Site Update: New season, new banner…

August 31, 2008

One thing that’s so striking and cool about COH is the sheer quality and fluidness of the in-game graphics. The animations are so numerous and life-like that you often feel you’re watching real men at war — no wonder so many COH machinas have found receptive audiences. Just check out this simple yet incredibly poetic COH machina, set to the soundtrack from the film The Island.

This is one reason why I find it so entertaining — and educational — to Photoshop screens from COH into art for Rifles Ready! I’m still struggling to gain some proficiency in Photoshop, so everything you see here is an amateur’s effort. That said, I’ve decided to start rotating the blog’s title banners depending on the season… say maybe a new banner every two months. Starting today, as you can see.

QUESTION: I’m thinking about sponsoring a Photoshop tournament for all COH fans, to see who can come up with the coolest screenshots from the game. The prize could be a free copy of the iconic World War II film, Patton, which I’ll be reviewing on Rifles Ready! sometime next month. Would you guys be interested? Leave a comment!


Site Update: Expert Battle Reports coming

August 30, 2008
Pro-style, baby.
Pro-style, baby.

Due to overwhelming popular request, I’ve decided to go ahead and do Battle Reports of replays between expert players from GR.org. While my commentary will be somewhat limited (can’t know exactly what other players are thinking), you’ll continue to get the blow-by-blow, detailed recap and analysis you’ve come to love. We’re going to kickstart this new initiative with an utterly thrilling game between two pro-tastic players, Sweix (aka Telekinez) and the legendary Sepha (aka Seph). This is a rollicking retail match between Seph’s talented Panzer Elite and Sweix’s plucky Americans on the bloodiest, most back-and-forth map in COH, Angoville. Stay tuned for our first PRO Battle Report between Sepha and Sweix, coming later this Labor Day weekend!


Advanced Tip: Side-switching and avoidance

August 28, 2008

The zones are where fights favor the southern player.

The zones show where fights favor the northern player.

This will seem to be an overly simple “tip” for some folks, but I can’t tell you how often a situation arises where this tip isn’t followed. The premise is simple: you’re facing the Panzer Elite or the Wehrmacht and they just jacked up your army on one side of the map, forcing a general retreat. Now, about 90% of mediocre and even average players will do something very predictable — reinforce and go attack the SAME AREA THEY JUST LOST. Why is this not a good idea? Well, it really depends on the map, but on many, many maps,  you can simply SWITCH SIDES OR AVOID HIS ARMY. Take good old Angoville for instance — with the U.S. Rifle squad’s hyperfast 1.25 capture rate, you can retake the side of the map your opponent isn’t on, thereby assuring your flow of resources.

The disadvantages of facing your enemy again on familiar ground are many. First, he’s had time to spread his guys out, place MGs, find cover, etc. Second, he’s had time to lay mines, drop Butterfly Bombs, repair vehicles and call in reinforcements of his own. He is anticipating a counterattack — that’s the flow of all COH games, attack then counterattack.

Divide and bait
You can mix it up by moving where he is weak, a classic doctrine of master strategists. One piece of advice from ZeroCrack’s brief but succinct anti-PE guide for U.S. players is to AVOID your enemy where he is strong. Avoid him and retake territory he’s left open, so you can continue your tech and bait HIM into attacking your position.

This way it can be YOUR mines and barbed wire and troops entrenched in green cover that your ENEMY is forced to run into. Clearly this principle is best illustrated and best used in a U.S. vs. PE matchup given the two factions’ respective capture rates. The U.S. caps territory faster than you can blink while Panzer Grenadiers cap 50% slower than Riflemen.

Other maps
Most Relic-approved maps divide resources evenly, so it’s possible to do this tactic on just about every map. Of course, some maps are much easier to “switch sides” on than others. These include Angoville, Beaux Lowlands, Langres and Wrecked Train. Maps where you can’t effectively switch sides due to cutoff points, tight spacing and/or uneven resource distribution include Semois, Sturzdorf and St. Mere Dumont. These are my opinions based on experience of course; your mileage may vary.


New COH expansion to be unveiled!

August 23, 2008
Can COH fans rejoice in the second coming?

Can COH fans rejoice in the second coming?

The news is swirling madly around the forums at GR.org and the rumor mill is in full swing: there will be a new COH game, and it’s most likely going to be the long-awaited second COH expansion pack. This game is currently titled “Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor.” The evidence is circumstantial, but it’s compelling nonetheless. The most powerful piece of evidence we have is this listing on Amazon.com, which is currently accepting preorders for COH: Tales of Valor. The game costs $29.99, too cheap for a full-fledged game but right on point for an expansion set. Amazon lists a release date of March 2009, again, mirroring the roughly 6-month window between the unveiling of Opposing Fronts and its release.

Sources tell Rifles Ready! that Relic is slated to officially unveil the game at the ongoing Leipzig Games Convention in Germany. The convention runs from August 20-24, meaning it will end at the end of the day tomorrow. No official word yet on exactly what Tales of Valor will entail, although rumors have linked this new game to the “Tiger Ace” campaign that appears (but is inaccessible) in the menu of all the balance beta builds since 2.500. Many GR.org posters have expressed anxiety that Tales of Valor will be composed primarily of “single-player crap,” though reaction has run the gamut — other players are afraid it will introduce new factions and the massive slew of balance issues that accompany new armies.

Time will tell — but rest assured the reporters at Rifles Ready! stand poised to deliver the truth you have a right to know, as soon as we confirm the news. There’s finally wind in the sails, sports fans! Rejoice!


Miscellaneous: Where my hundreds at?

August 21, 2008

This is probably the most off-topic post ever on Rifles Ready!, but there’s just not a whole lot to post about at the moment. No news on what changes might be in the next beta patch, while the current beta patch remains devoid of players. I myself just haven’t had the heart to really get in the game. Nevertheless, you can count on another Battle Report sometime next week.

For now, I submit the following amusing video, which is a minor robbery I covered while working as a reporter at the Maryland Gazette, a small community newspaper in America’s heartland — by which I mean Glen Burnie, Maryland.

If you watch carefully, you’ll notice the robber actually fires a round into the row of cigarette packs behind the clerk. You’ll also notice that the robber casually tells a female customer entering the store to “leave, miss. Leave.” And she, without saying an audible word, leaves. You can see her actually get back in her car calmly and drive off. One hopes a call to 911 followed as her vehicle was pulling out of the parking lot.

As far as I know, the boys in blue never caught this fearless individual, who acts like he’s in a rapper biopic. “Where my hundreds at?” he demands of the terrified young man behind the counter.

I might make the same demand of Relic. Where my hundreds at, eh?


On Balance: Patch 2.503 and the “WTF Relic” factor

August 20, 2008

The latest beta patch, now at 2.503, was released to the adoring masses of balance beta players (all 26 of them, that’s like the daily average these days anyway). This time Relic has tweaked only sound-related issues, tuning many of the new gunfire sound effects introduced in 2.502. There are no bug fixes, there are no balance changes, there is nothing here that would make someone more likely to hop into the beta. Sure, I always thought the King Tiger and Jagdpanther guns sounded like crap, and the Hetzer’s gun sounded too strong, but these are not pressing issues. Sigh.

Fortunately Relic’s current community liaison, one mukkel, addressed some concerns over at the RelicNews forum. Here’s what he said:

“Hoping to have the missing VP fix for the next patch. Also will be putting in a huge network optimization, which should reduce lag tremendously and also improve connectivity significantly.”

He also mentioned that “it’s about time” for new maps and will put some remaining maps into the next patch. But for now, suck on — I mean enjoy — these thrilling changes.

v2.503 08/19/2008

Audio:
– Tweaked and changed some of the large cannons back to previous firing sounds based on community feedback.
– Fixed the firing volume of Greyhound.
– P47 – Fixed bug where plane engine sounds continued after the plane was shot down.
– Firing sound for Off-Map Artillery has been added.
– Artillery explosions now heard at distance.
– Added “wet road” surface sound for vehicles driving in the rain (and squishy footsteps).
– Fixed the Quad 50/Flakvierling firing sound.
– The “Vampire” AC now shuts off its engine while stealing resources.


“Uh-oh, I’ve read your blog…”

August 19, 2008

I’ve been getting this rather frequently in the last two weeks, and I thought it was worth sharing with the Rifles Ready! community. I currently have two accounts on COH, my original account adrock2xander for serious AT/RT/1v1 and EmplacementSpam to prove just how easy and OP Brits emplacements are.

Still lvl 11 after 101 games. More difficult at higher levels? Or have readers just caught on?

Still lvl 11 after 101 games. More difficult at higher levels? Or have readers just caught on?

And yes, in case anyone is wondering, I’m still trying to climb the Brit ladder with that gay way of playing. Only this time, people have caught on to it. Many times now after the screen loads I encounter players from both sides saying ‘hi’ to me and went on to have a quick chat on how they’ve read ‘my’ blog. Well for starters, Rifles Ready! isn’t my blog. It belongs to CorkscrewBlow. But I guess it’s a mark of the wonderful posts we authors have made to make this blog our own. It isn’t just a singular effort, but a collective toil borne out of the passion to the game and desire to share our interests and knowledge (or lack thereof lol) with everyone. We thank you readers :O

Anyway in our conversations, many players have told me how they’re aware of what I’m trying to prove and will try to stop it. I thought this was rather interesting. How does my strategy play out against opponents who know what I intend to do? After getting some compliments from players, I scribbled some stats from Game 79. Read the rest of this entry »