Update 3.4 - Autoloader Guns in Action!
Update 3.4 will introduce not only the Canyon map, a picturesque Wild West arena, but also some residents for this location. The Wild West wouldn’t be “wild” without cowboys armed with cool guns! So the new version of the game adds the entire branch of American vehicles with autoloader guns!
Familiarize yourselves with these new vehicles, uncommon for most of players. Very soon you will drive these tanks into battle or fight shoulder to shoulder with them!
The new branch includes as many as nine tanks and it may take quite a while to get to know them all. So we will review the beginning of the branch quickly and provide you with more detailed information about high-tier vehicles: you will be able to try out these tanks yourselves very soon, and it will not take you much time, experience, or credits.
- Tier II: M2 Light
A manoeuvrable light tank featuring 25 mm round armour, both on the hull and on the turret. The tank has two guns: a gun with an autoloader for 10 shells and a single-shot “classic” gun with high penetration and damage potential. Both guns require a lot of time to aim and have high dispersion on the move. The machine gun will be good for close combat, and the classic gun—for medium distance and positional shooting.
- Tier III: M3 Stuart
To be precise, it is not exactly a tank with an autoloader, but from the game mechanics perspective, it is. The top three-shell gun can shoot with an interval of 0.7 seconds. Taking into account the average speed of 50-60 km/h on flat terrain, this tank can quickly approach the enemy and cause about 120 HP of damage in less than 2 seconds, so you should take note.
- Tier IV: M5 Stuart
The younger Stuart has the same advantages: good manoeuvrability and a five-shell gun. In less than 3 seconds, you can chip off about 200 HP from the enemy, that’s almost half of a light tank’s HP or one-third of the HP on a Tier IV vehicle with thicker armour.
- Tier V: M7
This medium tank has the soul of a dashing scout. The M7 is a medium tank with the playstyle of a light tank. It features a streamlined shape together with good manoeuvrability and varied armament. You can choose between the two guns: a universal fast-firing and piercing six-pounder, or a 75 mm gun with a higher damage potential, but average penetration and accuracy.
- Tier VI: T21
This is a light tank with a blend of light and medium tank playstyles. The T21 has average dynamics and is too huge to become a fully-fledged scout. Actually, it is a lighter twin brother of the T20, a Tier VII medium tank from the M48 Patton branch that you are already familiar with. Its main 76 mm gun fires more than 10 shots per minute, penetrates 128 mm armour with a standard shell, and inflicts 160 HP of damage. The best tactics for this tank are providing fire support to allied medium tanks and actively cooperating with teammates in manoeuvrable battles.
As you can see, most tanks at the beginning of the branch are “classic” vehicles with single-shot guns, but two Stuarts (the M3 and M4) give you some hint as to what awaits you at the top of the branch. Starting from Tier VII, the four tanks with autoloaders take the stage. Their task is to deal damage and hide, and then repeat this process till victory. Let’s take a closer look at these newcomers!
- Tier VII: T71 light tank
Small, wicked, and pesky, this tank can drive even the most patient enemy crazy. The manoeuvrable T71 can easily hide in small shelters and pierce the enemy while it is busy with something else. Pop out of nowhere, fire three shots from the autoloader and promptly escape from any vengeance—that’s what the T71 is all about. To substantiate these bold claims, let’s look inside!
Now let’s get a closer look at the most important part of this tank: the 76 mm gun with an autoloader placed in an oscillating turret. The three-shell autoloader shoots with a 2 second interval. With 160 HP damage potential, it can cause about 480 HP of damage over a short period of time. It takes less than 15 seconds to reload the autoloader, and with ventilation and provisions, this time can be reduced to 13.3 seconds. The firepower of its closest rival, the two-shot Spähpanzer SP I C with “quasi” autoloader is a little higher, but the T71 features good dynamics and the best speed (though, no Tier VII vehicle can overtake the Soviet LTTB).
- Tier VIII: T69 medium tank
This interesting vehicle with an oscillating turret will become a worthy rival for Tier VIIIs. The T69 features good dynamics and manoeuvrability comparable with the Soviet Т-44 and the American Pershing. The tank gathers speed quickly, maintains it, and turns rapidly. The turret traverse speed is also high, allowing the player to promptly redirect an attack or face into the enemy’s shot with the front armour. And the armour is quite solid: 101 mm on the sloped frontal sheet and 152 mm on the turret makes penetrating at medium or long distances no easy task for the enemy!
The T69 features a three-shot autoloader that fires with a 3 second interval. Its damage potential is 225 HP. So in 6 seconds, this medium tank can inflict 675 HP of damage, which is comparable to that of large-caliber tank destroyers. Its reload time is about 16 seconds, and you can reduce this time to 15 seconds using provisions and equipment. Impressive numbers, considering that the 6-second maximum for any other Tier VIII medium tank is one shot. Even if we take T-44 with a 122 mm gun, it will only cause 400 damage and then drop out of the battle for 17 seconds.
This way, the obvious tactics for the T69 are to play together with another medium tank (preferably with a “classic” gun), cause guaranteed damage by shooting at the enemy’s vulnerable sides, and instantly destroy vehicles with low HP. If the situation is more difficult, and an enemy’s weak sides are not exposed, feel free to use shells with 250 mm of penetration, they should help. Be careful, if you play on your own: always keep in mind that when your autoloader is empty, you need to find a place where you will survive the next 15 seconds. So if you are alone, close combat becomes a dangerous venture; you might want to keep your distance.
- Tier IX: T54E1 medium tank
Let’s start with the drawbacks. The T54E1 has 110 mm of hull armour and is able to ricochet a shell or two, or even cause a non-penetration, but at Tier IX this is unlikely to happen. The turret may compensate for that: even though its 127 mm of armour doesn’t sound impressive, it’s the shape causing ricochets that matters. The T54E1 is also not very mobile: with its top speed of 44 km/h and a low power to weight ratio, the new American vehicle moves like the German E 50 or a mobile heavy tank. However, all these disadvantages are eliminated when you look closely at the advantages.
We’ve compared the damage of the T69 to high-caliber tank destroyers, and the damage per autoloader of the T54E1 is close to everyone’s favourite FV215b (183): the new medium tank is able to cause 1,050 HP of damage in only three shots! Whether to attack the fully equipped T54E1 or not is the real question to consider, because you might lose more than half of your HP in just six seconds.
Thanks to the high total damage per autoloader, the T54E1 can partner not only with a “classic” vehicle, but also with another T54E1: two autoloaders are able to grind a Tier X vehicle to dust. The gun fires with only two types of shell: armour-piercing (210 mm) and armour-piercing composite rigid (255 mm). The first ones will help you deal with vehicles of the same type, while the others are aimed at someone more powerful. The price you have to pay for the firepower is 20 seconds of reloading the autoloader with the appropriate provisions and ventilation mounted. This is why keeping good cover nearby must be a priority for the T54E1.
- Tier X: T57 Heavy
This branch of light and medium tanks has an unexpected ending. A powerful autoloader and relatively good armour. Just like the T54E1, the turret, with its 127 mm of armour, is much stronger than it seems thanks to its shape. The turret can only be penetrated at its immovable elements to the right and left of the staggering mantlet.
Its shape is very much like its neighbour, the heavy T110E5, with the only exception being that the tank with the autoloader features less armour—203 mm. We all know what an insidious American hull really is: there’s no use in shooting at the armour plate joints, and the upper armour plate only gets penetrated every other time because of the tricky slopes and permanent movement (you won’t just stand still, right?). The lower armour plate is the weakest part, but even the slightest hull rotation will be enough to block most of the shots.
The hull is not the only similarity between the T57 Heavy and T110E5. These vehicles have similar dynamics: fast acceleration to 35 km/h, good penetration, and the ability to maintain speed over difficult terrain. Decent manoeuvrability and the very-fast-for-heavy-tanks turret of the T57 Heavy complement its main advantage—a triple-charged autoloader. Looks like the T54E1 was only beginner's training compared to this autoloading monster, capable of causing 1,200 HP of damage in only seven seconds!
Despite this impressive fire power, the T57 Heavy will be of greater use when teamed up with another vehicle. It can be a pile of armour like the E100, or another T57 Heavy: the two of you can cause 2,400 HP of damage and get rid of a Tier X vehicle. Most of the vehicles with autoloaders need a partner, because they become powerless during the key 18–20 seconds of reload time and are likely to be sent back to the Garage. If you play with a partner, use your T57 Heavy aggressively: instantly attack the enemy, damage the same target and step back. This kind of gameplay definitely requires good teamwork, so that you cover each other and take turns in being shot at. You can play from the second line as well: wait until the most aggressive vehicles do their job and then use your autoloader to the fullest.
If you decide to go alone, you will always have to find a balance between close combat and fighting at medium range. On the one hand, you have three shells and no room for error: the closer you get to the enemy, the more damage you cause. This is extremely useful when you fire with high-explosive anti-tank shells. On the other hand, close combat exposes a lot of poorly armoured sides, which puts you at a high risk of losing a lot of HP. At a medium distance, the enemy aims not at separate parts, but at the whole hull, and this is when the armour starts to work for you. You are the one to choose the tactics, although you might come up with something better, of course. In this case, don’t forget to share your ideas with other players!
The introduction of a whole branch of vehicles with autoloaders is an important event for World of Tanks Blitz. We won’t promise that the new vehicles will change the battles completely: let’s give it some time. What we are absolutely sure about is that these vehicles will require a new approach to battling. The key tactics for these vehicles is “shoot and run”; the commander needs to take risks, think over the escape routes, and have great teamwork skills. You will definitely want to try them out in platoon games. Test the autoloader vehicles in battles after Update 3.4 releases; and in the meantime, take a look at some screenshots of them!