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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Highlights #14: Hatsuharu under the Northern Lights

This week's highlight is a match under the northern lights in which the team thwarted a center push and proceeded to turn the match around to win. It is also an object lesson on what happens when you stop moving. Ships are designed for maneuver. Never forget that fact, or you may be in for an ugly reminder.

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.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fleet Friday: Hatsuharu Exacts Revenge

This week's Fleet Friday is a match I had last night. It was particularly satisfying and I thought I'd share it with you as a vlog.

That done, I've been considering converting my blog to a vlog for some time. I find I enjoy the video editing much more than the blog writing. And as it is the 21st century... Well, let's just let that one go shall we? As a reader of my blog, how would you feel about this? Could I successfully convert you to a Mabrick's Movies vlog subscriber, or get you to peruse my Google+ page and collections? Would you be interested in more talking with interesting video in the background, or do you prefer the staid written word? I don't know the answers to these questions. You do though. Help me out if you would.

What I do know is I enjoy video editing more than just about anything else I do with my game time (except play the games of course.) And YouTube is Free, while this account is expensive. And WordPress keeps changing the editor every damn time I turn around. They keep dumbing it down from my POV, and I end up having to jump many more hoops to do what I want to do. I didn't want an easy platform, I wanted a capable platform and I get less and less for my money with every "great enhancement." I'm almost as sick of it as I am Facebook. If I'm going to be forced to go to an easy posting platform, I'd rather use YouTube and standard Social Media.

And lastly, as I stated in the vlog above, this may be my last post for a couple weeks. RL is hot and heavy this week and it's a real bummer. I'll explain when I get back to posting. However, I will be checking for any comments RE the vlog versus the blog. I'll take them all into consideration, but to be honest with you I am really leaning toward converting to a vlog format. It just seems the modern thing to do. Until I check in again, have a wonderful Thanksgiving - even if you don't celebrate it. And regardless of whether you do or don't, take the time to tell the people you love that you do love them. You never know how long you're going to have with them until you no longer have them. Don't waste a moment. Peace

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Star Wars Wednesday

My first character's career in Star Wars: The Old Republic so far. Rather than bore you with hours of video capture, I've taken two week's worth of screen captures and compressed them into one 3 minute and 41 Second GIF style video. I then set it to  appropriate music so you'd have some excellent tunes to go with it!

This way if a particular image intrigues you, you can just pause it and have a longer look. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sunday Highlights #13: New Horizons

With the latest patch, introduced a new set of missions, challenges and events. New Horizons is the first of the missions being highlighted throughout the month of November. Completion of this mission awards one million credits and a free port slot. To complete it, you have to sink two ships in a random battle using a Tier IV or better ship. Here is how I got mine in the Tier VII Hatsuharu.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fleet Friday: Frustration

I've been playing World of Warships regularly since open beta began July 2nd, and by regularly I mean up to six days a week for two to ten hours a day. I have progressed to Tier VII in both U.S. cruisers and battleships, as well as Japanese destroyers. I have already researched the New OrlĂ©ans class Tier VIII U.S. cruiser, but am holding off on the purchase until I have more credits and enough experience to fully upgrade it once purchased. I, like many others, hate sailing stock ships and I'm fortunate enough to have the wherewithal to convert XP to Free XP.

But I am frustrated. Though my Victories/Battles rating is up to virtually 48% (47.94% actual,) which is the highest it's ever been, I find I am too often on the losing side because of terrible game play by team mates. And I'm not talking about the inexperienced player who over extends and gets catches fire from half of the enemy team as the reward (and thus vaporizes.) It is not bad game play to be over eager. Or the captain who went left, when hindsight showed he should have gone right. That's just fate.

No, it's the players who refuse to place their ship in harm's way to accomplish the goal, which is to win. They sail to the edge of the map and refuse to assist the team because their expensive Tier IX battleship might get sank. I was in one such game, where we had twice as many ships left as the other team, and we lost to capture because the MFAs wouldn't close with the destroyers and cruisers that were left, and the one destroyer left on our side (me,) and the one cruiser couldn't get it done alone.

And I'm frustrated with a game where I am the primary target of the battleships just because they can so easily destroy my cruiser. Battleships were invented to fight other battleships. There is something fundamentally broken in a game where battleships kill the cruisers to allow their torpedo laden destroyers to kill the enemy battleships. There is just no incentive to get battleships to fight battleships rather than picking off the easy kills and then just trying surviving until the end of the game by running to the edges. I know you've all seen this...

And then there is the grind. I've been in a Pensacola and Colorado for so long I can't remember what it was like in anything else. Neither ship is sucks, bit neither ship is awesome either. If I play well, I get middling credits and experience, and that's not very encouraging. It means it takes a long time to progress into better ships. And when it comes to the U.S. cruiser line, that might not even be true. I hear and read things which lead me to believe it's no Shangri La.

I'm becoming resentful of the amount of time I have to put into the game to progress.

So I've decided to ease back on the amount of time I play World of Warships. I am going to restrict it to Wednesday and Thursday nights. It'll cut me back to four to six hours total play time a week, and progression will come when progression comes. I'm done racing to the next bigger, badder ship. The time I free up will be spent on other games.

But I am not quitting World of Warships. Not at all. There are moments when I am thrilled. Last night I had a really good game in my Hatsuharu, and a good game in my Colorado, so I stopped on the winners high. The Hatsuharu game will likely be my highlight on Sunday (yes, I will still be doing those.They're fun!) I got a special reward for that victory. I got my first one of these:

This is the one of the new missions introduced in the last update. It must have been selected automatically for me as I didn't even know it was active until I got it. And what a nice reward. I got one million credits and a free ship slot! As you can see in the first screen capture, at my level of play that reward equaled four really good games. That definitely helps with the grind frustration.

The other thing that would help is clan games. It is my hope that Wargaming gets this out for Christmas, because I really, really want to belong to a group of dedicated semi-casual players who want to play the game to win, not just to survive and grind. I want some assurances that every ship, no matter its class, will perform its assigned role for the sake of the team. It is not too much to ask.

"So what will I play instead," you wonder? Good question. You should already know I am playing Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR.) I'm having a blast, but it's not a game I'm going to do a lot of blog posting about. What am I going to say? Hey, I completed this quest that 100,000 other people have already completed? I don't think so. Until I get to the Knights of the Fallen Empire content in a few weeks (my smuggler is already 32nd level and going up fast,) I'll spare you the soporific recounting of my exploits there.

But as I'm on that subject, I did settle on a new name for my character. You remember from my initial and only post last week, I was unsatisfied with the name I'd picked, especially after learning of the legacy surname system that would tag all my characters Mabrick. Well, I settled on the name Caius. It's a true smuggler name. I'm quite pleased with it. Who out there can tell me the significance of that name?

But SWTOR isn't the only game I've decided to play leading up to the holidays. And because of what I've chosen, I'll be adding a new sort of post to my Friday lineup titled Faust Friday. Is that clue sufficient to give it away? No, I'm not referencing a German protagonist with that title, though the word is German. Here, let me give you a more direct clue.

Any questions?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie

And now we get to the end of the Imperial Radch trilogy. Anne Leckie made quite a splash when Ancillary Justice, the first book of the trilogy, was published October of 2013. I did not write a review of that book. I started posting reviews only last year. But on my Goodreads page I did give it five stars. It was quite a good book, with a strong protagonist and more than a few emotion evoking moments within its pages. It was a tour de force; winning the Arthur C. Clark, Hugo and Nebula awards. I did write a review of book two, Ancillary Sword, last year. You can read it here. In that review I had this to say about Ancillary Sword,

And when you get to Ancillary Sword, don’t expect it to be another Ancillary Justice which won a total of five major awards and several more minor awards. It is not. Ancillary Sward is well written, but it is not nearly as engrossing as that first story was engrossing.

Ancillary Mercy is no different from Ancillary Sword in that regard. But before I launch into the thing I object to most about this book, here is the publisher's summary for the sake of getting us all humming the same tune,

The stunning conclusion to the trilogy that began with the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke award-winning Ancillary Justice.
For a moment, things seem to be under control for the soldier known as Breq. Then a search of Atheok Station's slums turns up someone who shouldn't exist - someone who might be an ancillary from a ship that's been hiding beyond the empire's reach for three thousand years. Meanwhile, a messenger from the alien and mysterious Presger empire arrives, as does Breq's enemy, the divided and quite possibly insane Anaander Mianaai - ruler of an empire at war with itself. 
Anaander is heavily armed and extremely unhappy with Breq. She could take her ship and crew and flee, but that would leave everyone at Athoek in terrible danger. Breq has a desperate plan. The odds aren't good, but that's never stopped her before.

The emphasis is not mine. It's the publishers. And to be quite honest, it is a load of bull. There was nothing stunning about the end of this trilogy. What started with such a bang ended with little more than a whimper. It was disappointing. 

Does that mean I regret reading it? No, I do not. Book three was necessary to make me understand that these three books are not the trilogy Ancillary Justice should have inspired. These three books are only two-thirds of the trilogy that should have been written. 

Look, I could go into spoiler territory and tell you how the "someone who shouldn't exist" was a wasted character that had practically no impact on the outcome of the story. I could talk about all the "conflicts" that ended up being no conflict at all really. They just sizzled when they should have gone boom. But that's not what's got me so dissatisfied. 

My dissatisfaction stems from this third book, the climax of the trilogy, Breq's Return of the King moment, being nothing more than the second half of Ancillary Sword. It picks up days after that book ends, and is the logical continuation of the events which began on Atheok Station in Ancillary Sword. I've been robbed! 

When I bought Ancillary Mercy, I was afraid this was going to happen. I was once before very disappointed in a trilogy that started our strong and ended weakly. That was the Eden series by Harry Harrison. West of Eden, published in 1984, was an incredible book, full of interesting characters and interesting ideas. The follow on novels in the trilogy got progressively shorter and progressively less inspiring. The last book felt rushed, and nothing more than a contract fulfilled. It certainly didn't fulfill me the reader. 

Ancillary Mercy has left me with the exact same feeling. It too is the shortest of the three books at 336 pages paperback (Ancillary Justice 386 pages paperback; Ancillary Sword 356 pages paperback.) It's not badly written. Quite the opposite in fact. And the characters are just as good as before, many of them being the same. It's just not a good end to this trilogy. It would have been a great end to Ancillary Sword though. In fact, it would have been a better ending than the one we got in my opinion, but now at least I know why Ancillary Sword ended so openly without any real closures. 

Regardless, I recommend you read Ancillary Mercy. Don't spite your face because you don't like your nose. It'll at least answer a few unanswered questions from Ancillary Sword. And it does end the trilogy, and that's frankly tragic. I think the third book could have been better than Ancillary Justice. However, explaining that will require a lot of spoiler, and I don't like doing that to people. If you want to know what I think should have been the third book, click on the break below to see the rest of this review.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sunday Highlights #12: Strait Up

The map Strait in World of Warships is definitely a love-hate relationship as far as I'm concerned, but that doesn't mean I haven't had some successes on it. Battleship, cruisers and destroyer, here is some of the love. It all comes down to teamwork, and not a little luck at times, but it's always exciting!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fleet Friday: The Hatsuharu Class Destroyer

None of the six Hatsuharu class destroyers survived World War II, though the Hatsushimo made it to July 30, 1945 - the last Japanese destroyer lost in the war. The class of destroyers were designed according to the limits of the 1930 London Naval Treaty, and this lead to more than a few compromises in how they were engineered. Most notably, the ships were top-heavy, and the counter weighting designed into their hulls insufficient to counteract the momentum of the armaments installed on deck when the ship rolled. Capsizing in heavy seas was a very real threat to these destroyers. This was not just a problem for the Hatsuharu class. The previous Fubuki class (yes, in RL the Fubuki class came before the Hatsuharu class destroyers) had the same issue as did many other ship classes of the IJN including the Mogami class cruisers. Correcting the flawed designs required a refit of all affected classes, reducing their superstructure and increasing their metacentric height.
WoWS Hatsuharu Class Destroyer
In World of Warships, the Hatsuharu comes with two triple torpedo launchers capable of firing 610 millimeter torpedoes stock. These are the famous Long Lance torpedo having a range of 10 kilometers. They travel at 58 knots and pack a battleship busting punch. There is one upgrade which gives almost a 1000 point damage boost and increases the speed of the torpedoes by three knots. The downside is the upgrade reduces the firing rate from 0.8 launches a minute to 0.7 launches. As the launch rate is already slower than a battleship, I do not think the extra damage and speed so worthwhile. And the upgrade is expensive. I'd rather save those experience points for researching the Fubuki class destroyer.

There is also a fire control upgrade, but even though the Hatsuharu has twice as many guns as the Mutsuki has, they are still easily disabled and not something worth spending experience on. Save your experience to get into the Fubuki more quickly. Here is a quick video of my case in point.

It took that Nicholas (?) class U.S. destroyer a minute to knock out both my turrets - permanently. However, if you really must spend the XP, the increased gun range does give you an opportunity to invisi-fire from a very narrow range band. But if you really want become a master at that art, you should investigate the Russian line of destroyers. They are far better at it.

The one ship upgrade that is worth spending experience on, and in fact you must in order to research the Fubuki, is the type B hull. This upgrade gives you a decent hit point upgrade and increases your AA capability to where self-defense is a possibility. You won't be able to cover other ships, but you should be able to cover yourself adequately enough to avoid some really tragic ends. As for game play, this ship plays exactly like a fully upgraded Mutsuki. It has the same detection range and nearly the same speed. I've played seven matches with it so far, with about the same success rate as with the Mutsuki. I've just not found the right risk versus reward balance with this type of ship yet. It brawls badly with other destroyers. Cruisers eat it for lunch with marmalade. And most of the battleships at its tier and higher can avoid all but one (or all) of the torpedoes in its anemic six torpedo spread. Case in point, I fired a spread of six last night at an Iowa on the new Islands of Ice map. I was not detected. When the Iowa got the torpedo alert, it easily turned and avoided my spread by executing a 90 degree course change between when the alarms sounded and this screen capture was taken. Even if I hadn't overlapped them, the Iowa would have still avoided most of them. See for yourself.
Iowa Dodging Torpedoes Easily 
Would the three knots increased speed of the upgraded torpedoes have made a difference? With increased speed comes increased detection range, so likely not. It's because of this I'm more a nuisance to battleships than a danger. It takes seven to nine torpedoes to sink my Colorado. If I can only land one or two torpedoes at a time, and then have to wait over a minute to fire more, why am I wasting my time? More torpedoes in a spread (as the higher tier destroyers have) will help, but I don't think solve, this issue.

I think at this point I've fought enough destroyer matches to be able to say definitively the torpedo mechanic in World of Warships needs a tweak. I don't think I am bad at lining up torpedo spreads. And I certainly spam torpedoes (fire them into channels where I think a ship might go though I've detected no ship going there.) Yet my torpedo hit ratio is only 6%. So much for destroyers being the killers of all things. This may have been true pre-Minekaze nerf, but I don't think it's true now. That said, I don't feel we need to go back to the way that old Minekaze was; not even a little. What I do think is that ships without active hydro-acoustic support get far too much notice of incoming torpedoes.

Here's the way I think torpedo detection should work. If a ship has the hydro-acoustic upgrade, and it is active, it should have a torpedo detection range equitable to a spotter aircraft - so between 3.5 and 7 kilometers, adjusted for game balance. Any other ship within that detection range will "see" incoming torpedoes at that ship's detection range automatically. If there is no active hydro-acoustic searches ongoing, fleet ships will have to rely on visual sightings of the torpedo wakes. The wake difference between a 50 knot torpedo and a 60 knot torpedo is minimal. There is no reason it should be easier to spot a faster torpedo. The other variables, like someone actually looking in that direction and the choppiness of the ocean, far outweigh the wake size variable IMO. It's just not easy to spot things on the vast, wide ocean which is small and a kilometer away. I know. I live in a state with a lot of coastline. Go try it yourself. If it were easy, search and rescue would be a breeze. So I feel all visual torpedo detection should be the same for all ships, and that range should be the minimum detection range of any torpedo currently in-game, which I believe is 0.7 kilometers unless the ship has a spotter aircraft up and it passes directly over the torpedoes and within a very small distance, like 0.3 kilometers. That gives a ship around 5 or 6 seconds to react. That should be all they get if no one in their vicinity is actively listening for torpedoes with hydro-acoustics or their spotter aircraft lucked out.

Currently I know of no one who advocates for the hydro-acoustic upgrade over the AA defensive fire upgrade primarily because airplane delivered torpedoes are so much more effective than destroyer delivered torpedoes. Making this tweak to the game would make the hydro-acoustic upgrade very important, and furthermore would make cruiser captains have to make a very hard choice between two much-needed upgrades. It would also serve to make playing destroyers more fun. There will always be a chance that no one is running a hydro-acoustic search when your torpedoes arrive. It'll be like winning the lottery, and will make maps where ambushes are impossible (Ocean *cough, cough*) a better experience.

So, do you agree or disagree? What do you think could be done to make higher tier destroyer play more than just spot and capture? Let me know in the comments, and until we meet on the ocean sail carefully.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

May The Force Be With Us

Earlier this year I unsubscribed from The Elder Scrolls Online. It was a fun and challenging MMO. But after a year it was time to move onto other games, namely Elite: Dangerous and World of Warships. And I'm still playing those games, but the newness has worn off and I'm not playing them as often. In fact, with World of Warships there has been a steady influx of the same trolls that plaque World of Tanks, and that has taken some of the fun out of it for sure. I'll still play it, but I am limiting myself to two nights a week, and even at that I might cut it off early as I did last night. I just wish I could turn off the stupid chat window at times, but that's not what this post is about.

This post is about something I've been resisting for a long time, well two years actually but that is a long time in most instances. It all started after I left Eve Online and started looking for another MMO to try. I eventually settled on The Elder Scrolls Online. But there were two others recommended to my by readers and I seriously considered both. However, I decided to wait for Elite: Dangerous to scratch my sci-fi itch, and so it did. But life is change, and I found the itch reasserting itself because though Elite: Dangerous is grand and beautiful, you can't get out of your spaceship. :/

That brought me back to thinking about the other two MMO options. Those are, of course, Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) and Star Trek Online (STO.) Between the two, we all know which is getting all the hype at he moment. I am as vulnerable to that hype as the next person who stood in line for HOURS (unheard of at the time) to see Star Wars the day it released. And to this day the MMO I've had the most fun in hands down was Star Wars Galaxies (pre-nerf.) And then Jingles on Monday's mingle had to go on and on and on about playing Knights of the Fallen Empire all weekend long.

Well, I just couldn't take it. He just kept going on and on about how good the story line in Knights of the Fallen Empire is, and it reminded my so much of Dragon Age (a game I thoroughly enjoyed) that... well... this happened.


Am I enjoying it you wonder? Well, I created the account, subscribed (so I could get into Knights,) and started a new first level character to learn the game (because I wasn't going to just dive right in with a 60th level anything in a game I've never played) and now I'm at 13th level. And all I've done is follow the smuggler's primary story line to here:

Smuggler Prologue

I don't like my name. Mabrick by itself was already taken so I resorted to a sort of Mabrick with a number suffix system I've used before. For some reason it just doesn't "look good" in the fonts they use in-game. It's a personal preference for sure, but I have to look at it all the time and it's gotten to be annoying. Fortunately I get a free character rename and that will solve the issue - mostly. I still need to be me in the game though and I've always had a Mabrick in there somewhere. Fortunately the tutorial system taught me about the legacy system when I got to the level where that feature became applicable.

And as an aside, I really do like how the tutorial system works. It feeds you game knowledge a little at a time as you need it. The first time you encounter an enemy for instance it will give you the option of running the tutorial. A glowing, pulsating question mark appears in the lower half center of your screen and persists until you click on it. If you feel you need help, you can do that and read one to several screens of information with illustrations if necessary. Or, if you've already figured out how to blast away with your blaster you can just ignore it. It's not forced and the pulsing question mark is not all that annoying (though it is a little) and out of the way so it doesn't interfere with the user interface. If you run through a whole series of events that trigger a tutorial, they will simply queue up for review later. It's informative ans unobtrusive and that's worth gold.

But back to the name issue and the legacy system. SWTOR has eight different character classes and you can play all of the story lines for all eight, though depending on if you're subscription or free-to-play you may have to purchase slots. I'm not sure about that; SWTOR noob here. But it's a really nice feature. And what's more, all of your characters are related through the Legacy System. If I've got it right (still a noob,) you pick a surname and all your characters share that surname. And in a really clever trick, if your first characters become really famous and skilled, your subsequent characters will receive certain bonuses and skills themselves because of their elder relative's exploits. But don't think of this like a traditional biological family. That's be silly as you can play many races in SWTOR. No, this is more like a household where not everyone need be related. Like in the Ancillary trilogy by Anne Leckie. So I'll chose an appropriate Mabrick inspired surname, and change the name of my current character.

So what else do I like about SWTOR. I like the story line. It's been fun. It hasn't been terribly difficult mind you, it's just been fun. Like in Dragon Age, you get to select your answers and those answers have a direct bearing on how events unfold and what the various NPCs think of you. Also like Dragon Age, SWTOR has a companion system. Your actions matter to the story and that is one of the things I really enjoyed in Dragon Age. I am enjoying it in SWTOR just as much, and when I do get to Knights of the Fallen Empire, I think I will like it even more as Bioware's evidently kicked it up a notch.

Something else I quite enjoyed, and lost an hour of sleep to last night, :D is the Flashpoint mission. I'm not really sure how to explain Flashpoints. I suppose I'll start by telling you how I got into my first one. As part of the story line, I had to go here:


You see, this scoundrel stole my ship and fled here with it, and I aim to get it back. When I arrived at the star port to hop a shuttle to Coruscant, I was given a choice. I could take the ordinary every person shuttle, or I could take the rebel VIP shuttle. Of course I took the VIP shuttle. It was a free ticket and I know a free first class upgrade when I see one. Everything seemed fine until Empire forces attacked the ship in search of an "ambassador" of whose activities they did not approve. That launched me into a whole series of sub-missions to secure the ship, board the Imperial Star Destroyer that had us in a tractor beam, disable the beam, kill a Sith apprentice and rescue the ambassador. Just that Flashpoint took me from 10th level to 13th. And it was hella fun to boot! The body count after that one was easily over a hundred. :)

There are so many other things I could write about from just my few hours of playing SWTOR. But this post is already over 1200 words, and I try to keep them around 1000. I know we've all got day jobs... well some people don't but their the exception to the rule now aren't they? So I'll just wrap this up by throwing something to all of you. Have you played SWTOR? What should I look to be doing in it? What did you find most fun? Leave me a comment and let me know. I've lots of reading to do on just how the game works, so any advice you give about goals and aspirations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks if advance, and, because I must, may the force be with you!