E50 is the best tier VIII Medium / Taming the Beast
Tier VIII is hell. It’s worse than Highschool. Especially if you like your Medium tanks, it can often feel like you are just fodder for the Russian Heavy tanks. And the worst part is, it isn’t ever going to get any better, it’ll just go on and on forever, because people aren’t going to stop driving their tier VIII credit makers. Tier VIII is doomed.
You can of course grin and bear it; keep telling yourself that you are trying to Git Gud, and that it’s all part of the learning process.
But sometimes that’s not going to hack it. It gets to you, and you want to do something about it. Get some payback. Wreck some skrubs. So what do you do? Well, one solution would be to get a tier IX Medium tank. And for the purpose, you could probably do a whole lot worse than the notorious E50.
“Come at me, bro!” The E50 ready for action.
Two things people know about the E50: One, it’s known as the “Ram King”, and two, it’s a hard grind. Likely one of the absolute worst in the game. Lucky for me, I got mine a long time ago, back when I fell in love with the Panthers and contracted terminal Elitism. Doubly lucky for me, it was also one of the first tier IX Medium tanks I spent spare parts on, so I’m already running the Vstabs.
I’ll be honest and say it’s been a while since I drove it. After I got the E50 Ausf. M, I almost completely lost interest in the regular E50. That has more to do with the tier X tank being fantastic than there being anything wrong with the tier IX.
What you’re getting is of course a Tiger II hull with a 1000 hp engine, a stretched Schmallturm, and a very German 10,5 cm L/52. If you’ve driven other Germans, there are no surprises. It’s big, it’s heavy, and you will need to hide the lower plate.
The mobility is curious. It will do 60 on flat ground, but if you are manouvering, you’ll lose speed immediately. When moving, you’ll do 40-50 unless you’re on a slope, where you’ll so 30-40, and it can feel sluggish at lower speeds. Another typically German trait is the good hull traverse combined with not so good turret traverse; you don’t want to get tracked when turnfighting. You need to keep in mind you are basically driving a chopped down, hot-rodded Heavy tank, and as such, it’s a pretty fast machine.
Finally, the E50 has that thing where it has better gun depression over the sides than over the front plate. Looking straight ahead, you only have 5 degrees of gun depression, but if you turn just 15 degrees to either side, which means the gun is in line with the inside of the front drive wheels, you’ll have a full 8 degrees. Angling at 15-20 degrees also means you are showing your strongest armor, both the front plate and the side, and if you are on a ridge, you’ll be a really hard pen.
So what’s it like against the tier VIII hordes of Stalins Finest? Well, the numbers look good. You have about the same penetration as a tier VIII Russian Heavy, and remember they often have HEAT for Premium where you’ll have APCR. That means you won’t have to worry about spaced armor or not getting a clean hit. You’ll also have much better DPM; at least 25% more, and your aimtime is a lot faster. 350 alpha compared to their 400 lets you trade pretty effectively.
You can penetrate any tier VIII Heavy tank frontally without skill rounds. They will all have trouble going through your upper plate, even straight from the front with HEAT, but they will pen the lower plate and the turret face no problem. The turret isn’t actually that strong, your best bet is to point your gun at the enemy so at least the sides are autobounces, and stay mobile.
People may call it the “Ram King”, but what it really does well is mitigate incoming damage. You’ll do more damage than you take if you run full speed into and IS-3 Defender, but remember you are a Medium tank after all, and if you’re going to trade shots with Heavy tanks, you’ll want to hold on to your hitpoints.
The E50 is one of those tanks that really benefits from stage II and III equipment. It’s already strong, and I felt putting equipment on it gave it a new lease on life. I’m running the standard “everything to the left” setup and haven’t experimented further, but the tank feels noticeably sharper and more alive. It was always a monster, and with a some Vstabs, turbos and extra armour, I’m not really scared of any of the Russians anymore.
Well, except the “Yolo Wagon” 263, of course.
The Bad News
Sadly, life isn’t fair. If you want to bully tier VIII Heavys in a tier IX Medium, you’re going to have to play tier IX games, and half the time you’ll be facing tier X. You are still going to be competitive, especially maxed out, but being bottom tier is of course not as satisfying as plowing through the cesspit that is tier VIII being top dog for once. I suppose you can’t have everything.
But when the IS spam gets you down; if you happen to have an E50 in the back of your garage, rusty, disused and unloved, I really can’t recommend enough having a go at being a tier VIII alpha predator in it.
And when all else fails – just ram them!
E50 is the best tier VIII Medium. IrmaBecx says drive one today and show those Defenders who’s boss.
This first part has been a bit tongue in cheek, poking fun at the fact most tier VIII Mediums seem slightly underpowered against the hordes of IS tanks.
I was going to write something like “I think you all know why this is not about the T-54” or “You could of course get a T-54, but that would be cheating”, but I decided against it. I badmouth the Russian tenks enough as it is.
But the relative weakness of tier VIII Mediums is at the heart of the matter here. I’m trying to get back into tier VIII Mediums, but it just doesn’t seem to happen. The only ones I seem to drive are the FCM 50t and the Hype 59. Anyway, let’s continue with some actual advice on how to make the E50 work:
Part II: E50 – Taming the Monster
So the E50 is likely the best tier VIII Medium for facing Russian Heavy tanks, but that’s not so much about the E50 itself as about the general state of tier VIII these days; you pretty much need a tier IX to be able to cope.
The E50 in the first part of this essay is kind of taken for granted; it is written from the perspective of someone jaded and elitist with long time experience, it presupposes familiarity with the vehicle, and it is perhaps more aimed at similarly experienced players than at newer players looking for information about how to actually drive it.
This, then, is an attempt at addressing the latter question.
I’ve had my E50 for a long time, but I don’t tend to drive it a lot. To me, it’s the younger sister of my E50M; not the elder sister of my Panther II. But I still remember what it was like; finally here was a German Medium tank that not only looked like it had some armour – this one actually did. And working with that razor sharp 105 mm after running all those 88 L/71s was just so satisfying.
Did I struggle? Sure. But driving such a robust vehicle is a bit more forgiving, so even a noob like me can catch a lucky break in one. And what I struggled with was driving a Medium tank at tier IX in the first place, not necessarily with the E50 itself. It drives similarly to the Panthers; it’s fast when it gets going and sluggish at lower speeds, so the learning curve isn’t that steep.
And then there was the ramming. I didn’t even shoot at tier VII tanks back when that was a thing; I just ran right over them. You can’t say “E50” without everyone immediately thinking “ramming”, but philosophically, ramming has a lot more to offer than just the sheer joy of plowing your huge steel monster into someone with wild abandon, although that part shouldn’t be forgotten about either.
Three things conspired to get me to drive the E50 again. First, I am actually doing some grinds again, and up until tier VIII I have plenty of tanks to alternate with; tier VII especially has some of my favourite premiums. But at tier IX, I don’t have a daily driver, and grinding missions and XP for the new Chinese tanks I have been needing one. Second, I am at the point where I am spending spare parts again; I am pretty clear on which vehicles are getting upgraded and which aren’t. All my tanks in the garage right now are definitely keepers but not necessarily drivers. So the ones I will actually be driving, I am spending spare parts on, and of course it’s only fair they grind their own.
Third, I got a direct question about the E50, and since I endorse driving huge German Medium tanks, I should of course also do my part to help people get better at doing just that.
If the E50 is your first, or one of your first tier IX Medium tanks, you need to remember a few things. It is widely considered one of the absolute worst stock grinds in the game, and so you should expect to be struggling. Allow yourself a bit of leeway here; what you are trying to do is hard, and it’s going to take time before you start getting it right.
Remember the E50 is a monster, but only when fully upgraded. Before you have all your modules and have put a bit of equipment on it, it’s going to be more like driving a Heavy tank or a Tank Destroyer. Your armour is still going to work the same, but you won’t have the mobility yet to juke and wiggle, so you will need to stay back and play the support role.
This can be a problem when top tier, because essentially you are not filling your role on the team properly, and it can be hard to contribute significantly towards the win. Don’t expect to be carrying these games yet. Remember though, this is only temporary, and once you are fully upgraded, you can start playing more aggressive.
What you should be doing instead is learning how the armour works in different situations, try to find spots where you can set up a side scrape or go hull down. Practice your positonal play and learn to work the curious gun depression; like I said the E50 has less gun depression over the front plate than over the sides by a few degrees, which takes some getting used to.
Also, remember you are learning several things at a time. You are learning how to drive the E50, but also how to drive a high tier Medium tank in general, and you are learning to be bottom tier against the strongest vehicles in the game. That’s a tall order for anyone. Cut yourself some slack and just let it take the time it needs.
As I said, I have equipment fitted on my E50, including the Vertical stabiliser. If you are running rations, super fuel is a good idea. You already have good engine power, so it makes sense to improve on that. Chocholate is also highly useful; you already have good gun handling, so that also makes sense to improve on.
If you feel like you take a lot of crew and module damage, you might consider the protective kit, and either way you should have some kind of fire extinguisher since you have a typically German transmission behind the lower front plate. Personally I run dual repair kits and adrenaline.
220 mm of standard AP penetration is low for a tier IX Medium; many of the others carry 10,5 L7A1 clones and have upwards of 240 mm of APCR pen. APCR with 270 mm pen isn’t fantastic, but it gets the job done, and you are going to need it against tier X, and some tier IX targets like the E75.
When you have set up your E50 as far as is possible, there is one final thing you should consider before you descend on your enemies in your new Teutonic bruiser; namely the role of Medium tanks in the current game environment.
The golden age of Mediums is over. They are no longer the main damage dealers out there; that role has been taken over by Tank Destroyers and Heavy tanks. Ironically, as Medium tanks got weaker, their importance argualbly increased; at least to the extent that playing the intended role of your vehicle is more important.
Medium tanks can still do some things other tanks can’t, and their versatility is their main strength. The ability to quickly go places where you are needed in combination with decent firepower is what makes Medium tanks useful, and they differ between themselves in the way they deal with incoming damage. In the case of the E50, the same changes that made other Medium tanks weaker made it stronger, since it has some useful armour and Premium rounds are both used less often and do less damage these days.
So basically, you have three jobs: Spot enemies for your team, fight other Medium and Light tanks, and help taking down Heavys and TDs ; pretty much in that order. The E50 is no Light tank, but it’s fast, a lot faster than you think, and more importantly a lot faster than your enemies think. It will do more than 60, and even with a stock engine, you’ll reach the middle of any map in 30 seconds. You will recognise this curious mobility from the Panthers; it’s sluggish at lower speeds, but fast once it gets going, and it loses speed quickly when turning.
So: when you’ve gotten the initial spots, you can either stand and fight, or you can run away. Remember speed works both ways. Making these decisions is crucial for survival: in tier X games especially you will need to learn to run away from bad engagements.
Your position is the first consideration. If you have useable cover and can either sidescrape or peekaboom hull down, you can hold a position. It’s better you keep your enemies at range; you have superior gun handling, but about an eight second reload, which isn’t a lot better than a Heavy tank. Even if you can’t get a penetrating shots, go for tracks or even an HE round; get them to stop.
Keeping enemies at range has several advantages. You can use your superior accuracy as I said, but you will also have more time to turn and run, people are less likely to push up on you, and it’s easier to negate their DPM by not giving them shots. Friendly tanks will also have more time to react if they get the notion to help you out. It happens.
The second is your opposition. Don’t get caught in the firing line of several enemies. Don’t fight Heavy tanks frontally if you can avoid it. Don’t be the only one spotted if all the reds can see you. There are all kinds of good reasons to run away from a bad fight. But perhaps chief among them is the fact that you will get exponentially more dangerous with every minute you stay in the game, because fewer enemies means mobility gets more and more advantageous. And it’s much easier to circle those big and slow tanks when they are alone.
Basically, you should look for the most unfair fight you can find, not the most heroic one. As long as you can stay on the flanks, fighting same and lower tier tanks, or helping focus or distract the higher tiers, you will be all right.
E50-Specific Notes on Playstyle
So let’s look at the armour profile in more detail. Yes, that is a Tiger II hull with a stretched Schmallturm on it, and that means you have Heavy tank hull armour. But remember it’s tier VIII Heavy tank armour, and the front plate especially isn’t going to hold up to tier X weapons. You are going to have to angle for it to be effective.
The turret armour isn’t fantastic, but the sides will ricochet any gun in the game as long as you keep it pointed straight at them. If you angle the hull and move back and forth, the flat turret front isn’t going to be an easy target to hit.
This is the E50 sidescraping against a tier X Obj 268:
As you can see, 20 degrees is the absolute limit; any more than that and your side will clear up for them. You will also note that if you are behind a house, you will need to expose the front plate to get a shot off, and that’s not strong enough to bounce.
Sixty degrees will make both front plates ricochet, but again, if you are behind a house, you will need to expose almost half the side to get shots; your ammo racks, transmission, and crew members can get hit.
Peeking over a ridge, you only have 5 degrees of gun depression. That’s not enough to make the upper plate a reliable bounce:
Adjusting your angle so you fire over the inside of the drive wheel gives you the full 8 degrees; your front and side plate will be at their best angle, and you will soon get used to finding the “edge” beyond which you can get the full depression. It’s not a lot you need to angle, but it does make a big difference:
Here is the E50 sidescraping against another E50 behind a rock:
The angle looks good, but the opponent has a height advantage, and if you look from their perspective, you can see the side is just tinted; meaning it’s very, very close to being overangled:
Using terrain features, you can present a good armour profile to your opponents. Here is the E50 going hull down behind a small dip in the terrain:
Sorry for the palm three in the middle of the picture here; that’s not going to stop a 10,5 cm shell, but you can see the armour profile looks solid:
Even out in the open, the E50 presents a formidable armour profile against same- and lower tier enemies maintaining the angles:
As with everything, you need to have the right mindset here. Working on your angles is crucial to playing the E50 effectively, and it takes time; both in terms of practice and in terms of actual gameplay. You move to a position, check your angles, then you move to the next position, check your angles, and so on. It just takes a bit longer.
But remember you don’t have the greatest rate of fire out there anyway, and progressing more slowly will keep you in the game longer. Learning to be patient and playing methodically is actually an unexpected benefit of driving the E50; it will do a world of good for your playstyle, survivability and; ultimately, your long term success.
The other use of armour is of course ramming. Ramming is a lot of fun, and it is a useful weapon in your arsenal.
Except when it’s not.
There are many reasons not to go for the ram. Your speed may be too low. Your opponent may be too hefty. You may miss and end up in a really bad position. You may track yourself. It may just be too early in the game for such an aggressive maneouver.
But there is also no better feeling than cruising around pushing 60 km/h, spotting an unattentive, weakly armoured target, and then just turning the tank slightly, hitting them with a no-scope and running straight into them for hundreds and hundreds worth of free damage. It’s just the best. As you’re learning stuff anyway, don’t forget to learn how to do that.
But also make sure you understand that going for the ram is often an extravagance; something you do for fun rather than by tactical necessity. And learning how to ram isn’t exactly rocket science; what you need to focus on practicing in order to achieve success in the long term is when you should go for the ram, because as I said it really is a useful weapon in a lot of situations.
There is also the psychological effect. People are scared of the E50 because they don’t want to get rammed, and you can sometimes use this to intimidate them; get them to stop, hesitate, or back off. Bonus damage from tracking enemies is always a good thing. Taking their tracks off with a ram may be worth losing your own tracks if your opponent gets stuck in a really bad spot.
The simple fact is that if you are not ramming people at opportune moments, you aren’t fully “playing to the strengths” of your vehicle, as they say.
The top 10,5 cm Kw.K. L/52 Ausf. B is the only reasonable choice for the E50, and many players go for unlocking that one first; which I think is the right choice. With 220 mm of penetration and 350 alpha damage, you can at least fight back; even in a less mobiíle tank.
Fully upgraded you will have the worst DPM of any tier IX Medium except the autoloader, if you count on a few HESH rounds from the Centurion 7/1 – and they will fire HESH at you. Half of tier IX Mediums carry tier X weapons that, although they have the same alpha, will shoot faster, and hit harder with their standard APCR shells.
You will however have them all beat at dispersion, armour, and ground resistances, and your premium APCR rounds are faster than theirs. Tier leading, in fact.
Dispersion may not sound like a real asset except when sniping at extreme range, but in fact it also helps when peekabooming and taking snap shots. Combined with your lightning quick aimtime and amazing shell speed, you will hit snap shots and no-scopes more often than you might think.
Other than being the joint most accurate gun in the game, your weapon may not be very exciting, but it is reliable, and the more you rely on it, the more it will perform. Your only weakness is DPM, and there are several ways of negating that. In most situations, either use your armour or just stay in cover.
So yeah, there are a lot of things you need to learn, need to practice, and need to get used to. But it all pays off, because as much as everyone agrees the E50 grind is one of the absolute worst in the game, they all also agree the kitted out E50 is a great tank.
The E50 hasn’t been rendered obsolete by the changing game environment; in fact it has benefited more from recent changes than many others have. It’s strong in its tier, and it’s easily one of the best tier IX Mediums you can get your hands on.
Learning to drive it isn’t very difficult once you figure out your strong points and how to use them effectively; it just takes practice.
The greater challenge is going to be playing tier IX in a Medium tank in the first place. Being quick to adapt to unfolding situations is more of an art than a skill; it’s something you develop rather than learn.
The next step is of course learning to adapt to situations before they develop. With 60 km/h top speed it doesn’t have to be very long before.
But driving an E50 shouldn’t be a chore; it should be fun. And rushing headlong into a bad situation can actually be useful, because every time you do you become a little better prepared for when you are, inevitably, forced into the same type of situation again later.
And for that reason, IrmaBecx says don’t forget to go for the ram!