Battle Report: “Quad-core” action vs. PE (retail)

REPLAY: Jianshu (Infantry) vs. PredatorHUN88 (Scorched Earth) RETAIL 2.301

REMEMBER: Download the replay for this Battle Report. Alright, so there was actually no one (ZERO games) playing the very buggy beta patch 2.501 at this point, so I finally hung my head, swallowed my pride and hopped back on my retail account, Jianshu. BAM, no sooner do I hit automatch than I draw a level 10 PE player, one PredatorHUN88, on the oldest map in the game: Semois. This turns into a great game, with my Americans essentially wrestling with his PE to decide who gets to be more aggressive. The star of this game is my heroic Quad Halftrack, which survives the entire game and was really the lynchpin of my entire army. Without that Quad, victory would not have been possible. This is another argument for using the Quad in addition to or instead of the almighty M8.

The original Kraut Mower (TM). Four barrels of hot love included, blade guard and grass bag sold separately.

The original Kraut Mower (TM). Four barrels of hot love included, blade guard and grass bag sold separately.

Now, my promotion of the Quad is based on three simple reasons: 1.) mobile reinforcement of Riflemen, 2.) suppression and anti-infantry power essential to augment Riflemen effectiveness vs. PE infantry, and 3.) Quad’s .50 cals can tear through PE light armor just as fast as the M8.

This game you’ll see the Quad staying back, chasing down light vehicles and surviving even being immobilized by a PE light AT halftrack. Quad tends to work best with full-tech Rifles, as it complements Riflemen and you therefore want to maximize the utility of your Rifles. Meanwhile, the Motorpool grants you access to 57mm AT guns as well, a crucial supplement that can snipe PE halftracks at range and also defeat the fearsome Marder III and Panzer IV infantry support tank.

A little wire'll slow up those Krauts...

A little wire'll slow up those Krauts...

So, the match. I try to do a little unconventional tactic, namely using some wire to limit PredatorHUN’s Kettenrad movement. It’s worth remembering that PE has no way to cross barbed wire until they produce an infantry HT. You can use this to your advantage by constricting their early movement. I’ll write up a tip on using wire to remove green cover from your enemies sometime next week. The map is Semois, which is pretty much where barbed-wire starting tactics were born. A little history for the uninitiated, the Wehrmacht’s “Semois pin” was absolutely deadly if you weren’t looking for it. This is back in vCOH, a few patches before the final vCOH patch, when wire cutters actually cost fuel to research! In those heady days, you were often forced to drop everything you were doing and build a WSC to dislodge the inevitable MG+Bunker combo that was coming next. Ah, the good old days… Moving on, my Engineer wires the middle land bridge, as shown, then wires off the right-most land bridge by the right-most VP.

Man down!

Meanwhile I go for a Jeep after my first Rifle squad, intending to use it against Predator’s Kettenrad to slow down his capping. As a result, the game is off to an aggressive start for PredatorHUN, as I send the Jeep and my 2nd Engy to challenge his single G43 PG squad trying to cap a +5 fuel. This was somewhat dangerous, because this is retail and the G43 remains deadly fast at close range. But fortunately Predator doesn’t focus fire the Engies in time, loses a man, and is forced to retreat.

This definitely slows down Predator, but the game gets much more intense in the next few minutes. Read on to see what unfolds…

Lightning!

Lightning!

I usually go for grenades first against the PE, and that’s what I do in this game. Now, this would be a lot more helpful in the beta, seeing as how the grenade upgrade would increase Riflemen veterancy rate. But this is the retail game, so I grit my teeth and remind myself repeatedly that I’ll need to keep my first four Rifles alive throughtout the game. Retreat early, retreat early was going through my head the whole match. In the first serious encounter it’s three PGs and an infantry HT (that arrives a little late to the party) vs. three Rifles and my Jeep. Predator is very good at dodging grenades and annoyingly enough, he ducks two grenades — a loss of 50 MUN that hurts this early in the game (could’ve gotten a flamer!). Meanwhile, G43s and infantry HTs being what they are, I start bleeding Riflemen. I know I’m going to come out at a disadvantage in this opening skirmish if I don’t do something do even up the manpower loss going on here. So I take a chance: I know grenades do MASSIVE damage to PGs inside halftracks, if you manage to land one near or in the halftrack.

Boom!

Boom!

So I toss a grenade aimed at the infantry HT, which is just chilling there with 2 full PG squads inside. You can observe for yourself the results of this — and the grenade didn’t land exactly inside the halftrack, it landed just a smidge to the left of it. But it’s long been known that the U.S. “pineapple” grenade does a LOT of splash damage in COH, a very pleasant property of these grenades that you love if you’re playing the Americans. I suppose it’s justified by the fact that you have to pay 100 MP and 40 critical fuel to research the upgrade, but MAN do they pay off in spades if you can land a good one. I know I’ve said before that grenades are a little clutch — great if they work, waste of ammo if they don’t, inconsistent throughout.

5 dead Germans, 1 stripe

5 dead Germans, 1 stripe

I stand by this axiom, though I freely admit that this was a pretty luck grenade that really helped even the game out for me. If you do the math I come out quite a bit ahead because the grenade actually kills an entire PG squad and leaves another one with only a single surviving member. Great stuff. The Rifle squad throwing this grenade instantly gets a stripe for five dead Krauts, who go FLYING out of the halftrack, blown through the air by the explosion. These are the times when I just LOVE this game, bugs, balance and Relic completely forgotten in the magic of the moment.

Anyway, before any Axis fans start chewing me out, let me say this. I happen myself to like this mechanic, even though I’ve played as the PE and have suffered losing 2 PGs in a halftrack to a Sniper, or 3-4 men at a pop due to a flame Engy running by and giving my guys a toast. I know your pain, fellow Kampfgruppe brothers. But it’s fair, in my opinion — the American is taking a lot of risks and also down 40 fuel very early in the game. You just have to seize this weakness and punish him for it.
This lost manpower hurts Predator a LOT. I know this because his map presence drops drastically while he reinforces his men and trains a new squad. This plays to the U.S.’s strength in this matchup, which is a significantly faster capping speed. I go for all three VPs hardcore, while building a Supply Depot and Motorpool back in my base. You know what’s coming next… some vicious Quadcore action, and I’m not talkin’ Intel!
The next major battle is truly a set piece, with Rifles backed by my Quad vs. PGs and mixed halftracks, including the fearsome light AT halftrack (a really, really wonderful unit if you’re playing as PE).
Exchanging long-range fire!

Exchanging long-range fire!

The AT halftrack takes out my Quad’s engine with a nasty treadbreaker shot, then snipes at the Quad from range. Fortunately the LAT halftrack dies as fast as any other light PE armor, and Predator makes a mistake in just allowing his LAT to take fire. By the time my Rifles run up, he starts to pull back but it’s too late and the LAT goes careening wildly out of control, engine box aflame.
I can't hold her Hans! She's going crazy into the nearest solid object!

I can't hold her Hans! She's going crazy into the nearest solid object!

This gives me the impetus to push with all my Rifles, and they reinforce off the Quad (this is why Rifles can afford to lose men in a charge, they have the Quad providing reinforcement and fire support). This forces our boy Predator to retreat. By now it’s become crystal-clear which doctrine Predator picked. I start hearing the tell-tale, deadly sharp “latch-click” noise that means a booby trap is about to fry some Yankees somewhere on a map. I’ve been somewhat divided on the effectiveness of booby traps, but now I genuinely believe they’re fair and balanced.
Booby traps are given away by the “latch-click” noise and you can actually hit spacebar to center your screen on the site of the trap. The game also pops up the red “A booby trap has been triggered!” text to remind you. Before you ask, here’s the absolute easiest, surest way to avoid a triggered trap. Tell your squad to move FORWARD to the side of the resource/strategic point opposite where they were standing when they triggered the trap. This is very fast and it’s actually safer than ordering your men to run backwards away from the triggering site. Booby traps have a nasty way of targeting your men as they walk backward, however they are far less likely to do this when you walk forward to the other side of the point. You can accomplish this in almost a single motion, completing this by ordering your guys to start capping/decapping the point again after they are safely past the middle of the point. This takes very little time once you get used to it. Speaking of which, it won’t take you long to react to that ever-so-distinctive “latch-click” noise — you’ll be conditioned to it after just a few games against Scorched Earth PE players. So booby traps are nothing to worry about so long as you practice this avoidance tip. They won’t even slow you down that much!
Moving along in the game against Predator, the next major battle is virtually the same units fighting again, EXCEPT I have added a 57mm AT gun to my army, fresh out of the Motorpool. The U.S. AT gun is an excellent anti-PE weapon because it snipes their halftracks so accurately and does so much damage to them. Often the PE player has no time to react after getting hit with the first AT gun round, and can’t pull their light armor out of the the 57mm’s range even when they DO react quickly enough.
Perfect tier 3 American army.

Perfect tier 3 American army.

I have fortunately been able to field what I believe is the ideal tier 3 U.S. army against Predator’s array of G43 PGs and mixed halftracks. Rifles with BARs (they arrive just a few seconds after this battle climaxes) and grenades (and stickies as needed), the Quad as anti-infantry and anti-light armor and reinforcement, plus the 57mm AT gun to handle any serious armor threats. To make a long story short, Predator can’t take the combined fire and has no way to eliminate my AT gun short of charging his infantry in, and he can’t do that because of massed Rifles and the Quad.

PE retreat slowed by water crossing

PE retreat slowed by water crossing

So as you can see from this screenshot, he’s in a terrible position now. It’s basically a trail of tears, as Predator tries to retreat halftracks with engine damage and forced to keep SOME PGs next to the retreating halftrack to protect it. He keeps trying to reinforce the PG squad off the halftrack, but the fact that he has to keep moving means no cover and finally he decides to retreat the PG squad. This is a huge mistake and it will lead into my next tip: killing enemy squads completely while they are in retreat (meaning full retreat, with the red ! mark over their heads).

Leave no survivors!

Leave no survivors!

This poor squad is wiped out and again the retreat means Predator’s field presence is reduced and I get to recap everything, lay mines, etc. This is a subtle effect of being forced to retreat. You essentially are at a disadvantage over lost territory and giving the enemy valuable time to direct defense of important areas for your inevitable counterattack — something Surprise told me long ago when he was mentoring me in vCOH.
Speaking of lost initiative, Predator has gamely tried recapping some VPs to take the edge of his VP counter disadvantage. Here again the 57mm proves invaluable. Reminder: a single 57mm round will fully kill a full-health Kettenrad, and your AT gun will hardly ever miss a stationary Kettenrad that’s capping a point.
Like killing a fly with a .357 magnum...

Like killing a fly with a .357 magnum...

This of course, further reduces the PE player’s ability to take and hold territory, reinforcing yet again the fundamental disadvantage they have of capping slower than the Americans. Anyway I promised I would talk about my next tip that’s apparent in the replay of this match: killing entire enemy squads in retreat.
Run, mofos, run!

Run, mofos, run!

We’ll start easy. You create a situation where enemy squads are forced to retreat. Here in this example, the PGs have no way to deal with a Quad, so they are forced to retreat a fairly long distance back to base.

Here they come!

Here they come!

As this is happening, you can grab your Rifle squads and move them along the retreat path of the retreating enemy squads, which is what I do here. This is obviously simpler on some maps and in some cases than others — on a bigass map like Train Wreck you might have no idea what route Relic’s ingenious pathfinding AI will send retreating squads on. But again, for the purposes of this match, Predator’s men head down the main road toward his base. Well, it is surely obvious what sort of welcome these poor Germans are in for as they run home to mama.

Damn bro, he got it right in the grill!

Damn bro, he got it right in the grill!

But I’m not too ashamed to make it painfully clear — you should try your hardest to coordinate your army to destroy retreating units. At the same time, if you must retreat, consider pulling your men back to a point where they won’t have to dodge fire from the entire enemy army to make it home alive. This is how priceless veteran squads are lost, and it doesn’t always have to be this way.
Ready, aim...

Ready, aim...

Basically I’ve been winning this match one fight at a time, bleeding Predator’s manpower. Often it happens because of random stuff, like a lucky 57mm AT gun shot. Now, I don’t want to take too much credit for AT gun kills that happen when I’m not even looking at the same part of the map, but here’s a great example of why positioning your AT gun is important. In this example Predator had sent a PG squad to cap a VP in an infantry halftrack. The AT gun is well out of his sight range and in any case it’s a tough shot to see, because the gun must fire between two buildings. This all happens automatically because my AT gun happened to be cover part of the VP in its firing arc. It also covered the main road as well. So remember, take your time to position your AT guns — the few shots that a well-positioned AT gun gets off in the first few seconds before your enemy can react is CRUCIAL.

Fire!!

Fire!!

It’s worth noting that doctrine-specific abilities for me in this matchup (I picked Infantry Company) hardly did anything at all. No real successful off-map artillery barrages, I didn’t pick Rangers because they didn’t feel necessary, and I didn’t build a Howitzer till very late in the game and it didn’t do much either. Finally, I get a Sherman and I got one because I know Predator has no Marders — I’ve given him no reason to get Marders thus far. The Sherman also counters the Panzer IVs that have started appearing, and these tanks are definitely the correct answer to mass Rifles and Motorpool units. They do need support, however…

Shermans think to themselves all the time!
Shermans think to themselves all the time!

And Predator isn’t ready to support his Panzer. So the Sherman chases Predator’s wounded Panzer IV into his base, where the Sherman finds a sweet situations — a lack of any serious AT. So the Sherman just slaughters a ton of Predator’s shit and spots for my off-map artillery barrage.

Killing a Sherman's worth and more of the enemy...

Killing a Sherman's worth and more of the enemy...

The Sherman is eventually immobilized with a treadbreaker shot (damn those LAT halftracks!) but he still kills entire Tankbuster squad and some assorted infantry before getting his main gun destroyed and being blown up. But of course, it’s been GG for a while at this point.

CorkscrewBlow
PROS:
– Good unit preservation, leading to veteran Riflemen in lategame
– Forced investment in grenades to be useful by persisting till a lucky grenade landed
– Good unit placement and unit mix
– Good AT gun positioning, which inflicted many vehicle casualties for little effort
– Good Quad micro, always keeping it in the back and repaired
– Good avoidance of booby traps, losing only one Engy squad to traps

CONS:
– Slow to build Rifles in the beginning (floated too much manpower)
– Wasted grenades twice on the same building, knowing opponent was looking to dodge grenades
– Late researching Sticky Bomb

PredatorHUN88
PROS:
– Good unit mix
– Good and thorough use of booby traps, including on points and in buildings

CONS:
– Kept losing entire squads in retreat
– Need better light armor micro to avoid focused Rifle/Quad fire
– Need faster reaction to AT guns sniping light armor
– Didn’t concentrate forces well enough, leading to early setbacks (remember the first G43 being forced to retreat?)

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10 Responses to Battle Report: “Quad-core” action vs. PE (retail)

  1. adrock2xander says:

    I’ve been using HTs for a few days now but I keep losing them as fast as I spent my 100 ammo on the gun upgrade. I think I’m still trying to figure out the range I could fire them and kite them with. It’s true I switched to HT coz I know the HT will be buffed next patch so I might as well try something now that’ll be prevalent later. Is it me or does the HT travel slower than the M8?

  2. Kat says:

    Great write-up. Didn’t know that grenades do that much damage to units in halftracks. I was always using flamers to burn grenadiers inside IHT, but they get quickly focus-fired and i have to retreat them after first burst of liquid. Quad is very good at supressing infantry charging at your at gun, mix it with bared riflemen and u have all those gren bastards eat the dirt 😛 Dont forget to reinforce also at gun members from HT. And i agree, quad is slower and much harder to pull back then m8.

  3. Quad is slightly slower, but main problem is poor acceleration, also it backs up weird unlike the M8.

    Quad has very bad tendency to try and turn even when you issue a backup move order. It takes a long time to accelerate for the turn, this is when Quads often get killed.

  4. Kersal says:

    one thing: you don’t use mine! At the very begin when you pushed enemy on his base and cap his link point, you perfectly knew that he is coming with a HT full of man! One or Two mines and the game was over.

  5. That is a perfectly good point. I find it’s usually simple forgetfuless that results in me not laying mines once given the opportunity.

  6. Moose says:

    Yeah, the halftrack is awesome and I wish i would use it more, but the whole AI for it drives me nuts. It sucks when it takes a hit and your are desperately trying to get it out of harms way, and it decides to turn around instead of backing up.

    Yeah, M8 mines are awesome as well, just don’t lay them down when you are under fire.. it hurts, a lot.

  7. Yeah, the sluggishness and weird AI movement means you have to make sure the Quad is always BEHIND your army, you can’t ever use it to probe or charge in like an M8 (which, with Paks on the field, can still be a bad idea).

  8. Michael Schmidt says:

    The replay file is missing. :/

  9. Weird. I cannot find the file anymore on my Mediafire account, though I certainly didn’t delete it.

    I can’t find it on my computer either 😦

    Sorry!

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