taking your signature as an indicator, i assume you're mostly talking about team games (and rather 4v4 than 2v2), because in 1v1s and, to a slightly lesser extent in 2v2s, blobbing is not really that much of an issue.
I'd say it's about equal for 2v2 and 4v4 in "top 200" level play; I've only ever seen it fall off completely in the top ~50 (or better), where players are really good at positioning, flanking, and using every single utility they have (I'm not quite at that level).
in any case, no matter how much people despise it as a noob tactics, blobbing or concentration of force is a viable strategy both in-game as well as in real life. you can create numerical advantage over your opponent in a specific area and use this to overwhelm the defense - but it comes with its own disadvantages. not only will you give up map control in other places where your blob isn't around, you'll also be much more susceptible to blob counters, such as arty, mgs and explosives.
I don't think this is fully accurate. While concentrating troops is a viable strategy in both real-life and in game, blobbing (i.e. 10-20 people in a 5m radius) is purely a "video game" concept, as pointed out by Klement Pikhtura
earlier. While suppression does have an AoE mechanic, small arms damage does not; missed shots can't hit another model or squad, which is what would happen in reality. If anything, damage against blobs would be increased, since bursts and fire control basically wouldn't matter.
Additionally, due to cut-offs, pressuring other parts of the map isn't always possible especially if playing as factions with static structures (UKF, OKW, other doc-locked stuff), since the the investment loss there can be devastating if overrun. Again, maybe this is true for the absolute top levels of play, but from my experience at around ~200 rank, this isn't what I've seen.
for some reason people expect a single mg to be capable of stopping a blob of infantry squads worth 5-6 times the mp in its tracks or having a single brummbär fending off three triple zook ranger squads with ease. that's just not realistic and i don't think the game would be in a better state if it were.
This is an interesting comparison, and I think it shows part of the problem. From my experience, a brummbar can actually hold off 3x 3-zook rangers if micro'd very well. While they both have the same range (35), the brummbar can fire on the move (and while reversing) whereas the rangers can't - allowing it to effectively kite them.
The MG42 however, is a bit of a different case. I'd say it works really well early game when facing unupgraded and unvetted units; the issue is in the mid-to-late game stage of the game, against heavily upgraded and vetted squads, which can deal incredible damage to units even in cover. Additionally, as pointed out by elchino7
, by mid and late game, yellow cover is so prevalent that suppression isn't reliable, especially against vetted squads. Unfortunately, there isn't a "micro" solution to this; no amount will make the MG win against even three fully upgraded/vetted squads in yellow cover.
limiting the firepower of infantry globally across factions would affect both the attacking blob and the defending force equally, so not much is gained in total (except maybe mgs and tanks being slightly more effective against unit concentrations). especially giving IS access to a snare seems to contradict your proposed solution of making one-unit blobs less of an all around versatile option that is good against everything.
Lowering the DPS of units increases the time in battle which also (usually) means more time spent as stationary targets, increasing vulnerability to indirect fire while also giving suppression platforms longer to suppress (which would help with the yellow cover issue). It also makes cover more effective, since we're applying it's damage reduction to smaller amounts of damage, while keeping unit HP the same. Additionally, since blobbing would now be 'slower', pressuring multiple parts of the map could become more efficient.
As for the IS', adding a snare would only make sense if their utility (and a few other units) was brought inline with other basic mainlines; so for example, one weapon upgrade OR one squad-type upgrade (medic, pyro bolster), and one normal grenade.
I think you are overlooking the fact that blobbing has always been the optimal way of playing at lower levels. At least considering the game modes you play and based your opinion on.
As I said earlier in this post, my comments are based on my experience at around the "top 200" level, which can often mean facing opponents a fair bit higher than that; and outside of maybe "top 50" players, blobbing seems extremely prevalent. I'll admit that "top 200" isn't top-level play, but I also don't think it's "low level", either.
Reducing or increasing DPS won't solve the issue of playing with 2x or 4x popcap and resources on a playing field that doesn't escalate at the same rate.
Cover works for smaller modes (entirely on 1v1 and till midgame starts to kick in in 2v2) because the amount of units at your dispose is lower compared to how much you need to do.
If you want to cover to matter more, you would have to do the opposite of now. Increase drastically DPS and at the same time, cover modifiers. Making the game look like Men of War.
I admit, the pop-cap issue is a problem, and I don't fully have an answer for it. That said, combined-player blobs aren't all that typical from what I've seen, except in some 4v4 games. It's usually individual players pushing 'their side' of the map, etc. where they still have a significant amount of power concentrated in a small group - but then again, they also need to cover a smaller area.
As for increasing DPS and Cover modifiers, I find it interesting that both you and MMX
suggested this; but I don't think it's necessary, or the only approach (it would work, though). While doing so would decrease the power of blobs against units in cover, it would increase it against anything out of cover (or even in yellow cover), which isn't my intention with these suggestions - the intent is to decrease the power of blobs in every
situation. By lowering mainline infantry DPS (and utility) fights inherently would become longer; both for units in cover and out of it - and as I said before, that would make other specialized 'anti-blob' type units much more powerful, pushing optimal gameplay away from blobbing.
That said, some adjustments to unit stats would likely need to be made as the DPS/EHP wouldn't correlate in the same way anymore, which could cause issues (i.e. everyone has lower DPS, but now some squads can last much
longer in combat).
In regards to punishing blobs and MGs specifically, i think it has been overlooked for quite a long time that MGs don't get RA with vet. As well as the fact that light cover created by small explosives exist and that provides so much RA and suppression protection almost passively.
Regarding MG vet RA, this is actually a really good point I wasn't aware of. Similarly, the yellow cover issue is something I forgot to mention, but is also very valid.
IS is a specific problem that unfortunately didn't get solved in the last patch, therefore practically impossible to address at this point.
I don't think you can just put every faction through the same filter when those factions don't have access to the same tools of similar strength or had them at all. Which is why you see these "uber" units having so much power budget.
Yes, unfortunately it seems that UKF in general has some seemingly arbitrary restrictions on what can be changed - but perhaps this could change sometime in the future (or CoH3, who knows).
As for the 2nd comment, this is why I mentioned moving the utility to other units when it's not redundant; moving all sandbags to engineers still grants all factions the same access to them (except UKF, depending on doc). Similarly, making upgrades exclusive (or at least more restrictive) also doesn't remove access to them. In the case of IS' it just means that every squad can't have double brens, healing/artillery, bolster, and two grenades all at the same time. One squad could have a bren or two, another could have healing, and another a special grenade (and/or artillery) - the utility is still there, but it's spread across more units.
But yeah I would buff all MGs across the board except the 42 since its performing exactly as it should when it comes to countering blobs, which is almost instant group suppression when it runs into the arc.
This is also a good approach; however, I'd take it one step further and add elchino7's
suggestion of Vet RA bonuses, as well as something to deal with yellow cover prevalence in mid/late game stages (MG vet increases suppression against yellow cover?).
One last thing, as this post is now far too long...
I find the poll results interesting; as of this comment, the first two polls show a ~40/60 split in favor of infantry DPS and Utility not
being too high, but a ~60/40 split in suggesting that more infantry upgrades be made exclusive. I'm not sure how this works, though; If more upgrades are exclusive, it means less can be stacked on a single unit, and so DPS and utility would decrease (or at least, that's what I intended).