In which I go over the use of informational warfare in the Ooarai vs. Saunders match. That drone could have decided that match. And in a way, it did.
The match starts off with the M3 Lee scouting in a forest in what seems to be the right flank. They see a group of enemy Shermans cresting a hill, and decide to go and bait them. This plan quickly turns south as they instead discover that they are flanked. All of a sudden M3 lee is stuck in a 6 on 1 situation with a disadvantaged position.
Obviously the Lee is quick to run, especially with the PzIV and Type 89 coming to lend assistance. I’d like to note here that none of the shermans are being very smart, as their shots continue to go wild. Honestly if a couple stopped to lay their guns properly the M3 Lee would probably have been knocked out. (there didn’t seem to be enough cover in the forest for them to need to chase too closely, otherwise the Lee would probably have had to be more careful in its driving)
Unfortunately the assisting tanks also run into resistance in the form of three Shermans, one of which is the Firefly. Being completely disadvantaged as they’re facing 9 tanks in the forest, Miho wisely decides to run wholesale.
It’s good to note that at this point you already know that Ooarai’s comms are being tapped. This explains Saunders’ odd dedication to killing that M3, and although they go on about it being unfair, I honestly think if you can do it, go for it. It’s a smart decision and really if you don’t encrypt your messages on the field you’re kind of asking for it.
At any rate, their tapper knows exactly what Miho wants to do, and sends two Shermans to cut them off. Faced with two tanks in front and 7 in the back, Miho gets real brave (although it was the best thing to do at the time, I believe) and drives straight at the smaller group, hoping to at once throw off the aim of the shermans ahead of them, and stop the shermans behind them from shooting as there’s friendlies in the midst.
The frontward shermans fire, but only manage to score a glancing hit on the Lee, while the rearward shermans continue to not bother to properly aim their guns. Miho’s plan works, and her group manages to put the two shermans between them and their chasers.
Now, I personally don’t like to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I would take what opportunities are given to me. This moment here is the perfect chance to pause a bit and shoot some shermans in the butt, where even Miho’s guns can pen their armor. It would take some serious brass balls to do this, as the big group is still giving chase, but given enough skills, the shermans you’re attacking would block off any shots, and continue to do so even when they’re smoldering wrecks. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to occur to her, as Miho seems pretty concentrated on booking it out of that situation as fast as she can, which is understandable seeing how bad that situation was, mind you.
I’d also like to say that I have no idea what the Shermans that went to cut her off were doing. I’m not sure if they were bots or what, but if you notice the group that you have surrounded charging you and you want them knocked out, you either shoot to break their tracks (thus immobilizing them), or you back up and try to keep them in front of you while you shoot, keeping the net intact. Instead they keep rolling forward blindly like they’re asleep, letting Miho and the others get away.
Now that Miho’s gotten a breather, she finally realizes what’s going on. It’s funny that she shushes hana like they can hear everything they say. They’ve only tapped the radio, right? Anyway, she decides to get smart and use this to her advantage…
Miho has the Ooarai team communicate through texting (something the germans in WWII only wish they could have) and uses her radio comms to manipulate Saunders exactly where she wants.
With several shermans on the way, Ooarai springs the bait, a Type 89 with branches tied to it to raise dust. A good decision, seeing as how the type 89 has the worst gun on the team and aside from scouting really doesn’t have any other use in this match.
With the type 89 leading the others away, Miho continues to feed Saunders bogus info, causing them to direct two shermans directly into a trap.
The entire team opens fire on one of the shermans knocking it out. Unfortunately, the second manages to scurry away from the killzone. This was due to bad target designation. From the side, the StuG is more than enough to knock out a Sherman. I’d have ordered the rest of the tanks to knock out the second tanks tracks so the StuG could take another shot. If one isn’t confident that the StuG can take out that first Sherman in one shot, split up your fire so that you can try to break the tracks of both shermans.
I honestly wonder how Arisa (Saunders’ tapper) still trusts that radio info, seeing how spectacularly it failed her the first time, but now she sends her entire force on a wild goose chase. If it hasn’t been obvious already, Saunders’ overconfidence in their informational “advantage” leads to their downfall.
Over in the Ooarai side of things, Miho makes some good guesses as to Saunders’ strategy. Usually I’d question sending your entire force out on a hunch, but depending on the size of the field and given the difference in force strength one might as well.
Miho’s intuition proves right on the money as the Type 89 proceeds to have a very awkward meeting with the flag tank, a 76mm M4a1.
Correctly concluding that they needed to run away, the Type 89 turns right around and flees. Arisa, however, in her infinite anti-wisdom, throws some hotheaded remarks out the window and chases after them.
Right off the bat Arisa makes a mistake as one of her crew members asks if they should contact the rest of their team and she declines, thinking that the M4a1 is enough to take out a type 89.
She’d be correct too, at least normally, which is why I don’t fault her for chasing the damn thing. Given the almost depressing difference in tank abilities, it’s natural to think you’d be able to take on the type 89 by yourself. Sadly, this is a team game, and that lone wolf shit don’t fly.
I already know the M4a1 won’t hit anything when they do the same thing as the other Shermans in the forest and shoot on the move. I don’t care how good a gunner you think you are, you are more accurate when you stand still, and given open road and a relatively slow target, I would have sat and aimed.
The type does something really interesting though, as the crewman sitting outside the tank (I would normally call them out for being stupid, but this is great) acts as the smoke launcher they don’t have and uses her volleyball skillz to spike a smoke round at the m4a1.
At this point, while I would not necessarily have realized they were up to something, I would probably have given up, especially if they were keeping me blind like the Type was doing. It’s all good to chase a weak link, but never go too far, as that’s probably a trap (not to mention you might drive into a tree or something while blind). This doesn’t occur to Arisa though, as she spouts some hotheaded remark (she does this all episode. Arisa’d give Momo a run for her money) and even gets her crew to shoot the machine gun in her attempt to end the type. Usually I’d laugh, but with the type’s armor even that is dangerous.
The type leads the M4a1 to a clearing where the rest of the Ooarai team is in wait. When the smoke clears, Arisa finally realizes she was had, and finally calls for help while hightailing it out of the clearing. Too little too late though, as ooarai is on the chase and they have her dead to rights.
At this point it becomes clear that Arisa’s radio interception was not approved by her captain. What? I think this was the first failing of their plan, as Kei moved to Arisa’s orders without knowledge of their source. If she had known, they probably would have coordinated better, and probably not fallen for Ooarai’s tricks (as much). Unfortunately, Kei also doesn’t approve of radio interception in the name of fair play or some such thing. I dunno, I’d use it if I could.
Arisa’s use of radio interception really backfires here, as Kei, in the interest of fair play, only takes half of her force to help their beleaguered flag tank. I have no doubt in my mind that if she took all her tanks with her Ooarai would have lost.
Anyway, Ooarai gives chase to the A1, firing on the move as well (I still maintain it’s a mistake for all of them to be doing this, especially the stug, but the Sherman is a faster tank, so I dunno). Eventually, the Saunders relief force appears on the horizon. Here, the firefly finally makes its big entrance. With a huge report, it fires its 17pdr, warning everyone to shit themselves now while they have the chance.
Now that they’ve joined the chase, it’s turned into a rather odd congo line of M4a1 running from ooarai running from the rest of Saunders. (btw love the saunders lol America bgm themes)
Normally I’d advise against putting all your eggs in one basket, but Ooarai kind of doesn’t have a choice. However, now that Miho’s knee deep in her own plan, she tries to split up her forces to deal with the chasing Shermans. This rings of a mistake to me as although I understand the need for a meat shield in the back, they should have kept their guns pointed at the prize in order to increase the chances of an earlier knockout, especially since they have almost no chance of knocking out a Sherman from the front.
The firefly decides to make itself known. Chewing gum and shooting like she’s in some sort of western, Naomi shows her gunning chops by doing what every other tanker this episode couldn’t, knocking out not one, but two tanks while on the move. If she’s not this show’s master gunner, Ooarai is going to get very sad.
This is where the mistake of leaving half her force behind rears its ugly head. They fail to capitalize on this demoralizing moment. I’m pretty sure if they had all 9 tanks with them sheer weight of fire would have brought the rest of them down, but that was not to be.
With most of their meat shield knocked out, Ooarai assumes a line formation to protect their flag tank. What baffles me about this is that the StuG, the one tank with a dangerous gun, the most accurate gun, and the tank that doesn’t have a turret, is in back. Especially since the one in back is most likely to get knocked out. I guess it could just shift to one side and fire, but wow that seems inefficient.
This doesn’t bite them on the ass though (it’s a minor nitpick anyway), as by a stroke of luck they see a hill and a bend. In a last ditch effort, Miho decides to bet it all on a snipe from the hill. Though why the stug (with the more reliable gun) didn’t do it confuses me as well.
Kei sees this, and warns Arisa. One could chalk it up to faith in their firefly, but the fact that Arisa didn’t move away from the hill strikes me as odd.
At any rate, someone finally stops to take a shot, and of all people it’s the firefly. Miho’s in real danger, but through a bout of some sort of spidey sense she gets the PzIV to swerve just right, causing the Firefly to miss.
This frees up the PzIV to line up a shot on their reload. Needless to say, the tension filled moment passes when Hana paints the Sherman right in its engine block, winning the match for Ooarai at the cost of the PzIV.
All in all, this battle was really just a bunch of smart decisions and great plays on Miho’s part, and a crippling overconfidence, a lack of communication, and a couple big mistakes of Saunders’ (mainly Arisa’s) part.
At any rate, this completes my analysis of the Ooarai vs. Saunders battle. I really look forward to how they do these fights in the future.
PS: What the heck was stopping Arisa from going that way?