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Leandros

Testing the AI.....

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Some testing on the AI….

Not to be too critical I have found one mission I find quite realistic in the PT game. That is Nachtjagd (Night Hunting) in the Channel section. This is about a six-boat flotilla (S-boats) obviously set in the period of fall 1940. I say this because, according to the description, the German naval leadership has just discovered that the S-boats can achieve successes against the Royal Navy and is therefore sending an enlarged unit over to the English coast to hunt for enemy coastal convoys. The S-boats were quite successful from the start and particularly after the fall of France when the French ports became available for bases. Alas, fall 1940.

This mission takes place during night-time which is historically correct. The number of S-boats participating in such a mission usually numbered 4-6, operating as specifically organized flotillas. This is something the game should cater for. In the Silent Hunter game you are allocated to a flotilla and where this is based is your general operating area. If you ask me, Akella should have made much more out of this. The MTB environment, being as small as it was, they could have given you a choice of the actual commanders during the war. For example, if you picked a highly experienced captain, you’d be given higher odds or you had to qualify through a number of missions to get there.

Right away I would say that the radar thing in the game is nonsense. It should at least be possible to shut it down (is it possible?). To my knowledge, no MTB’s had radars mounted until maybe in the last year of the war. They eventually got RWR’s – radar warning receivers. Destroyers, mostly destroyer leaders, started getting them in 1941. On the other hand, already during the fall of 1940 the German coastal artillery had full radar coverage of the Channel from the Thames Estuary to south of Portsmouth. As the German coastal artillery was under the navy there were good communication between this and their vessels operating in the Channel so these should have a good idea of where the enemy was.

Back to the mission – we are playing the German side: The S-boat flotilla is on a northerly course in a wide line abreast. They are under the command of the leader. Then, in a few seconds pops up in front of us several enemy MTB’s in a wide arc heading directly towards our formation. How can this be? This could only be if they had radar or quite accidently was in that position, which is unlikely. I do nothing, just extends the range to the northerly waypoint to see if the AI does anything with my boats. No, as they are being attacked from several directions they are continuing straight ahead even if they give fire. Then a destroyer and a transport come into view but the flotilla continues straight ahead. A couple of the enemy MTB’s are destroyed, as are a couple of ours. No attempt is made of using torpedoes against destroyers or transports. When we have cut through the whole enemy convoy there is one S-boat left, no destroyers or transports damaged. No interference by the AI except an order to open fire.

I play it one more time. The enemy MTB’s pop up in exactly the same location. This is really irksome and provides for very little variation in the game with consequent lack of long-time interest. I now disengage from the flotilla and withdraw. As the other boats are no longer under my command I’d expect some AI initiative from them. But, no – they continue on the same course, passing straight through the convoy, gradually dismembered. No use of torpedoes.

Having passed through the convoy twice I know this is a large one with several transports and destroyers. The third time I take control of all the boats. After a couple of tests I find that the intelligent (!) way to do it is to withdraw in different directions, towing the enemy MTB’s along. While two 2-boat sections makes diversionary actions the third can go around and attack the transports and destroyers with torpedoes as they approach. Since you see your own units all the time it is a little too easy to control them, one has to assume that radio is used. The realism problem is that you also see the enemy units which are close to your far-away partner. Well, it is a game. After a few trials, using more time and stealth each time, I am able to sink all the transports without own losses. If there had been more variation in the opponents’ behavior I might have had three times more fun.

A proposal for future scenarios/missions: The Norwegian navy had a MTB base on Shetland under British auspices. During the dark season they regularly crossed over to the Norwegian coast and hunted the German convoys going up and down the sheltered lane. They often hid along islands under camouflage nets through the day with an observer on a ridge communicating with the boat by a field telephone. There was many a duel fought with the German convoy escorts.

Finally, it should be possible to speed up the game much more.

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Some testing on the AI….

Not to be too critical I have found one mission I find quite realistic in the PT game. That is Nachtjagd (Night Hunting) in the Channel section. This is about a six-boat flotilla (S-boats) obviously set in the period of fall 1940. I say this because, according to the description, the German naval leadership has just discovered that the S-boats can achieve successes against the Royal Navy and is therefore sending an enlarged unit over to the English coast to hunt for enemy coastal convoys. The S-boats were quite successful from the start and particularly after the fall of France when the French ports became available for bases. Alas, fall 1940.

This mission takes place during night-time which is historically correct. The number of S-boats participating in such a mission usually numbered 4-6, operating as specifically organized flotillas. This is something the game should cater for. In the Silent Hunter game you are allocated to a flotilla and where this is based is your general operating area. If you ask me, Akella should have made much more out of this. The MTB environment, being as small as it was, they could have given you a choice of the actual commanders during the war. For example, if you picked a highly experienced captain, you’d be given higher odds or you had to qualify through a number of missions to get there.

Right away I would say that the radar thing in the game is nonsense. It should at least be possible to shut it down (is it possible?). To my knowledge, no MTB’s had radars mounted until maybe in the last year of the war. They eventually got RWR’s – radar warning receivers. Destroyers, mostly destroyer leaders, started getting them in 1941. On the other hand, already during the fall of 1940 the German coastal artillery had full radar coverage of the Channel from the Thames Estuary to south of Portsmouth. As the German coastal artillery was under the navy there were good communication between this and their vessels operating in the Channel so these should have a good idea of where the enemy was.

Back to the mission – we are playing the German side: The S-boat flotilla is on a northerly course in a wide line abreast. They are under the command of the leader. Then, in a few seconds pops up in front of us several enemy MTB’s in a wide arc heading directly towards our formation. How can this be? This could only be if they had radar or quite accidently was in that position, which is unlikely. I do nothing, just extends the range to the northerly waypoint to see if the AI does anything with my boats. No, as they are being attacked from several directions they are continuing straight ahead even if they give fire. Then a destroyer and a transport come into view but the flotilla continues straight ahead. A couple of the enemy MTB’s are destroyed, as are a couple of ours. No attempt is made of using torpedoes against destroyers or transports. When we have cut through the whole enemy convoy there is one S-boat left, no destroyers or transports damaged. No interference by the AI except an order to open fire.

I play it one more time. The enemy MTB’s pop up in exactly the same location. This is really irksome and provides for very little variation in the game with consequent lack of long-time interest. I now disengage from the flotilla and withdraw. As the other boats are no longer under my command I’d expect some AI initiative from them. But, no – they continue on the same course, passing straight through the convoy, gradually dismembered. No use of torpedoes.

Having passed through the convoy twice I know this is a large one with several transports and destroyers. The third time I take control of all the boats. After a couple of tests I find that the intelligent (!) way to do it is to withdraw in different directions, towing the enemy MTB’s along. While two 2-boat sections makes diversionary actions the third can go around and attack the transports and destroyers with torpedoes as they approach. Since you see your own units all the time it is a little too easy to control them, one has to assume that radio is used. The realism problem is that you also see the enemy units which are close to your far-away partner. Well, it is a game. After a few trials, using more time and stealth each time, I am able to sink all the transports without own losses. If there had been more variation in the opponents’ behavior I might have had three times more fun.

A proposal for future scenarios/missions: The Norwegian navy had a MTB base on Shetland under British auspices. During the dark season they regularly crossed over to the Norwegian coast and hunted the German convoys going up and down the sheltered lane. They often hid along islands under camouflage nets through the day with an observer on a ridge communicating with the boat by a field telephone. There was many a duel fought with the German convoy escorts.

Finally, it should be possible to speed up the game much more.

Correct name of the mission was
Jagdsaison
- Hunting Season.

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