Surviving the French Connection

Potshot and I have been making plans to try and coordinate activity in World of Tanks so as to… you know… actually play together.

One of the problems I have with the game is that the lobby interface is so focused on your tanks that I forget to check my friends list to see if anybody is on.

BT-2 in the garage

It is all about the armor

And, for most of the time I am on, I am in a match in any case, where you cannot… to my knowledge… actually check your friends list in any case.

So, for the most part, I play in matches solo, going where ever the match making algorithm sends me.

Potshot and I have played a couple of rounds together, but they have been very uncoordinated affairs in dissimilar tanks attempting to use platoon chat.  I don’t see how people have time to kvetch in chat channels during a match.  I am always too busy.  Unless I am dead.

So we are trying to get on at the same time and get voice coms working to coordinate.    I would like to try the in-game voice option, just to see how it works, but we always have Skype as a backup.

But part of this is also getting on the same page tank-wise.  I have already surged ahead on the German TD and Soviet heavy branches, but there is no plan so complicated that you cannot add another dimension to it.  Potshot had begun exploring the French TD line and was interested in continuing there.  The guns are certainly seem good, even if the vehicles themselves seem a bit flimsy and were designed with a certain Gallic whimsey.

S-35CA Tank Destroyer

Giant gravy boat? Mobile Jacuzzi?

I, in turn, had played a bit of the French light tank branch back when it came out and would like to get to the ELC AMX, a thin skinned but highly concealable race car of a tank that carries a 90mm surprise gun.

So I agreed, we would focus our efforts on the French tank tree.  I would scout, he would lay back under cover and snipe, and perhaps fun would be had.  We would call ourselves The French Resistance or something.

Then it came time to take stock of where I stood on the French light tank branch.  I had gone elite with the initial tank, the Renault FT, and then sold it for the garage slot.  I appeared to have done the same with the Hotchkiss H35, as it was no longer on my list.  The AMX 38 was still there in my garage though.  That was as far as I could bring myself to progress previously.

The AMX 38 is slow, not very well armored, and not especially well armed, which makes if a rather odd duck in its tier.  Its performance was probably the reason I gave up on the branch.  But I appear to have persisted with it long enough to research all its upgrades and the next tank up the branch, making it elite.

Which meant I was able to jump straight to the AMX 40.  Maybe this would be different.

It certainly looks different.

Enter the AMX 40

Enter the AMX 40

The armor is nicely sloped and seems to be pretty thick for a tier IV light tank.  The initial gun isn’t bad.  It still isn’t very fast, but it is faster that the AMX 38.  So I took it out for a match.

And lost, destroyed early on.

And lost again, destroyed.  And again.  And again.

This is a vehicle that clearly requires a special style of play.  And it gets put in something of a rough neighborhood.  It gets thrown into matches with tier VI tanks, and legitimately so.  But that means hiding from KV-1, KV-2, and KV-1S heavies.  The AMX 40 is pretty much a one-shot target for any of those.  I can attest to that personally.

Meanwhile, the initial gun feels out of its depth in that environment.  I had matches where I scored 8 or 10, or 12 solid hits and felt lucky when one actually penetrated and did some damage.  I did have some luck against British tanks.  As I said before, British tin makes for amusing targets.

So this will be a tough one to learn.  And it got worse when I finally was able to upgrade turret and gun.

Fully operational AMX 40

Fully operational AMX 40

I thought being better armed would help, but the weight of the upgraded gun and turret slows the AMX 40 down quite a bit.  So I was left trying to find its role on the battlefield.  I moved over a camo net and a binocular periscope set to try and help it be a stationary scout.  I basically hid in the bushes and hoped I would spot targets for arty and other tanks.  That worked okay, at least until I decided to take a shot for myself.

The upgraded 75mm gun isn’t a killer.  I got a couple of flank shots on a KV-1S in one match and couldn’t even break a track.  My one bit of luck is that his first shot at me left me with 9 hit points and didn’t kill any of my crew.  His next shot was interrupted by the arrival of more dangerous reinforcements, so I was mercifully ignored.

That actually lead to my greatest achievement of the night in the AMX 40.  I survived the battle!

I actually managed to limp to the cap and sit on it for a few points as well.  It was the only time I survived a battle that night, and it was my only win so far in the AMX 40.

But other than that, all it did was further tarnish my otherwise mediocre game stats.  It is definitely le canard étrange.   But I have to stick with it and figure it out if I want to get to that ELC AMX.

In the mean time, Potshot and I are looking for anything else that will help us coordinate.  I poked my nose into the whole clan thing, but details seem pretty sparse outside of the Clan Wars aspect of it.  As far as I can tell, besides Clan Wars access, creating a clan gets you a tag and another chat channel to ignore.  That does not seem like enough benefit for the 2,500 gold cost to create one.

Our plan so far then is to get online, get on voice, and go French.

What could go wrong?

16 responses to “Surviving the French Connection

  1. Your gun complaints sound like the problem with any light tank. My fully upgraded M5 Stuart bounces shots off heavies and a lot of the bigger mediums constantly. It’s even a bit tricky to get a shot into the front armor of most comporable destroyers. Sounds like the AMX-40’s problem is that it doesn’t have the speed to compensate like the American and German lights do.

    When I was playing the AMC-38 (I’m also looking at the ELC-AMX, haven’t been able to afford the 40 yet though) I ended up mostly playing as a medium or using it to distract the other team while my team flanked them. It didn’t dish it out well, but it can take a fair amount of punishment from lights and mediums.

    If you aren’t playing the same type of tank, what’s the objective of staying in the same nation? Platooning isn’t really a problem so long as you’re in similar tiers.

  2. @W It is the balance thing. If I can’t take a punch and can’t get out of the way of one, I’d like to be able to at least hit back. The AMX 40’s “broad side of a barn” performance against that KV-1S was disappointing. So I am clearly still discovering its role in the world. I am more bitching about not knowing than the tank itself.

    As for why both go French? Just to give things a sense of purpose and adventure and constraint. I can pull out my US light tanks or my German light tanks or any number of other options. I just thought it would be fun to go all French.

  3. Above tier 3 don’t even bother with upgrading guns on a light. They are pure scouts. All your points should come from spotting. Get into a battle with some good arty and the xp and silver roll in. Love my America lights but I can not recall last time fired their guns.

  4. Whoever is slated for the higher range of battle tiers will pull everyone else in their platoon up with them. This creates a points imbalance that may mean your team ends up with one more high tier vehicle than the other team, but in general, its still seen as a disadvantage because the lower tiered vehicle may be incapable of contributing to the battle at all if its gun is not up to snuff.

  5. Just looking over the stats and doing some brainstorming, I would use your Type-59 to build credits and stick about 20 HEAT rounds on it (cost: 56k credits). The increased penetration should handle the higher tier tanks just fine. And doing more damage each match will improve the XP gain and get you out of the tank faster.

  6. When bush scouting…do…NOT..shoot. Also, you may be better off leaving the lower tier gun off so that you get a bit better speed to get to good spotting points. It is sooo damned slow though. Good luck.

  7. @Latrodanes – That is one of those hard bits for me. I know, intellectually, that I should not shoot. But emotionally, the call to “make things go boom!” can be overpowering. The broad side of that KV-1S was like a giant “kick me” sign. Ah well, you pay for those sorts of choices.

    I was already seriously considering dropping the upgraded gun and turret, the better to be able to find a cozy spot before somebody sees me. Plus the temptation to shoot will be considerably less with the 47mm gun. I actually got the urge to upgrade it when I got into a toe-to-toe slap fight with another AMX 40 that had upgraded. He won… but it took a while. And I damaged him enough that he got popped as soon as he moved on.

    Of course, HZ’s idea of having some of the now-incorrectly-referred-to-as “gold ammo” in the rack might keep me from shooting as well. I am a notorious cheap skate. But I have been carrying some gold ammo in the Churchill III because it isn’t that expensive and it has given me the edge on occasion. There was a toe-to-toe Churchill slap fight I was in that where I think that gave me an edge despite being pinned to a wall broadside by my opponent.

  8. The french medium line is fantastic. The AMX’s are a joy to play capped off by the awesome BatChat. The Lorraine is a waste of time. Bypass it if you can.

  9. The French t4 heavy (b1? D1?) Is a hoot to drive if you think of it as a medium and upgrade the engine. I got into it to try a heavy, but it’s not. I still like sniping in it. As long as there are no real heavies around

  10. I would second the motion that platooning with the ELC AMX may not be suitable for you, based on your posts in the past. First of all is the scout MM which is a problem serious enough that it would kill any enjoyment Potshot has for playing his low tier french TD.

    Secondly, lights are pretty hard to play unless you really have a good grasp of the more arcane intricacies of spotting and camo, and possibly better reflexes to actually zoom around without getting killed 10 seconds into the match.

    Thirdly, the ELC AMX itself is actually a pretty poor scout because it’s radio range is only slightly more than 300 m. That’s ok on small maps but on quite a few maps your team will just be wondering where you scampered off to. Add to that the ELC AMX has no turret, it has TD-like gun traverse so it can’t circle strafe like most lights. It’s actually a pretty unique beast that takes a certain playstyle to excel in.

    And lastly… my opinion is that French tanks in general are pretty hard to play well. The TDs seem nice and bouncy and fast, which are good. But the heavies and mediums all have next to no armor, and the autoloader mechanics mean that they are very unforgiving. It’s very easy to overextend because of the speed and the lure of shooting off your clip, and then you go boom when 3 tanks shoot you.

    And I hated the AMX-40 immensely, it made the M3 Lee look like a powerhouse. You’re right that it’s hard to see what purpose the tank serves. Too slow to scout, too weak to fight, and placed in the hell that is tier 4. Shudder.

  11. Bah I typed a long comment but it seems to have been eaten by internet gremlins…

    Short form: I hate to sound like a wet blanket but I’d caution you against proceeding with your plans. First problem is scout MM, which will make Potshot feel like he’s tossing pebbles against a brick wall. Second problem is ELC AMX is actually a pretty poor scout because it’s radio range is only around 300 m, so on most maps you’ll be too far from your team. ELC AMX also has no turret so it can’t circle strafe like most lights, it’s like a little TD.

    Lights also are pretty hard to play well and require quite a lot of knowledge of spotting and camo mechanics, as well as better reflexes than I have by far. Otherwise you’ll often die 30 seconds into the match and Potshot will be stuck by his lonesome.

    Lastly, while the French TDs seem pretty good (bouncy and fast) the rest of the French heavy and medium line is very unforgiving. They all have paper armor and it’s very easy to overextend due to their speed and the lure of firing off the whole autoloader clip. In a sense they are more advanced tanks that only work well if you are able to flank very well or have very good situational awareness.

    I also found the AMX-40 totally horrific. I couldn’t find any purpose to the thing… too slow to scout, too weak to fight, and placed in the hell that is tier 4…

  12. @Anon – Two things.

    The first time you comment with a given IP address, your comment gets held in moderation until I approve it. It cuts down on spam comments. So… you have two versions of you comment now! I wasn’t sure which to delete.

    Second, you’re too late, the experiment had already gone forward by the time you commented.

    More later on how it went.

  13. Evening, Wilhelm.

    Just to get my 12 cents in (since I’ve noticed my comments tend to novella-length), I’d skip the clan thing unless you go in with friends or are committed enough to play pretty much daily (which will lead you to being committed, but that’s another topic).

    I’d look at Skype if it’s between two people, or Ventrilo/TeamSpeak/Mumble if you have 3 or more. Finding an open server’s a little touchy at times, but if you ask around, someone might throw you a link. Heck, if you want, I’ll poke one of my past clan commanders for an open TS server link. There’s at least four I can think of.

    As for the AMX 40, you have my condolences. I skipped it, having had much experience with the Pz38H356247alphabetsoup360. The thought of being in a T4-T6 match with a slightly better armoured version of it made me pause, then grind for a day to skip it with free XP. Granted, in the past, when I did encounter it with my Tetrarch, my normal attitude was “Great, the ONE T4 tank I can’t penetrate ANYWHERE!” Trying to kill it with T4 or below tanks is ludicrously difficult. T5+, a snap.

    HarbingerZero (can I call you Harby? You can call me Al…) has the gist of it well and true. Spot. Find a bush, be the bush (since there’s no way an AMX 40 is quick enough to be a leaf on the wind). Resist the urge to shoot. At later tiers, it makes you the type of scout that pubbies all want: fast, thoughtful, sneaky and patient. If you are going to load shells, load HE and commit to breaking observation ports and the odd track.

    Look on the bright side…you could be in the BDR G1B, meaning you would have gone from “le canard etrange” to “la baguette du merde”.

    Hated that tank. Hate hate hate. Steel wall notwithstanding.

    Hate.

  14. Drebin – Heh, the BDR G1B is another one of those tanks that looks like a kid drew it.

    And if the AMX 40, or the ELC AMX become a pain, I can always drop back to my Luchs or Leopard on the German tree or my M2 or M3 Stuart on the US tree and start working from there. Heck, it might be an excuse to start driving for the Soviet T-50. We shall see.

    As for voice, Skype is kind of our default. It is what the instance group has been using for more than six years now. But I like to try the built-in voice options to see how they work and if they offer any benefit.

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