COHO a casualty of bad business model

February 3, 2011
It's over, dawg, over!

It's all going down, down, down.

It’s official. Company of Heroes Online, popularly known as “COHO,” is dead and all servers will cease operating on March 31, 2011. Sadly, all your Commanders, items, records, ranks and so forth shall disappear into the void.

For some reason, the imminent sweeping away of Hosni Mubarak before a tidal wave of wrath from the Egyptian street seemed appropriate to me as supporting imagery (left). I guess it’s time to overhaul the Rifles Ready! banner yet again.

Actual money spent on COHO cash, which were the real meat on the bones of this free-to-play experiment, will usable until March 31. One hopes they will make all the overpowered items and units available now for purchase, to console folks who actually spent real cash on COHO cash.

Don’t kid yourself — COHO really is dead, despite corporate Relic puffery in the form of noises such as “After an exciting period of operating and testing, we will be closing the Open Beta on March 31, 2011 to evaluate the next steps for the Company of Heroes series.” Translation: This shit didn’t make us any fracking money.

Who didn’t see this coming? The free-to-play model is a simple one, built on microtransactions, where gamers would pay tiny amounts of money for non-tangible products that enhance the free experience. Ask yourself, honestly, if you were ever seriously tempted to spend a dime on your COHO experience. The complete rant, plus an update on the future of this blog, may be found below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »


The return of Rifles Ready

November 26, 2010
Do I got a deal for you.

The dollar is on the decline.

It’s been more than one-and-a-half years since my last post on this blog, yet the supportive comments and demands for more content keep trickling in. I’m immensely appreciative of all this support, and humbled. I have done little to deserve it.

But with Company of Heroes Online (COHO) poised to hit the big time, I’ve decided its time for Rifles Ready to make a triumphant return. I’m not sure whether Battle Reports will return in their present form, or whether an MP3 shoutcast would be better.

But given their immense popularity, they will come back, along with:

  • Analysis and breakdown of Hero Units and Army Items
  • Analysis of revised doctrine abilities and skill trees
  • Strategy tips from Surprise, who’s also getting a kick out of COHO

Why the long silence? Well, real life got in the way, with job-related duties intensifying and the fact that I bought a house and have to fill it with renters to cover the mortgage. You’d be surprised how much routine work goes into maintaining a house. It feels like everything breaks once a year. Also, let’s be honest: Relic gave up on this game as of patch 2.602. Balance between the four factions is, if not broken, seriously undermined by the way the Panzer Elite and British work. And when COHO went into public beta a few months ago, I was dubious. A cheap way for Relic to leverage existing assets and scare up some quick cash? Check. A fun game that is more balanced than the final, woefully neglected incarnation of COH/Opposing Fronts/Tales of Valor? Actually… check.

I’ve been playing the COHO beta for a couple months and it’s a lot of fun. The balance is a mixed bag, with variations in Hero Units, Army Items and Commander levels inevitably setting the stage for unfair matches. But the game has been reinvigorated by the expansion of the doctrine trees and all sorts of new abilities for the Americans and Wehrmacht.

I’m far less sanguine on the micro-payment model offered by Relic, which includes the sale of physical “COHO cash” cards for real American greenbacks. At the moment, you can play enough games to resupply all your top-end Hero Units and Army Items without COHO cash, but if this changes and it becomes impractical to do so, that’s a wrap.

That being said: Let’s hope for the best, because COHO is a reminder of just how good the original game was. Just stop yourself from asking the obvious questions (where the hell is COH 2, why the hell is there no support for the expanded COH beyond 2.602, etc.) and you’ll be best posed to enjoy the ride.

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″

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.

This weekend: OMG. Biggest. Comeback. EVAR.

May 27, 2009


Alright folks, I’ve been having an awfully busy few days of work and real-life socializing, so I apologize for the paucity (now there’s an SAT word for ya!) of updates.

That being said, you and all sports fans are in for a major treat this weekend, in the form of the Battle Report of the century. Seldom have I found a replay so exciting, so astoundingly, so utterly unbelievable in the action, as this one. Our grumpy hero, one CharlesDarwin, squares off against Malivos, on the familiar stalking fields of Semois.

This is the first epic comeback of the Tales of Valor era. Both players spam some overpowered 2.502 BS, with the father of evolution favoring the highly evolved infantry-killing T17 and Malivos scorching points like its his job with his Schwimmwagen. There are heroic paratroopers who fall from the heavens and give the ultimate sacrifice, stalwart Panzer Grenadiers who fearlessly siege an Allied base, and as I said earlier, a comeback that will leave your teeth chattering with suspense.

Psyched yet? Well, you oughts to be. Stay tuned!

Site Update: This weekend will be hot…

May 11, 2009
Heavyweights test new waters!

Heavyweights test new waters!

There’s a thrilling new Battle Report that awaits you this weekend, featuring the highest-rated replay on — an epic showdown between Sepha and Hamilton on the new, unproven killing field of Flooded Plains. Presumably the map is meant to capture the low-lying terrain of France, which the Nazis designed to be floodable in order to cripple air-dropped troops and slow enemy advances.

Also shortly up will be a review of some online casino games. Random, you say? Maybe, but a wealthy patron of the arts is providing funding to Rifles Ready! for reviewing and I do enjoy a good gamble every now and again.

So stay tuned… great things are just ’round the corner. delays will be likely

May 6, 2009
When it <i>doesn't</i> make you smile

When it doesn't make you smile

I’ve just learned that will likely require another 10-12 business days to approve Volume I of our COH audio strategy series, Mind of a Master. Most disappointing. But rest assured, sports fans — I’ll continue to tease bits and pieces of this thrilling MP3 album in Battle Reports and other media on the blog. Just see the latest Battle Report for a taste.

In the meantime, you can expect additional Battle Reports and perhaps some tips and balance commentary. Specifically, I’m looking at doing our first report on one of the new Tales of Valor maps. Meanwhile, the jury is still out on patch 2.502 and it’s not clear exactly how seismic a change patch 2.503 will bring.