Thursday, October 10, 2013

Warcraft 3 Reminiscence: Tank Wars/Battletanks

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It's been way too long since I've done this. I don't know how often I'll be updating this particular series (it will receive updates though occasionally) but I did want to discuss a certain map since it seems appropriate to do so. For anyone who's read my articles lately, I like to talk about League of Legends a lot. However, like in the case of some other League of Legends veterans, my MOBA experience dates back to the days of Warcraft 3 back when the MOBA genre was better known as "AoS" or "Aeon of Strife," the map that led to the well-known DotA (that led to what we have now).

However, this article isn't to talk about DotA. While my Warcraft 3 custom map "career" eventually led to playing it, it was long after a few other MOBA-style maps I also played. The first of these was Orcs vs Humans. However, I don't remember enough about the map to write an article about it. The second (set of maps, really), on the other hand, I have plenty of memories of as the play style was and is unique compared to the play style of current MOBAs. It almost blows my mind how a well-known standalone game based on this type of map hasn't been made yet. The maps I am referring to are Tank Wars and Battletanks.


Tank Wars and Battletanks (which I will from here on in refer to as Tank Wars collectively), like other MOBA-style maps, have two set teams with the objective to destroy the other team's base (in this case, the headquarters or equivalent). In order to achieve victory, players have to defeat minions and enemy players while taking control of objectives such as towers or factories (either through destruction or conquest). There are typically also "lanes" that minions go down and towers protect (usually three like DotA or LoL). However, from there on in the differences become apparent.

Unlike in many other MOBAs where players can choose a champion and build items to increase statistics that benefit said champion, in Tank Wars every player starts as a tank pilot (so to speak) with a bit of gold and many vehicle options to choose from. Vehicles have unique sets of abilities along with varying levels of durability. As players advance through a match, they can acquire enough money to upgrade to stronger vehicles.

In addition to this, players have access to stat-boosting items, which is typical of most MOBAs, though upgrades tend to emphasize durability or mobility as opposed to increasing offensive potential. Instead, players can purchase weapons for their tanks with more expensive weapons being more efficient in terms of damage output. Weapons can also have unique traits such as the ability to target only enemy tanks or structures. Since tanks do not typically have a standard method of attack, these weapons function as the tank's ability to deal damage. However, unlike autoattacks from the usual units, weapons autofire, making for different tactical decisions since the autofiring algorithm cannot be controlled directly but with practice can be utilized by players by proper positioning. Weapons can be stacked up and, in the case of later versions of Battletanks, upgraded to a second special tier for a gold cost directly in the player's inventory.
In this picture the Swarm Rocket weapons are being utilized to destroy an enemy Cannon Tower.
With the way weapons work, a problem is presented in terms of how a player can earn money since creep waves have bounty attached to them. In most versions of Tank Wars, this is resolved by having periodic income that is distributed to all players directly from the computer player on their team (the "player" that controls the creep waves). The size of the income is based on the money that said computer player earned from various bounties along with accumulated gold over time much like all players normally earn. Overall, while this alleviates the problem, proper weapon handling will still separate the great players from the good players because as mentioned before, positioning is key and getting in range to fire on creeps just before they die will usually net the kill gold, which will be more beneficial for the player getting that kill gold.

The various types of Tank Wars maps also feature their own unique traits. For instance, in Battletanks the periodic income is noticeably higher and destroyed towers can be rebuilt at the cost of gold. In Tank Wars Revolution, there are neutral minion camps much like the "jungle" in DotA or LoL with superboss enemies that can drop money and weapons, which are both a boon to the killing team (these usually don't respawn).

Final Statements

Overall, the Tank Wars maps are similar to other MOBAs in some ways but dramatically different in others. The play style that one learns while playing Tank Wars is so different that, as I mentioned before, I feel it's deserving of a standalone game. While it doesn't necessarily have to be themed around tanks (as there are other types of maps like this like Battleship, if I recall correctly), it should retain the gameplay the maps represent. Back during the high point of Warcraft 3 custom play, many Tank Wars tournaments were run much like DotA, though probably on a smaller scale, which is why DotA and maps like it received recognition while maps like Tank Wars didn't.


  1. OMG I want this to be a stand alone! screw dota, this was my game.

    1. I agree. I feel like the Tank Wars/Battletanks MOBA style would be a fascinating addition to what is traditionally a three-lane, buy items for stats and acquire levels for skills champion. While there are similarities, the play styles are very different (not to mention there were several different Tank Wars/Battle Tank map layouts)