Monthly Archives: April 2013

Historically the T1 HT was very much a prototype tank, to give the USA an initial experience in heavy tanks. As such it had all sorts of shortcomings. In essence it was something of an enlarged M4 Sherman. In World of Tanks both the shortcomings and the similarity to its medium cousin are very much display. However, implemented as it is I have found it a rather solid tank, if played within its role. Of course, in some matches one has no choice but to make do, but most of the time it is possible to utilise this tank’s strengths.

The stock tank requires you to upgrade the suspension immediately. The improved gun can be researched on the M4 Sherman – in fact is the Sherman’s top AP gun – but it is locked behind the turret upgrade. The upgraded turret itself basically only gives you an extra 10m view range – and access to the top gun. While it is possible to grind out the M6 without upgrading the engine to its top variant, you will need that engine on the M6 anyway, and the better engine radically improves this tank’s effectiveness. Finally there is the upgraded radio, which is nice improvement but should definitely be the final module to be upgraded – again it carries over to the M6.

Physically the T1 Heavy is quite a large tank, and it was designed very much with American hull-down tactics in mind. Practically speaking this means all the armour is on the front, and more of the front part of the turret than on the frontal hull. That said the frontal hull armour is pretty reasonable for its tier, and if one can mostly peek over cover or terrain with the turret one can expect a fair few bounces. The rest of the turret armour is ok too, though not as strong as the front – but the side armour on the hull is very thin indeed – basically everything you come across can penetrate it – the Tier V derp guns included which can mean a lot of hp lost and injured crew members. This makes angling tricky – angle too much and you expose those vulnerable sides making the entire exercise irrelevant. In the top generally it is best just to keep the front forward facing and do one’s best to avoid getting flanked. In built up areas it can be possible to angle using cover to hide the sides. The best way to angle this tank though is make use of the gun depression.

There are tanks with better gun depression, but the T1 HT has enough that, on a slope,  effectively increase the angle on the front of your armour. It is not always possible to pull off, but is always something to keep an eye out for. The T1 Heavy also is quite a tall tank, and the combination of height and angling creates some interesting tactical potentials – I have not yet found an easier to tank to fire between the train carriages and the tracks from the town side on the Prokhorovka map, for example. Other times it means it can use a steep slope effectively as cover whereas another tank, even one with better gun depression, would expose too much hull before being able to take a shot.

The first gun for the T1 Heavy isn’t precisely bad for the tier – it has reasonable penetration and a high rate of fire, if distinctly average damage. The upgraded weapon only moderately increases the damage, boosts the penetration by a quarter or so, and increases the rate of fire by nearly three rounds/minute. It can let off a shot every 3.5 seconds or so with a well-trained crew. This means you have the potential to make 2 or 3 shots to an opponent’s one. However to really take advantage of this rate of fire you need the top engine. Even with the second engine the tank feels sluggish, and while even the top engine will not help it win any races the tank becomes a lot more responsive and agile. It means it becomes much easier to emerge from cover or up a slope, take one or more shots at the enemy, and retreat and reposition with relative ease. It also makes it easier to relocate if one suddenly realises one is about to get over-run.

In a Tier V match this tank has the ability to rule the battlefield – but it cannot do so unsupported. By itself the T1 Heavy is always at risk to being flanked. With support however it has the firepower to ruin the day of any other tank it encounters. Only the front of the AT 2 can reliably shrug it off – but no Tier V tank should be going head to head with that particular TD. Lower-tier tanks particularly can be easy pickings as the high-rate of fire allow almost everything at Tier III or IV to be killed in two or three shots.  At Tier VI the frontal armour starts to become less reliable, but it is not entirely useless – especially if you can get the enemy to shoot at your turret. Generally the upgraded gun retains its effectiveness pretty well at the higher tier, though it will bounce more often. With Tier VII tanks this tank is obviously overmatched, but if it can get into a flanking position that high rate of fire again will make a mess.

The T1 HT also has that one great advantage of often being under-estimated. I must admit I did this a bit when I first started playing too. The KV-1 has the better general reputation, and to be fair it is a tank with fewer weaknesses. The difference is that while the T1 HT does have weaknesses (size, poor side armour) it has some considerable strengths as compensation, whereas the KV-1 is “just” a generally good all-round tank with no major flaws, but perhaps also a corresponding lack in a singular strength. Plenty of players do not always appreciate this point however, especially perhaps a lot of newer players, which one still encounters in some numbers at Tier V.

I have very much enjoyed my spell in the T1 Heavy. It has helped teach me a lot about the hull-down tactics of the American tanks. My own record it in it also very flattering – 57 games played with 36 victories and 70 kills, and I have accrued 7 Snipers, 2 Steel Walls, and 1 Top Gun medal. I also attained the Ace Tanker badge. The one low-point is I only survived in just 15 matches, but this perhaps says something about the weakness of the tank. That thin side armour makes it an easy tank to kill, given the opportunity – but as the Steel Walls also show it is sometimes possible to soak up a fair bit of damage.

I am now selling this tank on and putting the crew into the M6, as I take my second step on the US heavy line.


I must admit to rather liking the title of this weekend’s special, which runs the standard Saturday morning to Tuesday morning. Mostly this offer is about Tier VI tanks. The one fly in the ointment there is not really all that much to appeal to newer players this week, as even the non-tank related portion of the offer is something more experienced players will care more about. All tanks involved in this offer are available for a  50% discount and have a 40% earnings bonus.

To begin with there are three Tier VI heavies involved – the T-150, M6, and ARL 44. I have not yet played any of these tanks – I missed out on the T-150 as I already had the KV-3 researched when the T-150 was added due to the re-organisation of the Soviet heavy tank lines in 7.5. As luck would have it I bought the M6 during the 2nd Anniversary special – but I think I am still ahead as my savings from the equipment sale are more than my savings from the tank being on sale this weekend. I might well take advantage of the earnings bonus and get a few games in on the M6.

There are also three Tier VI mediums involved – and they are the VK3001H, VK3001P, and VK3601H, the traditional trio of German mediums. All are pretty effective tanks in the right hands, though the VK3001H is my favourite – and I will probably play a few battles in it. If you are faced by which to get the simple consideration is the VK3001P is a sniper, the VK3601H is a brawler, and the VK3001H is a skirmisher.

There are four Tier VI light tanks available – the 59-16, AMX 12t, T21, and VK2801. I could theoretically acquire the VK2801, but most likely will not. I do not have any experience of these myself, but having faced them I was say the AMX 12t and VK2801 seem to be greater threats on the battlefield than the other two – even post-nerf.

There are also three Tier VI tank destroyers included – the AT 8, Churchill Gun Carrier, and ARL V39. Again I have no personal experience of any of these. I will probably use this opportunity to acquire the ARL V39, which I have opposed a few times in battle and can be quite effective if it does not get flanked. The two British entrants I have not really seen much on the battlefield so I cannot really comment.

Finally two Tier IV SPGs are included – the SU-5 and AMX 105AM. No interest for me here personally. I have been killed by the SU-5 enough times to know it can dish out the damage very effectively – the AMX 105AM is encountered much less often so has not stood out in quite the same way.

So that is the tanks wrapped up, but there are two further items to this offer. Firstly each Confederate medal awarded comes with a bonus of fifteen thousand credits, and secondly there is double crew experience for the duration of the special.

So overall a good selection of vehicles involved, but the extras generally speak to more experienced players with not much for the newbie. Otherwise a very good offer – B.

These are my early impressions of the 8.5 update, based solely upon the 16 games I played yesterday and this evening. Before I go onto the changes in the game itself, it appears since I last loaded in Jimbo’s Crosshair mod it has been expanded to include some XVM stat changes on the after battle report and service record. I had been thinking of adding in the XVM mod or another stat mod for just those additions, but had never gotten around to doing so. Now I no longer need to bother, but it does mean that I cannot judge the changes Wargaming apparently made to the after battle screen.

1 – It didn’t register that they were introducing a Encounter mapmode to Prokhorovka. So far I played it twice, both from the southern starting position, for one victory and one loss. At first exposure I think it feels okay – the base is in the town and the starting positions are almost exactly the same as for the standard battle.

2 – The new status at the top showing the symbols of tanks does not bother me – but neither do I think it adds very much. I am more likely to glance at the tank lists than I am at the tank symbols at the top of the screen.

3 – I have not yet purchased any premium consumables, I will most likely wait for an offer to do so.

4 – The new cheaper credit camouflages are a very good thing. The change here has been twofold – first the seven day camouflage now costs a quarter of the 30-day camouflage, whereas it used to be half the price of the 30-day; and second the overall cost has been slashed – heavily. Under the old system I recall at Tier III it used to cost 45k or 90k credits for a 7 or 30 day camo respectively. Now at Tier III it costs 7500 credits for a 7-day and 30k for a 30-day. I have already made use of this and given my Jagdpanther and KV-1S 7-day camos. Overall I see this has Wargaming further reducing the pay to win element of the game – for higher tiers especially camos could be expensive (and 7-day camos even more so under the old system where you got less than half the value). Now the credit cost has been brought down – 75k credits (I think) overall to equip a Tier X for all three camos for a week, for example, does not seem unreasonable.

5 – I have yet to play the Pearl River map

6 – Fewer new tanks around than I expected, even at the low tiers.

7 – Assault map-mode in Sand River is essentially opposite of what it used to be, with the attackers starting in the north and the defenders’ base being located in the town.

Given my limited exposure my initial impressions are positive.


I must admit, I am finding it hard to get excited by the Sixth Anniversary Festival that is currently taking place in LOTRO. Petty as it may seem there is one aspect of the entire affair which sucks the life out of it for me – the lack of a new horse. Yes, yes, yes, I know this is a very shallow thing. There are two particular reasons why I like collecting the horses.

The first is that I have always enjoyed collecting the new horses at the various festivals. With the exception of the 4-year Grindaversary horse-collecting has always been something that gives me a focus to enjoy the festival without being too much effort. Not me for me grinding out most of the deeds. Plus I think Turbine generally does a good job on the horses, putting some care and effort into making them look good and thematic.

The second is that I have always enjoyed the “horse-races”. These are actually time-trials rather than actual races, but still they have tickled my fancy since I first paid attention to festivals. These have been even more fun playing alongside my wife, right from when I first introduced her to LOTRO shortly after the European servers went free to play. Of course until recently one was required to do the horse-races to get the festival horses, which also necessitated them when collecting the horses.

Without a new horse there is just less impetus to dive in and get things done. Indeed this time around we really found we only had one aim – the Eriador and Moria cartographer deeds achieved by collecting the various maps. We polished that off in just two short play sessions while Melian was taking a nap. Now I am really struggling to find something else festival related of interest to me at all.

On another note, I also find myself a little concerned at this lack of a horse. As far as I remember this is the only festival in over two years not to have an associated mount that could be earned by ways other than a random drop. Turbine’s license on the Lord of the Rings IP is only confirmed until 2014 (with an option until 2017, but to the best of my knowledge we have no idea of what conditions might apply to that). It might be that Turbine is starting to develop fewer resources to LOTRO in the expectation that the game is going to be up. Just by itself it does not mean much, but given things like the delay of the Rohan instance cluster it starts to add up to a picture of things not quite being right. Watch this space, as it were.

There are currently three German medium tanks – and a fourth is added in 8.5. However at some point there will again be only three German mediums, as at some point the VK3601H will be converted to a heavy tank. Mind you, this is a fairly low priority as it has been on the books for a long time. So for the foreseeable future it is a heavy tank masquerading as a medium. I should clarify though, this is of course a half-way house sort of vehicle, so it is not entirely out of place as a medium. It is also currently seems to be the most popular Tier VI medium tank, and this has been the case for basically as long as I have been playing at this Tier.

There is, however, one element of the VK3601H which I have no experience of, because I have never equipped it. That is one of its guns, the Konisch. This gun requires premium ammo to be effective, and essentially I never wanted to be bothered with that. I ended up preferring the 8.8cm KwK 36 L/56, which is the same gun I use on the VK3001H. For me this gun embodies the most versatility.

Probably the most obvious feature of the VK3601H is its frontal armour, which compares favourably with many other Tier VI heavies. This means the tank can take a lot of damage to the front. The side armour is considerably weaker so it is vulnerable to flanking. This means in more open terrains you may wish to hang back a bit to ensure the damage hits off the front, but one has to be careful angling otherwise one can expose too much of the weaker sides. In more enclosed environments the situation reverses – if one sets up correctly you can get some angle on the frontal armour whilst keeping the sides protected by cover.

One of the reasons why this tank is vulnerable to getting flanked is that it does not have the speed or agility to quickly reposition itself. Whilst 40km/h is not slow, it can be outclassed by most other mediums. Likewise its track traverse rate is nothing particularly special, and the turret traverse of the upgraded turret is positively slow. Circling a target is usually an unworkable idea.

Overall I think the tank this is most similar to is that other Tier VI favourite – the KV-1S. In many respects these two tanks approach the same spot, but from the other side. Both are tanks on development tracks heading in the opposite direction, and here in the middle they almost meet. What they both have in common, above is, is a certain versatility which I think always give them a role in whichever battlefield they might be dropped into. The other tanks this one is inevitably compared to are the VK3001H and the VK3001P, but really they are very difficult tanks to compare. The VK3001P is a better sniper/flanker, but a much poorer brawler. The VK3001H is a better all-round medium tank, but lacks the ability to take a beating like the VK3601H.

My record with the VK3601H is quite successful – 45 battles with 32 victories and 66 kills. Along the way I have earned one Defender, one Steel Wall, and six Sniper medals. This is no doubt a good tank, but in the final analysis I have had more pure fun with the VK3001H.

Wargaming put an announcement across all servers today that they have a security breach and there is some potential that some usernames and passwords have been stolen. As a result they are engaging on a major push for people to change their passwords, and to aid this they have offered a 300 gold reward for changing your password.

This strikes me as a good move – and should remove most of the annoyance. Three hundred gold is the full price of a garage slot or barracks enlargement, so it is also a useful amount. I have changed mine and had my gold balance credited, so I suggest everyone make use of it. Besides, changing a password is good practice anyway.

The Special Offer this weekend on the EU server is all based around Tank Destroyers, which automatically gets a smile on my face. While this is hardly as an extravagant offer as the 2nd Anniversary Special it is a good offer with a strong internal theme.

To begin with there is a 30% discount on all Tier VII Tank Destroyers: Jagdpanther, T25 AT, T25/2, SU-152, SU-100M1, AMX AC Mle. 1946, and AT 7. In addition all of these except the Jagdpanther will get a 30% earnings’ bonus – and the reason the Jagdpanther is excluded is because it already has a 30% earnings’ bonus as it is Tank of the Month. In addition the Tier VII Soviet premium tank destroyer SU-122-44 is also on a 30% discount, making it cost around 4725 gold. Finally the Tier III tank destroyers have a 100% earnings’ bonus – the Marder II, SU-76, T82, Renault UE 57, and Valentine AT. This is a very good selection of higher tier and lower tier vehicles, so really all sorts of players can benefit. In particular any newer players that got caught up in the special can reasonably push to get a Tier III TD, or may indeed already have one, and the bonus there will help out their credit balance. What I know about the premium on offer is only second-hand, but general I have heard good things.

Of course, if you do not like tank destroyers the above is kind of useless. However, there are a couple of other elements to this offer which all will benefit from. Firstly the medal associated with this offer is the Defender medal, and each one will earn a 15k credit bonus. In addition there is a 50% discount on emblems this offer for those interested in cosmetics. Finally the first victory with each vehicle will earn a triple experience bonus instead of the usual double.

Sometimes the offers we get are too focused on newer or older players, or are just all over the place. This one though is very tightly put together, and I think it is a very intelligent set of bonuses. I would give it a solid A.

One of the “features” of being Aspergic is one tends to systemise things. One of the ways this manifests with me and World of Tanks is I record, on a spreadsheet, my daily record, both the overall record and what it is in each tank I play that particular day. This means I can look back and discover when my current losing streak began, and today I realised it is a month old. On 19th March I had a good day, a 10-3 record which had been preceded by a full week of winning daily records, in the month until that point there had only been three days played which did not have a winning record. On the 20th March however it appears things started to change, and days in which I had losing or drawn records became much more common. However, looking at the information more closely over this lengthy period and a slightly different picture emerges. Look at the below totals (to US readers, beware the different date format) – warning much navel-gazing ahead 😀 :

20/3/13: 0-3
21/3/13: 1-3
22/3/13: 1-4
23/3/13: 8-9-1
24/3/13: 3-3
25/3/13: 0-0
26/3/13: 2-4

This is the first period of the losing streak, and I very much have a losing record in this period – by this point in time I was 15-26-1, and given this occurred over about a week it is not really a surprise that it has stuck in my memory.

27/3/13: 13-4
28/3/13: 4-2
29/3/13: 5-1-1
30/3/13: 10-8
01/4/13: 10-2
02/4/13: 0-0
03/4/13: 0-0

Things then turned around in the next week – in this week I had a 42-17-1 record, which is very healthy which ever way you look at it. Immediately thereafter, however, I have a hiatus (for good reasons), but in as much as that affected my gaming it clearly broke a good patch.

04/4/13: 4-4
05/4/13: 5-4
06/4/13: 6-3
07/4/13: 1-4
08/4/13: 3-4
09/4/13: 2-3
10/4/13: 8-8
11/4/13: 6-6

In the next week we have a struggle. My record is 35-36, almost a draw. I recall this week feeling very much like a grind, and it clearly was.

12/4/13: 8-17
13/4/13: 6-9
14/4/13: 0-0
15/4/13: 7-5
16/4/13: 7-4
17/4/13: 4-6

This is the 2nd Anniversary weekend, and subsequently, over which period I have a 32-41 record. A massive losing record, mostly concentrated in that first day of the special.

However, what is my record for the overall period? Well, Overall: 124-120-2, or a very slight winning record – but it has felt like I have been losing constantly for about a month.

How to reconcile this? Well in reality this is not very difficult, apart from the second portion of the period concerned I have had three weeks of losing records, which adds up. Moreover even though I do come in just about 50% for the entire period, I am used to winning 5-6% more than that – it seems a small difference but over several games it gets magnified. Finally in certain tanks I have had some quite long losing streaks, and once again that has magnified the effect of this difficult patch.

What to do about it? Well, that is very hard to say indeed. Part of the solution has to be to stop worrying about it – which I sometimes find difficult to do given how aware of the stats I often am. Beyond that is not to try to force something that is not there. In regular play my great weakness is still recklessness, and when I become a little impatient with how things are going I do try to do more. Also, in all honesty, I probably had a run of success prior to now that went on a bit too long – something that likely caused be to be more reckless in any case.

I get the feeling that if this is an episode I could learn a lot from, to hopefully improve myself as a player. On the other hand I feel it could also sour the game a little for me. Hopefully not.

Update: Tonight I went 9-7.

Sometimes I manage not just terrible puns, but terrible rhymes. This rhyme is brought to you by Charlie and the Numbers, one of Melian’s favourite “shows” on Baby TV.

In the event, we now have the patch notes for the 8.5 update, which is going to hit the EU/NA servers probably sometime next week, and the Russian server tomorrow. In the main this follows what we already knew.

The primary feature of the update is the second line of German medium tanks. This will go from the Panzer II Ausf. G and include both the Panzer III/IV and VK3002DB, all to way up to Tier X which is crowned with an early version of the iconic Leopard 1 tank. In addition there is a German Tier VII light following on from the VK2801, and a new set of Soviet light tanks at Tiers II, III, and IV.

There is a new map being added called Pearl River, and several “gameplay fixes” for Redshire, El-Halluf, Karelia, Prokhorovka, and Sand River. More intriguingly there is also mention of improvements for Assault mode for Malinkova, Karelia, and Sand River. Malinovka Assault was removed from the standard rotation in 8.4, so I wonder if this means it is coming back in 8.5.

The other big feature of the 8.5 update is that premium consumables will be purchasable for credits, at the 1 gold = 400 credits exchange rate already in game. This means at full price a premium consumable will cost twenty thousand credits – pricey, but if used intelligently along with the regular consumables I think will offer something extra for random battles. However I imagine the driver of this change is are Tank Companies and Clan Warfare – as it means the last direct “Pay to Win” element of World of Tanks is removed. Now it becomes “Pay to Compete with Less Grind” which is more of a mouthful. Note that the proposed fire-extinguisher changes are not going to happen in 8.5. Certain restrictions on non-premium accounts are also being removed: non-premium accounts will be able to form 3-man platoons and create tank companies. On another tank, temporary camos and inscriptions will have their credit price reduced.

A potentially significant change is the matchmaker is being tweaked – ‘Scout’ Light tanks are now going to be balanced against each other in a match in a similar fashion to SPGs (but will not be under the dynamic arty hardcap). I am looking forward to this as having 3 scout tanks on one side and none on the other can be very un-balancing. What is a ‘Scout’ tank however – well the patch notes include a full list, but essentially all Tier VI+ light tanks, and all Tier IV and V light tanks which can participate in higher-tier battles than the regular matchmaking.

There is some tank rebalancing, but nothing that massively stands out. Some new after-battle stats are being added, but again this reads like an incremental change more than anything else. The usual list of fixes.

Overall this looks to be a good solid update. My own plans are to start work on the new German medium line fairly soon after release, and to play around with perhaps carrying a premium consumable in place of a regular consumable on some vehicles. We shall see how that turns out.

Lurking behind feared and iconic vehicles such as the Panzer IV, Panther, and Tiger is the little Panzer I. It is very important to remember that World of Tanks is not an exact historical simulation, but it does give a good sense of actually how poor the Panzer I was compared to later tanks. This is something it has in common, of course, with a lot of interwar vehicles – what always surprises me is that the better known Panzer III and IV tanks comprised only a small number of the tanks involved in those most successful of Blitzkrieg campaigns – Poland and France – where the vast majority of tanks were the Panzer I and II.

I must admit I did not feel quite at home in the Panzer I. While it manages a respectable (for Tier II) top speed of around 40km/h, it feels a slow 40km/h. This is almost certainly because with its armour-piercing machine-gun – which does not have good penetration – it has to get close the enemy. All three guns for this tank are armour-piercing machine-guns, and all are quite inaccurate due to the recoil and low penetration. This means getting close to the enemy is the only way to go. Even so there are some tanks – a T18 for example, which it will have difficulty damaging. As a final weakness even with upgraded tracks it not quite fast and agile enough to circle the same T18 – which means without friends you very quickly get a dead Panzer I. As an example of the weakness of the gun in a recent game 49 hits on an enemy M2 Light equalled just 98 damage.

This is probably why I have not really adapted well to this tank. It requires fairly aggressive play to be able to do anything, but does not have the necessary punch to take on many targets by itself. There are no doubt many out there with more success at this tank than me. If this were a higher Tier tank, I might play it a little more to try to find how better how it ticks, as it is however I am done with this tank for the time being. My final tally is 12 games with 5 victories and 8 kills – hardly the most flattering statline, but sometimes that just happens.

Indeed the overall impression is of a tank that is just not quite good enough – and all the flaws I mentioned are address I understand in its successor the Panzer I Ausf. C -a tank I am very much looking forward to trying out.