A Newcomers Guide to the ISU-152 (AKA, the Troll Cannon)
So, tanker initiate, you have come to learning the secrets of the great ISU-152. No doubt your curiosity has been piqued by what your elders have been telling you; Grand tales of mighty foes smote with but a single shot, and of platoons of enemies frozen in fear of this mighty machine of war. Who would not want such a weapon at their disposal?
And yet...I sense hesitation in you, young one. You have probably already read through the holy texts, The Wargaming Wiki, and what you have seen has troubled you. You see the good, yes, but the bad weighs on your mind more heavily than you had thought it would. You look upon the statistics a see a vehicle that is cumbersome and vulnerable. Worst of all, you see how heavily it depends on the mercy of our lord RNGesus, who is as fickle as he is gracious. I can tell that this troubles you greatly, my child, and you are unsure of how to proceed.
But you need not worry, for I am here to dispel all doubt from you mind. Through my wisdom you will learn that the ISU-152, the mighty Trollcannon, is above all others that would roll across the fields of battle.
The Path You Must Take.
Above all else, the Trollcannon wants to be driven into battle, regardless of the worthiness of the driver. To that end, it has ensured that the road one will take to it is as smooth as possible. This line of tank destroyers is the greatest there is, with little “grinding” as you would understand it; the entire line is an utter joy to play, even at its slowest. You are likely to keep one or more of these tank destroyers, even as you climb towards your ultimate prize.
The AT1, SU-76, SU-85b and SU-85 are all decent machines. While potent at their tier, they have little that distinguishes them from their opposing numbers and they lack the spark of those that come after them. The progression here is reasonably quick, so you need not wait long for the truly magnificent ones.
The SU-100 is the first taste of what is to come. At first it will seem familiar to its predecessor, save for some additional armour and hitpoints. It is only once you acquire the 122mm gun that you truly understand. The weapon is slow firing and inaccurate, but it hits hard at tier six and is potent enough to penetrate most higher tier opponents. Hone the skills you develop with this gun, for they will aid you when you finall reach the ISU.
The SU-152 is the final step before acquiring the Trollcannon, but it also here that many neglect . You see, this vehicle has a pair of 122mm guns in an optional research branch; you do not need to research them to get the ISU, and many choose not, favoring the stock 152mm howitzer and a quicker trip to the ISU. But the ISU shares these guns, and you need them to get the all important BL-10, so I would advise you to research them while still at tier seven rather than slug through it at tier eight.
Once past the SU-152, you will finally set eyes upon the glory of the ISU-152. But your work is not done quite yet, for you still need to rouse the great beast, and for that you need the BL-10. It will take some time, even with the 122mm guns already researched, but when you finally succeed you will know a sweetness and a warmth you will never get even from the embrace of a loved one. Finally, true power is within your grasp!
The Gifts And Skills You Will Need.
The ISU-152 is mighty and fearsome beyond easy reckoning, but it will not reach its full potential alone. You will need to to provide it with equipment and talented servants to get see its true glory.
A Large Caliber Gun Rammer should be your first priority, as it will boost the Trollcannons rate of fire. While very expensive, hearing the cannon sing more often is definitely worth the price.
A Camouflage Net should be your next acquisition. The ISU wants to strike from beyond sight and the net will help enable this.
The third choice will depend on whether you can trust those who will be fighting by your side in battle. If you doubt your team will adequately spot for you, Telescopic Binoculars will let you spot for yourself. If you have faith in your fellow tankers, Improved Ventilation will provide a general boon to your capabilities.
As for your crew, you should give them Camouflage and Brothers in Arms before moving on to other skills of your choice. The sole exception is the commander, who should also receive Sixth Sense as soon as he is able; knowing when the enemy has found you is not to be under-valued.
The Strength Of The Beast.
It is said that a tanks greatness can be determined by virtue of three qualities; how quickly it can reach an enemy, how long it can survive in the presence of an enemy and how badly it can hurt an enemy. In the first two the ISU-152 avails itself adequately, but it is only with regards to the last that it truly comes into its own.
What must be said with regards to mobility is that the ISU, whatever else it may be, is not slow. It will keep pace with all but the faster mediums and lights and will generally be able to reach ideal Sniping positions within a time acceptable to your patience, however short it may be. Turning speed is serviable for a Tank Destroyer, though not sufficient to duel most tanks at close range. Acceleration is unremarkable at best and worst.
For defending itself, the ISU relies on avoiding the enemies eye. At this task, the Trollcannon performs well; as long as you are not parked in the middle of a field, the enemy should not know where you are until it is too late for that knowledge to help them. If you are seen, you should endeavor to get out of your foes line of fire,for the armour of the Trollcannon is unlikely to help you in a fight. Only the mantle of the gun can stand against the cannons of your enemies, and even that cannot be depended upon.
But then we come to speak of the gun, and you an finally see why this Tank Destroyer is worshipped. The BL-10 is neither accurate nor rapid-firing, but that matters not. All that matters is that when you pull the trigger, not even gods will be able to withstand the wrath you deliver unto them. 750 average damage and 286 penetration means that enemies you hit will feel how much you hate them, and even the mighty Maus will not tread lightly if he knows you can see him.
How To Harness Its Power.
If you want to achieve glory driving this most holy of machines, you must adhere to two axiums at all times; Keep yourself hidden and keep yourself at a distance. Endeavor to find yourself a bush with a good vantage point to your target and then fire at targets as they appear; your high penetration means that only the weak-spots of the most heavily armoured foes are worth looking for.
To keep hidden while firing, make sure your concealment in front of you is opaque before you fire; this is WOTs way of telling you that you are far enough away from it for it to retain its camouflaging capabilities when you fire through it, even if it is with a BL-10. If this is not possible for whatever reason, then you hide in the bush, fire, than back up behind the nearest hill or piece of hard cover. Do not wait for Sixth Sense to tell you if you have been seen; assume you have, and do not emerge until you are certain the enemy is not looking your way.
Above all else, do not get into a close-ranged duel with your foes; you are neither agile enough to keep them from encircling you nor armoured enough to survive their assault at a range where they cannot be expected to miss. If, through your recklessness, you allow your foes to get close, than you have proven yourself to be a disgrace. You have failed the noble machine that has served you and you should not be permitted to even look upon its hull ever again.
...but this teacher accepts that, sometimes, these things cannot be helped. Sometimes your team fails you, and not even the best gunnery will stop the enemy from closing the distance. If that occurs, do not despair, for the ISU has an advantage even here. So great is the might of the BL-10, so great is its reputation, that other tankers have come to fear it. None will risk being struck by you if they can avoid it, and from this you can benifit. Get behind a ridge or a buildings corner and you will witness the spectacle of multiple mediums, lights and even heavies milling around on the other side; though they could overwhelm you, none will be brave enough to risk be the one to receive your greeting. They may try to bait you, but until you fire your gun they will not dare commit to an attack. Use this to your advantage.
Some Words of Wisdom.
I have imparted all that you need to know for you to wield this mighty beast, but there is some final advice that you would be wise to heed.
That advice is to be patient. The nickname of this Tank Destroyer, “Trollcannon”, is well deserved, for it will test your temperament often. Shots you though would be certain hits will miss, and shells you thought would penetrate will conspire to be eaten by tracks or bounce off of the flimsiest excuses for armour. At times you will rail against how, in spite of everything logic would dictate, the gun finds a way to fail you.
When this occurs, and it will occur, do not let it trouble your mind. You will forget these individual instances soon enough but the moments of glory you witness, the one-shot kills and the legions of foes too paralysed with fear to move in front of you...those you will cherish until the day your body is too frail to continue drawing breath.
Enjoy your time with the ISU-152, Tanker, and roll out.
Edited by Shredder17, Apr 18 2017 - 04:12.