Need a little Company of Heroes 3 tips? It’s been a while since we’ve had a new Company of Heroes game, so the launch of Company of Heroes 3 might mean it’s time to re-learn some of the basic RTS skills and know-how that have become obsolete since Ardennes Assault.

Company of Heroes 3’s main single player component actually consists of two RTS games: There are real-time tactical battles in which you will fight against the German Wehrmacht, and there is a high-level campaign map that tracks your progress in the campaign. As you advance your forces across Italy on the campaign map, you’ll unlock new missions, resources, and skills for your soldiers. If you’re about to venture into wild Italy and feel a little overwhelmed by Relic’s new strategic game throws at you, we’ve put together some tips and tricks for newbies to Company of Heroes 3 to make your journey to Rome a little easier.

Tips for campaigning in Italy

Here are our tips for playing Company of Heroes 3 for the Italy campaign:

Color the map

Before starting the campaign in Italy, it is important to know that, as we noted in our Company of Heroes 3 Reviewthe Germans will do almost nothing to try to retake the territory you have taken. This means that there is no downside to grabbing as much territory as possible as quickly as possible after going through the initial tutorial and landing in Salerno.

Ports are key

During the campaign, the number of units you can field is limited by a population cap, which can only be increased by capturing ports. You can do a lot more per turn if you have more companies, so prioritize capturing port cities (indicated by the anchor icon). Planes, ships and defense points make up your total population, so keep them to a minimum – you’ll want to use most of your population in companies until you reach the Adriatic Sea and the valuable port cities there.

Once you get to Bari and link up with the Allied forces there, you’ll have more room to start building howitzers, anti-aircraft guns, planes and naval ships.

Use your fleet to clear the way

Although the Germans won’t try to retake territory, they will build lots of pesky machine gun nests and howitzers along the roads to sap the health of your companies. When you encounter such a node, the bombardment ability of your naval ships will come in handy. Keep the battleship parallel to your forward companies and use its guns to destroy the German guns, but save it for when you can get two or three fire points (and possibly an enemy company) in the blast zone.

Bombardment can also be used to lower defenses in fortified cities marked with shield icons. Each of these shields requires an infantry company action to remove, so softening up cities with naval bombardment can mean the difference between waiting three turns to capture them and waltzing in unopposed.

When you are out of range of any of your ships, bring in an Indian Artillery Company for support – they can also bombard. However, keep in mind that each bombardment uses up your ammo supply, and when it runs out, you won’t be able to use it during real-time battles. Make sure you capture a lot of towns marked with the ammo icon and you should be fine.

Keep units in the field

Another thing you’ll want to spend resources on is unit maintenance. Your companies will inevitably come under fire from German pillboxes and anti-tank guns located on the map, and will take damage from German company attacks. Fortunately, each unit can self-heal at will—provided you have certain resources on hand. Use this ability more often: Infantry companies can be healed and mechanized companies can be repaired by simply pressing the corresponding button in the lower right panel and selecting a unit on the map. Don’t risk sending a damaged unit into unexplored territory without doing this – a few invisible machine guns can be enough to wipe that unit off the map, meaning it loses all of its experience and unlocks.

Use these skills

On that note, be sure to use the skill points you win in each battle. Completing secondary objectives during missions will add even more points that can be spent on improving your companies in a number of ways. Depending on your playstyle, you can add perks like automatic veteranization for certain units or unlock more advanced vehicles and squads. The highest level vehicles and tanks in the campaign can only be unlocked this way, so check all three tabs in the skill point menu when you have some to spend.

Combat tips

You’ll spend a lot of time in real-time combat during the Italian campaign, whether it’s the main missions or the random skirmishes with the German companies you encounter. While you’ll always be able to auto-resolve in the latter case, it’s almost always better to fight it yourself – that way you’ll get more skill points and have a good chance of winning even against what the computer thinks is a “stronger” opponent.

Seizure of land

Skirmishes in Company of Heroes 3 take many forms, but almost always your first move should be to go out and capture as many resource nodes as possible. This accomplishes a few things: firstly, each one will give you resources that you can use to build a stronger army, and you’ll be able to see when the enemy is closing in to try and take it from you. Immediately throw your first squads to the control points, and while they are on the way, start recruiting new squads.

Use the minimap

As good as all the maps in Company of Heroes 3 are, they can give you tunnel vision – you can’t pull the camera back very far. Fortunately, you can – and should – issue commands using a mini-map in the corner of the screen. You can select units using the row of icons that appear at the bottom of the screen and right-click on the minimap to send them to capture control points or reserve units that come into contact with the enemy, all while micromanaging your troops , which you are focusing on at the moment.

Run away!

All infantry squads can be ordered to retreat to their current assembly point by selecting them and pressing the retreat button (it’s the far right on the control pad with the down arrow) or by pressing the R key. Even squads pinned down by machine gun fire will spawn and flee to safety, where you can heal them and bring them back to full strength. Use this opportunity more often: you want to send fresh troops to the front line as often as possible, and it’s faster and more economical to reinforce the troops you already have than to let them die and recruit new ones.

Vehicles cannot retreat, but can be repaired in the field by engineers and certain recovery vehicles. This may take some time, but it’s usually better than letting them be destroyed and recruiting new ones from the fleet or tank pool.

Reduce, reuse, bazooka

Each faction has a viable infantry unit that should form the backbone of your forces. They’re not much different, but they’re usually cheaper than specialists and can get the job done. They are also highly adaptable, being able to pick up and use abandoned machine guns, mortar tubes, and anti-tank weapons left on the battlefield.

Always keep an eye on them, especially anti-tank weapons. Although most infantry units have anti-tank grenades at their disposal, they are usually not capable of destroying a tank in one shot, and they tend to have a long cooldown. However, a hand panzershrek or bazooka can turn any infantry unit into a real problem for enemy armor, so it’s worth taking them when you see them.

Smoke them if you have them

Do not underestimate the importance of infantry smoke grenades, because they can be the key to breaking enemy strongholds. Machine gun fire will pin down your squads, making it impossible to even fire back to defend yourself. If you don’t have artillery or mortars available to knock them out at range, a well-placed smoke bomb can blind the gun crew and allow your infantry to get into grenade range. Smoke can also be used to maneuver around enemy tanks, so use it liberally to cover your attacks.

Armed with these tips, you’ll be fully prepared to begin your campaign in Rome in Company of Heroes 3. You can also provide our Company of Heroes 3 system requirements provide a quick overview to see if your installation meets the specifications. We also have a list of the best war games if you start getting sick of WWII. And if you’re looking for a critically acclaimed game, head over to ours the best computer games list.