In light of the sir Foch vs WG controversy I thought I would go ahead and offer some thoughts on why we have seen the game take the direction it has with the arguably OP premiums that sparked this controversy in the first place.
Pushing for premiums
As someone who was personally involved in the research and creation of the Swedish tech tree I was in contact with several people at wargaming for quite some time. Trough one of my contacts from that time I know that Wargaming have been pushing for larger numbers of “more competitive” premium tanks for quite some time now, dating back to the introduction of the Panther 88.
When it was added to the game the Panther 88 was a thoroughly mediocre tank and arguably worse than some of the older premiums with restricted matchmaking. The tank underperformed in sales so badly that WG even had to lower its price and give players that purchased it early some of their money back in gold credits mere weeks after its introduction.
Later patches would improve the performance of the panther 88 but the damage was already done and WG requested a new more competitive German tier 8 medium premium to replace the panther 88. The Swiss Panzer 58 was chosen for this role as no actual German candidates could be found in time and it was introduced as the Pz 58 mutz. This started the cycle of WG introducing more and more powerful premium tanks, as they didn’t want to repeat the mistake of the panther 88. But there is more to it than that.
The way world of tanks itself was balanced changed and its arguably this that allowed tanks like the Chrysler K or even the Maus (with the recent armor buff) to become overpowered in the first place. This is why I would say the Chrysler K is just the symptom of a greater problem, but to explain what I mean ill have to explain how wot was balanced in the past and how it has changed.
Wot and balancing
During most of its development world of tanks was balanced around the idea that the Historical data for a vehicle should be the determining factor of how that vehicle plays.
A good example of this mentality is the tiger which despite its reputation of being a armored behemoth plays nothing like that because Wargaming chose treat its historical stats seriously and put it up against some worthy competition.
Historical accuracy used to be taken extremely seriously with tanks receiving updated armor models and even having modules removed or added with the purpose of making them more historical, this was the case with the German high tier engine rebalance for example. In the most extreme cases entire branches was reworked to replace tanks like the fv4202 or the T23 which had unhistorical aspects.
Fv4202 was once the British tier 10 medium
Of course there were cases where unhistorical elements were introduced for the sake of balance like buffs to the gun depression on high tier Russian vehicles, but generally these cases were rare and often the result of flawed research.
As we established the Historical data for vehicles in the game was only very rarely changed for the sake of balance, this led to them being termed as “hard stats”.
However to keep certain tanks that had an advantage in their “hard stats” from being straight upgrades over others in the same tier a number of balancing stats were introduced, these became known as “soft stats”. The “soft stats” basically include any stat that is not tied to the historical data of the vehicle, this includes things like hit points, accuracy, reload times, traverse speeds and module health.
Terrain resistance is an example of a soft stat. In the game its used to determine how much resistance a vehicle encounter when driving over certain terrain types and thus the ease of which it can reach its top speed.
The role of terrain resistance in particular is not only to keep vehicles with high power to weight ratios and top speeds like the AMX CDC from replacing light tanks but also to keep tanks like the Maus and t95 viable despite their lower power to weight ratios and top speeds.
Most of the “soft stats” serve similar roles and help the developers by providing many avenues for balancing tanks around their historical stats as needed (instead of altering them directly), this in turn allowed the diversity of tanks we see in the game today.
In short “soft stats” are stats that are used to compensate for a vehicles historical advantages or disadvantages, and are necessary for balancing the tanks in the game.
Changes in wot’s balance process
Around patch 9,17 we saw a shift in the way WoT was balanced which was likely the result of changes in the Balance department for Wot. From what I have personally heard most of the balance team was “replaced” with a lucky few keeping their positions (although with much less influence). What we know for sure is that the head of the Balance department Veider was fired and replaced by Murazor.
The AMX M4 49 which was the first vehicle handled by the new balance team was originally released on the Russian server with a moderate set of stats to compensate for its very strong armor profile. The tank was balanced but it was not particularly popular, so in an attempt to make the tank more popular before it was added to the other servers the tank was buffed.
This would have been fine but instead of just improving the soft stats the balance team decided to mess around with the historical data by slapping on some fake armor instead. If this was because the team was either unwilling or unable to balance vehicles around their historical strengths and weaknesses or due to pure laziness is anybody’s guess, but this disregard for the historical data continued with tanks like the Chrysler K and Object 252U which were added with fake armor and guns to suit WG’s need for these tanks to sell.
If you look at the early supertest versions of any of the Swedish heavy tanks or the more recent premium heavies you will find that while they all started out with their historical armor they later received major changes so that their armor would be able to take more shots. In the case of the Object 252U this meant going from a hull armor of 90/90/90mm to 140/100/90mm, and the Chrysler K started with 114.3/76.2/76.2mm hull armor which turned into 152.4/101.6/76.2mm.
Links to these vehicles initial stats
By messing around with the “hard stats” of these vehicles WG opened a can of worms that should have been left alone. Had they followed the old balance model they could still have added some very competitive premium tanks (by the use of soft stats) and there wouldn’t have been a reason for Foch to get worked up in the first place since the historical armor was capable but much weaker than what we have now. Even if he got upset about the other stats of the tank WG could have simply justified it by saying that is how the vehicle was historically.
But right now sir Foch’s accusation of Wargaming adding tanks that have no weakpoints and are essentially there as premium sponges is well supported by the way they chose to add fake armor instead of balancing these new premiums properly. As it stands WG has introduced a series of unbalanced tanks that externally look the part but don’t represent the vehicles on which they are supposed to be based.
Some final thoughts
As I stated at the start of this article I was one of the people behind the Swedish tech tree, as such I saw first hand how the Swedish tree was affected by the new balance team and their changes, and that is when I originally started writing this article.
I could honestly go on for ages on this topic but as somebody who spent years researching what would become the Swedish tree it broke my heart to see how tanks in the Swedish tree were ruined by the way they were balanced with fake armor, gun depression and engine outputs etc when they could have so easily been balanced with “soft stats” instead.
Swedish engines in game vs real life
I only hope that now that this balancing issue have also affected the game at large and sparked this controversy the playerbase can start pushing back against WG when they try this again.
If you are interested in how the Swedish heavies were affected then I already have an article on the subject: Link here
If you made it all the way trough this article i want to tank you for sticking with it. This is something i Iave wanted to talk about for quite some time now since i feel its ruining the game. Anyway ill hopefully be back with the next part of my Q&A answers which will be up in the next couple days.
Mizutayio: Articles like these really make me respect SP15 a lot. I can’t thank him enough for writing such an article for us.