Tobold's Blog
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Coronavirus made me buy the Battle Pass

Do not think that I take the coronavirus and the possibility of a global pandemic with accompanying recession lightly. But the fact is that up to now there are 154,800 people infected, 5,762 people dead, but hundreds of millions of people affected by a coronavirus-induced change of lifestyle. In my case that means working from home for probably a few weeks, and cancelling a lot of business travel. With the somewhat weird effect that over the past and coming weeks, there will be hours which I would ordinarily have spent travelling or driving to or from work, which I will now spend at home. While there is a very real possibility of me falling ill, or even dying, and my net worth diminished significantly due to the stock market crash, in the quality of life department I would say that my situation improved. A pandemic is never good news, but it helps to look for a silver lining.

Not only has my work/life balance improved towards the life side, the coronavirus also affects what I do with my free hours. I will spend less time meeting with friends and doing activities that require groups of people at the same location, like playing Dungeons & Dragons. And I will spend more time at home, playing on the computer. And that affects how much time I can plan to spend playing World of Tanks, and how I see the Battle Pass.

First of all it turns out that I was wrong believing that you need to be both time-rich and money-rich to get the full Battle Pass rewards. What I hadn't seen before is that you can actually buy stages of the Battle Pass for money. And you can do that at the end, so if you are a few stages short of the final goal, you can buy that. Second, I probably won't even need to do that. An hour more per day playing World of Tanks will probably be sufficient for me to get to the 45th and last stage. It is day 4 of the Battle Pass, and I'll reach stage 6 today. Okay, that is with the added progress from the weekend, but overall 45 stages in 90 days doesn't appear all that daunting anymore.

The hardest thing was having to leave my World of Tanks comfort zone. It is a lot more fun to play at a tier where you are at least average or above, compared to the other players. But the Battle Pass is skewed towards higher tiers, so I have been playing a lot of tier 9 and some tier 10 tanks. That is probably too high for me, especially all those battles where my tier 9 tanks faces tier 10 opponents who are both better players than I am, and have tanks with much better stats. But one of the "featured" tanks of the Battle Pass is the Object 277, a tier 10 tank I don't have, but I do have the T-10 tier 9 tank leading towards it. So right now, grinding some tier 9 tanks makes sense, even if that means that I don't reliably finish in the top 10 in each battle, and thus make less points for the Battle Pass. The alternative is dropping down in tiers, but to get any points you need to play at least tier 6, and a tier 6 tank can overall only get 100 points, while the Object 277 can get 1,000.

The good news is that while the high tiers are a lot harder, I still do reasonably okay. That is to say that my win rate and WN8 rating still go up. In other words, the skill I gained by playing World of Tanks often over the last 15 months makes up for the higher difficulty. If there would be a stat reset, my stats would look better, they are being held down by the thousands of battles I played when I was still playing less well.


It's a shame the way we tend to optimise the fun out of games by picking easy battles.
You are only seeing half of the equation. Sure, you can reduce fun out of games by picking battles that are too easy for your skills. But you also can reduce fun out of games by picking battles that are too hard.

I did some testing around the Battle Pass and Tankrewards events going on in World of Tanks now, both of which require you to come in among the top 10 of your team of 15. Which is basically a "don't suck" requirement. However, at tier 6 it takes me on average 12 games to fulfil the top 10 condition 10 times; at tier 9 it takes me on average 16 games to fulfil the top 10 condition 10 times. I would argue that I have far more fun at tier 6, because it still is challenging enough, and I get few games in which I am completely useless. At tier 9 the game is a lot less fun, because not only do you not fulfil the mission condition if you come in bottom 5, but the battle also was extremely unfun, because you didn't get to do anything useful.
Well, I was thinking more of single-player games, to be honest. It's easy to get in a rut of playing the optimum team just to gain some increment of progress. But why progress? Why not have fun with the options you have?

The mechanism you describe doesn't sound healthy. If someone is doing support / spotting, how does the game assess their contribution?
The game counts the damage you do as well as the damage you "assist". So if you support by immobilizing an enemy tank, or spot him so other can shoot him from a distance, you get assist points. It is perfectly possible to reach top 10 xp in your team while mostly fulfilling a support/spot role, and just doing a bit of damage near the end of the battle.

Note that while the game itself does a reasonably good job assessing your support/spot contribution, the third party WN8 score does not.
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