T34-85M: The Cromwell Killer
When I first started playing in World of Tanks I knew I wanted to fight in skirmishes, and eventually move up to Tier X clan wars.
So, I carefully researched the various tanks, and decided to invest real money in a Cromwell B as my primary tank for Tier 6 Strongholds. And, for a while, this seemed like a great decision.
The Cromwell B has its drawbacks, but it was a great tank for Strongholds due to its great speed, manoeverability and high damage per minute. Many of our teams ran six Crommies and a Type 64 for vision.
But then WG provided a massive buff for the T34-85M in patch 9.17, and more recently, gave away hundreds or thousands of these tanks in a simple mission.
All of a sudden our fragile but fast Cromwells ran head on into large numbers of T-34-85M mediums, and we got our butts handed to us for two days straight.
Simply put, the 85M is the new king of the Tier 6 mediums, and while the Crommie still has its place, an all Cromwell team has little chance against an equally skilled team of 85Ms. (Check out the Quickybaby review on the buffed 85M for more insight)
First, I want to talk about the changes to the 85M, and then go into what I think you can do to beat it, especially in a skirmish.
THE BIG BUFF
The improvements to the 85M were massive, taking it from a very mediocre tank that lived in the shadow of the Rudy, to being hands down the best medium at tier.
The biggest changes involved the gun and the armour.
The T34-85M’s previously anemic firepower was buffed to an impressive DPM of 2,165.93, exactly the same as that for the Cromwell B. Penetration was also increased, and is virtually equal to the Cromwell’s at 144 vs. 145.
But the 85M has higher alpha at 180 damage per shot, it’s aim time is shorter, and the gun bloom while moving or traversing the turret is also better than the Cromwell. The Crommie does have somewhat better gun depression, but only by a single degree: -8 for the Crommie vs. -7 for the 85M.
The Cromwell is faster, but the 85M is no slouch at 53 kmh forward and 20 in reverse. Still, manoeuverability is the Crommie’s only real advantage now over the 85M.
The other major buff was to the 85M’s armour, and this is what really sets it apart.
The Rudy has 45 mm of sloped armour on the front of its hull, but the 85M got buffed to 75 mm, and the turret armour is 90 mm on the front. This tank now has pretty bouncy armour, and unless you place your shots carefully, the Cromwell’s gun is very likely to bounce with standard ammo.
In a straight up brawl, the 85M will almost always win, with better alpha, better armour, better on-the-move accuracy, and shorter aim time.
So, how good is the 85M? Amazingly, it really is virtually the same as the Tier 7 T-43.
Compare those two tanks side by side and you’ll see the 85M has higher DPM than a T-43, the same pen, the same alpha, a higher rate of fire, carries more ammo, has a better aim time, and the same or better stats for all gun handling statistics.
The 85M is also faster than its Tier 7 cousin, and it’s frontal armour is almost identical, although its armour at the side and rear is weaker.
So, basically, you have a Tier 7 tank with fewer hit points running at Tier 6.
HOW WE DEAL WITH THE 85M
The other thing we noticed with the 85M is that, due to its slower speed, it is often grouped in with heavy tanks during a Tier 6 Stronghold. The combination of the 85M’s high DPM with the higher hitpoints and brawling ability of the heavies sent our Cromwells to the garage early several times.
The old run and gun strats were no longer working, so we had to figure out what to do.
Now, we run mixed comps that often include the 85M. Cromwells are used to scout and hold tactical positions due to their speed, but the 85Ms come quickly behind, and are often the bulk of our fighting force.
We also found that mixing in heavies now makes more sense. One tank that has worked very well is the US M6 heavy, which has a great gun, fantastic gun depression, and can brawl successfully with the 85M. This often frees up our Cromwells to flank and create havoc.
A typical comp for me now is two or three M6 heavies (or similar), a Type 64 for vision, and the rest are either 85Ms or Cromwells depending on what our players have.
Our games are now lasting much longer since both we and usually the other team are much slower, and because we fight a more passive, defensive style of play, but we are also winning a lot more.
So, that’s skirmishes. In random pub matches the 85M is powerful, but not dominant. While a massed group of 85Ms can wreak havoc in a 7 on 7 skirmish, I think they’re less effective in small numbers in randoms. The lower speed and poor ground resistance of the 85M means it can be difficult to effectively flank higher tier or heavily armoured opponents. It’s still an excellent tank at tier, but the Cromwell plays a role the 85M cannot.
The Cromwell and Cromwell B are still by far the fastest mediums at Tier 6, and play a unique role in being able to flex across the battlefield and bring a lot of DPM heat on any flank. The Cromwell can also double effectively as a scout, whereas the 85M’s lack of concealment and relatively slow speed means it’s just not suited for scout duty.
While Cromwells can’t outbrawl the 85M, they can often be more useful in getting a win in a random pub match.
Stupidly, I didn’t get an 85M when they were available, thinking they were still the mediocre pseudo-Rudy they used to be before the big buff … but I’m regretting it now.
If you are looking for a great tank for training and to use in Strongholds, the 85M is in my opinion the best out there, and I’ll be buying it as soon as I see it in the store.
In the meantime, the teams I call will pack as many 85Ms as we can get for our Stronghold battles.