Friday, May 24, 2013

World of Tanks cheat: the exploit

This is the final part of a series, see part 4, 3, 2 and 1 first.

Every cheat is an inbalance in the game. Every inbalance can be exploited. The exploit is the ultimate proof, everything else can be disproved. I can write essays about a hidden door in the wall, I can use lot of evidence, I can be as careful as I am and I can still be wrong. There is one unquestionable way to prove the existence of the door: open it and walk trough it. I did walk trough the back-door built into World of Tanks and after reading this, you can too. People who abandon the game over being cheated can be replaced by new victims. But those who walk the back door cannot be ignored as they ruin the game for others. Also, it's pretty easy to, so I expect it to become the standard way of farming credits/XP.

What does the cheat want? To equalize the income people earn in a battle. It doesn't matter how good or bad you are, you gain generally the same amount of credits over hundreds of battles. The cheat is very well-written. When I wrote the old articles a year ago, we tried countless ways to break it, some worked for a while but the algorithm adopted or got improved and we were back where we started. There can be ways we couldn't figure out, but it doesn't matter. After you earned well for a couple dozen matches, the game will place enough handicap on you to push you back to the average. There is nothing you can do to increase your credits/battle, the cheat cannot be defeated.

But why would you care about your credits/battle? Your resource is time, not battle count. You want to increase your credits/hour. Credits/hour = credits/battle * battles/hour. The first is constant. The second can be exploited. All you need is to participate in lot of battles in an hour:

I started a new account to test the exploit independently. My purpose was to die as fast as I could. I tried to shoot and cause as much damage as I could before dying but ignored strategy and just rushed head-first into the enemy. My winrate started to drop, as I played as a horrible idiot. But soon, the algorithm recognized that I'm a "for fun" player and started to help me, bringing my winrate up to 50%:

By horrible zerging I could get the length of my participation in battle down to two and a half minutes, including the countdown and the waiting for the game to form. The same length with normal playing was around 10 minutes with the tank destroyers. What were the results?
In Tier3 and 5 I had top 1% winrate with the TD and below average as zerg. I had 3x more damage and kills with TD than I had with mindless zerging, but my XP/battle was only 1.5x higher! With Tier 4 I had above average winrate with both, due to AMX 40 can't really zerg and Alecto is a horrible TD. There I had "just" 2x more kills and damage and the same XP/battle. It is a proof for the cheat itself: in all cases I got twice as much XP/damage when I was playing intentionally bad. But the point is that by zerging mindlessly, I could participate in 3-4x more battles, so my XP/hour was 2-2.5x higher!

Unfortunately I did not write down the credit income with the British TDs because I did not know back then that it will be important. However I remember clearly to be credit-limited. The tank was already elite, with all items and the upcoming tank researched but I couldn't buy the next tank due to lack of credits, I had to farm some matches. In case of zerging, I was clearly XP-limited, I had the credits already when the tank missed 20-25% of the XP. It means that my credits/XP ratio increased significantly by zerging. Since my XP/hour is already 2-2.5x higher, it translates to 3-4x more credits/hour while playing horribly.

So to gain awful lot of credits and XP, all you need is fast death. If you have no subscription, use T5 scouts and fast mediums. Have 4 tanks of different nations ready, die fast, join the next battle with the next tank. With subscription, use high-speed Tier 7-8 gold tanks for even more credits! If you start zerging, especially if you had good winrate before, it will take some time for the algorithm to re-align, expect horrible winrate and little income for the first dozen or even hundred of matches. But finally the algorithm will catch up, elevates your winrate to 50% and from there you can just harvest.

You might ask how can one earn credits by playing horribly. If you make no damage, you can't earn anything. Well, I did not say you shouldn't shoot at all, that's stupid. You should shoot at every enemy you can. You'll be lucky! I mean "ammoracking a heavy from front from 300m while running full speed" lucky. Remember the unkillable T-50-2! You'll be that tank! Also, you'll almost always be the highest tier tank in the battle further helping you farm.

For example you rush into the middle of the map, all alone, finding yourself head-on with 5 enemies. Bad luck, right? I mean you can fire once or twice before you die under that fire. Except if you are "lucky":

Or, you rush forward left side, only to notice that by some weird luck, the enemy has lemming train on the other side, so you can reach their flag after meeting only 2 enemies. Then you can cap and kill the returning enemies, including tanks you shouldn't even penetrate, while not getting a scratch:

Of course these are extremes. Usually, you'll die fast after scoring a few hits while on the run, so take every shot you can, "luck" can't help you if you don't help yourself! Go now and break this disgusting cheat! Let's make EVE Incarna riots look like low-profile forum drama. Turn every battle into a zergfest and spread the word! Tell those who naively call you a noob that you are earning 2x more XP and 3x more credits than them by "being a noob". Make them zerg too! Imagine Malinovkas where everyone just run into the middle at the start!

The reason why no one found this result is that they believe that the opposite of good player is the AFK-er. You can't earn credits and XP via being AFK as you don't have hits and also because you'll live long, so your XP/hour will be bad. The weird, multiplication-based subscription is probably created exactly to don't reward AFK-ing. An AFK-er is obvious to his team, so annoys people. A bot is obvious to his team too. But a suicider is simply a dime-a-dozen bad player. The only difference exist in your head, you could play better if you wanted to, while a genuine moron really things that crossing Malinovka field is a good move.

Unlike exploiting a fair game, here you don't have to perform any special moves that could be banned. An AFK-leech can be banned. A gold duper in Diablo III could be banned. An evade-bug or Saronite Bomb raider can be banned. But they can't ban you for playing bad as they'd have to ban half their players. In a fair game the punishment for playing bad is defeat and resource loss. If you'd suicide-rush in League of Legends, you'd lose games in a row and get your rating devastated. If you'd suicide-rush in a WoW battleground, you'd lose games and get much less honor and especially conquest points than normal players. LoL and WoW don't cheat. WoT does, making sure that you get the same rewards for being bad as you'd get being good. So go and be bad!


Solaknir said...

So your great cheat is to do what many people already are doing? Mindlessly charging in? You won´t start a riot with that, as thats pretty much the usual playstyle of great parts of the players.
Encouraging players to do the same is the cheapest thing you said so far.

While I doubt that you get more creds in an hour than with playing actually normal, I cant disprove that. With farming tanks I´m actually quite sure that youd get greater amounts of credits by playing quite, with t8 prem tanks its obvious.

But if you think the sole purpose of WoT is mindless grinding to T10 or whatever ... go ahead, do that. Your statistics will mirror that, and you will end up with greatly sub-par WR.

Anonymous said...

"If you'd suicide-rush in League of Legends, you'd lose games in a row and get your rating devastated."

until you ranking has dropped far enough that you are again paired with other players who also like to suicide rush and are back to winning half of your games.
The IP calculation doesn't care about what level you play at so you will get the same rewards for playing suicide rushes at 300 ELO as you would get for playing "real" games at 1800 ELO.

The only substantial difference to WoT is that IP rewards scale linearly with game duration so you can't (ab)use short games to gain more IP - but, like WoT, LoL doesn't reward you for playing well.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Only SECONDS after reading this I got a email from WoT noting that I haven't played for a while. They are encouraging me to purchase multiple American tanks. I simply cant see the point playing having read these posts. Whether in protest or for fun.

Gevlon said...

@Solaknir: of course many people already use it. This is the very purpose of the developer's cheat: to provide credit income to bad players so they keep paying. The "exploit" is that good players should do something they never thought of doing because they were sure it's unprofitable.

@Anonymous: in LoL rating itself is a goal. It doesn't matter how much IP you have, how many skins and champions you bought, if you are at 300 ELO, you are a useless scrub according to everyone. In WoT there is no such reward for playing well.

John said...

I don't see how this is either an exploit or a solution to force WG to change, since over 75% of the WoT players already play like this.

Anonymous said...

Btw. the same system works for Mechwarrior Online (or at least it did). It was well known there, and got a bit out of hand. It went so far, that the zombie Mech was invented. A mech that never got repaired and walked in without arms most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Solaknir said:
But if you think the sole purpose of WoT is mindless grinding to T10 or whatever ... go ahead, do that. Your statistics will mirror that, and you will end up with greatly sub-par WR.

I say: what is ap purpose of such a game?
For me it is to have fun, and btw i collect tanks so yeah, so having fun grinding a tank is my purpose of the game - f... the winrate f... the stats - btw regarding noobmeter i am continously improving winrate soon exceeding 52% ... bought 500 gold in 2 years.
Even after the mentioned algoryth dropped my T29 3x times in a row being the only tier VII in a tier IX match featuring lemmings on my team.

Gevlon said...

@John: because the other 25% was paying to them. Most players play for free and "have fun". There is nothing to stop you to only play T1 tanks and massacre newbies. Also there is nothing to stop you to farm with T5 tanks and play an occasional higher tier. The game is play for free.

The money came from players who were trying to farm something out, like getting a T10 for clan matches or getting into a new Nation/branch, credits for premium ammo or whatever.

If they can get it 4x faster then they pay subscription 4x shorter time or the developer has to add new tanks 4x faster to keep up.

@Anonymous: I don't know about MWO but it's an universal truth: if some system gives "help" to those who fail, the most effective income source is collecting lot of help. In WoW it's typically done by AFK leeching, in WoT/MWO suicide rushing, in EVE abusing "insurance" and corp reimbursement programs.

PsychoMike said...

" in LoL rating itself is a goal. It doesn't matter how much IP you have, how many skins and champions you bought, if you are at 300 ELO, you are a useless scrub according to everyone. In WoT there is no such reward for playing well."

There is. Just like ELO is a measure to get into teams in LoL, there are winrate/wn7 and other stats that are doing the same thing in WoT.

No good clan will take you in, with those abysmal stats you'll get by zerging. Most clans have some kind of minimum stats you'll have to surpass, to be even thought about as a potential recruit.

Sure, you might get those T10 tanks faster by zerging, but what are those T10 tanks for, if not clan wars?

Also, on your journey to higher tiers, your improvement rate will be much lower, compared to when you try to win every game and do your best. Every player has room for improvement in this game, even the best.

Gevlon said...

@PsychoMike: and what stops you from playing seriously with T9-10 tanks? Actually it's a must as "zerging" with a Maus is weird. You play with your high tier seriously and between games you start your zerg tank and quickly die to support the high-tier with income.

Then you apply to the clan with good winrate with all high tier tanks, you just have to mention "and don't mind my gold tanks, I just suicide-farm with them".

Actually suicide-farming will INCREASE your stats with your "real" tanks as the algorithm will believe you to be a worse player than you are, so you are getting more "luck" while playing with your real tanks.

Foo said...

I assume lolling 10 low level brackets then playing properly at a higher bracket would have an even better earnings outcome.

Caveat: I don't play WoT

PsychoMike said...

"and what stops you from playing seriously with T9-10 tanks? Actually it's a must as "zerging" with a Maus is weird. You play with your high tier seriously and between games you start your zerg tank and quickly die to support the high-tier with income."

Might work for well established players, who know their shit. But new players will just be totally clueless when they finally start playing properly, in their tier9-10 tanks.

All those good players have most of their wanted tanks already though and not so much credit problems either. So there is not that much of an incentive to zerg.

Higher xp/h by zerging has been quite widely known before, but very few have been doing it. I'd rather have fun and challenge myself while playing, instead of zerging and making my mind numb. Ofc, there might be many who wouldn't mind, it's just what I prefer.

Anonymous said...

So what you're saying is that 95% of the playerbase ALREADY figured this out, and rather than being zerging retards they're actually expert players optimizing their XP/hour.

Clearly the zering idiots were smarter than us all along :)

These have been interesting posts. I had noticed odd streaks in my winrate before but didn't try and find out why (such things can happen by accident, I told myself). You did the analysis to discover the way the algorithm works, thank you.

Parapijonis said...

If WinRate correcting cheat works - then how those accounts with 43-45% exist? [are they actively fighting own team to lose?]

Ermak said...

I love the challenge when it's fair on both sides. If Gevlon's theory is true and devs rigged the game then it's fair to me to use that little cheat.
Hope that will get attention of devs before WoT become utterly unplayable.

Anonymous said...

I have to say i'm not at all impressed. You are claiming extraordinary things without giving extraordirary proof. The game's matchmaking is random, not fixed and you have not convinced me otherwise since you present no proof. Assuming random players skill the winchance is 50% and only constant is a good player, who; surprise, surprise have a higer winrate. Why is this not pushed down?

As for the credits its nice for someone to point it out but the mechanics are not known to many and a good explination is welcome. Tier5 has been the moneymaker for free players for the longest time since there is no risk. You will always make some money. I'd still urge you not to rush with tier8 premiums if you play for free; it wont bring as good results as having a good game. One good one will earn you more than having secveral bad ones. Tier8 games last longer anyway so killing yourself quickly might not bring you back the tank any faster.

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: have you actually read the posts? The point isn't that farming in T5 works, that's trivial.

Playing BAD while farming earns you more credits than playing good and it was proved by numbers.

Can you be ANY more extraordinary in a game?

Anonymous said...

>> Actually suicide-farming will INCREASE your stats with your "real" tanks as the algorithm will believe you to be a worse player than you are, so you are getting more "luck" while playing with your real tanks. <<

If that was true, wouldn`t that be the biggest game-braker you just found?
I dont play WoT, but to me it sounds those "Clan Battles" are quite important for many players, if you can cheat here by zerging before, what will happen to the game if the majority realizes this?

Can you come up with some prove for that?

Gevlon said...

I don't think clan wars are affected. There is too much risk and very little gain to rig clan wars.

It affect "random" battles where 99.99% of the players are.

Trebron Znieh said...

Thank you for this series. Now I have hard evidence for what I suspected a long time.
Actually I can live with being put as low tier on in "retard teams". What I cannot live with is that they also mess with my gun penetration, hit rate etc. That's simply not acceptable.
I hope your blog entries help to change this game for the better.

Anonymous said...

>>Playing BAD while farming earns you more credits than playing good and it was proved by numbers.

Can you be ANY more extraordinary in a game?<<

This is not the exraordinary bit i was talking about. WoT has economy to force players to play low tier or pay. They tell players that they will not earn enough on tier8 to play unless they play really well. This is true but requirement is so high that it almost impossible (as you point out). And you earn more if you play well on right tier than if you throw games on wrong tier. If you good enough you earn more with 1 good 10min game than 3 bad 3min games. This is of course unrealistic since you will not win all the time. But still, I'm not seeing what is so extraordinary about it. WG made communist system for their game its WAD.

What I find extraordinary is your claim that playing bad will give you easier games. This you have no proof of.

Anonymous said...

here's a link on wot forum to the wot patent application where they describe their systemfor doing exactly that: giving bad players easier games

Phelps said...

I don't think clan wars are affected. There is too much risk and very little gain to rig clan wars.

It affect "random" battles where 99.99% of the players are.
24 May, 2013 13:38

That jives with my gut feeling. CW battles seem to be less RNG based than random battles. The "boosts" that happen in randoms don't seem to be there for clam wars.

Anonymous said...

Another way the game boost the bad players ( and maybe is worth to be studied ) is the next one :

The MERCY System : You shoot an 8%-12% tank , and instead of kiling it , it survive with 10 points hp , or 1% .

IT doesn't matter your gun hit between 300 and 800 , and that tank have 270 health. You will hit it for 266 for example and he will survive .

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that the system pushes win rate to 50%? There many players with tens of thousands of games and win rate way over 55%, myself included...

Anonymous said...

Isn't a lot of this just ELO?

Unless you are the very best or worst player, you are going to win about half your matches.

Those times in WoW where PvE players needed arena weapons, a very quick initial dozen losses would get you to where you could win 12 of the next 24.

Gevlon said...

Read the previous post: it does NOT want to push people to 50% winrate. It want to push everyone to equal credit gain.

Soliloquy said...

The game's matchmaking is random, not fixed and you have not convinced me otherwise

ofc the MM is fixed, how do you exlain the matches where you go into a 15 min game and 3 mins later your side has won 15-0?

Pheredhel said...

At this point I think there should be well another clarification about ELO and how it is used in various games:

Let's take LoL as an example as the developers actually stated the goals:

The goal of the Elo system in LOL is not and was never to get people to a 50% winrate, it was to give them opponents and teammates with roughly equivalent skill. The roughly 50% winrate just follows from that.

Why is that important? Well, every Idiot can write a system that gives roughly a 50% winrate:
just alter between top teams and bottom of the line teams.. there you go, 50 % winrate, and noone will like it. Or if they loose a number of games, pit them against a very low team to push the winrate again.

WoT seems to do exactly that, if gevlon is right.
If he is right, they don't try to get equal matches, they don't try to keep one metric they like in line... They are fixed on the equivalent of a 50% winrate (in their case a "50% Credit rate" with stupid tools. And this can be exploited.

And for the people talking about fun and loosing: see it that way:

Play "normal" on one account, use a second one for Clan matches.
The second account farms as gevlon described, gets the T10 tanks and so on, and earns the redits by playing bad... problems solved. It is still better farming than doing it on the "normal" tank it seems.

Solaknir said...

Still I dont think WoT is using rigged matchmaking, theres just too many variables the mm would have to consider as there is NO ingame ELO rating.
MM is random from what the tendency of 49% WR comes. Better players achieve wr above that, bad players below.

And I doubt that theres a correlation between stupid playing first and then getting good teams. The MM patent is not yet used its only an option that may come in the future.

Anonymous said...

It's not an exploit :) It's just the basics of game economics. At tier 1-5 the reward for just entering the battle is higher (or nearly the same at 5) as full repair cost. So using such tactics with, say, tier 5 medium tank is quite profitable. But if you try the same at tier 10 - you will be deep down in silver, -20k/battle at best.

The most important is your motivation. What for do you play? To get these credits? Really need virtual money that much?
I play to win each battle. I like overcoming my opponents, I want to prove, that I can be smarter then them. And most memorable battles are those I fought to the end, sometimes bringing victory to my team, sometimes losing – but playing actively. You propose something very different – and useless, in my concern. There is no fun in that, and that's most important – at least for me.

Mike (RU - Colibri_Warrior)

Gevlon said...

Tier 5s being more profitable than Tier 8s is a design choice.

Playing tier 5s bad being more profitable than playing them good is an exploit.

If the game wouldn't be cheating it would be impossible, as an intentionally bad player would have one or two hits before he dies.

Anonymous said...

Привет, Goblin, ty for research

1. Do you know that in current patch TDs receive only 0,66(0,5 for arty) of EXP gained for dmg dealt? So, it will be more accurate to measure xp/battle beetwen LTs and MTs only.
2. 30 minutes ago I created guide-thread at official russian forum, where I wrote some major conclusions from your blog. Aaaaand...
Got banned 7 minutes later. =D Looks like proof of unfair balancer system.

ChewiKowalski_HK said...

Hmm. In Tier 4 Battles the average skill level is so bad that by actually effectively scouting and almost mindlessly charging you will influence the outcome more as the majority of cautious basecampers that just sit and snipe is less effective than you are.

I would be astonished if your findings hold true with Tier 7+ vehicles. Average skill level is higher in these matches and mindless playing is sanctioned by the opposition.

scotth said...

WoT is set up with different cost and income multipliers at different tiers. Tier 5 is generally the maximum income versus cost, which is pretty well known.

At lower tiers it is pretty much impossible to lose money, for a number of reasons. WoT does not want to discourage new players, and they want to encourage people to go back and play lower tiers so that those tiers are not empty. Again, this is pretty well known.

Not sure what the point is of showing you can still make money and get experience with poor play at lower tiers, pretty much anyone that has played WoT know this. Try this strategy with a tier 7 or 8 tank and I think you will get very different results. Even with a premium tier 8 tank, credits earned correlates with damage done, so you don't want to rush in and die.

Emmanuel ISSALY said...

I stopped playing WoT :)
It's the only game i know cynical enough to repetively offer real money goods (premium tanks), and nerf them afterwards when they stop selling enough. If that wasn't virtual goods, it would be instant win lawsuit. Good work on the post gevlon, interesting read :-)

Anonymous said...

Since the beginning of WOT I noticed the strange patterns. I talked on the forums and soon became the Tin hat person that got laughed at. However, I did the zerg thing lots and I leveled tanks fast. Yes it killed my win rate overall but I had money to spend always. Now nearly 2 years after that I play carefully and smart and guess what? With 8.6 my win rate has again plummited to 40%
Seems that I'm getting nothing but matches where my chance of winning is 30% or less! Hummmm. Time for my tin hat again

Anonymous said...

With an average XP of 469 per game I don't think your cheat is working.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you and from now on i am going to troll the game, i m going rush almost every battle and see what it brings. I dont care about stats in this game so ill give it a try.

Anonymous said...

"With an average XP of 469 per game I don't think your cheat is working."

It's not about XP/battle, it's about XP/minute or hour. If your battle is 10min long, and you get 469 exp per battle that's 2814 exp per hour. But if your battle lasts 5min, that's 5628 exp per hour. I know that if you die faster, you will also get less XP and credits, but if you die fast enough it actually becomes profitable. That's what I think.

Anonymous said...

Your main assumption is already flawed:

That *you* are a constant in the game. You are not. You have good days and bad days. No matter your tactic (rushing or not), some days you aim better or faster, make better split-second decisions. I see the same up and down with my win rate, but I am honest enough to realise that when it went down for a week, I was playing worse than normal.

Also, some other claims are clearly wrong, such as hill being crucial on himmelsdorf encounter. It's not. I've won several times when my team ignored the hill and instead defeated their rear support, and set up enough defense to blow the enemies rushing off the hill.

Also, your data is by far not significant enough.

Chad Bronson said...

The most interesting point is the spawn points. To me, that explains the 15-0 games. Generally the tanks are even (and with XVM showing the players efficiency is usually split evenly on both sides).

Where each tank starts is huge, as well as where it goes and what it goes with. I've been on 15-0 wins and losses, and the "tactics" is what has stood out to me as the overwhelming factor in the match.
Can't say I agree with it all, but definitely thought provoking, nice job!

Anonymous said...

Bit of an old discussion, but the reason "zerging" was giving as good of exp/credits as it was, is because in WOT you get credits/exp for spotting enemy tanks (Initial spots) and for lighting enemy tanks (Spotting them while your team lands damage on them). By zerging in, you get a higher amount of initial spots, and also have a good chance of your less suicidal team finding good shots against an enemy that is lit up before they are ready (And in many cases stop in the open to shoot the zerging tank).

So yes, in terms of exp/credits an hour, you can make more by suicide rushing than you can by being an average/decent player. However, it is less fun, and good players still make more exp by playing well.

As far as there being a built-in mechanic to keep WR at 50%, that is a fallacy. The odds are that if you do not significantly help or hinder your team, you will have a 50/50 chance of your team winning. Good players have good WRs. Bad players have bad WRs (For the most part, some people are lucky and/or get carried a lot). As a pure solo player with a couple thousand tier 10 matches, I had a 68% WR in tier 10. That was because I affected the game much more than an average player. At tier 1 and 2 where the "average player" is much worse, I had a WR of over 90% (I didn't sealclub too often, a couple hundred games).

Playing better than your opponents gives you a better chance of raising your WR. The 50% WR mechanism is a fallacy whose "evidence" is based of normal probabilities.

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