World of Tanks Free-to-Play Shooter Playtest (Part 1)

World of Tanks gets a playtest as four ageing Englishmen blitzkrieg the Russian winter looking for a good shot of vodka for Christmas.

Drained from the relentless war on Auraxis, the Old Pond Regulars decided it was time to recharge with pleasant drive in the countryside. In bloody great tanks.

It has to be said, whilst Toenailgoblin and I were both quite happy to play World of Tanks, the real foaming-at-the-mouth enthusiasm comes from both SingingBush and Bootneck. Bootneck's affection for all things military is obvious, but SingingBush is just as effusive about 20th Century mechanised engines of war. This probably explains why he obsessively drives an ageing Land Rover Defender rather than his wife's fancy Audi 9-Million spaceship.

Preparation For War

We hit our first technical hurdle before we'd even picked our vehicles - World of Tanks only allows the formation of platoons of up to three players. We'd all played previously, but never before as a quartet. In order to stick together, we needed to grapple with the concept of Tank Companies for the first time.

SingingBush was our resident World of Tanks expert and budding Rommel, so he took charge of organising things. However, before long we were all completely bemused by the lobby system. We eventually figured out that a Junior Tank Company required a total tier level [the broad definition of tank size and power] of at least 20, with individually selected tanks restricted to maximum tiers of 3 or 4. This meant that having precisely three friends didn't seem to be supported by World of Tanks, as the most tierage we could muster was 16, which was mildly irritating.

Once we'd figured out that we needed more people, Singing Bush invited a number of random folk into our Company. As soon as tanks were selected and the prerequisite tiers were met, our merry band of eight tanks trundled off to war.

We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of... Oh, I’m Dead

Our first match was the most enjoyable, in which we found ourselves facing a numerically superior force in an Assault battle on the Malinkova map. As the attacking team, this meant that the victory conditions required us to either destroy all of the enemy, or capture their flag. SingingBush ordered us all to stick together and push up, with me trailing behind as artillery. Predictably, Bootneck was one of the first into the fray and I watched from my aerial view as he played cat-and-mouse with the enemy around a farmhouse.

I provided some supporting fire (hampered by some awful lag as I was updating other games in the background) and he gave a good account of himself before he was eventually destroyed, but the engagement had allowed the rest of our forces to whittle down the enemy. As our advance through lightly forested hillsides continued, tanks fell on both sides. Then there was a lull and a quick appraisal found it to be all square with only two vehicles remaining on each side.

I was unsure what had happened to Toenailgoblin, but he later explained “having sidled up to the front line and hidden in a bush, I mysteriously exploded. I can only assume it was booby trapped shrubbery, although in fairness it was a 9x5 tank and a 3x3 bush.”

Next: World of Tanks (Part 2)


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Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.

Published Apr. 3rd 2020

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