8.6 is bringing a lot of changes to SPGs, premium rounds, camoflauge and matchmaking(mainly tied to SPGs). 8.6 is mainly a balancing update fixing some flaws that are currently plaguing World of Tanks as well as introducing several new tanks to flesh out the SPG lines.
Artillery has always been a controversial topic in World of Tanks for several reasons. Artillery packs a mean punch especially at high tiers that can hit you without needing to be in your general vicinity. The only role that artillery fits into is dealing damage that your team has spotted since it generally cannot spot, soak up damage, or hold a flank on it’s own. Since it is one dimensional it was designed to deal a lethal amount of damage and when combined with only going up to tier 8 there were massive spikes between tiers that lead to balancing issues. While I hate being destroyed in 1-2 hits by artillery as much as other people I do agree that it is needed to flush tanks out of spots and to add an added element to game play.
Most players see artillery as something that makes people camp, but in my opinion it is completely the opposite. The further away from a SPG you are the higher the arc(meaning it can hit you behind better cover) the shell has as well as the SPG not needed to rotate the hull as much to aim left/right(it can cover a larger section of the map at far distances). This means that when people camp and “play it safe” it is actually allowing SPGs to better cover the hiding spots, nail you when you leave cover, and allow the enemy team to take control of the map. On the other hand the further you push towards the enemy you cause cover/terrain to provide even more protection since artillery shells are not firing at a higher angle. When you take into account this along with helping your own artillery out it *should* make sense that camping is actually the wrong thing to do against artillery in a match.
With 8.6 comes tier 10 artillery which sees each nation’s SPG lines stretched out to tier 10. This change allows artillery to be better balanced and for the massive performance leaps that were apparent from tier 6/7/8 in the old format to be a thing of the past. I’ve decided not to break down each specific SPG since quite honestly I don’t think it is really necessary. Overall SPGs are not getting a very complex re balancing but merely the gaps are being filled in. The tier 7 of old performance wise will be similar to tier 8/9 artillery and tier 8 performance will scale up to tier 10. The mid tiers and low tiers get slight changes/new SPGs but remain largely unchanged as far as performance goes(aside from the SU-26 getting what it deserved).
The main changes as far as individual changes come with accuracy, reload times, and shell velocity. Overall all SPGs are having their shell velocities decreased so that it is harder to hit moving targets(unless you are a good mind reader) which will remove a lot of the complaints of “wtf shots” hitting fast tanks with little to no skill required. Along with this comes reload time changes which will lower the damage output of SPGs to be more in line with tanks of the same tier without completely blowing them out of the water. Remember, SPGs are essentially one dimensional damage dealers so their damage will still be very good against other tanks of their tier.
To top it all off the accuracy changes which might freak some people out(more on accuracy later on here) since SPG accuracy in the next patch is getting huge changes on paper. Yes this change will make the aiming circle larger and make you “feel” less accurate. On the plus side due to the accuracy rework for all tanks SPG shells will hit the outside of the aiming circle less(about 20% less) meaning that while you are getting an accuracy nerf it will make your shots be a bit more reliable(I know this sounds funky). Essentially before many of your shots would fly outside/on the edge of your aiming circle which as a SPG player was infuriating. In the new system this will happen much less(under 5% of the time) and more shells will actually go where you want them to!
In the end SPGs being re-balanced and also stretched out to tier 10 is a great idea and hopefully it is refined slightly(MM issues) and is introduced properly. The changes to artillery in 8.6 might remove some potential but in general it makes them less RNG dependent and more reliable.
This is largely tied to artillery but it deserves it’s own section. Since everyone is trying out artillery on the test server it is difficult to get a real feel as to how it will play out on the live server but here it goes… With artillery being pushed to tier 10 it is now weighted the same as/closely to heavy tanks of the same tier. For example a tier 6 heavy tanks can see up to tier 8 tanks and as low as tier 4 tanks generally. The same goes for ties 6 artillery now which will put them against tier 4/5/6 tanks more frequently now since they can be a team’s top tank.
The issue with this isn’t that a team has an “overpowered” SPG at the top of their team but rather the possibility of a team being crippled by having to many top SPGs is capable of happening. Since SPGs rely on allies to spot their targets and protect them by keeping enemies away it will make it very difficult if your team is handicapped this way since any intelligent enemy team will just bum rush and overwhelm your inferior tanks. Again, due to the craziness of the test server it is hard to tell if this will be a common sight or not. Hopefully there are restrictions in place to prevent SPG’s from taking up to many of a team’s top slots in random matches when it hits the live server.
Many tanks are getting premium shell reworks which sees both penetration go down and the price to go up. HEAT shells are hit hard by this since many(especially at tier 5 with the derp guns) are currently completely broken and have been for some time. HEAT shells are having their penetration numbers reduced by a decent amount to still allow them to punch through tough armor while removing the lack of needing to aim to damage stuff mentality. HEAT is also having it’s auto-bounce reduced(it was unable to bounce before) to 80 degrees which is not a huge change since it only hurts very poorly aimed shots. The change with tracks/spaced armor eating shells is emphasized in the patch notes and will make hitting these places much more difficult for HEAT spammers….but once again it only effects poorly aimed shots. APCR is seeing a normalization change from 5 degrees down to 2 degrees which might not seem like a great deal but it is similar to the amount of penetration HEAT shells lose.
Along with these changes most premium shells are having their costs raised to make them very painful to run financially. Currently with a premium account good players can run 20%+ premium rounds and either break even or turn a small profit in every match which is enough shells to deal with any difficult tank they will face that specific match. This price hike will make it nearly impossible to do this aside from premium tanks which will break even or turn a very small profit. The downside of all of this? Not all tanks are getting their penetrations changed for premium rounds and some “broken” tanks are being overlooked and will still remain broken albeit a bit more expensive to run in 8.6