Battle Report: Nystrom vs. SayNotoStim

REPLAYNystrom (Armor) vs. SayNotoStim (Terror) RETAIL 2.301
An old soldier heads back to war...

An old soldier heads back to war...

Nystrom is a legendary COH player from back in the day, I’ll always remember him for the way he advanced his Riflemen — in a circle, so that they could flank any target in that circle from multiple directions for the win. He returns after being away for many moons, to take on a new star who’s arisen in the meantime: SayNotoStim (aka CherrySlurpee). This matchup is certainly epic in the players involved, but I think being away from COH for so long as clearly taken a toll on Nystrom. There is certainly some very instructive gameplay here, but this isn’t quite the toe-to-toe, all-the-way-till-the-cats-come-home slugfest one might imagine it would be. The game is played on Angoville, probably the single bloodiest map in COH. The preponderance of high fuel and munitions points means a speedy trip up the tech tree, and the ease with which either player can be cut off from these crucial points means a constant battle over cutoff areas.

Wire prevents Riflemen from seizing the house and cutting you off

Wire prevents Riflemen from seizing the house and cutting you off

The game’s off to an interesting start, with both players choosing to indulge in some wire trickery. Riflemen love to go for the house guarding the bottom player’s strategic point, and a little wire goes a long way in discouraging these types of attacks. By the same token, the top player can lay a little wire over the bottom player’s closest high fuel, though the ability of Wehr MGs to fire through the wire means you’ll only be delaying his ability to reach the fuel. Remember that Engineers and Pioneers take massive extra damage during the few seconds they take to cut barbed wire — that means a single volley of rifle fire can sometimes drop the entire squad.

Anyway, Stim’s wire doesn’t reduce Nystrom’s aggression one iota and he sends his Riflemen the long way around, taking care to stay out of range of the Wehrmacht base bunkers. He goes for a classic American strategy on Angoville: aggressively choke the opposing player while using your Engies to keep capping your side of the map, ensuring a resource advantage. This is accomplished by using SHIFT-click to queue capture points with your Engies, usually done while your Rifles are moving in on your enemy’s side of the map. Once Nystrom takes Stim’s strategic point, he puts his first Rifle squad into the house and advances his two backup squads; the only trouble is, they must also contend with Stim’s wire and have no fast way of reach the house, which is soon under long-range fire from Stim’s Motorbike and Volks. An MG42 is en route as well, and it becomes obvious Nystrom won’t be able to sustain the attack.

Tier 1 Wehr forces can do a lot of damage at range.

Tier 1 Wehr forces can do a lot of damage at range.

The additional Riflemen make it in too late and at the wrong angles, because Nystrom didn’t see the MG42 setting up. He is forced to retreat and takes heavy casualties from Stim’s powerful combined tier 1 firepower.

Wehr often gets XP very fast from many Rifle casualties

Wehr often gets XP very fast from many Rifle casualties

Fortunately Nystrom hasn’t been sitting still. He uses Stim’s preoccupation with retaking his strategic point to build manpower for an OP on his high fuel point. This is a very clear indication that Nystrom is pursuing a a tier 1 to tier 4 strategy, bypassing all Barracks upgrades and the Motorpool, going straight for Tank Depot and a Sherman. In my experience this is rather out of character for Nystrom, usually he plays a more infantry-centered game. In any case, going for a fast Sherman on a high-munitions map against Wehrmacht is risky, in my view. Tier 2 Wehr can handily counter a Sherman with Paks and panzershreck-toting Grenadiers.  Shermans die just a little too fast and take just a little too long to appear for the Tank Depot strategy to be consistently effective.

Having retaken his side of the map, Stim shifts to assault mode, going straight for Nystrom’s jugular — the familiar northern strategic point, just above the classic Angoville hay bales and the precious green cover they offer. You see Nystrom instantly become aware of this and his Riflemen immediately move to engage the Volks and protect the point, which is the lifeline to his fuel and in this game, his entire strategy. The advantage here typically goes to whoever gets in position behind the hay bales first. The green cover they offer is offset once the charging Riflemen (or whatever forces) reach the bales themselves. However, concentrated fire from the troops already in place can seriously cripple at least one of the attacking squads by the time they get close enough to negate the cover advantage. You can attempt to shift the scales in your favor with flanking attacks, either with units striking from the left of the hay bales, or from behind, through the gap in the hedgerow at the heart of Angoville. We see Nystrom use a flame Engy squad to strike from the left, a great unit to use because flamers do extra damage to troops in cover.

Unfortunately, Stim (and all expert players) can see this coming and shifts all his rifle fire from the Riflemen to the lone flamer team, dropping two members rapidly. Nystrom gets off a single half-hearted burn and is forced to retreat to preserve his 50-munition flamer. Stim would’ve had a much harder time noticing the flamer if Nystrom had flanked from behind the hay bales, going from the right side of the dividing hedgerow.

Massed Volks can suppress weak units like Engineers with one volley

Massed Volks can suppress weak units like Engineers with one volley

This temporary shift in fire does help Nystrom; his Rifles stopped taking damage briefly and were able to close the distance, getting behind the bales themselves. Remember: At this range, the American Rifleman’s M1 Garand fires faster and does noticeably more damage than the Kar98 rifles carried by Volksgrenadiers. Stim knows he won’t win at this range, and starts shifting his Volks backward toward the MG42 that has silently taken up position during the flamer team’s charge. This subtle attempt, taking fire from charging units to lure them into MG range, is a classic Wehr tactic.

Luring the enemy is an example of a mind game

Luring the enemy is an example of a mind game

Sadly Nystrom falls for it; you can see the clear set-piece battle forming here, and the MG42 is positioned in a way that guarantees Nystrom will lose. With all his Rifles in his base, he had no chance to utilize flanking. Good Rifle play against tier 1 Wehrmacht always involves keeping one or two squads far ahead of the others, so they can double back to flank an MG or Volks in directional cover.

A very common situation on Angoville.

A very common situation on Angoville.

Nystrom switches his attention to the right side of the map, another common tactic on Angoville. The fluidity of combat and equal distribution of resources often means it’s better to simply give up one side of the map and go for the other, especially if you’re playing as the Americans against Wehrmacht. Let him keep his MGs stationary; your Rifles can quickly retake ground with their super-fast 1.25 capping rate. Of course, the concern is giving the Wehr player time to set up a Medic Bunker with an MG, followed by a Pak behind it. You begin to see the beginnings of an impenetrable tier 2 defensive line.

Things are starting to equalize; Nystrom’s previously unsuccessful flame team surprises a Volk squad attempting to defend his strategic point. The concentration of flame in the close archway is devastating and leaves only one survivor after just a few seconds of combat. Nystrom’s Tank Depot strategy is hindered a bit by the fact that he has to trade his OP’d fuel point for a regular one. This slows his tech to that first Sherman. Meanwhile, noticing a lack of Rifle upgrades and no Motorpool units, Stim is positive that a Sherman will soon appear. He makes the necessary preparations; a panzershreck and two Paks.

When Nystrom’s Sherman emerges, he sends it straight at the Medic Bunker on his side of the map, a clear mistake. If you know the Wehrmacht player is going tier 2 (as a Medic Bunker would suggest), you know he’s going to get Paks and panzershrecks. If he’s getting Paks, you can be rest assured he will keep the Paks behind or near MG42s for support. Shermans aren’t nearly as agile as an M8 or a Puma; they must advance slowly so their commander has time to react to AT fire and reverse course. Nystrom was caught so off-guard that he sends his Sherman swinging to the left to avoid Stim’s two Paks. It’s worth noting that a staggered formation works best with an AT gun or any arc-limited weapon (MGs). The second can cover the first if the vehicle attempts to flank and circle it.

You can see Nystrom’s heroic Sherman charge in this YouTube video. You’ll also see how quickly the Sherman got countered (literally going from full health to nearly dead in 15 seconds).

The Sherman survives a panzerfaust from a Volksgrenadier by the very skin of it’s teeth — a lucky weapon critical instead of death. One thing you’ll also notice in this video is how much friggin’ Kraut MG fire there is on Nystrom’s side of the map. The Bunker MG is guarded by another MG, and the overlapping fire is thunderous. Any supporting infantry near the Sherman would’ve been rendered instantly useless. Nystrom telegraphed his intention to go tier 4, and got countered handily. Of course, that Sherman could still have made a big difference on the right side of the map, where there weren’t two Paks and a Grenadier squad waiting for it. Let that be a reminder, if you get a fast Sherman, send it to the side of the map without a clear tier 2 defensive line. Or at least, attack from behind the line or the side of it. Either way would’ve give the Sherman a jump on the Paks, or at least a safer route of escape.

Next come a series of unsuccessful attempts by Nystrom’s BAR Riflemen to break through the tier 2 line. This is very hard to do with straight Rifles against two MGs, including a 360-degree MG in a bunker.

MGs still out-suppress BARs

MGs still out-suppress BARs

The BARs own the Volks pretty hard, because Stim still has more Volks than main-line Grenadiers, but the overlapping MGs stall him repeatedly and force several retreats.

You need doctrinal support powers here...

You need doctrinal support powers here...

At this point, Nystrom still hasn’t chosen a doctrine. He has enough CPs for a Strafing Run, or Calliopes, or Off-map Artillery. In the old days, you could make it through much of a game without choosing a doctrine, and this was sometimes wise. After all, Armor Company was better suited against Blitz Tigers than Infantry Company. But Nystrom’s lack of any doctrine-specific abilities this far into the match hurts him. It gives him no good way to defeat Stim’s airtight defensive line.

Argh!!!

Argh!!!

Nystrom tries advancing again with his Sherman, but the stacked Paks are just too much. Adding insult to injury, a Propaganda War forces his Rifles to retreat at the wrong time. The Sherman — already suffering engine damage — is blocked briefly by his own retreating Rifles, giving Stim’s Paks just enough time to kill it.

Playing with fire.

Playing with fire.

Nystrom tries going for a Croc and shifting his attention to the right side of the map, which does boast two of three Victory Points. This is a decent strategy, because Nystrom has enjoyed an advantage thus far in VPs. But he advances the Croc too fast and it’s killed by the fatal “one-volley” tactic, where enough AT damage is inflicted in one short burst to have killed the vehicle before its commander can react to retreat it.

Smoke works both ways.

Smoke works both ways.

This pretty much seals Nystrom’s fate. Stim’s King Tiger hits the field and Nystrom is forced to choose Armor Company, which gives him the only unit that can do anything about a King Tiger right now: the Pershing. Sadly a vanilla Pershing is no match at all for a King Tiger. We do see some creative use of mortar smoke by Nystrom here; the smoke canisters offer the Pershing some protection and Nystrom uses it to send the Pershing into Stim’s base to do a little sieging. Stim does the same thing with his King Tiger, killing Nystrom’s base structures.

The Pershing is decent without the beta buffs, but only decent.

The Pershing is decent without the beta buffs, but only decent.

Mismatch.

Mismatch.

The Pershing kills a Panzer IV fresh out of the Panzer Command structure, but it ultimately can do nothing against the King Tiger. GGs.

Nystrom
PROS:
– Good use of wire
– Excellent, aggressive opening
– Good unit preservation

CONS
:
– Should’ve chosen a doctrine earlier; Strafing Runs and Calliope would’ve made a big difference
– Too careless with tanks, though bad luck also contributed
– Need smarter use of tanks given the obviousness of strategy

SayNotoStim (aka CherrySlurpee)
PROS:
– Great unit positioning and unit combos
– Excellent use of focused fire to eliminate biggest threats
– Perfectly read his opponent and produced proper counter
– Good use of resources

CONS:
– A Flamer would’ve helped clear the house by his strategic point sooner
– Infantry veterancy would’ve been good

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6 Responses to Battle Report: Nystrom vs. SayNotoStim

  1. colonelcommissar says:

    Thanks for another comprehensive write up.

  2. No thanks needed. In fact, thank ya’ll for reading.

  3. The Hat says:

    Awesome stuff. Love it!

  4. AdAb says:

    Yeah really impressed with all of your efforts, we’re so lucky to have such a cool blog.

  5. huppla says:

    Nice stuff! 🙂

  6. […] First off, there’s a review of the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” which I’ve owned for a long time but have been waiting to review. Then there’s a rematch between Nystrom and SayNotoStim, both players fresh and feisty from their first match, which Stim won. […]

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