Thursday, June 18, 2009

Getting the medal: Company of Heroes St. Fromond

Each mission in Company of Heroes gives a unique medal for achieving certain bonus objectives. In the St. Fromond mission playing through in the obvious way pretty much guarantees you won't get the medal so here for what it is worth is the strategy I used last night to clear all objectives in the mission and get the medal. (My play through was on hard mode).


SPOILERS AHEAD naturally enough.

A brief description of the mission and objectives:
You start at the Southern end of the map and are tasked with repairing the only bridge leading to St. Fromond and then with taking the adjacent moderately defended town centre. Once you have captured the point in the town square you trigger the main objective of the mission which is to defend the town square for 30 minutes. You get a brief period to set up defences and then must hold off against wave upon wave of German attackers including tanks, armoured vehicles and heavy infantry. To add to your woes three Nebelwerfer batteries start bombarding the square with rockets triggering an optional secondary objective to take out these three batteries which are deep behind enemy lines. Shortly afterwards (while you are fighting for your life around the town square) it is revealed that a German headquarters in the far North of the map is co-ordinating these attacks and you are tasked with destroying the headquarters in order to win the medal.

The problem with playing through the obvious way:
If you follow the game directions (repair bridge, take town centre, defend town centre etc) you will find that the town has a myriad of entrances and you do not have time to prepare your defence properly before the assault begins. It will take everything you have got to defend the town centre in a deperate firefight. Forget about winning the medal because the headqaurters in the North is heavily fortified and would require most of your troops to attack it leaving the town square inadequately defended.

The approach which worked:
Using a cloaked sniper as spotter you are able to clear out the German bridge defences (including a couple of nasty flak guns) with mortar fire. Once these are gone you are free to capture the nearby munitions resource point and can then wait in complete safety (protected by the damaged bridge) while amassing an army.

Once you have sufficient strength (or you get bored) you can repair the bridge and begin the assault on the town. I recommend leaving a couple of machine gun nests and an antitank gun guarding your base against any stray German that try to wander in. Mining the approach road also a good idea.

There is no heavy armour defending the town so as long as you have a couple of tanks with supporting infantry taking the square is not really a problem. The most important step in the whole game is "DO NOT CAPTURE THE POINT IN THE TOWN CENTRE YET". Capturing this point will trigger the 30 minute timer and wave after wave of attackers. If you don't capture this point you can take time to establish defences only having to deal with a few sporadic infantry or light armoured vehicles.

Its a good idea to capture some resource points (especially munitions) around the town. You won't get the benefit of them yet because they won't be connected to your base until you capture the town centre but eventually you will need these resources. Don't allow any of your troops to stray too far North though as this will automatically trigger the next stage of the game.

Now use engineers to ring the town and bridge with tank traps except for an exit to the East from where we will launch our assault. The key is to prevent ANY German armour getting in to the Town square so that we can defend it with a light infantry force. The computer AI is very diligent at searching out gaps in defences so test it with your own vehicles to ensure there are no leaks.

Once the ring of tank traps is built you can then split your troops into an assault force who will take the German headquarters and a defending group who will remain to protect the square. I left only a machine gun squad, a sniper and an anti tank gun in the town square to repel any infantry who would try to retake the point.

My assault squad consisted of three Shermans, three squads of engineers, one squad of Airborne and an APC which allowed me to re-enforce infantry troops in the field.

Once I was ready I led my assault forces on a North East path towards the German Headquarters clearing any resistance they found. Once I got close enough to the headquarters the 30 minute timer triggered automatically and the town centre magically turned to my side.

Spearheaded by the Shermans the assault force headed into the German Headquarters and started levelling everything in sight. Defences included anti tank guns, flak guns panzers and numerous panzerschrek wielding infantry so a lot of micromanagement was required. I used the paratroopers to take out anti tank guns and engineers to repair the vehicles. I had to replace any lost engineers quickly from the APC. The engineers also helped level the buildings with demolition charges.


Back at the town centre my meagre defence force fought a heroic battle to prevent recapture. Once ownership of the point changed to my side I had quickly converted one of the buildings into a field base so I could re-enforce from it but it was eventually levelled (withthe loss of my sniper and machine gun squad). The lone anti-tank gun firing from a a corner actually survived and did a terrific job of deterring anyone who tried to recapture the point while I dropped in a couple paratrooper squads to bolster the defences.

The three Nebelwerfers are an optional objective but recommended it because their rockets really chew up your town defences. You don't really have any spare troops to take them out so you could use the calliopes rockets to hit them from a distance. I actually forgot about the calliopes and left it sitting in my base the whole game. Instead I used command points to purchase the aerial strafing ability. One well aimed strafe run takes out a nebelwerfer. It's a bit expensive in munitions though because an aerial reconnaissance run is required first to light up the territory before you can strafe.

Level the headquarters, wait out the 30 minute timer, Mission completed, medal earned.

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