Original article by @Garbad
Several months ago I posted an E-100 replay where I did very little damage, yet I claimed I carried the team. Some scoffed, so I explained how I won the game by letting my E-100 get shot up for a long time against a hostile T-57 platoon, which allowed my teammates to flank in and win.
That got a lot of interest, and people asked for other examples of when I had a large, positive contribution to winning a match that doesn't show up in the stats. Winning by outthinking the opponent, not by outfighting them. I tried to find a few replays where I contributed almost nothing in dpg/kpg/spotting yet still played a crucial role. Most of the time my impact is a combination of high damage combined with good tactics, but I wanted to find games that stripped away the damage to show only the tactics – how positioning, game flow, and so on can turn battles regardless of my individual performance.
This is easier said than done, as these games are the exceptions. And as a disclaimer, some might try to use this article to claim that damage doesn't matter. That is not my intent – damage clearly matters. The best and primary measure of a player's contribution is in their overall damage stats. If you aren't putting out at least your HP in damage in large samples, you aren't a good player no matter how good your tactics seem (in your mind). That said, all damage is not equal, and the hidden impact of tactics is far too often ignored.
Unlike virtually every unicum in WOT, I play aggressively. Most unica play a game of attrition – they try to sit back and let the pubbies flail against each other as they snipe into the blob, wearing down the hostiles while conserving their own strength. When the field is weakened, they move in and mop up with a fresh tank and superior skills. I tend not to do this. Instead, I frequently scout first, engage first, and fight on the front until I die. But although I am often described as reckless, I don't fight blindly – I always 1) have a goal in mind – I don't just pick a random strategy, I pick a strategy that will help me leverage my strengths into a win – and 2) try to fight on my terms – I pick a place and means to fight that gives me an advantage, or at least equal ground. I always keep an eye out for the decisive moment – a key flank, a flex, a crushing attack that can turn the tide of a battle. My goal is usually straightforward – to destroy the hostile tanks by fighting in a place/manner that I can win....but sometimes its more subtle. Let's take a look.
WINTER IS COMING: [replay]
As I load in, I note the enemy team has a platoon of blunicum rerolls in top tanks. Particularly with only four t10s in a game (and mine being of inferior skill), this is a very serious threat. But like all blunicums, I expect they will avoid a brawl in town, preferring to sit back and snipe. This is not an unreasonable choice, seeing as our team has mass E-100 and E-75s while they are Tds and meds. Accordingly, I move north to engage them.
Sadly, I am very much alone. My team dogpiles into town, leaving me and two T34s north. As the battle is joined, its clear much of their firepower is north, including the blunicums. This should give our town team a major advantage...if we can just win the north...and by win the north, I mean just not lose the north. I know we need not defeat the enemy – simply not dying quickly will ensure their tier 10s are out of the battle as their team gets rolled. I begin to fight, killing the foch and doing a glorious 800 damage (my only stats of the game).
And then I pretty much just sit there. I occasionally fling a wild shot in their general direction and peek so they know I am there, but I accomplish nothing statistically. They continually peek at me, waiting for me to fight...and the clock keeps ticking as my pubs overwhelm their pubs.
Three minutes tick by, as their northern team does nothing. By the time they finally acted the battle was lost. The blunica make a heroic last stand, managing to get their DPG at acceptable levels for the fight, but note that when the battle was up for grabs they each did less than 800 damage and sat idle, isolated, and irrelevant.
This was not chance, or at least, not purely chance. Despite the fact that 3x tier 10s and assorted pubtrash could easily, easily overwhelm me and the T34s, they don't attack. This is partly because of the tease – I kept ALMOST poking around to let them blap me, making them continually stop and aim, hoping for the free shots and partly because of actual threat – an IS8 and two T34s could have bled them fairly badly before we died. But regardless of their thinking, it worked out poorly for them – their town team desperately needed help and they failed to provide it or take advantage of their local strength. Our team was severely damaged even as it was – had they rolled the north two minutes faster they would have likely been able to encircle our town team and crush them, or maybe even capfast. But my IS-8 cockblocked that, and thus, had a big impact on the win despite crap statistical play.
BATTLE OF THE LAKE: [replay]
This is a classic matchmaker blunder – they get two more tier 10s, we get tier 9s to their tier 8s. We have more heavies and better peekaboomers, but they have better snipers, as well as some very hard tanks.
I yoloderp to the middle quickly, trying to seize the building before they can set up. I do this because if their meds get their first, my heavies will stop and start peekabooming them from the lanes...which means they are more exposed to the waffle/clicker while trying to fire at well angled IS-7/Maus/etc. By taking the church, we can first sweep out the tanks right there in a peekaboom that favors us, and then swarm the hard tanks from all sides.
...or such is the plan. In reality, I get shredded by snipers and my pubs still hold back. I sit forward as bait, drawing out their fatties, luring them into a crossfire...but it doesn't go well for me, at all. I get hit repeatedly from all sides, and still my pubs sit back.
My friendly E-100 first shoots me in the ass, then waddles up beside me. I note they are swarming to the south, however, and will soon be able to curl around if I can just stay alive. So I...do nothing. I just sit there for a few minutes, proxy lighting the meds. The E-100 sits absorbing a few shots and firing back on them to little effect. But because I am tucked in and hard to kill yet still have a gun facing forward, no one wants to peek out and aim at the E-100s weak points. Instead they just sit around uselessly, and after a few minutes help arrives from the south.
Once the outer ring is controlled, I rush forward, killing the last few tanks before they can fall back. Although I die, even pubs will follow a surge, and this ensured we had enough numbers to win.
So in this battle, I did a few things that mattered – first, I took key ground. The simple act of controlling those 10m of space up to the church gave us much better fighting position. It also kept eyes on the tanks, preventing unseen peekabooming. Next, I protected the E-100 from his own stupidity. Had I peeked with him, I would have surely been killed...which would have left him alone...with a very long reload and easy to hit weak points. They likely would have slaughtered him, and who knows how the battle might have turned then. But because they did not, we held, the pubs pushed south, and we routed them.
This is a difficult subject to write on, but I hope this has some value. Questions or comments are welcome, and if people are interested in more I'll try and find some better replays to demonstrate why I do certain things and if they work.