The Scorched Earth Tactics Command Tree is one of the three Panzer Elite command trees. This tree enables the use of insidious methods to deny the use of on-map assets to all sides in the conflict, by way of booby traps, road blocks and the wanton destruction of Resource Points. In addition, it provides the Panzer Elite with valuable and powerful off-map and field artillery they do not possess otherwise at all.
During Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Soviet troops were instructed to use the age-old strategy of destroying any useful asset or land from which they were forced to withdraw, known as "Scorched Earth". This laid waste to their own motherland, but denied its use to the advancing German army. The Germans themselves later adopted the same technique, available to the Panzer Elite army in Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts.
The Scorched Earth Tactics doctrine allows the Panzer Elite's core infantry, the Panzer Grenadiers to carry out this strategy, denying the natural assets present on the combat map to their Allied enemies. They can plant Booby Traps inside buildings, set to detonate if enemy troops try to garrison them. They can also Booby Trap Resource Points to kill enemy units attempting to retake them. With the Scorched Earth ability they can disable entire sectors if they wish, working on the assumption that if the Panzer Elite cannot hold a territory, neither should the enemy. They can even set up massive Roadblocks to prevent all enemy units from traversing major pathways, diverting them into pre-arranged killing zones instead.
Although this work is carried out primarily by the Panzer Grenadiers, even the Kettenkrads (essentially non-combat support vehicles) can take part in this insidious activity. This gives them an extra importance on the field, rushing about to plant explosives wherever they can to prevent the enemy's advance at all costs.
Additionally to this, the Scorched Earth Tactics Command Tree makes available two different types of artillery. The Sector Artillery ability allows a powerful off-map artillery unit to monitor a specific area and accurately bombard any enemies trying to enter it. The Hummel Self-Propelled Artillery allows calling in one of the most powerful artillery units in the game, and mobile to boot. These are the only two artillery options available to the Panzer Elite, and can radically alter the balance of power on the battle map.
Command Tree StructureEdit
Scorched Earth Tactics
|Area Denial||Scorched Earth|
|Booby Trap Building||Roadblocks|
|Allows Panzer Grenadiers and their derivatives to set a bomb inside a neutral building. The bomb will only detonate if enemy infantry attempt to garrison that building, and will likely kill one or more of them.||Allows Panzer Grenadiers and their derivatives to erect large Road Blocks - obstacles that prevent movement by any vehicle, and cannot be crushed. The enemy must either spend time destroying these, or seek another route; preferably one leading straight into a Panzer Elite ambush.|
|Booby Trap Strategic Point||Scorched Earth|
|Allows Panzer Grenadiers and their derivatives to set an incendiary bomb on a non-enemy-controlled Strategic Point, which will only detonate if enemy infantry attempt to grab that point. Kettenkrads, already able to do this, can now do so much more often thanks to reduced cooldown times.||Allows Panzer Grenadiers and their derivatives to completely disable a strategic point, rendering it unusable. Neither side can capture that point without first sending engineering units in to repair it - a long and tedious process.|
|Sector Artillery||Hummel Self-Propelled Artillery|
|Allows targeting a non-enemy sector for off-map artillery fire. For the duration of the effect, any enemy unit spotted within that sector's boundaries will be continously bombarded by a slow but accurate artillery volley, until it is destroyed or disappears from sight.||Allows calling in a Hummel Self Propelled Artillery vehicle. This is a mobile artillery piece which fires very powerful high-explosive shells. It has good range, and can temporarily trade mobility for even more range and a faster firing rate.|
- Total price: 12 Command Points
The Scorched Earth Tactics Command Tree is split into two branches: Area Denial and Scorched Earth. Each has three Command Upgrades to purchase, which must be bought in a specific order.
Area Denial BranchEdit
The Area Denial Branch specializes in preventing enemies from acquiring control of particular assets of the map, starting with specific buildings that the enemy may want to garrison, and ending with entire sectors. First, it allows Panzer Grenadiers to booby-trap buildings and Strategic Points, with bombs that detonate whenever enemy infantry try to take control of those assets. It also allows the Kettenkrads to plant booby-traps at a higher frequency.
Finally, this branch enables the Sector Artillery ability, which allows protecting an entire sector by bombarding any enemy unit that dares enter.
Booby Trap BuildingEdit
- Price: 1 Command Point
- The Booby Trap Building Command Upgrade unlocks a new ability for the Panzer Grenadiers, Tank Buster Heavy Infantry and Assault Grenadier Heavy Infantry. This new ability is simply called Booby Trap.
- When used on a neutral structure, the Grenadiers will move inside and install two booby-trapped explosives. These explosives are set to trigger whenever enemy infantry attempt to garrison the building. It will not trigger when friendly units do so.
- Upon triggering the device, all players will receive notification of a booby trap going off. A few seconds later, both charges detonate with some force, potentially taking out one or more infantrymen each. The radius of the blast, 3 meters, may kill more than one enemy infantryman. The building itself will not be severely damaged, and can be booby-trapped again if you wish.
- It is best to use this ability on a structure that the enemy is likely to try and occupy. Particularly, buildings with high strategic value are the best targets, such as tall buildings overlooking a passageway or large buildings capable of serving as forward command posts for the enemy.
- Although the explosion is relatively weak, and won't usually kill an entire infantry unit, it is free to install and the cooldown is low, meaning that Grenadiers can often booby-trap a large number of buildings, causing the enemy to be very cautious about where he garrisons his troops - and costing him a hundred manpower points or so each time he fails to get his infantry back out with haste.
Booby Trap Strategic PointEdit
- Price: 1 Command Point
- With this Command Upgrade purchased, the Booby Trap ability of Panzer Grenadiers, Tank Buster Heavy Infantry and Assault Grenadier Heavy Infantry is improved, allowing them to booby-trap neutral or friendly Strategic Points.
- When used, this ability installs an incendiary explosive charge on the targeted strategic point. Friendly units may capture this point freely if it is still neutral, but enemy troops attempting to take that point will trigger the device.
- Upon triggering, all players will receive notification of a booby trap going off. A few seconds later, the bomb will explode, showering flammable liquid within a small area. This liquid will then burn for about a dozen seconds, doing continuous damage to any unit that does not rapidly move out of the fire.
- Since points are often captured by infantry, the resulting flames will likely kill the unit that came to take the point, assuming its controlling player hasn't reacted quickly enough to avoid the fire. If the soldiers were bunched up closely at the time of detonation, the entire unit might be wiped out.
- This ability is free to use, and with it your infantry can ensure that enemy units coming to take neutral or friendly sectors are in for a surprise. At the very least, it will prevent the enemy from coming close to the Strategic Point (which is now ablaze) for a few more seconds, enough time for you to dispatch a mobile defense unit to eradicate them. At best, it will kill your enemy's infantrymen, costing him a great deal of manpower to replace the dead unit - at no cost to yourself.
- Finally, note that your infantry can still booby-trap buildings as they did before (see above).
- The Booby Trap Strategic Point Command Upgrade also improves the Booby Trap ability of Kettenkrads, reducing its cooldown timer to a mere 24 seconds. With this ability, the Kettenkrads can run around your territory, booby-trapping every sector you control very quickly, and re-trapping any points already triggered by enemies. This will make it virtually impossible for the enemy to steal away sectors without dispatching an entire force to secure the resource point.
- Price: 3 Command Points
- The Sector Artillery Command Ability is the only "true" off-map artillery available to the Panzer Elite (aside from Luftwaffe Tactics air-strikes). Unlike other factions' off-map artillery, it is in fact a continuous, automatic bombardment meant to dissuade enemies from entering a specific sector.
- This ability is activated for the price of 200, and may be targeted at any friendly or neutral sector. At least a portion of that sector must be visible (i.e. not in the Fog-of-War) in order to be targeted.
- When the sector is selected, the entire area of that sector is highlighted on the Mini-Map and Tactical Map to indicate that it is targeted for Sector Artillery operations. All players can see this highlight.
- For the next 130 seconds, whenever an enemy unit is seen moving through the targeted sector, a single accurate shell will be fired at it by the off-map artillery. The shells themselves are identical to the American Off-Map artillery's, causing between 100 and 130 points of damage to any target within 7 meters of the impact point. This is easily enough to kill infantry. Some vehicles (including all American and Wehrmacht vehicles) receive double damage.
- After a shell is fired, the off-map artillery will take 10 seconds to reload, and then will look for any other visible enemy unit in the target sector. This process is repeated for the entire 130-second duration of the effect. If no targets are visible, the artillery will not fire. Note that enemy units inside the targeted sector which are also invisible (i.e. camouflaged or in the Fog-of-War) will not be targeted unless they become visible.
- This ability has a cooldown of 130 seconds, meaning that only one Sector Artillery can be active at any given time.
- Also note that although the mini-map and tactical map will show a circular icon to indicate that a sector artillery barrage is in progress, the area-of-effect of this ability applies to the boundaries of the sector, not to any sort of circular target area as indicated!
- The use of this ability can dissuade an enemy from entering a neutral sector, or from attempting to invade your own sector. Since the targeted sector is highlighted on the map for all players to see, this can be used as a "signal" to the enemy: "do not enter here!". Whether the enemy decides to risk it or not, this still reduces the chance of an enemy attack on the sector, thereby relieving the pressure on that specific part of the map. If the enemy does decide to invade there, he will suffer the consequences.
Scorched Earth BranchEdit
The Scorched Earth Branch specializes in destruction of map assets or denying them to all players. It enables construction of an un-crushable set of Tank Traps called "Road Blocks", the temporary disabling of a Strategic Point, and the introduction of one of the most powerful mobile artillery units in the game: the Hummel Self Propelled Artillery unit.
- Price: 1 Command Point
- When this Command Upgrade is purchased, your Panzer Grenadiers, Tank Buster Heavy Infantry and Assault Grenadier Heavy Infantry all receive two new construction options. They can now build Barbed Wire and a unique type of obstacle called Road Blocks.
- Barbed Wire is a common defensive obstacle that many factions can construct. It is essentially a line of concertina wire that will prevent movement by infantry. Infantry units cannot pass through, and must go around the obstacle if they wish to get to the other side.
- Some engineering units have the ability to cut through this wire, and most vehicles can drive straight through it unimpeded, destroying the wire entirely. It is best placed to close off small passageways through which infantry can try to infiltrate your territory. Along main roads, expect some enemy vehicle (or your own) to crush the wire.
- Road Blocks are a set of specialized Tank Traps - obstacles that block movement for vehicles. However while normal Tank Traps can be crushed by heavy vehicles or specialized engineering units (like the M4 Crocodile Sherman with the Bulldozer upgrade), Road Blocks cannot be crushed at all. They can only be removed by attacking them directly, and are reasonably good at withstanding heavy firepower. Road Blocks are only available to the Panzer Elite.
- Both of these obstacles are free to construct. Most often, a line of Road Blocks will be laid in front of a line of Barbed Wire. That way, enemy vehicles cannot drive over the wire since they would need to get through the Road Blocks first. Therefore the enemy has to seek some other way around the obstacles, hopefully choosing a path that leads straight into an ambush by Panzer Elite units. The only alternative is to destroy the Road Blocks, a process which could take some time even with heavy firepower.
- Use these obstacles to deny movement through a certain area, or to "reroute" the enemy into your killzones.
- Price: 3 Command Points
- When the Scorched Earth Command Upgrade is purchased, your Panzer Grenadiers, Tank Buster Heavy Infantry and Assault Grenadier Heavy Infantry receive a new ability (also called "Scorched Earth"). This ability may be used to completely disable a Strategic Point.
- When used, your infantry will move to the targeted Strategic Point and blow it up immediately upon reaching it. As a result, that point is rendered permanently neutral.
- If you or your enemy wish to capture that point later in the game, it must first be restored to operational status, a process requiring an engineering unit (like Panzer Grenadiers, Engineer Squad, Pioneer Squad etc.). This process takes no less than 40 seconds to complete, and when it's done the target point is still neutral, but can now be captured as normal.
- This ability epitomizes the Scorched Earth strategy: if you can't have a Strategic Point, why should your enemy have it? The best application for this ability is when your soldiers retreat from a strategic point in the face of enemy opposition. Instead of just letting the enemy waltz in and take the point, destroying it will ensure that the enemy has to waste time bring up his engineers to fix that point and then capture it, which can take upwards of a minute.
- During this time you can organize a counter-attack to take that point, knowing that your enemy will not be making any income off that sector, and probably cannot set up any Defensive Structures until he's done repairing the Strategic Point. This is especially useful against the British, who rely on such defensive structures to hold any territory they acquire. If they can't get this done quickly, a Panzer Elite counter-attack can usually dislodge them from the sector quite easily.
- Note that only friendly and neutral Strategic Points can be disabled with this ability. You cannot just waltz into enemy territory and disable their own Strategic Points.
- This use of this ability is completely free.
Hummel Self-Propelled ArtilleryEdit
- Price: 3 Command Points
- This Command Upgrade unlocks a new Command Ability called Hummel 150mm Self-Propelled Howitzer.
- The cost to use this ability is 600, 12. It will call in a single Hummel Self Propelled Artillery unit. You must select a rally point for the Hummel, to which it will drive upon entering the map.
- The Hummel is the only field artillery available to the Panzer Elite, and in accordance with their combat style it is a mobile unit rather than an emplacement. Hummels are medium armored vehicles, and are quite slow, but their attack is a devastating 4-round artillery barrage that packs an extremely powerful punch.
- Hummels can drive around the field, shelling enemy positions and unit concentrations with deadly force. Each shell delivers up to 300 points of damage, in a radius of 8 meters from the impact point. It can flatten enemy Defensive Structures, destroy infantry and light units, and even do considerably damage to armored vehicles and tanks.
- A Hummel can trade its mobility for increased range and firing rate. It may even be able to shell the enemy's base, given the right circumstances, for devastating effect. Its mobility allows it to escape counter-battery fire, if it reacts fast enough, making it more useful than a static emplacement that is always vulnerable to enemy artillery fire.
- The best use for a Hummel is to demolish enemy Defensive Structures, punching a hole through the enemy's line to allow Panzer Elite units to stream into enemy territory. Against the British, the Hummel is almost indispensable!
Each of the three different Command Trees available to the Panzer Elite will upgrade the Kettenkrad light vehicle unit with a specific ability. The Scorched Earth Tactics tree enables the Kettenkrad to Booby Trap Strategic Points.
This ability becomes available as soon as the Scorched Earth Tactics command tree is selected - you do not need to actually purchase any Command Upgrades from the tree in order to unlock this ability.
With this ability, the Kettenkrad can drive up to any friendly or neutral Strategic Point and rig it with an incendiary explosive. This explosive will only be triggered if an enemy unit attempts to capture that Strategic Point. Friendly units can capture the point without triggering the device.
Upon being triggered, all players will receive notification that a booby trap has been activated. A few seconds later, a small explosion will occur at the Strategic Point, which will spray a flammable liquid over a fairly large radius, then ignite it. The fire will burn for a period of about 20 seconds, and will constantly deliver damage to any unit caught within the fire radius until it dies down.
This is an excellent method for preventing enemies from taking a Strategic Sector. Enemy infantry coming to capture the point will die in the conflagration if their controlling player does not react quickly to move them out of the fire, and even if they survive they must wait 20 seconds until the fire is extinguished before being able to approach that point for capture. This gives the Panzer Elites an early warning and allows them to send mobile defense units to kill those infantrymen. In the best-case scenario, the fire will kill the entire infantry team, costing the enemy plenty of Manpower.
When the Booby Trap Strategic Point Command Upgrade is purchased from this command tree, the Kettenkrad's ability is slightly upgraded: it will now have a cooldown period of only 24 seconds. This allows a single Kettenkrad to quickly booby-trap a large number of Strategic Points, and reinstall booby traps on any point that has been triggered. As a result, the enemy will be dissuaded from making small infantry raids to capture your undefended sectors, fearing the loss of his men.