Changes to artillery in World of Tanks are around the corner. It seems HEAT, AP and APCR rounds will be removed from all artillery, splash ranges and rate of fire increased, and all round damage given a considerable nerf. Add to that the proposed new stun mechanic, a maximum number of arties allowed in a game, and WoT might be moving in the direction many players want.
Wargaming have finally admitted it - arty doesn't lead to "dynamic gameplay" - it leads to staying in hard cover at all costs, working out which parts of the maps aren't accessible to the sky cancer and much rage damage caused to your peripherals when you get hit.
So, 9.18 is to bring the changes - the ones to graphics and matchmaking we've outlined - but the arty rebalance is another significant alteration to the game's mechanics.
First off, looks like we're getting a maximum of three arty per game. Three is still too many for us, two would be better. Also, we hope the new matchmaker isn't set so it will always try and fill those three arty slots. You all know what we mean - the difference in your gameplay when you see zero arty on a open map, for example, is massive, and the game is a great deal more fun.
There's also the noob factor - to keep the game alive you need new players, and many of those new players won't stay long if they are repeatedly crushed into oblivion by the inexplicable Hand of God that arty too often is for the inexperienced. And the experienced.
We're also going see an an increased rate of fire in 9.18, and a considerable reduction in aim time. Bad news? Well maybe, but bear in mind that damage reduction and reduced penetration from HE shells - and the removal of AP, APCR and HEAT rounds. If you've ever had an Object 261 100% you with such an AP round, then you'll know what we mean by "change for the good". So, as it stands, even a direct hit from the dreaded T92 will do "only" around 1,300HP of damage.
One effect of faster reloads and aim time will be that arty players will be able to more quickly change the map area they are firing upon. If you've ever played the FV304, you know how its ability to switch its support is incredible - except now all arties will be able to do that some extent - and from the back of the map.
We're less certain of the plans for increased splash damage radius - an increase of 50% in such radius has been mentioned. That might just reward bad shots, or simply impatient arty players, and if it leads to your tank getting tracked and stranded in a position where the enemy team can smash you - we can see how that might lead straight back to the kind of cautious play this rebalance is supposed to lessen. Or against the bigger guns, a miss with such a massive radius can still kill a tank on low HP. Which will lead to rage.
Then there's the new artillery Stun effect, meaning a shot can incapacitate your crew for a given period of time, making your tank 30% less effective in all stats for a period of up to 30 seconds, depending on tier. The resuable consumables that we expect to see coming in 9.18 are an interesting factor here too - operating on a timer, such as seen in World of Worships, a Spall Liner reduces the Stun effect by 10%, while a First Aid Kit reduces it by 5%.
With all these changes, the effect that Wargaming is hoping for is that they will make arty units much more "part of the team" - a proper support class, as opposed to a random Orbital Punishment System. Yet, good artillery players already know how to maximise the support they give to their team. Whether this changes the behaviour of other players remains to be seen
In short, we're not 100% certain that this artillery rebalance will work, however, it does show Wargaming are willing to be radical in their thinking, even if that thinking takes several years to crystallise, and is still partly flawed.