World of Warplanes Basic Gameplay Guide

World of Warplanes Basic Gameplay Guide by CrashTailspin

In the past year that I have been a part of the World of Warplanes project, more and more players have been entering the game.  With this comes a variety of skill levels, from very basic aircraft knowledge, to actual real-life air-to-air combat experience.

This guide is written to help any level of player increase their skills in World of Warplanes aerial combat.  These ideas are very generalized – they DO NOT pertain to a specific aircraft, but to the gameplay as a whole.

Included are four primary concepts that players can improve on to increase their odds of victory.  This list is by no means complete, and many concepts interlace with others.  I have tried my best to compartmentalize each concept, but bleed-through to others was inevitable.

Also, this thread will be updated periodically to further improve the information.

With that, feel free to leave constructive (yet short) criticism!

General Concept and Control Setup

What’s the one main thing that every player wants to experience when playing a game, be it World of Warplanes, World of Tanks, SimCity, Monopoly, Solitaire, etc.?  Answer:  FUN!  When it comes to an air combat game, the one thing that will run the so-called “fun factor” is a lack of understanding of the game’s controls.

In order to minimize misunderstanding of control use and response, I recommend every player follow these guidelines before entering a Player vs Player battle:

  • Determine which control profile you will use
  • Experiment with the default control settings
  • Adjust the control settings to your liking
  • Practice with your chosen settings in multiple single battles to get the “feel” of WOWP combat

Engagement Priorities

Aerial combat in World of Warplanes varies significantly from World of Tanks.  Engagements are quick, tactical, and require much quicker thinking and situational awareness than WoT.  A player who blindly plods along attempting to attack stationary targets will quickly find themselves pounced on by the more observant enemy.  Even the player who can effectively accumulate numerous ground attack kills will eventually fail without support because the rest of the team will have perished.

Therefore, a player’s priorities in a dogfight should be as such:

  • Help your teammates to survive
  • Eliminate the enemy’s ability to destroy
  • Destroy the enemy

Many of these concepts happen simultaneously, and the lines between each priority can get blurry.  However, survival must be your utmost priority.  As long as you’re alive and flying, you have the ability to destroy the enemy – and the ability to win the match.  Once your aircraft is destroyed, you no longer have this ability.  Your teammates have this same ability, and keeping them alive is second only to keeping yourself alive.

If this means ending the pursuit of an enemy in order to clear a friendly aircraft’s tail, then that should be your new priority, however random or “not right” it may feel.  Remember, battles can be won by destruction of the enemy, even if they have supremacy on their side.


First and foremost, communication is key!  Contrary to what some people may think, victory does not come from 15 individuals acting singularly, there is some form of teamwork happening, even if nothing is said or coordinated.  Need proof?  Count how many times you see multiple friendlies trying at attack a single target.  Believe it or not, that’s teamwork.

And the more you can communicate, the better your teamwork will be.  And THAT leads to more victories, personally as well as team-wide.  So here are the tools WOWP pilots can use to improve teamwork:

  • Voice Communication:  For goodness sake people, PLEASE turn this feature on!  Even if you don’t have a mic, it still allows you to hear what other team members are saying.  In a dogfight, it takes too long to type a pertinent message.  Speaking it is significantly quicker, even if you can’t give a response.  To turn on Voice Communication:
    • Press Esc to open the game menu.
    • Choose “Settings”
    • Choose the Volume tab
    • Check the box labeled “Enable Voice Chat”
  • FORM A PLAN, no matter how basic:  Many times, a team will have a combination of light fighters, heavy fighters, carrier-based fighters, and ground attack aircraft.  Oftentimes, nearly every aircraft will head in the same direction, which proves to be not nearly as effective or efficient as sending out two or three smaller groups to cover the entire map faster.  This allows for more rapid destruction of ground targets, spotting of enemy aircraft, etc.
  • Make use of map ping and F-keys:  Many players do not make use of any of these.  They are both easy, quick ways of drawing attention to either a specific location on the map, confirming another player’s communique, or requesting assistance.

Situational Awareness

The vast majority of players have only a basic sense of situational awareness.  I believe this comes from either a non- or mis-understanding of some of the in-game indicators which help determine where the enemy aircraft and ground targets are in relation to their aircraft.  Here are a few concepts a player can use to improve their situational awareness:

Minimap / Radar Use:  The ability to toggle between the minimap and radar is crucial to understanding the “big picture” of the battle.  This is toggled by using the “N” key.  At the onset of a battle, it is useful to know which direction friendly aircraft are proceeding.  However, once a close-in dogfight begins, switching to the radar is a helpful way to see more closely how and where the enemy aircraft are positioned in relation to you.  And knowing whether an enemy aircraft is flying level, turning, above, or below you is critical to knowing what maneuver is best for gaining the advantage.

  • Filled arrows indicate that an aircraft is below you
  • Hollow arrows indicate that an aircraft is above you

HUD Symbols & Snap to Target:  These are pretty easy to understand, but combining it with the Radar / Minimap makes them even more powerful.  As previously stated, hollow or solid arrows indicate the relative altitude of an enemy aircraft to your own.  By using the Snap to Target button, you can see exactly how the enemy is maneuvering in relation to your aircraft.

Energy Management

Many players new to aerial combat are unaware or only have a vague idea of the aerodynamic concept of “Energy”.  In very basic terms, energy is what the aircraft expends when it performs aerial maneuvers.  The total energy of an aircraft is the total of its kinetic energy (speed) and potential energy (altitude).

Altitude (potential energy) can be thought of as stored energy – that is, you can use it to increase your speed (by initiating a dive), but once it’s gone, you need to replenish it.

Airspeed (kinetic energy) is much more ambiguous – you have a limited amount of stored speed (provided you are not at full throttle and full boost), but this can be spent as well, when the pilot performs any type of high-G maneuvering.

There are a few general rules that effective pilots adhere to:

  • At the onset of every match, gain as much altitude (potential energy) as you can without sacrificing too much speed (kinetic energy)
  • Attempt to expend as little energy as possible during the engagement.
  • Regain spent energy as quickly as the situation allows

Remember, there is no maneuver which “creates” energy.  A dive expends potential energy.  A high-bank turn expends kinetic energy.  Therefore, it is always advantageous to regain altitude and speed as soon as possible.  The aircraft with the most energy in an engagement is usually the winner.

Try to plan as many of your maneuvers as possible with energy usage in mind.  Look at these examples:

Scenario 1:  You are engaged with an enemy in a continuous turning battle, and elect to break from the engagement by initiating a climb.  However, your turning has already used up most of your available energy.  Therefore, your ability to climb is greatly reduced, and will hang in a near-stalled condition, making it an easy target for the pursuing enemy.  A better option would be to use as much boost as possible in conjunction with a shallow dive to increase your energy state as much as possible (a greater gain in kinetic energy than loss in potential energy) to extend away from the attacker.

Scenario 2:  You locate and engage an enemy from a higher altitude, then climb steeply away from the target.  Provided you performed this maneuver with sufficient airspeed and without boost, you should be able to climb away from the enemy utilizing your large amount of energy (stored boost + high airspeed), leaving the enemy no chance of catching you.

Scenario 3:  You engage an enemy flying perpendicular to you (high deflection angle), but your initial attack run failed.  While many players may initiate a tight turn at the opponent’s altitude to position themselves behind the enemy, this maneuver is wasteful in terms of energy, placing you at a potentially unequal energy state as compared to the enemy.  A better solution would be to perform a half loop, re-engaging the enemy from a higher altitude (more stored potential energy) and diving onto the enemy, giving you the advantage of speed, allowing you to plan another attack if necessary.


Many players choose an aircraft because it is very maneuverable, or it has a lot of firepower, or it takes a lot of punishment.  However, quite often players do not follow the specific role of their aircraft, or how their aircraft fits into the team as a whole.  Here are a few concepts that players can utilize in order to achieve team victory:

Understand your aircraft’s role, and analyze your team:  By analyzing your team’s aircraft make-up, you will be in a better position to do the maximum “good” for your team.  This can be ambiguous, and can vary from match to match.

  • For example, many fighters can carry rockets.  Carrier-based fighters can even carry bombs.  However, this does not require you to attack ground targets.  Aircraft such as the I-16 late mod, F4F, and P-51A are all capable of carrying rockets.  However, they are also excellent dogfighting aircraft.
  • Heavy fighters are even more variable.  While many carry two or more bombs, if the team has two or more ground attack aircraft, attacking ground targets effectively negates the abilities of the GA aircraft.  While targeting ground targets further away from the starting point would help, a more effective role, in this case, for the heavy fighters would be to engage other heavy fighters or ground attack aircraft, clearing the way for the friendly GAs.

Understand your aircraft’s abilities:  This ties into the “understand your aircraft’s role”.  Most light fighters do not have the firepower to effectively attack ground targets, and therefore are best suited to dogfighting.  Conversely, most ground attack aircraft are too slow and cumbersome to effectively dogfight.  This is not to say that they can’t; however, their forte lies elsewhere.  The point here is that, at the start of the battle, you know where to initially proceed – either gaining altitude or diving for the deck.

Additionally, most aircraft can carry external ordinance.  This weighs your aircraft down, adversely effecting the aircraft’s performance.  Bear this in mind when attempting to perform certain maneuvers.  If you’re in a carrier-based fighter, and required to dogfight – dump your ordinance and start dogfighting!

Conditions for Victory

While this seems fairly obvious (kill all the enemy aircraft or achieve supremacy), some players seem to be going about it in a less than efficient manner.  This leads back to the “knowing your role”, “knowing your aircraft” type of thing.

Example:  Fighters with rockets.  Simply because you have rockets, you are not REQUIRED to attack ground targets.  If there are other aircraft more capable of destroying ground targets, LET THEM!  Use your aircraft’s maneuverability to either cover the heavy fighters / GA aircraft, or at least pose a distraction so your team’s HF / GAs can reach the enemy headquarters, where ground kills are plentiful.

Also, good ground attack is not enough to secure victory.  While destroying all the ground targets does increase the rate of superiority gain, it does not negate the fact that there are other enemy aircraft out there.  An effective team needs to take the ABILITY of the enemy to destroy ground targets and friendly aircraft.

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