T-59: The Most Hated Tank

Without a doubt or exaggeration, the most hated tank in Wargaming.net‘s tank-on-tank shooter, World of Tanks (WoT) F2P MMO is currently the Premium, Chinese Tier VIII Type 59 (T-59).

There has not been a day that has gone by in the last few months without a posting on the official WoT forums calling for the removal of this tank on the Wargaming’s official forums. As well, I can attest that I have yet to have been in a game with a T-59 where someone has not whinged about its presence.

The complaints have been so numerous and the atmosphere so tense that many in the WoT community have begun to openly suggest that this F2P game has actually become a P2W (Pay-to-win) game.

What could possibly be the reason for so many people to be so upset with this one vehicle?

The Reason

The real-world T-59 was a copy/clone of the venerable Soviet T54 and became the stalwart of the Chinese armored corps and like all the other armor in this game, is lovingly detailed in WoT. But it’s roots as an enemy communist tank is not the reason why it is hated, in fact many Vietnamese and Russian players seem to hate it as much as the North American and Euro players.

Is it because it costs gold? As a Premium tank,  it is only available for real-world money. It isn’t cheap at 7500 Silver credits in-game, that’s approximately $32US, but other tanks like the Lowe, are far more expensive (12500 credits). But the cost is not really why it is hated. As well, the hatred does not come from the fact that it is a particularly good tank. There are plenty of tanks that are faster and have more lethal armament.

The main reason so many WoT tankers getting into a spitting rage when they see the T-59 is due to the fact that they perceive this vehicle to be overpowered within its battle class.  Within every “pub” game, you will see a range of tanks depending on your tank’s capabilities. That range, known as Battle Class* is shown here: Pre-Patch 7.1 battle class chart. The chart shows that the T-59 will meet tanks within Battle Class 9 and 10 and means it can go up against anything between a Tier IV light tank and a Tier IX heavy and it is true, the T-59 does seem to be treated somewhat benevolently by WoT’s Matchmaking system.

*Note that “Tier” and “Battle Class” (sometimes confusingly called Battle Tier) are separate concepts. Tier is the tank’s ranking and Battle Class is a range of Tiers that can be pitted against each other.

OP?

You see, the T-59 is supposed to be a “Medium Tank” and as such, it should be relatively effective against similar tanks.  Many armored knights driving VK3601H’s and 3001′s, or M4 Shermans assumed they should need to fear this tank, but it turns out that they have not been the only ones to tighten their sphincter at seeing one of these sleek, cat-like killing machines. You see, the T-59 appears to punch above its weight and even Heavy’s are served up as raw meat for it.

Having spent the last month going up against this tank in pubs, I too learned to respect it. My kitted-out Tier VII Heavy Tiger I  struggles mightily when facing it and my stock Tier VIII King Tiger (the Tiger II),  equally so. So yes, my initial opinion of the tank has been that it was OP and I must admit to hating it as much as any one else playing the game.

But has this hatred been justified?

The Stats

Weighing in at nearly 40 Tons, the T-59 (or the “Type” as it is unaffectionately known), sports 1300 Hit Points of defense. That’s a considerable amount of damage soaking capability. My Tiger I has 1450 HP and the Tiger II has 1500 HP as an example — both heavies.  One of the better Medium tanks I own, the Soviet T28 has only 350 HP in comparison.

The T-59′s front turret has 200mm of steel, but the sides and the back fall to 104mm and 65mm(!) respectively. The hull is another story. 100mm in front, 80mm on the side and a measly 45mm in the rear make the lower half of the Type rather feeble.

The T-59 is relatively quick and will move along at 56 km/h…well, as long as you are going down hill. It will certainly out-class the PzKpfw IV, the Tiger and is only slightly slower than the Formula 1-like M5 Stuart. It’s reasonably quick in a straight line on level terrain, but moves like a fattened cow up a hill. The engine is under-powered and therefore its acceleration from a dead-stop is woeful.

Firepower-wise, its 100mm cannon can penetrate 131-219 mm of un-sloped armor and when/if the shells penetrate, they can cause between 173-288 HP’s of damage. That’s a big wallop, but then again, it’s a Tier VIII tank. The big drawback with the 100mm is the excruciatingly slow, almost glacial, reload time that produces only 8.57 rounds/minute.

The T-59 Wolf-pack

In most pub situations, Type 59′ers like to keep to their kind and this makes most gamers think that Type 59′ers are stand-offish.

Here’s the deal: just as real-world motorcycle riders wave to one another, T-59 tankers not only spot each other in-game, they’ll actually team up. It is not surprising to see “Wolf-packs” of T-59  tanks setting off on their own to hunt unsuspecting prey. The T-59-Wolf-pack is an independent tactic that developed out of necessity and was forged out of success. Unfortunately, the T-59-only “wolf-pack” has become yet another reason for hatred.

How did the Wolf-pack develop?

  • Not too many Mediums (certainly not the Heavies) can keep up with the T-59′s and given that there is safety in numbers, it is logical that they team up.
  • T-59 drivers get a lot of abuse in game by non-paying gamers. “Wallet-warriors” is only one of many epithets that they receive from the “99%”. After receiving this abuse, game after game — even from team-mates, it is merely out of self-defense that they rally together into groups.
  • Though it’s quite damaging, the slow-firing 100mm cannon on the T-59 is a serious drawback. By teaming up, the “pack” can be extremely lethal as it can pour significant damage onto one concentrated target.

Watching a Wolf-pack in operation can be quite frightening, especially if you are the one being targeted. In a scene that reminded me of Cheetahs hunting down a lame Wildebeest on National Geographic, I remember being in a slow Tiger I when I was bounced by rampaging group of T-59′s while crossing a marsh. Let’s just say the Cheetah’s had take-out that day.

Attack!

While there are plenty of Tier V, VI and VII Medium and and Tier VII and VIII Heavy tanks complaining about the T-59, it is after all a Tier VIII tank. A Tier VIII-anything is dangerous, especially if you are only a Tier VII or less.

Much of the vitriol being spewed out over this tank seems to be aimed at those who have purchased it. The sad truth is that many bought it thinking that it truly was OP and were hoping for some major pwnage.  I think that this attitude has caused much of the damage to the tank’s reputation.

In general, the only reason to purchase a Premium tank in WoT (and this is true of the T-59) is that it will earn you lots of Silver credits.

The T-59 will net you 35k-50k Silver after a game, depending on whether you won or lost and how much damage you inflicted. Compare that to the ~5-10K credits you get for a non-Premium Medium tank. The more you deal damage in your T-59, the more the payout. Given that earning credits is the real reason for purchasing this tank, T-59 drivers are far more aggressive than typical tankers. The more they penetrate, the more they get paid. For that reason, Type-drivers typically toss caution to the wind and attack, attack, attack! Whether they win or lose…they get paid.

Though this independent, kamikaze-like mind-set irks many conservative, non-paying tankers in WoT, it is actually very effective and is a tactic based fully on team-work. You cannot say that very often in many WoT pub games as there are many more-lone wolfers than not in most random games. The T-59 actually promotes team play and that is always a good thing.

The Soft Spots

Contrary to popular opinion, the T-59 is not an uber-tank. Far from it. Having said that, it is difficult, but not impossible to beat 1v1. For that reason, it actually should spur the non-T-59 tankers to team up to defeat it.  And that’s a good thing!

For those of you that need some place to aim…there are plenty of T-59 soft-spots. I have asked the commander of my T-59 to suggest areas of weakness. Corporal Niu, take it away:

  • The ammo racks are a known weak area and have a tendency to explode if hit.
  • All the port holes are vulnerable.
  • The ingress cupolas (near the MG and especially the one on the left side on the normally invulnerable turret) are also a juicy choice.
  • The slow firing gun can be hit and knocked out. Aim just underneath the gun.
  • Hitting the fuel tanks will cause an explosion.
  • The engine can be hit from the weak hind quarters.
  • Hitting the side tracks is one way to stop the T-59 from moving, albeit temporarily.  As it is somewhat underpowered, it will take it a while to go back up to full speed, so it will be vulnerable if it has to start up from a dead-stop.

Thanks Corporal. You can check these areas for yourself in three-dimensions: T-59

On the flip side, if you have a T-59, some of these weak spots can be mitigated by:

  • Using “Wet” Ammo Racks (reduces ammo rack explosions)
  • Incorporating Enhanced Gun Laying (faster targeting) and
  • Buying the Medium Calibre Gun Ramming (10% increase in Rate of Fire) equipment.

This equipment is not cheap. In fact, kitting your tank out as recommended will cost you an additional 1.1M Silver!

As well, I can tell you that in my own experience, since the 7.0 patch, I have noticed more Ammo rack fires and the had main gun destroyed in many games. This might actually be more due to experienced tankers firing expertly; however, 7.0 did institute a change to the damage model so there a little from column A and a little from column B happening here.

Here’s an excellent video showing the weakspots:

Changes in 7.1

The uproar that the T-59 controversy has apparently forced Wargaming to change some if its aspects; however, rather than altering the tank’s parameters, they have instead elected to make modifications to their matchmaking system (MM) in the upcoming 7.1 patch. MM will now make the Type 59 face stiffer competition. The new matchmaking matrix is shown here: Proposed MM Matrix.

Naturally, this change has angered some T-59 purchasers who were more than happy to continue to prey on lower tiered tanks. Now that they have to face some Tier IX Mediums and Tier X Heavy tanks, they are realizing that their work will be cut out for them.

In the end, this seems like an acceptable solution and much better than a general nerfing which was being called for by many of the vocal T-59-haters.

What has really been exposed in the T-59 debacle is that Wargaming needs to educate its players better. Those who bought the Premiums thinking that they would get an OP tank should not have been allowed to think that. It was all the talk of “pwnage” the T-59′s were supposedly doing that caused the majority of players that were on the receiving end of its salvos to ask for this tank to be reined in. In the end, WoT’s community began to perceive (rightly or wrongly) that there was something not-quite-kosher with the T-59. Wargaming should have acted sooner on this perception.

You can see the fine line that Wargaming has to walk here. On the one hand, if they tout the tank as simply a money-earner (a Tank that will earn in-game credits that will fast-track the purchase of other tanks) many might not buy it, but if they market it as a super-weapon, people will buy it in droves but the rest of their non-paying public will become discouraged at the pay-to-win attitude and many could leave the game.

In the end, communication and education could have prevented all the hand-wringing.

Interesting link to read more about this subject:

Type 59′s OP

Type 59 Review

Update Jan 12/2012

After being beaten back by many in the Wargaming.net community, WoT’s developer has buckled and will remove the Type 59 from sale. Here is the official news as posted today:

Source

We will soon be updating the World of Tanks in-game store. As of January 16, 2012, the Type 59 premium tank will be removed from the in-game store after the server restart, which will take place at 6:00-6:30AM EST (11:00-11:30 UTC). While the tank will not be available for purchase, all existing Type 59 owners will keep their tank intact.

This decision has been made to ensure a healthy gameplay balance at higher tiers, and also to encourage a wider variety of tier 8 medium tank usage. If the Type 59 becomes available for purchase again during special events in the future, we will be sure to provide ample notice.

Again, the Type 59 will be removed from the in-game store on January 16, 2012 after the server downtime scheduled for 6:00-6:30AM EST (11:00-11:30 UTC). If you are considering purchasing the tank, we encourage you to do so before this point, as it will not be available for purchase as of January 16, 2012.