FCM 50t – The Sensible Choice?
So I bought the FCM 50t when it first dropped. At that point I was deep into Mediums, and of course it was French as well. It was also huge, weakly armoured, and it only had a 90 mm gun, but I didn’t care, I wanted one anyway.
That’s more than a year ago now, and these days the FCM is in the regular tech tree. It’s also been buffed slightly, and I don’t really have an opinion of that because it’s been quite a long while since I actually drove it in earnest.
That happens sometimes with tanks. I may really like them, but it just never seems to be the right moment to drive them. I do always have the intention to get around to doing so, and if there’s one thing that can get you in the mood for driving a huge, weakly armoured French Medium tank, it’s driving a huge, weakly armoured French Tank Destroyer, which is what I’ve been doing lately. At least the Medium tank has a turret.
I have a lot of credit grinder type vehicles, but I don’t tend to drive them a lot; and when I do, I most often run the full-race combat setup so I don’t end up making all that much credits. But running a cheaper setup, you should be able to make 20-30.000 a game without a Premium account. My main credit grinder used to be the Type 59, but that has now been replaced by the FCM because I just like driving it better.
I really like the FCM 50t, and there is of course a lot more to it than just having a turret. And since it has now become my daily driver, I thought I’d put it through its paces and find out what it’s really all about, for all you new owners and prospective buyers out there.
First off the thing is huge; and I mean really, really big. It’s bigger than an E75; almost the size of a Maus, I kid you not. But it also has massive power, almost twice that of other tier VIII Medium except for the AMX CDC. It was originally a Heavy tank, and it still has pretty sturdy armour for a Medium tank, although the angles aren’t exactly optimal. You also get Heavy tank hitpoints, which helps a bit.
80 mm side armour should mean you can sidescrape comfortably, but for some reason the rear drive wheels extend outwards from the hull a little bit, and so it’s actually possible to hit the engine module through the wheel even though the rest of the side armour is at an autobounce angle:
Also the turret is mounted way forward, which means you most often need to expose the front plate when sidescraping. The shallow angle makes it better suited to peeking around corners; the front plate will be a 50/50 pen for most tier VIII weapons at 60 degrees, and many tier VII guns won’t get through:
8 degrees of gun depression is bog standard, and many of your peers will have 10 degrees. Gun stats on the 90 mm Canon Schneider are pretty mediocre, but you have good penetration, good shell speed, and good accuracy. “Good” in this case does not mean “German”.
53 tons going at 55 km/h makes for a potent ram, just make sure your opponent isn’t sturdier than you are.
But the greatest strength of the FCM 50t is mobility. That’s what makes the tank work in spite of its glaring deficiencies; you can dance around your opponents in a manner that is simply unbelievable for such a big and heavy tank. Both speed and mobility will often catch your enemies off guard; the element of surprise is one of your most potent weapons.
So basically, you have solid weaponry, really good mobility, and you can bounce a shot or two, especially from same and lower tier opponents. That’s not a bad trade off for having to work around the size of the thing and some pretty average soft stats.
I used to drive my own FCM with stage I equipment, but it is a good candidate for upgrades and I ended up putting stage II equipment plus Vstabs on it. It’s a useful vehicle in many ways; it makes credits, it supports an active playstyle, and it can play Supremacy. You could certainly do a lot worse for a daily driver or mission grinder.
Also the FCM can actually use all of the equipment upgrades. It’s already fast and maneouverable, so turbo charging it makes sense. It has exactly the kind of armour that benefits the most from the armour upgrade; it will often be red tinted rather than completely red, so those 5 % more bounces will really count for something. And if you don’t believe in soft stats, you already have a good amount of hitpoints so adding 5 % to that would also make sense.
The gun handling on the 90 mm DCA 45 is a common complaint; like I said it’s mediocre compared to other tier VIII Mediums. GLD and Vstabs or a rifled barrell will bring you up to German standard.
Being a big target, you will want to carry dual repair kits, and maybe a small medkit as well. If you run consumables, go either double fuel or double rations depending on whether you feel the traverse or the crew skills are holding you back the most.
I usually run my regular combat setup: Adrenaline and dual repairs, super fuel and double rations, but lately I’ve switched to a cheaper setup: no provisions at all, and then medkit and dual repairs, because I need to grind some credits. Blowing adrenaline and both repair kits every game like I usually do will cost you over 10.000 credits, as does running expensive provisions, so there are savings to be made.
Penetrations numbers are already pretty good, especially for a flanker, so I run 13 rounds of APCR for those hard targets. You’re not likely to penetrate a heavily armoured tier IX tank frontally except through the lower plate. 90 mm HE is pretty useless; I often do less than 100 damage to Light tanks, but it can save you in a tight spot so I run 7 of those. With 91 rounds capacity, you can safely stock up if you think you might need more of either.
Driving the FCM 50t
So when you are done waiting on the timers, it’s time to roll out into battle. What I like to do is take a short drive in a training room first, just to get uset to how the tank moves, check the gun depression, and shoot at some windows to get a feel for the accuracy.
You can feel the thing used to be a Heavy tank. If I had said that when it first came out, it would have sounded preposterous, because we didn’t really have any lightly armoured Heavy tanks in the game back then, but it kind of moves like one. The size helps give that impression, but with that massiveengine, you won’t have any trouble dancing around all over the place.
And you need to be moving around. The FCM has been in the game for a while now, and people will be gunning for you because they know you’re a big target with mediocre armour. In such a big tank, there aren’t as many places for you to go hull down and hide, and getting caught in crossfire means quick and certain destruction. Standard Medium flanking tactics is your best bet; fighting Light tanks and other Mediums, creating crossfire, and then helping to mop up the big guns towards the end.
Sounds simple? Too easy, maybe? Well, yes. Driving a Medium tank at all these days is kind of a chore between the hordes of Heavys, lurking doom cannon TDs, and high alpha Light tanks. Finding yourself up against four or five tier IX Heavy tanks will tend to give you that sinking feeling. And taking a 1000 hitpoint hit from some remote bush will certainly minimise your combat effectiveness.
But you are sometimes going to have to trade some hitpoints to get your shots in. At close range, pretty much everyone will be firing straight at your front plate and going right through it; the only bounces you are likely to get are off the sides, and sometimes the turret front. Fighting lower tier enemies you can be more of a bully, but against pretty much any other tier VIII Medium you will be on an equal footing stat wise, so you will need to use cover and mobility to negate their damage output and try to outplay them.
Considering the Alternatives
Buying the FCM for me had a lot to do with “new tank syndrome” and the fact it was the first French tank in the game. But I would still buy it today; and cheaper too, because these days it is of course a regular tech tree Premium tank.
If you don’t want to wait for the next Premium bundle, your only other option for a tier VIII Premium Medium tank today would be the SuperPershing; a fine vehicle also, but not really a true Medium. It’s much slower and less powerful, but in return it has that HEAT-proof turret that lets you go hull down effectively. If you are looking for an armoured Medium, the SuperPershing is the better choice.
Likewise the T-54 Mod 1 or First Prototype is all about the armour, and somewhat reminiscent of a Heavy tank playstyle. The Hype 59 is legendary for being super expensive; way overpriced I would say for what is basically a knockoff Russian T-54 at tier VIII, but also a fine tank. The Panther 8.8 doesn’t have any kind of useable armour, but it has had its gun handling buffed to now be among the best in the game.
Then there is the AMX CDC. I would have bought that one too if it had been possible; sadly I didn’t have much luck in the CDC event. But as far as tier VIII Mediums go, it’s the ultimate “high risk/high reward” machine. Compared to the CDC, the FCM is definitely the sensible choice.
But none of those tanks are readily available. The FCM may not be “Mr. Right” for you, but it can be “Mr. right now”, or at least “Mr. right after the timers have run down on the equipment slots”.
Stop Stalling, Irma!
I got the question recently whether or not I would recommend the French Char Magnifique, and as usual it kind of put me on the spot. What keeps me from doing so has little to do with the tank itself, and more with the current game environment.
The thing is, I can’t recommend anyone driving a Medium tank out there these days. The fact we have a few more weeks of missile tanks notwithstanding, lower calibre weapons are becoming less and less viable, and yes, 90 mm at tier VIII is a “low calibre” weapon. The sensible thing to do is to just give up and start grinding for a campy doom cannon TD or a Heavy tank with balanced armour and dependable alpha damage just like everyone else.
It’s the same with tier X Mediums. I can’t really get behind recommending any of them either, although they are all great tanks in their own right; what I can’t recommend is driving a tier X Medium in the first place.
Also the FCM doesn’t really have any standout features; no trick it can do that always works, nothing it does especially well or anything like that. It’s one of those tanks that becomes greater than the sum of its parts once you get comfortable driving it. Having power and mobility is a great asset; perhaps the greatest you can have, because it allows you to put thought into action and go where you are most needed. If you can’t do that, then the FCM is just a big, stationary target, and of course that’s no fun.
The truth is, all tier VIII Mediums are kind of weak, because they are Mediums, and they are at tier VIII. There is no really good choice, because a tier VIII Medium is kind of a bad choice to begin with. Driving a Medium is something you have to want to do.
But personally? Yes. I love my FCM 50t, I love the way it drives, and I think it looks great, although perhaps not exactly beautiful. Spending the spare parts on it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in game recently (…and if you’ve ever seen me play that may not be saying all that much, but still… ). It may look quirky, but there’s really nothing strange about it; it’s a Medium tank the size of a Heavy tank with two Heavy tank engines stuffed in it. It’s not that hard to drive; you just have to work on your positional play, it’s not expensive to run if that’s a concern for you, and it’s… well, French.
The Bottom Line
So with the caveat that you do actually want to drive a Medium, you understand the armour isn’t all that great, the weapon is mediocre for the tier, and the thing is big as a house, then yes: I do recommend the FCM 50t, because in some inexplicable way, those things all add up to a great tank. And no matter what happens, Medium tanks will always be relevant on account of their versatility. The less people tend to drive them, the more important the ones that are left will become on the battlefield.
If you are a halfway decent driver, you are curious about French tanks, or you are shopping for a credit grinder or daily driver with a Medium playstyle, IrmaBecx says the French Char Magnifique 50t could be just what you are looking for.
I was going to end on a “Vive la France ” here, but it sounds a bit cheesy so I won’t. I’ll get my coat…