225 and big but soon to be forgotten moments

I’m up over 225 World of Warships battles now. I have come to the conclusion that so far I am relatively mediocre at it. The statistics in asia.warships.today agree with me, along with my win rate that is languishing at around 47%.

Failure can however be a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you find yourself doing well in a ship and positively contributing towards the team you tend to win more, giving you more experience points. This means you progress faster through all the upgrades and into the next ship tier. If you don’t do well in a ship and don’t contribute as much to the team, then you tend to lose more. That gives you much lower experience points, which means you have to do more battles in those poor performing ships to reach the next tier.

For example, it took 16 matches for me to research all the upgrades and the next ship in line with the Russian Tier 4 Cruiser Svietlana. I had a 62% win-rate with that ship, doing on average 22,180 points of damage and surviving 31% of the time. It took me 27 matches to fully research and move on from the US Tier 4 Cruiser Phoenix, with only a 32% win-rate, doing on average 16,436 points of damage and surviving only 21% of the time.

In my defence, 65% of my battles so far have been with Cruisers, which I have found in the lower tiers sit uneasy and less effectively between Battleships and Destroyers. I also tend to play – surprisingly, a bit more aggressively. I don’t just sit behind Islands or at the back of the map – I am always looking for ways forward, which means I tend to die earlier than more cautious players. Last of all I am playing a lot of different ships – instead of just focusing on one branch and one style of play.

I can see improvements in my game. I am getting much better at moving in and around islands to my benefit, the amount of damage I do on average is continuing to increase, and I am contributing in ways the game currently doesn’t always reward you for, such as deliberately positioning yourself to spot the enemy ships, or sacrificing yourself for the greater good – like holding off the enemy from an otherwise undefended base, giving time for others to get back in range.

I still do not however particularly feel like I am a master of my own destiny in the game. While my skill level obviously needs to improve, I can’t help but feel my results are just as much the result of the vagaries of the random battle match ups.  Take the Phoenix for example. Because it is quick you tend to run into the enemy vanguard first. In some battles I can throw the ship around like a Destroyer – twist and turn and circle and duck and weave until I break the enemies focused fire and, still reasonably healthy, can reposition myself to move forward again. In other battles however everyone is painfully accurate and I die within seconds of first being detected under withering fire.  I can not overstate the huge differences between the accuracy of the players you come up against.  One match you can avoid the raining shells of half a dozen opponents in open water, the next a Battleship on the opposite side of the map can two or three salvo you off the field as you deliberately twist and turn and try to avoid him in amongst islands.  Even my own accuracy seems to change dramatically between matches – in one I don’t seem to be able to miss, the very next match, same ship, same type of scenarios, I don’t seem to be able to hit the side of a barn.

I am however having great moments in World of Warships.

I recently had a battle in the Tier 4 Russian Cruiser Svietlana that stood out for me. It was in standard mode on the Big Race map. I started out in the south east heading north. I was joined by two other Cruisers and two Battleships. The enemy flotilla we ran into heading in the opposing direction consisted of two Cruisers and two Battleships.

One of the enemy Cruisers overextended himself – I expect in order to fire Torpedoes, allowing us all to focus fire on him. Their second Cruiser was overly cautious and broke contact and circled back too soon. This allowed us to dispatch the first ship without loss. As we rounded the north east of the map there was an old fashioned brawl which saw the remaining enemy Cruiser and two Battleships sunk, with the loss of our two other Cruisers. During this battle I had to dodge the attack of two flights of Torpedo bombers.

At this point we had glimpses of one of the enemy Carriers, so a race began with myself and the two Battleships trying to get to it before the main enemy fleet (we could see on the mini map) returned to save it.

While the Svietlana is not a particularly fast Cruiser, I was out in front spotting for the two slower Battleships behind me. A Tier 5 Japanese Furutaka Cruiser popped out from between some islands, but soon dove back into cover under our combined fire. I then again had to dodge the attacks of a couple flights of Torpedo bombers.

As I straighten out towards the last known position of the Carrier I noticed a blip of an enemy Destroyer on the mini-map, detected by a flight of fighters sent from one of our Carriers. He had literally 1 hit point left, and was making his way in the opposite direction to us at the extreme of my main gun range. It took a while for my guns to swing around in the right direction, by which time he was no longer visible again. I had been tracking his position in my mind and fired off one salvo, quickly moving my guns back towards where I knew the Furutaka would be waiting. As luck would have it a shell landed and I had a lucky Destroyer kill.

I had just got the enemy Carrier spotted when I came into view of the Furutaka again. While the Battleships went for the Carrier I was left with the enemy Cruiser, his torpedoes and another two flights of Torpedo bombers. While the cruiser was a tier higher and I had taken one Torpedo, he managed to ground himself and was outgunned. He was down to 86 hit points with my last Salvo about to land when the kill was taken by another person on my team, pushing up from the south.

I swung around to the carrier but it was dispatched as my guns came to bear. At this point the second carrier came into view – on the opposite side of the now arriving enemy fleet. I had the choice to turn and run, or to keep the carrier spotted for our encroaching and numerically superior fleet. I decided to fight it out – and was rewarded by spotting a very low health enemy Cruiser trying to escape. I fired one Salvo before having to take evasive action as an enemy Battleship rounded an island right in front of me. I frantically fired off Torpedoes and guns into the side of the Battleship under the crescendo of critical damage and fire messages and the noise of secondary battery fire. I just had time to register my second kill pop up – meaning my salvo on the Cruiser had been effective, before my Torpedoes stuck. In the space of seconds, I took the Battleship from three quarters health to almost zero. Just as I was about to fire one last salvo to claim the kill someone else on my team landed a hit and took the prize.

With only a sliver of health left and under the focused fire of the remaining enemy I literally fired a salvo off at the first ship my guns swung across before being sunk. As I sat there watching the battle finishing I suddenly had my third kill. My last salvo had started a fire on a ship, which had then been taken down to low health by a Battleship, with my burning fire then doing the last few points of damage. I had deserved three kills for that battle – just none of the ones I ended up with.

The nature of the game however is you tend to forget all these sorts of battles.  They just blur into one and another after a short period of time.

I see white ships

I am not particularly enamored by the Purity of the Throne event sites. They are obviously popular – more than 80% I warp in to are already being run. That means however I am flying through 8 to 10 Hi-Sec systems for each empty site. Given there is nothing particularly special about them I ended up using the market to sell and buy until I had collected the 9 skins I was interested in, still coming out with a profit. That moved me from 8 to 17 permanent skins applied – only a small fraction of skins available. I hadn’t realised I was being so discerning about my use of skins.

ehimg588
I am going to have to pay more attention though – I am going to lose an expensive ship one day to forgetting to turn on my repairers when moving through systems hunting for event sites.

I was worried to see that the EVE Fitting Tool (EFT) hasn’t been updated in four months now. Gripen has been slow to push out releases before, but it is a reminder about the risk CCP takes leaving necessary core game functionality to third party developers. I know they are meant to be working on an in-client version of EFT, but the skeptic in me thinks it might be like their in-client version of DOTLAN EVE maps.

I’ve now downloaded the latest version of the Python Fitting Assistant (Pyfa). I have never been entirely sold on Pyfa, but credit due for the continued and active updating.

10 years and 1 day

While I have mentioned it a number of times over the last few months and it has been at the back of my mind, I managed to forget that yesterday was my 10-year EVE Anniversary. I don’t think I even logged in.

It must have been a good few months for EVE around a decade ago – a number of Bloggers I follow have also recently hit the 10-year mark.

I find it extraordinary to think a computer game has managed to hold my interest for such a long time. Up until the last few months I have played fairly consistently. I guess that is the power of a good MMO – above and beyond what most PC, Console or Mobile games are able to achieve.

Looking at the API information on my Main Account, it has logged in 6,414 times for 8,849 hours. That equates to 1.75 logins and 2.4 hours of play per day across a decade.

That is noteworthy even without considering that I’ve had up to three Alt accounts active. My main Alt Account for example has been logged in 3,362 times for 2,414 hours. Even assuming the majority would have been concurrent with my main, it paints the picture of a considerable time investment put into playing EVE.

On top of that would have been a substantial number of hours spent reading, writing, listening and watching EVE related media across all the different sorts of online platforms you find it upon. That would add up to a, well – shocking amount of time.

What the hell have I been doing? What might I have achieved in life if I had not invested so much in an imaginary world? Remind me never to mention these statistics to my wife – I am sure there would be grounds for a divorce in amongst them.

EVE has given me three things. First is entertainment – a distraction and downtime from the stresses of life. The second has been – even as a solo focused player, a community. A common shared interest with thousands and thousands of other people. The last is a little more difficult to explain – it has given me a platform to learn more about myself and people in general. That probably comes across as too cerebral, but as I have written about on this blog, there are many interesting aspects to how we interact with and through this game.

So what does a 10-year-old, unfocused, jack of all trades master of none EVE character look like?

You can see it for yourself here:

http://eveboard.com/pilot/Elmis

194 odd Million Skill points across 399 skills – 204 at level V.

I am not sure what the future holds. A nice round 200M SP for starters.

Searching to Contribute

I was caught out by my Null Sec Base office rental steadily increasing without me noticing. I had to send my main Alt down there via Clone jump to clean it out and close up. I’ll reopen when the price drops.

It took me a while to try out the new event sites. I noticed initial complaints about them erroneously impacting Amarr standings, so left them be. That all seems to have been resolved, so I ran a few this weekend.

I haven’t done any research into them, but so far they only seem to drop one of a wide variety of white Amarr ship skins. I’ll run them if I see them in the local system, but I don’t plan to go hunting for them.

I’ve passed 170 battles in World of Warships. I hit a real roadblock with the Tier IV Cruisers – all of them, not just the Japanese Kuma I was talking about before.

I found I struggled to hit anything and suddenly seemed to be paper thin, dying far too quickly and easily. I was always languishing around the bottom of the battle rankings.

Some of this related to the configuration of the new hulls, such as losing some of the main guns to be replaced by rarely useful Torpedoes, slower turret traversal, and starting out without the upgrades. Having to partially retain the Captains also impacts your initial effectiveness.

Some related to the quality of opposition, which seemed to take a bit of a step up at that level.

Some related to how I was trying to play the game.

One of the more obvious and important tactics in World of Warships is to focus fire – just as it is in EVE. It was around the point where I stepped from Tier III to IV ships that I made more of an effort to group up with other players.

I initially started out by focusing on giving the Destroyers support – but more often than not I just ate a hull full of torpedoes without contributing.

Then I tried hanging back with the Battleships, but that left me out of range and often the primary target of incoming fire. Once again I contributed little.

Last I tried to hang in between the main group of Destroyers and Battleships – which improved my Battle ranks from dismal too mediocre, but it was still rather unsatisfying.

Finally, I’ve stuck with that type of play – but focused more on my positioning around islands. Ducking in and out of cover, changing targets as you move around, capturing or assisting if you have the opportunity but being more willing to break engagements and temporarily retreat, pushing destroyers away when you see them, and stay on the lookout for targets on lower health or the obvious focus of others on your team – all the while being mindful of the strategic goal of the battle itself.

It is a sort of team focused individual game. Obvious when you stop to think about it. It took a bit of patience, but I am now regularly in the lower top half of the battle rankings, which means I am tending to contribute, which I am ok with.

I find the destroyers much easier to play – although have to be in the mood for them.  As was said recently in a comment, they are a hero or zero type ship to play. You are either dead quickly and at the bottom of the battle rankings, or you sink ships and capture zones and find yourself with lots of experience earned.

Last of all I have started out playing Battleships, which are a whole different sort of game play. I had not planned on trying them until I felt I had mastered Destroyers and Cruisers more. Interestingly, instead of distracting me, it has helped me better understand how to use the smaller hulls.  In a Battleship you love when Cruisers hang out in the open, and you hate when Destroyers ambush you around Islands.

I have a rough budget of $30 a month for online games I am getting a lot out of. In the first month of World of Warships I paid for 30 days premium and a small number of doubloons. Nearing the start of my second month, I have now paid for another 30 days premium and picked up a Murmansk premium ship. I am enjoying testing out the various aspects of the game.

One Hundred

I’ve hit 100 PVP battles in World or Warships. A reasonable effort given I am not normally enamoured with PVP style games. It came out at 50 wins and 50 losses.

I’ve been spreading myself around a bit with my port currently housing the following:

American Tier IV Destroyer Clemson
American Tier IV Cruiser Phoenix
German Tier III Cruiser Kolberg
Japanese Tier IV Destroyer Isokaze
Japanese Tier IV Cruiser Kuma
Russian Tier III Cruiser Bogatyr

I like the American and German ships better so far – with their reasonable turret traversal and good rate of fire. Admittedly their small guns don’t do a great deal of damage, but they are forgiving of bad aim and allow you to walk the fire in on top of your enemies. I am regularly landing 50 to 100+ hits from my main turrets each battle, which makes the game more fun. In comparison the Japanese guns are more frustrating to use, often unable to keep up with the ships own turning or passing ships at close quarter.

I don’t even mind the shorter range Torpedoes in the American Destroyers. They forced me out of trying to play the conceal and long range game I was using (ineffectively) in the Japanese destroyers. You have to think more tactically – both about your ambush options, and when you break cover and make a run across open water on solo ships.

The game is an interesting mix of simple and complex, luck and hard work. You can play one match and be a complete legend, landing every hit and putting yourself in the perfect position time after time. Then you start the next match feeling great – only to die from the first salvo of the game. Or worse than that – you run around the entire next match not hitting a thing or doing anything of value for your team despite trying your best.

Please Stay

I logged my Alt account in for the first time in a month.

I had changed the subscription period from a year to half yearly, and it is now three weeks from renewal. I did that at the time as it covered my 10-year anniversary (which is coming up shortly), but I wasn’t sure I would need the account beyond then.

Being honest with myself, I have not got my money’s worth out of the account for a while now. I use it occasionally to sell off loot or pick up supplies, and it did provide worthwhile boosts during mining challenges for the Serpentis Event, but otherwise it sits dormant. It would be useful for when I am out of Hi-Sec, but I am still suffering those deadly 12+ second blank screen undocks when I first start a session, so I haven’t been operating in those areas.

After a little thought I decided to continue the subscription, but changed it to 3 months. That will cover the November release where I want to be able to test the bubble boost system. I will reconsider my options then.

That left one other task – what skills to throw into my main Alts training queue. It turned out he was less than 24 hours off completing one of my skill mini-goals – which was to have no skills at level I, II or III. I think I decided to do that so that the skill tree looked neater and lined up better. This time tomorrow he will have 341 skills, 153 ranked IV and 188 ranked V.  (With some 183M SP.)

I checked out EVEMon, but he no longer has any outstanding skill plans. I fell back to the vague goal of perfecting the Gallente Ship Tree.

ehimg586

He had finished off Torpedo Specialization V recently, which gave me mastery in a couple extra ships, but he was missing some rank V skills in various ship hulls. His queue ended up with the following:

ehimg587

 

When that was complete I went through my Facebook feed and noticed this news blog from CCP:

https://community.eveonline.com/news/news-channels/eve-online-news/celebratory-rewards-coming-for-november-expansion/

They are rewarding you with some relatively inexpensive items if you stay subscribed from now until November. That is – curious. I’m not sure I’ve seen CCP do something quite like that before – please stay for 2 months, we will reward you.  A little extra loot for me I guess, but it would not have influenced my decision making.

Spotted

I spent a while in the Tier II American Destroyer Sampson. It has a base surface detectability range of 5.9km. (That means another surface ship needs to get within 5.9km to see it.)

There are only two other Destroyers in Tier II and III (what the Sampson will come up against) with lower detectability ranges – the Tier II Russian Destroyer Storozhevoi at 5.8km and the Japanese Umikaze at 5.6km. That gives them a 100 and 300-meter buffer respectively where they can detect the Sampson (which I am alerted to), but I can’t see them.

The Sampson covers 15 meters per second at full speed, the Storozhevoi 18. On direct approach this 100-meter gap in detection is covered in just over 3 seconds. Given realistically you are more likely to be angled in approach, this buffer might last 5 or more seconds. Useful, but it would be very tricky for the Storozhevoi to be able to maneuver to keep himself in this 100-meter buffer.  (At least I am finding it extremely difficult to hover just outside of detectability range when spotting opponents.)

The 300-meter gap in visibility against the Umikaze however is more dangerous. The Sampson takes 20 seconds to cover this distance, plenty of time for the Umikaze to change direction. It also allows the Umikaze to invisibly fire its Torpedoes if it carries the upgraded Type 44 Mod 2’s.

At this low level the only ship specific option to help your concealability is using camouflage, which is a consumable on non-premium ships. This reduces your detectability by 3%, or 177-meters on the Sampson. (Drops it down to just over 5.6km.) Of course if you can fit it, so can your opponents.

I don’t think there are any signal flags which lower this detectability.

You can of course smoke up in a Destroyer. While I can’t look into smoke at this tier, I can certainly see its outer edge. If I am detected but have no other ships or planes close enough aside a bloody big smoke screen, then it would be easy to deduce a destroyer is sitting within it looking at me.

You can also hide behind islands – but that of course blocks your own line of sight so you are just as blind unless someone else is spotting for you.

So that is the assumptions I have taken into my World of Warships Sampson battles – there are only two Destroyers who should generally be able to detect me first, and I look for them in the list at the start of each battle. I can’t ever recall coming up against a Storozhevoi, so it is just the easy to remember Umikaze. That gives me a little more confidence when making the start of game run into Capture Zones.

Except that is not how it was happening. I was regularly being spotted by different Destroyers who seemed to have little trouble keeping me in view for long periods of time without me seeing them.

It is not unusual for me to find myself in this sort of situation. I’ve done what I think is a reasonable amount of research – more than a lot of newer players might. What was I getting wrong? Maybe the Official wiki wasn’t up to date? Was it something like lag? Maybe islands can give a degree of concealability? In the end I think it is something very obvious.

There is a 5th rank Ship Captain skill called Concealment Expert. It lowers the ship detection radius by 10%, but it requires a 16th level Captain. My highest level Captain is only 7 or 8th, and none of my Destroyer Captains at Tier II and III got past maybe 4th. I just wasn’t expecting to be up against Ship Captains that high in level. I also wasn’t expecting to be so regularly up against such experienced players at such low tiers.

I like this sort of stuff – figuring out the why and how. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the memory to retain it all. I play a weekly game of online DDO with a bunch of old friends. Several can remember every single quest by name and the optimum way to run each. They know the optimum skills, enhancements, EPIC destinies and equipment for multiple classes at every level. I instead play World of Warships surrounded by paper notes, reminding me what my ranges are and the likely ranges of my opponents, what keys do what and so on.

It is a bit rock, paper scissors like, but there is a reasonably level of complexity to the game that keeps me interested.