Sandbox: 1st Iteration Review

From the official portal

As you know, we have completed our first phase of the Sandbox test.  The Sandbox servers are now currently offline and we have been hard at work analysing your feedback and the collected statistics to make changes for the next phase of Sandbox testing.

The Sandbox test environment is a new testing format for us on World of Tanks since its release, and somewhat resembles beta-testing at early in-development stages of the game. This means it is a very experimental format: battles on this server offer a very different game experience, and we realized and expected that players would have mixed emotions about such big changes.  This is why we felt it so critical to involve our community in these tests well in advance of bringing anything to our live servers for the full game. And as expected, we have gotten a wide range of feedback on this first phase of the Sandbox, but the common trend is a desire to understand much more about what the changes you have seen on the Sandbox mean for the future of the game

So with all of this in mind, we wanted to share our current thinking around the Sandbox.  In this report we will talk about our original goals of the features we tested, the assumptions that we checked, the results that we received, and what we intend to do next.

Sandbox: Goals

Our primary intent was, and still is, to address the most prominent and consistent feedback we have had from our players. We understand your major concerns regarding balance (that includes the matchmaker, interrelation among vehicle roles, problems of some maps, etc.) These issues have been the result of a number of smaller changes accumulated over a long period of time that now collectively require a deeper change in order to be fully fixed. We couldn’t simply “quick fix” these away.  Over time, we intend to use the Sandbox to test many of our longer-term development solutions. First, the vehicle balance, then develop a new matchmaker, and creation of new maps and improvement of existing ones, etc. Your feedback will become the starting point of further development of the game.

So for this first step – vehicle balance – we intended to accomplish the following goals: 

  1. Reduce the cost of players’ mistakes, giving them better chances of survival and stay longer in battle.
  2. Reduce the average distance of combat, favouring more intense close up battles and encouraging more dynamic gameplay over “pixel hunting” and “camping.”
  3. Create a more varied gameplay by allowing different types of tanks to serve roles according to their strengths – so heavily armoured, defensive tanks can close with the enemy and set the battle line, mobile flankers can circle their enemy to find openings, scouts can effectively scout, etc.
  4. Rework SPG gameplay away from “occasional one shot wreck machines that miss a lot and take forever to reload” to something that is more interesting to both SPG players and their opponents.

We realize it is important to provide variety to gameplay for our players. Our goal is to create gameplay where different tank types allow for distinct experiences. Taken all together, the four individual goals above are aimed at achieving this one overall goal. This is why we are looking for ways of making changes that will allow players to perform different roles in tough battles and feel strong emotions using various tactics.

Aiming at The Goal – What Did We Do?

Penetration Drop and Shot Dispersion – Making Armour Matter

In order to reduce the combat distance, we increased the importance of armour. We made two big changes to accomplish this: we reduced the distance where shell penetration drop began and also increased the dispersion of shots within the aiming circle. These changes made firing from long distance much less effective: the penetration drop change meant shots didn’t get through from as far away, and the change to dispersion meant that players at a distance had to let their aim circle focus further in order to hit, in addition to making a pinpoint shot much harder at distance – so they had to wait longer to shoot effectively from distance as well.

This also reduced the effect of “focused fire” and allowed players to feel more protected and encouraged to leave cover for active combat. Well-armoured vehicles became more popular thanks to their capability of blocking damage with armour, and our collected statistics showed that these changes did reduce the combat distance.

Many players pointed out some problems with the first iteration of these changes: for example, it became harder to aim at weak spots of enemy vehicles not only from afar, but from closer distances as well. Our penetration drop change also significantly affected the course of battle and it may have been too significant of a change – but for both of these features, we decided to make more aggressive changes in this first round of testing, in order to push the boundaries.

In later iterations of the Sandbox, we will make further adjustments to the changed technical characteristics using both statistical information and your feedback. We have been discussing internally the possibility of individual gun adjustment that depends on roles of particular vehicles. We also are discussing individual adjustment of gun accuracy for particular vehicles: knowing the Technical Characteristics of your vehicle and those of the enemy’s vehicle you will be able to make better decisions in each particular situation, which will eventually vary the gameplay.

Varied Gameplay – Tank Roles

There are more than 400 vehicles in World of Tanks. Experienced players can easily evaluate the technical characteristics of a newly purchased vehicle and understand how to play in it. However, this is a much bigger challenge for new players. We decided to simplify this aspect for all players and preliminary divided vehicles into roles according to their most prominent characteristics, so that all players can find vehicles that suit them best. At the same time, we tried to make less critical changes and succeeded in it in several areas.

Dreadnought, cavalry, and scout players quickly understood the offered gameplay. In addition to the changes noted above regarding penetration distance and shot dispersion, we also made a general reduction of View Ranges, which allowed players to be less afraid of being spotted and destroyed from distance, since vehicles that are not intended for “ambush gameplay” were no longer effective in shooting from distance. It encouraged players to perform active manoeuvres and increased importance of scouts.

At the same time, cavalry vehicles and scouts easily circle dreadnoughts, i.e. they now can do what they are intended for.

However, there is much work to be done to improve the balance for some of our other roles: some vehicles do not have a distinctive role or a role has not been determined yet. As for ambush vehicles, their gameplay is not clear enough yet. In the course of the test we found out that fire-support vehicles require a little more attention, since vehicles of this specialization have hard times in battles due to their poor armouring.

In future, we plan making individual changes to vehicles and adjusting the interaction system among vehicles of different roles, keeping equal effectiveness for each one. Moreover, we are considering further options to compensate for the poor armour of fire-support vehicles, and want to further unlock the potential of scouts.

Reworked SPGs

We believe that any vehicle in battle should be interesting at least to two players: the one who uses the vehicle and the one who fights against it. Currently, on production servers, SPGs represent a combination of “the Sword of Damocles” and “Eye of Sauron”—all-seeing vehicles that may perform a sudden, instantly lethal strike to any point of the map. We want to reduce emotional pressure of SPGs upon players by changing the very concept of artillery vehicles while keeping them useful for the team, because the constant fear of being one-shot by an SPG was another huge factor causing players not to break from cover and close distances.

The Sandbox tests show that SPGs can remain useful in battle even without destroying enemies with a single shot with our new SPG mechanics: we managed to reduce effectiveness of “focused fire” at particular targets by reducing penetration and damage caused with HE shells. It resulted in less negative attitude to SPGs, because now they do not destroy enemy vehicles with a single shot. At the same time, changes to the burst radius increased effectiveness of shooting at enemy groups, and the aiming marker for allied SPGs contributed to team play.

This is one of the key changes in the Sandbox, since a completely new SPG mechanic (tested by a large number of players for the first time) was developed; we will keep experimenting with the burst radius and stun duration. It is possible that the final result will be completely different.

Looking Forward – Where Do We Go From Here?

There are many test stages ahead. At the next stage, we originally intended to add Tier VIII and IX vehicles, but after a month we came to a conclusion that we need to work more with Tier X to tune the current mechanics. So far, we cannot reveal all details about changes in the second test iteration, except for a few things that we are sure about. In addition to the changes we have already discussed, we also plan to work on switching between targets and change a little the mechanics of crew injury (known as “stun”).

We are grateful to everyone who participated in the test, shared their feedback, and asked important questions. We appreciate your interest and desire to make the game better, and we hope this note helps to provide more context for what you have seen so far. Stay tuned for more information – as we get closer to the release of the second Sandbox phase, we will provide much more detail about what is coming in that phase.  We will look forward to playing with you in the Sandbox again soon!

58 thoughts on “Sandbox: 1st Iteration Review

    1. Here’s the answer straight from WG:
      “Rework SPG gameplay away from “occasional one shot wreck machines that miss a lot and take forever to reload” to something that is MORE INTERESTING TO BOTH SPG PLAYERS AND THEIR OPPONENTS.”

      Getting shot by arty is more fun in sandbox. If you don’t like getting shot by arty, you’re a statpadder. We need 7 arties in every battle.


      1. Good thing I dont remember those times anymore.
        But less damage/better RoF-Accu is not an option either.

        So maybe…..MAYBE……baby baby baby oh…..arty actually doesnt have place in tank game?

        Of course it doesnt – unretaliateable damage is always a broken mehanic!

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I’ll just quote official forums
    “I tried the sandbox server, played 2 battles, hated it and stopped testing. If those changes happen I will move on to some other game.”

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah sorry, I always forget about that.
        I’m too busy experimenting with ice cream flavors, because the usual ones just didn’t work – so far I found out that garlic, vinegar oil metal flavors don’t work. I’ll keep trying though, rubber and kebab flavor are good ideas methinks.


        1. Fallout 4 has Commonwealth – look how it turned out. Not taking such risks. Could’ve been Lit-Belarus Commonwealth at one point, but the offer was turned down.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Reduce the average distance of combat, favouring more intense close up battles and encouraging more dynamic gameplay over “pixel hunting” and “camping.”

    Thats what we need! Force even more players to play shitty russian tanks only at all tiers who are the best at brawl.
    You like german tanks and would like to play with them but they are underpreforming because of close combat meta? How terrible play with russian tanks 10 vs 10 IS-3 is fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. do you even read? Most popular tank was a Jap medium. 2nd place was french arty. 3rd place was a German heavy.

      No russian stroks at all.

      Maybe that is why they stopped the sandbox early?


  3. ” Reduce the average distance of combat, favouring more intense close up battles and encouraging more dynamic gameplay over “pixel hunting” and “camping.” ”

    WTF, WoT has combat distance so much closer than real life, and WG want to shorten it even more?

    Again, WG devs has issue along with the ruskie playerbase

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WG is diminishing so much the combat distance, that in some days, both teams will spawn 5 meters from each other.

      That’s WG secret plan to solve the maps problems, arty problem, and all the other problems in the game =P


    2. Average tank’s fighting distance in WW2 was around 700m!!!

      In WoT you cannot even shoot at tanks at such a distance anymore UNLESS you play SPG!!!

      Sure, WG way to go to reduce engagement distance even more than as now. REALLY? We already fight at “infantry range” engagement aka at 150m or less nearly 75% of the time and they want to reduce that even further.


      Way to go to make 9nearly 95% of tanks useless, only USSR and China heavies would apply.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. IMO only the USSR HT will benefit the most, not even the Chinese HTs. Even though Chinese HTs have mediocre accuracy but they have prominent weakspots, so stay mid-short range(150m~400m) is more ideal for them.


  4. “Reduce the average distance of combat, favouring more intense close up battles and encouraging more dynamic gameplay over “pixel hunting” and “camping.”

    Liked by 6 people

  5. what the point of scouting when WG force player fight in close combat, NO ONE CAN SNIP and ARTY CANT MAKE MORE DAMAGE like before ? LT will become even more useless than current live server.


    1. Well… That was one of the main problems when I played with lights in SB, you had the best view range, being able to stay unspotted and spot the enemy team, but almost no one could damage them because they were bouncing the side of an E-50M, literally.


  6. Why didnt they mention anything about the huge dissapointment that players experianced with sandbox because they changes too much (mentioned in a former q/a)? They donty even have any critical feedback of what players experianced, just what sandbox 1.0 was planning i.e. the same information that was released when the sandobx opened. There are no feedback what so ever. Really bad conclusion from WG I must say.


  7. Warning: wall of text and an abundance of personal opinions and salt. Reader discretion is advised.

    Completely dumbing down the game is not the way to go. That pen drop and old accuracy sigma were utter bullshit. They obviously don’t care anymore about skilled players and the competitive scene anymore, the Average Joe Gopnik who just wants to press Battle, drive forward, shoot a couple of tanks, die and be over in 4 minutes, that’s where the money comes from. If they want to make things easier for dumb people they could add tips for each tank.
    “Pixel hunting” and “camping” barely even exists anymore due to map design, you literally have no more than 100m of dangerous open space on most maps.
    Tanks being forced into “roles”, it’s not an MMORPG god damnit. Some tanks should be good at a couple of things, not just one, others should be good in something else, or if the tanks are very similar to each other – different flavors of the similar role or playstyle. Keep things different, interesting and fun, unlike Leopard-AMX 30 or T-62-Obj 140. I get it that there areat least 30-40 tanks in the same tier and it can be hard to diferentiate one from the other, but at least they could try that way.
    Premium tanks should not be inferior to their tech tree counterparts. There should be fun and interesting premium tanks (like the premium ships in WoWS), and premium tanks generally similar to a tech tree line, which should be used for crew training.
    Increasing the importance of armor could easily be solved by removing or reworking gold ammo. Or making it an alternate ammo type like in AW, and find another type of credit sink so players would still need premium account.
    Once T10 LTs are introduced, view range should globally be dropped by 10-20m while LT should get a mobility and view range (30-40m) advantage over all MT.
    Accuracy spread for individual tanks is actually a decently sounding idea, like how different ships have different sigma values.
    Low tier balance is absolute cancer. I understand that it’s not in WG’s interest to keep many players playing lowtiers, but for the love of god at least make them have a chance against higher tiers so they don’t quit the game 5 days after they started playing (T3-5 is probably the biggest power gap in the game, and it’s well known that T3 mostly gets matched against higher tiers. Hell, even T3-4 is already a big gap)
    Since there is absolutely 0 chance that WG will remove arty as unretaliatable damage dealers, I’d say it’s on the right course. No more bullshit oneshots (worst thing in the fucking universe is when a clicker oneshots you without prevously shooting anywhere nearby *salty rant over*), and the stun mechanic, however annoying it might be, is still better than getting oneshot or getting half your HP taken away. Max 2 arties per team. And perhaps they could add a whizzing sound when an arty shell is flying toward you, a sort of sound warning. It will still be annoying, but way less than it is now.
    I’m not liking the idea of “3-5-7” MM. While bottom tier tanks will have a chance against higher tier opponents, top tiers (especially platooned ones) will have endless possibilities to farm. They should force the MM into +/-0 or +/-1 for the first 30 seconds or so, so everyone has a chance to get mostly the same conditions.
    There is little hope in me that WG will think about reducing the abysmal pen, accuracy and damage RNG. RNG should not completely negate skill. Bad players can have a chance to stand against excellent players because of RNG, and that’s probably why so many people flocked to WoT in the first place. But a lot of times good players aren’t able to outplay worse ones because RNG screwed them over or it favored the opponent.

    WG should focus more on making their game better, instead of focusing on releasing new, exclusive or OP premium tanks. It might turn out to be even more profitable than premiums.


    1. Re: viewrange changes – (I’m not saying this 100% will happend but) if you drop the current viewrange by 10-20m, everyone will just drop vents and mount optics like they used to and end up with the same VR. Although you do limit getting really high VR.
      If you drop it much further, like by 40-50m, you’ll end up with big open locations controlled by LT’s – something similar is happening now – think Siegfried Line field, El Halluf mid, Murovanka village, almost entire Highway.

      Key to improving LT’s is adding bushes or alternatively ridgeline which they can use for spot, but they need to be balanced, not like oldschool bushes where having a bad scout meant loss for your team. I don’t want to rely on some 45%-er in LT to be able to do anything in the battle.


  8. It is interesting that WG wants to promote close range engagements and make people feel that armor matters when in fact most tanks don’t even have much armor to begin with.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. <>

    OK then, when these sandbox changes hit the live server, my WoT career is officially over.
    If these fucking idiots really believe that tank warfare was all about peek-a-booming around a corner, then they deserve their offices to be bombed by ISIS.

    Sure, EVERYTHING catered towards Russian boomsticks, sniper tanks can go fuck themselves, our average customer has IQ measured in single-digit numbers, they can’t be assed to actually think from time to time!


    Liked by 1 person

  10. First they reduce accuracy and increase pen drop to encourace close range fighting, and then they buffed base pen of “support tenks” because these should fight at medium to long range. In other words there will still be tenks in new balance they prevent people from pushing, similar to now. And there must be long range tenks because they have low armor and “cant” brawl. All the balance 2.0 does with the accuracy and pen nerfs is encouraging people to shoot more gold.

    If WG truely wanted closer range fighthing, they would have to remove all tenks with bad armor and remove gold totally. But now they have many problematic tanks with bad armor that are forced to play second line support/snipe/camp. Only solution would be to buff mobiluty absurdly or buff HP to the point where the low armor dont matter. Or any shit like that. Tanks with no armor ruin the game really.


      1. There are superunicums that dont use any gold at all and they play at least tier 8 and upwards. Your argument is ivnvalid, you can be very good with only using standard ammo and good positioning. Kid.


        1. Not talking about gold now, talking about your obsession with armor. There is little camping that is actually useful, usually team that camps loses, unicums play agressively to get the DMG.
          You are obsessed with pushing, if you could push w/o taking any damage because you have insane armor what would skill in the game be?
          You want to remove tanks with no armor. Diversity hello? Might aswell rename the game to World Of Heavy Tanks.

          Like I said, stupid HT players ruin this game from the start.


          1. You should be pushing without taking damage, but that should not be due to excessive armor, but to map design and absesne of gold ammo. I use the hitlog that shows the type of ammo, and I manage much better when people shoot regular ammo, even by +1 tier tanks.

            The problem is now days maps and gold ammo. maps that make tenks specialt heavys standing hull down and camping preventing people from moving, and/or people that use gold that fucks you up in either situation.


            1. Many maps are in reality bad and they offer too much randomness and positions that encourage static gameplay. Positions that are so strong that it isnt any point moving from them.

              The only time people really push is if they are using a broken tank such as is3 or e5 or any other silly shit that is resistance to gold ammo due to very thick armor or spaced armor bullshit. It shoiuld be like in the old days where HTs pushed and where MTs and TDs were acting support and flanking, tracking in close range. Not like now with this long range bullshit.


              1. By pushing, you gain map control/better position. Losing HP is a tradeoff for it. It would not make any sense if any tomato could push without losing HP.

                Get good, learn how to play the game and stop being a whiny bitch is my suggestion for you. Maybe then you’ll realize why what you propose is bullshit.


  11. You should loose HP, in actual battle, not while pushing to a position that is crucial. A reason that maps got balanced was just because HTs lost too much HP while pushing into their positions. That is also the problem with arty, they make tenks loose HP while not even being in battle against them.

    If people can just sit back and snipe (make damage while taking,little risk), what initiative does it give HTs to push? What is the point trying to play your role if youy take too much damage before getting into position and actual battle? Of course people can snipe and flank etc, but HTs must be able to move into position first. Right now, you can get hindered very close to your own base and that is wrong and not fun for anybody. People must be able to get into positions. What if fast TDs and MTs would get stopped before they would take their ususla camping/sniping spots, how fun would that be? Well the situation is the same for HTs, they GET stopped very often before they get into position, thanks to arty, gold ammo and general low bob snipercampers.

    Why do you think fast tanks are so favoured by unicums, or fast tenks with armor (E5, 113, is3, etc)? Why are not tenks like tiger II, e75, caern, kv4 etc so favoured anymore? Something is wrong. Guns and mobility is too fucking important, specialy if the tenk has both guns, mobility AND armor AND use gold ammo. It creates such a big differance that is is not fun or competitive for many tanks these deys.

    In old days it was more about skill, you had to flank and track and work as a team to take down armored tanks. Now days, people just press 2 and snipe armored tanks to death, or stay hull down whoring like noobs. NO, maps and game must be made so HTs and MTs can safely engage enemies closer and actually “fight” for the victory. Like in the old days, where accuracy forced you to move closer and when there only were a few high pen guns and NO fucking gold ammo.

    I always like close to medium range fight, brawl, charge and track, even in tenks like panther II, caernarvon and tiger II which dont have “good” armor. But then you are 2nd line support (which is not the same as standing far back, it simply means you shoot when enemies reload or look for opportunities where enemies dont focus you). So ywah you can fucking make tenks with mediocre armor work in close range, I do it all time and I manage very good, just like in the old days. Even WG said that they will compensate tenks with low armor in other areas and tenks with mediocre armor are compensated even now with better gun handling and aim time etc, so they dont have to expose themselöves so much in close to medium range. But bobs are not satisfied they dont get IT.


  12. The idea with WGs initial tenk balance is generaly good. Tanks with low armor get better gun handling so they can fight in close to medium range among armored targets, but they can get away since they dont have to expose themselves so much (due to lower aim time and better accuracy). But it is the players who force WG do do these changes since they simply dont engage in fighting. Just because a tank has medioce armor doesnt mean it has to snipe. If the team has armored tanks, it can support it by letting it charge and then support with effective fire (due to better guns). But some where tenk balance got destroyed where we have tenks with both good guns, armor and mobility, and that is why tenks with low armor is getting less relevant in brawling or tanks with good armor due to gold ammo.

    If you looks at very old videos from wot where there was no gold ammo, you can see tenks like caern, tiger II, panther II and kv4 were playing much more agressive and got away with it because they simply played their roles. They could push and flank and track, and enemies that didnt aim well simly didnt hurt them so much and silly campers far away posessed less threat due to the random accuracy and lack of gold ammo. This is what I miss. Game was good up untill 8.6, minus the arty inflation and gold ammo inflation.


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