Wily Weazel: WZ-120 and the Game Meta
I had a look just now, and was surprised to see I have more than four hundred games in my tier IX Chinese heavy Medium tank. Not sure how that happened, exactly.
Usually, I kind of forget about the tier IX tank once I’ve grinded out the tier X. I drove a few games with the 100 mm after the grind, and then there was the 100 vs. 122 mm paper I wrote a few weeks back, but I had no idea I had fought so many battles in the WZ-120.
It makes sense though. It’s a great ride. I know a lot of people don’t like it, but I also know a few who think it’s simply fantastic.
And it’s just a matter of perspective. If you approach the WZ as a variant of the T-54, then that’s about as exciting as it’s going to be for you, and you’ll probably end up running the “wrong” gun on it. But if you try to approach it on its own terms, it’s actually a very singular vehicle.
Medium/Heavy tank hybrids come in two flavours. They are either Heavy tanks that can do Medium tank jobs because they have better than average mobility for Heavy tank; tanks like the WZ-110, the IS-7, IS-5, AMX M4 45, et cetera, or they are Medium tanks that have Heavy tank armour or Heavy tank firepower.
I never liked the term “Heavium”, mainly because I think it led to a lot of misinterpretations. I don’t dispute the fact there are tanks that blend characteristics from both Heavy and Medium tanks, but what that actually means in terms of gameplay is a different matter.
Either way, if the IS-7 is a Heavium, then the WZ-120 is a heavy Medium tank. It’s a Heavy tank turret on a modified Type 59 hull.
From the “glass half empty” perspective, your knockoff T-54 will have a slower reload, less DPM, and a weaker front plate. Also the turret is a little taller, flattening out the turret face, and the front plate isn’t quite as steeply angled.
Where’s the fun in that?
If you decide to give the Weazel-120 a chance on its own terms, the “heavy Medium” playstyle isn’t very hard to figure out. It can be tricky to actually execute, but it’s easy to understand your strong points.
First of all, you have excellent mobility. The chassis moves so smoothly, and other than bogging down in mud and water like all Chinese tanks, it’s a flanking machine.
This is very important. Because it’s the key to finding your role.
You are not a Heavy tank. If all you do is trading shots with Heavy tanks from static positions, you will have put yourself at a disadvantage, because your armour isn’t as good as theirs. So to regain some advantage, you have to use your mobility. Keep moving the whole time so you don’t end up playing into their hands; remember you are a Medium tank, even when you are doing Heavy tank things. You are basically lugging around a Heavy tank gun and turret, trying to put cheeky shots in and then relocating before they realise you don’t actually have the rest of the Heavy tank with you.
As a bonus, you also have the best aimtime in your tier. No other tier IX Medium aims as fast as the Weazel, and of course Heavy tanks are nowhere near. Not even the Conqueror. In turn, your accuracy on the move is downright bad. You want to come to a split second stop and let the gun settle; if you do that, the reticule will shrink to nothing in a flash and the shot will go in.
So that’s one of the things I like about the WZ-120. You can’t really compare it to other Medium tanks, because it just doesn’t work the same way. It can work the same way as other Mediums; all you have to do is mount the 100 mm gun. But learning to use a Heavy tank gun in a completely different application than you are used to is part of the fun.
Reverse psychology is super easy. All you do is start thinking differently about things, and you will start acting differently as well.
I touched on this point in my paper on the 100 mm vs. 122 mm question. Ask yourself: why am I driving these tanks in the first place? No matter your answer, sooner or later you are going to get to the WZ-121, so it makes sense to learn the 122 mm plastyle. But more importantly, the WZ-120 is a completely unique vehicle, there simply isn’t anything else out there that even comes close.
Next to hunting skill stars for sport, driving the Weazel is the most fun I’ve had in the game for quite a while. Not because it’s so powerful, or because it’s so effective, but because it’s so singular.
Regarded as a knockoff T-54, it’s easy to see the Weazel solely in terms of lack. You look at it, and all you see are its problems. Regarded as a heavy Medium tank, it immediately starts looking much better; and as I said people even manage to find it excellent.
But it is getting a buff. The reload on the 122 mm 60-122T is shortened by almost a full second, giving you a bit more DPM.
Now, if you ask me or any other Weazel afficionado, they will say it doesn’t need a buff in the first place, and that may well be true. But from a Meta perspective, it makes more sense.
The WZ-120 is a Medium tank. It can distance itself from this role by using its Heavy tank attributes, but it can’t make enemy players not treat it like one. People will bully Medium tanks, and in those situations, the faster firing, higher DPM weapon may end up saving your bacon more times than the 122 would.
The buff should give you about a nine-point-something second reload instead of a ten-point-something depending on your crew skills, and the DPM difference between the guns will be cut in half. That means the inherent differences of the two weapons become more important; things like alpha damage, aimtime, and gun depression. These are now your considerations when choosing between them.
It won’t make the 122 carrying Weazel a monster, but it will make it a little more comfortable to play, because you’ll be able to shoot your way out of a few more situations. You’ll have more opportunities, but it won’t alter your gameplay. The WZ-120 is already what they call a “high risk/high reward” tank, and so getting the shot off a second faster will likely make quite a significant difference in your gameplay.
Anticipating 5.0 some time after midnight tonight, I had one last drive in my unbuffed Weazel, just to have it fresh in memory once the update drops. There are a few other things to look forward to, but for me the Weazel buff is actually going to be the most exciting.
See you guys on new Vineyards!