Movement skills, a good aim, a sharp eye... all key traits of a great player. But, an even better player will be able to adapt to specific situations at hand: to know what role to play, where to be and who to aim at. Please note that I will be writing from a 'selfish' perspective, to maximise your personal crystal and experience points income. Although Tanki can very much be a team game, and in many cases it may be moral and beneficial to help your teammates, ultimately you are playing for your own sake. You are aiming to win a team game and maximise your share of the loot, even at the expense of your teammates. Sometimes it may not be beneficial to heal your ally over attacking an enemy and restoring your own health.
In Deathmatches, the aim of the game is to secure kills. You get a single kill point for actually killing an enemy, regardless of the damage you did before. The crystal fund is divided among the players in an exponential way. That is, destroying twice as many tanks as another player will earn you more than twice the crystals he/she will get.
It isn't the damage that actually counts, but actually securing that last hit. What can we gain from this?
- Shooting at the heaviest tanks on the field isn't a good idea. Why shoot at a Mammoth when you can shoot at the fragile Wasps and hornets? Just statistically, it is more likely that you will get a kill from shooting a weaker tank.
- Freshly spawned tanks will have full health. Why waste your shots at it, when you can be shooting an already weakened tank?
- Especially with high damage weapons, such as Thunder or Railgun, you can often predict how many shots you need to finish off an enemy. So, often it is useful to bide your time and wait for an enemy tank to take a couple of hits before firing. For example, as a Railgun user, you might want to wait for an enemy Hornet to take a Thunder/Smoky hit, or a couple of Ricochet plasma balls, before firing your shot to secure the kill. This will be examined in detail a bit later.
- The distribution of the fund also raises another key point. You want to prevent any one tank from securing too many kills - you want all enemies to have a similar, low score, rather than one tank to have a very high score. This would reduce your share of the fund. Thus, when choosing who to shoot at, you might want to hit the tanks higher up on the leaderboard. Weakening them should improve your crystal reward.
When to Shoot
As aforementioned, the timing of your shot is important, since you want to be the one who fires the finishing shot. It is therefore extremely useful to know how many shots it takes to finish of an enemy, with both the weapon that you have and the other weapons.
For example, there are two Viking/Thunder tanks shooting it out against each other, and you are a third Viking/Thunder overlooking them. Shooting straight away wouldn't gain you anything, since you wouldn't get the kill! Since Thunder does 80 damage per shot, and Viking has 300 HP, you want to fire the fourth shot, as this would be the finishing shot. Waiting for them to fire of three each before shooting your shot would secure you not just one but probably two kills. While waiting, your shots can also be used against other tanks.
Of course, this is a very simplified example, and in a game there could be five or more tanks each shooting each other. Plus, it is difficult to judge damage and health due to MUs, paints and supplies. The better you know your weapon's damage and the more aware you are of the battle situation, the more likely you will be able to time your shot right to secure the kill.
Where to be
This depends very much on what kind of tank you are using. Clearly, camping with a Hornet/Freeze or aggressive play in the open with a Viking/Shaft isn't the best idea.
Who to Aim
From the scoring mechanics, we have already established that your chances of securing kills are better when shooting at weaker tanks, as well as tanks that have been out for a long time. But there are other cases where you may not want to shoot at a particular someone.
Allies can certainly help you on the field. Having an ally increases your security, both in the sense that there is one less enemy to worry about, but also because it means that together you can protect each other's back. But, you don't want to ally with everyone of course, and there may be a particular tank you want to befriend:
- Firstly, you must assess the benefit you can gain - how much of a risk does that particular tank pose to you? Does that tank have a weapon that my paint doesn't protect against? How good is that player?
- Secondly, don't forget that in return for the enemy not shooting you, you cannot shoot either. So how much do you lose out by not being able to shoot that tank? Does he have a light hull that I can destroy very quickly? Does he have a paint that protects against the weapon I'm using?
- Lastly, you must also evaluate how much that tank can gain from the alliance. Don't forget, you don't want one particular ally to rule the field. He might gain more than you from the truce!
- As a last pointer, making too many allies may leave you with too few options to shoot at. So, don't make too many!