Thinking On Tank Crew Skills

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.

A Graph! How much exp per skill!

A Graph! How much exp per skill!

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.)

KV-3 Crew

KV-3 Crew

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:

T-150 crew with Band of Brothers

T-150 crew with Band of Brothers

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.

Type 59 crew

Type 59 crew

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?

Drowning in the Fjords

In an amusing turn of events, I ended up losing a Type 59 in a match yesterday due to drowning.

Not that people dying in the water is a big deal.  Since then 8.0 patch that introduced new physics and opened up the map to such things, there is inevitably somebody every few matches who falls in the water and dies.

But I was pushed.

Actually, two of us were pushed.

It was on the Fjords map, down at the end where the heavies tend to clash at the end of that hill.  First a Tiger tried to get by and flank us, ending up in the water.  Then a Löwe from our side rushed over and pushed him into the drink until he drowned.  Then, as things progressed, a US T-29 from the opposition rolled right at me and pushed my Type 59 into the water not once, but twice.  He did me in on the second dunking.

I missed my opportunity to hit his track and stop him and after that he was too close and too damn heavy to stop.  He was on top of me and that was that.

I watched it on replay and it was pretty funny, once I figured out that clicking the left mouse button would give me free camera movement.

And, in the end, our side won the match.  So my sacrifice was not in vain.

World of Tanks Sees 230,000 Years of Play Time in 2012

And the year isn’t even done yet.

Wargaming.net sent out a press release about 2012 that included an info graphic with some statistics about World of Tanks.  And, since I like that sort of thing, I thought I would pass it along.

You really need to click on this to see it full size

You really need to click on this to see it full size

Those are some nice round numbers, which means they are probably reasonable estimates, at least if you subscribe to the theory that the more precise a huge number is, the more likely it is to be bullshit.  That particular theory arose from a study of United Nations statistics, where there appeared to a correlation between precision and simply making things up.

Interesting to see that the Soviet KV series of tanks is so popular in its various forms.  And then there is the Type 59 in China, which is still for sale on their server still and is, of course, a Chinese tank.  It is no longer an option in NA/EU.

Type 59 still available behind the Great Wall

Type 59 still available behind the Great Wall

As for next year, Wargaming.net has this to say:

Our key objectives for the year 2013 are many – deliver two new online free-to-play worlds, continued the expansion of World of Tanks with creative and passionate new content, and further reinforce our ties with our community,” said Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi. “We will also continue to explore new possibilities offered by the free-to-play MMO space to provide players with unique gaming experiences and unite as many people as possible in our free-to-play universe.

So World of Warplanes and World of Warships in 2013?

I suppose we shall see.

Type 59 Being Pulled from the World of Tanks Store

Wargaming.net has announced that they are removing the very popular but controversial Chinese Type 59 tank from the World of Tanks store.

Type 59 on vacation at the Great Wall

The official word from Wargaming.net is:

We will soon be updating the World of Tanks in-game store. As of January 16, 2012, the Type 59 premium tank will be removed from the in-game store after the server restart, which will take place at 6:00-6:30AM EST (11:00-11:30 UTC). While the tank will not be available for purchase, all existing Type 59 owners will keep their tank intact.

This decision has been made to ensure a healthy gameplay balance at higher tiers, and also to encourage a wider variety of tier 8 medium tank usage. If the Type 59 becomes available for purchase again during special events in the future, we will be sure to provide ample notice.

Again, the Type 59 will be removed from the in-game store on January 16, 2012 after the server downtime scheduled for 6:00-6:30AM EST (11:00-11:30 UTC). If you are considering purchasing the tank, we encourage you to do so before this point, as it will not be available for purchase as of January 16, 2012.

So the official line is game balance at higher tiers.  And certainly one of the complaints about the tank is that a lot of them show up in those battles, relative to other models.

However, a suspicious mind might see something different at work here.  After all, the Type 59 has been in the game for a while now, and it was controversial from day one.  Why change now?  Maybe sales of the tank have finally slowed?  If everybody who really wanted one already has one, what better way to prod those on the fence about the tank than announce that it is going away?

I have one in my garage.

Ready for Battle

And it quickly became my favorite tank.

As an extremely casual player… I play 3 or 4 rounds every couple of nights… it has allowed me to play in the higher tiers, where the skilled players seem to be and where the battles are thus more exciting.  And the fact that it is a money making machine has allowed me to pursue SP gun ambitions. (There are no gold SP guns.)

I expect that there will be a flurry of Type 59 purchases this weekend, and that we will see it dangled as a special limited time store item in the future.