So yea, I bought it.
It’s nice, I figured it might be. It’s not super fast, but it gets around. If you’ve driven the 730 or the model 1-4, the armour makes total sense.
It feels Chinese. Has all the trademarks. Sluggish when turning and at lower speeds. Strong turret. Armour works well when angled properly; you get those expected rather than random bounces.
The weapon is so-so, but it’s all it needs to be. Chinese vehicles are geared towards balance between your three main categories: mobility, armour and firepower, but they do it slightly differently than Russian or American tanks. This is actually the main reason I like them so much.
I just enjoy the way they drive.
HELLO! My Name Is: WZ-111
That is of course not the whole truth. I also like Chinese tanks because they are new, because they are quite powerful, and because they are not Russian. You’ve heard me call them “Russian without the bias”.
Also, I mainly bought the WZ-111 out of frustration. I just wanted to drive it. To the extent there was a logical component to my decision making, it doesn’t go beyond my being reasonably sure the thing wasn’t going to be a total disappointment. In short, I bought the 111 sight unseen, and against my own better judgement.
Because it is the “right-now” tank. A novelty. New and unproven. And what finally tipped the balance in favour of getting one was, I suppose, wanting to be a part of that process of evaluation. A part of the avant-garde, the early adopters; the ones in the know.
A proper gold noob.
So is it any good? I was asked that very question on Twitter just now.
I said it was, but that I was also heavily biased towards it, and that I was working on a proper review. The bias you can see for yourself with a cursory look at my previous writings on Chinese tanks. I already like them a lot. I am the target demographic. An easy victim of the shiny and new.
That’s one thing, and it’s easy to understand. But it also means I accept these tanks will sometimes struggle; that is part of my calculation. I don’t want the WZ-111 to be a tier VIII IS-7, I want it to be a tier VIII WZ-111 model 1-4; a tank that can be really powerful in some situations, but is far from invincible. That is what being a “good tank” means to me.
A tank that is reasonably balanced means you have to pay attention to your gameplay to try and manufacture those situations where you can take advantage of your strengths. All tanks I have ended up driving hundreds and hundreds of games in have that in common: engaging gameplay. A bit of a challenge.
I decided to play it safe and drive my very first games with my friend Xeno, who is not only philosophically minded, but also interested in the 111 – not to mention the best tank driver I’ve ever known.
It worked a charm. Playing two games put a smile on my face, and gave me the feeling the tank was going to be all right. It feels Chinese. I want to drive it more. I can see how it will struggle: a tall Tiger II punches right through my front plate, as expected. A Borsig Waffenträger bounces off my side armour, because I have angled correctly, and so that is also as expected.
I can see that it’s not very different from what I expected, and although I may feel unfamiliar in my new Heavy tank skin, it looks reassuringly like my other 111, and philosophically, it strikes me as both coherent and transparent. Easy to get your head around, I mean.
We drove a few more games later on, which put me in kind of the same mood as when I had first bought my Hype 59: “The tank is good, it makes credits, and I like driving it; I just can’t believe I spent so much money on it.”
The 59, of course, manoeuvred its way into my heart by just being a solid all rounder and a relaxing drive compared to the high-strung Russian Medium. That is going to be the true measure of the WZ-111: will it become one of my daily drivers? Is it a “thousands-of-games-tank”?
That remains of course to be seen. As it is, I thought I’d just give a few short pointers about how you can make the best of your WZ-111, should you happen to be of the mind to make a rash decision same as I did.
First off, the aimtime is terrible. Other Chinese tanks have some of the fastest aimtimes in the game, but this is regular Heavy tank stuff. This means you don’t want to stay too far back; the thing is geared for short to intermediate ranges.
To make life easier at or near the front, you have a really strong turret front, and you have solid, straight 80 mm sides that sidescrape really well. You also have a nice wide strip of spaced armour just like the Glacial or 111 1-4, and 80 mm on the upper side hull:
112 Glacial. Note weak lower side armour.
WZ-111 has flat sides.
Looking straight ahead, the 111 has 50 mm less of effective frontal armour than the Glacial. The kinky semi-pike nose will always straighten out somewhere, unlike the flat Glacial plate which can be angled. Five degrees of gun depression means yo’ll have trouble firing over the front plate from many spots.
But the turret sits as far forward as it can, and the pike nose and strong side armour means you can get shots sideways going up a small incline. Side scraping is easy to set up, and some standard juking and dancing will get results once in a while.
Against multiple opponents or fast and agile tanks, you are toast; again as things should be. You have just enough armour and mobility to get to an early spot, and just enough firepower and armour to hold it when you get there. It’s not going to give you a lot for free: you have to understand your strengths and work around a few weaknesses to make the tank perform.
20 games so far I’ve not seen a lot of tier IX, so it’s hard to judge the actual strength of the 111. It doesn’t strike me as struggling unduly, and I don’t feel like it has training wheels. I will say if you have the Glacial, you basically have this tank already, and if you are looking for raw power and “bang for your buck”, the IS-5 is of course the obvious choice.
From what I’ve seen, the WZ-111 has some pretty fierce competitors, and not a lot that sets it apart except for being the latest thing.
For me, the acquisition makes sense; not just on account of my being a tank philosopher and needing raw materials for my work, but because I will never buy an IS-5, even though I really like it. I will also never buy a Glacial, because I think the blue dragon motif looks terrible.
I am looking forward to exploring it. The Löwe is my only tier VIII premium Heavy tank, so I don’t actually have a lot of experience driving tier VIII Heavys. In this, especially, your mileage may vary. If you’ve done 3000 games in your Glacial, it’s not certain a pike nose, 3 km/h top speed, and more solid side armour is worth over 40€.
If you like Chinese tank, or shiny and new things, then the WZ-111 is at least a solid option. It’s a tier VIII Heavy, and it can do tier VIII Heavy tank things; some of them really well. It makes pretty good credits with some boosters or premium time. But I think you have to feel something specific for this particular tank, otherwise there will be a better, and likely very much cheaper option for you out there.
Two things irk me about the WZ-111. It’s too expensive, and also I can’t put the “Strong Willed” spare parts camo on it that all my other Chinese tanks have.
But yeah. I’ve been on Wargamings case for months about all the crates and probabilities, and so this is me putting my money where my mouth is: The WZ-111 is a straight up bundle with a guaranteed purchase. You get the tank, a garage slot, and all nine equipment slots opened. Ready to go, straight out of the box.
Whether or not the 111 will turn out to be a trusted friend and constant companion remains to be seen, but so far I have good feelings about it. It’s too expensive, and it’s not all that, but it’s also a nice tank, and I want to drive it more.
So, what’s the verdict? Should you get one?
Of course not; are you mad? Go buy the Object 730, it’s less than an eighth of the price.
IrmaBecx says ask me again in six to eight weeks; I am busy driving my “pointless” Chinese premium tank…
The old and the new! WZ-111 and Glacial platoon.