Sunday, March 31, 2013

World of Tanks: XVM explained

XVM stands for eXtended Visualization Mod which is a fairly large modification for World of Tanks. Because it is generally bundled with a lot of accessories it can be hard to distinguish what is just XVM and what is not. In my book XVM is solely the part of the mod that tells you about a players Efficiency and Win Rate in battle. Besides the core of XVM and the settings for displaying player stats there are other things attached to XVM which can be handy. These include the ability to modify what is displayed over a tank (I only count the player lists, tab list, and loading battle list by default), an advanced capture timer, and an improved player statistics. Also completely ignore the chance to win numbers while loading into battle, it will only hurt your chances of winning if you lose hope due to a low chance of winning or you don't take the game seriously because you have a very high chance to win.

EFF and WN6
To start it out I'm going to have to talk about the general metric used to gauge a players competence called Efficiency and WN6. These two metrics use the different things you earn each battle like kills and damages and determines how effective you've been in helping your team to victory. I'm not going to explain the formulas since the only thing that matters is if you play naturally and deal / spot more damage then a top tier heavy or two you're doing good. The rule of thumb that I see it as is based on is the worst a player's efficiency is the more likely they are to rush shots, exposing their weaknesses more often, and all those other little things that makes them easier to kill like not using a fire extinguisher. Please note that this is just a personal view based off in game experiences so this list of about how I rate people should be taken generally.
  • 0~400 Easy to kill
  • 400~700 Can put up some fight
  • 700~900 Below average, take seriously
  • 900~1200 Can kill if your drunk.
  • 1200+ Don't be stupid, they know what they're doing
Base Capture Timer
My favorite part of the XVM package is the base capture timer redesign. It shows you how long you have until the base is captured in seconds. It also shows you how many people are on cap such as 1, 2 or 3+ since the capture speed does not increase past 3 people. This can be extremely handy since knowing how long you have until a base is captured can completely change how you play. If you know you have 9 seconds and your reload is 10 you know you can't afford to rush your shot. Likewise if there is still two minutes and a half until the base is captured you can take your time killing the guy near you before returning to base. Also for those who don't keep track on how fast bases capture across the different maps and game types knowing for sure that 2 are capping then you know where two of the last three enemy tanks are.

Modifying XVM
For those of you who want to modify the different things XVM can display like showing a players efficiency next to their name above their tank then I suggest going to this XVM Editor, opening the xvmconfig file from inside your mod folder (res_mods/0.0.0/gui/flash) and saving your modifications to that (I keep a copy of a working version handy encase I really mess some stuff up). In general the only things I really touch there is the above tanks icons (Markers), and the Tab / Loading / Player Panel sections to show WN6 or Efficiency based on your preference. Some suggestions I have for what to keep for these four spots are...
  • Battles, Winrate and some efficiency calculation (even if it is just colorizing the players name) for the tab and loading sections.
  • Show a players efficiency over the tank when you press alt, this is where you can place all the fun information like tank tier, player name, tank type, etc that would just clutter up the default.
  • Be minimalistic for above tank markers except in tab mode, just showing a player name (ally) or tank name (enemy)  and their health bar is generally enough.
  • Play low tiers after you edit your XVM to see if you like the changes in battle, you don't want to be in a Tier 10 game with something that makes it harder to play.
Installing XVM
The first thing you want to do is install the Dokan Library and restart your computer, if you have Windows 8 use compatibility mode. XVM uses this to display user statistics like Efficiency and Win Rate in battle. After you have that installed download XVM and place your xvm-stats.exe and xvm-stats.exe.config files in the World_of_tanks folder. The world_of_tanks folder should be in your C:\Games\ folder (get to it by going to My Computer -> C Drive -> Games -> World_of_tanks). The next thing you should do is go to your res_mods\0.0.0\gui\flash folder and paste your xvmconfig file here where 0.0.0 is the current patch number for wot (currently 0.8.4). After that all you'll have to do is make a shortcut to your xvm-stats.exe and run World of Tanks from that file (I have it pinned to my start menu) and XVM should be working.

Why XVM can be good or bad

Have you ever seen people who say that the chances of winning is bad so they kill themselves at the start of the game? This is because of XVM and them giving up before they even tried because based on the tanks and tankers driving them stats it says that they have a bad chance. However time and time again I've seen teams with a 5% chance to win decimate another team. This is because the application of one teams forces may not be appropriately placed to take advantage of the other teams positions.

Using XVM as a loose gauge instead of a set rule can be beneficial by helping with target priority and anticipating actions. When I see a red player (low efficiency) I know that they'll probably pull out of cover too far so I can have a nice shot on their side before they can return fire or pull back. Likewise if I see a unicum (highly skilled player) I know he'll probably be in a position where he can deal / spot the most damage while taking the least amount. The unicum might go somewhere and just get blasted before he can do anything or the red guy may be in a spot where he can just blast people in the side.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

World of Tanks: Gold rounds and you

So we've all know that gold rounds can be purchased for tanks with credits making them widely available to the masses. However there seems to be people who don't understand gold rounds based on the complaints I see thrown out in battle and the lack of them during competitive play. The first is that using gold rounds is not cheating. You can use only gold rounds in your tanks and get all the penetrations you couldn't before so aiming becomes less of an issue, however due to the cost you'll probably be losing credits.

You can also decide to use no gold rounds at all, however when facing a heavily armored tank and not being able to penetrate it can cost you valuable experience due to the lack of damage because of missing weak spots.It is a balance since too much gold rounds will lose you credits, and not enough can see you facing up against opponents you can't hurt easily enough when you have to hurt them. However I can not go into just gold rounds without talking about the other kinds of ammunition.

AP / Standard Ammo
So the standard ammo for your tank which is usually AP though some tanks have APCR (T71) is your bread and butter ammo. (Artillery's is HE) You'll want to load most of your rounds in this ammo type, probably about 65% depending on how much ammo your tank holds. (swings from 50% to 80%) The reason why you want to have it loaded the most is that it costs the least amount of credits and is generally up for the job vs most of the tanks you'll fight against. For tanks you can't hurt easily we'll be getting into what ammo to use for those later.

High explosive rounds are best used on Artillery and Derps. A Derp gun is an artillery gun on a tank like the KV-2's 152 mm M-10 which does 910 damage with 86 pen on the HE rounds. For most tanks out there HE is worthless to bring except for a small handful of rounds if you are not using an artillery gun. This is primarily for making sure you deal some damage (even if it is just track damage) to someone who is on cap. You'll probably never use them, but hey they are there in case you have troubles dealing damage to a guy capping who is angled.

Gold rounds (Anything round you can buy with gold)
For normal tanks I generally run with about 30% gold shells (APCR or HEAT). A lot of times I won't need them like in a KV-1S in a Medium tank company however when I meet up with something that is harder to pen I like to switch over to gold rounds. My best example is my IS-6 vs another IS-6, I can pen him if I try but due to angling, wiggling, and the low pen of the gun I'd prefer just to switch to gold rounds and hit him on the flattest surface. (IS-6's armor can still easily bounce another IS-6's gold rounds) Now for artillery since they are so different then normal tanks I'm going to talk about their gold rounds separately.

  • HE : Increases splash range which is very sexy and will probably be your main gold rounds in artillery. This is because you're more likely to deal higher damage through a splash hit vs your regular He rounds because of the way splash damage is calculated.
  • HEAT : Great for low tier high accuracy artillery like the SU-26, it has no splash damage so you need to hit hull to deal damage (sometimes you get those annoying track only hits) however compare the damage between an SU-26's HE and HEAT rounds on a KV-1S (20 and 200 respectfully) you can see the merits of it. For my SU-26 I load about 50% gold or 75% gold depending on if I'm playing Pubs, Medium Tank Companies, or Junior Tank Companies.
  • AP : Your regular AP round but with crazy pen and damage. It is mostly only useful with high accuracy artillery like HEAT since it does not splash. I load a few (4ish) in my Obj.212 since I have shell room while I don't load any in my S-51 because of its very limited shell count and accuracy. However when those hit you're pretty much killing anything in 1 to 2 shots.

  1. About a 66% standard, 33% gold, and 1% HE is a very effective split.
  2. HE or Gold rounds should be used to reset base. You do not want to lose because of a bounce. on that 99% captured base
  3. Gold rounds have different tracers
  4. Only load gold rounds in tournaments, I bet you the other team will have them loaded.
  5. Even though they are expensive, you don't have to use them. But having them will definitely help you.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

World of Tanks: General mods everyone should use

So World of Tanks allows you to modify how pretty much everything in the game is displayed. You can change textures, models, and the gui (graphical user interface) which is your hud. Just press V while in a battle to see what the game is like without it and you'll instantly know what a gui is.

This is however not cheating except modifying tracers (only think I know of that is frowned upon by war gaming). This is because s all the "if you hit and is that guy visible" calculations are done server side. So even if you changed a tanks model you'll still only hit it if the server says you do.

The three mods I suggest most of all before getting into the optional ones are the following...

Jimbo's crosshair mod (or any other ones). You'll know exactly how long it takes to reload in seconds (like 2.40) instead of guessing based on that bar filling up. Another nice feature includes things like about how long an artillery shells takes to travel and your health in % encase you forget to check, which I do. It is also fun to watch your reload speed drop as your crew levels up.

Accurate Damage Indicator is a mod that changes the visuals for when you are hit so instead of a vague area you'll see exactly what direction you where hit from. This is nice because when you line the indicator to the top of your screen, the guy who shot you was directly forward (it doesn't tell you vertical position) so with a good guess, you can hit them back without even seeing them!

Damage Panel.
This is more preference and harder to pin down but it offers some HUGE features that makes your survivability a lot greater.
  • When you are set on fire, the "YOU'RE ON FIRE" message can be moved and enhanced so that you'll notice right when you are hit (I have it right below my cross-hairs and large enough that I can't miss it)
  • It will record the damage you suffer from each impact so you can see if you are getting hurt badly or not (When you die in a single second and you're wondering WTF hit me and you see 6 different impacts, you'll know half their team just wiped you off the face of the earth.)
  • Module repair speed in seconds (oh hey my tracks will be fixed in 2 seconds exactly, I have time before that guy reloads)
Finally a Mini-map mod that have a few select options. For me there are certain aspects that makes it extremely handy for artillery and getting into range of certain things.
  • Artillery range Circle which shows you the maximum range your artillery can hit on a level plain.
  • Max Draw Distance Circle, which shows you how far you can actually see an enemy tank.
  • Max View Range Circle (445 or something) which shows how far view range will calculate up to.
  • Tank direction line which shows a line that points from the front of your tank, mostly for angling.
  • Look direction line which used with the accurate damage indicator can show you an exact line between you and that guy somewhere along it that hit you. It is also good to help with angling in sniper mode
  • Gun Traverse lines. This is nice for artillery and TD's as you can line up your tank so you can hit an enemy easier by showing you where they'll be outside of your firing arc.
Beyond these three mods there are many different types that can be helpful such as making dead tanks white so living tanks don't blend in with them as much, removing the black borders while zoomed in, and xvm. All of these can be helpful but they do not influence the game as much as the above four do however I will talk about XVM before I wrap up this post.

XVM is a mod for the game that tells you about how effective people are in world of tanks and allows you to view information about them and their tanks differently in battle. One of the neatest features in xvm that seems to be bundled with it is a cap timer display that shows you how many seconds is left until the enemy or you captures the cap. The thing to keep in mind is a players Efficiency is just a gauge and will not show you how badly one player could be and how good another can be in this match. This is one of the bad things about XVM is that it can make you over or under confident and more likely to lose because you wouldn't be playing the best you can.

I wouldn't recommend XVM to everyone mostly because it is not needed and will hinder them more then it will help them until they understand the game and how to use XVM as a gauge instead of law. I've seen XVM rate teams with only a 5% chance of winning and we've rolled the other team with only losing two to three tanks, and I've also seen people drown themselves because it was a 5% chance of winning. I'll probably be writing up a post solely about XVM shortly to help explain about its finer points and why I love it.

World of Tanks: Crew Skills

For many who are new to World of Tanks you'll probably not know a lot about how crew skills work and what ones to get for your tanks. Hopefully this guide will help educate most of you on what the different skills actually do for your tank and help you prioritize the order you want to achieve those skills. So without wasting any more time let me start. Some small single sentence things before I do though. Use gold to drop skills, the battles it takes to catch up isn't really worth it. Also when you drop a skill it will reset all of your skills so you can switch their order around or pick completely different skills to take their place. This is good to train perks when you have more then 2 crew skills since you can use a normal skill up to 100% and then switch it out with a perk so you're not wasting those thousands of battles.

Types of Crew Skills
The first thing I should talk about is the different types of crew skills, which there are three. The first type of crew skill is a skill which take effect when you have at least 1% training. So if you have a skill that increases your guns accuracy by 10% when it is fully learned, at 25% training your guns accuracy will be 2.5% better. The second type are called perks and they only come into effect when they reach 100%, so if you have a perk that makes you reload 10% faster and the perk has only been trained to 99%, you'll reload speed will still be the same until you reach that last percent. The final crew skill is Brothers In Arms, it is defined as a perk in the game however due to special rules I classify it as its own type. BIA only takes effect when every crew member has it trained to 100%, so even if a single crew member has only 50% BIA it will NOT WORK.

How long does it take!
The second thing to consider is how long it takes to get each skill. If you get on average 700 experience for each battle it will take you 300 battles to max out your first crew skill, 600 more battles for your second skill, and 1,200 more battles for your third skill. So reflectively to get 100% on four crew skills you'll need about 4,500 battles at 700 average experience (not including the battles it takes to finish your Major Training to even pick your first crew skill). Technically you can get every single perk and skill your crew member can learn 100%, however the amount of battles it will take is makes that goal unrealistic to most crews so the best idea is to plan for your first three / four crew skills. I'd also never train a perk that I wanted from 0 to 100% unless it was one of my first two crew skills.

Default Layouts
These will go up to the 3rd skill since beyond that is mostly situational.

  1. Brothers in Arms
  2. Repair
  3. Smooth Ride / Off Road, Snap Shot, Sixth Sense / Jack of all Trades
  4. Camouflauge / Fire Fighting
Your goal is to increase effectiveness of moving and shooting, most of the time you wont have the luxury to take aim while wiggling your hull or peek-a-booming around a corner. Because being tracked in the open can mean a death sentence for you since most of the action you'll be facing involves having multiple tanks within spitting distance. A single tracking can allow a tank to get behind you or allowing multiple tanks to hit you while your exposed (mostly because you poked out of a corner to get a shot before backing up to reload). For me I usually save repair for my 3rd skill and my commander / driver train something different.

Snipers (TD's)
  1. Camouflage + Sixth Sense / Brothers in Arms
  2. Camouflage + Sixth Sense / Brothers in Arms
  3. Clutch Breaking, Designated Target, Repair
  4. Off Road, Smooth Ride, Snap Shot, Dead eye
Your goal is to stay hidden and increase your accuracy and damage. Since you'll mostly be sitting behind the front lines and with tank destroyers camo bonus you'll want to take full advantage of it. A TD in the woods is a scary thing to face since you'll have to be practically be on top of them before they are spotted. For the 3rd and 4th skills you'll be focusing on things like dealing damage and turret-less weakness, not having a turret. Off Road and Clutch breaking on TD's since you'll want to turn as fast as you can to shoot that guy circling you in the ass. Dead eye and Designated Target are also nice editions since you'll be able to keep that guy who was spotted lit two seconds longer and that 3% better chance of dealing critical damage is especially nice when considering that is per each module your shell hits, which can be more then one!


  1. Brothers in Arms
  2. Camouflage + Sixth Sense
  3. Clutch Breaking / Off Road, Repair
  4. Off Road / Clutch Breaking
So besides that sexy increase for Reload and Zooming in from BIA you'll want to increase vehicle rotation rate / movement. Everything else is kinda moot as you'll probably die in the first shot anyway. Turning the tank faster though means you can start zooming in at a new location faster. I might say smooth ride and snap shot would be interesting too, especially with an SU-26. Just remember that things like Dead-eye and Designated Target do not work in Strategic mode.

  1. Camo + Sixth Sense / BIA
  2. BIA / Camo + Sixth Sense
  3. Repair, Recon + Situational Awareness, Designated Target
  4. Off road, Call for Vengeance
You want to spot and know when you've been spotted. To this end anything to help you keep spotting is great! I say camo fast because light tanks keep their camo while moving so with a 100% camo crew they'll be able to spot a lot more often without being shot at. Call for Vengeance and Designated Target are just little bonus things to help prolong spotting since those two extra seconds can mean the difference between an artillery / sniper getting a shot or not. Sixth Sense is a god send since knowing when you're spotting means you can turn your ass down that cliff, get an idea where tanks are even if you didn't spot, and if you are seen while passively spotting behind a bush with binocs means the difference between being killed and living long enough to help your team even longer.

Situational / Other
  • Preventative Maintenance if you get tired of being set on fire.
  • Safe Stowage and Adrenaline Rush are both decent loader skills, I don't list them as they are more a preference but I do have one or both on most of my brawlers in the 2nd slot.
  • Eagle Eye is just a waste of time since it doesn't add as much benefit as most of the stuff a commander can get. It can be cool to use to see if someone's ammo rack or turret is busted so you know you have more time to work with between him shooting you, but it is just a gimmick really.
  • Recon and other signal and sight boosting things unless on a scout doesn't really need it unless their signal or sight is naturally too low for you. Boosting your snipers view range can make you hit people sooner or when you normally can't see them, but it is more of a 4th / 5th skill.
  • I think Intuition is pretty rubbish since I don't want to try switching a round and losing my loaded one in the process. It might be worth it in an auto loader if it reloaded all the shells in a clip at once from a half empty one but other then that...
  • Controlled Impact, Sexy on a KV-5 but the conditions are kind of obtuse.

Too Long; Didn't Read
  1. Plan for your first three / four crew skills, everything after that is unrealistic on most skills.
  2. Perks only work when they are 100% trained while skills work the second they are 1% trained.
  3. Pretty much the holy grail is BIA, repair, camo
  4. Sixth Sense is amazing, and Jack of all Trades is my next favorite for a commander
  5. Snap shot and Dead eye are my defaults for my gunner if I don't use repair first
  6. For my driver usually Smooth Ride and Off road, controlled and clutch breaking usually takes second place to camo and repair for me.
  7. Radio guy gets situational and that is about it, generally I don't care about radio range since I'm brawling most of the time and I'm close enough most of the time.
  8. For my loaders I just pop on safe stowage just to drop that chance of being one shot and then go straight for repair and camo and fire fighting before bothering with a 2nd loader only skill.
  9. I'm going to be adding more to this post later.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

World of Tanks: Equipment

So some of you might be asking yourself, "Gee I wish I was as tank savvy as Serge is and has his amazing alcohol to blood ratio!" Well yo are in luck since I shall treat you to a completely different statement, "Gee Willickers I have no idea what equipment to put on my tank, woe is me."

Please note that this is mainly based on your needs, pick the stuff based on what you decide is most important.

Default Scout
  • Suspension (less chance of being tracked for T-50 mostly)
  • Coated Optics (Spot things further and faster)
  • Toolbox / Binoculars (Repair tracks faster / spot more no matter if you are moving or sitting)

Passive Scout
  • Binoculars (you're sitting in a bush just close enough to spot)
  • Camouflage net (Don't want to be seen)
  • Optics (While driving to the bush, you can see if someone might spot you)

  • Rammer (More damage)
  • Vents (More Damage and Accuracy)
  • Vertical / Toolbox (Easier to hit crap / Less being tracked)

  • Rammer (More Damage)
  • Vents (More Damage and Accuracy)
  • Camonet / Binocs (Don't get shot / Spot tanks for yourself while sitting behind yer bush)

  • Rammer (My devil the reload speed bonus is AMAZING)
  • Gun laying (My god that aim time reduction)
  • Camo net / Spall liner (half a second safer from scouts / less likely to be killed due to country arty splash)
  • BONUS: If your artillery can get vents, get it! (Obj. 212 as an example)

 Breakdown of each module
Image Name Role Modules Why
Net Sniper / Passive Scout / SPG 3rd +25% for camo rating while stationary, best on TD and snipers supporting behind a bush.
Binocs Scouts / Campers 3rd The biggest disadvantage is that you have to stay still to get the view range bonus. In heavies and meds you'll be moving too often to be useful.
Toolbox All but SPG's 3rd +25% repair is AMAZING on all tanks and until you need the 3rd module this is highly recommended just because that 25% could be the difference between a fatal blow to your side and backing up behind that building.
Spall Liner Big Ass Tanks and SPG's 3rd Decrease (counter) arty damage from splash / Derp protection / decrease ram damage for those silly buggers.
Wet Ammo Certain Tanks 3rd If your tank gets ammo racked and blows up a lot and you have not learned safe stowage then you'll want this.
Engine Filter Certain Tanks 3rd +50% engine health so it helps stop it from being set on fire or killed as often.
Fuel CO2 Certain Tanks 4rd +50% fuel tank health, Same as the engine one, get if the fuel tank gets set on fire a lot.
Suspension Scouts and certain tanks 1th / 3rd Suspension can mean the life or death of scouts, and certain tanks like a Churchill where your tracks are very far out there can benefit greatly from this.
Gun Rammer Anyone Shooting 1st -10% reload rate will boost your damage, experience, kills, and survivability a great deal. That 1~10 seconds boost to reload is a blessing.
Enhanced Aiming SPGs 2nd SPG's LOVE it with their 30 second aim times. It can be put on other tanks but should be the 3rd module as a lot of tanks can use something better.
Vertical Stabilizer Brawlers 2nd If you do any kind of moving and shooting get this if you can, that 20% less movement penalty will mean you are incredibly more accurate when moving like during a peek-a-boo
Coated Optics Scouts and 3rd module 2nd / 3rd Amazing for scouts and those that decide to use their 3rd module slot for spotting the enemy that small amount further.
Grousers Certain Tanks 4th So you have better traction, maybe good on the artillery but meh.
Ventilation All Tanks 2nd +5 crew efficiency means everything is better. This includes Mentor.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mordheim Warband: Cult of the Possessed

Cult of the Possessed

Forsaken (10 bodies)

Free Company (20 bodies)
Flagellants (10 bodies)

Why These
After the new chaos release the perfect box for your possessed warband's heroes has emerged! All of that lovely mutation from cloven hooves, great claw, extra arms, tentacles, etc is pretty much all there. Besides the beautiful models you'll have all of your heroes in a single box with options to switch them out with different builds. I also suggest either getting Flagellants or Free Company (Empire Militia) is for your henchmen. The Free Company box will of course give you a larger selection of equipment for you to field while the Flagellants box just has some crazy people that goes perfectly with this warband. Either way your warbands heroes will really stand out and you will be feared after your model count goes above four.

Possessed is a slow warband to start due to their high cost heroes since they are 380 gold minimum without equipment for all five heroes. That is also just taking the cheapest mutations which you'll probably want something a bit better like Scorpion Tail. One of the strategies I've read about which I'll probably try in a campaign is just taking the Magistrate, two Mutants with Scorpion Tails, and a naked brethren. Then for the first few games I'll send the brethren to die and rout. Not very interesting but since I'd get the underdog bonus in almost all the matches I'll be able to level my mutants very fast and I'll have enough rounds to get a possessed or two and with that I'll have strong enough heroes to wreck.

For myself I grabbed a box of Forsaken and am currently in the process of deciding what legs should go with what bodies, but I feel the more deformed combinations will be saved for my Possessed while my Mutants and Magistrate will get the less mutated models respectively to set them all apart.

After looking at the mutations table, I'd love to have 400 gold to hire a single Possessed or Mutant with! I can just imagine what a hero would be like with Great Claw, Scorpion Tail, and an Extra Arm as his mutations. Three extra attacks in combat will absolutely destroy. Out of all of them the Scorpion Tail will probably give you the best results since it is S5 by default. Another thing to remember is that Possessed already cause fear so remember not to give them that mutation.

All in all the Cult of the Possessed has some nasty heroes that can absolutely ruin someone's day if you spend some gold on them.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

World of Tanks: When to Zoom in and out

So throughout my World of Tanks travels I've noticed that a lot of times I've missed easy shots due to using the third person camera. It happens a lot more then I'd like due to certain situations like when I'm rubbing tanks. There are also times when I've missed a shot because I've tried using the sniper mode when I could have just looked at my target in third person and shot. In a lot of situations you'll know when to trade off the area awareness of being able to see the area around your tank and the precision of being able to select the exact spot for your cross-hair to hover over. Before I get much further however I'd like to make the distinction of the different phrases I'll be using in this post.
  • Sniper mode = Zooming in using the mouse wheel or shift so that the camera is now centered where your gun's barrel is pointing.
  • Third Person / Normal mode = This is the state where you can see your tank from a third persons perspective.
  • Strategic View (Arty) =  This is the top down view that SPG's get when you press Shift in one of them, it is very handy to use and I generally stay in this view mode 90% of the time.
  • TD Mode = When an enemy tank gets a bit too close I like to leave Strategic View so I can see my artillery in third person (normal mode). Generally I prefer shooting tanks that are close to my artillery in third person instead of a top down perspective since I can see how much of the reticule the tank takes up instead of a ring on the ground around / behind him.
Shooting someone around a corner
In situations where you're pulling around a corner to do a quick peek-a-boom (drive out of cover, shoot, run back behind cover) it is best to zoom in. It could be a building, a large rock, or even those annoying trains that you can't shoot through. This is because of how World of Tanks handles where your barrel should point based on where your cross-hair is pointing on the map from a different view point. I'm pretty sure a lot of you have noticed when you are close to certain objects your gun stays trained on it for a few seconds as you pass it or looks up into the sky for some odd reason (I believe it has to deal with collision boxes).

Pretty much when such time sensitive subjects comes up as poping around a corner between a guys reload. Think of those few seconds it takes for your barrel to turn towards the target, where if you where zoomed in you could already aim directly at where the tank is as soon as you can see it. Those seconds could mean the difference between getting shot / killed and living long enough to get that next shot off. Several times zooming in before I turn a corner has saved me, especially when I notice that my tank decided to look at the second story window instead of where a tank would actually be!

Hugging a Tank
Now I'm sure at some point you've been touching the tank you are shooting at, be it side hugging a tank destroyer to going face to face with another brawler. A lot of times it doesn't matter if you zoom in or out since it is almost impossible to miss, however when your tank is tall and the other tank is short you'll have a pretty good chance of actually shooting over them! When zoomed out you can't really tell if your gun is looking at the tank, or just over it. However when you're in sniper mode and the tank covers all of your reticule you'll know you can hit it unless someone suddenly moves. Too often have I missed easy shots because I didn't bother zooming in to make sure my gun was elevated all the way down to guarantee a hit.

Now after you have shot though you'll want to zoom out as fast as you can. In situations like these angling and where you are can be very important. In a lot of cases while driving a TD a scout or medium decided hugging my side was a good idea, however they didn't pay attention to where we where backing up too and they ran into a house allowing me to scrape them off directly into the path of my gun. Another good part is that you can see where the other tank that is shooting you is looking so you can hopefully turn just enough so his shot bounces off an angled section of hull or is dispersed through your tracks. Since you're reloading anyway knowing what is happening around your tank and its angle is more important then staring at a wall / weak spot when you still have over 3 seconds to reload.

Running all over the place
Now in a lot of maps, especially the new ones there are a LOT of bumps on the ground. For fast tanks or people shooting on the move it becomes increasingly difficult to hit anything while your camera is bouncing up and down on the screen. In situations where I'm running over terrain other then smooth roads I like to shoot from third person. It is easier to keep my cross-hair centered on the middle of the tank I'm shooting at so my chances of hitting him increase compared to clicking the trigger when my tank suddenly dips an inch (and my cross-hair dips a mile).

TD Mode
Now there exists a magic distance in which I switch from strategic view to third person for my artillery. This distance changes a bit based on the terrain around me. Generally though this range is about a map square. You can also avoid those frustrating cases where you happen to hit a parked car or a destructible wall that you couldn't see on the top down view while focused on that tank. Just yesterday I one shot a tank hunting for me in TD mode which I'd probably miss in Strategic because of a destructible object that was in front of me that I just noticed and shifted my pre-aimed location to avoid it of before he came around the corner and died to an arty round to the face.

However TD mode is less reliable the further the enemy tank is since you'll want to see how far you may overshoot him or under shoot him. In cases where I get a chance to pre-aim or he's around a grid square away or further I'd stay in strategic. The chances of overshooting is higher but with pre-aiming I'll KNOW if I can hit him when he walks over that completely zoomed in circle.

And then there are those obvious occasions when zooming in to sniper mode is a good idea. These include when shooting over 100m (sniping), aiming for specific weak spots like the commanders hatch, and other occurrences where you need to hit a certain spot. As you play the game you'll notice the different situations where you'll need to enter sniper mode to get a hit, and then there are also those times where you have to zoom out into third person to focus more on maneuvering your tank.