Well, World of Tanks has truly got it's hooks into me. The latest update has brought a sexy new map - the Siegfried line and loads of new German Heavies (yeah, likes that's what the game needed?!?) ... that said, I had noticed that the German heavies were seriously outgunned by the T29, IS and KV variants ... still not making any sense?
Let me explain.
Unlike 40k, WoT is loosely based on the WW2 explosion in tank development and a massive leap from mobile sheds (at the end of WW1) to tank like the T34 (Russian) and T20 (American - confused yet?) which pretty much defined the boring period of tanks since.
Check out the WoT wiki, full of helpful hints and wikipedia information on the tanks of WW2.
This is the dull as dishwater period during and post cold war where the world is dominated by ONE main battle tank per country. It's like the world signed up to Chinese birth control doctrine...!
This is because the guns got so good that any gun could penetrate any tank, so the perfect balance between armour, speed and the gun meant that "strata's" of tanks were pointless.
Let me explain...
Largely you have the following:
Light tanks:fast and twisty, these guys are the eyes and ears of the crew. You'll rarely survive a game, you'll amass points quickly and as a top tier speedster (like my lovely Leopard), you'll occassionally get a game where you really punch above your weight. A hobbit.
Medium tanks: Such fun! Mediums are the best balance, they can usually reach out and hurt the heavies, and work in conjunction with heavies to fire past and hide behind. Wolfpacks of mediums can be very very effective. A ranger.
Heavy tanks:Charge up the middle and stomp things. The heavy can deliver the best armour in the best position, allowing you to 'largely' ignore most medium and light tanks. Tank hunters and Self propelled guns are your nemesis, and also wolfpacks of mediums ... and well everyone will hate you (and you'll kill everyone).
Tank Destroyers:Sneaky tanks, hiding in bushes, sniping and destroying. Remove the armour and get a REALLY big gun, some tank hunters are monsters, with frontal armour to ignore even heavy tanks and enormous guns... but no side or rear armour and generally not that fast. Defensive, but devastating.
Self Propelled Guns: A howitser. Yep, you stand at the back and ping them from range. Can be great fun behind a good team (I've got 6 kills in a SU26 before) ... behind a poor team who leaves a hole, you're suddenly trying to fight off a light tank with your uber slow boomgun. Quite tough.
But that's not all....
Oh no, because all the tanks actually play very differently and this leads to some interesting roles ... The M3 Lee is a medium tank - but plays like a tank destroyer. My SU85B is still in the garage as it makes a superb scout tank, even though its a tank destroyer. And this is what I'll go into in the next World of Tanks article.
Hi'yall, English dude here! In line with my cunning objectives, I've started on a new banner. It's more work in progress than finished articles... so let me know what you think. Any suggestions?
Furthermore, many of you may be aware that I'm English. You know, that 51st State where everyone very polite and nice and...
What the feck just happened to my country? We've got a race-war going on without a race, mass looting, shooting, knifing and other such madness. It's spamming like crazy through the youth in all the major cities like some viral sport gone mad... using Blackberries (and their secure networks) to circumvent the Police ... IT is mad as the UK is generally a fairly laid back and tolerant place.
There's a strong "We brought it on ourselves!" in the media, but there's a growing brooding mood of "these are spoilt little shites and need packing off to a real war zone ASAP!" ...
Leaping to safety...
Teenagers are generally a bit crap when it comes to judgements. Medically, a young persons body will 'reward' risky behaviour. That's why they need boundaries, so its the parents problem - right?
One of many mornings after
Or is it TV, or more importantly Computer Games. Now I'm not saying that Dune2 or SystemShock2 or Mario was the slippery slope. But loafers with nothing to do can quite happily hone their skills (and kills) in Call of Duty Modern Warfare all day. Working tactics, assimilating options and building 'skills'. The most important one being the WoW or GTA, "fuck you I'm breaking, burning and stealing everything in sight."
ChaCHing ... 300pts!
Large boot on head required now.
Teenagers have always been little shits, that's why they need stamping on. Repeatedly. In a like for like copycat fashion.
But when privileged children in 'hardship' are making the local gypsy kids look like paragons and the only 'families' earning respect and chasing off the looters in London are the Muslims and the Sikhs... something is really really weird.
The growth of the Asian impact on Western culture can be really felt over the last few years. I for one am stunned at the sheer number of Chinese students who now fill British Universities, from Imperial College to the University of Northampton, they are funded to the gills and ready to learn.
In the Edinburgh Fringe, they are talking about the advent of a Chinese cultural revolution with lavish productions of Shakespeare remade with Taoist philosophy .... remarkable.
The impact of the Chinese will grow exponentially over the next twenty years as they continue to exploit the one thing the Russian never had ... lots and lots of Cash.
Want to know where the vast majority of the US debt got spent, look no further than China. They have vast reserves of foreign currency build up over thirty years of "Made in China". The trade deficit to China is extraordinary. Hence why 100,000's of Chinese students can study abroad (and work really hard and all go home too) and why the London Olympics will be a small fart next to the extravagant and elegant trumpeting flatulence of the Beijing Olympics.
My background however? Well I used to live in Japan, speak Japanese and subsequently I still relish in their different type of Orientalism.
I went their in 1996. By the time I came back, Princess Diana was dead and Tony Blair had "won a really big erection!". It was the end of the epoch of Japanese hegemony in the world. Soon, large back would fall and a decade prior to Leman Brothers, Japan was mired in a corrupt and oligarchic credit crunch.
But back then ... it was so cool.
I went to high school everyday and lived with host families and learnt the lingo. Made friends, fell in love, you know the pattern. I nearly took a scholarship to Kyoto Daigaku (University) to study Japanese full time. Girlfriends, regrets etc. Nah.
The reason for all this, well I watched Rick Stein's superb documentary on Japanese Food on the BBC IPlayer and was enthralled. There are very few ways to get a glimpse into Japanese life, and this program really succeeded. The closeness and the culture are there in authentic spades and it was a real treat.
It also avoided anyone getting dressed up as a samurai, ninja or other such crap.
Want to know about the Japanese, understand their Food. I even found Rick Stein's observations directly mirroring my own. Stand out television.
Haven't been to a game store in 8 weeks - GASP! Haven't done any painting or played a game in a while either... everything is kinda on hold. Why ...?
Well I done gorne fell off the wagon, didn't I?
No I haven't become an alcoholic, despite my many and varied attempts. I've simply stepped away from war-gaming for the moment. I'll come back, I just need a break. Rather than whitter on about my lack of any progress, I've decided to post about what I've been doing in the meantime...
What I've been playing ... World of Tanks
Be afraid people. This game is a seriously addictive ride and as one commentator said ... people just don't leave. After the last update I've upgraded my fleet extensively and now have 9 tanks ... 3 medium's including the M4 Sherman and the M4 'easy eight', 2 russian tank hunters including the lush SU-85. My Leopard and Luch still bring me some fun games, and a level 4 B2 german heavy is a right laugh. Finally, I just purchased an SU-26 ... which is rubbish and tinpot - but good fun for an SPG.
...and why do you play?
Let me paint a picture for you. I'm loading up in an SU85 tank, I'm playing 'Cliff' - which is one of the many well designed maps for WoT's. Look at the map below ... it has a gulley running along the whole western side of the map, a plateau (overlooking the gulley) in the middle and a eastern mountain flank. Being a great big gun on a fairly average platform, I position myself at the mouth of the western gulley and await anyone stupid enough to walk up that way ... defence defence.
Unknown to me, the entire opposing side have decided to rush the western route. As such, within moments I've spotted me a juicy big KV to take a hole out of. I do. I sitting in a little courtyard surrounded by 3 farm houses, giving me some line of sight blocking terrain. Boy do I need it. The next moment the KV bank east, avoiding my further fire. However, my shooting has given my position away and I'm suddenly the primary target for the whole rush. In less than 2 minutes a total of 5 medium tank and tank hunters attempt to take me down.
Now tank hunters have frontally fixed guns, so close up dogfights just ain't their thing as they are just too easy to get behind.
Without even thinking, I'm moving and firing, moving and firing - avoiding incoming SPG rounds, and popping enemy tanks. The buildings give them cover but forces them to try to coordinate their attacks, giving me time to take them on one by one.
I'm punching holes left right and centre, getting ricochet warnings from my crew and killing for all I'm worth. After a minute, it goes quiet. I'm shattered, at 40% health - but with 5 kills to my name. I text the other players to go on without me as I'm physically shaking.
After a minute to gather myself I start to follow the rest of the team towards the enemy base and the remaining few opponents. I'd killed the majority of the 'rush', allowing the rest of the team to gang up on the two KV's (no mean feat, but I'd knocked one down to half strength).
As we move towards the enemy base, I tag along behind a medium tank. I'm just thinking 'Oh, it would be really typical if the enemy hid right there in front of me' when out pops a hiding SU-26, moving up to take a rear shot on the medium.
I BOOM ... 6 kills.
Then out there somewhere is the last opponent. Out of nowhere a Panzer 3 come haring down the hill. He shoots at me and missing, he fills my aim reticle as I fire AND MISS ... WTF? He charges down the hill and rams me, I explode - but he explodes too! Seven kills.
I had to go lie down after that one.
Other past-times ... reading.
I'm a voracious fantasy and sci-fi reader and thoroughly well versed in all manner of readership. My latest treat has come as a pleasure and a joy...
Joe Abercrombie has written an instant classic in the First Law Trilogy. He handles the story seemlessly, making light work of unfamiliar territory through some brilliant story telling. Alike to all the best Fantasy and Scifi writers, Abercrombies real talent is in character writing, as it through these characters that you believe in their environment, surroundings and the evolution of the story.
Here's a taster of the sort of characters he brings to the table:
Inquisitor Glotka: Previously a dashing and arrogant noble cavalry captain, Sand Glotka is captured by the Gurkish (read turkish) army and tortured for years, he is now a heartless and bitter cripple working as their most brutal inquisitor and torturer. Despite the pain and nastiness he doles out, Sand is just the right side of a villain. As the plot thickens and his own lack of morals take a toll, he starts to rediscover his humanity. But what use would that be in a game of intrigue and death. As Glotka would say, "the thing about pain, is that it is a very selfish pursuit."
Logan Nine-fingers "The Bloody Nine": Logan is the most 'feared man in the North' and a Viking-esque brute he is too. Smart and brutal as he is ugly. Logan's internal dialogue in at odds with his external appearance and abilities. A man of considerable talents and very very good at killing people, Logan holds a dirty secret close to himself. A man who is both haunted by his past and in fear of it. An intelligent man coming to terms with the brutal acts of his youth and their consequences.
And what I've been watching...
Caught Flashpoint on the telly the other day. As an historical kung-fu buff this was a refreshing change of pace away from both JC and the China Jet Li historical epic. It's brutal and very violent, but some of the martial arts is extraordinary. Donnie Yen is particularly cool and the film seems to end with the moral of "Why should authorities bother with the law when you can beat a criminal to death ... saves on paperwork."
And who am I following...
Worth a look is http://www.pornokitsch.com/. This is the best collection of 1980's sci-fi and fantasy films, books etc. The writing style is genius and a very very funny collection they are, in particular the analysis of the Hobbit and Flash Gordon stand out for me.