I’ve said before that in my opinion, the American vs. PE matchup in the balance beta is excellent — never been better. And yet the forums, particularly the beta forum, remain lush with complaints about this matchup, almost always from the American side. Without citing any specific post or poster, I’ve seen comments ranging from “OMG Fallschirmjagers” to “Armored Car = still ridiculous” to “OMGWTFBBQ G43 Panzer Grenadiers!”
These comments show me that many players still don’t really get how to fight PE with Americans. It’s just so different from fighting Wehrmacht that many players think the PE is overpowered instead of realizing the truth, which is they need to improve their game against PE. I’ve been playing nothing but PE virtually all beta long, and I can tell you a good American player is not at a major disadvantage whatsoever.
That being said, I’ll be focusing my efforts on American vs. PE for the next few posts, as will Surprise upon his return. As a sneak peek of what’s to come on Rifles Ready!, I believe Surprise is also planning a broad post about the state of balance in the current beta patch and how it will reshape the game once it goes retail.
We’ll start today by talking about handling Panzer Grenadiers that are packing the fearsome G43 sniper rifle upgrade. This weapon is effective at all ranges, including long range. The worst possible situation your Rifles can face is multiple G43 PGs already in green cover, with a PE infantry halftrack chilling behind them. Any attempt by Riflemen to attack such a force will result in extremely heavy casualties, yet you are practically guaranteed to face this situation early in the match.
Choose your fights
First of all, if you don’t have to fight a strong PE position with G43s well-positioned, then don’t. If this impressive PE force is sitting on territory that isn’t important (i.e. not a major fuel point or a strategic point that cuts off your access to critical resources), DON’T WASTE TIME FIGHTING IT! Cap around it for the resources you’ll need to fight the PE army.
Most PE players will concentrate their force while their Kettenrad is off capping important resource sectors. A Jeep is perfect for hunting the Ketten. Destroy the Ketten and you just strengthened your natural capping advantage vs. the PE.
Remember the early PE combo of G43s + Infantry Halftrack can do more damage with focus-fire in the early game than almost any other faction. Look for the tell-tale focus-firing of your Rifles, and move that squad to the rear RIGHT AWAY. You can sometimes cause the PGs to move out of cover if your opponent doesn’t issue them another target to focus their fire on. By the same token, DO NOT MOVE YOUR RIFLES WHEN TAKING G43 FIRE! This is how you cause Riflemen to drop like flies. They suffer a negative cover penalty and do much less damage in return because it’s harder for them to move and shoot properly. If you don’t have BARs or grenades, you should minimize any movement out of cover unless retreating the squad. If you need to get close to the enemy, see below about flanking.
RETREAT EARLY. You can’t afford to lose squads so early vs. G43’s Volley Fire and an Infantry HT that can chase down and eliminate a slowed squad easily.Meanwhile, focus YOUR fire on G43 squads, not regular PGs, and focus your fire on the squads with the least health. Rifles are easily replenished, but PGs cost a lot of manpower to reinforce. If you must attack a strong PE position, try to attack from multiple directions to reduce the impact of directional cover. The key is to make sure your charging Rifles aren’t being targeted — stationary Rifles in cover should draw fire. If your enemy switches to target the charging Rifles, get THEM in cover and move your stationary Rifles to charge instead. A Flamethrower Engineer squad is devastating to PGs as it can suddenly kill multiple squad members instantly with no warning. This is very strong against an army of 3-man squads. But don’t tip your hand — try to send in the Flamer from an unexpected direction. Or, if your enemy tries to focus-fire the Flamer at every opportunity, use the distraction to get your Rifles into close range (this often means getting your men to the opposite side of the PE’s cover, so you share the cover). Early grenades are also devastating, game-changing weapons. Used with a Flamer, it becomes very hard for the PE player to somehow target the Flamer while avoiding grenades.
I would say it’s about impossible, even if you’re a pro. It’s safer just to retreat your PGs and regroup. By the way, the American player must seize the advantage of retreated PGs. This is precious time for your Rifles to use their super-fast capping speed to decap key enemy resource points. Your Engies shouldn’t ever stop capping points and decapping enemy points, either.
Getting BARs means your Rifles are no longer at a significant disadvantage in a long-range firefight with equal cover. They can now hold their own. BAR Rifles in green cover basically stalemate G43s in cover, as both types of weapons do less damage-per-second due to accuracy issues when moving.
You can get BARs early on, but if you do, you must buy time to prepare a counter for PE vehicles like the Armored Car or a tiebreaking unit like the Mortar Halftrack (PE can still chill in cover, your guys will get mortared if they don’t move).
My next post will address the issue of resources and ways to handle the PE’s midgame.