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Battle of Tsushima for giggles and load testing.

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Hi all, long time lurker, first time poster etc. Figured I finally had something worthwhile to say and share with the community. With the addition of the custom battles, I wanted to see what this game was capable of by chucking the software and my machine into the deep end. A quick trip to wiki to refresh myself on the numbers and the Battle of Tsushima Straight was quickly set up.

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As I had no idea yet what the AI generated designs would look like, and because I had included the coastal battleships in the Russian Battleship count, I decided to design the Japanese battleships myself. (Okay, honestly, I did it because it's fun). Pulled out all the bells and whistles and ended up with essentially an upscaled Mikasa.

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After final tweaks to the design, was pleasantly surprised by the rapid generation of the opposing forces followed by a very quick load into the sim. Took like, 10 seconds tops, very nice. Immediately paused and set about inspecting the cruisers and escorts I had been assigned. Set all the battleships to aggressive gunnery as this seems to help with the splitting of primary and secondary battery targeting, I would allow my squadrons to choose their own targets for the duration of the battle, aside from issuing orders for smoke in destroyer squadrons under attack I limited my input to controlling the battleship squadron at the lead of the formation and utilising the follow/screen/ai orders for everything else. Possibly made things worse for myself by shuffling around some squadron assignments before the fleet was underway but it bothered me having squadrons of 3 and 5 when I could make even squadrons of 4. The battleships were merged from 2 squadrons (4 and 1) into a single 5 ship squadron. Theoretically there were a couple of cruiser squadrons ordered to follow to form a battle line, but even though it seems to have improved from previous builds, AI controlled ships still struggle to order themselves from the large ball of ships they deploy in. (The battle lasted a couple of hours, most of the ships escaped slowly in a trickle throughout the entire duration, ending up with 2 destroyer squadrons stubbornly deadlocked together and completely stationary. Edge case I know, but it seems the AI is to eager to try to drive through the middle of a line of ships to get where it wants to go, rather than slowing down and passing behind the line once the obstruction is clear. This is somewhat exacerbated by the fact that all ships take evasive manoeuvre to avoid each other, a single stray torpedo boat can easily disrupt a battle line of battleships when ideally the smaller more agile vessel should be the one to make way. It does seem this has improved, but still some work to do).

Even starting from 15km it seemed contact was immediate as the Japanese fleet got underway, the Russians sighted us first, and it was a test of patience to advance rapidly enough to reduce exposure to unanswered fire without over extending the lead elements of the fleet free of the initial traffic jam before their fellows could position themselves to assist. In future even with technologically limited sighting technology I would probably push my initial distance up to allow some time to sort the fleet out before contact is made. Not unsurprisingly, with 90 ships in play and hundreds of shells screaming towards their targets, frame rates suffered somewhat, by my estimation they probably ended up around 10-15 fps at worst, clearing up as the battle progressed. Admirably, control inputs remained smooth for the entire duration of the battle and the frame rate never stuttered so badly as to be a detriment to game play.

Trailing the fleet out behind them the battleships of the Japanese lead squadron attempted to maintain a 4-5km gap and bore west towards the leading Russian battleships, this turned out to be a good distance to avoid attempted torpedo strikes with the screening vessels of the fleet giving ample warning for the battleship squadron to plan their reaction carefully rather than having to take last minute evasive manoeuvres. I got to use my latest newfound trick in that manually setting the rudder when controlling a squadron orders all ships in squadron on to that rudder setting, effecting a battle turn away in perfect unison and looking very spiffy and professional.

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The Japanese fleet proceeded to methodically peel apart their opposition, even without direct input of targeting orders for myself, the fact that I positioned my battleships to directly engage their opposite numbers played heavily against the AI, whose own battleships main batteries were preoccupied engaging the intervening screen of destroyers and cruisers. This is another area in which I have noticed improvement, in that secondary batteries appear to be much more accurate and effective at engaging small targets, unfortunately again, there is still work to be done, the quickest way to deal with a destroyer or torpedo boat remains turning the full fury of your battlewagon's main battery on them, I feel like heavy turrets could 'benefit' from an accuracy malus based on the radians/sec their target is preventing to them as used in Eve Online. The sheer mass and inertia of those massive turrets would make accurately laying guns on small nimble targets not worth the gun crews time, the job should be left to secondary and tertiary batteries or the ships escorts, as these were the reason these systems existed in the first place. The AIs obsession with my smaller vessels also further hamstrung them, the Battleship squadron was never actively engaged by enemy gunfire for the entire duration of the engagement, leaving them free to pick apart the nearest Russian battleships one by one. (The Russians ships it should be noted, though numerous on the heavy end, were deceptively fragile thanks to minimum bulkheads almost across the board, fire and flooding proved rapidly lethal once it had taken a foothold on any of the their vessels).

The final result seemed to have been a forgone conclusion, somewhere in the mess some cruisers and destroyers managed to escape. I note now that there is an notification for enemy smoke once no vessels remain in sight, though the initial report indicates the last sinking ship as the nearest vessel, it rapidly righted itself to indicate what I presume was the correct direction once she had fully slipped beneath the waves. Sadly even after spending roughly 5 game hours under time acceleration chasing the indicated bearing I never again made contact, guess those lucky souls live to fight another day. Interestingly the torpedo boat squadron I sent ahead to scout eventually seems to have exceeded some maximum allowable distance and I lost the ability to issue heading orders to them, however switching them to AI control immediately directed them to rejoin the rest of the fleet as it cruised in good order. (Finally :P )

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Overall, I must say, I impressed with how well the game handled me asking it to put far to many vessels into play, and while there are still niggling issues here and there (as is to be expected from alpha releases), there is definite improvement being made. Kudos to the development team, keep at it lads, look forward to seeing how this game evolves as we work our way towards release and (hopefully!) well beyond.

Bonus screenshot of the Japanese flagship looking pretty as she engages the distant foe.

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Nice observations on AI behavior (I played only a couple of hours but noticed that the AI BCs focus on smaller ships even when you are in your cruiser going to execute a "Master and Commander" 100m broadside on them. Also nice idea about the main turrets having penalties like Eve - right now I don't see how we can sink small targets without using the main guns and that makes no sense.

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9 hours ago, Hjalfnar_Feuerwolf said:

Could you elaborate on your system specs?

Sure!
Running an Intel i7-8700 @ 3.2 GHz with 32 GB of RAM. GPU is an 8 GB RX570.

Not top of the line but still a decent system, did a budget upgrade earlier this year.
 

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