As someone constantly walking on the border between true neutral and chaotic neutral, I actually do enjoy playing carriers. I’m not the cliché evil CV player that just plays them to ruin the fun of others, I simply like the playstyle.
With the upcoming commander skill rework, I actually realize that outside of people like Gaishu or me, there aren’t many talented carrier players among the content creators. As such, I thought that it might be wise to share my own planned builds for Aircraft Carriers so that you can have something to work with when the Update arrives.
I will go through each nation and if needed, the specific builds that will be more optimal for Premiums. Just so that things are a bit clearer, when I list the different skills of a build, I list them in the order I would pick them but, outside of the first 4 skills, feel free to take them in the order that you prefer.
30.1.2021 update: Changed all the names so that it fits the in-game name of the skills and modified the build for Hakuryu, added a custom build for Ark Royal and Erich Loewenhardt.
Before going through the builds, it might be better to know what skill does what.
1 point skills
- Last Gasp: Completely restores the engine boost for the last attack flight of the aircraft carrier’s planes
- Improved Engine Boost: Engine boost time +10% (Enhanced skill: Engine boost time +12.5%)
- Engine Techie: Reload time of the Engine Cooling consumable -20%
- Air Supremacy: Aircraft restoration time -5%
- Direction Center for Fighters: When the Fighter consumable is activated, an additional aircraft is launched
The skill affects only the carrier’s consumables
- Search and Destroy: Patrol Fighters’ action radius +10%
2 points skills
- Torpedo Bomber: Torpedo arming distance -10%
- Swift Fish: Aerial torpedo speed +5% (Enhanced skill: Aerial torpedo speed +7%)
- Improved Engines: Squadron speed +2.5%
- Repair Specialist: Number of the Repair consumable +1
Action time of the Repair consumable +10%
- Secondary Armament Expert: Continuous AA damage +10%
Damage from AA shell explosions +10%
Secondary battery reload time -10%
- Patrol Group Leader: Number of Patrol Fighter and Interceptor consumables +1
3 points skills
- Sight Stabilization: Squadron aiming speed +7.5%
- Enhanced Armor-piercing ammunition: AP rockets and bombs maximum damage +3%
- Demolition Expert: Chances of HE rockets causing a fire on target +1% (Enhanced skill: Chances of HE rockets causing a fire on target +2%)
Chances of HE bombs causing a fire on target +5% (Enhanced skill: Chances of HE bombs causing a fire on target +6%)
- Aircraft Armor: Continuous damage from AA mounts -10% (Enhanced skill: Continuous damage from AA mounts -11.5%)
- Survivability Expert: Aircraft HP for each ship tier +25 (Enhanced skill: Aircraft HP for each ship tier +30)
- Interceptor: Patrol Fighters consumable replaced with the Interceptor consumable with the following features:
Action radius +10%
Invulnerable to enemy fighters
Cannot attack enemy fighters
Cannot spot enemy ships
4 points skills
- Bombers Flight Control: Bombers’ cruising speed +5%
Skip-bombers’ cruising speed +5%
- Proximity Fuze: Torpedo protection damage reduction -10%
(The torpedo protection reduction from the skill is an absolute value. For example, the target’s torpedo protection damage reduction is 45%. With the skill mastered the damage reduction will be 45-15=30%)
- Close-quarters Specialist: Secondary battery firing range +20%
Maximum dispersion of secondary battery shells -30%
- Enhanced Aircraft Armor: Damage from AA shell explosion -25%
- Hidden Menace: Ship detectability range -15%
Reload time of the Damage Control Party consumable -20%
Aircraft return time +50%
WARNING: This skill is now a massive noob bait. The concealment reduction is nice, but the return time for the planes COMPLETELY messes up with your squadron cycling. Avoid it.
- Enhanced Reaction: When Patrol Fighters and Interceptor consumable are activated:
Time before Patrol Fighter starts attacking the target -80%
Time before Patrol Fighters become active +50%
Action time of the consumable -25%
The base build
While each nation/ship will generally have different builds, in every case, there will always be the same 9 points base build. To make things easier, I will just cover it now so that I don’t need to bring it back for each build.
Air Supremacy: The improved plane restoration speed is a truly valuable tool, especially for long-lasting games.
Improved Engines: Speed is key when playing carriers, I will never repeat it enough. More strikes, less time inside the AA range of ships, less downtime, etc.
Aircraft Armor: Less damage received from AA guns, I think that it’s quite self-explanatory. It’s also wiser to take it before Survivability Expert as it gives a flat bonus that won’t be influenced by the tier of your ship.
Survivability Expert: Just like with Survivability Expert in the past, having more HP on the planes is important to ensure their survivability.
U.S. Aircraft Carriers
I will start with the U.S. CVs with 2 distinct builds, one for the tech-tree ships and Enterprise and one for Franklin D. Roosevelt. Now, both builds are viable on all of them but in my opinion, FDR would gain more out of a dedicated build.
As for Saipan… she is kinda in between. Sight Stabilization would do great on her for the torpedo bombers but at the same time, Enhanced Aircraft Armor would also help her a lot.
Tech-tree carriers and Enterprise (and Saipan/Sanzang)
Proximity Fuze: Both on Midway and Enterprise, the torpedo bombers are quite potent for their tier so giving them a noticeable kick in terms of damage is definitely nice.
Also, the interesting part is that on ships with less than 10% of torpedo damage reduction or even on those that have none, you actually get bonus damage.
Bomber Flight Control: Both the tech-tree ships and Enterprise present very good dive bombers be with HE or AP bombs. Giving them higher speed will increase their efficiency in terms of runs per game as well as their survivability.
Sight Stabilization: That one is especially worth picking on the Saipan and Midway with their torpedo bombers that have a very slow aim but before that, it won’t provide a bonus that would make it more important.
Improved Engine Boost: The U.S. planes have the downside of being slow, except of course for Attack aircrafts. As such, a longer Engine boost duration will be useful to counter that lack of speed.
Sidenote: Regarding the skill Enhanced Armor-Piercing Ammunition for Enterprise, this skill is simply horrible, even when looking at German carriers. 3% for 3 points is way too expensive. Just as an example with the case of German carriers. AT BEST (so for a 300 000 damage game with a lot of AP armament used) you will get 9 000 damage more.
When it comes to the Upgrade on the 6th slot, I really recommend Modified External Hardpoint
Franklin D. Roosevelt (and Saipan/Sanzang)
In the case of the FDR, her planes turn like bricks that they are bound to take flaks. Sadly, since Adrenaline Rush isn’t a thing anymore for carriers, her squadrons won’t get a free speed boost when taking flaks, but at least they will tank them more.
In the case of the Saipan, it’s to make her less stressful to play. Due to her combined low reserves but very high plane restoration time, she allows absolutely no mistake so limiting the damage that might come from flaks is definitely something worth taking.
Enhanced Aircraft Armor: As I explained above, this skill is to offer Saipan some freedom when it comes to plane survivability and in the case of FDR, it’s because her squadrons are huge and with poor maneuverability (except when doing 360 no scopes with the torpedo bombers).
Bomber Flight Control: Both ships have very potent (dive) bombers that drop tons of Democracy and Freedom on enemy ships. Giving these planes higher speed sure is a good investment.
Proximity Fuze: May it be Saipan with her 4 torpedoes drops with the original Midway torpedoes or FDR and her 8 torpedoes drops, both get a lot of value from reduced enemy torpedo defense.
For science (and regrets), Enterprise “Full-fighters return to monke” build
Yes, I will legitimately try that build just to see how meaningless the fighter skills will be. Try to stop me! I’m also just planning to do it on Enterprise because her fighter squads are basically the best with 10 planes per squadron and a bigger patrol radius than on any other carrier.
Search and Destroy: It’s simple, bigger is better.
Interceptor: While it blocks the fighters from being used as spotting wards, at least you know that the enemy carrier won’t be able to bait them with his own fighters. With this skill, you will also get a 4.35 km fighter patrol radius.
Patrol Group Leader: You want to have as many fighter consumables as possible! Think about teamplay! Think about that one lone destroyer that decided to go on his own adventure, trying to flank on the complete opposite side of the map but doing everything wrong and continuously asking you to drop fighters on him!
Focused: Honestly, I’m not even sure if the one would be really useful. The -80% time to engage is nice but you have the downside of the consumable having a shorter duration and the planes take more time to be fully deployed.
Improved Engine Boost: Same logic as the previous build. The planes are slow so some extra Engine Boost is nice to have.
Last Gasp: Only 1 point perk left that is worth taking and it’s nice to have it just to squeeze out the potential damage you have in the last attack flight of a squadron.
Japanese Aircraft Carriers
In their case, there isn’t really any that would need a dedicated build so it will make things easier.
Proximity Fuse: It is not a secret to anyone, the Japanese carriers have very strong torpedo bombers. Do you know what that implies? Let’s make them stronger!
Torpedo Bomber: This skill is very useful as it reduces the arming distance of the torpedoes making them easier to land.
Please, don’t take Torpedo Armament Engineer, it’s not worth it, especially on fast torpedoes. Also, as the torpedo still have the same arming time, you will have to take the same lead and unless the target is already turning away, it won’t help at all. In fact, if the target turns in or has an island between it and you, it might heavily backfire as you won’t have the room to drop.
Repair Specialist: The Japanese torpedo bombers also come with the valuable gimmick of having an improved repair party. Making it even more efficient and with one more charge will be very useful to get the most out of their torpedo bombers.
Sight Stabilization: Both on the Torpedo Bombers and Dive Bombers, the skill helps quite a lot to get the smallest possible reticule faster.
Improved Engine Boost: Longer Engine Boost, you get faster on target, potentially leads to the planes taking less damage, you know the deal.
British Aircraft Carriers
Outside of Indomitable, you can just use the same build on all the others. The situation didn’t change compared to the pre-rework builds.
If you really want a build specific to Ark Royal, I added one.
Proximity Fuze: You end up using their torpedoes fairly often for the flooding and also because they are easy to land. Increasing the damage they deal can definitely help.
Demolition Expert: Due to their (sad) design, the British carriers rely a lot on fire and flooding damage. The higher fire chances are, as such, nice to have.
Torpedo Bomber: As the torpedo bombers are already your main source of damage, it is wise to make the torpedo easier to land.
Repair Specialist: Same reason as above. The torpedo bombers are your main source of damage so it’s important to make sure that they survive.
Improved Engine Boost: Same story as for previous builds, longer Engine boost to reach the target faster.
Proximity Fuze: Just like the tech-tree ships, your torpedoes are your main source of damage so increasing their damage is only logical.
Torpedo Bomber: Useful to give your target as little chance as possible to avoid the torpedoes.
Improved Engine Boost: It’s not a secret to anyone, the planes on Ark Royal are very slow. Making the engine boost last longer will somewhat compensate for that issue.
Demolition Expert: It’s a British carrier, it relies a lot on fires so let’s set as much of them as possible.
Last Gasp: Useful to get as much value as possible out of the last strike group in a squad.
Engine Techie: Last point left and it’s the only skill that will somewhat help the Ark Royal.
Bomber Flight Control: The ship is, for the biggest part, all about spamming her bombers so making them faster is definitely a good choice.
Last Gasp: Due to her small squads, Last Gasp is very good to recover the Engine Boost, after dropping once and as such, creating a “slingshot-ish” effect.
Improved Engine Boost: The skill is very useful to make the cycles as short as possible on Indomitable.
Demolition Expert: Indomitable is, just like the rest of the British carriers, focused on the damage from fires (and flooding).
Sight Stabilization: It will help for the bombers and also… well there isn’t anything else worth picking for the last points.
German Aircraft Carriers
For the German carriers, in my opinion, they are fine with a unified build unless you want to run a dumb secondary build on Graf Zeppelin (please don’t).
If you really want a build specific to Erich Lowenhardt, I added one.
Tech-tree ships and Graf Zeppelin
Proximity Fuze: The German tech-tree carriers have the most reliable aerial torpedoes of the game due to their high speed and short arming distance. You can easily get multiple hits on most targets and as such, you will get good value out of this skill. The extra damage on destroyers and weakly protected cruisers is also quite nice.
Bomber Flight Control: As unreliable (especially now on Manfred von Richthofen) as the dive bombers can sometimes be, they will still be a large source of damage for you. On top of that, they are already very fast so more speed is always nice to have.
Repair Specialist: Both the dive-bombers and torpedo bombers of the tier VIII August von Parseval and tier X Manfred von Richthofen have a Repair consumable so they benefit quite a lot from that skill. Graf Zeppelin gets some value out of it with her torpedo bombers that she often uses and sadly, as a tier VI carrier, it doesn’t affect Erich Loewenhardt.
Improved Engine Boost: By now, you know the drill with this perk. Faster is better!
Last Gasp: Quite useful to get the most out of the last planes in the squadron if you have the opportunity to use them.
Bomber Flight Control: The dive bombers of the Loewenhardt are her bread and butter so making them faster will help at getting the most out of it.
Improved Engine Boost: Faster is better, you know how it works.
Last Gasp: Quite useful to get the most out of the last planes in the squadron if you have the opportunity to use them.
Sight Stabilization: That one is already a bit of a “Ok, what do I do with my remaining points?”. Both on the rockets and dive bombers, the reticule shrinking speed is more than fine but… a little faster can always be nice.
Demolition Expert: The fire chances on the Loewenhardt’s bombs are already bonkers but more is always better than less.
This wraps up my little list of recommended builds for the few carrier players around. Once again, it’s not a “Take these skills or you are an idiot!” but simply the skills that are in my opinion the most suited for the different ships or nations.
I’m still pretty sad that Concealment Expert was turned into a noob trap. Now positioning with the carrier will be more important, especially at tier X.
Thank you for reading this article, I hope that it will help you for the upcoming update. Don’t forget to activate the notifications for The Daily Bounce to make sure that you won’t miss any upcoming articles.
Have a good one and see you soon!