So I have done it. I have finally, after much faffing, dilly-dallying, and general procrastination bought the ST-I.
Then I did what I have not done since I researched the Panzer IV – well over a year ago – I burned through free experience. I have occasionally used free experience just to finish off some research when there has been under 100xp to go or something like that. I was tempted to complete the A-20 with free experience, but eventually resisted. This had resulted in my having, as of Saturday morning, over 260k free experience saved up. A goodly amount. I always knew I was likely to use some of that up when I bought the ST-I, and for a very simple reason: the stock gun.
The stock gun of the ST-I is the top gun of the KV-3. In a Tier VII tank it was perfectly good, though obviously it struggled a bit with the higher tier tanks. It was also the first gun I used in the KV-4, and it was a tough grind as it does struggle a bit with those Tier VIII tanks, let alone the greater number of Tier IXs and Xs one encountered. When in the ST-I, when one is always going to be encountering Tier IXs, and Tier VIIs only rarely, it was going to be hell. I have heard it described more that once as one of the toughest, if not the toughest, grind in the game. Unless one has played the IS-3 and unlocked the BL-9, the intermediate gun for the ST-I, which is a great Tier VIII gun that is much more effective. I haven’t, of course, played the IS-3.
So I unlocked it, and then I was faced by a choice. Should I also unlock the upgraded turret. From all I know the upgraded turret is one of the real strengths of ST-I, very easily capable of bouncing Tier IX, and even Tier X tanks. If I was still playing solo I would probably not have gone for it, but now I am a member of a clan and wanting to get my first Tier X tank as a consequence of that I researched that as well, which in turn necessitated researching the tracks to be able to mount the thing. All of which was about 94k experience used up.
I then equipped the tank with a Vertical Stabiliser, Vents, and Rammer. I already had the VStab, but the rest I had to buy. I then had a to chose a crew, and I ported my KV-4 crew over, sans the radio operator which the ST-I does not require. I moved my KV-1 crew (once again, sans the radio operator as that was unneeded) into the KV-4 – and also retrained and old crew-man I have had lurking in my barracks technically trained on the KV-5 (from the time when the crew training abilities of premium tanks had not clicked with me).
After all of that – indeed before I re-crewed the KV-4 since that came later in the evening, and after I selected the necessary ammo, I had just 2002 credits left. It has been a long time since I was so poor.
Still, after getting some credits with other tanks I managed a few games, a few platooned with a clanmate, and first impressions were good. To be sure, the tank is not performing fully yet – the top gun still has 40k+ experience to go and the engine has yet to be upgraded, but so far I like it. Also my ST-I crew is already back at 100% thanks to the triple crew experience for Tier XI and X tanks portion of the offer.
I do now need to re-crew the KV-1 at some point and get that crew ticking along once more, but I always expected that. Altogether I consider the weekend a success already, even though I have managed only one day’s tanking so far.