So 8.6 has been out a few days now, long enough to get some opinion of the changes.
Firstly, a little mea culpa. In my weekly round-up last week I said that the Westfield encounter felt like an Assault – that is because it was Assault! Viewing it that way I think this is a much more interesting setup – so far it seems advantage is with the attackers, but I do not know if that is simply because people are not yet used to it. The Encounter mapmode on Mines seems like a lot of fun – but I think the northern team has a slight advantage on starting position around the town. Again though, as people get more used to the map this may change. Sacred River is a lot of fun, but I do find my fps suffers initially.
On the whole I am enjoying the accuracy buff. I think early it is seems the greatest beneficiaries of this will be the highly-skilled players who know what weakspots to aim for – and also snipers who will now have greater confidence at being able to hit at distance. However, in random matches at least there are very many players who have an imperfect knowledge of weakspots (myself included) so this does not negate the advantage of armour.
Speaking of armour, in my KV-5 I am enjoying the Super-Heavy Spall-Liner. Had a couple of matches where I was bracketed by artillery shells, and it seems quite clear that they were rather less effective than they had been previously. From the other direction you cannot tell if someone has a Spall-Liner fitted of course, but the arty changes have not in any way hamstrung SPGs. I suspect the less skilled / more impatient SPG players may abandon them – the longer reload times are quite noticeable. The changes to shell flight time seem quite easy to get used to, however. Generally I think SPGs will be played by the more skilled players now, and by newer players who did not know how things were before – and that while there may be a short-term drop in their numbers longer-term I think SPG numbers will rise once again. I suspect the arty-whines will increase again over time as well.
I have seen rather fewer derp M4 Shermans and Panzer IVs out there, which is to be expected with the HEAT nerf. However I can happily report the derp is still nicely effective if used properly. I have had some good success with the Hetzer and Panzer III derping. Again, I suspect this is a change that more skilled players will adapt to very nicely, but less skilled players will end up using fewer derp as a result.
Overall there does seem to be a theme with many of these changes: life has gotten harder for a number of less-skilled player groups, while better skilled player groups are mostly unaffected, or buffed. In particular I think the accuracy changes speak to this – in effect it boosts the abilities of skilled players over unskilled – widening the gap between the two in game. Now, World of Tanks is a casual game, there are lots of players who now and then fire up the game to waste some vehicles. What I do – playing regularly every night 250-300 games a month is actually quite exceptional. Looking at it another way, according to wot-news.com’s server statistics for the EU server, 88% of players on the server have fewer than 1000 battles, and more than 96.5% of the server playerbase have fewer battles than myself currently. These guys are the lifeblood of the server however, because without them folks like me would not have a game to play – frustrating as it can be to be on a bad team. These changes disadvantage them – but because they are casual players they probably will not know about it. Nevertheless I think Wargaming have to be careful not to unbalance the game too much towards skilled players – the less skilled need to have a good game now and then too otherwise they just will stop playing (though I do not think we are anywhere near a tipping point yet).
Just a thought I had while playing my Marder II.