The Noobs Guide to Driving Tier X
No matter if you are no-lifeing or slow grinding, sooner or later you are going to come to the end of the tech tree line. A lot of people decide to stay at tier IX and not take the six million credit plunge, either because they aren’t interested in that particular tier X tank, or they feel the tier IX is “stronger in its tier”, and they don’t think the tier X is that much of an upgrade.
But sooner or later you are going to take an interest in one of the top tier offerings; a lot of them have either solid or notorious reputations, are historically noteworthy, or just simply look really cool. And then there is the pervasive notion that you are going to remain a noob forever unless you have a tier X tank in your garage and actually drive it, that’s been around forever.
This, then, is a short guide to tier X, written for tier X noobs, by a tier X noob. It represents about 2500 games’ worth of experience, admittedly with pretty mediocre results, but my focus will be on how to approach tier X gameplay rather than how to actually play once you get there.
The first thing you need is of course a tier X vehicle, and your first one should just be whichever one you can get without too much trouble. It doesn’t really matter, because it’s mostly going to be a learning experience.
If you are still at middle tiers, you have a lot of time for planning, but your considerations should be fairly simple. Look at what tank type you like driving best and are most successful in. Decide which nation you want to play. Then look at the lower tier vehicles in the line and make sure there are no hurdles for you; tanks you might struggle with more than necessary.
For example, chosing between the Maus and the E100, going for the Maus means you have to drive the Porsche VK tanks alternating between forward and rear mounted turrets, while the E100 line is more consistent in terms of design.
But really, all you need to do is find a tank that you think might be fun and that you should reasonably be able to grind out and play. I mean, if you are mostly into Heavy tanks, then don’t go for the Leopard 1.
Playing tier X can be intimidating. You face bigger guns, thicker armour, more hitpoints to get through, and besides all the Unicums seem to basically live up there. But the only way you are going to get over your nervousness about driving tier X is to actually drive tier X. Don’t try too hard, just try to get a feel for what it’s like up there, because it can be quite a shock at first.
What happens is, mistakes are punished much harder at tier X. You take bigger hits, and you are often up against better players. Very likely you are going to need to slow down your gameplay a little; stay a bit longer at each spot, and advance a bit more cautiously.
But if you stay with it, you will soon find out it’s pretty much business as usual. The tanks still have their dedicated roles, there are still noobs everywhere, people still block and fall off bridges and Yolo, just like they do at tier V.
Another thing you might not be prepared for is having to step up and carry the weight. Being top tier all the time is of course nice, but it’s also a responsibility. As a top tier tank, you are expected to make a significant contribution, and it’s more important that you actually fill the intended role of your vehicle.
So when you start feeling more comfortable rolling around tier X, it’s time for a bit of self-evaluation. I don’t mean looking at your stats; likely you’ll have been performing a bit worse than you did at tier IX, but it doesn’t matter. Like I said, you are still learning.
What you should be evaluating is your choice of tank. How is it performing? Taking into consideration what you now know about tier X gameplay; did you make the right choice? Do you feel like the tank has untapped potential, or do you feel like it’s holding you back in some way?
In other words, it’s time to start planning for your second tier X tank.
You may be lucky and feel like you made the perfect choice, and if so, then congratulations. You can start thinking about something that can complement the tank you already have, or maybe one that is similar to it. Maybe you want to get something crazy or extravagant just for fun.
But in most cases, you will have found your vehicle of choice to be a bit lacking in some way on another. Maybe it’s not fast enough, or armoured enough; maybe you got an autoloader and wish you had a regular gun. Maybe it’s the other way around. The point is, once you have some actual experience of top tier gameplay, you will be in a much better position to choose a tank that will fit your needs and match your style.
In my mind, the most important thing is getting a tank you are excited about driving; I say that all the time. But the fact is, a lot of top tier tanks are hard to actually recommend to someone else. You kind of have to know what you are getting yourself into; it’s not as simple as “this tank is good, and this tank is bad”. Don’t stare yourself blind at statistics or reviews; don’t get your second tank because someone else said it’s the best, get it because you, yourself, really want it.
Playing tier X is expensive, it’s frustrating, and there is nothing to grind for except stats, crew skills and free XP. It has to be worth it in some way other than you becoming a unicum, because if you are just starting out, you can’t really expect that. For me, driving a tank I really like makes it all worth it when I do manage to have a good game once in a while.
Setting up your tank for tier X basically means throwing everything you can at it that you think might help a little; spare parts, camo, expensive consumables, anything you can think of. You will need to grind credits to play tier X anyway, so there’s no reason to be stingy with your resources. Go big or go home.
Notes on Playstyle
Tier X, as I said, is a hostile place. The way to deal with this as a beginner isn’t some kind of advanced playstyle, but rather the other way around. Going back to basics, and making sure you check all the boxes.
You don’t want to be too agressive. Don’t try to be a hero and push forward unless you know exactly what you are doing, because you don’t want to be the first one spotted. What happens when you play against more experienced players is they are quick to reach their first position, and they will be pre-aimed at choke points, spotting bushes, and common advance routes.
But you also don’t want to be too passive. If you get left behind, you are very likely to get isolated, pushed up on, and taken out. If you are used to playing the support role, you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Try to choose an initial position that isn’t too far forward, where you can still be effective.
By “getting back to basics” I simply mean things like using cover, maintaining your situational awareness, resetting camo, and taking advantage of whatever strengths your particular tank has: speed, armour or firepower. Little things like good gun depression or a sturdy gun mantlet are what’s going to give you an edge on the competition, so make sure you don’t forget to use them.
Other than that, playing tier X is a lot like playing any other tier, and when you start feeling like it’s not such a big deal anymore, that’s when you know you are startign to get the hang of it. The best advice I can give is to not be afraid to try; just go for it. Not only will playing at top tier make you a better player overall, it’s also a lot of fun.
The only “problem”, I suppose, is that people won’t actually stop calling you a noob just because you drive tier X.
Speed is not in and of itself a problem, but it does tend to get you into trouble faster than you can get out of it. Jylpahs research shows that players of all levels tend to do better in tanks with armour than without it at tier X; since mistakes are punished harder, having a few useful bits of armour will be enormously helpful for newer players. Both these things should be taken into consideration when choosing your tier X vehicles.
And yes. There is the argument that one shouldn’t rush through the tiers, but we all did it starting out; that’s how we know it’s a bad idea. You can tell people to try and progress slower, but I think the best deterrent is actually giving it a try for yourself, because you will then realise it’s too soon for you, and you will move down the tiers to get more practice. My aim with this paper is not to encourage people to play top tier, but rather to offer some advice on how to plan for when they do eventually get there. Like I said, the only way to learn is by doing, and once you start playing higher tiers, you will need to go back down the tiers again to grind credits. When you do, you’ll find things you learn at higher tiers makes you a better player at lower tiers.
I love tier VII and always will, those were the first tanks I put spare parts on. I think the Panther/M10 is the tank I have played the most to date, that will probably be my first tank to reach 1000 games in.
But a while back I made the decision to get serious about playing tier X. I had a few tier X tanks already, but I was still afraid to drive them. It just felt like a shame to have them collecting dust in my garage, and I wanted to push myself a little instead of padding my stats in the lower or middle tiers. Now I’m at the point where it doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore; I have a nice credit buffer so I don’t have to worry about my loadout, I’ve carried a game or two, and I even played a few rating battles to see what that was like. I will sometimes drive one of my tier Xs jsut for fun, without having to sit down, concentrate, get in the zone, and drop some premium time so I won’t get ruined. It’s not like a grind for me anymore.
But playing tier X is not an end in itself, and if you aren’t feeling it, there’s no reason to do it. That’s what I mean when I say you need to find a tank you are excited about playing; don’t play tier X just to be doing it, do it because you really want to, otherwise there’s no point.
I wanted to get comfortable up there, and now I am. It’s getting to where it’s like playing any other tier for me, and that’s all I wanted. I kind of quit rating battles, because I want to work on my tier X stats a little; at least get the tanks over 50%, and one of these days I guess I’ll start running the M60; that doesn’t even have spare parts on it yet.
I have some of my favourite tanks at tier X, and I’m getting a few more I really like. And even though it can be really frustrating, I do actually enjoy pitting myself against the biggest, strongest, and campiest tanks in the game. There’s nothing like taking down a massive Heavy tank in your flimsy Medium or landing the killshot on campy TD, getting some payback for all those one-shots and ammo racks, but it’s not going to make me forget about my beloved Rudy and Cosplay Panther any time soon.
I forgot to mention that grinding your crew from even 75% to 100% at tier X is not only frustrating because your tank doesn’t perform as well as it is supposed to, but it take for ever. If there is one thing I recommend spending gold on, it’s tier X crew training.
I used to be a full on gold noob, and I think I paid gold to train the crew on all my tier X tanks. I saved up all the gold I got from crates and missions and everything for my next tier X purchase so I don’t have to worry about that; it usually costs 1000 gold.
But yeah, once you get more comfortable, doing the “whole” grind can be fun; the tank performs a little better every time you drive it, and there are of course the bragging rights when you have a good game with less than 100% crew. I would say it depends on the tank a little; many vehicles already have all they need to be successful, especially since there are seldom any modules to grind at tier X, but something like the Leopard or BatChat that relies on mobility for survival I would probably just throw money at…
Let me just try and expand a little on why I say the second tank is the one to focus on.
Note also I did say that if you find the tank you chose to be the perfect tank for you, then I can only congratulate. That gives you more options when it comes to choose your second tier X, maybe as a kind of luxury or something you choose more for emotional reasons than practical ones.
I’ll also mention my own first tier X tank was a pretty level headed decision. I had gotten the Jagdtiger, but had zero interest in the Jägeru. I had gotten the E75, but wasn’t feeling the E100 at all. But when I did the Panthers and was getting close to the E50, that was the first time I felt like I really wantedto drive the tier X as well; it felt like a realistic proposition. Much later I came to realise the E50 M was actually the perfect choice for me as a first tier X, although I didn’t understand it at the time.
And finally, there are a lot of people who claim the STB-1 is actually the best tier X Medium in the game now (It’s not – that’s still the Obj 140), and if you manage to somehow grind through the gauntlet that is the Japanese tech tree, you will at least be used to not having much armour. It’s also a question of perspective. I have been playing for years at this point, and I tend to think about the game long term; most of my writing presupposes a driver that is going to stick with the game, and one day have played tens of thousands of games. I also consider selling tanks past tier VII pretty much a total waste, and something you do only in extreme circumstances.
From that perspective, having a tier X tank in your garage is never useless. You will at some point realise your shortcomings and move back down the tiers, and you can always come back to your tier X project later. Even if the tank is the wrong vehicle class for you, that may not always be the case. As you get better, you will evolve as a player, and your interests may change as well. The way I see it, a tier X tank is always an investment for the future.
Finally, here’s my point:
There are two reasons why I think you shouldn’t worry too much about your first tier X. First, when you start playing top tier, you are very likely going to struggle, and if you have built up too many expectations about your first tank, you are going to be really disappointed. For that reason, I think you should just get something you think you will like and think you can drive passably. Starting out at tier X is a baptism of fire; not only do you have to learn how to drive a new tank, you also have to learn to play tier X in in the first place. Once you’ve actually played a tier X tank, and this is my second reason, you will be able to make a much more informed decision about your second tier X vehicle, and it’s likely to be a better choice.
A small parenthesis: I believe my second tier X was the Leopard 1, which kind of goes agains what I have just said because that was of course madness at that time. In my defence, I did get it as an investment, because I knew full well I wasn’t ready for it yet. I could be wrong; it may also have been the STB-1, and if that was the case, I made a much more sensible choice.
I am not saying your first tier X isn’t important, because it is. It’s a momentous occasion, a milestone, a great achievement. I am just saying you shouldn’t make it too important, because you will have a lot of things to learn. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment, prepare yourself for a learning experience instead.
Of course, trying to make as sensible a choice as you can will also help avoid disappointment.
IrmaBecx Guide to Driving Tier X Tanks (Alternate Version)
1. Fall in love with tier X tank
2. Yolo your way through line until you have it
3. Fail at tier X gameplay
4. Play tiers VII-IX until you git gud (20-30.000 games)
5. Tell other people not to rush up tiers