Friday, March 6, 2015

Company of Heroes Walkthrough - Invasion of Normandy - Mission 6 - Cherbourg (Expert)

Company of Heroes Walkthrough - Invasion of Normandy - Mission 6 - Cherbourg

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

This is a much easier mission than Mission 5 - Montebourg because of the natural chokepoints on the map.
  • Between the western pier where you start, there is a long bridge which limits how far enemy mortar can shell you from beyond the bridge. Between the middle pier and the eastern pier, there is a thin section of land and that can serve as a narrow chokepoint.
  • Block a chokepoint and you can stall the enemy while you do other things.
Because of the building density, you are liable to be surprised by anti-tank troops and not have enough time to move your valuable tanks to cover. Therefore, scouting is important. Taking out anti-tank units, or at least spotting them to plan for them early, is important. For this reason, two Snipers are recommended.
Because of your population cap, I recommend NOT reinforcing your initial Riflemen squads. Instead, use them to pick up Mortars. Leave them at squad size 2-4 and limit their exposure to seizing Strategic Points. This lets you maximize your choice of units. In doing this, we squeezed out three more Sherman tanks for a total of four plus the Sherman Crocodile initially provided.

Part 1 - Arrival

Turn the building into a Forward Barracks, then WAIT for the tanks. The area is really too hostile to explore without armor. There are a couple of things you can do, however.

First, the nearest Sniper can be taken out safely by going around to the north side and approaching with units pressed against the buildings and staying out of the Sniper's fire arc. You don't have much time since enemy infantry is approaching, but you can lob a Grenade (see picture below). On Expert Difficulty you'll have to do this twice (or with two squads).
To quickly evade enemy infantry, garrison a nearby building and if you don't want to engage them, exit out the other side.

Another Strategic Point you could capture is northwest of the building mission-marked for Forward Barracks (see picture below). The fence would normally cause you to run out onto the street and be exposed to Sniper fire from the building at the end of the street, but you can use a Panzerschreck to  blow a hole in the fence and enter the little courtyard. However, your unit will be subject to mortar fire from the town square, so it's very chancy whether you can actually capture this location without losses or not.

Part 2 - Secure the Town Hall

Once the tanks arrive you can let them take point and clear out the square in front of the Town Hall. Keep your troops out of the firefight as the enemy can't really do anything to the tanks anyway.
You will also receive a Machine-Gun Team so you can block the end of the road against infantry drifting in and secure the Strategic Point (see picture above for the area).

Part 3 - Secure the pier and Coastal Gun Battery

Now that you have a HQ, start planning your force composition, build a Tank Depot, and have your infantry scurry around grabbing resources and Strategic Points.
  • Just north of your Town Hall are resources on the other side of some buildings. You can go right through the buildings to quickly grab them:

After killing the officer spotting for artillery that will shell the waterfront south of the bridge, the lower south Strategic Point at the waterfront is still not safe to capture because a StuG across the water somehow has enough cannon range to shoot at you but your Shermans do not have the range on their own cannons to shoot back.
  • If you want to capture this location prior to seizing the middle pier across the bridge (which will also blind the AI to the location so they cannot attack it from long range anymore), you can sit a Sherman at the Strategic Point with Engineers behind to repair it. While the StuG is busy with your Sherman, capture the Strategic Point (see picture below).
  • The slower way is to use mortars and keep shelling until the StuG is destroyed or loses its main gun in a lucky hit.

Scout ahead with infantry behind buildings or with Snipers -- try not to let your tanks be surprised by enemy tanks or anti-tank weapons. A sudden rush of them can wipe a tank on Expert Difficulty -- even a level 3 Veterancy tank. If certain areas are too busy, consider using a mortar on them first. If targeted, try to use the buildings to get your tank out of line of sight.

There are unlimited reinforcements of infantry from the Coastal Gun Battery until the Strategic Point there is captured. They always head toward a specific location at the water's edge not too far north from the bridge. If you like, you can let them continually spawn and kill them off for Veterancy levels. However, there is an easier way to get XP at the Bridge.

Secure the area around the Gun Battery, but do NOT destroy the Gun Battery yet.
  • The Gun Battery doors and the Gun Battery itself can be blown up in various ways, including a Sherman tank (probably the easiest and costs no resources as you will likely have a tank there).
  • But delay doing so because until the Coastal Guns are destroyed, the enemies across the bridge have unlimited reinforcements, including StuGs from the south that move to sit in the middle of the bridge. However, if you don't cross the bridge, they won't come to you either. The StuG at the bridge won't react if it can't see any of your units.
Part 4 - Optional - Get unit Veterancy

Because a StuG periodically spawns from the south exit of the middle pier (until the Coastal Gun Battery is destroyed), you can camp the bridge to keep killing it for Veterancy.
  • In the unlikely case that your tanks haven't yet achieved Veterancy level 3 from killing lots of infantry, you can park two or three at the bridge. Watch for mortar action which can't kill your tanks but which can hurt infantry support.
    • Two tanks are recommended as a single Sherman, even at Veterancy level 3, is not guaranteed to win one-on-one against a StuG IV on Expert Difficulty.
  • Riflemen squads can also get Veterancy from tank kills, but they should hang back until the StuG engages one of your tanks. Then rush down and blow up the StuG (see picture below).

Part 5 - Optional Sightseeing, NORMAL DIFFICULTY

There is something interesting to see on this map if you HAVE NOT destroyed the Coastal Gun Battery, and if you can hold ground across the bridge at the middle pier. The fighting is so brutal that I really don't recommend this on Expert Difficulty. See picture below for the location.

At this location, basically straight east from the bridge, enemy infantry spawn immediately after each wave is destroyed. They are so numerous and spawn so quickly that it's like popcorn popping. I camped the location with a Crocodile and supporting troops for a long time but it looked like the infantry never stopped spawning.
Just to the north of this location is where SdKfz 251 Half-Tracks steadily arrive, also in apparently unlimited numbers.

Part 6 - Cross Bridge

When you are tired of killing StuGs, destroy the Coastal Gun Battery. You will then get the Off-Map Artillery Support power for free, which means you have basically won the mission if you want to just spam that power.
Fighting your way across the bridge is not that bad, but infantry losses can be significant because of mortar fire you can't get to fast enough. Instead, send your Snipers first. We will discuss this mission without using the Artillery Power unless necessary.

If you do want to charge across:
  • Remember that your tanks can use the buildings near the German end of the bridge for cover so that you can avoid being engaged by more than one tank at a time (see picture below).
  • Watch out for Pak38 AT Guns and Panzerschreck infantry coming down the main road.
  • If you need help against the tanks, clear the big building (see picture below) and put in your own AT-equipped infantry. Suddenly the enemy tanks will be exposed to flank AT hits.
  • Get the mortar teams early to protect infantry.

The much safer way is to reconnaissance first.

First, start with some "exploratory mortar shelling". For example, you know that sandbags usually mean enemy heavy weapons teams (see below). Shell it in the fog of war to see if anything is there and to stir up the Germans and see what they send over the bridge. The bridge is a chokepoint where your massed troops should be able to crush whatever they send over.

Next, send a couple of Snipers over and carefully look around.
  • You want Veterancy level 3 Snipers if you can because there are patrols and scripted reinforcements, so occasionally they will have to run and you really don't want them ever out of Camouflage unless out of line of sight of anything.
  • Sending Snipers over, even if they are never discovered, will trigger enemy activity. Infantry (possibly all the way from their far HQ to the northwest) will periodically head for your HQ (but always stop to engage whatever they spot), so be prepared with a tank or two to intercept them. They follow the same route all the time, so it's easy to just park a tank where you know they will come.
  • Try to snipe Pak38 50mm Anti-Tank Guns and Mortar Teams. Once those are out of the way, you can start moving your tanks over slowly. Remember that Shermans cannot reliably go one-on-one against StuGs on Expert Difficulty, so what you may have to do is send two tanks over, kill a StuG, then withdraw back. Keep doing this until the area across the bridge is mostly clear.
  • After the enemy tanks are clear, scout with your Snipers again and take out mortar teams (see below) and whatever else you can.

Finally once the mortar teams are killed, you can send tanks over to hold ground AND send infantry to support them. Until the mortar teams are gone, infantry are very vulnerable.
  • There is a German Tank Depot (Panzer Command) to the south of the middle pier and it will periodically create a tank, so send a couple of your own to find and destroy it, as well as other tanks positioned at various points south. Scout with your Sniper so you can plan to approach tanks from the flank and get first strike.
  • Secure the south side before proceeding north to make sure your rear is covered.
Part 7 - Destroy the Demolition Station

The rest of the map is basically just inching forward and seizing ground -- except for the time-limited mission to Destroy the Demolition Station.
As soon as you are very close to the middle Strategic Point on the middle pier, you will trigger a time-limited mission to destroy a Demolition Station. On Expert Difficulty, you have 90 seconds from the time they start talking about the mission. In the picture below (from a Normal Difficulty gameplay, where you get an extra 30 seconds to complete the mission), you can see approximately where the mission begins.

Listen to the briefing and they will reveal the area briefly. That is your opportunity to get in a first Off-Map Artillery Strike. Before the cooldown ends, you can have Snipers in range to spot for artillery and get in a second Artillery Strike right away. Remember to artillery strike the Demolition Station again as soon as you can.
On Expert Difficulty, you can probably get in three full strikes before there are 2 seconds left, but because of the random spread to the strikes, there is no guarantee that the building will be destroyed by artillery strikes alone. Therefore, the potentially easy way to do this mission -- sneak up a Sniper to spot for artillery -- is not reliable. You still want Snipers scouting the way, but you will probably need tanks to finish the job.

On Expert Difficulty, have the first strike hit the INFANTRY first. On Expert, the two Panzerschrek suicide squads are very dangerous to your tanks if you want your tank assault to survive at all. If you look at the pictures below, you will see that there are two Panzerschreck teams, and BOTH SURVIVE the artillery strike that was roughly centered on the infantry mass.

For your advance, you need all the tanks you can get. You probably need 1 tank to hold the line at the chokepoint to the third pier, where enemies stream endlessly from the HQ, including one mortar team. You also want your Crocodile to deal with any infantry in cover and to quickly kill them. We were able to field two Shermans and one Crocodile, and leave two Shermans to hold ground at the chokepoint (which was more than enough since the infantry reinforcements sent against them never included anti-tank weapons).

Also, you want to get advance notice of what's ahead so you can coordinate which unit strikes what on your way to the Demolition Station. To do that, we sent two Snipers all the way up to garrison one of the buildings nearest the Demolition Station that had sightline on the infantry.
  • On the way they spotted an AT Gun, which we flanked and took out with the Crocodile before continuing that tank up the west side.
  • Once in the building, the Snipers' main task was to take out any anti-tank infantry, which meant infantry bearing Panzerschreks that survived the artillery bombardment.
    • Pause and click on the exact unit carrying the Panzerschrek to kill that model specifically. This should at least delay them using their anti-tank weapon on your tanks.
    • Remember that when a squad loses a special-weapon-carrying member, another squad member automatically gets the weapon unless no one is available to do so. This is another reason why we hit Infantry with the initial artillery bombardment -- to thin out the squads as early as possible.
    • The AI typically does not pick up heavy weapons.
  • On the east side is a Panzer. It will charge down past your tanks to hit them from the side or rear. Block it with your tanks if you can and double-team it. Rush infantry to blow it up with infantry anti-tank weapons if you want extra insurance -- basically, use whatever you've got to take it down quickly and continue on.
If you fail to destroy the Station, not too much happens. The Station still gets destroyed by script and there are some explosions here and there, but no actual change to the map.

Part 8 - Clear the Map, Destroy HQ Buildings

As mentioned before, there really isn't anything too special to the rest of the map. If you watch enemy reinforcements carefully, you will notice that mortar teams are typically sent to specific locations so you can camp those locations and kill them as they come; or kill them on the way to those locations.

Below you can see our final troops for this map at the end of the Mission.

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