War Robots WR Battle Stories

Battle Stories: Sympathy for the Devil

The Aphid Gepard controversy, and a change of pace with the Boa mark this week's highlights!

Ever get so overwhelmed by a messy room, that you struggle to find a point to begin with your cleaning?

I mean, it seems counterintuitive. If the room in question was so excruciatingly clean that your major concern was a single mote of dust, well, maybe finding it would be a challenge. But when you’re surrounded with mess, for many people it can actually be difficult to find where to begin- despite being surrounded with so many good options!

So it is with Gepard Diary and my stats collection. I’ve collected a lot of stats since the last update, and am itching to begin the overdue stats writeup. But so many things are in motion right now, it’s hard to find the right way to slice it. 

Some of it is me, having made some changes to my lineup. These are things I can control, so- in theory- it should be generally straightforward to bundle that data in a way that makes sense. But by the same token, the matchmaker has been going crazy with me lately, so much so that I struggle to maintain data integrity. Since tiers are behind-the-scenes, you won’t always know, not exactly, when you cross from one to the other.

So I’ll continue to chew over it and see what I come up with. But until then, there’s still plenty of ground to cover on this week’s writeup.

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So my journey’s taken a few twists lately as I try out different playstyles and bounce between tiers.

First, I embraced the Silver Tier the matchmaker had begun putting me in (see the last entry, New Year, New You for more details). I ran a Magnum Gepard, Pinata Gepard, Aphid Taran Gareth, “death button” Golem, and Taran Cossack hangar, and while I struggled a bit to find my footing in Yamantau, I enjoyed the novelty.

But then I decided I missed Bronze after all, and reset the hangar with a pair of Thunder Schutzes, an Orkan Cossack, a Taran Cossack, and a Magnum Destrier. This had all the hallmarks of slumming it back down in Bronze, but I quickly noticed things didn’t feel quite the same.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it felt like the matchmaker was somehow lining me up against more experienced opposition. The bots and weapons were the same as always, but the players were a lot more capable. I couldn’t just run at them and scatter the pigeons, like I could occasionally do back in the earlier days of Bronze when I read the prevailing winds correctly and broke morale.

This was good- longtime readers of the Diary know that I ultimately want to see a Bronze Tier with real challenge rather than fields of new players to harvest. I did this for a little, and then I came across a guide in the superb Wiki Forum about “brickfighting.”

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Brickfighting, in this context, refers to Silver Tier play with ambush/knifing Boas. I’d tried the Boa before and wasn’t impressed, mainly due to the ponderous speed, but the guide had a lot of positional advice as well. The idea sounded intriguing, so on a lark I figured I’d give it a go.

I had all the pieces I needed to make an Orkan Thunder Boa, two Taran Thunder Boas, a Zeus Boa, and a quad-Magnum Patton which the guide’s author also ran as a fifth. Not knowing what to expect but figuring all I’d invested was buying a couple Boas, I kicked things off.

Within three games, I had smashed my all-time damage record by around 25%. Within another ten games, I surpassed it again. The author, Mulahkai, was right- if you manage to situate yourself in a high-pressure chokepoint, the Boa could dish out obscene damage to the enemy.

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As always, it’s the beacon count I’m most proud of. In a BOA, no less. 
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THREE BEACONS! And some other stuff.

In one of my most memorable engagements, we spawned in Dead_city and I made my way over for Beacon C when I saw an enemy making its way straight for it. Turned out to be a Griffin, and I saw it pause, assessing me as I hid behind the nearby wall. Then- thinking it had the element of surprise, it sprang forward, exposing me (and itself) as it landed squarely on the beacon, and I absolutely roasted it.

For whatever reason, the Reds decided they didn’t just need Beacon C, they really needed it. They kept coming, and kept dying. I must have chewed through five of their bots before succumbing to my injuries, and it was exhilarating.

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Slay them all, let them come

At that moment, I knew I’d be sticking with the strat for awhile. Even Yamantau’s been a blast, as I know what my role is and I know what’s needed (capping and holding center beacon).

I’ve made an adjustment to the roster, bringing back the Aphid Gepard I’d been experimenting with as a beacon capper (more on this later). Watching my random teammates ignore beacons- a central part of my play- while being unable to do much with it in the toaster was just too much for me to bear. With about 8,500 Workshop Points at time of writing, I’m also torn between picking up a Stalker for beacon capping and general mayhem, or a Trident for a midrange Golem build I’ve seen discussed here and there. Any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

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I mentioned above that I’ve been playing around with an Aphid Gepard. I wanted to talk a little bit about this much-maligned bot, since it’s been faced with a lot of torches and pitchforks lately.

As a relatively recent convert to War Robots, I’ve missed on all the fun controversies that surely have come before the last month or so. But it’s nice to see that I’ve now been around long enough to see my second genuine flare-up of popular opinion. First it was the MagGeps, now it’s the Aphid Geps.

The first thing to note is that I’m not intending to make a full defense for the Aphid Gepard. There are some problems with the build- much like the Magnum Gepard– that are less down to weapons and more down to the problems inherent in the matchmaking system overall. But most players, when they get smoked by the coward hiding behind a wall, only see the thing that killed ’em.

At least with MagGeps, players had to engage you to kill you. Many rightly called out how overpowered the weapons were allowed to be in the lower tiers, but anyone who’s ever shot a Magnum can tell you they’re a lot less reliable than you think. When you’re getting blasted with bright yellow plasma, that incessant WHOMPWHOMPWHOMP noise drowning out your screams of frustration, it’s easy to overlook the fact that not every shot is connecting.

Magnums, especially at short range, can be difficult to connect with. They have a very fine accuracy, and if you’re not solidly on your target, that bolt is going right past. Veterans know that you need to be in a state of constant motion when up against most any opponent, and this is particularly true with Magnums. A little strut in your step, and that hit just turned into a miss.

Perhaps because you don’t even have to ever lay eyes on your target, Aphids seem to be getting it in the neck a lot worse right now. They’re weapons for chickenshits, they’re unfair, they’re too good. Even our beloved Wiki Forum seems to be inundated with Aphid-hating threads, a new take appearing about once a day. But do they live up to the hype?

Because of my experience with Magnums, I decided the best way to get to the bottom of the community outrage was to find out for myself. So I picked up a trio of Aphids, stuck ’em on a Gepard and swapped it into my Bronze hangar.

I recall quite clearly how it felt at first, like I’d unlocked some secret cheat code and was in God mode. I was running all over the battlefield, killing anyone who’d been so unwise as to let their health drop to around half or less. It was like Oprah. Death for you, and death for you, and death for you, and death for all of you!! I capered around those early maps, giddy on murder while the familiar guilt gnawed away at me. Sorry new players, I thought, I’m doing this for science!

But then I started to notice a few cracks in the game. The first were the obvious ones- in buildings with high structures like Powerplant, I had to take pains not to see my missiles crash harmlessly into the scenery. Just getting your missiles off successfully took a bit of positional skill, and I’d often lose a few on the scenery as they blossomed out towards their date with destiny.

Then there were the unkillables. I’d shoot at someone, only to see it do no damage. Ahh, I thought, lucky break for them! They must have just been passing a wall. But then I’d shoot at them again. And again. And I’d never hit, waiting all the while long seconds for my weapons to reload. Then I’d either have to get up close and personal with them, or just go find another target.

Finally, as I’d experienced with my Zeus, few things are more frustrating than lining up your shot and doing no damage. Sure with the Zeus that’s due to a glitch, but bots in motion could often escape damage from my Aphids, especially if they were going side-to-side from my angle of attack.

It quickly began to dawn on me that if you knew what you were doing, you could play around Aphids fairly easily. That guy that I tried to hit multiple times but failed? He knew how to stick to the walls and move on my reloads. The running bot I couldn’t quite manage to hit? Many paid attention to my firing and made sure they were as perpendicular as possible to avoid the damage.

This was especially true of other Gepard pilots, and not just because of the mobility of the bot. Seasoned Gep pilots had learned what I was learning, and knew how to avoid damage from the very thing they piloted game in and game out.

So in short, I’m not convinced that the Aphids are the problem, so much as the matchmaker that lets high-level weapons beat up on low-level bots. It will be interesting to see what effect the latest nerf that Pixonic confirmed today (regarding accuracy) will have.

pilot-of-the-week

Ever go up against a player you just couldn’t quite vanquish? Who always seems to be in the right place at the right time to kill you, and then seems so very untouchable when you succumb to the temptation to go after a revenge kill?

Meet Populardeadfuy.

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A mere Level 14. A could of very solid Thunder Schutzes, but Spirals on the Patton while he tries to grind out better.

Son, I’d buy you an EE Aphid if I could.

His play against me the other day was nothing short of exemplary. He knew the strengths and limitations of the Thunder Schutze and played them like a pro. I’d go after one of his teammates, and he’d round the corner blasting me to pieces that I couldn’t get away from in time. It’s very rare with five bots that I fully mech out during a game, but thanks to this guy I was left in Spectator Mode as the match wound up.

I had a solid enough game, but this kid played out of his skin.

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So hats off to Populardeadfuy, thanks for the challenge!

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