After experimenting for a bit, testing tactics others have suggested and spending time finding my own, I've finally found the most effective away to consistently place 1st or 2nd in your Steel Hunter matches. Time to turn you, into a true steel hunter. This guide will be broken up into a few sections.
Table of Contents:
- Early upgrades
- Soviet Tanks
- German Tanks
- American Tanks
- Farming (Tiers 1-3)
- Fighting (Tiers 4-6)
- Strategy (Tiers 7-8)
- Middle of the map
Nation Selection, Spawn Points & Upgrades:
Quite possible the most prominent question people will have is – Which nation will give me the best chance to win?
Before we get into the fine details of nations & their individual upgrades, let's talk about how to upgrade all tanks from Tiers 1-5.
You always want to upgrade like this:
Tier 2: Handling on Move
Tier 3: Detection Range
Tier 4: Dynamics
Tier 5: Damage per Shot
Only the upgrades from Tier 6-8 change how your tank ends up. The early upgrades are the same for all tanks and upgrade trees, and the ones above are the best choices to help you win.
The only upgrade that you could change for your own preferences would be the one at Tier 4, and that's only if you're not going for HP / armor upgrades later on. Top Speed can help you farm consumables early on, which can be quite advantageous later into the game. However, if you chose armor upgrades, you must have the engine power upgrade, otherwise you'll be too sluggish to play the way you need to in a proper fight.
Best: Soviets (Red Dawn)
By far, the Soviets give you the best chances to win your battles. Not only are they very well-rounded tanks, but they have the deadliest autoreloader and the most HEAT-resistant armor.
Spawning: When spawning with a Soviet tank, you want to spawn as close to the middle of the map as possible. You want to play in the open fields early on, and be as close to crossfires and parachute drops as you can be.
Upgrade Tree: There are two equally powerful upgrade choices for the Soviets. They go like this:
T-54: Mobility > Rotation Speed > Autoreloader
For a good player, the T-54's combination of mobility, some armor and a deadly autoreloader will allow you to completely dominate any fight, especially if you're good at making your shots count.
This isn't for everyone though, as it definitely takes a lot of skill to master. Also, you must have plenty of Healing Area consumables, as well as plenty of Target Tracking consumables.
That being said, if you have the right consumables, and you're a good player, the T-54's upgrade tree should allow you to win just about any fight you find yourself in.
T-10: Hit points > Hit points > Damage per shot
The T-10 also provides a good balance between mobility / armor / firepower. However, the T-10 is more heavily armored, and will have the higher alpha gun. The T-10's turret is generally stronger than the T-54's turret, and the T-10's hull is covered with spaced armor. However, the tank is much more sluggish than the T-54, which means circle-strafing / side-hugging can be a lot riskier than it would be with the T-54.
Instead of getting an autoreloader, you're getting a punchy gun that has a good balance between alpha damage and rate of fire. This is the tank that's easier to do well in than the T-54, but also allows you to fight better even when you're running low on consumables.
Good: Germans (Flammenschwert)
The German tanks aren't nearly as well-rounded as the Soviets, but they compensate for this with truly impressive frontal armor and ridiculously high alpha guns. However, it's important to note, that the Germans are best for fighting only in early and late game. They may feel very awkward mid-battle while they're trying to upgrade.
Spawning: German tanks will want to stick as close to city corridors as possible. They're not fast enough to fight in the open (At least, not early in the battle), and their armor is best in corridors where it will be difficult to flank them.
Upgrade Tree: There's only one "best" upgrade tree for the German tanks. Big ass guns and thicc armor. While the HE autoloader and the autoreloaders can be fun with your damage output, they're not nearly as likely to win you a battle as the 1,050 HEAT alpha damage you get from the armor / alpha upgrades.
That means go Hit Points > Hit Points > Damage per Shot
Bad: Americans (Rattlesnake)
The American tanks have potential with their high DPM, but they struggle to win in any late-game scenario. The armored route lacks any real armor, the mobility route is too vulnerable and their HE guns & autoloader have the lowest damage per shot of any nation. Not to mention that it's an autoloader – Not an autoreloader. The Americans are the only nation to have a regular autoloader, which can be very restrictive for what otherwise could have been a versatile fighting option.
Spawning: American tanks will want to spawn near the city's outskirts. You don't want to fight in the middle like you would with the Soviets, but you don't want to be in the middle of corridors either like the Germans. Try to stay near city borders, so you have an escape route, but can also avoid crossfires.
Upgrade Tree: This one is a funky one, but I've found that the best chance you have to win in a late-game fight is to upgrade your tank like this:
Mobility > Rotation Speed > Rate of Fire
Rate of fire is going to be your best chance at winning, since that will let you interrupt enemy heals. You will want Target Tracking however, to maximize that rate of fire / DPM. The biggest reason against Hit Points / Armor is that the tank becomes way too slow to use late-game, without gaining and real armor benefit. Your tank is still made of tissue paper, except now you're super sluggish. While the side armor can block HEAT shells, the armor everywhere else is more vulnerable than that of the Soviet tanks; while also becoming a slower vehicle.
So, how to play most effectively then?
Tiers 1-3: Farm consumables. Avoid fights, and farm consumables.While you can (and should) pick up any ammunition that's along your way to earn XP as well, you should try to focus on consumables. In early game, Target Tracking is the one thing that will let you win battles. Nothing else matters early game.
Tiers 4-6: This is where you want to begin farming damage and destroying enemy tanks that either:
A) You can ambush and win a fight against using your consumables, or
B) Haven't reached Tier 5 yet, and as a result don't have the gun upgrade.
The reason why destroying tanks at these Tiers is so important, is so that they aren't able to upgrade their vehicles later on. As soon as you reach Tier 5, you have a gun advantage. However, because you've been farming consumables, if you can get the element of surprise in an attack, you should be able to win a fight with those consumables as well. The fewer tanks can reach Tier 8, the better your chances of winning are – Especially if you've been farming consumables.
Air Drops: This is also the point where you want to begin farming Air Drops if at all possible. Be careful about approaching them, but if you can either snag them away from other players, or win a fight against another player for an air drop, then you're putting yourself at a significant advantage early on. These fights not only take enemy tanks out of the battle, but also allow you to reach Tier 5 far earlier than anyone else.
Tiers 7-8: This is when strategy is king. Setup ambushes, use cover, and spam the radar as often as possible so you know exactly where everyone is. If you see two people fighting on the map, rush to them as soon as possible using your Turbocharger. You'll want to be the grim reaper in this kind of situation.
What I mean by that, is you'll want to equally spread your damage against both enemy tanks – Make sure that their hit points are neck and neck, and you're always shooting the enemy with more hit points. Eventually, one of them will have killed the other or tried to run away – That means you can easily finish off the remaining target. If they both died, then you get both of their loot. If you kill one and the other runs away, see if you can catch him before he's able to heal / resupply again.
Middle of the Map: Fight for it. Play in it. Use it. Everyone always says "Avoid the middle", but that's the worst advice you could possibly get. The middle is where all the Airdrops land, the middle is where you can create excellent crossfires, and the middle is where you can get right back into the outskirts of the city and completely break off from any pursuer. You can also use it to constantly change your angle of attack.
- Soviets best, Germans good, Americans bad
- Handling on move, Detection Range, Dynamics and Damage per Shot are your Tier 2-5 upgrades for all nations
- Soviets should either go for Mobility > Turret Traverse > Autoreloader or Hit Points > Hit Points > Damage per shot
- Germans should go for Hit Points > Hit Points > Damage per shot
- Americans should go for Mobility > Turret Traverse > Rate of Fire
- Farm upgrades from Tiers 1-3
- Kill tanks and collect Airdrops from Tiers 4-6
- Use strategy to outplay opponents in Tiers 7-8
- Try to find two players that are fighting and shoot at them from a slight distance. Always shoot the higher HP target, so that when one dies, the other one is already crippled.
- Play in the middle of the map as often as possible. It is game winning.