There are hundreds of ships in Azur Lane, and it can get difficult to pick which one is the best to proceed. Sometimes the difficulty curve becomes steep and all of a sudden and our team seems incapable of going forward. Our Azur Lane tier list provides you a selection of the best ships to include in your team to progress through the game as painlessly as possible.
This guide assumes you already know how to obtain more ships and materials to build more, if you are just starting out and just want to see what the game has to offer, please refer to our beginner’s guide instead. Remember that there are so many ships in this game that we can’t possibly include all of them, so we will have to skip some excellent ships. Also, we will focus on PVE ships, as grinding content is the most important part of the game, and after all the goal of the game is collecting all of the ships.
Remember that as with every tier list, it is subjective and based on personal opinions. Furthermore, most ships are potentially useful, thanks to their abilities and how the game is designed, so don’t discard units just because they are here, always keep ships if you only have 1 copy of them.
The Best Light Cruisers
All Light Cruisers are good, so don’t worry even if you don’t have any form this list. They have the best firepower with their regular gun, and are very fast and able to dodge projectiles, although their Health pool is relatively low compared to beefier ships like Heavy Cruisers.
Helena is a great Light Cruiser that has very high firepower and great stats, although unfortunately she is pretty squishy. Then again, her evasion stat is pretty high, so she will be fine in most fights, unless you get unlucky. Her Radar Scan is what makes hem incredibly useful at dealing with both mobs and bosses alike, as it has a very good chance to increase the damage taken by all the enemies currently on the screen. Unfortunately if you are unlucky this ability risks becoming a liability, as it could activate at the wrong time making it useless, for example vs low mobs right before the boss battle. She is very good when coupled with other DPS Vanguards, as she makes them deal more damage.
Phoenix is one of the best, if not the best ships you could use for farming. The reason being her main skill: Red Phoenix, which heals Phoenix for 15% when her health drops below 20%, while also increasing her Firepower by 30% for 15 seconds. This makes Phoenix effectively immortal unless the enemy can hit her for more than 35% of her health in a single hit. This ability can trigger once per node (the phases combat is divided in each battle). Getting Phoenix will speed up your ability to farm everything you need to in this game by a lot. You can make her even harder to take down by equipping her with a first aid kit and a torpedo bulge. She’s also fine as a frontline tank because of Red Phoenix, so keep her around even if you don’t necessarily need to farm any more.
Belfast has one of the highest offensive stats in her class, plus she has good stats and health too. Her main skill is Burn Order, and it lets her deal more HE damage and it can even burn enemies. She has also access to Smokescreen, which gives her a chance to activate a smokescreen that increases her entire team’s Evasion, and also reduces the damage taken by airstrikes. It does not stack with itself, so you can only have 1 smokescreen active at a time, but it’s already good enough this way. Unfortunately she is quite rare, being a Super Rare ship, but finding her will guarantee you an excellent ship that will last for your entire game.
Other notable Light Cruisers are: San Diego, Cleveland, and Montpelier.
The Best Destroyers
Destroyers are light ships focused on speed. Generally speaking, their guns are rather weak compared to Light Cruisers’ but they make up for it with their powerful torpedoes, lastly, they are the most fragile out of the Escort Ships. Your very first ship in the game will be a Destroyer, you will be able to pick between Laffey, z23, and Ayanami, all of them are great choices and they are very similar power-wise, so pick the one you like the most.
Yukikaze is hands down the best Destroyer, both against regular mobs and bosses. Her torpedoes can damage heavily even the sturdiest of bosses, and her abilities make sure she keep herself and her backline alive. Yukikaze of Kure reduces the damage received by the backline, furthermore, it will heal any backline ship by a small amount whenever their health drops below 10%. The Unsinkable Lucky Ship gives Yukikaze a chance of decreasing any damage she takes to 1, it also increases her Luck stat by 5 at the start of the battle, which influences the ship’s ability of hitting enemies and dodging attacks, plus her chance to land and avoid Critical Hits. As you can tell from her abilities, Yukikaze is really annoying if RNG is on your side, and her abilities have so many chances to activate that even with average luck she will prove to be a nightmare for your enemies.
The starter trio: z23, Laffrey, and Javelin
These are the three ships you can pick from when you first start the game. Z23 is the more offensively oriented ship, she has the highest firepower among the 3, and unlike the others is able to equip a Light Cruiser gun, and as we already explained, Light Cruisers guns are much better than Destroyers’. She can boost her own firepower even further with Iron Blood Vanguard and summon Shields to protect her if you unlock her Retrofit.
Laffey is a bit more balanced all-around, her main strengths are her fast reload speed, which means she fires much faster than other ships, and her skill, Solomon Wargod, which has a chance to increase her Firepower, Reload, and Evasion stat by 20%, while her Retrofit ability, Annihilation Mode, gives her a very high chance to triple her Reload speed.
Javelin is the squishiest ship of the 3 HPs wise, but she also boasts the highest Evasion stat, so she ends up being more survival than the other 2 unless extreme bad luck happens. Her main skill, Javelin Raid, gives her a chance to increase her Evasion for 8 seconds by a good amount, making her almost impossible to hit. Her Retrofit ability is Assault Mode, and gives her a chance to boost her Torpedo stat for 5 seconds every 20 seconds, which turns her regular Torpedo shot into a powerful barrage of fast torpedoes.
Other notable Destroyers include: Ayanami, eldridge, and Retrofit Cygnet.
The Best Heavy Cruisers
As the name implies, Heavy Cruisers are the heavy hitters of your fleet. They deal more damage and can take more hits than the other classes, and the trade-in is that they move much slower and are also much worse at evading enemy hits.
Prinz Eugen is by all means a tank. She has a massive health pool and decent armor, this coupled with her main skill Unbreakable Shield makes her very hard to take down. Unbreakable Shield gives Prinz a high chance of summoning 3 rotating shields around her that are able to absorb up to 10 hits each. Her biggest downfall is her lack of offensive power. Definitely a solid choice if you need to beef up your squad, as she is VERY hard to take down.
Minneapolis is another excellent Heavy Cruiser. Unlike Prinz Eugen, she can’t use Torpedoes, but she can equip DD guns, although she is not very good with them. Her strength lies in her ability to make herself even sturdier with Dullahan, which decreases the damage she takes when her health falls below 30%, plus it gives her health regeneration every 4 seconds, making her very hard to take down. Her main skill is called Thrill of the Hunt, and is what differentiates her from other traditional Heavy Cruisers, as it improves her offensive stats whenever she destroys an enemy vessel, making her more powerful.
Portland is less than stellar in her base version, but unlocking her Retrofit turns her into the best Heavy Cruiser in the game. Her evasion stat is comparable to that of Light Cruisers, but her Health is only slightly lower than those of a super tank like Prinz Eugen, and despite all of this her firepower is more than respectable thanks to the fact she is a gunboat with MGM+1, which means she fires an extra attack every time she shoots. Her main ability is a passive ability that only activates when she is flying together with her sister, Indianapolis, and it increases her Firepower, Anti-Air, and Reload. Defense Order is an ability that allows her to protect her fleet, decreasing the damage they take by up to 15% for 8 seconds.
Retrofit Portland (also referred to as Portland Kai sometimes) is one of the most versatile ships in the game and works in every lineup, even without Indianapolis on the fleet. Try to unlock her Retrofit as soon as possible if you get her.
Other notable Heavy Cruisers are: Saint Louis, Mogami, and Witchita.
The Best Battleships and Battle Cruisers
Battleships have the most impact on your fleet’s combat power, and they are generally better suited to support your fleet rather than raw damage output. The differences between Battleships and Battle Cruisers are: Battleships have Heavy Armor, while Cruisers have Medium Armor, Cruisers cost less oil to operate, and have higher evasion than Battleships.
Duke of York
Duke of York is easily the best Battleship in the game. She has strong offensive and support capabilities, she is amazing at killing bosses, and her skills are great in every situation. Unfortunately, for how powerful they are, her skills feel pretty lackluster until they are maxed out. That said, her health pool is insanely high, and she has Heavy Armor, so she is very hard to take down, plus with her Concerto of Blood she slows down her enemies by 40%, which is a lot, making them easier to deal with. Trepidation of Destruction is another great support skill that powers up the first Main Gun salvo and making the enemy hit take more damage for a bit, allowing the Duke to dish out decent damage despite being more focused on a supportive role. Lastly, do not forget that her Efficiency with Light Cruiser / Destroyer guns is 200%, so equip some of these bad boys to see how much damage the Duke of York can actually deal.
Amagi is one of the best Battlecruisers in the game. On top of being insanely tanky, she protects her entire fleet by weakening the enemies. Her main skill is Ageless Phoenix, and it reduces the enemy Firepower, Torpedo and Aviation simply by being on the field. Her second ability is called Efficacious Planning, and it reduces Burn damage taken by the Main Fleet, while also increasing their Evasion rate. Lastly, her True Strike provides her with a barrage that is among the strongest in the game, and if you have 4 or more Sakura ships on your fleet in battle, it will also decrease the reloading time of the first main gun salvo, effectively reducing the cooldown of True Strike, since it has a chance to fire after every attack fired by your main gun, whose attack speed is influenced by your Reload speed.
Other notable Battleships / Battlecruisers are: Monarch, Nagato, and Hyuuga.
The Best Aircraft Carriers
Aircraft Carriers go into your backline, and as the name implies, carry aircraft to provide aerial support during your battles. You get an Aircraft Carrier right at the start of the game: Long Island, which is pretty decent for the early game, so you will have time to get acquainted with her mechanics.
Unicorn is great for those long scenarios where you find yourself having issue surviving past the first 4-5 battles, thanks to her main skill, Support Carrier, which heals the Escort Fleet of their max health whenever she launches an airstrike. She provides additional support to her Escort Fleet through her Reload Command: Vanguard, which increases their Reload speed. She could also be categorized as a Repair Ship due to her heal on Support Carrier, but her main job is to be an Aircraft Carrier.
Centaur is amazing. Airspace Dominance increases your Main Fleet’s Air Power and Firepower whenever she launches an airstrike. Her main skill Swordfishes, Attack! is very interesting too: it has a passive component that increases the damage she deals to enemy Battleships, and then an active component that activates when she launches an Airstrike; it makes her deploy extra Swordfish planes that launch torpedoes that slow the enemies they hit. The amount of support you get from running Centaur is insane, you should always play her if you have access to her.
Enterprise is a bit of a weird carrier. She isn’t as reliable as Unicorn or Centaur, but when her Lucky E activates your opponents are in for a rough time. Lucky E has a chance to activate when Enterprise launches an airstrike, and when it does, it deals double damage with that Airstrike, plus it will make Enterprise evade all incoming attacks for 8 seconds.
Other notable Aircraft Carries include: Saratoga, Essex, and Ark Royal.
There is another category of ships in Azur Lane, called Repair Ships. As the name suggests, their abilities are focused on repairing their fellow fleet-mates, and they also sport decent Anti-Air guns. The best Repair Ship is by far Unicorn though, and she isn’t strictly speaking a Repair Ship, she just so happens to have the ability to repair her allied ships. Other notable Repair Ships include Shouhou, Akashi, and Arizona.
This concludes our guide to the best ships in Azur Lane and as we already pointed out, this tier list is purely subjective, and most ships can fulfill their role to a decent extent. If you believe we missed any important ship, please let us know in the comments. Happy grinding and good luck with your pulls!