Tuesday, July 5, 2011

World of Tanks - It's a tough time to be new

So last night I spent most of my free gaming time in World of Tanks with a friend that I'd convinced to try the game.  He used to play Battlefield 1942 way back in the day, so I assured him it would be a fun romp and that he should give World of Warcraft a break to try it out.  After he worked out some technical issues (in his first test runs all tanks were invisible, both ally and enemy) we got set up on Skype and got into the game.

It . . . didn't go so well.  The lowest tier tank I had was one of the new T82 tank destroyers (tier 3) so I initially tried grouping with him in that.  Our first two matches had has near the bottom of the roster against primarily tier 4 opponents.  I did ok, but his poor T1 Cunningham was nothing but cannon fodder.  I ended up selling my T82 and buying a Panzer II (a tier 2 tank) in hopes of getting us into more appropriate matches.  Nevertheless, we spent the entire night at or near the bottom of the roster (we had 3 matches in a row where he was at the very bottom and I was right above him) and although we got wins and he maxed out the xp on his tier 1, he wasn't a premium player and he wasn't being able to damage the enemy so he wasn't really making any money.  He could have upgraded to a tier 2, but didn't have the credits needed.  I'd have gladly given him the money, but there doesn't seem to be any way to do that.

So he spent most of his evening getting blown up by tanks with bigger guns and better crews and armor he couldn't even penetrate, puttering around in the awful T1 Cunningham while BT-2s and the like zoomed past him at warp speed.  Here I was trying to show him a good time, and instead I was demonstrating World of Tanks at its most frustrating.

I won't even go into how ridiculously bad the UI is for grouping and chatting and supporting useful teamwork. If we weren't using voice chat it would have been essentially impossible to play together in any meaningful way.  I can do voice chat right now because my family is out of town at the moment, but it's not normally a viable option for me as it would be too disruptive.  So if my family hadn't been away, it would have been even WORSE.

The truly amazing thing, though?  He's declared he'll be back for more.  I think it's a testament to the core gameplay of WoT that even while it's abusing the crap out of a poor newbie, that player can still look at the game and go "Wow, this is actually pretty cool.  Please sir, might I have another?"


  1. Slightly ironically, if I understand one of the recent patch notes, if you hadn't been grouped his first ten fights would have only been against other Tier I tanks with 10 or fewer battles experience, presumably because they recognised it's a bit brutal starting out, even just against Tier IIs...

    The grouping mechanisms aren't terribly friendly, though, absolutely, and basing the matchmaking on the higher tier tank alone can be especially brutal.

  2. Well, I do understand why the match based on the higher tier tank -- otherwise you'd be able to group a tier 10 with a tier 1 and potentially obliterate a tier 5 match or something. That would be fun for exactly 1 person out of the 30 playing.

    I did not know that he could have had his first 10 matches solely in tier 1.


    That would have been a much nicer introduction to the game.

  3. The platoons only really work well if all the tanks are exactly the same tier. You could have "bought" a tier I tank for 0 credits and it would have been more fun.

    World of Tanks has a complicated matchmaking algorithm where tanks are given "weight", and the algorithm tried to have equal weight on both sides. Being in a platoon increases the weight of a tank, thus a tier II tank in a platoon is unlikely to end up in the simple tier I+II only battles with the other new players. Not only can't you "pull" your friend through battles with your better tanks, you actually make his live harder by grouping with him using a higher tier tank. Not the most social design, but I understand where it is coming from.