Hello everyone! Wargaming recently unveiled their plans to rebalance the Type 4 and 5 Heavies, which they will be supertesting. It has spawned a lot of discussion, mostly constructive, about the pros and cons of their approach. I shared my thoughts and got a few upvotes, which went straight to my head; that's partly why I made this post.
I'm not here to bash WG, nor am I going to be too harsh on them delaying a rebalance for so long. Personally, I'm just glad they recognize the problem and are willing to try to fix it. However, it's easy to complain, and I've seen few if any serious posts on how to fix these vehicles. This is one of those cases where if you asked 10 different people how to fix the tanks, you'll get 12 different answers, so I'm going to start with an objective(-ish) analysis of the vehicle's flaws, both particular and conceptual, before detailing my solution.
WG does listen to the community in some capacity, so if we can agree on the best solution now, they might try them out via supertest. This isn't likely, but a boy can dream.
The vehicles were first added in September 2015, with patch 9.10. They were problematic on release: the mid-tier O-I and O-I Experimental were very powerful, whereas the top tiers were horribly underpowered. The Type 4 and 5 Heavies were widely detested for their lacking firepower and insufficient armor.
In February 2017, patch 9.17.1 mixed things up, by introducing their now-despised 15cm derp guns, as well as a significant armor buff. They also had no notable weakspots, much to the chagrin of players.
In August 2017, patch 9.20 added some minor weakspots to the frontal hull of the vehicles. You often still need to shoot gold rounds, but at least you can pen them a bit more reliably if you hit these patches of armor.
And that's where we're at today. Wargaming is currently testing a third round of rebalances; few vehicles come to mind that have required this many changes. What has caused this issue?
Why the Vehicles are Broken
Well, "broken" might be too strong a word, but it gets the point across. At first, the issue was straightforward: they lacked the armor and/or firepower necessary to justify their horrendous mobility. However, now things are complicated.
First, they are very tough vehicles. With a thick hull, thick turret, and solid side armor, they are more than capable of taking a punch. However, this armor is very flat, and thanks to its layout it cannot be made much stronger by sidescraping. Thus, the only way to make these tanks tough but not unkillable is to make their armor strong enough to bounce most silver rounds, but thin enough to be reliably penned by most gold rounds. This is frustrating for both parties.
Second, they are very slow vehicles. The name "superheavy" doesn't exactly conjure the image of a highly mobile or flexible tank, but these things are slooooow. Also, they're huge. Good luck doing anything even remotely creative – you're solely relegated to frontline brawling.
Third, they have big "fuck you" HE guns. They aren't as rage-inducing as the British 183mm HESH monstrosities, but they're not a lot better. They always do damage. Also, for some fucktarded reason, the gold round does more damage than the silver round, so these vehicles end up firing all gold. You can't do much to take less damage. Sidescraping? Too bad. Hulldown in your IS-7? Ha! They are very frustrating to fight against, because they always damage you, no matter how skillful your play, and you're often reliant on RNG to damage them in return.
Sure, they get 14cm guns, but they are terrible. You can kinda make it work at tier 9, but it's miserable at tier 10. You pretty much have to use the 15cm derps, even if you don't want to. Despite their tough armor, if you use the 14cm guns, the vehicles are somewhat underpowered, especially the tier 10.
The Type 4 and 5 Heavies have similar problems. The Type 4 has more effective firepower for its tier, whereas the Type 5 has greater survivability. The tier 9 can almost use its 14cm gun, but the tier 10 cannot.
How WG Plans to Fix Them
I'd describe their efforts as being on the right track, but not going far enough. Because of some critical oversights, the changes will likely be rejected, even though they're the correct idea.
The Type 5 Heavy gets a modest mobility buff: hull traverse is improved by 3 deg/s, to 20 deg/s, and engine power is increased by 15%, to 1370hp. Reverse speed is increased a bit, to 15 km/h. It also gets a gun handling buff. Armor is unchanged on both vehicles; I agree with these changes so far.
The 15cm gun is reimagined, by reducing the alpha substantially and giving it a gold HESH round. Standard HE drops from 1100 to 900 damage, and gold HE gets massively improved pen (75mm to 192mm) and severely reduced damage (1400 to 750). Other aspects, such as accuracy, aim time, and reload time are unchanged.
The 14cm gun is improved as well, but you'd be hard-pressed to notice. Silver AP pen is improved by 3mm, to 252mm, and gold AP pen is improved by 8mm, to 290mm.
Here's the problem. First off, with the 15cm guns, alpha is being reduced by about 35% compared to the gold HE rounds, which everyone fired, without any increase in rate of fire. The guns rely on splash damage, so because of the math behind splash mechanics, the actual DPM is roughly cut in half. These vehicles already have the worst effective DPM in their tier – reducing this by over 35% completely kills them.
This gun now has less alpha and a longer reload than the O-Ho (much longer in the case of the Type 4). Sure, that HESH is a nice feature and might work well at tier 9, but at tier 10, tanks like the T110E4 and E 100 get AP and APCR/HEAT rounds that can do that 750dmg much more reliably. When compared to the Type 5, they get much better accuracy, aimtime, and a similar rate of fire.
There is no reason to use this gun, when you could use the E 100, which is a lot more accurate, gets a better HE round, and gets more useful AP and HEAT shells.
The 14cm gun is also not buffed nearly enough. Okay, cool, it now has a 4% better chance of penning a Type 5 Heavy's weakspots. Meanwhile, it has godawful DPM, poor accuracy, and struggles to pen threats like the Super Conqueror and Object 430U. When you're a dedicated brawler and you have a worse gun than the IS-4, things are looking bad.
The 15cm gun is rightfully nerfed, but it is hit much too hard because they didn't account for DPM. The 14cm gun, meanwhile, languishes at the bottom of the stack – token penetration buffs won't suddenly make it any good.
How I'd Fix Them
First, we shouldn't try giving the vehicles the same exact guns. What works at tier 9 doesn't always work at tier 10.
Type 4 Heavy
For the 14cm gun, I would buff the reload time by 0.8s, to give the tank an even 2000DPM. I'd include modest buffs to the aimtime (to 2.7s) and accuracy (to 0.41). We could give it WG's minor pen buffs as well. This gun doesn't feel too out of place at tier 9, so a little bit of love will go a long way.
For the 15cm gun, I'd do something similar to what WG proposed. It would shoot AP/HESH/HE, 130mm/172mm/85mm pen, and 750/750/950 damage. The AP is mostly useless – it's just there for overmatching purposes. HESH will be capable of penning the soft sides and rear of heavies, as well as many mediums and lighter vehicles. The 15cm derp currently has a "max splash DPM" of ~1700DPM, which I think is a tad high. Thus, I'd buff the reload time to 18.5s, to give it ~1550 splash DPM. This lets players choose between focusing on overmatching, focusing on HESH penetration, or focusing on splash damage, without any single shell being too powerful.
The tank may need some mobility buffs, but I'd start with this. Make the 14cm gun more viable, as right now it's so close to usable, and redo the 15cm gun. It's still HE-focused, but without splashing sidescraping superheavies for 500+ dmg.
Type 5 Heavy
This tank will have stiff competition with the E 100, and I'm okay with the latter having the overall better gun, but it shouldn't be a landslide.
For the 14cm gun, we need to be more ambitious than WG. The DPM could maybe use a modest buff, but the pentration buffs will be more aggressive. It would shoot AP/AP/HE, 254mm/310mm/70mm pen, and 600/600/770 damage. This will now have enough gold pen to reliably pen the superheavies it is expected to face, such as other Type 5s. The pen still isn't phenomenal, but it won't be godawful anymore.
For the 15cm gun, it will be similar to the Type 4's derp, but with a better gold round and better overall gun parameters. Firing AP/HESH/HE, it'll have 130mm/205mm/85mm pen and 750/750/950 damage.
I'd keep WG's other suggested Type 5 buffs.
The HE guns are too powerful and the AP guns are too crappy. The solution is to make the 15cm guns worse and the 14cm guns better. This is basically what WG proposed – I just go farther with my changes, by doing things like "make the 14cm guns actually good" and "account for the fact that you just slashed DPM by 35%".
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