Saturday, March 28, 2009

CoH - An analysis of the Four Knights Opening US vs Wehr

Engineer 2: 140MP
Rifle 1: 270MP
Rifle 2: 270 MP
Rifle 3: 270 MP
Rifle 4: 270 MP

A pretty standard US start, going solid on the barracks units. Getting 4 rifles helps with the capping power early game, though swapping Rifle 1 with Jeep 1 confers a few things:
- Intel
- Jeep utility moves such as the Jeep push (with requisite micro)
- Sniper hard counter
- Unsuppressable unit for flanking

At the cost of:
- Firepower
- Capping power
- Health

Only recommended if you know how to get the most out of the Jeep push and early harassment to force capping pioneers to retreat. Do not engage Volksgrenadiers without rifle support (since such a matchup depends a fair bit on cover, which Jeep push solves and hence can tilt engagement in favour of rifles). Buying more than 1 Jeep is generally not recommended since Panzerfausts and any AT obsolete them later.

Grenades help during flanking maneuvers, especially against the almost inevitable MG42 the typical Wehrmacht player will use as his centrepiece. Of course, there should be sufficient units with which to flank with, hence the rationale for getting grenades after Rifle 3. Munitions may or may not be in short supply at this point, depending on whether an engineer has been upgraded with a flamer or not, or if mines have been built. BARs will likely make unsupported Volks obsolete, except maybe MP40 volks at short range.

In any case, this build order goes up against the following:

Pioneer 2: 120MP
[Wehrmacht Quarters}
Volksgrenadiers 1: 280MP
MG42 1: 260MP
Volksgrenadiers 2: 280MP
MG42 2/Sniper 1/Bike 1: 260/340/180MP

Volksgrenadiers 3: 280MP

The typical Wehrmacht opening is very much more variable simply because of the sheer diversity of units which can be built from T1. While the US start depends heavily on flanking with Riflemen, the Wehrmacht T1 can afford to use specialized units to open their game. The MG42 will likely be the focal point of all flanking efforts at this point, which is why the build order has 3 Volksgrenadiers queued; these should be kept in the vicinity of the MG in order to inflict heavy damage on any flanking or grenading riflemen. The MP40 comes in handy for this role, especially with the 2.400 buff. In addition, having a higher number of Volks around lets you recrew the MG if it dies (only do this after the engagement is over, but if possible, do not let it fall into US hands). Focus fire on any flame engineers, or use a sniper if you have one.

The main objective for these two openings will usually be:
US: Push Wehr off the map
Wehr: Inflict losses while holding on to territory

The US objective really is a reaction to the Wehrmacht one. Because of the immobile nature of MGs, it favours the Wehr player to start capping and fight when the Riflemen are encountered, where the MG is subsequently deployed in the Fog of war and sprung upon the US player. Thus the US player retreats, and the Wehr player moves on. This is a more conservative playstyle which usually ends up in the Wehr player stopping at a good part of the map where a medic bunker can be set up and the MG put inside. Hence, it is the US player's ideal objective to be able to keep this bunker from happening; to do that, the US player must push the Wehr player off with a good flank. Bearing in mind that Riflemen have a higher cap rate than Volks and Pioneers, consistently getting pushed off the map (and hence losing map control) is a bad thing for the Wehrmacht player.

On the other hand, while it is in a way easier for the Wehr player to play defensively and with a greater diversity of tools, the US player can afford to be pushed off a couple of times before the bunker goes up and the game becomes hard to dominate at this stage. Also, while putting the MG out of the equation is a main objective, do not forget the Volks, since they are the real damage dealer. Any Wehr player worth his salt should support his MG with Volks around it or around the building it's in. In order to avoid the Volks, a diversion is usually necessary, which involves letting one of your rifle squads get suppressed by the MG42. Then, immediately after that rifle squad gets suppressed (cover is a must for slowing damage taken), take the rest and flank around, putting them into pieces of cover around the MG; a flame engineer and grenade works here too. MG42s in buildings cannot re-target, which means it will keep shooting at the baiting rifle squad until the rifleman dies or retreats, or until the MG42 gets out of the building. It's usually safe to flank it from at least 3 directions.

Still, the US player should try to end said engagement quickly, because, assuming that 3 rifles have been built, and are up against 2 Volks and an MG, chances are a 2nd MG, Bike or maybe sniper is on the way, the timely appearance of which could upset your attack. Therefore throw as many useful units as possible into the fight, such as engineers which can be upgraded with flamers. Even the Jeep can contribute: Given sufficient micro skill, you can Jeep push the Volks around, causing their damage output to drop drastically, and which gives your rifle squads or flame engineers the window of opportunity to run in and kill the MG without taking too much damage. Should the MG be nulified in this way, the superior close range firepower of the riflemen should kill the Volks too (especially if the Volks are still being pushed around). Of course, the Wehr player won't stick around to get killed; at most to stall if he has sufficient Volks left to put up a good fight (which is where grenades and grenade techniques come in handy). In any case, by taking out the MG without too many losses, the US player will achieve his objective, which should be followed by capping in that window of opportunity (until the next attack or harassment).

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