Gr. 34 8cm Mortar Team
|Role||Mobile artillery support|
|Men per Squad||3|
|Upkeep per Minute||
-1.344 (per man)|
-4.032 (full squad)
|Produced By||Krieg Barracks|
|Cost to Reinforce||
|Health per Man||55|
1x GR 34 81mm Mortar|
1x MP40 Sub-Machine Gun
|Max. Speed||3 m/s|
The Gr. 34 8cm Mortar Team is a light Artillery piece fielded by the Wehrmacht. It is classified as a Support Weapon and available in the Krieg Barracks.
In the leadup to the First World War, Germany was among the first of the European nations to identify the strengths of the Mortar. However, Germany's Minenwerfer series of Mortars were predominantly heavier siege weapons made to target bunkers, a role which they performed to a great degree of success.
However, Germany's lighter mortars, the bulky 7.58 cm Minenwerfer and 9.15cm Lanz, were not particularly successful. The former was moved from Pioneer battalions, where it had been used as a siege weapon, to the Infantry to keep up with advances. However, the slow and heavy cart made it ill-suited for that role compared to the Stokes mortar. The Lanz only found any success defending, as its short range and long setup time made it completely unacceptable on the offense.
In 1922, as part of Germany's covert rearmament scheme, the Weimar Republic commissioned a new light Mortar for Infantry support purposes. After years of delay and difficulty in recreating the Stokes, the French introduced the Brandt Mle 27, which, as an evolution of the British design, was the next to be studied.
Ultimately, after the Brandt mortar's 1931 update, the GrW project shifted to being a copy, and was eventually completed and put into service in 1934. The main distinction between the two mortars was a better sighting and rangefinding system in the Gr. 34, which, despite its lesser effective range and rate of fire, gave it a good deal of precision.
At the start of World War II, German Mortar crews utilizing the weapon quickly mastered the design, and were able to effectively use the better sighting and rangefinding to great success. In addition, the need to follow mobile warfare and respond quickly naturally trained them in the field of quick loading and firing. Though Allied designs were technically superior, German crew training gave the weapon an illusion of superiority.
Just as in real life, the Gr. 34 in Company of Heroes is by no accounts an outstanding mortar, but is fielded by a well-trained crew that can make long-range shots accurately. The better trained the crew is, the more effective the weapon will be, making the Mortar a strong Support weapon that grows in power over the course of the game.
The Gr. 34 is a light mortar of conventional design, being a light pack (meaning carried by the crew) artillery piece that fires high-explosive shells in a parabola. It is carried by a team of 3 men, consisting of a gunner, loader, and a commanding officer armed with an MP40, though all crew members are able to fill any role equally efficiently.
The weapon is available in the Krieg Barracks, with a construction time of 30 seconds, which is faster than its U.S. Army counterpart. While its manpower cost of 270 is the same, its upkeep is nearly halved at base, at 4.032 compared to the American mortar team's 7.2 (reduced to 3.6 with the Supply Yard, however). It can also be produced from a Forward Headquarters for the same price and time.
The long-range, relatively accurate fire of the mortar makes it a good indirect fire weapon in both offensive and defensive scenarios, able to do high damage to any non-armored target. However, because the shells have such a long travel time, they can only reliably hit static or nearly static targets. Given the nature of the game, however, there will be no shortage of static enemies in cover, trying to capture sectors, garrisoning buildings or emplacements, and so on.
While relatively mobile, the Mortar must be set up to fire and packed up to move, a process that takes a few seconds. The weapon also must be physically turned when firing at targets not in a roughly straight line out from the weapon. This makes positioning the weapon and timing its moves far more crucial.
In terms of damage, the GrW has better range and accuracy (at same distance) compared to the 60mm Mortar, however the American mortar does more damage to Infantry and can pack up quicker after firing. The British 3 inch mortar is very similar- indeed, nearly identical- to the American weapon (with slightly better range), however, aside from the rarely-seen Commando weapon team, Commonwealth forces use emplacements rather than mobile weapon teams.
Like all versions of the weapon, the Wehrmacht mortar is also capable of firing Smoke rounds, to obscure an area. Though accurate compared to its contemporaries, the Gr. 34 is still not a super precise weapon, and Smoke will often be off target, especially if used at the weapon's maximum extent- but assuming the smoke at the very least lands between enemy sightlines and the target you're trying to obscure, it's useful nontheless.
The actual crew of the mortar is not trained or equipped to fight. Only the Spotter has a weapon he can use in direct combat and while the MP40 he wields is more useful than the Luger found on the PaK 38's spotter, it still does no substantial damage whatsoever and is only any sort of deterrent to enemies aside from those that are already nearly out of HP. The 2 men on the mortar itself carry no personal defense weapons- meaning that if their 3rd man goes down they're totally defenseless.
Ultimately, if an enemy closes in on a mortar and no other unit is nearby to protect it, the Mortar should almost always be retreated to safety- keeping in mind that the mortar has to be packed up before, meaning the earlier the retreat, the better.
Note that a single man is not able to operate the Gr. 34. If 2 of the squad members of the weapon are killed, the last member will instantly die.
8 cm Granatwerfer 34
The actual mortar itself is of standard construction, firing small High-Explosive shells in an arc at targets. After a 2.4 second setup (same as breakdown), it fires every 6 to 8 seconds, reduced to 4.5-6 at Veterancy 1, reloading and re-aiming between each shot. The travel time is dependent on range, averaging about 2 seconds.
Accuracy varies wildly, from 25% at the longest range of 85 meters to 75% at the closest, with the minimum range of 15 meters. Shells physically exist between being fired and leaving the map, and will collide with objects above or directly in front of the Mortar team.
The mortar will do 36 damage on hit, or 54 with max veterancy, with bonuses against most buildings, though damage penalties against most armored vehicles. The shells have an area-of-effect radius of 7m, with the incoming damage being halved at maximum damage. The shells have an additional, unique effect: A (nonfatal) shot that directly hits a vehicle will damage its engine.
Like with most explosives, Mortar shells have a high, though short-duration, suppressing effect on enemy Infantry. Even in the rare occasion a mortar shell fails to outright kill a squad member, most Squads will hit the dirt for a few moments after getting hit, especially if multiple members are hit by the shell, though quickly get back up, usually before the next shell even has the chance to land.
Unlike most weapons, the Mortar's characteristics are not effected by cover, for better or worse. Mortars will target Infantry in cover with no loss of efficiency, though it will get no benefit targeting enemies in negative cover or wading through water. The only loss against troops in cover is a negligible amount of suppressive power.
The Gr. 34 does, however, suffer large penalties against enemies in buildings, Bunkers (if captured and turned against the Wehrmacht or against neutral Bunkers in the map) and Slit Trenches. Buildings only offer a small damage reduction, though the damage penalty when firing against Bunkers and Trenches is quite dramatic. Mortars even have poor penetrative abilities on the two buildings, making them unlikely to do damage even on a direct hit.
Mortar targeting is slightly more sophisticated than that of most units. The cone of fire of the weapon is 10 degrees left and right in front of the piece. When not manually targeted, the Mortar will fire at the closest valid target, until they leave the Mortar's maximum range, are concealed by Fog of War or Camouflage, or enter the area below the Mortar's minimum range. However, if the Mortar would have to turn to track its target, it will instead try to switch to a different target in the same cone of fire. If a target is not found, or an attack/barrage is manually ordered, the Mortar will turn to face the target, which takes a half-second to pick up the mortar and more time to turn it and re-align it.
The Mortar will also attack targets that have revealed themselves within the fog of war, like most units, though very rarely will a squad or building be revealed long enough for passive firing to launch more than one or two shells. Using the Attack Ground command or Barrage ability will allow the Mortar to fire into the fog of war, but the standard accuracy penalties artillery pieces suffer for doing so still applies as normal.
The Gr. 34 is particularly adept at hitting buildings and lighter structures. The mortar gains substantial accuracy bonuses when targeting buildings, and the shells are able to damage them on contact (though suffer penalties to doing so, unlike heavier artillery pieces), making it an effective early-game counter to MG emplacements of both the Browning and Vickers variety. More notably, it gets quite dramatic bonuses against the British weapon emplacements, making it a good response against the Bofors, 17 Pounder, or 25 pounder- just watch out for Counter-Battery Fire from Royal Artillery.
Overall, the Mortar's ideal role in a battle is rather straightforward. Its primary strength is in targeting Infantry in cover or buildings, especially those lighter and more susceptible to damage. Enemy Support Weapons in particular are enticing targets, given their setup times. However, the travel time of shells, low damage to vehicles, and restricttive minimum range make it ill-suited for mobile enemies, especially those who can close the distance with the weapon.
Maschinenpistole 40 Sub-Machine Gun
The MP40 carried by the commanding officer is practically identical to those used by the Pioneers. It fires 3 bursts of 14 bullets before a 3-second reload. A successful hit deals 5 points of damage, though against most Infantry units the damage is reduced to just 2.5. Its maximum range is 20 meters, though the weapon is only really effective at 10 meters or less due to its low accuracy. The gun has no suppressive capabilities and is almost useless against any enemy in cover.
Unsurprisingly, the MP40 carried by the extra crewman is not a particularly effective weapon. Though it does benefit from the Gr. 34 team's powerful veterancy bonuses, it will still very rarely be able to defend the weapon in any capacity. At Veterency 3, it may be able to fend off Engineer Squads or British Officers, or perhaps a Sniper that wanders into the range of the weapon, but the Mortar team must be in a very fortunate position against an unprepared enemy to do this before one of the crew members dies.
- Heals each member of the squad by 1.2 HP per second for a minute, for a total of 72 HP.
- Slows the move speed of the squad while active.
- Only available in Friendly territory.
- Costs 30 to activate
- Cooldown: 60 seconds
- Requires researching Escalate to Skirmish Phase from the Reich Headquarters
- Replaced with Field Medical Kit after Escalate to Battle Phase is researched, allowing use in Neutral or Enemy territory.
The standard Medical Kit ability that every Wehrmacht infantry unit has access to, the Mortar Crew should use this ability whenever available if damaged. Having a full-health squad will give it a significant advantage in combat versus an enemy mortar, or ensure it has time to pack up and retreat if fired upon. The effect is particularly notable after the second rank of veterancy, when the upgrade to Elite Infantry allows it to take more fire.
81mm Mortar Bombardment
- Fires shells at a higher rate (one per .7 seconds) for 6 shells.
- Prevents the Mortar from targeting or firing at anything else during the duration.
- Can target Fog of War.
- Can be interrupted.
- Cooldown: 30 Seconds
With nearly no penalties to any of the Mortar's characteristics, the Gr. 34 should be firing using the Bombardment ability as frequently as possible. Unless a target quickly moves out of the area or is destroyed in a single shot, the ability has no risk and nothing but reward. Mortars at a higher level of veterancy will perform the barrage slightly faster.
- Fires smoke shells at the targeted location.
- Units firing through the smoke will have greatly reduced accuracy
- Costs nothing
- Cooldown: 30 seconds
Smoke cover is most important on the offense. Most weapons suffer penalties firing from or into smoke. Short-ranged units like StG-armed Stormtroopers or Flamethrower-armed Pioneers can use the cover to advance on longer range enemy units and attack, enemy Anti-Tank Guns can be blinded for your Tanks to flank or escape, friendly units can be obscured for a point capture or retreat, among other uses.
- Prevents the unit from acquiring targets automatically. It will only attack manually-selected targets until deactivated.
Generally, the only reason to disable free-fire is to prevent a Mortar from firing on units that are in close proximity to an enemy. As regular fire does not interrupt Barrages or Smoke, nor is it interrupted by them, it has no detrimental effect on the battle for your side.
The Mortar team gains veterancy through Support team upgrades, which are available in Kampfkraft Center, which applies to all Mortar Teams, both new and those already on the field. Mortars recrewed by Wehrmacht forces will also use this veterancy, irrespective of the level the Infantry capturing the weapon had previously.
|Level 1 Veterancy:
|Level 2 Veterancy:
|Level 3 Veterancy:
These bonuses effect both the Mortar itself and the MP40 held by the Commander, though the offensive effects given to the latter are negligible outside of the rare situation of the weapon being recrewed by Knight's Cross Holders.
The biggest reason to take veterancy for Mortars is to deal more effectively with enemy Mortars. The fire rate and damage buff help ensure more shots are fired at an enemy Mortar before it can respond in kind, and that the shots fired will still do major damage even if the enemy crew is near the edge of the AoE. The crew armor upgrade allows them to take more damage before going down. While these bonuses are generally helpful for the crew, they're most noticeable in counter-battery situations.
As a result of this, as well as the additional benefit of doing bonus damage to enemy buildings, the Mortar is a high-priority veterancy target. Support weapon veterancy is generally powerful, and the Mortar's top-level benefit is generally the most useful rank 3 buff for the class. If you are using the Gr. 34, especially in numbers, upgrade your veterancy early and quickly.
Though their mechanics are rather complicated by CoH standards, the actual strategic applications of Mortars are simple. Gr. 34 teams are best served in one of four roles in most battles: Supporting offensives, protecting Strategic Points, supporting your MG42 teams, MG-equipped Bunkers, or other suppressing support weapons, and counter-battery against enemy mortars, usually the M2 60mm used by the Americans.
When supporting offensives, Mortars should generally be behind your Infantry as they advance. A good rule of thumb is to deploy your Mortar, move your attacking forces out, then undeploy it as the Infantry start moving, to give them a head start. The mortar should start deploying once the Infantry approach an enemy position. When ready to fire, the Mortar's priority jobs are to fire smoke to cover close-range squads' advance, hit MGs, MG nests, or Emplacements, and strike enemies behind heavy cover like Sandbags, in that order.
This is the most dangerous of the Mortar's jobs, and unless pre-positioned in advance of the attack, it will struggle to effectively do this once vehicles enter the fray. Mid-range firing is ideal, to ensure more shots from both your Barrage and Smoke land on target, but this will put your Mortar at the mercy of enemies. It is usually not particularly efficient to hold back a bodyguard for the mortar in this scenario, so be ready to pack up and have your team either run home or into safer territory when approached.
Protecting Strategic Points is a more basic affair. A mortar should be deployed within range of either high value strategic points, or a high volume of them. Ideally, a Forward Headquarters or Halftrack should be nearby to keep the squad reinforced. This role can also often be crossed over with supporting Machine Guns, with the MG protecting the Mortar from approaching Infantry while the Mortar supports it and protects the nearby strategic points from enemy forces.
Finally, Counter-Battery should, like Strategic Point protection or MG support, take place next to a spot your mortar should reinforce. Unlike a Sniper duel, avoid the urge to relocate your Mortar if it's currently being fired at, as a stray enemy shell can take out the whole squad, leaving you with nothing if the weapon is not currently deployed. Instead, predict where enemy Mortars will be and set your squads up in a good position before the fire starts coming, to ensure you get the first shot. If two mortars start firing on each other at the same time, you will generally have the advantage, especially if your veterancy is higher, but luck will often be the deciding factor.
When positioning a Mortar, there are several conditions that determine how ideal a spot is. The most ideal place to set up is one somewhat close to enemy lines blocked off by something impassable, such as across a river or behind a hedgerow or other vision-blocking obstacle. As long as its flanks are secure, the Gr. 34 can then fire upon its enemies without risking retaliation from anything short of an enemy's own mortar or artillery.
Nearby defensive setups are the next best thing. While Mortars will still be at risk from the likes of Snipers or particularly determined infantry or vehicle attacks, enemies will often think twice about sending their squads into danger to attack your Mortar, especially if they would be sending Infantry into an MG or vehicles into a PaK 38's cone of fire. At minimum, putting your mortar behind cover is good- though the UI does not show the team being effected, putting a mortar behind cover or obstructions at least makes it less likely to get hit by direct enemy fire.
While the mortar is in any sort of role, never let an enemy squad or vehicle approach a Gr. 34. If support is nearby, quickly move it into close range to intercept enemy forces and ensure your mortar, at least, has room to retreat. If not, retreat your mortar as soon as you see an enemy squad approaching, even if it's not within minimum range. Both the Forward Headquarters and Krieg Barracks contain some high-value units, and having to re-build a mortar crew is not an ideal use of time.
Any Infantry squad caught by a Mortar Shell is almost invariably going to suffer casualties. As long as the mortar team is able to stay outside of an enemy's effective firing range and can continue firing upon Allied forces, it has a profound effect on an enemy both directly and psychologically. It hampers Allied infantry's operational ability, forcing them to continually move out of cover and avoid certain areas, especially strategic points, until the mortar is silenced. Like a vehicle, it will also generally require a dedicated response.
A mortar in an effective position can become the focal point of a defensive setup, forcing an enemy to sacrifice higher-value enemy units to deal with it. On the other hand, when on the offensive, the Gr. 34 can often pick away at enemy buildings and units while also providing smoke cover, unless an enemy mortar is forcing its attention towards it. Still, with counter-battery being among the Gr. 34's strengths, it can quickly clear enemy mortars out and resume normal operations.
The British in particular will have a hard time dealing with your Mortar. Their Mortar Emplacement is static, somewhat slow to build, and can be outranged by yours, meaning not only is counter-battery more in your favor, but their mortar cannot be repositioned like yours can. In addition, their high-value but slow Infantry Sections and costly emplacements are at the mercy of the Gr. 34 more often than not.
While a great indirect fire weapon, Mortars have nothing on actual artillery in terms of firepower. Most buildings will take quite a long time to chip away at, and Infantry in Slit Trenches will take almost no damage from the Gr. 34 at all. The low splash of the rounds also gives a very limited area-of-effect compared to shells from a Howitzer, Nebelwerfer, or other larger pieces. To make the comparison even worse, full-sized artillery, both on or off the map, will quickly decimate a Gr. 34 team, often before it even gets the chance to retreat.
In addition, the actual crew of the Mortar itself is very weak, made further worse by the dead zone around below the weapon's minimum range, meaning any enemy unit that closes this gap will be able to take free shots at the mortar without the mortar itself being able to respond. Being a static weapon with a low health crew, Snipers can also quickly take out a mortar crew in short order, since without reinforcement, only 2 shots need to land to kill the crew entirely.
Finally, Mortars are of no value whatsoever against armored vehicles, save for the fact that they tend to do engine damage on a direct hit. If a Tank or Armored Car shows up to a sector a Mortar is in, the Mortar team will almost always have to retreat or they'll be killed. Even a Jeep or Bren Carrier can typically kill a Gr. 34 team in short order, often even if protection is nearby. While the vehicle may be scrapped, the mortar team will not live to see it.
- The Barrage ability is useful for many reasons: It fires faster than normal operations with similar accuracy, it concentrates fire on an area, prevents the team from becoming distracted by multiple targets, and has nearly no downtime. unless you simply want passive overwatch of an area, it's best to use this ability as much as possible.
- Units in smoke fired from this weapon take less damage and suppression, and fire both ways is drastically less accurate. This is most useful for quickly blinding enemy HMGs, concealing units attempting to take a strategic point under fire, or allow close-combat units to get nearer to an enemy before engaging.
- The most effective use of mortar fire is against enemy buildings, both those occupied by Infantry and those constructed by Engineers. Mortar shells do very high damage to structures and garrisons, and can quickly destroy either from well beyond the enemy firing range. The only exception is the 3" Mortar Emplacement, which can simply fire back in kind.
- Mortars are a fantastic way of dealing with enemy Weapon Teams in general, as their long setup and pack up times give the weapon plenty of time to fire on the target. This is most important against the dangerous M2 60mm Mortar of the U.S. Army- the longer range and slightly better precision of the Gr. 34 gives you the advantage in counter-battery.
- MGs are a Mortar's best friend. The Mortar can easily hit suppressed enemy Infantry for big damage, while also being able to take down enemy mortars attempting to shatter your MGs. Flakvierlings are even better, given their increased potency against enemy light vehicles, though this requires a coordinated and friendly Panzer Elite player using Luftwaffe Tactics.
- Always spot for your Mortars, as they have a far greater firing range than sight range. Recon vehicles or cloaked infantry are good for this.
- High Fuel and Munitions points take a particularly long time to capture, giving Mortars ample time to drop shells on an enemy. The capturing forces will either be forced to abandon the point or risk losing the squad outright.