World of Tanks: Soviet Rejig

May 22, 2012

Patch 7.3 introduced a few changes to the USSR tech tree, mainly to the heavy tanks.  This post is where I forever leave behind my self-image of not being the kind of gamer who talks about gun barrel diameters…

Prior to the patch I had researched:

  • Tier V: KV
  • Tier VI: KV-3 and KV-1S
  • Tier VII: IS

After the patch there were now two full streams of heavy tanks, I think one line is emphasising armour, the other speed.

  •  Tier V: KV-1 and KV-2
  • Tier VI: T-150 and KV-1S
  • Tier VII: KV-3 and IS

The KV-3 now leads to the KV-4, and the IS leads to the IS-3.

The T-150 was a surprise to me, but it came with a free garage slot, hull and 100% trained crew.  It was only partially researched (lacking gun, turret and engine upgrades) but still had the upgrade tank researched.  My first few matches with it were pretty disappointing, leading me to wonder if it should be classed as puppy chow or dog meat.  A few comments in game chat supported the idea that the only good thing about the T-150 was selling it for credits.  As far as I know the T-150 was a planned KV-1 upgrade, with only one prototype being completed before production/testing was interrupted by the German invasion in 1941.  Eventually it was redesigned to become the KV-3.

Ruinberg – Invader Achievement Day!

Prior to 7.3 I had been playing the peek-a-boo game with the KV equipped with a 152mm howitzer (a variant nicknamed the Dreadnought by original Soviet crews if Wikipedia is right).  Because this weapon has a 45 second reload time, compared to the 12 seconds or so for most high-end weapons on similar tier tanks, you have to be quite careful in its use.  Tactically, you run towards a cluster of buildings and hide behind them, peeking out to fire a shot, then rapidly reversing before someone knocks your tracks off.  The worst that can happen when tracked, is having the front part of the vehicle exposed, but the gun unable to align on a target due to the corner of the building.

The distinctive “stub” of the 152mm strikes fear into the hearts of all enemies.

So now there was a KV-1 and a KV-2.  First thing I noticed was that only the KV-2 had the big cube turret, second thing I noticed was that the KV-1 no longer had the 152mm available to it.  Then I noticed that the crew had decided to stay with the KV-1, so the Dreadnought crew were back to zero training for their skills.  I could have swapped the crews around, but its not a big deal.  As I only tend to play each tank until I get a x2 experience victory with it each day, the grind to 100% skill is a very long one.  The KV-2 feels a bit harder to play, as its a tier higher than the old KV it runs into much more heavily armoured/gunned tanks that it struggles to hurt.  I have also just had a long stretch of bad RNG, with the 152mm once bouncing three times in a row off another tank in a Siegfried Lines match.  I also need to keep playing the KV-2 to finish researching the S-51 artillery SPG.  The KV-1 has also been made easier because its match-making range has been compressed one tier down from the top (i.e. its much less likely to run into some of the big nasty late-war/fantasy blueprint tanks).

My team complained that I was hanging back. So I went and got 4 kills.

In theory with the KV-2 and T-150 I should be using the 107mm Zis-6, which is their overall best gun in terms of penetration and damage.  I have, however, been having a lot of fun with the 57mm on both the T-150 and KV-1, primarily because it can fire 26 rounds a minute and the penetration is reasonable.  This leads to quite a different play style to the 152mm, much closer to that of a medium tank than a heavy, which I have mentally dubbed ‘cavalry’.  With 170+ rounds of ammo, you can feel free to take long range pot shots at scouts, to fire when on the move and accuracy is low, or to lay down suppressing fire in gaps.  What I have been trying to do, is to move forward with the goal of either running into a group of medium/light tanks, or rapidly flanking a heavy tank – the goal being to get behind it and pump a round every 2.2 seconds into its engine compartment.

I was not playing the Tier VI KV-3 much before the patch, concentrating on the Tier VII IS, but now the KV-3 is Tier-VII and needs to be played to reach the KV-4 Tier VIII tank.  Oddly enough, while it was not a favourite, it still had a personal best of 8 kills (in an Arctic match my team lost). It has been rebalanced for Tier VIII, so its weapons do a lot more damage to the high tier tanks than I remember.  Because I have tended to win my first match of the day with it since patch 7.3, I have no reason to mess with the “zombie” tactic of simply heading towards where I know I will run into enemy heavy tanks. I had an odd match this evening, facing off against three AMX scout tanks, where they hid behind buildings and acted like heavies rather than flanking me and using their six round rapid fire guns, so I slowly picked them off one by one.

Ready to roll in the Mountain Pass.

Prior to patch 7.3, the IS (Iosif Stalin, named after “Uncle Joe”) was my highest tier tank in play.  I was not enjoying it very much, rarely getting more than one kill even in winning matches.  Compared to the Tier VII German Tiger its gun was less accurate/damaging and compared to the US T-29 its armour was underwhelming.  What it does have is a slight edge in speed, making it good in urban brawls. The trick is to not go head to head with the enemy, but to back off and head down a side street – hopefully while your team mates keep its attention fixed.  Since the patch I seem to have been doing a bit better with the IS, but I’m not thinking of keeping it once I research the Tier VIII IS-3, as that tank will do what the IS does, only better.

Yes, its a Russian tank in the desert.

Now I am wondering if I should give the KV-1S a go, as it is a faster, less armoured version of the KV.  While I researched it months ago, I never bothered to get the hull.  Given how much fun I have with charging in with the 57mm doing it on a faster tank has some appeal.  I don’t see the KV-1S all that often in matches though, which suggests its not a player favourite in World of Tanks. Looking at its weapon options though, there is nothing quie as quick firing as the 57mm, although quite a few options in the once every 5-6 seconds band.

I might post something about Tank Destroyers next.


A week without computer games

May 13, 2012

Day 6, my fingers twitch, but as much as I’d like to play some computer games I’m going to be good and follow my GPs advice on dealing with the tennis elbow in my left arm.  I did log into World of Tanks to take advantage of the VE day specials, and to take a look at how my Soviet heavy tanks had been rejigged, but I successfully resisted the x5 experience bonus and logged out of the game afterwards.  For a right hander, getting tennis elbow in the left hand is rare, I suspect its the dominance of WASD keys in modern gaming that has done it to me (that and playing computer games 4+ hours a night).

Grand Strategy

This does leave me with a lot of time for reading and thinking, so a good chunk of today was spent working on the Sun & Starship rules for Buckets of Dice 2012.  Most of this was spent trying to nail down control of tokens, so people will always know who controls what in the game, or how control changes between players.  I’m deliberately forcing players to keep ships concentrated in no more than three stacks, so as to encourage raiding tactics and to make it difficult to build solid defence lines.

The Senate Bills have also been fleshed out.  Each of the five committees gets one to four Bills each turn. The exact number is determined by the Treasury Committee, which can increase or reduce the Bills other committees get.  After the first draft I did a second pass for balance, prompted by realising that one committee had a power worth +/- 10 victory points, so I made sure the other committees had something comparable.  I then did a second pass to increase the horse trading options so that most bills gave out boosts to more than one player at a time.

Planning ahead for 2013 I would like to design a railway building game.  This would include options I wish were included in most published railway building games, to whit, the option to say “Screw this, mobilise the army” when someone else pips you to the next rail hub.

Roleplaying Games

I am following the development of the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons over at http://community.wizards.com/dndnext without a lot of enthusiasm.  While I purchased the core 4th edition books, I found that the game had gone too much towards a fully blown miniatures wargame and away from the narrative combat (“theatre of the mind”) that I use in resolving a lot of tabletop conflict.  As a GM I simply couldn’t fit the options available to the players into my own mind, making the game too complicated for me to design scenarios for.  That said, the actual written advice on running/designing campaigns was solid.

I am much more looking forward to The Design Mechanism’s sixth edition of Runequest, especially after the PDF preview was put up at: http://www.thedesignmechanism.com/resources/RQ%20Preview%201.pdf.  I like the clean, uncluttered layout, and the style of artwork.  I’m intrigued by the inclusion of cultural passions (e.g. loyalty, love, hate) and how they might influence the mechanics.  It’s also good to see that mysticism will be a valid magic system in the main rules.

In part because of the upcoming RQVI I took a look at the Stafford Library’s Arcane Lore, which is essentially a 129 pages of GM/design notes on hero questing. One of the big frustrations of RQ was that there never seemed to be enough information about the hero quests of Glorantha to actually run players through, unless you were willing to hunt through obscure mail order fanzines.  I suspect my next campaign game will use Runequest rules, although it may not be a Glorantha setting – there are hints that a new edition of roleplaying rules for the Artesia setting will be a D20/RQ ruelset.

Grabbing a few other PDF’s to read this week, I was disappointed by Monte Cook’s Ruins of Intrigue. While its only 98 pages long, I was hoping for a bit more in the way of interesting crumbled ruins and a lot less overland/wilderness terrain.  While the alternate secrets for major NPCs and foes was nice, with competing explorer factions for Casablanca intrigue, it would have been nice for a range of lost artefacts and other lootable stuff to have been detailed rather than leaving the GM to make up all the loot themselves.

In an old school kick again, I picked up the D&D 3.5 edition of Blackmoor, in part because I read that the map in the 4th edition version was less than helpful. That’s next on the reading list.

Gaming Recap

Skyrim – still have not resumed play of this.

World of Warcraft – 3/8 hard modes, expansion is definitely winding down, have BETA invite not using it yet as I have no interest in the levelling content (I do want to see how the Paladin heals 5 mans and raids).  Guild finished the Rogue legendary dagger two weeks back, so we may go back and finish the Firelands legendary staff next.  Have been trying to clear off some grindy achievements in the down time – still have not found a useful BOE in archeaology.

TERA MMORPG – not going to touch this one, can we please have real armour for females in games?

Secret World MMORPG – looks interesting, modern day occult horror, but dear god where would I find the time!

World of Tanks – upgraded to a premium account, changed play away from acquiring new tanks to focusing on the ones I have that are fun to play – trying to get crew skills to 100%. So while I have researched the SU-14 for example, I’m still happy playing the SU-8 as my artillery piece.  Patch 7.3 has rejigged the Soviet tree, so I’m going to have to relearn how to play the KVs – the 152mm “derp” howitzer has been shifted from the KV 1 to the KV2.

Guild Wars 2 – still looking forward to this after reading more beta info, as a non-subscription MMORPG its one that will be easy to play for just a few hours every now and then.

SWTOR – got bounty hunter healer to L40, enjoying healing much more than tanking, deep down I still prefer WoW.