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So You Want To Play AW? [Beginner's Guide & FAQ]

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So now there are 3 big tank MMOs on the market; Armored Warfare, War Thunder, and of course World of Tanks. Maybe you've grown tired of one or more of these games and wanna try something new, maybe you just want to drive some modern vehicles?
This thread is meant as a beginner's guide to address most questions you may have for the game and explain some of the basic mechanics. Beware that this might be outdated as time goes on, but I will try to keep it up to date as much as possible. If there is a question that isn't covered here, please ask it in the Quick Questions, Quick Answers thread.
I'll be drawing a lot of comparisons to World of Tanks in this guide and I assume you will have at least some experience with that game before reading on.

What is Armored Warfare?
Armored Warfare is a tank MMO with modern vehicles. But that's an awfully simple answer, so to give you a more detailed one:
Imagine if World of Tanks had most of its issues fixed while introducing more modern vehicles while the gameplay has been smoothed out quite a bit.

What does the game play like?
The game is much closer to World of Tanks in terms of gameplay than it is to War Thunder. That is, it's a very arcade-y game with little realism. Tanks have HP bars, there is a spotting system, and the teams are set up in a 15 versus 15 battle layout.
There are 5 distinct classes which play much more differently than they do in World of Tanks.

What are Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) like?
I want to say they play like heavy tanks, but only in a vague sense. They are the only class with armor that will deflect shells (and will do so consistently) and they have big guns plus lots of health. However they are much more mobile than WoT's heavy tanks, there is no such thing as a Maus in Armored Warfare. Some MBTs have top speeds reaching 70km/h and above. They accelerate slowly, but they aren't painfully slow. Their cons are low DPM, bad camouflage, and bad view range. Most MBTs also don't turn very well so they can be flanked or circled without too much effort.

What are Light Tanks (LTs) like?
The name sounds familiar and you might think they are scouts, but in reality they are more like medium tanks in WoT. They have an all-around good gun that does everything good but nothing great. They have good mobility, decent camouflage, and the third best view range. They are mostly snipers and flankers, they can't fight MBTs head on, though they might be able to pen some MBT weak spots frontally. They also get the most abilities out of any class: 4; multiple smoke grenades, better off-road acceleration, a boost to their turret dispersion when stationary or at low speeds, and an engine override ability that makes them much faster for 5 seconds when activated. Their cons are poor armor and lack of specialization; most tanks can do the job of a light tank better to some degree.

What are Tank Destroyers (TDs) like?
Despite their name, they have almost nothing at all in common with WoT's TDs. These guys don't have thick frontal armor with tons of alpha, it's quite on the contrary. Tank destroyers have the second best camouflage, the second best view range, the highest top speeds, and the second highest damage per minute (DPM.) They get a sniper bonus which, when stationary and fully aimed in, gives a +15% damage bonus to their shot. They do have one thing in common with WoT's TDs: they are still snipers. Their cons are their very large size, poor armor, generally bad gun depression, mediocre accuracy, and the fact they are wheeled. I will tell you about wheeled vs. tracked vehicles further below.

What are Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) like?
AFVs are AW's version of a scout. They have the best camouflage, the most view range, the best agility (not to be confused with top speed) and the highest DPM. They're generally small vehicles that use camouflage and view range to spot enemy vehicles so that their team can shoot them. They get 3 abilities; a recon/trooper carrying package that increases view range when stationary and increases capping speed, a designation tool that lights up an enemy for a certain amount of time, and they do not lose their camouflage when moving at low speeds. Most AFVs rely on autocannons and ATGMs to get their damage done. Their cons are very low HP, very low penetration, and very low armor. I will talk more about the specific tools AFVs get further below.

What are Self-Propelled Guns (SPGs) like?
SPGs, aka arty, are sort of a carryover from World of Tanks. Yes, Armored Warfare has arty, but they are very different from WoT's version of them. They are the only class that can fire outside of render range and above cover thanks to their "ability." They have a high explosion range, comparatively fast reloads (to WoT arty, not other AW tanks) with several support rounds. They get a special minimap of sorts that gives them a ping when enemy arty fires. I'll explain that in more detail below. Their cons are very long shell travel times, low alpha damage, and their horrible lack of self-defense that comes with being an SPG; poor armor, poor camo, poor view range, poor health.
Their support shells include a smoke grenade which can block enemies from spotting its allies for a while, and an illumination round which lights up enemy targets within a certain area.
And one of the biggest differences: if an SPG fires at you in AW, you always get an "incoming arty" warning so that you may have time to move out of the blast radius. This gives arty less reason to target the more agile classes as they can just move out of the way.

What is an autocannon?
If you've played WoT, you're probably familiar with autoloaders. Autocannons work in a very similar way; they have multiple shots per salvo that can be fired in quick succession, but they have a longer reload time than other guns which leaves them vulnerable. AFVs most notably get these. Other tanks get different forms of autocannons/autoloaders, such as some SPGs and one light tank, but I will mainly talk about the AFV cannon for the sake of simplicity.
Autocannons have very high rates of fire (at least 200 rounds per minute, can go as high as 330 rounds per minute) with very low alpha damage and low penetration. They are not meant for frontal engagements against MBTs, and sometimes even flanking their side isn't enough. Often times, you need to get behind an MBT all the way to their rears to deal damage to them.
They have very high burst damage potential and usually very high DPM as well. Whereas most MBTs only have around 3k-4k DPM, 7k DPM in one special case, AFVs can have as high as 12k DPM at most with the average AFV hovering around 6k-9k DPM. Their burst potential varies by tier, but ranges from roughly 1.4k damage to 2.3k damage.

What is an Anti-Tank, Guided Missile (ATGM)?
Quite simply, they are a remote controlled missile that is fired out of a secondary tube or the main cannon. MBTs and AFVs most notably get these, with most AFVs being able to swap to them quickly rather than having to reload manually.
ATGMs deal high damage and have the highest penetration in the game. However they have many cons; they are by far the slowest shell type, there are MANY countermeasures to them, the user has to stand still while guiding it, they have long reload times, and a tank that is being fired at always gets a warning to let them know a missile is coming in their direction. The penetration often isn't enough to go through the front of MBTs either as usually they have some strong shaped charge modifiers plus sloping, which makes them very resistant to them. They are very hard to use at first but can be a devastating weapon when one learns how to use them.

What are smoke grenades?
Smoke grenades are an unlockable module that most tanks get. Most tanks only get 1 charge at most, but light tanks almost always get smoke grenades and get 3 charges with them.
They work by aiming in the direction where one thinks they were spotted from, which blocks line of sight for the enemy and you get unspotted immediately. They have a 5 second cooldown between charges (only matters on light tanks) so they cannot be spammed. The smoke has a relatively wide radius and lasts for about 10 seconds before fading away.

What is the AFV designation ability?
The AFV designation ability lets an AFV aim at a target and light them up for 20 seconds while they take more damage while under the effect of the designation. Even if the target breaks line of sight from the AFV or uses smoke grenades, they will remain lit. When shot, a designated enemy will take the highest possible damage roll you can hit it with. For example, if your gun hits between 250 and 350, you will always deal 350 damage to a designated enemy. This tool requires the AFV to lock on for 2 seconds and has a 30 second cooldown after the effect wears off. If you want more specifics, you can read this thread.

What is a critical hit?
A critical hit lets you deal damage beyond your otherwise normal maximum damage. Critical hits can only be achieved by hitting certain modules on tanks. At the moment nobody is 100% sure which modules take critical hits, but the most common ones are the ammo rack and the engine. If you roll between 250 and 350, but hitting a critical module would net you between 300 and 400 damage, you can now roll in that range instead. Critical hits can be stacked with designations to deal as much damage as possible. If you roll between 300 and 400 on a critical hit, a designated target will always take 400 damage via critical hits.

What is an overmatch/reduced damage?
Certain parts on certain tanks take reduced damage as either a form of balance or because they are unmanned. The best example of this would be the tier 6 AFV, the Terminator. Its hull is very well protected, even by MBT standards, but it has a big and very weak turret. Since shooting it would make all the hull armor pointless, it takes reduced damage. It is also unmanned, so it will never take crew damage via its turret.
While I'm not 100% certain of the number, reduced damage seems to give each shot a x0.66 modifier. If you hit a reduced damage area with a shot that would deal 100 damage, you will deal around 66 damage.

How does camouflage work?
Nobody knows for certain! At the moment, it seems like it works mostly like World of Tanks, and that 0.01 camouflage equals a 1% view range reduction from the enemy, thus requiring them to be closer to spot you.
Camouflage while firing works very differently in this game compared to WoT, however. Firing instantly removes any bonus you have from a bush or a tree, and stacking them does not work. A magical forest can't exist in this game because firing instantly disables any camouflage on the map from protecting you while your firing penalty is active.
It should be noted that while firing, nearly every vehicle in the game enters the "negative camouflage" territory. It's not well understood, but from my observations it effectively sets your camouflage to less than 0. Which means that enemies can spot you outside of their maximum view range, and in certain cases can even spot you beyond the 500m spotting cap.

How do premium tanks work?
Premium tanks work mostly like they do in World of Tanks; you buy one for gold, aka real life money, and play it to earn extra credits than normal vehicles.
Premium tanks also get a bonus to overall XP earned. They earn 20% better crew, commander, and convertible XP than other tanks do. Premium tanks also have a higher chance to be on the top of the team list in a match, which is an unadvertised (but confirmed) feature.

What is the difference between wheeled vehicles and tracked vehicles?
Wheeled vehicles work quite differently from tracked vehicles, which is probably what you're used to. Wheeled vehicles have generally higher top speeds than tracked vehicles, but they accelerate more poorly on off-road terrain. They can not turn in place, they need to drive forwards or backwards to move their tank at all. They do not turn linearly, when you turn left or right in a wheeled vehicle it will start off slowly then very quickly make a sharp turn and potentially lose a lot of speed in the process. Wheeled vehicles, especially those with 6 or 4 wheels, also have a bad tendency to spin out and lose control, thus making them vulnurable and lose a lot of speed. They however can't be "tracked" like a tracked vehicle can be. If you shoot a wheel and deflate it, the tank will only slow down a little, it won't stop entirely. A whole row of wheels can be deflated and while this will seriously screw up the vehicle's handling and speed, it won't be stuck in place.

How does the "special arty minimap" work?
When an SPG fires, it gives a red circle on the enemy SPG's minimap, thus giving them a general location that SPG is in. The vehicle is also briefly rendered to them. Shooting again will give a more specific location. Finally, the third shot will outright spot the SPG to the enemy SPG and it is completely vulnerable to being counter-battered.
The only way to avoid giving away your location easily is to move between shots. Nobody is quite sure how far you have to move, but basically arty can't stay in one location the whole match unless they want to get shot by enemy arty. All in all, this creates a sort of minigame between SPGs where they will usually try to focus each other rather than try to support their team or shoot the enemy, which everyone wins out on in the end.

How is the random number generator (RNG) in the game?
RNG in this game is a lot more strict than in World of Tanks. World of Tanks has +/-25% RNG to damage and penetration and guns generally have worse accuracy plus a wider distribution range. Guns in AW have a tighter distribution range: AP only has a +/-10% damage and penetration modifier while HE and HEAT (or Shaped Charges, which includes ATGMs) have a +/-15% penetration and damage modifier.

What is the "semi-spotted" mechanic?
When you shoot at someone and the hit connects, regardless of if you deal damage or not, you will be "semi-spotted" to the enemy you shot. Your vehicle model will be rendered and the enemy gets a direction marker to the general area you shot from. You will not be marked on the minimap, you will not have a red outline (even when aimed over) and you are ONLY lit to THEM, nobody else. This means if someone is shooting you and you know where they might be, you can shoot back at them if you can see the exact location their vehicle is in.

How does the commander and crew system work?
You can unlock various commanders with unique abilities and put them on whichever tank you want. Unlike WoT, there is no penalty or retraining required for moving commanders between vehicles. You can have the same commander on every vehicle in your garage. You can even go into battle with one tank and come back to play another with a tank that has the same commander.
However, the rest of the crew (driver, loader, gunner) cannot be moved around at all and are stuck on the vehicle.

What is the one-shot protection mechanic?
It is exactly what it sounds like. There is an actual mechanic in place to prevent a vehicle from dying to a single shot, with two exceptions: ammo rack detonations and a shot + engine fire. Other than that, however, it's impossible to destroy any enemy in a single shot. A tier 9 MBT loading 1,000 damage HEAT against a tier 1 AFV with 800 health will survive with roughly 5% HP even though the minimum roll possible for the HEAT round is above the AFV's total health pool.

How are historical stats implemented in the game?
Almost every tank stat is subject to balance in AW. There are a few no-touch zones the community was vocal about, mainly things such as gun depression, top speeds, and size. "Concrete" stats, so to say.
Other than that, however, almost everything is up for grabs. MBTs usually have much stronger armor in the game than they did in real life and unlike WoT, caliber doesn't equate how much damage you do. A 120mm gun at tier 5 will perform very differently from a 120mm gun at tier 9 despite them being very closely related, design-wise.
Basically, if historical stats are a big deal for you, then this game might not be your cup of tea.

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What are some good premium tanks to buy? Which is turning out to be AW's Type 59? 

Asking for a friend. 

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1 hour ago, Kilpanic said:

What are some good premium tanks to buy? Which is turning out to be AW's Type 59? 

Asking for a friend. 

MBT70 is a good place to start

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Thank you for this, very helpful and concise guide.

1 hour ago, Kilpanic said:

What are some good premium tanks to buy? Which is turning out to be AW's Type 59? 

Asking for a friend. 

MBT-70.  High armor values, very mobile, and a huge 152mm gun that hits hard.  Only cons are the aim time, and accuracy, and reload are poor.  But you don't want to fuck with these things if you are fighting them head on.

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For pvp I'd rather recommend VFM to be honest. Assuming the player isn't an idiot.

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2 hours ago, Kilpanic said:

What are some good premium tanks to buy? Which is turning out to be AW's Type 59? 

Asking for a friend. 

MBT-70 for PvP an PvE and Terminator wrecks face in PvE, and can be quite alot of fun in PvP

Terminator is more like the Type, since you cant buy it now, only a year after release (like the WoWs pre-order ships)

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Might wanna make a note about bases, could give a nice little boost to new players.

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9 hours ago, Daroc said:

For pvp I'd rather recommend VFM to be honest. Assuming the player isn't an idiot.

VFM looks much more my speed BUT I already have one Tier 6 Premium LT (the RDF/LT); am I going to make use of two of them? 

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2 hours ago, Kilpanic said:

VFM looks much more my speed BUT I already have one Tier 6 Premium LT (the RDF/LT); am I going to make use of two of them? 

VFM has semblence of armor; RDF/LT or ET does not. VFM frontally can get ~275mm, which can bounce lowbie MBTs/ badly aimed HEAT/ basically all autocannons.

But I gotta say, if you want to brawl, MBT70 with 375mm front (not counting sloping, so the value is way way more) and a freedom 152mm cannon is really hard to beat. Espeically when it accelerates really fast already (3X that of fatton 60, which is also historical)

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The VFM is closer to wot soviet medium in gameplay. You have the flexibility to do almost anything and being highly resistant to any autocannons from the front and sides makes it quite good counter scout. Only real weakness is the vulnerability to missiles but at lest you have 3 smokes and kickass mobility. You can set it up for brawling, sniping, scouting or pretty much what ever you feel like while the mbt-70 can really only do one thing. 

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Having played against MBT-70s in every single tier 5 tank last night i hate that tank.

That being said I am going to buy it. The armor is unreal on that thing and it hits so damn hard.

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