Patch 9.18 brings a multitide of changes to arty and light tanks. Although most of these changes look very bad, I thought it would be worth playing each tank with no bias, ignoring the numbers, just to see how they felt in actual gameplay. As background, I consider myself primarily a scouty medium player – I was -G-‘s top clan wars scout for several years and have exhaustive experience in every light or fast medium in the game. That said, I’ve always felt that light tanks were underpowered and frequently useless due to map design and anemic guns. So let’s see how the new tanks hold up.
Note: I’m going to start with the tanks in my garage and if my budget allows, will buy all the new ones to try as well. Donations are welcome, especially credits.
AMX 13 90
I’ve felt like the AMX 13 90 was in a bad place in 0.17. Its awful gun handling left it much worse than some of the other t8 lights, including the T-54L. It had some use in stronks, but in general was obsolete.
Enter the new and improved 9.18 version. The first massive change is the addition of the vertical stabilizer. Gun bloom also had a major reduction (from 0.20 to 0.12), +100 HP, +25% DPM, reduced burst time (2.73 to 2.21) and improved penetration (170 to 205) with an APCR gold round. It also moved from 6 shot clip to 4 shot, which IMO, is clearly an upgrade but is a matter of personal preference. On the nerf size, it lost some effective agility (~55 to 47 on good ground) which I don’t notice and view range is nerfed down to 380 (which sucks, hard).
In gameplay, the 1390 is MUCH improved. Getting off an effective clip is much, much easier and the improved penetration helps a huge amound, especially against moderately armored mediums like the T-54 or E-50. The view range hurts, but is still playable. I don’t understand WG’s rationale with this nerf, as mediums now have superior stationary camo and view range to lights, making them superior passive scouts or peekaview scouts, and active scouting is stupid/useless risk 90% of the time.
But overall, the tier 9 AMX 13 90 is a lot stronker than it was at tier 8. I’m still debating whether the lorraine, batchat, or 13 90 style is better but I think they are all at least competitive, which is a good thing.
The WZ-132 has always been a bit underpowered and very underappreciated. Its extraordinary agility and effective boom allowed it IMO to be the best pure scout in tier. The new version stays at tier 8, meaning it gets potentially much more favorable matchmaking (especially as t8 is the most common tier – in my ancedotal gameplay, I find t8s are on top about 50% of the time, not 33%). The changes in 9.18 are minor – reduced agility/turning (which is not too bad as it helps you retain control a bit easier, no real loss of performance I can see), reduced accuracy (.35 to .38), slightly improved turret bloom, slightly nerfed reload, and nerfed vision from 380 to 400. This is all in line with WG’s new light tank paradigm, trying to force all the square pegs into the round hole they have imagined. This changes the WZ-132 from a great pure scout with effective long range fire to a “brawling” light tank, which makes about as much sense as you would expect.
In actual gameplay, I could feel some of the loss of view range/accuracy at range especially on the few open, scouty maps where lights excell (phroko, campinova, etc). On other maps, I noticed no difference. It remains to be seen if the advantage in matchmaking outweighs the nerf in scouting ability. I, for one, think its lost some of its flavor that made it worth playing. As it is now, I am wondering why I’m not in a bulldog.
M41 Walker Bulldog
The Bulldog has been the source of a lot of tears since the patch, as WG completely nerf hammed the Bulldog’s popular 10 shot autoloader into the first. The Walker has always been one of the most popular and effective scouts, in large part due to the dominance of a 10 shot APCR clip against other softies. As such, the single shot is recommended (which I ran anyhow).
In 9.18, it has a lot of minor changes that add up to be a big change in role. It gains +80 HP, slightly improved boom, increased penetration (150 to 175), and a big boost to agility/turning. It loses some speed (72 down to 68), the clip, and it gets t8 matchmaking. Note that its view range was not nerfed, leaving it the best scout in tier. It further retains its APCR base round (ease of leading shots), good comfort (bloom, depression, etc all good) and improved agility.
This all combines to make it the best scout in tier, and also have good firepower, particularly at long range. The loss of the clip makes you less of an antiscout bully, but the nerf to everyone else’s scoutiness leaves you the king of the hill and still with above average firepower. Thus, the already popular bulldog becomes the go to tank for stronks and should dominate t8 light play.
T-54L, LTTB, and your choice (fans vote, I’ll review!)