In Company of Heroes and its expansions, an Infantry unit is one comprised entirely of foot-mobile individual soldiers, each carrying his own personal weapon. This distinguishes them from Vehicles, which are engine-propelled, and from Weapon Teams, which carry weapons operated by more than one man. Infantry units often include more than one soldier, always moving and fighting together as a single team (an Infantry Squad). Infantry are usually slow and vulnerable, but quite versatile - they often possess several Combat Abilities, can take various upgrades, and may pick up abandoned specialty weapons from the battlefield. Infantry are expected to perform a wide variety of tasks, and be able to stand up to (if not defeat) most enemy units. Nonetheless, most infantrymen are considered expendable - stopping the enemy with their bodies as well as their guns.
Note: When a foot-mobile squad is operating a larger specialty weapon (like a Heavy Machine Gun or Anti-Tank Cannon), it is often referred to as a Weapon Team, and may obey different rules than the ones listed here.
- 1 Overview
- 2 The Infantryman
- 3 Infantry Squads
- 4 Health, Death and Reinforcement
- 5 Innate Abilities
- 6 Special Combat Rules
- 7 Infantry Weapons
- 8 The Machine Gun Team Question
|List of Infantry Units by Faction|
|American Infantry Squads|
|Wehrmacht Infantry Squads|
|British Infantry Squads|
|Panzer Elite Infantry Squads|
|* These units may or may not be considered Infantry, read more on this below.|
Infantry units are defined as being comprised of foot-mobile soldiers carrying hand-held weapons. This distinguishes them from Vehicles, which are propelled by engines, move on wheels or treads, and often carry much larger weapons (if any). It also distinguishes them from Weapon Teams, which are foot-mobile but centered around a large weapon that must be operated by more than one man.
Beyond this simple distinction, Infantry units also exhibit many other differences from Vehicles - in how they behave on the battlefield, the options available to them, and also the various rules they must obey that Vehicles do not.
First and foremost, Infantry are often arranged in "Squads", made up of several independent entities (called Infantrymen), who can fight, move and die on their own. The Squad is a permanent grouping of these Infantrymen, and they can only receive orders as a group - moving together, attacking together, etcetera. Losing one or more Infantrymen from a squad doesn't not kill the entire squad - in fact the lost men can be replaced by paying a nominal Manpower cost.
Infantry Squads have several innate abilities that they all possess by default. They can all capture Strategic Points to control territory, some faster than others. They can all be ordered to Retreat to HQ, an action which can save a unit from destruction but renders it uncontrollable for a short while. Finally, all Infantry Squads can Garrison neutral and friendly structures, to gain great protection from enemy fire. They can also "garrison" specific vehicles, called "Infantry Transports", which bestow similar protection and can move Infantry around the map much faster.
Infantry obey the game rules of Suppression and Cover. Suppression, caused by enemy fire, can render an Infantry unit incapable of fighting (and often easier to destroy), requiring special measures to avoid losing a squad to something as simple as fear. Cover, on the other hand, protects Infantry while they fight, reducing damage and the effects of Suppression. Infantry can enjoy several different types of cover. Using Infantry often utterly depends on finding good cover during any battle.
Finally, Infantry are pretty much defined by the weapons they carry. Each Infantryman carries a single, hand-held weapon - ranging from small pistols to huge rocket-launchers. Most Infantry units also have the ability to acquire better (or at least specialized) weapons either through upgrades or through picking up weapons abandoned by the enemy. Most squads can even capture abandoned Heavy Weapons, creating a new Weapon Team.
An Infantryman is a soldier, working and fighting on foot and carrying his own personal weapon. He is the basic element making up the Infantry unit.
Infantrymen carry their own personal weapons - anything as small as a pistol or as large as a rocket-launcher. For the most part, these weapons are good for killing other Infantrymen, though some personal weapons (again, like the rocket-launcher) can pose serious threat to larger targets or even buildings. If a weapon is so large that it must be operated by two or more Infantrymen, then it is classified as a team weapon, and the Infantrymen operating it may obey different rules than the ones listed here.
Infantrymen invariably wear little protection, usually no more than a helmet. As a result, they are extremely vulnerable to just about any weapon in the game. Bullets are naturally their worst enemy, making them weak against rapid-firing automatic weaponry, but flames and high explosives are equally deadly. The Infantryman's best defense is his size - he is a much smaller target than any vehicle, and therefore much harder to hit without precision weaponry.
Infantrymen are slow, as they need to walk or run to their target. The normal movement speed for Infantry is 3 meters per second, with most vehicles in the game being twice as fast if not more. However again, thanks to his size compared to vehicles, the Infantryman usually has no problem navigating around obstacles, through narrow passageways, or across narrow bridges.
Health-wise, Infantrymen are among the flimsiest objects in the game, with Maximum Health values often ranging between 55 and 70. This again means that any large weapon or explosion will kill an Infantryman on the spot - if it manages to hit at all.
Most (but not all) Infantry units are actually comprised of several individual soldiers, with some units having up to 6 members at any given time. These soldiers will move together, fight together, and overall behave as a single entity. It is only possible to give orders to the entire squad, not to any individual soldier in the squad. This is of course completely different from Vehicles, which are always individually-controllable.
Infantry squads can be very different in size and abilities. For example, the American Riflemen Squad is a 6-man unit armed with basic mid-range rifles, while the Wehrmacht Sniper is a "one man squad" armed with an accurate long-range rifle, and the British PIAT Commandos is a 3-man squad armed with anti-tank launchers. However, in all cases each of these squads behaves as a single entity, with the differences between them being primarily in size, armament, and special Combat Abilities.
Health, Death and Reinforcement
In Infantry Squads comprised of more than one soldier, each of these squad-members can be independently targeted, hurt and killed by enemy weapons. The game keeps track of the health of each soldier independently of the others, so that in theory one man can be killed while all other squad-members remain fine and healthy.
All factions have some method of returning Infantrymen to full health. Each faction handles this slightly differently, either through special abilities or through structures that regenerate health for all nearby soldiers. Some Infantrymen even have the innate ability to regenerate their health over time.
If a member of the Infantry Squad dies in battle, the squad is said to be "missing a man". This makes the unit weaker, because it now has one fewer weapon! To return the squad to its full combat effectiveness, the lost man must be replaced. This is called "reinforcing the squad".
Reinforcement can often take place near base structures, near the player's headquarters, near specialty units like the M3 Halftrack, or sometimes anywhere freely. The option to do so appears in the Infantry Squad's command menu, and is only enabled when the unit is within range of the appropriate reinforcement-providing facility or vehicle. Each click on the Reinforcement button will return a single lost man to the squad. Reinforcement is only possible if the squad is missing a man - no squad can be reinforced to be larger than it was when initially created, other than through use of Panzer Elite's squad expansion upgrade.
In all cases, reinforcing an Infantry Squad costs a certain amount of Manpower proportional to the original cost of the entire squad. Most commonly, the price is equal to about 1/2 of the value of a single Infantryman in the squad. For example: A Riflemen Squad costs 270 to create, and is comprised of 6 men. Each man is therefore worth 45 ( 270 / 6 = 45 ). Reinforcing a Riflemen Squad costs only 27 per man, a little more than half the worth of a single soldier. As a result, reinforcing is significantly cheaper than losing the entire squad and purchasing a brand new one.
If the squad loses all of its men, then the entire unit is considered "lost", and a completely new squad would need to be recruited in order to replace it. It is not possible to reinforce an entirely-destroyed squad - it doesn't exist anymore to be reinforced!
Naturally, one-man squads (such as a Sniper or Officer) cannot afford to lose any men, and cannot be reinforced at all. If this lone Infantryman is killed, he can only be replaced by recruiting an entirely new one for the same price back at the base.
Virtually all Infantry units possess three abilities that are not normally available to Vehicles or Weapon Teams. First, almost all infantry squads can capture Strategic Points. Second is the ability to Retreat back to headquarters. Lastly, the ability to Garrison a structure in order to gain its protection.
Capturing Strategic Points
Battles in Company of Heroes revolve largely around securing and holding Strategic Points, thereby receiving a constant income of resources from those points. Although (very) few Vehicles and Weapon Teams can capture Strategic Points given the proper conditions, virtually every Infantry unit can do so by default. In fact, Infantry are often expected to handle most of the sector-capturing duties throughout the battle.
To capture a sector, select an Infantry unit and right-click on a neutral or enemy-controlled Strategic Point. The unit will move to close proximity of that point and begin capturing it. While this is going on, the unit is largely unable to fire back at any assailants, and is often more vulnerable to damage as well.
Different Infantry units may have different capture rates. If 100% is the standard rate, Riflemen Squads capture points at a 150% rate, thus taking only 3/4 as long to do so as most other unit. Panzer Grenadiers capture at only 75% the normal rate, and so on.
Once a sector is captured, Infantry are often expected to fortify it - protecting it from enemy invasions. Available defensive construction options depend on the type of Infantry units, and some units have no such options at all. Some factions can "secure" a point by building an Observation Post on top of it, while others can mine or boobytrap the point to kill any enemy units coming to take it.
All Infantry units have a Combat Ability called "Retreat to HQ", visible in their action menu. Clicking on this ability will cause the entire squad to run back to your faction Headquarters, if one exists at all.
Retreats are used to rescue an Infantry unit from certain death, such as when facing a superior opponent and in risk of losing the entire squad. Remember that as long as the last man in a squad remains alive, the squad can be reinforced back to full strength for a much cheaper cost than purchasing an entirely new unit. A surviving squad also retains Veterancy, upgrades, and possibly any weapons it has picked up, giving extra incentive to retreat a squad that's about to be destroyed rather than leaving it to fight to the death.
Retreating a unit by using the Retreat command has several advantages and disadvantages compared to simply giving it an order to move back to the base or away from the battle. For one, once the Retreat button is pressed, the entire squad receives several bonuses:
- A significant speed bonus.
- All squad-members are significantly harder to hit.
- A large damage reduction from all weapons.
These bonuses persist while the unit is in retreat. As a result, the unit will reach your base much faster than it would just by running there, and is less likely to be destroyed by enemies during its escape - even those enemies who were firing on it when the Retreat order was given! In essence this further helps save the unit from destruction so that it can be reinforced back to full strength later on.
On the other hand, while an Infantry unit is retreating it is completely impossible to give that unit any orders. The unit will run straight to your headquarters along the shortest path it can find, and can do nothing else until it reaches its destination. You may not select the unit at all during this time. Also, the squad-members will not fire at any enemy while they are retreating. Control of the unit will only be regained once it reaches home base, though it will also be returned if the unit becomes unable to find a straight path to the HQ (such as when a crucial bridge becomes blocked or destroyed during the retreat).
One other important benefit to Retreating is its special effect of removing all Suppression from the unit and rendering it immune to further suppression effects for the duration of the retreat. Read more on Suppression below.
Infantry Squads possess the ability to enter neutral or friendly structures, an action called "Garrisoning". This is done by selecting the unit and right-clicking on a valid target structure. The Infantry Squad will move to the nearest doorway or entry point to that structure, and then each Infantryman will find a position in that structure from which he can see and fire out at enemy units.
Garrisoning a unit inside a structure gives it Structural Cover, an effect which significantly increases its survivability. The Infantrymen inside the structure become much harder to hit, receive significant damage reduction, and become completely immune to Suppression effects. Although some weapons (like flame-throwers) are specifically designed to kill Garrisoned Infantry, most weapons will have a much harder time killing the unit - or will at least take much longer to do so.
"Valid" structures for garrisoning include mostly neutral ("ambient") structures which are found on almost any map. The location of the building is not important (i.e. it can be inside enemy territory, as long as it is still a neutral building). Some factions can create garrisonable structures to offer artificial Structural Cover for their troops. Sometimes a structure will have an additional purpose (especially as an Active Defense).
Note that units from different factions cannot simultaneously garrison the same structure. As long as a unit is inside a building, units from other factions cannot enter it at all.
Any garrisonable structure has a limit on the number of squads that can garrison it simultaneously, as well as a limit on the number of individual infantrymen it can contain. For example, a structure may allow up to 2 units to garrison it at the same time, and no more than 6 men in total. This means you can put a single 6-man squad in, two 3-man squads, or any other similar combination that obeys the above limit.
While inside a structure, the garrisoned Infantrymen will automatically move between any available openings in order to fire at enemy units outside the building. For example, if a building has windows on all sides, the Infantrymen garrisoned inside may move between windows in order to fire at an enemy unit moving around the structure. The player cannot control this movement, it occurs naturally in order to provide as many squad-members a clear line of fire to any target that appears nearby.
Infantry may exit the garrisoned structure at any time. The structure's own command menu offers the ability to immediately "eject" all units garrisoned inside, and each individual unit's command menu offers you the option to exit the structure in a given direction (useful if the building has more than one door and you want to exit out a specific side, such as a back door, to avoid enemy fire).
If a building is destroyed while containing any Infantrymen, all these Infantrymen will instantly be killed. This is a risk you take when putting soldiers in a structure, and one of the reasons why a nearly-destroyed building should be avoided if possible.
Some Infantry units, especially American and Panzer Elite units, can convert a neutral structure into a command post by garrisoning it and activating a special ability. This will result in the building changing ownership to that faction. When that occurs, enemy Infantry can no longer garrison it - they would need to "un-convert" the building first (a process which takes some time), returning the building to "neutral" status.
- In addition to structures, some Vehicles can load one or more Infantry units in the same way. Garrisoning a vehicle may provide as much protection (or close to it) as a building. This also allows the vehicle to transport Infantry from one place to another.
- Depending on the type of vehicle used, the Infantry Squad loaded inside may or may not be able to keep firing at enemy units. Infantry firing from a vehicle is possible with all transports introduced in Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts. In the original game however, Infantry inside a transport vehicle cannot fire at all, until they are unloaded.
- Like garrisonable structures, transport vehicles have a hard limit on both the number of squads and the number of individual soldiers they can contain at any given time. Most transports are smaller than garrisonable structures, allowing fewer units and/or individuals.
- If a transport vehicle is destroyed, each individual soldier inside it at the time has a certain chance of surviving - immediately exiting the vehicle and returning to fighting-on-foot. The odds depend entirely on the properties of the transport vehicle itself, and are not affected by the type of Infantry it is carrying.
Special Combat Rules
Infantrymen have little or no protection from enemy fire other than the clothes on their backs and their pitiful steel helmets. Each Infantryman is extremely aware that even a stray bullet could seriously injure, if not kill him outright.
As a result, enemy fire can cause significant psychological stress on the Infantryman, who can practically feel the proximity of death during a firefight. The uncontrollable fear resulting from being exposed to enemy fire is called "Suppression", as it can cause the soldier to lose his functionality and become a quivering mess.
Suppression is caused whenever an Infantry Squad comes under fire from enemy weapons. Each bullet, shell or other munition fired at the squad causes a small amount of suppression to accumulate. When enough suppression has piled up, the unit will enter a state called "Suppressed", in which it loses some of its mobility and effectiveness as a fighting force. This is indicated by the unit's badge flashing yellow. Further fire at this unit can eventually lead to it becoming "Pinned Down", almost entirely immobile and unable to fight at all. This is indicated by the unit's badge flashing red.
Suppression applies only to Infantry and to some Weapon Teams. Again, each individual bullet or ammo fired at the unit will cause some suppression. The amount is based mostly on the type of weapon firing at the unit. For example, rapid-firing automatic weapons (like machine-guns) tend to cause a lot of suppression, as do large explosions like artillery or mortar shells. Tank shells often cause little if any suppression. A bullet doesn't need to hit the unit in order to suppress it - it only has to pass close enough!
When an Infantry squad becomes "Suppressed", its soldiers will immediately dive to the ground and attempt to find the nearest Cover (see below) if there is any (and if they aren't already behind cover, of course). Since they are now crawling, the Suppressed Infantrymen's speed is significantly reduced. Furthermore, since they are now primarily concerned with staying alive, these Infantrymen are much less effective at combating the enemy, suffering major penalties to accuracy when using their weapons.
A "Pinned-Down" unit is almost entirely useless: the soldiers may refuse to move altogether, and will probably not fire their weapons at all. This squad is effectively neutralized, and is not contributing to the battle at all. They are sitting ducks, and if they remain "Pinned-Down" for too long the enemy will eventually begin receiving damage bonuses and will annihilate them!
Fortunately, Suppression is not a permanent effect; it will dissipate over time if the enemy stops firing at this unit. Therefore, to return a unit from "Pinned-Down" or "Suppressed" state to normal combat effectiveness it is necessary to stop the enemy from firing at them. This is usually achieved by destroying the enemy unit, driving it off, or drawing its fire in another direction. After a few seconds of peace the "Suppressed" unit will begin returning to normal combat readiness.
Other methods of eliminating suppression include the use of Combat Abilities (like the American Airborne Squad's "Fire-Up" ability), or by simply retreating the unit to base using the "Retreat" command (see above).
More important is the effect of Cover, as explained below: a unit behind cover suffers significantly less suppression than one in the open, and Infantry units garrisoning a structure or a vehicle are entirely immune to suppression!
"Cover" is the use of natural or artificial obstacles to protect an Infantry unit from damage. Although some Vehicles can benefit from cover in certain situations, it is Infantry who make the best use of it, and whom the game actively encourages you to put in cover whenever possible.
Cover comes in many forms and shapes, and in many degrees and varieties. Bushes, fences, walls, trees, piles of crates, haystacks, shell craters, among others, provide "naturally-occuring" cover. Sand Bags are the most common "artificial" cover, placed down by the player to provide his units with protection. As discussed above, buildings also provide some very good cover for troops garrisoned inside. Even the lack of cover (i.e. completely exposed terrain) carries certain combat effects.
Regardless of the physical object providing the cover, objects are separated into categories depending on how much cover they provide. From "worst" to "best", they are:
- Negative Cover
- No Cover
- Light Cover
- Heavy Cover
- Structural Cover
The degree of cover a unit is in determines several factors:
- How easy it is to hit the unit at all.
- How much damage this unit receives from enemy fire.
- How much Suppression is suffered due to enemy fire.
The better the cover, the better the benefits.
When walking around, Infantry units are usually in No Cover. This means that they are "normally" easy to hit, receive 100% damage from any attack, and receive full suppression effects from enemy fire.
Light Cover usually includes flimsy objects like wooden fences and such which partially conceal an Infantryman, making him slightly harder to hit. These objects may also block some of the damage, reducing it by a small amount. However, being flimsy, this cover does nothing to bolster the soldier's confidence regarding enemy fire, and thus has no real effect on received suppression. To receive the benefits of Light Cover, the soldier must stand right next to the concealing object.
Heavy Cover is more significant, and often comes in the form of solid objects like large trees or man-made cover like Sand Bags. It makes a soldier harder to hit, reduces any damage he takes, and gives him confidence against Suppression. To receive the benefits of Heavy Cover, the soldier must stand right next to the blocking object.
Structural Cover, being the best type of cover, is acquired only when the Infantry Squad garrisons a building or Vehicle (see above). It provides the best bonuses to make the entire squad harder to hit and significantly reduces damage to it. It also makes the squad completely immune to suppression effects. The unit must be inside the structure or vehicle to receive Structural Cover - hiding behind it does not work.
Finally, there's Negative Cover. This indicates that the unit is completely in the open, exposed to any enemy fire that may rain down upon it, with nowhere to hide at all. This essentially increases the enemy's chance of hitting the unit, increases damage to the unit, and also increases suppression since the soldiers rightly feel very exposed. Negative Cover almost always occurs on major roadways or other completely-flat or elevated terrain.
The type of cover an Infantry unit is in is indicated on the unit's tag, using the icons above. Structural Cover is not indicated - but of course you know the unit is in such cover whenever it is garrisoned in a structure or vehicle. No Cover is also not indicated, so you can assume the unit is not in cover if it is outside and no other icon appears.
Also, when issuing a movement order to a unit, colored circles will appear on the ground at the designated target to show the quality of cover each man will receive. Note that this belies an important factor: each Infantryman in a squad may receive a different amount of cover. The icon on the unit tag will only give a rough average of the amount of cover this unit is receiving - one or more men may actually be receiving more or less cover than this (or even none at all). Micro-management can ensure that all soldiers in a squad are equally benefiting from cover, but this may be too much to ask when a battle is raging.
Note that Cover is never absolute - it can get destroyed during combat, turning into No Cover. For example, mortar fire will usually reduce Sand Bags or walls to rubble, turning Heavy Cover into No Cover. Destroying Structural Cover will usually kill some or even all of the units garrisoned inside...
As explained earlier in this article, one of the defining traits of the Infantry Squad is that each member of the squad carries his own personal weapon. These are often called "Light Weapons" or "Small-Arms", and come in many varieties, ranging from pistols to light-machine-guns to anti-tank launchers. They define the basic combat capabilities of the Infantryman, and by extension the capabilities of the squad he is a part of.
Furthermore, many Infantry Squads can receive manually-purchased upgrades that will change the types of personal weapons they are carrying. For example, a unit carrying rifles might be upgraded with an SMG or rocket launcher package, outfitting some or all of the squad members with these new weapons. As a result, the entire squad's combat usefulness can change radically, making it better against some targets or in some situations, and worse in others. This versatility is part of what makes Infantry Squads so interesting and complex.
Even more interesting is the ability of most Infantry Squads to pick up abandoned weapons from the battlefield. You will often run across Light Machine Guns, AT launchers, etc., left behind by dead enemy or friendly squads. Right-clicking on such a weapon while a (valid) Infantry Squad is selected will order the unit to pick up that weapon, which will then be automatically outfitted to one of the squad-members and used thereafter in battle.
In the same manner, most Infantry Squads can also pick up abandoned team weapons (large weapons operated by more than one infantryman). When this occurs, the Infantry Squad will "split up", with some of its members forming a new Weapon Team centered around this captured gun.
Each Infantry Squad has a basic set of weapons it carries when initially recruited. For example, the American Riflemen Squad is outfitted with 5x M1 Garand rifles and 1 M1 carbine by default, meaning that each man in the squad will carry one such rifle when the squad is first recruited.
Different Infantry unit types may have very different default weapons. A good example of unique default weapons is the Sniper's long-range scoped rifle, which is significantly superior to any other rifle in the game, or the Ranger Squad which comes with two M9 Bazooka rocket-launchers and several regular rifles by default.
Sometimes it's possible to recruit a unit with a specific default loadout. For example, the Panzer Elite have their Assault Grenadier Heavy Infantry and Tank Buster Heavy Infantry, which are basically Panzer Grenadiers with a different default weapon loadout (MP44s for the Assault Grenadiers, Panzerschrecks for the Tank Busters).
Note that each and every member of an Infantry unit is armed with his own weapon, and will use this weapon independently. It's quite possible for one member of the squad to be firing at some enemy within his sight-range, while the other team-members are slightly too far away to fire theirs (or simply have no line-of-sight to any target).
Weapon Package Upgrades
The majority of Infantry Squads can receive upgrades, purchased manually by the player, which will change the unit's weapons by outfitting them with new weapons and/or combat gear.
These are commonly called "weapon upgrade packages". They are often purchased for a specific Munitions cost by selecting them from a unit's own command menu, or purchased globally from a base structure for Manpower and/or Fuel. In either case, such upgrades will replace one or more of the team's basic weapons (see above) with the new equipment.
"Individual" weapon upgrade packages, such as the Wehrmacht's MP44 upgrade, are purchased for individual units. In other words, if you wish two units to have this upgrade, you must purchase it for one unit and then for the other, separately, paying for each upgrade. If additional units are recruited, you'll need to purchase upgrades for them as well, paying each time.
Units often have several options for individual weapon package upgrades, which are almost always mutually-exclusive. Each upgrade will outfit the unit with a different set of weapons, making it more suitable for a specific role on the battlefield. A good example is the British Infantry Section, which can be outfitted with either a scoped Lee-Enfield rifle, a pair of Bren Light Machine Guns, or a pair of Rifle Grenade Launchers - each of these making the unit specialized in one form of combat thanks to the weapons it adds. Once a weapon upgrade package is purchased, it can not be removed or replaced.
Multiple units can receive the same exact upgrade if you so wish, though in general it is a good idea to outfit several units with different gear, to maximize combat versatility. For example, create three Infantry Sections and give each a different upgrade from the ones listed above, to make a group of three squads that can handle a wide variety of threats.
"Global" weapon upgrade packages are much simpler, but less common among the different factions. These upgrades are bought by selecting the appropriate base-structure (usually the one that produces the unit that will end up receiving this upgrade) and pressing the upgrade's button. Once the upgrade is complete, all existing and future eligible units will receive the appropriate weapon package. A good example is the American Riflemen Squad, which can receive the BAR upgrade from the Barracks - outfitting each existing and future Riflemen Squad with a pair of these assault rifles. No further purchases are necessary.
Abandoning Infantry Weapons
Whether they receive them by default or through the purchase of weapon package upgrades, Infantry Squads can sometimes lose their weapons as the men die in combat. This is true only for specialty weapons, especially rocket-launchers and light machine guns, and even then not for all of them.
When an Infantryman carrying a "droppable" specialty weapon is killed, the game checks to see if there are any remaining squad members in his squad who are still carrying their "basic" weapons (i.e. basic rifles, basic SMGs, etc.). If there is at least one such squad member, that squad member will automatically pick up the fallen specialty weapon and equip it. Otherwise, the game runs a test of luck to see whether the specialty weapon is dropped to the ground.
If a drop occurs, the weapon will appear on the ground surrounded by a white icon, indicating that it is "abandoned". The unit that lost this weapon has done so permanently - unless they manage to reinforce and pick the weapon back up.
If the weapon was not dropped during the random luck test, the unit is said to have kept the weapon "in principle". In other words, the weapon will reappear once the unit is reinforced - the first reinforcement for this squad will yield a new man carrying this weapon. Again, if the team lost its specialty weapon(s), any new reinforcements will be carrying basic weapons instead.
If a squad is entirely wiped out while still holding a specialty weapon (i.e. no drop occurred), the weapon is lost forever.
Once again, note that most basic weapons (e.g. rifles, pistols, and SMGs) can never be dropped in this manner, and that many specialty weapons or gear are also non-droppable. For example, an American Engineer Squad outfitted with a flamethrower weapon package will never lose its flamethrowers, no matter how many of its men are killed and reinforced.
Finally, note that "abandoned" weapons are physical objects, and as such can be destroyed. This often occurs when the area is shelled with artillery or otherwise comes under heavy attack. A destroyed abandoned weapon is gone forever. Be sure to pick up fallen weapons quickly, not only to avoid them being lost, but also to prevent enemy Infantry from picking them up.
Picking up Abandoned Infantry Weapons
Most Infantry Squads are capable of picking up any abandoned Infantry Weapon they come across. This is done by selecting the unit and right-clicking on the fallen gun.
Once the weapon is picked up, it is immediately equipped by one of the squad members - any squad member who was previously holding a "basic" weapon. He will use the new weapon from now on, until such time that it is permanently lost for any reason, or the squad is wiped out completely.
In order to pick up any weapon, the squad needs to have an appropriate number of Open Weapon Slots, as explained below.
Open Weapon Slots
Each Infantry Squad has a property called "Open Weapon Slots". You can imagine this as the size of the squad's available inventory space, or how much space it has for equipping new weapons to replace its basic ones.
Each weapon (and even other gear) in the game takes up a certain number of slots. Most weapons take up 1 slot each, while larger weapons (like rocket-launchers) often take up 2.
In order to be eligible for a weapon package upgrade, or for picking up an abandoned Infantry Weapon, the squad must have the required number of Open Weapon Slots available. For example, to pick up an MG42 Light Machine Gun, a squad needs to have at least 1 Open Weapon Slot available at the time. If they do not have an open slot, the pickup cursor will be crossed out, and no pickup is possible.
Weapon Package Upgrades require a certain minimum number of open slots - otherwise they become unavailable. If the upgrade gives the unit more than one weapon, then it will usually give as many weapons as the open slots allow. For example, Ranger Squads can be outfitted with up to 4 Thompson SMGs, each requiring a single Open Weapon Slot. If the squad only has 3 slots (due to previously picking up some abandoned weapon from the field), only 3 SMGs will be added to its inventory.
Occupied Weapon Slots can only be freed up by losing a weapon in combat, as explained above. When a weapon is dropped, it will free up the appropriate number of Weapon Slots it used to occupy. If the squad is completely outfitted with specialty weapons that occupy Weapon Slots but are not droppable (for example the Panzer Elite StG44s), then it will never have any Open Weapon Slots again - new reinforcements will always be carrying the same weapons as casualties were.
Picking up Abandoned Team Weapons
Weapon Teams can also lose their weapons. This occurs when the unit's crew is lost without the weapon itself being destroyed, for example when a Sniper eliminates the crew one by one. Similarly to Infantry Weapons, the abandoned Team Weapon will remain on the battlefield with a white icon indicating that it is not occupied.
Most Infantry Squads can re-capture such weapons. This is done in the same way as picking up an abandoned Infantry Weapon: by selecting the Infantry Squad and right-clicking on the abandoned gun.
The re-capture of a Team Weapon requires a minimum number of men in the squad - usually two. If the squad has less than the required number of men, it cannot capture the weapon.
Unlike Infantry Weapon pickups, the newly captured weapon is not added to the team's inventory. Instead, the team will split up, creating two teams: one containing any remaining members of the original team, and a second one centered on the newly captured weapon. For example, imagine a full, 5-man Volksgrenadier Squad coming across an abandoned M1 57mm Anti Tank Gun. When they capture the gun, three of the men from the squad will split off, creating a new M1 57mm Anti Tank Gun team, while the original Volksgrenadier Squad remains with only 2 men.
The game will always try to crew a captured weapon with as many men as it can take. Most Weapon Teams are 3-man teams, so it will move three men from the original squad to this new Weapon Team if they are available. If the original squad had 2 or 3 men, it will cease to exist: you will now only have the new Weapon Team, crewed by as many men as you had before. If the original team still exists, it can be reinforced as normal back to its full size.
One important thing to note however is that the men crewing this new weapon are still the same men. This means that they retain their Health, Maximum Health, Infantry Type, and any Veterancy bonuses they've already acquired. The weapon itself, however, is usually not affected by the type of infantry that captured it.
The Machine Gun Team Question
When studying the difference between Infantry and Weapon Teams, it appears that Machine Gun crews, like the American M1917 Browning Heavy Machine Gun Team or Wehrmacht MG42 Heavy Machine Gun Team can fit either definition. So where does it belong?
To answer this, let's look at these squads' characteristics as they correspond with the two categories.
|Properties similar to an Infantry Squad||Properties similar to a Weapon Team|
Overall, it seems that these units straddle the line almost perfectly. Therefore we need to fall back to the most basic definition of the two categories. When we do this, we see that an HMG team is definitely an Infantry Squad, because each of its squad members has his own weapon. Team weapons are, after all, defined on this wiki as being operated by more than one man - and this is not the case here.
So the bottom line is that HMG teams are Infantry Squads. But if you're not satisfied with this, feel free to consider them a Weapon Team if you want - the definitions are only valid inside this wiki anyway, to make things simpler to understand. As can be seen above, the lines are not so clearly drawn in the game, which actually makes little distinctions between units category-wise.