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A guide to Smoky
Smoky - for some, it's sitting at Mk1 in their garages, collecting dust. For others, it's an essential weapon in their arsenal. We've all seen players using the rather unimpressive Mk1 Smoky-Hunters at low ranks. Most of us have seen powerful Mk5, Mk6, or Mk7 Smokies at high ranks. How do you use this turret effectively? This guide will grant all of the tips necessary to make the difference between a "poor man's last resort" or an "astute and calculating killer" impression on your foes.
The History of Smoky
In the early days of Tanki Online, before the rebalance and graphics updates, all players started with Wasp/Smoky. Smoky didn't have a critical hit at this time, and it was a Tier 1 turret alongside Firebird and Twins. It wasn't supposed to be equal to the Fear Machine (a.k.a. Railgun) in terms of power or effectiveness in battle, so it was left to abandon once players got their hands on the other weapons. When the Tier 2 turrets came along later, Smoky was outclassed even further with the introduction of Thunder, Freeze, Ricochet, Isida, and later, Shaft.
Enter the rebalance and graphics update. Smoky was granted its trademark critical hit, its appearance was transformed to the peashooter we know and love today, and the stats were changed to be able to compete with the other turrets. Coincidentally, instead of Wasp/Smoky, players started with Hunter/Smoky, a more universal combination. This version of Smoky is more similar to the current one than the very old one, but it had a key difference: critical hits with this version dealt an extraordinary amount of damage, far more than the one today. In addition, the critical hit probability was a truly fixed percentage, indicating that hitting a target multiple times did not increase the critical chance. This meant that it was possible to get two or more critical hits in a row.
Later, Smoky was changed once more to accommodate for other turrets effectivity. The damage of critical hits was reduced by a large amount, but the critical chance was increased. The ramp-up characteristics were also added here; the more shots you land on an enemy, the higher the critical chance. When you do get a critical hit, the chance is reset to a negative number, and you'll have to land a few more hits on an enemy to get the possibility of a critical hit back. These changes made Smoky a much more reliable weapon, but it reduced its overall potential power by a lot.
The Smoky we see today required one last tweak to the parameters. With the global update of 2016, Smoky's maximum damage received a boost, while the minimum damage was reduced further. This made Smoky a more variable weapon once more, dealing damage at various ranges that only grew with each modification level. Critical hits still ran on the consecutive-hit marker, but their damage increase from the maximum damage of a normal shot dropped to 9% extra.
Throughout Mk1-Mk7, Smoky retains some key characteristics:
- A fairly high rate of fire. While it's not as fast as Ricochet and Twins, it's certainly faster than Thunder, Railgun, and Shaft. The rate of fire increases significantly between Mk1 and Mk7.
- High impact force, or as many call it, knockback. It doesn't carry as much force per shot as Railgun or Shaft, but it's still high; an Mk1 Smoky has about the same amount of impact force as an Mk1 Thunder, and the same goes for its tier-three modification.
- Critical hit. Every time you hit a target with Smoky, there is a chance that your shot will be a critical hit. Critical hits deal roughly 9% more damage than a standard shot at maximum power. Every shot you land on a target will increase the critical chance. When you finally get a critical hit, the chance is set to a negative value, and you must land a few more hits before the probability is above zero and you can get critical hits again.
- Moderate rotation speed and acceleration, as is standard for medium-ranged turrets.
- Noticeable recoil. While it's not as much as Railgun, Shaft, or Thunder, it's enough to warrant caution when using it on unstable hulls, like Hornet or Wasp.
Pros and Cons
Fast rate of fire allows you to engage multiple enemies fairly quickly.
High impact force, combined with the rate of fire, allows you to mess up the aim of your target considerably with each shot. The Assault Ammunition alteration aids this drastically.
Critical hits are decently more powerful. If you have good luck, the damage per second can be high.
No self-destructive splash that Thunder harbors.
Smoky's unpredictability can be a strength. A weapon like Thunder is quite predictable in terms of damage; you will be able to estimate how much time you have until the Thunder destroys you, which allows you to plan ahead more. An enemy fighting a Smoky has no idea whether the next shot will be a deadly critical hit or a weak normal shot, which may make it harder for them to respond effectively.
The frequency of critical hits is largely due to luck. If you aren't lucky and don't get critical hits often, you will not be able to destroy enemies very effectively.
Standard damage and even knockback diminish over the range. Past its minimum damage range, Smoky is no longer an effective weapon, dealing 10% of its full power.
The knockback is not as noticeable against enemies with heavier hulls.
Now that we've gotten to know Smoky's stats better, let's see what hulls Smoky goes best on.
High risk, high reward. This combo can zip around the battlefield at lightning speeds. It's the best hull for circle-strafing and guerrilla tactics. The only weakness is, obviously, its low health. Since you won't last long by charging head-first into battle, try taking side routes and attack enemies from the side or behind. This is also difficult to master since if you want to take full advantage of Smoky's knockback, you need to aim very well, which is notably difficult when you're driving very fast. Excellent for capturing flags and attacking, but the low health means it's not the best midfielder or defender.
How it does under different scenarios:
- CTFs: If you want to go for the flag in CTFs, look no further. Keep in mind you will have low health; unless you're using supplies or the enemy team isn't very good, you should make sure your teammates back you up.
- DMs: Probably not the best combo for DMs. In deathmatches, there is an emphasis on survivability and firepower. While this combination doesn't lack in the firepower department, your survivability is not very good. If you can evade attacks, that's great, but in general, this isn't the best.
- TDMs: Wasp/Smoky is good for TDMs. Since you have teammates, your survivability is less of a concern. You can focus on using your speed and firepower to the best extent. Your speed will be less useful here, though, since there are no control points or flags to capture.
- CPs: Good if you need to get to a point fast, but not very good if you need to hold a point. Your high speed allows you to get to control points quickly, but if there are already quite a few people there, you might have issues in staying in one piece there for long. It'll work well on maps like Berlin, where there are many points and the enemy team can't defend all of them at once, but on maps like Polygon, where there is only one point, you likely won't get too far.
Wasp is quite unstable and light. While this means that it's easy to align yourself to the ground using recoil when making jumps, this also means that the recoil will move you more. This can be a detriment if you drive up a ramp and shoot perpendicularly to the direction your Wasp is facing; you will flip or become extremely unstable. In general, you should only fire in directions other than straight forward when your Wasp is firmly on the ground.
Not bad at all. Hornet has very good speed and more surface area for stability than Wasp, but it's not quite as maneuverable or fast. It's better than Wasp/Smoky for charging headlong into battle, but it's not as effective for harassing enemies thanks to its slightly lower speed and larger target zone. Otherwise, use similarly to Wasp/Smoky, both of them being light hulls and all.
How it does under different scenarios:
- CTFs: Good for flag capturing thanks to its high speed. It's not as fast as Wasp, so if you're aiming to capture a flag, Wasp might be more effective. If you're looking for a less expensive substitute, though, Hornet is certainly not a poor choice. Note the extra torque Hornet has to push aside enemies sitting on the flag.
- DMs: Probably a better choice than Wasp/Smoky, but still not the best. My comments about Wasp in DMs apply here; it's not very durable.
- TDMs: Pretty similar to Wasp/Smoky in this regard. It's a good choice if you like mobility and the properties of Smoky.
- CPs: See my comments for Wasp/Smoky in CPs.
Hornet is unstable on its port and starboard angles, but not to the extent of Wasp all-around. It's still worth using caution when firing in mid-air.
Balanced, versatile and powerful. This is the starting combination for a reason. Hunter has enough speed to keep up with most enemies and enough health to survive for quite a bit in heavy combat. Hunter/Smoky works best for either front-line combat or flanking; you're not going to get very far circle-strafing, but if your impact force is high enough with Assault Ammunition and Speed Boost active, you can most certain confound many attacks they may try to land. Hunter's rounded stats allow this combination to be used in defense, mid-fielding, attacking, and capturing flags, depending on what supplies are active (if any).
How it does under different scenarios:
- CTFs: Hunter is a jack-of-all-trades tank, and it really shows up in CTFs. While you can capture flags, defend, midfield, and attack with this combination, it's not the best in either 4 positions. The versatility is a strength, however; you can quickly switch from one role to another if the battle demands it, something the other hulls can't do as well. You can't have a Mammoth go from sitting on your flag to capturing the enemy team's flag in a moment's notice, after all. Overall, a very good universal tank for CTFs.
- DMs: This is a solid combination for Deathmatches. Hunter has enough health to survive effectively and enough speed to avoid being a sitting duck.
- TDMs: Again, a good combination here thanks to the aforementioned characteristics. Noteworthy of pegging close-ranged fighters that dare to invade your team's keep.
- CPs: Hunter's balanced stats really help out here. It can hold a control point quite effectively, thanks to its health, but at the same time, it has enough speed to reach said control points quite quickly. On maps with multiple points, Hunter/Smoky is still quite effective as a midfielder, keeping the pesky lightweights from holding ground on clusters of points for long. On maps like Polygon, which have a single control point, heavier hulls will be more effective, but this doesn't mean that Hunter/Smoky can't aid reclamation of the point at a moment's notice.
Everybody starts out with Mk1 Hunter/Smoky because of the many roles this combination can serve in. However, at Mk1, it's not very powerful, since Mk1 Smoky is not a very good weapon in general. From Mk3 and up, this combination reflects inverse properties, tackling opponents of all shapes and sizes with satisfying results.
How it does under different scenarios:
- CTFs: Viking's medium speed is not very good for capturing flags. It's better than Smoky-Hunter for defending and mid-fielding, but it's not as versatile. You'll do well in defending and attacking enemies, but don't expect to get far with the flag.
- DMs: Viking's balanced stats with a slight emphasis on speed lend it to do very well in Deathmatches.
- TDMs: Again, a good combination. Smoky does well when mounted on any hull in TDMs, considering all angles.
- CPs: Slightly better than Hunter/Smoky for holding multiple points thanks to its increased speed, but not as good for holding singular points. It'll do fine here.
At the Mk5 level, this is one of the best combinations with Smoky you will find, mostly because Viking Mk5 is exceptionally powerful and versatile.
Very powerful in the right hands. Dictator has a lot of health, as any self-respecting medium hull should, and while the speed isn't anything to brag about, this is one of the best combinations for mid-fielding and storming enemy bases. Great for defense, mid-fielding, and attacking. It's not quite champion when it comes to capturing flags, thanks to a combination of lower average speed than its medium brothers Viking and Hunter and an annoyingly obvious height. Long-range weapons might pose a threat, however, since it's easy for them to stay out of your range due to Dictator's rather slow speed.
How it does under different scenarios:
- CTFs: Not good for capturing flags, since the speed is mediocre for even a medium hull. Excellent defender and attacker.
- DMs: Dictator does not lack health, so this combination is very powerful in DMs. It does tend to attract quite a bit of attention, however, since it's large and somewhat slow. It's not quite a sitting duck, but keep an eye out for people going after you. If the terrain is divided into levels (e.g. Sandbox, the central areas of Esplanade, Brest), using your height to your advantage by taking the low ground and firing at opponents above is an excellent defensive option.
- TDMs: Again, good. It can hold its own without much teammate support thanks to its health.
- CPs: Not quite the best for maps with one control point, but still very effective nevertheless. It has enough health to stay alive in firefights around contested points, while still having some degree of speed. It's good for maps like Stadium, where the control points are relatively close to each other. The speed also comes in handy if you need to bail out of a control point that's being overrun; sometimes, getting out of there alive instead of holding it down to the last second can prove helpful.
Dictator can be somewhat awkward to drive since it has a rather unusual shape. If you want, driving with the hull's girth behind you instead of before is an option, potentially making it easier to drive and target oncoming opponents. Beware of light hulls slipping directly under your nose in this case, as downward auto-aim won't save you from being beaten to a pulp in those circumstances.
One of the most feared combos at high ranks. While it's quite slow, it can take massive amounts of damage while dishing out a lot thanks to Smoky. It can steamroll through enemy bases with ease. Watch out for Shafts and Railguns taking advantage of your limited range. Clearly an excellent defender, and it'll do fine mid-fielding. You might have problems attacking if there are long-range weapons around, though, so take heed of telltale signs and target appropriately.
How it does under different scenarios:
- CTFs: You should forget about capturing flags and focus on defending or assault. As a defender, it's great, since it can take a lot of punishment while still retaining a little bit of speed if you need to get just a little closer to your target to finish the job. As an attacker, it takes a while to reach your enemies, but if you can find your way into the enemy base, you can cause massive chaos.
- DMs: Excellent for DMs. You can crush almost anything in your way, but the low speed becomes a problem if Railguns and Shafts start locking onto you from long range. You can deal with that by either using a good paint or playing on smaller maps.
- TDMs: Satisfactory, as always. There isn't as much emphasis on defending in TDMs, however, so you should just attack.
- CPs: You can hold down a single control point for a long, long time with this combination. Titan's extra speed compared to Mammoth can come in handy if you need to get to a crowded control point as quickly as possible. Not that good on maps with multiple control points due to your low speed, but standing sentinel around a cluster of them prove effective of at least deterrence until specialized support arrives.
Excellent combination at the Mk5 stage. Both Mk5 Smoky and Mk5 Titan are unlocked at Colonel, and both can last you well into the Mk7 ranks.
Similar to Titan/Smoky in terms of role and use. Excellent for defending, but you're quite vulnerable to long-range weapons. It should be obvious by now that you're not going to capture many flags with this combination.
How it does under different scenarios:
- CTFs: Sit on the flag and defend; that's the best you can do with this combo. It's a really stellar defender, perhaps the best out of all the hulls here, but that's the limit of its abilities. For attacking, it's really slow, to the point where long-range weapons can take you out with ease.
- DMs: Great for DMs on small maps. On larger maps, you will be hit by long-range weapons, which you can't retaliate against effectively at the ranges they can flick shots at you from.
- TDMs: Again, good. Just slow.
- CPs: If you need to hold down a point at all costs, look no further. If you can get to a point, it's going to stay with your team for a long time. Hence it's good for maps like Polygon.
Nothing otherwise to note about this combination. It's pretty simple; point, shoot and hold fast.
Overall, Smoky is one of those weapons where there is no right or wrong hull to mount it on. It's mostly up to personal preference. If you were to ask me, I'd recommend Wasp, Hunter, Dictator or Titan for their respective characteristics, mentioned in detail above.
Smoky requires a lot of targeting skills and long-term tactics to use effectively. While you might be able to do pretty well with just point-and-shoot, you wouldn't be using Smoky to its full potential. Let's see what tactics or skills are effective with Smoky.
Circle-Strafing: This is quite simple, fun, and effective, but it requires a bit of practice to execute properly. In short, circle-strafing implies driving around your target in circles while firing your weapon at them. You can do this with almost any turret, but it comes in handy with Smoky and a handful of other weapons in particular. Circle-strafing, if performed correctly, allows you to evade damage for long periods of time since it's hard for your enemy to turn fast enough to aim at you. You'll have a pretty substantial window of time for Smoky to get a critical hit. In addition, Smoky's impact force allows you to disorient your enemy even further, making for an overall difficult time for an opponent. This tactic works best against medium and heavy hulls and is best performed with a light hull.
"Deflecting": Most people call this "messing up somebody's aim", but I think giving it a name would be better. This tactic is vital for your success as a Smoky. It's hard to master, but once you do, you can become a serious threat to the enemy team. In short, fire your Smoky at the corner of your enemy right before you think they're going to shoot; they'll probably miss since their aim will be shifted due to knockback. You want to fire at the corner of their tank because it's the furthest away from their center of mass; due to physics, their tank will be turned more by the force of the shot. However, it's not uncommon for a shot planted in the center of their turret to send their tank upwards slightly, sometimes allowing the shot to pass directly over you.
Deflecting works best against light hulls, since they're affected a lot by impact force. You can still pull it off against medium hulls; heavy hulls are very hard to deflect. This is the best counter to Railgun players since it's very obvious when they're going to fire.
Guerrilla Tactics: This is a blanket term for various tactics that will help you a lot if you're using Smoky on a light or medium hull. The first one you should know is flanking; if your hull isn't particularly durable, you should try to take side routes and attack your enemies from the side or behind. It will take a moment for your enemies to turn around and figure out what your position is. You should also know how to pop in and out of cover to attack enemies; because Smoky shots have a reload, you can afford to hide in cover between shots while still putting out a lot of damage. Also, remember this: retreat from battles you know you're not going to win. For instance, if you're using Wasp/Smoky, and a Wasp/Freeze is going after you, don't run straight up to them and fight. You should run until you're in a better position to deal with them. If you're skilled at fluidly driving forward with your turret behind you, you can even fight on the run and nail foes before they have a chance to engage you tread-to-tread.
- You'll find yourself delivering the killing blow on your targets with a critical hit often. Keep in mind that when this happens, your critical chance is now negative. You will not be able to get a critical hit on the next few hits, and if you immediately engage another enemy, it might be the difference between life and death. To remedy this, try using what I call "charging your crit chance". If you know for sure that your critical chance is negative, look for a few enemies at a long-range. When you find them (be careful if they're using Railgun or Shaft), fire a few shots at them. Your critical chance will increase to a positive number, giving you the upper hand the next time you engage an enemy. This works because your critical chance increases on hits to enemy targets; it doesn't matter how far away they are. Just don't fire too many, or you might waste a critical hit on somebody too far away to damage effectively.
- If you're engaging Railguns in combat, make sure you can time your deflections right. Deflecting works best if you can shoot them right before their shot fires; a skilled Railgun player might adjust their aim to hit you if you fire too early. Don't fire too late either, or you'll get hit. This takes some practice to accustom to.
- While deflections can seriously mess up the aim of a scoped Shaft at close range, don't just stand in place if they're looking at you. There's enough of a pause between shots that a good Shaft can still snipe you. Move out of their line of sight, since their rotation speed in sniping mode is akin to a frozen turret.
Smoky vs. turrets
This will help guide you on what to do if you're engaging other turrets in combat.
Firebird is a close-range powerhouse; its damage per second will turn anything in its way into a smoldering pile of metal. As a Smoky, you generally won't have the damage potential to run straight up to a Firebird and win. Firebirds are no problem to engage at medium range but don't ever let them get close, or you'll find yourself having a meltdown very quickly.
Freeze is also a powerful close-range weapon. The main threat Freeze poses to a Smoky user is the freezing effect; you won't be able to land hits on a skilled Freeze if you're frozen. So again, don't let them get close to you. Otherwise, you should be alright.
Isida isn't as powerful in terms of raw damage as its other close range brethren, but it's still not to be underestimated. Isida's self-healing is the major issue here; a respectable amount of damage dealt could be undone if the Isida can train its beam on you for the course of its lifespan. Compared to Firebird and Freeze, Isidas are less dangerous but more durable targets to deal with.
Twins are for close to medium range combat, just like Smoky. For the most part, you should hang behind cover and pop out to shoot, since it's hard for Twins users to deal much damage if you're not in their line of sight for very long. If they get too close for comfort, you should retreat, since their collective impact force can do a number on light and medium tanks comfortable with this tactic.
Ricochet is well known for its very high damage output. You won't win the damage race against a Ricochet user at close range. In general, deal with Ricochets like Twins users; duck behind cover and move out only to fire. Keep in mind that Ricochet's bouncing effect can hit you if you're not careful. Luckily, Ricochet has a limited supply of energy; if their ammunition supply is depleted or close to depleted, they will not be able to deal much damage to you. A Ricochet with no ammo is easy prey for Smoky.
Once in a while, you'll have to fight other Smokies. Smoky vs. Smoky combat generally boils down to luck and health. You can try deflecting their shots, but it's more difficult when both of you are trying to do that at the same time. In general, you should get up close and personal, since popping out of cover to fire isn't very effective if the other Smoky is reasonably skilled. Try mixing tactics mid-combat to confound opponents and cause them to rethink their strategies of engagement.
If you're reasonably lucky, Smoky's damage per second is higher than Thunder's at close range. To deal with these common medium-range turrets, get up close and personal. If you have a durable hull, you should win, unless the Thunder self-destructs. (Whether it's deemed a hollow victory or not is in the eye of the beholder.) If your hull is not very durable, you should either attack them when they're distracted or stay in cover and take potshots. Watch out for splash damage; a skilled Thunder can hit you even if you're not in their line of sight if there's a suitable prop behind or beside you.
Railgun is one of the most loved (or hated, depending on who you ask) weapons in the game. If you can master Smoky's knockback, Railgun users will become trivial at close range. It's commonly seen on light hulls (like Hornet), so most Railguns are easy to deflect. The charge-up time before a shot certainly makes it easier to mess up their aim as well. Hammer them with as many shots as you can when they're reloading.
Keep in mind that your Railgun-slaying abilities will only extend out to about medium range; at long ranges, Railguns will have the upper hand, since their impact force and damage output don't fade by the meter.
Shaft is awesome when you're using it and evil when you're on the receiving end of those high-powered sniper rounds. As a Smoky, Shafts will probably hand your posterior back to you at long ranges, since your damage and knockback become very weak. You start to become a true threat when you close in on them; Smoky's knockback can prevent a Shaft from even getting their cross-hairs near you. Shaft has a limited supply of energy, so ideally, you should start attacking them once they fire off a scope shot. It'll take a while for them to be able to shoot at you again, but be wary, as they could reverse-engineer your tactics and let your impact force shift their turret to face you directly.
For more information, check out the Pro's advice on Smoky in the Tanki Online V-Log here.