Back at the start of August I said I would probably finish the research in the A-20, a Tier IV Soviet light tank, using free experience (free experience is experience that one can spend on any tank). However, sometime in around the second or third week of August, I gave it another two or three games. I did average in those games, but something happened. I got stubborn. I decided there was no way I was going to let the A-20 “defeat” me by forcing me to use that free experience. I had already succumbed to one Tier IV light – the Pz 38 nA – and I was not going to be bested by a second.
The x5 first victory experience bonus during one of the recent special offers certainly helped. By last night I needed between 1500 and 2000 experience to finish researching the T-34 and elite the tank. That night had started off very badly – four straight losses in my Marder II (only one poor match on my part, but two very bad teams). I did finally get my Marder II victory – and then I tried out the A-20. It was a Tier V match, and my performance seemed average – though I did manage to do a lot of damage to a Tier V tank destroyer. My team won the match and that translated, along with the first victory double bonus, to just over 1600 experience. On the after battle screen I had a heavy feeling this was just not enough. When I was back in the garage I checked. I had 11,500 total experience – exactly enough to research the T-34. I could hardly believe it, so I researched it, and I can now turn my back on the A-20.
At some point I am going to have to do a separate post about the challenges that face the Tier IV light tank driver. However, the A-20 is also its own tank. It is a prototype tank, part of the process of development that led to the great Soviet stalwart of the war, the T-34.
There is no doubt that the A-20 is fast – it can reach speeds of 72kph. That makes it one of the quickest tanks in the game, and when racing along perpendicular to the enemy it brings new meaning to the phrase “speed-tanking”. However, while fast it has all the agility of a brick. It may be with the new physics in 8.0 it will be possible to make this tank dance around the battlefield, but if so I will not be the one doing so. In most lights it is possible to circle a heavy tank – I have managed to do this in the Leopard on several occasions. The A-20 simply does not turn tight enough to manage it.
As one would expect for a light, it does not have the most impressive of armaments. At the top you have a choice of essentially two guns. The first is a slower firing higher penetration weapon that is pretty effective at tier at even slightly above. The second is a much faster firing, automatic loading weapon which in theory can do a lot more damage per minute, but due to lower penetration and big recoil is much harder to work in practice. After trying both I eventually settled on the easier option, though I have a feeling more persistence with the second option may pay off in the long run.
How you play the A-20 inevitably depends on what sort of battle you find yourself in. At Tier you can play this a number of ways, though it is best to try to leave the face to face action to any heavier tanks around. Your armour won’t stand up to all that much. On the other hand you will be able to dish out a very healthy amount of damage yourself. In Tier V matches one can scout, or one can support the heavier tanks, perhaps using your speed to hit an exposed flank. Higher than that though and one pretty much becomes a dedicated scout, and one’s ability to damage opposing tanks drops precipitously.
I didn’t play the A-20 well at all. Sometimes stats can be massaged to tell nothing but lies, but in this case they reflect my experience pretty well. I played 38 matches in the A-20, with a 13-25 win-loss rate (or a 34% win rate). I destroyed only 15 tanks in those 38 battles, never more than two in a battle, with a hit ratio of 45%. I did manage a 1st class badge, but no battle honours. Clearly, I still have a lot to learn about Tier IV lights.