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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!

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