COHO patch: Slightly gutless before the holidays

December 16, 2010

Relic plays it safe.Just a few hours after my post showing the Relic mascot (it’s always been a blind cat, by the way) being led by a Nazi lap dog, Relic puts out the biggest patch for COHO in more than a month.

Coinky-dink? I think not, kameraden.

Here’s my two cents in a nutshell: This patch gently tickles some of the outstanding balance issues I highlighted in my earlier post (which by the way, are not somehow unique to me — these were literally the top five COHO balance problems listed on GR.org).

Sadly, where stern and decisive action was required, we got some rather gutless, half-hearted tweaks. Relic admits as much, saying that this update “focuses on bug and balance fixes, with the intention of not introducing high risk changes or features before we all go off to celebrate the holidays.” It’s a beta, if in name only. Risk, gentlemen, is why you’re aboard.

Anyway, check below the fold for the full list of balance changes, with some commentary.

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“Who have balance this game is a blind?”

December 15, 2010
Who have balance this game is a blind?

There's a Neville Chamberlain joke in here somewhere.

Do you like playing COHO? I’ve got one great question for you: “Who have balance this game is a blind?

This phrase has been seared across my neurons. One instant I was scanning for posts in Relic’s official COHO forums, the next I was rolling on the floor with giddy, joyful mirth.

To me this is on the level of such contemporary classics as “All your base are belong to us,” “I can has cheeseburger?” and the old RTS standby, “He’s in ur base killin ur d00dz.

This is taken from the name of a thread on Relic’s official COHO forums, in which a poster named “Suen” — one hopes desperately he is not a native English speaker — offers no reasons why the game is unbalanced. He got as good as he gave; if you read the thread he gets bashed immediately by Relic, no less.

Relic moderator “Noun” replied in this fashion: “Unlike some more basic games for new gamers where the balance is very easy and simple, because they just mirror units on each side, this is a more advanced game for fans of video games.  If you’d like to spend some time playing the game and learning how it works we’d be happy to accept your constructive feedback.  But if you’re just wanting to point out that this isn’t an easy game that’s not as helpful.”

Well, while Suen offers no more than marvelous grammatical constructs — which are a worthy addition to the enterprise of written English — I will take Noun up on his offer. You want some constructive feedback? Trust me, it’s not for a lack of balance problems with your game. Suck on this bullet-point list, buddy.

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Uniformed COH booth babe!

December 5, 2010

Is that a salute or are you showing me the bottom of your hand?

She won't give you her number.

This just in: Apparently Company of Heroes has its own booth babe! You know, booth babes — the disarmingly attractive young females sporting “in-universe” costumes from your favorite video games, who stand by the booths of game companies at various events!

While booth babes were popularized by companies like Square Enix (employers of the original Lara Croft booth babe, who got too naked for Playboy and was fired), they were immortalized by the World of Warcraft Elven booth babes. When a game company’s got scratch, the booth babes come more comely, in greater numbers and seem to sport more revealing attire.

Sadly, as THQ/Relic doesn’t have that kind of scratch. At this year’s E3 in Los Angeles, which ran from June 15-17, there was only one COHO babe and she wore a faux U.S. Army uniform (you can see more Relic photos from E3 on their COHO Facebook page).

Booth babe reporting for duty!

Join the war effort!

As you may infer from these photos, the babe — one Anna Panici, according to her name tag — was tasked with standing in the vicinity of the COHO booth and snapping off salutes, most likely to male passersby.

I couldn’t resist Googling her. She speaks five languages and likes to be shown a good time by RTS players who know how to mold magic with their fingers — around a G3 laser mouse, that is. If you must, click here to view Anna’s Picasa web album, you salacious bastard. I know you would’ve Googled her anyway if I hadn’t provided the link.

That other chick actually just works here.

She'll make that face for for the next guy, too.

All kidding aside: I honestly don’t see the point. COHO is a marketing experiment by a company that obviously doesn’t have the resources to do a proper sequel to one of the best RTS games of all time. It’s also one of the best World War II games of all time. I don’t know what happened after the original COH came out, but it left Relic fielding one lonely booth babe, who had to put up with pick-up lines from gamers all by herself. Imagine the army of Allied and Wehrmacht babes — and the sorts of garments that leave little to the imagination — Relic could have afforded.


Hero Units: Durable M10 Tank Destroyer

December 1, 2010
Low-level Hero Units

Hero Units are a very mixed bag.

I’ll be starting a few initiatives here to cover the differences between COHO and the original game, expansions and all. First up are Hero Units, starting with the ones I’ve found most useful. Later this week, there will be a broad concept article on how Hero Units alter the game — the thesis will be that Heroes are NOT always preferable to non-persistent regular units, rather they are situational.

What’s more, Hero Units are a very mixed bag. Some Hero Units are tremendously useful, while others suffer significant disadvantages that make their vanilla counterpart a much better choice (the Skilled M8 comes to mind). Relic has adopted a semi-standardized prefix system for low-level Hero Units, which have a green border on their unit icons. A Skilled Tank Destroyer gets the same bonuses as a Skilled Sherman, but the bonuses for “Skilled” armor are slightly different than for “Skilled” infantry. These changes are context-sensitive, e.g. it makes sense for “Skilled” tanks to benefit from 10% faster speed and acceleration but “Skilled” infantry get 25% less received suppression instead at the same level.

For now, let’s talk about the Durable Tank Destroyer, a mid-level Hero Unit and one of a few that can be purchased from the COHO Store (2,7500 supply or 100 COHO cash). Here’s the official Rifles Ready! straight-to-the-chase summary card for the Durable Tank Destroyer.

Finally, the Americans get cheap, fast AT armor with reasonable staying power

Just what the doctor ordered.

This is a unit that is undeniably superior to the vanilla M10 in every respect once fully leveled, suffering no disadvantages (e.g., Skilled Riflemen can’t pick up weapons). You can’t say the same for the Durable Sherman, which gets the exact same bonuses as the Durable Tank Destroyer but winds up being far less useful. The M10 was a highly situational unit in COH because of its paper-thin armor, tendency to “blank-fire” (a bug where it would animate and the cannon sound effect would go off, but no round was fired) and overall inability to survive long enough to gain the veterancy it desperately needed. The Durable version of the M10 solves all these problems, particularly for Armor Commanders.

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