INTERVIEW: Catch the New Sturmtiger Line
What makes the newest German Tech Tree vehicles so exciting? Get the history and details straight from two of our developers!
Call them hard hitting. Call them experimental. Call them console exclusives.
The six new German tank destroyers in the Sturmtiger line are vehicles that tank commanders have dreamed about for years. Now, they’ve been brought to life in World of Tanks Modern Armor!
In addition to having a rich history, these TDs offer unbelievable firepower but take skill to master. What should you know before you take command of these mighty damage-dealers?
Here with all the background insights and gameplay tips you need are two of the developers who worked on the Sturmtiger line, Leo Flores and Graham Miles!
(Interview edited for clarity and length.)
Tell us a bit about yourselves and your roles on the World of Tanks Modern Armor team!
Leo Flores (LF): I’m the Lead Vehicle Designer on World of Tanks Modern Armor. I plan out and create all of the tanks that come into the game. I spend a lot of time researching historical info, designing the armor layouts, deciding how new tanks will play, and looking to the future to see what we can release.
Graham Miles (GM): I’m an Associate Game Designer. I work directly under Leo—that is, my focus is also pretty much solely on the tanks themselves. Right now, I handle a lot of the smaller data changes, but am also directly involved with the greater design and balance discussions around the vehicles. While not part of my job officially, I also directly watch player feedback to see what’s being said about our changes or additions to the game out in the wild. I’m always on the lookout for improvements to the game.
What is one thing about the Sturmtiger line of tank destroyers that you want every player to know?
LF: These tanks have some of the largest guns in the game!
GM: I think the most important thing I’d say is these are very specialized vehicles, and they get more specialized the higher up the Tech Tree you go. In the right situation, they are devastating, but they require special care and placement to get the most out of them. Map knowledge will be especially important with this new branch.
Did these vehicles exist only as blueprints, or were any of them produced and used in battle?
GM: It’s a mix. The StuIG 33 B, the Brummbär, and of course, the Sturmtiger were produced and did see combat in World War II, but the rest were blueprint vehicles.
LF: The Sturmtiger saw the least amount of action, but on those few occasions, it made a show of it with its massive gun. The StuIG 33 Bs mainly saw action in Stalingrad with some light action spread throughout the remainder of the war. However, the Brummbär saw the most action during the war by far, most notably near Russia, Poland, and France.
GM: As many know, the Germans in World War II really liked their experimental vehicles, and throughout the war, as the weapons improved and their resources began running out, they experimented with mounting all kinds of weapons onto already existing hulls, so there’s lots of historical material to draw from.
LF: Luckily, we have good historians who can get us a good deal of info. It was a little easier to make the Sturmpanzer and Sturmtiger (P), as they were partly based off of the Jagdpanther II and Ferdinand tanks, so we had a good base to start with. As for the Bär, it was a little trickier, as it was kind of taking all the previous ideas for an assault tank and turning them up to 11.
DEVELOPING AND IMPLEMENTING THE CONCEPT
What was the inspiration for this tank line? Why these tanks and why now?
GM: From my perspective, the Sturmtiger has been one of those sorts of “mythic” WoT vehicles that’s been whispered about for years now, sort of like the French super heavies. In the old, old garage, players might have even noticed way in the back, under a brown tarp, there was a Sturmtiger among the other prop vehicles in the vehicle bays. I think there might have even been a Brummbär in one of the side rooms that you could only really see with a dev cam, but I cannot remember for sure.
LF: We had a good amount of information on these vehicles and have had them requested in the past. We wanted to give players something new to try out that would be ready in time for the holidays, when players would have more time to dive in and check them out.
GM: Considering [the Sturmtiger’s] status, both from a WoT player’s and general World War II enthusiast’s point of view, and the fact that there are actually enough real designs to fill up a Tier V-X branch, it just seemed like a natural addition to the Tech Tree to me.
GAMEPLAY AND BALANCING
How do you go about making sure players find these vehicles fun to play while keeping them from being under- or over-tuned relative to their competition?
GM: These guns have some of the biggest, if not the biggest alpha tier-for-tier of every tank class in the game except for artillery. Bringing that kind of firepower to the field means these vehicles will have some substantial downsides. What’s important is managing these downsides so the vehicles are fun to play, but not overpowered, which is a pretty difficult task with extreme stats like this. We’ve been listening to Supertest feedback and making changes accordingly.
LF: Before a tank line releases, we try and go through as many playtests as we can to get each tank to where we think it feels just right. After that, it will go through Supertest to get fresh eyes on the tank so we can see if there’s anything we missed. After tanks are in the wild, we generally start tracking them the day they release. However, we don’t really get any decent information until a couple weeks out, when players start getting used to playing the tanks and learn how to defeat the tanks. We also want to make sure there aren’t any special events or other one-off surprises that might skew the data.
Some of the tanks use HE as their main ammo type while others use HEAT. What was the design philosophy here?
LF: For this, we were trying to accomplish two goals. One was to follow what the tanks historically used as their primary ammo. The second was to keep the tanks competitive. At low tiers, most tanks don’t have great shell penetration, so we didn’t want the tanks mainly firing HEAT rounds and penetrating on every shot. However, when you start getting into the high tiers, the HE damage doesn’t have the same effects it once did and now we do want to increase the piercing power.
GM: They present two ways of dealing with an enemy: HE shells have the highest possible damage, and will almost always do some damage, but sometimes less than the AP/HEAT, depending on shot placement and the armor thickness of the enemy. Conversely, the reloads on these vehicles are very long, and an AP/HEAT shell might bounce or fail to penetrate and do no damage at all, whereas even a low roll with HE is some damage. It’s up to the player to select which shell type they think will be better in a given situation.
LF: Plus, it also gave us the ability to make HE shells shine with these tanks. Unlike other tanks, Sturmpanzer tanks have much larger guns, which means their splash radius for the HE shells increases as well.
What existing tank line would you find most comparable to the Sturmtiger line?
GM: There isn’t really a whole line quite like this one—maybe the SU-152 branch in the Soviet Tech Tree—but as far as the guns go, think exaggerated versions of mid-tier howitzers, KV-2, Dreadnought, and the Soviet 152mm guns on casemate German TD hulls.
LF: I would say the Russian SU line, mainly the 152mm ML-20… just much bigger.
TIPS AND TRICKS
Any tips you’d recommend for players climbing up the Sturmtiger line?
GM: In some cases, it’s better to either reverse up a gradual incline behind your cover to deliver shots instead of trying to crest your cover to fire, if you can do so. Be careful not to expose too much of your weak roof to the enemy, however.
LF: Get used to the shell speed as soon as you can to gauge your shots better. Then try and sit back behind the main group and pick off targets when you have the chance. At the low tiers, the tanks are a lot quicker, so don’t always rely on speed to get out of bad situations as the tanks get a lot bigger and a lot slower the higher you climb the line.
GM: The Tier V and VI are more user-friendly, but as you go up the line, the gun and vehicle handling characteristics get a bit more difficult to manage. However, your alpha starts dramatically increasing as well. I probably wouldn’t recommend this line for new players, but definitely would for players looking for a unique experience, where the reward for map and game knowledge is hitting enemies with the biggest direct-fire damage in the game.
Is there a particular playstyle you found successful in playtesting that you’d recommend to players?
GM: The key to succeeding with these is positioning—they have very limited gun arcs and gun depression. At high tiers especially, they carry a similar threat to the FV215b (183), FV4005, and Jagdpanzer E 100, where just the knowledge that one of these vehicles is looking at them can cause those enemies to flee or reposition.
LF: Sit at medium range from your targets next to some cover that you can hide behind during reloads. Never go anywhere alone, as the reloads are longer than other tanks’, so you don’t want anyone sneaking up on you. If you can keep tanks from getting to your sides, you should be fine as most tanks will be trying to hide from your gun.
GM: In my experience, they succeed in two main roles. The first is supporting a push at medium-close range, especially down a corridor. When properly working together with heavies and mediums, the alpha they can deliver to key targets can make a huge difference.
The other, less obvious role is bombardment from mid- to the innermost area of what would be considered long range. While these are not sniping vehicles at all, their HE splash is quite large. Against grouped enemies in the open, or even heavy tanks hull down behind a ridge, shots that land can damage multiple enemies and still deal decent damage to heavily armored targets, potentially causing general disarray or allowing your team to get finishing hits.
For players ready to jump behind the Tier X Sturmtiger’s awesome 38cm gun of doom, what Equipment loadout would you recommend?
LF: I would say Advanced Repair System, Advanced Loader, and Advanced Gun Laying Drive.
GM: Advanced Loader is a must, like usual. Considering the vehicle’s limited firing arc and high dispersion during rotation and movement, Advanced Gun Laying Drive isn’t actually a bad choice on the Sturmtiger—it might make the difference between hitting or missing a newly spotted enemy outside your firing arc.
But in my opinion, the biggest piece of Equipment for the Sturmtiger, and for all the [tanks in this line] for that matter, is Advanced Reload. The ability to switch between HE or HEAT (or AP) without reloading your gun gives these vehicles way more utility, and you don’t have to take your gun out of the fight to switch ammo. Vents and Optics are safe choices too, but you might want to lean into the specialty of these vehicles.
Any specific Commander Skills you consider must-haves for the Tier X?
LF: I would say Rapid Loading, Steady Aim, Snap Shot, Run-n-Gun, Off-Road Driving, Clutch Braking, Situational Awareness, Firefighting, and General Mechanic.
GM: The basic four of Sixth Sense, Born Leader, Rapid Loading, and Steady Aim are just as helpful here as they are on any other vehicle. I’d say that Situational Awareness, Clutch Braking, General Mechanic, and/or Track Mechanic are good additional Skills, maybe Snap Shot if you really want to squeeze all the accuracy you can out of that gun (for situations like leading a moving target), but that’s iffy. Either way, I personally wouldn’t add any of these Skills until I had the first four on my Commander.
We’re so grateful to Leo and Graham for sharing their knowledge and advice for this devastating new line of tank destroyers.