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.

Read the rest of this entry »


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.
Read the rest of this entry »

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


Battle Report: Sepha (Wehr) vs. Hamilton (US)

May 20, 2009
REPLAYSepha (Terror) vs. Hamilton (Infantry) RETAIL 2.502

[Click link above to download the actual replay] 



At long last, we have a Battle Report featuring the first new map of retail 2.502: Flooded Plains. On the one hand we have COH legend Sepha, playing as Wehrmacht; on the other, as the Americans, we have one Hamilton, whom I’m unfamiliar with.

Rest assured however, this is an excellent match. There’s a ton of infantry that reach elite status; there’s a King Tiger that goes out in a Bismarck-style blaze of glory; there’s artillery wiping out an entire Knights’ Cross squad in one hit, plus lots of dead Panzer IVs. Flooded Plains is still so new that both players are still sort of figuring it out. It’s an interesting map for two reasons: first, there are two high fuels, just like Angoville, and they’re close enough to each player that teching is quite quick. Second, the terrain and resources are quite evenly distributed.

Both players start by tacking toward their high fuels, which I suspect will pretty much be the default opening move on this map. Sepha moves next to secure what seems like a stronghold position at the top mid-region, but it becomes quickly evident that this area doesn’t favor MGs.

Decisions, decisions...

Decisions, decisions...

If you garrison the house, your MG can’t hit either the top Victory Point or the nearby Munitions point.

MGs can't cover either point.

MGs can't cover either point.

If you deploy in the open, it’s tough to cover both discrete routes, which enemy infantry can easily take simultaneously in separate squads. Your best bet is to angle your MG so you cover the top route and much of the bottom.

relic00008Sepha is thwarted by Hamilton for precisely this reason; the Riflemen move in two directions, forcing him to keep shifting his MG. It may be a better idea to go for multiple Volksgrenadiers on this map; then again the high fuel income means BARs can come very quickly, devastating your Volks. It’ll be interesting to see how high-level play develops on this map. Sepha goes for an Axis Sniper instead; this is a common tactic for Wehrmacht on building-heavy maps like Semois, where Rifles frequently garrison buildings to hold ground.

If you can pick off enough Riflemen, you can justify the expense and risk of a Sniper. If you don’t kill enough men before losing your Sniper, you’ll have sacrificed time, manpower and capping power.

Sepha’s Sniper is off to a good start, but unbeknownst to him, Hamilton’s spare Engineer squad spends some time placing a mine.

Read the rest of this entry »

Battle Report: Quacks (US) vs. NiceSirotaSan (PE)

May 4, 2009
REPLAYQuacks (Infantry) vs. NiceSirotaSan (Luftwaffe) RETAIL 2.502

[Click link above to download the actual replay]

It's a regular demo derby!

It's a regular demo derby!

Here we go sports fans, our very first post-Tales of Valor Battle Report! The game is between Quacks — aka Kodachrome — and NiceSirotaSan, who may or may not be some smurf. Highlights include some astoundingly effective Jeep usage in the beginning, epic and sudden turns of fate, perhaps the most massive base attacks mounted post-patch 2.301, and to top it off, a huge comeback. While both players are exemplary, this replay isn’t an example of perfect play. In fact, both Kodachrome and Sirota make major mistakes. What makes it interesting is how they hang on in the face of long odds and react to rapidly shifting fortunes. So, to the match! The map is St. Mere Dumont, doubtless a welcome change from the all-too familiar killing fields of Angoville. St. Mere, or Dumont as some call it, is generally regarded as rather unfair to American players, due largely to the huge number of buildings. Axis MG42s or G43 Panzer Grenadiers can quickly garrison buildings and be extremely difficult for Riflemen to dislodge without incurring significant casualties early on. We open with Koda down south; he begins the match by building a Jeep first, which is nearly unheard of, particularly in U.S. vs. PE matches. Most good players don’t get a Jeep first against PE, especially now that the Kettenrad pathfinding bug has been fixedand you can’t get guaranteed Ketten kills in the first minutes of a game. But Koda goes for a Jeep and sends it screaming into downtown St. Mere Dumont, where it charges into a pack of PGs.

Cruisin' for a bruisin'...

Cruisin' for a bruisin'...

reliccoh-2009-05-02-09-47-59-39Right away Koda uses the Jeep to distract them as they go about capping; his Engineers go for the top +10 fuel right above the Cafe Normandy building and barb it up with wire. This is always a good move on Dumont, especially early on against PE, who have no wire cutters and can’t do jack about wire until they get their first Infantry Halftrack. Next up the real Jeep action begins. Using his Jeep, Koda gets in the way of a moving PG squad, forcing the 3-man squad to scatter its members. When individual squad members are separated from their squad, they receive the brunt of any focused fire and die quickly as a result. Fire on a clumped-together squad and the gunfire won’t necessarily target a single individual; rather they’ll lower the entire squad’s health by hitting several squad members.reliccoh-2009-05-02-09-44-50-58 Here the Jeep forcibly separates the men by simply getting in the way. It takes some practice to do this effectively, and you’ll need to watch your Jeep carefully and retreat it when taking focused fire. Keeping the Jeep alive is crucial, because you can’t spare the extra time to build a second Jeep when you need to be massing up to your preferred complement of 3-4 Rifle squads. Always retreat with a margin of error to minimize the chance of suffering engine damageand giving the PGs a free kill. reliccoh-2009-05-02-09-45-12-46When done successfully, studied Jeep movements  can scatter a squad very widely, making it take much longer for all the members to consolidate behind cover. As you can see here, the extra time needed became fatal for one unfortunate Kraut. Koda actually killed that particular PG with a combination of Jeep fire and fire from his first Engy squad; Sirota largely ignores these two “weak” units in favor of capping the crucial middle strategic point (SP), though he pivots afterward to prioritize the +10 north fuel point. You can scroll down and click the link to expand the full post to watch the YouTube video of this amazing, Jeep-centered initial skirmish. But before that, check out our very own Rifles Ready! illustrated analysis of the Willys-Overland Jeep as depicted in COH:

Cupholders optional with the EX version.

Cupholders optional with the EX version.

thumb_bannerHere’s a little teaser from the Mind of a Master audio strategy series featuring Surprise talking about how he uses the Jeep. Remember to check back later this week for an update when Volume I of the MoM series becomes available on Amazon.com.https://riflesready.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/jeep-usage-teaser.mp3″ Read the rest of this entry »