April 27, 2015

War Thunder Ground Forces

I got very frustrated with the game War Thunder, the player community as a whole, and most importantly, its match-maker (which I've learned much more about than what I mention at that link).  Roughly, vehicles have Battle Ratings, or BR.  When you're looking to join a match, the game looks only at your highest BR score, and matches you with a maximum 1.0 BR spread.  So if you have a BR plane of 3.0, you may be matched against a 4.0 BR plane.  In this situation, you would NOT be matched against anything lower than 3.0, though, because then the gap to the 4.0 plane would be too large.  The important thing is that you're only compared via the top rating in your lineup of three planes/tanks/whatever, so if you have a Corsair, a Buffalo and a Peashooter, you're matched up via the Corsair... which means you're going to be sealclubbed after your Corsair is gone.  Further, as you play you earn improvements for your plane... you get a new engine instead of one rebuilt and repaired; you get fresh machine guns instead of ones with worn-out barrels, that sort of thing... but the BR doesn't change.  The difference between a stock plane and one that's fully improved (or "spaded" in player terminology) is huge.  So, you have a stock P-38 Lightning and you're flying against a spaded FW-190D (or whatever)... and you're on the ground, upside down and burning before you know what hit you.

You'll have to imagine the "upside down and burning" part.
Finally, I said enough was enough.  I'm not having fun with the airplanes anymore, and Avatar's been extolling the virtues of the game's Ground Forces feature... eh, what the hell, let's give it a shot.

I sucked.  Big time.  As in "why even put him in a tank, just shoot him now and give the rest of the crew a fighting chance."  And it was for the exact same reasons... you start out in something that's a tank only because that's what we call armored vehicles from 1938 with treads, and you're going up against mature designs with better guns and more armor.  The only thing you have going for you is the troll factor: starter tanks are stupid fast and have rapid-fire guns.  They might not be able to punch a hole in a beer can, but you can harass the hell out of people.  Eventually I settled on the Russian line, because I had heard they were well balanced at lower levels.

Even if they can be goofy looking...
Over time, I learned how to tank.  Use cover.  Never face directly at an opponent, but don't give them your side, either.  Shoot at vertical pieces of armor, not angled.  And always, always have a big gun.  It makes life a lot easier.  How much easier?  Last night, I got into a match with my lineup of T-34s, highest BR 3.3.   Here were the results:

That's a LOT of shinies.  My place in the team was #1, but that's also where my score put me for the entire game, too.  I hate to put it this way, but I actually kinda did win this game myself.  There were three capture points on the map, and I took two of them.  I then defended the second of the two, located more-or-less centrally, while the rest of my team decided to go swanning about. 

That's me at the top of the picture, shooting at the enemy that just killed my teammate...

...and this is just before my round impacts.  It was a cool picture, I thought... also a good shot, as it resulted in his turret taking flight.  While I did, eventually, die, it wasn't until I had completely destroyed every counter-attack aimed at my position for nearly 10 minutes.  Once they kicked my armored carcass off the capture point, I loaded up another T-34 and charged the position... and took it back with very little struggle.  Game over.  It was one of those transcendent moments you sometimes get in video games, where you know that, at least for a few minutes, you are the best player ever.

Having a big gun helps.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:08 AM | Comments (17) | Add Comment
Post contains 702 words, total size 5 kb.

1 Advance glorious T-34s for the motherland, comrade Duck!

The T-34 is in a good position with respect to the battle rating system. The gun is fine, don't get me wrong. The gun is -fine-, and will reliably put a hole in anything you are likely to run into.

But what makes it such a -good tank- is the armor. That slope! It is absolutely the most heavily armored tank in its battle rating. And the tanks which it goes up against, well... are a big collection of odds and sods. The German tanks largely don't have the penetration to reliably punch a hole in that slope, and of the American tanks, almost everything with a gun that can do the job is 4.7, just out of reach of T-34 games. And that slope is all around! You can't reliably brew up a T-34 with another country's early tank even from behind.

And if you do lose your T-34, there are two other versions of the T-34 with more or less the same specs right there, so you can spend the whole battle in this wonderful tank.

Ironically, the biggest threat to the T-34 is another Russian tank, the KV-2, which... looks like a damn clown car, with its big vertical box turret. But it mounts a howitzer, so even if you're turning like an oil tanker with rudder damage, and you're only popping off one shot every 40 seconds, and you've got an effective range of -maybe- 500 meters... any T-34 on the other end is going to become a coffin. (Or anything else at that BR.) And the KV-2 is just low enough in BR that it doesn't have to worry about Tigers or Panthers (which stand a good chance of surviving that first shot unless you place it juuuust right, and of course if they shoot it first...)

Honestly, I think the Russkie tanks are the most fun to play, simply because you can go directly from "I'm driving around a T-34 with unrealistically good driving performance" to "okay, now I am in an SPG and can ambush people with my Finger of Death size cannon!"

That said, I've been on a hiatus for a month or so, playin' Path of Exile and Elite: Dangerous, and tomorrow I pack up the computer for the move. ;p

Posted by: Avatar at April 27, 2015 12:37 PM (zTHWs)


Looks like your hull-mounted machine gun is firing an electric beam. Didn't know the Russians had invented zap guns!

(Oh; just noticed: that's an incoming shell, right?)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 27, 2015 02:35 PM (+rSRq)

3 My T-34 is the one with the number "68" on the turret.  My unfortunate target is the one with the inbound shell.

Av, you're right about the glory of the T-34.  I've actually acquired all of the Soviet Tier II tanks as of this afternoon... the upgunned KV-1 joined the roster.  Just for the hell of it, I put it, the SU-122, and the original KV-1 together and went out for a ride.

And got my hat handed to me on the Jungle map.  The -122 lasted about 30 seconds before it got sniped by an IS-1.  The upgunned KV-1 did bad things to a T-34/85 until it fell to pieces from lack of spare parts.  The old KV-1 shot down an Beaufighter with its main gun, just as the game came to an end.

I then quietly took all three back out of my lineup for a while.

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 27, 2015 02:43 PM (jGQR+)

4 Yeah. Using the SU-122, you've gotta have a completely different battle strategy - advancing into the open is complete suicide and any enemy that comes into sight range outside your front arc WILL kill you (and will kill you FIRST, if he's ever been shot by a 122 before.) A couple of the later SPG tanks have a little armor on them, but not this sucker. It's great for the urban environments, or anywhere where you can stay down in a gully, but it just ain't made for warfare on the open steppe.

At the same time, it's pretty zippy for what it is. Unfortunately it's not nearly as zippy as actually-zippy tanks which it can run into. But its gun can kill those tanks from just about any angle; I actually got a kill on one tank and an assist on a completely different tank from damage done by the only shell I fired (before tank #3 shot and killed me).

I'm not fond of the KV-1 tanks. Super slow, poor guns, their only advantage is ridiculous armor. But they're so slow that you take half the game just to get into contact...

Posted by: Avatar at April 27, 2015 03:31 PM (zJsIy)

5 I get the feeling this is one of those games where, if you could guarantee me I will only be playing with/against friends then I could get into it, but dealing with strangers on the Internet who are guaranteed to be better practiced, better armed, and know all the tricks? Nuh uh, no way.

That said, it LOOKS like when things go right, it's an absolute hoot... and sometimes when things go spectacularly wrong, too...

Posted by: GreyDuck at April 27, 2015 07:12 PM (/zxpg)

6 Yeah, unfortunately your usual team size can range from 12 - 16 players.  Unless you join a squadron, its rare to team up with anybody you know... and I have yet to find a squadron that specializes in low-tier equipment.

And I'll tell ya... there's ALWAYS somebody better than you in a match.  Always.  Even in the game I highlighted, I didn't feel like the best player, I just had the advantages.  Manfred von Richthofen may have been the best pilot ever, but put him and his Fokker Dr.I up against a guy flying a P-51 Mustang and he wouldn't stand a chance. 

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 27, 2015 08:18 PM (jGQR+)

7 I really enjoyed the game when I played it, although I ran into a lot of the frustrations you're talking about.  The minute I started using the mouse for control and got better, I started moving into harder games and it was like hitting a brick wall.  I confess I haven't logged in since probably late February.
Of course, part of that was trying to get a specific achievement in WoW before I hit one of my major busy seasons.

Posted by: Ben at April 27, 2015 09:02 PM (S4UJw)

8 I've been playing World of Tanks lately, similar idea, but no respawning.  If you're out, you're out, but you can watch over the shoulder of your teammates.

Posted by: Mauser at April 29, 2015 03:42 AM (TJ7ih)

9 Alright. Fine. You talked me in to it.

First WT:GF match went well. Top of the match and 11 kills.

First impressions: Interface feels more cluttered that WoT, but that's expected with how things are more granular on crew and vehicle upgrades. (And with air/land handled by the same client)

Until I get out of noob tiers, it will be hard to tell how tactics shake out. So far I've seen a lot of bone-headed devil-may-care driving.

Gaijin must think light tanks glide around on a film of snot like their mascot. I shouldn't be able to perform a 360° pirouette in a 9-ton anything.

With all that said, I don't dislike it. It just pushes different buttons.

Posted by: Will at April 29, 2015 02:46 PM (5yaGJ)

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 29, 2015 04:30 PM (jGQR+)

11 Mauser, WoT seems to have no respawns because it's much harder to kill something... at least, in the videos I've watched.  I mean, almost every tank has a weak point somewhere in WT... realistically, I might add... and thus can be punched out a lot easier.  You just need to know where they are.

Even a Maus can be taken out with a 30mm cannon round.  It's bloody unlikely, you actually need a lucky ricochet to do it, but it can be done.

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 29, 2015 07:48 PM (jGQR+)

12 It really varies. And it depends on the ammo selected. They do the math for ricochet angles, and splash damage and so on. And the damage modelling includes things like if your radioman is down, you don't get very good updates on the radar map because you can't share location info at distance with your teammates.

So I've had situations where I bounced 11 shells off another tank as he works on blowing me away. But worst of all is when a Gun Carriage I've never seen blows me to bits with one shot!

Still, I'm getting better at things like learning to use the terrain to my advantage.  You can tell the noobs because they run around in light tanks because they're fast, and scream "camper" when you've been set up nicely under some foliage and blast them to bits when they finally sit still enough to hit.  Sorry kid, heavy tanks are snipers. Deal.

Posted by: Mauser at April 30, 2015 04:20 AM (TJ7ih)

13 I've had situations where I bounced 11 shells off another tank...

You've basically made my point for me here.  Either you're using a gun that's drastically underpowered for your target or it's harder to kill something in WoT

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 30, 2015 07:26 AM (jGQR+)

14 I don't think WoT units are modeled down to the same detail on things like port holes and other intentional penetrations where you can sneak a lucky round through in WT. I put a round through the machine gun port in the mantlet the other night in WT. In WoT that would be a bounce because the port is just a dark spot in the texture.

Large features like the louvers in the front of the IS-3 do get a reduction in overall armor effectiveness, but you're not going to squeeze a small caliber round between the blades and wreck any internals.

Posted by: Will at April 30, 2015 10:59 AM (xJwV0)

15 Is World of Warships on your radar yet? It looks like a ton of fun (Guns! Torpedoes! Dive bombers!), but from what I've seen it's another game that depends a lot on yoir teammates.

Posted by: Andy at April 30, 2015 11:17 AM (IVRUG)

16 Andy, it is, but I found out it was going into closed beta AFTER the beta was closed.  Oh well.

Posted by: Wonderduck at April 30, 2015 02:55 PM (jGQR+)

17 Well, at the time, I was going against a much heavier tank, and I had the smaller gun mine started out with. Distance factors into the AP rounds (but not the HE rounds), and since there's an uncertainty factor in shooting, as well as a gunner's skill factor, it's hard to say if you're going to hit that 2 meter exhaust port.

Posted by: Mauser at May 01, 2015 02:46 AM (TJ7ih)

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