Category Archives: World of Warplanes

Musing on Battleships

Battleships have always held a fascination for me.

Certainly as a young boy, seeing pictures and drawings of battleships bristling with armament left an impression.

USS Missouri and USS Iowa

But things martial do tend to attract young boys.

Tanks, airplanes, and battleships all figured heavily in my childhood play, day dreams, and drawings. (Something actively discouraged by most female relatives of mine, yet subtly encouraged by nearly every male relative.  You see how this works.)

And while I might consider myself having missed the golden ages of tanks or airplanes, they still exist and have continued to evolve during my lifetime, if more slowly than before. (The US Air Force flies planes built before I was born and plans to keep flying some of them until after the actuarial tables say I am likely to have passed on.)

But I was born after the age of battleships.

The US Navy maintained a few during my lifetime.  One is parked, in storage, about an hours drive from my home.  It is waiting to be turned into a museum.

Fleets of steel clad battleships though, that idea faded as a strategic force nearly a century back, and even then the battleship concept was never really put to the test.  The list of battles involving battleship forces is relatively short, and the more decisive engagements tend to reflect either mis-match forces or leadership.

On that list there is the one battle that represented the clash of mass naval forces, matched in size, quality, and leadership in the style foreseen by the naval powers of the time: Jutland.

And that pretty much ended up a draw, with both sides claiming victory and pretty much returning to the same state of affairs as before the battle.

So if you study history and want to compare equipment and tactics you are at something of a loss when it comes to battleships.

With tanks you have the western desert and the eastern front.  For aircraft you have pretty much the whole European theater to study.  Battles between aircraft carriers dominated the war in the Pacific.

But for battleships fighting as their creators envisioned, you have Jutland, a battle that spawned many theories but decisions.

Part of this is because the era of the modern battleship was so short, lasting from the late 19th century to the end of World War I and the coming of the aircraft carrier.  Compare this to the age of sail, which ran from the mid 16th century up to the ironclads of the US Civil War and contains a long list of battles to study and compare.

And, likewise, there have been a number of good games representing the age of sail, full of broadsides and laying along side to board.  The actual ship to ship combat was a high point of Pirates of the Burning Sea, which I felt hit very close to the mark in the balance between realism and playability.  Pity about the rest of the game.

And, of course, there is plenty of supporting literature to put you in the mood for wooden ships.  I’ve been through all of Patrick O’Brian and most of C. S. Forester‘s tales, all of which I highly recommend.

So when announced World of Battleships (see, I’m closing in on an actual point here… somewhere) I started thinking about games I’ve played, or at least seen, involving that narrow span of time when battleships ruled the waves.  And they all seem to center around one battle.

I remember being up at The Outpost, a hobby and game store up in San Carlos, and watching very earnest men moving tiny lead models of ships around on a very large felt-covered table, measuring distances and consulting tables and charts, in order to simulate the clash of forces at Jutland.

I recall playing Avalon Hill game Jutland with a friend in a room that quickly turned out to be too small for the effort.  Plus the measurements and accounting took patience we barely possessed, and there was the danger of pets and siblings messing things up.  But the alternatives were more like AH’s War at Sea, which pulled back for a more strategic view and gave little feel for ship combat except in a very abstract sense.

I had Victory in the Pacific as well...

And neither option lived up to Wooden Ships & Iron Men.

More recently I tried out Storm Eagle Studios’ game called, naturally, Jutland.  Imagine that.  It is a 3D modeled simulation of naval combat in the age of the “modern” battleship.  And while it suffered from some of the interface maladies that tend to come with war games from smaller studios (along with some annoying copy protection for just the demo), I probably could have dealt with that had it not been for the scale of combat, something hinted at in the previous two memories.

Getting the camera hauled around to the point where I could see at least a squadron of my ships in some detail meant not being able to see the enemy except as specks on the horizon, or the rest of my own fleet, which was likewise tiny bumps on the ocean surface.

The thing that always comes back to slap me in the face is that, compared to the age of sail, combat with 20th century battleships takes place at pretty extreme ranges.  When the heavy guns of a fleet range out from 20-35km, there is no laying along side or yardarm to yardarm broadsides.

And while battleships are big, that sort of range makes them seem pretty small all the same.  I have seen the USS Iowa from the highway as we drove past Suisun Bay.  It was certainly less than 5 miles away, and it seems unimpressively small at that distance, despite being nearly 900 feet in length.

Which makes me wonder how plans to address this.

As I said about World of Warplanes, the sky is big and it needs to be because WWII aircraft move fast.  They have said they plan for a 13km by 13km airspace in which to fight 15 vs. 15 battles. (Which seems small to me, but we’ll see.)

For battleships the ocean is big and it needs to be, not because they move fast (the best can scoot along at about the same rate of speed as the fastest tank in World of Tanks), but because their guns can reach out and hit just about anything they can see.  A flat 13km by 13km square of ocean would be a battleship bloodbath.

Given’s past game plan, which is quick 15 vs. 15 battles where combat commences very rapidly, I am trying to figure out how they will fit this into the same plan.

If you start everybody too close to speed things up, it is aim, shoot, and over.

If you go for smaller ships, destroyers or cruisers, it then ceases to be World of Battleships.

If you lay things out in real world distances, with the sides out of sight of each other, the match takes a long, long time.

So how do you make a game that involves quick(-ish) action, keeps to a reasonable scale, and yet does not throw realism completely out the porthole?

Tanks were easy.  Warplanes at least have antecedents in things like Air Warrior.  But battleships?

I suppose we will have to wait and see.’s Gamescom Trailers had trailers for both World of Warplanes and World of Battleships at Gamescom.

Both are kind of pretty.  Neither tell you much about the games in question.

I guess we will have to wait for a while longer to get an idea as to what has in mind for these two projects.

With that sort of trailer I would guess we’re at least a year away from seeing either title.

As Requested, World of Battleships

When announced World of Warplanes to add to their World of Tanks offering, I wondered what else we would need.

A number of people said “Naval Warfare!”

And so you shall… Declares Naval Warfare

World of Battleships Weighs Anchor

London, UK, Paris, FR and San Francisco, CA (16th August, 2011) —, the award-winning videogame publisher and developer, announces World of Battleships, a free-to-play naval action MMO based on epic sea battles of the 20th century that will complete the “World of” war trilogy.

Keeping with the best traditions of the series, World of Battleships will offer a straightforward interface, easy-to-use controls, and a common economic system that will allow players to distribute resources between the three games for the ultimate progress in each of them.

The large assortment of available warships will give various tactical opportunities, as all the machines have a unique combination of firepower, speed, armor, and endurance. Various naval maps with changing weather conditions will enrich the gameplay, and the realistic graphics will transport players into the epic battles that changed the course of human history. CEO Victor Kislyi states: “Humans always needed to conquer the elements — earth, water and air. With World of Tanks, World of Warplanes and World of Battleships we will offer players to conquer all, simultaneously.”

About®® is an award-winning online game developer and publisher, incorporated in the UK. Its 270-strong development team is located in Minsk, Belarus. Since 1998, the company has shipped 13 titles, including acclaimed Massive Assault series, Order of War RTS published by Square Enix, and three add-ons for Blitzkrieg II. At the Russian Game Developers Conference (KRI) in 2009 and 2010,® was named The Best Developer Company from ex-USSR. At KRI 2011 the company was awarded Industry Prize and World of Tanks® won the Best Game Award. The company’s headliner project, World of Tanks®, gained the Guinness World Record for the Most Players on One Server Simultaneously. Currently,® is developing the next action MMO, World of Warplanes and a new unannounced project.

Official web site:

Is there anything left for them?

World of Napoleonic battles?

The Little Things

While it is the big things about an MMO that gets me to play it and keeps me playing it… things like the setting, game stability, engaging story and game play are the key draws.  That is what seals the deal initially.

But I find that, over time, it can be the little things that really endear me to a game… or that really begin to bug me.  Something small but good can stoke my enthusiasm for a given MMO, while something bad can become like a stone in my shoe, something that I cannot ignore and which negatively colors the rest of the game.

Every game has a little of both, some good and some bad.  But something really good can out weigh a lot of bad.

Here are a couple of examples of small things that are real pluses for me from a few MMOs I have played lately.


When Potshot and I were playing EverQuest on Fippy Darpaw, we were both playing two characters at once.  As such, when one of us logged on to play, if the other person was on with both characters, they were likely already in a group.   So a lot of the time we would find each other and already be in two separate groups.

We found, however, that if you invite the leader of another group to join your own group, the game will just merge the two groups.  None of that “Player X is already in a group” that is common in every MMO I can recall.

And as small as that was, I was in awe of how right it was.  It was a “why doesn’t everybody do it this way?” sort of thing.

EverQuest II

In EverQuest II I am always impressed that fighter-type NPCs actually use taunt.  And it works.  You may be beating down on that annoying healer in an encounter only to find that the fighter in the group has taunted you off of the healer and you are now attacking the fighter.

As Potshot put it in one of our groups, aggro as a mechanic is crap, but if you’re going to have it you might as well have it go both ways.

Lord of the Rings Online

Probably the most trivial of my three examples, but also the one I like the most.  Whoever decided to dedicate a key to toggle the names floating floating over everybody’s head on and off deserves a medal.  I hate having the names on, and generally turn them off in any game I play.  But sometimes you want or need the names on.  With LOTRO, it is just a keystroke to toggle them.

Meanwhile, one of the many reasons I suck at battlegrounds in WoW is that I play with the names off and rarely bother to turn them on just because Wintergrasp is ready to go. (If nothing else, this made me begin to hate ground mounts that are common to both factions.)


I said “MMOs I have played lately” because often I only think of these little things when I am playing a given game.   For example, I was sure I could come up with an example for World of Warcraft.  But I have not played the game actively for six months or so and could not come up with a single thing.

Likewise, I know there must be something like that in EVE Online.  I can feel it in my gut.  But I cannot recall one such little feature.

And, of course, these are the little things that matter to me.

Are there similar small features that endear your current MMO to you?

World of Warplanes has a Web Site!

At the unsurprising address of

World of Warplanes!

The site even has a few screen shots, which focus heavily on the Bell P-39 Airacobra.

P-39 in Action

That might seem an odd choice in the US, where the fighter was quickly replaced due to its poor high altitude performance, but for a Russian company, it makes complete sense.

The P-39 Story

Turn with a Zero it wouldn’t
Or climb with a sleek One-oh-nine.
But for busting tanks on the tundra
This baby was really fine…

Of course, none of this tells us what the game will really be like, but at least they have a site I can watch now.  And a Twitter feed.  And a Facebook page.

Until then, I can still dream about what the game will be like.

(P-39 cartoon and quote from THERE I WAS… Flat on my Back, a collection of aviation cartoons and other Air Force lore by Bob Stevens, copyright 1975, Aero Publishers, Inc.  Completely and totally out of print, my 35 year old, hard bound copy is a treasure.)