HE shells are currently one of the core aspects of WOT, which means that any proposed changes must be analyzed carefully. In my opinion, in the current state, the HE shells on the "final" sandbox test server MUST be reworked before they enter the game. Here's my take:
HE shells can now penetrate screens and enter armor behind screens, meaning that their core mechanics have been changed dramatically. In addition, HE shell damage on a non-penetration has been markedly decreased due to the new methods of calculating HE damage. This change is analogous to the artillery changes that entered the game 3-4 years ago. Artillery was changed from being less consistent but punishing to being less punishing but more consistent. Similarly, the current changes will make HE shells less consistent but much more punishing. Is this what we really want in a game where a random number generator is one of the key elements? Will this change really make the game better?
My opinion is NO. It's vital to understand that HE shells aren't used as a "crutch" for new players, but instead as a last option. If you shoot an HE shell and do 300 damage instead of 750, you've just cut your DPM by more than half. That isn't a crutch, it's a handicap. If you're on the receiving end of HE shell spam, you now have an insane advantage over the enemy, possessing at least 50 percent more DPM along with maintaining the initiative in engagements.
Also, it is absolutely essential to understand why HE shell spam is a problem. Often, it is just not an option to fire any other shell type at the enemy and hope to achieve good results. In a corridor map (extremely common) where tanks mutually support one another and flanking is impossible, if you face a hull-down Super Conq, a side scraping 705A, or a 279E, what options do you have for doing any damage to these tanks? Currently, HE shells are the only option to counter a perfectly played heavy tank.
Critics will claim that consistent damage to perfectly played tanks is a problem, but I do not think this is the case. Once again, firing HE shells dramatically decreases your DPM and gives an advantage to the enemy. It is important to understand that armor does not serve to block shells, it serves to make the enemy aim, to make you survive longer, and to allow you more time to let your gun sing. This is the core principle of armor, and it is represented well in WOT right now. Even modern MBT's use armor not to stop shells, but to get the first shot off or to mitigate as much collateral dmg as possible. Ultimately, it is these results that win engagements.
Of course, effective HE shells are only fired from high-caliber guns. I believe that this isn't a problem whatsoever. With a high-caliber gun, you sacrifice gun handling, DPM, and penetration (on heavies especially) to gain powerful HE shells. Taking this capability away from these guns and making them less consistent is a DIRECT NERF to these tanks.
This argument comes from a player who plays a lot of hull-down tanks (Kranvagn, STB). If an enemy player fires HE at me, they can deal consistent damage, but I can deal damage much more often than they can. It's a tradeoff that some are willing to make.
Anyways, I just believe that the current HE tests are making HE shells less consistent but more punishing some of the time. In a game where randomness is a key factor (seen in maps, opposing tanks, RNG, penetration, accuracy, dispersion, physics), HE shells provide a comforting consistency that only a few large-caliber tanks possess. These tanks make sacrifices to gain this capability. By making these HE shell changes, you are making this game EVEN MORE RANDOM and reducing the options for your playerbase, which is something that I and many people in the community cannot stand for. Please reconsider your HE changes. HE is such a mainstay in the game that changing it will most likely be unsuccessful. Some people say that the sequel is always worse than the original. Please apply this to your balancing as well.
-a WOT player who is just concerned about the game's future