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.

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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.