Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Tank Chooses You



In the much revered martial art of "Tankery", they say that "you don't choose the tank, the tank chooses you."  I have found this to be true...well, at least it is with Wargaming.net's World of Tanks. Going into World of Tanks with its over 200 armored vehicles is a lot like stepping into a Walmart:  I mean, where do you turn first?  There is so much to choose from that picking just one from the massive pile of tanks often comes down to an arbitrary criterion.  For me and WoT, that criterion was simple patriotism:  if I was going to have a favorite tank, it was darn well going to be an American tank!  With that in mind, I decided to go with the WWII light tank classic, the M3 Stuart:


Some background:  built by Cadillac, a total of 13,859 vehicles were manufactured from 1941 through September 1943.  Initially, it was armed with a 37mm M5 gun, and five .30-06 Browning M1919A4 machine guns, but later the main gun was upgraded to a slightly longer M6 barrel, and some of the machine guns were removed.  It is a true American classic, and one of the backbones of American WWII war effort.

Unfortunately, it would prove nothing but a headache for me in World of Tanks!


 I don't know if it is the M3 or me, but I just can't get anywhere with the tank I was most eager to try (at least in the early tiers).  After playing in a bunch of matches, I noticed that I only had a 26% victory rate with it!  Ouch!  Even worse, I noticed that in most games my M3 would be be the first to be picked off!  It got so bad that I sought divine intervention by adding some artwork to its hull:


Yeah, I asked HIM for some help, albeit, the sardonic side of me wonders if that motto better serves as a representation of the mood of my frustrated crew after seeing my poor performance as a M3 tank commander. LOL!

You want to see how bad it could get for my M3 crew?  Check out this bit of Swiss cheese:


That's a lot of penetrations.  It was like every tank was gunning for me in that match.  In other words, a typical game with my M3!

Like I wrote above, you don't choose the tank, the tank chooses you.  Turns that that while my M3 refused my overtures, my British Cruiser Mk. IV embraced my peculiar style of command, and quickly racked up a close to 60% victory rate!


The British Cruiser Mk. IV, also known as the A13 MkII, sported 30mm of some very modern-looking faceted armor, and had a 40 mm 2-pounder anti-tank gun and a co-axial .303 water-cooled Vickers machine gun (later replaced with a 7.92 mm BESA).


Interestingly, the tank was popular with its crews...as it would prove with me.  For example, in one match my Cruiser Mk. IV scored four kills, with four assists!  I was so proud of its performance I spent some precious gold currency to give it a special camo paint job:


Snazzy!

Since then this tank has continued to perform past all expectations.

But another was waiting in the wings that would even eclipse that monster.  Ironically, it was from the nation I least wanted to get involved with:


That's right, World War II Germany.  It isn't just the fact of which regime Wehrmacht panzers have come  represent, it is also due to the fact that panzers have become such legendary vehicles that everyone seems to make them their primary choice in games like this!  I have never been one to go with the crowd, so I was intending to make as little use of the German line of the tech tree as possible.  However, after giving this Panzer Kpfw 38(t) a spin, especially once I upgraded the main gun from a 3.7 cm kwk 38(t) L/47 to a 4.7 cm Pak 38(t) L/43, I can now understand why even Wehrmacht light tanks became such legendary vehicles.



The Panzer Kpfw 38(t) was, in actuality, a Czech tank of pre-World War II design (the "t" stands for tschechisch, German for "Czech")!  However, after Germany invaded Czechoslovakia, they took the design and adopted it for their own purposes, making over 1400 tanks in the process.

The tank was considered very reliable by its crews, something I can attest to by the following game where this beaut really showed off its stuff.

As is my wont, I like to hide my tanks in bushes.  LOL!  Let me tell you, it makes for some great cover:


My first customer of the day would be this Panzer II:




Firing:


Hit and a kill!  First of the day!


My next target would be a Soviet LTP.  It would wander into the valley and get in a fight with one of my teammates...making it nicely distracted.  I fire:


...but only get a ricochet off the skirt (if you enlarge the picture, you can see the sparks where the round hit the right tank - I have to confess that WoT has better graphics than I thought it did!).

Unfortunately, by this point my firing position got spotted - "why is that bush belching fire?" LOL! - and I started taking hits, including one that smacked right below my cupola!


Ouch! What is more, the last round to hit me also damaged my left track, severely hampering my maneuverability!  No matter what I did, I just couldn't spot where the incoming rounds were coming from (a SPG?).  I was forced to retreat behind some rocks.

After waiting a few minutes, I motored on out again and spotted a damaged Marder II up on a ridge.



 Time to go to work again.  Fire!



Another hit and a kill!  That's two!


I had thought that the Marder was the cause of my wounds, but nope.  Within a few minutes, I started getting hit again. I suppose it was possible that a different tank was going after me, but the way the rounds were hitting seemed to suggest it was the same fella shooting at me from the same location.  Guess I will never know for sure.

Seeing the rounds coming in on my location again, I decided to move to a different spot further up the hill, near a nice cottage (I suspect the occupants weren't so thrilled about it, though!).  I soon spotted a damaged British Cruiser I slugging it out with my team.  So I engaged it:


That was a kill too, giving me three to date!  Not too bad for this mediocre player.

I just think all the smoke from firing my main gun looks really cool in this shot.

Now the two teams were tied in score and down to five tanks each.

At this point in the contest a multi-tank battle broke out on a distant hill.  My team was trying to force the issue by storming an enemy refuge...something that would cost us.  Regardless, seeing a good opportunity for some hunting, I took advantage of another bush!  LOL!


I soon spotted a Soviet T18 and let loose with another round:

Now that is what I call a muzzle flash!  Glad I went with that upgraded 4.7 cm Pak L/43!

You can see the shell arcing towards its target
Boom!  Four kills!


Unfortunately, the battle for the hill was over and my team suffered the worst of it.  We were down to my tank and one other one...against twice our number!  Things looked grim.

My teammate and I naturally decided to close ranks and form what I guess you could call a "half platoon".  We then shifted our position back to near my original starting location.

Another enemy tank, an LTP, soon motored into sight and we tried to nail him.  Unfortunately, he smartly took cover behind a house:

You can see one of my shells striking the house...I hope it was unoccupied! 

 In a very aggressive move, this LTP eventually left the shelter of the house and stormed our position!  Gutsy move (but I suspect his teammates were using him to distract us)!  My teammate was forced back from his location to alongside me where, together, we would face him down.  Fortunately for us, the enemy tank seemed to fire hastily, missing us on two occasions.  This was the opening we needed to finish him off with a combined effort.  Here, I deliver the coup de grace:

My teammate's tank can be seen to my upper left

Five kills!  It was now 2 vs 3!

Burn, baby, burn!

We shifted back towards the hilltop again where I quickly spotted a PzJg 1 sneaking around the town below me.  Fire!


Another hit and kill (six for this monster tank!), through a pine tree no less!  Plants seem to like my tank.


Down to 2 vs. 2!  We even the odds!

It came down to a final confrontation against a Cruiser 1.  My teammate went in for the kill, unfortunately the Cruiser beat him to the bulls-eye:

:

Nooooooo!  My platoon mate!  I will avenge you!  Fire with everything you've got!

You can see the wreckage of my teammate on my left




Boom!  Seven kills!


You have been avenged, my friend!  And I even used one of those costly special shells to do it (I wasn't taking any chances!).


It was now down to 1 vs. 1!  Unfortunately, I never would find out where the other enemy tank was as the game timer ran out, resulting in a draw.  Truth is, that is how I would have chosen for this game to end given the choice as the other team deserved a share of the victory, too.  This was one heck of a fun match - probably the most entertaining match I have played to date in WoT - and I was more than happy to share it with the other guys!  To my teammates and opponents: well played!


You know, I've never considered myself a "motorhead".  That is, I never took an interest in cars, trucks, engines, spark plugs, racing, et cetera.  So it is really saying something when I confess that I suddenly find myself taking an interest in engine horsepower, tread/suspension transverse rates,  armor plating thickness, and the diameter, in centimeters, of main guns.   This is quite the achievement of World of Tanks!  While the combat might still be very arcade-y in its simplicity (albeit, that has its charms), I will say that I am discovering an amazing amount of motorhead detail that that been imparted to the tanks and their individual components; each tank really feels quite different when it comes to its handling and combat capabilities.  Like I wrote above, this leads to some unexpected surprises in performance, and makes these virtual vehicles feel all the more real because of it.  When it comes to finding just which tank is right for you,  it is clear nothing short of a thorough test drive across multiple combat zones will suffice!

World of Tanks has demonstrated to me that when it comes to Tankery...there is more to it than meets the eye.  And there lies the fun of discovery.



4 comments:

  1. Not only did I learn something, but you make the game sound like so much fun. I know it's going to happen, I should stop trying to fight the urge to play this game.

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  2. WoT is fun. Your first series of Tier I tanks will prove to be an underwhelming disappointment, just like your typical MMO, your level 1 char is never impressive - but once you get to Tier III the game really starts to get interesting with the choices available to you.

    I am presently surprised by two things with WoT: First, the game hardly tries at all you get you to fork over money. In fact, I even received almost 300 gold pieces (premium currency) for free, and that buys quite a lot of incidentals! Second, the community is one of the nicest I've ever come across. Most of the in-game chatting is people helping each other out with the game, or just "glhf" type of stuff. Very pleasant.

    Thanks for the comments!

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  3. So I downloaded and am patched up, I just have yet to play. I had thought WoT was some persistent open world MMO, but it's more like MechWarrior Online which I enjoy the heck out of right now.

    At some point we will have to play and you'll have to teach this noob not to die too fast!

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  4. Bushes are your friends.... LOL!

    Yeah, it is exactly like MWO. Same type of one life per round deathmatch. So if you like MWO, I think you will definitely like WoT. I sort of like WoT a bit better because I think the combat is a bit more forgiving, not to mention the tech tree is more comprehensible.

    My ID is RooksBailey, so send me a friend request!

    ReplyDelete