At night, in the rain, where two map corners meet…
Theater of War Mission Pack: The Southern Fronts
Mission: Heavy Rain
Difficulty Level: General
Commander: Any will do, and I find mortar halftracks useful, but remember that you generally can’t use call-in artillery or CAS inside the Russian base, which is the only place you’ll really need it. Also, don’t commit to a commander until you know you are about to use a specific ability.
This is the same map used for the Panzer Crossing mission—now turned upside down, and played in the dark and in the rain. Unsurprisingly, the map that is the hardest for Russia gets even harder now that you’re playing as Germany.
This one is hard in the sense that you have to “thread the needle” by doing a bunch of things properly and with the right timing, and with some luck in regard to the Russian response. If all that works out, it will seem otherwise easy—in fact, if you look at the stats afterwards, you’ll see that your force will seem to have done relatively little in terms of killing the enemy.
You’ll also win quickly this way. The alternative, I think, is to lose, or win but take forever doing so. There is at least one old playthrough on the web that takes close to two hours to finish—that style is not for me, even if it still works, which I doubt.
The object of this mission is to destroy the Russian base, i.e., the 6-8 base buildings covering two different Russian forces. Here’s how you can do it, much of the time:
- You start with a pio squad, two snipers, and a panzerwerfer. Send the pios to the lower fuel point to take it and make a bunker-HMG protecting it. Send one sniper to the territory point between that fuel point and your base. Send the other sniper to take the three points (two are muni points) just to the left of the canal, up to the Russian Pak-43. It should de-crew (nice euphemism) the Pak-43, but then leave the scene and let the CPU ally deal with the two IS-2s that are loose.
- The pios should make at least four fuel caches on territory points—the ones furthest to the left on the map (the others will fall soon to the Russians). One sniper should stand mid-map to protect the taken points from random Russian infantry; the other should help the CPU ally take the fuel point at the top. The latter sniper will need a lot of micro to hold that fuel point. The Russians are so ridiculously overpowered here that their engineers will wound/kill the sniper from medium/long range, and their penals will effortlessly kill the sniper even from the sniper’s own night-time max range.
- You should have been upgrading to battle phases 1 and 2 from about 4-5 minutes into the mission. When the phase 2 ability is almost complete, retreat the pios to base and build the tech building for StuGs. Bring in three StuGs and put them, with the panzerwerfer, near the left edge of the map, a little below the upper fuel point. (By this time Russian armor and infantry will have virtually annihilated your CPU ally and will be taking points and threatening your approach route.) Bring in a 4th StuG, and when that 4th StuG is driving to join the others—this should be ~13 minutes into the mission—the first three can go to the top of the map, cross the little canal to the top of the Russian base, kill the bunkers guarding that end of the base, and then head down to approach the first set of base buildings. The panzerwerfer (which up till now shouldn’t have fired much if at all) should follow but not too closely. The fourth tank, accompanied by the pios (with flamethrowers) and anything else you now have the pop points to add, should catch up as well as it can—it may be damaged by Russian AT or tank fire on the way.
- Don’t spend pop points on anything other than the right fuel point bunker-HMG before you get the four StuGs; you can’t afford delays in getting those StuGs.
- The four StuGs should start pounding away on the Russian base buildings, dealing with other threats as they arise (with help from the pios et al if they survive the journey). The Russians may start bringing in AT guns or tanks. On one of the last times I played there was a damaged KV-1 in the base, which my StuGs destroyed with one volley. The first base buildings to destroy are always the tank buildings. Use the panzerwerfer against base buildings or pesky AT units (especially Zis guns or PTRS infantry) at medium/close range (concentrated fire), but don’t expect to get off more than one or two salvoes before this frail vehicle is terminated by whatever Russian units can reach it.
- Once you’ve brought in the fourth StuG, the Russians will be running all over the map and rapidly shutting off your fuel flow, so you are unlikely to be able to get a fifth. You shouldn’t need a fifth, though; indeed you should be able to kill the base buildings within a few minutes of entering the base, long before the Russian swarm starts to attack your own base. The usual mission time at victory is 16-18 minutes (the image above shows the moment of victory, on one of the last times I played this).
- If you play from the upper base instead of the default lower base, you can win with essentially the same strategy; the only difference is that one of your snipers should focus initially on capping points up the left side of the map.
[updated 1 Dec 2020]