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The United States of America (or, the Americans) is one of the two factions featured in Company of Heroes. As one of the Allies, it leads the invasion of Nazi-Occupied Europe on D-Day, alongside the British army. The Americans are a very balanced faction, equally capable of both defense and offense, but excelling in neither. They are the only faction to have its own single-player campaign in the original Company of Heroes.
The United States is one of the Allied factions in Company of Heroes. Their massive war machine fuels the invasion of Nazi-Occupied Europe, bringing with it enough fresh manpower and firepower to relieve the Wehrmacht of its earlier conquests.
American soldiers may not be the most experienced, but they are highly motivated and outnumber their enemy and enjoy the virtually endless supply of equipment, weapons and assets brought over the massive convoys traveling daily across the Atlantic Ocean. American soldiers also learn quickly, as they have the most potent veterancy bonuses in the game. The potent veterancy upgrades as well as actual equipment upgrades makes American infantry versatile, and superior to Axis variants in the late game.
The Americans field a rather limited variety of units, but nonetheless have at least one unit for any battlefield role. Thanks to their large number of fresh conscripts, American Infantry units are extremely cheap and easy to replace, thus forming the back-bone for their entire army. American Vehicles, though expensive, keep a very good balance between offensive firepower, mobility, and protection.
Overall, this faction combines good defense with good offense, concentrating on whichever is most important at the time. Of course this also means that they excel at neither option, but rather strive to find the right balance between them. Their Command Trees also refrain from putting too much emphasis on either of these options, resulting in a faction that can easily adapt to the changing situation on the battlefield.
In their single-player campaign, we follow the American army's Invasion of Normandy, as it struggles to establish a beach-head and later break out into the French mainland. Different American companies are portrayed, each assisting the invasion in its own fashion, from the infantrymen assaulting the beaches to the Airborne troops landing behind enemy lines, and finally the Armor Company making their break in-land. Additionally, the American Airborne Divisions play a significant role in Operation Market Garden, the Panzer Elite single-player campaign in Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts.
Basic Force Composition
The American army fields 12 different types of units, with 3 infantry squads, 3 heavy weapon teams, 3 vehicles and 3 tanks. In general, these units cover the entire spectrum of basic battlefield roles, giving the American army the ability to remain as versatile as possible, and specialize only when required. This is further augmented by a light-but-useful variety of Defensive Structures. Unfortunately, no unit is an expert at any specific role, which means that American units always need to work together to overwhelm the enemy, as they will often lose in one-on-one confrontations with similar Axis units.
American force build-up is very simplified and straightforward: Infantry are available en-masse in the early game, then they become supported by heavy weapons, then medium vehicles begin to arrive to provide a better mobile defense, and finally tanks enter the field to supply an armored punch. As a result, American tactics often change during the mid-game from relying on their Infantry-centric (mostly defensive) force to relying on stronger (mostly offensive) tank groups. The cost of American units also factors in strongly here, with infantry being remarkably cheap and expendable, while vehicles are expensive and difficult to replace.
The Americans have only two basic infantry squads, but these form the core of the entire American army for a large proportion of the battle. Cheap and expendable, they go into battle again and again, putting continuous pressure on the enemy.
- Engineer Squad: A non-combat 3-man unit armed with poor-quality SMGs. Builds Defensive Structures, conducts repairs, and can specialize in mine-clearing or demolitions.
- Riflemen Squad: A basic 6-man unit armed with long rifles. Very cheap to produce and reinforce, strong primarily due to its upgrades and size. With the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) Global Upgrade becomes a much more dangerous anti-infantry unit.
These two squads will often make up the bulk of American units through the early and mid-game, with other units created to support them during both offensive and defensive work.
Almost all American strategies revolve around Riflemen Squads leading into battle, and keeping an enemy force in place while other units destroy it. Engineer Squads, of course, build all American base structures and are in charge of putting up the defensive obstacle course that protects their territory.
Later on, Engineer Squads become important for maintaining the growing vehicle fleet. The Riflemen Squad lose some importance - though Veterancy and captured equipment can keep them useful alongside the tanks for a long time.
The American army relies on several support weapons to assist his core units during the early game. Most are carried by specialized infantry. There are 4 such infantry-operated weapons:
- M1917 Browning Heavy Machine Gun Team: A three-man squad operating a portable HMG. A deadly anti-infantry unit - with some anti-vehicle capabilities.
- M2 60mm Mortar Team: A three-man squad operating a portable Light Artillery. Good in shelling enemies from the distance, especially when other units hold them in place. Incapable of face-to-face combat though.
- Sniper: A lone infantryman with the ability to camouflage himself (disappear). Can kill an infantryman with one shot from a surprising distance, but more useful as an invisible scout.
- M1 57mm Anti Tank Gun: A respectable Long-Range Anti-Tank gun, used for ambushes and in support of infantry - as well as difficult to hit due to its low profile. Manned by a crew of 3.
These units have little combat value on their own, as they will be easily destroyed by any varied enemy force. In support of infantry or other units however, they can be a devastating addition of firepower.
The first three are produced by the Weapons Support Center, making them available rather early in the battle - again, to give aid to the Riflemen Squads and the Defensive Construction. The M1 57mm Anti Tank Gun is produced from the Motor Pool and thus will appear around mid-game - remaining useful for some time, especially in defensive operations.
- Jeep: A fast unarmored car, armed only with a light machine-gun. Its long sight-range and camouflage-detection abilities make it great for scouting and hunting snipers. Can also flank infantry quite well.
This fast attack car is an excellent scout, capable of "hit-and-run" reconnaissance inside enemy territory. Not really used as a weapon, so much as a tool. Also makes a great patrol vehicle for covering ground and looking out for enemy infiltrations.
The two American Medium Vehicles make their appearance during the mid game. They are used mostly as support weapons, to assist American infantry and later armor, or provide a strong mobile defense.
- M3 Halftrack: This Halftrack transports, escorts and reinforces Infantry in battle. It is a great boon to all infantry-based operations. With an upgrade, it becomes a fearsome light weapon that can mow down enemy squads easily.
- M8 Greyhound: This Armored Car is a fast vehicle-hunter, and a great flanker against tanks. Despite its armor it is quite vulnerable to enemy anti-tank weapons, but until they appear it can dominate anything smaller than itself. Also works well in packs. It can optionally be replaced by the T17 Armored Car, which is available as a reward.
Both vehicles are relatively cheap, and used primarily to support infantry or tanks during the mid and late game. They help deliver sudden strikes against the enemy. A main battlegroup supported by these two vehicles can last significantly longer in combat - if they are properly used.
The basic American company has access to three very different tanks, which make up its armored core:
- M4 Sherman: The main battle-tank, well-armored and reasonably-armed. American tank tactics revolve around this tank. Though sturdy, it is not meant to take the enemy on alone. Has several upgrades to improve its performance.
- M10 Tank Destroyer: A lighter, but not less-dangerous tank. Can easily flank and destroy enemy armor with its strong punch and good protection. Supports other tanks in anti-armor operations.
- M4 Crocodile Sherman: A flamethrower tank. Strong against infantry and exceptional against buildings, it can destroy targets under cover with ease. Often rides along with American infantry to root out enemy pockets and prepared positions. With an upgrade installed, can also clear heavy obstacles.
American tanks often operate together, in mixed groups (possibly with infantry) and assisted by Medium Vehicles. Though not as strong as some Axis tanks, they use cunning and speed to envelop and destroy the enemy. With an M4 Sherman at the front, the other tanks simply swoop into flanking positions. Enemies cannot last long against this smart application of force.
American defenses consist mostly of elaborate obstacle mazes. They create these at the entrances to their territory, delaying the enemy and receiving early warning before any attack.
- Barbed Wire: The most basic obstacle, blocking movement to all infantry. Gaps are often left in the fence, to lure enemies into a trap or a kill-zone. Enemy vehicles can drive straight through it, destroying the wire. Costs nothing.
- Tank Traps: An anti-vehicle obstacle. Only the heaviest vehicles can pass through this, though infantry move through unimpeded. Used to prevent an enemy vehicle from entering an area, or leading vehicles into mine-fields or kill-zones. Costs nothing.
- Sand Bags: Provides artificial Heavy Cover for infantry. Gives infantry a quick position to defend from in otherwise defenseless areas, while also blocking infantry and light vehicle movement. Tanks will pass through sandbags and destroy them. Costs nothing.
- Mines: A set of buried explosives that will detonate whenever an enemy unit passes over them - causing massive damage. Invisible to most enemy units, and will not be triggered by friendly troops. Costs munitions.
These obstacles are often used in unison, creating elaborate traps to lead the enemy into. Although they won't stop an enemy army cold (unless constructed very densely over a long period of time), the delay is often long enough to enable American mobile units to respond to any attack.
Finally, another Passive Defense that operates differently from the others:
- Observation Post: A sturdy structure placed on top of a Strategic Point. Protects said point from being captured, delaying enemy attack squads. Also increases production in the sector.
The Americans will strive to put one of these on any resource-producing sector, and any sector along the front lines. This has important benefits both to the American economy and the security of their territory.
The only non-mobile defensive weapon available to the American army is the Machine Gun Emplacement.
- Machine Gun Emplacement: A strong anti-infantry position, firing a machine-gun on approaching enemy troops. Can wipe out enemy infiltrators, and provides friendly infantry a place to hide. Can't stand up to an armored attack, however.
The Americans build Machine Gun Emplacements along their front lines, to protect against enemy infiltrators. A single emplacement can defeat large numbers of enemy foot soldiers, though it stands no chance against an armored vehicle.
This structure is often used in conjunction with obstacles, to create a kill-zone. While it fights the enemy, other units can respond to provide more firepower in its defense.
The Americans can build two other important support structures not listed above.
- Forward Barracks: A neutral building captured and converted by the American infantry, which serves as a reinforcement point as well as a forward production center.
- Medic Station: A tent that dispatches Medics to recover injured American Infantrymen. Once 6 have been recovered, will automatically create a new Riflemen Squad, free of charge.
While not absolutely necessary, both structures can provide useful assistance to American operations - particularly Infantry operations in the early and mid game. They mostly help keep the infantry force well-supplied and healthy, thus helping keep constant pressure on the enemy - or at least a constant defense force.
American units gain experience points during combat, when they kill enemy units. An American unit gains 100% of the experience value of its target, and passes none of it to other units. Therefore, all units must do combat in person in order to gain experience.
When enough experience has been collected by a unit, it goes up in Veterancy level - immediately receiving a set of bonuses. There are three Veterancy levels, and therefore three sets of bonuses to be won through combat experience.
The bonuses are pre-determined in the game files, tailored to augment a unit's performance based on its specific needs. Therefore, units of different types receive a different bonus at each level. For example, at each level, Riflemen Squads receive a slightly different bonus from Engineer Squads, because they have different needs; And the bonuses given to an M4 Sherman tank at each level are completely different from either of these. Each unit's article outlines its particular bonuses.
American units reaching Veterancy Level 3 are therefore quite dangerous - and very valuable. Even the normally-cheap Riflemen Squad, expected to die in combat often, become deadly with enough Veterancy and therefore worth keeping alive as long as possible.
Style and Strategy
When looked at in the simplest terms, the Americans use a very balanced mix between defensive and offensive capabilities. They can easily and smoothly shift between protecting their territory and launching attacks on the enemy. Most American units are suitable for either role, so even individual units can shift between offensive and defensive roles quickly during the battle, as necessary.
This flexibility is what makes the American army strong, and needs to be exercised often in order to win.
On the other hand, the American army excels at nothing. It has neither the heavy defenses of the British, nor the heavy firepower of the Axis companies. It can never rest safely behind fortifications - a mobile defensive force must be on-hand to take on any enemy that tries to steal American territory. While attacking, small gains by the Americans are usually the only possible way forward. Fortunately, American units can usually keep whatever they manage to seize, thanks again to their ability to switch from an offensive to a defensive role immediately after combat.
All American strategy is bound to a rather linear progression in unit production. The Americans must initially produce a sizeable Infantry force, which may sometimes be used well into the late game. Normally however, the infantry force will become supported by Medium Vehicles about halfway through the battle. Finally, tanks will enter the field, providing the required firepower to forcibly take chunks of territory from the enemy.
Although this progression is not absolutely fixed, the cost of American units helps to enforce it. Basic Infantry squads are dirt-cheap for this faction, and can produced in large quantities. Vehicles, especially tanks, are prohibitively costly in the first half ot the game - so even if they become available, they're not very affordable.
Nonetheless, flexibility with production, just as with tactics, can yield a lot of interesting ways to play this faction. Each of the sections below lists an alternate strategy that can be used when selecting a different line of advancement through the production tiers. These are usually more difficult to pull off, and require experience with the game - but can yield very powerful results.
The Land Grab
At the start of the battle, the American player has one Engineer Squad and the ability to make more at the American Headquarters Already, the American player is in a serious dilemma: How to be prepared for first-contact with the enemy.
On the one hand, Engineer Squads can start capturing territory straight away - but on the other they will be largely helpless against any enemy unit they meet. Therefore, the player has to ask himself these questions:
- Which combat-worthy units should be produced to meet the enemy.
- How long to wait before starting to produce them.
- How many Engineer Squads must be produced in the meanwhile.
If this problem is not considered properly, the Americans can lose a lot of the ground they've captured once contact with the enemy is made. They may lose a few Engineer Squads as well, if they're not careful!
Normally, this leads players to the early (sometimes immediate) construction of the Barracks. This base facility will provide cheap and survivable Riflemen Squads to take over as land-grabbers. They capture sectors very quickly, and can defend themselves if necessary. Riflemen Squads can hurry forward to make contact with the enemy or even capture some very forward sectors, while Engineer Squads can take care of sectors closer to the HQ, linking up territory as they go. Note however that the Americans should not rush to capture anything they cannot easily defend!
If Riflemen Squads make contact with the enemy, they can usually repel him. Advance no further - this is your basic front line for this battle! Once it is established, and assuming the Americans have grabbed a sufficient amount of land so far, they can begin fortifying it with obstacles.
Engineer Squads will usually do this, under covering fire from Riflemen Squads. Resources permitting, mobile defense riflemen should already be patrolling along the gaps between these obstacles, to make sure the enemy doesn't try anything sneaky.
The construction process will usually go on for a while. Machine Gun Emplacements must be set up to defend the weakest spots - preferably two or three sectors each, if at all possible. More importantly, both Engineer Squads and Riflemen Squads need to get to work setting up Observation Posts on the highest resource-producing Strategic Points, as well as on the most threatened front-line points.
American units performing construction are very vulnerable, which means that the Americans need a way to keep the enemy from attacking them. Fortunately this is faction that can easily go from defense to offense, so the best way to stop an enemy attack is simply to attack them first. This will buy time for construction work to proceed.
Alternate Production Strategy
- Experienced players can build the Weapons Support Center before creating a Barracks. This gives them access to more defensive units - and is more of a long-term investment.
- Your primary production would be M1917 Browning Heavy Machine Gun Teams, which will fill in for the Riflemen Squads. Their advantage is sheer anti-infantry firepower, which means that they can easily beat early enemy units. They are also very useful against the Panzer Elite faction, since the HMG Team's Armor-Piercing Bursts can knock out their plentiful light vehicles - something Riflemen Squads will have trouble accomplishing.
- Altenatively, a Sniper can also be used, which can kill few enemy soldiers, letting them know about its presence. This will cause them to be wary advancing into your territory, thus slowing their advance. However, do be careful of enemy snipers and bikes, have Engineers or Riflemen in nearby. Let the sniper take care of MG42 and the Riflemen take care of Bikes and Grenadiers.
- On the other hand, HMG Teams are very vulnerable to flanking maneuvers. This dissuades any forays into enemy territory, and means that HMG Teams need to stick to good defensive positions. With Mortar Teams coming up to support them, these units can hold for quite some time against enemy fire, providing Engineer Squads all the time they need to construct a good defensive line. Obstacles guiding enemies straight into an HMG Team's line of fire usually come first.
- Without Riflemen Squads, more of the work falls onto the shoulders of the Engineer Squads - especially construction of Observation Posts. However, the firepower from the HMG Teams defending your lines buys more time for this, and delays the need to build Machine Gun Emplacements until later.
- Early access to Snipers can also significantly increase defensive firepower. Though expensive, they can provide early warning against incoming enemy units (buying HMG Teams time to relocate), and they can gain a lot of experience just setting up close to the lines and shooting at enemy units foolish enough to get close to any of the HMG Teams.
- It is nonetheless recommended to build the Barracks before long. The enemy will eventually start coming in larger groups which even HMG Teams cannot stop. Riflemen Squads are also necessary in order to take the fight to the enemy, during the Infantry Skirmish phase.
With a defensive line being built, and strong enemy units appearing, it becomes necessary to pre-emptively attack the enemy on his own ground. This is when the Americans enter their Infantry Skirmish phase.
For this you'll need sufficient Riflemen Squads out near the front lines, and (if possible) additional Support Infantry. With these, the Americans begin making forays into enemy territory.
Make shallow attacks on exposed Strategic Points or weak enemy positions close to your front lines. Get the infantry in, take cover positions, and make flanking attacks on the enemy defenders if necessary. The goal is to cause as much damage as possible in a short amount of time.
At this point, assuming your units were victorious, you need to make an important choice: Do you try to hold the ground you've taken, or retreat and regroup? American defenses are rarely powerful enough to hold back an Axis force on their own, so while you are busy attacking the enemy, he is usually busy setting up a powerful counter-attack against you - either against the sector you've just captured, or against a completely different section of your line.
Therefore, you need to decide whether you want to risk your units trying to capture and hold the new territory, or retreat to reinforce your line. If you've made a serious impact on your attack, you may wish to capitalize on it and hope the enemy counter-attack will not be too powerful. Otherwise, the enemy will likely respond with great force, and trying to fortify this territory will leave the remainder of your line exposed - especially if the enemy is on the way to acquiring Medium Vehicles, against which your defenses can do little.
If you decide to retreat, send your units back to the nearest reinforcement point and spread them back along on the defensive line immediately. This ends the raid, hopefully with sufficient damage done to the enemy during the initial attack, with the Americans now ready to repel the enemy. When you feel confident enough, simply make another raid and another, until the Infantry Skirmish phase ends with the introduction of American medium or heavy vehicles.
If you decide to try and hold your new land seizure instead, send one unit to work grabbing the Strategic Point while the others get into defensive positions. It's often best to set up some Passive Defenses around the Strategic Point before starting to capture it, if you have the ability to do so, since you'd probably prefer holding the sector physically than capturing it only to quickly lose it to an enemy counter-attack.
Defend your position valiantly, killing as many enemy units as possible. Don't worry too much about losses among the Riflemen Squads, as these are cheap to replace. Do try to keep more expensive units safe (like the HMG Team).
If you can defend the sector adequately against the counter-attack, waste no time expanding into it. Again, remember that if you keep your entire attack force here for a long time, an experienced enemy will simply attack and overwhelm another point along your line, essentially trading sectors with you. Try to feel the right time to withdraw some units to protect the rest of your territory.
When making raids, attack in different locations each time, to keep the enemy guessing. Most importantly: Never go deep into enemy territory during a raid - Axis mobile defenses will simply surround and destroy your units.
During this phase of the battle, try to construct Forward Barracks near the most major hotspots - they will do wonders at this stage. A Forward Barracks can reinforce units returning from raids, so that they can regroup and return to their defensive duty as soon as possible. This way you can keep a strong defense even after heavy combat.
If a unit is destroyed, the Forward Barracks may be able to replace it entirely (i.e. buy a new one). Again, the whole point is to keep the Forward Barracks close to the front lines, so that infantry squads don't need to retreat all the way to base to receive reinforcements, and new units don't need to travel all the way from the base to make a defensive stand.
By the end of this stage, you should have Machine Gun Emplacements covering the majority of your front lines, reducing the need for HMG Teams. Elaborate obstacles feed the enemy directly into the kill-zones, protected by Snipers, Mortar Teams and other infantry.
The Infantry Skirmish phase is often considered over when the Tank Depot is constructed. Players hoping to make a Vehicle-centric force will end this phase with the construction of several M8 Greyhounds and M45 Quadmounts, starting to replace infantry with these fast, mobile units.
Alternate Production Strategy
- Some players prefer skipping the Weapons Support Center (or, occassionally, the Barracks) to rush towards an early vehicle production. This is done by constructing a Supply Yard as soon as possible, and then a Motor Pool. Due to the prohibitive cost of Tanks, rushing for a Tank Depot instead of a Motor Pool is best reserved for very experienced players.
- With the Motor Pool, Medium American Vehicles will provide support for the Riflemen Squads instead of the Weapon Teams produced by the Weapons Support Center. Vehicles may be more expensive, but at this stage they have several important advantages:
- Vehicles are fast, and can provide a very powerful mobile defense. This alludes especially to the M8 Greyhound and M45 Quadmount.
- Vehicles are harder to kill with early-game weapons, and require repairs instead of costly reinforcements.
- These vehicles are extremely well-suited for augmenting the Riflemen Squads' combat skills - whether through firepower or through their own abilities.
- M3 Halftracks will naturally be responsible for ferrying infantry from one spot to the other, making it much more difficult for the enemy to attack an exposed gap along your lines. They can also drive infantry into combat, making for very fast and lethal raids as explained above. Additionally, they serve as a mobile reinforcement point, reducing the need to spend time and money on Forward Barracks construction - and can even reinforce troops as they try to defend newly-captured sectors, even inside enemy territory.
- If resources permit, at least one M3 Halftrack should be converted into an M45 Quadmount as soon as possible. This provides an extremely powerful mobile defense unit that can patrol your lines almost on its own, fending off enemy units whenever they try to attack you. There are few enemy units that can contend with this vehicle. If you can afford it, get a second M45 Quadmount to join your raids as a powerful anti-infantry unit.
- The M8 Greyhound is perhaps less useful as an infantry support unit - except against the Panzer Elite. These enemies rely on vehicles themselves, and the M8 Greyhound is excellent for fending these off, whether during an offense or defense. Again, a mobile M8 Greyhound can patrol your lines to protect them from vehicle attacks. When raiding enemy territory, the M8 Greyhound is often used to protect the flanks rather than charging into the battle.
- Finally, note that the construction of a Motor Pool also allows production of M1 57mm Anti Tank Guns. These would not be useful at this stage of the game unless the enemy is also bringing in his light vehicles (Panzer Elite, again). If so, these guns should be kept in defensive positions to repel enemy attacks. For offensive anti-vehicle fire, use M8 Greyhounds or even M45 Quadmounts.
Support Vehicle Stage
The first stage in the transition from an Infantry-based American army into a more well-rounded one comes with the construction of the Motor Pool. This often occurs during the mid-game, often actually marking the mid-game point.
To get to the Motor Pool, the Americans must first construct a Supply Yard. This is very important, as it significantly increases Manpower income, which will be necessary to field all the new units as well as prepare for the late stage tank-building effort.
The Motor Pool unlocks the production of three new units: the M3 Halftrack, M8 Greyhound and M1 57mm Anti Tank Gun. These are all support vehicles, meant to work together with existing infantry units. They are not capable of taking the fight to the enemy on their own.
During the Support Vehicle Stage, the American army goes to a stronger defensive position. At this stage, the enemy will often be equipped with much heavier weapons, possibly even Light Tanks (like the Ostwind Flakpanzer or heavier). The newly unlocked units will help the Americans maintain their line against onslaughts by these weapons.
M1 57mm Anti Tank Guns greatly serve this purpose. Stationed along your defensive line, they can fend off enemy vehicles with ease. They must be used in conjunction with existing and new Machine Gun Emplacements, with this combination providing both anti-infantry and anti-tank firepower against invaders. M1 57mm Anti Tank Guns are placed in such positions where they can protect two or more sectors simply by turning to a new facing.
Camouflaged Snipers out ahead of the lines can be deployed to increase the M1 57mm Anti Tank Gun's firing range, and to provide the necessary early-warning against enemy attacks so that these guns can be relocated and/or rotated to meet these attacks.
The M3 Halftrack is also extremely important for defense, as it allows providing a much more mobile defense - by transporting the now-stronger American infantry units to any threatened sector along the lines. It also dramatically reduces recovery times after a major battle, by allowing infantry to reinforce quickly on the field without having to retreat to base or a Forward Barracks.
M8 Greyhounds can be produced to provide your first actual mobile defense unit. Fast and aggressive, they are used to patrol American territory against both infantry and vehicles. Packs of M8 Greyhounds can surround and destroy an enemy vehicle rather easily (except heavy tanks, which often destroy them in one shot, unless upgraded). M45 Quadmounts, if they can be afforded, are even better at this job - tearing enemy infantry attacks to shreds in short order (and still providing reinforcement for infantry, though no transportation).
Again, offensive options are rather limited, especially given the increasing power of enemy units. Axis mobile patrols at this stage often include heavier vehicles, and can destroy your raiding units fairly easily. Your primary options would be to use the well-equipped special infantry units bestowed by the selected Command Tree (see below), as these have a better chance against such vehicles. M8 Greyhounds can accompany an assault force for increased anti-tank firepower. M3 Halftracks can transport the entire force into enemy territory quickly, and provide reinforcements for the infantry while in there.
If you really need serious anti-tank firepower on an assault, an M1 57mm Anti Tank Gun can accompany your units, but it is slow and vulnerable, and may not provide sufficient help. Fortunately, it can linger back a bit, since it has a very long firing range.
All in all, during this stage you'll be busy collecting additional resources and protecting what you've got against a steadily-increasing enemy offensive force. The goal is to survive long enough to construct the Tank Depot, beginning the transition into the armored stage - the final stage of the battle. This often includes upgrading the Supply Yard at least once, to increase Manpower income.
Alternate Production Strategy
- Very experienced players will sometimes take the risky route of attempting to construct the Tank Depot as early in the game as possible. This is risky for several reasons:
- Both the Tank Depot and the units it produces are expensive.
- If you save resources for tank production, you necessarily cannot spend them on other production, leaving you weaker than your enemy.
- Tanks on their own are rarely useful for defense. Without a sufficient infantry force, American territory can easily be overrun.
- When playing Skirmish/Multiplayer games with additional allies to protect you, this endeavour may pay off very well. Otherwise, you face the prospect of being overrun due to lack of proper defenses.
- Nonetheless, if it can be pulled off, early tank production can turn the entire battle. Enemy forces will rarely be well-equipped enough to stop an onslaught by a group of American tanks.
- If the enemy has not yet reached heavy vehicle production, these tanks will likely dominate the battlefield for some time. M10 Tank Destroyer production can wait, as there is nothing large enough for it to kill. Instead, M4 Sherman and M4 Crocodile Sherman tanks can roam the battlefield together, destroying anything they come across.
- Naturally, going for this strategy means you'll need to be prepared to handle a vehicle-based force. Produce several Engineer Squads dedicated to providing repairs to your tanks, as the loss of a tank can be devastating. Use minesweeper-equipped Engineer Squads to scout out ahead of the tanks, as these are the biggest threat.
- If possible, attempt to build a Motor Pool as well. The vehicles it provides can serve in a defensive capacity while your tanks are out trashing the enemy, and can easily switch to escorting the tanks when necessary.
Armored and Combined-Arms Assault
With the Tank Depot erected in the American base, the army finally has access to its heaviest and most offensively-oriented units - the three Sherman tank varieties that constitute its main armored force.
By this time the Americans are usually on their hind legs, at best sending intermittent infantry raiding parties into enemy territory, and at worst busy fending off waves of Axis tanks. American armor is expected to turn the tide by providing both a stronger mobile defense as well as a powerful punching force to take the battle to the enemy.
American tanks almost always operate in groups - whether large armor groups comprised of several tanks, combined-arms groups together with infantry, or full-spectrum groups containing a wide variety of American units (including medium support vehicles). The main reason for this is that none of the American tanks is particularly useful on its own, or provides solutions to every problem. The M4 Sherman is the closest it gets to an all-purpose tank, but alone is no match for the heavier Axis tanks. Therefore, assault groups are built with versatility in mind.
The first step, naturally, is to get at least a few tanks out in the field - even to provide basic mobile defense. Construction priorities at this stage depend greatly on the type of force being fielded by the enemy:
The M4 Sherman is the only tank which is capable of handling any target - especially when produced in large groups. However, it is the most expensive of the three available tanks, and is notably weaker than Axis armor until upgrades can be purchased at the Tank Depot to augment its combat performance.
M10 Tank Destroyers, being the cheapest, are often produced first in order to counter Axis armor assaults, and provide fast and mobile Anti-Tank firepower on any attack. Nonetheless, their weak armor makes them less adequate for solitary attacks on enemy territory - they need to work in groups with other units that can protect them.
Finally, the M4 Crocodile Sherman provides an interesting anti-infantry option. Virtually powerless against enemy vehicles, it can nonetheless incinerate enemy infantry both in the open and in any type of cover, and can turn buildings to rubble very rapidly. Again, due to a lack of anti-tank firepower, this tank is more suitable for combined operations with other units, especially anti-tank infantry.
Once a group of tanks is available, they can be grouped together with or without additional units to create an assault force. There are many possible combinations for such a force, with the main goal being to create a team that can handle any kind of threat it encounters. No American unit is fully versatile, and they are all generally weaker than their Axis counterparts - but in groups they are very difficult to stop.
A typical combined-force assault group will contain a couple of M4 Shermans and M10 Tank Destroyers, accompanied by infantry (either Riflemen Squads or M1917 Browning Heavy Machine Gun Teams, possibly others). M8 Greyhounds and M45 Quadmounts can be used to screen the flanks, fending off infantry and light vehicles. In a battle against infantry and/or defensive positions, the American infantry will often race ahead to do battle, while the tanks rain fire from behind. When enemy armor is encountered, the M4 Shermans will take up pinning positions at the front of the column, while the tank destroyers and anti-tank infantry make flanking maneuvers.
During an assault, it is important to keep the group cohesive. Exposing the flanks or sending units too far ahead in chase of the enemy can result in the entire assault disintegrating and being picked apart by enemy mobile defenses.
As long as the assault group remains cohesive however, it can literally continue from one sector to the next, obliterating anything it encounters. Infantry in the group will take points if necessary, possibly fortify them lightly, and then the group can simply move on to the next target. Engineer Squads may be required to keep the vehicles in good shape. If the enemy does not muster everything he has to push you back, it's possible to drive all the way up to the enemy base in this manner.
If sufficient Population Cap is available, it may be wise to create more than one such assault group. This allows making two assaults at the same time, forcing the enemy to either split his forces (and thus be less able to stop you) or hit one group and then the other - buying you time to encroach on his base and cut his supply routes.
Note that during this stage, you cannot let down your defenses for even a moment - it will be necessary to attack and defend almost simultaneously. Again, American assault groups are very good at switching right back to defensive activities if the enemy pulls a surprise out of his sleeve, so make good use of this versatility. Never fully commit to an attack unless you're willing to risk losing part of your front lines. Stay mindful of what the enemy is doing, and only go deep into his territory while your defenses are holding. Be content with small gains - they're better than nothing - but always be on the lookout for making sudden, larger gains as well.
The Americans Command Trees are referred to as "Companies", as they simply augment the basic American force with additional support from other American companies in reserve. The three Command Trees are very arch-typical, each providing a very clear direction for American Strategy.
On the left, the Infantry Company brings in support from basic but powerful ground assets, primarily increasing defensibility but not without offensive firepower.
On the right, an American Armor Company will provide heavier units to field, and improves the performance and staying-power of all existing vehicles as well, making this a strong offensive option.
Finally, the central tree provides aerial support from the Airborne Company and the U.S. Army Air Forces. This is a rather balanced option, but like most "middle" trees relies greatly on subterfuge and surprise attacks behind enemy lines, keep in mind though that several of it's abilities require a lot of munitions.
The choice of Command Tree for this faction normally has surprisingly little effect on overall strategy, though experienced players can aggressively deploy the assets provided by these trees to create very focused, and sometimes very lethal attacks.
The American Infantry Company is a combined force containing expert infantry units. For the most part, this company actually improves the performance of existing infantry units, thus increasing reliance on infantry forces for the majority of the battle. Moreover, it provides some powerful off-map assets to help bring the enemy to its knees.
To start off, this company increases the production speed of all infantry-based units (except the Motor Pool-produced M1 57mm Anti Tank Gun), allowing a steady stream of infantry to maintain defensive lines. Defense work is also augmented by the addition of Riflemen Squad defensive construction options, allowing them to do pretty much anything the less-powerful Engineer Squads do except repair. As a result, the army relies much less on Engineer Squads, freeing up Population Cap points for more powerful squads.
Two artillery options are also opened for this company. One is a basic off-map artillery, costing 150 to use, and requiring line-of-sight to the target. This is only a temporary measure however, because a field artillery piece (the M2 105mm Howitzer) can be constructed soon afterwards, an emplacement with massive range and free howitzer barrages. This allows direct attacks at virtually all enemy units on the map - possibly even as far as the enemy's own base.
Most Infantry Company commanders will, however, benefit most from the purchase of Ranger Squads. These tough infantry units, equipped with two M9 "Bazooka" rocket launchers, are some of the most powerful infantry squads in the game. Especially when used in large groups, these soldiers can lay waste to enemy forces, and can make significant advances into enemy territory and take on significant enemy forces.
Finally, this company provides an emergency measure called Off-Map Combat Group, which will call in a randomized group of several infantry and/or vehicle units for a significantly reduced price. This can be used to create a sudden increase in firepower, either to protect the base in a pinch or reinforce a weakened defensive line.
Overall, the defensive options and artillery make this command tree more useful for a conservative player who excels in protecting territory and keeping whatever he can acquire. However, make no mistake: the Ranger Squads unlocked here are extremely useful offensive units, who can make both small and large gains if used properly. Furthermore, the ability to bombard the enemy's base with masses of artillery can turn a strong defensive position into a battle-winning asset.
With the increased production and performance of infantry squads, it should be obvious that the Infantry Company relies much more on its infantry than its armored forces. In fact it is not uncommon for this company to forgo heavy vehicle production completely (though M3 Halftracks and especially M1 57mm Anti Tank Guns may still be crucial).
The Infantry Company will usually try to grab a lot of territory with its initial Riflemen Squads or even support infantry units, and spend great effort to turn its front lines into a maze of obstacles and minefields that can easily be defended by these slow-moving units. Since replacing infantry is also easier, it should be no problem to maintain a strong presence along the front lines - even if this means constantly replacing dead Riflemen to maintain that presence.
With a solid defensive line, the Americans need to decide whether they will spend their resources on producing large Ranger Squad groups, amass M2 105mm Howitzer field artillery emplacements, or combine both assets together. In both cases, large amounts of resources will need to be gathered before the Americans can make any significant advances into enemy territory.
The artillery option may be a little more "lazy", but is extremely effective. M2 105mm Howitzers, if placed close enough to the middle of the map (and protected well enough by static and mobile defenses) can begin shelling the enemy base repeatedly. This economic warfare can actually bring the enemy to his knees, struggling to rebuild lost base facilities. This needs to be eventually followed up by some sort of powerful assault - possibly carried out by those defensive infantry/armored units freed up from defensive duties due to the general weakening of the enemy's attacks.
The choice of Ranger Squad use is a little riskier, because Rangers are expensive but also fragile on their own. It may take some time to build a sufficiently large Ranger force that can go without fear into enemy territory to begin wreaking havoc. Also, reinforcing these rangers is very expensive, leading to long lulls between American offensive actions while this reinforcement is proceeding. Nonetheless, a large force of Rangers, especially when backed up with good support units, can literally fight its way straight through enemy territory, leaving nothing but destruction in its path.
The Airborne Company is a very strange Command Tree to choose, and a very demanding one. Unlike the other trees, it provides no benefit to any of the existing units, but rather provides a wide variety of useful off-map assets. As a result, the use of this command tree is recommended only for experienced players.
First and foremost, the Airborne Company tree is all about attacks made on the enemy's rear. The epitome of this concept lies in the Airborne Squads: tough infantry with optional anti-tank capabilities, who can enter the map virtually anywhere (with the only requirement being line-of-sight to the landing zone). They can immediately begin causing damage to exposed enemy assets, capturing Strategic Points and fighting off enemy infantry as they go. Most importantly, these squads can reinforce anywhere - thus being able to keep fighting behind the lines rather than having to retreat to replenish their casualties.
Airborne Squads can be further augmented with air-dropped M1 57mm Anti Tank Guns. Again, these can be placed anywhere, requiring only line-of-sight to the drop zone, and thus can provide crucial anti-tank support to the Airborne Squads. Crewed by airborne riflemen themselves, these guns are more formidable and can also reinforce anywhere.
The Airborne Company provides an important and unusual service: converting excess Manpower into Munitions and Fuel. This is done by dropping supplies and picking them up with infantry forces. The air-dropped packets also contain heavy weapons, which Airborne Squads can use to add variety to their attacks (assuming they can't capture such weapons from the enemy). Munitions, in particular, will assist this company in paying for its other capability: air attacks.
The U.S. Army Air-Force will dispatch P-47 Thunderbolt ground-attack aircraft on demand to assist the Airborne Company. The Thunderbolts can be used to make simple recon runs (revealing enemy territory), attack infantry and vehicles (using their cannons in a "strafing run"), or bombard and destroy a narrow strip of land. These runs are all very costly in Munitions, but when used properly they can leave a whole swath of enemy territory in ruins.
The use of surprise attacks, whether ground- or air-based, allow this company to keep its enemies on their toes, thus reducing the pressure on the American front lines. This usually buys time for the Americans to produce heavier assault force that can link up with the Airborne Squads to make permanent gains on the battlefield. Alternatively, Airborne Squads can sometimes link up into large, powerful units that can lay waste to the enemy's base in a surprise raid, essentially winning the battle in one surprise assault.
Playing Against the Americans
Americans are all-rounders, but will rely mainly on infantry attacks and defences. If the American commander has chosen airborne company, be prepared for airborne attacks made by para-troopers after an air recon. You cannot starve them out of troops, as these will easily be replaced, so focus on strikes against medic stations and deny them the opportunity of manpower points. If the American commander did not choose to play as armoured commander, do not worry much about the enemy's armour. Nevertheless, keep a small reserve of tanks to combat the enemy tanks. If the commander has chosen to play as the infantry commander, they will almost certainly include rangers who are expert at destroying tanks. As the American faction are mostly all-rounders, you cannot expect them to play too defensive or too offensive, so you may find your initial plans ruined by them. Also, get rid of their engineers med-game to stop the construction of defensive structures. The main force, as earlier stated, will be made of riflemen. You can use this to your advantage. Though, ultimately, this may not lead to their or your demise. When you do prepare to attack, keep a strong defensive line as well, because the American commander may decide to attack your line as well.
Invasion of Normandy
Operation Market Garden
I)Infantry Company: Choosing this company allows infantry and Weapon Team units to rapidly respond and deploy. This company also allows basic infantry such as Riflemen Squads to build simple defenses such as sand bags and barbed wire and allows Engineer Squads to build the 105mm howitzer.
II)Airborne Company: Choosing this company will allow you to access the Airborne Squad, a group of elite infantry that can drop behind enemy lines. This company also provides airdropped Team Weapons and supplies. P-47 Thunderbolt strafing runs and bombardment become available through this company.
III)Armor Company: This company emphasizes building up armor strength. Choosing this company allows you to repair all American vehicles without Engineer Squads and replaces them quickly if destroyed in combat. This company also allows light and medium vehicles such as M3 Halftracks and Jeeps to capture Strategic Points. Sherman Calliopes and the slow but powerful M26 Pershing can only be deployed through this company.