The 8.0 update introduced new physics into World of Tanks, meaning amongst other things one could fall off cliffs, go flying over bumps, and other such fun and games. However, while I have partaken of the some of the flexibility of this new change, the fact is until recently I have not played many tanks with the zip to fully appreciate some of the changes, most of my tanking hitherto having been done in larger and/or slower vehicles. The M3 Stuart was the first light, fast tank I had played since the A-20 (which I stopped playing just before the 8.0 update went live).
The result has been quite a few broken tracks and my only death to falling damage. Along the way I have had a great deal of fun.
The M3 Stuart is a good all-around light tank. In Tiers I-II whether a tank is “light” or “medium” does not really have all that much relevance, and even at Tier III the line can be somewhat blurred. The M3 Stuart however is most definitely a pure light tank, both in terms of actual weight (12 tons) and size. For that it can, when upgraded, go along a decent clip (I found myself hitting 50-60km/hr without even really being aware of it). Its top-gun is a bit on the low-side for damage, but I have had no problems with penetration on same-tier opponents. Higher tier opponents require more careful aiming, and Tier V’s generally one is being a pest tracking whilst waiting for other vehicles on the team to do the heavy-lifting. The rate of fire is perfectly respectable, meaning despite the low alpha damage it is quite possible to get the kills. Armour, of course, is on the low side. All in all though it supports a style of gameplay, in Tier IV and V matches, that is quite effective at preparing somewhat for a Tier IV scout tank. In as much as any of the initial low-tier gameplay in World of Tanks can prepare a new player for the scout-tank role.
The combination and high-speed and light weight has, however, caused me more than once to race over a bump in the ground that I barely notice in my heavier tanks which sends me up in the air and results in a broken track. I am getting better at it – but it has been quite an adjustment to make in my playing.
The high speed does mean this tank has one effective, if dangerous, tactic available to it: ramming. Now, because this tank is quite light if you ram something else at full speed you will take damage. Especially if you are damaged yourself it is possible to be destroyed. Why then do I suggest it? Partly because it is very useful way to reset a capping circle. Also because it can be a useful way to taking out a critical enemy tank. Most definitely however because it is a lot of fun.
The vast majority of my battles in the M3 Stuart have been played platooned with a friend who is also in a M3 Stuart. This has been quite an interesting experiment at showing how effective platooning can be. My friend and I do not go on voice coms so out co-ordination can be a limited. Even so, just a few lines right at the start of a battle setting out an initial strategy can be pivotal. In those matches were there is a lull in the fighting which allow us a little more co-ordination the results can be dramatic.
Two Tier III battles in particular come to mind. The first was Mines, and we were on the southern starting position. We had gone around to the town in the east (because no one else had). The battle was in the late stage – about half the tanks of each side had died, and everyone was defending. So we decided to do a charge to flank some defenders, hoping that if we did it at the same time it would cause the defenders on the ridge to pause a moment or two before deciding which of us to shoot. It worked perfectly and within a minute the match was ours. The second battle was Province, eastern side start. Once again the battle had paused after 8-9 tanks on each side had been destroyed. We had just defeated an enemy assault on the southern end of the hill. We talked about it, shifted to the north and raced across the valley. I climbed the hill whilst the defenders took pot shots at him in the valley. Once I had safely gotten up the hill basically it was all over bar the shouting (though most of the rest of our team did diddly-squat the entire time and camped at the monastery). It was here I actually died whilst falling down a slope trying to flank a D2.
My stats in the M3 Stuart currently are twenty matches with thirteen victories and twenty-nine tanks destroyed. Along the way I also won two Confederate medals and so far have a 1st class tanker medal.
There is no doubt that the M3 Stuart is a very strong candidate to keep around as the added speed offers different gameplay from my other low-tier tanks, and it will provide extra experience in a scout-tank sort of role. Of course, the same can also be said of the Panzer II Luchs …