Tag Archives: Atlantic Fleet

Atlantic Fleet

Back in January I took my refund from the Hero’s Song debacle and picked up a couple of games off of Steam with the money.  Refunded money is like found money and should be spent immediately.  I grabbed Orwell, Death Ray Manta, and Atlantic Fleet, something I even documented on a Friday bullet points post. (I had forgotten about that until I went to make a tag for Atlantic Fleet and found I already had one.”

I let Atlantic Fleet sit for a bit, finally picking it up to play last month.

Atlantic Fleet by Killerfish Games is a tactical turn-based naval combat simulation that focuses on the war between Britain and Germany in WWII.  You can replay the surface and submarine encounters that characterized the Battle of the Atlantic before the US Navy showed up.

For a game that is $9.99 it has a lot to recommend it.

The models of the ships and aircraft are good.  The game runs well, being both stable and resource efficient.

The mechanics of the game are reasonably simple once you grasp them.  For complexity, the game lies somewhere between the first person whimsy of World of Warships and the grognard impenetrability of Storm Eagle’s Jutland series.

There is a tutorial that guides you through playing the game.  It doesn’t exactly hold you by the hand and guide you… it throws up a text box that requires you to both read and comprehend what it is telling you, so you need to take a minute rather than just jumping in… but there isn’t a lot to learn so once you get the basics things fall into place.

Once there you can pick one of the pre-set scenarios or start a campaign.  I prefer the scenarios, which cover a range of historical engagements.  I gravitated to the pursuit of the Admiral Graff Spee, an encounter that my grandfather deemed important, making me memorize the names of the British cruisers involved. (Achilles, Ajax, and Exeter.)

Of course, all is not perfection.

I found the basic AI to be a bit simple.  It does what it needs to do and at least doesn’t lock on and hit with every shot.  But it doesn’t seem quite up to the task of dealing with even a dolt like myself.  I have played the Graff Spee scenario a number of times, playing each side, and I have never lost outright.  My first run, when I was just learning and made many mistakes, I managed to sink the Graff Spee with desperate torpedo run, though I lost two cruisers, with a third damaged, in the process.

Later, when I figured things out a bit, I could zero out the Graff Spee without loss and then re-run the scenario and kill all three British cruisers and sail away barely touched, like Captain Langsdorff’s dream.

The Bismark scenarios likewise led to some different historical endings.  I managed to sink both the Bismark and the Prinz Eugen with HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales.

Bismark, turrets wrecked, going down by the stern

I appreciate that you can use your skill to change historical events.  HMS Hood doesn’t always have to explode… though I made that happen.

HMS Hood goes up just like it did in 1940

It was more a matter of my being able to change events, sometimes drastically, by just watching how the AI works rather than because I posses some special skill at naval combat. (Which I most certainly do not.)  You can engage the “hard” level AI and “elite” AI gunnery, but that quickly becomes pretty viscous.  AI is always a dicey issue because you want a game to be accessible (i.e. shouldn’t dunk new players mercilessly) but if it is too easy then things become tedious quickly.

This isn’t a huge fault, and given the game price the AI is pretty good, but it did strike me initially.  And the default AI fights on to the bitter end.  I had the Hood firing away at me still when its rear turrets were swamped by sea water washing over the rear decks.

Under the waves, submarine combat is just okay.  You get to lurk and go to periscope depth and unleash your deadly fish.

Avoiding detection

But this is not a submarine simulator, and the submarine aspect feels very simplistic if you have ever played one.

The submarine scenarios emphasize this.  They tend to start with the sub in position.  You launch your torpedoes then dive and evade.  If you aimed true and hit your target, you win.  If you missed you likely lose.

HMS Glorious takes three torpedoes

Meanwhile anti-submarine warfare feels very simple and haphazard… which makes it pretty realistic for the time.  You get a sonar contact with an estimated bearing and range, and then you either pop away at periscopes with you guns or you drop depth charges.  Both tend to feel like throwing stones in the ocean which, again, is probably realistic.  The most exciting moment in ASW for me so far was having the HMS Queen Elizabeth fire her 15″ guns at my periscope.

Then there is the aircraft component which I found unsatisfying.  I am not sure what I would suggest as an alternative, but even in a simple simulation like Atlantic Fleet the aircraft feel tacked on.  The aircraft models are nice though.  I will give them that.

But perhaps the most unsatisfying part of the game for me is how turns are managed.  I don’t mind turn-based combat.  Not everything has to be real time and one likes a respite now and again to assess the situation.  But how turns are structured, and how that structure influences the game irks me a bit.

Let us say you have a scenario with two friendly ships and two enemy, which I will designate F1 and F2 for friendlies and H1 and H2 for the hostiles.  This is how a turn plays out:

You give F1 its movement order, then F1 moves.  After that you select F1’s firing option, then F1 fires.  Following that you do the same thing for F2, each moving and firing in their own turn.  Then H1 moves then fires, followed by H2, which moves then fires.

A little clunky, but not the end of the world.

However, in order to fit this all together, the firing phase is rather simple.  You designate your target then select which of the weapon systems on the ship you care to use.  For a battleship, as an example, you can use main armament with armor piercing rounds, main armament with high explosive rounds, secondary armament with AP rounds, secondary armament with HE rounds, torpedoes, or a star shell to light up targets for night combat.

So you can fire your main guns, or your secondary guns, or torpedoes, or an illumination shell.  They are all mutually exclusive.  Furthermore, your guns get to fire every turn, there being no reload time differential between main and secondary armament.  Effectively a battleships 15″ guns fire just as fast as a wee destroyers 4″ guns or a cruisers 8″ guns.

Torpedoes do get locked out until they reload, so you cannot launch a spread of those every turn.  That would be completely unbalancing.  But when it comes to the choice between primary and secondary guns, you wouldn’t ever fire the secondaries unless the mains were knocked out.

Ideally, I would have preferred to have a simultaneous scheme where you give movement and firing orders for all weapons systems and then the turn resolves, accounting for timers for things like guns with differing rates of fire.  That would have been a better solution.

However, that is asking a lot for ten bucks.

And for that price the game delivers some pretty good value.  In addition to the historical scenarios, you have a wartime strategic simulation campaign, where you place your ships and fight battles as they come up, along with a “build your own navy” campaign where you have to earn ships as you go along.  The former is pretty amazing and intense, the latter is a bit silly, but all told you can fight a lot of battles.  I like the historical scenarios, which are quick battles, and the ability to create your own line ups for such encounters.  I’ve been battling the Tirpitz against various Royal Navy battleships.

So, to sum up, Atlantic Fleet might not be the naval combat simulator you want, but it is likely the one you need.  If you have a naval combat itch to scratch, this will do it for you at a reasonable price.  Well worth the time and money.

Meanwhile Killerfish Games has a Pacific Fleet version of the game in the works according to their site and just launched a new title called Cold Waters.

Now available

Cold Waters is a simulation of the naval actions in Tom Clancy’s book Red Storm Rising. Those actions were based off of a scenarios played with the table top game Harpoon which was later turned into a series of computer games which included the events from the book, making this new game a re-imagining of a conversion of an homage or something.  I am not sure.

But it is $39.99, so I will be interested to see what the reviews say about it.  That is past the point of impulse purchase price for me.

Friday Inaugural Bullet Points

Today we get a new president, the 10th in my lifetime and the third during the life of the blog.  The state government here in California has declared itself opposed in all ways possible to the new president, which I find mildly amusing because the last governor of the state was Arnold Schwarzenegger and in the last election we not only failed ban the death penalty, most voters actually went for the ballot initiative that promised to speed up the process of killing.  How very liberal we are.

Back on the video game front, it is a rainy Friday morning and I have a few small stories I want to mention but which are probably not worth a whole post.  None of them, to my knowledge, involve the new president.

Pokemon Billionaires

An article up over at Venture Beat gives the total 2016 revenue for Pokemon Go as $950 million.  For a game that launched on July 6th of 2016, that is a pretty impressive take.  To put that into MMO perspective, World of Warcraft was raking in over a billion dollars a year at its peak, but nowhere near double Pokemon Go’s six month total.

PokemonGO_500px

Now, of course, there are a lot of “buts” to that story.  The earnings were very much front loaded, with the initial $600 million coming in the first 90 days before revenues began to taper off.  This isn’t going to be a year over year Juggernaut like WoW.   And, of course, revenue isn’t cash in the pocket.  Apple takes their cut off the top, then Niantic takes theirs, after which they pay the Pokemon Company their licensing cut, from which eventually Nintendo gets some money.

But for the meager amount of effort Nintendo put in to the whole thing, it did pay mighty dividends, boosting sales of other Pokemon games and even of 3DS hardware.  Even if everybody stops playing Pokemon Go tomorrow, Nintendo, Game Freak, and the Pokemon Company have done very well out of the deal.

Hero’s Song Refund

We heard the tale of the end of Hero’s Song late last month as Smed’s first post SOE/Daybreak gaming venture had to fold up its tents and call it a day.  The game walked a troubled path, with a failed Kickstarter campaign and, later, an Indiegogo campaign that fell short of the funding target.  But with Indiegogo you get to keep the money pledged, even if you don’t make your goal, so Pixelmage got some money out of the deal.  It just wasn’t enough to carry on.

Then Pixelmage did the unexpected and said they would give people their money back.  And they did.  I got my refund via PayPal for the two licenses I bought.

Refund

Refund

Not every crowd-funded project is going to have the luxury of doing that, but it is nice to see one make the effort when they had the means.

Refund Splurge

So there I had $28 in my PayPal wallet, and I never carry a balance with PayPal, so I turned around and blew the whole lot on three games from Steam wish list.  I grabbed Orwell (plus the soundtrack), Atlantic Fleet, and Death Ray Manta.  So those, along with my Steam Winter Sale purchases, give me a small pile of games to work on.

Ruse of the Day

One of the things that Pandemic Legion does is put out invites to high profile players in other groups.  Asher reports that he has three such invites to different corps in PL.  Apparently gigX,  the leader of Circle-of-Two, took one of those invites, joined ElitistOps, (which has been part of GoonSwarm, Band of Brothers, and Pandemic Legion) and then let his mates in CO2 blow up three of his capital ships (Moros, Apostle, and Revelation) just to mess with their kill board stats before rejoining CO2.  Was it worth it?

New Eden Good News/Bad News

Elsewhere on the EVE Online front, we got a look into what is coming up in the game, which includes the ability to insure ships in citadels finally.  On the down side, the game has been experiencing rubberbanding, latency, and desync issues since the last patch.  CCP is working on that, but it isn’t fixed just yet.

So that is all I have.  Back to the rains here.  We only seem to have two settings in our part of the state; drought or deluge.  At least during the deluge I can take a nice long shower.