I am not going to get into the suckers (buying gold) vs. parasites (playing for free) debates. Nor is this guide about Free-to-Play vs. Play-to-Win arguments. Both issues receive (pathologically) extensive coverage in the forums. For whatever reason, you have decided to buy some gold and are wondering what to buy with it. You have played a few hundred games and are no longer a danger to yourself or others in a firefight, but are not a Clan Wars pro. Also, you are not playing WoT instead of Internet Poker (as I am), so your bankroll is limited to 3,000 gold/$15 (200 gold/$1). The guide is based on Version 7.4.1 (will update as needed/interest).
WG puts various gold items on sale relatively frequently—there seem to be one or two good sales per month and they usually start on Thursdays. Waiting for the sales will extend your tight little bankroll enough to matter. Patience is a virtue.
The WoT Economy:
As noted in the Wiki, the relationships between real money, gold, and credits are one-way: real money --> gold --> credits. Gold cannot be reconverted into real money (doing so is probably illegal in the U.S. as a result of the Internet Gambling Protection Act) and credits cannot be reconverted into gold. Gold is converted into credits at the rate of 400 credits/1 gold, so 80,000 credits equal $1.
Summary: Using gold to buy credits gets you to your destination faster, but it costs you real money. If you need another 500,000 credits for your next toy and use gold, you are paying $6.25 to cure your impatience. Ritalin is cheaper.
Get one in the nationality/tank type you enjoy the most. Premium tanks cost gold and earn large amounts of credits for various reasons, such as lower repair costs and favorable matchmaking. They also accelerate crew training and can yield free experience, which can then be applied to any area of research. NEVER BUY A PREMIUM WITH A CREW. Make sure you have an exact nationality/tank type match: training a medium crew in a heavy tank incurs penalties. Get a crew only if it is the only tank you have in that nationality. By swapping out the crew, you can accelerate crew training by having two tanks in which they can get the 2x experience for the first win (the “daily double”) and the crew will improve while you are using the premium to grind out credits for your next buy. With a 3,000 gold budget, a premium (which will cost at most 1,500 gold/$7.50) in your preferred line will still leave you with enough gold for other useful gadgets.
Premium tanks also make for good player training tanks, as their modules cannot be upgraded and they do not lead to anything else on the technology tree. Less stuff to worry about when learning the game. Next time I introduce someone to WoT I will probably buy $11.66 Matilda gift and have them fool around with that.
The credit earning potential is important. WoT is designed so that operating costs increase as the Tier increases, so you will need a credit-earning tank to fund your adventures with your Tier VIII killing machine.
If you are hooked enough that you want to play quite a bit and spend money but have not yet settled on a nationality/tank type, consult the forums for advice on what to get. If you really can’t wait to read the forums, get Ram-II (U.S.), T-25 (German), or Matilda (USSR) if you want to play mediums. Get a T14 (U.S.) or Churchill (USSR) if you want to play heavies. All are 1,500 gold. Bear in mind that not all nationalities/tank types have premiums yet.
Summary: Premium tanks earn credits quickly, train your crew faster, and are easy and fun to play. Get one.
Version 7.4 made some premium consumables worth buying. Pre 7.4, premium consumables (like regular ones) were usable only once, so you would be paying 25 cents for something that may or may not help. Version 7.4 changed the effects so that three consumables have effects even when they are not used: the Large Repair Kit boots repairs by 10 percent, the Large First Aid Kit reduces the chances of crew injury by 5 percent, and Automatic Fire Extinguishers reduce fire chances by 10 percent (tragically, as it is automatic, it will automatically extinguish any fire that does start without your permission). If you buy these and remember not to use them, you can get good skill boost at the cost of a consumable slot. You can have a premium consumable and a regular one on the same tank: a Small Repair Kit and Large Repair Kit, for example. If you are patient and have a good memory, you will only need to buy one of each premium consumable: after each battle, send the consumable to the depot and mount it on your next tank before entering battle. As I possess neither of these qualities, I tend to have premium consumables on most of my tanks.
Of the premiums, the Large Repair Kit is most useful. Artillery, tanks using HE, overall changes to the HE rules, and the Deadeye Perk have combined to make critical hits (repairable damage to modules) more frequent. DO NOT USE IT TO REPAIR MULTIPLE MODULES. If you have lost several modules, it is probably because you are a popular target and will soon be dead anyway. Accept your fate and ponder any lessons you can learn. The other two are erratic and risky to have: the Large First Aid Kit will matter only about one time in 20 and the Automatic Fire Extinguishers may decide to use themselves in a situation where you do not want that.
The one-shot premium consumables (combat rations, cola, and chocolate) give a boost to crew skills for one battle. These make sense only if you will earn at least 20,000 additional credits in a public match or you will earn at least 50 gold in Clan Wars. The first case is highly unlikely. The second is irrelevant: if you are in Clan Wars, you probably do not need to be reading this.
Summary: Get at least one Large Repair Kit and have it mounted before entering battle. Get other premium consumables only for the entertainment value.
Premium Ammunition (a gold round) has better penetration or better damage than do ones bought with credits. While having them may increase your kill ratio and damage dealt, they may not increase your win rate in public matches as that partly depends on the other 29 players. If you are considering using them in public matches, use the gold/credit conversion factor and ask yourself if you can turn a profit: if round costs 10 gold, then you will have to earn at least 4,000 more credits by using it. My experience is that it usually does not happen. You are better off not buying 10 gold rounds and getting another large Repair Kit instead, thus reducing the effects of damage on your tanks and memory loss on you.
A small confession: I do carry several gold rounds in my Tier VII+ tanks. I really dislike Type 59’s and will use gold rounds on them. Paying 5 cents to destroy a Type 59 is worth it to me.
Summary: Premium ammunition is not cost-effective in public matches. Use it only when satisfying private urges that cannot be met by other means.
Premium/Elite tanks can use experience to either accelerate crew training or, by using gold (1 gold/25 xp), to create free experience that can be used to research any module/tank. As with converting gold to credits, this option is useful only to the Ritalin-deprived. When you earn regular experience, 5 percent of what is earned is also given as free experience. Instead of buying free experience with your premium tank, grind with it: you will earn free experience, improve your crew, and get credits to pay for the next gadget all at the same time.
Summary: Converting experience is for people who have bigger bankrolls and less patience. Save your gold and grind.
Crew Basic Training:
For 200 gold, you can train a crewmember to 100 percent in their basic skill in a particular tank and then start training them in additional skills/perks (camouflage, mentor, steady hands, etc…). This is a cheap way to boost performance, as compared to buying equipment (Class III vents: 500,000 credits/1,250 gold). The problem at the lower tiers (Tier IV and below) is overtraining: the tank could very well earn enough experience (even with a poor win record due to an incompetent crew) that you can move up a tier before the crew approaches 100 percent in the current tank. Therefore, you are better off waiting to train a crew to 100 percent when you are facing a long grind in the current tank. If you are using gold to train one crewmember, considering eating the gold and train them all. Doing so allows all of them to start training on skills/perks that boost performance. This is particularly important for repair, camouflage, and firefighting, as they are averaged across the entire crew: Having 4 crewmembers at 100 percent repair and one still stuck learning his basic job means that the crew will repair at 80 percent.
If you want to save some gold, train the commander first. The commander’s skill level provides a boost to all other crewmembers. The gunner and driver are the next important, as one helps you cause damage, and one helps you avoid damage.
Summary: Train at least the commander to 100 percent when the crew is in a Tier V tank or above.
Crew Skill Training:
For 200 gold, you can swap a skill/perk with no training loss. If a crewmember is 43 percent repair, you can pay 200 gold to have 43 percent firefighting instead. This matters for significantly perks: perks come into effect only when trained to 100 percent. Deadeye trained at 1 percent works the same as Deadeye trained at 99 percent: it doesn’t. Therefore, gold is useful for transforming 100 percent skills into perks. As noted in the Wiki and the forums, some perks are more useful than others and there are endless debates on this that I will not address. Just be aware that perks must be at 100 percent to work. And remember that all crewmembers must have Brothers in Arms for it to work. If you want BIA, accept the 1,000 gold cost needed to convert the skills over.
Summary: Converting a skill into a perk makes sense only when the skill is at 100 percent. Training in a perk represents a use of xp that is better used anywhere else (even firefighting on an AT-1 is a better investment).
Premium accounts have many virtues: the ones of interest here are the 50 percent bonuses to experience and credits earned. One bonus gets you to better gadgets faster and one bonus helps you pay for them faster. The desirability of this depends on how you like the pace of the game. Play long enough, and you will eventually have your own collection of Tier X’s to play in Clan Wars, be able stomp opponents in public games, and have a very thorough knowledge of every tank in the game. The major downside is that this assumes that you and WG will live long enough for this to happen. The other downside is that you will be running on a tight budget and will have to play your premium tanks to fund your high tier ones. This is intentional on WG’s part: using your lower-tier premiums to fund your heavy metal helps populate the middle tiers and makes for better/more balanced matchmaking, which helps retain the middle-tier players. A premium account gets you to the same place in roughly half the time. The problem is that it is still the same place. Once you have played through every tank, you can only “progress” by waiting for new tanks to show up in future updates. Also, your tanks and your crews may become better at the game than you are. Proficiency in WoT is partly inherent (inborn skills) and partly experiential (the more you play, the better you tend to get). A premium account may put you into tiers that your hardware handle but you can’t. This tends to result in frustration on your part and nasty chat comments on the part of others. The choice is a matter of taste: my recommendation is that you try a premium account and see if you like it.
Summary: Try a premium account. Just be aware that it may be like trying crack.
Other (Questionable) Gold Expenditures:
You can also use gold for other stuff. The other stuff is a questionable use of scarce resources for your bankroll.
Additional garage slots: If you like collecting/driving a fairly large number of tanks you will eventually need more garage slots. As with most things in WoT, there are tradeoffs. If you are collecting tanks, you are probably not specializing in any particular line and your progress to the bigger hardware will be slower (if this matters to you—WoT is not a race, and it is your job to play it in the way you enjoy most). You will also be spending more time on daily doubles training up the crews and you will have quite a few credits tied up in tanks that may be needed to buy modules/equipment/tanks.
Bigger barracks: Crewmembers not in tanks have to be stored in the barracks. This may make sense if you have abandoned a particular line for a bit (I still have my T-34-85 crew while I am waiting to figure out how to improve my 39 percent win rate in that tank). But buying a Tier I tank for zero credits or a Tier II for a small number of credits is generally cheaper as long you have the garage slots.
One-time consumables and premium ammunition: As noted above, these are not cost-effective on this bankroll. Use them in Clan Wars (when you will also be a position to ignore this guide) or to satisfy private vices.
Camouflage Patterns: For 300 gold, you can put some eye candy on your tank and impress other players with your profligacy. CAMOUFALGE PATTERNS HAVE NO GAME EFFECTS. All they do is look cool. A confession: I have the ugliest possible camo patterns on my keeper tanks. I want my keeper tanks to look like my ties.
Changing crew names: For 50 gold, you can change a crewmember’s portrait and name. Spending 25 cents to change the identity of an imaginary person is your call. Just be aware that the imaginary person may not like forced plastic surgery and a changed name may cause an identity crisis.
Summary: WoT has many other things you can spend money on. Indulge in a spending spree only after you are sure you are hooked.
A Summary Budget:
This is what you might want to get with your (first?) $15.00.
Item Gold Cost Reason
Premium Tank 1,500 Earn credits and xp
Premium Account for 3 days 650 Experiment with premium
Train 3 crew to 100% 600 Better performance/more fun in battle
Convert 1 skill to perk 200 So as to not waste training time
1 Large Repair Kit 50 10% better repairs/survivability
Alternatively, you could get a premium account for 7 days to get a better feel for it and just train the commander.
PUT AWAY YOUR CREDIT CARD. For a few days. See if you are getting at least $15.00 worth of enjoyment out of the game. If you are not getting more fun by paying a small amount of money, you will probably not get more fun by paying a large amount of money.
If you still think paying WG for more imaginary tanks is better deal than paying for other types of imaginary things, think about buying in bulk. You can decrease your gold cost by 25 percent by buying 25,000 gold/$100 (250 gold/$1) instead of 3,000/$15 (200 gold/$1). Premium accounts become cheaper as well. The 3-day premium account (650 gold) cost about $1.08/day. Buying one for a full year (24,000 gold) cost about $0.26/day.
Keep some gold in reserve for specials. WG puts gold items and tanks on sale at various times, so you will want to be in a position to stock up. The few gold rounds I have were bought on sale, so the entertainment cost for me less than it would be otherwise.
You are paying WG money so you can have more fun playing the game in the way you find most fun. If having fun means you max out a Marder II with camo, gold rounds, and gold consumables, do it. My opinions, along with those of others, do not dictate how you spend your own money.
Remember that cover and concealment are not the same, place your shots, and watch for tanks with ugly camo.