The first Japanese tank in World of Tanks is based on that widely spread French example, the Renault FT. I have ended up playing more games in it than I actually intended, in an ultimately failed effort to get the Ace Tanker. In general I have found the Renault Otsu to be a fairly un-impressive Tier I.
For me there are two main factors that lead into this vehicle being underwhelming. The first is its relatively slow speed. Of course, it is not the only slow Tier I tank, but it is light-years behind the T1 Cunningham, for example, and considerably slower than even the MS-1 or Leichttraktor. This means that it is difficult tank to get into a good position, a problem all slower tanks face. Given that Tier I battles have a tendency to be fairly short-sharp affairs this can get irritating very quickly as a lot of fighting occurs before you can have an impact.
The second frustration is the weaponry, which feels particular underpowered. Its top gun has a low 32mm of standard penetration, which will lead to frequent bounces – especially against Tier II tanks. Meanwhile its rate of fire and alpha are also low, leading to a depressed dpm. It is useful to compare it to the T1 Cunningham in this regard. The pen on the Cunningham is also about the same – but it gets a much better burst damage which generally allows it to do more damage. Alternatively one can look at the RenaultFT. That has even lower alpha and slightly worse dpm than the Otsu – but it also has 50% better penetration making it a far more reliable in doing damage. To make matters even better, like all Tier I tanks, the Otsu has poor accuracy. Long range sniping engagements are therefore far more dependent on luck than they are at later tiers. All in all it feels like the Otsu is in the opposite of the sweet spot when it comes to doing damage.
There are other compensations, but in a Tier I tank they are hard to manage to use properly at Tier I, I have found, where combat ranges tend to be closer. Firstly it has insane gun depression – 22 degrees. I don’t know if that is a record in the game – it certainly could be. Only, given the maps available to Tier I tanks it does’t always get that much opportunity to use its gun depression.
Likewise the Otsu is comparatively well armoured. You can and should be able to bounce shells from other tanks with some reliability – but you will still get penned regardless now and then. You are not going to be able to face a full clip from a Cunningham and remain unscathed even with good angling and the like.
This is not to say that the Renault Otsu cannot have its moments – it certainly can. But it struggles to be a game-changer. That combination of poor mobility and weak effective firepower, compared to its peers, limits its potential.
My own record in the Otsu stands are 20 matches played with 11 victories and 34 enemy tanks destroyed. Along the way I have earned a Confederate medal and a Cool-Headed medal, as well as First Class honours. So a decent enough run, despite not getting the Ace. The one advantage of over-playing the tank is that my Commander now has Mentor at 60%, which with the crew re-trained to the Type 95 Ha-Go will make keeping the basic crew level high easier.