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I'm playing German artillery primarily.

One round in Loltraktor, a brief and painful adventure in G.Pz.Mk. IV, a brief hesitation between Wespe and Bison, and a breath of relief as I decided upon Wespe, primarily attracted by lean looks of Pz.Sfl.IVb.

Despite slow reload times and slow aiming times, Wespe was a very nice vehicle because I could follow an enemy with the gun while waiting for the reticle to zero in, then shoot, turn the vehicle and repeat - about 40 degrees gun rotation freedom was very liberating after constantly losing focus with G.Pz.Mk. IV.

That adventure lasted some, then came Pz.Sfl.IVb and it was even better. Reasonable reload times, even better aiming times and nearly 90 degrees turret turn angle! I could sit in one bush motionless and cover almost whole field with my fire!

And then came Grille.

Grille has about +/-5 degrees turret rotation angle before it has to turn whole. Poor reload times, poor aiming times (and ridiculously short distance of the first gun!), poor slug travel time - the only redeeming feature being reasonably strong second gun - if I hit, I hit hard.

Still, hitting anything is nearly impossible. Let the numbers speak: my TEAM win ratio with Pz.Sfl.IVb is 59%. My TEAM win ratio with Grille is 40%. I guess this shows how utterly useless I am in combat with it.

I know about "X" locking the vehicle movement, but I don't know how to use it efficiently; I mean it doesn't prevent the enemy from exiting my field of fire anyway. I know how to hide well, frequently I'm the last vehicle left... that is unless enemy scout drives into our team and makes me their team's first point. I know SPGs make very poor brawlers but I do know they can stand their ground against single, weaker vehicles - well, I can't. I think I survived a 1:1 encounter maybe two times total. Of course due to need to turn constantly my hiding ability suffers. But worst of all is landing a normal hit.

So, I get the enemy into reticle. Nicely, snugly into the middle of field of fire. The reticle closes in, then the enemy vanishes or starts to move, and before I have the shot ready they are far. Or I zeroed in, and then they move while the absolutely sluggish slug flies there. Or they hide behind a cover. Another enemy comes, and I turn to them, the whole vehicle turns, and we begin the game of zeroing in again.

With fast slugs, with ability to follow the opponent, I was a god. Currently I'm a nuisance to the team as they count on my support and it never comes.

And from what I know, next one - Hummel - is about the same, as well as most of what is left in German Artillery.

How to play this type of artillery efficiently?


Extra notes: I don't intend to buy gold. Too prone for slippery slope, pay once, pay forever. Currently the crew is 69%; another team is being schooled in Pz.Sfl.IVb to 100% to be transferred when maxed out. I have researched and bought all there was.
I use extensions for faster reloading, faster aiming and better suspension (It was necessary to mount the better gun without earning even more XP on the abysmally bad first gun but if you recommend something else, I can remove it now. Anyway, with the constant turning the masking net is not nearly as useful as in two previous ones.)

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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted
+50

Most SPGs have rather small gun arc so you need to plan what you do beforehand. Most SPGs with big gun arcs are the ones which were added in 8.6 patch (the patch that nerfed SPGs to the ground). That means you need to know the maps well, know where you can shoot to which positions and where the enemy is going to be usually. Plan ahead and preaim, dont be hasty in swapping targets around the map and focus on one area at the time. Patience is needed and its quite dull at some points too, unfortunately.

Buying gold ammo for SPGs is not really needed. I have 2 T10 artys (US and French) and I havent really used any premium ammo along the way.

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Most of your advice (maybe except "don't be hasty in swapping targets around the map") is applicable to "turretful" SPGs just the same (and often it's the turretless that have better arcs). Again, today: Pz.Sfl.IVb 4 kills, 7 hits; Grille: 2 splash, 0 kills. –  SF. Aug 29 '13 at 19:54
    
True, but SPGs with small arcs need to be more careful with what they do. I myself am a rather hasty and aggressive player and I enjoyed the French SPGs a lot, because they had decent arcs and specifically they had quick aim time and short reload. My stats on T92 on the other had arent so great cause I dont tend to be patient enough with it. One thing that is extremely handy with SPG with small gun arc is getting a mod that shows the bounds so you dont turn your arty by accident (eg. curse.com/wot-mods/worldoftanks/dar-artillery-sight). –  Kemu79 Aug 30 '13 at 18:49
    
BETTER CREW, the mod is immensely helpful, and hunting big, fat, slow heavy tanks (with a gun that can handle them) instead of pecking tank killers (which gun of the previous one could handle, not scratching the surface of heavies) appears to be the key. I'm back into positives in team victory ratio with Grille, and I can see the scales of the battle turning when I get "into the zone" –  SF. Aug 31 '13 at 22:11
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I've learned to use these and added my experiences to the Grille page. Quoting myself from wiki:

If you transfer from Pz.Sfl. IVb Grille can be extremely frustrating before you learn to entirely change your play style. While Pz.Sfl. IVb is excellent against light tanks and lightweight TDs with its fast reload, fast aim, large traverse, short travel time, and relatively low damage, Grille is its exact opposite.

  • First, change your targets: hitting a distant, fast-moving light tank becomes nearly impossible, while sluggish heavies that would shrug your rounds off so far receive devastating damage.
  • You must learn to lock tracks (X) and be patient while waiting for your target to stop, reappear or return into aim zone while another juicy morsel loiters just in the corner of your screen: aim times are long, and by the time you have your other target locked in, they will be on the move.
  • Learn to prioritize on distant targets: small traverse angle means very narrow cone covered nearby; the field covered by your fire near the opposite end of the map is much larger;
  • let your allies handle dogfight with immediate threats that keep moving around, while you pick out all the distant campers. You can do more harm than good with your sluggish slugs in a rapid melee.
  • Do not hesitate to request help from allies if you notice enemy scout approaching; your defensive capabilities against fast-moving enemies are pathetic. You're better off either picking out distant enemies or sitting still and quiet under camouflage net while allies kill the approaching scout.
  • One of the steepest trajectories in the German artillery allows you reach enemies hidden behind obstacles they believe completely safe. Recheck old "hopeless" spots, some of them are within your reach now!
  • Good crew becomes essential because the difference in aim and reload times between good and poor crew make or break the usability of this SPG. Modules like Shell Rammer and GND are immensely useful too and with massive damage dealt to heavies resulting in much better financial income your budget should afford them rather quickly.
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I will add some to the already excellent answers.

If you must rotate your hull to aim at a target, rotate it manually to point directly at the target. If you let the gun auto-rotate, your target will be at the edge of your arc and any slight movement of the target will cause your hull to rotate again.

\   T   /
 \     /
  \   /
   \ /
    A

If your target is moving across your view, rotate your hull so you have your full aiming arc to work with along their direction of travel.

\T-->   /
 \     /
  \   /
   \ /
    A

Fire across the map. Though this reduces your accuracy, it increases the area you can cover, is more likely to provide you with side shots against thin armor (HE does more damage), and the enemy is less likely to be in hard cover from that angle.

       /  EB
      /
     /     *
    /
   /
  A---------

FB

EB = Enemy base
FB = Friendly base
 A = You
 * = Likely cluster of enemy tanks

Move the cursor slowly. Fast motions causes more bloom.

Use a mod which shows your aiming arc, such as MeltyMap's MathMod.

Use a utility like Tank Inspector to learn what tanks have what armor where.

And as a general rule for playing artillery, learn what tanks to fire at for the biggest bang for the buck.

  • Slow moving tanks
  • Sniping tanks (which tend to not move much)
  • Tanks not being fired upon (they are less likely to move)
  • Tanks with lots of targets (likely to have target fixation and forget about arty)
  • Tanks with lots of HP but thin armor (Leopard 1, for example)
  • Tanks with open tops or weak spots
  • Tanks with their side or rear facing (less armor, bigger target)
  • Clusters of tanks (over or under shoot is more likely to hit)
  • Tanks involved in peek-a-boo battles (they're predictable)
  • Tanks your team will have difficulty penetrating from the front
  • Tanks with a high alpha damage (Rhm. WT)

For example, a side shot on a T28 Prototype engaged in a close range battle around some rocks. The T28 is slow, has an open top, has thin side armor, has 1100 HP (your shell will do full damage), and is moving predictably.

Another example, a front shot on a sniping Hellcat. You can one shot a Hellcat, it has thin armor and an open top, and it's good to eliminate that 90mm gun quickly. However, it is fast which makes it a difficult target. On the 3rd hand, many Hellcat drivers will snipe from the same position. So it is necessary to observe the behavior of a particular Hellcat driver and decide if they're a camping sniper or not.

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