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Monthly Archives: September 2012

I am writing this post a day early, as I do not think I will have time to do it tomorrow.

Overall

September has at times been a slightly frustrating month for me in World of Tanks – especially the last week or so where I have had one of those runs of bad luck that sometimes happens. There is an interesting correlation I have found (and not just in World of Tanks) of sometimes trying too hard, with the result of performing less well. I have certainly suffered from a bit of that this last fortnight too.The big news in World of Tanks right now of course is the 8.0 update, and it is taking a bit of getting used to.

On the plus side I have managed quite a few games with a couple of friends – generally in lower tier tanks still – and had a great deal of fun as a result. Otherwise I am still playing more or less the same range of tanks. Realistically I doubt my Average Tier is going to increase very much anytime soon until I acquire another Tier VIII tank, and currently this is somewhat far down on my shopping list. Currently that looks something like this:

1. Equipment for the KV-1S
2. VK3001H + equipment
3. T-34 + equipment
4. VK3601H + equipment
5. KV-4 + equipment

Of course, any plan is subject to change, and various special offers might change how this occurs. In particular the arrival of British tanks, if it occurs in the next few weeks, might alter this.

Otherwise I didn’t, in the event, look much for a Clan. My overall aim for the next month centres around playing more in the Tier VI-VIII range, and trying to cut down on the number of silly mistakes I make.

Garage Trip

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So, I have been able to play the 8.0 update of World of Tanks for the last twenty-four hours. While I have not played all that many matches, certainly I have played enough for a first impressions post.

Firstly, the new physics does not appear to be as revolutionary as I thought it would have been. I am not quite sure if this is because it simply is not quite as big a deal as I thought it was going to be, or if it is because World of Tanks players are very set in their ways.

Secondly, despite the nerfs to the Marder II – which are noticeable – I think it will still be a joy to play. In this I stand by my feeling that in experienced hands the Marder II will average out better than the generally less experienced competition.

The new graphics do indeed look wonderful and make the game just look better. The tech tree feels awkward, but how much of that is simply that it is something I am not used to I do not know. From various comments it appears to be a fairly common view.

The new post-battle report is absolutely brilliant. Not only does it allow one to see how much experience each member of each team did, and a basic breakdown of how they performed, it also tracks and displays so much more information. My absolute favourite is that it displays spotted damage – that is damage caused by other tanks on your team that cannot see the target by themselves but only through other tanks. It also has a breakdown of experience and earnings, and shows the difference between free and premium. Quirkily, it also shows how far you tank has travelled in a match.

So my overall impression is certainly positive, and eager to play more.

So, in honour of the launch of the new update we have a special offer running from Friday morning to Tuesday morning.

What makes this offer a little different from most is that there are no individual tanks on offer – it is general bonuses across the board.

There is 90% on crew renaming – a purely cosmetic change that does not bother me. There is also 50% discount on barracks enlargement and a 50% discount on crew retraining to new tanks. The first two of these cost gold. The second can be done for free (with a larger reduction in ability), or for credits or gold with either a smaller reduction or not reduction in ability. These also will probably not have much impact on me. I have no need to expand my barracks. I probably will acquire the SAu-40 this weekend and retrain my Renault UE 57 crew, but that is likely all.

More of interest is that there is also a 50% discount on regular consumables. I may well buy a few of these, even though I am not truly running out of stock just yet.

For me and, I suspect, for most the big deal of this offer is double crew experience each battle. This will surely help train those crews up somewhat quicker – which is all to the good.

So, a nice offer which has something for everyone. A solid offer to support the new launch.

Talking of which, I have downloaded and played my first game, naturally in my Marder II. Had a lot of fun, and I absolutely adore the new after-battle statistics.

It’s apparently official – WoT 8.0 will launch on the EU server tomorrow. A detailed set of patch notes can be found here. In the main there is nothing different here to the public test patch notes that I wrote about previously. The difference is that there is that this we get the tank balancing adjustments.

So, I will recap briefly the main points already covered, and then take a look at some of those aforementioned balancing adjustments.

The main item on this update has to be the new physics. I have not played on the test server, so I am currently only guessing, but I am expecting mayhem to begin with for a week or two until folks figure it out. This is likely to create a large amount of noise for a while as folks adjust. I have some trepidation that this will change the game too much, but I am certainly willing to give it a try. I am trying to approach it as a challenge.

We area also getting four new Soviet Tank Destroyers, and the first British tank (a premium). I am looking forward to facing them on the battlefield. I currently do not intend to get the British premium, and will likely not be in the new Soviet tanks either. In addition we are getting a series of new achievements. Some of these are refinements on current achievements, others are new. The two I particular like are Brothers in Arms, given to Platoon mates when each member of the platoon gets at least three kills and survives; and Patrol Duty given when you help to spot opposing tanks for members of your team and you damage them. This last achievement I think is going to be very helpful I hope in encouraging spotting (rather than suicide scouting) in the game. Certainly something to aim for next time I climb into my Leopard.

There is also a new camouflage system – camouflage will no longer be purely cosmetic but actually will provide a small benefit in the matches. While undoubtedly an attempt to get people to spend real money, this feels to me like a small enough benefit that it is hardly game-breaking. I am under the impression – that could be wrong – one can expend credits to have a camo for a short period of time (as opposed to spending gold for a permanent duration) which also would provide a free-to-play mechanism for this. Cosmetically it will now be possible to place emblems on tanks to help personalise them.

There will now be an option to exclude the Assault and Encounter game modes from one’s gameplay. I won’t be doing this initially, but I know it is going to be a very popular option. The number of complaints one can make in a day has also been expanded from 3 to 5, another welcome amendment. Also the quick commands are being retooled to work via the aiming cursor. As I very rarely use these, this does not effect me too much.

Probably the second largest item in this patch is a reworked rendering system. The improved graphics I am sure will be very popular, but certainly in testing there has been an fps issue. I certainly hope this has been resolved otherwise I am expecting quite a lot of fury in the forums. Whether my machine will be able to take advantage of the new graphics I do not yet know. Will just have to see how it goes. Despite this being a major component of the expansion, in some respects it is also the least important . Graphics certainly help a game look nice, but good gameplay is the most important component to success.

The in-garage UI has also been reworked, with new looking tech trees and research trees. The screenshots certainly look slick. The item though that has me really excited is now post-battle statistics. I am massively looking forward to that, and I will be bitterly disappointed if it doesn’t live up to expectations.

There are a slew of audio fixes which I must admit do not interest me, and the above has been going through the major changes with only a casual look-through. Next however come the balancing changes. I don’t intend to go through every tank effected – just the ones that effect my own play, plus any others about which I have particular comment.

I do not, in fact, have much to say about the changes to the French tanks as mostly I do not play them. It is nice to see the B1 get something of a buff, but odd to see the AMX 38 get a nerf. I also really do not understand why the RenaultFT AC has been nerfed. The slight nerf the Renault UE 57 does seem reasonable.

A whole series of German guns are getting buffed, irrespective of individual tanks. One would hope that this might mitigate the anger against some of the German nerfs, but given that one of the tanks nerfed is the Marder II I am almost certain this will not be the case. It does not help that the Marder II is not just getting nerfed, it getting sledgehammered across all the three guns it fits. Principally these include aiming time increases, reload time increases, and increase target dispersion while moving the turret and/or firing the gun. I, of course, play the Marder II at first, and when I first looked at all these changes I must admit I felt a bit hard put-upon. Looking through them more carefully however I don’t think this will be a gamebreaker. The increased aim time is the most annoying change I think, but should be possible to adapt to. I also think however this highlights the problem with the Marder II.

The Marder II is the favourite tank of a fair few tankers, from all I understand. It is also a low tier tank. You therefore have an effective tank, largely facing up against opposition that is often new or newer players – or older players just quickly researching through a tech three to get to a later tank – but one that is often played by very experienced players who have put hundreds of battles into the Marder II – and thus who have it fully equipped and with a highly skilled crew. In other words, one is not comparing like with like, and the resulting dichotomy makes the Marder II appear far more over-powered than it actually is. Nothing I have read seems to show much understanding of this point. It will be interesting to see if the nerf to the Marder II causes many vets to abandon it – because if they do it is quite possible that we will see the Marder II have a precipitous drop in overall winrate. I personally think the changes are far from insurmountable, and if many other players agree with me I doubt this will effect the win rate all that much because it is player skill that is being reflected rather than the tank itself. We shall see.

Alongside the above however I have to note that the Hetzer is getting something of a buff, which might simply encourage some tankers to move up a tier. The Stug III is also getting a buff – too late now for me to try out. The other big change in the German Tier for me is the reworking of the Panzer IV. This was always due to happen after the revision to matchmaking, and now it hits. Time will tell whether or not the new Panzer IV remains a worthy tank to keep. I am not so bothered by this as I am by the Marder II though, as I think it is a more obvious case of being overpowered.

I really have nothing to say about the changes to the American tanks. The vast majority I have never played. The M3 Lee gets a large increase in gun depression, which is likely to make it tactically more interesting, but given that tank’s reputation I think it will likely be largely ignored. The T2 Medium tank is also getting an overall buff which will make it a slightly tougher opponent. Otherwise though I really have no comment.

On the Soviet side the first thing I notice is that the A-20 is getting buffed! If there ever was a tank that needed this, it is the A-20, and I am sure it will now be a more effective tank. Given I still have the A-20 in my garage, I might even take it out for another spin just to see how it goes. The AT-1 is also getting a mild buff. I have recently just elited it, and am not actually sure it is needed. Otherwise the SU-76 – the Tier III tank destroyer is also getting a buff. That will feed into the conspiracy theories about the Marder II nerf. In contrast the T-50-2 is getting a nerf to its agility, good evidence that Wargaming is not hopefully biased towards the Soviets.

There are a host of changes to higher tier vehicles and artillery I am ignoring in the above. Overall though my concerns I recently posted about stand: I think it is an error go have so many tanks rebalanced at the same time as the new physics, which is likely to drastically change how the maps and tanks play. Ah well, not my decision to make.

Overall, if nothing else I think the length of this post proves I am looking forward to 8.0 despite a few reservations. See you on the other side.

Well, I have played a few games in the Jagdpanzer IV, and I have now a theory as to one reason why this vehicle generates such negative reputation. When I bought the Jagdpanzer IV I had, on other vehicles, already researched the engines, the radios, and the first upgraded gun. Usually one cannot fully upgrade a tank without first getting upgraded tracks – but on this machine I couldn’t upgrade anything. Not only that the only equipment I could use was my pair of Binocular Telescopes. Everything else was forbidden due to low load capacity.

What this means in practice is that those first games while you acquire the four thousand experience necessary to upgrade the tanks are purely in the “stock” tank, and there is basically no way at all to buff it. It has taken me seven matches to manage that – and though I have had some good matches the overall experience is one of frustration as I know this tank could be better – only it is prevented from being so.

Of course now I have upgraded the tracks I have now had a mass upgrade, which I think will suddenly make this tank alot more effective. However, first impressions are often hard to shift – and not for the first time I am wondering if how folks initially encounter the Jagdpanzer IV then colours everything that comes thereafter.

Quite by accident last night I was online in World of Warcraft when Mists of Panderia officially launched. It was a rather subtle thing – a small entry in the chat box in a pinkish colour that said simple “Mists of Panderia has launched”. I didn’t actually stay online all that much longer – just long enough to see someone get a Realm First for Herbalism. It was a curious experience. I heard from a work colleague of the massive crush of people diving into the new content and new Pandareen, but I just toodled along in my own little journey almost oblivious. Officially though I suppose I can now say that I was present at an expansion launch. Go me, or something.

Given this event MMO Roundup has a post collating some farewell thoughts on Cataclysm, and I have to say that Tzufit’s write-up “Did Deathwing Win?” hits the nail spot on the head with the following: “We returned to our homes to find that they weren’t the same anymore, that beloved friends had died, and favorite places were forever ruined.” All in all there is a great deal there that correctly describes all the reasons I stopped playing Warcraft before Cataclysm even launched.

In my own playing for the last few days I have been reminded of both good and bad points regarding Warcraft, and regarding Blizzard. In particular I dislike the way achievements have now become shared over accounts. It seems to me to be a “Blizzard way or the high-way” scenario when I cannot honestly imaging separating out account-level and character-specific achievements would have been all that difficult. Very much the same attitude as the whole Real ID fiasco, even if not of the same severity. On the whole so far I am enjoying being back so far.

 

For quite a while now there has been one skirmish in LOTRO that I have not played: Attack at Dawn. This was one of a pair of skirmishes added a few patches ago, that was meant to be somewhat more “challenging” than regular skirmishes.

Tonight, along with a friend, I ran it for the first time. Other than my soldier starting things off a little soon by attracting some aggro right at the start it went easy enough – though I believe both are soldiers are in pretty good shape by this point, as are we, which makes the entire thing run smoother of course. Also, we only ran it as Tier I since this was our first time through.

For those that do not know the skirmish basically takes the shape of an attack on Dol Dinen. You start at the bottom and work your way up, passing through various gates and the like. At one point you have to dodge incoming catapult stones which makes an interesting addition. In the final fight at the end, while taking down the boss and having flame pots lobbed at you, you also have to ensure no goblin scouts sneak out. This was not actually too difficult to do this time around.

All in all I think now we have done this skirmish once we are likely to do it occasionally again in the future, and maybe try to increase the difficulty. In the meantime though I am very much in pre-expansion mode for LOTRO, occasionally running a few deeds.  Of course the Harvest Festival has just launched, giving me something to else to do for a time.