Suppression is an effect that afflicts infantry while they're being fired at, mostly by anti-infantry weapons like Machine-Guns. A suppressed unit receives a lot of uncomfortable penalties to its movement speed and firing accuracy, reducing its combat effectiveness. Further fire from "suppressive" weapons can cause the unit to get "Pinned-Down", in which case it becomes almost totally immobile and worthless in combat. Several abilities can negate or reduce these effects, but a unit left suppressed in a battlefield for more than a few moments will surely get destroyed.
General Concept Edit
In modern infantry combat, most of the bullets fired do not hit the enemy - that's a given fact. Soldiers take cover, fight at long distances, and in the heat of battle sometimes can't even see the enemy clearly. Fully-Automatic weapons, like Machine-Guns, are designed to spew out even more bullets - but even then that's just more bullets missing the target, at least most of the time.
However, even when you miss your target, your bullets still carry some effect: they scare the enemy, dissuading them from leaving cover, afraid that this hail of bullets is going to kill them. It's a basic human instinct, and even the most well-trained soldiers can have trouble fighting the urge to keep themselves from getting killed. And they're right, because a target without protection will quickly be mowed down by all those bullets flying about.
This effect is called "Suppression", and is an integral concept in all modern infantry warfare. An infantry unit is trained to use suppression to keep the enemy held in place and afraid to peek out of cover, while a few soldiers move around to flank the enemy and kill them. There are several names for this tactic, often called "Fire and Maneuver", but whatever you call it, it's extremely important in any infantry battle (and often for armored engagements too).
In the Game Edit
Company of Heroes has a system that emulates the way suppression works in real life. Incoming rapid fire, such as from Machine-Guns, and explosive weapons, such as mortar rounds, can cause an entire infantry unit to react with instinctive fear, sending them running for cover and far less effective at returning fire on their attackers. This gives the attackers a great advantage, and if they keep the fire up they might even be able to turn the attacked infantrymen into quivering, cowering lumps of flesh.
If the Suppressed infantry are in the open, with no cover to be found, the attacker can keep showering them with bullets in an attempt to kill them all while they're exposed. If the Suppressed infantry have rushed to seek cover, the attacker can now execute a flanking maneuver and wipe them out.
The Suppressed unit has only a few options at that stage, since just sitting there and firing back (if they can at all) is pointless. Retreat is a viable option, but concedes the fight. There are several abilities and maneuvers that can help, but by far the best solution is to use other units to kill whomever is suppressing you. The worst response, of course, would be to just sit still and do nothing - especially if nearby cover cannot be found quickly.
Stages of Suppression EditIn the game, a unit of infantry can go through three different "Suppression" modes when coming under heavy fire:
- Not Suppressed: This is where the unit begins, at the start of the encounter with the enemy. At this stage they are still at full efficiency, unafraid, and ready to meet the enemy.
- Suppressed: The unit has reacted badly to incoming enemy fire. The soldiers will seek nearby cover, stay close to the ground, and are less accurate with their weapons.
- Pinned-Down: The unit is fighting for its life against seemingly impossible odds. They've abandoned the will to advance, will not move at all or at best crawl to cover, and will not be able to hit the broad side of a barn if they tried.
Movement between these stages is fluid, and depends on many factors. In basis, all you need to understand is that the Suppressing Weapon (i.e. the heavy gun firing at the unit) inflicts "Suppression Points" on the infantry. The more it fires, the more Suppression Points it inflicts. When the number of accumulated points reach a certain level, the Infantry unit will become "Suppressed". If they can't find cover quickly and the fire keeps coming, they'll eventually reach "Pinned-Down" mode.
There are several ways to move back "up" the stages. Most basically, it happens on its own once the fire stops - the unit will gradually calm down, going from "Pinned-Down" to "Suppressed" and finally "Not Suppressed". Of course, this won't happen if the enemy keeps firing at you. The only truly reliable way in that case would be to Retreat, with the unit running at full speed back to home base, abandoning its position and possibly even suffering casualties during the withdrawal.
Suppressed Mode Edit
- Imagine an infantry unit coming up against an MG Nest. As soon as the machine-gun (considered a very "Suppressive" weapon) opens fire at them, they will quickly begin to accumulate Suppression Points. As long as this fire keeps coming, suppression is going to build up, until the unit finally reaches "Suppressed" mode.
- The point where this occurs is clearly visible on the screen: The unit's icon begins to flash yellow, and you'll see your soldiers dropping to either crouched or prone stance. They are now suppressed, and the fear of being killed will instantly change their behavior. They'll keep their heads down, move much more slowly, and try to find the nearest piece of cover to hide behind; and if that's not found, they'll just hit the floor and start crawling about.
- Needless to say, this does nothing good for the unit's performance. It'll have a hard time advancing at the enemy this way (and pointless; they'll get slaughtered!) and the soldiers can't shoot straight if they're too afraid to peek out of cover. Overall, the Suppressed unit is significantly less useful in combat, and would have a hard time killing its attacker or even getting out of there in one piece.
- Fortunately, as long as they stay behind cover, they're a lot less likely to actually get killed. But this leads to a stalemate, and with more bullets incoming, the cover will be destroyed eventually too. And if the unit can't find cover at all, their situation is going to get much worse.
Pinned-Down Mode Edit
- If a Suppressed Infantry unit can't do something ingenious quickly, or can't reach any good cover to hide behind, or simply tries to wait out the attack, incoming bullets will eventually turn fear into despair as the soldiers realize that they are probably going to get killed. At this point, the entire unit goes into a state called "Pinned-Down".
- At this stage, the unit's icon will begin flashing in red to let you know the situation is dire. If the Pinned Down soldiers have found some cover, this is where they'll stay, cowering hopelessly and incapable of doing anything else. Worse yet, if they haven't found any real cover yet, they'll probably just lie prone on the ground, doing absolutely nothing, or crawling agonizingly slowly and carefully towards whatever could be considered even light cover. As a result, the unit almost entirely stops moving or firing (maybe a few wild shots here and there, but this is tantamount to nothing at all). Nothing short of a full-blown retreat will save them now—or the immediate intervention of a supporting unit.
Cover MechanicsEditAs mentioned several times above, a Suppressed soldier's first priority is to seek cover. While this may not be the smartest thing to do, remember that Suppression is a gut-reaction, the soldier is just trying to stay alive. If the soldier does manage to reach cover, that's obviously a good thing (or at least better than getting caught out in the open...). Behind cover, especially solid cover, the soldier can gather his wits and start thinking about ways to get out of this mess. This is extremely important.
Cover protects soldiers from damage, and the heavier the cover, the better. But cover also works nicely into Suppression, because once behind cover, the soldier gets some resistance to further suppressive fire. In other words, while behind good cover, the soldier accumulates far fewer Suppression Points, and in fact may begin shedding them off. If all its (surviving) soldiers are in cover, the unit can slowly begin to return from Pinned-Down to Suppressed mode, or possibly even all the way back to Not Suppressed.
Again, the heavier the cover, the better protection it gives from suppression fire:
- Light Cover is usually not good enough - it'll slow down the accumulation of suppression points, possibly preventing the unit from being Pinned-Down, but won't help the unit recover. Also, most Machine Guns and Mortars (the primary suppliers of steady suppression fire) will usually destroy Light Cover quite easily.
- Heavy Cover is considerably better, as it usually can't be destroyed by bullets. Behind this cover, a unit will usually shed off Suppression Points at a slow rate - unless the incoming fire is that heavy. Still, a unit in Heavy Cover is less likely to get wiped out - or at least not as quickly.
- Structural Cover inside buildings and other Garrisonable structures is easily the best cover against suppression: it actually "turns suppression off", so to speak. A unit inside a building is not vulnerable to suppression fire of any kind - and gains the benefit of being in a building, protected from whomever is firing at them and possibly having a height advantage to boot.
- Needless to say, when in No Cover or Negative Cover, soldiers accumulate suppression very quickly. Plus, they're basically unprotected from incoming fire to boot. It's by far the best reasons why you'll often see infantry automatically moving close to walls and fences as they cross the map: they'll need to dive for that cover if a Machine Gun suddenly appears!
Breaking Suppression Edit
When a unit becomes suppressed, it can no longer effectively fight. If it does nothing, there's a good chance that it will continue getting more and more suppressed, and eventually rendered useless or destroyed. Therefore, it is imperative to try and break the suppression by any means necessary.
There are several ways to go about this. The two most obvious methods are to either destroy the source of the suppression fire by any means, or simply to retreat your suppressed unit back to base. Less obvious ways include the use of special unit abilities designed to alleviate suppression.
Destroying the Source of Fire Edit
- The best (though usually most difficult) way to get a unit out of suppression is to destroy whomever is suppressing them. As soon as the suppression fire ends, the unit will slowly shed off its accumulated Suppression Points, slowly returning to normal effectiveness.
- Naturally, the suppressed unit is unlikely to be able to destroy its suppressor. It can barely move out of the way, and its return-fire is inaccurate, so you're going to rely on other measures for doing this.
- The most obvious way would be to flank the suppressor with another unit. While pouring suppressive fire on one unit, the enemy is vulnerable to flank attacks from another unit. This is especially true when the suppressor is an HMG squad, who would have to turn their weapon to engage anyone coming at them from the side.
- Attacks by vehicles are also quite useful, since vehicles cannot be suppressed at all. If infantry comes under suppressive fire, drive a vehicle in to take care of the source of fire.
- Another way to destroy the suppressing unit, at least if it is a heavy machine gun, are grenades. these work especially well with HMG teams because usually they are clustered together while operating the MG. A well placed pineapple or other grenade will likely wipe out the whole squad, therefore eliminating suppression.
- Artillery strikes against the suppressive unit usually work just as well. These are useful when the suppressing unit cannot be flanked. Even enemies in buildings are vulnerable to artillery.
- The easiest way I found out is to send a close and weak unit to be a decoy, while retreating the suppressed unit because some people are crazy and just want to eliminate a whole squads to waste the enemy's manpower and munitions. Once the suppressed unit is out of range of any enemies, retreat the weak unit (if it's infantry it's probably suppressed already) and reinforce it.
- The "Retreat" command will immediately break all suppression on an infantry unit. This is the most sure-fire way to prevent a unit from being destroyed by prolonged suppressive fire.
- Of course, this order sends the unit running back to base, and it cannot be given any other order until it reaches there. Also, as they retreat the soldiers are still vulnerable to attack by whichever unit(s) suppressed them. Although retreating soldiers are very difficult to kill (they get all sorts of bonuses to ensure this), they are still vulnerable infantrymen.
Special Abilities Edit
- Several infantry units, especially elite ones, have manually-activated abilities that enable them to resist suppression. The American Airborne Squads for example have their Fire Up ability, which will instantly remove all suppressive effects on the unit and reduce any further suppression they receive for a short period of time.
- Units with such abilities can rush straight into machine gun fire, or through a bombardment, without stopping to look for cover. If they can close in with the source of the fire, they might be able to take it out swiftly - possibly with a grenade or other additional abilities.
- Of course, this does not make them impervious to damage: breaking suppression simply ensures that the unit doesn't get stuck, freeing it to continue the fight. If you can't take care of the suppressive fire source it may still kill your men, and when the ability duration runs out it will suppress them anyway. Use these abilities only to make a swift move to a protected position from which you can fight better, or to quickly remove the threat of suppression by destroying its source.