Azur Lane

Azur Lane Tier List - Best Light Cruisers

by vhaysteUpdated: Apr 26th 2023

Step into the world of Azur Lane, the action-packed mobile game available on Android and IOS. Immerse yourself in an alternate timeline of World War II, where players command a fleet of fierce and adorable female characters, each inspired by real-life warships. Engage in thrilling side-scrolling battles and showcase your strategic prowess to emerge as the ultimate victor. With millions of fans worldwide, Azur Lane is the go-to game for an unbeatable gaming experience. Start your journey today and join the ranks of the elite captains!


Azur Lane Tier List - Best Light Cruisers

Disclaimer: Please be reminded that Tier Lists are not "definite" measures of the character's strength and potential. There are a lot of factors to be considered like the characters' availability, their synergy with your team, their utility, equipment, etc. As such, please use our tier lists as what they're meant to be - a guide. Use tier lists to help you decide whether you'll want to invest resources and time to build a character. At the end of the day, it's you who will decide which ones you'll use based on preference and performance.

Azur Lane Ship Classification (CL)

CL is a ship classification used in naval terminology and in the game. In Azur Lane, CLs or Light Cruisers are positioned in the Vanguard (frontline) slots in a fleet formation. Light Cruisers were meant to be the intermediary class between destroyers and heavy cruisers. Light cruisers typically possess a well-rounded combination of speed, survivability, and firepower, although there may be minor variations among different vessels.

Azur Lane

Azur Lane Light Cruiser Tier List

As of April 2023, Azur Lane has a total of 522 regular ships, 90 of which can be retrofitted. These ships are divided into four major classes, each with their own specialty, position, and role in the game so compiling them into a single tier is almost impossible and won't do any shipgirl justice. That's why we have decided to create separate tier list pages for each major category to make it easier to compile and grade them fairly and accordingly the best we can. In our tier list below, we will be covering all the Light Cruisers in the game.

SS Tier


S Tier

Emden, Harbin, Helena, Helena META, Mainz, Neptune, Reisalin Stout, Rikka Takarada, San Diego, Seattle

A Tier

Aurora, Chapayev, Duca degli Abruzzi, Jeanne d'Arc, Jintsuu, Kirov, Kuybyshev, Misaki, Montpelier, Noshiro, Pamiat Merkuria, Scylla, Swiftsure, Voroshilov, Yat Sen

B Tier

Avrora, Bellona, Biloxi, Birmingham, Boise, Curlew, Dido, Dido µ, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Haruka Amami, Isuzu, Juneau, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Phoenix, Reno, Sirius

C Tier

Belfast, Cleveland, Columbia, Denver, Kinu, La Galissonniare META, Newcastle, Ning Hai, Ping Hai, Sakawa, Sendai

D Tier

Achilles, Ajax, Brooklyn, Curacoa, Little Bel, Nurnberg, Sheffield, Sheffield META, Sheffield µ, St. Louis

E Tier

Abukuma, Agano, Arethusa, Atlanta, Black Prince, Chao Ho, Charybdis, Cleveland µ, Concord, Edinburgh, Elbing, Emile Bertin, Enterprise (Royal Navy), Fiji, Galatea, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hai Chi, Hai Tien, Hass, Hermione, Jamaica, Karlsruhe, Kaln, La Galissonniare, Lena, Leander, Li'l Sandy, Manchester, Memphis, Memphis META, Mikuma, Murmansk, Naka, Nagara, Neptune (Neptunia), Penelope, Purple Heart, Raleigh, Richmond, San Juan, Southampton, Ying Swei, Yura, Yuubari

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Best Azur Lane Light Cruisers Description

Unfortunately, we won't be able to give a description to all shipgirls in the game so we will just provide the description for the SS and S-tier units for your perusal. We have omitted some S-tier shipgirls like San Diego (retrofit), Helena (retrofit), and Yat Sen (retrofit) since their niche or conditional effectiveness. However, they are extremely good at what they're designed for but somewhat with reduced effectiveness in general use. San Diego for example have monstrous AA capabilities but won't be as effective in maps without planes to shoot down.

We have also omitted top tier event-only CLs like Reisalin Stout and Rikka Takarada since players who missed the event won't have access to them until the next rerun. As such, we will only highlight some of the top tier CLs here that are accessible to most players and will shine in general combat.


Construction: Research

Rarity: Decisive

Faction: Royal Navy

Azur Lane

Plymouth is an exceptional light cruiser, thanks to her self-applied buffs that increase her offensive and defensive capabilities, topped with consistent special barrage that deals damage, exposes enemies, and increases the damage taken by enemies from BB, BC, and BBV units of her fleet..

Her FP and Accuracy gets boosted at the start of battle with additional EVA when she is accompanied by another Royal Navy ship or equipped with Royal Navy gear. Every 10 seconds, Plymouth unleashes a special barrage, inflicting damage and she becomes Shrouded for 5 seconds. While in Shrouded mode, she takes 1% (10%) less damage. Upon becoming Shrouded for the third time, she heals 4% (10%) of its maximum HP. The barrage exposes enemies for 10 seconds, causing them to take 8% (18%) more damage from your Flagship if it is a BB, BC, or BBV.


Construction: 01:19:00

Rarity: SR (Super Rare)

Faction: Iron Blood

Azur Lane

Emden is a powerful light cruiser that stands out for her unique equipment layout, which allows her to equip CL and DD guns in her first two slots and a torpedo on her third slot. Emden's equipment loadout has a significant impact on her abilities. Equipping a CL Main Gun in her Secondary Weapon slot increases her Main Gun and Secondary Weapon efficiencies by 15% (25%). She also gains the ability to unleash a special barrage once every 20 seconds that inflicts a 30% SPD debuff to enemies hit for 5 seconds. The damage dealt by this barrage is based on the skill level.

Alternatively, if a DD Main Gun is equipped in the same slot, Emden can deploy a shield every 10 seconds that lasts 5 seconds and can block up to 5 enemy shots. If the shield is destroyed, she will also unleash a special barrage that restores her HP equal to 5% (15%) of the damage dealt.

At the start of a battle, Emden gains a 1% (10%) EVA boost. If she's the only ship in your Vanguard, she's immune to the Out of Ammo debuff. If there are other Iron Blood ships in your fleet, after 5 seconds, their HP is lowered by 11 and their FP is increased by 1% (10%). Every time Emden sinks an enemy ship, her EVA increases by 1% (5%) for the remainder of the battle, and this effect can be stacked up to three times.


Construction: Research

Rarity: Priority

Faction: Dragon Empery

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Harbin is a ship that has a unique set of abilities. She has a 10% damage reduction against torpedoes and deals 10% (20%) extra damage against heavy armor with her equipped torpedoes. Additionally, she increases the torpedo and missile damage dealt by Dragon Empery Destroyers and Guided-missile Destroyers in the fleet by 4.5% (12%).

When Harbin launches her torpedoes, she creates a smokescreen that lasts for 3 seconds, increasing Evasion Rate by 15% (35%) and decreasing damage taken from enemy aircraft by 15% (35%) for all the ships inside it. This effect does not stack with "Smokescreen: Light Cruisers." After 3 seconds, there's a 50% (100%) chance that she will launch an additional wave of torpedoes and trigger the smokescreen effect again.

Additionally, Harbin has a chance to unleash a special barrage every 20 seconds. When she takes damage, there's also a chance to increase her FP, AA, and torpedo stats, that can be stacked up to three times.

Helena META

Construction: META Showdown

Rarity: SR (Super Rare)

Faction: META

Helena META can fire a special barrage every 20 seconds, which can debuff enemies hit with increased damage taken. With any Eagle Union gear equipped, this barrage fires every 15 seconds instead. Additionally, the ship's FP and accuracy increase by 5% (15%), and it can spawn a small zone that stops enemies inside it from moving for a few seconds.

This ship deals increased damage against light armor and can reduce damage taken by 8% (18%) when sortied with Helena or Lena. If not, it can increase Evasion by 5% (15%) and decrease the lead ship's damage taken in the Vanguard by 5%. Additionally, with Helena META in the vanguard, the entire Vanguard's damage dealt against humanoid Siren or Boss fleets is increased in Operation Siren.


Construction: Research

Rarity: Priority

Faction: Iron Blood

Azur Lane

Mainz is a light cruiser with characteristics more commonly seen in heavy cruisers. This includes high durability, medium armor, and lower evasion compared to other light cruisers. She also has high damage output, making her a strong addition to any fleet.

She can deploy a shield every 15 seconds that blocks up to 6 enemy shells for 8 seconds. If the shield is destroyed, Mainz fires a special barrage and gains an FP and Accuracy buff that can stack twice. At the start of the battle, if Mainz is in the frontmost position of the vanguard, it gains Speed and Evasion buffs and decreased damage taken for the first 30 seconds of the battle. If not, Mainz gains increased critical damage and a chance to fire a special barrage every 15 seconds.

Once Mainz gets access to Fate Simulation, she'll gain the following buffs at all times: increased speed, evasion, and reduced damage taken for the first 60 seconds of battle; increased critical damage; and a chance to fire an enhanced special barrage every 15 seconds. The damage of the special barrage scales with the ship's skill level.


Construction: Research

Rarity: Priority

Faction: Eagle Union

Azur Lane

Seattle is a versatile, all-around ship that performs well as the vanguard's tank, thanks to her high durability. She can equip either two CL main guns or two AA guns, but it's recommended to use two CL guns for better main gun DPS.

By default, Seattle gains a temporary buff to her Firepower and Anti-Air when shooting down enemy aircraft within the fleet's AA range. Once she gains access to Fate Simulation, the buff applies immediately and lasts throughout the battle if the airspace control is at Parity or higher. If the fleet shoots down 15 or more enemy aircraft, Seattle gains a permanent buff to her Firepower and Reload for the rest of the battle.

Seattle also gains a buff depending on the type of weapon equipped in her Secondary Weapon slot: If equipped with a Main Gun, her Anti-Air Gun Efficiency is increased. If equipped with an Anti-Air Gun, her Main Gun Efficiency is increased. When placed in the backmost position of the Escort Fleet, Seattle receives a damage reduction buff.

There you have it! That's our tier list for all currently available light cruisers in Azur Lane. You can also check out our other tier lists for the game.

Paul, Staff Writer

PaulPaul, also known as 'vhayste' is a top guide writer who has been covering games for us for many years.

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