Monday, August 3, 2015

Tank Reviews For Tier 6 Strongholds (And CW)

Hey guys,

Today I'll be talking about the choices of tier 6 tanks for strongholds. So, it's going to be pretty lengthy, but of course hitting CTRL + F is good if you just want a reference.

The tanks I reviewed are arranged into their classes. Each tank has a short explanation of why this tank is viable, and how and where they are effective. I left out tanks that are generally never chosen for strongholds, in my experience and opinion. There is no one single "best" lineup or even tank choice, as each player (and battle caller) has their own preference, experience, and results, so don't take my opinions as a final word. Also, get ready for a huge load of text. :)

The Light Tanks

Full Comparison

T37: a very solid pick and a staple tank choice in strongholds. The T37 has  good mobility comparable to the fastest medium tanks, great view range, an excellent gun with good DPM, penetration, accuracy, shell velocity, and gun depression, and a high HP pool (for a light tank) at 680 HP. The T37 is a rather large target with paper armor (25mm), however, and can struggle against anti-recon tanks which include the VK 2801, 59-16, and MT-25. Due to this vulnerability, T37s should only make up 1 to 3 tanks in the 7 tank lineup.

Type 64: Very similar to T37, but with more speed, and a little more DPM, camo, view range, and 1 degree more gun depression. However, the armor is even worse than the T37, and it only has 580 hitpoints. The Type 64 creates a HP disadvantage, which can be crippling especially as it can be taken out with ease by anti-recon tanks. Bring 1 at most, and maybe 2 if confident and T37s are not available.

59-16, VK 2801, and MT-25: Gimmick tanks that work extremely well in destroying other light tanks, but are somewhat less effective against mediums and struggle to damage heavy tanks. The VK 2801 can easily out-trade light tanks, and medium tanks with HEAT rounds, but can struggle to deal with heavy tanks (it can still track them). It has a fairly bulky profile and somewhat sluggish mobility, although its armor and weight allow it to ram other light tanks and come out top. The 59-16 can deal very fast damage with its clip and reload swiftly, if it can penetrate. It may struggle due to mediocre APCR pen and low HP, however. The MT-25 is a dedicated light tank hunter - with its 1500 potential damage with its 37mm autocannon, it is capable of demolishing 2 T37s very quickly. However, its penetration is so low that it cannot even penetrate a Cromwell's front with APCR gold rounds, limiting the tanks it can target. Due to its extreme mobility and surprisingly heavy weight, it can also sneak in a surprise ram if necessary. Overall, bringing one anti-recon tank is a good idea if the driver of the tank and battle caller know what they are doing.

The Medium Tanks

Full Comparison

Cromwell: another staple and very common tank in strongholds. It is similar to the T37 in its mobility and gun DPM/penetration aspects, but it has much more armor to withstand low penetration guns and HE shells that would cripple the T37. For this reason, they are often the spearheads for a flex tank push in order to protect the light tanks from anti-recon. Due to their advantage in hitpoints and armor as well as a bit of alpha, they are the main choice for brawls and close range skirmishes. On the other hand, the Cromwell has huge drawbacks in view range, gun handling, and shell velocity compared to light tanks, as well as camo on the move. Therefore, most strategies use 2-4 Cromwells at most.

T-34-85: another popular choice in all but the most aggressive or most campy strategies. They provide a good balance of everything, including a gun that is just as good as the Cromwell's gun but with more alpha damage in exchange for a slower reload, making it more suitable for trading shots but still very capable when used for flex. It also features a very powerful 300 damage HE round that can devastate light tanks in as little as 2 shots. The tank is not as fast overall as the Cromwell or the above light tanks, but it still retains good maneuverability and a nice top speed. Furthermore, the T-34-85 gets a heavily armored turret that can be more favorable to have over mobility in certain situations. The tank's only noticeable drawbacks include the thin hull, and relatively unimpressive hitpoint pool of 720. Due to the thin hull, it has more of a chance to be one-shotted by an enemy KV-2, although this will be negated if you go hull-down. -7 gun depression is not amazing, but pretty usable. Having 2 T-34-85s is stable number for strongholds, although having 1 is still helpful.

M4A3E2 Sherman Jumbo: an excellent counter-flex defensive tank. It wins 1 vs 1, and sometimes even 1 vs 2 fights against other mediums and light tanks most of the time due to its armor advantage, provided the opponent is not shooting gold rounds. As a result, due to the mass gold round spamming these days, the M4A3E2 is a somewhat outdated choice for strongholds, in my opinion. Furthermore, the tank struggles to fight heavy tanks unless hull-down. However, if you're facing a lot a friendly opponents who will only fire AP, then bringing one Jumbo Sherman may be suitable.

Other tanks: The M4A3E8, Type 58, VK 30.01 D, and A-43 are viable options if and only if the above tanks are not available. They are generally inferior to the above medium tanks for most practical purposes, so they should be treated only as backup. However, results may vary, and these tanks can be brought if one is convinced of their usefulness.

The Heavy Tanks

Full Comparison

M6: One of the most popular heavy tanks for strongholds. As long as teammates can cover it from getting flanked or ambushed by a swarm of light and medium tanks, the M6 can dominate the battlefield with its high HP, well performing gun, excellent gun depression, and good mobility. It is an excellent all-purpose heavy tank, but its armor can be penetrated by most mediums through its hull and its sides are long and thin. Overall, however, it is a solid choice for strongholds.

ARL 44: like the M6 taken one step further. The ARL 44 suffers from a weaker turret and less gun handling/DPM than the M6, as well as less maneuverability, but it has even more forward speed and gets the same -10 degrees of gun depression. Also, the front hull can bounce even the KV-85's 100mm AP round shells. Furthermore, its 105mm gun gets 330 alpha damage and 223 penetration with its APCR round, making it one of the strongest guns found on any tier 6 heavy tank. Therefore, the ARL 44 can be a truly powerful flank holder/intimidater/defender and is hard to destroy in a mid-ranged engagement. It can be flanked rather easily though, so medium and light tanks supporting it or shielding it from the main engagement is a must.

KV-85: much like an M6 configured purely for brawling and city maps. It is a solid choice due to its strong gun and good mobility, but suffers from terrible view range and gun depression. Due to its improved gun over the M6, players that can manage its weaknesses or nullify them by going on certain positions on the map can potentially provide more firepower for the team.

T-150: a very intimidating tank with tough all-around armor and a big gun. City maps and direct engagements against other heavy tanks in all-out brawls are the norm for this tank. The T-150's exceptionally poor accuracy, maneuverability, and view range make it very weak against flex tanks at a distance. However, when the T-150 can come into close range, defend around a corner by sidescraping, or create an ambush to the enemy, it can be a very terrifying force on the battlefield.

VK 3601 H: a versatile heavy tank capable of defending, brawling, or slow pushing, the VK 3601 has decently thick armor, an accurate gun with high DPM, good gun depression of -8, and a massive hitpoint pool of 950, its greatest advantage. The 370m view range combined with its stellar accuracy allow the tank effectively engage at long distances. The tank's weaknesses include exceptionally slow acceleration, as well as large, weak, and flat side armor. It may fall behind the team's main advance by faster tanks, or can be picked off easily if caught in the open or in a crossfire.

KV-2 Stronk Tonk: a tank with a frightening 152mm gun that is extremely intimidating to any tank it faces, until it fires and has to face a gruesome reload time. The KV-2 is a large and slow target that focuses all it's firepower into a single huge shot. Just one shot of the KV-2 can win or lose your game, depending on the result. Due to the slowness of the tank and long reload time, it is essential it has allies that are able to support it at once. The KV-2 is the ultimate troll tank and generally is only consistent with KV-2 expert drivers due to its unwieldyness. The tank can be rather dependent on the map given and tank setup of the enemy.

O-I: the biggest, baddest tank around with the potential to use a gun similar to the T-150 or a gun similar to the KV-2. The O-I is a very map dependent tank, as it's main purpose to hold a choke point with its 150mm gun to thwart any medium or light tank. This works very well on maps such as Himmelsdorf, but in maps such as Malinovka, the O-I's massive size and flat armor means that it will be picked off with gold rounds out in the open or simply flanked. Once the O-I is flanked and without backup, it's over. Furthermore, the low DPM and speed makes it weak against other heavy tanks such as the ARL 44 which can harass and out-trade it without having to worry about being chased out of cover. Often, it's sheer sluggishness and low ROF can allow the enemy to simply ignore it as well, so this tank is often only useful in a linear push or in heavily defensive strategies.

The Tank Destroyers

Full Comparison

Hellcat: the most popular TD for strongholds, and generally the only one really worth considering. The Hellcat has been nerfed heavily a long time ago, but still retains its intended use and purpose, to an extent. It is a quick, very stealthy tank with nice view range and a punchy gun. The Hellcat is a good tank for large, open maps where it can abuse its camo and high alpha damage. It is also useful on hilly maps due to its amazing gun depression. However, the Hellcat falls short in hitpoints, maneuverability, turret traverse, and DPM, as well as gun handling on the move. Therefore, only experts of camo abuse and positioning should consider using the Hellcat in strongholds over a regular light or medium tank, and only in certain strategies that are not extremely aggressive.

Other TDs: most tier 6 stronghold games rely on fast-paced, flex tanks or very quick engagements. The majority of games are ended very quick and decisively. Most TDs, therefore are not suitable for the pace of the game, and being a tier where TDs are generally pretty mediocre, TDs are rarely seen in tier 6 strongholds except in the most campy of strategies, which are extremely inconsistent and heavily reliant on the map given as well as the setup of the opponent team. The Hellcat is the only TD that I've seen used in most situations.

The Artillery

Full Comparison

As I mentioned above with the TDs, the game is often dominated by fast flex tanks or very quick brawling engagements, which heavily contradicts the anti-camp and high alpha but bad DPM power of artillery. In a 7 vs. 7 tank matchup, HP and the ability to take out as many enemies as quick as possible is the general rule of the game, so artillery pieces are often too slow in firepower, and heavily lacking in close-range combat and defense in order to justify a slot for them in a 7 tank setup. However, if you're facing a huge amount of camping opponents, or simply have your own strategy designed to outcamp the enemy, the use of 1 - 2 artillery, at most, may be effective.

FV304: the most commonly used artillery, at least in my experience, used in tier 6 strongholds compared to other artillery pieces. This is due to its high rate of fire, which can provide quick support or tracking for your team, and the excellent mobility will ensure that you can always be where your team needs you to be. The FV304 is also one of the few artillery pieces that can defend itself decently in close range.

M44: the second most commonly used artillery, for a good reason. The M44 has a larger gun than the FV304, with 700 average damage with HE or HEAT rounds that do the same amount of damage. The M44 also has a huge gun arc, and good mobility that also allows it some chance in close combat. The M44 is a balanced choice if you really want to bring artillery in your lineup.

Personal Tank Lineups

Here are some examples of tank lineups my (scrub) clan uses for casual strongholds. Lineups are really flexible for tier 6 strongholds, and there is no real "best" lineup overall. However, these should give you some ideas on the different kind of strategies.

Lineup 1: 2-3 T37s, 4 Cromwells, 0-1 T-34-85
     This lineup is used for quick, aggressive flexing maneuvers. The T37s are scouts/supporters, while the Cromwells are the main close-range engaging tanks. The T-34-85 is an optional, but very flexible support tank, and can stay back a bit to defend/watch over the friendly base and reset any cap rushes while the Cromwell group or T37 group flexes back to reinforce, or simply approach a troublesome heavy tank from another angle and force it into the main Cromwell cluster with the T-34-85's high alpha gun.

Lineup 2: 2 T37s, 1-2 Cromwells, 2-3 T-34-85s, 1 Heavy Tank (flexible, but should be decently fast)
     A more unorthodox lineup. The T37s are used to scout the enemy, and crush them in an ambush with high alpha T-34-85s, fast strafing Cromwells, and one heavy tank to put in shots and distract the enemy. Highly effective against enemies that have mainly light and medium tanks. The T-34-85s have the alpha damage for mid-ranged engagements, and can bounce multiple shots with their turrets, making them highly effective against light tanks and medium tanks in these kinds of engagements, as well as heavy tanks caught in the open.

Lineup 3: 2 KV-2s, 4 SU-100Ys, 1 Light Tank (Flexible)
     A "crackpot" tactic that involves simply outfiring and outtrading the enemy in an ambush setup, finishing them off with sheer confusion and big guns before they recover. It is a little dependent on luck and how the opponent reacts, but is mainly meant for having fun. The light tank scouts the enemy while the KV-2s and SU-100Ys advance slowly into an ambush choke point. The light tank harasses and baits the enemy, until the opponent team is locked on to trying to destroy the light tank. The light tank then leads the opponent's main group (don't keep the group of Russian derp guns too far away, or else the enemy may suspect it's bait), and the KV-2s and SU-100Ys wreak carnage. This tactic is especially useful in CW due to the "fog of war" hiding the opponent's setup. One more light/fast medium tank can be substituted in for a SU-100Y to convince the enemy better.

Thanks for reading as always guys. I welcome (constructive) feedback, and hopefully you found this useful.

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