Hello fellow Tankers. In this guide I plan to illustrate a few simple concepts which when properly applied will significantly increase the offensive effectiveness of both your tank and the overall effectiveness of a group.
Disclaimer: You may already know this or think that it?s common sense ? however Humans didn?t evolve to battle tanks (I wish we did) so bear with me.
Tactic 1: Target Priority
In many situations you will find yourself with multiple targets available to engage. In many cases victory for the team is determined by which tanks make the correct engagement choices. In order to maximize your tank?s firepower in these situations you need to be able to correctly choose which tank to shoot. Most importantly you need to understand why you are making this choice in order to assist you in future decisions. I believe the most efficient way to do so is to learn to quickly categorize encounter enemies. I suggest using this series of steps:
1. Can I penetrate it from this angle?
You need to quickly determine whether or not you are capable of penetrating the tank you encounter. As a rule of thumb, only plan to engage targets you can penetrate. If you can flank do so, but only if you are unable to damage a target from your current location. Flanking to the side of a larger tank often results in you being flanked yourself or being crushed by the heavy?s superior gun while he turns his turret to face you while still directing his strong front armor towards the original battle. Of course this is highly situational ? but if you are in a good position it is often best to engage from cover as opposed to attacking in the open. If you can penetrate at least one enemy tank from your current location stay there and do so while making best possible use of cover, concealment and distractions.
You are fighting in a Panzer 4 with the 75L70. You are 300m away from a group battle involving 2 Tiger H on your side versus a Tiger P and 2 Easy 8s. You are hull down and flanking would expose you to fire from snipers 500m away as well as the attention of all 3 enemy tanks. You only have a front shot on the Tiger P but do have a shot on both easy 8s who are attempting to circle. In this case you need to recognize that at 300m you will have difficulty penetrating even the weak turret of the Tiger P and are too far away to easily hit the lower plate. It might be tempting to shoot the most dangerous target however in this case you should engage the Easy 8 with the lowest health (see below). If you can take one or even better both of them out of the battle while they engage the Tigers, or also force them to shoot you instead of the Tiger 1 you maximize your and your team?s firepower by both improving the survival odds of the Tigers and by inflicting full penetrating damage on the enemy as opposed to ?that one bounced!?
2. How dangerous is it?
This may sometimes seem to conflict with the above rule as most of the time the most dangerous tank will be the impenetrable heavy. To rectify this conflict you only apply this rule AFTER determine who you can damage. Essentially, once you determine who you can damage you then need to further prioritize in order to determine which tank to shoot. In most cases you must engage the target which has the most firepower that you can still penetrate. However, there are exceptions. If you are facing a Heavy that represents an extreme threat (a Lowe in an 8 max for an example) it may be better to try to inflict module damage with HE shells. Making this decision is essentially situation dependent ? you will learn from experience. Overall you need to attack the strongest tank that you can still fully damage. Note that this rule is treated equally as opposed to before rule 3 below ? there is actually calculus involved in target determination however I have no idea how to describe it ? I play it by ear.
You are a Jagdpanther covering a map chokepoint ? you are in heavy camo and rely on your team spotting the enemy. You are unlikely to be detected. Sadly, this is a tier 10 match and your 88L71 is not good enough to penetrate the top tanks from the front. Your team spots an E-100 (front to you) an IS-7 (front to you) and a Wolfpack of 2 Pershings and a Patton. In this case you ignore the tier 10s unless they present you a side or rear shot ? you have no chance to penetrate from the range you are at (400m). Instead you target the mediums. In this case you can damage both the Pershings and the Patton. You target the Patton because it mounts a better gun but with the same armor ? you damaging the Patton and hopefully killing it will reduce the enemies firepower to a greater degree than the destruction of a Pershing. You need to get rid of the biggest gun you can. In this case the HP differential is not enough to override the firepower difference.
3. How long will it take for me to kill it?
This rule exists in an uneasy partnership with rule 2. Essentially you need to prioritize your fire towards the target which represents the optimal balance of firepower and durability. This is essentially a curve which is hard to define and varies with every situation. Sometimes it is better to one shot that damaged tier 6 as opposed to taking a tier 8 from 60% to 30%. Sometimes the reverse is true. The correct decision depends on the relative durability and health of the opposing tanks as well as their tactical position. Experience will teach you to find the correct balance in different situations.
You are a hull down T-29 with no arty. You are 300m away from a battle involving 2 E-75s on your team with an IS-4, 2 IS-3s and a Type 59. You have the top gun ? therefore you ignore the IS-4 unless you have a rear shot ? you are unlikely to penetrate unless you can see its rear or almost a perpendicular side shot. Here is where it gets tricky. Normally I?d suggest to engage the lowest health IS-3 in order to quickly kill it. If the E-75s are uncoordinated then which tank you are shooting might change, however re-targeting can be done during reload therefore it is right to switch if one takes more damage. In this case the Type 59 does not have enough firepower to easily damage an E-75 from the front and the IS4 is impenetrable. However, if the Type 59 assumes a flanking position you NEED to shoot it ? if it gets around the E-75 it can cause significant damage while creating an opening for the other tanks to assume a better firing position or to shoot the side or rear of the 75?s turret (if they turn to fight the 59). In this case the superior position of the Type 59 forces your hand. If all else is equal you target the IS3s due to their higher penetration and damage potential. Additionally ? if the Type 59 is so damaged as to be one shot you should kill it ? getting rid of a gun often overrides the superior firepower simply because you are dealing the final blow. It?s not kill stealing ? its saving your teammates a shot fired and often several shots absorbed.
3B. Can it be one shot?
If an enemy tank can damage you or your local teammates but is damaged or weak enough to be one shot then do it ? you get rid of as gun which is both a distraction and a possible flanker. Don?t shoot the loltracktor unless its going to spot arty, but one shot that Panzer 4 getting side shots on your heavies ? even if you are a Ferdinand and there?s an IS-4 in front of them. Generally tier 5 and 6 tanks have better DPM then you expect ( A Panzer 4 has almost 2000) so getting rid of one in a single shot will save your teammates a lot of grief. Deciding to one-shot is situation dependent however getting the kill weighs heavily on team success ? damaged tanks can usually still fire therefore killing them is the only way to reduce the enemy?s firepower and allow your heavies to focus on the immediate threat as opposed to a low tier tank which can still do significant damage.
Overall target priority is as follows:
1. SPGs (squishy but with a lot of firepower)
1B.One-shottable tanks that can damage tanks around them
2. TDs (squishy then Heavies usually and with a LOT of firepower)
3. High Tier Mediums (better DPM then heavies and also usually easier to kill)
4. The most dangerous remaining tanks that you can penetrate.
NOTE: The one shot rule applies to tanks you can?t pen ? a HE round WILL kill that IS-7 at 1% if you have a half decent gun.
Tactic 2: Co-Ordination of Firepower
If you are in a group of Tanks then your firepower versus random fire is generally proportional to the square of your number. However, this is nowhere near the entire story. How your 3 man platoon/small group co-ordinates its firepower can give you a massive mathematical advantage as opposed to each tank shooting randomly. I don?t see this enough in random battles but when it happens its effects are dramatic.
Essentially you need to treat your group as a single tank. The most experienced tanker should pick the target, in a Pub battle assume you are the most experienced tanker ? you are trying to co-ordinate fire when nobody else is. The entire group should then fire only on that target (if they have a shot) in order to kill it as quickly as possible. In order to demonstrate the effects of this tactic I will run through a scenario twice, once using random fire and again using coordinated firepower.
Example: 5 Tanks versus 6 Tanks ( all tanks are the same for balance)
Assume each tank is killed upon the 5th hit.
The two groups meet each other and random firing commences.
Round 1: The 5 tanks to 20% damage (on average) to 5 of the 6 tanks. Essentially each tank takes 1/6th of its health a round. The 5 tanks take 6/25 of their health in damage. The 5 tanks are at 76% health and the 6 Tanks are at 83% health.
Round 2: The 5 tanks are now at 52% health. The 6 tanks are at 66% (not looking good)
Round 3: The 5 tanks are at 28% health. The 6 tanks are at 50% health.
Round 4: The 5 tanks are at 4% health. The 6 tanks are at 33% health.
Round 5: The 5 tanks are destroyed. The 6 tanks all survive with 17% health. They live to fire again.
As you can see it was fairly close but the numerically superior side won. If everyone did this then battles would all be very close and determined by group size encounters.
Now lets rerun this example where the 5 tanks learn to co-ordinate their fire.
Round 1: Targeting (***)!. The 5 Tanks all shoot ***. That tank is destroyed (5 hit kills). The 5 tanks are now at 76% health assuming the destroyed tank managed to get a shot off.
Round 2: Targeting (****)!. The 5 tanks all shoot ****. That tank is destroyed. The 5 tanks are now at 56% health. (See what?s happening?)
Round 3: Targeting (rolfn00b)!. The 5 tanks all shoot poor rofln00b. He is destroyed. The 5 tanks are now at 40% health. Note that since the numbers are no longer balanced some will have more health while some have less ? these numbers will however average out fairly well assuming random firing patterns.
Round 4: Targeting (MaxL_1023)!. The 5 tanks kill me (crap). The 5 tanks are now at an average of 28% health. 2 enemy tanks remain.
Round 5: Targeting (insert_name_here)!. He is destroyed. The 5 tanks are now at 20% health.
Round 6: The last enemy tank is destroyed. If he gets a shot off then the average health of the 5 remaining tanks is now 16%.
Maybe you lost one or two but you still should have managed to kill them all using coordinated fire. Essentially coordinating your firepower has allowed you to overcome a 6v5 advantage. Note that this advantage increases further if you can destroy 2 tanks in one volley or the number of enemy tanks is smaller. If you are fighting a 3v2 it won?t be enough to save you, but it will usually let you kill one enemy tank before you are destroyed.
Essentially this tactic splits a XvX into a series of Xv1s. You maintain full firepower much longer due to the enemy randomly shooting while your team methodically reduces the firepower of the enemy by killing them one by one. This tactic combined with Tactic 1 can turn battles ? it is not unlikely that 3 tanks using these tactics and in an entrenched position could hold off 5,6 or even more equivalent enemy tanks.
Overall, the use of proper target selection and coordinated fire grants a battle-turning edge to any group or even tanker that uses it. Superior tanks can be defeated by superior tactics.
Remember: it?s not the tank?its the tanker.