Competing Against the Gold Standard in Heavy Tanks

In its element, the Char B1 is not a bad tank.

Desert B1

Desert B1

The B1 is a tier IV heavy tank, a tier that is otherwise bereft of tanks in that class.  The only exception is the captured German version of the tank, which got yanked back when the French line was introduced.

In a match where tier IV is the top, the B1 can truly fill the heavy tank role.  It has enough armor and hit points to press forward in the vanguard.  While not speedy it can move.   Its best gun can damage anything it can hit, is reasonably accurate, and fires quickly.  And the turret rotation speed and gun depression make it a very versatile gun platform.  You can track anybody and peek over terrain to take shots at people quite well.

Potshot and I rolled out in our twin B1s quite a few times over the weekend and did very well.

As long as we were in a tier IV.

Tier V matches, on the other hand, were not so pleasant.  Once you get to tier V then suddenly a lot of people have a heavy tank to toss into the match.  You have the T1, the T14, the Churchill I, the Churchill III, and the KV-1.

Well, actually, none of those are insurmountable.  None but the KV-1 that is.

I keep 20 rounds of premium APCR ammo in the B1 for those matches.  At 800 credits a shot, expensive for tier IV, I use them sparingly.  But I am happy enough to pump them into an unwitting Churchill or T14.  It can be the difference between victory and destruction.  That does, on occasion, put me at a credit deficit at the end of the match, but generally I want experience, which you get for damage done, more than credits.

The only heavy I do not bother throwing expensive ammo at any more is the KV-1.  Unless I get very lucky, every shot is a bounce.  If I am going to just harass a KV-1, I might as well do it with cheap ammo.  And some times I can get a track shot so the KV-1 will be still while I pound fruitlessly on his armor.

Potshot and I ran a series of matches with the B1 because we were looking to get into the next French heavy tank, the BDR G1B.

Getting to that, we felt, would help us contend with those tier V heavies.

And after an evening of matches, we had the experience and the credits to make the leap to the next tier.  We trained up, bought the tanks, outfitted them, and rolled out for our first battle.

Matching Outfits

Matching Outfits

And, of course, we were slaughtered.

My BDR, minutes later

My BDR, minutes later

The BDR G1B does not have a reputation as a great tier V heavy tank.

A Flying Shit House

(image source)

Certainly in stock BDRs out in a field of tier V and tier VI tanks, this piece of French craftsmanship seems to be more of a moving target than a threat.  Even has its doubts about the tank.  It lists out its drawbacks:

  • Poor armor
  • Slow rate of fire
  • Sluggish speed
  • Depressing gun depression

And the damn thing is so under powered stock that a camo net is too heavy to equip.  Sorry, if I put this pile of cloth on your tank, it will cease to move!

When driving this tank, your team mates either pity you or completely fail to understand your actions.  I had one light tank driver raging at me for being a heavy tank and not charging ahead.  The nicest thing he called me was a “camper.”  (And why is that an insult?  There are any number of vehicles in the game that are best used from cover, though you wouldn’t know it from the way some people blather on.)

Of course, just a bit later a KV-1S that I had been playing hide and seek with got a clear aim at me and blew me up in one shot.  I had previously avoided being damaged, which illustrates why I wasn’t out in front leading the charge.  The BDR is more of an upgunned medium tank without the mobility.

I am told that the BDR gets better once you get the 90mm gun.  I have a ways to go on that.  But even when I get there, the BDR will still not be a tank for the front of the charge.  It will have to hold back and take shots of opportunity.

The BDR has its place and its play style.

Its main problem is what Potshot called “The KV-1 index” of capabilities.

The KV-1 was my first heavy tank.  It may be one of my favorite tanks in the game.  I still play mine regularly.  It behaves exactly as you would expect a heavy tank should.  It is slow, heavily armored, and can carry a big enough gun to damage everything it faces.  And because of this, it is very popular.  You run into a lot of them in matches.

A lot of KV-1 heavies

A lot of KV-1 heavies

I see more KV-1 heavy matches than I ever saw Type 59s at the height of their dominance.  That makes it the yardstick by which every other tier V heavy tank is measured.

And if you count derivatives of the KV-1, the KV-2, the KV-1S, and the T-150, it starts to look like a Russian dominated world out there in tier V and VI heavy tanks.

Which is kind of the way of things.  The Soviet Union clearly went to heavy tanks earlier and better than any other tank producing nation.  The French were there first with the B1, but the KV-1 owns that.  Later the Germans showed up with the Tiger and the British with the Churchill line.  But the early KV-1 had everything you expected in about the right measure.  I would cackle with glee when my KV-1 came across some non-Soviet heavy tank.  They were generally meat.

Which is why I cringe when the BDR gets dropped into a match with a pile of KV-1 heavies.  I am now the meat.

But still I persist.

Our clan is Les Chars de Combustion (which corrected for us, free of charge!).  Our goal is to explore the French tank tree.  The burning tank is our logo and our motto is “La Lutte Continue!”  The struggle continues indeed!

Soon though, I will have the 90mm gun in the BDR.  Then I hope to be able to fend off the rampaging hoard of KV-1 heavies.  And then it will be on to the ARL-44, and everything will be great!


10 thoughts on “Competing Against the Gold Standard in Heavy Tanks

  1. stnylan

    I recall reading on the EU forums some time back that the BDR G1B was the best non-premium credit earner … so do not count it out. Less armour but a hell of a punch fully upgraded.


  2. HarbingerZero

    Yeah that 90mm is a real headache to deal with. I give G1’s a wide birth in low tier matches. The only real weakness in the KV-1 is its incredibly slow traverse speeds.


  3. Vatec

    The Beat-Down Receiver never becomes a truly great tank, but it does become a bit more fun once it has the final gun. Another one of those tanks that’s great, as long as no one is shooting at it.

    The B1 and AMX40 are very similar: both are good (or even great) tanks as long as they’re at the top of the roster (and the opposing team doesn’t have any overpowered guns, like the M3 Lee). But both become very weak the instant a tier V enters the field; and both become almost completely useless if they’re at the bottom of a match with tier VI’s.

    The ARL, OTOH, became one of my favorite tanks once it got its final gun. To put it in perspective, the gun it gets has the highest penetration for its class and tier when it’s mounted on the tier =VII= AMX M4 (1945). That should give you an idea how good it is on a tier VI tank. The tank is quirky: you really have to learn how to protect your sides (and turret). But wow can the gun make up for it….


  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Beat-Down Receiver, I like it. Yeah, working on that 90mm gun.

    As an aside, “flying shit house,” the term I used in that caption, was what my grandfather used to call RV’s and campers.


  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Ground to the 90mm gun. It makes a serious difference. I killed a KV-1 with a shot to the front of the turret with it. Ahhhh…

    I am still slow and egg-like in many ways, but at least I can kill something now.


  6. Drebin

    I have to agree with Vatec on the BDR (la baguette du merde, as I somewhat affectionately refer to it as). The tank’s pretty much only a sniper/support tank, assuming you have that 90mm and the better turret.

    The ARL, not so much. It’s an okay tank, even with the best gun, still fit only for sniping for the most part. You don;t have the speed or the armour to push effectively, and your manoeuvrability is lacking enough that a skirmish usually ends badly.

    Then again, if you DO learn how to effectively push with an ARL, or learn how to skirmish, you will become a very scary 50 100 driver.

    @Wilhelm: You sure that motto shouldn’t be “Le Feu Continue?” XD


  7. Sarzan

    Bless your soul for going down the French heavy line. If you can take the punishment, the autoloaders are fun to play, but make no mistake, they are up sized mediums.


  8. Sarzan

    Lordy you are a glutton for punishment! If you can make it to the autoloaders, the fun begins. Just be prepared to play like an upsized medium in a sniper/fire support/hit and run role when you get there. I hope you have the patience to get there. I quit in tier IV and pushed the medium line before tier X was added to the game.

    Good luck on your quest for 50B goodness!


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  10. *vlad*

    During the Nazi-Soviet pact in 1940-41, the Russians refused to believe that the Panzer Mark 3s and 4s that the Germans were showing them were their best tanks. That was because the Russians were already producing much better designs in the T34 and KV series.
    Where the Russians fell down on the battlefield was in their lack of command and control, not in the quality of their tanks. It was to counter these tanks that the Germans produced the Tiger and later the Panther.


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