REPLAY: Riflemaster2000 (Airborne) vs. TheNoobSchoolBus (Tank Hunters) RETAIL 2.301
[Click link above to download the actual replay]
At long last, back by popular demand, it’s our critically-acclaimed Battle Reports! There have been a tremendous number of really cool matches in the last eight weeks, when Rifles Ready! went into hiatus. Every time you think all strategies possible in the retail game have been tried, somebody comes up with some new shit. This Battle Report and the next one (to debut next week hopefully) will showcase some fearless ingenuity. This game is between Riflemaster2000 and TheNoobSchoolBus, two excellent players. I’m not familiar with either; they could be smurf account names for better-known players or they could be new and rising talent. If anyone does know, feel free to append this information to the comments for this post. Note I will refer to TheNoobSchoolBus as “Noob” for short — this assuredly is not intended as a comment on his skill level.
This match happens on the familiar proving ground of Angoville, where the resources are high — just like the stakes. Three things make this game noteworthy: one is a fantastic early (pre-panzershreck) base rush by Noob; the second is a remarkably illustrative series of opening skirmishes and the final is some terrific cat-and-mouse games highlighting the power of the Recoilless Rifle.
The game starts off with Noob (who spawns in the north position) aggressively pushing south in two directions, going both for Riflemaster’s left strategic point (SP) and his crucial top SP by the house. Riflemaster’s first Rifle sees the Panzer Grenadiers coming and hops immediately into the house. Given how annoying it is to have your opponent garrison this key civilian house, it’s always wise to send your first squad near the house, so that if you see the enemy coming for it, you can parry the attack by hopping in yourself. Next up, Riflemaster builds a Jeep, which is typically not recommended against PE opponents.
A Jeep serves precisely two functions against the PE: first, it kills Kettenrads (largely thanks to the pathfinding bug that affects Kettens whenever Jeeps get nearby) and second, it pushes PGs out of cover. Riflemaster finds Noob’s Ketten very quickly and eliminates it in short order. The disadvantage of building a Jeep? It leaves you significantly outgunned against your PE opponent, particularly if he chooses to mass his PGs together. In this game, you’ll see Riflemaster get an awful lot of utility out of his Jeep.
Next up we have a major set-piece battle that takes place by Noob’s key SP up top. It appears that Riflemaster is hopelessly outgunned: two Rifles, one half-dead, a Jeep and an Engineer vs. FOUR fully healthy PG squads, including one PG packing G43s. But little does Noob know that Riflemaster’s Engy is seconds away from having a flamethrower magically materialize in their hands. You will notice that Riflemaster initiated this attack, which allowed him to position his men behind the green cover of the hay bales BEFORE Noob can do the same.
Suddenly the Engy squad gets the flamer, and lets it rip. Often the initial flamethrower burst is random; sometimes it’s devastating and kills numerous squad members, sometimes almost no damage is done. This time Riflemaster’s flamer kills two PGs and nearly destroys the squad. Noob focus fires the flamer immediately, but the damage is done.
Here something unusual happens; Noob retreats his G43 squad along with the nearly dead vanilla PG that took the brunt of the flamer attack. I think this was an accident on his part; if he kept the G43 in place, he would’ve been a position to easily win the skirmish. Instead, he has two healthy PGs against Riflemaster’s Jeep and single wounded Rifle squad. Noob finally gets his men into position behind a hay bale to match Riflemaster’s green cover; to keep himself in the fight Riflemaster charges his Jeep at the PGs in an attempt to dislodge them from cover.
This is actually quite effective when you have a large number of men behind a small piece of green cover, as you can see from these shots.
As you can see in the screenshot below, the Jeep successfully forces the PGs out of cover and puts Noob in a tactical dilemma; does he focus his fire on the Jeep or the Rifle squad? Every second that Jeep is up in his men’s faces, firing its little MG and forcing them to dance around out of cover, is a second gained by Riflemaster — who is at this very instant rushing a brand-new Rifle squad into action. The new squad arrives in time to reinforce the original men…
…but all is for naught because Noob hasn’t been sitting on his laurels either: he’s built an Infantry Halftrack and its arrival completely reverses the equation. Now no amount of fancy Jeep micro can save Riflemaster from ownage, so he doesn’t waste time beating a swift retreat. It’s not a second too soon, seeing as the first Rifle squad is very nearly cut down entirely, with the second-to-last squaddie falling during the retreat. There’s a brief lull in the action; Noob uses this time to reinforce his PGs, recapture his key fuel point and pump out a second Infantry HT. Riflemaster reinforces his men and spreads them out to try and win the capping war.
That’s when Noob pushes home his major gambit of the day: a bold all-out assault on Riflemaster’s base! At this point in the game, Noob doesn’t have panzershrecks. But this tactic doesn’t need them; the point is to destroy the American player’s MG tents, depriving him of all base defenses. Remember: American MG tents die to small arms fire, taking particularly heavy damage from G43s. Now, I am primarily a U.S. player, but I’ll take a moment here to make an observation from the PE perspective. On a high-fuel map like Angoville, when map control is even, it’s always dicey for the PE player to go for a second Infantry HT rather than saving the fuel for Armored Cars, the panzershreck upgrade or the Light AT Halftrack. You must be ready to face that initial M8 Armored Car, which is an absolute hellhound in your side with it’s .50 cal gunner upgrade and up-armored side skirts.
One thing you can absolutely count on if you were to try this strategy is surprise. Nobody is likely to see this coming so early. This strategy is also devastating because the amount of firepower from two Infantry HTs, multiple PGs and G43s is ABSURD when concentrated on retreating Riflemen coming back to their base. There is no cover in your base, your only advantage is the ability to garrison your HQ. But Rifles in your HQ (or MG tents) die fast to focused PG fire and the PE player can engage from long range, when their rifles are most effective but American M1 Garands are not (Garands are best at medium range). Additionally, you cannot reinforce garrisonned Rifles. PGs obviously can thanks to the Infantry HTs. The effect here is murderous. A retreating Rifle loses 50% of its men before it can get in the HQ; the flame Engy gets inside safely, but neither squad lasts long. Both are slaughtered.
Now Riflemaster has his other men furiously cutting off resource points, but Noob can afford to divide and conquer. He shifts his fire to destroy the MG tents while sending half his force inside one Infantry HT to defend his +16 fuel. The MG tent falls quickly to the PGs; the same fate awaits an Engy squad that was forced to retreat. The massacre continues; squads that must retreat are completely eliminated the instant they make it to their HQ.
Two more Rifle squads die in this ignoble fashion. Riflemaster has reacted fairly well so far, but he’s lost an awful lot of squads. He’s killed a good number of PGs, but it’s only squaddies, not entire squads. He’s also managed to deny Noob a lot of territory with his decapping/recapping. This keeps things closer than you might judge from these absolutely cringe-inducing screenshots. It’s just “straight murda” as they say on the West side.
You can watch a lengthy FRAPS capture of this entire encounter via the embedded YouTube video below.
To keep his critical SP defended, and to have a backup in case panzershrecks were to arrive and destroy his HQ, Riflemaster took the time to upgrade the house by the SP into a forward headquarters (FHQ) with his last Rifle squad. He also saves up the manpower to drop an Airborne squad next to the FHQ. These forces fight off a PG strikeforce and its accompanying Infantry HT.
Things are still dire for Riflemaster at this point in the game. Fortunately Noob hasn’t gained a significant fuel advantage because all his men were busy fighting and his first Kettenrad was destroyed, forcing him to build another to keep himself in the territory war. He attacks Riflemaster’s HQ again, presumably checking to see if there’s any teching going on, and manages to kill the Airborne squad, which had gotten Recoilless Rifles. The longer range afforded by being garrisonned allows the Paratroopers to also destroy one Infantry HT.
Note the single Recoilless Rifle that spawns on the ground behind the HQ when the Paratroops are killed. This one little weapon plays a big role later on in the game. Riflemaster uses a Rifle squad to recover it, giving him a total AT deterrent of three Recoilless Rifles on the field. This will be important, as Noob has now accumulated enough XP to deploy his first Hetzer tank destroyer. I’ve always been tickled by the characterization of the Hetzer as a tank destroyer. It comes with a mounted MG42 that just fires itself (no visible gunner, probably a lazy Relic bug) and a cannon that snipes infantry.
Overall the Hetzer is quite effective against infantry, it’s nowhere near as good as a Wehrmacht Panzer IV or of course, the PE’s deadly Panzer IV infantry support tank, but it’s one HELL of a lot better than the U.S. M10. Sure, the M10 can crush infantry, but the Hetzer can sit back, snipe and backpedal to kite pursuing squads into oblivion. Oh, and for extra fun it costs no fuel. Personally I think this unit would be more reasonable if it was made better against tanks and worse against infantry. But that’s just crazy old me. In any case, Noob plays very casually with his Hetzer, treating it like a main battle tank, which it isn’t because it has relatively low HP and no turret, like the Stug. The first Hetzer is actually destroyed by Recoilless Rifle rounds from the Paratrooper and AT-armed Rifle squad, mainly because Noob left it alone and without any infantry escort.
This lackadaisical attitude (or maybe he was tired?) really hurts him as the game continues. Anyway, Noob is understandably pissed by how fast his Hetzer died, and shifts his entire army to the top-right Victory Point (VP) to confront Riflemaster. This includes a new Hetzer and a badly damaged Infantry HT, which presents an awfully juicy target for Riflemaster.
He tries to move the squads in, but focus-fire from Noob forces him to retreat the weaker of his two squads, leaving the Riflemen on the field and the Paratroopers in flight (get it, flight? LOLLERSKATEZ I know) back to his HQ. Anyway, he does get his men close enough to fire off a shot and kill the Infantry HT, which incenses Noob even further. Losing vehicles with veterancy sucks.
Unfortunately, despite Noob’s attempt to slow down the offensive Rifle with Volley Fire, it manages to escape without being destroyed. A Bergetiger would really have helped given Noob’s mounting vehicle losses. Additionally, Riflemaster has no tanks or AT guns, which prevent him from quickly destroying vehicle husks. A Bergetiger would also permitted the possibility of getting the Panzer IV IS tank, which is the perfect answer to infantry AT like Recoilless Rifles.
I know, it’s easy to do Monday-night quarterbacking. But this is how we improve. Sensing that he has a chance to push forward, Noob advances on his enemy’s unprotected base, forcing Riflemaster to play ring-around-the-rosie with his precious AT squads. Riflemaster has spent the extra time quietly teching to a Tank Depot, as he has spent zero fuel on any upgrades so far.
His first M10 rolls off the assembly line and proceeds to crush the two PGs that were desperately trying to finish laying a Teller mine. The men are successful, but take crushing losses (get it, crushing?). Sadly, Noob left his Hetzer undefended while trying to lay the mine, which allowed the AT infantry to reinforce and kill the Hetzer. To his credit, Noob did retreat quickly, but the Hetzer took engine damage. Even if it hadn’t, Paratroopers have their Fire Up! ability, which almost always allows them to get in one or two more parting Recoilless Rifle shots.
Ouch again for the boys in gunmetal Nazi gray. They did manage to leave a sour surprise (see caption) for the next tank that Riflemaster builds. I’ve been awfully reliant on puns in this particular Battle Report, I’ll leave it up to you guys to decide whether I’m being too punny (get it punny/funny?). Which brings us to the late game. While Riflemaster has held his own awfully well with just vanilla Riflemen and Airborne, he is now saving fuel for a Sherman while Noob continues his Hetzer spam.
The stage is set for another major battle, this time with Noob’s forces bolstered by panzershreck-wielding PGs. It’s an ideal counter to the paper-thin M10, and discourages the M10 from using its speed to drive into PGs for a crushing spree.
Meanwhile, Riflemaster gets Sticky Bombs. In his base, his Sherman rolls of the production line only to instantly strike the Teller mine. The damage is absolutely jaw-dropping. A single Teller drops a fresh Sherman down to about 10% HP while simultaneously destroying its treads, making it instantly immobile. If this happened anywhere except in Riflemaster’s base, the Sherman would be panzerbait. To add insult to injury, the Teller mine also takes about 30% off the health bar for the Tank Depot itself — a very expensive structure with a fuel price tag of 90.
And so the Sherman is basically taken out of the fight immediately, needing heavy Engineer repairs before it can enter the fray. This leaves the M10 and AT squads to contend with multiple Hetzers and PGs. Noob plays better with his Hetzers, but he really needs to pair his armor with panzershreck squads; failing to do so, he is forced to allow the M10 to escape. In this encounter another Hetzer is destroyed by Recoilless Rifles, penetrating frontally numerous times for the win.
These losses have totally turned the tables against Noob, given his refusal to deploy Bergetigers or any other type of unit. He also needs to keep his infantry in play with his Hetzers, so they could move in and kill the AT squads while repairing damage on the Hetzers constantly. Lack of constant repair meant Hetzers were frequently fighting AT squads with 80% health instead of 100%.
Noob does do a good job keeping up the pressure on Riflemaster’s base. He attacks again with shreck-armed infantry, destroying his enemy’s Supply Yard.
Having racked up enough XP for Supply Drops, Riflemaster deploys an MG team to discourage further infantry mob attacks from Noob.
He continues a robust defense of his SP, garrisonning his FHQ with an MG and the Paratroopers. This leads to an opportunity for an excellently-timed Sticky Bomb from Riflemaster.
Riflemaster follows up with Fire Up! on his Airborne, chasing down the damaged Hetzer for yet another kill. At this point, having lost four Hetzers and his last Infantry HT, Noob knows he’s got to go all in and attack the same weak point he’s spent all game drilling at: Riflemaster’s base. So his final Hetzer and a mob of PGs move on the base, which is undefended save two flame Engies and the M10, which moves quickly to intercept the Hetzer. At the moment, Riflemaster’s Sherman is well out of position. By engaging Riflemaster’s forces piecemeal, Noob is hoping to inflict enough damage to keep him in the game. At this point, he could probably easily destroy the Barracks, but he doesn’t have enough time to kill the enemy HQ. The M10 takes damage quickly and is forced to retreat. It’s looking like Noob is going to have a field day inside his opponent’s base, but then the flame Engies pick up the Supply Drop, gaining the +100 munitions bonus.
As soon as this happens, we have a Saving Private Ryan moment, with the horde of menacing Krauts suddenly dropping dead like sacks of beans as the roar of an airplane engine is heard and the dark shadow of a P47 sweeps over the earth like an avenging angel.
Five PGs are dropped. A retreated Rifle squad tosses a Sticky Bomb and ensures the Hetzer’s fate. The Hetzer is eliminated, almost poetically, by the returning Sherman, which fires once into the rear of the Hetzer for the win.
– Great early use of the Jeep to keep skirmishes going as long as possible
– Good use of cover and aggressive moves to seize cover early
– Excellent use of Recoilless Rifles to defeat enemy armor
– Good situational awareness
– Superlative tank micro, keeping M10 alive against multiple tank destroyer threats and AT infantry, using it to crush enemies, etc.
– Superb aiming with Strafing Run
– Terrible Rifle survivability; need to know when NOT to garrison men inside buildings, which cost an expensive Paratrooper squad
– Didn’t anticipate the Teller mine, which should’ve been obvious given the appearance of Hetzers and the presence of PGs in front of the Tank Depot
– Brilliant use of PGs and Infantry HTs to kill enemy MG tents
– Superb focus fire on retreating infantry to inflict huge losses early on
– Relatively good unit survivability
– Great Teller mine!
– Needed greater variety of units and not just continued Hetzer spam
– Dreadful micro of Hetzers against AT infantry, which is a relatively minor threat; just keep backing up and supporting your tanks with G43 PGs!
– Not to beat a dead horse, but losing five Hetzers in one match is absolutely ludicrous