In the El Alamein special offer recently I acquired two premium tanks for half price – the Valentine and the Matilda. I haven’t played the Matilda as yet, but I have had a few games now in the Valentine. The Tier IV Valentine is an odd little tank – and indeed I was curious about it having read a little about how, even though it is a light tank, it almost plays more like a heavy tank.
To begin with, it is hardly fast or agile. The armour is relatively strong for Tier IV, and is also all-round; unlike most tanks which have weaker armour to the sides and rear. This goes along with a comparatively massive durability – 380 hit points which is a truly massive amount for Tier IV, especially for a light tank. By comparison the Tier IV German medium Panzer III has 310 hit points, the Soviet A-20 light tank has 290. The gun however is barely adequate to face tanks of its own tier. ¨
The map was Assault mode in the Prohorovka map, and I was on the defending team. Prohorovka is usually a map in which the defenders have a distinct advantage due to how things are laid out. A successful attack requires a certain amount of co-ordination that is often lacking in random matches (though I have seen it happen). However, mistakes in the defending team make it all too easy to lose this map.
The match consists of Tier II, III, and IV tanks. there are three areas where the attackers have to cross a raised railway line to get to the base, one to the north, one to the south, and one pretty much in the middle. A hill overlooks the base, which is opposite the middle-entry point, and this is where the defending team starts. Around the base is a built up area. I being on the north-side of this hill, near the town and the base.
I quickly move into the town, but keep below the ridge of the railway line. My hope is to place myself well to disrupt any initial rush across the centre. Meanwhile the southern entry-point is more or less left unguarded, and immediately a couple of enemy light tanks storm across creating a certain amount of havoc before they are removed. My attention though has been taken to the northern entry point, where a Panzer III and a T82 have made it across. Myself and a M3 Stuart have headed northward, and from behind us several more tanks are sniping. The M3 Stuart is destroyed, but so are both enemy tanks, when two more – a Marder II and an AT-1 crest over the hill. I get the Marder, and someone else snipes the AT-1 – at this point my Valentine receives its first hits.
I now approach very close to this single entry point – close enough to spot two further tanks on the other side of it – an enemy M3 Stuart and an AMX 40. I hate fighting the AMX 40, because at Tier it is remarkably effectively armoured little creature. Pretty much every armoured surface is sloped, making it difficult indeed to do damage. At this point I am pretty much expecting to die once those tanks come over – simply because I don’t anticipate to be able to effectively damage the AMX. My overall feelings for the match at this point are not all that positive either as we have lost eight tanks for only 5 kills.
Then the M3 Stuart and AMX come over the ridge. I also get bracketed by some artillery fire. I start reversing to try to give myself more room and make myself harder to hit. The AMX 40 is a slow beast and choose to mostly sit still to shoot at me- but the M3 Stuart starts to circle me. Of course, my all-around armour doesn’t really give him any advantage. I am taking shots from all over the place, but many of them are bouncing, probably because I am also turning left and right to try to increase angle shots. After half a dozen or so shots of my own (my gun doesn’t do much damage) the M3 Stuart dies to another tank. The AMX 40 now moves down off the ridge to try to get me. At some point he de-tracks me and I get bracketed again my artillery. However, I manage to remove about half his health in one lucky shot, and another tank from my team that is sniping takes him out with the aid of friendly artillery.
The match overall has just starting to shift in our favour, in that we have not lost anymore tanks but have now claimed nine opposing tanks. I am now moving even slower than normal, and get hit by a last artillery shell meaning I now have just 40 hit points left. I spend some time guarding the northern-access point, but when nothing seems to be coming across I head back to the centre. Both teams have now lost another tank. Having reached the centre, I detect a BT-7 tank waiting at the northern access point, sheltering behind a rock, basically doing nothing. I spend a while trying to snipe him from beneath railway cars, but the Valentine turret doesn’t simply have the gun depression to allow me to do so. The enemy at this point consists of this light tank, and three artillery. One of our two surviving mediums now decides to do some artillery hunting – but is destroyed for his efforts. At this moment the BT-7 chooses to charge across the northern access point. In a more-or-less safe position. Enemy artillery tank out one of our remaining tanks, but I manage to kill off the BT-7, and change position before the artillery can destroy me too.
That basically wrapped up the match in a victory. I came away with just two kills, and damage applied to a further three tanks. I also had seven detections. I fired 38 shots, of which 29 hit – which could be better but I am not complaining too much. More “fun” from my perspective is that I was hit a total of 21 times. That was enough for the Steel Wall Battle Honour – which I still think is my “favourite” honour.
What I found interesting about this match is just how much a team victory it was – but also it demonstrated a basic mistake in the attackers. Seven tanks came across the northern access point over the course of the battle. But they came across in three separate groups (Panzer III and T82, AT-1 and a Marder II, M3 Stuart and AMX 40, and finally the BT-7). If they had all come over in one big rush … well, I think we probably would have lost.
For my own role, it was more subtle that racking up a load of kills. Rather for most of those northern incursions (apart from the first one) the enemy tanks were most occupied trying to kill me. While they were doing that other tanks from my team were mostly able to kill them. My most important role in this battle was simply soaking up their fire. Generally I consider myself an average player still, but now and then I have aspirations to become “above average”. In this match (as in others) everything seemed to click and I felt I performed to my potential.
Of course, the next several matches were not so successful – this is still very much a work in progress. However, matches like this one are one of the things that keeps me interested in World of Tanks.