When Damage Per Minute is Important and When it is Not

Scratching The Surface

A term thrown around by many in World of Tanks is damage per minute(DPM) and how some tanks have “insane” amounts and break the game while others lack it and are useless.  While DPM is an important stat it is not as important as one might think.  Think of a battle in World of Tanks and also of how many times you have fired continuously for a full minute.  A full minute in World of Tanks time is an extremely long time to be firing uninterrupted(aside from SPGs if they do not need to re-aim) and is not something you would expect to happen.  There are also variables such as needing to wait for shots to fully aim, actually moving your gun to aim at shots(tougher for high RoF guns), tanks using cover between reloads(helps low RoF guns), and armor deflecting shells. 

With the amount of variables in the game that can decrease any tank’s damage per minute the realistic DPM numbers for a tank are usually quite lower.  Generally a tank with a higher rate of fire will actually suffer more so than a lower rate of fire tank in most scenarios unless it is set in a place with no cover whatsoever.  

Note that tanks such as auto-loaders like the T57 that have great burst damage with it’s multiple shots as well as a short reload time(giving it good DPM) are not covered by this article.  Other tanks such as the Waffenträger Auf E 100 or Foch (155) also skew things since their auto-loaders(especially the Waffenträger Auf E 100) are completely ridiculous with their initial burst damage.  Auto-loaders like both of these cases do massive amounts of damage when compared to their peers and hence why they are considered to be “broken”, overpowered, and are changed often(nerfed).

Diving Deeper into Damage Per Minute

One factor that is often left out of the equation for damage per minute arguments is the “first shot” or pre-loaded aspect of a tank.  Basically, a tank will sometimes(especially at the start of a skirmish or match) already have a shell loaded when it comes to face to face with an enemy.  This scenario also hurts tanks with a higher rate of fire in most cases since that trait usually comes with a lower damage per shot value(alpha).  This is because the tank with a higher damage is able to start out ahead of the lower damage per shot tank who has to catch up.  Most tanks that rely upon DPM/RoF can catch up to tanks that rely on high damage per shot in the same tier in roughly 20-30 seconds.

While 20-30 seconds is not a very long time is does prove to be valuable to those tanks with a very high amount of HP and/or armor.  Since these tanks can get in more damage upfront(if they are pre-loaded) they can win battles against opponents with a higher amount of DPM if that armor/HP difference is utilized.  This aspect is ignored by many and “stat analyzers” that tell you how well you are playing since primarily they focus on doing damage and destroying tanks.  Tanks that have high HP pools and less DPM can usually stand up to their higher RoF peers due to the HP gap alone before you factor in armor and other variables.  

Take for example the STB-1 versus the Maus.  These values take into account ideal set ups where each tank has Brother’s in Arms, Ventilation, and a Gun Rammer. The Maus will be the green values while the STB-1 will the the orange-ish values.

Maus versus STB-1

Damage Per Shot: 490 versus 390

Reload Time: 12.29 seconds versus 6.60 seconds

Rounds Per Minute: 4.882 versus 9.091

Damage Per Minute: 2,391.18 versus 3,545.49

Damage Per Second: 39.869 versus 59.092

Health Points: 3,000 versus 1,950

Now at first glance you will see that aside from the damage per shot and HP values the STB-1 easily outclasses the Maus in every other category.  While you can deduce the amount of time it takes the kill one another based off of these stats you must also take into account whether the tanks are pre-loaded when they see one another and also the true reload times.  A tank simply cannot fire off mid-reload and do damage and must wait for the full reload time to pass.  This hurts tanks with a slower rate of fire if there is no cover to hide behind since the time between their shots is much greater and leaving a low HP enemy for a longer period of time happens.  Below are the values for how long it takes for each to kill one another taking into account pre-load/no pre-load and also the actual reload times.

Maus destroys STB-1 with pre-loaded shell: 37.17 Seconds (1,960 Average Overall damage)

Maus destroys STB-1 when without pre-load: 49.46 Seconds (1,960 Average Overall Damage)

STB-1 destroyers Maus with pre-loaded shell: 46.20 Seconds (3,120 Average Overall Damage)

STB-1 destroys Maus without pre-loaded shell: 52.80 Seconds (3,120 Average Overall Damage)

As you can see the Maus actually wins in a head-to-head fight against an opponent with a massive damage per minute advantage over it in both scenarios.  When both tanks are pre-loaded before they meet the Maus will destroy the STB-1 in 37.17 seconds while the STB-1 would take 46.20 seconds to destroy the Maus.  When both tanks are not pre-loaded before they meet the Maus would take 49.46 seconds to destroy the STB-1 while the STB-1 would take 52.80 seconds to destroy the Maus.  While these numbers will not always be the case since there are many scenarios it shows that a tank isn’t always about it’s damage potential but rather about the overall package.  The STB-1 could use it’s mobility to lower the Maus’ damage potential greatly or the Maus could bounce/miss more shots than the STB-1.  On the other hand the STB-1 could miss/bounce shots on the Maus’ excellent armor or the Maus could hide behind cover to hide it’s longer reload.

So when comparing tanks on how useful or effective they are you should look deeper than just potential damage and/or DPM.  The Maus is considered by most useless when it comes to damage and it’s gun since at tier 10 it has horrible damage per minute when compared to other tier 10 tanks.  The STB-1 on the other hand has an “insane” amount of potential damage per minute and is much more well received due to this.  The HP and armor values of the Maus make up for the lack of potential damage it has while the STB-1’s lack of stats outside of mobility which doesn’t provide protection and it’s gun hurts it’s capability to take on a Maus.

Tanks That Do Poorly Against High DPM Tanks

One last topic to cover is a tank that neither has great DPM, average damage, or HP over a tank with a high amount of DPM.  I will use the IS-7 which is a tank that does not specialize in any one area but rather has a decent amount of armor, average HP values, slightly above average alpha damage, and an average DPM value.  Below will be the IS-7 versus the STB-1 with the IS-7 using purple values and the STB-1 remaining orange-ish.

IS-7 versus STB-1

Damage Per Shot: 490 versus 390

Reload Time: 11.30 seconds versus 6.60 seconds

Rounds Per Minute: 5.310 versus 9.091

Damage Per Minute: 2,601.90 versus 3,545.49

Damage Per Second: 43.365 versus 59.092

Health Points: 2,150 versus 1,950

Unlike the Maus the IS-7 only has 2,150 HP which is only slightly higher than the 1,950 value the STB-1 has.  The IS-7 keeps the 490 damage per shot which is slightly ahead of the STB-1 at 390 damage per shot.  In all other areas the STB-1 easily takes control and outclasses the IS-7 when it comes to damage per minute.  The IS-7 does not have a huge advantage over the STB-1 in other areas such as HP like the Maus did which puts it at a disadvantage.  The Maus had something to prop it up against the much higher damage per minute of the STB-1 while the IS-7 chooses to be only slightly better in other areas.  While the IS-7 can take advantage of hiding behind cover to cover it’s longer reload and using it’s armor to deflect shots it has a more difficult time doing this and still doing maximum damage.

IS-7 destroys STB-1 with pre-loaded shell: 33.90 Seconds (1,960 Average Overall damage)

IS-7 destroys STB-1 when without pre-load: 45.20 Seconds (1,960 Average Overall Damage)

STB-1 destroyers IS-7 with pre-loaded shell: 33.00 Seconds (2,340 Average Overall Damage)

STB-1 destroys IS-7 without pre-loaded shell: 39.60 Seconds (2,340 Average Overall Damage)

As you can see here the IS-7 has lost the advantage of having a higher damage per shot gun since it does not make up for it enough in HP over the STB-1.  When pre-loaded the STB-1 will destroy the IS-7 in 33 seconds while the IS-7 will destroy the STB-1 in 33.90 seconds.  When the tanks are not pre-loaded it gets even worse for the IS-7 since the STB-1 can destroy it in 39.60 seconds.  The IS-7 on the other hand can destroy the STB-1 in only 45.20 seconds.  Remember that while these numbers do not take into account the armor advantage the IS-7 has it also does not take into account a slew of other variables that favor either tank.


Don’t get me wrong thinking that I think that damage per minute is an unimportant attribute of a tank.  This article’s purpose is to show that rather than being blinded by a tank’s damage potential and specifically it’s damage per minute you should take into account other attributes.  Such things like HP, armor, mobility, gun depression, view range, size, and countless other stats all play a role in determining whether a tank is good or not.  Generally tanks that suffer in DPM but make up for it with a high amount of armor and/or HP stand up very well in fights even when they are outclassed damage wise.  However, as you can see with the IS-7 when you have a tank that is outclasses DPM wise against a tank and does not make up for it greatly in specific areas will suffer greatly.  While those higher values across several areas for the IS-7 when it comes to armor, HP, damage per shot against the STB-1 can prove to be valuable it still does not save it from being torn to shreds nine times out of ten.

13 Comments on "When Damage Per Minute is Important and When it is Not"

  1. missingturret | March 31, 2014 at 5:16 pm |

    One other aspect to be considered here – player skill and what I like to call “risk-per-shot”. High alpha guns (e.g. BL-10) tend to be slow reload weapons; while they can really cut opponents in half when they hit, miss the shot, and you cannot reply to attacks for 20-30 seconds. Thus, you have to hit your shots – missing takes a huge chunk of time to recover from.

    High ROF guns, while generally low alpha, permit you to miss a shot and not suffer too greatly – its not long till the next shot is ready.. for relative noobs who hit <60% of their shots (like me, even with 0.31 accuracy guns…), that means the rapid fire spitball guns like the 75L70 can work almost as well as slow reload 105s 3 tiers higher…

    That said, those big guns, well used, seem to kill & win more. Hence, the imperative to hit your shots. Maybe this is something for the future, but is there a chance to go over some intermediate to advanced principles for accuracy in firing (beyond the "101 level" stuff)?

    • I plan on doing more specific tactic guides like you mentioned. Currently setting up a few new areas on the website so I have areas to expand in that regard.

  2. missingturret | April 1, 2014 at 3:58 pm |

    awesome thanks! 😀
    Much appreciated as always!

  3. Nice work here, that’s very well thought out.

  4. You’re bringing up a good point but evaluating it incorrectly, I think. If you take the same amount of time and care aiming your shots, all things equal, you will miss the same proportion of them. What is crucial is that with 15 seconds reload time, you have the time to aim carefully; with 3 seconds, not always – as soon as you start to do that, you’re cutting into your own DPM. This is why the slower alpha guns have the advantage that Cody alluded to early in the article – they require less aiming time per minute, and can achieve excellent risk-per-shot ratios. Reducing the risk-per-shot to the same level on the fast ROF gun unacceptably lowers DPM.

  5. I like the direction Sugata is taking, but I think there is a fundamental error in the approach. The risk portion isn’t defined by your reload time so much as your aim time. The tanks with the lower aim time will have the advantage in risk v reward rather than reload time. A tank with a long aim time but high alpha might not compare as well to an auto-loader or high dpm vehicle. You also need to take mobility into account to adjust for the ability to retreat back into cover and into firing position.

  6. Well, there are a lot of factors to favor tanks with a shorter reload/better aim time and also a longer reload/longer aim time. It’s impossible to factor all of these into an article without it being impossible for anybody(including the author) to read. The main thing this is trying to get across is that the current thinking of many that tanks are solely dependent on damage values should be reworked.

    • missingturret | April 10, 2014 at 10:56 am |

      …unified theory of damage dealing = f(alpha damage, aim time, reload time, cover distance, mobility, remaining HP, arm player accuracy, play style, gun accuracy, RNG) … don’t ask me to calculate the relation of all the variables LOL
      In all seriousness, you are right – the comments refer to a much bigger can of worms than the article broaches… That said, it would be a fairly interesting, if huge, discussion… Should you choose to broach that topic, how can we help?

      • Well, I’ll see if I can come up with something based on the formula you put up when I have time next and see if I can write another piece about the subject. I could always post a topic(or someone else wanting to expand upon it) on the official forums to start a discussion about it. Next time that I have some “free” time won’t be until next week with my current schedule.

  7. missingturret | April 10, 2014 at 10:56 am |

    *** correction to formula LOL
    f(alpha damage, aim time, reload time, cover distance, mobility, remaining HP, resistance to damage, player accuracy, play style, gun accuracy, RNG)

    • Came up with this the other day. Going to do a follow up post sometime soon.

      (Alpha*1.25) + (Damage Per Minute/4) + (Health Points/4) – (Accuracy*100)

      With this formula we get these results that back up the findings I had in this article.
      Maus: 1,905
      STB-1: 1,826
      IS-7: 1,762

      The formula takes into account the first shot(and gives it a small boost since higher alpha is important here), damage per minute, and health points on similar footing since the three are important. Then accuracy is taken into account since it does play a small role since it does effect the outcome of skirmishes but in the end the accuracy difference isn’t huge between most tanks so it isn’t *as* important.

  8. Rogue_Phoenix | April 24, 2014 at 5:45 pm |

    What jumps off the page at me is how huge a difference a 2nd gun makes in your formula.

Comments are closed.

Translate »