Thread: Complete BF3 Guide to Operating Tanks

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  1. #1 Complete BF3 Guide to Operating Tanks 
    LAN Member Pyrex238's Avatar
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    I've been kicking around the idea of writing a how-to strategy guide for BF3 on operating tanks. I've been doing it since BF 1942 and have come up with quite a few tactics which I figure many would find useful. I wrote this on and off in the past 2 hours at my office, so let me know if things seem a little haphazard. And especially let me know if I've made any errors. Originally this started off as my personal notes I would use when I make a youtube video, which I intend to make over the next few weeks to compliment the written manual.

    BF3 Tank Guide
    ---------------------

    So you're interested in learning how to kick ass with the tanks in BF3? Good, because that's exactly
    what I'm going to cover. The goal of this video is to show you how to best configure, maneuver, and fire your tank.
    Many players in BF3 will do marginally well with the tank, and some will do very well. However, tanks are by far the
    best protected of all vehicles to operate, and with good tactics you can easily double your KDR in a short period of time.


    Configuring your Tank
    ---------------------

    Unlocks are a very important part of BF3, particularly vehicles. For the tank you have 13 unlocks as you progress.
    Although many of the unlocks are useful depending on your game playing style, there are a few which stand out above the others.

    *IR Smoke - The first unlock is a general defensive smoke screen. It will prevent/unlock incoming missiles, and prevent players
    from spotting you on the map (even if they can see you). Overall it is as useful as a first unlock could be, however it's primary
    use would be more for anti-air then anti-vehicle.

    *Coaxial LMG - One of the most important unlocks for any tank operator. The LMG differs from BC2 in that you must switch to and from it manually. The LMG is essential for keeping enemy troops away from your vehicle. It also allows you to suppress troops at large distances. Another benefit of the LMG is being able to shoot at low flying helicopters and jets.

    *Autoloader - The autoloader essentially increases the fire rate of your main gun. This is very beneficial for close quarter tank battles when cover is not available.

    *Zoom Optics - Exactly what it sounds like. Substantial zoom for firing long range and at air vehicles. Beneficial on some large maps, but overall not a primary selection.

    Maintenance - When your tank is above 50% damage after a short period of time it will begin to repair itself back to 100% Very useful when there is a high concentration of air fire.

    *Coaxial HMG - Another important unlock. Essentially the same as the LMG except this machine gun is considerably slower firing, but delivers more damage per hit. I find the HMG to be my preference between the two as it has a small element of splash damage, and a great chance of a one shot infantry kill. It also has less bullet drop at long range.

    *Proximity Scan - Shows you troops around your vehicle. This is a great unlock in urban areas where RPG's could ruin your day.

    *Guided Shell - Guided shell is a rather complicated and useful tool for a tank operator. The guided shell is most useful when you have a teammate with a SOFLAM or third seat CITV to mark the targets. The guided shell requires momentary concentration to achieve a lock, much like a stinger or javelin. Once locked your shell will chase the target until impact with your enemy, or another object. You can lock onto any vehicle, whether it's air or land. The guided shell is most beneficial against helicopters and jets. It does substantial damage and can easily 1 shot kill a chopper or jet, and has a higher hit percentage and speed when compared to standard missiles. The guided shell can also be used to ambush enemy tanks. This unlock will be covered in further detail later.

    *Thermal Optics - Quite possibly the best unlock for any tank operator. Thermal works the same as it does in the choppers. Thermal will allow you to easily pick out enemy tanks and infantry while on the move. It is an essential tool which I have equipped at all times.

    *Thermal Camo - Essentially a mobile/permanent version of IR Smoke.

    *Canister Shell - A alternative to the coaxial LMG/HMG. The canister shell is excellent in close quarters against infantry, and especially during combat while maneuvering. The canister shell is also very effective against low flying aircraft and especially choppers. It will not destroy in one shot, but it will get them smoking and more than likely reevaluate their tactics.

    Reactive Armor - Small charges of high explosives hanging from the sides of your vehicle. These will absorb the first RPG hit on that particular panel. The Reactive armor protects your flanks (left/right) and also your rear from RPG's. Very beneficial in urban environments, or if you do not have a gunner.

    *CITV Station - The very last unlock on the tank. This allows a third person inside of your tank. Their primary job is targeting vehicles/aircraft. the upgrade also gives you proximity scan the moment a 3rd person enters your vehicle, allowing you to see infantry nearby on your mini-map. The usefulness of the CITV station is debatable by many. The advantages being target lasing combined with a guided shell. Your CITV teammate designates a target, and the driver fires a guided shell. The target lasing is also visible to other players as well. The disadvantage is you have 3 people in one tank, and it can be an easy target, and also you have 1 less people capping points. Probably best reserved for 64 player servers where concentrated manpower is not at such a premium.


    Maneuvering the tank
    ---------------------------

    A tank operator must understand that his vehicle is the biggest ground target at any time. Because of this, it is important to understand how and where to attack, how to move, and especially how to retreat. You will encounter several types of situations when operating a tank, and this guide is intended to help you deal with all of them. To begin, you should stick to flat terrain and roads when possible. The reason for this is firing your tank while bumping up and down on uneven terrain creates a great deal of difficulty and will effect your accuracy, and your survivability. Using the SHIFT key will boost your speed, this is essential at all times, and should eventually become second nature. The only time I remove my finger from the shift key is when I am executing a tight turn. One of THE most important tactics in tank warfare is ALWAYS keep your tank pointed AT your enemy. Your armor is thicker in the front, and you can sustain considerably more damage head on than any other orientation. A common mistake of tank operators in BF3 is not orienting their hull towards the enemy when they are in close proximity. The player needs to become accustomed to turning their turret separately from their hull. Meaning when in combat you are concentrating on aiming at the enemy tank WHILE your are spinning your hull to face the enemy. This will immediately increase your successful encounters with enemy tanks.

    Fighting enemy tanks
    ----------------------------

    When encountering enemy tanks it is essential to have situation awareness. Pay close attention to your mini map and especially for enemy tanks. I prefer to use the second zoom option on my main map as tanks can fire from long ranges. The #1 rule for successful tank battles and survivability is movement. I would gather roughly 75% of all tank drivers do not use movement whatsoever, or very poorly at best. The best tactic to winning a tank battle is not being hit. A face to face static encounter is essentially won by whoever gets the first shot (assuming both or neither are using auto loader). That is not the way to approach tank fighting. You're here to win. The first part in an successful tank battle is locating your target. Whether it be by mini map, visual, or spotting. Your mini-map will tell you the orientation of the tank, this is extremely important. Always approach an enemy tank from the rear if at all possible. If the situation does not lend itself to a rear attack then approach from the side. A head on attack should only be reserved for last ditch efforts or if you have an experienced gunner/engineer, or if the target is distracted. Remember, whoever gets the first shot off will usually win the battle. When approaching the tank from the rear get close enough to where you are in control of the fight. You do not want to be too far away, in which the enemy could use an obstruction to stop your attack, or you miss the shot and you lose the element of surprise. Concentrate your rounds at the rear of the tank. Your first round should disable the tank, and your second should destroy the tank - in some situations you may have to fire a 3rd round. When attacking from the side you will fire 3-4 shots for a destroy. When attacking from the front, you will typically have to fire 4-5 shells to destroy a tank. Knowing these guidelines you can decide whether or not to continue a battle, or retreat - sometimes tenths of a second make you the victor, or the flaming wreckage.

    Close quarters
    -----------------------------

    Not all tank battles will take place in the perfect conditions. This is when maneuvering becomes key. Often you may round a corner and be surprised by an enemy tank. In this situation there are several tactics you an employ depending on your play style to win the fight. I myself am an aggressive player, think of me as the Leroy Jenkins of tank battle. I rely on quick decisions and unexpected and abnormal maneuvers. Generally, the strategy I have found most successful is the charge. When rounding a corner and I encounter a tank I did not expect, my first goal is to decide whether or not the tank sees me. If the tank sees me I will fire a round at the tank immediately, and begin to head full speed into the enemy tank. If the tank does not see me, I will not fire before the charge. The reason being is my goal is NOT to ram into the tank, it is to pass by the enemy in close proximity and fire into the rear of their tank to do the most damage. By not firing the first shot (which is tempting) I am guaranteeing that I will not receive a broadside shot when I pass by the tank. The moment you reach the rear of their tank, fire your main gun, and then reverse and full speed, denying them the same rear shot. At this time they are already disabled, and pretty much cannon fodder. Generally, the enemy player will be somewhat confused at your movement. Sometimes this abnormal tactic may cause them to mistake you for a friendly tank, giving you just the time you need. If you are less inclined for a frontal balls out assault you can use movement to your advantage. As mentioned earlier When fighting another tank, it is important to keep moving. When you engage the tank, always attempt a rear or side shot. If the enemy tank is also firing at you, it is imperative that you continue to fire as quickly as possible, making sure each shell hits it's target. While firing at the tank, the best tactic is to exploit their dexterity. Close quarters battle gives you the best opportunity. Your goal is to make the other tank miss. The closer you are to the enemy, the quicker they must pan to fire/track you as you move across their screen. When moving, always make sure you are moving in the direction of their rear end, with the hope you can get a rear shot. Also remember when you have a rear shot, so do they, so keep your tank oriented towards them if possible to deny
    the shot.


    Long range
    ------------------------------

    Long range fighting is similar to close quarters, with a few distinct differences. At longer ranges the pan distance of your enemy is substantially lower, they will be able to aim at you regardless of your maneuver. However, long range tank battles is all about anticipation. The shells have extreme drop rates and flight time. Because of this, your goal is to exploit their anticipation, and be unpredictable. Showing your flank to an enemy tank at long range is much less of a liability as the benefit outweighs the consequence. At long range your goal is to quickly change direction to miss their incoming rounds. The MOST effective tactic at long range is a broad sweeping decreasing radius turn in the direction of your enemy. It makes prediction very difficult as your pan rate is dynamically changing, and also your front armor is the primary face exposed. Not only does the enemy have to adjust for pan rate, they also have to adjust for drop rate, as you are closing the distance on them. Typically this will result in rounds going over your head as you close. The entire time you are closing, you are firing at them. Typically most tank drivers will sit static, with the goal being total concentration on aiming. They are easy targets for an experienced tanker and should prove to be of little concern. Another useful tactic is using terrain and obstructions as cover. At long range it is quite evident to a perceptive player which an enemy tank is/will fire a shell. You can time this to expose yourself from the obstruction to fire, and then reverse/retreat back to cover when their round is inbound.


    Fighting Air vehicles
    ------------------------------

    The tank is not the best tool for shooting down aircraft. It can be a liability as well. However, an experienced tanker can shoot down helicopters and jets. The main gun will disable a chopper or jet in a single shot (The instant kill of BC2/BF1942 is no more). This strategy is only effective when an enemy chopper is very low (such as capping a point), and preferably showing their flank. Firing at jets is very uncommon and only possible when the jet is traveling to or away from you, minimizing their lateral/vertical movement. It is best to wait until the jet is just about on top of you before firing, and giving you the best chance of a hit. More often than not a low altitude tank impact will cause them to crash much more frequently than a helicopter. Another element of air vehicle is inevitable - being fired at by them. Most commonly will be element attack helos (The Viper/Havoc). Luckily they are usually some of the easiest attacks to avoid. If the helo is firing unguided missiles the best tactic at avoiding them is driving towards the helicopter as it makes it's run. By driving towards the chopper, you are forcing the pilot to pitch down further to hit you, increasing his speed and drop rate, and decreasing the length of time he can fire at you. Other tactics involve sudden changes in direction. This will cause rockets to miss their target. The reload time on a chopper is rather long, and usually they will change locations for the follow up shots, this is your opportunity to escape or attack.

    Fighting Infantry
    ------------------------------

    Infantry is very dangerous to tanks. One rear shot will disable a tank if it does not have reactive armor. This is best countered with an LMG/HMG coaxial mount. When gunning it is important to have situation awareness and know where your target is, and where he is likely to be. Infantry tend to hide from the tank near buildings and only pop out when they are firing. Because of this, you need to anticipate their next move. Think of it as high powered whack-a-mole. It is tempting to fire at infantry with your main gun, and sometimes that is the best option if you are moving. However, when you fire your main gun, you blind your gunner. So if you are in an urban area, with buildings nearby, it is best to only use your coaxial, allowing your gunner to acquire the target as well, and better defend you. If you suspect an enemy troop is just around a corner, waiting on a reload, you can fire your main gun to kill him with splash damage. However, the latest patch seems to have lessened this ability substantially. At worst it will give you a reticle X letting you know he is in fact there. Another good tactic when fighting infantry is charging them. Generally, when a tank is approaching infantry at a high rage in close quarters, their first reaction is to take cover and avoid being squashed. You can use this time to shoot them. Also, if they are unaware of your location, engineers will usually switch to their rocket launcher, giving you about 1.5 seconds of time to acquire them. Thermal vision is ESSENTIAL for infantry fighting and will increase your success by a huge margin. It is also essential for spotting mines, as they glow white. Fire one main gun round into a ground of mines and they will all detonate. Destroy 2 mines and you get 200 pts and a ribbon. If there are enemy troops around, waiting until they are within proximity of the mines is a great strategy. If an enemy detonates the mines, the splash damage will kill them.


    The Gunner's Manual
    ------------------------------

    Being a gunner in a tank is more than just shooting at stuff. You are responsible for protecting the rear and flank of your tank, as well as repairing it during combat and other situations. There are several tactics that work best to maximizing your kill count. Usually an experienced gunner will out score the driver. During combat, there are several tactics to help maximize your survivability. And understanding these will greatly benefit your team and effectiveness. First, it is important to know that when exiting the tank, 90% of the time you will dismount in the front of the tank. I believe this is some sort of a cruel joke/balancing strategy by dice. This plays a big part knowing when to bail and when not to. The driver seems to have a 50/50 chance of being dismounted on the side or the front. Because of this, the moment you exit the tank in combat, it is essential to already be moving so you can immediately get on the opposing side of the tank. In a combat situation, the first step is to recognize where your enemies are. The second is to decide when and if you should dismount. Lastly, you must immediately make your way to the opposing side of the tank for cover. A dead repairer is a useless repairer. Remember, a tank becomes disabled <50% health. When the tank is disabled it is immobile. Sometimes in a situation where the tank is near cover, it is best to dismount before the tank drops below 50% and repair as the tank moves to cover. It is also the tank drivers responsibility to know where his engineer is, and to not outrun him. In the event you are repairing your tank, and an enemy vehicle is attacking you the best strategy is to hold your repair while moving back and forth, do not sit idle, you are sniper/rifle bait. Always move back and forth to minimize the risk of being shot. Also, while doing this make sure your finger is on your E key to get back into the tank at any moment. The second you take damage hit E and re-enter the tank to avoid being killed. Then, swing your gun around, and kill them! As you are repairing the tank under fire you are fighting against the damage done by the other vehicle. You will eventually overheat your torch and will go into cool down mode. It is at this time you should switch to your rocket launcher, and fire at the enemy tank. Only expose yourself for a moment, then return to cover behind the tank and your torch should be ready to repair again. This tactic not only greatly increases the chance of success, but also momentarily distracts the enemy vehicle from your tank. If your tank driver has reactive armor (which are boxes hanging from the sides of the tank) you need to over repair these locations. Meaning, once at 100% health, you need to repair both flanks, and rear if they have been hit. this will cause the reactive armor to reappear. Lastly one of the most important things is don't be afraid to exit the tank to get someone. I would not recommend this if you have no driver however. Make sure you are certain there is only one or two infantry, and you know exactly where they are. Infantry (especially engineers) become super focused on tanks when there is one close by. You can exploit this by exiting the tank and attacking them unexpectedly. Just make sure you let the driver know what you're doing so you don't get left behind. Another important element of being a gunner is firing at air vehicles or other tanks. This can be a liability. As tempting as it is, do not fire your LMG at hard vehicles (tanks, AFV) as you will alert them to your location and ruin your element of surprise. The LMG is effective against choppers that are low flying, especially when they are making rocket passes at you. However, do NOT fire at distant choppers or jets, as you're unlikely to hit them, and you give away your position like a giant arrow pointing where you're at. When I'm in a chopper or jet, this is exactly how I locate tanks to attack.



    I hope this information is useful and will benefit you in your games. If you have any suggestions or strategies you would like to share, please feel free.

    C.J. - Pyrex238

    Let me know what you guys think.
    Last edited by Pyrex238; 11-30-2011 at 01:13 AM.
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  2. #2  
    Operations Manager, Online Server Admin, Event Setup Administrator InSaNeOldGuy's Avatar
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    STickied this... And provided a link on Facebook here.
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    LAN Member Pyrex238's Avatar
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    hey awesome, that's cool - thanks for the props! Over the next few weeks I will be recording video intermittently of tank fighting to use in the youtube video. I appreciate all the advice MadMax. Pharacon brought something to my attention, the gunner aim determines the exit... I honestly did not know that. That is a great bit of info.
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    LAN Member Pyrex238's Avatar
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    Me and Neg1 have been recording some good video for the youtube version. It's pretty exciting to put together a comprehensive manual. I hope it's popular. In the first recorded video we went 31 and 0, and second video we went 36 and 0. So hopefully they'll think we're l33t.
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    Operations Manager, Online Server Admin, Event Setup Administrator InSaNeOldGuy's Avatar
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    Jordo's good with videos... Get him to help out.
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