Armor Weapons (Part 1)
Posted by Pepin the Short - 05th January 2014
This post is not going to become a laundry list of the damage and velocity values associated with shells and cannons available to the armored ground vehicles; if you're after that sort of thing, it can be found on our page for vehicle stats. Our purpose today is to help make sense of some of the numbers, and explain things that are not captured by statistics alone.
There are a lot of vehicles to consider, and, unlike in previous posts, we cannot generalize; while armor properties may be the same among IFVs and MAAs, it goes without saying that the weapons are not. This will be a two-part post.
Main Battle Tanks
The primary and secondary weapon slots for the MBTs should generally be considered in terms of anti-vehicle and anti-infantry purposes. The three primary shells seem like a straightforward trade-off between damage and velocity, but there is nuance there. The Sabot shell, which intuition would dictate does the least damage, actually performs the same against armored vehicles as the Armor Piercing shell. The caveat is that, of the three shells, only the AP can kill infantry with splash damage. This means that the High-Explosive shell, which does do increased damage against tanks (between 20% and 25% more, on average), also cannot kill infantry with splash damage alone.
In fact, the sabot shell has higher blast damage against infantry than the HE shell, despite the Battlelog description of being "without an explosive payload," though it does have a smaller blast radius. Of the three primary shells, therefore, only the AP shell can be considered an effective anti-infantry weapon; the HE shell deals greater damage against vehicles and the Sabot shell is significantly faster, and therefore more accurate. The thing to consider, therefore, is at what range will you typically be engaging enemy armor, and whether or not you can trust your teammates and gunner to handle stray infantry targets. As a general rule, however, there are few, if any situations where HE shell has any advantages whatsoever.
The tank's secondary weapons are primarily anti-infantry, though two, the Guided Shell and Staff Shell, offer an expansion of your anti-vehicle capabilities. The Guided Shell is most effective when your teammates (or your gunner) is laser-designating targets, as it is possible to hit targets on which you do not have a direct line-of-sight. On the other hand, the Staff Shell functions more like the MBT LAW, with reasonably low velocity, auto-lock, and constant damage regardless of side. There are circumstances in which the Staff Shell can dole out more damage than the AP or Sabot shells, but that makes for an alarmingly narrow set of circumstances. The true power of the Staff Shell is in its ability to hit a target that is behind cover; when fired directly over the enemy vehicle, the auto-lock will guide the shell to its target in circumstances where a conventional shell would not be able to hit.
A note; there is, at present, a glitch that permits one to rapidly fire the main shell and the Staff Shell in quick succession, in a fashion unlike any other combination of shells, potentially doubling the damage output of a tank. This can be a difficult trick to perform, and it is not yet clear if it is working as intended or has a patch forthcoming. It should not be considered when choosing a tank load out.
The remainder of the tank's secondary weapons are explicitly for anti-infantry purpose, though some are capable of damaging light vehicles. Of these, only the LMG and HMG are capable of permitting the tank to output a constant stream of damage, as the Canister Shell cannot be fired if the main cannon is reloading. The Canister Shell is a powerful anti-infantry tool, but its usefulness is limited severely by its range and reload. Its effective range is well within the jurisdiction of suicidal Recons with C4, and the three-second reload makes engaging multiple targets difficult.
As far as the LMG and HMG go, the trade-off is primarily in terms of damage versus rate of fire. The HMG does considerably more damage than the LMG (two to three shots to kill as opposed to five to seven), but has less than half the rate of fire, so every shot counts. The HMG can also fire for a longer period of time before overheating as well, despite the fact that it has a slightly higher damage output per second. The LMG is easier to use, but, for the experienced user, the HMG is the superior choice.
Infantry Fighting Vehicles
The IFV's weapon model has a certain degree of diversity. Both primary and secondary weapons have their uses against both infantry and vehicles, and so one must take into consideration the likelihood of encountering vehicles on any given map when choosing an IFV load out. The HE Shell and the Canister Shell are the most useful against infantry, but, for the reason of range, as well as the fact that the Canister Shell cannot damage armored vehicles at all, the HE shell is generally the superior (or at least the more versatile) choice.
The awkwardly-named APFSDS-T is an ineffective anti-infantry tool, with a uselessly-small blast radius and damage, but superior velocity and between a 20% and 30% higher damage output against armored vehicles, it can be more useful in engagements against armor. As a general rule, however, the 25mm HE shell has the widest range of capability, and is the best choice in any arena where your role as the IFV is uncertain.
For the IFV's secondary weapon, one has the choice of the LMG (which functions identically to the LMG on the MBT), Zuni Rockets, or a TOW Missile. The LMG is the default choice, but, even with the APFSDS-T shell, the LMG effectively nullifies the IFV's role in vehicle engagements. The TOW missile, though slow, is the most powerful anti-vehicle weapon available to the IFV, capable of both disabling a vehicle's mobility with a proper hit and of locking onto laser-designated targets. The Zuni Rockets, on the other hand, are somewhat trickier. Though an IFV with 25mm HE Shells and Zuni Rockets can output approximately the same damage per time as one with HE Shells and the TOW Missile (and the panic factor of being constantly barraged by explosives is not to be underestimated), every Zuni Rocket must hit the target for it to do so. On the other hand, the Zuni Rockets are as powerful an anti-infantry tool, if not more so, than the 25mm HE shells. The choice between the TOW Missile and Zuni Rockets, therefore, comes down largely to personal preference and play style.
The next blog post will discuss the weapons available to the Attack Boats and the Mobile Anti-Air. Again, if you're curious about the exact numbers involved here, feel free to check out the vehicle stats page, or, if something there is lacking, drop by our forum and bring it up.
Pepin the Short