Monthly Archives: June 2012

Currently, my wife and I are watching Alliance Tournament X in EVE. This is something of a milestone for me, being the first time my internet connection has allowed me to reliably stream the tournament. The Alliance Tournament series is one of the things that keeps me interested in EVE – and not just because of the drama that is sometimes associated with them.

As I remember it, shortly after I started playing EVE there was Alliance Tournament V – and it was a marvellous way to learn about the different alliances and different ships of New Eden. However, that is just a side benefit. On the whole it is just good entertainment.

In essence I suppose it is no different from Euro 2012 – except I am actually somewhat interested in the result of Alliance Tournament X and I could not care less about Euro 2012.

Last night, while Melian was feeding, I finished researching the S-51, thereby eliting the KV-2 tank (meaning all modules and follow-on tanks for that vehicle researched). It has so far been the longest research grind I have done in World of Tanks – it takes 123500 experience. I actually started the endeavour back before the KV-1 and KV-2 split into two tanks. The experience transferred to the KV-2, and after I had used some to research the new KV-2 modules, I had about 50k left-over, and since then I have been playing games with the KV-2.

Back in the old KV I never used the “derp-gun” – a howitzer that did high-HE damage (but with little penetration). However, in the KV-2 I have used the 152mm M-10 howitzer (ie, the same thing) exclusively. HE shells always tend to damage, but how much damage is especially variable as the shell rarely penetrates he armour. The M-10 howitzer however does 900 damage, meaning it is capable of damaging every possible tank on the battlefield, up to and including Tier X.

That said, at some point I really should try the other primary gun for this tank, which has high armor penetration.

For a while I was wondering, after eliting this tank, if I would keep it or sell it. However, I have decided to keep it, along with the KV-1. My next Soviet Heavy Tank is going to be the KV-3. I am missing out the T-150 (as I have the KV-3 already researched from the old KV). The KV-1S did attract my attention for a while, and this is the tank that leads to the other Soviet Heavy tank line, but ultimately I decided right now I don’t want to pursue another Tier VI heavy when I have a Tier VII waiting in the wings.

Saving up the credits now 🙂

So, this last week I have gone back to work – which I do not like I assure you. Or rather, I like my work well enough, but certainly I wish to be home with my wife and daughter a great deal more.

Practically, this has dramatically reduced the time I have for writing – not just because the hours I am spending at work – but because when I get home I need to spend some time looking after my daughter so my wife can get some much-needed sleep. How long this period will take I have no idea. The occasional night my daughter has settled down between feeds and slept a fair portion of the night, and other nights she hardly does at all. Anyway, until such time as that is all sorted out posting is likely to be variable. That said, I do have a long weekend thanks to some annual leave, so hopefully I will get something written.

I have managed to play some World of Tanks, and had an initial impression of the new battle modes: I like them. Also, while there was clearly a certain amount of “learning as one goes” by all concerned – including me! – there was none of the utter chaos I was half-expecting.

My experience is, admittedly, limited so far. The Assault battle-mode I have played four times; twice on the Karelia (once as attacker and once as defender), and twice on Erlenberg map (both times as attacker). I was wondering if the defenders would have too great an advantage (seeing as they would be defending and all) – but initially at least this does not appear to be the case.

So far I have also played four Encounter battles. Two of these were on the El Halluf map – one from either side, both of which we lost. The annoying thing about one of these losses is my over-aggressiveness my have caused a mini-lemming train leading to the loss. The other maps were Siegfried and Ensk, a defeat and victory respectively.

The maps play very differently so far with the different victory conditions – and with the different starting areas. In Karelia Assault, for example, rather than starting at the north-east and south-west as in the Standard Battle, the defending team starts in the north-west and the attacking team in the south-east.

I have also encountered some French tanks of course, mostly at the lower tiers. A couple of Tier VI tank destroyers being the highest encountered so far – doubtless with saved up free experience. It will be interesting to see how they develop.

I have played each new map so far once, defeats both times – in the Widepark map a really quick destruction too. Will need more time to evaluate 🙂

So far though, I like 7.4

Today my daughter is twelve days old, and already I have come to a very disagreeable conclusion: as far as the various organisations of state go (ie health services) I might as well not exist. This was brought dramatically home to me when the Health Visitor was taking the medical history of my daughter, and she asked for my wife’s family history, but when I offered my own family’s medical history she said that was not important.

Not important, because apparently as far as the NHS is concerned children only get their genes from their mothers.

Today also we had another visit, and the Health Visitor basically ignored me almost the entire time, except on one or two occasions when she realised that she was being impolite.

It seems that we won the midwife lottery – who right from the start made me feel a valued part of the process of pregnancy, and who spoke to us both. Of course, she asked my wife various questions, but she also asked me questions to (such as how I was doing, and the like) without giving the impression I was an after-thought. Unfortunately she went on holiday shortly after the birth, and in the post-natal care both midwives we have dealt with, and the Health Visitor, have not managed to make me feel included at all.

To be fair, the fault is not entirely theirs, but the system in which they are working. After all, as regards the medical history above, it is not the Health Visitor’s fault that apparently the form she was filling in does not require to know the father’s details.

All of which I find more than a little upsetting. Indeed, after today’s visit I felt so small and insignificant I will admit I cried. I just held my daughter and whispered to her “Du har en far” and “You have a father”. Being a father is, along with my marriage, the most extra-ordinary and wonderful thing to have happened to me. I adore my daughter, and want to be the best father I can possibly be. However, my impression thus far is that the British state doesn’t want that, in fact it doesn’t want me to exist at all.

On the other hand, it is not just the state but our entire culture. I wonder if people realise how “Mother and Baby” groups sound to fathers who do wish to take a more active part in what their children are doing. Apparently Equality legislation only works one way – and by that jibe it is fair to say that along with being upset I am more than a little angry.

The sad thing is, I don’t expect it ever to get better, especially since on Monday I go back to work.

As I am writing this I am downloading the new patch for World of Tanks, released for the EU server today. As an aside, I will be very happy once get their announced global service up and running – coming from EVE Online as my first MMO I have never understood why so many other games insist on region-specific servers.

I have already spoken about some of the major changes in the 7.4 release here, and I don’t think anything has particularly changed in that since the test server release notes. However, reading the actual patch notes, there are a few other items that have caught my eye.

Firstly that the Komarin and Swamp maps have been removed from the random map rotation. I don’t really understand this move, just like I didn’t particularly get removing the Province map from all but low-tier battles. I do think this will make random games a little less varied than they might be, and I hope one day they will be brought back.

Also, when a crew-member fulfils more than one job on a tank, that crew-member will now be able to learn skills specific to all the roles he is carrying out. Quite a nice little addition I think, which I imagine I will utilise in my Marder II crew at some point. The Large Repair Kit and Large First Aid Kit – Premium consumables one pays real money for – have also been given a moderate boost, doubtless to try and make them more appealing. Now in addition to their major use (repairing all damage or healing all crew members respectively) they grant a small bonus to repair time and critical hit avoidance.

They have also reworked some elements of damage – and from what I have read this is causing a certain amount of ire on the forums. I suspect that HE damage and critical hits is very much a work in progress still, as they tinker to get optimum formulae. I also suspect that after a short time the majority of folks will adjust to the new reality – in other words the cynic in me is doubtful the complaints are fully justified. Just reading game forums (MMO and single-player) for fifteen years means I tend to take alot of whining with a pinch of salt, as although it is sometimes justified frequently it is not.

They have rebalanced various higher-tier tanks. None of this directly impacts me – except I did notice they have buffed the KV-4 and nerfed the T110E5. You don’t have to dig very far to realise that many considered the KV-4 a weak tank for its tier, and the T110E5 to be a bit overpowered. I only mention this as it demonstrates to me that are indeed aware of such imbalances, and it is always heartening to see a company address such things, even if slowly (*cough* CCP technetium *cough*).

All in all, it looks a very good patch. It is almost downloaded now, and with a bit of luck I will get a chance to play some of it today. I am eagerly waiting for the blood-baths of the new game modes and new maps, though I reminded of the line: be careful what you wish for… 😀

Like another new father I am finding a need for one-handed gaming – and MMOs are not the easiest to play with only one hand. EVE is the only one that comes close, but EVE “suffers” from requiring more than the average amount of alertness and brainpower – which are also somewhat lacking just now 🙂

So when my wife told me Melian had told her to buy me a computer game for Father’s Day I ended up following in Gank’s footsteps and asking for Civilization V.

Somehow, when I was ten or eleven, I persuaded my parents to buy me the first in the Civilization series, when it was brand-new. I was blown away, and therefore I have always had a fond spot in my heart for the series. I spent hours in Civilization I and II, and also in Alpha Centauri and Colonization. Civilization III however disappointed me, as did Civilization IV (though in other ways). This present therefore was strictly for nostalgia – and because it is very easy to play holding a baby in one arm!

That said, my first game has been very enjoyable. One of the things I like about the Civ-series of games is that, regardless of the victory conditions, one basically sets your own goals. I also tend to have something of an internal monologue while I play, constructing the history of my civilisation. A little bit of extra fun at no added cost.

All that said, I am hoping to be able to play some World of Tanks tomorrow once the 7.4 patch goes live on the EU server to witness some of the chaos of the new game-modes. Should be fun 🙂

So today, in between other tasks, I decided to see if I could level the M2 MT – the Tier III American Medium tank. This is as I want to put myself in a position to learn the American Heavy Tank tree, and also reach the Sherman (so that I can eventually drive the Panzer IV, T34, and Sherman – three of the most iconic tanks of the war). With tier III tanks (though not artillery) this is still a quite achievable goal – and it took me twenty matches. I ended up with a 50/50 win/loss rate, which is probably fair, especially considering that in three or four matches I played really very poorly. I scored 13 kills, and one Sniper battle-honour.

So what did I think of the M2 MT? Well, like many tanks the “stock” (unresearched) tank plays very differently from the tank with all modules researched. The initial gun (37mm M5) was severely underpowered, which meant the first few games in particular were quite frustrating. There are two possible upgrades, the 37mm M6 which was basically a slightly more powerful version of the first gun. I tried that for three or four games, but was equally unhappy with it so went to the 75mm M3 Howitzer. This was much more to my liking, but required some adjustments. I think my performance would greatly improve with a little more experience – but I doubt I will play any more battles with this tank now, as ultimately the M2 MT seemed just a bit too fragile.

To be sure, I never intended to play this tank for more than it took me to research it out. But did I have fun? Well, the answer to that is yes, I did, especially once I got the howitzer. The twenty games played quite quickly over the course of the day, and were good entertainment to dip in and out of as circumstances allowed.

The M3 Lee is now unlocked. I doubt I will acquire it just yet – but it is now there ready for when I want to start working my way further into the American tree.

It is true what they say: when one becomes a parent, one gets tired. Very tired.

In our case this is not because our daughter is not sleeping – she is, but only when she is cuddled up to either my wife or myself. Within five minutes of being placed down, she wakes. I am sure this is partly as a result of having to stay in hospital for just over two days following the birth: for a place supposedly meant to be of benefit, few places are as unsettling and contrary to good health.

Before the birth I was rather hoping that being somewhat insomniac and used to getting by on little sleep would put me in a certain amount of practice – and it has. There is, however, now a new element in play. There is this wonderful little girl, for whom my wife and I are fully responsible. It is a wonderful and frankly terrifying at the same time.

I will get back to gaming blogging in due course – indeed I am part-way through writing a World in Tanks post at the moment.

Jeg blev far 0232 den 10. juni til Melian Mischa Maskell.

Jeg elsker dig min søde og vidunderlige datter. Du gør mig så lykkelig

(I became father, at 0232 10th June, to Melian Mischa Maskell.

I love you my sweet and wonderful daughter. You make me so happy)

Vi kom hjem fra sygehuset i eftermiddags. Det var lang tid på sygehuset, men mor og baby har det godt – så det har far også!

(We came home from hospital this afternoon. It was a long time in hospital, but mother and baby are well – and dad is as well!)