Why Do Good Players Like the 121 B?
So a curious thing happened; practically all the pro players I hang out with these days really like the 121 B, even though they all also agree the whole gambling angle is pants. It got to where I was so enthralled with the ease of operation and general likeable nature of the tank, I had completely forgotten to consider the impact of the 121 B on the game in the first place.
Still, it is kind of curious we all like it so much. I mean it’s nothing special. As concepts go, it’s not really all that novel. And it’s so familiar to drive; it’s like an old volvo or something.
But I think it’s actually pretty easy to explain. Let me just do some tank philosophising here.
What the 121 B is, is a Russian style Medium tank with a 350 alpha 105 mm gun. The end. You can look all you want, but it’s not going to get any more exciting than that. The stats aren’t even that good, but it has to be said none of them are really bad either.
And so with the familiar front plate and round turret, the experienced player will click right away with the playstyle. The drive will be recognisable, as will the 105 mm LC7; it’s just the two together in the same package is kind of new.
So you can use bits from different Medium driving styles, and end up having some great games, because the thing is going to respond exactly the way you think it will. Here is where being unoriginal becomes a good thing; the 121 B is a tiny little twist on very familiar concepts, enough of a twist to be kind of fun, but not enough to make it at all strange or counter intuitive.
On the contraty; the fact that driving the 121 B is so intuitive, is I think the main reason good players fall so hard for it.
And me. I fell too.
The Important Question
But Bushka reminded me the introduction of the 121 B means people can now, effectively, buy their way into tier X. And if you thought the Löwe got a bad rep for being a tank driven exclusively by hapless wallet warriors who have no business being anywhere near tier VIII, it’s easy to imagine what would happen if the thing was sold outright.
I hadn’t considered that. As a player with several tier X tanks already and closing in on 20.000 games, I am not the problem demographic. Approaching the 121 B as a tank philosopher and Community Contributor with a special interest in tier X Medium tanks, the thing makes total sense. Not only is it easy to drive and very likeable, it’s also very finely balanced and fills a niche among tier X Mediums. It may not be wildly exciting, but it is reliable, effective, and very user friendly.
For me, the only question is how do I get my hands on one. I drove 500 games in my Type 59 already; there’s no reason why I wouldn’t drive thousands in the 121 B. Best idea ever.
As I’ve said I decided I wasn’t going to gamble for it, though. I understand Wargaming has to make money to keep my press account stocked with gold and free spare parts, but as a consumer I don’t want to support the business practices I am not comfortable with.
If the 121 B had been sold, I would have bought it. If it was a grind, and I had to finish it with gold, I would have finished it with gold. I think the 121 B is a very attractive proposition, and as I said I’ve already made the decision I want to get one.
So faced with the fait accompli that the 121 B is already in the game, and that the M60 made the question of tier X “Premium” tanks moot before the 121 B was even in the planning stages, the remaining question becomes: Now that the 121 B is already in the game, what kind of business practices do I want to support in order to actually get one?
Because that’s all we can do. If we don’t like gambling, then we shouldn’t buy boxes. It really is that simple, because if we all stopped buying boxes and kept buying gold, Wargaming would, sooner or later, start selling less boxes and more gold bundles. That’s how capitalism works, and it’s what we have to deal with.
Again trying to separate the important questions from the fact that I, personally, really want to own the 121 B; If it were sold in the store as a bundle, I would buy it. Even if it was super expensive, I would probably justify the purchase; with pure, extravagant elitism if all else failed. But the thing is I don’t really want the 121 B to be sold in the store as a regular bundle, because that’s the whole issue.
You see the underlying question here is simple: In what way should the 121 B be made available to players?
And let me say this: I am not necessarily opposed to “noob” players having access to tanks they really have no business driving. I tend to look at the game from a long term perspective, and against that background owning a good high tier tank is never a bad thing, because you will get there. I have owned my Leopard 1 for years at this point, and I am only now getting around to being able to actually drive it.
So the problem, really, is I don’t think “noobs” make very good decisions when it comes to buying tanks. Their lack of experience mean they can’t predict whether or not they are making a worthwhile investment. Add to this the possibility of overspending because of the gambling mechanic involved, and things start looking pretty bad.
As it is, my honest opinion is however that you could do a hell of a lot worse for yout first tier X tank than the 121 B. It’s got some armour, the mobility is good, and it has a tier-standard weapon. I mean what could go wrong? It has all the tools you need to survive at tier X, and they are also easy to use. The only real problem is going to be the death stars, but everyone has to deal with those.
So the thing works. It’s a good tank. Well balanced. As unimpressed as I am with the gambling boxes, I have to give Wargaming credit for the actual product; I think they did everything right with that. At leas no one will end up with a tank that doesn’t work. They may end up with a tank they don’t know how to work, but that is a different matter and it can be solved with practice.
But there are other ways the 121 B could be made available. Some kind of reward for clearing stages. A long mission grind. A set of tasks to complete. Say it would take you a few months of playing, but in theory anyone could do it. Something like that would be my preference.
I would also support some kind of grind event. The more boxes that were involved the less I would like it, but I would very likely spend some gold to finish a grind like that if I felt it was at least theoretically possible to do it without gold.
So the next time the 121 B comes around; and it will come around, because it can still make Wargaming money, ask yourself this: do I like the way this tank is being presented enough to support it? Because if you don’t, then not participating is the only way you can influence Wargamings business decisions in the future.
We’ve seen tanks once thought unique and exclusive return to the game enough times not to worry a certain tank isn’t going to be sold ever again. What we need to be worried about is how they are being sold.
Because as much as I agree with Bushka tier X is a special place and everyone should earn their right to be there by grinding a tier X tank themselves; and the reason for that is the immense sense of pride and accomplishment it gives you, we do live in a post-M60 world now, and these things will continue to sell.
And when they do, have a think about what is going on and how you feel about it. Don’t like these tanks at all? Don’t buy them. Like the tank but not the price, or the event? Don’t buy it, wait for the next opportunity.
I don’t mind supporting Wargaming when they do something good, and I do. I spent some gold so I could grind out the 121 faster. But I didn’t buy any 121 B boxes. So the next time they flash a shiny new tank in front of us, please make sure you make an informed decision about it, and remember: deciding not to paticipate is also a decision; sometimes it’s the best one.