Updated Mon, Apr 11, 2011 by Stow
When it comes to Tank battles, only a few games have taken a remotely realistic view of them. Then World of Tanks comes along and adds location specific damage, a different architecture and hit box for every tank, and more variables than you can shake a stick at. It’s easy to get into because everyone can drive and shoot like a madman, but when you start playing it to win in platoons or team battles, you’ll find that this is much more deep than your standard arcade shooter!
Games are extremely quick to get into. Just a quick tap of the Battle! button at the top of your screen and you’ll instantly be in the queue to fight. Battles are fairly large scale, usually in the ballpark of 15v15. It’s rare, but if you’re queueing at odd times of the night in a high level tank, you might get a smaller 5v5 skirmish from the quick battle button. Teams are automatically balanced by tank ‘tier’ and role. Each side will generally get an equal level of tanks, artillery, and tank destroyers, preventing most of the crying that happens in role based games when one side is loaded up with a class. Want to queue with friends? No problem, you and two buddies can join the normal battle queue together. If you want to get more together though, you’ll need to form either a full team, or just split up sadly. It’s a good thing to prevent stacked teams via cooperation/voice chat, but it’s disappointing to be the odd man out sometimes.
The game will always try and make fair teams by picking the same amount of tanks from each tier and type. One side may get more heavy tanks, or tank destroyers, but you can plan strategies around that during the 30 second pre-game.
The big team warfare in particular is something to get excited about. Multiple tournament formats are emerging, and a point system has emerged to prevent everyone from running around in maxed out heavy tanks. Teams have to pick and choose the right tanks, and right players for those tanks, when they execute their strategy. Battles of this format often result in crazy strategies, such as mass artillery and tank destroyer defense, medium tank hordes pushing down a road killing all in their path to the soft artillery underbelly, and psycho light tanks tearing around the map harassing bigger tanks like a swarm of bees. It's as fun to watch as it is to participate!
The Fervor of Combat - A typical round
One of my favorite tanks is the Panzer IV. It's a Tier 5 Medium tank that has below average speed, but one of its gun options is a massive howitzer capable of blowing a hole in anyone. Here's an idea of what I go through in a typical round.
Most maps have several 'lanes', think of them as paths that people tend to pass through. Fighting on a map consists of getting to a channel, evaluating a situation, and advancing or defending as the situation warrants. Since my tank is slower than average, I trail the speedy lights and USSR mediums as they surge forward along the west side into the sandy dunes. Dunes are an amazingly complex area, with several mounds, they serve as both cover from direct fire, and make life difficult on artillery to target you on the far side of one. However, it also makes it difficult to advance and leads to several standoffs.
The scouts meet in the southwest corner of the hilly dunes, and my minimap lights up with potential targets. Unfortunately, my engine being lacking, hills are not kind to me. Making an offensive move is difficult when your top speed is cut 75% trying to tackle any kind of elevation. I stick to the valleys between the dunes and we're in a bad spot. The enemy outnumbers us down here, and I watch a light tank in front of me eat a shell that blows off his tracks. He fights back, but the enemy retreats behind the hilly dunes in between shots. Getting your mobility removed is a death sentence, especially if artillery is involved, and a shell rains from the sky into his turret and down he goes.
An example of using a hill to your advantage. My buddy and I are impervious to the enemies on the other side, and if they try and take the hill, we'll have free shots on their hulls as they come over the top.
The good news is that I've got some extra cover to work with. Destroyed allies and enemies will block shots, and the Panzer IV is a fairly compact package. Sporting a small hitbox, I'm able to park directly behind it and take shots on people as they come into view. I don't have to move to ge behind cover, so my accuracy is perfect, or well, as perfect as this howitzer can get. Firing this gun on the move and hitting a target at medium range is about as likely as winning a carnival game.
All I have to do is wait until they show enough of their tank to hit part of it and I'll take the shot. Boom, down goes a M3 Lee, one shot. Another pops its head out, and another round is fired--missed high. His shot nails my dead comrade in front and does nothing. I get ready for the killing blow, and an artillery shell flies overhead and explodes a foot behind me, doing minor damage but damaging my tracks. With my movement crippled, and the artillery inevitably loading up another shot, I know I need to get moving and take out whoever I can before another shot or two finishes me off. I charge the valley, soak up a heavy damage shot to my front end, and delay my blast until I know he has almost reloaded in order to get as close as possible. I let loose another round and it goes right through him.
Or so I'd like to say. My hesitation for a more accurate close range shot was my downfall, as the artillery lands a shell that kills my driver and finishes off my left track. As my crew scrambles to cover for the driver and get the track back up to a working condition, the enemy backs off further into the dunes for cover knowing I'm immobilized and another artillery round finishes me off. Bastards! Fortunately, I had some backup tanks behind me that were able to penetrate the line and eventually take out that artillery and win the round.