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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Trying to get back into the rhythm of blogging is proving harder than expected. Will need to try and use my time more efficiently. Otherwise I have done quite a bit less this last week. Ended up feeling very out of sorts earlier in the week, which rather sapped my energy. It happens. Another reason is that I ended up sending most of one evening, and part of another, trying to get Star Fleet Command 1 to work on my pc, but ultimately I didn’t manage it.

World of Tanks

Well the headline news is that I have bought and played my first battles in the IS-3, having transferred the crew over from the IS. I have it kitted up with vents, rammer, and stabs. Not ultimately sure if that is the best combination, but it is what I am going with at the moment. Only the turret and tracks are not upgraded, and I will be going for the turret first of all. Had a mixed first few games in it, but also some fun.

On the T29 the top gun is unlocked and is proving nicely powerful. I have had a very bad run with the T29 this week. In quite a few of the battles I performed well enough – though there were a couple of completely idiotic games. Even so, I clearly had chances I did not take. Hopefully as I continue to update the rest of the tank more of those opportunities will be realised. My next target is the turret, which improves the view range by 50m, and after that it will be the engines.

I also finally elited the ARL V39. I then realised that I only have the 2nd class tanker medal in it. This slightly surprised me. I knew I had struggled in the tank, but clearly I have struggled more than I expected. I am now determined to at least get the 1st Class, and I may even get stubborn enough to give the Ace Tanker a try. It is like the ARL V39 is a challenge.

As to my other grinds they also progress, with varying degrees of slowness. On the Panther the Panther II is half-researched. I have less than 10k to go on the ST-I to the IS-4 – and the crew for the IS-4 is now sitting at 97% on the first crew skill. I have just blown a lot of credits on the IS-3, and currently have just under a million. I would hope to be able to buy the IS-4 by the end of February, but time will tell.

In lower-tier tanks I am just 1 or 2 good games away from unlocked the Crusader on the Covenanter. On the Japanese tanks I am just in pursuit of the Ace Tanker medals.

World of Warplanes

I have my second Tier III plane – the Skua – and I have most of the modules now researched. Otherwise I am now saving up credits to get the Bristol 143. To own and equip it, with credit crew retrain, will I think take around 200k credits so I will be at it for a bit.

I have decided I am going to have to experiment a little with ammo types as well. Seems silly to ignore this feature.

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Probably the most notable thing about the 8.11 update that is currently in Public Test is the fact there are no new tanks included for general release. I must admit I am struggling to think the last time that happened. This makes the update much more tightly focused on gameplay changes.

Without having tanks to easily identify this update, I imagine it will probably be remembered for the introduction of a new battle mode: national battles. The idea here is simple enough – each team entirely consists of tanks from one nation. Chinese and Japanese tanks currently will not take part in this due to their limited tech trees. So to, no doubt, will platoons which mix tanks of different nations. On one level this is not really all that big a change. The battles will be fought under standard battle rules, so what is really going on here is changing the nature of a team lineup. There has been a lot of discussion as to implications for balance here, in particular focused it seems on whether Tier VI will be over-run with KV-1S avalanches. While I think there may be some balance issues thrown up, I otherwise am content to wait and see. I am neither very excited, or against, the prospect. It is a cute idea, and if it adds a little variation it will be a good thing.

There is also a new map being added called Windstorm, another Arctic map with a mix of urban and rural. It sounds like fun. They are also removing a map from the game entirely – Port. Port was never a map I particularly looked forward to playing, even though I have had a few really good games on it. It always felt quite easy to play hideously wrong. Apparently there have also been a few amendments to Highway, Erlenberg, Redshire, and North-West. Finally in a cosmetic change a winter version of Himmelsdorf is being release, and a different version of Ruinberg with lots of background fires. Both apparently look excellent.

In terms of actual gameplay probably the biggest change is the rebalance to most Tier X tank destroyers. This essentially consists of nerfing their alpha damage, and their dpm to varying degrees. I put this ultimately down to a consequence of the artillery nerf had the impact of a lot of players switching from arty to the next best thing. I wonder if perhaps in 3-4 years’ time the entire tank balancing will come full circle.

There are also quite a few quality of life little improvements coming in this update. An icon to help you notice if you have been put on fire, and the ability to mass retrain the crew. You can disable the automatic camera switch to the tank that kills you (if it is spotted). Also the ability to right click on the tank in the garage and go directly to that tank’s statistics.

They are also introducing some new medals, two for ordinary battles and five exclusively for team battles. Along with the medal changes they are, in effect, removing the Sniper medal. Sniper medals already earned will not go away, they will just be put into a unique category and no more will be earned. I can understand this on one level – it is by far the easiest of the Battle Honours to get, but even so I consider it a shame and is probably the only item in this update that I am unhappy with. Albeit, not that unhappy. On the flip side in the post-battle results we will apparently now be told which sort of Mastery badge that particular battle was worthy of, even if we have already earned that level. While a purely cosmetic change, I must say I rather like it.

All in all this is a fairly small update, all things considered, but not an insignificant one. It will be interesting to see how National Battles work out, and the new map, but I have no particular interests here other than to see this game hopefully improve.

 

This is another fortnightly update – but it shouldn’t have been. I literally have just realised that the post I wrote for last week is still a draft. A facepalm moment if ever there was one. All of which means there is a fair bit to go over. My gaming the last fortnight has suffered somewhat from two, rather different, set of interruptions. The first was I read my way through the new Terry Pratchett book “Raising Steam” and also the first book of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. Both were very good reads I can recommend. The second cause of interruption was general tiredness following several unsettled nights. C’est la vie. Nevertheless I have managed to get a considerable amount of gaming done.

World of Tanks

I ended up not getting enough credits to get the Tiger II whilst the New Year discounts were still active. This is a shame, but my focus now is on getting the IS-3 instead. I have only about 10k xp to go on the IS so that should be quite soon. My next aim is then to save up credits for the IS-4 and Panther II. I have less than 50k to go now on the ST-I, and about the same on the Panther.

The long grind for the Ferdinand top gun continues, but it is a secondary tank for me at the moment so that is taking time. I am struggling a bit with the Ferdi still, since basically it lacks punch. I know this will cease to be a problem with the top gun, so I am being patient. On the T29 I am about 2/3 of the way to unlocking its top gun. That will, I am sure, make unlocking the rest of the modules quite a bit easier. It is still very difficult to judge this tank given that it is still mostly stock.

My grind on the ARL V39 is also almost done, with only about 12k to go. I will not be immediately buying the French Tier VII TD – I will wait to see if it comes up on special offer. I hope to be done with it this coming week, but that rather depends on playtime. I have also started to play the Covenanter at Tier IV. It is now fully upgraded and I hope to have the Crusader unlocked in the next 7-10 days. It is not a bad tank, but I am not sure of the best setup for it.

I have started playing Japanese tanks. The Renault Otsu I have found to be quite fun. I am currently failing to get the Ace Tanker medal. I probably should just move on, but I am getting stubborn about it. I have also played a few games in the Chi-Ni, of which I so far do not have a favourable impression.

As far as crew training projects are concerned the KV-1 crew is now at 95% on its first crew skill. I am aiming to get the second skill up to about 60% (after I have retrained the Commander to Sixth Sense) so it will take a while yet. My crew on the Marder 38T now also has its two new members at 100% on the primary skill. I will aim to get camouflage up to around 60% or so before moving onto the next tank in the line.

World of Warplanes

I am now the proud owner of a Skua. I have yet to actually play any games in it, but it is bought, equipped, and the crew retrained. My crew for the Bristol 133 is also now back at 100% on the main qualification, so now the credit grind begins for the Tier IV.

Kerbal Space Program

I took a lander out to the Mun on my career game, but in the end I only orbited and return to Kerbin. I had issues in the take-off – I ended up doing so in a retrograde orbit and used up far too much fuel. Also the more I thought about my design the less certain I was it had enough fuel in the lander itself. Some tests I later did more or less confirmed that.

Since then I have redesigned a lander that I have somewhat more confidence in. It is a totally new design for me, using radial engines. I have no idea if it will work – and I cannot test it until I get a good launch vehicle for this. I am experimenting with several designs for this right now, but so far all have been decidedly un-successful.

This is leading me to consider a complete change of approach, and to try and land a probe launcher that only has to make it down to the surface. The amount of science one gets from transmission is far less than recovery. On the other hand a series of probe missions to the Mun and Minmus might garner me enough science to unlock several more technologies that would make Kerbol-landers more likely to succeed. I might also be able to use a successful probe lander design to head out to some of the other planets.

Skyrim

Not done a great deal, but have just done a little. Rather than going straight back to Solitude from Whiterun I instead stopped by the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary and handed in a couple of Contracts, and picked up the next quest in that storyline. I then used the Sanctuary as a base to go and get the drum that the Minstrel’s Guild wanted, and the second portion of Mehrunes’ Razor.

I am now deciding whether to go back to Solitude now, or to divert to the next step in the Brotherhood Storyline.

War Thunder

I actually fired this up just yesterday. The last time I locked in was many versions ago, so it was a pretty big download, and lots of things have changed. I only played one game, and in that game I remembered some of the things I used to like about War Thunder and some of the thinks I disliked. I am not intending to play War Thunder very deeply. At this point it is almost entirely a compare and contrast with World of Warplanes, though remembering the fact WoWP is barely out of the hangar, whilst War Thunder has been up and running for well over a year now.

The B1 is a much maligned tank, both in real life and in the game. The in-game tank is not quite the historical article, inasmuch as World of Tanks does not yet have a multi-gun mechanism. This means that the large hull-mounted weapon is currently decorative rather than functional, meaning on has to rely on the smaller turret weapon for its somewhat lacklustre firepower. When judging the B1 one has to also remember that it has limited matchmaking – by itself it will only see Tier IV and V matches.

In some respects however the in-game vehicle is familiar, as its follows basically the same design features as the D1 and D2 – good armour and weak gun. In particular the armour is nothing to be sneezed at – a full 60mm to the front and sides. Physically the tank is also large with 420 hitpoints – a lot for Tier IV. Angled this means that the B1 can withstand a considerable amount of punishment. To be sure the Tier IV Tank destroyers remain very considerable threats in terms damage, as will Tier V tanks. However, with good angling you will still get bounces. One thing to note is that the large size of the tank makes it a relatively easy target to hit, and that the side armour is flat.

The turret is placed far forward on the tank, really a small bump at the front. It does however have on under-appreciated aspect – great gun depression. This means it is quite possible to hide most or all the hull beneath a fold in the ground, or an obstacle, and still shoot while exposing only a small target. The turret is not that well armoured but it is very small, which makes it tricky enough to hit in the first place.

Combined with the gun depression is actually a surprising agility with a track traverse of 28 degrees / second. The top speed is a bit underwhelming at just 28 km/h, but the upgraded engine means it gets there quite quickly. This allows the B1 a surprising degree of mobility, and a large degree of tactical flexibility. You can quickly reposition yourself and make use of the surrounding terrain.

You need this flexibility because of the other chief feature of the B1 as currently implemented – its poor firepower. The B1 has available a succession of 47mm guns with poor alpha and mediocre penetration. Even the upgraded weapon is anaemic on both fronts: an average alpha of just 55 and regular penetration of 66. That means this gun cannot, using regular ammo, reliably penetrate the Matilda, the front of the Hetzer, or the front of the M3 Lee. It will only scratch the paintwork of various Tier V tanks, especially the KV-1 or front of the M4 Sherman. With even a moderate angle it cannot reliably penetrate itself. And when it does penetrate, almost nothing. It takes 5 shots, on average, to kill a Marder 38T. Thankfully the rate of fire is high, at a rated 26/minute, with an aim-time to match. The accuracy is nothing special however, so shots can and so go astray.

The gun is no doubt the chief reason why this tank is so roundly loathed. However, I found some considerable success with it, even going so far as being able to penetrate both Matilda and KV-1 tanks. I did this by using premium ammunition, which is essential I found to be effective in Tier V matches. With premium ammo you can even pen the front of a KV-1 – if you know the weakspots.

And here I think is the crux of the problem with the B1 – to truly make this vehicle work you have to be able to play this game at a higher level. You have to know weakspots, know when to use premium ammunition or regular ammunition, how best to make use of the agility and gun depression, and how to give your armour the best chance of being effective. In other words it is just a difficult tank to make the most of. It is also, inevitably, a frustrating tank. No matter what one does, meeting up with a KV-1 or T1 Heavy is likely to be fatal. Also the Hetzer has a good chance of a penetrating shot with its howitzer which, with a sufficiently good roll, can totally wreck you.

Despite this, and despite some very frustrating games, I have ended up having a good time in the B1. I played 24 battles, and ended up with a 50% win-rate. That is not surprising given that this is underpowered. However, within those 24 battles I also killed 41 enemy tanks and earned 2 Top Gun medals, a Sniper medal, and a Steel Wall, and achieved my Ace Tanker. I really can’t complain.

I won’t be keeping the B1, but I do have some fond memories.

So, 2014 is here and the New Year celebrations are at an end, not to mention the festival diseases appear to have worked their nefarious way through the system and been shown the door. Time therefore to look ahead to what one might wish to achieve in the year ahead. Of course, there are two very good sayings when it comes to plans – that they are a basis for change, and that no plan survives first contact with the enemy. We shall see how well these plans hold up.

Tier X Tanks

This year is when I wish to start Tier X action. The first Tier X I will have will be the IS-4, given that I have less than 50k experience to go. However, once I have that tank researched I wish to start concentrating on another. I would prefer to go for a vehicle used more in Clan Wars, but I don’t really want to do another Russian heavy. As for other lines, for the “in demand” tanks I will aim for the T110E5. I am not terribly close to it, having just unlocked the T29, but it is a good place to start. However, part of my also wants to look out for a non-heavy. Therefore I am thinking perhaps also working my way to the E-50 Ausf. M. I am already on the final grind to the Panther II, so it is something that should be manageable in the year.

That being the case I would have two heavies and one medium. To complete the Tier X “set” as it were I think it would be useful to have two other aims. Well, I have the Ferdinand so the Jagdpanzer E-100 is obvious. I think I will also choose to work my way up the French TDs, but we shall see how it goes. That just leaves SPGs. Of course I have the GW Panther, but I think I would prefer to go to another nation, so I have decided to grind out the British SPG line at some point in the year.

Now realistically I do not expect to get all these Tier X tanks in 2014. I would be surprised if I get more than three, including the IS-4. Nevertheless I think it is good to have aspirations, so right now these are mine.

Tiers IV-VIII

While working on the top of the tech trees, I also have a hankering to filling out the lower band. Apart from the Japanese and SPGs I already have all Tier IVs either elited or researched. However I want to continue to work at them, and be at a situation where I have researched all Tier VI heavies, mediums, and TDs. I will also try for the lights, but I know myself well enough to believe a certain caution is warranted there.

The other reason for this desire to try to ensure I am well-placed if there is ever another offer such as the IS-6 missions. Of course, if Wargaming do have another similar set of missions it might not be Tier VI that it is based on. I would not be surprised if it were anything from Tier V to Tier VIII. To that end I would also like to ensure I have researched at least one Tier VIII tank of each nation. This is ambitious, given everything else, but what is the point of aiming low?

Of course for Germany and Russia this is already managed. The USA will also take care of itself fairly naturally as I play up through the heavies. For the Japanese there is only the one option of course, which absolves me of the need to make a decision. That leaves the French, Chinese, and British. For the French it is likely to the be the TD line. As far as the Chinese are concerned I think it most likely that I will explore the mediums. For the British, despite my intention to go up the SPGs line I would also like to do another regular tank line. The thing is, I would do all the British tank lines. That one is going to tank some thought.

Blog

As regards to my writing about World of Tanks, I do intend to make one change. I am going to stop posting the specials I have been doing so. When I started there were no missions, it was all very concentrated. Plus it was a useful way to talk about my own intentions. Well, now I am writing those weekly gaming update posts I can refer to any specials or missions as necessary.

Last but not least

All the above sounds like a lot of grinding. Which it would mean, of course. So it is important to end this article with my chief aim for World of Tanks this year: to have fun.

 

Well, this is really a post about my gaming for the last fortnight. Or rather interrupted gaming. As referred to in my January post a sequence of illnesses afflicting myself and the rest of my family, plus expending most of my energy at work, has impacted both gaming and blogging. We are all starting to look and sound healthier now, so hopefully both will start to increase now.

World of Tanks

The chief achievements in the last two weeks have been to complete the IS-6 combat missions for the USSR, Germany, and the USA, meaning nine days’ worth of premium. I gave up trying to go for the French mission – I started to really struggle with the ARL V39. My limited gaming also preventing me taking full advantage of the 50% discount on equipment and camouflage. I did what I could, and got equipment for a number of tanks, but there are still several more I need to work up the credits for.

Along with a run of defeats with the ARL I also had a set of defeats with the A-43 – though I did not find them anywhere near so frustrating. While that tank is very difficult to play in a Tier VIII match-up it is not without possibilities even there, and I have had some really fun games. Most of my tanks played have been Tier VI tanks, along with the KV-5 in a credit earning attempt, and continuing to grind the ST-I.

I am, on the whole, very glad I have now done all the Tier VI work I needed for the missions, as it was definitely becoming a drag. For the next week I have three main aims. Firstly is to earn credits. I would very much like to acquire the Tiger II at the discount before the end of the specials, and finish transferring crews around as necessary. I also want to take advantage of the crew experience bonuses to work on some tank crews. Finally I want to get back to my regular rotation of tanks. As part of this final desire I will be working to complete the various Tier VI grinds that I started as part of the special offer.

World of Warplanes

Managed to get some games in, at last, and I have purchased my third Tier II in the German Messerschmitt line. My intention is to acquire the Tier III Skua, before then getting my first Tier IV.

Despite my inexperience I do find I am quite regularly capable of success in Warplanes. I think that might be the experience of tanks in ways that apply cross-game (battle awareness and the like). It nevertheless remains a secondary game.

Kerbal Space Program

I spent an enjoyable evening mucking around with various rocket designs. All turned out to be unsuccessful – but one of the great things about Kerbal is that even un-successful designs can be a lot of fun.

Fallen Earth

When I was feeling miserable, grotty, and far too poorly to play anything “seriously”, which pretty meant everything I ordinarily play at the moment. So I decided to do something entirely different in the hope that it would divert me. I have been aware of Fallen Earth since before launch, and vaguely interested. The idea of a post-apocalyptic setting does intrigue, as does everything I have ever read about the crafting and levelling systems.

I will write up my thoughts more fully in a different post, but I decided I would do all three starter areas rather than just one and move on. I started in Midway and then moved onto Boneclaw. I am now in Clinton FARM. The game so far is enjoyable and fun. While it does not have quite the polish of bigger budget MMOs, the stories are well-crafted. What I have seen so far of crafting reminds me a lot of EVE.

All in all, a very good distraction from my ailments.

Overall

This post ended up being rather delayed by illness that got through most of my family in the days around and immediately following the New Year. The figures in the stat section, however, are all current as of the 1st January.

December has not been as successful as I hoped back at the start of the month, and I have not achieved all that I desired. This has less to do with the holidays, than with a series of ailments affecting both myself and my daughter that has both cut into my playing time, but also my playing ability – you are not at your best on just a couple of hours’ sleep.

Nevertheless I have managed to have fun, which is the chief object of the exercise. Hopefully this period of ill health will pass, and I will be better able to improve my game going forward as well. It is not as if the last fortnight or so has been bereft of achievement either.

In this last period my gameplay has also been dominated by the Christmas offers, in particular the IS-6 missions. Even though I am not going for the IS-6 myself, given my limited game time I have been grinding the Tier VIs has been a fairly major occupation.

I am going to do a kind of New Year Resolution-style post of what I would like to get out of the year, but as far as January is concerned I am hoping to complete some of the grinds that have started as a result of the IS-6 missions, and also perhaps get the IS-4 – though that might be pushed into February.

Garage Trip

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