Friday, November 24, 2006

Up against a veteran in Harpoon3 game.....

Perhaps almost always, a pc game session against a human player - especially up against a veteran with tactical and strategic cutting-edge - would be much more pulsating and exulting than against the built-in AI which is more often than not of absymal or haphazard performance.

No, the game is not about killing whales using harpoons(so environmentalist please don't flame my blog!), or that matters. As clarification the 'Harpoon' game is air and naval combat simulation game based the board game conceived by former naval officer Larry Bond. Despite the age of the iterations it still remains a classic amongst naval wargamers, for being the glorified naval chess yet unsurpassed in its game mechanism.

My virgin voyage in multi-player game up against Herman Hum, who is a veteran of Harpoon, and whose gaming skill and active participation is venerable within the 'Harpoon' community. We duelled it out in a typical 'NATO vs Warsaw Pact' scenario, both sides having only submarines at disposal. Thus, it was a scenario of 'hide-and-seek', one of suspense and tension despite its retro graphics and sound effect.

My first match ended up as a fiasco, with both of my submarines annihilating without even scathing even a scratch to his fleet, so more all within a few minutes from the commencement till the end. During the session my impetuosity compelled me to sail my submarines at flank speed to seek targets, and that exposed the whereabout of one half of my fleet, which was sank upon detection by Herman. With a foolhardy desire to exact vengeance I hurled the last submarine to crash head-on, only to succumb to his plummeting from his subs and scuttle my fleet.

With an 'Obi-Wan Kenobi' style of mentoring, he taught me the finer points of the game: the importance of stealth of submarines, not to cruise too fast, the techniques of setting up weapon defense system and the likes. By our second session I had wilied and sank one of his sub at the start. Infuriated in part for laxing his guard against me, he sought for my subs assiduously. With a spark of wit I decided to lure him by having one of the sub moving at flank speed, while the other leisurely cruised towards the incoming sub, in order to ambush and destroy it.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that my subs were all nuclear-propelled- meaning it would generate more noise than electric-diesel counterparts- and hence suspectible to detection- and also that I was whisking it a bit to fast, Herman discovered my ambush and we shot missile against each other simultaneously, and as a result both of our subs sank together, akin to a mutual destruction.

Aghasted by the unfolding drama, and after which I recovered from it, I continued to patrol the seas, with the knowledge that Herman had more subs than I after the mutual destruction. Eventually, we detected each other's subs and had a final showdown, a la John wayne style. Hurling arsenal of destruction at one another, I tried to escape the onslaught by moving at flank 90 degrees away from it, but to no avail and I had to scuttle my last ship while all my attacks missed. Game Over.

In all it was a humbling gaming experience, but at the same time exciting and exulting- apart from two abrupt disconnections( fortunately the saving mechanism allows us to recommence our sessions)- and I profited much by learning more about the game. Perhaps next time, Herman shall show me the rope to surface-ship warfare in our next Harpoon gaming session?