“Slots before bots.”
– Common player axiom
“A 5th slot is for someone who enters battle expecting to die four times.”
-Some fool on the Forum
For quite awhile on the Wiki Forum, I rocked the above quote as my signature. It was tongue-in-cheek, because by then I was aware of the importance of expanding my hangar. But it continues to surprise me just how many players do not appear to be.
For the By the Numbers data posts on Gepard Diary, one of the metrics I record from the pilots I play with and against is the contents of their hangars. What level and type are their bots? What is the level of the highest weapon on each? And- naturally- just how many slots are they carrying?
Even in Diamond League, where I currently play, a 5-slot hangar is far from a given. In fact, it’s not even the majority. In my most recent statistical sample, about 62% of all pilots encountered had a four-slot hangar. Six percent even never gotten past three. And not all of this can be attributed to a simple lack of resources- I’ve seen an abundance of Gold-costed weapons and/or bots, and more than a few vanity skins.
First, some disclaimers. War Robots is a game, and games are meant to be fun. If someone is having the time of their lives with painted bots and a three-slot hangar, I am certainly not going to tell them they are “wrong.” From that perspective, the experience- and fulfillment- is entirely subjective.
However, I will be writing today from a performance perspective- and there things have the luxury of being a little more black and white. If your goal is performance, then there are right choices (running a Lancelot over a Destrier) and there are wrong choices (running that Lancelot with no equipped hardpoints).
In addition, as with most things in life, your mileage may vary. I do not write from a top-tier perspective, nor a Recruit perspective. This guide represents nothing more (nor less) than the total of my experience with the subject matter. Ultimately, just as you are the final arbiter of what you want from the game (fun/performance), so are you the final arbiter on how to get that.
Now, let’s jump into hangars, a topic which might seem rather pedestrian, but as we’ll see offers tons of depth.
All players begin their War Robots career with a single slot, occupied by a fledgling Destrier. The game’s modest tutorial guides you to acquire a second, at a mere pittance: 5,000Ag. It doesn’t take long to accrue the 100Au to unlock your third slot, but from there the price increases dramatically.
The fourth slot unlocks at 1,000Au, and the fifth (and at time of writing, final) slot is where the real grind appears. 5,000Au is no joke, and not easily obtained without considerable effort or expense.
The simplest way to unlock the slots is to reach into your wallet, withdraw the payment option of your choice, and surrender $50 (or your local equivalent). This gets you 6,500Au, enough to unlock both slots while leaving a little bit left over to, say, skin your Gareth or change your pilot name.
This is not the option for everyone, nor need it be. Not everyone getting their third slot knows whether or not War Robots is a game that they’ll want to stick with. For many people, that’s simply too dear a sum to spend on entertainment. Others take the, “I don’t spend money on free games” approach. All of these reasons are perfectly valid.
I will offer one argument in favor of this path, which is the “value for dollar” perspective. If I were to take the amount of money I have sent over to Pixonic, and divide it by the number of hours I’ve spent enjoying this game, the cost per hour would be shockingly low.
Consider the cost of a movie ticket, currently $8 where I reside. Throw in another $10 for snacks, and assume the movie is two hours long. Your cost per hour for this entertainment is $9.
On the way home, let’s say I stop for a Starbucks dessert coffee. This is around $5, and will be consumed over the course of an hour (or less)- and likely never to be thought of again.
If a player is enjoying War Robots and feels they will be sticking with the game for the foreseeable future, then this approach begins to make more sense if they are inclined to regard the game as an entertainment option like any other. This guide will highlight the tremendous advantages of having a five-slot hangar, and some may see value in getting to that point sooner rather than later.
Others will not. Again, there is no right answer, only the answer that is right for you.
The other option is to grind the Gold through gameplay. This is a long process, but worth noting that you’re not toiling in a salt mine, but rather playing a game. The destination is certainly rewarding, but so is the journey.
At the barest minimum, if you did nothing more than to satisfy two daily tasks for 30Au each, you would move from three slots to four in seventeen days, and top the summit with your fifth slot eighty-three days later.
While that assumes that you are not spending your hard-won assets on things like Orkans or Anciles, it is also assuming that you are not winning any additional Gold as a result of your exploits, through any combination of high damage, beacons, and/or squad victories. Here is a graph showing how many days it would take for your expansions at a given rate of Gold (beginning with our “bare minimum” 60 above).
Just for fun, let’s take a moment to look at this grind like it was a job. Let’s make some basic assumptions, neither of which are by themselves accurate but should get us to a reasonable place.
- Each game you play takes an average of 5 minutes, including queue time
- You are an excelsior pilot, topping damage and beacons every single game
Doing the simple math, that means we’re getting 96 Gold per hour (12 games per hour, 8 Au per game), making “Grinding War Robots Hangars” a job that will take you 62.5 hours to complete, and paying $0.80 per hour.
So now we’ve painted a rather grim picture. Getting to five slots isn’t easy, and the natural question that would follow is, is it even worth it?
The answer: of course it is. Now let’s get to the fun stuff!
If there is one mistake far too many War Robots players make with regards to their hangar, it is that they regard it like “lives” in a video game.
This was the mentality that I cheekily lampooned in my old War Robots Wiki Forum signature, quoted above: you really only need more hangar slots if you can’t get the job done with the ones you already have.
Of course, there are many variations on the same theme. Other rationales for not needing a max-capacity hangar might include:
- “I usually have bots left over when I win, so I don’t need any more”
- “The Gold is better spent on other things”
- “What, me worry?”
Here’s one you never hear: “Meh, the extra benefits of having a hangar beyond just player survivability? Who needs ’em.”
It’s fair to say that one part of the value of the extra hangar is, in fact, “extra lives.” A player with one slot is essentially playing Hardcore Mode, a one-and-done experience. With five slots, you will simply last longer- and thereby (hopefully) contribute more to the match. But that’s only the beginning. Here are some of the other reasons that a max-capacity hangar is a priority.
Imagine you’re a handyman, and you respond to a dispatch to go fix something in someone’s house. You arrive, and are told that there’s an issue with the plumbing. You open your trusty toolbox, look down, and see: a hammer, a flathead screwdriver, and a hacksaw. Time to head back to the shop, because you aren’t going to be able to adequately address the situation at hand.
The simple fact is, this isn’t Rock-em-Sock-em robots. We play a complex and complicated program with tremendous variation from game to game. You can go from one match where it’s a knifer’s brawl for center beacon at Shenzhen, to another where it comes down to the wire on beacons at Yamantau, then back to an alley-fighting midrange duel back on Shenzhen.
Every time you click Start Battle, here’s what you know:
- Your hangar
And here’s some of the things you don’t know:
- Your map
- Your team’s starting spawn location
- Your individual place within that spawn location
- What bots your allies are starting
- What bots your allies aren’t starting
- What bots your enemies are starting
- What bots your enemies aren’t starting
- How skilled your allies are
- How skilled your enemies are
- Whether or not some of your allies will be coordinated (on comms)
- Whether or not some of your enemies will be coordinated (on comms)
That’s a huge and complex web of factors that will impact the overall game experience. If you have a variety of tools at your disposal, you’ll be better equipped to handle what’s ahead.
As a practical example, I tend to lead with my Galahad, a great all-around bot. Inevitably, I’ll succumb to the foe, and need to drop into my second bot. At that point, I’m able to survey the battlefield and see what is most needed. Are we in a major stramash for center beacon? Maybe I drop into my Lancelot. Do we need some midrange support? Tulumbas Doc, at your service. Are we losing ground on beacons? Maybe I even go for a Gareth. And so on.
Simply put, the more roles you can fill, the more effective you can be. And the more hangar slots you have, the more roles you can fill.
This is similar to the “extra lives” concept, but instead of being a hedge against meching out or a safety-net against a premature end, this feature allows you to adjust your playstyle more aggressively. We’ve all had games that get down to the wire, the “rush and a push and the land is ours” surge that aims to liberate that one last beacon, or storm enemy holdouts before the domination bar hands us defeat.
When you have a deeper hangar, you can afford to take more liberties and risks as the consequence of losing is less severe. Late in the game you can throw away a bot to go out in a blaze of glory, if it can tie up your opponents and let your team grab a beacon. A single bot in a three-bot hangar represents 33% of your force projection. In a five-bot hangar, that falls to 20%. More assets mean less liabilities. This doesn’t give you license for sloppy play, but rather in effect reduces the penalty for calculated risks.
By the same token, having more bots means that an individual bot can be more expendable. Pilots who ride every bot to the bitter end are not maximizing their chances for victory. If you’re on the far end of Springfield and have just killed a remote opponent while there’s a critical firefight erupting near your spawn point, it’s typically preferable to sacrifice your bot to respawn into the action with a new one rather than to trudge across the length of the battlefield, hoping to arrive in time to make a difference.
Other times, you’ll find that an opponent’s assault has left you crippled. While certainly there’s a case to make that you can still contribute positively even when severely impaired, such as luring opponents away to finish you off, sometimes you’ll simply be away from the action and slow to arrive at it. This is another time where a deeper hangar affords you greater tactical liberty than a shallower one.
So by now it should be clear that the path of power is not linear. If you were to represent a bot as having power X, having two bots does not give you power 2X, but rather (2X+Y), where Y represents all of the above additional advantages of having an expanded hangar. Adding a third bot could be represented as (3X+2Y), all the way up to a max-capacity hangar (5X+4Y). Sure that Y won’t be as significant as that X, but you don’t need to be a professional gambler to know how small-percentage advantages can aggregate into significance.
Quite right, let’s move on.
Now that we’ve established that the benefits of an expanded hangar go well beyond simply having “extra lives” on the battlefield, let’s conclude with a look at how one should stock their hangar.
We’ve all seen pictures of the top-tier player with five maxed-out Lancelots, but that’s hardly the norm. Such heavy specialization into a single role doesn’t make sense when seen through the prism of hangar diversity above, but it should be noted that those players tend to coordinate hangars in squads with their clanmates. In a team-based approach, players have greater liberty for deep role-specialization.
But in general, you’ll want to consider the following recommendations when building your hangar. Again- and as always- your mileage may vary.
- Two to three knife-fighters
The difference between knife-fighters and everything else in War Robots is not unlike the difference between infantry and aircraft in the military. Aircraft have a much longer range. They can project force all over the battlefield. What they cannot do, however, is hold ground.
That’s the role of the infantry, and that’s why knife-fighter bots are so crucial. Trident Furies can clear out center beacon in Yamantau, but you aren’t going to see them taking and holding real estate. Beacons are the foundation upon which most victories are built. Having bots that can take and hold these positions is essential to success.
- One to two support bots
One support bot should be standard, but you can go up to two if that’s the playstyle you enjoy or prefer. It’s always useful to have something that can threaten from a distance, as it gives you a great deal of influence on the field of play. Standing on the edge of the starting ledge in Yamantau gives you about a 90-degree vista, with the ability to target the center beacon area as well.
For me, my mainstay support bot is a Tulumbas Doc. Nimble and packing a powerful frontloaded punch, the Doc lets me find the best shooting lanes and places where I’m needed most as soon as I drop into him. In addition, the 500m range of the Tulumbas means that if my Galahad or Lancelot falls in a skirmish for a contested location (like a beacon), I’ll often be back in the fight almost immediately- albeit from a distance.
- One open slot
By “open,” I simply mean variable. Many players will recommend a “beacon runner” in this position, something that can help secure the tide of victory through high mobility and ability to capture beacons. That’s very solid guidance, but another alternative is to reserve it for what I’ve taken to call the “fifth slot funbot.”
It’s not for everyone, but for those who enjoy experimenting with new builds, leaving one slot for your prototypes is another good use of this slot. That way, you still have 80% of your roster still aligned towards conventional combat, so you can still make a strong contribution to your team’s success while still savoring the joy of discovery with your concept build or guilty pleasure. My fifth slot has housed things ranging from the Geppo (Gekko Gepard) to Pin Stalker, Orkan Rogatka to Aphid Jesse.
In short, the Hangar Management guide can be summed up as follows.
- A max-capacity hangar is not a luxury, but rather essential for success
- If you forego the real money (RM) route, be prepared for a long grind- but one that is worth the investment
- The benefits of a max hangar extend beyond the power of five robots
- It lets you diversify your hanger, bringing more specialist bots to the battle which can yield a competitive advantage when appropriately matched to battlefield conditions
- It lets you play more aggressively when needed, as the cost of failure is diminished
- It similarly diminishes the cost of self-inflicted meching, which can serve as a sort of “teleport” function
- A recommended hangar setup mixes multiple elements
- 2-3 close-range bots
- 1-2 support bots
- 0-1 beacon specialists or “funbots”
In conclusion, I hope you’ve enjoyed this comprehensive guide to what is often overlooked as a pedestrian and uninteresting topic.
Please don’t hesitate to leave remarks in the comments below if you have opinions to share, or questions to ask.