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Monthly Archives: August 2013

That sound you can hear is my teeth grating and the gratuitous Americanism in the special offer title. Holidays. They are called holidays. Vacations make you sound like a class-conscious numpty using what you think is fancy language out of a mistaken belief it makes one sound posher. It comes from the same stable as serviette, settee, and toilet. The rest of us use napkins, sit on the sofa, and go to the loo – and have been enjoying our summer holidays!

Ok, mini-rant (not entirely tongue-in-cheek) over, what about the offer itself? Well, there are some nice elements to this special, but what it comes to what looks like the “central feature” I must confess being a little underwhelmed. We’ll get to that. The offer itself runs the standard Saturday morning to Tuesday morning.

What I think is the meat of the offer (though not the central feature) is simple enough: all Tier III and IV tanks have an 80% credit earnings bonus. No mention if this also applies to premiums – usually they do not but it is not specifically excluded in the announcement. Whilst these tiers are not the money spinners Tiers V and VI are, nevertheless there are serious credits to be made here – especially on Tier IV. Note that there is no tank discount, which is a minor negative, but only minor.

In addition the first victory of the day with each vehicle will give a triple experience bonus instead of the usual double. Also there is a mission for when you earn the Patrol Duty battle honour and destroy two vehicles you will get 50% more experience.

There is one element of the offer, and here it comes down to a matter of perception. It is the mission “The Summer is Gone”, and the explanation takes up most of the special offer page. It looks massive. It isn’t. While note bad, compared to how it appears on the page it is sub-standard. If you win a battle on a “summer” type map you will get a 20% boost to credits and experience – if you have the summer camo equipped. Now that honestly is not bad at all – and there are a lot of summer maps. I mean A LOT of summer maps. Indeed currently there are only six non-summer maps in the entire game. Just six – compared to twenty-five summer maps. And listing all those maps is what takes up the space. It may be petty of me, but I think the page could do with some editing. It also nicely demonstrates the total disparity of map-types by season in the game, which I certainly hope Wargaming address in the future.

Note that you do have to buy the summer camo to seek to benefit from the offer. You might say that this is a cynical attempt by Wargaming to entice people to acquire gold camos. Well, I am sure there is some marketing involved here – trying to get people to try out camos to see if they like them and so entice them to get a gold camo down the line. However, given one can pick up 7 days of camo for a relatively paltry amount of silver this should generally be a no brainer.

Overall I think I rate this is a B-. The wide range of tanks with an earnings bonus is good (all Tier III and IV), but the lack of any tank discounts is a bit disappointing, as is a lack of any ancillary services discount like garage slots, camouflage, and so on. Indeed, given the above mission I would have thought this was a perfect special for a camo offer, but clearly they decided not to. For how they presented the offer though I have to mark it down as a D.

 

Decided to switch these posts to Thursday as a general rule, as usually of course I am writing about the WoT special offer on most Fridays so this means I don’t put so much “workload” on one evening. Otherwise this week continues to see the return to a more ordinary pattern of gaming.

World of Tanks

Not quite as much tanking as I was doing 2-3 months ago, but probably the most regular week of tanking I have had since the start of July. The Marder II crew is at 98% and over half-way to 99% on their third crew skill. Also last night managed to get another Halonen’s medal. My standard of play with both the regular Tiger and Tiger P continues to improve, but my win-rates are still comparatively poor. In particular I have had some losing streaks with the regular Tiger that have seriously depressed my win-rate in that tank lately. I am still prone to making some mistakes in both, particularly expecting it to take more damage than it can. I suppose that is a side-effect of my introduction to heavy tanks being the Soviet KV-line. Also enjoying the SU-85, though I have a tendency to be a bit over-aggressive with it. I seem to recall I had the same problems with the Stug III back in the day. Platooned one evening with a friend at Tier IV – I was in my Hetzer and had a blast. Literally.

World of Warplanes

Also played a bit of this with the same friend. I do not find it as appealing as tanks, but it is fun enough. I can see it being a nice game on the side once it goes live. Still mucking about at Tier I.

Tropico 4

Played a few more missions in the main campaign. This is very good light entertainment, and should work get very busy again I can see this helping lighten my mood.

Kerbal Space Program

Success! I successfully docked two spacecraft in orbit. It took quite a while to get the hang of things, and I am sure the next time I try will have its own excitement – but it was good fun finally getting the two craft lined up and docked. Quite an excellent feeling. The evidence is below.

KSP_dockedspacecraft

I then played around a bit in the Vehicle Assembly Building trying to make a BIG ROCKET. Let’s say none of my designs lasted very long 🙂

So the public test for the 8.8 patch has been open for a few days now, and this is the first time I have been able to write about it. Overall I am quite excited by a number of the features of this update.

Headlining the update is the introduction of the second Soviet medium tank line. From the patch notes it appears that the line actually goes from Tier VI to Tier VIII, being researchable from the T-34, and then merging into the Tier IX T-54, with an addition second Tier X medium tank being added from the T-54. On one level this does not mean very much for me – I am not really playing around much with Soviet mediums – but by happenstance I am actually prepared for it, inasmuch as I currently own both the T-34 and the T-34-85. I was going to transfer the T-34 crew on, but instead I will just create a new crew for one of the Tier VIs and retrain the T-34 crew into the other.

The German heavy line is also being renovated, with an impact on the German Tier VI mediums. A Tier IV German tank is being introduced, the current VK3001H is being moved to Tier V and converted into a heavy, and the VK3601H is also being converted into a heavy. Meanwhile a new Tier VI German medium is being introduced. According to For the Record owners of the VK3001H (like myself) will have the new Tier VI placed into their garage, with a free garage slot, and 100% crew. Not bad. I have to say I am really looking forward to playing with the new German vehicles.

Quite a few other higher-tier German vehicles are having their engines changed and otherwise being tinkered with. While I am sure some will scream nerf at this, from what I have been able to ascertain the paranoia is unwarranted.

There are also two new Chinese premium vehicles being added, but I am not currently interested in them. I know there has been a fair bit of talk that one of them is a bit overpowered – I guess we will just have to see.

The update will also see the return of some old maps: Serene Coast, Komarin, and Swamp. I have very fond memories of the last two from when I first started to play the game, and I will be interested to see how they reworked all three. There is also an Encounter map-mode being added to Mountain Pass, which I think could also be a lot of fun. In addition a new map is being added called Tundra.

There are then a series of “minor changes” some of which I do not think are so minor.

To begin with there is apparently going to be a reworking of the stats page, with one very significant change – a reworked Global Rating system that sounds like it is designed to function along the lines of the Efficiency or WN7 ratings. I wonder if this is an attempt to supplant them, but my gut feeling is it will take publishing the formula for that to happen – which apparently Wargaming is not going to do, so we do not even get to the discussion as to whether the formula is sound.

National voiceovers are also being introduced, though apparently the Americans and UK will share a single voiceover. I have to say I have a slightly wicked temptation to indulge in a little “Wargaming is anti-British” rhetoric. That may in fact be the case, but I am more inclined to believe Wargaming just couldn’t be bothered to create a second set of English voices. Also I have the horrendous feeling anything they would create might be over-the-top British: “tally-ho chaps let’s give Gerry Hun a darned good kicking” kind of English. Otherwise I am looking forward to this change. Whether I keep the national voices on all the time is another matter, but I might just do that.

What I think is one of the real treasures of the update is that if you earned a Battle Honour, Epic Medal, or Platoon Medal and are on the losing side you will still get the 1.5 bonus to credits and experience that the winning team get. If there is one weakness of World of Tanks it is that a poor team can negatively impact your own earnings. Well, this sounds like the start of righting that wrong. While I wish it would go a step further – there was a mission a while back that made the top three damage dealers also get the winner’s bonus which I would love to be permanently implemented into the game. This is a step in the right direction however.

Speaking of missions apparently there is going to be an interface to track progress for doing various missions, by which I take they are going to become an increasingly prominent part of special offers.

The final change which I am going to mention is another favourite – spall-liners are getting a new function in that they will reduce the chance of crew injury – the larger the spall-liner the greater the effect. I imagine this is going to make the heavy and super-heavy variants especially be more competitive when it comes to deciding what equipment to use.

So all in all I have a lot to look forward to this update. Some new tanks I am looking forward to playing, and a few small changes to the game which I think will very much improve my enjoyment.

All in all the last week has been the most relaxed I have had in a month. Most wonderfully so. This has reflect in my gaming, which has been somewhat more extensive than at any time in the last month. I don’t expect the current quieter (NOT quiet) patch at work to last, but at least it is allowing me to catch up on some of the backlog. In gaming terms it has allowed a greater freedom and variety.

I meant to post this yesterday, but unaccountably forgot to press the publish button, so while it appears on Saturday it is current from Friday.

World of Tanks

The last week saw some good successes, including more actual winning. My Marder II crew is now at 98% in its third crew skill. For the longest time I thought I would reach 100% for that in August. The paucity of my play has put that date back a bit, but not by all that much as it turns out. I should be able to achieve the milestone in September. Matters continue to progress with both the Panzer VI Tiger and Tiger P and I figure I am over half-way to eliting both tanks. The Tiger P has began to be a bit of a better fit, though I still prefer the regular Tiger.

For other tanks I am half-way to eliting the SU-85, something I should manage this weekend given the x5 special offer. Also last weekend I managed to platoon with a couple of friends for a bit, one of whom was working his way through a Tier VI, so I played my M6 and managed to research the turret. This weekend I am going to try and get some play-time in to take advantage of the special to get the top gun, as it does distinctly still feel underpowered.

Kerbal Space Program

Not much really, just setup another attempt at docking. I think the key is going to be patience.

Skyrim

Well I completed what I presume is the penultimate quest of the Thieves’ Guild Storyline, but haven’t actually been back to Riften to cross the last t, as it were.

Master of Orion 2

Played through a quick game of this, which ended up with me on the road to defeat. Good fun though. Once day I am going to have to try and find a more modern space 4x that I like. Admittedly I have not tried very many, but there has to be something I would like made since MoO2 right?

Tropico4

The particular reason I did not play as much of anything else as I might have this week was Tropico 4, which I finally dived into. I loved the first Tropico, but never played Tropico 2 (though I have it on Steam) or 3 (which I do not own). So far this does very much capture many aspects of the feel of the first game, and it still feels like a game that both can be serious in terms of gameplay but always with a knowing wink. While there are some greater complexities from before nothing that is off-putting. So far I am just playing along the campaign. I do not know if that will hold my attention entirely – the Sandbox mode is where I feel games like this shine where one can tell one’s own story. Still good fun though.

So the special offer has been announced a bit earlier than usual, because it is designed to run alongside gamescom and it runs from Thursday morning to Monday morning. In addition to the main special offer there are also a series of daily missions one can participate in, which I am not going to list in detail as that would really get a bit fiddly, as well as two missions that run from 21st August until Monday morning as well, which I will detail.

To begin with there will be a x5 experience bonus for the first victory of the day on each tank – which is very nice. By itself that usually signals a pretty good special offer, and what follows certainly lives up the billing.

All Tier X vehicles will have triple crew experience, and all Tier IX vehicles will have double crew experience. This strikes me as a great little incentive for the higher-tier players, where crew progression becomes more important.

For somewhat lower down the Tier tree, all Tier VII vehicles are available at a 30% discount with a  20% earnings bonus, and all Tier V vehicles have a 50% earnings bonus (the discount and bonuses will not affect premiums vehicles). So the premier farming Tier (Tier V) becomes even more profitable, and the bar to the start of the higher Tiers gets lowered for the special to hopefully help a few more people in Tier VII. This is all to the good and lots of people are going to benefit. In addition the Matilda Black Prince, T14, and Panzer IV Schmalturm premium tanks are available at a 50% discount.

Then we have a 50% discount on equipment, and also a 50% discount on crew training and re-training. The equipment discount in particular is a good way of saving credits.

Then we get the two missions that run the length of the special. The first of these is simple enough, and is entitled Around the World. Once a day, when you kill a vehicle of one of the six nations in the game you will receive the premium consumable associated with that nation that gives a +10% bonus to crew skills for a single battle. A fun little mission.

The other mission is slightly more serious, and is called Making a Difference. If you are one of the top 3 damage dealers for your team you get a 30% earnings boost regardless of whether or not you were on the losing team. I like this mission a lot, and I so think there should be something permanently in the game along these lines.

Then there are the daily missions which I referenced earlier. Some of these are trickier to attain, and all are only valid for as single day, but would make good goals for those interested. For the rest of us they would be a nice additional benefit if we happen to trigger it, otherwise there is no harm in ignoring them.

Overall I would have to say I think this is an exciting, if slightly complicated offer, and I give an A-.

If there is one tier of class of vehicle I seem to have consistently enjoyed, it has to be the Tier III tank destroyer. I haven’t played one I dislike yet – indeed, as I recall I basically have enjoyed all of them. Maybe it is the fact that I play so much on the Marder II is that there is a certain degree of carryover that reflects positively on all of them. Regardless of the precise reason, once again in the Valentine AT I encountered a Tier III tank destroyer that I rather liked – but also rather different from its compatriots.

If there is one common aspect to all the other Tier IIIs – the Marder II, T82, Renault UE 57, and SU-76 is it their fragility. While the Valentine AT does share one vulnerability with its contemporaries – an open top gun mounting – it has one advantage: the Valentine all-round 60mm hull armour. The Valentine is generally regarded as a very well-armoured and its own Tier IV, so 60mm at Tier III is pretty effective – unless the enemy shoots you in that open-top of course 🙂 . So while the armour is impressive, it cannot be entirely relied upon – but even so when facing an enemy you can have the chance to bounce shells you usually would not be able to do in the other three. Especially if your opponent is trying to circle you, so is moving with a large aiming circle.

The side effect of the heavy hull armour is that the Valentine AT is by far the slowest of the Tier III tank destroyers, and indeed I think is one of the slowest vehicles on any battlefield it will ordinarily be involved in. In a very fast match this means one can be left behind, with almost all the action taking place far ahead of you. It is wrong to presume however that this commits you to being defensive – it just means that once you decide to attack up one flank or another in most matches you will not have the opportunity to redeploy. You just don’t move quick enough.

The Valentine AT starts out with a QF 6-pdr AT Mk II which is decent penetration, excellent rate of fire though very average damage. You should be able to damage most tanks you encounter right from the outset, though some of the better-armoured Tier V tanks may prove troublesome. The upgraded 6pdr is the top AP gun, and features a slight improvement to penetration and accuracy that makes it the weapon of choice if you wish to be a sniper. Due to its good accuracy and rate of fire I would consider the “easiest” gun to play with this tank, and it works well as a sniper.

However, myself I could not wait to try out the 3.7 inch AT howitzer – a lovely derp gun with the usual characteristics of slower rate of fire, poor accuracy, and a lot of potential damage. You will damage everything you face – including the Tier V heavies – and will be able to one-shot quite a lot of Tier III and IV vehicles (especially if already somewhat damaged). Of course, you have to hit and with the howitzers this is never a certain thing. Hitting moving objects is also involves a lot of luck, especially with HE shells travelling slower these days.

As to weaponry there is one final point to make – the Valentine AT has a great gun arc of 15 degrees either side. This gives it both an excellent ability to keep a short-range enemy in arc even if they are trying to circle, but also means when sniping one can usually avoid moving if one sets up properly before hand (and therefore reducing the chance of giving away your position).

My record wit the Valentine AT is 16 matches played, with 9 victories, and a total of 37 enemy vehicles destroyed. Along the way I got a de Langlade’s Medal, and a Confederate Battle Honour. I had a ton of fun in the Valentine AT, even more than in the T82. It should probably be seen more often than it is but the Valentine AT just hasn’t been around long enough for there to be a core of more experienced players for whom this is one of their go-to tanks. Also I think its slow speed probably works against it. Certainly I often see folks get caught out of position when playing it. Sometimes playing a very slow vehicle is more difficult than playing a fast one.

I don’t think I will retain the Valentine AT myself simply because I am already committed to the Marder II, but I do think this tank has real potential for anyone who wishes a low-tier Tank destroyer. I am sure there are quirks of the tank to be discovered and exploited – like its armour. Plus the howitzer is just pure derpy fun.

 

Well, this is another one that has taken a fortnight, but give the chaos of last week that is not surprising. Also this last week, whilst tiring, has had a positive development at work: for the first time for about a month my worklist has substantially fewer items on it at the end of the week than at the start. Dare I hope this is the start of a return to normality? Or is it simply that it is mid-August and a lot of folks are away on their summer holidays? Time will tell.

World of Tanks

Only had two days where I played any substantial number of games the last fortnight, and only played six days in total. Overall I appear to be on a mild losing streak at the moment, though there have been some good days inbetween. In particular, while I have struggled generally with the Tiger P on Tuesday I had my best ever game – a Top Gun and the Ace Tanker award (replay). On the regular Tiger things continue in a more satisfactory fashion, and even when I lose matches usually I am able to do something.

I have finished experimenting with the Valentine AT. Quite a fun experience, though the very slow sped of the tank can make it frustrating at times. The other tank I played with any regularity is my Marder II (crew’s third skill now at 97%) and the SU-85 which is now fully upgraded. The only other news is that I have decided to retain the M4 Sherman, and start training a new crew for the M4A3E2 Sherman Jumbo on the Ram-II. I will probably wait until that is near 100% before acquiring and playing it.

Kerbal Space Program

I played this for the first time since the 0.21 update, and was delighted to find my save was still compatible. I didn’t really do all that much – put a third satellite into geosynchronous orbit above Kerbin, and also put a second satellite into Low Kerbin Orbit for a second attempt to dock two spacecraft (my first attempted failed a few weeks ago – the two satellites didn’t get closer than about 2km).

Skyrim

Progressed further along the Thieves’ Guild storyline – feels like I am in the last major mission of that. It has been an enjoyable interlude that has fit very well into the personal story I have created, largely taking place in the period of posturing between my securing the Jagged Crown and the much-heralded attack on Whiterun.