I’ve been playing World of Tanks for a while now and thought I’d share some observations.
To start with, I chose to focus on German tanks. There is a lot of talk on various forums about which nationality has the best tanks for this purpose, that purpose, and some other purpose, but in my experience (playing these sorts of games) that’s just crap. Let me explain briefly.
In MMOs which are pure PvP (like WoT) the developers are always fixated on making things ‘fair’. Fair to them means that the rankings reflect skill and nothing else. This leads to enormous statistical number crunching to work out what tanks have an advantage over others. Patch after patch the advantages are whittled away until everything has been ‘normalised’ to within the limits of statistical certainty.
Early players quickly work out what tanks have an advantage, invest huge amounts of time and/or money in getting them, then wail like banshees in the forums when the nerf bat comes down on their precious, but ‘unfair’ tank of choice. It was inevitable, but they wail anyway. They were exploiting an aspect of the game (namely that one tank was better than the others) and cry when that loophole eventually gets closed. Poor babies.
So, dear reader, it really doesn’t matter which nationality you pick. Ignore forum entries saying this is better than that because — even if it was once true — it won’t be for much longer.
Me, I picked the Germans because I think their tanks look cooler. That’s all. I suggest you do the same. Forget the stats.
That said, all of the following opinions are based on the fully upgraded version of each tank. Most stock tanks are real dogs and it’s only once you research and implement every possible upgrade that you realise the full potential of the tank. I won’t even mention a tank that isn’t fully upgraded because to do so would be unjust.
I tried the Leichttraktor, PzKpfw II, PzKpfw 35 (t), PzKpfw 38 (t), PzKpfw 38 nA, PzKpfw III Ausf. A and PzKpfw II Luchs before I found joy in the VK 1602 Leopard.
The last four are all speed demons. Only one notable downside: I found the Luchs’ driving controls ‘twitchy’ and had problems navigating it through narrow city streets at high speed. The Leopard is even faster but steers smoother and has awesome radio signal range, which lets you call in the artillery once you’ve snuck behind enemy lines.
I cross-researched into the SPG side of the tech tree via the Wespe, then tried the Grille and the Hummel.
I don’t like the look of the short-barelled SPGs at all and am looking forward to eventually getting the GW Tiger. Yeah baby — that’s what a SPG should look like!
The Grill has probably been the most ‘fun’ SPG so far. I read articles about how much better the Hummel is in sniper mode, but I don’t see a difference. It’s probably been normalised as discussed before.
Ah, Tank Destroyers. What can I say about those? I skipped Panzerjäger I and Marder II because they looked more like artillery pieces. I cross-researched into TD via the PzKpfw 38 nA to the Hetzer and then the StuG III and, to be honest, I wasn’t having much fun.
What I read about TDs was they they stealthed around and went from bush to bush, eventually ambushing a passing tank with their mighty gun and that sounded awesome. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work. Finding a big enough clump of bushes to hide in is the first problem, but the real kicker is that when you finally do unload your mighty weapon it bounces off the enemy most of the time. The StuG III is a tier 5 tank and could barely make a dent in tier 6 tanks, and was totally worthless against anything higher. It got eaten alive. Things were even worse for the poor Hetzer.
So, I rethought things. If sneaking and ambushing is more hype than reality, what can I do? These tanks look fantastic – it would be a shame to give up on this branch of the tech tree.
So I hit the books and learned about armour penetration and plate thickness and the different types of rounds and the weaknesses in different types of tanks (which had chewed me up and justified some payback). What I learned was that you could pick a type of ammunition that does less damage, but has higher penetration, and manually target certain sections of certain tanks where armour is the thinnest. Now my little tier 5 StuG III has turned into a deadly sniper which is able to blow tracks off of even tier 9 tanks (thus immobilising the enemy and making it easy to call in artillery to finish them off), and also score crit after crit on certain tanks – killing internal crew members and destroying components.
Because I sacrificed raw damage for penetration, I now engage in psychologically tactical warfare with my enemy. I can’t do enough raw damage to get through the heavies, but I can stop them in their tracks (hah!), allow my teammates to savage them, and cause them to reconsider whether they really, really want to pass through this valley, or cross this bridge… The player on the other side will hear a stream of announcements of tracks being blown off and critical hits being scored which he will mentally equate to severe damage. The fact that he actually hasn’t taken that much raw damage is something he won’t even notice unless he goes out of his way to look at his health bar and, in the middle of heated combat, who does that?
Anyway, the new way of driving my TDs is working wonderfully. I was able to hold a bridge against six of the enemy last night, including two tier 8 KV-5s (heavies). Although I only scored two kills, the number of blown tracks and crits was countless and the rest met their fate at the hands of artillery or simply gave up, backed off, and went another way. Mission accomplished – none shall pass!
So, if you’re willing to learn a bit of the technical stuff and manually target instead of using the auto-aim, then even a lowly TD can pose a threat on the battlefield.