Getting back into World of Tanks


Ach ja, in terms of in-game time, World of Tanks is without a doubt my most played game by a landslide or two. Accumulate the time of every Pokémon game I have ever played and replayed, add my hours of Garry’s Mod and Tabletop Simulator and for good measure, even throw in World of Warships, War Thunder and Planetside 2 and you still wouldn’t come close to it. In 2013 to 2014, I played around 9.000 rounds of World of Tanks. If we assume an average battle to last seven minutes, we have 1050 hours of pure gameplay, with the time in the garage, managing your tanks, special occasions with the clan and queuing in for battle not included. In one summer vacation, I spend almost every second of these six weeks playing this game and honestly, it was arguably the most fun I had in a long time.

No matter what I will say in the following paragraphs, the bottom line is that World of Tanks, as a game, is incredibly fun to play, especially when one was as good as I. When I eventually stopped playing in 2014, my last 100 battle average had a blue WN-Rating (Don’t know the exact numbers anymore) and in most situations, it was I who came out on top. Considering how much I generally suck at gaming, this was a genuinely great feeling.

I got jaded of this game, however. All my friends eventually stopped playing, my awkward teenager me couldn’t really bring himself to participate in the clan and the structural flaws of the game slowly got to me (more on this at the end of the post). After my first and second clan, the [511] and [509], slowly dissolved themselves, I joined [NDB] with a friend and stopped playing not too long after. I am never frustrated with a game, never rage or scream, but playing World of Tanks, at some point, just made me miserable. Playing World of Tanks was suddenly not fun anymore. So I did the only sensible thing: I de-installed the game and let myself get into whatever else my friends were into: Anime…

In 2018, in the time between finishing school and starting to attend university, a sudden urge overcame me and I installed WoT again. I didn’t play for a long time and only kept it up for a few weeks due to a friend joining me in this endeavour. I quickly remembered why I stopped playing all those years ago and even caught myself practicing the same habits: Primarily using artillery, bullying newcomers in low-tier and playing the football minigame, instead of… actually using the Tier 10 tanks I grinded for all this time.

A bit more than a year ago, I started watching a streamer called Mailand. He primarily plays World of Tanks and is very nice to listen to. I eventually made it a habit of watching him while eating in the evening. As bitter as I was towards the game, seeing other people play it, especially on such a high level, is pretty nice and so I even keep watching him today. I never got the urge to play the game myself, that was, until recently. Nothing happened in particular, I just felt like playing it again and so I did.

This time, I wanted to approach it a bit different. I won’t even pretend to make World of Tanks the game I play on the regular. Hell, if this post is published, I may have already stopped. A day before, I started playing Horizon Zero Dawn for a couple of hours and I definitely want to come back to that. Also, this time, I made a new account… well, not new new, but my WoWS account with which I have not played WoT… and also just so happens to have the HansiMcKlaus handle. Gone are the days of crasher12.

Also, I told a friend of mine to just absolutely beat the everliving shit out of me, if I ever decide to play this game again. What a convenient timing, as I won’t see him for about half a year… Once he is back, I will stand up to my mistake and accept punishment. Until then.

Things changed a little

When I first logged in back in 2018, I noticed some changes, though with the exception of a few missing tanks, I don’t remember them much. So, here are some of the notable changes that were introduced somewhere between 2014 and 2022.

There is a tutorial now! Starting the game the first time and before you can even go into a random battle, you have to complete a multi-part tutorial (I think one can quit it over the menu, but still). The tutorial is actually good. It teaches you all the important core mechanics, from fighting to managing your tanks. Completing the tutorial was actually a cruel challenge for me. The final part is a staged random battle with both teams being completely filled with bots… you just need to win… I did not. I assume the skill level of the bots is randomized, because I played like a god in his prime, got 9 kills and we still lost. The next attempt went way smoother with an easy win. Due to the content of the tutorial, you are also already in possession of a Tier 3 tank… wait what?

The tank you use in the tutorial is part of the normal tech tree, so depending on what nation you chose, you already have the Tier 2 and 3 tank researched and are already a few EXP into the research for Tier 4. The tech trees themselves underwent major change with most nations only having a single line up to Tier 3, instead of splitting of from Tier 1. This will be one of the problems current WoT has and I will talk about later, but the gist is that new players get way too fast into higher tiers. Considering there are also blueprints now, that reduce the amount of EXP needed to research a tank, it is entirely in the realm of reality to get to Tier 10 with just a couple hundred battles of experience. A lot of tanks also just simply vanished from the tech tree completely and are instead available for credits in a separate shop, once you reached the respective tier with a tank of the nation.

Beyond that, WoT introduced several quality of life improvements, like when you upgrade your gun, you can automatically sell the old one, managing your crews got easier and banning maps (or a single map in case of a non-premium account) is thankfully also a thing now… Good riddance Lakeville, you shall not be missed. There is a official mod support now and some of the features get directly implemented into the base game. Gunmarks are a thing to aim for if you have already grinded every tank or just want to flex. Boosters will give you more credits and EXP for a certain time. Wargaming also entirely reworked the modules and will do the same with the crews too in the hopefully not so distant future.

Also, parts of the interface now look like they came out of the current decade. It is still pretty questionable at times, but some of it looks decent. Also, new nations and tanks… lots of tanks. I was actually afraid to be greeted by the exact same game I quit almost eight years ago, so seeing all the changes does lift some of the skepticism off my heart.

Step Zero

So, I decided to play the game… now what? Since I am on a new account, I have to start from zero. On the other hand, I am not chained by decisions I made years ago, like playing up to the Tier 7 of both the american and french tank destroyer line. First thing was choosing what lines I want to tackle. In general, there are some lines that basically get recommended to anyone starting the game. Your IS-7, T110E5 and so on. Since I am actually not a newcomer and already know the basics of the game, I decided to pick something different and not what I have already grew accustomed to.

Initially, I wanted to go for the tank destroyers of the swedish nation, as they have their own little mechanic for switching between two modes, but I opted out for the Kranvagn. While it is still a conventional heavy tank, it features an autoloading gun (Drumloader), meaning it has to be played less straight forward than your normal heavy tank.

My second line will be the one to the Leopard 1. From what I saw, this is exactly the kind of medium tank I want to try and is hopefully better and more usable than the T-62A. The game has become way faster, so I doubt I will regret this choice… ignoring all the tanks I have to play until I reach the Leopard, that is.

The final tank will be of the french. As of the time of writing, I have not actually decided on which one exactly, however. The french have three light tank lines. Two years or so ago, WoT introduced wheeled vehicles, meaning tanks on wheels that can go above 80km/h. The EBR line seems like an absolute joke, but as it turns out, they are ridiculously overpowered due to their ludicrous mobility and derp guns. On the other end of the spectrum lies the Bat.-Châtillon 25 t, which is more akin to a medium and support tank, though proven and equipped with a nice gun. Somewhere inbetween exists the AMX 13 105, which is your more average small and fast tank with great versatility. All three seem like an interesting choice, though currently I favor the BatChat and I am not sure if I am even good enough to play the EBR, or if it even fits my play style.

With my first account, I referred myself, meaning I will get some bonuses along the way, because there is no need to make playing the game even harder than it already is for someone planing to not spend a single cent. Anyway, here we go.

Getting started

With a goal in sight, it is time to roll out into battle. Not sure why, but I ended up with 5 days of Premium… not that I am complaining. My first surprise didn’t even have anything to do with playing World of Tanks again. Now equipped with a powerful PC and a large Full HD monitor, this game genuinely looks pretty good. Not comparable with most AAA games, but not too far off either, all things considered. Compression will probably ruin this image, but apply some post-processing and maybe a filter on it and you have yourself a good looking screensaver from basically any point in time just driving around the map.


Anyway, Tier 1 goes as one would expect. Most of the players are playing the game for the first time, barely know how the controls work, have no idea where to go and mostly act as target practice for people like me. Even if you lose, as long as you do not go completely off-kilter, this will be your only game you have to play on Tier 1, since there is mostly just a single module and a tank to research. I played most Tier 1 tanks on a weekday late at night, so the battle were not only limited to 12 vs. 12, but where also filled with bots on both sides. I have to say, these bots do not play very well, though I was pleasantly surprised to see real players perform way worse than literal bots. Poetry, some might say.

Not sure what to think of this fast progression, as Tier 1 is a place where you almost can’t do anything wrong, so it is a good training ground for new players, before going up to Tier 2 und 3. Considering that Tier 2 is mostly just another Tier 1 at this point, this isn’t much of a problem, though. Due to the tutorial, I already had a Tier 3 german tank, so I focused on getting the swedish and french up to speed first.

There isn’t really much to say about playing the tanks themselves. A good chunk of low-tier tanks just kind of melt together into this “not really bad, but not good at all either”, so Tier 2 and 3 mostly went by with struggling against the tank, instead of the enemies. Most low-tier tanks are bad by design and using unskilled crews doesn’t make it easier. You do not aim, as the aiming circle needs a decade to shrink and then you still won’t hit a think, so might as well chance it. There is no armor to speak of and your fate is more often than not dictated by whether you are top tier, or enjoy the company of tanks two tiers higher than yourself.

On the in-game side, World of Tanks made some great changes. Not only is your communication limited to only your team, meaning trolls can’t give up position, and team damage is not a thing anymore, meaning you won’t get banned because some idiot keeps driving into your line of fire. Repair- and med-kits now posses a 90 second cooldown instead of being single use, which makes you actually repair your tracks now. What sticked is the +2 matchmaking. I don’t have a problem against fighting tanks above or below my tier, but even one more above? A Tier 2 tank can barely do something against Tier 3 and now it is supposed to do something against tanks that can one-shot you? This problem actually persist up to Tier 8 and only because Tier 10 is the maximum. Same thing goes for the other directions. Sure, I would rather play against a weaker tank, than a stronger tank, but I feel a sense of guilt just slaughtering a smaller tank just trying its best. It gets milder once I got to Tier 4, but Tier 2 und 3 were honestly a mess. Certainly had some fun rounds, but considering how much most players still need to learn, I definitely yearned for some sense of control or at least the lie, that my action can turn a losing battle into a winning one.

Something, that also improved with time, was the behavior of my teammates. No firing at each other at the start of the round, eventually opting for english and not your native tongue (Though this will still persist at whatever tier) and way less insults. I have to give some credit to this one guy combining their insults with puns of the players name. “hansi deine mutter han si nemmer all amk” made me chuckle a bit and they did it for like three other people too. Shout out to FLATTERFoTZE360 for their creative writing ability.

Last thing I just have to mention is the disturbing amount of seal clubbing. Players with several tens of thousands of games spending their time making the low-tiers even more painful, than they already are. Using those few OP tanks on the tier or straight up opting for premium tanks, over-skilled crews and of course fully loaded to the brim with shells made of gold. Arguably, I too participated in seal clubbing back in the days, but not only did I have the decency to fight on even ground, but was I also simply allowed to by the virtue of being a good player. Those seal clubbers I had to play against were just bad. How in the spaced Panzerschürzen did you play 60K battles, but are running around with a win rate of anything under 50%? And that is with the advantage of spending money on the game. I think the worst one I saw had over 70K battles and less than 45% win rate. I do not want to even imagine what their stats would be, if they primarily fought in high tier battles. I can at least own it, being killed by a good player, but every time I see the words “APCR” and “HEAT” pop up in the the top left corner and knowing I would have survived otherwise, I die a little on the inside. It is one thing using premium ammunition in Tier 10, but Tier 2 and 3? C’mon man, you are better than this…

Anyway, for the german and swedish line, I had almost no problems that are not also just part of the game and reached their respective Tier 5 tank in no time. However, there was a certain problem child enfant à problèmes.

Let’s talk about the French

Making fun of the french is tradition at this point and I refuse to grow out of it. Most french tanks are considered a meme in this game. The aforementioned EBR is basically a sports car that also drives like it is on rails, the tank destroyer is to be considered almost unplayable, their artillery is only useful for keeping a target tracked and stunned for 20 seconds straight, the other light tank always stands out like a small lost child and their heavy and medium tanks are just plain bad. Every single tank line is a joke and yet, they keep getting played, because they also tend to be interesting when compared to the more homogeneous other nations. I mean, even I want to play them.

Getting to this point is a whole other story. Starting from Tier 2 going up to Tier 4, every tank is literally unplayable. They are so damn slow, their armor, while good on paper, is effectively useless, they can’t hit or penetrate anything and are just a pain in the ass to handle. They incorporate every bad aspect of low-tier tanks and make it even worse. The Tier 4 AMX 40 is worse than every Tier 3 tank… with the exception of the AMX 38, which is worse than every Tier 2 tank. I can’t even fully express my hatred for those tanks. I had literally zero “good” rounds with them. Half the time, the battle just runs away from you and you are trying to play catch up with a barely functioning chunk of metal driving 15 km/h at most. You need around 3 minutes to get into position and you can forget places like hills or anything fancy like this. You can not go into close quarters, because nothing will bounce of your armor, but you have to get close, because your accuracy is entirely linked to the roll of a dice. You also reload forever and make no damage.

The AMX 40 almost broke me. I tried, I really tried, but it was simply impossible. While I always played and participated in the battles, 90% of the times, I might as well have stayed in the base and left the battle. The only coup de grâce was this one time, when I encountered an enemy AMX 40 and we spend almost two minutes doing exactly zero damage between the two of us, until we both gave up and ignored each other. Since they reworked the HE mechanic, I couldn’t even load HE because I can’t even do any damage with the High Explosives, only damaging a module if I were lucky. The AMX 40 has the lowest average EXP of all my tanks, solely because in most battles, the only thing I did was die. I hate it so much and only went through with it, because I really wanted to play the ELC AMX. I definitely would have given up, if I did not have a premium account for the time. It took me 30 long battles and I wouldn’t survive another 15 of those.

Anyway, I researched the ELX AMX and all is forgiven. It is my first time playing a light tank above Tier 4 and it is so much fun, it is almost laughable. Suddenly going 60 km/h, seeing most tanks, before they see you and a gun that can do a good amount of damage. It is a dream come true after the nightmare that were the low-tier french tanks. Honestly, some of these rounds could have been uploaded straight to Pornhub, because there is nothing child-friendly about this tank. When you are top tier, not only are you the best scout, but also just straight up the tank with the highest damage potential. You don’t even have to aim, the shells will just magically hit their target. This tank is overpowered and shouldn’t be eligible for Tier 5. Je l’adore.

Tier V

This is where the fun begins. At this point, most tanks have something going for them. They start having guns that actually hit and even penetrate their target with a certain consistency, armor is a thing to consider now and the varying roles of a tank influence the approach and positioning on the map. We are finally allowed to play the game.

I already talked about the AMX ELC, but the other tanks also don’t need to hide. The swedish line basically stayed consistent from Tier 2 to 5. They are relatively fast, rock a decent gun and are generally pretty versatile, which makes simply outplaying less experienced enemies a viable strategy. On Tier 5, the Strv m/42 delivered the most consistent results and it is the one I had the least trouble playing and overall the most fun with. The VK 30.01 (H) unfortunately lost its speed in the transition to Tier 5 and plays itself like a small heavy tank, despite being a medium. Once I researched the good gun, I was ready to roll out some good damage and its accuracy was a blessing.

Tier 5 was finally the time, where I was allowed to showcase some skill, as well as what I learned observing players better than me. Simple things like effectively using bushes and trees, wiggle wiggle wiggle, shifting into first gear for peaking out of cover to shoot, instead of just pressing forward or knowing when to drive back and not immediately run into my death. I also played some new positions and came to appreciate, that tracking your enemy is often the best thing you can do.

However, some troubles still persist. Seal clubbers keep roaming the streets and fields, premium ammunition is in rampant use, going against a Tier 7 tank is still not great and relying on your team will lead you to your doom, but beyond that, it is by far the most fun I had with this game, after what I consider to be a rather rough start.

I will miss those tanks… ok, maybe not the VK, but still… also, I will keep the ELC for researching the other lines and the simple fact, that I just do not have the money to buy the Tier 6 tank at the moment, because I thought it was a good idea to immediately fill my VK 30.02 (M) with modules… a day before they reduced the price by 50%… that’s life, I guess.

Why I originally stopped playing and what’s to come

In the beginning of this post, I said that I stopped playing the game after becoming jaded of it. World of Tanks has fundamental and structural problems, which can not just be simply patched or fixed. World of Tanks is at its core a team-based real time strategy game first and an arcade shooter second. There is only so much a single player can do. While your overall performance can change the tide of battle, there is no salvaging a sunken ship, which makes it unbelievably frustrating, when you lose not to your own shortcomings, but to the millstone around your neck that is your team. Of course, everything will average out eventually. Sometimes getting a team that is able to pull of a perfectly coordinated push as if it is the easiest thing in the world and sometimes you get two guys drowning themselves, the scout dying before even spotting a single enemy, this one specialist pushing everyone out of cover and eight people that wouldn’t even hit a target if they stand directly in front of it.

The way this shows up in reality is unfortunately not just a simple loss for the statistic, but a joke of a game. 15 - 0 is an uncannily often occuring end result. Nobody played the game in such a round. One team simply pressed W and clicked on the left mouse button, while the other team made a fool of themselves. Play as good as you want, you are powerless in the face of the roflstomp. Every time something like this or similar happens, frustrations takes over for a second. You did well, but the game is not able to reward you for it. When playing most games, I know I did well, when I succeed. World of Tanks is able to simply not allow you to succeed. The better I got at the game, the more I noticed the fact, that my biggest enemy was the game itself and eventually, you stop bothering. You win and you can’t even feel the hollow victory, you lose and it is just another kick in your stomach while already lying on the floor, bleeding. Every once in a while, a single good battle can be the spark to ignite your raging fire inside again, just to be extinguished later in the next round.

I guess team-based games are just not my thing. I like it, when my failures are my failures and my success due to my own actions. Playing in a more organized way, like the company battles, were a great alternative, but also a big effort to pull off and way more competitive than the more casual random battles. It also doesn’t help, that the game tries its best, to favor one kind of player over everyone else.

I understand that the company behind WoT tries to make money. I also understand, that playing this game without spending money is absolutely a possibility, I mean, I very much did so. However, it is also true that spending money on the game makes it infinitely better to play. Unfortunately, some of those perks make it worse for basically everyone and the f2p crowd is simply hit the hardest. The obvious culprits have already been mentioned. Premium ammunition is simply overpowered and gives those using it as their default ammo an unfair advantage, compared to those using the standard ammunition. The premium repair and med-kit, beyond applying to everything, not just a single module or crew member, also give a passive boost to repair speed and resistance and using consumables also give an additional boost to you crews skill level. While all those are not locked behind a literal pay-wall, they can almost never be used, as it is simply not financially viable for f2p players.

A problem with the affect of premium play time is that some players simply get to higher tiers, despite not being experiences enough. Same can be said about premium tanks, which tend to be on the stronger side on their respective tier and hard to counter, despite having no requirements beyond a credit card. However, spend money and you can still collect some good results through the power of additional equipment that stands firm behind a glass door for most players. And trust me, nothing is more demotivating, trying to become better at the game, than some noob spaming gold ammunition and running amok in their boosted premium tank without a worry in the world, while you try to take as few shots as possible to not land in the red after each round.

Seal clubbing is just the logical end of this broken system. To bad of a player to achieve nothing in high-tier battles? Here is an easy way to pad your stats. At some point, I just gave up, because I couldn’t keep up with it anymore. Considering everything that made me quit the game is still very much present today, we will have to see how I will handle it. Maybe I just reached zen in the years and do not care anymore, but considering how much I still want to strangle everyone using premium ammunition, there is still a bit of bitterness left. Let’s see in what ways the game tries to hinder me over and over.

As of the time writing this post, I have researched the Tier 6 tanks of every respective lines and it is here where things get interesting. Progress will drastically stall from here on out (My premium days also ran out) and putting more care into the tank will be needed from here on out. It always sucks to play a tank stock, but apparently one gets way more free EXP now, so it will come in quite handy.

Maybe there will be a follow-up post, either about my journey on Tier 6 and above, or how I gave up and stopped playing the game again, until I will inevitably pick it up again in four years.

And in the very least, it gave me an excuse to listen to the Girls und Panzer OST again… man, I gotta re-watch that anime again.

local_offer World of Tanks
folder Games
calendar_today 2022