The Flare Path: Welcomes Combative Commenters Again

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The Flare Path’s first attempt at play-by-comment Combat Mission proved rather exciting. Over the course of five days mountains of orders were issued, multiple Shermans were slain, and numerous fingernails were nibbled. I think it’s about time we had a second scrap. Anyone fancy a spot of sandy skirmishing courtesy of the olden-but-golden Combat Mission: Afrika Korps?

The Concept

Just in case you weren’t around for April’s Belgian rumble, here’s how PBC Combat Mission works. Every turn, via a comment along the lines of “Turn 1 orders here, please…” I solicit written instructions for friendly forces (enemy units are AI controlled). Orders are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis with individual commenters only permitted to ‘move’ a single vehicle or infantry squad per turn. One turn SteelGeranium might send the Bren Gun Carrier trundling eastward towards grid square V25, while Chartwell chooses a target for the three-inch mortar and Nichtschießen does something sly with the sniper. During the next order round, SabotBrummel could end-up in charge of the Carrier while Cudjo81 and Brexile do the honours with the mortar and the sharpshooter.

Once the orders are in for all* units, I’ll execute them then return with a brief image-accompanied account of how the subsequent sixty seconds of in-game action played out. Did you manage to sneak the HQ into that wadi without being cut to ribbons by the HMG on the hill? Did your Stuart discover something nasty behind the woodshed? It will all be revealed.

*Occasionally, to keep things moving, I may step in and issue orders for an unpopular or peripheral unit myself.

I can’t promise to process orders instantly – like all GGMs (Groggy Gamemasters) I’ll be taking time out to sleep, eat, stroke the cat, and dabble with recent wargame releases – but, going by Battle of Unnamed Belgian Town With Unusually Short Street Lamps, the drama should unfold at a reasonable lick. Please pop in regularly to check on progress and lend a hand with the Kiwi choreography.

The Challenge

It’s Nineteen-Forty-Something and the Desert War is in full see-saw. Somewhere between Benghazi and the Back of Beyond, an unremarkable hamlet is about to become remarkable for a hundred or so New Zealanders and Italians.

Red areas = high ground. Green areas = wadis.

Approaching from the north-west (don’t ask) the commenter-controlled Kiwis have their sights set on two major 300pt Victory Locations in the village itself (Carp and Kokopu) and four minor 100pt ones (Perch, Grayling, Bully and Salmon) in the surrounding countryside. Approaching from the east, with similar territorial aspirations, is an AI Italian force of unknown size and composition.

If the Allies are going to prevail today the following units will need both luck and good leadership.

At the head of the motorised NZ column is a Bren Carrier carrying the four-man HQ of 1 Platoon. Keeping Lt. Yarham close to his three ten-man squads and support teams in the coming scrap will be beneficial. Units within his command radius (indicated by a red rather than a black command link) will fight more effectively, they’ll be less likely to panic, be harder to spot, and they’ll have shorter order implementation delays.

Those three squads are mounted in three useful but vulnerable trucks at the moment, one of which is also carrying the force’s two-man anti-tank rifle team.

Equipped with two beefy Browning MGs, our White Scout Car could well prove influential. Its armour should shrug off most small arms fire, but will provide little protection against mortar bombs and tank rounds. Talking of mortars, the only artillery available to the Antipodeans is a three-inch example currently packed into the Scout car along with its three operators.

Bringing up the rear of the column is a Portee. It may look ungainly and have some quirky characteristics (Like the Archer TD, it’s designed to reverse into combat positions then speed off when threatened) but its 2-pounder has sufficient punch to deal with most – possibly all – Italian AFVs.

Lastly, there’s your two tanks. Due to mechanical issues, these are running a little late. Expect them to turn up about 5 turns into this 35 turn engagement.

The Venue

(click to enlarge)

Eminently defensible thanks to its scatter of heavy buildings and clusters of dense palms, the village in the centre of the map is your primary objective (Victory locations Carp and Kokopu). More vulnerable are Perch and Grayling, the two VLs on the eastern fringe of the large olive grove north of the village.

Though tanks should be able to move about the grove relatively easily, amongst the trees wheeled vehicles may struggle. Elsewhere the terrain should pose few problems for men or machines. Apart from a few patches of rocks (grey squares in the map above) and clumps of palms (three blue-green squares in village) – areas out-of-bounds to all vehicles – our trucks and tanks can roam almost* wherever they like.

*Walls (the white lines) block trucks.

In terms of sight lines, the battlefield isn’t particularly hard to read. High ground (shaded red on the first map) in the olive grove, means the New Zealanders should be invisible to prying eyes for the moment. Sizeable hills in the SW and SE provide the map’s loftiest vantage points, the wadis (shaded green on the first map) either side of the longitudinal highway, possibilities for unobserved movement.

^Looking SE (Camera over Allied start point)

^Looking NW from the high ground at Salmon

^Centre of map, looking SW (Perch is the VL closest to the camera)

^Centre of map, looking N from the wadi. (VL in centre is Kokopu)

Issuing Orders

You don’t need to understand the intricacies of Combat Mission: Afrika Korps or its order system to participate. Just provide a destination co-ordinate, and perhaps a clue to pace/cautiousness and I’ll do my best to translate your instructions into an in-game order.

Two orders I expect I’ll be using a fair bit are ‘Hunt’ and ‘Move to Contact’. Moved with the former, AFVs will proceed cautiously, stopping to engage targets spotted en-route. Directed with a nuanced version of the latter, advancing infantry will hide at the first glimpse of a threat. If anyone decides to split a 10-man infantry squad (represented on screen with three figures) into two 5-man sections (a potentially sensible step given the Kiwi’s shortage of manpower) then, to reduce the risk of administrative overload, until the squad reforms (done automatically if sections are in close proximity at the end of turn) the Comment Commander that takes responsibility for one section should also shepherd the other.

Newcomers wanting to learn about CMAK, its powerful command options and deep simulation, could do worse than check out the manual and the demo. I’ll do my best to answer questions during the battle, but as it’s been a while since I last indulged, my explanations may not be 100% reliable. Sadly my old graphics mod folder is nowhere to be found, so the pics adorning the following battle narrative won’t show Battlefront’s sun-scorched classic at its very best. Default skins, octagonal wheels and turnip-headed troops await! So too – fingers-crossed – does tension, torridness and triumph.

Good hunting, Comment Commanders!

* * * * *

TURN 1. Stirring up clouds of choking dust, most of the NZ column bee-lines for the village. As the vehicles are still some distance from their destinations when the 60-second turn ends and there’s no sign of threats I click the ‘Go’ button again.

TURN 2.  VL Carp is now in Allied hands. Slightly delayed by a bogged truck, 1 Squad have just dismounted and are making for the VL building. 2 Squad, further east amongst the palms, and soon to be joined by the ATR team, are intent on concealment. Close behind them, the HQ makes itself comfortable under a clump of olive trees.

Just to the north of Carp (to the left in the above pic) the Portee is beginning a turn to the SE, and the mortar is a couple of strides from its destination. 3 Squad (out of shot) wait in the shade of a wall next to the grove entrance at e15.

While there are no Italian units in view yet, ominous dust clouds in the SE and NE suggest they’re on their way.

TURN 3. Tim and tide wait for no man. 2 Squad, the Bren Gun Carrier, and the ATR team must make do with their current positions/orders for the time-being.

TURN 4. As turn 3 ends with no enemies in sight and several movements incomplete, we press on.

On the northern edge of the battlefield the White Scout Car reaches its new position to find its view eastward blocked by a low ridge extending from the olive grove (This feature wasn’t shown on Map 1 but I’m going to put this down to a ‘realistic’ cartographic gaffe. Period maps of North Africa were littered with errors!)

Within the grove, 3 Squad will also need to push further eastward to observe the open ground beyond. Despite cresting the ridge their view is blocked by trees.*

In the village the Portee has reversed round the corner of the building at t14 and now has excellent LoS due east. From its new position it can see the top of Salmon Hill too.

As can the cluster of Kiwi infantry units beyond Carp. 1 Squad are selected in the above shot.

‘Out of command’ and unsighted (a combination of factors which means it can only engage targets it can see) the mortar team’s usefulness is limited at present.

Turn 4 closes with the Italians yet to reveal themselves. The NE dust cloud approaches Bully, while the SE one, last seen heading in the direction of Salmon, seems to have disappeared.

*Trees are abstracted in CMAK and the other ‘CMx1’ titles. Woodland/forest/grove tiles degrade LoS whether trees are visible or not.

TURN 5 almost passes without incident. There’s only a few seconds left on the clock when our White Scout Car, newly arrived on the ridge north of the olive grove, spots Italian infantry on the ridge opposite VL Perch. Brownings bark. The battle has begun.

TURN 6. As the Bren Gun Carrier’s scouting sortie has barely got started, and 3 Squad are still advancing to contact near Perch, Turn 6 is waved through.

Approaching its destination, a low rise at cc19, the Carrier spies enemy infantry and armour to the NE. There are four or five unidentified Italian infantry contacts moving westward  past Bully, and an unidentified armoured car and tank destroyer (?) in the NE seemingly making for Perch. Have the AFVs noticed our squat scurrier? Apparently not, but those buff-coloured blighters certainly have!

On the hill close to Salmon, two Carro Armato L6/40s emerge from the Fog of War and almost immediately unleash volleys. The Carrier’s response is as swift as it is gratifying. As 20mm shells whistle overhead, the tracked scout pops smoke and reverses back the way it came.

In the excitement I almost fail to notice what our ATR team is up to. Moving through the olive grove towards VL Grayling, the weary two-man team glimpses the L6/40s and lets fly at the closest.

A miss.

Unnoticed by their prey, they’re lining up a second shot when the turn ends.

The situation at the end of Turn 6:

The White Scout Car is behind the ridge again (a23) having pulled back after its tentative recon sortie.

A stone’s throw from Perch, 3 Squad are hiding amongst the olive trees. From their position they can see the enemy TD (a Semovente da 47/32) spotted earlier by the Carrier. The AC that was with it has disappeared.

In the village, the HQ, now ensconced in the house at t14, is too far from 1 Squad (x17, hiding) and 2 Squad (w19, hiding) to influence them, but is back in touch with the mortar team at r15.

Tired after their scamper through the olive grove, the ATR team are currently circa s23 firing at the Italian tanks on the hill.

The Portee is waiting for targets to appear in the wedge of terrain visible between Kokopu and the edge of the grove (Anything  close to Salmon may also be in LoS/LoF)

Hidden by smoke and shielded by the rise, the Carrier seems safe from the tanks in the SE for the moment. What’s less clear is whether it’s potential prey for the Semovente once the smoke/dust clears.

Turn 7. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Early on the Bren Gun Carrier caught the attention of the Autoblinda 41 armoured car in the NE. Hit and penetrated several times as it attempted to pivot-turn for a recce to the S, injuries to the driver eventually stopped it in its tracks in full view of the Italian AC.

The gunner got through the onslaught unscathed, but is now seriously rattled. For the moment, our broken, driverless Carrier won’t respond to orders. Its prospects don’t look good.

Meanwhile in the village the Portee was having an altogether better time. At the fourteen second mark, the truck-mounted 2-pounder flung the first of six or seven shells at the lead L6/40 tank on Salmon Hill. Some rounds fells short or flew over the top, but at least three struck steel. When last seen, the Axis war machine was reversing northward with neat holes in its turret and upper hull, and possible damage to its main gun.

What else do I need to tell you? At the end of the turn the HQ is on the edge of the olive grove at t20, with two of its squads – 1 Squad (house at v19) and 2 Squad (s20, enroute to r27) – close-by. Just ahead, and now in command range, is the ATR team who fired several times, apparently without success, during the turn. Slowed by wall clambering, the mortar team are presently at s15 making for the grove corner (t16).

Elsewhere, 3 Squad have eyes on the Autoblinda, an unidentified armour contact (the Semovente?), and four unidentified infantry units heading our way across the open ground between Bully and Grayling. Contact flags around Salmon indicate that that VL is now in enemy hands.

Worryingly, the Portee finishes the turn like this:

One of the L6s on Salmon Hill appears to be in the process of engaging it and our gun truck doesn’t seem to have the LoS necessary to return fire.

TURN 8. During the last sixty seconds the riddled Bren Gun Carrier was fired on by three different Italian AFVs (the Autoblinda, the Semovente, and an L6) yet somehow managed to survive.

Scuttling away from the shots of the Italian AC and TD it headed for the southern end of the small rise only to find itself the target for one of the tanks on the hill near Salmon. It ends the turn in reverse gear, still broken (it won’t take orders) and still in the LoF of its latest tormenter.

Further North the Portee’s tactical withdrawal went smoothly (our gun truck is now sitting behind the house at t14 with views of VL Salmon but little else. The L6s are out of LoS.) The White Scout Car is approaching the village at speed on the western side of the grove.

In the grove, 1 squad has just crossed the central track and is making for the grove edge behind VL Grayling, 2 Squad is hiding at r27, and the crawling ATR team is making very slow progress towards t27. As the mortar team is still struggling to cross the wall at s15, it might be sensible to move it into the grove via an entrance or give it a new destination next turn.

This overhead pic with enlarged units and trees removed should help you visualise the current situation.

Maddeningly, there’s still no sign of the tanks. Surely our luck* must change soon.

*Every turn since turn 5, behind the scenes CMAK has been rolling a dice to determine whether our armour shows up.

TURN 9. The carrier’s luck runs out eight seconds into the turn. Reversing away from one threat it inadvertently exposes itself to another (the Autoblinda) and pays the ultimate price.

As a pillar of smoke rises in the south, in the village the Portee scrutinises Mount Salmon for signs of armour (the L6s are up there, but they’re just out of LoS) while close-by a taxi arrives for the mortar (it will take perhaps half a turn to load its passengers) and the Scout Car pulls up on the roadside at r13.

In the north-west corner of the grove, a truck moves gingerly into the interior. In the south-east, the ATR team (lowest unit in above pic) prepares an ambush, the HQ (selected) moves up, and, near Grayling, 2 Squad nervously fingers its weapons (8 rifles, 1 Thompson, 1 Bren).

A mere 120m to the east of the VL, Italian infantry are picking their way through the stones and dessicated tussocks.

What this overhead battlefield overview image doesn’t show is the two dust-caked Allied AFVs sitting expectantly in the NW corner of the map at the moment.

Our angry houses are here!

Meet Stuart the Stuart III (37mm L/54 main gun, 83HE, 23AP), and Crecy the Crusader Mk II (40mm L/50 main gun, 130AP).

Turn 10. That was unexpected.

A few seconds after starting the turn, two shells were winging their way from the NW corner of the map to the SE corner. The Stuart and the Crusader, glimpsing a mountaineering L6 in the distance, decided to chance their arms. Missed by a country kilometre but spooked, the skedaddling foe was soon hidden from view.

The turn ends with both of the new arrivals still en-route to their start lines. Near Carp, the potentially pivotal mortar has been loaded on a truck and awaits a destination. The Portee and Scout car linger nearby.

In the grove, the re-positioned HQ (selected in the above pic) now has LoS to Salmon, and is close enough to 2 Squad (r29) and 1 Squad (circa r27 – they went to ground after spotting an enemy during their advance) to share its various combat and concealment bonuses with them. 3 Squad remain in hiding near Perch.

This overhead image together with earlier turn summaries should help you make sense of unit positions at the end of turn 10.

TURN 11. Will Stuart the Stuart live to see the end of Turn 12? At the moment I’d say his chances are about 50/50.

While Crecy the Crusader was completing his advance to w12 (just behind the abandoned truck), the portee was reversing between the houses at s14 and t14 (no targets spotted yet) and the mortar truck was taking an eternity to commence its grove dash (for some reason it was subject to a hefty order delay) our Stuart was hurtling towards the NE corner of the grove (a29)

The final few seconds of that hurtle coincided with the final few seconds of the turn. Arriving at the corner Stuart spotted the Autoblinda moving down the road towards VL Grayling, and set about engaging it. His turret traverse complete he was a split-second from spitting his first shell at the unaware AC when, out of a swirling dust cloud on his one-o’clock, emerged two Italian tank destroyers.

The turn ends with the Stuart yet to fire at the AC, the closest TD (a turretless Semovente with a 47mm gun) aligning itself for a shot at the Stuart , and the second TD (type unknown at present) yet to notice the Allied AFV 350m away to the NW.

Overhead battlefield pic, close of turn 11.

Turn 12 was all about the tanks.

+1 second. The Stuart fires at the Autoblinda and misses.

+3 seconds. Alarmed, the Italian armoured car returns the greeting and begins reversing.

+8 seconds. Ignoring its ‘fast move’ order, the Stuart fires again. This time its aim is good. ‘Side upper hull penetration’!

+9 seconds. Seemingly satisfied with its handiwork, the Stuart heads for the wadi.

+11 seconds. But the gunner in the closest Semovente is tracking it and fires.

+12 seconds. A miss!

+14 seconds. The Stuart’s reply buries itself in the hot Libyan dust.

+20 seconds. Second time lucky for the closest Semovente?

Yes and no. The shot is on target, punches through the M3’s upper hull armour, but causes no real damage.

+21 seconds. Another 37mm AP round speeds SE and misses.

+30 seconds. A round from the other Axis TD screams over the barrelling Stuart as it disappears into the wadi.

+35 seconds. On the road near Carp, the turret of the advancing Crusader twitches. It’s spotted one of the L6 light tanks 700m to the east.

+39 seconds. Crecy’s first shot only troubles jerboas and scorpions.

+44 seconds. Smoke spills from the muzzle of Crecy’s 40mm L/50 for a second time. Again, no coconut.

+50 seconds. The third shot is the killer. The reversing L6 stops abruptly, its main gun droops. We nailed it.

^Four(?) Italian infantry units close to Grayling.

Overhead pic, end of turn 12. ATR team (r26) and mortar truck (g14) mid-way through moves.

Turn 13. As Crecy the Crusader speeds SE to the rise where the Bren Gun Carrier was KOed in turn 9, its gunner uses coaxial MG to hose infantry contacts beyond the southern wadi. Close to its destination the tank glimpses one of the enemy TDs and is adjusting its turret accordingly when it runs into dead ground behind the rise (The hull-down spot I’d selected turned out to be turret-down too. Cest la guerre.)

Meanwhile things are really hotting up at Grayling. At the 30 second mark the sight of enemy infantry sprinting towards the VL buildings persuades 1 and 2 Squad to spring their ambush. The grove edge crackles with small-arms fire. The Italian infantry unit in the van of the advance perishes in a hail of bullets feet from the door of the house at q31. Other pith-helmeted troops beyond the wall, go to ground.

With the firefight in full swing, Cpl. Dojcinski’s weary ATR team arrive and immediately go into action. From their vantage point circa r29 they can see the Autoblinda (abandoned!) and both of the TDs. The Semovente M41 47/32 that hit the Stuart last turn is 180m away to the NE. Almost dead ahead, heading for the road at q38 is a tougher Semovente M41 75/18. It’s this brute that the team choose to target.

Not encouraging. An ATR shell slams into the Semovente’s upper hull and promptly disintegrates.

The situation at the end of turn 13. The Crusader is unsighted behind the rise at dd18. The Stuart is unsighted in the wadi at a36. The Portee is peering SE from s14/t14 while, just behind it at s13, the White Scout Car waits expectantly. In the grove the mortar taxi (h24) is ten or so tiles away from r24, the spot where its passengers will alight. 3 squad (f28) has abandoned its position at Perch and is making for Grayling. At Grayling 1 Squad (r28) is firing at infantry close to the wadi. 2 Squad (r29) is, almost certainly, about to select a new target from amongst the approaching infantry. The HQ is keeping its head down at s28. The ATR team is about to have another pop at the Semovente M41 75/18.

Turn 14. Blimey. What a maelstrom.

2 Squad were in the thick of it right from the start. Defending in the grove edge near to Grayling they were soon receiving fire from several Italian infantry units and the 47mm Semovente to the NE. Just behind them the ATR team continued to peck at the armour of the 75mm Semovente without effect. It was at roughly the time the TD’s steel hide shattered the second on-target ATR round of the turn, that the turret of Crecy the Crusader appeared above the rise in the SW.

Spooked by the multiple threats, the M41 75/18 began reversing northward. Before the Axis AFV had backtracked ten yards, Crecy had drilled a 40mm hole in its upper hull.

In Combat Mission, jubilation can turn to dismay in the time it takes to type “In Combat Mission, jubilation can turn to dismay in the time it takes to type”. A split-second after holing the TD, Crecy herself was hit on the turret front by a projectile from heaven-knows-where. Happily, the round ricocheted. Unhappily, it was followed, in quick succession, by two more, the second of which penetrated the upper hull, fatally wounding our most capable AFV.

Was the unseen shell-slinger an L6 on or near Mount Salmon? A duel that coincided with the demise of the Crusader suggests not. The portee’s patience finally paid off at around the 36 second mark. Spotting the second L6 advancing not far from where the first one was KOed, our gun truck set about spoiling its day. The task was quickly accomplished. At 47 seconds, after a front turret penetration the Italian light tank commenced a hurried reversing manoeuvre.

And what was Stuart doing while all this was going on? As instructed he was waiting then enfilading. At 45 seconds, creeping up the side of the wadi at c36, our Stuart spied the tail-end of the reversing 75mm Semovente. Two shots were fired in what remained of the turn. The second hit the target and proved too energetic for the TD’s relatively thin rear armour.

The situation at the end of turn 14. The Crusader is bailing out. The hull-down Stuart is about to finish-off the tougher Semovente and, fingers-crossed, swiftly neutralise its compatriot. The Portee has just lost sight of the reversing L6 circa ee52. The White Scout Car is still being held in reserve at r13. In the grove the mortar team has finally alighted and is moving SW to get within command range of the HQ. 3 Squad (o28-ish) is approaching Grayling from the NW. 2 Squad is two men down, pinned, and bearing the brunt of the Italian assault on Grayling. 1 Squad is currently slightly too deep within the grove to take pressure from 2 Squad. The HQ is firing at an enemy inf unit between Grayling and the grove edge.

If the 75mm TD isn’t already in its death throes, then its end looks imminent. Side on to the Stuart, the other Semovente’s chances of survival look slim. Is the L6 punctured by the portee still a threat? I think it’s unlikely, but there’s definitely still something out there with sufficient punch to KO our AFVs.

Turn 15. After finishing off both Semoventes (the 75mm TD was in the process of expiring when the turn started) our Stuart turns its attention to the L6 light tank that was punctured by the Portee last turn. It’s spitting AP at this plainly frightened foe when an unidentified infantry unit 175m away to the SE hits back. A round, possibly from an ATR rifle, strikes the M3’s gun barrel!

Phew. Only superficial damage.

Lacking clear instructions, the Kiwi infantry remain huddled in the grove edge near Grayling for the duration of the turn. At times the incoming fire is fierce, but somehow no further casualties are sustained. Harried by the MGs of the repositioned Scout Car and targeted at close range by our HQ, an enemy ATR rifle team that decides to dash into the SE corner of the grove from the southern wadi quickly regrets its boldness.

Details that may not be obvious from this end of turn overhead pic. The trudging mortar team is still not within command range of the HQ. The Scout Car is well positioned to break up any push into the grove from the south. 3 Squad (o28) is not contributing to the scrap at Grayling at the moment and is just outside the HQ’s command range.

Turn 16. The wounded L6 breathes a sigh of relief as Stuart, alarmed by nearby infantry, turns his turret eastward and concentrates on suppressing/eliminating close range threats.

3 Squad join the action at Grayling losing two men in furious exchanges that involve all the Kiwi squads and Lt. Yarham’s HQ.

The Scout Car spends the turn machine gunning targets in the southern wadi. An Axis MG team that attempts to cross the road, is hosed with 50 cal and rapidly retraces its steps.

The situation at the end of the turn. The Stuart (c37) is engaging an infantry unit 50m east of its position (that unit is keeping its head down as a result). Both buildings at Grayling are now occupied by enemy troops. Our mortar team is finally within command range of the HQ but still needs approximately 60 seconds (one turn) to set up its weapon. The enemy ATR team that had infiltrated the SE corner of the grove has been eliminated. The Scout Car (u19) is well placed to break up any attacks on Grayling from the southern wadi but LoS obstructions mean it won’t be able to fire on Italian forces pushing into Kokopu from the z30 area (there are several enemy units in this part of the s. wadi). The Portee lacks the HE ammo necessary to assist the Scout Car with its assigned task. Cpl. Zane (truck turning at h23) is heading east to find the Crusader killer with a heavy heart and terrible sense of foreboding.

Turn 17. The Stuart may be in a spot of trouble.

Four seconds into the turn it was hit on the turret front by something, almost certainly an ATR round, powerful enough to cause internal armour flaking. At 27 seconds, as it reversed out of the wadi and turned to face SE, it was hit again (track, no damage). Two more hits followed, the last of which partially penetrated the side upper hull armour, thankfully without causing serious harm. All the indications suggest that the Italian infantry unit at a40 (selected in the pic above) is packing an ATR.

Around Grayling the tide of battle seems to have turned in our favour. Though our two-man ATR team is now a one-man ATR team, concerted fire from all the Kiwi squads in the grove caused the enemy to flee the VL building. Most of the evicted troops were cut down as they retreated east.

Things aren’t going quite so well at Kokopu. The turn ends with an Italian flag flying over the VL and two Italian infantry squads (?) very close to it. The White Scout Car spent turn 17 much as it spent 16. Currently, along with the Stuart and our ATR team, it has LoS to the surviving L6 light tank which is scurrying southward circa w60.

Pinch yourself. Our mortar team will have set up in fourteen seconds time. It’s ready to take targetting instruction and a command link to the HQ means it should be able to bombard the cluster of unidentified enemy units in the southern wadi*

End of turn overhead pic with enlarged units. 

*Other targets are available.

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399 Comments

  1. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 1 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following ‘6’ units (vehicles and their passengers are treated as single units until the passengers dismount)

    Bren Gun Carrier and HQ
    White Scout Car and mortar team
    Truck 1 and Squad 1
    Truck 2, Squad 2, and ATR team
    Truck 3 and Squad 3
    Portee

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 1 UNDERWAY++++

    • Mechanicus_ says:

      Truck 1 fast move to W13 (tucked behind the building), then dismount Squad 1 into building at VP location at in W15

    • alh_p says:

      Portee fast move to T13. If there’s likely to be time, reverse it round (to face s or S/E -but hidden) once arrived. Otherwise, get it there and we can worry about laying her next turn.

    • maninahat says:

      Following Suite of Mechanicus, Truck 2 Fast to V13 and dismount AT squad and Squad 2 to W17. Then order them to Hide.

    • Cederic says:

      White Scout car legs it to R14, dismounts mortar crew who duck in behind the wall. Scout car (if it can still move) sneakily pops in behind the building at S13.

    • Tim Stone says:

      Any takers for the Bren Gun Carrier/HQ and Truck 3/Squad 3?

      • Premium User Badge

        Hydrogene says:

        Truck 3 to e14, and squad 3 dismount and hide behind nearest walls.

      • Crazy_Gweilo says:

        bren carrier/hq to fast move to 13, keeping with squads 1 and 2, and dismount and seek cover within command distance of those two squads

  2. Boronian says:

    Yay! I loved reading the last battle report!

    • alh_p says:

      It was great participating too! So don’t hesitate to get involved. Quite a lot of units at the start too that all need armchair generaling…

      • Boronian says:

        Well I’ve never played the game and I didn’t understand everything you guys talked about in the last match but it was fun observing and finding out if the Panzer IV will carry through or not.

  3. maninahat says:

    My unsolicited advice when it comes to Combat Mission games:

    “Keyholing” is a really valuable tactic. Basically it helps to keep your stuff hidden from the enemy sight, either by obscuring them behind several obstacles, or (if infantry), telling them to hide. This can mean you get the crucial first shot. If you can target something isolated, its friends might be in a bad position where they can’t see your attacking unit and unable to return fire (think of the arrow slits on a castle, and how you can only really fire into a narrow space from one direct angle).

    The other tip is to not leave stuff in one spot once the enemy knows its there. They will quickly try to flank it, so have a fallback planned.

    • maninahat says:

      Also, as an addendum, attacking an enemy the second you see them isn’t necessarily a good idea if they are far off (this is what your units will automatically do unless you tell them not to). It might help to stay hidden until they wander into a nearer, more open space, and then attack.

  4. Premium User Badge

    corinoco says:

    Bloodnok’s Third Mounted Thunderboxes to square idle-i-po, Seagoon’s Batter Pudding Hurlers to Bexhill-On-Sea, BluneBontles Armoured Boy Scouts entrench on Rockall, GrytPype-Thynne’s Mobile Napoleons Pianos to Next Room. Needle-nadle-noo!

  5. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 3 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following 9 units.

    Bren Gun Carrier
    White Scout Car
    Portee

    HQ
    mortar team
    ATR team
    1 Squad
    2 Squad
    3 Squad

    (Commenters are welcome to move trucks, but the turn will go ahead with or without truck instructions)

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 3 UNDERWAY++++

    • alh_p says:

      Portee to continue turn, bring gun to face due east round the corner of the building at t/u13.

      I’m assuming the oasis/grove walls are low and do not obstruct sight or fire by the gun?

      Some infantry to get a bead on the incoming ITies would be nice!

    • Premium User Badge

      Hydrogene says:

      Squad 3 sneak to e23, to get to higher ground to better see the incoming Italians.

    • Cederic says:

      Mortar crew dig in a little, get comfortable, get some tea brewing.

      White scout car heads due north then cuts east across the top of the olive grove to a20 (but tight to the wall – using it for protection).

      I’m gambling here that there wont be any tanks heading that far north.

    • emily riposte says:

      Let’s move squad 1 up into the building at x17, and hide.

  6. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 5 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following 9 units.

    Bren Gun Carrier
    White Scout Car
    Portee

    HQ
    mortar team
    ATR team
    1 Squad
    2 Squad
    3 Squad

    (Commenters are welcome to move trucks, but the turn will go ahead with or without truck instructions)

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 5 UNDERWAY++++

    • ElementalAlchemist says:

      How far do the mortar team need to move to be back within what I assume is an HQ command radius?

      • Cederic says:

        Yeah, being unsighted doesn’t feel a terrible imposition on a non-line-of-sight weapon. That was intentional!

        I don’t know though whether we’re better moving the mortar to HQ or moving the HQ nearer the mortar. Game mechanics ahoy!

      • Tim Stone says:

        Unfortunately there’s no easy way to judge command radii in CMx1 (No CC-style toggleable circles). The mortar team look to be just outside Lt Yarham’s CR. Moved to, say, t14 they’d be back in touch, and, consequently, be able to ‘area fire’ targets outside their LoS but visible to their HQ.

        • khamul says:

          HQ into the building at T14 seems like a safe and sensible choice at this point in the game (given that I have no idea what I’m doing!). Order given!

          Seems to me like we ought to be trying to secure Kokopu, and getting some more eyes down the road. Where are 2 Squad, and what are they doing?

          What counts as visible to the HQ? Do they count as ‘seeing’ anything that a unit with a radio can see?

          • Tim Stone says:

            If the HQ had an inf squad and a mortar team within its command range and, say, only the inf squad could see a distant hilltop, then the mortar team wouldn’t be able to target that hilltop. Mortar teams must use their HQs as spotters, or have uninterrupted views of their target.

          • alh_p says:

            T14 sounds good for now – need to keep HQ safe, but I think we want them to stay in touch with other units in more advanced positions, so should consider moving the HQ east (into the grove). Maybe to T19/20 – depending on command range.

            The mortar can presumably fire from within the grove/trees? If so, the mortar crew could also work their way into the grove with the HQ (possibly an inf squad also linked to the HQ?) as spotters.

    • Tarfman says:

      Fast move the Bren Gun carrier around tonwards the Ridge in cc19. See if it can shoot and scoot to get a better look at IT’s.

    • Cederic says:

      Ridge blocking LoS for the Scout car isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was intended to be the surprise back-up to Squad 3.

      Their lack of LoS is however an unexpected and unwanted surprise.

      White scout car drives up to the ridge, gunner hops up, crawls to the top of the ridge and peeks over with his binoculars, then legs it back to the car with a report.

      (Since the game wont support that sensible and practical action, scout car reverses to the top of the ridge in A24(ish) and makes ready to flee the moment it sees any enemy armour.

    • Boronian says:

      Does it make sense for the 3 squad to go eastward to get a better view?

      • khamul says:

        I think information is the most crucial asset at this point in the battle, so I say yes. We don’t even know what we’re facing, yet.

        However, I don’t know the game.

  7. GrinningD says:

    Let’s keep the Portee where it is and on overwatch. Does it carry HE and AT ammunition and do we have any control over what it fires?

    Also YAY! Thanks Tim for doing this again!

    • nastydisease says:

      A HE shell was developed for the 2 pdr but was never produced or supplied to any units. A grievous problem for the Matilda that was armed with it, as the lack of HE shell made the 2pdr unable to engage anti tank guns effectively. When the gun was outside of coaxial mg range (1km) all you could do is punch holes in the gun with solid AP shots.

  8. Rituro says:

    This is a brilliant concept. I signed up just to be a part of it. Anything left for me to try and move this turn?

    • Tim Stone says:

      1 and 2 Squad, and the ATR team are all without orders at the moment. 1 Squad (penultimate image) have decent views of the eastern approaches. Just to their left in a palm tree tile, 2 Squad and ATR, can see Salmon, but don’t have LoS due E.

      • alh_p says:

        I’m having a hard time identifying where squad 2 are. Are they also in the penultimate picture, but not “selected” by the yellow rectangle?

        If so, I’d say move them to W19 and hide there – moving on east towards W24 in subsequent turns (if there is a counter on VPs).

        I think squad 2 would make better scouts that the ATR crew though so would prefer Squad 2 to head beyond the ATR. Ideally I’d suggest the ATR heads to T25 or T30 for a concealed ambush position, maybe holding fire until it gets a shot at side armour – let the portee do the long range/front armour impact pounding.

      • Crazy_Gweilo says:

        Squad 2 to advance to contact (move cautiously and hide at first sight of threat) to the east, to take cover inside that near building if possible and look out its windows. If they can’t then to advance to the bit of cover to the east with better views.

  9. Stugle says:

    Oh gods, I’m opening my mouth to make a suggestion. Only bad things can come from this…

    Can the ATR team act as scouts? Can we push them towards Grayling to get a good view on the other side of the olive grove, or will they be useless there, out of the command radius? Also, how quickly can they move? I don’t know the game, so if they lumber at the speed of a tranquilized sloth, their potential as scouts would be limited.

  10. Tim Stone says:

    ‘Out of command’ infantry units will take longer to implement orders and won’t benefit from an HQ’s leader traits (Lt Yarham is particularly capable) but shouldn’t disgrace themselves.

    Nothing to stop the ATR team acting as scouts, though, yes, fatigue, might become a factor eventually.

  11. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 7 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following 9 units.

    Bren Gun Carrier
    White Scout Car
    Portee

    HQ
    mortar team
    ATR team
    1 Squad
    2 Squad
    3 Squad

    (Commenters are welcome to move trucks, but the turn will go ahead with or without truck instructions)

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 7 UNDERWAY++++

    • alh_p says:

      HQ to move to T17.

      3 more general thoughts:
      1 Where is our armour? Thought it would turn up at turn 5… Did I miss something?
      2 How realistic a chance does the ATR have of doing damage to those L6s? If slim, suggest they hold fire until targets are nearer.
      3 Bit worried about squad 3 at perch. They are out on a limb and while the scout car might offer some anti infantry with those brownings, anything harder than meat bags will be a definite problem. I assume the enemy know if a VP is occupied or not?

      • Tim Stone says:

        1. No sign of the armour yet. ‘Five minutes’ was an ETA rather than a solemn promise.
        2. The max range for the ATR is listed as 800m and the nearest L6 is at 650m. The fact that the team opened fire of their own volition suggests there’s a fair chance of doing damage.
        3. Not sure about this.

        • Premium User Badge

          Hydrogene says:

          I know squad 3 is very vulnerable, but at least they have a good observation post to see the incoming italians, which is precious as the Bren carrier has to keep low. I say they stay where they are, and hold fire to stay hidden. The goal isn’t to capture Perch at the moment, obviously.

    • Cederic says:

      The 47mm on the TD is laughable but the White Scout Car isn’t stupid. It holds position behind the ridge awaiting better news from Squad 3 (or others).

      Incidentally I hope you’re on commission from Battlefront. You’ve gone and encouraged me to give this CM gig a go now that I have a PC capable of calculating a minute’s action in less than 16 minutes (yeah, the very first Combat Mission was released so long ago computers still had turbo buttons).

    • khamul says:

      ATR to stay where they are, keep taking shots at the L6s. Seems like it would be nice to give them a chance to rest up a bit, but the sooner, and the further away, we can make holes in Bad Metal Things, the happier I will be about it.

      I’m a bit worried about the position of the Portee. We don’t have many ways of blowing stuff up until our tanks arrive, and we need to be making the best use we can of everything we’ve got. Its lines of fire seem very narrow, and not where the enemy are. What would its LoS be like from somewhere like W17?

      • emily riposte says:

        Considering how vulnerable the portee is, we absolutely want it to have a narrow line of sight. To be honest, I don’t like that it can be seen from the top of the hill in addition to the road advance to the major objectives that we want it to control.

        Also, since we’re seeing their afvs moving, there’s a good chance that they’ll spot the portee if we move it. And a suboptimal hidden position is far better than a better revealed position.

      • Tim Stone says:

        If the two L6s proceed in their current direction (S) the leading one will blunder into the Portee’s LoS very soon. I’ve just done some checks and the Portee can see an area of Salmon hill that’s roughly 10m ahead of the leading tank.

        link to rockpapershotgun.com
        (a blue rather than a black LoS line means the location/unit is visible)

        • emily riposte says:

          Heh, it looks from that picture that the portee will decide to open fire when the tank is hull down just behind the ridge. Can we set up a cover arc or something to make sure we hold fire until we have a good shot? That’s what I’d want to do with a regular AT gun, but is the portee too easy to spot for that to work?

          • Tim Stone says:

            The pic is deceptive. A band of impassable rocky terrain and the shape of the hill means there’s no danger of the Italian tanks going ‘hull down’.

          • GrinningD says:

            As Tim has so clearly outlined the Portee is in a great spot, I wouldn’t recommend moving it lads.

          • khamul says:

            I’ve never played combat mission, or much in the way of these kind of sims, and really have no idea what I’m doing.

            But I really enjoyed the last combative commenters thing (and Tim’s pieces generally), and wanted to do my bit to move things along.

            Will try to avoid giving orders that are too disastrous!

    • emily riposte says:

      Now that I realize how much the olive grove blocks los, it seems like the best thing to do with the infantry is to hang out in the se corner of the grove, ready to set up an ambush when we’ve identified where the enemy infantry are going to be advancing. That move will take a while to do safely– I think I remember that there’s more chance than I’d like of a move order into the trees being spotted at this range.

      So I’d like to have squad 1 and 2 sneak directly to the grove, then move to 40m (two squares, right?) inside the grove, then start moving directly east to around r27. That’ll take a while to carry out, so we can figure out exactly where we want them to end up later.

    • Tarfman says:

      If the Bren Gun carrier reversed down the bottom of Hill maybe have it creep around to the South side and see if it can get a look at anything coming. Then reverse back into cover.

      • Tarfman says:

        Would it be any good getting the carrier into the low ground just to the east of it. It would appear that it maybe unsighted from Salmon there. It would also have good sight lines to the NE.

    • GrinningD says:

      What sort of range do we have with the mortar team and how many smoke shells are the lugging around?

      Do they, for example, have range to support Squad 3 and cover a withdrawal if needed?

      • nastydisease says:

        1,600m or 2,800m depending on the model. Practically unlimited in game terms here because of the size of the map. The problem will be getting line of sight from the HQ or the mortar team itself to the target. Also it will take some time to direct the smoke down so, planning in advance would be highly advisable if things are going to get critical for squad 3.

  12. J.C. says:

    I remember playing this scenario as Germans. At least, it looks a heck of a lot like the one I played. If it is the one I’m thinking of, you guys and gals are in for a ‘surprise’ lol.

  13. Tim Stone says:

    Roll up! Roll up! Turn 7 will be executed soon and…

    The White Scout Car
    The HQ
    The mortar team
    and 1 Squad (2 Squad is heading for r27 in the SE corner of the grove)

    …are all without fresh comment commands.

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 7 UNDERWAY++++

    • nastydisease says:

      Leave the White Scout where it is. It wont get fire superiority with the enemy big guns advancing, and its position on the flank may be useful once those enemy guns are otherwise committed or neutralized. Also friendly armour should be incoming and able to cover it shortly.

      Is the HQ’s current LOS just as limited as the mortar previously was? If neither of them are in a position to direct fire meaningfully I suggest they both be moved. It is getting late in the game however, if either one of them has a potential use I suggest deploying the mortar.

    • alh_p says:

      HQ move to T16 and then on to T20 and hide. Make it so.

      If I may also venture to suggest a second order (only in the absence of others’ input): Mortar team move to T16 and hide/prep to fire.

    • Rituro says:

      Squad 1 to follow and cover HQ, taking up residence in or behind the closest available structure.

  14. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 8 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following 8 units (one unit per commenter)

    White Scout Car
    Portee

    HQ
    mortar team
    ATR team
    1 Squad
    2 Squad
    3 Squad

    (Commenters are welcome to move trucks, but the turn will go ahead with or without truck instructions)

    This link should take you to the last turn summary:

    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 8 UNDERWAY++++

    • alh_p says:

      Argh, loss of the bren carrier is a shame – it could have helped against infantry. Also, still no armour! What’s their excuse? It’s not like they have any dutch rivers/bridges to cross…

      Would seem sensible to retreat the portee a bit before it becomes the focus of enemy attention. I’d suggest it drive forwards (i.e. heading NW) a little to get clearer sight of Salmon and/or shelter better behind the building. Any other views?

      I also assume squad 3 are too far from command range to provide sighting for the mortar? Roughly how far would they have to move south to allow that? Calling some mortar fire down on the infantry approaching Grayling from NE would be a good move – especially as the scout car would be too vulnerable to pin them given the approaching armour.

      • Tim Stone says:

        Heaven knows where the tanks are. Savaged by CR.42s? Stopped to pick dates? If they don’t arrive next turn I’ll send out one of the trucks to search for them.

        Infantry squads can’t spot for mortars. Only the HQ can do that.

    • khamul says:

      What can the HQ see, and what can the ATR team see?

      Mechanically, how does indirect fire from the mortar work? Can we order them to open up as soon as something comes into HQs sight?

      HQ is near the ATR team now, who are hopefully plugging away at something (in the NE?), so if we move HQ a bit closer to them, we should get some LoS to the area, and allow the mortar join the game?

      • Premium User Badge

        Hydrogene says:

        Could we please have a recap of the latest positions of the different units? I’m having trouble keeping up with all the movements…

      • Cederic says:

        Can the mortar team even fire from underneath trees?

        I’m not an expert here but it doesn’t sound entirely wise.

      • Tim Stone says:

        The HQ and ATR team have a good view of the SE corner of the map (Mount Salmon and its foothills). Their view due E and NE is blocked by the olive grove.

        The two units not mentioned in the last turn summary, White Scout Car and 3 Squad, didn’t move in turn 7. They are at a23 and e29 respectively (at the northern end of the olive grove). 3 Squad have a good view of the open ground east of the grove. Portee is at t14. HQ, 2 Squad, and the ATR team are in a cluster on the southern edge of the grove circa t20. 1 Squad is hiding in a house at v19. Mortar team is at t15.

        Overview screenshots in CMx1 are difficult (no helpful icons) but this overhead pic with enlarged units might help:
        link to rockpapershotgun.com

        Firing from a grove tile won’t be a problem for the mortar team.

  15. emily riposte says:

    Ok, squad 2 is underway. Let’s have squad 1 do the same thing– sneak to the woodline, move to 40 m inside the grove, move east to r27. Then finish by sneaking to the edge of row 28/29, to a spot with vision between the two buildings, and hide. That should position them well to ambush those infantry we see as they take Greyling.

    I would suggest that we also stealthily move squad 3 to join the other two squads, and move the hq up to make sure the ambush goes off well.

    I would also suggest that we have the AT rifle stop firing, hide, and reposition him somewhere he can expect to do damage– that rifle is rated for 20mm of armor at 100m, so he has no business firing at any hard target at 600m. Let’s try for side armor at ~200m, maybe?

    • khamul says:

      For the ATR, how about sneak to somewhere like T27, hide, and hold fire?

      There’s that small ridge just south of Carp and Kokopu where our Bren Gun Carrier ran into trouble. Seems good odds the enemy will make use of it on their advance, so T27 should give us a side armour shot as they come north towards the village from it, or alternatively at anything coming round the eastern corner of the olive grove, in either direction.

      Sound sane?

  16. Tim Stone says:

    24hrs have passed since the last order was issued and there’s still five units (HQ, 2 Squad, 3 Squad, Mortar Team, and White Scout Car) without fresh instructions. It looks like The Battle of the Perfectly Rectangular Olive Grove may have come to a premature end :-(

    • Rituro says:

      Shoot, I thought everything was spoken for!

      I really don’t like seeing the scout car all by its lonesome as the enemy begins massing for what looks like a push to the northern edge of the grove. I’m ordering it to about-face and leg it back towards HQ, aiming to take the southern road out of the grove to try and circle around towards Salmon without being spotted over the next 3-4 turns.

    • Premium User Badge

      Hydrogene says:

      Can we have the mortar fire on ll51, please?
      If no other orders come, I suggest the other units stay where they are, or maybe we could have two units per commenter, it might speed things up a bit.

      I think someone suggested squad 3 to sneak south, could make it an order… ;)

      • Tim Stone says:

        The mortar team can see very little from their current position, (wall at t15). To bombard Salmon they either need to be much closer to the HQ or somewhere in the village with direct LoS to the hill.

  17. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 9 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following 8 units (one unit per commenter)

    White Scout Car
    Portee

    HQ
    mortar team
    ATR team
    1 Squad
    2 Squad
    3 Squad

    (Commenters are welcome to move trucks, but the turn will go ahead with or without truck instructions)

    This link should take you to the last turn summary:

    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 9 UNDERWAY++++

    • Cederic says:

      Mortar team get within command range of HQ, unless HQ keeps buggering off without them. V15 in range?

      White Scout Car continues orders as provided.

      • weelillad says:

        The mortar team should hop onto the nearest truck, which should then take them deep into the grove within the HQ’a command range. Hopefully the grove keeps them hidden.

    • Premium User Badge

      Hydrogene says:

      Porter stays in position, ready to fire at anything coming into sight.

    • Tarfman says:

      ATR team to cease fire and hide in postion. Setup up a arc out to about maybe 2 or 3 hundred metres in direction of enemy AFV’s.

    • Tim Stone says:

      Does anyone fancy taking charge of the White Scout Car or 2 Squad in Turn 9? There was talk last turn of sending the former down the Southern road (given the fate of the Carrier and the Scout Car’s bigger silhouette, this could be risky). 2 Squad are currently hiding in the grove near Grayling. A short move E or SE would give them LoS to most of the eastern side of the battlefield (at the moment they can see nothing but leaves and branches) though could potentially result in a rather dense, mortar-vulnerable Allied inf presence in the SE corner of the grove.

      • alh_p says:

        I’ll bite: Squad 2 to R 29 and set up ambush (hold fire till enemy at short range). The idea being to repel Italian inf that might be approaching grayling.

        I share Tim’s concerns about the moving the scout car into the open. Better to park it at R13 or S14.

    • khamul says:

      Truck at the NW edge of the olive grove, (around e14) to drive down the road through the olive grove, stopping around o24, to give us a way to evac the soldiers down there if it all goes a bit wrong.

      Drive as slowly as possible please, there’s no rush, and I don’t want a dust cloud drawing attention.

      If I get to make another order, in addition to the truck: then HQ stay where they are and hide, provided they’re in command radius of the ambush squads we’re setting up in the SE of the grove. If not, move forward slightly until they are. I want some distance between them and the squads in case of mortars, and I want to make it as easy as possible for the mortar team to catch up with them. Try to maintain LoS to as much of the E and SE of the map as possible if you do have to move them.

      Can we have the precise co-ords for the HQ? I’m finding it hard to tell the infantry units apart on the big map.

      • Tim Stone says:

        The HQ is the unit nearest the bottom in the last pic. It’s at roughly t20, too far from 1 & 2 Squad to bestow command benefits.

        ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 9 UNDERWAY++++

  18. nastydisease says:

    Squad 3 carries on spotting. If sneak rapidly uses up the squads energy I would simply stop and conserve it. They might have to move rapidly in a moment.

    That leaves the White Scout and Squad 1 that has just crossed the road?
    I think other commenters should be conservative with that White Scout, its a lot more useful alongside the Armor than dead.

  19. ElementalAlchemist says:

    So did the Kiwis ever actually use the White scout car? A quick Google suggests that the game may have confused its Antipodeans.

  20. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 10 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following 10 units (one unit per commenter)

    Crusader
    Stuart
    White Scout Car
    Portee

    HQ
    mortar team
    ATR team
    1 Squad
    2 Squad
    3 Squad

    (Commenters are welcome to move trucks, but the turn will go ahead with or without truck instructions)

    This link should take you to the last turn summary:

    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 10 UNDERWAY++++

    • khamul says:

      HQ to move a little closer to Greyling, so both 1 Squad & 2 Squad are inside command radius. Just a little closer to Greyling than the ‘move to contact and hide’ marker is in the picture.

      What’s HQ’s LoS like from its current position? Looks like it should be good, but it’s difficult to know how much the olive grove is blocking things.

      Does the mortar have to dismount from the truck to be able to fire? If we can get the truck to somewhere like r24, we should be good to start dropping shells on anything HQ can see?

    • Premium User Badge

      Hydrogene says:

      Crusader move to w12, close to the bogged down truck, facing towards Salmon.

    • emily riposte says:

      It looks like squad 2 is not hiding? They need to hide, and be issued appropriate orders for an effective ambush.

    • Tarfman says:

      Leave the ATR team where they are. Last resort in case the IT’s role into town.

      Get that mortar dropping rounds on the IT infantry!

    • alh_p says:

      Scout car to rendezvous with crusader, slow move so that the crusader arrives first.

      Portee to stay put. Prep for move, gun first, south to w13 next turn once the crusader and scout car are prepped.

      Plan for crusader to emerge first, per Hydrogene’s order, flanked by the scout car, with portee support.

    • Cederic says:

      Confirmed: Mortar crew (via truck or on foot, whatever’s going to be quickest) to r29, set up and start shooting at whichever infantry they or the HQ can spot. If they do taxi via a truck, the truck after dropping them off sprints north inside the grove to distract the Italians.

      (R29 rather than R24 because I’m anticipating HQ getting to the wall on column 30ish soon due to their current line of sight challenges caused by the grove).

  21. nastydisease says:

    Stuart Move Fast to A22 and prepare to peek the ridge.

    Suggest the Crusader take point for the Portee and someone figure out a way to swing the mortar into action on that infantry east of the point.

  22. nastydisease says:

    Infantry only has to survive while keeping the Italians focused on Grayling for two or three more turns before the armor can start to turn things around.

    • alh_p says:

      I agree. The infantry fix the enemy from their positions in the grove while the cavalry trundle to the rescue round the outside.

  23. Stugle says:

    I’ve been reading along all along, but I’ve been struck by indecision fever. Which I still have. Gratifying to finally see the armor show up, though.

    The Semovende seems to be the biggest threat to our armor. Is there any safe way to get the Crusader into a one-on-one duel with it? If we can take care of its 47 mm cannon, I doubt any of the other Italian vehicles will prove much trouble for Crecy.

    I’ll continue my habit of not issuing orders, but I’m looking forward to the Italian infantry near Grayling receiving some hearty Kiwi hospitality.

    • khamul says:

      Given the scarcity of combative commenters we seem to be suffering, I’d heartily encourage you to overcome your reluctance and start throwing in commands, or we’re not going to see any outcome at all!

  24. emily riposte says:

    The way things are going, it seems likely that the stuart will get a chance to swoop around the north side of the grove, take the semovente in the flank, and kill it before it can rotate to target the stuart. I think that’ll have a better chance than a long-range duel with the crusader, particularly if the semovente moves forward a bit or is distracted targeting something to the south.

    • alh_p says:

      Tempting but the Stuart will have to use its speed to get round the side of the SPG. Also not sure what armament the IT scout car has… There’s also the risk that even if the Stuart does deal with the immediate 2 we know of, Salmon (or any other forces – like perhaps an AT gun in the east) might hit it in return.

      Have to say I’m not confident about the Crusader and portee going up against superior numbers around Salmon either. The italian tanks are light but early Crusaders (such as this one, given it’s 40mm gun) were underarmoured. Fingers crossed it’s a type 2.

      Safest option might be a concentrated attack – both tanks with portee support moving anti clockwise round the grove from start circa W13 to engage enemy around Salmon first, then sweep up north (either via the road or cross country for better flanking chance) to support the infantry -which will until then have to hold its own in the grove.

  25. Tim Stone says:

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 10 UNDERWAY++++

  26. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 11 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following 10 units (one unit per commenter)

    Crusader
    Stuart
    White Scout Car
    Portee

    HQ
    mortar team + truck
    ATR team
    1 Squad
    2 Squad
    3 Squad

    (Commenters are welcome to move trucks, but the turn will go ahead with or without truck instructions)

    This link should take you to the last turn summary:

    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 11 UNDERWAY++++

    • emily riposte says:

      I’d like to fast move the mortar taxi back along the road to the dirt road, then along the dirt road to p24. To facilitate this move, I’d like the truck currently on that road to move off the road at the clear spot at h23.

  27. nastydisease says:

    Give Squad 3 a fire arc onto Perch and hold them.

    Might be best to do similar with the other infantry and to start thinking about a mortar barrage. Not sure how close the truck will be able to get to the HQ without drawing fire however.

    • ElementalAlchemist says:

      The mortar team aren’t of much use anyway if the keep faffing about. Might as well take the risk and get them within command range and start some speculative shelling.

      • Rituro says:

        I’m on board for this. I want to see some firing for effect if for no other reason than to try and scatter the Italian infantry advance. If any infantry squad (Squad 1?) can lay down some suppressive fire to the east, I’d vote for that.

        • emily riposte says:

          No, not with the infantry… if we want those infantry to be effective, we want to keep them hidden and open up in ambush at ~40-60m. Infantry squads are not for supressive fire– they will only run out of ammo to no good effect, or reveal themselves to be shot to pieces by the various afvs.

  28. Rituro says:

    Send the tank along the north edge of the map (the Stuart?) full speed to the edge of the grove (a29) and fire on any armoured targets within range.

  29. Boronian says:

    This is very exciting. So if I understood correctly it is mostly waiting right now? The infantry hides, the Stuart and the Crusader are still on their route to the destination they got with their last orders, right?
    The mortar team is on its way now.
    What else should be done this turn?

    • ElementalAlchemist says:

      The White scout car and Portee still need orders I think.

      • Boronian says:

        Portee has still orders from turn 10. Waiting for reinforcements and then advancing together. I think the same for the White Scout Car.

  30. khamul says:

    I think we’re keeping them where they are for the moment, until Crecy gets there and can give them some cover – per alh_p’s comment in turn 10.

    Seems sane to me, as they’re both very vulnerable – but then I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

    • nastydisease says:

      Yeah, maybe giving the Portee a keyhole to shoot through for the moment wouldn’t be bad. No serious moves until the Crusader is there tho. The white scout should be pretty valuable as an extra pair of eyes and something to draw fire once we can actually advance. Those MG’s will be good to add to the anti infantry firepower as well.

      • khamul says:

        Okay, I’ll go for this, then. Portee to reverse about half-way into the gap between the two houses its rear end is currently facing, and open fire if it gets LoS on any IT armour. No shooting at infantry please – don’t want to reveal our location unless we have a chance of doing good in the process.

        That should give it a thin line of fire towards the left side of the hill with Salmon on the top (mount Salmon?), without leaving it any more exposed than it is currently.

        I think that leaves the scout car and HQ without orders: which are fine where they are? And the ATR – which shouldn’t be seeing any action for the moment.

  31. Tim Stone says:

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 11 UNDERWAY++++

  32. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 12 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following 10 units (one unit per commenter)

    Crusader
    Stuart
    White Scout Car
    Portee

    HQ
    mortar team + truck
    ATR team
    1 Squad
    2 Squad
    3 Squad

    (Commenters are welcome to move trucks, but the turn will go ahead with or without truck instructions)

    This link should take you to the last turn summary:
    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 12 UNDERWAY++++

    • Tarfman says:

      ATR to run and hide in r29 set up another cone in direction of IT Armour. Aboout 250 meters.

    • Cederic says:

      Enough discussion, a command:
      Stuart to take a shot at the armoured car then dash to A35 and turn to point south.

      That puts it out of LoS of the hill, drops it out of sight from the TDs and gives it a lovely bottom armour shot at them if they come straight for it.

    • emily riposte says:

      Ok, I’d like to fast move the crusader along the road to a position where it just barely has los on one of the semoventes. (it’s somewhat hard to tell exactly where that would be) It seems very likely the one pointing south now will turn to face the stuart, and this is likely our best chance for a favorable engagement.

  33. Boronian says:

    Shit. That seems to be a really bad situation the Stuart found itself in.

    • Rituro says:

      I regret almost nothing!

    • Tim Stone says:

      I’ve seen CM tanks survive worse. It’s unlikely, but not out of the question, that the Stuart kills the Autoblinda in the first second or two of turn 12, and then turns on the nearest TD neutralising it before it has had a chance to fire a shot.

      Of course, there’s still the other Semovente to consider.

      • emily riposte says:

        IIRC, targeting orders are instantaneous, right?

        If that’s the case, considering that the stuart’s turret is pretty fast, and the 20mm gun on the autoblinda is pretty much useless against the stuart, doesn’t it make a lot more sense to target one of the semoventes, whatever else we decide to do with the stuart? I guess, if we expect to lose the stuart anyway, getting the likely kill on the autoblinda will help out the infantry.

  34. emily riposte says:

    Heh. I was envisioning doing the swoop around the north edge of the grove move when we had more vision on the stuff over there to start with. It’s.. what, a 60m reverse to get the stuart back to the hill north of the grove to break los, and… an 80m fast move forward to the wadi, which ought to be able to break los? Forward might actually give them a better chance, at least in the short term. I hate to do it, but having squad 3 fire at the second td to button them up might help the stuart survive, but probably wouldn’t help much, so it’s probably not worth it.

    Anyone else have thoughts?

    • Boronian says:

      If I may ask why is moving forward the better move?

      • emily riposte says:

        Forward movement is a lot faster than reverse, and it looks like the wadi will provide hard cover from the enemy guns. Also, reversing will make the semovente bring its gun to bear faster, while it will have to turn further to bring its gun to bear if we continue moving further. Advancing may put us in a lot of trouble 2-3 minutes later, but right now, it may be the best move. Of course, if the L6 on the hill has los down the length of the wadi, that could be a problem.

        • Boronian says:

          I’ve never played the game or any wargame like that so I have no idea but I want to learn some things. So I am asking questions :)

          The trees in the grove, won’t they block LoS? Or was it just chance that the enemy came into sight right when the Stuart arrived at the corner? The trees seem to be so close.

          I am sorry, but I don’t understand your “L6 on the hill” reference. What do you mean by that?

          • emily riposte says:

            The grove is particularly light woods, and will only block los to the stuart with at least two full tiles of intervening woods. You can see that the stuart’s line of fire to the autoblinda crosses the corner of the grove.

            The two italian tanks in the south are L6/40s. It’s unlcear right now exactly where they are or if they’d have los down the wadi.

          • Tim Stone says:

            The wadi is fairly deep. I can’t be 100% sure but I reckon a Stuart within it wouldn’t be visible to any L6s still at large on the slopes of Mount Salmon. At worst the L6s would have only a turret to aim at.

          • emily riposte says:

            Heh, and I had looked, but somehow inflated the gun on the L6. That 20mm gun is pretty much irrelevant to our tanks.

  35. Rituro says:

    Would it be worth our while to unload and setup the mortar team at Kokopu, or should they just do whatever gets them firing ASAP?

    • weelillad says:

      The key points to note here are:
      a) The mortar can only fire at what the mortar or the HQ team sees
      b) To fire at what the HQ sees, the mortar needs to be within the HQ command range
      So I think the mortar should continue what it’s originally doing, to get itself into concealment within command range, so that it can rain hell without fear of retribution.

  36. khamul says:

    I’m not sure what the LoS for the Portee looks like: haven’t played combat mission before. What do the blue lines in the pic mean?

    Depending on how stuff works out with Stuart, from the big pic it looks like there are two IT armour planning to come round the S edge of the olive grove – which should put them nicely into the Portee’s sights if things are lined up properly, but I’m a bit worried about the wall and the edge of the grove blocking its view.

    If Crecy has reached the other units, we need to be moving the White Scout Car out to spot for it. The ITs seem to have a bunch of units stationary on Salmon, which makes me worried about fixed artillery with a height advantage.

    I don’t think I’m up to giving any orders this turn. Good luck, Stuart!

    • Tim Stone says:

      The two blue lines in the portee pic are the outer limits of a manually assigned ‘target armour’ arc. The portee has been told to focus on armoured targets within that wedge of terrain. It’s probably a bit superfluous in this case as the unit’s ammo loadout (all AP) and facing means it’s unlikely to get distracted.

      Usually CM AFV’s target sensibly without human intervention. They tend to focus on the biggest threats first, or – if they really don’t like the odds – reverse and/or pop smoke.

  37. Tim Stone says:

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 12 UNDERWAY++++

  38. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 13 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following 10 units (one unit per commenter)

    Crusader
    Stuart
    White Scout Car
    Portee

    HQ
    mortar team + truck
    ATR team
    1 Squad
    2 Squad
    3 Squad

    (Commenters are welcome to move trucks, but the turn will go ahead with or without truck instructions)

    This link should take you to the last turn summary:
    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 13 UNDERWAY++++

    • Cederic says:

      Assuming infantry and HQ are still doing the whole ambush thing, commands for mortar team:

      Get to destination, get off that truck and get set up. Start shooting stuff!

    • Premium User Badge

      Hydrogene says:

      The most important action should be that the mortar team + truck carry on their current action and start shelling the enemy, without being distracted by anything. Is the truck driver sightseeing? Or is he afraid of entering the Perfectly Rectangular Olive Grove?

    • emily riposte says:

      Let’s fast move the crusader to a hull-down position behind the hill the bren died near, turn to face the semoventes, and hopefully start firing on them.

      Ideally, we’d also prepare the stuart to pop out of the wadi at the beginning of next turn if the semoventes are turned to the south again.

  39. Cederic says:

    If nothing else, this has convinced me that mortars can be completely ignored in warfare. They’re permanently incapable of shooting at anything and spend most of their time stuck on walls and/or trucks.

    • ElementalAlchemist says:

      At least when subjected to a “Twitch Plays” style of orders at any rate.

  40. Rituro says:

    So, what’s the best time to welcome the enemy to Grayling with a how-do-you-do from the hidden squads? Now? Or wait another turn?

    • ElementalAlchemist says:

      I’d think ideally you’d want to shell them with the mortar and then have the infantry/MGs pick off anyone out in the open that tries to get clear. That’s probably at least a turn away seeing as the mortar team apparently chose a truck driven by a 90 year old blind pensioner going at 2MPH. And of course the moment they get set up, someone will undoubtedly suggest the HQ team move….

      • khamul says:

        Well, given that HQ now has a good line of sight, is well hidden, and is close to the key infantry squads – I’m really hoping we won’t find it necessary to move them for a little while.

        ATR to r29, as ordered by Tarfman last turn still looks like a good plan to me: should give a reasonable chance at a side-armour shot at fairly close range, if anyone decides to head into the Wadi to go play with Stuart.

        I like where the Portee is: there’s a AFV on Mt Salmon that looks like it’s coming down the hill into LoS, and armour on the road towards Kokopu which could come into sight soon as well.

        So I’m thinking the critical orders this turn are what we do with Crecy, Stuart, and the White Scout Car. Given we’re about to be swarmed by infantry, holding the car back to help deal with that might be good?

        • alh_p says:

          On the ATR team, i agree. We’ll need them to handle/distract the armoured car at Q38-ish.

          Reckon the Southern armoured swoop can proceed now. Get Crecy out and popping cans off Salmon, then curving north (prob best not to get too close to Salmon in case of AT arty). After the engagement at Grayling starts (and the Stuart re-emerges), perhaps our scout car could proceed eastward under crecy/portee cover up the road to also help defend grayling?

      • alh_p says:

        2 things on timing of the ambush:
        1. yes ideally best launched with simultaneous mortar and rifle fire
        2. must be started before the Italian inf reach the wall or the house at Grayling. If they do that, they will be in a good position to repel our single squad.

        Right now, especially as we appear to have 3 squads against 1, I think our inf is exposed – but needs to do their job: So the ambush should commence. We can do two things to help them:
        1. get the mortar in range of HQ and set up – per existing orders
        2. Bring squad 3 down from Perch, as the IT’s have no current interest in it we have decent sight of the forces and there’s nothing heading that way). They might be too late for the ambush but worst case, their late arrival (after the firefight starts) from the north could provide well timed flanking fire into the IT infantry.

        So, I’d like to order Squad 3 to move south to M30. Staying stealthy if possible.

  41. Tim Stone says:

    Does anyone who hasn’t already issued an order this turn want to steward the Stuart (in the wadi, a35/36) or the White Scout Car (r13) for the next sixty seconds?

    • weelillad says:

      I’ll bite. I agree with alh_p’s strategy, so I think Stuart should turn to face east and prepare to head out of the wadi after Crecy’s caught the enemy’s attention.

    • Premium User Badge

      Hydrogene says:

      As Cederic beat me by a few minutes to order the mortar, I’d like to ask the white Scout Car to stay where it is, hidden. And move only when Crecy has cleared Salmon.

  42. Tarfman says:

    Leave the scout car in reserve. Wait and see if the IT’s have any other forces to commit.

  43. Tim Stone says:

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 13 UNDERWAY++++

    • Cederic says:

      Argh, the tension. This one single minute of action has taken over two hours already!

      It’s worse than waiting to find out the outcomes from Brexit :(

  44. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 14 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following 10 units (one unit per commenter)

    Crusader
    Stuart
    White Scout Car
    Portee

    HQ
    mortar team + truck
    ATR team
    1 Squad
    2 Squad
    3 Squad

    (Commenters are welcome to move trucks, but the turn will go ahead with or without truck instructions)

    This link should take you to the last turn summary:
    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 14 UNDERWAY++++

    • emily riposte says:

      Ok, fast move the stuart south to the lip of the wadi to a hopefully hull down position, then hunt forward to make sure they actually get a shot. If we can preemptively target the 75mm semovente, do that.

      (suggest the crusader wait a bit to come out of its hiding spot for the semoventes to turn north again.)

    • alh_p says:

      Brute would indeed be the operative term! That 75mm outclasses all our armour. Low silhouette too. Thankfully only one of them, right?

      The ATR stands no chance against it but could help distract it. Can the 75 see the ATR crew and does it have any secondary armament? I.e. a machine gun?

      • emily riposte says:

        Well, the 75/18 gun is primarily an anti-infantry weapon; the HEAT rounds are secondary (though they still have a good chance to kill either of our tanks, at any range). If it has a chance when it’s not distracted by AT fire, it can destroy our infantry squads. Which are definitely higher value than the AT rifle.

      • Tim Stone says:

        None of the Allied units at Grayling (1 Squad, 2 Squad, ATR team, HQ) are receiving fire at the moment. Obviously, that situation is likely to change if they continue to engage Italian units.

  45. Cederic says:

    Good call with the Stuart, and agree on holding the crusader back.

    Would prefer the ATR crew don’t sacrifice themselves – they need to make like snakes and wait for a side or rear armour shot. We’ll need them against the other armour.

    Crusader command: Wait 23 seconds then hunt forward, priority on the 75mm semovente.

    (by that time it should be turning to face the Stuart, giving a side-on shot, but using ‘hunt’ means it wont blithely ignore any nastiness on the hill).

  46. ElementalAlchemist says:

    God, the mortar team still hasn’t arrived? That must be the slowest truck ever made. Good thing there’s not a war on or anything….

  47. Tarfman says:

    I think the ATR team should continue to pepper the semovente. If it draws fire from it at least then it wont be targeting our tanks.

  48. Tim Stone says:

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 14 UNDERWAY++++

  49. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 15 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following 9 units (one unit per commenter)

    Stuart
    White Scout Car
    Portee

    HQ
    mortar team
    ATR team
    1 Squad
    2 Squad
    3 Squad

    (Commenters are welcome to move trucks, but the turn will go ahead with or without truck instructions)

    This link should take you to the last turn summary:
    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    ++++ORDERS RECEIVED. TURN 15 UNDERWAY++++

    • emily riposte says:

      Considering that our infantry are outnumbered, we can’t count on the stuart to provide support any more, and the enemy appears to have an mg team, while our mortar is still not quite ready to provide support, I think we need to pull the infantry back and set up a second ambush inside the grove.

      Thus, iff the other two squads and the hq get similar orders, I’d like to have squad 2 run west to a point where its line of sight is blocked to the eastern edge of the woods and that MG team to the southeast, hide, and set up to ambush again.

      Suggest the ATR team move north away from the it infantry advance.

      • alh_p says:

        Sounds sensible, just worried this means we may need to… move the mortar again!

        Actually, i think not yet. The scout car move should prevent any enemy infantry approaching U24 or another position from which they could target the mortar.

      • khamul says:

        Need to be careful about LoS for the HQ: mortar can only shoot at what it, or they, can see. And right now the mortar team probably can’t see very much.

        I would be very nervous about moving HQ to somewhere and accidentally losing LoS to where we need those mortars landing in the process, and the olive grove makes planning LoS tricky.

        That said, they’re also no use to us if they’re dead or running away.

  50. khamul says:

    Hmm. That’s the second AFV that’s run into trouble behind that low ridge S of the village. I’ve been worrying about an IT equivalent to our Portee sat on Mt Salmon waiting to snipe at things.

    How much of a defense is speed in this environment? If we send the White Scout Car legging it to Mt Salmon at full throttle while the IT armour is distracted, is that suicide, or a gamble that might pay off?
    If the car survives it, would also allow us to hit the IT infantry from behind?

    That is a big bunch of IT infantry converging on Greyling S of the road. Mortar target?

    • alh_p says:

      That inf advancing on Grayling from the South are indeed a perfect mortar target, I’d say.

      To further head them off, I suggest we move the scout car to U17 (between the wall and building). It’ll have a great enfilade on any infantry trying to reach the wall at U30 ish and should be out of sight of both Salmon and anything west of Grayling.

      I’m concerned about the 2 contacts east of the Stuart. One of them is very close… Any ideas what these are? Have they just turned up? Our Stuart is rather precious now we lost the Crusader, especially if we have to advance at any point.

      Do we also now risk the portee a bit more? Maybe best to save it as it’s surely highly vulnerable.

      • Tim Stone says:

        Those two contacts were detected as the Stuart climbed the side of the wadi. They appear to be infantry of some kind (when selected “infantry?” is displayed in the unit info box)

      • emily riposte says:

        I like the idea of using the scout car to fire on the infantry advancing to the southern edge of the grove, but I think that’s a field, not a building, at u17. Suggest instead the scout car snuggle up to the northern wall of the building at v19. Considering the crusader was hit in the hull, when it was hull-down to enemies at the same elevation, strongly suggests the unknown AT gun is on top of the hill, and that building will probably provide good cover against it.

        • alh_p says:

          Ah yes, map reading fail! Well spotted sir.

          I agree that U/V19 is a better position for the scout car.