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Our Favorite Tanks: The Chieftain, Major Rampage and Pizzastorm

We’ve talked to players from EU, we’ve talked to players from NA, and now we’re talking to players on the WGA staff about their favorite tanks. When they’re not too busy, these guys (along with the rest of us) can often be found playing at their desks.

The Chieftain likely needs no introduction. WGA’s resident military expert and real-life tanker first got excited about tanks when, as a child, he was presented with a 1/35 scale model of a Leopard 1. A stint in the Irish military, a decade volunteering at the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation and a trip to a tank museum in California to meet with World of Tanks developers later, Chieftain has officially been designated Wargaming’s "American Tank God" by company founder Victor Kislyi. Chieftain can often be found climbing in and out of tanks for his Inside the Chieftain's Hatch video series  and on his Twitch channel but he's also in the National Guard and qualified to handle both Abrams tanks and Bradley CFVs.

Major Rampage, who mostly just goes by Rampage around the office, started at WGA as a forum moderator back in 2012 and now earns his gold as a monetization specialist. He’s not in the spotlight as much now as he used to be when he was on the community team, but when he’s not working on server side event plans he can occasionally be found adding to his total of over 15,000 battles played while streaming on his Twitch channel.

Pizzastorm is the community manager for World of Tanks PC and has been playing the game for about 2.5 years. By his own admission his first few thousand battles were anything but glorious but, lots of practice and some guidance from colleagues (mostly former WGA employee 1stTanks) later, Pizza is definitely a force to be reckoned with should you encounter him on the battlefield. When he’s not playing World of Tanks, Pizza likes to sleep, collect games that he’ll never have time to play and eat pepperoni pizza with extra cheese.

Pizza-vision: Watch a match replay from Pizza's perspective.

First things first: What is your favorite tank and how long have you been playing with it?

The Chieftain: Chieftain. Silly question. Not only was it the first tank I ever drove back in the mid ‘90s, but it just looks like a tank should look. Oh, in the game…

I am a disciple of comfort. Until recently I would unhesitatingly point to the T32 heavy as my answer because it’s a good, flexible tank. More recently, however, I’ve started leaning toward the M103. Very nimble, versatile, and with a dependable gun which makes tier Xs respect you, and enough armor that it gives you a reasonable chance of survival. I’ve had the M103 since the day it was put into my garage in replacement for the old T34 heavy (which itself was an underrated tank, I believe).

Major Rampage: If you asked me this a year ago I would have told it you it was the M18 Hellcat, but since then I’ve discovered that the T67 does almost everything that I like even better at its tier level. Not only is it mobile, it also boasts a quick gun, great camo and an amazing view range. I have over 1,300 battles in my T67 and around 1,700 in my Hellcat. The crew in my T67 was originally in my Hellcat; they currently have over 2,600 battles under their belts.

Pizzastorm: There are a few tanks in the game that I absolutely love to play but my all-time favorite has to be the IS-6. It is my go-to “feel good” tank and Credit maker; I’ve played an embarrassing number of battles (around 4,500) in this beast. Something about it never gets old for me; maybe it’s the fact that it was my first premium tank ever.

Which upgrades/equipment/consumables do you roll with in this tank and why?

The Chieftain: There is only one acceptable configuration. Elite, with the M58 120mm rifle. I’m fairly unoriginal when it comes to equipment: I run vents, rammer and vertical stabilizer. My general philosophy for all tanks is to carry as much silver ammo as I’m ever likely to shoot rounds in a match, so I can do an all-silver game, to a max of two-thirds. The rest I split between premium ammo and HE. I always carry about 10-20% HE, even on my autoloader vehicles, for three reasons: 1) Sometimes doing a guaranteed small amount of damage is necessary (attacking a very weak T95 from the front or resetting a base capture, for example), 2) If there is a building between me and the enemy, a couple of HE rounds will remove that building faster (as you can tell, I don’t care about my hit rate), and 3) If I encounter a Waffentraeger or similar high-vulnerability vehicle, HE can do quite a nasty number on them.

My consumables are standard across almost all vehicles: Small repair kit, small medical kit, and an automatic fire extinguisher. The M103 in particular catches fire rarely enough that the use of the automatic extinguisher will not break the bank. I should add that I play almost exclusively in solo-random battles. As I check my crew skills, I am a lot less conventional. My first skill was Mentor for the commander, and Repair for everyone else. Second was Brothers in Arms for all. Third round includes Recon, Snap Shot, Clutch Braking, Intuition and Camo.

Major Rampage: I’m working on my fifth crew skill with this tank crew and run my T67 with camo net, Binocs, and a Medium Caliber Gun Rammer. This allows me to play as an effective sniper. My first goal is to max my camo value (Camo Net, Camo Skill, Brothers in Arms). Second goal is to deal as much damage as quickly as possible (Medium Caliber Gun Rammer, Brothers in Arms, Intuition). Third goal is to improve view range(Binocs, Recon, Situation awareness).

I have a standard consumables load out for all of my tanks: Small first aid kit, small repair kit, manual fire extinguisher.

Pizzastorm: I usually roll with a Large-Caliber Tank Gun Rammer, Improved Ventilation Class 3, and a Vertical Stabilizer mk 2.  Anything that can help me reload and get my shot off faster! I will also throw an Automatic Fire Extinguisher on any tank that I play regularly, otherwise I start jamming the wrong button to put out a fire. It also helps to have a crew working on its sixth skill!

Inside The Chieftain's Hatch: M103 (Part 1 of 3)

How would you describe your play style?

The Chieftain: Very aggressive, to the point of YOLOing. My survival rate isn’t a concern for me, and I’m quite willing to die in order to get the win, even if it’s an early death and my damage ratio sucks, my WN8 is lousy, and so on. Often, I’m too aggressive and die quickly for no gain, but when it works, it’s fantastic. It’s frequently feast-or-famine, and feast is more common. I have a couple of basic principles, which particularly work for the M103.

Firstly, the purpose of a heavy tank is not to fight heavy tanks. Rock/Paper/Scissors does not work if you throw rock against rock. It becomes an even fight. You don’t want an even fight. As a result, you will frequently find my heavies roaming around in medium territory, and the M103 is very good at this. It’s fast enough to support your own mediums by beating up the enemy’s mediums and giving the occasional enemy heavy which shows up something to concern it. It’s also got the speed to show up where unexpected and be a pseudo-medium in its own right.

I rarely take my foot off the gas, partially because I have no patience, but also because the tracks are a weapon too. With this philosophy, I’ve turned the M103 into my highest win-rate researchable heavy tank (61% after 350 battles). Although it frequently is given short shrift in favor of, say, the E-75, my perspective is that not only is M103 plenty fast enough to get me into trouble, it’s also responsive enough, with a fast-turning turret and quick-to-aim gun, that it can get me out of trouble again. The E-75 is still fast enough to get me into trouble, but it is not as good at getting me out of it. This also explains why I haven’t wasted any of my crew XP on Sixth Sense. I’m spotted. I’m always spotted. I don’t need a little light bulb to tell me I’m spotted. The few times when it might be useful are not worth the loss in capability otherwise available at all times in all games.

The purpose of a heavy tank is not to fight heavy tanks. Rock/Paper/Scissors does not work if you throw rock against rock.

A note on armor. The M103 is frequently lambasted because it does not have particularly reliable armor. If Plan A is to take 12.8cm rounds to your turret front, I suggest you find a Plan B. You may not be able to rely upon the enemy missing, but the armor is still good enough to give you a saving throw when you are hi and the turret will bounce more than you think. Plus, you can afford to lose some hitpoints. This is why my first crew skill was repair: I /will/ take damage.

Now, you will find some people with perfectly good records of their own will disagree with me entirely. They will advocate that M103 has no business being in the front lines, definitely shouldn’t be brawling, and that with a powerful, accurate cannon, it should be a second-line vehicle. There is nothing wrong with this concept, as their own records in the tank no doubt demonstrate. I am a firm believer in seizing the initiative, however, and that play style just doesn’t sit well with me, especially if the tank is one where it’s nimble enough that the alternative is viable.

Major Rampage: My T67 is a sniper/hunter. I normally try to hang back and let other tanks spot for me. I don’t always have the patience for this and tend to get over eager though, and this is why this tank works for me. With my camo and view range, I can go hunt tanks on my own and pick them off from a distance. Later in a match, the speed and agility allow me to help hunt down the last stragglers, as well as pick off any remaining artillery.

Pizzastorm: In this tank I am a brawler first and foremost! The IS-6 has decent speed, handling, armor and firepower so I like to be the first on the frontlines. Sometimes this gets me into trouble if I overextend without realizing that my team has abandoned me like a box full of puppies on the side of the road. I like to get right into the action as early and as often as possible. While I can play it safe if I must, my main goal is to push the enemy at every opportunity.

Are there any maps that you especially look forward to?

The Chieftain: It’s more a matter of maps I dislike, which are the corridor ones. I will agree with others that the M103 is not a breakthrough tank; it’s not designed to slug it out at choke points against TDs and heavies, and maps which do not so easily permit maneuver, such as Mountain Pass or Abbey, just don’t work well with it in my opinion. However, anything with rolling hills, maneuver space and long lines of sight (Steppes, for example) is appreciated as the M103 has perfectly serviceable gun depression that allows it to take greater advantage of the terrain than many of its competitors and get faster, more accurate shots off. I have also had a number of surprisingly good games on Himmelsdorf, the “nimble heavy” being able to react quickly to close-quarters appearances of enemy vehicles from any direction.

Major Rampage: Lakeville from the north side. I can get about halfway down the middle road, park behind my favorite bush, spot the tanks crossing the field to the south and start picking them off.

Pizzastorm: Throw me into maps like Himmelsdorf, Ruinberg, Seigfried Line, or Kharkov and I am a happy tanker. The gun depression on Soviet tanks can make little bumps and hills a deadly obstacle. Flat ground is a playground that allows me to make the most of the IS-6’s strong points.

Major Rampage's treasured T67

Any tips for tankers who might be climbing into your favorite tank for the first time?

The Chieftain: Hills are your friend. As you start off with a stock M103 with a 105mm cannon, you are going to find yourself being relegated to a medium-killer role from the beginning anyway, so you might as well get used to it. The 105mm is a serviceable though not fantastic cannon on the Tier VIII T32, but on a Tier IX heavy, it’s not much of a concern for many of the Tier IX and X vehicles you will find yourself facing. Don’t provide stationary targets for enemies to aim at your turret or front hull. For the purposes of flexibility, get the T122 120mm rifle at first opportunity. You’re still not going to be a huge threat to Tier Xs and many Tier IXs, but at least it gives you a fighting chance if one comes to you. Then go for the engine and start using that mobility. You have now started becoming a viable force to be reckoned with.

Your next upgrade should be the turret for the extra hitpoints and view range, but by now you should have started learning that the turret is not something you want to rely upon for stopping shots. The upgraded turret isn’t much better, so your good habits should be formed. Only then should you look at the top gun, but when you have that, your life will change.

Major Rampage: Remember that you are a sniper and you don’t have any significant armor. Once you’re spotted, make sure you use your speed to get out and find a new spot from which you can be effective. I always recommend a tactical retreat, so that you can reposition and continue to be effective.

Pizzastorm: The angles on this tank make it a hard target to pen when you position the tank correctly. I would suggest reading up on how to properly angle this tank to bounce shots and increase your effective armor. Learning to sidscrape is an absolute must if you want to squeeze some extra tears out of the enemy team as you roll over them. While the gun has great alpha damage, the penetration is a bit lacking so I always carry around APCR rounds for the harder to pen targets (E-75s, KV-4s and the like). Ask Pizzastorm to platoon with you.

Thanks for your time!

What do you think of these tanks? Are you more inclined to try any of them now than you were at the top of the page? Are there any players that you'd like to see us feature next time? Please let us know in the forums.