Thinking On Tank Crew Skills April 2, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Tanks.
Tags: Jagpanther, KV-3, Skills, T-150, Type 59
My time with World of Tanks can be divided into two eras.
There was beta, launch, and immediately after, during which I played a lot but then tapered off, with my last surge coming when I bought the Type 59. And then there is Patch 8.0 and beyond. Patch 8.0 was the great physics update which revitalized the game for me, fixing some of my key annoyances, and got me to come back and play.
Of course, a lot had changed between these two eras besides the physics. Tank trees, tanks, countries, and skills had all be shaken up in that time. I have taken on things by turns, and now I am looking at skills.
For those who do not play the game, you tank has a crew that actually translates your inputs into actions. So you may aim and click the button to shoot the cannon on your tank, but the skills of your gunner play heavily into the accuracy of that shot. And you increase the skills of your crew by playing. They gain experience over time.
In the first era there was but one skill. Each crew member had a function, like gunner, loader, or driver, and a skill level associated with that. At 100% you were done training and that was that.
At some point when I had faded from the game, Wargaming.net added in secondary skills. So now, after your crew hits 100% in their primary skill, they can learn additional skills to help them at their job.
I handled this the way I often handle these sorts of skill changes. I picked some likely looking candidates and moved on to play. After a while and a bit of reflection, I came up with a pattern, a standard set of skills I assign my crews.
First off, the secondary skills are actually divided into skills and perks. Skills come into effect immediately and get more effective as you learn the skill. Perks, which tend to be better, do nothing while you learn them, only providing benefit when you get them to 100%. That can take a while, as the game wiki points out.
I never know how long I am going to play a given tank. So my first decision was skills only, avoid perks. And for quite a while I was in no danger of getting to 100% on skills or perks, so it seemed like a wise course. I settled down to the following as a general template:
- Commander – Mentor (+10% primary skills for crew)
- Gunner – Snap Shot if vehicle has a turret, Armorer if not
- Driver – Controlled Impact (because I love when people die ramming me)
- Radio Operator – Situational Awareness
- Loaders – Repair, Fire Fighting, or Camouflage
So my KV-3 crew follows that pattern. (Which you can verify if you know what the tiny icons mean.)
After a while, I started getting to crews that had a skill trained up to 100% and needed to start on a second skill. But I had chosen all of what I perceived as the “good” skills the first time around. And since the climb to 100% for the second skill is, as the chart above indicates, about double the effort, I didn’t want some useless perks idling there for all that time.
So I looked into retraining.
You can reset you skills and perks for a price. For 200 gold, which seems like a lot (and which is probably the point), you can simply swap them out with no penalty. For credits you can swap them, but lose 10% of your skill points. I have chosen both options at this point, but the skill point loss isn’t so bad if you wait for a bit getting into your second skill. I am happy so long as I don’t have to do that last 5% over again to get the first one to 100%.
With a reset, I could inject perks into the first position and then put the same skills I had been training before into the second slot. Being mildly obsessed with crew skills, I went with Band of Brothers for the first slot across the whole crew. This perk boost crew skills beyond 100%, but only if everybody in the crew has it.
So I have a couple of crews that look like my T-150 crew now:
So you can see that with Brothers in Arms across the whole crew, plus the commander training Mentor again, plus ventilation added to the tank, my gunner is running at 121% skill level. And he has Snap Shot well under way, though it you look at that curve above, 74% is about the half way point to being done. A long ways to go yet.
I was generally satisfied by this, with the view that better crew skills was the optimum choice.
However, when I finally got my Type 59 crew up to their first skill at 100%, I began to wonder if a 5% skill boost was worth tying up the whole first slot. So I decided to experiment with them. The Type 59 was the crew where I first picked skills and perks, and did so at random, not yet understanding the whole “skill vs. perk” thing. So they had some perks mixed in that I never bothered to retrain. So I decided to stick with them.
For the commander, I chose Sixth Sense, which I am beginning to really depend upon. I play the Type 59 either on the flanks, looking for a good shoot, or as a passive scout, parked in the middle of what would otherwise be a giant gap in our lines as the rest of the team tries press up either flank. 3 seconds after I have been spotted, a little light bulb shows up on screen, and I know it is time to trot. Now, in that 3 second gap, the bad guys can, and often do, take a shot at me. But not always, and it at least keeps arty from raining down on me.
The for a second skill, I chose Mentor, which is my standard.
My gunner has Deadeye, which is supposed to increase critical damage. The boost is only 3%, so I am wondering if I ought to retrain and take Designated Target instead, which keeps targets in your scope visible for an extra two seconds than they otherwise would. That can be the difference between getting off a good shot or not.
My driver camo, which certainly doesn’t hurt when playing passive scout, and Controlled Impact because, as I said, I like to punish those who ram.
My loader/radio operator has Situational Awareness and Repair because… why not?
And this seems to have worked out well enough and again undermines my initial faith in Brothers in Arms as a worthwhile use of a skill/perk slot. Is that 5% worth it or not? It apparently also boosts mentoring a bit, but as you can see above, by all of 1%.
I have two vehicles coming up where I am going to have to decide how to move forward. The KV-3, whose crew I showed above, and the Jagpanther, which I suspect I will be driving a lot in April, since it is the Tank of the Month and gets a 30% boost to credits.
For the Jagpanther, I am going to go with something akin to the Type 59 crew. Sixth Sense for the commander and Designated Target for the gunner being my gut priority.
And with the KV-3, which tends to be a giant shot magnet, I am tending towards Eagle Eye, Deadeye, Preventative Maintenance, Safe Stowage, and whatever repair and fire fighting skills I can squeeze in, just to enhance survivability. Six Sense seems like a waste as pretty much everybody seems to see me when I move around.
What do you think? How do you fill up the skill/perk slots on your crews? What seems to really help and what is a waste of a slot?
A KV-3 with a Big Gun March 18, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Tanks.
The goal for World of Tanks this year is to get into a tier IX vehicle. Not a particularly steep goal, given a whole year, unless you take into account my divided play style (German TDs along with Soviet and French heavies, plus dalliances with US light tanks, SPGs, and such) and the fact that I do not play all that much. I am good for a few games in the evening and maybe a longer stretch if we platoon up on Saturday night.
With that in mind, I decided that I was going to try to blow through the KV-3 as quickly as possible. I would buy the minimum upgrades and just drive for the KV-4. I figured I would be spending a long time with the KV-4 in any case, better to get started on it as early as possible.
Not that I was very speedy about it (see play style above), but after a month of the KV-3 I had purchased the minimum upgrades to make it useful and get to the jumping off point for the KV-4, I had enough experience.
And then I looked at the price in credits for the KV-4 and realized that, after buying and equipping the Jagpanther and the ARL-44, I was a bit short when it came to the price tag. About 1.2 million credits short. Not an insurmountable goal to reach, but one that will take me a while. So I splurged and upgraded the KV-3 so that the KV-4 is the only thing left on its tree. The main deal was getting the 122mm D-25T gun. That is the big gun on the KV-3, and is distinguished by its muzzle brake.
So with a new toy, of course I had to take it out for a spin. And luck was with me, as I drew one of my favorite maps, the El Halluf encounter battle.
I like this map because it makes sense to me.
It is yet another “take the hill” map. Unlike, say, Himmelsdorf, where the hill offers no advantage when it comes to the actual capture point (I’ve been on teams that have lost while still taking the hill many times), taking the hill in El Halluf will actually give you an advantage. The hill overlooks the contested cap, so at a minimum holding the hill lets you keep the other side off the cap.
So every El Halluf encounter battle starts off with a rush to the hill where the heavies go toe-to-toe while the mediums dart in and out, the TDs snipe at any exposed parts, and arty tries to rain death over the various obstacles. And I was the top heavy on our side, so it was up the hill for me.
The StuG III got potted by arty almost right away (a Hummel and an SU-8) but the three of us remaining managed to jink around enough while getting in hits and pulling the other side out just far enough to take their shots so that our TDs could get in a shot now and again as well.
And aside from the Cromwell just begging me to shoot him in the back of the turret by blocking my shots all the time, and a Three Stooges moment when we all tried to crest the hill and squeeze through the gap at the top together, it worked. The 122mm gun tore into the other side and did huge amounts of damage. I was able to absorb the return fire, keeping myself angled.
We cleared the hill top. The mediums chases the T-34-85 down the other side while I got into an arty shadow to help cover a couple of team mates who had crept onto the cap. I managed to get in a couple more hits, including a long range shot at a Jagpanther that was making a last moment run to try to defend the cap.
We won. I got the top score along with Sniper and Steel Wall badges, all of which made me quite happy. It also made me feel cocky and invulnerable and I ended up dying fast on the next two maps. Every fight is the same, every fight is different. But once I settled down, I started doing okay again.
I will be driving the KV-3 for a while now as I build up credits and experience to get into tier VIII. So it is a good thing that the big gun does its job.
The pictures in this gallery were taken via the replay option. I wasn’t taking pictures and zooming so far out mid-battle. I particularly like the last picture in the gallery, as it shows that the muzzle brake is taken into account for graphics when the gun is fired.
By the way, this is why I really like the replay option. I do not go back and look at most of my fights, but being able to review a really memorable fight like this is very nice. Plus, screen shots.
Winnowing Down My Soviet Heavies February 19, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Tanks.
Tags: KV-2, KV-3, T-150
One of the problems with World of Tanks is that, after a while, you can start to end up with a big pile of tanks in your garage.
And there are only so many tanks you can effectively play.
You get your daily bonus experience for your first win, you have crews you want to train up, you have tanks that are not yet fully equipped, and you want to get to that “next” tank at some point.
And so I found myself rather stretched when it came to Soviet heavy tanks once I acquired the KV-3.
I had a KV-1, a KV-2, a T-150, a KV-3, and a Churchill III all competing for my attention, in addition to the French experiment and my on again/off again affair with the German TDs. (Inching closer to that Jagpanther.) Plus, keeping a tank means tying up valuable resources. Extra equipment costs credits, and not all of it can be swapped without cost. And garage slots cost money as well. So I decided to trim one tank from the garage.
But which one?
I couldn’t drop that.
The Churchill III is a premium tank and has an experience bonus (1.3x) that makes it a good place to get a little extra training for my Soviet heavy tank crews. So it was staying.
The KV-1 is just a fun tank to play. In many ways it is the king of tier V. And being down in that bracket means I can platoon with the rest of our clan more easily and still play a heavy.
Which left the KV-2 and the T-150. One of them would have to go. And I was initially in favor of keeping the KV-2 for the same reasons I got it in the first place; it is just different from the other Soviet heavies I have.
Meanwhile, the T-150 seems to be a bridge of sameness between the KV-1 and the KV-3. A stock T-150 looks exactly like a KV-1, while a stock KV-3 looks just like an upgraded T-150. Why keep the one in the middle?
The only thing that kept me from dropping it right away was that I had trained up its crew so that they had their first skill (band of brothers) and were well into their second skill. I was going to just re-certify them on the KV-3, but the new tank has an additional crew slot, and unless the whole crew has band of brothers, it does nothing.
But I stripped the T-150 of its equipment and left it sitting in the garage unplayed for a week or so. But I also skipped playing the KV-2 for that week as well, so I began to consider selling them both.
And then I read an article about how to play the T-150.
I was particularly struck by the teaser line for the article.
You know how every tank description says not to lead, but instead back up another tank? This is the tank they back up.
That seemed to be the heavy tank role I was looking to play. So I decided to dive in and try it.
Unfortunately, purchasing the KV-3 and strained my credit balance a bit. To really do this I needed to get some credits to equip the T-150. And so I sold off the KV-2 and all of its equipment, moving the crew into the barracks. That game me enough credits to add on the large caliber gun rammer and class 3 ventilation, improving my reload time and crew performance. I did not have quite enough left for the large spall liner, but it is on the shopping list.
Then I went out and tried to apply what I had read. And it mostly worked.
In random public matches it can be a challenge to get anybody to coordinate with you. Still, when I end up at the top of the heap, saying “I am going up route X, follow me if you want to hide behind my bulk!” in chat before a match gets some cooperation going. And what works for the T-150 seems to apply to the KV-3 as well.
The biggest change for me is getting used to seeing my tracks as a renewable shield rather than a vulnerable spot to be protected. It still sucks when arty rains down on you though. Gotta get that spall liner… and a fire extinguisher.
And when I am low on the list, I just find a higher tier heavy to hide behind and try and get in my licks that way.
Meanwhile, I have put the KV-2 crew into the Churchill III for now, training them up slowly (and swapping out the extra loader now and again to keep them caught up) as the potential crew for the KV-4. Once I get there.
La Lutte Continue!
Heavy Tanks and Big Guns February 11, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Tanks.
Tags: BDR G1B, KV-2, KV-3, T-150
It was a good weekend for tanks.
The match maker smiled upon me and my win/loss ratio tilted in favor of wins.
This was enhanced by a couple of matches where the generic loud-mouth on chat who died first and spent the rest of the time telling us how we were going to lose because we didn’t follow/support/obey them, ended up having to watch us win by using the very tactics they said would guarantee a loss.
That never gets old.
On the progress front, Potshot and I were able to carry on with our French heavy tank spree.
Despite some comedy moments, the fully upgraded BDR G1B is turning out to be a formidable tank.
As Potshot noted, the 90mm gun makes a big difference. It does a lot of damage and will plow through most armor on which it can draw a bead. This has lead to some really good matches.
Part of it is people do not seem to expect much from the BDR. The “egg” is dismissed as an easy target. People get greedy trying to get a cheap kill.
I have had any number of opposing tanks sit in the open shooting at me, thinking they’ll do me in without injury once I come out of cover. I had one M4 driver rail at me for being a “wallet warrior” since I was clearly using premium ammo. I caught him broadside, where he was sitting and waiting for me, which knocked him down under 20% health and set him on fire. The fire, in turn, finished him off… something I always enjoy. However, no premium ammo was involved. That stuff is expensive and I am an avowed cheapskate.
And part of my cheapness this past weekend came from having dropped a lot of credits on a new vehicle. I am now officially in tier VII, having finally made it to the KV-3.
I literally missed the KV-3 being half price by one day. As I was getting close, I checked the price and it was ~700K credits. And then when I got that last bit of experience and trained for it, the price had jumped to ~1.4 million credits.
I had the credits… and I can always make more driving the Type 59… but the KV-3 is the most expensive tank I have purchased so far. And once I got it out in matches… well… it played a lot like my T-150.
Well, a lot like the fully upgraded version of the T-150 at least. (The base T-150 played like the KV-1.)
And well it might. Since I was low on credits, I moved all the accessory equipment… camo net, binocular telescope, large gun rammer… over from the T-150. I stole the 107mm gun from my KV-2. That is the same gun I have on the T-150. All of which left those other two vehicles less than useful and makes me wonder whether I should hang on to them or not.
The T-150 plays better in general, but the KV-2 can be, as I said, comedy gold with the 152mm gun. Though, to be honest, I haven’t played the KV-2 at all since I got the T-150, and with the T-150 I was primarily focused on getting to the KV-3. And now I am focused on upgrading the KV-3, so I suspect that one or both of those tanks should probably be sold off, if only to save me the gold price of another garage slot.
The argument for keeping at least one of those two is that with 5 person crews, I couldn’t just transfer either group en masse to the KV-3. The T-150 crew already has the first skill/perk, band of brothers, which needs everybody in the crew to have it for it to be in effect.
Meanwhile, the heavier armor of the KV-3 seems to suit my “village idiot” play style. I managed to get the upgraded suspension and the heavier turret, making me even more heavily armored.
So when I wander out into the open and get myself killed, I now seem to survive long enough to take a few opponents with me.
In the picture above, my wreck sits amongst my victims. I was sitting in the open, killing a TD when I noticed the Panther-M10 sitting behind me, shooting into my backside. I slowly brought the turret around and killed him in two shots. While that was going on, a Black Prince rammed me and then sat there shooting into my flank until I turned and killed him. I was immobile at that point, so turned and got off a hit on another foe before artillery finally did me in.
That’s a tough tank.
Now I have to work on getting to the bigger guns and the better engines. We shall see if the match maker remains kind to me and whether or not this tank really fits me. I am a bit apprehensive, if only because the next tank in the Soviet heavy KV tree is the KV-4, which has some mixed press. Heavy armor and an accurate top gun are good, but we’re definitely sailing deep into “slow and as big as a house” territory with this big boy.
Of course, the BDR G1B has mixed press as well, and I find it to be fun, so we shall see.