[Click link above to download the actual replay]
So there’ve been a few delays… you try ducking tornadoes while flying westward to the Mile-High City! Anyway, I’m now comfortably ensconced in my 12th floor hotel suite, typing away. This match is a timeless showcase of human mental perseverance. That said, I’ve watched it several times now and it’s clear that the opponent got lazy and careless, which contributed to the comeback.
That doesn’t change things as much as you might think. There was such a tidal wave built up that you can’t fault the guy for taking a breather and floating 800 manpower or so. Anyway, onward to the match.
The game is on Semois, and we’ve got CharlesDarwin, a seasoned and solid player, vs. Malivos, probably some smurf for some guy. Darwin goes for a Weapon Support Center (WSC) start, always risky but less so against the Panzer Elite and even less so on Semois. PE have a hard time countering garrisoned MGs without Mortar Halftracks and Semois lends itself well to MG strongpoints. So this isn’t as butt-in-the-air crazy as it may sound.
Malivos’ strategy becomes clear instantly. He picks Scorched Earth doctrine and sends his initial Schwimmwagen to Darwin’s bottleneck Strategic Point (SP) by the bridge. BAM! The point is destroyed, necessitating repair before it can be recaptured by either player.
Meanwhile, Darwin’s MG takes up position in the civilian building just below Malivos’ SP bridge. He sends a second MG to the hay bales by the +5 fuel point on the top half of Semois. They stop a few Panzer Grenadiers from advancing, but Malivos mainly chooses to avoid them. Darwin goes for a Sniper next, which is a great selling point for going WSC first against the PE.
Snipers are the best way for Americans to counter elite, heavy Axis infantry, including PGs and Wehrmacht Grenadiers and Knights Cross Holders. They’re particularly deadly against the PE’s three-man squads. They are NOT generally the best unit to use for repairing scorched points. But they certainly can, and Darwin takes the risk of doing so with his Sniper. Miraculously he is not butchered where he stands, but completes the repair. It’s interesting to note the Sniper can repair about as fast as a Rifle squad; there’s no disadvantage there to using a Sniper.
You have to wonder whether the guy is taking the game seriously with this kinda stuff; but I guess maybe Darwin figured it was unlikely for Malivos to attack a disabled point, and that if he kept a sharp eye out he’d be alright.
In any case, I’ll stop my second-guessing. I suppose I’d just feel really naked to have a 340 manpower unit sitting all by his lonesome doing repairs, which would cause him to take extra damage in the event of an attack.
But hardly is this point repaired than does Malivos’ Schimmwagen decap and scorch Darwin’s +10 fuel point. Each player has two jugular points on this map: the SP by their respective bridges, and their +10 fuels. Striking and holding either one can induce a fatal hemmorrhage. It’s at this juncture that Darwin begins bitching about PE “abuse.” I don’t wish to unduly inject my opinion, but the game is the game. You can’t expect players not to abuse broken game elements. It’s Relic’s fault, not your opponent’s. So Darwin needs to sit the fuck down, have a Coke and smile — aka DEAL WITH IT. Fortunately he manages to do the latter without breaking stride.
He sends his Engy in to begin restoring the point. But Darwin knows this is a stalling move. On Semois, where the fuel control is so even, you can only seriously hope to slow your opponent’s tech slightly by harrassing his fuel, because it’s easy to fight you off and your own fuel point is equally exposed.
Before Darwin can even decide on a next course of action, Malivos sends an Infantry Halftrack with two PGs directly into his base. As has been well-established, U.S. MG tents are vulnerable to small arms fire, unlike Wehrmacht bunkers. They also have a limited field of fire, unlike PE Flakvierlings. Darwin gets an MG back to his base in time to garrison his HQ, which on Semois, has enough line-of-sight to defend the left-most MG tent.
A noobier player might have lost his nerve and simply retreated the Sniper, but Darwin keeps his cool and his Sniper cloaked. He manages to walk his Sniper calmly in unexpected directions, dodging a brutal death again and again. If you thought this guy liked playing his Sniper to the ever-dangerous precipice before, this kind of baiting game takes the cake and then some.
Eventually Malivos realizes that it’s not worth the extra time and concentrates his fire against the nearest MG tent. The Sniper, firing from afar, manages to kill three PGs, though no squads are eliminated. Malivos’ Infantry HT spends minutes inside the American base. Eventually he takes too much damage and suffers engine damage, but he’s accomplished his objective: stalled for time to deploy his first Armored Car.
By now Darwin has his Motorpool up and is building an AT gun. The gun crew pops out just soon enough to vaporize the engine-damaged Infantry HT.
Unfortunately, the crew takes aim at the charging AC, fires — and the shell strikes the hulk of the Infantry HT, which absorbs the damage. The AC flanks gun without a scratch and it’s GGs for three gun-wheeling GIs. If I were Darwin, I’d be saving up my stores of outrage for shit like this. Of course, even if the AT gun had hit the AC, it almost certainly would not have destroyed it. But it may have inflicted engine damage, enough for Engies and other units to finish it off.
Such is the price you pay for randomness in the game. Sometimes it’s on your side, sometimes it’s so against you it hurts. Think of it as a test of your patience and mettle. Only chumps would surrender to fate. Champs would only be encouraged to fight that much harder.
OK, pep talk over. Meanwhile, Darwin drops Paratroopers in the northern area of the map. Yes, I know those yellow arrows pointing downward don’t really do anything. It’s not like you can steer the parachutes, I know this. But what else was I supposed to mark up on that shot? Leave it alone, you say? Not when my mouse hand is going crazy to scribble yellow lines all over everything!
Meanwhile the bad news continues in the American base. Darwin’s second AT gun pops out and is instantly killed. Malivos sacrifices a PG squad to capture one of the AT guns, giving him serious anti-building firepower which he uses to destroy the U.S. Motorpool.
This is not good at all for Darwin. In fact, most observers would say it’s the beginning of the inevitable end for the army of freedom.
More Paratroopers rain from the sky; Darwin’s manpower reserves soar on account of his not being able to build anything in his base.
By now Malivos is basically chilling. He sends his troops to methodically destroy all of Darwin’s base structures. In his base, he starts floating large amounts of manpower, not really doing anything with it. He also researches the Marder upgrade, wholly unnecessary given the lack of any armor coming from Darwin.
But let’s not starting digesting the game just yet. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.
Darwin adapts, nay evolves his strategy. He garrisons the civilian structure overlooking his SP bridge with an MG and starts upgrading it to a Forward HQ. I’d have gone for something a little sturdier, like the massive church right beside this building, but to each his own. This building offers much better MG coverage of the crucial bridge SP and it has no blind spots, unlike the church.
With the Forward HQ up, Darwin starts building Riflemen to supplement his Paratroopers. As it turns out, the two Rifles he winds up training will prove critical in the next few skirmishes.
Up north, Darwin has his first Paratrooper squad harrassing Malivos’ +10 fuel point. The entire squad is slaughtered by MP44 PGs while Darwin wasn’t looking. Given the few units he has, there is just about no excuse for letting that happen.
Moments later, Darwin multiples his misfortune by losing his second Paratrooper squad, this time to hostile fire by the civilian building in the top left of the map, near the hay bales.
It’s a combination of an Armored Car and advancing PGs that does in our brave airborne soldiers.
The MG garrisoning the building is also eliminated by the AC’s fast-firing cannon. It’s three very severe losses for Darwin, who was already on the ropes. If this didn’t put Malivos (or anyone in his position) in a festive mood, I dunno what will.
Actually, I do. His AC randomly runs into Darwin’s famous, Kraut-dodging Sniper and kills him almost as an afterthought. But wait, there’s more! At this point in the game, every single structure in the American base is toast, including the HQ, which reduces Darwin’s manpower income by 50%.
While he’s busy in Darwin’s base, Malivos finally gets careless and lets his second AC run randomly into Darwin’s garrisoned Forward HQ MG and Rifle squads. It gets peaced out with a minimum of fanfare. NOTE: As of patch 2.502, the MG window-switching delay bug is alive and well. Sometimes the MGs switch windows quickly enough so there’s no real impact; other times I have seen the MG basically never switch while enemy squads pour bullets through the opposite windows. Be careful when deploying garrisoned MGs.
OK. Now let’s review where we stand. To the left you see a complete list of all the units at Darwin’s disposal. He’s got an Engy, two Rifles and an MG. He can no longer drop Paratroopers because his HQ is toast. Arrayed against him is the army you see below.
Now obviously the Flakvierling crews do not really count as part of Malivos’ army, but they do show up when you hover the cursor over his army “shield” icon. How can Malivos possibly lose with this? Let’s not forget, he also has access to Sector Artillery and will soon have Hummels. I will add a few caveats that are worth mentioning. Darwin has been far more aggressive with capping (most good U.S. players are, especially vs. a slow-capping PE army). As a result, he has a significant Victory Point (VP) advantage. Malivos actually says at this point “GG,” figuring that there’s no way in hell Darwin can come back from this. The remark isn’t insulting or even unreasonable given the situation, though you could also argue it was premature. Darwin goes ballistic over it. Sigh.
Moving on, Malivos gets a little bold and sends his troops at Darwin’s FHQ stronghold. Unfortunately a direct attack against Riflemen in green cover, who can reinforce from the FHQ, is not smart. Malivos kills a lot of Rifle squaddies, but fails to eliminate any squads and his light vehicles limp away with heavy damage.
Darwin is maximizing every last asset he has and recaptures one of his old 57mm AT guns from his base, recrewing it with Riflemen. This affords his FHQ a nice defensive setup, with an AT gun and MG guarding it.
Meanwhile, he starts repairing his actual HQ building with an Engineer squad. Malivos plays rather conservatively, choosing to recapture territory and reverse his VP bleeding rather than teching up to Panzer IV infantry support tanks or renewing his attacks. He does attack the FHQ a few more times with his PGs and an AC, but the narrow angles of attack, combined with Darwin’s well-placed defenses, result in no real gains.
He slaughters two more entire squads of Rifles, which really shouldn’t have happened. Darwin has some difficulty with multi-tasking. But he’s got a plan, and the plan is simple: get a T17, ASAP. He manages to get his Motorpool up because Malivos focuses his assaults on the FHQ, not on the actual American base. This can be tricky for Malivos; he knows the FHQ is a perfectly attainable target, but he shouldn’t have neglected the real base. A Schwimmwagen could’ve checked on the status of the destroyed HQ.
By the time he realizes his mistake, the T-17 is in production and he desperately focuses all fire on it. Needless to say, he should be 90% of the way to the Panther Battlegroup by now, but it’s a lesson to all of us NOT TO SLACK OFF even when we have the upper hand. Good players come back when given half a chance. OK, I know, it was a tough mistake
And the T-17 bursts forth from the loins of the Motorpool like a rampaging bull and destroys both ACs. My God, is that Phosphorous Round good or what?
Unfortunately Malivos has his captured 57mm AT gun in position and slaps that T-17 awfully good, twice. It gets peaced out and winds up a blackened ruin right on the American HQ’s doorstep. The T-17 is the perfect example of an unbalanced unit. Its single weakness (low health without veterancy) is astoundingly severe; its strengths (AT stun, high rate-of-fire and anti-infantry lethality) are outrageously good. There is absolutely no middle ground with this unit.
After this exchange, Malivos retreats his men to the strip of land just above the American HQ and begins repairing his damage vehicles with his PGs. Right at this time, Darwin gets enough Command Points for the Strafing Run. You know from the title banner of this Battle Report what’s coming next. Deva-fucking-station. Everything dies. Here’s a YouTube clip with some amusing musical accompaniment (partly because I still can’t get YouTube to preserve the audio in the Fraps videos I take).
This is probably far from the worst Strafing Run in COH history, or even in the brief history of patch 2.502. But it’s still pretty friggin’ bad. To the left you see the list of units in the path of the Strafing Run. These units are all lost after the P47 flies into the sunset.
Just to capture what it looked like from ground level, I offer the following carefully captured screens:
Seriously, use that scroll wheel on your mouse (or the good ol’ arrow keys on your keyboard if you don’t gots a scroll-y mouse) and flip through these shots fast. Tell me your eyes don’t start to bleed!
This is just about GGz, in my opinion. Malivos deploys a Marder to counter the inevitable additional T-17s, but it races to far to the front (God, I hate it when my Marders do that). Unsupported, the Marder has a very tragic encounter with a newly dropped Paratrooper squad that just finished getting its Recoilless Rifle package.
The game concludes with two T-17s racing into Malivos’ base and slaughtering every PG in sight.
I should note that this match saw some very nasty exchanges between two good players, which is very disappointing, in my opinion. At a really high skill level, you should know people will abuse shit regularly and you should know how to deal with it. As I reiterated earlier, it’s pretty childish to go nuts when the predictable bullshit hits you in your plump, cherubic cheek.
If you’re any good, you should’ve seen that coming. Getting pissed just makes you look like a whiny bitch. And when I say “you” I don’t necessarily mean Darwin — I’m talking about anybody. At least Darwin won in the end. Anyway, I’m done opinion-nating. Here’s the concluding breakdown.
– Great Sniper maneuvers early on, keeping him alive
– Effective MG placement/use throughout the game
– Great job capping territory and maintaining VP advantage
– Maintained decent resource parity with opponent despite getting points scorched early on
– Great mental stamina, fighting on with a solid plan despite very bad odds
– Extremely well-placed and well-timed Strafing Run
LUCKY SHIT FOR WHICH YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED:
– I don’t care if you have heat-seeking .50 cal bullets, there is no way in God’s name that the Strafing Run should’ve been as devastating as it was
– Lost way too many squads because he wasn’t paying attention; total of four squads (including 2 Paras and 2 Rifles) melted by the enemy for no good reason, with minimal effort from Malivos
– Pretty shitty attitude for a good player to have
– Had an excellent strategy planned, and executed it flawlessly early on
– Pretty good squad survivability, though not perfect
– Very fast with ACs
LUCKY SHIT FOR WHICH YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED:
– You are so friggin’ lucky that 57mm AT shell hit the wreckage in front of your AC rather than the AC itself
– Lost an AC and a Marder due to pure carelessness
– Failed to build Panzer IV infantry support tanks, which would’ve almost guaranteed victory
– Didn’t really use abilities like Booby Traps and Sector Artillery
– Got lazy and floated manpower; too confident of victory
– Ignored VPs for too long, even when he gained map control