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Beta 5.3.1 (live on July 6th 2022)

Posted: 21 Apr 2022, 23:39
by MarKr
Hello to all of you,

there haven't been any patch for quite some time. It is not because we would lose interest in BK but simply because we've been swamped with work and duties in our real lives. We have been, however, following the discussions on the forum and this patch is bringing changes that address some of the most debated topics and also fixes many of the reported bugs.

Let's get to it.

One of the big topics was the Sturmtiger and its general usefulness. You brought up several suggestions to make this unit more appealing in Propaganda doctrine. We decided to lower the cost of the rocket and also add more utility to Sturmtiger so that it has a bigger impact and more functions that just "shoot one huge rocket somewhere every 6 minutes. Infantry can now reinforce around Sturmtiger and this tank now also has the "fear aura" that Tigers and Kingtigers have. It seems that the general consensus was that the rocket ability was too expensive and had too long cooldown, so this has been changed too.
- Changed the cost of Sturmtiger shot to 100 ammo and recharge to 90s (from 150 ammo and 360s)
- Added an ability to Sturmtiger to reinforce infantry nearby
- Added an ability to Sturmtiger to apply debuff aura same as Tiger tanks (also requires the same unlock)
A topic that has been brought up several times was the general state of "ultimate" offmap abilities - Longtom, 150mm, 280mm and the Firestorm. The complaints pretty much boiled down to the fact that these abilities were just "braindead click-to-kill" abilities, which were mostly used to quickly erase from the map whatever unit was your biggest problem. These abilities hit very quickly and left almost no time for reaction, but at the same time obliterated anything in the hit zone. This made many late game units much less viable because these abilities allowed wiping these units without much of a sweat. We want these abilities to be a heavy solution against strong defenses and possible finish-off for immobilised units, but not an "oh, there's a SP/KT/JT over there! *click* Problem solved!" kind of ability.
Several changes have been made. The most unpopular is most likely going to be the red "warning" flare. The flare is going to land about 3 seconds before the artillery starts hitting the target zone. This should provide some reaction time to retreat units from the hit zone, but since the ability is intended to target strong defenses (which are usually static) or finish off immobilised units, it should still be able to its job. The delay between shots has also been increased. While working on this, I noticed that Firestorm ability actually sent two barrages into the selected zone. Given how this was implemented, I am fairly sure this was a mistake in coding and so this has been fixed.
- Added a warning red flare to Longtom, 150mm, 280mm and Firestorm offmap artillery abilities
- Changed the delay between shots of the 280mm Offmap rocket artillery ability to 1-2.5 sec (from 0.25-0.75 sec)
- Changed the delay between shots of the Firestorm Offmap rocket artillery ability to 1-2.5 sec (from 0.25-1 sec)
- Increased scatter radius of 280mm offmap rocket strike to 30 (from 20)
- Firestorm ability no longer fires twice as many rockets than intended
The Combat Engineer Training unlock in Armor doctrine has been considered one of the best (if not THE best) first unlocks in any doctrine. The effects of this unlock were pretty strong and gave to the doctrine a very strong close-combat squad for just 1 CP. This might be somewhat justified in a doctrine that is focused on infantry, but it is hard to justify in a doctrine that is focused on vehicles and tanks. Therefore, the effects of the unlock have been brought down a bit.
--"Combat Engineer Training" unlock changed:
- Removed a free Veterancy level
- Reduced the damage reduction to -15% (from -25%)
- Reduced the XP boost to +10% (from +20%)
A big discussion came about the artillery again. Specific point was how fast the first dedicated howtzers can be built. We agreed that some doctrines were able to build 105mm howitzers very quickly after investing just 2CP. This enabled Defensive doctrine in team games to just sit back, collect the CPs and then just shell everything everywhere. Defensive doctrine now needs to also build the Tank Factory in order to build howitzers.
Stuka Halftrack still kept the veterancy bonuses from vCoH which allowed it to survive a lot more damage taken and probably enriched its rockets at Vet2 with some more potent explosives as this Vet level also increased damage of the rockets by 20%. This has now been changed and this unit gets Vet bonuses that affect only its arty abilities, just as other arty units.
- 105 howitzers in Defensive and Infantry doctrines now also require Tank Factory/Tank Depot (from just only CP)
- Stuka Halftrack no longer gets 25% damage taken reduction at Vet1, 15% more HP and 20% more damage dealth at Vet2
Another thing connected to artillery is the Victor Target ability, which allowed to fire many arty units into one place for a fraction of the cost it would have cost to shoot each unit individually. In my infinite genius I got an idea how to make make VT cost grow based on how many units participate in the VT barrage. The main benefit of this ability should be the unlimited range and the option to bypass cooldowns on arty units to immediately fire somewhere. The fact that it was possible to fire 5+ arty pieces to any place on the map for about 70 ammo was ridiculous and so it now has been changed. The VT cost is still lower than when shooting each arty piece individually but the costs are now cummulative.
Please, test this for each doctrine that has any form of VT. The change is quite complex and I am not 100% sure that I haven't forgotten some units.
- VT abilities now raise in cost based on how many arty units participate in the VT barrage
The HE of 37mm units has been causing trouble in the early game. There were some problems with settings of some of these units which made them hit pretty much every time, but there was also the problem that these units often one-shot entire squads and so they made higher-tier units with the same purpose rather obsolete. These units now still deal good damage to infantry but they now apply suppression and damage rather than massive damage only.
-- Tweaked HE rounds on 37mm units (Stuart/37mm HT/PaK36):
- Accuracy set to 1/0.9/0.75/0.65 (from various values)
- AoE set to 5
- Base damage set to 55
- Damage modifier vs infantry changed to x1 (from 1.5)
- Penetration modifier vs infantry changed to x1 (from 10)
- Suppression set to 0.2 (from 0.001)
A lot has been said about the Scorched Earth doctrine. The main complaints were that the doctrine has very early access to two offmap artillery abilities, both of them being very strong. Then there were other complaints and suggestions about the general focus of the doctrine. We agree that the two early offmaps were a bit of an overkill. Out of the two, the sector artillery was the stronger of the two because it instantly hammered any unit in the selected sector with a "laser-guided orbital strike". Firestorm was added in one of the latest patches as it fits thematically with many of the fire-based weapons that the doctrine has at disposal. We removed the Sector artillery and postponed the Firestorm offmap. Also, as already mentioned, the Firestorm suffered from a bug that doubled its strength so that is now also fixed. As for the general focus - we can see people would like to see some changes but it seems that people canno agree on what direction the doctrine should take. We'll keep an eye on this and possibly bring some changes in the future.
Flank Speed has been another highly discussed topic. Some people call the ability "cartoonish", some say it allows bypassing defenses too easily, others say it is OK. The polls were tilted more to a change, but not by some vast majority of votes. We decided to remove the ability but add some compensations to the units that used to have the ability. Comets and Cromwells are already 20% harder to hit just because of their "armor type" and they are pretty fast even without the ability. These tanks got an extra 5% "dodge" chance on the move so it adds to approximately 25% dodge chance when moving. Achilles/Wolverine don't have the basic 20% dodge, so they got 10% "dodge" while on the move. Jackson used to require the engine upgrade to get flank speed and the upgrade costs resources. To still justify getting the upgrade on Jackson, its "dodge" bonus is 15% on the move and the upgrade now also adds acceleration bonus.
All these "dodge" bonuses kick in only after the tank has been moving for at least 1.5 seconds. This is to prevent people from shift-clicking a milimeter in front of and behind the unit to keep it "technically" moving and milk the dodge bonus while practically not moving at all.

The 222 Armored car in PE lost its flank speed but to keep the unit useful even without the flank speed, it now has the "sprint" aura for infantry around. This aura requires no unlock and it is the only vehicle available to all PE doctrines that has this ability (TS doctrine can still unlock this for all light vehicles). The 222 is a reward vehicle for 250/9 and if 222 got the sprint aura and 250/9 got nothing, there would be no reason to ever go with 250/9. Therefore, we added the reinforce option to the 250/9. If you have the micro to fully utilize the sprint advantage, go with 222, if not, the reinforce option of 250/9 might be more useful to you.
- Removed Flank Speed ability from all units
- Comets and Cromwells are now 5% harder to hit when on the move (bonus is active only after 1.5 sec)
- M10 Achilles is now 10% harder to hit when on the move (bonus is active only after 1.5 sec)
- M10 Wolverine is now 10% harder to hit when on the move (bonus is active only after 1.5 sec)
- M36 with the engine upgrade is now 15% harder to hit when on the move (bonus is active only after 1.5 sec)
- M36 engine upgrade now also increases acceleration by 20% (original +20% max speed bonus is still in place)
- Sdkfz 222 in PE now has the "sprint aura" for infantry around (no unlock or doctrine required)
- Sdkfz 250/9 in PE now has the ability to reinforce infantry around
PE in general had build menus on Panzer Grenadiers, Assault Grenadiers and also Assault Pionners. Some things were possible to build by all of them, which led to overlap in their functions. Another thing was that in some doctrines there were so many buildable things in the build menu that you couldn't even see all things that a unit should be able to build.
This has been changed now. PGrens still build base buildings, and basic defenses - wires and sandbags (the heavy bunker in SE) and that is it. Assault Pioneers can build basic defenses, trenches, MG nests, road blocks and mines. Assault Grenadiers can no longer build anything - they are your main combat infantry that can still repair things around, building defenses is not necessary for them, especially if you have the pioneers to take care of that. Normal bunkers have been removed from PE altogether.
- Normal Bunkers removed from PE
- Mortar Bunker (SE) is now buildable by PGrens
- Infantry, Teller mines and Roadblocks can no longer be used by PGrens
- Assault Pioneers can no longer build Trenches
- Assault Grenadiers can no longer build defenses
It has been requested to give Defensive doctrine PIV F2 or J to allow for at least some limited way of offensive advance. Defensive doctrine is focused on defensive play and so offensive capabilities are intentionally weaker. Despite that, we decided to try to try adding the PIV F2 and see what sort of impact it will have.
- Panzer IV F2 is now available in Defensive Doctrine
This patch also brings some bug fixes. Specifically:
- Fixed extremely low accuracy of PIII vs targets in trenches
- You will no longer lose control of squads when using satchel charges (not sure if I remember all the squads that have this, so maybe I've forgotten some)
- Commandos using the Assault ability will now throw grenades properly
- Passive camo of Commandos should no longer become permanently turned off
- Hauptsturmführer's command aura should now properly display an icon above affected squads
- Luftwaffe squads in FHQs now correctly require their unlock first
- The .50cal on top Hellcat should no longer auto-target things while in camo (the MG gunner is disabled for as long as the camo mode is active)
- Increased Commandos' grenade throw range to 22 (from 15 - more in line with other grenade throwing abilities)
- AT Commandos will no longer get reduced range
- Fixed incorrect penetration drop when using ALRS
- Hotchkiss now only has ammo upkeep when the Stuka rockets upgrade gets installed
- Leader of the SAS can now be detected in camouflage at the same range as the rest of the squad
- Firestorm ability no longer fires twice as many rockets than intended
- 2inch mortar smoke should no longer kill infantry
Give it a try, and see if everything works - especially the VT and MG gunner on M18 when in camo. If you find any problems, please report them here and each in a separate topic - it is easier to keep trac of individual problems that way.

Update (23.4.2022):
I forgot to mention this change that is also in the beta update:
- Units that can crawl can no longer enter crawling mode when they are in combat
This was added as a reaction to complaints that certain units activate "Crawl" ability mid-combat and just vanish into the thin air. This was obviously an abuse of the ability, but it also activated the "attack from camo" bonuses which provided an immediate bonus to combat effectiveness to the squads in the middle of a fight.

Update (17.5.2022):
One more forgotten thing:
- Swapped Offmap mortar barrage of Propaganda Officer for an Offmap smoke barrage
This was also suggested by players. Vsturms get suppressed and/or killed rather fast so this utility change opens more options in combat. Not to mention that with Stuka halftrack, Sturmtiger and 280mm Offmap, there isn't really a need for another very deadly offmap ability.

Re: Beta 5.3.1

Posted: 23 Apr 2022, 10:35
by MarKr
Original post updated with a missing changelog entry.

Re: Beta 5.3.1

Posted: 23 Jun 2022, 22:13
by MarKr
Based on the feedback received from the beta testing, we decided to release one more beta before the update goes live. Here are the changes to the new beta:

In the previous update you asked to cancel the thing where you lose control of your squad for a few moments when they throw a satchel charge. Shortly after the beta release you asked to apply the same to Bundle grenades, so here it comes.
- You will no longer briefly lose control of units after throwing Bundle grenades
A change that was met with a bit of controversy was adding the red warning smoke shells to the "über" offmap artillery strikes. We don't want them to be some sort of "plan B vs the toughest enemy units". You can use them for finishing off immobilised units or take out infantry formations if the opponent doesn't pay attention to that part of the map, but these abilities shouldn't be the first thing that comes to your mind when you have to deal with something like Kingtiger, Super Pershing, vetted Commandos or Stormtroopers. Therefore the warning smoke stays. However, if you "announce" bombarding something with these abilities and the opponents don't move away whatever they can, the strike should hurt. Therefore, these abilities now fire more shells and cover a bit bigger area. The shots also hit relatively quickly. The exception here is the 280mm strike because it already fired more rockets than the other abilities and also had 25 AoE.
- Long Tom now fires 10 shots (from 6)
- Increased the AoE of Long Tom to 25 (from 20)
- Lowered delay between Long Tom offmap shots to 1.5 - 2 seconds (from 2 - 6)
- Hummel offmap now fires 10 shots (from 6)
- Increased the AoE of Hummel offmap to 25 (from 20)
- Lowered delay between Hummel offmap shots to 1.5 - 2 seconds (from 3 - 6)
- Lowered delay between rockets on 280mm offmap to 1 - 1.5 seconds (from 1 - 2.5)
Connected to the previous point is the Firestorm in Scorched Earth doctrine. There were complaints about it dealing too little damage to be worth the cost in ammo and CPs. The firestorm rockets are much weaker on hit than HE rockets from the 280mm strike or Stukas/Nebels, but their main damage should come from their damage over time delivered by the flames. The DoT was indeed too weak. This has been changed now, along with the number of rockets the ability uses. You can cover in flames relatively big area now and even when the rockets may not kill things reliably on impact, the opponent should still move units out of the flames because they now deal significantly more damage when units keep standing in them. I only had the opportunity to test this against AI infantry and light vehicles. Please test the effectiveness against tanks and provide feedback - if you think it deals too little damage, too much, or if it is OK.
- Firestorm now fires 18 rockets (from 6)
- Revised flame damage of Firestorm rockets - it now has its criticals set more consistently with other flame weapons, and it deals more damage to certain targets such as infantry and emplacements. Also deals more damage to infantry in buildings, trenches, emplacements and bunkers.
To stay on track with rocket artillery - we got a report about Stuka rockets being too abusive with the damage they deliver (more details in topic here). Instead of changing damage values or range or availability, we decided to make the rockets fire slower. This should provide more reaction time to players on the receiving end and allow to move units out of way if you react quickly enough.
- Stuka halfrack and Hotchkiss Stuka Rockets now have 1.5 - 2 seconds delay between each rocket launch (from 0, or technically "as fast as animation allowed")
We also got quite a debate about the Sturmtiger where the opinions were quite divided. We made a poll to get a more clear sense of where the players stood on this. In the end we decided to apply these changes as a counter balance to the ST changes that were introduced in the first beta.
- Lowered the range of Sturmtiger to 90 (from 200)
- Sturmtiger is now buildable in Heavy Tank Factory for 800MP 100F (from a 700MP call-in)
Camouflage got changed in the first beta - units cannot activate crawling mode when they are in combat. This change was in general welcomed but there were quite a few complaints about this change when it came to snipers. The change made it harder to micro-manage camo on snipers, because players could no longer let the sniper fire and a moment later activate the crawl mode. We have changed the camo timers on snipers now so that it takes approximately 9 seconds for them to automatically re-camo when they are in green/yellow cover (this was originally over 20 seconds). Shooting their rifle resets the timer and at the same time the rifles shoot at such pace that the snipers should remain visible if they keep shooting. We also added a permanent Hold Fire ability to snipers. This way you can let the sniper fire, activate Hold Fire, and wait for them to automatically re-camo. The Hold Fire technically disables auto-targetting, so you can still right-click at enemy unit and the sniper will fire at it.
Along with this change, people asked to change CW in general by removing their sniper ability from Rifle sections and giving to CW normal snipers. We think this would make CW more mirrored to other factions and were against it. There was a suggestion to make the sniper ability available only after upgrade, just as it was in vCoH. We had no objections to that. The "Recon" upgrade cannot be purchased when the squad already has Bren upgrade and vice versa, so you need to decide if you want to specialize your squad in precision fire or buff their "DPS" by LMGs. Rifle grenades can still be purchased along with Recon or Bren upgrade.
- Added a permanent "Hold Fire" ability to snipers
- Snipers re-camo after approximately 9 seconds of not being in combat (not shooting at anything)
- CW Infantry Section now needs to get a "Marksman" upgrade to get access to the "sniper" ability (Marksman upgrade is mutually exclusive with Bren gun upgrade)
There was also a topic about the general efficiency of Axis tank destroyers. It was mentioned there that Hetzer was forgotten several patches ago when we lowered the HP and costs of Jagdpanzer IV. So here it comes for Hetzer.
- Lowered Hetzer HP to 500 (from 600HP)
- Lowered Hetzer cost to 400MP 50F (from 450MP)
The first beta also changed the offmap ability of the Propaganda officer from the offmap mortar to an offmap smoke barrage (I originally forgot to mention that one in the changelog, sorry about that). We heard some positive feedback about the change but also some negative one. The negative ones were in majority and even when we think that the smoke barrage provides more tactical advantage to the doctrine, we decided to revert the change. Or at least for the time being.
- Propaganda Officer has now back the offmap mortar strike (reverted the Smoke offmap added in the first version of 5.3.1)
Another quite debated topic was focused on the usage of the basic halftracks. For more details and specific arguments, check the linked topic. In short, we don't think that all docs should be able to reinforce on the front line, so we didn't go with the suggestion of larger reinforcement radius. We did, however, like the suggestion to make halftracks capture points when they have infantry inside. Halftracks have their own capture speed and so they do not cap as fast as the squad inside. They cap faster than e.g. Pioneers/Engineers, but slower than e.g. Riflemen or upgraded PGrens.
- US, WM and PE halftracks (the ones that can carry and reinforce infantry) can now capture points if infantry is inside
Last big topic was the suggestion to make tank destroyers/hunters be built with the AP upgrade installed. We didn't hate the idea, however we think it is possible the impact will be quite small but it could also be pretty big. We decided to give this change a shot in the beta without any counterbalance for now. We'll see what the feedback will be and decide about counter balance or possibly reversal of the change.
- Tank hunters/destroyers now come with AP ammo upgrade installed
-- applies to T48 halftrack, M10, M18, M36, M36B1, Achilles, "Puma" 234/4, Marder III, Geschützwagen, StuG IV, JPIV L48, JPIV L70, Nashorns, Elefants, Jagdpanthers
Smaller fixes:
- Sabo squad will no longer move back after throwing a Satchel charge
- SAS now also cannot activate crawl when they are in a fight
- Flame Hetzer now requires the correct unlock
- Flame Hetzer removed from TS doctrine
- Changed Sticky Bomb hotkey to X (from S - collided with Sprint ability)
So there you have it. Please, have a go at it and provide some feedback once you've actually played a game or two with this. No need to start threads about "preliminary opinions" or "I haven't played yet, but I'm concerned about..." ;)

One more thing - there is a problem with the text files and after downloading the beta files, you'll get a crash report before the game even starts. It has already been reported (here). It will take us a few hours (maybe even days, based on the Dev team time options) to release an official fix for this. However, there is a fix you can apply yourself. Check the linked thread that reports the problem.

It got actually fixed faster than I thought. The game should start normally now.

Re: Beta 5.3.1 (live on July 6th 2022)

Posted: 06 Jul 2022, 23:23
by MarKr
The beta has gone live today.