[Sandbox] High-Explosive Shells Revision: Join the Testing!


The next iteration of shell rebalancing tests is just around the corner, and World of Tanks needs your help again! This time you have the opportunity to try out fundamental changes in the mechanics of dealing damage with HE shells. The testing will again be open to all tank commanders and will be held on the Sandbox server—join it and give us your feedback!

Why Rebalance HE Shells?

In the two previous iterations of Sandbox, we tested changes in the mechanics of the two main types of shells in our game—standard and special. We reworked the parameters of standard shells, after which the demand for special ones also changed. The main goal of these changes during the previous Sandbox testing was to make standard shells more popular than special ones, and to slightly reduce the effectiveness of special rounds.

These changes worked well, and now we are ready to take the next step towards the complete rebalancing of shells in World of Tanks, we need to rework HE shells. We couldn't leave them unattended, because such significant changes in the mechanics of standard and special shells would inevitably affect High-Explosive ones, too.

Moving Forward

Changes from previous Sandbox iterations (the revision of the standard shells and changes in the number of hit points for all vehicles in the game) worked well, and they will also be included in the next iteration, in which you can try out the new changes.

We're currently testing the mechanics for dealing damage with HE shells only for regular tanks. This does not apply to SPG rounds or HESH. We will test them in a separate iteration, but only if we receive positive results from the current Sandbox tests.

The mechanics of dealing damage with HE shells are perhaps the most complicated aspect of our game to understand. It consists of a large number of stages and takes into account numerous parameters for the calculation. Let’s take a closer look.

  1. The HE shell hits the armor, and the armor penetration is calculated depending on whether the armor is penetrated or not.
  2. If the armor is penetrated, damage from the full nominal damage is calculated.
  3. If the armor is not penetrated, damage is also calculated, but only from half the value of the nominal damage.
  4. Next, the damage application point is calculated. Simply put, a weak spot is chosen in the radius of the sphere where the damage is done.
  5. The value of half the nominal damage is reduced proportionally to the armor thickness and other factors at the damage application point.
  6. In addition, the damage calculation is affected by whether a Spall Liner is mounted or not.
  7. After all these calculations, we arrive at the total damage value.

But when we talk about calculations of this mechanic, most of the current aspects are outdated and don't match the current realities of the game. This doesn't allow us to fine-tune the effectiveness of HE shells for specific guns, and that’s exactly the aspect we want to change.

What Are the Current Issues With HE Shells?

Our players rarely use High-Explosive shells as standard ammo for reliably dealing damage. This mainly happens when playing on vehicles with calibers of 150 mm and above. For lower and medium ones, HE shells are often used to:

  • Reset the base capture progress
  • Finish off an enemy low on HP
  • Deal damage in a situation where it's impossible with other shell types

On the contrary, the effectiveness of HE shells on medium and small calibers is very low, and the use of HE rounds in the above situations doesn't guarantee a result. At the same time, HE rounds can cause huge damage to weakly armored vehicles, and very often this happens by accident, when you shoot without carefully targeting your enemy’s weak spots. The amount of damage is always different, and even an experienced player cannot predict it in each specific case.

Given all of the above, the main goal of the changes for us is to balance the effectiveness of High-Explosive shells for all guns and calibers existing in our game. We want to reduce the amount of total and alpha damage on large calibers from 150 mm and above, and to improve the performance of HE shells on lower and medium calibers in specific situations. How will we achieve this? Let’s take a closer look.

1. High-Explosive Shells Armor Penetration Removal

Yes, that’s right—we want to completely remove the ability to penetrate armor with HE shells. If the tests are successful, then HE rounds will no longer have an “Armor Penetration” parameter. Initially, High-Explosive shells had this characteristic to simulate HE damage mechanics in a more realistic way, but as stated above, HE shells in World of Tanks are almost never used for reliably dealing damage. Even with a skillful aim, penetrating and inflicting huge damage is not guaranteed. We want to avoid a huge spread in the final value of damage, when players cannot predict whether they will inflict a nominal value damage, a third of it or no damage at all.

2. Changing the Mechanics of Damage Distribution Over the Splash Radius

If an HE round didn't penetrate the armor, then the system started calculations according to the damage formula from 0.5 in the center to 0.05 at the edge of the splash. Put simply, when a High-Explosive shell doesn't penetrate armor in the current gameplay, half of the shell’s nominal damage is immediately deducted, and then the damage decreases depending on the distance to the center of the explosion. With the new mechanics, HE shells don't penetrate armor at all, which means that this method of calculation is no longer relevant. After the rebalance, the damage will be distributed over the splash radius, varying from 1 in the center to 0.1 at the edge. The full nominal damage of a HE shell will be used for calculation.

3. Nominal Damage Reduction

Given the above, such a high nominal damage inflicted by HE shells is no longer needed, and we'll significantly reduce it depending on the caliber of the gun.

The proportion of damage and the specific caliber will also change. Previously, the base damage for the highest calibers (150 mm and above) was truly great. Now the damage gain with increasing calibers will be smaller and more consistent.

Below is a table comparing old and new damage values for the main calibers in the game (parameters may vary depending on the individual tank or shell settings).

Caliber Old values New values
76 mm 156–260 55–95
90 mm 270–370 95–115
105 mm 360–510 130–180
120 mm 440-530 180-190
122 mm 450-560 180-190
130 mm 580–750 210–270
150 mm 890–950 320–330
183 mm 1750 480


4. Damage Decrease From the Center of the Splash

In the new system, damage is calculated from 1 in the center to 0.1 along the edge. The fundamental difference between the new system and the previous one is that splash becomes less “dense”: even at a small distance from the center of the explosion, the damage is greatly reduced. At the same time, it remains possible to cause low damage at the edge of the splash. The splash effectiveness will be reduced, especially closer to the center. Accordingly, HE rounds will cause lower damage to internal and external modules, as well as crew members.

5. Changing the Tracing Algorithm and the Minimal Damage

Damage dealt will be much more predictable, not only due to the removal of penetration, but also thanks to two other components:

1. Changing the tracing algorithm—finding points for causing damage to various armor groups, modules, and crew members. The current algorithm often "doesn't find" obvious weak spots, and HE shells may not cause any damage at all. The new algorithm "finds" the required points more often and more accurately than the current one. Simply put, the chance to "find" a weak spot in the enemy’s armor is higher and calculated more accurately, but the amount of damage dealt is much lower. The new algorithm is not fine-tuned yet, so it will be adjusted depending on the results of the upcoming testing on the Sandbox server.

2. The ability to inflict minimal damage due to the splash mechanics (more on this below). Damage done in this way will not be high, but in critical situations, it will increase the possibility of causing at least minimal damage (for example, to prevent base capture) to almost 100% (if you hit the armor or the module, thereby damaging it).

Below, under the spoiler, is more detailed information on how the new mechanics will work.

Splash Mechanics


Splash mechanics will include three components:

  • Shrapnel from the shell explosion
  • Spalls on the outer surface of the armor
  • Splash radius

Now more about each of them.

Shrapnel From the Shell Explosion

Shrapnel is formed by the metal jacket of the shell, when the explosion breaks it into separate pieces. They scatter around in a sphere and get stuck in obstacles. After rebalancing, fragments will scatter only to the first obstacle in their way—this is the key difference compared to the shrapnel acting according to the laws of the current mechanics. As a result, shrapnel cannot damage internal modules, except for vehicles with open cabins. Armor damage from this mechanic is absorbed linearly—the thicker the armor, the greater the absorption. For the player, this change means the exclusion of illogical cases of causing damage when, for example, an engine inside the hull catches fire after getting hit in the commander’s hatch.

Spalls on the Outer Surface of the Armor

Armor spalls are formed on the outer surface of the armor during the explosion of a High-Explosive shell. They are scattered on a conditional “cone” perpendicular to the armor. It doesn't matter at what angle the shell hits the armor. Spalls damage the armor and can damage the internal modules and crew members. Like shrapnel, spalls cannot penetrate obstacles. The damage from this mechanic is also absorbed linearly—the thicker the vehicle’s armor, the higher the absorption of spalls.

For most HE shells, all three mechanics work simultaneously, but can be configured differently. For each armor group, each module, and each crew member, damage is calculated for each mechanic (if the mechanics, in principle, can cause damage to a specific object).

Splash Radius

Unlike shrapnel and armor spalls, the splash radius is not shielded by obstacles. In this case, the damage is only reduced. Also, the splash radius doesn’t cause damage to crew members, and the armor absorbs it non-linearly (the thicker the armor, the greater the absorption, but the armor cannot completely absorb the damage from the splash). This is why HE shells will inflict at least minor damage on almost any armor.


What Will Happen to HE Shells After These Changes Take Effect?

  1. HE shells will do less damage on average per shot (up to 66–75% of the previous damage value).
  2. HE shells will do less critical damage to internal and external modules and crew members. It will be impossible to set fire to the engine if you hit the commander’s hatch.
  3. There will be virtually no cases when damage doesn't occur at all when a HE round hits the armor (excluding spaced armor). This will help to improve the “behavior” of HE shells, for example, when preventing base capture or finishing off an enemy with only a few HP remaining.
  4. HE shells will expand their scope of use. Now they will be effective not only at large, but also at small and medium calibers.
  5. Weakly armored vehicles will no longer receive such enormous damage from penetration. They will still take more damage than heavily armored tanks, but not 3 times more.

How Do We See the Use of the Reworked HE Shells?

We want to further increase the impact of situationality in the use of High-Explosive shells. In a nutshell, firing mainly with HE rounds will put you at a disadvantage. Instead, you should use them in the following specific game situations where they will be more useful than before:

  1. Resetting base capture progress. Now the chance to reset the capture is much higher.
  2. Finishing off opponents low on HP.
  3. Immobilizing enemy vehicles. For the reworked HE rounds, the chance of tracking or damaging an external module is higher.

Join the Test—Your Feedback Is Important!

Any progress made in the previous stages of testing will not be saved in this iteration of the Sandbox server.

Everything above is our working concept, ideas and suggestions. The final decision on making all the declared changes has not yet been made. We are waiting for the test results and look forward to your active participation, so join the open Sandbox test and share your feedback on the forum! Together we will make World of Tanks even more exciting!


Discuss on Discord