Hello reader! If you don't know me, I'm Patient0, a player of clan BULBA.
Quick Bio: I started playing 4 years ago, and improved from a lowly 800 WN8, to 4k+ recent WN8 today. When I joined the newly created BULBA back in 2014, I had a little fewer than 10k battles. I've always found enjoyment in performing my best while playing the game, never settling for what my current proficiency.
I enjoy coaching others free of charge, but can't find enough time in the day to service everyone, so I'm starting this semiweekly article series dedicated to helping anyone of any skill level improve at the game. I won't go into specific tanks, since there already are dedicated guides. Rather, the information in the article can be applied to most tanks you play in the game. This article will go over what you should think about when starting a pub match.
How to Suck Less #1: Getting Started
So, you've found the courage to finally hit the random battle button. You should already be familiar with your tank's characteristics, its strengths and weaknesses. It is now your job to apply its strengths, and hide its weaknesses. A lot of you may wonder, "I know, but how do I do that?" Well, that's what I'm here to explain. Good players will always consider every single bit of information available to them from the start of the game. I'm going to assume that you are driving a reasonably fast tank (can go 40-50 kph consistently), has a gun that isn't complete trash, and has ok armor.
First, consider the map. Where will there be optimum cover but also easy access and angles to all parts of the map? I won't go over specific maps, since the viability of positions vary heavily depending on the deployment of your enemies and teammates. Your intuition will improve through practice, so start thinking about which positions offer more angles to damage enemies, and less angles for them to damage you (i.e. places where you can hull down, windows, hill, etc.). Exo's Map guides are a good place to start from. Start from there, then practice and adapt.
Second, consider the enemy lineup. How many mediums, heavies, TDs, and arty do they have? Are you top tier? Bottom tier?
More mediums - Watch out for aggressive fast pushes that will wreck your flank in seconds. Lure them into some heavies who can take the punishment, or regroup with your teammates and over-match them. Just don't let them isolate you.
More Heavies - slow down; pushing into them is what they want you to do. Find angles from which you can shoot their sides and rear. Facing them frontally means that they will use their superior health pools to out trade you. This is the best scenario because you know that they won't be going anywhere anytime soon, so take your time and farm to 7k damage.
More TDs - Recognition of popular firing lanes is important. Generally I would play cautiously, as even one mistake could end up with you at half or 0 hp. Dealing with TDs should be about the same as dealing with heavies. they have low mobility and even worse firing rate, so take advantage of this and hit them after they've fired or flank.
More Arty - For me, 1 or 2 arty is bearable, however, arty has a multiplicative effect where any number above 3 means that you are unable to time their reloads, meaning you aren't able to have moments of aggression in between reloads. Make sure to play carefully and not be spotted often. Control who they focus on. I might write more about reading, predicting, and influencing enemy movements in another article.
Top Tier - You're top dog, so play like one. Don't be afraid to push with teammates. Not like an idiot though.
Bottom Tier - You're weaker relative to everyone else, meaning that enemies will be more
comfortable yoloing you if they want. Therefore, take a supportive role, stay behind the big boys, and farm that damage.
Taking Early Positions
One of the most important things you should do in any game. Taking early positions sets the tempo of matches, and early game damage influences the game the most. Catching that slow top tier out means that he will have less hp to work with for the rest of the match. Early damage is important, but it's also risky. For one, if you don't position yourself correctly, the enemy might get cocky enough to rush you and if you don't have sufficient support behind you, you will die. You will probably also be the first spotted, so it means that arty's first shot will be aimed at you. If you've ever played on Lakeville and you see players asking for the scout to passive spot mid, it's for a reason.
Typically, it's wise to go with the majority so that you can win the flank rather than spend a hard time defending the other. Most maps only have two to three viable locations to go to, so make sure you have enough teammates with you before you go there.
Some maps like Prok and Lakeville allow scouts to get really good initial vision on where the enemy is going, so when that happens, take advantage of the new information and adjust accordingly. If they are rushing a flank, don't go there. Take a position where you can punish their push from the side and from afar.
Putting It All Together
I'm going to use a replay of mine for an example. The map is Himmelsdorf and it is Encounter. We're South spawn. I go down in my E5. I typically don't go hill from South because there is no way to retreat from it once you start losing. Also, it's Encounter so even the heavies will go up a lot of the time. Lineups are about the same, no irregularities. There is a large number of low tiers, meaning that the game will be largely determined by what the top tiers do. I check the 8 line alley, don't see any big players there. This means that either they all went hill, or took a detour and went 1 line. The most probable event is the former. After about 20 seconds I start going west on D line. Why? So I can get shots into hill. Excellent plays result from reacting to information quickly and accurately.
Here you can see me shifting quickly to Western D line at the 13:30 mark. This allows me to shoot up into the hill and deal out damage. In hindsight, if I had moved even earlier I could've reached where the Cent AX was and gotten even better shots into hill and better cover. Anyone on D line becomes trapped once the enemy is done fighting on hill.
Something to note is that I could've gone hill in the beginning, and brawled with the everyone. Each player has their unique playstyle/opinions, and you will develop your own through experience and practice.
TL;DR : Practice reading the information the enemy gives you at the start of every battle. They will help make the mid and late game easier.
Grats on making it down here! This is my first article, so suggestions are welcome. If there are any topics you want me to cover in the next article, feel free to post in the thread and I'll get to it.
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