Posted By Russ on April 4, 2013 at 5:34 pm
For the past several months, I’ve been playing a lot of World of Tanks (“WoT”), a free-to-play* MMO dealing with armored combat in the period roughly 1920-1970. Battles generally consist of two teams of 15 players, who are usually complete strangers, going head-to-head. Tanks from different countries can be teamed up, so one usually sees something like a German Tiger fighting alongside a US Sherman against a British Churchill and a Chinese Type 59. Initially, it can be a bit jarring.
The tanks available in the game are not all tanks that saw active service in the various armies represented. Many — indeed, some of the most popular — are tanks that existed only on the drawing board or which never made it past the prototype stage.
Players start the game with a handful of post-WW1 tanks from various nations**, and by gaining experience and in-game credits based on performance in battle, they can research and buy upgrades through each country’s “technology tree” to get newer, more powerful light, medium, and heavy tanks, as well as self-propelled artillery and tank destroyers. Vehicles are rated by “tier,” 1 through 10, with Tier X being the most modern and powerful vehicles in the game.
Fortunately, the “match maker” software which assigns players into battles recognizes the difference between tiers of vehicles, so you’ll never have to take your weak and pathetic Tier I Renault FT up against a Tier X Maus.
Random battles teamed with and against total strangers are all well and good, though one often sees amounts of idiocy that can only be described as colossal. The real meat-and-potatoes of the game, however, is the clan system.
After several months of playing in randomly assembled teams, in what are referred to as “public matches” or just “pubs,” I began to tire of the utter lack of cooperation exhibited by “team” members, and began seeking a clan to join.
As with most MMOs, players can form guilds or clans, and participate in battles as members thereof. In WoT, the focus of the clan system is Clan Wars, wherein clans contend for control of a map representing the real world. There being far more clans than regions on the map, battling can be rather contentious. Every day, there are usually over 16 clans that must go through a single-elimination tournament for the right to face the clan that owns a particular territory.
Many clans have very strict requirements for membership — statistics at a certain level, certain vehicles researched and owned, etc. — but many clans also provide training opportunities within the clan structure. Having seen many of their members in action in pubs, I looked for and applied to the 1st Cavalry Division clan, and was approved and assigned to one of the clan’s training battalions, where players are expected to regularly (thrice weekly) attend training sessions to buff up their skills to the point where one can be moved to the “active” battalion to participate in Clan Wars matches.
My personal stats are, overall, only marginally above average, though I’m improving. And I have only researched as far as one Tier VIII tank (the Soviet IS-3) so far. But I’m making progress, both in my stats and in my researching towards Tier X, which is pretty much a requirement for effective participation in Clan Wars battles. Plus, I’m on the clan Teamspeak server every day, and participating in clan events to the best of my ability, somewhat hampered by the fact that many events are scheduled for times when I’m on duty at work.
The leadership of the clan saw this, and noted also that I had offered some of my real-world experience to the clan (military intelligence is actually useful in the game) and due to this, last night I was made an officer in the clan. Yeah, it’s only a game, but it sure feels like a big deal to be recognized by one’s associates, especially after only two months in the group.
One interesting thing is that I know none of my clanmates by their real word names, only by in-game handles and by recognizing their voices on Teamspeak, and they only know my voice and game handle. Which, as usual for an online game, is a variant of my usual: SplatterMonkey77.
Do I need to explain that?
* Like any such venture, there are opportunities to spend actual money on the game. In WoT, this usually takes the form of various “premiums” — for example, one can pay to upgrade to a premium account, which earns the owner a 50% increase in experience points and in-game credits earned. One can also expend cash to buy upgraded ammunition for your tank, or to buy such things as camouflage, or tanks that are otherwise unavailable.
** Currently: USA, UK, USSR, France, Germany and China.