we have another guest article today, this time by Listy, well-known poster and article author, his work got featured even on official WoT portal. Enjoy!
Author: David “Listy” Lister
For the last few months, the history battles mode has been in game. Its fair to say that so far the mode has been one giant flop, much to mine and several other person’s annoyance. When it first came out, I was a good little player and I brought a Panzer IVH solely for HB and queued up each day. But I only ever got two games in. After the first couple of days, every time I queued the counter would hit five minutes and boot me back to the garage, because the Matchmaker couldn’t find a game.
This got me thinking and the results of those musings are contained here along with a couple of possible fixes.
The problems with HB are sort of everyone’s fault. While yes some of it is Wargaming’s fault, other faults lie with you, the players – in part. My take on why HB have been a flop is simple: Everyone is queueing in the most overpowered of the tanks available to the battle. How many teams did you see in the Ardennes that were mostly made up of Hellcats for example?
Taking the biggest and most powerful unit is entirely human nature and only a tiny portion of us would take lesser tanks for a challenge, it’s not a new problem. I’ve been playing table top wargames of one sort or another for thirty years now. I’ve worked with a couple of table top war games companies, and I’ve worked with two computer games companies, that basically produced an electronic version of a table top wargame.
We had the same problem, but it was easier to balance. In a table top wargame, you can balance it by ramping up the points cost. Suddenly, that two platoons of Tigers isn’t such a good idea, when your opponent puts down two companies of Shermans, its even less fun when the opponent puts down an infantry battalion, supported by a full Royal Artillery regiment.
Of course Wargaming knows this, they used to produce wargames in computer form. They even seem to have tried the points-based approach for each side. However, when each person only gets to select one tank, then of course they’re going to pick the best one and it causes the points-based system to break.
It’s not helped by Wargamings insistence on sticking invented or prototype tanks in game. Equally the real tanks are overarmed or a horrible mixture of sub marks. It means you have a much smaller selection of tanks to work with. The final straw is the tank selection. Take for example the Tobruk HB, that’s coming up. There’s no chance of getting a game simply because the Matilda is in the line up. The Germans have maybe one gun in their line up, that when firing premium will be able to hurt the Matilda. So no, I fear that the line up will be 100 Matilda’s 10 Valentines and 4 Germans. All waiting for a game until the five minute timer runs out.
So, what to do about it? Well, the first one is to motivate the player base to play the lesser side. Something as simple as the under dogs getting a bonus to XP and credits. In the Tobruk one, again a bonus 10% XP and credits for all the Germans might go a way to solving the issues. Of course, it’s likely that it won’t have such a massive effect, especially when you have Matilda’s crushing you.
The next idea on what to do is simple – be more selective about which missions you create. For example, look closely at the Siege of Tobruk and find a time frame, when there were no Matildas or Valentines. I actually have another perfect example of a potential HB, that suffers from everything I have outlined, but can be fixed by being a bit more selective.
But first, a bit of history about the battle:
Operation Bluecoat in Normandy 1944. It was an attack by the British 6th Guards Tank brigade, equipped with Churchill tanks. During the first day the British shoved the Germans back several miles and during the day’s fighting, the British encountered Jagdpanthers – but still prevailed. The next day, they were in advanced positions and had to hold against German counter attacks, but the pace of advance had outstripped their supporting units (such as the M10C’s).
Here’s a short list of the tanks involved:
British: Churchill MKIII-VI, Stuarts, M10C Achilles.
Germans: Tigers, Jagdpanthers and possibly some Stug’s and Panzer IV’s (I forget if the later were involved but its likely).
So how to make a HB out of that? Well, the first stumbling block is the lack of correct marks of Churchills. Although the tanks are technically in game, they’re badly mixed up and don’t have the right modules. Equally, WG has focused on so many fantasy tanks that the core tanks, like the M10C Achilles, aren’t in the game. But let’s just magic away that issue, what else is wrong?
WG’s current system of listing every tank in the whole campaign and sticking them in the battle creates massive imbalance. In this case, it’s the Jagdpanther. It would brutally murder every tank involved on the allied side and everyone would queue those tanks up. So what to do? Well, the Jagdpanthers were only in action on the first day. So for an Operation Bluecoat game, how about this:
Map: Redshire, Westfield or Prokhorovka. All have the correct terrain feature (a wooded hill) to stick the Assault point on. There are about four other maps that are possible, but all have more pronounced issues.
Game Mode: German Assault
British: Churchill MKIII-VI and Stuarts.
Germans: Tigers, and Stug’s and Panzer IV’s
The Germans would have limited time and tanks to force the British off the hill. However, if they rush headlong, the British will be outnumbering them and the Churchill has a high ROF. Although the majority of the shells fired by the British can’t hurt a Tiger, some will roll high enough to hurt. Equally, the Tigers can bounce off the Churchill’s armour, but should generally go though.
Both sides have advantages. The Germans have firepower and armour, but are up against a time limit. The British have a defensive position and can inflict damage on the Germans at a rate the Germans will have to be careful of. The good news is the Bryansk Front HB in the next patch actually looks to have decent selection of tanks on both sides with no seriously overpowered tanks. So hopefully Wargaming is getting its eye in.
Silentstalker’s Addendum: Here, I somewhat disagree with Listy on the Bryansk tank choices, the KV-1 heavy tank will be facing L/43 Panzer IV at best and has potential to be the “Bryansk Matilda”, but we will have to see.