Consistency vs. Elitism: The WZ-120
I was talking to my friend and colleague Gentlefun today about the choice of weapon for the WZ-120, tier IX Chinese Medium tank. You may be aware it has a 122 mm main armament, but you can also run a 100 mm if you prefer. Actually, unless you spend some free XP, you need to run the 100 mm to grind out the 122.
Having had the opportunity to drive the WZ-121 on the test server, I blew through the WZ-120 grind as fast as I could to get it, but when I was done, I mounted the 100 mm again to try and see what it was all about. You may recall I am a big fan of 100 mm guns, and the 62-100T is on my top five all time favourites list.
The plan was I was going to spend some time playing both guns, and then I thought I’d compare notes with Gentlefun and try to come to some form of conclusion or other.
Luckily, another friend of mine dropped me a platoon request today. His name is Xenodium; you may have heard of him. I don’t platoon a lot; I never did, but when Xeno sends me an invite I always take him up on it, and it’s not for the reason you might think. It’s just because every time we roll out, there is no pressure, no drama, no stress, and I always come away having gained some perspective.
For me, becoming a tank philosopher was a goal in and of itself. I wanted to understand the game on a deeper level, and that was the kind of discussions I wanted to be a part of. Just being able to talk to people about the game in a wider sense, or from a meta perspective if you prefer, gives me an immense sense of pride and accomplishment.
So we had a talk about the WZ-120, ran a few games with the different guns, threw an actual T-54 into the mix, and it turned out not only did I know the answer already, it’s actually more straightforward than I expected.
I always hated the T-54. There’s nothing wrong with it; indeed that is the exact reason I don’t like it. It works really well and everything, I just think it’s totally boring to play. It’s too good. In fact, I liked the Hype 59 right away precisely because it’s basically a tier VIII T-54 without the Russian bias; the tank I always thought the T-54 should have been.
So if you mount the 100 mm gun on the WZ-120, what you end up with is pretty much a tier IX Hype 59. I’m all for that. And looking at the stats, it will actually outperform the T-54 in some instances. Aimtime is better. Accuracy is better. Turret front is stronger, but the front plate isn’t quite as biased. Thick, I mean.
I was going to argue there is more to the WZ-120 with the 100 mm than simply being a slightly worse copy of the T-54, but there really is no point. The comparison will always be there, you just can’t ignore that. It’s unavoidable. And for me, I would rather drive the Chinese knockoff than the Russian original. Your mileage may differ, and if you drive both tanks, chances are they are going to perform fairly similarly.
100 mm 62-100T: “Yes”.
What happens when you mount the 122 mm 60-122T instead, is you lose about 400 DPM right off the bat. Your aimtime shrinks to almost half of what the T-54 will manage, accuracy is the same, and you also lose 40% of your gun depression.
But here’s the thing:
None of this really matters.
It’s all missing the point. Running the 122 mm doesn’t have anything at all to do with statistics or performance, it’s about playstyle.
A lot of times when I hear people reviewing or evaluating tanks, they are quick to point out it’s weaknesses, and it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to work out how those might be “fixed”. A common complaint with the WZ-120 is that the 122 mm only has three degrees of gun depression. Just give it five, and people wouldn’t complain so much.
I don’t mind bad gun depression. Some of my favourite tanks don’t have any, like the KV-13 or the Russian “turretless Medium” TD line. You learn to work around it. And sure, not having gun depression means you can’t use a lot of positions, but I also feel like that’s bordering on a failure of imagination. Instead of asking yourself what your tank struggles with, why not ask yourself what it can do instead?
Even better: ask yourself why you are driving the tank in the first place?
122 mm 60-122T: Even more “Yes”.
If you approach the WZ-120 on it’s own terms, the choice is obvious. You run the 122. The WZ is not a knockoff T-54, it’s a heavy Medium tank, and what makes it a heavy Medium is the Heavy tank gun. It’s as simple as that.
To run the big boom stick you need to give up gun depression, but you also get a nice aimtime buff. Best in tier, in fact; no one even comes close except the T54E1 autoloader. And yet, I don’t hear people compliment the quick aimtime, all I hear is them complaining about the gun depression. You see what I mean by “failure of imagination”?
So why would you drive the WZ-120 at all? That is the pertinent question here; not what is wrong with it.
If your answer is “because I want to ace all tanks in the game” or “to get the WZ-121”, then it really doesn’t matter. You will go through the grind in a couple of hundred games, and you may as well run the 100 mm because it’s more consistent.
But it’s also more boring. Or less challenging, I should say. Less rewarding. There are no other 122 mm Medium tanks at tier IX, that’s the thing. So if your answer is “because I want to drive a heavy Medium tank”, then the 100 mm vs. 122 mm question is moot.
We didn’t play a lot of games before all this was perfectly clear to me, and I asked Xeno, tongue in cheek, if I could really argue this in my paper; won’t people think I am elitist?
“But you are” he said. And It’s true. I am. I drive tanks that people don’t like, or don’t understand, or think are useless, because I want to make them work; I want to understand them, and I know that once I get my head around what makes them tick, winning games in them will be that much more satisfying.
It’s not so different from driving the skill star, actually. Everyone knows the 183 has the lowest average winrate of any tier X tank in the game, and it’s still the most driven tier X tank in the game. People know they aren’t going to win unless someone else carries them, but they still sit there game after game just waiting to press the skill button, because landing those big hits is so much fun.
When you mount the 122 mm gun on your WZ-122, it transforms from a tier IX Hype 59 into something completely different. A tank that is unique in the game, and that requires a steady hand and some imaginative gameplay in order to perform. It’s going to struggle. It’s going to fail. It’s going to fall flat on it’s face from time to time.
But there will also be those games where everything just clicks, and you just seem to do everything right. I don’t mean you’ll have RNG or Chinese bias on your side, I mean when you’ve learned the in’s and out’s of your vehicle and are able to optimise it’s performance because you’ve learned those things.
That’s what the game is all about for me. That’s why I am still here after years and years of playing, because that stuff just never gets old. The actual tank may differ, but the mechanic; the process will remain.
So here’s my answer, and it’s a philosophical one.
The question isn’t which gun you should run on the WZ-120. The question is whether or not you have what it takes to run the 122 mm.
Answering a question with another question may seem like a cheap trick, but it really is that simple. Unless you have something specific against the T-54 like me, there’s no real reason to drive a tier IX Type 59.
Trading in the 100 mm for a 122 may be setting yourself up for disappointment, but it also means allowing yourself the opportunity to have your expectations exceeded; not simply having them met.
And that, people, is the secret of happiness.