My 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.