Thanks for dropping by. It’s been a busy Christmas season for me: I’m working on a short-term contract up in Redmond, which as it turns out is a 55-minute drive from my house in good conditions. The good news is that I’ve worked out a route that keeps me off our jammed freeways and moving for most of the time. It’s a scenic drive: I get a nice look at the Cascades on Route 18, I drive through a pretty valley with striking forested cliffs and picturesque homes along the Issaquah-Hobart Road, and then I drive by multi-million dollar lakefront homes along the East Lake Sammamish Parkway. But it’s two hours in the car each day, no two ways about it.Anyway, this week: What I was thinking for the last set of War at Sea, the NRA, and Johnson’s Popcorn.
Gaming: As promised, this week I’m going to continue with my reflections on things I hoped to do with a final set of War at Sea. Last time I looked at the Axis side, so naturally this time I’ll share some thoughts about the Allied side.Belleau Wood (reprint): The Independence-class CVLs are represented by only one unit in Set 1, so they’re long overdue for another unit. Belleau Wood had an excellent war record; her planes sank the Japanese carrier Hiyo at the Philippine Sea. Making a point of providing a different SA mix from Princeton was all I really had in mind.
Expert Dauntless (reprint): We took note of the fact that players wanted more of the early-set carrier aircraft just to fill out their fleet builds, so we were working on reprinting the really useful planes. I figured the US could use a dive bomber with a Search bonus for long-range scenarios—LCDR McCluskey certainly deserves an AANM flavor text mention!USS Marblehead (reprint): We only had one representative of the Omaha class light cruisers. USS Marblehead had the good fortune to be badly damaged in the early part of the Dutch East Indies campaign and sent off for repairs, thus avoiding destruction at Java Sea. I was thinking about maybe giving this unit to the Russians as the Murmansk—the US Navy gave the Russians the cruiser USS Milwaukee in 1944.
New Orleans (reprint): A reprint of USS San Francisco. That was a big class of cruisers, and we only had the one so far.USS Patterson (reprint): This was basically a reprint of USS Bagley, which hadn’t been reprinted yet. USS Patterson had a very active war career—Pearl Harbor, Savo Island, subhunting, kamikaze defense, everything. I was thinking of taking off the Defective Torpedoes SA that Bagley has, and maybe giving her Close Escort, which the US doesn’t have very much of.
PV-1 Ventura (new sculpt): The US had a number of good patrol planes that we hadn’t gotten to yet. The Ventura could have provided the US with a torpedo- or rocket-capable patrol bomber. Sure, we could have done the B-26 or B-17, but they already had similar units in play. The Ventura would have been more different in the US inventory, and it was pretty important historically.USS South Dakota (reprint): The Massachusetts has been looking for a reprint since set 2. And South Dakota would have provided us with an excuse to print a major US combatant with a nasty negative SA, just to show all those “RB is a US fanboy” guys that yes, I really would do that.
USS Texas (new sculpt): We were waffling between Texas and New Mexico, and Texas was going to win out because she’s a monument that you can go visit today. She was going to get some shore bombardment specials or shore battery suppression, to commemorate her role in the Battle of Cherbourg.HMS Implacable (new sculpt): The British have several early- and mid-war carriers to choose from; this would have provided a late-war option, with performance and capacity close to the major American fleet carriers. Her planes attacked Tirpitz in Norway, and she saw action in the British Pacific Fleet.
HMS Lion (new sculpt): The British still had lots of old battleships to do, but we wanted to provide a sexier late-war option if possible. We were really torn between Vanguard, which appeared too late to see any action, and a hypothetical battleship. Since we indulged in fantasy battleships for the US and the Germans, we figured we could give the British one of their speculative ships.HMS Upholder (new sculpt): This has been on my list for a long time. The U-class submarines were smaller than the T-class boats, which are the only other British submarine we have in print. It would be comparable in basic stats to the Type VII U-boats--the Allies don't have a defense 4 submarine yet. Upholder had an amazing war record, too.
Seafire (new sculpt): This one, too. The Seafires saw a lot of action in the Pacific, specializing in fleet defense against kamikaze attacks. The Sea Hurricane is a second-rate carrier fighter, so the Seafire would give the Brits a good late-war carrier fighter with the Combat Air Patrol special. I’m not sure exactly where it would have measured up vs. the Hellcat, Fw 190, Corsair, or George; I bet there’s a great debate to be had about where exactly it would fall in that mix.HMS Valiant (reprint): I mentioned this one a little while back. It was close enough to HMS Warspite that we could use it as a reprint. She saw action at the Battle of Cape Matapan, beating the tar out of some Italian heavy cruisers. I was thinking about giving her a Night Fighter special ability—the Brits were probably the second-best night fighters after the Japanese, and the Italians did NOT want to engage the British in night actions. I wanted to sprinkle some more night fighting into the Royal Navy.
HMS Berwick (reprint): Through Set VI, the Australians had two County-class heavy cruisers, while the British only had one. In fact, the British hadn’t seen a modern heavy cruiser since Set II. The County-class ships had a bunch of different configurations, so it’s tricky to find one that’s a reasonably close match to the existing model. Berwick dueled the Hipper while defending a convoy, and also worked the Murmansk Run, so she might have received a Bad Weather Fighter special ability.HMS Naiad (reprint): We only had one Dido-class model out there (the Euryalus in Set V), and we felt that the British could use more light cruisers. The Dido sculpt is a decent looking model, and these ships were very active in the war. I also considered HMS Edinburgh as a pick-up in this slot. I would have loved to do more new models of the old cruisers still in service, but as I observed before, the budget just wasn’t going to allow it.
Joffre (new sculpt): If the Germans get the Graf Zeppelin, the French can certainly have the Joffre. It was a much better design than Bearn, if not quite up to the standards of the modern carrier designs in other fleets. With a capacity of 40 aircraft, she would have had a capacity of 2 squadrons.Late.299 (new sculpt): If the French had continued to develop their carrier aviation, they were considering a new carrier-borne torpedo bomber based on the Late.298 seaplane. While this plane is a bit hypothetical, we thought it was important for each country to eventually receive at least one unit in each unit category. The French could in good conscience embark the D.520 or Wildcat as a fighter and the Vindicator as a dive bomber; the Late.299 would have served as their torpedo bomber option.
Bezeviers (reprint): The French only had one submarine in the game, Casabianca, and we neglected to give her the ability to engage other submarines. I’d been meaning to fix that for a while, and Bezeviers is the most noteworthy sister ship of the existing French submarine.Java (new sculpt): This is another one that we’d wanted to get to for several sets now, just so you could get closer to a Battle of the Java Sea scenario. The Dutch cruisers Sumatra and Java were roughly comparable to the Omaha-class cruisers in the US Navy.
ORP Krakowiak (new sculpt): A British Hunt-class destroyer escort manned by the Polish Navy. The Hunt class was one of the largest and most important ship classes not yet represented in the game, so we were anxious to get to them. Krakowiak would have provided many proxies for us. The Hunt-class DE’s were very active in the Channel skirmishing.K21 (new sculpt): I was waffling between giving the US another submarine class, or giving the Russians a large submarine option. The existing Russian sub, S13, is quite small; K21 was a large seagoing fleet submarine. She attacked Tirpitz during the 1942 convoy battles; the Soviets claimed two hits, the Germans noticed none. But I might have given her a Battleship Hunter SA for trying.
So, there you go—the Allied units I hoped to get to in a Set VII of the game. Sorry we didn’t get there, I think there were some very interesting units in this mix.
Politics/Current Events: The Newtown shooting is too terrible for words; I have actively avoided watching the coverage, because I can’t bear to see it. With good reason, this horrible event is prompting a renewed debate about guns in America, and it’s pretty clear that lawmakers are going to be wrangling over the issue in the next few months, so it’s unfortunately a political issue as well as a terrible tragedy.I will say this much: The NRA’s “armed guards” proposal doesn’t strike me as ludicrous. Would any law short of universal gun confiscation have stopped the Newtown massacre? Probably not. But a trained person with a gun in the right place might have. Many liberal commentators (and quite a few of my liberal friends) have reacted to this as if it is the most insane idea they’ve ever heard, right up there with “let’s not have schools anymore” or “perhaps we should shoot the students beforehand to deny the killer targets.” I’m not sure that providing schools with armed guards is a *good* idea, but it’s pretty clear to me that people entrusted with protecting other people against threats of horrible violence are usually armed. Maybe an armed guard would have been victim number one, and nothing would have been different—or maybe that attack would have been deterred, or stopped before it ran its terrible course. It seems to me that the idea is worth discussing, in conjunction with measures to control access to firearms, restrict high-capacity magazines, or improve public mental-health services. What’s wrong with an “all of the above” approach?
I have some more to say on the right to bear arms, what it meant historically, and perhaps what it ought to be construed as in the modern world… but I’m already running long on this post, so I’ll save them for now.
The Finer Things: Johnson’s Popcorn caramel corn. This is a staple of the Ocean City boardwalk, and is perhaps the finest caramel-covered popcorn in the world. Each year around Christmastime we usually receive a tin or two as gifts from family back home, and man, is it good. You can actually order the stuff online these days, and you know what? It’s so awesome I’m going to share the link.http://www.johnsonspopcorn.com/
To me, it tastes like summer. What more can I say?