What to do with the Panzer IV? This has been a very long drawn-out decision for me. I know many people decided to sell their Panzer IV after it was rebalanced (nerfed quite hard) in the 8.0 update. The reason for the nerf was the 7.5 update when the matchmaker was changed to make the battle tiers narrower – suddenly the top gun of the Panzer IV was very overpowered. In the “rebalance” they took away the previous top turret (which was, I believe, an unbuilt variant) along with the top-gun, adding in a more realistic variant instead. They also took away the top-tier gun, but at the same time a series of German guns got a buff including the new top-tier gun for the Panzer IV. A case perhaps of three steps back and one step forwards.
In fact under the current gameplay – in other words with premium rounds for credits – many now also play the Panzer IV using a HE derp gun with premium HEAT shells.
I gave the new version of the Panzer IV quite a few battles over the last few months, using both the AP gun and the HE gun (both with and without HEAT). Two things became clear to me. The first was that I found the new turret to be ugly to look at. The second is that the role of this tank had changed dramatically, and didn’t really offer me something I could not play elsewhere.
Matters of aesthetics do not always factor into decisions about whether or not to keep one particular tank or not. The old Panzer IV was quite average looking, I thought. However, the change from average to ugly (I hate those silly flap-things) I found and continue to find very jarring.
As to the role of the tank – the old Panzer IV was a sniper. Its gun was accurate from long ranges. That was pretty much it. The new tank Panzer IV with its weakened armament is just unable to pull off the same trick. Instead with the AP gun I have found it become more of a sort of flanker – gameplay much more like that of the VK3001P or the VK3001H.
Alternatively with the HE gun it more often becomes, by necessity since HE guns are not too accurate, something of a brawler – only the Panzer IV really does not have either the agility or armour to be a brawler. No doubt, with HEAT especially, it can hit hard – but frankly the Somua SAu-40, Hetzer, and KV-2 feel more natural with the derp for me than the Panzer IV. I cannot help but think the tank is trying to be something it is not. Most of my games therefore have not been using the derp.
Now, some might say I am silly to get rid of a tank that is generally quite effective with HEAT ammo, but I play the Panzer IV for two things – to enjoy and to earn credits. I do not enjoy the HE/HEAT gameplay with the Panzer IV, and with HEAT I do not really earn as well as I can with the AP gun. Others may vary, but a large part of me objects to going flavour of the month if I just do not find it fun.
In many respects I find myself comparing the Panzer IV to the M4 Sherman. They have a very similar choice in weapons. In the M4 Sherman, just as with the Panzer IV, there is a viable HE gun option, which others find very effective but which I struggle with. The faster-firing AP gun though I find quite natural to use, and with which I have found success. The Sherman though has one major advantage over the Panzer IV – its gun depression. Given that I am going to be keeping the Sherman for some time (until the crew have Brothers in Arms at 100% at least) I find it easier to let go of the Panzer IV.
The tank is sold then, after 160 battles. In that time I have 104 victories, with 175 destroyed enemy tanks. I have a series of battle honours, but in reality these are split across two different tanks. I will remember the old Panzer IV fondly. The new Panzer IV, rightly or wrongly, was spoilt for me by what went before. The crew I will send to the VK3601H I have sitting in my garage.