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The British, also known as the Commonwealth, are one of the two factions featured in Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts and Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor . A member of the Allies, it fights alongside the Americans to liberate Nazi-occupied Europe. The British play a heavily-defensive game, with considerable artillery support and impressive Commando abilities. Historically, the British played a major role in World War II, participating from the first day to the very last day.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Basic Force Composition
- 3 Veterancy
- 4 Style and Strategy
- 5 Command Doctrines
- 6 Playing Against the British
- 7 Single-Player Campaign
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts introduced the British faction as the new Allied force. Along with the Americans, they invade Europe on and after D-Day 1944, to liberate it from the Nazi occupation.
The British Army featured in the game represents an amalgamation of military forces from the various nations collectively referred to as the "Commonwealth". It includes soldiers of the English, Australian, Scottish and Canadian nationalities, working together under a unified command structure. (Other Commonwealth forces included New Zealand, India and South Africa, among others).
British forces are made up of a wide variety of units, though their basic focus is centered on creating a strong defensive line to protect captured land, then using powerful concentrated attacks to gain (and then fortify) additional territory whenever possible. What they lack in offensive versatility, they make up for with some of the most powerful (and comparatively cheapest) Defensive Structures available.
Additionally, the British can enlist the help of specialized Support Companies that enhance the function of one specific portion of the British army. For example, they can enhance the performance of their artillery (making it one of the strongest artillery forces in the game), recruit tough tanks to spearhead their assaults, or utilize the assistance of glider-borne Commandos to perform surgical strikes behind enemy lines.
In their single-player campaign, the British are seen attempting to capture the city of Caen in Normandy to secure a way off the beaches after D-Day. During the Panzer Elite campaign, British Commando paratroopers land in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands to secure a way for the Allies to cross the Rhine during Operation Market Garden.
Basic Force Composition
|Royal Support-specific Units||
The British force is structured very differently from those of other factions. It only fields 9 different kinds of units, 2 of which are fighting infantry, 1 is a light transport vehicle, and 3 are tanks. 3 additional units are unique command units, which are responsible for bestowing Veterancy-like bonuses on other British forces. Most importantly though, the British can field a very wide variety of extremely-powerful defensive structures, which form the basic focus of this faction's strategy.
Additionally, the British base structures are in fact mobile Command Trucks, which can relocate around the battlefield as necessary. These trucks are responsible for spawning units (and each other), and serve to protect resource sectors and enhance resource production.
Unlike other factions, the British army does not have stationary production facilities. Instead it has specialized vehicles called Command Trucks.
Command Trucks can move around the map freely, and can set themselves up in friendly sectors. Once set up, a truck secures that sector to prevent enemies from re-taking it. It also increases resource production in that sector.
Trucks produce all the basic British units. Each truck can produce three different unit types, and can reinforce infantry within a radius around itself. The Headquarters Command Truck, available at the start of the game, is responsible for creating the other trucks.
- Headquarters Command Truck: Produces the Infantry Section, Lieutenant and Bren Carrier. Also produces other Command Trucks when necessary. Its position on the map determines your HQ Territory.
- Field Support Truck: Produces the Sappers, Captain and Stuart Light Tank.
- Armor Command Truck: Produces the Cromwell Tank, Cromwell Command Tank, Sherman Firefly, Staghound Armored Car, and Kangaroo Carrier.
The trucks are extremely tough when deployed, but are more vulnerable to damage when mobile. They must be set up in order to produce units. They are often placed in sectors that are very defensible - to prevent their destruction - but their resource bonus means that it's often more important to put them in sectors with high resource production values.
British infantry is very basic, in that it contains only two types of units (barring the aid of the Royal Commandos Support):
- Infantry Section: A multi-purpose infantry unit, useful primarily for anti-infantry warfare. May be armed with several different weapons, and is one of the most expensive "basic" infantry units in the game.
- Sappers: A construction and repair unit, with three optional upgrades that enable it to specialize in various support functions. It can be used as anti-tank infantry.
Both of these units are significantly more expensive than their counterparts in other factions, and do not exhibit any spectacular combat abilities. Moreover, they move very slowly through non-friendly territory, making them less useful for offensive operations. However, both units are mostly responsible for constructing the British Defensive Structures, making them vital for all British tactics.
The British can field a single Light Vehicle, which is mainly used for transporting infantry units quickly around the battlefield:
- Bren Carrier: A light vehicle which can transport a single infantry unit. It can trade this ability for a Machine Gun to help it fend off infantry.
The Bren Carrier mostly assists with transportation of troops, moving them between locations in order to provide support at various points along the British defensive line. Early on, the Machine Gun upgrade allows it to quickly chase down infantry attempting to take British territory, or even make raids into enemy territory to kill exposed units.
The British can field three very different medium vehicles.
- Stuart Light Tank: A fast tank with a light cannon, which can fire a devastating anti-infantry canister shot. Used for quickly wiping out enemy infantry concentrations and reconnaissance along enemy lines.
- Staghound Armored Car: Light and fast armored car, armed with a 37mm cannon, able to deal with infantry and light vehicles very well, can be upgraded with a .50 cal Machine Gun. Tales of Valor reward unit, replaces Cromwell Command Tank.
- Kangaroo Carrier: Open toped armored personal carrier, allows infantry garrisoned inside to shoot out. Tales of Valor reward unit, replaces Cromwell Tank.
The British can field two very different types of heavy vehicles, each tasked with an appropriately different function:
- Cromwell Tank: The core tank unit of the British armored force, medium-armored and medium-armed, used in large groups to overwhelm enemy positions and tanks.
- Sherman Firefly: A heavy but expensive tank-destroyer, armed with one of the most powerful guns in the game on an M4 Sherman chasis. Used exclusively for destroying enemy armor - even heavy tanks!
British tanks are quite vulnerable on their own, as they are considerably less-armored and less-armed than their Axis counterparts. When massed in large groups however, they can destroy an enemy position, allowing infantry to take and fortify it against the enemy. All British tanks can be upgraded with tank commanders to increase their sight-range significantly, allowing them to provide reconnaissance-in-force.
Unlike other factions, British units do not accumulate Veterancy (more on this below). Instead, they rely on Command Units to give them powerful bonuses to enhance their performance. These Command Units have virtually nothing in the way of combat abilities, but the combat bonuses they bestow make British units considerably more useful. Additionally, these Command Units are crucial to the British tech hierarchy.
The British can field three different kinds of Command Units:
- Lieutenant: Applies bonuses to infantry within his vicinity. Increases infantry firing rate and movement speed through enemy territory. Only three can exist simultaneously.
- Captain: Applies defensive bonuses to Defensive Emplacements and other units within the same sector as himself. Infantry units can retreat to his position instead of retreating to the British HQ, if required. Only one can exist at any given time.
- Cromwell Command Tank: A tank without a cannon, that increases the firing rate of all vehicles in its vicinity. Especially increases the firing rate of nearby Sherman Fireflies, making them very powerful combat units. Only one can exist at any given time.
These three Command Units are also the only British units that accumulate Veterancy, which they get from the units in their vicinity. As they go up in rank, the bonuses they apply to other units increase.
Unfortunately, all three Command Units are especially high-value targets for enemy fire, and should never be left unprotected. The loss of a veteran Command Unit can be a significant blow to the British.
Finally, the production of Command Units is absolutely necessary to advance the British tech hierarchy. A Lieutenant is required for the production of a Field Support Truck and Bren Carrier, a Captain is required for the production of an Armor Command Truck and Stuart Light Tank, and the Cromwell Command Tank is required for the production of Sherman Fireflies. Therefore, without producing each of these Command Units, the British cannot field their entire array of units.
The most unique feature of the British army is its ability to field a large variety of very powerful and surprisingly cheap Defensive Structures. All of these emplacements are constructed by the British Infantry units.
Passive defenses include:
- Slit Trench: A garrisonable structure that provides extremely good protection for infantry. Costs nothing.
- Barbed Wire: Defensive obstacles against infantry. Forces enemy infantry units to go around, preferably into a killing zone protected by one or more defensive emplacements. Costs nothing.
- Sand Bags: Long stretches of Heavy Cover for infantry to hide behind. Costs nothing.
- Mines: Explosive charges invisible to enemy units that detonate by proximity. Used for destroying enemy units passing through a given area. Costs Munitions.
Active defenses include:
- Vickers Machine Gun Emplacement: Armed with a heavy machine gun, this anti-infantry emplacement can quickly suppress and kill enemy infantry entering its fixed line of fire.
- 3" Mortar Emplacement: A fixed Mortar Emplacement built by Infantry Sections; It costs only 280 manpower and 2 Population, making it one of the cheapest units in the British arsenal. Can suppress Infantry and provide quick support in newly taken sectors.
- Bofors 40mm Cannon: An anti-aircraft gun that can nonetheless fire at aircraft, infantry and light vehicles, and can rotate 360-degrees to protect an entire area.
- 17 Pounder AT Gun: An extremely powerful anti-tank cannon, which can destroy enemy tanks with ease at impressive ranges.
- 25 Pounder Gun Howitzer: A stationary artillery piece that can bombard deep into enemy lines, and can potentially perform various reactive bombardments with the right upgrades.
Each of these emplacements is powerful in its own right, but together they can form impassable barriers to block enemy advances. Vulnerable only to enemy artillery, these buildings are durable and can be constantly repaired by Sappers to maintain an impenetrable defense. They are deployed along the British front line while the British army gathers the resources and units to form a massive attack force that can then strike and take territory from the enemy. Without these emplacements, the British army is significantly weaker than other factions.
Note that all British active emplacements take up Population Cap points. As such, the number of emplacements that can be fielded is quite limited - especially if one wishes to also maintain an offensive force for taking enemy territory.
Royal Support-specific Units and Structures
Royal Artillery Support:
- Priest Self-Propelled Artillery Mobile self propelled artillery piece, armed with a 105mm howitzer. Requires Royal Artillery Support: Priest Self-Propelled Artillery
- Commandos: An Elite 6-man infantry squad armed with Silenced Mk.II Sten Sub-Machine-Guns, excels in killing squads at close range. Requires Royal Commandos Support: Glider-Borne Commandos
- HMG Commandos: A 3-man commando squad armed with a Vickers Heavy Machine Gun, good at suppressing infantry and preventing movement of enemy squads. Requires Royal Commandos Support: Glider Headquarters
- PIAT Commandos: A 3-man commando squad armed with 2 PIAT launchers, good at destroying enemy vehicles and structures, weak against infantry. Requires Royal Commandos Support: Glider Headquarters
- Mortar Commandos: A 3-man commando squad armed with a 3" Mortar, highly effective against infantry or stationary targets. Requires Royal Commandos Support: Glider Headquarters
- Tetrarch Tank A small, lightly armed and armored tank that is deployed from a glider, can be optionally upgraded with a Littlejohn Adapter to increase its firepower. Requires Royal Commandos Support: Tetrarch Tank
- Churchill Tank: Very heavy and slow infantry tank armed with a 6-pounder cannon, able to deal with infantry and vehicles moderately well. Requires Royal Engineers Support: Churchill Tank
- Churchill AVRE: Very heavy and slow infantry tank armed with a 290mm Spigot Mortar, easily able to deal with groups of infantry, team weapons, or units garrisoned inside buildings. Requires Royal Engineers Support: Churchill AVRE
- Churchill Crocodile: Very heavy and slow infantry tank armed with a 6-pounder cannon and hull mounted flamethrower, able to deal with infantry much better than the standard Churchill Tank. Requires Royal Engineers Support: Churchill Crocodile
Royal Commandos Support:
- Commando Glider: A glider that can deployed anywhere on the map, spawns a unit of Commandos once landed and can produce more squads as needed. Requires Royal Commandos Support: Glider-Borne Commandos
- Tetrarch Glider: A glider that can deployed anywhere on the map, spawns a Tetrarch Tank once landed and can produce more Tetrarch Tanks. Requires Royal Commandos Support: Tetrarch Tank
- HQ Glider: A glider that can deployed anywhere on the map, does not spawn any squad upon landing, but can immediately produce HMG Commandos, PIAT Commandos and Mortar Commandos. Requires Royal Commandos Support: Glider Headquarters
- Detector for Radio Triangulation: After 3 of them are placed they revel enemy units in the fog of war. Requires Royal Commandos Support: Radio Triangulation Detectors
The British army has one of the most unique methods of handling Veterancy amongst all other factions. In this army, only three units (!) can accumulate Veterancy at all, while other units will never rise in level. These three units, collectively named "Command Units", in turn apply a set of bonuses to other units around them, thereby simulating Veterancy through proximity. These bonuses improve as the Command Unit's own Veterancy level goes up.
The Lieutenant affects nearby Infantry within a range of 30 meters of himself. All affected infantry units receive bonuses to their firing speed, reloading speed, and/or weapon accuracy. Several Lieutenants can accompany an infantry group to "pool together" these bonuses, thereby increasing the entire group's combat effectiveness quite dramatically. Lieutenants reaching high levels can increase this bonus.
The Cromwell Command Tank performs a similar function, except it only affects Vehicles. It increases their rate of fire, their sight-range, and the range of their weapons too. This can turn a group of British tanks, normally mediocre in capabilities, into a much more fearsome fighting force. Additionally, Sherman Fireflies receive a significant extra boost to their firing speed, thereby increasing the potential damage output of their powerful anti-tank cannons to a terrifying level.
Finally, the Captain affects all Defensive Structures in the same sector as himself, increasing their Maximum Health and reducing all damage taken from enemy attacks. This effectively makes defenses in a single sector far more durable. In addition, high-level Captains can give infantry in the same sector the ability to slowly regenerate their health.
All three units lack any significant offensive capabilities. Even the Cromwell Command Tank is missing its main gun. Instead of killing enemy units, these Command Units accumulate Veterancy simply by being close to other British units when they kill enemies. The Lieutenant and Captain accumulate veterancy from kills made by nearby British infantry, while the Cromwell Command Tank accumulates veterancy from kills made by nearby British vehicles.
Since they lack offensive power and are so valuable, it is important to always keep the Command Units safe from harm. Fortunately, these units can be told to maintain a minimal "Command Range" from another unit, following closely behind it for their own protection (and for applying their Command Bonuses to that unit at all times). However, micro-management is still required occasionally to keep the Command Units from exposing themselves to danger.
Style and Strategy
Out of all the different factions in the game, the British army is the most defensively-oriented faction as it was mentioned several times above. In order to stand a chance against enemy factions, the British need to capture as much territory as they can, and then proceed to fortify it against enemy attacks. Otherwise, British units can be easily defeated by the strength of Axis forces.
A typical British battleplan has five distinct stages:
- Capturing initial territory.
- Creating a strong defensive line.
- Protecting the line while gathering resources and building up an offensive force.
- Launching a powerful strike at an enemy sector, capturing it, and fortifying it.
- Repeat stage 4 until the enemy is destroyed.
This progression by stages is tied to the high cost of unit construction, and the relative weakness of British units compared to their Axis counterparts. It is derived from World War One combat strategies, though it is far more effective due to the use of tanks and/or Commandos to drive powerful strikes into enemy territory.
Stage 1: Expansion
At the start of a skirmish/multiplayer match, the British have one Infantry Section with the Recon Element upgrade already installed. Their Headquarters Command Truck can only produce Infantry Sections, Bren Carriers or a Lieutenant. Both of these have quite a high cost for early-game units. Therefore, the British need to make do with what they have, by quickly securing as many resource points as they can.
Unfortunately, all British infantry moves very slowly through non-captured territory. Therefore they will take territory much slower than enemy factions, and will usually end up with less land once all neutral sectors are gone.
There are several solutions to this:
- Produce more Infantry Sections. While very expensive in Manpower, this allows capturing more territory faster, but will put you in a resource deficit later when Manpower is required to build defenses. British infantry may be at a disadvantage if it tries to defend all those captured sectors without emplacements to help them.
- Acquire one or more Lieutenants to attach to your infantry. The Lieutenants remove the speed penalty from infantry, allowing them to move as quickly as enemy troops to capture neutral sectors. However, each Lieutenant is more expensive than half an infantry section! Still, once your infantry do encounter enemies, the Lieutenant will help them maintain superiority to enemy units.
- Install the Recon Element upgrade on all new Infantry Sections. This removes their speed penalty, but costs Munitions which you may not have enough of this early in the game. It also disable's the ability to build trenches which is essential in defense.
- Use Bren Carriers to bring units to the front line quickly. Brens can act as a mounted machine gun to support units as well. Bren Carriers can also be used to harass enemy soldiers.
When getting close to the enemy's own advancing lines, it's important to concentrate on capturing sectors that are more easily defensible, rather than sectors that produce lots of resources but can't be easily defended (i.e. open terrain).
Some players like to produce a Lieutenant and then a Bren Carrier or two. The Bren Carriers can quickly ferry infantry from sector to sector to quickly take plenty of ground. Once sufficient Munitions are gathered, one or more Bren Carriers can be converted to MMG Carriers, using them to fend off enemy infantry entering your new captured territory, or even hunting down enemy units in their own territory (since, at this stage, the enemy can do little against vehicles like the Bren Carrier).
Stage 2: Fortification
This stage officially begins once a front line with the enemy has been established (i.e. no more neutral sectors remaining between your land and the enemy's). During this stage, the British toil to produce their powerful defensive emplacements to defend the line.
More concretely however, at this stage you should begin working towards producing Sappers, which would require a Field Support Truck (and vicariously at least one Lieutenant to enable construction of that truck).
The Sappers will build more powerful emplacements, beginning probably with Bofors 40mm Cannons, as these are most suitable for tackling both infantry and light vehicles - the only units available to the enemy at this stage. Subsequently, 17 Pounder AT Guns are set up at crucial points to protect against future incursions by enemy tanks.
During this stage, Infantry Sections are usually delegated to further construction of Vickers Machine Gun Emplacements to protect weak spots against enemy infantry, and 3" Mortar Emplacements to complement other defenses. If necessary, Infantry Sections can assist in the protection of weak points along the line, digging Slit Trenches where necessary to provide themselves with extra protection.
The production of a Captain is necessary at this point, to provide defensive bonuses to emplacements wherever the enemy attacks. This also allows creating the Stuart Light Tank, which can begin intercepting enemy vehicles and infantry, and/or reconnoitering enemy positions.
This stage only ends once you feel sufficiently secure behind your defensive line - whether because it is heavily fortified or because you have sufficient mobile units to protect weak points.
Stage 3: Battle Production
While the British defensive line is secured, the Command Trucks will gather a large amount of Munitions and Fuel, which are used for the construction of main battle units.
This requires the Armor Command Truck, which is tasked with producing Cromwell Tanks, a Cromwell Command Tank, and subsequently Sherman Fireflies. These units make up the bulk of the British offensive force.
These units should not be sent piece-meal into enemy territory, as they will not be a match for the powerful units the Germans can field at this stage. Let the Germans perform futile attacks against your line while you bolster your power, aiming to reach the Population Cap as quickly as possible.
In the meanwhile, an artillery-minded British commander will begin construction of the powerful 25 Pounder Gun Howitzers, used to bombard enemy positions into dust or providing defensive fire on enemy units approaching your line.
Also, use this time to have your cheaper units (infantry and Stuart Light Tanks) to reconnoiter the enemy's lines. This will reveal weak spots in enemy defenses, and you may even be able to destroy a few lone enemy units in the process. However, any actual attack by your recon units will usually bear little fruits, unless you can pull off a clever deception or otherwise outwit your enemy.
This stage ends once you've accumulated a powerful force of tanks and infantry.
Stage 4: Attack
During this stage, the British deliver a powerful armor punch at the weakest point in the enemy line. This is done using pretty much the majority of accumulated British strength, because a weak force may not be able to stand up to the German units.
The armored advance is usually lead by the tanks. Once contact is made with enemy units, the force splits up into teams, with one team taking the enemy on frontally to draw it's attention, while other teams maneuver quickly around the enemy to achieve flanking positions. British tanks are particularly good at such flanking maneuvers thanks to their speed bonus abilities. Of course, without this flanking, British tanks are no match for their German counterparts in face-to-face combat.
Infantry usually move behind the main force, to avoid taking unnecessary casualties during the initial contact. They can be used to clear out enemy infantry during the assault, and can even take part in flanking maneuvers using Bren Carriers to put them in advantageous positions behind the enemy.
However, the infantry's main role in this is to help secure the sector after it has been cleared of enemy troops. The Infantry will capture the sector, and immediately begin fortifying it to prevent an enemy counter-attack. British tanks can continue to provide support during the fortification efforts. It may be necessary to dismantle other fortifications further back behind you in order to attain the required number of Population Cap points. This essentially repositions the defensive line forward of its original position.
This stage is completed once the sector is suitably defended, and the tanks and infantry can retreat to heal and repair for the next assault.
As with all other factions, the British have three Command Doctrines available. They are generally known as "Royal Support Companies".
Each of these doctrines is meant to enhance one specific aspect of the British strategy, focusing on fielding and improving one set of units. They will often radically alter the behavior of the British army during the mid-late stages of the battle.
Royal Artillery Support
This Support Company is a British artillery battalion. By selecting this Command Doctrine, the British player is committed to the application of extremely powerful artillery barrages on enemy positions.
The Royal Artillery Support company provides increased range for all British artillery emplacements and units. It also allows them to perform reactive fire, by automatically bombarding enemy units moving through a certain point on the map, or automatically bombarding enemy artillery as it opens fire on your positions.
This Support Company also allows officers to call in off-map artillery barrages, and allows artillery to perform wide-area offensive barrages to wipe out a section of the map or carve a line through enemy defenses.
Finally, this company allows fielding the Priest Self-Propelled Artillery, a mobile artillery unit that packs one of the strongest punches in the game. Coupled with all the other upgrades, this type of artillery can flatten enemy positions in preparation for an armored advance, or even bombard the enemy base all the way across the map. The Royal Artillery Support company is therefore wisely feared by most Axis players, who often respond by attacking the artillery sites with everything they have.
- Once this doctrine is acquired, the British player should focus on creating 25 Pounder Gun Howitzers and/or calling in Priest Self-Propelled Artillery units. This should be done as early as possible, though is usually held off until stage 3, when the British defensive line is strong enough to repel the enemy from attacking these vulnerable and expensive artillery units.
- After deployment, the artillery can begin firing at almost any target on the map. Good reconnaissance by Stuart Light Tanks or other units will provide the location of lucrative targets - though in the absence of intelligence data it's always possible to just bombard the enemy base.
- Artillery leaves little Population Cap for actual offensive units (like tanks), which means the British offensive capabilities are diminished. However, due to the power of artillery, it's possible to simply flatten enemy defenses just prior to charging in your units in order to capture the now-obliterated sector.
Royal Commandos Support
The Royal Commandos Support company gives an entirely different flavour to the British army, by concentrating on the production of surgical strike units and increased intelligence.
Royal Commandos are elite units that are landed on the battlefield by Commando Gliders, and thus can be placed behind enemy lines. The gliders also function as production structures if they are in friendly territory that is in supply(with the exception of the HQ glider, which can produce units anywhere). Five different types of Commando units are available, ranging from a basic 6-man elite infantry team (called Commandos), to one of the fastest vehicles in the game (the Tetrarch Tank). This is also the only way for the British to acquire infantry support teams (HMG Commandos, PIAT Commandos and Mortar Commandos) that other factions take for granted.
Intelligence-wise, the Royal Commandos Support company allows construction of Detectors for Radio Triangulation to make enemy units visible on the mini-map. This allows the planning and careful execution of Commando raids deep into enemy territory. Additionally, a decryption team can listen in on enemy communications to learn which upgrades and units the enemy is purchasing at any time.
Finally, this Command Tree opens up an off-map artillery ability, and also allows dropping smoke flares to make the enemy think he's about to be bombarded with artillery, for no actual cost to the British. These mind-games with the enemy pretty much define the Royal Commandos Support company's mentality.
- As soon as Commandos become available, it's usually wise to drop one or two units behind enemy lines to start planting Detectors for Radio Triangulation, and then harass enemy units by grabbing random sectors behind their lines. The enemy will have to react to this, and may even lose a few units to Commando ambushes, disrupting his smooth production.
- As the battle matures and the enemy establishes a more rounded military force, Commando units are used for making surprise attacks at weak enemy positions. This is assisted by the Radio Triangulators which allow knowing where each enemy unit is and therefore how to get into enemy territory undetected. Commandos perform surgical raids, taking out high-value units or positions with lightning strikes, then disappearing back into the Fog of War. If this is done correctly, it can cause the enemy to become more paranoid and less organized, and thus less able to stop the British from stealing away his territory when he's caught off-guard.
- Overall, this is one of the most interesting Support Companies the British can choose, as it shifts their style from heavily-defensive to cunning and unpredictable. Many Axis players will much prefer losing to a well-played Commando Support Company than winning against either of the two other British companies.
Royal Engineers Support
The Royal Engineers Support Company is a Scottish regiment that is primarily focused on defense, but offers a significant boost of survivability to the British offensive armored forces as well.
For starters, this Support Company significantly increases the durability of all British Active Defenses, like the Vickers Machine Gun Emplacement or 17 Pounder AT Gun. It also increases many of the properties of the British Command Trucks, including their survivability, resource production, and even production speed.
This Support Company also allows all British tanks to go into "Hull Down" position, trading in their mobility for extra defense. This can be used to entrench tanks along the front lines, but also to help tanks survive a British armored advance.
Finally, this company enables fielding three types of heavy tanks: the Churchill Tank, Churchill AVRE and Churchill Crocodile. These are infantry-support tanks with different weapons (primarily anti-infantry and anti-building), though their greatest feature is their heavy all-around armor which makes them perfect for leading other British armor and infantry units into combat in enemy territory.
- With this Support Company selected, the British army has further incentive to "turtle" itself, producing a very strong defensive line that is unlikely to be breached by any enemy assault, and then gathering tons or resources to produce a very powerful armored force (during Strategic Stage 3).
- During this time, the various Churchill tanks can actually be placed along the front lines and entrenched to provide additional firepower against enemy attacks. Together with the improved emplacements, this can make the British line highly-impenetrable.
- Once the armored force (which should include one or more Churchills) is ready, the British can launch a very powerful attack on enemy territories to grab a sector or two and fortify them. The Churchills lead the attack, making contact with enemy units and then entrenching themselves quickly to absorb enemy fire, while other units maneuver to flanking positions.
- In many ways, this is the most powerful British Support Company available, as it offers both a stronger offense and a stronger defense. However, it is considered one of the least interesting for the same reason - it requires the British player to basically make an impenetrable line, at which point it may be extremely difficult to defeat him. Axis players call this strategy "Sim-City", as it focuses primarily on constructing a "perfect" line of defense, and is much less offensively-minded than other support companies. What little face-to-face action occurs is usually very short and poignant, offering little excitement to either player.
Playing Against the British
Due to the defensive nature of British strategies, playing against this faction is sometimes considered an "uphill battle". Once the British manage to fortify a line, it may be exceptionally difficult to punch through that line to acquire territory, resulting in either a stalemate or heavy losses. While British units are individually weaker than their Axis counterparts, in groups they can deliver quite massive punches. As a result, many Axis commanders balk at the idea of fighting the British: even if they win, it would have been a long and tedious fight.
However, the key to defeating the British, as with any other army, is to understand and exploit their weaknesses - of which they have several. The primary advantage one always has against the British army is that it is a static army and has little flexibility. By confusing, out-witting or out-punching the British, it's possible to subdue them simply by breaking through their lines. Once on the other side of that line is reached, victory is often imminent.
One major weakness the British can't get rid of is their reliance on static emplacements. While these structures can take out almost anything that comes at them head-on, they cannot fight what they cannot see. Therefore, the obvious first step to punching through the British line is to build up a formidable artillery force, and then concentrate all firepower at one spot along the line. This can sometimes reduce an entire fortified position to rubble, creating a gap through which armor and infantry can quickly rush through.
Watch out though, if the British commander has chosen the Royal Artillery Support Company: his artillery can react to your fire, raining highly-accurate shells at your artillery. If this is the case, always remember to move your artillery back as soon as they're done firing their salvos, so that when the enemy fires back you are no longer there.
Alternately, consider massing your artillery to fire at the enemy's artillery positions in order to shut them down. That is, assuming his artillery is not placed too far back.
The British are strong defensively, but weak offensively. Their primary method of attack is to use masses of their medium tanks, sometimes accompanied by infantry, to raid your sectors and take them away. To make these raids effective, their units need to stay grouped together, supported by heavy artillery.
To reduce your casualties, try relying as little as possible on static defenses. These tend to get bombarded or out-flanked as soon as the British make contact with them, so they will eventually be pointless. Instead, field a large force made up of the most mobile units you have - including anything from light vehicles to heavy tanks. These need to be able to respond with haste to any move made by the British. If you promptly respond to an attack, you can surprise and encircle your enemy easily, crushing their entire offensive and forcing them to spend a long time rebuilding. You can use this time to punch through their defenses and wipe them out while they are recovering.
Also, keep a unit or two of repair-infantry close to (but not inside) your base. If the British bombard it, you'll want to be able to fix it quickly without having to retreat engineers all the way from your rally points. It will also help to keep your base structures are widely spaced as possible to avoid losing several structures in one artillery attack. Spread them out all over your HQ Territory. This has the added bonus of giving a larger radius in which to detect Commandos trying to move around your base to plant detectors.
It is important to stay up-to-date with the location of British emplacements and artillery. This is done by performing reconnaissance of the enemy's lines as often as possible.
Look for passageways protected only by a single emplacement, like a Vickers Machine Gun Emplacement or a Bofors 40mm Cannon. These can be breached by a tank column advancing straight through them. Alternately, you can look for 17 Pounder AT Guns guarding a passageway on their own, as infantry can often get close enough to destroy these with grenades, demolition charges or flame-throwers as available.
Naturally, the best possible result is to find a narrow passageway that the British enemy has failed to secure. During an attack, your units can rush straight for this gap, and while you may lose a few of them, the rest will be able to move through the gap and zoom straight into enemy territory.
The Wehrmacht will find reconnaissance easiest thanks to their Snipers. The only equivalent for the Panzer Elite is the Kettenkrad, though it only has camouflage abilities when selecting the Luftwaffe Tactics Doctrine. Otherwise, consider throwing Kettenkrads straight into the enemy lines in the hope that they'll make it far enough to reveal the extent of the defenses before they are destroyed. Infantry also works for this, but is obviously more expensive.
Once you've located the best place to attack the enemy (i.e. the weakest point in their line), amass a large number of heavy vehicles and infantry. Make sure to spread them across your territory to keep from being bombarded. When you're ready, quickly amass them about 50 or 60 meters in front of the weak spot, and make a powerful charge at it. Artillery can be used to soften that spot up further.
Keep driving. Don't stop to fire at enemy units or emplacements - just keep going through them. If you've picked a sufficiently weak spot, the majority of your force should be able to make it to the other side. Even if some of your units are damaged or destroyed, you will usually have enough forces remaining to continue your attack.
Once on the other side of the defensive line, start spreading out your forces, driving as deep into enemy territory as you can while doing so. Don't forget that most enemy emplacements can rotate to fire behind them, so you need to put distance between yourself and the enemy emplacements before this can happen.
Once you've put some distance there, you've already nearly won. From that point onward, you can begin to freely raid the entire enemy territory. Their mobile defenses are usually very weak (given the amount of Population Cap points they must spend on defensive emplacements) to not present much of a problem for your heavy units. A single King Tiger accompanied by a few support units can usually take on the entire British mobile defense, obliterate their tanks, and locate and destroy their Command Trucks.
While you're romping through enemy territory, keep producing units! Your new units may not be able to exploit the same breach (they might, if the enemy did not seal it quickly enough), but they will be needed to make sure the enemy does not attempt to suddenly exploit the lack of units on your side of the defensive line by attacking with his armor. Though, if he does try that, he's leaving his territory and command trucks exposed, so be sure to counter-exploit this!
If your infantry has nothing better to do, start capturing the enemy's sectors. Those sectors may be cut off from your supply lines, but they are at least denied to the enemy, and god knows the British need those resources. Also, taking sectors from the enemy reduces their Population Cap, forcing them to scuttle emplacements if they wish to produce more units to counter your attack.
Whatever happens, do not get close to their defensive line. As far as you're concerned, they can keep it. It saps their Population Cap, and since you're already behind it, it can't do you any further harm. Just make sure your breaching units do not go near the defensive line.
An alternate method of breaching involves creating two separate groups. One group exploits the weak spot in the enemy line by charging through it as described above. Then it starts engaging a nearby enemy emplacement from the rear. As that emplacement turns to fire at your breaching force, the second force charges at it, causing a sudden encirclement. If done properly with the right kind of units, you may be able to destroy an entire section of enemy defenses in a rapid manner, resulting in a large gap forming in the enemy lines. This gap can then be used to keep rushing in troops produced at your base straight into enemy territory.
From this point you can proceed either as outlined above (using your units to roam enemy territory and destroy everything he has) or continue enveloping and destroying enemy emplacements in a similar manner, by running both your forces up along the enemy's defenses and encircling them one at a time.
This tactic will surely cost a few units, but if you can keep up production you can easily overwhelm the British defenses. Once those defenses are down, the remaining British force is no match for the Axis, and will quickly succumb.
In Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts, the British play a part in both available Single-Player campaigns: The Liberation of Caen, and Operation Market Garden.
Liberation of Caen
The Liberation of Caen campaign covers four different operations carried out by British and Canadian forces as part of their attempt to take the city of Caen and pave the way for the Allied forces to break out of the beaches of Normandy. This campaign combines the real-life events surrounding Operation Windsor, Operation Charnwood, Operation Jupiter and Operation Goodwood. During this campaign, the British encounter opposition from various SS forces, represented in the game by the Wehrmacht faction (with several Panzer Elite units making guest appearances).
At the start of the Campaign, the British take the town of Authie, south-west of Caen, against light enemy resistance. They proceed to cross the river and capture the towns of Baron-sur-Odon and Tormauville on their way to the heavily-fortified Hill 112, as part of operation Jupiter (incorrectly referred to as "Operation Epsom" in the game). The British advance up the hill in the wake of a powerful "walking barrage". Once captured, a Scottish artillery battalion sets itself up on the hill to provide supporting fire for further operations.
Next up, British Commandos proceed to land in and around the Carpiquet airfield on the outskirts of Caen. Taking control of the area in front of he airfield, they link up with Canadian infantry to secure a line of fortifications outside the airfield's perimeter. The Germans launch a last-ditch counter-offensive in an attempt to break out of the base, but the British manage to push into the airfield and destroy the German bombers before they can take off. (In the real world, the SS forces evacuated the base overnight, leaving it to fall into Canadian hands with little fighting in the morning).
As Carpiquet airfield is being secured, the British receive word that the Scottish artillery on Hill 112 has been decimated by a German counter-attack. They return to the hill and fortify it and the bridges over the Odon river against a night-time German attack. Following a gruesome battle, the way to attack Caen itself is now clear.
As part of operation Charnwood, the British make their way into Caen, much of which had been reduced to rubble by a massive allied air raid. They establish a forward base in the ruins of the local castle, and begin pushing into the city. The Germans provide stalwart opposition by ambushing the British forces as they make their way through the rubble, and eventually the Allies must call in a second airstrike to remove an impenetrable line of German defenses. The British then proceed to take the majority of the city, and fortify it against the German night-time counter-attack, lead by heavy Tiger tanks.
With Caen now firmly in their grasp, the game skips a few days forward to the British attempt to secure the high ground south of the city, in Operation Goodwood. With a German Panzer Division parked on the ridge at Bourguébus, the British must capture the towns of Soliers and Fours, and hold them against a several powerful Panzer group charging down off the hill. They then take to the offensive, scaling the ridge and confronting the heavy Panzers protecting it.
With Bourguébus secured, the Allies have finally liberated the Caen region, and allied forces can now begin mustering an offensive to break out of Normandy and drive on towards Paris.
Operation Market Garden
During this campaign, the player controls the Panzer Elite Division known as "Panzer Lehr", as it struggles to protect a series of bridges in The Netherlands from an airborne British and American assault.
In this campaign the British are the enemy. Using para-dropped Commandos, they quickly secure several bridges, including the bridge over the Rhine. Another British and American force is making its way up from Belgium in an attempt to link all of the bridges together to form a single highway through The Netherlands and directly into North-West-Germany. Panzer Lehr division spends this entire campaign attempting to root out the British Commandos and halt the advancing armor before it can reach German lands.
Surprisingly, during the campaign, the British use very little of the strategies for which they've become notorious in the Skirmish and Multi-Player battles. They rely almost entirely on continuous flooding with both airborne troops and tank columns, rather than establishing defensive fortifications. The only time they are actually playing to their strength is during their defense of Arnhem, in which they use several captured German emplacements (especially 88mm Flak 36 AT/AA cannons). More often, you'll encounter British Royal Commandos Support troops, which can appear out of nowhere to disrupt your attacks.
For more information on this campaign, read the Panzer Elite article.