Monthly Archives: May 2013

Another weekend rolls on, which means another World of Tanks Special. This weekend’s special does have a theme – tanks and vehicles which do a lot of damage – but it is a rather eclectic group  of tanks involved which leads me to suspect not a great deal of effort went into this one. I could be wrong, but it does feel a little higgledy-piggledy. The range of tanks is pretty good however, though there are no mediums or lights involved. It runs the usual Saturday morning to Tuesday morning.

Firstly, let us look at the tanks involved. These are split into two groups. The first group are available at a 50% discount and have a 50% earnings bonus. The tanks are SU-26, AMX 105AM, Somua SAu-40, M7 Priest, T40, Hetzer, AT 2, and Hummel. These range from Tier III to Tier V, and are all tank destroyers or SPGs. The second group is available at a 30% discount and with a 30% earnings bonus. They are the SU-100, KV-2, ARL 44, T29, Panzer VI Tiger P, Black Prince, and IS-2. With the exception of the SU-100 these are all heavy tanks, and they are a mixture of Tier VI and VII.

From the first group I own the SU-26, Hummel, T40, and Hetzer, and I have played the Somua SAu-40. The Somua is probably the most under-rated tank at Tier IV, as its HE derp gun is an absolute terror to face when the tank is played well – and I am not talking about using HEAT ammo either. Indeed, the ordinary HE ammo on the Somua and Hetzer is more than adequate to ruin the lives of the tanks these will come up against. For those worried about these sort of tanks losing effectiveness after the HEAT change in 8.6, basically, don’t. The Hummel is my favourite SPG currently, but given my relatively limited arty play that is not saying much. All the same I think all these lower tier tanks are worth playing.

In the second group I own the KV-2 and Tiger P, thought he Tiger P is as yet unplayed. That may change this weekend. For me though the KV-2 is, in some respects, the star of the show. If ever there were a tank that embodied total destruction is the KV-2 with the howitzer. Don’t bother with HEAT ammo in my experience – an average 900 HE damage will make mincemeat of just about anything it faces. This tank was feared enough by Tier X tanks when it used to encounter them before the matchmaking changes back in 7.5. Of the others I cannot really comment. I have seen all of them played well, and all of them played poorly.

There are a few elements of the offer that do not directly involve tanks. The first is that each Confederate Medal earned during the offer will net a fifteen thousand credit bonus. Also crew retraining (but NOT skill retraining) and inscriptions are at a 50% discount. Finally there is double crew experience for each battle. Once again I note that crew experience bonuses are becoming very common, not that I am complaining.

Overall this offer feels a bit undirected. Nevertheless is covers a good selection of tanks and tiers, with some reasonable extras. I would give it a B.

The below passage is in character – an out of character entry follows it

“Lydia, what do you think of Iona?”

My housecarl shrugs. “Good training, and she she has seen her fair share of scraps, but not as tough as she thinks.” Lydia pulls a face. “Are you thinking of asking her to accompany you?”

“Surely you would like a rest.” Lydia does not dignity that with a reply. After a few moments, I chuckle. “No, not seriously. I just want to know her soundness.”

Lydia’s stance settles. “I have spoken to her for only an hour or so my liege.”

“I know that Lydia.” I saw, flat. She accepts the rebuke.

“You are her thane, as you are mine. She knows little, but has heard about how we killed the dragon at the south gate some weeks back. She knows are you someone special. She is yours.”

I smile. “What are her thoughts on the war?”

“She defaults to the Stormcloaks – but then Riften is a Stormcloak ally and that is how her loyalties have been directed.” A look of distate passes across Lydia’s face. “Jarl Laila is an ineffective inspiration.”


“Jarl Balgruuf does not yet choose to stand with or against the Empire, but he does stand for Skyrim. We all knew that. I don’t think Iona knows what Jarl Laila stands for.”

I nod slowly. “Good. Tell her what she needs to know, and I will let you judge where that line is. As to my needs, I need her to stay here, guard this house, and let us know what is happening in The Rift. Tell her also I will ask Mjoll to help further her training.”

“Yes my liege.” Lydia turns, and walks down the stairs. I lean back into my chair and glance around the upper floor of this new house. A curious combination, dining room and bedroom upstairs together with no barrier or separation. Nevetheless Honeyside is a pleasant surprise, an unexpected bonus of this journey through the Rift. Of coure tomorrow I have to go north and help Mercer track down his old flame. That was rather less agreeable, but I can see the necessity. I can only it does not delay my arrival in Korvunjund for too long.

I pour myself a goblet of mead. Really the Thieves’ Guild is in something of a mess. Mercer appears to have been a most ineffective leader, but replacing him just now would be foolish in the extreme. No, this crew of cheats needs to be lead to the change I desire, to choose it themselves rather than have the change forced upon them.

From below I hear the murmur of voices, Lydia and Iona talking. Becoming Thane here was not in my plan for today, but it serves a purpose. Hopefully I will be able to obscure my Imperial connections longer because of it. Speaking of Imperials, once we have retrieved this Jagged Crown I need to return to Markath and tell Muiri I have killed her former lover and friend. I lick my lips. Tell her that Alain died begging like a dog, and that Nilsine … that I mocked her with her sister’s death before re-uniting them, letting father and mother wake to a daughter slaughtered in her own bed, blood spattered everywhere. Torbjorn asked me days ago to find an Amulet of Arkay for him … now would, I think, be a good time to complete that little errand, now he and his wife have two daughters to mourn.

I finish the wine. Time perhaps to perfect some enchantments before I rest.


I am now level 51 in Skyrim, and so unlocking the Steam Achievement “Master”. Yet there is still so much to do. I had a number of quests leading me to Windhelm and Riften, which I decided to do before continuing with the Civil War quest “The Jagged Crown”. What I did not expect was one of these has resulted me being named Thane of Riften and getting my second town-house. My character is becoming quite the property magnate now with town-houses in Whiterun and Riften, an estate with a Manor on Hjaalmarch, and title to an estate (with no building as yet) in The Pale. Logistically though this is a great boon, as it gives me a place to stash various gear and materials I gather. The house can also be outfitted with both an Enchanting and Alchemy facilities. All to the good.

Becoming a Thane though has resulted in my fourth Housecurl. I have, essentially, lost count of the number of potential followers I now have scattered across Skyrim. The game leaves plenty of options for companions, I will give it that – and yet at first blush it does not seem that Iona would be any different from Lydia. It almost seems like an excess.

In terms of development I have my first combat skill levelled now to 100 – One-Handed Weapons. For most regular fights now, or against less able opponents, I am now tending to use the Conjuration Spell Bound Battleaxe. This is enabling me both to level Conjuration and Two-Handed weapons. Indeed I am making some effort to raise all the magic skills, though Restoration and especially Illusion are proving tricky to do. I am not putting any Perks into these secondary skills – Perks for me I currently reserved for my remaining primary combat skills (Block and Heavy Armour) and then for Enchanting. Once I have my Enchanting to 100 I am going to plough some perks into it and then craft and Enchant a set of Daedric Armour.

Mostly though this game still has the wonderful ability to disrupt my plans and ensure I start running off on a quest in a totally different direction that one I envisaged. Wonderful.


Not that long ago I wrote about a battle in my KV-5, where I took over 15000 potential damage. Rather amazingly I have just played a match in my KV-4 where I have crashed through that record by over 2000 potential damage, mostly courtesy of an enemy Jagdpanther II.

The map is Karelia Assault, a Tier VIII match, and I am on the defending team. There are three Tier VIII tanks each side (my KV-4, an 8.8cm Jagdtiger, and a T69 on my side; and a Tiger II, Caernarvon, and the aforementioned Jagdpanther II for the opposition), a single Tier V SPG on each side, five Tier VI vehicles, and the balance being made up of Tier VIIs. Seeing the other two Tier VIIIs on my team turn to defend the southern approach, and decide to take the northern defence. There is one early casualty as an enemy Comet sprints into the centre of the map, and is quickly dispatched. Then the match settles down as we wait for contact on the main flanks. Through the entirely of the battle I cannot see directly what is happening on the southern flank – outside of communication range.

There are roughly three general strategies to defend the northern approach, what I like to think of as back foot, front foot, and down the pitch (using terms from cricket). The last of these follows the philosophy that the best defence is a good offence, and essentially means attacking the enemy tanks on the plateau of land that is the northern team’s base on the Standard map version of Karelia. This strategy can be successful, but it requires the right tanks. You have to get tanks to that plateau in the first place, which means faster vehicles. We did not have the right selection of tanks for that tactic this evening, and thankfully no one seriously tried to push that far forward. Probably the chief reason why the northern defence fails on Karelia Assault are people not looking at what their team-mates have. A Type 59 or Cromwell can complain all he wants how he had no support but if their team-mates are fielding KV-4s or Churchill VIIs, for example, then frankly they should know they would have gotten stranded.

A Tiger in our team did start to advance up the slope to the plateau, but never went into full assault. Instead he adopted what I like to call the forward defence, which concentrates tanks around the top of that slope and its ledge. This is again a perfectly reasonable strategy, so long as the defenders realise their position can get flanked and one or two tanks seek to defend it or even. Attackers sometimes forget this as well, so sometimes leave themselves open to being flanked themselves. The weakness of this flank to both sides is that the ground there can be sniped from both offensive and defensive positions. An active defence in this spot can, however, stop an assault dead in its tracks – especially given the somewhat cautious nature of many World of Tanks players. The weakness is that too many tanks concentrated there have no defence in depth.

My personal favourite tactic, which is mostly what happened in this instance, plays much more to that defence in depth. The defence starts in more or less the same place, but rather than try to hold the slope itself one or two defending tanks make a fighting retreat down it. Meanwhile, set up in the rocks opposite the slope other defenders pour fire at the attackers as they reveal themselves to attack those forward defenders. The rocks should offer good cover from both artillery and attacking snipers, while the bulk of the enemy attacking tanks force themselves to become more exposed. If the enemy stick at being snipers then the defenders’ artillery should be able to make their lives miserable as there is relatively little cover at the top of the plateau. The best offensive counter to this strategy is probably to focus fire. Identify and kill one tank, and then the next, and then the next.

In this instance the Tiger mostly fought at the top of the slope, and acquitted himself very well, and in the process lit up the enemy attacking force to the benefit of our SU-8, and those of us defending the slope. I myself had positioned myself behind a rock towards the bottom of the slope, side-scraping so front was more or less entirely hidden by cover and mostly what could be hit was my side at a good angle. My intention was to be a target that would hopefully induce the enemy to stop and shoot me, so my team-mates and I could kill them. I was hoping with so few Tier VIIIs I would be able to bounce most shots, or let my tracks absorb the enemy fire. Ahead of me, initially in support of the Tiger was an M6. Once the Tiger had been destroyed – he was so far advanced those of us further back could offer relatively little assistance – I advised the M6 to fall back a bit. This was to draw the enemy further out so the rest of us could shoot at them – and he did! A rare moment of team-work.

Overall the strategy worked pretty well. Several enemy tanks died at the top of the slope as they unwisely stopped to shoot. The Caernarvon did try to push forward after he and his companions had killed the M6 and a M36 Jackson, but I am glad to say I took care of him. All the while he was wasting shells into my tracks, as was a T29, and eventually the Jagdpanther II. The SU-8 finished off the T29, and on the southern flank we appeared to be eventually victorious. Then for what seemed like forever – and probably was about 3½ minutes of a 10-minute match – the Jagdpanther II kept shooting me, and each shot tracked me. I essentially had no opportunity to move. Fortunately for almost the entire match I had been arty-safe, but clearly in these last stages the enemy M41 shifted location and I started to lose hp to him. However, he ran out of time before could kill me. Meanwhile I do have to wonder slightly at what the Jagdpanther II thought he was managing to do. I did not count, but I reckon he hit me between 15-20 times (in the after battle report he had a total of 30 shots, but some of those would have been against my team-mates) and all he was doing was breaking my tracks. The truth is that he appears to have been a fairly average player, and was just aiming for me rather than the most available weakspot. Admittedly he would have missed some of those shots, but over the length of time he shot at me I think he probably could have killed me – or at least inflicted significant damage.

I did earn the Steel Wall Medal as might be expected, and I was hit a total of 54 times (a few less than the previous time). I did a reasonable amount of damage to the enemy, just over 1800 spread over four vehicles with one destroyed. The record though is potential damage received, which was a whopping 17,940. Given my KV-4 has 1600 hitpoints that is equivalent to just over 11 KV-4s. Indeed I made a guestimate of the total hp of my team, and it seems this exceeds the total hp of my team – myself included – by several thousand. Overall I would have to say mission accomplished, even if the record is mostly because of one enemy tank plinking away long after the rest of his team was defeated. The Jagdpanther II ended up with the Sniper medal, unsurprisingly. Given he expended 30 shots in total I also wonder if he managed to make a profit – somehow I doubt it.


I must say I have had a lot of fun playing Plague Inc. on my phone, though I feel that henceforth this is now going to be on occasional game at odd moments. I have played through and successfully wiped out humanity on Normal Difficulty for all seven different pathogens. I do have a generally winning strategy, which in its simplest form is one that Mrrx explains in this post: infect everyone before getting noticed, and then quickly ramp up the symptoms to Major Organ Failure, and watch humanity die out. However, while the differences between the different pathogens are subtle, they are there, and this basic strategy has to amended depending on circumstance. For what it is worth, what follows is my “guide” for this somewhat macabre little game.

Location, location, location…

The first decision, once one has actually entered the game world (having chosen pathogen and, if unlocked, altered the gene code), is which country to start. India and China are very popular starting countries from what I can gather, for two very good reasons. Both have large, generally poor populations, which means your initial spread is quite easy. Secondly both are also connected to air and sea routes, aiding the global spread of the plague. I have successfully started plagues from both locations, but there are other possibilities. Firstly the slower initial start-up in advanced countries is not necessarily a hindrance so long as one controls the symptoms, and a country like the UK has some of the best international connections for global spread. Another option is to start in one of those countries that is difficult to infect – Greenland, Madagascar, or New Zealand, on the theory that way at least one of them is out of the way from the start. Some consideration should also be given to it being a hot or cold country, as this gives some inbuild resistance to that climate zone. In particular if one starts in a hot country one has to consider spending some DNA points on cold resistance as the arctic countries can be difficult enough to infect either because of their remoteness (Iceland), their sparse population (Canada), or both (Greenland) without the added malus of a poorly adapted pathogen. From hotter nations I personally have also found Morocco and Angola to also be amongst the last countries to be infected more than once.

Pay attention to the news

There are usually a few random events in each game. Sometimes these can influence your strategy. In one memorable game an news article popped up about increased bird migration, so I invested some DNA points into that transmission method. Another news article came soon afterward about how bird migrations were at extreme levels. I quickly got the second level of bird transmission, and I have never seen the world get infected so quickly.

Infect the world

Apart from circumstances like the above, the most reliable way of infecting the world is through getting both Air and Water transmission vectors to level 2, which then unlocks Extreme Bioaerosol. In most circumstances that will suffice, though if you are having difficulty with certain countries it may be worth while finding another vector. If the plague is not yet spotted either increasing the hot/cold resistance of the pathogen (as applicable) or adding in some extra transmission vectors such as bird or animal can help overcome those hurdles. If the plague is already spotted make sure both coughing and sneezing symptoms are evolved, as they increase infectiveness without much increasing severity (thereby meaning you will not trigger much faster cure rates).

Devolving Transmission and unwanted symptoms

Once you have infected humanity, devolve all those transmission vectors. You will get DNA points for doing so that you can then re-invest into abilities to slow cure progress, or increase lethality. Only do this, however, once you get the message there are no healthy humans left. Likewise if, while still infecting people, symptoms mutate it is often worthwhile to devolve them and reduce the chance of detection, and in all pathogens but the Virus you will also gain DNA.

Dead people cannot conduct research into the cure

There are a number of abilities that inhibit cure research. Two of them slow the overall progress, and these should be priorities to research ideally before the plague is spotted. Then there are three which take off a few percentage from the cure research. While these can help you eke out enough time to kill humanity, once you are spotted the first focus has to be to kill people. Dead people conduct no research. Once you are spotted, or if cure research is progressing too quickly, evolve Total Organ Failure and watch the death toll mount. As people die you will benefit both from more DNA points and reduced research capability of humanity. Those DNA points you can place into the research-inhibiting abilities, but also consider the Coma, Paralysis, and Insanity symptoms all of which make the cure harder for humanity to achieve. They also increase lethality – so stop research both by making the cure intrinsically harder to achieve and by killing off the researches. Coma and Paralysis can be unlocked from Total Organ Failure, making them preferable in my view to the Genetic Reshuffle ability.

Devolve symptoms

If you have been spotted before fully infecting humanity, and have needed to increase lethality to disrupt the cure, remember you can then devolve the lethal symptoms to reduce lethality to concentrated on infecting the remaining healthy humans. Otherwise you can kill off the infected before they infect the healthy.

Learn your pathogen

As I said at the start, the differences between the different pathogens are subtle, but they are real. The Bacterium is the first, and the reference point for all the others.

The Virus pathogen will both mutate symptoms more rapidly and require DNA to devolve symptoms. Therefore it becomes trickier to avoid detection. However, once humanity is infected the Virus mutate ability will mean symptoms evolve quickly, and generally speaking lethality will resolve itself.

The Fungus pathogen has one particular hurdle that can be frustrating to overcome: it does not travel well. This makes infecting the usual difficult suspects even more difficult. Patience is required, and do not expect the quick infection rates other pathogens can offer.

The Parasite is probably my favourite pathogen, as the pathogen-specific ability both increases transmission and decreases the likelihood of being detected. This makes it much easier to fully infect humanity, and indeed one can have involved a lethal symptom and be killing people before detection. Once detected it is vital to massively increase lethality to wipe out humanity before the cure gets starting.

The Prion is a difficult pathogen to cure, but also has a twist – it takes time for new symptoms and the like to take effect. This means you have to plan ahead a little more than you do with other pathogens. Increasing lethality will take some time to take effect.

The Nano-Virus turns some of the ordinary gameplay on its head, because you are spotted from the start. You do have more ways to inhibit the cure research through pathogen-specific abilities, but you must concentrate on infectiveness. A few points to help delay the cure, and then everything on infectiveness, including non-lethal symptoms.

Finally the Bioweapon, and once again this one radically changes the gameplay. This pathogen is natively lethal – and it will increase its lethality naturally over time. There are pathogen-specific abilities that can delay and reset this lethality, but you are from the start in a battle against your own lethality. Once again this means concentrated on infection. The inbuilt lethality to this pathogen will also mean you get spotted relatively early, so once again consider non-lethal infectious symptoms and immediately devolve any lethal symptoms that mutate.

Final notes

If you have unlocked the game before you start you can modify your gene code somewhat with special abilities (unlocked through a successful game). Make sure that your strategy for any particular game plays to the strengths that you have selected.

Mostly though do not take this game too seriously. Wiping out humanity is not the most polite thing to do, and taking a moment to reflect on what this would mean in reality … well, my Asperger’s makes it very easy for me to take such thoughts seriously. Good source material for dark short stories, but an unfortunate source also if nightmares. It may sound silly, but avoiding potentially depressing allusions is something I have to take seriously for reasons I will try to explain one day, but this is not the post for that. However, my principle defence against negativity are the names I give my plagues. So for examples, Frog started in France, Siemens in Germany, AAPL in the USA, and ABBA in Sweden. Yes, my sense of humour might be a little strange, but it made me smile.

Overall I very much recommend this game as an intriguing exercise in managing various different factors, and as a something even a little thought-provoking. I have not played either expansion, and currently do not intend to do so.


I wanted to like the Cruiser Mk IV very much. I very much enjoyed its immediate predecessor, the Cruiser Mk III, which I ended up retaining. Indeed, there is a lot to like about the Cruiser Mk IV, as in many ways it is an improved version of the tank that came before. However, despite this I found myself disliking the gun selection, which rather detracted from the entire experience.

One noticeable thing about the Cruiser Mk IV is, once its engine is upgraded, is that it is quite a bit nippier than the earlier tank. While its top speed is technically the same, in reality the increased acceleration means that this vehicle is actually able to reach those higher speeds much more frequently. While not the fastest tank on a Tier III battlefield – that accolade now rests with the Panzer I Ausf. C which has dethroned the BT-7 – it will outpace the vast majority of enemy tanks. Likewise both the BT-7 and Panzer IC are rather more nimble than the Cruiser Mk IV. Do not think you are their equal in speed or agility, because if you do it will likely end poorly. That said you do have the necessary mobility to disrupt them. You do also very much have the velocity to find yourself too far ahead of your team-mates with the result of an early death.

The matter I find difficult with this tank is the armament. The top gun is the QF 40mm Mk IV autocannon, which fires two shells in one firing, and needs to be reloaded after two firings. The shells fire one after each other, with recoil between the two. Unfortunately the recoil often means that the second shot misses – one can try to depress the gun as firing to increase the chance of the second shell hitting the target, but it is an art I have very uneven success with. The reload time is lengthy for Tier III, but not obscene like the Panzer II Ausf. G.

The thing is I just have not really had much success with this gun. Part of me strongly prefers the initial QF 2pdr Mk IX. This single-shot weapon has a high rate of fire (if not quite as high as the autocannon), roughly the same penetration, and about 10% less damage. Theoretically the autocannon can put out an impressive about of dps, far more than the 2pdr. Given general play, and the large number of second-shell misses that seem to occur, I would wager the 2pdr causes more damage in most circumstances.

In Tier III matches you can essentially pretend you are a medium tank, but once a large number of Tier IVs roll into view it is time to re-assess. This tank has good speed, and view range, so can make a quite creditable scout. It also has pretty depression on its weapons, which means it can be effective use of terrain when trying to harass other vehicles. Do be aware however than in general that you cannot do much against the Tier V heavies, and the better all-around armour of the KV-1 makes that one practically invulnerable from you. The best you can do is try to track it and let your team-mates deal with it. Most other Tier V tanks can be flanked, if not entirely reliably.

My final tally with the Cruiser MK IV is sixteen battles, seven victories, and thirteen enemy kills. I did manage to secure a Scout medal and a Confederate medal in one particularly memorable match, in which I also earned the First Class Mastery Badge. Despite that match showing just what this tank can do I have to desire to keep this tank in my garage, and it will be moving out in due course.

The special offer this weekend is themed around tanks that never actually made it to the battlefield, both tanks that existed as prototypes and also tanks that were never more than blueprints. It is an offer without many trimmings, and I would expect some people to complain that the NA server is getting a better offer this weekend. Of course, over in the USA it is something of a holiday-weekend, which might have something to do with that 🙂 .

The tanks involved in this offer are split into two groups. Firstly we have a number of Tier VII tanks that are available for a 30% discount and which also have a 30% credit earnings bonus. They are the T-43, T-34-1, VK3002D, T20, Black Prince, and AMX M4 (1945). I have no experience in any of these tanks, but all have proved worthy foes on the field of battle. The Black Prince is probably the best armoured of them, and can prove troublesome to kill. The one least likely to be encountered seems to be the French AMX M4 (1945).

The second group are all Tier III, and have an 80% credit earnings bonus. They are the T-46, Panzer II Ausf. G, Panzer I Ausf. C, AMX 38, T82, and Medium Mark III. I have played a few games with all of these tanks apart from the Panzer IC. That tank has a well-deserved reputation for being a speed daemon. You can really tear around the map – of course it is also easily possible to find yourself isolated and destroyed. The T82 is in the running to be the most powerful tank on Tier when using its howitzer. The Panzer IIG I hated. The AMX38 may be the most durable tank at Tier, but its slowness may frustrate some players. The T-46 can make a decent claim to be the best all-round tank at tier. The Medium Mk III is a large and tempting target, and success requires one to reduce your exposure. Making use of hull-down tactics and cover can massively increase lifespan, in which case the damage dealing potential of this tank starts to be realised.

The medal involved in this week’s over is Patrol Medal, and each one will net you a 25,000 credit reward. Finally there is a double crew experience bonus on all matches. It seems there have been a lot of crew experience bonuses in specials recently – not that I am complaining! I do wonder, however, if the guys running the EU server have realised this is a good think to enter into an offer to give more experienced players grinding long crew skills something to be happy about, as discounts and earnings bonuses are sometimes less relevant to that portion of the game population.

That speculation aside I think this is a reasonably good offer. It is not spectacular, but it has items for newer players, older players, and covers a range of nations and vehicle types. Its main weakness is no extra element (garage slots, barracks enlargements, camo, inscriptions, emblems, equipment, consumables, and so on). Overall B-.

Leastways that is the only explanation I have for the hyperinflation being reported in Diablo III (courtesy of TAGN). In many respects this is not surprising – game designers are not economists, and even when they hire economists they do not always listen. However, even CCP has not managed something quite as horrendous as what appears to be going on in Diablo. From what I have read I do not attribute any malicious motives to the Blizzard team. Incompetency seems a perfectly adequate explanation.

Anyway, it is a very interesting article, and I thoroughly recommend reading it.

When it comes to popularity all tanks are not created equally. One can go for several Tier VI matches without seeing an ARL 44, ARL V39, Churchill VII, VK3001P, or SU-100, just to take some semi-random examples. For certain other tanks though it is a surprise if you do not see them every match where there are more than just two or three tanks of that tier – and at Tier VI the KV-1S reigns supreme, with only the VK3601H as a possible equal. This tank is reliably present on nearly any match involving Tier VI tanks. My understanding is that it is even more popular in Company battles.

Ultimately it is easy to see why the KV-1S is so popular – it is all down to the 122mm D-2-5T gun. A beast of a weapon this whacks an almighty whallop that can really upset the Tier VIII tanks it will encounter as well as ruin anything below tier. Having now elited it, I can certainly see why this configuration is so popular. Indeed I have pretty much used that gun ever since I unlocked it, but think the attraction of the KV-1S goes beyond just having a big gun.

A little history – the KV-1 was the first heavy tank to really prove itself in the field of battle. It was, for its time, massively heavily armoured, and fairly slow. This was, however, a time of rapid development in all military endeavours, and tanks were no exception, and after 1941 the KV-1 was starting to show its age. Its armour was no longer reliable, and its slow speed a handicap. The Russian engineers then modified the tank and created the KV-1S. This variant was designed to be more mobile, and sacrificing armour to get the additional speed, whilst also upgrading other features to reflect experience. A little later the designers further modified the KV idea and came up with the KV-13, which was a true medium, and also the Soviets developed the IS line of heavy tanks, which apart from everything else were rather more mobile than the older KV series. The KV-1S was upgraded again as the KV-85 and used to help bridge the gap between the older KV tanks and the new IS tanks.  What we often get in World of Tanks is the KV-85 with an experimental gun fitted.

In other words, the KV-1S is very much a transitional tank. In game this is what it feels like. It is much speedier than its Tier VI counterpart, the T-150, at the cost of the armour. It does not, however, have the full mobility of a true medium, nor does it have the advanced armour features that made the IS-line so effective. It just hints to the future without ever getting there.

In terms of gameplay this means one should not pay too much attention to this being a “heavy” tank – it is perhaps best to think of it as a heavy medium. You do have that extra speed, and since the KV-1S does not have the armour to reliably bounce incoming fire that extra speed is vital get the best out of this tank.

As mentioned earlier the 122mm gun is by far the most popular choice of weapon, but it comes with one very serious drawback – a very long reload time. Even in one-on-one fights this can be a considerable difficulty. Say you and an opponent come up against each other – you shoot and hit, and your opponent loses half his health. He hits you and you lose maybe 1/6th of your hp. Then he starts to circle, hits you again, hits you again, and because you are likely tracked and your turret turns relatively slowly you may never get that second shot off. Also, if that first shot happens to miss or bounce (and despite the good penetration you will bounce same-tier tanks from time to time) then things very quickly start to look very grim. The gun also has a poor aim time and poor accuracy, and while these are also problems they are relatively minor inconveniences next to that long reload. Where this tank shines though is when two or three of them operate together. Three penetrating shots from a KV-1S with the 122mm will kill everything at Tier (apart from the TOG II* with its massive hp buffer), and also quite a few Tier VII vehicles. Another tactic would be for the tanks to fire consecutively one after other, separated by a few seconds. This way they could keep up a constant rate of fire of that massive gun, and with good focus of fire again tear the enemy apart. I have benefited from such tactics my tanks on my team, and been on the receiving end of them.

However, some players prefer to fit the 85mm D-5T, and the more I have thought this afternoon about this the more I am sorry I did not give it more of a try. The 85mm has less penetration (average 120mm compared to 175mm), but still more than enough for at Tier opponents, and plenty good enough if you manage to hit weakspost and / or flank higher tier opponents. Its damage is also less than half (average of 160 compared to 390). However its rate of fire is more than four times faster – all of which means its potential damage output is something like double that of the 122mm D-2-5T. Certainly one has potential to do some real damage there, and if one players the tank more like a flanking medium in the higher-tier battles I can see the potential for good things. However, for me this is going to remain theory as I will probably shortly be selling off my KV-1S to get the IS.

I end my run with the KV-1S after 76 matches, 43 of which were victories, and 75 enemy kills. Along the way I earned 1 Sniper and 4 Steel Wall medals, but the most I ever killed in a match was 4. That big gun allows you to dish out damage, but often the slow reload also means one will miss out on kills. I have enjoyed playing it, but it is time to move on.

Back in February the oven in our cooker stopped working. Actually we had a week where the oven gave up the ghost, the Foreman Grill surrendered to entropy, the central heating packed in, and the gas fire lost its spark – the last two on the same day just before three really quite cold weeks! Anyway, since then our cooking has been limited to what we could do on the cooker hobs, and subsequently on a replacement Foreman, and a microwave, toaster, and kettle. Now, one can cook a range of meals on all that, without resorting to supermarket ready meals. Never the less, after several weeks, you start to get cravings …

A joint of pork (or lamb, or beef) with crunchy roast potatoes, roast parsnips, and stuffing, and some carrots, all smothered in a rich gravy …

Anyway, last week the new cooker was installed, and we gave it full power trials with the above – and it was glorious.

However, the best thing about this Sunday dinner was not the good food (which was very good indeed, if I say so myself, as the totally unbiased cook), but was the fact Melian, my wife, and I all sat down and had Sunday dinner together. The same Sunday dinner, together. It is not quite the first time we have had a meal together as a family, but is the first “traditional” meal we have all had together where Melian at just what we ate. Well, we also mashed up some potatoes in case she did not like the roasties, but otherwise it was all the same.

A few posts back I was talking about the Danish concept of hygge, and this was a good example of a hygge moment. We all sitting at the same table (albeit Melian in her high-chair) eating together, and all enjoying ourselves.

Melian especially. She has a particular set of vocalisations she tends to use when she eats, signifying great approval. This is a little lady who really enjoys her food. The pork went down a treat, but best of all were the roast potatoes – and once we had dipped them in the gravy they became even better! Watching Melian is often a good way to remind oneself of just how enjoyable simple pleasures can be, and roast potatoes in gravy is probably one of those pleasures we should celebrate more.

I had read the original news article about this, and then I must confess I promptly forgot it. The idea was that players were to vote for a Tier VII tank or tank destroyer, or a tier V SPG, and all the vehicles in the line of that chosen vehicle would be the beneficiaries. The offer was 50% discount on the Tier II-V vehicles and a 30% discount on the Tier VI and VII vehicles, and a 50% crew experience bonus on all the tanks in the chosen line. Then there was a big poll put up on the EU forum, and people voted. I did vote, but I cannot in all honesty remember which tank I voted for.

However, today it has been announced that the winner of the vote is the T29, the American Tier VII Heavy. This means that the T2 Medium, M2 Medium, M3 Lee, and T1 Heavy will have a 50% discount, and the M6 and T29 will have the 30% discount. The length of the offer runs from Monday morning for a week.

However also today the EU Community team chose another tank line (essentially through pulling a number out of a box) and for the week from the 27th May the line of the T-34-1 will benefit. Presumably this means the VAE Type B, Type 2597 Chi-Ha, M5A1 Stuart, Type T-34 will get the 50% discount, and the Type 58 and Type T-34-1 will be at a 30% discount.

Personally I am not overly concerned about the Chinese line, but this coming week I will definitely see about getting some games in on my recently acquired M6.