Today we are showcasing one of the major features of Company of Heroes: Back to Basics 5.0; an overhaul of the Panzer Elite faction.
The Panzer Elite have ever since its introduction been quite a messy faction. Their core design revolves around mobile and vehicle orientated gameplay, with limited defensive options.
While the tech tree is open and non-linear, the overall base arsenal is cluttered with highly specific and unique vehicles that have little to no purpose in practice. In addition, their main infantry squads lack singular identity, often favoring the base panzergrenadier unit. The sheer abundance of impractical and highly situational light vehicles lead to repetitive army compositions that limit gameplay options and put heavy emphasis on highly specific and expensive units.
To summarise the issues:
- Main infantry lacking singular identity, and are essentially three of the same unit.
- Main infantry are cluttered with abilities, upgrades and roles they have to fulfil.
- Main infantry having to fulfil engineer tasks; constructing base structures and repairing vehicles and structures.
- Lack of proper suppression utility in the base arsenal.
- Overabundance of highly specific and impractical vehicles.
- Lack of versatile vehicles and tanks.
- Lack of basic defensive tools.
These issues combined result in an overall low diversity of possible strategies for the player, and a limited design space for us as mod developers. A specific issue that emerges is that the faction is built around specific shock units and having access to tech much sooner than other factions, which resulted in tendencies in army compositions that are hard to balance and play around. Furthermore, the main infantry unit of the faction served as an engineer unit, which in turn made the faction too flexible at the frontline.
This resulted in the faction could quickly put itself ahead and it was common to see it snowball massively into the mid and late game.
Core design changes
Our goal was to address all the aforementioned issues, increase the versatility and depth of the faction, while preserving certain unique features to keep the defining faction style intact.
We will present the general concepts and design choices we’ve made so far. Everything discussed is still subject to change as we are still in progress of testing and refining the upcoming mod release.
- Panzergrenadiers, Assault Grenadiers and Tank Busters are now three distinct and unique units.
- Split the role of ‘engineer unit’ away from the aforementioned units, into a new engineer unit: Panzerpioneers.
- Shifted around the entire tech tree to offer more diverse gameplay options.
- Removed or revised some of the light vehicles that were cluttering the base arsenal without providing any practical utility.
- Some technology upgrades have been removed and were instead incorporated into the base unit designs.
- Several new units were added to bolster army composition choices and increase the diversity of combat situations created when fighting with and against the faction.
- Implemented basic defensive tools into the base arsenal.
- Revised and enhanced Commander Trees that synergize with the redesigned faction and offer additional playstyles and interesting progression choices. These will be covered in a separate article.
The basic tech tree is presented below. Tech availability and progression is similar to the original design, having a non-linear progression towards late game tech.
T0 – Headquarters
Panzerpioneers (3) (270 mp)
A small but adaptable engineer unit equipped with Gewehr 43 rifles. Good for mid-long range combat while screened by other units. Panzerpioneers synergize well with backbone infantry, HMG’s and early game light vehicles. Can utilise Volley Fire to temporarily increase damage output at the cost of squad mobility. Can perform repairs to structures and vehicles, and when upgraded, throw Incendiary Grenades. Can be upgraded with a minesweeper to deal with minefields.
Panzerpioneers construct basic defensive structures as well as all base structures. Basic defensive structures include the Observation Post, MG42 Machine Gun Emplacement, Medic Station, Sandbags, Barbed Wire, and Roadblocks.
Kettenkrad (120 mp)
An unarmed but agile reconnaissance vehicle. While its primary function is capturing territory, the Kettenkrad can also deploy Mines and use Mark Target; marking enemy squads that will temporarily suffer from increased received accuracy and damage.
Additional utility is unlocked depending on which Commander Tree is chosen.
Defensive Operations (150 mp, 15 fuel)
Enables passive healing near base structures, as well as resupplying units by quickly recharging abilities.
Incendiary Grenades (150 mp, 15 fuel)
Unlock Incendiary Grenades for Panzerpioneers, Panzergrenadiers, Assault Grenadiers, Tank Busters, and Panzerfüsiliers.
T1 – Kampfgruppe Kompanie (180 mp, 15 fuel)
Panzergrenadiers (5) (320 mp)
The main 5 man infantry unit. Equipped with scoped (ZF-4) STG44 Assault Rifles, Panzergrenadiers are one of the most formidable backbone infantry squads in the game. Received an overall boost in squad survivability by gaining an extra squad member, and a cost increase to go with that.
Panzergrenadiers are a versatile force at any range, which can be further emphasised by upgrading the squad with an MG42 Light Machine Gun. To offset this versatility, all their utilities are locked behind various global upgrades, and have a long cooldown time once used. Additionally, Panzergrenadiers are vulnerable to vehicles, as the only anti-vehicle capabilities they have are anti-tank grenades. The revised Panzergrenadiers offer a dynamic which requires allied factions to stay at range or utilise brute force, which gives the overall Panzer Elite infantry dynamics a very different feeling compared to the Wehrmacht.
Sd.Kfz. 250 Halftrack (240 mp, 15 fuel)
The Sd.Kfz. 250 is an amalgamation of the Infantry Halftrack and Vampire Halftrack, offering utility and flexibility that synergise well with Panzergrenadiers.May capture territory with infantry loaded, and can Set-Up in friendly territory to offer a small reinforce radius. Its MG42 Light Machine Gun is also reasonably efficient at providing early game fire-support.
While the Sd.Kfz. 250 preserves all the functionality of the old Infantry Halftrack, it may also be upgraded to a Funkwagen, which grants the ability to call-in Observed Fire; a small off-map mortar barrage, or utilise Radio Interception to detect enemy units in the Fog of War and divert resource income from enemy sectors.
Sd.Kfz. 251 Supply Halftrack (220 mp, 15 fuel)
As an unarmed utility unit, the Supply Halftrack is what was formerly known as the Munitions Halftrack. In addition to being able to recharge infantry abilities, the Supply Halftrack will also slowly heal infantry that are out of combat. Furthermore, it may also be upgraded to a Pioneer Halftrack, granting the ability to repair vehicles.
Advanced Kampfgruppe Kompanie (100 mp, 40 fuel)
Reduce unit upkeep costs by 10%.
Anti-Tank Grenades (100 mp, 15 fuel)
Unlock Anti-Tank Grenades for Panzerpioneers, Panzergrenadiers, and Tank Busters.
T2 – Logistik Kompanie (180 mp, 15 fuel)
Assault Grenadiers (4) (340 mp)
Specialised assault infantry. Equipped with MP40 Sub-machine Guns, Assault Grenadiers are orientated around aggressive, close to medium ranged combat. This offensive role synergizes well with the suppressive capabilities of the MG42 Heavy Machine Gun Team, and fire-support from Panzerpioneers.
Assault Grenadiers come equipped with Panzerfausts by default, offering the flexibility to deal with vehicles right from the get-go. Can be upgraded with STG44 Assault Rifles for increased overall firepower. Additional utility may be unlocked in the form of Incendiary Grenades.
MG42 Heavy Machine Gun Team (4) (280 mp)
A typical Heavy Machine Gun Team, benefiting from an extra squad member. Great at dealing suppression and supporting advancing infantry. The MG42 is an efficient tool that can slow down infantry advances and flanking attacks, or support offensive endeavors.
Sd.Kfz. 250/7 Mortar Halftrack (240 mp, 20 fuel)
The Mortar Halftrack is a highly efficient platform that offers mobile indirect fire support. Besides the default mortar barrage, it can also barrage areas with smoke to screen units from fire, or use incendiary shells to flush out dug in infantry or set-up team weapons.
Level 1 Logistics (350 mp, 10 fuel)
Expand operations by increasing the maximum population cap by 20 population.
Level 2 Logistics (350 mp, 10 fuel)
Expand operations further by increasing the maximum population cap by an additional 20 population.
Group Zeal (150 mp, 30 fuel)
Train all infantry with Group Zeal, suffering from less penalties when near other squads.
T3 – Panzerjäger Kommand (220 mp, 40 fuel)
Tank Busters (3) (330 mp)
Specialised fire-support infantry that thrive at medium and long range combat. Equipped with Kar98k rifles and a Panzerschreck by default, Tank Busters synergise well with all infantry types the Panzer Elite can field.
Tank Busters offer a solid mid game counter to vehicles but can be vulnerable to infantry when exposed. They can, when upgraded, throw Incendiary Grenades and Anti-Tank Grenades.
Sd.Kfz. 222 Armored Car (250 mp, 25 fuel)
Alternative: Sd.Kfz. 250/9 Recon Halftrack (250 mp, 25 fuel)
The Armored Car and Recon Halftrack share the same role of providing efficient mobile fire support, featuring solid firepower through the fast firing 20 mm KwK 38 cannon and coaxial MG42 Light Machine Gun. This, paired with good mobility, permits quick relocation and response to flanking attacks. While somewhat sturdy against small arms fire, these vehicles are quickly torn apart by armor-piercing ammunition and anti-tank weaponry.
Where the Armored Car can utilize Overdrive; temporarily boosting its mobility, the Recon Halftrack may use Mark Target; marking enemy units that will temporarily suffer from increased received accuracy and damage.
Sd.Kfz. 251 “Stuka Zu Fuss” (260 mp, 35 fuel)
A mobile rocket artillery platform that is capable of providing effective long range indirect fire support. The “Stuka Zu Fuss” is an adequate tool to soften up defensive positions and vehicles.
Marder III (270 mp, 30 fuel)
Alternative: Nashorn (300 mp, 35 fuel)
The Marder III is essentially a mobile anti-tank gun, outfitted with the formidable 75 mm PaK 40 Anti-Tank Gun. Whilst somewhat efficient against infantry, the Marder is vulnerable to any form of anti-tank weapons and should be kept at long range. May utilise Lockdown for increased gun performance at the cost of mobility.
The Nashorn is to some extent the big brother of the Marder III, outfitted with the dreadful 88 mm PaK 43 Anti-Tank Gun. While packing a higher punch and better area of effect, the Nashorn also suffers from a slower reloading time, worse overall mobility, and higher cost.
Advanced Panzerjäger Kommand (100 mp, 20 fuel)
Unlocks the Sd.Kfz. 222 Armored Car/Sd.kfz. 250/9 Recon Halftrack, Sd.Kfz. 251 “Stuka Zu Fuss” and Marder III/Nashorn.
Veteran Sergeant (200 mp, 60 fuel)
Train all Panzerpioneers, Panzergrenadiers, Assault Grenadiers, Tank Busters, and Panzerfüsiliers with a Veteran Sergeant. Affected squads gain veterancy faster and receive a boost in overall combat efficiency.
T4 – Panzer Support Kommand (240 mp, 50 fuel)
Sd.Kfz. 250/10 Anti-Tank Halftrack (260 mp, 30 fuel)
The Light Anti-Tank Halftrack is a unique and capable platform that can toggle between two different firing modes in the form of Focused Firing. When focused firing is toggled ON, the gun gains a boost in accuracy at the cost of rate of fire; designed to be useful against infantry. Alternatively, with focused firing toggled OFF, the reload time is at maximum efficiency which is best suited for vehicle-to-vehicle combat.
Stielgranate 41 Shells may be utilised to inflict damage against targets where the standard shells would be insufficient.
Panzer IV Infantry Support Tank (410 mp, 70 fuel)
Alternative: Wirbelwind Flakpanzer (410 mp, 70 fuel)
Panzer IV Infantry Support Tank: A versatile platform outfitted with a short barrel 75 mm KwK 37 L/24 main gun that is capable of handling infantry and light vehicle threats with its High-Explosive ammunition. Can be upgraded with an MG42 Light Machine Gun for added firepower, and Schürzen (Armor Skirts) for added protection against infantry anti-tank weapons.
Wirbelwind Flakpanzer: Specialised medium tank that combines decent armor with the rapid firing 20 mm Flakvierling 38 gun. Capable of devastating suppressive fire, the gun is highly effective against infantry and soft targets, but inefficient against armored threats.
Hetzer (400 mp, 70 fuel)
Alternative: Panzer IV (420 mp, 80 fuel)
Hetzer: Tank Destroyer that combines good dynamics with thick frontal armor with a forward mounted 75 mm PaK 39 tank gun and a remote-controlled MG42 Light Machine Gun. Can be upgraded with a Binocular Telescope for increased view range.
Panzer IV: A flexible tank outfitted with the long barreled 75 mm KwK 39 L/48 tank gun, that is capable of adapting to any situation. Can be upgraded with an MG42 Light Machine Gun for added firepower, and Schürzen (Armor Skirts) for added protection against infantry anti-tank weapons.
Panther (580 mp, 140 fuel)
The Panther is a highly efficient machine that sports excellent overall dynamics with regards to mobility, survivability and firepower. The Panther can be upgraded with a Tank Commander and Schürzen (Armor Skirts).
Advanced Panzer Support Kommand (100 mp, 80 fuel)
Unlocks the Panzer IV Infantry Support Tank, Panzer IV, and Panther.
Thank you if you've gotten this far in the article! If we've piqued your interest, please consider joining our Discord.
This discord server is where we keep our on-going changelogs, and offers the opportunity to be in direct contact with us concerning the mod. The platform is also the entrance to gaining access to the Back to Basics 5.0 Sandbox.
AGameAnx and Celution