As promised, it’s the weekend and you’re in for a treat. Here is a GREAT game, bitterly fought to the end, though one player does begin wrestling the other to the ground about 50% of the way in. Sepha, a titan of the game (next time I’ll definitely pick another top player’s replay to be fair), is up against PvtRusty, whom I’ve never heard of, but he could be a smurf or something. In any case Rusty proves himself more than capable of holding his own against Sepha’s slow and steady Wehrmacht. The map again is Langres, and it should be noted that this is the first ever Battle Report to be focused on the perspective of a Wehrmacht player.
I don’t like kissing ass, but as far as the early game goes, Seph just demonstrates a ridiculously nuanced understanding of how to play Wehrmacht. He uses a Bike/Pioneer combo to harrass Rusty’s Engineers and then lures the subsequent Rifle squad backing up the Engies into his MG42 firing arc.
His next move is to stick an MG in this important building at the top right of Langres, allowing him to build map control over an important +16 ammo point right next to a Victory Point and his opponent’s base. Seph’s early game deftly minimizes his casualties while piling on dead Rifle squad members. His opening utilizes a Pio/Bike/Volks/MG/Sniper build order, utilizing every single tier 1 Wehrmacht unit to parry and blunt Rusty’s Riflespam opening. It should be noted that Rusty plays his 4-Rifle opening perfectly well, though it’s clear he’s not quite on the same level as Seph. A few thoughts on the Bike: it does a lot of damage, especially to units capping points like Engies. Despite its seemingly small size and awkward turning circle, the Bike does more damage than the American Jeep, thanks to faster rate of fire and less aim-time (per COH-Stats).
When Seph’s Sniper hits the field, Riflemen start falling like flies, picked off at long range. The purpose here is obvious; with a Barracks start, the American has no hope of countersniping. Riflespam rarely includes a Jeep, particularly against Wehrmacht, and Riflemen themselves have virtually no hope of killing a supported Sniper. It will take a good while for one Sniper to make a meaningful dent in the Rifle swarm, but bleeding the Rifles one man at a time ramps up pressure on the American player, and you can try to bait them into the firing range of your MG42, which will force a retreat and give you more time to fortify the map.
Here Rusty shows he’s got game; he doesn’t bend under the pressure and in fact executes a perfect flank against Seph’s MG, which has been shifted to the barn, closer to the northern VP. His double flamers get Seph scrambling to evacuate and turns the tide briefly.
By now (in fact, a bit before the flank takes place), Rusty has opted to upgrade his Riflemen with BARs; however in the lengthy series of firefights that follow, two separate BARs are dropped. The Sniper helps produce one of the dropped BARs. The result is Seph’s Volk squad snagging two BARs, making it an absolutely lethal long-range powerhouse. There’s really no excuse for not picking up dropped BARs; they keep your Volks relevant all the way to the end of the game. If you don’t already do this as a matter of routine, learn to.
Next comes a major attack by Rusty on the lower right fuel sector as Seph just manages to get his MG set up in time. Seph decloaks his Sniper and sprints him back to help thin the Rifles, but that turns out to be…
…a fatal mistake for Mr. Sniper von Deadeye. An unfortunate burst of focused BAR fire drops the Wehrmacht Sniper; Seph’s uncloaking the Sniper for running speed allowed Rusty to see it and fire on him.
This epic skirmish ends well for Rusty, who manages to get one BAR squad around the MG in time to eliminate it. However heavy casualties are sustained by two squads that do manage get suppressed. Rusty nets a free MG42 and places it in the top house by his +16 ammo point.
Most Wehrmacht players I encounter go for the tried-and-true if boring-and-predictable tier 2/Terror doctrine strategy. Not so with Seph, who’s gone Blitz and cranks out two Pumas. Rusty’s captured MG42 gets all too little time in the sun with the Pumas running around the field.
This, I would argue, was Rusty’s first cue to build a Motorpool. It seems clear that Rusty was unprepared for a Puma, so he picks the easiest AT option at hand: Rangers. These tough guys arrive but only after the Pumas have free reign of the field for a good two minutes or so, which costs Rusty a lot of map control. The Rangers do manage to eliminate a Puma in short order, however.
These days bazookas are pretty balanced; they tear up light armor but lose accuracy and almost all of their penetration against heavy armor.
There’s also been considerable bitching by Axis players on how good Rangers packing Thompsons are, which just riles me up, personally. Every single Axis army has access to powerful SMG troops, which the U.S. has a single, doctrine-specific SMG unit that costs 100 ammo to upgrade. They better be damn good! Rangers work out very well against most SMG squads, including MP44 Stormtroopers. You can see here an almost full-health Storm squad with vet 1 up against a Thomspon Ranger squad down a man. The Stormtroopers are owned in short order. Sure, those Storms had to pay 75 ammo for their MP44s, but given their ability to cloak, Bundled Grenades and flexibility to upgrade panzershrecks, I think it’s perfectly fair for them to lose to Rangers. I mean, sweet baby Jesus, can the Americans get ONE tough SMG squad that keeps Krauts up at night? Rangers are handily slaughtered by dedicated anti-infantry armor like Ostwinds and the Panzer IV infantry support tank, so really there’s no case for future Ranger nerfs — maybe slightly higher XP requirements for veterancy, but that’s it.
But I digress. Rusty now whips out his October surprise — a Sherman packing a .50 cal, roaring into action and forcing two Volks into startled retreat, right into a swarm of U.S. infantry. It doesn’t end too well for these retreating Krauts, and one squad is eliminated in flight with the other cut down to the last man.
Here Rusty makes a common mistake. He’s feeling pretty confident that he was able to tech his way to a Tank Depot and Sherman; all he’s seen so far are Pumas, and he hasn’t given Seph any reason to get panzershrecks. So he sends his fresh Sherman into enemy territory, looking to hunt down helpless Pumas. Unfortunately Seph’s got a nasty surprise waiting: cloaked Storms packing two panzershrecks worth of heat.
Seph holds his fire till he can get a Volks squad in place to fire a panzerfaust. The end result is the Sherman getting suddenly hit by three panzershreck rounds and face to face with an upgunned Puma. Nasty surprise.
Rusty quickly backs up his crippled Sherman, it’s a miracle he avoided engine damage. But Seph isn’t willing to let this one go and sends his upgunned Puma in pursuit, shifting to try and get a rear/side armor shot (upgunned Pumas have trouble penetrating Shermans frontally). The Puma gets his prey, but pays for it in return, at the hands of Rusty’s Rangers.
By now Seph has started pumping out Stugs in anticipation of more Shermans; he’s close to getting enough CPs for his Tiger, and has enough fuel to crank out some infantry veterancy. Again, the sight of the first Stug is an ideal signal to Rusty that 57mm AT guns are in order. But nope, Rusty goes for M-10 tank destroyers instead. He’s hoping his vetted Rangers, sticky bombs and well-microed M-10s can do the job. This right here is an absolutely critical mistake, based on a gravely mistaken overestimation of how good M-10s are. The fact of the matter is, M-10s are too weak to be used en masse. They die far too quickly and are particularly susceptible to panzershreck strikes because most players like to get M-10s in close, using their speed to circle the slow turrets (or no turrets) of German armor.
You can see for yourself; even before Seph’s Tiger arrives, an M-10 melts under Stug and panzershreck fire. The M-10’s speed lends itself to fast charges, aimed at getting in close and circling to avoid damage while firing its high-penetration gun. This results in the M-10 outrunning its supporting infantry, which gets in way too late. It’s hard also to order infantry around when you are frantically clicking to get the M-10 circling.
Rusty continues to refuse building a Motorpool for the AT guns; he also chooses to keep building M-10s rather than switching to upgunned Shermans. This is probably a good idea, given that the upgunned Sherman is almost as vulnerable as the M-10. The upgraded Sherman cannon has the same penetration as the M-10 but does roughly 25% less damage (COH-Stats). Rusty tries to keep his M-10s at max range, which reduces their penetration chance by 16%; this is a good idea in theory, but in practice you will still need to constantly repair your M-10s and be on the lookout for cloaked Storms with panzershrecks.
And now we have reached the final stage of the match; three M-10s backed by Rangers against a Tiger and Stug, both elite veterancy, backed by two Storm squads. By this point Seph has destroyed two M-10s and a Sherman for the loss of two Pumas. This is an epic, set-piece battle that shows the utter folly of the American anti-tank doctrine in the European theater; it’s a disastrous tactical decision that Relic has faithfully replicated in COH, making M-10s essentially worthless against heavy Axis armor. Just watch this sickening exchange.
It’s really hard, and I mean REALLY hard, to micro three M-10s and your infantry. Rusty does a poor job of it, I am sorry to say, failing to concentrate his M-10 cannons on one target. He definitely could have eliminated the Stug with a single salvo from his M-10s and the Rangers trailing them. Instead there is a random burst of cannon fire that mostly bounces off the front of Seph’s Tiger. Seph actives Blitzkrieg Assault and two salvos later, one M-10 is scrap metal and the second is crippled and burning.
Rusty knows it’s GG and drops off-map artillery in his desperation to kill SOMETHING, ANYTHING. Alas all three M-10s are turned into burning hulks with zero losses on Seph’s side.
Some small measure of poetic justice is achieved when Rusty manages to damage the Tiger’s engine, then kill it with an off-map artillery barrage, though Seph has sufficient manpower to almost instantly replace it with another off-map Tiger.
– Calm, deft gameplay and superb micro of complex opening strategy
– Good use of mixed arms and supporting units throughout game
– Great unit choices and great unit preservation
– Purchased the right veterancy upgrades at the right time
– Great mindgames and baiting, resulting in spectacular moves like the surprise attack on the Sherman
– Got careless with Sniper
– Caught by a flank and lost an MG
– Good flanking maneuvers
– Good use of Rangers to fight off Pumas
– Teched to Tank Depot at the right time
– No 57mm AT guns; there is no excuse here, this is how Americans handle AT, plain and simple; you don’t like it, you get owned for free by Tigers, GG
– Either Airborne (Paratroopers + Recoilless Rifles) or Armor (Field Repair/Allied War Machine + M-10 spam, later Pershing) would have been a better doctrine choice