Mouse or Keyboard? Why not both!
Generally, most people will play by using the mouse to do everything from giving orders to units to building combat assets and while during the early missions it won’t really affect your combat ability. However, later on when things start getting really intense, you’ll find it to be a bit too slow when you have to click everything to give orders. Thus, it’s a very good idea to learn the keyboard hotkeys for Company of Heroes simply because it will increase your efficiency in commanding your units.
For starters, learning that the F keys corresponds with certain buildings for quick access will help because instead of having to drag your mouse all the way back to base, this allows you to stay with an important battle while you select an asset from far away and tell them what to do without losing focus on your current situation.
Mini-Map and Tactical Map
The Mini-map and the Tactical map also will be your best friends. The mini-map is at the bottom left corner and it will help you quickly move the camera around to the hot zones and quickly assess the situation and decide accordingly as to what you need to do to ensure a victory.
The tactical map, however, is even more useful is that you’ll get a huge overhead view of the entire map that you can still direct units from. The tactical map is any tacticians dream because it gives you a feel for the whole situation at glance and deciding accordingly as to where you need to send reinforcements. You may not see all the action from this point of view but it certainly makes commanding a whole company quite a bit easier.
Always be Expanding
The way resources work in this game is that the more control points you control then the more resources will be flowing into your coffers. Thus, turtling up is not a good idea simply because your enemy will have more resources to throw at you in the long run. Expand your territory as much as you can but don’t stretch your forces out the point where you can’t defend key areas. No point in expanding if you can’t hold what you got.
Set up Forward Operating Bases Near the Front-lines
Usually a wise idea to set up a forward base of operations near the front-lines since reinforcing all the way from the main base can take quite a long time if the battle is taking place in the middle of the map. Choose a sturdy and defensible building and turn it into a forward barracks so your men can be supplied and reinforced out in the field.
Queuing up Orders
An effective commander is always thinking ahead and gives multiple orders to his subordinates and thus it should be no different in Company of Heroes. If you hold shift down you can queue up orders that the unit you are commanding will follow through with. An example early on would be when you send units out to capture points, instead of watching and waiting for them to finish capturing the point and then directing them to the next, you can shift-click all the control points that you want this particular squad to capture and then go off and manage other things. It also helps in making sure none of your units stay idle for long.
No worries if they run across enemies in the field because they will actively seek cover and destroy the enemy before continuing on with the queue although you should probably jump in and handle battles personally because that leads me to the next tip…
DON’T LET THE AI FIGHT YOUR BATTLES (This is IMPORTANT)You should micro any and all battles because sometimes the AI will not do the smartest of things like move your troops out of cover while a MG42 is raining bullets down on them. DON’T let this happen. More often than naught they’ll all get pinned and gunned down out in the open. Also, it’s a good rule of thumb to micro all your battles. Some of course will take more effort than others so judge a battle accordingly.
Don’t Forget about Unit Abilities!
Even a squad or two of riflemen can take down a tank, granted if you have enough munitions to use the sticky bombs. Don’t think for a second that because you’ve got infantry against armor units that you have no chance of winning. If you can get into the right position and micro the units abilities effectively, your can hold out for a long time or even win the battle.
Retreat is a Viable Option
There’s a time and a place to duke it out to the end but sometimes it’s smarter to hit the retreat button. If you know you’re fighting a losing battle and there are no reinforcements in sight and all your infantry is pinned own, make a tactical withdrawal. Sometimes it’s better to lose ground than to lose whole squads. No reason to get everyone killed in a hopeless battle.
A rifleman squad out in the open is going to get gunned down pretty fast so always, always, ALWAYS place you guys in cover. Green being the best, yellow being okay, but avoid red because you squads will take more damage than normal. The trick to playing this game well is to keep your units alive longer than the enemy because losing a lot of squads will result in a loss of a lot of the manpower resource can make winning a battle considerably harder.
Reinforce Squads, Don’t Build New Ones
Building a new squad of infantry takes up a bit of resources and manpower so it’s generally cheaper to reinforce squads that have taken casualties. If you have medic station, it’ll greatly help in recycling your troops. Medic centers essentially send out medics and pick up wounded soldiers off the battlefield and stockpiles them until a full squad is formed. Definitely worth the investment early on if you have a medic station near the front lines.
Whenever you are placing an AT gun squad or a machine gun squad, make sure their killzones are in the right direction. You do this by left clicking where you want them to go but instead of letting go of the left click you hold it down and a field-of-fire will appear. You waste precious time if your machine gunners or AT gun squads have to reorient themselves to face the enemy and by that time, it may already be too late. Directional deployment is important you’ll do well to remember that!
Avoid Garrisoning Riflemen Squads in Buildings
This tip is a bit counter-intuitive but it’s because it will lower the squads efficiency because of the 6 guys you garrisoned into a building only a few of them can fire out, while ALL of the surrounding enemies can fire at you. Machine guns and sniper teams are generally best to place in houses, though with the latter it’s more situational because when a sniper is garrisoned in a building, it shows.
Also, avoid wooden buildings if you can. Flamethrower units will burn down the house and everyone inside in no time.
Always Keep Your Armored Units Facing the Enemy
As the old adage goes, never turn your back to the enemy. This is all the more pertinent with armored units because they are the most protected in the front of the vehicle. You can reorient your armored units similarly to machine gun squads. Left-click and hold where you want the armor to go and an arrow will pop up showing which direction they’ll be facing.
Even if you have to retreat, never turn your back. Reverse the armor out of there with your front end always pointed towards the enemy using the click-and-hold method. Keep the move command close to the tank or else the AI path finding might turn your whole tank around and moon the enemy.
Roads Make your Armored Units Travel Faster. Use them Cautiously.
You may have noticed that when your vehicles travel on roads, they get an increase in speed. This is great if you need to reinforce an area fast with armor. However, be forewarned, the enemy may place a bunch of mines on the roads and set up an ambush to take out whatever comes back on the main roads.
Don’t Group Your Armored Units
While the idea of massing all your tanks into one group to roll over the enemy may seem awesome, it’s not the smartest thing to do. Mostly due in part to the fact that the AI pathfinding is horrendous at times but also because a well placed artillery strike, remote-controlled Goliath tank, or even a bunch of mines can decimate a whole tank column if you aren’t paying.
Keep Your Armor Alive
Your tanks are meant to survive the whole match because of the amount of resources needed to build one. Sacrifice other units if necessary to cover a tank’s retreat. Losing a tank isn’t impossible to recover from but it does sting quite a bit in terms of economy. On the flip-side, don’t treat them as fragile units. They can take a lot of punishment and deal out of a lot of punishment.
Just try not to let them blow up.
Provide Armor with Infantry Support
This is just tactically smart. Sending a lone tank into the battle will generally guarantee its death sentence. Have at least one rifleman squad and one engineering squad (preferably more) to back up the tank. The riflemen will be able to fluidly deal with other infantry and AT gun squads and the engineering squad is there to repair the tank and keep it in working order
Well that’s all the tips and tricks that I’ve got. Anyone else have any helpful bits of advice they’d like to share with fellow CoH players? Share them in the comments!