Author Archives: Corelin

Something Different – There’s Plenty of Space, up in Space!

The ship wasn’t anything to be proud of.  A simple tramp freighter of a design that had proved almost completely un-economical.  Originally, spheres had dominated designs, it offered the best volume to surface area ratio.  Then some wag had remembered that these spheres had to bludgeon through atmosphere and someone else pointed out that most cargo traveled in shipping containers that just didn’t fit into spheres very well and suddenly there’s dozens of ships selling cheap because they are barely worth operating.

SMS Pinafore was one of these obsolescent ships.  A mostly broken down hauler of miscellaneous bits of cargo that didn’t require much speed or delicate handling.  Perfect for fresh mercenary recruits on their way to their units.  Once I walked up the ramp, duffle slung from my shoulder, I was greeted at the hatch with a grunt and an outstretched hand.  I reached to shake hands and the man laughed.

“Right missy, look I just need your order chip to see who is nursemaiding you for this run.”  He offered his hand again.  I handed him the chip, he swiped it with his datapad “Right, you’re in B group.  In the hatch, straight down the hall, last door on the left then last door on the right.  When you realize you’re lost look for anyone in a green jumpsuit and tell them you’re in B group, right off you go!” he chirped out the last with some cheer, and slumped back against the frame of the hatch.

I walked down the hall, the low ceiling and wide corridor making me uneasy as I paced its length.  I felt sure I must have walked out the far side of the ship by the time I turned left, and the right turn was almost immediate.  “B Group?”  I ventured to the back of the man at the desk by the door.

“Steel on target missy, orders?”  He held out his hand as he turned, a solid slab of a man, built like a retaining wall, with a face behind a mustache so well groomed I wondered if he took it off at night to preserve it.  He smiled to himself, humming a martial ditty as he swiped my orders.  “The Vedettes!  Damn good outfit.  I’ve seen them on many a field, they’ll do right by you I expect.  Hmmm….. let’s see, coveralls, utility kit, ‘tronics kit give your scores, field gear, and looks like you’re down for extra cold weather training?  Oh right, damn Finns.  Take this to the shop at the back, check everything before you sign for it then find yourself a rack.  I’d give you the tour but I can’t find my legs right now.  Damn pranksters” He swiveled his chair around so I could see the stumps of his legs.  “They think I won’t get them back.”  His smile turned to that of a hunting cat and I took a few steps back before mumbling my thanks.  I walked across the bay, the back wall curved down and to the left, apparently my group was in the edge of the sphere.  A bored looking heavyset woman looked up as I walked to her cage.  I handed her the form the man at the desk had handed me.

“Waitrightheremissy.”  She didn’t move, then breathed in deeply  “I’llgetcherstuffforya”  She waited again then shuffled off, wheezing.  I looked around the bay.  A double line of bunks sheltered under the curve of the wall, fans hung from the ceiling, and back towards the central corridor a partition blocked off most of the area, not a permanent bulkhead.  I squinted at the doors, able to make out “Latrine” on one, “Classroom” on another, but the last I couldn’t quite make out.  A hacking cough turned me around to see the woman swing a heavy plastic basket onto the counter.

“Dufflebag.  Check”  She opened the bag and handed it to me.

“Coveralls, 4.  Check” She shoved the four garments in the bag.

“Boots, 2 pair.  Check”  She clomped the boots on the counter, then waited for me to dump them in the bag.  She sighed as I placed them on the ground next to me.

“Utility belt.  Check”

“Electroncs kit.  Check”

Wet Weather gear, cold weather gear, hats, scarves, gloves, socks, underwear, liners, covers, cleaning kits, mess kits, it seemed the basket was bottomless, and the slow diction and action of the woman made it seem like twice as much.  Grandad had warned me about this moment.  I checked everything again before signing.  Half of what I’d been given was worn down, torn, or missing pieces.  The electronics kit was so damaged it wasn’t worth the bag she’d handed me.  She glared daggers at me for every piece I asked her to replace, and she shuffled off to the back to replace the items I’d rejected even more slowly.  The whine of electronics announced the powered chair of the man at the desk.  “Christ, Mary and their little dog she tried to fleece you blind.  Oye, you’d better get it right this time!  The goal isn’t to try to kill these people before they even get to their companies you damned skinflint!”

He insisted on checking everything I was issued, including the things that I’d accepted.  I spent the next hour waiting on the two to argue out their differences.  Lucy and Jeremiah went at it hammer and tongs while I sat back and folded acceptable items for storage.  Eventually I had everything on the list and a few things that weren’t but the other two showed no signs of stopping their argument, so I edged back and to the side.  I locked my bags in a footlocker bolted to the floor, then headed to the latrine.  The other door was labelled “Range” and had an array of locks and clipboards on it.

The Latrine was a large and public affair, toilets, urinals and showers all clustered around the complicated pumps and filters needed to recycle water and keep it flowing.  I washed up and came out to see a group of three at the counter, two men and a woman, all skinny, grubby looking kids.  They looked vaguely familiar but I couldn’t put names to them.  They took bunks as far from mine as possible and played cards together, glancing at me as I read on my pad.  Lucy and Jeremiah kept to themselves and around 9, without a word, walked out and turned off the lights.  I read for a bit longer before getting up to use the latrine, checking my things in the footlocker and going to sleep.

I woke up to a loud crash and a cry of pain.  In an instant I was up and behind my bunk.  The two boys had trapped on a line I’d strung up at the base of my bunk.  The room was pitch black, and the two were tangled up in each other and on the line.  I slipped around the bunk and waited for them to start moving, I swept my leg hard at ankle height and took them down again, before throwing myself down on them with elbows and fists riding my advantage ruthlessly.  I’d learned long ago that depending on the kindness of others was nice but that pain taught more permanent lessons.  I dragged them across the floor, using the pad as a flashlight, and tied them to their bunks with my line.

At four in the morning a new voice shattered the darkness.

“SCUUUUUUUM!”

The lights came on with the kind of intensity usually seen in close orbits of the sun, shouts, grunts and a scream echoed from the other side of the room.  I stood up as straight as I could.

“WHAT IN THE NAME OF CAESAR’S LEGIONS ACHING SOULS IS GOING ON HERE?”  He bellowed at the two boys tied to their beds.  “WHAT KIND OF FREAKY SHIT ARE YOU BOYS INTO?”  He yelled looking down on the bruised and beaten faces still tied to their beds.  “YOU HAVE EXACTLY ONE MINUTE TO GET OUT UP AND AT ATTENTION FUCKNUCKLES!”

He turned his attention to the girl and I “And you ladies!  There’s green tape on the floor marking out a route.  You have 30 seconds to get into fatigues and start running that tape.  10 laps.  MOVE!”  The girl was out the door 10 seconds before me.  The boys were still struggling.  I hadn’t made it easy for them to escape.  The route wound around the ship like a snake, up and down ladders, with arrows indicating the direction of travel.  I figured it was about half a klick, I was well into my fourth lap, and well behind the girl, before I saw the boys.  They were staggering a bit, with rope marks on their arms.  They avoided my glance as I passed them in the halls.

After the run the man that woke us up was lounging in his chair at the desk.  “Fair time, fair time.  Wash up, breakfast is in the galley.  Back across the main hall, first door on your right once you get across.  We start at 0630 so move!”

The boys didn’t make it to breakfast.  We sat in a classroom where they munched on a couple biscuits the instructor?  Drill Sergeant?  Asshole?  had brought them.

“Now I don’t know what happened last night.  I don’t care what happened last night.  If anything like it happens again I’m throwing all of you out the nearest hatch in whatever you are wearing whether we’re here or in hyperspace, capiche?”

We nodded.  He sighed and hung his head.  “Yes?  No?  Fuck you?”

“yes…” we mumbled.  He sighed again but let it go.

“This ain’t like the movies.  You’re all on contracts and have bonds posted.  You can walk away at any time and only forfeit your bond.  Yes you will get screamed at and it will be hard and if you are endangering anyone you can and will be summarily shot, but in general you will be treated a lot better than the soldiers you see in the vids.  You will also be expected to do more than you ever expected.  Every bedroll, tent, cot, meal, and drink of water comes from somewhere.  Every bullet, band aid and bean has to be carried out there.  And paid for.  You will do more with less than even the rudest colony world could prepare you for and that starts with training.  Sometimes you get to your unit and the first thing you do is get in a convoy and drive down a hot road through ambushes and bombs to link up with your unit.  You have to know enough to live long enough to get there, so every unit pools together some resources to train folks on the way, with retreads like myself, Jeremiah, and even Lucy to chivvy you along.  Today we set up your gear, and integrate a few latecomers.  This evening you meet your new best friends.

The next few hours were spent assembling the gear we’d been issued.  Then helping the 8 new folks, 6 guys and three more girls, with all their gear.  It all had to go together in identical assemblies, and we added first aid gear, and empty magazines to it.  The reason we put it all together the same?  If you find a body and need his first aid kit, you need to know where to look.  We ate a hurried lunch as we finished the task of assembling our kit, then threw on packs and belts and raced downstairs.

“The Fleming and Karkov 8-wheel 8-ton truck.  Affectionately known as the Flak 88.  Story goes that for every tank, plane, truck and man destroyed by the old Flak, this one has saved 10.  It’s a heavy utility vehicle, that serves as a command post, a recovery vehicle, a scout vehicle, a forward observer, a prime mover for field guns, a fuel or water truck, and even a supply vehicle.  The crew cab seats 5, driver, TC, gunner and two specialists, usually 1 on commo one doing whatever, and the back can carry up to 50 people, or more if you don’t like them, a fighting compartment for up to 5 more weapons, 8 tons of cargo, a mobile command center, a 5,000 gallon tank of water or gas, or a generator big enough to jump start this ship.  Every unit in the galaxy uses it and so, before you leave this ship, you will learn how to use every piece of equipment to maintain and operate this beast”

 

 

Swiss Watches make Poor Broadswords

So back in WWII the allies and the Axis had very differing philosophies on how to equip their Armies.  The allies tended to prefer simpler, more mobile designs that were sufficient to their needs, whereas the Axis built the most advanced weapon they could manage.  This mostly applied to the Germans but the Italians and Japanese both had weapons, planes, and especially warships that were… overengineered.  Let’s look at tanks though, specifically the Tiger vs. the Sherman and T-34.  The Tiger was the terror of WWII.  A heavy tank with superb firepower and very tough armor it had as much of a psychological impact as a physical one on the battlefield, but it came at a price.

The Sherman and T-34 were humbler, more workmanlike vehicles but they did the job, and they stayed on the job.  They fit into the support structure, and while they had their quirks, they didn’t tax the rear echelons or impair the units they were supporting with low operational rates.  Their guns were sufficient for the job, and their armor generally kept them in the field.

The Tiger had problems.  Even a normal Tiger required more spares, mechanics and fuel than a Panzer IV, and the Tiger II battalions needed almost enough trucks to support a conventional panzer division.  While this alone didn’t do much to defeat Nazi Germany, it didn’t help.  Combined with other “wonder weapon” programs like the Me 262, the supersized artillery, and the Porsche family of tanks, it certainly didn’t help the resource starved Reich.

But all this is old news.  The Good Guys won, the Bad Guys lost.  Surely no nation would be so silly as to repeat those mistakes, and devote their national treasure to building useless, vain super-project weapons again.  Especially during peace!

Well you’d be wrong.  Not only are we building aircraft that we can ill afford, but they are the wrong aircraft, spread over too many missions they can do almost none of them well, mostly not as well as the aircraft they are replacing, and many requirements are simply unfulfilled.  Added to that are fresh fleets of supercarriers, and one of which outnumbers every other supercarrier on the planet.  Then there’s the tanks we build surplus to the needs, wants, or capabilities of our Army to maintain, the transport aircraft or the sad and sorry state of our field artillery and army aviation assets, which lack the training and doctrine to do their job, and in the case of our aviation assets seem to be deficient in even basic levels of training based on the number of accidents lately.

Helicopters fall out of the sky with alarming regularity, and the artillery uses tactics and doctrine that may work well in limited operations in Iraq but would doom even the soldiers facing the decrepit North Korean army to a thorough pasting at the hands of better organized and doctrinally superior artillery Divisions  We don’t go higher than a fires brigade, and our fire units, batteries and battalionnns, are smaller to boot. By organizing larger units of artillery into larger artillery units the “Soviet” model sacrifices some flexibility to gain crushing advantages in firepower and gives artillery officers more prestige by offering them the chance to proceed into higher commands, pushing more and better officers into this branch.

We have devolved into an acquisition-oriented military which places the expensive and difficult to block weapons and support structure (bases, supply and maintenance contracts, and or course the weapons themselves) ahead of the good of the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who will be using them.  We protect the military budget with patriotism and wrap it in a flag, not noticing that training, safety, and soldier care are being cut to the bone while we buy more and more expensive and worthless weapons without regard for those who will be asked to use them.

We have built a military armed with the fanciest Swiss watches, and now that we cannot give it infinite funds we are keeping the fancy watches and not bothering to train our men in how to use them.  I hope they never have to.  If they do I hope we have enough to replace the ones that break, and the people broken by the failings of their tools.

Something Different – Departures

First off – I will come up with a title.  At some point.  I plan on running this for three or four months if I can keep it interesting.  Please make suggestions in the comments!

I woke up to the smell of fried eggs and potatoes.  Grandad made it for us every day we were out there.  Everything smelled great and tasted better.  I rolled out of bed and bounded down the stairs pulling on my robe.  Grandad grunted his greeting without even turning from the stove.  A small box was on the table, one I’d seen before in his workshop out back, but had never really looked in.

I poured coffee for both of us, pouring in the cream and sugar liberally.  I sat in the big chair next to grandad’s, pulling my knees up under my chin.  Grandad turned and scooped a generous helping of eggs and potatoes onto my plate, giving himself another large portion.

“Eat hearty, could be a long day and ships rations aren’t likely to taste this good”

“You’re assuming I’m even going”

He looked at me “It’s a little early for Bullshit.  But not for hard truth.  Let’s stick to that.”  He pushed the box over to me with his mug.  I looked in.  It looked like the normal detritus one finds in a parts shop.  An old belt with a bulky buckle, like a flip off seat belt almost.  A sealed envelope.  With an old fashioned wax seal, the inevitable piece of string, a rolled up bag strapped closed.  I poked around, and found a data stick underneath the letter.  I looked at grandad who had eaten most of his food and stared at the rest with eyes focused miles away.

“It’s… interesting.”

“Eat your food.  I’ll explain most of it.”  He grabbed the rolled up bag and untied the knot.  It unrolled revealing a bizarre collection of small tools, some from a dentists kit, some electronics cleaning tools, as well as a couple of small bottles.  “Keep your weapon and ammunition clean at all times.  Get inside it and clean it.  Check it every time you pick it up.  If your ammo has been sitting in the mags for a couple days, pull it out and clean it.  A misfeed can be ammo as much as the action.”  He grabbed the belt.  Poking and twisting it popped the cover off the buckle.

“If you ever surrender, and you will, surrender to mercs.  Indigs will probably kill you out of hand and will damn sure be slow to honor your bond and get you back to your unit.  You need to be doubly careful being a woman.”  He looked at me fore a second.  I knew what he was implying, and he knew it but he couldn’t send me off not telling me.  He pulled out a glistening, metallic coil.  It glittered subtly in the well lit kitchen;  “This little beauty is a diamond saw.  Will go right through cuffs and works as a brutal little garrote.  It’s been used and I’d rather it be used again if you find yourself where I was.  The data stick has some information regarding planets I’ve been on and people I know.  Some of them are friendly enough.  Helpful like even.  Some of them are to be avoided if you can.  The letter is for Virgil.  Give it to him when you report to the unit.  It’s got some things he should know about you and some of the other folks we used to know.  Now finish your eggs, it’s a long drive to town”

I looked down to find most of my food gone.  The rest I shoveled down.  Grandad already had a duffle bag packed for me.  The ubiquitous green bag mercs and soldiers carried since time before time it seemed.  The top sat open and I put the re-rolled bag in, ran upstairs to grab the sturdy outfit I had picked out, buckled on my new belt and my comfortable boots.  I came back down and grandad tossed me a battered old hat.  “It’s called a Ushanka.  Warm as hell ad pretty comfortable.  Last I heard Virgil’s was on Uusi Helsinki, and damned if the Finns didn’t find a colder place to live than they started.”

The truck rolled easily over the graveled roads around grandad’s house, although the racket precluded any conversation.  Further from his house the road gave way to tracks, just a path, or barely a suggestion of a path between grandad’s power farm and the colony.  Mostly a pair or tracks worn down beneath the transmission lines.  The hour long drive gave me time to think.  Very likely I was leaving today and who knew if and when I’d come back.  Rocks rattled off the bottom of the truck and thoughts rattled through my head.  Finally we turned onto the hardball road on the edge of Spaceport.

“I think the only thing louder than the rocks was the gears grinding in that thick skull of yours.”

“There’s a bit to think about grandad.”

“Aye, there is.  But do your thinking now.  Once you’re in the field it’s time to do.”

We passed the gate into Mr. Neuheisel’s establishment.  A nice enough front with a decent house and a dilapidated barracks building adjacent to it.  A large spherical container ship sat behind the compound, exhaling steam onto the poured tarmac.  Grandad parked the truck out front and grabbed the duffle, helping me sling it over my shoulder.  “I’ll have a word with Neuheisel, but you’re being watched from here on out.  If people don’t think you need help, they won’t try to make you need it, if you take my meaning.”

I nodded, brain whirring but not fully processing anything.  This was it.  We walked into Neuheisel’s.  A nondescript office, with plain but comfortable chairs, several terminals, and badges from half the mercenary outfits in the sector.  “Neuheisel!” Grandad bellowed.  “Get out here, unless peace has broken out for good!”

“Not likely Mr. Dunnett, not likely ‘tall” he said, coming out of the back room.  “And Miss Dunnett as well I see.  Good to see you, our newest Vedette, eh?  Well let’s get the paperwork out of the way”

He flopped into a chair and pulled out an electronic pad, a few strokes and he neatly reversed it.  I slid into the chair “Yes sir” I said, my voice firm, but slow.  I read carefully, while Grandad asked for news of the wars.  Things had been quiet for a while but everyone expected it to change, and soon.  All the companies were hiring, but no one knew where the flame of war would catch on.

“Like a forest fire after a dry season, it’s always worse when it’s dry and there hasn’t been a good burn for a while.”  Neuheisel intoned.  “And how’s the miss doing with her paperwork?”

I thumbed the last few signatures in.  “Done sir!”  I said turning the pad back with a flourish that nearly spilled it onto the ground.  Neuheisel managed an awkward catch.  He paged through to check everything.  “Good, good, Mr. Dunnett are you fronting the bond?”

“I am”

“Well then, send it around whenever.  I don’t imagine your granddaughter will need it, will you Recruit Dunnett?”  And with that I was a Vedette and ready for my ship.

soon I’ll hit my GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLLLL

So one of the important things to have in any sort of a game is a goal.  In World of Tanks my goal since November has been a 1k WN8 by my birthday.  Right now It’s at 992 and I might hit it this weekend instead of next.  GG me.  So what to set for my next goal?  I’m considering a couple of options.  It depends on how much control I want to have over my success really.

Two Tier 10s this year – Attainability 10, reward 7, effort 8.  Lots of grinding here, but I’m relatively close to the T110E5, the IS-7 and the AMX 50B, all of which are reputed to be very fun.

1200 WN8 by New Years – Attainability 7, reward 6, effort 9.  I’ll have to play better on average and play a LOT to get there.  Still it would bump me up another tier in WN8, which would be quite an achievement where I’m at in the game right now.

Get Digital.Flash.Fire to a viable place – Attainability 3, Reward 10, effort 10.  This one I feel like I have the least control over, yet it requires the most work.  To get it successful we have to have that breakout moment, that breakout video, or new channel that brings in new people, it also requires not only consistent play in WoT, but also in other games to draw in interest from new communities and to keep things fresh.  It also requires good cooperation with Matt, who is a great friend, and always will be, but has been known to lose faith in projects over time.  All of these are mutually supporting goals, which is nice, so I don’t necessarily have to choose one, but I must say I am leaning towards some tier 10s as my first priority.

I also want to do more work here on the blog.  The biggest thing will be the story series continuing on Mondays.  Depending on the reception I may turn it into a larger project even.  It is a fun series to work on and I look forward to continuing it.

I did a bad thing

Like many people, I play games for fun.  I play them to relax, I play them to separate from my humdrum existence and experience something outside the dull routine.  Much of my day consist of being yelled at by little old ladies who cannot do the simple arithmetic required to balance their checkbooks.

Playing games, whether it’s EvE, Lotro, FF, or tonks, allows me to escape.  It allows me to do something fun, that isn’t being yelled at by idiots.  Which resulted in me going off a bit this weekend.

One gentlemen decided to start ripping into me when I wasn’t doing enough to carry the team while I was playing Artillery.  Let me get this out of the way right now, I hate artillery, I hate playing it, I hate getting hammered by it, I think it needs to be totally redone if not removed, but I love getting female crew members so I’m stuck with it.  I had actually done a bit of damage and gotten a kill, however I accidentally hit a friendly, finishing him off.  Now arty is nastily inaccurate, and these things happen.  I immediately apologized and the guy was totally cool with it.  But the asshats started whining in chat, one in particular had been crying the whole match about people not doing enough to support him, or drawing fire to his position or who knows what else.

So I deliberately shot him.  Finishing him off.  Not the best thing I could have done, but frankly, I play this game for fun.  Shitting up chat and whining about your team not doing enough doesn’t win games.  I tend to do one of three things.  Not talk at all (90% of the time), encourage people and try to positively draw them out (9.99%) or rage and wreck.  (0.01%).  Sunday I hit that 0.01%.  I blasted that guy.  And I’d do it again.

Something Different – Part 1

I never knew why grandad looked up at the stars.  It seemed a weird thing for him to do.  I mean.  He went to the stars.  He spent two dozen years or more in one mercenary company or another.  And yet every time we went out to the country where his rambling old ranch house stood, he would be out there every night.  Staring at the stars.

One summer.  After I finished school, I went out there alone.  I asked Da for the keys to the truck.  Told him I wanted to visit grandad.  He looked at me for a long minute, then went to the drawer, fished out the keys and handed them to me without a word.  I took them gravely and, three or four hours later, I drove past the last of the windmills on his power farm to find him out back.  Staring at the stars.

“Hoi, grandad” I said, waving as I walked down the path to the fence he perched on.

“Hoi yersself” he said.  Looking up, scanning back and forth.

I leaned on the fence near him, trying to look at the same stars as him, trying to see what he was looking at.  After a while the night sky seemed to fade from a deep black to a blue as my eyes adjusted.  The stars seemed clearer.  I still couldn’t see what he was looking at.

“Grandad, What do you look for at night anyway?”

“What did you talk to Mr. Neuheisel about in town yesterday?”

I coughed as panic grabbed my chest.

“Oh come now missy, you don’t think grandad keeps up with the recruiter?  I’m old but you don’t get old by being stupid, come on.  Tell your grandad”

I looked down for a second.  The grass waved at me in the night breeze.  The nearest light might have been from the now forgotten stars.  He knew.

“Well, I got my test scores back, I wanted to know what he thought of them”

“Naturally.  Every little girls first stop is at the local merc meat finder’s shop to see how they scored”

I shuddered.  This wasn’t how I saw this trip going at all.

“Grandad…”

“Calm yourself.  I’m not blaming you.  It’s only natural after all.  Lord knows it’s the first place I headed.”

“He called you?”

Grandad laughed, there was even some humor in it.  “Damn right he did.  Course he knows if he puts one of my kin on a ship without talkin’ to me…”

“Oh grandad, he wouldn’t do that”

“The hell he wouldn’t.  Bastard gets a piece of every ass he puts in a seat, yours same as anyone’s.  Don’t you forget it either.  Minute you step onto one of those ships the only person gives a damn about you… is you”

I looked over at him.  His head was held higher, his shoulders back, his jaw set.  I thought for a minute, then I asked him “What did he tell you?”

He looked over at me now, a glint in his eye.  “Second smart thing you’ve said tonight.  He told me a list of the outfits you matched up with.”

“Did he tell you that I could go to Condor Legion?”

“Yeah.  And I told him you wouldn’t.”

I almost fell over.  “But… you were in Condor?”

“Aye.  And I left.  I told him to hold a post in Virgil’s Vedettes.”

I wrinkled my nose.  I’d heard the name but when I saw the size and rating I didn’t bother looking up anything else.  The Vedettes were a battalion sized unit, less than 800 men, they usually handled support contracts for the big outfits.  Convoy escort, garrison duty, the kind of stuff that made working in da’s electronics shop look exciting.

“But, Why?”

“Virgil and me go way back.  He trains his people, he invests in them.  You may not save a world, but you’ll learn things that’ll save your hide.  Virgil makes half his money when the big companies buy out the contracts of his people so they can replace their losses with well trained, competent troops.”

“And he’ll keep me out of trouble.”

His teeth shined in the dark “And he’ll keep you out of some trouble, granddaughter of mine.”

I looked up again.  “So… what are you seeing up there?”

“Back to your first smart question.  Well, you’ll learn soon enough, I may as well tell you.  I’m looking at the stars I buried friends at.  Thirty or more suns I’ve fertilized the soil with the body of a friend.  I hope something useful comes of it.  Come on in, we’ll get you a good breakfast then I’ll drive you back to Neuheisel’s in the morning.  If you ask nicely I’ll even take the truck back to your old man’s.”

How Is Gud Tenk?

So I’ve talked a lot about World of Tanks, but I haven’t really talked about what makes a tank “good” so I’ll take a hack at it.

Fast and a good gun.  *mic drop*

Oh, wait, you wanted a real breakdown?  Sigh.  Fiiiiine.

Really you have to have a good blend.  There’s tanks with amazing guns at their tier, there’s tanks who can write their name at 300m, there’s tanks that would be slowed down if they could instantly teleport and there’s tanks that seem to have the ability to eat a ton of shots.  Some of them are good tanks, some of them are terrible, despite a big strength.  I’m going to look at “Good Tanks” through the lens of three vehicles.  The IS-3, the Object 416, and the AMX 50 100.

The IS-3 is the brawler par excellence.  It has enough mobility to get there; enough armor to survive prolonged fights, especially while sidescraping, and a great gun for close in work.  The gun cannot snipe, and the tank can get worn down as its armor is not impenetrable, but it doesn’t have to snipe with its mobility, and it can live long enough to get in close.  It can also punch up the tiers and affect higher tier battles.  What makes this tank great?  It has enough of everything to get through nearly any situation.

The Object 416 has a punchy gun, immense speed and combines a low profile and troll armor to zip in, burn something down, and get the fuck out.  The gun isn’t awfully accurate, and has godawful handling, but it hits hard and reloads ludicrously fast.  The tank has immense straight-line speed, allowing it to blaze across the battlefield more like a hovercraft than a tank.  It turns pretty damn poorly, so you have to plan your movement with some forethought, but the speed more than balances that out.  The armor is just… insane.  If I got penetrated by a small child blowing bubbles, I’d believe it.  There’s places where you can almost imagine shots going right through the tank and into its neighbor.  On the other hand I’ve bounced shots from Object 704s with that lovely BL-10 because the angles on this tank are just SO extreme.  The armor isn’t “functional” in that it can be counted on to bounce shot after shot in a prolonged engagement, but it can be relied on to protect you while you are moving from stray shots.  What makes it great?  It delivers a great gun to key spots on the battlefield fast and in relative safety.

Then there’s the AMX 50 100.  There’s no armor.  None.  The “protection scheme” for this vehicle consists of: A. Kill them fast or B.  Be somewhere else.  The gun is pretty damn amazing.  Fast firing autoloader with 6 shots, enough damage potential to wreck a LOT of on tier vehicles in about 10 seconds, great penetration, acceptable accuracy, but otherwise poor handling, the tank travels like a sports car, it accelerates well to its top speed, turns well, and generally gets you where you need to be.  Again the armor is nonexistent but your best armor is killing them all before they shoot you.  What makes this tank great?  SO MUCH DAMAGE.  There’s times I’ve pulled out against full health, on-tier tanks and pulled back to reload in the cover behind the smoking wreck of their tank.  And it feels good.

Next week I will talk about some bad tanks.  British Heavies might want to get a head start on hiding.  We know how slow you are after all…

Coming Off Tilt

Going on tilt is the nightmare of the player who is seeking to improve not just his game but his stats.  For the last two days I have been on tilt as bad as I’ve ever been.  At one point I went 18 games without a win, got one win, then lost the next 10.  I can’t even say my teams were completely at fault.  I can think of 3 or 4 games where I had a particularly boneheaded play that contributed to our loss all out of proportion to what you’d expect from a team game.  I’m talking the logi pilot flying out of bounds during the Alliance Tournament levels of dumb.

So yesterday I played a couple games, realized it wasn’t getting better and walked away.  Best thing I could have done.  Today I played some and it wasn’t AS awful but it was still rough.  Finally I decided to break out the stopper.  The stopper is a baseball term for a pitcher you use to win key games or to halt a big losing streak.  This is usually an older, emotionally tough guy.  Curt Schilling was a stopper for all of his career.  He was almost never the best pitcher on his team (playing with Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez for almost all of your career will do that for you) but if you had to hand the ball to a guy in a win or go home game, you handed it to Schill.  5 times in postseason elimination games he took the mound.  Teams record in those games?  5-0.  Including the bloody sock game.  Some of those were ugly games.  Including the bloody sock game.

So what’s my stopper you ask?  I swap between two of my premiums.  The famous M6A2E1 Mutant and the T-54 First Prototype.  These tanks are just rocks in my garage.  Even more than the superlative 50 100 and IS-3 they can just carry games in the right situation.

M6A2E1 Mutant

shot_067

No, I’m not telling you how to beat it.  You have to figure that out on your own.  I will tell you that when I can keep the battle in front of me and there’s not too many Tier 9 tanks against me this thing is just an absolute monster.  Get it as top tier in a city map and I can pencil in 2500 damage and god knows how much blocking.

T-54 First Prototype

shot_058

A completely different tank, the T-54 proto is what I like to call an “enough” tank.  It has enough armor to bounce some shots, it has enough gun to deal with most tanks it faces, it has enough speed to get out of trouble and reach key spots, and enough visibility (BARELY) to see what it needs to see.  If you keep your head, and stay patient in this tank you can absolutely control the flow of the game.  It also is infinitely more flexible than the Mutant.

When I’m on tilt but I feel close to breaking through I’ll alternate these tanks.  Soon enough I’ll look back and realize I’ve won a few, I’ve gotten some good games, and it’s time to stop farming credits and play some other tanks.  And it feels good.  Also it has helped me get my first MoE on these tanks (the stars on the barrels)

Doing Lines

So more World of Tanks.  I’m going to do a post on the lines I’m focusing on.  The lines in this game have a lot of variety so I’m going to break it down into Brawlers, Assassins, Flexers, and Scouts.  First let’s define the terms.

Brawlers mix it up.  They bring a ton of armor, good guns, and lots of firepower.  These are some of the most fun lines for me.  Currently I’m on the IS-3, closing in on the T-10.  Eventually I’ll get the IS-7, which tops off that line.  The other brawler I’m working on is the American Heavy line ending in the T110E5.  This is the quintessential Heavium.  A tank that mixes the speed of a slow medium with the armor and gun of a Heavy.  It’s a beast.  I’m closest to the T110E5 as I have the M103.

Next I’ve got the Assassins.  These are tanks specialize in massive amounts of unexpected damage.  The french heavies, and lights are specialists in this.  Autoloaders with huge potential damage and extensive reloads, and German paper TDs with the ability to drop damage bombs across the map.  The Russian TDs are at the extreme unsubtle end of the spectrum.  With good camo and truly amazing guns they can provide sudden and horrible death.  With their low hitpoints and low accuracy however, you never know who the death will be dealt to.

The Russian and Americans mediums are my Flexers.  These are all rounders who can shift across the battlefield delivering damage.  Faster versions of the brawlers, they trade armor and raw alpha for more speed and accuracy.  The Russians have a bit for focus on damage while the Americans get a bit more gun handling.  I plan on adding the 2nd french medium line (AMX 30) after I get the Batchat 25 giving me three choices here with the two Soviet mediums.

Finally there’s the scouts.  Pure light tanks they emphasize speed and low profile.  I’m working on both the American and German lines.  I also want to work the Chinese lines.  Right now that one is mired at tier three though soooo yeah.

These definitions are in no way official.  It’s just how I think of these lines.  Brawlers are pretty universal, but defining the rest of the lines isn’t terribly easy.  More on that later.

Defining Progress

So, World of Tanks has been eating the lion’s share of my time, both playing the game and making videos on my YouTube channel that I work on with my friend Matt, with occasional contributions from Tracy.  The design of this game invites many different measures of progress.  The big five are: Unlocking new tank lines, Improving your WN8, and Marks of Excellence / Mastery Badges, and personal missions.  What isn’t mentioned is getting better.  More on this in a minute.

The first one is the most obvious and it’s the driving force for nearly every new player.  What’s more it’s one that everyone is working on to some extent.  Currently the lines I’m pushing are the T-54, the T110E5, and the AMX 50B.  There’s others I’m working on; however they aren’t as significant as those three at the moment.  This also requires a LOT of money as you get to higher tiers, with tier 8 tanks costing in excess of 2 million, tier 9s 4 million + credits and tier 10s a whopping 6 million plus.  This can be a rewarding grind but it can also be a DULL grind.  For example in my Object 416, to get to the T-54 I need another 140k exp.  At about 600-1000 per battle that’s… a lot of battles.  To get either of the top guns for the T-54 I need about 100k, with another 60k to get the other choice.  Add in another 60k for the tracks and top engine.  THEN there’s the Obj 140 and the T-62A.  EACH of those monsters are 200k (206 for the 140 actually).  The only lucky break I catch is that the Object 140 that I want first is gated behind the top gun I want first.  Small victories I guess.

Next there’s Improving your WN8.  WN8 is the most obvious stat when it comes to measuring a player’s ability to do damage.  While it is related to a player’s skill, it isn’t necessarily related to a player’s ability to win games.  You can “farm” WN8 by damaging enemies while not doing anything to directly win games.  For example damaging easy to destroy lower tier tanks, while ignoring higher tier tanks that would be tougher to penetrate but could be more important targets.  Currently I’m working on my WN8, trying to get it to 1000 by my birthday.  We shall see how that goes.

Next there’s Marks of Excellence / Mastery Badges.  I’ve rolled these two together as they are closely related.  These two consist of dedicating yourself to mastering a single tank, either doing more damage than the vast majority of players using that tank or getting more experience in one game than the vast majority.  In particular the Ace Tanker badge requires you to get more EXP in one battle than 99% of players in the last week.  Getting these in some of the better high tier tanks is an immensely rewarding experience.

The last measurement of progress is personal missions.  Personal missions are one of the weirder things in World of Tanks.  Half of them can be accomplished in normal gameplay, the other half require some real stretches either in skill – the 15s are a reach for most players. or in luck – MT-12 requires you to set fires.  There’s a reason I keep so many high ROF mediums.

None of these really measure skill directly, WN8 comes very close, but it misses the mark, partly due to technical limitations (not being able to see spotting damage for example) partly due to the semantics of measuring skill.  I am excited about the changes coming up with WN9, in particular the ability to show “recent only” in game.  With over 8000 games played I have to play far above the level I want to show on my overall score to average out the 4000 or so games I played as an absolute idiot and the 2000 or so I played as more or less of an idiot.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37 other followers