The idea behind World of Tanks is that you team up in small groups of random players and then proceed to take on another team of random players. There are plenty of in-game mechanics in place to keep teams on equal footing -and that is something that we truly appreciate. Of course, that being said, players on the upper tiers no longer have the leeway to slack around and play with "less focus" as each match will certainly demand your full attention (so those of you wanting something a little more casual, consider yourselves forewarned).
The learning curve for World of Tanks is easy, new players are never matched up with veterans (unless you get matched with a long term player who just created a new account -and that is something that no game system can fix). So you get to take your first few matches with a little less stress on performing well and focus more on getting to know the controls. The controls are both intuitive and sensible -which is pretty surprising since you would think that controlling a tank would be a hard thing. The best part is that aside from player skill levels, the game also takes into account what tank you are using -ensuring that you do not get matched up with a tank that completely outclasses yours.
The combat in World of Tanks is primarily territory control. Since line of sight is often required to nail a good strike, being able to position yourself in a good vantage point that leaves you less vulnerable to strikes is important. But it also means that other players will be thinking the same thing. So be sure to take the time to learn each of the maps and figure out what the best ways of getting from point A to point B is. This information often becomes crucial in later games when you and your team have to adapt quickly to various situations.
Knowing the different kinds of tanks does not necessarily mean knowing every single one's payload and stats, but try to get yourself familiarized with the basic categories. There are light, heavy, and artillery type tanks. Knowing how each moves, functions, and what advantages they bring to the battlefield will allow you to adjust your play style and allow your team to act as a single cohesive unit.
Like many other hard core tank war games, World of Tanks is a long stretch away from much more casual games such as Shell Shock 2, the former which provides some nifty little multiplayer options but which stands no match to World of Tanks and the latter from which there are many similar games out there with such a light browser approach and come up somewhat short of feeling like a full on tank strategy game and is void of any war based reality.