Hello everyone! A lot of people probably missed the news that the Referral Program is officially ending on January 15, 2019 (about 5 weeks from now). For those who are not familiar, the Referral Program can be used when recruiting new players to the game, to earn extra bonuses for both of you. Most rewards are just bonus XP, but the final prize is the rare T95E2, a tier 8 American reward MT (NOT a premium). You, the recruiter, will receive this after either platooning with the recruit for 1,000,000 XP, or after your recruit gets their first tier 10 tank. There are other stipulations, but that's the gist of it – get them to tier 10, you get a T95E2.
I imagine many of you have never even seen this tank, as it is one of the rarest tanks in the entire game. I actually acquired it for myself some time ago, but with this news, I thought I'd make a write-up for players who are considering grinding for it in the last few weeks. Note that WG has NOT confirmed whether or not the tank will be receivable in the future, nor if any changes will be made to it. Right now, getting it before January 15th is the only surefire way to get it.
So the question we've all been waiting for – is it worth the grind? To answer this, we have to look at the tank itself, and then consider how much effort it is to acquire. As always with my writeups, you can skip to the sections you care about; the conclusion is at the end.
How Good Is the Tank?
Short answer: Okay, not great. Pretty much an American version of the 59-Patton.
Long answer: Still not great. Before delving into the statistics, it needs to be noted that this tank is a Reward tank, NOT a Premium tank. What's the difference? Reward tanks do NOT earn bonus credits, but they get all the other bonuses, such as more crew XP.
First, we'll look at the gun. Honestly, other than the low silver pen it's a decent gun. The accuracy (0.36) and aim time (2.3s) are both on the better end for this tier, and the gun bloom is above average for a tier 8 MT. Overall, the gun handling is just the tiniest bit worse than the T25 Pilot and T-44, which is quite good. The ammo leaves a bit to be desired, though – 181mm AP pen is definitely subpar for a tier 8 MT, but 250mm HEAT pen is reasonable. The AP round also has low shell velocity, at only 914 m/s, but the HEAT round gets a reasonable 1219 m/s. The eagle-eyed of you will notice that this is just a single-shot version of the T69's gun.
The mobility is alright, but fails to stand out against the competition. The top speed of 56 km/h is very nice, but the P/W ratio of only 15.17 is on the lower end, and although good terrain resistances help, it is around the same speed as the M26 Pershing and Centurion I. The hull traverse is below average, though, at 34 deg/s on hard terrain and 28 deg/s on medium. Although the mobility isn't lacking per se, it's not a standout feature – it's fast enough to get where it needs to go and that's it.
Until now, things haven't been too bad, but we haven't talked about the armor yet. It's… not good. The UFP (Upper Front Plate) on the hull is well-angled, varying from ~190mm effective to autobounce, which is nice, but the ~120mm effective LFP is very weak. Unlike other American mediums, which can sidescrape rather well, this vehicle can't, because the rear portion of its side hull armor is only 31.7mm thick, overmatched by all 100mm+ guns. On paper, the turret is pretty decent, with a thick gun mantlet and good angling on the sides to offer 180-210mm effective protection in most areas, but this tank has a gigantic ~80mm thick cupola which almost completely negates the turret armor. This is a very similar story to the
The rest of the statistics are about what you'd expect from a tier 8 American MT. 9 degrees of gun depression along the sies and rear, an above average 1500hp, and a good 400m view range. Camo values are subpar due to the large profile. The ammo capacity at 64 shells is quite good. Lastly, not being a premium tank, this tank is not a very good credit earner – I often lose credits playing mine.
Flexibility: Pretty high, thanks to its mid-mounted turret, solid gun depression, and standard MT mobility. Due to that goshdarn cupola, though, it is only effective at hulldown from a distance.
Brawling: It's not good at brawling but what did you expect? The UFP and turret can both bounce some poorly-aimed shots, and many players don't know about your thin side armor so it's likely to sometimes work at autobounce angles as well. I wouldn't take this to the front lines, but if you find yourself in an engagement against a same-tier LT or MT, you can bounce the occasional shell. Heavies can expect to pen you reliably, as will anyone that fires gold or just aims their gun.
Sniping: Okay, not great. With 0.36 accuracy and otherwise good gun handling, this would be a decent sniper if not for the low AP pen and shell speed. Firing HEAT fixes both problems, but there are better gold rounds out there.
Overall, it is a pretty mediocre tank at best. Everything about the tank just leaves a bit to be desired, and it fails to specialize. Every time I play it, I wish I was playing either a T25 Pilot (faster, better aim time, no tumor) or the M46 Patton KR (much better gun handling, no tumor). Let's not even get into tier 8 powercreep and MM issues, because that only paints a worse picture. Its greatest appeal is by far its rarity.
How Is the Grind?
The short answer is that unless you buy your way there, it's absolutely miserable.
There are a few ways you can obtain this vehicle. The intended way is to actually recruit a friend, play with them a while, and get the tank after a while as a long-term reward. The way most people seem to get the tank, myself included, is to create another account, recruit it from the main account, and play on this new account yourself.
Therefore, you have four main paths to the T95E2:
- Completely free-to-play. Use an invite code and nothing else – you're getting the tank without spending a dime. You're gonna take full advantage of that one free week of premium most codes come with. Other than one low-tier premium, you'll be doing this the old-fashioned way.
- Spending some money. The cheapest option is to just extend your premium time to a month for ~$12, which is what I did. I figured in terms of money, that was reasonable for a tier 8 premium. Others may opt to also get a premium tank for credit grinding, but that's up to you. Of the two, I'd recommend premium time, because it will make your entire grind faster.
- Completely pay-to-play. Why play the low tiers when you could buy your favorite high premium, grind out ~630,000 XP (this will get you the 60TP, the cheapest tier 10), and spend a bunch of money to convert that to free XP. This is the most painless way to get the tank, but definitely the most expensive, costing $100 to get the gold plus however much it is to get your favorite premium tank and enough premium time. You can expect to spend up to $150 if you go down this route.
- Somehow convince a friend to create a new account and grind their way to tier 10 in less than a month. I would not wish this hell on anyone – if you are going to make someone miserable, do it to yourself.
If you try to pick option #4, I will personally track you down and beat you senseless with a raw fish. Unless you pick option #3, then you get to enjoy the fresh hell that is the new player experience! If so, read on to see just what you'll be getting yourself into!
From here to the conclusion I am pretty much just ranting about how awful the new player experience is in general, so feel free to skip it if you've hit your daily quota for raging.
Before I get too carried away, though, let's briefly mention what WG did right here. There is a detailed tutorial that teaches players the basic game mechanics, including the spotting system. It is very well done and highly accessible, and most importantly, at the end you get a commander with Sixth Sense. As long as you were aiming for an American, German, or Soviet tank, you're covered. There's also a mode where you only fight bots, which to you may not be too useful (other than a fun way to see how many kills you can get) but for actual new players is a good addition.
Now to dive into the massive shit-tornado that will be your first few hundred battles (few dozen hours). Just remember when you're reading this that I came into this as a unicum player, so I already know how to play this game quite well. An actual new player will have it much harder than I did.
The early game experience is fucking atrocious. My experience was so miserable, I can not in good faith recommend this game to anyone. I really cannot stress how painful this game is for new players, even ones who do everything right. Even spending hundreds of hours studying guides and watching streams will not prepare you for how unfair this game is for newbies. The biggest issues are ones I've ranted about before, but they're still terrible and I like hearing myself talk so I'm going to rant about them again: credit economy, crew retraining, and crew skills.
First, the early-game credit economy is a joke. I was expecting to have to grind millions of credits for my tier 10 tank, but I didn't realize just how awful it is in the low tiers. Without premium time, a good battle in tier 3 will net you about 8,000 credits, assuming you don't fire any gold, don't use any consumables, break even on damage, and don't spend too many credits on the repair bill. A tier 4 tank costs around 150k credits, so you will be saving up for a while.
To be fair, it makes sense that income is lower in the low tiers, because vehicles, ammo, and maintenance costs are all cheaper. The issue is that not all the costs are relative. Small equipment is not affordable (do you want to repair your track or make credits this game? You decide!). Large equipment is a pipe dream, and your crews are gonna starve because you can't afford Food. You can't afford to use gold rounds in most scenarios that require it. However, the worst offender is equipment, which might as well cost a billion credits for how much good it does you. To be fair, most equipment is just "nice to have", but Binoculars are an exception. These are mandatory to have good view range in most low tier tanks and cost 500,000 credits. Remember, Joe Blow is making about 3-5k credits per game playing his piddly little Pz III E, and even you will maybe make double that. After that excellent spotting tutorial, you aren't gonna be spotting shit for quite a while, not to mention that without Sixth Sense you won't know you're lit until you start dying (more on that later). Binoculars is something that every new player should be given for free.
For the first few hundred battles, you simply can't afford to play the game the way it's meant to be played. You could realistically play this game for 100 hours and still not afford all the consumables and gold rounds that are needed to compete. If you had told me that before I started playing this game, I never would've installed it.
I know this technically falls under "Credit Economy", but this aspect of the game is such a crock of shit that it deserves its own section. Remember how I said not all costs are relative in this game? This is one of them. Spending around 100,000 credits to move crews in tier 10 tanks is understandable, fine, but the low tiers too? Moving your crew will cost more than double what a tier 3 tank is actually worth! Why does WG hate fun?
If you are like most cash-strapped players and don't want to pay for the privilege of actually being able to play the goddamn game, then you're probably gonna save your credits instead, so now you get to enjoy your brand new stock tank with a 50% crew! Hooray! Every new player had to suffer through this, including you – you've just likely erased this memory from your mind as a basic survival mechanism. Just to remind you, THIS is what a stock T-28 looks like. And that's with a 100% crew, which you can't afford. And you are expected to fight Hellcats, Cromwells, T-34-85Ms, and KV-2s. With that. Yes, I'm serious. This is considered reasonable. And let's be honest, once you're elited it's not much better.
Odds are, you won't even get a crew to 100% until partway through the tier 6 tank, because every time you move up, you reset some progress. The whole 50% crew system adds nothing to the game and makes the game much, much worse for new players.
Okay, you've been playing long enough (or broke out the credit card) and now have a 100% crew, so you can start making progress on crew skills. Now you are finally competitive, right?
Nope! 100% crews were just the beginning of your tedium, because skills take even longer to acquire. And yes, they are super important. And yes, everyone else has them except you. You're getting permatracked because you don't have full Repairs. You're getting your ammo rack damaged every third shot because you don't have Safe Stowage. You are getting spotted all the time in your stealthy tanks because you don't have full Concealment. And worst of all, you won't even KNOW if you are spotted until you get Sixth Sense. Seriously, not having Sixth Sense makes you a second-class citizen in this game.
Your first crew skill takes a couple hundred battles to acquire, during which time you are at a huge disadvantage. Unless you're going out of your way to stick with tanks long after you've elited them, you probably won't spend enough time with a tank to make meaningful progress on your crew skills until tier 6, and you won't complete your first one until tier 7. I actually found it was faster to complete the entire MT mission set for the StuG IV to get a commander with Sixth Sense than it was to grind one out.
The low tiers are miserable because the time to kill is extremely low – many tanks can kill a full-health enemy in 2 seconds or less. Mistakes are punished severely, and even if you play perfectly, there's little stopping the enemy from YOLOing you and killing you. The game doesn't start to resemble the slow, methodical, armor-oriented gameplay we all know and love until tiers 5-6.
You'll want to grind out a couple of fun tanks to play to maintain a basic level of sanity. I opted for the Luchs and KV-1 – even if you still have to deal with horrible teams, at least your vehicle is so overpowered that you can still have a decent game.
Be careful which premium tank you get with your invite code. The Churchill III is a poor credit earner (not to mention leFH bait) and I found I was better off using the KV-1 to grind credits.
Speaking of, the leFH is fucking bullshit. After my 40-day barefoot trek through the desert that was this grind, I have made a solemn vow to never play mine again.
Oh yeah, have fun with tier 8 MM. I hope you picked a tech tree with a decent tier 8!
Phew, that was a mouthful. We were talking about grinding for the T95E2, right?
If you REALLY value rarity and are one of those people where spending $150 doesn't really matter to you, then honestly, yeah it's probably worth it. Take some time off, play on a new account, rack up XP in a fun tank and get a unique reward at the end. Just know that this will probably cut into your Holiday Ops time on your main account (which you were probably going to buy your way through anyways!).
If you are literally anyone else, then no. Hell no. Even if this tank was as powerful as the old T-22 medium, I still wouldn't recommend it. It takes a crazy amount of effort to get – it took me 720 battles, which at 5 minutes/battle was 60 hours. The new player experience is pure, high-quality AAA misery, and it wasn't until about tier 7 that I stopped actively hating myself. If you make someone do this, then you are not their friend.
If it turns out the tank isn't coming back after January 15th, then don't worry about it – you aren't missing much.
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