Thought this deserved a share! Source: wot NA forums, Sokolniki
The following is a massive wall of text, In fact China has filed a complaint against me for building a “Great Wall” in violation to their copyright to the term. But all these changes are meant to be taken together as a package as no one part of any of these changes would be sufficient in fixing the issues presently plaguing the Arty Class
In my previous thread on the subject, I identified the many issues regarding the artillery class that players both playing and playing against have with the class. In this thread, I will propose a plethora of changes that when taken together, can allow for the Artillery class to be significantly less frustrating for all players involved and perhaps make it considerably less “Broken” as a class.
A few things to note… while many players like the way artillery works in Armored Warfare, as I looked at it, I too found that I liked many aspects about it… but I also noted that there are also many things about that game that allows good arty play in that game feel rewarding without it also feeling like there is an absurdly low or completely lacking skill floor… the most important of these has very little to do with the arty themselves and more to do with all the vehicles in the game… they are ALL substantially faster than MANY tanks in this game. What the heck is an E-100 going to do about an artillery’s attention warning? The era that the game takes place in also makes many of the mechanics they use for arty in that game fairly believable and doesn’t deviate from what other tanks have available as gameplay mechanics. It would also be pretty… cheesy in my opinion for WG to decide to copy paste AW’s arty mechanics to their own game, and make it seem fairly out of place given the era this game draws its tanks from.
Important to note, any changes that would make Artillery more skill-dependent as a whole and less “RNG” would require some degree of an accuracy buff… the amount of which would be dependent on each individual vehicle’s characteristics and a full statistical analysis of the effects that all the changes I intend to propose would have on artillery presently in the game as some of the changes will be rather dramatic in their effect, affecting some much more significantly than others. As such, I’ll give no specific numbers on how much Arty should have their accuracy buffed.
Table of Contents:
- Changing Perspective
1.1 Strategic View
1.2 Spotter View
1.3 Indirect Fire View
- High Explosive Shell Mechanics
2.1 Fragmentation Damage
2.2 Concussive Damage
2.3 High Explosive Fragmentation Shells
2.4 High Explosive Squash Head Shells
2.5 Anti-Concrete Shells
- Skills and Perks Brief Ideas
- Changing Perspectives
When I started considering ideas for what Arty can give in exchange for accuracy, no matter the solution I drove forward with, I ran into the same issue repeatedly… greater accuracy on arty makes it easier to aim at vulnerable engine decks, and this immediately makes Alpha for anything 155mm or greater a significant issue at every tier they show up in, and it became obvious that unless arty had the alpha dropped down to the levels of 107mm and 122mm guns while driving around with 203mm or larger caliber guns, you’d really be needing to abide by a suspension of disbelief. Greater accuracy would need to run with reduced penetration to reduce the chance of full penetrating hits except on targets asking for it (Such as those who stop while their tank is sloping downwards towards an arty to minimize the effectiveness of their roof armor), tanks that are balanced by very vulnerable armor (T110 Engine block sides, or Waffle Line vehicles), and players playing very poorly in tanks that should have no problem being evasive (scout on a hill who has taken to sniping). I get into more detail on this in the HE rework proposals later on, but for now, I also want to point out that HE pen reductions alone isn’t the answer in keeping full pen HE hits in check while bringing arty accuracy up… there is also the issue that unless a tank driver is assuming they are being targeted by arty, there is no real means by which a player can determine whether or not they need to be playing evasively or if they can afford to take the time to aim a shot for example. I found that both of these issues and more, could be tackled by changing the mechanic by which artillery gets aimed.
1.1 Strategic View
The biggest thing that many very good tankers point to as the reason that Arty is a “Broken Class” is not the enormous alpha or the ability to shoot over cover, but their ability to see and aim through a top down mode that provides so much more information than is available to the tanks doing the spotting. Where a tank is pointing when it has fired, which direction and how fast they are moving, they can even show you how many degrees an enemy turns his tank before shifting direction and all that… so much information that basic pattern recognition can make it into a game of nuking fish in a barrel… especially in the static early phases of a match on very open yet brawly maps. It also makes it very easy to center your aim on the engine deck of a player who has pulled out and stopped to aim. This top down mode however, also provides very specific knowledge about the terrain in how the reticle dots interacts with the ground an obstacles around the battlefield… this is absolutely critical information for artillery. So while this mode gives a strong impression that Arty is watching from on high ready to smite the best players from their tanks… it’s also very necessary, and the best approximation of how Artillery actually aimed their guns back in WW2 without making it… well, completely boring to play or watch.
Basically, what I’m saying is that it is necessary and needs to stay… BUT… something about it needs to be changed… namely the amount of information that it is capable of displaying. For this Arty mechanic overhaul proposal… I would suggest that it remains the primary means by which artillery aims its guns… but that enemy tanks be removed from the view. That’s it… you would still retain the ability to see destructible objects and trees and what not (The reason this is critical becomes apparent later), you’d retain the ability to see your teammates, and to see their tracer fire, as well as the tracer fire coming from enemy vehicles that are spotted by your team, though the tank itself remains invisible to your strategic view. You will still see the Reticle in the same way you see it now, with the dots spreading out and coming together as is appropriate for the terrain, as this is how you get to read the terrain without having to look at a topographic map that is prohibitively hard to read for anyone who has never actually spent the time to learn how to read such a map… and is also exceedingly boring to look at even when you do. The ability to see destructible objects is important for artillery to see because… you don’t want to spend a 35 second reload on a 2 inch thick concrete wall. If you don’t want to be shot for running over destructible walls, trees and fences, then the simple solution is… don’t… but the A line on Live Oaks should really be changed. Now then, I’ve got my change to strategic view, but now it means that Arty can’t see tanks in this view… oh, the arty players are going to string me up tonight…
…well no… because Arty will still be able to see you in your tanks, just in a very different, and dare I say dynamic way that is HEAVILY inspired by talks with my Older Brother who served in Iraq with the Rakkasans, as well as talks I’ve had with numerous war veterans who served in the era this game draws inspiration from (Including a veteran of Bastogne and several other WWII veterans).
1.2 Spotter Mode
The single most important proposal I have in this entire post…
Hitting the G key will switch them from “Strategic View” to a view from the nearest allied tank to where your cursor presently much akin to the postmortem observer mode, (You can hit RMB to move away from your reticle to be more in control of who you are watching from without screwing your aim over) and with your view centered on where your reticle presently is… while simultaneously keeping a circle opens above where the center of your cursor would normally be and would be showing a more condensed version of your strategic view. You will still do your aim through this strategic view box in the normal way (Up = North, etc…, but you will be looking for your tanks through this “Spotter Mode” as you are now effectively playing at both ends of the radio… the spotter in the tank at the front giving details to the artillery crew way behind lines.
So, from the Spotter perspective you’ll be trying to look for landmarks to help you aim in… south east corner of the church? That’s an easy one to find, look up at the strategic circle, point it at the southeast corner of the church, aim the shot back a little, wait for the guy to poke back into view on your spotter’s perspect, and when he does, you drop your shell on him. That guy’s going approximately 45km/h up the Steppes center road, I’ll aim just ahead of one of the more easily recognizable rocks on the strategic view map and wait to see him get near it from the Spotter’s perspective and then time my shot accordingly.
This does many things for tankers… patterns of evasion from a lower perspective become harder to read due to optical issues that occur at these lower degrees of observation, especially vs a top down view of the target. Direction, speed and acceleration become much harder to read, and being patterned in your variations of these will be more effective as an evasive measure than it currently is. Concealment and obstacles between yourself and the Arty’s current Spotter also improves your ability to conceal the details of your movement from artillery back in base and moving away from the wall can actually save you from being hit by an arty that is firing from a location that has a clean angle on you if he is assuming that you are hugging the wall for dear life. It also means that it will be harder for artillery to aim in ahead of you if you are maneuvering over open terrain due to a lack of landmarks to aim and time their shot in by. Being spotting by the momentary poke of a scout over a ridge before he scuttles back behind cover to escape return fire also has little risk of resulting in some unfortunate player getting 1shot by the arty as that brief glimpse of the enemy’s team from the Scout’s perspective will make it hard for artillery to precisely aim and time a shot.
It also makes the battle exciting for the Artillery to watch when they go back through in replays as they get to view the battle from the thick of the action rather than a distant lonely eye high above while introducing a magnificent skill differentiating component to arty gameplay using this perspective. Novice Artillery can use slow brawlers up front give them a stable platform for “Spotting” their shots on slow or campy targets, whilst skilled artillery can show off by spotting their shots from M41 Bulldogs speeding around the center of Prokhorovka. This “Spotter Mode” Mechanic also offers additional opportunities for Arty/Target interaction in that activating spotter mode on a tank causes the commander’s hatch to open up (But does not create a 0 armor hole on top of the tank or an extension of the spotter’s hitbox or silhouette upon being highlighted by a player’s cursor as this could result in player misconduct) but serves as a marker for an enemy tank driver to recognize that yes, artillery is presently giving this area its attention and evasive maneuvers must be used… while simultaneously giving an artillery player the opportunity to sacrifice information quality to aim by (As trees and other obstacles can obscure the view) in favor of concealing their intentions… thus a battle of wits can be created between an arty player and their intended target and allowing the target a chance to identify and respond to the artillery’s attention.
Also, while I did previously think on the idea of being able to aim your artillery by moving your cursor in the Spotter View, I decided against it to avoid going from accusations of Satellite based Lasers to laser guided munitions.
If you still have a hard time understanding it… it will be the primary means by which you will aim at the enemy. The view will be like the post-mortem observer screen where you can look in the directions that you want or need to independently of what the driver of the tank is doing, but the view gets dragged around by the tank. The little “Mini-Strategic View” is up to so as to allow you to continue to see where you are aiming and adjust your aiming if you need to as you try to use what you are seeing from the perspective of the ally’s tank to determine where you need to be aiming. But you’ll be looking for little landmarks that the enemy tank is nearby so you can use those those same landmarks on the mini-strategic view to find your mark. “Okay, so he’s a little past a pair of trees, so I’ll find those same to trees on strategic view, aim a bit past them relative to where my spotter is watching from and voila, I think I got my target zero’d in.” But lets say you thought the target was 10 meters passed the trees, but he was really 15 meters past them… your shells would land in front of him, and it would be your fault as the arty for having missed by so wide a margin. Alternatively, the enemy tank could notice “hey, that tank’s commander’s hatch is open… I probably should consider taking cover now” and pulls back behind cover. While behind cover, he then has a clever thought. “I think the arty has a clean angle on my location, so I’ll pull 10 meters away from the rocks”, because from spotter view all you are seeing is an icon behind the rock, you know he’s back there, but you probably don’t notice that he’s backing away from the rock a little now as well so that when you shot, assuming he is flush against the rock, you end up missing entirely while the enemy tank pats himself on the shoulder for a shot well dodged. Thus, pulling away from cover becomes a viable evasive option against artillery because he’s no longer looking down from above. Sniping targets engaging in forests becomes more difficult as it becomes harder to get detailed information due to trees. “Okay, is he’ on the second ridge or the third ridge in the magic forest?” If you, as an arty player can accurately determine this, then the ridge becomes a reliable landmark for you to use when trying to get the range for your shots. If you call the wrong ridge through the trees, you end up throwing your shot away entirely.
- Indirect Fire View
Affectionately called TD Mode, this would be the third person view you have just like any other tank and commonly used for self defense shots at direct fire ranges and “Shotgunning”. I wouldn’t change anything fundamentally about it, but I would like to take this opportunity to address a natural side-effect of increasing artillery’s accuracy in that it would also increase artillery’s effectiveness at self-defense. I do feel that the weakness at self defense is an important one to keep. While HE mechanics I propose later would naturally counteract some of the “Self Defense Buff” from the accuracy improvement, I do feel that a general dispersion penalty for hull traverse should be increased in order to keep artillery’s ability to turn its hull and shotgun an enemy tank down to reasonable levels while an aim time buff can be put in place to keep the time to fully aim in from strategic and spotter view from an extensive hull traverse down to reasonable levels. However, on the flip side of the coin, If you are closing in on an arty’s position and you make the run on him, only to find that you drove right in front of a fully aimed T92 loading his AP shell, then you played right into his hand and he should be rewarded for his good read on your intentions. A fully aimed defensive shot will indeed be much more effective by my proposed changes and I see no issue with this aspect… although… HE mechanics I propose later can counteract some of even this buff.
- High Explosive Shell Mechanics
As previously noted in my previous thread, I feel HE mechanics are oversimplified, with various factors surrounding the ammunition being a major contributor to the troubles players experience with Artillery. The sheer alpha of some of the bigger guns on a full penetrating hit is considered a major issue by players, the HE Splash Damage Formula as presently implemented requires large numbers in order to ensure a generally acceptable amount of damage given the terrible level of accuracy on guns with greater calibers than 180mm. So lets bring it up for reference.
Damage Dealt = Nominal Damage/2 * (1-Impact Distance/Splash Radius) – 1.1 * Nominal Armor Thickness * Spall Coefficient.
As had been noted in my prior thread, splash damage pays no heed to the angle that a particular piece of armor is relative to the direction that the explosion is coming at it from. 50mm that is sitting perpendicular to an incoming HE Shockwave provides the same amount of protection to an explosion striking the same piece of armor if it sat 89 degrees relative to the shockwave origin. This often meant that side and frontal hull armor thickness meant less to the equation when a shell missed a tank by little than it did on a direct hit because by impacting the ground, the explosion is able to draw a line to the very thin floor armor of a tank for calculating damage.
Now, any buff to artillery accuracy would require two significant changes. One would be HE’s penetration to reduce the chance of penetrating thin roof armor, particularly of large slow heavies trying to do their jobs on the brawling corners, as well as changes to the HE Mechanics in order to increase the penalty for aiming poorly while allowing consistently well aimed shots to be rewarded with more positive results… and so a key feature of my HE proposals is the splitting of splash damage into two components with separate calculations that are made at the moment of shell impact… Fragmentation Damage and Concussive damage.
2.1 Fragmentation Damage
Fragmentation Damage would represent a flat % of a shell’s potential damage that immediately draws a sphere from the point of impact and runs a calculation to any piece of armor it can reach, and then runs a penetration check using a “Fragmentation Penetration” stat that decays at greater distances from the point of impact. If it succeeds in its penetration roll, then it does its flat damage value. However, the armor value of the armor the fragments are being matched against is affected by the angle that the armor is at relative to the direction the explosion is hitting from with no normalization for the penetration. Additionally, spaced armor would be able to effectively block the fragments, though if the shell itself had penetrated the spaced armor, the explosion and the fragments would be spawned from within the spaced armor. This should generally increase the ability of vehicles with thick or angled side armor to mitigate the damage from a near miss from Artillery HE, while vehicles with thick hull armor can mitigate a significant chunk of the potential damage by preventing fragmentation damage on hits to the front or side hull armor, while simultaneously rewarding hits on turrets by allowing the fragmentation damage to match against the roof of the hull. What’s important to note about this is that while decidedly a nerf to artillery damage, it could be seen as a buff to the HE shells made available to the smaller caliber guns of various tanks in that the fragmentation damage component can ensure more consistent damage when used against the turrets of strong hull-down vehicles as under present HE Mechanics, HE shells of less than 122mm calibers tend to lack enough splash damage and splash radius to be meaningfully matched against the hull roof armor of a target and often does little more than scratch the paint of a T32 turret for example unless you struck near the base of the turret. Introducing this component to HE damage essentially allows for HE to serve the purpose for tanks that WG has been wanting to buff it for, but often were often too afraid to do so as mirroring the buff with Arty HE made for some very scary numbers. Some smaller vehicles may also benefit from this as the penetration drop off on a moderate to significant miss do to miscalculated speed or direction will result in the flat fragmentation damage to end up being blocked… however some vehicles with very thin and unsloped armor may still take damage from the fragmentation due to thin armor and minimal increases in angle or EA at distance, such as the T110 variants suffer around the rear of their hulls.
2.2 Concussive Damage
Essentially, this would function much the same way as HE presently does albeit with a reduced portion of damage to compare against the armor as this portion is getting split off into the previously discussed Fragmentation damage. Additionally, I would make it affected by the angling of the armor it gets matched against, however, it would also receive normalization based on impact distance relative to splash radius, with up to 60 degrees normalization at the point of impact and degrading to 0 degrees at max splash radius. This would roughly simulate the effect of overpressure near the center of the explosion and increasing effectiveness of angled armor as an explosion becomes more distant and allow for damage to drop off at first in a linear fashion near the center of the explosion, and then at an exponential rate the farther out a shell lands relative to its splash radius as the splash normalization no longer reduces the struck armor down to its nominal thickness, rewarding good aiming and punishing a poorly placed shot. Shells landing fairly close to the tank in question can still be effectively matched against the floor armor, but at some percentage of the shell’s splash radius, it can end up becoming more efficient for the game engine to calculate the damage against the side armor instead, generally improving the ability of most vehicles to mitigate the damage against missed Arty shells, but leaving well placed shells generally unaffected such as those landing right next to or directly hitting the vehicle itself, though the fragmentation of the shell may be blocked in some examples such as striking the upper plate of an E100 rather than the Turret Front. The hull floor will still be able to bounce fragmentation damage if the angle is high enough as these don’t receive normalization against the floor. This does mean however that damage reduction from armor can be reduced relative to current levels of both fragmentation damage gets through the armor, and the Concussive normalization brings the armor calculation angle down to zero degrees.
2.3 High Explosive Fragmentation Shells
Your standard ammo for most arty… it would essentially have the same Alpha as the standard HE presently has, but on non-penetrating hits, its potential splash damage becomes 40% of Alpha as Concussive, and 10% as Fragmentation damage… this means the average concussive roll for a 203mm shell (1850 Alpha) is 740, and has 185 average damage tied into its fragmentation component. But it will also have a significant penetration reduction for balance reasons to reduce the occurrence of full penetrating hits against roof armor. For 203mm HEF, I’d suggest maybe a drop to around 80mm of penetration for example, an E100 has 92 Effective Armor on the roof of its turret when struck by HE at 45 degrees. At trajectories which are experienced by most arty at standard ranges around 700m, even 30mm can resist an average penetration roll. Very thinly armored tanks however do need to remain cautious and use their speed and maneuverability to spoil the efforts of the artillery as the arty can be rewarded handsomely for landing the HEF shell.
HEF’s Frag component will have a base penetration level that it keeps for the full distance of the blast radius, and an additional penetration on top of that decays as the blast goes further and further from the point of impact, and decays entirely at the edge of the blast radius.
While I do suggest that HEF’s penetration be reduced by a significant %, be warned… if you have your tank on a slope that angles downward in the direction of the enemy artillery, he can very easily score a penetrating hit on you that results in the same type of OHK as you have suffered in the past. Certain glass cannon vehicles such as the Waffle line will also be penned just fine by HEF shells from artillery in spite of the reduction in penetration.
2.4 High Explosive Squash Head
As presently implemented, HESH is just HE with high levels of penetration… and it really doesn’t work remotely like that in real life… it’s real life mechanics are MUCH more interesting than that and has incredible potential in this game. What would I do with it? Well, first I won’t hurt the Alpha damage… it will still absolutely wreck your tank on a full penetration. I would then drop its penetration to below the level of HE… maybe still have enough to pen a waffle, but a BC25t could potentially avoid being penned by a flush hit from it for example. Then… I would make its potential splash damage all concussive, no fragmentation component whatsoever. What it would have is an elevated level of concussive damage to try to match against the armor it struck with a modifier for angle it strikes the armor at (In order to roughly simulate the additional patting of the imact) and reduced concussive damage to try to match against any other surfaces nearby.
HESH concussive calculation at the point of impact…
0.7 * Nominal Damage + [0.3 * Nominal Damage * (Angle of Impact/80)] – (1.1Nominal Armor * Spall Coefficient)
This would make the HESH available on 105mm guns an okay choice against 150mm armor armor, a poor choice against 250mm armor… and an incredible choice for burying into the engine blocks of enemies. For the 183, it would be a good choice against sidescraping heavies so long as you don’t put the shell into the tracks, and while I don’t think it would make for a balanced shell type for British high tier Artillery, if we introduced the Churchill and Centurion AVRE vehicles with the 165mm Royal Ordinance L9 gun (And not the 290mm Spigot Gun), and gave it a slow-for-caliber reload, it should be reasonably balanced enough to give the HESH shells to. It would have an auto-detonate mechanic at 80 degrees however that makes it lose out on the application of this formula and instead look for armor to test 35% of its Alpha against with much lower Blast Radius relative to standard HE, making it not enjoy missing very much.
The result, it’s a shell that for direct fire vehicles, enjoys hitting the cheeks of domed turrets and sidscrapers but if accuracy RNGs it at a particularly extreme angle of a domed turret or someone sidescrapes so well that HEAT would auto-bounce, it ends up losing significant damage potential relative to a solid hit with the same SHELL, or an auto-detonation of the HEF shell. Additionally, you won’t need to RNG to give you full pens on thin engine deck armor with the British 105mm guns in order to consistently get better-than-AP/APCR performance in the mediums once you initiate the circle of death. It will also have subpar performance against particularly thick turret armor (As HEF typically will just splash the hull roof below to get out more consistant damage while HESH will have a harder time doing that, and with less base concussive damage to do so with).
Note: HESH Point of Impact Damage Formula is very open to discussion
2.5 Anti-Concrete Shells
These would be high penetration HE Shells… but by high penetration, I mean that they would largely retain the same levels of penetration as current HE has, but it would come at the expense of Alpha… lets say the 1850 of the Soviet 203 becomes 1650, placing it squarely between the AP shell and the HE Shell in damage… so… you trade alpha in for an increased chance of full penetration… but if it were simply that, it would be boring so lets up the ante a little… in the event that it fails to penetrate, it gets three fragmentation rolls… one roll receives no normalization, and is equal to 200% of the shell’s base penetration, it is purely against the effective armor at the point of contact for the angle the shell struck in… and then the second fragmentation roll is for 150% of the shell’s base penetration and is given up to 35 degrees of normalization. If the first normalization roll succeeds, the shell deals 50% of the shell’s Alpha with no mitigation from armor as the explosion forces the nose of the shell through the armor to break it quickly enough that much of the explosion follows it inside shortly thereafter… allowing it the ability to potentially deal more damage on a non-full pen of moderate armor than the HEF could have done on a non-pen against even thin armor. The normalized 150% pen roll would do an elevated amount of frag damage relative to HEF’s fragmentation component % wise, say 20% of the A-CS’s potential Alpha, with the third Frag Roll occurring if the previous two being the standard frag roll based on 80% of the shell’s base penetration and 10% of the shell’s Alpha. This shell type also has severely reduced concussive components, as only 30% of its already reduced alpha gets calculated against armor as concussive damage. This shell type would also have reduced blast radius for its concussive damage… making it a shell that loves making direct hits in brawling zones but dislikes any sort of miss.
I’d say relatively balanced in concept, though heavily favoring the early stages of a match and I do believe the numbers used for this could use some tweaking, but I do like the concept overall and would like to keep the heart of it alive… that if the nose pens the armor, it boosts the overall effectiveness of the concussive component of the shell… but if it misses, even by a little, the arty player gets very little from it.
It could serve as the “Standard” shell type for some of the arty in the game and allow greater variety between guns of identical caliber… such as the American and Soviet 203s for example. It can also be an available shell type for some of the game’s “Assault Guns” such as the Soviet 152mm guns.
- Skills and Perks Brief Overview
The Spotter View mode actually offers very interesting opportunities for introducing further interaction and counterplay to Artillery, but additional perks could be made available to make artillery play and counterplay more engaging… but my ideas on a Skill/perk overhaul would warrant its own thread as well, but to not leave you hanging, the general idea would be that you have the option to specialize a skill/perk to better suit your playstyle and priorities by selecting one of several perk specializations… for example, you can make 6th sense puts an icon over the head of any visible enemy that is able to spot you, or you could instead have it light up with no delay the moment you get spotted, or you can have it stay lit for as long as you remain visible… but you cannot have all three of these specializations.
One of the perks I had in mind would have been called “Radio Traffic Analysis” in which your radio operator is able to determine that a nearby visible enemy vehicle is currently in communication with artillery and providing detailed information needed for aiming a shot, thus allowing you to determine that artillery has its attention in your general area. Its specializations would be triangulate signal, which puts an icon over the tank currently communicating with artillery, “Detailed Analysis” which allows your radio operator to determine the reload state of the Spotter’s Artillery, and “INCOMING” which allows them to alert you that a visible spotter has just given Artillery the order to fire and that the shell is now inbound.
This is what I have for now, but this represents the bulk of what I’ve been thinking on these past few months regarding an artillery rework. The few Formulas I suggested here are in no way final, and can indeed benefit from some degree of tinkering and I do invite Arty players and haters alike to discuss their thoughts on the ideas posted here and can propose some refinements some of you may have on this.