Friday, April 20, 2007


There are computer games that are far better than chess. I’m not talking about live action games which, at my advanced age and diminishing motor skills, I consider to be childish. No, there are many ‘turn’ games that are far more complex and interesting than chess. All of them that I know of are based on that ultimate real life game: War! These ‘turn’ games do not sell nearly as well as live action games because they take a lot of thought, so many will only work on older computers.

The game I mentioned in my previous essay, About Depression 2, is called The Lost Admiral. I play against the AI (artificial intelligence, we always used to say “playing against the computer”) every day. I did poorly against it for a short time and worried that my mental faculties might be failing. Not to worry; I have made a comeback.

This game has 11 levels of difficulty. Because I ply it to relax, I only play at the lower levels unless I feel like a serious challenge. Even so, I occasionally resign when I’ve gotten into a bad spot.

It is a naval game. The object is to capture ports, each of which is worth various numbers of points every turn it is held. Each port also gives the holder raw materials with which he can build new ships. But the player must capture a port with a shipyard in order to build new ships.

You are given 2 or 3 ports at the start of the game and a budget to build ships. Transports are very important. You cannot take a port unless you can occupy it with a transport. Beginners will always be short of transports.

Carriers are important but very expensive. You never know where the enemy is. A carrier is the only ship that can “see” beyond the space it is in. PT boats are very fast and can scout beyond where a carrier can see but they are easily destroyed.

The meat of your fleet should be subs and destroyers. My tactics are simple. I use a flock of destroyers to go in and reduce the enemy’s anti-sub defense, sometimes at great sacrifice, and then send in the subs to attack his capital ships, meaning carriers, battleships and cruisers. If his formation is too strong, I retreat and look for the formation to change. Sometimes I have to retreat until reinforced.

The AI puts too much money into battleships and cruisers and not enough into destroyers. A battleship is mostly useful in reducing a fortified port. Other that that, it is too expensive. However, the AI varies its tactics enough to make the game always interesting. It doesn’t get any smarter at the higher levels of difficulty, but it gets stronger and you get weaker. It is always aggressive, so when it comes at you in level 11 with twice your strength or more, it can be worrisome.

This game is better than chess.

(This game only works on my older computer. A newer version is out, The Lost Admiral Returns. I downloaded a tryout version on my newer computer but I could never get it to work properly and I didn’t like the looks of it.)


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