Sunday, April 21, 2013

World of Tanks: Tank Companies

Since non-premium accounts can create tank companies in the upcoming 0.8.5 patch I think it would be a good idea to talk a bit about the basics of creating and operating a tank company. To start out you'll have four choices of tank companies to run, Junior at tier 4, Medium at tier 6, Champion at tier 8, and Absolute at tier 10. Currently most tank companies that are running are mediums, however when the patch comes out we'll probably see a lot more junior and champion tank companies popping up. Now before I get started I'd like to state that I'll be focusing on medium tank companies the most with this post since I know them the best.

Starting A Tank Company
To start a tank company you need two things. The first one is players which you either get from clan and friend invites or from random players joining while the tank company is open. The second thing you need is a caller who directs your troops into battle. Without these two things you'll be losing a whole lot more then you'll be winning. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is forming a tank company without either yourself or a friend / clan mate being the caller as tank companies need organization with the smaller number of tanks and more organized teams out there. Tank companies are not random battle and if everyone goes off and does their own thing then you'll be grossly outmatched.This is why I say you should NEVER form a tank company unless you are going to call the battle plan. Also if you are going to call you'll need a microphone since typing in orders will be too slow.

Besides having a caller and getting people you'll need to fill up your point limit (60 for mediums). To start it out lets go with your 10 heavies and then subtract from that to fill in the different types of tanks that will benefit the callers and the tankers play styles the most. You can run with just 10 KV-1S's however you'll be handicapping yourself a lot unless your team can make up for the one sided approach and lack of synergy.
Besides your main force you'll want some sort of flankers or reactionary force such as two or three hellcats. Their tank destroyer benefits to camouflage along with their more poke you in the side attitude works well with a KV-1S blob. The can be passive scouts behind bushes or sit to the side and hit targets in their rear.

Another thing you'll want depending on the layout is some artillery and a scout to not only light up targets but to have that constant added pressure. Generally you'd sacrifice two heavies for a pair of artillery and a scout. The artillery can reach out and touch someone by providing needed damage to a target while the scout keeps the team updated on enemy movements and lets them take a lot more shots then they could before.

However you decide to build your tank company figure out what roles you need and pick the tanks based on that such as an artillery to hit those dug in tanks or maybe a T-50 if you losing because your tanks never have anything to shoot at.

While in battle and your calling the match with your microphone remember to ping the map with ctrl + click to better show people where to go. Seeing G5 light up while you tell the heavies to go there makes it easier for them to know what you're talking about. Your job as a caller is to get tanks where they need to be when they need to be, if the drivers can't kill their target then its their fault but if they don't have a target or are in the wrong place, it is solely your fault. Lets say you have your whole tank force push the valley on Lakeville while leaving the city and center open and a T-50 gets into the base and kills the artillery, it is your fault for not stationing some defense there. However if the whole team gets stopped by a single tank destroyer and completely fails to push through the valley even though you're telling them too, it is their fault. However instead of just being a single tank destroyer but a heavily entrenched force that stopped and massacred your push, then it was your fault for not calling that properly by ordering it, or not reacting to it properly.

The goals to winning is map presence and awareness along with the application of force. Knowing where the enemy tanks are lets you position your tanks to counteract what they are doing. For me the biggest thing while calling is having a better application of force by having more guns pointed in the same direction then the other guy. Lets take an example with assault on Sand River. If you place all of your tanks on that dune while attacking so you can see the enemy cap and you send your scout to get lights (which hopefully he'll be smart and light up 1 or 2 tanks and book it to safety instead of driving onto the cap and dying) You'll have all of those tanks and artillery ready to fire on the one or two tanks that are spotted / ready to fire back. If that one or two volley of shells kills or injures a few tanks and your team barely gets touched, then you're ahead. Now lets say half their team went up the hills and towards the 8/9 line of the map to defend from there. If you push all your tanks along the 1/2 line and have all those guns pointed at the small number of defending tanks on that side of the map chances are you'll wipe them out before the rest of the team can get enough barrels on your troops.

Anyway I hope some of this has helped some of you, and for those of who who don't want to read it all...
  • If you start a tank company without already having someone as a caller, you better be calling yourself or you should not have started a tank company.
  • Have a microphone for calling.
  • When calling remember to have map presence / awareness and use a greater application of force then the other guy, aka more putting your tanks in positions where they're fighting 2 on 1, or even better 5 on 1.
  • If you join a tank company and the leader says "Okay who's calling" leave.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

World of Tanks: Maneuvering

As requested by a clan mate, I'm going to write a little post about moving around the map, especially in related too moving your little tank butt in relation to other tanks on your team. Now this might seem silly to devote a whole post too but way too many people don't seem to grasp how close is too close to an allied tank and will start hampering mobility. Generally in relation to team mates I follow two simple rules. The first is that you don't hamper back and forth movement by being directly behind a tank so they can retreat after taking a shot or pulling forward so they can take a shot. The second is to give enough side to side room so they can wiggle their tank.

Rule 1: Never be directly behind someone!
This is very important and covers a lot of situations, the first being is that if you are on a corner and three enemy tanks start pulling around it and you take your shot, you'll be backing up as fast as you can so they can't hit you back or lure them into your teams range of fire. If a tank is blocking you from pulling back then you're stuck with bullet holes in the side of your tank. Worst of all for the guy behind you is that if your tank isn't blocking the shot, your body pushing against theirs will sure make them more likely to miss making the damage you're about to take all the more pointless.

Another situation is you're driving to a position and the tank in front is going the same way, for whatever reason he decides to stop such as taking a shot or because he was hit by artillery the last place you'll want to be is sniffing his tail pipe. For one if he's lining up a shot you'll ruin his aim, and for two anyone shooting him has perfect shots on your stationary tank. (Also artillery is less likely to miss two targets)

Rule 2: Give tanks wiggle room!
I'm sure we've all been there where someone parked so close to your side that when you moved to angle your armor you've been blocked by doing so, or even when you turned your hull a little before pulling back and being stopped because your new angle caused you to grind up against the tank next to you. This is a bad situation to be in since you can't protect yourself as usefully as you'd want due to all the reasons listed in the last section, but also because side hugging an ally means that artillery will have an even easier time to hit one of you, and also the entire time you grind you'll be ruining accuracy. Generally I give about half a T-50's width or more depending on the tanks.

Taking that corner
Now with those two rules out of the way lets go into different situations and how to best move in them. To start that out lets talk about swinging around a corner to shoot someone or to push on them. Most tanks can just pull straight out, shoot, and then pull back but doing so will expose your weak side armor at a horrible angle meaning they'll more then likely deal damage to you or even track you in that very vulnerable state. This is why you always want to take a corner at an angle along the lines of 30~50 degrees so that more of your front is exposed then your side. This is especially true for tank destroyers, you want your barrel facing them as soon as possible so they should take a wider turn to compensate for not having a turret. (when you poke out you're barrel will be closer to the target compared to hugging the corner and turning after you expose yourself)

Driving past the Enemy
A lot of times when I am in a close up battle I tend to drive past the guy I'm brawling unless I can easily win in a face to face match. This is because not only do they have to turn their turret to hit me but unless they want to give me an easy shot into their side or rear armor they'll start angling their tank so their aim will be as disrupted as mine. Also if you have allies following your push either you or them will have beautiful shots on the side / rear of their tank or turret since they'll have to choose who to shoot at.

Being circled
Besides backing up to some wall / cover if a tank is moving fast around you, you'll probably have to turn your tank along with your turret to hit them. The best way to get their tank in front of your barrel if they insist on circling you is to imagine their path as a circle and your goal is to make that circle as big as possible so they have to travel a longer distance. If they are driving past me I go forward and turn so they have to make a sharper turn to get away from my gun while. Mix it up with whatever makes your barrel turn toward them the fastest like standing still or moving forward / backwards. Just make sure your barrel is NEVER rotating in the opposite direction of your tank, it will crawl slowly and take way longer then it should. A hellcat turning left and rotating its barrel right will actually make the gun slowly turn left because the turn speed is faster then the turret rotation speed.

If artillery can see you
First of all, do not sit still unless you have enough vertical cover to block artillery shots, like a 100 story mountain or hugging a 3 story house. The next thing is to move and don't do it in a straight line. As an artillery player the only thing easier to hit then a stationary target is one that is moving in a straight line. All I have to do is guess where your tank will be in 1~2 seconds (based on range) and BOOM splash or direct hit most of the time. If you veer slightly to the left then right, then right again artillery is much more likely to miss since just a few degrees of a turn can mean you're a whole tank length away from where the artillery is aimed at. Also being on the opposite side of a hill is good since there is less are for the artillery shell to splash near you since a little bit low means its hitting the top of the hill while a little bit high means it is hitting the bottom of the hill and no where near your tank on the middle of the slope.

  • Give people room to back up
  • Give people room to rotate their tank
  • If you think you're spotted, don't stand still and don't move in a straight line
  • Use hills for cover and to make it harder for artillery to splash you
  • Turn your tank while something is circling you
  • Drive forward / backwards to try and make the tank circling you take longer
  • Don't turn your barrel and your tank in different directions.
  • Finally, don't touch allied tanks, especially if the are shooting something.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

World of Tanks: Artillery Explained

After being fed up with how often I see people complain about artillery I think I should explain more about their dynamics beyond the perception people get that they are just 1 shot killing machines. Artillery may not require as much "skill" in certain aspects of the game but to be truly effective you'll have to master a very frustrating skill, relying on your team. Artillery by itself unless it knows where you're coming from and can funnel you in front of its barrel will almost always lose a 1 on 1 engagement. Artillery has to be an ambush tank when facing off in head to head matches because of their extremely low accuracy unless you are too close to miss. Most people see artillery as free kills when they are spotted because generally they are.

Where artillery really shines is shooting long range thanks to their arched trajectory and the strategic map. However this comes at a price because of the ranges involved and the reliance on team mates to not only spot targets, but having them spot the targets you can hit and where you need to hit. Because of the lower muzzle velocity of the artillery shells they'll arrive slower meaning that the tank you just shot at normally has over a second to move, and that is generally how long it takes for your shot to completely miss. To better go on about this without adding lots of bias and long winded paragraphs, I'll try to break it up into aspects of the artillery and say the good and bad of them in a sentence or two.

Shell Trajectory
Good : It can hit tanks behind obstacles that block direct fire.
Bad : If a tank moves backwards or forwards your shot will miss a lot more often unless you compensate for it because you are aiming at a location, not a direction.

High Damage
Good : You can generally deal more damage then other tanks your tier per shot
Bad : This is balanced by long reload and aim times meaning you'll generally do less damage in the long term unless you're given the time and the targets to make each of your rounds count.

Splash Damage
Good : Even if you missed which 50% of the time you'll probably do, you'll at least do some damage and hopefully track the tank you're shooting or even hitting multiple tanks. This is very nice since it helps balance out the inaccuracies of trying to hit a tank by picking a spot on the ground to shoot.
Bad : Because of the bad accuracy at range, the splash will generally see a lose in vital damage you need to deal. And if a friendly tank happens to get too close to your target you could end up paying for his or hers repair bill.

Long Range Support
Good : Due to the mechanics you can sit far away from the battle and contribute to the war effort along with being able to shift your support across most of the battle field in under half a minute.
Bad : Because of the mechanics and the range, you'll see your shots increasingly miss due to accuracy, the target moving, or even your team killing them in the two seconds it takes your shell to hit the ground.

Close Encounters
Good : You can set up a trap and whamp someone when they run in front of your barrel
Bad : Unless you can pull off a 1 hit kill or you have team support, you're dead.

In Game : SU-26 is tier 3, grille is tier 4, and an S-51 is a tier 6 artillery.
Actual : Due to special matchmaking these artillery are actually tiers 4, 6, and 8 respectively. So when you see a Tier 5 artillery, think of it as a tier 6~7 instead.

Anyway is artillery overpowered? Yes when viewed in a bubble however an artillery in the game has very little power to influence how a battle can turn out unless it can take out those key tanks at the key moments. So now I'm going to go onto a short list of general artillery tips to hopefully make yourself better at it.
  • Use the X button, it will save you a lot of potential damage since that hair breath of a degree can mean the difference between your reticule blooming out and you getting that shot on a tank.
  • Learn how to lead targets with positioning of your tank's hull and crosshair. The best way is to pick a spot where the target will be and zoom in there instead of following the tank.
  • Reposition often, especially when there are more then two artillery a side. The chance of someone counter-artying and finding an artillery's tracer is drastically increased. Also due to your low health they generally just have to land that shell near you instead of directly on top of you. You only have to move a few meters at a time.
  • Focus on damage over kills, this is side tracked by those tanks you need to kill because they'll tear up your team.
  • Check the minimap often! if you see that scout coming for you prepare for him, he'll probably spot you and shoot you before your team can even hit them. A lot of times you'll get enough time to at least throw a shot at their face before they wrap behind you and kill you.
  • T up your target before you shoot it, (the "I'm shooting this guy key") hopefully your team mates will keep that guy lit / not instantly kill him so your long long reload is ruined.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

World of Tanks: 1 on 1

To best explain the every day one on one engagements I'd like to first boil down an average battle into the different parts that brings us to these engagements. A better title wound be something like 1 on 2 since the only two tanks you'll ever be actively worrying about on a second by second basis is the tank you are actively engaging against (shooting at) and the next tank that will hit you. However I must hold this train of thought for a moment to get down to those two crucial targets.

The Flanks
At the heart of every battle there exists three flanks that all tanks who leave the base / deployment zone go which is either the left, right, or center flank. A few examples include Enks where there is the city (left), Rails (center), and Field (right) while Himmelsdorf has Rails (left), Courtyard / Tank Alley (center), and hill (right). Now from watching you might think certain maps, especially some encounter ones don't have flanks because of the positions of the spawns like steppes but they do (1/2 line, field, cap). Also please keep in mind that certain flanks like the mountain pass in Lakeville where you're between the mountain and the lake is a valid flank, but due to survivability it is seldom used for more then two or three tanks total.

Now out of the 15 tanks on your team lets say three are artillery meaning we're bringing down the total count of tanks that can be on your side of the map down to 12. Out of these we can safely guess (based on map) that about three tanks will head to the center flank, these are generally faster scouter tanks since they want to get early lights (detections) and stop the other scouts from an early base rush to kill artillery. So knocking down another two tanks brings us to a possible 10 which we'll balance between the two exterior flanks (right and left). So lets say your current engagement will be a thrilling five on five (or 8 on 8 if you include artillery)!

Micro Engagements
Even though the current engagement is 5 on 5 due to cover (buildings, terrain, bad gun depression) and reload rates that 5 on 5 can realistically be broken down to 2 on 1 or 1 on 1 micro engagements with just a few seconds between each encounter as another tank reloads or pulls out of cover to take another shot.

So after boiling the battle down to the moment by moment action lets go into the finer details of going through the motions of your tank against theirs. The main thing is keeping your tank from being hurt followed by dealing damage. The longer you live the more you can do so positioning your tank will be your utmost priority, this involves getting into cover, angling your tank, and moving to get a shot.

1 on 1
 The easiest way to die is to have your weak spots shot such as a commanders hatch and the back of your tank. To best protect these and stay alive you'll need focus on the position of your tank in relation to the tank that's shooting you. One of the easiest ways is to use the environment to cover your tank such as being behind a building or rock, or even being on the part of a hill where the enemy tank's gun depression can't reach.

However you'll always be put into the position where your tank will be hit, and in order to minimize the chance of being damage you'll have to angle it. In general my goal while angling is to have the round bounce which generally happens when they hit a piece of armor too thick for their penetration or angled enough that the round actually skips off the side of the tank like a pebble. Besides having this lucky scenario happen my other goal is to have them hit my tracks so that the kinetic energy disperses through my tracks enough that it can't penetrate the side armor. In general this means about a ten degree angle facing slightly away from the enemy tank.

In situations where the enemy tank is behind me however trying to get my front to face them might not be the most viable tactic since they'll get a perfect shot on my side where there are no angles steep enough to induce a bounce. When this happens I try to angle my tanks butt as best as I can so that hopefully they either bounce off my side or disperse in my tracks, it doesn't always work but it is way better then a 100% chance of taking damage if they have a full side shot.

Also remember, always move aka wiggling. The only time to sit still is when everyone that can shoot you can't due to cover or their reloading, otherwise you'll want to continually shift forward / backwards and side to side since if you are sitting still they can aim at your weak spots a lot easier. If you've ever tried hitting the commander hatch on a Super Pershing while it is rocking back and forth from 100m away compared to when it is sitting still you'll see the difference.

So besides using cover (terrain and tanks), angling, and wiggling to protect your tank lets talk about damaging their tank, this will be a bit shorter since the finer points of fighting one on one battles exists in staying alive over dealing damage. Besides sitting in front of the tank and trading blows one of the easiest ways of dealing damage is to just rush past them to get side / ass shots. Of course they'll turn around and shoot you in the side as well if they aren't reloading when you get to that point but especially if you have back up to take advantage of their inability to angle against two directions at once. I do this a LOT against tanks like Super Pershings with my IS-6 since in general it is easier to damage them in the side and I can generally get away with it since they'll focus on getting shots on my side so I can re angle while their busy either focusing on shooting me or re angling themselves.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

World of Tanks : Simple Basics and Tips

So there are some basic tips and information that some newer people would definitely benefit from learning. Hopefully I can contain myself without delving too much into the what and how so people won't get confused by too much techno-babble.

These include things like ammunition, repair kits, fire extinguishers, and chocolate. They are one time use items that you have to either manually purchase or set up to automatically reload after you have use them on your tank (My suggestion is to always turn on automatic resupply). In essence for ammunition I suggest a split of 60~90% regular (default), 10~30% gold (switch it to "buy with credits"), and 0~5 rounds of HE (if it isn't the default).

For the other fancy consumables (4,5,6 keys) I suggest the first aid kit (4), repair kit (5), and a fire extinguisher(6) on every single tank. Believe me that this load out is worth it even on a tier one. The amount of exp and credits you'll lose compared to that 3,000 credit cost for an extinguisher is silly. The first aid on the 4 key to fix your driver fast is great for fast tanks where mobility is life, and the repair kit on the 5 key to fix your tracks fast is also a life saver.

Please note to always turn on automatic resupply, you don't want to enter battle with just 1 HE round loaded.

Your First Gold
So my recommendations on how to use it...
  1. Get about 5~10 tank slots to start with (you'll use them all up fast) 
  2. Get a premium tank
  3. Train a crew to 100% on a tank you use a LOT (preferably one you won't sell for a long while and is higher tier like 4~6)
Converting gold to exterior effects like camo or converting gold to exp / credits is not worth it when you are new. The tank slots will be used and since you can hold more tanks you can grind more different lines while keeping your favorites. For a premium tank it all depends on what you are willing to put into it. A T-127 is a good tier 3 premium since it can bounce pretty much anything auto-loader it will see.If you want something larger an IS-6 or a T34 are great tier 8's while a Ram II is a decent Tier 5. Anyway the reason I say you should get a premium tank is that due to having a credit bonus and cheaper repair costs you will be able to make a lot more credits then with a regular tank. As a note tier 8's generally see 40,000 to 80,000 credit profit per battle with a premium account (50% bonus to credits and exp if your account is premium)

Staying Alive
So you want to stay alive longer so you can deal more damage and earn more exp and credits. My biggest advice is hang back for the first minute or two of the game. Don't just hide in a corner but slightly back from the front lines with a place to hide behind so you can deal damage to enemy tanks while you figure out where to go to deal more damage safely. Never rush straight at the enemy without an advantage like across the field on Malinovka.

One of the easiest ways to stay alive is to not be seen in the first place. If you are shooting in some bushes please remember that all bushes within 15 meters will not hide your tank when you shoot. So if you want to snipe at someone without them seeing you the bush in front of you has to be 100% non-see through. So as long as you can't see through the bush, it will pretty much always grant you a cover / camouflage bonus.

Also when you are spotted and there isn't much physical cover such as buildings you'll probably want to start moving. Unless you know you are not spotted constantly moving is one of the best ways of making sure you don't suffer the shell end of an artillery. I can't count the times I see people just stand still to shoot a tank 2~5 times giving my artillery enough time to zoom all the way in for that perfect shot on their engine block. Rocking back and forth a bit, maybe turning a little to the side as you rock so you're not going into the exact same place every time and keep in mind that artillery might be focusing on you can keep you alive a lot longer.

Angling your tank
Since you have the most armor on the front of your tank you'll want that end facing the guy shooting you. You'll want your tank facing almost directly at the guy shooting you, not directly facing since a 5 to 10 degree angle will increase your effective armor making you slightly harder to kill. If they have a good angle on your rear / side your best bet is to move as you rotate since they'll have to turn their turret as they aim at you giving you a little bit more wiggle room since they'll be just that much more likely to miss.

Some one off tips
  • If someone is moving around you fast, remember that you can turn your tank and your turret at the same time.
  • Remap the fire extinguisher to an easy to reach button like on the mouse so when you are set on fire you can put it out FAST
  • Remap your shift button to an easier one, you'll use to zoom in/out feature a lot and scroll lock sucks.
  • Never run anything under a 75% major qualification crew, the performance difference is just too large.
  • Equipment (vents, rammer, etc) is worth the few million credits, especially on tanks tier 6 and up since you'll be keeping them longer then an hour.
  • If you are camping, do it where you can get shots in. It isn't worth sitting somewhere that won't see action until the battle is over.