Big Guns, Slow Tanks, and Crew Training

Now into tier VI with the KV-2 and the JgPz IV, I am no longer earning a new tank to drive every week.  Proportionally you just need more credits and more experience to move up tiers the higher you get.  Those who climbed all the way into tier X deserve their free T-shirts.

I do not play enough… just hit 1000 battles mark… or well enough… 50% win ratio is coin flip time… to vault up that high any time soon.  My goal for this year is to obtain a tier IX vehicle.

Still, there are advances to be made.  The KV-2 started out with the 122mm U-11 gun.

122mm KV-2

122mm KV-2

But I managed to finally earn enough experience to get the 152mm M-10 gun plus the upgrades needed to support it.  The big “derp” gun was mine at last.

152mm KV-2

152mm KV-2

And it worked as advertised.  I managed to one-shot a lightly damaged Churchill on my first outing, catching it broadside as it crossed a street I was camping.  Very satisfying.

Of course, it was just a Churchill.  That model is the staple of the British heavy tank line, which is enough to make me avoid the British heavy tank line.  I love shooting them, but couldn’t see myself driving one.  What crap tanks.  If I went for the British tree, it would be to get one of those fast and annoying Cromwells.  They are always sneaking up on my flank.

The shiny fun of the 152mm gun started to wear off pretty quickly though.  It is really a gun for a specific environment.  If a city map, or at least a map with some confined space, comes up in the match maker, where engagement ranges are close, I am pretty good.  But a wide open map where I might have to engage people at a distance and where I do not have a place to run and hide… and go make a sandwich… while the 152 reloads, then things tend to go less well.  I get lit up with hits like a pinball machine, the first of which inevitable breaks a track, rendering me immobile.

And the 152 isn’t always up to the job even in close quarters.  I had a heavily damaged T-29 come around the corner at one point, allowing me to fire on him at spitting distance.  But I got the “it bounced off” message.  And then came that embarrassing moment where I am reloading and backing up and waiting for the inevitable pain as his turret slewed around and he opened fire.  He lived, I died.

Comedy isn’t always pretty.

So I spent a chunk of time on Sunday working to get enough experience to the 107mm ZiS-6 gun which, among its virtues, looks even more ridiculous on the KV-2 than the other two guns.

107mm KV-2

107mm KV-2

It is like the Pinocchio tank, and I have been telling people I am ‘leet. (And generally, not only is my nose long but my pants… or at least my engine compartment… is often on fire.)

This gun is much more to my liking.  It is more accurate.  I can hit things at range now and again.  It has better penetration, so things I hit usually feel it.  It reloads fast enough that I can get off more than 4 or 5 shots a match.  And it is lighter, which means the whole tank is lighter, so I can move a bit faster.  With the 152mm gun mounted I swear I had a KV-1S pass me while in reverse.

Of course, that 107mm gun was kind of expensive in experience, so I cheated a bit by converting some experience from my gold Churchill III tank.

Wait, what?

Wasn’t I just denigrating the British heavy tanks because of the Churchill?

Yes I was.  And I still feel that way in general.  I enjoy shooting a Churchill with my KV-1 or my StuG. III… or especially with my KV-2… more than driving one.  And I am not going to start on the British tank tree any time soon.  But the premium Churchill III has certain advantages of which I was previously unaware.

Over at The Mittani there is an article up comparing the relative merits of the tier V premium tanks in the game.  Premium tanks are the ones you buy with the RMT currency, gold, which you must acquire with real world cash.

I have generally eschewed the premium tanks.  I do have a Type 59, which I bought back when it was considered over-powered.  I have generally used it to earn credits or to just run out and play in the higher tiers when not working on a specific goal.  But that is the only one I have purchased up to this point.  I have a couple of others that were gifts to players at various points during the life of the game, most recently the T1E6.  But that accounts for all of the premium tanks in my garage.

So what changed my mind?

First, I had been unaware that you could move crews from your other tanks into a premium tank of the same nationality and type, so you can double up on you first daily win experience bonus for your crew.  And since I have been working on Russian heavy tanks, the Churchill III fit right in.

You see, the Churchill III is a Lend-Lease version of the Churchill, so it is in the Soviet tree and not the British.

Second, the Churchill III has an experience modifier that earns it more experience per match than its Soviet heavy counterparts.

And, third, when it comes to the match making algorithm, it is only ever put up against tanks that are tier VI or lower.  So while that QF 6 Pounder seems like a pop-gun amongst the heavy tanks, it has just enough penetration to do damage consistently.  And it fires much faster than the larger caliber guns on the field.

Finally, it was only 1,500 gold, so what the hell.  I bought it.

Churchill III

Churchill III

I bought it without a crew, put the camo net on it, bought the camo paint (it only adds 5% more to cover, but who knows when that 5% might make the different), clicked the “accelerated crew training” box, and moved the crew from my KV-1 over to it.

And I have not done too badly with it.  It does get chewed up by arty rather quickly and it shares the affinity for track damage that the KV series seems to.  And it is slow.

But the 6 Pounder does penetrate as advertised.  I have plinked away at more heavily gunned foes quite successfully, getting off 3-5 shots and ducking behind cover when it is time for them to fire.  And I do not seem to attract as much hate as the KV-2 on the battlefield.  I seem to be viewed as more of an easy victim with a small gun and will get singletons coming after me, only to pepper them to death with rapid fire.

The experience bonus seems to be in effect as well.  My average experience per match with the Churchill III is over 700.  Given my 50/50 win-loss rate and generally crap skills, that is pretty good.  And my KV-1 crew seems to be coming along nicely.  They were around 50% trained on their first secondary skills when I picked up the Churchill.  They are now closing in on 90%. (That climb from 90% to 100% seems pretty steep though.)

It will be nice to get a crew finished with a set of secondary skills finally.  I have half a dozen crews sitting between 50% and 80%.

I did turn off the accelerated crew training for a bit on Sunday to build up and convert some experience for the KV-2 gun upgrade.  But other than that, I have been working on crew training.

So that is where I stand at the moment, still investing in the Soviet heavy tank tree.