Elsenborn Ridge

COMPANY OF HEROES 2—ARDENNES ASSAULT—HOLD THE LINE (ELSENBORN RIDGE)

 

If Dog. Co. is one of your active companies on the campaign, you’ll be forced to play this mission with them. If not, you’ll play with Rangers.

To win this mission, you must keep the Germans from capping either of your VPs. To win gold, you win without resorting to the mission-special call-in artillery—which is easy, since you have company artillery as well as an artillery call-in from your major (officer) unit if you bring one.

There are many different ways of approaching this mission. The easiest to describe is as follows:

From the start and over the first several minutes, bring in (in this order, and without delay) the lieutenant squad, two RE squads, three HMGs, three AT guns, and the ambulance.

Immediately use your RE squads, and assault engineer squad (Dog Co.) if you have one, to lay tank traps (TTs) across all the open ground at the front of the position, i.e., all the ground, between the impassable permanent trenches/emplacements, that enemy vehicles could use to enter your VPs. Lay wire inside the TTs to block German infantry. Focus on these tasks as you cannot afford to delay them.

Once the main defense line is covered with TTs and wire, lay TTs and wire across the mouth of the western approach road. Alternatively you can leave that west road open and send an expedition up to take the point at the top of that road, to gain reinforcements from another company. From there, you can obtain an experience bonus by completing a side-mission such as gathering intel items, rescuing a trapped US squad, or destroying a crippled German tank. However, note that the Germans often route a substantial part of their attacking force, including heavy armor, down that western road if it is open, and you will find that when Panzer IVs or Brummbars jump out at you from those woods, you simply cannot destroy them before they cause significant casualties/damage to you. Also, you would have to defeat about half a dozen German squads, including panzerfusiliers with AT-grenades, to get to the first point, and many more squads to achieve the side mission. This is the only mission in the campaign for which I think it is usually best to skip the side missions.

 

Elsenborn Ridge
Right-side TTs and wire
Elsenborn-western approach
Covering the western approach road

Upgrade your two central firing positions (FPs) with HMGs before the German attack starts, and man them with RE squads (they throw grenades). Upgrade and man your other starting FPs when you can.

Keep your starting rifleman squads, and lieutenant squad, at the back of the front fortifications, in cover, near the center of the line.

Position your starting HMG against sandbags at the front-left fortification to cover the mid left to far left side of your line.

Position your next HMG to cover the western approach road, behind what should soon be a line of TTs and wire (see image above). The next two HMGs should cover the far left and right of your line, supplementing the FPs at those positions. The last HMG should cover the middle of your position, but from far back, on the road just forward of the rear fortification—roughly at the line of the backs of the VPs.

Similarly, place your AT guns at the front of the rear fortifications where they can together cover the west approach road and the main defense line. Switch them to ignore infantry. Note that in this early phase of the mission, any German vehicles that turn up should be held off by your TTs.

There is a timer on the UI showing the minutes till friendly CAS aircraft arrive and the mission ends. When the timer gets to 15 minutes, pull all your units at the front fortifications back to join those at the more rearward positions, to form a shorter line/arc of defense. This includes RE squads manning the far left and far right FPs. German armor will appear after the countdown hits 14 minutes, and at this stage of the mission you want to minimize their targets and minimize the damage to your TTs and wire.

Once you have ordered in the ambulance, start to build FPs around your new defense line to supplement your ordinary HMGs. Also bring in one or two more HMGs. It should be clear, by 8 or 9 minutes on the countdown, where the German attacks are concentrating (usually far left, far right, or up the middle), and as the Germans commit to a main route of attack you should start concentrating your HMGs, FP-HMGs, and AT guns to cover that route. You want a lot of anti-infantry power to keep German elite infantry from LMG-ing and grenading your MG/AT crews from medium range, as they will do. (It is ridiculous how immune they are to HMG fire.) You also need to destroy vehicles quickly if they break through your TT line.

After the 12-minute mark watch out for Sturmtigers and Brummbars. They will blast any of your initial FPs that remain, but because you have moved your line way back, they shouldn’t have any other good targets, and they shouldn’t be able to get through your TTs. When these beasts show, train your AT guns on them from range to kill them as quickly as you can. If you’re using Dog Co. you also have relatively cheap anti-vehicle artillery.

Once the Germans have started to concentrate their attack on one spot, and you have five or six HMGs/FP-HMGs plus your AT guns covering that spot, bring in several mortar teams or a Sherman (firing HE) to add anti-infantry power. You will have to bring in a captain or a major for these, but you can always dismiss them to free up pop cap—although the captain with his bazooka can be useful towards the end, when German armored vehicles start to make massed assaults.

At this point, you just need to do a reasonable amount of micro to kill the German infantry and vehicles as they swarm at you in the last few minutes. The combination of half a dozen MGs, a constant rain of mortar rounds, plus three vetted AT guns, all firing from safe positions and concentrated on a narrow attack zone, should make short work of anything the Germans throw at you.

Elsenborn-finish
Nearing the end

Other things to bear in mind:

  • Use your company artillery sparingly, but consider using it, late in the mission, on a concentrated group of pinned German infantry—that might save you a lot of trouble and casualties. Note that artillery will damage your TTs, so it is best to use it later in the mission when you have sufficient vetted AT power to handle any vehicles that get through the TTs.
  • Try to keep an RE squad handy to repair damaged FPs, but don’t make much of an effort to repair any of your four starting FPs, as they are all basically doomed.
  • Dog Co’s assault engineers are too fragile for fighting. Dismiss them as soon as they are done laying wire and building FPs.
  • Mortars are sometimes bugged and won’t fire, or won’t reset after a fire mission.
  • Always be alert to the presence of tanks or scout cars—they can quickly destroy your FPs and will do so if you do not get AT guns firing on them immediately.
  • Your Lt. squad and RE squads should try to capture any abandoned German LMG they can safely reach, especially early in the game.
  • Keep your ambulance in a place where it can immediately heal/reinforce important gun crews.
  • If you bring in a major and keep him, put him in a place where he can serve as a rallying point for retreating units and can also call in artillery strikes if necessary (though these are fairly weak).
  • The AI will often blind your AT gun crews so they can’t auto-fire at German targets. In these cases, you can use the attack-ground command to force your units to fire. Be careful doing this as your AT guns, when firing this way, may hit and damage your own FPs.
  • The strategy outlined here is for minimizing casualties, which can be catastrophic if you don’t know what you’re doing on this mission. You should finish with no more than a few casualties and 40-60 XP—implying hundreds of German KIAs.

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