Garbad’s thoughts on Armored Warfare – late November, 2015
It has been awhile since we have had a guest article by Garbad. One came in to me this weekend and while it is a bit of a patchwork of thoughts I know some readers enjoy getting another take on things besides my own (and know Garbad from his WoT days). So here is his update:
Garbad’s Thoughts – 11/21/15
In this article, I will bounce around from topic to topic. I have several things I’ve been kicking around in my mind, none of which were meaty enough to justify a stand alone article. Instead, I’m just going to toss it all out and hope people get something from it.
CREW SKILLS UPDATE:
As most of you know, some gear/crew skills were bugged in past patches. I did some testing to see what got fixed. My tests were run mostly using the Starship, with the Fox, chieftan, VFM, and MBT-70 to confirm my data. I found:
- Food is still bugged; do not run it. Both kinds of food appear to give you a bonus to stats, yet if you enter game you do not get the benefit you should. For example, on my Starship my listed reload in garage with food+commander was 9.15 (9.47 with cheap food). In game, my reload was listed correctly…yet when reloading, the timer would hang at 0.01 seconds left for a second or so, then fire. I believe the timer is updating correctly, but the actual reload is not. I also believe this may be a factor in the infamous “shot lag” problems — IE, the problem is that the reload timer is not matching actual reload, not lag between the click and the shot. I reported this theory to the devs last patch, but they never responded.
- Intercoms (5% crew skill module) are still bugged; do not use it. Same as food, see above. Note that when intercoms are fixed, this could potentially be a hugely powerful module on many tanks.
- Leadership commander skill (10% crew skills, found on Max Koeign the preorder commander and Viktor the default MBT commander) DOES work properly. Note that crew skills do not work the way they do in WOT. In WOT, 5% crew skills gave you a 2.2% bonus to a wide variety of skills, regardless of how many crew you had. In AW, 5% crew skills gives you a 5% bonus to the skills actually listed under your crew. It works exactly the same as leveling up your crew (each level gives you 2% to crew skills in their core area, such as 2% faster aim, 2% faster turret, 2% max accuracy on your gunner).
This means that the value of a commander with crew skills or food is directly influenced by how many crewmen you have and what skills they have — for example, the starship has 4 crew including a loader. +10% crew skills gives the loader a 10% increase to reload. You can confirm this by exchanging Max for Juan Carlos (who gives 10% reload and 10% aim time) and both list the same values in garage and game. There is no delay, so it works correctly. Likewise, a Fox or a BMP-2, despite having only three crewmen the gunner counts as a loader, so +10% crew gives +10% reload. However, on tanks with autoloaders (such as the MBT-70), there is no loader, and thus, the tank does not get a +10% reload bonus (it still gets the bonuses to other areas, however).
The implications of this are significant. In a tank with three crew specializations (gunner, driver, loader), 10% crew skills adds 10% to acceleration, turn speed, terrain resistance, accuracy, aim time, turret traverse speed, and reload. That is massive — by a wide margin the best commander skill in the game. In my last guide, I recommended tankers run Juan Carlos on all MBTs. Now that crew skills are fixed, Max Koenig is much better on all MBTs…if they have a loader (basically, most NATO MBTs, T series, MBT-70, and a few others have autoloaders). Sabrina is still the king of camo, of course, but for any combat tank its worth taking a close look at their crew skills to see if Max is better than JCM or not.
TANK BALANCE AND SELECTION BIAS:
Spooky recently released some data about tank win rates. I tried to do some analysis on this data, but couldn’t get a lot done. Without information on sample size and method, it’s hard to get any valid conclusions.
For example — the Object 430 has one of the highest win rates in the game…and yet the tank is a turd. What gives? The answer is in selection bias — who plays the tank. Because the 430 is only owned by players who bought the most expensive collector’s pack (and not the public at large), every player who owns the 430 is likely to be better than average (at a minimum, we know they are more willing to spend cash on the game, and thus, are more likely to be committed tryhards and not casuals). This makes the tank look better overall than it actually is. I’m confident if we compared players who owned both the T-62 and the Object 430, for example, we would find those players do better in their T-62 than they do their 430…it’s just the 430 has no casuals to bring down the curve. This selection bias explains why in WOT, for example, tanks like the M60 were consistently the best in server in average win rate despite being a below average tank (ie, because it was only given to hardcore clan players, who win more than average even in a bad tank). Likewise, in Spooky’s data many of the best winning tanks are high tier tanks (which only the hardcores have unlocked yet) or premium tanks (again, only the hardcores own) which taints the data.
The more I looked at the data, the more hesitant to draw conclusions about balance using that data I became. Accordingly, I would recommend people take that listing with a generous dose of salt. While its probably safe to say the RDF needs a serious buff, its probably not safe to conclude much beyond that. We just need better data and not panic nerfs/buffs. I will say that in general, I’m pretty pleased with balance. I do not feel like massive changes are needed.
In my past crew skills guide, I recommended that players unlock arty to get access to the superb modules like the magnetic actuator (damage + aim time). I further observed that players should do it as quickly as possible, on the risk that AW may fill in the lines and make it take much longer if players wait. Many players, including me, following this reasoning to power grind our arty despite not enjoying arty. This in turn caused trouble in the MM queue, plus just the general feeling of making an unpleasant grind because we had to get max gear.
The AW devs responded by revamping the system. Arty will now not be required to unlock the best modules — instead, I understand they plan a token system so that each unlocked max tier tank also allows a player to unlock a max module of their choice. This means that only those who enjoy arty need to play it. I think we can all agree this is a better system, but it also implies that if you are close to unlocking a max tier module, do it before the patch so you don’t have to grind as much (IE, unlock the low hanging fruit on tier 6s so you don’t have to wait until you unlock a tier 8 to get that module).
Ah, minmaxing accountants. No wonder serb hates me.
Several people have asked my opinion on this subject. In a nutshell, the damage model in AW makes it so that if you hit a very soft piece of armor with a large caliber gun, it “overmatches” and
does 15% less damage. [As of the last patch, overmatching no longer causes less damage. ~Spooky] This was intended to reward proper ammo usage — fire HEAT at soft targets, not AP. The problem is that it doesn’t distinguish between hitting a weak point and hitting a weak tank, so its common to get the overpenetration damage reduction when hitting a tank in the back, gunner’s port, and so on.
I think the idea is a good one — I like that AW tries to reward strategic ammo choice. So in that sense, I want the system to remain as it is — just find some tweak that allows weak points to do full damage while retaining the core system as it is. [Obsidian is still looking at options to implement a game mechanic like this. ~Spooky]
BIGGEST FLAWS OF THE GAME:
As you may know, AW recently looked for feedback on the biggest problems in the game right now. The community opinion can be summed up into two main categories — game balance (vehicle balance, map design, landslide games) and game bugs (optimization/bugs).
While these things obviously need some work, I do not agree that these things are huge problems. For example, its probably true that AW has more 15-3 wins than WOT…but AW is also a much more dynamic game. By this I mean that tanks are faster, higher damage, more range…and that means they can just do more. When they get an advantage, it quickly spirals from a minor edge to a map wide rout. That’s not a bad thing, its a good thing. It means that that one tank who turned an advantage has a huge impact. Many of the top players I know feel like they can influence games more in AW than they can in WOT. I think this is just a reflection of that. So don’t see a 15-3 game as an example of stacked teams, see it as an example of a game where mistakes get capitalized on quickly, individuals can have a huge and immediate impact, and so on. In WOT, I always felt that focusing on beating the tank in front of you made you good, but learning to put your tank where you helped your team create a snowballing breakthrough made you great. I see this as just another extension of this principle. Don’t see a game as a series of 1v1s or 2v2s, see it as an army…find a weak point, break through, encircle, and crush them!
Map design is mixed, for me. I feel like the lack of documentation and understanding of vision play makes a lot of players unsure and afraid. I am strongly considering writing a guide to explain what I know, and how to use it. In general, AW is like what WOT was back in 2012 — the vision meta on maps like campinova. Good players can easily leverage this, and its more fun, more strategic, and more realistic than corridor maps (or worse, corridor islands!?!? What was this!?!?). Plus, as we get more variety in maps this will get better.
Also, as some perspective….I started playing WOT in Oct 2010, when WOT was at a similar point to where AW is now. Despite the whining of some people in the community, the game is doing just fine. It’s natural that development takes time. It’s natural that its buggy, unoptimized, and low population. WOT was exactly the same, if not worse. The biggest difference I can see is that the AW team at least pretend to listen to the community, whereas WOT simply pushed things out the door regardless of what the community thought.
But the bottom line…don’t panic, don’t be overly negative. Things are moving along just fine. The game is doing great, and only getting better.
Thanks Garbad for the article. As always, views and opinions expressed by guest contributors do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of Spooky or Armored Talk.