Battle Report: CharlesDarwin (US) vs. Malivos (PE)

June 9, 2009
REPLAYCharlesDarwin (Airborne) vs. Malivos (Scorched Earth) RETAIL 2.502

[Click link above to download the actual replay]

Vrrrooooom! *makes sputtering propeller noises* rat-tat-tat-tat!

Vrrrooooom! *makes sputtering propeller noises* rat-tat-tat-tat!

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.

RelicCOH 2009-06-01 00-06-01-65The 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.RelicCOH 2009-06-01 00-06-23-50

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.

RelicCOH 2009-05-25 13-56-23-82Snipers 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.

RelicCOH 2009-06-01 00-07-26-57But 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.

RelicCOH 2009-06-01 00-07-47-77He 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.
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Battle Report: Sepha (Wehr) vs. Hamilton (US)

May 20, 2009
REPLAYSepha (Terror) vs. Hamilton (Infantry) RETAIL 2.502

[Click link above to download the actual replay] 

TANK WARZ!

TANK WARZ!

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.

Decisions, decisions...

Decisions, decisions...

If you garrison the house, your MG can’t hit either the top Victory Point or the nearby Munitions point.

MGs can't cover either point.

MGs can't cover either 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.

relic00008Sepha 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.

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Battle Report: Quacks (US) vs. NiceSirotaSan (PE)

May 4, 2009
REPLAYQuacks (Infantry) vs. NiceSirotaSan (Luftwaffe) RETAIL 2.502

[Click link above to download the actual replay]

It's a regular demo derby!

It's a regular demo derby!

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.

Cruisin' for a bruisin'...

Cruisin' for a bruisin'...

reliccoh-2009-05-02-09-47-59-39Right 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.reliccoh-2009-05-02-09-44-50-58 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. reliccoh-2009-05-02-09-45-12-46When 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:

Cupholders optional with the EX version.

Cupholders optional with the EX version.

thumb_bannerHere’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″ Read the rest of this entry »


Battle Report: SweetLorraine (USA) vs. Zerocrack (Wehr)

April 3, 2009
REPLAYSweetLorraine (Infantry) vs. Zerocrack (Defensive) RETAIL 2.301

[Click link above to download the actual replay]

Somebody wrote "Corkscrew Blow ownz ya" on that shell

Somebody wrote "CorkscrewBlow ownz ya" on that shell. True story.

I know 2.400 is out, but as I said, there was too much done on this Battle Report to not finish it. In this edition, Rifles Ready! continues its series of Battle Reports focused on players who display fearless ingenuity in the face of proven, tenacious strategies. Case in point: this matchup between SweetLorraine (better known to sports fans as Kodachrome) and Zerocrack. It should be noted that Sweet and Zero are typically Wehrmacht and American players, respectively. At least, that’s what they played during their rise to fame back in the day, when I myself was grinding relentlessly up the 1v1 ladder.

These are proven, tenacious players, tough kids who’ve been in the COH world a long time. These seasoned veterans meet on the familiar killing fields of Angoville (and yes — I will do a different map next time, thanks to popular demand). It’s a standard tier 2/tier 4  strategy for Zero, while Sweet decides to fight a defensive army with a little defensive action of his own. There’s a veritable war of barbed-wire placing, plus a constant series of tank attacks and slowly escalating artillery barrages.

This is one unique game, sports fans. Let’s get right to it. The game is off to a rather unimpressive start, with very few direct skirmishes and the initial Volks/Rifles avoiding each other in favor of rapidly capping the left and right side of map respectively. The first real move comes when Zero puts up a Bunker on the left side of the map. It’s extremely well-positioned.

Bunker placement.

Bunker placement.

Zero has the option of creating an unflankable position by upgrading the bunker with an MG, then adding a garrisoned MG42 team. He ultimately goes for the standard Medic Bunker, but it’s a reminder of how solidly you can protect a position if you need to. Meanwhile, Sweet sends a Rifle squad into Zero’s base, neatly running right past the MG bunker, which gets off a burst but fails to suppressive the squad.

A chance for trickery.

A chance for trickery.

reliccoh-2009-03-28-13-47-15-99

Out of dodge.

The real question is why does he do this? Maybe he wanted to see if Zero was planning a fast-tech to tier 3 for Pumas, but it’s too early in the game for this. The Rifles engage a Volk squad in front of Reich HQ but it’s a total stalemate; they end up retreating quickly. I don’t have much an answer for why Sweet did this; presumably it was to scout, and eliminate the slim possibility that Zero was going for fast Pumas. But it’s so early in the game that even if Zero was going for fast Pumas, it’s unlikely he would be building a Sturm Armory. In any case, ruling out fast Pumas is probably the best explanation, because Sweet proceeds to OP his +16 fuel soon after his men get out of dodge.

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Battle Report: Riflemaster2000 (USA) vs. TheNoobSchoolBus (PE)

March 23, 2009

REPLAYRiflemaster2000 (Airborne) vs. TheNoobSchoolBus (Tank Hunters) RETAIL 2.301

[Click link above to download the actual replay]

Packing heat.

Packing heat.

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.

relic000021The 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.

relic00004A 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.

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Basic Tip: Base-rush on Lorraine

January 2, 2009

paras_by_doorI know some map changes await when version 2.507 of the balance beta, but I’m about 95% sure no changes will be made to Lorraine, one of my favorite 2v2 maps. This little tactic may be considered lame by some, but in my view it’s fair game. Note that this base rush can work against every player’s HQ sector, though the one pictured seems most convenient. This tactic is a base rush, executable once you have AT infantry like Paratroopers, Stormtroopers, Rangers or any mans packing Panzershrecks. Flamers work as well, though the short range makes AT weaponry preferable. Basically, you place infantry with AT weapons in the civilian building overlooking the MG structure of the player in the lower right of the map.

Surprise, kids!

Surprise, kids!

From here, you can rapidly destroy the MG closest to you — and the extra sight range afforded by garrisoning also allows you to fire on other buildings as well. What’s almost unfair about this particular position is that infantry can approach it from outside the range of the base defenses; in fact it’s very easy not to notice that this is being done to you, if you’re the hapless victim.

Cleaning house.

Cleaning house.

In my example, the Paratroopers can actually attack the second MG bunker from their position in the house, just astounding given the long range. I am not sure if garrisoned infantry receive a range bonus (weapon range, not sight range), but this is incredibly effective, as you can see. From here you just exit the building and sweep effortlessly into the base. Only a Defensive-doctrine Wehrmacht player has any change of stopping this, but given how fast buildings die to Satchel Charges, Panzershrecks and Recoilless Rifles, even they will be forced to retreat.

Normally there would be a just-retreated army to fight, but it was already GG this game.

Normally there would be a just-retreated army to fight, but it was already GG this game.

In the YouTube video below, it was almost GG anyway because my partner had captured an enemy Flak 88 and it’s firing on my opponent’s base already, using my sight radius to spot. Now, if the game is evenly matched, you will have to deal with your enemies’ armies (which they will retreat to fend you off), a great way to counter is using the Strafing Run. Any off-map direct-damage ability will do, 105mm Artillery, Firestorm, etc. and the effect is vicious.

Potential counters: Defensive doctrine Wehrmacht, with defensive base MGs and Registered Artillery and For the Fatherland. On the Panzer Elite side, Sector Artillery will likely make a terrific mess of things as well.


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

December 24, 2008

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.

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