Expensive lessons in motorcycling.

In July of 2013 I traded in my Road Glide Special for a Honda F6B. I was a bit frustrated with how the RGS performed, and what it needed to turn it into a proper touring bike. I was under the remarkably wrong impression that a motorcycle advertised in the “touring” section of the model lineup would be perfectly fit for long distance touring as purchased. That was mistake #1. After taking the Honda on my Upper Peninsula tour, it was obvious I had made mistake #2. Both of these were mostly my fault, and I’ll explain how to not make the same mistakes I made. This is going to be long, but I’m going to have to step back to the beginning to make proper sense of it all.

In the spring of 2012 I decided I wanted to get back into motorcycling. I hadn’t ridden since 2001, and lost my motorcycle endorsement when my Texas drivers license wouldn’t transfer to Indiana (It transferred just find THERE mind you). In the United States, there’s a huge HD following. It’s a life and culture all it’s own, and I’ll get to more of that later. The first time I took a motorcycle endorsement class it was hosted by the state, on tiny little (100cc?) bikes. I really wanted to take the class on a bigger bike, something more like what normal people ride. HD classes seemed like the perfect fit.  You rode a medium 500cc Buell cruiser type bike. It really gives you a better feel on how a typical motorcycle will handle. It was more expensive, but I strongly recommend their riders edge course. The class I took was 3 hours a day, for 5 days. Despite the class happening during one of the hottest streaks of weather we’ve ever had in Indiana, everybody in the class still had a great time.

When it came to picking out a motorcycle I knew I wanted a HD. I also knew I wanted to tour the US, with my wife (she didn’t agree with this part). My first thought was to buy a Sporster. Small, cheap(er), easy to customize, and the Nightster model was new and exciting. Well, I learned pretty quickly that the Sportster wasn’t the right bike for my touring two-up aspirations. The salesman confirmed my thoughts. More than 50% of folks that buy a Sportster come back within 18 months for a bigger bike. If you are going to tour, you need to carry stuff. Saddlebags are almost mandatory, so it’s a short jump in the selection process to get to the “touring” models. Baggers are also hot right now. They are touring bikes, with bags, usually lowered, larger front wheels, and heavily customized.

The Road King Classic spoke to me visually. I test drove it and loved it. It was freaking huge compared to my old Kawasaki Vulcan, but once moving it didn’t feel so big anymore. The rumble of the exhaust, the impeccable paint, the leather saddlebags, wow what a bike. Sat on the one I wanted in White Hot Pearl, gave them a deposit check, and went home to think about it more. Here I am (also at my heaviest weight.. another post sometime) on the Road King Classic ready to sign the loan papers and fulfill my dreams of the wind in my hair… ok, maybe not so much in the hair.

Harley

When I returned the next day the salesman asked if I had every ridden the Street Glide or the Road Glide.  They had larger fairings, gauges, and *gasp* radios.  I said no, and he set me up with some test rides. I immediately didn’t like the Street Glide. It felt a bit claustrophobic, and I know that sounds weird, but the fairing seemed right up in my face. However when I road on the Road Glide, I really appreciated that radio, and that you could lock the saddlebags, something you couldn’t do with the leather bag on the Classic. All of my test rides to that point, were less than 45 mph on a little winding road through an industrial park. That was the mistake right before mistake #1, sure that makes sense. I decided I really liked the Road Glide, and it wasn’t the most popular model so I saw less of them.  Deal. Sign the papers, hope on board and drive the below beauty home.

 

2012 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special

 

On the way home, I get my first taste of interstate riding. Whoa, that’s a bit different than the test drive. 70 mph generates a lot of wind buffeting that you just don’t feel at 45. Like I said, my mistake. For my daily riding, you pretty much have to get on the interstate to go anywhere, it’s Indiana, things are kind of sprawled out between the corn fields. So what’s a fella to do? Throw money at it dammit. So I did. That tiny stupid black “windscreen” was the first to go with a 8″ recurve model. That helped, but the big problem is the wind coming from just past the front wheel and rushing up to the face. This causes a lot of head bobble and eye shaking that’s fine for a little bit, but compounds fatigue on longer rides.  This bike was made for bar hopping, and cruising around town. Yes it CAN tour, but it’s not ready to.  It was also hotter than Hades. Those heads and exhaust headers snap crack and pop with heat.  That heat transferred up to the passenger over long rides.

I was frustrated, and instead of spending the money turning the Road Glide Special into a Road Glide Limited, I turned to another bike. The Honda, affectionately known as mistake #2.

Honda Goldwing F6B GL1800bdd

So what issues that I had did the Honda fix?

  1. Wind buffeting, at least after I replaced the tiny useless windscreen. Your legs sit behind the fairing completely, and that really makes a difference in how long you can comfortably ride in a day.  Weather is only a suggestion.
  2. Power.  Basically it doubled the horsepower, the engine is just fantastic. The flat six is extremely balanced, and sits the weight very low. I could corner with this bike probably 50% faster than the HD, and it felt safer.
  3. Heat. I never once felt hot because of the engine. The fans blow hot air away from the rider when stopped, and it worked fantastic.
  4. The “cockpit” of the bike is very cool and airplane like. The black Honda felt a little like an imaginary SR-71, and I liked it a lot. It looked a bit old and dated, but still pretty cool.
  5. Jen thought the passenger seat was much more comfortable. It’s larger, and had built in grab handles. This pleased her, but still didn’t make her want to ride with me.

What issues did the Honda not fix or introduce?

  1. Lack of Cruise Control. Seems minor right? Well after 8 hours of riding and holding the throttle open at 70 mph will show you otherwise. I can’t believe they left Cruise Control off a Goldwing.
  2. Paint was horrible. You would scratch it just looking at it. From what I understand it was a water based paint, and it just has no protection. It looked horrible after just 1k miles.
  3. Radio was really bad compared to the HD. I’m not sure if it was just underpowered, or not projected perfectly, but it just didn’t work past 40 mph.
  4. Exhaust sound. If you like a good exhaust rumble, this doesn’t have it.  Was that a deal breaker, of course not.
  5. No ABS. Again, what the hell is Honda thinking?
  6. HD rage. Typically motorcyclists wave at each other out of respect as they pass each other. On this, I’d occasionally be flipped off. Once or twice I’d just write it off, but it happened way more than that.
  7. The Key drama. It required a key to start, and to open the saddlebags. After coming from the key fob of the HD, this was a royal pain in the ass.
  8. The dealer I bought it from is no longer in business. Sure the warranty was good at other dealerships, but this was still troubling.

After I took the Honda on my Upper Peninsula trip I knew the lack of Cruise Control was a problem. It’s just stupid to not have it on a bike like this. Sure enough the 2015 model gets Cruise as standard, 2 years too late. Frustratingly I was still unhappy with the long distance performance. The normal Goldwing is an amazing bike with a huge amount of customer support. Long distance riders will tell you it’s the cadillac of touring bikes, and it’s true. It just didn’t work for me. It’s not you, it’s me, but it’s mostly you.

During my vacation on the Honda, Harley-Davidson announces Project Rushmore. The touring models get massive changes, and just so happens they are addressing most of my major complaints.

  1. Improved wind buffeting by 20% with the slipstream vent. Check.
  2. More power, still not as good as the Honda, but better. Check.
  3. Liquid Cooled Heads, more cooling, allowing higher compression and more power. Check.
  4. Infotainment center with GPS navigation. Welcome to 2014.
  5. Passenger comfort, complete redesign making it wider, deeper, and have more legroom. Check.
  6. A bunch of other nice little things.  One touch design, everything can be operated by one hand. LED headlight and tail lights, linked ABS brakes, and more storage area.

Well shit, they fixed Harley-Davidson. Of course it happens 6 months after I buy the Honda. I’ve got that kind of timing perfected. There’s only so long I could wait before I went down to the dealership and looked at one. The changes really make a huge difference. Jen was furious with me, but this time I was getting a proper tourer, not something that half-assed it.

2014Limited

I bought a Limited in Amber Whiskey and Brilliant Silver. Lower fairings, passenger “throne”, tour pack, dual cooled engine, the whole nine yards, and price to match. When I first rode a Street Glide I felt claustrophobic, what changed?  I don’t know, but it felt fine. I imagine the Honda was slightly closer than the Road Glide, and over time it just got normal. I’m still in the honeymoon phase with the purchase, so naturally anything out of me is glowing praise still. I did a 250 mile ride with it a couple days ago, and it performed great. The tour pack holds so much, it’s like a gigantic bag of holding. I’m seriously surprised how much I can get in there. I’m going to put it to the test in October. 2500 miles down to Texas and back through a bunch of National Forests. I can’t wait to leave. Do I finally have the bike I tried to buy 3 times now? I sure hope so, but time will tell.

In the end, here’s my advice for avoiding these costly mistakes.

  1. Think about what riding you are actually going to do, not what you dream about doing. What conditions are you really going to be riding 98% of the time.
  2. Make sure your test ride is with your normal riding gear, and in a variety of conditions. Interstate, highways, slow speeds, twisty turns, stops, hills, and anything else you will normally ride everyday. Maximize this drive.
  3. If the test ride isn’t enough, try renting a bike for a weekend. Yeah, it isn’t cheap. You know what else isn’t cheap? Buying the wrong bike.
  4. Don’t buy a stripped down bike if you just plan on buying everything to add back to it. Accessories aren’t cheap, and often cost more than the fully equipped bike.
  5. If you are riding in America, on paved roads, there’s a good chance a Harley-Davidson is going to be on your short list. If not, it should be. The Rushmore changes cannot be underestimated.
  6. If you want a passenger, you better make them as comfortable as humanly possible. Comfort builds trust.

TL;DR Buy big Harley, make friends, get wind in face.

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Touring the UP with a Honda

Back in August of 2013 I did a little road trip that I never posted about. Mostly because I thought I had lost all my photos. Luckily I recovered them recently. So how about a little story?

I talked my Uncle Harv to come up and do a tour with me. He had just turned his Harley-Davidson Super Glide into a trike, and man was it a sweet looking bike. He drove up to Indianapolis from Texas, a little over a thousand miles.

We talked about a route, but he doesn’t like to make plans more than a day ahead. He’s more of a plan as he rides kinda guy. And uh… I’m not. I laid out my plan to ride through several National Forests, and talked him into following me.

Roughly 2600 miles up through the UP, around Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior, Canadian Border, through Minnesota, and down through Iowa to visit my sister. We had 10 days, and a pretty damn nice weather forecast.

I don’t know why I set upon trying to visit the National Forests along the way. I just really like forests, camping, outdoors stuff, and thought it’d be nice. I was right. For starters, a proper ride through them gets me off the interstate. Slow down, take a look, enjoy the damn ride. Much less traffic, often shady with cooler temps, lots of wildlife (good and bad), and the wonderful old growth forests. After the first few, I made a challenge to myself to ride through them all. No small challenge of course, there’s 155 of them. *gasp*

So here’s a flikr set of the forests I drove through on the trip. I checked a few off the list.  Superior was my favorite, it was downright cold up there, 45F in the last week of August. You could tell a major difference in the forest, evergreens instead of deciduous trees. Ottawa was very similar.

The trip was pretty uneventful.  We did get rained on pretty hard once, and it was freaking chilly up near Canada, but it was great. The best ride of the trip was up 61 along the northern coast of Lake Superior. It’s just gorgeous.

The trip down to Iowa was all interstate. It’s terribly boring on the interstate, but we did stop at a casino with a dedicated snowmobile / motorcycle parking area.  Life has to be a little tougher wherever snowmobiles make good financial sense.

All along the trip I had been making fun of Iowa. “Who in the world would want to live in Iowa?” Well, when I got there I stopped joking about it.  Yeah, it’s flat, hot, dusty farmland, but it was gorgeous. Miles and miles of beautiful skies and nice smooth roads.

My uncle and I split ways in Iowa, saving him 1300 miles from heading to my house first.  He headed home to Texas, and I headed back to Indianapolis. Interstate the whole way…. boo. But I spent 10 days away from home and the wife needed me to save her from the kids.  A great trip overall, and would recommend it anytime… as long as it’s summer.

I’ll talk about the bike and it’s performance in another post.

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WoT: KV-1S OP or not to OP…

I’m always morally opposed to playing what’s considered OP tanks, it’s a silly mental thing. So when Wargaming recently said they are going to split the KV-1S into two tanks, I thought I needed to get a few games with it before it’s trashed just to get the OP experience. And yeah, it’s OP as hell. Being able to one shot Tier 5’s and below is pretty dumb, and most tanks are just exp piñatas waiting you to harvest the tears. After 120 games in it my win rate is over 59%. Combine the amazing alpha damage, high mobility for a heavy, a decent health pool and you have the recipe for a pub stomper tank. Even in the occasional Tier 8 game it gets into, I’m a threat because of the alpha damage. It’s a really good tank, too damn good. I’ll probably play it a few more times until the tank is nerfed, but until then…. many tears.

kv-1s_mastery1 kv-1s_mastery2 kv-1s_mastery3

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WoT: T110E3, Hail to the King baby…

Second game after purchasing, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

I love… *GRUNT/DROOL/SCREAM* love this tank already. 8400 damage done and 12k potential? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *breathe* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

T110E3_1 T110E3_2 T110E3_3

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WoT: T95, The Doom Turtle

The T95 is the Tier 9 Tank Destroyer in the non-turreted American line. I can’t tell you how much I looked forward to this tank. I remember when I first started playing World of Tanks I was researching tanks via Google. Consuming and absorbing as much knowledge as possible to combat my monomania. I came across the Twitch streamer QuickyBaby, and it was awesome that I could watch an excellent player actually play the game on live tv. I watched him play several tanks and when he selected the T95 I instantly fell in love. The tank was cool as hell. Two pairs of tracks, low profile, big ass gun, practically invincible from the front. When people saw him coming, they ran away. To my noobie eyes, that looked like incredible power. Just watch this video and try not to fall in love with this badass.

Flash forward several months and I’m done grinding the tank. Boy did I get more than I ever imagined. Lets look at this glorious monster in more Halloween themed glory. Low, slow, and powerful.

t95

The Good… 

  1. The top 155mm gun will put a little fear into everyone.
  2. The camo combined with the low profile works very well.
  3. The frontal armor is extremely good.
  4. You can absolutely dominate a flank even when solo. DOMINATE.
  5. Everybody loves the Doom Turtle. Often allies will try to help you by pushing you at the beginning of the game. It won’t work, but they will try their little hearts out.

The Bad…

  1. Slowest tank in the game, so very painfully slow.
  2. 66.5k exp to grind that top gun, takes a while.
  3. Again, just like the tank before this, you are an arty magnet. 3 or more arty in a match will make you just walk away from the computer. 

Normally I grind a tank until I get a Mastery Badge Ace Tanker and have enough exp to unlock the next tank. This tank I got to 100 matches played, and that was as much sanity I was willing to part with at this time. Really the only problem I had with this tank is the speed. It takes FOREVER to get into position. I can’t stress enough how much time you waste every match just moving. From the start of the match you better hold down the W key. If you stop, you’ll always be out of position, and never shooting. Yes, the gun is great, the armor is amazing, you just can’t get it to the fight 50% of the time. The whole review of this tank, is basically that. Great tank, can’t get it to the fight half of the time. 

Lets look at a couple different sets of stats. The first is from Garbad, an extremely good player from -G- clan, and then my own. Of note, Garbad laid down a challenge to play 100 games in the T95. He quit after 25 games, and he was probably the smarter man for it. Overall I’m pretty happy with what I was able to do with it in comparison. He’s got a lot of experience and game knowledge I don’t yet.

T95stats_garbad T95_stats

 

I’m not going to go into too much detail on the stats. I did the grind with the tank 90% solo, and it’s not a solo tank. It needs help, lots of help. Needs spots, assistance from light tank flankers, and teammates that aren’t gigantic sissies.

I have a knack for picking very temperamental tanks. Much like the S-51 Soviet SPG, this tank is either glorious or completely frustrating, but you aren’t the one who gets to pick. To play this tank you need to pick a map position you want to dominate at the start of the game and start praying.

  1. Pray that some enemies will go there.
  2. Pray that your teammates don’t steamroll the flank before you arrive.
  3. Pray that when the enemies see you, they don’t turn around and leave.

You’ll need to resort to being a bush wookie base camper on some maps. Like Komarin for example. Your speed dictates that you can’t get to the far flank, you sure as hell can’t go mid as a front fixed cannon TD. Best bet is to get in a bush and let the reds make a mistake. Other maps seem made for you, such as Pearl River. That bridge choke is yours, no shits given. No matter the map, distance is your best friend. It’s extremely hard to snipe your weak spots from range, so you will rack up steel wall medals if you are able to keep a bit of distance. El Halluf is a great example, snipe from range and return fire from anything but SPG’s will not concern you too much.

For equipment on the tank I ran a toolbox, vents, and a gun rammer. You will get tracked constantly, so being able to get the tracks back up in 3 seconds with a 100% repair crew is pretty awesome. You’ll be able to get more shots off on people trying to do a tracking retreat. With the current lack of artillery in the game I think it makes more sense than the super heavy spall liner. If we start regularly start seeing 3+ arty in game, it’ll be time to reexamine that decision. For consumables during the grind I used the standard small repair kit, first aid kit, and fire extinguisher. I’ve since removed the fire extinguisher and added a large repair kit. My reasoning is anything that’s behind you setting you on fire is probably going to kill you. I get set on fire a lot less than I get damaged modules from jerks shooting HE at me because they can’t pen. Plus the extra 10% repair speed from an equipped large repair kit is awesome.

As to crew skills, I can’t stress how important repairs are, you will be tracked constantly, and you don’t have the time to sit there. On the commander I have 6th sense, brothers in arms, and repair. Other crew members have brothers in arms, camo, and repair. Camo works surprisingly well on this tank despite it’s large size. The low profile keeps it well hidden.

I rage sold the tank right at 100 games when I had enough exp to unlock the T110E3. I did not enjoy the solo grind at all. There was a lot of self created pressure to get the E3, and you just can’t rush the T95. I repurchased the tank a few days later, played 4 games and had a blast. I love the tank, I really do. Accept it’s flaws, embrace them (that speeds isn’t going to get you out in front and killed first!), and learn to dominate slowly. You will bully Tier 9 games, and be a sniper in Tier 10’s. Hold a flank with distance and collect tears. You’ll need them when the Tier 5 ELC gets behind you and solos you over the course of 2 minutes. I now have a dedicated crew for the tank, and it will have a permanent spot in my garage.

The below game is a nice example of utilizing distance and being a bully. I went to the typically heavy lane, posted up, and let them shoot at me. Normally I like to post the Ace Tanker, but I just haven’t been able to achieve that yet. I will update when I do, and I will. Even if it kills me…. very slowly.

T-95_1st1

T-95_1st2

 

T-95_1st3

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WoT: The T28, the less Doomy Doomturtle

The T28 is the Tier 8 TD in the USA non-turreted line. It’s very similar to the T28 Prototype, except it obviously lacks the turret. What it gains in that trade off is a few slight gun improvements. Aim time is down to 2.1 from 2.3, accuracy is 0.38 down from 0.39, and you get 6.59 shots per minute vs 5.49 in the Prototype. The hard part of the T110E3 grind starts here. The previous tanks were mobile, fragile, and had hard hitting guns. But the T28 is a totally different beast. Long gone is the mobility, instead we have a decent bit of frontal armor. Thankfully the gun makes things tolerable. Here she is in all her Halloween themed glory.

T28_review

Let’s start off with the good… 

  1. The top 120mm gun is great!
  2. The camo combined with the low profile works very well.
  3. Did I mention the gun?
  4. In Tier 8 matches you can be somewhat of a bully.

The BADS…

  1. You’ll die of old age 50% of the time before you get to a firing position. The word slow just doesn’t do it justice.
  2. The grind to get to that awesome gun is a bit tedious.
  3. The crew skills you need on this TD are not the same crew skills you leveled up previously.
  4. What appears to be good frontal armor is a bit misleading.
  5. You will be an arty magnet. When you get spotted, expect to be splashed 10 seconds later.
  6. It’s very bad until all the modules are unlocked.

I’m going to be blunt, playing this TD is a bit painful. I wouldn’t recommend playing this tank at all until you’ve unlocked the first gun, tracks, and engine with free exp. It’s so incredibly slow, it’s just hard to get to good positions. You really have to pick your flank at the start of the game and commit to it. You don’t have time to reposition. In Tier 9-10 matches the enemies will burn right through your armor so you need to be very strategic and remain in the second line or even .. ug, base camp. I know, camping sucks, but this tank just doesn’t have the mobility to get back to base if you are getting capped out.  Also watch out for Ferdinands, for whatever reason every time I saw a Ferdy, I’d get two shot. They have no respect for the frontal armor those German bastards.

I’m also going to say this tank really should be platooned. You’ll get flanked a lot by annoying little shit tanks and a some help is very welcome. This is not a solo pub stomper tank by any stretch of the imagination. If you solo run, be prepared for some rage inducing moments.

The big change in crew skill for the TD happens at this tank. In Tier 7 and lower camo was your best friend, but now you should worry about repair. You’ll get tracked and flanked in the butt several times. That said I didn’t want to spend gold on retraining, so I didn’t have repairs during this grind. 6th sense, driving skills, and camo were what I had. For equipment I put on a toolbox to try and negate the lack of repairs. I also used a rammer and gun laying drive. If I had three skills with repair, I might change out the toolbox for a super heavy spall liner. Not sure, would probably test it a bit. Being able to slap the tracks back on is extremely important.

Statistics time.

T28_stats

Games Played: 152.

Victories 86 56.58% Defeats 66 43.42%, 0 Draws. I platooned for about a third of the matches. Rate seemed consistent. I started off with a 30% win rate in the first 25 games or so until I got the top gun. The 120mm makes a huge difference.

Battles survived 69 45.39%. Solid survival rate, due to not having the speed to get into trouble. 🙂

Destroyed 187 1.23 Kill Ratio. Harder to get to the battle and get kills. The gun is great, it’s getting to shoot the gun that’s the problem.

Maximum destroyed in battle 6.  One top gun.

Hit Ratio 74.36%. Pretty good, and that’s because you really need to make shots count. By the time you get to shoot the enemies may already be low health BECAUSE IT TOOK YOU 6 FREAKING MINUTES TO GET INTO POSITION.

Damage 251,417 for an 1654 average per game. Global average is 1214 per game. The 120mm has tremendous potential damage, if you can only get there.

Damage Received  122,838. Just barely past 2.0 damage ratio, should be higher. I suck.

Where this TD can shine is in Tier 8 games. You can be a bully, sit out in a lane, and shut it down. The frontal armor holds up nicely to most Tier 8 tanks, and you’ll simply out DPM heavies. This is really about the only time you will feel like you can dominate. Most other times, get your ass in a bush way in the back and snipe. Fucking bush wookie camper. But this leads to the tank I’ve literally dreamed about. On to the T95 grind,

The olde Mastery Badge Ace Tanker ftw.

T28_Mastery1T28_Mastery2T28_Mastery3

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WoT: T25 AT Review

When playing the top tiers it’s not long before you figure out you are no longer playing World of Tanks, it’s really World of Tank Destroyers. You can either quit, rage, or adapt. I rather like the strategy of this game, and I really don’t need more rage in my life. So that left adapt, and my choice is to join the TD’s and give them back a little taste. The instrument of pain and destruction I’ve chosen to pursue is the T110E3 (I like Garbad’s reviews even if he’s a ass sometimes). I had previously went up through the American TD line to the Jackson. I free exp’d through the Jackson as I didn’t want to play that tank, at least not yet. I may go back and play it at some point, but not right now. So I opened up the T25 AT at Tier 7, free exp’d the first gun and started from there. I made a bit of a mistake on my crew, but we’ll get into that later.

So first, here she is in all her glory.

T25-AT_Review

 

Let’s start off with the good… 

  1. The top gun is nice and punchy with 320 average damage and 200 average pen.
  2. It’s camo isn’t horrible…
  3. It’s pretty quick and mobile allowing you to flank on occasion.
  4. It’s has very decent gun depression.

The BADS…

  1. Armor is composed of a single layer of used soda cans.
  2. The crew skills on this TD are not the same crew skills you want on the next TD.
  3. Gold ammo is pretty expensive.

Statistics time.

T25-AT_Review_stats

 

Games Played: 69.

Victories 45 65.22%, Defeats 24 34.78%, 0 Draws. A personal best win rate for a tank over 50 games played. A lot of clan platooning has helped this stat. But I think I’ve played the tank pretty effectively.

Battles survived 31 44.93%. Very solid survival rate, I’m in the game longer doing more damage.

Destroyed 96 1.39 Kill Ratio. Still not great. Server average is 0.90 and the top player is 1.99. I should have a 1.5 ratio, but I’m still struggling with some games where I go full potato and get off one shot.

Maximum destroyed in battle 6.  Only a single top gun medal so far, but it’s more than capable of getting several more. The gun is a bit troll, but the nice alpha damage will help get kills.

Hit Ratio 70.76%. I feel this is low, and I think a lot of it is the accuracy being troll at long distances. Missing a lot of shots fully zoomed in and aimed is frustrating, but fortunately it’s not often enough to drive you crazy.

Damage 94,409 for an 1353 average per game. Global average is 862 per game, and the top player averages is 1770. I feel like I’m doing alright. Surviving longer means I’m able to shoot more, and win more.

Damage Received  40.961. Doing over twice my health in damage vs what I’m taking. This is more of the TD play style rather than my own skill though.

So all said, it’s not a terrible tank. The equipment I used was a gun rammer, binocs, and a camo net. Trying to maximize view range, camo, and shots per game. Most people are going to say the JPanther is better, and it is, but this isn’t bad. Stay in stealth as much as possible, pick off targets at range. The gun’s accuracy will troll you a few times, but it will do the job. It’s not going to prepare you for the next tank in the line, but this is a special line.  The biggest problem I have on this tank line is the crew skills. Up through the line to this tank camouflage is very important. You need to be stealthy and provide cover fire for teammates lighting targets. So like a good TD commander I trained 6th sense, clutch braking, safe stowage, and then camoflauge on everybody. When you level past this tank to the T28, camouflage takes a back seat to repairs. Repairs, and more repairs. Did I mention repairs? Because you are going to want repairs. And some repairs.  So before you move to the next tank in the line you may want to either A) grind more and raise 3rd skill in repairs, or B) retrain camouflage to repairs, then train back up camouflage when repairs is done. I think I’m picking A) now and we’ll see how long I can hold out before spending gold to retrain. 

The below game was very close with me and a 2 hp M5A1 Stuart vs 4 remaining enemy tanks. The T-150, the SU-122-44, the T25/2, and the KV-1S. I loaded premium and blew through almost all of it killing three of them on way to their base. The Stuart sacrificed himself to get the camping T-150 to turn his turret so I could get the kill and secure the game. Well played on his part, I’m glad I was able to make the shot for him.

T25-AT_Mastery1

T25-AT_Mastery2T25-AT_Mastery3

 

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WoT: Dat WN7 Rating

A very good player on the EU server rerolled a new account to try and see what’s the highest WN7 they could maintain. His in game name is LuciqueII. He’s from the Ukraine, and he streams some on Twitch on the channel theREDsu. I’m always interested in what I can learn from good players, and watching his stream is very educational. He’s currently running a 2900 WN7 which is Super (duper) Unicum level.

First lets look at what tanks are in his garage at this moment. I captured the image from his stream.

Lucique

So we have a Type 59 premium, AMX 50 100, T1 Cunningham, T71, T69, and the A-44. He also has several games with the T29 and the T32 on his account. So what can we learn from the Noobmeter stats and the garage picture?

  1. First, no Tier 10’s, or 9’s for that matter. The account only has 2.5K battles, so it’s hard to say too much at this point. It’s harder to maintain a high WN7 at Tier 10, but not sure yet if that is really the reason or if he just doesn’t have enough free exp to get there.
  2. The garage has a limited number of tanks. They are all very good tanks in their own tier. and they all play similar. Mobile, high damage, and known “good” tanks. He’s able to maintain a solid rhythm by only playing one basic type of tank. Jumping between slow armored heavies, and fast scouts or mediums I think is detrimental to developing a rhythm of positioning.
  3. Type 59 is very strong. It may not be quite as powerful as it once was, but it still is very good. He carries a lot of games in that tank.
  4. Autoloaders FTW. The tank with which he has the most games played is the AMX 50 100. Autoloaders are very strong in this game. Firepower is far stronger than armor at this current state (8.8) of balance. If you aren’t leveling an autoloader, you are gimping yourself.
  5. He primarily plays medium (and medium like) tanks. While the AMX 50 100 is technically classified as a heavy, it plays like a medium. His play style seems to be aggressively take a strong position and own it. Later in the game flank and get in easy clean up damage. His average damage is 2100, and it would be very hard to maintain that with a slow tank. That lovely clean up damage near the end of the games is a huge boost to stats.
  6. A-44 while it seems like an oddball, actually there for a reason. The new (as of 8.8) A-44 has the Tier 7 ZiS-6 107mm from the KV line of heavy tanks. It has a lovely 300 alpha damage average with great penetration. Very strong weapon for a medium tank to go along with it’s mobility.
  7. He has free exp’d most tank lines to at least Tier 5. Don’t play the bad tanks. It seems simple, and it’s not always financially possible, but to maximize stats don’t play garbage tanks.
  8. Something else he does on stream and not shown, is when he platoons he normally has his teammate chose a tank one tier lower. I think this is to try and maximize being top tier, but not completely certain.

There’s probably even more to learn and mine from the statistics. I’ll have to keep thinking and occasionally watch the stream to see how mediums are meant to be played.

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WoT: ST-I Preview…

While grinding up the Soviet KV “super” heavy line, there was always a tank that jumped out at me. The Tier 9 ST-I with it’s monstrous turret always made me look twice when I saw one on the battlefield. While it’s predecessor in the line, the KV-4, had the amazing frontal armor to hold back the swarms, it’s gun was sorely lacking in alpha damage and the baby turret at the top gave people a single target to focus on. The ST-I takes the positives and enhances them, then shakes off those negatives as well. The top gun is a Tier 10 and has an average 440 alpha damage that’s a real face puncher. The turret no longer has the obvious focal point, and is extremely bouncy. If that turret is facing you, seriously don’t bother shooting it. It’s every bit as good when hull down as the Tier 7 American T29, which is to say amazing. The hull is very bouncy as well, and really the only weak area frontally is the drivers port. Want to side scrape? Yeah it does that almost as well as it hulls down giving you many more positional options on the battlefield.

So far it’s been pretty good. I only free exp’d the first gun, and decided to grind the rest to get a feel for it. It’s terribly slow stock, I wouldn’t recommend doing it this way. The Tier 9 gun is ok at best, but the average penetration values I felt lacking to hit the heavily armored targets I was typically up against. It took me about 75 battles to grind all the upgrades (mostly solo 50% WR not great), and it feels a lot better. I wish my crew was a little further along. They are at 145% or so now. As usual repair is extremely powerful when trying to sidescrape. I seem to catch fire a little more often that I’d like, so firefighting or BiA is going to be next skill. For equipment I’m using a gun rammer, vents, and gun laying drive.

Now that it’s fully upgraded it’s time for it’s true test. I’m excited to collect some more Steel Wall medals…

ST-I_Review

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WoT: Where do we go from here?

Tier 10 is a bit of an odd place. It seems Tier 9 is pretty well balanced, and then all shits were not given when it was time to balance Tier 10. The TD’s have insane alpha damage, and then burst on top of that. It’s extremely dangerous to move through any open space w/o someone spotting for you. Try and charge a flank? Ha… no. Have to play everything much slower, less risks, way more campy. Wait for the enemy to make a mistake rather than you try and make them do the same. I’m pretty apprehensive driving my T110E5, not that I’m doing poorly (winning 55%), but I occasionally still make mistakes. At Tier 10 those mistakes are worth thousands of HP’s and your game can be over in seconds.

Reddit hosted a WoT Unicum player AMA last Saturday. I threw out a question that I pretty much figured out myself, but wanted verification.

Reddit AMA

This game is about firepower. Armor, while nice if it accompanies firepower, really isn’t what the best players use. That T110E5 that’s the master of flexibility and CW’s? Not so hot when pubbing. All of them recommended autoloaders or TD’s. Moar firepower. I really don’t want to be an autoloading little bitch, even though that’s by far the best choice. You just can’t tank 450mm armor penetration, it’s bullshit they have that much penetration to begin with. So what to do with that Soviet KV line of armored tanks you been grinding? Just play some doubles and shelve it apparently. Where should you put chips down in the Tier 10’s?

Think it’s time for that long grind to the T110E3 to start. T57 and Foch 155 are both planned to have some nerf’s. I can’t play medium tanks for shit yet (not that my TD play is much better), and I’ll be damned if I’m scouting. Plus I get to experience the T95, in all it’s doom turtle pain and glory. Guess I better get busy.

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