Brawling in the K-91
So yesterday the infamous K-91 crate tank dropped on my press account, and I had the opportunity to drive it again.
From what I can tell, it’s the exact same vehicle I drove in testing; yes, that means I signed off on this monstrosity. Well, what I said was, I thought the K-91 was really strong, but it also had some fairly obvious weaknesses; I didn’t feel like I was winning undeservedly, and so I would be OK with it being released in that state. I also said it could probably be dialled back a notch or two and still be really good.
That’s because it’s a fairly simple concept. It’s a square box of sturdy armour with huge front wheels raised up so they help protect the armour behind them. With the front plate, they pretty much just gave up and welded it in almost flat. Then you have a really complicated turret, specifically designed to bounce shots, and of course a 100 mm autoloader.
Changing the mobility would determine how agressive you can be. The slower they would have made it, the further back you would have had to stay. As it is, you can run with the Mediums, and I think any faster than it is would be completely game breaking.
Same with the firepower. 930 potential clip damage on a 15 second reload and a little over six seconds to deliver. That’s highly effective.
To find out how effective exactly, instead of rolling out into regular battles, I invited some of my friends and clan mates to go one on one or one on two in a training room.
My reasoning is this: playing a K-91 is almost all about positioning. You have to allow for the discordant rhythm of the autoloader to put out damage, and so making sure you stay in the game is your number one priority. When you actually try to put shots in, there are two ways you mitigate incoming damage, you either sidescrape, or you go hull down and point your turret at them.
That’s not super hard. And it doesn’t take very long to explain. In fact, sometimes a few snap shots from Armour Inspector will say more than a thousand words:
This is the K-91 sidescraping against a tier X IS-4. You can see the whole side is well protected. Your only problem is the side of the turret where it flattens out slightly. The way to deal with this is the same as on the American “Duck Mutant” or “Moai” style tanks; you angle the turret outwards:
Here is the K-91 going hull down against the same IS-4:
I am moving up at a slight angle to get the turret moving sideways a little as I poke, but you can see how the frontal armour flattens out, and you really don’t want to poke very far. Against a tier IX IS-8, things look better; you can see how the track wheels start helping:
So that’s how you do it. The rest of the time you spend making sure you don’t A: get caught in crossfire, and B: get pushed on by multiple opponents. I can’t teach you a lot about that, it comes from experience.
So what I thought I would learn from training rooms specifically, is how the tank deals with what happens when your luck runs out and you have to stand and fight.
We played random maps, mostly tier IX tanks of all classes against the K-91, and a few tier X and VIII as well.
Here is my clanmate Vedrfoelnir looking at the K-91 front plate from his Centurion 7/1 with the premium HESH loaded. You can see from the 8.3 second reload those are not calibrated shells, and they’ll go straight through:
So I learned a few things, other than of course that if you get pushed on by two tanks working together, you are likely toast.
In a 1 v 1 with a really good player, you are probably toast as well, but they are also most likely down to a one shot by then.
The mobility of the K-91 will surprise people. Catch them off guard. Running turbo boost I think is crucial, because it will allow for that sudden burst of speed that lets you reach cover, run away to finish your reload, or max out your agility in a close up knife fight.
Against a slow tank with better armour, you might feel like the 100 mm is a little too weak, but with constant tracking you can either get away from them, get around them, or wear them down.
The tank isn’t very tall, and it’s more agile than people think. Face hugging works as long as they can’t hit your lower plate, but side hugging works even better. Your turret, seen from the front is the strongest part of your tank, and if you can keep it in their face for long enough, your gun will have reloaded. Do note however the tank isn’t very heavy, it will often stop people, but not push them back. Watch out so you don’t get trapped.
I came away from the arena feeling the K-91 is a competent brawler. You have several things going for you in a desperate situation: sturdy armour, excellent mobility, a super troll turret with barely any weakspots, and the ability to put out damage in bursts. You also get three chances at tracking with each clip.
I also came away feeling I still really like the K-91. I was really hoping for some kind of event for it, because it is a lot of fun to drive, and I would love to have one. Russian tanks aren’t usually as dynamic as the K-91. The Medium tank autoloader really sets it apart, and gives you new gameplay options.
But having an autoloader is not ideal in a brawl, especially not against more than one opponent. You have to expect to take heavy damage in those situations, if you survive them at all. Your slow turret traverse is also a hindrance, keep the hull moving to help it along.
Still, the K-91 has a bit of Russian bias up it’s sleeves to help you get out of trouble once in a while. And driving myself into trouble is one of my favourite things to do in the game. That’s just not an issue.
Working on your positional play will be way more important, and learning to gauge your power level, or “bully factor” in different matchups. Top tier? High bully factor. bottom tier? Low bully factor. They have fast tanks? Don’t flank alone. They are slow and heavy? Drive circles around them. And so on. This is how you really make the tank work.
The K-91 is a powerful vehicle, but it takes some careful gameplay to realise it’s potential. You can gamble your way into tier IX, but if you’ve never been there before, having a strong tank isn’t going to help against marauding top tier Mediums and campy doom cannons. And if you are unfamiliar with autoloader gameplay, it’ll be a total disaster.
And personally, I’m still not going to gamble for the K-91.
Big thanks to Vedrfoelnir, Zolo0782, Xeno and others for joining in the fun!