So after results of this Equipment Poll on Go To equipment and some of my multiplayer experience I get that people do not smoke. At all. Good for them, saved themselves from lung cancer and their wallets from expences.
Anyways. This guide is based on experience before Nov’20 patch, but essential parts are still there.
To get how smoke can be recycledutilized, one should understand how machines’ perception and awareness work. Machines usually aren’t too attentive to environment when they in calm mode (white searchlight) roaming around. They’ll won’t even notice sudden appearance of smoke puff at their nosesensors within blade’s or stomp reach. In the “search mode” (yellow) machine begin to look more attentively at surroundings with greater chance to spot bloody meatbags human targets. In “combat mode” machine will know where you are (even if you hiding behind walls or cliffs), so breaking their chase and targeting algoritms ain’t trivial matter (unless it’s dumb tanks, lazy harvesters, jumpy and edgy hunters, explody dogs, brittle drones, squishy ticks).
Smoke itself has two types of delivery - boring as thrown hand grenade that goes silent “thunk-pshffff” and awesome as tube-launched grenade that goes loud “BLAM-Whoo-oopshfff”. Also it has two main methods - obviouosly in stealth and in combat.
About timings, smoke cloud itself give you enough time to dump two mags (20 rounds G3 mag as basis) and place you a new one without cover and breaking the cloud. With cover to hide and break line of sight - one more mag. With fast reloads - mag can be top quality extended. Performing this pattern with juggling guns and smoke is same either with hand 'nade or as grg round - timings are exactly same. Difference is GrgM49 gives you instant cloud, but needs to waste your precious seconds on reload (exp grgM49 potentially would immenselly help here if it could shoot one round at a time) and hand 'nade “reloads” instantly, but has delay between throw and deploy.
As stated above, machines ain’t give a damn about sudden silent cloud and they won’t notice you in cloud (within certain threshold) and behind it. But they do hear you, so sudden twitchy finger on the trigger may ruin your stealth even if the whole area completely smoked - machines will run to “recently loudest sound”, where they has chance to sumble upon player and engage in combat.
“Stealth smoke” can be used as cover to pass around robots and you don’t feel like fighting (i.e. no cover even for your modesty and there pair of harvesters grazing within brannbol bat swing); when you planting risky trap like in close proximity of machines or you need extra time to grow one-boom pile for a tank.
Due to higher throwing rate, it possible to deploy long smoke wall pretty quickly.
After Nov’20 smoke is now tricky to use. Before tanks would froze at sight of smoke cloud “that shoot me muchinegum”. Now, tanks and other bots will pretend that they “know you there, but can’t aim properly” and do extra effort to shoot in one certain spot, giving you just enough space to graze incoming bullet hell.
Also, when bots in “combat mode” will see “smoke that shoots” they will approach it, including tanks and harvesters (latter would prefer do barrages in your general direction). So the tactic engaging one on one with tank without covers whatsoever would be place smoke cloud, shoot two mags, place new cloud behind or in desirable direction to keep distance, dump two mags, rince and repeat.
Tanks with wide AoE artilery make smoke rather useless, since they would just send a mortar shell and blast raduis/mine cluster will reach you anyways, so it is mostly to mess with their MG aiming. Hunters being generally mobile cqc infantry will approach you anyway to attack you with their arm armament. Their shoulder artilery outranges smoke cloud, so hiding “just behind” it is dangerous. I have yet to test effectiveness against sniping hunters - these are pain after Nov’20. Same goes for dogs - cqc unit, that does swarming tactic, will get in basically melee range by default.