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Hello, and welcome back to “A Survival Guide!” Today, we’re covering a rather difficult subject, but one that all new players will (unfortunately) have to deal with: how to best play your tank without crew skills, particularly 6th Sense. It's possible to play very successfully without crew skills, but doing so can be exceptionally difficult, especially for newer players who are still learning the fundamentals of general gameplay. We will explain how to best maximize your potential to successfully play World of Tanks without even the most vital crew skills and perks.
Note that we said “skills” AND “perks.” What is the difference between the two?
Skills become effective immediately, with your current “percentage” in the skill being applied against the maximum possible benefit of the skill to determine the current benefit. For example, if you choose Situational Awareness as a skill for your Radio Operator, at 100% effectiveness, it will provide a maximum of a 3% increase to your vehicle’s base view range. Thus, if your current “percentage” in the skill is 10%, you will receive a 0.3% increase to your vehicle’s base view range.
Perks, in contrast, only become effective when your “percentage” in them reaches 100%. They do, quite literally, nothing at all up until that point. This is why, as we discussed in our earlier article, unless you are STRONGLY credit/gold constrained, it is worth choosing skills first, and then once the skills reach 100%, re-training to get a perk (assuming that what you really wanted was the perk). The most common mistake we see in this area is that people will choose Brothers In Arms (a perk, usually referred to as BIA) as their first proficiency. This means that they receive no benefits whatsoever to any of their crew members until they have all reached 100% in BIA, which can take quite a long time.
The first question I ever asked out loud in World of Tanks is quite simple: “How the &$*@#$!!! can someone see me and is shooting me?!?!?!” It was the map “Province”, and I was in a I T1 Cunningham . It was a perfect illustration of the fact that when you are a new player, you don’t EVEN know what you don’t know. What I didn’t know was that: 1) I had no clue what View Range was and 2) I had no clue what ‘spots’ on my tank would allow me to be seen
View range, put simply, is the farthest distance at which a particular tank can spot an enemy tank. This distance is a limit, however, and not all tanks within the “circle” of your view range will be spotted because of the effects of camouflage. If the enemy tank is not moving (unless it’s a light tank, as the special ability of light tanks is that moving does not reduce their camouflage value), is behind cover, or has not fired their gun recently, then you may need to be closer than your maximum view range in order to spot them, as camouflage acts to reduce your effective view range with respect to the tank you are trying to spot.
So how does your tank get spotted? On every tank in World of Tanks, there are 8 positions on your tank which the game server “checks” to see if it's within Line of Sight (LOS) of another tank. Four positions are pretty simple: the middle of the front, rear, and each side of your tank. If any of these points are exposed to the LOS of an enemy, they can see you. In addition to the four positions on the hull, there are four more on the turret: the mantlet (NOT the gun!), the top of your commander’s hatch, and the middle of the left and right sides. Again, if these are positioned in a way which is within LOS of an enemy, they can spot you and shoot you even if you cannot spot or see them.
So, how can you use this information to your advantage? First and foremost: always assume that if you’re moving, there’s a strong chance you’re spotted. Second, utilize the mini-map to your advantage! Most of the better players in World of Tanks check their mini-maps in the same way many of us hopefully check our speed limit while driving in an area known for speed traps! If someone is within 445 meters of you, and has LOS to your position, you’re probably going to be spotted and shot at. How can you tell if they’re within 445 meters? The white circle on your minimap is drawn at 445 meters from your tank, so if the enemy is within the white circle, they are within 445 meters. Now, this can vary for tanks of different classes. Scout tanks keep their camo ability at 100% on the move, so they can often move in the open freely to sometimes 400 meters. For medium tanks, the distance is about 425 meters, while most other classes can be spotted at the full 445 meters while on the move.
There are other indicators that you’re spotted, and need to take “hard” cover (indestructible buildings, terrain, dead tanks, etc). First and most obviously, you’re being shot at! Second: If a tank you’re shooting at turns their gun towards you and pauses for a second, you’re probably spotted. Third: Sound. Loud explosion on a building nearby? Probably arty. Puff marks and sound on the ground nearby? They’re missing you. Fourth: Suddenly 3 or 4 tanks are visible within your view range? They’ve all probably started shooting at you!.
There are exceptions to all of these, but you can successfully these principles in ~90% of the in-game situations you will find yourself in.
So now, you’ve ground out some low tiers and are now into the meat and potatoes of World of Tanks: tiers 5 and 6, where the differences between Light Tanks, Scout Tanks, Medium Tanks, Heavy Tanks, and Tank Destroyers becomes more apparent. You want to play your brand new V KV-1 , V KV-1S , or V T1 Heavy Tank , for example. Since the previous tanks in those lines were Medium Tanks, you’ve probably bought a brand-new crew for your new Heavy Tank. With this new crew you should start training Repairs. Repairs is possibly the 2nd most important skill, as it increases your survivability more than any other skill in the game (with the exception of 6th Sense) for the majority of tanks.
However, since your crew is new and you haven’t yet trained your Repair skill very much, your repair time feels like it takes forever, and you’re finding that you’re dying VERY quickly as you’re unable to repair your tracks quickly enough to get out of danger. How do you mitigate this problem?
First, go into the “Controls” section of the Game Settings, bind your second consumable spot to the “5” key, and then make sure you equip your Small Repair Kit in the second consumable spot (which will correspond to the “5” key). Why does this help? Because when you activate your repair kit, your tracks are always selected for repair by pressing the “5” key. Thus, binding your keys and equipping your repair kit in this way means that double tapping the “5” key will allow you to select the repair icon, and then your tracks.
Second, pay close attention to your positioning (and particularly the angle at which you expose your tracks and tank to the enemy) and how it affects track and vehicle damage. Lose your tracks to a shot? That’s ok much of the time - unless the enemy tank can fire quickly enough to keep you permanently tracked, you can just wait until your crew repairs your tracks and retreat. Lose your tracks and your health at the same time? You’re over-angled!
Finally, if you have credits to spare or have utilized sales correctly, you can use the premium consumables “Large Repair Kit” and “Food” for your tank. If the large repair kit is un-used, it decreases your repair time by 10% for a damaged module. Food will decrease your repair time by an effective 5%, equaling a reduction in repair time of of 15%. Wargaming has indicated that they’re moving towards consumables having repeated use throughout a battle after a cool-down period, which will greatly help the utility of these consumables.
There are other tips and tricks you can learn, but these can provide a solid base to start from.
Now you’ve ground to tank destroyers like the T67 or Hellcat, or to scout tanks like the Chaffee or T37, and you know you’re going to do a lot of sniping and scouting. In this case, the ability to not be seen is paramount, so Camouflage is an excellent first skill to select. The Camouflage skill increases the base camo value of your tank in all three conditions - stationary, while moving, and after shooting. Using the T67 (US Tier 5 Tank Destroyer) as an example, the base Camouflage values are 20.63 stationary, 12.36 while moving, and 5.36 after shooting (higher values are better). For a crew where all crew members have Camouflage trained to 100%, those values increase to 37.44 stationary, 22.43 while moving, and 9.73 after shooting, respectively - nearly double the base values!
STRV-S1 without Crew Skills
STRV-S1 With a Full Camo Crew
However, like repairs, this can take a while to train and in the meanwhile, you’re getting shot at all the time, even when you’re pretty sure you’re safe since you’ve learned about your mini-map! Or, you’re in a scout tank and you’re attempting to scout effectively for your team. How can we maximize your potential?
First, minimize your exposure over ridge lines where there is no “Cover” (meaning bushes or trees to help keep your tank hidden while you spot). Some tanks and tank destroyers have good gun depression (essentially, how far downwards you can point the barrel of the gun relative to the tank hull). With such tanks (American tanks, for example, nearly all feature excellent gun depression), you’re very often able to only expose your turret while firing. However, other tanks such as the SU-85, SU-100 will have very little depression making ridges harder to use. There are two ways around this.
First, micro-terrain features can often allow your tank to be hull down on flat terrain, without needing to expose over a ridge. Second, you can learn to manipulate your tank with terrain so that you’re sideways on a slope, peaking over. Be careful, though, as this can allow your tracks to be exposed. And finally, if you can’t get the shot you want by moving forward, try backing up. Wait, what? By backing up the rear slope of a hill, you’re able to raise the rear of your tank hull higher than the front, and thus create “extra” gun depression as most guns in World of Tanks have much better elevation (the range at which your gun will point upwards) than depression. This can allow you to still fire over a hill while minimizing your exposure, even in tanks with poor gun depression (Chinese mediums i’m looking at you). Please keep in mind, though, this WILL expose some of the weakest armor on your vehicle (the rear engine deck and the top of your turret) and should be used with caution!
Second, make use of bushes and trees. Both bushes and trees can increase the Camouflage value of your vehicle as long as you keep your 8 spotting checkpoints hidden behind the bush or tree. Two things to keep in mind - not all bushes and trees provide the same amount of camouflage (roughly, they provide between a static 10% and 50% increase in Camouflage, depending on their density), and trees provide Camouflage whether standing or knocked over, but in either condition, trees only provide Camouflage if you properly position your tank entirely behind the part of the tree that is providing Camouflage. What this means is that you should knock trees down perpendicular to the angle from which you expect the enemy to approach to maximize their effectiveness as Camouflage. It is also important to remember that bush and tree camo is additive - so if you are behind more than one, you get the benefit of Camouflage from both. This is one of the easiest ways to fire at other tanks while not being spotting - just sit behind lots of dense bushes.
Third, pay attention to whether the bush or tree you are sitting behind is translucent or opaque. If the bush is translucent, that means that you are within 15m of it, and it will provide its full Camo benefit as long as you do not fire your gun. If you fire your gun, for several seconds all bushes within 15 meters no longer stack their Camo values - only the densest bush is counted, and its value is reduced to 30% of its maximum. In contrast, if the bush is opaque, you are more than 15m away from it, and you will not lose the benefit of its full Camo if you fire your gun. Of course, when the bush is translucent, you may spot through it, but when it is opaque, you cannot. You know now how to camo snipe from bushes - go forth and abuse your fellow tankers!
If you really want to play around with camo values and how they change under various game conditions, http://www.wotinfo.net/en/camo-calculator is an excellent resource.
Just… don't. Don't train this skill. Not yet. This is like, 5th on the list of priorities and we hope that Wargaming will re-work this skill before you even get to this point! The only time this skill is really useful is when you get VERY experienced crews (and you’re very good at the game) and you want to run food (a premium consumable) instead of a fire extinguisher. And if you’re already that good, you’re probably not reading this guide. If you ARE already that good and are reading this guide, uh, hi Carbonward!
Often in discussions about crews or what someone’s crew looks like, all too often we’ve found players training “Brothers in Arms (BIA)” first, over other skills as they’ve been told it's a great Perk to have. Notice though, we’re calling it a “perk” instead of “Skill.” As a perk, that each crew member MUST have at 100% to be effective, this is NOT worth in the slightest to train immediately. As a rule of thumb, BIA should come after 6th sense, and either camo or repairs. I personally train my crews in this manner:
I start with 6th sense, and camo or repairs on everyone else. When I'm ready to train a second skill, I start training repairs on my commander and then camo or repairs on everyone else. Once I am able to train a 3rd skill, I will then reset my crew for BIA on everyone, 6th sense on commander, repairs or camo on everyone else, and then select either repairs or camo as the third skill. The reasoning behind this is simple, but makes the most sense: The longer you survive, the longer you can deal damage. The more damage you deal, the greater your chance at winning. Improving your survivability as fast as possible is the best chance you have making the most out of World of Tanks.