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CAW postmortem - 4/23/2009 5:20:02 AM   


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I think we are a little shy of the two year anniversary of the new CAW (Came out June 8, 2007). I acquired it on the first day it was out. I was unhappy with the game (thus my uh ... handle ... name ... whatever). However, I did stick with it for a while and must say I derived quite a bit of enjoyment from the editor until I got bored of that as well (over a year ago now). Anyhoo, I would like to conduct a postmortem on this game; what worked, what didn't, what should it have been, etc. I suspect that the Matrix and SSG folks wont like the thread and argue that they are still making sales and people are still playing and enjoying it but... come on, the game fizzled out - lets face it. Although, SSG (especially Alexs) were quite responsive to enquiries and suggestions (and put out several patches) I can't help but think that CAW never attained its potential. So here is my 5 cents.

1. Too true to the original. The original CAW may have been a favourite back in the 1990s or whenever the heck it came out (never played it) but just adding new graphics and some additional features without substantially overhauling the game mechanics was a mistake. What was cutting edge in PC game infancy was inadequate for 2007.

2. The lack of a dynamic campaign was a real letdown. Linked scenarios would have added a great deal to this game, forcing the player to husband resources and decide where they wanted to commit their ships.

3. Further to #2, the ability to repair ships (added later on) and, especially, refurbish or replace carrier squadrons and land based squadrons would have added tremendously to the game.

4. The actions permitted by the warcards were too limited, again, they may have been great in the 1990s but did not provide enough options for a 'modern' game. I feel that the AI was weak, and I think the stats on the SSG website bear that conclusion out.

5. Air to air combat was too abstracted, players couldn't 'see' what was going on. This was especially noticeable in attacks on land targets where the player was only presented with summaries.

6. I think that the game could have benefited from Matrix or SSG offering a central online repository of player created ships and aircraft, and national flags, maps etc.

7. The argument that CAW was a 'tactical' game - a scenario game - and that it did not lend itself to a strategic, entire pacific, entire war game. This relates to #2 and is my biggest beef with the game. Yes, the game is played in 5 minute increments. But most of the time is spent moving around and not engaged with the enemy. Despite occurring in 5 minute increments it plays MUCH faster that WITP and I think it could have, should have, encompassed the entire war in the pacific. Obviously, a lot of things would be more abstracted that WITP, like land combat and resupply, but it could have been a great simulation of the naval war in the pacific on a strategic scale.

8. OK... I'm now too drunk to continue this post. Oh, there should have been a means to have squadrons progress in experience between scenarios. Also, having spent considerable time looking at scenarios etc. all the means to make submarines player controlled is built into the game but not used in any of the supplied scenarios. Again, an unfortunate decision.

In closing, there are a lot of good things about this game but on the whole, it was disappointing (in my opinion). Don't know if anyone will bother to add to this thread but I hope you do, because I think SSG/Matrix was close to having a great game with CAW but it just came up a little short.
Post #: 1
RE: CAW postmortem - 4/23/2009 6:01:18 AM   

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I think CAW is a great game engine. Yes, maybe some of the combat is a little too simple. Its just the game has no depth (for this day and age) which causes a quick flame out of fun. Only a campaign mode (for both SP and MP) would raise this game from its early grave.


(in reply to Unhappy)
Post #: 2
RE: CAW postmortem - 4/23/2009 2:20:08 PM   


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The only thing that has put me off buying this one, is the fact that it does not have a large amount of scenarios.

If it had the same as both CAW and CAW 2 combined, then i would have snapped it up straight away.

(in reply to GeneralChaos)
Post #: 3
RE: CAW postmortem - 4/23/2009 10:30:57 PM   


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I bought the game orginally when it came out - was put off by a strike hang up bug (planes getting stuck on the Strike Screen)

There was some talk of CCAW at that time - bought it and played it - liked it but longed for the CAW to perform (more modern graphics and much easier interface)

Went back to CAW but the same bug was still there and basically abandoned until recently

Recently got back into it - so far have not had any troubles - I like the game - creates tension - fun - easy to play - and (very important to me) I can play a game in a couple of hours - have grown disenchanted with games that take days or weeks to complete - just don't have the time or patience anymore

I am worried about running out of scenarios - am currently messing around with the editor but not sure where that is going to lead

There were a few scenarios created in 07-08 but all the links are dead

I hope that SSG is not done with this engine - I would be willing to pay for CAW2 and more scenarios - the campaign idea mentioned above would be cool - I agree with the poster above that SSG is very very close to a great game


(in reply to sapper_astro)
Post #: 4
RE: CAW postmortem - 4/24/2009 3:24:29 AM   


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I've had the game for almost a year and I've enjoyed it a lot. Overall, I think CAW achieved what it set out to do: simulate WWII carrier warfare at the tactical level.

The ideas of linked campaigns and a more operational/strategic scale are excellent ones, but I'm not sure about implementation. Playing out the entire Pacific war in 5 minute increments would be quite the undertaking. Something like War Plan Pacific might be the result, but that's hardly a strict simulation of carrier warfare.

On the other hand, linking scenarios a la Panzer General would be very cool. However, CAW is limited by the very topic it covers. There were only five major carrier vs. carrier battles between the U.S. and Japan, and the last one was pretty one-sided. Including the Indian Ocean raid, battles around Java, and Pearl Harbor stretch things out a little more. However, these were mostly one-sided affairs too rather than a true contest between evenly matched forces.

Tying all of that back to the Panzer General model, a campaign of linked scenarios would become ahistorical pretty quickly unless you expand the scope of the game beyond strictly tactical carrier warfare. While expanding the scope would be a great idea, the focus on carriers would probably be lost.

Moving on, having played CCAW and CAW I think CAW has a much better interface. Clicking through CCAW's interface could be a chore. The main example I can think of is assigning CAP. In CCAW you had to assign CAP by individual carrier. Now it's a global function at the task group level. A small improvement, but one of several excellent choices. The expansive list of mappable hotkeys in CAW was very welcome too.

That said, one addition I would love to see is the ability to draw on the map like in Decisive Action. Determining the range between my forces and enemy forces, islands, or even just plotting a course, is kinda cumbersome. An in-game measuring tape and being able to mark off parts of the map would be awesome.

Sorry about the long post. Carry on.

< Message edited by funkatron3000 -- 4/24/2009 3:27:34 AM >

(in reply to jcrohio)
Post #: 5
RE: CAW postmortem - 5/21/2009 12:03:16 AM   
Ron Belcher

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The previous posters shoot true aspect and relative posts.  Can we get SSG to chime in on their thoughts ?
Don't leave us hanging off of our HF Antennas !

(in reply to funkatron3000)
Post #: 6
RE: CAW postmortem - 5/27/2009 11:33:01 AM   
Adam Parker

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I played this one to death when it first came out - had some great fun and tried to have even more.

However, the lack of replayability from the AI in v1.0 killed the moment.

SSG then delivered some patches to address this dilemma - and successfully I believe.

I just happened to stumble across this thread now, as I watched an excellent documentary on Leyte Gulf today and thought about firing this game up after a very long break. I wondered why people weren't still raving about it as with the original of the 90's.

I figured maybe it's that we've all just grown up. But I think it may be more.

A developer only gets one chance to hit the mark in the PC game world these days. With CaW it took 2 patch attempts to get it going.

(in reply to Ron Belcher)
Post #: 7
RE: CAW postmortem - 6/4/2009 11:34:45 PM   
Joe D.

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1. Too true to the original ... What was cutting edge in PC game infancy was inadequate for 2007.

2. ... Linked scenarios would have added a great deal to this game, forcing the player to husband resources and decide where they wanted to commit their ships.

5. Air to air combat was too abstracted, players couldn't 'see' what was going on ...

6. I think that the game could have benefited from Matrix or SSG offering a central online repository of player created ships and aircraft, and national flags, maps etc.

7. The argument that CAW was a 'tactical' game - a scenario game - and that it did not lend itself to a strategic, entire pacific, entire war game ...

8. ... all the means to make submarines player controlled is built into the game but not used in any of the supplied scenarios. Again, an unfortunate decision.

In closing, there are a lot of good things about this game but on the whole, it was disappointing (in my opinion). Don't know if anyone will bother to add to this thread but I hope you do, because I think SSG/Matrix was close to having a great game with CAW but it just came up a little short.

Yes, it came-up somewhat short, but I think expectations were too high because of the nostaglia of players who had the previous versuion, but this title is no longer the "cutting edge" game it had been.

That said, CaW does model CV and surface combat very well; still I enjoy playing the Midway scenario, but many of the scenarios don't play well from the IJN side.

(2) Linked scenarios -- a la PG? -- may have added some depth, and air-to-air could have been less abstracted, but it's not any less abstracted than UV/WitP.

I think (6) was planned, but it never panned-out, and if you wanted (7), there's WitP, if you don't mind losing your mind.

As for subs, I don't care to micro-manage them in UV either; besides, the title is Carriers at War; anyway, at my age, the less I have to manage, the better-off I am.

The 2nd patch helped this game greatly, but then this forum just dried-up, much like the UV forum where I'm still waiting for CF.

Well, maybe some day.


Stratford, Connecticut, U.S.A.

"The Angel of Okinawa"

Home of the Chance-Vought Corsair, F4U
The best fighter-bomber of World War II

(in reply to Unhappy)
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RE: CAW postmortem - 6/5/2009 11:23:21 PM   

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I agree with unhappy: the game came up a little short. 
CAW has a good engine and a good interface, but the lack of scenarios, no campaign or story mode and the lack of complexity ruined my game experience.
I find CAW too easy: you don't control subs, you have limited control on patrols, you have limited controls on CAP, you cannot chose aircraft ordinance etc.
While I am not a big fan of obsessive micromanagement, in a game you have to manage something... In CAW I felt too limited. It's a pity because it has potential and could became a really good game...



(in reply to Joe D.)
Post #: 9
RE: CAW postmortem - 11/23/2009 7:50:26 PM   
CC Fan


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Okay, I know I'm really,really late to this party, but wanted to throw in my two cents.  I do like this game.  Yes, it is short, and yes, it would be good if the scenarios could be linked.  But I think what the designers were going for was the "inbetween" crowd.  Those who just don't have the time/desire to tackle the complexity of WitP, but still want a "good" pacific combat experience.

That being said, there are some things I would like to see in CAWII if it comes out.

1.  Being able to decide whether my strike aircraft carry bombs or torpedos.

2.  The ability to determine which squadrons go on a strike.

3.  When you determine your strike aircraft loadout, have it take time to get them into the hanger deck and fitted.

4.  Yes, I would love to see the campaigns able to be linked and more campaigns.

That's it for now.  I'm sure I'll come up with more later.

(in reply to invernomuto)
Post #: 10
RE: CAW postmortem - 11/24/2009 2:26:23 AM   


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Hey CC Fan. Welcome aboard! It's great to see interest in CAW.

I definitely agree with you on the "in between" crowd idea. I've often thought about taking the WitP plunge, but never got around to it. I like a game I can finish in one evening. Tarawa, the largest CAW scenario, can still take 2+ hours to finish from the IJN side.

Regarding your list, you can do some of the things you mentioned in CAW. For example, you can also choose which squadrons are included in a strike as long as you use the Strike screen rather than autostrike. When I play the 1942 battles as the USN, I often leave my Devastators at home unless I blundered into effective range of an IJN carrier. Torpedo bombers automatically switch to regular bombs if they're on the edge of their attack range; however, it's not something you can manually choose. You can designate fighters as fighter-bombers by clicking on their ordnance on the strike screen.

Hangar and deck cycling time is something that really interests me, but I haven't fully studied it in this game. John Parshall and Tony Tully make a strong argument in Shattered Sword (which I highly recommend) that deck cycle times greatly confined Nagumo's tactical options at Midway. Deck cycling plays a role in this game, but it's not easy to determine. I've had several games where I specify 50% of my fighters on CAP but only two or three fighter actually airborne when an enemy strike comes because my CAP is on the deck refueling.

Anyway, welcome aboard. If you ever want to play online, post in the Opponents Wanted forum. Mario will probably give you a game. I can too if I have time.

(in reply to CC Fan)
Post #: 11
RE: CAW postmortem - 11/25/2009 9:13:45 PM   
CC Fan


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Awesome.  Thanks for the reply.  I'll try going to the opponents wanted.  I've never played against a human opponent online before so you guys will have to walk me through the connection process.  But I'm up for it.

I know what you mean about choosing which squadrons to send.  One of the things I like about the game is the screen that shows the overhead view of the deck and what squadrons are on the deck and which aren't.  I also like the strike screens and being able to see the planes "fly" in to drop their bombs or torpedoes.  That's something you don't really get in UV or WitP.

There's a lot this game does right.  But sadly falls short by the same ratio.  But I'll still play.  I have Uncommon Valor and War in the Pacific.  Both are great games.  The only thing about UV that really bothered me was NO MIDWAY!.  But I did get very involved in playing the Coral Sea Scenario as IJN.  I drove out the American combat fleet from the area, but didn't have the strength to take Port Morseby. 

WitP is fun, but time consuming.  They really need to work on the time it takes the computer to process the game info in between turns.  Seems like it takes forever.  Aside from that, a good game.  But slow. 

(in reply to funkatron3000)
Post #: 12
RE: CAW postmortem - 12/3/2009 7:00:58 PM   

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I posted a question on the SSG forum about and update or sequel to CAW, and Gregor Whiley responded with:

"Yes, there will definitely be further development of CAW, but not until next year, we have to finish Across the Dnepr first."

I also agree with 90% of what has been posted here...CAW is/was a half step from being it is it is a good and fun game but is leaving me wanting just a bit more from it.


Kind Regards,


(in reply to CC Fan)
Post #: 13
RE: CAW postmortem - 3/30/2010 5:55:36 PM   

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I enjoyed the game a lot for the first couple months, but since the games are so short the replay value was lost.

I tried multiplayer with a friend, but the bugs were very apparent. His own planes were attacking his carriers!


(in reply to gabeeg)
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RE: CAW postmortem - 5/31/2010 8:46:02 AM   

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The big problem I think a lot of other SSG games -- the scenario editor was very counterintuitive and klunky. It's worth noting that all the scenarios we've seen to add on this game, are simple conversions of older Complete Carriers at War (1990s) scenarios to the new engine.


(in reply to Stele)
Post #: 15
RE: CAW postmortem - 5/31/2010 2:02:25 PM   

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I played CaW a lot when it first came out and lost constantly. Eventually, something else came along and haven't played it since. A campaign of sorts would have been nice.

On the other hand I was never able to get a handle on the Coral Sea scenario. I never won it out right, tho at times it seemed I achieved something close to victory. Trying to lay a trap, attempting a screwy unexpected maneuver- whatever, I always managed to be on the short end. Yet like a moth to the flame, I always come back to that scenario. The tenseness is palpable.

To my knowledge there really is no other carrier game out there, on an operational level. Just wish this game had more of a spark and more depth to it.

< Message edited by blastpop -- 5/31/2010 2:04:32 PM >

(in reply to RyanCrierie)
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RE: CAW postmortem - 5/31/2010 2:07:22 PM   

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Now it is all but forgotten... a shame really.

(in reply to blastpop)
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RE: CAW postmortem - 5/31/2010 3:11:02 PM   

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Peter and I play MP games from time to time, however the MP side of things is very buggy and crashes fairly often.

(in reply to blastpop)
Post #: 18
RE: CAW postmortem - 6/22/2010 12:18:47 AM   


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there was another carrier simulation out from the same company that orginally released Pacific War. Its been so long I am not sure if it was SSG, or SSI. In any event i bought it for DOS format on a 5 inch floppy. That should give you an idea when it came out. The game was called Carrier Strike.

the Combat was nearly identical. Top down view. However, the game had a dynamic campaign as both the allies and japanese sides. the player could adjust level of difficulty, and the campaign always started at Midway. Thereafter, it cover the battles in the solomons, however, the engagements were randomly generated, usually 1 every game month. this continued, until the Siapan battles. No campaign game ever played the same way twice.

All in all, carrier strike was a much better game, because of the campaign game. If carriers at war had done this....the game would still be alive.

(in reply to blastpop)
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RE: CAW postmortem - 1/6/2011 8:42:31 PM   


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That's why submarine warfare wasnt modelled very thoroughly - as someone said earlier, this game has no depth.

(in reply to Borst50)
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RE: CAW postmortem - 2/2/2011 7:39:41 PM   
Prince of Eckmühl

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As released the game was full of show-stopper bugs. Sometimes CAP didn't take off. Sometimes Strikes didn't proceed to target. Searches by day-only aircraft were being launched before dawn with unnecessary "prangs" as a result. And that's just some of the stuff that I remember. Oh, and you had to page through the interface pretty carefully to realize that any of this was going on. A lot of people didn't know or believe that the problems existed because they assumed that the game was WAD. Eventually, most of what I helped document here on the forum was cited in patch updates as being "fixed."

I also contributed to a "wish-list" thread. Like some other posters, I was "wishing" for something with a little more flavor, something that would give me the impression that I was gaming/simulating WW2 carrier operations. I won't put words in the developer-representative's mouth, but basically I got the impression that he thought that I was FOS. SSG had sold a bazillion games back in the eighties and early nineties, and they were the experts on all these matters. So much for customer-feedback. Anyway, I stopped "wishing," and went about trying to enjoy the game that I had paid for. I played through the scenarios, including several online games with a friend. After a couple of weeks, we came to the conclusion  that the game felt as much like Roman trireme's shooting ballistas at each other, as a game about carrier warfare.

I attempted to play the game solo, twice, after the last patch. It crashed both times. Phooey!

Recommendation: I hesitate to pitch another game to our readers, but you might want to take a look at Midway from HPS. The game isn't perfect, and I've begged the developer to make some changes. For instance, there's no AI for friendly subs and only one altitude for aircraft. Obviously, these are not small items, and I'm dieing to seem them addressed. HOWEVER, the game simply bleeds with the "flavor" that was lacking in CaW, and it plays well online. All the above, said, there is no demo, and I wouldn't want anyone to invest in the game based on my preferences alone. So, if you're somewhat interested, check out the HPS forums at Wargamer and Gamesquad. There was also a reasonably long thread about the game over in GD:

BTW, Grigsby's update to "Carrier Strike" is apparently dead, so that road is closed.


Government is the opiate of the masses.

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Post #: 21
RE: CAW postmortem - 2/3/2011 8:42:32 AM   

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I could not have said it better myself. I will be even more blunt...after playing a handful of games against the AI I was bored to death. It is one of the only wargames I have removed from my HD...and never reinstalled. I know quite a lot of people that enjoy(ed) it, so milage may vary. I am right there with you on is a half step away from greatness, but even at 1.01 (I believe that is the latest) it is still a lot of fun...and it is staying on my hard drive. HPS just needs some additional details plugged in and a couple of tweaks. It is sort of frustrating that HPS's update cycle is soooo...slow.

(in reply to Prince of Eckmühl)
Post #: 22
RE: CAW postmortem - 2/4/2011 8:26:21 PM   
Kiwi Red One


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It is alive................maybe

Looks like there may be some updates in the works for CAW judging from brief comments by Roger Keating over on the SSG forum recently:

I personally hope that they make the editor easier to use - got started on converting a couple of scenarioes that I did for the 1993 version of CAW but adding ship graphics is just mind bogglingly difficult in the latest version so moved on to other things. I'd give this a another go if SSG would only set out in detail how to use the editor as the notes in the game guide are fairly basic and not easy to follow.

I think there is a good game in there, just needs the bugs ironed out and the editor tweeked.

PS Gary Grigsby's redevelopment of Carrier Strike/Force does seem officially dead:�


< Message edited by Kiwi Red One -- 2/4/2011 8:27:52 PM >

(in reply to gabeeg)
Post #: 23
RE: CAW postmortem - 2/8/2011 6:22:01 AM   
Prince of Eckmühl

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Edit: Never mind.

< Message edited by Prince of Eckmühl -- 2/8/2011 4:46:59 PM >


Government is the opiate of the masses.

(in reply to Kiwi Red One)
Post #: 24
RE: CAW postmortem - 3/28/2015 9:25:35 PM   

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I think another major issue was that the AI was very hard coded; requiring a lot of counter-intuitive programming using the scenario editor; adding a LOT of extra work to creating a scenario. That, I think was a major reason killing it -- because there was a lot that could have been done, like a Mediteranean mod; etc.


(in reply to Prince of Eckmühl)
Post #: 25
RE: CAW postmortem - 6/1/2015 1:17:00 PM   

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Ive always liked this game, despite its simplicity. For some reason the artwork really did it for me. And watching the strikes, NO! NO! HIT THE CARRIER STUPID!!!
Interestingly it runs on Win8.1 fine, and you can set your own screen res manually(ie wide screen is no problem). Not too shabby for a game from 2007.
Even the editor has a good "feel" to it. Its just a nice product.

(in reply to RyanCrierie)
Post #: 26
RE: CAW postmortem - 10/29/2015 2:29:27 PM   


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I would pay good money to play CAW on my iPad... any thoughts re: an iOS port...?

(in reply to Blond_Knight)
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