Gearing Up for Esports: World of Tanks Strongholds

Strongholds was introduced to World of Tanks in Update 9.2, and received a major update in 9.4, currently the most recent patch. It's essentially a new game mode designed to encourage team work, socialising and interest in clan wars and esports. Wargaming wants World of Tanks to be in the top five global esports games based on its success; it reached the 100 million registered players mark in August this year, and while many of those are undoubtedly inactive or duplicate accounts, it's still evident that World of Tanks is hugely successful.

*Gearing Up for Esports: World of Tanks Strongholds  Gearing Up for Esports: World of Tanks Strongholds
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With Update 9.4 released just under a month ago, experienced and dedicated World of Tanks players will likely be familiar with Strongholds, though some may be yet to try it out. However, its main target is the less experienced and more casual and middle ground players, as it's these people that Wargaming wants to develop an interest in higher level play. Though expanding available game modes is nothing new, especially in the free-to-play market, Strongholds is particularly interesting for its aims and target user base. As such, we feel it warrants a more detailed explanation of how it works and how it hopes to achieve its aims. If you are entirely unfamiliar with Strongholds, this video provides a good overview.

Strongholds is available as a new tab in the game client. It's worth pointing out now that Strongholds does not introduce any new payment options – everything within it is free for all players, and there's no way of paying to gain an advantage specifically within Strongholds. Strongholds are effectively virtual bases for clans and their members and are limited to one per clan. Any clan leader (known as a Commander) can create a stronghold for free, though remember it costs 2,500 Gold to create a clan.

*Gearing Up for Esports: World of Tanks Strongholds  Gearing Up for Esports: World of Tanks Strongholds
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A stronghold starts out with a single building, the command centre. However, clans can open up to four zones, each of which has two construction sites where you can build a structure. Only the top two clan ranks (Commander and Executive Officer) can open zones and build structures. The first zone can be opened with any number of clan members, while the second requires at least 30, and 15 more per zone needed after that – your stronghold grows as your clan does. The command centre and structures can both be levelled up (maximum level 10 as of Update 9.4), but the level of the command centre determines the maximum level of any auxiliary structures.

*Gearing Up for Esports: World of Tanks Strongholds  Gearing Up for Esports: World of Tanks Strongholds
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There are currently eight structure types (more are planned), each of which brings with it certain bonuses, known as reserves, for the clan. There's no benefit to repeating buildings, but smaller clans will need to select the most appropriate buildings for them at the time as they grow – reserves include things like additional credits, crew experience, Combat Experience etc. earned in battles as well as the generation of special missions which reward clan members with various rewards if completed. The effectiveness of reserves increases with the level of the parent structure. Reserves can only be activated one at a time and are time-limited (e.g. 4 hours), but during that time their bonuses apply to all clan members in all battles, including those outside of Strongholds.

Reserves are a crucial factor as they generate the main motivation to get involved in Strongholds by providing similar bonuses to those gained with a premium account without the need to spend any real money. It also encourages players to engage with their clan and keep coming back to see when reserves will be active so they can make the most of their play time.

*Gearing Up for Esports: World of Tanks Strongholds  Gearing Up for Esports: World of Tanks Strongholds
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Strongholds runs on a special currency that is unique to the mode called Industrial Resource. You'll need Industrial Resource to build and upgrade structures as well as to prepare reserves. Preparing a reserve is the only way to make it available for use; you can store up to ten reserves per structure, but it does take time (e.g. 1 hour) to prepare them. To build or upgrade a structure, you'll need enough Industrial Resource to fill its durability bar – only structures with 100 percent durability are active. However, each structure also has a set amount of storage for Industrial Resource, which increases with structure level, and you can transfer Industrial Resource between structures as necessary, though you're limited in how much you can transfer in a single job (this increases with the command centre level). Transporting happens instantly, but you'll need to wait a set length of time (e.g. 23 hours) before you can transport any more Industrial Resource to that structure again.

Clearly, Industrial Resource is the lifeblood of a stronghold, and the more you have the better your stronghold will be and the faster it can grow. However, you won't earn any by twiddling your thumbs, nor can Industrial Resource be purchased – the only way to get some is on the battlefield...

*Gearing Up for Esports: World of Tanks Strongholds  Gearing Up for Esports: World of Tanks Strongholds
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The first battle type for Strongholds, introduced in 9.2, is Skirmishes, of which there are three divisions: Medium, Champion and Absolute. These are designed to attract different levels of players, so that less accomplished and less experienced players can still contribute to the clan. They are also meant to get players used to working with their clan as a team, so that tactics can be tested and developed without risking anything within the stronghold. The battle rules and objectives are the standard ones: capture the opposing team's base or destroy all their tanks. At the end, a pool of Industrial Resource is distributed between the two teams according to the total Base Experience (XP that excludes additional bonuses from things like premium accounts, mission rewards etc.) that the teams earned.

*Gearing Up for Esports: World of Tanks Strongholds  Gearing Up for Esports: World of Tanks Strongholds
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Medium division permits Tier I-VI tanks in 7 v 7 matches (minimum 6 per team) with an Industrial Resource pool of 100. Champion is for Tier I-VIII in 10 v 10 matches (minimum 8) with a 150 Industrial Resource pool, and Absolute is for all tanks in 15 v 15 (minimum 12) with 400 Industrial Resource at stake. Once the Industrial Resource is distributed to the teams, it is split evenly between the players, and it is then added to the storage of whichever building each player is garrisoned in. Up to five Legionnaires (non-clan members) can also be invited to participate in Skirmishes, but their share of the Industrial Resource will be irretrievably lost. Likewise, if a building's storage is full, any further Industrial Resource earned by garrisoned players will be permanently lost.
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