Hello fellow tankers!
Here is my view on the goal to achieve in a battle (apart from having fun): WIN.
Not the number of kills, not the final ranking in your team, not avoiding dying to preserve your damn KDR…
Winning the battle should be your main focus. If you do not agree, fine. Your loss, literally.
With this is mind, let me state this clearly:
A good player is above all characterized by his/her positive impact on the outcome of a battle.
If you are still with me, here are a few thoughts about ensuring that you are doing your best to help your team win a ground battle (see also my video tutorials for all ground maps in English; voir aussi mes tutoriels pour toutes les cartes terrestres en français).
Of course, if you are already a beast, you will be amused by these advices. But if you are currently simply an average or decent (or even bad) player, why not check them out to improve your game and your tactical skills, and in passing, your win rate.
Most of these simple tips are valid in all modes (AB, RB, SB ground battles) and are listed in a tentative logical order (click on the title of the items below to read these tips):
Learn about the tanks
The ones you like and play and the ones you don’t (but, try them all!). Check out their weak and strong spots, their reload time, whether they should be angled (Tiger I…) or essentially not (M4 Jumbo, Panthers…), their reverse speed (with a Panther, if necessary, try to hide after a shot by going forward), the position of the crew (gunner, loader…)…
Watch a tutorial about the different types of ammunition and learn about their use, damage, speed, weaknesses, and strengths… Learn to use the graduations in gunner view to elevate your gun depending on the distance of the target (use range finding (if you like it) and binoculars aiming), especially in RB/SB. Finally, learn to use smoke shells to protect the access to a spot you or your teammates want to reach, or to blind enemy tanks. Exploit smoke grenades to hide your retreat or hide your advance, or simply to confuse the enemy!
By the way, you can have very good results playing most tanks of any nation. There are a very few exceptions (French and Japanese Tier I; and yet, good players do also reasonably well there), but a “tank or nation bias” cannot be an excuse for an overall low win rate.
Some players only develop one nation ground tech tree. That’s their entire right, but they will miss many great and fun tanks to play, with the risk of soon getting bored with the game. Most importantly, they will never properly learn the strengths and weaknesses of the many tanks they ignore, and will hence never fully learn how to properly fight them: you only properly learn to kill a tank after having died enough times playing it! As an unfortunate consequence, many one-nation players also quickly develop the frustrating misconception that all other nations tanks are OP compared to the ones they use, and then adopt a very defensive, overly prudent, and ultimately, very ineffective play style… adding to their frustration.
Arcade, realistic, and simulator modes (AB, RB, SB)
Do not listen to snobs (who consider that their favorite mode is the “only true game”) or nostalgic WoT players (who find War Thunder way too slow): the three game modes are as interesting and difficult as each other, but not necessarily for the same reasons:
The three modes require, for example, a very good awareness of the environment: in AB, because all the enemies can see you, which affects strongly your placement and displacements; in RB/SB, because you do not see them, which will require concentration and anticipation skills.
In RB/SB, aiming your gun right is certainly more difficult than in AB. But nothing better to know your guns (depending on the ammunition used) and the “weak spots” of the different tanks than to practice in AB, which will give you very useful automatisms for RB/SB.
AB will teach you to take the best paths to move on a map (without being seen in AB, hence in RB/SB), and you will learn better than in RB/SB how to optimize the placement of your tank and the best way to angle it (or not) in close combat (the “green cross” of enemies is ruthless in AB – try to make it red!).
That’s why I advise starting with AB, also to understand the impact that a single player can have being active. Indeed, many players who play only in RB/SB with too few AB games are often too cautious, and/or sometimes lack a “battle plan”. I also strongly advise to start spading a new slow tank in AB, since it will generally be less painful than in RB (until one researches the mobility modules).
AB is tactically richer in the sense that the knowledge of the position of the opponents (and of your team) will give you and your teammates a better-informed vision to establish individual and collective plans/strategies at the scale of the whole map, that the faster tanks than in RB/SB will help you to implement. Once this tactical knowledge acquired, it can obviously be exploited in any mode, to help you establish and update your “battle plan”.
In any case, a complete player will benefit from his/her knowledge acquired in the three modes that will conversely help him/her to improve in each of them. Yet, it’s perfectly fine to have a favorite mode, but totally ignoring or even despising the other two would certainly be questionable. Here is a video commenting in more details the AB/RB/SB ground modes.
Make friends and squad up
Of course, when you play in a squad with in-game (or real!) friends, you are able to better coordinate your efforts and strategy. 4 players of the same level will generally do better in a squad, but only if they take the opportunity of communicating to apply the simple tips listed here. But remember that 4 bad players playing together can result in a terrible squad, especially if they coordinate… their tactical blunders!
So “friend” people of comparable skill level as you who did well in a battle, who assisted you, or whom you assisted during the game. Squad up with them if they wish. In a sense, be the recruiter of your own squadron (that’s how I started squadron JOB and still recruit new players)! A bit of showing off with these two videos, where JOB squads achieved 38 kills (squad of 3) and 40 kills (squad of 4) in tank AB. If you are eager to know more about playing in squad and about squadrons, feel free to watch my tutorial on this subject!
Before going to battle, prepare a coherent line-up
Your BR is set by your top tank, so put at least 3 tanks of comparable power and BR in your line-up (arcade). The temptation is sometimes so great to try one’s new BR 8.7-9.7 toy, even if it is only supported by two BR 5.0 “weak” tanks. Don’t. Oh, and people taking their new (often premium) toy and leaving the battle once it’s destroyed are a shameful disgrace to this game (unfortunately, too common at BR>7.0).
Note that in RB, a coherent line-up adapted to this mode necessitates at least 6 crew slots (medium/light tanks, heavy tanks, one SPG, at least one AA, and planes, if you also fly). Putting several tanks in your line-up will also allow you to adapt the tanks you play to the maps you will encounter (AB/RB/SB) or to the evolution of the battle (AB/RB).
Learn about the maps
A very good knowledge of the maps is mandatory to become an accomplished tanker. You should try to discover the fastest and safest routes between critical positions on a given map, and in particular, between the cap areas. It is also important to know the good shooting (and even camping…) spots on a map, and definitely to be able to avoid the bad ones… But most importantly, your advanced knowledge of the maps and of what the teams usually do on them will allow you to develop your strategic skills, to define your plan at the start of the battle, and to update it during the battle. Ultimately, this tactical knowledge will give you a decisive advantage on the battlefield and will also make the game even more interesting for you!
After reading the present tutorial, you can consult my ground map tutorials on my YouTube channel dedicated to map strategy guides, other tutorials, and gameplays (in English & en français):
When you have played enough battles, you should be able to realize why and how a battle is usually lost on such or such map. For instance, on the Korea map with 3 zones, most of the players of both sides usually spawn east to go camping above C. Simply don’t! Spawn in the west with direct access to the connected zones A and B, where this battle is simply always won. Good players first spawn west. Period. More generally, first spawn where you will have the most options (A and B in Korea, Tunisia, or Kuban…). In particular, when there are 3 (horizontal) zones (Korea, Sinai, Berlin, Tunisia…), try to privilege going toward a zone with easy access to another zone. In addition, if you see that the area covered by your first spawn point is heavily controlled by your team, respawn to go to an area where your team needs help. Just never let the game decide the spawn for you!
Mind the caps!
There is no doubt that most battles are lost by the team who cares the less about the caps/zones (some players would be surprised that it is even truer in RB, and even more in SB battles). Taking, holding, retaking zones is the best way to ensure victory. Period. Do not worry, by doing this, you’ll have plenty of kill opportunities. Note that in RB, good pilots can also cap ground zones, like in this great video by my friend Spectra21!
Of course, this does not mean that one should just go banzai rushing a cap or just stay there when it is captured… In particular, in RB, leave the captured zone, and wait for the enemy on their side of the zone. Also, learn to abandon a cap too well defended by the opponent if your team firmly holds the two other caps. Instead, be ready to fight at the junction between the enemy cap and the territory controlled by your team. Be smart, develop your tactical skills, lay your traps, but mind the caps!
A quick note about the Battle mode in AB/RB/SB (see also this video for a complete guide for this mode), where each team owns an already captured cap, usually near their spawn. Each cap takes several minutes to uncap and then cap, and for this reason, one must rather see this mode as a “death match” and therefore be more patient/cautious/defensive than in the Domination and Conquest modes, where being aggressive near the caps is the best path to victory.
Don’t necessarily go first to the cap where everybody goes
A battle is won by exhausting enemy tickets by taking and holding zones/caps (something which should be reminded to many players…). Very often, one cap is completely ignored at the beginning of the game (B in Berlin, Tunisia, Korea…). In fact, I like starting with the less popular central zone B when the 3 caps are aligned and at equal distance from the ally and enemy spawns. This choice leaves more options later: defend B, push, or flank A or C from an original route.
On the other hand, on many maps where the three zones align vertically (Mozdok B, Eastern Europe B, Kuban B, Ardennes B…), the battle is won in the central zone, while one zone naturally belongs to the enemy and the last one belongs to our side.
Go at once where the real fight will take place. To achieve that… Spawn intelligently (see above)!
Watch your f...ing map!
Most players are not watching their map enough (or at all) and that, surprisingly enough, even at high tiers. Of course, watching your mini-map (typically every 8-10 seconds) will help you to spot sneaky enemies or your next target. But most importantly, it allows you to assess the situation: which zone is in danger to be taken soon by the enemy, where your allies and enemies are (and hits on enemy targets in RB), which enemy or spot your allies are marking on the mini-map, where you should go next, where to respawn intelligently (see above)… Note that you can also access to a larger and more precise version of the mini-map by pressing “M” (default setting).
Move and be (re)active
If you are the best sniper/camper in the world, fine. But let’s be honest, most campers we cross and kill on the battlefield are mediocre players and lack the tactical skills of active players (alright, my in-game nickname might reveal a certain prejudice against campers; oh sorry, they call themselves “snipers”; sure…).
Always remember the objective: caps/zones. Once you have taken or helped take one zone, hold it if the enemy is still present or counterattacks (which does not mean that you should stay right on the zone, especially in RB/SB where you should lay your traps as an enemy uncapping a zone reveals its presence), and move to the next one if the zone you already helped take is well secured, which leads me to…
Learn the critical spots on a map (and how to get there fast
First, learn to drive your tanks: stop wiggling and bumping into others; straight lines are faster! And also learn the fastest way from one to another critical spot or cap of the map and the dangerous passages to be avoided. Try several options before discovering your favorite approaches, learn to be smart and to lay traps… This nice rock above C on Sinai, attacking B from the west in Sinai (contrary to what most players do), blocking the enemy entrance to B in Mozdok when spawning from the west side, going to the church in B in Poland by the little street to the south and not from the main street (from both camps)…
Remember the spots where you have been killed so many times without being able to shoot at anything, and those where you (or an enemy) had a surprisingly good run. Learn where the enemy usually go (to C in Korea, to the city A in Tunisia…) or what they often do on such or such map. Prepare your cunning plan!
Prioritize your targets
You often have the choice between several targets, whether in an urgent situation (the enemies saw you and you do not have time to retreat) or in a more serene situation, especially when ambushing a few enemy tanks.
Choose (in an urgent situation, do it quickly!) your first target according to the following factors: the targets who saw you and those who did not (tunnel vision), the dangerousness of the targets, their reloading time, their placement… In an urgent situation, start with the most powerful target (at least to destroy its gun) hoping that the other tank will do you only limited damage or will miss you (angle your tank properly with respect to the latter). On the other hand, if the most powerful target has just fired and has a long reload time, start with the other target. In an ambush situation behind several tanks, start with the tanks in the rear, so that those in front do not realize too soon (or at all!) that their allies disappear one by one! In other serene situations, you will first choose the most dangerous target, especially if you have a good chance of being able to seriously damage or even destroy it.
Finally, if you encounter an opponent really too tough for your gun (a T95 against your AMX M4), be realistic and know when to retreat to eventually flank it and attack it later from a more favorable angle, or just hope that an ally with a more powerful tank will take care of it…
Do not get distracted by campers and far flanking enemies
Many campers are mediocre players without a plan (that’s why most of them simply camp all games) and usually shoot at other campers, resulting in an absurd mutual annihilation (watch this funny video about these damn “Guinea pigs campers”!).
As a rule of thumb, never camp the campers, especially when they can be easily avoided (like campers over A in Tunisia, or campers from C in Mozdok), making them irrelevant. Why take the risk of dying just to destroy an irrelevant player with no impact on the battle? Even when campers are blocking your only possible route (but most of the time, you can find an alternative safer route), you can try to outsmart them by exploiting the terrain and the mobility of your tank or first shooting smoke shells (if available) at their general direction to blind them. Yet, if a competent camper becomes a real trouble, he should become the priority target of allied airstrikes after being marked on the map.
Moreover, especially in AB conquest maps, there will always be a few enemies to go for a wide route (like going to the east castle in the Fulda map, despite the cap being on A in the west). This kind of wide flanking is generally totally useless, these players never meeting any enemy (they often ultimately go to the enemy spawn where they quickly die after their long boring route). A common error is for a group of allied tanks to go meet them, hence not participating in the real fight in the area near the only cap. It is so frustrating to see 5 allies go chasing an isolated and irrelevant wide flanker, and falling for what I call “unintended psychological warfare”… Don’t fall for it, and try to convince your teammates in the chat to simply ignore these far flanking trolls.
Lead by example
Do not be afraid, you do not really die when your tank is destroyed… And forget your damn KDR (a mostly irrelevant measure of your talent in ground battles; I meet many overly prudent high-KDR players with less than 50% win rate)!
Take (reasonable) risks, especially if there is a good chance that this will help to win the battle, and make the best of your 3 available spawns in AB. You will be surprised that your acts of bravery will encourage some of your teammates to follow in your steps (hum, unfortunately, not always…).
Fight up to the end and never give up: I have seen so many battles won with a few tickets left (remember that one kill is worth 100 tickets), or lost because some players actually gave up too soon or just left the game like the cowards and traitors they are. In fact, I find that the most interesting and memorable battles, the ones which actually show the kind of tanker you are, are those which seem (and are sometimes) desperate!
Cooperate with your teammates
Even when not playing in a squad, be active in helping your teammates. An enemy at the corner? The friendly in front of you goes for it? Tag along, but again, do not bump on your ally while he tries to shoot! Also, never stand behind an ally shooting as you will block his retreat. Did the enemy fire? Go! Don’t let your buddy die! An enemy hiding behind a rock, and an ally attacking him from the right? Attack from the left, and let your ally take the kill if it is safer for him to do it; otherwise, go for it! An ally close to you crying for help in the chat? Look if you can help! Finally, in RB, when the caps are “vertical”, meaning one belongs to each side, wait for your allies before capping the first zone so that the maximum number of teammates get spawn points (people rushing alone to this first cap with their fast but useless M22 or BT-5 are effectively working for the enemy). Finally, repairing an ally in need is always a welcomed gesture!
As you advance toward the enemy, we just saw that it can be very effective to tag along with a squadmate or a simple unknown but active teammate (use the message “follow me!” to encourage him to do so). Yet, do not join big groups of friendly tanks cluttered behind a house or a rock, or on a cap: they are perfect targets for artillery and planes… and you will be too if you go there. Hence, be aware of artillery (especially if you are in a paper tank), of enemies starting an air session in AB, and more generally, of the enemy planes in the air in all game modes (if you are in an AA, please focus on them)… which leads me to…
Use planes (but don't abuse of them)
In RB/SB, and preferably if you are a good pilot, do not hesitate to take planes (if possible, fighters/attackers with some bombs and/or rockets). Yet, never forget that a plane cannot (usually) take a cap… and hence do not spawn in a plane just because you feel like it, if your team has too little presence on the ground or if capturing zones is becoming an urgent matter… If allied tanks become too isolated, they will also become weaker targets for the enemy ground forces.
Learn to use bombs/rockets going for the most dangerously located or the most powerful enemy tanks (or even for the best enemy players! Watch the battle stats and the kill list), or to unblock a situation, or aiming at big groups of enemy tanks (see above). If you take a fighter, imperatively protect your allied bomber and/or attacker.
In ground AB, getting kills and scouting assists (as well as time spent in the battle when your team is holding the majority of caps) gives you “plane points”, which allow you to spawn a bomber (you need at least 3 points), a CAS (2 points), or a fighter (1 point), or corresponding helicopters. Note that 15 points offers you the possibility to spawn a bomber with a nuke to end and win the game, if you succeed in dropping it (not available with helicopters). However, also note that your point counter is reset every time you take a bomber.
Use artillery wisely
As light and medium tanks can launch artillery strikes, again preferably target big groups of enemy tanks (artillery will have a better chance to hit something), or use it on tanks located at a critical spot. Avoid using artillery on heavy or well armored tanks and rather focus it on light/medium tanks and SPAAs. Be altruistic: aiming an artillery strike at the single enemy facing you instead of targeting a big group of enemies elsewhere will have a lower potential impact on the battle and may cause your own death later…
In fact, do not launch artillery on a cap which is probably about to be captured by your team, even if one enemy is still there. In RB/SB, launch your artillery at the beginning of the battle on the first cap near the enemy spawn (only in maps with 3 “vertical” caps) or on spots where you know that the enemy is bound to pass through or to camp. In RB, artillery also serves the useful purpose of locating enemies, as hits will appear on the mini-map of all allies.
Scout when playing light tanks
If you are playing a light tank, please scout the enemy for your allies! The scouted enemy tanks will appear on the mini-map of all your teammates with a white outline. This is obviously essential in RB, but it is also useful in AB, where the markers of scouted tanks are visible in smoke. You can exploit this feature by scouting a close enemy, dropping smoke grenades or firing a smoke shell, and move while tracking the enemy to ultimately destroy it!
Use in-game messages
Point on the map to a particularly dangerous or well-positioned enemy that most of your teammates, not watching their f…ing map, may have missed. Of course, this is essential in RB/SB, where you should also systematically point to the location of an enemy who just killed you, after respawning.
Do not hesitate to use the automatic messages “cover me!” or “follow me!” (the latter also to locate yourself on the map in SB), but with moderation and only if you actually know what you are doing… Do not forget to thank an ally who just saved your life… And do apologize if you accidentally kill an ally (especially in SB), or in case you bump into an ally who was trying to kill an enemy and missed because of your clumsiness…The battlefield is large enough so that no one should need to do that…
Finally, especially in RB/SB but also in AB, follow the thread of the “kill list” (on the right of your screen) to identify a particularly effective enemy, trying to locate his position (only in AB/RB) by the allied tanks he has eliminated and which hence disappear from your mini-map.
Do not be suicidally euphoric
Very often, one of the two teams has a very good start, for instance holding the 3 zones after 2 minutes. Then, the leading team pushes like crazy (people pushing right after taking A in Finland is typical of mass suicide; secure B instead) and ultimately loses. Be patient, the enemy will come soon enough. Yet…
Advance with the front line
Once the enemy is falling back and your teammates are advancing (not in a suicidal manner), do not stay back. Advance with them! And since you are now getting close to the enemy spawn…
Let's talk about spawn-killing
In AB, spawn-killing should only be the final reward of an already won battle, when the caps are already secured, and when the enemy is agonizing with a few tanks left. Note that players complaining about this late kind of spawn-killing are just hypocritical crybabies. What do they expect? That the other team will nicely wait for the few enemy tanks left near the caps? Grow up! After all, Nazi Germany was ultimately spawn-killed by the allies… By the way, no, spawn-killing in War Thunder is not illegal…
Yet, most players going early to the enemy spawn hamper the chances of their team to win, for so many reasons, starting with:
- they usually take a side way to get to the enemy spawn, hence being totally useless during their long drive;
- totally alone, and the enemy still having many tanks, they usually die instantly;
- even if they get 1 or 2 kills, it is not worth the long drive and restarting from spawn after being killed;
- an early spawn-killer is one less tanker where the important fight is actually taking place;
- spawn-killers (like most campers/snipers) do not make the important kills which will decide of the outcome of the battle: those tanks holding or nearly capturing a zone are killed by the active players. Period. And hence, not all kills are equal.
Need more reasons?
In RB, early spawn-killing (definitely not a fair-play attitude) can be indeed effective when properly done, but still suffers from the same drawbacks as in AB if you go too soon to enemy spawn. Also, remember that if your team is losing – partly because you did not help where the fight is actually taking place, the enemy will not be spawning… as they are not dying… Unfortunately, the new (cheap) spawning points system tends to encourage (early) spawn-killing… To combat early spawn-killing in RB, your team must be careful to monitor access to the spawn-killers’ favorite spots (especially on some maps like Ardennes or Maginot Line), and you must mark them on the map if you have spotted some… especially if one of them killed you… Do not hesitate to change spawn, if the map has several. As for the late/final collective spawn-killing in a completely one-sided battle with an agonizing losing team stuck in their spawn… who cares (see the AB case above)?
In SB, because of the increased size of several maps, the limited number of tank spawns, and the smaller teams, early spawn-killing is usually totally useless (and, again, definitely not in the spirit of the game) and late spawn-killing may only serve to finish off an agonizing enemy, like in AB (although much less justified/effective than in AB because of the smaller team and fewer respawns).
A word about cheaters
Cheaters are a plague for all honest players and the game itself, and I personally do not understand where they derive their unhealthy pleasure. Before suspecting any illegal action, one must first be aware of the “hacks” that exist and those that simply do not exist. Let’s say it straight away, and as repeated many times by Gaijin, hacks making shells ricochet on your tank, or increasing the penetration of your shells or the speed of your tank, or letting you shoot through impenetrable objects for others, or reducing your repair or reloading time simply do not exist. All these aspects are directly managed by Gaijin’s servers and not by your client.
The most used hacks are aimbots/wall-hacks that allow seeing enemies that you are not supposed to be able to see and which provide assistance for long-range shooting, although without being able to help to aim at tank weak spots. These hacks are of little interest in AB (except for some “miraculous” long-distance shots) but have a huge impact in RB/SB, since enemies, at least those in the environment of the cheater, will show some kind of markers. See this link and this link for more information from Gaijin on cheating and their fight against it.
What if you suspect a player of cheating? First, never tell someone that he is a cheater: if you’re right, report him instead (see below) and do not warn him that he is on your watch list: the surprise of his ban will be even bigger. If you are mistaken and just displayed your frustration at having met a skilled opponent, you are ridiculous and behaving like a complete n00b. If you suspect a player of cheating, watch the replay in question (by switching on player markers) on Gaijin’s server only by selecting the player’s view (button “2”; you may also try low graphical settings as some players use ULQ, because, you know, they have a computer from 1995…), because your replay on your client is not reliable at all (let alone the in-game kill-cam which just shows a very crude depiction of the kill; simply never trust the latter). If your suspicions are confirmed, look at some other replays of the player to be certain. In RB/SB, where these cheaters are the most numerous (and the easiest to identify), see if the player anticipates the motion of opponents without having been able to spot or hear them at all before (too timely rotation of his turret and/or switch to gunner view), and if he can spot distant opponents very quickly without a convincing search (using gunner view and/or binoculars).
If you are now sure, report the player (preferably, for all replays that you have identified as suspicious) by indicating the time of the first cheating. You have to fill your report with a brief text where you will specify the nature of the cheating and other critical moments in the replay. Happy cheater hunting, but without acting like a n00b!
I hear many players complaining that they were in a stupid team and that there was nothing to do to win the battle. Sure, that sometimes happens, and you can lose a tank battle even after making 27 kills and capturing 3 zones!.
Still, there is no doubt that a single good tanker playing any nation can have a big or even huge impact on a battle, and consistently present win rates well above 50% in AB, RB, and SB ground battles.
So, if your current monthly win rate is still below 55% in any tank mode you play, and/or if your monthly average ranking in the team is still below 55-60%, it is likely that you are not fully exploiting some of the above tips.
Cheers, and thanks for sharing your thoughts!
“Commander” of squadron =JOB= (see JOB’s profile on ThunderSkill.com)
My credentials: typically 75-80/90/75% monthly win rates in ground AB/RB/SB (2 years playing completely alone; 5 years playing ¾ of my battles in squads), with 60000+/5500+/350+ battles there. I play all nations at all BR, even the “bad” tanks – including 25000+ battles in Tier 5-7 – with more than 90% of all the tanks in the game fully spaded.