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The art of platooning

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The art of platooning

Post  IronClaw on Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:06 pm

As you might know from my application topic, I have very little experience in WOT-Platooning since I played only solo randoms so far. Ok, I did sóme platoons with my GF, but since she plays mostly arty she is grinding much higher matchtiers than I am in, so this was in total maybe 5 games. And those were scout+arty, which is pretty straight forward. I scout and try not to get killed, while she nukes stuff I spot. Razz

The past few days I've platooned with some of you guys and being ever-analytic and always wanting to approve, I'd like to ask some questions.

First off, my winrate with the platoons was only about 30% or so. This was only a total of maybe 15 matches, so too little to really say something. Furthermore, they were mostly played with tanks I only just bought over the x5 weekend, so they are either not fully upgraded yet and/or I am very inexperienced in them. It'll get better in time. But in some of the matches, I'm not sure if I/we did the correct thing in our platoons. I sure made some personal mistakes, but my question aimes more at platooning-tactics.
In all the matches, we stuck together as a platoon. Then we either chose one side to go on, or waited for the team to deploy so we could pick the most needed side. And of course there's malinovka's, where you don't have so many options anyway. I noticed two things that happened several times (and I think I know why, but feel free to correct my interpretations):

1) We chose a side without waiting for the team -> 80% of the team lemminged behind us.
I think this happens especially in matches where a lot of the team are average or less confident players. They see a platoon go one way and consider that the safest option, so they just follow.
This resulted mainly in the other flank being wiped and us losing the match.

2) We waited for the team, then picked the side that seemed to need our support the most -> Other flank wiped.
I noticed several times that by us choosing the "weaker" flank, that flank became a lot stronger, but left the other flank too weak. By using the XVM coloring system, this was easy to spot. We were the only 3 yellow/green players in our team. The flanks divide something like 3 - 6. We choose the "3" flank. Now the flanks are 6 - 6, but our flank has the only three "yellow/green" players, while the other flank is... well... deep red. This results in the other flank collapsing, and us getting raped from behind.

Of course, there's ways to "fix" these situations when they occur. A lemmingtrain can be pushed into an advancing rush over a flank. A weak flank can be reinforced if you notice it in time. But I felt that maybe I am lacking in understanding how to best use a platoon. So... after a lot of text (heh, you'll see more of that from me Razz ), my real question:

Can you give me some generic tips on how to behave in a platoon?
(And please don't answer with "it depends on the situation" Razz Wink )

Should we be sticking together? Should we deliberately spread out over the flanks to get a good balance? Should we tactically send 2 of the platoon on one side with the 3rd waiting to see what the team does? Or... ? Any tips welcome, as I sometimes I felt a little clueless in the platoon Sad
Nevertheless, it was great fun to platoon and I was impressed by my platoonmates so far. Really looking forward to the next ones!

P.S. My ISP seems a bit wonky the last few days, sudden packetloss-lagspikes. I hope it'll improve soon and in any case in a month or so I will get my fiber-to-home connection Smile
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Re: The art of platooning

Post  SteelToedSneakers on Fri Apr 19, 2013 10:33 pm

I'm not sure how to say this, so here it goes: it depends on the situation. Laughing

When we tooned, I recall we were three heavies. Not the fastest tanks, but with a real punch. Had we been three fast mediums, we could've easier gone between the flanks. (The KV-1S is a fast heavy, but when you're fixed, you can't just turn and leave the brawl without loss of health.) A light and two arty would've had other options.

When we tooned, we had really bad luck. My shots dinged, or missed, even when I was fully aimed. Normally, when I toon, I leave with between 60 and 80% wr.

EDIT: I was planning a longer reply, but I wrote this from the hospital, and the doctor came in. Anyway, the other guys have said most of what I wanted to say in the following posts Smile


Last edited by SteelToedSneakers on Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The art of platooning

Post  Ding760 on Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:02 pm

Hey Iron!

It's very nice to see someone so engaged with learning, please do keep asking questions and keep this up! Smile

The cases you've specified is quite common. Indeed, it is a bane of SGTA platoons that whichever flank we usually go on usually survives way past it's normal lifespan, while the other flank capitulates and in turn lose. 30% win rate for an SGTA platoon is horrendously low, usually you should be aiming for 60% at least. I'm gonna make this reply a bit of an assessment so please do not hate me for the possible long reading you will have to do D: I will list a few points I think is crucial then address your own personal case.

To set the standard, I won't merely tell you, I'll show you... it just so happens I have a SGTA platoon match lying around on YouTube and it exemplifies what a platoon really should do. I urge you to look at it in full, and pay particular attention to the chat (I never use TS in my platoons, all done in in-game text chat), it should give you a good insight into what is thought about.



I want to detail several points and you should note these points separately.

First point, in the video, you can clearly see that I was commanding and that my decision was never criticized or questioned, yes... I understand this might seem very authoritarian, but I believe a decisive platoon commander is imperative. As multiple commanders or 'equal-opinion' platoons usually end up confused and they might as well be playing individually instead of a platoon. Also, if you ever happen to be a commander of platoons, I must stress it is imperative you make it clear your platoon followers press or say something to acknowledge they saw your orders and understood, if they don't your plans fall apart. Hence you see 'Affirmative!' being spammed by Khul and STS (who were superb platoonmates btw!).

Secondly, which way you go at the beginning is not as important as what most people make it out to be. What is important however, is that you have a general plan AND that this plan can be changed easily to fit the situation. In the video, I went town side, this decision was not based on how many people were going town side (but it just so happens it made the flank about equal to the other flank...that was coincidental). It was instead based on my theory that IF something goes wrong on the town flank...the many buildings allow for easy cover and escape. While if we had went field side, if something went wrong and you were overwhelmed, that's the end of the game for you and your platoon. If you watch the video you can clearly see this decision saved our ass in the end, as the buildings and narrow lanes prevented an open assault which we would be vulnerable, and also the cover gave us more survivability in the face of being outnumbered 2 to 1. The secret is not merely just planning ahead, instead, the secret is planning ahead and CONTINUE to plan ahead even during the battle. I don't know how others do this, but for me, it's all about foreseeing what will happen 2-4 minutes from now and trying to create a tactic that will counter it, and you have to do this constantly, not only once after the 30 second timer.

Thirdly, I just wish to address a common mistake. As a participant in a platoon, selflessness is a must for everything to work out. If you were given an order, stick to it to the end. take a few shots for your nearly dead platoonmate. If you were too keen to keep yourself alive and forget about your platoonmates, then that's a fail platoon right there...or at least it won't be 80% win ratio effective.

Fourthly, unless told otherwise, do not travel too far away from your platoon. it's ok to break apart to flank an enemy who is 200m away, but if you are say... 400-500 m away from your platoon without consent of platoon commander, you might as well be playing a solo game. The only exceptions to this rule is if you were sniping at a particular tank while your platoonmates were going far away to flank that same tank. The logic behind this is simple, farther distance equals worse accuracy, in addition, when your platoonmates need power in numbers, you will be unavailable to help. This is perhaps the biggest reason how one platoonmate can let their entire platoon down, by travelling too far away to save them when they need him.

The above are essentially general tips for how to behave (or how to expect to behave) in platoons, these rules do not depend on the situation and is universal.

Ok so addressing your issues specifically...

Concerning your 'which flank to choose' issues, I've kinda addressed it already above. From the looks of it, I think the platoon tactics involved were too shortsighted. The decision on which flank to go was judged by numbers, but not by other factors, this is highly dangerous, as we know how our teammates can be very unreliable. Because of their unreliability, to make a platoon decision based on an unreliable source is in itself, unreliable.... I know this may sound very technical, but if you do think about it it is true. Example... you and your 3 man platoon join a force of 4 x 30% win ratio players on one flank only to find out you face off against 4 x 65% win ratio players, I dunno about you but I'd put my money on the 4 x 65% win ratio players. This example shows how misleading decisions based on numbers can be.

My suggestion is to make a decision based on geographical advantages based on the tanks you are using, and also include scope for changing the original plan later on. No plan remains unchanged during a battle, if you choose a side that is very exposed to enemy fire like the field on the East in Ensk, then you will be significantly reducing your chances of success. My theory in that replay was simple, choosing the side with the buildings allowed focus fire. If we burrowed ourselves into the building complexes (as we did), then even if the enemy travelled in a big pack, they will be FORCED to go in one-by-one into the building complex to kill us. You can bring me 15 x 65% win ratio players and I can have my 3 man platoon, but if those 65% WR player must go in one-by-one, my platoon will still wipe out all 15 of them, it's that simple. Having said that, there was a loophole in my plan, if the enemy focused on capping, then we would be forced to expose ourselves to them to decap them. But I saw we were outnumbered 2 to 1 and I knew the enemy will be tempted to kill us all...at least until we killed 3 of them to make the playing field equal.

Also, as regarding to which side to choose in the beginning, there is a third option. Many maps, even Malinovka, have not 2 but 3 routes of attack. The problem is the 3rd route, often the middle route of the map, is automatically disregarded because its usually very dangerous due to being flanked on both sides by enemies. Often when facing maps in close quarters such as Himmelsdorf or Ensk, I would often wait up to 2 minutes (!!!) at spawn before deciding which way to go. It's not ONLY important to see where your team goes, but also the distribution of the enemy team. Example, let's take Ensk again, if I see 7 enemies on extreme left flank and 6 enemies on extreme right flank, that would mean there are only 2 enemies holding ALL of the rest of the gaps in their defensive line. This situation is a god-send, and often it would be in the middle route. In these situations I would send my 3 man platoon in through the middle, ignoring ALL targets along the way until I've reached either a safe spot or near the enemy base. 90% of the time, we win when this happens.

Lastly, as another tip for you. It is fundamentally important to ALWAYS keep sight of your ENEMY'S objective. Sometimes it's not about winning... it's about preventing your team from losing -.-.... So it is really important especially in an Encounter Battle to stay relatively close to the cap. So you make sure you can disrupt or prevent enemy victory. Often when doing this, you attain victory for your team while all you wanted to do was prevent your own team from losing -.-

This post might be long...but I hope it helped Smile
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Re: The art of platooning

Post  Sapaki on Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:25 pm

One other little remark for me as well, when in platoon, depending on the situation we do not always stick together. Of course when we do we use some small scale tacticks (double gunning, switching front tanks, pinning and outflanking etc.).

Sometimes the battle, or our tank types require us to go on complete separate ways. In that case there is no small scale tactics involved, but a wider perspective of the battlefield. In this case we will know first hand what each flank is doing and maybe provide support before it collapses by switching from our own flank.

Voice-comms also help a lot in a platoon's efficiency, although it might not be necassary if one of the platoon members commands and the others follow orders. If this is not the case though the voicecomms is a must for coordination.
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Re: The art of platooning

Post  Vallu01 on Sat Apr 20, 2013 1:21 am

Lemmingtrains are not a bad thing, as long as they succeed. In tanks fit for aggressive play I usually take the side which I like to push or the side where the lemmingtrain forms. There's no point defending a flank alone when you're the bottom of the list, you will just die.

But yeah platoons. Don't trust the numbers like Ding said. It's about which tanks fight against which, the terrain, artillery, scouts, game mode, players alive, time, health left, who have key positions. Key positions are something that we usually try to take advantage of usually if possible.

Usually I end up platooning with the same people and we use TS and know each others playstyles pretty well. So we end up operating with a sort of "hivemind" while talking random stuff on TS with the occasional tactical stuff. Focus fire, pushing a risky spot, tracking, 'marking' low hp enemy (yeah right Laughing ), arty shots and possible spots, little things mostly. Most of this will become automatic, needing less communication more you play together. I play mostly t8+ so they gameplay is different to what you're used to or what Ding described.

Here's a video that I recorded live so you can hear our TS "communication", we tried to be bit more serious than normally...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYF_dc811MY

Notice how we automatically move to certain spots. Tier 9 match with Types, take the right flank and get behind the rock. Push on to the small hill after we are not useful behind the rock and 2 allies follow our example. I move more to the left because 1) I like that spot when there is no arty, good for hulldown. 2) To protect against flankers. 3) to keep enemies in crossfire.
No orders were give or big discussion, I just did it because it was the right thing to do at the moment and I like that spot. If nobody would go there at first one of us would relocate there eventually.

I move back to the others when I hear AMX is moving, top tier autoloader= priority target. Focusing fire. But we get overwhelmed by too many high tier tanks and pull back behind cover.
Again we spread around and watch each others back so we won't get flanked, while taking opportunistic shots. Notice how BoosB takes a shot(s) for me when my hp is low and he has enough to share. We and up dying eventually, but not after hurting technically far superior enemy force pretty badly. For example all us did more damage than the E-75 who was with us and had same opportunities to do damage. We usually have the mentality of "you gotta do all by yourself" and our tactics reflect that. After dying we proceed with after battle random conversation.

Not the greatest match, but one of the few ones I recorded live and where you can hear TS.

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Re: The art of platooning

Post  Guest on Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:03 am

The role of mediums in such conditions are quite simple. Punish enemies if they don't pay attention. While heavy tanks are the big bad bruisers that push forward, mediums are opportunists that punishes every tank hard if they ever expose their weak sides.
The tendency of high tier mediums are quite simple. They don't have the brutal firepower of a tank destroyer to take on enemies frontally, nor do they have the alpha/hp/armor the heavies have that makes them good at pushing, brawling and using terrain to strengthen their armor.
Mediums have more DPM than heavies, more mobility, but less hp and armor. That means if you go head on medium vs heavy, you're going to get wacked, not because the heavies deal more damage per shot or something like that, but their armor means if you face them frontally, you're going to have a chance to bounce in addition to that it increases your reload time simply because you have to aim for a longer time than they do (weakspot sniping).
Of course, this is made redundant with gold shells, but then you have the T57 whom is a combination of both firepower and armor.
In terms of platooning, it is important to select targets and focus on it. A platoon leader should ideally mark enemies for death, usually done by axle shooting the enemy to let allies rain hell upon them. A moving tank will spin in the direction you hit their tracks, so naturally if a toon leader sees an approaching tank, 1 shot, spin it, and follow up by allies firing at the axles for track + damage. Mediums having higher rate of fire than heavies excel at such tactics.
Spreading damage among platoon mates is also quite important, because a 1 hp tank still does as much damage as a full hp tank. However, this statement is overruses, simply because a low hp tank does not take risks and thus technically doesn't deal as much damage, but you get the point.
For medium toons facing heavy armor enemies, it is also wise to force the enemy into crossfires. A heavy tank cannot respond to two flanks at the same time and unlike medium tanks, they will find a hard time escaping due to their low agility whereas mediums just run away.
Also consider in triple toons, to have for example at the hill in phrokorovka or west flank of Lakeville, to have 1 forward spotter with two sitting back behind 25m rule bush camo. This removes the tedious and firepower sacrificing move of having to reverse before taking a shot and the move forward again, especially in tanks with poor aimtime, basically the two sitting back will protect the spotter.

When it comes to picking flank, ALWAYS pick an area where your tank has advantage! Don't go on hilly terrain with an IS-3 just because your teammate T32s went into city, instead find areas where you get an advantage against an incoming horde.
This can be applied to Ruinberg for example, if you see your teammates lemming to the city, don't be a jackass that runs to the village, gets pwned, and blames the team for being lemmingtrain. Instead, find the hull down covers in the city and cover cap zone from there where your tank has an advantage.
For autoloaders, always setup ambushes or attack lone enemies. Find a position where you can easily run away from after firing a salvo, such as a street corner, or pick lone enemies that are busy with allies. The worst thing to do as an autoloader is to run into a group of enemies, as they will toast you, whereas tanks like E-100 can tank a beating even against several foes.


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Re: The art of platooning

Post  IronClaw on Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:07 am

Wow, great replies!

A lot of useful information and it will take quite some practice I think to master all that information flow during a match. Very nice video, liked the "ambush" at the end.

I'l re-read it all again a bit later Very Happy
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