Torpedo Armament Expertise (the first-order skill for torpedo-focused Destroyers)

Reduces the reload time for torpedo tubes.

  • Torpedo tubes reload time: -10%

A number one choice for any torpedo-focused Destroyer for the obvious reason (the increase in damage per minute ratio). These are mostly IJN Destroyers, though UK, German and some other Destroyers may also benefit from Torpedo Armament Expertise.

Aircraft Armor - Level 3 Commander Skill

Aircraft Armor (the first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers)

Decreases the continuous damage that aircraft take from short-, medium-, and long-range AA defenses.

  • Continuous damage from short-, medium-, and long-range AA defenses: -10%

This is the first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers. Aircraft Armor is useless for ships of any other class.

Basic Firing Training - Level 3 Commander Skill

Basic Firing Training (the first-order skill for some gunnery-focused Destroyers and secondary battery focused Battleships)

Improves the effectiveness of main battery guns with a caliber up to and including 139 mm, secondary battery guns, and AA mounts.

  • Improves the effectiveness of main guns with a caliber up to and including 139 mm, and secondary battery guns: -10%
  • Continuous damage by short-, medium-, and long-range AA mounts: +10%

Like in the case of Survivability Expert, this Commander Skill is great for Destroyers combating enemy ships at control areas in Ranked or Clan Battles. Though the Basic Firing Training skill is obviously useful for any Destroyer since it boosts the damage per minute characteristic. I.e. this skill gives an advantage to all Destroyers except for torpedo-focused IJN Destroyers.

Basic Firing Training is also used on secondary armament focused Battleships and for increasing the effectiveness of AA fire.

Superintendent - Level 3 Commander Skill

Superintendent (a second-order skill for any ship with lots of consumables)

Increases the capacity of your ship’s consumables.

Doesn’t apply to the consumables of an aircraft carrier’s squadrons.

  • Number of consumables: +1

The more consumables your ship has, the more desirable this skill becomes. The Superintendent skill becomes even more useful for ships with Repair Party consumable, coz in this case this Commander Skill increases your Hit Points pool.

Demolition Expert - Level 3 Commander Skill

Demolition Expert (the first-order skill for some gunnery-focused Destroyers and Cruisers)

Increases the chances of setting fire to the target for the armament carried by ships and aircraft.

  • Chances of HE shells causing a fire on target: +2%
  • Chances of rockets causing a fire on target: +1%
  • Chances of bombs causing a fire on target: +5%

Another great skill that increases the delayed damage (aka damage over time or DoT), though this mechanic is random and hence unreliable. Great for any Destroyers focused on setting Battleships and Large Heavy Cruisers on fire from a smoke screen, Light Cruisers and HE-shell focused Heavy Cruisers (like IJN and French), as well as Heavy Cruisers with low chances of setting fire on the target (like German Cruisers), because the lower the chances are, the higher the bonus efficiency turns out to be.

Vigilance - Level 3 Commander Skill

Vigilance (a not-so-useful skill)

Extends the torpedo acquisition range, even while the “Hydroacoustic Search” consumable is active.

Doesn’t apply to an aircraft carrier’s squadrons.

  • Torpedo acquisition range by sea: +25%

From my experience, this Commander Skill doesn’t help much in terms of avoiding enemy torpedoes, but still if the Vigilance skill works for you – choose it as a second-order skill. Looks good on UK Light Cruisers, btw.

 


 

Level 4 Commander Skills

Manual Fire Control for Secondary Armament - Level 4 Commander Skill

Manual Fire Control for Secondary Armament (the first-order skill for any secondary armament focused ship)

Secondary guns only fire at targets designated by the player.

The firing efficiency is significantly increased.

  • Maximum dispersion of shells for the secondary armaments of Tier I-VI ships: -15%
  • Maximum dispersion of shells for the secondary armaments of Tier VII-X ships: -60%

This skill greatly improves the effectiveness of secondary armament of high-tier ships, so it is a must for any secondary armament focused ship, e.g. high-tier German and French Battleships, as well as few premium high-tier USN Battleships. On tier I-VI ships this Commander Skill is obviously small potatoes.

The drawbacks of the Manual Fire Control for Secondary Armament skill are that in the first place, the secondary armament is considered disabled unless you manually select the target; and in the second place, it only fires on one target at a time.

Fire Prevention - Level 4 Commander Skill

Fire Prevention (a must for any Battleship and Large Heavy Cruiser)

Reduces the risk of fire.

The maximum number of fires on a ship is reduced to three.

  • Risk of catching fire: -10%

This Commander Skill greatly reduces the amount of damage over time inflicted by fires. The Fire Prevention skill is a must for any Battleship and Large Heavy Cruiser, except for maybe Russian Battleships because of fast reloading Damage Control Party and Repair Party.

Inertia Fuse for HE Shells - Level 4 Commander Skill

Inertia Fuse for HE Shells (a must for any ship with main battery guns caliber up to 6 inch (160 mm) inclusive)

Improves the armor penetration capacity of HE shells fired from both main and secondary battery guns.

Decreases the chance of setting and enemy ship on fire.

  • Armor penetration capacity of HE shells with a caliber up to and including 139 mm: +30%
  • Armor penetration capacity of HE shells with a caliber exceeding 139 mm: +30%
  • Chances of a fire being caused by HE shells with a caliber up to and including 139 mm: -1%
  • Chances of a fire being caused by HE shells with a caliber above 139 mm: -3%

A trick is that mid- and high-tier ships have difficulties penetrating armor with HE shells unless they’ve got 8 inch (200 mm) guns. So unless you select the Inertia Fuse for HE Shells skill you’ll have problems with dealing direct damage to enemy ship plating, penetrating superstructure only and causing fires. I personally recommend selecting this skill for every ship unless it’s greyed out in the game interface.

The drawback of selecting the Inertia Fuse for HE Shells skill (except for the fact you spend 4 Commander Skill points) is that it reduces the chances of causing a fire by HE shells, so to reduce the negative impact of this skill on damage inflicted by fires the selection of Demolition Expert is recommended.

This skill also works perfectly on secondary armament focused Battleships to increase the direct damage inflicted by secondary armament provided it uses HE shells.

As a rule of thumb I recommend selecting the Inertia Fuse for HE Shells skill wherever it's NOT greyed out in the Commander Skills selection interface within the game of WoWS.

Sight Stabilization - Level 4 Commander Skill

Sight Stabilization (the first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers)

Improves the aiming time of the aircraft carrier’s planes.

  • Attack aircraft aiming speed: +7.5%
  • Torpedo bomber aiming speed: +7.5%
  • Bomber aiming speed: +15%

This is the first-order skill for Aircraft Carriers. Sight Stabilization is useless for ships of any other class.

Advanced Firing Training - Level 4 Commander Skill

Advanced Firing Training (a second-order skill for some Destroyers, Cruisers and secondary armament focused Battleships)

Extends the firing range of main battery guns with a caliber up to and including 139 mm, as well as secondary battery guns.

Increases the efficiency of long-range AA mounts.

  • Firing range of main battery guns with a caliber up to and including 139 mm, and secondary battery guns: +20%
  • Damage per second within the explosion radius of shells fired from long-range AA defense: +15%

May be considered as a first-order skill on Destroyers with good ballistics (e.g. high-tier Soviet Destroyers) for extending the firing range. As for Small Light Cruisers (e.g. USN Atlanta and Soviet Smolensk) I don’t recommend loitering away those skill points on Advanced Firing Training. Also applicable to secondary armament focused Battleships for increasing the firing range. Increases the effectiveness of AA defense on any warship.

Massive AA Fire - Level 4 Commander Skill

Massive AA Fire (ranges from useless to detrimental)

Activation of a priority sector increases the amount of instantaneous damage dealt.

The priority sector does not increase the continuous damage of AA mounts.

The priority sector preparation time increases.

  • Instantaneous Damage: +100%
  • Priority AA, sector preparation time: +50%

This skill is detrimental on ships with good AA defense and useless on ships with weak AA defense. Just a waste of skill points.

Radio Location - Level 4 Commander Skill

Radio Location (a second-order skill for any class of ships in Ranked Battles, a second-order skill for Destroyers used for hunting down enemy Destroyers)

Shows the direction of the nearest enemy ship.

The enemy player will be alerted that a bearing was taken on their ship.

Not working on aircraft carriers.

This Commander Skill is popular in Ranked Battles for understanding the direction, from which an enemy Destroyer may launch her concealed torpedoe attack, as well as for hunting down enemy Destroyers. The Radio Location skill is not very efficient in Random Battles because of its high price.

Concealment Expert - Level 4 Commander Skill

Concealment Expert (the first-order skill for any ship class)

Reduces the detectability range of the ship and the aircraft carrier's squadrons.

  • Detectability of Destroyers: -10%
  • Detectability of Cruisers: -10%
  • Detectability of Battleships: -10%
  • Detectability of Aircraft Carriers: -10%
  • Detectability of squadrons: -10%

The Concealment Expert skill is the most in-demand skill on level 4. Its impact on the result is enormous. Concealment not only helps to conduct covert operations when playing on torpedo-focused Destroyers (or even on Cruiser and Battleship for the sake of approaching enemy lines to snipe down an enemy citadel). It also helps to disengage from action when the detectability range resets after firing the main battery guns and hence conserving hit points.

I consider this Commander Skill as the first-order skill for any ship class, except maybe for secondary armament focused Battleships because there are not enough skill points to select the Concealment Expert skill.

Commander Skill builds for different ship classes in World of Warships and tier X ships see in the following guides:

Great guides on Commander Skills on YouTube: