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 also 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:

Units to bring in (in this order): Lieutenant, two RE squads, two HMGs, four AT guns, ambulance, Captain, two mortar teams—then more AT guns and mortar teams as desired.

Use your RE squads and starting Assault Engineer squad to lay tank traps (TTs) and wire across any possible vehicle/infantry approach path from the front and (once the front is done) from the W approach road. Include some TTs to interrupt vehicles trying to move on the road across the front of your forward fortifications.

Remember not to lay wire in such a way that your wire-laying squads end up trapped on the wrong side of it—those trapped squads will likely be doomed.

Once TT and wire is laid, use your support squads to man firing positions (FP), from which they will throw grenades. The two most important FPs initially are at the center of the front line. The REs and assault engineer also should build one new FP 10-20 meters behind those first two to cover the central approach, plus an FP to cover the W approach road (from oblique angle so German vehicles can’t hit it from far up the path).

Upgrade FPs with HMGs starting with the two in the center of the main defense line.

HMGs initially cover the parts of the front line that are not well covered by upgraded FPs. You will also need to use the first or second HMG you bring in to cover the W approach road until an FP is built and upgraded there.

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

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

Place your AT guns between the front and rear fortifications where they can cover 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 and can be killed by ordinary rifle fire.

There is a timer on the UI showing the minutes till friendly CAS aircraft arrive and the mission ends. When the timer gets to 14:00 and the Germans drop smoke on the main road, pull your units in the front-center fortifications back, and set up a new defense line about 15 meters behind the front one (5-10m in front of the rear fortifications). The RE squads in the FPs at far left and right can stay until later and evacuate when their FPs are about to be destroyed. German 251/scout-car/armor attacks will start shortly after the smokescreen is laid.

As the mission advances, adjust your HMGs as needed to cover the line. Build more FP-HMGs when your initial side FPs are about to be destroyed. As the Germans commit to a main route of attack, usually up the center, you should start concentrating your mobile 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, as they will eventually.

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 until late in the mission. 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. Note that the German AI will often send one Brummbar to one side to draw your fire, then hit you on the other side with another Brummbar or a Panzer IV.

The Captain when he comes in can stay on the front line to help deal with armor threats including breakthroughs. The two mortar teams should be positioned near the center in the second line of fortifications, where they can blast pinned German infantry.

At this point, you will 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 multiple MGs, a constant rain of mortar rounds, plus multiple 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.

Note that 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, 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.

Other things to bear in mind:

  • Use your company artillery sparingly, but consider using it, late in the mission, on a concentrated and pinned group of elite 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 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. Also dismiss the rifleman squads as soon as you can spare them.
  • Mortars are sometimes bugged and won’t fire, or won’t reset after a fire mission. Try moving them to clearer ground if that occurs.
  • 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, as those weapons are very effective and will help your company rack up experience points. When German infantry are pinned, your units can run right up and grab abandoned LMGs without harm.
  • Keep your ambulance in a central but safe location where it can immediately heal/reinforce important gun crews.
  • If you bring in a major, 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 50-70 XP—implying hundreds of German KIAs.
  • You may be tempted to bring in lots of RE squads and lay TT on the edge of the forest in front, all the way along the main road. If you do, your RE squads won’t finish before the German assault starts; worse, the AI, during one of its intervals of smoke-laying, will cheat and magically push tanks through your TT barrier. The more modest TT barrier I suggest above is safer for RE squads and usually doesn’t induce AI cheating.
nearing the end

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