July 9th 1942
Night battle in Trinkat
In the Andamans, Trinkat was captured today by the base force that landed yesterday. During the night, an enemy task force (CA Exeter, CL Marblehead and DD Isaac Sweers) closed in and seek battle. Two cargoes (Mikasa maru, and Hakubasan maru) were unloading the troops, covered by three destroyers (Asagiri, Sagiri, and Yugiri, henceforth known as the “three giris”).
There was little moonlight, and it was raining, so detection occurred at close range (2000 feet). The unloading cargoes were easily sunk by the Exeter, but the Asagiri bombarded the Marblehead, and the Sagiri finished her with a Long lance attack. Then, the three Japanese destroyers escaped.
I have lost two cargoes and a hefty fraction of a base force, for CL Marblehead, the fifteenth allied CL sunk since the beginning of the war. I believe this was a good trade: my base force will repair damage, the Marblehead won’t.
Later that day, carrier aircraft were spotted over Car Nicobar and Trinkat. Those cannot be the British Carriers that were around Timor two days ago, so it is either a second British Carrier squadron (Indomitable and Hermes), or the Americans. Against the British, I have my chances if they close in (I have several surface forces that might jump at them, and lots of land base planes), against the US, it all depends on whether they are massed, but I have difficulty imagining all the US Carriers here.
I am retiring my ships to the nearest ports, put some Nells, Betties and Kates in Georgetown on long range low altitude attacks, just in case.
In Bangkok, my Oscars are rested and near full strength. I am giving a few days in the hope that the weather improves (we had storm forecasts, and now rain, and clear weather over Sumatra), and to let the frames repair. Then I will try a sweep at 14 000 feet, hoping it coordinates, and we can pay the Hurries back.
Pax, I did experiment with the upgrade buttons to try and change all the planes in a squadron, upgrading to the same plane, back one model, don’t seem to work, so I guess you just can’t do it with PDU off. This is one curious facet of this game: the player has almost perfect control over some aspects (pilots, ship repairs, upgrades and conversion, replacements in recent patches), but none on others (naval attack target selection, air frame maintenance).
In Chungking, Japanese AV are now over 4400. Fresh troops have arrived, together with several HQ and lots of support. The divisions that attacked recently are around 10 disruption, and 20 fatigue. The Chinese are still respawning (117 units in town now, against 70 when the battle began, and 108 a week ago), but their AV is now below 5 500. My last attack was 1:3, I have good hopes of achieving 1:1 odds soon.
In New Guinea, nothing is happening. The Australian brigade from Buna seems to have stopped in the jungle south of Salamaua, and the other brigade in Terapo seems to take a while to repair her disablements. Bombardment of my troops in Terapo is not very effective, and air reinforcements have brought their AV to 110 (against 30 when the Australians landed). They might reinforce overland from Port Moresby, which would suit me fine, as it would slow the campaign even more.
In Luganville, our submarines have not being successful, and the area is teeming with DE, so we might interrupt the submarine campaign. On the other hand, less and less task forces are being seen in the port, which suggests we succeeded in delaying enemy operations.
I took a day off from the game yesterday, and came back this morning with what I believe is a better understanding of the situation. Over the recent weeks, the slow going of the campaign in China made me put too much emphasis on the Pacific. My strategic goal is the capture of China, and then a land campaign in India. In the Indies, South Pacific, and everywhere else I am fighting a defensive war, trying to delay the Allies, and make every one of their moves cost.
Right now, the campaign in China is going fine, the siege of Chungking is longer than I hoped, but we’re only in July, and there are good chances that everything could be over in autumn, a very early date to be done with Chiang.
The Andamans and Burma are my second most important theater. The goal of the air battle over Port Blair is to prevent an Allied move into Burma by keeping enemy fighters busy, and forcing the bombers to fly largely ineffective night missions. Meanwhile, lots of anti-air units are on their way, with radar and better AA guns, I believe I can make even those night raids bloody affairs.
In the South Pacific, the situation seems to be back in control. I have a defensive line north of Buna and Terapo, two crack infantry divisions (18th and 38th) on their way through the jungle, and I believe a reckless attack on Guadalcanal will be costly for the Allies.
My main problem, I believe, is that I spend too little time improving my defenses elsewhere. I need to garrison Flores, and the Marshalls, and those islands around Ambon, and my bases in Burma. I need to take the time to work on all this, looks at Tracker, get the units, set the transports, move everyone, prep, and click, click and click again.
Thinking of it, this might be one of the reasons why discussions about this game, between people who like it (our AAR are the proof: you don’t spend months playing a game you don’t like), sometimes get a bit overboard. We all know this game means a long term commitment (you don’t play 1500 turns in a short while), that the system is very complex, and takes months, probably years, to master, and that the level of detail means lots of decisions, and calculations, and thoughts. But another important factor is the time needed to “just play one turn”. Thanks to the inimitable GG approach to computer interface (want this? I’ll add a button), you need a while to play each turn, and most of the time is not spent thinking about the game, but about the details of the “inner systems” and user interface.
Right now, I need about two hours to play a turn, including watching the replay (and I am not going into the details of each action, on fast speed, the bombardment of Chungking takes over 10 minutes), saving and sending the game to my opponent, loading the turn into tracker, having a look at the situation, checking all the CS resource convoys, to dock them when they don’t (they usually don’t), working on the three or four important places that need to be addressed this day, and then doing some of the rest. And note that after those two hours, I have done very little of the background work, ie reinforcing bases, building things, looking at the economy, improving patrols, moving troops, caring about pilots and squadrons, looking at leaders…
This might be one aspect of the frustration we often feel. You can’t play such a long game without commiting fully to it, but committing a long campaign also means committing to two hours a day just sending the turns around, and probably four or five every other or third turn, most of this additional time being spent clicking, and fighting the system.
Maybe, that’s the reason why we resent the system when it becomes unfriendly, and why terse comments like “you did that wrong”, and slightly patronizing explanations about the historical relevance of this or that click process, are not always taken in good jest.
I’m still dreaming of a new interface for this game. I explained my views on this a couple of months ago, on a thread Bullwinkle had started against the “next version of AE”. I believe it would be technically feasible, because the engine, and the interface are quite separated (Tracker is the proof), and the system can be ‘taken as granted’ by the interface designers. Good programs are usually the result of different people thinking about the calculations (the model, the OOB, the game engine), and the interface (the map, the display, and the click process). I have my doubts on whether this might happen, though…
Non AE related
I used not to be very interested in naval warfare and sea stories, but began to read some under the influence of AE. Yesterday, I finished my first Horatio Hornblower novel, and had one of those ‘how could I live and not know about that’ moment. I’m subscribed, as they say on this forum, and interested in other age of sails novels (military or not). I also need to read a bit about ships, because I’m really suffering with the technical terms…
I first heard of Forrester when reading David Weber Honor Harrington novels, which try to transpose age of sails situation in the space age. Harrington are pretty good reads, in my opinion, the influence from Forrester is very clear, the science behind it is decent (not great, mind you, but decent), the politics and social ideas are pretty tame, but this is, unfortunately, very typical in SF. But his “naval” combats are good.
Oh, and for the wine drinkers here, had a Cornas yesterday. It is a northern Rhone Valley red wine, the vineyard is not very far from Cote Rotie, but on the other bank of the Rhone, and the Cornas only use Syrah as their grapes. The result is a very dark and strong wine, which might cost slightly less than the more famous Cote Rotie. 2009 is a very good year, and can be drunk now (Rhone valley wines don’t really keep, in my opinion). I’m finishing it for lunch today, but have three more bottles of it in the cellar. Life is good!