Naval AI Targeting Modes Should Affect Crew Placement

Would you like to see this in-game?
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Should crew/uncrew time be longer the larger the ship?
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  • I voted No on the first poll.

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This is a loose adaptation of this suggestion in the Old Forum but with the reverse intention of the OP due to recent mechanic implementations. All the credit of the original idea goes to Otheym.

The problem:
In the update La Royale, the following changes were given to Naval players:

The damage model for battleships has been improved - the crew of a battleship is now distributed mainly in the citadel. Modules covered with armour are now of great value. A situation where significant losses might be inflicted on the crew located outside the armour protected area in auxiliary calibre mounts, on or below the upper deck has been fixed. Now another battleship or battlecruiser can deal serious one-time damage to a battleship if it successfully penetrates its armour and hits the most important internal modules. Note that this approach more clearly demonstrates the tactics of battle on battleships: choosing the distance to the enemy, choosing the angle by which the ship’s hull is turned, etc. And let us recall that the losses in the ship’s crew show not only and not so much the “killed and wounded”, but, mainly, people who have lost the opportunity to perform their combat duties. The crew is always tied to a specific module, such as a boiler room, gun, or gun mount. A disabled mount is conditionally equal to the loss of its entire crew, before replenishment and repair.

While this change was supposedly targeted at battleships in particular, its effects are seemingly felt all the way down to destroyers, where HE shells don’t appear to do any meaningful damage to opponents. While this was always an issue before, with the effect of HE shells continually being changed and tweaked over several updates, it seems to be worse now more than ever. This is ultimately a problem because most ships have to start their modification grind with purely HE, and Japan notably doesn’t even get access to AP rounds until their heavy cruiser line; all the while they face off against American ships with anti-fragmentation armor.

The Solution:
So in an adaptation of an older forum idea, I propose that the existing ability to toggle your AI gunners to fire at surface/air/both targets also dictates whether your secondaries and AA are crewed, and therefore can be harmed by the destruction of those respective guns. So for example, if you select the vessel to not fire at any targets, the crew casualties will be identical to the present damage model as all the crews are safely within the protection of the armor belt. Conversely, selecting that the ship should fire on all targets would mean all your AA mounts and secondaries are manned, leading to a potentially high crew loss from damages taken on those combat stations.

In determining which stations are assigned to which target mode, the general rule of thumb is that secondary guns are tied to “Attack Surface Targets” mode and AA are appropriately tied to “Attack Air Targets” mode. In the cases of the secondaries being a dual-purpose gun, such as the one used by the US ships, they will be manned at all times unless you toggle the “Don’t fire at any targets” option.

Switching over to manually control the weapons when they aren’t crewed will result in the message “Guns Must Be Crewed to Operate.” Additionally, while the player is free to toggle through the AI targeting option at will, there will be a timer until the ship takes on the new state to simulate the battle stations being crewed or uncrewed (perhaps longer the bigger the ship?). This will encourage the players to think ahead to prepare for threats and think about the risk of potential crew loss at the reward of increased firepower/protection. (For an example, you know the enemy has planes in the air, but you are also being shelled at by an enemy at close range. Will you deploy the AA crewmen to deal with the plane but risk their lives in the surface combat or will you just ignore the plane?)

Furthermore, this idea will also help players who play planes or PT boats a window of opportunity to get their target, as the enemy is less likely to have Target All on at all times as it currently is the case (there’s very little reason to do otherwise atm). And as a kicker, this increases the vulnerability of script/bot players as they tend to set targeting to all by default.

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I do think that is kind of modelled in the game. Ships with HE (Japan) have to bludgeon their target to death by turning the crew to hamburger until it can no longer repair and sinks or blows up.
I’m not sure if this is just a procedural thing where each hit take a bite out of its overall percentage of crew, or if its bean counted already where it tracks crew that are within armor and those on deck doing sailor things.
Given the (vastly) different rates with which HE bludgeons light ships like coastals and destroyers vs. cruiser on up. I think they already do or its a close enough approximation.
IRL, during surface engagements, you really couldn’t say, "Aim at whatever part of the ship. Remember, being able to point a cursor at an enemy ship and shoot bits off is purely an artifact of the game.
Likewise “general quarters” meant every gun manned, regardless of enemy action. I can’t think of any case where the crew were ordered to retreat behind main armor. Mostly that happened involuntarily when morale broke down after seeing the decks awash with blood and gore…

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From my experience, the amount of crew damage you can inflict matters a lot on where you hit (so hitting the bow will remove like 1 or 2 members) while landing a direct hit on the AA cluster takes out substantially more (or alternatively, have them die to the rain of MG fire as I’ve been subjected to for more times than I care to admit). So the idea presented would allow you to avoid taking chunks of damage from HE (and MG) by moving the crew to a safer position when they aren’t needed, unless you determine there are threat where more guns on target is preferable)

[Quote here relating to General Quarters but the forum doesn’t want to load for some reason]

While true that General Quarters declarations indicate that every personnel should head to their assigned stations, there are more specific Battle Station orders that can be made based on the situation. After all, if you are engaging purely surface combatants, telling your gunnery crew to man the AA guns would result in the aforementioned blood and gore decorating the decks needlessly. (Or deaf from the close proximity to the main guns from some…choice placements of AA suite on some ships). Likewise, a lot of Pre-WW1 dreadnoughts with casemates wouldn’t have a need for those to be manned at all time since their primary purpose was to defend the ship from smaller vessels at close range while the main engagements are done with the main guns.

I think you are presuming a lot more common sense and practical thought than is usually present in the military. lol.
In stressful situations like combat, most people cling to how they were trained or expect, even when its not rational. Ie; Normalcy bias.

The stresses of combat forces people to revert to basic training ingrained into them yes, but not everything trained is to become the next smear on the ground for some schmuck to clean. A crew that isn’t manning their station isn’t without a job, but rather serve a debatably more important task of damage control.

+1 to the suggestion

Fun fact here: Italian 37 mm/54 Breda Mod.39 was specifically designed to fold below an armored plate to prevent damage from shrapnel, when receiving fire from enemy warships.

Generally the concept of avoiding crew exposure when being hit by the enemy warships is nothing new for naval vessels throughout history, and it’s quite bizarre that here in War Thunder everyone are just happy to sit outside, get blasted into pieces by the first incoming HE shell, with the next crewman happy to step into the puddle of blood just to be blasted into pieces by the very next incoming broadside, lol

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