I just finished one of the worst games of War Robots I’ve ever played.
This one wasn’t bad in the dramatic sense. This wasn’t me getting camp-spawned by a circle jerk of trash clan clubbers, or paying the price of bad decision-making by sitting through four minutes of Spectator Mode after seeing my five-bot hangar crater.
This one was a long, slow fuse, an almost gentle circling of the drain.
One thing you can be sure of as a new member coming into an existing community is that they’re going to have their own ways of doing things.
You might feel like the world is your exploratorium, a game of Civilization on the first turn where limitless possibilities lie beyond the fog of war. Three Noricums on a Gepard? Ooh, mobile artillery, that’s always good, right?
Eventually, you come up against this thing called ‘conventional wisdom.’ As the name implies, conventional wisdom isn’t always right, but it does draw upon the experience of the collective. There’s a small community of idealists who will proclaim that any weapon or bot in the game is good if only you find the right use for it. Others will shake their head and say, “sonny, your Noricum Gepard will never be good.”
And if they follow that up with, “…and here’s why,” it doesn’t hurt to sit down and listen.
Conventional wisdom tends to look down on the poor Natasha. At first, I simply ignored that- heavy bots were well ahead of my ambition. But as I’ve moved into Low Silver and I’ve started seeing them more and more, I’m coming to understand a few things about the Natasha that draws the ire.
At first I’d assumed there was something wrong with the bot itself. Still, I wanted to keep an open mind, and not give in to adopting wholesale the preconceived notions of the War Robots community I have become a part of.
But I’ve started to come around to the idea that maybe there’s an identifiable trend amongst pilots who choose to pilot one, rather than the bot itself.
According to the in-game description, the Natasha has “high durability and low speed. Designed for long-range combat.”
Right off the bat you’ve got two reasons to play the statue. First, with a long-range configuration (she comes out of the box with two KwK’s and two Noricums), you don’t lose all of your effectiveness by a lack of agility. Compare that to a knife-fighter Gepard build which must constantly be on the move, or even an ambusher Boa who has to at least get up close and in good position to strike (often a high line in between spawn points).
Second, even if you wanted to be light on your toes, the Natasha is one of the game’s slowest bots. Effectively the slowest, since the Rhino at least can charge. And while there’s a speed buff in the works, nobody’s expecting the Natasha to harness greased lightning.
But none of this…none of this…explains the actual type of play these bots are capable of.
Because slow or not, camping or not, the expectation is that every player must do their part to win.
In the above image, the game was won, though I’d effectively been keeping the team afloat as we crossed the finish line. I’m still in a tier where a five-mech hangar is a relative rarity, so that does help mitigate empty player slots like this one, where this fellow might have been putting down roots into the soil.
Know why I snapped this pic? Because I had to run past “Killer” here to flip the damn beacon back to blue.
This was an extremely frustrating match, where it came down to two-on-two. Or, really, two-on-one, as you can deduce from the image above. To their credit, the Reds managed to mech me out, which meant it was down to Budjf here to see us through.
Instead, he hung back and just shot hot garbage at the distant Reds as they flipped beacons, then moved in for the kill. This was the first time I ever found myself rooting for the Reds, as I slipped in behind Budjf in Spectator Mode and cheered watching him learn a painful but necessary lesson in “effective range.”
I always try to remember that we were all new players once, and I sincerely hope that our friendly Natasha pilot here looked at that table and started to draw the right conclusions.
It honestly doesn’t matter what bot you’re piloting, if you’re on artillery support and there’s a Red beacon nearby- especially a tremendously inconvenient one like the one above on Springfield– how much of a damage drop-off are you going to have if you just shuffle over to flip it.
And now much more will you be aiding your team by capping?
I freely admit my knifer bias here, because that’s what I play and mainly all I’ve ever really played, in one form or another. And for the avoidance of doubt, I don’t think that long-range support is inherently useless. I’ve been picked off by enough snipers to know that the attentive ones can make a difference.
I suppose it can always be worse. Behold, our final exhibit:
This was the strangest thing. A pair of squadders who didn’t do anything the entire match. I saw KitKat in a Raijin at the start moving forward, then forgot about the pair of them until the battle brought me back to our spawn point in the city corner of Springfield.
There they were, KitKat standing still, and Primetime1976’s Stalker running in place into a pillar. I watched him for a moment, just running into the wall, and wondered if I’d come across my first bot. But why would anyone bother?
In a moment of pique, I nudged the Stalker away from the wall. Like a wind-up toy he was off and running, but I could almost swear at the last moment that he swiveled his cockpit around to get a look at me.
Some things I’ll never understand.
So that game I mentioned in the beginning of the piece, the worst game I’ve played? I was dropped in 20 seconds into the match, which is always a bad sign for me. The board was Yamantau. We were one player light, then a second player ejected a short time later and never came back.
Already down 4 to 6, I battled hard for the center beacon in my Boas. I battled hard to keep the enemy at bay on the wings. Meanwhile, I saw precious little of my teammates, who seemed to linger in the back third of the board, lobbing away. With the match half over, we seemed unable to get past beacon parity with the Reds, and I couldn’t understand why. Everything turned on who was holding the center. I looked to my left, looked to my right, then finally turned around in a circle.
That’s when I saw it.
Our beacon. Uncapped all game. A sinking feeling settled into my gut, and I genuinely debated whether or not to simply eject. I soldiered on, devouring Reds as they sent soloers up the center ramp, and was rewarded by seeing one of the most frustrating losses I’ve ever played a part in.
But for all the frustration, some of these sure make for some amusing tales.
And at least now I understand why 02 is painted on the back of the Natasha.