The Panzer Elite, also known as Kampfgruppe Lehr in the single-player campaign, is one of two factions featured in Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts. One of the members of the Axis, it is essentially a counterpart to the Wehrmacht, and fights alongside it in defending Nazi-Occupied Europe from the Allied invasion. The Panzer Elite is a highly mobile force that relies on constant offensive force with very little emphasis on static defense. They can field powerful anti-tank units, and are good at denying battlefield assets to the enemy. The Panzer Elite is based mainly on the Panzer Lehr Division.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Basic Force Composition
- 3 Veterancy
- 4 Style and Strategy
- 5 Command Doctrines
- 6 Playing Against the Panzer Elite
- 7 Single-Player Campaign
- 8 Gallery
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts introduced a new Axis faction known as the Panzer Elite. Together with the Wehrmacht, they strive to repel the Allied invasion of France to protect Nazi-Occupied Europe from being overrun.
The Panzer Elite faction is a representation of a generic Panzergrenadier (mechanized Infantry) division, such as were fielded by both the German army (the Wehrmacht) and the notorious Waffen SS. It is primarily inspired by the mish-mash of German units that opposed the Allied forces during Operation Market Garden, including the 2nd SS Panzer Corps and the Luftwaffe's Fallschirmjäger divisions.
The Panzer Elite force consists primarily of fast-moving light and medium vehicles, which provide it with flexible defensive and offensive capabilities. With virtually no defensive measures, the Panzer Elite are expected to constantly be on the offensive, keeping their enemies off-balance and manipulating battlefield assets to their advantage (or to the enemy's detriment). Their limited infantry is initially very poor, but can be upgraded to become one of the best infantry forces in the game - and is expected to work closely with the Panzer Elite vehicle fleet.
Panzer Elite units gain Veterancy through combat action, and have the option to invest this in either Defensive bonuses (to increase speed and survivability) or Offensive bonuses (to increase firing rate and accuracy). This allows each unit to specialize in the tasks it is most needed to perform, giving additional flexibility to an already flexible fighting force.
With their varied Command Tree abilities, the Panzer Elite can rely on support from the Luftwaffe (the German air-arm), concentrate on improving their own spectacular anti-vehicle capabilities, or improve their subversion of battlefield assets. They can potentially field some of the most powerful units in the entire game, or boost their defensive capabilities to match those of other factions.
In the Panzer Elite single-player campaign, the "Kampfgruppe Lehr" unit (thus named after its inspiration, the Kampfgruppe and Panzer Lehr divisions of the Wehrmacht) struggles to prevent British and American forces from attaining control of a series of bridges in Holland during Operation Market Garden. A few Panzer Elite units appear as part of the various SS Panzer Divisions featured as the opponents in the British Liberation of Caen campaign.
Basic Force Composition
|Panzer Elite Units|
The Panzer Elite army consists primarily of light, fast vehicles. The majority of these vehicles punch well above their weight, capable of doing grievous harm to enemy units. However, most of these units are lightly-armored as well, and are usually very vulnerable to enemy fire. As a result, the Panzer Elite rely on fast attacks meant to rapidly cripple the enemy, and are expected to keep going despite the heavy losses incurred in the process. Mobility and cunning are their most important assets.
In addition, the Panzer Elite rely on small infantry teams known as Panzer Grenadiers, which are highly versatile and well-trained though small in numbers, to perform virtually all infantry-related duties on the battlefield. They are often supported by unarmed vehicles specializing in logistics, and together these groups can carry out all sorts of unconventional warfare. The Panzer Elite force is almost entirely devoid of defensive capabilities, instead relying on mobile patrol units to react to enemy offensives.
The Panzer Elite infantry is entirely made up of a single type of unit: the Panzer Grenadiers. These are small 3-man mechanized infantry teams, which are initially rather weak and vulnerable. With time and investment however, Panzer Grenadiers can become highly effective and very dangerous, gaining a wide variety of combat abilities as well as an increase to squad sizes.
Panzer Grenadiers are responsible for field repairs as well as the construction of the various Base Structures. Expected to keep up with other motorized units, they often ride in Infantry Halftracks.
It is possible to recruit three different varieties of Panzer Grenadiers:
- Panzer Grenadiers: A basic unit armed with Kar98k bolt-action rifles. Can be upgraded with various weapons.
- Assault Grenadier Heavy Infantry: Essentially Panzer Grenadiers with a built-in MP44 Sturmgewehr weapon package, saving Munitions but costing more Manpower. Excellent close-combat anti-infantry troops.
- Tank Buster Heavy Infantry: Essentially Panzer Grenadiers with a built-in Panzerschreck weapon package, saving Munitions but costing more Manpower. Excellent anti-tank troops.
The difference between these units is minimal. The two "Heavy Infantry" variants are simply a different way to get an upgraded Panzer Grenadier squad without paying Munitions for the appropriate upgrade or waiting for it to be installed. These three units are otherwise identical in terms of combat properties, they all benefit from the same Global Upgrades and can all use the same combat abilities. The only tangible difference among the three units is that only the basic Panzer Grenadiers can be upgraded with Gewehr 43 semi-auto battle rifles.
Panzer Grenadiers are expected to operate closely with the tanks and vehicles fielded by this faction. They can also be formed into large infantry groups, called "Panzer Grenadier Platoons", to enable them to take on larger enemy infantry units. A large group of these is more flexible and more dangerous than an enemy unit of the same size.
The Panzer Elite field the largest variety of Light Vehicles available to any faction. Many of these vehicles are unarmed, expected to support other units by bestowing various bonuses to them. Others are meant to operate inside enemy territory, subverting enemy resources. Still, many of these light vehicles can punch well above their weight, and are cheap enough to cover the high attrition rate they usually incur due to their light armor.
- Kettenkrad: A very fast but unarmed half-track motorcycle that can capture Strategic Points. Each Command Tree unlocks an additional ability for this vehicle.
- Schwimmwagen Type 128: A very fast but unarmed car that can capture Strategic Points. Each Command Tree unlocks an additional ability for this vehicle. Tales of Valor reward unit, replaces Kettenkrad.
- Scout Car: A fast and lightly-armed vehicle that can secure Strategic Points to deny capture by the enemy and increase Fuel and Munitions production in a sector.
- Munitions Halftrack: An unarmed vehicle that reduces cooldown timers on abilities possessed by other units in its vicinity. Can also plant Mines.
- Funkwagen 'Vampire' Halftrack: An unarmed vehicle that can steal resources out of an enemy-controlled sector. Can also produce Goliath Tracked Mines.
- Mortar Halftrack: A mortar mounted in a light vehicle. Provides light artillery support for attack and defense purposes.
- Infantry Halftrack: A lightly-armed vehicle that can carry infantry units, allowing them to keep pace with advancing armor or provide mobile defense. Infantry loaded into the vehicle can still fire their weapons at enemies.
- Armored Car: A powerful anti-infantry vehicle firing rapid and accurate 20mm shells. Also useful against enemy light vehicles, and can provide good mobile defense to Panzer Elite territory.
- Light AT Halftrack: A fast anti-vehicle unit armed with a small anti-tank gun. Very accurate, it can harass or flank enemy tanks with ease, and can even be used to snipe infantry units.
- Goliath Tracked Mine: A remote-controlled vehicle packed with explosives. Drives into enemy ranks and detonates to demolish surrounding foes.
Speed is always of the essence, as many of these units are used as response forces to fend off enemy attacks. On the offensive, these vehicles can take the battle to the enemy in the early stages of the game, or provide support for heavier vehicles later on. Infantry rely on Infantry Halftracks and Munitions Halftracks as part of their most basic tactics.
The Panzer Elite can field two medium vehicles that can be used to both attack and defend:
- Marder III Tank Hunter: A medium tank-destroyer with a powerful long-range cannon. Accurate and deadly, it can snipe enemy units at a distance.
- Hotchkiss Light Tank: A fast moving and lightly armored tank, adept at countering allied light vehicles and early armor. Tales of Valor reward unit, replaces Panzer IV Infantry Support Tank.
The Marder III is often used to provide firepower from beyond engagement range, though it can also flank and attack enemy tanks from the rear. The vehicle can trade its mobility for increased firing rate and range, allowing it to essentially become an Active Defense Emplacement - though a vulnerable one.
The Panzer Elite repertoire includes three heavy vehicles of varying strengths. Two of these vehicles are not actually tanks per-se, though the last is straightforward heavy tank unit.
- Panzer IV Infantry Support Tank: A medium tank with a short cannon firing high-explosive shells. Lacking penetration, the shells are well-suited for defeating infantry and light vehicles.
- Bergetiger Repair and Recovery Vehicle: An unarmed modified Tiger tank equipped with a crane and winch. Provides fast combat repair, and can actually bring destroyed tanks and vehicles back to full operational capacity.
- Panther: An advanced medium tank, well-armed and protected with its sloping armor, capable of smashing through enemy lines easily. Acquired in pairs for a hefty cost.
Panzer Elite tanks are not particularly well-rounded, lacking a medium-armored tank destroyer component (though one Command Tree later adds this option with the Hetzer). They must be supported by the lighter vehicles and infantry, and are meant primarily to draw enemy fire away from their support units.
The Panzer Elite have virtually no permanent defensive structures. Their units can only construct the following defenses:
- Mines: Explosive charges invisible to enemy units that detonate by proximity. Used for destroying enemy units passing through a given area. Costs Munitions.
The limited variety of defenses means that the Panzer Elite must rely on mobile units to patrol friendly territory and fend off light enemy infiltration attempts. When the enemy makes a larger assault, the entire Panzer Elite force is expected to converge upon it and destroy it.
Tactic-specific Units and Structures
The Panzer Elite can field a large array of units and structures from choosing a specific Tactic
Scorched Earth Tactics:
- Hummel Self Propelled Artillery: Long range, high damage, and mobile self propelled artillery piece. Requires Scorched Earth Tactics: Hummel Self-Propelled Artillery
- Luftwaffe Ground Force: A multipurpose 5-man squad, useful for repairing vehicles, building defensive structures, or recrewing captured weapons. Requires Luftwaffe Tactics: Luftwaffe Ground Force
- Fallschirmjäger Squad: A elite 4-man infantry squad capable of deploying from almost any neutral building on the map, can be upgraded with FG-42s for increased firepower. Requires Luftwaffe Tactics: Fallschirmjager Infiltration
- Wirbelwind Flakpanzer: A self-propelled anti aircraft tank, it excels at killing and suppressing enemy squads as well as shooting down enemy aircraft. Requires Luftwaffe Tactics: Wirbelwind Flakpanzer
- Henschel Hs 129: An aircraft armed with a powerful 75mm Anti Tank cannon, will only target enemy vehicles and stay on the battlefield for a limited amount of time. Requires Luftwaffe Tactics: Henschel Combat Air Patrol
- Hetzer: A casemate tank destroyer with very good frontal armor, ideal for countering allied medium and light armor. Requires Tank Destroyer Tactics: Hetzer Tank
- Jagdpanther: A very powerful tank destroyer with strong armor and high health. Armed with the Long 88, it is able to counter all allied armor. Requires Tank Destroyer Tactics: Jagdpanther Tank Destroyer
Scorched Earth Tactics:
- Incendiary Trap: A cheap and simple mine deployed by the Schwimmwagen Type 128 that will cover a large area in flame and deal constant damage to infantry that are caught in it. Requires Scorched Earth Tactics
- Road Blocks: A large obstruction that blocks all vehicle movement and is completely uncrushable by all vehicles in the game, also provides Heavy Cover for infantry. Requires Scorched Earth Tactics: Roadblocks
- Barbed Wire: An obstacle that prevents passage to infantry, forcing them to go around (preferably into pre-established kill-zones). Can be easily crushed by most vehicles. Costs nothing. Requires Scorched Earth Tactics: Roadblocks
- Sand Bags: Provides artificial Heavy Cover for infantry. Gives infantry a quick position to defend from in otherwise defenseless areas, while also blocking infantry and light vehicle movement. Requires Luftwaffe Tactics: Luftwaffe Ground Force
- Barbed Wire: An obstacle that prevents passage to infantry, forcing them to go around (preferably into pre-established kill-zones). Can be easily crushed by most vehicles. Costs nothing. Requires Luftwaffe Tactics: Luftwaffe Ground Force
- Butterfly Bomb: A small and low damage mine that usually kills single model in a squad, deployed in groups of 11 by air to any visible point on the battlefield. Requires Luftwaffe Tactics: Butterfly Bombs
- Flakvierling 38 20mm AA: A high damage, anti-infantry/anti-air emplacement with 360 degrees of motion. Requires Luftwaffe Tactics: Luftwaffe Ground Force
- 88mm Flak 36 AT/AA: A very powerful and long range emplacement with 360 degrees of motion that is capable of penetrating all allied armor. Requires Luftwaffe Tactics: Flak 36 88mm Cannon
- Teller Mines: A very powerful and expensive mine designed to destroy vehicles and will only trigger when a enemy vehicle drives over it. Requires Tank Destroyer Tactics: Teller Mines
All Panzer Elite units can attain up to three levels of Veterancy. They do this primarily by killing enemy units to gain experience.
When a Panzer Elite unit kills an enemy unit, it gains 100% of that unit's experience value. Additionally, it will pass 50% of that same value to all Panzer Elite units within 35 meters of its position.
This "Shared Veterancy" model allows Panzer Elite forces to rapidly increase their Veterancy level when attacking in large groups. It also provides a way for the (many) unarmed vehicles to gain veterancy, simply by being close to the combat zone.
With each Veterancy level a unit attains, it is capable of acquiring one of two different sets of bonuses: a Defensive Bonus or an Offensive Bonus. The choice is normally up to the player, though some (unarmed) units will pick the Defensive Bonus set by default.
The benefits from each set depend primarily on the unit's type - whether Infantry or Vehicle. For example, the "Infantry Defensive Bonus" gives resistance to Suppression, while the "Vehicle Defensive Bonus" gives an increase to maximum speed.
Additionally, the level at which a bonus was selected is also important. In other words, selecting a bonus set at Veterancy Level 1 does not necessarily give the same benefits as selecting the same bonus at Veterancy level 2. For example, the "Level 1 Vehicle Defensive Bonus" is significantly more beneficial than the "Level 2 Vehicle Defensive Bonus", affecting the unit's stats more dramatically.
A single unit can mix-and-match sets as required. For example, a unit can receive the Defensive set at level 1, then the Offensive set at level 2, then another Defensive set at level 3. This allows specifically tailoring a unit to suit the current needs.
|Bonus Set Type||Infantry||Vehicle|
|Defensive Level 1||
|Defensive Level 2||
|Defensive Level 3||
|Offensive Level 1||
|Offensive Level 2||
|Offensive Level 3||
Some units gain additional bonuses as they reach certain Veterancy levels, regardless of which bonus set was selected. For example, a Panzer IV Infantry Support Tank is fitted with Armor Skirts when it reaches Veterancy level 3, even before the player selects a bonus set.
Also, note that some units gain no benefit from specific bonuses. For example, Active Defenses can gain veterancy, but since they have no movement ability they do not benefit from the Defensive Bonus Set's Maximum Speed increase.
Style and Strategy
Of all the factions in Company of Heroes, the Panzer Elite have the strongest, most mobile offensive force. In addition their units are defensively weak but quite cheap, and most of them are easy to replace when necessary. As a result, the Panzer Elite play a game based almost entirely on a constant offensive meant to confuse and distract the enemy, culminating with a final armored punch designed to bring the enemy to his knees.
Outlining the Panzer Elite strategy is very difficult, because of the many different possibilities available to them in terms of tech tree progression and unit availability. At each point in the battle, the Panzer Elite's forces may be more suited to performing one tactic than another. They can never rest easy knowing their territory is secure, and so they must constantly look for the correct tactic with which to prevent their enemies from seizing more land.
The Panzer Elite can sometimes win the battle incredibly early. If they cannot, the battle can become drawn-out, until the point where they have completely exhausted all Global Upgrades and Command Upgrades - at which point they can deliver a sudden decisive strike to end the battle entirely.
At the start of the game, the Panzer Elite have one significant advantage: they have a Kettenkrad, and the ability to produce more. These unarmed vehicles can quickly acquire a large amount of land, giving the Panzer Elite economy a head start.
Naturally, the Panzer Elite commander will have to eventually begin deploying Panzer Grenadiers to begin base structure construction. If an Infantry Halftrack is produced, it can help those infantry assist the land grab operation - though Panzer Grenadiers take land much slower than other units.
Denying sectors to the enemy is very important. It is in fact so important early on, that it may be more important than acquiring useful territory. For example, it's possible to drive one's Kettenkrads quickly towards the enemy base, and capture territory the enemy may want to acquire soon - like high resource sectors or sectors that would link many territories back to home base. By capturing these sectors early, the Panzer Elite delay the enemy's capture of these sectors, denying them the crucial resources to build an early force. Meanwhile, the Panzer Elite can easily subsist on the few resources they are gathering to build up their small but useful early-game vehicles.
If you do capture these forward sectors, naturally they won't be linked to your own base and thus don't produce resources for you. However, that is not the point: you are simply delaying the enemy's resource-gathering, gaining an advantage thanks to the cheap units you can produce early on.
Eventually, you'll be unable to protect these forward sectors, but by this time you'll probably already hold more territory than your enemy, and will be producing more resources as a result.
Early Game Rush
Some early-game Panzer Elite units can be exceptionally useful at chasing down and destroying early-game enemy units. Cheap Panzer Elite vehicles can make forays into enemy territory, patrol neutral sectors that have yet to be captured, and assault any enemy units they encounter.
Vehicles like the Scout Car and Infantry Halftrack are useful for this. They can engage and destroy enemy infantry attempting to make land-grabs, and might even stand up to enemy light vehicles. The enemy has little that's useful against such vehicles: infantry firearms are unlikely to help; and the only real weapon dangerous to these vehicles are Heavy Machine Guns, which can be flanked quickly and destroyed.
Remember that Scout Cars can further augment your own resource gathering whenever they have nothing better to do - place them in the highest production sectors available to get the largest bonus. As for Infantry Halftracks, keep these loaded with MP44-armed Panzer Grenadiers or Assault Grenadier Heavy Infantry to get a man-hunting team that can repair and replenish itself!
If you can manage to produce enough of these vehicles early on, you may be able to deny the enemy any significant territory grabs, leaving the enemy with few resources - too few to oppose the Panzer Elite as more powerful vehicles become available.
To maximize the efficiency of this tactic, try fielding a Armored Car as early as possible. This vehicle can dominate the battlefield easily until enemy medium vehicles appear.
If you do a good-enough job, once heavier vehicles or large numbers of Panzer Grenadiers are constructed, the enemy will have no means with which to oppose you: netting a fast and decisive victory.
Once battle lines have stabilized, the enemy will begin making forays into Panzer Elite territory in attempts to grab it. Since the Panzer Elite have no Active Defenses, they must rely on mobile defensive forces to repel the enemy.
Fortunately, this should be rather simple, given that most Panzer Elite units are light, fast, and heavy-hitting vehicles. A handful should be delegated simply to the task of hunting down enemy infantry whenever they appear in your sectors, and eliminate them before they can capture any land.
Again, Scout Cars and loaded Infantry Halftracks provide the best early defensive units. They are both fast and deadly, and are easy to repair. Later on, Armored Cars and Light AT Halftracks may be necessary for tackling larger threats, like enemy light/medium vehicles.
When enemy tanks begin to appear, the only thing that thwarts them is a converging defense. Draw the enemy units into your territory, and attack them from all directions simultaneously using every asset you have. Normally, Panzer Elite units of similar numbers to an opposing enemy force will come out victorious from such battles, and are much easier to replace (especially with a Bergetiger Repair and Recovery Vehicle to restore destroyed vehicles practically for free).
If you can trap a large enemy force and demolish it entirely with relatively few losses, a window of opportunity opens up for an assault on the enemy's own assets - using whatever units are remaining and/or can be replaced within a short time-frame. The enemy will usually take much more time to recover from his losses, and this advantage must be capitalized upon quickly.
In order to survive, the Panzer Elites must never wait for the enemy to come to them. Instead, instigate as many attacks on the enemy as you can.
You can make hit-and-run attacks using a few units to take out vulnerable positions, drawing enemy units to you and retreating when they arrive to make their defense. Then quickly attack elsewhere.
Continuously striking one flank and then the other will eventually persuade your enemy to divide his forces to protect both areas at the same time. This is when you must deliver a more decisive punch at either of these locations, to catch and destroy half the enemy force and then the other half. Divide and conquer.
Even if you have no clear strategy visible, still continue to make these harassing attacks against your enemy. He must never be allowed to build up his strength, nor to feel secure behind his lines. Use guile, camouflage and deception to grab enemy territory - even if you don't actually have the means to keep it. Keep your enemy guessing about your next move.
The Panzer Elite have the ability to wage Financial Warfare using their Funkwagen 'Vampire' Halftracks. This may be very tricky (unless using a later patch, where these halftracks have camouflage abilities), but can easily be worth it.
A single Funkwagen can not only siphon resources out of the enemy's most valuable sectors - it also hurts production throughout supply lines. You can cost the enemy upwards of two dozen lost Munitions or Fuel points per minute - a very large sum indeed - just by placing the Funkwagen in the right position.
Remember that any reduction in the enemy's resources (and increase in yours) is a massive advantage to you, given the low cost of your units and the numerous Munitions-based abilities your units possess. An enemy that cannot adequately replace losses incurred from Panzer Elite hit-and-run attacks will surely fall once the Panzer Elite can consolidate a more powerful armored punch.
If the Panzer Elite cannot win the game early using Light Vehicle Rushes, they will usually need to win by reaching the apex of their research - fielding their heaviest units, the Marder III Tank Hunter, Panzer IV Infantry Support Tank, Bergetiger Repair and Recovery Vehicle, and optionally the Panther tank battlegroup.
When consolidated into a single group, this armored force can be utterly devastating - especially when accompanied by lighter vehicles that can protect the flanks and/or flank the enemy themselves.
The use of this armored force differs depending on the type of enemy you are fighting:
Against the Americans, who rarely have very strong defensive positions, the idea is to draw the bulk of the enemy forces into a firefight, and then envelop and destroy them. Once they're dead, they will be extremely difficult to replace, buying time for the Panzer Elite armor to run over their base and reduce it to rubble.
Against the British, all that needs to be done is to punch through the enemy's defensive line at its weakest point, rushing the armored force past the gap and into enemy territory. Once on the other side, the relatively-weaker British mobile units will move to intercept and can be easily destroyed, leaving British Command Trucks to fend for themselves.
The key is momentum. Keep pushing through the enemy, deploy more and more units as they get destroyed, and use Bergetiger Repair and Recovery Vehicles to restore "dead" vehicles back to operational status. If the onslaught does not end with total victory, the Panzer Elite will usually still be in a position to rebuild their forces faster than the enemy anyway.
Like all other factions, the Panzer Elite have three available Command Doctrines, referred to as "Tactics". Each "Tactic" is designed to augment the Panzer Elite force's capacities in one way or another.
The three Panzer Elite Tactics are very different from each other, and have a significant impact on how this faction plays its game - arguably more than any other faction's Command Trees.
This is in no small part due to the fact that as soon as a Command Tree has been selected, all of the Panzer Elite Kettenkrad units will immediately receive a new ability corresponding to the selected tree. Due to being cheap, fast vehicles, the extra Kettenkrad ability can change the face of their strategy from one end to the other.
Scorched Earth Tactics
The Scorched Earth Tactics tree is centered around denial of assets. It can be summed up with the words, "if I can't have it, neither can you". It employs age-old strategies of destruction of one's own assets to ensure that the enemy cannot use them if he tries to capture them.
Initially, Kettenkrads and Panzer Grenadiers will receive the ability to plant rigged incendiary devices in buildings and then in Strategic Points. These devices are triggered only by enemy units attempting to interact with the trapped asset, and can easily kill infantry. It also becomes possible to construct Road Blocks, to prevent the free movement of enemy vehicles and funnel them into kill zones. This gives some defensive protection against enemy incursions into Panzer Elite territory.
Panzer Grenadiers will also be able to disable Strategic Points entirely, requiring players to spend time restoring said points to working status if they wish to gain resources. This enhances the Panzer Elite Financial Warfare capabilities, allowing them to prevent the enemy from acquiring the resources required to gain an advantage, while the Panzer Elite still benefit from their cheap units.
Finally, this Command Tree enables two types of artillery: one is an off-map defensive bombardment that can automatically protect an entire sector. The other is the Hummel Self Propelled Artillery, which is one of the most powerful artillery units in the entire game, and can help the Panzer Elite break through enemy defenses and/or destroy enemy units attempting to take Panzer Elite assets.
- Naturally, the ability to deny enemy access to strategic assets gives the Panzer Elite a very powerful advantage, especially in the early game. Kettenkrads can zoom around the map, booby-trapping Strategic Points to prevent their capture by enemies. The best use for this ability is to quickly booby-trap all Neutral points close to the enemy's base as soon as possible - potentially killing the enemy's early land-grabbing units and putting him at a serious disadvantage against the constantly-growing Panzer Elite force.
- Later on, "scorching" threatened sectors prevents the enemy from quickly seizing your land. Panzer Grenadiers are tasked with scorching any territory that their forces cannot adequately protect in short order, requiring the enemy to spend precious time restoring these sectors to operational status, allowing the Panzer Elite more time to counter-attack in those sectors and drive the enemy off. Once again this denies the enemy their early resource-gathering, giving the Panzer Elite an advantage thanks to their cheap units. You can use this ability also in the early game by sending Panzer Grenadiers on Infantry Halftracks to "scorch" neutral territories close to the enemy's lines, slowing down their advance.
- Once the artillery pieces are unlocked for the Panzer Elite, they become capable of very easily busting through enemy defenses in force, by bombarding the enemy's most valuable assets. Defensive bombardments can also destroy enemies brash enough to try to take Panzer Elite territory, adding some dimension of defensive capability to this mostly-offensive faction.
The Luftwaffe, Germany's Air-Force, can give its assistance to the Panzer Elite through both ground-based Anti-Aircraft assets as well as airborne support of various kinds. The Luftwaffe Tactics Command Tree gives the Panzer Elite something they don't otherwise have: straightforward defensive capabilities through Defensive Structures. This starts with Luftwaffe Ground Forces who can construct obstacles as well as the Flakvierling 38 20mm AA gun - a powerful substitute to Machine Gun nests which can also handle enemy light vehicles quite well. The Wirbelwind Flakpanzer with its quad 20mm cannon grants the same type of protection, except it is a mobile unit and thus much more useful in both defense and offense. Finally, this tree will allow the Panzer Elite to construct a powerful defensive/offensive stationary gun, the 88mm Flak 36 AT/AA cannon, which has an incredibly long range and is very powerful against enemy armor.
Fallschirmjäger squads also become available thanks to this Command Tree, and like British Commandos can be used to make sudden surprise attacks against the enemy, keeping him off-balance. These units can also make use of their camouflage abilities to remain hidden inside enemy territory to perform ambushes or assist offensive operations.
The Luftwaffe Command Tree also grants two airborne assets to be used: the deployment of Butterfly Bombs to block infantry access routes into your territory, and the use of Henschel Hs 129 air patrols that can wipe out entire tank convoys.
Finally, this Command Tree allows all Kettenkrads to camouflage themselves, allowing them to act as scouts and/or infiltrate enemy territory to grab sectors in grab-and-run attacks. The use of camouflaged scouts opens up all sorts of interesting strategies for this faction.
- The addition of defensive assets to this faction helps it maintain a more well-rounded strategy, defending its sectors more vigorously while carrying out clandestine surprise attacks against the enemy. Luftwaffe Tactics companies have better survivability throughout the early and middle portions of the game, aiming to protect themselves until they can field the heaviest units and deliver a sudden armored strike to wipe the enemy off the map.
- Initially, the Flakvierling 38 20mm AAs will help protect your territory from early-game enemy attacks, being able to easily handle anything the enemy can field during this stage except snipers and mortar fire. Camouflaged Kettenkrads can scout against these units, and can use their camouflage ability to sneak behind enemy lines and begin grabbing sectors - to keep the enemy on the defensive.
- Fallschirmjäger infiltrations can perform aggressive early game patrols as well, since they are able to easily confront most enemy early-game units. Positioning one or more of these units behind enemy lines will offer potential for hit-and-run or flanking and harassing attacks later on.
- The Wirbelwind Flakpanzer, if acquired early enough, can be a major asset to you. This is essentially a cheap tank which can destroy enemy early-game units with ease. A single Wirbelwind can dominate half the battlefield if fielded early (before any significant number of anti tank weapons hit the field), possibly to the point of preventing the enemy from making any significant land-grabs.
- Finally, once 88mm Flak 36 AT/AA cannons are available, it is possible to use these to defend your territory quite effectively - but they are also useful for sniping at enemy positions and busting holes through their defensive lines. When camouflaged Kettenkrads are used to spot for these massive cannons, the 88mm Flak 36 AT/AAs can snipe at a range of 100 meters - straight into enemy territory. Once a hole is breached, the high-end Panzer Elite units can bust through rather easily, subduing enemy resistance and wiping the enemy out in a single massive attack.
Tank Destroyer Tactics
The Tank Destroyer Tactics Command Tree, unlike the other two, is meant to capitalize on the Panzer Elite's greatest strength: offensive firepower. It augments the Panzer Elite's strongest units, and adds two even stronger units to make a powerful assault force. It generally aims to win the game during the later stages of the battle, and usually requires the Panzer Elite company to survive longer - with greater benefits in the later game.
Initially, this Command Tree is more defensive than offensive. It allows planting Teller Mines to block enemy vehicle movement, and gives Panzer Grenadiers the ability to detect enemy vehicle movement far beyond their own sight-range. This allows them to effectively defend against enemy vehicles when these begin to appear.
The Tank Destroyer Tactics company then gains access to the Hetzer tank, which rounds out the Panzer Elite's tank force by adding a medium tank destroyer component that's more survivable than the Marder III Tank Hunter. Hetzers can also be used as ambush units, especially for flanking enemy forces attempting to enter Panzer Elite territory. All tank destroyer vehicles in the Panzer Elite force will also benefit from the introduction of APCR Rounds, which increase their penetration against enemy armor.
In the late game, this Command Tree unlocks two extremely powerful abilities. It doubles the anti-tank strength of dedicated Anti-Tank Panzer Grenadier squads, adding more Panzerschreck rockets and Anti-Tank Grenades to these units. The Tank Destroyer Tactics' final benefit is the introduction of the singular Jagdpanther heavy tank, an almost unstoppable force used as the center of the most powerful armored assault forces in the game.
Finally, this Command Tree enables Kettenkrads to perform repairs. This gives the Panzer Elite a mobile repair unit that can quickly respond whenever units are damaged, escort assault forces to repair them during battles, and generally keep a strong and mobile vehicle fleet in continuous operation.
- The Tank Destroyer Tactics company remains on the defensive during the early stages of the battle. The goal is to survive long enough to field one of the most powerful tank forces in the game - which can only happen in the late stages and requires a large amount of resources. Until then, the company relies on mobile defenses, and on keeping their vehicle fleet operational at all times.
- This company must field a large number of vehicles early on, and rely on Kettenkrads to repair these vehicles whenever possible to minimize resource consumption. Large vehicle forces patrol the Panzer Elite's front lines to encircle and destroy any enemy force attempting to gain entry. Thanks to the wide variety of vehicles in the fleet, and their cheap cost, it is possible to deny the enemy any significant advances for a relatively long period of time, but requires constant vigilance.
- This company really only shines in the later game, when they use their well-rounded armored force comprised of Hetzer tanks with Panzer IV ISTs, Bergetigers and Marder III Tank Hunters to make major offensives against their enemies. This is the only way to ensure that the enemy does not acquire a significant advantage at any point - by destroying their units over and over to force them to waste their hard-earned resources on replacing those units.
- The tide is turned once the Jagdpanther (and hopefully a set of Panther tanks) is fielded. This allows the Panzer Elite force to have a significant advantage in firepower over anything the enemy can produce, and a single armored battlegroup lead by these heavy tanks can simply punch through the enemy's lines, locate their most valuable assets and pulverize them in one single massive attack. Bergetiger Repair and Recovery Vehicles, coupled with repair-capable Kettenkrads, must keep the assault force going until it can ensure the enemy's total destruction.
Playing Against the Panzer Elite
A novice Panzer Elite player is easy to beat: they don't usually make it to the late game because they can't mount any serious defenses to protect their territory. However, in the hands of a competent opponent, the Panzer Elite tends to be one of the most frustrating factions to play against.
Since the Panzer Elite rely on cunning and underhanded tactics, your best counter-strategy would be to rely on heavy-handedness and "dense" tactics. In other words, repay small attacks with massive attacks, build a powerful defensive line to stop anything coming near your territory, and never let your units wander around alone.
The idea is to simply prevent the Panzer Elite from having any sort of easy access to your territory. This puts a stop to resource raids, hasty land grabs, or any sort of tactics that does not involve direct combat with your units. For this your defenses have to be air-tight, and at least good enough to detect enemy units attempting to enter your territory, if not destroy them. The last thing you need is a Funkwagen 'Vampire' Halftrack stealing your resources. If you're playing the Americans, even Machine Gun Emplacements will do for a while - but must be backed up by constant patrols.
Attacks on enemy territory must be performed in force, and never in limited areas. The Panzer Elite will respond to a large attack by enveloping the enemy with everything they have and destroying him, so you must never let that happen. Make wide-area attacks starting in one position to draw the Panzer Elite units in, and then encircle them yourself. Never attempt to drive your force deep into enemy territory - there could be many traps waiting for you along the way. Always make small land grabs, and then alter your defenses to protect the new territory.
Finally, a note about speed: The Panzer Elite army tends to be strongest at the start and end of the battle, and weakest in the middle. Therefore, you must be prepared to kill the fast and powerful Panzer Elite vehicles early on, and then try to beat your enemy as quickly as possible. Lingering will simply allow the Panzer Elite to call in their heaviest weapons, and if that happens you may have already lost the battle.
The Panzer Elite need much fewer resources than you do to operate, and they are very good at denying you access to resources as well. However, do not be tempted to expand too quickly: if you can't adequately protect all the land you have, it will quickly be stolen away or subverted. Also, fast expansion opens you up to all sorts of traps laid by the enemy in neutral territory and/or in their own sectors.
Your only chance is to capture a sizeable amount of land, fortify it well, and use your strongest units to defend so that you don't lose any of them. Then advance slowly, grabbing territory bit-by-bit. Acquire any financial upgrade you can get, as early as you can get it, to make sure you are not defeated due to lack of resources.
Keep an eye on your resources at all times. Try to figure out whether a Funkwagen 'Vampire' Halftrack is siphoning resources from you, and if so, look for it immediately. Secure your sectors to prevent their capture. Never take a sector you cannot adequately defend.
Finally, a very important tip: Destroy all wrecks. Both Panzer Elite and Wehrmacht forces can manipulate wrecked vehicles to their advantage. In particular, destroy wrecked enemy vehicles if you can, to prevent a Bergetiger from recovering these. Remember that a restored wreck is a completely new vehicle that costs the enemy practically nothing!
The Panzer Elite are always looking for ways to infiltrate your territory. They'll want to steal away land, even if they can't get a hold of it, just to keep you off-balance. If they can get a sufficiently large force across into your territory, they can do a lot of damage.
Therefore, the first thing to try to achieve is a solid defensive line - one that's air-tight enough to at least detect, if not destroy, any enemy unit attempting to enter your territory.
The British have this easiest. Their defenses are very strong, and can even hold back anything but the heaviest assaults. The key, again, is to build densely enough that enemy units cannot slip past. Remember that some Panzer Elite companies have access to camouflaged units, so your defenses need to be close together to detect these units. Building your line as close to the border with the enemy as possible will also ensure that Funkwagen 'Vampire' Halftracks cannot siphon your resources by parking themselves just a few meters inside your land.
If the portion of the map under your control shares a small-enough border with the enemy (such as on narrow maps), don't be tempted to save resources on building fewer defenses. Instead, build layered defenses, in the hope that if the first line fails, the second will stop the enemy. This is especially important later on, when the Panzer Elites can deliver very powerful strikes that a single set of defenses cannot hold.
As the Americans, your main options for defense include obstacles and Mines, which you should construct as much of as possible. This will at least delay any hit-and-run attacks until your defensive patrols can react. Make sure to place Observation Posts on all Strategic Points to prevent sudden capture by enemy infiltrators.
Remember that the Panzer Elite severely lack artillery - which is only made available to them through one specific Command Tree, and then only later in the battle. This means the threat to your defenses is significantly reduced. If you're going to build your own artillery, it's going to be primarily defensive - unless you can build it close enough to the enemy's base to bombard that. Otherwise, the Panzer Elite don't really have any immobile assets you can bombard.
To ensure that the Panzer Elite can't mess with your resources and battle plans, you're going to need to use their own tactics against them - i.e. a set of fast, mobile forces that can defend large portions of your territory under short notice. Panzer Elite units will often attempt to make hit-and-run attacks, trying to confuse you and draw your forces into a trap, so you'll need units that can pull back and relocate quickly.
Americans are better at this type of defense, since they can employ very good vehicles which are all reasonably fast. Keep these vehicles behind but not too far from your front lines, so that they can drive to wherever they are needed. Use engineers to repair your vehicles constantly and re-plant minefields. Other infantry units are less useful against Panzer Elite forces - so you may want to use a less infantry-centric force on the defensive. Ranger Squads are the exception, as they can often knock out enemy light vehicles rather easily. The M3 Halftrack and M8 Armored Car are some of your best assets
Whenever the enemy makes an attack, meet him with just enough force to repel or destroy that attack. Try not to lose any units and never over-respond - that's what the enemy hopes you will do. If the enemy retreats - let him. Panzer Elites don't really care whether they lose a few units, so a retreating enemy is either trying to pull you into a trap, or is only a decoy to distract you from a second, more significant attack elsewhere along your lines.
If you have units with a good detection radius, especially camouflage and mine detection, have them constantly patrolling throughout your territory. This will allow you to detect traps the enemy may have installed in your own lands - like Butterfly Bombs - and detect hidden enemy units performing subterfuge.
Never attack the Panzer Elite's sectors with small units. A small infantry unit attempting to quickly steal territory from the enemy will soon meet a Armored Car or a Wirbelwind Flakpanzer, or could run into Butterfly Bombs, Mines or even Booby Traps. Even if the unit is not totally destroyed, it's still a waste.
Instead, attack in force, and expect the enemy to respond in force to each attack you make. You can set traps by attacking with a small force, drawing in Panzer Elite mobile defense units, and then encircling and destroying those units with the remainder of your force.
Again, never assume that you can follow this up by driving deeper into enemy territory: confine yourself to the immediate goal, such as grabbing a Strategic Sector from the enemy. Once you've achieved that goal, immediately arrange your units to defend your new acquisition! Small gains like these are far more likely to succeed than all-out offensives. One by one you can drive the enemy back and hurt his economy while significantly strengthening your own.
Always remember the option to withdraw your units back behind the lines. Do whatever you can to preserve your own units, even if it means pulling forces back in the middle of an attack. Enemy units are easily destroyed, but are also easily replaced, while your own units are harder to destroy and harder to replace. If you can keep your units alive and repair them constantly, you will stay one step ahead of the Panzer Elite in the long-run.
Know your Enemy
It is extremely important to figure out which Command Tree the Panzer Elite commander has chosen. It will influence his entire strategy, and you must compensate as required.
Scorched Earth Tactics
- You'll learn your enemy is using Scorched Earth Tactics the hard way: the first time your units attempt to capture a Strategic Point or a building, and instead trigger a booby trap.
- If this Command Tree is in use, you'll need to back up every assault you make on enemy lands. Two or three Infantry units may be required in each assault, to ensure that at least some remain alive to actually capture the target sectors. Engineer Squads should be used for restoring Scorched Strategic Points to operational status.
- Note that this Command Tree gives your enemy his only Artillery assets - and they are very powerful. You may wish to build your own artillery to perform counter-battery strikes. Look out of Hummel Self Propelled Artillery, and wipe it out quickly if you can. Sector Artillery will also make your life miserable.
- If the enemy is using Luftwaffe Tactics, you can expect plenty of anti-infantry firepower to appear in the form of Flakvierling 38 20mm AA guns, Wirbelwind Flakpanzers and Butterfly Bombs. Therefore, do not rely on infantry as much as you normally would, since they'll get decimated. Strengthen your armor instead.
- Keep an eye out for camouflaged enemy Kettenkrads and tighten your defensive patrols. You may even want to perform forward reconnaissance with "cheap" fast units just to spot these. At the same time, these forward patrol units will serve as bait for enemy 88mm Flak 36 AT/AA guns, which can be targeted with your own artillery once they reveal their position.
- You need to also be aware of Fallschirmjäger Squads, which can deploy behind your forces and make a lot of damage to your defensive lines. To prevent this situation from happening, try to plant mines near entrances of buildings, where they can show themselves. Another way is to use demolition charges. Once you see them deploying in a building, detonate the charge, and maybe you will be able to kill whole squad at once. You can also convert a structure into a forward barracks, or destroy it through AT gun fire, to prevent infiltration completely.
Tank Destroyer Tactics
- This is often considered the most dangerous Command Tree. For one, you may not even realize your enemy has selected this tree until you spot a Hetzer tank, and by that point you are already facing serious danger. If you do not defeat your enemy quickly, he may call in a Jagdpanther tank, which could be very difficult to stop.
- Invest in anti-tank infantry and AT guns, light units, and very heavy defenses. A few tanks may be necessary, but they will make perfect targets for the enemy's enhanced anti-tank capabilities. Build your defenses in layers to stop the enemy's onslaughts. In fact, if you don't think you can win before a Jagdpanther appears, forget expansion and concentrate heavily on defenses.
- If the enemy deploys a Jagdpanther, take out its support units first! The tank itself is very dangerous, but only when escorted. Once you can clear away some of its support, surround it with anti-tank infantry and shoot at its weaker backside. Once the tank is destroyed, shell the wreck with as much firepower as you have left to prevent it being restored by a Bergetiger.
Operation Market Garden
During this campaign, the Panzer Elite faction represents Kampfgruppe Lehr - an amalgamation of two real-world Wehrmacht elite armor/mechanized divisions. It is commanded by Major general Voss (whose past achievements are explored in Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor), and the two Berger brothers Aldrich and Wolgang. While on training in the Netherlands, the division is thrust into combat as the Allies attempt to invade the country to control several bridges leading straight over the Rhine and into German soil.
The campaign begins with Kampfgruppe Lehr performing a routine combat exercise for newly-recruited Volksgrenadiers near the town of Wolfheze, near Arnhem in the northern Netherlands. Before the exercise can begin, numerous aircraft begin dropping British commandos and light vehicles across the entire area. With all communications cut off, the Kampfgruppe Lehr division mobilizes to repel the invaders. During the battle, documents detailing a massive airborne invasion of the Netherlands prompts the division to prepare for a full-on Allied armor breakthrough coming up from Belgium. (In fact, the Kampfgruppe von Tettau took part in the battle of Wolfheze, with old captured French tanks as armor.)
Kampfgruppe Lehr retreats towards Oosterbeek, where they destroy a bridge leading towards Arnhem. They then take up positions and block a British commando advance towards Arnhem. With the route denied to the enemy, the division moves south to block the British 30th Armored Corps from advancing up from Belgium. They clear the town of Valkenswaard situated on Highway 69, and proceed to hold off an entire 30th corps advance coming up the road, thanks to heavy artillery and Luftwaffe aircraft support.
Part of 30th Corps diverts from the highway to attempt a crossing over the Wilhelmina Canal at Best. Kampfgruppe Lehr moves to intercepts them by destroying the bridge over the canal, but its forward elements are ambushed by American airborne units from the 101st division. Nonetheless, they manage to bring in two Pioneers to destroy the bridge before the enemy can cross, leaving 30th corps stranded on the other side.
Meanwhile, the northern element of Kampfgruppe Lehr is entangled in a difficult attempt to root out British commandos holding the northern side of the bridge over the Rhine river at Arnhem. Desperate to prevent the enemy from crossing into German soil, the Panzer Elite field a King Tiger. The commandos, on the other hand, use captured German weapons, including 88mm Flak 36 AT/AA guns and Nebelwerfers. Kampfgruppe Lehr manages to destroy several supply boats docked at the riverside, and then destroys the British command posts just as the lead elements of 30th Corps cross the bridge. Taking this bridge represents the turning point in the campaign, denying the Allies a safe route into Germany, and allowing Kampfgruppe Lehr to begin pushing the enemy out of the Netherlands.
The southern Kampfgruppe Lehr section re-takes Valkenswaard by destroying the British 30th Corps headquarters set up there, leaving the enemy's armored division in chaos and surrounded. Meanwhile, the northern section of the division holds off a last counter-attack by British paratroopers against their blocking position at Oosterbeek, finally re-taking the town from the American paratroopers that have been holding it since the early portion of the campaign. With this task accomplished, all remaining opposition inside the Netherlands capitulates, ending the campaign.
Historically, the Germans managed to hold the Rhine for another 6 months. On March 1945, the Allies crossed the river into German soil. By this point the German army was incapable of resisting the advance, and in two months it surrendered - after the Russians captured Berlin.