Skill Star Predator Pt. II
My previous paper on living in a world full of 182 mm HESH shells was a call to arms; a mission statement if you will. Accepting the fact we have this huge roadblock to deal with, and deciding to try and do something about it.
My suggestion was to make the skill star your number one enemy, because that’s what it is. And as long as you keep playing its game, it will continue to be your number one enemy. The skill star has to die, and as long as Wargaming doesn’t do it, we have to do it ourselves.
That doesn’t mean yolo. My friend Pancham asked me, perhaps slightly concerned, why I would take the shot from a death star in the first place. Like I described, he said, it has some obvious weaknesses, and it’s not too hard to outplay it without taking damage.
If I hadn’t considered that, a few yolo runs reminded me of the fact anyway. You can’t just drive straight at them right away; you’ll get smashed.
But my point I think was intended slightly differently, which, to be fair, Pancham also acknowledged. What I meant was you shouldn’t be afraid of engaging the 183, or being the one who takes a hit so it can be cleared out.
This is sound tactical advice. Xeno alerted me to the fact Wargaming even promote the same tactic in their video guide to driving the FV 4005 and FV 251b 183:
“Quite often, they take a single shot and then die without having a chance to reload. And if the shot doesn’t destroy the enemy, then things are very grim.”
“Often these vehicles are saved by the enemy teams fear of them. Surely many of you are familiar with the situation, where at the end of a battle, several tanks are afraid to go in and take out an FV 4005 waiting around the corner. All that is needed is for one tanker to take a hit, and the others can then kill the helpless TD.”
Driving tanks for fun and experience the way I do, it’s sometimes hard to gauge how things are actually going. I mean you’re not going to see in my stats how much fun I had.
The doom cannons are a problem. A meta problem. It’s not the tank itself; it’s what it does to the gameplay. They kill any kind of dynamic gameplay, and they take away the enjoyment of driving just regular tanks.
Whether or not you are an actual solipsist, tank driving is all in your head. This is the reason tank philosophy is so important to me, because it adds enjoyment to driving tanks. I don’t just drive tanks, I think about tanks, talk about tanks, and write about tanks. All these things are enjoyable to me.
Trying to get good at something; and that is still my ultimate goal, to “git gud”, you need of course to focus. Tank philosophy is a way to sharpen that focus, to direct it in useful ways, and to evaluate your knowledge and experience.
It’s about getting your head straight. Getting in the right head space. Keeping your head screwed on right. However you want to put it; it’s just thinking about what you are doing in order to learn from it.
Making a plan of action also has psychological benefits. You acknowledge there is a meta problem. You identify the problem, you take measures to adapt your gameplay to it, and then you try to realise your plan. You are no longer a victim of circumstance; you are now taking action to address an issue and try to improve your situation.
And it’s a well known situation. Everyone sighs the same when they look at the team lineup and see all the triangles.
I don’t want that. I don’t want my heart to sink every time I come out of the queue and see what map we’re on. I want to feel a sense of anticipation, excitement and danger. Not hopelessness.
So: I will not play the game in spite of there being skill stars in it. I want instead to try and play it because there are skill stars in it, and today, that is actually what I did.
Tricking yourself like this is easy. All I did was write about how you shouldn’t let the 183 intimidate you; you should seek it out and destroy it instead, and then Xeno said “let’s go hunt some skill stars. It’s going to be a great hunt.” And so that’s what we did.
The plan is simple: we have lost beforehand. The skill star will sit at the back and try to skill us. We must try to find it first, and take it out quickly so it doesn’t skill the rest of our team. If we get killed trying, we at least made an effort. We literally aimed at the stars. It was a win-win situation, because we had everything to win and nothing to lose.
There is a difference between desperate circumstances and being desperate. Desperation leads to panic. Panic is fear. Fear is the mind killer, remember.
If you accept your fate is pretty much sealed beforehand, you will sometimes be able to transcend your desperation; let is wash over you and fill you with a sense of calm. You become the eye of the storm.
This usually happens either in really close proximity to several enemies, or face to face with a skill star, but most often while you are on less than a few hundred hitpoints. In the same way, you will have put yourself in a situation where you have everything to win and nothing to lose.
So how is it going? Well, not bad actually. High stakes Medium gameplay is the style I prefer, and of course it helps having an extremely skilled player on your side who is also hip to the plan.
We had the kind of games where you get to ram kill a skill star in a tier IX tank, where you bounce stuff unbelievably off your upper plate on 200 hitpoints, and where you claw yourself over the finish line against impossible odds.
The kind of games, in short, that are the reason I still play this game after so long.
I don’t care if people want to drive their British high caliber Tank Destroyers, I just wish they didn’t have such a huge impact on the game meta that the whole game revolves around them. That can’t be how things are supposed to be for any tank.
But using a bit of reverse psychology, some Russian, French and Chinese bias, and with a little help from my friends, I managed to have some really amazing games today. Not in spite of the skill star being in the game, but because of it. I actually got disappointed when there wasn’t a skill star on the enemy team.
I will leave you to enjoy one of them. This is me getting skilled by a skill star, followed by Xeno carrying the game alone against five enemies in a 200 hitpoint Bat Chat. Do take a few minutes to watch it on the Wotinspector website; just press “watch online”, and delight at the retribution and salty skill star tears:
Never Give Up!