Communal Combat Mission: Turn 20

Welcome to the third communal Combat Mission skirmish – a comment-driven confrontation between RPS readers and CM’s uncommonly entertaining 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. Nineteen turns in, the commenter-controlled Soviets control three of the map’s seven victory locations, and are scrambling to deal with a StuG self-propelled gun that has decided to push south from the railway crossing in the north-east of town.

Moments after the GO switch is flicked, the venturesome StuG ceases its southward ramble and begins a ponderous, snow-ploughing clockwise turn. Has the SPG noticed the in-a-fix fusiliers at k23 and decided to offer assistance or has it detected movement in the building immediately to its right and (foolishly) opted to stand and fight?

The trundler’s precise motivation matters little to the tank hunter team and the pioneer squad rushing to intercept from the west. What matters to them is the result of the manoeuvre – a buttoned German AFV sitting on the doorstep of the house at n24 when they arrive.

Cool and well-versed, Myshkov’s marauders don’t waste time looking their gift horse in the mouth. A molotov cocktail is swiftly and expertly served. The words ‘top penetration’ appear over the targeted machine hinting at the horror and chaos inside. Flame is still trickling from steelwork when a streamer-trailing RPG-43 hurled by the AT team detonates finishing the job.

Only one crewman emerges from the wreck and he doesn’t get very far before bullets catch up with him.

Turn 20’s other eye-catching playlet takes place in the square. Lapshin’s 2 Squad are ten metres from n17, the house next to the blazing German halftrack, when the suppressed MG 42 team in the building pulls itself together. Tracer fizzes from a downstairs window. One Ivan goes down like a sack of potatoes.

At the close of the turn…

^ The situation around West Bridge (click to enlarge). The w16 recon squad came under fire from n14 the second they left the building and rapidly retraced their steps. The only German unit firing at present – the HMG at n17 – is receiving direct fire from three Allied units (M5, Lapshin’s 2 Squad, and Gurtiev).

^ The situation above East Bridge (click to enlarge). The fusiliers have been eliminated. The T-34/85 crew (h26) can’t see the StuH (g24?) but that may change in the next few seconds.


  1. Tim Stone says:

    Turn 21 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following 11 units (a maximum of one unit per commenter)

    *BA-64B armoured car (r17, buttoned)
    *OT-34 flame tank (r19, buttoned)
    *M5 halftrack (r15)
    *AT gun (bb10, 11 HE, 31 AP 2T left, no enemies in LoS but fairly good view of wharves)
    *Lt Myshkov’s pioneer platoon (three splitable squads + HQ, m23, n24, k23 and n26)
    *Renko, the sniper (upstairs, m26)
    *Lt. Lapshin’s rifle platoon (three splitable squads + HQ, s16, s17, o17)
    *Ryumin’s remnants (two fragile squads, s16, w16)
    *Tank hunter team (n24)
    *T-34/85 crew (h26)
    *Gurtiev, seven-man company HQ, p23

    Assuming orders are forthcoming, the summary of turn 21 will appear on the RPS front-page at approximately this time tomorrow morning.

    • Electricfox says:

      Comrade BA-64B to suppress the HMG at n17.

    • Dogshevik says:

      Myshkov´s Plt:
      K23 squad to K21 western windows, ambush ready.
      M23 squad aims to enter the L18 building. (from the east if possible)
      N24 and N26 follow along the road.
      HQ squad to M21.

      Also: Yessss!

      • alh_p says:

        Urrah indeed! Bit surprised it went so well, but that was probably mostly thanks to the Silly Stug stopping and turning. Was it due to not-so-great AI, or the predictable outcome of a Stug left alone in the dark without infantry escort?

    • opowell says:

      Renko to run to N24, then to M20 (preferably limiting the amount of time spent outside on the street).

    • alh_p says:

      The glorious Tank Hunter team to move to K24 please. Next on the menu: sauerkraut StuH.

      • gi_ty says:

        Glorious tank hunter team indeed! Vengeance for the poor T-34! Things are looking good. Only one fascist AFV unaccounted for. Have we equalized the battle?

    • BooleanBob says:

      Brr. I wouldn’t want to have been in that StuG.

      It seems I moved the BA out of LoS of the machine gun with some over-cautious manoeuvring. Apologies to everyone (but especially the potato-impersonator).

      Flare Path to p19 please. Point the hull at n18, the gun at n17 and fire on the MG42.

      Good job everyone!

    • Wilson says:

      I think Lapshin’s men need to get a move on towards the wharves.
      – 2 Squad should continue with their current orders.
      – Lapshin himself and the squad with him at s17 should advance to the building at p15.
      – The squad in s16 should hold position for now and cover the advance.

  2. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Can the AT gun move on it’s own?
    If so, it should head for y8 to get a slightly better view of what’s behind the wharfs.

    If not, we’re going to have to consider sending the halftrack back to redeploy it.

    • Tim Stone says:

      Yes, but at a painfully slow speed. Without assistance it’s unlikely to reach y8 before the game ends (turn 30).

    • alh_p says:

      This has been a long running question, but I’d encourage you not to move the AT gun.

      It can move, but slowly and you need to allow about 1 turn for the gun to be set up again once it has arrived. Moving to y8 might make the gun inoperable for 4 turns.

      I’m not sure y8 is a better location anyway. It’s current position is better to help our infantry storm the wharves (action that should take place turns 23 to 30 – I hope!). At y8, the gun will lose its current sight line due north over the area guarding wharf access and be blocked by the building p7-9. It would gain sight of the buildings at n14/15 from y8, but we can’t afford to wait that long to deal with those troops, who become our focus as soon as the MG at n17 is dealt with.

      Last we knew, there were 2 luftwaffe infantry squads behind the wall at j and l 10, guarding wharf access. there might also have been more on the castle slope around h10. All 3 units/positions were/are enfiladed by the Gun. We can’t see them now, either because units have moved since or they could be hiding/not moving. Further scouting should reveal them or encourage them to move, which will help the gun spot them.

  3. Michael Fogg says:

    Gratz for the AT gun kill, but can anyone can explain how in real life a molotov is supposed to destroy an armored vehicle (even achieving ‘top penetration’) instead of the fuel just burning off harmlessly on top of it? I always wondered.

    • Rorschach617 says:

      Apart from the possibility of open hatches, bad welds and so on letting burning petrol into the fighting compartment, there were still ways to knock out a tank with a molotov.

      The engine deck behind the fighting compartment often had air intakes, louvres or non-airtight maintenance hatches. Petrol could filter through those to pool and burn next to the engines/fuel tanks and so on. Once the fire caught hold there (often killing the tank’s mobility), the crew had little option but to try to escape.

      • Michael Fogg says:

        I see. But still I’d suspect that by the later stages of the war the machines would be proofed in some way against such low-tech measures?

        • alh_p says:

          I dunno, you still need to get air to/from the engine, so would have some way of getting things in. How impervious are modern AFVs to molotovs?

        • nastydisease says:

          Nope. Ww2 AFV’s were all highly cost effective beasts. A modern Tank costs more than ten times its price in adjusted terms and even they have glass scopes, antenna, exhausts and air intakes which are all vulnerable to fire, even if they are NBC capable. In WW2 in the opening stages of Barbarossa with T34 and IS1 tanks that were impervious to most German AT and tank guns the Germans were more than happy to simply sling smoke grenades over the tanks barrels, hack the mesh over the engine bay open with an axe and toss a grenade in.

          Tanks shouldn’t be rolling around urban environments unsupported by infantry anyway.

          • BooleanBob says:

            Brings to mind the old question of whether the tank is there to support the infantry, or the infantry is there to support the tank.

        • Rorschach617 says:

          Like alh_p and nastydisease suggest, even by late-war the only “proofing” against low-tech attack was close infantry support.

          The lowest-tech assaults I can remember reading about were during Italy’s war with Abbysinia. Italian tankettes had their tracks obstructed with rocks. Once immobilized, the Ethiopians could overturn the light vehicles by bouncing them on their suspensions or, on one occasion, one man armed with a sword jumped on top of the tank, banged on the hatches shouting “Open up!” in Italian and beheaded the crew.

          • Michael Fogg says:

            I’ve read somewhere that in the Winter War the soviet tankers would fasten soft bitch branches on top of their machines so the Finns’ original molotovs would just fail to break on impact.

  4. patricio says:

    Am I being too twitchy that we only have 10 turns to go? I confess I’ve lost track of which Germans had the panzerfausts but do we need to try to get FP heading west to the wharves quite soon?

    • alh_p says:

      THEY’VE ALL GOT FAUSTS. Or at least, every squad encountered so far has had at least 1 faust between them.

    • Wilson says:

      No, I think time is getting tight especially for those high value wharf targets. That said, better to give them up than lose a lot of units in futile over-hasty advances IMO.

      • Sin Vega says:

        We are in a better position to the East too, I’d say, especially with so many infantry there, able to filter through the buildings instead of blundering through the street. Taking that flag there in addition to the three we have would be a respectable stalemate.

        • Dogshevik says:

          Respectable stalemate? No way. I am willing to throw every last pixel we have at those wharves.

          • Sin Vega says:

            We might take them, but we’d never hold them. Taking the East gives us a better shot at a sustainable position to attack from later. Think of the war, comrades!

  5. Vilos Cohaagen says:

    This series remains brilliant! Keep up the good work!

  6. albedophillip says:

    Tim, I made an account to say how much I’m enjoying this series. When it first popped up I thought to myself that it would be an example of “twitch plays pokemon” incoherence. But as the turns have racked up it’s become a really interesting model of the kind of decision-making and loose coordination the soldiers and squad leaders who find themselves in these kind of situations must have to do. Great stuff, wonderfully executed. Thanks!

  7. declan_23 says:

    Ryumin’s squad at s16 to run to o15. The squad at w16 (if they’ve not just had enough) to move up to p15.