WildStar Advances the Action Combat Paradigm for MMORPGs

Disclaimer: I have not yet played WildStar in Beta, and as the NDA is still in place, even if I do start participating in Beta I’ll honor the NDA. So I won’t respond to questions about what I actually think based on playing the game.

There has been a significant shift in the combat experience of MMORPGs with the introduction and evolution of “Action Combat” – and Carbine Studios is adding meaningful improvements to this paradigm in the upcoming game WildStar.

To fully appreciate the extent of change and what Carbine Studios is doing, let’s contrast the two dominant paradigms for combat in MMORPGs:

  1. UI-Based Combat: as popularized by World of Warcraft (WoW) and implemented in pretty much every major MMORPG prior to 2012
  2. Action Combat: as popularized by TERA and especially Guild Wars 2 (GW2) in 2012, and further advanced by WildStar

The Old Paradigm: UI-Based Combat

Here are the typical characteristics of UI-Based Combat:

  1. The vast majority of abilities are usable only if the selected target is in line-of-sight and in-range, and in the majority of cases those abilities when fired would automatically hit
  2. A significant aspect of skillful play involves managing the cooldowns of many different abilities
  3. Abilities are often most effective when used in a predetermined sequence or timing, a.k.a. rotation
  4. As the number of abilities increases, combat becomes more and more about staring at your ability bars (and addons) that track cooldowns and significant pre-conditions for using other abilities (e.g. target below x% of health, Execute is now usable)

These characteristics synergistically create a context where 80% of a player’s attention is devoted to the elements of the UI as opposed to observing and reacting to the actual fight, and combat often consists of the same ability rotations over and over. Think of the “9-6-9″ rotation for Paladin tanks in the WotLK expansion for WoW.

This is not the most immersive experience, and you can end up with rather ugly UIs such as this:

aionicthoughts’s Cluttered UI Example

Granted, the above example is an extreme case of a healing Druid, but it hammers the point home: the UI elements are king, not the actual combat. Heck, you can barely see the combatants and you don’t really need to. I ended up spending a lot of time evaluating, managing, and updating addons for WoW, and it was a headache.

How have game developers innovated in this particular paradigm? Often by adding “more of the same” (MOTS): more abilities, more UI elements. Maybe game developers figured that having more abilities would make gameplay more dynamic. What I do know is that over the course of several years, from WoW to LOTRO, WAR, RIFT, and SWTOR, the number of abilities available to a given character at endgame exploded to several dozens. Playing a character in an MMORPG requires the dexterity of a pianist, and it’s a reason that there has been so much discussion on the material I compiled on keybinding.

Of course, we know that more is not necessarily better. In the incredibly insightful book, Design-Driven Innovation, author Roberto Verganti talked about how commonplace it is for companies to innovate by adding MOTS, or what he refers to astechnology-driven innovation. For example, in the smartphone space, for years manufacturers focused on loading their devices with more hardware features, more battery life, better voice quality, and increasingly complicated UIs. Apple re-thought the smartphone experience and delivered disruptive and compelling “new-meaning” innovation with the iPhone, an elegant touchscreen device backed by a 3rd-party developer app ecosystem.

Is it possible to have engaging combat with a much more limited set of abilities? Absolutely!

The New Paradigm: Action Combat

In 2012, the TERA and GW2 delivered “Action Combat” to gamers in North America and Europe, and its characteristics diverged from UI-Based Combat significantly:

  1. Abilities can be activated at any time, even if your target is out-of-range, not in line-of-sight, etc. Therefore, positioning and distance truly matter
  2. Many abilities require active targeting with an aiming reticle by the player to determine their trajectory and destination
  3. There are generally fewer abilities to manage, and the emphasis with abilities is on the timing of when they’re used, not just activating them whenever they’re off cooldown

The emphasis on combat in this model has shifted from the UI to actually observing and reacting to the combatants.

This is what ArenaNet intended when they said they wanted gamers to “play the game not the UI” as they outlined in their pre-launch Golden Rules for GW2. This is not to say that the GW2 UI is perfect; for example, I would love the ability to make certain elements more visible, such as the indicators for boons and conditions on targets and friendlies. But overall I believe ArenaNet delivered on their intended combat experience.

You could say that the Action Combat model has adopted some of the characteristics that were long present in First Person Shooters (FPS games), in particular active targeting. Five years ago, I would have said that this would be a slippery slope and combat could become too twitch-based. But after having experience the over-emphasis of the UI in the older model, I now prefer Action Combat. It’s far more engaging and dynamic.

And this brings us to WildStar…

WildStar Advances Action Combat

Carbine Studios has taken a very intentional approach in designing their combat system, as outlined in their videos on the 3 parts of the WildStar “Combat Sandwich”: Movement, Aiming, and Crowd Control.

In case you’ve been stuck under a rock bigger than the one I’ve been hiding under recently, here are those 3 videos (I put Movement last since the other two are more eye-opening to veterans of UI-Based Combat games):

Free-form targeting and telegraphs add the element of skill to hitting targets and avoiding being hit. Contrast this with UI-Based Combat, where hitting targets and avoidance are typically math-based stats, which is something which has always felt so counter-intuitive in other games.

Granted, good movement in PVP in UI-Based Combat games has generally helped, but making all aiming and avoidance based on player control is awesome.

Games prior to WildStar haven’t quite cracked the nut of crowd control (CC) in PVE or PVP.

In UI-Based Combat, you typically have a very limited number of options available when you are CC’d, and those abilities are tied to long cooldowns, and bosses are typically immune to most forms of CC, which devalues specs and gameplay that emphasize them. Many games have diminishing returns for CC in PVP, but the problem is that with the exception of SWTOR, the DR is not made visible (without an addon). Or with DR some knucklehead on your team may give an opponent CC immunity at a time which is actually advantageous to the opponent.

GW2 partially (and I tread carefully here) addressed the problem of CC by having no DR on CC, and letting players decide the extent to which they want to spec into CC-inflicting abilities and CC counters.

WildStar elegantly avoids all of these limitations with their Breakout Gameplay mechanics when you’re CC’d.

Finally in WildStar, we may have the expectation in PVE that tanks move and position themselves in ways that make sense. As a former WoW raid tank, my #1 pet peeve is raiding with tanks that don’t know how to position their targets. I’m talking about incompetent tanks who run up and facetank the boss, forcing all the MDPS to circle around so they don’t get cleaved. What the tank should do is strafe and flip the boss so that its back is exposed to the MDPS. It makes sense to have 1 person move than 8, amirite, and it boost raid DPS.

Potential Concerns for WildStar’s Implementation

Thinking through what I’ve seen so far, here are two potential concerns:

  1. Not enough abilities
  2. Combat will be World of Telegraphs

With WildStar, the number of slottable abilities will be even less than what we have in GW2. That said, I’m not concerned. Given the “Combat Sandwich” mechanics, there will be plenty for the player to focus on. In terms of abilities, less is more.

Keep in mind that with GW2, abilities are tied to weapons, some weapons have dud abilities, and some weapons are superior to others. With WildStar, the weapons for each class are fixed, and you can slot whatever 8 abilities you want. I’d prefer that model, which is more like the Chinese Menu approach as opposed to being stuck with a Prix Fixe setup. Hopefully Carbine will do a good job at balancing the available abilities and creating incomparables, so that players will have to make meaningful tradeoff decisions.

Regarding the 2nd concern, is it possible that WildStar is so telegraph-centric that we’ll be replacing our watching of UI elements with watching of telegraphs? Granted, it’s still a huge step forward in terms of immersive, engaging, skill-based combat. But if I can essentially just stare at the ground for telegraphs and ignore the boss / mob combat animations, I may get that disconnected feeling I have with UI-Based Combat games.

Editor’s note (2014/01/27): I also neglected to mention the risk of telegraph spam, which readers commented about.

I really appreciate that Carbine is walking gamers through their thinking on game mechanics. Mythic Entertainment with Warhammer Online demonstrated the power of social media and blogging to generate interest for a game, but Carbine’s “Combat Sandwich” videos are the most insightful content I’ve seen pre-launch on the most important aspect of an MMORPG, the combat. It gives me confidence in what they are doing.

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Posted in Game Design, Guild Wars 2, PVE, PVP, SWTOR, TERA, Video, WildStar, World of Warcraft

Threat-Based PVE is Lame and How I’d Fix It

The traditional model of PVE tanking, which revolves around the “threat” (aggro) mechanic, severely limits the gameplay experience of MMORPGs. I’ll share an alternative model that would provide a much more dynamic combat experience.

PVE tanking and the “holy trinity” (tank/healer/DPS) themselves are not the issue – the problem is that they tend to be implemented with threat-based mechanics. In this article, I’m not going to advocate ditching the “holy trinity” as ArenaNet (AN) did with Guild Wars 2 (GW2) last year.

Why Threat-Based PVE is Lame

Here’s what’s wrong with threat-based PVE:

  1. It defies common sense. Why would an intelligent boss and his buddies attack the tank, who is the toughest, most-armored, highest HP target who is also the least capable of inflicting meaningful damage?
  2. It dumbs down PVE encounters. You have threat, boss attacks you. You don’t have threat, you can do whatever you want
  3. It creates an environment where where the focus tends to be on the UI not the combat: watching threat meters, tracking cooldowns, using abilities is optimized rotations, and listening to addons/mods tell you what to do and when – as opposed to having to continually read and react to situations and what your opponents are doing

The last two points combined have severe implications in most games where the vast majority of content and boss fights are simple tank-n-spank:

  1. The majority of PVE content fails to prepare players for much more challenging boss fights later in endgame which require not just threat-management but also high coordination and awareness. The hard boss fights are often referred to as “guild breaking” but the fault here lies IMO not so much with the talent in the guild but rather the lack of an experience provided by the developer to train players to be more skilled and aware
  2. Players are trained to expect predictable opponents – this becomes very problematic for PVE players foraying into PVP, since human opponents are very intelligent and far less predictable than threat-dumb bosses

My Fix for Tanking: Think NFL Offensive Lineman

If we ditch threat-based tanking, what would it look like to have a model where tanking is relevant but that the combat is much more dynamic and based on rich coordination?

Let’s consider how tanking works in the National Football League (NFL), which is American pro football.

In the NFL, the quarterback (QB), who is a squishy RDPS, is protected by five offensive linemen, who are the tanks. An offensive lineman (OL) keep defensive players from reaching his QB; the OL blocks, shoves, knocks down, and holds opponents. An OL is therefore both a protector and a bully.

But here’s the thing. In order for an OL to “tank” effectively, he needs his QB to work with him. Both players have to be on the same page as to what the QB and rest of the team are doing, and the movement and positioning of the QB has to be synchronized with the protection scheme of the OL. Moreover, when things break down in real-time, the QB has to move in such a way that his OL can continue to shield him. An OL also has to adjust his blocking assignments in real-time to counter the defense.

What if PVE combat works like this, where the tank uses abilities to control mobs and protect friendlies, and the trinity is constantly working in real-time to address situations as the boss and mobs fluidly switch targets and tactics, because there is no concept of sticky aggro? Combat shifts from staring at your hotkey bars and UI elements to paying attention to what the boss and mobs are doing and what your friendlies are doing, and taking appropriate action as an individual and group. Tanking becomes a team effort: the healers and DPS have to pay attention and work with the tank.

With such a  model, developers could make bosses and mobs smart, and encounters would be much more fluid, challenging, and fun. Combat would keep you on your toes, so to speak. Boss fights could still have stages, if that’s your thing. But the days of boring tank-n-spank would be gone, or the days where you watch TV while raiding as a RDPS, because let’s face it, you don’t need to watch most of the combat these days, and that’s rather sad.

Aside from improving the combat gameplay experience, there are other positive implications of the “Offensive Lineman PVE Tank” model:

  1. Players would have the expectation of working together. I saw this in GW2, where the collaborative nature of the game mechanics encouraged players to help one another
  2. PVE players who foray into PVP would be much better prepared – they’ll have gotten reps in PVE and learned how to pay attention / avoid tunnel vision, counter unpredictable opponents, move properly i.e. not backpedal, etc. Simply put, this model of PVE would make players better
  3. Tanks would have the same role in PVP as they do in PVE (control and protect). Unfortunately in many games, tanks simply have no functional role in PVP
  4. Tanking can be implemented in terms of abilities not numerical factors. With threat-based tanking, tanking successfully is dependent on numerical factors: threat generation, mitigation, avoidance, and HP. With the proposed model, tanking can could be implemented based on weapon selection / abilities (bolas, nets, shield bashes, shield walling, Vulcan death grips, etc) and character customization, which means that any class could play the tanking role. This would allow for more flexibility for group compositions – and no more waiting in Ogrimmar or Ironforge trying to find a tank.

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Posted in Game Design, Guild Wars 2, PVE, PVP, World of Warcraft

World of Tanks Video: VK 36.01 (H) “Ace Tanker” Mastery

In this narrated battle, I earned my “Ace Tanker” Mastery Achievement for the VK 36.01 (H), one of the best tier 6 medium tanks in World of Tanks (WoT).

The VK 36.01 (H) has 3 notable strengths:

  1. the excellent Konisch gun: high penetration, accuracy, and DPM
  2. good armor
  3. functional mobility: 40 km/h, good acceleration

In terms of weaknesses, the tank has:

  1. soft Lower Front Glacis: this weak spot can be protected by angling and/or physical cover
  2. poor gun depression: can be problematic on some maps so choose your lines accordingly

This is the second video in a series of “Ace Tanker” WoT videos so I hope you enjoy it!
Next up: the Tiger II, a tier 8 German heavy tank. After that I may cover other mediums since the playstyle is so different from heavies.

Let me know your questions and feedback.

For more info on angling and weak spots, check out my guides:

You see my current and historical statistics for WoT here:

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Posted in Medium Tank, PVP, Video, World of Tanks

World of Tanks Video: IS-4 “Ace Tanker” Mastery

In this narrated battle, I earned my “Ace Tanker” Mastery Achievement for the IS-4, the beefier of the two tier 10 Soviet heavy tanks in World of Tanks (WoT).

While the IS-4 has good overall armor, the front hull has a large weak spot, the Lower Front Glacis (LFG). The LFG of the IS-4 has effective armor of 209mm, which can be penetrated easily by most tier 9-10 tanks.

IS-4 Not Angled

Due to the thickness of the IS-4′s side hull armor (160mm), you can angle the hull 35° to protect the LFG.

Note that when angling, you do decrease the effective armor of the Upper Front Side Hull (UFSH). Therefore, you’ll want to wiggle back and forth to protect the UFSH, as I did against the Foch TD’s 3rd shot.

IS-4 Angled

This is the first of a series of “Ace Tanker” videos so I hope you enjoyed it!
Next up: the VK 36.01 (H), a tier 6 German medium tank.

Let me know your questions and feedback.

For more info on angling and weak spots, here are links to my guides:

Source for the IS4 effective armor values:

You see my current and historical statistics for WoT here:

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Posted in Guide, Heavy Tank, PVP, Video, World of Tanks

Competing in World of Tanks Without Premium Ammo (56WR @ 3000 Battles)

During my first 3k battles in World of Tanks (WoT), there have been two questions that I wanted to answer:

  1. Is it possible for a non-paying customer to be reasonably competitive in WoT?
  2. Is it possible for a customer who does not use premium ammo to compete at a high level, e.g. top 5%

I’ll share my insights and tips on improving one’s performance later in this article, but let’s cover these two questions first.

My Stats Without Premium Ammo

As I wrote in an earlier article, the answer to the 1st question is yes. I started playing WoT with no prior knowledge about the game mechanics, and without paying I reached a 51% Win Rate (51WR) in my first 856 battles, which is above the average of 49WR for NA and in the top 20% of players according to wot-news.com.

Taugrim's stats for first 856 battles

After those initial 856 battles, I decided to buy gold to pay for a premium subscription to reduce the grind and to pay for other things.

In my experience, the answer to the 2nd question is also yes. I’ve reached a 56WR over my first 3k battles up through tier 9 tanks, without using premium ammo. I don’t use premium ammo for reasons documented later in this article.

Taugrim's Stats at 3000 Battles

Many players believe that you can’t compete meaningfully without using at least some premium ammo. My guildee Sinsun (his stats on Noobmeter) had played over 4000 battles before I started playing WoT, and he told me that without using premium ammo I would struggle to penetrate consistently and be at an unmanageable disadvantage relative to other players who’re using it.

I reached 54WR by 1300 battles through tier 5-6 without premium ammo in Patch 8.5, during a time when there were many tankers slinging premium HEAT ammo to 1-shot foes. Sinsun insisted that premium ammo would be needed in tier 10 battles, which is max level. Based on my understanding of WoT’s game mechanics through tier 5, my gut was that I’d be fine without premium ammo at max level, but I thought it wise to experience tier 10 battles firsthand before stating so publicly.

As a side note, I’ve run into this scenario across many MMORPGs, where I hold a viewpoint that something is viable or functional in PVP that goes contrary to popular opinion. Here’s how this typically unfolds:

  1. I start playing a class that I believe has viable spec(s) but that others with more playtime with that class regard as underpowered
  2. I enjoy early success in PVP, especially in lower-level bracketed PVP, and post narrated gameplay videos and guides as I’m leveling up
  3. Skeptics respond with “you may be doing good now but wait til you reach max level”
  4. I reach max level, and once I get a functional set of PVP gear, I proceed to kick ass just as I was doing while leveling

I don’t blog or write my guides to prove others wrong. I do those things because I love sharing knowledge and addressing inaccurate perceptions, it’s rewarding to me to hear from gamers that I’ve helped them raise their gameplay, and I learn from them in the process.

The most objective way to measure performance in WoT is by looking at player statistics. Players have stats that reflect their performance, especially when you have a sample size of thousands of battles for a given player. Good players tend to have WRs north of 50%, because they are the common denominator in all of their battles, and they influence outcomes accordingly. Of the various WoT ratings systems, I believe WN7 currently offers the best framework for measuring skillful play based on stats.

Like any new/noob player, my overall stats are bogged down by my early games when I was clueless and not contributing much.

Here are my overall stats per Noobmeter, and for my last 183 battles in parentheses:

  • Win Rate: 55.50% (59.56%)
  • WN7 Rating: 1366 (1681)
  • Avg base capture: 2.73 (2.64)
  • Avg base defense: 1.02 (1.21)
  • Avg kills: 1.17 (1.33)
  • Kills-to-deaths: 1.89 (2.39)

Noobmeter Charts at 3K Battles

The graphs for WN7 Rating, average damage, and average experience have scaled linearly over time. My WR has increased but at an uneven rate. There have been several times when my WR climbs, then plateaus, then climbs again. This is easily explained: whenever I unlock new tiers and tanks, I have to ramp up on the capabilities and limitations of my new tanks and also those of opposing tanks, in particular their weak spots. During that learning period my WR drops, and then it picks up again.

Noobmeter graphs for Taugrim at 3k Battles

Stats in isolation are hard to gauge, but wot-news.com has an awesome tool that shows relative performance against other players with their “Advanced players statistics” menu option for each server. Here’s how I stack up against the NA playerbase:

  • Win Rate: top 2%
  • Avg kills: top 6%
  • Avg spotted: bottom 30%
  • Avg base capture: top 4%
  • Avg base defense: top 17%

My average tier (5.4) is right in the middle of the NA community’s average, and my average damage (772) ranks in the top 15%. Keep in mind that I play mostly heavy and medium tanks, and that influences my stats accordingly.

As with any WoT player, it’s a reasonable expectation that my stats will improve over time, as I master my tanks, learn about the other tanks for a given tier and how to penetrate them, level up my crews, etc.

I have a 3rd question that is related to my 2nd question: is it possible to consistently play at a Unicum level without premium ammo? Over the last week my WN7 Rating was 1681, which is close to the Unicum cutoff of 1700. I suspect once I acquire Tier 10 tanks and are therefore always the top tier in battles with them, my stats will increase.

My Tips for Improving One’s Gameplay

I’m still learning a lot in WoT, but I’ll share with you what I’ve gleaned thus far:

  1. Master the two mechanics that influence penetration: angling and weak spots. I’ve provided links to my narrated guides for those topics. Even if you play tanks where angling won’t help meaningfully, it’s important to understand how angling by your opponent affects your ability to penetrate and vice versa. These are the most fundamental mechanics of the game, and a lot of players don’t really understand or apply them consistently. Keep in mind premium ammo isn’t the silver bullet (no pun intended) solution here, because you still have to deal with incoming fire and your premium ammo doesn’t directly help
  2. Consistently take advantage of cover when moving and when stationary. Leverage physical cover (buildings, rocks, hills, etc) and camouflage cover (bushes, trees, etc). Tanks tend to get ripped apart when they have neither physical cover nor camouflage cover, e.g. the idiot tank exposed on top of a hill. Don’t be that guy. Common excuse is “I got tracked” but the point is you were in a bad spot in the first place
  3. Do not expose yourself to multiple lines of fire or enemy tanks. This one is terribly painful to experience or witness. Be wary of chasing that squishy light or wounded tank around a corner if it will put you at risk of eating shells from multiple enemy tanks. Try not to get caught in a position where you are taking fire from multiple angles. The hard thing is you only learn on some maps by trial-and-error whether or not you can reach a certain point before you’ll take incoming fire
  4. Understand your positioning relative to your allies. This is particularly important when running a peek-a-boo line – you should try to be parallel to friendlies but angled toward your opponent. Don’t block another player trying to back up, or better yet, anticipate the potential for blockage and proactively maneuver accordingly
  5. Keep an eye on the mini-map to read how the battle is going. Many battles are lost when players get tunnel vision and are unaware of other key things unfolding. Did a light tank make it past the front line and is now approaching our arty? Did we get flanked?
  6. Know your tank. Read the WoT Wiki to understand your tank’s strengths and weaknesses. Does your tank function best when hull-down, when sidescraping, etc.
  7. Acquire the best affordable crew for any tank that you plan to play for a while. Gold crews (100% training) allow you to start training skills immediately. Crews under 100% training are worse at everything they do: spotting, aiming, re-loading, driving, and signaling. You can jumpstart a new tank by retraining a veteran crew from another tank to your new one. Note that WG incentivizes players to use gold here
  8. Get Sixth Sense for every Commander once your 1st skill reaches 100%. This is the most helpful skill/perk in the game, because it lets you know when they can see you, regardless whether you can see them
  9. Understand what the bare minimum upgrades needed for a tank to be viable, and plan accordingly. This is particularly true for guns, as some stock guns are completely ineffective at the tank’s tier. I have leveraged Free XP, or converted tank-specific XP to Free XP, to unlock the base minimum upgrades. This is another notable area where WG incentivizes players to spend gold
  10. Buy all 3 mechanically-relevant equipment modules for any tank you plan to play for a while. For medium and heavy tanks, I generally recommend the Gun Rammer, either the Vertical Stabilizer or Enhanced Gun Laying Drive, and Improved Ventilation. For TDs, the mounted equipment depends on whether you have a turreted or non-turreted tank: the former can make good use of Camouflage Net and Binocular Telescope but the latter won’t get as much value from them, so choose accordingly
  11. Always carry all 3 consumables (repair kit, first aid kit, fire extinguisher). The 3k credits for each is well worth it for managing a bad situation

The Issues With Premium Ammo

Welvo posted an articulate take on Reddit on why premium ammo (aka gold ammo) is problematic.

I have lost faith in the players of this game and their ability to do critical thinking. Gold rounds are game breaking. End of story.

If you can’t pen a tank from the front, then so be it. Obviously by design not all tanks are made equal. They all have their advantages and disadvantages and a GOOD player will learn how to optimize them. The type of game you all want seems to be one where all tanks are equal in stats, they just all just look different.

Lets just be very clear, gold rounds are simply an “easy” mode for this game. The tanks have been balanced a very certain way (absent of gold rounds) and gold rounds trump that balancing. I don’t understand how the vast majority of players don’t understand something so basic.

I agree with Welvo.

Here are the reasons why I do not use premium ammo:

  1. I do not want to contribute to a mechanic that I believe detracts from the quality of gameplay, especially in public matches a.k.a. Random Battles where some players don’t use it
  2. It can become a crutch, instead of forcing the player to learn where to aim for specific tanks (i.e. weak spots), or put themselves in a position where they can hit those weak spots
  3. The game is much more rewarding when you kick ass without premium ammo. I witnessed a reader of this blog, FrankyMcShanky (his stats on Noobmeter), solo the last 5 tanks of my team with his M4 Sherman and finish with 11 kills. It was nuts and an incredible solo effort, but Franky commented that his 1st Kolobanov’s medal was tainted by premium ammo
  4. The game would probably not be challenging for me if I used premium ammo. I’d rather beat players who are “better geared” than faceroll opponents who are at a gear disadvantage
  5. It’s not reasonably affordable with credits for players who are still actively grinding new tanks and tiers, even with premium subscription

About that last point, some players defend premium ammo because it is now purchasable with credits, whereas it used to be only acquirable with gold. But here’s the rub. Premium shells are very expensive, e.g. 4800+ credits per shell for Tier 6 and up. A player who is still actively grinding up tank lines and tiers will continually be in a situation where they have unlocked upper-tier tanks but lack the credits to afford purchasing the tanks, upgrades, and equipment – let alone premium ammo. It’s not clear to me whether the high cost of premium ammo would be sufficiently offset by the higher WR gained by using it.

Many players who use this “premium ammo is affordable” argument already have a surplus of credits from many thousands of battles and/or they have premium tanks which they use for farming credits. If they are in the latter situation, they’re funding their premium ammo with their premium tank(s), which were purchased with gold, so they’re indirectly paying-to-win.

The only context where I think premium ammo is an acceptable mechanic is Clan Wars given that serious clans will field tanks with premium ammo, so it’s the norm there.

Screenshots for tier 6+ Ace Tanker mastery badges

A skeptic who is unfamiliar with my blog may wonder “how do we know Taugrim has never used (let alone purchased) premium ammo like he claims?”

I have two proof points to share.

  1. My narrated gameplay videos on YouTube
  2. Screenshots of my Ace Tanker mastery badges for my tier 6-9 tanks. With these screenshots you can easily determine that I was using normal ammo based on the costs of resupply (except for the KV-3 since it was only my 3rd game and I forgot to check the resupply option).

Tier 6 KV-1S Ace Tanker Screenshots

KV-1S Ace Tanker Mastery Badge

KV-1S Ace Tanker Mastery Badge

Tier 6 T-150 Ace Tanker Screenshots

T-150 Ace Tanker screenshot

T-150 Ace Tanker screenshot

Tier 6 VK36.01 (H) Ace Tanker Screenshots

VK36.01 (H) Ace Tanker screenshots

VK36.01 (H) Ace Tanker screenshots

Tier 7 KV-3 Ace Tanker Screenshots

KV-3 Ace Tanker screenshot

KV-3 Ace Tanker screenshot

Tier 9 ST-I Ace Tanker Screenshots

ST-I Ace Tanker screenshot

ST-I Ace Tanker screenshot

Closing Thoughts

I want to end this article by saying I’m not here to judge others using premium ammo. It’s each player’s choice. I wrote this article to refute the widely-held perception that it’s a must-have to compete at a high level.

Certainly, playing without premium ammo can place one at a disadvantage, but the key thing I’ve experienced is that you can still rock without it.

Let me know your thoughts and feedback.

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Posted in Guide, Heavy Tank, Medium Tank, PVP, Tank Destroyer, World of Tanks
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