I'll start off by saying that this is a difficult tank to play well. The bloom and time between shells really kills any quick opportunity to deal a lot of damage that every other autoloader gets except for the Foch 155. What it does get in return is more mobility and a higher potential clip damage than the rest of the autoloader bunch (except for the Foch, once again) and that's what you have to play for, every single time.
The crew is small and the tank is fragile meaning you'll need a good crew to stay alive. I personally recommend camo over repairs if you're playing SH/CW as a batchat player but the other way around for randoms. Spotting means squat in randoms anymore so my suggested order of training goes something like this:
Repairs + sixth (survivability in general because getting tracked means that you're dead)
Camo and respec to BiA once it's full (one could use gun skills or situational awareness but I don't see how they're more important at the moment this early)
Camo once again (you could do the last repair skill for the commander if you want to)
Situational Awareness/Snap Shot/Smooth Ride (even if the skills have surfaced as somewhat useless the gun is shitty enough for them to worth it, especially if you use it SH/CW where you'll have to run AFE instead of food)
After that you can go with whatever you wish, I went with firefighting because I run food in randoms.
You have a few options here. 30/0/0, 25/5 or 20/10. I personally run 20/10 as of now but I've been running 30/0/0 for ages and it's perfectly fine too. The point of this is simply the low ammo capacity and split clips. Running 15/15 (50/50 like I run in most of my meds that don't have 50+ shells) is simply too split when your ammo actually runs low. You'll have a clip of 4 shells and one with 1 when you needed them all. Your DPM goes trash tier from already shit tier.
The playstyle changes as well with the HEAT rounds. Lack of them means that you'll have to spend more time using the map to get shots you can actually pen instead of just engaging a E 100 frontally when he's on reload for 2K damage. 20/10 is the most flexible one in my opinion. I usually only fire 4 out of 5 shells before my shootable targets get safe and that adds up to an extra 4 shell clip simply by using experience on my end. 10 HEAT rounds means that you can shave off 4K HP off of the bulkier heavies frontally when there's situations you wouldn't otherwise be able to shoot them. (BC on Mali hill shooting early on an E 100 or any japanese heavy moving for example) so you don't have to constantly keep target selection at the back of your head wasting time thinking on what to do.
I know some of the better players run 25/5 because they fire that HEAT clip early and always fire them, then just switch to APCR for the rest of the game since they already sunk in 2K HP early in a heavier engagement before just rotating elsewhere.
Vertical Stabilizer is an obvious choice, I don't think it's necessary to go deeper into why.
The remaining contenders are vents, optics and GLD. I've seen every combo possible out of these three and none of them are actually wrong and it mostly comes down to how you play your batchat and if you do competitive play or not.
Optics are arguably useless in randoms (although I've personally been getting bang for my buck running them lately) but at least they'll keep you up top on the spotting game. I reach 488 meters of viewrange in my BC running optics, food, BiA and situational awareness which is more than enough to always stay on the edge of spotting. Camo piercing might not seem like much, but if you ever get camosniped that extra viewrange will help you out more than you'd think. It'll also let you actually spot tanks at max viewrange. Every tank has camo values which means that spotting an O-I or a Maus at 445m (max view range) won't happen at exactly 445m away because of camo. Now this is probably just a few meters but when it comes to other tanks like TDs, the extra view range helps you spot them through piercing them at large distances. The most notable map I noticed for this is Fishermans Bay. With a VR specced BC I can spot the the northeastern corner from the middle when they fire and net myself and my team early damage. Now this might sound very situational and anecdotal but it's just an example of when optics actively contribute to winning games.
Vents are vents, small boost to everything and hardly noticeable (food is twice the boost). Good for people who play the BC for 100% gun or want to boost their VR even more (hardly necessary breaking 500, ever)
GLD is what I run combined with optics. You'll actually make use of this because of the terrible aimtime and sitting still while dumping your clip quite often so the GLD will actually kick in more often than you'd think.
This gun is both good and bad. The clip potential is high and has the potential to kill some mediums in a single clip and shave 2/3 of any T10s HP pool, but that incredible strength is balanced by atrocious gun handling and long exposure to get those shells out. (It's about 10 seconds given aiming the first shell). The reload is long and renders you weak but at least it gives you decent downtime to look around and find new opportunities for the best way to approach an engagement. You'll be rotating a lot around the map simply because of the gun and running away like a little bitch whenever a flank might fail whenever you're on it.
The ammo capacity is low which means you'll have to think hard about how you load it. I recently switched from 30/0 to 20/10 because of increased SH/CW play where I'll need it but I personally didn't find the HEAT to be worthwhile in randoms. I always find myself running out of APCR before switching to HEAT now anyway in any given random battle anyway. The HEAT does give you the opportunity to engage heavies frontally whenever you'd need it (Malinovka hill is probably the only time I ever load HEAT because E5s are a thing) but it comes at the cost of split clips. Having 3 HEAT shells and 1 APCR makes for terrible late game cleanup possibilites (if you've fired that many shells you're probably having a decent game anyway, but it sucks to lose games because of this). I personally found APCR alone to be more than good enough for randoms since you'll spend more time deciding on what to attack than actually attacking so I end up with roughly the same damage anyway.
For competitive play it's a completely different story. The gun becomes a lot more dangerous here and it's a high risk tank. Missing a shell can kill you if you're playing a spotting game against another BC which is pretty goddamn easy to do considering the aimtime/bloom. But it can also shave off 2K HP of the enemy team in less than 10 seconds making it possible to enable pushes and allows it to solo scout/freeplay better than any other T10 in the game.
In actual thickness it's non-existent. The UFP angle can bounce a shell once in a while but never something to rely on. What it does have as pseudo-armour is speed and decent camo. Engaging at range (sending mixed messages here with the terrible gun, but once you let it aim in fully it can hit pretty well at longer ranges as well) allows your camo to work if you'd be down on HP, in the clan CHAI or simply think it's the best course of action. The speed helps you dodge shells and move in close quickly or simply get out quickly if things went south. Mobility=Armour in this case.
The strength of the tank lies in the gun and mobility, one of them also being its weakness. It can put in quite a bit of damage in a short amount of time which makes it possible to turn games around. Autoloaders always have the lovely advantage of mitigating damage taken when clipping since people can't really deal enough damage back at you unless they're grouped up. Finding lone tanks in the endgame is easy prey for a BC and incredibly easy to outplay. If it's anything short of another autoloader you can pretty much just yolo in, clip fully and either kill them from scratch or simply just run away afterwards. I find it very rare that anything that can actually chase your BC down after clipping is usually too low on HP for it to really be worthwhile if you clip fully. Combine it with your 5 shots in 8 seconds for their 1-2 (maybe 3 if they chase you a bit). In the case of an E 50M or a 907 that can survive your clip and probably will you'll still be able to get out anyway or just simply hang back until support arrives.
You should also try to engage backwards as much as possible. You expose less and driving forward will be quicker to get away from corridor pokes than backwards (small thing but still useful). Driving backwards will also benefit more from terrain as you can use rubble and stuff to drive onto to get better depression angles.
The newest strength that completely breaks some maps: Climbing!
Climbing sure as hell is useful. Mines gets completely destroyed by a single guy on the 0 line from either side and it also adds another layer of depth in the game. While it's mostly micromanaging it takes some time to figure the climbs out and climbing doesn't really get useful until you can do them consistently.
The weakness is pretty much the the long aim time that forces you to rush a shot or two because it simply won't aim in fast enough for the opportunities of damage to yield any fruit. Once again we have the long downtime between reloads and no armour whatsoever which means that you die if people catch you on reload. How you prevent this is by simply playing well guarded areas and making sure that you can actually run away and that anything chasing you will die trying, or simply playing passive for most of the game while seizing any overextensions done by enemy tanks for 2k damage.
You could also argue that the fragility of the tank combined with the speed is the cause for a lot of overextensions and while that is true it's not really a weakness itself, it's also easily preventable.
I simply play this is a very opportunity seizing TD/LT. Whenever maps allow for it I'll try and be somewhat active for spotting (middle on Sand River for example) but I hardly see anyone having trouble on open maps with a BC. Problem's most likely city maps anyway. I simply pay a lot of attention to the minimap and try to figure out where I can deal the most damage while taking as little as possible. It shouldn't be too hard considering the reload times while clipping anyway. You have about 40 seconds before you even get to shoot again and that's plenty of time in a mobile tank like this to rotate if your current engagement won't pay off anymore. I'm very patient and once someone goes in the open I make sure that I'm there wrecking him.
In a bit more concrete example I'll take Himmelsdorf as an example. I rarely ever play the hill anymore because it's such a hit or miss engagement. I play the 3 line. I almost always just sit around waiting for people to expose themselves on the lower side around the castle. With the engagement range at 400m only T10 meds will be able to spot me back and actually put damage into me. I also have a 40 second downtime anyway that I can just waste waiting on people to show themselves. From the north this is a bit more viable since you can further up the 3 line without exposing and get sideshots on heavies crossing in the 8 line as well. From the south it's not as good but still a lot more consistent than playing the hill. You can simply poke early to get spots on people crossing so you get a general idea of how many people are playing the railroad and what to expect on the hill. You're also free to move into the middle windows for shots at the enemy windows. You can simply move up, rotate, and go wherever you want. It's my initial play for that reason. It's a low risk opening play with a decent reward. TL;DR is probably keeping engagements at range early on so you can use your HP diving in later on. Applying this on other maps haved worked very well too. It's all about knowing what a favourable engagement is anyway.
I'd give the BC a solid 9/10. It's stupid good for a tank that really hasn't been taken into consideration of the tier 10 powercreep and it still remains one of the strongest T10s in the hands of gods while being absolutely terrible for worse ones.
I present to you, the first of hopefully many new collaborative articles produced by the Purple Poster team here at WoTLabs. Today's article is about how one goes about improving and developing their skill in the game and ultimately increasing the levels of enjoyment.
I'll start off, and make some of the paragraphs shorter than the response I made to the "skill stagnating" topic. I'd also like to state that it isn't something that happens overnight. This shit takes time, I'm talking thousands of games here.
When I first started playing WoT, it was with 2 RL friends, we didn't know anything about mechanics, we just grinded Pz1c's and yolo'd arty. This was fun for about 500 games, at which point I started on the american heavy and TD line. I can't remember much more details, other than the fact that I was bad (really, really bad!).
I kept playing, and joined a clan with some green players. In the beginning I stuck mostly with triple platoons with friends, and focused on enjoying the game. I wasn't worrying about efficiency/wn6/winrate/younameit. I guess I kept up this approach until reaching "green/blue" stats, at which point I wanted to improve more. I did this using a combination of the below points:
Watch streams. This is how I got better. You start off with streamers that explain what they're doing(learn sidescraping/weakspots/map layout - can also be done reading forums), eventually move onto streamers that simply play the game. Really high-end streamers will do shit that average players don't even notice.
Analyze your own gameplay. After a few thousand battles, everyone knows the basics such as leading shots, aiming weakspots, knowing where to start off on each map etc. The next step is figuring out when to play aggressive and when to play passive, learning map development, when to fall back, when to camp, when to push etc.
Minimap/general awareness. Keep an eye on your minimap every few seconds. Try to spot openings and attempt to predict enemy movement. After a while you will start to correctly predict enemy movement, being able to deal with issues before they even arise. I.e. if you anticipate an enemy can pop up from your right whilst you're engage with a tank already move your tank to a position that has cover from crossfire. Just little things really.
Tank selection has a strong influence on your stats, but at your current level I wouldn't worry too much about it. Play tanks you enjoy playing, and try to maximize your effectiveness in each class. Play the different classes, and figure out what you like. Most unicums prefer mediums due to the meta, and the fact that they have the highest impact on the game due to speed. You can easily flex all over the map, whether this involves flanking into enemy base, running back to reset cap, or pumping out damage from a double bush position to take out enemy heavytanks/td's.
Finally, if you really want to tryhard, watch all your replays and analyze if/when you made a mistake. After 23k odd games I usually know what I did wrong the second I did it, but that may not always be the case. Always think "How could I have avoided that" or "What did I do wrong there" or "Could I have done something different". Sometimes it's as obvious as not rounding the corner into the waiting JPE100, but other times it may be harder to decide.
A final point that I didn't add in my previous post, is that until very recently I always platooned. I tried to platoon exclusively with better players (and learnt a lot from those games). This can be kept up indefinitely, but once you reach a certain point, you realise that you need to play solo to give you the highest chance of consistently doing 3.5/4k dpg. In a platoon your platoonmates (especially if just as skilled as you) will effectively cripple your games.
I spent my time just casually goofing around in tanks for about 12k games, being shit at the game and not having a care in the world. My only friend that played tanks were exclusively playing low tier prems (tier 2 and 3 with the occasional Churchill III) so we played that a lot. I got kind of good at maneuvering and I knew where tanks would go. so I was stomping tier 2 for my first year at the game, slowly doing doubles on other stuff and grinding up shit. Then I went on the official forums one day after I learned about XVM and WN8, and poked around for a bit. I saw that the T49 (now T67) and the Hellcat were godly for it and for improving your vision gameplay. So I pretty much spammed 1k games straight in the Hellcat, during which I learned that the higher tiers were much more of a challenge and honestly a lot more fun. I was still pretty bad at the actual game and I started to get frustrated when things didn't go the way I wanted. I met an EXNOM platoon that I whined at because they were always in the enemy team. They told me about the tank channel "stronk plutons" where I started hanging out and play with people. I remember the first guy I played with. Draz_H, a S3AL player that's now retired completely. The first game we played was a tier 8 pref game where he did 6,5k damage in the Type 59. I was a green and he was purple, so he made quite the impression for that first game. Seeing as I'd never played with someone that good before. I started reading up information about the game in general, mostly on the official forums but I started to find some useful stuff on WoTLabs as well.
I started putting what I had read about into practice and noticed a slow improvement, and I decided to go at it at tier 10. I got my BatChat and started yoloing around like a complete idiot for a clip a game. It was 2k damage roughly so I didn't feel like I was performing poorly but I noticed that I lost a lot. My survival rate was incredibly low as well and this is a remnant that's still around today. I kept getting better and got a blue recent after eliminating stupid mistake after stupid mistake, one by one.
Then I started watching EJ. This was probably the biggest change as I saw him play areas I've never really considered before. I was blind to matchmaking and kept going at it at areas I just knew how to play, regardless of what I played or what I might have faced. I noticed that he went about as aggressive as I did, but he stayed alive for much much longer. He didn't do one for one trades and instead focused on eliminating exposure and sink damage in where it was for free. I started putting this into practice and I got myself a 140. It was a bit rough at first but I quickly ended up getting better and better games. My winrate was positive even at tier 10 and I got some decent games pretty close in between eachother. I guess the biggest reason here was that I could finally see how the really good players did what they did and I tried to replicate it to the best of my ability. It mostly resulted in either being too passive or overextending but I got closer and closer, and am still approaching it.
After this I became active here on WoTLabs. I started playing CW with ZER0 for the second campaign and I finally got myself a purple recent. I was so satisfied. Thinking I was good at the game. However quickly realising that I still did mistakes that made me lose out on having even better games. So I kept trying. I joined KITTY and got around to playing with some of the better players and eventually I became dark purple recent. This is probably where I grew the most as a player in analysis and getting more consistent. I learned the way of E 50 and M46 there and I really had fun learning, doing it and actually three marked them eventually. This was still on a shitty macbook that crashed every third game. Summer last year (pretty much a year ago) I joined LAVA. I knew WaterWar from KITTY and he asked me if I wanted to join post leaving KITTY, and I took the offer up. Now, I finally got around to buying myself a PC and it just had a massive performance boost for me. I bought the T32 and 3marked it in 75 games. Thinking that crash eliminations and better FPS would help my game even more. I started getting really good at tier 8. Almost as good at it as I am now, but tier 9 and 10 was still a problem. Mistakes kept getting the better of me and I didn't know what to do to help it. With the death of LAVA I joined S3AL and stayed there pretty much until a week ago. I got better at T10 here, learning the ropes by players about as good as me, yet better at T10 but worse at lower tiers. I noticed I had some 3,5k DPG sessions and strived to keep them coming, ending up roughly around 3k and feeling just fine with that.
SHs became a thing and I noticed I could start using a bit more gold and prem consumables while still being able to keep up my credits. Now this probably sounds bad but goldspam actually helped me limit my exposure by nature and in turn taking waaaaaaaaay less damage. I got better at micromanaging and fighting face to face and that's pretty much how I ended up where I am right now. Forever improving but for different reasons. I joined FAME a few days ago which was the last goal I had for tanks. Now I felt like I could shut off and finally just enjoy the game for what it is. Bullshit. Game isn't worth anything to me without playing to play my best and that's where I'm currently in limbo. With the increase of skill came more and more frustration about the game, whether it be arty, the playerbase, meta, balance issues or map changes. I'm honestly not sure if it was worthwhile all the time I've invested into the game. I'm really glad that I was able to join the best clan in europe for game that I really do care about, but now I think it's more about the community here, the people I got to know and less about stomping pubs and feeling superior.
You need to forget about stats. Right now, just drop it. See your long term stats as a wall, each brick is a game. How many of you take care of each and every brick,
aiming to achieve complete perfection with each one you lay?
The percentage we're looking for here lies smack bang in the middle of 99.8 and 100. Being good isn't your padded DPG on a specific tank, nor is it you 75% win rate over 11k games.
Being good is taking care of every game that you enter,
striving for success in it, taking/creating opportunities to get ahead and thus having a great influence on the game in your teams favour.
@Gashtag has said it better than I ever will be able to, but being good isn't the numbers, being good is a mindset and a set of skills. Those pretty numbers come as a result of that skill.
1. Mentality: As with anything requiring any sort of skill, adopting the right mentality toward WoT was essential to improve for me. For a while my question I asked myself was "how can I do the most damage in this game". With this in mind, I sacrificed my winrate and platoon-mates for my damage quotas. What I came to realize was I asking the wrong question. What I should have been asking is this: "How can I influence this game enough to swing it in my favor and make it a victory"
2. Awareness: This is something I still struggle with, but being able to use my minimap and be aware of my surroundings was the first step. Once I was in the habit of looking at my minimap, I realized I wasn't doing anything with that information. It is not enough to just be aware of the battle and your map, but you must act on this awareness to make the biggest possible impact on the game.
3. Analysis: Whether it is you looking over your replays, or someone else providing feedback, there is no way to improve if you don't identify where you are weak. This falls into these general areas:
1. Mechanical skills (aiming, leading, penetrating, movement) - 48%+
2. Tactical skills (angling, camo, vision, positioning) - 53%+
3. Strategic skills (map control, awareness, analysis) - 58%+
4. Tank selection/loadout (proper equipment, gold rounds, consumables/prem consumables) - 48%+
5. Platoon or solo; platoon composition (complimentary tanks) and quality of platoonmates - depends
6. Mental state of player (tired/drunk/awake/distracted) - depends
4. Watching Others: There will always be a bigger fish, there is always someone better than you are. The cool thing is that you can learn from them and improve yourself. This ties in with the last point. You now know what you are doing wrong, but you don't know what to do right either. By watching streamers (Like Zeven, Anfield, Straik, Vetro, and Weenis to name a few) you can see and get inside the heads of these players and apply what you see to your gameplay. Platoon with someone who is willing to call you out when you screw up, listen to that advice and learn from it.
A big thanks to the authors @weenis, @Kolni, @Joyrider216.and @Gashtag