I’ve never been a small guy. At a touch over 6’1″ and 265 pounds, I’ve long felt lucky that the genetic gift of Celtic peasant stock I’ve been blessed with has allowed me to distribute that weight in a way that flatters the vanity a touch. In other words, I look stocky and imposing, not soft and flabby.
A few years ago, my family flew out to Paris to visit my sister, who was living there as an international lawyer. The average height in France amongst males is 5’9″, and our sister’s two fully-bearded giants were apparently the talk of the water cooler after we bumped into one of her coworkers on the street. We became known as Les Highlanders, much to our shared amusement.
If you’ve gotten this far and are wondering what this has to do with War Robots, the answer is everything.
Size has had its advantages. But now firmly in middle age with four young children, I’ve had to be increasingly honest about its drawbacks as well. I may rock a Fitbit to the tune of 10,000 steps a day, but there’s another number I’ve had to be increasingly mindful of, which is on the scale.
At the beginning of this year, my mother challenged me to a weight loss competition of sorts. She would pay me $10 for every pound lost, while her weight loss would accrue my time and services for household handyman work. While I’ve knocked back similar schemes in the past, I’ve decided to humor her. In the wisdom of age, I realize that while I’d be more than happy to do anything she needed around the house with a smile, never approaching the years of toil and sacrifice she endured for us children, this gives her a way to avoid feeling guilty about “imposing” on me. A win-win.
The idea is that the money I earn would be money I’d spend on myself for “treats.” As the pater familias of a large family, that sort of guilt-free disposable income doesn’t come around all that often.
I’ve lost seven pounds. As a consequence, I have a couple of new additions to my roster.
I was really intrigued by the Wild Bunch during the Christmas Event, but like many I wrongly assumed that they’d be available for Gold shortly after the Event’s conclusion. When they came around again for the Lunar New Year Event, there was no way I was going to let them go again.
I quickly discovered the practice of “coin swapping,” where you and a clanmate gift each other coins rather than just buying them outright. The advantage of doing so is that you get a 20% coin bonus as well as three days of Premium. That added “bonus” gave me the ability to nick a Jesse in addition to the Doc. The Jesse was the one I’d wanted originally (I love the Lights), but with the new matchmaker implementation the Doc made a lot more sense as a primary acquisition target.
Getting both was a bonus. I’ve left the Jesse on the bench- I can only level up one at a time and all my attention right now is on the Doc– but I eventually will want to test him out as an Aphid platform. But for now, Tulumbas Doc is my second pick off the bench each match after the Thundorkan Boa.
First impressions? I haven’t had this much fun with a new bot since the Galahad, which was probably the most fun out of the gate since I discovered the Gepard. Some bots I’ve come to love after playing awhile, like the Cossack and Boa, but the Doc has been love at first play. I haven’t generally enjoyed midrange play- I run a “Russian Death Button” (Tulumbas and Pins) Griffin as a matter of tactical necessity, not enjoyment. But the Doc has that burst damage potential that I’ve loved since the Pinata Gepard.
I’m reminded of a recent match I had on Shenzhen, where I set up shop in the entryway to the courtyard under the Shenzhen Civic Center (the building with the wavy roof, at Beacon B). It was a perfect killing ground, overlooking one of the most contentious parts of the map while giving me abundant cover. I’d move into range, unload both payloads of Tulumbas with their 500m range, then tuck back around the corner to wait for my cooldowns to expire and do it all over again.
Mileage has varied- not every match has been that successful. The Doc isn’t especially nimble or hardy, at least not at lower levels. But I’m having so much fun fielding it that the results are secondary.
Well, almost secondary.
As recently as a few days ago, I’d sunk down to a 38% win rate. This was a bit concerning. I wrote last week that the matchmaker had stabilized for me, that I was seeing matches that were within what I thought were reasonable variances from my own abilities. I wasn’t a factor in every match, nor did I find Gold every time I played, but I usually felt that I was able to contribute and that the odds weren’t overwhelmingly against me.
With that in mind, 38% was a cause for concern. If it wasn’t the matchmaker, that left only one unpleasant conclusion: it was me.
Surely I wasn’t that bad of a player…right?
I gamely focused on leveling up my bots, while ruthlessly adjusting my hangar. It seems to have paid off, as I’m now sporting a win rate at 58-60%. I’d like to be able to credit the Doc, but I know it has to be much deeper than that- we’re talking the average of fifty matches here. As best I can tell, the “reasonable variance” of the matchmaker has become even tighter, and the blowout losses fewer and farther between.
And when I lose? I’ve come to find that I mind it less, knowing that the next match will be a little easier as a result.
There has been some turnover on the active bench this week, as I’ve tried a few different strategies to combat the 38% win rate malaise.
Thundorkan Boa – I’m still using this as my opener, and as long as I manage to kill two of the enemy before dying, I’ll call it a success. I’ve leveled the Boa up to Level 7, on par with its Thunder. The Orkan’s been upgraded to Level 8. It’s not doing quite the damage I’d like, but it still manages to get the enemy’s attention- especially when I find inconvenient places to set up shop (the “brickfighting” doctrine).
Plasmahad – The Galahad hasn’t left the bench since I bought it. It’s now a Level 7, with a Level 7 Taran and twin Level 6 Magnums. It’s probably overdue for some weapon upgrades, but I’ve been jamming them nonstop and it’s hard to find the room when so many upgrades take more than a day.
RDB Griffin – Strictly a tactical decision. I don’t like playing these- and I like facing them even less. They’re murder on the poor Boa.
Magnum Stalker – I wrote last week how I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the Stalker, but I’ve opted to bring him back even as a perfectly good Gareth rides the pine. I’ve found them to be very annoying in the hands of skilled pilots, so I’ve seen the potential I’d like to aspire to. And the most annoying has been the Magnum loadout. I’ve commented on how that build- easily the most common- doesn’t seem to be optimal for the aim of the Stalker. But I’ve come to realize that I’ve been overrating the Stalker as a beacon capper, and underrating it as a harasser. Aphid Stalkers don’t frustrate me anywhere near what the Magnum builds do.
Aphid Leo – I tried this last week, with a Thunder before shifting to the Zeus. In all cases, the slow pace of the bot combined with the Aphid loadout just didn’t carry enough force projection onto the battlefield. I ended up benching it in favor of the…
Brawler Natasha– This Thunder/Magnum configuration was a rogue build and I knew it was, but I wanted to see what the bot was capable of. This loadout was absolutely brutal up-close, but given the glacial pace of the Natasha it was hard to get within lethal range. I often found that by the time I got within killing distance, I’d already been significantly worn down thanks to a lack of speed and agility. A 1:1 trade just doesn’t cut it.
A few final notes worth mentioning. Longtime readers will know that I’m an active member of the Wiki Forum community, and I’ve gained a tremendous amount of insight about this game from the content there.
I’ve had two significant developments come out of my involvement there. First, I was asked to become a moderator there, and was happy to accept. The last time I was moderator of a message board was some fifteen years ago or so, and I figure if I can moderate Celtic and Rangers fans slagging one another, then War Robots will be a snap!
Second, I finally joined a clan. I’ve been happy to go it alone, but was always intrigued by the Wiki clan (or, in my case, Wik2, the “feeder” clan). Their prohibition on Bronze-tier play always disqualified me, which I understood (they wanted to avoid the appearance of clubbing), but when the Tiers went away so did that disqualification.
My pilots of the week go to everyone I was on the same team with for this recent victory. One of the consequences of the new matchmaker system is that I have a much higher occurrence of what I call “epic matches.” These are matches that have a lot of back and forth shifts in momentum, and the outcome isn’t certain until the end of the match.
In this case, I meched out early, but the team fought on against the odds. I expected a loss- we were behind in both players and the dominance bar, but Ash and WLove5 bravely battled back to hold out for the win. I was literally cheering them on in my seat in Spectator Mode, and happy to have been able to contribute even if the kills/beacons didn’t go my way on this one. A tip of the hat to each of you, this was a match worth remembering!
That’s it for this week. I’ve updated less this week as I’ve got a project for the site I’ve been working on. Details soon!