[Click link above to download the actual replay]
Here we go sports fans, our very first post-Tales of Valor Battle Report! The game is between Quacks — aka Kodachrome — and NiceSirotaSan, who may or may not be some smurf. Highlights include some astoundingly effective Jeep usage in the beginning, epic and sudden turns of fate, perhaps the most massive base attacks mounted post-patch 2.301, and to top it off, a huge comeback. While both players are exemplary, this replay isn’t an example of perfect play. In fact, both Kodachrome and Sirota make major mistakes. What makes it interesting is how they hang on in the face of long odds and react to rapidly shifting fortunes. So, to the match! The map is St. Mere Dumont, doubtless a welcome change from the all-too familiar killing fields of Angoville. St. Mere, or Dumont as some call it, is generally regarded as rather unfair to American players, due largely to the huge number of buildings. Axis MG42s or G43 Panzer Grenadiers can quickly garrison buildings and be extremely difficult for Riflemen to dislodge without incurring significant casualties early on. We open with Koda down south; he begins the match by building a Jeep first, which is nearly unheard of, particularly in U.S. vs. PE matches. Most good players don’t get a Jeep first against PE, especially now that the Kettenrad pathfinding bug has been fixedand you can’t get guaranteed Ketten kills in the first minutes of a game. But Koda goes for a Jeep and sends it screaming into downtown St. Mere Dumont, where it charges into a pack of PGs.
Right away Koda uses the Jeep to distract them as they go about capping; his Engineers go for the top +10 fuel right above the Cafe Normandy building and barb it up with wire. This is always a good move on Dumont, especially early on against PE, who have no wire cutters and can’t do jack about wire until they get their first Infantry Halftrack. Next up the real Jeep action begins. Using his Jeep, Koda gets in the way of a moving PG squad, forcing the 3-man squad to scatter its members. When individual squad members are separated from their squad, they receive the brunt of any focused fire and die quickly as a result. Fire on a clumped-together squad and the gunfire won’t necessarily target a single individual; rather they’ll lower the entire squad’s health by hitting several squad members. Here the Jeep forcibly separates the men by simply getting in the way. It takes some practice to do this effectively, and you’ll need to watch your Jeep carefully and retreat it when taking focused fire. Keeping the Jeep alive is crucial, because you can’t spare the extra time to build a second Jeep when you need to be massing up to your preferred complement of 3-4 Rifle squads. Always retreat with a margin of error to minimize the chance of suffering engine damageand giving the PGs a free kill. When done successfully, studied Jeep movements can scatter a squad very widely, making it take much longer for all the members to consolidate behind cover. As you can see here, the extra time needed became fatal for one unfortunate Kraut. Koda actually killed that particular PG with a combination of Jeep fire and fire from his first Engy squad; Sirota largely ignores these two “weak” units in favor of capping the crucial middle strategic point (SP), though he pivots afterward to prioritize the +10 north fuel point. You can scroll down and click the link to expand the full post to watch the YouTube video of this amazing, Jeep-centered initial skirmish. But before that, check out our very own Rifles Ready! illustrated analysis of the Willys-Overland Jeep as depicted in COH:
Here’s a little teaser from the Mind of a Master audio strategy series featuring Surprise talking about how he uses the Jeep. Remember to check back later this week for an update when Volume I of the MoM series becomes available on Amazon.com.https://riflesready.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/jeep-usage-teaser.mp3″ So, here’s a quick rundown of how Koda dominates the early PGs with just a Jeep, a Rifle squad and an Engy squad. First, he scatters the PG squad members. It’s very hard to preventyour PGs from scattering when they have hell on wheels in their path, blasting away with a little MG.
All the while, his Rifle squad is in green cover, plinking away.
I’ll not prattle on, you’ve seen the before-and-after images, now check out the action, which speaks for itself. Remember:Watch the HD version of the YouTube if you have a fast connection; the quality is much better. You can do this by clicking on the video and going to my YouTube profile (ArsenalGrant).
By the time Sirota’s first Infantry HT arrives on the scene to end the madness, his troops have been badly mauled. All in all, it’s a great opening from Koda.
He’s forced to retreat one squad and his others are badly hurt; nevertheless Sirota manages to hang on thanks to his ability to reinforce from the HT and the Infantry HT’s currently (bugged) staggering suppression power against Riflemen. Meanwhile, Koda’s other Engy has managed to do a fair bit of capping, combined with adding more wire. On Dumont, some of the farm sectors feature gates and stone walls that allow them to be completely sealed with just two pieces of barbed wire, a fact Koda takes advantage of. Koda consolidates his advantage moments later, when he manages to destroy Sirota’s Infantry HT with combined Rifle fire, centered around the cottage just below the central Victory Point (VP). The HT actually doesn’t kill the squad inside, but it does blow up and leave a single squad member with a pixel of life; he’s almost instantly killed by Riflemen fire once his vehicle explodes. Now it’s time for one of my classic teaching moments. The center of Dumont can easily be turned into a fortress because of terrain features; specifically, the two relatively narrow streets into down, which are divided by several strategic civilian buildings in the middle.
Holding this center is more or less Koda’s game plan throughout the match; he’s forced out of it numerous times by a simple combination of G43 PGs, regular PGs and vetted Infantry HTs. He also takes some rather unnecessary Rifle losses in the form of what I like to call “lost outposts” — garrisoned squads surrounded by the enemy. Unless you can rush reinforcements in or retreat the men in a direction away from the waiting enemy, men in lost outposts are as good as dead. Stay in the building, and die slowly.
Try to exit and run, and you’ll be cut down in retreat.
As I’ve observed in previous Battle Reports, this is one of the surest ways to lose — or eliminate — squads. Be sure to take note of these situations depending on which end of the stick you’re on. Anyway, fuel income so far has been relatively even, but Koda is at a slight disadvantage from what I saw. He feels the same way; at this point he’s at tier 3 and has a Motorpool, but having lost the latest battle, his fuel income is at +5 due to territory loss. He calculates it will take too long to produce an M8 or T17, so he goes for a basic but deadly 57mm AT gun instead, backed by Rangers (this is also about when he chooses Infantry Company for his doctrine). He’s racing these units to the front for a decisive counterattack, upgrading Thompson SMGs on his Rangers. He’s up against two PGs, a Luftwaffe Ground Forces squad and two Infantry HTs. It’s a pretty even fight, with the odds heavily in Koda’s favor assuming he gets off an effective two shots with his AT gun. Unfortunately he is forced to retreat the one Rifle squad he had that was in position to supplement this attack; it’s caught alone and out of position. Even without the Rifle squad, it’s a pretty even fight; but what happens next is, well, there’s no nice way to say it. Koda gets totally pwned, pwned sideways, pwned so hard one must actually wince and turn aside one’s eyes to avoid being temporarily blinded by the blazing glory of the pwnage inflicted by Sirota. It’s like the scene in a World War II movie where everybody freaking dies, then the last guy who’s half-dead tries to raise his gun desperately — he almost makes it, then BAM, he’s brutally mowed down by like 50 SMG bullets to the torso. This is like what happens with Koda’s AT gun, its crew dies, then the last Engy squad tries to recrew it, almost gets off a shot but dies without being able to fire. Epic fail. You think I’m exaggerating? Watch this:
This has always been Koda’s problem, BTW. He’s not a finesse player. I’ve actually played him and beaten him before, and he lost because of micro-management slip-ups on his part. In this case he got owned because he didn’t aim his AT gun properly. He also went in way too aggressive if you ask me; charging a fatigued Ranger squad into the maw of two PG-loaded Infantry HTs is not a good idea. Koda’s a bit more careful with his next Ranger squad, moving it behind a building when it becomes apparent the battle is hopeless. Sirota ignores it in favor of mounting a massive attack on Koda’s base. By this point however, Koda has gotten enough fuel to pump out an M8, which just finishes its armored skirts and .50 cal gunner upgrade when panzershreck-toting PGs and the two Infantry HTs attack. They chase the M8 into Koda’s base, where one HT is swiftly cut to ribbons by fire from Koda’s MG nest. What happens next is a simply epic set-piece battle in Koda’s base, where each side sends reinforcements as the battle continues. It’s literally a two-minute battle — just think to yourself how long that is in RTS terms. I’ve split the carnage into two separate videos; there’s just way too much happening for me to give you an accurate blow-by-blow. The battle begins when Koda’s M8 sallies forth to challenge the Infantry HTs; he suddenly realizes they’re packing panzershrecks and beats a swift retreat. Unfortunately, they follow him in with lethal intent.
Once inside, one HT is quickly destroyed, but the PGs and second HT start dueling it out with a handful of Rifles and the damaged M8, which plays ring-around-the-Motorpool to avoid getting shrecked into oblivion. A Wirblewind arrives to reinforce the PE troops and it starts to look horribly grim for Koda, but he uses Ranger call-ins to eventually wear down the enemy and both the M8 and Wirblewind end up dying.
If it hasn’t become plain in the course of this match, let me make it clear. Fatigue really frickin’ hurts. BAD. It’s no longer a good idea to use Fire-Up to speed troops into battle, because if it wears off right as they starting fighting, they’ll be Fatigued (or “Exhausted,” according to patch notes). That means they suffer a 50% movement and firing rate penalty. Not good. You can still use Fire-Up to get troops closer to the front, but make sure you time it so the Fatigue has worn off by the time they approach. The effect lasts 10 seconds after Fire-Up ends. Fire-Up can still be spammed to get you out of a dangerous situation without retreating. Koda has maintained a significant VP advantage throughout the match, but his lack of mobile AT aside from Rangers costs him a lot of map control thanks Wirblewinds and Infantry HTs; if I were Sirota I would also have teched to Panzer IVs. Instead he opts for Fallschirmjagersto counter Koda’s Rangers. Koda makes a few more costly mistakes; he’s particularly careless with his Rangers as you can see in the shot at left. Presumably he was trying to eliminate the repairing Luftwaffe Ground Forces while they were repairing the damaged HT; instead his men get suppressed and totally owned by the HT and the nearby Wirblewind. It goes without saying that losing 400 MP elite infantry squads is bad. Koda maintains some semblance of map control for awhile by garrisoning civilian buildings; in fact one squad of garrisoned Rangers actually kills a HT from a window. This is an example of Sirota being absent-minded. One tip about targeting infantry garrisoned in buildings. If the infantry is firing out of one side, you need to target that side because they’re firing out of it. Sirota spent a long time shooting at the wrong side of a garrisoned building before realizing why his Wirblewind was doing virtually no damage and shifting it. You can see that after he moves it to fire at the front of the cottage, Rangers start dying. This is a subtle point and you can use it no matter if you’re the guy with squads inside a building or forces outside. If you’re inside, you can order your men to target units that are away from the most damaging enemy forces. Or if this isn’t possible, exit using a door that points away from the enemy (see above example of “lost outposts”). Anyway, Koda’s losses mount and he deliberately chooses not to replace too many, storing up his manpower for Off-map Combat Groups. It becomes incredibly dangerous because at one point, he’s down to a single Ranger squad when Sirota comes calling with an army, including a Wirblewind.
Koda’s about 1/4 of a Command Point away from being able to call in Off-map Combat Groups and makes up the difference by killing a couple of infantry and losing most of his Rangers. Now here’s a note about Off-Map Combat Groups from the Infantry Company. They’re really damn random. I mean really random. As in, there’s neither rhyme nor reason to it. You could wind up with 3 M10s, which is probably awesome in most situations, or you could wind up with 3 Mortar Teams, an MG team and an M8. Not so good in a tight late-game match. Fortunately for Koda, he draws an M10, a Ranger squad and a Rifle squad. Pretty sweet.
Koda is aggressive with the M10 — too aggressive if you ask me. He rapes the Wirblewind and charges the M10 into the panzershreck troops, crushing quite a few but eventually losing the M10 over it. I really don’t think that was justifiable, especially because his next Off-map Combat Group might be pure crap.
In any case, the effect is devastating for Sirota, who loses his Wirblewind, his Infantry HT and plenty of squad members. Koda saves up enough manpower for a second round of Off-map units and gets… drumroll please…
Two shiny new M10s and two fresh Rifle squads, a ridiculous, almost overpowered set of reinforcements for a mere 800 MP. Knowing that Sirota has no AT aside from two panzershreck teams, Koda sends them straight into Sirota’s base. He uses his renewed infantry forces to recap the VPs and reconnect his resource sectors. For Koda’s Americans, it has now clearly ecome a bid for a VP victory. Inside Sirota’s base, Koda is almost cavalier in his disregard for his M10s, for which he should’ve been thanking his lucky stars. One easily dispatched and the other swiftly brought to 20% health before he retreats. He almost kills one Sirota’s Flakvierlings and runs over a few PGs. In my opinion, he should’ve micro’d this one a little tighter. In fact, much tighter. In fact, I would’ve killed the Flakvierling rather than taken a few careless shots at it, then retreat BOTH my M10s out of Dodge. But that’s just me, with my crazy predilection for unit preservation. By now the VP advantage for Koda has become nearly overwhelming. He continues to hold two out of the three VPs. Remember that chart I illustrated above showing the middle of Dumont? Well, check this out:
Without Panzer IVs, all Sirota has are infantry, and he doesn’t have enough assault troops (MP44 troops, multiple Fallschirmjagers and PGs) to make an effective attack. The final M10 is eliminated, but ultimately it’s not enough.
Koda holds his defensive lines and his Rangers utterly rape the last-ditch charge from Sirota, for the win.
Quacks (aka Kodachrome)
– Epic use of the Jeep in the opening game
– Established a commanding lead early on, eliminating lots of PGs while taking low losses
– Managed to win the massive base assault despite being outgunned
– Placed priority on VPs and it paid off a lot in the long term
– Showed lots of grit, hanging on against long odds in the late game
– Good defensive effort to win the game
LUCKY SHIT FOR WHICH YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED:
– Got really lucky Off-map mixes; imagine if he got all Mortar Teams when that Wirblewind was in his base
– Lost Riflemen, Rangers and M10s in spades, almost always unnecessarily
– Got owned because of improper timing and AT gun placement, which led to Sirota taking the upper hand for most of the late game
– Not a finesse player, and it shows
– Good unit survivability, except for Wirblewinds
– Great use of Infantry HTs throughout
– Great base push and aggression, including sending Wirblewind to reinforce
– Used panzershrecks well, killing many M10s and an M8
– Great use of focus firing to eliminate entire squads
LUCKY SHIT FOR WHICH YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED:
– Imagine how things would’ve been different if Koda was paying attention and his AT gun oriented correctly at the mid-game turning point
– Needed to tech to more core PE units, like Panzer IVs
– Need four-man squads, since his army was so infantry-heavy
– Ignored VPs for too long, even when he gained map control