Friday 6 January 2012

A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon

World of Tanks has had a couple of big updates recently. 7.0, just before Christmas, introduced a couple of new maps, cosmetic camouflage and a host of tweaks. The main addition in 7.1, released yesterday, is French tanks to fight alongside the existing German, Russian and US vehicles.

Now I’m not some sort of ultra-grognard demanding a completely realistic recreation of World War II down to the rivet, there were already plenty of experimental, prototype, theoretical and/or post-war AFVs in World of Tanks especially in the latter tiers, but the ever-so-slight problem with French tanks is there was a bit of an unscheduled interruption in development and production from 1940 to 1945, so almost everything in the game past Tier II is especially experimental, theoretical and/or post-war, which doesn’t quite feel right. Course there’s a slight element of nationalism here, as for some reason the French tanks have gone in before a full British (or Commonwealth) tree; granted the UK turned out some pretty poor tanks (and some obsolescent tanks that might have been quite good had they gone into service a couple of years earlier, which World of Tanks should make up for with its tiered battles), but at least they existed…

As if to mollify me, the WoT team have given everyone a British tank as a present; apply the code “NEWYEAREU” to your account for a free Tetrarch (“NEWYEARNA” for US players). Like the Valentine, Matilda and Churchill it’s flagged as Russian due to lend-lease, but I’ll take it. It’s a bit of a comedy tank, the real thing notable mostly for being landed by glider during the invasion of Normandy despite being obsolete, but as it’s classed as a Tier II vehicle in WoT it gets to frolic with other early war light tanks instead of late model PzKpfw IVs and StuGs.

I’ve been playing quite a lot of low tier battles in over the past months. Since my last update I’ve been hopping on a few times a week, but fun as the average fight is, they’re not terribly blogworthy (“Dear diary, today I shot an enemy tank with my gun. Then I shot another enemy tank with my gun. Then an enemy tank shot me with its gun. I exploded. The end.”) I haven’t bought any more gold since that post, and upgraded to Tier VIII vehicles in both my lines of choice (the IS-3 and ISU-152), which took a few million credits. It’s an expensive business, fighting at Tier VIII; repair costs are hefty, often more than your winnings, and even stocking up on ammunition puts a hefty dent in the wallet. I’m trying to figure out a way of converting the ISU-152 to use some form of trebuchet to fling light tanks, as I reckon they’re cheaper to buy than 152mm shells… There are several ways to fund yourself; lower tier tanks almost always make a profit, so can be worth keeping around even after you upgrade. Gold can be converted to credits for an instant hit, or used to buy Premium status that boosts credit and XP earnings for each match. Premium tanks can be also purchased with gold and offer good credit-earning potential, especially the Tier VIII vehicles. Gankalicious was splendid enough to pass on a code for a T-127, a Premium Tier III light tank, which doesn’t rack up massive cash but gives a nice boost, and I’ve got the Tier II Tetrarch as well now.

As well as turning a profit, low tier fights are generally a bit more relaxed and fast-paced. Tense battles of careful positioning and manoeuvre are great, but after a couple it’s nice just to tear across a map at high speed, possibly exclaiming “woot!” or sounding a novelty tank horn on the way (oddly enough, horns were included in the 7.0 testing as gold-purchasable “cosmetic” items… I’m not sure if any played Dixie or La Cucuracha, but for some reason they didn’t seem to go down too well and weren’t pushed live…) Though there’s always action of some sort across all the tiers the introduction of new tanks unleashes an impressive horde of starter vehicles, so if you were thinking of having another look at the game, or starting from scratch, it’s a particularly good time to hop in and join the low-tier French madness.

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