Saturday, 27 July 2013

World of Warstuff!

I am liking the added impetuous to play the WarGaming.Net games because you are now able to do a bit of tanking and then - for variety - do a bit of flying. Switching between tanks and then warplanes alleviates the repetitiveness, I just wish that they had managed to integrate the games in some way - maybe though shared XP or a new special combined score or something.

This idea of a switch-able battlefield has me thinking about giving the WarGames.Net competitor - War Thunder - another look, as the notion of a combined battlefield is high on their priorities. I shall login to War Thunder again this week to see what they are up to and compare the systems.

War Thunder is prepping it's players for the next phase of it's massive
on-line battlefield experience with teaser artwork like this. But can they
overcome World of Tanks when it is already so well established?
New tanks and planes to play with
When I started my 'free' World of Tanks account experiment - to see how far I could get without spending a penny (er, so to speak) I never imagined I would still be going. I had a very limited goal - to get to the Stug tank destroyer and the Panzer IV medium tank - and I am amazed that I have actually surpassed this by some way (although it's taken me some time).

This week I progressed on to two very formidable tanks and reached the heady level of tier VIII in the game. As you know, I am a big tank destroyer fan and so I was very excited to earn the infamous JagdPanther with it's outstanding 10.5cm AT gun!

This is a real hunter, and in the German tradition of hunting for a fixed position this long range sniper demands a 'stand off' approach in spying out it's prey. To give you an idea about the sort of damage this predator can do here's a score sheet, check out the prey (click to enlarge in a new window)...

A Tiger II and a T-29 are a very satisfying haul, but again you have to pick those targets and pick the placement of your shots on those targets. The IS-3 which I also terminated was a particularly enjoyable ammo racking!

Ironically, the second of the two heavy-weights that I moved up to was the Tiger II - The King Tiger...

This massive lump of armour is my current project and is in need of a lot of upgrading to get the best out of it and I have yet to reap the benefits of this tanks legendary potential.

All up in the air...
That all said, it seems my strategy for World of Warplanes is completely the reverse of that for it's tanking stable mate. Instead of racing after bigger and more technologically advanced weapons my favoured aircraft are the quaintly antiquated!

The tier II Kochyerigin TSh-1 attack aircraft.
I have stuck doggedly to my tier II choice of attack aircraft, a obsolescent Soviet bi-plane, even when more modern and powerful planes are available. Though in the case of fighters I have plumped for something a little more high-tech - well, for the 1930s that is - and added the early model Polikarpov I-16 to my hanger...

Though, again, this is as far as I am tempted to progress as this lovely little monoplane was the classic underdog which took on the far superior modern enemy planes - like the Me109 - in the early stages of The Great Patriotic War. It often fought side-by-side with bi-plane warplanes and saw action in the Spanish Civil War and the war between China and Japan that was a prelude to World War Two.

To be honest I have no interest whatsoever in progressing beyond these bygone battlers.

On the game side itself I am finding the limited variety of maps in the Beta a little wearing. Furthermore I do hope that when the full game is released and more players join that you will find yourself matched more appropriately with aircraft of the same era - though my experiences of the World of Tanks Match Maker system tells me not to expect historical parity.

Finally, I do miss proper specialised multi-engined bombers. The ground aircraft included are a lot of fun, don't get me wrong, but so far I have not seen the real advantage of ground attack - most people seem to be interested in fighter element and I haven't seen a situation where the attack aircraft have won a game.

So, addressing this, perhaps with specialised bombers, might add the impetus needed for fighters to attack bombers in an attempt to fend off raids AND for your fighters to defend you. At the moment they seem to fairly much leave you to your fate!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Summer events - Naval Warfare

The brilliant weather - and the pending holiday of my teacher wife - marks the start of the visiting season. I have an ambitious itinerary this summer but at the top of the list is a local event that I have taken for-granted in all the time I have lived in Scarborough - the famous Naval Warfare battle on Peasholme Park lake.

The miniature sea battle has been a feature of the park's summer activities for many, many years and visitors often recall it as a fond childhood memory. The 30 minute battle consists of some eight or so large scale models which cruise about the boating lake firing pyrotechnics at one another.

Although, obviously, aimed at the younger visitor the event still attracts a wide variety of ages and is still very popular. Indeed, when a friend and I visited yesterday there was hardly a seat to be had!

Just one half of the audience for the Naval Battle - young and old were
enthusiastically and equally enthralled by the show.

The little ships re-enacted a convoy battle, 'steaming' around the central island as the 'unspecified bad guys' (we know who they are though!) tried to sink our brave ships. Sadly, there were casualties...

This poor old tanker - the 'British Pride' - succumbs to enemy fire and lists
badly in a cloud of smoke!
Revenge is sweet as the attacking enemy U-Boat...Er, sorry I mean the
'unspecified enemy' submarine is hit by an RAF bomber (yes, there
are little planes too)!
The show is a fun family event and the narration is suitably twee - and rather (unintentionally) amusing at times. For example, the commentator recounted how one year one of the ships unceremoniously blew up and sank to the bottom when it's pyrotechnics spontaneously ignited en masse! "You never quite know what's going to happen!" He remarked as this rather Heath Robinson event unfolded.

But in the end everything worked out fine and there was -a rather predictable - win for our brave Royal and Merchant Navy over the 'unspecified enemy'. Everyone had a fine time and however cynical a character you might be you cannot help but marvel at the craftsmanship of the models and the ingenuity of their propulsion (which is revealed at the end of the show)...

No, they aren't remote control...

Not a job I envy on the gloriously hot day we had on our visit!
Well worth a visit - and the £3.70 fee (£2.10 child) admission - as you recapture a distance childhood memory of almost harmless fun! Highly recommended!

The Scarborough Naval Warfare starts around the last weekend in May until September 1st. Throughout June the Scarborough Naval Warfare is held on Saturdays only, starting at 3pm.

The Scarborough Naval Warfare is held on Thursdays and Saturdays starting at 3pm throughout July. During August the Scarborough Naval Warfare is held on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays starting at 3pm lasting about 30-minutes.

My complete photo album of the event can be seen here: Milgeek's Flickr - Scarborough Naval Battle

Location map of Scarborough's Peasholme Park...

Monday, 15 July 2013

World of Warplanes - Gameplay

Well, it didn't take long to figure out what was going on! And that's a good thing as the whole ethos of the 'World of...' games is the ease with which players can grasp how to play.

My take on the game's victory conditions are this - remember the ticket system in Battlefield 2, where achieving goals within the game ticked down the enemies 'tickets'? Well, WoWP is just like that, each target destroyed - whether it be an air or ground target - has an effect on the enemy's 'life' score, which ticks down.

Likewise your team's score ticks down if the enemy makes progress - so it's a see-saw effect of back and forth progress. Each aircraft downed or ground target destroyed has an effect of the score until 100% of the enemy's (or you team's) score is depleted. Simples.

As with World of Tanks there are some beautiful maps to fight upon (or do I mean over). Your map 'radar' gives you an overview of the playing field, but beware - the 3-dimensional aspect of air combat can fool you as the map gives no indication of enemy's altitude. You have to stay alert for 'the hun in the sun'!

Obviously, your team is green and the enemy is red, but also be aware that arrows are planes and circles are ground targets.

As you can see play (combat) soon gets spread out and I had time to reflect that WoWP is just like that comment by a WW1 pilot that at one moment the sky is full of planes and then the next you find yourself on your own! And this highlights the very different spacial difference between WoT and WoWP.

Likewise all the real basic rules of early aerial combat are true:

> You have the advantage if you spot the enemy first (as you can pick position)
> Altitude is key, as you can swoop down from above which gives you an advantage in...
> Speed. These early planes are underpowered, so gaining air speed through diving gives you an edge...

And, as ever, the most important thing is (and always will be)...


My first shared kill. I can't take responsibility for all this, a team mate
performed the Coup de grĂ¢ce - but I played my role.

Ground attack...An art in itself
Now obviously air to air combat is the bread and butter of this game, it's the glamorous pursuit that will occupy most would be pilots imaginations. But do remember that the victory conditions are effected by ground attack as well and just as in WoT there were those who liked the attacking brawl of tanks and those that liked the more methodical ambush tactics of tank destroyers you will have to decide what style of air combat you prefer.

Now, obviously, in the initial game you can mix both as only as you progress in the tech tree do you acquire specialist aircraft that perform either role more efficiently. But do be warned: Ground attack is NOT the easy option - those ground instillations are defended and AA fire can be blistering!

Add to this the propensity to get too close to the ground on occasion and, well, let's just say that my first attempt at ground attack ended with a large smoking hole in the desert!

Colour me happy!
The final aspect to the game I would like to note is the ability to change your planes colour scheme to something a little more personalised. Again, this is a feature that was available in World of Tanks, but there the camouflage schemes actually had a real effect on your combat proficiency. The schemes in World of Warplanes are - as far as I can see - purely cosmetic...

Still, if you really want to play the part as a Knight of the Sky and express your individuality then there are some very nice schemes to be had. Players are sure to enjoy this aspect of the game mechanics, though - unlike WoT - I can't seem to find personalised emblems to accompany the colour schemes.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

At last! A new game...Er, sort of

Well, World of Warplanes has finally been released...Thank goodness!

This really is a god-send as you won't have failed to have noticed that things have been a bit quiet on Milgeek for quite a long time now. So today I got my first look at what might be the game that keeps me amused until Battlefield 4 comes online...And longer if BF4 turns out to be as disappointing as BF3 was!

First thing is the hanger...Well, that's all very familiar, though I am guessing they have done some work on the graphics as I am getting better quality graphics on my modest rig than I did with World of Tanks...

The game system is likewise familiar territory, you can upgrade your aircraft with various modules and equipment as you gain experience. Eventually you will upgrade you aircraft to the point where you can progress onto a 'better' aircraft (well, actually, more advanced aircraft - as with World of Tanks you can have as much fun with the lower levels as you can with the super-duper higher levels).

Aircraft handling is as wonderfully intuitive as driving a tank was in WoT, getting a grasp of how to actually play the game is a different story though. I haven't quite got to grips with how the game itself works and how you win it - though, obviously, shooting down all the enemy helps!

Unlike WoT the game play is not in two dimensions - as you might expect from a 3-dimensional combat form like air warfare. Opponent versus opponent is not your only goal, fighter versus fighter combat is joined by ground attack. This makes things very interesting.

In World of Tanks there were three forms of fighting vehicle; tank, tank destroyer and artillery. In World of Warplanes there are two - fighters and attack aircraft. Both have very different jobs, sort of like the difference between tanks and tank destroyers in WoT, each type of vehicle compliments the other.

I will explore the mechanics of gameplay as I gain more experience over the coming days but for the moment you will probably want to know more about what warplanes you get to begin with!



JAPAN - Nakajima Type 91


Link to the World of Warplanes Tech Trees (Planeopedia) - Opens in new window.

That's right folks - there's no British tech tree! However, like World of Tanks, I fully expect additional tech trees to be added to game in the fullness of time, but in the meantime fans of British aircraft will just have to make do with what's on offer - in my case I will be exploring the Soviet line of planes.

At this point, however, I would like to speculate about one difference I feel exists between World of Tanks and World of Warplanes. WoT is an arms race - players were keen and encouraged to work up through the tech tree, that is an integral part of the game. With WoWP this might not be so much of an imperative as fans of aircraft take all forms - some love bi-planes and some like jets, so some people may very well not want to progress beyond their tier!

I happen to be one of those people - I love the early machines and while I will work my way up the tiers for the fun of it I will not be selling my lower tier aircraft as I progress. Additionally I can see me spending the majority of my time in these 'primitive' planes in preference to the higher end alternatives.

Conclusion...Thus far...
It's too early for me to say whether this game will be another hit for the developers or whether the change from 2-D combat to 3-D will be too much for most people, a lot will depend on the game modes and how fun they are. Though I will point to another game I tried fairly recently called War Thunder, which is as far as I can see a rip-off of WoWP, and say that I very quickly lost interest in this as the game goals seemed to convoluted for me to feel connected to result of the match (I literally didn't understand my role in the victory conditions).

Not World of Warplanes, but rather another game called War Thunder. Spot
the difference? ...No, neither can I!

Still, based on WoT I am sure that the developers have tried to stick to an easily understandable game format...We shall see, but I will say this - tootling about in the little planes immediately put a smile on my face!

Link to World of Warplanes European site.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

1/72 Hobby Boss MiG-15bis

The latest of my kit building projects is this Soviet jet fighter - the infamous MiG-15.

When I was younger I used to love movies like 'The Hunters' (and 'Bridges Over Toko Ri') which told the fictional story of American pilots during the Korean War. In the movie the main protagonist was a ace Korean MiG-15 pilot which the Americans nicknamed 'Casey Jones'.

Anyway, the MiG is a beautiful jet and I enjoyed making this easy build model. However, I found teh silver finish a bit of a pain!