I last played a Tier II SPG back last April, not long after I started playing World of Tanks. That was the Sturmpanzer I Bison, and in truth I cannot remember much of the experience. Only that for the first few games I did not realise I needed to press the shift key to get the arty-strategic view. So now I have played a few matches on its Soviet equivalent, the SU-18, I found I could not really compare the two. It is like a re-introduction to the low-tier SPG world.
The first thing I needed to adjust to, which I knew would be the case, is that low-tier SPGs just do not have the range of the higher tiers. Movement is required just to be able to hit stuff. Movement is fairly slow, but the SU-18 did not feel totally incapable. To be sure it will not be winning any sprint races, but it sufficed.
Secondly I knew the gun would fire a lot quicker – higher-tier SPGs are also known for there very slow reloads. Indeed, with the SU-18 I regularly encountered a problem I generally do not on the Hummel – running out of ammunition. It only carries twenty shells, and with a potential reload speed of more than 8/min (though my crew were not quite that good) it is easy to run out.
Finally, I knew the shells would themselves do far less damage, comparatively, to what I am used to. Even with the relatively thin armour of the lower-tiers. This also proved to be the case.
What I did not expect, though perhaps I should have done, was the effect of having essentially no blast radius, and therefore no splash damage. This means one generally has to be quite accurate – and frankly the SU-18 is not just not quite accurate enough for this not to be a little annoying. Against Tier IV tanks especially there is no margin for error. Open-topped vehicles though can be reliably one-shotted if directly.
At the end of the day this is a Tier II SPG. I always viewed it as a stepping-stone, and that is what it is to me. After 11 matches I have won 6 and killed ten enemy tanks. Some lower-tier tanks do make a statement to be kept around, but for me the SU-18 is not one of them. Onto the reason I played the SU-18, the SU-26.