January 31, 2016

Battleship, Row!

World of Warships continues to hold my attention, at least to some extent.  Today brought me a new milestone in the game: my first battleship.

As usual, click for biggernation
Yep, it's a South Carolina!  On one hand, first big-gun vessel to have its main armament all on the centerline.  On the other hand, it's only slightly faster than continental drift, some planets have a better turn radius, and its armor is... lets be charitable and call it "insubstantial." 

However, it does make for some pretty screenshots!  That's something I haven't complemented WoWS on yet: how good it looks.  For a free-to-play game, it looks unimaginably pretty.  Back when I was playing text games on my TRS-80 Model III, I never would have thought that games would look like this:

If you're only able to click on one picture to make it bigger, click this one.
Mind you, these pictures aren't from some replay system or cinematic cutscene... nope, this is actual gameplay.  I didn't even notice the gunnery clock on the forward cage mast when I was playing, but yup, it's there!  Just loads of little detailing on these models.  Unfortunately, the first match I played with the ship, I wound up being sunk by the combined firepower of two battleships and a cruiser.  The third match was even worse, as David and Clayton (aka TheSquirrelPatrol and MachineCivilization) and myself found ourselves facing Tier V and VI cruisers, backed by a couple of Kongos.  Outranged from the very beginning of the match, all we could do is close the range as fast as we could, and dodge incoming fire.  "But Wonderduck," I hear you say, which is impressive considering my headphones are cranking 'The Outbreak of World War' right now, "I thought you said the South Carolina is slow and can't turn." 

That's right, I did.  Please note, this isn't a screenshot of my South Carolina sinking, but David's.  He at least went down guns blazing.  Me, I exploderated after getting to fire a total of one volley.  I believe those rounds moistened a destroyer.  Perhaps in a few years, the corrosive nature of the salt water I splashed upon the DD will gnaw a hole in it somewhere.  Alas, that was my only contribution to the fight, for it was at that moment the Kongo got in range and suddenly there was a South Carolina-shaped hole in the ocean where my ship had been.

SoCar in better, more intact, times
Hopefully we won't be uptiered quite so badly next time.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 01:01 AM | Comments (14) | Add Comment
Post contains 424 words, total size 4 kb.

1 Greebly-zaks!  You hooked me into this game and I just got a St Louis (started later than you) yesterday.
Still figuring it out.  But sho' is pretty, you got that right.  I'll start makin' St Louis sized lumps on the ocean floor after I finish my blog sweep.

Posted by: The Old Man at January 31, 2016 07:47 AM (duGaw)

2 TOM, what's your game name?  I'll add you to the ever-growing list!

Posted by: Wonderduck at January 31, 2016 09:10 AM (KiM/Y)

3 By the way, if you hold down the alt key, or, go into settings and enable the "Alternate interface", your gun view will also include range and time of flight information. You can use that to adjust your aim point and leading. And the X key will cycle through target designation of the ships that are in range.

Posted by: Mauser at January 31, 2016 10:35 AM (5Ktpu)

4 Here's an ignorant question by someone who has never tried the game: I gather that distributed teams can play several ships as a coordinated fleet, but can multiple players co-handle a single ship -- one doing fire control, one at the helm, one calling tactics, etc.? 

Posted by: Ad absurdum per aspera at January 31, 2016 11:33 AM (470Py)

5 Ad, not in WoWs.  As Wonderduck mentioned, this game is more arcade-game-like; it's a relatively slow moving, marginally strategic shooter.

However, there are several bridge simulator games for multiplayer co-op, although all the ones I'm familiar with are space combat sims, not WWII sea combat sims.

Posted by: Ben at January 31, 2016 12:18 PM (DRaH+)

6

I haven't played the game either, but the impression I get from watching videos is that the action is slow enough so that you wouldn't really benefit from having multiple players on a single ship. One player can comfortably handle it all.

The play field is huge and the ships aren't all that fast. The guns have long reload times so you don't fire all that often. All of which is relatively accurate historically. I've read that IJN Yamato could only fire its main battery once a minute.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 31, 2016 02:09 PM (+rSRq)

7 Sometimes you get completely overmatched and defeat is essentially inevitable.  That battle felt like some of my old EVE battles, where the opposing side have overwhelming superiority, and it was just a matter of waiting for them to work their way down the priority targets to you.  When four or five ships all are shooting at you from out of your range, well...
But when it's more evenly matched, I'm finding that teamwork and a plan makes all the difference.  This battle for example, we did a bit of planning, and sent two CA and two DD up the middle to probe, and we did it cautiously, stopping at the corner of the islands, popping smoke, firing off some torps to scare people away, and then when it looked clear, a BB followed us through.  Two DD and two CA died within a minute of us breaking through, for no return losses.  Meanwhile the rest of our force went to A, and we ignored C entirely.  The group that pushed through at B then wrapped behind and we hit the enemy at A from both sides and they died quickly.  Then it was just a feeding frenzy on the remaining ships.  We lost one DD and one CA to the enemy, and if anything, they had the superior ships.
Besides teamwork, the key thing is to enter battle with caution.  If you charge in, and find yourself the unlucky person that is the first target in range for three or more enemies, you're going to have a bad day.

Posted by: David at January 31, 2016 02:20 PM (+TPAa)

8 SDB, it takes about 25seconds to reload the main guns on the SoCar

Uncle Ad, I'd be curious to see how you'd do in this game... half of me thinks you'd be okay.  The other half thinks you'd be Nimitz, Spruance and Kurita, all rolled into one, with a sprinkling of Donitz on top.

Posted by: Wonderduck at January 31, 2016 03:47 PM (KiM/Y)

9 Kurita? Why would you want to insult him like that? Kurita was a moron...

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 31, 2016 04:22 PM (+rSRq)

10 Donitz sprinkles sound most un-tasty.

Just spent a weekend at PAX South, so haven't played in a few days. Got my South Carolina and could get the Kawachi if I wanted one (not inclined to go up that tree yet though...)

You can find yourself in an unfavorable position when it comes to weight of metal, but so far I haven't ever been in a game like I'd get in sometimes with War Thunder, where I'd be in a tank that couldn't penetrate the rear armor of some of the stuff on the enemy team. It might not be an even match but it's at least still a match. And if the guy in the big ship on the other side is an incompetent, it may well be an even match.

(Downside: rank 5 carriers are pretty awful if you're in a rank 3 ship. None of them have enough anti-air to matter, and you don't have the HP to soak torpedo run hits (in a battleship) or the anti-air to make them be wary of your presence (cruisers). Destroyers don't really worry about this particularly though - they're nimble enough to make lousy targets for torpedo planes, so carrier players won't bother unless there's nothing big left to shoot at.

Posted by: Avatar at January 31, 2016 07:03 PM (v29Tn)

11 Kurita was a moron...

SDB, Kurita pulled off one of the biggest miracles of the Japanese war.

Having done so, he then realized that he could not accomplish his mission without suffering 100% losses throwing his fleet against landing craft that he knew were already empty.

With this in mind, and having intercepted messages that told him that Ozawa's carriers had been attacked and sunk, he made the connection that he wasn't, in fact, facing the main carrier fleet of the US Navy. 

He then pulled off another miracle by withdrawing his fleet, without any air cover to speak of, allowing it to fight another day and, ohbytheway, not throwing away thousands of experienced lives needlessly.

For pulling off two miracles in one 24-hour span, some people consider him a "moron."  I tend to disagree with that sentiment.

Posted by: Wonderduck at January 31, 2016 08:11 PM (KiM/Y)

12 Duck, I gotta say, Steve's position is definitely the orthodox one.

To the best of my understanding, those landing craft, even empty, represented a priceless military asset, one which the US would not be able to quickly replace. Their availability was the greatest restriction on Allied action. Destroying that fleet would have set back the remaining invasion of the Philippines by months and delayed any further US advances in the Pacific considerably.

On top of that, while the troops had off-loaded, they still needed supplies (and a lot of them!) and the ability to sink transports full of supplies would definitely have put the kibosh on any offensive on Leyte. In fact, had they landed enough supplies to keep the beachhead at all? For that matter, even withdrawing the troops without those landing craft would have been rather difficult. I'm sure that we're not talking about "entire landing force dies of starvation" levels of danger, but surely it would have been worth doing.

Also, given that the entire Japanese military strategy was "inflict a big defeat and then immediately attempt to come to terms", having the opportunity to do so and not taking it was quite a missed opportunity. It's not too much to say that the Japanese were never closer to having their late-war war plans succeed than that afternoon. Kurita could have lost every ship and every man under his command and still won a favorable peace for his country. Even an unfavorable one would have been better than what they ended up with (by the standards of the Imperial Japanese - of course things turned out roses in the long run, but they can't be blamed for not having known that.)

Of course it wouldn't do to rag on a Japanese commander for choosing force preservation - for rarity value if nothing else - but at the end of the day, isn't it fair to judge the preservation of those ships versus the further contribution they actually made to the war effort (i.e. bupkus)? Kurita had to have known that this was the Imperial Navy's last hurrah, and that with the US in control of the Philippines there simply would be no further opportunity for offensive action...

Granted I haven't seen a lot in the way of really detailed analysis of the Leyte stuff, so it's possible all of the above is inaccurate in important ways - got a good book to suggest?

Posted by: Avatar at January 31, 2016 09:50 PM (v29Tn)

13 Steve's position is definitely the orthodox one.

Yup.  I prefer to give the man somewhat more respect than calling him a "moron".

Kurita could have lost every ship and every man under his command and still won a favorable peace for his country.


Crap.  Crap squared.  Crap cubed and multiplied by pi.  The US would have never settled for less than the total defeat of Japan... if anything, it would have made Japan's situation even more dire in the long run.

...with the US in control of the Philippines there simply would be no further opportunity for offensive action.

Any sane man knew that Japan had lost long before Samar.  Kurita was many things, but a fanatical zealot was not one of them.  It is my considered opinion that he did exactly the right thing.  If Taffy 3 had folded like a house of cards, that would have made things different... but it killed three cruisers, blew the bow off a fourth, and damaged every battleship in Kurita's force except for Yamato.  By the time he got to the landing area, he would have been under air attack from the BIG carriers as well as the escorts; there's no guarantee that he would have succeeded in doing much once there.

Would he have disrupted the landing timetables?  Nope.  Leyte Gulf occurred three days after the initial landings on Leyte itself.  Japan couldn't reinforce the island and had zero control over the air.  AT BEST, Kurita might have maybe slowed the process down by a few weeks, maybe a month... but he couldn't have reversed what had already occurred. 

I don't believe the sacrifice of the fleet and the thousands of crewmen would be worth a couple of weeks, do you?

Posted by: Wonderduck at January 31, 2016 10:48 PM (KiM/Y)

14 I don't disagree that the Japanese government was probably in fantasy-land with their prospect of whether the US government could possibly be forced to a negotiated end to the war.

But that was, incontestably, the actual Japanese plan at this phase of the war. If Kurita thought the plan was completely unworkable, that even success wouldn't lead to any positive result... then what was he doing there at all? After all, he did lose several ships, completely ignoring the wreckage of the two other Japanese fleets, and just about everything he got home never sailed again (from inability to repair, or from lack of fuel).

Was initiating the attack on Leyte a mistake? Absolutely. And we can't blame Kurita (at least, not him alone) for that mistake. But having sacrificed their carriers, the ships in the northern force, and his own casualties thus far... it's tantamount to putting 90% of your chips into the pot and then folding before the flop rather than going all in. It was a bad gamble to take but a worse one to abandon at that point; a classic moral defeat.

Posted by: Avatar at February 01, 2016 12:58 PM (v29Tn)

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