as i am discovering the forums formating I am still editing.
This guide is meant to be the most comprehensive guide on HE, or high explosive ammo. By the end of the textwall you will know as much as I do. As I am still learning, I will refine over time, and also I might write something that still appears ambiguous, so anything you don't find or don't understand, please ask in the comments and I will reply or add the information in the guide.
This article is a mirror of one I wrote in the EU forums.
This guide was written for blitz v3.1 to v4.4. it should be valid for PC and console as they use the same mechanics.
WG Head of Game design said said in August 2016 that he intends to change HE. He didn't say when or if he would change the mechanics or the results. Hopefully they don't nerf it. we want to use more HE.
some pictures from armor inspector are outdated, and paragraph on aiming is currently missing some illustration. some day I will update.
This guide earned me 10.000 gold from a WG competition
This guide has been referenced in the Russian forums ! I will take this as an award yay ))
to use HE successfully, we will review these aspects below :
- what is HE
- why people don't use them
- How the mechanic of HE works
- mechanics for regular AP/APCR (quick recap)
- Mechanics for HE ammunition (compare)
- detailed mechanics for HE ammunition
- Splash damage
- what is splash damage
- splash and distance
- splash and armor thickness
- splash and spaced armor
- fake armor
- splash and module damage, crew injury
- penetration damage
- penetration damage to module and crew
- best chances of penetration
- penetration and angle of impact
- identifying the correct target
- obtaining the perfect angle
- 3D models
aiming over an obstacle
How to visualize the expected damage
- taking an exemple
- in game
- analyzing the sniper view
- in Armor Inspector
- viewing armor thickness
- viewing the damage map
illustrating splash damage
How to protect oneself against HE
- the truth about spall liner (useless)
- armor thickness
- protecting the modules
repairing the modules
When to use high explosive
- destroying enemy faster
- tracking or destroying external modules
- reseting base cap
- moving an invincible enemy
- kill enemy through hard cover
- kill two enemies with a single shell
- killing oneself
- printing credits
- more use ?
WHAT IS HE
HE aka High Explosive
HE is a big ball of explosive. Throw it onto someone. The bigger the ball, the bigger the boom. Simple concept.
in the game, HE has the potential for more damage than regular shells, but with very low penetration numbers it is difficult to use properly.
HESH aka High Explosive Squash Head
HESH ammunition is available in some of the upper tier tanks British guns. in the game, HESH is a version of HE and uses exactly the same mechanics as HE, with increased penetration. Therefore anything I will say about HE will also be true for HESH.
While most tanks have prammo with better penetration than regular ammo but same damage (prammo damage is reduced in blitz post v3.8), HESH has no increase in penetration compared to regular ammo but it has higher damage.
in real life, how HESH works is an interesting display of British engineering creativity : It basically spreads the sticky explosive upon target before igniting the explosion, which creates an shockwave in the thickness of the armor, which then blows itself into shrapnel. High Explosive, with refinements. Look for it wikipedia if you like more details.
Why people don't use HE
Most new player will try HE for the advertised extra 25% in alpha damage over the regular ammunition. After a few games they realize they usually get only 10% of the value and give up forever. this is also wrong, HE might be tricky to use, but it is a brilliant ammo when used properly, as we will see later.
HOW THE MECHANICS WORKS
mechanics for regular AP/APCR (quick recap)
I will just make a quick recap on regular shells, so you are able to clearly understand and compare how the different mechanics apply to different ammunitions. upon impact, there are two cases :
AP/APCR/HEAT ammunition penetrate inside the tank and do damage
they bounce and make no damage.
They may also go through a breakable object, such a fence, break though it and continue until they lose their penetration power. upon a tank impact, the server will decide between bounce and penetration, and so on.
after a bounce, they continue their new trajectory and upon another tank impact, the server will decide again between bounce and penetration until they get lost in an objects or exit the map.
AP and APCR will autobounce if the angle of impact is too small (except if the caliber overmatches the armor)
finally, AP and APCR pen numbers are ideal at the gun muzzle, but as they lose velocity during the flight, they are subject to loss of pen over distance.
AP are given a specific average damage upon penetration that we name "alpha", for exemple alpha is 100hp.
in the game, RNG is applied to vary +-25%, so you can expect 75hp - 125hp
if you bounce, you do 0hp damage.
Most player got used to these mechanics, either by research or experience.
However, high explosives work in an entirely different way and that's how it may deceive you.
Mechanics for HE ammunition (comparing)
Upon any impact, High Explosive shells detonate into an explosion. HE shells don't rely on velocity, therefore they don't lose penetration or damage power over the distance to target. upon detonation, the explosion will impact any object within a radius. We can see why the shell will never go through any object, but it will never bounce either.
upon impact there are four possible cases :
if the penetration power is more than the armor, the explosion will penetrate. The shell will not penetrate. only the explosion will, because the shell already exploded.
if the penetration power is less, the explosion will stay outside, but can still do a fraction of the alpha damage (splash damage) through the armor (spall)
The explosion can hit an object nearby. It will have effect even to a certain distance of the impact (splash damage), and is considered just as the above : the explosion occurs outside, the damage is function of the distance and may go through the armor.
if the armor is still stronger than the blow of the explosion, it will absorb the potential damage and no damage will be made.
HE are given 25% more alpha than the regular AP. however that is valid only with penetration. for the same example, 125hp
in the game, RNG is applied to vary +-25%, so you can expect 101hp - 149hp
this is much more than regular AP.
if there is no penetration, we will still have splash damage for only a fraction from 0-50%
in the game, RNG is applied to vary +-25%, so you can expect 0hp - 78hp
this is much less than regular AP penetration, but more than AP bouncing.
detailed mechanics for HE ammunition
let's review the different elements that occur into detail :
what is splash damage
when your shot lands somewhere but fails to penetrate, either armor is too thick or it hits some map elements, an explosion ball is created.
Damage will occur to all elements in that radius, possibly several at once.
splash damage will be a fraction from 0% to 50% of the advertised shell alpha damage
modules that are located outside of the main armor (tracks, viewport, gun) will have no protection from the damage. this is interesting to use, especially for tracks.
splash damage means that the damage is not at the point of impact.
I want to see the splash damage illustrations, bring me there
splash and distance
upon impact, when there is no penetration, anything within the radius is affected.
that radius is function of your caliber. the bigger the gun, the bigger the boom, the wider the radius.
Splash damage will be function of the distance to impact, further away means receiving less damage.
note that you don't even need to hit your target to make damage : you can hit the ground and damage two tanks passing nearby, if they are within the radius. this is very interesting to use.
Interestingly enough, with some very large guns, for example above 120mm, you can easily splash damage yourself up to killing yourself by shooting at a nearby wall or enemy, either purposedly or by mistake. I have seen it occur in battle on couple occasions, a good way to earn a "lucky" medal.
splash and armor.
Damage is also reduced as a function of armor thickness.
Note that splash damage is not directional, so only the armor nominal thickness is used, (i.e. the advertised thickness of the metal plate in the tank specs), which is measured at a perpendicular angle from the surface.
Often splash damage will be very small compared to the damage AP shell would do. When the armor is too thick, you might even make no damage at all. You will probably hear "that one bounced" which in fact is irrelevant : your shot hit but didn't bounce, it just failed to make damage.
Some modules are external, like guns, tracks, viewports, therefore they can receive some damage or even be destroyed (tracks especially) while you will make zero damage to the general HP, because of the armor. Then you will hear some congrats from your crew when seemingly no damage was done. however you might decide keeping enemy from moving is more interesting that doing damage, besides, it will give you half of the XP is an ally is shooting him. that is interesting if the ally has a bigger gun than yours.
how can a HE shell make damage to the tanks, crew and internal modules without penetrating ? This is called spall : the armor may not break, but shatter and spray metal shards inside the tank onto crew and modules, causing shockwave, concussion, making damage or breaking them. nice.
splash and spaced armor
damage fall with armor thickness and distance. Thickness is obvious, but in some cases distance is not.
Even if you score a direct hit to a tank, there are many things that may surround and protect its main armor :
some tanks have several layers of armor, known as spaced armor and exploding in the outer layer will keep your shell too far from the main armor.
tracks are an obvious one and act as space armor. the explosive will detonate upon touching the outside of the tracks, and the armor is at a distance behind them.
The hitbox of a tank, where you can remove its HP, doesn't cover the entirety of a tank. Many tanks also include empty boxes, decorations, etc... these will either :
make you believe that you hit something, whereas you haven't. it just goes through.
look like a soft part, whereas they cover a hard armor
hide some specific weakpoints where you should aim.
splash and module damage, crew injury
according to all the above, there are many reasons to make only fraction of the hp damage, but still many interesting use of the HE shell. Particularly, you have more chances of damaging and destroying modules and injuring or killing crew than the regular AP shell. this for three reasons :
first of all the damage is done not along the trajectory, but to anything in the radius of the point of impact, and in the cone of a penetration. this includes more volume and therefore more modules to damage.
secondly it doesn't bounce, and may damage even when there is no penetration when modules are close to the impact.
finally, in case the shot hits directly the module, (either a penetration or hitting one of the external modules) HE will make 25% more damage to a module than if it were an AP shell, leading to higher chances of a module or crew failure whereas an AP would just make some damage. I will make a complete guide on how module damage works, but let's take the quick example of a track. This track is allowed, say, 120hp total. upon a hit, AP damage would be 100, leaving the track damaged but still functional. It needs two hits to destroy one track. however HE damage to modules would be 125, which would destroy the track in one shot.
Penetration is the graal of any good HE user, and is highly rewarding.
Penetration is the only way to get the full advertised damage , 25% more than alpha from the regular AP/APCR.
as we have seen, the shell detonates upon impact and the shell will in fact never penetrate per se. but the blow of the explosion can. It will then create a cone from the point of explosion towards the inside, and anything within this cone will receive damage according to distance from the impact.
penetration and module damage, crew injury
This means that not only you will make more HP damage than a regular AP shell, but also the cone will most likely reach several crew members and modules, which will take fire and create further damage, and leave the tank crippled. Driver dead, loader or aimer dead, gas tank on fire, ammoracks are very common. Crippled tanks will be less harmful, and easy prey for even further damage from your allies or yourself. many tanks, once receiving HE from a big caliber will lose up to more of their XP in one shot, from the damage and its aftermath including the resulting fires, injuries and other hits they will receive following the first impact.
chances of penetration
Managing to force the explosion of the HE shell to go inside the tank and reaching full damage takes some patience and practice. basically, you need to avoid all of the above reason for splash damage listed above, to shoot directly into a known thin portion of the armor, usually in the back, which means :
some tactical planning ahead to create the opportunity to approach your opponent from the weak side,
thorough knowledge of your enemy armor, especially weak points and fake or spaced armor
very careful and accurate aiming.
penetration and angle of impact
we have seen earlier that splash damage is not directional, only the armor nominal thickness matters.
However penetration takes the angle of impact into account: the cone of explosion will travel according to the trajectory most likely at an angle with the armor surface, which makes the effective thickness of armor that the explosion needs to go through in reality potentially much thicker than going through at a perpendicular angle.
identifying the targets
of course thin armor are susceptibles to big HE damage, such as any light tanks, and some light TDs. but many mediums or even heavy tanks have very thin armor in the sides and rear. knowing the easy tanks, and knowing the secret spots of the more heavier tanks will help you prepare ahead.
getting the right angle.
knowing wher to shot on your target will allow you to use HE to full penetration. it will allow you to anticipate and load HE. Rather than doing splash damage at the wrong angle, driving to arrive onto your opponent's weak side or waiting the right moment until your enemy turns at the correct angle may mean penetration and ten times more damage than splash.
you will try to be perpendicular to the surface of the armor plate that you are trying to pen. A few degrees might change the result entirely.
Usually HE shells are much slower to fly than the regular AP, so shooting at an enemy over long distance may require some practice to anticipate the enemy's movements, and in all cases more accurate aiming than regular AP, as the weack spots are much smaller.
the model used by your client to render the view is different from the model used by the server to calculate the mechanics of the game. it is known as collision model, and is implified compared to the rendering model.
As in most games, models are built with triangles. there is no curved surfaces, only faceted triangles.Large flat surfaces might not cause problems much, but with complex surfacing, results can be more random as you cannot make sure of the angle of impact.
trajectory of a HE shell
HE, HESH or even HEAT do not rely on velocity for penetration power. also, the initial launch could trigger the explosion upon launch rather than upon impact. therefore ther porpellent was less than for shooting AP projectiles.
this means that some of the HE ammo can be very slow, and as a result they will have a very high and curved trajectory. Only a few tanks have such extremely slow shels, and the best example of this is the T-82 with the 105mm howitzer. whenever you shoot, it makes a tall bell curved trajectory, and fall upon the target, almost like artillery. You can sometimes count to 3 before it reaches target... which will often move in the meantime... so in the case of slow shells you need to predict and anticipate the enemy.
aiming over an obstacle
It sounds like you could use the curved trajectory to shoot at someone behind hard cover, for example a rock, by lobbing over the obstacle and on target. Unfortunately in most cases, the server will think you are aiming at the rock, will adjust the trajectory to shoot the rock, and it will hit the rock... with some RNG factor. In the 1/10.000.000 lucky shot, you may aim at a map point above and behind target, which will make a curve above everything, and if RNG will decides to make the shot fall short of your aim, which may reach target. it is rumored to have happened. not in a million games in my knowledge. Don't count on it.
however there is one and only way of successfully managing such a shot. That is to use right click on a PC mouse. this will use the PC-type autoaim, which will register and follow the enemy tank, not the rock in front, and therefore will shoot correctly above the obstacle. Unfortunately all other aiming means will fail.
don't confuse this shot over an obstacle with the damage that can be done through an obstacle, including hard terrain, by using the splash damage radius.
HOW TO VISUALIZE EXPECTED DAMAGE
For exemple :
I will take an exemple which will show several aspects mentioned before, it should help you identify these points I talked about.
I chose tier6 tanks, as they are easy to get for everyone, yet advanced enough that it will be meaningfull until tier X
shooter will be a KV1s 122mm because the 122mm will have big explosive and penetration power. the alpha is 400 (300hp-500hp). HE will do 500 (0hp-625hp). (note, because I didn't have a KV1-S, I used a defender in the game screenshots which has a related 122mm gun with exact same HE specs).
target is a M4A3E2 jumbo because it is based on a medium M4A3E8 with very thin armored that is in some places upgraded, so it will display a variety of armor thicknesses.
in the game (blitz v3.0)
When entering the sniper view, we can visualize the target armor with a different hitskin from the usual AP (where red=bounce). the HE skin shows three zones :
red - damage expected. (0hp)
orange - only splash damage can be expected. in most cases you will do damage, however it doesn't guarantee any damage. (0hp-250hp)
transparent - you will most expectedly penetrate the tank and obtain full alpha damage. (375hp-625hp). you will most likely hit modules and create crew casualties and even more damage though fire, ammoracks, etc...
Analyzing this screenshot from the sniper view of the game
Notice that there are no red zones, only orange splash damage zones. So you should expect at least some damage everywhere. But this doesn't tell you how much between 1hp and 250hp
notice that there are some fully penable transparent zones. Two obvious are : the side of the turret, and the tracks area. Less obvious are: a small strip on the engine deck and small entrance in the drivers hatch. There are even less visible spots, in the viewports for exemple. other transparent zones are the piece to lock the gun forward, on the front, and other tools and gears all around.
the small zones will be impossible to aim at in real situation, but occasionally you will make huge damage without aiming... Lucky shots. for best results you should go around your target while it is busy, and arrive at the correct angle to shoot (usually in the rear or full 90º to the side), which is not the case here.
let us review the larger transparent zones :
The tracks and side skirts show full penetration, but just as the small tools, even if the explosion wil penetrate them, it doesn't tell you what kind of armor is behind. In many tanks there are empty boxes or decorations which can be fully penetrated but that will return zero damage, because they cover a very strong points. That is where you need to learn exactly where are the weakspots, at least for the tanks that you see the most, because the hitskin of the game might often troll you.
the turret cheek : this for sure is the real armor and therefore in this situation is the only place where you can reliably aim.
using Armor Inspector
In armor Inspector we have two ways of looking at the armor:
using the X-ray mode to see how the model is made, and where the thinnest parts are
using the confrontation mode, simulating a shot with the potential damage and penetration
in some near future, Andrew Karpushin plans to implement the same hitskin as in blitz as a third option for comparison purposes.
analyzing the 3D model and armor thickness
this is the M4A3E2 as viewed in the X-Ray mode. it shows the model used by the server to calculate hits and penetrations. it is called a collision model. Armor Inspector illustrates the thicknesses of the plates with color. You can show and remove modules and plates individually to see what is hiding behind.
You will notice how different this is from the model you see in your client during the game. It is simplified, many features are absent such as tools and gears hanging, but also some armor features.
notice for exemple what is happening at the tracks pits : first of all the side skirts or mud guard panels have no existence from an armour standpoint. The shells going between the tracks and the hull will go all the way to the flank, which as you can see are the weakest place.
Note the large triangles of the armor model, like those on the turret. more complex tank shapes will have a complex mosaic that may give your shots trollish results.
you can see the upper front plate is thiner than the lower front plate, and that the engine deck and the track pits are the thinnest.
Analyzing the damage map
When you go in the confrontation mode, you will see the same collision model as earlier.
you can simulate shots on the model. if you load HE, it will display minimum expected damage and penetration chances using two layers :
a gradient of color will show the minimum guaranteed damage. It means that shooting a point of a particular color, will reward you with you the damage or more. Dark blue is 0hp and bright green is maximum damage (375-625hp). color smears everywhere because damage is splashing all around according to distance from the impact.
a gradient of luminosity will show you the chances of penetration using transparency to white. White will mean a guaranteed penetration and therefore full alpha damage (375hp-625hp).
in effect, if a spot showing very light yellow is hit, the penetration chances will correspond to the luminosity, so high, and if it fails to penetrate, it will still make at least the splash damage that is shown by the yellow color underneath the white.
Reviewing into details :
Notice the color on the ground, hitting the ground will make damage upwards, into the under belly. it will also damage the tracks, etc... the further from the tank, the less damage is made.
Notice on the turret the white penetrations zones, and just a slight angle change will allow the pen or deny it. Notice the splash damage color showing below the white luminosity probability of penetration. Notice the base of the turret color shows more damage than the top of the turret, this is because the explosion will be located on the turret, but the damage will be dealt onto the top of the hull below the turret..
Notice the ridiculously thin armor in the tracks pits. HE will pen fully as shown by the very strong white. However if you aim there and hit the tracks instead, damage will be only splash. You can also see when hitting the tracks, the closer to the tracks pits, the higher the splash damage.
Notice on the front plate that blue zone is where the thickest armor plate is, and no penetration or splash damage is expected. However the closer you get to the tracks pits, the bigger splash damage, even though you still hit an invincible armor thickness.
Notice the viewports on the cupola, which expectedly have zero armor, but are unlikely to be hit with this distance/accuracy.
So, if you can only shoot at an invincible armor, try shooting as close to a weakness as possible and you will still have splash damage.
illustrating splash damage
bring me all the way back to the splash damage definition
this case was taken from this real user complaint.
That's the splash trick :
when we shoot the same tank on the same gun barrel, the gun is hit and might be damaged or broken(32% chances), but it doesn't carry any tank hitbox HP. So the tank will not lose any hp because of the gun hit, but because some weak enough parts of the armor are close enough to the impact.
gun is above the tank engine deck, which will actually gather the damage, depending on distance to impact.
look at the significant damage drop as soon as the engine deck ends.
gun is turned away from the hull. The explosion occurs too far and fails to reach any tank hitbox
no hp loss, although the gun itself asa module might be damaged or broken.
HOW TO PROTECT ONESELF AGAINST HE
The truth about spall liner
Spall liner advertises 25% reduction of the damage done by explosions. When I was a noob, I always bought this one first.
In fact it is increasing your armor ability to reduce damage by 25%. Since people rarely shoot HE, and only use them HE against very thin armor with very small to no ability to reduce the damage, 25% of very small numbers will never give you any advantage.
spall liner is made to protect heavily armored tanks against arty in the PC game, it was carried over to blitz, and I guess, since many noobs like I did probably buy it every time they can, the developers will see no rush for the removal of such a successful and desired item.
there is no other way to protect the general HP pool of your tank against High explosive than : not getting hit, and being heavily armored. Of course HE has usually smaller penetration numbers, except for HESH, therefore armor is a very effective protection. However HE is also very well suited to make damage to modules, and that is where the following are called for :
protecting the modules
the provision protective kits, equipment reinforced suspensions, engine durability, wet ammorack, etc..
They claim to add 10-25% durability or protection to the respective modules. But how do they work ? Thy in fact add 10-25% more ho to the dedicated module hp. Which means, that, where usually one shot was enough to blow a track, or an ammorack, now two shots will be necessary.
This is obviously a preventive measure, more effective than repairs, though probably not replacing repairs. For example, As soon as your ammorack is damaged you should repair it, because one more hit means game over. Meanwhile carrying only repairs could have meant a direct ammorack without warning. Depending on tanks, you might decide which is the most suited.
repairing the modules
the repair kits, extinguishers and toolboxes
Any of these will allow you to repair any damage module instantly or at least faster, manually or automatically. Since we have seen that modules are especially exposed and damaged by HE, you will need to carry these if you are a light tank and you want to survive being spammed by HE
WHEN TO USE HE
All the time.
i rarely carry less than 5 shells. In some special derp guns, like T82 or KV2, SU, etc... I usually carry as much as half of the shells in HE and half in premium ammo. Regular AP would either have bad damage or bad pen, so I carry no AP at all in such tanks.
there are many use of the HE, and probably I can't list them all here. A full understanding of the mechanics allows to create new uses, would the opportunity arise. Here are some :
destroy a tank faster, with penetration
HE has the potential for more damage. so it may increase your DPM, if successfully used.
i described above how dreadful an HE penetration can be.
The bigger the caliber, the lighter the enemy, the more opportunities.
I often do around 1000 damage, sometimes multiple times in a single battle. that is before fire occurs.
Practically, In battle you really need to know before hand exactly where are each available HE sweet spot and angle for each enemy tank, according to the gun you are carrying.
tracking or damaging the modules
Any external module will be easily damaged for two reasons : they can be themselves the point of impact. Damage done to them will be 25% more than if you had shot with AP. This is why most tracks will be damaged by AP, and will need two impacts, but will be destroyed by a single HE shell. Damaging tracks is especially usefull because the enemy cannot use his mobility anymore, but also because he becomes an easy target for more damage. Finally, any of this damage done upon your tracking will award 50% more XP to you. This is useful when grinding or in the search of ace medals.
another good use is to blow your enemy's gun. Look at him play with a broken gun. Enjoyable every time.
in the normal battles, (encounter, not supremacy mode) any damage will reset base, even a damaged track (not broken) without hp loss. Just make sure you don't aim where the armor is thickest, red indicator in the sniper view, or it might defeat your splash damage.
make enemy move out of protection.
Often times you will see a strong turret. AP will bounce because of the angle, and make no damage. you may find that HE can make damage, even as small as 7hp. But receiving damage will make the enemy think that he is not safe, and often times it will make him do the mistake of moving out of his strong position, allowing you to take a position advantage, or exposing his weaker parts, etc...
kill enemies through hard cover
as mentioned, the explosion will damage anything in a radius. An enemy with say, 40hp hiding behind the corner of a house can be killed by the splash damage, either by shooting the ground or by shooting at the house itself, as long as you hit something close to him enough, with a shell big enough, and that his armor is thin enough.
[note using splash effect has nothing to do with tracers going to kill you through mountains, which is a glitch related to normal server late dies or lag, this is splash damage and only has to do with proximity to the point of impact]
Kill two ennemies with one shell
there used to be a bombardier medal for killing two ennemies of with one shell. That medal is gone but doing so is still possible. When both ennemies are close to each other and their hitpoints will be low enough to be killed by splash damage, shooting in a place that can splash both will do damage to both. If their ho are low enough, they will die. Both. Or at least you can track them both but that's less fun.
if your hp is low enough and your gun big enough (typically above 150mm), shooting a wall or an enemy too close will deal damage to yourself. if you have too much HP, it will break your gun before killing yourself, but you can repeat the operation. In the old time this could award a lucky medal to a nearby enemy watching the scene. In recent times, it is still a good laugh.
if you become very proficient at using HE shells, you will see that they are highly rewarded. Tracks means damage done by others is awarded partially to you. Penetration will creat more damage per shot. All this will be awarded credits. In return, HE shells are (usually ) much, much cheaper than What regular shells are. Not even mentioning the cost of premium ammo. More reward for less cost ? Yes, that can help you make some credit.
more use ?
of course there are many more uses of HE. Please add yours, even totally trollish or funny, in the comments below.
Congratulations ! you are done with the reading !
If you liked it don't be shy, if you have questions just ask them, I will answer below and possibly improve the guide.