Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Company of Heroes Walkthrough - Invasion of Normandy - Mission 4 - Carentan Counterattack (Normal)

Company of Heroes Walkthrough - Invasion of Normandy - Mission 4 - Carentan Counterattack (NORMAL difficulty)

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

Setup for Mission 4 really begins in Mission 3 - Carentan. You can mine the map a little or a lot, and set up sandbags and barbed wire if you like. There are various levels of this:
  • Naïve: You are not expecting a counterattack and are surprised by this mission. At the start of the mission you mine the spawn point and bridges.
  • Light preparation: You mine and put defensive fortifications around the Church and the Strategic Points across the river, if you bothered to capture those.
    • If you didn't capture them in Mission 3 (why?), there will be enemy forces (including Snipers) at the start of Mission 4.
  • Sensible preparation: You also mine all main roads and bridges.
  • Paranoid preparation: You somehow rustle up the resources to mine every inch of the map. Yes, even off-road.
    • If you want to accumulate a lot of resources to do excessive mining, you can use the console to accelerate the game:
      • Change the command line to run the game to include the -dev switch.
      • In-game, use Ctrl-Shift-Tilde to open the console.
      • Use the command setsimrate(16) to approximately double the speed of the game.
      • Leave the game running for an hour or two to get the obscene amount of resources you need.
On Normal Difficulty, you can win with the Bronze Star by camping the spawn point, but obviously you will have more losses if you don't have mines. Paranoid preparation should Mission 4 with Bronze Star at any difficulty without having to send any troops to fight the Germans at all:

Part 1 - 10 Minutes of Preparation

We assume that you have already secured all Strategic Points north of the bridges during Mission 3 (why not?). Therefore, at the start of Mission 4 the entire map is safe and you are just moving troops up. From the briefing we know where the Germans will approach:

Later in the mission they will start coming from other roads as well but the bulk of the force is from directly north. Quite early on, small teams will go for your Strategic Points north of the river. If you still have your Jeep, you can rush them to gun down infantry but having mines on all roads and around your Strategic Points is much more efficient.

In the picture below is our second play-through on NORMAL Difficulty where we tried not camping the spawn point so tightly, allowing the Germans to leave the spawn point and presumably also lose their hidden defensive advantage on the spawn point.
  • In the square area they spawn into, even a grenade on Normal Difficulty is not guaranteed to kill infantry. They are that tough. Mines are the overkill way, but obviously you can't lay them safely (or at least not have nearby enemies trigger them and blow up your own infantry too).
  • The distance shown below worked fairly well against infantry but vehicles were still inside the spawn point for the most part and hard to take out.
  • Since mortars have extreme range, they also stayed within the spawn point anyway and were impossible to take out without attempting Paratrooper rushes to Satchel Charge. An extreme number of mortars get spawned, presumably to force the story line: You are probably meant to be pushed back across the bridges by the 9:00 mark so the Germans can be in sight of the river for the first artillery barrage.
  • Since you start with so many troops, initial troop deployment is not much under your control. There are a lot of MG42s laying around so you could convert some Paratroopers to Machine-gun Teams, but this is not recommended since every 15 Fuel (and 200 Manpower, which you have plenty of) lets your Engineers build a no-population-cost Machine Gun Emplacement (even though you can clearly see a person manning the gun once the tent top is blown off).
  • Also we mined the road and a perimeter around the spawn point to blunt advances.
  • Machine-Gun Emplacements are structures and very vulnerable to being accurately shot at by tanks. We therefore placed them further back as a second line of defense to suppress any infantry that gets close to our sandbags. Front line suppression was provided by mortar bombardment, Machine-Gun Teams, and some Engineer support if they weren't building more Machine-Gun Emplacements.

Part 2 - Cutscene of Germans Entering

During the cutscene, some Germans enter their square entrance area and are immune to everything until the cutscene ends. If you have mines under all of them, they all blow up at the same time. In the picture below, you can see just how far of a head start they have.

Part 3 - Hold the Line

At 7:20 minutes we were still holding the line and had gotten the Normal Difficulty Bronze Star (250 casualties). We didn't even use the Off-Map Artillery Support power. We held for another minute or so before abandoning this front.
  • Theoretically we could have held out longer if we set a rally point nearby and just pumped troops out from the Town Hall. However, our playthrough doctrine of trying to avoid unit losses prevented this.
  • Obviously losing models from a squad is all but impossible here, especially as you cannot retreat them to be healed so a squad's health will continually go down to nothing. Instead, to fulfill our doctrine, we Retreated badly injured squads to be reinforced.
    • This meant we couldn't really just create troops out of nothing.
    • It also meant reinforcements returned to the front only after a long time.
  • We did have the early sudden loss of the Jeep and at some point we also lost a Sniper (probably once the mortars appeared) so we produced one Mortar Team, but that was the extent of new units.
Despite having to pull back (mostly because of the mortars), this strategy still seems a good one because it boxes the enemy and prevents you from having to chase them all over the map.

Structures like machine-gun nests left behind will further delay the enemy if you finally have to sound a general retreat.
  • Retreat your AT guns first as they take a long time to tear-down from firing position, and do not have a "Retreat" command.
  • Having Machine-Gun Emplacements in the back row also helped here as the enemy slowed to destroy them first before continuing.
  • In the picture below, you can see that our retreat coincided with the imminent destruction of the Town Hall by artillery barrage (even though the Germans never made it as far as the bridges during barrage). This was actually a dangerous situation as fleeing units could have run right through the barrage. I think we got lucky and lost only one mortar team this way.
Key to holding the line is also knowing when to retreat. If you delay too long you will take too many casualties and/or suffer more from too-injured units hit while fleeing. An orderly mass retreat will get you back to base for reinforcement and to rally another defense elsewhere or just defend the Church (depending on how closely the enemy is advancing).

Part 4 - Rally and Counterattack

Especially if you have mined the roads, the German advance will be slowed and disorganized after your retreat. You can send out some fast-moving strike teams to grenade mortar teams and spot for your own mortar teams.
Make sure you have some units back at the Church because tanks will magically appear to come down the alley on the right closer to the arrival of Able Company.

In the picture below you can see our surviving troops after retreat.

Part 5 - Able Company

Assuming you do not lose the Church, once Able Company arrives you get four tanks and additional troops (Riflemen). You should be able to sweep the field because most of the Germans flee. Only four tanks are left, each escorted by some infantry.
  • Even if you had extensively mined the region south of the bridges, the artillery barrages called by the Germans will probably have also cleared the mines around the Town Hall so you will likely have to go after at least three tanks.
  • You do not need your own tanks to do if you want to try to get more Veterancy for infantry teams, but the German tanks are escorted by infantry, which makes that tricky.
Our Performance

Initial Units: Status:
Paratroopers level 3 survived
Paratroopers level 3 survived
Paratroopers level 3 survived
Engineer survived
Engineer survived
Engineer survived
AT Gun survived
AT Gun promoted to level 3
AT Gun level 2 promoted to level 3
Machine-Gun Team level 2 promoted to level 3
Machine-Gun Team level 3 survived
Mortar Team level 3 survived
Mortar Team KIA
Sniper level 3 survived
Sniper level 3 KIA
Jeep KIA
Created During Mission: Status:
Mortar Team promoted to level 3

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