This being a diary and all, it might be wise to include some actual diary entries in with all the soapbox and opinion that’s sure to come. Starting today, I’ll give these the imaginative title of “Battle Stories,” and they’ll illustrate where I am with War Robots.
The previous post, about clubbing in Bronze, was a sobering eye-opener. For awhile, I’ve maintained the notion that if I limited my hangar to a single MagGep (despite owning two), well, then I wasn’t really part of the problem of turning Bronze Tier into a hostile and unwelcoming place for newer players. Surely all that blame must belong to the 5-hangar Gold farmers who kit out in an all-singing, all-dancing Gepard lineup of misery.
The data suggested otherwise. I was well above the average level of player, both in actual level as well as in experience/activity (“Trophies”). With four Hangar slots and the last one about 700 Gold away, I had better gear- and more of it. Playing with even one MagGep felt like clubbing.
At first I just started to select the Zeus Schutze ahead of the MagGep after my Taran Cossack clocked out. That seemed to be a fair compromise, but I found that when things went South I still had the ability to pull out the sledgehammer. There was a moment when I ran into a pack of three Reds and nuked them all, without having to worry about more than just a token level of dancing/evading, that I realized that wasn’t the answer I wanted. After all, I want challenging gameplay- and that meant the threat of losing. If I could just hit an “I WIN” button whenever I felt like it by pulling out the MagGep, then the gameplay was automatically less challenging.
Sure I’d lose the occasional thrilling, epic battle where, losing in numbers and beacons, I’d feel like a demigod by pulling out the MagGep, throwing my ragtag team on my back and singlehandedly carrying us to victory. But living for those admittedly rare moments aren’t the stuff that technically skilled players train for.
That’s when I ran into a Magnum Destrier on the battlefield. If I’d seen one before it hadn’t registered, but some random Red player was running around Dead_city in one in a recent match. I didn’t see it so much as saw (and heard) the steady stream of Magnums. At first, I thought I was up against a MagGep, maybe one with a Pinata for a third weapon since I only saw two Magnum blasts. After closing in, however, I couldn’t help but laugh as I saw the skinny little body running around with two big-boy guns. I killed it and moved on.
But after the battle, it also got me to thinking. If a Destrier could carry a pair of Magnums, while not being overpowered for cost like the Gepard…maybe I’d found my solution?
So yes… the author of Gepard Diary is currently (albeit temporarily) running a Gepard-less hangar. The Destrier has done precisely what I wanted to- nerfed my ability to club while still keeping me competitive. It’s nowhere near the machine the Gepard is, but losing the ability to run straight at a pack of enemies while mowing them down like grass has forced me to think much more tactically. I’ve already long been in that mindset with the Cossack and, to a lesser extent, the Schutze. Playing the Magnum Destrier has helped me realize just how lazy I’d gotten with the Magnum Gepard.
There’s been one other significant change in my gameplay this past week, and it’s all thanks to Pixonic’s Christmas Event. To wit, I’ve started experimenting. My set hangar is becoming a bit more fluid, and it’s yielded some promising results.
I’ve spent all of about five bucks on buying Snowflakes. I’ve see them as the scratch-off lottery tickets they are, and while I’m happy to support Pixonic, I’m not kidding myself about winning anything of value. I’ve gotten a handful of Silver-purchasable bots like a couple G.I. Pattons, a Boa, and several Golems. I’ve taken to banking my Snowflakes, then letting my kids open the treasure chests.
I’ve had one solid win: an E-Ww Trebuchet. While a complete misfit for both my Tier and my playstyle, I had to take this long-ranger camping tool on a test spin. I slapped it on my Schutze in place of the Thunder, and went into battle. The very first combat I got ambushed (and smoked) by a MagGep clubber. Oh sweet irony! But none of the subsequent handful of battles gave me any reason to want to retain its services.
For one thing, it’s slow. Instead of being an ammo counter that ticks down, it “charges up.” That means you can fire it often, for middling damage, or save it all up for one massive burst. Second, it’s tricky to aim. I missed as often as I hit, and nothing sucks the fun out like charging it up to full strength only to have it blast harmlessly into a patch of Springfield grass. That’s likely more due to the speed of the bots at Bronze, but the Trebuchet is mothballed for now.
The real prize, as it turns out, was the Golem.
I came across a discussion on the Wiki Forum about builds for a “DB Golem.” DB, or Death Button, describes a build where you aim for massive burst damage. The Golem, a Medium mech with a slot (or “hardpoint”) for one Light, Medium, and Heavy weapon, is a good shell for an early death button if you happen to have an Orkan, a Thunder, and a Pinata.
Why yes, I thought, I have those things! Sure it meant cannibalizing my Orkan Cossack, but I’ve been leading with the Taran Cossack anyway. Besides, I needed an open hangar bay for the Golem, so the second Cossack was subbed out.
I’ve played a dozen or so games with the Golem now, and it seems my hangar has nudged up a bit in the matchmaker. I’m now facing Medium bots much more commonly than I was before, so it would seem somewhere between my old hangar and new one I’ve nudged up to High Bronze. The bots are more formidable, and I’m noticing an uptick in pilot skill as well. Perfect!
As for the Golem, it’s a keeper. The damn thing’s as slow as molasses in Winter after I’ve been so accustomed to playing faster Lights, but my word once I get within 350m (and preferably 300m), I can melt just about anything I find. In an early game, I lucked into coming up broadsides on a Boa from about 200m. He clearly had his attention fixated ahead of him, for he never so much as turned the turret as his life bar went from full to empty in a matter of moments. It was then I knew that the Golem was my “next” bot to master.
It doesn’t hurt that it can take a beating, too. I mentioned above that I couldn’t charge into a pack of the enemy with the Destrier like I could with the Gepard. You always have to be careful doing this, and get a good read of the situation first, since a prepared enemy can just focus fire you to the sky. But if you catch the enemy when their attention is diverted, or some of them are injured, or they’re just not acting very cohesively, you can break their back in a stroke. The Golem has brought it back.
And if they don’t tear it down, the DB Golem can put up some grotesque numbers. Here’s a match where my collection of randoms was outplayed by their collection of randoms, but I never left the Golem after getting killed in the Cossack.
For the avoidance of doubt, that’s an extraordinary result, nothing like my normal production. Indeed, since apparently moving up a bit in the matchmaker, I’m happy to see my place on the table is much less fixed.
I’m one of those people who are just terrible with names. I won’t forget your face, but as often as not in a social situation, your name might be gone from the short-term memory banks in as little as thirty seconds after the handshake. It’s a dreadful flaw.
The same thing goes for War Robots. I spent most of my playtime these past three weeks just playing a string of games, and assuming everyone I saw in-game was someone new. I might look at the name of the pilots ingame for a moment, especially if they were part of a clan, but once the match was over it was simply time for the next one.
This past week, two people on the Wiki Forum I didn’t previously know mentioned having run into me on the battlefield, both saying very kind things. One of them even said he headhunted me, which is truly flattering.
That nudged me into paying closer attention to who I’m up against each match, and I’m going to occasionally feature remarkable play here on Gepard Diary. Our inaugural highlight is RAT1991.
Now, to be fair, he does appear to be running a clubbing setup here, with a pair of kitted-out Gepards. But it’s not the kill tally or damage output I’m recognizing, but rather the pilot skill.
Since I’ve stopped running my MagGep, I wasn’t able to engage him in a proper duel, but it’s probably one I would have lost. His command of his Aphid Gepard was exceptional, from ducking in and out or range (which let him pick off my Taran Cossack) to winning a game of merry-go-round circling an obstacle as I came after him with the Magnum Destrier. I don’t expet to win every engagement, but I do expect to avenge my own death if I send my next bot after my killer.
It’s conventional wisdom that Gepard pilots are often bad technical players, since the raw power of the Gepard ensures they don’t really have to learn trickier or more nuanced play to do well. RAT1911 combined both, and defeated me twice. I never got him, instead having to take a vicarious privilege when he finally got popped at the end of the match.
That’s it for this diary. See you on the battlefield!
And I promise, I’ll try and remember names…