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


Basic Tip: Using booby traps

January 5, 2009

I’ve been accused of catering more to the Allies — specifically the Americans — and not so much our poor komraden fighting for the glory of the Fatherland. Well, that stops today with this post. What’s an excellent but underused doctrine-specific ability in the early game? That the Panzer Elite get? Booby trapped buildings, of course! Sure, it requires you to pick Scorched Earth, and forgo sick units like the Fallschirmjager, Hetzer and Jagdpanther, but on the plus side you get some truly satisfying low-micro, high-damage abilities, like Booby Traps for points and buildings, Sector Artillery and of course, Hummel mobile artillery pieces.

cmdr_pnze_booby_trap_buildingNow, the ability Booby Trap buildings can be had for a single Command Point and any Panzer Grenadier can place them in any neutral building. There are key buildings on every map (the house by the bottom player’s strategic point on Angoville, the church on Semois) that are almost guaranteed to be garrisoned by the enemy during the course of a match. These should be the first targets, but because you can use Booby Traps in buildings as many times as you want, feel free to keep idle PGs busy planting them in less frequently used or less strategically positioned buildings as well. It takes a good amount of time to booby-trap a building, and the gray progress bar is visible to your enemy as well as you.

Booby traps then, are best placed when your infantry are outside your enemy’s sight range. The same hiss-click noise your enemies hear when triggering a trap on a resource point is heard when their units enter a trapped building. They have a good 2-3 seconds to get out before squad members start dying, but frequently, your opponent will be too distracted to hear this noise, especially if they are garrisoning a building in the middle of a firefight. In the mid-game and beyond, your opponent may think the noise indicates another squad triggering a trap on a resource point being captured — great if you’ve conditioned him to expect lots of trapped points.

Argh, exploding boobies!

Argh, exploding boobies!

Squad members die rapidly once the trap is actually triggered, and an entire squad will be fully destroyed if the opponent fails to react in time.

Basic Tip: Base-rush on Lorraine

January 2, 2009

paras_by_doorI know some map changes await when version 2.507 of the balance beta, but I’m about 95% sure no changes will be made to Lorraine, one of my favorite 2v2 maps. This little tactic may be considered lame by some, but in my view it’s fair game. Note that this base rush can work against every player’s HQ sector, though the one pictured seems most convenient. This tactic is a base rush, executable once you have AT infantry like Paratroopers, Stormtroopers, Rangers or any mans packing Panzershrecks. Flamers work as well, though the short range makes AT weaponry preferable. Basically, you place infantry with AT weapons in the civilian building overlooking the MG structure of the player in the lower right of the map.

Surprise, kids!

Surprise, kids!

From here, you can rapidly destroy the MG closest to you — and the extra sight range afforded by garrisoning also allows you to fire on other buildings as well. What’s almost unfair about this particular position is that infantry can approach it from outside the range of the base defenses; in fact it’s very easy not to notice that this is being done to you, if you’re the hapless victim.

Cleaning house.

Cleaning house.

In my example, the Paratroopers can actually attack the second MG bunker from their position in the house, just astounding given the long range. I am not sure if garrisoned infantry receive a range bonus (weapon range, not sight range), but this is incredibly effective, as you can see. From here you just exit the building and sweep effortlessly into the base. Only a Defensive-doctrine Wehrmacht player has any change of stopping this, but given how fast buildings die to Satchel Charges, Panzershrecks and Recoilless Rifles, even they will be forced to retreat.

Normally there would be a just-retreated army to fight, but it was already GG this game.

Normally there would be a just-retreated army to fight, but it was already GG this game.

In the YouTube video below, it was almost GG anyway because my partner had captured an enemy Flak 88 and it’s firing on my opponent’s base already, using my sight radius to spot. Now, if the game is evenly matched, you will have to deal with your enemies’ armies (which they will retreat to fend you off), a great way to counter is using the Strafing Run. Any off-map direct-damage ability will do, 105mm Artillery, Firestorm, etc. and the effect is vicious.

Potential counters: Defensive doctrine Wehrmacht, with defensive base MGs and Registered Artillery and For the Fatherland. On the Panzer Elite side, Sector Artillery will likely make a terrific mess of things as well.

Basic Tip: Using buildings against MGs

December 29, 2008

Heavy MGs are very intimidating, especially if you’re new to COH. The Wehrmacht MG42 in particular can suppress Riflemen so quickly it often feels like you’re doing nothing but retreating against a skilled opponent.

Here’s a great illustration of how an MG can be defeated easily by using Riflemen garrisoned in a building to draw its fire. Everyone knows the “classic” MG flank, wherein one squad deliberately enters an MG’s firing arc so that multiple other squads can close in on the MG from other directions. Having a squad in a building draw fire is even easier, as you can see in this example on Sturzdorf.

You’ll notice how the Volksgrenadiers have trouble fending off Riflemen at close range, which is the optimal position for Riflemen when fighting Volks. Also notice how the garrisoned Riflemen take minimal damage from the MG, even after sustained fire — the long range and building defenses make a huge difference.

Basic Tip: Bombing Run splash radius

November 12, 2008

The accuracy of the American Bombing Run seems to vary widely, with some runs doing very little damage even though visually the explosions appear right on target. By the same token, some runs don’t their targets head-on at all, yet kill armored targets like Tigers via splash damage. What’s really annoying is that the splash radius is just about invisible, for all intents and purposes.

You’ll want to be aware of this when you’re aiming your runs. There will be an Advanced Tip down the road where I’ll diagram a few bombing run screenshots in an attempt to isolate the specific splash radius. But for now — a fun video for you to watch.

In this extended video, you will see TWO separate bombing runs. The first occurs immediately, with one explosion striking a Tiger I dead-on but inflicting maybe 10% damage. The second bombing run occurs near the end of this clip (I dropped the second run) and is FAR more effective, though you wouldn’t think so based on where the explosions land.

The second run destroys the Tiger (it had about 20% health remaining) AND a full-health Stuka halftrack. The explosions don’t appear to hit either vehicle, it’s the splash damage that counts. Be patient, the fatal bombing run appears at the end of the exchange, before it happens the Tiger duels a Sherman, destroys it but takes heavy damage from an AT gun. Only THEN does my P-47 finish the job. This was from a 2v2 game I played with a partner, who was also Airborne.

Basic Tip: The value of experience

September 18, 2008
Flanking, Stug-circling and strafe-aiming  increase with every new level
Flanking, Stug-circling and strafe-aiming increase with every new level

First off, my humble apologies for the unproductive last few days. It is our goal here at Rifles Ready! to post just about every day, or every other day, if possible. But it’s been a hairy week so far at my real office, where I’m writing about real things, like Medicare, to readers who have lots of money and pay me, bcause they’re rich doctors.

That said, here’s a really simple tip that will improve your gameplay an awful lot: experience matters. Yes sir, that’s why I’ve chosen the World of Warcraft experience bar above to highlight this little post. Experience is something you gain oodles of after almost every COH game, assuming you paid attention to why you won or lost, especially the latter. A loss is an opportunity to save the replay and see where you went wrong. Moreover, you run into enough Volksgrenadier + MG42 starts on Angoville or Langres, and you’ll know how to cope. You may need to lose to this once, twice or 10 times, but you’ll learn to deal with it and move on.

I’m 24 years old. Presumably that would give me a good six years of priceless life experience over an 18-year-old like Surprise, yet it’s his name that COH devotees lift in song during their morning prayers for faster reflexes and more COH victories. Surprise is a great player who started out as noobish as the next joker. He just learned quickly and allowed himself to gain experience from both winning and losing.

If you lose a game and feel shitty about it, particularly if you believe your opponent did something “cheap” or “spammed” or was just a plain old meanie and called you a noob for losing, you have two choices. You can go back and look at what you, YOU, can improve on (meaning you remove all the unfair shit, real or perceived), or you can bitch, moan, pound your keyboard and/or go masturbate.

Do I really have to tell you which choice will make you win more at COH in the future? Pick the wrong choice and your COH XP bar will sit still like a bump on a log. While I despise WoW, I find the comparison very apt. You can grind through as many games as you want and NEVER level up or even move your XP bar in COH. But if you choose to learn and analyze wins and losses, you’ll move that XP bar twice as fast as it normally moves — when you win or lose a game and never look back.

Basic Tip: Snipers and windows

September 12, 2008

Takin' a walk...

Taking a walk...

Have you ever told your Sniper to start knocking heads inside a garrisoned building? You have a clear line of sight to the building, the Sniper even has yellow or green cover right where he’s standing. Yet the crazy sonuvabitch won’t shoot! Nope, he’ll go for a stroll, walking at a crawl to the other side of the target building. Sweet baby Jesus, is this frustrating or what? The worst thing that can happen is for you to tell the Sniper to attack the building, then go off and order some other units around. When you come back to make sure the Sniper is putting Krauts to bed (or Yankees, for that matter) like he’s supposed to, you find the idiot has walked into a roving Jeep or Motorcycle or into barbed wire, which uncloaks him. I’ve even had Snipers walk their way into a Butterfly bomb or mine for the loss.

Out of sight, out of mind...

Out of sight, out of mind...

The reason Snipers like going for a walk sometimes is simple: windows. For your Sniper to shoot from his current position, he must have a clear line of sight to a window of the garrisoned building and that window must have a helmeted enemy noggin in it. No noggin, no shot. No shot but an attack order = time for a walk. If you think about it, this makes pretty good sense.

Look before you give order.

Look before you give the order.

It’s the same COH building logic that allows a grenade to sometimes kill an entire MG squad in a building — or sometimes only one squad member. Get that ‘nade in the right window, where the MG squad is clustered together, and you got a good time coming. In a big building, where MG members disperse into windows on opposite sides of the building, you are guaranteed an incomplete kill with one grenade.

NOTE: You can try using a regular, uncloaked unit like a Rifle squad in conjunction with your Sniper. The Rifle squad will cause the MG (or any garrisoned unit) to change windows, so as to fire on the Rifle squad. If you time this right, your Sniper can fire and instantly kill the MG gunner before he opens up. Do this too late, and your Sniper will get suppressed/pinned right along with your Riflemen, even though he is invisible.