Situational Awareness

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One of the key abilities you should strive to cultivate in World of Tanks is situational awareness.  A lot of things fall into this category within the game, and all of them are important.

On the small scale:

  • Be aware of your proximity to allies.  Don’t pull up directly behind an ally; this prevents them from retreating to cover.
  • Also be aware of the problems you cause by firing at enemies while near an ally.  For instance, if your Heavy pulls next to a friendly Tank Destroyer, chances are you will be spotted but your ally will not.  When the enemy fires at you, they can inadvertently hit your ally on a miss or bounce.  This in turn can cause the ally to move, exposing their position too soon.  Suddenly your action results in two targets rather than one for the OpFor (short for Opposing Force for those who aren’t familiar!).
  • Take care not to bump stationary allies, especially Tank Destroyers.  Merely bumping them causes their camo net and binos to drop, as though they moved of their own volition.
  • Be aware of a friendly tank’s firing rate.  If two or more of you are utilizing the same cover, it usually means taking turns pulling out of cover to fire, then falling back.  If you don’t pay attention to your allies’ firing, you can easily pull forward and block their shot.  You wouldn’t want anyone doing that to you when you have that sweet side shot, so please don’t do it to others.

 

On the large scale:

  • Pay attention to the map at the beginning of the match and where your allies are headed.  We’ve already touched on lemming trains – don’t join it.  It may feel like suicide to go to the flank less defended, but someone needs to – otherwise the enemy has a nice, long, red carpet rolled out, straight to your base.
  • Pay attention to the map during the match, making sure your team is holding up.  If you can see that a flank is falling and yours is doing well, consider relocating to give support to the faltering allies.  Map control is important and will be better defined in a future post, but in a nutshell it means all key areas are covered and controlled by your team.  If you see an area falling that would give an advantage to the enemy, locate your gun to better help the team.
  • Do the quick math when a capture is pending.  If you know there are multiple reds close to your base, particularly closer than you are to theirs, then you are not going to successfully cap their base.  There’s no polite way to say it – it’s a stupid maneuver to get on the enemy cap after they’ve already placed 3 or more tanks on your base.  The bottom line is they will win – at best, the game will be a draw.  If at all possible, consider running back to the base to help reset the cap while teammates continue on to the enemy base.  Obviously, this is dependent on the speed of your tank.  The faster tanks (lights and mediums, primarily) are the ones responsible for countering the enemy’s cap at this point.

There are plenty more points to consider with situational awareness, but this brief overview hits on some of the key ones.  The ultimate takeaway from this should be to check the map frequently and make your decisions based on what your team is doing.  Yes, there will be lemming trains – preach the word against it as much as you can and lead by example.  The team that makes the better tactical decisions will win more than 90% of the time.

All Aboard! (The Problem of Lemmings in World of Tanks)

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It happens too often: 3/4 of the team rolls off in the same direction like a line of ants hellbent on losing.  The idea, assuming there is one, is that there is safety and strength in numbers.  On the surface this should be true, but players who know the game have witnessed too many losses when the lemming conductor calls.

Why doesn’t it work?  Before answering that question, let’s look at the rare occasions when it does.  When lemming trains succeed, it’s usually because they keep pushing.  Every enemy tank they encounter is overwhelmed and dispatched to the garage while the train keeps grinding forward.  Three reds struggle to hold their position while 7-8 greens surround them – tracked, racked and whacked.

It doesn’t work because, unfortunately, that’s not the norm.  What generally happens is 7-8 greens encounter those three reds and stop moving.  They take partial cover, fire from behind one another and practically paint artillery bullseyes on their tanks.  Meanwhile, elsewhere on the map, 2-3 greens get overwhelmed by 4-5 reds and the reds push through.

You’ve seen this before: “Help!”, “Attention to Sector ##!”, “Requesting fire on…”, then silence, then the sound of the base capture alarm.  It’s frustrating, saying the least, for those of us who are counted among the tiny pockets of resistance left behind by the train.

So please, if you’re new to the game or an old dog with bad habits, have the self respect to say no to lemming trains.  Actually respond when a weak flank calls for help.  And in the event you find yourself an unwitting part of a lemming train (sometimes we lead them through no fault of our own), please, in the name of all that is good and holy, keep pushing.

Sight Mechanics in World of Tanks

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A real point of confusion for World of Tanks newcomers is the combined concepts of View Range, Radio Range, Spotting Distance and Camouflage.  View Range is the physical limit to your tank’s sight – tanks outside of this range cannot be seen.  Radio Range determines how far away from your tank a broadcasting or listening ally can be in order to be heard or hear you.  Spotting Distance is the distance from your tank at which a moving or stationary tank will be “detected”.  Camouflage impacts detection by counteracting the Spotting Distance with a modifier.  Some tanks have inherent camouflage values which are better than others.  Lights, for example, are generally better at camouflage, as are many Tank Destroyers.

It is important to firstly understand the difference between View Range and Spotting Distance.  Just because you can see 320 meters does not mean you will notice an enemy tank that far away.  Spotting Distance is always significantly less than View Range.  Enemy tanks within your Spotting Distance can be detected and continually viewed.  Enemy tanks within your View Range but outside of your Spotting Distance are visible for as long they are spotted by an ally within Radio Range.  The most literal way to look at View Range is the range beyond which tanks will not be rendered.  Even if an ally spots someone and is within Radio Range, your View Range limitations will prevent the spotted tank from being displayed outside of them.  View Range and Spotting Distance are positively affected by binoculars and/or coated optics (equipment options).

Camouflage reduces an enemy tank’s Spotting Distance relative to your vehicle and vice versa.  It is an inherent statistic for each tank which is further modified by factors such as camouflage paint (about a 5% increase camouflage rating), a camouflage net which is equipped (25% increase to camouflage rating), terrain features (bushes, fallen trees, etc., varying in impact), and so on.  The stronger a tank’s camouflage, the shorter an enemy tank’s Spotting Distance is in relation to that tank.  Camouflage rating is affected negatively by movement as well as firing your gun (the sound effectively gives away your position).

Putting it all together, suppose you are in a medium tank, proceeding across the open field of Malinovka, and an enemy tank destroyer is hunkered down behind a bush on the opposite side.  Your tank has coated optics, increasing effective view range and spotting distance by 10%, slightly reduced because you are moving full speed ahead.  Your camouflage rating is relatively low while in motion, so you are fairly easy to spot already.  The tank destroyer is stationary, concealed behind a bush, has deployed a camouflage net and is using binoculars to observe the field ahead.

Suddenly you are given the warning that you are “Detected!” while you have not spotted any enemy tanks so far.  Your medium tank, taking into account the Camouflage Rating, has entered well within the View Range of the tank destroyer and furthermore just entered its Spotting Distance.  As soon as the tank destroyer spots you, any other enemy tanks within radio range of the TD and within View Range to physically see your tank now have you on their mini map and main display with a red (or purple) icon.  Meanwhile you are closing in on the tank destroyer, even though you can’t see it.  The tank destroyer fires at you – whether a hit, a miss, a penetration or a bounce, the tank destroyer suddenly appears ahead, because the gunfire negates the camouflage rating temporarily.  Let’s assume it’s a hit and your medium is tracked.

Your reaction is to request fire on the tank destroyer, but a few seconds later it disappears from your view.  That’s because the tank destroyer’s Camouflage Rating has been restored, and it is now considered outside of your Spotting Range.  At the same time, the tank destroyer has also disappeared from view of any allies who are not within their Spotting Distance from the TD and were relying on your Radio Range to help them see it.

Quite likely you’ll have taken more than the one TD shot because other enemy tanks who can see you will be firing at a stationary (tracked!) target.  At this point a newcomer is tempted to think that the tank destroyer’s player is somehow cheating with a hack of some kind.  However, because you now know how spotting works and why tanks just disappear, you’ll curse your luck and move on, right?