WoT Corner; You Want to Be Good?

WoT Corner; You Want to Be Good?

I’m often asked questions by WoT players about how to improve their game skill.  Typically they’re looking for some mechanical gameplay advice such as how to trade better, or side scrape.  Sometimes it is more of a meta scale question like how to position and flex, or how to read the mini map and the flow of the game.  Rarely if ever am I asked about the underlying mechanics of how one improves; in fact few video game players consider the larger question of how one improves a skill.  After all it’s just a video game right?  You play it, you learn the game mechanics, and you get better.  When you reach a certain point you begin to understand the larger meta and you improve more.

Is that all there is?  Is there an underlying system that facilitates learning and how does it apply to a game like WoT?

It’s no secret that some people are incredibly good at various video games.  But is it just twitch skills, and lots of mindless practice that makes them so good?  Those certainly seem to be the popular, stereotypical assumptions.  To be sure, those things matter and help.  But much like professional football players (your choice of football depending on region!) natural skill and mindless practice will only get you so far.  Somebody who rises to the absolute top of any skill you can think of has a very important underlying learning system.  In other words in order to truly become a master of any skill you’ve got to approach your training with an open mind, honest self-assessment and a willingness to admit you’re wrong.


IS-3 says own your mistakes, or else.

Ok, it’s just a video game, so what I’ll lay out is probably not a matter of life and death.  That’s the good news.  But think about this, some professional video game players make their living doing this.  Do you think they simply leave their improvement to chance and natural skill?  The better news for the majority of casual players, is this will aid game play improvement; it will do it more effectively than just repeatedly mashing the Battle button.

There’re four basic phases to improving any skill which I’ll describe as practice, progress, peaks and plateaus.  We’ll discuss each and describe what you should be doing during each one.  All of the phases are important in the context of improving.

We’ll start with practice.

Practice seems obvious, but the critical part of practice requires you learn the right things.  Reinforcing bad habits and poor mechanics because you either don’t know what they are, or you refuse to do something as a matter of course, or pride, or whatever can decrease the value of your practice.

For example, great players recommended that you not play on tilt, this requires you be in the right mindset while playing.  You cannot be surprised if you’re playing distracted and do poorly.  Of course it’s just a game, and taking this too seriously can be its own problem.  Just be aware attitude matters.  If you want to hold a high standard in stats, you must hold a high standard in practice.

While practicing take some time to review your replays and look for mistakes.  Be careful when you’re new to something about believing your own press.  I’d recommend that you ask a better player or two to review and offer feedback, or try to play with some better players to increase the effectiveness of your practice.  Make your practice count.  Some may say this is pretty heavy for a video game, but it’s how the most skilled do things.  Professionals practice, it’s why they’re professional.

As you practice, you will invariably begin to notice progress.

Progress is what we all desire and it requires honest self-assessment.  Track your progress, not to the gnat’s bottom, but keep an eye on your stats.  For example, if you have a week of dying too much, your survival rate has dropped significantly, reassess your positioning and risk taking (simplistic example as all things are interrelated but it serves to illustrate).

Make goals that are attainable.  You should have a grand strategic goal, say 55% W/R or some such, but make smaller, interim goals to work towards.


One of the various stat tracking systems available. wotlabs.net

The most important part of progress is identifying and fixing errors.  Earlier I talked about getting feedback from better players and not relying on just yourself to identify your shortcomings.  To be honest with yourself requires you own your game stats and more importantly your gameplay.  Not one thing about your skill is dependent on anyone else on the team.  Your stats reflect your skill, own them.  No excuses.  You’ll need your Rhino skin here if you are actively seeking feedback from a better player.  If he points out a mistake, don’t take it personally.  Learn from it.

As you progress you will very often improve significantly, and peak, followed by a plateau in learning.

Peaks happen as we enter a significant improvement phase, they can also be anomalies.  Everyone has great peaks, and it’s dangerous to assume you’re now that good without sustained performance.  This is where tracking your stats comes in handy once again.  I say dangerous because frustration can follow.  Those two days you ran 3K Wn8 were great, but now you can’t sustain it and you thought you had it all figured out.  It goes back to being honest with yourself.  But, if you sustain the new higher rank for several weeks, you might be on to something.  Also, mine the peaks for some nugget of what you’re doing right.  And remember, continue to work on things you already thought you had down.  That’s the practice part.  High skill levels are perishable items and if not used will atrophy.

Once a new peak is sustained a player will often plateau.  Perhaps the toughest part of the improvement process is breaking out of a new plateau.

I’ve had several plateaus over the 5+ years I’ve played and may have even recently broken through my 2500 Wn8 flat line, though it’s a bit early and may represent an anomaly.  As a general pattern here’s how it’s happened for me.  Each peak to plateau has been a result of learning to do more damage.  It’s much more complicated of course because survival, kills, flexing and all the other things are just as important.  But because the game, and Wn8 as a measurement are so damage dependent that’s been the driving engine of my success.  Whatever it was I was improving let me get one more shot in each game.  That one more shot allowed my W/R to increase.

Breaking a plateau can be tough, but the right mindset matters.  First, assume you can win every game you load into.  You won’t of course, but go into it expecting to carry.  Don’t fly into a rage when you lose, but give it everything you’ve got at all times.  One more shot of damage fought for at the end of each loss will add up in your stats.  More importantly it’ll teach you how to survive in easier situations, to trade well, etc.  Better yet it translates to winning more.  I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me they cannot believe I survived some seemingly hopeless situation.  The thing is, I expect to.

Because it’s been for me a case of learning to do one more damaging shot per game on average where the plateau was broken; the question then is this.  What do I actually DO with that extra damage?  Was it learning to do extra damage at the end of games where it was a lost cause, meaning that I could retreat and survive for one more shot?  Was it extra damage early, because I learned to position better?  Did I learn to trade better and not lose so much HP?  Did I learn to use auto aim in the appropriate places?  That list goes on, but the bottom line is the plateau represented the place where I now needed to learn, what next?  The next is learning yet another skill you don’t have to seek out that one more shot of damage.  That’s where the top three of the cycle start over again.  Practice, progress and peaks to a new plateau.

Pretty heavy concepts for something that is “just a game”.  Of course lots of players can’t be bothered with applying this kind of rigor to a video game.  And that’s just fine, because everyone comes at it with different goals.  But if you want to excel, you’ve got to apply a system that most highly skilled people use to become the best in their field.  It’s also important to understand that some people approach games in the above manner.  If you get beat by one, don’t be surprised, or blame it on luck.  Be honest with yourself and your commitment.  If you play for fun, that’s great, but understand lots of us are playing to win.

Every single time.

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


1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    David Gibbons (Polecat_Price in game) October 03, 2017


    I see that you occasionally platoon with some of your you-tube subscribers. Is it possible for me to get in queue? I’m working on coming to grips with the things that keep me from being a consistent contributor to team wins.

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