Hi YouTube, Darth Here:
This is Against the Grain, a series where I try out strategies and tactics that I normally
just don’t use, and I see what I can learn. In previous episodes, I tried nothing but
knives, all magnums, and punching straight up the gut in Operation Lockers. Today, I’m
going to talk about my experiences when using smokescreen on armored vehicles.
Ever since the release of Battlefield 4, after I had unlocked active protection I used nothing
else on my vehicles. It’s pretty easy to use: you anticipate damage or start taking damage,
and ta-da: you stop taking projectile damage for roughly five seconds. Now there are some
bugs in active protection, but that’s generally how it works.
But with smokescreen, I unlocked it, and maybe tried it for a few rounds and promptly moved
on to active protection. It never seemed to provide a tangible benefit that I could see,
and it just didn’t sound all that appealing. Until an episode of Over Your Shoulder a few
weeks ago, I really hadn’t seriously considered smokescreen an option. I was shocked that
a top tanker was even using it. I think it’s partly because smoke’s benefits
are not really conveyed by the in-game description, and are also hard to quantify. Here are some
key bits of information about smokescreen: when you use it you drop off the minimap and
cannot be spotted for six seconds. You do not have to stay in the smoke for this effect
to work, and even if your secondary gunner is firing, you’re still invisible on the minimap.
Secondly-and this is not well conveyed by the text-you take the minimum amount of damage
from projectiles while you’re inside the smokescreen. The in-game text refers to critically damaging
hits from missiles, which is exceptionally misleading.
So I’ll get back to those key distinctions later, but I want to talk more about my specific
experiences with smokescreen, and what I learned as a result of using it.
When I first equipped smokescreen, I nearly abandoned it immediately. It’s definitely
not active protection, and it will not save you from circumstances where active protection
might otherwise. I ended up dying pretty frequently because I needed to understand that smokescreen
is more about damage reduction and avoidance than damage prevention.
So I started using it in a much more active manner. Rather than waiting for a fight to
begin, I’d pop the smoke if I knew I was sneaking up on an armored target. Because smokescreen
has as recharge time of only twelve seconds, it’d be back up by the time I engaged my target.
And this is a key distinction between active protection and smokescreen. Smokescreen is
up for six seconds, which is nearly half of its recharge time of twelve seconds. Active
protection is up for five seconds, and then has to recharge for a full twenty-five seconds
before it can be activated again. So smokescreen can be almost constantly up, whereas active
protection is almost always down. I did notice one exceptional disadvantage
of running smokescreen in any situation, though, and that was against air power. Unless I was
able to break locks, it was a guaranteed sixty damage any time a jet locked onto me with
guided missiles. If there were two jets attacking me simultaneously, or if I were in hardcore,
this was usually fatal. And unlike regular projectiles, guided projectiles will always
do full damage to tanks in smokescreen. This is because their minimum damage is also their
maximum damage, so smokescreen does not reduce this damage. So you take full damage from
smart projectiles like the Javelin, TV-guided missiles, the UCAV, and Staff shells. Contrary
to belief, smokescreen does not break locks from these guided weapons.
But the big advantage of smokescreen is its ability to conceal your movements from enemies.
You hide yourself from spotting and the minimap for a good length of time. Though it’s hard
to quantify how effective smokescreen was when I was trying to sneak up on my enemy.
It’s entirely possible that they were just oblivious. However, it did feel like I had
a good advantage in sneaking around undetected in certain engagements.
What I can quantify is just how much less damage I would take during firefights with
smokescreen active. Enemies would often miss shots, and the ones that they landed would
always do the minimum amount of damage for that projectile.
As a quick note, if you’re unfamiliar with projectiles (that’s unguided rockets and tank
shells), they do more damage the closer you get to a 90 degree angle shot on a side of
an armored vehicle. The further away you get from that 90 degrees, the less per shot each
projectile does until it reaches a minimum value.
Anyways, another benefit smokescreen provided was that I felt more comfortable removing
reactive armor from my tank, and replacing it with the autoloader. Reactive armor increases
the amount of damage that must be done to get a disable on your vehicle. When you’re
in a tank, and inside a smokescreen, the damage done by projectiles is always is less than
that crtical damage requirement. So in a tank, switching to autoloader is a good choice when
you have smokescreen to back it up. When autoloader is combined with the canister
shell, it’s an absolutely amazing combination that will let you just completely shred infantry.
I was really negative on canister shell before because of the long reload time, but with
an autoloader it’s a whole new game. But I’ll do a video all about canister shell another
day. So let’s look at some numbers here. Smokescreen
is not going to defeat active protection in a head-to-head battle unless you’re both facing
each other’s ass-end. In a head-to-head battle, two tanks firing HE shells with autoloaders
will destroy each other in four shots in about nine seconds. If two of those shots are absorbed
by APS, smokescreen only reduces the damage to 25 from 29, and it’s still four shots to
kill. So the smokescreen tank is dead, and the active protection tank is at half health.
Where smokescreen makes a huge difference in tank battles is for the tank pilot who
uses the smoke to maneuver and pillar. Reducing and avoiding damage is also critical if you
have an engineer repairing. If both attacking tanks have engineers repairing, this becomes
a long fight. The longer the fight drags on, the more effective smokescreen becomes because
of active protection’s long cooldown. Time is smokescreen’s friend, as it also increases
the likelihood of missed shots. But it’s really that hard-to-measure benefit
of staying off the minimap that really makes smokescreen shine. You can completely outmaneuver
your enemies and take them from a highly damaging angle. If your enemy can’t see you on the
minimap, and can’t see you because of the smokescreen, it becomes exceptionally hard
for them to land shots on you. And the projectiles that do hit you are reduced to minimum damage.
So, after trying out smokescreen for a few weeks, I have to say that I really like it
on tanks in particular. With smokescreen on infantry fighting vehicles, you still need
to keep your reactive armor on to reduce the odds of receiving critical hits, as those
will be fatal. If you don’t have lock-on weapons to worry about from the ground or air, and
you can outmaneuver your enemy, it’s a really effective choice. If you’re newer to tanks,
I probably wouldn’t recommend it until you’re comfortable in your suit of armor.
Smokescreen is a great way to fool and surprise your enemies who are reliant on the minimap,
much like a silencer. It’s also a great tool for long-term damage reduction and avoidance.
But keep in mind that it won’t save you from huge spikes in damage like active protection
will, so you have to play carefully. That’s it for this episode of Against the
Grain. If you have an idea for a strategy or tactic that is maybe a bit out of the normal
playstyle, please recommend it in the comments below. If you liked this video or found it
helpful or insightful, please be sure to leave it a like. If you’re new around here, be sure
to check out my channel and please consider subscribing. As always, thanks for watching,
and I’ll see you next time, YouTube.