Test Server Tryhard
So yeah, today I have been driving the new Chinese Mediums a little while before anyone else does. It’s one of pretty few times I’ve had early access, and it’s certainly the first time I’ve had early access to anything of this magnitude.
And I couldn’t wait.
It’s not the early access itself, it’s the branch. Chinese Mediums. On the face of it, they’re just a bunch of Russian knock offs, but with low gun depression and high caliber guns they have a different playstyle. I drive both the Hype 62 and the Hype 59 since ages, and I like them both a lot. So for me, getting to try the Chinese tanks out a few days early is really quite special.
The server, which is I guess in Russia, was open a few hours today, and I am told by Wargaming I am allowed to share everything I found there. Join me, therefore, on my glorious journey to the land of the honorable Chinese Mediums, via Russia.
Test account garage with horrendously pink 121…
Chinese Medium Philosophy
So what is a Chinese Medium? If you look at the shiny new line in your garage, from tier I through V they are something else. Japanese, French, American, you name it. There is nothing at all wrong with any of these vehicles, I had fun playing them, but you are likely to have driven the exact same tank already. The little Japanese gun depression tank was a particularly fond reacquaintance for me. After tier V, they are basically Russian.
The Type T-34 is a T-34. It works the exact same. Likewise the tier VI is a very recognisable T-34-85.
But then something happens. The line kind of mutates into some kind of Russian hybrid; the tanks become sturdier and they carry bigger and bigger guns, ending with a complete monster at tier X that is going to change the way I think about tier X Mediums forever.
They follow a pretty simple desigh philosophy. You want to put a high alpha gun on a Medium tank. The chassis is going to be a simple angled front plate design, so you can side poke, the turret has to be able to take a few hits so you can ensure the shell lands, and they need to have the best mobility possible for their weight.
If you’ve driven lots of T-54 type tanks, you will note the Chinese Mediums aren’t as fast, but they turn well, and are good, torquey climbers. That may feel like a downgrade. But with a 122 mm gun and a sturdy turret, you’re not going to play like a T-54. Driving a higher tier Chinese Medium is like driving a heavy Medium tank, it’s not like driving a Heavy tank.
The tier X 121 I think shifts around really well. It tops out at 67 km/h down hill, and climbed pretty much anything I threw at it. Watch it crawl around on Canal like a huge pink panther, surveying its domain:
To carry the calibers they do, all the high tier Mediums give up gun depression. There just isn’t any. If this really irritates you, then likewise this will feel like a downgrade. But what it means is you will have to adapt a different playstyle that takes the lack of depression into account.
This is nothing unique. The Obj 263 line likewise sacrifices gun depression to be able to carry bigger guns than their Medium counterparts; to me it’s just a question of habit.
So in terms of playstyle, the Chinese Mediums may not be as versatile as their Russian counterparts, and not quite as fast, but in certain situations they will be stronger. If you are good at moving between hull down spots, short flanking and relocating, then having that big gun kind of makes you feel all that positioning was worthwhile.
I had the extreme fortune of being able to play all the tanks 1 v 1 against fellow contributor Amaunet85, and two of them stick out for me. The 121 at tier X I have been waiting for because it’s so completely different than anything else in the way of Medium tanks out there, and compared to the others, it really feels like an upgrade. It will perhaps be more fun than competitive, but as someone who likes Medium tanks, i prefer “different” to “competitive” anyway.
The other one is the tier VII T-34-1. It’s a small tank, it’s not particularly fast, but it has a thick, rounded, forward mounted turret and a 100 mm gun. As an expression of Chinese Medium tank philosophy, it is perhaps the purest expression; the most exquisitly balanced. I will call mine the “Chinese Whisper” and love it forever:
Chinese Whisper – the T-34-1 looking for a shot
Русский Cерверный Mастер Pаса
So there arent that many players on the test server, and basically playing anything other than a tier X is a bust. Also there are lots of death stars and Jägerus, just like on the live server. Curiously though, I found dealing with one or even two death stars isn’t nearly as troubling in 5 v 5 as it is in regular 7 v 7 battles. The ping has been good, just slightly higher than on the EU server, and very stable.
Yeah, due to the low amount of players you will get in 5 v 5, 4 v 4 or even 3 v 3 battles. I don’t know why people drive death stars on the test server when there are new Medium tanks, but I’m kind of glad they do. There were your regular Bias-7s, E100s, and even a Bat Chat or two to play against.
But most players write cyrillic letters, which I can’t read, so all I can understand are the speed dial commands. It’s kind of strange not really knowing what’s going on around you. Still, I had a few good games; here are my first and second ever battles in the 121:
The pink camo isn’t actually a camo, I think it’s where an as of yet unfinished Premium camo will be. But it looks kind of sweet, and it makes the red parts of your tank harder to see. I ran it a few times just for the giggles, as did a few others:
So what is my first impression of the Chinese Medium line, and what is my prognosis for the line in Blitz?
First off, I found the line really likeable. The lower tiers may not be super exciting, but not because they are weak, only because you’ve seen them before. HIgher tiers follow a similar theme; they aren’t very difficult to drive, but are slightly limited in terms of playstyle. You will want to fight at either intermediate range or close up with cover and backup to make the most of your strong turret and high alpha.
For people who can drive, and click with the low gun depression playstyle, I think these tanks will be able to perform really well. Higher alpha in a mobile package is always going to be able to perform. If you like tanks like the KV-13 and SU-122-54, I am sure you will make a Boss Chinese Medium driver.
The key, I think, is understanding what these tanks are. They are heavy Mediums. Not “Heavy” as in “Heavy tank”, just heavy. Weighty. Solidly built. They have a huge gun in a heavy turret, and just enough chassis to keep it rolling around and bounce a few off the angled front plate.
There aren’t many heavy Medium tanks in the game; the E50 M comes to mind, as does the SuperPershing. The Russian Mediums will offer similar gameplay with more mobility, better gun handling and faster firing lower caliber guns. And they will probably be a little stronger overall because they are more versatile and because, you know; Russian bias.
So if you think a heavy Medium tank sounds like an interesting proposition, Irmabecx says it’s time to start getting excited about the Chinese Mediums. They are coming, they are mean and green, and they will be lots of fun to play.
If not, just drive the T-62A like a normie. I hear that’s getting buffed again.
Special thanks to the EU Community team for providing us with access to the test server!
I thought about it, and there really is no reason for newer players not to start the Chinese line. Through tier VI the tanks are all solid performers, including two strong Russians like you say. If and when they reach tier VII, they will need to start thinking about whether or not they want to continue through the higher tiers. The 121 may not be a bad choice at all for someones first tier X; it plays like a T-62A with a heavy tank gun on it, not rocket science by any means, and it has heavy tank alpha which makes it more comfortable to play.
I think the tier VII tank is going to be great. It’s an alternative indigenous design intended to replace the T-34-85; they redesigned the engine and transmission so the hull could be made lower and it has the rounded turret with a bigger gun. 100 mm may not sound like a lot, but at tier VII it’s going to be quite powerful.
If you are curious about the tier IX WZ-120, I think you are going to be pleasantly surprised. It is exactly what it looks like; a T-54 with an IS-8 gun on it. I think they just changed the bore extractor and muzzle brake. Server happened to be open, so here are the gun stats and mobility and stuff. I put on the pink “camo” too:
The old M62-T2 off the IS-8 for comparison:
The only one I’m not confident about is the tier VIII T-34-2; I think that may be the weakest link. I hope I am wrong. You can run that with a 100 mm though, so I don’t think the grind is going to be very hard either way.
The Chinese Whisper though I am super excited about. It’s so small and cute, and that turret is really effective. I think if you klick with this tank, you will own tier VII; I can’t wait to drive it on the live server, it’s going to be fantastic!
Look how far forward that turret is:
Gun stats for Chinese Whisper. Does that not look suspiciously like the Hype 59 gun?
The test server was closed today, but I have some T-34-1 stats.
Note this is a fully upgraded tank with nine equipment slots unlocked, and these are test server stats. Stuff can change before they drop.
So you get 1100 hitpoints. Front plate is 60, sides 45 and rear 40, the turret front is 170, sides 120 and rear 60, and like I said the thing is a lot smaller than you think. It’s a T-34-85 redesigned to be lower to the ground.
520 horsepower on 32.51 tons, top speed is 50, hull traverse 50.17 and turret 48.60. That’s with improved controls fitted and double rations plus protective kit: no fuel.
Top gun gets 7.66 rounds per minute with a 3.8 second aimtime; again that’s with double rations, AP pen is 175 and lovely APCR gets 235, HE rounds do 50. Average damage 280/240/350 as usual. Dispersion is 0.380, that’s with Vstabs, GLD, rammer, and level VII crew skills, so absolutely maxed out.
It’s a curious kind of early cold war design; very clearly a modernisation of a WW2 tank, namely the T-34-85. That armour is very flat and those angles are going to be super troll. 45 mm of side armour means 122 mm guns won’t overmatch it so you should be able to side scrape like a boss, and the side is only like chest high! Look at the thing next to the railway cars, it’s about the height of the wheels!
So yeah, super excited about the Chinese Whisper. I may even throw some gold at the grind strategically to unlock modules so I can get it faster. (…) The Hype 62 is going to be a really interesting comparison to this tank. Armour vs speed, APCR vs HEAT, 100 mm vs 85 mm, tech tree vs Premium.
I can see myself just falling deeper and deeper into the high alpha flanker playstyle and, like, never looking back. I’ve aways loved tier VII, and getting something completely new like this for my favourite tier is of course fantastic.
I am a little worried the T-34-2 is going to be a letdown afterwards, but Meadsy likes it so it’s prolly fine. It has like three 100 mm guns you can run anyway, so I guess it’s going to play like a T-44 through most of the grind. The T-34-2 turret should be better.
So yeah, Wargaming got me again. I just spent actual money on the game for the first time since 3.8.
I bought some gold for the specific purpose of making the 121 grind a little easier.
This is how capitalism works, kids. You get people to rationalise spending their resources, and what makes me spend mine is the short sentence at the end there. Because let’s face it, this grind is going to be a breeze, throwing a bit of gold at it is clearly an extravagance, not a necessity. It’s frivolous. Gratuitous. Excessive.
I talked myself into the drivers seat of the T-34-1 already, that’s what it is. Wargaming gave me a taste, and I swallowed the bait, hook, line and sinker. It’s one of those tanks that I like to say they “appeal to the imagination”. They are curious, or quirky, or special, or just plain cute. They remind you of something else. Or they inspire you to something new. I wasn’t really expecting anything like that out of the Chinese tech tree; at least not until we get the Fake Tank series Tank Destroyers, but you can tell already I’ve completely fallen for the little tier VII tank. And I’m OK with that. I know it’s silly. But I think it’s important to let yourself have some fun as well. No one is forcing us to play the game; we all have to find our own reasons to do it, and this is how I find mine.
That is one thing. But what about others? I’m not trying to hide the fact that I’m excited about the new line, and I’ve tried to explain exactly why that is. I think if you follow my writing, you will have seen this coming a mile away. But I’ve also tried to be honest about what the line is, and what you can expect from it, because I think it’s pretty straightforward. Some people will look at the line, see a bunch of copies of Russian tanks, and just yawn. That’s a fair assessment too, I can’t argue with it. But there are differences, and I’ve tried to explain what they are so people can make up their minds about whether or not they might be interested in any of the new tanks.
Me, I’m betting a couple of thousand gold on that they are going to be fun.