Today’s the day many tankers have been waiting for—the revised matchmaker and SPGs are available for everyone to test. On top of that, five Tier X light tanks roll out, bringing changes to the very structure of light tank branches, multiple balance tweaks to mid/lower tier vehicles, and the much more player-friendly ±2 matchmaking spread for them.
We hope these improvements eliminate the barriers between you and fun. The final decision on each of them depends on your feedback. So, hop aboard the Common Test and share your thoughts with us!
We recognize that the matchmaker has been one of the biggest sources of player frustration in the game. Over the years, you reported frequent cases of uneven team makeups, map dupes, and weird tier splits. We heard you loud and clear, and with 9.18 we’re introducing a major overhaul to the system to address your concerns. To enhance matchmaking for a better, fairer experience, we revised its core mechanics and implemented an all-new template-based algorithm.
Deeper under the hood, the improved matchmaker is a set of server-side algorithms that analyze vehicles in the queue and build two teams with several key criteria in mind. These teams should be comparable in their aggregate combat parameters, diverse in vehicle types, versatile enough to provide for an engaging gaming experience and, finally, balanced in a way that makes it almost impossible to predict the battle outcome. Now, let’s delve deeper into the way it’s done.
The new algorithm balances the “perfect” match against the speed of matching. First, it tries to create what it considers a perfect ±2 match using the 3/5/7 template or one of its variations. The variation you get depends directly on the queue composition. Whichever template you end up with, it’ll always have:
- No more than three tanks at the top of the list
- No more than five in the middle
- More vehicles in the middle than at the top
- More vehicles at the bottom than in the middle
If the search for the “perfect” match will leave you queuing too long (for example, if there are too many vehicles of a certain tier queueing at the moment), the matchmaker loosens the restrictions a bit to make sure you get into a match quicker. In this case, you can get a two-level or a single-level battle. Those are rare instances, though. The vast majority of battles will have the ±2 tier spread.
Templates help form teams with an equal number of vehicles at the top/middle/bottom of the list, which fixes two problems at once. Firstly, the matchmaker creates evenly assembled teams. Plus, it provides an enjoyable gaming experience for all players by eliminating frustrating scenarios where vehicles in the middle and at the bottom of the list are outnumbered by those at the top. Now, regardless of your position on the list and which template you get, there are enough players in the same position on the team as you are to turn the tide of the battle:
- Tanks at the bottom will always be in majority. They can either fight against same-tier opposition or join forces with higher-tier comrades.
- Revving their engines in the middle of the list will be solid vehicles that have what it takes to stand strong against “top” enemies.
- Finally, vehicles at the top can hunt for their counterparts on the other team, set the line of fire, or suppress superior enemy forces.
Evenly assembled teams
Another particularly painful point that you brought up was one-sided, boring games composed of two teams that were vastly different in vehicle composition. Let’s say two tank destroyers in a team against seven in the opposing. You can guess the result from the get-go, which kind of wipes the smile off your face and makes you want to quit (unless you’re on the winning side, of course, but even winning is little fun when it comes easy). This would happen because the old matchmaker used to balance a team by the number of scouts and arty. The other classes would get distributed randomly.
The improved matchmaker adds tank destroyers to the equation. Medium and heavy tanks still get distributed randomly, as the introduction of strict balancing by all vehicle types within the current system would result in significantly longer wait times. Take, for example, the only Tier III heavy, Type 91. It would have to queue until another player on its server chooses this very tank for a battle, because there’s virtually no other vehicle to match against it if the algorithm considers tiers and types. So, to get you into a finely-balanced match and do it quickly, the new system is only strict with the three classes that have very distinct gameplay roles (light tanks, tank destroyers and arty), as their uneven distribution between teams might ruin the balance of power.
Now, the difference in the number of artillery, light tanks and tank destroyers will be just one vehicle at the most, providing evenly assembled team makeups. Platoons are getting distributed similarly. The matchmaker ensures there’s the same number of Platoons on each side, which should bring the possible difference in Platoon players down to three (e. g., three three-man strong Platoons in one team against three Platoons of two each on the other). Just as with the templates, if it takes too long to build a team with an equal number of Platoons, the matchmaker might loosen this restriction to get you into a battle quickly.
Only same-tier Platoons in Random Battles
On the battlefield, coordination and joint actions are what paves your way to victory. And there’s hardly a better means to show well-orchestrated teamwork than Platoons. However, no matter how well you work in two’s and three’s, at the end of the day you are still part of a larger battle unit—a team. If you choose multi-tier vehicles for a Platoon, you put your entire team in harm’s way: they can get matched against tanks that are three or more tiers higher than they are. A same-tier Platoon, on the contrary, ramps up a team’s chances at victory.
To reward your efficient actions and promote teamwork, we implemented a system of XP bonuses for same-tier Platoons back in 9.15. Along with it, we imposed penalties to discourage players from forming multi-tier Platoons, which reduced their number, but didn’t solve the issue 100%.
|tiers of vehicles in a platoon||bonus for a victory / loss (%)|
|IV||1 / 1|
|V||2 / 2|
|VI||3 / 3|
|VII||5 / 4|
|VIII||10 / 5|
|IX||20 / 10|
|X||30 / 15|
Now we are back at it with the improved matchmaker. It simply won’t allow multi-tier Platoons into Random Battles to create balanced teams.
No more than 3 SPGs per team
If you joined us in the Sandbox, you already know the limit of no more than 3 arty per side balances combat interplay between SPGs and other vehicles. Both stats and feedback show that it injects combat with extra fun and variety, and decreases camping, encouraging more active gameplay. And with 9.18, we are bringing this restriction to live servers!
Fewer map dupes
The improved matchmaker reduces the number of map dupes with a new logic. It analyzes maps that tankers from the two newly created teams played over the last 10 battles. Then, it places them on a map none of them have seen in the last few sessions.
This new map rotation logic is relevant for maps used in the Standard mode (Random Battles). Assault and Encounter Battles are only played across a limited number of maps. So, if you have them flagged, maps will repeat more often.
Getting ranked in the top/middle/bottom of the list
After you’ve fought at the bottom for a few battles in a row, the matchmaker will try to find a team where you get in the middle/top of the list, regardless of whether you play in the same vehicle or choose a new one during this session. If it sees that this will have you waiting for quite a while, it will match you into a battle with a suitable tier split.
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.
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!
Discover how you can join the Common Test:
- HOW THE CT WORKS?
- TEST CLIENT
- SERVER RESTARTS
New to testing? Check out our handy guide to public tests.
Eligibility: All players registered prior to March 20 can participate in the test.
Feedback: please post your general feedback about the test version and bug reports in the special thread on our forum.
- Download the test client installer (4,9 MB).
- Make sure you pick a save location that is different to your regular World of Tanks game files.
- Save and run the installer.
- Run the new copy of the game. The launcher will download all the additional data.
- Log in and start playing.
The test server will be restarted regularly, according to the following schedule:
- First Periphery: 04:00 UTC every day. Average duration will be around 25 minutes.
- Second Periphery: 05:00 UTC every day. Average duration will be around 25 minutes.
- Central Database: 09:00 UTC every day. Average duration will be around 2 minutes.
The test server may be subject to unscheduled restarts and maintenance.