Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Clan Has Herpes... And Other Players Too

by SandWyrm

After posting my story about the awesomeness of my upgraded E-75, I got invited to join a World of Tanks clan. The 'Oddballs'. That sounded appropriate enough. Having never played in a competitive clan environment before, the experience was a bit of an eye opener.

Step 1: Get Connected

The first thing that any serious clan player has to do is download and install Teamspeak so you can talk to each other without typing and regardless of whether the game crashes on you. Cool.

The second thing you have to do is figure out how the frak to use Teamspeak because nobody wants to take the time to help you figure it out. The third thing I had to do was give up on the free PC version (too much static with my XBox headset) and install it on my iPhone ($5) so that I could use my noise-canceling Bluetooth instead. Because while I can install/link it on Windows, the Bluetooth  can't be used for games. Stupid technology.

Then I find out that Teamspeak on the iPhone won't reconnect to a server you disconnected from without rebooting the fraking phone. (sigh...)

Step 2: Make Yourself Available

This part is easy. You show up about 45 minutes before your clan is scheduled to fight and you let everyone know what your heaviest tank or artillery piece is. Occasionally they might need a medium or two for scouting, but mostly it's about bringing tier 9 and 10 heavies. A Lowe is considered entry-level apparently.

Step 3: Attend The Briefing

About a half hour before the match, your clan's commander will find out who you're fighting, on what map, and which side your team will start on. You then jump in your fastest tank (assuming you've been chosen) and you join a test game where the commander will tell you where to go and tweak everyone's positioning.

Step 4: Fight

This is the quickest, and frankly the least satisfying part. My first battle lasted about 2 minutes, the 2nd lasted about 4. Evidently that's not out of the ordinary. Clan battles (I'm told) tend to be short, brutal affairs where you get swarmed by masses of Tier 9 and 10 tanks. Or you get spotted by artillery and get 4 shells down on top of your position in less than 5 seconds.

Because of this, the tactics are different than in the more free-form matchmaker games. Team members will be sent to block bridges with the husk of their destroyed tanks, bases will be left completely undefended because every last gun in mid-field counts, and it can come down to who gets on the enemy's objective first as the clocks run down.

Step 5: After Action Review

After the (really) short battle, you go back to chatting and discuss what you did wrong, what could be done better, express frustrations, and come up with action items for next time.

And The Problem is...

...not in the Clan experience itself, which I liked. But rather in the actual battle. You spend an hour beforehand and and half of an hour afterward for 2-5 minutes of action that simply put... isn't very satisfying.

Why? Because the way the system is set up, nobody ever takes anything but the biggest tanks and artillery. There's no trade offs anywhere. No forced decisions. If you have 15 IS-7's to put down, cool! You'll get to stomp a clan that only has a mix of tier 8 and 9 tanks.

Here's my list of what needs to change in the game to make Clan Wars more compelling:

1) There need to be force limits.

Give every tank a points value or simply use tiers, I don't care which. But there needs to be a limitation put in place that forces a team to have to choose between taking a few heavies, lots of lights/mediums, or some mix in between. You could even have light, middle, and heavyweight divisions.

That would open things up to the actual use of tactics and allow middle tier players to join in and learn proper clan tactics early on. As it is, you have to have a tier 9 or 10 tank or arty to even show up.

2) There need to be different deployment options.

Using the same flag/deployment for clan battles as in normal games is just fail. Let's mix it up and give the team commander the ability to plonk down a certain number of units anywhere he likes.

3) There needs to be multiple games per match.

Would (American) football be nearly as satisfying if there was only one play per game?

It's fine to line up opposing sides and clash, but it needs to happen multiple times to have any real validity in terms of skill. So how about best 2 of 3 or best 3 of 5? That would expand the playing time and allow teams to adapt to each other's tactics on the fly. Give them 5 minutes between matches for last minute changes to the initial plan, then throw them at each other again.

Do all that, and Clan wars would be much more satisfying.

As for Herpes, I imagine that the Oddballs will never get rid of him. ;)


  1. I tried a one or two clan battles on the European server. It was not fun for all the reasons you have posted and more.

    In the same time as one setup and game you can play 10 or more quick battles. More fun IMO.

    Honestly reminded me alot of playing out in lowsec space with a corperation. Sit for 2 hours bubbled by a jump gate and then 3 minutes of battle. Not fun and a waste of my time.

  2. Do you feel you are more of a game designer/tweaker than a game player?

    As you were winding down from 40k, your posts seemed to be along the lines of, "This is what should be fixed in 40k" and now this world of tanks post is taking on a similar vibe. Nothing wrong with that at all, I just wonder if this shows some insight into how you play games, or if it is just a coincidence.

    1. My background is in video game development. So yeah, I pick things apart as I play them. My 'thing' is in analyzing systems and optimizing out the stupid and inefficient things I find. :)

      Notice that you haven't heard me complaining at all about Flames Of War. Because the system is beautiful. Not perfect (nothing is), but there's a distinct lack of stuff to complain about. Their tournament system is a different matter, but until I've played in a few of those you won't see me commenting on that aspect.

    2. That makes a lot of sense. I'm a computer programmer, so I relate to the analytical aspect (I love building and rebuilding lists), but you take it to a new level. :)

    3. I guess you can't complain too much about the matchmaking system in WoT when yer diving an E-75, huh?

      The matchmaking in WoT can be a very cruel joke, especially at tiers 4 through 7.

      I can't wait to see what you guys say about the Flames of War Tournament system, but I'm sure you're already aware that it has issues.
      You should probably focus your FoW practice games around the concept of 'not losing platoons,' and grinding your opponent down via attrition and morale checks. Risks are not encouraged or rewarded in any way.
      It really needs work. I honestly, genuinely wish FoW would get the NOVA treatment.

    4. If you're going to grind your way up to an E-75, then you deserve to smirk when you're almost always at the top of the list. :P

      Matchmaking is a known issue. I don't complain about it because it's problems are directly related to WoT's financial model. I don't know how to fix one without breaking the other.

      I asked MVB about NOVA-izing Flames, but he hasn't responded.

  3. Why aren't you using Raidcall?


    I got sucked into a clan, too. By a buddy I introduced to the game.
    I kinda felt bad, since I don't think he's left his keyboard since I sent him the link.

    1. I'm using what they told me to use. :P

      I used to think that I was obsessed with this game. Then I got into the clan and found guys with 60+ tanks in their garage. Where they find the time/money for all that, I don't know. I guess they never do anything else.

    2. Nothing like running up against a hard core russian clan member with 12k games under their belt. They can practically kill you in a loltractor no matter what you are driving :D

  4. You get an A+ for this post just because you used a picture from Ice Pirates. Well played, sir. Very well played.

    1. There was a long, dark time in the late 80's when Ice Pirates was the only damn sci-fi movie on cable. The world should remember. :)

  5. Heh. Sounds like a pain to bother with. Back in teh various mechwarrior leagues, the play was always exciting (lets face it, 30' tall war machines are always funner than stuck-to-the-ground tanks). BTW, they are accepting reserve Pilot names over on Mechwarrior Online. You should try mech clans. We have a ton of players all the way back from mid 90's NetMech, and we're gearing up for MWO free play. I think we'll see a big decline in WOT when the beta releases this summer.

  6. Replies

      ...I'm so in.

    2. Yeah, this is my next addiction. Already registered.

    3. Any MW4 Merc players?


      If not, why not? Free Download.

  7. I have so much to say but I'm very sleepy so here goes nothing:

    Clan Wars is End Game Raiding, so it makes sense that anything less than top tier hurts your team. Most of the members of my clan, when we were still in the marathon that is Clan Wars, had multiple top tier tanks for different situations. I was often in the bullpen, as it were, with my IS-7 because IS-7s are used in the "medium" role. My GW Panther only came out when we were fielding second and third teams for parallel battles.

    Actual mediums are used rarely and on specific maps when they are. Even TDs are for very specific instances since generally the E-100 is better most of the time. I haven't been active since the French tanks came it, so I can't speak to them.

    I miss when they regularly supported Limited Tier tournaments. They cap the total tier points at some number and also cap the tank tiers. So you'd have Tier 5 med/hevy, Tier 4 TD and Arty with a point cap that meant you couldn't take only Tier 5s (or you'd have to take fewer tanks!)

    1. Farmpunk has had a different experience with the company battles. He needs to come on here and share.

  8. ANd people wonder why I hate clans and dedicated servers in other games.

  9. The system MWO is putting in to force different mech sizes is intriguing.

  10. Nice Blog!!! Thanx for sharing such an informative information. Here is some thing about Terre Haute Server Setup


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