Sunday, 12 July 2015

World of Tanks - Intermediate Skills

World of Tanks is all about stats. People judge you on them.  If you are under 48% win rate, people will regard you as a poor player. Under 45% or so, and you will be regarded as a terrible player, good only to be used as a meat shield.

It's presumed you know the mechanics of how armour and camo work - if you don't, go here for links.  This post is for intermediate players - the below average-average players who want to improve their gameplay.  This is the bracket I fall into. The below post is a rehash of others articles I found the most thought-provoking and helpful, primarily Lert's Guides  -with full articles linked.

Don't be a Victim
"I'm always on sucky teams"  "Matchmaker is broken"  "There's nothing I could do"
I'm just one guy of 15.  I can't affect the game much, right?  WRONG.

Fights are never 15v15 tanks sitting in the open blasting at each other.  Assuming a few artillery and a few campers, most battles for a flank are likelier to be 5v5. And due to intervening terrain, those inevitably break up into 3v2 and 1v2 and 1v1 duels.  You'll seldom face more than 2-3 enemy tanks at a time.  Why do we get 15-0 steamroller wins? Because someone wins a 1v1 duel, then joins a friend to make it 2v1, outgunning the new enemy - they then win, and move on to the next enemy with a 3v1 advantage in firepower...  It's a snowball effect.

Every tank matters.   The math is ruthless. If your team loses, you are to blame.  You can control your win rate.

This video is a signature of Sask_Outrider's guides.  Like Lert, his guides have an immense amount of useful tips and tactics.
Stats Matter
The larger the sampling, the more reliable the stats.  If you've played 2000 games and only won 45% of them, the sampling is large enough to be reliable.  The stats reliably point out you are a below-average player.    If you win 550 times out of 1000, it means that 50 times, your superior decision making and tanking skills resulted in a win.  Conversely, winning only 450 out of 1000 means 50 times your poor choices were responsible for the loss. If your KDR is less than 1 and your damage ratio is less than 1, you are not pulling your weight.  Someone else has to "carry" you and do extra kills and damage.   Corollary: Always try to do damage equal to your tank's hit points

Remember: there's a difference between not caring about stats and denying their meaning and significance. And when a game is as stat-centric as WoT, they can be a reliable and useful indicator for improving your play.

There is an interesting phenomenon called the Dunning Kruger Effect (also one of my gamer tags, ironically).  In brief, it says dumb people overestimate their ability - they are too dumb to realise how bad they are.  But what if you're a poor/below average player and you know it?
You know the game mechanics, you know how armour, penetration works.  You even memorised common weak spots to aim for on enemy tanks. But you lose more than you win.... how do we fix this?
A. How to Win - Trading Hitpoints
Each team has 15 tanks. Each tank has armour and hit points. Each tank has guns that remove those hit points.  A tank with 0 hit points is dead has 0 effect on the battle. 

A good player will preserve his (and his team's) hit points while seeking remove the enemy hit points 

This should inform all your decisions.  Where you move, where you shoot, etc...  ...ask yourself:
 "Will this remove enemy hit points while preserving my own?"

This is the single most important thing you will read on this page.

A better breakdown is here.  Read it. Learn it. Live it.  

It seems so commonsense, but if you apply it to all your decisions it will improve your play dramatically. It will help you avoid poor "trades" (i.e. getting in a situation where you lose more HP than you take off the enemy.) The mindset brings with it a lot of good practices, like:
*Spotting is good - it helps team mates remove enemy HP
*Camping base is bad - you preserve your own HP but do not remove enemy HP (and allow enemies to remove allied HP unmolested)
*Taking a hit for a low-HP team mate - preserving their life (and their gun) helps remove enemy HP

Remember, hitpoints are a resource.  Like any resource, they should be traded or spent when it is advantageous to do so. Heavies, for example, are expected to lose some HP when helping to push a flank. What we want to do is trade the fewest of our hitpoints for the most enemy hitpoints possible.

How do you best remove enemy HP whilst retaining your own?

There's a chart that goes like this:
Camo -> Exposure -> Armour -> First Strike -> HP

1. Camo. You can see him. He can't see you. This is the best. 
2. Exposure. Peek out, shoot, move back into cover before enemies retaliate. They can't hit you.
3. Armour. Hull down, sidescrape, angling. Minimise damage.  If you don't have armour, get the:
4. First Strike.  Make them be the first to lose modules and hit points.
5. Hitpoints.  Failing all else, you may be able to tank them if you have superior HP. If you have 1000HP and they have 200, you're likely to win.  Not the best option, but useful at times. 

All these tips are aimed to take the most HP off the enemy while minimising the risk of losing your own.  Below are associated points which which bear repeating:

Focus Your Fire
Tanks in WoT retain their full firepower even with 1HP. So by focussing on a single tank and knocking out their gun, you reduce return fire.  "Spreading" damage around means more guns are firing back (and thus reducing your team HP pool/killing your team).  Turn that 3v3 situation into a 3v2...  Removing enemy guns preserves your team's hit points.  More details here.

Corollary: Kill stealing is good. The faster you can knock out a tank (and therefore their gun) the sooner you remove it from the game (preserving your team's HP), and the sooner your team can focus on their next target.

Get Early Damage
You know that guy that sits back, camps and does 0 damage until all your team is dead, then kills 2-3 half-dead enemies, then gets swarmed, whilst telling everyone in chat how much they suck?

Whilst the player preserved his hit points, he did not help preserve his team's hit points (by distracting enemies, spotting, spreading enemy fire) and neither did he remove enemy hit points (and also their guns).  By hiding away out of the action (effectively making his team a man down) he created a negative 1v2 situation for his team somewhere on the battlefield.  Although he got kills, he did not contribute until it was too late to effect the outcome. He was part of the "snowball" effect that got enemies to a 14-5 lead.

The best player on a losing team is still a loser.

Camping passively is bad - you allow the enemies the initiative.  However mindless aggression can get you swiftly knocked out and unable to contribute.  A good term to think of is "free damage."

Free damage is damage you do to the enemy without taking any in return.  

You might surprise them, early in the game, and move back into cover before they can react.  They are now a few hundred HP down and you will have an advantage later in the game.  This ties in to points 1 & 2 of "picking your fights."  Learn to look for free damage. Get it as early as possible - it can dramatically impact the late game.

Use your Minimap
I'm presuming you have XVM installed. If you don't, go do it now.

WoT, being a very stat-driven game, has lots of tools to help analyse gameplay.  I particularly liked the heat maps showing where activity occurs on any given map.

But your minimap is your Bible. Enlarge it (+ and - keys) a few sizes to make it easier to read.  Consult it often. Don't get tunnel vision and ignore the "big picture." 

Don't be afraid to retreat (i.e. the mysterious "S" key)
It's easy to get carried away trying to "push" enemies, and charge forward. Or get absorbed with trading cool 'splosions until it's too late.  This is especially true if you are facing superior forces on your flank.  If you can't take them, back up or run away.  The brave man dies for his country. The smart man makes the enemy die for his.

Make them enter the chokepoint. Make them peek around the corner into your allies guns.  Make them chase you into the gunsights of that KV-2.

If you decide to retreat, do it early and fast. The longer you hang around, the more likely you will be shot up when making your escape.
Corollary: Before you take up a position, determine if you can easily retreat from it

XVM & Win %
I think it is silly not to use it. In sports, coaches and players scout opponents to knowing who their good players are.   I.e. if you know their three best players are in arty, you don't sit still for too long.
If you have good players supporting you, you can rely on them.  Poor players - prepare a Plan B.

However there is a temptation to play the man, not the tank. But a gun can hurt you just as much as if it is fired by an idiot as a genius.

The other thing is the "win %" which calculates your chance to win before the game. I've seen players drive into the lake and drown if they have a low win %. I know I find it a bit depressing at times, and can lead to negative play. Even more soul-destroying is if you have a 70%+ win chance then your team fails.

Again, while it might be useful information, you can't let it completely dictate your mood and game style. It's a percentage chance, not a fact.

If, like me, you've ever wondered when to cap, or when to drop back and defend a cap....

Capping announces your presence and location. It also puts pressure on the enemy team.  There is more complete guides with mechanics here and examples here but basically

 Capping forces enemies to react. It puts pressure on the enemy team.

Capping early when enemies are nearby (and can easily respond to the threat) is usually a bad idea.  A better time to cap is if you are outnumbered and the enemies are far from their base.  You may disrupt their attack as some players will race back to stop you (often in dribs and drabs.) Good players nearly always react to an enemy cap - after all, you know exactly where he is, and if you don't neutralize him, you'll lose, irrespective of kills/losses.  As a bonus, he's sitting still in the open. Free damage ftw!

Defence: You can reset the timer by doing any damage (shooting at tracks or using HE - often players carry a few HE shells for this purpose).  Shoot the weakest tank to guarantee damage. Cycle between targets to reset each tank on cap.

Offence: You can speed up the timer by having extra tanks (up to 3) capping, more than this does nothing but make it harder to dislodge your forces from cap/reset the timer.  When capping, avoid getting hit! Failing that, defend the tank that has been on cap longest (has the most cap points).

If in doubt, go back and defend. 

Anyway, there are a lot more good points in the various guides, but these are the ones that struck a chord with me, and I think are improving my gameplay the most.  I hope these help you like they are helping me. 

Yes, Delta Vector regulars, it's another PC game post. With toddlers it's easier to grab a 10min game then set up a gaming table. Suck it up! ;-)

1 comment:

  1. You forgot another key item for underpowered/underdog: Listen to your teammate and shoot the tracks.
    When a SPG (Artillery) is aiming at an enemy tank, shooting the tracks effectively increase the accuracy of the SPG and make sure that the big ammo fell right where it creates damages.