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.
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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


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!

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.

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