Saturday, March 7, 2015

Company of Heroes Walkthrough - Invasion of Normandy - Mission 7 - Sottevast (Expert)

Company of Heroes Walkthrough - Invasion of Normandy - Mission 7 - Sottevast

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

This mission makes zero sense. You break in the front door and are to hold ground for reinforcements, but the enemy does not redirect units -- especially anti-infantry armored vehicles -- to the scene even though they constantly fail to retake control of their front door. Anyway...

Although you start with just Paratroopers, this mission suddenly becomes remarkably easy because you are given tanks against the base defenders who are mostly infantry.
  • The Flakvierling 38 20mm AA gun are very dangerous to infantry but on Expert Difficulty, an MGMC Halftrack (with the Quad .50 Cal Maxson Mount) can easily outlast one in front-to-front shooting contest -- and you will get two MGMCs and other tanks in this mission. Only two crewman need to be killed -- the third dismounts to defend on foot.
  • We finished this mission losing only a single Paratrooper squad member to surprise sniper fire at the Oxygen Tanks.
Part 1 - Secure Entrance

Don't go in the front way, or even the shattered gate section to the left -- your units will probably be detected on their way in. Instead, make your own entrance at the far left (see picture below). This way, you can bring everyone in and prepare before engaging any of the enemy, possibly by going into the moat for hard cover.
Reinforce your teams to full 6/6 units -- you can do so safely here. And instead of using a Satchel Charge, get at least one team the M18 57mm Recoilless Rifle upgrade -- contrary to the mission briefing, you can get at least that heavy weapon without stealing it from the Germans.
  • You may want to consider only getting one team the Recoilless Rifle upgrade. Since anti-tank will be done by your own tanks, it may be more useful to have them pick up German light machine-guns dropped by enemy squads during this mission, allowing them to suppress enemy infantry.


In the video below you can see how an assault on the front gate can go very badly (on Hard Difficulty) if you charge straight in, especially when the Germans man their machine-guns and Anti-Aircraft Gun against you.



Part 2 - Hold Entrance

The mission to hold the entrance doesn't start until you have captured the Strategic Point, which you can't really do without taking out the machine-gun towers. Until the towers are down, enemy reinforcements spawn from the left tower. You can therefore (very slowly) collect Command Points by killing these reinforcements until you get bored.

The machine-gun towers CAN poke their guns out another window, so you don't have that much time to flank them, although coming in close to the walls seems to work. You can therefore stop your units there and have them attack the tower itself with a Recoilless Rifle to bring it down without using resources instead of using a Satchel Charge.



Once you are ready to capture the Strategic Point at the main gate, you can wait to establish your defense lines first, although there is time to build them before enemy units actually arrive.
If you wander too far forward (see below), you risk attracting the attention of placed units and once engaged you will end up alerting that entire sector to your presence and attract more enemy units to your location.



Below is a picture of our defensive line.
  • We put up tank traps just in case a tank gets sent our way, but none ever came. Notice we put it to block the "moat" which tanks can't go through anyway, thus blocking pretty much the entire approach so we could just pull back if necessary. All other base structures are too light to stop a tank.
  • We put our machine-guns closer to the AA gun so that all three can help (although the machine-guns tend to pin enemies first and wipe out most). Two machine-guns comfortably held off the infantry assaults, but there is more than enough Population Cap to support more guns.
  • The Paratroopers behind the wall on the right side are merely forward spotters for our machine-guns and generally did not end up fighting. The holes we made in the walls from taking out the machine-gun towers were blocked against infantry with barbed wire, as shown.
  • We put our machine-gun teams BEHIND the Strategic Point. Enemies will usually want to shoot the first thing they see, which means they aren't shooting at our machine-gun teams and we can in turn pin them before taking significant enemy fire.
    • In between attack waves we repaired or replaced the Listening Post, of course. If you look at the Manpower accumulation rate, clearly it is cheap and disposable in this mission.
  • If we housed units in the square bunker to the left, they would be ahead of the Strategic Point AND some units would stand on the rooftop without cover. So overall that was a bad choice for defense even though units would be in a building.
  • If the enemy advanced closer than the remains of the machine-gun towers, our AA gun also got to shoot, so the whole stretch of road bordered by thin walls was one deadly suppression fire killzone.
  • Enemy infantry are dropped off by halftracks. If the halftracks take any hits at all, they retreated. If you absolutely want to kill them, try mines near the towers you took out.
   
The first 10-minute defense saw only a couple waves of infantry, all almost instantly suppressed or pinned. The subsequent 10-minute defense stretches had NO attackers at all, possibly because we didn't alert any neighbouring sectors or because we were too far back from the Strategic Point. In any case, the final reinforcements were: 1x Engineer Squad, 2x MGMC Halftrack, 2x M4 Sherman, 1x M8 Greyhound.

Since you cannot build a Triage Centre, the safest way to handle this mission is to take point with vehicles and pull them back for repair. Absolutely do not lose your Engineer Squad, even if you have to leave them far behind.

Part 3 - Capture Sectors

Each Sector has a Guard Tower. If you do not take out a Guard Tower on alert (sirens on), enemy infantry spawn from it. Since these are just infantry, if you are taking point with armored vehicles and tanks, it really doesn't matter so much. Have your tanks blow it up whenever you are ready.

Each Sector has some sort of trigger (typically when an Anti-Aircraft Gun is destroyed) that causes the Axis commander to make a panicky announcement. When that happens, enemy infantry are spawned from two locations: Off-map from the northeast edge (see below) and from buildings on the roof of the large building to the west. The latter charge down some stairs (see below, lower picture).
Until you are pretty close to the ramp down to the V2 launch platform, no matter what the announcement (some sound more serious than others) the results appear to be the same.
Until the Base Komandant is killed, announcements and off-map reinforcements continue even after all Guard Towers are destroyed.

 


As you go straight up the road from the entrance you will encounter at least one mortar team around the middle. That is your chance to get a first mortar. Two is nicer for getting first-strike-kills against enemy mortar positions -- that is, when you know where they are and launch your salvo before they can shell you back.

To the southwest are Oxygen Tanks watched by a Sniper in a sandbag nest. The Sniper starts camouflaged but whenever you see such a nest, an exploratory mortar bombardment should reveal units there even if the location is in the fog of war.



The Oxygen Tanks can apparently only be destroyed by demolitions, and an order to plant demolitions causes the ordered unit to plant three. You can abort and move the unit away prior to planting three but you cannot detonate any until all three are planted (see below).
There is no time limit to this so you might as well clear the area first before planting demolition charges.



Near the Oxygen Tanks is also the first Command Bunker of the base Komandant. When the bunker is severely damaged, he and his Knight's Cross escort will run to another Bunker near the Flak88, and when that position has to be abandoned, he will run down the ramp to the launch pad (see below) and flee no further. Remarkably hard to kill, though. I recommend not chasing him, and instead attack him whenever your advance into the base reaches his location.



The broad roof has another Sniper (see below) as well as a 88mm Flak 36 AT/AA gun.



Same as with the AA guns, the Flak88 is not considered destroyed until all three crewmen are dead, but you only have to kill two crewmen to neutralize it as a single soldier cannot operate it on their own and they will hop out to defend (see below).



Until the Flak88 is destroyed, keep an eye on it whenever you are close (you can always see it once spotted) because it can occasionally surprise you with where it can hit. Such as in the picture below where it shouldn't really be able to direct-fire on the Sherman. It can do fairly significant damage to even Veterancy level 3 M4 Shermans.



The route to the Flak88 is not so dangerous that you cannot rush with Shermans, but trying to gun down the crew with a Sherman tank's machine-gun is very tedious. The safer and not that much slower way is to mortar the position. However, be careful to draw out and kill nearby infantry first. A fairly safe position for your mortar team is in the stairwell east of the gun, leading down from the roof to the train station.

You can capture the Flak88, but this is not recommended:
  • It can take you over your Population Cap and hamper your ability to reinforce: It requires 3 crew but costs 11 Population.
  • It cannot hit anything useful by the time you have captured it.
  • It cannot be abandoned to recover crew or save them from enemy attack.
  • Enemy reinforcements can spawn from the square command bunkers on the roof, forcing you to either lose the Flak88 crew or defend them.


Part 4 - Final Approach

When the guard tower closest to the ramp down to the V2 Rocket Launch Platform is destroyed, the Base Komandant will call for the biggest push of reinforcements.

  • The usual reinforcements arrive from off-map and the roof.
  • A special mix of Knight's Cross Holders and infantry with Panzerschrecks will also arrive (see picture below for starting location). They appear even if the Komandant is dead -- there just won't be a special announcement (see below).


Once these units are clear and the Base Komandant is killed, the map is finally secure. Wire the Launch Platform and detonate it for the ending cutscene. See below for our final unit complement.

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