Tank football: celebrating the World Cup with the other beautiful game

World of Tanks has come down with football fever.

I have a very mild fever. A very mild World Cup fever. I've been told it's about to start, I've seen that John Oliver clip so I now know what FIFA's up to these days, and I've just scored my very first goal. My very first goal ever. And I was driving a tank when I scored it.

I was in World of Tanks, inevitably, which has just received a new football game mode which I assume will last for the duration of the competition in Brazil. I loaded up the client, leapt into my new T-62A Sport, and trundled out onto the grass - three blue tanks against three red tanks, with seven minutes on the clock and a huge football waiting for us in the middle of the pitch.

And it works, tank football. It's a bit slow going at times, sure, and turning corners is pretty tricky, but in these ways it's actually a decent approximation of my own footballing abilities in the real world. In the real world, though, I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to ram enemy players and immobilise them by knocking off their treads. No matter! They fix themselves soon enough, and while you can fire your big guns, damage seems to be turned off. Probably for the best.

1

Danger here!

That's for enemies, anyway. If you're super handy in the turret, you can actually use your firepower to knock the ball around. Or, like me, you can just ram the ball with a bumper. Tanks have bumpers, right? That's how I scored my first ever goal, incidentally. It was 1-1 with little time left on the clock. The reds had scored first and then we equalised. The ball returned to... to that line in the middle of the pitch, right, and I saw my chance.

Team red was tangled up around our goal mouth, so I raced across the grass, as fast as you can race in an old tank, scooping up the ball and eventually nudging it into the enemy goal. The ball exploded - they do that in the standard game, hmm? - and I had become a tank football legend. I'd won the game for us! Sure, it was idiot luck, and I suspect some of the enemy team may have already disconnected, but for the first time ever, I knew how Stanley Matthews felt.

It's nice to head into a real World Cup with an experience like that behind you. It means I'll be able to watch a game or two, stare at Stanley Matthews, or whoever we have playing for us these days, and know what he's going through.

It really is a beautiful game. And football isn't bad either.

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