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What is the best premium tank in World of Tanks?

Published: 21:50, 30 September 2019
Updated: 10:00, 01 October 2019
Chinese tank destroyer in the desert in World of Tanks
World of Tanks: Chinese Tank Destroyer WZ-120-1G FT

There are a lot of Premium vehicles available in World of Tanks. If you believe Wargaming they're all good. But they aren't. There's some stinkers, some are just adequate, and some will consistently return a credit profit for even players of standard ability.

In theory, World of Tanks is defined by the gameplay and vehicles at the maximum tier of X. There's little debate that this is the most challenging tier to play at, and any WoT player who would like to claim some genuine skill at the game can't really do so without proficiency at tier X.

However, that's far from the whole story - tier VIII is where much of the action is in the game and it is here that Wargaming in recent years has really concentrated its monetization efforts with the introduction of a hefty number of Premium vehicles.

Some would argue that too many premium vehicles have been introduced - at a time when major balance issues exist in a sizable number of tech tree vehicles. Of course, premium vehicles have contributed to this "power creep" and many of them are now flat out better than the tech tree counterparts.

However you may feel about this,  the fact is that premium vehicles and premium ammunition don't win games. Good play does. Yet to make WoT a viable game, a premium vehicle with the enhanced credit-making potential they bring is simply a requirement for the average player. Not to mention the crew training benefits they can have, depending on their compatibility with other standard vehicles of the same nation and class. 

So which is the best vehicle for players on PC to buy at the time of writing - Autumn 2019?

Italian medium tank Progetto 46 World of Tanks: Progetto M35 mod. 46

Criteria and candidates

Let's set out our criteria for choosing a vehicle with credit making potential:

  • Damage Per Minute
  • Penetration
  • Cost Per Standard Shell
  • Shell velocity
  • Vehicle Type/Utility
  • Relevance when bottom tier
  • Easy of use for average players 
  • Fun

At the time of writing, the candidates are as follows:

  • Centurion 5/1
  • SU-130PM
  • WZ-120-1G FT 
  • IS3A
  • T26E5/Patriot
  • Object 252U/Defender
  • Progetto  M35 mod. 46
  • Lorraine 40T
  • Strv S1
  • Löwe 
  • T-44-100
  • T-54 First Prototype
  • T34
  • M4A1 Revalorisé
  • Caernarvon AX
  • Skorpion/Skorpion G

We're omitted a bunch of Tier VIII premium vehicles. The IS6 for instance - it has preferential matchmaking for a start - it will only see tier IX fights at the maximum. Secondly, it's crap. We note Wargaming EU have changed their sales text for it in the recent past. Previously it was being sold as a God of the Battlefield, now the sales blurb is somewhat more realistic. Low penetration on standard ammunition, poor manoeuvrability - the only thing is has going for it is trollish armour, with those strange angles.

Or the 8.8 cm Pak 43 Jagdtiger. When it was first introduced, it was a fairly powerful vehicle, with high DPM. However, it the current meta it's just too slow, the penetration is low compared to other TDs such as the Skorpion. It lacks the element of surprise damage essential for a redline sniper - but doesn't have the protection or agility to duke it out near the front either.

Wargaming T-55 Mod 1 in World of Tanks T-55 Mod 1 in World of Tanks

We could go on this in vein - the STG for example - with its specialised medium tank sniper role, in the hands of anything but a good player it's not an asset to any team.

Note we say "good player". Any premium vehicle can perform in the right hands. Even an average or statistically poor player can discover an unlikely vehicle that works for them. By and large though, we've discounted a lot of vehicles from our consideration for a whole of host of the above reasons.

We're looking at vehicles that generally perform well across a variety of maps and in a number of different situations - and for this same reason we've ignored Light Tanks and the EBR 75 (FL10) Armoured Car - their role is a particular one. We've also taken in account the huge spread of player skill levels - so we're not recommending anything that needs super skill to master. However, we're not forgetting that people are supposed to have fun playing World of Tanks.

Soviet medium tank T-44-100 World of Tanks: T-44-100 Russian premium medium tank

The problem of data

With the seemingly permanent demise of the excellent vBAddict website, hard stats on tank performance across the playerbase are impossible to find. Even vBAddict data was skewed by the kind of players than uploaded their data to it - for instance Quickbaby's 2018 guide to premium vehicles based on vBAddict data had the Type 59 at number one spot for credits. As he observed, that was due to good players returning to a recently buffed tank they hadn't played for some time.

Wargaming simply won't release such data - why would they? They are a business. The "Buy" webpage for the AMX CDC should simply be a giant Screaming Face emoji. Instead, according to WG it moves "fast like a cheetah"  and has a "fearsome" 90mm gun. They don't mention it's made of papier-mâché and being the size of small barn, that it is mainly a great credit maker for artillery players on the enemy team.

Medium tanks

We've got five candidates here:

  • M4A1 Revalorisé
  • T-54 First Prototype
  • T-44-100
  • Lorraine 40T
  • Progetto  M35 mod. 46
  • Centurion 5/1

From these, the winner is the Progetto  M35 mod. 46. Why? Well it's not the utility as a crew trainer - given the limited size of the Italian tech tree there aren't many options - even though the Standard B at tier IX is a bit of a wonderful medium monster, it's still only one tank.

No, it's the fact the Progetto is an excellent all-round vehicle. It moves well and quickly, that wonderful three-round auto-reloading gun means you have options - unload the clip - or use one or two shots. World of Tanks is a game than in its core essence revolves around the ability to trade damage with your enemies successfully in your favour. The Progetto gives you options to trade in a way that a conventional auto-loader doesn't.

It even bounces a few shots off the sexy curvy frontal turret armour, even if it's a little artillery susceptible. 

There's another factor here, given our central criteria is the ability to make credits. With the combined flexibility of speed, manoeuvrability and firepower it has, it's one of the two vehicles that dominate the periodic Front Line game mode and Front Line makes muchos creditos - love it or hate it.

With an acceptable 212mm of penetration on the standard AP round, and shell velocity of 929 metres/sec, the gun has good aim time and dispersion. A full clip deals on average 720 damage in four seconds. And unlike most standard autoloaders - the loading system means the temptation to squeeze out an entire clip and get wrecked in the process, is well, less of a temptation. 

Again, we can't stress enough - the Progetto gives you options as a vehicle at any given stage of a fight. If you master it, its ability to appear in inconvenient places for the enemy is wonderful.

The others

Our personal favourite is the T-44-100. It's got Russian Bias going for it straight away. Russian Bias being defined in the AltChar Official English Dictionary as: "The ability of any Russian vehicle in the MMO World of Tanks to have abilities that seem in excess of its publicly known specifications." The gun handling is outstanding, speed and  manoeuvrability good, the turret armour will bounce a fair bit of damage, and it acts as a good crew trainer for the Russian "hover mediums" at tiers IX and X. The standard shell cost is low at 252 credits each. It's somewhat less forgiving than some of the other premium mediums though - you can get into trouble it's not easy to get out of.

The  T-54 mod. 1 (T-54 First Prototype) is the most forgiving of all the list above. It shines most strongly when it's top tier - the frontal armour is not a joke and the low profile is a strong plus point. The gun handling isn't brilliant, and it is fairly slow for a med - but that means a less experienced player can't get into a bad situation so easily. It essentially does most things pretty well, and if you're unsure about your playstyle, or are still learning the game, it's a good choice. Easily the most noob-friendly in the medium section and it really shines in an all tier VIII fight.

Autoloading French tank Lorraine 40T World of Tanks: Lorraine 40T French medium tank

As a sniper, the M4A1 Revalorisé is strong. The shell velocity on the standard round is a laser-like 1460 metres/second and the cost of a standard round (580 credits) is stunningly low, given decent 390 alpha damage. If you get spotted in a vulnerable position though, you're likely tank toast - it's not fast. If you're patient, and don't mind morons clicking at you on the map for not playing as a tank, it will earn credits hand over fist. If you like brawling though, an 11 second reload and tier V hull is going to see you back in the garage faster than you can say "this game is pay to win".

The Lorraine 40T is somewhat of a rival to the Progetto. It does have good speed and manoeuvrability plus a strong 232mm of standard penetration - and that full clip potential of 1,200 damage in under eight seconds is good. However, it's a French autoloader - so you'll always seem to bounce one of those four rounds, its also taller than the Progetto, which we don't like. Finally, that four round clip is a 36 second reload, which means it just doesn't have the utility of its Italian rival. On the upside, it is a good trainer for the powerful autoloading French meds at tiers IX and X. One for the more skilled players who know when to put that clip to its best use and then GTFO.

Lastly, the Centurion 5/1. We like this medium - and it fits into a role none of the others do -  good gun depression coupled with brilliant turret armour means it makes for a powerful ridgeline warrior. The gun handling is good, and in the hands of a player who understands its strengths it's a formidable medium tank with good DPM. On the downside, it's a little sluggish - so not as able to flex to different flanks as some of the other mediums in this list. It also trains for the British medium line of course, and that line is really loved by some players. We also think it's best looking tank out of the mediums here.

Australian Centurion medium tank in WoT World of Tanks: Centurion 5/1 RAAC medium tank

Heavy Tanks

The line up here is as follows:

  • T26E5/Patriot
  • Object 252U/Defender
  • IS-3A
  • Löwe 
  • T34
  • Caernarvon AX

This is probably the most controversial category. The vehicle most players seem to salivate over is the Object 252U/Defender. Questions as to when its coming for sale next are always somewhere recent on the official forums.

Well, here's the news people - we'd rather take the Löwe.

German premium tank Löwe in WoT World of Tanks: Löwe German heavy tank

Why? We're looking at the ability to make credits - and we believe the Löwe is a better all-round heavy. Sure, it hasn't got the Stalinium armour of the Defender - but what it does have is an excellent strong turret with the gun depression to use it on ridges, and it's an accurate and reliable 105mm gun with good for class penetration of 234mm. The Defender's gun is trash, even with that big 440 alpha damage. The Löwe consistently fires shots that hit. It can snipe at range, but, using that turret armour, it can get in close when needed. It's biggest downside is speed and manoeuvrability. It's not Mauerbrecher bad, but it turns like an oil tanker in a storm. Play it wisely though - and it can find a useful position on most maps. In theory its damage per minute is quite low - but it will hit those shots more consistently than most. And consistency is the game of the Löwe.

The others

Our next recommendation is the Caernarvon AX. Why? Because of the amazing damage per minute, gun handling gun depression and turret armour. It has far and away the highest DPM of the above group at a standard 2,439. And that DPM is usable at 11 rounds per minute. It's a heavy that you can afford to take a shot to track an enemy tank with - knowing that the DPM is so high, you can track them again if they repair, or pour damage into them if they don't. It's not quick - but then what proper heavy is. It can't brawl so well of course with weak-ish hull armour, but that DPM. That DPM. If the baseline for a simply adequate game is your own HP in damage and one kill, then you've got to be on meth not to do at least that with a Caernarvon AX.  Plus it crew trains for the Super Conqueror.

British tier VIII reward tank Caernarvon AX World of Tanks: Caernarvon AX British premium heavy tank

Constructed of the purest refined Stalinium, the Defender has an "oh s**t" factor for many WoT players facing it. It's a little overrated in our opinion, but as a pure close range wrecking ball of a premium heavy tank, it's hard to see past it. With the usual Russian "pike nose" armour layout, the sloping cheeks on the front make for awkward angles to shoot at. The "frying pan" turret has all the amazing deflection abilities you expect from Russian steel. It also bounces some unlikely shots into its sides, with an armour layout that can confuse the inexperienced player. That 440 alpha damage from the 122mm gun is big too. In our experience this tank suffers from the "I win" attitude some Defender players have - that armour won't save you if you overreach massively. And the gun, well it seems to have been made on a Friday afternoon at the Kirov factory and misses quite a lot.

The T26E5/Patriot is an odd one out in this list. More accurately described as a "heavium", the Patriot is far an away the most manoeuvrable vehicle in the premium heavy category. Like the Caernarvon AX, the turret armour is good, aim time fast, DPM high, with lowish alpha damage. Where it differs from the Caernarvon is in stats such as traverse speed - this tank can react to changing situations. The gun accuracy doesn't look amazing on paper, yet it seems to consistently hit its shots. So in short, the Patriot requires a slightly different mind set from a standard heavy, if you grasp that, it will make credits for you.

The ultimate tier VIII "heavium" - T26E5 World of Tanks: T26E5/Patriot US heavy tank

Veteran players will remember the T34 as one of the first premium tanks in the game. So given the power creep we've seen since then, why does it make this list? Because out of the "always purchasable" premiums, it's still pretty strong. The penetration on a standard round is high - 248mm. The alpha damage is good at 400. The rate of fire is abysmal, and the speed and manoeuvrability aren't good. But it has a strong, strong turret and good gun depression. In some ways, as noted with a few other tanks, its lack of mobility can be an plus for the less experienced player - you simply can't push into trouble at the start of a game. Like the Defender, it has a slow aim time - but unlike the Defender, it's pretty accurate.

Auto-reloading guns always grab our attention. So the IS-3A makes the list. Let's deal with the downside of it first - you'll be at the mercy of the gun. With the highest dispersion in this group, it can miss a lot. But never fear, due to the Soviet miracle reverse auto-reloading 122mm. Unlike the Progetto - the more rounds you fire from the clip, the quicker it reloads. It's essentially an IS-3 with slightly lower standard penetration and less agility. Despite fears upon its introduction that it would be overpowered, it isn't really - however, it's a solid choice for a premium. That reloading system ensures that the beating it can dish out to the unwary is pretty severe. If it actually hits.

Tank Destroyers

Here are our contenders:

  • Skorpion/Skorpion G
  • SU-130PM
  • WZ-120-1G FT
  • Strv S1
  • TS-5

Five tank destroyers make our final list. And two of those are pretty similar - the Skorpion and SU-130PM. So what's the winner? It's the WZ-120-1G FT. 

World of Tanks: WZ-120-1G FT in action World of Tanks: WZ-120-1G FT in action

Why? Well the WZ can do some of things the others can - but essentially its balance of armour, fire power and agility is the best in this list. In the hands of a less experienced player, the WZ will save them. We've consistently seen battles in which it performs better than more accurate or stealthy TDs.  Its performance in the Front Line is good too - unlike its softer skinned counterparts, the WZ can set up and use its sloping frontal armour to deflect even premium rounds. And then there's the rate of fire - with just over 2,800 standard DPM, it makes up for lesser accuracy with sheer volume of fire. It also turns quickly for a turretless TD, meaning, that while it doesn't have quite the utility of a turreted vehicle, it's not the easiest TD for a light or medium to circle to death at close range. They have to find you to begin with anyway - the WZ-120-1G FT has good camouflage values. As a crew trainer, given the size of the Chinese tree, it's obviously of limited use. But it's a little monster, and one that gets overlooked for the others in this list too often.

The others

We can talk about the Skorpion and the SU-130PM in the same section - so similar are they in playstyle. Many WoT players would argue that the SU was only introduced because the German TD was too good, and Russian Bias demanded they had an equivalent. They are both strongly mobile turret TDs with big guns and big alpha. Accuracy on both is a little derpish - you'll miss some shots you think you should have made - but on the whole, they both deliver a hard, reliable punch. The ability of both to relocate is probably their strongest card outside of the big gun. With a turret, you can also get involved in some support play close behind your team's tanks, if the map allows. Bear in mind the SU turret doesn't fully rotate, but we've never found that much of an issue. The deterrent ability of the 128mm on the Skorpion and the 130mm on the SU-130PM is considerable on any flank -  if enemy players know you're there, even in a tier X match, then your vehicle is a factor they must take into account. One thing to remember, you're super vulnerable in these two TDs to both arty players and tanks using High Explosive ammo. You're made of paper - so trade cleverly to get the best from them.

German experimental tank destroyer Skorpion G World of Tanks: German Skorpion Tank Destroyer redline camping

Over in the IKEA flatpack department, we have the Swedish Strv S1. This is the sneakiest TD of this bunch and has brought many WoT players to the saltiest of tears as it chips away unseen at their Hit Points from some concealed position. While the S1's alpha damage is on the lower side in this list, its accuracy in Siege Mode (one of the two switchable suspension modes it has) is superb, with an aim time almost negligible. Add to that a highest-in-tier standard penetration of 288mm, the S1 will earn credits simply because you rarely have to resort to using premium ammunition. It does require a bit of thought to play - but its camouflage values are so good, it will enable you snipe undetected from some outrageous positions. If you do get spotted, the S1 actually has superior armour to the tech tree tier VIII UDES 03 and can bounce rounds from anything up to and including a 90mm gun. It also acts as a a trainer for the excellent tier IX and X Swedish TDs.

US super heavy tank destroyer World of Tanks: TS-5 American Tank Destroyer

Finally, another unique premium TD comes slowly rumbling on to our list - the American TS-5. Yes, it's slow, and yes, it turns like a drugged whale in a hot tub, but play it right and none of that is a concern. The TS-5 is all about the frontal armour and the DPM. In a tier VIII battle on a city map for example, the TS-5 can block a whole flank alone - that armour and a Damage-Per-Minute of close to 3,000 means it can really punish the unwary, or anyone hoping to do a shot-for-shot trade. Even in a higher tier battles it's no joke, with penetration of 248mm on a standard round. It's without a doubt the single most noob-friendly vehicle in the TD list here, and probably the most noob-friendly vehicle in this entire article. Find enemy, stop, pound them to death from 200m.

Burning Leopard 1 MBT in WoT World of Tanks: The Boulevard of Broken Dreams

Conclusion

World of Tanks is a game. A game you can buy premium vehicles in to enhance certain aspects of the game. If you have the money, and you're having fun, our advice is to buy any premium vehicle you want to. Just be aware, not all premiums are equal, and be careful with Wargaming's sales talk. The vehicles listed here are all ones we recommend based on our personal experiences and those of friends in game.

There's also the question of availability, many of the vehicles we've recommended aren't always available to buy. However, over the course of six months or so, most of them will appear, either to tie in with a special event or game mode, or just an anniversary. So if you really want one, just be patient, they will appear - Wargaming does want your money. In fact, rationing their availability is a marketing trick in itself.

Many players will disagree with our guide - and that's fine. It's a general guide based on the primary author's experience as a 55% win rate player who sits around 1900 WN8 after 25k battles. So not the greatest player, but far from the worst, and one who has not lost touch with his inner noob. 

Good luck + have fun!

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