Battle Report: ikillmedics (USA) vs RukAcIDHorse (PE)

REPLAY: ikillmedics [IplayforKeeps] (Armor) vs. RukAcIDHorse (Luftwaffe) RETAIL 2.301

Sorry for the long delay, but this is my best and LONGEST Battle Report yet! Finally, I feel like I’m back in the saddle. The holidays should give me some good time for more Battle Reports and Tips (more so because they take much less time than writing Battle Reports). We’ll kick off the countdown to Christmas with an epic battle between ikillmedics (better known as IPlayForKeeps) and  RukAcIDHorse, two excellent players who are true COH veterans, ranked at the top of 1v1 and 2v2 team ladders.

The rockets' red glare...

The rockets' red glare...

This is a LONG game. There are multiple Panther Battlegroup call-ins, multiple Pershings, fleets of Calliopes, massive set-piece fights between Riflemen and Panzer Grenadiers, and so and so forth. The match itself is a good illustration of how underpowered the Armor Company is, even against a Luftwaffe player (remember that in retail 2.301, Luftwaffe’s end-tree ability, Henschel Runs, are broken). This shouldn’t be news to anyone who’s been playing COH seriously for any amount of time. But the match still shows how the U.S. can compete — in my opinion, mistakes decided this game, not balance. You can see from the flow of the match that to win, the U.S. player must really capitalize on his early advantage, inflicting mortal damage (either in terms of killing units, starving resources or bleeding Victory Points) before the Panzer Elite player can access his dominating late-game abilities, from super heavy tanks to fully upgraded elite infantry and end-tree doctrine powers.

relic003531And now, with that little preview, let’s begin our analysis of the match. The battle takes place on the killing fields of Angoville, which is famous for the back-and-forth nature of its terrain. First off, we have ikillmedics (aka IplayforKeeps, aka 300, aka THIS IS SPARTA!) in the north, pushing south with his first Rifle squad, capping his crucial strategic point. He holds them there briefly, anticipating an early attempt by his PE opponent to choke off his resources. It’s a good idea, because PGs start heading in that direction almost immediately. This is a common PE tactic, the Rifle vs. PG matchup is largely skewed toward PGs given the high lethality of multiple G43s at range. Try and close, and you’ll lose a squad rapidly to focused fire.

RukAcIDHorse decides to move elsewhere; when he does, Keeps makes his own assault on Horse’s chokehold strategic point.

Garrisoned PGs are really hard to kill.

Garrisoned PGs are really hard to kill.

Unfortunately Horse is just as aware of the danger, popping a vanilla PG squad inside the civilian building overlooking the SP. Keeps decides he can take the heat, using the crates for cover and sending his second Rifle to meet the garrisoned building from the other side.

relic003561

But the PGs take forever to die, and a second PG squad heading north forces Keeps to retreat, losing most of the men in the squad. The thing to remember about PGs in buildings is this: they are very hard to kill. To even bother fighting them in a building, you need more Rifles, preferably a building of your own to garrison for a house-to-house fight, or better yet, a flamer. Grenades can be dodged easily; good players will rarely let you grenade a building for free. Back to the match. As this fight has been happening, a G43 PG has been trying to cap Keeps’ second SP in the north; it took damage from a third Rifle and retreats. Here Keeps shows his battlefield awareness and shifts all his Riflemen in a line to try and inflict maximum damage on the retreating G43 squad, which survives with one man left.

relic003582This is something you should ALWAYS be looking to do. It is very easy to eliminate entire squads in retreat, especially when they are retreating from a point far from base. Be sure to concentrate fire on the weakest squads to offset the defensive bonuses they gain when retreating. This obviously won’t always be possible, particularly when your Rifles are concentrated closely together (often necessary to win decisive engagements against superior Axis elite infantry). But all it takes is a single squad far back enough to shift a little bit so they can intercept the retreating enemy.

relic00359Next up we see Horse fielding his first Infantry Halftrack, truly a fearsome unit to fight with vanilla Rifles. Its MG is very powerful and can suppress Rifles with concentrated fire (which happens very fast when two Infantry HTs are involved). To make it worse, PGs can reinforce off it and keep it fully repaired. So Keeps is forced to beat a retreat. So far fuel income has been roughly even; both players went for each others’ throats and each parried the other’s blow with minimal losses. As a US player, you know the feared Armored Cars will be slowed down the instant you see Infantry HTs. Your safest plan is still the M8. Infantry HTs mean the PE player can access panzershrecks, but good kiting and conservative M8 play will render shrecks a minor annoyance.

Don't build tents in unprotected areas.

Don't build tents in unprotected areas.

Anticipating lots of fighting in the north, Keeps puts up a Medic Tent, one that will definitely earn its 150 MP cost over the course of this game. On Angoville, Medic Tents are rare for a US player, mainly because the open nature of the map makes any field emplacement vulnerable to infantry attack. But the amount of Rifles you lose to PE players is just absurd, and Angoville is small enough that a tent in your base can actually cover a decent amount of terrain.

The next move for Horse is obvious. He uses his brief period of superiority, afforded him by the Infantry HT, to go for Keeps’ jugular, the SP by the hay bales. Keeps’ Rifles are in good position in green cover, but multiple flanking attacks by PGs renders this a moot point.

Always keep in mind what DIRECTION enemy fire is coming from.

Always keep in mind what DIRECTION enemy fire is coming from.

Keeps is forced to cough up the SP, losing his fuel and ammo income.

Flanking for the win.

Flanking for the win.

This is unfortunate, but he’s almost got enough for an M8; he just needs to stall long enough to get it out. It’s sad the US has no better strategy than this, but on a fuel-heavy map like Angoville, there really is no better option in retail 2.301.

The M8 rolls out just a minute later, but finds a Forward HQ by Keeps’ second SP, with the telltale healing icons over the PGs showing that Horse researched his defensive operations upgrade. FHQs with healing are just about impossible to dislodge with Rifles only (even flamers are iffy given the healing and reinforcing PGs enjoy).

A sore sight for sore eyes.

A sore sight for sore eyes.

The M8 starts sniping at the horde of PGs, but barely gets a shot off before Horse’s M8 counter moves into view — the Light AT Halftrack. The duel between the M8 and Light AT HT is now the norm in US-PG matches in retail 2.301. Engineers make the difference for the US, while the Light AT HT needs PG support if it’s going to win the fight. Engies can overcome the Treadbreaker, while PGs can prevent Engies from repairing and can repair the Light AT HT, whose cannon has the same range as the M8’s more powerful weapons (if the .50 cal gunner is active).

Both these light armor units need support.

Both these light armor units need support.

In our case, Keeps has no Engies nearby, but he DOES have a 57mm AT gun which takes up position virtually unnoticed, killing the Light AT HT seconds after it kills the M8. So it’s basically a draw.

Lose a bishop, kill a bishop. Just like chess.

Lose a bishop, kill a bishop. Just like chess.

The 57mm AT gun, the M8 and Riflemen form the core of the US army against practically any PE strategy. I discuss in greater detail how this tier 3 Motorpool army works in another Battle Report.

Anyway, Keeps starts building a Quad Halftrack while Horse retreats to his FHQ. Keeps directs his AT gun to start shelling the FHQ. This is slow going until suddenly, a single 57mm shell drops the building down from 80% health to 10% health. I’ve seen this happen before, and it seems to be the result of some critical strike mechanism built into the game. In any case, this is unfortunate for Horse, because the building goes down seconds later.

Seismic shells cost 75 MUN per shot.

Seismic shells cost 75 MUN per shot.

What happens next you’ll have to watch to truly appreciate. Horse has managed to store up sufficient fuel for the Panzer IV Infantry Support tank, a truly fearsome weapon that slaughters, I mean slaughters the US army from tier 3 downward. The 57mm does jack up the Panzer IV, but AT guns are easily outflanked. You really have to be paying attention when Panzer IVs start coming, particularly in pairs. Horse’s Panzer catches Keeps off-guard, because he has only one AT gun.

This is a terrible state of affairs, but to his credit, Keeps keeps his cool (get it?) and doesn’t stop recrewing his AT gun. He also calmly queues up another one and continues refacing his existing AT gun. Sticky Bombs help in these situations, but are by no means a solution. Amazingly, he manages to micro his Quad well enough to survive.

relic00400This could’ve been a wrap for Keeps if Horse had two Panzer IVs. As it stands, the Panzer IV takes engine damage and retreats before destroying the unmanned AT gun. The gun is recrewed and Keeps shows no sign of relaxing his attention. He sends the AT gun after the retreating Panzer IV, doggedly. You’d be surprised how many people just let crippled vehicles and tanks escape; AT guns can move quickly enough and have the range to seal the deal. Just make sure you protect it with some infantry. In our case, Keeps’ gun crew catches up and eliminates the ailing Panzer IV from max range while it undergoes field repairs from PGs.

Keeps has a slight advantage now, solidified by his superior map control. Resource income has been fairly even, but Engies outcapping the PE and fighting off the Ketten have given Keeps a slight edge.relic00401

Remember, if you have damaged vehicles, try moving them behind hedgerows or buildings to prevent AT guns from sniping it to death. Always respond quickly by bringing in support units. Don’t depend on the 1% bug to save your bacon, but it’s inherently random. Moving right along, somewhat infuriated by the loss of his Panzer IV, Horse sends a wave of infantry after the seemingly unprotected AT gun, but he finds that his opponent is on top of his game. The Fallschirmjager and PGs encounter mixed infantry backed by a vicious Quad HT, and are forced to retreat before they can get a shot off at the AT gun.

What good American unit placement looks like.

What good American unit placement looks like.

This should’ve been Horse’s cue to retreat and leave, but he insists on taking a shot at the Quad with the panzerfaust carried by his Fallschirmjagers. His Infantry HT follows his men, whether it was deliberate or the HT was simply told to follow his squads. This is bad luck, because the Quad fire is overwhelming and Keeps’ Rifles get their BAR upgrade in the middle of his charge. The sudden boost in firepower costs Horse his Fallschirmjagers and his halftrack.

relic00403It’s clearly Keeps’ game to lose at this point, given the heavy casualties he’s inflicted. While he catches his breath, squeezing in some much-needed repairs and reinforcing his Riflemen, Horse goes back to his base and builds the PE’s counter to AT guns: the fearsome Mortar Halftrack. He squeezes it behind a hedgerow and starts lobbing shells at the American positions.

relic00405Keeps has back-teched to a WSC to build a Sniper, but it’s quickly eliminated when trying to snipe the crew of a Flakvierling inside Horse’s base. Snipers are the US player’s best counter to hordes of elite PE infantry, especially against player fielding a doctrinal unit like Fallschirmjagers. It’s a shame Keeps doesn’t effectively use Snipers this match; one of two major mistakes he makes. PE players should remember that Kettens are great at detecting Snipers, especially if you are playing as Luftwaffe; the cloaked Ketten frequently detects Snipers while still far enough to stay invisible itself.

relic00406The stage is now set for a major PE offensive from the south; another Panzer IV takes point with infantry close behind. Keeps’ AT gun is quickly overrun and the battle is temporarily stalled by a long-range barrage from Keeps’ first Calliope, which fires almost from its initial position at the edge of the map. At this range, the rocket spread is pretty random, but the deadly thump of Calliope fire gets Horse retreating. Good players tend to be conservative in COH.

Concentrated fire is preferable.

Concentrated fire is preferable.

Without spoiling the rest of the match, I can tell you right now that Keeps needs to learn how to aim Calliope rockets. Out of maybe 10-12 barrages fired, only 3 were worth mentioning. A majority hit nothing at all, or were fired at such a long distance from targets that the explosions were entirely random and too scattered to inflict serious damage on any unit, to say nothing of killing anything.

Viewing the YouTube video below — a series of clips on Keeps’ most disastrous Calliope barrages — will not spoil the rest of the match (not this is like a movie or anything, anyway). For a player this good to be so comically ineffective with his Calliopes is just tragic, especially given how well he uses his other units.

Anyway, the lack of any hard counters to Panzer IVs encourages Horse to keep building them, and soon he’s charging north again. The Calliopes are reloading, though it’s worth noting that Calliopes can easily crush suppressed infantry and gain veterancy while doing it.

Crush crush crush crush crush...

Crush crush crush crush crush...

There’s more inaccurate Calliope fire in retaliation, this time with a majority of the rockets being absorbed by hedgerows and neutral buildings.

Physics is a bitch, ain't it?

Physics is a bitch, ain't it?

By this point the party is over. Knowing that he will eventually face a Pershing, Horse has saved up manpower for the Panther Battlegroup and his first two tanks come charging forth, ignoring Keeps’ single AT gun, which inflicts an impressive 70% damage on the lead Panther.

Blitzkrieg!

Blitzkrieg!

Calliope fire kills the first Panther and Keeps deploys an M10 in pursuit of the second, badly damaged Panther. Unfortunately it dies to a panzerfaust from a Fallschirmjager after being damaged in an exchange with the retreating Panther.

Ouch.

Ouch.

relic00413The final Panther is killed by a Sticky Bomb. M10s are a crapshoot. They are cheap and fast. They pack the anti-armor punch of an upgunned Sherman, but their cannon are worthless against infantry. Just about anything penetrates an M10 and they have few hit points anyway. Their average range means you can’t use them like Fireflies, you MUST get into range and exchange fire. M10s are most effective at eliminating already damaged Axis armor, and can safely and efficiently circle turretless tanks so long as the enemy has no support of any kind.

Horse has more than held his own, and doesn’t miss a trick even as the game wears on and he must surely be getting tired. Take for example Keeps’ grenades.

Mind games.

Mind games.

Horse not only sees the grenade coming and dodges it, he exits his men far away from the Rifles so as not to hit any grenade aimed at the default exit door — which is exactly what Keeps tried to do. Great anticipating and counter-anticipating here.

Finally Keeps’ Pershing arrives. He rushes it in unsupported to strike Horse’s base; Horse appears to have no units to counter it, but he is actually very close to the 1000 MP he needs for two more Panthers. They arrive and engage the Pershing, which tries to hold them in position for a massive double Calliope barrage, again largely wasted. Some rockets even damage the Pershing further.

...the bombs bursting in air...

...the bombs bursting in air...

The Pershing is crippled so Keeps activates Allied War Machine; Horse orders his tanks to shell the ground. Keeps brilliantly uses a Rifle squad to grenade his near-dead tank, killing it while AWM is active and earning a free replacement tank.

Doing what you gotta do...

Doing what you gotta do...

This is crucial when your enemy makes it clear he will NOT fire on a nearly-dead tank with AWM on. You will waste the munitions and probably lose the tank later if you don’t kill it yourself.

Would you like to write the letter home for this one?

Would you like to write the letter home for this one?

The problem emerging here is that one Pershing at 900 MP is inferior to two Panthers at 1000 MP. By now Keeps has decided to produce M10s as his main AT force, which is a major mistake in my opinion. However he is constantly forced to react to the threat of Panthers in his base, and M10s are better than building new AT guns that can be flanked mercilessly.

Keeps never effectively uses the intended synergy of multiple tanks (M10s + Pershing) and the Armor Company’s Field Repair/AWM. This, combined with atrocious Calliope aiming, worsens his manpower bleeding compared to Horse, who can keep spamming Panthers and raping M10s.

Tank graveyard.

Tank graveyard.

This situation would’ve been made even worse had Horse actually had access to a fully functioning Henkel air patrol, or if Horse built the Flak 88s he could have with Luftwaffe ground forces.

Instead he chooses to keep spamming Panthers and microing the hell out of them, including an inspired game of ring-around-the-WSC in Keeps’ base, where he actually beats a circling M10 at its own game.

A pocket of full of posies...

A pocket of full of posies...

...or is it tungsten-cored lead instead?

...or is it tungsten-cored lead instead?

These losses drastically limit Keeps’ manpower, and his infantry are no longer much of a presence on the field. Ultimately he loses due to Victory Points, but in all honesty had it been an annihilation game, he would’ve been eventually ground down as well.

ikillmedics (aka IplayforKeeps)
PROS:
– Good Rifle survivability throughout early and midgame
– Good use of cover
– Excellent use of tier 3 combined arms: Quad, AT gun and Riflemen
– Good situational awareness


CONS
:
– Dreadful, noobish use of Calliope barrages; used them at ineffective ranges, missed many times, predictable use of them at close range allowed opponent to dodge them
– Snipers were just a manpower drain, they did nothing this game and were wasted
– Should’ve built AT guns instead of so many M10s
– Mediocre M10/Pershing micro

RukAcIDHorse
PROS:
– Good and timely use of counter units
– Relatively good unit survivability
– Teched to exactly the right units (Light AT HT, Panzer IVs, Panther Battlegroup)
– Great tank micro, including excellent takedown of a vet 2 M10 with a Panther suffering engine damage

CONS:
– Overall, too aggressive with tanks, favoring charging/flanking maneuvers with Panzer IVs and Panthers, when a distract/flank tactic would’ve worked better
– Barely used useful abilities like Butterfly Bombs
– Didn’t use Luftwaffe Ground Forces and Flak 88s, both of which would’ve helped

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16 Responses to Battle Report: ikillmedics (USA) vs RukAcIDHorse (PE)

  1. colonelcommissar says:

    As you mentioned at the beginning, the most comprehensive battle report written so far. For avid readers of this blog, this will probably come across as a pleasant surprise, given that previous battle reports have not been lacking in length, tactical insight and/or entertainment!

    Keep up the great work and Happy Holidays to the blog crew.

  2. And? says:

    Love it. And here I’d almost given up on PBG as too situational. Panther micro was especially fun to watch. Wouldn’t have occurred to me to use ground attack to direct the turret. Awesome.

  3. In long, roughly evenly-matched games, it’s surprising how accessible all the Panzer Elite’s abilities and units are. 255 MP Panzer Grenadiers are especially nasty with Increased Squad Sizes, Group Zeal, Veteran Sergeants and Sprint.

  4. AdAbsurdum says:

    Wow, amazing work and real quality piece here. Very enjoyable read, thanks.

  5. paul says:

    Great read, really enjoy your website, keep up the good work!!

  6. Thanks to all of ya’ll for reading!

  7. Weslanator44 says:

    Awww man I love the tips! The PG’s dodging grenades was helpful for me. I always end up losing numerous squads to those pesky rifles and there grenades … Not anymore!! =p

  8. Kat says:

    Great analysis, once again. You inspired me to use the same advise-on-screenshot method to review casual replays on my clan forum. Now I know how much time and effort it takes so appreciate your work even more.

  9. Rafabomb says:

    By reading you I realize how noob I am, thank you very much for sharing such a great knowledge with all of us. Several of your remarks would have passed unnoticed like the double acticipation of the nades, it is just great to realize the skill of these guys. Thanks again and keep up the good work.

  10. @rafabomb
    please dont bump topics that are over a patch old please

  11. Philmark says:

    Great work, really nice report, gave me new ideas, and revived my hopes for PE.

  12. nombre says:

    commentario

  13. Primero says:

    water

  14. Primero says:

    azucar

  15. vincent says:

    nice guide really helpful 😀

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