So you've finally decided to bite the bullet and join the mechanised ranks by downloading War Thunder, but upon doing so you suddenly realise "What do I do now?".
Before you even get into a game it can be quite easy to get overwhelmed, what with over 2000 vehicles to select from 9 nations through 3 different categories (Land, Sea and Air) just finding somewhere to take your first steps can be daunting of its own, but hopefully, after reading this you'll have a much greater idea of what you want to do and how to do it!
What Are Silver Lions & Golden Eagles For In War Thunder?
We'll start off with the very basics first before you even choose a nation or vehicle type so you have an idea of what is what.
Firstly the in-game currency is called "Silver Lions". This is what you will use to buy, repair, upgrade and rearm your vehicles with. SL is earned simply by playing the game (Damaging enemy vehicles, capturing points, bombing targets etc etc)
Golden Eagles (GE) is essentially real money currency, you buy packs of GE of various amounts for many things such as "Premium" which gives you a % boost to your Silver Lions per game and Research points (we'll get onto that shortly). You can also buy Premium vehicles with them, Camouflage, Decals, and other decorative accessories like Teddy bears and Hats (Yes, they even have a wizards hat). There are a few other things you can spend GE on but for now that's not that important.
Research Points, Like Silver Lions, are earnt during battles by taking out/damaging enemies etc etc but this is what you'll be using to unlock new vehicles and upgrades for your current ones.
Early games when you're new don't be surprised if you don't make big bank or massive Research gains, early vehicles are extremely cheap to buy and have a very low amount of RP required to unlock them.
War Thunder Battle Ratings - How Does It Work?
Battle Rating or BR as it's most commonly known, is what is used by Gaijin to primarily balance vehicles and restrict matchmaking too. This is to ensure that your humble little Hurricane doesn't come face to face with a MIG 21 and you're actually put in a game with people that have vehicles similar to yours ensuring a "fair" and balanced battle.
BRs start at 1.0 and go all the way up to 11.0 (as of 2021) with the use of Decimalisation each BR increases by going :- 1.0 - 1.3 - 1.7 - 2.0, and this pattern goes all the way to the top, again this is all to help with Balance of the game and matchmaking whilst helping flesh out the research tree.
Tiers are generally used to separate what era and time period vehicles are from and also add to the structure of the research tree.
As you start, your first vehicles will be classed as "Reserve" which is below 1.0 but it's where everyone starts so don't worry, plus you won't be in these for very long.
All of this carries through the 3 main Vehicle categories of War Thunder, Aircraft, Tanks and Ships. Yes the ships are technically split into 2 sections but all you need to know right now is one's for "Big ships" and the other is for "Small boats" almost like the ones you'd play with in the bath. However, for the sake of this piece, we'll keep them combined.
War Thunder: How To Play With Aircrafts
All nations will start you at the same place (reserve), these are usually late WW1 / Pre WW2 single-engine prop Biplanes - a far cry from the Jets you see in the trailers but like all of us you have to start somewhere!
Once you choose a nation, be it your home country or one that has some cool planes you have seen, War Thunder will immediately prompt up a few tutorials - I highly recommend doing them as they teach you the basics and fundamentals of your war machines, plus you normally get a little SL bonus and some decals for completing them.
Once you've completed your tutorials it's time to go fly, for your first few days I'd advise starting out in "Arcade" mode. No don't worry it's not going to turn War Thunder into some 1990s timed run flashback with checkpoints and overly exuberant voices, Arcade is just a "simplified" game mode. The flight model is more forgiving, all of your enemies are marked on the screen for you and the battles are fast and frantic like a WW2 furball!
I'd be perfectly honest by saying you would be best off staying in arcade mode until you have reached around the 2.3-3.0 BR mark, simply because when you switch up to "Realistic" the games are much slower paced due to players only having 1 life, the flight model being more realistic, everyone starts off on the runway and you have to physically spot your target to see them.
If you're a die-hard flight sim guy or just a straight-up narcissist you can jump into sim games from the get-go if you wish but again I'd recommend holding off until you start getting some proper aircraft otherwise you're just easy meat! Now there is a 4th game mode for aircraft but I'll get onto that shortly.
War Thunder: How To Play With Tanks
Next up we'll look at Tanks and ground battles, now fundamentally most of what I told you about Planes carries through to tanks only things can get a little more in-depth.
Again your nation starts off with reserve vehicles only, the tutorials are 100% worth completing and stick with Arcade till you get the basic controls down and you get into the 2.0's (by all means you don't have to leave Arcade, if you enjoy arcade mode then you stick with it as having fun is what's most important!)
Now where tanks differ is in how the armour of the tank is modelled and implemented, it's been done to act as close to how real tank warfare would have been so what this means is positioning, shot placement and how you Angle your Tank can make a huge difference in your score and survivability. You can learn more about how to do this on the below video:
To complement Tank Ground battles you can also bring along one of your planes for “Close Air Support”. This is the 4th mode for Airplanes I mentioned earlier, now how this differs from the usual Air battle is in Realistic Ground battles you can use your plane to attack enemy tanks! This can be especially effective if you find some open-top vehicles or your plane carries a variety of ordinances! Doing this is a great way to work on multiple trees at the same time!
War Thunder: How To Play With Ships
Now if Air or land isn't your thing then hopefully being at sea is! War Thunder has a great selection of boats split into Coastal and Bluewater. Coastal boats are basically small vessels that are fast and very nimble with very small armament and a few Torpedoes or depth charges, battles for these boats can be very frantic and action-packed - Very much like Air Arcade, always something going on.
Blue Water are the big boys of the sea, Destroyers, Cruisers and Battleships. Battles in these are much slower paced but can go from 0 to 100 in a matter of moments!
One main tip I will give for these as I have recently learnt myself is when you are under fire and set on fire, don't spam off all the repairs at once. Put out the fire first and then repair, this allows more members of your crew to focus on a specific task rather than spreading them out to do multiple things!
What Are Crew Skills in War Thunder?
Speaking of crew, the last thing I'd like to mention is another major mechanic within War Thunder that does have a good effect on how your vehicles perform and that is Crew Skill and Crew Skill Points.
For every battle you undertake, every point you cap and every vehicle you knock out with a specific crew, they earn what is called Crew Skill points. These can be spent in the Crew Skill menu and it's very much like an RPG game. Each crew has specific roles/skills that can be learnt and improved on, be it repairing faster, withstanding more G-force, reloading faster and many many more attributes.
In some cases having a top-level crew can improve how your vehicles perform by up to 25% which may not sound all that much but a 25% faster reload speed can get you out of some tight situations, believe me.
All in all that's pretty much the basics covered and hopefully, you now have a much better understanding of what you want to do, and how to get it. So go choose your vehicle and hopefully one day, I’ll see you on the battlefield. Good Luck Soldier!