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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.