For some time now I have, every now and then, managed to get eight kills in a battle. It is not something that happens with very great frequency, but something that has started not to be a total rarity. I had my first eight kill battle quite a few months ago, however no matter how hard I tried I did not manage to go one further.
Until a match late last week in Marder II, which now proudly has nine kills in a single game. This is entirely about good fortune however, rather than great skill, as it was a match where I played pretty much as I always play.
The map was Prokhorovka, a standard battle with the northern start position, and a Tier III match. In my Marder II I have essentially only one way I play either the northern or southern start – I go up or down the western road. This is because of the plentiful bushes and trees. In general actually I find this a good approach to use in most low-mid tier tank destroyers (I do not yet have a Tier VII or higher TD to try it), especially as these tank destroyers tend to be quite small. This makes them easy to hide amidst all the bushes. It is a stratagem that also relies a little on one’s team-mates, but in a way that one is seldom disappointed.
This match, like so many others, I moved into the column of bushes and started to advance southward. The trick is not to advance too far. Also, I very rarely bother trying to snipe across the field to targets that may reveal themselves close to the railway tracks. Generally speaking the chances of hitting are too small and the risk of breaking cover too great. The role of one’s team-mates is to spot the enemy. In a Tier III battle one can generally rely on at least one or two tanks to race ahead to do just that. In higher Tier matches people start to learn more caution. This also means one can sometimes rely on enemy tanks to race ahead as well, and thereby revealing themselves.
The particular trick here is to allow one’s team-mates to spot and, wherever possible, to fire through several bushes. When one fires you lose the benefits of cover from all trees/bushes within 15m – an effect that is worse the bigger gun you have. By generally firing through several bushes one ensures a bush remains more than 15m away, and thereby obscuring the view.
All in all this is pretty much what happened the first portion of this battle. Two light tanks went ahead of me, in due course lighting up a few enemy tanks. I managed to get some shots off, killing a couple before the two scouts were themselves killed.
Tier III Prokhorovka matches in my Marder II generally seem to follow a certain rhythm. There is the initial positioning, and then the initial exchange of fire resulting with the overly rash tanks of both sides on the western flank being destroyed. Those more cautious on both sides now can no longer see each other. Some people will now engage in a bit of across-the-field sniping. Others will wait, or perhaps will begin to advance down the line. After a suitable pause this is generally what I do. There are a number of bumps along the road I try to make use of to provide extra cover, and I also keep just to the west of the road itself, which is slightly raised. This covers me from any enemy.
In this particular battle relatively few tanks of my side had gone to the west, and it appeared relatively few of the enemy tanks went to east. The difference between the two flanks now was that the eastern flank, with its race to the hill, is generally a more aggressive place to play. This meant my team were now on the offensive, whereas on my own flank the enemy had not obviously advanced. I was moving cautiously, sometimes stopping and waiting the all-important three seconds for my Binocular Telescopes to take effect. I was trying to advance to one of the wrecks of my own team, about half-way down the map. This I managed successfully enough, and just about this time one of the opponents attacks also starting to attack – a M2 MT.
Now I had my bit of luck. I usually fear the M2 MT and assume it has its HE gun – which can one-shot me. This tank however was clearly not fully researched, as it had an earlier weapon. A weapon which hit me, hurt me, but could not manage to kill me before I killed him. No doubt if the tank had been fully researched and the opposing player able to aim at point-blank range (which, around wrecks and WoT’s sometimes weird aiming effects when one is not in sniper mode, is not necessarily certain) I would be dead. I was not.
The battle now changed again. On the eastern flank a few of my team-mates were now starting to cross the railway lines and attack the enemy base directly. This prompted several enemy tanks at the southern end of the road on my flank to move to face this new threat. At the southern end of the road there are a very large number of bushes about a wide area. It makes it an excellent hiding place for defensive play – but it is easy for several tanks to, in effect, be taken out of the battle. This is what happened here – I think 4-5 enemy tanks basically had barely participated in the battle at all until now. This meant instead of being 15-15 we had been 15 fighting 10 – which is no doubt one reason why my team was now winning.
At this point I think I had three or four kills. The rest followed now in quick succession. Really all it entailed was finding a reasonable firing position and then killing the enemy tanks as and when they revealed themselves as they sought to defend the base. It was not quite a turkey-shoot (a couple more of our tanks died – one enemy Panzer III A was very effective and using the rolling landscape to his advantage) but it was definitely a matter of mopping up.
Unfortunately I didn’t take any screenshots, so I cannot show the final scores. As I said at the start, other than the number of kills I did nothing terribly exceptional during this match. Really what I think it all came down to was knowing my tank, knowing the map, having a good strategy and executing it well – and one rather enormous piece of luck when facing that M2 MT. Always remember the luck. The difference between playing well and playing poorly is not just about how many mistakes you make, it is also about being able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the actions and composition of the opposing team.