(ETA: Sorry for the wall of text. Summary at the bottom.
Ok, I'm back in for now. Taking a couple days off helped. Here are some thoughts so far - if you're getting frustrated some of this might help.
Since the patch and things seem a bit better. I don't know whether they tweaked the matching system at all in the patch, but games seem to be more evenly matched since. When playing my PIII, which I haven't turned elite yet - but it's close, I'm finding myself "top dog" in matches a lot more than before. I've only been in one game where there was a big disparity in artillery assets, and the tank match ups seem a lot more balanced. I should also mention that I spent the 2500 gold to get a month of premium. The extra XP and money earned each game is a godsend. Don't spend gold on anything until you get premium.
Basically what I did was look through my stats for each tank and picked the one I had the most success with. I'd tried light tanks, tank destroyers and tried artillery for a bit. The tank I'd had the best success with was the Panzer III. So, I sold off all of the other tanks I had and just focused on the PIII. That was good because aside from the Luchs (screw scouting, btw
), the other tank I really wanted to play was the Tiger I - so in keeping the PIII, I could get the PIV and then ultimately the Tiger I (and Tiger II).
Once I upgraded everything on the PIII, I paid the 20k per crewman to train them up to 75%. The things I'd read on the WoT forums were spot-on regarding crew training. It's like night and day when you get the crew over 80% and I imagine it'll be even better still once the crew hits 100% and you can train the secondary skills. Repair Kits also seem to be a pretty good investment.
Things were rolling along pretty well, I'd doing the initial scout thing and started hanging back to protect the artillery and tried to focus on whacking enemy scouts, then going out and helping whoever needed help or scouting for enemy arty. As mentioned earlier in the thread, the PIII is a pretty good scout tank.
I finally picked up the XP and cash to buy the PIV and shortly thereafter started getting annoyed again. The stock PIV (like many stock tanks) is a complete pile of dog crap. This is something the guys working the game should look at because it's seriously NOT FUN to go from having a completely kitted out tank with a good crew and then playing what's essentially a a slow-moving, feeble target. I've accepted that I'm going to be a speed bump in any new tank I buy until I can upgrade it and train up the crew.
All that I have left to do at this point on the PIV is get the last two gun upgrades. As it is, I've been happy with the long 7.5cm (I think.. not tier VI 7.5, the other long one :p) I'm currently using. I can actually cause some serious damage. I'm getting at least one kill per game with it, and getting good money & XP. The 10.5cm and the 7.5 squeeze bore should make it a neat tank until I can move up.
There's still some WTF moments and I still think artillery needs some adjusting. I still get hammered with alarming frequency... yes, even while on the move - even in the fairly fast & agile PIII. I don't know if these guys are masters of leading a target or what, but some of them can shoot the crap out of my ass while I'm rolling and trying to use evasive maneuvers. Another WTF moment happened yesterday in my PIV (with the Panther turret and trained crew) when a Leopard one-shot
me from the front. I hadn't taken any damage at all up to that point. I was completely
Anyway, to sum up, and for the tl;dr crew:
• Do not spend any gold until you have a month of premium.
• Upgrade everything ASAP.
• Train your crew up to 75% ASAP.
• Accept that you're going to get the crap shot out of you and suck terribly in each new tank.
• No matter how good things seem to be going, there will still be moments that make you go "WTF".
• If you get into a losing streak (or anytime the game pisses you off), shut the game off and go make a sandwich, surf arfcom or watch TV or something.