Monday, 15 August 2011

World of Tanks: Beginner's Tips

This is the first part of a guide to playing the MMO World of Tanks, a tank-warfare based game which includes tanks from pre-WWII up to the 1950s. It is, in my opinion, a simply fantastic game to play, but one which is surprisingly hard to play well. This guide should (hopefully) help new players in that respect, and maybe even provide some interesting reading to those World of Tanks veterans.

Important things to know:

·     In WoT, you only get one life per match, meaning that if you die straight away then you’ll have to sit out the entire match and watch your team-mates struggle without you.

·         A normal battle can end two ways; either when all the enemy team are destroyed, or their base captured.

·         Experience and credits are gained through killing, damaging and spotting players, and defending or capturing bases. These can be used to research and buy guns, turrets, tracks, radios and engines, and eventually lead to a (hopefully) better tank on the ‘tank tree’.

·         Tank Trees are nation-specific, each branch being made up of tiers. Generally, out of a maximum tier of 10, tier 7 is the highest to aim for if you don’t have a Premium (paid) account; higher than that would eventually lose you credits through repair/ammo costs.

·         Enemy players will only show up on the mini-map, and indeed in your field of vision, if somebody ‘spots’ them first. Players will not show up if they just shoot-this is not CoD! Accordingly, those tanks with a camouflage bonus (such as hiding in a bush) could conceivably pound the foe without anyone being able to retaliate, until someone gets close enough to spot them.

·         Always keep your front to the enemy! All tanks have the most armour on their front-never present your rear to the opposing team.

·         Each tank has a certain number of crew and modules, such as a fuel tank, which can be killed/blown up mid-battle; if this happens, try and retreat until your crew can get the module fixed. Sadly, if your tracks are gone, you’re a sitting duck.

·         The terrain can be, and should be, used to your advantage. Objects such as houses obviously provide good cover as well as blocking line of site, making you that much harder to spot. For some tanks, being ‘hull down’ is a tremendously beneficial tactic. This is where your turret is the only visible target for the enemy; this is usually applied over the crest of a hill and with tanks (such as US Heavies) which have amazing turret armour.

·         Armour thickness and the degree to which armour slopes are important in WoT. Depending on the gun (and the type of shell used), some shells may not penetrate a tank’s armour at all, while depending on the angle others may ricochet off.

Choosing  a Tank

There are 5 different types of tank in World of Tanks, each with their own unique style of play. Depending on the nation’s Tank Tree, certain types of tank, such as Tank Destroyers, will only lead to other TDs. Conversely, Light Tanks generally lead to Mediums, which then either lead to Heavy Tanks or other Mediums. This is worth knowing, as looking up the tank Tree a few tiers and finding an achievable goal could influence your starting choice of tank.

Light Tank: These are primarily the scouts of WoT. They tend to rush ahead of the main battle-group, spotting enemies for their team to see and eradicate. With extremely light armour, if they don’t keep moving then a couple of shells will blow them to smithereens. They work well with SPGs, and can be extremely annoying for the opposing team. Deal with them at the first opportunity, before your whole team is revealed.

Medium Tank: Depending on the tank and nationality their role differs accordingly, but these tanks are essentially the ‘fire-fighters’  of the team; wherever help is needed, they have the speed to get there, and in most cases the armour and firepower to tip the balance of a fight. They won’t survive on their own for too long without support, but they can certainly hold their own. Mediums can even take out Heavy Tanks if they find them alone, as they can circle the foe faster than their opponent’s turret can traverse. A wolf pack of Medium Tanks is a dangerous sight for even the heaviest of tanks.

Heavy Tank: Used as either a hammer or an anvil, these armoured behemoths can tip the balance of any fight, assuming they can reach it in time. Able to plough through the opposing force, or cut off a portion of the map by firmly holding position, these tanks are slow but can take, and dish out, horrendous amounts of damage.

Tank Destroyer: These tanks are effective when used in an ambush situation. With no turrets (apart from the unique American ones) but massive cannons, their low-slung hulls mean that they won’t be spotted before it’s too late. Extremely effective at long range, their lack of turret means they are quite vulnerable to a tank circling them a few metres away. A favourite tactic of the enemy may be to ram your Tank Destroyer in the side, preventing it from turning round and shooting them. Tank Destroyers are feared by many for the amount of damage they can do while not being seen themselves.
Self-Propelled Artillery (SPG): These are unique in that they see the battle from a bird’s-eye view; nowhere is safe from these monsters, being able to plunge shells down on unsuspecting tanks from afar. Relying on Light Tanks to spot the opposing team, SPGs can, with their massive howitzers, rain death on even Heavy Tanks. Rightly feared, they do have a slow reload and miniscule armour, meaning that should the enemy get in close then their reign of terror is effectively over.
The Nations-Which one to Choose?
In World of Tanks there are 3 nations to choose from at the time of writing, each with their own Tank Trees and tanks. While they all now have the same amount of types of tank (i.e they have all the branches of the tree), the stats of these types vary according to the nation. In this section I will, unfortunately, have to generalise somewhat, as detail will be gone into in later parts of this guide.
Germany:  Deutschland! Who wouldn’t want to play as the mighty armoured tanks of Germany? Who wouldn’t want to accurately snipe the enemy from afar in a Jagdpanther, or weather all manner of attack in the mighty Maus? German tanks are generally supremely accurate, able to penetrate thick armour with relative ease. While their guns may not be that large compared to other nations, they can bypass all but the thickest armour. Suited to sniping effectively, their TDs may not be that camouflaged in higher tiers but they are extremely accurate with good armour. German Heavies, while gained at a later tier than everyone else, are very difficult to get rid of.
Russia: Urraa! Russian tanks are known to have quite massive guns attached to their tanks compared to everyone else. A 122mm, for instance, will pack one hell of a punch in close quarters, and even at medium distances. What the Russians do find difficult however is sniping; said 122mm won’t be that accurate at distant targets. Sometimes seen as being the ‘easy’ nation, Russian tanks do tend to dominate in the early tiers, where their large cannon and often thick armour allow them to carve through an incompetent enemy team. The lack of accuracy and slow reload times somewhat negate these bonuses however, and being perceived (quite wrongly in my opinion) as the easy option shouldn’t be a reason not to play Russian.
US: It seems to me that American tanks are good all-rounders. Their guns are often a balance between penetration and damage, with a good speed even gracing their Heavy Tanks. Their armour distribution across the whole tree, on the other hand, is all over the place. Their Medium Tanks have paper thin armour, their SPGs  can have amour that seems to bounce a lot of shots, while their Heavies have a massive amount on their turret (279mm for the tier 7 T29), but relatively little on their hull. US tanks, therefore, require a good amount of skill to use properly, but when used properly they can kick some ass!

Right, that rounds off this beginner's guide. Hopefully this will have helped you to at least get started on the path to battlefield-domination. Oh, and here’s the link to the World of Tanks site.

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