More Foch than you can shake a stick at!

 

The following represents the bulk of my writings on the French higher tier Tank Destroyers, assembled here for your convenience and edification. Please note tiers I through VI are not discussed.

 

Foch Yeah! The AMX 50 Foch (155) and other High Tier French Tank Destroyers

By:

IrmaBecx

 

Being a Community Contributor has its perks. For one thing, I was able to drive the new tier X French TD the AMX 50 Foch 155 mere minutes after the update dropped, and for that opportunity, I really have to say “Thank you, Wargaming!®”.

Because it’s great. It totally won me over. I was afraid the 155 mm non-autoloading gun would be a letdown, but it’s not. I was afraid it would be too sluggish, but it’s not. And I was fully expecting it to be totally weak, but it most definitely isn’t.

I wasn’t the only gold noob out there; I saw at least one “Destroyer” camoed Foch 155 in every tier X game. I guess the Unicorns were slumming it, testing out the new tank before springing it on their unsuspecting peers in Ranked battles.

Having picked the cherry from the cake like this, you might expect the preceding tanks in the Foch line to have become less attractive to me, but in fact that was not the case. From tier VII on, you are dealing with the same basic desigh philosophy; an elongated box with an angled front plate, a rangefinder on top and a solid weapon pointing forwards. At tier VII, it’s kind of tall and has a prominent hatch/rangefinder arrangement, and at tier X it’s lower to the ground, more sleek and aggressive looking. The gradual progression is reminiscent of the Panther line.

 

AMX AC 46 ready for action!

 

Being an early adopter like this can sometimes give you a slightly skewed opinion of the tank. You are driving a fully kitted out vehicle that most people haven’t seen before, aren’t used to dealing with, and may sometimes be more interested in looking at than shooting at. The exhilaration of winning my first few games soon gave way to the sobering realisation that these are turretless Tank Destroyers after all, and there are limits as to what they can do.

But there is also a lot of potential in the Foch line. And they’re not as hard to play as I imagined they would be. In fact, there are a lot of things to like about the AMX Tank Destroyers.

 

The Bad News

So you’lll be driving a casemate style Tank Destroyer. That in itself is kind of a hassle. It’s been years since I roamed old Desert Sands in my big German TDs, and I sometimes find myself kind of at a loss how to play a huge turreless monster like this at higher tiers. It’s easy to just go to familiar Medium spots that turn out to be way too far forward.

The fact that your gun arc is limited adds to the claustrofobic feeling of not being able to turn your “head” and point your gun at the enemy. None of them have more than 10 degrees of traverse to either side, and the 155 gets a measly 6 degrees. Gun depression also gets worse and worse, starting from the tier VII AC 46 which has 10 degrees, ending with 5 degrees at tier X. The Tier VII also has less traverse to the left than to the right; something to note when setting up your shots.

Speaking of shots, your penetration values may be solid, but they do rely on you actually hitting the target, which can sometimes be difficult with the awkward aiming arc. With dispersion values around 0.32, not letting the gun settle will often send the shell off on an unexpected tangent, and you don’t always have time to aim properly if you want to get the shot off at all.

Aside from the “new tank syndrome”, there are other reasons you’ll be a preferred target. The AMXes are all big with flat sides, and except for their front plates, nothing is really thicker than 50 mm anywhere. BIg guns will overmatch your sides and rear, and you are extra vulnerable to HESH and HE ammunition. The fact you don’t have a turret will make Lights and Mediums push up on you and try to circle; even Heavy tanks will try and get past you.

In the words of Sir Foch himself; Life is hard.

 

AMX 50 Foch pushing forward on Copperfield

 

The Good News

Let me start by saying I think the Foches look great. That may not be a concern for everyone, and you may personally not agree they look pretty at all. But the underlying design philosophy comes from the German Jagdpanzer school of thought, so what you’re really driving is an overgrown French Jagdpanther with a bigger engine in it. The AMX TDs also share a lot of similarities with the Russian Object 263 line, the SU-122-44 and the American T25 AT.

My point is you may well have driven a similar vehicle before. I found I got into the “angle-and-reverse” pretty fast, because it works the same as with any other slanted front plate TD. Having bombed around in the Yolo Wagon and the Hillbilly Tenk certainly helped figuring out the playstyle, but of course the Foch doesn’t have the DPM they do. Because Russia.

But the guns are good, and they follow the French Heavy tanks in having higher tier weapons. Tier VII has a tier VIII 100 mm, and you get a tier X gun already at tier VIII. I tried running the tier VII AC 46 with the 90 mm gun; that gives you higher DPM but lower alpha and lower AP penetration, and I found it worked really well. I suspect the 100 mm on the tier VIII SA 48 is also viable (EDIT: It’s really not), but that does have lower penetration on the APCR than the 120 mm has on standard AP, which might be an issue.

You’ll also be happy to know the front plates work. I’ve been getting stuck in and up close and personal, and with a bit of angling and juking, you can actually bounce a lot of shots. I’ve been on super low health with only those 120 millimeters between me and some big scary guns, and still gotten bounce after bounce.

I’ve also been penned several times in a row while in cover trying to peekaboom, and as soon as you’re spotted you know people start turning their turrets because you’re a juice target and so all of a sudden there’s that shot from side or back, but this is supposed to be “good news” after all.

I mentioned Heavy tanks will sometimes try and get past you, and when they do they think they’re in the clear. But my Foches have surprised quite a few of them with their mobility, and I have sometimes come out on top. They all have a rated top speed of 50 and around 20 hp/ton, so they do get around. In fact, they are a bit faster than I expected, and short flanking especially works really well.

So you have good mobility, reasonable armour protection, and solid weaponry. All you need to do is work on the playstyle, and as long as you keep your enemies in front of you, you’ll be fine.

 

AMX AC 48 “Baby Foch” armour profile

 

The Prospect

I’m not going to presume to teach anyone how to actually drive a Tank Destroyer at higher tiers. It’s not my forté, and a few hours of bombing around in gold-noobed AMXes doesn’t make me an expert.

But it made me excited about them. I’ve already done the grind on my own account, and I’’ve kept the top four vehicles. For me as a Medium driver, the French TDs bring something new to the game, at least if I don’t feel like driving Soviets. They don’t limit me to camping at the back or trundling along behind the Heavies; I can go out on the flanks, I can hold a position, and I can brawl with some degree of confidence.

If you feel similarly excited, I am here to tell you that the high tier French Tank Destroyers, once fully upgraded and with stage I equipment on them, are worthwhile machines. Although challenging, they’re not exceedingly difficult to drive, and although my performance so far has been fairly mediocre, I feel there is still a lot of untapped potential, and that’s what makes me most excited of all.

IrmaBecx says Get Foched!

 

TLDR

IrmaBecx has fallen really hard for the Foches and is rambling on about “design philosophies” and “untapped potential” in the usual manner. Unless you are a Francophile Tank Destroyer Elitist, maybe take this one with a grain of salt.

 

AMX 50 Foch (155) cleaning up on Mirage

 

AMX AC Mle. 46: The Foch Trainer

 

So I’m going to try and do a proper review on the AMX AC 46, and not just ramble on about how amazing I think all the Foches are. I realise not everyone is going to have the same reaction to what are, basically, pretty standard casemate Tank Destroyers.

The French line up until tier VI is a pretty random collection of vehicles; I skipped a few personally because life is too short to drive boring tanks. Im sure some of these little oddities will have their rennaisance in a few months when the climate has changed and they aren’t everywhere, but I didn’t really find one I liked among them.

Tier VII and up, it’s all Foch. You may not think so at first glance, but even the AMX AC 46 is a real Foch, even though it kind of looks like it swallowed a Jagdpanther. This is good news for several reasons. You will know early on if these tanks are for you or not, because after tier VII, it’s just more of the same. A lot of the modules carry over. There is less adjustment when switching tiers, you don’t have to learn a new playstyle; it’s just variations on the same one.

 

Basic Foch

In any of the AMXes, you’ll get 50 tons of tank roughly the size of a Tiger II hull, with a long cannon sticking out of it. Guns are powerful, but not tier leading, and gun handling is solid but not spectacular. If you run the top guns, you shouldn’t have to use very many Premium shells, and you’ll pretty much have Heavy tank alpha damage. You’ll have an angled front plate that will be a hard pen for most same tier weapons.

You’ll also get somewhere around 20 horsepower per ton, and a rated top speed of 50 km/h, but only 12-13 km/h backwards. Hull traverse will be around 25 degrees, give or take.

The AMX AC 46 differs from the other three Foches in that it’s taller, it has a shelf behind the hatches, and the front plate is slightly arched; it’s not completely flat. The range finder and hatches are also much larger than on the succeeding models. It looks rougher; kind of unfinished, and that’s exactly what it is. It’s an early prototype.

As your engine power increases with the tiers, your gun arc gets smaller and smaller. The AC 46 has a comfortable 10 degrees of gun depression, and it aims 7 degrees to the left, and 10 degrees to the right. Three degrees might not seem significant, or even noticeable, but you will get a better angle on your frontal armour peeking to the right than you will peeking to the left.

That’s about it. I told you they were pretty much standard casemate TDs.

 

Driving the AC 46

As you are grinding the AC 46, you are going to have to stay way at the back initially. The stock gun is pretty weak, and you’re not going to have the mobility to brawl and juke just yet. It’s not that much fun, but take the opportunity to work on knowing your long range sniping positions.

Once you get the 90 mm DCA 45, you are home free. That will put out 3000 DPM with a rammer; 200 more than the 100 mm AC SA 47, and although the 90 mm doesn’t have the fear factor or the bullying potential of the tier larger tier VIII gun, you will just chew people up with it. Do note however, you are giving up 30 mm of penetration for about one more 90 mm rounds worth of damage per minute. Both guns are perfectly viable to use, but if you are continuing on up the line, you might as well grind the AC SA 47 on the AC 46. That will give you a better start on the AC 48 grind.

Make sure you put coated optics on your AC 46 first thing, there’s nothing worse than being blind as a bat in a TD. All Foches work fine with basic stage I equipment, but if you find you really like them, they respond very well to further equipment upgrades; mobility, gun handling and armour protection all sharpen up a little bit, and you can play a little bit closer to the edge of your performance.

There are a few things you want to think about as you are learning to roll with the 46. It has the fastest aimtime, the best gun arc, and the best gun depression of all the AMX TDs; the gun handling is going to get worse with every tier, so you don’t want to get too used to relying these particular strengths. You want to get used to peeking around corners rather than peeking over hills, because that’s what the other Foches do best.

That is not to say you shouldn’t use the gun depression at all. You need to hide those weak spots, and of course you should use all the strengths at your disposal. But the point is Foches are not hull down machines, because you are always going to have those prominent weak spots on top of them.

OK, so you’re in a French TD with a big gun, you’ve finished the grind and you have all the modules on it, but it still doesn’t seem all that special. There isn’t really anything that stands out other than maybe the guns, but none of them have tier leading penetration or HESH or anything like that.

What’s special about the AMXes isn’t the tanks themselves, but the actual gameplay they make possible. You have good mobility, good armour, and good firepower, and you pay for all that with slow reverse speed and some weak hatches. From that perspective, it’s really not a bad trade off at all.

 

Foch Tactics

I’m not a huge Tank Destroyer player, so for me the French TDs have been more discovery than adjustment. They do have a special playstyle, but it’s not unique. Tanks like the SU-122-44, T25 AT, Jagdpanther or the Obj 263/268 all play similarly.

So words like “firepower” and “mobility” are pretty abstract, and it’s not always immediately apparent how they translate into actual gameplay. I thought I’d go through each category and try to give some examples.

Lets start with Mobility. The AC 46 is fast, especially in a straight line. That means you can rush to take positions and get early shots in. It also means you can short flank quickly and take your enemies by surprise, and try to break deadlocks.

By a “deadlock” I mean a situation where two opposing groups of tanks are facing each other at a choke point, and the whole thing has turned into an exercise in peekaboo, DPM and hitpoint trading. If you can disengage, relocate, and start shooting from a position off to one side and create a crossfire, a single tank can turn the tide of battle, and break the deadlock by taking out targets or at least keep them occupied or force them to turn or reposition, allowing your team to finally break out and advance.

Your speed, therefore, is one of your greatest strengths, and using speed to your advantage is also the greatest challenge when driving any of the Foches, because speed can of course also get you very, very deep in trouble very, very fast.

Your traverse numbers are OK, but not fantastic. You can brawl faster tanks and sometimes come out in top, but really, moving backwards and sideways aren’t your greatest strengths, so be careful when you need to move in those directions. The important thing is to never give up; always try to get out of these seemingly hopeless situations, because you will learn from them and be better prepared next time, and as long as you have a single hitpoint left, you can still use your armour, firepower and mobility and be an asset to your team.

The most important thing to learn about the mobility is that although it’s not tier leading on paper, and there are several vehicles that can top it, any Foch is still a lot faster than your enemies expect it to be. By learning to use the mobility of your AC 46 properly, you will be “playing to the strengths of your vehicle”, as they say. Also note the slow reverse speed; you need to be prepared for that. You don’t want to put yourself in situations where you push forward too far and then don’t have enough time to pull back.

Next up, Firepower. Yes, the Foches all have good if not exceptional firepower, and as I said, on the AC 46 you have the choice of high ROF, lower alpha and better DPM, or higher alpha, more penetration, and slightly lower damage output.

Over a minute, the total difference is around 200 damage. That’s a low roll on a 90 mm shell. There will be situations where higher alpha will get you the win, and there will be situations where beating someones reload will get you the win. If you are sticking with the AC 46, the 90 mm is fine, but if you’re going up the line, you’ll want to run the 100 mm AC SA 47. The AC 48 and Foch both use a 120 mm top gun, and at tier X you will have to deal with a 155 mm doom cannon, so learning how to work the higher alpha weapons makes a lot of sense.

But as long as you are aware of this, tearing people apart with the 90 mm is a lot of fun, so don’t deny yourself that just because the 100 mm is the “proper” choice.

The gun handling is good, but again not stellar. The further up the line I go, the more shots I seem to miss, so be aware these guns can be a bit derpy at times. This is in part a function of the casemate design itself, and the AC 46 shares this problem with other similar tanks. The lack of a turret means getting that second shot off isn’t always going to happen; again it’s something you need to get used to. If you take just a split second more to let the gun settle, that can make a world of difference.

Driving in sniper mode too much is a common mistake in any Tank Destroyer, and you’ll want to do this as little as possible. Both the top guns have enough penetration to allow you to no-scope, and in a brawling situation, that may often be your best bet. If you don’t actually have to aim to get penetration, try and trust in the weapon and just no-scope it. Not only does it look cool and feel good when it works, it also allows you to maintain situational awareness and plan your movements further in advance.

Finally, the Armour. The AC 46 is big, and it has prominent weak spots situated on top, but this you will get used to really quickly. You will soon learn to avoid avoid silhouetting yourself on mounds and ridges, preferring to keep to the low ground and peeking around cover. Everyone knows about the weak spots by now. You know them, your opponents know them, and it’s simply a question of dealing with the fact.

The fact is the front plate is legit. 120 mm doesn’t sound like much, but you will bounce a lot of stuff off it, and it is one of your main strengths. At longer ranges people will aim for centre mass, and that’s where your strongest armour is.

The 40 mm of side armour isn’t fantastic, and there are guns at tier VI already that will overmatch it. But angling up, you will still bounce most tier VI and VII guns off the sides.

At shorter ranges, your front and side armour together with a bit of juking and wiggling will make you a hard pen for many same and higher tier targets. You are by no means impervious to damage, but you have some real opportunities to mitigate incoming damage, and this, also, is one of your main strengths. Bottom line is, you can trust the AC 46 armour more than you think, but you can’t always rely on it.

 

Final words

So yeah, the Foch Trainer. It kind of looks like a trainer; one of those 1990s vintage Reebok Pump, perhaps. And it’s also a great training vehicle if you fancy yourself a higher tier Foch driver.

I thought I was going to be really disappointed in the high tier French Tank Destroyers, or at least the tier VII and VIII, but that’s just not been the case. Basically, you are playing the same vehicle, only balanced for their respective tiers. I’ve heard a people say the Foches are underpowered, or even weak, but I just can’t agree with that.

I will agree they’re not overpowered. I will agree they sometimes struggle. I will agree they are a long and hard grind that will sometimes bring you to tears and make you swear off being a Francophile forever. But I don’t agree they are weak; I actually think WG did a great job balancing the Foch line, because the higher tiers feel a lot like the same tank only at different tiers.

Tier VII has a lot of strong tanks, a lot of fast tanks, and driving a casemate TD, you’re not always going to be able to carry the game, even if it’s fast like a Foch. But the AMX AC 46 is right up there; once you get the thing upgraded with stage I equipment and start figuring out the playstyle, you are going to be a tier VII force to be reckoned with.

You may think what I’m doing here is trying to make a mediocre tank look good, but you have to differentiate between something being mediocre and being well balanced. I firmly believe the high tier French TDs belong in the latter category.

As much as I love the “real” Foches, the AMX AC tanks are very obviously part of the same family, and even though they may look a bit strange, they do the same job, and they do it really well. If you have slogged your way through the oddities of tiers II – VI, the tier VII AMX AC 46 is where you are going to make the decision whether or not you want to be an actual Foch driver some day.

And for that very reason, IrmaBecx says drive one today.

 

AMX AC mle. 48: The Baby Foch!

 

I would like to start with a bit of a disclaimer here. The Foch line is a hard grind, and I’ve thrown a fair bit of free XP at mine. Bone stock, and with low crew skills, these vehicles are all super frustrating to play, and you are basically resigned to camping at the back, trying to farm damage and XP as best you can.

The higher tier vehicles all rely on their speed, and before they have upgraded tracks and engines, the mobile-TD-that-can-get-a-bounce playstyle just isn’t going to work. You are better off working on your situational awareness and trying not to get boxed in by the reds.

What I’m driving right now, is a fully upgraded AC 48 with stage one equipment and 100% crew. On the press account, I have Vstabs on it, and I just dropped the spare parts on the engine upgrade on my regular account one, because I’m totally keeping it. ❤

 

AMC AC 48 short flanking on winter Malinowka

 

So… You want to drive a Foch?

You ground your way through the Foch Trainer, and now you’re faced with a vehicle that looks more like the coveted Foch Destroyer, but they’ve put some kind of huge turret on it? Your initial reaction to it may be less than enthusiastic.

But the top gun is the same 120 mm AC SA 47 the tier IX Foch uses, it’s lower to the ground, and you now have 150 mm of frontal armour at a more severe angle. The AC 48 has the same horsepower, weighs almost exactly the same, but manages one more km/h backwards, and a few more degrees of traverse than the old AC 46.

Which is nice.

You now also have the same aiming arc left and right, but only six degrees of gun depression. Terrain resistances are slightly better, but it’s still not a great climber.

You still have prominent weak spots on the roof, although not quite as big, but your sides and rear are still just 40 mm thick, meaning you will be overmatched by the same 122 mm guns as before.

Which isn’t so great.

But basically, what you have is a tier VIII Foch. It looks like a Foch, it moves like a Foch, it shoots like a Foch, and it plays like a Foch. If you choose to continue up the line, you will find it’s just improvements on the same basic Tank Destroyer concept.

 

Baby Foch Weaponry

On the AC 46, it’s pretty much your choice of top guns; 90 or 100 mm. But at tier VIII, I can’t recommentd using the 100 mm other than for grinding; you are missing almost 60 mm pen, although the DPM is much higher. This is sort of a moot point, since to get to the Foch you need to grind the 120 mm gun anyway, but do try and get it as fast as you can, because it really is what makes this tank.

With the small aiming arc and so-so gun depression, shooting at people can be quite awkward, especially at close to intermediate ranges, and so having high penetration and bigger alpha is going to be really helpful.

If you’ve come this far, you’ll know by now the French have sketchy gun handling at times, and the AC 48 is no exception. I often let the shell go too early and donk shots all over the place, but I wouldn’t call it unreliable. Baby Foch has the second highest standard AP penetration of all the tier VIII TDs, and will out-penetrate any tier VIII Heavy tank. Yes, that is a tier X weapon, pretty much straight off the AMX 50 B minus the autoloader.

The small aiming arc also makes shooting moving targets at range awkward, because the gun will move the hull all the time and mess up the reticule. If you have a reasonably clear shot, you might be better off trying to no-scope it.

The 120 mm is a bully when top tier, and there aren’t really tanks at tier IX you are going to struggle to pen frontally with standard AP, except of course for the T95. But you will penetrate the hatches if you can hit them, and you will go straight through the roof. Not just on the doom turtle; many tier VIII Heavy tanks have weak turret roofs – look for Russian IS series and Americans especially.

But the front plate and the big engine are just as much the Baby Foches weapons as the gun is, to expand a little on Guderians maxim. The gun is strong, but it’s the platform that makes it truly dangerous.

 

Baby Foch Lessons

So once you have your AC 48 upgraded and all the timers have run out, it’s time to start pushing the limits a little. You will be fine with just stage I, credit bought equipment, but as I said, the AC 48 is a good candidate for upgrades. Engine boost will help with climbing hills and with traversing. You have exactly the kind of armour that benefits from upgrading. And since the reticle is so skittish, both GLD and Vstabs will give you an edge.

On a casemate TD, you may also want the suspension/repair module, and maybe even the consumable booster. I tend to use a lot of repair kits, so shortening the cooldown would be nice.

Here is where you may want to follow your own heart rather than mine. We are talking about a 100.000 spare part investment here, and you may have other tanks that you enjoy playing more. You should also consider your playstyle; if you snipe more than you brawl, and you tend not to push and move around so much, you will be fine with just stage I equipment.

Either way, this is where the fun starts, and you can start playing more active. Baby Foch will teach you her specific limitations in a series of lessons, in order to make you the best Foch driver you can be, and very likely you will have ground out the actual Foch long before you have learned them all properly.

I thought I would go through a few of these lessons for you, in no particular order.

 

Hide the hull!

Baby Foch doesn’t like crossfire; really not taking fire from any other angle than frontally. And as soon as you get lit up, people are going to be looking for shots at you, because they’ve heard about the weak spots and the thin side armour. I take way more damage from the sides and rear than I do from the weakspots on top.

For this reason, you want to reset camo as much as you can. You have a ten second reload to deal with, so make sure you pull back properly before you think about taking another shot. That will also give you time to look around, and at the minimap so you know what’s going on.

Stay in the valleys and behind ridges as much as you can. Out in the open, you are going to need to hide the hull behind the front plate. That will often work, and angling up helps you get those bounces, but remember you need really steep angles to bounce stuff off the side armour unless it’s a lower caliber weapon, so don’t overdo it.

Also don’t forget about the autocannon turret at the back. Peeking out around rather than over cover, and then reversing back at an angle will help you hide both that and the hull.

 

Hide the weakspots!

I mentioned the rear turret, but the hatches and range finder are both way up front, and this is what prevents you from being a hull down machine. You can go hull down, and you can peek ridges, but make sure you have an inattentive target or someone on a reload in front of you so you have enough time to pull back – remember that 13 km/h reverse speed. Peeking ridges should in any case not form the basis of your playstyle.

The best way to hide the weakspots is to peek around cover, but they are still there, and people will be gunning for them. Sometimes the best way to hide them is to charge forwards and get all up in someones face. This isn’t always a great idea; it depends on your adversary, but as you are so much faster forwards, you are more likely to throw off their aim. Be careful you don’t overshoot and let someone get around you, as that will of course expose your hull again.

A curious thing to note is that the AC 48 rangefinder is actually very slightly stronger towards the middle and weaker on both sides; not that it’s going to help a lot, it’s still weak. The tier IX rangefinder is weakest in the middle and has spaced armour on both sides, so really, on the Foch it’s only half as big.

 

Fire-Angle-Reverse

This is a Tank Destroyer classic, and it’s one of the things the AC 48 does best. Your favourite spot to work from on any map should be something like a big rock or a building with a bush beside it where you can reset camo and then peek out to get shots. Shooting from camo allows you a little more time to aim, which is good news for the skittish weapon.

But even if you don’t have very good cover, you should basically be doing the same thing: move forward to fire, and then reverse while juking and angling. Try to always keep working back and forth, because if you keep moving, you will also make it harder for your enemies to hit your weakspots.

 

Angling and Bouncing

I mentioned this already, but Baby Foch will teach you to angle your armour properly.

 

The Short Flank

With your 50 km/h top speed (mine does 54 downhill), you can cover short to intermediate distances really quickly, often much faster than your enemies expect. This makes the AC 48 an excellent short flanker, but make sure you are aware of the tactical situation before you rush off. You still need to hide the hull, watch out for crossfire, and all those other things.

Becoming a good short flanker takes practice, and I found a lot of my Medium experience doesn’t really apply here, because the lack of a turret will of course limit your agility. But you can take down any tank you are likely to meet, so as long as you don’t get focused, surrounded or someone gets behind you, a short flank or breakout can be worth the risk.

Short flanking is, I think, more of an art than a science, and over time you will develop a feel for when it might be worth it. Just keep in mind you do have the speed to flank if you get an opportunity.

 

Brawling and Bullying

With the Improved Control upgrade, I will get 48 degrees of traverse. That’s pretty good for a TD. Your biggest problem when people start getting too close is your slow reverse speed, so start reversing early, and go for tracking shots to buy more time. But overall, the AC 48 is an competent brawler, as long as you manage to keep them in front of you, you always have a chance.

Again, I have some residual Medium driver tendencies here; namely I tend to get a little too close. Remember moving and turning are more like two different activities in a casemate TD, that’s why you will need to maintain a little bit of distance.

Tier VII tanks you can often bully with ease, just don’t let them get around you, because anything bigger than a 75 mm will likely pen your sides with HE. Again, when I lose my brawls, it’s more often because I take crossfire than because I get penned through the front plate or the weakspots. But on the other hand, there really isn’t anything at tier VII that’s going to stand up to your 260 mm of AP penetration, you can just no-scope most targets.

50 tons at 50 km/h packs quite a punch, and I ram stuff in my Baby Foch all the time. You want to be a bit careful when doing this, because the AC 48 is sturdy, but it’s not that sturdy. If you run it into a tier IX Heavy, you are liable to wreck yourself completely. Also be careful you don’t take your own tracks off and leave yourself a sitting duck.

On paper, the AC 48 may not look it, but it can fend off attackers once you get used to how it handles, and you needn’t be afraid to put yourself in harms way. If you get pushed on and killed, but manage to take down a strong opponent, your sacrifice may be worth it, and as long as you have a handful of hitpoints left, you can still get those bounces and put out the damage.

 

Patience

Perhaps most important of all, the Baby Foch will teach you patience. There are a lot of things you can do, but that will spell total disaster if you do them hastily or at the wrong moment. You can push and be aggressive, you can hold a position, and you can brawl. But you are also a priority target for several reasons: you are a casemate TD, you have known weaknesses, and you carry an extremely dangerous weapon that your opponents will be eager to neutralise.

Being patient and methodical is the key to being successful in the AMX AC 48, and later on in the Foch and the Foch (155). It’s also what I personally struggle the most with.

Because playing aggressive is fun. Brawling is fun. Chasing Medium and Light tanks halfway across the map trying to no-scope them with HE, just waiting for them to make that fatal mistake is super fun. Until you run straight into the enemy team.

But sometimes you will get away with it. The AC 48 has all the tools you need to carry a game, as long as you either keep your wits about you, or get really lucky. Both work.

I think what you need to do is let patience become part of your motivation; approach the battle as a game of wits interjected with short instances of aggression. Take pride in outplaying your opponents just as much as you do in outbrawling them

And while you work on that, the Baby Foch will keep on teaching you patience by dutifully exploding, getting tracked in crossfire, and donking shots every time you fail to exercise it sufficiently.

 

Final thoughts

So yeah, I like the Baby Foch. It’s a bit surprising, really. I thought it would be underwhelming compared to the “real” Foch, but that’s not the case. I like it, because the Baby Foch isn’t a Foch, only worse; it’s a Foch, only at tier VIII.

Another reason I like it is it’s strong in its tier. I’ve spent a lot of time in other tanks worrying about facing tier VIII Heavy tanks, but in this one I don’t have to worry. In the Baby Foch I am their natural enemy.

Will you like the Baby Foch? It’s entirely possible you won’t. When you get down to it, in all honesty the AMX AC 48 is just a Tank Destroyer without a turret, much like several others. It has good balance between mobility, armour and firepower, but it isn’t really all that special. If you are just looking for a mobile TD, both the Jagdpanther II and the SU-101 are excellent machines, and either of them may be a much better fit for you.

But it’s also possible the Baby Foch will surprise you. It’s a likeable tank, it’s not brain surgery to drive it, and after you finish the grind, you will end up with a really competitive tier VIII vehicle that can hold its own in a tier IX game. In fact, the Baby Foch alone may justify doing the French TD grind.

Because the Baby Foch is Legit.

Consider driving one in the near future.

 

TLDR

IrmaBecx really likes the Baby Foch, even though it’s just a regular casemate Tank Destroyer.

 

Three Hundred Games: the AMX 50 Foch

 

So today I hit 300 games in the Foch. The last five were wins, and are recorded for posterity, so I am on a roll as far as the Foch is concerned. Feeling good about it.

But then, I have been for a long time now, it feels like. The French TD line starts out terrible, only to turn around completely with some of the most fantastic vehicles you ever saw in the higher tiers. I am not ashames to say I spent a little gold to skip some of the grind on this one.

It’s kind of strange perhaps that I am only writing this now, a good four months after the introduction of the Foch line. I have done guides to the Foch Trainer, the Baby Foch, and the Foch (155), and written extensively on French TDs in general, and yet I’ve not done a guide to the AMX 50 Foch; arguably the strongest of them all.

But I have driven it. 300 games. And it’s been very successful.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise; Medium drivers tend to do slightly better in Tank Destroyers. And besides, if you can drive one Foch, you can drive them all, and after writing about three of them, I really didn’t feel like I had very much left to say about them.

But 300 games is enough to get into my top 20 most driven tanks ever, and so I thought I’d kind of sum up and evaluate my Foch experience thus far.

I’ll try to put a lid on the hyperbole, but you all know the tier IX Foch is the best tank in the game, right?

 

The French School

Basically, any Foch is a patently uncomplicated vehicle. It’s just an angled slab of armour with a tier X gun through it, and a massive engine behind it. That’s all it is. You then use the massive engine to put yourself in situations that are as unfair to your opponents as possible, so you can get the most out of your firepower.

Basically, that means you want to make sure everything is happening in front of you, and you want there to be all sorts of stuff between you and the reds, cover, bushes, teammates, dead tanks; anything you can duck behind and hide your frontal weakspots. Also you don’t want to be caught in crossfire; with your weak sides, even a slight angle can prove fatal.

If nothing else works, go forwards, and either drive into or past your opponents. As Foches are a lot faster forwards than backwards, this will often give you more room to manouver, and people will end up staring at your front plate, wondering how it got there so fast while you drop the adrenaline.

Simple stuff.

The key, I think, to driving a casemate TD offensively is understanding your role; what you can do and what you can’t do. You are a frontline support vehicle, you might say. You can be in front if you have support, otherwise it’s better to support the front wherever it happens to be.

And yes, the Foch can snipe if it needs to, but so can any other tank. Because the Foch has armour, it’s not confined to the role of sniper, and with 50 km/h and well over 1000 horsepower, the thing is positively wasted at the back.

“…when it’s top tier…”, you may be thinking, but not so. The Foch is one of a few vehicles where I really don’t care wether I am top tier or not; I’m not afraid of any tank in the game in the Foch. 3000 DPM with 320 mm of penetration gets the job done against any tier X tryhard; I brawl IS-7s with total confidence.

So the Foch is strong. Uncomplicated. And it’s not very hard to drive. Any halfway decent driver can make it work. And yet it appeals to the imagination in a way that belies its modest appearance.

 

Playstyle

You can tell the hyperbole is getting close, so I guess I should get down to specifics.

When you are looking at the team setup and deciding where to go, basically you have two choices. You go with the Mediums, or you go with the Heavys.

Me, I always try to support the Mediums if I can, or do their job as best I can if we don’t have any. Medium tanks like circling casemate TDs, but they don’t like it when the casemate TDs fight back. I get 36 degrees of traverse with equipment and a bit of crew skills, and that’s enough to keep your gun and front plate pointing at the enemy most of the time. You have tier X Medium DPM; in fact you will both out-DPM and out-penetrate most tier X Mediums. And the Medium playstyle isn’t too hard to adapt to casemate TDs; all you do is try to keep a little more distance than you would to compensate for the lack of a turret.

But Medium tanks live a hard life, and flanking is not always your best option. Not a lot of Heavy tanks can keep up with you, and with a bit of cover, you can fight them frontally no problem. The best thing, however, is to be a thorn in their side; short flank and get at their blind side when they are busy peekabooming your Heavy tanks.

Philosophically, you want to be where the enemy would least like to have to deal with you. You can stay back and play the support role the whole game, maybe stepping up to wipe them out at the end, and that’s going to work fine. But if you want to be really successful in the Foch, you need to get out there and take some chances. The more you use your mobility, the more options you will have , the more opportunities for thinking on the fly and being the pivot point that turns the game around.

 

Closing remarks

So yeah. The Foch is one of my favourite tanks in the game, spending spare parts on it was a no brainer, and 300 games later I am still having fun, still being successful, and I have no plans giving up on the Foch Life.

What I like the most about it is the playstyle. I like mobile tanks, and this one is in a pretty narrow category: fast TDs with useable armour. It’s pretty much French or Russian only if you want to drive one. And what they do is enable a dynamic playstyle just like Lights and Medium tanks do, but of a different; more linear flavour.

You may think that sounds like a sales pitch, but that really is why I’ve fallen so hard for the Foch. It’s the tank I’ve been looking for without knowing it. And these days, whenever I want to just go out there, just drive straight at them and wreck some skrubs, the Foch always comes to mind.

It’s my favourite assault tank.

And very probably the best tank in the game.

IrmaBecx says drive at least 300 games in yours!

 

For your entertainment, here are my last five games before hitting 300. They are not all fantastic, but they do showcase the strengths and weaknesses of the AMX 50 Foch, and they are at least all wins:

 

 

So… The Foch (155)

 

A lot of us came up driving Tank Destroyers. I still have my StuG III and refuse to sell it, because it was the first tank I really liked and wanted to be successful in. As far as I was concerned, StuG Life was the life for me, and I was going to be happy ever after.

As usual, that didn’t happen. Egged on by older and wiser tank drivers, I slowly got into Medium tanks, and then Light tanks, and it was pretty much all downhill from there. I sold off most of my TDs and Heavy tanks, branched out to other nations, and now I have the most impressive collection of mediocre, thinly armoured Medium tanks you can imagine.

I kind of lost interest in the old German TD line after the Jagdtiger. I liked the firepower, and I liked being able to bounce a few shots in it, but it was too slow for me, and although I never sold it, I barely drove it at all. I definately wasn’t interested in grinding the Jagdpanzer E100. The New German TD line I went as far as the Nashorn before I lost interest, and I sometimes wish all those Borsigs and Grilles had never been introduced.

But that’s just me being salty. And elitist as well, because I have it in my head that driving Tank Destroyers is somehow less challenging, and because I drive Medium tanks, I am therefore superior in some vague manner, even though my stats may say something different.

“So why, Irma” I hear you ask, “are you noobing around tier X in your flash press account Foch (155) Destroyer all the time these days?” It’s a fair question.

 

Foch (155) Is Weak!

Moving from the AMX 50 Foch to the Foch (155) is not entirely dissimilar from moving from the Jagdtiger to the Jägeru. You get a higher caliber weapon with lower DPM, but higher alpha. Aimtime, accuracy and gun depression all get worse, but the engine is bigger, and you have more hitpoints.

There is however one important difference. The Jagdpanzer E100 is almost twice as heavy as the Jagdtiger, but the Foch (155) only weighs 7 tons more than the Foch, so it’s not a slow tank. And that, I think, is what makes all the difference for me; If I have mobility, I also have more options in terms of gameplay, and to me that makes for a much more interesting vehicle.

But if you look at the numbers, the Foch (155) really isn’t all that special. It’s a big casemate Tank Destroyer with a big gun on it that does 50 km/h and has a pretty solid front plate. That’s all it is.

And yet, for some reason, it’s all I want to drive.

 

So What’s to Like?

Let me be clear. When I drove the Foch (155) out of the garage for the first time, it was fully loaded with coffeed-up 100% crew, stage I equipment, and I even had the Destroyer camo on it. After maybe 20 games I kitted it out with all nine equipment modules. I have never seen this vehicle at its worst, but I am certain grinding your crew from 75% in this thing while waiting on the timers for your stage I equipment would be absolutely terrible. I miss the easiest shots even with the Vstab, and the traverse is just enough to keep up as it is.

I’ll be honest and say there is of course also a bit of “new tank syndrome” at work here. The Foch (155) is new and exciting, and I think it looks really cool. While that may not actually improve the performance of the Foch, for me at least, it is an important consideration. I don’t feel comfortable driving a tank I don’t like the look of.

But the bottom line is, I am approaching this vehicle with slightly rose tinted glasses, and for that reason I may have a tendency to be forgiving towards its faults where others wouldn’t be.

The big Foch has some problems. Being a turretless Tank Destroyer is already a disadvantage. Having very obvious weakspots on top doesn’t exactly help either. And there’s not a single thing about it that other Tank Destroyers can’t do better.

But it is a vehicle that makes sense. You have a big gun stucking through an angled front plate with a powerful engine behind it. As long as your enemies are in front of you, and no one can see your sides, you have a pretty good chance of surviving an encounter, at least until your tracks break. It’s not rocket science figuing out how to drive it, or, again, at least how not to drive it. Stay at range, use cover, reset camo.

Problem number one, however, is taking big hits. With 50 mm of side and rear armour, people are going to load the HE as soon as you light up anywhere on the battlefield. They will disengage from any engagement and drive halfway across the map to take a snapshot at you. Even smaller caliber guns can hit you for 4-500, which is like a quarter of your hitpoint pool. Every time you get spotted and you are standing still, there could be someone out there aiming at your rangefinder, and I find that often, there is.

Problem number two is dealing the damage. Your dispersion, aimtime and gun arc all conspire to make you miss your shots, and you have some of the slowest shells at tier X; second slowest of all the TDs. You also have the second lowest standard AP penetration, although 280 mm of pen is hardly lacking in and of itself. The nicest thing I can say about the ammo, however, is that at least all three types travel at the same speed so you don’t have to adjust when switching.

Hitting people for 640 damage is of course satisfying. In close quarters, chances are you’ll only need one or two rounds to finish someone off, so if you can stay alive for 14 more seconds by wiggling and manouvering, you may be in the clear.

At longer ranges, it’s a different story. The Foch (155) is not a good sniper.

What makes the Foch (155) work is versatility. You may think it’s strange calling a casemate Tank Destroyer versatile, but what I mean is it has good balance between mobility, firepower and armour. It really is that simple. The Foch can react to developing situations, and it can do a variety of jobs in different situations. You can be a one man flank given reasonable resistance. You can be the tip of the spear, provided there is in fact a spear behind you.

After more than 100 games, the lasting impression is that the more I push the Foch (155) the more I seem to get away with.

 

The Verdict

So what’s the final word? Well, I am getting one. I don’t have a tier X TD, and the alternative would be the Yolo wagon. Although I prefer the 130 mm DPM monster on the 263, I like the French tiers VII through IX better than their Russian counterparts, and although they may exhibit less variety, the fact they have a coherent playstyle; each one preparing you for the next, that may not be such a bad thing.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Foch (155) recieved some tweaking, or even a complete rework in the future, but I think it’s wort the risk. I don’t think they could ruin it completely; it’s supposed to be a mobile TD with a bit of frontal armour, and that’s exactly what I like about it. I don’t think any future buffs or nerfs would stary too far from the original formula.

Again, that’s just me. Should you get one? I would say not necessarily.

The bottom line is, the AMX 50 Foch (155) is a pretty standard vehicle. It’s really not that special. The fact it can move around a bit is basically the only thing it has going for it, other than being an actual tier X tank, and as such I suppose having some sort of limit as to how weak it is allowed to be.

If you wanted an autoloader, I think you are bound to be disappointed. In fact, if you think it’s going to be anything other than a big gun on tracks poking through an angled plate, I think you are bound to be disappointed. If you already own one or several tier X Tank Destroyers, it’s not certain it’s going to really add anything of value to your collection.

But if you think the Foch looks cool, there’s no reason not to go for it. If you like to play mobile tanks and don’t mind a bit of a challenge, there’s no reason to hesitate. Well, except for some of the lower tier tanks perhaps. As long as you realise all you are getting is a regular turretless Tank Destroyer with a bit of engine power, and not some kind of OP tier X monster, the Foch (155) may well be the tank for you.

So my biggest complaint would be the Foch is a bit lacklustre. It’s not that special. But it’s not weak, it’s not boring, and I think it’s kind of a shame it has a reputation for mediocrity already, because it really is much better than people give it credit for.

That may not sound like such an attractive proposition for you, and that’s fine. The big Foch is not for everyone. But if you are curious about getting into mobile Tank Destroyers, I’m here to tell you that the Foch can be a great tank.

IrmaBecx says drive one if you are clear about what you’re getting.

 

TLDR

Yeah, the Foch (155) is kind of vanilla. But it’s not bad. Just vanilla.

 

Addendum: The Contemporary Foch

 

With update 4.7, the tier IX and X Foches both got their side armour upgraded to 75 mm. You may think that sounds like a minor buff, but it’s actually very significant. Thicker side armour allows the Foches to angle wider and sidescrape better, and they will no longer be overmatched by even the largest caliber guns in the game.

This means the Foches now brawl better, juke and wiggle better, and so they are now able to do their job better, provided of course you play them aggressively as intended.

And don’t say they aren’t intended for dynamic gameplay; no tank that does 50 km/h and has almost 300 mm of effective frontal armour is meant to stay at the back.

The French Tank Destroyer line has not been hugely successful, but the higher tiers have attracted a bit of a cult following. I’ve even heard people sing the praises of the AMX AC 46, although that is admittedly rare. Unsurprisingly, the tier IX Foch is the one people go for, and not everyone thinks the Foch (155) is much of an upgrade.

Me, I still think it’s fantastic.

After finishing the Foch grind, I realised that except for a few Premiums, there was really only one tank I would miss if I had to give up my press account; the inimitable Object 263 “Yolo Wagon”, so I ground through to that as well.

And I drive both of them. I couldn’t choose between them if I had to. The Yolo Wagon has a monstrous 130 mm that will chew through anything in its path, but it’s open topped and has a weak engine deck between the two front plates. The Foch has almost 200 more alpha damage and a more powerful engine, but it also has a thousand less DPM.

But yeah. They are both fast TDs with good frontal armour, and their playstyle is similar. I think they both also appeal to the same kind of player.

Strange as it may seem, what attracts me to both these tanks is the fact I am a Medium tank player. I don’t want to play a slow Heavy tank or a campy Tank Destroyer; I want to play something fast and agile only with a little more firepower. Sure, I’ll have to pay for it by having no turret, but that’s really not such a big deal.

Except of course when it gets you killed.

 

So, looking back; would I recommend the French TD grind?

Absolutely. It’s a lot of fun. Well, once you get past tier VI or VII; the lower tier vehicles are still a total chore to drive. But tiers VIII, IX and X are all really, really good. They can bully same and lower tier tanks, they can brawl Heavys, they can trade with dug in TDs, and they can flank like Mediums.

You just need to make sure all that is what you want to do.

Ask yourself: do I really want to be a Foch person? Do I want to work the flanks and juke and wiggle and work for my bounces? Do I want to ram people and burn them down with big guns poking through angled front plates with practically nothing behind them but a big engine and some ammo racks?

Because no matter how hard you look, that is all you are getting.

And really, who could ask for more?

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