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The insightful musings of a tier 2 clubber.

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Kuroialty

Rerolling on EU

If I should ever end up making a return to this game as a regular player (not likely), I will have to give serious consideration to rerolling on the EU server.  I came to this conclusion after looking at WoTReplays again tonight to see if anyone had managed to get an Ace Medal on a tier 1 tank this update cycle.  Of course, nobody had, or at least nobody who had done so had put a replay up on that site.  So I switched over to tier 2 to see what I could find, and I found a replay of someone with an M2 LT who managed to get 13 kills (youtube link, WoTReplays link).  I'll just give you the quick skinny on the game: it was a reroll, they played like absolute shit, but they mopped the floor.  Business as usual, but because I was a little more interested in seeing how good of a reroll this guy was, I went searching for his account, and I tried to find him on every other server before I tried EU and found him there.  What I found there was unremarkable, but what I realized is that this may be my own future with this game.

This line of thinking has its origins in this thread.  When I saw someone having trouble getting an ace medal for a tier 1 tank, I was beside myself and thought, "There's absolutely no way this turns out to not be a cakewalk."  Almost 900 games later, I'm left to face the stark reality of the new tier 2 meta: it's fucking dead, Jim.  At least, it's dead on the dying NA server.  On EU, there seems to be little to no issue.  It's not just this last M2 replay I saw where the featured player was from EU server either.  I think out of the last dozen replays I've looked at of tier 1 or tier 2 games came from an EU player.  You can tell immediately when you get a replay from NA too, because the teams aren't full.  This is something I went into more when I reflected upon my experience of playing the Koloho.  I also felt for the longest time that I was the best Koloho player out there because I ended up surpassing everyone I saw on dpgwhores, but once that site started to show EU accounts, I no longer had a huge average damage or frag lead over all the other competition (I'm still on top for winning by a fair margin, but this could be higher than the EU numbers for similar reasons that my damage and kills are low by comparison).  This drove the nail in for me that my performance on NA servers was no longer an accurate reflection of my ability.  Being down 1-8 players every match left me short time after time on damage and kills that could otherwise go towards showing better play.

This idea of inaccurate representation of ability is something I've had in mind for a while when approaching this game.  It's the reason why I don't play with premium account, because it messes with the average and top XP numbers and makes it impossible to distinguish between performance while having the perk and while not.  It's why I don't play in platoons, because the influence of partnering with other players I can rely upon can have extreme impacts on overall stats (AutismSpeaks isn't nearly as good a Cruiser III player as I am, but if you looked our winrates alone, you might think differently).  At one point, I got tired of these restrictions and started up a reroll on NA server where I could play with some other people, but even then, I only played Japanese tanks on that account, and I never play Japanese tanks on this one, because if I start playing the same tank across two different accounts, I feel it creates a situation where on neither account is there an accurate representation of what I can do with that tank.

Herein lies my ultimate dilemma, one for which I only need to find the solution if I actually find myself desperate enough to get back into this game.  If I continue to play on NA server, I am going to be stuck going with and up against partial teams, denying me damage and kills, tanking my performance ratings and accounts stats to where they'll never be able to compete with only somewhat above-average performances elsewhere.  If I move to playing on EU, I am going to have to play something on that server, but seeing how I've touched just about every tank now on the NA server for tiers 1 and 2, I don't really have much choice unless I want to play something I've used before, creating the stats split I would have liked to avoid.  Now, one might ask, "But the game has changed several times before, so your stats are the accumulation of how you performed across several different metas and are never going to be truly representative of how you perform in the current or next ones."  Sure, and there's the learning and growing process of the game, I'm not the same as I was back then, no longer accurate to my ability, blah blah blah.  I guess the difference I see in this case is that the potential to perform as well as ever has always been there as long as the population has been healthy.  Maybe I wasn't good at one point, but there were still 15 people on each side, and I could have killed as many of them as I like.  I go into games today, kill five people, let the rest of my team mop up the other four, and am left going, "That's it?"  I can't say to myself that I am any worse a player now than at any other point in the game's lifespan, but the population drop is taking such a toll on my stats that I can't really tell.  The accurate representation of my stats was not only a rule to play by, but also a motivator.  If I knew my stats reflected what I could do, then improving myself would be reflected in the stats.  However, there's no amount of skill that can make up for the stripped opportunities of incomplete teams.

Perhaps I'll toss this idea around in my head a little bit more in the future.  For now, this only serves as a reminder to myself that if I choose to face this problem, the solution I come to is probably not going to be one I like.

Kuroialty

I'd like to express some thoughts on the following quote by @Jesse_the_Scout (emphasis my own):

Quote

WG solved their clubber problem with traditional WG approach: they just made tier 2 so utterly unenjoyable that not even many clubbers can stand it any more. I generally played 2s for on track doubles but even I couldn't take it after a while the tier is so brokenly shit. You get a bunch of pointless 7v7 games (The player numbers are dropping about 10% per year, so it's harder to even get a game at lower tiers and WG made the problem worse by screwing with the MM at tier 1-3), everything is spamming auto cannon APCR completely fucking the entire balance between armor and penetration, and you get the trash map one game out of 4 or 5. The bulk of the pedotankers still left run around with the M2 Light shooting pure APCR and losing 20k+ credits per game, so unless you want to piss away mountains of credits alongside them you're always at the disadvantage because that tank is OP balls with that config and APCR spam.

I wager a lot moved to tier 5 or something and/or just stopped playing.

My approach to the game now is much like it was when I first started playing: find a consistent method that works, and do it over and over again.  North side of Malinovka proved the easiest place to find a consistent plan that worked, and over time, I was able to find other consistently successful methods of play.  These plans were great when they worked because they handled the largest part of the playerbase really well.  The only problem was the other good players.  When I would have to test these methods against good players, they would find ways to punish me for my success.  In order to remain successful, I had to look for other ways to play that could stand up to being tested against good players, and I would have to tweak how I play to account for new ways of being shut down.  Eventually, not only could I handle situations against the bulk of the playerbase rather well, but I could understand how other good players were going to play and handle them too.  Through this process, my winrate and player ratings continued to rise - the consequence of skillful play - but something eventually started to irk me: why do other clubbers, who supposedly have better ratings and performance than a large part of the playerbase, suck?

I started noticing this once I got to the point of dispatching greens with no trouble.  At that point, even other unica I saw in-game would make very questionable plays.  It's not even like they were approaches I hadn't considered that had value beyond what I could understand.  The way these other players approached the game made me feel like they never expected to be challenged by another serious player, and it showed.  They would dive against hardened positions.  They would sit inside bushes in open areas with no hard cover.  They would poke out too long from known positions.  It blew my mind to see highly rated players make these kinds of mistakes, and I would run into these players over and over and see them exercise the same poor judgment game after game.  Do these players never improve?  Do they not try to meet the challenge I bring them?  Is this really the extent of the abilities of other people who are called clubbers?

My conclusion was to forever relegate these players to a phase that was like my early development.  I had good, consistent strategies that could fail if challenged even a little bit, and so did these other clubbers.  But they never seemed to get better than that.  They could camp bushes, they could spot large areas of the map, and they could snipe down tomatoes, but if that somehow didn't work, their backup plans were garbage.  To put it briefly, they were all one-trick ponies.  Sniping reds was their entire game, and if they were challenged in doing that, they'd flop over and die.  If they ran in platoons, they might meet more success just by having sheer numbers, but this was used more as a crutch for success rather than a platform for improvement.  Individually, they remained weak.

Cue 9.10.  Quickly, these "clubbers" fade away to the point today where they hardly exist.  They are revealed for their weakness, not being able to rely on the long distance game they became good at, and crumble or quit.  This didn't happen to me.  Sure, I haven't played the game as much as I did before 9.10, but the time I spent playing dropped significantly even before 9.10, reason being a new perspective of the game that I reached by reading this book.  When I've returned to playing the game, my performance is actually not so bad.  The two tanks I've played entirely within the new meta have been the I-Go and the Kolohousenka, and I top the performance charts in both of these.  Practically nobody else recognizes the strength of the I-Go, even though it is easily the top tank of the tier, but this is because it doesn't play anything like what they're used to.  Most players tryharding in tier 2 these days are playing the M2 LT because a zippy autocannon tank is something that they're used to (which is another way of saying that they played this kind of tank when it was completely dominated in the last meta, because they're stupid), but they don't have the ability to make the I-Go work well enough to enjoy its full potential.

So to just recap, we have a lot of old "clubbers" who quit the game because they couldn't hack it once the tune changed, and we have a lot of new "clubbers" who can only succeed by platooning with old tech that, while effective, is not the best on the market.  As far as I'm concerned, these players are all fakes.  I don't really like using the term "clubber" to refer to any of these kinds of people, because there's a much easier term that everyone understands: bad.  Perhaps the term is apt though as the only success these players see is when they get to dump on tomatoes and aren't facing players of genuine ability (i.e. me).  I have my doubts that the old crew played because they really liked the game mode more than the cheap thrills they could get for abusing it, and the same thing holds for all of the M2 rerolls and platoons you see running around today.  I agree that today's map pool is far worse than that of the past, but I also maintain that the low tiers still have better gameplay than anywhere else in the game because everything here still holds true and everything here minus the playerbase comment still holds true (though the playerbase has been dropping in all aspects of the game, so that's not a huge detractor in just low tiers).  But that isn't an excuse.  There are disgusting levels of untapped improvement remaining in all of the highly rated players I see now in low tiers and have seen in the past, and whenever I should choose to return to playing, I will be relentless in demonstrating the difference.

Kuroialty

When people ask me about what the difference is between low tiers and high tiers, there is one thing which comes to mind, one thing that matters, one thing that, by itself, represents a huge shift in design philosophy from the first tier to the last.  This thing is the ratio of DPM-to-health.  It is why low tier play is fast-paced and high tier play is slow-paced.  It is why low tier play is dominated by strong individuals and high tier play is dominated by unified teams.  The difference in this ratio between the low tiers and high tiers has allowed for two wildly different games to exist within the same framework, and it just so happens that the low tier side of things is far and away better than high tiers in this defining aspect.

The ratio of DPM-to-health is a measure of how fast you can expect things to die over a long period of time.  In other words, given how much damage something can do in a minute and the health of the targets being destroyed, the ratio expresses how many targets will die in one minute.  Divide this number into 60 and you get how many seconds it takes for one thing to die.  Higher ratios mean destroying more stuff in the same time.  It should be somewhat apparent to anyone who's spent time in WoT across the tiers that this ratio is highest at the lower tiers and lowest at the higher tiers.  Similarly, reload times tend to increase by climbing tiers.  It's not as though low tiers have a high ratio because they have high tier reloads and alpha that strongly overmatches every tank in the tier.

This combination of low reload and high DPM-to-health ratio result in two major things, the first of which is fast and active gameplay.  Weapons are much more "live" in low tiers without the long reloads that act as safety periods for enemies to move around safely.  Autocannons could be seen as an exception to this, but if you compare low tier autocannons to high tier autoloaders, you'll often find the autocannons reload faster, empty faster, and do a greater percentage of an enemy's health in damage.  Some can even reload faster than some standard cannons, and for those cannons which reload faster, they often don't do nearly as much damage percentagewise to their tier's average health as autocannons will do.  This nature of low tier tanks means that engagements always lead to shots being fired, and the DPM-to-health ratio means that results are determined very quickly, either through the knockout of one player or their retreat.  This is in contrast to the common nature of high tiers to sit behind hard cover and poke out after a 5-15 second reload or the close range engagements where winners can be easily determined with math, but reloads draw out the engagement for an extra 10-30 seconds.  Low tiers used to have some degree of slowness during the vision meta, but a large reason for this meta existing was the sudden death players would experience from exposing themselves.  Still, when the fights would happen, they would be far more dynamic than those in higher tiers.  The new lower tier maps favor closer engagements and use of autocannons, which helps make these engagements far more common without the lull of camping.

The second thing a high DPM-to-health ratio enables is great individual agency.  This is helped further by differences in ammo count and average potential damage versus average enemy team health pool.  One low tier tank is often capable of doing enough damage to exceed the enemy team's health pool, whereas high tier tanks would often run out of ammo before managing this.  Even if they had enough ammo for doing the damage, by factoring travel time to engagements and time spent corner poking and camping, DPM is often too low to pull this off.  Low tier tanks, on the other hand, have so much excess DPM that long periods of time can be spent camping or moving around with plenty of time left to destroy the enemy team.  Overall, this means that if you play a low tier match and your teammates all fail to contribute damage, winning remains possible.  As you go up the tiers, this becomes much tougher to do and eventually becomes mathematically impossible.  If you play a high tier game with people teammates that don't do damage, it will not be possible to win through elimination.  I've said before that the cost-benefit analysis sucks.  If I really believe myself to be a highly skilled player relative to my peers, it makes little sense opting to make myself less capable of controlling the game in comparison, which is exactly what happens every time the choice is made to play a tank of a higher tier.

Related to the last point, it is actually in higher tiers that you will find a greater demand for individual responsibility.  Everyone on a high tier team must chip in damage if victory by elimination is desired.  Unica can certainly pick up a lot of slack, but they can't win of their own accord.  They need their teammates to do damage, which is why you'll often see high tier unica talking about creating opportunities for their teammates to deal damage, because a loss will likely come if they don't.

More on that later.  For now, let me put forward some data to demonstrate this shift in DPM-to-health ratio.  Linked here will be an Excel doc of information I pulled from tanks.gg based on 9.14.1 data on March 29th, 2016.  The data may grabbed may have some imprecision, but it shouldn't be by much.  To the stats grabbed for each tank, I have added columns for DPM to tank health, average health for tier and class and DPM in comparison, average health for tier and DPM in comparison, and ratio of DPM-to-health of tiers above and below as they apply for that tank's matchmaking.  These averages of tier health weigh each tank with the same chance to show up in battle, which isn't how things actually are, but is a close enough approximation to make some general statements.  Extra info was taken from vbaddict to get a better idea of tank frequency.  The top gun as selected by tanks.gg was used, which may not be the "best" gun (for instance, M2 LT top gun is not autocannon even though that's what everyone uses), but should be close enough.  Rammers were equipped where possible under the assumption that if you can equip a rammer on a tank, you will.  Vents were not added where possible as this equipment is not so obvious an autoinclude.  The data is there for all of the tiers, but I'm just going to cover tiers 2, 5, 8, and 10 to give a general idea of how things change.

To reiterate, the DPM-to-health ratio measures damage over time compared to target health.  It roughly translates into kills per minute.  Keep that in mind as you continue.

TIER 2:

  • Average health for the tier sits just below 160.  Lights are slightly above this and mediums are near 190.  TDs drag it down with a 120 average.  The most common tanks in the tier average just above 160.
  • DPM is anywhere between mid-800s and 1400 for most non-TDs.  I-Go is an outlier with 2k DPM.
  • Ratio against same tier ranges from 5.3 to 9, kills against full health targets take 7 to 12 seconds.
  • Against tier below, ratio ranges from 7.7 to 13, kills take 5 to 8 seconds.
  • Against tier above, ratio ranges from 3.8 to 6, kills take 10 to 16 seconds.
  • Autocannons are rampant and bursty.  Only Pz models don't have enough to regularly clip out tanks.  Of the ones that can clip out enemies, the fastest ones reload in 8 to 10 seconds.

TIER 5:

  • Average health for the tier sits just below 500.  Mediums are very close to this average.  TDs are around 360, lights around 450, and heavies up around 675.  Two of the eight most common tanks are heavies.  The four most common tanks together are around the tier average, but next most common tanks begin to skew the average downwards.
  • DPM is in the 1.6k to 2.6k range.
  • Ratio against the same tier ranges from 3 to 5, kills take 12 to 20 seconds.
  • Against two tiers below, ratio ranges from 5 to 13, kills take 5 to 12 seconds.
  • Against one tier below, ratio ranges from 3.5 to 9, kills take 7 to 17 seconds.
  • Against one tier above, ratio ranges from 1.6 to 4, kills take 15 to 37 seconds.
  • Against two tiers above, ratio ranges from 1 to 2.6, kills take 23 to 60 seconds!
  • The only autocannon is found on the Leopard and isn't even good enough to clip most tanks.  Two clips would take over half a minute to reload and use, so that's less than two kills a minute at best against the same tier.  Similar autocannons exist in neighboring tiers 4 and 6 with similar results.

TIER 8:

  • Average health for the tier is slightly below 1400.  Mediums are very close to this average.  Heavies average around 1550, lights and TDs are both below 1200.  IS-3 is currently dominant in representation with T34 behind it, both skewing average to 1500.  Next three most common have 1100 each, but aren't as frequent together as T30.  Next four most common have 1400-1600 each and further skew average upwards.  All-in-all, it seems to approach the tier average.
  • DPM ranges from 1.7k to 3.2k.  T-44 is a minor outlier at 1.4k.
  • Ratio against same tier from 1 to 2.3, kills take 26 to 60 seconds!
  • Against two tiers below, ratio ranges from just below 2 to 4.3, kills take 14 to 32 seconds.
  • Against one tier below, ratio ranges from 1.3 to just below 3, kills take 20 to 46 seconds.
  • Against one tier above, ratio ranges from 0.8 to 1.8, kills take 33 to 75 seconds!!
  • Against two tiers above, ratio ranges from 0.7 to 1.5, kills take 40 to 90 seconds!!
  • AMX 50 100 can clip most tanks in the tier, but usage and reload take over a minute to get through.  AMX 13 90 clip does only about the tier's average health every ~55 seconds.  T69 can two-clip all tanks in the tier, but usage and reload again take over a minute to get through.

TIER 10:

  • Average health is slightly below 2100.  TDs and mediums are about 150 below this average, heavies are above it by 300.  IS-7 is the most common tank, slightly above the tier's average health.  The next five most common tanks together are slightly above the average.
  • DPM ranges from 2.3k to 3.6k.
  • Ratio against the same tier ranges from just above 1 to 1.7, kills take 35 to 60 seconds!
  • Against one tier below, ratio ranges from 1.3 to 2, kills take 30 to 46 seconds.
  • Against two tiers below, ratio ranges from 1.6 to 2.6, kills take 23 to 37 seconds.
  • Autoloaders are about as common as autocannons in tier 2.  WTF E-100 can kill most anything in 9 seconds, but takes long enough to reload that it just barely manages to get one kill in under a minute each.  TVP clips out nothing, but two-clipping gives it a similar story to WTF E-100, though it only has enough ammo for 12 clips.  Foch performs similar again to WTF E-100 except that it comes up short against some heavies and only has enough ammo for 10 clips.  Batchat clip comes up below tier's average health, two clips take almost a minute and a half to reload and use, and the tank only carries enough ammo for 6 clips.  T57 Heavy performs similar to TVP, but only with the ammo for 9 clips.  AMX 50B is the same story, but with ammo for 14 clips.

The shift in the numbers is remarkable.  From tiers 2 to 10, DPM nearly triples while health becomes over ten times greater.  The worst performing tank in tier 2 against the average tier 3 target will still be capable of scoring a kill faster than the best performing tier 10 against the average tier 8 target.  The numbers for the tiers I haven't covered are as you might expect.  Ratios for tier 9 are somewhere between those for 8 and 10.  Ratios for tiers 3 and 4 are somewhere between those for tiers 2 and 5.  Ratios for tier 1 are even better than those for tier 2, though without the advantage of any tiers below them.  And really, anyone who has played WoT through the tiers should have already noticed this shift.  The data provides a sense of scale for how much of a difference there is.

One point worth highlighting is the danger of a low DPM-to-health ratio.  Some tanks have ratios below one, and even many tanks with ratios higher than but close to one will experience the same problems as those tanks for reasons given earlier - travel time, missed shots, bounces, and overkill.  If you choose to play one of these tanks, you are wholly dependent on your teammates to do damage if you expect to win by knockout.  This is a problem for me and a problem I have with many high tier players who have the 1v29 mentality.  If you feel that you are a capable and responsible player and, more importantly, that your teammates are very often not as such, why would you strip yourself of the agency given to you in the lower tiers by moving up the ladder and into tanks where your success is in the hands of people you don't trust to perform well?  Even if you had teammates you could trust, like platoon mates or your clan, why still would you choose to play a part of the game that doesn't give you or your teammates as much freedom to influence the match in a big way of their own accord?

There is another danger of the low DPM-to-health ratio that comes as a result of first exposure to the high DPM-to-health ratio environment of the low tiers.  Suppose you have a new player in the low tiers of the game.  They may not play very well in the game, but because they are in low tiers, that does not matter too much.  The rest of their team can still have the firepower and means to win the game.  In fact, the weakest and least effective players often are used as sacrificial pawns by the more capable for scouting, distraction, and soaking damage.  It is more important that the weakest be used to facilitate the strong, and thus achieve a game win.  This is how low tiers have always been.  The dark side to this is that it breeds a culture of players who don't see the need to improve because they have teammates who can pick up all their slack.  Eventually, this player fails their way to the top where their contribution is not merely helpful, but necessary for their team's success, and yet they've failed to get sufficient motivation from the game to become a real asset.  Much the opposite, they now believe that having a unicum on their team to carry them to success is still a winning strategy.  It isn't, and it leads to the better players of the high tiers suffering from the lessons these new players learned in the low tiers and the game not putting enough "git gud" barriers in the way from reaching higher tiers.

Perhaps WoT is backwards.  There are two environments that random matches support right now, that of the fast-paced, fast death, fast kills, individual focus in low tiers and that of the slow-paced, slow death, slow kills, team focus in high tiers.  Which of these is better for the new player?  Do people new to the game want to see things blow up very easily at the cost of being blown up easily, or do they want to have to take their time in killing something with the upside of also being very tough to kill?  The same thing could be asked of experienced players, whether it is better to stick them in an environment where dying is a slow affair or a fast one.  If you think that the fast play of low tiers is too tough for new players and is instead what experienced players should be drawn towards, then WoT is this topsy-turvy mess where low tiers are the premier gameplay mode and high tiers are a tutorial that's way too far out of reach.  I wouldn't say this is the case, but I would definitely say that the gameplay offered by high tiers is nothing like what a new player would be interested in.  I expect that new players want to see things that they shoot blow up, and if it means they blow up pretty often themselves, that's fine, because they can just exit to garage and pick another of the half-dozen tanks that are freely available to them and go again.

Should WoT continue to have these two different kinds of games within the same game mode, or do things need to homogenize, and in what direction?  There's an audience out there for both types of gameplay, so one can't be lost without losing a significant audience, but at the same time, neither mode funnels into the other particularly well.  Here's where the tinfoil hat goes on and I start talking about WoT 2.0.    Armored Warfare apparently has bombed and Obsidian is scrambling to do something to keep the game alive.  At the very least, the game has shown WG that a game about modern tanks would be interesting to people, so they've decided to make one.  When they do, they'll have to decide how progression in their game is going to work, which means having the opportunity to do something different from how things are now.  What they do there may signal an intention to change things in WoT if their changes prove successful.  I think there is reason to believe that they will do something similar to what exists now.  Low tiers are the hook that gets players interested in the game and high tiers are the distant goal for players to grind out, and each tier is a carrot encouraging players to move forward.  Low tiers bring the people, high tiers bring the money.  If players really started out playing with high tier gameplay, they would not last.  They need to start out in low tiers where they have much more opportunity to contribute, and only after they've sunk money and time into climbing up tiers and experienced a totally different kind of game do they become trapped into a sunk cost fallacy, pumping further time and money into a game they've already lost heart in playing.

Or, they could not do that and just stick with playing tier 2.  You don't need to sink money or time into grinding, you aren't beholden to the abilities of the unproven or provably bad, you have a great chance to affect the game, and you can take on the whole damn world if you're good enough.  I've been saying since the beginning that if WoT is really your thing, then you should play tier 2 and really not much more.  Tier 1 would be great if it had more variety and tier 3 would be okay if the MM wasn't so terrible, but even with just tier 2 to play, you can really get all you need out of the game.  You won't find the fast pace of battle in high tiers like you find it in low tiers, and you won't be able to reclaim the agency stripped away by design of each tank's base stats.  But you can get the slow paced, strategy-styled play of high tier battles in many low tier endgame scenarios where enemy positions aren't known, and you can manifest the responsibility demanded by high tiers into a drive to become most influential force on the battlefield in an environment that properly accommodates it.  By not climbing tiers, you really only miss out on the opportunity to play strongholds, clan wars, and most tournaments, but this can be phrased more truthfully: you're missing out on a worse part of the game.  That's not so bad.
 

Kuroialty

This was a match that took place on the 18th of March, 2013.  I recorded the game a long time ago and just recently converted it into a ~97MB 720p WebM, which you may download here.  If you have a client compatible with 0.8.4 replays, you may get the replay file here.  Using those or screenshots below, you may follow along as I retrace my thought process for that game played over three years ago.

2tnIxUn.jpg

Countdown - There's no premium Hotchkiss, no glut of gift tanks on either side, and no platoons, which are three of the four things worth considering at the start of a tier 2 match.  The last thing is identifying any skilled players with XVM.  This replay was recorded with a vanilla client, but in remembering the match, the only other player of significant skill identified by XVM was the opposing Cruiser III player, MINIE. 

14:53 - This is how I began every game on Malinovka from north spawn, at least for those tanks with good view range.  I think I would usually turn around and back out from the rock with my T2, but instead, I take the opportunity with my close spawn to quickly set up binocs on the chance that I will quickly spot something for my team.  This doesn't pay off as I want it to, but didn't hurt either.

14:33 - Remember shell tracers?

jQM7IZh.jpg

14:15 - I'm lucky to already be far enough out to hit this with the way my tank is facing.  Quick switch to premium ammo because fuck T18s.

14:03 - Losing chance to hit, quickly switch to more available targets and into standard ammo.

13:52 - Cruiser III goes dark with 82% health.  Fired some blind shots, we'll see if that made a difference.

SQGRpQb.jpg

13:15 - 74% is too much for any of my blind shots to have done anything.  No big deal, his bad rush tactics will get me my first kill, but at the expense my two teammates in midfield.  Hill team has finally started engaging targets.

12:55 - UC 2-pdr doesn't know what he's doing and waltzes in to give me my second kill.  I wait a few seconds behind the rock before moving back to the side.

12:40 - Pubbie BT-2 drives up behind me and I have to wonder if they're going to be a problem.

uj51Tux.jpg

12:30 - Two hill teammates go down to the BT-2, but the rest manage to score a kill.  It will be the only kill my teammates get all game.  I start to become audibly upset as usual.

11:57 - Narrowly score the third kill against the Cruiser I.  MINIE takes out a guy on the river.  I maintain my position.

11:30 - Hill is totally lost and more than two enemies are definitely up there.  I think they're still pretty far away, so I don't yet shift focus.

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11:20 - I can hear my teammates repositioning themselves to go towards the hill, where I am certain they will ruin themselves.  I voice my concerns to little avail.

11:03 - Now that my teammates have stopped paying attention to the front, something crops up.  I don't get in much damage myself.

10:50 - Now another T18 shows up near the river.  I shift positions and load premium ammo.  The wrong positioning facing the field becomes the right positioning facing the hill.

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10:40 - I'm not satisfied with my shot on the T18 and MINIE has shown themselves to me.  I switch targets.

10:17 - Exposing himself more completely, I can take decent shots on the T18 that I decide I don't need premium ammo for, scoring kill four.  It's close enough that I'm worried about having been spotted, so I move behind the rock.

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10:02 - Medium I shows up on the other side of the field.  I quickly eliminate it for kill five, but my team crumbles inside and behind our base.  We become outnumbered two-to-one.

9:38 - I am not happy.

9:35 - Being flanked is death, so I quickly grab the sixth kill off the Renault crossing the field.  I get a lucky crew knockout and quickly turn back to face the opponents in our base.  We're now outnumbered four-to-one.

9:25 - Backing up towards the base is the only way I feel I can get a good shot on things coming from behind the cabin.  I know from earlier that MINIE left the small hill, so I'm not worried about exposing myself to anything much.

9:20 - Switch to premium ammo to deal with bouncy Pz. II front.

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9:16 - Can't stay exposed to the PzJg I for long, despite them not having yet shot at me, and now it feels like we're being surrounded by an enemy on each side.  I have to retreat to the rock.

9:09 - Lucky miss by the PzJg I allows me to score the seventh kill against them still unharmed.

9:05 - As the AFK in my base succumbs to the enemy, the BT-2 that took out my two teammates comes around wide on the west, but is soft enough to go down in one shot for the eighth kill.  It's now me against six.

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8:58 - I prioritize the good Cruiser III player over all other potential targets.  From full health, I nearly die in the process, but MINIE becomes my ninth kill.

8:46 - I simply pray that the T18 won't hit me, and they don't.  Kill number ten.

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8:36 - I actually wasn't paying attention to there being someone on the other side of the field, but the shot to my west side clued me in.  I move somewhere where I feel I won't get hit by the enemies on the base and do my best to take down the Medium II as fast as possible.  I hesitate to fire at first in hopes that my tank will disappear, and it seems to have worked.  Kill eleven.

8:19 - After dispatching the Medium II, I quickly get away from the rock because I'm worried about enemies rushing me there.  In this moment, I feel my greatest defensive tool is going to be distance.  After a few seconds pass and I feel they aren't rushing me, I move back in.

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8:11 - I see the bouncy Pz. II on the cap and attempt to reset.  They fire back at me and I move back, each of us having not damaged the other.  I move back in despite other shots being taken at me and manage to nab the Pz. II for the twelfth kill before the VAE can intercept and save his teammate.

7:44 - The VAE is moving around on cap, but is still slightly exposed to me.  I take shots where I can, and a blind reset tells me he isn't moving.  As he retreats, the Ltraktor shows up.

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7:18 - I try to take out the Ltraktor, but leave myself exposed to getting killed.  My last shot against them misses, as does their shot at me, and I back away.

7:08 - I adjust myself to take shots at the Ltraktor from the other side, taking care to not knock down the tree.

7:03 - Another missed shot against the Ltraktor again puts me in danger of death, but a second shot connects and rolls high for the thirteenth kill.

6:45 - Feeling the VAE will be staying put, I take a moment to gloat.  Then I move back into a position to spot the cap.

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6:05 - VAE shows up while I'm on the east side of the rock and I manage to nab a tight shot.  I fail to secure the kill though, and the VAE backs into cover behind the cabin.

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5:45 - Feeling that the VAE hasn't spotted me and that it will be ducking deep into cover, I decide that it's time for an aggressive play.  I want to put myself in a position where the VAE won't anticipate so that they may expose themselves to me for a clear shot.  I choose a bush just southwest of cap and sit patiently.

5:00 - I could possibly shoot down the cabin and hit the VAE that way, but it would put me at considerable risk of being spotted and fired back upon.  Despite being comfortable around the rock for most of the game, I quickly become anxious in my new location.

4:02 - With nearly four minutes left in play, I make a judgment call.  I want this Raseiniai medal, and if I wait too long, the VAE may find a way to escape and climb up the hill to where I would never want to chase.  I decide that if I really want to win this game the way I want, I absolutely must take the risk of moving out and hitting the VAE.  I charge straight towards the cabin.

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3:50 - The VAE is just sitting at the cabin, waiting for me.  I prop my camera up to see which way their gun is pointed and see at the last moment that it's facing southeast, so I turn north.  Thank goodness for the bullshit turret traverse nerf on that tank.  I easily score the medal-earning kill and end that game the winner.

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This old in-game screenshot I took shows you my XVM configuration, which allows you to see my damage log and player colors.

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Match details.

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Here is where my T2 stats were at the time.

This match was certainly a highlight of my tanking career, but it's also a good demonstration about how great achievements like this are strongly luck dependent.  I made a few plays in this game that were extraordinarily risky, and if one more of them wouldn't have gone my way, I would have been toast long before hitting 14 kills.  The play I made at the start of orienting my tank forwards from behind the rock is something I would commonly consider to be the wrong move and do otherwise, but this ended up putting me in the perfect position to handle the threats that came from another direction.  A "correct" orientation would have left me exposed far more to that side or demanded I play from the other side of the rock, either of which could have resulted in a game loss.

At the point where we started being down five to six tanks, it would have been easy to merely give up on the match, accept that my team fucked everything up, and move on to the next one.  I chose instead to dig myself out of the hole I'd been thrown into.  Of course, being screwed by the team and choosing to fight back is nothing unusual for me.  The only notable thing about this occasion is the depth from which I was asked to climb and having pulled it off despite what was working against me.  Let me also say that this game is a perfect example of why I loved my T2 Medium.  No other tank in the game would have had the tools to pull this off.  Cruisers lack the health and armor.  French tanks lack the damage.  TDs lack the versatility.  Soviet tanks lack the view range.  In a tank that I believe was long regarded as being inferior to many, it performed superior to all.

There have been many tough games that I've narrowly pulled a win from since then, but this one takes the cake.  Not too many opportunities to get a Raseiniai medal are given, and against seemingly impossible odds, I was fortunate to be able to seize this one.

Kuroialty

A short excerpt from the supertest patch notes for 9.14:

Quote

Simplified vehicle module research for beginners

To simplify the process of familiarising new players to the game, the research system for Tiers I and II has been changed. Tier I Vehicles will have just one module available for research - a gun. Tier II vehicles will get the opportunity to research one module of each type (engine, gun, suspension, radio, turret).

Last post covered tier 1s.  This post covers tier 2s.

 

ALL NON-PREMIUM TANKS - Reduced to a single radio with no upgradable module available.

ALL PREMIUM TANKS - No change.

 

Type 89 I-Go/Chi-Ro - Reduced to a radio of 300m signal range, down from 425m.

Cruiser III - Reduced to stock radio, down to 350m signal range from 450m.

Cruiser I - Reduced to a radio of 350m signal range, down from 375m.

Pz. II - Given a different radio from any it had before, down to 310m signal range from 455m.

VAE Type B - Loses its weakest gun, the stock 37mm KwK 36.  New stock gun is the medium-high alpha 47mm Vickers QF.  No top end changes (signal range is still 300m).

M2 LT - Signal range completely gutted from being left to stock radio, down to 265m signal range from 615m.

Pz. 35t - Loses the weaker autocannon.  Reduced to single stock radio, down to 290m signal range from 550m.

T2 MT - Signal range completely gutted from being left to stock radio, down to 265m signal range from 615m (now I have to retrain my commander to drop Relaying, RIP).

H35 - Reduced to stock radio, down to 300m signal range from 360m.

BT-2 - Loses three guns - the 37mm Hotchkiss (stock gun), the 23mm VJa (better of the two autocannons), and the 37mm ZiS-19 (top gun).  Stock 37mm B-3 is a good improvement, but 45mm 20K top is much worse than ZiS-19.  Keeps 300m signal range radio.

T-26 - Loses the autocannon.  Keeps the 37mm ZiS-19 as top gun and 300m signal range radio.

D1 - Stock gun removed, spot taken by the autocannon.  Reduced to stock radio, down to 300m signal range from 360m.

M2A4 - Reduced to a radio of 350m signal range, down from 375m.

R35 - No change.

T-60 - 20mm TNSh removed (arguably best autocannon for the tank).  Keeps 300m signal range radio.

Pz. I - Given a different radio from any it had before, down to 310m signal range from 455m.

Type 95 Ha-Go - Reduced to a radio of 350m signal range, down from 425m.

FCM 36 - Reduced to a radio of 290m signal range, down from 300m.

Chi-Ni - Reduced to a radio of 350m signal range, down from 425m.

T3 HMC - No change.

LT vz. 35t - No change.

Vickers Mk. II - Stock gun removed, spot taken by the 6-pdr Mk II.  Reduced to a radio of 250m signal range, down from 375m.

PzJg I - Signal range completely gutted from being left to stock radio, down to 265m signal range from 700m.

UC 2-pdr - Reduced to a radio of 350m signal range, down from 375m.

AT-1 - Loses its most accurate 37mm ZiS-19S.   Keeps 300m signal range radio.

Renault FT AC - Stock gun removed, spot taken by the slightly more accurate model.  Keeps 300m signal range radio.

 

Clearly, the biggest change here is to signal range.  If the meme is true that pubs don't watch the minimap, then this change has little negative impact.  I watch the minimap though, and the impact of this is considerable, at least on some tanks.  You don't meed much more than 200m signal range on a map like Mittentard to stay in touch with your teammates (except for arty).  300 to 350 meters is sufficient for Mines, but only if you're in the middle, and a similar sentiment can be echoed for Himmelsdorf.  Ruinberg is probably where this will have the greatest impact, putting city players out of touch with hill players, which could lead to a blinding effect that would make it very hard to see targets or enemies hitting you at >400m along the main east-west road.

Notable losers in this department are the American tanks, T2 and M2.  Both of them currently have a meta play style that puts them on the front lines anyways, but if WG should ever switch things up again back to a vision meta, these tanks will be far less relevant for lacking their amazing tool for keeping in touch with allied campers everywhere.  I remember grinding my 5.6k XP for my T2's radio and how delighted I was to basically never be out of signal range of any of my allies.  So much for that now.  Even with the worst range in the tier, I don't think it's bad enough to make a big difference on how good the M2 is, nor is it enough reason to start playing the British version instead.  The Pz. 35t and PzJg I were also downgraded significantly, but nobody plays them anyways, so whatever.  In other news, the Tetrarch still has 525m of signal range and is still an awful tank.

The only considerable firepower changes are to the BT-2, AT-1, and perhaps the T-60, but this really isn't important.  The AT-1 can't really get any worse anyways, the BT-2's best gun didn't fit in the current meta that much, and the T-60's lost gun wasn't even that great.

Kuroialty

A short excerpt from the supertest patch notes for 9.14:

Quote

Simplified vehicle module research for beginners

To simplify the process of familiarising new players to the game, the research system for Tiers I and II has been changed. Tier I Vehicles will have just one module available for research - a gun. Tier II vehicles will get the opportunity to research one module of each type (engine, gun, suspension, radio, turret).

I'll look at the changes to tier 2 later, but for now, here's what's going on with the tier 1 tanks.

 

MS-1

The thing which stands out most about the MS-1 is its high penetration compared to other tanks of its tier.  In 9.14, it will lose the gun that gives it that recognition, falling back to 40mm standard penetration.  The alpha is also worse, which is probably more of a big deal in today's meta.  It otherwise has all the top modules it had before except for its engine, which is the 55hp module instead of 70hp one.  Compensation comes in the form of better tank traverse, up to 48 deg/s from 38.

Ltraktor

The gun lost here is strictly worse than another gun it keeps, so no real loss occurs.  Like the MS-1, it doesn't keep its 100hp top engine, instead keeping the 85hp one.  Also compensated with a massive tank traverse buff, up to 66 deg/s from 40.

T1 Cunninham

Loses the top gun and falls back on one with less penetration and accuracy.  Top engine is kept.  Tank traverse buffed from 38 deg/s to 42.

Renault FT

Perhaps one of the biggest winners from the recent map changes as it was able to effectively use the high-penetration, medium-accuracy Raccourci without having to worry so much about the distance cap.  Scratch that, the Raccourci is gone in 9.14.  Also keeps the stock engine, losing 61hp to end with 39hp, which is laughable.  Tank traverse buff is to 60 deg/s from 30.

Vickers Mk. I

Loses the autocannon, which was never a reason why anyone should have played this tank in the first place.  Stock 90hp engine is kept over the 110hp top engine.  Tank traverse buffed to 35 deg/s from 28.

Kolohou

No changes.  It was released with this change in mind already.

Renault NC-31

Loses the autocannon.  Top engine kept.  Tank traverse buffed anyways to 60 deg/s from 38.

Renault Otsu

Loses the top gun and 10mm of penetration as a result.  The autocannon now has more penetration than the available standard gun.  Top engine is kept, but the top radio is lost instead, losing 50m signal range from 350.  Tank traverse buffed to 40 deg/s from 36.

 

It appears across the board that engines for these tanks are getting nerfed and tank traverse is being buffed to compensate for rotational mobility (loss of upgradable engines = weaker tank rotation, more on that here), though it doesn't appear to be done with much consistency or as a balance mechanism.  Most tanks will turn as well as they did before, but probably struggle more to get around the slopes of Mines.  There are also firepower nerfs across most of the board, which puts all of the tanks in pretty bad shape to compete with tier 2s, especially the ones that had the best chance (T1 and MS-1).

Kuroialty

What Happened to Tier 2

The last couple of patches have brought two major changes affecting tier 2.  Here's what happened and what my thoughts are about how things have changed.

The New Maps

The most significant change by far, the map pool for the low tiers has changed drastically.  Where previously players would run into open and campy maps such as Province or Prokhorovka, these kinds of maps are no longer to be seen.  The most open of maps these days are Ruinberg and Mines, neither of which is so dominated by camping play as other maps of the past.  With them are Mittengard and Himmelsdorf, creating a four map lineup that is all about the close range fight.

The reason this change was made was because of a perceived problem of experienced players using their understanding of vision and camo mechanics to drastically outplay everyone else.  This resulted in a sort of one-sided gameplay where victims would find it hard to understand where their attacker was coming from, making retaliation unlikely.

Why, in the first place, was there a dominant vision meta?  One reason was because the maps allowed it, but a second more important reason is that low tier tanks are just so damn deadly.  DPM for a tier 2 tank can be anywhere from five to ten times the health pool of any tier 2 tank.  While mid or high tier tanks might be able to rely on their armor and angling to bounce shells, armor is much less common in low tiers, so every enemy shell could be dangerous.  Also, many tanks have compressed damage in the form of magazine guns, some deadly enough to be able to take down some tanks from full health in a single clip.  The best way to avoid such a deadly encounter was to engage these deadly tanks from a distance.  With distance, you have some protection in the form of poor enemy gun accuracy and forcing the opponent to gauge where you (as a moving target) will be after the shell travels that distance.  Some guns with limited shell range can be avoided outright with enough distance.

Combining this distance play with the ample bush cover found on many maps, the vision meta was created.  There was a tendency for this kind of game to run a bit long and to have bouts of downtime where all  of the snipers would be sitting in the bushes and nobody else would be left wanting to risk making a play across the potentially dangerous zones that snipers were commonly known to cover.  Enough people had too much of a problem handling this kind of meta or finding it fun that WG decided to change the map pool to what we have now.

The big winner of this change is autocannons as a whole.  It was important under the previous meta to have a versatile bag of tools that could handle both the short range and long range styles of play, as the map pool contained maps of both extremes as well as some hybrids, though both kinds of gameplay could be found on any map.  Autocannons would be great on the tight maps, but became thoroughly outclassed in every other situation.  For the sake of consistency across all scenarios, the best players stuck to single-shot guns.  This no longer will be the case, and in fact will be the opposite: always choosing the guns with clips over the guns without will be the new standard.  The single-shot guns could only ever compete with the autocannons when accuracy across distance was necessary.  In terms of damage, they can't hold a candle to the autocannons (most of them, anyways).  Firing one shell averaging 45 damage every two -and-a-half seconds will accomplish little compared to a whole clip of 180 damage that empties in only two seconds.

What's important to realize is that autocannons are not going to become the meta because they are the most deadly weapon of tier 2 (as they've always been).  The meta of tier 2 will always be whatever best handles pressure from autocannons, and what that most commonly means in the new meta is to run your own autocannon and clip out the other autocannon user first.  Vision play was about killing the autocannons before they could get close enough to be relevant, and the new meta can be framed in the same way - using your autocannon to clip out the enemy first to avoid them clipping you out.

Goodbye T18, Hello T3

Everybody had to watch their toes around the T18.  The derp gun it touted could one-shot most tanks, and the thick frontal armor it had could bounce the shells of most tanks while it set itself up to aim and fire the derp.  So often was the sight of a T18 rolling up to and turning a corner against an established enemy flank and seeing all the opposing tanks either back off or be wasted.  Despite the inaccuracy of the gun and the slow travel time, the shell was just as deadly at 500 meters as it was at 100, so even snipers had to be careful of how long of exposure they could allow after revealing themselves.

For everything that the T18 was, the T3 is not.  The heavy armor of the T18 is nowhere to be found on the T3, instead all-around composed of such thin plates that even the weakest of autocannons can frequently penetrate.  The derp gun makes a return, but by no means in such a devastating way as the T18 had been.  Hits to accuracy, reload, and bloom from gun or tank motion have made the gun comparatively tame.

This is another huge win in the name of autocannons.  The biggest drawback of autocannons (second only to long clip-to-clip reloads) is their poor penetration.  The T18 was the most common tank with enough armor to consistently cause problems for autocannons, and this roadblock has now vanished.  Its replacement is an easy kill for any autocannon tank, and the nerfs to the derp gun push it out from otherwise being competitive with autocannons.

Conclusion

So here we have one change that plays a big part on shutting down the vision meta and two changes that greatly increase the viability of autocannons.  When I last revised my public list of tier 2 tank rankings, I included a bit about how I ranked tanks based on two qualities: versatility and threat.  Versatility was a measure of how many different situations a tank could get into with favorable outcomes and threat was a measure of how dangerous a tank could be, either in the hands of someone skilled or in the hands of your average baddie.  The vision play aspect of versatility is pretty much entirely out the window now since long range engagements just don't happen enough to matter.  The tank whose threat was the hardest to manage is now gone, but the tanks which managed to deal with it the best also tended to be the ones most suitable for the vision meta - or to put it another way, those tanks which couldn't well play the vision meta had to more often face the T18 and now benefit much more from its exit.

In just one update, WG shifted the entire meta of tier 2 out of vision play into autocannon face-fuck-fests.  The T18's removal also helped this along, but the change in maps was sufficient enough alone for change to happen.  Again, autocannons have always been the most deadly weapons of the low tiers, but the vision play kept them in check so well that they had been mostly rendered insignificant.  Now, if autocannons stand to benefit, those things which are good against autocannons also stand to benefit - namely the French armored and German captured tanks.  By contrast, anything that could only deal with autocannons by keeping them at a distance loses in the biggest way, those being every low tier TD.

A subtle impact of the strong shift towards autocannons is the effect of the new speed of play.  The vision meta was marked by camping and waiting, but everything nowadays moves in, out, and around so fast that it's tough for any one person or tank to keep up.  What should be taken away from this is that not every autocannon is the same.  Autocannons that take upwards of ten seconds to reload certainly benefited from the change to the proximity of play, but the extreme downtime they have leave them so much more vulnerable to being rushed down by other tanks with faster reloading autocannons.  Another thing worth note is that some autocannons may not have enough damage in a single magazine to take out another tank, and this could often spell the difference in winning an engagement or letting an enemy get away.

 

I'm only about halfway through doing all of the testing I want to do, but I think I now have a pretty solid idea of where each of the tier 2 tanks stand in this new meta.  Actually, things have shifted around much less from the old meta than I anticipated, mostly because tanks which had a good single-shot gun before and also had a good autocannon could just switch to the autocannon and be just about as good.  I'll get more into that in a couple weeks.

Kuroialty

9.12 brings with it what seem to be the last major gameplay changes for the low tiers (T18 replacement, draw range change) for a while, so I'm finally ready to dive in and work on ranking all of the tanks again.

As a reminder, here's what I've said on the subject in the past:

The I-Go will stand at the top, and the T18 might not be far behind.  Below that will be the M2s followed by some combination of French tanks, standard gun tanks, and the couple of good autocannon tanks.  The other TDs will sit below that, followed by or mixed in with the worse autocannon tanks.  The bottom of the stack will be occupied by things like the Vickers Mk. II and the Te-Ke.  This is all working on the assumption that view range is far less important now and that alpha, armor, speed, and DPM are more important.  When September is over, the first thing I'll start playing with is the H35 with the 25mm gun and possibly the American M2.  That and one or two other tanks should be enough to paint the entire picture for where the tier 2 meta stands now.

This is still roughly where I stand on things, though of course the T18 has now been replaced by the T3 whose strength is yet to be evaluated.  As far as the I-Go is concerned, I don't think many players have picked up on its strength.  According to spencer's new dpgwhores site, for those who've played the tank at least 100 times, there aren't even five people who have DPG above 300 or win rate above 65%.  The entire remainder of the clubber community is avoiding this tank altogether, and either they see something bad about it or something better in another tank, or everybody else is wrong.  I'm pretty sure it's the latter.

Kuroialty

Yesterday was the start of the open beta for Armored Warfare.  As I wrote earlier, I missed my chance to get into AW previously during an open stress test, and by no means was I interested in dropping however much it was for a founder's pack to play earlier, so this was my first chance to play the game.  Things started off well.  After looking at the first two tier 1s, it may surprise some to say that I picked the autocannon tank to play through first.  So far, I've only played the PvE mode, and have been enjoying it immensely.  I only ran into some minor concerns at first, like not being able to convert the tank reputation I earn straight into crew experience after I research everything on the tank or get it to renowned status, or being severely limited on how much resource I can get for my base every day.  It wasn't until I got to the LAV-150 that the game finally raised a red flag by introducing me to the retrofit system.

Retrofits in AW are the WoT equivalent of equipment.  There are many more of them in AW than in WoT, first because they offer advantages that WoT equipment doesn't, such as penalty reductions or improved normalization, second because they are sometimes offered in combination, like packaging reload rate and accuracy, or turret traverse and maximum move speed, and third because each retrofit has three tiers of performance.  It's the third aspect that raises the red flag, not due to the nature of the system itself, but by how those tiers are acquired.  Tanks in AW have an unlock structure that deviates slightly from WoT.  While you still unlock some things on a tree, tanks of later tiers are unlocked not by spending experience, but rather by earning experience.  Earning 50% of the experience to the next tier designates your tank as Proven, which itself opens up a separate section of upgrades and bonuses you can spend tank specific experience on.  It is in this Proven section that retrofits may be unlocked.

To sum up the problem, this makes it so that in order to unlock enough retrofits to have the option to give your tanks their optimal loadout, you will need to play through many other tank trees and reach Renowned status all the way up to the tank containing the last necessary retrofit tier and then reach Proven on that tank to unlock the retrofit.  This turns this game into a completionist nightmare for anyone who wants optimal loadouts on their tanks.  Unlike in WoT where you could simply play one tank of whatever tier and whatever type and grind out the credits necessary to buy your equipment, you won't even have license to buy that equipment in AW unless you spend time and money pushing yourself through dozens of other tanks first.  Fortunately, part of the math to illustrate how ridiculous this system is has already been done:

 

So basically, the deal is this.  I am a top player; eventually I will have to have these top items on my best tanks.  The question is to bypass or play cancer (doubles).  So its either:

Option 1:  Grind

- Spend estimated 18 mil credits to buy and fit tanks.  Get back 9m.

- Get back estimated 25 mil in credits from playing 1250 games.  +16m net.

- Spend 105+ hours playing arty.

Option 2:  Bypass

- Spend 0 buying and fitting tanks.

- Earn estimated 26m net playing MBT-70.

- Spend ~35 hours playing MBT.

- Spend $24, and incentivize a game company to put in shitter content.

CONCLUSION:

Bypassing cancer makes +10mil credits more and saves ~70 hours.  Not to mention, playing the MBT 70 is inherently more fun than cancer.  The main downside is the cost -- $24.  But at the end of the day, I don't think I am willing to play cancer for $0.20 an hour. 

Spending 105 hours grinding out a license to buy an upgrade that would take me minutes to grind for and buy in the low tiers and perhaps a few hours in high tiers hardly seems worth it.  Spending $24 to not play the game and also incentivize developer time spent on parts of the game I don't want to play so that I can spend more money on not playing it is absolutely not worth it.  The other arty line brings this up to 210 hours or $48.  These are just the costs for one line and are also based off of using a premium tank with premium time, which requires spending money in either case - absolutely not worth it.   More lines outside of arty mean either more grind or more money to spend, and only after getting through every single tank will I have everything available to me to actually have an optimized loadout.  Even if it were only two lines that I had to grind through for four third-tier retrofits that I would find were the best to use on any tank and could fit the best of those four on any tank (incredibly unlikely), that would still involve a serious time or capital investment into playing tanks I may not be interested in for the sake of a tank I really am interested in.

The third option is that I could simply go without these upgrades being maxed out, that in recognizing the grind and the cost isn't worth it, I would be forever playing a tank that wasn't working at optimal capacity.  WoT doesn't punish me like this.  It hasn't ever said to me that because I don't play through certain tanks, my other tanks can't be as good as they could be.  The only source of pressure to play tanks in WoT that I don't want to play has been the community, and while it results in its own form of justified or unjustified ostracism, ignoring this pressure from the community has never resulted in a worse gameplay experience in those tanks I want to play.  It is not so with AW.  Without grinding lines or dropping cash on bypassing them, my tanks will be forever inferior to the tanks of those who do.  While I don't expect any community to cry foul of anyone who doesn't wish to grind or spend money, I do expect many, particularly those from WoTLabs, to value those who seek to optimize their performance over those who don't.  I certainly feel that way, but the caveat of what one must do to get there in AW puts me in a bind.

So I'm simply not going to spend much time on AW.  It looks great, it feels great, but knowing what it's setting me up for, I won't be sticking around.  I'll keep playing it for the next week or two perhaps, but at some point, the gravity of what lies ahead is going to be too much and I'm going to bow out.  It's very unfortunate, but Armored Warfare for me is dead on arrival.

 

Kuroialty

Just a little more reflection on recent events.

I've done what feels like a lot of work lately in putting together my opinions on tier 2 play.  I think it started when I put together a guide for how I approach low tier maps, and then I did the autocannon challenge, and then I wrote about what qualities are important at tier 2 and redid how I rated all the tanks, and then in the end, WG pushes a change that completely upsets the balance and changes the meta of the tier in a big way.  That largely voided much of the work that I put into making public resources for others to read and use to improve or discuss.  Its value wasn't completely lost on me.  I definitely feel better off having gone through the autocannon challenge and doing all the other writeups, but for all the time sunk into those, I probably could have gotten more fun with less work by just playing the game the way I'd been playing it.  A big part of writing up all this stuff is so that others can read it, but so much of my stuff now represents a meta that no longer exists.  The autocannon challenge taught me that my pure theorycrafting on parts of the tier 2 meta that I knew relatively nothing about was pretty shit.  My bias against autocannons, while somewhat justifiable, led to me elevating other tanks so much farther ahead of them than made sense for the similarity in what results they could achieve.  Understanding that, it would be foolish of me to simply rewrite all the things I've put up now after only having put a few hundred games into the new meta in a single tank, one which I believe is at the absolute top, which is a terrible perch from which to judge all other tanks.  I have to put the time in and play first.

But the time for doing that isn't yet.  There are going to be more changes that happen to low tiers in just the next patch or two that are going to shake things up again.  If I really wanted, I could play a bunch of games in the next couple weeks and rewrite all the guides and they'd be in great shape.  Of course, then the next patch would hit and they would all likely be obsolete again.  Then I'd have to do everything over again and put more time into that, which could all get ruined by WG putting out another patch that changes something else significant.

WG is in some kind of phase right now where they're trying to change up parts of the game that are fundamental to how people play.  It could be a response to incoming pressure from AW.  In any case, it makes any immediate time I spend on this game rather pointless outside of my own selfish entertainment, which I find myself getting more of from other sources right now.  With that, I've concluded that playing WoT for any reason right now just isn't sensible.  Maybe when WG is done shaking things up in future patches, I'll finally come back and fix up my analyses on tier 2.

 

Whoops, this almost sounded like a quitting post near the end of it.  I'm not quitting WoT, not just yet.  I'm just recognizing that what I really want to do right now in WoT - pin down where each of the tier 2 tanks sit in this new meta - isn't feasible in the long term right now.  It's better to just step away for the moment and wait until what I want to do is something worth doing.

Kuroialty

Suddenly, 1k blog views.

 

My blog view count has been slowly creeping up since about a week ago.  It seems to have gotten ~150 views in just the past two to three days.  I don't know where all the views are coming from, if it's from links I posted on the forums here or someone else linking the posts somewhere else, or people actually looking at the new content or blogs page and clicking on my posts.

I'm glad there are at least some people out there interested enough in this stuff to read it, or at least click on it.

I haven't played WoT since Thursday.  I think I've burned out from playing the Jap heavies so much.  Got my second mark on the O-I Exp and was pushing for the third mark, but I've lost interest in finishing it.  Unlocked the O-Ni but didn't touch it.  Tried to get back into playing the medium line for the on-track event, got bored after three sta-1 games and didn't go back.  Instead, I've been playing more Board Game Online recently, because I remembered how much fun it was (if you play it and find it interesting, it would help me if you signed up with this referral link).  I also tried to play some of the AW stress test.  I downloaded the whole client and made an account, but didn't pay attention to the test times and didn't get on at the right time.  I know there's an open beta starting soon, so maybe I'll try it at that point.  Not sure if I really want to get back into playing WoT soon.  I know I mentioned that I wanted to redo the tier 2 rankings, and I do, but my heart's just not in it to spend time with the game right now.  As long as I'm mentioning it, I doubt I'm going to get much into AW either.  Maybe between it and WoT, it'll be the better game, but it doesn't seem fundamentally different enough from WoT to warrant playing after so much time with WoT.  It's not so much a sunk cost thing as it is genre fatigue.

Kuroialty

In light of some changes that have happened recently to low tier gameplay and the revealed intentions for these changes, I feel the need to step in and say something:

Clubbers aren't going away.

I should take a moment to clarify what I mean when I talk about clubbers.  When other people talk about clubbers, they typically refer to players who've been in the game for some time and prey upon players of little familiarity or skill.  This can refer to players of any tier and any skill level, which is where you get bad jokes from people who talk about clubbing at tier 10 and why you get people like me lumped in with people like Marxist, jsnazz, and powerminer3000.  When I talk about clubbers, I focus more on the tier aspect, referring only to those who primarily play the lower tiers.  I filter it down further to those who primarily play tiers 1 and 2, because tier 3 and 4 clubbers really don't exist except with a handful of tanks while tier 1 and 2 clubbers will play basically anything.  This also makes more sense when talking about clubbing with regard to what WG is doing to stop it since most controls they put in place are towards tiers 1 and 2.

The change to a more tapered introduction of maps by tier was an opportunity for WG to take another shot at pressuring out clubbers.  They've taken measures to this effect in the past, first by making many weekend bonuses unavailable to low tier tanks and many missions restricted from being done by tiers below 3, then by introducing a separate kiddie-pool MM that separated low battle count players from higher battle count ones, and now by changing up the map pool to remove any open or campy maps with a vision meta that new players couldn't grasp.  In spite of each change, clubbers remain a considerable part of low tier games and its meta.  To shed some light on why this is, I'm going to outline the various reasons why low tiers remain appealing and why nothing WG does is going to bring a full stop to this activity.

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Matchmaking and minor power disparity - Tier 2 has ±1 matchmaking, a spread that most other tiers wish they had.  Tier 1 has +1/-0 matchmaking, which is considerably worse but still better than any tier with +2 matchmaking of any kind.  Tiers 1 through 3 are balanced with this in mind.  Tier 2 tanks are stronger than tier 1 tanks, but not so strong that tier 1s can't be somewhat reliably leveraged well against tier 2s.  The same is true for the relationship between tier 2s and 3s.  This is in contrast to matchmaking in higher tiers where tanks separated by two tiers clash, and the higher tier tank is at an enormous advantage over the lower tier tank.  Fights in low tiers are not so deterministic.  This also provides sanity through consistency, avoiding the extreme swings that come from going back and forth between matches against two tiers below and those against two tiers above.

 

DPM-to-health ratio - DPM for tier 2 tanks ranges from low 900s to high 1400s, averaging out at about 1150.  Tier 2 health averages out at about 160.  The extreme difference in these values means that tanks can kill each other very quickly, which makes trading efficiently and protecting your own HP more important than in any other tier, creates fast-paced close-range engagements, and makes exposure easier to punish and with a harsher penalty.  This generally tapers off as tiers increase.  By comparison, tier 10 tanks have about three to four times the DPM with more than ten times the health, leading to more lethargic gameplay.  The general increase in reload times also has a similar effect in bogging things down.  The second-greatest cop out "argument" of mid and high tier players (second only to the new player "argument") is that low tier gameplay is campy, and thus slow, and thus boring.  WG has done most of my work for me in this regard by removing all campy maps and making this not ever really happen anymore.  Even if they hadn't though, this notion of low tier gameplay being slow is just wrong, and it is entirely thanks to this ratio.  The pace of combat during engagements is far more important than the pace between engagements.

 

Great individual player agency - Individuals are more important and can do more in low tiers than anywhere else due to a variety of factors.  One such factor is the DPM-to-health ratio already covered.  Total damage output is another factor.  Tanks at higher tiers tend not to have either enough ammo or DPM to be able to take out an entire team by themselves and are wholly dependent upon the performance of teammates to pull out a win.  By contrast, tanks in low tiers often have plenty of shells and great enough DPM to be capable of destroying entire opposing teams.  Tanks in lower tiers are also more versatile than those in higher tiers.  Since most tanks have not yet been sorted into specific roles, there are many tanks that are capable of filling any role.  There's no need to choose a tank that is pigeonholed to a small set of jobs because of some great deficiency in penetration or health or speed because there are plenty of tanks to choose from that don't have such severe drawbacks.  This quality may be the most difficult to comprehend for any person who spends most of their time in higher tiers.  WG has geared endgame towards exclusively being a team experience, partly through systems like clan wars and tournaments and partly through basic mechanics in numbers like shell count and DPM.  High tier players are dependent upon their teammates not by choice, but by necessity.  Lower tiers, being the first experience of typical players, are expected to be populated with players without connections or the skill to make connections with other players.  For such isolated players to reach any level of consistent success, each must be given the tools to carry out the entire team's goals themselves.

 

No warped feelings towards, because of, or in spite of randomness -  WoT has many elements that are out of any single player's control.  These elements are most restrained and tolerable in lower tiers.  Consider matchmaker randomness.  Limited matchmaking bands eliminate the chance to run into clearly unfavorable or unwinnable scenarios of fighting tanks two or three tiers higher.  Many players in lower tiers can be expected to be new, which easily translates into an expectation to be bad, which easily translates into an expectation of not relying on or trusting your team to be useful, which results in fewer occasions of being let down from not getting help from a player you expected would help you.  High tier players are expected to be experienced and more team-oriented, which leads to more trust being placed in the hands of teammates and more disappointment when those players turn out to be just as unhelpful as anyone fresh to the game.  The smaller map pools of lower tiers provide players with more time to learn each map and how to play them, decreasing the chance of running into an unfamiliar or poorly understood map.  There are also fewer different types of tanks that can be encountered, due both to there being fewer low tier models than mid or high tiers and the tighter MM spread.  Consider game RNG.  Poor gun accuracy is of limited concern due to fast reload and aim times, so missed shots there aren't as bad as missed shots with higher tier guns on six to 20 second reloads.  Most tanks either have relevant armor against another tank's penetration or don't have it, and very few have significant enough side armor and shape to do sidescraping.  This eliminates much hope and guesswork from both parties around whether a shot will penetrate or bounce.  Guns with faster rates of fire will put out more shells in the same time span as a gun with a slower rate of fire.  Combined with the ±25% RNG of shell damage, this means that guns with faster rates of fire (or those that fire more shells) more reliably perform towards the average whereas high damage, slow rate of fire guns can more often perform to extremes.  When extremes with either gun type result in leaving enemies on slivers of health, the guns with faster rates of fire are better suited at getting in that last shot before the target escapes than those which take six to 20 seconds to reload.

 

Low investment - Low tier tanks are cheap to research and cheap to buy.  The silver and XP cost for any tank and all modules can be taken care of with a couple dozen battles at most in that tank or cheaply purchased in bulk with the credits and free XP earned from playing other tanks.  By far, the most expensive aspect of any low tier tank is the equipment, but it's cheaper to grind those out than to buy your way up to any tier 5 tank.  Some equipment like vents and spall liners are cheaper on the smaller tanks.  When moving on to new tanks, things like binoculars and camo nets can be swapped instead of buying extra copies.  All of this makes getting into a new low tier tank very easy to do for anyone.  This provides great resilience against shifts in the low tier meta, since all you need to do to adapt is spend five minutes researching, buying, and gearing up a new tank with credits and XP you've already earned from the past hundred or so battles.  If there were any one reason to cite why I personally stick with low tier tanks, it would be this one.  Time wasted on grinding though higher tier tanks to have the opportunity to grind more higher tier tanks, any of which could be phased out of usefulness on the whims of the developer, is time better spent on tanks that take little investment to reach full proficiency and can be swapped out for something else with negligible loss.

 

Bypasses business model - This is partly a consequence of the cheapness of low tier tanks.  There is a lack of things in low tiers to spend money on and of reason to do so in the first place.  Premium time isn't necessary for bypassing grind or making up for repair costs as both of those are minimal.  There are only a handful of low tier premium tanks up for sale, and few if any worth buying.  WG will often have missions or events where you can claim these tanks for free.  Many others have been given out during special events like holidays or anniversaries.  If these tanks don't turn out to be worth having, they can be scrapped for credits and the garage slots can be used to hold more, better tanks.  Gold isn't necessary for demounting or ammo because the extra credits not spent on buying high tier vehicles and modules can go towards rebuying equipment or premium shells.  Not having incentive to spend money on the game is easy on the wallet.  It wouldn't make sense anyways to put money towards a developer whose interests aren't at all in line with yours.

 

Large and healthy playerbase - The expected player experience is to start at tier 1 and work your way up to higher tiers.  This means that just about every player is going to pass through the low tiers.  There is no danger of running out of new people to play with or against since this is the first part of the game that everyone gets funneled into.  Because the population is so large and because many players are new to the game, all matches can play out in wildly different ways, demanding players be capable of handling a wide variety of situations to succeed.

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These qualities don't just stand on their own.  Part of why individual player agency is so great is linked to the ±1 matchmaking and the DPM-to-health ratio.  Part of why the playerbase is so large is because its low investment leaves it open for everybody.

What I am saying by each of these points is that low tier gameplay is unique in comparison to the rest of the game.  The change to the low tier map pool towards tighter maps took away from everyone the vision control game that clubbers played to trade extraordinarily well against opponents.  That quality of low tier games was merely surface level.  The real appeal of low tiers is built right into the game, not just with those tiers, but going all the way up the ladder.  Investment in low tiers is low, but more important is that it is low in comparison to high tiers.  Individual agency is high, but more important is that such agency evaporates as tiers increase.  ±1 matchmaking is nice, but more important is how much +2/-1 and ±2 matchmaking stands in the way of something better.  Changing the map pool isn't going to change these factors.  Scraping off the newest of players half the time isn't going to change these factors.  Dumping shitty autocannon premiums into low tier games isn't going to change these factors.

Some seem to think that WG needs to do something to stop clubbers from turning away new players.  Many of the ideas that people come up with for doing this are absolutely retarded though.  There's no part of the game that's easier for a new player than low tiers, all for similar reasons why there are long time players that stick with it.  Screwing with these basic appeals of low tiers isn't just going to drive off clubbers.  It's going to drive off everyone, not to mention be a humungous time and resource sink for WG to redesign and rebalance their game from the ground up.  You want to mess with the matchmaking tiers?  Enjoy watching WG flounder around for six months trying to rebalance tiers 1-4 and failing spectacularly, if they even thought it would work at all to begin with, or seeing all the clubbers migrate to tier 3 and continue to pick off tier 1s with even more devastating weapons.  You want to warp all of the damage and health values to make tanks at every tier take more hits to kill?  You must underestimate and not like how easy it is for clubbers to be one-clip vaporized by things like T1s or T18s, must love artillery having juicier targets, and must not understand how giving everyone more survivability is going to give clubbers miles of extra leverage to use against everyone else.  These problems you perceive low tiers to have aren't problems.  They are the best traits that this game has to offer to anyone, and the reason you can't or won't recognize that is because either you've got no mind of your own and accepted and invested into WG's hook of titillating your simple brain with bigger numbers, or you just can't handle the independence, the pacing, and the punishment that comes with the territory.

But these suggestions for change are all geared towards destroying parts of the game for the sake of rescuing the new player.  Creative ideas for this "problem" don't seem to exist in the minds of these people, as though ruining good parts of a game for perceived improvement elsewhere is preferable to straight improvement.  I haven't heard a single push for low tier strongholds or more low tier tournaments or the use of any other end game tool in WG's tool belt that is meant for vacuuming up the better players from the higher tiers and pushing them into other parts of the game.  If implemented as they are now by just shifting the tier, it probably wouldn't matter though, since it's not like those tools stop high tier players from playing in randoms either.  It wouldn't work if they pointed it at tiers like 3 or 4 either since those are already areas clubbers avoid.  A creative solution to clubbers would involve giving them a place to go which retains the same hallmarks that low tiers are currently great for and gives them a chance to play for something more than what they get out of the game now.  The easy route would be more experience and credits, which may be necessary anyways to discourage clubbers from going back to randoms to train crews, but perhaps not sufficient since extra credits and gold don't have much value in such a low cost environment.  What may be more effective is to just play to their egos - give clubbers something to chase after that they can stroke their e-peen to other than their pubbing stats.  Similar kinds of campaign rewards that have been given out for past clan wars like special (low tier in this case) tanks, medals, camo, and emblems could do the trick.

Of course, that's not likely to happen either, since that's a lot of effort to pour into a community that otherwise has little to no incentive to spend money on the game.  Unless you expect to get money out of them after the fact or make money off all the pubbies that make it up to the high tiers without getting clubbed in the lower tiers, it wouldn't make business since, so WG won't do it (you could make the case that WG won't do it if people won't spend money on it, but that's as easily justifiable as saying people won't spend money on it because WG won't do it).  In fact, nothing that WG could do to low tiers is something worth spending the effort on to do right, and all of it carries the huge risk of not working anyways.  All the reasons why low tiers are great are the reasons low tiers have been great since the start and will still be the reasons they'll be great when the game eventually dies.  I, a long time player of low tiers, looked at the map pool changes and felt like things were going to change forever.  But though they did, things fundamentally remained as usual.  Coming through that, I don't see how anything WG would do could result in significant change to the status quo.

Clubbers are here to stay.

Kuroialty

Last week, I spent a few hundred battles playing the new I-Go.  I've been mildly interested in playing this tank ever since I'd first seen what kind of stats it would have.  Anything with 320m view range gets my attention.  On the other hand, from playing other Japanese low tiers in the past, I knew that I was going to struggle to make much use of it with its slow shell speed.

But three weeks ago, I was thrown a curveball, a real game changer.  WG announced that they were going to mess with the map rotation of lower and middle tiers.  After a nice three to four years of becoming accustomed to the sniping metagame of tier 2 WoT, the maps were all getting replaced to promote a different style of game.  No more would there be the rock & bush camping of Malinovka or Province.  The vision game was apparently too difficult for new players to grasp.  I never felt that way when I started out.  I didn't find any problem grasping the ideas of "moving out into the open against enemies with guns will get me shot" and "far away objects can be hard to see" and adjusting my behavior accordingly.  Things like basic spatial awareness and survival instinct are just natural for me, I suppose.  Instead, maps like Mittengard and Ruinberg were given more prominent positions in the pool, promoting engagements at such close range that spotting enemies would be a given.

This was done, as claimed by Storm, in an effort to curtail clubbing.  It's no secret that the players who wanted to be the best at tier 2 would become the best at playing the vision game that was so much more effective and versatile than doing anything else in the tier.  The logic was that by eliminating the vision game, you would be removing from clubbers their primary ability to prevent retaliation through hiding.  This would be reflected in their stats by them not being able to get as much damage or as many kills before they'd be knocked out, and this drop in stats would drive many clubbers away.  Overall, it was a huge misinterpretation by Storm and company on what motivates players to play in environments like tier 2, but that's the topic of a future blog post.

What really was interesting about this change was what it did for the I-Go.  Slow shell speeds are a disaster for doing any kind of sniping, unless you're some kind of savant that can properly calculate slow shell travel time and line it up with enemy tank movement all in your head every two to three seconds that your gun reloads.  Even then, WoT has an unfriendly way of handling long distance shots against moving targets with slow shells.  No more large and open maps means no more distance sniping issues though.  This wasn't great just because it meant I could use more of the I-Go's full damage potential, but it was even more great that the I-Go's DPM was over 2k.  The only other thing close to that is the T18, which comes with a whole host of issues such like bad mobility and restrictive gun arc.  Previously, the tank with the highest DPM that I could really bear to play was my T2, but that only clocked in about 1.2k.  The output for the I-Go would be insane, and it was insane.  I had a blast playing through those I-Go battles.  In terms of stats, I managed to get better results in damage, kills, and win rate than I'd been doing before in recently playing with the M2A4 and Pz. 35t, and all of the battles were super fast so I could do a bunch more of them in the same amount of time.

Strangely, I didn't seem to run into many other clubbers who adopted the I-Go.  I look at clubbers as having been segmented into the following groups:

  • Those who didn't adapt (that should have) - These are the people who are still sticking with the tanks they played before the map rotation changed.  I'm mostly referring to any Cruiser III players out there.  These people are the worst kind of clubber, because it's clear that they only ended up choosing to play the Cruiser III because it was the best tank in the last meta and haven't changed because they're too stupid to figure out what's better.  I felt like I ran into lots of players like these, but it may have just been that they stuck out so much to me because of how obviously bad they were being.
  • Those who ran away from Mittengard - Anybody who primarily stuck with tiers 1 or 2 that suddenly started playing a lot of T-127 or other preferential tier 3s.  Granted, the T-127 itself is pretty great against these new low tier Japanese tanks, but what I feel is more likely is that they're doing what they can to get out of playing Mittengard.  Mittengard itself still seems to be getting a lot of hate for being a bad map, and it is a bad map, but this new pool allows tanks to be chosen that play well on Mittengard because those tanks will play well on all the other maps too.  Instead of finding ways to make something good out of playing Mittengard, they ran into higher tiers where they wouldn't see it in their rotation.  Preferential tier 3s are ideal for this since they are still a low enough tier for games to be interesting and fun, but now high enough to miss playing Mittengard which shows up for 1s and 2s instead of 2s and 3s like before.
  • Those who adapted (or didn't have to) - Basically anyone who spent a long time in low tiers that played an I-Go is in this category.  I've speculated before on what other tanks would make up the new low tier meta.  I-Go would be in there for sure.  The hard to penetrate French tanks would be there, the slightly armored and quick M2s would be there, and some of the better autocannon tanks like the Pz. II and Light VIC might show up a bit.  I remember seeing a lot of M2s, BT-2s, and Tetrarchs piloted by long time players counting on their speed to outplay the I-Gos.
  • Those who quit or went elsewhere - It's hard to say how many really fit into this group.

What I'm interested in figuring out next is where all of the tier 2 tanks stand in this new meta.  It's hard to look at things from just having played the I-Go.  The perspective is so high and makes everything else look so comparatively worse that it's impossible to tell what really stands out as being better or worse than other tanks.  I intend to spend the rest of the month with these Japanese heavies, working as far up the line as I can stand to do.  Playing other tier 2s to get a better perspective will have to wait.  I at least have some idea now though of where things will shake out.  The I-Go will stand at the top, and the T18 might not be far behind.  Below that will be the M2s followed by some combination of French tanks, standard gun tanks, and the couple of good autocannon tanks.  The other TDs will sit below that, followed by or mixed in with the worse autocannon tanks.  The bottom of the stack will be occupied by things like the Vickers Mk. II and the Te-Ke.  This is all working on the assumption that view range is far less important now and that alpha, armor, speed, and DPM are more important.  When September is over, the first thing I'll start playing with is the H35 with the 25mm gun and possibly the American M2.  That and one or two other tanks should be enough to paint the entire picture for where the tier 2 meta stands now.

The map changes really didn't make much negative impact on what I find to be so good about playing tier 2, and certainly didn't do anything to make up for how shit everything in higher tiers works.  I think that after some time to adjust, players are going to go back to spending a lot of time in tier 2 because it still retains much of the appeal it had before.  WG will have to change things on a more fundamental and large-scale manner to get clubbers out of that environment completely.

 

Kuroialty

A while back, I came across an old archive of replays and screenshots of me playing in 2012.  The replays are basically worthless now, but at least the screenshots can still provide a glimpse into my earlier days in WoT.

 

The earliest item I have, from around the end of March, 2012.  Back then, I would often take screenshots of games where I felt I did well, which tended to be anything that earned me a medal.  It's anyone's guess at this point why I was running 20 HE shells.

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I always found seeing the long lists of names and tanks in these columns to be more impressive than a simple number in my final stats.

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A rare shot of me in my M5 Stuart, doing the usual bitch scout job of absolutely fucking nothing.

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Premium garage.  I didn't always shirk premium time.  I was aware of the effect it would have on my stats, but didn't care enough at the time to be bothered by it.  Also, a good glimpse into my available tanks at the time, a much different lineup than what I've got now.

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I miss the days when the Tetra would treat me so well.

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Earliest shot I have of my service record, from mid-May, 2012.  Even before the 2.5k battle mark, I was turning out to be a solid player.  What isn't really shown in this image is how most of those battles took place only took place in the last half-year or so.  I hadn't played the game much in 2011, and only just barely returned to the game in time to claim the Tetra.

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More long lists of names.

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Early encounter with powerminer3000.  I still see him playing that Hotchkiss these days, just as rotten a player now as he was back then.

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Early versions of my XVM config.  I had a lot of trouble getting my colors right in matching them to the correct categories back then.  fall7777 makes an appearance, whose story is much the same as powerminer's.

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It seems that I eventually got my colors right though.

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Cancer being cancer.

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I found my way into NTR 1.0 one day, back when the crowd from /vg/ was still rather casual, disorganized, and fun.  They couldn't play low tiers for shit, as they showed me in the tournament I played with them.  Cool emblem at least.

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<counting-in intensifies>

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My first Kolo's.  Somewhat surprised it happened on my M2 rather than the T2 or Tet.

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Checking my T2 crew's skill progress in anticipation of being able to run BiA.  I never slotted a skill the entire time because I wasn't totally certain that there wasn't something better, and also couldn't change my mind later if I screwed up since I didn't have gold.

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Last screenshot I have from that time period, from mid-July, 2012.  Notice the AMX 12t sitting in my garage in anticipation of a free garage slot and ELC that I would never end up playing.

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That's the end of relevant screenshots that I have from that time period.  You can download the whole album yourself here if you'd like to see what else is there.

 

I came back to the game around the end of November, 2012.  This shot was from the test server since I'd already started playing the game before I thought to get a screenshot of my old stats, and this was the easiest way to go back in time to get them.

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Not too long after returning, I got my first Kolo's in my T2.  I can still sorta even remember the game.

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Since then, I've done a fair job of archiving replays and screenshots, separating them by major patch.  There's not anything else quite interesting enough to share though.  Most screenshots I've taken since 8.0 have just been of battle reports where I either got some kind of medal or had some other sort of interesting game.  I don't think there's any sense in posting several dozen screenshots of me getting Top Guns and bonus mission XP.

Kuroialty

To understand what makes a tank good, you first need to take a look at the metagame.  Tanks are only good if they have qualities that make them good against the meta.  The meta is determined primarily by two groups of tanks - those which are most frequently played and those which are most frequently played by the best players.  In tier 2, the tanks played most frequently (in the last 30 days, according to vBAddict) are the T18, Cruiser III, Pz. II, and T7 Combat Car.  In my experience, the best players gravitate towards tanks like the Cruisers III and I, T18, M2 LT, and the Pz. 38H if they can get their hands on one.  The tanks which are most popular are so either because they are given out to many people (T7 Car), have a high skill floor (T18), or are the most successful of their kind (Cruiser III, Pz. II).  The tanks which the best players like either have high potential (Cruisers, M2 LT) or can be difficult to punish without the right tools (T18, Pz. 38H).  Also worth giving consideration to is what is popular in tier 3, as it is important to remain relevant in a higher tier battle.

(This entry was written with 9.9 and previous patches in mind.  Patch 9.10's change to the map pool made a huge impact on what qualities are of greatest importance in the tier 2 meta.  This list will be rewritten, reorganized, and reposted in the future to accommodate those changes.)

With this in mind, this is how important different stats on a tier 2 non-SPG are in determining how good it is.

Primary Importance

These are the must-haves of tier 2.  All of the best tanks will have good values in each of these stats.  Falling behind in any category can be destructive to any tank's performance.

View range (base)

>310 - Pz. 38H, M2 LT, Pz. II D

[290-310] - UC 2-pdr, Ha-Go, Vickers Mk. II

 <290 - BT-2, T2 LT, FCM 36

View range is the single most important stat of tier 2.  The tanks with the highest view range dictate the flow of battle by taking positions where large amounts of area can be spotted and finding for themselves and their allies where enemies exist.  Knowing where the enemy exists is one of the first steps to either destroying them or not being destroyed by them.

Penetration (of standard ammo)

>50 - Cruiser III, Tetrarch, AT-1

[35-50] - T2 MT, Te-Ke, Pz. II

<35 - T2 LT, Chi-Ni, D1

Penetration is the second most important stat of tier 2.  Tanks with decent armor such as the Pz. II and T18 are so popular that not having the penetration to face these tanks head-on is like setting oneself up for eventual failure.  Even if not for these tanks, having low penetration does not scale well into fighting tier 3 tanks.  Premium ammo with good penetration values can be a decent supplement to already fair standard ammo penetration, but a tank shouldn't have to spam premium ammo in order to be good.  Penetration loss over distance is rarely worth more than simply mentioning.  A tank with good penetration values will likely have sufficient penetration at a distance.

Matchmaking

±1 - most tanks

+2, -1 - T2 LT

+0, -1 - T7 Car, Light VIC, Pz. I

±1 matchmaking is an ideal range as tanks are rarely so imbalanced between adjacent tiers that tanks from one tier aren't at least somewhat of a threat and can be leveraged well against tanks from one tier higher.  If a tank breaks out of this norm in any way, it is a signal that the tank is bad.  If a tank were so strong that it could actually contend in tier 4, it would be too strong for tier 2 and thus be removed or not exist.  The only other case would be a tier 2 tank being shoved into tier 4 matches where it doesn't belong, which is precisely what is wrong with the T2 LT.  On the other hand, if a tank is so weak that it can't compete with tier 3s and doesn't match up against them, it is very likely not competitive with all of the other tanks in the tier which have been deemed as having those tools.  This stat is not so much a reason why a tank is good or bad as it is a signal that tanks with unusual matchmaking may have something else wrong about them.

Shell range

720 - any gun that isn't an autocannon or semi-auto

400 - autocannons and semi-autos

In order to properly play the distance meta of tier 2, you need guns that can reach out and hit anything you see and your allies help spot.  Guns whose shells become harmless after 400m make tanks harmless to opponents outside that range and should never be used when given the option not to.  However, there are several tanks, many being premium, which do not have any other options, and they suffer accordingly.

Gun arc

360 - any tank with a conventional turret

30+ - UC 2-pdr, Pz. Jg I, T18

<30 - FT AC, AT-1

Fixed turrets are extremely detrimental to a tank's versatility.  The need to turn the tank in order to aim a shot voids much of the benefits of running binoculars or a camo net and makes for inaccurate shots and missed opportunities.  Some gun arcs are better than others, but for the most part, any degree of limitation here should be avoided.

Aim time (before equipment/skills, dependant on commander being gunner)

<1.7 - T2 MT, Pz. II, Pz. I

[1.7 - 2.1] - Cruiser III, Ha-Go, D1

>2.1 - T-60, AT-1, Vickers Mk. II

Tier 2 has a lot of target-switching and fired shots and low accuracy guns.  To make the most of the available firepower, the gun needs to be able to quickly zoom on any target to get the best chance for doing damage with each shell in as little time as possible.  Weakness in this area will result in many missed opportunities or risky shots and is only somewhat warranted with longer reload times.

 

Secondary importance

These are the should-haves of tier 2.  It may not be necessary to be good at everything here, but falling behind in too many places can be the difference between a great tank and a good tank.

Reload (including equipment, before skills, dependant on commander being loader, thresholds doubled for tanks with only semi-autos or autocannons)

<2.3 - T2 MT, Pz. II, H35

[2.3 - 2.6] - Cruiser III, T1E6, D1

>2.6 - T18, FCM 36, Light VIC

Reload impacts your ability to go for killing blows or take a corrected shot after you miss.  In some dire, close-ranges cases, a race between tank reloads can determine who wins and who loses.  Long reloads provide opportunities for opponents to make unpunished, otherwise risky plays.  The longer the reload, the harder it may be to find a good opportunities to reload a clip or switch shell types.

Speed

>50 - M2 LT, BT-2, T7 Car

[50 - 35] - Cruiser I, VAE Type B, Pz. I

<35 - FT AC, AT-1, D1

Raw speed is necessary for repositioning and aggressive play.  In a way, it also defines how much of a leash you have from your own base before you risk being unable to respond to a base cap.  It is one of the primary factors (along with horsepower) that allows players to dictate the pace of battle when corridors make view range ineffective.

Horsepower-to-weight ratio

>25 - T2 MT, BT-2, T7 Car

[25-15] - M2A4, Tetrarch, Light VIC

<15 - Pz. 38H, T-26, R35

A good tank deserves a strong engine.  Greater horsepower helps abate the speed penalties associated with going up hills and on soft terrain.  It also gives you an edge in close proximity battles by letting you quickly switch directions to avoid shots and an edge in camping by allowing for a faster escape into nearby cover.  It is the other primary factor (along with speed) that allows players to dictate the pace of battle.

Turret traverse (including equipment, before skills, dependant on commander being gunner, irrelevant to TDs without good gun arc)

>40 - Pz. 38H, Tetrarch, Pz. II D

[40 - 30] - Cruiser I, T-60, Vickers Mk. II

<30 - Pz. 35t, VAE Type B, R35

Good turret traverse enables a tank to switch targets quickly, keep up with fast-moving targets at closer ranges, and prevent itself from being circled.  Tanks with a great amount of traverse need to be mindful of how quickly their moving reticule will deteriorate their accuracy.  Good aim speeds are necessary for getting the most out of this stat.  Poor turret traverse may be suitable for tanks with long aim times, as their accuracy will be less wild, though such tanks may end up having to resort to turning their tank and ending up with much worse accuracy problems.

Accuracy (including equipment, before skills, dependant on commander being gunner)

<.40 - Cruiser III, Pz. Jg I, Te-Ke

[.40 - .46] - Pz. 35t, Ha-Go, Chi-Ni

>.46 - T18, T2 LT, T1E6

It is commonly understood that accuracy is very poor at the low tiers.  While this is true, I feel it is more important to recognize the large range of accuracies available.  The tanks with the worst accuracy typically are stuck to autocannons that are already terrible.  There are also tanks that have reasonable accuracy along with other good and relevant firepower-based stats.  In any case, the accuracy doesn't go fully utilized without decent aim time.  Having good accuracy on a tank in this tier doesn't necessarily amount to much, but having bad accuracy can be a bad thing.

Shell velocity (standard ammo only)

700+ - Cruiser III, UC 2-pdr, FCM 36

<700 - T18, Ha-Go, Vickers Mk. II

Low shell velocity is something that can be compensated for in some cases by simply being used to it.  There are some trouble cases though, such as firing at any enemy tank with open sky or far away terrain behind them.  If the target moves away, the game may "correct" the shell and make it fly far beyond the desired target.  Slow shells will also be late at hitting targets that are ducking into cover if not fired soon enough.  Stat padders may become disappointed by damage and kills being lost to teammates who are using quicker shells.  Premium shells sometimes have higher velocities and can be used to compensate for otherwise slow shells, but having to always do this is no sign of a good tank.

Gun depression

>12 - Cruiser I, Chi-Ni, D1

[12 - 9] - Pz. 35t, H35, Pz. I

<9 - Pz. 38 H, VAE Type B, AT-1

Many good camping, spotting, and brawling positions can be found along the edges of sloped terrain.  Good gun depression allows a tank to still be a threat while cresting hills and against enemy tanks in a lower position.  Some locations can become risky or otherwise indefensible without sufficient gun depression.  If a tank has different depression values on different ends of the tank, drivers should be aware of this to not position their tank in such a way that leaves them unable to fight back.

 

Tertiary importance

These are the nice-to-haves of tier 2.  Good values here can be helpful, but they can't make up for lacking in several previously mentioned areas.

Signal range

>450 - M2 LT, Tetrarch, Pz. I

[450 - 350] - M2A4, Ha-Go, Light VIC

<350 - T-26, BT-2, R35

Tanks with good view range benefit from great radios by letting all other allies they can contact know where the enemies are.  Tanks with bad view range benefit from great radios by getting that information and using it to still impact the game.  Tanks with good view range and no good radio squander the opportunity to boost their allies' performances, and tanks without either may as well be blind.

Tank traverse

As covered in this thread, finding the traverse values of a tank involves a lot of math that I can't be arsed to collect all of the data for to do proper comparisons.  Suffice it to say that good tank is probably anything above 50 degrees per second and bad traverse would be below 30 on just hard terrain, though much of what anyone drives over in the tier is medium terrain.  Better values yield greater maneuverability when making sharp turns or turning at high speeds.  This stat is more important to tanks which don't already have sufficient turret traverse to keep up with targets.

Camouflage

great - UC 2-pdr, T-60, R35

fair - Pz. 38H, Tetrarch, Chi-Ni

poor - T2 MT, M2A4, Vickers Mk. II

The best way to stay alive in tier 2 is to not get hit, and the best way to not get hit is to not be seen.  Superior view range goes a long way in keeping tabs on enemies that are far enough away to not see someone shooting at them, but when that doesn't work, camouflage is the next line of protection.  Its importance per tank is not nearly as great as the benefit granted by any bush or fallen tree, but better values may make a difference to how many shots a tank can get off before an enemy closing in sees it.

DPM (including equipment, before skills, dependant on commander being loader)

>1200 - T2 MT, T18, Chi-Ni

[1200 - 1000] - Cruiser III, T-26, H35

<1000 - M2A4, T-60, FCM 36

The raw damage output of a tank in comparison to its peers will, in the long run, determine how much of a direct contribution it can make to the battle.  Higher DPM values can be thought of as more greatly compressed amounts of damage in short amounts of time, which translates to quicker kills on targets and the ability to take on more targets at once.  Of course, a tank's theoretical DPM is very rarely ever reached, and far more important are the stats of the tank that enable it to cause damage more efficiently and reach closer to its theoretical DPM, such as penetration and aim time.

Hit points

>180 - Chi-Ni, Pz. II D, Vickers Mk. II

[180-130] - Cruiser I, VAE Type B, Pz. I

<130 - Pz. Jg I, FT AC, AT-1

For when avoiding getting hit just isn't possible, hit points are the resource pool that dictate how much punishment a tank can take before it becomes inoperable.  Greatly less significant than those stats and tactics that involve not getting hit, but higher life pools could be the difference between dying after four shots or after five shots.

Armor

>50 - T18

[35 - 50] - Pz. 38H, H35, R35

[25 - 35) - M2A4, M2 LT, D1

<25 - T2 MT, T-60, FCM 36

The partner attribute to hit points, armor sets a limit for how hard something has to hit you before it can do damage.  Past base values, armor can be enhanced by the tank's natural angles and further leveraged by manually angling the tank against incoming fire.  Armor that can reliably deter spray cannons is good, but armor that can demand being hit by stronger shells can be good enough to pose a threat by itself.  In any case, the ability to take hits is less important without a decent gun to make use of the added survivability.

Alpha

>140 - T18

[65 - 140] - AT-1, Vickers Mk. II (Chi-Ni)

[35 - 65) - Cruiser III, Pz. Jg I, Te-Ke

<35 - Pz. II, T1E6, Light VIC

Tier 2 is mostly about the constant pressure of damage provided through efficient exercise of DPM.  Even so, there are some tanks that can provide so much damage in one shell that any tank would be reeling after getting hit once.  Tanks whose guns have alpha so large that it can one-shot tanks from full health are in a class of their own.

 

Varying importance

Size - This can be anything from how long a tank is to how tall a tank is to where the gun sits on the tank.  The most important thing is the amount of exposure a tank needs to have in order to fire at a target and how well-armored those exposed areas are.  For rear-mounted tanks like the T2 MT and Light VIC and front-mounted tanks like the D1 and BT-2, this means doing things like poking your tank out from cover in such a way as to expose as little as possible.  Smaller tanks like the T-60 will be difficult to spot and shoot while large tanks like the Vickers Mk. II will be an easy target at any distance.

 

Combined importance

View range and signal range - As covered in the signal range description.

Reload and aim time - As covered in the aim time description.

Speed and horsepower-to-weight - As covered in each section.

Hit points and armor - Tanks should have good values in one of these to make sure they stay in the game long enough to do something.  A tank with both can be good at pressing into a position amidst gunfire, being wary of any tank with sufficient penetration or premium ammo that could put a stop to them.  A tank with neither will be very restricted in what they can do, having to rely entirely on not being spotted and relocating quickly after being spotted.

Gun depression and size - Taller tanks need more gun depression in order to see what's going on beneath them.  -8 might be suitable for some places on a low tank, but a tall tank in the same area might need -12 to do the same job.

 

Future tanks

Here is how I would rate some upcoming tier 2 tanks based on the above guidelines.

T3 HMC

usa-a46_t3_tth.jpg

This tank lacks the important quality of good view range much like its predecessor.  The only good comparative advantage over the T18 out of all of the most important stats is the short aim time.  In terms of other qualities, the T3 doesn't have the incredible armor that the T18 has, instead trading it for great amounts of maneuverability and speed.  For the tier, I feel that this is not a worthwhile trade-off.  If I were to rate the T18 at 5.5/10, I doubt the T3 would be any better than 4.5/10 and likely deserves to be 4/10.

Type 89

From Ritagamer's blog: http://ritastatusreport.blogspot.nl/2015/06/first-japanese-heavy-branch-tank-type-89.html

Tier: 2 MT
Hitpoints: 200
Engine: 120 hp
Weight: 13,064 tons
Power-to-weight: 9,19 hp/t
Maximum speed: 25/12 km/h
Hull traverse: 38 deg/s
Turret traverse: 36 deg/s
Terrain resistance: 0,767/0,863/1,726
Viewrange: 320
Radio range: 443

Hull armor: 17/15/?
Turret armor: 15/15/?

Gun: 57mm Type 90?
Damage: 75
Penetration: 29,6
ROF: 27,205
DPM: 2040
Reload: 2,205
Accuracy: 0,4
Aimtime: 2,1s
Depression: -15

This tank has promise with 320m view range.  If it doesn't receive another gun than the 57mm, the low penetration and aim time will hurt its potential.  The best likely outcome is for it to inherit the 37mm Type 98 to have something fair to use.  Mobility and shell velocity have always been problematic for the low-tier Japanese tanks, and this seems to be no exception, though it gets minor relief in having fair terrain resistances.  Gun depression isn't a problem.  Tank goes the high health, low armor route, which may make it a sitting duck against autocannons.  Without a better gun option, this tank is not much better than the Chi-Ni.  With a better gun like the 37mm Type 98, it may be competitive with the Ha-Go, but that's about it.

Kuroialty

shot_084b.thumb.jpg.6cffe46274178109c0e6

It's no secret; I'm madly in love with this tank and everything it has done for me.  I've had the incredible luck of earning a Raseiniai medal, I won a Type 62 playing it back during the Medium Marathon, and with it, I'm at or near the top of many leaderboards across all servers in categories such as number of battles, efficiency, WN8, win rate, and damage ratio.  My relationship with it came purely by chance, and I'd like to tell everyone the story of how I came to enjoy it and what it has to offer.

 

My History

When I started playing back in the open beta, I had only the first three nations of Russia, Germany, and America to choose between.  I wanted to pick one line to go up and reach the top with because, like so many other people of the time and today, I didn't know any better.  I didn't know what qualities of a tank were good at the time, but from what I could tell of looking at each of the tanks, they all had their good and bad qualities.  I broke my decision atrophy by simply relying on nationalistic pride, something I still had at the time, and went with the T1 Cunningham.  My games with it felt pretty inconsequential until I discovered how I could take down all the people who crossed field in Malinovka by sitting behind the north spawn rock or one of the south spawn buildings, so beginning my march towards unicum-level play.

I had another bit of decision atrophy in deciding what tier 2 tank to play.  I hadn't seen the T18 or T57 in any of my battles, not much later learning that they played in higher tiers than others of the same tier.  It came down to the M2 Light or the T2 Medium, but I still couldn't decide which was better based on the tank stats.  My decision this time was out of pure vanity.  I noticed that the T2 Medium was the only medium tank of the tier, which meant two things to me.  First, it must be better than a light tank because it will have more armor or hitpoints or firepower or something.  Second, and more importantly, it will be the only tank on the minimap sometimes with the two-bar medium tank symbol, which will help distinguish myself from others and perhaps get my teammates to pay attention to me.  Thus, by justification that probably could not have been worse at the time, I found myself playing the T2 Medium.

There were a lot of reasons I stuck around the T2 Medium.  It took me a while to grind out the M2 Medium, and in that time, I became comfortable with the tank, carrying over many of the strategies from the T1 and adapting them to the more powerful and versatile T2.  Once I got the M2 Medium, I didn't find myself impressed by how it played, and you can read my previous blog post about my experience with grinding the rest of that line.  Meanwhile, I was getting enough exposure to new maps and new tanks and having to come up with new ideas of how to play my T2 that it kept my interest.  I could even go back and play the T1 with many of the things I'd learned from playing the T2.

When I had finally lost interest in the beta and moved onto other things and returned later, I remembered how much fun playing the T2 was and made it my immediate goal to get back the tank and play it non-stop.  The rest is history.

 

Mobility

People who talk about the T2 often classify it as slow.  In terms of top speed, there are certainly better options out there like the Cruiser III, BT-2, or either flavor of M2 light tank.  I don't find 40 km/h to be slow enough to think of the T2 as hampered in being able to get around, far less so with how good its engine and terrain resistance values are.  It reaches top speed quickly and can stay there easily up small inclines and through medium terrain.  It even goes through soft terrain pretty well as long as it isn't turned.  In a meta where vision dominance and bush camping is best, raw speed is less important past being able to get to a position to snipe or spot from and make it back to base in time to react to cappers.  More important to me is the ability to duck in and out of cover quickly, which the T2 does marvelously.  The same great horsepower, combined with its high traverse speed, makes it very maneuverable for working multiple pieces of hard cover and shapes of terrain to find the best angle for playing defensively or offensively.

The T2 can be a bit of a bully with its weight, being one of the heavier tanks of the tier.  This is most useful in dealing with teammates, either in pushing them out of your way or not being pushed by them out from cover.  I'm not a huge advocate of doing ramming tactics when there's much more to be done with sniping, but some of the lighter tanks of the tier like the VIC, Pz. I, Te-Ke, and several artillery pieces can be safely bumped into or gotten in the way of for some easy damage with little recoil.

 

Protection

Most light tanks of the tier have insignificant amounts of armor.  Others have such great armor that they can bounce many shots.  The T2's armor sits somewhere on the lower end of the middle of those two categories.  Against standard cannons, the armor is not so good that it will regularly bounce much.  The boxy shape of the tank's hull around the turret doesn't offer great angles for improving that armor either.  I can already hear the calls of people advocating for sidescraping with this tank to bounce more shots, but it's a waste of time, almost even a bad idea, since it exposes the 6mm weakspots from the boxes on the tank's sides.  Against autocannons, it's a bit of a different story.  The armor is good enough that it can bounce a fair amount of shells.  Sidescraping becomes advantageous if enemy guns are far enough away, because they won't likely be accurate enough to hit the weakspot.

In either case, an important part of staying alive with the T2 is remembering that it has a rear-mounted turret.  That means doing things like reverse peeking to hide the rest of its hull on a regular basis.  The back of the tank has just as strong of armor as the front, arguably moreso without the vulnerable upper plate being exposed, so this tactic can be used with confidence that bounces can still happen.

Of course, better than understanding how to best get hit is understanding how to not get hit at all.  Not helping in this regard are the tank's size and horrible camo rating, worse than everything in the tier apart from the Vickers.  Still, these are drawbacks that can be worked around using the tank's excellent 320 meter view range.  Combined with binoculars, vents, and perhaps a couple crew skills, the reach of this tank's vision is incredible.  Proper positioning with this tank combined with its vision will light up enemies from a great enough distance that they can be dispatched by you or your teammates and give you plenty of time to react and cover yourself if something threatening approaches.  At least half of the maps in the low tier pool offer several great locations for this kind of vision play.

 

Firepower

The T2 has four loadable guns, but the M5 is the only one that really matters.  Each of the other three guns is some kind of autocannon or semi-auto garbage, which means a maximum firing distance of 400 meters, which means there will be a lot of targets it will see either by its own view range or its allies' vision that can't be hit, which is a big no-no.  There's no good reason to gimp yourself out of hitting such kinds of targets when you have available to you a perfectly serviceable sniper weapon.

The penetration of the M5 is good.  It punches through light targets, no question, but even has enough penetration on standard AP rounds to push through the tough French armors.  APCR gives enough of an extra boost to punch through all but the most ridiculous of tier 3 armors like on the BT-SV or Pz. II J.  The alpha is about average, if not a bit low, but it makes up for low alpha with a fast rate of fire which can be further supplemented as the only tank in the tier which can equip a rammer.  The aim time keeps up with the rate of fire for the most part and does a good job of keeping up with tank motion and turret traverse too, and speaking of turret traverse, it's fast enough to keep up with anything it sees.  Together with hull traverse, it is in no danger of being circled without being able to fight back.

The only thing which is left to be desired is more gun depression.  Some good sniping perches are on top of small hills, and with only eight degrees depression and a tall tank, it is impossible to defend well against an approach from below it.

 

Gameplay

Every game starts out the same way: determine where you're going to snipe from, get there, and start lighting things up.  Only on Ensk and Shittentard does gameplay shift into a more brawl-centric style, and then it becomes a matter of looking down open streets or lanes to spot or snipe unsuspecting targets.  In the usual case, reaching the sniping position will either mean spotting some targets early or being ready to hit the first targets that light up in the areas most crossed by enemies during early deployment.  The best locations will have both hard and soft cover, but soft cover and a hill or ridge to duck behind could also be acceptable.  As the battle goes on, gauge where your team and the enemy team is to figure out if you need to move into further cover or pre-aim your gun to another direction.  You'll want to keep your distance from the enemy and avoid being spotted as much as possible, but poking out to deal with threats like T18s or other high-armor targets that your other teammates may struggle with is a good idea.  Other times, spotting enemies and holding back from firing may be the correct play, such as when there are enemies in the 200-300m range during the early game and your teammates can eliminate them without your needing to reveal yourself.

A champion of tier 2, this tank has almost all the right tools for any situation.  The M5 and view range combo makes it strong at long range, the armor makes it strong at mid range, and the maneuverability makes it strong at close range.  Proper leverage of its strengths is all one needs to play a commanding role with this tank in any battle.

Kuroialty

shot_043b.thumb.jpg.d325153a954e584bb67fMy recent trip into the higher tiers for Wargaming's Own and to finish personal missions for TD and HT has not been an enjoyable one. Were it not for the opportunity to win something I could not get in any other way, I would not have bothered, because I know that playing the higher tiers and playing to get into higher tiers in this game is just a complete waste of time.

 

When I first started playing this game, I almost immediately found myself in love with the T1 and T2 Medium. My interest in the T1 passed somewhat quickly, but for the T2 Medium, my heart will go on. The problem started to come not much later when I figured that going up that line would allow me to play more tanks that played much like the T2 that I came to enjoy playing. The M2 didn't shake me too hard, but the Lee destroyed any trust I had in there being a good reason to go up the tiers. This was all back in beta some time before the account I'd had was wiped, and that experience is why I've never touched the M2 Medium and will never touch the Lee.

 

After I came back to the game some time after release, I stayed in tier 2, playing almost exclusively the T2 and the Tetrarch after I'd been given it. I did, however, get another idea about how I could approach higher tiers - I would get the Chaffee. It would save me from grinding through tiers 6-9, and then I would have a tank that could play with all of the other highest tiers. Once again, I was betrayed by how horrible the M3 and M4 Stuarts were for the tanks that I was put against. Moreover, the scout playstyle was a considerable shift for me, going from tanks where I would camp bushes and snipe down entire teams to tanks that didn't seem to do much more than move fast and get one-shot. Despite this, I stuck with it and made it to the Chaffee, only to be disappointed that the tank was very nearly as inadequate at facing the opponents it was put against as the Stuarts. I probably should have realized that from the get-go. It would be bizarre for people who only grinded half a line to be on an even playing field as those who grinded up a whole line.

 

The third and final time I decided to grind up a line with the intent of hitting top tier was when the line of American turreted TDs came out. I figured that if there was ever a line to go up for me, it would have to be this one. I never wanted to touch another standard TD, lest I get Lee flashbacks, and TDs characteristically had high penetration, which would avoid the nightmare scenarios from the Stuarts and Chaffee of enemies I could never do anything to. I skipped the T18 and T82 and don't remember much of what I thought of the M8A1 or T49, but when I reached the Hellcat, I started having some genuine fun. Much of how I remembered playing at the low tiers seemed to work for me with the Hellcat. The camping of bushes, spotting of enemies, and sniping of targets all came naturally to me, and the Hellcat had all the tools it needed to do a good job and not constantly let me down. I was feeling really good about myself and excited to finish the line, but the T25/2, T28 Prot, and T30 were all such fucking garbage that I gave up. I stagnated for months with each tank, not wanting to go back to the grind, retreating back to playing the Hellcat to find the good in what I'd been doing, but each time I pushed through and got to the next tank, I became more and more sour for the time I'd sunk going past the Hellcat. I still haven't finished the grind on the T30 and I never will. I only have the last 200k to go to research the E4, but there's enough info out there that I'm aware of to let me know that the E4 is just a bastard tank that nobody wants for anything, that people would rather have the E5 from an entirely different line or the E3 that I would only be able to get after grinding through two other non-turreted TDs in tiers 8 and 9.

 

Ultimately, the value proposition of going into the high tiers is a terrible one. In the low tiers, I have access to tanks whose DPMs can be over five times the available health of the average tank, whose rates of fire are so high that they can be firing or thinking about firing constantly, whose mobilities are so great that they can get around maps quickly and easily and have fast-paced close-range engagements, and whose grinds are short and costs to operate and outfit are cheap in both time and money. As you climb the tiers though, health and armor skyrocket compared to DPM, turning battles into slow-paced, corner-humping slugfests. Guns take so long to reload and people duck into cover so much that it feels like I could safely keep my hands off the keyboard and mouse for half the match. Every tank seems like a choice between only two of having a good enough gun to threaten somebody, having good enough armor to bounce something, and having good enough speed to be able to move away from your base and not get fucked over by a base capper that your team refuses to or can't respond to. And to my bewilderment, there are people who play these tanks and enjoy them, who revel in the sloth and restricted nature of their combat, who pay money to gimp their performance this much. I looked at the value proposition of going from cheap and capable tanks that could take on entire teams to expensive and handicapped tanks that depend on shitlord tomatoes to pick up for all of the tools that I'd be missing and made the only rational decision I could.

 

Playing high-tiers is like playing peekaboo, a game that was meant for one and two-year olds. And people call me a pedotanker.

 

 

 

My work to finish gearing up my H39 is finished. I completed TD-15 with my T-30, playing my first game with it in six months, and completed HT-15 with my KV-5, the first time I'd played it ever. Before trying to finish it with the KV-5, I spent about sixty battles trying to do it with the FCM 50t. The frustration of rarely breaking 2k damage with that tank and 4k between damage dealt, taken, and blocked is primarily what motivated me to write this blog post. Maybe I'm just really salty about higher tiers because all of the tanks I think I would enjoy are square pegs trying to fit into the circle hole that is the corridor + armor + alpha meta that higher tiers continue migrating towards. The KV-5 fits right in with that meta, and I really did enjoy that game I played with it, but I still don't see the value of armor-based gameplay over the vision-based gameplay that still exists in the low tiers.

 

Well, from one pile of shit tanks to another. Time to start playing the Pz. I.

Kuroialty

shot_033b.thumb.jpg.d733d36725ae6aff4d72I've done the writeup and posted my plans for the Autocannon Challenge, but before that begins, I have something else on my mind to get done: gearing up my new Hotchkiss.

 

My eye has been on this tank from my earliest times in the game. It was a kind of unstoppable powerhouse, always seeming capable of taking on entire teams alone. I think it was still purchasable for gold when I first started playing, but as someone who's never spent money on the game, I didn't really have another opportunity to get it. Other contests or promo code events would pass by without my being able to get my hands on one, but Wargaming's Own changed that for me in this last month of May. I still am shocked that the battle where I won it gave me enough XP to get into the top 10, as I was sure it would top out in the 1600s at best. It was also lucky that I didn't do much better that game, because just three more XP would have put me into the higher reward category and shut me out of the prize I really wanted.

 

In terms of how I'm going to set the tank up, that's where personal missions come into play. With the changes to remove platoon requirements, I've finished all of the TD missions except for TD15, so I can get one girl crew member from that. I'll probably get the other one by finishing the heavy missions with either my ARL 44 or KV-2. After that, I'll be fitting it with a loadout much like I use with the H35 and it will be good to go. The last thing to decide is when I should play it. I don't really want to limit myself like I have with the Cruisers I and III by being really choosy about when I play it so that I can pad my win rate, but at the same time, I really want to see how absurd this tank could perform in an environment saturated with the next garbage gift tank.

 

I'll probably take it out for a spin a few times to get a feel for it, but then start working on the autocannon tanks shortly after.