Ever wondered why Conscripts, Volksgrenadiers, and Infantry Section die so fast while Riflemen and Grenadiers are durable? Want to know why some units are only available in OKW and some only in Wehrmacht? Do you want to know how to efficiently use the faction you're using? Answer is here.
Complete Faction Guide
Before anything else, one must understand the battlefield situation is ever changing, and so no build order (Or actually anything in the game) will always be under the same conditions as before, and so don't expect anything and everything to ever be the same as before, and so one must follow the battlefield situation and condition it accordingly.
The game is basically wrapped like a rock-paper-scissors game, where one counters the other and is countered by another and is not effective at another, like how rock beats scissors yet is beaten by paper and is not effective against rock. To put that in perspective, MGs beats Infantry within range while beaten by Tanks and Mortars and is not effective against Light Vehicles as much as an AT gun or a Medium Tank is, while a Tank beats most stuff that can't really fight armor while is beaten by AT weapons and Tank Destroyers while is not effective against Fortifications as much as a Mortar or Artillery piece is.
So counter your enemy, and counter your counter!
Take This Like Playing Chess
Company of Heroes 2 is like playing Chess, a special kind of Chess for that matter.
In chess, you can follow some openings which you can follow and execute which can help you attain what you want faster. This guide is like that, where it helps you understand tricks that can help you get what you want faster, although like a Chess opening, getting what you want out doesn't mean you got what you need, sometimes you need that bishop out in position first but then your knight is blocking the way and now you need to sacrifice some turns to get it into position, and that basically means your opponent now has an initiative advantage in terms of getting one's strategy in place.
Putting that into the perspective of CoH2, this is where build orders gets situational, where your planned build order execution now has to adjust to the current battlefield situation. Although most build orders are meant to help you get what you need, sometimes an unusual selection of units can lead to very interesting setups that can tip the favor to that player. Like pushing a pawn from A2 to A4 on the first move, the white player can get a rook out so early that can help tip the favor to his advantage.
So don't be afraid to experiment! The meta build orders may be very powerful, but exploring alternatives can be as powerful as the meta with the addition of surprise to the enemy that forces them to counter what kind of weird tactic you're using.
Unit Generalized Definition of Terms
Let us take a few definition I might coin here for ease of discussing on what I'm trying to inform.
Basic Infantry - These are infantry that are very accessible and will provide the player basic necessities early game like capturing points and handling enemy infantry early game. They're pretty much the infantry you need to get most things done on what they can.
Below are the units it corresponds for each faction:
- Soviets - Combat Engineers.
- Wehrmacht - Pioneers.
- USF - Rear Echelon Squad.
- OKW - Sturmpioneers.
- UKF - Infantry Section.
Line Infantry - These are infantry you'll mostly use in the game almost all the time, as they can pretty much counter everything once properly equipped or well supported. They will face the brunt of the assault of the enemy and they're the brunt of your assault. Expect them to die a lot because of such, but their survival and utilities are vital to any combat scenario you'll face.
Below are the units it corresponds for each faction:
- Soviets - Conscript Squad.
- Wehrmacht - Grenadiers.
- USF - Riflemen Squad.
- OKW - Volksgrenadiers.
- UKF - Infantry Section.
Teched-up Infantry - As the name says so, these are infantry that you get as you get better tech. They require you to use fuel and time to unlock them, but they provide you better infantry that can provide more tactical opportunities that may help you in the game a lot.
Below are the units it corresponds for each faction:
- Soviets - Penal Battalion.
- Wehrmacht - Panzergrenadiers.
- USF - Lieutenants, Captains, Majors.
- OKW - Obersoldaten.
- UKF - Royal Engineers.
Specialized Infantry - They are infantry that provide unique tactical advantages that may help you in combat a lot when used efficiently, even be game changers during the early and mid game phases. They are mostly available by selecting certain commanders.
Below are most of the units it corresponds for each faction:
- Soviets - Guards Infantry, Shock Troops, Guards Airborne, Commisars, Partisans.
- Wehrmacht - Assault Grenadiers, Stormtroopers, Jaeger Command Squad, Artillery Officer Squad, Ostruppen.
- USF - Assault Engineers, Pathfinders, Paratroopers, Cavalry Riflemen.
- OKW - Panzerfusiliers, Jaeger Light Infantry, Sturmoffizier.
- UKF - Commandos, Field Recovery Engineers.
Basic Support Weapons - They are the most basic support weapons you can have that will help you in most situations. Although they are not the best, they can help you a lot when used properly and effectively.
They are basically your Mortars, AT guns, MGs, Mobile Artillery Units (this includes the Mortar Emplacement for the British).
Advanced Support Weapons - They are the best support weapons you can have, and they can deal so much against what they are meant to counter. Most of these however are only accessible by certain commanders and tech upgrade selections especially for the British, and they are very vulnerable to what counters them, but their effectiveness is unparalleled compared to their counterparts.
They are your Pak43s, 17-pounders, DShK HMGs, 120mm PM-38 Heavy Mortar, 40mm Bofors Emplacement, 105mm leFH18 Artillery, 152mm ML-20 Artillery, 203mm B-4 Artillery, Land Mattress, and other commander-only support units like the Sexton, Priest, and Calliope.
Specialization Vs Flexibility
Some Factions are better at specialized units, others rely on flexible units.
Before we proceed, I'll rank the Factions to how specialized or flexible their units are, with a corresponding range that can help show what they can possibly do.
The legend is as follows:
- 5 - Very Specialized.
- 4 - Specialized.
- 3 - Workable with either.
- 2 - Flexible.
- 1 - Very Flexible.
- Soviets: 3-5 (Generally Specialized)
- Wehrmacht: 2-4 (Somewhat Flexible)
- USF: 1-3 (Generally Flexible)
- OKW: 2-4 (Somewhat Specialized)
- UKF: 3-5 (Generally Specialized)
Now let us discuss what exactly being specialized or being flexible really mean.
To say a Faction is Specialized means their units are hard counters to what they are meant to counter while being effectively beaten against what counters them, and their flexible units are in that middle section where it's not very effective against what they're meant to counter while what counters them isn't really efficient at countering them, at least in the grand scale of things.
To say a Faction is Flexible means their units can handle anything they meet, but aren't hard counters to them. That also makes them able to resist their counters much more better than the rest, making them durable against even their own counters and last the fight longer than their counterparts when used efficiently. That brings them at the cost of their specialized units not very hard hitting or is much more vulnerable compared to their counterparts.
We'll discuss each faction on the next sections.
The Generally Specialized Soviets
Soviets are generally specialized.
This is especially true with the Soviets!
Take for example their Conscripts. It's their most flexible unit as it's their line infantry, it's not that effective compared to Grenadiers, Volksgrenadiers, or even when compared to Riflemen and Infantry Sections because Conscripts just die so fast while not able to deal as much damage, but if you look at it in the grand scale, reinforcing them is as cheap as 20 manpower compared to the other line infantry in the game. That's even better supported by their mid-late game upgrade of gaining a 7th man and decreasing their reinforcement cost to 17 manpower! In the grand scale of things, they are meant to lose a lot, but you suffer less Manpower Bleed compared to other factions, basically allowing you to recover losses better than other factions.
How about their Penal Battalions? They are amazing against infantry, but die so fast against units that are meant to kill infantry fast. Or take Shock Troops, they are insanely effective against any infantry in the game, but is easily countered by even a scout car or an HMG when the opponent use them effectively. SU-85s are deadly scary against even a Tiger when at range, but when flanked, it just die so fast. Or the famous T34-76, it's not the best against armor, decent against infantry, but losing them is technically fine because they're the most cheapest medium tank in the game, and with their ramming ability that people should really use more often, it's a total game changer that justifies losing them when you're able to ram a Panther and just let your SU-85s take pot shots at the stunned Panther and see it get massacred at range, all at the cost of a T34-76!
In the grand scale of things, Soviets are meant to suffer a lot, but when you're able to mitigate it properly and use your specialized units to their fullest efficiency, they are a force to be reckoned with.
The Somewhat Flexible Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht is somewhat flexible.
That is why they're one of the easiest factions to use!
Take your simple Grenadiers Squad. They're not the best line infantry, but it's decent against almost anything. It has an amazing rifle grenade which is effective against infantry, and they have the panzerfaust that makes them flexible enough against armor until they get proper support. They're not as powerful as the Riflemen Squad, nor against an Infantry Section when at cover, but they have enough abilities and upgrades that keeping them alive and giving them veterancy is enough to keep the enemy at bay while you wait for better units to take into action. They can also build bunkers, which just improves their flexibility. Being flexible, they are durable even against Anti-Infantry units when used effectively. And that's why it's so easy to use them, because it's the unit you need for almost anything, while being durable enough for people with slow reaction time to retreat and let them fight another day.
However, being only somewhat flexible, you still need better units to face against specific targets. Unlike Riflemen that can get Bazookas, Grenadiers can't get the Panzershreck upgrade naturally and therefore you need to get Panzergrenadiers for Panzershrecks when you're dealing against armor. Your Panzer IV isn't as amazing as the Sherman in terms of Anti-Infantry, but is enough to face against anything but an AT gun or a Tank Destroyer at range. MG42s do have the Incendiary AP rounds ability, which helps against light vehicles, but not as effective as the 50. cal HMG.
Being a flexible faction, their specialized units are not as amazing as the other specialized factions. Let's go first with the Elefant. Oh my god, it's so slow, a simple flanking maneuver will kill it, but when positioned well, it's amazingly good at its job. However, the Jagdtiger is far superior than the Elefant because the Jagdtiger has better armor, even a tad bit faster, so the poor Elefant, as specialized as it is, is just not the best compared to its counterparts. How about Stormtroopers? They're very scary when they have G43s, wiping squads faster than they're wiped, but when faced against anything Anti-Infantry, they die faster than Shock Troops or Sturmpioneers, making Stormtroopers very effective as a specialist but is very vulnerable against their counters. How about the Ostruppen? It's like, the weakest unit in the game as they die faster than Conscripts. Sure, their reinforcement cost is only 16 manpower and they cost only 200 manpower to deploy, yet such die so fast that people don't use them as much.
Generally, Wehrmacht is good at everything but amazing at a few things. They have enough flexibility to be good at everything, and their specialized units are not the best but is good enough to make a difference. And that's why it's the easiest faction to play.
The Generally Flexible USF
USF is generally flexible.
That makes them able to face anything at any given moment.
Take a Riflemen Squad. This 5-man squad is a force to be reckoned with. Equip it with Bazookas and you'll see a Tiger run away when 4 squads of this all equipped with Bazookas come chase it down. Equip it with BARs and you'll decimate any infantry as you charge the front with 4 squads all equipped with BARs. Equip it with the LMG, and a single squad can hold a defensive point with reasonable firepower. That's why they are very flexible. They can face anything, given they are equipped properly. A single Rifleman squad has enough firepower to assault or defend positions, and that's why they cost a hefty 280 manpower because of how powerful they are. They are the best line infantry in the game, and with proper upgrades and equipment, they will bring freedom to anything that goes in their way. That power, however, comes at a great price other than the 280 manpower cost. Upgrading them with special weapon upgrades decreases their potential damage against a specific target. Gaining Bazookas means better AT capability at the cost of decreasing Anti-Infantry capability. Gaining BARs means better Anti-Infantry capability at the cost of not improving AT capability. Gaining LMGs means better superior Anti-Infantry capability at the cost of reducing mobility since they can't fire the LMG while moving. They are indeed very flexible, but they must choose where to specialize which affects how they counter what they can in theory counter.
Let's go for the Sherman this time. By all means, the ability to change ammo type just made the Sherman basically flexible to anything it meets. Although it will definitely lose against a Panther, you can just decide to let it face against Infantry when needed by switching to HE shells then switch to AP shells to serve as a cannon fodder while your Jacksons attack enemy armor.
As a flexible faction, their specialized units are just not the best. Guards Airborne are better than Paratroopers, Shock Troops are better than Ranger, the Firefly or the SU-85 is just outright better than the Jackson, but what they lack in firepower is compensated by mobility. Their flexibility and their mobility means they can go anywhere at any given moment at any given time and be able to, if not able to defeat the enemy force, be at least able to repel it enough to force a retreat. Your forces are not the best nor the most powerful, but that's good enough to get things to be in your favor until the enemy makes too much mistakes which you can rapidly respond with an assault. This also comes at a cost. It takes quite a lot of time for the USF to get to the top tech. They are slow to build up, which means their flexibility will keep you stabilized until you get better units, just like playing Wehrmacht.
USF is basically a Jack-of-all-trades, master of none, flexible and mobile faction. Do not expect them to be very effective at a specific target, but they are best when responding to immediate threats at any areas in the map and can inflict enough to force a retreat until the enemy makes too much mistakes that gives the USF an opportunity to finally push the enemy out of the game, just like in real life!
The Somewhat Specialized OKW
OKW is somewhat specialized.
This is basically the opposite of Wehrmacht, but shares so much similarities.
Take your Volksgrenadiers Squad. They are very squishy compared to Grenadiers. They die faster and are generally weaker. However, keep them alive and they're tougher than a Vet3 Grenadiers. Equip them with STGs and suddenly they are an Infantry killing machine. Think of it like the Penal Battalions, they're so good against infantry yet die similarly as fast. And, just like the Grenadiers, has the flexibility to have panzerfaust and engage armor when necessary, albeit it's not effective compared to dedicated AT units. This is why the OKW is somewhat specialized. They are best when against what they are meant to face against, while gaining some flexibility like their Wehrmacht counterpart. It's like blending the Soviet tenacity with the Wehrmacht flexibility to make this powerful force that is good against what they're meant to fight while being able to counter against other targets when upgraded. This goes true with your Sturmpioneers as well. They will decimate infantry at close range while gaining the ability to be upgraded with a Panzershreck to deal with enemy armor. That's how flexible they are while still maintaining a reasonable specialization against specific targets. All of this has a cost, you have very expensive units. Even your Panzer IV is more expensive than the Wehrmacht variant, albeit it has armor skirts which slightly improves the armor of the unit.
Being a specialized faction, your flexible units are mediocre at best, which I just explained with the Volksgrenadiers being very squishy, but that also means your specialized units are a force to be reckoned with. The best example for this is the Sturmtiger. It's the best Anti-Infantry and Anti-Fortification unit at close range. It will wipe any infantry that large shell hits, and even against armor, it will do so much damage against the light to reasonably armored USF tanks on a direct hit. OKW wields the power of specialized units with some flexibility to face anything at the cost of their extremely high price, so every loss will count. Even losing Volksgrenadiers counts, since that means you just lost a unit that was progressing its way to its 5th Veterancy which will make that unit a beast. Fuel will be a very precious resource for you because of how expensive your tanks are, and since you cannot build any supply caches, there's no way to get more fuel other than capturing more points.
OKW is meant for players who has a clear intent indeed. They plan out specific procedures and work out details on the fly, since their specialized yet relatively flexible units are able to counter what the player expects to face against while being reasonable enough against other possible threats they might encounter. I'd say using OKW is one of the easiest to learn yet difficult to master kind of factions out there because of this kind of playstyle.
The Generally Specialized UKF
UKF is generally specialized.
Now why is this? They have special upgrades that allows them to choose what kind of tactic players wish to implement. That actually is why.
This goes into their basic infantry, the Infantry Section. It's a defensive unit in nature, where it gains a weapon fire rate as soon it's in cover, and it's designed to counter aggressive assault in nature. Whenever a Sturmpioneers unit charges to an Infantry Section in cover, the Sturmpioneer will suffer a lot of damage before it even reached the Infantry Section, and even if the Sturmpioneer forced the Infantry Section to retreat, they have received so much damage that an assault to their current position will decrease their survival and force a retreat. Add the Universal Carrier into the match, especially equipped with an MG upgrade, and you can see why the bane of OKW is UKF.
The UKF has a powerful defensive stance, their development is slow but their early game units are defensively specialized to counter Infantry, and that's also why Infantry section not in cover will lose to other line infantry because they are specially designed to be in cover as you slowly but surely secure territory. Add that with the Bofors and you have secured a point within 3 minutes of the match. That's how specialized they are at keeping a firm hold at a point. If ever you decide to go for the AEC, then you have the power to slowly push and gain more territory while able to counter most targets, since the AEC can even tackle a Panzer IV with enough skill. This kind of specification is unique to the UKF, and the counter to all of this is their extremely slow development stage. Simply getting a tank takes a lot of fuel and a lot of time, which is why their units are very specialized to counter their targets while taking advantage of their defensive nature to resist threats that counters them. This is why when you lose a unit, that's a big deal because it will take resources that will delay your development even further.
This is where special upgrades come into play extremely well. Going for Bofors means better defensive options at the cost of slowing your advance even more, while the AEC means better aggressive nature at the cost of a less defensive option. Going for Hammer Tactics means you get a boost in your aggressive nature at the cost of reducing your defensive nature, while going for Anvil Tactics means you get a very defensive boost whether attacking or defending, at the cost of slow assaults. I mean, just look at it, Comet plus the ability to track tanks that got hit a few seconds ago means you can then use that sneaky sniper of yours to drop red smoke to barrage the repair area for that tank, decreasing its usefulness later on, while the Churchill plus the extra upgrade for your Royal Engineers just means you got a tank that is invulnerable while having better engineers to support it, making your Firefly much more effective at picking that Panther trying to wreck your Churchill who's soaking up all the damage.
The UKF is defensively specialized in nature, they require to accept trade-offs that actually can help benefit a team. UKF is very team-oriented, works extremely effective with a team as they secure flanks and push slowly while the USF just maneuvers on the flanks of the enemy countering against the Soviets taking the meat grinder at the frontlines.
Alternative Option: Choose Ostruppen!
This works only for Wehrmacht!
So why Ostruppen? Why use trash infantry? Well, they're not trash when used wisely.
Ostruppen are the cheapest infantry in the game, with its reinforcement cost of only 16 manpower. 16 MANPOWER! That may be an overstatement, but no unit in the game is trash when used wisely. Giving Ostruppen an MG42 LMG while on cover basically makes them rapid firing low-damage snipers that will slowly damage the enemy while you use Pioneers to take the damage and you'll see how powerful they can be. At the same time, on attrition battles where nothing just seems to move because everyone has very powerful units, you can just send you Ostruppens to contest that Victory Point without suffering too much in terms of Manpower Bleed. The math says so.
Let's say you send 2 Ostruppens to a contested Victory Point, and they retreated back to base with only 1 member in each squad. We'll compare that to sending 2 Grenadiers and 2 Panzergrenadiers separately.
Ostruppen (cost 200 per unit to call/ 425 for the reserve option):
- 16 x 5 x 2 (because 5 more members for a full squad and you have 2 of them) = 160 Manpower for reinforcement.
- (200 x 2) + 160 = 560 Total Manpower Cost.
- (425) + 160 = 585 Total Manpower Cost (reserve option from Mobile Defense Doctrine).
Grenadiers (cost 240 per unit to call):
- 30 x 3 x 2 (because 3 more members for a full squad and you have 2 of them) = 180 Manpower for reinforcement.
- (240 x 2) + 180 = 660 Total Manpower Cost.
Panzergrenadiers (cost 340 per unit to call):
- 34 x 3 x 2 (because 3 more members for a full squad and you have 2 of them) = 204 Manpower for reinforcement.
- (340 x 2) + 204 = 884 Total Manpower Cost.
This is astonishing! Although you do get very squishy infantry dying so fast, for the cost of having much more cheaper units, you can cover a much more defensive stance with Ostruppens and hold out longer both economically and tactically with more units out in the field defending. Not only that, Ostruppens do have the chance to already be upgraded with an MG42 LMG upgrade! Ostruppens are defensive units, and so use them when fighting a war of attrition, and they'll do wonders. Probably not the suited playstyle since Wehrmacht units are meant to be durable, and having a very squishy defensive unit might not be of your taste, but this will work best when you are willing to make it work. So don't be afraid to use them lategame, they might just be the units you need to have more manpower than the enemy.
This overview to all the factions in the game is not the best, I'm not the best player in the game nor the best player at playing at each and every faction, I'm just a man who gave time researching on a game he played for more than 500 hours on just for the sake of fun, and here I am sharing my findings after the years that this game has been changing. I'd say the game is fairly balanced with some historical analysis and a few faction perks added into the fray. Sure, the game is very arcade in nature, but that's what makes the game fun anyway, it's why I wasted more than 500 hours to play this game because I find it fun, relatively balanced, and in general is just a good game that I'd recommend to anyone who'd want to play an RTS game.
This obviously didn't cover everything like proper build orders, since there are a lot of examples out there posted, or you can even work with a different tactic you'd make one yourself and just try out new stuff that will help you enjoy the game even more, something that people don't really seem to do much in this game because of its competitive nature.
Well then, I'm here willing to experiment and show that new things can be done! I did just blatantly stated that you should try to use Ostruppens much more often than necessary, not simply just for the weird fun of seeing if this weird plan actually will work, but because it's an alternative tactic I'd use that is fun to play with while in theory is still possible to win games with. They're not the best, of course, nothing beats the meta, but the fact that you can use superior cunning and planning to counter the meta is possible in the game to those who aren't prepared to react accordingly.
And so move that pawn from A2 to A4. It's a surprising move that not everyone are prepared to counter, but chess masters can.