December 09, 2014

Sometimes it all just comes together

Sometimes everything just clicks in a game...

Duck, you got me hooked...

War Thunder uses a "battle rank" system to try to make a game that can include late-30s biplanes and the F-86 without putting the one up against the other. Your vehicles get weighted so that you're only up against stuff from within a certain range away from your best vehicle.

Unfortunately, this means that several vehicles are... disadvantaged by the game system. Not because they're BAD exactly, but because their score is sufficiently high that you are suddenly eligible to fight something from another country which is more than a match for you. (This combines with the normal balance problems you get in an online game, plus the Russian developer's tendency to make the Russian stuff quite good.) So while I've unlocked the StuG IIIA, which is a nice piece of kit if you aren't married to the idea of a turret on your tank, it's... a big jump over the rest of your tier I stuff in battle rank, meaning suddenly you're seeing T34s on the other side of the line.

So basically you take out your shiny new tank and it gets perforated in short order, and your reinforcements are armed with popguns and armored with paper... not exactly an ideal circumstance.

Setting up a good team isn't a matter of taking the best things in your available arsenal, but instead getting enough in the same kind of range that you can play an enjoyable round even after losing one, without having any of them so high that you're suddenly trying to punch over your weight class.

(It can be done. When flying my US planes tonight, I got an award for taking out a plane two ranks higher than mine - sometimes you just need some 50 cals in the right place and time. But usually it's the other way around, right?)

The tier 1 German tanks are actually pretty fun to play, ignoring the StuG (which ranks you up into the hurt-me zone) and the basic Panzer II C (20mm main armament... what are you, British?) The Flakpanzer is especially fun, since you get decent penetration against other tier 1 vehicles, you've got good range, and you're using an automatic weapon versus their single-shots. Of course your gunner isn't armored (at all) and if the game were modeling machineguns as well, taking that thing to the front line would be crazy... but it doesn't (yet) and so it's basically a slow-ish glass autocannon. Always fun to see someone shoot you in the gun shield, their armor-piercing shell going completely through it and finding nothing on the other side but air, while you pekka-pekka-pekka away until a shot goes in his vision slit or turret ring and he brews up.

I figure I'll make the jump to the tier II stuff when I can field a decent setup...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at 03:47 AM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
Post contains 489 words, total size 3 kb.

1 That's...a lot of shinies.  Very impressive!

I had my best game evar the other night with two kills, two assists and seven targets destroyed.   I got an achievement.  I didn't even know that game *did* that.

Posted by: Ben at December 09, 2014 01:16 PM (DRaH+)

2 Indeed a lot of shinies.

The one on the left was an achievement ("you have won x number of missions" or "you have x kills" or something akin). From there, it's First Strike, Adamant (a LOT easier to get in ground missions, in tier 1 tanks where new German players will attack you with a popgun autocannon), Teamwork x2, Base Capture x3, I think Eye for an Eye x2, Shadow Strike x2 (basically "you got two kills without getting hit!"), Ground Target Streak x2, Final Blow, Match-maker (a special one for getting first strike AND final blow), a decal for getting up to a certain number of kills, and AntiMech (basically "most ground kills"). The medal on the right is just indicating that it was my first victory of the day for the Germans, which means my research total was doubled (and what a time for it!)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at December 09, 2014 04:35 PM (zJsIy)

3 I suck.

Posted by: Wonderduck at December 11, 2014 10:58 AM (jGQR+)

4 What're you flyin', Duck?

I'm playing Arcade Mode games, which means there's a big premium put on aggression and getting in the mix. Camping in a good ambush spot all game and sniping one or two tanks will get you crap results even if you survive. If I go charging in and lose all three of my tanks but kill six or seven, I'm way ahead of the game.

Of course all this will change when I'm in more advanced tier 4 and 5 vehicles where the repair costs aren't trivial - but until then, I might as well take advantage.

One thing I've found on arcade mode is that the standard advice is crap. Yes, boom and zoom is an effective and relatively safe tactic. Trying it with undergunned US planes just means you never shoot down anyone. Yes, I'm at a disadvantage in a pure dogfight when it comes to a turning battle one on one. But... it's Arcade Mode! One on one, ha ha ha. In a chaotic furball, you can score some nice kills even with completely inferior planes, just because you've got a deflection shot on someone who's focused on someone else. (And the easiest method of evading someone who is on your six is "get someone on his six", or failing that, "on his twelve" - a mini Thach weave, if you will.)

And sometimes you won't manage, because the other guy is a better shot, or in a nimble plane you're just not gonna get away from, or because he brought four of his buddies, or because Murphy said "lol first cannon round went into your cockpit". And, well, whatever. I hop in another plane and keep on truckin'...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at December 11, 2014 09:38 PM (zJsIy)

5 I've just gotten my first American Tier 2, the P-40.  It's nice to actually have the ability to shoot things and cause damage, but right now my fully-upgraded F2A-3 is a better plane.

I tend to play arcade, but have done the occasional RB match.  The problem with RB is that you DO get sniped from halfway across the map, and the eight minutes you just spent schlepping your way to the battlefield was wasted, and all you get is a pat on the head for managing to take off without stuffing it into a tree.

But in arcade, now that I'm in a Tier 2 plane, I'm getting mugged by Tier 3s.  I just finished a game where I dove my P-40 on a target, got a nice crit on a wing, then as I pulled up into the Z part of a BnZ, a P-47 BnZ'd me... and blew me into a thousand pieces.  I had three assists, zero kills that match.

Over in Japan, I have the Canoe Of Destiny as my first Tier 2, meaning I'm seeing P-47s and high-end Corsairs in A5M4s.  Sure I can dance, but with two sparklers on my nose, I can't do anything else.

Brits, Russians and Germans I'm still Tier 1, meaning I'm going up against Stalinwood aircraft with DeathShvaks.

Posted by: Wonderduck at December 15, 2014 02:28 AM (jGQR+)

6 You're payin' too much attention to the tier there, I think. The P-47's BR is 3.0 - just a hair over the P-40's 2.7. As far as the game's concerned, that's a fair fight.

BR does not always increase with tier - there are some research paths that actually have a plane lower down the tree with a lower BR. And the US has a -ton- of planes in between 2.3 and 3.0...

(Not really sure why they have it as 2.0, 2.3, 2.7, 3.0, etc. with nothing in between. Why not just have integers?)

Also, should I have heard of the P-400? I thought I was up on this stuff, but I had no idea this was even a thing.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at December 15, 2014 05:39 AM (ZeBdf)

7 As far as the game's concerned, that's a fair fight.

Game is wrong.  Matchmaker is broken, badly.

should I have heard of the P-400?

It's a P-39 with a 20mm cannon instead of the 37mm.  Originally destined for the Brits, they were kept by the US when things went south.  They got a lot of hard use at Guadalcanal doing ground attack/surface attack type things.

Alternatively, the P-400 is a Warhawk with a Zero on its tail.

Posted by: Wonderduck at December 15, 2014 10:01 AM (jGQR+)

8 The matchmaker gets caught between three or four different issues:

-It's a free-to-play game with some annoyance factor built in. If they have only a few vehicles available, then they either place them very far apart, research-wise (and then people get bored of the biplanes and quit before they really get into it), or they cluster them so that you get the usual "first few hits are easy" and then people decide "eh, I don' need to pay for what's left." This means they've got a direct financial incentive to put lots of vehicles in the game. It's also a hell of a marketing move too, of course. But having lots of vehicles means they can give you that early crack whack of progression, then string it out longer and longer until people are tempted to reach for their bankbook, with plenty of tasty jet fighter content effectively screened by "months if you wait or right now if you pay".

-But there does need to be some kind of progression. If the Peashooter flies like the Lightning flies like the Shooting Star, only with different numbers on the screen, then people will either give it up as pointless, or just get the plane they like and stick with it forever. And realistic modeling (to the extent they can manage it, snort) is a big marketing point as well.

-At the same time, they need to have the matchmaking system nice and loose - if ONLY fighters of the exact same capability can fight each other, then if there's not enough players who wanna fly P-38s right then, there's no game. Gaijin has to keep the queue times down to a reasonable-ish level or people dump the game like a hot rock, so they literally CAN'T be too picky about matching levels exactly.

-Even on top of that, it's good for the company's business if every so often you just get skunked by someone in a better plane, because the natural reaction is either to spike the mouse or to say "man, I want one of THOSE!"

-But they can't make it tooooo loose, because if they do, people don't say "I want me one of those," but instead "bugger this," as they uninstall the game.

So it's kind of a hard problem. Too tight and people get bored of waiting to play and they go play something else. Too loose and people say "I hate being food for people in better planes" and quit. And complicating all of that are the various outside factors - the historical performance of the vehicles, which you can't cheat too far with or the history buffs light the forum on fire; the presence of flawed damage models and/or flight models ("what do you mean, the T-34 doesn't have a driver's viewport weak point modeled?"); the presence of outright bugs which affect several different vehicles at once; and Gaijin's own patriotism which, frankly, makes it rough for them to admit "yes, early-war Russian planes should be losing 10-1 if we're honest about their performance..."

I think it's a bit easier with the tank combat because, to put it bluntly, it's bloody lethal; someone kills you on the first shot and you basically go "well... okay, yeah, that was a kill" (especially since it shows the shot penetrating your armor, fragmenting, and hitting your crew, your gun breech, your spare ammo, the fuel tank, the engine, and your little Miku plushie hood ornament.) Even if I'm on the bad end of a matchup, usually I don't die unless I'm in a position where I'm taking fire, and sometimes that's just gonna kill you right away. And it's pretty rare that you're up against someone whom you just - can't - penetrate, though certainly there are times when I think "there's like five tanks covering that open field and if I go out there, my tank will brew up like Oktoberfest".

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at December 16, 2014 03:13 AM (ZeBdf)

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