On Tanks, Tanks and Tanks

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So Christmas has passed. With this being so close to my 21st Birthday, a lot of my presents are counting for both as I asked for some quite expensive stuff. My main present (which I’ll cover in another post) has me really excited for airsoft this year – it should also get me to finally learn how to edit video rather than the flailing around I’ve done so far.

However, most of my holiday break has been dominated by those adorable armoured boxes design to murder other humans, tanks. I’ve been playing as them, watching them and today have started to build and later play with tiny ones.

Playing as tanks – World of Tanks

Up until this holiday, I have had a love – hate relationship with World of Tanks. On the one hand, its a game for people who loves themselves some accurately modelled tanks to a degree I have not seen before. On the other, its a game designed to sap either your money or your time from you which seems down right nasty. As such, I played it on and off, jumping in for a few rounds before stopping for months on end.

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However, Wargaming.Net have made a few changes recently with the introduction of the British tanks and a physics system. The first relates to my own knowledge of history – thanks to knowing how British tanks work, I know how to play them better than the experimental US tanks or the early war Russian tanks I have never heard of. I know that a Cruiser Mk IV with go super fast but have no armour while the sturdy Matilda will take rounds from most tanks without breaking a sweat but is slow as a sloth and its gun may as well be a marshmallow shooter.

The physics just make the game more of a game. Now when my Churchill busts through a wall and rams a Stuart right in the flank, it doesn’t just gently nudge it. Instead it flips it over, wreaking everyone’s tracks and knocking the poor little Stuart out of the game. It also lets tank drivers have fun with slopes, letting light tanks jump through the air when they get their speeds up. Games are more exciting with more crazy things happening.

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It also looks really good. A favourite map of mine is Dragon Ridge, a map whose sole point seems to be showing just how crap tanks are in the terrain of the Pacific Front. Large hills, perilous drops and some small villages make the map feel like Vietnam and lets tanks fail horribly by either falling (more often pushed) off cliffs or being surprised by a tank barrelling its way through a small town.

I can see myself playing a lot more World of Tanks over the next few months. I want to work all the way through the British tree before starting on the Yanks properly

Watching Tanks – Girls Und Panzer

I hate 90% of the world’s anime. Apart from a few exceptions such as Red Line or Gurran Lagan, anime is medium that I hate with a burning passion. Part of this is due to my dislike of anime tropes – Uppotte an anime all about guns which held promise makes me feel dirty watching thanks to its sexualisation of the female characters which are all school children. I felt wrong.

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I’d seen mention of Girls Und Panzer all over the Flames of War forum and the /tg board and so was intrigued by it although not expecting great things from it. Instead, after watching an episode I found a series that avoided the usual Anime tone, instead focusing on well researched tank action combined with some half decent writing. Its still obviously Japan-anime but it doesn’t give me the need to go bleach my eyes after watching

The story is based around Tankery, a sport played between schools by their female students. The sport consists of battles between World War Two tanks from all the nations and it is considered to be a quintessential female skill along such things a flower arranging. There is a main plotline about the main school requiring themselves to win in order to stay open and there are the usual character plot lines but to be honest, this is just side stuff to some cool tank battles and in depth history of tanks. Seriously, they love themselves some tanks. Little touches such as references in the characters show just the level of detail they went to. I do also like the characters – there is some nice variety to them although the best is the STUG crew who all come from the History Club yet are terrible at it.

Overall, its actually one of the few anime I would recommend. Its very watchable with plenty of cool action and genuinely funny scenes.

Playing With Tanks – Flames of War

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For quite a while I’ve been wanting to go back to table top wargaming. I’ve wanted to make some more models, enjoying the delight of gluing plastic together and then painting up them to look perfect. I had been looking for a while to pick up some Games Workshop figures (especially a Valkyrie) but was put off by the sheer price of each model.

As mentioned before, I’ve been slowly becoming more and more interested in World War 2 wargaming after a friend showed me Flames of War. After an intro game (Panzer IVs vs Stugs) I was hooked. It plays similarly to Warhammer 40k but at a much faster pace, with none of the focus on the slogging match that close combat becomes. Instead shooting combat is fast paced and deadly, with machine guns pinning troops while Shermans try to outflank the German heavies.

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I’d asked for the Open Fire set (the latest Flames of War intro box) for Christmas and thanks to my Sister and her Husband I’ve been given it. Inside is a ton of models, including a  US Airborne platoon (to be painted up as 82nd Airborne) and the core of a British Armoured Squadron including Shermans and Fireflys. The Germans get some Stugs, some Pak 40s and a platoon of German Grenadiers. On top of that, there is some nice rulebooks, a bucket load of tokens and some cardboard scenery to get you started.

As mentioned in my last post, I’ll be swapping the German stuff for more tanks and infantry to bring myself up to almost a 1500 point force, although missing some important stuff. I’m planning to pick up some M10 Achilles tank destroyers to act as a high speed flanking force and a 25pdr gun troop to lay smoke and blat my opponents infantry into the ground.

Pulling out the models I have gave me an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia back to the Airfix kits I used to make. Using the same tools as last time, I’ve been cutting off flash and preparing them for assembly and enjoying the tactile feel of assembling them. I’m actually looking forward to painting them up and trying to improve my skills at it. Its something else to do in the evening apart from programming.

And that is it on tanks and stuff for now. I’ll be putting some photos of my assembled models up online once I’ve made them and I’ll keep you up to date on everything. I’ll also be posting up something in the next few days about my big Christmas present. Keep your eyes peeled!