Earl has become the God of Thunder, the master of artillery in World of Tanks.
Earl jumped on World of Tanks like a man possessed and has already passed the 1,300 game mark in his first month of play. And part of the reason is that he has found a home with self-propelled guns (SPGs). He enjoys dropping shells on people and is getting quite good at it. You have to jink and turn to keep him from catching you on the move.
His focus on a SPGs of course leads to some issues on Saturday night when we’re all playing together. The problem is that SPGs get stuck in tiers… differently.
A tier IV SPG like his Grille can get placed into tier VIII battles because SPGs (and scouts) are… um… different. Early on it wasn’t so bad. We could find combos that worked. He would get out his Wespe while Potshot and I rolled as the BDR brigade, which are close in battle tiers. But when he got to the Grille, he started pulling us up into fights where we were in trouble.
And now that Earl has a Hummel and an M41, it can be tough for us to group up in a way that allows him to play with his new toys. I can get out the KV-3 if it is just Earl and I, which is fine, but as a group we don’t have a working set that lets us all gain experience on our top tier vehicle.
Again, group dynamics comes into play.
Fortunately, you don’t have to play at your peak level, and Earl is happy enough to grab some of his lower tier stuff.
Of course, we have other issues with groups now as well.
Last weekend the four male members of the Saturday night instance group were online and in tanks, which meant we could not group up in our traditional manner. A platoon, the basic group in WoT, is limited to three players.
The next tier up in group activities is tank companies, which would require more than the four of us. We would either need to find more players to come with us, or join an already formed tank company. The former seems unlikely right now, while the latter… has the usual problem with shooters. Do I really want join a tank company whose description is something like “No Effing Scrubs!” or “have 2500 battles or more!” or “Coms Required – Must do what your [sic] TOLD!!!” on the tank company list? Or am I just likely to get yelled at and kicked?
Plus, with Tankerbell just joining in on tanking, we would be limited to the “junior” category, which tends to be empty when I check on it. Still, I think with Potshot and I both having the only heavies allowed in the junior category, the French Char B1, we would do okay if we could form a company.
But tank companies seem to be out for now. Further research needed.
So we decided to do what what somebody suggested previously. We formed two platoons, Potshot and Earl in one and Tankerbell and myself in the other. We all grabbed LOLtraktors so we were in the same tier. Earl and I, as platoon leaders, made sure both platoons were ready, counted down, and attempted to press the “Battle” button at the same time to see if the match maker would group us together.
We ended up in different battles. And then one battle ran long while another was over quickly, so those in the short battle went again, and we ended up totally out of sync.
We stopped after a couple of battles and decided to do some 2 on 2 team training battles. Platoons were dropped and I created a private training room and divided us up into the same groups. We ran a few of those, though 2 on 2 battles are pretty quick unless both sides decide to camp. I picked some encounter battles so everybody would have a common target, and a couple of smaller maps, like Komarin, which confused Earl and Potshot, as it has been out of match maker rotation for a while now. That used to be a great map for swift and bloody battles back when the Type 59 was new and over-powered.
Eventually though, we wanted to be in bigger battles.
We reformed platoons, though this time Potshot and I were platoon leaders on the theory that being closer in the real world (Earl is in NY, Potshot and I are in Northern California) would increase the likelihood that our button presses would be received close together and would get us into the same matches.
I do not know if that change actually has any impacted on our plan, but we managed to get in the same match this time. One of the aspects of the match maker is that it tries to match up platoons on either side, so one completely random side won’t end up facing a group of coordinated platoons. (Though the words “coordination” and “platoons” often seems to mean “we managed to group together” and not “we fight as a team.”)
So we had a run of about 10 matches with the four of us together. Most of the time we were on opposing sides. I got killed by Earl at least once, and hit both Earl and Potshot more that a couple of time. Once in a while we ended up on the same team. We migrated up from the tier I LOLtraktor to tier II vehicles as we seemed to be getting stuck into matches that were primarily tier II. Tankerbell, who only had a few matches had the T1E6 in his garage, the WoT Christmas gift, as he had made his account a while back. In hindsight, that was probably a mistake, as to progress he needs to earn experience on tanks that lead to upgrades and new vehicles. Of the group, he is the least likely to spend money on the game.
But we had fun. The simultaneous button press routine seemed to work. It would still be nice to find a way for all of us to play on the same side consistently. We will have to work on that for next time.