The Flare Path’s World Of Warships Apprenticeship

World of Warships has been flashing its signal lamp at me for several months. Ignoring messages like…

– .. — –..– / -.– — ..- / .-.. — …- . -.. / .– — .-. .-.. -.. / — ..-. / – .- -. -.- … –..– / .– …. -.– / -. — – / –. .. …- . / .– — .– … / .- / – .-. -.– ..–..

“Tim, you loved World of Tanks, why not give WoWS a try?”

.. – / .. … / ..-. .-. .

“It’s free!”

and – …. . / .–. .. –. . — -. … / -.. .- -. -.-. . / -… . .- ..- – .. ..-. ..- .-.. .-.. -.–

“The pigeons dance beautifully.” (Not 100% sure I recorded that one correctly.)

…hasn’t been easy, but somehow I managed it. Until Tuesday.

I kept my distance mainly by dwelling on conceptual misgivings and productivity concerns. Surely Wargaming would struggle to find fun in featureless ocean tracts and dawdling battleships? If, by chance, they succeeded, did I really want to find myself back in full-blown WoT mode, gleefully dutifully contentedly grinding my way up Sequoia-sized tech trees day after day while other worthy wargames and sims sat gathering dust on my hard drive?

After ten hours and 70 battles – the blink of an eye in WoWS terms – I reckon I’ve seen just about enough to realise that I was foolish to question whether Wargaming could carry off the concept, and right to be concerned that their latest creation would headcrab me in exactly the same way its caterpillared forerunner did.

The folk behind this Charybdisian whirlpool know a thing or two about ensnaring the sceptical, the impatient, and the feckless. Within five minutes of installing it you’ll almost certainly have slung your first shell or, at the very least, sighted your first foe. The tutorial tedium, set-up rigmarole, and lobby thumb-twiddling that emulsifies the early phases of many weightier sims is totally absent in WoWS. Prod the bright ‘BATTLE!’ button in the top-centre of the port screen then reach instinctively for the WASD keys and you’re away.

Low tier scraps are dominated by cruisers, the game’s equivalent of a Main Battle Tank or an assault rifle-clutching grunt. Usually, teams – you’re never alone at the beginning of a WoWS clash – also sport a few destroyers: fast scouts that, in the right hands, dash about revealing targets, loosing torpedoes, laying smoke screens, and grabbing victory zones. Other vessel types like aircraft carriers and battleships begin appearing once you’ve earned the XP and credits necessary to clamber a little higher on the level ladder.

Limiting unit diversity early on isn’t quite as miserly or short-sighted as it seems. It leaves newcomers free to concentrate on developing basic WoWS skills like long-distance shell lobbing and short-notice land avoiding. Back when I was busy wrinkling my nose at what looked at first glance like an unimaginative attempt to move the WoT formula sideways into a new setting, I’m not sure I’d fully appreciated just how satisfying long-range munitions exchanges would be. I’d underestimated the pleasure pay-off that comes from firing a broadside at an empty patch of ocean far ahead of a speeding foe, then watching as the high-flying HE arcs across miles of sky and plunges unerringly onto that foe’s foam-flecked deck.

Even more gratifying are the times when you clobber out-of-sight enemies. Think you’re safe just because you’ve made it into the lee of that island, Mr Destroyer? Think again! Thanks to the black magic of ballistic trajectories and target leading I can, with luck, toss a fusillade right over that bluff and straight down your funnels.

Not that kills are the most satisfying experience offered by low tier tussles. My most gratifying moments thus far have come in the midst of torpedo attacks. Faced with a phalanx of fast-closing tin fish, nothing beats deftly twirling the wheel so the marine missiles swim harmlessly down your flanks.

Some clumsy ship purchase and research choices mean, ten hours in, I’m still not in a position to buy a torp delivery vessel of my own. Like WoT, WoWS features several scarily complex tech trees and a needlessly convoluted currency system. Selecting optimum upgrade paths means wading around in bilges awash with stats and demonstrating the kind of decisiveness I usually reserve for eleventh hour Christmas shopping sorties. While part of the joy of this game is the fact you can slip into it without (a) learning a new language (b) poring over tactical guides, or (c) being abused by foul-mouthed teammates (I’ve yet to witness one bad-tempered exchange) it stands to reason that players that do bother to read the guides and engage with the intricacies of inter-mission ship buffing are likely to sink less often than dolts like myself who prefer to rely on gut instinct and impulse purchases.

Is it possible to buy a combat edge via the Premium Shop? Not having encountered DLC ‘premium ships’ like the Atlanta and Atago, I’m not in a position to answer that question yet (Perhaps a more experienced WoWS seafarer would care to comment?). On tiers one and two there’s certainly no sign of cash-tainted results. In the nursery stews where I’ve inadvertently spent a large proportion of the last few days, a little common sense (Pick your fights. Use islands for cover. Don’t run aground. etc) seems to go an awfully long way. In fact I was quietly congratulating myself on my impressive performance figures until I realised that ‘co-op battle’ was WoWS shorthand for ‘bot match’.

The ‘I’ve finally stumbled upon a multiplayer game that favours easily flustered, slightly cackhanded middle-aged simmers!’ thoughts vanished like startled reef dwellers when I discovered there was another far less impressive page to my stats screen.

Even if victories and kills prove more elusive in future, I can’t imagine myself and World of Warships going our separate ways any time soon. Navigating the tangled tech tree isn’t something I’m particularly looking forward to, but there’s no way I’m jumping ship before I’ve tasted combat as a carrier captain and a destroyer skipper (hopefully, my PT Boats: Knights of the Sea training will come in handy in the DD role). I’m also looking forward to ruling the waves from the bridge of RN vessels (British ships are scheduled to arrive some time after the Russians heave into view). And, obviously, I’ve got my fingers crossed Wargaming will rethink their silly ‘no submarines, Martian tripods, or krakens’ stance at some point.

*****************************************

 

The Flare Path Foxer

Nine perplexing postcards + eleven perspicacious puzzle ponderers = seven pinpointed places.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

a Fort Eben-Emael (Rorschach617)
b Villers-Bocage (Stugle)
c Normandie Dock, St. Nazaire (Stugle)
d Site of Heydrich assassination (unsolved)
e Site of Ludendorff Bridge (Zogg)
f Campo Imperatore Hotel (LordBilisknir)
g Corregidor (gnuif)
h Bridges over Tavronitis river, Maleme (unsolved)
i Vemork Hydroelectric Plant (mrpier)

****************

Foxer Fact #766

Several famous British foxer fabricators served their country during WW2. The Manchester Guardian’s Herbert Cape worked alongside Constance Babington Smith at the Central Interpretation Unit. Tom Gough (Punch and Radio Fun) was the Ministry of Information brain behind posters like ‘Dig For Victory’ and ‘Fags Are Their Flare Path’. The Telegraph’s Milton Willoughby flew Blenheims, Stirlings, and Lancasters during a four-year RAF career that ended somewhat mysteriously on the night of August 12 1943. (Willoughby’s Lancaster, W4787 ‘Defox This’, failed to return from a raid on Berlin. Believed lost over the North Sea, wreckage was eventually discovered in 2011 in a peat bog near Sosnowiec, Poland)

All answers in one thread, please.

71 Comments

  1. AFKAMC says:

    FOXER: Top left a D.H. Mosquito?

    • Stugle says:

      In the photo of the smiling couple flanked by spectacularly behatted officers, is that Nikita Khruschchev?

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        The picture right in the middle is a picture of Valentina Kerman Tereshkova, Khrushchev and “fellow cosmonauts”. (I recognise Yuri Gagarin to her right, and I’m sure I can drum up the names of the others)

        • deejayem says:

          One of them is Valery Bykovsky, first person to spend 5 consecutive days in space.

          • deejayem says:

            Tereshkova and Bykovsky were known as the “Romeo and Juliet” space team, if that helps at all.

          • JB says:

            Interesting. Cynthia was another name for Artemis, and is mentioned in Romeo and Juliet if memory serves.

    • Syt says:

      Turret bottom left could be a T-72?

    • All is Well says:

      The tank is a Lion of Babylon, I think (Iraqi variant of the T-72)

    • JB says:

      I believe the desktop icon is from Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I think the car in the middle is an Austin 8 saloon or an Austin 7 Ruby (or Pearl), but the top of the windows isn’t quite the same.

    • All is Well says:

      The glider is a DFS Olypmia Meise if I’m not mistaken (a japanese one specifically).
      link to arawasi-wildeagles.blogspot.se

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        Good call, I was on a similar track looking at pre-war German designs, but I thought it was a Grunau Baby, you’re definitely correct though with the A-1033 registration.

      • Shiloh says:

        It may help or hinder, but “Meise” means “tit” in German – the bird, not the other one…

    • AFKAMC says:

      The seven wonders of the ancient world include:

      Hanging Gardens of Babylon
      Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
      Statue of Zeus at Olympia

      • Shiloh says:

        Hmm, I was thinking that – but there are too many clues (nine, by my count), unless Roman’s duplicated a couple.

        • All is Well says:

          Maybe it’s just “wonders” then? The Mosquito was called the Wooden Wonder, after all, but wasn’t exactly a wonder of the world.

      • SpiceTheCat says:

        The stamp at top is from Rhodesia and comemorates the centenary of the birth of Cecil Rhodes.

        So, add the Colossus of Rhodes to the list.

        • Shiloh says:

          Indeed, and Khrushchev et al are standing atop Lenin’s Mausoleum – in Moscow, not Halicarnassus, obviously… looks like you might be right AFKAMC.

      • Stugle says:

        In this vein, the Soviet picture was taken at Lenin’s mausoleum.

        • SpiceTheCat says:

          So we’re looking for something to map to the Lighthouse at Alexandria and the Great Pyramid of Giza…

          • Llewyn says:

            The design top left is a cross-section of construction of the Eddystone lighthouse. Obviously.

            link to en.wikipedia.org

          • Llewyn says:

            And you’re on your own with that pyramidal sculpture thing, it seems to be the very definition of Google Hell.

          • Stugle says:

            I’m glad to see I’m not the only one vexed by that thing. “Tubular tower”, “Tubular tower open”, “Stepped tubular tower”, “Tubular spire”, “Open spire”… Nothing yet. Oh, and please accept a doff of the hat for that lighthouse plan.

          • Rorschach617 says:

            Eddystone Lighthouse!

            And there I was checking old BBC testcards, because I remembered they used to transmit from Alexandria Palace.

            Then I remembered it was Alexandra Palace!

            And was duly ashamed :)

          • Rorschach617 says:

            What if:

            The tubular thing is not a specific item, but a general term? Is there, in Architecture, a system where the support struts for a skyscraper tower form that shape?

    • mrpier says:

      It doesn’t look like the Mosquito tail.

      • mrpier says:

        …because it’s the Mosquito wing of course, durr.

      • lglethal says:

        The background picture bottom right is, if im not mistaken, a picture from the camera on the Pheonix Lander.

    • corinoco says:

      The bottom right structure is one of two things – either a model of a skyscraper structure type called ‘Bundled Tube Structure’ as used on the Sears/Willis Tower et. al. or a Art Deco / Modernist chadelier. The whitish panel at the bottom makes me think the latter.

      It might also be a 1930’s German railway station spire, they liked that sort of thing (hey it is the Foxer, right?) Oh, thats three things… Icould keep looking, but CarlosSainz is OK, (yay!) and Quali is about to start so I’d best be off.

  2. phanteh says:

    As much as I think I’d enjoy the game, as a WoT vet, I simply cannot bring myself to play another Wargaming product (reasons).

    If anyone identifies with that, check out Armored* Warfare – it hit open beta yesterday.

    * Armoured, damnit!

    • Rorschach617 says:

      WoT vet since 0.6.4, and playing WoWs since Open Beta.

      This game fixes a lot of problems I have with WoT.
      Unlike WoT, any ship you are in can still be useful and dangerous, no matter what the matchmaker throws against you.
      The maps are, mostly, large enough for variety and experimentation.
      The game doesn’t end inside 3 minutes.

      But yes, it still needs a fair amount of work and the readiness to follow some of the community’s advice to really shine.

      p.s. Mr Stone, I believe the Japanese Destroyers are what you are looking for. Get to the Minekaze at Tier 5 and enjoy the torpedo-ey goodness :)

      • Katar says:

        The only map that I absolutely hate is the Ocean map. It’s good for a Battleship player as you can basically shoot at anything that has been spotted by your team. Playing as a Cruiser is terrible on that map and Destroyers only marginally better. It’s obviously the most accurate map for a realistic naval engagement but it works terribly when there are more Battleships then any other type of ship in most higher tier matches.

        Japanese Destroyers are nice until you come up against competent players when it takes a large slice of luck to hit anyone with torpedoes at anything other then short range.

        The American Destroyers are majorly annoying with such a short torpedo range, and the Russian are going to be even shorter, but actually having guns that can traverse and shoot quickly and a fairly long range is far more fun then attempting to launch torpedoes from stealth at targets 10km+ away watching them almost always miss and waiting 90-120 seconds to do it again. It’s actually almost better only being able to shoot torpedoes 5.5km as you can actually hit stuff reliably (for torpedoes) at that range but it takes luck to get that close.

        • Rorschach617 says:

          What you said about Japanese DDs is true, but that is why I think the Minekaze is the gem in the IJN DD tree, so many inexperience players at low tiers :)

          You do not know true map hatred until you have tried to sail a Kongo in “Big Race” or “Solomon Islands”. Turn to avoid island, turn to avoid map edge, turn to avoid teammate, turn to avoid another island, turn to avoid those torpedoes, turn to avoid the first island again, fire the guns!, turn…

          And there is nothing better than a US DD for killing Japanese DDs (and the Russians will not have the gun traverse for close range fighting btw). I drive those very aggressively and push the enemy DDs back out of torp range. The torpedoes are only there as a killer punch if you get to ambush bigger targets in close quarters (like any battleship that strays too close to an island chain).

          • Katar says:

            I’ve avoided playing Battleships or Carriers (but I think they look really boring to play) in the rather stupid/naive hope of waiting for the RN to arrive and playing as their big ships. They will probably be terrible and I’ll be bored of the grind long before they appear.

            Aren’t the Japanese BBs more manoeuvrable then their American counterparts?

            Tier 5 does seem to be a good sweet spot. The tier 6 ships quite often seem to be downgrades on tier 5 and suffer far more in the matchmaking when lined up against tier 8 ships. There are also a lot less planes flying around to spot your destroyer or torpedoes and ruin everything.

          • Rorschach617 says:

            Whether playing BBs and CVs is boring is not in question (carriers are boring, but can be a change of pace, and BBs are not boring when you are dodging encroaching Destroyers), I just think it is a good idea to play everything, that way you know of the difficulties (or lack thereof) that the opposing players have to deal with when making your attack.

            Also, Japanese BBs are faster, but not more manoeuvrable than US BBs. The IJN BBs have an advantage in straight line speed, but the USN can turn quicker, which is pretty useful when dodging fire and getting your turrets lined up.

          • Katar says:

            Rereading that earlier post it is easy to misconstrue. I only meant to say carriers look really boring not BBs.

            I think I am going to try the battleship trees at some point because I did’t realise just how far away the Royal Navy potentially was when I made the decision to stick to destroyers and crusiers.

          • Rorschach617 says:

            Like I said, learning to play BBs helps if you all you want to do is kill them.

            Expect to get owned by destroyers in the early tiers though, and try to stay in open waters :)

        • NegativeZero says:

          The Ocean map can be pretty awful on lower-end battleships too. While playing through the IJN BB line, I got that map on the Kawachi twice. Thing has the second-lowest gun range of all ships in the game and handles like you’re driving Fred Flintstone’s car. I don’t think I got to land a single hit.

          As for the diff between IJN and USN battleships, it’s not just the IJN having faster speed. They’re generally less armored and designed to engage from longer ranges. USN battleships are better up close.

          Seems that goes for IJN cruisers too. Fast, average guns, great torpedoes, enormous citadels and not nearly enough armor. Hot them on the side and they explode quite nicely.

          Looking forward to the Royal Navy turning up eventually.

        • Lord Byte says:

          As a Japanese destroyer pilot myself… I’ve not had any major issues keeping my kill count up once past the Minekase. Trust in all that experience you built up in the previous battles. Yes your torpedoes are slower (but longer distance) so you have to predict longer into the future.

          AND DON’T go for wide spreads. NEVER. It feels like then you’ll at least hit, but you won’t do the damage to sink, EVER. Once I showed my friend he swapped over to tight spreads again and wonder wonder, he started getting decent scores again.

          • Katar says:

            I’ve had no trouble keeping up kill count on the Mutsuki, I have never used the wide spread since I discovered 10-20 games in that you could change the spread.

            It is a totally different style of play and I find it rather boring compared to the Farragut. I just find I have more fun being able to actually shoot at something effectively every now and again, rather then skulking around for 75 seconds waiting for torpedoes to come off cooldown. It is certainly more fun for me to blow the crap out of an enemy Destroyer with guns (not as satisfying as blowing one away as a Battleship but still) then having to run away because your torpedoes are on cooldown.

          • yurusei says:

            What Katar said, and new players should also learn the art of “Citadelling” your foes. It’s the equivalent of a headshot on WoWs and deals massive damage, especially if you’re in a BB.

  3. Stevostin says:

    Just a quick word to say how great cover images for the article always are with the Flare Path. Never failed to get me curious/enchanted.

  4. Rorschach617 says:

    Last weeks Foxer. I swear to you all that I followed the length of the Alexandria-Mersa Matruh road on Google Maps looking for anything that looked like it could be H. And having failed to find it, did similar to Northern Crete, but decided that Crete was too green to be the Foxer. Bugger!

    • Shiloh says:

      I feel your pain – in the mistaken belief that (e) was the Meuse, I journeyed (virtually) up and down the western bank of that bloody river trying to find that pic.

      Needless to say, I’ve crossed “see the river Meuse” off my bucket list.

    • Stugle says:

      I’ve circled all of bloody Sicily (and a good stretch of the Boot of Italy), combining Google Street View and satellite view, trying to find the combination of a) road bridge, b) railroad bridge, and c) river or dry river bed. I was STILL following some random railroad track north of Licata yesterday evening, in the forlorn hope that I would hit a match. Did consider Crete at one point, but got really hung up on the similarity of that bridge to Italian railroad bridges. I spent HOURS… Not that I’m venting or anything.

      • Stugle says:

        [Redacted] I just looked at the actual bridge and it’s not even a railroad bridge… Allow me to swear violently for a bit, in the comfort of my own head.

    • Shiloh says:

      Well, there’s something I didn’t know – I was trying to find the view over the Rhine at Remagen for closure to last week’s Foxer, but apparently Google doesn’t “do” Street View in Germany.

      So as an experiment, I tried to “drive” across the border between the Netherlands and Germany and this happens:

      link to google.co.uk

      Does Schengen not apply to virtual tourists?

      • Stugle says:

        It’s a tangent, but… Germany has much stricter privacy laws than most other countries. If you zoom out to the country level, you’ll find plenty of Google Street View locations, but there are definitely Street View deserts – compare, say, the French countryside (all blue) with Germany across the Rhine. Anyway, tangent done.

  5. mariandavid says:

    Oh thank Gawd – that’s what my stats look like in WoW and I thought I was an utter failure. To answer the question Premium ships usually make little difference – I used two in Beta Testing – though I admit that the elite Soviet destroyer is a dream to play (but like all Premium’s does not help you go up the ladder).

    Just to add one point though, applicable especially to readers of this site: WoW is a game, not by any stretch a simulation with all sorts of devices in play to ensure that all players in all sorts of ships have a chance against all other sorts. For example torpedoes come with endless reloads and an absurdly short reload time while massive battleships can be set on fire with peculiar ease by lesser cruisers.

    But regardless genuine fun with astounding graphics.

  6. Veles says:

    Landing a string of torpedo hits is immensely satisfying

    • xyzzy frobozz says:

      Haha!

      It really is! There’s nothing better than knowing your full torpedo spread is going straight unto the side of that lumbering BB.

      I find DDs to be the most rewarding to play. Sure, you’ll rarely survive the round, but using cover and speed to pull off ambushes is hugely satisfying. My best round was five kills (running a PvP K/D of just over 1), and it was running a DD on big race. Fire, duck behind islands, ambush again.

      Immense fun.

  7. WiggumEsquilax says:

    Premium vessels run the gamut from underpowered to overpowered, with most being more-or-less balanced. The exception being that the only dedicated anti-aircraft ships currently in the game are premiums. Wargaming doesn’t seem to want AAA ships impeding regular tech tree progression, so they all get gated off.

    The Yubari was only available for pre-orders. The Atlanta costs real money. I suspect that the Akizuki and Dido classes will be in the same boat.

  8. Geebs says:

    I tried to use “charibdysian” in an essay once, by my professor shut me down straight away. He told me to stop being scilla.

  9. racccoon says:

    The thing I do not get about Wargaming.net…
    Is the left out none includance/reluctance and annoyance of not to include a major force.. the British, in their game developments!!
    Its like the dev team is totally blind by the history of World Wars. Their last ditch efforts to include the British is humiliating and disappointing to say the least.

    I do like the game but I’m constantly annoyed by theirs games lack of knowledge of WW’s history..

    • Jane Doe says:

      When economic interest and historical accuracy collide, economic interest will always win. Wargaming is not an educational insitution that is interested in lecturing people. Its a company that wants to earn money.

      They probably gathered data on their customer base for years during development, which showed that the pacific theater (US vs IJN) was the most wanted clash of titans, followed by the Germans and their legendary Bismarck/Tirpitz. Ask arround how many british warships your friends know by name. The Hood will come up first in almost all cases, which was sunk by what? Oh yes, the Bismarck and the Prinz Eugen! After the Hood usually a long silence follows …

    • VonArens says:

      @racccoon : Not to shatter your illusion about that RNs role in naval warfare during WW2, but you are aware than the vast majority of proper naval battles was fought between the IJN & USN right ? So in that sense it does make sense to start with those 2 factions, besides the Kriegsmarine (parts of it anyways) and the Sovjets (I will enjoy the fantasy ships) are coming in 9 days with the RN not far behind.

      • Katar says:

        It makes perfect sense to include the IJN and USN right at the start. It only makes financial sense to then include the Soviet and German navies filled with paper and fantasy ships before the RN. Without having played the Soviet destroyer line it does look pretty powerful for a navy that did almost bugger all in the time period the ships cover which isn’t just WW2 there are pre-WWI ships.

        The only ETA I’ve seen on the RN is 2016 which is a pretty large window. I can see the RN causing real problems for game balance, their destroyers and light cruisers were focused on two things ASW and AA for convoy protection. Subs aren’t in that game and AA isn’t that useful a lot of the time, really boring and nets you almost no reward in the game.

        • yurusei says:

          If so, the RN’s DDs and CLs could be more impervious to torpedo attacks, that while not that useful (they dodge them easy anyway) would still mean RN players can be a little more risk-taking (ie not taking time to dodge and re-align guns) compared to other players.

      • Rorschach617 says:

        No illusions to be shattered here.

        Firstly, the game spans from turn of the century to end of WW2 (hence all the low tier Imperial Russian ships in the new tech tree). It makes game sense to choose nations that were at the forefront of naval technology between 1910 to 1950.
        So thats the IJN, USN, RN, Italy and France. Add Imperial Germany to the list as they went through a major Naval rearmament project just before WW1 (and played second fiddle to the panzers in WW2) and you have all the major players in that timeline. But this is Wargaming, so Russian egos have to be massaged and they get included before actual seafaring nations.

        I won’t throw my toys out of the pram until WG decide that the Chinese market needs to be catered for and they get a techtree :)

        • VonArens says:

          @Rorschach617 “I won’t throw my toys out of the pram until WG decide that the Chinese market needs to be catered for and they get a techtree :)” Oh you mean like they did in WoT with all those sovjet tanks re-branded as chinese ? :P

          • Rorschach617 says:

            Sorry for the late replay, I get these rage-induced blackouts :)

            Let’s just say that millenia from now, intelligences far beyond our comprehension will discover my pram toys floating through their space-empire, turn to one another (as far as a hive-mind will allow) and sign/gesture “Binary Fission me, that guy really hated the Chinese Tech Tree!”

    • xyzzy frobozz says:

      They take so many liberties with history that it’s a moot point.

      I’m not aware of any occasion during either World War when a mixed force of Japanese and American warships engaged in a major battle with a mixed force of Japanese and American warships.