The devs saved the hardest Russian ToW mission for almost-last.
Theater of War Mission Pack: The Southern Fronts
Mission: Panzer Crossing
Difficulty Level: General
Commander: Those that give access to Guards Rifle squads, partisans with schrecks, 120mm-mortars, and IL-2 AT-CAS, are all potentially useful. Never use a commander with KV-1 call-in (broken), unless you don’t plan to use KV-1s.
On General this mission can be intense, and it may not be winnable every time. You will rely very much on your CPU-ally, so if he turns in a poor performance, your very long left flank will collapse and it’ll be game over.
What you hope to do on this mission, starting from the default right-side base, is hold the right VP from the start, begin intermittently holding the middle VP a little later, hope your CPU-ally can establish control over the left VP, and then hang on for dear life. The Germans typically will start hitting both of those VPs with Panzer IVs and/or StuGs around 8 minutes into the mission, with more Panzer/StuGs at around 14 minutes, plus Panthers and Brummbars, and I think sometimes a Tiger. If German armor doesn’t show up until significantly later than 8 minutes, you could have a much easier mission.
You start by sending your given 120mm mortar team to the lower right fuel point, calling in a conscript squad to cap the middle VP (and stay in the building next to it until killed), and using your given engineers to tech for HMGs. Bring in three HMGs without delay. When the engineers are done with the HMG building they should go and cap the right VP, while upgrading with flamethrowers. When the mortar team has capped the fuel point it can sit near the right VP, to the left side and a bit above the building that is to the left of that VP—from there it should be able to hit targets in both middle and right VPs. The engineers can go into the just-mentioned building. The three HMGs you should place in that building and above and below it, to guard against attacks on the right VP from the right and upper right. Bring in two Zis guns to cover the right VP. Bring in two HMGs to cover the middle VP, a Zis gun to cover the middle VP, another Zis gun for the right VP, and an HMG to cover German attack routes between middle and right VPs. Don’t delay any of this. Also don’t forget your Pak-43, which can quickly kill German vehicles that run south of the middle VP.
For the middle VP you may have to fall back or hang back if there is an early appearance of German armor.
Once you have 6 HMGs and 4 Zis guns out, tech for M5s (or use a call-in ability for that if you have one) and bring one in for reinforcing. Then bring in a Guards Rifle unit or another mortar unit. The GR units when upgraded with LMGs have a “button vehicle” ability that, while a bit of a cheat, is highly useful on a map like this, because it semi-freezes a targeted tank, allowing any other friendly AT guns or armor in the vicinity to have an easy shot at it.
Keep fighting units near your Pak-43 so German panzergrens can’t steal up and blast the Pak-43 crew with a grenade. If you need more AT or anti-infantry power closer to the middle VP you can scuttle the Pak-43 to free up pop points.
At this point you’ll be at or near pop cap so you just have to micro like hell to deal with German tank, infantry, and artillery attacks, and hope that your CPU ally doesn’t collapse. You can use your engineer or guards rifle (or conscript, penal, or shock troop) squads to cap the middle VP whenever you lose it temporarily, which you will.
- There are opportunities for capturing German tanks and Pak-40s, though the tanks can put you against the pop-cap ceiling.
- One “odd” thing about this map is that your Pak-43 is situated precisely so that it can not cover the middle or the right VP.
- Playing from the left-side base is not fun, and probably unwinnable. You can exert good initial map control on your side with HMGs, all the way up to the top of the central canal/ditch, but somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes into the match, your CPU-ally will start to collapse, leaving you not only down 2-1 on VPs, but also exposed along a wide front to both German armies, their ample armor, their mortar halftracks, and all their fancy abilities/cheats (such as blinding your AT guns with smoke bombs).
[updated 3 Dec 2020]