All-Round SPG Revision
Arty gameplay has been the topic of heated discussion for quite a while now. In a nutshell, they are little fun whether you drive them or fight them. The latter camp often suffers from sudden, crippling damage, making you question the point of all the effort you put into playing. It makes the game less fluid as people cling to cover to avoid instant destruction. Instead of countering camping, it often facilitates it. On the other hand, SPGs themselves aren’t a smooth ride either. They miss a lot and take forever to reload.
To help arty claim their rightful place in combat without ruining the fun for others, we introduced a set of changes to their combat parameters and mechanics in the Sandbox. The test showed that the SPG revision facilitates teamwork and makes matches more fluid and fairer.
An increased rate of fire and accuracy, the removal of all AP and HEAT rounds, a stun effect that can be reduced with reusable First Aid Kits and Spall Liners turn SPGs into long-range support fire vehicles. Instead of dealing massive damage, forcing draws and base camping, they now work in close cooperation with the rest of the team, soften targets and help set the attack direction from afar. The penalty for getting hit dropped off a lot and isn’t going to send you back to the Garage. So, heavy tanks are less afraid to push out and lead an assault. They might get hit by an arty shell, but it isn’t devastating.
After a good four rounds of testing and dozens of balance tweaks, revised arty are ready to make their way onto live servers. And we are here to break down the major changes they are getting in 9.18 in extra detail:
- To reshape arty into efficient team players, we introduced an all-new stun mechanic. Now, tanks in the arty burst radius have their characteristics temporarily weakened. It means that SPGs can help their team turn the tide of the battle by supporting the assault from afar and giving their team a few precious seconds to break the defense lines and catch the enemy by surprise. As for the other camp, arty won’t kick you out from the game in a single shot the way it did. Now it worsens your mobility, accuracy, and reload time for a short period. When the stun duration passes, you can fight on.
- There are a number of ways in which the stun effect can be reduced. Along with a vehicle’s armor that helps partially absorb it, the negative impact of arty can be minimized further with (newly) multiuse equipment and consumables: Spall Liners (superheavy, heavy, medium, light) cut the stun duration by 10%; Premium First Aid Kits reduce it by 5%. Superheavy Spall Liners prove the most effective against stun as they absorb explosive damage better.
- To stress arty’s role as long-range support fire, we increased the HE shell burst radius. With a smaller gap between direct hits and a near misses (in terms of damage dealt), shooting at multiple targets is now more efficient than picking just one. This change, together with the introduction of the stun mechanic, should force SPGs to change their play style and aim to hit multiple targets, letting their teammates finish the job.
- To get rid of frustrating one-shots, we considerably lowered the penetration and damage per shot (DPS) for HE shells, while also removing AP, APCR, and HEAT shells for SPGs. Of course, one-shots are still possible if the shell lands on the target and hits its ammo rack, but the chances of it happening are close to zero now.
- To compensate for the reduction in DPS and penetration values, we decreased SPG dispersion on the move and their reload time, while also improving aiming time and accuracy. Now they can efficiently redirect fire and quickly come to the rescue of teammates on several flanks.
As long-range support vehicles, it’s critical that SPGs coordinate their actions with fellow players to help their team succeed. To facilitate team communication and increase the clarity and readability of the battle, we introduced several new UI elements:
Target area marking for friendly vehicles
Now arty can alert the team to where they will shoot, so their fellow tankers can ready themselves for an attack and get out of the blast radius. To display a special marker showing the area you are targeting, simply press the Requesting fire/Attacking key (“T” by default). Its radius will be the same as the shell blast arc.
Arty can see the damage their teammates deal to stunned vehicles (also included in their after-battle stats as damage dealt with their assistance), while all players can see the countdown of the remaining stun time right above the vehicle affected by it. If you are stunned, along with the stun time, you get a lowdown on HP lost and how your combat parameters decreased, in the lower left of the HUD (similar to when your vehicle drowns or catches fire).
Inspired by the fan-favorite Battle Assistant, it changes the aiming display for SPGs and gives a clear flight path of the projectile, as well as a good overview of the terrain, allowing you to aim better. It works well around large obstacles and is especially handy in urban areas and on uneven terrain. Switching between regular and alternative aim will help you make a well-thought-out shot.
Stretching Light Tank Branches to Tier X
Light tanks first appeared as support fire vehicles to spot enemies and work in tandem with other tanks, rather than an independent unit. As such, light tanks (Tier IV+) presently have special matchmaking and face vehicles that are up to three Tiers higher than they are.
This special matchmaking was initially introduced to let Tier VIII light tanks into Tier X battles. But tanks with powerful cannons and decent view ranges came along, easily destroying light tanks and making scouts almost useless. In today’s game, light tanks barely deal much damage and are quite ineffective against vehicles of a higher tier. This means that they either stay put instead of helping the team, or get destroyed quickly when they scout.
To even the odds and introduce regular ±2 matchmaking, light tank branches now start at Tier V and reach to Tier X. With the matchmaker’s ability to quickly build diverse teams, light tanks no longer have to suffer and can make an impact in battle. While still support units, they now have decent enough firepower and excellent speed to add to the battle. Tier X light tanks are swifter and more maneuverable than their counterparts at lower Tiers. Their gun stabilization, penetration power and hit damage allow them to excel in close- and mid-range combat. These stats encourage light tanks to constantly be on the move and change firing positions. Possessing guns a little less powerful than medium tanks, they still have enough penetration power to pierce the side and rear armor of heavy vehicles. Their speed, camouflage, and firepower make them a formidable unit when utilized effectively.
To ensure that these renewed branches fit into the confines of the ±2 rule, we also rebalanced all light tanks. It should erase abrupt changes in gameplay within one branch. Vehicles that currently reside on Tier VIII moved up a tier, with the only exception being the Chinese Tech Tree. It welcomed two completely new light tanks: the WZ-132-1 at Tier X and the WZ-132A at Tier IX.
What happens to modules, XP, Crew, emblems and camo you have on light tanks?
- Configuration. If you have vehicles that changed a Tier in 9.18 and they are researched to the top configuration, they retain it upon changing.
- Crew moves with the tank. Fully-trained Crew is transferred back to the Barracks and re-trained to 100% for a new Tier. If you have Crew trained to 100% on a light tank that moves up a Tier, but don’t have this tank in the Garage at the update’s release, the Crew will be retrained for a higher Tier regardless.
- Emblems and camo. Emblems and camo bought with Gold and mounted on Tier VIII vehicles that move up to Tier IX will be removed. But fear not; you’ll get the amount of Gold they cost you credited to your account. Temporary emblems and camo you have on vehicles that move up a Tier will be removed as well. In this case, you receive the amount in Credits proportional to their remaining duration. Unique emblems and camo are here to stay: they’ll get de-mounted from Tier VIII vehicles and you can apply them to any other tank.
The work on 9.18 is far from over. It touches upon several key gameplay components that have been a source of controversy, and attempts to get them right through changes driven by the player community at large. Although these changes have passed the Sandbox test, we want all of you to have a chance to really put them through their paces, play a lot of games and share your impressions with us. Join the Common Test and let’s make the game better, together!