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As soon as the flanking T-34s finally manage to suppress and take out the first anti-tank guns, enemy reinforcements appear on the map - tanks! Luckily, it's none of the formidable German heavy tanks like the Tiger or Panther, but some older pre-war models, lightly armed and no real threat for the T-34s.
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Nevertheless, the T-34s lose no time and engage the enemy armored units. Since TOW is using a full blown physics engine to track hits and effects of nearly every shell and bullet, anything with a gun on it can become dangerous - and even a lucky MG round can damage a tank system or even immobilize it, which can be just as effective as destroying a tank.
It is especially in tank duels (and even more so if the tank duels are not as uneven as this one) when the ability to set a high, medium or low aim point can become very useful. With this feature in TOW you can instruct your own tanks and guns to target specific weak points of the enemy armor. Some units might have strong turrets and hulls but be vulnerable to hits on their tracks (sometimes the only way to at least immobilize a tank; but an immobile tank is often almost as good as a dead tank), for example.
Of course this feature is more useful for short engagement ranges.
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But the biggest danger still comes from the remaining anti-tank guns.
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Luckily my tank crews shrug off several close hits which fail to penetrate or cause bigger damage (except for a short panic attack on my part), and one by one the anti-tank guns are silenced by the T-34 supporting each other with fire.
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When you order a unit to Target an enemy, that unit will not only begin firing, but will also enter into "Attack" mode. This includes moving into a better firing position, getting a better line of sight or otherwise moving into a better position to destroy the enemy - all done automatically by the unit you have ordered into attack. For tanks and other types of units, this can be a useful command to order it to fire from short halts while closing with the enemy.
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Another nice feature is the "first person view" available in TOW. By clicking on a unit and pressing the ENTER key, the camera jumps to the eye level of the selected unit and allows you to explore the battlefield from this unique perspective. In the case of a tank, you see the battlefield from the perspective of the tank commander.
The above shot is taken just after an anti-tank shell left the barrel and the enemy tank burst into flames in the background.
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The burning German tank. Its crew is fleeing in the background.
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It doesn't take long until the second tank is history, and its crew bails out, too.
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With the two enemy tanks disabled and the anti-tank guns silenced, we order the supporting light tank and remaining infantry forward...
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...and also order the T-34 medium tanks forward to close-assault the trenches.
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And I mean this literally!
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The enemy soldiers from the second trench storm forward to counterattack, but are cut down by aimed MG fire from the T-34s.
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Ordering Area Fire while selecting high-explosive rounds to be loaded (a simple left-click on the corresponding ammo icon achieves this after a short delay which the loader needs to load the appropriate round into the chamber) provides lethal.
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Only a small handful of survivors manages to esape the fray.
With this, we complete the second training mission. We have learned how to close assault enemy fortified positions using combined arms of infantry and armor, using a flanking maneuver while keeping up frontal pressure, using speed and mobility of a tank and not treating it just like an immobile pillbox. We have learned how to execute a "bounding overwatch" maneuver using two squads with tank support, and how to combine movement types, stances and formations to achieve the best results. All of these
basics merely scratching the surface of proper military combat tactics, but they will provide a solid framework to build upon during your own campaigns in the game.
In the next article of this series, we will explore defensive tactics, and how to prevent an enemy from overrunning your own fortified positions.
Martin van Balkom
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