FAQs for Taugrim’s “Road to Unicum” Videos for World of Tanks


Table of Contents

What is the purpose of the “Road to Unicum” videos?

When I read the official WoT (World of Tanks) forums, WoT sub-Reddit, and WoTLabs forums, one question comes up more than any other: how do I improve my gameplay?

This is particularly challenging for players who have hit a ceiling in terms of their measurable performance (e.g. win rate, WN8 rating, etc) and are not sure what to do. While players can download replays of highly-skilled players, those replays don’t capture the thinking process of the player behind the tank – you see their actions but don’t necessarily know the how’s or why’s behind them.

Therefore, in this video series I share what I’ve learned as I progress towards account Unicum rating (top 0.1%) with silver ammo only. I talk through how I’m reading the battle as it unfolds and discuss key decisions and mistakes. My hope is that these videos meaningfully help other players improve their gameplay.

For full disclosure, I spend money on the game, and that most definitely helps with stats. I believe that it’s possible to reach Unicum as a F2P player and with silver ammo, but the process would be extremely tedious and suck the fun out of the game.

Who is the intended audience?

Basically anyone who does not already have a purple WN8 Recent and who is looking for guidance / tips for improving their gameplay.

Players who already have a purple Recent WN8 already know what I know.

Your account is not Unicum yet, so why are you publishing these videos?

The title implies the journey to get there, not already being there.

That said, if I continue playing at the level I’ve been playing the past several thousand battles, I should reach account Unicum (2450 WN8) prior to 13k battles on my original WoT account.

I’ve been averaging a Super Unicum WN8 (2900+) for over 3000 battles, all with silver ammo only.

Taugrim's WoT Stats

Beyond WoT, I have a long history of publishing guides for various online games that have meaningfully helped players improve their gameplay. Sharing knowledge and providing guidance are things I love to do.

Why don’t you use gold ammo (“premium ammo”)?

I don’t use gold ammo because it’s very problematic for tank balance.

No judgement on players who use it, it is a built-in game mechanic and is a powerful tool.

For the purpose of these educational videos, I think it’s more illustrative and helpful to viewers to show how to perform well with silver ammo, as opposed to firing a lot of gold.

How do we know you really don’t use gold ammo?

I can’t offer you exhaustive proof – that would require my collecting and posting over 10k screenshots or replay files, and frankly no one would go through them all anyway.

That said, I can offer meaningful proof – I have posted hundreds of screenshots for battles in which I earned Ace Tanker or 1st class badges, and you can see from the ammo re-supply costs that I’m firing silver ammo only.

Aside from that, you’ll just have to take my word for it, and the fact that no one will ever be able to post a replay of my firing gold ammo at them.

Why don’t you use mods?

I’ve never used any mods in WoT, for multiple reasons:

  1. The stock UI is pretty functional, relative to other games
  2. Some mods give information (such as XVM player stats) which I think would be depressing or distracting to see. I react to game flow based on what my eyes tell me. I do keep a mental note of good players and good clans (e.g. the top 10 listed on WoTLabs)
  3. It’s a hassle when mods break, especially due to game patches, and I don’t want to become overly dependent on them
  4. It’s not completely clear to me what mods are legal and what are not. If I’m ever accused of hacking or using cheating mods, it’s much easier to simply respond that I’ve never used any mods
  5. Some people in my cross-gaming guild kept insisting that mods were essential, same with gold ammo, and I often like to buck the trend to prove a point. Mods can definitely help, but I believe they’re aren’t needed to play at a Unicum level
  6. Some (formal) formats don’t allow mods. I’ll probably never do tournaments and stuff, but you never know…

That said, there was one mod in particular I believed which would be helpful, and that was the minimap mod with tank names and last-spotted locations, but as of 9.5 those things are now built-in to the game :)

I do use mods in other games, e.g. WoW, WildStar. For the reasons above, I don’t in WoT.

How do you choose your replays?

I chose replays based on the tank lines I’m working on, poll votes from viewers, and comments from viewers.

Let me clearly state that I don’t just upload any random or normal replay.

I intentionally choose replays where there is educational value, in terms of good illustrative gameplay and mistakes that I make. For the most part, the replays are of battles in which there is meaningful challenge, since there isn’t much to learn from a faceroll victory unless you are the one enabling it to happen.

Can you post replays where you are the bottom tier?

Yes, I’ve been doing posting bottom-tier replays since the 5th episode and will continue to do so.

Here are the episodes where I’m bottom tier:

  • Episode 5: T-44 in a Tier 10 Battle
  • Episode 8: ELC AMX in a Tier 8 Battle
  • Episode 13 (not released yet): IS-3 in a Tier 10 Battle

Why don’t you have a purple (60%) Win Rate?

My recent (last 1k battles) WR is ~59%, or 1 percentage point away from Unicum WR.

WR is easily padded via platooning with skilled players, since WR is a reflection of team performance. WN8 is more of a reflection of individual performance.

I’ve probably solopub’d (solo-queued) ~90% of my battles. Even after joining a clan (WANTD/WNTED), I’m still soloing 80+% of the time. It’s not that I don’t like platooning with people – I do – but some nights I hop around various tanks or play tiers other people don’t want or people are playing pref MM.

Unicum WR is 60-64%, Super Uni is 65+%. Those are very difficult WRs to sustain mostly solopubbing, especially with silver ammo only.

I have no doubt that if I platooned regularly with equally-skilled players, my Recent WR would be over 60%.

What crew skills and equipment do you recommend for a given tank?

Watch the first 15 seconds of the video in the garage – that will typically have the recommended and most recent setup that I’m running with for that tank.

Will you make videos of arty gameplay?

No, for two reasons:

  • I enjoy driving tanks as well as operating a gun. Arty is more about the latter than the former. This is not to say it wouldn’t be fun – for me the timing of shell travel over distances would be interesting – but the gameplay wouldn’t be as engaging to me as other tank classes
  • Arty tends to make battles much more campy since players are uncomfortable moving out of arty-safe positions

Aside from sending me stuff through WoT itself (e.g. gifts of gold, premium tanks, etc), here are other options:

  • Donate via PayPal
    Donate via PayPal
  • Shop on Amazon through one of these links: CA | DE | FR | UK | US
    Any purchase you make supports me and won’t impact what you pay

Before you gift me a premium tank (and thanks, that’s very generous of you), please let me know your intention, because I may decline. E.g. I declined a TOG II gift because I couldn’t stomach the snail-like mobility. That said, there are plenty of premium tanks that would be interesting to try, so let me know and we’ll discuss.

Posted in Guide, PVP, Video, World of Tanks

Guide to the ELC AMX in World of Tanks


In this guide, I review the wildly popular ELC AMX, the tier 5 French light tank in World of Tanks (WoT), with replays of a tier 6 Widepark battle and a tier 8 Prokhorovka battle.

The ELC AMX was the first light tank above tier 2 that I played after 8000 battles. Up to that point, I’d primarily played heavies and mediums. After witnessing countless ELC AMX light tank drivers suicide or fail to meaningfully contribute, I decided to give the tank a go.

My conclusion is that the ELC AMX is the most consistently incorrectly played tank in all of WoT :)

Playstyle

Contrary to most light tanks, the ELC AMX thrives when played as a hybrid TD/scout, as opposed to an active scout or a pure passive scout.

The key to success in the ELC AMX is to play to its strengths – vision control, mobility, and the TD-quality gun – while managing its weaknesses – in particular its poor gun handling, extreme fragility, and low view range of 360 meters.

It’s critical to leverage these strengths to create first-shot opportunities, i.e. situations in which you spot the enemy and have sufficient time to aim before they spot you.

Here is the first replay, where these concepts are demonstrated:

The ELC AMX gets scout matchmaking, so even though it is a tier 5 tank it sees tier 6-8 battles.

In tier 8 battles, you face tanks that can 1-shot your tank, so you have to play more carefully as compared to tier 6 battles.

All too often, ELC drivers die early and cripple their team’s spotting capability. I discuss and make two common mistakes in the second replay:

  1. risking exposure to take a shot with the glacial-aiming gun
  2. taking a poor approach line to spot enemy tanks

Crew and Equipment Setup

The recommended crew skills, in order of priority:

  • For the Commander: Sixth Sense, Camouflage, Snap Shot, Brothers in Arms
  • For the Driver: Camouflage, Smooth Ride, Off-Road Driving, Brothers in Arms

Basically the crew skills are selected to maximize vision control and gun handling.

If you have more than 4 skills on each crew member, you disgust me. /envy

The recommended equipment modules:

  • Binoculars: these complement the tank’s ability to camo-snipe
  • Gun Rammer: to reduce the slow reload
  • Gun Laying Drive: to reduce the glacial aim time

Let me know your questions / feedback.

These videos are part of my “Road to Unicum” series in which I share what I’ve learned as I progress towards account Unicum rating (top 0.1%). I talk through how I’m reading the battle as it unfolds and discuss key decisions and mistakes. My hope is that these videos meaningfully help other players improve their gameplay.

Next episode: T-54 vs -G-/PBKAC/BULLS Platoon
Previous episode: T-44 in a Tier 10 Battle

Cheers,
Taugrim

Taugrim's WoT Stats

Posted in Guide, Light Tank, PVP, Video, World of Tanks

“Road to Unicum” Episode 5: T-44 in a Tier 10 Battle (WoT)


In this episode, I discuss how to meaningfully contribute as a bottom-tier medium tank in World of Tanks (WoT), with footage from a tier 10 Serene Coast battle in my T-44.

As a bottom-tier tank, I have to respect the advantages of higher-tier opponents, who have more HP, stronger armor, higher alpha damage, better DPM, and superior vision control.

That said, even with a low penetration gun, by carefully watching the minimap and being opportunistic, I was able to make a solid contribution.

Additional comments:

  1. props to the STB-1 driver (ahmechanic2) who played very well throughout the battle
  2. at 4:23, the JPE100 driver (andrewb610) made the right call to flex east and delay their tanks on that side, which bought time for us to crush their forces north and west
  3. I nearly got wrecked at the 7:30 mark while typing a thank you to the STB-1. I have a tendency to be chatty during matches, and sometimes it screws me up. LOL

Feedback from [BULBA] CrackerBInebriated:

One thing I did see as a mistake was how you didn’t even attempt to engage the conqueror after he killed your IS3 at the cap. I know it has a quick reload, but you had a good side shot and time to escape after he had fired and needed to reload

I didn’t address that in the video but in real-time I realized I had made a mistake.

The mistake is that when I started pulling back, I stayed too close to the rocks on my left – as a result I a created a bigger gun depression challenge in terms of getting my gun down on the target. You can see that I start wiggling just to the right of the rock a bit, but realized I was taking too much time and lost the opportunity.

This video is part of my “Road to Unicum” series in which I share what I’ve learned as I progress towards account Unicum rating (top 0.1%). I talk through how I’m reading the battle as it unfolds and discuss key decisions and mistakes. My hope is that these videos meaningfully help other players improve their gameplay.

Next episodes: ELC AMX Replays
Previous episode: T-44 Review, Holding the High Ground

I’m planning two ELC AMX videos – one of a tier 6 battle and another of a tier 8 battle – to show how to play the tank in different situations. It’s such a unique tank!

Cheers,
Taugrim

Taugrim's WoT Stats

 

Posted in Guide, Medium Tank, PVP, Video, World of Tanks

“Road to Unicum” Episode 4: T-44, Holding the High Ground (WoT)


In this episode, I review the T-44, a tier 8 Russian medium tank in World of Tanks (WoT).

I also discuss the value of high ground – an age-old principle of warfare that holds true in WoT on some maps – with footage of my T44 in a Mines battle.

Holding the high ground provides the following benefits:

  1. you have opportunities to take flanking shots on enemies below you, because they are preoccupied with tanks in front of them
  2. you can cover different sides of the map with minimal repositioning
  3. you control the extent of your tank’s exposure

In addition, I talk about the importance of being active – that is, playing smartly aggressive – as opposed to being passive / campy and letting the battle outcome be determined without you.

This video is part of my “Road to Unicum” series in which I share what I’ve learned as I progress towards account Unicum rating (top 0.1%). I talk through how I’m reading the battle as it unfolds and discuss key decisions and mistakes. My hope is that these videos meaningfully help other players improve their gameplay.

Next episode: T-44 in a Tier 10 Battle
Previous episodes: Reviews of E50, E50M, and T-34-85

After the next T-44 video, I’m planning two ELC AMX videos – one of a tier 6 battle and another of a tier 8 battle – to show how to play the tank in different situations. It’s such a unique tank!

Cheers,
Taugrim

Taugrim's WoT Stats

Posted in Guide, Medium Tank, PVP, Video, World of Tanks

Review: Red vs Brown Cherry MX Switches, Red vs Blue O-Rings


About 6 months ago, I bought my first mechanical keyboard, the CM Storm QuickFire Rapid with Cherry MX Red switches. As I wrote in my review, the keyboard worked great for gaming.

A short while later, I read an article that strongly recommended Brown switches for gaming. I wondered whether I’d made the wrong decision in choosing Red over Brown, given that I hadn’t tried either prior to purchasing the keyboard.

Given that I care about my gaming performance, I decided to conduct hands-on testing of Red and Brown Cherry MX switches to better understand the experience of using them and determine which worked better for me. I also wanted to test the switches with and without Red and Blue O-rings.

Therefore, I tested the following products:

The Keyboards

I went to a local store to pickup a CM Storm keyboard with Brown switches. They didn’t carry the older QuickFire Rapid model. They did stock the newer QuickFire Stealth model, which is largely the same keyboard with minor cosmetic differences, so I purchased a Stealth keyboard with Brown switches.

As you can see from the following picture, the structural design of the two keyboards is very similar.

CM Storm keyboards

QuickFire Rapid with Red switches (top), QuickFire Stealth with Brown switches (bottom)

Comparing the Switches

The following animated visuals (created by lethalsquirrel on geekhack, aka dacasman on YouTube) describe how the switches operate:

Cherry MX Red Switch AnimationCherry MX Brown Switch Animation

Some gamers rave about the tactile bumps in the Brown switches. Theoretically, tactile bumps sound like a great idea, since they provide feedback when a key is pressed.

However, I believe there’s a fundamental design flaw in the Cherry MX switches: there is too much total travel distance in the switch relative to the actuation point, which is where the keystroke is registered. The switch registers the keystroke partway into the keypress, and the remaining keypress travel is functionally pointless since nothing happens aside from bottoming out. According to Cherry Corp., their MX switches register a keystroke at 2mm, then bottom out after another 2mm, but it feels like the switch registers earlier than the halfway point in the keypress.

Cherry MX Brown Actuation Bump

Actuation point shown for a Cherry MX switch. Note that the tactile bump is placed before the actuation point. This image is of the Stealth keyboard with Brown switches, but AFAIK the actuation point is the same across switch colors.

There is a critical implication here, because the tactile bump for a Brown switch is placed before the actuation point, which means the bump happens even before you’ve pressed the key halfway. Moreover, it takes a low amount of force to push past the tactile bump and the bump is very subtle. I spent several days trying to lighten and shorten my keypressing to adjust to the tactile bump of Brown switches, but even after practicing, I consistently pressed keys well past the tactile bump.

If the tactile bump were more noticeable and if the actuation point and the tactile bump were further into the keypress, I think Brown switches would work much better.

One complaint I’ve read about Red switches is that they activate too easily, given that they have no bump and low actuation force, and this leads to false keystrokes. After testing both Brown switches and Red switches extensively, by playing the same games and typing the same copy over and over, for me this was not an issue.

My conclusion: the tactile bump in the Brown switches didn’t provide meaningful value, due to its early placement in the keypress and how subtle the bump is.

I prefer Red switches over Brown as they provide a much more fluid feel.

Comparing the O-Rings

WASD Keyboards was kind enough to send me two sets of O-rings to test with.

WASD Keyboards O-Rings

In a nutshell, the Blue O-rings are thicker than the Red ones (0.4mm vs 0.2mm).

O-rings offer several practical benefits:

  1. They reduce noise significantly
  2. They provide cushion when you bottom-out
  3. They reduce travel distance (more on this below)

It was trivial installing the O-rings. Each O-ring has a natural tendency to roll one way or the other, so you want to keep that in mind when rolling an O-ring onto a key.

O-Ring Installation

The following photo gives you an idea of the relative travel distance of switches with Red and Blue O-rings:

Side-by-side: Red O-ring, Blue O-ring, No O-ring

Keys fully depressed, with and without O-rings. That is, the image shows keys pressed until they bottom out.

If you look at the right-most panel, you can see that the travel distance with a Blue O-ring is slightly shorter than a Red O-ring, which is what we’d expect given that Red O-rings reduce travel by 0.2mm and Blue O-rings reduce travel by 0.4mm.

So which O-ring color is better?

Some gamers say that the Blue O-rings ruin the feel of the keypress, especially for Brown switches. I disagree. As I mentioned earlier, the actuation point for Cherry MX switches is halfway into the keypress – regardless of switch color – so you have lots of meaningless travel until the key bottoms out. By installing an O-ring, you reduce that wasteful travel distance. In the case of Brown switches, the tactile bump occurs before the actuation point and therefore well ahead of bottoming out even with Blue O-rings.

My conclusion: Cherry MX switches work meaningfully better with O-rings, and Blue O-rings provide more cushion and reduce more wasteful travel as compared to Red O-rings.

Final Thoughts

I kept the keyboard with Red switches (CM Storm QuickFire Rapid keyboard) and Blue O-rings (manufactured by WASD Keyboards). Almost half a year has passed, and this setup has worked extremely well for gaming and typing. My fingers don’t get fatigued, the noise level is acceptable, and the keys feel very responsive.

It was definitely worthwhile to do the hands-on testing, because if I had simply listened to what others had written, I’d have made the wrong selection of colors for both the Cherry MX switches and the O-rings.

From the reviews and forums I’ve read, the CM Storm QuickFire keyboard is the best-value mechanical Cherry MX keyboard on the market, especially with a price point of under $100 USD. I highly recommend it based on my experience.

If you’ve tested different switch colors and different O-ring colors, I’d love to hear your take on them.

UPDATE (2015/01/04): based on this thread in the MechanicalKeyboards sub-Reddit, it looks like I’m not alone in the opinion that Brown switches are overrated.

Posted in Product Review
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