WoT Corner; Game Flow

WoT Corner; Game Flow

Online PvP video games usually develop a meta-game if they’ve been around long enough.  After five plus years World of Tanks (WoT) is no exception.  Players in any game learn through long experience which units fit into what role and how each map should be played.  In addition they often settle into a larger, phased gameplay standard.  At competitive levels these systems and strategies can be quite specific and tailored to exacting detail.  Public matches in WoT aren’t quite that ridged, however there’s a very important and easily recognized battle flow for most games.  Understanding what the phases are, how your tank and the map affect them and how to recognize what you should do next is critical to improving your performance.

Players ignore the game meta at their own peril, and playing against it will most often result in poor win rates.

When the countdown timer ends and the tanks start their initial deployment the game has entered the first phase of scouting and screening.  Neither team has any information other than tank types.  And of course the enemies initial spawn point.  To some extent moving to your initial positions will reveal some of the enemy team.  But it’s critical your scouts and mediums provide most of the information on enemy disposition.  There’s a general meta for each map, so with experience you’ll develop an idea of where the enemy tanks go based on their team composition.  However, nothing is better than knowing exactly where they’re going because they’ve been spotted.

While the mediums and lights find the enemy the rest of the team should look for opportunities to take shots and remove HP from the opposition before they get positioned.  Most maps have a few places that’re quite vulnerable to taking early damage.  If your scouts and lights are doing their jobs you’ll get shots.  They should also be trying to keep the enemy scouts and lights from doing the same to your team.  If you’re in a heavy or TD attempting to get into position, be wary during this phase and use terrain, cover and distance as much as possible to minimize your exposure.  If you stop to shoot make sure it’s a positive trade.

scout on the way to work

A scout on the way to work.

The best players will learn how to do damage in this phase.  Average players learn how to not lose HP in this phase and poor players often get crippled early, killed or neutralized.

Right on the heels of the scouting and screening phase the match enters the initial contact phase.  Sometimes enough enemy are lit in the scouting phase that there’s a quick engagement.  These are usually one sided affairs and quickly broken off as the teams continue to their positions.

Early scouting enabled fights can occasionally be decisive if one team loses too much HP before they even get in position.

As the teams reach their first positions, typically on one of two to three corridors depending on the map, the initial shot trading begins.  The advantage is given to the team that positions first and is waiting.  A few free shots as the enemy approaches that they cannot effectively return pushes the trading in your favor.  When approaching your first position in a slow tank, be wary, and use cover, terrain and angling to approach.  Ensure you don’t over expose and don’t simply drive through the flank into the enemy guns.  This is a time to be a bit cautious.

The best players know where to position and whether or not they can even try for early shots or must be more defensive.  An average player trades evenly early on and poor players who advance often get isolated or trade negatively.

Once teams have taken up their positions, the first large scale engagements will commence.  These can be quick, sharp clashes where one side fails rapidly.  They can also be long drawn out battles depending on the map and team compositions as well as the overall aggressiveness of each team.  The key for a player during this phase is to trade effectively.  This means you conserve your HP while removing the enemies.  Because there are so many guns still in the game during this phase a rash move to expose for a shot can cost you a lot of HP, or even take you out of the game.  You must damage the enemy, but you must also remain an effective tank.


The big kids have arrived.

The best players will avoid losing enough HP to become a one shot, and trade at an advantage, most of the time not even taking any hits.  Average players will facilitate winning the flank but often come out of it crippled or destroyed.  Poor players will often die in this phase, or actually get in the way of their own team and are a net negative for their side.

As initial contact progresses, the flow of the game starts to indicate who’s wining and who’s losing.  As a general rule a 2 to 1 advantage on any one flank is decisive (depending on the tank types).  This is not to say a determined smaller force cannot win the day and tiers and tank types matter but in general 2 to 1 wins.  While you attempt to trade effectively you must keep an eye on the rest of the game flow.  For example if the other flank is losing you may need to wrap up your flank quickly in order to react to the lost side.

A winning or losing situation on a flank will determine how the battle flows from that point.  There’re usually one or two critical areas on a map.  On the maps with one critical area, losing that area is often a large Indicator that the game is lost.  In the case of maps with two and sometimes three critical areas a loss on one flank can be countered by a win on another.  Stalemates are harder to judge, and the larger flow picture will have to be considered.  In some situations a stalemate is in effect a win especially for the team that has invested fewer tanks.

A losing situation forces you to make a hard decision.  Do you stay there and slow them down, do you make a fighting retreat, or do you bug out?  This decision making process can be very difficult and most players recognize the need to get out far too late.  You’ll have to assess the larger game flow to make your decision.  Plus, there’re many other considerations.  Are you fast enough to disengage?  Will running away actually help, or can you delay them enough for your team to win?

target rich

Target rich environment, this may take a while to decide.

As the engagements on one or more flanks wrap up, players are faced with the decision, what next?  This is one of the points where many players make the biggest mistakes.  Winning or losing, you need to conserve HP as much as possible and flex to the next position.  The best players will move quickly and decisively to the next engagement without exposing themselves and losing HP.  Average players will generally go in the right direction but either die because of low HP, or get bogged down with little direction.  Poor players, if they even make it this far typically head right to the enemy cap and die on the way.

If the decision is so important, what’s the next position?

In the case of a complete ROFLstomp, simply drive to the nearest enemy tank with HP and collect your damage.   This of course doesn’t always happen.  As a general rule, unless it’s an obvious face roll, you should nearly always move back toward your cap, or laterally to intercept any of their tanks that may make it to your cap.  If you rolled up your flank, chances are the enemy won the other flank your team was weak on.  The best counter to this situation is to go back to your cap.

Unfortunately many games are lost when one team lemming trains a flank, rolls it up and then splits forces.  Some invariably press on to the enemy cap and some turn back to their cap.  If the enemy is smart, they go back to their cap, take out the forces there and then push toward your cap and defeat you in detail.  Remember that WoT is a HP reduction game, not a capture the flag game and you won’t often go wrong.  This is to say, going for the cap flag is not the default move.  Interestingly, a team that’s losing is much more likely to all go together while teams that are wining often lose cohesion in this phase because they believe it is won.

End game is typified by two general situations.   First is hunting down the ragged remains of a team that lost badly and second is the close game with just a handful of tanks on each side.

Hunting down the last stragglers is a situation allowing an aggressive mentality, especially if you’ve conserved enough HP.  Take more chances and absorb hits in order to get your damage in.  If you’re low on HP, let your teammates do the pushing, but make sure you’re nearby and have firing lanes.  Do it smartly though, a couple good players in a strong position can make you pay if you aren’t careful.  It’s also vital to note that the hard campers, those who ever left cap, will be waiting with full HP.  They might not be very good, but they’ve a decent defensive position and full HP.  That’s a tough nut to crack.

In the case of the close game, the flow essentially starts over.  Teams often win opposite flanks and then must flex to the other side to engage again.  This means that scouting and screening becomes the next phase of battle and it all starts again.  This time with less tanks and less HP.  Mistakes will cost you more.

Not every game flows exactly as described above, but most do.  Some games might even skip an entire phase.  A large wolf pack of mediums and scouts can make a game look like one long scouting and screening phase while they swarm pocket after pocket of adversaries.  However, the majority of games go through most of the above phases and understanding what they are, and what to do in each one is critical to peak performance.  The key is to pay attention and be flexible while continually assessing the situation and planning your next move.  Understand and control the flow, don’t let it control you.

Good Hunting!

Joe Granducci is a student of politics and military history.  He is a life-long gamer and a former fighter pilot.  Reliving his wasted youth, and starting his second career after retirement he enjoys reading, movies and computer gaming.  Joe plays way too much World of Tanks, and you can follow him on Twitch here or his YouTube channel here.  If you like what you see follow all of the NerdGoblins at NerdGoblin facebook and twitter @thenerdgoblin


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