“Ours Is a Just Cause!”
The Chinese Mediums
IrmaBecx, Party Secretary
In the beginning, there was Hype. I hated it. It symbolised everything I didn’t like; cold war tanks, Gold Noob Unicums, and to top it all off the Hype looked suspiciously Russian.
In time, I came to change my mind. I realised the Chinese Wonder would allow me to escape Stalins clutches, and still benefit from the revolution. It is not that I was blinded, or hoodwinked by communist designs; this was the conclusion I came to, on my own, after much deliberation.
When Chinese tanks arrived, they immediately proved the efficiency of the Soviet design philosophy, but with several key differences. In many ways, I felt the Chinese way of thinking was more reasonable.
By the second arrival of Chinese built machines, I had already came around to the ideas they represented. These were smaller, lighter; more adapted to guerilla warfare. I acquired one, then the previous model also, and I never looked back.
I was a Hype convert.
By the third wave of Hype, the first stage of the revolution was over. The principle isn’t bad, but would have been much more effective earlier on. These days, heavier artillery is needed in order to be really successful on the battlefield.
“We Will Fulfill Our Task!” Hype 62, My little Water Dragon
Driving the Type 59 Medium tank isn’t very hard. It’s basically a de-tuned Russian T-54. But there are two important differences which means it isn’t really representative of the other high tier Chinese Mediums: it has gun depression, and it runs a regular 100 mm gun.
Often, the way the country of origin fights its wars will to some extent be reflected in their tank designs. Understanding the tanks intended purpose may sometimes give you clues to their gameplay, and in the case of China the strategy focuses on fighting against a stronger, more well equipped enemy.
And that is how Medium tanks often find themselves situated in battle. You don’t rush in expecting to be able to bully your opponents; you will need to outplay them instead, choosing the battles you think you have a better chance of winning, and then wearing them down.
This is done in three stages. First, you clear the flank. Then you work towards isolating and clearing enemies one by one, to establish map control and extend your mobility advantage. This will allow you to attack the remaining tanks from several angles, and once you have worn them down, you can just move in and clear out any survivors.
Sound familiar? Yeah, this is basic Medium tank gameplay, straight out of Chairman Maos playbook. It’s how you win with a team of Lights, Mediums and TDs against a horde of Heavy tanks; you take your time, follow the plan, and you set out knowing you aren’t going to win the game in the first few minutes, so there’s no reason to get hasty. Tanks that can’t hold their own in a corner fight will make mincemeat of much stronger tanks as you get closer to the endgame.
Have a look at this slightly mofified quote on guerilla warfare:
“…select the tactic of seeming to come from the east and attacking from the west; avoid the solid, attack the hollow; attack; withdraw; deliver a lightning blow, seek a lightning decision. When [you] engage a stronger enemy, [you] withdraw when he advances; harass him when he stops; strike him when he is weary; pursue him when he withdraws. (…) the enemy’s rear, flanks, and other vulnerable spots are his vital points, and there he must be harassed, attacked, dispersed, exhausted and annihilated.”
Again, it sounds a lot like Medium tank gameplay, doesn’t it? And this is the kind of mindset you have to get into when you approach the Chinese Medium tank line. You are the defender, not the aggressor. Or, you are a support tank, not a front line brawler.
Chinese Mediums at a Glance
As you may have heard, up until and including tier VI, the Chinese Medium line are basically tanks from other nations with slight modifications. There isn’t a lot of difference between driving the T-34 and the Type T-34, or the T-34-85 and the Type 58.
After that, they all follow the same basic formula: big guns, no gun depression, and as much mobility as the weight of the weapon will allow. At tier VIII and IX, you can run a standard 100 mm gun if you like, but I think you would be doing yourself a disservice, because it means you won’t get into the rhythm of playing a longer reload, higer alpha weapon.
At the top of the line, you’ll get the 121, which is basically an enlarged Type 59 with a 122 mm Heavy tank gun on it.
The playstyle will be dictated by the strong turret/high alpha configuration, and although these are both strengths, they are also a limiting factor, because you need to make sure you put yourself in situations where you can actually make use of these particular strengths. One on one, out in the open, your limited mobility and weak hull will put you at an instant disadvantage.
So what you want to do is keep your opponents at a bit of distance. Not too far so you won’t hit your shots, and not too close so they can rush you while you’re reloading. You’ll also want to make use of terrain for cover and camouflage.
If you are looking for a proxy tank, the T-54 and T-62A are good places to start. Basically, any Soviet Medium or Light tank with five degrees of gun depression should do the trick, because the main things you will want to train are positioning and setting up shots.
You would think the T-44 with the 120 mm gun mounted would be a good proxy, but it’s not. The gun stats on the 122 mm option are simply not good enough for any kind of Medium gameplay; it’s more like a turreted Tank Destroyer in terms of playstyle.
After road testing the entire Chinese Medium line, I came away feeling like they had been likeable and fun to drive, and I was looking forward to the gind: particularly the T-34-1 at tier VII and of course the mighty 121.
Having wrapped up the grind for the Object 263 a few weeks ago, I’ve pretty much just been collecting resources since then. I’ve got a huge credit buffer, and enough spare parts, gold and free XP to make the Chinese grind really comfortable; rushing to tier X shouldn’t take very long.
For practice, I’ve mainly been driving three tanks: the Hype 59 of course, to get used to the Chinese mobility, the Rudy, to get back into the T-34-85, and the T-54, to get used to five degrees of gun depression, which is like standard on the Chinese tanks.
As a side note, if you are into the Chinese tech tree, you may want to consider keeping the Type 58 around for a while, because the Chinese Heavy tank branch will most likely start from that. I don’t have any advance information, but I would say it’s very likely we see the Chinese Heavy tanks before the TD line.
So yeah. This is about as far as I’ll get without any actual tanks to play with. I’ll pick this up in a few hours…
Russian Without the Bias: Type 58
So my free XP ran out at tier VI, and I actually had to start driving the new Chinese Mediums. It’s not so bad, actually.
The Type 58, for all intents and purposes, is a T-34-85 without the top gun; it really is that simple. It moves the same, it bounces the same, and it almost shoots the same. Penetration values aren’t exactly fantastic.
This is in fact the reason I enjoy the Hype 59 so much; it’s like driving a Russian tank without the bias. Ironically, dialling the T-54 back a few notches and moving it to tier VIII makes the tank more approachable in my mind. The drive is more relaxed, and you get into the 100 mm reload rhythm pretty quickly. I’ve often said it’s the best all-rounder in the game.
And I think that’s what makes me enjoy the Type 58 as well; it’s just a reasonable proposition. You get a bit of armour, a bit of mobility, and a bit more alpha than most of your comparable opponents, that’s pretty much it. It’s not overpowered. It’s not a total monster. It’s not some quirky, offbeat curiosity, and it’s not very fascinating at all. It’s a workhorse, plain and simple.
Grinding it out is a breeze. I got the tier VI turret as fast as I could, and then I started grinding for the T-34-1 right away so I could start the timers on that as soon as possible. Once that was done, I started unlocking the modules on the Type 58, many of which carry over to tier VII.
Grinding the crew took less than 40 games with a bit of free Premium time and boosters, and by then I had pretty much all the modules as well.
Working the armour isn’t very difficult. You angle up about 15 degrees so people will bounce off your side armour. You point the turret straight at your opponents. You use the five degrees of gun depression as best you can, firing over the drive wheels to get the best angle.
It’s not super mobile, but the 58 will do 50 no problem, which is really all you need. I’m running with stage I equipment only; I’m sure some improved controls and Vstabs would wake it up, but I’m not really sure I want to spend a lot of resources on it, and the tank doesn’t actually need any help. It’s doing fine the way it is.
You will get smashed by faster Mediums, OP seal clubbers like the Helsing, and high alpha or DPM machines, but you can also take them down with either a bit of support or some inspired gameplay.
The “Meh” Factor
If you are reading this and getting a distinct “Meh” feeling, that’s probably a fair description. I can’t really argue with that, because the tank isn’t terribly exciting. It doesn’t stand out. It doesn’t have a gimmick. Not a lot of personality.
If you have driven the T-34-85 already, you’ll feel right at home. If you haven’t, and you are looking for a tier VI Medium to play tournaments in, I would recommend you go for the Russian original rather than the Chinese knockoff, because you’ll get a tier VII 85 mm weapon with much better penetration values, not to mention some of that sweet Russian Bias.
The gun is rather derpy, especially with less than 100% crew. I’ve had several games where half my shots either miss or fail to penetrate; which is not how I recall the T-34-85. I’m not going to try and argue that this is some kind of benefit, but it will actually help you prepare for the rest of the Chinese Mediums. They all require some care and patience lining up the shots, and even a split second longer aiming can make a huge difference.
So is it a great tank? No. It’s likeable, but it’s not fantastic or extraordinary in any way. Quite the contrary. No one is going to start the Chinese grind because they want to get the Type 58.
Is it a bad tank? No. There is nothing at all wrong with it; it does everything it’s supposed to, although not with a lot of vim and verve, so to speak.
Is it a Meh tank? Well, yes and no. It’s certainly not super exciting. But it’s also not very pedestrian; it’s based off one of the all-time great tanks in the game, and even though it’s been dialled back a little, its a solid performer.
And for that reason, IrmaBecx says don’t drive the Type 58 just to be driving it. If you are going to drive it at all, drive it to be driving the tanks that come after it.
More to come!