[Click link above to download the actual replay]
At long last, we have a Battle Report featuring the first new map of retail 2.502: Flooded Plains. On the one hand we have COH legend Sepha, playing as Wehrmacht; on the other, as the Americans, we have one Hamilton, whom I’m unfamiliar with.
Rest assured however, this is an excellent match. There’s a ton of infantry that reach elite status; there’s a King Tiger that goes out in a Bismarck-style blaze of glory; there’s artillery wiping out an entire Knights’ Cross squad in one hit, plus lots of dead Panzer IVs. Flooded Plains is still so new that both players are still sort of figuring it out. It’s an interesting map for two reasons: first, there are two high fuels, just like Angoville, and they’re close enough to each player that teching is quite quick. Second, the terrain and resources are quite evenly distributed.
Both players start by tacking toward their high fuels, which I suspect will pretty much be the default opening move on this map. Sepha moves next to secure what seems like a stronghold position at the top mid-region, but it becomes quickly evident that this area doesn’t favor MGs.
If you garrison the house, your MG can’t hit either the top Victory Point or the nearby Munitions point.
If you deploy in the open, it’s tough to cover both discrete routes, which enemy infantry can easily take simultaneously in separate squads. Your best bet is to angle your MG so you cover the top route and much of the bottom.
Sepha is thwarted by Hamilton for precisely this reason; the Riflemen move in two directions, forcing him to keep shifting his MG. It may be a better idea to go for multiple Volksgrenadiers on this map; then again the high fuel income means BARs can come very quickly, devastating your Volks. It’ll be interesting to see how high-level play develops on this map. Sepha goes for an Axis Sniper instead; this is a common tactic for Wehrmacht on building-heavy maps like Semois, where Rifles frequently garrison buildings to hold ground.
If you can pick off enough Riflemen, you can justify the expense and risk of a Sniper. If you don’t kill enough men before losing your Sniper, you’ll have sacrificed time, manpower and capping power.
Sepha’s Sniper is off to a good start, but unbeknownst to him, Hamilton’s spare Engineer squad spends some time placing a mine.
If enemies are moving north, they’ll also wander into the vicinity of the mine.
It’s the latter action that proves most unfortunate for one Kraut Sniper. Losing a Sniper so early is quite devastating for Sepha; most players would move on, but our champ goes for Sniper #2. The logic remains the same: kill enough men to compensate for the loss of the first Sniper, then collect enough scalps to justify his own training.
This is generally not recommended, because you’ll need to be extremely careful with your Sniper to keep him alive long enough.
It’s a fair debate as to whether Sepha was simply experimenting around with his Snipers, or whether he felt this was the best way to advance the match in his favor.
Not only does this terrain offer no cover, it also greatly reduces the default movement speed of infantry. This doesn’t appear to affect how quickly they move in retreat. Another terrain feature that defines key areas of Flooded Plains are the irregular batches of hedgerow, which curve and surround important points.
Remember: Grenades can be thrown over hedgerows; a prime example is the length of hedgerow along the bottom of Angoville. It’s an old American trick to dislodge a garrisoned MG by tossing grenades over it and the same trick applies here.
Shortly thereafter, Sepha gets his money’s worth out of the MG, as it suppresses practically Hamilton’s entire army.
Moments later, Hamilton gets BARs. This proves unfortunate for Sepha’s Sniper #2, who is chased by one Rifle squad into a second. He’s cut down during the retreat. By now Hamilton has a comfortable fuel advantage thanks to better map control; in the early game he’s consistently proven himself better at capitalizing on the unfamiliar terrain.
Hamilton back-techs to a Weapons Support Center, going for his own Sniper. Sepha settles comfortably into a rather late Kreigsbarracks for the classic tier 2 Wehrmacht strategy.
But Sepha is just way too far behind; the standard American counters to vetted Grenadiers are BARs and a Sniper, but Hamilton has them before vanilla Grens materialize. The Sniper is unchallenged, with two fallen Kraut Snipers.
Unfortunately, as Hamilton moves down for an attack, his Rifles are suppressed before the MG can be eliminated via Sniper. Charging Volks force his Sniper to retreat and beat off the attack. The multiple retreats give Sepha the time to put up a defensive MG Bunker just north of the top stream crossing.
But Hamilton hasn’t been sitting still either. With BARs and a WSC already under his belt, he goes for a Motorpool and whips out a Quad Halftrack. One trick old-school American players like takes advantage of the lengthy Quad upgrade time. You stick Rifles in the halftrack as the upgrade progresses to get a free .50 cal gunner. This is a great trick to use with Flame Engineers; you time it so your Quad finishes right when you’re in the enemy base. The Quad fights off infantry, the Engies set demo charges and use their flamers to torch buildings. But I digress.
In the game at hand, Hamilton sends his Quad after Sepha’s bastion of strength. For whatever reason, the MG squad inside the Bunker fails to pivot to confront three Rifle squads moving from the bottom.
By the time the Rifles are up close and personal, there’s only one MG squad member left. Fortunately for Sepha, he comes to his senses and starts blasting away. But alas, while several Riflemen are killed, Hamilton’s Quad arrives in time for them to start reinforcing and kills the MG squad.
By now Hamilton has seen enough to help him decide that Infantry Company will be the best choice against Sepha. He places his Command Points and BAM, uses some of his ridiculous munitions reserve to drop Off-map Artillery on a random squad of Grenadiers, trying to capture a point.
Sepha is slow to react, but he actually does see it in time and starts moving his Grenadier squad downward, away from the initial artillery round. Sadly (or outrageously, depending on whose side you’re on) the next shell explodes south, wiping out the entire squad and leaving no corpses for his Medics to retrieve.
I generally don’t recommend using 150 munitions against a capping squad to test your opponent’s reflexes, but if you have hundreds of munitions and oodles of map control like Hamilton so far, I can’t blame you.
Just wait, however: things WILL turn around. Otherwise this wouldn’t be a Battle Report. But first, Hamilton shoots off another Off-map Artillery barrage, this time centered on that pesky Bunker, which Sepha has re-garrisoned. In my experience, this typically results in a fresh Bunker going down to about 10%-15% health, unless the opponent went Defensive and got the Bunker health bonus.
Hamilton gets even luckier. He has no idea if Sepha went Defensive or Terror (it’s the latter), but he burns off an Off-map barrage anyway just because he can afford it. It pays off because the shells all hit.
Not only do they all hit, but he comes up aces because Sepha doesn’t ungarrison his MG squad in time, resulting in a dead squad good for another -260 manpower. This is just too good to be true for Hamilton, but Sepha doesn’t waver (at least you can’t tell from his gameplay or micro).
Meanwhile Hamilton consolidates his lead, choosing to bypass a Tank Depot (he certainly has the resources) in favor of an on-map, in-base Howitzer.
If there’s one thing this game showcases, it’s how utterly shitty Wehr grenades are. It’s not for no reason that Surprise refers to them disparagingly as “firecrackers.” I know how the argument goes — sometimes they’re randomly great! But they need to suck because they’re free, whereas American pineapple grenades incur an extremely high 40- fuel cost and are most effective early on, when fuel is most valuable. Check out the shot below. Now imagine if that was a pineapple grenade and those men were Panzer Grenadiers. I wish the balance design wasn’t so logically arbitrary.
The game finally starts tilting Sepha’s way when his cloaked Pak 38 rips Hamilton’s Quad a new one.
It’s now early late-game (get it?) and Hamilton knows he can expect some tier 4 armor and probably a King Tiger (no Flak 88/For the Fatherland is a giveaway). He begins producing 57mm AT Guns. And this is where the tables turn. Somehow his AT guns are wholly and utterly out of position when Sepha’s TWO Ostwinds strike.
Most likely Hamilton just gave his army a move order. This is really dangerous when your AT guns are your only defense against fast-moving, high-damage output units like Ostwinds and Panzer IV Infantry Support Tanks. Which is like 90% of the time for Americans, unless you’ve got Tank Depot units.
In which case your opponents will probably never have built Ostwinds or P4 ISTs. So what happens when a good, attentive opponent catches your AT guns with their pants down? Well, you’re fucked, is what.
You get circle-strafed while desperately trying to turn your guns around while trying to get off a Sticky Bomb and maneuvering your Rangers.
Both 57mm AT guns are eliminated (though the guns themselves are not destroyed, an oversight on Sepha’s part because he forgets). Desperately Hamilton overruns the Pak 38 and tries turning THAT around, but it gets owned by the Ostwinds without getting off a single shot.
With that the tide turns, forcing Hamilton off the field long enough for Sepha to reclaim a lot of territory. It’s worth noting Sepha also has a significant VP advantage, mainly because he emphasized them while Hamilton did not. The tier 4 units continue pouring out of Sepha’s Panzer Kommand, with a Knights Cross squad joining his Ostwind. And then comes the Howitzer Shell of the Century.
If God has any say on the trajectories of inbound artillery shells, it clear whose side he was on this game.
Finally, Sepha’s anger is roused and he sends his freshly called-in King Tiger and surviving Ostwind directly into Hamilton’s base to eliminate the Howitzer.
Unfortunately Hamilton’s Rifles retreat back to base in time to land just one measly little Sticky Bomb on the King Tiger. Owing to his huge resource reserves, Hamilton actually had teched to a Tank Depot during his down time and sends an M10 after the Ostwind, which is destroyed in rapid fashion.
What follows is an absolutely edge-of-your-seat cat-and-mouse game wherein Hamilton throws every last man, woman and child he has against the limping King Tiger while Sepha strains his very bowels to urge his armored monster toward freedom.
There’s an obligatory ring-around-the-impenetrable-game-world-object minigame between the damaged M10 and the King Tiger. It ends predictably, with the M10 careening wildly to its doom, though not without getting a defiant shot off.
Hamilton’s vetted Rifles and Rangers get nearly close enough to land more crippling shots, but are sent packing by a well-timed storm of Nazi pamphlets denouncing capitalism and private enterprise that descend from the very heavens.
Hamilton doesn’t stop and chases — that’s right, chases — after the supertank with a 57mm crew.
While this may defy real-world logic, you should always send AT guns after tanks, even if they’re not limping. It’s shocking how effective it is, because your opponents often retreat their tanks to a set point and then stop, not realizing your guns are following and can still fire from range.
Anyway, here Sepha manages to crawl his tank toward the other side of the building, cleverly using it to block the AT crew’s line-of-sight while sending a Grenadier squad after the AT gun. Hamilton parries by sending a BAR Rifle squad after the Grenadiers.
Remember: Be careful when running infantry to the back of a tank for a rear-armor shot. Your men are very susceptible to being run over by a smart tank player.
His boys go home with a vet 2 promotion from vet 0, a pretty sweet promotion for an elite infantry squad.
A Firestorm dropped just behind the King Tiger as it limped away could’ve been effective at forestalling a last-ditch infantry attack, if it was well-timed. But of course this is all theorycraft.
Without his King Tiger, Sepha relies more and more on his tier 4 and manages to produce — and lose — an impressive number of Panzer IVs and Knights Cross Holders. By my count, it was four of the former and two of the latter (though the Howitzer Shell from God was partly responsible).
Hamilton’s good luck doesn’t run out, either. He gets some more crazy lucky shit, which you can see in detail if you watch the replay and look for it.
At one point, after vetted BAR Rifles own multiple KCH, Sepha asks Hamilton if KCHs got nerfed. I don’t believe they did, and I know they didn’t in the documented changes. It’s more a function of Sepha’s vet 2 KCH facing vet 2/3 BAR Rifles, including one Rifle with a captured LMG-42 and an elite, Thompson-toting Ranger squad.
Sepha tries to make a last-minute stand for VPs, but by now his once-formidable VP advantage has disappeared and he’s unable to budge Hamilton’s ticker below 14. It’s GG, though it’s amazing how many standout squads there were this game, particularly on the American side.
Sepha had one Grenadier squad that personally slaughtered nearly 30 Rifles and Rangers. He never did get the fuel to reach vet 3 infantry, which is unfortunate. Vet 3 on his KCHs could’ve made a big difference. But really Sepha lost this game early on, when he took huge hits and never inflicted enough in return, even with a brilliant tier 4 coup and a moment’s worth of lazy calculations on Hamilton’s part.
– Rarely got flustered, even in the face of heavy losses
– Engineered a brilliant comeback, calmly teching to tier 4
– Saw an opportunity present itself and seized it gloriously, destroying two AT guns and large numbers of enemy infantry, turning the tables
– Good use of Propaganda War
STUPID SHIT FOR WHICH YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED:
– Played roulette by building two unneeded Snipers in the early game, then losing them
– See above regarding Axis Snipers
– Poor use of grenades; they were being dodged so you need to stay one step ahead to land them
– Poor grasp of terrain, realizing too late that certain points were too difficult to defend
– Failed to exit MG when Bunker was under fatal artillery fire
– Randomly dropped a V1 (watch replay; it was random I didn’t bother mentioning it)
– Careless with Panzer IVs in the late game
– Failed to support base push against Howitzer with infantry, which could’ve saved the King Tiger
– Amazingly good infantry survivability, nursing four squads to elite/near-elite status
– Consistently dodged most grenades
– Early on, seized the advantage by maximizing use of Flooded Plains’ linear terrain
– Effective fuel harrassment yielded massive fuel advantage, permitting the purchase of early BARs, early Triage Center, back-tech to WSC without slowing Motorpool, Tank Depot even Supply Depot upgrades
– Excellent, determined use of infantry to kill King Tiger
LUCKY SHIT FOR WHICH YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED:
– Almost too many to list
– Amazing, Sniper-seeking mine that kills Kraut Sniper five minutes into the match
– Two absurdly lucky Off-map Artillery barrages that killed one Grenadier squad outright, one Bunker and one MG squad
– Once-in-a-lifetime, God-assisted Howitzer shell that destroys an entire full-health Knights Cross squad instantly
– Lost the M10 when it could’ve retreated safely and been repaired
– Asleep at the wheel, drunk on confidence which resulted in a total disaster, losing two AT guns and lots of squad members
– Late researching Sticky Bombs