World of Tanks (WoT)

Sandbox Observations from an Arty main

First, it's difficult to adequately test the SPG changes without the ability to go into a training room with another player. It's a bit hard to tease out the nuances of the changes when the seemingly ever-present, yolo-ing RU-server EBR 105s are intent upon destroying you in the first 90 seconds of the match.

And yes, WG, I know in past AMAs you've said that a training room takes the same server resources as a full 15v15 match. Just make a limited number of training rooms available with a separate queue. I'm perfectly happy to drop by at 4 AM Minsk time if that is when you have some server availability for the training rooms.


Brighter Tracers

Prior to the Sandbox changes (and according to the WG Wikipedia)

  • Tracers from friendly vehicles were always shown

  • Tracers from spotted enemy vehicles are always shown

  • Tracers from unspotted enemy vehicles are only shown if they were within your view range AND they have to be within +/- 25 degrees of the direction you are looking.

    Note: My previous testing has shown that you have to be looking nearly dead on to see tracers, and the SPG has to be in your view range circle (even if they are unspotted/double bushing).

indicates that, '..the tracer of the artillery shells will be more noticeable."

This is a huge understatement. The tracers are now more of a giant flaming arrow indicating the direction where the SPG is located.

Now, in the Sandbox environment, SPG tracers are visible regardless of the viewer's view range, and even for unspotted enemy SPGs, as shown in this video:

In the overhead view, the live, production version of tracers are much more muted and shorter lasting: , then the new version in the Sandbox:

Experienced players already know where SPGs typically park. The new brighter tracers will just help less-experienced players find SPGs faster. Of greater concern is the fact that the tracers will remove all doubt as to the SPG's reload status, which will certainly hasten their destruction.


Countering in the Sandbox


indicates, 'The initial spot of tracer appearance is selected randomly along the trajectory' and, 'The tracer doesn't show the precise position of the SPG'. I don't think any SPG being targeted for counter battery will appreciate the new tracers, but the fact that the tracer origin is random along the trajectory is welcome news.

For experienced SPGs that already relocate the instant they fire, the new tracers are of moderate concern in regards to counter battery, but slower moving SPGs will be punished more by the changes, even if they do attempt to relocate after firing.


Sound Detection

The fact that notification is only received once the SPG fires is certainly the best possible outcome for SPG players when you consider that WG could have opted to notify players that SPGs were aiming at them. And as others have noted already, it is of dubious use for slow-moving tanks that can't exactly dodge out of the way.

Also, the fact that Sound Detection is currently only an option for the Commander who already has many must-have choices, may make its selection a bit of an agonizing choice. If Crew 2.0 is ever implemented in the future (with the promised free Sixth Sense), the resulting empty slot will likely be filled with Sound Detection if WG refuses to move the perk to the Radio operator (as requested by many here).

One interesting aspect of how Sound Detection operates, is that it may NOT work when a vehicle pokes a hill line to spot. The determining factor is where the SPG is actually aiming.

  • The

    video indicates, 'Players will be notified when the vehicle sphere intersects with the artillery shell trajectory, but only at a distance of up to 75 meters from the point of impact.

  • If the SPG is aiming at infinity (in the sky, which currently requires a mod), or at a point that is greater than 75 meters from the poking vehicle, sound detection won't be activated if an enemy tank pokes their nose into the SPG trajectory.

  • For example, there is a classic LT poke point at C6 on Malinovka. Ignoring the fact that the tanks are within 100 meters (and that the following screen shots were taken in a training room on a non-Sandbox server), the distance from the SPG to the target is 89 meters. However, the actual aim point of the SPG is at 223 meters.

  • Based on WG's video claims, the LT's Sound Detection perk in the Sandbox would NOT be triggered if the LT poked into the SPG's trajectory, since the actual aim point is 134 meters behind the LT (223 – 89 = 134), and the perk only activates if the vehicle is within 75 meters of the aim point (WG, these are the types of things we want to test with training rooms).

Miscellaneous Sound Detection Notes:

  • works if the vehicle is in the damage area when the SPG fires, whether it's spotted or not.

  • if the artillery fires with a lead and the vehicle is not in the damage area when it fires, the indicator will not appear for the enemy vehicle.

  • works regardless of where the enemy vehicle's vision is pointed.

  • the notification target area is 1.3x the shell explosion radius, with (non-exploding) AP shells having a notification radius of 3m.

Note: Wargaming gave the perk to all tanks in the garage, which is a time saver, but which may have inadvertently made some players think it was a freebie skill. That is, if you recruit a new commander, he won't have it unless he chooses it as one of his skills (BTW, it's now possible for Commanders to have TEN skills/perks–you just need 42,978,276 Free EXP).


Artillery Hit Markers on the Map

A circle appears on the minimap, and which lasts for 10 seconds, when an SPG shell lands on the ground, hits a vehicle, or other object on the map, including buildings and water.

This enemy SPG impact circle indicator is useful information for all players–SPGs included. Knowledge of an enemy SPG's reload status is valuable information in an SPG's decision to reverse out of cover to fire.

The impact circle indicator is of particular value to one SPG in particular– the French Tier X BC 155 58 (which has a three-round clip). If the number of impact circles on the screen equals the number of enemy SPGs (and one of them isn't another BC 155 58), the BC 155 58 can remain in place and empty his clip over the next 30 seconds with a greatly reduced fear of being countered, since the other Tier X SPG reload times vary from (best possible) values of 24.13 (Obj 261), 30.04 (GWE 100), 33.48 (CGC), and 36.95 seconds (T92 HMC).


Three Artillery Shell Types

The increased shell speed (and resulting flatter trajectories) of the Alternate HE and AP shells means you'll have to play much farther back in order to clear even modestly tall obstructions (even low hills). Yes, an SPG can and should relocate to find a firing line free of obstructions, but this also means that Alternate HE and AP shells are less viable for SPGs that can't relocate quickly.

There does NOT appear to be any penalty for hitting teammates with AP or Alternate HE SPG shells. I apologized in advance, and hit one teammate NINE times in a row with AP on the Sandbox, and another with four Alternate HE shells, and I didn't turn blue either time. You can definitely still stun teammates with the Standard HE shells in the Sandbox, and I turned blue after hitting and stunning a group of teammates twice (BTW, it took 37 battles in non-SPGs to get my damage ratio out of the blue zone–and who would ever had thought they'd see me in a Maus?).

This makes AP and Alternate HE entirely safe options for shooting enemy tanks that are face-hugging/near your teammates (no stun and no team damage).

SPGs can still destroy themselves with both the Standard and Alternate SPG shells (by shooting into buildings or the like at point-blank range), but SPGs can NOT damage themselves in the same fashion with AP (Please report players who destroy themselves in battle for physics abuse).

While the Alternative HE shells do more damage, their splash radius is halved. One result of this is the fact that Alternative HE damage falls off dramatically in comparison to the Standard HE shells.

The HE damage calculation formula is: actual damage = max (<0.5 * (1 - Impact Distance / Splash Radius)>,0.05) * nominal damage – 1.1 * nominal armor thickness * spall liner coefficient (Note: No liner is 1.0; light 1.2; medium 1.25; heavy 1.3; and super-heavy 1.5).

The following table contains HE damage calculations for both the Standard and Alternative HE shells for the Obj 261, and the damage as you move away from the center (in meters, where 0m equals a direct hit).

As you can see in the table below (which assumes an enemy with 50 mm of effective armor and no spall liner), the Alternate HE shell only does higher damage from 0-1 meters from impact, and after that the Standard HE shell does more damage. If shooting at targets at long range, and especially at moving targets, I expect the Standard shell to be the shell of choice.

Shell Type Nominal Damage Armor Spall Liner Splash Radius 0m 1m 2m 3m 4m 5m 6m 7m 8m 9m 10m
Standard HE 810 50 1 10 350 309 269 228 188 147 107 66 26
Alternative HE 990 50 1 5 440 341 242 143 44

One interesting side effect of the new shells is the increased range for previously range-limited SPGs like the CGC. The CGC Alternate shell range is out to 1400 meters (previously max range was ~1000m). I can't even test how far out the CGC AP shell will go until I get into a Grand battle (and based on the server count on the Sandbox, this seems unlikely)(CGC aiming circle size with AP?: IMAGE).

The fact that SPGs will no longer do internal module damage or damage crew when Regular shells fail to penetrate, is a fairly big nerf. I believe that fuel tanks are considered external modules, so the incidence of fire should not be reduced for Standard HE shells.

Having alternate HE and AP shells with their flatter arcs would be unworkable due to an SPGs inherently long reload, but instead, due to the relatively quick reload switch time afforded by the new Intuition skill (see below), they become a viable option will only a small reload penalty.


Changes to the SPG Ammo Interface

I like the new interface showing the three SPG shells, and which displays which shell has a valid firing solution for where you are aiming.

For example:

In this image, you can see that the point I am aiming at is obstructed by the rock:

Note that at the top of the reticle where the three shell trajectory obstruction indicator (STOI) boxes are displayed, the shell selected (Regular HE) is red, and the other two are red as well, indicating that the shot is obstructed for all three trajectories.

Also note that at the bottom of the screen, in the ammunition/count images, each shell has a red dot in the top left corner, also indicating that all three possible trajectories are obstructed.

In this second image, you can see that the point I am aiming is now unobstructed:

Now (and I triggered intuition to switch to the Alternate HE and was reloading), all three STOIs are green, and each shell ammunition/count image does not have the red dot. Note: It doesn't show shell travel time until the SPG is fully loaded.

One perplexing decision that WG made was to not make friendly tanks into obstructions for the STOIs, as shown in this image:

You can see that the reticle is on the friendly tank, and the Standard HE STOI is green.

The three shell types do not show on the screen/reticle in the Standard Arcade view:

Miscellaneous Ammunition and Interface Notes:

If an AP shell hits an unspotted target, there is no explosion (which is similar to how HE currently works in the production environment).

If an AP shell misses a target and lands on the ground, there is a small puff of dirt thrown up from the impact.

If these changes go live, it will be interesting to see if the independent developer behind the Battle Assistant mod updates the mod to work with these changes. Many players (myself included) prefer it to Wargaming's knock-off Strategic View.

All the T-up markers are the same size for all three shell types:



Before, the perk Intuition's description read, 'Created(d) a chance that the Loader will promptly switch between shell types, either while the gun is loaded or during the loading process.' In the Sandbox, the (now skill) description indicates, 'Allows for switching between shell types faster in a loaded gun. To activate this skill, a gun, double-barreled gun, or a magazine must be fully loaded. If two loaders have the same skill, the average skill level is taken into account.'

I found that switching before being fully loaded did indeed reset the reload clock to zero. Once loaded, the time to switch to another shell type is displayed on the screen, below the full reload time.

Both of the following examples are for the French Tier VIII Lorraine 155 mle. 51, and both have BIA, food, commander bonus, and purple gun rammer. The difference is in the number of Loaders with the Intuition skill, and which effects the shell Switch time:

As you can see, Intuition clearly 'stacks'. If one loader has the skill, and the other loader does not, the switch time will increase. I was not able to find the actual switch time (in seconds) information anywhere in the garage. It currently only appears in the Battle interface.

Now, in the Sandbox, the current skill simply reduces the time it takes to switch between shells. They did, however, (oddly) retain the indicator displayed in battle, which reads, 'Intuition was triggered', with a dinging bell sound. Really, they should rename this skill since it now works every time.

For the French Tier X BC 155 58 autoloading SPG, the switch time is displayed as before (but under the inter-magazine reload time). The number displayed is to switch the entire magazine to another shell type. Once you fire a single shell from the magazine, you no longer have the ability to switch using the skill. If you choose to reload another shell type with less than a full magazine, you'll incur the full reload time.

Of interest is something from the Sandbox FAQ #25, which indicates:

Why was the Intuition reload perk not included in the Crew 2.0 sandbox and will it be delivered with Crew 2.0 or with the SPG update?

It's an independent perk. If the SPG changes will be released earlier than Crew 2.0, we will release the perk with the current crew system.


Gameplay Notes

The flatter trajectory shells are a lot more viable than I expected. With the intuition skill, you can start with Alternate HE or AP loaded, and easily switch to standard HE if you need a less-flat trajectory in order to hit a target (with only a minimal switch time in a fully trained crew).

I've never been much concerned with counter battery because I usually relocate the instant after I fire. However, there are a few high value map locations that are difficult to relocate quickly out of, and I spent less time in them due to countering concerns. As a result, my DPM was definitely reduced.


Final thoughts

Wargaming's claimed goal with these changes was less stun. And I think the two other shells with their higher penetration/higher damage definitely incentivized me to use them. So, from that stand point, I think WG's goal was met.

Wargaming has an impossible task when it comes to SPG changes: trying to keep everybody happy, when there are five different classes with differing points of view.

While I'm not happy about losing 10% alpha and crew/internal module damage on regular HE shells, or having giant arrows in the sky pointing at my location on the map, or notifying enemy players that my shells are inbound, I DO like the Intuition change. I like the Alternate HE shell with higher pen & damage, but I wish it had larger explosion diameter. I like the AP shell which will make me less defenseless during the end game/mop up, but wish that the slope wasn't so flat that I have to back up an additional 100 meters to clear a friendly Strv.

Non-SPGs will appreciate the Sound Detection perk, Intuition reload change, SPG hit markers, reduced stun occurrence, reduced internal module/crew damage occurrence, and the always-visible, flaming SPG tracers. They will likely not appreciate getting penned for 850 damage with Alternate HE or AP.

In summary, I think that Wargaming has achieved the best possible outcome in their multi-stakeholder environment: nobody gets everything that they want, but everybody gets something.


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