So these are very early first impressions of the new patch.
Firstly, it is always interesting in the early days of the introduction of a new tank line of seeing the tanks start to appear. In the first few days the lower-tier matches are clogged with the low-tier variants. In particular I have been playing lots of matches of my Marder II to take advantage of the double crew bonus of the special, and I have seen the Type 2597 Chi-Ha an awful lot. So far however the highest-tier vehicle I have seen is an IS-2 – no doubt the person had burned up some Free Experience to acquire it.
As regards to the Chinese tanks themselves – well, I cannot really comment. Other than the Chi-Ha I have not really encountered them often enough yet to form a decent opinion of them as opponents. The Chi-Ha itself looks like a very creditable tank, enough so I have decided that I will work through the line to it at some point in the next few months.
The second part of the patch, and I think the larger part of the update, was the arty nerf. Now, I have not played my Hummel since the nerf as yet (not out of protest, just haven’t gotten around to it as yet) so what follows is based partly around a few games on the SU-18, and experience of being on the receiving end of arty-fire.
As regards to the SU-18, as a Tier II arty it really cannot speak of most of the changes, but might be semi-representive of the HP nerf and general mobility nerf. Essentially at this low-tier level I cannot really notice these much. Yes the tank is a little more sluggish – but it is an arty when all is said at done. It hardly danced before. The HP nerf – well, as others have said once the enemy tanks get close you are dead anyway.
One under-publicised aspect of the arty nerf (I do not think I wrote about it) is that splash damage has been reduced for lots of the higher-tier artillery. I have noticed this being on the receiving end – several shots that would previously have damaged me left me undamaged now. This will make it slightly trickier to play effectively, but hardly impossible. I figure it will mostly mean careful aiming will be rewarded.
The HP nerf is noticeable in a different way when facing arty though, and in an interesting way. As an arty-player I always assumed when I came face to face with an enemy it would be curtains in fairly short order – but when facing arty often it would take two shots. Now it mostly takes one. The difference between that first and second shot makes all the difference, as when facing the SPG you are always wondering are they about to ruin your day.
Otherwise I have noticed that the number of 3-5 SPG matches in the lower tiers have definitely increased. This is probably as much a feature of the floating hard-cap that was introduced prior to the 8.3 update itself, but I also wonder if it might be partly players going back to lower-tier arties that were less aggressively nerfed (this is pure speculation).
I will speak more of the arty-nerf once I have gotten some games in the Hummel under my belt. My expectations are, however, of things being not quite so easy, but still plenty of success.