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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Wizard 101

Well as mentioned I have dipped my toe back in this game over the course of the last week, and had some success in achieving what I set out to do. On Krokotopia I have completed the Krokosphinx, and I am now doing some tasks in Grizzleheim. I have been told one goes back and forth to Grizzleheim several times over the course of the main storyline – in any event this will be my second sojourn in the land of the bears. I also now have an invitation to go to Wysteria, though I have no intention of doing anything there just yet. Along the way my Conjurer is now Level 26, almost 27.

I really do not know if I will extend my time in the game for the time being. I certainly have enough stored crowns I could play for about 2½ months, but I feel in need to make a hasty decision.

World of Warplanes

I continue to muck around a little in this game. I have now gotten my first ace medal – on the Soviet Tier I plane. I have also now bought the second British Tier II plane – the Demon. Overall I am enjoying my occasional forays into the skies.

World of Tanks

Well I did less week than I thought I would – a consequence of not playing tanks at all on Sunday and having a little less time more generally. Still I got in a very reasonable amount of tanking, various matters progress forthwith. My KV-1 crew is now at 99%, and once again I intend to get to that 100% and the same for a couple of others. The long grinds to the IS-3 (69k to go)and IS-4 (170k to go) are now well underway, but I now only need 8k experience for the long-awaited T29. The Panther is now fully upgraded. With the Ferdinand I am seriously considering researching the engines over the top gun – with the stock engine the thing is frustratingly slow. Finally on the T40 I am most of the way to the M10 Wolverine, and I hope to complete that grind before close of play on Monday to benefit from this weekend’s special offer.

Actually there is a lot of change going on in my garage at the moment, entirely due to this offer. I have sold four tanks, bought three, either moved or credit-trained crews for eight tanks – and not finished yet! I have at least two more tank moves I intend to make, one more I hope to make, and I am considering whether or not to get the Tiger II at this time. Amongst all these moves I have now sold my Marder II after 1268 matches.

Moving ahead whilst I will continue to grind away the higher-tier tanks, my aim is to make most progress at the Tier VI level. However, this is somewhat dependent on what my platooning with the clan is like in the coming week.

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When the German light tanks were re-organised with the 8.4 update the Panzer I Ausf. C burst onto the scene, hurtling through the low-tier landscape, emptying its clip of 7.92mm ammo into another unsuspecting Tier III, and then sped on off to lay another young tanker to waste. Or alternatively, careening off the edge of a cliff bringing its fast, short life to an end. Not even the lauded (and loathed) T-50-2 could match the Pz 1C for sheer speed. It was a tank I was very eager to play, and perhaps for that reason was the Tier III I kept until last to really try.

The Panzer I Ausf. C is known primarily for just two things, it speed and its machine-gun. However, there is rather more to this tank than just those two variables, and it is worthwhile to consider its other features for a moment. The one that I think is relatively poorly known – and indeed I will sometimes get surprising by it in moments of forgetfulness, is that for a Tier III tank this is a surprisingly well armoured vehicle.  To the front it has 30mm of reasonably well sloped armour, and though the stock turret is weak the upgraded turret has the same strength. This makes it quite able to bounce shots from Tier II and III tanks, especially from other machine-gun users. The side and rear armour are, of course, weaker and that is where this tank is vulnerable – if it is standing still.

Another comparative weakness is that it only has two crewmembers, a Commander and a Driver. The other three roles are all done by the Commander. This means if your Commander dies the performance of the tank degrades massively – and it becomes quite possible for both crewmembers to die and your tank to be destroyed by default. As a counter to those I run my Panzer I Ausf. C with both a Small First Aid Kit and a Large First Aid Kit. The premium consumable makes it less likely the crew get killed, and I find on lower tiers there really is no need for a fire extinguisher. My other consumable is a Small Repair Kit.

Another strength, that allows this tank to be an effective scout in higher-tier battles, is that the upgraded radio has a 700m signal range. This is more than enough to report back spots to the other side of the battlefield, and only in relatively extreme cases will you be out of touch with your team. This is important because in higher-tier matches the Panzer I Ausf. pretty much has to become a scout because of the one big weakness of its weaponry: the penetration.

Turning to its gun selection there is basically a selection of two autoloaders. There is the 2cm Flak 38 L/112, and the 7,92mm Mauser. Many attributes between the two are the same: accuracy and elevation in particular. The Flak gun has slightly better penetration and damage, but the Mauser has a much higher rate of fire allowing for much higher burst damage with a far larger clip. Even though the Mauser has slightly less penetration and damage for each shot, its output in one sustained moment of firing outweighs the Flak gun quite considerably, which is why most players will opt for it. The one other drawback of the Mauser is, to go with its larger clip size, is its longer reload. Like with all autoloaders, timing the reload can be a significant factor in one’s success.

However, whichever gun one chooses the penetration will only be in the 30s. While this is enough for most Tier II and III vehicles (though beware the AMX 38, Pz S35, and the frontal armour of the T-127, T-60, T-70, and a handful of others, not least other Panzer I Ausf. Cs), it is far less effective when facing Tier IV or V vehicles. Premium ammo will help a little, but only a little, and at less than 8 tons of weight there is not really the option of a suicide ram either. These targets one either has to manoeuvre around or, in the case of something like the AMX 38 or higher tier vehicles, one has to spot for better-armed vehicles to destroy.

The flip side of this is when one is facing something like a Medium Mk III, or an open-topped vehicle with the Marder II, or an SPG. Against such foes the Mauser has its day, ripping them to shreds. In higher-tier matches though this lack of penetration forces the Panzer I Ausf. C into the larger scout role: it has no other.

As a scout the Panzer I Ausf. C does have quite good view range for a Tier III at a base of 340m with the upgraded turret. Its small size also means it is quite easy to hide in bushes, making in a potentially effective passive scout. However, its view range is smaller than several Tier V vehicles and so in these match-ups it still has the possibility of being caught unguarded if it is not properly situated in cover.

Of course, the Panzer I Ausf C. has one other very effective approach to scouting: active scouting, thanks to its speed. It is the fastest vehicle in the game, able to get to speeds of over 70 km/h, and with the upgraded tracks has a traverse of 48 degrees/second. That said the low weight means that the track cannot make those tight turns at high speed: it will drift. This can be an incredibly fun thing to do – but in the heat of battle is often less than ideal. However that same combination of low weight (and therefore small size) and incredible speed means that even with a somewhat wider circle one is still pretty tricky to hit. Running along a ridge-line is something that this tank excels at – and it can be a very successful suicide scout (though I would never recommend that course of action).

However, one must remember there are quite a few battlefields – and on all battlefields there are particular areas – where one simply cannot take full advantage of the top speed of the vehicle due to the layout of the ground. It can be very easy to end up crashing, either damaging or destroying one’s tracks. In this I was given a hint by a clan-mate: the addition of Enhanced Springs as it increases the durability of the suspension, making it less likely to break for various bumps one inevitably encounters.

Of course, using such a rarely used piece of equipment comes at a cost: one of those equipment slots gets used up. Given that the Improved Ventilation system is essentially a no-brainer, that leaves just one slot to fit either a camo net or binoculars. I must admit to being undecided. If I had a good camo crew and camo paint I would always plump for binoculars, as I would trust the combination of the two plus the tank’s natural camo value would be sufficient in most circumstances – the relatively small additional benefit from the camo net being outweighed by the large increase in view range. At the moment however, with my crew in the high-90s, I find it an altogether trickier decision – though I do lean towards the binoculars even so.

Two final points about the speed. The first is that there is a hidden weakness with the velocity – it becomes very easy to overextend oneself, earning a quick and useless death. It is intoxicating, and sometimes one can do fun things that are ultimately less than ideal. For example, on Karelia once I sped into the western valley. So did a Panzer I Ausf. C from the other team. We both headed towards each other full speed ahead and rammed head-on with something like 130-40km/hr of effective speed between us. Naturally we both died. Afterwards in chat I typed that I could not resist the temptation – and the other guy said exactly the same thing. All good fun – but from the perspective of the team rather silly.

The second is that if one survives long enough in match there often comes a point when enough enemy tanks have been destroyed to open a gap up in their lines. The Panzer I Ausf. C can use its speed to very effectively exploit this gap, get into the rear and kill the enemy’s SPG/s, and then scamper away before the enemy can properly react. Artillery, no matter the tier, remain vulnerable to the Mauser.

My own record with the Panzer I Ausf. C is 43 games played with 21 losses and 41 kills. Along the way I have attained my Ace Tanker Mastery badge, a single Sniper medal, and six Cool-Headed commemoratives.

My own impression is that this tank has been and continues to be a learning experience for me. I have far from cracked its potential. There is no doubt though that it is a lot of fun to play, and that I will continue to play it for some time yet.

I think probably one of the highest attainments for any writer is to have a phrase of their creation enter the wider language. Oftentimes of course this is a temporary thing, linked to the specific cultural and time in which those words resonated. Sometimes, more rarely, these phrases become more durable. More than thirty years after Curtain was published, we still speak of the “little grey cells”. More than a hundred and fifty years after Scrooge first learned how to celebrate Christmas the phrase “Bah Humbug!” still resonates. Perhaps George RR Martin’s evocative phrase will also linger, beyond the current generations. For the moment however Wargaming has chosen to use his words to title the rather grand special for this weekend on the EU server, rather than name it for that small affair on the other side of the Atlantic which has no direct meaning to us over here.

Unless of course you play on the EU server and live in the southern hemisphere, in which case Winter is not coming at all, but coming to an end.

Ok. Introspective thoughts and geographical snark aside, the special this weekend goes from Friday morning to Tuesday morning – so a full four days. Thanks to the event across the ocean it is a very generous offer, and definitely one I would like to exploit to the full.

So, first let us look at the discounts and bonuses available for tanks. Firstly all standard Tier II-V tanks are available at a 50% discount. All standard Tier VIII vehicles are available for a 15% discount. Then there is a 30% earnings bonus for all Tier VI-VII tanks. Then there is a 50% discount on premium tanks Tiers II-IV, and a 30% discount on premium tanks Tier V-VII.

All of which is great. I would advise perhaps not getting the Tier Vs, if only because they usually appear for a 50% discount on various specials. I certainly intend to take the opportunity to acquire a couple of long-term intentions, such as the M5A1 Stuart and Durchbruchswagen 2.

However, the offer extends beyond tanks. There is a 50% discount on a number of items: crew training and re-training, crew skill resets, consumables, and barracks extensions. I have been waiting for the crew training and skill reset discounts for what seems like months, and I have quite a lot of crew to re-assign. I may very well total it all up at the end, but I am expecting to save something in the order of a half a million credits. The barracks extension can be thought of as a way of maximising your garage slots – allowing you to keep an experience crew around whilst you play on a different tanks. Since the expansion adds 16 extra slots to your garage it means you can usually house three or four crews (depending on the crew complement for the various tanks).

There are two missions. The first is simple. Very simple. Called “Ice Breaker” if you have one win in a random battle you get a day of premium. The second mission is called “Bringing the Heat”, and if you kill three tanks and do 1800 damage you get 40k credits.

The final element of the offer is triple crew experience for each battle.

All in all, one hell of an offer, and we can all give thanks for that little affair going on beyond the western horizon. 🙂

So over the weekend, on Sunday specifically, I found myself feeling rather worse for wear with a head full of cold. Basically I just did not feel like playing anything that required even moderately reasonable reaction time like World of Tanks. Neither did I feel like playing anything intellectually demanding such as Kerbal Space Program or Crusader Kings II. Instead I ended up firing up Wizard 101, a game I last played over a year ago, and it provided exactly what I needed.

I had a Level 25 Conjurer and was in the second main stage of the Krokotopia world. I spent some crowns I had left over to get access for a week, and have proceeded to have some fun completing the Krokosphinx stage. The card magic provided just the right mix of challenge and ease, and I only lost one fight (due partly due to just sheer bad luck). I found picking the game up again relatively easy. Oh I am sure there are subtleties I have forgotten or never yet learned, but in the main it was easy to get into the flow once more.

One thing that I particularly like about Wizard 101 is that, having finally remembered my password, there was very little patching. This is because Wizard 101 only places a relatively small client on your pc to begin with, and then loads up the extra stuff it needs as it gets required. This meant I was playing very quickly – a great thing.

I am not sure how long my current sojourn in the Spiral will last. Probably not that long given everything else, but just for now it is has proven good, low-intensity entertainment given my circumstances.

Plus it is interesting. In a few years time, I would love to be able to play a game like this with my daughter. After all, she exists because of a MMO. It seems only just to share some of these wondrous online worlds with her (if not actually the one in which my wife and I met – EVE Online is no place for a child 🙂 ).

World of Warplanes

Well my initial course in Warplanes is set. I have chosen to progress down both British lines. I have also decided to progress down one American line, and one German like – though I have not yet decided which. However, when I say “progress” it might be more accurate to say “crawl”. I am in absolutely no hurry. So far I have just one Tier II plane – the Bulldog. On the other hand that plane is now updated with both pieces of equipment it can fit. I am intending to play it until the pilot is at least 100% before advancing onto Tier III – and before I do that I want to have at least two other Tier IIs acquired and equipped. Given how relatively little Warplanes I am playing this may take a while – but perhaps not so long because I do seem to be earning credits at a steady and satisfying rate.

World of Tanks

This last week has mostly been dominated by two projects – training the crews of my KV-1S and KV-1, taking advantage of the Interactive Special. The KV-1S crew is now at 100% and onto its first crew skill. The KV-1 crew is now into the 90s. I think the KV-1 will be a fairly regular tank for me to play right now, as I have plans for this crew.

I have also used free experience to research the tracks of the Ferdinand, Panther, and ARL V39. I have not played the ARL as yet, but there was no way I wanted to go into battle on a Tier VI tank with a gun that was stock on the Tier IV Somua SAu-40. As to the situation with the Ferdinand and Panther – it really just allows me to fit better modules to make things easier. On both tanks I am now grinding out to the higher guns.

I continue to play along with the T40, and am very much enjoying it, however in many ways this last week feels like a Tier VI week. Which makes sense, given the number of Tier VI vehicles I have available and I wish to play. On the M6 I am now just over half-way to the T29.

Looking forward to this weekend I hope to get the KV-1 crew up to the high 90s, if not 100%. Once I have done that I think I will concentrate on getting my crews currently in the VK2001D and Panzer I Ausf. C to 100%. Also I think I am going to try to get some games in on the M5 Stuart to at least research the M7.

The special this weekend is a themed one around tank destroyers. What it does not include, alas, is a discount on crew re-trains. Better luck next week. Despite this rather personal wrinkle this is a good solid offer, and it runs the usual Saturday morning to Tuesday morning.

So tank destroyers, specifically Tier VI and VII tank destroyers. All the regular Tier VI and VII tank destroyers in the game are available for a 30% discount and a 30% earnings bonus, with the exception of the Nashorn and Stuer Emil from the new German TD line.

In addition the low and mid-tier premium tank destroyers are on discount. The FCM PaK40 is available for a 50% discount, and the Dicker Max, SU-100Y, SU-122-44, and AT 15A are all available for a 30% discount.

I am tempted to re-acquire the Jagdpanther, however I am likely to resist as I want to preserve garage slots at the moment and I would not be able to spend time training up a crew for a little while. Plus even at a discount it would take a healthy bite out of my credits, when one also considers the cost of equipping it properly. I may take this opportunity though to take the ARL V39 out for its first spin.

There is one mission associated with the offer. It is called Hunter Destroyer, and each time one kills three tank destroyers in a battle you get 2k crew experience. Should be fun.

The final elements of the offer are a triple experience bonus on the first victory for each vehicle, and also a 50% discount on camouflage patterns. The last fits with the tank destroyer theme rather well. Though I will not have the funds the acquire any permanent camouflages, I will be getting some 30-day camos for the tanks I am currently playing regularly.

Overall a good, solid offer.

Just a quick note to say that, due to the depredations of my cat, my regular keyboard has been put out of action. Given I used an ergonomic keyboard and I find extended use of a ordinary keyboard becomes quite painful relatively quickly I am unlikely to be able to write much until I get a new keyboard. Unfortunately proper wonky keyboards are not the cheapest things in the world, and given this is the run-up to Christmas it may be some time before I can afford a proper replacement.

Rather annoys me as I had a number of posts I wanted to write, but sometimes that is the way it goes.