A Captain of the Second League

Ranked up!
Ranked up!

Rank 14 and owner of the flag marking me as a member of the Second League… that is really available to anyone who is playing the ranked battles in World of Warships at all. You can’t lose ranks until you get to 14, so unless you just never win a match, you will enter the rarefied heights of the Second League.

Now that I have reached a rank that I could _lose_, I am reluctant to play any more. If I remember right, the next rank, 13, gets some new camouflage, and then 12 gets nothing, and 11 gets some more signal flags. 11 is as far as I can get with my ships — after that, I have to stop. Or buy a premium ship and get boosted into Tier VIII. I don’t see much point in that, though, except as a generator of Free XP for my lower tier ships.

I was sailing terribly in the match that got me into the Second League. The Furutaka is not an an obvious choice for these battles. It has terrible range on its main guns. They are slow to target and slow to turn, though deadly once they do hit. The torpedoes have exceptional range, but if the enemy cruisers are doing their jobs — and in ranked battles, they usually are — then I will be denied decent shots.

So I was dancing in and out of range, trying to lure them into our ambush… and taking a lot of fire. We eventually won on points. Our battleships denied them their capture point, while we were fighting from within ours. Also, they lost points for losing more ships than we lost.

It wasn’t a decisive victory, and I didn’t contribute much to it (except for painting a huge target on my ship’s hull and taking the heat off better ships). But you sail the ship you have.

I did grind a little with the destroyer Isokaze and researched the Minekaze. I still have to research the Furutaka’s third hull before starting work on the new destroyer. To that end, I’ve dropped out of ranked battles for now and begun focusing on regular random battles. I’ll continue the fight for the Second League once the steel beneath that giant target painted on the hull is a little thicker.

The IJN Welcomes You to Tier V

The Furutaka, a T5 Cruiser
The Furutaka, a T5 Cruiser

It was only fair that Suzuki Senchou was offered command of the Imperial Japanese Navy cruiser Furutaka on her addition to my fleet. It was his stellar record on the Kuma that not only drove the research of the new line of cruisers, but also drove improvements on other ships of the line. However, the deeper waters of Tier V engagements may tarnish the record that has brought my record of wins and losses almost to “average”.

World of Warships remains a great bit of fun for when I just have a few minutes to play. Matches are set at a maximum of twenty minutes, but often don’t last that long.

Since my last update, I’ve filled up my Tier IV roster with the destroyer Isokaze, the battleship Myogi and the aircraft carrier Hosho. Where the cruisers are great all-purpose ships — fast, nimble, powerful both at medium and short range — each of the others offers their own style of play.

I, naturally, can’t help comparing them to fantasy RPG classes.

Destroyers are the rogues — sneaking around, catching ships by surprise. They kill battleships and aircraft carriers.

Cruisers are the fighters. You don’t ignore a cruiser that has you in her sights.

Battleships are the rangers. They cannot hit anything at medium range, but they can stop you from getting close to a capture point by shooting you from beyond your range.

Aircraft carriers are the support. Fighters to take out torpedo planes and bombers, torpedo planes and bombers to help soften the enemy enough for allied cruisers and destroyers to move in. Nobody gives them much credit, but it’s surprising how often they’re at or near the top of the charts at the end of a battle.

I started off pretty terrible with destroyers. I can’t just run around looking for a battleship or aircraft carrier to play with; cruisers will cut me to pieces. And I really can’t do much to them. Cruisers can easily avoid torpedoes, and they have superior artillery. Most destroyer captains try to fill choke points with torpedoes and hope a cruiser stumbles into them. That actually works some of the time.

Best bet is to follow some other cruisers into battle and help out where possible until the stage of the game where the enemy battleships are spread out — and then go to town. I’ve been those battleship captains who see a destroyer blip on the radar… and then vanish. All I can do is turn toward the torpedoes I know are on their way, and hope that an aircraft carrier wasn’t sending a torpedo plane for crossfire.

I haven’t spent even a ruble on the game yet. I may never hit tier 10. But I’m not playing for that. I’m playing for a short bit of fun. Other people have their mobile games. I have Warships :)

World of Warships?

Terror on the High Seas, me
Terror on the High Seas, me

I’ve always sucked at team based PvP. Whether in fantasy MMOs or whatever, team PvP requires an instinct toward knowing your abilities, the abilities of your team, of your enemy, and the map, all at once. This is why I’ve not been able to get into MOBA games like League of Legends and such.

I don’t like being terrible at stuff. Worse, I hate for people to know that I am terrible at stuff. Hence why I spent so long in MMOs playing support classes. The kind of people you bring to fill out the team. Druid and rogue in EQ, bard in EQ2 and Rift, priest and rogue in WoW. Priest in WoW might sound high pressure, but it was really just looking at a grid with everyone’s names on it and pressing the red buttons. I think that was before they nerfed WoW plugins. Back when I played, being a priest was just staying out of the fire and pressing red buttons.

Past few years, though, I’ve started trying for leadership roles. Tanking isn’t super hard, but usually party management falls to the tank. You pretty much always have to at least pretend you know what comes next, and party members have to have enough confidence in you that they will go along with your decisions.

I wasn’t enough tank in EQ2 to really take on the role (didn’t raid, didn’t like the single group instances much). In Neverwinter, though — you could get “good enough” gear fairly easily, and I started learning how to tank. FFXIV’s superior dungeon grouping and, honestly, superior dungeons made learning the mechanics of each one fun. Built up my confidence. Maybe I could take risks and not fail, after all.

My ride. I fight for the Imperial Navy!
My ride. I fight for the Imperial Navy!

The “World of…” games have been on my radar for years. I know nothing about tanks, so I didn’t really want to play it, but I was fascinated by the stories told by those who did. Same thing with World of Warplanes. I went as far as to download it and get through the tutorial, but I felt I was just button mashing ineffectively — wasn’t really that much fun. Then again, I played it just once…

World of Warships looked like it might be fun. I’d enjoyed the tactical ship combat in Pirates of the Burning Sea and in Sid Meier’s Pirates! Slower-paced tactical combat — in 2D — could just be the thing.

I downloaded it, watched some videos, got into a game and stunk. I’d just get shot up right away. Next game: terrible. Next game: worse. More videos. Also, when you get sunk, you can watch the game from one of your living allies’ perspectives, so I did that. Oh, don’t stop moving, ever? Oh, line up shots with binocular mode? Oh, make sure you don’t play the game from binocular mode?

Slowly, slowly, I’m getting better. I sometimes survive battles. I sometimes hit an enemy. Learned about stealth. Learned to use cover better.

I still suck. But now I don’t think there’s any reason that I can’t learn how to play this game. I learned how to tank. I should be able to learn how to steer a ship without hitting a rock. We’ll see.

Games are fairly short, which is a big benefit. I imagine the battles get more complex as you rank up. I’m Tier II now, still in cruisers, so I don’t have to keep track of much. No torpedoes, no AA guns. My first ride has gotten all its upgrades and is “elite”, meaning I need to play it occasionally in order to get free XP I can use to upgrade my new cruiser.

But, am I having fun? Well, nobody has started yelling at me yet. The game is perhaps still too new for that. My battlefield awareness is still shockingly low. But the matches are over so quickly that you can learn a new trick and then immediately put it into use in the next game. I always enjoy games the most when I progress every time I play. It’s why I hate the endgame grind, but enjoy leveling.

We’ll see if I stick with this. If I do, I’ll eventually have to join a team and get into voice chat and everything will probably get more intense than I like. So who knows. It was the transition from casual to serious play that killed EVE Online for me, after all.