On Balance: Beta playtest as of 2.501

I’ve been very impressed with almost all of the patches released in the beta, but no more so than the latest pair, 2.500 and 2.501 respectively. I’ve heard of some latency issues immediately following the release 2.501, however I haven’t personally run into any connection issues. If anything, network stability seems noticeably more reliable and consistent. The main problem with getting a game going in the beta remains the shortage of players. Now, I fully admit this problem has gotten better thanks to Relic’s promise of riches and harems and paradise — but it still takes too long to get a 1v1 during slower periods of the day and getting a 2v2 automatch requires an average wait time topping 10 minutes in my experience. But I digress…

The 2.5x patches have really been a breath of fresh air into the playtest and 2.501 has been a Godsend to American players such as myself. I think it might be a tad heavy-handed against the Panzer Elite, but we’ll get into that in detail…

First off, two “Holy smoke” issues that I noticed in the bug fixes:

 – Riflemen will now be affected by Rapid Response
 – Panzer Elite Group Zeal will no longer effect enemy and allied infantry.

These are pretty nasty bugs here, if I’m correct in assuming these bugs are currently in retail and have always been in the game. It basically makes these two abilities worthless. Good thing they’ll be fixed once the beta goes retail.

And now, for the meat of patch 2.501:

 – Axis Knights Cross Holder squad reinforce time down from 30 seconds per entity to 15 seconds per entity
 – Panzer Elite Marder III 25% damage bonus vs. specifically the American M10 and M4 Sherman removed
 – Panzer Elite Scout Car will now detect snipers at half the radius a Jeep or Motorcycle would
 – Panzer Elite G43 Rifle Long Range cooldown penalty reduced to 25% from 50%, overall cooldown increased by 25%
 – Commonwealth Captain Victor Target ability must now be targeted within 45m of the Captain
 – Allied HMG damage modifier vs. the Soldier target type (Panzer Elite, Commonwealth) increased from 0.50 to 0.75
 – All Tank Main Guns will now have an equal chance to target the crew of a Towed AT Gun as they do of targeting the AT Gun directly. Prior to this they would consistently choose the AT Gun itself as the main target, dramatically reducing the life expectancy of the AT Gun in a head-to-head confrontation with a Tank. Tank Guns that prefer infantry in general (Ostwind Flakpanzer, 20mm cannons, etc.) will still prefer to fire at the Infantry rather than the AT Gun itself.

These are no piddling little changes here. The Knights Cross change is definitely a needed one, as it’s hard enough to bring Tier 4 Wehrmacht into play in a 1v1 match. The removal of the 25% Marder III damage bonus has been something American and even some PE players have lobbied for long and hard on GR.org. I always thought it was a ridiculous bonus for the PE, one that was completely uncalled for even after panzershrecks got nerfed. Building more than one Sherman was generally a liability unless you were Armor Company; now Shermans and the Pershing will have a better chance attacking a PE position with locked-down Marders. Another significant PE nerf is the G43 cooldown penalty, +25% cooldown at all ranges EXCEPT long range, in which case there is a 25% bonus. This will make massed G43s even more deadly at long range, which means you are likely to take more damage during the initial phases of a Riflemen charge to close position; however should sufficient numbers of Rifles close to medium and short range, Riflemen will have a stronger advantage than before. Most PE players tend to retreat anyway if Rifles get in close and match cover without taking serious losses; now it will be absolutely imperative for PE to retreat in this situation. I will attempt to vet this in some real games and write up a brief illustration in the days to come.

More stuff — the reference to “Allied” HMG I will assume to mean the American HMG. This boost to U.S. HMG damage (vs essentially the PE) is a great change, not only does it make a WSC start (then backtech to Barracks) more viable, it’s also great for late games, when you will very likely encounter 4-man PE squads with veterancy, possibly even veteran sergeants (reducing suppression) and Sprint. The extra damage will come in very handy and help thin those ranks, helping out your vetted BAR Riflemen. The ability for PE Scout Cars to detect snipers is also very welcome, it makes an underused unit more useful. Who knows, maybe we’ll even see more Logistik Kompanie starts from PE players, especially vs. a WSC American start. Lastly, and I saved best for last — the universal change to make AT guns less vulnerable to tank guns is wonderful, wonderful and still more wonderful. This solves the problem of American positions being overwhelmed by heavy armor, while it still allows tanks to “kill” AT guns by killing the crew. This will then require recrewing, which encourages AT guns to be supported by infantry, which encourages infantry to be supported by a reinforcement mechanism of some kind (halftracks or forward HQs). However, tanks can still rely on the “Attack Ground” command to destroy the actual neutral AT gun. A great compromise, in my opinion.

I think I’ve always stated that the balance beta is 100% more balanced than the current retail, but after the latest patches, I estimate that figure ought to be boosted to 150%. I am LOVING the balance beta right now.

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4 Responses to On Balance: Beta playtest as of 2.501

  1. liquid405 says:

    Unmentioned was the Victor Target nerf. This was much needed, as an additional free arty from a captain was way overpowered. With 4 arty pieces on the field, this ability would level bases.

  2. Agreed. Nevertheless, I think the overwhelming message here is that COH is finally getting closer to a really fine-grain level of balance.

  3. barit says:

    Great writeup!

    I check the website daily so the additional content over the last few days has been well received. Please keep it up.

  4. jodonnell says:

    There have definetely been a lot of great changes, but I’m appalled at the Strafing Run and resource sharing changes.

    Resouce sharing is such a simple problem, but Relic insists on doing things the most complicated way possible. As far as I can tell, the only problem people have had with team game resourcing is that the Allied team can benefit as a whole from the British truck OPs. All that is needed to fix that is make it so the Brit truck OPs affect one player and one player only: the truck’s owner. Instead, they add a sliding scale resource sharing penalty (albeit practically negligible) for the Allies based on game size. They’ve also changed the amount of resources the second and third trucks grant, yet the Allies still benefit from the initial truck’s OP…jeez! It’s not hard Relic. Revert all the changes to Allied/Brit resourcing, and just make free British OPs apply to the Brit player only (with pay-for upgrades getting shared.)

    Strafing Run is pretty disappointing too. It feels much too weak and overpriced to ever use now – Strafe is already fairly worthless against vetted Wehr/PE troops as-is. The problem has never been the damage Strafe deals, it’s been that you cannot avoid Strafe the way you can avoid all the other artillery strikes in the game. Bring the damage back up and give it some kind of warning (even if it’s a very brief warning, like Registered Artillery) and the problems are solved. Artillery needs to be predictably powerful yet avoidable by alert players for it to be balanced yet still usable. Strafing Run used to fail the latter test, now it’s failing the former.

    Despite these complaints, however, CoH is really shaping up with the new changes!

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