ArenaNet Executes a Deft Recovery for Heart of Thorns With F2P and Raid Annoucements

ArenaNet (AN) just executed one of the most deft and savvy recoveries I’ve seen in addressing player angst about an upcoming expansion.

In January, AN announced the Heart of Thorns (HoT) expansion for Guild Wars 2 (GW2). There was much rejoicing.

In June, AN announced that HoT would cost the same to purchase for existing players and for new players. There was much outrage – check out the Reddit thread Don’t Pre-Purchase Heart of Thorns. The GW2 community understandably felt unappreciated for their loyalty.

AN found an elegant solution to address the feedback as announced yesterday:

  • The core game, which is the content not including the HoT expansion, is now free-to-play (F2P) for everyone. F2P accounts will be limited in their functionality, but it sounds like it will be a good way for customers to “try before they buy”
  • Careful controls have been designed to prevent abuse by F2P players. As we’ve seen in other F2P games, gold spammers and trolls love to abuse F2P accounts
  • Any player – new or existing – who want to experience the HoT expansion and enjoy the full game experience can pay $50 USD

This is brilliant, because it balances:

  • The ability for a game to attract new players (customer acquisition)
  • The ability for a game to retain existing players (customer retention)

As I wrote recently when Carbine announced WildStar was transitioning to F2P, the vast majority of game developers are simply kidding themselves in this market if they try to launch a game with a subscription (aka pay-to-play or P2P) or as buy-to-play (B2P). The only MMORPGs that could be launched as B2P are those with deeply established IPs, e.g. Guild Wars or Final Fantasy.

That being said, once you’re 3 years into the life of a game, the vast majority of the fans of an IP (whether it’s GW, FF, Star Wars, etc) and/or early MMORPG adopters have already purchased GW2 or made the decision not to try it because of the purchase cost. Part of the value of B2P for the developer is that the purchase price helps to recoup the costs to launch (in this case, many tens of millions $USD), and it provides an ongoing revenue stream. The question about the latter is whether a developer would be better off simply making the game F2P and attracting a broader player base. My belief is that the answer is yes – for a game to sustainably maintain or grow its player base, F2P in this market is a necessity. With the advent of the F2P model, AN can finally attract a much wider pool of potential players.

On top of the F2P announcement, AN also announced that HoT will introduce raids.

GW2 raids will be 10-person content.

GW2 raids will be 10-person content.

Raids of 10 players is the perfect choice for several reasons:

  • It’s double the size of the current dungeon content
  • It’s just big enough to provide an epic experience and provide enough complexity
  • It’s small enough that small-to-medium sized guilds should be able to run raids. Large guilds can form multiple raid groups

For those of you who have nostalgia for the old days of 40-person raids, I believe those days long gone. They simply require way too much work on the part of guilds to sustainably run, and for the developer it’s challenging to devise boss fights and mechanics that work smoothly for raids of such scale.

Kudos to AN for thoughtfully solving for the feedback from the community.

Posted in Business Analysis, Game Design, Guild Wars 2, PVE

Tank Reviews and Gameplay in Early Access for Armored Warfare

I’m participating in the Early Access for the upcoming tanktical MMO shooter game Armored Warefare (AW).

AW’s developer, Obsidian Entertainment, has taken the savvy approach of creating a better version of World of Tanks (WoT). In particular, AW is looking to address 3 problem areas in WoT:

  1. RNG
  2. Gold ammo
  3. Arty implementation

The community has picked up on this as discussed in a thread in the WoT sub-Reddit today.

Obsidian’s approach is very different compared to what Gaijin did with War Thunder (WT). I skipped WT completely, because I was not convinced that WT would be a better game than WoT because it was seeking to differentiate itself in areas that didn’t need improvement or weren’t issues.

Early Access for AW in NA is $15 USD, which is a very reasonable fee, at least compared to a lot of other games where you have to pay $60+ to be a willing alpha/beta tester. AW is definitely worth a look.

In this article, I’m posting a series of videos covering AW in Early Access / Beta. Given that I’m a WoT veteran, in these AW videos I’ll discuss the similarities and differences in the mechanics of WoT and AW.

If you’re playing AW, I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially how it stacks up to WoT.

Early Access #1: First Impression, M113 Gameplay

In this video, I play my first battle in the M113, one of the two starter tanks in Early Access, on the Port Storm map. I finish with 5 kills and 6th in damage in a very narrow victory – only 14 HP separated the two sides.

The M113 is a mobile tank with a high-DPM / low-penetration autocannon. I didn’t realize it when I played my first battle in the M113, but it’s an AFV (Armored Fighting Vehicle) and therefore a scout in AW.

To be clear, I have no intention of quitting WoT: I’m still enjoying it, WoT scratches the itch for me of a high skill cap PVP game, and I’m within spitting distance of Unicum (top 1%) for my account with silver ammo only.

Posted in Armored Warfare, Game Design, Guide, PVP, Video, World of Tanks

WildStar (Finally) Going F2P

Two notable MMORPGs launched in 2014 with subscription models: Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) and WildStar. Four months ago, Bethesda Softworks announced that ESO was going B2P (buy-to-play). Today, Carbine announced that WildStar is going F2P (free-to-play).

For whatever reason, game developers have been painfully slow on the uptake that gamers do not like subscription MMORPGs. The only sub-based MMORPG that has been able to maintain a meaningful playerbase is World of Warcraft (WoW).

WoW is in the unique position of having a huge amount of polished content and a huge community, which are barriers to exit for existing players. That is, players have invested so much into WoW and their characters / guilds / community that they stick around, even though that requires a subscription. As I’ve said previously, even Blizzard would struggle to replicate the success of WoW in a new subscription-based MMO, and Blizzard has pursued non-subscription models for their recent new releases.

Customer expectations have shifted. Gone are the days where subscriptions were the norm, and the question for gamers wasn’t whether they had to pay, but rather which MMOs they wanted to play and therefore had to pay for via a subscription. In today’s environment, a subscription fee is a monthly reminder to a paying customer to question where the product is providing sufficient value. Moreover, the perception that F2P games are inferior quality has diminished over time. This isn’t to say that there aren’t poor F2P implementations out there – there most certainly are – but over time developers are figuring out F2P systems that work for non-paying and paying customers.

The online gaming community has the reputation of being fickle, and gamers will not continue to pay a subscription if they perceive any or multiple of the following to be true:

  1. The game is not meeting their (pre-launch) expectations
  2. The game is buggy / not polished
  3. There isn’t a critical mass of their friends or other players in the game – the world feels lonely. This was the reason I unsubbed from WildStar
  4. There’s a shiny new game coming out soon
  5. They’ve already experienced the content and are bored

About that last point, subscription-based MMORPGs have an inherent flaw in the business model: the cost and time it takes to produce new content are always going to be meaningfully higher than the amount of time it takes for players to consume this content, and gamers have the expectation that they’ll receive a steady stream of new content with their subscription. Developers have contributed to setting this expectation, e.g. here is what WildStar’s Executive Produer Jeremy Gaffney said (bold emphasis mine):

“There’s two major options to play,” he said. “One is super simple: buy a box, and pay a subscription. There’s a class of player that likes that, because they know how much they’re paying, they know the playing field is level, and they can expect big updates. That’s the joy of the subscription model.”

On top of this, Gaffney set the expectation that the cadence of patches would be monthly. Later, Carbine shifted to a quarterly schedule.

Simply put, pushing out polished new content on a regular cadence is very challenging. Therefore for years I’ve stated that developers need to develop highly-engaging replayable content – players don’t necessarily need a big world, but they need a world that’s fun to play in, even if it’s small. Think about MOBAs – players play in the same maps / scenarios over and over, and the content is simply the champions or heroes that they can choose to play. Or think about Minecraft, where the developer created the context but the players shape and define the world. Another good example of replayable content is WvW in GW2. Many gamers would love to have a huge, dynamic world to play in – I would too! – but the economic reality is that isn’t sustainable for developers.

The other flaw with subscription-based games, which Mike Donatelli acknowledged to PC Gamer, is that it creates a significant barrier to entry. I do believe that B2P (buy-to-play) games are a nice balance for the developer and the gamer to help the developer recoup their pre-launch investment, but B2P games are only viable for well-established IPs such as Guild Wars or Elder Scrolls. So for any new IP (e.g. WildStar), there really isn’t any model to consider aside from F2P. The question then becomes how to implement a F2P system that creates a sticky, non-onerous experience for non-paying customers but incents players to spend real money. Wargaming has done a tremendous job with their F2P system in World of Tanks (WoT), and WoT has one of the highest ARPU for F2P games.

Hopefully 2015 is the last year that we’ll hear of new MMOs with subscription models, which is still 4 years too late.

EDIT #1 (2015/05/28): some folks are pointing out that FFXIV is subscription-based. Yes, that is true, but remember, Final Fantasy is an IP that is almost 3 decades old. You can charge a sub when you have a very established IP because you have an existing large fan base. IMO a new game without a well-established IP will flop if it launches with a subscription model.

EDIT #2 (2015/05/29): so y’all understand, I am 100% fine with paying a subscription. Happy to do so. The problem is, a lot of people aren’t, and when those people leave in sufficient numbers, the game world feels empty, and that inevitably impacts me.

The thing I really care about is that games succeed, because that will drive further investment into new games, which means more choices for us as consumers/gamers. The reality is that subscriptions don’t work in today’s market for the majority of cases. I’m not anti-sub, but I am most definitely anti-game-fail, and my fear starting back in 2010 is that investment will shift from richly-complex PC games to superficial tablet and mobile games the more that PC-based MMOs flop. Over 3 years ago I wrote that business models for MMORPGs must evolve. The industry has been slow to realize this.

Posted in Elder Scrolls Online, Game Design, Guild Wars 2, WildStar, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft

Sometimes Games Do Evolve For The Better (Guild Wars 2)

In February, I was pretty burned out from World of Tanks (WoT) and decided to take a look at Guild Wars 2 (GW2), which I hadn’t meaningfully played since 2013. Most of my 2014 gaming time was spent on WildStar (WS) and WoT.

Why I stopped playing GW2 back in 2013

The following things collectively made GW2 unattractive to me:

  1. I believed Ascended gear was not aligned with pre-launch expectations from ArenaNet (AN) regarding progression
  2. To make matters worse, the acquisition of Ascended gear was extremely grindy. I despised the random daily quests – they were a tedious waste of 30 minutes of my valuable time – and each gear piece was for a particular stats mix for a particular character (soulbound). The Ascended gear system was a disincentive for me to commit time to alts, and alts are fun
  3. There were aspects of the UI that I found irritating, e.g. how small the boon and buff icons are
  4. The combat mechanics in WS looked much more attractive to me. I love aim-based action combat, because it’s engaging and requires skill

Upon picking up GW2 again in 2015, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a lot of the things I disliked had been meaningfully addressed, and that other quality-of-life improvements had been implemented. It’s worth mentioning the value of the GW2’s B2P monetization system – it cost me nothing aside from disk space to patch up to the current version of GW2 and play again.

Improvement #1: Ascended and Legendary gear changed from soulbound to account bound

Legendary / Ascended gear account bound

Account bound > Soulbound

This was outlined in the March 2014 news article on the GW2 site.

The implications of course are massive. E.g. instead of having to farm Berserker Ascended gear for each of your characters, you could farm 1 set of Berserker jewelry and share them across characters, and to the extent your characters share the same weapons and armor, they can share those too.

Soulbound systems create a context where you have to do the same amount of work for each character, and this makes playing alts less attractive, which in turn I believe makes a game less sticky. Players love their alts.

Also, players who have more characters have more protection from class-specific nerfs and changes to the meta, and they are therefore less likely to leave a game when a particular class is nerfed. So I believe that for high-end endgame gear, having that gear be account bound makes a game more sticky for players.

Improvement #2: Daily laurel quests changed to login quests

This was a brilliant move by AN and synergizes with the previous improvement. You just need to login each day to get your daily credit, and I think AN has realized that if you login you might actually play that day. It certainly worked on me.

I utterly despised the previous system of random and completely unchallenging daily quests to earn laurels. Some gamers have the mentality that you should just have to do your dailies and suck it up, but that’s so not-fun for someone like me and is a perspective of the older gaming crowd (I’m looking at you, hard-working Gen X’ers).

Improvement #3: Dyes and skins changed from soulbound to account bound

Some folks don’t care about cosmetics, but I enjoying dialing in the look of each character. E.g. here is my 80 Guardian, with skins that were unlocked from my Warrior:

80 Guardian with badass-looking gear

My Guardian sporting a classic plate armor look, a la the movie Excalibur

Improvement #4: Megaserver

There’s nothing more depressing than playing in sparsely-populated zones. AN implemented megaserver technology, and the level 80 world zones consistently have the critical mass for events.

Karka Queen zerg

Events such as the Karka Queen draw mass participation

Improvement #5: Structured PVP contributes to progression

This one is self-explanatory. I actually stopped sPvP pretty much cold turkey after the first 6 weeks of launch, because I wasn’t leveling my characters to 80. Oddly, I haven’t gone back, but I think I got burned out by the PVP.

Improvement #6: New level 80 zones are fun

Dry Top and The Silverwastes provide popular farming zones. I like the design of The Silverwastes, which is a PVE version of WvW.

All these improvements aside, after two months of playing GW2, in which I geared my 80 Elementalist with some Celestial Exotic gear, leveled a Guardian to 80, and geared my Guardian with a mix of Exotic and Ascended Berserker gear, I’ve decided to put GW2 back on the shelf. I want a different combat experience than what GW2 offers – that is, issues #3 and #4 listed above are still issues. Beyond that, the game continues to be very pigeon-holed in terms of the meta. For multiple classes, Berserker is still the way to go, and that limits functional choice.

Nonetheless, I may come back to GW2 for the Heart of Thorns (HoT) paid expansion, given that once you pay, it’s free to play.

Beyond GW2, in the MMORPG landscape I’ve heard encouraging things about Camelot Unchained, and I look forward to trying it out.

In the meanwhile, I’ve picked WoT back up again and really enjoying it, and I just paid for early access for Armored Warfare, a game is a mashup of WoT’s tank-based combat and the smaller battles common in MOBAs.

What are you playing these days, and what do you think of the evolution of GW2?

EDIT (2015/05/14): I forgot to mention that I also gave SMITE a try in February. Many of you had recommended it to me as a MOBA that I might like, given that it has aim-based mechanics.

SMITE was more engaging than League of Legends (LoL), but I’ve come to realize that the whole meta of selecting heroes and upgrades as counterplay isn’t something that I’m particularly interested in, because in many cases there is a right upgrade path or two and a lot of suboptimal ones, in which case there effectively isn’t a choice to be made. I shelved SMITE after trying it for a couple nights and haven’t been sufficiently interested enough to play it again.

Posted in Game Design, Guild Wars 2, PVE, PVP

Taugrim’s “Road to Unicum” Tank Reviews and Guides for World of Tanks

When I read the official World of Tanks (WoT) 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 learned as I progressed towards account Unicum rating (top 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.

When I started these videos, here were my WN8 stats:

Taugrim's WN8 stats @ 10199 battles

I reached Unicum WN8 rating for my account just before 13.2k battles:

Taugrim's Stats @ 13195 Battles

For full disclosure, I am a paying customer of WoT – that is, I do spend money to purchase gold, which is used for the following: premium subscription, training/reskilling crew members, converting tank-specific XP to Free XP so that I don’t have to play tanks stock, and buying permanent camouflage. These things do definitely improve one’s stats. That said, I have at times played without a premium subscription, and in many cases when I use Free XP, I use it to skip low tier tanks and to unlock the first functional gun of a new tank, then I grind out the remaining modules for that tank. Also, sometimes I use silver to pay for camoflague and crew training/reskilling.

See the FAQs for more context about the videos.

To be notified when new episodes are published, you can subscribe to the comments of this article or on subscribe to my YouTube channel.


  1. E50 Review, Flexing to a Collapsing Flank
  2. E50M Review, Covering a Flank Solo
  3. T-34-85 Review, Mid Control in Fisherman’s Bay
  4. T-44 Review, Holding the High Ground
  5. T-44 in a Tier 10 Battle
  6. ELC AMX Review, First-Shot Opportunities
  7. ELC AMX in a Tier 8 Battle Review, Common Mistakes
  8. T-54 vs -G-/PBKAC/BULLS Platoon
  9. T-54 Review, Managing Gun Depression / Flanking Maneuvers
  10. E75 Review, Hull Angling Without Hard Cover
  11. IS Review, Timing Enemy Reloads
  12. IS-3 Review, Patience in a Tight Spot
  13. IS-3 in Tier 10 Battles
  14. Trolling E100’s in Your T-62A / Object 140
  15. IS-8 Review, Heavy Medium – I Don’t Think So
  16. Cromwell Review, Middle Road Control in Lakeville
  17. T-62A Review, Spotting Hill in Prokhorovka
  18. T29 Review, Hull-Down King
  19. T32 Review, 5k Damage Blocked FTW
  20. M103 Review, Recovering From a Poor Start
  21. M103 Gameplay, Creating Isolations When Outnumbered
  22. T110E5 Review, 9.7k Damage and 9 Kills
  23. AMX 13 90 Review, Completing LT-15 in Prokhorovka / Fiery Salient
  24. AMX 12t Review, Getting to 3 Marks of Excellence
  25. AMX 13 90 with 9.3k Contribution in Tier 10 Malinovka
  26. Chaffee Review, 2688 XP Carry in Tier 8 Malinovka

Episode #1: E50 Review, Flexing to a Collapsing Flank

I review the exceptional E-50, the tier 9 German medium tank in the E50M line.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 5.5k damage, 3 kills, 2 spots, 1.2k assisted damage

The E50 has a highly accurate gun, and the solid hull armor can be angled to deflect incoming fire. I discuss the importance of flexing to prevent a flank from collapsing and the arguments against capping too early instead of pressing an advantage.

Episode #2: E50M Review, Covering a Flank Solo

I review the E50M, the beefier of the two tier 10 German medium tanks.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 5.2k damage, 2 kills, 2 spots, 2k assisted damage

I discuss the weighty responsibility of holding a flank solo, knowing when and where to push, and considerations when flanking the enemy near their base.

Episode #3: T-34-85 Review, Mid Control in Fisherman’s Bay

I review the T-34-85, the underrated tier 6 Russian medium tank that leads up to the T-44.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 2.6k damage, 4 kills, 2 spots

I discuss tactics for controlling the middle lanes (E/F) of Fisherman’s Bay and how to balance exposure with inflicting damage. The value of mid control can’t be overemphasized – it provides spotting opportunities, many firing lanes, and the ability to flex to either flank when needed, which is particularly important when playing a mobile medium tank.

Episode #4: T-44 Review, Holding the High Ground

I review the T-44, a tier 8 Russian medium tank.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 3.6k damage, 3 kills, 8 spots

I 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.

Episode #5: T-44 in a Tier 10 Battle

I discuss how to meaningfully contribute as a bottom-tier medium tank, with footage from a tier 10 Serene Coast battle in my T-44.

Stat line: 1st Class, 2.5k damage, 5 kills

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.

Episode #6: ELC AMX Review, First-Shot Opportunities

I review the wildly popular ELC AMX, the tier 5 French light tank, with a replay of a tier 6 Widepark battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 2.2k damage, 8 kills, 7 spots, 0.8k assisted damage

I discuss how to play to the strengths of the ELC AMX – 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.

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 :)

You can learn more about playing the ELC AMX in my detailed guide.

Episode #7: ELC AMX in a Tier 8 Battle Review, Common Mistakes

We take a second look at the ELC AMX with a replay of a tier 8 Prokhorovka battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 1.3k damage, 2 kills, 4 spots, 2.8k assisted damage

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

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

I have to manage with less than 30 HP for most of the battle as a result of the first mistake!

Episode #8: T-54 vs -G-/PBKAC/BULLS Platoon

I review the highly-regarded T-54, a Soviet tier 9 medium tank, with a replay of a tier 10 Mines battle.

Stat line: 1st Class, 4.7k damage, 4 kills, 1 spot

The top-tier enemy platoon consists of elite players from -G-, PBKAC, and BULLS, so I discuss countering such dangerous opponents by anticipating where they’re going and beating them to the punch with area denial, then burning down their pubbies.

I also demonstrate how to leverage the terrain on hill to safely fire on target(s) while minimizing exposure to snipers in their base.

Episode #9: T-54 Review, Managing Gun Depression / Flanking Maneuvers

We take a second look at the T-54, with a replay of a tier 9 Sand River battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 6.2k damage, 6 kills, 2 spots, 1.5k assisted damage

Key Points

1. for the T-54, you don’t need to unlock the suspension to mount all upgraded modules and all 3 equipment pieces.

Therefore, the upgrade path I recommend is 2nd turret → top gun → 2nd engine → suspension.

2. in a map that has a lot of hills / ridgelines such as Sand River, you need to carefully manage the T-54’s poor gun depression.

The T-54 thrives in flatland and does better aiming up at targets. You want to avoid situations where you have to crest a hill to fire on a target that is already pre-aiming at you.

3. you can distract enemy tanks by flanking them, which creates opportunities for your allies to safely fire on those enemies as they rotate their turret / hull to face you.

The T-54 is far and away the best flanking tank I’ve played.

Episode #10: E75 Review, Hull Angling Without Hard Cover

I review the E75, a tier 9 German heavy tank, with a replay of a tier 9 Murovanka battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 6.2k damage, 6 kills, 3 spots, 2.2k assisted damage

In the previous 9 episodes, we focused on medium and light tank gameplay. Today, I discuss the responsibility of playing a beefy top-tier heavy, in terms of acting as a meat shield and playing aggressively, especially when your team is behind.

The E-75 has a fantastic armor layout that enables you to bounce a lot of incoming shots with proper angling. I demonstrate the optimal angle for the hull of the E-75 to protect the vulnerable Lower Front Glacis (LFG) while not over-exposing the thick 120mm side hull armor, especially when in the open ground where there is no hard cover. In the replay, I bounce all but 2 non-arty shots, and both times my tank was penetrated it was due to poor hull angling on my part.

Episode #11: IS Review, Timing Enemy Reloads

I review the IS, a tier 7 Soviet heavy tank, with a replay of a tier 7 Mountain Pass battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 4.8k damage, 7 kills

Key Points

  1. due to the long 2.87 sec aim time and 10.38 sec reload time (with 100% crew and equipment), it’s critical to keep track of enemy reload timers, so that when brawling you have time to aim sufficiently while minimizing risk
  2. the side armor of 90mm is very thick for the tier, so you can angle your hull to increase the effective armor of your front hull without compromising your side armor
  3. you don’t need to unlock the suspension to mount all upgraded modules and all 3 equipment pieces.

Therefore, the upgrade path I recommend is 2nd turret → top gun → 2nd engine → suspension.

Episode #12: IS-3 Review, Patience in a Tight Spot

I review the IS-3, a tier 8 Soviet heavy tank, with a replay of a tier 9 Highway battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 4.5k damage, 3 kills, 3 spots

Key Points

  1. when this video was made the lower front glacis (LFG) was very thick at ~245mm. The LFG was nerfed in 9.8 to ~200mm, but that’s still solid and the buff to the pikenose more than makes up for it
  2. due to the weakness of the pikenose in close quarters and the incredibly soft turret roof, be aware that the IS-3 is easy-to-penetrate when face-hugging or in point-blank exchanges
  3. when this video was made the lower front glacis (LFG) was very thick at ~245mm. The LFG was nerfed in 9.8 to ~200mm, but that’s still solid and the buff to the pikenose more than makes up for it
  4. patience in a tight situation is key. When I was surrounded on 3 sides, I stalled to buy time for our light tanks to flank the tanks in city and bail me out
  5. I rushed the kill shot on the 7/1. I should have waited a quarter-second for his side hull to be exposed, given that he wasn’t aiming at me
  6. the T37 driver (1134eastlaw) provided a great example of the power of a light tnk in endgame situations

Feedback From Viewers

Many commenters disagree with me re: sidescraping. They feel that sidescraping on the IS-3 makes sense.

I can see doing that to bait shots into the side armor, so you can then expose your near-side pikenose safely while taking a free shot.


  • 4:18 – what I meant here is that the IS-3 (not IS- and many tier 8 heavy tanks have very functional penetration values (e.g. 225+). There are exceptions of course, e.g. the T32 with 198

Episode #13: IS-3 in Tier 10 Battles

I discuss how to meaningfully contribute when you’re in tier 10 battles in a tier 8 IS-3 heavy tank, with footage from two Serene Coast battles.

Stat line: over 3.1k damage in both battles

Comments / Errata

  1. the silver penetration for the IS-3 is 225 not 226
  2. the rear of the E100 turret is ~160mm effective armor, regardless whether you hit the hatch or not

Episode #14: Trolling E100’s in Your T-62A / Object 140

I demonstrate how to troll big, tall, and slow turreted tanks in a Russian medium tank in World of Tanks (WoT), with footage of my T-62A facing E-100’s.

This works not only in the T62A but also tanks with a low profile and solid turret, such as the Object 140 and T-54.The key thing is to time your approach based on either when your target just fired or is facing the other direction, and to use the target as a shield to protect you from other enemy tanks while you whittle the target away.


Episode #15: IS-8 Review, Heavy Medium – I Don’t Think So

I review the IS-8, a tier 9 Soviet heavy tank, with a replay of a tier 10 Ensk battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 4.9k damage, 2 kills, 2 spots, 1k assisted damage

My team blows a 7-3 lead by not coordinating against an isolated E-100 who carries the opposing team.

Of all tanks from tier 5 to 10 in the IS-7 line, the IS-8 feels the most awkward, whereas the other tanks are good to great.

Strengths and Weaknesses

+ good gun penetration (258)
+ good gun alpha (440)
+ strong turret
+ good top speed
+ trolly side armor
– pikenose armor is weak, won’t reliably bounce shots against players who aim properly
– large, soft lower front glacis
– poor max gun depression (-5 degrees)
– longish aim time
– not particularly agile

Episode #16: Cromwell Review, Middle Road Control in Lakeville

I review the Cromwell, a tier 6 British medium tank, with a replay of a tier 7 Lakeville battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 2.6k damage, 5 kills, 2 spots

My side wins 3v7 with vision control, use of hard cover, and wrecking isolated tanks.

Strengths and Weaknesses

+ great top speed
+ great acceleration / agility
+ good DPM
+ good gun depression
– paper armor
– gun bloom

Comments / Errata

  1. to be clear, gun bloom is a separate concern from gun accuracy (0.36 for the Cromwell). The shot on the St Emil @1:40 missed due to inaccuracy, not gun bloom, given that I had the time to fully aim. That said, bloom elongates the time to aim
  2. the enemy Wolverine made a critical mistake late of pushing up valley without support – he isolated himself and got bullied by our Panther. Be wary of isolating yourself unless you are confident you will win any 1v1s
  3. per the WoT Wiki: “Once spotted, a vehicle stays lit up for a minimum duration of 5 seconds which can extend up to 10 seconds after the spotter moves out of spotting range or gets destroyed” – so 5-10 seconds, not the 6-8 I mentioned in the video

Episode #17: T-62A Review, Spotting Hill in Prokhorovka

I review the T-62A, a tier 10 Soviet medium tank, with a replay of a Prokhorovka battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 4.6k damage, 4 kills, 3 spots, 2.9k assisted damage

I also discuss how to safely spot hill from the north spawn, taking into account flanking fire from enemy tanks in the middle of the map (F5-F6). With the recent changes to view range, the T62A is even stronger now at vision control. The tactics in the video apply to the Fiery Salient variant of the same map.

Strengths and Weaknesses

+ excellent mobility (speed, acceleration, agility)
+ high DPM
+ titanium turret
+ good vision contol
– only -5 degrees of gun depression
– low alpha damage (320)

Episode #18: T29 Review, Hull-Down King

I review the T29, a tier 7 American heavy tank, with a replay of a tier 8 Erlenberg battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 4.1k damage, 4 kills

With its awesome hull-down capability, the T29 is one of the strongest heavies at-tier in the game. I found it to be very comfortable to play and enjoyed driving it. On paper the HP (1250) seems low, but the hull-down capability makes that a non-issue.

Strengths and Weaknesses

+ superb turret
+ superb max gun depression (-10)
+ excellent silver penetration (198)
+ excellent aim time (2.3 sec)
+ good alpha (320)
+ good speed
– relatively weak hull armor
– slow hull traverse / turns sluggishly
– slow reverse speed, which can be problematic versus arty

Research Order

Assuming you have the 90mm gun from the M6 tank and want to mount 3 pieces of equipment (VS, Rammer, Vents/Optics) immediately, here’s the recommended research order:

  1. Tracks (required for 105mm gun)
  2. 105mm gun
  3. Turret
  4. Engine #2
  5. Engine #3
  6. Radio (optional)


@5:51: I meant the tier 7 IS not the tier 10 IS-7

Episode #19: T32 Review, 5k Damage Blocked FTW

I review the T32, a tier 8 American heavy tank, with a replay of a tier 8 El Halluf battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 4.2k damage, 1.1k assisted damage, 2 kills, 5k blocked damage

In this battle, we have to overcome two notable issues:
1. the other team is stacked with tanks that can hull-down effectively, which is critical for the fighting in the northwest corner of this map
2. over half of my team is camping east or pushing south, leaving us thin northwest

For meaningful stretches of the battle, I’m able to hold my ground against multiple enemy tanks by using terrain and playing hull-down, and this enables us to overcome being outnumbered northwest.

Strengths and Weaknesses

+ one of the strongest turrets at-tier in the game
+ superb max gun depression (-10)
+ excellent aim time (2.3 sec)
+ excellent gold round (ACPR with 245mm pen)
+ good front hull armor, which can be further protected with hull angling
+ good speed
– lackluster silver penetration (198)
– neck area beneath the turret is very soft (80mm)
– slow reverse speed, which can be problematic versus arty

Episode #20: M103 Review, Recovering From a Poor Start

I review the M103, a tier 9 American heavy tank, with a replay of a tier 9 Westfield battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 4.9k damage, 4 kills

Strengths and Weaknesses

+ tier 10 penetration (258)
+ excellent max gun depression (-8)
+ excellent aim time (2.3 sec)
+ solid accuracy
+ solid turret armor
+ solid upper front hull armor
– obvious weak spots (cupola, lower front glacis, side hull armor)
– turret loses effective armor quickly when it’s not pointed directly at incoming fire
– slow reverse speed

The M103 has excellent gun handling for a heavy tank but possesses obvious weak spots, so managing these two characteristics is key for effective M103 gameplay.


  1. recommended upgrade order: 2nd gun (T112) → 2nd turret → top gun (M58) → 2nd engine. Skip the tracks and radio unless you plan on keeping the tank
  2. the M58 gun is a meaningful upgrade from the T112: 0.3 sec faster aim time, 0.37 vs 0.40 accuracy, and 16 extra penetration. These 3 things combined make the upgrade definitely worth it
  3. as with most tanks, you want to run with VStab and Rammer as equipment. The 3rd equipment piece depends on which gun you have mounted. When using the 2nd gun (T122), I recommend using GLD to help bring down the 2.6 sec aim time. When using the top gun (M58), I run with Coated Optics to strengthen the good 390m view range


  • in the garage my Commander has Recon as his 3rd skill, but I accidentally selected that over Situational Awareness, which is slightly better (+3% view range versus +2%)

Episode #21: M103 Review, Creating Isolations When Outnumbered

We take a second look at the M103, the tier 9 American heavy tank, with a replay of a tier 9 Himmelsdorf battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 5.4k damage, 7 kills, 2.6k blocked

I make several consecutive critical decisions that help our team pull out a victory, despite our being outnumbered and the other team having map control.

Key Takeaways

1. IMO 80% of the time when a team tries to cap (or calls for it in chat), it’s tactically the wrong thing to do, because either it won’t be possible to reach 100 points (e.g. the map is too small as is the case in most city battles, or cappers are very exposed to resets), or the better thing to do when you have a meaningful numbers advantage is to continue flanking the enemy.

I’m not saying you should never cap. Obviously if they are wrecking your team on the other side of the map, sometimes a miracle cap is the only way to win. Capping can put pressure on the opposing team or provide insurance.

It’s noteworthy that the WN crew found a correlation between defense points and win rate, which is why it’s included in the WN8 formula, but not between cap points and win rate.

2. on the flip side, if your team is losing and the opposing team is capping, often the best thing to do is defend your base, instead of continuing to push forward toward their base. This will take any of their base campers out of the fight and allow you to crush their isolated cappers.

Comments / Errata

a. the opposing Tiger I in tank alley was firing HE at me, which makes no mechanical sense.

HE only provides value in 3 situations: to destroy buildings, for higher damage on targets without meaningful armor such as Waffentrager TDs and American arties, and to finish off low-HP tanks that have strong armor (e.g. hull-down IS-7).

Episode #22: T110E5 Review, 9.7k Damage and 9 Kills

I review the T110E5, a tier 10 American heavy tank, with a replay of a Lakeville battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 9.7k damage, 9 kills, 4.3k blocked, 1.2k spotted

This was a razor-close battle where the margin of victory was a mere 111 HP!

Strengths and Weaknesses

+ superb aim time (2 sec)
+ excellent max gun depression (-8)
+ good accuracy (0.35)
+ good DPM due to fast reload time (10 sec)
+ solid turret armor
+ solid upper front hull armor
+ solid mobility
– the cupola (aka tumor) is a well-known weak spot and a major liability for close-range hill-fighting
– soft lower front glacis
– low alpha damage relative to other heavies
– slow reverse speed


  1. I run double repair kit with the E5, as I did with the M103. The small repair kit is mapped to the “5” key, so I can hit “5-5” to quickly repair damaged tracks. The nice thing about having the premium repair kit is that it provides a passive bonus. While not having a fire extinguisher entails risk, in my E5 and M103 I’ve been set on fire about once every 90 battles, so it’s an acceptable risk to me. You can minimize the likelihood of being set on fire by not letting tanks get shots on the rear of your tank
  2. I recommend Optics over Vents as the 3rd equipment piece, as vision control is critical in mid-to-late game situations. The other two equipment pieces are the standard combo of VStab and Rammer
  3. Once we cleared west, notice that some (dead) friendlies starting calling for us to cap. In a situation where your side is outnumbered, generally the better choice is to defend base. Had our T-34-2 gone to their cap, he would have been easily reset and wrecked. He defended with us, and spotted their E5 trying to flank in valley, and this was valuable intel

Episode #23: AMX 13 90 Review, Completing LT-15 in Prokhorovka / Fiery Salient

I review the AMX 13 90, a tier 8 French light tank, with a replay of a tier 9 Fiery Salient (Prokhorovka) battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 3.2k damage, 2.9k assisted damage, 8 spots, 2 kills

I discuss how to complete LT-15, the light tank mission that requires 4k+ damage contribution, which is the sum of direct damage and assisted damage. IMO the most consistent way to reach 4k+ is spotting from hill, because unlike passive scouting on the 1/2 lines, you can fire on tanks and then retreat behind hard cover.

Strengths and Weaknesses

+ excellent camouflage
+ excellent gold round (ACPR with 248 pen)
+ good view range (400m)
+ good burst damage (1440) in a full clip
– poor accuracy (0.38)
– poor gun handling on-the-move
– load clip reload (38 seconds with Vents)
– poor gun depression and rear mounted turret limit hill-fighting capability
– small crew (3) hampers skill acquisition


  1. it’s important to stay out of the line of fire when enemy tanks are shooting at your friendlies. E.g. at 3:49, the enemy T-54’s shell passes within a few meters of my hull, so I move up the hill a bit and point my hull towards the T-54 to make my profile smaller. By the same token, I stay away from the friendly AMX 50 100, who repeatedly exposes himself to spotting and enemy fire

Episode #24: AMX 12t Review, Getting to 3 Marks of Excellence

I review the AMX 12t, a tier 6 French light tank, with footage from tier 8 and tier 9 battles.

Prior to driving the 12t, I expected it to suck. However, after playing the 12t I realized that it’s misplayed by many drivers, just as I found with the ELC AMX and the M103.

My stats after 161 solopub battles with silver ammo only: 59% win rate, 1068 dpg, 2.1 spg, 1.2 kpg, 3 marks of excellence.

Strengths and Weaknesses

+ excellent camouflage
+ good burst damage (800 HP) for a full clip
+ fast clip reload (20 seconds)
+ solid accuracy (0.36)
+ solid silver penetration (144) relative to its peers
+ excellent gold penetration (202)
– very sluggish acceleration limits active scouting and ability to escape
– easy to run out of ammo given low ammo capacity (30), high rate-of-fire, and fast clip reload
– poor gun handling on-the-move
– very poor gun depression (-4) and rear mounted turret limit hill-fighting capability
– mediocre gun elevation (+12)
– small crew (3) hampers skill acquisition

Episode #25: AMX 13 90 with 9.3k Contribution in Tier 10 Malinovka

We take a second look at the AMX 13 90, the tier 8 French light tank, with a replay of a tier 10 Malinovka battle.

Stat line: 3.6k damage, 5.7k spotted, 2 spots, 1 kill

This video is “A Tale of Seven Light Tanks” because it provides clear examples of what a light tank driver should and shouldn’t do. My damage contribution of 9.3k was multiples of the other 6 light tanks combined, simply because I played my tank correctly based on light tank mechanics and the map design.


  • 0:11 I meant tier 10 “Malinovka” not “Murovanka” in the narration

Episode #26: Chaffee Review, 2688 XP Carry in Tier 8 Malinovka

We review the M24 Chaffee, a tier 5 American light tank, with a replay of a tier 8 Malinovka battle. We also discuss spotting on a weak flank with a replay of a tier 7 Live Oaks battle.

Stat line: Ace Tanker, 2688 XP (1792 base), 2.5k damage, 2.2k spotted, 8 spots, 4 kills

Strengths and Weaknesses

+ superb gun handling, even on-the-move
+ superb max gun depression (-10)
+ excellent top speed and agility
+ excellent view range (390m) and camouflage provide strong vision control
+ excellent DPM
+ good accuracy (0.36)
– paper-thin hull armor of 25m is often triple-overmatched by the guns of tier 6-8 tanks, which means no chance for ricochet
– soft turret
– large profile for a light tank
– silver ammo penetration of 96 is lackluster

Similar to Episode 25 (AMX 13 90 in Tier 10 Malinovka), I initially scout from the E7 location, as it provides hard and soft cover, and I’m able to spot tanks at C5, on the approach to the hill, on the hill, in the ditch under the hill, and across the water to the west. I flex south to counter-spot their Cromwell platoon which threatens our southern flank and arties.

In the Live Oaks replay, I discuss why there is little value in spotting a flank when you are isolated. You won’t be able to meaningfully delay the enemy tanks pushing that flank so that your arty can fire on them. A common mistake by light tank drivers is to over-extend and spot when isolated, and in both situations the light tank often gets wrecked. Spotting is most effective when you’re doing it in such a way that friendly tank(s) aside from arty can fire on what you light, and where you have cover and an escape route.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does “Unicum” mean?

Unicum is a term coined by the WoT community to denote players who are rated in the top 1% in terms of measurable performance (i.e. stats) that are publicly available for each player.

The most widely-used and credible rating system is known as WN8. No rating system is perfect, but WN8 addressed many of the flaws from earlier rating systems.

The WN authors perform extensive statistical analysis of data from community stat sites (e.g. VBAddict and Noobmeter) to determine expected stats for each tank in the game. An individual player is measured against these expected stats using the player’s data that is publicly available through the WoT API for Random Battles (aka “Public Battles” or simply “pubs”), and then an aggregate calculation is used to determine a single WN8 number for that player’s account.

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

When I read the official WoT 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 why’s behind them.

Therefore, in this video series I share what I’ve learned as I progress towards account Unicum rating (top 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 for me.

Who is the intended audience?

Basically anyone who does not already have a purple WN8 Recent (2450+) 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 in some of these videos, so why did you publish them?

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

That said, I reached account Unicum (2450 WN8) at 13195 battles on my original WoT account with silver ammo only:

Taugrim's Stats @ 13195 Battles

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”) in Random Battles (“pubs”)?

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.

For full premade vs premade contexts (e.g. strongholds, etc), I do load and fire some gold ammo. Keep in mind that WN8 only measures stats from Random Battles.

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

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 (676 and counting) 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 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 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.

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

My recent (last 1k battles) WR is typically around 57-59%.

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 solopub’d (solo-queued) over 90% of my battles. Even when I was in a clan (WANTD/WNTED), I still solopub’d 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 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%.

Do you play stock tanks or only fully-researched tanks?

The answer is in-between those two. I typically use enough Free XP to research the first gun with functional penetration (doesn’t have to be the top gun), then grind the remaining gun(s), engine(s), and other upgraded modules.

A lot of players research engines on mediums tanks before I typically do, but if your gun isn’t functional, mobility doesn’t meaningfully matter, because you’ll just get to a place faster and start bouncing shells. LOLZ.

In most cases, upgraded tracks are required to mount upgraded gun(s). Depending how much Free XP I have, what I’ll sometimes do is mount suspension equipment, then forgo one piece of equipment (altho I always keep VStab for upper-tier tanks because of aim time reduction), then grind out the upgraded tracks and swap out the suspension equipment.

As a recent example, for the M103, I Free XP’d the middle gun (T112) and the turret, but I grinded out the top gun (M58) and the engine, and I didn’t bother to research the upgraded radio nor tracks.

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 posting such 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: IS-3 in two tier 10 battles
  • Episode 24: AMX 12t in three tier 9 battles
  • Episode 26: Chaffee in a tier 8 battle

Do 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

Do you make videos of tournaments or Clan Wars?

Not yet.

Both require that I play in organized groups at specific times. I’d need to find a clan to participate in CW, and as of May 2015 I’m currently clanless.

My videos to-date are strictly public battles (aka randoms), since public battles are where most players spend the vast majority of their time.

Do you have any beginner’s guides that cover core game mechanics?

Yes, I have written guides on the following essentials concepts for WoT:

  1. Guide on Hull Angling: proper angling increases your tank’s effective hull armor, which can cause incoming shells to ricochet or bounce – i.e. angling increases the probability that a shell fails to penetrate armor
  2. Guide on Weak Spots: weak spots are specific areas of a tank that can be penetrated more easily than other areas where the armor is thicker and/or sloped

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.

There are some amazing web sites, mobile/tablet apps, and desktop applications that enable you visualize the armor of tanks with 3D models, and you can use these to understand their weak apots. Here are the ones I recommend.

This relatively new site allows you to view the 3D models of every tank in a web browser.

You can mouse over various parts of the tank to see the penetration values. You can also rotate the turret, so that you can determine side and rear turret values.

The site provides both live and test 3D models.

Tank Inspector

This is an application you install on your Windows computer, and similar to, it provides 3D models of every tank.

One notable feature is that you can specify the shell type (AP/APCR/HEAT/HE/HESH) and caliber of the gun firing on the tank, as shell normalization varies by shell type, and this enables you to see the effective armor values.

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, Heavy Tank, Light Tank, Medium Tank, PVP, Video, World of Tanks
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