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    Flaksmith reacted to Garbad for an article, How to Win when you Play like Crap   
    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.
    Click for large 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).
    Click for large 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.
    Click for large 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.
    Click for large 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.
    Click for large ...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.
    Click for large 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.
    Discuss this on WoTLabs
  2. Upvote
    Flaksmith reacted to Garbad for an article, Getting Better at Internet Tanks – The Cuddly, Complex, and Enduring Way   
    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.
    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.
    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...
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