No matter how much you have played the campaign or skirmished against the AI in Company of Heroes 2, your first several multiplayer matches will be a jarring experience. Your knowledge of unit tactics will prove useful, but the pace of matches will seem frenetic and the unpredictable actions of a human opponent will surprise you. It will all come to make sense as you gain experience, but if you follow the tips below you’ll have a significant strategic advantage.
1. Be aggressive in capturing points and seizing control over key buildings.
New players often try to play carefully and conservatively. This is not the approach that will win you games, especially when you’re just starting off. In a match between two equally-skilled players, the one who is able to dictate the course of the battle and hold more of the map will be victorious. In Company of Heroes 2, this means forcing your opponent to fight on his side of the map and attack units of yours that are garrisoned in important buildings. As a new player, it’s far easier to defend a position than to attack one, and the more aggressive you are at the beginning of a match, the more defending you’ll be doing.
Imagine that you’re fighting a battle on the summer version of the Kholodny map as the player with the blue Headquarters in the bottom right. Where should you focus your attention at the beginning of the game? The points surrounding the #1 and #2 icons are close to your base and look like the obvious choices. You do want to capture these points, but you don’t want to fight for them. How might you do that? If you send units to capture points around the #3 icon, near your opponent’s base, you’ll provoke a response. If you continue to send units there and garrison the nearby buildings, you can fight battles on your opponent’s ground while you safely capture the rest of the map with only one or two units.
2. Don’t hoard resources. Spend them unless you’re saving for something specific.
It’s easy to forget to spend resources in the heat of battle, and you may not know how to spend them best, so you delay to avoid making a mistake. Holding onto resources is a larger mistake than spending them unwisely. Here are a few rules of thumb:
If you have excess Manpower, look to see whether you have at least one of each team weapon – heavy machine gun, mortar, and anti-tank gun. More than one can be good, but if you aren’t sure about what you need, build a versatile infantry squad like Conscripts or Grenadiers or an elite infantry squad like Panzergrenadiers, Shock Troops, or Guards Rifle Infantry.
If you have excess Munitions, use your Combat Engineers or Pioneers to lay mines in commonly used areas of the map. Upgrade weapons on your infantry squads, like the LMG42 for Grenadiers. Remember to use grenades and other unit abilities that cost munitions.
If you have excess Fuel, you’re not building as many vehicles as you should be, or you’re waiting to build a very expensive heavy tank. As a rule, it’s better to have multiple medium vehicles on the battlefield earlier in the game than to wait for a heavy tank. A heavy tank is not useful if you’re already far behind and the rest of your army is weakened or destroyed.
3. Construct a balanced force of units that complement each other.
You first need to build up an infantry force of three to four units and then begin adding on team weapons like heavy machine guns, mortars, and anti-tank guns. Later in the game, you’ll be spending most of your resources building tanks, artillery, and other vehicles, but don’t forget that infantry are required for capturing points and games are won by point control.
If you know exactly what units your opponent has, build specialized units that counter them. For example, tank destroyers to counter tanks, and heavy machine guns to counter basic infantry. Usually you won’t know what your opponent has or what he intends to build, so the safer choices will be versatile units. A T-34 can be effective against vehicles and infantry while an SU-85 is only effective against vehicles. Panzergrenadiers have the ability to engage any unit type, while an MG42 team can beat infantry, but it will lose to mortars, snipers, and vehicles.
4. Attack in multiple areas simultaneously.
The more you divide your opponent’s attention, the more mistakes he’ll make. Send a tank to attack from a flank while you move up your infantry for a frontal attack. Throw a grenade using an infantry squad while your target artillery at a different area of the map.
At the strategic level, sending units to capture points in multiple areas of the map will force your opponent to split up his army. Your army will be split up as well, but if you can design your army to be superior in isolated engagements, you’ll have the advantage. For example, if your opponent has a single anti-tank gun, split your vehicles into two groups and send them to areas far from each other – vehicles are faster than anti-tank guns, so you can reposition your units more easily once you know where the anti-tank gun is. If your opponent has a heavy tank, the same principle applies: you might not win a fight against it, but if you create three areas of conflict on the map, you can win in the other two areas because the heavy tank can’t be everywhere at once.
5. Capture an important area and defend it with a combined arms force.
The easiest locations to defend are usually the ones that are easiest to avoid. Don’t set up defenses right outside of your Headquarters. When you’re deciding where to set up defenses and position your units, be sure that the area is one that your opponent must attack.
Early in the game, Fuel Points are typically the most important. Later in the game, Victory Points are where a match will be won or lost. Choose an important location and send a group of team weapons to defend it – heavy machine gun, mortar, and anti-tank gun. Your basic infantry units and vehicles can be moved around easily to attack and defend other areas, but your team weapons will excel in a prepared position where the enemy comes to them.