WoT: The Chinese are nerfing the artillery in 8.3

Well, not quite. However, the 8.3 update (1st public test patch notes) has simply two major features – the initial Chinese tech tree, and an across-the-board artillery nerf.

There is no extra information as to what changes have been made to the Chinese tanks since their last outing on the test server. Along with the tanks we will get an extra free garage slot with the Tier I vehicle. I am not particularly exciting by the prospect of Chinese tanks. I may just advance in the low tiers, but I do not expect to devote much time to Chinese tanks at all. Mostly they will just be targets.

The artillery changes are unexpected. There are in fact two changes to arty, one of which has already been implemented on the Russian server and is going to hit the EU server tomorrow. This is essentially a cap on the number of artillery in a given match. The update says this set to 5 per side, but in Silentstalker’s thread on the EU forum it appears there is going to be some sort of rolling cap (some matches having a cap of 2, others 3, others 4, and others 5). This is not a problem at the lower or mid tier matches particularly, but apparently at higher tiers (especially Tier X matches) one can get truly massive arty parties (7+ SPG per side). In my Tier VIII tanks I have never seen anything like that - but I will say the average number of arty does seem to increase with tier. From a few things I have read on the forums I get the feeling the situation has worsened since the change to matchmaking was introduced in the 7.5 update. I think by reducing the number of battle tiers it has had the side effect of concentrating high-tier SPGs into fewer possible match-ups. Also SPGs only go up to Tier VIII (with Tier VIII SPGs acknowledged to be roughly the equivalent of Tier X vehicles of other types). Apparently at some point the SPG lines will be stretched out to make them resemble the other lines more closely, and hopefully this will also relieve some of the top-tier pressure.

However, all that is not strictly speaking part of the 8.3 update. Instead in 8.3 what appears to be going on is an across-the-board artillery nerf and rebalance.The most obvious element of the nerf is what appears to be a HP nerf to every SPG in the game. SPGs never had all that many hit points to begin with, and how most of them can be expected to be one-shotted by most top-tier opponents.

Beyond that it gets a little more complicated. Many SPGs had their movement performance nerfed, but not all (the SU-26 is one that gets increased manoeuvrability from this update). Some SPGs have had their ability to have any gun depression reduced if not totally eliminated. This means that “TD-mode” – or direct firing – becomes that much tricker if not impossible at close range. Many arty – but again not all – have had their dispersion on the move or by hull movement increased. Basically there is a whole lot of changes – and generally much more negative than positive.

I have (for my sins) read through the (as of writing) 25 page thread on the EU forum, and there is a lot of upset. Frankly, I understand where that comes from, as many SPG players feel that Wargaming our responding to various folk who complain long and loudly about being nailed by artillery, when the problem with the overprofileration of high-Tier SPGs (which many arty players themselves acknowledge) is not directly addressed by these nerfs.

I say not directly addressed but I think part of Wargaming’s logic runs like this: make SPGs harder to play by nerfing them should equate to fewer people playing artillery, which should equate to fewer matches overstuffed with artillery. The “problem” with that view, as I see it, is that artillery are already the least-played form of vehicle in World of Tanks. By making them less likely to be played fewer players are likely to have tried out SPGs themselves, which generally will make them poorer overall players as they will have less knowledge of arty-safe spots on the map (which arty players get to know very well in frustration). The complainers will therefore likely still see SPGs as overpowered because they never learn how best to make the terrain and buildings work to one’s advantage in avoiding or minimising the damage that arty can do.

I also think there is a legitimate concern that by making many SPGs less manoeuvrable it will become far easier to counter-battery. This is only one that will be become plain by testing, but I do not hold much faith in Wargaming to be able to manage this aspect properly.

Overall however it is plain that SPGs have been rebalanced to be generally more vulnerable on the battle-field. The game will change as a result, and I feel it is this and not the Chinese tanks which is the defining characteristic of this update.

It will not stop me playing them, however. Ever since I got my first “Tank tears” with someone accusing me of using gold ammo I have been itching to cause more ire. Still being an effective SPG player post-8.3 seems like an excellent way to do this.

1 comment
  1. Gank said:

    The nerf isn’t a big deal but I do think it’s unnecessary. The cap is what most rational players want, including arty players as 14 arty in a match is no fun for anyone. Realistically I can count the number of times I have survived a scout reaching the back lines on one hand. When I am spotted, or when a fast mover gets to me I expect my game is over. Reducing my hit-points will hardly affect me at all as most times when I am shot (even once) death follows.

    As for counter arty I have been counter killed maybe 5 times since they brought back tracers which was ages ag. It’s just not that common, I prefer to shoot at visible targets as I know I can then get credits for damage. Shooting at invisible tracers is a waste of time imo, unless you are platooned and have one fast shotting arty dedicated to that.

    I think the ‘nerfs’ are a huge mistake. Trying to balance your game by making aspects of it less fun to play is silly. The other, unintended consequence is that you also nerf light tanks. If there are less people having fun playing arty, then light tank drives/spotters will have less fun in matches. I know you can spot for snipers, etc, and don’t have to have arty to do that job but it is more fun. Wargaming has taken a long time to make any changes to the arty mechanic and I think this is the wrong move- the cap is good, but these other nerfs are nothing more than trying to appease the whiners, once again. I don’t know of any relatively decent WoT player who hates arty- they are an integral part of the game and I learned almost 6000 battles ago how to at least try and be arty safe. I never, ever hate on arty…especially when I’m playing it :)

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