Anyone who has ever fought in Random Battles while playing World of Tanks is surely aware how unpredictable these can be. On the one hand, you can predict to a certain extent what kind of vehicles either your and the enemy team will roll out into the battle with, but on the other hand, you can’t predict at all who you will be playing with or against. This situation makes Random Battles just what the name of the game mode implies – random!
This means that, in many instances, the battles look more like 15 individuals vs. 15 individuals rather than team vs. team. Of course, this does not mean that players cannot organise themselves to a certain extent once the battle starts, but then again, it would be quite naïve to expect perfect coordination and profound team play from tankers who – most likely – have never seen each other before, let alone played together. This is where platoons come into play.
Besides being a great way of having a lot of fun together with your friends on the battlefields, building a platoon gives you the possibility of introducing a little bit of order into the relative chaos of random battles, and boosting your chances of influencing the battle’s outcome to your team’s advantage.
So, what is a platoon exactly? In World of Tanks, a platoon is a small combat unit which can be created by any player and consists of up to 3 players in total. Rolling into battle in a platoon gives you the advantage of being able to decide up to 20% of your team’s vehicle setup, and what is more important, you can expect that your platoon mates will support and cooperate with you.
A good platoon can greatly influence the battle and, in many cases, it can even carry the team to victory. The key is to play together as a single coordinated unit.
Being a member of a platoon will not help you much on its own. If you want to make it work, you will have to follow a number of simple rules:
Invite players you know and trust
Even though inviting random players to join your unit is a great way of getting to know new people, if you are creating a platoon with primarily victory in mind, it is better to invite players you know and trust. A random stranger can be unpredictable and you can never be sure what to expect from them in battle. Therefore the best candidates for your platoon are friends and players you have already played with and know you can count on.
Choose your vehicles carefully
Choosing vehicles is also very important, not only for the platoon itself, but also for the team the platoon will play in. First of all, you need to pick vehicles you know how to play and feel comfortable driving. If you don’t know your vehicle’s role, you won’t be able to play effectively and you may even compromise the tactic your platoon has agreed to follow. It is a very good idea to establish a tactic first, and then pick the vehicle types best suitable to execute it.
Cooperate with each other
This is perhaps the most obvious rule, yet it cannot be stressed enough – if you go into battle as a unit, you must act like one. This means sticking together, following the same tactic and watching each other’s backs. If all of you go into separate directions once the battle timer starts ticking, then you’re basically no different from the players assigned to your team at random.
Communication is the crucial aspect of a platoon. Without it, you won’t be able to coordinate your moves or agree upon a tactic, not to mention asking for support if you get into a sticky situation. Typing in battle chat can be problematic at times, especially during heated shell exchanges. Therefore, it is advisable to use voice communication while playing in a platoon – it’s faster, more intuitive and it has less chance of breaking your concentration. You can either use the in-game voice communicator (requires being turned on in the game options menu) or go for a third party program of your choice. Please note, however, that choosing the latter may influence the game performance.
Concentrating fire on a single enemy is the most effective way of bringing them down quickly and reducing the number of guns at the enemy team’s disposal – the fewer guns they have, the less damage they can inflict upon you. In order to coordinate fire effectively, it is a good idea to designate a single platoon member as the one in charge of picking the targets to focus on – the tank they mark will be the one all platoon members will immediately start firing at. Target marking can be performed by using the “request fire” command, assigned to the T key by default.
Please note that the setups listed below are just some of many possibilities available to you in the game. Moreover, the tactics proposed for each one of them should also be considered as tips and suggestions – experiment with both setups and tactics, and adapt them according to your playstyle and individual needs.
2-3 Heavy Tanks
The most basic of setups and arguably the easiest unit to play: thick armour, big guns and a huge combined Hit Point pool – you can’t go wrong with that. Making such platoons work is relatively easy. Just pick your preferred route and follow it together while using your armour and firepower to progressively push the frontline towards the enemy base. The key is to concentrate fire and not to stay in one place for too long: focus your shots on the same enemy vehicle until it’s destroyed and then proceed forward and on to the next foe. This way you will be reducing the number of guns on the enemy team at a very fast rate, while steadily creeping closer towards the flag and putting pressure on the enemy as a result.
The downside of this setup is the fact that you usually won’t be able to switch flanks or return to the base to defend it – your tanks are just too slow for that. This is why it is so important to keep pushing forward: if the other flank crumbles, at least you will have the chance of beating the enemy to capturing the base. Also, moving tanks are harder targets for artillery. This is especially important, as heavy tanks are usually their prey of choice.
Heavy Tank + 1-2 Medium Tanks
This setup specialises either in taking down a single powerful and well-armoured tank (like a KV-4 or E 100) or ambushing a group of advancing enemies. In the first case, your heavy’s job is to engage the enemy tank head on and draw its attention, while the two mediums attack it from the flank or get behind it, where they have access to the least armoured parts of the vehicle. In this case, you simply overwhelm the enemy by having two tanks delivering constant damage to the most vulnerable parts of the tank, and quickly relieve the enemy team of one of their key assets. This is relatively easy, provided that there are no other enemy tanks in the vicinity, which could come to the rescue of your prey.
In the second scenario, the heavy draws the attention of a group of enemies while the mediums remain hidden at first. This tactic is very difficult, especially for the heavy, as it will have to hold multiple enemies at once. While the enemy group focuses on the heavy, your mediums sneak either to the flank or to the back of the enemy group. Then, just like above, they begin firing at the vulnerable sides and rears of the engaged tanks, focusing fire on the most dangerous or the most damaged one first. If you do this properly, you will cause utter chaos in the enemy group – they will turn around, get in each other’s way and lose focus, which will enable the heavy to join in and start firing at the weak parts as well.
In either case, it is crucial that you pay attention to your surroundings so that you don’t end up intercepted by other enemy vehicles during your flanking.
3 Medium Tanks (the so-called “Wolfpack”)
This setup requires extraordinary levels of coordination between the platoon members as well as fast medium tanks. However, if you can pull it off, you will wreak absolute havoc on the battlefield. The strength of this setup lies in its mobility and the ability of delivering fast, unexpected attacks and then disappearing before the enemy can react. The first rule of a wolfpack is to keep on the move at all times – your mobility allows you to prowl freely between flanks in search of an opportunity to strike. Pick off solitary tanks like real wolves pick off prey which has strayed too far from the herd. Gang up on the enemy from all directions, while circling and firing at them, until there is nothing left but a burning wreck. Once you’re done, move away in search of another target.
While in a wolfpack, you need to learn to discover opportunities and use them effectively to deliver devastating attacks on the enemy flank, moving behind the frontline to strike the enemy from the rear, making a dash for the artillery and, of course, dispatching single opponents effectively. To make it all work, it’s absolutely crucial to have a strong and experienced player as the pack leader, who will determine the routes for the platoon to go and mark the targets to focus on. Remember, coordination is exceptionally important for this particular setup, so you need to make sure that all platoon members act in perfect unison and obey the leader. Also, remember that medium tanks are meant as supporting vehicles, so even if you’re in a platoon, don’t try to lead the charge – let your heavies engage the enemy first, and then carry out your attacks as opportunities arise.
Light Tank (scout) + 1-2 Self-Propelled Guns
This platoon is very difficult to pull off, as it depends mostly on the skill and the ability of the light tank driver. In this scenario, the light tank actively scouts the map in search of enemy vehicles and highlights them for the artillery. Both SPGs focusing fire on the same enemy tank can be a fast and efficient way of neutralising enemy team members, or severely damaging them. Best-case scenario, the other players on your team will only have to keep the enemy away from the artillery and finish off the damaged ones.
As previously mentioned, the scout’s role here is crucial – it is they who will have to risk taking damage while sweeping the battlefield in scouting runs, because if the arty can’t see the targets, they can’t deal damage. Therefore, your scout should be the most experienced of your platoon members and an exceptional light tank driver. Also, they need to be good at keeping themselves alive, which requires knowledge of the maps and the best scouting spots, as well an ability to use the surroundings for cover. In the event your scout gets destroyed, the arty will have no other choice but to rely on the rest of the team to highlight enemy vehicles, which can unfortunately be an unreliable solution. Even so, focusing fire on the same enemy should still be your tactic, unless the situation on the battlefield clearly requires the artillery to cover 2 spots at once.
Also, please mind that this setup can be very situational. By this we mean that it shows its true potential on open maps, where your SPGs have access to more parts of the map. In urban settings, making this unit work can prove to be quite a challenge.
Light Tank (scout) + 1-2 Tank Destroyers
The last example on our list is quite similar to the one featuring SPGs, but in this case, it is meant to focus not only on delivering damage upon highlighted tanks from afar, but also on ambushing and leading enemy vehicles into traps. Now, light tanks have this special effect, that wherever they go, they have a huge chance of drawing the enemy attention to themselves. This is partly because allowing a scout to report your positions to the enemy freely is a quick way of having your tactic compromised and your key assets destroyed, and partly because a lot of players see the fragile vehicles as easy frags and bonuses to their XP/credit income for the battle. As a result, light tanks may often make the enemy vehicles change priorities and engage in a pursuit.
This is where your tank destroyers come into play - lead your pursuers into the open, or where your hidden TDs have a clear shot, and enjoy watching them being blown to scorched bits by your mates.
These ambushes are quite an effective way of reducing the amount of guns at the enemy’s disposal, but mind that they are very situational (you can’t always expect enemy players to take the bait) and require impeccable light tank driving skills. Moreover, you shouldn’t go into battle primarily with these in mind, because this may lead to your TDs idling in one spot for too long, rather than supporting the team where they are needed the most. That is why ambushing should be a matter of opportunity. The primary tactic for this platoon should be the highlighting of the enemy by the light tank and the progressive dispatching of their vehicles by the TDs.