Ammo in Armored Warfare – HEAT vs AP vs HE vs ATGMs…a quick ammo guide
So you have recently started playing Armored Warfare and noticed there are a lot of choices in ammunition. The ammo you use can make a big difference in how much, if any, damage you do during a game. It is important to note there is no “premium” or “gold” ammo in Armored Warfare. Just ammo of varying effectiveness against different armor types, for the most part costing similar credits as equivalent ammo for the same vehicle.
Any game has a learning curve, and part of Armored Warfare’s for new players is when to use what ammo on which armor. Below isn’t trying to be the end all be all definitive ammo guide in Armored Warfare, but it is a crash course. Any feedback is appreciated.
Ammo types in Armored Warfare
AP rounds in Armored Warfare
AP is “blue” ammo in Armored Warfare and stands for armor piercing. Typically the types of AP ammo you will see in the game are:
AP rounds are kinetic perpetrators, relying on their speed and mass to penetrate a target. AP rounds are fast moving projectiles that offer high penetration but comparatively lower damage compared to other ammo types. The speed and accuracy of this shell makes it useful versus all targets … if it pens.
Imagine AP rounds as arrows or metal darts fired from a tank. This round may pass through obstacles like fences and tracks on vehicles. Unless you know you are not going to pen, like facing the front of a hull down MBT that is a tier higher than you, AP is the round to use to give you the best chance of doing substantial damage since it has the highest penetration values. There is always a chance that you won’t pen if your shot bounces because of the angle of shells impact or if your vehicle’s gun can’t provide enough penetration to pierce the target at a certain location, but your best bet for doing so is with AP. If you know for certain you are not going to pen your foe’s armor you need to switch to a different ammo or relocate.
When to use AP ammo in Armored Warfare?
When other ammo can’t penetrate the enemy tank but AP rounds can. Or at moving targets. The speed of AP rounds is faster making moving targets easier to hit.
Penetration in Armored Warafre
You may be asking yourself how do you know your shot will pen the enemy tank. Determining penetration chances is as easy as looking at the center of your reticle. If you see green, your chances are good (assuming you hit where the chevron is). Yellow is marginal, and if you see red it would probably be better to switch to HE, ATGMs, or flank. I’ve fired both AP and HEAT when the chevron has been red (in a last ditch effort) and had success, but this doesn’t happen very often. In those situations you luck out and your shot ends up hitting a small weakspot. Don’t rely on penetrating when your reticle shows a red chevron, it won’t happen very often.
HE Ammo in Armored Warfare
HE is the “yellow” ammo in Armored Warfare and stands for high explosives. Typical examples of HE are:
HE rounds have less velocity (speed), offer lower penetration values, and deal less damage than other ammunition choices unless they manage to penetrate an armored vehicle. The benefits of using HE are massive damage if penetration occurs, the possibility of splash damage from indirect hits, and/or doing some damage to modules and crew even if the shell doesn’t penetrate. The slower speed of HE means you need to lead moving targets more than if you were firing higher velocity shells, such as AP.
Think of HE shells as a grenade from a grenade launcher. If HE penetrates a lightly armored vehicle it will do full damage. If HE does not penetrate a vehicle it will still do some damage, but far less than had it penetrated.
When to use HE ammo in Armored Warfare?
There are a number of instances you may want to fire HE. The most obvious one is when AP and HEAT shells can’t pen your target. You are facing a hull down MBT and have no option to relocate, fire HE. You are an autocannon firing AFV and want to light up some modules/crew in a vehicle you won’t have much chance of penning in the current encounter? Load HE and blast away.
A less obvious choice but one that means you alwasy want to have a few HE shells in any vehicle that can fire this type of ammo is resetting the capture zone. If the enemy is capping your base you need to cause damage to reset the points they have captured. Any damage will do. Instead of risking not penning with other ammunition types, fire HE. You only need to do a tiny bit of damage to reset a cap. HE should be your ammo of choice if you must be sure you reset and have any doubts your other ammo choices will work.
Shaped charges (HEAT) in Armored Warfare
Shaped Charge (most often HEAT) is the “red” ammo in Armored Warfare. Typical shaped charges include:
- Stabilized HEAT
These are explosive charges that do not lose the initial penetration value of the projectile over distance. This type of ammo will do more damage than AP when it punctures armor trough a stream of metal projected forwards by the conical shaped structure inside the warhead. Thanks to comments below for pointing out the little projectiles dispersing inside the target is really a secondary result. Be warned there are also more mitigating countermeasures to defend against shaped charges.
Think of HEAT rounds as small explosives that on impact shoot small particles into the tank (assuming the initial explosion is able to get the projectiles through the armor). If HEAT rounds hit obstacles such as fences or even external modules they may prematurely detonate. HEAT ammo is slower than AP rounds.
When to use HEAT ammo in Armored Warfare?
Always? Unless you know you can’t pen (all you see is the red chevron) or you are facing vehicles with explosive reactive armor (ERA) kits installed, HEAT is likely going to be your best bet. ERA kits usually look like square blocks placed on the outside of tanks and may be an effective countermeasure, but any vehicle you can pen with HEAT will take more damage from this type of shell than AP. HEAT may have less penetration value, but it does more damage.
ATGM (Anti-tank guided missiles) in Armored Warfare
Anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) are missiles guided by the mouse after firing. Most of the time these missles cause damage similar to shaped chargers and Armored Warfare calculates pen and damge the same way as HEAT. However, there are some that offer an area effect similar to HE.
To fire ATGMs your vehicle must be stationary and typically this is not a point and shoot situation like other ammunition. Once you fire your missiles you need to guide the projectile to your target by keeping your reticle on the enemy vehicle. If they remain stationary this is easier, but if it is a moving target you may want to lead a bit. Players can attempt to bend the trajectory of a missile around cover or adjust the angle of impact to hit softer areas on their target, but remember missile guidance is not as precise as some would hope.
One significant advantage ATGMs have is their penetration value tends to be higher. This also comes with a longer reload.
When to use ATGMs in Armored Warfare?
Similar to HEAT, be wary of vehicles that have ERA. Also watch out for vehicles that have Active Protection Systems (APS) which are precisely designed to interfere with incoming missiles. ERA and APS is more prevalent at the higher tiers.
ATGMs on some vehicles offer the chance to do much greater damage and offer greater penetration. Use them when you will not be the primary target of your opponent. This can be from a distance, a higher location, or from behind when the enemy tank is already fighting one of your allies. You are going to need to be still in order to launch the missile and likely remain still while guiding it to the final destination.
NOTE: Switching between secondary and primary ammunition is quicker than doing a full reload. There is still a time duration to switch between AP / HEAT and an ATGM, but it isn’t as long as fully reloading an ATGM.
Ancillary Ammo in Armored Warfare
While not damage dealing ammunition, there are some unique rounds you can fire from certain vehicles:
Some vehicles are equipped with smoke grenades. You can launch these by using the “G” key on your keyboard. These are typically used to cover your retreat. The effects only last for a few seconds, so get out of a hot situation or cross that open space in a hurry.
Smoke shells are fired from artillery vehicles to provide similar effects to smoke grenades. The difference is the effect is spread out over a larger area. The artillery vehicle earns reputation points by breaking the line of sight the enemy has on your teammates. Use smoke when allies are in trouble, such as retreating. Or perhaps when they are capping.
Artillery can also fire illumination shells to temporarily light up an area. An artillery player will receive reputation poionts for spotting damage for any enemy vehicles shot while being illumiated/spotted by the artillery.
Ammo quality levels
As you earn reputation in Armored Warfare you will be able to unlock more powerful ammunition. From a user interface standpoint it is easy to discern ammunition that is more potent by the number of bars.
Final thoughts on when to use what ammo in Armored Warfare
My general rule of thumb is:
- Fire HEAT whenever I can, unless I know I am not going to pen
- If I need the extra pen to hurt a target, I’ll switch to AP
- Some circumstances will allow me to be stationary and snipe or pop out and unload on an enemy. This is where I find ATGMs useful
- When all else fails, or I expect other ammo to not pen, or I need to reset a cap timer about ready to expire, I’ll switch to HE