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World of Tanks

I have decided not to go hell for leather anymore on the British medium line. In truth I think this decision has been some time coming, but just in the last few days I have realised that constantly pushing myself down this road is likely to cause me to burn-out. Not wanting that, I have decided to let things take a back seat for a while. This is not to say that I will not pursue the British medium line, because I certainly will. Indeed it will still be my “primary” line. I am having far too much fun playing these tanks to abandon them altogether. However, I will not try to pump out a certain amount of experience in that line every night. As it stands right now I am over 2/3 of the way to unlocking the Centurion 7/1 – though I am still about 2 million credits short. I will likely still try and get over that hump, because apart from anything else it will be good to have a second Tier IX tank to go along with the ST-I. I suspect that the FV4202, or its successor, will end up being my second Tier X as well. I suppose it is not impossible with how things at Wargaming tend to get delayed that I might get it before the switch, but I do think it is now unlikely.

The thing is, I am not unhappy about this. I always said there were going to be three likely outcomes of pursuing the Tier X, and each one had a positive outcome. So it is here – I have some very enjoyable games ahead of me in the Centurion I, and I am very much looking forward to mucking around in the Centurion 7/1. However, I also want to get a chance to blast through some more Tier V tanks, like the Wolverine and ELC AMX. This narrow pursuit has ultimately been somewhat counter to how I have always played World of Tanks, and also how I wish to play it.

There is also a matter of time – I want more time to pursue other games. This particularly struck home to me when I was trying to finish off my Russian game in EU4. Playing that and World of Tanks was getting to be a bit of a drag. I want to give myself the freedom to ignore tanks for a day or two here and there, which is not such a good thing if one is grinding to a time limit. There is EU4 I want to play, and The Long Dark, maybe some more Kerbal Space Program, Euro Truck Simulator 2, and also maybe dive back into LOTRO for a spell.

Meanwhile I think I am going to have to draw up a list of tanks to buy after I get the Centurion 7/1, as I have a number of tanks unlocked or almost unlocked to consider. Good thing I have a bit of leave coming up – should leave me lots of time for those kind of thought exercises!

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There is no way to avoid it – I am in a slump. It started just before the Togtober mission started, but it has become really noticeable as I have tried to grind out those five qualifying wins a day. Often it is taking me 15-20 games, including one spell when I went something like 0-13 across two days. Not only have I been losing, but all too often I have been crashing out of games having barely contributed, doing pitiful amounts of damage or spotting.

It is one thing to lose when one is playing well, for no matter how irritating it is to see a really good performance not get that 50% boost to wins and experience that winning brings, nevertheless one does have the inner satisfaction of knowing one has made a decent fist of things – that even if there might have been decisions that could have done better, things still went pretty well. One sometimes also will get courageous resistance, which can lessen the sting even further, and if one is playing well then Battle Honours are more likely.

However, when one is generally playing poorly there is no such consolation. You stare the defeat screen in the face full in the knowledge that you were a deadweight to your team. Rather than getting irritated, even aggravated, by losing despite playing well, losing when playing poorly will just sap the energy. It becomes like a gaming equivalent of writers’ block. Generally, the entire experience one wishes to avoid if at all possible.

The most obvious way my slump has manifested for me is that my winrate has dropped by over 0.15% over the course of the last week. This may sound tiny, but since I am approaching 10k games it starts to become a more significant number. However, when I realised the above it did spark a couple of thoughts for me, that I have actually found quite encouraging.

Firstly, the way I am currently playing is probably still above average, compared to the World of Tanks general playerbase. I am still getting kills, still getting Fire for Effect awards, and various other things, so I am still doing things well. Also, I am not content. The mass of World of Tanks players whose win-rate hovers around 50% would probably get a little annoyed that I am obsessing over a small slump, which in all likelihood will reverse itself. For me a bad patch, though still with some good games, is probably akin to their normal experience. Essentially feeling sorry for myself is an indulgence.

Secondly, it is not all doom and gloom. Most nights I have had some great games along with all the rest, and all but one night I have played I have reached the necessary total. This means I basically should try to stop stressing about it and just get on and play and have fun. I have managed to get a Mark of Excellence in the VK3601H, and I have had some great games in the Centurion I (my grind to the Centurion 7/1 is about 25% done).

Time to launch the game and enjoy myself.

The EU World of Tanks portal has today confirmed a set of missions for the rest of the month (starting tomorrow) which allow one the chance of getting a free TOG II*. For those who read For the Record, the possibility of this mission was leaked several weeks ago. However, while FTR leaks are generally good information, plans can change so I was cautious about getting too excited. However, now the word is official, and there is a free TOG in the offing.

I actually already own a TOG – I bought it on special offer not all that long ago. I haven’t had a chance to take it out yet, as I have been concentrating on my British medium grind. In particular I haven’t had the spare credits to kit it out with proper equipment (probably going to go for Vents, Rammer, and possibly an EGLD or Binocs), and I don’t want to take it out without the equipment. However, this mission still is of interest to me since if I manage to successfully complete it I will be credited with the TOG’s gold price, a very tidy 3500 gold.

The setup is quite simple – a daily mission which has to be completed fifteen times from 0710 tomorrow and 0700 on 1st November. This means there are twenty-four possible days to complete, which means one can “miss” nine days and still be in with a chance. The mission itself is to win five Tier V+ matches, being in the top 10 in base experience. That should be quite achievable. Each successfully completed daily also earns a Large Repair Kit and Automatic Fire Extinguisher (apparently Large First Aid Kits are not in as much demand or something), which will be nice enough, though I so far only equip those on my lone Tier X.

All in all I think we will be seeing quite a lot of TOGs when this is all over, since the requirements do appear to be rather easy (somewhat easier than the two sets of missions about to come to a close).

It also makes me wonder if they are going to do something like the IS-6 series of missions that happened last Christmas. I would be very much interested were that to be the case, and am busily working towards getting at least one Tier VI tank in each nation just in case. Just in case. It never hurts to be prepared.

So the latest of the “fun” modes has started in World of Tanks. To the best of my memory the Chaffee race is the third fun mode in the game, following the success of KARL and the Football mode. Just like the previous two I am unlikely in the extreme ever to play the Chaffee race, for what may be the simplest of reasons: I just don’t get it.

Really. I scratch my head and cannot work out why people want to play them. Well that is not entirely true, I can appreciate on a very intellectual level that other people do indeed find these game modes diverting, a bit of a laugh, and generally a nice break from the usual grind. However, whenever I try to advance from that intellectual supposition to something approaching actual understanding my brain doesn’t make the leap.

One clear reason for my lack of comprehension is that if I want to do something a bit different than the daily tank grind I will … go and do something different. My Steam and GoG.com libraries are hardly as extensive as many, but there are a sufficiently wide range of diverting games to cover most of my modes, and if I don’t want to game I have plenty of other avenues of entertainment as well.

Ultimately I think this is a minor example of a challenge I do face, in life in general, and not just in gaming. It is a feature of my Asperger’s that makes it very difficult at times to understand other people except at a very superficial intellectual level, which really is no understanding at all. The thing is – that’s ok. I don’t have to understand the motivations of other people for something like this. It is there, and I am sure lots of people will enjoy the experience, and I am happy that they will. In return however I do want people to understand that these things hold no interest – but sometimes people don’t. They seem surprised, and it is not always easy to explain to people for whom English is not their first language the reason why.

That said I have not yet encountered any actual insults as a consequence of this, not even stretching the meaning of the term. The QSF community is generally pretty chilled. The world turns, but it turns slowly, but it does turn.

As a somewhat delayed birthday present to myself last month I got the Jagdtiger 8.8cm, the Tier VIII premium German tank destroyer, whilst it was on special offer. Whilst I already have a Tier VIII premium – the KV-5 – I have been finding it a little less enjoyable to play. I think probably because it was my only Tier VIII premium meant I have ended up getting a bit of burn-out with it, which is a shame since I have had some great games in that tank. Anyways, the JT88 has always been on my list of premiums to acquire, so I was very much excited to get it.

So far I have played just over 50 games in it, desperately earning credits, and my win rate is pretty much in live with my overall win rate. Mostly I have been enjoying myself. I have always heard that this was a very good credit earner – even for a Tier VIII premium – and my limited experience very much backs that up.

The thing I like least about the tank is simply its general mobility. This is no real surprise, it is a rather large and unwieldy beast. I am very much going to have to get better at ensuring I don’t get caught out with some annoying scout behind me. It has also lead to a few fast paced games when I have rather been left behind by the action, and the slow speed also makes it hard to fully impact a battlefield in some matches. That, of course, is just the nature of the beast, and probably good practice for when I eventually get into such speedy behemoths as the T95 (probably not until 2016!).

Otherwise I really find little else to dislike. The front is reasonably bouncy, and whilst the sides and rear are generally quite weak there are not impossibly so. The gun does have low pen, but its rate of fire is insane and very much allows one just to pepper a target to death. It does mean I am going to have to really learn when I need to use premium ammo, something I am working on – and also when premium ammo will not be all that useful and so to concentrate on tracking and the like. The alpha isn’t brilliant, but is adequate when compared to the rate of fire. It does mean exposure, but if positioned right this does have the frontal armour to risk that exposure. If positioned right. Another thing to work on, since my positioning on certain maps is, shall we say, less than intelligent.

The crew I am currently using on the JT88 is a mixed one. Half of it is my old Marder II crew, steadily working on their 4th crew skill. The remaining three crew members I have taken from my Ferdinand, which are now on their second crew skill.

However, I bought the tank mostly for its earning potential, and there I am very happy. Even on my poorest games I am managing to get 20k profit, average earning is between 35k and 70k, depending on a victory or loss. I have had some killer games though, making a profit of over 90k on a loss and 120k on a win. Hopefully I will get more of those as things go.

Well, it has proven to be very difficult to get back into blogging following the holiday. To be fair, it has also proven to difficult to get back to a few other activities as well. The return to work was swiftly following by some bugs (probably caught on the flight) and then quite a few family engagements and stuff, meaning I have kept shoving to one side getting back to both blogging and AAR writing. I have decided to return to blogging first as it is somewhat quicker and easier to do.

When I was on holiday I spent some time trying to work out what my short and medium term goals were going to be in the remainder of the year. I had just about settled on what they should be on my mind, when I started to read about the possibility that those who owned the current Tier X British medium, the FV4202, would get to keep it in its Tier VIII premium incarnation when it was swapped out in its Tier X role with another tank. There is precedent for this, because Wargaming did something similar shortly after I started playing with the T34. On the other, it could all just be false information. So I thought it about for a few more days, and came up with the following three scenarios.

  1. The free switch takes place, and I have managed to get the FV4202. I end up with a new Tier VIII premium, and my second Tier X tank.
  2. The free switch does not take place, but I have managed to get the FV4202. I end with my second Tier X tank.
  3. I do not manage to unlock and acquire the FV4202 before the switch, so regardless of whether the Tier VIII is free, I do not get it. Realistically I have probably unlocked another Tier VIII tank, and possibly a Tier IX tank.

So I looked at those scenarios, and I asked myself a question – do I lose out in any of those three situations? Obviously in the first scenario the answer is no – I clearly end up ahead. Turning to the second scenario – I have been speaking of wishing to unlock a second Tier X for quite a few months now, and in this scenario I would have had the impetus to do so, and it would be a Tier X rather different from my current IS-4. Once again, I think I can count that scenario as an ultimate win.

Now what about the third scenario – and this was a very likely scenario. Two things could cause me not to get be in a position to get the FV4202. The first was lack of time. At that moment in time I was still on a partially researched Cromwell. I worked out I had something in excess of 850k experience to go, unlocking the line and various modules. I would also need to amass something like 12-13 million credits. Given it was pure supposition when this change was meant to take place – I was betting early-mid December (before Christmas) I thought the timing was going to be tight, but possible, if I devoted most of my gaming time to this.

Which leads me to the second reason – I know myself well enough to know I could get very bored of just concentrating on the same tank again and again. I made it plain to myself that if I felt I was suffering too much from the grind, I would stop. With that self-made promise, I decided I had nothing to lose. With a healthy sense of scepticism, of course, since I could very well be heading to scenario 2.

That was about a month or so ago – so things have moved on a little. Firstly I have managed to finish the Cromwell, and the Comet, and am now on the Centurion. I free xp’d the gun and tracks on the Centurion following reading about, and have now also unlocked the turret. I still have the gun (which I will hopefully manage tonight) and the top engine and radio before I begin the long grind to Tier IX. Overall I have had quite a bit of fun so far with the grind, so there is another “win” so far, since fun is, after all, the ultimate point of playing.

As for the likelihood of actually getting a “free” FV4202, we don’t actually know a great deal more than we did before either. About the only thing that is becoming plain is that the switch date is increasingly looking likely to be pushed back into 2015. I am still feeling fairly relaxed about whether or not I actually do end up with a Tier VIII premium at the end of all this – the wonderful result of realistic expectations. I am starting to think though that I am going to stretch for the FV4202 regardless however, if only just to get that second Tier X tank. However, given the pressure of the timing appears to be slacking off somewhat, I have going to allow myself time to frolic around in some other tanks.

In particular I would like to advance the Japanese and Chinese tank lines a little bit, so I can unlock the Chi-To and IS-2 respectively, but these are ultimately still secondary goals. I also wish to keep plugging away at the Panther II, IS-3, and other Tier VIII lines. Realistically though I am unlikely to be purchasing many other tanks other than what is absolutely necessary, as those credits still have to come from somewhere!

I have decided to take something of a hiatus from World of Tanks.

This is primarily because at the moment I am just too tired. My daughter is going through a phase of rather disrupted sleep, and for various reasons I pull the night-time duty. Naturally my daughter is now also waking up relatively early (though generally very happily). Given I sometimes have difficulty getting to sleep at the best of times, this has now meant a relatively sleep deprived couple of weeks, and it is definitely showing when I try to play the game. My ability to notice what is going on in the match, and my ability to make good decisions, are both compromised, which altogether means I am just not having as much fun as I usually would.

So, a break for a couple of weeks to try to refresh and then reset. I won’t say I won’t log in at all, just giving myself an extended freedom not to even if I am feeling “okay”.

This naturally means I will likely playing rather more EVE. What I am doing in EVE generally doesn’t require fast reflexes or quick decision-making. Might also explore some other games as well.