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Friday, November 27, 2015

Fleet Friday: The New Orleans Class Cruiser

The USS New Orleans (CA-32,) the third of that namesake, was launched April 12, 1933 and commissioned February 15, 1934. She was a Washington Naval Treaty ship, originally classified a light cruiser due to the limited armor needed to keep her under the treat's 10,000 ton limit. However, her 8" main armaments had her reclassified a heavy cruiser soon after construction began.

During her service, she earned 17 battle stars with five Navy Crosses, 10 Silver Stars and 206 Purple Hearts awarded to her crew. She was in Pearl Harbor for engine repair on December 7, 1941 and fought through the attack without power. After the attack, the engine repairs were scrapped and she immediately put to sea to defend U.S. interests against Imperial Japan. She subsequently took part in the Battle of Coral Sea, Battle of Midway, and Battle of the Eastern Solomons.

During the Battle of Tassafaronga on November 30, 1942 (the fourth battle of Savo Island,) a Japanese Long Lance torpedo, whose capabilities were still a closely guarded secret, impacted below #1 turret detonating the small arms and bomb magazines in the bow. The explosion completely destroyed everything in front of the #2 turret, one quarter of her length. Click this link to read the entire USS New Orleans (CA32) Torpedo Damage report filed November 7, 1943 for a full appreciation of the damage done.

Through the heroic actions of her crew, she did not sink and was able to limp to Tulagi 31 kilometers away. There the crew constructed a makeshift bow from coconut logs and bamboo, along with USS Minneapolis and USS Pensacola who were also hit by Torpedoes. The USS Northampton sank. The Japanese lost IJN destroyer Takanami. As a summary of that battle, I believe the Japanese commander Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka summed it up the best for both sides,
"I have heard that US naval experts praised my command in that action. I am not deserving of such honors. It was the superb proficiency and devotion of the men who served me that produced the tactical victory for us."
USS New Orleans returned to action in August 1943 with a newly reconstructed bow courtesy of the Puget Sound Naval Yard. She saw extensive service in in the Pacific during the remainder of the war, fighting in practically all major operations until wars end, and then covered the internment of Japanese ships at Tsingtao. She was decommissioned February 10, 1947.

As you have no doubt deduced, I have finally cashed in all my experience and all my credits to purchase and outfit a New Orleans class cruiser. That was one expensive ship, and I'm not talking just the 8.9 million credit purchase price. To fully upgrade the ship requires 63,000 experience as well as many millions of credits more. This caused me to break my rule about not purchasing a new ship until I can fully upgrade it in one go. Actually, I only bent it. I waited until I had enough to purchase the B hull, and either the upgraded guns or the Mk8 mod 2 fire control. I elected to take the guns as it would not take me as long to acquire the upgraded fire control. Was that a mistake? Maybe, but more on that in a bit.

The thing I really like about the New Orleans is its detection range statistic. It is lower than the main guns' firing range; the first 8" U.S. cruiser to gain that ability. Don't even ask about the Pensacola. It's a fine ship. Play it as if always visible and you'll be fine. It is my plan to make my New Orleans a stealth cruiser. As this is a tier VIII ship, I get another upgrade slot. You can either take enhanced targeting or concealment. I took concealment. That coupled with the appropriate camouflage reduces my detection range to 11.2 kilometers.

The stock firing range is 14.7 kilometers. I can get 3.5 kilometers closer before opening fire. This reduces an already low dispersion of  134 meters to deadly accuracy. That is at least the theory. And should I start taking too much damage, I can stop firing and blink out of detection range. Of course it is more complicated than that. But that's my theory and I'll stick with it until proven wrong.

Now back to that decision on main gun upgrade versus fire control upgrade. Was it a mistake? I trade a bit of traverse speed for a bit of firing rate with the main gun upgrade. I give up 1.5 kilometers of firing range by not taking the Mk8 mod 2 fire control. That brings my rate of fire more in line with my adversaries, but puts me at a range disadvantage. However, I am not easily detectable until I an well within my stock range. It doesn't really make a difference. And though my traverse is slower, it can nearly keep up in a hard turn. Had I stayed with the stock guns it would likely be able to keep up, so if there is nay regret in the choice that is it. Turning battles with DDs is not as smooth as I'd like it, but after a certain point the turrets have to turn completely around and that's much bigger issue, so I can deal with pausing a little to let the turrets line up. It just makes me pick better shots.

But there is something about the New Orleans that does have me greatly worried. I had thought about halting all my ship lines at tier VII because the higher tiers are low credit and experience earners for the average player like me. This was borne out by my first five battles, four of which my team lost. That's not to say I played well. I did not. A new ship takes some getting used to. No, what really worries me is that in a match where my ship is sunk, I have to earn a minimum of 108,000 credits to break even. That's not always easy to do when your team is pwned. This ship has the potential of being a money loser, and I'm not liking that. 

But that is how makes their money. If you want to play with the "big boys" with the "big boys toys" you're going to have to pay up. Half the players always lose, so half the players (at least) are faced with losing credits rather than gaining them. I wouldn't be surprised to see's payout algorithm and discover it looks a lot like those employed by casino games creators. There are a lot of similarities in how you make money in a casino and how you make money in a Free-to-Play game. Or hadn't you realized that? Anyway, for those who have played it, what are your thoughts on best tactics using a New Orleans class cruiser? For those who have only played against one, what has and has not worked in your experience? Please let me know in the comments. And as always, thanks and safe sailing until we meet as opponents.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What's Been Going On

As you can see, I've moved Mabrick's Mumblings back to the original Blogger site I began with five years ago. I wrested my domain from the clutches of and transferred it to Google Domains. Why Google Domains? Because it was quick, easy, and at $12 a year it's about the best deal you can get.

The down side to this move is there are a lot of blog posts that need reformatted to one extend or another. The good news is I've reconnected with all the old posts that never got properly reformatted on The bad news is I have no traffic history for the past two years. The good news is I won't be depressed by those numbers any longer. Actually it wasn't that bad, but looking at my site traffic back when I was an Eve Online only blogger makes the post EVE Online traffic look fairly anemic. Of course my stress levels are a lot lower now. I'm not a hunted man in the games I play today.

Anyway, I've worked on the export/import/reformat stuff all weekend through today in between the RL things that blasted me last week. To tell truth, it was mostly to keep my mind off those unpleasant things. And this is where I have to tell you what they are because I've mentioned it twice now.

Well, going into last week I already knew Saturday I had a Celebration of Life ceremony to go to for my Uncle Karel. He was 88 and died around Veterans Day of a heart attack. It was tough. He and my Uncle Tom had been invited back to Washington D.C. for a veterans ceremony, because they both fought in World War II. My Uncle Karel was a crewman on a Navy bomber. His plane crashed six times and he survived them all. They called him cat because he seemed to have so many lives. But time runs out for all of us sooner or later. The night they landed in D.C. he was not feeling well. Before long he was throwing up and then he passed out. He lived long enough for his son, young Karel, to get to his father's bedside. Then he died.

But remember that comment I made about sooner or later? Wednesday night was sooner for my sister's brother-in-law, who was only a couple years older than I am. Many times had I hunted and fished with him, and he was a good friend. He was a large and robust man, but about a month ago he began feeling run down and tired to the point of not being able to stand. After a week seeing ineffectual doctors, he was finally diagnosed with leukemia. Within six hours they had transported him to the Oregon Health Sciences University, one of the premier cancer treatment centers on the west coast. They sequenced the cancer's DNA, and determined it was treatable but required a bone marrow transplant. They started chemotherapy. Unfortunately he contracted a blood-born infection after they'd nuked his immune system, and it was antibiotic resistant. I was shocked when I learned of his death last Thursday.

But wait, there's more. His was not the death for which I was waiting. At 12:30 AM Friday morning my mother lost her 2+ year battle with primary peritoneal cancer and died. I'd like to tell you she passed peacefully in her sleep, but life isn't a fairy-tale. It was at least quick at the end - less than a week. It was a bad week though, and I'm relieved she's past it now. Thanksgiving isn't this year. I will miss the visits and the family gatherings that always seemed to center around our matriarch these past 18 years since my father died of cancer. But it has occurred to me he's getting one hell of a Christmas present.

With all the cancer deaths, you'd think I'd be worried about the solidity of my genes. I'm not. The cancer my mother had was like ovarian cancer. It only affects women. Fortunately both my sisters tested negative for the double mutation responsible. It's good that one is not enough in this case. As for my father's cancer, it was not natural. In 1951, as a soldier in the U.S. Army, he participated in two atomic bomb tests at Camp Mercury, Nevada named Operation Buster-Jangle. Though he didn't get enough gamma radiation to cause more than nuisance skin cancer, if any cancer can be considered merely a nuisance, the food was contaminated by the radioactive dust that was everywhere. A few weeks in those chow lines and the damage was done, though it took 46 years to manifest itself.

So there, now you know what's been happening and why I've not felt like playing a lot of games lately. Except that's not exactly true. At night, when there's nothing left to do otherwise, I find SWTOR to be an excellent distraction from the sadness and the cascade of heartfelt condolences pouring down on me. Actually, the condolences are the worst. I've had two years to prepare for my mother's death - ever since her first round of chemotherapy failed to gain remission. Those who were not near my mother these last two years and couldn't see where it was going, and how far it had progressed, are really the upset ones. They are more upset than I, and their grief makes me even sadder. It's a strange thing when the grief of those remaining brings more emotional upheaval than the loss which triggered said grief. That's been the hardest thing to shoulder for me.

Therefore I've turned comments off for this post. I know you all have nothing but good thoughts for me and my family. It's unnecessary to express them. We will all get past this and life for us will continue. I've got two concerts this coming weekend - Abney Park and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. How's that for juxtaposition? The misses and I are attending with dear friends and it will be good. There is a Star Wars movie looming large on the horizon. I have never been immune to Jedi mind games. So glad I'm not a Hutt. I'm not much of a Christmas person: too much commercialism. But a new year beckons beyond that, and another birthday right after, and life goes on. Stay tuned. I'll be back shortly.