Original article by @rocketbrainsurgeon
I'm all about bringing the fun back to World of Tanks with a brawling guide. No vision system tricks, scouting, or camping. See enemy, shoot enemy.
What is brawling?
Brawling in World of Tanks is close combat fighting within 100m, and typically involves:
- Snap shotting - little to no aiming
- Encircling - driving around an opponent faster than they can turn to avoid fire
- Face hugging - touching tanks front to front to force the enemy to fire into your turret
Here's what brawling looks like - with tips, tricks, and advice
Benefits of brawling
- Keeps your gun active - most people have difficulty in fluid or uncertain situations but do well with a defined situation (ie, shoot that guy in front of me)
- Dictates the action
- Incidental scouting - proximity scouting and counter-spotting people that shoot at you
- Generally occurs in artillery-safe areas
Downsides to brawling
- High risk
- High variance - Live by RNG, die by RNG
- Difficulty finding brawling areas on some maps
- Requires certain tanks/crews
- Brawling might not be the best path to victory
What nations or tanks are best for brawling?
In general, the Russian and Chinese tanks are going to be the best brawlers but it can be done with other tanks.
A brawler ideally should have:
- Alpha - when trading punches with someone, it's always better to hit harder
- Mobility - not only fast, but good traverse is important for angling and encirclement
- Armor - Some way to limit damage when up close, even if it's only the turret
Why are these things important?
Alpha is important in the damage race: if I damage my opponent for 390 and he hits for 240, he's going to die first assuming all else is equal. Missing a shot on a high alpha tank sucks due to longer reload, but there are less shots you have to hit in the first place so it's a wash. An IS-3 vs Type 59 example: the IS-3 has to land 4 shots (or if slightly above average damage, it's 3 shots) while the Type 59 has to deal 6 shots to the IS-3.
Greater alpha also reduces the chance for mistakes. It's incredibly strong to be able to threaten death when an enemy is a one-shot kill. It limits exposure to the enemy, naturally reducing the amount of time that the enemy can damage you. Low alpha means constant exposure, and there's no tank that can withstand constant incoming fire.
Mobility is important in two areas: low end torque and traverse. Low end acceleration helps small, fast adjustments while aiming and moving in and out of cover. It also helps with wiggling weak spots, making it harder to be damaged. The traverse helps angle the tank to incoming fire or rotate when an enemy is trying to circle your tank.
Armor isn't a necessity, but greatly helps when squaring off against multiple tanks in close range situations. If the mobility on the tank is high enough, it's possible to use "speed armor" (ducking in and out of cover quickly) and sneak in shots while the enemy reloads. But there'll always be an enemy or two that is unaccounted for, and it's here that armor is helpful to possess. Strong turret armor is the most valuable as there are many features on the maps to hide some portion of the hull.
Some examples of good brawlers
The Russian tanks are the kings of brawling at tiers 5 and 6 with the KV-1 and KV-1S. There's nothing that even comes close to them in tier. Beyond that, the RU tanks are up and down in brawling performance. The heavies are going to be quite good for brawling, but either a bit slow (KV-3, KV-4, STI) or under-armored (IS, IS-3, IS-8). The mediums can brawl just fine, but lack some of the alpha in exchange for better gun performance.
The Chinese line starts brawling at tier 7 and stays consistently good at it the rest of the way... at the cost of being terrible at most everything else. But brawling is what we're about, and the Chinese line does that with strong frontal protection, mobility, and alpha.
How to brawl
Find an area of the map that's conducive to close range combat
- Provides some type of cover - hills or dips to play hull down or buildings to sidescrape from are standard
- 1 on 1, even if there are other people around - There needs to be a feature of the map that limits the amount of people that can shoot you, like the NW corner on El Halluf where it's narrow and several tanks square off one at a time
- The "city" portions of the map are usually the best
Engage the enemy as safely as possible
- Keep the front of the tank pointed at incoming fire
- If the turret is the strongest part of the tank, consider hull-down or face-hugging options
- Sneak shots in when the enemy is reloading
- Sidescrape around corners if there's room
- Circle a less mobile enemy if you're alone
People often think that brawling is similar to sui-scouting where they just drive into a pile of enemy tanks. NO! The goal is always to fight with the idea that you're going to survive as long as possible.
Shoot, shoot, and keep shooting
- Start preparing for the next shot before reload is complete
- Snap shotting with a 20% chance of penetration but taking 0 damage is generally preferable to trading damage
- If you have an HP or alpha advantage over the enemy, it's usually OK to trade shots
- It's OK to trade shots if the enemy is assured to die
Why isn't aiming needed? Because it looks like you're missing a lot of shots!
The short version is that 66% of shots are going laser-straight no matter what. That's just how the accuracy system works and you may read up on the wiki (warning: math) if you like, or just take my word for it. The rest of the shots will not necessarily miss the target either. My hit ratio in the 112 where I do almost nothing but snap shot: 75%. 75% of the time, the shell I fire hits the enemy tank. According to VBaddict.net, the average hit ratio for 112 players: 73%.
The next reason is aiming. The listed aim times in the game is the time it takes the reticle to shrink 1/3 its' size. Again, read the wiki link above. So for a 3.4s aim time tank like the 112, actual aim time will be around 9 seconds from full bloom to fully aimed assuming no equipment or skills. With equipment and skills, let's say the actual aim time of the 112 drops to 7 seconds: that is a LONG time to be sitting still in view of the enemy! It's too much exposure to sit and aim for that long, drastically reducing lifespan.
Furthermore, the enemy is going to be moving around, forcing you to re-position and then re-aim. What happens is that you spend more time aiming than firing. Using the 112 as an example again: it can fire every 12 seconds (roughly). While you aim, the enemy will move away as they can see you're aiming on them. Instead of firing every 12 seconds, it'll be closer to 24 seconds (simplified). Well, since we know that a minimum of 66% of snap shots are going laser straight anyway and that we fire every 12 seconds, we can fire twice as many snap shots as aimed shots and our damage will (on average) be higher:
- Snap shot - 2 shots with 66% chance to hit for 390 damage = 514 damage in 24 seconds
- Aiming - 1 shot with 100% chance to hit for 390 damage = 390 damage in 24 seconds
The caveats to the math above: the snap shot chance for damaging the opponent won't be as low as 66% and the aimed shot chance of damage won't be as high as 100%, making the math greatly favor snap shots!
TL;DR: SHOOT MORE.