Communal Combat Mission: Turn 13

Welcome to the third communal Combat Mission skirmish – a comment-driven confrontation between RPS readers and CM’s decidedly dangerous AI. Turns span 60 seconds and rarely go according to plan. Late-war and Eastern Front, this summer’s scrap takes place in a German-held Baltic port. Twelve turns in, the commenter-controlled Soviets have lost all but one of their core AFVs, but are close to securing the crucial town square VL in the centre of the map.

Chivied by small arms fire and that fiendishly sited AA gun on the end of New Wharf, the routed recon squad on West Bridge makes a dash for safety in the opening seconds of turn 13. Incredibly, nine of the eleven-man squad arrive at w16 unpunctured.

As Ryumin’s remnants retreat, the BA-64B armoured car moves up to w15, its swivelling Degtyaryov LMG adding to the woes of German infantry squads to the north. Batrakov’s mortar barrage has shifted to p15 and the enemies in the vicinity are not happy about the adjustment.

Flare Path, the flame tank, isn’t wild about the change either. As she pounds the occupied church to the east with her main gun, stray 120mm mortar bombs fling grit and shrapnel against her frontal armour.

Marooned and under heavy fire in the church at the eastern end of the square, the German troops at p23 glimpse salvation at T+15 seconds when one of their tormentors – a knot of pioneers across the road at p26 – suddenly stops firing.

Myshkov’s most northerly squad has been forced to seek cover by a brace of 75mm HE rounds. The shell slinger is the StuG. After several turns of inactivity the squat SPG has decided to join the fray by providing support fire from the railway crossing at g25.

And, blimey, he’s brought a friend!

T+45 seconds. An unidentified assault gun appears behind the StuG, moves eastward, then disappears circa f26.

At the close of turn 13…

The StuG waits for new targets, its last one having disappeared from view. The StuG’s pal is out-of-los.

With Flare Path firing on them from the west, Myshkov’s men clobbering them from the east  (p26 and q25) and Lapshin’s platoon now in residence at s22-23, the German infantry force in the church seems spent.

At West Bridge, the M5 halftrack is approaching the spot where the SU-76 perished, engaging infantry targets across the river as it moves.

On the spit, a potentially significant sideshow has just begun. Our straining AT gunners spotted the AA gun on the wharf at T+45, halted, and began setting up their weapon. Unfortunately, the activity didn’t go unobserved across the water. Thus far, all the incoming 20mm salvos have struck intervening terrain (the Soviet gun is, to all intents and purposes, ‘hull down’). Can our luck hold for another minute – the time required to set up?

48 Comments

  1. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 14 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following 9 units (a maximum of one unit per commenter)

    *BA-64B armoured car
    *Lt. Batrakov (mortar spotter, upstairs w16)
    *OT-34 flame tank
    *Lt Myshkov’s pioneer platoon (three splitable squads + HQ)
    *Renko, the sniper (upstairs, t27)
    *Lt. Lapshin’s rifle platoon (three splitable squads + HQ)
    *Tank hunter team (x19, moving to p26)
    *M5 halftrack
    *AT gun (bb10)

    Assuming orders are forthcoming, the summary of turn 14 will appear on the RPS front-page at this time tomorrow morning.

    • alh_p says:

      2 Stugs…! Tim, that’s just bally unfair! Jerry’s meant to be on the back foot at this stage in the war, how’s he mustering so much armour… I vote we draw the Stug’s into the square and get’em with grenades, especially if they are going to advance without infantry cover.

      And what about Ryumin’s remnants, can’t they be commanded? I imagine they might be “a little shaken” but they are still defenders of the motherland, the poor blighters. Where’s a commissar when you need one (behind the front, i imagine).

      • Tim Stone says:

        Ryumin’s squads may be commandable in a turn or two. Right now they are ‘routed’ and ‘panicking’.

      • BooleanBob says:

        Wondering if there’s any way we can provide help squashing the AA guns. I’m also worried about Flare Path – stray mortars are the least of her worries if Jerry gets to those windows above her.

        What do people think of this: OT34 to turn her hull facing NW, then reverse to q19. Turret to point West/North West, with a view to, if possible, suppressing the AA gun on the new wharf with some long-range HE.

        • alh_p says:

          Not a bad idea, I think, although wouldn’t reversing be a slow move?

          I don’t like where FP is right now either. There’s no infantry sight/cover on the n19 entrance to the square, leaving FP open to a nasty surprise. q19 should provide a commanding position in the square, such that FP can cover the likely Stug entry points.

          Does FP’s flame thrower still work?

          • BooleanBob says:

            Yeah, refer to my comment below. I’m not certain as to the optimal way to manoeuvre would be – or the imminence of any armoured fists coming our way – so I’d defer to Tim or more seasoned commenters if they felt confident in their micromanagement.

          • declan_23 says:

            Would q19 not leave FP exposed? It would leave it open to attack from the infantry entering from the north and the west, and the guys in the church (especially if the guys at p26 can’t pin them down)

          • Tim Stone says:

            No mention of flamethrower damage on FP’s info panel so I assume it’s still working.

          • AbyssUK says:

            FP could Turn and face O15, flame on while reversing with the turret firing at the church still, you know just to be safe :)

      • BooleanBob says:

        Not necessarily in that order. It might be more time efficient to move before refacing the hull for example. Really whatever sequence seems optimal with time and safety in mind.

        As for the Stugs, I like the idea of drawing them in for a close quarters fight over letting them engage us at range. To that end, we probably need to get our men out of the cluster of houses at q25. Perhaps leaving Renko behind to observe.

        Would the church be a good place for an infantry/AT squad to stage an ambush?

        • alh_p says:

          On the church and Stug ambush, sounds good to me (says a reckless commander who’s already squandered 2 priceless units of armour). I imagine the trick to infantry tank killing will be to draw the Stugs in without losing too many infantry, then hit them from cover of some sort at close range, from directions other than the front, where the Stug has it’s MG. Keeping the Stug buttoned will help.

      • Dogshevik says:

        I suggest FlarePath moves one tile south and two tiles south-east. (avoid the bushes) That puts it into R19. Then it turns to face north-east.
        That provides distance from potential PFs from the north and west (I think) and LOS to the northern entrance, the church and the intersection to the east.

        Tim, it could get that far and turn around in 60 secs, yes? Could it still pound the church?

        So far we haven´t issued a definite order to FP, right?

          • Dogshevik says:

            In that case I make it an order. If my comrades strongly object I can still adjust it later on.

            Flare Path to R19! (via O17->P17->Q18) Best speed.
            Then turn NE. Fire MGs and 76mm at the hostile infantry at the church! Not the flamethrower.

          • BooleanBob says:

            Um, hello. My initial suggestion, though phrased openly, was intended as a definite order. I feel quite strongly about trying to save the AT gun from the AA, and I think that the OT34’s main gun offers our best chance to do it. We have infantry and other units that can attempt to secure the church, or even storm it if necessary.

            I realise that my wording was vague though, so I guess Tim gets to make the call. No hard feelings from me if I’m found against. Sorry to make things awkward everyone.

          • Dogshevik says:

            No worries, BooleanBob. If you intended to give an order, you gave an order as far as I am concerned and I retract mine. I just wanted to avoid a situation like 2(?) turns ago where people deliberated alot but noone made a decision in the end.
            No matter how things turn out, no hard feelings and no recriminations. I am certain we will all stand next to each other when it is time to face the firing squad.^^

          • BooleanBob says:

            Gosh, well, now I feel bad.

            Rest assured that if our last and most-loved piece of armour goes to meet Lenin in the next 60 seconds, I will tell the tribunal that I forced the decision upon everyone at the point of a broken balalaika.

          • Rituro says:

            Better you than me, good sir. I’ve already exhausted my luck with dear Otto and got away with it.

            Also, he TOTALLY did. I have the balalaika scars to prove it.

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      phuzz says:

      Renko’s not had much to do recently, so he should move up to the building at p26, from where hopefully he’ll be able to keep an eye on the StuG and it’s as-yet unidentified friend. Knowing where they are is the first step in dealing with them.
      If they’re daft enough to stick their heads out of the hatches then he should take a shot at the crew(s).

    • xcopy says:

      Tim, thanks for sending the T-34/85 crew to q29! I assume, that we now can command them, even though they are not on the list of units, correct?

      The crew tries to keep an eye on the Stugs. They run to the house at p30 and look north.

    • Wilson says:

      I’m guessing the swamp(?) at N26 is going to make it slow and heavy going for any of Myshkov’s squads to get into the house at M26?

      While Lapshin’s squad is making their dash one of Myshkov’s squads from Q25 can try assaulting the church. I hope all the supporting fire from Lapshin’s platoon and Flare Path will give them enough cover, and the angles mean they won’t be exposed to Stug fire for more than a moment. The rest of Myshkov’s squads can hold position.

    • AbyssUK says:

      Could the car engage the wharf gun from say X14/W12 area or even right on the bridge to suppress it a little to give that AT gun some chance of getting ready in time ?

      • Dogshevik says:

        It could and should. Please make it an order AbyssUK.

        The M5 halftrack can take over the BA´s current job of firing across west bridge. So the BA can keep the wharf gun´s crews´ heads down.

      • AbyssUK says:

        An order it is then.

        On the mortars perhaps aim them higher now, N/O15 ?

      • Tim Stone says:

        If the BA-64 stops anywhere in sight of the AA gun and fails to suppress it with its first couple of bursts, it’s almost certainly doomed. I’m not trying to put you off (the AT gun is arguably more important than the AC so radical action is probably justified)just pointing out possible consequences.

        • AbyssUK says:

          Well if from above if BB’s order to use the Flare Path to attack the wharf gun then my orders are mute anyway. Leave said car peppering german troops, i wouldn’t want to spoil its fun in any way :)

      • BooleanBob says:

        Sorry again to be a voice of discord, but I really feel this might not be the best idea. Between the BA, the M5 and the mortar bombardment, we seem to have erected a very effective kill box right at the point that the enemy has amassed in force.

        As I see it, removing the BA from the equation presents a number of risks. Firstly, we lose a set of eyes on the bridge, which may deprive of us vital information of advancing German infantry.

        One less MG also means we may lose a golden opportunity to inflict casualties on the enemy should they blunder into the open.

        A lack of supressive fire along the r15-o13 road also weakens our hold on the square, endangering the OT34 and our squads who are reliant on a secure perimeter.

        Finally, it endangers the BA itself. As Tim points out, its armour is unlikely to withstand 20mm flak.

        For these reasons, I’d personally be in favour of keeping the BA where it is.

        • Electricfox says:

          Could we split the difference and perhaps traverse the turret of the BA-64B to the rear, back up, engage the AA gun and then drive forward again before the AA gun returns fire?

    • AbyssUK says:

      I think the M5 should goto W15 and take over from the car supressing any units in P15 which shouldnt take long now due to the mortars

    • Dogshevik says:

      Since I retracted my previous order I should be free to issue another one. I think the M5 is still orderless, so:
      Take up position at the north-eastern corner of X15 (keeping out of LOS to the wharf gun) and fire its MG at any german infantry it sees.

  2. alh_p says:

    Tim, thinking of the pioneers at p26 under fire from the Stug, is it possible for infantry to move between buildings without exiting to the street?

    Or would that squad have to walk out via the front door to o26 before scarpering?

    • Tim Stone says:

      They would need to go outside to move nextdoor. Movement from P26 to Q25 would involve a short dash across the SE corner of p25.

      • alh_p says:

        I was actually thinking the other side, but perhaps the copse behind the block would suffice. Please move the squad(s) at p26 outside, to the corner of p27, so they retain sight NW.

        I hope it will draw the Stug on, but it might just switch targeting to the troops at q25. Assuming it’s a pioneer squad, they could end up in a good position to ambush the Stug if it advances.

  3. declan_23 says:

    Would it be possible for one of the squads in Lashpin’s squad to move through the buildings to r18 to cover the north and west entrances to the square? Or would they have to exit and re enter?

  4. wombat191 says:

    can i control the penal battalion and execute the commentors who allowed valuable material of the glorious peoples motherland to be destroyed?

    • BooleanBob says:

      Patience, Comrade. There will be plenty of time for summary justice when the smoke has cleared.

      Court martials (I suppose that should be courts martial) optional!

  5. Cederic says:

    After a stupid week’s work (40 hours in the first three days of the week) stopped me even reading battle reports, I resigned this morning, so I’m back and keen to contribute.

    Unfortunately it turns out my goal in this particular battle is to use the Flare Path to cook a StuG crew. I shall withdraw to the command tent and call out, “Make it so!”

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