Unit types in Company of Heroes 2 vary radically in their battlefield uses, and this is especially true for team weapons like Mortars. The Mortar is not merely an infantry squad with increased effectiveness against certain targets, it is a long-range fire-support unit that is unable to strike nearby units, cannot fire while moving, and struggles to hit moving targets. All Mortar units have access to the Smoke Barrage ability that players can use to take advantage of the new TrueSight system.
Unit Tactics: Mortar Team
As the weapon team tutorial teaches you, Mortars work well when paired with Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) to do damage to suppressed or pinned units. Mortars have more uses than this, though.
- If your opponent has an HMG in a troublesome position, fire a smoke barrage in front of the HMG and charge it with infantry—you’ll be able to run past and flank the HMG before it can attack your squad.
- Do you have a damaged vehicle attempting to limp away while an Anti-tank (AT) gun fires at it? Fire a smoke barrage somewhere between the vehicle and the AT gun to stop the attack.
- Is your opponent harassing a nearby sector? Use the standard barrage ability and hopefully force the infantry squad to Retreat.
- Did you opponent place an HMG in a building? Hammer the building with steady fire until the HMG leaves or the building is completely destroyed.
- Is there a blizzard? Aim a barrage at nearby Campfires in sectors controlled by your enemy—there are likely units clumped near the fire, and destroying the Campfires is useful in itself.
Mortars are highly effective against light vehicles like Scout Cars and Half-tracks, assuming they stay still long enough to be hit. If you throw an AT grenade with a Conscript squad or fire a Panzerfaust with a Grenadier squad, you’ll invariably damage the target vehicle’s engine. You can follow this up with a Mortar barrage just behind the vehicle so that it will slowly drive through as it attempts to get away. It’s also a good idea to use the Mortar against vehicles being repaired by Engineers or Pioneers, as your opponent is less likely to dodge the shots, and even just forcing the repairing unit to Retreat is a victory.
Mortars are a force multiplier, but unlike most fire support units, Mortars can turn the tide in fights at multiple areas around the map at once. A well-placed Mortar will have several sectors within its range and it can immediately begin dropping shells onto enemy units without needing to move into position like a Sniper.
Mortars were very good at attacking static or slow-moving targets, like infantry. Advancing infantry move at relatively predictable rates and bursts of speed cannot be maintained for very long. Infantry also have few places to hide; the Mortar’s high angle trajectory is able to plunge down behind cover, or if the soldier in question is particularly unlucky, score a direct hit into a foxhole.
TrueSight and Smoke
The Mortar’s Smoke Barrage is a powerful ability due to TrueSight. Why? I’ll explain through a few potential uses:
- Fire smoke at an enemy HMG or AT gun to obscure its vision while you directly attack it with infantry or vehicles.
- Fire smoke at one of your damaged vehicles to aid in its escape.
- Fire smoke at a suppressed or pinned infantry squad to remove those conditions.
- Fire smoke between cover locations to allow your Sniper to get into a better position safely.
- Fire smoke at a building entrance to allow your HMG to garrison it without nearby enemies noticing your approach.
- Fire smoke just behind one of your vehicles engaged with another vehicle to allow Pioneers or Engineers to repair without being targeted.
- Fire smoke at a point to allow its capture without your unit being pinned by an HMG or damaged by other nearby enemies.
- Fire smoke to conceal your Pioneers or Engineers who are laying mines.
As you may notice, many of these uses relate to protecting a unit that your opponent is aware of, but smoke can also be used to engage in information warfare. Once players become more accustomed to using Smoke Barrage to protect their units offensively or defensively, yet another use for it will emerge: Fire smoke at a location for no reason whatsoever apart from making your opponent believe you’re doing something there. Perhaps he’ll think you’re repositioning a team weapon or Sniper, laying a mine, or readying an assault.