Hey Everyone; it'll be a short one this time around, promise.
The more I've been playing these days, the more I find myself irked and annoyed by the needlessly redundant crew/decrew weapon feature that CoH has...
Right now, when a weapon that takes a team to operate is dropped, (As in, an MG42 or Mortar), you can recrew it with regular soldiers from any of the factions. I think this is brilliant and should remain unchanged.
The problem comes in when you want the troops that are now crewing the weapon to STOP crewing the weapon and start being normal soldiers again... Especially when you may need the services of a mortar, but don't want to sacrifice half a squad for a few mortar rounds (considering how useless mortars can get).
Here's what I propose: When you order regular infantry to go recrew a weapon, (Any weapon- MGs, Mortars, Arty, Flak cannons, etc.), they break away from the squad they're in, and go man the weapon (nothing new here yet).
Once they are part of the weapon team, their stats should change slightly to represent their new role as a weapon squad (certain german teams get Ludgers, american teams get carbines, etc).
Once they have become part of the weapon team, you can tell them to drop and abandon their weapon at ANY TIME, at which point they will leave the weapon behind and become a free-floating 'weapon team squad' with no weapon. Their stats are lower than those of normal infantry, and they can only re-enforce to a maximum of three members. (That way, you can't create an unlimited number of cheap squads by simply splitting squads and re-enforcing them) If a normal squad of infantry is around that has taken enough casualties to absorb the weapon team into their ranks, without going over the maximum allowable number of men in a squad, then the two can join together to form a larger squad of regular infantry, and the weapon team will instantly receive their old weapons and stats back again.
This would also apply to weapon squads who had just been built, too- MG teams that are in danger of being overrun can simply abandon their weapon and run to safety, in the hopes of returning to their weapon once it's safe. (assuming it dosen't get jacked)
Now, a concern that many have with recrewing/uncrewing weapons (besides the squad-splitting issue, which I believe I solved above) is the fact that some weapons themselves have pop-cap associated with them. For instance, if one is able to uncrew recently built weapons, one could build a Flak 88, then uncrew the weapon to free up more popcap, build something that maxes out the popcap allowance again, and then recrew the Flak with no penalty.
I believe this issue can also be fixed relatively easily by disallowing popcap modifiers to be abused. Simply put, you cannot recrew a weapon if you don't have enough popcap to do so. The reason could be that there aren't any bullets for it, or it's out of repair or spare parts or whatever reason you want to make up for it, but the point stands that if you HAVE to have enough popcap to recrew a weapon without going over, it would prevent people from abusing popcap limits.
This change to gameplay would be simple to implement, as the button to decrew a weapon already exists in the game's code (the American paratrooper mission that involves assaulting the V2 launch pad), and the remaining code changes (troops changing permanently into weapon teams, weapon teams with no weapon) would be relatively easy to program in.
I seriously think that relic should consider this in the short term, as it would add another layer of dynamism and tactics that would reward prudent players for effective, fluid play.
As always, questions, comments, changes, and even the occasional flame is welcome!