With numerous shell types in World of Tanks, it can be difficult to know when to use a given variant. One such shell type which can be difficult to know when to use are the HE rounds or “High Explosive” rounds.
These rounds are designed to deal a lot of damage, but unfortunately, they lack any meaningful penetration values. This can leave new tankers in an awkward position of not knowing when to use them during combat, especially if penetrating enemy armor is already a problem with AP rounds.
So let’s go over some of the times you might consider using HE rounds.
When to Use HE Rounds
Before knowing when to use HE rounds, it can help to know what they are. HE rounds are shells filled with explosive material that are designed to explode on impact. They favor raw damage over penetration, and as such, have a difficult time piercing armor.
However, sometimes a HE shell has enough explosive firepower to simply sear through armor, especially thin armor. Most importantly, HE rounds will always deal some amount of damage, no matter the penetration value.
Straight off the bat, you will want to use HE rounds if your tank is specifically equipped with a gun designed to fire HE rounds, such as a Howitzer gun. One such example is the Tier 4 British tank, the Covenanter with its OQF 3-inch Howitzer.
Secondly, in the event you cannot penetrate a target’s armor when using AP rounds, switch to HE rounds to at least deal some amount of damage, no matter how minor. While HE rounds likely won’t pierce armor, they will at least whittle away an opponent’s health.
An example of this is if you come up against a particularly robust Heavy tank. In the event you cannot deal damage to the Heavy using AP rounds (either because they’re angled correctly or in a hull-down position), switch to HE shells to at least pester them.
Another instant when you should use HE rounds is if an enemy is capturing your base. Whenever a base is in the process of being captured, any damage the player sustains will reset the capture timer. Because HE shells can deal guaranteed damage – even though it might be tiny – they are excellent at “resetting” your base, giving you enough time to get into position or take out the enemies. A single shot from a HE round or even its blast, will damage an enemy, so use this in a pinch!
Finally, the best time to use HE rounds is if you’ve successfully flanked and found yourself behind enemy lines and in a position to take down the SPGs or open-turreted Tank Destroyers. TDs with open turrets and SPGs are both extremely susceptible to HE rounds. For TDs it’s due to their open-rooves, while for SPGs it’s because of their thin armor. If you manage to pierce an SPG with a HE shell, the amount of damage it deals will be huge.
While HE rounds aren’t ideal to be used in all situations, there are a few circumstances when you should use HE shells. Think of HE rounds as a last resort when out-classed or as a tool to annoy enemy tanks.