With 9 different nations to choose from and each with its own unique tanks, choosing a nation or specific tech tree branch to commit to can be a daunting task.
To help you with your decision-making, we've prepared a brief overview about the general characteristics of the vehicles in each nation, including their pros, cons and preferable play styles. Click on the relevant tags below to jump directly to your preferred nation:
American tanks are all about versatility, possessing equal amounts of firepower, mobility and armour. They may not hit as hard or block as many hits as their counterparts from other nations, but each vehicle class under the American tech tree can serve reasonably well as a stopgap for almost any role in battle.
- American heavy tanks possess the toughest turret armour amongst all other nations. Most commanders will choose to hunker down behind terrain obstacles to maximise the protection of their heavies.
- Medium tanks can be slightly less agile and somewhat large, but they can do everything equally well and so are good choices as support vehicles, flankers or long-range harassment.
- Light tanks in the USA tech tree tend to function well as scouts, although they can also be used as anti-scout roles or even in flanking actions.
- Tank destroyers come in two flavours: heavily armoured without a turret, or a slightly more fragile version with a fully functioning turret. Depending on your choice, you can either choose to face the enemy head-on, or deploy into an advantageous position far away from the frontlines.
- The American SPG is an unwieldy gun, but it produces some of the highest damage amongst vehicles from all nations. It also has an abysmally slow reload time.
The German tech tree emphasizes gun accuracy over all else, which is why many players are exceptionally fond of their tank destroyers. However, don't let that fool you - there are many wonderful things to be found in the other vehicle classes.
- Heavy Tanks: These are meaty, powerful machines in general, although they lack the ability to bounce incoming shells successfully in the earlier tiers. Once at Tier VIII and above however, the German heavy is a dangerous beast to tangle with at close range.
- Medium Tanks: Mostly regulated to support roles, German mediums are sturdy enough to absorb a few shots for the team while having enough firepower to repel any flankers.
- Light Tanks: The German light tank is a tiny vehicle in the early tiers, but the late-tier tanks are anything but. With some of the nearly matching the size of several mediums, driving an advanced light tank can be a bit of a challenge. This however gives them a natural advantage when hunting for enemy lights.
- Tank Destroyers: Some of the most popular vehicles are German tank destroyers, and with good reason: they possess the ability to deal monstrous damage on every shot they land. Like their USA counterparts, these tank destroyers are either well-armoured with no turrets, or are pure glass cannons with a fully rotating turret.
- Self-propelled Guns: German SPGS possess great range and impressive accuracy. However, their large size can betray them, rendering them easy to spot for enemy light tanks sniffing around.
The early Chinese vehicles are mostly copies from other tech trees, which means their controls and capabilities would likely feel the same if you've already tried the original versions. However, the Chinese tech tree does transform in later tiers into uniquely agile, yet surprisingly durable vehicles.
- Heavy Tanks: China's heavy tanks begin with the VII IS-2 , which is very similar to the IS family on the Soviet tech tree. The VIII 110 also shares many design features of the IS-3, but the IX WZ-111 model 1-4 and the X 113 are purely Chinese creations and meld agility, durability and firepower into one cohesive form.
- Medium Tanks: The Soviet T-34 design forms the main inspiration for much of the Chinese medium tech tree branch. At the later tiers however, this gives way to pure Chinese creations that are excellent for ambush and flanking maneuvers.
- Light tanks: The Chinese tech tree imports many foreign designs, including the French Renaults for their light tanks. Like the heavy and medium tank branches however, these tanks are eventually replaced by homegrown designs as you ascend towards Tier X.
The Soviet tech tree is most renowned for their heavy tanks, as they possess both tough hides and powerful guns. However, their other vehicle classes are nothing to sneeze at either. Soviet vehicles are widely considered the most beginner-friendly nation as well due to their ease of use.
- Heavily armoured and packing a huge punch in every shot, Soviet heavy tanks are meant to spearhead the main assult in every battle. Thankfully, their large HP pools allow them to stay in the fight even when damaged. Their only downsides are an obvious lack of mobility and the general inaccuracy of their guns at long range.
- The medium tanks of the USSR are all-around good fighters, as they are equipped with enough engine power and good guns to assist in any contested area. Unlike their heavy cousins, these medium tanks are considerably more fragile and do not possess the gun depression needed to fire at enemies behind raised cover.
- Soviet light tanks are incredibly quick, but have paper-thin armour and not enough power in their guns to damage larger tanks reliably. These are usually regulated to pure scouting roles as a result.
- All Soviet tank destroyers come without a turret attached, which means they're very vulnerable to flanking attacks if an enemy sneaks up upon them. If successfully hidden and in range however, these machines can pummel exposed enemy vehicles into dust. Some tank destroyers specialise in heavy alpha damage (i.e. a devastating shot that requires a long reload time), while others feature a high Damage Per Minute ratio (less powerful shots, but a much faster firing rate).
- Soviet SPGs are known for their high firing arcs, which means they're more likely to have their shells soar over most obstacles instead of crashing into them well before hitting their intended target. Aside from that, their guns are equally accurate and powerful, although not outstandingly so.
The French tech tree is an unusual beast. The early tiers heavily focus on vehicles that are sluggish but very heavily armoured - light tanks included - while the more advanced models emphasize speed and power above all else. From tiers VIII to X, virtually all vehicle classes are capable of achieving high speeds and firing exceptionally damaging rounds in quick succession, using the 'autoloader' mechanic that reloads several rounds in a magazine at a time.
- French heavies and mediums are somewhat identical, in that they can be frustrating to play in the early tiers as they are slow and poorly armoured to boot. Once you get past them however, you'll begin to see improvement as you progress towards Tier X. Both tank classes are very mobile and powerful later on due to them being autoloader guns.
- Similar to the heavy and medium tanks, French lights are almost incapable of achieving high speeds, but tough it out and drastic improvements can be seen as early as Tier V. The late-tier lights also feature autoloader systems that allow them to perform highly effective skirmishes before retreating to safety for reloading.
- The French tank destroyers are generally accurate and very capable of penetrating armour. The early tiers suffer from the same lack of mobility plaguing the other classes at first, but that problem disappears in the later stages. However, they remain vulnerable on the sides and rear.
- The SPGs of France are somewhat agile for their kind. They are also fairly accurate, but their real strength lies in their rate of fire. However, these benefits are offset by the fact that each shot does lesser damage than their counterparts in other nations.
The tanks of the UK traditionally favour rate of fire and penetration ability over sheer damage. Early tier tanks are mostly heavily armoured and slow, as their real-world equivalents were designed for the purpose of supporting infantry. As the tiers rise however, the slow tanks give way to more well-rounded ones.
- Unlike Soviet heavy tanks, the British ones aren't particularly well armoured, nor are they hard hitting. However, they compensate for having a faster rate of fire and good accuracy. In the later tiers, the tanks increasingly become more nimble and durable.
- The medium and light tanks in the UK tech tree are equally slow compared to their heavy brethren in the early stages, but they become excellent support vehicles soon after that due to the sheer speed in traversing terrain or firing. They won't be able to take much damage on their own, but they're excellent for hit-and-run attacks while the enemy is distracted.
- British fire support vehicles such as the tank destroyer and the SPG vary wildly even within their own classes. Some of them are armed with fast-firing but weak guns while shrugging off lots of damage, while others can be the exact opposite.
Japanese vehicles are primary divided into two separate tech tree branches: medium tanks that are fast and fragile and heavy tanks that are slow and tough.
- The medium tanks commonly possess a good balance of damage and penetration on top of their speed, but suffer in terms of survivability.
- The newer superheavy tanks on the other hand are extremely slow and bulky, but possess some of the highest amounts of HP among all playable vehicles.
The Czech tech tree currently only offers light and medium tanks in its roster, but what it offers can comfortably challenge their counterparts in other nations.
- The medium tanks from the early tiers aren't too remarkable at first, but get past them and to the later tiers of VIII, IX and X and you'll get access to some of the most capable medium tanks available.
As the most recent nation to be added to World of Tanks, the Swedish tech tree grants access to both heavy tanks and tank destroyers in two separate branches.
- The Swedish heavy tank line can be considered similar to their French equivalents, in that the late-tier vehicles also possess autoloading mechanisms that allow them to unload extreme amounts of damage in a short time before reloading. Apart from that, they also feature some excellent frontal armour that can deflect some incoming damage if properly positioned.
- Swedish tank destroyers are mostly turretless. While most of them perform well and are somewhat unremarkable in the early tiers, reach Tier VIII and you'll find yourself getting access to some exotic designs with a unique 'siege mode' mechanic. With a push of a button, the tank destroyer will receive increased gun stability at the cost of movement and turning speeds.