Communal Combat Mission: Turn 10

Every year The Flare Path runs a communal Combat Mission skirmish in which RPS readers attempt to outwit and outfight CM’s decidedly dangerous AI. Turns span 60 seconds and rarely go according to plan. Late-war and Eastern Front, this year’s scrap takes place in a German-held Baltic port. Nine turns after leaving their deployment zone, the commenter-controlled Soviets have lost two of their most important AFVs but are in control of two of the map’s seven Victory Locations (East Bridge and West Bridge).

Lt. Ryumin mutters a period-appropriate “WTF?” when, a few seconds into the turn, Flare Path, the scarred OT-34 flamethrower tank, belches black exhaust smoke and lurches onto West Bridge.

He waits for the gun on New Wharf to stop the reckless gauntlet runner in its tracks but the dock gunners seem as surprised as he is. Their only fusilade clatters harmlessly against the speeding OT-34’s buttoned turret.

The next German unit to have a shy is an infantry squad in the burning warehouse at s14. The WHOOSH of a hurriedly levelled Panzerfaust is followed by a detonation on the cobbles several metres behind the Soviet tank.

Hauling on his righthand steering lever, Flare Path’s cursing driver (He always knew his commander, Sergeant Gagen, would get him killed one day) guides the galloping fire-breather over snow-obscured kerbs into the square. Part-way through the manoeuvre he glimpses the whitewashed visage of an approaching Pz IV at alarmingly close range. It looks like the SU-76’s executioner is also en route for the square!

Turn 10 ends on a bayonet edge. Arriving at o16 at a canter, Flare Path slews round to face the AT gun under the trees at p18. She’s about to open fire (Presumably. The consequences of that lost crewman are still unclear) when a German halftrack of some kind emerges from the road on her left. With the Pz IV seemingly about to rumble into view to starboard, and the HT threatening from port (The red engagement line implies an attack of some kind is imminent) the SE-facing and suppressed AT gun ahead is, for the moment, the least of our flame tank’s worries.

At the other end of the square, Myshkov’s men and Kpt. Gurtiev, the company CO, are in the process of roughing up an innocuous Sd.Kfz. 7 artillery tractor flushed out by Flare Path, while the invaluable Renko endeavours to spook the HT at n18. The StuG? Still buttoned and gazing eastward at f26.

Further south, Lapshin’s platoon, most of whom are weary after a jog along slippery, tank-churned roads, is nearing East Bridge.

At West Bridge the 120mm mortar bombs have just begun arriving. Encouragingly, considering the close proximity of the BA-64B and Ryumin’s platoon, the first one landed dead on target. The future looks bleak for the enemy units inside the warehouse at s12-14.

46 Comments

  1. Tim Stone says:

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

    *BA-64B armoured car
    *Lt. Ryumin’s recon platoon (two splitable squads + HQ)
    *Lt. Batrakov (mortar spotter)
    *OT-34 flame tank
    *Lt Myshkov’s pioneer platoon (three splitable squads + HQ)
    *Renko, the sniper
    *SU-122
    *Lt. Lapshin’s rifle platoon (three splitable squads + HQ)
    *Tank hunter team (orderless, gg16)
    *M5 halftrack & AT gun (orderless, circa ee12)

    Assuming orders are forthcoming, the summary of turn 11 will appear on the RPS front-page at this time tomorrow morning.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Hmm. Halftrack to tow AT gun to aa10. The latter to deploy facing north in that square, or a nearby square most appropriate, to maximise vision of the wharfs, the West bridge and the square beyond.

      (This manoeuvre may require some more suppressive fire directed at the flak (?) gun on the wharf.)

    • Wilson says:

      Myshkov himself and his supporting squad into Q25. The squad that just came across the street can take up positions to watch the square, while the pinned squad can make ready to advance through the buildings up to P26 once they’re unpinned.

    • opowell says:

      “(Charge!!!)”

      Ryumin swears under his breath’s, then orders his platoon to advance in support of the renegade armour.

      – HQ and both squads to run as quickly as possible to S16, ideally ending with a view of the square.

      • Tim Stone says:

        This is unlikely to end well bearing in mind the AA gun on new wharf, the mortar bombardment centred on s14, the Pz IV at q15, and the inf units in the warehouse. Are you sure?

        • opowell says:

          Am hoping the artillery gets cancelled / moved, and that the PzIV has already turned the corner by the time the crossing is started (if the squads are Veteran or higher, please add a 10/20-second delay to the advance).

          • alh_p says:

            I implore you to reconsider. The mortar bombardment is set to last the rest of this turn (60 seconds). Anyone in the street next to the building under fire could get hit by the bombardment as well as the (currently still live and kicking) infantry in there.

            What are you expecting to take care of the AA gun on the wharf? We have nothing to take it out with this turn and our AT gun would be less efficient at it than other means (like a mortar stonk or other artillery).

          • Tim Stone says:

            The mortar bombardment could be stopped or adjusted fairly promptly I believe. If the Pz IV spots the BA-64B I suspect it will stop and engage which might leave Ryumin and his men pinned mid-bridge. No easy choices this turn!

          • AbyssUK says:

            Yes keep the men back there charge into oblivion can wait for the wharf at least :), if we have any luck a stray mortar may hit that Pz IV. The Pz IV obviously also saw the OT-34 and knows its just around the corner with most likely gun ready. The commander may choose not to go around the corner and go for the BA-64B. If that’s the case, can we retarget the mortar fire onto the Pz IV’s position ?? That’ll hurt it right ?

          • Axolotl says:

            The PzIV might also try firing at Myshkov’s squad in the building at q25. They’re not doing much there at the moment, so maybe move them around the burning building at r24 and then around the buildings along the river? From there we could have them pop into the square at any point we’d like.

    • Electricfox says:

      Comrade BA-64B to open fire on the Panzer IV ahead of it in order to try and get the commander to button up, if the Panzer IV turns its turret to engage, back up and around the corner of the building to the left.

    • AbyssUK says:

      As the squads in s12-14 are basically gone… Can the BA-64B + squads nearby pepper that Pz IV as the driver and commander seem to be sticking their melons out… would that work at all ?? A bit of a long shot…

      Also question.. can the flame tank still attack the gun position forwards with flame while simultaneously turning its main turret ready to face the corner the Pz IV will come from?

      • Tim Stone says:

        In theory, yes (the flamethrower is mounted in the hull rather than the turret). With one crewman out of action, I’m really not sure.

        • alh_p says:

          Turning the turret and firing at the Pz4 must surely be the priority?

          The AT gun in the square is suppressed and facing the wrong way (re-laying the gun would take at least 1 turn, surely).

          Providing the half track is a vanilla half track armed with 1 MG42, not one of the jazzy variants equipped with 7.5cm gun or some other aberration, the threat it poses should be less than existential this turn. The OT34 is already buttoned but the crew may yet be rattled by MG fire on Flare Path’s hull. I’d be more worried about any Panzer Grenadiers the Hanomag may disgorge – but that would be for another turn.

          For now, I reckon we point the explodey bit at the corner from which the PzIV will emerge.

          • AbyssUK says:

            I say we gamble on that Pz not taking the corner, flame the gun, shoot the HT if possible. To be frank if the Pz takes the corner, with its gun primed the OT-34 is most likely toast anyway… to be fair it should be dead already…

    • alh_p says:

      The valorous Tank Hunter Team to move up the road at the double to x16 please.

      These two chaps may yet be what saves the west bridge, unless of course the Flarepath turns out to be the reincarnation of our faithful Stuart from the PROG and bashes the enemy armour to pieces by itself.

    • Dogshevik says:

      Taking command of Lapshin´s guys again. They are taking way longer to join the fight than I thought they would, esp. the tank riders. (Maybe the dismounting procedure made the SU slow down first?)

      Same order as last turn. The (formerly) mounted squad goes into the building in S23 and takes position at the windows looking north. The rest follows on foot. Stance is aggressive and as fast as possible.

      Shove them, yell at them, kick their rear ends, whatever it takes to make them join their comrades at the front asap.

  2. xcopy says:

    Do we have any grenades on the pioneer platoon? Will they do any damage on Halftracks?

    • Tim Stone says:

      All of the Soviet infantry squads are equipped with Molotovs. The pioneers also carry demo charges. At close range (same or adjacent square) they should be able to deal with most German AFVs.

      • xcopy says:

        Question to the fellow commanders:
        Shall the pioneers advance and try to destroy the artillery tractor at p22?
        Should the SU-122 try to support the OT-34, or take care of the Stug?

        • Axolotl says:

          Tim called the SU-122 a howitzer. Can it penetrate the armor on a Panzer, or is it to be used only as artillery?

          • alh_p says:

            I’m not sure about combat mission but IRL, if the SU122 could land a shot, it could do serious damage. Not necessarily penetration though as I think it only has HE shells (wiki says it could blow a tiger mk1’s turret off). But given it has no turret, we have to be careful about positioning as it’ll take time to turn the gun in another direction. So if we go for the Pz4, we have to be wary about the StuG flanking the SU122. Renko might be able to spot the StuG’s movements mind…

          • Dogshevik says:

            At these distances I am confident even an HE shell can do serious damage if not flatly take out any PzIV, StuG or halftrack.
            Checking the screenshots from Turn 1 again I am also certain the approach over the eastern bridge is out of line of sight from the StuG far to the north-east.
            I recommend aggressive moves for the SU-122.

            (Sidenote: I am wondering why the StuG in F26 isn´t turning to face us. Is it de-tracked or still distracted by the AI-controlled feint from the east? Is that still going on?)

          • Axolotl says:

            You’re right, Dogshevik.
            Tim, I’m assuming the AT gun in the square is done for? If so, move the SU-122 to s25, facing the artillery HT, with the intention of knocking it out, and maybe the other HT too, if the howitzer can fire over the artillery HT. I just don’t want the SU-122 to charge straight into the PzIV’s sights.

          • alh_p says:

            Good points, but if we’re talking about lobbing shells over the artillery tractor, why not do so at the Pz4 instead of the halftrack?

          • Axolotl says:

            If it has a good chance of hitting the PzIV, then by all means. I just assumed that indirect fire wouldn’t be able to reliably hit specific targets, and I was afraid the SU-122 might hit the flame tank instead of the Panzer.

          • Tim Stone says:

            >I’m assuming the AT gun in the square is done for?

            The crew are keeping their heads down at present, but there’s no evidence of damage or casualties so if the OT-34 fails to deal with it, it could still prove troublesome.

          • Axolotl says:

            Judging by the photos Wikipedia, the SU-122 can’t raise its turret to an angle steep enough to fire over the buildings and onto the PzIV – it would have to be at nearly 180 degrees at such a short distance. It also looks like it can get to a position at s25 that would allow it to aim directly at the artillery HT without the AT gun having LoS for it. So the order remains, I think, with the addition that it should stay away from the AT gun, until the latter is destroyed/decrewed.

          • Axolotl says:

            That’s 90 degrees, of course. Otherwise I would make no sense.

  3. BooleanBob says:

    Question for Tim: is it possible for infantry squads to commandeer abandoned friendly/hostile guns and emplacements in this game?

  4. Electricfox says:

    “Alright comrades, let’s do this…FLAAAAAAAAAAARE PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATH!!!” “Bozhe moi, he just drove in!”

    • Rituro says:

      “Dammit, Flare Path…”

      Incidentally, I regret nothing (pending results of Turns 11 & 12). Units spotted, enemy forces bamboozled… so far, the crazy gambit has given us vital intel.

      • Electricfox says:

        It kicked things off certainly! Sometimes battles can be lost or won on gambles like this, so we’ll see :D Makes for funny reading though imagining the other soldiers and the enemy just open mouthed as the OT-34 charges through.

      • Dogshevik says:

        Regrets? We are too busy for regrets right now.
        As you are concerned, it will be the Medal of Hero of the Soviet Union…or the execution squad. We´ll see in a turn or two.

        (There might be the occasional moaning and griping, but coping with the unexpected is half of the fun, right?)

        • Rituro says:

          Oh, certainly. There’s a reason I’ve been waiting on pins and needles to see if this feature would come back to RPS. Heck, I went out and bought Combat Mission as soon as I learned I could get it from GOG.

          Besides, my crazy vehicle orders from last year’s mission ended up working, so clearly nothing bad can happen this time around, right? …right?

  5. alh_p says:

    On the M5, i continue to dither, but I think the peninsula is no longer a useful position right now. We need that gun facing into the square, at least until we have dealt with the Pz4, but can we get it there in time?

    Tim, how long would it take to move the M5 and set up the gun by the SE corner of the house at y14?

    Also, I take it the tank hunter team is equipped with 1x AT rifle (gunner and loader)? I also assume that would be unlikely to help against a Pz4 or Stug3 but may with armoured cars or halftracks.

    Someone might like to move this team up to the west bridge, perhaps into a building.

    • Tim Stone says:

      If the M5 moved cross-country it could probably reach y14 by the end of turn 11. Approximately another turn would be needed to ready the gun.

      The tank hunter team carries AT grenades. No ATR.

      • alh_p says:

        Thanks Tim. What if it went the long way round on the road?

        I guess it would be about the same if the M5 went via the road to y16 and set the gun up facing NW?

        Following the road would have the advantage of avoiding the AA gun on the wharf, but the position at y16 faces away from the square – which is where the gun needs to face right now. Who knows what’ll be important in 2 turns time but we could be trying to defend the west bridge by then – for which either y16 or 14 would be valid.

        • alh_p says:

          Seems i overlooked BooleanBob’s order, at the top of the list! My deliberations are moot…

          • Dogshevik says:

            In a way that makes this format fascinating, doesn´t it? Whatever good ideas and sound analysis one can provide, the situation might have moved on already, depending on the initiative of others. And then you have to cope with a completely new situation.

            (Like: Personally I had written off the OT-34 already, fully expecting it to be blown to bits by either the PzIVG it passed, a panzerfaust or our own mistimed mortar fire. ^^)

          • alh_p says:

            Yeah, you’re not alone in regarding the OT34 as living on borrowed time!

            Agree about the format, i wonder how this CCM will turn out though… The others had their shaky moments but it feels like we’ve had a very bad run here, losing 2 key pieces of armour and maybe starting to run out of options for further advance if/when we lose either the OT34 or SU122.

  6. Rituro says:

    Fingers crossed OT-34 can still fire weapons. If possible, prioritize the incoming Panzer before turning to other targets. Flame with wild abandon, Otto.

  7. xcopy says:

    As far as I can see, there are no orders for the SU-122, yet. So I will try my luck:
    The SU-122 moves fast to the corner at s25, peeks at the artillery tractor and tries to stay out of the line of sight of the AT gun.

    Could anybody give the orders for our brave Renko, to suppress the AT gunners?

    • Dogshevik says:

      I think –Axolotl– has given the SU almost exactly the same orders further above.
      So, in theory, you would be free to command Renko yourself.

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