Artillery (also known as self-propelled guns [SPG] or colloquially "arty") is an often misunderstood class in World of Tanks. Playing as artillery takes patience, practice and basic knowledge of the "hot zones" on maps. Generally speaking, artillery has little to no armor, minimum health, and very low mobility. But where this class shines is through its armament: large-caliber guns that can severely cripple, if not outright destroy, an unsuspecting oppontent!
Like other vehicle classes you must play to your strengths and minimize your weaknesess as best as you can.
What Makes an Artillery?
Large-caliber guns -- the largest in the game, to be exact!
When entering battle, many first-time artillery players think they are playing a variant of the tank destroyer class, given their large guns and lack of a turret. Artillery is not meant to rush into close or medium-range firefights; staying hidden by the base and picking off targets from afar are the goals here!
Artillery fires rounds at an angle, allowing you to hit even concealed foes
Low tier artillery probably won't seem much at first. Their guns don't stand out and they'll easily be the least-flexlible class available; with no turrets and limited traverse speed and mobility. However, once you're exposed to mid and high tier artillery, that all changes and you'll get a glimpse at what this class truly has to offer.
Know Your Role and Shut Your Hatch
Always remember to look at the composition of both teams when entering a battle. As artillery, take note of how many potential scouts you'll have as eyes, and how many enemy light tanks might be looking to hunt you down!
Staying concealed is your best armor
While allied scouts are sprinting to the frontlines for detection opportunities, use this time to relocate nearby to a place that offers both decent and unobstructed firing angles and safety. The corners of maps are common places to hide, but that also depends on the firing range of your specific artillery model. You'll need to experiment with locations on different maps in order to find the places that work best for you. Look for bushes to hide behind. And remember -- artillery have no armor, so staying out of direct lines of sight is vital!
Play to Your Strengths
Say hello to my little friend
Know your strengths:
Most artillery come equipped with high-explosive rounds (HE) alongside standard armor-piercing (AP). HE rounds have a lower chance at penetrating a target, but upon impact, they detonate, causing an explosion that can deal damage. Exploding HE rounds create a splash radius around the impact zone, allowing the shell's explosion to cause damage to nearby tanks. On regular tanks firing HE, this splash radius isn't much, but with large-caliber guns found on artillery, trying to increase your splash damage is a common tactic. Savvy artillery players will memorize choke points and locations where tanks group together to maximize their splash damage output.
Indirect fire and artillery go hand in hand, and it's defintely a distinct advantage! Foes hiding behind indestructable objects can only be sussed out by artillery. Some artillery have high firing arcs, allowing their rounds to land directly on top of a target, while others fire at a much flatter trajectory and have a chance to hit the side of a target. Being the only class that fires indirectly, artillery is your best bet at clearing a well defended position from afar.
When a battle begins, artillery should note where their scouts are setting up to spot, and zero in nearby. But what happens once the battle is in full turmoil? If you had to guess where to fire next, look toward the main offensive push (or defense). When in the middle of combat, most players will focus on what they can see, not taking into account what else might be stealthily aiming their way. There's nothing more back-breaking for the enemy than receiving and bouncing a few hits in a tank only to receive the final exclamation point by a well-placed artillery round. Focusing your fire on the main assault could turn the tide of battle in your favor -- just try not to damage your allies who may be close to your targeted enemy!
For you history buffs out there, think of this tactic like Blitzkrieg, where your team's fire is concentrated on a focal point in hopes of crushing all defenders.
From the start, you'll notice that aiming with artillery is quite different from the rest of the classes. By pressing and holding the left trigger (default option), you'll enter arty mode, where you have a top-down view of the battlefield with a large, green (often oval) aiming circle. By default, your controller is set so that you have to hold down the trigger to keep this aiming mode on, but in the Settings menu you can adjust this so that you don't have to hold it down.
The green dots indicate that there is a clear path to your target, a red line indicates that something is in the way, and a white line means that you are out of range.
Arty mode: this view is only available to artillery. Use it to zero in on unsuspecting prey
Notice the oval of green dots around your target. This oval starts out large and gradually becomes smaller as it focuses on the target. The size of the circle, how fast it zeros in and how small the circle ultimately gets are entirely dependent on your selected artillery, its gun caliber, crews and equipment mounted.
The dots indicate where your shot can land. If you don’t see dots, then your shot is obstructed, and you won’t be able to hit your target, even if the line is green. The smaller the dots get before you fire, the better your accuracy! Be patient -- it is better to wait a few more seconds to get better accuracy than to waste a shot and wait for the lengthy reload. Stay aware of enemy movement, although you may not be able to see, arty mode allows you to view trees being knocked down, buildings being damaged and muzzle flashes when the enemy fires.
Locking your hull can also help your accuracy by keeping you locked in place. Press Left on the directional pad to lock your hull (and remember to unlock once you relocate).
When firing, remember that it could take a few seconds for your shot to reach its target. If your target is moving, you must factor in how much it will move between the time you fire and the time the shot arrives. This skill takes practice to learn, but there's nothing more satisfying than hitting a moving target!
Artillery is all about patience. Take the time to find a target, wait for your aiming circle to tighten, and let loose a screaming volley of fire!