Company of Heroes Strategy & Tactics

Since the other thread was intended to help organize a COH night (the first one of which will be on Friday March 2nd at 6 Pacific, in the Semois channel online) Ill fire up another thread to discuss various things that come up as I learn this game.

This game has the best combined arms rock/paper/scissor setup I’ve seen, and not via numerical bonuses. The way the various units work makes for a lot of great matchups and counters. All the strategies I’ve seen thus far have counters. One poster was saying Allies could just wad up a bunch of Paras or Rangers and win, but in my experience a big wad of infantry is VERY vulnerable to a lot of things: machine guns, mortars, and the half dozen different area effect special attacks.

That said, there’s still a lot of stuff I have trouble with.

Early machine guns give me fits - especially when the enemy builds one quick and slips it into a building to deprive me of a crucial location. What are some good counters to early machine guns? I’ve tried mortars but thats often a too later solution - by the time I get em out and in position, I’ve lost the good ground.

What are some typical early game strategies for Allies and for Axis?

Just to get us started…

Basically… (i haven’t played in a few months).

The Allies are at a pretty big disadvantage against the Germans at the start of a game; the German can create any Tier 1 unit out of a single barracks, while the Allies need to build two different tier 1 buildings. The Allies also seperate heavy weapon teams (HMG, Sniper) and the light stuff (Jeep, Infantry); so, if you building nothing but the support rax, you’ll be quite vulnerable to snipers; but build nothing but the infantry tent, and you’re vulnerable to HMG squads. The allies have nothing comparable to the cheap and effective StuG, either.

So, basically, what generally worked for me as Allies was going infantry, jeep, jeep, and throw in one or two engineer squads. Most of the time this worked pretty well; Jeeps aren’t suppressed by HMG fire (although they are damged pretty quick by it), so you can flank the MG nest and act as super mobile support, plus you can retreat them and repair them to full health at no cost. Everything the allies have is better slightly than the Germans; Allied infantry will hold and beat Volksgrenadiers (unupgraded), Allied Engineer squads massacre Pioneers. So don’t let them set you up with their perfect counters; flank them, hit them somewhere else, build a bunker in a direction you can’t capture now and head somewhere else, ect.

The key to playing early game Allied is to not let the German define the battlefield. Many maps have specific choke points that are vital. Get beat up too quickly and let a savvy German player take these choke points (many of which aren’t necessarily around Capture Points but bridges and certain buildings), and the Allied player is DEAD, as it takes a LOT of work for an allied player to dig out an entrenched German. And after 10 minutes, the German will have such an economic advantage, it’s nearly impossible. So what this means, in principle, is stay in open ground and away from heavily urban areas where German MG squads set up and make difficult to root out kill zones.

Past that, i generally used air-dropped AT guns and upgraded half-tracks to victory. Air-dropped AT guns are 2x as effective, not only because you don’t need any prerequisite buildigns, but because you can one at any angle, anywhere, behind his troops and tanks. I also liked the ammo crates for the resources and that, if you pick up the heavy weapons with an infantry squad, it only costs 65-ish manpower to get a MG or mortar squad. However some of the better German players that micro their units can easily beat this; maybe 1-in-7 or so could, but the scary German players are very scary. The Ostwind is just stupidly powerful, and will kill everything the Allies owned not named “Sherman Tank”.

The limiting allied resource is fuel. Allies are much more strapped for fuel than the Germans oddly enough. Don’t waste fuel on sticky bombs and BAR upgrades unless you’re in a comfortable position and want to cement your victory; save it for half-tracks ect.

1v1 matches differ greatly from 2v2 matches and 3v3 matches.

It depends on what you’re asking.

Also, the really great thing about CoH, YMMV, is that a lot of the tactics and strategies are map specific. Knowing the map you’re about to play and where the best positions to place your MGs, snipers, roadblocks, AT guns is really key to winning.

Early game strategies are thus based on what map you’re on and which position you started in.

That being said; I like playing Axis and I usually start off building the barracks. The first engineer out helps finish the barracks before the 2 of them go barreling off to capture points.

Then it really depends.

If it’s an open map without a lot of buildings, I’ll build a grenadier, followed by an MG, while I go stake out a good bunker position with an engineer.

It it’s a closed map with buildings, that it’s an MG before the grenadier and I can save on the bunker cost.

One sniper can wipe out an MG nest. If a player is going hard on MGs they probably don’t have good anti-sniper capabilities.

However, the Allies have 3 man engineer squads which means they are in good shape to win any very early battles for territory. Which means they should be able to afford BOTH buildings quickly (and they’ll need both). Also, the Allies do NOT have to build HQ levels, that the Germans do. All the Allies have to build is the supply yard. So it equalizes very quickly. Generally, an Allied player will hold more territory at the start of the game, all other things being equal.

StuGs are no longer cheap nor particularly effective. Allied infantry with sticky bombs can kill StuGs easily, especially if they aren’t upgraded (unupgraded StuGs have almost zero anti-infantry capability).

1 AT gun will die to a flanking Ostwind, but it will tear the Ostwind apart. 2 AT guns supporting each other will destroy the Ostwind before it can flank. A good Axis player will pair an Ostwind with a heavy tank (Panther or Tiger) which does make a very fearsome combo. But to kill a solo Ostwind, 1 Sherman or 2 AT guns will do it. Failing that, suicide your infantry with sticky bombs - infantry will die in the process, but they probably would have died anyway if you’re in that situation.

This isn’t correct. You need sticky bombs. It gives your infantry anti-armor capability. I have killed Tigers with sticky bombs. Infantry squads with sticky bombs are very infuriating anti-tank weapons because most tanks can’t kill them fast enough. BARs aren’t as critical. Allies generally are gated by munitions, not fuel. But if you have a lot of ANYTHING, you’re doing something wrong. Ideally, you should have zero resources at all times. :)

Some Axis tips -

Always buy veterancy. At a minimum - 1 level for your infantry (gives them basic regeneration) and 2 levels for your tanks (gives most tanks anti-infantry hull-mounted MGs). 3-level elite tanks are hot death on wheels. But expensive hot death.

Grenadiers aren’t as good as Volksgrenadiers with MP40 upgrades. Stormtroopers are better than either but you can only get those through the Blitzkrieg tree.

I suck at Defensive, so have no tips for that. On Blitzkrieg, the killer combo is Tiger - Resource Blitz - Tiger. Two tigers are hard to beat, especially if supported. On Terror, you’re going to be more dependent on artillery strikes since you can only get one tiger. If you have lots of resources (like, 800) a very sneaky thing to do is to sneak a sniper with suppressed fire into an enemy base, and fire 2 V2 shots in succession. You will destroy the base.

Some Allied tips -

Do not underestimate your infantry. They are the core of your army. With grenades, they are infantry killers. With sticky bombs, they are tank killers. Supported by halftracks (who can reinforce in the field) and they are very hard to kill off.

Infantry gives you Rangers (probably the best infantry in the game) and the Howitzer (gives you free artillery strikes that can fire halfway across the map into unexposed areas). Kind of the meh tree, but some people think they can win the game with just Rangers (usually they are proven wrong).

Armor gives you Pershings (almost as good as Tigers, but not quite), Calliopes (mobile artillery - recently nerfed, so all they can do is rocket fire, but at least the rocket fire is free now), and most importantly, RAID. Raid will let you seize territory with armored cars, jeeps, and halftracks. This means you can really ruin the day of enemies that haven’t capped every point on the map. Even better, you force them to spend valuable manpower to do just that.

Paratroops give you two nice trees - paratroops (really, really good infantry that can Fire Up and storm through supressive fire - great MG killers), airdropped AT guns (drop them where you need to set up ambushes) and air strikes. Generally against Axis, you probably will be dropping a LOT of AT guns.

Tips for everyone:

Never send armor solo. Always send two or more. One tank will die easily.

The game is won by who has the most resources to spend. The VP total is secondary. If you don’t hold more than half the map, you are losing.

If your opponent has a defensive line set up, don’t just send people into it piecemeal. Probe it, pull back, figure out its weakness, then hit it. MGs can’t do anything to tanks. Bunkers die quickly to mortars. Tigers/Pershings ignore tank traps. For every defense, there is an overwhelming offense.

Your opponent can’t be everywhere, so when eating territory go where he isn’t. If he’s garrisoning territory, go elsewhere.

AT guns have the longest range of almost every weapon in the game. They will always outrange tanks. If you have a long road leading into your base, park 2 AT guns (in COH 2 is always better than 1) to cover it. AT guns shine at long range. At short ranges they can be flanked and killed, but at long range they will ALWAYS kill a tank.

If the MG is inside a building, you need mortars, a sniper or your own MG squad in heavy cover. MG in open terrain can usually be flanked by a jeep. The jeep seems to damage the MG squad quite slowly, but it will force them to move sooner or later. All in all, snipers are IMHO the best early game counter to MGs, but also the most expensive.

At the moment it seems to me that the allies are usually better off starting with the weapons support building instead of barracks. The exception is if the enemy goes early sniper (which you don’t unfortunately know until it’s too late), then you really need that jeep. If you don’t have a barracks up when your troops start to get sniped, the second best option is to try to snipe the sniper.

This thread is making me want to play lots of Company of Heroes. If CoH had half as many games going as WC3 still does, I would never need any other game. It is that good.

In 1v1, the weapons support center is usually not built, so you need to be able to counter mg42s with your barracks units. The best counter to early machine guns is really just to avoid them. Go cap all the other parts of the map that aren’t covered. Remember that each mg42 squad is one fewer volks squad to contest the rest of the map.

If the mg42 is in the open, flank with rifles or jeeps. You can take out mg42s in buildings with either grenades or flame engineers. You need to learn to distract the mg42 on one side of the building with a suppressed rifle sqad (preferrably in cover), while your other rifles or engineers approaching from another direction and blow or burn them out.

A bit later in the game, you can build a motor pool and take them out with the m8 armored car. The upgraded halftrack can do it too, but it takes a lot longer.

I REALLY don’t like going weapons support first, because it ends up being a sniper-duel crapshoot. If your sniper dies, your screwed. If his dies, he can still make Motorcycles and kill your unescorted sniper.

One cool thing is that if your closing with a German MG squad, with an Infantry squad, and he’s going to reach a building before you can stop him, don’t retreat but move foward, until your flush against the buildings’ walls. You’ll be safe against his MG fire that close, and you can slowly peck him to death with rifles, or flush him out with grenades. Kind of cool.

Volksgrenadiers are better than Grenadiers sort of :). Grenadiers can be upgraded to have both a mobile MG and a MP40, so they are more flexible. They’re still basically a defensive unit, but if they get flanked they’re not instantly dead like an MG squad generally is.

Oh yea, i forgot about the M8 armored car. That’s my first vehicle i build in almost all situations. I forgot what it was called though :).

The most forlorn Allied unit is the Tank Destroyer. I’ve hardly ever used them, nor seen them used properly. Maybe someone has some ideas or seen them become effective? That’s alot of Gas for such a one-dimentional, and vulnerable, unit.

2on2+ matches suck in CoH though, that’s my big grouse. Vehicles are simply overpowering most of the time, and in 2on2+ games, Vehicles completely dominate, with infantry just sort of poking around the edges. CoH is essentially a 1on1 game, imo. It’s balance starts to break down with multiple players. 3on3 games are not much more sophisticated than your average Command and Conquer match.

Oh, i basically stopped using sticky bombs. I found the casualties too high, and the upgrade too expensive, to be reliable. With gas at such a premium, i always prefered getting an Armored Car out first to route open infantry, and then moving on to AT guns ASAP. Sometimes, if your opponent is slow, you can skip that step and go straight to Shermans, but usually that will get you killed. Oh, yea, i forgot about the other problem with sticky bombs; they cost alot of munitions per kill. Way more than the AP round power for the AT guns. You can deplete your munitions pool really fast if you’re depending on sticky bombs.

One thing to remember about the Allies is that they incure manpower support costs higher than the Germans because they have larger squads. 6 Infantry squads with sticky bombs sounds cost effective until you see it’s knocked your manpower income down to below 200. You have to buy gas-expensive support upgrades to ameliorate this cost. And gas is always in short supply…

I think infantry and stick bombs are map dependant. Can you hide behind buildings and attack a tank from 2 directions? If so, then sticky bombs are amazing against tanks. If you’re out in the open, and have to charge a tank that can easily retreat, then stick bombs aren’t so good.

As another poster said, CoH strategy is very map dependant. Tanks aren’t so hot when you’re in the middle of a city, and infantry really need to have some cover to be most effective.

I’m not expert here (I get beat as much as I win), but with Allied I like going support building first. Build a MG group first, followed by a sniper. Take that MG group and an engineer to the nearest big gas point (gas the key to this method, imho) and hold it. No matter what the Axis built, you should be able to hold it for a little bit, if you don’t let them flank the MG guys. If they do get the flank and are winning, retreat them, rebuild them, and send them back out with the sniper. The MG and sniper together are gods for the start of the game, IF they are setup not moving.

While you’re battling for that point, have at least one other engineer team capping points on the other side of the map. Your goal is to get to light vehicles as fast as possible. You push for that, get your AT, followed by a tank killer or two. Hold choke points with them. Then build to tanks as fast as possible.

I’ll often do this with the Infantry focus and bring in Rangers as fast as possible. They are love, if micromanaged.

The biggest problem I’ve found with this setup is that if you lose that first battle and lose your MG, you’re WAY behind. The Axis will get entrenched and you’ll have lost that first Gas point for at least awhile.

Also, you want to get to that arty strike that costs 200 munitions. It’s an absolute gift since most everything else you do is gas related in this setup.

And don’t undervalue the MG nest the Allies can build. If you build it near that first Gas spot and you’ve got your sniper near by, it’s going to be really hard to take down before vehicles become the norm.

They got one nice buff in the latest patch - they are FAST. They can flank like a mother now.

Tank destroyers are best used in groups. They’re nice as a rapid-response force since they’re fast, and they don’t eat up as much supply as the slower (but more powerful) Shermans.

While it can be tempting to push straight for tanks, don’t neglect the armored cars (especially as Axis). An armored car or two will tie up an opponent for precious minutes while you finish putting up those tank traps/wire combos, etc.

I dunno how well this works in general, but pairing engineers together in the later part of the early-game can be quite effective for dealing with solo roving enemy engineers, especially when contesting those mid-map points. However, be careful as they still aren’t a match for rifles/volks.

  • Alan

Are HMG’s in buildings still able to fire out of any window without any delay in firing? I haven’t played since the last patch but it made it hard for jeeps or cycles to kill them.

This is not exactly true. Some building have blind spots that you can stand in and not be suppressed by the mg42, but most don’t. You can tell by checking where the windows on the building are, but it’s really something you have to learn about each map. (As has been said before, COH is extremely map dependent, which really helps to keep the game fresh.) If a building doesn’t have a blind spot, you will get suppressed even if you stand next to it. Howeveer, you can out micro the mg42 by dancing around the building. The mg42 has to be moved from window to window as you dance around the building, so as long as you keep it up he’ll never have time to finish setting up and fire at you before you’ve moved to another side of the building.

Stickies aren’t really meant to destroy vehicles. As you said, they aren’t cost effective. But they almost always do engine damage, so they are actually one of the best tools in your allies arsenal. Once you blow the engine, vehicles are easy targets for your AT guns or armor, etc.

Does anyone have any tips for using mortars ? I never used them when I still played.

You are the first person I’ve ever seen suggest that having a game be map dependent (as in, on memorizing tricks about pre-made maps) keeps the game fresh.

Just a curious statement.

It better than memorizing general tricks that work on every map.

Having several map dependent strategies, and then having several maps helps open the game up. It isn’t really the routine strategic boredom you think it is.

I always found mortars hard to deploy. They’re one of those odd units that are really nice to have, but hard to support and justify. Early in the game, this “pure” support unit will make you much less flexible. Later in the game, they seem far too slow and vulerable in a hot firefight.

There are situations when they really come in handy but it’s generally against an entrenched opponent that is not a “fast” teching enemy, or one with a deliberate plan to delay your advance.