The new and possibly last iteration of Sandbox is here, and some of the most important questions regarding game balance will be addressed here. This new patch titled the “New Balance” is one of the most important things to happen to the game in its history and I will be breaking it down for you readers what you should expect from the patch.
I will be approaching each change individually and provide mine as well as RagingRaptor‘s experience with the new patch and give you our ideas on how Wargaming should improve upon it.
Revising Established Shell Ecosystem
Changes to AP are very significant – it ranges from +5 damage to low caliber autocannons to +300 AP damage on the largest guns. However, this is the wrong approach to the game. Increasing AP damage conflicts with game balance – tanks with large cannons receive a major buff to their overall DPM while using AP, and this value is usually bigger than the current HP increases for all tanks. For example, the Tortoise, with its ridiculous highest potential damage output has 22.5% higher DPM, the WZ-120-1G with a 22.8% DPM increase, Strv 103B – 21.8%, Badger – 22.9%, Grille 15 – 23.9%, Jagdpanzer E-100 – 24.8%. These massive DPM increases counteract Wargaming’s attempts to increase survivability by having adverse effect to HP buffs.
Furthermore, the problem lies within premium shells as well – not only they have less damage, their insane 5x bigger cost stays, which is very problematic when facing some “broken” armor vehicles. The AP shell increase doesn’t matter when some tanks in the game have outright broken armor and in fact it makes the meta worse as tanks have increased HP pools, which buffs broken tanks with impenetrable with AP shells frontal armor ( 279(e), looking at you). Not only now tanks like 279(e) have better DPM with their AP rounds and more hitpoints, other heavy tanks like E-100 are essentially at their mercy as they are forced to fire premium shells with less alpha damage to have any sort of fighting chance against a tank like Object 279(e).
The approach Wargaming took to balance the shells is rather horrible. Instead, Wargaming should leave AP shells as-is and nerf current premium ammo damage by 25%. This approach is not going to increase the DPM of all tanks and instead tackle the issue – Premium ammo having next to no disadvantages. But this is not optimal either – some tanks are getting an indirect buff with this change, which leads me to include a new point Wargaming has not included in their “New Balance”:
GLOBAL TANK REBALANCE
The only way to fix the problems premium ammo nerf will arise is to nerf the all broken tanks in the same patch as the premium ammo rebalance. Chieftain, Object 279(e), Object 907, Object 430U, Super Conqueror, etc – these vehicles have efficiency parameters a lot higher than other vehicles and rely on their absurd armor to protect them. This must be changed in order for premium ammo rebalance to be succesful. Biggest culprit here is especially the Object 279(e) – having no lower plate, this vehicle is a big RNG machine and nearly impenetrable to AP shells, meaning it uses the HP buff and its own higher AP shell damage to be even more competitive in the current meta. These vehicles must be rebalanced or any sort of attempts at rebalancing the game will fail.
Back to actual changes that are being tested in the Sandbox.
Changes to HE Shells
The new changes to HE shells are pitiful to say the least. Wargaming’s excuse to make “HE damage more predictable” has had quite literally the opposite result – new HE damage is incredibly inconsistent (as showcased here) and nearly useless in most scenarios. Tanks like our good old E-100 have horrible HE damage and when fighting Object 279(e)’s can’t reliably cause damage to the vehicle, giving them another indirect buff.
Not only this, removing HE shell penetration buffs vehicles like FV4005 and other tanks with horrible armor significantly. This should not be the case, as it will lead to the simple rule of what a good vehicle is – (Mobility, Firepower, Armor) to simply be redundant and leave mobility and firepower as the main important factors of what a good tank is, as paper vehicles can’t be punished anymore.
However, there is, in my humble opinion, no need to change HE shells and how they function. Not only they are usually not a great choice of shells on a one-on-one heavy tank scenario, a player will always deal more damage with an AP or Premium shells unless firing at a paper armor target, meaning non-HE shells are far more useful in hands of skilled players’ when it is not the correct situation to use HE. This factor alone constitutes as a valid factor to leave HE as-is and focus on changing premium shells instead.
Tank Health Buff
While I understand Wargaming’s idea of making tanks more survivable, this really is not necessary as long as many vehicles that are unbalanced exist. In the current meta, changing hitpoints of tanks above tier V or VI is a stretch, and I do not agree with the new meta. If Wargaming also rebalances many overpowered vehicles that rely on armor and are impervious to AP frontally, this change would be rather welcome for even higher tier tanks. What has to be mentioned though, is that hitpoint buffs of vehicles of tier IV or lower are extremely important to a beginning player, as many veterans enjoy one-clipping tier II vehicles in their Light VIc’s or vehicles of similar type. This change to lower tiers ensures that the meta will be far more forgiving and less ruthless to new players.
With the new rework, artillery got back their old AP shells back again. However, with the changed HE mechanics, the HE damage they deal is a lot weaker and, overall, artillery has been nerfed this patch. The AP shells aren’t very effective with the unpredictable accuracy of artillery and overall, I quite like the changes to artillery.
Tech Tree Rework
Personally, I quite like the changes to the Tech Trees. While the removal of over 90 vehicles from the tech tree seems like a big deal, it really is not. These vehicles are not leaving the game and are getting a new special – Collector’s – status. For a new player, this change will save a lot of headache and simplify the trees.
Also, the addition of new more fitting vehicles to the trees (BT-5, Cavalier, T6) and the role changes of some other tanks like Crusader, VK 30.01P and T54E1 will fit the lines and playstyles they represent far more.
However, my main point of concern is the removal of some high tier vehicles, like the 113. Wargaming, please credit these vehicles to the owners of these tanks and do not monetize them in an unfair way. These vehicles would be a good addition to the bond shop and it would make the rather bland roster of tanks there more lively.
While this patch is the beginning of shifting to the right direction for the game, they are doing so in a very extreme way and are not tackling the main underlying problems. Wargaming, please do a global tank rebalance. Don’t simply cancel the reworks simply cause they don’t work and make sure they do work by listening to the community.
I can applaud Wargaming’s efforts to at least make the game better for beginners, but with some of nonsensical changes that were included it is hard to rate this patch, or at least the ammo rework part of it, positively.