These are basic tank tactics that every driver should use on the battlefield.
Don't knock down trees! It gives the enemy your location even if they can't see your tank and tells the enemy arty where you are hiding. Sometimes, on maps with lots of open range, you should knock trees down to hide in their brush.
Main page: Tactics: Scouting
Scouting is a key feature in World of Tanks. Scouting is where a tank spots a tank or tanks on the enemy team. This role can be filled by any tank, but it is best carried out by the light tanks in battles, due to their speed, view range, and camo that no other tank can match. It is not recommended to play any scout lines unless the player is well familiarized with the game mechanics. A good key feature to being a scout is having good radio communications. A light tank without a good radio is a burden to the team so be sure to check out the upgrades for each light tank that you use before battle. Another good idea for scouting is to wait for the Artillery to get into place, that way they have a chance to be in position to take out any enemy tanks that you may run into while out scouting ahead of everyone.
Use the terrain to your advantage. "Fire from Cover" or "Fire and Cover" (a.k.a. "Peek-a-boo"). Find solid cover, such as a building, rock, hill or tank corpse. Duck out to fire, then pull back behind cover while reloading. This way you can deal damage and be protected while you reload.
Use the terrain to your advantage. You can protect yourself while still returning fire from a "hull down" position using a hill or ridge. This means the hull of your tank is below the ridge line and only your turret is exposed. Duck out to fire, then pull back behind cover while reloading. Note that this is the preferred strategy for American tanks which are designed with better-than-average turret armor and gun depression for the price of less-than-average hull armor.
Don't expose yourself to multiple targets. This can mean anything from using cover to confront one enemy at a time to avoiding obvious choke points on the map.
Tanks cresting a ridge are particularly vulnerable. They expose the weak underside of their glacis plate without being able to return fire. Tracking (destroying the tracks of) high priority tanks when they're atop the ridge allows allies to shoot them when they're exposed and helpless to retreat.
Firing from a high ridge can be risky by exposing your underside to fire, but can pay off big by hitting the soft topside of tanks.
Flank your enemy's weak sides and rear, especially against slower targets. Tanks have heavy armor up front, lighter armor on the sides and are weakest in the rear. A quick medium tank may be able to outmatch a stronger heavy tank by simply outmaneuvering it and firing at its weakest points while avoiding its slowly rotating turret. This is particularly effective in one-on-one combat on open ground where there's little cover.
Note that the T-34 is charging straight at the Tiger, which allows the Tiger to shoot off the T-34's tracks. Flanking ingame is best done with two smaller tanks against one heavier tank, allowing one of the lighter tanks to get close while the heavy tank destroys the other flanker. In more hilly maps a lone medium tank can successfully flank a heavy tank from the side if able to approach the target unnoticed.
Don't allow yourself to be flanked - one-on-one. When engaging a single enemy that's trying to flank you, continue to turn and face him while reversing. This will force him to make a wider turn than you, exposing his weaker side armor while he must penetrate your thick front armor. This is especially important when driving non-turreted tank destroyers, which have thick frontal armor and a fixed, powerful cannon.
Don't allow yourself to be flanked - multiple targets / forward threat (more common). When multiple enemies are attempting to flank you or you're about to be flanked while there's the threat of enemy fire from forward your position, simply reverse, keeping your front armor facing the most serious threat (whether that be one of the flanking tanks or a sniping tank directly in front). This will delay the enemy from flanking your rear, allowing you to get shots off in the mean time. Remember to concentrate your damage on one target until it's gone or you are.
By tracking your enemy, you'll "stop them in their tracks." Tracking (short for "De-Tracking"), or destroying the tracks, renders a tank immobile until the crew is able to repair it. You can track a tank by ramming it (dependent on the speed and weight of the "rammer" and "rammed") or firing upon the tracks. Tracking high priority targets in the open will make them vulnerable to artillery fire. If you have teammates behind you in a lane (like on a city map) and a tank pops out from a building/street in front of you...track it! Every tank sitting behind you can get a free shot, track it again, and hopefully destroy it before it can get behind cover again.
Aim for weakspots If flanking is not tactically feasible, then engaging weakspots on a heavily-armored opponent may be the only option. The weakspots on every vehicle is different, and not all vehicles have frontal weakspots. Oftentimes, it is a commander's cupola or hull-mounted machine gun. Some vehicles, such as the E-100, Maus and the Churchill series, have relatively weak turret cheeks, and a sufficiently high-powered cannon may be able to punch through them. Note that ear-like protrusions for rangefinders such as those found on the T29 or the cupolas of some French TDs are not weakspots, as they are not part of the vehicle's hitbox.
Attacking tank destroyers from the front can mean certain death due to their often both thick and sloped frontal armor and powerful forward-locked gun, but their weak side and rear armor and inability to shoot in any direction but forward means tracking them and maneuvering around them can make for an easy kill. Note that some US, UK and German tank destroyers are equipped with slowly turning turrets, meaning you'll still have to move in a circle around your target, though due to the slow turrets, these TDs are still not much of a threat if tracked.
Your odds of survival increase when sticking together. Except for certain circumstances, supporting one another in groups is preferable to going rogue and venturing out by yourself. When you're together, you can deal more damage and spread the damage dealt, attacking and defending more effectively. This can mean staying together even if you don't agree with the strategy--a coordinated bad plan has a higher chance of success than an uncoordinated bad plan. What this doesn't mean is cluster en masse--when the majority of your team takes one route, it exposes other flanks, giving a coordinated enemy an easy victory.
Destroy one at a time. Targeting one enemy at a time until they're destroyed is better than targeting multiple tanks simultaneously, as it quickly removes that tank and its ability to deal damage, where as a half-damaged tank can still deal full damage.
Prioritize your targets. Know yourself. Are you a heavy tank, a medium tank, a TD? For example, as a heavy tank, you shouldn't waste time firing upon an "easy kill" when there's a more prevalent threat, such as an enemy heavy behind cover waiting to duck out and fire. Just the same, as a medium tank, don't waste your fire on targets you know you can't penetrate, go for the softer ones to support your heavies. An exception to this is when the "easy kill" target is scouting your position for enemy artillery or a heavy target is about to capture your base. In both cases, the tank has just become a bigger threat and primary target.
Use more armored friendlies as cover to avoid fire, especially when supporting heavy tanks against enemy heavies. Stay alive so you can continue to dish out damage and support your team. Be aware of their intentions and don't block their path to retreat behind cover.
Don't be predictable, it's easy to counter.
Fire ahead of fast moving targets. In World of Tanks, once fired, shots take an arcing path (gravity exists but the your aiming reticle accounts for the shell drop from gravity, so aim for what you want to hit) over a certain time (dependent on distance and shell velocity, slower shells have a higher arc, while faster shells have a lower). This delay means you must aim a certain distance in front of the target's path depending on the target's speed and distance from you--called the Angle of Deflection. If calculated properly, the shell will reach its target just as the enemy drives into your line of fire. Shell Speed and tank speed are a relatively small factor in the equation to lead a tank. But your Lag is a much bigger factor when firing at a rapidly moving tank.
Don't be afraid to run away. If your strategy is failing or you're against impossible odds, instead of suicide rushing toward the enemy, retreat, regroup and change your strategy.
Continue to coordinate your attack as events develop. In the example above, as the two enemy heavy tanks are distracted, medium tanks take a flank position. Split into groups and work together to overpower the enemy in a coordinated effort. Use cover, camouflage, terrain and the abilities of the tanks at hand to your advantage.
Keep it moving on open terrain. Exposed , a sitting tank is a soon-to-be-scrap tank. Slow or stop, quickly aim and fire, then continue to take up a better position against the enemy while reloading. If you stand still, you'll be easy prey for enemy tanks and artillery.
Slant your armor to decrease the angle of impact. Slanting your tank (30-40 degrees) toward an enemy will decrease the angle of impact and improve the chances the round will fail to penetrate (ricochet). Be aware, this can increase your angle of impact for an enemy to the far right or far left forward your position, which is why it's best used in tighter spaces or one-on-one combat. Not always angled tank guarantees bounces so be cautious peeping out of corners.
Hug the edge while rounding cover to expose yourself to as little enemy fire as possible. In areas where tanks will build up on opposite sides of a ridge, running out into the open is certain death. If you're unable to help duke it out while rounding the ridge, try changing your tactics and taking a different route.
Beware enemy baiting tactics and learn how to use them to your advantage. You may get more than you bargained for by cresting a ridge or moving through a choke point to get to a tasty kill. Know how to spot obvious baiting, note enemy behavior and the map for potential sniper locations.
Main page: Tactics: Sidescraping and Reverse Angling
An alternative to moving the front of your tank slightly around a corner, firing, and then backing up again ("Peek-a-boo") is to maneuver your tank into what's referred to on the forums as the Sidescrape Position. In this position you expose the side of your tank rather than the front, at an angle that presents a very high chance of a ricochet. You also do not move in and out of cover. On German tanks especially, this avoids exposing the front of the tank and potentially taking engine hits. Under many circumstances, this position offers more protection. Just be aware of the enemy(ies) you're facing and the potential downsides.
The reverse angling technique is a variant in which the tank is presenting with its rear oriented towards the opponent. It is normally used on front-mounted turret tanks in order to create better angling for sidescrapes. Good examples of tanks suited for reverse-angles are the IS-3, WZ-111 5A, and Object 260 heavy tanks.
The main downsides are:
- Manoeuvring can be tricky due to the unusual vehicle perspective and the smaller margin for error that can lead to team-mates accidentally pushing you into a less favourable angle, but this can be gotten around with some practice
- Knowing when and where to implement this strategy can take some practice, as not every tank and every position is suitable for it
- Artillery may do more damage as they may have better shots onto your engine deck
- HE does not care about angling or effective armour, so Japanese heavies and British tier X Tank Destroyers are still an issue
Main article: Tactics: Facehugging
Often used when fighting one on one with other tanks. Drive into the face of an enemy opponent and stay there while trading shots, not letting them back up or maneuver around you. This tactic is often a good idea when playing higher tier American tanks against tanks of other nations, or when playing as tank destroyers. They are forced to try to penetrate your tough frontal turret armor or hit your small cupola (which can be avoided by swinging your turret from side to side) while with your good gun depression you can fire onto their upper plate, which is now nearly horizontal. This tactic can often only be used against tanks of similar sizes, as being larger lets the enemy tank shoot your frontal plate while being smaller lets them shoot the top of your turret. Do note that this method is not a good idea for many French tanks, which have weak turrets but strong hulls.
Main article: Tactics: Crackpot Tactics
These are high risk tactics that either require a good knowledge of how to pull them off, or are straight up a dick move in random battles, thus are only really viable in competitive modes.