Thinking On Tank Crew Skills

My time with World of Tanks can be divided into two eras.

There was beta, launch, and immediately after, during which I played a lot but then tapered off, with my last surge coming when I bought the Type 59.  And then there is Patch 8.0 and beyond.  Patch 8.0 was the great physics update which revitalized the game for me, fixing some of my key annoyances, and got me to come back and play.

Of course, a lot had changed between these two eras besides the physics.  Tank trees, tanks, countries, and skills had all be shaken up in that time.  I have taken on things by turns, and now I am looking at skills.

For those who do not play the game, you tank has a crew that actually translates your inputs into actions.  So you may aim and click the button to shoot the cannon on your tank, but the skills of your gunner play heavily into the accuracy of that shot.  And you increase the skills of your crew by playing.  They gain experience over time.

In the first era there was but one skill.  Each crew member had a function, like gunner, loader, or driver, and a skill level associated with that.  At 100% you were done training and that was that.

At some point when I had faded from the game, Wargaming.net added in secondary skills.  So now, after your crew hits 100% in their primary skill, they can learn additional skills to help them at their job.

I handled this the way I often handle these sorts of skill changes.  I picked some likely looking candidates and moved on to play.  After a while and a bit of reflection, I came up with a pattern, a standard set of skills I assign my crews.

First off, the secondary skills are actually divided into skills and perks.  Skills come into effect immediately and get more effective as you learn the skill.  Perks, which tend to be better, do nothing while you learn them, only providing benefit when you get them to 100%.  That can take a while, as the game wiki points out.

A Graph! How much exp per skill!

A Graph! How much exp per skill!

I never know how long I am going to play a given tank.  So my first decision was skills only, avoid perks.  And for quite a while I was in no danger of getting to 100% on skills or perks, so it seemed like a wise course.  I settled down to the following as a general template:

  • Commander – Mentor (+10% primary skills for crew)
  • Gunner – Snap Shot if vehicle has a turret, Armorer if not
  • Driver – Controlled Impact (because I love when people die ramming me)
  • Radio Operator – Situational Awareness
  • Loaders – Repair, Fire Fighting, or Camouflage

So my KV-3 crew follows that pattern. (Which you can verify if you know what the tiny icons mean.)

KV-3 Crew

KV-3 Crew

After a while, I started getting to crews that had a skill trained up to 100% and needed to start on a second skill.  But I had chosen all of what I perceived as the “good” skills the first time around.  And since the climb to 100% for the second skill is, as the chart above indicates, about double the effort, I didn’t want some useless perks idling there for all that time.

So I looked into retraining.

You can reset you skills and perks for a price.  For 200 gold, which seems like a lot (and which is probably the point), you can simply swap them out with no penalty.  For credits you can swap them, but lose 10% of your skill points.  I have chosen both options at this point, but the skill point loss isn’t so bad if you wait for a bit getting into your second skill.  I am happy so long as I don’t have to do that last 5% over again to get the first one to 100%.

With a reset, I could inject perks into the first position and then put the same skills I had been training before into the second slot.  Being mildly obsessed with crew skills, I went with Band of Brothers for the first slot across the whole crew.  This perk boost crew skills beyond 100%, but only if everybody in the crew has it.

So I have a couple of crews that look like my T-150 crew now:

T-150 crew with Band of Brothers

T-150 crew with Band of Brothers

So you can see that with Brothers in Arms across the whole crew, plus the commander training Mentor again, plus ventilation added to the tank, my gunner is running at 121% skill level.  And he has Snap Shot well under way, though it you look at that curve above, 74% is about the half way point to being done.  A long ways to go yet.

I was generally satisfied by this, with the view that better crew skills was the optimum choice.

However, when I finally got my Type 59 crew up to their first skill at 100%, I began to wonder if a 5% skill boost was worth tying up the whole first slot.  So I decided to experiment with them.  The Type 59 was the crew where I first picked skills and perks, and did so at random, not yet understanding the whole “skill  vs. perk” thing.  So they had some perks mixed in that I never bothered to retrain.  So I decided to stick with them.

Type 59 crew

Type 59 crew

For the commander, I chose Sixth Sense, which I am beginning to really depend upon.  I play the Type 59 either on the flanks, looking for a good shoot, or as a passive scout, parked in the middle of what would otherwise be a giant gap in our lines as the rest of the team tries press up either flank.  3 seconds after I have been spotted, a little light bulb shows up on screen, and I know it is time to trot.  Now, in that 3 second gap, the bad guys can, and often do, take a shot at me.  But not always, and it at least keeps arty from raining down on me.

The for a second skill, I chose Mentor, which is my standard.

My gunner has Deadeye, which is supposed to increase critical damage.  The boost is only 3%, so I am wondering if I ought to retrain and take Designated Target instead, which keeps targets in your scope visible for an extra two seconds than they otherwise would.  That can be the difference between getting off a good shot or not.

My driver camo, which certainly doesn’t hurt when playing passive scout, and Controlled Impact because, as I said, I like to punish those who ram.

My loader/radio operator has Situational Awareness and Repair because… why not?

And this seems to have worked out well enough and again undermines my initial faith in Brothers in Arms as a worthwhile use of a skill/perk slot.  Is that 5% worth it or not?  It apparently also boosts mentoring a bit, but as you can see above, by all of 1%.

I have two vehicles coming up where I am going to have to decide how to move forward.  The KV-3, whose crew I showed above, and the Jagpanther, which I suspect I will be driving a lot in April, since it is the Tank of the Month and gets a 30% boost to credits.

For the Jagpanther, I am going to go with something akin to the Type 59 crew.  Sixth Sense for the commander and Designated Target for the gunner being my gut priority.

And with the KV-3, which tends to be a giant shot magnet, I am tending towards Eagle Eye, Deadeye, Preventative Maintenance, Safe Stowage, and whatever repair and fire fighting skills I can squeeze in, just to enhance survivability.  Six Sense seems like a waste as pretty much everybody seems to see me when I move around.

What do you think?  How do you fill up the skill/perk slots on your crews?  What seems to really help and what is a waste of a slot?

15 thoughts on “Thinking On Tank Crew Skills

  1. HarbingerZero

    Six Sense is a key skill for TD’s and for Heavies – anything that will attract arty fire. Outside of that, I tend to think Eagle Eye or Recon are the best bet. Extending your maximum view range also extends the range at which you will effectively spot camo’d vehicles. For the rest, camo is a heavy recommendation, if only because it is a popular choice – and you don’t want to be less camo’d than the tank next to you (don’t have to run faster than the bear, just faster than the other person…), or whatever helps your playstyle. Mentor and BoB are only effective on “stats that can be affected” according to a Dev Q&A. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I suspect that there is a cap on how accurate or fast your gun is, and the top speed of your tank, that is beyond your crew skills. End result is that they are viewed with suspicion.

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @HZ – Yeah, what stats can be affected? I guess aim accuracy can be affected, since in their tank of the month post they recommend improved ventilation for the Jagpanther to improve accuracy on the final gun. They wouldn’t lie to me, right?

    The only thing I wonder about on camo is that they say in a couple of places that only the value of the highest trained crew member will count. I took that to mean that you should only train one crew member in that skill.

    But yeah, I buy the paint schemes to get the extra 5% camo value based on the “not faster than the bear” calculation.

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  3. Tomalie

    Heavies, high tier tds, almost always take repair first, being tracked in the open is death.

    6th Sense is also awesome in the lights, My t71 can fire from max range and not get spotted, its the tanks hiding that spot me that I cant see that saves me.

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  4. pockie

    Sixth sense is one of the best perks, not only for telling you when to move to avoid arty, but even more for when it does NOT light up. It is one of the only ways you get feedback as to what spots on the map are good, as well as when its safe for you to sit at your position for another shot after you fire.

    For camo, I’ve always understood that it takes the average of the skill over all crew members, never seen anything about taking the highest skilled member. However, camo also depends heavily on one of those “secret” stats which is the base camo rating of the tank. 100% camo boost on a Jagdtiger does absolutely nothing because it has almost no camo in the first place.

    Snap shot is also supposed to affect turretless TDs as well, although I haven’t tested it to see the actual effect. Personally I always take snap shot first on gunners for all vehicles. My default position is repair for all except gunner for their first skill, unless its a TD or arty in which I take camo for all first. After 100% I used to switch to brothers in arms, but now that I’m addicted to sixth sense for the commander I started taking other perks (although I prefer clutch braking for the driver, I very rarely take any significant ramming damage). Firefighting does almost nothing right now although it might be changed in the future with the upcoming change to fire extinguishers.

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  5. mrrx

    Mentor gives you an experience boost only, no increase to skills, sayeth the wiki.

    Camo/Fire Fighting/Repair are averages across the crew. If you want to have 100% camo, every crew member must have it. Your camo bonus for your KV-3 is 97%/6 = 16%.

    I experimented a lot with crew skills too and am pretty settled with this formula.
    Sniper tank/TD = Camo. Second skill – BIA for small crews. If tank above Tier 5 or so, Repair.

    Medium or heavy non sniper = Repair. Second skills as follows
    Commander gets sixth sense.
    Driver gets clutch braking. You can never turn fast enough in this game.
    Gunner gets snap shot.
    Radioman gets sit awareness.
    Loader(s) get the ammo rack perk, or camo or firefighting.

    My third skill, I only have one tank there, and that’s the MS-1 with 100% camo and 100% BIA. I selected the Recon skill for the commander (view range increases, even small, can be critical) and off-road driving for the driver (this tank needs any speed increases possible. Clutch braking isn’t needed at tier 1, especially with the huge accuracy loss the second you turn the tank)

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  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Mrrx – You know, I *knew* that about Mentor and then something confused me on it and I cannot remember what it was. I probably got it mixed up with the tank commander bonus.

    Well, that and despite having Mentor, I have not seen any noticeable difference in crew advancement over time with it. They are all sitting at 97% together at the end, commander included, in the picture above. So perhaps I can dispense with Mentor.

    I had clutch breaking on the StuG III at one point. That is one vehicle that did not, in my opinion, need it. I was constantly over steering when I had that skill.

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  7. stnylan

    I started off often getting Mentor, but eventually I ditched it across all my tanks. I only have Brothers in Arms on one tank – my Marder II – because for two out of the three crewmembers there are relatively few skills that are worthwhile for that vehicle. I am training it on my M4 Sherman to experiment with, but in honesty I doubt I will get it very often. As mrrx implies above, it mostly seems useful for earlier tanks with small crews.

    I have two crews working now on the third crew skill. For what it is worth they are my Marder II (287%) with Commander (Camo, BiA, Recon), Gunner (Camo, BiA, Snap Shot), and Drive (Camo, BiA, Repair). I may see if I can persuade myself to do a gold retrain to change the Snap Shot to Designated Target once the third skill is fully researched. My KV-4 (244%) currently has Commander (Repair, Recon, Firefighting), Gunner (Repair, Snap Shot, Deadeye), Driver (Repair, Smooth Ride, Controlled Impact), Radio Operator (Repair, Sit Awareness, Firefighting), Loader 1 (Repair, Safe Stowage, Firefighting), Loader 2 (Repair, Adrenaline Rush, Firefighting).

    I am not set in getting repair or camo automatically as the first skill. I dislike resets so I will generally now try to plan for perks for the first skill. For example on my Jagdpanther only my Gunner, Driver, and Loader are initially learning camouflage, with my Commander loading Sixth Sense and my Radio Operating training up Situational Awareness.

    Overall I dislike quite a few of the skills. For the Commander I dislike Mentor, Eagle Eye, and Jack of All Trades, but Recon is excellent. For the Gunner I not entirely sold on Deadeye (which is why I am training for it – to test it :) ). Snap Shot is the most important of the Gunner-specific skills, followed by Designated Target and then Armourer – but it depends on the tank. I would say both are less important for tanks that like to get close to the enemy, for example. The Driver has so many good skills. The worst – which is still pretty useful in some tanks – is Preventative Maintenance. The rest, well in some tanks Controlled Impact will be of less use, but generally these are all really excellent skills. For Radio Operators Situation Awareness seems like a clear win. Call for Vengeance has some use for dedicated scouts, but is mostly weak. So is signal relaying. Signal range I can see being more useful. Finally Loaders have a poor selection. Safe Stowage is certainly handy, but Adrenaline Rush is average at best (rarely benefits the tank) and for some vehicles pretty poor – and Intuition seems like a waste of experience.

    Of the general skills I am really not sold that Brothers in Arms is worth it except in smaller crew vehicles generally of a lower tier. Repair or Camo is very useful depending the tank concerned. Firefighting is possibly going to be changed with the proposed change to Manual Fire Extinguishers, but I would say is generally only useful for heavies and higher-tier mediums – and probably less important than some others.

    Mmm, I should really write all this up into my own blogpost. If I get the time :D

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  8. Anonymous

    There are a couple of skills that say they are based on the average skill of your crew. If that is taken literally, then training a crew member to 100% in something like camo would only yield a 20% improvement for a tank with a 5-man crew.

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  9. sean

    re: BiA. it affects all skills, including the Commander’s bonus to other crew members skills. I’m considering re-training my T-43 crew to it when they move to the T-44 soon.

    re: Mentor. if your tank is elited, then effectively the ‘elite xp bonus’ always goes to the Commander, and so everyone advances that much faster. it at least reduces a little bit of the skill grind… slightly.

    re: other skills. Drivers get the best skills, far too many to choose: smooth ride, clutch braking, off-road driving, controlled impact. Loaders get rubbish skills: my Matilda loader has safe stowage, but only because I didn’t know what I was doing when I set it. The rest of my Loaders use Repairs or Camouflage, depending on the tank.

    Radio Operators also get good skills: SA and signal boosting in particular. SA is even better when the Commander has Recon, which many of mine do (I drive a lot of scouts).

    Like you, I’ve been avoiding perks since I realised how they worked – but my dedicated scout crew Commander has Sixth Sense, and I really wish my other scout crews had that too. There was a comment by SerB on the russian forums not too long ago indicating it might get nerfed, because it’s too good.

    And I read stnylan’s blog today indicating that Firefighting might become important: all my tanks above Tier II carry manual fire extinguishers, so any nerf to them might cause me to re-train some crew members.

    I’ve read the forum advice that with perks, and with BiA in particular, it’s best to train a skill to 120% and then re-train for instant BiA *and* a useful skill during the long training period – however expensive that is, I think it’s probably valid.

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  10. Pingback: Reviewing crew skills | To Game For Life

  11. Random Idiot

    I am not in a position to advise which skill/perk is best, I did not even know that “skills come into effect immediately and perks only provide benefit when you get them to 100%”, so I am grateful to you for the tip.

    :)

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  12. Dàchéng

    I’m still a big fan of getting Brothers in Arms first. But Sean’s advice is fascinating: train a skill to 120% first and then re-train it to BiA. I didn’t even know you _could_ train above 100%. On the other hand, a little spreadsheet told me that it would cost an extra 320K XP to get from 100% to 120% in the first perk/skill, while 420K XP would take me to 100% in the second skill instead.

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  13. Stormtrail

    Mentor is unfortunately bad because it takes too long to make it worthwhile if you are paying credits to switch skills, and if you’re paying gold you’d rather have combat effectiveness. There are a number of threads and faqs that have calculated out the “ROI” on mentor if you care enough to search. I love the idea of mentor, but its just too little benefit at too much sacrifice.

    If you are choosing between the “old” secondary skills, NEVER split them up between crew members because the effective level is taken as an average of all your crew members.

    Most of the skills have some use and benefit and there are plenty of configurations that you can make work, its more a situation that some are just better more often. For example, controlled impact is “fun” and you can definitely come up with reasons to have it, but as an early skill, I think most of the other driver skills are better because they come into use much more often. Clutch braking may not suit your driving style from the sounds of it, but off-road driving makes a big difference these days since most tanks have had their ground passability nerfed. By the time I chart out skills for my driver on most tanks, controlled impact is probably a distant 4th or 5th option for me.

    Since it sounds like you don’t have a ton of multi-skilled crews, my default recommendation for people still learning the game would be to have the 1st “set” of secondary skills be 6th sense + all repair or 6th + all camo on lights and some mediums. 6th sense really is that crucial for all tank types and play styles because it provides information that you can’t get in any other way. Repair and camo still get you the most bang for the buck in most situations early on and are comparable to the specialty skills even as your crew develops.

    I’ve done a good bit of testing on the crew skills and I have a fairly hardcore clan to call on if there are additional questions.

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  14. Anonymous

    If you had mentor from the beginning of crew training, your commander would have a lower trained % than your crew. This isn’t the case from your pictures and needs an explanation.

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  15. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Anon – Or maybe you could read the comment thread above where I wrote:

    “Well, that and despite having Mentor, I have not seen any noticeable difference in crew advancement over time with it. They are all sitting at 97% together at the end, commander included, in the picture above. So perhaps I can dispense with Mentor.”

    You explain it.

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