Monday, March 16, 2015

Company of Heroes Walkthrough - Normandy Campaign - Mission 11 - Hébécrevon

Company of Heroes Walkthrough - Normandy Campaign Mission 11 - Hébécrevon

Click here for the index of our Company of Heroes Mission Walkthrough Index and our gameplay paradigm.

If you are patient, this can be a very easy, if long mission. Even if you don't want to take out the enemy base, this mission is not so bad as long as you are not hung up on holding Strategic Points.

Some tanks are hidden, usually inside a structure.
  • You can hear them even if you haven't located them.
  • If you pass close enough you will reveal them, in a similar way that Snipers are revealed when too close to enemy units.
  • They only become active when a visible unit (i.e., not a camouflaged sniper) is close enough for them to see, so you can try to skirt around them and engage only when you are ready.
  • Be wary of enemy Observation Posts near some of these hidden units, which can reveal camouflaged units.
  • Generally only Panthers are hidden on the map, but there is one Stug in the southwest (see picture below).
  • There is a Panther to the east, in the swampy area, is hidden in a large clump of undergrowth.
    • It can attack if an enemy is revealed outside of their visual distance and within line of sight for shooting; however, in such a case they typically do not move out once the enemy is lost to sight.
    • This can happen, for example, if you are shooting the Observation Post nearby.
  • When you lose sight of a Panther, your mini-map will indicate their last-known location.
Recommended troops: 1x Riflemen, 4x Engineer, 2x Sniper, 1x Mortar, 3x Sherman, 1x M-10 Tank Destroyer, 1x Pershing. This leaves you 2/75 points.
  • Theoretically you are to use M10 Tank Destroyers to flank Panthers.
    • But on Expert Difficulty even light German tanks can do serious damage to the M10s unless you face front armor against their attacks, so be cautious about how you deploy them.
    • They are useless against infantry as you cannot mount a machine-gun.
    • They cannot drop smoke (though this ability is not generally critical or useful if your units are properly supported).
    • For these reasons, you may want to lean toward having more Shermans, which are more all-rounded and have greater survivability.
  • What helps you win tank-versus-tank encounters are 2-3 Engineer teams constantly repairing the tank that is being attacked. In this way, even a Sherman can outlast a Panther, unless you start losing Engineers through them getting caught in the blast radius of each enemy shell.
    • Note that sometimes a Panther will have their own Pioneer teams repairing them, in which case you definitely want a Sherman with a machine-gunner to close the distance and kill the Pioneers.
    • If you are repairing your tanks, a Panther may charge in to machine-gun your Engineer squads.
    • Having 3-4 Engineer squads means if they come under fire while you are repairing the tank(s) taking point, you can Retreat some squads and leave others to continue repairing. You can also split the Engineers into two teams of two if you end up fighting on two fronts.
    • If you don't have enough Engineers or it is too dangerous to field them, remember you have the Field Repair power.
  • There is an enemy mortar team from which your riflemen could pick up a mortar.
    • But the area is crawling with tanks and there are two Panthers nearby. It is unlikely the Riflemen would survive trying to take it in the early game when you need it to shell the enemy base.
  • The M26 Pershing is nice to have, but not critical. If you are focussing on getting Veterancy for tanks, then you won't even use it much. It is nice, however, for its high endurance and makes a great vehicle for taking point or holding ground until more tank reinforcements arrive.
Sometimes Panthers will receive constant off-map Pioneer teams beelining to repair it. Each time a team is lost, it takes a while before another team is created. In such a case, the Panther will retreat and park in the fog of war. You can either pursue or take the opportunity to repair your own tanks while intercepting their Pioneers.

You can destroy wrecks for +1 XP.

Part 1a - Destroy Enemy Base

AVOID all Panthers if you can in the early game until you secure most of the map and destroy the enemy base. Also, once there are only 2 Panthers left, they receive significant off-map tank support and they all charge out toward your base, stopping to kill anything they see. If you are not ready, this can be a big mess.
You can engage any other unit but don't let a Panther sight you. They are passive until engaged or until they sight an enemy. One near the watery ditch approximately in the middle of the map (see below) may come at you, but avoid all other static ones if you can.

Explore the map and inch your mortar safely up the west wide, then toward the north where the enemy base is located. The enemy is quite densely packed in the northern part of the map, so you may have to get creative with how you can snipe safely. For example, in the picture below we have a sniper shooting at a German HQ and ducking behind a guard tower in between, before he can come under return fire.

Initially you can hide your mortar team behind the bushes at the north edge of the map but to get at the last buildings you will have to inch up the nearby ramp to get closer. Once that route is made safe by sniping, mine it and set tank traps to limit enemy tank pursuit.
  • Initially, the enemy will clump their tanks around whichever building is being attacked, to defend it -- even against indirect mortar shelling. (see below)
  • Once the last building is destroyed, the tanks have no buildings left to defend, so they will charge toward the last known mortar location. See the picture below for what can happen if you have already secured the location with mines.

Aside from production buildings at the very north end of the map, there are two German forward HQs. You can safely capture (in the manner of capturing a Strategic Point) once they are empty of troops. You can use the size of the building to keep out of line of sight of other units and capture it uncontested. In this way, even a Sniper can do this safely.

While you are at the western end of the map, you may see some plane wrecks. Sometimes they will glitch on game reload and you will instead see a static plane (see picture below).

Part 1b - Hold Ground and Mine Map Exits

While you are locating and destroying the enemy base, carefully secure what you can of the map. Use Machine-gun Nests to defend Strategic Points against the Pioneers and infantry that will be sent to retake them. These counterattacks finally stop when you have destroyed the buildings that produce them.
Meanwhile, don't be too hung up on holding all Strategic Points. Instead, keep some tanks at your HQ area to defend against light tanks that will periodically be sent to harrass it. When the enemy structures are finally destroyed, you can recall your snipers to scout for you and you can secure whatever Strategic Points you can without triggering the Panthers.

There are two notable locations:
  • The watery ditch area around the middle of the map has tanks around it as well as two Snipers acting as artillery spotters. Until you find and kill the Snipers, they will call artillery on units trying to take that Strategic Point. This is probably meant to be a tank trap as the water slows down all units.
  • The large silos to the north of the map middle hide two Goliaths, so you may want to avoid that, but you can often destroy them with tanks retreating quickly and/or forcing them to turn (which they do slowly). There is a brief delay before they actually explode once they reach a target location.
    • Note that Snipers can stand right next to Goliaths and locate them, but not be themselves revealed.
Note that sometimes enemy already placed on the map won't react to a Strategic Point being captured. Instead, they rely on creating infantry units to send out to recapture the point. In the picture below, we have a Sniper that is just out of Panther visual range capturing a point, and the Panther did not react.

Also, you can use the size of a building to keep capturing units out of line of sight -- even when you are capturing an enemy HQ. In the picture below, our Sniper is capturing an enemy HQ that isn't garrisoning any troops. Nearby enemy units did not react.

When you can safely do so, have Engineers mine the roads leading off map. These are locations where the Germans can call reinforcements when a Panther is engaged. These reinforcements often include tanks of as much as Veterancy level 3 (see picture below where two tanks, including a Veterancy level 3 Panzer, were instantly intercepted by mines and destroyed).

Remember that building structures (e.g., mines) can get you XP toward Command Points. It is entirely viable to get enough points to field an M26 Pershing before you control the map.

In the picture below, we have almost total map control -- Only those sectors with Panthers are not secured. Also, the enemy has no more base structures.

Part 2 - Engage Panthers

Once you have cleared as much of the map as possible, it is time to engage the Panthers. Through Sniper scouting you should have located them. Arrange your tanks then draw them out and destroy them. Sometimes when a Panther is engaged, especially if they are sitting in the open, reinforcements arrive immediately. You may wish to retreat your point units into the fog of war and wait for the enemy reinforcements to either settle down, then scout for them and take them out one by one before taking on the Panther.

If you are engaged by a Panther unexpectedly, it is usually best to retreat and let them stop pursuing you once you are out of visual range.
  • Against Panthers, M10s should back away immediately until a Sherman can come to draw fire. Even then, make sure you have Engineers nearby to repair your tanks.
  • Single Shermans should do the same as well as drop smoke as added insurance.
At 5/7 Panthers destroyed, the Germans rush their remaining two Panthers along with a LOT of reinforcements from west corner and especially from the north. This time you will face a mix of light tanks as well as Veterancy level 3 Panzers.
  • This also causes the Panther that is near the storage tanks / silos in the north-of-middle area to move out -- leaving the hidden Goliaths in that area behind and you won't have to deal with them at all.
Interestingly, differences in map height can protect units from machine-gun fire. In the picture below, the Engineers are protected from tank machine-gun fire because they are below the raised part of the map. But all tanks can hit each other even though their shells are direct-fire and should be hitting the floor/walls.

If you don't care about losses, you can basically blunder around this mission with tanks taking point, since there are no mines to contend with. See below video.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Company of Heroes Walkthrough - Normandy Campaign - Mission 10 - St. Lô (Expert)

Company of Heroes Walkthrough - Normandy Campaign Mission 10 - St. Lô

Click here for the index of our Company of Heroes Mission Walkthrough Index and our gameplay paradigm.

This is generally an easy mission as long as you properly handle the Nebelwerfers at the start. If you charge them right away, you will have a very hard time later. If you don't have enough Shermans, you may also have an annoying time.

Enemy infantry can pick up weapon drops like Panzerschreks. They can also throw grenades, but apparently only at Observation Posts (see picture below).

Part 1 - Barracks and Initial Troops

Two buildings are indicated as potential field barracks. Choose the one furthest from the Nebelwerfers (i.e. to the southeast -- see picture below).
  • Although the Nebelwerfers can bombard near you, they can't really reach the building, though you need to be careful and pull your troops back.
  • The surrounding area is generally too hostile for infantry unless you are prepared to accept squad member losses, but your jeep can take out some enemy infantry if you are careful to keep it repaired.
  • Quickly get two Snipers and start clearing the immediate area.

In the video below, you can see the mess that results if you pick the first building you see, and if you charge the Nebelwerfers right away (start at video time ~2:10).

Shortly after establishing the Barracks, a Panzer will patrol the area.
  • Retreat and hide. If it doesn't detect enemies or if enemies quickly pull back out of its visual range, it will continue on and park further away and be temporarily no threat.
  • Based on its position, secure what Stategic Points you can without drawing its attention.

Part 2 - Nebelwerfers

Do NOT destroy all the Nebelwerfers yet.
  • Snipe the crew of two and keep reconnoitering and sniping while you finish building base structures, getting upgrades, and finalizing your forces.
    • Instead of destroying the Nebelwerfers, snipe them so you can use them yourself later in lieu of mortars.
  • If you penetrate too deeply into enemy territory, tanks become more active and you may not be ready, so either don't explore too deeply or build a couple of Shermans.

After neutralizing all three Nebelwerfers, you get reinforcements.
  • You get 1x Sherman, 1x Crocodile, 1x Jeep, 2x Ranger squads (31 Population points)
  • You also get a new secondary objective to promote a Ranger squad.
  • Because these reinforcements may put you over the Population Cap, prior to taking out the Nebelwerfers, think carefully:
    • The Medal requires that at least one Ranger squad reaches Veterancy Rank 3.
    • If these reinforcements put you over the Population Cap, you will not be able to restore Ranger losses by Reinforcement, possibly making the Medal impossible unless you deliberately lose units to bring your forces under the Population Cap. Each Ranger model costs 2 Population Cap.
    • There are endless Panzer reinforcements from off-map to the north, and from the central compound / Town Hall area that the Germans have secured -- yes, tanks magically appear from nowhere, even if you have destroyed their production buildings (Krieg Barracks and Sturm Armory). for this reason, it is nice to have at least four Shermans (not Crocodiles) to double-team Panzers.
      • At Expert Difficulty, even a level 3 Veterancy Sherman can have trouble with the Panzers here, and because they sometimes appear with their machineguns manned (indicating they are Veterancy level 2 or 3), you can't always reliably have Engineers repairing your tanks in the middle of the fire exchange.
      • In order to ensure you have enough Shermans, you need to build them first before the reinforcements, or be willing to let infantry die to make room in your Population cap.

If you want to maximize your Population Cap of 75 (prior to reinforcements arriving), I recommend 3x Shermans, 3x Engineer squads, and reinforcing one of the 4-man squads of Riflemen to 6, for a total of 75/75 if you haven't lost any Rifleman models so far. Then kill the crew of the last Nebelwerfer and use Riflemen to crew the Nebelwerfers.
  • Once you have the Nebelwerfers, you should not need mortar teams, and you will generally not need mortar teams in the early game as you should be able to get by with a pair of snipers.
  • Get the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) prior to picking up Nebelwerfers as this may cause a Rifle to be dropped by the Riflemen squad, and thus picked up by another unit.
    • The Rangers cannot pick it up if they already have the short-range .45 ACP M1 Thompson Sub-Machine Gun upgrade, which replaces all four squad guns (but not the M9 Bazookas).
Part 3a - Ranger Veterancy

For the medal (Army Ranger Badge), at least one Ranger squad must be promoted to level 3 Veterancy.
  • A fairly good way to do this is to have a tank distract the enemy and follow up with Rangers. This, however, will not guarantee all squad members survive or that the enemy won't change targets. On Expert Difficulty, even regular infantry can kill off at least 1 ranger, depending on how long a skirmish lasts. If you are unable to Reinforce the Rangers due to being over the Population Cap, try to instead:
    • Target smaller squads and overwhelm them with both the Ranger squads.
    • Attack weapon crews which are typically weaker when engaged up close (e.g., AT guns).
    • Throw grenades from behind obstructions such as hedges or buildings.
(picture below) Trying to distract the Ostwind for Rangers to kill it for Veterancy, but with the SMG upgrade, Rangers tend to rush in close to allow their SMGs to hit the target, regardless of whether they can actually damage the target or not. The Ostwind could at any time switch targets to mow down the Rangers.

(picture below) A much safer way to gain Veterancy: Throwing grenades over obstructions, such as this ruined building.

Part 3b - Clear Map, Capture Strategic Points

The rest of this map is easy, but slow if you want to avoid losses. Keep your tanks in front and reserve your infantry for capturing Strategic Points. Jeeps can sometimes spot for you but Snipers are better, especially if you have gotten them to Veterancy level 3 (when they can move at full speed while camouflaged).
When you are very close to the central area (which is bounded by obstacles and impassable rubble), watch for mines. There are some on the east side where the lanes are tight and there are several AT guns. Any annoying areas such as these can be cleared with sustained Nebelwerfer barrages to protect your tanks.

Do not bother trying to capture the Town Hall / centre of the map. You can bombard inside and take out the Kreig Barracks and Sturm Armory, but the enemy will continue to receive Panzer reinforcements, even from within the compound.
Also, if you hit the Town Hall with anything, Panzerschrek-equipped Stormtroopers will appear from off-map and beeline to the Town Hall as reinforcements (see below).

The Stormtroopers are not as dangerous as they seem because they stop for nothing. They will shoot along the way, but because they don't stop to engage you can chase them with tanks, or alternatively let them go to the Town Hall then bombard the lot of them from a distance.

Once you capture all the necessary Strategic Points, the mission ends in success.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Company of Heroes Walkthrough - Normandy Campaign - Mission 9 - Hill 192 (Expert)

Company of Heroes Walkthrough - Normandy Campaign Mission 9 - Hill 192

Click here for the index of our Company of Heroes Mission Walkthrough Index and our gameplay paradigm.

Hill 192 is a really tough mission if you want the Medal on Expert Difficulty. Even if you allow unit losses -- which will cost you time to replace -- there is really very little room for setbacks because of the tight time limit.

Because the left and middle of the map looked dense and had little room for maneuvering, we chose to advance up the right where we could use more tanks at the same time. Thicker hedges could not be bulldozed, and because of the tight time limits, we went straight up the main route.
In the picture below, you can see how far we got (blue sectors) at just over half the time limit of 30 minutes.

The clock starts ticking when your first tank reinforcements come. By that time you should have been able to get a Tank Depot ready. Going right gets you Fuel but no munitions. Going left gives you more opportunities to get both but it could take longer to charge up to the hill.
Strangely, you can safely abandon your initial starting position.

We made a number of mistakes in our playthrough but still managed to get the Soldier's Medal on Expert Difficulty:
  • Capturing an AT gun.
    • Too slow to move and most fighting was done with tanks anyway.
    • Ultimately we lost this unit anyway.
  • Not getting a mortar.
    • We destroyed an enemy mortar team but it did not drop a mortar and by that time we were too far from our base to build the required structure.
      • Whenever you get the message that the enemy is flanking, it means squads are moving. They don't always go for Strategic Points you have captured, but they do camp at various locations, so when you backtrack you could run into them. This in turn means that if you Retreat units, you can also expect that they will run into these units.
  • Not getting a Halftrack to reinforce infantry in the field.
  • Not shelling the AT gun positions.
    • We didn't know where they were and initial bombardment did not reveal them, but they are basically located southwest and southeast of the Victory Point you need to capture. See picture below.
    • Not destroying them meant advancing into the fortified hill position took a long time.
    • Calliope bombardment is very unreliable and they are likely to survive several bombardments, so the sooner you start the better.

Part 1 - Get Tanks

You can capture the strategic point to the east, but if you push too far you may not have any tanks to fight enemy Panzers, and end up using too much Munitions on basically useless Sticky Bombs. Calliope bombardment is useless against enemy tanks as the spread is generally too wide to kill any vehicle.
Build as many Shermans as you can. Depending on your resources, you may subsequently build a Motor Pool and get yourself a Halftrack to reinforce units in field. If not, keep your tanks alive and engineers safe as Repairing means you can keep pressing forward with just tanks.

Part 2 - Get Calliope into position, destroy Artillery Tower

By the time you get the Calliope close enough, you will probably come under artillery fire and get a message to destroy the enemy Artillery Tower. There is one Sdkfz 251 Halftrack "Walking Stuka" rocket launcher on either side of the map and they will continually bombard you whenever they can somehow sight you, but not on the Hill itself. Also, if they lack a visible target, they appear to be scripted to bombard the entrance to the hill (see the picture below for approximate location). Destroy at least one then go for the tower.

When the Tower is in sight, something you can do is rush it with a couple of tanks. The German Halftracks do not care where they bombard as long as they are attacking your units. If you rush the Tower location with your Crocodile (to burn out the numerous infantry there), keep moving. When a bombardment appears in the location, pull out quickly and let the bombardment destroy the Tower for you.

After you destroy the Tower, except rocket bombardment to continue. You probably don't have time to destroy the other Halftrack but if you can, a lot of pressure can be lifted.

Part 3 - Secure Hill 192

The final push up the hill will be easier if you can destroy the two AT guns guarding the entrance. Otherwise, you may have to do the following, while dodging enemy bombardment:
  • Line up your tanks to cover the entrance (see picture above). You may have to pull them back if an enemy rush comes out and sights them for artillery.
  • Send in your Crocodile to destroy the tank traps so that your push forward with tanks will advance more quickly. This will probably draw a couple of Panzers, so pull back and destroy them before charging up. One Panzer will remain on the east side of the hill.
  • Rush your tanks up and because the Panzer is parked (and apparently won't move) from the east side of the hill, line them up to the west to flank (see picture below) and advance east.
  • As soon as one side is clear, you can rush your own infantry up to grab the Victory Point for the win.

In the Youtube video below, you can see the interesting option of using a swarm of Rangers to destroy everything and take the Hill (NOT played on Expert Difficulty).