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Intumesce

Intumesce Reviews The Challenger 2

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Seeing the state of AFVs (or rather, anything but MBTs) at tier 9, I decided to unlock both the T-90MS and the Challenger 2 with my 2 AFV tokens to see how they were like. The T-90MS speaks for itself in a separate thread so I figured I'd make a review for the Challenger 2 instead, since it's less common than the T-90MS and Leopard 2A6. Since I've only played AFVs up to this point (but now have ~300 battles in the 90MS/Chally 2) my opinions on what makes a tank good might be different from your own expectations.

Firepower

Let's just say the gun isn't the Challenger's strongest suite. It has by far the best accuracy and aim time, something I'll cover more further down, but subpar damage and the worst penetration. Luckily for the Challenger 2, in some ways penetration becomes irrelevant at this tier. On one hand you'll penetrate weak spots much like anyone else, but more tough weak spots or just brute forcing through lower tiers is harder compared to your peers.
You have the same damage as the M1A2 Abrams, about 15 alpha less than the Leopard 2A6, and 160 alpha less than the T-90MS. You have the worst penetration of the bunch though, with the second worst (M1A2) having almost 90mm more than you.
Your reload time is the same as the Abrams and Leopard, but slower than the T-90MS. However, all 3 of you have a loader, which the T-90MS does not due to its automatic loader system. In practice this means you can stack crew skills, level your loader, and put on loader skills to get to almost the same rate of fire as the T-90MS or even faster with the right loadout. But since all 3 of you share this ability it's not much of a perk to the Challenger 2 itself.
Like the Leopard 2A6, you have 9 degrees of gun depression. Better than the T-90MS and the M1A2 (since it's bugged currently) but considering how the Challenger 2 is more of a front line tank and usually doesn't even need to go hull down, it's not a really nice thing. Good to have, sure, but it won't make a huge difference at this tier with this kind of vehicle.

You don't get a HEAT round but I've never found this to be a problem in PvP. HEAT is nearly useless at this tier as vehicles get more and more shaped charge modifiers, more cage armor, and more ERA. For example, if you even had HEAT to begin with, you could only penetrate the T-90MS in the rear with any kind of consistency due to its modifiers all over the hull, ERA and cage along the side of its hull and turret, and its weak spots are presumably too thick to penetrate.
You don't get a standard HE round either, instead you get HESH. HESH is pretty mediocre because it does less damage but deals more module damage. The only time you'll really make use of this bonus module damage is against PvE vehicles you can penetrate, some of which you can even one shot because your HESH detonates their ammo rack. In PvP, it's really restricted to just damaging guns or dealing some damage as HE usually does. You don't get to upgrade this HESH round though and you don't get a gun upgrade either, meaning you only have a "stock" HESH round and that's that.

Though, what really what stops the Challenger 2 from being able to use its otherwise second best overall gun is its mobility. Often times you simply won't be fast enough to get more damage during the cleanup phase and you need more time to move around in general compared to every other tier 9 MBT. So while your firepower in and of itself isn't bad, you're held back by how quickly you can get to a location where you can use it.
Add in the fact MBT populations peak at this tier and you basically have to aim for weak spots to get any damage done.

Firepower score: 7/10


Platform

Now to cover both the strongest and weakest parts about the Challenger 2 at the same time. I'll start off with what makes the British MBT line famous: its armor.
Without a proper armor inspector to give you more accurate details, I'll try to cover as much of the armor as I can from my experience playing it.
First off, you really only have 2 frontal weak spots, and it's arguable if they're even "weak" to begin with. Your driver's hatch is the most obvious one but it is a lot thicker than it first appears. I've found that in practice its thickness is around 550mm thick, meaning even if you were to face a mirror match of another Challenger 2 you'd struggle to penetrate each other even without any angling at all. This weak spot can be easily hid by angling your hull roughly 30 degrees to the left or right when facing an opponent head-on. Your side armor will be slightly exposed but is still more than well angled and thick enough to resist anything shooting it, unlike in the Ariete. So if the Ariete taught you to be scared of angling at all, unlearn it.

Your second weak spot is your commander's hatch. Roughly 1/3rd of it is hidden behind your gunner's sight meaning it can sometimes absorb the shot entirely, but even if a shot goes through it will only do 1/3rd damage and is extremely unlikely to injure any crew member. In fact, I don't think I've ever lost a crew member in either of my tier 9 MBTs. The weak spot itself is roughly 300mm thick meaning even it can ricochet sometimes and autocannons won't go through.
You have a sort-of-weakspot which is your turret ring, and though it is small it effectively is the only way to take full frontal damage. The amount of room between your turret and your hull is very small and can be hidden both when hull down or when the enemy is above you. I'm guessing the turret ring is between 500-600mm thick even if a shot were to hit it, although the chance is slim it's still there.
However, you should be aware of HE in the Challenger 2. Shots landing near your driver's hatch or commander's hatch actually do around the same or more damage than AP would if it had penetrated. If you know somebody is spamming HE, hide your weak spots (especially driver's hatch) as well as you can and minimize exposure. Preferably you should lob HE back at them and hopefully break their gun so they can't damage you very well.

Your side armor, with the TES (H) upgrade, is 215mm thick against AP versus shots that don't hit the ERA, though in practice I've found it's much thicker than what's listed. Your ERA blocks, combined with your hull armor, is 395mm thick total. Though again, in practice it seems a lot thicker than that. Your rear armor is 164mm thick against AP with no ERA, meaning autocannons can penetrate you. CRABs especially can quickly whittle your HP down if they get behind you, but if that happens I suggest reversing into the closest solid object so they can't penetrate you anymore.
You have cage armor along the side of your turret and hull which has a chance to block shaped charges and doesn't go away after it successfully stops a shell. However since, like I mentioned earlier, shaped charges are really weak at this tier, you probably won't have to ever worry about those hitting you.
From the side or when multiple opponents engage you from different angles, as long as your sides and rear are relatively well angled, you only have one thing to worry about: the side rear of your turret. The last section of your turret seems to only be 300mm thick and there is no ERA here to protect you, meaning that you should always keep your turret faced in whatever direction doesn't give them the opportunity to shoot it.

Now the main downside of the Challenger 2: its mobility.
Your top speed barely gets to 60km/h and will struggle to maintain it even on roads and your acceleration is by far the worst on a tier 9 MBT. If you'd gotten used to the Ariete's amazing mobility, you're in for a world of slow.
Even the second slowest tank, the M1A2, is 0.6 seconds faster to accelerate than you are, and all tier 9 MBTs go a minimum of 7km/h faster than you do.
You also turn very, very slowly. Not nearly as slow as the Chieftain, god no, but you are probably the only tank at this tier that can still be flanked and circled. That said, your turret traverse isn't that bad. I don't know what it is without crew bonuses, but my Challenger 2's turret turns at 33 degrees per second, which is more than enough to get the job done.
Even though I can only write this short paragraph to explain how slow the Challenger 2 is, I cannot stress how often you'll curse how bad (comparatively, it's not that "slow" on its own) your mobility is and how you can't get late-game damage or you can't swap flanks in case you went on one that's doomed. And you will get flanked and take tons of damage at one point or another.

Platform score: 5/10


Loadout & Unlock Path

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I gotta say, the Challenger 2 gets some pretty good upgrades, going from stock to renowned.
Maximillian is my commander not because of his reputation and crew skill boosts (though they're a nice bonus) but because of his +10% crew skill boost. If you don't know why this boost is so good, read about it here. The 10% view range boost is a nice bonus too, but if I had the time I'd probably train Viktor, though I'm just so lazy that I went with Max instead. If you'd rather have some of Viktor's not-so-bad skills instead of a view range boost, go for it.
My driver has the usual: Off-Road Driving and Smooth Ride. Though since the usefulness of Smooth Ride can be questioned, you can always go with Spin To Win to turn a little better.
Gunner is also the usual: Marksman (20% better accuracy) and Quick Draw for the faster aim speed.
Loader: Rapid Fire and Explosive Shells. Explosive Shells is especially good when combined with the module damage HESH can achieve since it can one shot certain vehicles if it penetrates, especially in PvE.

Retrofits are pretty straight-forward, at least for now. I have ESM on my universal slot but really you can put whatever you want there. Another accuracy boost, a quicker reload, more HP, anything can be improved. I'm just keeping it there because why not and demounting it means I'd have to put on another expensive retrofit.
For the 2 armor retrofits you should put on whatever highest Mk. you have available. I wouldn't be picky because the Challenger 2 never sees any damage related to its engine, ammo rack, or crew.
For the firepower retrofit, I'd put on the Augmented Breech Lock you get from the Ariete, but since I didn't play the Ariete (well, not yet anyway) then you should just put on an accuracy boost if you have it available. If you don't have anything to boost your accuracy, go with something to boost your alpha.
Do note that once Intercom Systems are fixed (which should be by 0.12 or so) you should definitely put that in the universal slot instead. 7.5% faster aim time, better accuracy, faster reload time, etc.? Yes please.

You should load at least 10 HESH shells both for PvP and PvE. PvE for shooting AFVs you might oneshot it with and PvP to deal with MBTs you simply can't damage frontally at all otherwise (cough cough Leopard 2A6 and Ariete cough.) I load 16, but if you play a lot of PvE you can probably do just fine loading 8 or 12 at most.
The unlock path should be obvious if you've played any MBT with an armor upgrade in the past:

TES (H) > AP round > firepower retrofit slot > armor retrofit slot > armor retrofit slot > commander sight > gunner sight > smoke grenades > the rest.
Your engine provides such a small increase in mobility that I saved it for last. I didn't see a huge difference either way so I wouldn't rush it if I were you.
You can go for armor first if you really really like tanking shells but hate shooting back. You only get 1 AP upgrade anyway though so I don't see why not, especially considering it gives +20 damage.
The view range and accuracy modules are nice for getting that 436m view range and (in my case) 0.04 accuracy. With the right retrofits and training though I'm sure you can get it as low as 0.01, 0.02 at the very least.

Unlock score: 7/10


Final vehicle score: 6/10
The main draw of the Challenger 2, really, is its accuracy + aim time and health pool. The Leopard 2A6 has much better front armor with much more mobility and a gun roughly as good while the T-90MS is more agile, smaller, and has a monster gun. Both of these really lack the Challenger's pure HP pool though.
Its armor is hardly outstanding. Yeah, it has some tough weak spots... but so does every other tier 9 MBT. Hell, the 2A6 as I just mentioned has better frontal armor. That is to say, it has no frontal weak spots at all, which is better than what the Challenger 2 has. This is ultimately what stops it from being a 9/10 vehicle; its gun just isn't good enough to make up for how much damage is lost from its mobility.
It's an excellent vehicle to lead a charge with, if not the best, and it has some amazing side armor (similar to but not better than the T-90MS) but without backup it's fucked. It's great for holding a line with but once the enemy realizes you're alone (or lob HE, or call in arty, or just ignore you) then you'll wish you were a little bit faster so you could run away or at least do something to the advancing enemy.

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The Leo 2A6 has a huge weak spot directly under its gun (can be mostly hidden when not firing by just looking down) and there is a box looking thing on the rear of it which can be seen from the front that when shot will ~100% of the time light it on fire.  Also, there are a few turret ring spots on it which are not terribly difficult to penetrate.  Without the armor kit the RNG bar on the front upper plate also can be easily penetrated just as on the Leo 2A5. It's also incredibly easy to track the Leo2A6, even when face hugging it.

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38 minutes ago, shwedor said:

The Leo 2A6 has a huge weak spot directly under its gun (can be mostly hidden when not firing by just looking down) and there is a box looking thing on the rear of it which can be seen from the front that when shot will ~100% of the time light it on fire.  Also, there are a few turret ring spots on it which are not terribly difficult to penetrate.  Without the armor kit the RNG bar on the front upper plate also can be easily penetrated just as on the Leo 2A5. It's also incredibly easy to track the Leo2A6, even when face hugging it.

Is that so?
Well, that gives the 2A6 one weak spot which can be hidden even more easily than the Challenger 2's. If I had a friend with a 2A6 I'd test this, but even if it does work it sounds extremely unreliable, considering all they have to do is lower their gun.

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3 hours ago, Intumesce said:

Your top speed barely gets to 60km/h and will struggle to maintain it even on roads and your acceleration is by far the worst on a tier 9 MBT. If you'd gotten used to the Ariete's amazing mobility, you're in for a world of slow.

lol, that's an oxymoron if I've ever read one.

I noticed you're using the enhanced shell material retrofit.  Have you tested how it works?  I have the Mk. 3 version and it doesn't seem too  great.  Am I just being ignorant?

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1 minute ago, FrankyMcShanky said:

lol, that's an oxymoron if I've ever read one.

I noticed you're using the enhanced shell material retrofit.  Have tested how it works?  I have the Mk. 3 version and it doesn't seem too  great.  Am I just being ignorant?

Sorry if I got the Ariete part wrong since I haven't played it but on paper it makes sense a tank with much less armor than its predecessors (hell, less armor than any other tier 8 MBT) would get mobility to make up for it. Plus on paper it has a good top speed and the fastest acceleration on a high tier MBT. It even gets a mobility retrofit.

As for ESM, I dunno really. As I just wrote in the OP, demounting it now would just be a costly endeavor and if you have something better to slap on then go for it.
I haven't really seen the "moving accuracy" part come into effect but for the sake of providing a short answer: I think it works.

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5 minutes ago, Intumesce said:

Sorry if I got the Ariete part wrong since I haven't played it but on paper it makes sense a tank with much less armor than its predecessors (hell, less armor than any other tier 8 MBT) would get mobility to make up for it. Plus on paper it has a good top speed and the fastest acceleration on a high tier MBT. It even gets a mobility retrofit.

As for ESM, I dunno really. As I just wrote in the OP, demounting it now would just be a costly endeavor and if you have something better to slap on then go for it.
I haven't really seen the "moving accuracy" part come into effect but for the sake of providing a short answer: I think it works.

Oh, no no.  You're right about the Ariete it's very mobile and has enough front armor that it can really bully its way into forward positions.

I just got a giggle out of how we can consider a nuclear bunker that gets up to 60km/h slow.

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good review 

TBH i am getting a little annoyed with Obsidian at this point. though i am glad that AW has PvE as an option, i have to admit its getting extremely boring (hope insane mode comes soon) and i really want to be able to play PvP more often at higher tier's, as i find it more entertaining and challenging. its especially annoying for me because like you i play mostly non-MBT's, (TD's) but at this point it seems i have no choice but to follow the flow with playing MBT's and the T-90MS if i want to enjoy PvP above Tier 6. 

Really i think Obsidian need's to stop with introducing new content for a bit and spend the next 1 or 2 updates simply fixing problems/Bug's and balancing vehicles/PvP. I personally would rather wait a little longer for tier 10's/clan wars if it meant PvP balance and "tank class equality".

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4 minutes ago, FrankyMcShanky said:

Oh, no no.  You're right about the Ariete it's very mobile and has enough front armor that it can really bully its way into forward positions.

I just got a giggle out of how we can consider a nuclear bunker that gets up to 60km/h slow.

Hence the "slow" part. It's not slow, it's just everything else is much faster than you are.
For comparisons sake, the Challenger 1 is roughly as mobile as the Challenger 2 is, and it's NOT slow at all.

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10 minutes ago, Deus__Ex__Machina said:

Really i think Obsidian need's to stop with introducing new content for a bit and spend the next 1 or 2 updates simply fixing problems/Bug's and balancing vehicles/PvP. I personally would rather wait a little longer for tier 10's/clan wars if it meant PvP balance and "tank class equality".

I think my.com really fucked Obsidian over and backed them into a corner with their whole Russian "Road to the T-14 Armada" campaign bullshit.   I think we're gonna see tier 10's way sooner than we should.

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2 minutes ago, FrankyMcShanky said:

I think my.com really fucked Obsidian over and backed them into a corner with their whole Russian "Road to the T-14 Armada" campaign bullshit.   I think we're gonna see tier 10's way sooner than we should.

That's what worries me. with the way thing's are at tier 9 i shudder at the though of what tier 10 will be, which we all can guess will consist of the T-14 being a absolute god and any non-MBT's will be irrelevant.

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1 minute ago, Deus__Ex__Machina said:

That's what worries me. with the way thing's are at tier 9 i shudder at the though of what tier 10 will be, which we all can guess will consist of the T-14 being a absolute god and any non-MBT's will be irrelevant.

My prediction is that the T-14 will have Stalin chilling out the top of the commanders hatch with an RPG-7 in one hand and an HMG in the other.  Throughout the match he'll randomly pop MBT's with the RPG and shred AFV's with the MG all while humming the Russian national anthem and cackling like a mad man.

Looking forward too it.

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By the way, this supposed "giant weak spot" on the 2A6 is grade A bullshit. Shame on you for tricking me into this being viable, Shwedor.
If the 2A6 is AT ALL aware of this "weak spot" and isn't completely stationary, you're not gonna hit it.

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22 minutes ago, FrankyMcShanky said:

My prediction is that the T-14 will have Stalin chilling out the top of the commanders hatch with an RPG-7 in one hand and an HMG in the other.  Throughout the match he'll randomly pop MBT's with the RPG and shred AFV's with the MG all while humming the Russian national anthem and cackling like a mad man.

Looking forward too it.

T-14's final armour upgrade: cage armour made from strands of stalins own moustache that not even a mini nuke launched from a fat man could penetrate

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8 minutes ago, westybig said:

T-14's final armour upgrade: cage armour made from strands of stalins own moustache that not even a mini nuke launched from a fat man could penetrate

Too much Fallout is bad for you.  Pun intended.

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24 minutes ago, FrankyMcShanky said:

Too much Fallout is bad for you.  Pun intended.

i rate it a pun/10

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7 hours ago, FrankyMcShanky said:

My prediction is that the T-14 will have Stalin chilling out the top of the commanders hatch with an RPG-7 in one hand and an HMG in the other.  Throughout the match he'll randomly pop MBT's with the RPG and shred AFV's with the MG all while humming the Russian national anthem and cackling like a mad man.

Looking forward too it.

THIS
NEEDS
TO
BE
A
MOD

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Two points to note:

1. Engine deck is overmatch like everything else. The Russian tanks are too low to hit it, but the Leo can in close quarters. Not many players do it, but its becoming more common.

2. While its extremely rare, the chally is the only tank I've ever seen be outright destroyed by an ammo rack shot. I've only seen it twice, but I've never seen it happen to anything else, so the ammo rack retrofit may be worth using one of the armor slots on.

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11 hours ago, Deus__Ex__Machina said:

That's what worries me. with the way thing's are at tier 9 i shudder at the though of what tier 10 will be, which we all can guess will consist of the T-14 being a absolute god and any non-MBT's will be irrelevant.

I hope they just do different stats on NA/EU and RU. Give the RU one a brutally overpowered version until they beg for it to be nerfed. Is not anti-Russian bias comrade, you ask for nerf.

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7 hours ago, Shade421 said:

Two points to note:

1. Engine deck is overmatch like everything else. The Russian tanks are too low to hit it, but the Leo can in close quarters. Not many players do it, but its becoming more common.

2. While its extremely rare, the chally is the only tank I've ever seen be outright destroyed by an ammo rack shot. I've only seen it twice, but I've never seen it happen to anything else, so the ammo rack retrofit may be worth using one of the armor slots on.

i think ammo rack detonations are just rare in general, ive done it twice

once to a ural for 900 hp and i shot a ERC for a 1K detonation yesterday with HE from my leo 1A5 top kek
 

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4 hours ago, westybig said:

i think ammo rack detonations are just rare in general, ive done it twice

once to a ural for 900 hp and i shot a ERC for a 1K detonation yesterday with HE from my leo 1A5 top kek
 

actually its really easy to ammo rack here compared to WoT, you simply have to find the ammo rack and when you do it generally takes 2-3 shots on that area to detonate the ammo rack. I have confirmed it in training rooms with several tanks including the Chally 1/2 plus the T-90/MS and Draco. its really just a matter of finding the ammo rack locations which is the difficult part considering the lack of an armor/hitbox viewer in AW.

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In light of the upcoming Challenger 2 mobility nerf and the fact I just had a game where I got penetrated literally every single shot from the front from my turret ring, I'm now decreasing the Challenger 2's score to 6/10. After the nerf it might even be lower.
Honestly, the Leopard 2 is just so much better than the Challenger 2 now.

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2 hours ago, Shade421 said:

2A6 has the pen to go through the drivers hatch reliably, so obviously the MS does as well. I'm assuming that's what happened to you.

Nope, I'm 100% certain it was my turret ring. The first shot damaged my turret ring, the second one destroyed it and I repaired it... then the next shot damaged it and the one after that destroyed it again.

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12 hours ago, Intumesce said:

In light of the upcoming Challenger 2 mobility nerf and the fact I just had a game where I got penetrated literally every single shot from the front from my turret ring, I'm now decreasing the Challenger 2's score to 6/10. After the nerf it might even be lower.
Honestly, the Leopard 2 is just so much better than the Challenger 2 now.

So as far as tier 9 goes, there are only two good MBTs now? That's a little disheartening. 

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