JD’s Interviews: The_Chieftain

Hello everyone,

US forum’s local “reporter”, Jdtherocker, interviewed The_Chieftain (US server’s local tank guru and developer, counterpart of the EU’s Challenger) – here is the text :) And here’s the Chieftain with his epic hat!


1. What got you started playing world of tanks?

Like many people who date back to the ancient days, a link on a forum website. (Tank-related, in my case, of course.) This was before WoT had an advertising infrastructure, or had appeared at its first E3. The post advertised it as a fun game with ‘some’ realism.
Ever since then all my other hobbies have fallen by the wayside. Although I am ordinarily a hard-core simulator person, I had no trouble with adjusting to the more arcade style of WoT, and as a lot of the individual tank tactics still worked, I remained moderately successful and hung around. And who doesn’t like to play with tanks?

2. What was your first experience on the forums like as being part of the staff?

I’m not sure I remember.

I was working for a few weeks before we felt ready to announce the “Chieftain” persona, and the idea of The Hatch. (Granted, some of it was just waiting on artwork!). I had a couple of personal goals and a few ground rules.

Initially, the idea wasn’t to become some form of ‘WoT Celebrity’, it was to create interesting content which would appeal to the tank enthusiast (and be linked to on other sites, a form of viral marketing, I guess) and to interact with the players as someone who knows their breech from their muzzle. So, anything I put out had to be 100% accurate, as there’s always some wise guy on the internet willing to sharpshoot you (Of course, the definition of ‘accurate’ is ‘cannot be disproven…’). If inaccurate, and proven so, then admit it immediately. Nothing worse to than to have one’s credibility destroyed. The other, a more personal goal, was to come up with tidbits of information which were interesting, but not particularly well known. Frankly, the world didn’t need another guy writing about Patton in the Battle of the Bulge or how awesome (or not) the Tiger tank was, and there’s plenty of other things I feel as a tank enthusiast that need better exposure to the world.

So, the initial post was “Introducing the Chieftain’s Hatch,” just letting the community know I was out here. As the community was quite small then, it wasn’t exactly a major ripple in the pond of the internet, and interactions were always civil. A positive start to proceedings.

3. What’s your favorite part about doing the chieftain’s hatch then?

I like teaching (It fuels my ego). WG discovered me giving a tour of the local tank museum, so that should give an example :) . I also strongly dislike all those myths that perpetuate, so am most happy to run articles which attack common perception (as long as they are substantiated by documentation), see the Patton (“The Truth as we know it”), Tank Destroyer (“Can Openers, America’s Successful Failure”) or M4 gun articles (“US Guns, German Armor, Parts 1, 2″) as examples in point.

I am also most fortunate to be working for a company which supports these endeavours, especially when it comes to things like financing time just spent digging in the archives. Of course, I am primarily looking for information for game implementation (eg armor values, vehicle variants etc), but the way the archives are configured (see “US National Archives” article) one never knows what one is going to discover. Being able by complete accident to find answers to long-standing questions such as ‘OK, just who came up with the “General names for US vehicles?’ (“What’s in a name” article) (jd’s note: part 2 can be found here) and publish the information for the world at large, and not worrying about if the information is commercially successful enough to sell books, is very satisfying. I feel I’m providing a service to the armour community as a whole, not just players of WoT, and introducing WoT players a bit more into the history of the vehicles that they’re playing. I know that modellers are also using the Inside the Chieftain’s Hatch video series as a reference too :)

4. Which of the many articles you wrote (which any reader should check out (shameless plug)) are you the most proud of?

Operation Think Tank, but it’s not an article. It’s a four-hour epic piece of tank knowledge disbursement from the best in the business which I really think needs more visibility than it’s gotten.

I think the “What’s in a Name” pair has given me most personal satisfaction as they are instances of digging in and finding for public view things which have apparently been lost to us. Similar to the T16 articles. I may also re-visit the Can Openers, just as it’s a personal gripe of mine.

That said, the ones which tend to get the most interaction are more the Op-Eds, things like “A Military Christmas” or “Non-Tankers”. Possibly because they’re subjects to which the players can more easily relate.

5. Whats the hardest part (could be interest wise) about writing the articles? Digging up the information or sitting down and typing it out?

Actually, deciding what it is I’m going to write about.

I have a couple of personal limitations to start with: If I’m going to write a history thing, not an op-ed, I need to have some reasonable source materials to start with.
Secondly, something a bit original or different. I mentioned earlier I don’t like parroting the common stuff. Bovington’s director told me that when they decide to try something new, such as the Haynes manuals, they try it with the Tiger first. If it doesn’t make it as a commercial success with Tiger, there’s no point in trying other vehicles. Similarly, every model manufacturer seems to have a model kit available of every single variant and sub-variant of Tiger, depending on if it was the day before the driver bent the headlight guard or afterwards. (But try to find a reasonable kit of M103). That sort of thing annoys the hell out of me, and since there is no ‘commercial’ criterion for what I do, it’s just down to what’s interesting and hasn’t been done before too often.

Once I have the assets arrayed for me to choose from laid out in front of me, I then make a selection from that, unless there is some other reason for me to go on a tangent, such as ‘Becoming an Old War Vet’ or ‘Maneuver Conference’

Finally, actually finding the time to write them, which has been a bit lacking of late.

6. So, how much time goes into an article?

I tend to budget a full day at work. Op-Eds are a fair bit shorter, though, as I make them up as I go. The historical ones take time to research correctly. Part of the day is also simply formatting for publishing on the web using our internal publishing tools.

7. Do you ever write a good part of an article and scrap it?

So far, no, not that I can recall.

8. What tank did you have the most fun explaining its workings in inside the chieftain’s hatch? Why?

I enjoy them all. Though it must be said that I do tend to enjoy it more when I have more information to work with, so, for example, with Conqueror and M103, I had access to the manuals and people who knew the vehicles. Add in the fact that they’re cool, lesser known vehicles, so I get the fun of teaching as well.

9. What is your favorite tank in game and why?

T32 Heavy, and has been for a very long time. It’s an extremely comfortable tank.

More specifically, it has a reasonable chance of doing pretty much anything I want to ask of it. Be it counter-recon, playing as a heavy medium, holding a position, or assaulting, and it’s fast enough and nimble enough to be able to react to rapid developments (or to get me out of trouble after I get into it, which given my highly aggressive style of play is pretty frequently). A lot of people will slate it because of the gun, which, though it may not be the best of its class, is quite serviceable. The awesome depression and turret armor also mean that it’s better able to abuse terrain than pretty much any other tank. I can understand why, given it’s a jack of all trades/master of one, it doesn’t show up quite as often in team games where tanks tend to have assigned roles, but in a random battle, it’s hard to beat its versatility.

10. Does any of your training come back to you when you play this game? If so does it even help your performance?

At the individual tank level, yes. Basic tank tactics, such as ‘tanks go as the waters flow,’ ‘berm drills’, or ‘relocate, relocate, relocate’ all work as well in the game as they do in real life. It’s at the multi-tank level that things go a bit askew. For example, a real platoon of tanks will distribute their fires so that no tanks in the platoon will engage the same target. In the game, however, it’s totally the opposite. All tanks in a platoon focus on one tank until it melts, then move to the next. It’s a product of the hitpoint system. However, some techniques such as bounding overwatch do still apply.

11. Are there any tanks that have been knowingly turned down that you wish hadn’t? (For example amx 13 105)

Actually, no. I did send in some tree revisions and alternate branches for the US line, but I can understand why they were decided against for now. Again, note that I know what’s coming, so just because the player base at large may be disappointed at the lack of something doesn’t mean that I share that despair.

12. What was the singlemost most interesting and detailed question you ever received on the forums about a tank and what was your answer?

It’s not so much the specific questions and answers that I find interesting, as much as the discussions which often follow. I hope that the Hatch articles stimulate thought and discussion as much as they do just teach, so I have had a few tos/fros with people afterwards, such as, if memory serves, a reasonable one over the tank destroyer doctrine. Usually the more basic Q&A questions, like “Did the Germans find their infra-red gear successful?’ have basic answers. “No”. That’s it, end of discussion. Discussions over less concrete or more subjective items are often more interesting.

13. What is your favorite war museum and why?

MVTF, because the tanks are in great condition and they let me play on them.

Actually, I don’t know if I have a specific favourite, they all have their pros and cons. Bovvy is up there for tanks, I think. Overall, the Royal Military Museum in Brussels is astonishing, you wouldn’t expect it from such a small country. Ottawa’s is a nice, modern one, if a little cramped already

14. What is the rarest tank you have ever encountered at a museum and do you think you will ever see a rarer tank?

There are a number of one-off vehicles which exist at musea. For example, a visit to Kubinka gives all sorts of ‘last remaining’ vehicles such as IS–7, Maus, Dicker Max etc, a trip to Bovington gives you tanks like Vickers Independent, Covenanter, or Valiant, I go to Fort Lee and there are vehicles such as T1 Light or M6 Heavy, I found T54E1 and T92 light in Aberdeen, Fort Benning has T28 and T29E3 for example, T69 and M7 in Anniston. And that’s only a couple of examples. I have occasionally remarked as to how fortunate it is that these singular examples still exist and were not scrapped. (Even though some tanks like T28 were supposed to be), but I have also found records of tanks being sent to musea ‘for the historical record’, which for some reason are no longer at those musea, which is most unfortunate and one wonders what happened.

15. If you could own any tank (other then a chieftain) right now, what would be said tank in game and in real life? (could be different tanks)

I’m all for practicality. There’s an M18 GMC on sale right now for any $350 k with working cannon, which can be fitted with rubber pads, but it would have to be kept outside of California. It’s small ish, won’t damage the road, is easy to drive…

Though actually I have half a mind to get an M3A1 scout car. It’s vaguely affordable, street legal, and fits in my garage.

16.Whats your favorite part about gatherings?

Sharing WoT war stories with other gamers. Unlike some staff, I’m a heavy player of the game, so talk with them as a player as much as as a staff member, and it can be a fun conversation.

17. last words?

Remove_Uncomfortable_Tanks_From_The_Game. Shoutout to the Epic Threaddites and ArfCommers.

18 thoughts on “JD’s Interviews: The_Chieftain

    • The Chieftain was/is (I think he retired recently) a US Cavalry officer. I think he can wear it just fine.

      • That’s like saying someone doesn’t look like a faggy “Dallas” reject wearing a ten-gallon hat and those awful boots just because he happens to be Texan.

        Or that merely the owner being a Finn makes the beer belly & windbreaker combo look decent. (>.<)

  1. “The other, a more personal goal, was to come up with tidbits of information which were interesting, but not particularly well known.

    I also strongly dislike all those myths that perpetuate, so am most happy to run articles which attack common perception (as long as they are substantiated by documentation), [...]”

    Sounds just like me, and what I was aiming for with the articles I write.

  2. >shoutout to arfcommers
    Oh god no what a terrible community. The only gun that exists is the AR-15.

  3. > For example, a visit to Kubinka gives all sorts of ‘last remaining’ vehicles such as IS–7, Maus, Dicker Max etc,

    Sturer Emil, not Dicker Max

  4. Got to love the Chief! What’s not to like? He wears an epic hat, is a WoT developer, gets to ride in real life tank as well as digital ones, gets to travel a lot to meet players, plays T32 (Or as I like to call it the “American Centurion”), he’s a brony (His favorite pony is Rarity!) and his hatstand is a dud missile! Overall I found this a comfortably good read. =D

  5. Excellent interview. Would love to see one on SS. He did one on CIrcon’s live stream (roughly) but one in print would be nice to see.


  6. On another note, this inspired me to trawl through his writings on the NA portal for the first time. His sartorial tastes aside I gotta say he’s a pretty good writer.