Status Report: Swedish tree, Supertest and beyond: Messed up models and Made up stats
So as you probably know the next patch will bring the introduction of the Strv m/42-57 as the first Swedish vehicle to be added to World of tanks. Unfortunately, it seems that it will also mark the introduction of one of the most unnecessarily convoluted tech tree’s in the games history. As tanks have started to leak from the supertest it has become clear that historical accuracy was not a major concern for several vehicles. And this is in addition to a frankly botched TD line and several messed up models.
Perhaps not all of this was avoidable but as somebody who has worked on getting Sweden into the game for over 3 years, and as one of the two people who made this tree possible in the first place, I find this kind of treatment of the tree both depressing and infuriating.
The problems with the Swedish tech tree really started with the decision by WG to use the Strv 103 as a TD. I’m not going to go into great detail here, but historically the Strv 103 should be considered a main battle tank in the same sense as the centurion. Due to its unconventional combination of features, It has become one of the most misunderstood tanks of all time (something which I think contributed to WG’s detection) and I would like to recommend this article by Renhanxue if you want a greater understanding of the vehicle: http://tanks.mod16.org/2016/08/19/strid … destroyer/
The reason for this decision, as described to me was that players would not be able to understand a turretless medium tank. This was despite the fact that such vehicles already exist in the form of the M3 Lee/Grant and that there are unconventional medium tanks like the Batchat which is arguably more like a tier 10 light tank than anything else. There were also historical vehicles which could have offered more conventional alternatives like the UDES 14 Alt 9 for the TD line, and the UDES 15/16 which could have offered an alternative turreted medium tank line.
UDES 14 Alt 9
WG’s choice of vehicles for the Swedish TD line was obviously inspired by a proposal I made back in 2014 for a line focused on the Ikv series of vehicles. However, they didn’t go all the way and mixed in vehicles from my more conventional TD line proposal (destroying the chance for a 2nd TD line in the process). This in combination with the the strv 103 as the tier 10 resulted in a line which lacks the real Swedish tank destroyer projects and makes little to no chronological sense.
For an example, the Ikv 72 (tier 3) was developed in the early 50s to supplement/replace the Sav m/43, yet its a tier lower. This situation is repeated with the UDES 03 (tier 8) and Strv 103 where the UDES 03 was developed in the 70s with the intent of replacing the Strv 103.
Chronological tier 3-6 TD line
All this is to say that the structure of the TD line was poorly thought out and could have benefited immensely from having asked Renhanxue and me about it (even if the Strv 103 still had to be the tier 10 TD). However, we only found out the final composition of the line about a month before the official reveal at Gamescom, at which point it was too late to address these issues.
Model Issues and Fake stats
When tanks started leaking from the supertest it became clear that several models were wrong to varying degrees. The worst offenders were tanks like the Strv fm/21, Lago, and Strv m/40L as originally these were meant to be entirely different versions of these vehicles. Though none of them were so wrong that they wouldn’t still work in the line. The models for Emil, Leo and Kranvagn also has major issues, which is something I might address in detail in a future article provided I decide to stick around.
In game Lago compared to actual prototype
However, with the leak of the Swedish tier 8 heavy tank, a much bigger problem became apparent. While the model itself was of questionable quality the real issue was the use of completely made up stats. All of the frontal armor was increased by up to 30% over their historical values and the top speed was nerfed by 6kph.
Presumably, they did this because as WG stated in the Developer’s Panel video ( https://youtu.be/69ZM8L2BlZU?t=3844 ) wanted to give the new tanks a role which is not already covered by tanks already in the game, something I think is an admirable goal. However, when this means taking the historical stats and throwing them out the window I’m going to have a slight issue with that.
In fact, I had it confirmed that the balance department figured they could fake the stats of the Swedish heavies because only the hull of the tier 10 was actually built and because they thought nobody would/could call them out on it. By doing so they created a fake vehicle which does not represent the real project on which it was supposed to be based, even though it would have worked with its historical stats.
Real armor values for Emil 1951
Emil 1951 compared to the WG model
Other vehicles which followed the leak of the Emil were also affected by unhistorical values. Notably, the Ikv 103 not only received a fake and weaker engine (compared to the planned top engine) but also had its gun depression reduced from the historical -16° value to -12°. Compare this to how many, if not most higher tier Russian tanks have their gun depression buffed by several degrees.
Ikv 103 datasheet
It was at this point that I asked myself why I was in digging up information for WarGaming when it was going to be ignored and replaced with fake stats anyway. I then asked my contacts at WG the same thing at which point I was told there was nothing they could do. I was told a bit later however that this was a sign of things to come, which may have been confirmed with the leak of the Ikv 65 Alt 2 since (much like the ikv 103) it lacks its intended top engine. EDIT: the Ikv 90 B also has its top engine nerfed from the historical 330hp to 310hp, because Balance! (seriously though how hard would it be to balance that extra horsepower with worse ground resistances?)
Addressing the problems
On the off chance anybody from Wargaming actually, reads this I would like to offer some opinions on how to change things for the better.
First off there needs to be better communication with your historians in the future to avoid situations like the Swedish TD line. As for the line itself, its beyond repair. The Swedish tech tree was too far in development 6 months ago so I doubt anything could be done other than giving the TD line vehicles their historical stats. The structure of the medium/heavy line is good, though the choice to add a premium medium tank for this line is a bit odd. Still, the medium Line can be expanded in the future and there is a possibility for a premium heavy tank in the future.
There are several models that should be reworked, the biggest offender is the Emil, which should have its turret moved forward and changed back to its historical configuration. But the majority like the Strv m/38 and Strv fm/21 would only require minor tweaks to be fixed. As I stated before It’s possible that I will make another article addressing these.
I don’t think the original intention was to fake the stats of the Swedish tanks given that nations like Japan and Czechoslovakia had the stats of their vehicles respected. Instead, as I said earlier the fake stats are likely a result of the decision to attempt to differentiate the tanks from ones already in the game. While I think this is a good idea I also think there need to be some boundaries on what should be allowed to be changed.
If you are going to implement a line of vehicles you need to first and foremost look at their historical data and decide if that is what you really want. If the answer is no, then you should look for a line that has what you want. The real statistics of vehicles above all else should dictate how they are balanced within the game. There is no point in implementing the Swedish heavies if you are going to give them unhistorical stats unless they absolutely would not work without them. Stats like gun depression, armor profile, size, and module placement should be left alone (same as they were historical). Things like softstats, accuracy, penetration, and top speed can be used to balance the tanks. But this should still be within reason, do not drastically change the top speed or penetration from irl values. A vehicle with a power to weight ratio of 14hp/t should not be as quick as one of the same type with 20hp/t.
And finally remember that you have historians that can and should be consulted on tech tree decisions. Having to come up with stats for something at the 11th hour isn’t acceptable, especially when it’s something that shouldn’t be in the game, to begin with.
Without me and Renhanxue a Swedish tree would have been impossible, yet we had little to no input on how the tech tree was handled. To other people working on tech tree proposals, take this as a cautionary tale of what can happen when you try to get a lesser known nation added to WoT. I think that WG thinks they can get away with a lot more for a nation like Sweden since there are not enough people to call them out in case they mess something up. In any case, I’m taking a step back until things change for the better. I am still very much interested in helping, but not if my feedback isn’t going to be taken seriously. Because what is the point of spending hours gathering data if its just going to be made up in the end anyway? I don’t think a rebalance has a very high chance of happening, though, but maybe that has changed given that the head of the balance team was just replaced. I wouldn’t hold my breath for it, though.