|Weapons Support Center|
The Weapons Support Center
|Role||Support Infantry production structure|
|Unit Cost||180, 15|
|Produced By||Engineer Squad|
|Production XP||+16 xp|
The Weapons Support Center is a low-tier base structure built by the American army in Company of Heroes. It produces several small infantry support weapon squads, all specializing in anti-infantry combat. They include the Heavy Machine Gun Team, Mortar Team and Sniper. Though it can be built immediately, the units it produces are difficult to use on their own, and often require coordination with vehicles or Riflemen Squads to achieve good combat performance. In the hands of a skilled player, the Weapons Support Center provides extremely useful early-game firepower.
One of the buildings that can be constructed by the Americans at the start of a battle is the Weapons Support Center. Its only purpose is production, and the units it produces constitute a large part of the American army's support force. They augment Riflemen Squads with the additional firepower necessary to assert their control over captured territory, and carry the fight to the enemy. Without them, Riflemen Squads will quickly become overwhelmed by the enemy's early-game vehicles or heavy infantry units.
The Weapons Support Center is built by Engineer Squads, for the price of 180, 15. Like other American base structures it is simply a tent set up in a sand-bag enclosure, though it has a tall radio mast affixed to its center. As a base structure it can only be placed inside the American HQ territory.
The Weapons Support Center produces three different units: The Heavy Machine Gun Team, Mortar Team and Sniper. These are predominantly anti-infantry units, though each is used in a completely different manner. They share one thing in common: they are all vulnerable on their own, and require team-work with each other and/or Riflemen Squads produced by the Barracks to achieve any lasting impact.
The Weapons Support Center has no other function except to produce these troops. As a result, some players will find that by the later game, the structure is no longer required, especially if the player focuses on vehicle-based tactics. Nonetheless, the units produced here can have significant impact in the early game.
A Weapons Support Center is therefore constructed early on in the battle. Some players prefer to construct it before a Barracks, using these units to dominate the battlefield until Riflemen Squads or vehicles become available. Novice players should hold off construction of a Weapons Support Center until they can stabilize the battlefield. Alternatively, a Forward Barracks can fulfil the production role of either of the buildings not produced, particularly the Weapons Support Center as it cannot research Global Upgrades for the Rifleman. It would also help units reinforce further away from the HQ.
The Weapons Support Center is all about production of three units: Heavy Machine Gun Teams, Mortar Teams and Snipers. These three support infantry squads can augment Riflemen Squad operations, or work with each other to achieve battlefield superiority during the early stages of the game. Each unit works in a different manner, but they are all predominantly anti-infantry squads.
The Heavy Machine Gun Team is a 3-man squad carrying an M1917 Heavy Machine Gun. Two squad members are armed with M1 Carbine semi-automatic rifles, while the third is charged with operating the machine gun itself.
Additionally, the machine gun can be temporarily loaded with Armor Piercing Rounds, allowing it to easily penetrate the armor of enemy light and medium vehicles. A few bursts from the machine gun can then damage or destroy most such vehicles with little effort. Unfortunately, this does not help against tanks or other heavy vehicles.
On the downside, the machine gun requires a few moments to set up (and dismantle) and can only traverse in a limited forward arc. Although the two other squad members can fire at targets flanking the machine gunner, this still leaves the sides and rear quite vulnerable to enemy attacks. In the worst case scenario, the gunner can be told to pack up and rotate his line of fire, but this takes time and exposes the unit to enemy fire from other directions. This means that a Heavy Machine Gun Team should always be protected by other units or set up in a position without open flanks.
Heavy Machine Gun Teams often operate in close coordination with Riflemen Squads or even Flamethrower-equipped Engineer Squads. While the machine gun suppresses the enemy to keep them in place, the other unit flanks or closes in to destroy the enemy.
The Mortar Team is a 3-man unit carrying an M2 60mm mortar. Two of the men are charged with operating the mortar itself, while the third man is equipped with an M1 Carbine semi-automatic rifle.
Mortars are not expected to come face-to-face with the enemy. Instead, they will set up at some distance or behind some obstacle, and shell the enemy repeatedly. The shells are quite dangerous to infantry, especially stationary infantry, and can even do some damage to enemy vehicles on direct hits.
Because of their slow firing rate and general lack of accuracy, Mortar Teams will not survive in direct combat. Instead, they need other units to engage an enemy first, which allows the Mortar Team to then shell the enemy from a distance. If the enemies are suppressed or hiding behind cover, the Mortar Team can then zero in and eliminate them.
Additionally, Mortar Teams can fire smoke shells to conceal friendly units' movement, or otherwise protect friendly units during combat. Judicial use of smoke can allow an infantry unit to close in with an enemy, buy time for a machine gun to set itself up, or even allow flanking maneuvers that would otherwise put units in danger.
If two of the Mortar Team's crewmen are killed, the third man will automatically die - leaving the mortar itself as an abandoned weapon which other infantry units (friend or foe) can then pick up.
The Sniper team consists of just one man - an elite infantryman armed with an M1903 scoped rifle. An expert in clandestine operations and accurate long-range fire, the Sniper is a deadly and stealthy infantry unit, though a very expensive one.
Snipers can camouflage themselves whenever they desire, moving freely around or between enemy units. He is only detected when firing his weapon or when enemy units come too close to his position. Otherwise, he can remain undetected for long periods of time, even inside enemy territory.
Though camouflage makes this a great scouting and spotting unit, the Sniper's true ability lies in his accurate weapon. He can easily hit units at a great distance - and a single hit will usually kill an enemy infantryman outright. Few soldiers will survive that first shot.
Unfortunately, Snipers are slow to aim and reload their weapons, which means that they rarely get the chance to kill entire enemy units. Instead they either play hide-and-seek with an enemy force, harassing and confusing the enemy, or lend their firepower to assist other units by reducing enemy numbers during a firefight. Nonetheless, Snipers tend to favor working alone - inside enemy territory if possible - to achieve their best results.
The only manually-activated ability of the Weapons Support Center is the ability to reinforce infantry units in its vicinity.
- Costs vary based on reinforced unit
- Activation: Through the target unit's menu
- Duration varies based on reinforced unit
Any infantry squad within 25 meters of the Weapons Support Center can replenish lost men for a specific cost and duration determined by the type of unit being reinforced.
Note that this building does not heal wounded infantry. For this you'd need to construct a Triage Center nearby.
The Weapons Support Center is a tricky base structure, because it produces units that are not very effective on their own. The dilemma lies both in the decision of when to construct this building (if at all) and which units to produce from it.
Most players prefer holding off this structure until they have several Riflemen Squads already on the field, and require support units to boost the effectiveness of those riflemen. This gives the American army some staying power during the mid-early portion of the battle, when Riflemen Squads become increasingly less capable at holding off advanced enemy forces - especially vehicles.
Some players prefer constructing this building straight away, even before a Barracks can be built. This is a bold tactical move, and requires a good understanding of how Weapons Support Center units can cooperate to achieve dominance over the battlefield. Other players will skip this building altogether, preferring to reach vehicle production sooner and thus maintain dominance through sheer firepower.
In any case, learning how and when to produce the Weapons Support Center and its units can turn a mediocre American player into a formidable one.
Very Early Production
If the player chooses to construct a Weapons Support Center first, he is committing himself to a bloody fight throughout the entire opening phase of the game. It's a risky move, but with possibly high payoffs.
The idea is to create one or more groups constituted of a Heavy Machine Gun Team coupled with a Flamethrower-equipped Engineer Squads, and possibly a Mortar Team if resources allow. Each such group heads out to secure forward territories, which it can then hold rather firmly against most enemies.
In a firefight, the HMG Team opens fire on the enemies, while the Engineers either protect their flanks or maneuver to kill the enemy while they're suppressed. If enemy vehicles are detected, the HMG team can use armor-piercing rounds to take them out. Mortar Teams provide artillery support for this operation.
Once an enemy unit is cleared, the group can then entrench or advance as required. The general idea is to push the enemy back sector by sector, until they no longer have a territorial advantage. If you can manage to keep this up until vehicles become available to you, the financial and strategic advantage can save a lot of trouble during the mid-game where Americans are relatively weak. It can buy a lot of time to erect fortifications with your engineers too.
The trade-off is that this is quite risky. You'll be using expensive yet fragile units, and an experienced enemy will know how to tackle this sort of tactic - causing you to waste resources. Therefore, this is recommended only for experienced players who know how to manipulate the specific map they're playing on. Otherwise, construct a Barracks first, as explained below.
If the Weapons Support Center is constructed second (after the Barracks), by the time it begins producing units you'll already have several Riflemen Squads operating in the field - probably repelling enemy units and attempting to keep a strong defensive line. The introduction of the Weapons Support Center's unit will augment their strength, allowing you to either field a stronger defensive force or push forward into enemy territory.
Heavy Machine Gun Teams work well with Riflemen Squads. The Heavy Machine Gun is set up to begin suppressing enemy units, who will quickly take cover and be unable to effectively shoot back. This gives the Riflemen Squad time to flank and destroy the enemy, in a classic fire-and-maneuver drill. Again, Mortar Teams can also use the opportunity to bombard the enemy, and Snipers can kill the enemy even behind Heavy Cover or in Structural Cover.
While your Engineer Squads are busy constructing defenses, particularly cordoning off areas where you don't intend to expand just yet, the combind riflemen/support teams can venture into enemy territory and begin grabbing sectors. Don't over-stretch: try to invade high-profile sectors, and use these combined forces to hold them against enemy counter-attacks to buy time for your Engineer Squads to finish their work. You can then either fortify the new sectors and attempt to advance further, or fall back to the now-completed defensive positions to repel enemy units while working your way up to the Motor Pool and Tank Depot.
Later on, once American vehicles begin rolling off the production lines, the importance of infantry support units declines rapidly.
In particular, Heavy Machine Gun Teams become obsolete once you get upgraded M3 Halftracks which can slaughter enemy infantry with ease (and cost only marginally more). Unless the enemy is running wild with anti-tank units, you'll want to replace all your HMG Teams with these Halftracks.
Mortar Teams lack the firepower to do serious damage to medium or heavy vehicles, though they can still provide good, accurate fire against infantry garrisoned inside buildings and smoke barrages to protect your own troops. A single Mortar Team can probably handle all the work you'll need.
Snipers, however, remain very useful. You probably will only get the resources to recruit them in the mid-game stage anyway, and now is the time when they become truly useful - as spotters rather than killers. Their camouflage and sight-range allow them to scout ahead, figure out enemy positions, monitor enemy movement, and most importantly clear the fog of war to allow application of certain abilities - particularly artillery barrages and air-raids. On occasion, a Snipers who locates an exposed enemy infantry unit can take a few shots - especially at valuable enemy troops like the Wehrmacht Officer or the expensive Panzer Elite infantry. Just try not to get caught.
The Weapons Support Center, like all other American structures, is quite flimsy. It can quickly be destroyed by any enemy tank or flamethrower unit reaching your base, and a single accurate artillery shelling may take it out. Although the building is cheap, you should do your best to avoid losing it.
Keep an Engineer Squad near your base at all times if possible, to perform repairs when necessary.