Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
My gaming status

My gaming life happens on several independent parallel levels: On the most long-term level, I have been playing tabletop role-playing games, mostly Dungeons & Dragons, for nearly 40 years now. That is currently at a frequency of about one D&D session per week, either as DM or player. On the most short-term level I play a bunch of mobile games, usually just for a few days or weeks before I move on to the next game. In between there are two other levels, my console games and my PC games. I only have a Nintendo Switch console right now, and I mostly use it during my summer holidays, so not much activity there. On the PC I have been playing World of Tanks almost exclusively since Christmas. Of course I also use the PC for D&D preparation, and 3D printing.

In World of Tanks I am currently concentrating on heavy tanks, with the goal of researching all tanks of the Russian tech tree. Right now I have one tank line already at tier X, two at tier IX, and two at tier VIII. The general idea is to also get better at playing heavy tanks in World of Tanks, but it isn't so easy to just even measure performance. Various mods that do that only show me that my performance is very inconsistent. This weekend I managed a campaign mission which I frankly thought was beyond me, as it required dealing 20% of all damage of your team, which is three times the average. But those good results are usually achieved when I am top tier.

As a bottom tier heavy tank, I am not doing so well. It happens frequently that I either advance too much and get shot to pieces in no time, or I don't advance fast enough, and my team wins without me getting a shot in. I have a bunch of games at bottom tier where I landed either no or just one or two hits. One problem is meeting enemy tanks of higher tier head on, and not being able to penetrate their armor at all. So a typical result might be me having fired 9 shots, hit 7 of them, and then having only zero or one penetrations. Yesterday I played that a bit differently, by using HE ammo in situations like this, which increases the number of times I actually deal damage, but then each shot only deals little damage, and the overall WN8 score still isn't good.

I've been looking on YouTube for advice on playing bottom tier, but I have a strong suspicion that the replays shown are not representative at all. People only post "bottom tier" videos if they miraculously managed an excellent result as bottom tier, they don't show their average games. That does happen to me too, but I haven't managed to find a strategy that would guarantee me some sort of minimum result in terms of damage / WN8. The fundamental problem is that the outcome of a battle in World of Tanks is very much determined by how many and which tanks of each team decide to go left or right, and human behavior in a group can be extremely random and unpredictable. If you want to learn the phrase "I am bottom tier again, and my team is full of idiots" in multiple European languages, World of Tanks EU battle chat is the place to go.

I have a few other PC games installed, for example Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, which I picked up for cheap as part of a Humble Bundle monthly. But I haven't even started playing. It is not just that the current "main game" is holding all of my interest. There is also a definitive "barrier to entry" preventing me from switching games too often: When I come home after a long day at work, I don't have the energy to learn a new complicated game. It is much more comfortable to stick to the game you know well for some time.


> When I come home after a long day at work,
> I don't have the energy to learn a new
> complicated game. It is much more comfortable
> to stick to the game you know well for some time.

I'm on the same boat. This is why at 44 I am not a "competitive" gamer anymore. I don't have the physical time to spend on games to a point where I could be considered competitive. But I still have some spare time to "enjoy some fun gaming sessions". This is the ideal scenario for games that don't have a steep learning curve and can also let you play short/fast sessions.

I recently came across The Witcher III because I managed to grab it for a mere $14 offer with all the DLC's included. Well, that's a perfect game for someone like me, because missions are quite fast and you can either focus on the main storyline or wander around and clear waypoints/sidequests. On top of that you get great dialogues, a good story and beautiful places to explore.

Being able to play at my own peace without any "performance/leveling" stress is a good thing.
From your recent posts on World of Tanks Tobold I get the impression that you aren't really enjoying the game and yet you are still playing. Is there enough good stuff to balance out the bad?
When you come out of a battle like the one I described above, where I did 20% of my team's damage, it feels absolutely fantastic. I feel as if I had made tactical decisions that worked out, and prevailed against my opponents. There are a lot of fun moments, like when you decided to try a risky move, and completely surprised an opponent with it.

The problem is more that you go into the next battle with similar tactics and decisions, and the next time it doesn't work out at all, which makes the result feel a bit random.

Beyond the question of performance and success, World of Tanks appeals very much to me due to its structure: A battle is at most 15 minutes, and often enough over in 5 minutes. Queue waiting times are short, and you don't need any specific commitment to a guild / clan to play most of the content of the game. There are enough different maps and different tanks to allow for an endless variation.

My quest for better performance and consistency is purely personal struggle. The game doesn't actually require me to play at a certain level, or to become better, in order to access new content or new tanks. I could simply uninstall the mods that measure WN8 and not bother trying to improve my game, and I would still slowly climb up through the tech trees. I really like that in a game, it is a bit like a good MMORPG, which allows you to set your own goals. Maybe I'm killing some of my enjoyment by being bad at setting myself achievable goals, but that isn't World of Tank's fault.
I wonder if you are looking for something that doesn't exist. In a PvP game, there are seldom strategies that are "guaranteed" to produce a certain result. Especially the type of game you are describing where there are different people jumping in and out and different combinations of tank levels involved. Your lower tier tank sounds like it is the knife at a gun fight. Sure, it can inflict some damage under the right circumstances and maybe someone who is highly skilled can actually do well with it, but, unless you are really committed to training with it extensively, you results probably will come down to luck more than strategy.
Good for you though in trying hardcore mode (i.e. using under-powered equipment) in PvP.
> When I come home after a long day at work, I don't have the energy to learn a new complicated game.

This is what held me playing Overwatch and Hearthsthone without trying new stuff for almost two years. When I realized I'm basically experiencing the same thing again and again, I've decided to overcome this lull of familiarity. It was painfully hard at first, but now, when the habit is formed, it regularly nets me a lot of wonderful experience.
I'm not sure that WN8 is the best tool for improving your game. Like all meters, you start to play to the meter instead of choosing the best course of action to win the game.

WN8 is a glorified damage meter, and just like Skada or Recount in World of Warcraft, players caught up on the meters will do things that harm the team's chance of success while improving their own numbers in the meter.

For instance in WoW, standing in the fire unmoving while casting, forcing healers to expend resources on them.

Or in WoT, top tier tanks sniping from the backline leaving their fellow heavies outnumbered. As was said elsewhere, such behaviour in a real war would see them shot for cowardice.

And just as we wouldn't measure a healer's contribution to a fight by their DPS, it's not really good to measure a scout's contribution by the damage it did.

But when all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.
Have you ever tried Darkest Dungeon? I think you’d like it, but I’m not sure if you already wrote about it one way or the other. The iPad version is pretty solid, and occasionally quite cheap.
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