In Search of the Hetzer

I have two problems with World of Tanks.

The first is that, when it comes to the game, I am pretty much a dilettante.

Despite the fact that the icon on my desktop says “World of Tanks closed beta,” indicating that I have been playing the game for about as long as it has been actually playable, I really have not put that much time into it.

I can go for weeks and weeks and not play.  And when I do play, it is often for just two or three matches.  The game has been live for 18 months now, and I have just over 300 matches in.  That is about 16 a month.  That isn’t enough to hone killer reflexes.  That is barely enough to remember where the controls are and what they do.

Still, I persist now and again because I like the game.  It is fun for me in a way that most first person shooters… and it really is just a vehicular first person shooter… are not these days.

My second problem is that I don’t know which tank I want to drive.

Well, actually, the problem is I want to try them all.  And there are a lot of choices.

So I end up entertaining brief fits of enthusiasm.

I got enthusiastic about working up the line of Russian self-propelled guns.  Then I was big on German light tanks.  And then they introduced the French tank tree and I headed off to that.

And you get sucked right in because the first couple of upgrades come quickly.  And then, somewhere around tier III to V, the hill starts to get steeper.  It is no longer an hour to the next new toy, but a day, or a couple of days, or a few weeks.  And the mid-tier tanks can have the same effect on me that mid-tier levels do in most MMOs.  They can feel like the bridge between where I was having fun and where I might have fun again.   But on the bridge itself… not so much fun.

So I run out of steam.  I made it to the AMX 38 on the French tree, but even as the next tank became available, I lost my enthusiasm.  Likewise with the SU-5 and the Leopard.

Which leads me back to my favorite tank, which is the Chinese Type-59.  No longer available in game, I have more fun playing it that just about anything else. (Though I enjoy my Luchs too, and probably should have not bothered to advance to the Leopard.)

But even the Type-59, which I like because it gets me into upper tier battles, which I tend to find more interesting, can only keep me going for so long.  And so I lapse and stop playing for a while.  At least until something new shows up.

Recently, they released patch 8 for World of Tanks, which had a few things I wanted to see, the key being a change to physics an terrain.

In the original versions, there were basically invisible walls that would prevent you from driving off of anything that might damage your vehicle.  This included all the really high cliffs, but also included some comically short drops.  I had the nack for finding those short drops, which would leave my tank stopped and dangling in the air, a perfect target.

So I patched and jumped in to the game.

And once I figured out where everything was again… and got the graphics settings toned down a bit… things were good.  There were just enough tanks attempting to fly off of high places to be worthwhile, and I was no longer getting hung up on three foot drops.

Keen to try things out, I played all of my tanks.  But when I was down in the lower tiers, I started to see a pattern.  I seemed to be getting smacked time and time again by a single vehicle, the Hetzer tank destroyer.

That set me on my goal for the weekend.  I was going to get a Hetzer of my own.

Long and boring details culminating in an actual battle after the cut.

Hide tank destroyer to ambush here.

Fortunately, the Hetzer is only a tier IV vehicle, so it seemed within reach.  Also, since one of the changes was to vehicle camouflage, any gold spent on that in the past was refunded.  So I had enough of that currency sitting around to buy 24 hours or premium service (50% bonus to exp and coin) with enough left over to buy garage slots and a few additional upgrades.

The first vehicle in line was the Panzerjäger I, which I used to figure out the whole tank destroyer thing.  You are lightly armored, often slow, but carry a bigger gun than most of the tanks around you.  So you have to lay in ambush and hit people before they become aware of your presence.

It only took a few matches before I had earned enough for the upgrade to the Marder II.  I dumped the Panzerjäger I and bought the upgrade.  I figured I might be playing this one for a while, so I also dumped a big of my gold (the premium currency) and a chunk of my silver (the in-game repairs and supplies currency) on upgrades.  With gold I bought the visible camo upgrades… mostly because it looked cool and was cheap enough.

Desert Marder II

And then I spent a load of silver on the camouflage netting upgrade, which reduces detection when still by 25%.  Since sitting still and staying undetected in the name of the game, I thought it was a worthwhile investment.  Plus I had a lot of silver sitting around from my time with the Type-59.  It is a silver generating machine.

I did well enough with the Marder II, at least relative to my own poor standard of play.  It suited me because I play alone as opposed to in a platoon on voice coms.  And, intellectually at least, I understand the tactics of concealment and planned alternate firing positions, so I was able to work on putting that into practice.

One of the things I did as well was turn my mouse sensitivity way down.  That actually helped a lot with precision shooting.

I did that Saturday afternoon and evening, when I found the time.  That got me in position to get the Hetzer after a little more work on Sunday.  Since I figured I would be hunkering down with the Hetzer for a long time, I went for the same upgrades as I did with the Marder II along with spending the extra bit of gold for a fully trained crew.

Hetzer snow camo

After a couple of matches I really started to like the Hetzer.  First, it has a nice gun for its size.  But it also sort of straddles tiers in an odd way, so I usually end up either as the biggest tank in a match, up at the top of the list, or at the very bottom.  For whatever reason, I like being at one extreme or the other rather than mid pack.

But what really sealed the deal was that only a half a dozen matches in, I had my best match ever.

It was a standard battle on the Westfield map.  We were at the southern end and I decided to stay back and find a nice perch above our base and defend.  We had to SPG guns back with me, but everybody else went forward.

As the battle raged, I managed to knock out a pair of light tanks as they came around one flank in search of the SPGs.  They had both been damaged on the way, so they were both one-shot kills.

Meanwhile, the battle in the center of the map was going badly for us.  I moved to a concealed spot above our base and waited for the inevitable onslaught.

In a rush to get the SPGs, the enemy started showing up in ones or twos and were totally focused on them.  The three of us started picking off bad guys as they showed up.  But the SPGs were down next to the base and eventually were taken out while I was still facing five guys.  Two light tanks, a medium, and two SPGs.

I was able to pot the two light tanks before anybody spotted me, but the M3 medium knew where I was.  However, he chose to come straight at me firing as he went.  He hit once without damage and then missed while I put several rounds straight into him.  My second shot actually hit his track and brought him to a stop, so it was aim and shoot at that point.

M3 Destroyed

By that point people were starting to comment on the public channel.  Even the opposition was complimenting me.  But now I had to hunt down the two SPGs.

I hate SPGs and feel great joy in killing them, as they inevitably rain down destruction on me when I have been spotted.  Now I had to go find a pair of them.  Since I had not been shelled up to that point, I figured that they were back in their base defending the way our SPGs had been.  So I got on the road and headed that way.

As it turned out, they were heading towards our base and I met the first of them about mid map.  They were both up on the hill while I was down on the road.  However, they were spread out, so I found them one at a time.

I spotted the first one when he took a shot at me and missed.  I turned and race up the hill at him… well, clambered slowly up the hill… until I had a clear shot.  I hit him, he hit me.  But I was still alive and knew I would reload faster.  Pop, he was dead.  One left.

For some reason, I went back down to the road to continue forward and replayed almost the same encounter.

This time we saw each other at the same time.  I turned and headed up the hill while he turned to shoot.  Another minor hit on my but before I could get a clear shot he decided to head down the hill past me.  I rotated as he went past just ahead of my gun, but before he got down to the road, we were aligned and I took my shot.

I hit him hard and busted a track.  He was immobile on the road, fully in the open, and facing away from me, making him about the easiest target in the game.  My second shot put him out of his misery.  The match was over, we had won.

And it was literally my best match ever.  A pity my 24 hours of premium ended just before it started.

Medals and coin!

Details page here if you are interested.

I will probably never do that well in a match again.  I certainly did not do as well, or even close, for the rest of the day, bagging at most 2-4 kills and getting blown up without kills a couple of times. (Damn SPGs!)

But that match certainly sold me on the potential of tank destroyers.  I will stick with my Hetzer for now and try to climb the German tank destroyer tree.  I still have quite a ways to go for the next setp on the ladder, which is the Stug III.

11 thoughts on “In Search of the Hetzer

  1. HarbingerZero

    I will do that well again. I have two 8-kill games in the Hetzer. I love it, and after seeing how much you enjoy the Type-59 and Luchs I knew where this post was going!

    However…beware. The Hetzer is the pinnacle of the German TD line. The Stug is average, and everything after that is below average. TD’s, as you note, should be overgunned – but the JPIV and Jagdpanther are undergunned, very badly in the case of the JPIV. Its not until you hit tier 8 that things pick back up again. One of the other things the Type-59 will help you accumulate is Free XP. My advice would be to spend it on skipping as much of the JPIV and lower guns of the Jagdpanther as possible.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    And one other thing they finally added to the game with the 8.0 patch was the ability to change your handle. For Gold of course. But I… for reasons I cannot remember… had two accounts and activated my pre-order bonus on the wrong one, which had an old handle I no longer use.

    So I swapped that this weekend as well, so my miserable profile is now listed under Wilhelm_Arcturus.

    I just have to wait until they do a server restart before it take effect in game.


  3. kkodachi

    I prefered the StugIII over the Hetzer when I went up[ the line myself. The tier IV Jagdpanzer was a huge letdown though. The Tier VII Jagdpanther is amazing and still in my garage as my main money maker even though I have the Jagdpanther II which I’m about 15000 experience from getting the big gun.

    Love the Jgpanther I. Amazing TD.


  4. mrrx

    Nice. You have a Kolobanov’s medal after a mere 300 ish games ! It took me about 9,000 to get mine.

    Enjoy the Hetzer, Don’t be afraid to try the soviet tree up to the SU-85b which is a fantastic destroyer with a monster of a gun.


  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @mrrx – I hadn’t even thought about how many battles I had been in until I was at your site and saw the 9,000 number. I was kind of disappointed in myself at checking below 300. That is roughly 16 matches a day for you, compared to my 16 a month.

    I actually had a prolonged hide and seek duel with an SU-85b in one of my less successful later battles. I got distracted at one point because a pair of SPGs popped up and I took time out to kill them, only to find the SU-85b directly behind me. I lost the duel… but dead SPGs are good.

    I am also interested in the SU-85, since I seem to get killed by them more often than I like… when the SPGs aren’t raining death on me.


  6. kiantremayne

    Nice. My own “Hetzer story” featured 7 kills of which 6 were in a Reaper streak (successive one-shot kills), which was the happy product of an urban map, dumb enemies trundling down a side street, and the 105mm gun.

    My true love, however, is my Tiger tank which is a near perfect blend of speed, armour and firepower. I dread to think how long you’d take to get one at 16 games a month, though.


  7. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @kiantremayne – I actually had a 4 hit reaper streak last night, my first ever. Similar situation to yours, damaged enemies blundering into my ambush on a side street. I haven’t gotten the 105mm gun yet. It is next on the list.

    I also had my oddest kill ever last night. I was in a bad situation at the end of a match and bolted forward to ram a Marder II, killing it. Then an M2 medium raced up to ram me, and ended up dying on the impact as well, while I survived. I got the credit while there was general hilarity on the open channel.

    I got popped myself in a few seconds, ending the match, but I managed to draw just a bit more blood.

    Oh, and my in-game name finally rolled over to the updated name. So if you see Wilhelm_Arcturus in game, feel free to point and laugh.


  8. Vatec

    Hetzer is a fun little vehicle. StuG is kind of overpowered now due to the increase of the 7,5cm L70’s penetration. JPIV is definitely the low point on the tree, since it’s a tier higher than the StuG and stuck with essentially the same gun (rate of fire is higher); that’s never a recipe for a “great” vehicle….


  9. Drebin

    @HarbingerZero: My experience with the German TD line was similar, with the exception that I absolutely _loved_ the JgPanth mit 88/71. Even after they nerfed the accuracy, the ability with a 100% crew to chip-shot commander’s hatches or underbelly plating at absolutely ridiculous ranges always impressed me…and tended to get me accused of hacking, but that’s gaming life, I suppose. The Ferdy depressed me for a while, but like many WOT tanks, the best available gun made it useful in higher-tier matches IMO. JgTigger has been fun, but the grind to 6.1 mil credits for the JgE-100 has been depressingly slow.

    For the silly people out there, who have someone with a Maus or other high tier german heavy or medium tank available, I strongly suggest you take a BT-2 and head yourself over to a private training room on the Westfield map. In the northeast part, near the valley/cliff wall, you can snug the flat front glacis of the german quite close to a bump in the cliff lip. If you get the distance right, you can drive off the lip in your BT-2, skip off the glacis (and occasionally off the turret as well) and get some seriously silly hang-time before landing (and detonating your treads in the process). Extra points if you can get the angle down enough to get your tank to spin or roll in midair. You win the silly-person award if you survive landing. Or you can do what I did, which was crater my Tetrarch hard enough to destroy everything but the fuel tanks and the gunner…

    @Wilhelm_Arcturus: Not that it was asked for, or that I know you, but since you’re “trailing your coats” in comments, here’s mine: Drebin[-FW-]. I look forward to seeing on the field. :)


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