For the Record: Arty suggestion: Barrage mode
Okay, this is something I've thought about for a while. I was thinking about what would I suggest to actually improve the artillery gameplay. Based on a post I made under the latest entry in Overlord's blog, here's the idea:
How about this: special cooldown mode "barrage"
Each arty vehicle can activate barrage mode once per 7 minutes. It is aimed just as regular arty (thru the arty scope). When it is activated, the artillery vehicle starts a barrage of shells on its target.
This mode would be special: the shells wouldn't count as "ammo fired" (thus they'd be "for free"). They would have double their normal splash, but cause only 1/2 to 1/4 (depending on their caliber) of their normal damage. Their aiming spread would resemble the maximum aim circle of that respective arty - as if it just moved (thus, the shells would cover most of the maximum zoomed-out view in artymode)
Rate of fire would be roughly one shell each 1-3 seconds, the barrage would take 30 or so seconds. When using barrage, the artillery vehicle can't move or stop the barrage and its camo factor is reduced to 0 (eg. it is instantly spotted whenever someone even looks its general direction). Furthermore, barrage shells have distinctive tracers (which would activate when the shell is in mid flight in order not to make the countearty too easy) and sound effects ("hweeeeeee.... boooom") so the vehicles in the target zone know they are under barrage fire and have a chance to clear out.
Basically, the aim would be to create a suppression zone, which no enemy (or friendly!) tank would want to enter. While the damage from entering the zone would be lower, it would be also more certain, given the bigger splash of the barrage shells. It could create an interesting tactical element, when an artillery stops the enemy assault dead in its tracks by covering a chokepoint with barrage fire, or it could possibly break a stalemate (think El Halluf or early Malinovka camping) by covering enemy positions with barrage fire, forcing them out of their hiding spots into the open.
The Barrage idea has merit, but the suggested execution is seriously flawed. You cannot alter an SPG's fire rate for one thing, that is part of its basic makeup and depends on a lot of factors including loader positioning in the cockpit, size (and weight!) of shells, presence of autoloader (BatChat), etc. Most WWII and Korean-era SPG's are MANUALLY loaded -- meaning someone has to physically lift those shells into the breech. One round every 3 seconds would be a fire rate of 20 per minute, which is physically impossible for manually-loaded artillery shells.
Secondly, there is absolutely NO such thing as "free ammo", nor should there be!! If you fire it, it's gone, simple as that. This is easily the lamest idea I've ever heard of for artillery, or anything else for that matter. WoT is not one of those OP'd free-for-all arcade shooters where real-world rules are meaningless. The devs take great pains to keep the game realistic but still playable; free ammo simply does not work. There's no such thing in the real world.
Also, unable to stop barrage or move?? Again, unrealistic. Any manually-loaded fire can be stopped; just don't grab the next shell, simple as that. And camo factor of zero? It already is very near that when firing.
Now that I'm done tearing it apart, here's an idea for fixing and implementing barrage mode, realistically. It would only be useful for platoons, since real-world arty barrage requires a battery rather than a single SPG. It would consume normal ammo and be subject to the SPG's normal fire rate, perhaps improved by say ten percent as with the Adrenaline Rush perk (but not cumulative with said perk.) It also would NOT be targeted normally: the platoon commander selects a grid square on the minimap for the barrage, and all SPG's in the platoon fire at that grid square for 3-5 fire cycles at maximum rate. No individual aiming would be possible.
Damage and splash radius would be normal, not nerfed or buffed in any way. It would simply be a whole lot of basically blind fire at a single grid square, which is what a barrage is.
We arty players have enough issues with whiny tankers complaining about arty in World of Tanks. Don't go making it worse by introducing something so obviously OP and unrealistic.