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Attrition - the Forgotten Third Gamemode - an Essay

30 Apr 2023, 11:24 AM
#1
avatar of donofsandiego

Posts: 1287

Attrition
the Forgotten Third Gamemode
an Essay
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After playing CoH for hundreds or even thousands of hours, I think that most people feel their enthusiasm towards the game start to wane. At least, that's what I, personally, have experienced. It doesn't help that I tend to tire of games a bit faster than most. At the same time, though, I tend to stick to the things that I know or am comfortable with.

As a result, I'm familiar with of a lot of methods to bring back the "spark" to CoH; one way is to simply leave the game until I'm "in the mood" for it once again, another way is scouring the steam workshop for interesting and engaging new maps to play, but the one I personally find to be the most effective is changing the way the game is played entirely. Gamemodes, of course, are what I'm referring to.

I've tried many of them. Some of my personal favorites are modes geared towards providing for more fun and engaging PVE, such as the Horde Defense mod, which sees a human Axis team pitted against ever increasing waves of Allied infantry and armor while at the same time unlocking abilities and boosts to their units that make them nigh unstoppable by the end of a match, or
the (admittedly, blandly named) Zombies 1.12.6 mod, which--as you can guess--pits human players against zombies. The humans have some tricks up their sleeves, though, like silly sci-fi Wunderwaffen such as flying armored zepplins with flamethrowers and massive landships that shoot beams of electricity at the zombie hordes.

On the other hand, I can't leave out the PVP modes close to my heart; the COH2013 mod has been unlisted from the workshop since I first mentioned it on the board, but it's still a fun and silly homage to the wacky balance of CoH 2 on release (although it is, sadly, not a wholly accurate depiction). Another would be the Advanced Powers mod. Total wehrboo bait, with Wunderwaffen galore: literal terminator units with back-mounted mortars, Elephant tanks that can be upgraded to massive auto-firing howitzers, kubelwagens with sniper rifles attached, even OKW chemical zombie warfare, etc.; but also plenty of interesting things for the allies too: Soviet suicide bombers that can take a ride on decoy tanks for a glorious ram into a spectacular explosive death for the motherland combo, to minigun-toting American rangers, and plenty of heavy tanks of their own to be seen on the battlefield.

Those are all favorites of mine. I've had hours of fun with them, and I'm happy to play them when the rare opportunity arises where my friends get bored of automatch and are looking for something new. All too often, though, these gamemodes end up being TOO much of a game changer for some folks.

Enter the Attrition mod.

Released in Oct 29, 2014 as the first upload to the workshop of the now (seemingly) inactive Relic Content official account, and receiving its last update in Nov 4, 2014, Attrition is one of exactly three mods uploaded by Relic themselves to hold a five star rating out of their 27 entries (as of May 30, 2023). Attrition is rough around the edges, to describe it in the most euphemistic terms possible. But, before I get into the negatives of the gamemode, I'd like to speak about what the gamemode aimed to do, and where it shined (in my eyes).

Here is the description for the gamemode written by Relic themselves:


As you can see, the gamemode itself is--in contrast to the other mods I've mentioned here--very similar to normal gameplay. There are no special units, no special buildings, and there's no special win condition (it's technically a modified VP game). Only three very important changes have been made: All tech is unlocked, pop cap is limited by the strategic points that you hold on the map, and most importantly of all, you recieve zero resource income. That's right, all your resources are afforded to you at game start. That's it. Nothing else. What you see is what you've got.

Now, I'm not really a "pro player" kind of guy. I don't call the shots when it comes to balance, I just play for fun (though usually that includes winning if possible). I can't tell you that the gamemode is balanced well. All I can tell you is that I, personally, have enjoyed this gamemode a lot. It tends to lead to very short, tense matches along VP lines, and to me this is a welcome change to normal VP games which can last upwards of 40 minutes often. The gamemode can even make silly custom "single bridge" maps bearable. You won't have a 1.5 hour slog across a bridge, instead, you'll have a handful of short, spectacular battles, followed by a bit of a standoff period, and then, usually, the team who won will end the game by the 20 minute mark or less.

Like I said, though, the gamemode has its issues. Being that it was last updated in 2014, the most glaring issue with the gamemode is that the British faction doesn't start out with all its tech unlocked. This means that the most a British player can field is a single Cromwell... Additionally, OKW players don't start with Panzer Authorization, which means that the King Tiger is completely out of the question for them which wouldn't be the case if they did start with it unlocked. On top of that, changes to the OKW base splat since 2014 have resulted in a single sturmpioneer model from the starting squad getting trapped inside the base, which translates to all sorts of weird issues with the squad unless the OKW player immediately techs for a panzerschreck to destroy the offending wooden boxes on the ground holding them hostage. The last issue is that ironically, the final update to Attrition on November 4th 2014, which added a cost to the Ace for balance reasons (at the time it was free of charge to call in for a penalty to resource income), has completely unbalanced the Tiger Ace by making it completely unusable on the current build. Because the resource cost was added to the base amount, instead of setting it to a specific amount, the Tiger Ace costs a massive, world ending 510 fuel. The final issue is that the VP tickers don't display properly. At all times, both teams' VP scores are displayed as zero, though the VP system works as normal.

Other than those (pretty big) issues, the gamemode works perfectly fine in the current build. However, this version of the mode isn't actually the one I enjoy the most. That title would go to:

Attrition Supply
...a little bit of a compromise
---------------------------------------------------

Friends that I've played Attrition with enjoy the gamemode, but also at the same time wish that there was SOME kind of income to players, even if limited. That's where Attrition Supply shines for me.

Attrition Supply (along with its tuning pack), shifts the dynamic of Attrition. Firstly, while resource income from map points is still halted, both teams will receive periodic "supply drops" (resources added directly to their bank) that occur after longer and longer periods of time. For example, the first supply drop occurs at 3 minutes into the game, the second 4 minutes after the previous, the third 5 minutes after that one, and so on. The spirit of the gamemode is still there. While the mode is no longer "all or nothing", it still retains the aspect of trying to conserve manpower and fuel wherever possible. Interestingly, this actually solves some of the issues with OKW and Brits in the default Attrition mode. (Due to the tuning pack) OKW no longer has to tech for Panzer Authorization unless they want to field the King Tiger, which they can actually do now that they receive income over the course of the match. Brits, meanwhile, still get the short end of the stick and must unlock all their tech, but unlike the other factions, their engineers can actually repair their own tanks (more on that in the next paragraph) and those of their teammates. Plus, their income means that they're actually able to field more than a single cromwell, provided the game lasts long enough.

You might have already guessed that tanks are very strong in a gamemode like Attrition. While infantry bleeds, tanks don't; as long as you don't get dived, you can always pull your tank back, repair it, and keep applying pressure to the frontline. Attrition Supply curbs this somewhat. While tanks are still very powerful, engineer units can no longer repair them. To compensate for this, all tanks have been given a self-repair ability which costs varying amounts of munitions depending on the size of the tank. For example, the Tiger's self-repair ability costs 50 munitions, while the Panzer IV's self-repair costs 30 munitions, light vehicles also have a self-repair ability, but it's completely free of charge to them. The self-repair ability disables the weapons, as is expected from such abilities. This also gives extra utility to commanders with repair stations, and maps that already contain repair stations on them suddenly become a bit more interesting to play on.

All in all, I find the gamemode to be a very fun change of pace, and a neat way to mix up the way you play the game. I play mostly large gamemodes, so that's where most of my games have occurred, and I have to say that 3v3s and 4v4s with this gamemode are a blast with friends. I hope that if you've read this far, you'll also give it a shot with your friends or even host your own custom lobbies with the gamemode. If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts down below.

If you're interested, here are links to the Attrition Supply gamemode and if you're going to play it, I highly recommend the Attrition Supply tuning pack, as that is the tuning pack that adds the self repair abilities to the tanks while removing repair from engineers I was referring to.

Thanks for reading!
don

P.S. - There is one caveat to the Attrition Supply tuning pack, and that is the fact that it is a tuning pack. This means that there is seemingly a lot of reversions to balance. For example, pioneers can't build sandbags, the SU-76 can sometimes snipe infantry models off of squads, spotting scopes don't have a "setup" time, etc.

This isn't an issue with the gamemode itself, it's just a result of the way that tuning packs work. U.nfortunate, but what can you do about It
8 Dec 2023, 22:25 PM
#2
avatar of Lewka

Posts: 309

This does sound like a fun gamemode. I wish I had tried it. Would be cool if they put it in CoH 3 maybe
8 Dec 2023, 22:32 PM
#3
avatar of donofsandiego

Posts: 1287

jump backJump back to quoted post8 Dec 2023, 22:25 PMLewka
This does sound like a fun gamemode. I wish I had tried it. Would be cool if they put it in CoH 3 maybe


Thanks for the response. The one thing that keeps my hype about CoH 3 at a low drone is the fact that dataminers found references to an "Attrition" gamemode in the files of CoH 3. Though, unfortunately, I don't recall where I saw this info.
8 Dec 2023, 23:06 PM
#4
avatar of donofsandiego

Posts: 1287



Thanks for the response. The one thing that keeps my hype about CoH 3 at a low drone is the fact that dataminers found references to an "Attrition" gamemode in the files of CoH 3. Though, unfortunately, I don't recall where I saw this info.


Aha! I decided to do a little digging of my own; thanks to Janne252's Release of the Essense Archive Viewer, I discovered that the references to the gamemode still exist in the attrib.sga file (as of 12/08/2023):


For anyone interested in seeing for themselves, the full path is:

Company of Heroes 3\anvil\archives\attrib\instances\multiplayer\match_type\

(the path listed at the bottom of the photo leads to the .rgd files)

I tried to extract the xml file to see (with my very limited knowledge of coding) if it possessed similar functionality to the CoH 2 gamemode of the same name, but sadly I was met with an error:


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