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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Highlights #3: Killing Carriers

Carriers are big and hard to reach, and they have pointed teeth that can reach out and bite you. But when you reach them, they are a very satisfying kill.

I have not managed to kill many carriers, only a handful in over 310 PvP battles. :? They excel at staying behind their fleet mates. ;) About the only time you'll get close to them, unless you're in a destroyer, is near the end of a match. Perhaps distance is not a big deal if you're in a ship like the Yamato that can range almost the entire map, but I'm just getting into upper tier cruisers and have just researched the New Mexico class battleship, though I can't afford one right now. :/

When I had a nice one-on-one with an Independence class carrier this past week, I decided to see if I could put together five or six minutes of carrier kills. I could. There are only four of them, and I did not land the last penetration on one of them, but they do show the gambit of what you'll encounter when you get and opportunity to open up on one. Enjoy!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fleet Friday - On To the Pensacola Class Cruiser

While I was on vacation I earned enough experience to research the Pensacola class cruiser. This is the first heavy cruiser available to the U.S. line of ships. This is also the first U.S. cruiser with 8" main armaments. Let me tell you, those guns get the job done. Firing AP against other cruisers, light or heavy, will reward you with citadel hit after citadel hit, if you aim well. But first, let's have a look at my progress.

My Victories/Battles has dropped ever so slightly, but my Kill/Death Ration has markedly improved. Nothing else has really changed that much.

So far I've managed 19 battles in the Pensacola with 12 victories: 63 percent and a butt. There were also two draws, one of which I managed as the sole survivor after my team was soundly thrashed while I was not watching. I was defending our base, hunting a couple of destroyers that'd slipped behind us, and the next thing I knew everything depended on me. Honestly, I was happy to just survive. Running the clock out for a draw was just icing on my personal cupcake.

I was asked in one of my games last night what the Pensacola was like. My answer?
Fully upgraded it rocks. Need the last turret upgrade for full effect.
That's not a full review of course. There is more too it than that. The stock Pensacola has turrets that rotate very slowly. They are almost battleship slow at 45 seconds to cover 180 degrees. Those 8" guns are great, but not if you can't get them onto a fast-moving target. It is possible for a fast destroyer to turn circles around a Pensacola without the Pensacola getting a shot off with its main armament.

There are three things you can do to overcome this weakness. The first is to buy the Main Battery Modification #2 upgrade. This increases your load time by 10% to decrease your traverse time by 15 percent. Do this when you first get the ship. The best thing you can do is to research the 203mm/55 Mk14 upgrade, but that requires the B Hull upgrade. This will decrease your traverse by 33 percent! If you want your rate of fire back, you can then swap out the Main Battery Modification #2 upgrade. I recommend the AA Guns Modification #2. Lastly, you should purchase the Steering Gears Modification 2. This is expensive, but your ship will be quick enough to chase destroyers, which you should always do. It will also help you avoid torpedoes, both ship fired and bomber launched. It also helps you to traverse your main guns when the turrets are too slow. Remember, your ship is the master turret. Don't be afraid to angle it as such.

Pensacola Upgrades
After these upgrades, the Pensacola class cruiser is fearsome. You can penetrate the armor on any cruiser. You can penetrate the armor on older battleships. With the appropriate AA upgrades, you can shoot down entire squadrons before they can attack, even without the Defense AA Fire I consumable.

There is just one more thing you need to remember when you sail the Pensacola class cruiser. It is not a battleship. You may have more hit points than a Wyoming, but you do not have the armor. Battleships will wreck you in one broadside. As surely as you can claim citadel hits on other heavy cruisers, they will citadel you. The one thing you have an advantage over lighter ships is that you can take more torpedoes. I've taken three in a game and survived. Being hit by one torpedo is almost a non-event. Just keep your repair ready. Fire won't burn you down to the waterline, so unless you have multiple fires let them burn. Increase your captain's skill to deal with it. Save your repairs for flooding and incapacitations.

That's my take on the Pensacola class cruiser so far. What am I missing? Let me know in the comments. Thanks, and battle on!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The New YouTube Gaming Site - A Quick Review

Today I received an interesting email from YouTube. It seems YouTube has a new website just for gamers.
So of course I clicked on the link ( and had a look at it. Here's what I found.

This looks a more than a little like the layout for Twitch. I suppose there are only so many ways to present a live stream with menu choices, but they might have been a little more circumspect about it. We'll see if Amazon has any qualms about it.

The first thing I noticed was this screen did not default to my game account. Before Google decided to tie everything to Google Plus, I had a Google Plus account and a YouTube account, Mabrick's Movies. This is showing my Google Plus account. Mabrick's Movies is now a page under my Google Plus main account. Fortunately Google quickly realized the errors of their ways with by trying to force the integration of both accounts, so for most of the Google Plus years I have been able to choose which account I wanted by clicking on the profile picture. This new site is no different. When you click on your profile picture you can choose what account you want to see by clicking on Switch accounts.

After switching to my gamer account under Mabrick's Movies, I still had the same screen as above with a different profile. As you can see, there are a bunch of Google selected channels down the right side of the screen. These are not my favorite channels, but it is easy to bring all your subscriptions into the new site. Just click on Import from YouTube (the plus with a circle around it in the contracted menu) when you have the profile selected from which you want to import. You will then be presented with your subscription list. Select the star to the right of each one you want to import. Then click Done at the bottom of the list. Once complete your subscriptions will show in the right side navigation strip.

The left side navigation strip starts off with ten Trending Games. Below trending games are 50 Popular Games. From these lists you can build a favorites list of games above the trending list by clicking on the start next to the game you want to add.

There is another way to add games and channels to the appropriate navigation strip. Using the search box at the top of the page, just enter the game you want to see. For example, World of Warships is not trending or popular, so I did a search for it. Here's the result.

Clicking the star next to Add puts the game in the My Games list in the left strip. Live broadcasts have the Live annotation in the lower right corner. Other channels are standard YouTube channels. There are several menu options above the channel listings which are self-explanatory. However, there are some undocumented behaviors I've noticed of which you should be aware.

If you are Exploring, channels in your My Channels list will show up more frequently than others, even though there is a separate My Channels menu item. At least that is my experience when I click Explore. As a test I brought up the posts for Minecraft. I only have one person I subscribe to and she plays it infrequently. The showed up three times in the first eight channels. I don't think that was really a random draw there. I don't know if that's by design or a mistake, but knowing Google they just had to leverage all that big data they have.

If you want to see new channels you'll have to use one of the three Popular options. However, this will not show you channels which may be diamonds in the rough, and it still seems to cater to your My Channels list more than it should. This makes finding new channels a bit difficult, but I suppose YouTube has always been that way.

To add a channel to your right side strip, you must go to that channel. There is an Add star on the lower right side of the video window. This works pretty much just like a subscription. Be advised, all the AutoPlay options are once again set to on. That is truly, truly annoying. Thanks Google.

And that's my quick and dirty on the new YouTube gaming site. Let me know what you think if it in the comments. Cheers!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Never start a fight, but always finish it.

"Never start a fight, but always finish it." - Captain John Sheridan, Commander, Babylon 5.

Last night the Hugo Awards were broadcast from the Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention. I was there. It was a night to remember. It was alternately tense, funny, somber and sad. To say it was an emotional roller coaster would be like comparing a bumpy ride in the back of a pickup truck to Six Flag Great Adventures. At the end of the night, I was ready for a stiff drink, which I soon had in my hand.

As I've mentioned before on this blog, this was the year a group of Sci-Fi fans and second-rate editors tried to game the Hugo voting system. They prepared a slate of nominees to their liking, they bought memberships to the convention so they could vote (many of which were paid for from an editor's own wallet,) and they stacked the ballet. Here are my objections to such system gaming.

First and foremost, it excludes very deserving authors from consideration. This is egregious bad form in my opinion. What I mean is this: let's have a look at the Hugo nominees for the novella category.
  • “Flow”, Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog, 11-2014)
  • Big Boys Don’t Cry, Tom Kratman (Castalia House)
  • One Bright Star to Guide Them, John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  • “The Plural of Helen of Troy”, John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis, Castalia House)
  • “Pale Realms of Shade”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
These were all slate-vote nominees. One author has THREE nominees. Do you know what that really means? That means at least two authors who were at least as deserving of consideration, were pushed off the list. If you consider the entire slate to be one nomination source, then at least four other deserving authors were pushed off the nominee list. FOUR.

Look, it's damn hard to get onto a Hugo Award nominee list. The vast majority of authors never even get close. For those with great talent, they may only have one work that ever reaches such a height. To have one author hog three nomination slots is to throw your middle finger up in front of all your colleagues and say, "fuck you." Now, I don't normally use such vulgar language in my posts but that is the only language appropriate to the situation.

This year the Hugo Awards did something they haven't done before. They anonymized the voting data and published it all for public consumption. This allows us all to see what the nominee list would have been if slate-vote nominees were limited to one consideration. Here's what that list would have looked like.
  • Big Boys Don’t Cry by Tom Kratman
  • One Bright Star to Guide Them by John C. Wright
  • Flow by Arlan Andrews Sr
  • The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
  • The Regular by Ken Liu
Yeah, that's right. Both Patrick Rothfuss who wrote The King Killer Chronicles and Ken Lie who translated The Three Body Problem both got the finger. THOSE TWO AUTHORS DESERVED BETTER. Mr. Wright only had to give up two of his nominations and they would have gotten better. And have a look at the bottom of the released statistics, Mr. Rothfuss and Mr. Liu were not the only authors pushed off the ballots by the selfishness of a few.

I'll put it another way, only the best story wins. Any author knows which of their stories is the best, and that s/he can only win once. Having more than one nomination simply means your two less capable works are just running interference. In such a circumstance, you are not winning on merits alone. You are winning on merits AND the elimination of competition. They don't allow that in horse racing and I'm sure as hell not going to allow it in the Hugo Awards.

THAT, that right there is why I voted no award for the novella category, not because Mr. Wright can't write. Irrespective of his alleged political convictions, he could still be a damned fine writer. I may not agree with Ayn Rand's or Kurt Vonnegut's politics, but that doesn't mean Atlas Shrugged and Slaughterhouse Five aren't masterpieces. But I'll tell you what, if either one of them had occupied three slots with their first, second and third-rate books, I'd have voted no award for them too. Anything else condones unacceptable racing behavior and it is wrong.

The other reason why I voted no award in the slate-vote categories is because of the wanton self-aggrandizement exhibited in those categories. Look, if you are going to create a political movement to make a particular point, have the common decency to not use it for your own self-promotion. I'm looking at you Mr. Day. It makes you look like a crook. Are you a crook? Well then, don't act like one.

There is one thing good the slate-voting did for the Hugo Awards this year. The official website summed it up extremely well, so I will quote it (emphasis mine.)
5,950 members of this year’s Worldcon voted in the 2015 Hugo Awards, according to an announcement from Sasquan, the 2015 World Science Fiction Convention. This breaks last year’s record of 3,587 ballots, and represents a 57% voter turnout, the highest participation level in the past decade. More people voted this year than attended all but eight of the 72 past Worldcons.
WOW! Gods, I hope the science fiction community can keep that level of engagement. I mean, just walking around the convention center was an experience I won't soon forget. I've met people I look up to as a writer. I've met people I look up to as human beings. I've met new friends and people from all over the world. And I actually do credit the slate-voting for the turn out. Had they not kicked over the dung-heap so to speak, people would not have gotten out their metaphorical torches and pitchforks. And this turn out is not just restricted to the vote. As of last night there were 5097 people in attendance. That's a record too if I don't miss my bet. So thank you slate-voters, you've really helped make this years WorldCon a huge success.

But don't let that go to your head. You need to learn to play better with the other children on the play ground. We are a generally accepting bunch, but we don't like sand thrown in our faces. And though we tend to be pacifistic and we never start a fight, we will finish it - just like we did this year. Play nicer. You'll get better results.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ingress Action is Hot and Heavy at WorldCon

Ingress Action
Though there are panels every hour, there are not panels I want to sit in on every hour at WorldCon. Sometimes there are a couple free hours available between panels I want to listen too.

It's during those times I play Ingress. And trust me, downtown Spokane (Washington state for those unfamiliar with U.S. secondary cities) has portals aplenty. With WorldCon in town, there is a large contingent of agents from all over the world. We lurk behind every column and on every balustrade.

This afternoon I had a couple of hours available, so I captured a large section of River Front Park which surrounds the convention center. The area isn't super large, but with so many portals it was actually a bit tricky to set up. Especially since I hadn't figured out all the rules for linking portals when I started. This is the first time I've really had an opportunity to do so. But I got it done as you cans see.

However, it didn't last. I wasn't even 10 minutes into my 4 PM panel when my first portal came under attack. By the time my hour-long panel was over, all my fields had been taken down, though they are not replaced with The Resistance's fields yet.

That was this morning. We had to take their fields down before we could get ours up. The battle for the heart of Spokane is hot and heavy. If I don't make Agent Level 6 by the time WorldCon is over it's because I broke my leg or something.

From what I've seen so far, I don't think either side will get the upper hand in this struggle this weekend. That'll make it even more fun - and rewarding. Yes, it's going to be an Ingress battle royal, and that's what I've been missing with this game since I started playing.

Now, it's time I got back too it. For the enlightenment of humanity!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Why I Don't Mind If You Don't Watch My Stream

I'm putting up tomorrow's post today as I'll be on the road most of tomorrow followed by... Wait for it... WorldCon! Okay, maybe I'm the only one around here excited about that. But you know, it beats going to work for a week. :)

At first I couldn't think of what to write about. I've not been streaming so I've no highlights. The video I did post on Sunday consumed a gigabyte of my meager data allotment, so I won't be doing that again. So as I was thinking about it I caught up on my Reader feed.

And wouldn't you know it, Herding Cats gave me an idea! It's not a rebut of her post, titled #Blaugust 18: Why I’m Not Watching Your Stream. I happen to agree with everything she said in that post. If you aspire to be a professional streamer, you need to treat it like a professional stream. That takes hard work and yes, as she points out, no small amount of talent. Talent I don't have. I'm not ashamed to admit it. It's the truth. If I'd have wanted to go into show business I'd be an actor... or something. But I'm not. I'm not going to pretend to be.

However, I do stream. I stream to Twitch, even though I once said YouTube Live was a superior platform. By the way, that is a really old post and a lot has changed since I did those comparisons. Perhaps one day I'll redo the comparison, but for now I'm indeed using Twitch. More on that in a bit.

So how many viewers do I have? Practically none would be the correct answer. I occasionally get a lurker. And once in a great while I'll actually get a, "hello." Oft as not I'll miss it, because I'm not a professional streamer. Sorry. It's not personal. I'm just really into my game and I suck as a host. In fact, I am probably one of the worst streamers on Twitch these days. Okay, maybe I am the worst streamer on Twitch. That's okay. I'm not streaming for you.

"So why the hell stream," you ask? Because it makes video editing so much easier. :D

First of all, I can capture an entire gaming session without consuming a single gigabyte of disk space. I used FRAPS for years because FRAPS is good. But it is an uncompressed video capture program and it is a hard-drive eater. One hour of full HD 60 frames per second Elite: Dangerous video capture consumes 100 gigabytes (or more) of disk space. Do you know what editing a file that large is like? I've 16 gigabytes of memory in my system and I sometimes run low on memory. By streaming to Twitch they get to handle the load.

Okay that's not a really good reason. Playing and streaming at the same time often uses all CPU cycles and as much memory as editing a 100 gigabyte file. Also, by streaming my game session I am accepting a certain amount of compression, which I could easily do on my own hard drive. In fact, I do that on my laptop when I'm travelling as I am now. It's how I got Sunday's video done. So saving hard drive space and RAM isn't it.

What is it is Twitch's highlighting system. That taken in conjunction with YouTube's relatively new video editor, I can save snippets of interesting game play and do things like produce the Sunday highlights I've presented on this blog. Both of those were done using Twitch highlights and YouTube editing. It's practically painless.

Let me say something about the YouTube video editor while I'm on the subject. It's awesome. I don't mean that it's technically awesome. That it is not, and I know. I use Adobe Premier when I need to do complicated things and that program is awesome. What I mean when I say YouTube editor is awesome is that it's simple enough anyone can understand it and it's freely available where ever you are, no matter the bandwidth of your connection. It's also quick. I can spend hours upon hours working on one of my Elite: Dangerous videos in Adobe Premier. I can crank out a Sunday Highlights video in about an hour to 90 minutes. It's a real time saver.

And that's why I really stream. It saves time. Look, I have a full-time job. It consumes 40 to 50 hours of my life a week. When I have free time I like to game. I enjoy it. It's my relaxation time. And though I do enjoy video editing, if given a choice between gaming and video editing I'll take the gaming thank you very much. By streaming my sessions I already have them on the Internet, in a suitable format. I can highlight them on the Internet and, thanks to Google, I can edit them on the Internet now. That works for at least 80% of what I do.

And interestingly, I am seeing an uptick in YouTube views because I'm trying to limit video times via the Twitch highlight system to something that's easily digestible. That's one reason I started the Sunday Highlights videos. I intend to keep them at four to six minutes and just give viewers the exciting stuff. Probably 90% of my gaming is just boring because it's all "been there, done that" stuff. That's the nature of games. There is a lot of rinse, lather, repeat involved. We call it grinding. Apropos no? I suppose that means I'm trying to be professional with my YouTube videos... naaaaaaaaah. I'm just trying to be a nice guy and not subject the world to my World of Yawncraft level of gaming expertise.

So if you want to see Mabrick play a game, have a look at my YouTube channel. I really don't mind if you don't watch my Twitch channel...

Oh, wait, I promised to tell you why I'm using Twitch now and not YouTube Live. Simply put, Twitch has made up the video quality ground, which was its biggest detractor a bit over a year ago. Now I can stream full HD at 60 frames per second no sweat. And Twitch has always won the ease of use award. Streaming to Twitch is as easy as CTRL-TAB to get into Xsplit Gamecaster and then click Stream. Even when I was using Open Broadcast Software it was very easy to start a stream: just a couple of keystrokes. YouTube Live was not that way when I evaluated it April of last year, and I don't think it's gotten any easier. It bites. Twitch still has the issue with their apps only giving access to the 300 top streams at any given point in time, but I'm personally not worried about that. As I said, I'm not a professional streamer.

Anyway, I hope this has given a few of you some ideas on why you should use streaming even without a desire to be a professional streamer. If that's your gig go for it, but the rest of us just need the time-saving features online streaming gives us. It's all good in the end. Right? And lastly, thank you Herding Cats for the idea. Cheers!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Good Omaha Battle

I've had three torpedo related missions stuck in my mission queue for over a week. The only ship I have with torpedo capability is the Omaha class cruiser. So I took it out last night for two battles and cleared two of the three torpedo related missions. The last battle of the night was particularly satisfying, though it only had one forth of the torpedo hits as the previous battle. I present it here with commentary, and some personal pointers on how I fight my ship.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Fire! (For real, and it's bad.)

I have not played any World of Warships today, nor am I likely to. It's difficult to get into a gaming mood when you see this out the front window all day.
Canyon City Complex AM
This began as two lightning started fires, but as the winds picked up today it began exhibiting extreme fire behavior and spreading through ground runs and spotting. What's extreme fire behavior you ask? This is extreme fire behavior.

If you look at the distant ridge beyond the two foreground hills, you'll see the fire crowning as it comes over a ridge. Said ridge is about 15 miles from where I sit as the crow flies. This fire is rapidly becoming a monster. It's already forced evacuations and is threatening the small historic city of Canyon City. A few miles south of that is John Day, Oregon: a city of several thousand people. No, it's not been a day to inspire gaming.

However, it has been a photography opportunity. I planned on shooting the Perseid meteor shower as there is no light pollution here. The smoke in the air has made that problematic. So I've been learning Magic Lantern which I recently installed on my Canon EOS 60D. I managed a lovely time-lapse this afternoon. Here is about 30 minutes of fire in about 30 seconds (you may want to click on it to open it in another tab/window.)

The wind has shifted since I took the 311 separate photos which comprise the time-lapse. It is now blowing the fire away from us, not that there was any chance of it actually running 15 miles. But with the wind shift is a predicted uptick in the already brisk winds. They are predicting 30 MPH winds tonight. There is also a fire cloud (think thunderhead) forming over the fire because it is so intense.
Canyon City Complex PM
May whatever providence exists in this universe keep the fire fighters safe tonight, and those whose homes are in harm's way.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Battleships are Hard

I earned enough experience with my Cleveland class cruiser last Saturday to research the Pensacola class cruiser, but I was about a million and a half credits short of being able to purchase one. That didn't bother me in the least. I am not the type to buy my way up the technology tree. I also had a long ways to go yet to get into a New Mexico class battleship, so I've played nothing but battleship games since then.

To say I've struggled to keep my statistics up through these battles is an understatement. Sunday I got absolutely hammered with far more defeats than victories. I think I only had one victory. It more than removed my gains from Saturday. In all battles on Sunday I was the highest tier battleship, or tied for highest tier, and I drew Torpedo bombers like a flower draws bees. In two especially exasperating battles, I barely even got into main battery range before swarms of torpedoes sent me to the bottom. Monday night I at least had a good night, with four victories and a draw. I wasn't always the highest tier battleship, and only half the games had carriers on the opposing side. That's not very fair to the opposition as we usually did have one. Yeah, something seems broken in the match maker system.

So it was with some relief that I read the latest update blog post here today. They are giving match making a much-needed improvement and doing some ship balancing. First, the match maker work over.
Matchmaker: Carrier Equality
The matchmaker is responsible for assembling teams for battle, so it is little wonder that it's a hot topic among players supplying us with feedback. We're continually analyzing the statistical data and are making a new round of adjustments with this update.
For example, one thing we're adjusting is that aircraft carriers will now be distributed symmetrically, both by quantity and by tier.
This is excellent news indeed, especially for lower tier aircraft carrier captains. As much as I hate torpedo bombers, I can imaging that isn't as frustrating as having all your airplanes shot down by an opponent whose own planes are impervious to yours. My opinion is that carriers should be absolutely matched in tier and number, even if they have to wait in the queue a long time. That may be impracticable. There should at least be balance in airplane capabilities.

This is also good news for battleship drivers. Having parity in carriers will keep them occupied with countering one another more than now sometimes happens. I am also hopeful this will mean no more battles where one side gets a carrier full of torpedo bombers and the other gets the torpedoes. The battle on Sunday where I was the sole seeming focus of the torpedo bombers was one such match.
No Carrier for Us
Their four battleships and three Clevelands might have outgunned us without the Zuiho, but it'd have been a close thing. With the Zuiho, they were able to sink two of our battleships before we could even effectively engage their ships. I tried to join up with our Clevelands for AA support before things got going, but I didn't even get there. I was found by the torpedo bombers before I got halfway there. It was completely lopsided.

By the time I'd checked out of the battle, we'd lost two battleships, four cruisers and a destroyer to the loss of one of their destroyers. I won't say the carrier sank all those ships. On reviewing the battle I saw one of our destroyers sank one of our own ships. But the carrier did separate our fleet and make it much easier for his fleet to take us down piecemeal. Had we a carrier of our own, he'd have had to launch and manage fighters and perhaps not be so intent on sinking battleships. I'm certain the battle would have turned out differently even with the fratricide. Hopefully this match making change will ensure good parity in the future. All I want is a fighting chance.

There will also be other ship balancing done, including a much-needed battleship improvement!

Ship Balancing and Other Improvements

Balancing and attribute adjustment are undoubtedly the most important and sensitive subject of any major update. They always provoke a reaction from our players--both positive and negative. These corrections are vital for polishing gameplay. They're a part of the growing process. Below you will find a list highlighting the most important changes - stay tuned for detailed notes in the future!
The precision of any battleship’s primary guns have been considerably increased at a range of up to three kilometers.
The Premium pre-order vessels Sims and Yubari have been improved. The former gets a new set of torpedoes (slower, but with a longer engagement range) and the latter receives a “Defensive Armament” consumable boosting its anti-aircraft capabilities.
Many Japanese and American ships have been rebalanced - detailed information coming soon!
The developers have also improved game client performance (it requires less disk space now), sound, music, the user interface, and some game mechanics – players using a map’s edge to their advantage while turning will now be targeted properly.
Battleship main batteries in World of Warships can be horribly inaccurate. These ships were the end all and be all of naval combat, but a single light cruiser can best them at range in World of Warships. I know, I've done it (and had it done to me.) That's ridiculous unless there is an extreme tier difference between the ships (think Prinz Eugen and HMS Hood.) When you only get to fire every 30 seconds, accuracy can make or break your team. It's one thing to just be bad at leading ships. It's entirely another to bracket a ship with a full salvo and get zero hits.

Here's the thing that really gets me. Naval guns are not artillery. While it is true the Cleveland class cruiser guns are artillery, all battleship main batteries are not. They are guns, and there is a huge deference in design between guns and artillery. Guns shoot relatively flat trajectories, with a very small lateral circular error probable, and a large range probably error. This ensures the rounds do not fly too far to one side or another. If they are a little long, they will still hit the other ship because it has a height. Guns are designed to shoot ships at a distance. Artillery has pretty much equal lateral and range circular error probable. They are designed to blanket an area with shells that then fragment and cover the intervening gaps with hot, jagged metal shards, which we call shrapnel. Not so guns. Guns are designed with the express purpose of penetration and maximum damage to internal structures. What would be even better than this three kilometer accuracy improvement is to have a graduated lateral error probable over distance, with basically point-blank shots being nearly impossible to miss because you're point right at them. You could sight that shot through the damn breech!

I'm not going to comment on the premium ships. I won't buy any until the game is released.

I will say that I am looking forward to see what sort of balancing they have yet to announce. That ought to cause a great gnashing of teeth. :D

And lastly, the edge exploit is finally being addressed. After seeing it denied since open beta began, but having witnessed its use as recently as the last time I played, it is good to see they've finally figured out what was going on. That it seems to involve turning into the border fits exactly what I've seen. I was on an open ocean match and had a destroyer using this exploit (see video above.) Just as I fired he turned into the border and disappeared completely. This was not a use of smoke. He blinked out, my shots landed with a splash, I got no damage pop-ups, and then he reappeared. Not seeing that happen again will be worth the price of admission.

And lastly, I will be leaving on vacation tomorrow for the next two weeks. I will be playing World of Warships while I'm away, but there will be no streaming due to data limits and my posting may be erratic. For the second week I will be at WorldCon in Spokane, WA. I expect I'll be posting pictures from the con as the desire presents itself. Or not. I'm just going to play it loose and drink beer. Until I return, cheers and good hunting!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Highlights #2 - Destroying Destroyers!

They're the bane of the high seas. They pack more fire power than god. No, they are not the mighty battleship. They are the destroyers of World of Warships. While it is true they can't take much damage, they are fast and nimble. When well skippered they are hard as hell to hit. If you should run afoul of their torpedoes, you are done for, no matter the size of your ship. They can reduce a fully healthy battleship to a foundering wreck in less than 10 seconds. I hate them. I can't wait to play them.

Today's Sunday Highlight is all about killing destroyers. Here are the unlucky (or unskilled) destroyer captains who met their maker at my hands. A couple of these captains managed to trade up. Most only managed to have their ship disintegrate beneath them. Though I cursed one, they were all yummy. Enjoy!

As an added bonus to your Sunday viewing pleasure, I also give you this two-fer plus: 3 ships in 3 minutes, the first two of which are destroyers!

Edge games won't save you now! Don't you just love it when they run straight and true? I know I do. Muwhahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fleet Friday - Learning the New York Class Battleship

I'll start with my current statistics because... statistics!

Over the last three weeks I have been making steady progress in my individual game play, but my team game play has suffered. That may be just a turn of fate as the matching system is random, or it could be I need to become a better team player. I suspect it's a little of both. As I progress in ship tiers, some of these statistics are bound to go up (battles fought - derp.) As I've played more battleships of course my average damage will go up providing I don't totally suck. The two stats that makes my observation about my game play seem right are victories per battle (the team play stat) and my kill/death ratio (my individual performance stat.) Here's how that's looked since July 19th. The question is, do I go for individual glory or team play?

I've been alternating between the Cleveland class cruiser and the New York class battleship this entire week. There has been a learning curve, but over the last two days things have been going better. Last night I participated in three victories, a draw and a defeat. The defeat was not because of bad play, but because the team was down a battleship - mine. I had a user interface error. The client would not respond to any key I pressed. I could type in chat, but I couldn't even engage my engines. The mouse would not fire my guns. I have a video of what happened. Anyone else ever see this bug before?

That issue aside, I've managed enough experience fighting the Tier V New York class battleship this week I've been able to completely upgrade it.
Completely Upgraded New York Class Battleship
It makes a difference. With better AA, and more armor, the ship really comes into its own considering its base design is pre-WWI. My statistics, which started off badly, got better once I purchased the B hull. My best score to date with the New York class doesn't come close to my best overall, but it was satisfying nonetheless.
  • Experience 1,490
  • Damage caused 61,141
  • Warships destroyed 2
  • Aircraft destroyed 6
It also helps to have a full load of optional updates. If you've not purchased any, you should. They also make a difference. It may be just the edge you need to get your armor-piercing shells where they're needed. Here's what I've done for my optional upgrades.

The 20% reduction in main turret catastrophe possibilities I took to keep me in the fight. I can't win it I'm not 100% on the main turrets. The reload and traverse upgrade helps with the DPS output quite a bit from what I've noticed. I've surprised more than a couple American destroyers who thought they could make the torpedo run before I could reload and vaporize them. The flooding and fire reduction was just better looking to me than any of the other two options. Again, it was about keeping the ship in the fight.

And let's not forget the commander makes a difference as well. If I'd have been smart I'd have moved my South Carolina commander successively to the Wyoming class and thus to the New York class. At the time, I didn't understand it could be done. I learned of the possibility while I was fighting the Wyoming class. So when I got the New York class I moved my captain to her and paid doubloons for the instant training. Here's what my battleship skipper currently has going for him; including here he's going next.

I'm really coming to appreciate the nuances involved, and the synergy between, the optional upgrades and captain training. It takes a game that could easily be just a random number victory generator, and allows you to weight the dice in your favor and not the house's. When clans come into the game it will be fascinating to see how these options complement their tactics, or don't. I wonder if some clans will dictate ship fits for certain fleets as they do in EVE Online? That might be something to see. So what are the upgrade and captain training combinations you're using to good effect? Leave your thoughts in the comments and as always, battle on.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Stay Together and Win or Die Alone

Evening play sessions have not been very kind to me so far this week. Last night I fought three battles in a New York class battleship without a victory. One game I was the next to last ship standing, and high scorer in a game that was otherwise a completely dismal showing. And having the high score was certainly nothing to crow about. It wasn't even over a thousand points.

The night before last I fought seven battles and all of them were defeats. I was top scorer or number two in four of them. There was only one in which I would say the enemy won the game, rather than my team losing the game. The last game of the evening had so much lag, it was better to charge into the midst of the enemy fleet and die rather than put up with the stuttering of dropped frames and an inability to steer or aim with any precision.

It's odd when your victories to battle percentage goes down, but your kill to death ratio improves. I know it sounds like I'm whining, but that's not why I'm talking about this. I find it interesting that at night I'm having all these defeats, but during lunch I do better. I was able to fight in three battles at lunch yesterday with two victories and one very well fought defeat.

The lunch time crowd frankly seems to be better captains. The fleets talk more. They coordinate. They concentrate their fire. The fleets that do poorly seem to have a lot of solo captains. They scatter in all directions and face opponents singly. That's the fastest way I know to get sunk. Even if the majority of the fleet turns the same direction, the cruisers outpace the battleships, the destroyers are nowhere to be seen, and the same thing happens. We end up facing a combined enemy fleet single or in pairs rather than slow down and stay together.

And that's the point I want to make. There are players who think they can gain glory by being the captain who sinks an enemy ship by themselves before the combined enemy fleet sends them to the bottom. What they really end up doing is depriving their fleet of a valuable asset - another ship. Ships work best when they support each other and are mixed. Destroyers screen. Cruisers counter screen and shoot down torpedo bombers. Battleships blow things up - sorry cruisers. Aircraft carriers do too, right after they scout where the enemy is going and provide combat air patrol to fend off enemy torpedo bombers.

One thing I've hardly ever seen in World of Warships is this:
US Navy photo #: 80-G-470275 Third Fleet Warships En route to the Philippines, circa January 1945. USS Stephen Potter (DD-538) is in the right center, closest to the camera. Aircraft carrier at left is USS Enterprise (CV-6). Photographed from USS New Jersey (BB-62) by Lieutenant Commander Charles Fenno Jacobs, USNR.
This picture was taken from the deck of a battleship. In close proximity we see destroyers and carriers. I'm certain there is a cruiser nearby. Point is, fleets that stay together win, and those that don't die. It's not a hard concept to grasp. I just wish other players understood the concept better.

Perhaps I just wish I'd end up on teams where players did grasp the concept. In the 10 defeats I've mentioned, two of the battles had a division of three Cleveland class cruisers with captains who knew how to use them. They were victorious. They were terrifying. They were awesome. They would concentrate their fire and rain hell down on anything that got too close - and 15 kilometers was too close. Out own torpedo bombers couldn't get close enough to sink them. Kudos to those Cleveland captains. You guys rocked!

Divisioned Clevelands #1
Divisioned Clevelands #2
You know, if I ever land in a battle with a three Cleveland division, and I'm in my Cleveland, I'll be sticking with them. I'll follow their every lead. I'll shoot the ships they shoot. We'll shoot down enemy bombers by the score. And we'll win. Teamwork trumps individual skill every time. That's why lions hunt in a pride. That's why it's a wolf pack, not a wolf single. And sure, tigers and jaguars hunt alone. But they have the jungle for cover. Ever try sailing your ship through a jungle? Seriously though, you will eventually be seen, and if you press on alone against a fleet you will die. And you will die alone.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Highlights #1

If you hadn't noticed, I've been captured by World of Warships. For all that Elite: Dangerous is beautiful, it isn't all that exciting when you're just exploring. New systems are awesome to find, but it doesn't make for much excitement over the long haul. And after six months of mostly trade and exploration, I was ready for some action.

That's where World of Warships excels. Every game is different. They may look the same, but that is only true in the broadest view. Each game unfolds uniquely for those playing. The game has hit a nice balance between team play and individual play. You can't win without the team, and the team can't win if you don't perform. When everyone performs, you win - usually. There are always exceptions. In one of my games late last night I was the second to last ship to go down leaving only our Langley class carrier. They still had two battleships and two carriers. But our team managed to capture all three bases and got to a thousand points before they could take them back or sink the carrier. The game was our victory.

As well as some fantastic play, I've seen some incredible blunders. I've been responsible for some of them. As was pointed out to me this morning, we all start out as noobs. It's interesting to me that you can play two games back to back in the same ship, even on the same map, and in one you suck bilge water while in the other you win the day. And sometimes winning isn't the most exciting adventure. Sometimes just surviving is enough to make the game worth playing again. When you're the last hope, and they can't quite sink you before the game ends. That's exciting too!

In the end, it's the not the kill, but the thrill of the chase that has me logged in for hours. But let's not kid ourselves, the kill is what makes the game. The opportunity to match wits with a human opponent and win. That's what PvP's about. And in honor of that, my first Sunday highlight video shows four of my favorite kills from the past week - and my favorite survival. You won't enjoy watching it more than I enjoyed playing. However, it is instructive and conveys just a bit of the excitement the game provides. Enjoy!