Thinking LIke A Leopard
So I got into a few tier X games since my initial “first look” evaluation of the new AMX 30 Proto, and like I said it’s basically a PTA in a lot of respects, chief among which the armour; by which I mean “lack of armour”, of course. It doesn’t deal well with HESH unless it hits the gun mantlet, which, let’s face it, isn’t exactly huge.
Even the official news text brings up the Leopard as a facsimile, and admonishes us to play as if every hit would be our last.
Sound advice, to be sure. The thrill of having excellent mobility is being able to outturn your enemies in a brawl, but the point of having excellent mobility is not being where people can shoot at you in the first place.
Yes. That means running away, people.
Well, no; not running away, per se. But playing the sidelines, keeping your distance, and following the Medium tank doctrine very closely.
As your ideological forebearer, you will certainly benefit from Chinese guerilla warfare tactics: victory through gradual expansion of map control, destroying isolated tanks, and gaining a numerical and territorial advantage for the final stage; the eradication of your remaining enemies.
The AMX 30 Proto is a true Medium tank. Driving it means staying close to the core Medium tank playstyle, and to execute that playstyle, you could hardly ask for more than the new French option offers. You even get some training wheels in the form of a gun mantlet.
Saying that, I am presupposing the Leopard PTA is the best tier IX Medium tank in the game, and one can certainly make that argument. The Leo carries a proper tier X 105 mm gun and puts out tier leading DPM numbers, plus it’s the fastest. Other than not having any armour at all, the PTA delivers in all categories.
So if you are doing well in your Porsche Leo, you are going to perform much better in the 1er Prototype, because the gun mantlet makes it slightly more forgiving to drive. Sure, you have a lower alpha weapon, but you are also going to take less damage and so get to fire more rounds. The trade off between armour and firepower in comparison to the Leopard PTA seems completely logical.
Either way, returning to the question of Medium tank ideology, your guiding principle should be pragmatism, and for me, there is no greater Medium tank pragmatist than Bushka. He taught a lot of us how to drive Medium tanks, in fact he’s still out there doing it; working away to try to hammer his oft-repeated lessons into our brains.
Bushka taught me to drive Mediums as well, and the weapon I fielded back then isn’t terribly different from the one before me today. Excellent mobility. Superb gun stats. A selection of useful rounds. All you need for Medium work.
Because Medium work is all about moving the weapon around so it can remain effective throughout the battle. That’s all you do. You do this in order to either hold enemies back from your cap points, or wipe them out, both of which lands you the victory. As a concept, the playstyle isn’t complicated.
Now we come to the “how” of all this. How do you execute the Medium tank playstyle? Bushkas first rule of becoming a blue player is “No Yolo”, so first off: don’t drive yourself into trouble and decimation.
You want to stay alive as long as possible, and to do this, Bushka says the best way of not getting hit is not being seen. This rhymes well with Leopard thinking: be extremely wary of taking hits; in fact, play as if the next hit could be your last.
So you move from cover to cover. Hide behind hills and trees and houses and mounds, and small dips in the terrain. Focus on not getting spotted until you are ready to, which is with your gun pre aimed at a target, ready to poke out and take a shot. That’s when you are ready to get spotted, not before.
After you shoot you pull back of course. That’s instinct. But when you do, you want to immediately drop bach into “not being seen” mode, and reset your camo. This is probably the most repeated of all Bushkas lessons. Don’t try to look back out when people can still see you, because you are going to take a hit.
Even without a rammer or provisions, the reload on the AMX Proto is well under 8 seconds, and that’s not enough for your camo to reset. The loss in DPM brought about by not firing on the reload is many times outweighed by not taking damage and staying in the game much longer, but it feels counter intuitive. That is why not being seen needs to be your number one priority.
But yeah. People aren’t always stupid, and they do figure out where you are. When they start moving in, trying to wear you down so they can rush you, Bushka has another strategy for you: trade distance for damage.
This one is a lot easier to get your head around, because when people drive tanks at you, you will want to shoot at them anyway. But the strategic consideration behind why you shoot at them is something else. First of all you want to get them to stop so they don’t get too close. You also want to catch them out so your teammates can hit them easier. Also, you want to take off as much of their hitpoints as possible before one of three things happen: a brawl, them retreating, or them backing off, and if you are still there after any of that happens, any of the three is a good outcome.
I asked Bushka if he had anything to add to this basic description of Medium tank strategy, and he said if you have gun depression, remember to get some angles on your turret. This is especially valid for the AMX 30 Proto; the “forehead” area above the gun mantlet is 100 mm thick, but the roof behind it is only 40 mm.
From straight ahead, that gives you maybe 220 mm of effective armour, but before you even reach half your gun depression it’s going to be an autobounce zone, and using ten degrees they will hardly see top of the turret at all.
The more you depress the gun, the less of your tank you need to be showing to get a shot off. Again, we return to the first consideration: not being hit by not being seen.
This may seem like a lot to think about just to be driving a tank, but it’s not like that. A lot of these things, like using gun depression and resetting camo will become second nature; something you do automatically while you are looking around and following what’s going on.
Even if you are thinking about doing these these different things, you have time. The whole point of going through these motions is to put yourself int he endgame. Granted, you will want to have been effective enough up until then to have put your enemies in a bad position, but more importantly you will want to be ready for when you get there, meaning not being heavily damaged.
Look, it’s like this. We are talking about a tier IX Medium tank here. We are comparing it to the PTA, which is easily the most difficult tank to play out of all the tier IX Mediums. Understand, you’re not going to pay your way into tier IX and get away with it.
The AMX Proto is slightly easier and more forgiving to play than the Leopard PTA, but in some ways, the PTA is decidedly better. The tier X L7A1 is a magnificent weapon that spews APCR death from the sidelines. The SA47 may have been given a new lease on life with the tier IX Medium platform, but novel as it may be, it’s still just a 100 mm.
But with the ten degrees of gun depression and superior penetration values, it’s a wonderful 100 mm. Given that the AMX Proto is going to be a tricky drive to begin with, the SA47 is not just a reasonable armament, it’s practically inspiring. There certainly isn’t anything else quite like it in the game.
And yea, that kills me a bit. I really, really like the AMX Proto. But I guess there is some consolation in the fact that if you are in the game for the long haul, sooner or later you’ll get a chance to own whatever tank you covet, and after tens of thousands of games, it’s nice to still have something to aspire to.
As it is, I do at least get the chance to drive all the tanks I covet, which is fantastic, and I am very grateful for it, but it’s not the same. You never really care about your performance in a tank until you drive it on your main account. And one day, I am going to have purple stats in my very own AMX Proto.
Until then, if you got one and didn’t overspend, I am happy for you and super jealous.
I guess I’ll go drive my communist tanks some more.