As many people have already heard (thanks to groups such as the NRA widely circulating news about this), the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) has proposed a ban on the popular M855 rifle cartridge (often called "Green Tips" due to the green paint on the tip of the bullet) for firearms that are designed to shoot the popular .223 Remington/5.56x45mm NATO caliber bullet (such as AR-15 rifles, and many others). For those who want more information about the ban and why it has been imposed, but do not want to read the NRA's article, then here's a link to an article from Forbes about the proposed ammunition ban.
It is, of course, important to understand that this ban has merely been proposed, and that it has not been made an official regulation yet and will not be enforced until it makes the change from being proposed to actually becoming a regulation. It is also important to note that the change to the way M855 ammunition is being handled by the ATF is not an actual change in law, but simply a change in whether or not the ATF considers the M855 ammunition to be considered an "armor piercing" ammunition "which may be used in a handgun", which would make it illegal under the Gun Control Act of 1968 (as mentioned in the article from Forbes).
A projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium;
A full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.
For those who don't already know, the .223/5.56 bullets are ".22 caliber", and thus the second criteria does not apply. Therefore, we have to establish whether the first one can apply. Forbes already discusses whether or not .223/5.56 ammunition can be used in a handgun, and while they do briefly mention whether or not the core of the bullet is made of the metals listed in the first criteria, I thought it might be a good idea to have a firearms expert show exactly what is inside the M855 "green tip" bullet. Here's a video from Jerry Miculek where, after 2 minutes and 30 seconds of satire (you can feel free to skip that part) he shows a few examples of bullets that have been cut in half so that you can see the inside, and explains what makes up the M855 bullet:
For those who are opposed to the proposed ban, the NRA has a form to contact your legislators and the ATF about it at this link.
I recently started playing World of Tanks, and I was enjoying it over the Memorial Day weekend with the bonus XP and bonus in-game currency earned as part of the holiday event. This week, I discovered the hard way that you get automatically banned for team kills.
There was a bot on my team, and it was spamming chat with a link to some scam website claiming you could buy gold there. I had remembered someone in another match telling people to kill such a bot who was on their team since it wasn't going to be helping them, so as soon as the match started I blew the bot up. I was promptly temp banned for 1 hour, and I said to myself "Well, obviously I shouldn't be killing my teammates."
Presumably there was a second time that this happened, however I don't remember right now and I will have to check my Twitch.tv stream's history to find it, as I am fairly certain that it was just an accident.
A couple of nights ago I was trying to shoot at a small tank, and while I didn't know this at the time somehow the shot missed and hit a teammate behind him. My tank turned blue on the scores list, and I didn't know what that meant at the time (apparently this is how the game shows other players that it considers you a "team killer"). A teammate behind me started shooting at me, and at first I didn't know what was going on. I watched him shoot at me a second time, and I waited to see if it was on purpose or not. He got right up behind me, and fired a third shot directly point-blank into my tank, so at that point it became clear that my teammate was trying to kill me. I turned my turret and fired, missing the shot, and as he started turning around to shoot me again I fired a second time, striking him in the side for 49% of his total health. I was promptly temp banned for 2 days after firing the shot.
Of course, you don't have to take my word for it. I was streaming to Twitch at the time, and there is proof of what happened. You can also watch it on YouTube below:
At the time I didn't realize that the ban was for 2 days. When I realized that Wednesday night, I posted a topic on their forums, which used to be at this link. After the topic grew to three pages, they deleted it, however Google was kind enough to cache a version of the page. Assuming that the Google cached page will eventually be deleted as well, I have taken screenshots of my original post:
Obviously the fact that I posted the topic after normal business hours, it is not surprising that there was no reply from WoT support, however to simply delete or hide the topic without any message to the creator of the topic is bad support. Deleting the topic makes it look like they have something to hide, and not explaining to the person who created the topic why it was deleted usually comes across as very rude.
Another interesting point that I should make is that the World of Tanks community in general responds very negatively to those who ask for help in such matters, or who attempt to report them. As long as the Google cached copy of the topic is up, you can still read some of the replies. A few people tried to post relevant and helpful information (even if they didn't read my entire post), and one user was actually very nice and seemed to genuinely want to be helpful. The rest were demanding that I be banned or treating me like I was playing the game just to kill my teammates.
All of that being said, I highly recommend avoiding this game until they address some of the issues with this system. All it takes for a new player to get banned from this game is one too many accidents since getting banned for damaging/killing teammates is based on the ratio of damage done to teammates vs damage done to enemies, and they don't bother telling you that in advance. I have yet to find out if the company that makes the game would refund any money spent on premium content if an account is permanently banned for this sort of thing, however I expect that they wouldn't be any different from most companies that make and manage MMO's and refuse to refund any money.
I will keep this blog entry updated if there are any new developments, and I will try to find the first two instances of my being temp banned for "team kill" on my Twitch stream so that I can create highlights and put links to the videos here.
Edit (Thursday, May 29th, 2014):
At 4:29 AM EDT this morning I received an e-mail from the World of Tanks forums telling me that I had been given a warning. This is the sort of warning that a moderator or administrator gives a user on a forum for breaking the forum rules. The warning explained that I had broken a rule when posting my topic, specifically that I had disputed a moderator/staff decision. Here is a screenshot of the warning on their forums, and its details:
As someone who works for a software company and does technical support on a forum, I consider this reason to be utter bullshit, and will be contacting their technical support directly asking that the content of my original post be put back in place (they moved my topic to an archive, locked it, and hid my opening post in that topic that explains the issue).
Edit (Wednesday, June 11th, 2014):
My requests to receive refunds having hit a dead end, I specifically requested that a member of their management team review my request. It took more than 2 weeks to get a reply, but earlier this evening I finally got one. The answer was basically that, if I hadn't used any of the premium content I had purchased, I could have received a refund. Once I have used any of that content, I become ineligible for a refund. They also will not give a refund to anyone who has been banned.
Considering how easy it would be for new players to get banned by this game's automatic punishment system for accidents, I must recommend that if you do choose to play this game that you absolutely not spend any money on it. It just isn't worth it, and thus far the company's support has been mediocre at best. You can see the content of my support ticket thus far in a PDF printout at this link.