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World of Tanks: MaxL_1023′s Strategy Series
Dark Green Level Tactic Guide #4: Module Targeting
The strategy series intends to help tankers build a comprehensive mechanical, tactical and strategic background. As opposed to a few large articles the focus will be on a series of smaller guides covering individual aspects of gameplay. Divided into three primary levels, the series articles will be tailored to players of varying skill to allow a smooth progression into the upper echelons of player ability. This is a dark green level guide representing material which is slightly more complex but is still within the realm of intermediate play. This level is intended for newer or intermediate players who are steadily progressing through the general set of green level material and have integrated most of the more basic skills into their play. This level is also suited for “Dark Green” players looking to begin a push towards Blue Level or “Light Blue” players who are weak in the area covered. The subjects of this tactics guide is Module Targeting.
Introduction and Background
Thanks to incredible advances in game development, processing power and internet infrastructure (few of which WG uses) WoT incorporates the ability to deal damage in ways other than simply removing HP. If you have made it this far into the strategy series, you (hopefully) know that to destroy a tank you need to reduce its HP to 0. You have also noticed that when taking fire, your vehicle often loses various aspects of performance. Your gun might be disabled, you might not be able to move, or your turret may stop turning. These are serious disabilities which substantially reduce your ability to fight. However, the correlation between these effects and HP loss may seem unclear. Sometimes, you are immobilized without taking damage, other times your turret randomly flies off. At this point, you understand why being able to inflict this kind of “status effect” would help you in game – a disabled tank is much easier to kill, and is less likely to shoot back effectively. The issue (which plagues players of many skill levels) is how to go about doing it.
This guide will explain the underlying principles of “status effects” and explain what causes them, how to inflict any particular one of them and also explain why half of this process is completely random. Don’t be alarmed though – the most vital hits are also the easiest to inflict. However, before diving into the endless sea of somewhat-sketchy WG programming and balance decisions I will demonstrate how inflicting these disabling effects contributes to teamplay, personal performance and increases the probability of a win. This is your incentive to learn all about “status effects” and how to inflict them – they help you win games, deal more damage and often allow you to contribute in situations where it may otherwise seem hopeless. As you are likely moving through the middle tiers in at least one tank line you will run into these situations often. In these cases, the best you can do is “assisted damage” – damage inflicted by your teammates to a tank you have spotted and/or immobilized.
How to deal “Assisted Damage” and why it is Important
Starting somewhere in the Devonian period (Patch 8.X) WoT introduced “Assisted Damage” as a recorded metric. Assisted damage refers to damage dealt to an enemy tank which you played a part in inflicting but did not deal directly. The original form of this metric was “spotting damage” – damage dealt to an enemy tank you are spotting by a tank which otherwise would not see it. This is an important metric and is worth studying. However, for now I will focus on the more recently implemented aspect of assisted damage which more directly applies to the aforementioned “status effects.” This is “Damage Assisted by Tracking” – damage dealt to an enemy tank which you immobilized by destroying their tracks. When MM decides to mess with your mind, dealing this form of damage is often the most significant contribution you can make to your team’s local success.
Tanks in WoT have tracks implemented as an individual module. While I have yet to explain the module system, suffice to say that a hit to a tanks tracks will reliably inflict the “status effect” of being unable to move or turn until the tracks are repaired. The tank can still aim and shoot, so it can still be dangerous to you or your team. However, a de-tracked tank is vulnerable to enemy movement in ways which often drastically reduce its survivability. Assume you are in a Jagdpanzer IV, somewhat behind a largeish blob of both team’s tier 7 and 8 heavies. You are double bushed (in this case Brazilian style is far from optimal) and can therefore fire without expecting to be attacked. The issue is that your recently learned target selection process has you stuck in an infinite loop. Due to enemy positioning and your rather anemic pen (even your APCR has trouble) you can’t even pen enemy weakspots. Say all you can shoot is an IS-3 – even with your 171 APCR pen you are basically shooting a nerf gun. You are not going to deal HP damage. However, you have a high rate of fire and decent damage per shot. In desperation, you aim for the tracks.
You de-track the IS-3. With your fast reload you are fully capable of maintaining this condition – even if the IS-3 uses a repair kit you can often re-track it before it can retreat. Now lets analyze what this condition does to the IS-3. Being immobile, it is incapable of retreating into cover while reloading. Therefore, your team can damage it with impunity after it fires a shell. Your damaged teammates can also retreat to a better position without worrying about pursuit. The IS-3’s armor is also highly susceptible to the angle of attack – a hit from as little as 10 degrees off the pike nose allows 175 penetration guns to get through where they would normally fail. The IS-3 can’t turn, so your teammates can move to a better attack angle. In summary, this IS-3 is now dependent on his team to bail him out. Your team has the initiative and a major tactical advantage. Inaccurate tanks and artillery can hit a stationary target much more reliably. Essentially, you inflict “assisted damage” by changing the conditions of the engagement. You make an enemy tank (or more than one if you can track multiple enemies) much more vulnerable to your team. You act as a force multiplier. As you can see, inflicting a “status effect” is a way to help your team win without requiring direct damage dealing. Now that you are convinced of the utility of dealing this type of damage, it is time for me to explain the fundamentals of Module Targeting, and how this is the cause of “status effects.”
Modular Module Overview
World of Tanks for obvious reasons does not exactly model the internal components of vehicles. This level of realism would make the game essentially unplayable without massively changing every mechanic currently implemented. However, WoT also does not simply model tanks as passive HP containers which remain fully functional until killed. The implementation of vehicle modules in WoT is essentially a simplification of actual vehicle design. Instead of hundreds of individual components, vehicles are modeled as a HP container with various internal and external components superimposed – sort of like the ice cubes in the glass of whiskey you need to drink after running into a sub-45% player. At the most basic level, the modules are ice cubes and fruit garnishes – damaging them may not destroy the entire setup but it has a detrimental effect on performance.
Viewing the simplified diagram above it is obvious that a tank has many components as well as crew. WoT represents this as a collection of “black box” modules with each one representing a functional component group. Crew members such as the commander, gunner, driver, loader and radio operator are implemented with as much historical accuracy as possible, modeled as hitboxes in the appropriate internal location. Individual external modules include the tracks, gun and vision ports. The engine, fuel tank, ammunition rack, turret ring, part of the gun and sometimes the transmission are also implemented as hitboxes. These are modeled in such a way that a hit anywhere within the hitbox will inflict the same average module damage. Each of these modules has its own HP pool – a shell impacting will deal damaged based on the “module damage” value of the shell. If the module HP reaches roughly 50% it is “damaged.” If it drops to zero, it is destroyed. A damaged or destroyed module will be repaired by the crew at a skill, tank and module-dependent rate to 75% of it’s full HP, retaining the “damaged” status. A repair kit will repair the module to full HP and normal condition.
Damaging a module is not entirely based on shell impact. There is also a “saving throw” implemented for internal modules. Essentially a shell hitting an internal module will result in a randomly selected probabilistic decision. For example, a hit to the ammo rack ends up with a 27% chance of having the shell damage the ammunition rack. The other 73% of the time, the module “saves” the shot and the damage is only applied to the vehicle. This prevents nearly every penetrating hit from dealing module and crew damage, especially since a shell can often penetrate several modules if the path was modeled realistically. Instead, an internal module (but not a crew member) will stop a shell if it takes damage, and there is only a set chance of any impacting shell actually damaging the module. Therefore, it is not reliable to aim for internal modules. Statistically it will improve the effectiveness of your shells, but it is not a sure thing. External modules do not have these saving throws – if you hit one directly it will take damage. Some modules are implemented as multiple boxes – besides the size and location the effect of destroying either is identical. They have the same saving throw percentage and the same properties when hit. Therefore, the most important aspect of module targeting is simply knowing where the modules usually are, and how to go about damaging them. In this case there is a significant difference between internal and external modules, therefore I will explain how to target them separately. The simplest modules to target are the external modules.
Inflicting Module Damage – External Modules
I define an external module as one which can be damaged or destroyed without inflicting HP damage to the tank. Essentially, at least part of the module hitbox must extend outside the “HP container” and therefore likely on the outer surface of the hull itself. I will state that you can often still damage the tank through an external module. However, hitting the module first will (except for a shot through some parts of the tracks) generally result in the shell not entering the main body of the vehicle. The advantage to targeting external modules is the lack of a high penetration requirement – most external modules are implemented with thin “spaced armor” on the module hitbox which is easily penetrated by most shells. They can also be directly hit by HE shells or even damaged by splash. Therefore, these modules are the easiest to damage and destroy. In a rough order of how obvious they are it is time to review the external modules of a vehicle.
The tracks are by far the most obvious external module, spanning the majority of the length of any vehicle along both sides of the hull. These are modeled as roughly rectangular boxes of spaced armor, generally ranging from 10mm to 40mm thick. In all cases, there is no effective difference between the left and right track model. Dealing track damage simply requires a shell (or HE splash) to intersect with a part of these boxes. The tracks have a HP value which generally ranges from 200 to 300 HP for high tier vehicles. Therefore guns from 88mm to 105mm caliber may have trouble on a low roll, but 120mm+ will almost always destroy the track. Lower tier vehicles have less track health.
The track module is fairly unique in the sense that it actually has a damage modifier across portions of the hitbox. As seen above, hits near the front and rear roadwheels do full track damage. However, hits near the center of the track (as seen from the side) only deal 1/3rd of the total damage. This makes vehicles more difficult to track and requires you to aim for the edges to ensure track destruction. Additionally, from the side the track module overlaps with part of the side hull. Above the hull bottom but below the track edge it is therefore possible to both destroy the track and inflict hull damage. The impacting shell has to overcome both the track armor and the side armor – low penetration shells or HE will not be able to penetrate both layers of armor. However, HE will detonate on the track and do reduced damage from this area. However, HEAT will almost always fail – it rapidly loses penetration passing through the track and will almost always die out before reaching the underlying hull. Large caliber, high penetration HEAT such as that from tier 10 guns may penetrate tanks with narrow tracks and thin side armor, but tanks such as the Maus and E-100 will usually stop HEAT passing through the tracks.
Overall, you want to aim near the front or rear roadwheel. In this situation you nearly always destroy the track and can usually penetrate to do hull damage. It is also possible to damage an internal module – the “one module” rule only applies to non-crew internal modules, not external. Detrack a tank trying to round a corner and you can often kill it without taking any return fire and also give your team clear shots. Detracking a moving vehicle also forces it to turn in the direction of the damaged track – hitting a fast moving vehicle often results in it spinning completely sideways leaving it at the mercy of teammate’s guns. The tracks are therefore the primary module target in WoT – detracking a tank contributes to assisted damage, overall team effectiveness and drastically limits what the damaged vehicle can do. If you can’t penetrate the front or can see any location where you can both damage and detrack the enemy, make it your primary target – you will be rewarded for your skill.
On most tanks you might notice a long, thin cylindrical projection based somewhere on the front turret. It may also be mounted directly on the front hull or within a casemate structure. This is the gun (no shit right?) and it is the second easily identifiable external module. The gun in WoT is modeled as an object existing both inside and outside the tank. The external piece is by far the easiest to hit. It is generally a piece of spaced armor roughly matching the visual gun model. However it is somewhat simplified for non-HD vehicle models. This has little effect on gameplay but a very rare shot may perform oddly due to this discrepancy. Like the tracks, the gun has a HP pool which varies from vehicle to vehicle. Most high tier vehicles have about 200-250 gun HP. This means that a 90mm shell is required to have a good chance of destroying the module, however lower caliber guns or HE can still cause the “damaged” condition.
Inflicting enough damage to the gun will result in the “damaged” state. This massively decreases accuracy. It has less of an effect on aim time (likely none at all) but even fully zoomed it will be difficult to reliably hit an opponent at all but point-blank range. Note that a gunner skill called “Armorer” reduces the accuracy penalty of this condition significantly (by about 50%) making it a good choice for a second or third skill. If the damage dealt to the gun exceeds the module HP, the gun is destroyed. The vehicle is unable to fire until the gun is repaired. The crew will eventually repair the gun to the “damaged” state – a repair kit can restore it fully.
The most reliable way to damage the gun is to use a HE shell. An AP shell must directly hit the gun model to inflict damage – this is difficult to accomplish. The gun barrel is hard to hit and shots near the base will often be absorbed by the heavy armor around the mantlet. It is doable but not recommended. A HE shell does not need to hit directly – it can hit the gun base or on most areas of the mantlet and catch the gun within the explosion radius. This is most reliable with larger caliber (think 120mm+) HE shells and on tanks with fairly flat mantlets. In this case, you will often do slight HP damage. However, the thick turret front armor (on most tanks) will block most of the damage. This is an additional reason for using HE for gun damage – an AP shell will rarely penetrate the gun area for HP damage unless the tank is soft enough to allow you to penetrate elsewhere. Overall, gun shots are more difficult to make and generally less reliable than track shots. However, the loss of firepower the enemy tank suffers makes these shots well worth it, especially against tanks with heavy turret armor who are hull down. Many a T29 driver laments losing their gun to a HE shell.
The last external module is the collection of vision ports and periscopes often seen studding the upper edge of the front hull. I am not even going to go into detail here – they are too small, have little effect (a reduction in view range which is fully repaired after ~10 seconds) and are extremely difficult to hit. They also tend to be positioned in such a way to make penetrating hits nearly impossible – the shell will rarely even encounter the main body of the tank. The one exception is the VK 4502B. There is a conical viewport in front of the commander’s hatch on the turret roof. Shooting here will generally result in HP damage especially if the gun is above 90mm in caliber. More obvious targets such as the “ears” on the T29 are not part of the hull and do not allow HP damage. The E-100s rangefinder bar and E-75s dual rangefinder projections can result in HP damage as well, but they are extremely difficult shots that are generally not worth attempting unless you are extremely confident in your aim. In general I would recommend track or gun shots before aiming for any other external module. The “status effects” are more significant and the shot easier to accomplish.
Inflicting Module Damage – Internal Modules
Internal modules are contained within the main body of the tank. Unlike external modules an AP shell needs to penetrate the surface armor before dealing module damage. HE shells can damage them without penetrating the armor, however they usually inflict less damage due to the majority being absorbed. I am considering crew members to be internal modules – except for a few open-topped TDs the crew are represented by hitboxes entirely within the tank. Internal modules are generally difficult to reliably target – their location varies for each vehicle and generally can’t be determined in battle. However, enough general rules exist to justify studying this area – being able to target engines, ammo racks or gunners especially has a debilitating effect on the enemy tank. I will therefore explain each internal module, where it usually is and what happens when you damage or destroy it. First up: Crew.
The Commander is common to every vehicle in the game. He is almost always located directly under the commander’s cupola. From the front this will appear to be behind the turret face. As it is usually difficult to penetrate the front turret of a vehicle the cupola is your best bet. For tanks with two turret cupolas the second one is usually the gunner, so just pick the easiest one to hit. Usually, the larger cupola houses the commander. Wounding or Killing the Commander has the same effect – the victim loses the majority (~50%) of their view range, loses all relevant skills and perks (including 6th sense until they move it to the radio operator) and also loses the 10% commander bonus to the rest of their crew. Therefore, a tank without a commander is blind, debilitated and won’t know when it is spotted. Therefore, if you have the shot it is generally worth it to try for the commander. Note that the commander has a ~55% chance to make a saving throw resulting in pure HP damage. Only target the commander if you are sure you will hit and penetrate with your shot. Otherwise, try something else.
The Gunner is common to almost all vehicles – a few have the role merged with another crew member. Either way, the role exists and can be eliminated by well-aimed fire. On most vehicles, the Gunner is located behind the front turret to one side of the gun. If the turret has a commander’s cupola, the gunner is almost always on the opposite side. For tanks with two cupolas, the gunner is generally under the smaller of the two. Wounding or killing the Gunner massively reduces the accuracy and increases the aim time of the enemy tank – it is worse than having a damaged gun and makes it essentially impossible hit an enemy tank at all but facehug range. As with the Commander, killing the Gunner results in the loss of all attached skills and perks. Losing the Gunner is by far the worst crew death – it essentially makes your gun useless. Therefore, the majority of players will use a medkit on their Gunner before even the Commander. Like the Commander, the Gunner has a chance to save the damaged inflicted. Therefore, only try to hit the gunner if you are nearly sure of his location and expect to both hit and penetrate. Otherwise it is better to just shoot where you are most likely to deal HP damage.
The Driver is generally located behind the upper front plate. It is difficult to figure out where exactly the Driver is located. Generally, the Driver is positioned directly behind any slit or hatch in the upper hull, and is underneath any periscope or viewport along the upper edge of the glacis. If there are two viewports then it is basically a dice roll. The driver is usually behind the larger of the viewports (or the one with the hatch) if a discernible difference exists. Wounding or killing the driver results in a decrease in hull traverse and effective engine power. Essentially, the enemy tank will move significantly slower in all directions and on any terrain. A Driver kill is therefore most valuable when the victim is a medium or light tank – heavies are not effected to the same degree as they do not rely on mobility to the same extent. However, I do not recommend targeting the driver unless he is behind a weakspot. Otherwise, you end up trying to penetrate the upper hull. As this is often one of the strongest areas of a vehicle, you are more likely to fail to penetrate. Unless it is a KV or IS series tank a driver shot is not recommended. There is usually a better spot to shoot.
The Radio Operator
Don’t even bother. Unless the enemy tank is separated by several hundred meters from the nearest ally killing the Radio Operator will have no effect. If the separation exists the enemy is usually dead anyways. The humorous exception is “R2D2″ on the KV-5 – this is the Radioman’s cupola and happens to be a major frontal weakspot. If you are aiming for the radio operator then you probably have better things to do.
The Loader is almost always positioned directly behind the gunner. Wounding or Killing the loader will double the reload time (halving the rate of fire) of the effected vehicle. This is a significant effect, however the gun handling and mobility of the enemy tank are unaffected. Therefore, use of cover can partially negate the loss of DPM. I do not recommend trying for the loader – in most cases when a reliable shot exists you are better off aiming for the roadwheel, engine or ammo rack.
Overall, only the Commander and Gunner are usually worth shooting and only then through their particular cupola weakspot. I do not recommend trying for crew damage unless you are very confident in your shell and aim. You are better off trying for a more reliable shot – one where a fewer random dice roles are involved. Internal modules all have that additional saving throw which often negates your aim and prevents module damage. However, there are still internal components which are worth aiming for due to the potential side effects. I will therefore review the rest of the internal modules.
The Turret Ring
The turret ring is located at the base of the turret. It is visible on the surface on some tanks (Generally American Tanks) but is usually hidden underneath the hull. Damaging the turret ring will half the turret rotation speed – destroying it will stop the turret entirely. This basically makes it impossible for the enemy to aim unless they can turn their hull with the required degree of precision. I do not recommend aiming here unless you are trying for a shot-trap style shot – usually the turret ring is about as hard as the front turret or requires penetration of the turret itself. Therefore, it is too difficult a shot for most situations.
The Fuel Tank
The fuel tanks are usually located to either side of the engine and often forward underneath the side hull. They are most easily hit by shots slightly above the tracks behind the turret. Damaging the fuel tank has no direct effect on vehicle performance, however it drastically increases the chance of an engine hit starting a fire. Destroying the fuel tank immediately sets the enemy tank on fire regardless of the engine status. A fire inflicts HP and Module damage at a rate dependent on the affected vehicle type. Fires continue to burn for a variable time dependent on the vehicle, the crew’s firefighting skill, the use of an extinguisher as well as random chance. I do highly recommend aiming for the fuel tanks when the shot is available – as they are usually located behind the side hull you are likely to penetrate. As well, a shot which misses the fuel tank often has a good chance of hitting the engine or ammo rack. Russian Mediums are most vulnerable to this – their fuel tanks can be hit through the front hull as well as the sides. When the enemy does not carry a fire extinguisher a successful fuel tank hit often results in two or three times standard shell damage after the fire is finally put out.
The engine is located at the back of most tanks (if the turret is rear mounted it is in the middle). It is most easily hit by shooting the center of the rear hull or the back third of the side hull roughly level with the top of the tracks. Damaging the engine halves the available horsepower, basically making the tank move at half speed. Destroying the engine immobilizes the tank in the same manner as detracking. Engine damage takes considerably longer for the crew to repair, therefore a shot here can immobilize a tank for up to 30 seconds. As well, every engine hit has a chance (dependent on the engine) to set the tank on fire in the same manner as fuel tank damage. This is usually between 10 and 20%, making engine fires uncommon but not rare. I recommend targeting the engine whenever you see the rear of the tank – basically aim here as opposed to the turret rear. The fire chance and mobility loss makes it well worth it. Transmission hits are identical to engine hits except they do not cause fires. This is a feature of some German Tanks (E-75 and E-100 mainly). The transmission is usually behind the lower front hull and is a harder shot than the engine. However, it is still worth trying for as the lower plate is usually also a weakspot. If you can though, the engine itself is a better target.
The Ammunition Rack
The ammunition rack is the most difficult module to damage – it has a 73% chance of negating any hit. However, when you do hit this area the results are spectacular. Damaging the ammunition rack doubles the enemy’s reload time. If you manage to completely destroy the ammunition rack this happens:
Destroying the ammunition rack immediately destroys the vehicle regardless of HP, crew skill or vehicle type. Therefore, if possible you really want to aim there. The ammunition rack is most often behind the front half of the side hull on Russian/Chinese tanks and the center of the side hull on other vehicles. Some vehicles also store ammunition in the turret – most often the rear half. I will note that it is difficult to completely destroy an ammunition rack unless it is already damaged – usually it has too much HP for all but large caliber shells. As a general rule a 750 damage shell can ammo-rack a tier 10 tank, a 490 damage shell a tier 8 tank and a 390 damage shell a tier 6 tank. If you have a small caliber gun it will take multiple shots and is therefore unlikely that you will completely destroy the enemy by detonation. However, the reload effect along makes targeting this area worth the aim time. I would prioritize an ammo rack shot over any other internal module – if you have it take it.
Summary and Conclusion
There will always be situations where pure HP damage is simply not possible or sufficient. Module Targeting allows you to debilitate an enemy tank without needing to penetrate thick armor, or for you to disable an enemy tank with a single well placed shell. It is vital that you get all you can out of your shells. An ammo rack explosion, well timed detrack or a fuel tank fire can on its own change the course of the battle. Even if you can’t inflict the damage yourself by reducing the enemy’s capability to fight you are helping your team to win.
- If you are unable to penetrate an enemy tank target external modules.
- Damaging external modules inflicts negative effects on the enemy vehicle which your team can then exploit.
- If at all possible, inflict HP damage through the tracks to both damage and immobilize the enemy.
- Internal modules are more difficult to hit with random chance playing a large role.
- Targeting Crew is only viable if they are positioned under a weakspot.
- Shoot the Fuel Tank, Engine or Ammo Rack whenever you can.
In conclusion, Module Targeting can be applied in both an additive and multiplicative fashion to increase your effect on the battle. Practice being able to both detrack and damage enemy tanks. Use common sense to figure out where engines, fuel tanks and ammunition storage is likely to be located – is it not practical to memorize everything. Implementing Module Targeting sets you on the path to higher level play. You are no longer merely trying to deal HP damage to the enemy – you are seeking to destroy his ability to fight in any way possible. The Target Selection guide teaches you how to pick which tank you shoot. The Weakspots guide helps you damage that tank when it is heavily armored. Now, you can select which weakspots are most likely to involve dealing additional damage, debilitating status effects or can try for specific effects on lightly armored enemies. You are now a greater threat on the battlefield regardless of your tier. If you internalize what you have read you will be well on your way to dominating games.
Coming up Next…
Not sure what shell type to use? My next guide will cover Ammunition Selection. What to carry, when to switch and what to shoot in various situations – you will deal more consistent damage and get more out of your gun. I am also working on the first of the Blue Level guides – Sidescraping. Until next time…
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