Monthly Archives: July 2013

All tanks struggle when facing a vehicle two tiers above it. That is perfectly reasonable – they should! However, most tanks nevertheless have some trick or role they can play against the big boys. That trick might not always work, but usually it is there. The AMX 38 however does not appear to do so. A Tier V battle in this tank is an exercise in frustration – especially if there are only three or four Tier III and IV tanks on the field.

The one outstanding feature of the AMX 38 is the armour, which for Tier III is very good idea. Relatively thick, it is also almost entirely at angles increasing its effectiveness. Most Tier II and III autoloaders one encounters will be able to do little but scratch the paintwork. Along with the armour is a decent hp pool, allowing one to absorb a reasonable amount of damage. Of course tank destroyers are a threat, but not insurmountable.

There is a price paid for protection however. The AMX 38 is a slow tank. I would say it ambles along, but that feels too smooth a motion. Rather it lumbers and hauls itself from one part of the map to another, inching its way along. While technically a light tank, it is probably more accurate to call it a mobile pill-box.

As for armament, well, the upgraded gun is alright, but nothing to shout about. It is adequate against Tier III tanks, can be effective with care against most Tier IVs (though watch out for Valentine II or Matilda) and just about useless against most Tier Vs. It is pretty much useless even tracking one of the Tier V heavies.

These three characteristics mean you have a tank that can be supremely effective at Tier. In a Tier III match you can be a very effective soaking up the enemy damage output. I have even managed a Steel Wall – which considering that means 1000 potential damage is pretty difficult to manage at Tier III. While there are some vehicles out there can be troublesome (the frontal armour of a T18, for example) on the whole you should be able to reliably penetrate most of what you face. At this tier the slow speed also less of an issue. While it may put you out of position on a battlefield the real sprinters like the Panzer I Ausf. C find it difficult to take advantage of your relative immobility because their firepower struggles against the armour. In many ways it feels like playing a heavy tank.

Tier V matches could not be more different. You cannot damage the vast majority of Tier V tanks with any reliability – even the weakspots. Your slow speed means you cannot really scout – it just takes too long to get anywhere. If you are in a match with a handful of top-tier vehicles and a good mix of Tier III and IVs you still have a worthwhile role to play – helping defend against scouts or providing a roadblock on a weak flank. However in a top-heavy match you are almost always cannon fodder. At Tier V your armour is worthless.

A Tier IV match is not as frustrating. Although your armour becomes much less reliable it still provides a measure of protection (though not against tank destroyers), and there tend to still be plenty of Tier IIIs to match up against. Of course you still cannot scout, and the frontal armour of many tanks will prove troublesome but you can still provide some useful firepower support if you get into a flanking position.

I ended up playing 18 matches in the AMX 38, winning 11 with 15 enemy tanks destroyed. The Steel Wall mentioned above was my only Battle Honour. While I found the Tier III and IV gameplay to be an enjoyable challenge – at Tier V it was just boring. When you have neither armour, nor armament, nor agility one quickly gets a bad gaming experience. So it was. I definitely won’t be retaining this tank.

Next year I am really going to have to try and remember that my birthday always seems to coincide with the Steam summer sale and try to make more use of this fact. As it happens I was able to take advantage of the sale somewhat. Fortunately I have a family that understands my love of computer gaming, even when they do not love the particular games I play themselves.

As it was the birthday haul consisted of three (technically four) games. Firstly there was Masters of Orion II, which was actually from This comes with Masters of Orion I, which I must admit not to be particularly interested in except historically. Masters of Orion II though conjures up many happy memories, and represents probably the only 4x game not involved with Sid Meier that I ever “got”. Then there is Omerta – City of Gangsters. I saw Gank review this one some time back, and as I recalled he found it ok but not challenging enough to keep his attention. I will probably give me thoughts on it later, but so far I have enjoyed what I have come across but would agree it is casual gaming.

The final game was Crusader Kings II, and between the Steam Summer Sale and this weekend’s 75% sale I have acquired all the DLC. It has been quite some time since I set foot in a new Paradox Interactive game, and there is always that tingly sense of “Oh my goodness, what does all this MEAN!?!?!?!?!” when one fires it up for the first time. The complexity and scope of these games though is an ongoing attraction. Indeed I can say right now if there is one game that is likely to seriously reduce my World of Tanks playing this is it (along with the rest of the Paradox Interactive stable).

I have already played an introductory game to try and learn various stuff, as is my wont, and have started a second game, which may or may note become my first “proper” game depending on what other game mechanics I encounter/test.

All in all three very different, yet interesting, games to keep me going.


Firstly, by way of general announcement, it has taken me longer to get back to the regular swing of things than I thought. I entirely blame my work, which has been non-stop all week. Also an unexpected (but very welcome) visit from one of Melian’s godparents. So gaming has been slight, and posting has been obviously slow.

With that aside, this weekend’s special offer is a little unusual, in that it is primarily not about individual tanks but rather is centred around a trio of the new missions, and then there are a number of usual extras. As a concept I think it is interesting, but I would not want it to occur all the time.

The first mission is simple enough. Called “Fear Me!” the way it works is that if you inflict 3000 damage and kill at least three enemy vehicles you get double the experience you ordinarily would.

The second mission is named “Experience Earner” and works slightly differently. In this one, if you acquire 50,000 experience over the course of a single day you earn a day of premium account status. It notes that the experience bonus from first victory of the day, and from premium account status both contribute to the total, but that any experience bonus from the “Fear Me!” mission does not. It also states that a day is 24 hours long, and I am going to assume a day is from 0701 to 0700, as that is the timing of the specials generally and this is how a day is specifically defined for the third mission. This apparently can only be attained once per account per said day.

The final mission is different again. This one is termed “The Reaver”. This one is open to three classes of vehicles, Light Tanks, Medium Tanks, or Heavy Tanks of Tier IV+, and the idea is to kill a certain number of tanks with a vehicle of that particular class in a given day. For light tanks this is 25 enemy vehicles, and for medium and heavy tanks it is 50 vehicles. I believe all the kills have to be earned on a single tank, not spread across a number of tanks in the class. The reward for succeeding however seems rather paltry – an Improved Ventilation Class 1 for achieving it on a light tank, Class 2 for a medium tank, and Class 3 for a light tank. To put this into a credit perspective these are worth 50k credits, 150k credits, and 600k credits. To put it bluntly any half-way decent light or medium player should be able to make far more credits than the reward is worth in only a proportion of the battles it will likely take to get the requisite number of kills – especially if they have premium status or playing the farming tiers. With the heavy tanks the situation is not quite so clear-cut, but even so it does not really seem worthwhile. In other words I am not sure I would bother worrying too much about this particular mission. It can only be completed once per account per account type, which further restricts its value.

Now, there is one reason why you might do this anyway, because one of the additional parts of this is offer is double crew experience, so if you have a Tier IV+ light, medium, or heavy tank and wish to take advantage and train the crew you might as well chase the Reaver mission since it not as if you actually lose anything 🙂

The medal involved this weekend is Confederate, which will give a fifteen thousand credit bonus. Crew training and re-training is at a 50% discount, as is barracks enlargement.

Overally I have to give this a B-. The main malus is the poor reward for the Reaver mission.

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday – an occasion for merriment and joy, but there is a slightly darker undertone to my birthday as it is immediately followed by a somewhat less pleasant anniversary. Six years ago today (20th July 2007) my mental health finally fell apart, and I had a very severe panic attack / fit at work. Today the memories of those first three weeks of a wet July are mostly just unpleasant memories. Fortunately. For that I can thank my wife, my daughter, and also other friends and family.

Ten years ago I was a little concerned about growing older, as I think most people are in their early twenties. I remember twenty-three sounding so very much older than twenty-two, for example, but while it was a concern it was never as big an issue as it genuinely is for many people. These days however the matter is rather turned on its head.

The other way I celebrate my birthday is simple: hooray for still being alive. Having come closer to ending my own life than anyone should ever have to experience now I can celebrate each birthday by being grateful for the simple fact I am still alive to have birthdays. In some respects this is one of the most profound (and I think positive) developments in my worldview to have occurred. Unfortunately I also think it is a worldview that probably only resonates strongly with those who have, for whatever reason, come very close to not being alive – and I would not wish my experiences (or anything similar) on my own worst enemy.

I tentatively suggest however that it is still a worthwhile thought around birthday-time – being alive is generally a great thing. A birthday marks another year of life – not another year older but another year richer, with all the ups and downs; triumphs and failures; challenges and surprises that comprise life. It is a precious thing, worth celebrating.


Given the heatwave we are having here in England it seems quite appropriate that this weekend’s special is called the Lazy Weekend. In truth I personally am likely not to play that much tanks this weekend, though I will get some tanking in I am sure. The special itself offers a little something for everyone, mostly through the mission associated with it.

To begin with however there are certain tanks on available on discount and / or with an earnings bonus. Available at a 30% discount and 30% earnings bonus are the Panzer VI Tiger, Churchill VII, AT 8, Churchill Gun Carrier, and AT 7. All in all a very British line-up! Then there are a selection of tanks available for no discount but with an 80% earnings bonus: Hotchkiss H35, D1, AMX 38, Matilda, Valentine, D2, B1, BDR G1B, Churchill I, AT-1, Renault FT AC, Valentine AT, and AT 2.

These are a good mixture of tanks, concentrating primarily on British and French tanks with only a scattering of Russian and German vehicles and no American or Chinese tanks. That distribution seems a little odd, but maybe it is a gentle nod to the heatwave.

As for the mission – well, for every one of the above tanks mentioned that you kill you get a credit bonus: 2500 credits for a Tier II or Tier III, 5000 credits for a Tier IV or Tier V, and 10000 credits for a Tier VI or Tier VII. This is rather nice as it allows everyone to get involved.

The final element of the offer is that for every Steel Wall earned grants a 7000 credit bonus.

While this offer is a pretty decent offer with a wide range of tank options, the lack of ancillaries does weigh against it somewhat. Exactly how good it turns out to be depends on the how many people play the tanks involved in the offer to make the mission worthwhile. Note that higher tier tanks will only get to shoot the Tiger, and Tier X tanks not even that. This makes the offer principally involved in the farming tiers – but apart from the Tiger and AT 7 none of the vehicles involved there are all that popular. Likewise the low-tier vehicles involved are not the iconic vehicles of that tier – one does not see very many D1s (for good reason, in my opinion). All in all this might mean too many hunters going after too few prey. I think therefore I rate this as C+ – though if the mission “works” I would update it to B minus.

Hi all

Just a quick note to say that I am expecting the current slow rate of posting to last for all the rest of this week, before hopefully getting back to normal after the weekend.

I know in the past I have talked about how social gatherings can be quite exhausting for me. The same can also be true of periods of change. Of course, changes can be pretty tiring for most folks, but in people in my situation it sometimes seems to have a more intense effect. The change this last week has been redecorating part of the house, with family staying at the same time, including a rather chaotic weekend just gone with my brother and his 3 young children staying. Three toddlers does not equal a quiet and relaxing time!

In addition during my lunch-breaks, when I often write up blog-posts, I have now been enjoying outside taking advantage of this wonderful weather we have been getting. That has also impeded the blogging.

This week is proving quieter – and I am on holiday. We are not actually going anyway, just enjoying some time not going into work, with the odd day-trip. Also it is my birthday on Friday, so really looking forward to spending the day with my wife and daughter. Presents are all well and good – getting presents with my daughter helping me open them is even better!

Monday though it is back to work and to the ordinary routine of life, and I expect more regular blogging to resume.

The public test for the 8.7 update has now arrived. In theory the main feature of this patch is the introduction of British artillery. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that for many players this patch will be remembered as when the T-50-2 was honourably discharged from World of Tanks service. In a sense however there is remarkably little involved in this update. This is, I believe, by design. Having rebalanced accuracy and artillery in 8.6, this patch was almost solely about the introduction of the British SPG line. A new map, a new premium tank, and the replacement of the T-50-2 with the MT-25 is almost the entirety of the piece. This makes it very difficult to write about!

Of the rest the most noticeable item is that Malinovka will apparently have the Assault mode reworked – and in truth I think this is needed. I think it has become increasingly hard to succeed at this one as the attacker. Also Port and Highway are being moved over to the new render – I haven’t kept detailed track but I do not think there can be many maps (if any) left to move over.

I do not think there is a great deal to say about the introduction of the British artillery – other than I always enjoy new targets – but the removal of the T-50-2 means laying to rest one of the most iconic tanks of the game. The Tier V scout is well known for pirouetting around the battlefield – or unfortunately for sometimes running straight into the enemy camp at the start of the battle in a frenetic suicide. However, when played well they could easily be instrumental in ensuring a victory. I never played the T-50-2, so my memories come from facing them in the battlefield. It will be strange not to see the little sprinter racing across the battlefield, though in truth they seem to be less played now than they were with the introduction of more higher-tier light tanks.

So raise your glass to the T-50-2, may she rest in peace.

The special this weekend is all about Tier V vehicles, and I certainly hope to get some mileage out of it – but we shall see. This offer lasts from Saturday to Tuesday as usual – and the heart of the offer is really very simple. All Tier V vehicles apart from SPGs and premiums are available at a 50% discount and will benefit from a 50% earning bonus. This includes some very iconic and effective vehicles, some of which I will note.

Panzer IV and M4 Sherman – both these seem to be a little less favoured now since the HEAT nerf, but both remain capable of wreaking havoc using their derp gun options. Overlooked in the HEAT mania however is that both these tanks have very effective AP options too. I prefer the M4 Sherman myself, which works best if you try and maximise its armour using the hull-down tactics it was designed for. The Panzer IV is more of a sniper.

T-34 – the counterpart of the above yet a very different vehicle. Its best weapon does not have a very high alpha, but does have an extra-ordinary rate of fire.

S-35 CA – probably the most powerful gun at tier, with a very large gun traverse for a TD. Slow and vulnerable to being flanked, but deadly.

KV-1 – the very definition of a good all around heavy, and a very well-loved tank. It has a credible derp option, though personally I dislike it.

T-50-2 – this might can as the swansong for this well-known little suicide sprinter.

This is obviously just a handful of comments. There are lots of good vehicles at tier, and they are very effective credit earners even outside of special offers.

In addition a number of premium Tier V vehicles are also on special offer – the Matilda IV, T-25, Matilda Black Prince, Ram-II, and T-14. I have played the T-25, Matilda IV, and Ram-II and found them all very effective vehicles.

In addition the medal this special is Patrol Duty, and comes with a twenty-five thousand credit bonus. Also the first victory with each tank earns triple experience, and there are discounts for the short-term premium account options.

Finally there is the mission for this offer. This mission only applies Tier V vehicles, excluding SPGs (it is not clear if premium tanks count, but I assume they do). One must score at least 500 base experience and destroy at least 5 enemy tanks. Doing so will net you an addition 1000 experience for that battle.

Overall I rate this as a very solid offer, if a little light on the “extras”. B+.

So, World of Warplanes has entered Open Beta this weekend, and I decided to download the client and take a look. Usually I do not bother with open betas, as I generally prefer to spend my time playing “real” games. Early Access games are something of an exception. However, I didn’t quite feel like tanks, so off I went.

My very much first-impressions verdict is – I enjoyed myself.

For those familiar with the World of Tanks interface there is not going to be many problems getting around the basic interface. However, there are little differences that will take a bit of getting used to. Little things like the button to research modules is in a totally different area of the interface. The basics of getting into a battle were simplicity itself – that big friendly “Battle” button (shifted to the bottom, however) makes it nice and easy.

The various numbers behind the modules do not mean very much to me as yet – though in the main it makes sense that an engine with more horsepower makes you go quicker. The basic mechanics regarding researching and upgrading your aircraft remain the same. Crew skill and training is not something I have looked it except in the most cursory fashion, but so far it appears more or less in line with what we would expect from WoT.

As for the battles themselves, I have been in 7-8 matches so far. I have only pulled off two wins, and had only one match where I really feel I got into a groove. That said in most matches I have managed to damage at least something, and in about half of my matches I have actually killed an enemy plane. I am using a mouse to control the aircraft, and the basics are nice and easy.

There is no doubt this is a more casual game than War Thunder – but I do not mind that. War Thunder did seem to aspire to be closer to a simulation, even in arcade mode. World of Warplanes however is unashamedly arcade. I suspect one’s enjoyment of WoWP therefore will be largely dependant on what sort of gamer one is.

Of course, one should remember that this game is still in beta. Changes are likely to be made, no doubt quite substantial. I do not in all honesty see myself investing a great deal of time in an open beta which will be followed by a data wipe. I will mostly wait for the full game to come up – though I can see myself indulging from time to time just for fun. That in itself is a good sign.

Part of the reason of an open beta is to generate interest. From a purely personal perspective my first foray has managed to make me sufficiently interested.

Having thoroughly enjoyed playing the T-60 I was looking forward to the T-70, and I was not disappointed. The T-70 is a very enjoyable Tier III tank to play, but with one or two distinctive characteristics that help distinguish it from the other similar vehicles at tier.

In essence the tank itself is an upgraded T-60, so it is useful to compare the two for a moment. Firstly the hull is pretty much identical – the frontal 35mm of armour in the T-60 is not quite as effective in a Tier III tank of course, but if you face an auto-cannon like gun such as the Panzer I Ausf. C you can pretty much shrug off the enter cartridge if you are facing forward. Against Tier IV and V tanks, of course, generally you will find yourself penetrated close up – but with the aid of distance can still bounce more than a few shots. While the hull is the same, the turret of the T-70 is better armoured – a full 35mm all around, compared to the 25mm for the upgraded T-60 turret. This means you essentially do not have a weakspot to the front. Note that it is the sides of the T-60/T-70, with only 15mm armour, which are least protected as the rear has 25mm of protection. The turret also offers increased view range compared to the T-60, but this is a bit below some other tanks at tier.

The speed of the T-70 is pretty reasonable, but it is not sprinter. Also the acceleration can feel pretty sluggish – but despite this it is actually a fairly nimble vehicle with 52°/second turn rate on the upgraded tracks. This is quite important because unlike the T-60, the T-70 will find itself in a more traditional light tank role when thrown into a Tier V battle. There are better Tier III tanks for scouting, but the T-70 can fulfil this role if necessary. Its low profile (and presumably therefore good camo values) would, I think, make it a very effective passive scout if one wished to play it that way, though I never have.

In terms of armament one inherits the 37mm ZiS-19 from the T-60, which is alright for Tier IV matches, if nothing to write home about, but is very much outclassed in a Tier V situation. The top gun for the T-70 is the 45mm VT-42, and this offers much better penetration, improved damage, and improved accuracy, though it is slightly slower to aim. That last is not really that much of a concern. Gun depression is unfortunately quite poor. With the upgraded gun you should be able to harass most Tier V tanks in most situations, though certain tanks (KV-1 and AT 2 immediately spring to mind) would be very challenging. Generally though in Tier V situations you should be looking to assist heavier-hitting team-mates rather than doing all the damage yourself. A tracked KV-1 or AT 2 will often be a dead tank, or at least a gravely damaged one.

In a Tier III match this tank is a good sniper/ambusher, able to hurt pretty much everything when fully upgraded. It can still fulfil this role at Tier IV to some extent, though one will start to bounce certain tanks more often. Generally at Tier IV one is either in a scout role or a support role – and at Tier V that is simply what you are.

My own record in the T-70 currently is twenty matches, with sixteen victories and twenty-six enemy tanks destroyed. I don’t have any battle honours, but two have two Cool-Headed commemoratives (both of which were from facing down a Panzer I Ausf. C). I am having a blast in the tank. I am not going to move onto the T-80 any time soon, and this tank has put itself in a very strong position to be the Tier III tank I retain. I am seriously tempted.