Tanks.gg updated to include 1.18.1 CT, which has the BZ-176, the tier 8 prem of the upcoming tech tree. TL;DR: the armor of the BZ-176 seems less scary than you’d expect

https://tanks.gg/v11810ct/tank/bz-176/model?vm=live&cs=is-3&cl=71112M0

Most of the comparisons are done against the IS-3 in its top configuration firing premium rounds (122 mm gun, 265 mm penetration with APCR).

While I highly doubt the tank will be anyhow balanced (you probably know why but I’ll talk about it later regardless), the armor layout is actually not nearly as fucked up as 240/152/60 and 250/152/60 paper stats would make you think. While it still has some major problems, the armor layout of the BZ-176 is far more balanced than I expected and is at very least better designed than the stupid Italian TDs.

Firstly, looking the model, there’s something very interesting going on:

The gun breech sticks out of the turret roof like with the Rheinmetall Panzerwagen or Rinoceronte. This explains the ridiculous 11 degree gun depression

This gun breech is actually a significant thing – while the turret armor itself is fucking insane (as expected), the exposed gun breech is a major weakspot when the tank is hulldown. a

While the entire turret is strong enough to resist even tier 10 premium rounds, the gun breech is exposed when the BZ is in a hulldown position; at only 29 mm thick, most guns can overmatch it, though 20 pdr guns and any 75 mm and below gets fucked

Sure, you simply point your gun up and be basically completely invincible with the BZ-176. However, if it does this, it also can’t shoot you back. If it wants to fire at you, it has to expose the gun breech and while its gun handling is fantastic for such a ridiculously big gun, it combined with long reload and low pen means that the BZ has to expose the weakspot at least for some time if it wants to shoot. The turret design isn’t perfect, as it’s still contribute to hulldown meta and a lot of the times BZ can just not show its weakspot until the enemy has fired at something, but at very least there’s SOME skill involved instead of completely mindless “wank hulldown and shoot things with 0 thoughts required” like it is with the Italian TDs. And unlike the Kranvagn, the weakspot of the BZ is actually pretty big and not pixel sized.

The gun breech is not the only weakspot on the turret:

On the flat ground, the BZ has two weak albeit small cupolas that can be penned. These are very easily hidden with some gun depression, but then the aforementioned gun breech weakspot is exposed

While the cupolas are very tiny, basically Defender sized, they’re still better than literally nothing.

The turret additionally has another significant disadvantage against very large caliber guns:

The turret roof is 41 mm thick, meaning that gun caliber larger than 123 mm can overmatch the entire massive, rather large turret roof.

I think WG specifically made the turret roof resistant to Soviet 122 mm guns, but not anything much bigger than that. For example, the ever-present Skoda T 56 carries a 130 mm gun, meaning that it can just shoot the turret roof on flat-ish ground and overmatch it. VK 100 will be notoriously effective against this tank because not only it will struggle to pen it very hard, but also because its tall and can easily shoot the turret roof to overmatch it.

Now, going to the hull armor, this is where its basically a “scam” as the paper stats are a total lie. Which is a good thing, because on paper, the hull armor seems EXTREMELY overpowered.

Hull armor VS IS-3 premium ammo on flat ground

The 240 mm armor plate is only the almost flat section – everything else is 100 mm thick. The upper upper plate is 100 mm, but highly sloped, meaning that it’ll be a weakspot if you shoot it above and against (higher tier) HEAT shells, kinda like the Object 268 V4. At only ~150 mm effective, the lower plate is a weakspot even against lower tiers, and while it’s quite small, it’s certainly more reasonable than the absurdly small lower lower plate of the Vipera.

Now the real scam is the side armor. Anyone was terrified of this thing having more armor than the fucking KV-4? Well, good news, that’s not the case:

The side armor is a total lie and it’s actually not that special. The 152 mm is only the narrow upper strip. So nope, no 45 degree angling shenanigans.

100 mm side armor isn’t bad by any means, it’s still above average for its type. It’s the same as the Defender’s (lower) side armor and it’s perfectly workable at tier 8. Because the tank has well sloped UFP and no hull cheek weakspots, it’s still able to sidescrape very well, just at more careful angle, like this:

https://preview.redd.it/vrbakxgtm8o91.png?width=418&format=png&auto=webp&s=0db100a5dd600305b372a5e40159513b60e87d15

Conclusion

The armor of the BZ-176 is not even nearly as strong as one would’ve expected after the seemingly ridiculous paper stats. Surprisingly enough, it has actual weakspots unlike the Italian TDs. The armor is still great, especially if one knows how to use it, it’s just not as crazy as it seemed on paper and is actually reasonably flawed. The side armor being a lie certainly helps – a full 152 mm side armor would’ve been fucking terrifying.

The armor and mobility seem relatively…balanced. The problem is the gun, however:

BZ-176’s gun with food, field mods, crew skills and equipment loadout of Hardening/Rammer/VStab.

This isn’t even maxed out – you could run directives, Bond Equipment and something like Vents or Improved Aiming over Hardening to boost the gun handling even further. You can deal 800 damage every 20 seconds with very reasonable gun handling – the gun handling is comparable to the Skoda T56, and the dispersion is actually better. While Skoda can burst out 920 damage in a few seconds with 21-22 second reload, instant 800 damage every 20 seconds is arguably nastier, as the tank has to expose itself for much less time than the Skoda. Also, as added bonus, the BZ-176 can deal small chip damage if it fails to pen the HESH shells, which isn’t much but it’s better than nothing. The main problem is the lack of penetration – 225 HESH is still lacking compared to 248 AP the Skoda gets. Then again, the BZ gets 1100 alpha standard shells, which have so much alpha that they can probably do actual reasonable chip damage against targets neither it or Skoda would be able to pen, and it probably only needs 4 seconds or so to swap the shells with Intuition.

While it’s very hard to tell how the BZ-176 will compare to the Skoda T 56 just yet (Skoda will likely still be the king of tier 8 HT premiums for now), or how good the BZ will be in the first place, what I can tell already is that the BZ has a really degenerate gun that deals way too much damage and thus is likely still going to be toxic and degenerate, even though the armor layout actually seems much more balanced than I expected.

submitted by /u/leggasiini
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