Battle Stories: Welcome Back, Kotter

Tonight was not only a night of accomplishment, but a reunion of sorts as well. You see, I’ve been housing a deep, dark, and dirty secret, and I feel like the time is right to come clean about it. 

I’ll just go ahead and spit it out: I haven’t been playing War Robots in awhile.

I mean, everyone takes breaks from things they love, and there are a few good reasons for this.

  • I’ve been busy getting MECH*SPECTRUM going how I’ve long envisioned.
  • A month ago, our daughter Moira arrived prematurely, and she spent three weeks in NICU. My wife essentially lived in the hospital, which left me playing “Mr. Mom” at home for the four other little souls I’m blessed to have.
  • I’ve felt some ambivalence about the state of the game. Given all that’s going on around it, playing has felt a touch like crossing a picket line (more on this shortly).
  • I’ve been hooked on Eternal, much of which is played against the AI. That means that unlike War Robots, I can put the iPad down in the middle of a game when one of my children stubs their toe, and not see my game tank out. Even started a “side-blog” about the game.
  • Finally, and perhaps most of all, I can’t remember when I last allowed myself to play War Robots for fun. I love the By the Numbers series, but knowing I have to take meticulous notes at the end of every match sort of put the kibosh on spontaneous enjoyment of the game. Don’t worry, we haven’t seen the last of statistical analysis of opposition metrics, but I’m letting that slide for a bit.

Put it all together, and I can honestly say that I’ve missed out on a lot. I mean, the entire reason I bought both my iPad and an Android tablet was for War Robots, and I’ve watched a lot more Breaking Bad on the iPad than I’ve played War Robots in the past couple of months- and I’m only on Season Two.

Bear with me here, there’s a point to all of this, I promise.

For one thing, I’m still a moderator over at the Wiki Forum, I still connect with my acquaintances at Pixonic, and I still follow the game very closely. I just don’t play it much. For instance, I’ve never played a single Beacon Rush game. Not one.

But recently, I made a decision that I wasn’t going to worry about data collection. I wasn’t going to worry about the Sturm und Drang of the problems Pixonic and the community are having right now. I wasn’t going to worry about anything except for reconnecting with a game I’ve had countless hours of enjoyment with.

So tonight, I held the baby and played some Eternal. Then I played more Eternal. I’ve come across a superbly competitive list on Reddit (Fire/Primal aggro that sneaks in a touch of Shadow with Lurking Sanguar… so good!), and it’s been working wonders. For the first time ever, I cracked Gold II (funnily enough, the league structure is very similar to War Robots). Not only did I not stop there, I piloted it all the way into Diamond III!

By this point, Moira and Ruari were both asleep, as was the wife, so I alighted to the dining room, cracked open a bottle of Elysian Space Dust (also so good), and fired up War Robots on the iPad.

Don’t worry, we’re almost to the payoff.

Now, I’ve been blessed with a pretty sweet hangar, in terms of the gear. Because of my philosophy of testing different builds, however, I’ve never leveled my gear particularly high. I have a lot of gear that’s leveled, as opposed to a narrow focus on the most competitive stuff. The triumph of breadth over depth.

Having not logged in in awhile, I looked over the seven special deals that were awaiting me. I bought two of them (the Gold drone, and some Silver) and dismissed the rest.

Has it really been so long?
 I could write an entire article about what is wrong with this picture…

Then I tinkered with my hangar a bit before going to battle, settling on this configuration:

Spoiler alert! 

The first map was Moon, and I led with the Ember/Orkan Inquisitor. I skirmished over the leftmost beacon, captured it, then advanced on the enemy. I fell to coordinated fire but was able to push our line forward thanks to descend. I respawned in a Haechi, doing some serious work in the underpass, before closing the game out with a Taran Bulgasari to hold a contested beacon.

Returner’s luck?

I was surprised to see myself so far ahead of the pack, since I spent a good portion of the game shaking off the rust. But hey, I did some heavy lifting in the underpass, dashing out to drop three Orkan-loads before dashing back to cover. That probably pushed my numbers up…right?

At that point, I figured I might turn in, but for whatever reason I decided instead to treat myself. One more Space Dust, one more game!

This time, we spawned in Shenzhen– my favorite map. I dropped into the Inquisitor again, and went for center beacon after seeing it uncontested with the hope that my stealth mode might give me some advantage. Taking it, I moved forward to claim their home beacon, notching a couple kills as I did so.

Once I fell, I respawned in the Orkan Haechi, and retook one of our beacons that the enemy had grabbed. Oh, and I melted the enemy that had so dared, as well. We were behind, but the game was still well in play. I flanked the center courtyard, slagging another two enemies with a steady drizzle of Orkanfire as they tried to advance on center beacon.

When I finally succumbed to hostile pressure, I respawned in my Scourge Kumiho, hoping to rely upon its superior speed and maneuverability to recapture some lost beacons and keep us in the fight. When the match ended, I was pretty sure we had won, but was more focused on the enemy than our progress.

That’s when I saw this:

Pinch me…

I have aimed to join the “Millionaire Club” for quite some time now, and have always fallen short. I have had games where I played out of my skin, almost single-handedly willing our team to victory with a dominating Thundorkan Lance performance at center beacon on Yamantau. Carrying my pick-up group to victory on Canyon with a Zeus Fury melting everything in sight. And for all that, I never broke a million in damage.

But put the game down for awhile before jumping back in with a mediocre-leveled hangar of bots I’m not familiar with and I break it on the second go.

If you’d asked me after the second game how I did, I’d have put myself in the 600k range. “I came out on top of a couple tilts, but I have a ways to go before I’m comfortable with all this new gear.”

If you’d asked me a few months ago how I’d break a million in damage, I’d have said it would be with a game-in-a-thousand with exceptional performances behind the Thundorkan Lancelot and a Plasmahad. A real red-letter day, an extraordinary accomplishment after playing at the top of my skills and abilities.

If you’d said no, that I’d break my first mil with brand-new bots and weapons after taking an extended break from the game, I’d have laughed and rolled my eyes.

But there it is.

Look, I work in data for a living. I’m familiar with the concepts of black swans and outliers. I’m not going to take this anecdotal situation as my hill to die on.

But if you were to ask me, I’d say that something’s off. These bots aren’t balanced. This isn’t a fluke, but rather an indication of a competitive imbalance. And that it needed to be fixed.

When I made Diamond III in Eternal this evening, I was delighted. Hard work paid off.

But getting into the Million Damage Club in War Robots… I didn’t earn this. This wasn’t the product of hard work, perseverance, and a dash of luck. I know because I’ve wanted that mil for awhile now, have worked my ass off to get it…only to fall short time and again.

This was me, logging in cadaver-cold to a hangar of the newest bots in the game, having a mediocre day at the office…and still managing the best statistical performance of my War Robots career.

Maybe this is a fluke, an outlier, “anecdotal evidence” which is only a hair’s-breadth removed from no evidence at all.

Or maybe the new War Robots gear really is that imbalanced.

Your call. I know mine.



14 thoughts on “Battle Stories: Welcome Back, Kotter

  1. Congratulations on the new arrival, good to hear that everyone is OK,,

    But wait a min , you haven’t played in a while and you drop in an Inquisitor and a Dash Bot ????? Where these Baby Shower presents from Pixonic or have you joined the Pay to Win gang in a more serious way ?

    Either way glad you enjoyed using your OP bots , it’s more fun when you are winning in Games or football 🙂


  2. Congratulations on the offspring.
    Seeing a gent like yourself get those offers for “not playing”………hmm I’m gonna just stop right there in case I burst a blood vessel

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A well written piece sir. Yes, the stories of the deals on offer for lapsed players, and the ease at which new bot owners accumulate damage and wins must feel empty at times when compared to the challenges and struggles of levelling up gear over months. Whilst clearly financially successful, the current WR mother ship is messy and now disenchanting for the most part. The problem is that I want it to reform, but in my heart, only expect it to fall out of orbit with us all sitting tightly aboard.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well… The Dash series and inquisitor are some of the newest brand, and most advanced, so I guess that they deserve to get that edge over all the other bots. It’s like me in Springfield scoring 800k damage while only sitting at the farm and fire at whatever moves. Although that if these overpowered bots can only be acqured by luck could make the system better.


  5. First, I also have five kids and what it does to your life. I also had one in the NICU once, but it was just for precautionary and we had him out within three days. So that you’re here at all and getting your free time back together is already a tremendous accomplishment. You go, man!

    Second … I’m mostly green at those bots in your hangar. I’m expecting they’re Pixo’s gift for your honest reviews on them, and your honest reviews are about on par with what everyone said on the Test Server: These bots are overpowered, and need a nerf. Pix didn’t listen to them then, and released them live … I’m seeing a common denominator with this, as they did the same with the Ember despite it going through half a dozen Test Server iterations.

    I do applaude your choice to keep your gear at/around the 8-10 range, though. I find that is a sweet spot in the game where you don’t get seal-clubbed too much unless you squad (and thus Champion-hunt).

    The Million club … welcome to it, regardless of how it was earned. Usually you require special circumstances to hit it, anyway, like a high-HP bot choosing to ignore you and prioritize another target. MY only million was due to a Raijin getting stuck and allowing me to take it from full health down to zero … well, along with a near-spawn raid where a Blue and I took out a guy’s entire hangar as he tried to get his home beacon back without help from the rest of the team.


  6. how did you get offers for the whole robots??? everyone I have talked too only got component offers. Maybe the game knows you pay money and was giving you the chance to? i dont even know…


  7. Yeah the new stuff is all so crazy. Its not as overpowered as some people say, but it is really good. Honestly, I could probably do 1.5 mil dmg with a 5 shocktrain Haechi mk2 hangar, first try. All of this new gear combined gives players such an insane advantage. It doesnt remove skill from the game, but it does put gear ahead of skill. Maybe that will change as more players get access to better stuff and the newer things get nerfed


  8. It is better to play World of Warships Blitz, you can also play in PC World of Warships, the same dynamics that is in relation to PvP. And the best has a fair payment without the greed of Pixonic


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