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.
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.
The 30% increase to health gives the M10 almost as much staying power as the Sherman, while it retains its superior anti-tank main gun, its higher top speed, much more responsive turn rate and rapid acceleration. Right off the bat, this lets the M10 go toe-to-toe with Stug IVs and Panzer IVs. It also gives the M10 more survivability when you attempt to micro it into crowds of enemy squads (the maneuverability of the M10 lets you confuse squad pathfinding and potentially crush infantry unless your opponent knows exactly how to counter).
The 10% decrease in received penetration, which basically translates to a 10% greater chance to deflect anti-tank projectiles, is less noticeable but a solid nice-to-have bonus.
The Self-repair ability costs 35 MUN to activate and prevents the M10 from firing while active, but does not affect movement unlike the Armor Commander’s Field Repairs ability. It provides repairs equal to about 40% of the M10 health bar.
This design feature of Self-repair is clearly intended to give you an incentive to run away while regenerating health. At the very least, put a world object such as a house or hedgerow between you and enemy AT while the ability is active.
Finally, the Armor Commander’s abilities yield dividends on every one of these advantages. HVAP Rounds make the M10 fire faster, further improves its penetration against heavy armor and boosts accuracy. This combines well with Armor Bounty, virtually guaranteeing kills and thus generous bounties in the right situations — a near-death, high-value unit such as a Panther or Tiger, for instance.
Field Repairs, which by itself can bring an M10 for a sliver of health to 80% (assuming you have leveled pretty high), can be active at the same time as Self-repair. If you have a max-level Field Repairs ability and also activate Self-repair, we’re talking healing hit points worth 150% or more of the Durable M10’s substantial health bar.
Well-timed use of these abilities allows a Durable M10 to defeat Panther tanks one-on-one, assuming you get enough side and rear penetrations, particularly with HVAP Rounds. The increased penetration appears to improve damage as well — this could be some sort of multiplier being factored in, or just my imagination, running away with me. Feel free to correct or vindicate me on this if you know the guts of the game engine.
The bottom line: Armor Commanders MUST have a level 5 Durable Tank Destroyer parked in their Tank Depot. It’s the same price as a regular M10, but can absorb tremendous punishment during a tank battle with even mediocre micromanagement. Its anti-tank gun, already highly effective against vehicles and medium armor, becomes deadly against these targets and offers decent chances at frontal penetration of Tigers and even the King Tiger. Other Commanders still get a much better M10 right out of the Depot, that supplements AT guns, Paratroopers and Rangers nicely.