I’m sitting in the starting area of Karelia in my KV, waiting for the battle to begin. Karelia is one of my favorite battle maps. One team (mine, this time) deploys in the northeast corner on a two-tiered hill that looks like a short, wide wedding cake. The other team starts on a similar hill to the southwest. A road with very little cover runs directly between the two, but most players decide early in their careers that it’s explosive suicide to venture down it.
The northern and southern edges of the map offer much better avenues for attack. The northern axis boasts a number of large boulders that provide shelter from enemy fire, and some of them are even tall enough to block arcing artillery projectiles. The southern route is dominated by a high ridgeline with sheer cliffs on its northern face that can be skirted to the south. The team that commands this approach can move tanks to the top of the ridge and fire down on large portions of the battlefield. Both axes eventually lead to the enemy base which, when captured, ends the fight.
After the jump, choosing and losing
Before the countdown timer expires, I need to make a choice. Even with its suspension and engine upgrades, my KV is painfully slow. If I choose to defend the base, it will be nearly impossible for me to join an attack along either axis in time to make a difference. Likewise, if I decide to attack, it will be hard for me to return to base in time to prevent its capture from a successful enemy push. As for switching between the northern and southern fronts, forget about it. That’s never going to happen.
Since I’m tied with an enemy KV as the strongest tank on the field, whatever choice I make will have a significant impact on the outcome of the fight. I mull it over for a few more seconds and decide I’m feeling aggressive. When the countdown timer expires, I head south at top speed. Picture a tortoise on amphetamines, or perhaps a really frisky snail.
For the next ten minutes, I feel like a genius. As I’m heading toward the northeastern edge of the ridgeline, a reckless enemy A-20 decides its tremendous speed will enable it to get a look at our base, perhaps revealing our vulnerable artillery to enemy fire. I stop dead, carefully lead the rocketing target, and send it to oblivion. I round the corner of the ridgeline that blocks enemy artillery fire, and then turning southwest. I see that two of our scouts have already taken advantage of their speed to gain the summit. From their elevated vantage point, they radio the position of several enemy tanks back to me.
Taking advantage of the long range and accuracy of my ZiS-6 cannon, I park myself behind several of my teammates and move in and out of cover every time my gun reloads. Three more enemies go boom in short order and, lacking anything else to shoot at, I push towards the enemy base. An enemy artillery piece foolish enough to have deployed in the open explodes in one hit when I nail it from about 500 yards. Even the sudden appearance of the enemy KV dead ahead does nothing to slow me down. One of my teammates immobilizes it with a shot to the tracks, and I complete its destruction with a shell into its stock turret. In the screenshot below, you can see it burning ahead of me and to the right.
In case you haven’t been keeping score, that’s six kills for me, and the enemy only has 15 tanks total (nobody respawns in World of Tanks). My team must have won, right? I mean, the other 14 members of my team surely could handle the remainder of the foe, couldn’t they?
Nope. The northern axis of the battle has been a complete disaster. Most of our tanks that chose that route advanced one at a time and ran into a well-organized force of four or five enemies that merrily shot them to pieces. Said enemies then poured into our lightly defended base and captured it before my slow KV could complete its crawl to the enemy encampment. Despite one of my most individually successful battles ever, I chalk up another loss to my enemies’ superior northern attack. Perhaps if I’d chosen to go north, or to defend, we might have won. Perhaps not, too. The enemy is hell.
Up next: My own team is hell.
Click here for the previous World of Tanks entry.
Dave Markell’s probably been playing games longer than you’ve been alive. While his preferred genres are turn-based strategy and RPG’s, he’ll gladly demonstrate his incompetence at anything.