Weapons of Mass Distraction: Gaming the Blues Away with ‘Cold Waters’

“Holey” Submarine, Batman! My boat survived – barely – a Quick Battle in Cold Waters. (C) 2017 Killerfish Games

 Another Cloudy Day in Florida…

Hello and welcome to another installment of A Certain Point of View, Too, the blog where I give you a little bit of everything – reviews, social commentary, and even a smattering of personal observations about my life, family, and even the odd bit of emotional release. I hope your Thursday has gone well, all things considered, and that you are safe and healthy in these scary times of COVID-19.

Photo by Ethan Essig on Pexels.com

It’s almost 5 PM Eastern here in my little corner of Florida. It’s late afternoon now, and it’s cloudy and muggy outside. The temperature is 78˚F, but when you factor in such variables as 84% humidity and calm breezes (3 MPH sustained, 8 MPH gusts) blowing from the east southeast, the feels-like temperature is 87˚F. That’s much better than a heat index of 104˚F, but it’s still sticky and uncomfortable. We may get some rain within the next two hours – in short, it’s typical July weather in the Sunshine State, save the hotter-every-year trend I’ve been noticing since the 2000s.

I Have a Sinking Feeling About This….

Death of a Soviet Sierra III attack sub.

I didn’t accomplish much today –  unless you are generous and count playing a few missions in Cold Waters as an accomplishment. I didn’t feel much like doing anything else; I didn’t try to come up with a new review, nor did I give any thought to Project X – the script that, eventually, I will be working on for my friend Juan Carlos and his Popcorn Sky Productions outfit. I woke up a mite earlier than I’d have liked, for one thing, and I feel tired, somewhat sad, and unfocused.

It was kind of nice, though, to simply sit at my desk, boot up Cold Waters, and leave my real-life worries to, at least for a while, play the role of a U.S. Navy sub skipper in a battle of wits against the computer-controlled Soviet or Chinese Navies in hypothetical naval battles fit for a novel by the late Tom Clancy.

Watching a Chilikin-class oiler burn through my boat’s periscope after a Harpoon missile damaged it. I finished it off with a Mk. 48 ADCAP torpedo. (C) 2017 Killerfish Games

I can’t say, exactly, how many Quick Battles I played today in Cold Waters. The game doesn’t keep tabs on Single Missions or Quick Battles; just in the Campaign games, where you are rated on your performance after every mission – if you survive, that is – and your successes (or failures) shape the course of the conflict you are in. Unlike Red Storm Rising, the game that inspired Killerfish Games to create Cold Waters, you only get a tally of the ships and subs you sink,  your remaining weapons stores, and the status of your boat and its systems. (If you were sunk in a Quick Mission – and I was sunk twice today, you’re told what type of enemy weapon bagged you.)

I guess I must have played four Quick Missions: two in the 1984 NATO vs. USSR scenario in the North Atlantic, and two in 2000 U.S. vs. the People’s Liberation Army Navy in the South China Sea. If my count is correct – and it might not be, then my record for today is two wins, two losses, divided equally among the two time periods/sets of adversaries.

Interestingly, when you play Quick Battles, you select – more or less – the enemy units you will face, the date, time of day, weather, and sea state. If you want to make the game incredibly difficult, you can pit your sub against a mix of threats that includes submarines, capital ships, escorts, and aircraft (fixed wing as well as helicopters).

I have to add, though, that when you are selecting the ship/sub classes you want to face off against in a Quick Battle, you must know that the game will randomize the specific vessels that will participate in the engagement. So, if you choose the tactical aviation cruiser Kiev as part of the enemy fleet, there are various options that the game might choose:

  • It can deploy one Kiev-class ship, as you expect
  • It can deploy two ships of the class, which makes the engagement harder
  • It can simply not deploy the Kiev at all and use other ships from your wish list instead

I’m not that good yet – today’s gaming session proved that beyond a doubt – but I am trying to ease into fighting against formidable surface task forces that include the Kirov-class nuclear-powered battle cruiser and the Kiev-class “tactical aircraft-carrying cruiser, Sovremennyclass destroyers, Krivak-class frigates, and even Sierra III attack subs.

I think I’m competent against task groups that don’t include more than one submarine escort; I’ve acquitted myself decently against Soviet or Chinese flotillas with one Sierra, Alfa, or Han-class attack sub attached; however when the game assigns two subs to the mix, either I get sunk before the mission ends or I fail in my mission objective – sink an amphibious force or destroy an enemy capital ship – because the subs will distract me while the more valuable targets escape.

A People’s Liberation Army Navy landing ship, tank (LST) sinks after being hit by a torpedo. Note the gash in the ship’s port side. (C) 2017 Killerfish Games

Cold Waters is one of those games that requires the ability to concentrate and make decisions quickly. The game was designed and programmed by folks who studied real-life tactics used by the three navies depicted in the game, and even if you don’t choose Aggressive enemies in Quick Missions sessions, you’re not going to be facing “bad guys” that will say “Please kill me, Mr. Submarine Captain.”

Nope. The enemy might not start the Quick Mission already alerted and hunting you, but the minute their sonars detect the transients from your torpedo launches or see a Harpoon missile rocketing out of the water from your launch point, those enemy ships and subs will quickly start searching for you.

In fact, if you don’t move away from your initial attack point – a maneuver called in naval circles “clearing your datum” – quickly, you will be hearing cries of “Torpedo in the water! Torpedo in the water!” That’s bound to get your adrenaline flowing, and if you are not paying attention to your situational awareness, the next thing you know is: Ka-BOOM!

A cool stern-on view of my Seawolf-class boat, with a sinking enemy ship heading to the seafloor in the distance. (C) 2017 Killerfish Games

And that’s without selecting the Aggressive option. I shudder to think how the enemy ships and subs  maneuver and fight in Aggressive mode.

Anyway, yeah. I didn’t do anything terribly productive today – basically burned four hours on a game instead of reviewing something or working on a script. Maybe that was not wise, and I hope tomorrow is a more productive day.

On the bright side, though, I didn’t give myself enough time to think about unpleasant or unhappy topics. (Except, of course, the current President and the COVID-19 pandemic.)    

The Kiev, burning fiercely after two missile hits, sinks stern-first into the Cold Waters of the Norwegian Sea. (C) 2017 Killerfish Games

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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