The stage was set over lunch two days ago. The plan was for me to meet Joe and Marc in Ventrilo once my daughter was in bed and asleep. We would then proceed to slaughter each other over a virtual World War II battle field in Company of Heroes. Because Marc is the RTS game expert, he would be paired with a computer player set on easy difficulty, while Joe and I would form a heroic alliance of heroes tasked with destroying the evil-doers. I couldn’t wait. The rest of the day was spent engaging in psychological warfare, bombarding Marc with propaganda, reminding him that neither Joe or I were any good at RTS games, we were new to CoH, Joe didn’t know how to do anything, that sort of stuff. Which was all true of course, but we may have played it up a little bit; Joe and I have a tendency to exaggerate at times.
With my daughter in bed, I hurried downstairs to my computer room like a kid on Christmas morning. Upon logging on to Ventrilo I discovered that Marc and Joe were already playing a 1 vs 1 game, and it didn’t sound as though things were going well for my alliance partner. It took just a few more minutes for them to finish their game, and sure enough, Joe was “slaughtered”. Marc was living up to his reputation as RTS King, or perhaps Joe was just living up to his reputation as all-around failure. Most likely it was a mixture of both. Regardless, with their game done, we quickly got to setting up our epic battle, choosing the Lyon map because it had a nice mixture of open and urban spaces, with a river running right down the middle. It was apparent right at the start that control of the four bridges would be key, at least that’s what every war movie I have ever seen told me.
Playing as the Americans, I started out in the very top of the map with Joe to my left. As soon as I got my bearings I started spitting out some engineers and sent a few of them to capture some resource points. Beyond that, I struggled to figure out what to do next. I had been playing as the Wehrmacht in my skirmishes leading up to this game, and the mechanics behind their play is slightly different. It was two minutes into the game and I already felt like I was behind everyone else, but I soldiered on. A squad of engineers that I had sent out soon discovered enemy territory to the right of the map, just across the northern bridge. There were two undefended enemy resource points in the area which I set my engineers to capturing. They came under fire from some German infantry (it wasn’t until after the game that I found out it was Marc as opposed to the computer) before they could capture the first point and were wiped out soon thereafter. The first shots of battle had been fired, and the war had begun.
The north bridge became my primary objective, and I started pumping out units to reinforce my front line. While that last sentence sounds impressively war-like, and “Great General-ish”, in reality I was panicking and saying in my head, “oh no! I lost the bridge, they’re going to be coming any second, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die,” as I frantically clicked on my build buttons to get some units out in the field. A steady stream of my infantry, along with some heavy machine guns took position on my side of the bridge. I was soon joined by several of Joe’s units as well. For what seemed like an eternity, we battled over control of the bridge. Marc would send some units over it only to have them blown apart by the mines I had set, or gunned down by the heavy machine guns fortified in the nearby house. Any American attempts of crossing the bridge met with a similar response from Marc. I continued to fortify my side of the bridge, placing sandbags, more mines, and even a machine gun bunker. I soon assembled a raid force consisting of three tanks, some infantry, two mortar squads, and two anti-tank guns and began to shell Marc’s side of the bridge with mortar fire and ordered my tanks to cross the bridge. Hidden in the fog of war however, Marc unleashed a Nebelwerfer (rocket artillery) which rained fiery destruction upon the bridge. While two of my tanks managed to make it across the bridge, the third was destroyed right in the middle. The ensuing explosion took out the bridge entirely, as can be seen in the picture. With the bridge wiped out, my two tanks were left to fend for themselves in enemy territory while I brought some engineers up to rebuild the bridge.
While I fought it out with Marc in the north, Joe was having great success in the south. Joe’s offensive push down below shifted the German attention away from my forces in the north and I was quickly able to assemble another raid force and bring them across the newly rebuilt north bridge. Marc’s army was the first to fall, after Joe’s tanks reduced his HQ to rubble. After that, it was only a matter of time for the combined might of the American army to eliminate the computer. We all had a blast and decided to play another quick game.
Joe’s efforts in the first game proved his duplicitous nature, and as a result, he was paired with the computer, this time on normal difficulty, for the second match. We chose a different map, I can’t remember which one, but it was much more open. Marc and I, playing as the Americans had great starting locations unlike Joe and the computer who were stuck practically on top of each other. This second game went relatively quickly. I made enemy contact within a couple minutes and the fighting was fairly constant from that point on. Despite multiple pushes, I was consistently repelled by the combined forces of Joe and the computer. During one of my pushes, which once again was being repelled, I sent a message to Marc indicating I was having some difficulties on the left side of the map. His response was a simple, “I’m coming,” backed up by several tanks, mortars, and plenty of infantry. We now had both the computer and Joe pinned into one corner of the map where we blasted their forces and buildings. The picture shows Marc’s army, backed up by one of my mortar squads, beginning the final assault on Joe’s base. I think it’s fair to say that Joe put up a good fight given the disadvantage the map gave him.
So now it looks like our next game will pair me up with the computer, unless we can convince one other person to get the game and participate. Whatever the case, I’m looking forward to it, because this game is nothing but fun.