We're setting up a new and special test server dubbed the "Sandbox" server, where we'll work with you to test new game balance changes in World of Tanks. Your participation will help us gather feedback on possible changes, and you'll have more opportunities to influence development moving forward!
While we can't reveal all the details yet, we can say one of the things you'll test is some new ways we're thinking about artillery!
How do I get access to Sandbox?
Fill out and submit an application via the button below:
Not everyone will receive access to the Sandbox. The criteria for choosing participants will depend on the specific purpose of each stage of testing, but the bottom line is: we're looking for active players who love our game and want to collaborate with us to make World of Tanks better!
How do I know my application is approved?
If you get access, you'll receive an email to the address linked to your game account and an in-game notification.
Access to the test server can be terminated or restricted at any time for non-compliance with the EULA and Terms of Service.
As stated in section 16 ("Beta Tests") of the World of Tanks Terms of Service, “[t]he beta games, including information about features and functionality to be offered as part of the games, are confidential.” Any information sharing from the Sandbox server (live broadcasts, video reports, etc.) is prohibited unless Wargaming representatives have given the participant permission to do so. You can request permission to publish such materials on this Sandbox forum thread.
2. Sandbox FAQ
How does Wargaming determine who can be a tester?
Our main goal is to get the most quality reviews possible from enthusiastic tankers. Sometimes we're interested in a very specific type of player depending on what we're testing. For example, if we want to test changes on a heavy tank, we'll select players that have experience playing heavy tanks.
Don't worry -- your application is stored in the system and you won't need to reapply.
How often are applications processed?
We invite participants every few weeks, so that we can get fresh eyes on the changes. When choosing participants, we check the criteria for the current testing phase, not in the order which players applied.
Why not give test access to everyone?
The Sandbox is a small, fast-paced environment where developers can work closely with target groups of players testing Balance 2.0 and new gameplay elements. This environment must remain positive and constructive where developers and testers can collaborate effectively. We're looking for positive and involved tankers, inviting new participants every few weeks to ensure the testers are active.
What kind of rules will there be on the test server? Will Wargaming be monitoring foul language or other bad behavior?
The same rules from our game server apply to the test server, and we'll be monitoring this behavior in the same way. With the goal of creating a constructive and positive atmosphere during testing, any inappropriate or negative behavior towards other participants will result in the loss of access, without the right to appeal.
How can I apply to be a tester?
Any player can apply to participate. Go here to submit an application or check on a pending application. If you've been selected, you'll receive an email with information on how to proceed.
Will my test account be empty?
48 hours after your application is approved, you'll see all your vehicles, Gold, Credits and other in-game goods on the test server. There will not be any changes made to your live account.
Where do I find information about new tests?
The main source of information about the test server will be on the Sandbox forum threads that will be created for discussion. Keep in mind that all gameplay features found on the Sandbox server are not final and some may never appear in the game.
How do I find other testers?
Join other participants in chat on the test server.
Where do I leave my feedback?
Feel free to share your feedback on the Sandbox forum thread.
Why is the test server unavailable?
When we update the server, it will become unavailable. When this happens, try logging in an hour or two later. If the Sandbox server is still unavailable, please check the test forum where you'll find downtime notifications.
Why do I have such high ping?
The Sandbox server is located in Frankfurt, Germany and has a lower bandwidth than live game servers. If you usually play on the NA server, it's likely that you'll experience higher ping than usual.
Why can't I find opponents?
The Sandbox server has fewer players than on live servers, so matchmaking may take longer than usual.
What languages does the server support?
The test client will be available in English and Russian only.
Do you need feedback or can I just play?
We're very interested in your feedback because that's a huge part of how we're making changes!
3. Global Rebalance Testing
The first iteration of the previously discussed Sandbox test server is ready! We're sure you're excited and full of questions, so read on for more!
First Iteration of Testing
We plan to test different approaches to game balance and, if the community approves and it meets specifications, we'll implement the changes. The primary goal of the first iterations of the Sandbox is to balance top-tier vehicles, such as various tier X vehicles and tier VIII light tanks. Any approved changes will then "trickle down" to lower-tier vehicles.
What Do You Get to Play With?
Participants start with 5,000,000
Double Credit earning
Participants will receive 500 each day they log in
Each tank has a 100% trained Crew with enough XP to learn three skills
Purchasing Premium shells with Credits is disabled
Tanks that will be on participants' accounts: Ru251, T49, Т-54 ltwt., Bat.-Châtillon 155 58, G.W. E 100, Conqueror Gun Carriage, T92, Object 261, 121, 113, TVP T 50/51, AMX 30 B, Bat.-Châtillon 25 t, AMX 50 B, E-100, Leopard1, Grille 15, Jagdpanzer E 100, E 50 Ausf. M, Maus, STB-1, Type 5 Heavy, T110E4, T110E3, T110E5, M48A1, T57 Heavy Tank, FV4005 Stage II, FV215b (183), Centurion Action X, IS-7, Object 140, Object 268, IS-4, Т-62а, Object 430.
There is no guarantee that the "final" version on the Sandbox will be implemented in the live game. Final implementation will depend on the analysis of the data we collect from the tests.
Vehicle Rebalance Goals
The most important goal is to increase the importance of armor. Currently, armor is significantly less important than speed and firepower. We would like to make armor more important because it can affect so many aspects of gameplay, including:
Lowering the cost of player mistakes
Encouraging more active play, because being spotted no longer means instant destruction
Reducing combat distance so long-range clashes aren't the ultimate way to win battles
Increasing gameplay variety by distinguishing the roles for different types of vehicles
Increasing the quality and satisfaction of the game
Let's drill this down. In order to achieve these balance goals, the game mechanics listed below will be changed:
1. Distinguishing the Roles of Vehicles
Right now, players might use similar tactics when driving vehicles that aren't too different from one another, which can make for monotonous gameplay. In order to change this behavior, we had to classify seven in-game archetypes, based on analysis:
2. Changing the Shot Dispersion in the Aiming Circle
This will decrease the effective firing distance, increase vehicle survivability at long distances, and require more careful aim. Here's a comparison between Update 9.15 and the Sandbox:
3. Decreasing Penetration at Long Distances and the Initial Distance of Penetration Loss
This will increase the importance of armor at longer distances, reduce the chance of penetrating a vehicle from the front at long distances, and allow heavier tanks the ability to maneuver more effectively.
4. Rebalancing Shell Damage and High-Caliber Guns
The Sandbox has a new system that decreases the risk of being destroyed with one shot, and increases the importance of damage per minute (DPM).
5. Changing Vehicle Maneuverability
Fast, lightly-armored vehicles will also be improved by determining the relationship between suspension speed and turret traverse speed for each vehicle type within the class and role systems. As a result, fast vehicles will be able to use different maneuvers to outflank slow heavy-armored vehicles.
6. Rebalancing Artillery
Artillery in the Sandbox will take on more of a support role, as HE shells will deal reduced damage, but will have a larger area of effect. Additionally, artillery vehicles will receive some new features:
Explosive Blast: Targets in the initial shell's splash range will receive a temporary negative effect to their characteristics. Damage caused by Explosive Blast is considered "assisted damage."
Allied Target Indicator: Artillery players can now better coordinate their shots with their teammates' actions. If an artillery vehicle isn't aimed at a specific enemy, pressing the "Attacking" button ("T" by default) will mark the approximate area the artillery vehicle is aiming towards. The indicator will be displayed on the minimap and the battlefield, and will also notify teammates of the artillery's status ("loading" or "ready to fire").
Alternative Aim: A new display (similar to sniper mode) makes aiming more convenient for players.
4. Development Q&A
Sandbox questions from CIS region contributor Jove and answers by Anton Pankov (Executive Publishing Producer) and Daniil “Murazor” Parashchyn (Special Projects Expert)
Why has stabilization been cut when shell distribution within the aiming circle is increased?
Not every tank has decreased stabilization – some vehicles received different changes. Stabilisation was done so that players could easily hit a target at close distances. I can’t say it’s perfect now, but that's why we need to collect data in order to decide how the game balance will be improved. Additionally, all heavy tanks have reduced turret and hull maneuverability, and now it’s possible to circle heavy tanks. All these changes are being tested as part of the new vehicle role system and game balance.
Do you plan to add new players to Sandbox?
Each week we try to add new players of all skill levels – not just ones with good stats. Now it’s summer and many of those we invited aren't yet active, but we believe that interest in Sandbox will remain high.
Artillery now has very good accuracy – but is it too much?
Artillery can no longer one-shot players, so we decided to increase its accuracy so it would be possible to make a predictable shot. The new "stun/ shellshock" feature was not in the game before and we haven't set in stone how it will function. There will be an opportunity to decrease the duration and strength of the stun. Yes, it can be annoying, but now you can easily go out and make a push on the enemy team, safe in the knowledge that you won't suddenly be destroyed by artillery.
However, one of the new features that we plan to test is the prohibition or limitation of artillery when playing within a Platoon.
And what about a bonus for tanking?
We're implementing it little by little. When we were originally ready to release it, we felt that it gave too large of a bonus and that we couldn’t make it right without making more changes. Almost the same thing can be said about the bonus for artillery assisting.
Why does the Т110Е3 have a 120mm?
We are rebalancing tanks that are over-powered. There can't be any super-armor and super-alpha damage tanks, but I don't really like the current balance on the T110E3. It'll be upgraded later. We also need to take into account that the rebalance will limit the number of tier X tanks in each battle.
Have you planned anything interesting for maps?
Some of the more "problematic" maps will be added to Sandbox. But for the moment, we want to focus on more technical aspects first.
Some of the problems with maps will be resolved with the new balance changes, as due to the new vehicle roles and changes to artillery, players should be behaving differently on the maps.
Will Stun/Shellshock be the only feature artillery will have?
Yes. There won’t be any smoke shells, spotting shells, etc. We have discussed it more than once and don't plan to include them, because that that average teams may not be able to use them effectively.Smoke rounds risk interfering with the gameplay experience of allied players and could negatively impact gameplay.
Why is it forbidden to livestream from Sandbox?
We're not ready to allow unlimited streams yet. Some changes are coarse and untested, and streams could worry players that are not aware of the purpose of Sandbox. It's a very important project for us. Later, there will be both official and unofficial Sandbox streams and videos.
Because of the large splash range, artillery mainly causes damage to allies rather than opponents. Will you be doing something about this?
Causing damage to allies will result in penalties. We feel this is the best way to discourage players from shooting near allies, but the system is currently in development.
I read that balance changes will initially focus on tier X and after that, changes will be made to lower Tiers. However, there was an opinion that tiers VI and lower won’t be changed. Is that true?
It’s not true that there won’t be any changes at all, but there will be fewer changes for the lower Tiers. Our new role dynamics are for high-level vehicles. There will be changes for lower Tiers, so that they are more balanced and enjoyable to play, but no significant changes are currently planned.
Platoons of tier VIII vehicles are always in the bottom of the matchmaker list – are you aware of this problem?
We're aware. Right now, the matchmaker tries to match Platoons with other Platoons, and when it doesn’t find any Platoons of tier VIII vehicles, it looks among tiers IX and X. We're trying to solve this with the new matchmaker.
We are also considering a system of 33/33/33, where ~33% of the time a player is on top, ~33% in the middle and ~33% on the bottom.
Are there any plans to change the situation with the +/-25% RNG?
For now we think that it's OK. There are no serious problems with it, even in the eSports scene.
For how long will you be testing Sandbox?
For us, this activity is new and very complex. Our team will be working until the moment Sandbox players say the game has become better and they like the vehicles more. If there is a situation we test and in the end the players say that the balance on the main server is better, then won't change or release anything… But we hope we won’t have such a situation.
How do you plan to improve the role of light tanks, besides handling and view range?
The spotting role will be returned to them – that’s clear. We want them to be the best scouts, but the problem is that light tanks don’t cause a lot of damage, as it’s difficult for an LT-8 to play with Tier IX and X vehicles with the new balance. I won’t promise anything right now, but we're currently testing different solutions.
Will you be adding new Perks to Balance 2.0?
Of course we will, though for now it’s at the concept stage. However, we understand the current Perks are not enough.
The topic of Perks was raised many times, but first we want to focus on the balance for the new vehicle-role dynamics, and then we will consider introducing Perks for the same roles.
What do you plan to do about Gold ammo?
We want to decrease its impact. Our goal is to increase the lifespan of tanks within a battle and there are several ways this can be done; all of which we plan to test on the Sandbox.
Will you be adjusting the matchmaker so that there won’t be one team with seven tank destroyers and another with none at all?
We're currently working hard on the matchmaker, and ideally, it would consider this a problem. What the matchmaker will do is ensure there are an equal number of vehicles at tier VII, IX and X on each team.
Do you plan to remove the “15 m from the bush” feature?
Currently, this mechanic is OK with us. When we move to a more accurate state of balance, we will see how this aligns with the new state of gameplay, but for now, we don’t plan to remove it.
Aren’t you afraid players will be confused with the new vehicle roles?
This is certainly a concern, and as such we will be working to make things as clear as possible through information in the client and on the the website. We will be moving to the new vehicle role model gradually, so that players have time to adjust. Our aim is to provide additional information to the players about their tanks' strengths and weaknesses.
Why are you afraid of making the balance +/-1 like in World of Tanks Blitz?
We think it won’t work as things are at the moment. Currently, we're making balance changes for +/-2 and we don’t want to introduce any artificial limitations as in this case. We feel that it would be boring to battle with +/-1.
5. Video: First Feedback from Sandbox
6. Vehicle Roles
The video above includes an update on the current Sandbox server status, upcoming changes, and outlines our long-term goals with Sandbox and the cooperation of our players. Take a look!
The Sandbox is a special server used for testing a prototypical game balance model, "Balance 2.0." Multiple versions will be tested to help us choose what will change for the "live" game.
Today, World of Tanks has more than 400 vehicles divided into five classes: artillery (SPG), tank destroyers (TDs), light tanks, heavy tanks, and medium tanks. But within the same class could be vehicles with completely different play characteristics and effective roles in battle.
It can be difficult for players to sort out this diversity, choose a vehicle they're interested in, then understand how to play it. We're reviewing a new system of tactical roles in WoT that can solve this issue.
The long-term goal is to make a balanced, dynamic system of tactical interaction between tank roles in battle. The short-term goal is to calibrate and adjust vehicle parameters to avoid an obvious over-powering or under-powering of tanks.
Seven Roles Being Considered
Some "hybrid" roles are possible, but these will require additional balancing.
These are mobile and relatively armored vehicles -- mostly medium and some light tanks. They're maneuverable with good gun handling. Tactically used to achieve narrow and quick flanking breakthroughs. Effective in close combat with more heavily armored vehicles by using speed to gain position and attack weak spots. Typical cavalry vehicles would be high-tier Soviet and Chinese medium tanks.
The best examples currently on the Sandbox server are the T-62A, E-50M, Object 140, Object 430, 121.
Vehicles with good view range, effective armament and decent mobility -- but not heavily armored; autoloaders are great examples. The main goal for these vehicles is to support by causing damage to opponents from the second line of a battle whilst protected by more heavily armored tanks. "Up close and personal" is not the best tactic.
Examples of fire support: MX 50B, M48A1, Leopard 1, T57 Heavy Tank, Bat.-Châtillon 25 t, AMX 30 B, FV4005 Stage II, Centurion Action X, TVP T 50/51, STB-1
The most common role for TDs. The key component here is stealth, using camouflage and the terrain. These are more skill-based tanks and stand out thanks to high firepower and excellent armor penetration. Ambush vehicles are not meant for battles at close distance.
Examples would be the Object 268,Grille 15
These vehicles have the highest view range and excellent maneuverability. Details for this particular role are still being discussed.
Scout vehicles on the Sandbox server: T-54 ltwt, RU 251, T49
The tried and true role for light tanks, due to outstanding view range and maneuverability.
Examples: T110E5, IS-7, T110E4, 113
Mobile heavy tanks with good frontal armor; the main strike force of a team. Normally for battles at close and medium distances thanks to good rate of fire, armor penetration and alpha damage, but they're not the most accurate. Their objective is to secure and hold key strategic areas.
Examples: E100, T110E3, IS-4, Jagdpanzer E 100, Type 5 Heavy
Totally rebalanced and redefined for long-range support, using the new Stun/shell shock) feature. This reduces an opponent’s combat effectiveness and makes them more vulnerable to other allied fire.
The introduction of tank roles aims to both clarify vehicle abilities and strengths and to create more gameplay variety and depth.
The Sandbox environment allows us to deploy and test these prototypes, then collate player feedback and data, allowing for rapid iteration and revision.
7. First Iteration Review
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 analyzing 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 that resembles beta-testing at early 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.
So with all of this in mind, we wanted to share our current thoughts on the Sandbox. In this report we'll discuss our original goals of the features we tested, the assumptions we checked, the results we received, and what we intend to do next.
Goals of Sandbox
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 (including the matchmaker, interrelation among vehicle roles, some map problems, etc.) These issues have been the result of a number of smaller changes accumulated over a long time that now collectively require a more dramatic change to be fully fixed. We couldn’t simply do “quick fixes”. Over time, we intend to use the Sandbox to test many of our longer-term development. First, the vehicle balance, then develop a new matchmaker, and create new maps and improve existing ones, etc. Your feedback will become the starting point of further development of the game.
Reduce the cost of players’ mistakes, giving them the chance to survive and remain in battle longer
Reduce the average distance of combat, favoring more intense close up battles and encouraging more dynamic gameplay over “pixel hunting” and “camping"
Create more varied gameplay by allowing different types of tanks to serve roles according to their strengths. So heavily armored, defensive tanks can be close to the enemy and set the battle line, mobile flankers can circle their enemy to find vulnerability, scouts can effectively scout, etc.
Rework SPG gameplay away from the occasional one shot machines of destruction that miss a lot and take forever to reload to something that's 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 Falloff and Shot Dispersion -- Making Armor Matter
In order to reduce the combat distance, we increased the importance of armor. We made two big changes to accomplish this: we reduced the distance where shell penetration falloff begins and also increased the dispersion of shots within the aiming circle. These changes made firing from long distance much less effective. The penetration falloff change meant shots didn’t penetrate from as far away, and the change to dispersion meant that players at distance had to let their aim circle shrink in order to hit a target, 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-armored vehicles became more popular thanks to their capability of blocking damage with armor, and our collected statistics showed that these changes reduced the combat distance.
Many players pointed out some problems with the first iteration of these changes: for example, it became harder to aim at vulnerable spots of enemy vehicles not only from afar, but from closer as well. Our penetration falloff change also significantly affected the course of battle and it may have been too significant 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'll make further adjustments to the changed technical characteristics using both statistical information and your feedback. We've 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 a decision 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 newer players. We decided to simplify this aspect for all players and preliminary divide 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 a distance. It encouraged players to perform active maneuvers and increased importance of scouts.
At the same time, cavalry vehicles and scouts easily circle dreadnoughts, meaning 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 don't have a distinctive role or a role hasn't 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 armor.
In the future, we plan on making individual changes to vehicles and adjusting the interaction system among vehicles of different roles, keeping equal effectiveness for each one. Moreover, we're considering further options to compensate for the poor armor of fire-support vehicles, and want to further unlock the potential of scouts.
We believe that any vehicle in battle should be interesting to at least two players: the one driving it and the one fighting it. Currently, on production servers, SPGs represent a combination of "Damoclis Gladius" 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, keeping them useful for the team, because the constant fear of an SPG "insta-kill" 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 don't 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'll keep experimenting with the burst radius and stun duration. It's 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 the 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 changing the mechanics of crew injury (known as "stun").
We're 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 provide more context for what you've seen so far. Stay tuned for more information – as we get closer to the release of the second Sandbox phase, we'll provide much more detail about what is coming. We will look forward to playing with you in the Sandbox again soon!
8. Phase One Complete
After four weeks of testing, we have completed the first phase of the Sandbox. We have an incredible amount of gameplay data and user feedback; now we analyze. Because of that, the Sandbox will be temporarily unavailable starting July 21.
The development team thanks everyone who participated in the Sandbox testing, shared detailed feedback and asked critical questions. We couldn’t do it without you!
We can say that in the second phase, we'll be adding tier VIII and IX vehicles. More details on that in the near future. See you in the Sandbox again soon!