Old Gamers Never Die: Campaigning in ‘Cold Waters’ is Fun, But Not Easy

A People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Kilo-class sub goes down to the bottom during my last battle as skipper of the USS Seawolf. All screenshots are from actual gameplay. Graphics and game design are (C) 2017 Killerfish Games.

Hi, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in New Hometown, Florida, and as I said in my previous post, I am taking the weekend off from working on the screenplay I’m writing for Juan Carlos Hernandez and his team at Popcorn Sky Productions. I need to recharge my batteries before I can get more into the story I want to tell, and since I can’t go out and hang out with friends here, I can either (a) watch movies, (b) read books while listening to classical music, or (c) play games on my computer. This weekend, as you can see, I opted to play computer games.

A Mark-48 ADCAP torpedo heads toward its target, a Chinese surface warship.

Late yesterday afternoon I started a campaign on Cold Waters called U.S. vs. China in the South China Sea 2000. In an alternate version of the late 1990s, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics never collapsed; impoverished by its Cold War military spending and lackluster civilian economy, the Soviet Union has reluctantly entered a vassal-like relationship with the People’s Republic of China. It no longer controls Eastern Europe and has withdrawn its armies from the now-irrelevant Warsaw Pact, but to earn hard currency, the Kremlin not only sells arms and materiel to Beijing, but it also “lends” Red Navy warships and subs to China, complete with officers and crews that serve as “advisers” to the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

In this version of history, China is far more assertive and militarily aggressive than it really was in the last years of the 20th Century. As a result, Taiwan declares its independence and Great Britain postpones the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China. This strains the relations between the Chinese government and the West, and eventually, several political and economic crises arise in East Asia. Inevitably, diplomacy fails, and these rising tensions lead to war between China and the United States.

I started the Sino-American War as skipper of USS Seawolf. And although I did a decent job against PLAN surface ships and subs during my first war patrol, my boat – the most expensive nuclear-powered attack sub built for the U.S. Navy – was lost when I attacked an enemy convoy near its home port on the East China coast. Seawolf was badly damaged by an enemy torpedo and had to be scuttled when she landed on the sea bottom and could not be freed.

Luckily, I was one of the survivors of that disaster and was rescued with most of my sub’s crew by U.S. Navy ships that were close enough to render assistance. And because I managed to achieve my last assignment – I destroyed an enemy supply convoy and an escorting Kilo-class diesel sub – I was assigned to command the Los Angeles-class boat USS New York City.

Unfortunately, even though I have successfully accomplished some of my assigned missions, the war is not going well for us.

Although my two boats have sunk quite a few enemy ships and submarines, including Russian and Chinese merchant vessels used to resupply the enemy, I did lose the Seawolf and failed far more missions than I would have liked. Part of it is that the enemy sends out many task forces and small groups of subs at the same time. So when Pacific Fleet HQ at Pearl Harbor says, “Hey, we need you to attack a Chinese amphibious force that is leaving Point X and is heading for Point Y, intercept it ASAP!” it is not that easy. My boat might not be anywhere close to either location, and making the transit involves trying to figure out where the target group is, what course is it taking, and where is the best intercept point for my boat to be before the enemy accomplishes its mission.

This means that when I am in the Transit map I have to not only know where the enemy is sailing from, but where it is heading to. And because Transits are made in accelerated time, a navigational error on my part can give the enemy several opportunities to give me the slip and accomplish his mission before I can accomplish mine.

The Transit Map

From where I sit, it does not look like I will win the war at sea for the United States. Yes, I’ve sunk 20 warships and 11 subs. I’ve also destroyed eight merchant vessels. And I have earned three decorations, including the the Navy Commendation Medal and the Distinguished Medal. But I have only completed only six of my assigned missions – and I lost a pricey piece of hardware when I scuttled the Seawolf.

Good thing this is only a game!

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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