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Monday, February 29, 2016

Monday Mumbles: An Open Letter to Millennial Gamers

I need your opinion. I have to know if it's just my cynical nature, or are my feelings on a certain matter spot on? Let's see if I can make how I'm feeling a little more clear. When it comes to making bouillon from my emotions the broth is always a bit cloudy. How's that for an odd metaphor? Anyone get it? Never mind, let's push on. I need to go back to my youth so please stay with me.

I started gaming when I was a teenager back in the late 70s. Wait, that's not right. I started gaming in the mid 70s but it was all tabletop stuff like Dungeons and Dragons. I didn't start with the video games until I was in high school and actually had a little money from time to time. See, back then you didn't play if you didn't have a quarter. Understand? But fortunately that all changed quickly in the early 80s. It started on a teletype terminal in the high school library, and then it was a TRS 80 in the math teacher's room. At university the computer club had the Apple II and Apple IIe computers to play on WITH COLOR MONITORS. O.O And so on and so forth. I've told you all this before. I really don't need to repeat it. Let's just say I've been gaming a really long time. Longer than millennials have been alive. I know. I sired one in 89.

Now, before the birth of my millennial in 89, most of society looked at my favorite hobby as weird if not outright psychologically corrupt. Before the millennials came of age, the first true video game generation, nerd and geek were super derogatory. It's the sort of thing the bullies called you as they kicked the shit out of you after school. Now, I was on the football team so that never personally happened to me, but I've had to throw myself into fights where one of my geeky nerd friends were about to get the shit kicked out of them. In the high school I was in, that was a real concern from some of the other inmates. Of course I never felt like an inmate. I love learning. It's how I got my full ride "scholarship." But those who called us names and beat us up were inmates. They didn't want to be there any more than a felon wants to be in club fed.

So there I was, the constant outsider in society where I didn't really fit in with the beer swilling football watching Cro-Magnons. I was a beer swilling game playing different minority species never fully accepted and always suspected. I had a small group of people who understood me, and I them, but otherwise we felt pretty damn ostracised. Hell, I remember in the early 90s the commander of 2nd Armored Division (Forward) signed an order forbidding the playing of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons in any Army facility run by 2nd Armored Division because it could lead to bad things, like murder. Seriously. He thought the game would unhinge young soldiers and dependants and cause them to become homicidal maniacs. That's how people viewed gamers when I was the age millennials are now.

That all changed with our children though. eSport is a thing today. People make a living gaming whether it's tournament play or YouTube. Gaming can even get you into college. Nerd and geek are proudly worn, and correct me if I'm wrong, but kids aren't beaten up at school for being nerdy or geeky nearly as often as when I was young. Of course the nerds can get guns and shoot the bullies, but that's a different social issue and not part of this mumble. My point is, gaming and gamers are more accepted in today's society than ever before. It's no longer the stigma it used to be, especially with the millennials. DFTBA and all that!

You'd think that I'd be in paradise now, wouldn't you? The fact of the matter is, I feel just as ostracised now as ever before. Those of my age who used to look down at me for not watching sports, and preferring a good League of Legends tournament instead, still look down their noses at me and consider me weird - though I must say they no longer consider me psychologically suspect. I'm still a weirdo to them with a very small group of like minded people my own age who like doing the things I do.

"But what about all those millennials out there who have embraced doing what you love to do Mabrick?" Are you kidding? The vast majority of them look at me like I'm their old man, because I AM their old man... in age at least. They don't want to hang around with me or associate with me. I'm like their parent's friends, those people who millennials had to be nice to on football Sundays and thought of them as weird. I know how tough that sort of scorn can be. I WENT TO SCHOOL WITH THOSE ASSHATS. Many of them were the same bullies who would rather kick the shit out of a nerd like me than talk to me. So millennials go out of their way not to socialize with their parent's generation. Even if we're gamers too. And I notice this. A lot.

Now here comes the whine. I went and saw Deadpool yesterday. (It rocked! Highly recommend.) But I saw in that theater a dichotomy between my generation and the millennials. They were not mixing. Not even a little. It was a Sunday matinee so not even half the seats were taken and the two ages just wouldn't sit near each other. I of course blame the millennials for that because the older people like me all got there early. Seriously. We did. 

I've also read lots of things about this Deadpool movie too. How it's a millennial thing. How all the actors are millennials and they just "so get the millennials." It's such a "big hit with the millennials." How the movie captures a part of the millennial psyche that us older people just don't understand.

Because no parent has ever understood what their kid goes through and how hard life is. Right. If you're a parent with a kid of a certain age you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

But guess what millennials, Deadpool first made his appearance in 1991. Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza are MY generation. They're Gen X. They invented Deadpool. It's a product from my sort of childhood angst, not yours. It captures what I felt while growing up the ostracised "other." It speaks to my thoughts on how society didn't understand me and made me feel less for it when all I wanted was to be accepted.

And this informs me about gamers in an odd and perhaps convoluted way. We are not so different as you think Mister and Misses Millennial - us Gen X types and you. At least not us oldsters who called ourselves nerd or geek back when it'd get you a wedgie for sure and possibly a loose tooth. Back before the Internet, and Smartphones, and YouTube, and Grand Theft Auto. So the next time you run into a gamer whose just a little too old to be what you think of as a gamer, just remember who really brought about the gaming revolution, and gave you Deadpool too. It was us - Gen X - and we're not too old to game. Get to know us a little. You'd be surprised how cool we can be. And don't even think what I know you just thought about the word I just used. Gaming is cool. It's not dope. It's not hype. It's cool. But I'm okay with those other words too, if you are with mine. Get it champs?

To the Gen X gamers reading this, does this make any sense? Am I totally off my rocker, or do you have similar feelings? I'm curious to know, so leave me a comment if you would. Thank you.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Highlight #26: In Your Face Nagato

The Tirpitz in World of Warships is a brawler. Don't ever forget it, or you too may suffer the fate of this Nagato.

Friday, February 26, 2016

XCOM 2: Ambush then Ambushed

There is one thing you can always count on in XCOM 2: the aliens will send reinforcements. Sometimes this can be a real problem. Especially when they land in a tactically sound position, or I can't get my team under cover and in overwatch. Then there are those occasions where they land in the worst possible LZ imaginable and my team is already undercover with clear lines of sight into the LZ. This is one such instance. Practically every member of my team could fire on the reinforcements as they came down their ropes, and they paid for their mistake.

But that was not the end of the mission. There was still a group of aliens I needed to eliminate, and I had no idea where they were. I thought they would be on the other side of the objective, but that was not the case as my sniper discovered while she moved forward to a covering position. Why the aliens didn't react as the reinforcements had when my team accomplished the objective I don't know. Fortunately my entire team were seasoned professionals and knew what to do. See how it turned out for yourself.

So, how did the voice-over sound? I became the proud parent of an upper respiratory infection last weekend and was afraid my voice wasn't up to the task. Personally I think I sound better stuffed to the rafters. I had to boost the gain though. It was originally very soft spoken, but I like the end result. Do you? If so, I'll try and replicate it when I'm not full of mucus.

Next, I apologize for not posting on Wednesday. The reason was I tried to work this week. I took Monday off, and thought I was over this bug by the evening. Tuesday was all day training about 75 miles north of the house but it was not very physically demanding. Still, I went straight to bed when I got home (Tuesdays I have dinner up there before driving home because terrible traffic,) watched two episodes of M.A.S.H. (Goodbye Radar #1 and #2,) and then went to sleep. It was fitful. Wednesday I had to go 110 miles north and bring up a T1 data circuit and install a VoIP integrated paging system in a new two-story location. That was a big mistake. I was totally exhausted when I got home. I ate dinner and went straight to bed; slept for 9 hours, and stupidly dragged myself to work Thursday morning for a conference call. You know, because I'm tough. Can you say "relapse." A few co-workers kindly chastised my for being an idiot and recommended I remove myself, and my virus, from their presence. I reminded them I got said virus from other co-workers, but they were not all that sympathetic to that line of counter argument. So I went home at lunch and spent the rest of the day in bed. Today I am somewhat better, at least well enough so I can write this post. Drugs are great. So there you have my personal week in a paragraph, and a dandy excuse for why I missed Wednesday's post.

And lastly, I just want to point this out:

The voice cast for this remake is simply awesome! Here, you have to listen to how they feel about it in their own words. You WILL know these actors and actresses. I'd buy it just because of the cast, not just because the game play is awesome. ;-)

If you don't know this game, wait a few months to see something totally awesome published. If you do know this game, then follow this link to help it become even more awesome:

And that's it. This slightly scatterbrained post brought to you by foreign DNA co-opting my cells for an orgy. I hope you are doing much better than I at the moment, though this too shall pass. Take care and come back for my next Sunday Highlight, In Your Face Nagato, in a couple days.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Highlight #26: Tirpitz Takes Point

The Tirpitz is a fast battleship, and that can mean the difference in not only remaining afloat, but in winning the game after your team falls behind! Watch as I show you how.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fleet Friday: World of Warships Patch 0.5.3

The latest patch for World of Warships has a long list of new, enhanced and corrected features. You can see a list of them all on the official web site, or watch the video while Dasha Perova tells you all about them.

To be certain, the single biggest addition to the game in this patch are Team Battles. I've not personally participated yet. I've only been exploring the new commander skills made available. So I will be writing mostly about those on this post. Specifically, I am going to discuss my new builds for both my Kiev and Fubuki destroyer.

But before I get into that, I just want to say it's nice to see some new achievements added to the game. I've already been a recipient of several new awards in the nine games I've played since the patch. Four were granted retroactively (I think.)

  1. Initial Capital - Earn 100,000 credits
  2. Money Bags - Earn 1,000,000 credits
  3. Junior Naval Designer - Research a New Ship
  4. Naval Constructor - Research 10 Ships

The first I earned was Naval Warfare Tactics, which you get for actually knowing how to play the game... er, I mean for capturing an enemy base or capture point.

I don't think this changes how much experience one gets for capturing, it's just a recognition if the importance of accomplishing the mission. I expect to get quite a few of these as I'd rather claim victory than sink the most ships on a losing team - though sinking ships also has it's own set of new achievements.

But what I really want to talk about are the changes to my two current favorites: the Kiev and the Fubuki. I've been playing them exclusively for the past two weeks and have been having a lot more fun and less frustration. So what's changed? Well, a lot.

The Last Stand skill, which allows a ship to make way and maneuver when the engine is incapacitated, was move to skill level 2 from level 4. This is a god send for aspiring destroyer captains. It takes until about Tier VII to get the skill at level 4. Now even starting captains will have it if they upgrade to a 3 skill point captain when they start a new destroyer tree. That's huge!

It was replace at level 4 with Survivability Expert. This skill increases the maximum hit points of a ship 400 points per tier of the ship. In other words, a Tier VIII Fubuki gets an additional 3200 hit points. This doesn't make a big difference on a battleship, but its literally life or death to a destroyer.

However, the Fubuki is not the ship I'm interested in applying this too, though I did. The ship I see benefiting from this most is the Kiev. They nerfed the hit points on the Kiev hard last patch. They took 3000 away, and gave it fewer than the Ognevoy. That hurt. But now you can get 2800 of them back, and you can bet your ass that's the first thing I did. Now my Kiev has 15,600 HP and I'm loving it. Just last night I was chasing an Kongo and harassing the hell out of it. It was a blast for both of us though I'm certain I enjoyed mine more. ;-) Here's my current Kiev captain.

I was two skill points short of getting the skill and keeping all the others I had before. I had to accept a nerf to my guns. However, I am about three games away from getting Advanced Firing Training back. For now I'm just having to consider where my guns are currently pointed and plan appropriately. I've not really noticed the decrease in firing rate from losing Basic Firing Training. If you're playing your Kiev correctly that's a beat-them-to-the-kill skill IMO. Tactically the skill has little effect as once I've got you in my sights you're still going to die.

The other skill I am very interested in is Torpedo Acceleration. This give your torpedoes a 5 knot increase in speed with a penalty of -20% range.  Before a 62 knot torpedo would cover a kilometer in 31.35 seconds. With Torpedo Acceleration that goes down to 29 seconds. It's only a bit over two seconds faster, but that's two seconds less reaction time for your adversary.

But to me that's not the most important reason for taking this skill. It gives me a really good reason to spend the experience and money on the Fubuki's 15 kilometer torpedoes. I'd not had a compelling reason to believe the expense had a tangible payout before. The 15 kilometer torpedoes had a 5 knot speed penalty and I wasn't convinced the spread at 15 kilometers was narrow enough to be a real threat. I was content to use the 10 kilometer torpedoes with the narrower spread and faster speed. Now I have no speed penalty while getting two extra kilometers with which to play. I can cover beyond the far edge of most capture points without having to enter it and give my presence, if not my precise location, away. And right now lower tier players who've never run into a Shimakaze aren't thinking about torpedoes beyond 10 kilometers all that much. If I have anything to do about it they soon will be. :D Here's my Fubuki captain's skill build incorporating the recent changes.

I'm going to have a real dilemma when I get another skill point. I've two extra right now that I've parked on level 1 Secondary Armament and Ship Survivability. With one more I could take those two, and one of the level 2 skills, and get Concealment Expert. So, how do I choose? Make an already long torpedo reload even longer, or run the risk of having my engine knocked out at a crucial moment in the game? It'd be easy to say with better concealment I wouldn't get my engine knocked out, but that would be stupid. I'm not that good, and even if I was we all know shit happens. You're opponent can always out play you on a bad day. I think I'd take the longer reload, but getting two more points at that level will make for a long wait and should I push forward to the Shimakaze it might actually hurt my future game play. Yeah, I know: first world problems. 

Lastly I want to thank the developers with all my heart for adding the following.

"Once you leave a battle, the state of your armament panel will be saved, including:

  • The last selected type of shell
  • Torpedo cone width and the condition of AA guns/secondary armament (on or off)
  • For aircraft carriers, only the condition of AA guns/secondary armament (on or off) is saved"
Hallelujah! I owe you folks a beer! And that's it for this edition of Fleet Friday. Stay safe and see you all on the high seas.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Xcom 2 Too!

As I mentioned on Friday, I was going to spend most of my weekend gaming time playing XCOM 2. The truth is I spend ALL of my gaming time this past weekend with XCOM 2. How can such a devilishly difficult game on multiple levels be so addictive? Even with the few graphical glitches I've encountered, I can't seem to not play it.

Well, at least until Obsidian started giving gold away for playing Armored Warfare each night this week. And of course the latest World of Warships patch landed today, the one with the captain skills revamp for which I've been waiting. Gah, what's a gamer to do!?

But hey, I wanted this post to be about XCOM 2, so that's what I'm going to stick to. Mostly. Probably. Hehe. So, I managed 15 hours from Friday night through about 4 PM on Sunday. I had some things what needed done Saturday and I had a dinner to cook on Sunday. So I did five hours each day. How anyone could do 30 hours in a weekend as happened release weekend is beyond me. Seriously, if you did I implore you to get a life haha.

I found five hours was just about the most I could deal with in a sitting, because it's a solid straight five hours. No snacks. No breaks. Just mission after mission interspersed with research and building things.

So what have I learned in those 14 hours? First, grenades are your friend at lower levels. They are a guaranteed three points of damage and can hit multiple opponents if you manage to catch them group together. Grenades also do extra damage if your enemy is not on ground floor and you use them inside a building. Grenades demolish walls and any floors under alien feet causing them to take fall damage. My highest achievement on Steam, as in the achievement I've gained with the lowest percentage of XCOM 2 players also gaining, is the Have a Nice Trip achievement.

If you can also set a fire with that grenade and the aliens fall into it that's a grand slam!

I've also learned the RNG god is not as bad as many people have overstated. Yes, your soldiers will miss shots. So will the aliens. But a smart player won't take a bad shot unless there is no reason not to, as in it won't hurt the squad or endanger the mission. It's a free action in other words, which are precious rare in XCOM 2 so highly unlikely. Instead of taking that 33% success shot because the alien is behind full cover, use a grenade to reduce the cover to rubble and do a little damage. Hehe, there's that all powerful grenade play again. I told you they were your friend. Anyway, once the cover is removed your 33% shot will become an 85% shot, or something much better at least. Maximize your hit percent by good positioning and cover removal. Like I said, play smart. You don't have to give orders to your team in the order the game gives you.

Next, the tactics I learned as a real soldier translate well into XCOM 2's tactical simulation. Practically every mission is a movement to contact. Practically every mission involves some level of urban warfare. The game calls one action overwatch, but that doesn't explain its tactical use. The tactical term is bounding overwatch. (At least that's what it was called 20 years ago. Terminology has changed. I think it's called Search and Attack now, but the principles are the same.) That's how you move a fire team in a movement to contact scenario. Until you get into a building you have to clear room by room. Then it's two person teams. Once opens the door and the other stands ready to shoot anything that moves on the other side. But don't put that person in front of the door. That's dumb. Place them at a window (preferable) or to the other side of the door (okay in a pinch.) Rangers are great for this. Move them into overwatch at a window. Have someone else open the door. When the aliens inside react, the ranger gets and overwatch shot with her scatter gun. If aliens are left standing, she's then in a position to move in with her blade and finish them off. Anyway, that's just an example. But it's the general idea of how you should be thinking about squad movement. FM 3-21.8 can be a great help in that.

Let's see, what else have I learned. Well, I don't think I'm going to win this first game. I've not lost any soldiers and have accomplished every mission with at least an Excellent rating, but I think I've been too slow to build up my resistance connections and will not be able to research and build the equipment I'm going to need to take down endgame black sites. No, I'm not going to start over. I'm going to play to the bitter end and learn how to do better next time. And I'm certain there will be a next time. You see, XCOM 2 is like two games in one. There is the tactical simulation game of defeating aliens on missions by blowing their heads off. But there is also a strategy game where you have to out resource Advent finish all your research before they finish all their research - then blow their heads off. That strategic game is a tough one. As you work towards your goal while trying to thwart theirs, they are doing the exact same thing. It's a race, and right now the AI knows how to manipulate it better than I do. Isn't that the way of all new games though? It doesn't upset me... much.

On a more personal note, I've also learned that XCOM 2 is great for diets. You'll never even realize you're hungry when you're gleefully splattering aliens across the landscape. And every success is like a drug. To get the same effect you have to have a bigger success next time. At least the game scales well to that paradigm. If I were younger and could sit in a chair for longer than five hours straight I'd be worried about starving to death.

All this said, I won't get a chance to play XCOM 2 until this weekend. I need to win five matches in Armored Warfare each night through Saturday to earn free gold, and I have to try the new World of Warships patch. My next three days are booked. I'll catch you all up on my XCOM 2 exploits next week. Until then, be safe and happy alien hunting!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sunday Highlight #25: Amagi Detonation

Have you ever seen a battleship go from full health to no health in an instant? It can take fewer torpedoes than you might think.

Friday, February 12, 2016

It was starting to get better... time for a break.

First off, let me apologize for missing my Wednesday post. It was a 12 hour work day. That's all I need to say about that other than I'm sorry. It's also decreased my gaming time and perhaps made me a little less solid as a World of Warships player. I really must stop playing PvP matches when I'm tired and not operating on all pistons.

Last week, over the weekend, and the two days I've been able to play this week, I only sailed my Kiev and Fubuki in World of Warships. I decided I needed to give my Tirpitz a rest as it was only making my blood pressure spike. And that was working really well until work landed on me. I was posting more victories than not, and one night even ended with a 75% victory percentage!

That all ended last night when my first five Kiev games were defeats. The first game my system spontaneously rebooted about 20 seconds before the match began. Something that seems to happen every first game of World of Warships. I think I need to reload the game. Anyway, I got back into it before the teams engaged because we were on Two Brothers. The first thing I saw was an Atago running my Kiev over because I hadn't moved. I knew then it was going to be a bad game. He headed east and died quickly, the rest of our eastern contingent collapsed and were were not able to capture points faster than they did. We lost. No one wanted to push, they all just sailed in circles towards the back. You know the type. As I got a late start due to the system reboot, I only made it to fifth place on our team, but I did get a nice payout from the Atago captain for damage done. Of the next four games, I was number one or two on my team in three of them. To say my teams were playing like a bunch of noobs doesn't even do justice to the stupidity shown. Just look where our damn carrier is in this screen shot from a game in which I ended up being top gun.

He was sank less than 10 seconds after I recorded this because torpedo and dive bombers love carriers in stupid positions. Our other carrier, that is still in its starting position, lasted about 30 seconds longer. And here I thought our Kamikaze R was stupid for running right out in front of two enemy cruisers. I don't know how much longer I can take this.

Things have been going better in Armored Warfare. I've been sticking to PvE co-op missions for the most part because PvP teams don't like rank amateurs. :-/ In co-op though I've "graduated" to medium difficulty missions quite successfully. We occasionally lose, but it's almost always due to bad team mix for the map we're on, e.g. no main battle tanks on a map where we have to defend against waves of enemies assaulting our objective. I have to admit I'm as culpable on that score as the next player. But even a defeat in a medium match pays more than a victory in an easy match.

Here is one of my best results to date. I don't know how good or bad it is compared to others. Unlike World of Warships, I don't seem so focused on my stats in Armored Warfare. That's probably because I am sticking to co-op. There is no competition to be better than everyone else. Only to get the kill first. And as I've been grinding through the Swingfire, that's not even a thing with me right now. My main objective is to stay concealed and spot for my team. That's how I got all the points in the match above. I spotted 16 targets which the team then eliminated, and I get my cut of that. I find it's quite challenging to stay concealed without firing and give the team the edge they need to just annihilate the other side. The Swingfire has the best concealment rating in it's tree which is a great help.

All that said, I do plan on playing some World of Warships and Armored Warfare this weekend. But they are going to get distant second fiddle to another game I have only been able to play for 2 hours since purchasing on Monday. I've been holding off until I can invest at least four hours straight into it, and that starts tonight.

What, you expected something else? For shame. I'll briefly come up for air on Sunday to post another Sunday Highlight, but I don't expect to see much daylight this weekend. Take care, and until then VIGILO CONFIDO!

PS: I'm a total noob to XCOM having completely missed out on the original game. I don't expect to have anything worth sharing for some time. But if that changes, you'll be the first to know.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Highlight #24: Smart Aggressive Play Wins!

Smart aggressive team play is the difference between winners and losers in ranked play. On the Fault Line map we stay together, concentrate our fire and pick the enemies off one by one as they sail past in a straggle line. We lose two, but they lose six and we are victorious.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Fleet Friday: Update 0.5.3 - New Commander Skills!

Soon we will be able to enjoy update World of Warships 0.5.3, currently available for review on the public test server. There are a boat load (hehe) of changes coming with this update. Among them are new and reworked commander skills that will most certainly affect my game play both directly and indirectly. Here's a run down of how I feel about the coming changes.

Expert Marksman

Wargaming has nerfed this commander skill. As seen on the public test server, it will only give a 2.5 degree per second traverse improvement to 139 mm main guns and smaller. All other main guns will get a 0.7 degree per second improvement only. That means small gun cruisers like the Mogami will take longer to bring their guns to bear on other ships. This is fantastic for me! I am currently a big time destroyer captain. I am loving my Fubuki and Kiev. But even in the Kiev I am horrible outgunned by these small gunned cruisers. I've taken on and won against 203 mm cruisers, but the small caliber artillery has minimal dispersion and they are on my destroyer in a seeming heartbeat. And how many of you destroyer captains out there have been sneaking around the edge of an enemy fleet to out flank them while they fire on your fleet only to have every gun in the enemy fleet turn on you the instant you're detected? This will at least give destroyers a chance to drop off again before they get obliterated.

Last Stand

This skill is not actually changing one bit. It is however getting dropped to skill level 2 instead of level 4. This means anyone who wants to pay for a three skill point destroyer captain will have both Situation Awareness and Last Stand from Tier 1 on. Gone are the days of knocking a destroyer's engines out with the first salvo and then reducing it to a smoking wreck while they sit there an just take it. This will make destroyers even more effective. I even wonder if it will make them too effective at lower tiers. Only time will tell. Of course, the same will happen with low caliber mostly low armor cruisers now that they no longer get the huge turret traverse bonus from Expert Marksman. I think this will make ships like the Omaha and Yorck not suck so bad, so in this way nerfing Expert Marksman is actually good for them.

Torpedo Acceleration

Oh yeah! This is going to make my Fubuki a monster. Okay, maybe that's a bit of hyperbole, but it will finally convince me to upgrade to the 15 km torpedoes. I've not done so because of dispersion concerns at 15 km. I just don't think they'll hit anything: too easy to avoid. That and they go so much more slower than the 10 km torpedoes. This new commander skill will give me back the 5 km/hr speed the upgrade losses and still give me a range of 12 km range. It's a win-win. The only problem is I'd have to choose it over Superintendent. That's a hard choice. I really like the extra smoke and speed boost I get with Superintendent, but admittedly don't need them in even half the games I play. I'd use the longer range in every game. But this is a happy choice, not a sad choice. It will all boil down to how you want to play your ship.


This is not a skill I currently use. It's not really worth picking over Superintendent. It still isn't worth picking over Superintendent in my book, but with the recent change in torpedo detection ranges it might be something I'd now consider for my very skilled battleship captains instead of the level 4 Advanced Firing Training, especially since that later was also nerfed to only apply to 139 mm main guns and smaller.

Advanced Firing Training

And not only will those damn light cruisers not be able to stomp me down the moment I'm detected, their main guns might not even be able to reach me! Okay, that's really just a bunch of wishful thinking. Cruiser main guns have calibers that promote longer ranges (with accuracy!) so they'll still be able to hit sneaky destroyers once their traverse is completed. However, we won't see the hail Mary arcs of HE spamming battleships on the other side of the Two Brother's map any more. That should make battleship captains happier.

Survivability Expert

I think I am looking forward to this skill more than any of the other changes. Remember when the Kiev used to be a monster? Then they nerfed it last patch. It now actually has 2700 fewer hit points than it's fully upgraded predecessor the Ognevoi. Believe me, this makes a huge difference! I've charged battleships in my Ognevoi and survived. You can't do that in a Kiev. It doesn't have enough hit points. This level 4 skill will add 2800 hit points to my Kiev and make it the ship it once was - mostly. It's the perfect replacement for the former level 4 skill Last Stand.

Manual Fire Control for AA Armament

I see this benefiting team battles more than random battles, and only if their are carriers in the game. But if those admittedly restricted conditions are met, you can say goodbye to the Japanese carrier's torpedo plane dominance. They'll get blown out of the sky by AA fit cruisers, especially U.S. cruisers, at every turn. However, it'll take the same sort of player who likes playing cleric classes in RPGs to make it work, if you know what I mean. Glory hounds need not apply.

Last Chance

The buff does improve this skill IMO, but I'd rather see it move to level 3 as an option for non-Japanese destroyers in counterpoint to the Torpedo Acceleration skill. I love the idea that my Kiev could fire a turret every 3.5 seconds when down to just a couple thousand health, which seems to happen a lot. But there is no way I'd ever choose this over concealment expert for any destroyer. For other classes of ships, I think this skill will be a non-skill.

Manual Fire Control for Secondary Armament

As a predominantly destroyer captain, this skill terrifies me. Right now it is possible to follow a battleship and rain fire upon it while easily™ avoiding main gun rounds and staying out of secondary range. Hell, some battleships can't even fire their secondary guns rearward. But for those that can, this when coupled with Expert Marksman and Advanced Firing Training will make the follow the battleship game much more dangerous.

Preventative Maintenance

A negative 50% risk of incapacitation will be a boon for ships that constantly lose their main turrets to enemy fire, like destroyers. However, there is no way I'd ever select it over Concealment Expert. Concealment Expert makes me the captain of my own ship. I am in control of my range. Preventative Maintenance leaves the RNG god still in control of my fate. It lessons the impact of the RNG god, but I'd rather have me fate in my own hands thank you very much.

And those are the Commander Skills changes I'm most keen on for the upcoming update 0.5.3. What do you think of the changes being wrought by Wargaming to Commander Skills? Which ones are you looking forward to? Which ones are you mad about? Let me know in the comments. And as always, have an excellent day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Am I just having a bad run of luck, or do I suck too?

As you can see on from this graph, I was having quite a good run in World of Warships from December through the middle of January. But that came to a crashing halt a few weeks ago. Then it proceeded to pick up again, and then it crashed again. The source of the problem? Well, either I am getting very unlucky about the matches I'm place in, or I suck too.

Let's get on thing straight right of the bat. I am not a playmaker, I am a team player. I am not the sort of World of Warship player who can typically hard carry a match. However, I am very good in a group and contributing to victory as a team effort. But lately it seems the team has been just plain stupid about their game play.
For example, I was in a match the other night in my Fubuki. As you can see, I'm pretty damn good in the Fubuki. It was a Land of Fire match. I was on the far east side, where all the little islands are. I hate those islands in the Fubuki. It's too easy to get ambushed. But the other 13 players on my team went to the far west side of the map - all of them. In chat I said, "If you all go west, the enemy will blitz the center or east and we'll lose." The team ignored me. In fact, there was no chat at all. Nothing. So against my better judgement I went to the east side of those islands to scout. There I ran into a BÅ‚yskawica, a Pensacola and a New Orleans. Guess how long I survived? Hint, the BÅ‚yskawica was 4.1 kilometers away when we came around the island and spotted each other. Guess which way the enemy fleet went? Guess which side lost? It was dumb play on my team's part.

And that wasn't the only incident this past weekend of extremely dumb play. Picture this. You're on the Northern Lights map, so north with pretty lights and a gorgeous moon. It's a capture the base scenario. Half your team takes off up the far east side where D is on the domination scenario. And they keep going. They don't turn west and they don't even threaten the opponent's base. Meanwhile, the opponent makes a concerted push up the three line with all their battleships and half of the remaining ships minus the carrier. You call for help, but no one on the east side is answering. A Fubuki cannot hold the base - ever. Guess who wins?

These are just two of the really bad games I've been in. On Saturday night I had five straight defeats in my Tirpitz and I was high scorer in four of those matches. I was so disgusted I stopped playing for the night on a loss. I've never stopped with a loss. It's not good for personal moral, but neither is doing everything you know how to win only be to be thwarted by the idiots on your own side.

Or is the problem that I suck too? For example, I haven't gotten a Kraken Unleashed yet. I've never earned Confederate, and I've only earned high caliber five times in 891 battles. And let's face facts, I've lost more battles than I've won even if it is very close. I can't help but wonder if I'm rising to my level. Is mediocrity about the best I can hope for here? Yeah, those thoughts are really just depression making noise. It's hard not to get down when you're getting it handed to you game after game. Hell, I had a victory on Atlantic in my Fubuki Monday night and still lost 9000 credits. I'd sunk a very low health Khabarovsk with my guns (only contribution to the game,) but that allowed an enemy cruiser to spot me. I stopped firing, turned around and tried to drop off. I sailed right into the Khabarovsk 's hail mary torpedo launch. That really sucked, and you could take that both ways.

This week announced they are working on team battles. It'll run like ranked battles, except you get to choose who's in your fleet. I'd like to give that a try. However, finding a fleet with less than a 50% win rate, even if it's close, it probably not going to sell well. I could point out there are certain ships which I am markedly better than the so called average. My Kiev stats are arguably even better than my Fubuki stats.
Perhaps perspective teams would take individual ship statistics rather than overall statistics. Would that mean I was good enough to get on a team? Who knows. I suppose. In EVE Online I could get into most player corporations. However, some were highly selective and would reject me without a blink. Some were ideologically selective. Some were statistically selective. Some were not selective at all so long as you paid your taxes.

I'm not particular about who I team up with other than they play ethically and strive to improve. I like ranked battles as I find the cooperation to be extremely in earnest. All seven players want to win, so everyone plays together towards that goal. It works for me. Random battles are always so... well, random. They're like a box of chocolates and Forrest Gump is holding the box.

Anyway, thanks for letting me get all that off my chest. It's not like I'm going to stop playing World of Warships. I am hopelessly addicted to naval combat. I dabble in Armored Warfare too, but I don't find it nearly as compelling as World of Warships. When it comes to armored vehicles, been there and done that IRL. Naval ships are a whole different thing. Anyone remember the really old text based game North Atlantic '86? Oh yeah, I used to play the hell out of that. World of Warships is way better. Alright, that's it. I'm done now. Hope everyone reading this is having an excellent day. Cheers!