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Company of Heroes: Flow of the Game American Perspective

By AceBourne - 2nd June 2009 - 22:51 PM

Company of Heroes, like most forms of competition, has a flow to it. In basketball, one team is on offense, while the other defends. The game goes back and forth with the roles reversing after each possession. Baseball is the same; the teams switch from offense to defense each inning. In Company of Heroes, roles are not as clearly defined. One player, for example, may be attacking one side of the map, while he could be defending on the other side. However, I believe what separates the average players from the good ones is their ability to purposefully or intuitively understand when they should attack, cap, harass, defend, etc. In this article, I hope to help players comprehend the thought process behind what they should be working toward from the beginning to the end of a Company of Heroes game. While I donít claim to be the best Company of Heroes player out there, I believe that I do have a good set of skills and hope that the experience Iíve gained through playing Company of Heroes will be a service to the GameReplays community. Though the article has an American perspective, I believe a lot of the concepts are transferable to all factions.

In the early game for the Americans, it's ok to spread out your forces. The early battles against Wehrmacht will involve Engineers and Rifleman vs. Pioneers and Volksgrenadiers. Rifles defeat Volks at close range, and Engies have the edge against Pios, so spreading your forces out to cap the map is a good idea. Against the Panzer Elite, itís also a good idea to spread your forces early to cap the map, but you must be more cautious when it comes to engaging enemy forces. Panzer Grenadiers tend to travel together, so you want to avoid the blob and only engage when you can isolate and outnumber a single Panzer Grenadier squad. Focus primarily on controlling resources and harassing PE points in the early game until you can bring your quick M8 onto the field. For the first four or five minutes, as well as throughout the game, you should have little to no inactivity. That way, you're taking full advantage of the fact that Rifles and the US overall cap faster than Wehrmacht and Panzer Elite.

By the time five minutes has passed, the map should have for the most part been collectively capped by both sides.

At this point, you want to start being more aggressive and concentrate your units. This is done in order to coordinate multi-flank attacks to deal damage to the enemy, and ideally force them off the field. However, even in the early game before the map has been claimed, you want to prioritize battling over capping if itís a fight you can win. Bring you forces together, and look to execute multi-flank attacks. Itís important to utilize all your forces when attacking the enemy and to avoid having idle units who arenít contributing in other parts of the map. This is because the US will often have superior numbers, as the Riflemen have six man squads and are the primary offensive infantry unit. The multi-flank attacks are also critical for avoiding getting stopped cold by MG42's, which happens if you bunch your infantry together. After youíve launched your first successful large scale attack, you want to cap the territory that youíve gained through forcing your opponent to retreat. Retreat the squads that need to be re-enforced or healed so that theyíll be 100% for the next engagement. Also, use mines, wire, and sandbags to fortify your position for the inevitable counter attack. Throughout your attacks, it is useful to have a single unit like an Engie squad capping the opposite side of the map where the battles arenít taking place. Often, that unit will have free reign over that side because the majority of forces are engaged in the fight elsewhere.

After having success in that initial attack, you want to have your units positioned slightly back of your front line resource points in the fog of war. Have your forces spread out so that they will be ready to launch the next attack on the enemy from multiple flanks with the goal of pushing them off the field again. Ideally, you continue to maintain the upper hand through superior attacking and continue to fortify your positions until you can overrun the enemy and finish the game with a satisfying win. Just as in any competition, things donít always go as you plan, but if youíre able to distribute your forces better than your enemy, you should be able to come out with the win. If an attack does fail, be sure to preserve your units and retreat squads before theyíre killed. Just like those tips you see before the match starts says, "It is cheaper to re-enforce squads than to train new ones." When attacking, itís important to use focus fire to take out high priority targets so that your enemyís most important units are eliminated. It also goes without saying that using the best available cover is a must.

Another tactic that can be used to increase the effectiveness of your attacks and general play is using the fog of war to your advantage. Always have an idea of what your enemy is aware of when it comes to how your forces are distributed. Make sure that whatever your enemy last saw of your units is not where theyíll be the next time you launch an attack. The element of surprise will help you attack your enemy where he is weak and unsuspecting, allowing you to foil his attempts to further his own offensive agenda. The fog of war is invaluable to setting up large flanking attacks, but it is also great for capping from unexpected directions, and for launching surprise attacks on the enemy. Using single seemingly unprotected and vulnerable units to cap enemy points is usually an invitation for them to launch an attack on that unit. Hopefully when they do, youíll have a surprise attack force in the fog of war or some well placed mines to ruin their day.

If youíre able to gain map control and force them off the field early, the mid-game against Wehrmacht may be where the game ends. Without fuel for teching up to later, more powerful tiers, a Wehrmacht player will have trouble gaining access to their more powerful late game units. Since they were unable to secure map control for a more defensive strategy and get their bunker setup, as Americans, you should be able to finish the game by pressing your early advantage. Panzer Elite have a better chance of staging a comeback, but as long as youíre distributing your forces well, you should be able to finish the game when American Tier 4 hits the field.

Continuing to follow the pattern of attack (push enemy off the field), cap (the points that are now unguarded), fortify (mines/wires/sandbags), retreat (wounded units for healing), attack (be ready to push the enemy further off the field in the next engagement) is a good formula that can lead you to victory. Keep your squads healthy and in support of one another, and eventually you will overcome your opponent unless theyíve been doing better than you.

The key to successful American play is your ability to apply constant pressure to your enemy. If youíre able to do this you should have success, but if not, it may be a long hard game for you. The more pressure you apply and the better you execute attacks, the greater chance your opponent will make mistakes. Mistakes you can capitalize on. Itís all about forcing your opponents to make mistakes and then capitalizing on them while minimizing your own mistakes. Knowing what is and is not a mistake and how to force mistakes is simply a matter of experience and a conscious effort to improve. Hopefully through using this article and the other great articles on GameReplays, you, the reader, will be able to improve and win games. Company of Heroes is always more fun when you win. I look forward to any and all feedback from the GameReplays community and I hope it helped.

By Andrew ďAceBourneĒ Bass

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