Boy, was I wrong.
I played the way I saw other heavies play, bullying up to the front, slugging it out face to face or playing peekaboo... And, well, that did not work. FWIW I have run a 51% win rate for a while now (in strictly pub matches), but my win rate after the first 125 games in Tiger 1 was 42%. Dismal. I have stopped the bleeding, and increased my win rate to now be within 8 wins of 50%. This means I am actually winning more than 50% of my games, - getting your win rate back up is hard to do if you wait as long as I did to figure out heavy tanking.
When your new heavy is stock, or close to stock, you need to play CAUTIOUSLY. You cannot succeed or help your team if you go Agro to the front lines. You will get pounded and die. Until elite, you will have a weak gun, and weak armor, and a weak engine compared to other heavies at your tier. Hang back, hide, snipe and flank. Work as part of a wolf pack with the goal of supporting those tanks. You will do much better.
Top Tiered: If your tank is listed as one of the top three tanks on your team, before you have it elited, you are not top tank. Just because MM says you have one of the top tanks in the match, thinking that you can overpower your opponents is what got me such a dismal win rate.
Reevaluate the maps. You will make contact at different places than you are used to. You need to move from cover or concealment as usual, but where you end up will be different. You probably know where most of the Heavy Tank battles are - think about routes that you can use to Flank those places.
The good thing is that if you play cautiously from the start, you can still deal a lot of damage, thus gaining the experience and credits to upgrade your tank fairly quickly.
The Elite Heavy is a very capable and fun tank to play, regardless of MM matching. You should retain your deliberate approach, still work with supporting mediums and other heavies. In fact, when top tiered, I will often ask for medium support if I plan to go a different route from most heavies. Team chatter is a key to a good win rate, IMO. http://mwreplays.com...y/I78WY8A4NQPV/ In this replay, I got Top Gun, Mastery Badge "Ace Tanker" and Boelter's.
Remember your flanking skills used as a strong medium when facing other heavy tanks. Tracked and flanked enemies are an easy kill. Going face to face with a T29, T30 or IS in a Tiger is a recipe for disaster. Tracking him, passing and flanking / rear shots increase your odds greatly. Speed is as much a weapon as your main gun. With Tiger and top engine you can actually go faster than some other heavies can traverse. Very useful tactic.
Keep good situational awareness. Make your minimap larger and watch where your teammates are. If your supporting tanks get killed, and you have managed to survive, think whether it is a better choice to go after new enemies or the cap by yourself, or whether it might be best to cross to where a teammate is in contact and lend some flank support. Often, you can save your teammate and the two of you have a better chance than either of you alone.
DON'T CAMP: Your team needs your HP reserve, big gun and armor to succeed. You need to be in the mix - but not the first tank to die.
There is a significant difference between playing cautiously (smart) and camping. You actually think aggressively, and move cautiously, and better, as part of a wolf pack.- using cover and concealment to move to flanking positions. Playing cautiously basically means don't go in a straight line for the first chokepoint and get into a toe-to-toe match, just because you think that is what Heavy Tanks do.
Skills and Equipment. Repair skill is a must, IMO. I tend to go for Mentor with the commander until maxed, then switch to Sixth Sense, then put him on Repair. All other crewmembers get Repair first off. I also carry Fire Extinguishers, Toolbox and Small Repair Kit. If you have a German Tank - you are going to need those when you get ammo racked. So don't use the repair kit on your tracks, let the skills & toolkit help there. Save the repair kit for your ammo rack, and occasionally, the gun.
TOP DAWG... When it does turn out that you have the best tank in the match, staying alive until midgame or the end is often the best thing you can do for your team. I killed 7 tanks in one match, partly because I sniped most of the early fights. In the next match, again as top dog, I went straight for the heavy slug fest, killed 3 tanks, died, and watched the team ultimately lose. Even if you have the toughest tank, play smart.
Low Tiered: In another match, I killed no tanks, but damaged 12. I found a good sniping spot, backed up until I could not see through the bush, and shot red outlines. When the fight moved away from me, I followed at a distance & continued to support. We ultimately won, even if I did not get any kills.
Arty: Arty is the nemisis of Heavies and TDs. If you get spotted, start moving or find a covered spot to work from. Don't stay hidden behind a bush, just because the scout that spotted you is now dead. Arty drivers love Heavies who sit in one spot for long periods of time.
Hope this helps some of you avoid the mistakes I made.
Edit: thanks Bronco330 & bobobobly for good points.
Edited by PanzerXO, Aug 31 2012 - 21:19.