Map Meta – What it is, and why you should care (Part 1).

After nearly 30k games I have been able to drag my winrate over 50%, reaching (in mid August) the lofty heights of 50.20%.

It seemed the sky was the limit – each session saw WR on the order of 65%-75%. On my way to that magic 65% WR, baby!

Buy since mid-August, my poor WR has been plummeting, to there is real risk that I might dip below 50% again. Horror!

Last night, my last game of the session was a loss where I did 2.5k dmg and 4 kills. No player on either team did more than 1.1k dmg, but fully half my team was 0 dmg – and this has been typical the last month. The core problem is that most of my team went to non-meta positions and got farmed, where the reds did go to meta positions and made out like Old MacDonald.

So then, in an act of self-defence, I give you:

WoT Map Meta – What it is, and why you should care

WoT has a limited pool of maps, and each map has been played millions of times. This means, through raw trial and error if nothing else, players have discovered all the key positions on the maps – positions that offer advantages over other pieces of ground. Knowing where these positions are, and which tanks need to occupy them, and when in the sequence of a match, is called the "Map Meta" and it is the key skill in winning games.

In effect, when the clock starts ticking down, every player must recognize which map they are on and the gamemode they are in, and match the tank they are playing to a specific position on that map, drive there, and do their job. If they do this, there is a good chance that the team can win. If instead they choose to drive to an out-of-meta position, in almost all cases (save the exceptionally lucky or the exceptionally skilled) they are contributing to a loss by depriving a meta position of the gun it needs.

Wargaming is aware of the map metas and actively works to tune it. They see the map meta as a feature and they work to try and balance the meta positions so that no side has an advantage over the other – in theory at least.

So then, most maps have three "lanes" to them that are the main meta positions in sequence – "Left", "Right", and "Centre". (There are exceptions, but this is broadly true). Of these lanes, one is normally full of high cover that protects the flanks of the tanks in these positions, and is somewhat arty-safe, one is a series of reasonably strong positions linked by open areas, and one is wide open and exposed to one or both of the other lanes, sometimes with intermediate positions offering concealment (bushes) but little to no cover (rocks, houses, and the like).

Not every lane on every map exactly matches these descriptions, but generally, these categorizations hold.

Meta Rule #1 – Each Lane Must Be Covered Off

A team that does not move forces to have (at least) vision into each lane, and (better) enough firepower to at least delay (if not stop outright) an enemy push through the lane, will almost certainly lose.

This is a consequence of two things:

  1. You would think that the principle of "concentration of force" would give an advantage to the team that lemming-rushes a single lane – and indeed, these rushes can succeed if every player commits to the rush. In reality, what happens is that the rush slams on the brakes at first contact because nobody wants to get hit. So instead of a wave that overwhelms the defenders in that lane, what you get is a traffic jam where the frontage of the lane is not wide enough to allow every attacker to be firing from a covered position – so a lot of guns are silent.

  2. Meanwhile, the enemy on the undefended lane(s) have counted noses, realize the lane they have covered off on is undefended, and they can push hard, unopposed, and either wreck/capture the base or flank and wreck the lemmings (depending on the relationship between lanes on that specific map).

The collerary to this is that a couple of guns in a lane can usually stop a rush and buy time for either a push into the undefended lanes and/or a redistribution of forces to abandon the empty lanes and bring more guns to the defence of the lane being rushed.

Bottom line: leaving a lane undefended usually equals a loss.

Meta Rule #2 – Heavy Tanks are the Arm of Decision

Heavy tanks have one major advantage over the other tank types, and it is true at every tier – heavy tanks have more HP.

Armour isn't statistically important – good players can hit weak spots and/or shoot gold (or in the worst case, HE) so armour cannot be relied on. But heavy tanks always have more HP. This means that heavy tanks last longer in a head to head fight against other tank types. If you line up 8 heavies vs 8 mediums in a straight-up slap fight, the heavies will win because they can take more hits even without armour. It takes a long time to burn down a Maus, no matter how much HEAT you sling at it.

On every map, there is a lane that offers decent cover getting to it from spawn, that offers cover to the flanks and/or overly exposes approaches to the flanks, and cuts down frontage to a couple of tanks wide. This area is usually a "city" or similar built-up area, but doesn't have to be. WG calls these the "heavy brawling area" and they are there by design.

Failure to send heavies to these areas is almost always a loss. On most maps, failure to send all the team heavies (plus any "assault TDs", like the T95 Doomturtle) to this area, is a loss.

The reason is pure HP vs HP. These areas allow tanks to "peek a boom" from cover, where they can usually reload in safety. Each "peek" is an opportunity to both deal and receive damage (and many players will do both). Accordingly, the forces in this line grind each other down until one side is dead – and if one side sent a heavy someplace else, now that lane has a full heavy worth of HP left (potentially distributed amongst multiple guns) pushing down a covered lane to a position where they can engage other lanes.

There are one or two maps where the "heavy lane" is so defensible and so narrow that it can be held long enough so that a mobile heavy can join another lane and maybe tip the balance, and there is one map in particular where there are two heavy lanes that can work – but for the most part, if you are in a heavy tank, you MUST go to the heavy brawling area and do your job, or the team loses – double that if the heavy is top tier.

A heavy tank camping base is a loss, 90% of the time. A heavy tank joining the mediums is a loss, 80% of the time (somewhat map dependent and depending on how mobile the heavy is)

…to be continued…


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