This thread started with me asking the community for some micro tips, but I decided to use this space to summarize them since there are a lot of positive responses. As a result, one shouldn't read the entire thread as the first post summarizes everything. Thanks go to all contributers, and feel free to keep adding things to this thread if they aren't mentioned in my summary yet.
Before we get started
The purpose of this guide is to teach players how to micromanage Company Of Heroes more efficiently. This does not mean that every bit of advice below should be used over and over if someone wants to become a decent Company Of Heroes player. These are merely tools; use them to your advantage but don't think of them of objectives. Using the tools below, it is up to you to develop a micro style that's the most efficient for you.
Keyboard or mouse?
Use the keyboard for shortcuts and the mouse for everything else. Some may prefer to use the keyboard for camera control as well.
Trouble memorizing the keyboard shortcuts?
Try Bridger's grid layout. Azerty and German versions are available too. I highly recommend it and please check the diagram for some useful shortcuts which aren't mentioned below. Don't forget to check this diagram before you use it. If you don't like those binds, you can always make your own using this tutorial.
Some of the readers of this thread might be really new, so here goes: Pressing ALT and dragging the mouse will rotate the camera, double tapping backspace will reset it to the default position. If you didn't know this, then you should try the Company Of Heroes in-game tutorial urgently.
Talking to your fellow human players
Some people like to learn a new game with friends over LAN, so here are two easy kepmaps: Talk to team with ENTER and talk to everyone (including your opponents) with SHIFT + ENTER. Carry on...
Create control groups
Select a unit or front base and press CTRL+#. From now on, you can select that base or unit by pressing #.
Center the screen to a control group
Press the # of the control group twice.
Adding a unit to an existing control group.
Press a # to select the control group with that # and than shift-select the new unit and press "CTRL+#" to re-make the same group.
Dropping a unit from a control group or dissolving a control group
There is no easy way to dissolve a group or to drop units from a group. Dissolving a group is done by attaching the control number to other units, and dropping a unit is done by selecting every other unit in the group and re-assigning the control number to them.
Microing your bases at the front
Use function keys to access your base functions. F1=HQ, F2=barracks, etc. Pressing the function key twice centers the screen to the base building. You should only do that, however, if you actually need to do something in your base (e.g. build another building) since you can issue build orders at the front this way.
Microing forward bases at the front
Assign a control group to a forward base to issue orders without leaving the front by pressing the assigned #.
Switching in between members of a control group
Use the tab (from left to right) and SHIFT+TAB (from right to left) keys to browse between control group members.
Select all on-screen units of a certain type
CTRL+left click a certrain unit. It will only select on-screen units though.
Cycle through idle units
Use "," (builders), "." (infantry) and "/" (vehicles) to cycle through units. Bridger's lay-out replaces these with CTRL+Q, W and E.
Hold en drag-move the right mouse to set the direction of a unit. Have them face the enemy. This is very important for MG nests and AT guns of course.
You can give units multiple orders by press SHIFT while you give instructions. E.g. you can tell an engineer to capture three points, build sand bangs and cover behind them facing the enemy right at the start. This works for all orders: build orders, capturing orders, move orders, directional deployment, etc.
There seems to be a problem with the attack-move command when using its shortcut. Using the mouse to select and order it, should work fine in a queue.
The following is not a specific queue issue, but be aware that you have to keep your units near a halftrack/base when reinforcing them. The loading bar will fill up, but you won't get replacement soldiers unless you're near a halftrack/base.
When your queued troops encounter an enemy, they will defend/seek cover/attack until the enemy dies or retreats before continueing the queue. If you want them to continue their assignment, you should cancel the queue and micro them manually until there are no enemies in sight. An operation point is also considered an enemy. Queued units that encounter an enemy OP will attack it until it explodes before continuing their queue. As a result, you should never queue vehicles (or units for that matter) that should go directly to a spot on the map. They might halt when encountering enemies, so order them there with one right click or by microing them. Read the topic "center screen to an event" for more help on this.
Center screen to an event
Just press the space bar to browse events. This is a very useful one indeed, so check up on every event. This is especially useful with queued units, since they'll stop and attack every enemy they encounter. They will always alert you through an event pop-up so press space bar so you can decide whether or not they should continue their queue (by microing them manually).
Use waypoints to move your units exactly the way you like by using SHIFT as described above.
Microing and backing up tanks
For starters, don't move tanks in groups. The pathfinding will backfire on you. Move them individually and spread them out. Don't expect to group some tanks here and move them into battle there. It doesn't work that way because the pathfinding for tanks could use some work. Besides, tanks are very expensive, so you want to check their every move.
You should also learn the distinct features of tanks. Some tanks are only useful against others, some only against infantery, some require much attention, some require little attention, etc: A good example are Shermans versus Stugs. Shermans are the better units in this confrontation, but only if you micro them. They're more mobile and can fire in 360° while Stugs can only fire in front of them since they haven't got a turret. If you put them facing each other without moving, the Stug will defeat the Sherman. If you move the Sherman around the Stug in a circular motion, constantly flanking it, the Sherman will defeat the Stug. So as an Allied player, you should micro the Sherman a lot because else you're going to lose him. If you don't like to micro it too much, AT guns with anti-infantery support are a better alternative to deal with Stugs.
You can make tanks drive in reverse by right clicking behind them. Always keep your front armor facing the enemy. If you want to retreat a tank in reverse, you can always use SHIFT to queue multiple right clicks as you'd do with any other command. The tank will stay in reverse if you use short enough intervals.
Select a building and right click somewhere to make a rally point. Units coming out of that building will head to the rally point automatically. You can also set rally points on a specific unit.
You can make a unit follow another by right clicking on the lead unit. They will, however, stop following them after they have both reached a destination.
Don't forget to use the mini map to move the camera around. It's quick and efficient.
You can also direct units using the tactical map screen. E.g. Use shift to make waypoints and capture multiple points on the map. The only drawback is that units selected in the tactical map won't always be selected when you go back to the 3D game. (Btw, rotate this map by pressing ALT and moving the mouse.)
When hovering over a capture point with the mouse cursor make sure it changes to a circle icon or the unit won't capture it; it will just stop or go on to next waypoint. (Also, if the cursor doesn't change -assuming the unit can cap points- then it means it's already been captured by the enemy and an OP has been built on it.)
You're also able to assign hotkeys using the tactical map using the CTRL + # combination. Click and drag to select multiple units. This feature makes the control groups even more useful, since you can quickly assign entire fronts to a hotkey this way.
Units stay selected between tactical map and 3d view as long as you only use the keyboard shortcut toggle (num0) to switch between the two AND you dont click anywhere with the mouse in either one since that de-selects whatever you have selecte
Use cover to your advantage
Always micro your troops into cover. If you move your mouse pointer over cover, you will see a green, red or yellow shield. Green's the best, yellow is very good and red is very bad. Always leave your units in green or yellow cover. Look for craters, plants, tanktraps, cars, etc. to provide it. Houses and bunkers have even better than green cover but it takes a while to get your units in and out. Do not underestimate the advantage of cover.
Don't let the AI fight your battles
You should constantly be issueing orders but don't let the AI fight your battles. If your units encounter an enemy you should micro that unit into the best position to kill the enemy, hold their ground for reinforcements or retreat. Some units are better at long range, others are better at close range, cover will keep them alive longer, etc. Some matchups require very little micro, others require a lot. E.g. your puma armored car versus riflemen with sticky bombs requires constant micro, while your puma versus engineers only requires that you right click the engineers with the puma.
It's hard to practice microing all these commands when you're getting wtf pwned by the computer as much as I am...
Heard this one a couple of times over xFire. Here's are some tips of mine which will get you to defeat the computer on normal in a game or ten. Please note that this is all about Skirmish mode. Micro isn't important to win in Campaign. Just consider campaign mode as a damn cool tutorial for Skirmish mode.
To defeat the computer on normal, all you need is a decent microing speed and some basic knowledge of the game and how to respond to the computer's actions. Play victory point games because those games are shorter than annihilation (unless you're using a rush) and you need to get some mileage fast.
Whether you play as allies or germans is up to you. If you've done the campaign I recommend to learn the allies first but the final choice's up to you. The two sides are in no way similar, so focus on one side first.
Play your first game on easy (obviously) and use the "pauze" button on your keyboard. It will pauze the game and you can give all your units orders while everything is frozen. Pauze the game every time a unit finishes an order and every time an event happens. It's very important to use the microing tips above when pauzing the game, so you learn them too. As soon as you've beating the computer on easy with the help of pauzing the game, you are ready to continue.
If you dislike turning RTS in a kind of TBS game by using pauze, you can also use a slow-down script.
If you can't beat the easy computer when pauzing the game to issue commands, then you are having problems with the game concepts. Other threads on this forum cover these aspects of the game, so read them. Try to learn from mistakes you make. Another good resource to improve your in-game decisions are replays, shoutcasts and this strats forum.
If you can beat easy with pauzing, you can try to beat easy without pauzing or as little pauzing as possible. When you're beating the computer without pauzing on easy, you're ready to play normal. Don't pauze the game to issue orders after making that step. It's in your best interest to stop using pauze completely so you can play the game online (where the battles are a lot more fun and interesting).
If you can beat the consistently on normal, you're ready to play online, hard mode or proceed to harder levels where to computer will get an unfair advantage (expert). I recommend online play out of these two, because that's where the real action is.
For people who are really in need of a victory against the computer, here are two fail-proof rushes that will wtf pwn the computer every time: the allied demo rush and the axis schrek rush. Beating the computer using rushes like these, doesn't really count in the objectives above. It's very easy to beat the computer using them but it's also very boring and you're not really playing the game yourself since you're carrying out instructions.
Read some more
I hope you've enjoyed this introduction to CoH micro. Go out and try my advice in-game now. Just remember: my tips are just tools and not objectives. Only use them if they improve your efficiency. Don't use them just for the sake of it. If you're using more than you can manage, they'll backfire on you. See #52 and #53 for an example about the use of control groups.
My last advice is that you read some more on CoH on the forums. There's the strategy section of gamereplays.org and relicnews.com where you will find tons of information on CoH. You should look for threads that describe certain strategies and units to familiarize yourself with them. E.g. Did you know that vanilla Volksgrenadiers should attempt to keep a long distance between themselves and riflemen, while Volksgrenadiers with MP40s should try to get as close as possible? A good archive of tips like that can be found here.
Reading strategy threads will improve your game very quickly, but don't forget: a good strategy won't work unless you've got your micro down. You should also be aware, though, that updates will alter the gameplay. Some units get nerfed and others get better in an update, so check the game version if possible.