Original article by @Garbad
Kewei, NA's favorite damage whore, recently wrote a guide about how to improve.
In a nutshell, solopub in tier 10 and sink until you start swimming. This has generated a lot of discussion, both in favor and against. Accordingly, I am writing this guide to help those people who have already tried the sink or swim method, who have already read the wikis, watched the replays, and so on. In short, my goal is to give greens a roadmap to being bluer, or maybe even purple.
GREEN IS THE COLOR OF ENVY
For example, I take it as a given that the average green can:
- Fire accurately, including hitting moving targets consistently
- Knows and can use weak points
- Knows and can use angling and hull down tactics
- Understand the vision system and how to use it
- Know the maps, including how pubbies move and a few good places
- Have proper gear, including good platoon composition / gold ammo / etc
- Have a good generalized knowledge of the value of flanks, crossfire, and so on
In short, they know how to fight on a dang high level. In fact, in terms of actual combat skill, greens are usually almost as good as unica. This is why many greens can watch unica play and think to themselves “I can do that.” Because they can! The key is that unica do it more consistently and deliberately.
PURPLE, THE COLOR OF ROYALTY
So given that the difference is not combat skill (ie, the minutiae of aiming and angling) or gear, but instead the activity, consistency, and deliberateness of unica, let's look at a few specific things a green can do to bump up their level of play.
1. Fire a very high volume of shots. Perhaps the most measurable area where unica dominate greens is shots per game. For example, take a look at my KV-5 on vbaddict.net.
Notice that my accuracy and penetration rate are no better than a typical green. I also take about the same damage in return as a typical green. Yet my shots per game are vastly higher than a green – I fire 16 shots per game where a typical green fires only 10. That, and that alone, explains why I put out 2.4k DPG when a typical player puts out only 1500. My replays will confirm this – I am reloading almost all the time, constantly staying active and in the fight, trying to make a difference.
2. Constantly be moving to find a good situation. Part of getting lots of shots means ALWAYS being in the fight. No sitting back defending base – at a minimum, your gun needs to be in range to fire at all times. The practical reality of this means unica usually open up with a move to the middle of the map, then flex to the area where the action is most decisive. On a more general level, it means just not being passive – constantly think about what you need to do, where you need to be to keep your gun hot and having an impact.
3. Don't rely on the enemy making mistakes/coming to you. Find reasons to force them into a fight on your terms. Greens often pick a good spot, and then sit there. Unica always advance until they meet the enemy, and then fight them on favorable terms. If they don't immediately find the enemy, they keep moving until they do. This means having the ability not just to memorize a few good spots, but instead to be able and look at a field and where the enemy is and find/create a good spot where you need it. This also means you are free to be the aggressor, where greens often find themselves unable to attack until the enemy derps into them (which to be fair happens a lot, but not always).
There is some irony in me writing this, as I am perhaps the most inconsistent and derpy unica in the game. In fact, due to space constraints I think I'll skip this one for now. Ideally sela or someone will write about this. For me, just realize that if you are a top tank in a T-54 on campinova, you shouldn't gamble on a field scout run. Save your HP, play conservatively, and let your tank carry later. On the other hand, in a tier 10 game scouting the field is probably the best play you can make. The key is risk against reward, and what your team needs to win. This is the consistency you seek – not in always doing the same damage or whatnot, but instead in consistently finding ways to make a major contribution to winning, giving your tank / matchup / map and other constraints.
By deliberateness I mean tactical skill, ie, deliberately considering what it will take to win, then putting a plan in effect to reach that goal. People often talk about map awareness and so on, or the importance of flank attacks. A better way to think about it is to realize what is happening in a game, what is driving victory, and how to counter it given the tools you have.
I'll give an example. Last night I was playing on this map:
I was in an E-100 and platooned with two mediums. We were the only t10s, and our team was full of soft, crappy tanks driven by retards. Against us was a platoon of greens in T-57s, and various E-75s and such -- a major heavy advantage in town, we had a major medium advantage.
I waddled right up to E7, put myself into sidescrape position, and started fighting. Sure enough, soon the platoon of T57s saw me and engaged with a E-75 and some other tank. I deliberately put myself into position where they could blast on me, getting constantly tracked and sometimes taking a little damage. I peekaboomed back, and did a little damage. After several minutes of this, I had taken maybe 1k damage and dealt maybe 2k damage...
...yet that was the game winning play. Because I locked ~5 of their top tanks into position beating on me to no effect, my medium blobs were able to blast through the fodder and sweep in. This was the difference -- I didn't necessarily do a better job peekabooming or sidescraping than they did (considering the tank advantage I had), but I realized in the larger context simply preventing those T-57s from murdering my lesser tanks would inevitably result in a win. All I had to do was keep them interested, so I let them chew on me, even knowing it would cost me some HP now and then.
And that's the difference. I was thinking about how my actions would drive home a win, they were just trying to find a random spot and play well. My platoonmates won the glory (high DPG stats), but my contribution was just as key – I was the anvil who fixed the hostiles for the flanking hammer. I was the rock that allowed them to flow around and find weak points. And that was deliberate.
Here's another example, which I link to largely because of my man crush on Scipio.
Lastly, mentoring. Many people want to be mentored, because they hope its a more gentle way to improve without as many false starts. I personally do not think mentoring works; however, if you are willing to plop down a little money several high end unica offer mentoring. I've done it myself, and although the pubbies said they learned something from it I honestly don't know. But the option is out there. If you are poor, another good alternative is watching my or Kewei's solopub challenges – a few hundred replays and you can get a good sense of how we react in a wide variety of circumstances.
Kewei says to sink or swim. Hopefully this gives you something a bit more concrete, a bit more digestible. People ask every day what it takes to be a great internet tanker. Truthfully, no one can really answer that. Its a process, founded in large part on your own efforts and talent. Furthermore, there is no one set path – I am proof of that. My playstyle and methods are quite different than the typical unica. But I think this will show some things that all unica have in common and that can be worked towards by anyone.
This may not make you a unicum, but I believe it will help you improve. Now, as for me, I must go and attend to my legions of internet tank fangirls. Until next time...