Sunday, April 23, 2017

My Evaluation of the World of Tanks 9.18 Changes

Wargaming recently released the 9.18 patch on the NA server.  The patch was released even after many players saying on Sandbox and Common Test that there are some issues they didn't like and need to be worked on.

Here are the changes:

  • Reusable Consumables
  • Improved Matchmaker
  • Light tank branches extended to tier 10
  • SPG/Arty Changes

Reusable Consumables

In patch 9.18, consumables have the ability to be reused after 90 seconds.  You pay only one for using the consumable no matter how many times its used.  Some players were concerned that you would have to pay per use.  However, Wargaming was smart enough not to upset players by charging per use.  If Wargaming did charge per use of the consumable, players would be shouting "MONEYGRAB!" on the forums.

I can see the argument that reusable consumables makes the game easier and can take a little skill out of the game.  If I specifically target a loader or gunner position in the enemy tank or TD and hit it, I may not actually put that enemy tank at a disadvantage for long.

Overall, the idea of reusable consumables seems to be an improvement to game play.  You no longer have to decide, do I fix my ammo rack and risk getting shot again while I'm tracked here out in the open or do I fix my tracks and be playing a gimped tank for the next 10 minutes?  Also, you no longer decide, do I heal my gunner and not my loader or commander?

Improved Matchmaker

Here is what Wargaming's patch notes say about the new matchmaker:

  • Pattern-based matchmaker. The new matchmaker for Random Battles based on predetermined patterns. Pattern is a complex of team characteristics, including the number of vehicles at the top/middle/bottom of the team list, number of Platoons, number of light/medium/heavy tanks, SPGs, and tank destroyers. The teams are always created according to the following rule: number of vehicles at the bottom of the team list should exceed the number of vehicles at the top or middle of the team list. The priority pattern for three-tier battles is 3-5-7; the pattern for two-tier battles is 5-10. One-tier battles are allowed under conditions when other patterns are not possible.
  • Only same-tier Platoons are allowed.
  • The number of SPGs per team should not exceed three vehicles.
  • Enabled the limitation for usage of SPGs in Platoons. Selection of SPGs in the Platoon window is disabled. The limitation affects both Platoons that include only SPGs and Platoons that include other vehicle types.
  • The matchmaker considers the number of light tanks and tank destroyers.
  • The difference in the number of Platoons should not exceed one full Platoon (three players).
  • Preference of placing a player at the top of the team list, if they have already played several battles at the bottom of the team list.
  • Improvements to the map selection mechanics that decreases the chance of playing on the same maps within a game session.

I've had some issues with the new matchmaker already.  Maybe its because the player population on the NA server has drastically decreased from a few years ago.

I still get battles with imbalanced numbers of types tanks.  I had one battle where the enemy team had tier 10 heavy tanks and my team didn't.  The enemy team also had a tier 9 heavy tank.  We only had a pair of tier 8 heavy tanks.  Our tier 8 heavies weren't that effective against the recently buffed Maus and their other higher tier heavy tanks.  In addition to that, we had mostly light and medium tanks which weren't a match for the enemy team's tier 9 and 10 heavy tanks on a corridor map where its difficult for them to flank the enemy heavies.

Both before and after the changes the matches aren't balanced.  You still get teams that have significantly more of one type of tank.  Also, getting a top tier platoon of 44% win rate players firing only HE out of their E100's while they camp near cap and having them be your only tier 10 tanks really hurts your team even more than it did before the changes.  Especially when the enemy team gets some semi competent tier 10 players.

I do like the idea of only same tier platoons.  No more fail platoons or troll platoons because players either have no idea how matchmaker works or they intentionally want to bring a T1 Cunningham to a tier 10 battle.  Also, players can no longer rig personal missions by playing a tier 7 or 8 platooned with tier 10 tanks.

With how broken SPG mechanics are now, I think a maximum of three per team is still to many.  If Wargaming is going to allow the broken SPG mechanic to stay, then they should give us the option of battles without SPGs.  It should be a check box just like disabling encounter and assault mode.

No platooning SPGs sounds like an amazing idea.  I know how annoying it use to be to be focused by a platoon of SPGs for an entire battle.  Now a platoon of SPGs could almost keep a player permastunned.

Matchmaker considering the number of light tanks and tank destroyers seems to be a good idea, but I'm not sure if it works right based on my experience.  I've had battles where my team gets tier 10 TDs and the enemy team gets tier 10 heavies and mediums.  On some maps that puts one team at a disadvantage due to the imbalanced team composition.

Limiting the difference in the number of platoons is a good idea, but it was rare to begin with that one team would have any more than 1 platoon more than the other team in pub battles.

The patch notes and video said, "Preference of placing a player at the top/middle of the team list, if they have already played several battles at the bottom of the team list."  Was that feature removed or does it not work on the NA server because of the low player population?  For example, I played 10 tier 8 tanks and one tier 5 tank.  My tier 5 battle was tier 6 and in my tier 8 tanks I've only had one tier 8 battle.  I've had several tier 10 battles in a row and that wasn't followed by a tier 8 battle.  Instead I got a tier 9 battle, then another tier 10 battle after several tier 10 battles in tier 8 tanks.

If I get two tier 10 battles in a row in a tier 8 tank, I should get a tier 8 battle next.  Not a tier 9 battle followed by more tier 10 battles.  I'm willing to wait 30 seconds to get a tier 8 battle instead of being immediately dumped into another tier 10 battle.  Instead, less than 20% of my tier 8 tank battles have been in tier 8 battles since 9.18 was released.  Also, at least 50% of my tier 8 tank battles have been in tier 10 battles since 9.18 was released.

I do like the idea of not getting the same map twice in a row or three times in a row.  Sometimes its annoying to get same river three times in a row in an E100 when there are three arty on the other team.

Light Tank Branches Extended to Tier 10

I have had several issues with this change.

First, there is no reason to play tier X light tanks or even grind to tier 10 light tanks.  The tier 10 mediums are better in most situations.  Why would I choose a tier X light over a Leopard 1 or BC 25t?  It seems that the top 25 clans on the NA server feel the same way and the new tier 10 lights have had minimal to no use in tier 10 clan wars.

Second, light tanks have had their view range reduced during the common test.  In most situations, tier 10 medium tanks are better at spotting the enemy than tier 10 light tanks.  The tier 10 mediums tanks have a further view range to begin with and their longer view range can burn through the effect of camo better than the tier 10 light tanks.

Third, many of the tier 10 light tanks have stationary camo values that aren't much better than tier 10 medium tanks.  In most spotting situations, the difference in camo values doesn't matter.  There is the fact that light tanks keep their camo value on the move.  However there are very few situations in high tier play where that gives them a great advantage.

Fourth, the light tanks don't have enough ammo to "carry" a battle if you get a team that is lower skill or does stupid things and dies early.  Due to the decreased penetration, accuracy, and ammo capacity of the tier 10 light tank guns, tier 10 light tanks are limited in how much they can help the team win when spotting the enemy isn't the most important they they could be doing.  The tier 10 light tanks are already hampered by their low ammo capacity and if they miss or bounce a few shots, which will happen with their low penetration and lower accuracy guns, they could run out of ammo and be unable to assist the team in winning.

Fifth, if you had the tier 7 and 8 tanks full researched(Elite) before the update, the replacement tier 8 tanks in the tree for some nations are not fully researched after the update.  For example, if you had the SP1C and RU 251 fully researched and Elite before the update, you need to spend 29,500 XP to elite the HWK 12.  The same applies to the B-C 12t.  If you had the AMX 13 75 and AMX 13 90 fully researched and Elite before the update, you need to spend 34,600 XP to Elite the B-C 12t.  Wargaming should have Elited the tier 8 tanks if you had the tier 7 and 8 tanks Elite before the update.

Sixth, players had no choice in what happens to their tier 8 light tank crews.  What if the player wanted to keep those crew members in the tier 8 tank because they play tier 8 clan wars or enjoy the tier 8 light tanks?  Players should have received adequate gold to retrain the crews to the tier 8 tank after the update.

SPG/Arty Changes

The SPG/Arty changes are where Wargaming failed in this update.  Apparently, they didn't listen to the feedback from Sandbox and common test.

AP, HEAT, and APCR shells were removed from SPGs.  This is an improvement and reduces the likelihood of being one shot by SPGs.  This is one of the few positive SPG changes in 9.18.

SPG HE shells had their damage reduced.  This is also another improvement that reduces the likelihood of being one shot.  However, tier 10 SPGs cans till one shot many tier 8 tanks.  Also one shotting tier 8 tanks is easier now due to the increased accuracy and aim time of SPGs.  I've seen the T92, Conc GC, and GW E100 either one shot a tier 8 tank or take away 90-95% of its HP in one shot.  I also tried playing tier 10 TD's on Sandbox and was hit for 1300-1500 damage with HE from a T92 on more than one occasion.  1500 damage form tier 10 SPG HE will one shot many tier 8 tanks.

The improved accuracy and reduced aim time and increased splash radius of SPGs is a mistake.  Playing on Sandbox and Common test, I was about to either directly hit or splash nearly every shot I fired from SPGs.  One day on common test my hit rate with SPGs was 96%.  Before 9.18 most higher tier SPGs had hit rates in the 30-40% range and some had a hit percentage int he 25-30% range.  The 9.18 update changes doubles or triples the hit rate.  Its too easy to hit, splash, and stun enemy tanks now.  Wargaming made the most broken class in the game more broken and easier to play with the 9.18 update.

Decreasing the reload time of SPGs makes them more annoying and more of a broken class in the game.  Not only are SPGs much more likely to hit an enemy tank due to the buffs in accuracy and aim time, the SPG will hit enemy tanks more often.  Who thought it was a good idea for player satisfaction to increase the frequency of SPG's hitting tanks?

The increased burst/blast radius was a huge mistake with the buffs to accuracy, aim time, and reload time.  The other changes already made it easier to hit enemy tanks.  Now SPGs also have a higher likelihood of having an effect enemy tanks when they miss?  SPGs shouldn't be rewarded for missing their target by 10+ meters when SPGs have improved accuracy, improved aim time, and improved reload time.  Also, SPGs now can do damage through solid objects(Walls, Rocks, Buildings, other tanks, etc) and stun through solid objects.  That is completely broken and needs to be changed.

Adding  the stunning effect to the SPGs that feature guns of calibers over 150 mm isn't an bad change.  However, the ability to stun when missing a target and the ability to stun through solid objects(Walls, Rocks, Buildings, other tanks, etc) is a big mistake.  Stunning should only happen with direct hits and should not happen through solid objects.

The alternative trajectory view for SPGs is a good addition to the game.  However, I have one major issue with it.  The alternative view bounces around and changes angles quite often.  The bouncing around is very annoying when compared to the Battle Assistant mod.

The SPG target area marker is a welcome addition to the game and another positive improvement.  The marker shows the aim point of the SPG and lets allies know how far back they should move.  It may be the only thing Wargaming got right with the SPG changes.

Here are some photos showing how broken SPGs are now.

Above are two parts of two screenshots from the same arty hit(M53/55) showing my issue with the current stun mechanic.  As you can see the arty shot lands on the far side of the tank behind me.  Yet I still get stunned for about 15 seconds that far away through a solid object(tank)?  Look how far away that shot landed and how most of that tank was between me and where the arty shot landed.  That's way to large for a stun radius.  That's a completely broken game mechanic.  Not only was the accuracy, reload time, and aim time of arty buffed, but not you can get stunned by shots that miss you by long distances with tanks between you and the arty impact point.

Now SPGs can damage and stun tanks through walls and other solid objects.  Hiding behind walls, buildings, and rocks no longer protects you from damage and stun.  I can't HE an enemy tank to death behind a wall, rock, or building.  Yet SPGs can damage tanks behind solid objects?  I see Wargaming threw logic out the window with that SPG change.

Wargaming hasn't addressed the other issues with SPGs:

  • SPGs can sit in one spot the entire battle and not be in danger of receiving damage until most of their team is dead.
  • SPGs are not easily spotted when they fire, so they are not forced to move.  If you have seen videos and pictures of WWII era arty fire, you will see a 30'-50' plume of smoke and burning gunpowder go up into the sky.  There should be more indication in game of the approximate location of SPGs to help the enemy team counter SPGs.
  • SPGs can sit in a corner of the map and have the ability to fire over the entire map.  Yet nobody can easily shoot back at SPGs.
  • The deforestation of maps and the increase of corridor maps means light tanks can't easily get by the enemy to spot and kill enemy SPGs.
  • SPGs should have their firing ranges reduced so they are forced to move up and support the team because the changes in maps make it much harder to get light tanks through enemy liens to spot and kill SPGs.
  • SPG players are not forced to move regularly because tracers have been harder to see since 8.6 and counter battery is much more difficult.  Also because its harder for enemy tanks to get through the lines and spot the SPGs.
  • Most pub battle SPG players are useless because they refuse to move from the first spot they stop in for better shots and they don't understand target prioritization.  Because of this they get rewarded for doing damage that doesn't help the team win.

Overall Impressions

Overall, I give the World of Tanks 9.18 update an E for effort and an F for implementation.  I recently had my 4 year anniversary of playing World of Tanks.  With the way the changes in this game are headed, I don't see myself playing World of Tanks for much longer unless they are some major fixes coming soon.


  1. Nice review, did not notice how arty can kill you tru walls. akward! 9.18 requires many many changes or game is going south.

  2. Well written review! For me the only thing I like in 9.18 is the reusable consumables. Your conclusion very well sums it up for me, which is sad as I have been playing almost since the beginning. I just don't get war gaming they never seem to listen to their player base.