Army Composition and Population Cap
- Except Engineers, infantry are useless in this map as they move too slowly to rush positions that are dangerous to your tanks (e.g. AT Gun). It is possible to flank AT guns with infantry, but they are usually protected by other units.
- In the unusual case where you have to retreat your tanks, you could try rushing the enemy tank with infantry since their main guns have trouble shooting infantry and the Germans don't yet have machine guns on their tanks (they will in later missions).
- Use your Riflemen to grab Mortars instead of building your own.
- If they are Veteran, don't waste the entire team capturing a Mortar. If you have a team of 5, 3 models will crew the Mortar at level 0 (no Veterancy) while the remaining 2 will retain their Veterancy. Reinforce their numbers again before taking another Mortar.
- There is one Mortar Team in the southeast, at the courtyard. There are multiple Mortar Teams in the Panzer Command Forward Base, but you will want to have your own Mortar Team to shell them. Good for picking up a second and third Mortar, though.
- 3 Engineer squads should be plenty for this mission. Save your Population Cap for another Sherman.
- You need only one Minesweeper. If you want to try to get Veterancy for your Engineers, give them flamethrowers and rush-attack buildings. Losses are basically guaranteed on even Normal difficulty, so retreat the survivors to Reinforce their numbers back at HQ, a field Barracks, or the Halftrack (whether upgraded to M16 Machine Gun Motor Carriage (MGMC) Halftrack or not).
- One Mortar should be enough but there is also a lot of easy XP on the map if you want to train up another Mortar team.
- Save up your Population Cap for 1-2 Shermans. On Expert Difficulty, even Veterancy level 3 Shermans cannot reliably go one-on-one with a Panzer. You really need to double-team them.
- Tank Traps can be built, but I really didn't see any need for them in this mission.
Look closely at the mission map and spot the enemy fortress to the right with the thick outlines. It's not mentioned to you but it is obvious and an endless source of infantry and tanks that trickle down to attack you.
Part 2 - Dog Company
- Even if you don't upgrade your Halftrack to get the quad guns (a highly recommended move since it transforms the Halftrack to a powerful anti-personnel vehicle), disembark the Riflemen to take the HQ building now.
- Cautiously send your tanks up, watching for AT fire from the flanks.
- If you are attacked by AT guns, rush the M3 Halftrack or M8 Greyhound to flank the gun and machine-gun the crew. Do not tough it out with any of your tanks, even if you have front armor facing the gun.
- On Normal difficulty, you really need only a couple of tanks to relieve Dog Company. However, there are a lot of enemy infantry so you might as well send a few to spread the XP and Veterancy around.
- Some Veterancy for the M4 Shermans is very useful and easy to get in this early encounter.
- Dog Company is relieved once the lone Panzer approaching from the north is destroyed. Once Dog Company emerges from the buildings, you can hold the courtyard with a tank but don't hesitate to give it up if you are having trouble holding ground closer to your HQ.
- A Panzer IV or Ostwind Flakpanzer may come from the north, and these are a threat to anything lighter than a Sherman. You generally need more than a couple of sticky bombs to really kill a tank so infantry are useless.
- You can give up the position if you need all your tanks, but sometimes German squads from the north map exits may charge down this way toward your HQ so it can be useful to block this choke point while you clear the south side of the map.
This first phase is meant to get you warmed up with moving tanks. You may want to micromanage their movement in short steps in case they path-find in strange ways, such as up a steep dirt mound:
Part 3 - Build HQ and Clear South Side of the Map
- Resources are very scarce at the start. You can push ahead and capture the lower half the map with your tanks without ever upgrading anything on Normal Difficulty, but on higher Difficulties you may want to hold ground and wait for resources, the M1A1C 76mm Armor-Piercing Cannon upgrade, and to build one more M4 Sherman.
- If you build the Triage Centre, put it north of your HQ since that is where most infantry units end up after a Retreat. Anywhere else and you will have to manually move the unit into the healing radius of the Triage Centre.
- Proceeding too far north will trigger a Panzer encounter (see part 4) which you may not be ready for; and roads will have sections that are mined.
- Try to find the choke points where enemy squads and the occasional tank comes down toward your Strategic Points.
- The AI units are remarkably good at slipping between the sight range of any of your Strategic Points and can suddenly show up at your HQ with no warning.
- Until you have found the chokepoints to reliably intercept them, have close by your HQ an anti-personnel vehicle such as the M3 Halftrack upgraded with the Maxson Quad .50 Cal Anti-Aircraft Gun to quickly cut them down and chase stragglers.
- The main locations are:
- The main road (stay south of the fork to avoid engaging the bulk of German infantry for now).
- South of the courtyard where Dog Company had to be rescued.
- South exit of the Panzer Command Forward Base.
- Also find the Panzer Command Base.
- There is a mortar team at the northern corner of the base which is defending the base and therefore won't move (i.e., can't be lured out). Knock them out early if you can position your team. You don't really have to see them -- you can know their location from the semi-circle of cover in the corner.
- Since they don't move, you can handle them later by putting your team far enough away from them. There is a little nook in the hedges at the east edge of the map where you can hide your mortar team. Might as well start lobbing shells early because the buildings are very tough for the naturally inaccurate mortars.
- Before your assault on the base, you will want to take out the enemy Mortars so that your Engineers following in to support your tanks will be safe.
- If you proceed further north than the fork in the main road, you may trigger a Destroy Panzer Grouppen Objective. The two main triggers are:
- On the west side or middle, encountering a Panzer.
- On the east side, sighting the enemy HQ. If you are approaching from the south, sighting just the grey Wehrmacht Quarters will not trigger it. The larger building to the north of this must be sighted. It can be merely located in the fog of war, but must be revealed for the Panzer Objective to trigger.
- The Objective to kill 12 Panzers (on Expert Difficulty) starts with a cutscene showing Panzers busting through walls. During that cutscene units are still moving and fighting and you may very well lose units while the cutscene plays out.
- You can try to immediately press [ESC] to cancel the cutscene.
- Four of the Panzers will start charging down south and, once past the courtyard where Dog Company was located.
- Rally your tanks and organize a defense where you can team up against the tanks and have Engineers nearby for repair. Also, keep your lighter vehicles at a safe distance. Retreating and regrouping on open ground is much safer than trying to deftly maneuver in the city maze.
- If you are having a lot of trouble, use the M4 Sherman's Fire Smoke Shell ability if you have it, although that requires having built the Tank Depot, and you may be short of Manpower for a long time if you put Observation Posts on all the southern Strategic Points. Therefore, hold ground, get your upgrades, then trigger the objective.
- Once the forward Panzers are destroyed you can leave the objective until you encounter the rest later in the northern parts of the map. Once all 12 Panzers are destroyed, remaining lighter tanks flee out the northern road map exits.
Once you can hold ground elsewhere, organize three or four tanks to surge into the base.
- Destroy the enemy mortar team with your own or early in the assault, in order to make it safe for your Engineers to accompany your tanks for repair.
- There are AT guns watching the entrances. You can rush them up the ramp from the west side with either Engineers with flamethrowers or Riflemen with grenades. Once clear, you can move your tanks in.
- There are three routes into the compound formed by thick hedges. The northern one puts you closest to the buildings that produce tanks, so that is favoured for stopping tank production as soon as possible. A single tank out of heavy weapons line of fire can actually last quite a long time on its own when tucked in that corner where the mortar teams are located. See picture below.
- If entering the compound is too hazardous to your units, then you can hold ground outside and use Mortar Teams to keep shelling the base slowly until the production facilities are destroyed. This however requires that you have destroyed the mortars in the corner, which can be tricky to do without entering the base.
- You can try this by clearing the infantry outside the compound, then retreating to Repair.
- If you send in the lighter Greyhounds, they are quite vulnerable to mortar fire. The Shermans will still take damage but much less so and will last longer. Plus, if a tank comes out of the compound, you'll want a Sherman to handle them.
- Next, rush infantry in before they are shelled and lob Satchel Charges over the bushes. Alternatively, shell-and-retreat with your own mortar teams until the enemy mortars are destroyed.
- Once the enemy mortars are destroyed, you can just hold ground and slowly shell from afar until the Panzer Command and Sturm Armoury are destroyed.
- The Armor Company > Armored Support > Field Repairs power is very useful here for emergencies if you insist on not wanting to lose any tanks during the assault and also don't want to risk sending in Engineers to get blown up.
Part 6 - Secure North Side and Handle Mines
North of the Panzer Command Base and north of the graveyard, any road northward is likely to be mined. The first time you spot a mine, the script will cause the mines to explode. This can damage nearby units, including enemy units. For example, in the picture below, we sighted the mines with our M8 Greyhounds and the nearby Panzer got its ass blown up.
- Travel off-road if possible, by busting down walls with tanks if necessary.
- Although the Company of Heroes Wiki indicates that the Crab Mine Flail renders a Sherman immune to mines, in practice (on version 2.700.242) I did not find this to be the case and more often than not suffered engine damage. For safety, go with Engineers with MineSweepers. Just one is enough. Idle Engineers will disarm nearby mines but otherwise they continue walking and the mines will eventually re-arm.
- As soon as you can go off-road, do so and scout ahead to keep your Engineers safe on the road. There are no mines off-road -- probably because the designers are sensible people who drive on roads when roads are available.
- You can scout ahead with a Sniper, or just send a tank. While you hold ground or clear the way while parked off-road, your Engineers can continue clearing the road.
- There is no time limit here so retreat your Engineers to the Triage Centre for healing if necessary. Everyone else just park and hold.
- Another way to clear mines is to blow them up with mortar bombardment.
The Convoy does not have to exit them map, just get close enough to the exit -- and quite far from enemy spawn points at the northern edges of the map. Interestingly, they try to drive off-road, but the mines are placed at chokepoints where off-road is blocked by foliage, so that is no help at all -- you really have to take out the mines.
Below is our final unit composition (no full-unit losses) on Expert Difficulty. No Snipers since we did reconnaissance-in-force with tanks.
Also, we took the mission Strategic Point at the fork last, thereby simultaneously opening both routes for the Red Ball Express. It appears that the first choice for the Convoy is the western road, as pictured above.