On Balance: 2.600 brings balance to the Force

June 12, 2009

relic_logo2As promised, I’ve given some thought to Relic’s patch 2.600 after a few games and some perusing of GR.org‘s balance forums. Overall, this is finally a return to form for Relic. Almost all of the balance changes reflect issues that were raised by the community based on high-level games and, in the case of bugs, repeatable evidence. The feedback on GR.org has mainly been positive, albeit with some sarcasm (see certificate I reposted from one GR.org forumer below). To me, the big issues in 2.502 were the Pak bug, the T17 being silly, Schimmwagen’s Scorch ability being absurd and the Infantry Halftrack’s wholly unnecessary suppression boost. All of these were fixed in 2.600.

This alone merits this certificate, which conveys pretty exactly my general feeling to Relic:

Competence is good.

Competence is good.

That being said, here’s a more detailed breakdown of my reflections. As usual, I’ve listed only the most significant changes (in my opinion). Please visit www.gamereplays.org for a full list of patch notes.

Patch 2.600
Bug Fixes

  • Cool-downs are now working properly for all weapons.

Always a good thing. I’m not 100% on which exact weapons weren’t cooling down properly, but I’d say the T17’s bizarre rate of fire is a good example.

  • HMGs in buildings will now switch targets as intended; there is a 3.5 second delay before the hmg will fire at another target.

In my experience this is somewhat similar to how MGs worked before, they would suppress one squad, then target a second new squad and suppress it as well. However, this behavior was limited to squads within the same cone o fire, now this applies to squads moving to flank from another direction. The 3.5 second forces you to be tighter but I’m agnostic on whether this was needed. At least it works.

  • Fixed an issue where Pak38s could stack their first-strike modifiers.

An outrageous, game-breaking bug that should never have happened. It better be fixed.

  • Raised Panzerschreck squads preference to target Light Vehicles while garrisoned in buildings.

Makes sense in theory. I never noticed shrecks not targeting light vehicles; in any case you could tell the garrisoned squad what to target before 2.600 anyway.


  • Improved the reliability and effectiveness of the American’s Strafing Run.

It feels pretty much the same to me, to be honest. I haven’t seen any incident where the P-47 would fully strike a squad but do no damage. Some amount of damage and suppression has always been inflicted in 2.600. But I’ve only had occasion to Strafe a few times so far. Need more time to wait and see.

  • The T17 armored car’s damage output has been reduced.

It was silly before. Good job listening and watching the replays, Relic.

  • Penetration of the T17 armored car has been reduced.

Unnecessary in my opinion. It still misses light vehicles more often than the M8, and against armored units like Ostwinds and Wirblewinds, a penetration nerf was unnecessary.

  • The Panzer Elite’s Schwimmwagen Scorched Earth ability has been replaced with an “Incendiary Trap” ability.

Thanks be to God. As demonstrated in the most recent Battle Report, this is nigh-unstoppable. Malivos just got lazy and CharlesDarwin got focused.

  • Infantry sections with Bren upgrades can now use ‘Button Enemy Vehicle’ when garrisoned inside a building.

I’m all in favor of consistency.

  • Panzer Elite Infantry Halftrack suppression lowered.

This was the result of a bug, in my understanding. Not sure why it was placed under “Gameplay” issues by Relic. But it’s a good change.


Volume I: The final tracks

June 11, 2009
Rifle NOT ready.

Rifle NOT ready.

As promised, here are the last three tracks from the first volume of our COH audio strategy series, Mind of a Master. This concludes our special D-Day celebration, but fear not sports fans: World War II goes on year-round at Rifles Ready!

That being said, I apologize for the slow updates of late. Suffice it to say June is a really, really tough month at work with a lot of things happening at the same time — all of which I’m personally responsible for.

I am also aware that many of the topics in this last batch of tracks were addressed in the recently released patch 2.600 — my reaction on that in a later post. But there’s also a lot of other insight from Surprise so I think you’ll still get plenty out of these.

Expect that post, plus an interesting balance article from Surprise, in the coming days. There’s also a new Battle Report in the works featuring a really good up-and-coming player whose replays have gotten a lot of attention on GR.org.

Track 8: Controversial balance issues – The Strafing Run


Track 9: Controversial balance issues – Supertanks and British armor


Track 10: Controversial balance issues – MGs firing at multiple targets, Panzer Elite and end credits


Battle Report: CharlesDarwin (US) vs. Malivos (PE)

June 9, 2009
REPLAYCharlesDarwin (Airborne) vs. Malivos (Scorched Earth) RETAIL 2.502

[Click link above to download the actual replay]

Vrrrooooom! *makes sputtering propeller noises* rat-tat-tat-tat!

Vrrrooooom! *makes sputtering propeller noises* rat-tat-tat-tat!

So there’ve been a few delays… you try ducking tornadoes while flying westward to the Mile-High City! Anyway, I’m now comfortably ensconced in my 12th floor hotel suite, typing away. This match is a timeless showcase of human mental perseverance. That said, I’ve watched it several times now and it’s clear that the opponent got lazy and careless, which contributed to the comeback.

That doesn’t change things as much as you might think. There was such a tidal wave built up that you can’t fault the guy for taking a breather and floating 800 manpower or so. Anyway, onward to the match.

RelicCOH 2009-06-01 00-06-01-65The game is on Semois, and we’ve got CharlesDarwin, a seasoned and solid player, vs. Malivos, probably some smurf for some guy. Darwin goes for a Weapon Support Center (WSC) start, always risky but less so against the Panzer Elite and even less so on Semois. PE have a hard time countering garrisoned MGs without Mortar Halftracks and Semois lends itself well to MG strongpoints. So this isn’t as butt-in-the-air crazy as it may sound.

Malivos’ strategy becomes clear instantly. He picks Scorched Earth doctrine and sends his initial Schwimmwagen to Darwin’s bottleneck Strategic Point (SP) by the bridge. BAM! The point is destroyed, necessitating repair before it can be recaptured by either player.RelicCOH 2009-06-01 00-06-23-50

Meanwhile, Darwin’s MG takes up position in the civilian building just below Malivos’ SP bridge. He sends a second MG to the hay bales by the +5 fuel point on the top half of Semois. They stop a few Panzer Grenadiers from advancing, but Malivos mainly chooses to avoid them. Darwin goes for a Sniper next, which is a great selling point for going WSC first against the PE.

RelicCOH 2009-05-25 13-56-23-82Snipers are the best way for Americans to counter elite, heavy Axis infantry, including PGs and Wehrmacht Grenadiers and Knights Cross Holders. They’re particularly deadly against the PE’s three-man squads. They are NOT generally the best unit to use for repairing scorched points. But they certainly can, and Darwin takes the risk of doing so with his Sniper. Miraculously he is not butchered where he stands, but completes the repair. It’s interesting to note the Sniper can repair about as fast as a Rifle squad; there’s no disadvantage there to using a Sniper.

You have to wonder whether the guy is taking the game seriously with this kinda stuff; but I guess maybe Darwin figured it was unlikely for Malivos to attack a disabled point, and that if he kept a sharp eye out he’d be alright.

In any case, I’ll stop my second-guessing. I suppose I’d just feel really naked to have a 340 manpower unit sitting all by his lonesome doing repairs, which would cause him to take extra damage in the event of an attack.

RelicCOH 2009-06-01 00-07-26-57But hardly is this point repaired than does Malivos’ Schimmwagen decap and scorch Darwin’s +10 fuel point. Each player has two jugular points on this map: the SP by their respective bridges, and their +10 fuels. Striking and holding either one can induce a fatal hemmorrhage. It’s at this juncture that Darwin begins bitching about PE “abuse.” I don’t wish to unduly inject my opinion, but the game is the game. You can’t expect players not to abuse broken game elements. It’s Relic’s fault, not your opponent’s. So Darwin needs to sit the fuck down, have a Coke and smile — aka DEAL WITH IT. Fortunately he manages to do the latter without breaking stride.

RelicCOH 2009-06-01 00-07-47-77He sends his Engy in to begin restoring the point. But Darwin knows this is a stalling move. On Semois, where the fuel control is so even, you can only seriously hope to slow your opponent’s tech slightly by harrassing his fuel, because it’s easy to fight you off and your own fuel point is equally exposed.
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More of the good stuff…

June 6, 2009


As promised, the rain of fantastical content continues with three more tracks from the first volume of our Mind of a Master audio strategy series. I’m also planning to release the long-awaited Battle Report sometime today or very early tomorrow.

Just as a reminder, tomorrow I’m flying out to magical Denver, Colorado — the Mile-High City — to run a conference for my company. I’ll be back late Wednesday night. So, here’s hoping Surprise or someone else gets in a post to keep things hopping while I’m gone (hoping — hopping, get it?).

Track 5: American faction overview by Surprise


Track 6: American faction-specific counters


Track 7: Controversial balance issues, Blitzkrieg doctrine


A special gift for a special three days in June…

June 5, 2009
A time for heroes...

A time for heroes...

Folks, it’s that time of year again. Today is June 5, 2009. Tomorrow will be June 6, the 65-year anniversary of D-Day. The day 150,000 Allied soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy to end tyranny, free a continent and spawn a thousand film and video game adaptions of a climactic battle. It’s a special day to anyone who loves Company of Heroes or World War II games in general.

You'll like this.

You'll like this.

To commemorate this occasion, I have decided with Surprise‘s support to make ALL 10 tracks of our COH audio strategy series, Mind of a Master: Volume I, available on Rifles Ready! — free of charge.

Starting today and ending Sunday (D-Day +1), I will be posting several tracks daily for you to listen to.

The tracks will be playable via the native WordPress streaming audio applet (see below). Amazon.com is taking FOREVER to approve this MP3 album for download, and it’s a special time of year, so the hell with it. Please enjoy!

Tracks 1 and 2: Introduction to Surprise and his biography/A high-level overview of the state of COH


Track 3: Detailed Tales of Valor unit analysis


Track 4: Psychology and mind games in COH


On upcoming patch 2.600 and delays

June 1, 2009

Relic upgrades to honesty 2.0.

The days go rolling by...

Alright, so the Battle Report I promised has yet to materialize. There’s a couple of reasons, one of which is some kind of Fraps bug that is preventing sounds from being converted when I upload gameplay video clips to YouTube. Extremely annoying, because I had no problems with this until recently.

The second excuse is that work (real work) has been mounting, while my social life is starting to deplete my reserves of free time. I’ve also got to fly out to Denver, Colorado this coming weekend for a work-related conference. I guarantee the Battle Report will be done before I leave. Most likely I’ll post it sometime mid-week.

Meanwhile, Relic made a post on the status of retail patch 2.600 on May 20, but there hasn’t been much news since then. It’s mainly a bug patch, though the T17 is getting nerfed. Here are the highlights so far:

– Heavy Machine Guns. We will be introducing a fix to the current delay for an HMG switching windows when in a building and return proper operation for British emplacements and other units that were affected by patch 2.502.

This bug seems to affect American HMGs as well. You will notice this in the Battle Report I’ll post this week. It seems to cause the MG gunner not to relocate for as long as 7-8 seconds at a time, resulting in the MG getting slaughtered.

– Fix the Pak 38 camouflage stacking bonus modifier that increases the gun’s damage beyond the intended effect.

Pretty self-explanatory. It’s a pretty outrageous bug, but my old bones are weary from having yelled at Relic so many times for unimaginably stupid shit in the past.

– Commonly known as the ‘burst fire bug’, we will address an issue that allowed some units to ignore their weapon cooldowns.

I think this affects the Strafing Run primarily; again the Battle Report shows this off (though I think in that game, it didn’t really do anything that was ridiculously overpowered… you’ll see).

Once again, I apologize for my own delay and failure to keep promises, but real life just really seems to enjoy disrupting my time and motivation here. But fear not, sports fans — I’ll never give up on Rifles Ready! I intend to be absolutely Churchillian about keeping this blog alive. You can take that to the bank.