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World War II Online is a Massively Multiplayer Online First Person Shooter based in Western Europe between 1939 and 1943. Through land, sea, and air combat using a ultra-realistic game engine, combined with a strategic layer, in the largest game world ever created - We offer the best WWII simulation experience around.

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Why can't I kill that tank?! ---- The damage system explained

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I thought it might help to explain some of the vagaries of the damage system for vehicles to new players.

Some people can find the damage system hard to understand when they first start this game. It's not uncommon to find people demanding to know why that particular Sherman took 5 shots to kill but the other one died after 2.

The first thing you need to know is that the damage system in WWIIOL is not the same as in World of Tanks or other, similar games.

Basically, the game models each vehicle's individual components, armour thickness, angle etc and also models the path, speed and performance of each shell.

So, when you fire a canon at a tank, you do not do a certain number of 'hit points' worth of damage to it. Instead, your shell is tracked as it hits the tank and its speed and angle are taken into account to decide if it has penetrated the armour at that point or not. If it gets it, it can then hit things inside the tank - like the crew, ammunition, the engine etc.

This video is quite old but it gives the basic outline of how the system works:


So, we can see that it matters where you hit your opponent. Little things like the angle of the armour make a huge difference. So the early war British Crusader tank, even though it has very thin armour, can survive the odd hit to the turret with big anti tank weapons because the turret has some pretty steeply angles plates on it.

Of course, this is still a game and not every single last component will be modelled - but the important ones are.

Breaking Tank Tracks

Destroying tracks is slightly different. My understanding of the system is that there is a "joules threshold" that must be reached to damage the track. Each bullet or shell can impart a certain number of joules of energy when it hits something else. The level for tracks is set at a point that bullets can't do damage, small-ish anti tank rounds might do damage and bigger anti tank rounds will do damage. Once the tracks absorb the requisite number of joules, it breaks.

A word on HEAT warheads

Some weapons fire Armour Piercing rounds (or variations on them). Basically, they work by hitting an object fast and punching through. HEAT rounds are fired by some tanks (like the Panzer 4D and STuG 3B) and work differently. When the round hits an object, a charge goes off in the warhead that fires a shaped charge. It's kind of like a load of explosive packed around a cone of metal (usually copper I believe) that causes the cone to liquefy and shoot forwards as a bolt of molten metal. This punches very small, but very deep holes in things. The advantage of this is that it makes no difference how far away your target is or how much your shell has slowed down when it gets there - the force of the molten jet it the same.

HEAT rounds are, however, defeated by angled armour. The trajectory of the shot also has an impact, so a falling shot hitting vertical armour would be deflected just as easily as a flat shot hitting angled armour.

HEAT warheads are also fired by the anti-tank infantry using PIATs, Bazookas and Panzerschrecks.

Killing Scout Cars

You may ave been told that scout cars (the 232, Vickers and Panhard) can be killed by rifle fire. This is true, but only at point blank range. The game models all rifle bullets as tiny AP rounds. Something about full metal jackets or somesuch... anyway, it may not be 100% historically accurate, but it is useful to remember that you can kill that pesky scout car when no friendly tanks or anti-tank soldiers are around - but you have to be point blank and it take a few shots. You have to kill the crew.

Scout cars can sometimes prove very tricky to kill with AP rounds. That's because a lot of the damage model is empty space (especially the 232). You can put AP rounds through them quite easily without hitting the crew or the (small) ammo store points. If you'r having trouble, blow the wheels off to give you a stationary target, then pepper the base of the turret to kill the gunner and commander.

Anti Tank Rifles

These are not real big tank killers. They are just big rifles that fire big bullets. Think of them as being like the grandfather of the Barret .50 cal. You're not going to kill Tiger tanks with them. However, they are quite good at killing scout cars out to a couple of hundred meters and can kill some lighter tanks at close range - but there are usually only a very few places where the armour is thin enough. Remember you're just firing a slightly bigger rifle bullet. So you usually are trying to kill the crew, not make the target go boom.

How Did that tank kill me if it didn't hit me?

The game uses a predictor system. This means your end of the game uses algorithms to guess what is happening around you until the server tells you specifically what is happening.

Unfortunately the speed of a bullet is faster than the speed of another player sending information to the server and the server sending information back to you.

This means that when you see a tracer, tank round, etc. flying through the world it's only your computer guessing where it's going. The only rounds you will see hit precisely are ones you fire yourself.

This means there will be plenty of times where you see an opponent fire at you and it might appear as if he hit 50m in front of you but you die. Your computer is guessing where the round will land but once the other player's computer sends information about the outcome of the shot to the server the server will send you the correct damage information. So you may see it land in front of you, but a fraction of a second later your computer gets the correct damage information which might state that you have been hit and two crew members have been truck by shrapnel and your ammunition has been lit on fire.

How do I fire an ATG/AAG?

What you have to do, is when you spawn in, you're in position 1, the spotter/commander. Before you can shoot the ATG, you need to deploy it, to do that you need to press Z. Then, you can press 2 (to go to position number to, the gunner). Use numpad del to bring up the sight. Then you can shoot until your hearts content.

I'm not an expert, so anyone who is feel free to add stuff or correct me.

Edited by GVONPAUL
Changed info for HEAT rounds. Added info

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Bump, cleaned up and added some info.

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Here's a still shot that allows easier viewing of one of the collider/damage models:


A testing shot like this...which BTW is obtained with a special CRS development client, not available to players...shows the incoming ordnance trajectory, plus trajectories for ejected metal from the point of impact, inward spall if there is sufficient penetration, and/or fragmentation if the ordnance is an exploding type.

An obvious question might be: why does the collider-space model use so few polygons compared to the visual-space model? Because the collider model is linked to a large amount of code, some of it model-specific, that ties it to real time calculations of ordnance trajectories and points and angles of impact, with consequences based on target material characteristics and ordnance performance characteristics. Those real time calculations have to occur fast enough to keep up. It's much more important for the collider model to be fast enough than to be pretty. Pretty is the visual model's job.

Edited by jwilly

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Some basics of gameplay against armored targets:

1. It can be challenging to be effective here against armored targets if you don't understand how much armor penetration performance your weapon has at the range you currently have to your target, and how thick the target's armor is at the particular point you're shooting at.

In that respect, the game is a lot like real tank WWII warfare. The more you knew about the technical nature of your weapon and the targets, the more likely you were to succeed and survive. So, real soldiers studied the enemy's weapons and tank armor whenever they could.

2. Aside from considerations of (a) velocity fall-off with range and (B) angle of impact due to target orientation and your round's parabolic trajectory, every shot here is subject to a random performance variance (+/- 5%?) representing ammo variability, environmental conditions, and the many other secondary factors that affected performance.

3. You aren't going to penetrate the frontal hull armor of a Tiger or Churchill with a 20mm or 37mm gun, no matter how close you are, no matter how lucky you are.

4. Armor does not wear through or weaken over time. Repeated non-penetrating shots don't have a cumulative effect.

5. You can't kill a tank via the hitpoint approach of other games. No matter how many times you hit a medium or heavy tank, or most light tanks, with a rifle-caliber machine gun, you won't kill it.

6. If you drive around in a tank or armored car with a driver viewport or commander's hatch open, you are likely to die sooner than you'd hoped. If your tank/AC commander is unbuttoned (i.e. hatch open, sitting up from the turret for better visibility), and the enemy is within bullet or HE-round range of you, your commander may die. Check your keymap for what keys control those functions.

7. To knock that opposing tank out of action, you probably are going to have to kill its crew, not just hit it. A fully penetrating round maintains its trajectory within the tank; any crewman that it hits probably will die. A round that gets within 80% of penetrating, or a penetrating one in most cases, will generate spall, and each tracked piece of spall may hit and injure or kill crewmen.

You can also kill the crew indirectly by hitting and igniting the ammo storage, which will burn out the tank, or by hitting and igniting the main-engine fuel storage, which has slower effects on the crew but eventually will "kill" them (which encompasses them bailing out and thereby becoming combat-irrelevant).

A tank with track or suspension damage can become immobile, which doesn't keep them from shooting back at you but may be useful to your side nonetheless.

Lastly, you can cripple a tank by hitting its main gun barrel sufficiently to knock it out.

Edited by jwilly

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6. If you drive around in a tank or armored car with a driver viewport or commander's hatch open, you are likely to die sooner than you'd hoped. If your tank/AC commander is unbuttoned (i.e. hatch open, sitting up from the turret for better visibility), and the enemy is within bullet or HE-round range of you, your commander may die. Check your keymap for what keys control those functions.

I was a TC (Track/Tank Commander) in a previous life... I took what I did IRL - and applied that to my WWIIonline maneuver as well:

a. Use your TC unbuttoned view when maneuvering at long range from your target - and scanning for targets well outside combat range. Also good when approaching a major terrain feature - you can have your commander 'peek' over the ridge line/hill to see what's on the other side - without exposing your tank to fire (e.g. turret down - see my bottom signature picture below to see an example of this). Wish game would allow commander to dismount and have a closer look himself...meh.

b. Button up when taking fire or within danger close range of enemy (1km from target).

c. Only unbutton commander when in active combat to get a brief view of the surrounding area that you can't get from the gunsight alone. I use the 'n' key - to unlock mouse look - and I pan around the area quickly - then button up again immediately.

d. I have never had a reason to unbutton my driver in game. You can use the periscope to view the road ahead enough to drive effectively. Use your gunner and commander to provide all-around situational view. Leave the driver buttoned up - or you will forget - and be immobilized by a pistol.

Whenever I forget these things - I tend to die, quickly. Also - most importantly - your ability to survive will go up if you link up with other armored vehicles - and they can get your back - or you theirs - to avoid the pitfalls.

S! And good hunting!

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