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Intumesce Reviews The M109A6 Paladin

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I found arty to be much more interesting, fair, and skill based (in a very loose sense of the term) in this game than WoT arty ever was, and arty has some pretty good Mk. 3 retrofits, so I decided to grind all the way up to the Paladin.
Arty is actually a lot more relaxing and fun to play than you'd think. There's very little to no frustration involved, the most angry you'll get is when an enemy AFV suicide rushes you. Though speaking from my first hand experience, even though arty can "carry" it can't do much to actually influence a match. Getting 7k damage means you did a lot, but if you lose with that much damage then chances are it simply didn't matter. Of course if you don't expect to get >50% winrate, that's not a problem.

Firepower

The Paladin is arguably superior to the Panzerhaubitze 2000 in terms of its firepower. As of the time of writing this there's a reload bug where crew skills multiply for vehicles with 2 loaders, and the Paladin only has a single loader while the PzH has two, so it has a lower rate of fire and DPM but this will inevitably be fixed. Anyway, back on topic.
Direct hits with the top HERA round will result in damage ranging from 380 to 490, depending on where you hit and if you deal critical damage or not. Near-misses will deal 200-250, and splashes will deal around 100. HE penetrations (very rare, only achievable on stationary AFVs, SPGs, and MBT engine decks/unarmored rears) will usually hit in the low 600 range to high 700 with a crit, thus doing a massive amount of damage in a single shot. Additionally, HE penetration almost always kill at least one crew member or light the vehicle on fire.
The Paladin and PzH both have a very generous splash radius, but the Paladin's strength lies in its ability to land all its damage at once whereas the PzH can deal more damage with 3 direct hits, though that will be hard to pull off.
Your accuracy, aim time, splash radius, penetration, and even minimum armor threshold are all worse than the PzH, but this is not a problem at all and I'll explain why in just a bit. With the right commander, crew skills, and retrofits, you can bring the Paladin down to a very manageable ~4.4 seconds or less coupled with a reload time of below 10 seconds.

The biggest reason to play the Paladin over the PzH is the aforementioned fact it delivers all its damage in a single shot. This has a bunch of pros compared to an autoloading SPG:

  • Smaller shock factor. Enemies won't move around sporadically or dive into cover after firing one shot; but after the second shot from a PzH they will most definitely be in cover
  • A LOT safer to counter-battery than the very accurate and very long CB notification that PzH's who fire their whole 3 round salvo give off
  • Can move immediately after firing and requires no re-aiming between shots; the PzH must empty its full salvo to make the most of its damage and suffers a huge after-shot penalty to its aim time, thus requiring more time to aim in
  • Your ammo to damage ratio is far higher, which is somewhat relevant in PvE at the very least

In short, the PzH is better on an open map after the enemy arty is dead so it won't have to fear counter-battery, and this is an exceedingly rare event. In almost all cases, the Paladin can land its single hit more accurately and more often than the PzH, it can avoid counter-battery far better, it won't need to use resupply kits as often in PvE, and enemies will be far less scared of you (which is a good thing) after receiving 1 arty warning rather than 3 in a row.
Not much else can be said about the firepower itself. It's good, and it's what you'd expect of an SPG. You can bring your aim time, accuracy, and reload speed way down to land more shots more often, but there is a ceiling to how much you can leverage and SPG's firepower and how often you can use it.

Firepower score: 8/10
 

Platform

Not a lot can be said about the Paladin's platform considering the circumstances arty is in; it's basically just a gun on tracks. Talking about how bad its camouflage, view range, or armor is would be a moot point when it will almost never be in a situation to make any use of any of them. Instead I'll focus on the differences between it and the PzH.
The 2 biggest differences between the PzH and the Paladin when it comes to their platforms is their mobility and size. The PzH is roughly x1.4 times as big as the Paladin, and the Paladin is already a relatively big vehicle.
The Paladin gets a track traverse module upgrade and a single engine upgrade which brings its 0->32km/h speed down to 9.75 seconds. The PzH doesn't get a track traverse upgrade but its engine upgrade also brings it up to 9.75 seconds. However 2 other things which are at least somewhat relevant to their mobility is that the Paladin has a 55.8km/h top speed while the PzH has a 66.6km/h top speed, meaning once they both get going the PzH can relocate quite a bit faster than the Paladin can.
There's a catch for the PzH, however. When both tanks are stock, the PzH is FAR slower than the Paladin. Their acceleration time is 10.5 seconds and 12.75 seconds for the Paladin and PzH, respectively. Sure, when upgraded the PzH has the upper hand, but when stock it is a big and slow target which will be rendered for a long time if it fires all its 3 shots in quick succession. At that point it's really just begging to be counter-battered and any arty player who can see them will happily oblige with an HE penetration.

The only other minor differences even worth mentioning can be summed up like this:

  • The PzH has a little bit better armor than the Paladin because it is made of steel instead of aluminum so it might resist an HE penetration better, though it is a bigger target which makes it more likely to get hit in the first place
  • The PzH has about 5 degrees better base turret traverse speed than the Paladin does, so it can move its gun a bit quicker. Over 20 degrees is really fine on both on them and the Paladin having a slower turret traverse is not much of a big deal
  • The Paladin has 3 degrees of gun depression on the front and 1 on the rear while the PzH has a uniform 2.5 degrees depression all around the hull. Depression is only really relevant when using smoke rounds to conceal yourself, but it might come in handy sometimes when needing to aim down on your target (like on River Point for example)
  • The PzH has 155 HP more than the Paladin, but as mentioned earlier it is far more vulnerable to counterbattery

Platform score: 5/10


Loadout & Unlock Path

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Most SPGs don't really have any unlocks that make a night and day difference, just upgrades which makes it easier for them to do their job and the Paladin is no different.
Arty surprisingly actually has a variety of commanders that are not a bad choice. You can use Ioannis for the increased chance of setting fire to vehicles (Challengers will HATE you for it) or an arty commander for the bonus module damage or a crew skill commander just for the 10% boost. Overall Anthony is probably the best arty commander but since I don't have him I make due with Viktor instead since one of his crew skills (10% faster aim time for 15s) activates after pretty much every single shot, and the Paladin can use every bit of aim time reduction it can get its hands on.

My driver has Smooth Ride and Off-Road Driving, the former of which is relevant since relocating will cost you a lot of dispersion on the move, and this skill helps mitigate some of it. Spin To Win is a decent choice if you don't want either of these skills however.
My gunner has Sharpshooter and Quick Draw. Sharpshooter might be a bit unnecessary for arty but I've found that I can hit a lot more shots where the reticule is partially blocked by solid cover. Otherwise Do The Twist is a solid alternative to help bring your turret around faster.
My loader has the 2 obvious skills; Rapid Fire and Explosive Shells. I don't think ammo swap actually works for arty (since other than HE, your rounds are grouped rather than reloaded) so I wouldn't personally go with that.

Retrofits on arty is EXTREMELY subjective and really just depends on what you have available to you. My current layout is hardly ideal so if I had every retrofit in the game, I'd put on the following:
Thermal Sleeve Mk. 2
Gyroscopic Stabilizers Mk. 3
Crew Intercoms Mk. 3
Experimental Propellant Mk. 3

But if you don't have all of those, if I were you I would personally stack reload speed over alpha. I don't know why but I personally prefer reload time on arty over alpha. Although if you for whatever reason have BOTH Mk. 3 arty retrofits, I'd say go for it. The Paladin's aim time is rather long so bringing it down will bring your effective DPM up far more than a 1-2% reload/alpha boost will.

My ammo loadout could use an explanation I suppose. I have both top HE and HERA rounds, but the ever so slight increase in damage and penetration is not at all worth the lost shell velocity over HERA which is a whole 100m/s faster. At first I loaded a few normal HE rounds just in case but I found myself NEVER using them, so I just put on a full 40 HERA load.
I have 8 illumination rounds and 2 smoke rounds and you wouldn't believe how often smoke rounds actually come in handy.
Enemy arty doing aggressive counter batter? Fire smoke on the ground and relocate. Spotted out in the open? Fire smoke on the ground and run away. Stuck in a bad position in the spawn where you cannot fire without being spotted? Fire smoke on the ground and shoot. If I had room for more support shells, I'd load more smoke rounds, but that's just me. Trust me, you will appreciate smoke rounds in situations like these and it's why I can never recommend a full illumination loadout, even if you are playing arty exclusively to counterbatter.
My consumables load is sort of risky. One HE penetration has the chance of lighting me on fire but even when I had an auto fire extinguisher it had never happened to me, so I ended up replacing it with Energy Drinks.
5% better everything is worth it assuming you can at least try to dodge the enemy arty or hide behind cover. If I had Anthony I could remove the medkit and put on the auto extinguisher just to be safe, but I have crew loss and module damage happen far more often than engine fires so I think it's the lesser of two evils. If you have Anthony, obviously put him on and replace the medkit with an auto extinguisher.

Finally, for your unlock path, you should get the most important unlocks first and probably not even bother with the less important ones.
HERA round > smoke round > illumination round > technology slot > universal slot > HE rounds > firepower slot > engine/steering upgrade.
You only get 1 HERA upgrade but it's available immediately so I'd say it's the best you can unlock until you can afford the illumination and smoke rounds. Afterwards unlock as many retrofit slots as you can and save the engine upgrades for last.
HUGE WARNING: the engine upgrade costs 3.3 million credits and the steering upgrade costs 1.8 million credits. They really aren't necessary but if you really want to upgrade the Paladin's mobility (personally I still haven't bought them even after unlocking them) then be prepared to cough up a lot of money for a minor upgrade.

Upgrade score: 6/10


Final vehicle score: 6/10
Arty cannot carry, arty has very little influence on the match, the Paladin has worse on-paper stats than the PzH, and you will die a lot to AFVs suicide rushing you.
But arty is fun and is actually a great support tool with a huge learning (and grinding) curve. At first you'll be doing pathetic damage in the Paladin but as you keep playing it you will figure out all the kinks of playing arty and get your crew and stats better, and then you'll have a truly fun time.
Fuck arty and anyone who plays it, especially me.

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I really don't play arty at all simply because i feel that it has much less of an impact on a game compared to WoT. Some see this as a Good Thing because you wont be one-shotting anything or even hitting for 1k dmg like WoT. Others feels its a Bad thing because arty feels pointless and irrelevant, more so than other non-MBT classes.

Personally i don't really care as i find arty to be annoying regardless.

World Of Tanks Nuclear Arty: it was getting one-shotted or being hit for 2/3rd's of my HP that pissed me off.

Armored Warfare "Fly" Arty: AW arty feels more like a annoying fly that wont go away and has several "Unique" ways of pissing you off. Constantly: Focusing/Tracking you, Spotting you, And Keeping you from Seeing the enemy..... Or on a more personal level: Extreme Arc's that make WoT's Conquer Gun Carriage jealous, And the fact that all arty have a T92 like Splash Radius(10m or More)

The only connection i have with arty in AW is using free exp to skip through them for the Retrofits. 

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