CoH3 Guide: Steel Shepherd Dec 5 2023 Patch Summary/Breakdown image

Steel Shepherd Dec 5 2023 Patch Summary/Breakdown



Steep Shepherd (Dec 5 2023) Patch Summary/Breakdown

Welcome to the biggest CoH3 patch of 2023! It's been a long time coming. For those who've stuck around since CoH3's rocky launch 10 months ago, you've no doubt witnessed the steady improvements Relic has been making to the game ever since. Whether you're completely new to CoH3 or you're ready to jump back into the fray as a veteran, here's a nice summary/breakdown of the new patch. It's a big one!

Official patch notes:


Yes it's finally here! Official replay functionality is in. All skirmish games can now be saved as replays, and can viewed from the menus so long as you are on the same patch as the replay. Old replays may break and no longer function if playing on a newer patch, so heads up.

For full details on replays including info on the UI, hotkeys, and technical explanation as to why rewinding is not possible, see here:

New DLC and new multiplayer maps

  • New DLC: "Hammer & Shield Expansion Pack". See here for more info: It is available for $17 USD, regional pricing will adjust to your location (ex. $23 CAD in Canada).

  • This DLC brings in a new single player company, and two new multiplayer battlegroups: USF Advanced Infantry battlegroup and the Wehrmacht Italian Coastal Defence battlegroup. The pack also includes 10 'premium cosmetics' spread across all 4 playable factions.

  • The two new multiplayer battlegroups can also be unlocked via 10,000 Merit each, meaning it is possible to grind out Merit to unlock the battlegroups instead of paying money.

  • The USF Advanced Infantry is themed around the new unit, Rangers, which are elite infantry that can either be called in or existing Riflemen can be converted into them. They are unique in that they are able to fire any weapon on the move and have 6 special weapon slots, breaking the rules! This means if they get their hands on weapons like flamethrowers or rocket launchers, yes, those can fired on the move too! The battlegroup is also themed around artillery, providing artillery options to the USF whom normally is lacking in this area. Scouts can be converted into Artillery Observers, and the 105mm M1 Howitzer static artillery option becomes available to construct, for example. Some unique abilities like being able to call in a swarm of uncontrollable units that will attack-move to the target location for a lengthy duration before retreating.

  • The Wehrmacht Italian Coastal Defence battlegroup doubles down on Wehrmacht's mighty defensive options while also giving them some Italian flavour. Definitely targeting fans of "sim city" style of gameplay, it is themed around new Bunker and defensive options. New units include the Coastal Reserves squad which essentially are very defense orientated 6-man squads, who work best when in fortified positions but are generally weak on offense. Uniquely at vet 2 they gain an extra squad member and slowly reinforce for free when near Bunkers. The Artillery Officer is a unique unit that passively speeds up nearby construction and ability recharge times. Comes with abilities such as calling in barrages, supervise buildings to increase production speed or increase a bunker's fire rate, and at vet 1 buff nearby infantry. A new static arty option is available in the form of the Obice DA 210/22 howitzer. Two new Bunker options: Command Bunker reduces damage received of nearby Bunkers and can act as a Retreat point. Anti-Tank Bunker is basically a PaK40 AT gun hidden inside a bunker. Various unique abilities that revolve around buffing bunkers and defensive lines.

New Maps

  • New 1v1 map: Villa Fiore and new 2v2map: Day 101 (which is a product from their map making 101 series).

  • Reminder that for the first 2 or so weeks of automatch, new maps have higher weighting and thus you are more likely to play on these maps in automatch games.

Visual Improvements

  • Menus, art, etc. improved.

  • Better to just see yourself, but long story short major improvements have been made to occlusion, lighting, atmosphere, etc. resulting in better clarity and overall better looking game.

Redesigned Challenges

  • Challenges have thankfully undergone another revision to make them far less intrusive/annoying for players, with the goal of better rewarding natural gameplay

  • Most notable change is that various challenges with comical requirements have been toned down to more reasonable levels, ex. Weekly "Destroy 50 X with Y" has now been toned down to "Destroy 15 X with Y".

Single Player Campaign

This post is not focused on the single player changes. See the direct patch notes for more details, as there is a rather large amount of changes.

  • Biggest thing to note is that health management is more important, and veteran companies are far more powerful. This can result in increased difficulty for reckless players.

  • Auto resolve formula has been updated to reduce repetitive skirmishes. Combat between companies in the field are auto-resolved, with various degrees of victory. Health, unit type, veterancy, and nearby modifiers all contribute to the outcome.

  • Improved Gela tutorial, and overall better on-boarding experience for new players throughout the early stages of the dynamic campaign.

Multiplayer Changes and Breakdown

  • Queue dodging has been removed - players start loading into a match immediately instead of having a countdown timer that allowed players to leave the queue during that time.

  • Lots of map fixes / quality of life changes.


  • Minimap indicators better match locations

  • New custom minimap images for all maps, with improved clarity especially separating inaccessible areas

  • Tactical Map has received numerous improvements, such as increased size, visual updates, as well as improved visual priority (player's own units always come first), unit selection, resolution, and more.

Quality of Life Changes

Will not cover everything as you can see the notes yourself for all the nitty gritty details. I will instead cover some major ones that impact gameplay heavily.

  • Responsiveness has had another passover, so vehicle turning/handling should be improved greatly, though as a side effect it also means vehicles accelerate from 0 to max speed very quickly. Reduced construction delay significantly speeds up construction of various stuff.

  • Various weapon changes that finally clarifies the rules around picking up weapons and getting upgrades.

    • Weapon upgrades are locked if a squad maxes out all their weapon slots. Also applies to USF Riflemen with the BAR upgrade - it will not longer drop BARs at their feet if the squad is already maxed out on weapon slots.

    • If a squad only has one weapon slot available but receives an upgrade that grants two weapons, it will instead give them only one and only cost half the munitions to perform the upgrade.

    • If a squad of engineers with a Minesweeper toggled off (aka unequipped) maxes out their weapon slots, the minesweeper will still work when toggled back, although it will be invisible and thus you will not see anyone carrying it physically.

  • Bridges have now have lower health, making them easier to destroy and decreasing the time it takes to repair them.

  • Infantry units can now use grenades while inside smoke.

Big Multiplayer Changes to all Factions

Field Defence Changes

These are very substantial changes that suddenly has increased the viability of defensive structures and play. Previously, these were usually not worth it as not only did it require a massive opportunity and resource cost, they often brought little value as it was usually just glorified cover. With these new changes, the cost-to-value ratio has been significantly buffed.

In team games these changes will obviously make a substantial impact and we can expect to see defensive structures actually built more often now instead of being ignored now due to bad value. In 1vs1, I do not expect them to be built too often, but certainly they now have a better niche use instead of simply never ever being built at all.

  • Field defences across the board have all had reduced costs. This includes things like Fighting Positions and Bunkers.

  • All constructed garrisonable structures grant bonuses to garrisoned infantry, making them more than just glorified cover. Units garrisoned inside these will gain +25% accuracy and +30% rate of fire.

  • Field defences in general have opened up more 'windows' for soldiers to fire out of, meaning for example 6 models can fire out the front of a garrisoned fighting position or bunker.

Grenade Changes

Grenades have overall had a significant lethality increase. This makes grenades of all kinds much more deadly than in the previous patches, so take advantage of this and watch out for opponent plays!

  • Most standard grenade damage standardized/increased to 120, with a 25% damage penalty to buildings (note: Still higher damage to garrisons than before!).

  • Gammon and Bundle grenades do not have this penalty, and their damage is reduced to 160. They still retain larger radius and general area of effect damage over other grenades.

  • All grenades in general have had their model cap limit increased to 4, meaning a single grenade can now deal damage to 4 models per squad in the radius now.

  • Allies grenades tend to be slightly more lethal with slightly greater area of effect damage, while Axis stick grenades tend to have slightly farther throwing range.

Indirect Fire Changes

  • Light Mortars have been buffed significantly with reduced barrage recharge times, increased rate of fire on standard attacks, and increased model limit cap. Attack range has been standardized up to the barrage range, making them less awkward and more intuitive to use in between barrages.

  • Heavier artillery have had their model damage limit increased as well, these include units like the Bishop, Wespe, Cannone da 105, and BL 5.5 Inch Howitzer.

  • All howitzer emplacements can no longer be built in the HQ sector, and now must be built outside the base sector in friendly territory.

  • Rocket artillery (Nebelwerfer and Stuka) have been buffed with massively increased penetration (plus extra damage in Nebel's case) against vehicles, meaning even armor units can be threatened by rockets now.

  • Off-Map artillery against defences/buildings: Overall nerfed, with reduced damage of certain off-map artillery against defences, primarily Wehrmacht Bunkers. Note that Relic intends for regular bunkers to still be destroyed as normal, but those supported by damage reduction auras may survive and require follow-up to destroy completely.

Quick Analysis: Overall an increase in lethality across the board for majority of artillery units. Light mortars have the biggest win here, but any fans of indirect fire will rejoice overall. Overall loser here are off-map artillery abilities, which have reduced damage against defenses, but primarily against Wehrmacht bunkers. It is intended that regular bunkers will still be destroyed as normal by off-maps, but bunkers supported with a damage reduction auras (such as from the new Coastal Defence battlegroup) will survive and require a follow-up to destroy completely.

Assuming Relic has fixed the barrage bugs where barrage abilities suddenly become unusable for the rest of the match, indirect fire fans are definitely going to enjoy these changes.

The incredibly low cooldown on light mortar barrages is a huge deal and may warrant using light mortar units more often, even if heavier options are available. They now have a much more carved out niche thanks to being able to barrage away more often than any other artillery piece. This also makes them super useful against HMGs and other weapons teams - Now the opponent really needs to pay constant attention and have to reposition a lot more often if you use these mortars right. With the Wehrmacht MG42 getting directly buffed, alongside defensive play buffs and the new Coastal Defences battlegroup, I highly expect all kinds of artillery to be used far more often nowadays.

USF Balance Changes

  • 4x4 truck (aka Jeep): Buffed armor. Can now can access a new upgrade for 50 Munitions that allows them to detect enemies in fog of war and gain increased vision range.

  • 75mm Halftrack Gun Motor Carriage: Significantly buffed. Manpower cost down. Barrage range increased, alongside greater accuracy (reduced scatter) and greater penetration. Barrage reload time in between shots increased to compensate.

  • Bazooka Team: Significantly buffed. Bazooka Teams have now been buffed up to the same Bazooka stats elite units use. This means their aim time and reload time has been significantly reduced, greatly increasing their reliability and DPS.

  • M1 57mm Anti-Tank Gun: Buffed. AP Round ability duration and damage has been increased.

  • M1 Mortar Team: Buffed. Airburst barrage slight area of effect improvements, and model damage limit increased.

  • M3 Personnel Carrier: Buffed. Its main MG weapon has received accuracy increases.

  • M8 Greyhound: Now has access a new Side Skirts upgrade, which costs 70 Munitions and increases health by 120.

  • M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer: Nerfed. The Hellcat now has longer reload time between shots. The devs have stated that nowadays with previous pathfinding, vehicle handling, and projectile changes, the Hellcat has become too efficient and needed a nerf.

  • Sherman Bulldozer: Buffed. Its niche is now being buffed appropriately, increasing its lethality against infantry and structures. Model damage limit has been increased, alongside 100% more damage against defensive structures like bunkers. Scatter has been changed significantly so it will no longer undershoot targets, making it far more likely to hit stationary targets including vehicles.

  • All three Battlegroups (BG) received various number buffs to some specific BG perks. But the biggest change to note here is Special Operations BG. The Flamethrower Engineer + Weasel call-in has now been replaced with a new one: A Weasel towing a M1 Pack Howitzer.

Quick Analysis: USF received some pretty significant buffs this patch, with practically the only direct nerf going to the M18 Hellcat. Everything else is just straight up buffs!

The most interesting set of changes here are direct buffs to a lot of underappreciated or underused units. Bazooka Team and the AT Halftrack buffs are incredibly significant and will hopefully make these far more viable in matches. Meanwhile the Sherman Dozer is fairly rare to see, but these changes will make the 'indirect fire tanks' far more viable, especially since they'll be way more reliable and no longer literally miss stationary structures and targets in front of them.

The Jeep and the Greyhound getting new optional upgrades is quite interesting. In particular for the Jeep, it makes it a worthwhile investment that really helps it scale up into the later stages of a match with unmatched utility in the form of unit detection. Meanwhile the Greyhound, should a player be willing to risk more Munitions on it, can gain enough health to make a big difference in fights as many tank weapons would require an additional shot to destroy it. 70 Munitions is expensive but there will definitely be players happy to utilize this to get more out of Greyhounds.

It’s worth noting that the vehicle changes are a pretty large buff to all vehicles in general. With how snappy and fast vehicles can move from stationary to max speed, USF in particular benefits quite a lot given how heavily Motor Pool units tend to be used, and now some of these can be further upgraded.

Also shoutout to the USF AT gun. The AP round may cost a lot of munitions, but in a pinch these new buffs make a massive difference and can allow the AT gun to punch way above its weight.

It’s only been a couple of days so obviously who knows what will happen to the meta, especially with how things will shape up with the new Advanced Infantry BG. I expect the ‘free’ overwatch artillery will become ‘problematic/annoying’ for players though. Otherwise, I think more experimentation will happen with utilizing vehicles and the Mechanized Support Center, as for example the Fast Deploy buff massively speeds up getting out those vital Shermans from the T4 building.

Overall a lot of buffs plus new content means expect a gigantic spike in USF players for the first few weeks. I expect USF to be dominant both in terms of popularity and overall game strength since they have a lot of tools for the new Wehrmacht BG, and overall are in a stronger spot.

Wehrmacht Balance Changes

  • Medical Bunkers can now retrieve downed infantry and recycle them for free reinforcements, similar to USF medical station.

  • 251 Halftrack and variants: Buffed acceleration and MG.

  • Hull Down ability: Can no longer be activated during combat, though will still work if activated prior to entering combat. Now grants more combat bonuses including sight range, attack range, and faster reload times.

  • Jager Squad: Buffs to Panzerschreck aim time and accuracy, as well as scoped rifles accuracy.

  • MG42 HMG: Buffs to accuracy. Also includes buffed incremental accuracy, which is the multiplier that increases accuracy the more models are close together to the target.

  • Nebelwerfer: Buff to damage overall. Also now deals lots more damage and penetration to vehicles.

  • Panzer Kommand: T4 Now requires either Panzergrenadier Kompanie (T3) or Luftwaffe Kompanie (T2).

  • Pioneer Squad: Buffed close weapon cooldown = more DPS close range.

  • Side Skirts: Once again increases side armor of affected units by +20%.

  • Stoßtruppen Squad: Significantly buffed. Overall DPS increased by 10% for entire squad. StG44 Ambush package now properly grants whole squad the assault rifles, and the StG has been buffed in damage and has lower Munitions cost.

  • Sturmpanzer IV Brummbar: Similar to Sherman Dozer. Its niche is now being buffed appropriately, increasing its lethality against infantry and structures. Model damage limit has been increased, alongside 100% more damage against defensive structures like bunkers. Scatter has been changed significantly so it will no longer undershoot targets, making it far more likely to hit stationary targets including vehicles.

  • Wehrmacht Marder III M: Now a bit more differentiated from the DAK version. Cost changed from 280 MP, 25 Fuel to 240 MP, 40 Fuel. Comes with new ability, Sight Main Gun toggle ability. Disables movement when active, in exchange gain increased attack range and reload times.

  • Various number tweaks in battlegroups, though Luftwaffe has some major changes. The 20mm Flak emplacement has been buffed with shorter build time and smaller cost, and now Pioneers can construct them. Meanwhile the 88mm Flak AT emplacement also got buffed with 1 less CP cost to unlock and massively improved anti-air damage. For Mechanized, the StuG Assault Group ability now comes with a Stoßtruppen Squad.

Quick Analysis: Perhaps not surprisingly, Wehrmacht benefits heavily from the buffs to field defences and overall defensive play. While some changes like the buffs to Hulldown, MG42, and 20mm Flak might seem strange, it’s worth mentioning it is done in tandem with the buffs to indirect fire and grenades. Thus, it’s safe to assume these are helping to keep things from getting too weak in the face of these buffed counters.

Just like USF, they seemingly got away with very little direct nerfs.

Probably the biggest noticeable changes here are to Medical Bunker and the Stoßtruppen. Medical Bunkers once again now act similar to the USF medical station, finally giving Wehrmacht a similar ‘free reinforcement’ investment structure. I expect people to experiment with doing the same thing the USF does, which is to build it in the HQ territory to heal and reinforce. The advantage of doing this is to save Fuel, as a Medical Bunker requires Munitions instead of Fuel. Remember, it also saves on Manpower over the course of the match, so honestly I think it will outright replace the HQ upgrade with little downside aside from time spent building it at base. As for Stoßtruppen, they’ve been made fun of for a long time but these recent buffs very likely have made them respectable elite infantry at last. Not only are they overall just straight up stronger by default, but their StG package is now worth considering if you fancy creating an elite CQB squad.

It’s worth noting the Wehrmacht Marder is now differentiated from the DAK version, and is overall quite buffed assuming one can use its toggle ability well. The extra range makes a huge difference.

As usual, it’s only been a couple of days so who knows where the meta will go. I expect a huge spike of Wehrmacht players due to the new DLC, and as such expect a TON of Bunkers in every match. If facing Wehrmacht, you’ll need to invest in indirect fire like mortars far more frequently. Coastal Reserves are interesting in that they’re great for defence but bad for offense, as they’re reliant on staying near bunkers and improvement auras. At least in theory – I can see them becoming a problem once people figure out how to get value out of them, as I imagine they’re fairly cost efficient without too much effort. I would not be surprised if "zerg rushing" with them becomes a thing, where even if they die quickly that can come out in such numbers that map control will stay in favour of the Wehrmacht player.

I really expect the Artillery Officer to eventually become a problem once people figure out how to use them properly, as it brings a lot of powerful abilities. At a cursory glance, getting things like overwatch artillery for free and on a very short cooldown...I predict is going to be a problem.

UKF Balance Changes

  • Crusader MK III: Finally got its upgraded cannon nerfed. Its scatter has now been reduced to the same levels as the default MK II, meaning the upgrade no longer grants a massive anti-infantry power spike.

  • M3 Grant: Buffed, 75mm gun penetration has been increased.

  • Matilda: Main cannon penetration has been significantly nerfed, especially at long range.

  • Battlegroups also got numerous number tweaks, but Air and Sea received the most interesting changes:

    • Centaur got same treatment similar to Sherman Dozer. Its niche is now being buffed appropriately, increasing its lethality against infantry and structures. Model damage limit has been increased, alongside 100% more damage against defensive structures like bunkers. Scatter has been changed significantly so it will no longer undershoot targets, making it far more likely to hit stationary targets including vehicles.

    • Commandos: Both variants now have free passive healing when out of combat. Regular Commandos that drop Concealing Smoke now immediately break suppressed/pinned status.

    • Supply Surplus Forward Medical Station: Now can toggle as a retreat point.

  • Indian Arty BG got increased CP cost on Volunteer Infantry, and as mentioned off-map airburst was nerfed heavily against static defences. For Armoured BG, the Forward Repair Assembly is now actually useful (proper repair rate) and Designate Targets reduced by 2 CP cost.

Quick Analysis: UKF seems to be the biggest loser out of all factions this patch, in terms of exciting shake-ups. Indeed, they’ve stayed pretty much the same, with pretty small changes overall. The Mk3 Crusader nerfs was pretty expected considering what I wrote about it in the past, and I’m not surprised about the Matilda either. I doubt the slight penetration buff will make players pick up the M3 Grant as few are willing to invest in the side-tech to unlock them, but buffs are buffs.

There really isn’t much for them, so their gameplay is still rigid at least for 1vs1. In team games however, the hefty buffs to the Air and Sea BG is significant, especially with straight up better Commandos plus the ability to create forward retreat points. Maybe even the Centaur will see more use? Forward Repair Assembly likewise is not really used in 1vs1, but now has a place in team games especially since it helps reduce micromanagement tax and can help repair your entire team’s vehicle fleet.

Unfortunately, as it stands UKF will still be reliant on using Indian Artillery BG especially since the meta for the coming days will be lots of bunker and defensive spam due to player testing out the new Wehrmacht BG. There’s also the lingering issue of UKF falling behind in the mainline infantry front, which the Indian Arty BG is still needed to help solve these frontline problems with Gurkhas and Voluneer Infantry (which is now delayed by another CP).

As such, even after the hype of the new DLC dies down in a few weeks, I still expect UKF to be one of the least played factions. We’ll see if I’m wrong on this prediction, but at the moment with such railroaded strategies and lack of interesting shake-up for months, I doubt their popularity will increase anytime soon.

DAK Balance Changes

  • 250 Mortar halftrack: Incendiary barrage initial damage nerfed.

  • Flakvierling Halftrack: Model damage limit reduced from 3 to 2. Armor-piercing rounds penetration slightly reduced, and its moving burst has been decreased to match the regular weapon.

  • Guastatori: Can fire flamethrowers while moving.

  • Marder III Tank Destroyer: Now has access to Smoke Canisters.

  • Panzer III L Medium Tank: Frontal armour buffed from 130 to 150. Manpower cost reduced from 340 to 320.

  • Battlegroup had some minor tweaks, like slight Bersaglieri buffs. Suppression removed from Combined Arms Strafing Run, but damage doubled.

Quick Analysis: Like the UKF, there wasn’t much of an interesting shake-up for DAK. However, some of their core units have been affected significantly and thus things are just a bit more interesting. The infamous Flakvierling has finally been nerfed, but not in suppression! It’s less damaging against entire squads now thanks to the model damage limit being reduced. Meanwhile the Panzer III got a significant armour buff which has been a long time coming, which should increase their popularity. The most interesting change overall is Guastatori now being able to fire flamethrowers on the move. This is a massive change for them especially because most of the squad uses close range SMGs, meaning now it’s less of a micromanagement demand to utilize them. Even with flamethrowers they’re now super dangerous rushers, no longer needing to stop to be effective!

Given the massive DAK rework that happened in the previous patch, it is not surprising they’re not doing anything too crazy this time. Guastatori getting buffed significantly once again means we’ll likely see more people experiment with the Italian Infantry BG, which it bears reminding, was reworked in the previous patches and overall was intended to be a stronger choice compared to the older days. This provides competition to the Armoured Support BG which traditionally is the most popular DAK BG. Italian Combined Arms is still in an awkward state, however the vehicle handling buffs may benefit them quite a lot considering the larger quantity of light vehicles you can get out with this BG.

Interestingly DAK also tends to bring in a lot of bugs, so here’s hoping the ones from previous patches are gone. I guess they finally fixed what the deal was with smoke canisters/launchers appearing on every vehicle. Now it looks like almost all vehicles get smoke canisters, and smoke launchers have been removed entirely. Tooltips are still outdated however, so there’s still a lot of confusing stuff in-game that contradicts the actual effects.

Overall Analysis

The increased lethality of indirect fire and grenades means matches have gotten far more interesting, at least in terms of micromanagement demands.

USF and Wehrmacht are obviously the biggest winners here. The new DLC will drive up popularity for the first few weeks so expect a lot more artillery and bunkers in each match – be ready to deal with it all! However, in general they also received the most interesting changes overall, with UKF and DAK sadly left to the dust with fairly smaller changes that do not shake things up much for them. This combination of new content plus more interesting changes means expect way more USF and Wehrmacht players for quite a while, and adjust your strategies accordingly especially with the new battlegroups in mind.

I think UKF is the biggest loser here (especially for 1vs1), since they still remain fairly restricted in strategies. Despite efforts to make the other battlegroups more appealing, and even nerfing Indian Artillery battlegroup, sadly they still remain pretty reliant on Indian Arty especially in light of the new Wehrmacht BG existing, as well as buffs to indirect fire overall. With such railroaded paths they’re not exactly super exciting to play, but time will tell if I am incorrect in my assessment and options open up as the hype from the new DLC dies down over time.

Aside from all that, this patch is massive. Ignoring changes to the multiplayer meta, the new content on top of all the fixes and improvements to various areas are highly appreciated, and there's something for everyone whether they're single player campaigners, comp stompers, or online PvP players.