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Guide to Thunder
"A great choice for mid-range battles. Rounds from Thunder explode on impact and damage everything within their blast radius. This makes it risky to use at short-range as it may inflict self-damage. Goes well with any hull." -Garage description
Thunder has always been a dynamic and powerful weapon, and as such, a rather popular one, too. While it doesn't sport a bevvy of unique features in relation to its mid-ranged cousins Smoky and Hammer, it does lay claim to its fame through the powerful effect of its explosive projectiles. Not only does the shell deal considerable damage to the item of collision (most notably, another tank), but it also bursts into a cloud of shrapnel that can cause less significant damage to other tanks within a predetermined range. This can be utilised in a variety of manners to control the movements of your opponents. However, the splash damage also damages your own tank should you be too close to your target, thus, stratagem for Thunder users mostly involves keeping enemies at a distance. On the other hand, a shot thrown too far won't deal as much damage as it would at closer range, keeping Thunder situated comfortably as a mid-ranged weapon: no more, no less.
A weapon that can damage itself easily if unwary, dish out lots of damage quickly, and act as a pivot point for crowd control requires a method of keeping itself alive. Can you name a better option for a weapon like this than an extra life? Thunder's consistent rate of fire means that its damage output is essentially doubled when using one of these at the right time.
If you're forced to engage in close-range combat (say, a Wasp/Firebird is attempting to climb up your tailpipe and you need to fend them off), then this is the best method of passive self-sustenance that the 1-6 keys can offer. As Thunder is a more-than-decent defensive weapon in team-based competitions, it can use this to easily guard a flag from any daring invaders.
This, without a doubt, is the supply most used by Thunder users. At M4, a Thunder deals upwards of 1000 damage per shot, every 2.4 seconds. Few tanks can stand such firepower for any period of time, lest they have respectable modules. However, if possible, try to avoid taking on enemies at close range with this active, since this is the antithesis of survival with splash damage accounted for.
For Wasp or Hornet/Thunder users, this is one of the most heavily favoured supplies for slipping behind enemy lines and swiping flags in CTF mode. Brief muzzle flash and no shell path trace means that this rarer breed of tankers can use bushes to dodge shots and move from place to place quickly.
Very useful for Thunder users that crossed blood somewhere with a cave dweller in their family tree. Mines are a great way to guarantee that nobody can get close to your hiding spot, especially in DM mode. An alternate use: when cornered/chased by an enemy, who will come very close in order to use your own splash damage against oneself, back up, while placing a mine. It will usually force the enemy to back off, giving you valuable escape time, or even kill the enemy. Going around a corner while doing this can prevent the enemy from seeing your surprise, which may lead to them running over the mine. A shot or two will then finish them off with little to no trouble.
A general piece of advice on maps: medium to large maps are best suited for Thunder; too large, and the range penalty for damage will lead to one dealing virtually no damage; too small, and be dominated by short-range/medium range turrets.
Thunder can be quite useful here, given its high damage rate and splash damage, which can affect multiple foes. Useful for kill stealing; shoot at weak hulls and damaged enemies first. For example, if a Railgun hits a light hull, one shot by a Thunder will likely finish them off. In addition, it is best to find a camping spot, as Thunder generally does abysmally at close ranges. Protect the camping spot with mines, if you have them, and pick off short range turrets that approach the camping spot from a distance - Ricochet, Twins, Isida, Firebird, and Freeze users are priorities. Be wary that self-destructing subtracts one kill from your counter.
Capture the Flag (CTF)
Generally, Thunder is not considered one of the better weapons to attack the enemy flag. Due to its self-damage, you may be unable to flee while finishing off pursuers. Rather, if it proves imperative to attack, it is better to pick off the defenders at a distance, then charge in and take the flag. Still, Thunder is better used in the midfield - finishing enemies that venture into the middle.
Control Point (CP)
On maps with one point, such as Polygon, Thunder can rack up incredible amounts of damage, with its splash damage and all the targets clustered in the centre. It is generally a good idea to stand by the side, perhaps using hit-and-run techniques to kill enemies in the centre, then moving the center to capture the point. If trapped in the centre with multiple enemies, if your team has more players in the centre, it is best not to shoot, as your tank will be destroyed sooner. If there are more enemies that allies, it would be advisable to shoot, as the enemies will likely capture the point anyway.
Team Deathmatch (TDM)
Thunder proves to be quite useful for TDM. The splash damage can affect multiple enemies, allowing for fast experience. Yet, be wary of damaging yourself; it is best to avoid self-destructs, as that deducts one point from the team's score counter. However, if cornered on the brink of destruction by a weakened opponent, accept the penalty and kill both the enemy and oneself; this will not change your team's score. Else, the opponent's team will gain score relative to your own team.
Techniques every Thunder user should know
Turning the turret
Self-explanatory; use the Z and X keys to rotate the turret, and the C key to centre the turret.
Using the splash damage
- When an enemy is pushing against your tank, it may be more advisable to shoot a nearby wall than to shoot directly at the enemy, as to inflict less self-damage. If you can, try rocking your rank to shoot the ground directly behind or adjacent to your opponent.
- When an enemy is hiding around the corner, injuring them is a simple matter of shooting a wall, which will deal damage to the enemy if they're close enough.
Tilting is a simple-to-learn technique that allows you to damage other tanks that are at a different elevation from yourself. Tilting takes advantage of the auto-aim mechanism, which allows the turret to target enemies that are below and above it in accordance to their individual auto-aim statistics. By moving your tank backwards and stopping suddenly, the turret's angle in relation to the plane of the ground changes from the usual 0° to perhaps 10° or 20°, depending on the hull. This allows auto-aim to target tanks that are at ever greater elevations with respect to yourself. Moving forward and stopping drops the angle to around -10°; this allows auto-aim to target foes that are at lower elevations. Tilting forward also allows you to shoot the ground. Where walls are not available for using the splash damage, shoot the ground close to a hidden enemy; this will damage them if they're in the vicinity of the blast.
Hide behind an obstacle, and pop out once your shot has reloaded and then shoot the enemy. Withdraw and repeat. Effective against turrets with higher firing rates than Thunder (Smoky, Twins, Ricochet, occasionally, Hammer), since they require constant exposure to deal damage effectively.
Light hulls - Hornet, Wasp
Hornet/Thunder is a rather common combination, and for good reason - in the right hands, it can be deadly. Hornet is quite stable considering that it is a light hull, allowing for accurate aiming. The speed allows one to escape approaching enemies and suffering self-damage. The downside: less health and still fairly unstable in the face of enemy fire.
Wasp/Thunder is vastly rarer than Hornet. Perhaps it is due to the inherent instability present in the combination; aiming is difficult while on the move, and you can even flip yourself -- there's a reason this tank is revered by aspiring and veteran parkourists alike. Still, Wasp proves to be even more effective at escaping and avoiding enemies than Hornet, if only due to its size and slightly higher speed.
Medium hulls - Dictator, Viking, Hunter
A large target, but still sporting a considerable amount of health. Reasonable speed can be used to escape some enemies, and pursue most targets. Height allows Thunder to auto-target victim's turret, which can throw off a Railgun shot. However, Dictator's volume makes it somewhat unstable under enemy fire, and it has a blind spot - small hulls can avoid a shot by pressing against the turret-mounted end of the Dictator. With a bit of tilting instilled, this can be a prominent threat to unbalanced hulls.
A far smaller profile than Dictator, but also has reasonable amounts of health. Slightly faster, allowing for more mobility; better for escaping/pursuing. No blind spot, and far more stable. Harder to utilise tilting due to its shape.
A middle ground between Viking and Dictator in terms of speed and power. Fairly stable, can turn well, but doesn't sport any real advantages over its siblings. It's truly the middle ground between medium hulls.
Heavy hulls - Mammoth, Titan
While Titan can outspeed it and retain the same health, Mammoth has more raw shoving power, making it great for holding critical positions. An ideal combination for camping, but you may die of old age attempting to reach the camping spot.
Similar to Mammoth-Thunder, but faster and more powerful. Has less health, but many find gameplay with Titan to be more dynamic than Mammoth, if only marginally so.
Choose the paint that fits your gameplay best, but if stuck, a Thunder protection paint is always useful, as it reduces the self-damage inflicted by a careless shot. A tip on a Thunder protection module: If you're fortunate enough to own the Cedar or Rustle LGCs, you won't need to worry about purchasing an M3 module for a long time to defend yourself from the cannon.
Thunder vs other turrets
Short range turrets - Isida, Firebird, Freeze
Do not allow these to approach you; once latched on, you are guaranteed dead or severely damaged. With these, the best defence is a good offence; destroy them before they reach you. A mine may prove useful in narrow corridors, due to the limited range of these turrets. If one of these does manage to reach you, try and minimise self-damage; shoot a nearby wall. Do not approach!
Extremely high damage per second, lethal afterburn. If it reaches you and you do not eliminate it before you begin succumbing to afterburn, death is inevitable.
Sporting a somewhat lower cumulative damage rate, yet more sinister; you may not be able to even damage the user thanks to Freeze's primary effect: turning speed, turret rotation rate, speed, acceleration -- all are minimised to nearly 10% should one have a hold of you for too long. If caught, rotate both turret and hull in the general path of the oncoming Freeze. Shoot a nearby wall; the splash damage may affect them enough to bring their health to zero.
If one of these deadly players get close, all bets are off. A Hornet/Isida may take an extra shot to kill, so be prepared to deal with an Isida user for longer than you would a Freeze, Firebird or Twins.
Medium range turrets - Twins, Ricochet, Hammer
Hit-and-run tactics prove effective on these due to their high rate of fire but relatively low damage dealt per shot. In addition, they're not particularly effective at long ranges - finish them off before they reach you.
Capable of the highest sustained DPS of all the turrets, attempting to stand your ground against this is foolhardy. Use the aforementioned tactics, and if cornered, avoid self-damage by shooting a nearby wall.
While the energy bar is full, this turret has one of the highest cumulative damage rates of all. Again, Ricochet users may try to press against you if they're looking for maximised damage output; shoot a nearby wall if possible should this happen.
Fires three highly damaging shots, almost on par with Railgun, at the rate of Smoky. After this, it requires a long reload, reaching a duration equivalent to that of Shaft after sniping at full power. The damage fades rapidly with distance, giving Thunder the edge with moderate range. Take advantage of the long reload time to finish the Hammer user.
Long range turrets - Thunder, Smoky, Vulcan
Hit-and-run may be effective, especially on Vulcan thanks to its requirement of an open range to attack properly. Smoky users will try to approach and corner you; avoid this at all costs.
A battle of skill will likely ensue. No advice will be given, as either way a Thunder user will win; most of the time, the user with the better paint. Not missing helps a bit, too.
The higher rate of fire means that hit-and-run tactics are effective against Smoky users. Pause before firing to ensure that you are not knocked off balance by the Smoky. Try to engage them at a range; the damage from a Smoky, as well as impact force, tapers faster than Thunder, meaning you will likely win the duel. A note while drugging - avoid using a DP against a DP'd Smoky, as a critical hit will almost certainly KO or severely damage your hull. Go for DA instead to nullify their advantage.
Since the submachine gun works fantastically ad medium to long ranges, Thunder becomes less effective against it at its standard combat range. Usually, you'd want to avoid close and personal engagements, but Vulcan has a far lower chance of winning versus you at closer ranges due to its constricted rotation speed. Its overheating factor is only an aid to your victory.
Infinite range turrets - Railgun, Shaft
No damage reduction with distance; extremely slow reload rate, but high damage per shot. Will use hit-and-run tactics against you; avoid this by taking cover when they emerge.
Often used in tandem with a light hull. Users usually take cover behind an obstacle and utilise hit-and-run tactics against you. Make use of your splash damage, and shoot a wall or the ground near them. If they realise their position is not safe, they may either make a last stand, which you usually will win, or flee. Pursue if your situation allows, as they will re-emerge to cause more annoyance. Shooting the corner of their tank or their turret will cause they to lose aim, especially with light hulls; take advantage of this.
Hit-and-run tactics are frequently employed by Shaft users. In other cases, they will sit in a secluded spot and snipe across the map. Luckily, they have an obvious laser scope, which is a great indicator to their location and whether you're in the crosshairs. You'll likely take a bullet from one if they're trained on you as you turn to target them. Faster tanks are advised to take evasive countermeasures; heavier hulls generally have no hope of avoiding the shot, but they may be capable of surviving it. Duck into cover when the Shaft is scoping; sneak up to them and slaughter them when they are not pointed at you, taking advantage of the fact that they have a limited field of vision in sniping mode, and cannot exit it without an extensive reload time and a wasted shot.
In conclusion, Thunder proves to provide very engaging gameplay. It is similar, in ways, to the sniping turrets, in that you can camp in a spot and blast away at distant targets, as well as practice hit-and-run against closer targets. However, it is differentiated by splash damage, which, most of the time, is an excellent attribute, allowing unseen targets to be damaged. Performing the best at medium to long ranges, it deals puny amounts of damage at extreme ranges and performs rather poorly in close combat. Thus, it is the ideal support weapon, but still can be easily adapted to a variety of situations.