There are 17 maps available in the current build of Company of Heroes Online, the free-to-play version of one of our favourite strategy games. They range from brisk 2 player skirmishes to brain melting 8 player battles. These maps are mostly taken from the original game, and have played host to many memorable war stories. I've taken an in depth look at a few of my favourites, so you'll know what to expect when you boot up Company of Heroes Online for the first time.
The tranquil farmlands of Angoville are a good place for a short brutal fight. This map forces you to wage two different types of warfare in a fairly small space.
To the east a cluster of buildings surround two nearby victory points that play host to some close, bloody scraps. This is a style of warfare modern British armed forces call FISH and CHIPS. Fighting In Someone's House and Causing Havoc In People's Streets. It's tight, fast and, if you're not in a building holding a heavy machine gun, very bad for your health. The lack of dominant structures means that expensive snipers probably aren't worth the cost on Angoville, it's much more effective to get a heavy machine gunner squad into an advanced building early on to suppress enemy infantry as the try to get into position.
Then there's the western half of the map. Here lie the open rolling green fields of death, featureless but for a solitary victory point surrounded by nothing but bushes. In Company of Heroes, as indeed in real war, bushes don't stop bullets, so building cover is essential if you want your infantry to survive long enough to get run over by a tank. The Americans have the advantage in the wide open areas, their greater numbers in the early game allow them to flank encroaching Axis forces. Once the victory point is secured, sandbag walls can be set up in the surrounding area to create devastating crossfires across the fields.
There's one more thing to consider: fuel. It's the most rare and most essential resource in Company of Heroes Online, and it's worth dying for. Small amounts of Fuel will be provided by low yield points close to your base on most maps, the important points are the high yield ones, often located in very dangerous positions. On Angoville the player holding the wide open western side has an easier time defending the point itself, but the territory linking the point to base is more exposed. Cutting off the enemy's supply of fuel can be the key to victory, because without fuel you can't build tanks. If you have tanks and your opponent doesn't, you're at a huge advantage.
Achelous River, 2v2
This is one of my favourite maps, it's just so brilliantly contrived. Axis and Allies take up positions opposite each other on the wide northern and southern sections. Between them there lie three square islands connected by bridges, and all the bridges are broken. The question is, which bridge should be repaired first?
There are three victory points on this map, but there might as well only be one. The northern and southern points will likely stay capped for the duration of the fight, the real battle is for the control point that stands in the middle of the central island.
The temptation is to go straight for the central point, but this can backfire, as it opens up a corridor straight into your base. The eastern and western islands are key, because they present excellent flanking opportunities once the linking bridges are repaired. They also have gallons of sweet, tank sustaining fuel. The low yield fuel points on the central islands will change hands too often to make them reliable, but the flanking islands are easier to hold. Converting a building on one of these islands into a forward base will let you get troops into the central melee much faster.
The large buildings that dominate the central island mean it's FISH and CHIPS again in the middle. A couple of Engineer or Pioneer squads with flame-throwers can get into the central buildings and ruin everyone's day. There's also a large church nearby that's just begging to play home to a sniper. It's also worth noting that mortars can easily fire across the gaps between islands. If you don't hold the an area it's possible to sneak a spotter in and devastate infantry build-ups with a well placed barrage.
Hill 331, 3v3
I don't know what's going on at the other 330 hills, but I'm going to assume they're doing okay. Hill 331, however, is not
We've had the two different kinds of warfare with Angoville, and the segmented, strategic battle at Achelous river, but those maps can keep their fancy cross fire zones and urban warfare, this map has has something that those maps can never have: a bloody great big hill.
There's something reassuringly uncomplicated about this map. There's a huge mound in the middle with a victory point on top, well protected by rings of sturdy cover. To the east and west there are another couple of victory points, secreted away in narrow, forested areas.
As you might expect, whoever gets to the top of the hill first is going to have an easier time of things. There's tons of cover and just enough room to sneak a Halftrack in next to the point, which can be used to mow down enemy infantry charges and reinforce entrenched heavy machine gunners. Engineers with flamers manning the outer rings will do terrible things to enemy squads trying to charge up the hill. For attackers, long range mortar bombardments and bombing runs are the best way to shake loose enemy forces.
The eastern and western victory points have very similar layouts, the tree lines presenting narrow corridors of entry to the clearing the holds the Victory point. There are a few scraps of cover in the form of toppled tree trunks and the like, but the area is by no means secure. A good way to defend the points is to flank enemies as they enter the forest.
Final point of interest, there's a large road that runs around the base of the hill that's mostly can't be seen from the top of the hill, so AT guns you station there won't be able to take care of enemy armour charging to attack the eastern and western points. Mine the roads to give your foe a nasty surprise.
Route N13, 4v4
Route number 13, unlucky for everybody. This huge 8 player meat grinder of a map is so violent and intense that finishing it makes me want to go and lie down somewhere quiet for a while.
What's so terrifying about this map, you ask? Well, let's see. There's the long highway of doom that draws a straight line from the four Allied generals to the four Axis generals, and right in the middle there's the tiny square of doom, containing a cruelly placed victory point. Matches on Route N13 often see both sides throwing everything at the central point for half an hour in a horrifying, hour long war of attrition. There are a few buildings just south of the victory point that make a great forward base. Given the number of casualties likely to occur in the central area, it's useful to have a medical station hidden nearby. Given enough time, medics will drag wounded troops off the field and throw them back into battle as fully formed squads.
Then, heading south west, there's the gloomy swamp (of doom). The key philosophy for defenders here is “if they want this victory point so bad, they can damn well swim for it!” Having heavy machine gunners cover the approaching land bridges or, even better, wiring them off with barbed wire, will force attackers into the swamp water where they'll move at reduced speed and are so exposed they'll count as being in negative cover. It's not all happiness and sunshine for swamp defenders, though. There's no cover at all out there, so structures and DIY defences are the key to survival. Axis bunkers are the perfect way to guard the southern victory point.
Finally to the north east, at the top of a steep incline, we have the pleasant suburban mansion … of doom. As with the wide control points on Hill 331, there are a lot of narrow, exposed approaches to the mansion that can be mined and covered with machine gunners and AT guns, the grounds of the mansion itself have plenty of cover and a sniper in the mansion itself will cover the point nicely.