Communal Combat Mission: Turn 29

The third communal Combat Mission skirmish – a comment-driven confrontation between RPS readers and Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin’s uncommonly entertaining AI – is almost over. By the end of the weekend the commenter-controlled Soviets will either be celebrating a memorable eleventh-hour victory or rueing opportunities/wharves not taken.

For the last 28 days my morning ritual has been as rigid as a varnished eel. After rising, abluting, and preparing breakfast, I’ve set about turning your written CMBB unit instructions into a tangle of in-game waypoints and targeting lines. Once satisfied that the cat’s cradle on my screen accords with the commands in the comments section, I press ‘go’, my pen poised, ready to record the twists and turns of that day’s dramatic rewindable one-minute battle movie.

This morning there was no dramatic rewindable one-minute battle movie. No stirring acts of courage, brutal surprises, or amazing escapes. When I flicked the ‘go’ switch, this happened…

The handful of Germans that haven’t been burnt alive by flamethrowers, shredded by canister shot, blown apart by HE or lead-poisoned by Mosin-Nagants and PPsh-41s, decide, at the beginning of turn 29, that a short spell in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp might actually be preferrable to a violent death in a nameless Latvian town. MP 40s and Kar98ks drop from frozen fingers. Here and there a diehard Nazi presses a cool Luger muzzle to his sweaty temple and barks a final, futile ‘Heil Hitler!’.

Congratulations comment-commanders, you’ve achieved a ‘Major Victory’! The price of that victory? Roughly half of the 126 Ivans involved in taking Nameless Latvian Town were wounded or killed, and four AFVs lost, during the course of the fighting. Only one in five of the enemy survived the battle completely unscathed.

As usual the unit ‘kill’ tallies make interesting reading. Although our deadliest units were unquestionably Flare Path, the OT-34 (22 infantry casualties caused + 1 bunker, AT gun, and halftrack destroyed) and Myshkov’s pioneer platoon (55 infantry casualties caused + 1 AT gun destroyed) almost everyone on the Soviet side made their mark.

Ryumin’s recon platoon – 23
Lapshin’s rifle platoon – 18
Batrakov (mortar spotter) – 7
Renko (sniper) – 2
Tank hunter team – (8 + StuG + StuH)
BA-64B – 7
M5 halftrack – 10
AT gun (3 + 1 AA gun)
Su-122 (2 + Pz IV)

Three of the Germans’ most effective units fought and died close to each other. The Pz IV (12 + Su-76 + Su-122) and the two rifle squads that defended p15 so stubbornly (9 + 5) did their bit magnificently.

Something that can’t be said of the two Axis SPGs. If CM’s silicon CO had used his StuG and StuH more intelligently, things might have turned out differently.

A Sturmtiger-sized ‘thank you’ to everyone who has played or cheered from the sidelines during the past month. Your tactical musings have made great reading, and all the appreciative comments increase the likelihood of communal co-op wargaming appearing on RPS again.

This year’s communal Combat Mission scenario can be downloaded here. Stripped of its surprises it could prove rather easy, so a toughened variant is also available.

53 Comments

  1. zulnam says:

    Ironically, history would go to prove that a quick brutal death would be preferable than a “spell” in a soviet prison.

    Still, good show.

  2. fuggles says:

    I’m filled with happisadness. I had loved reading this to the point of minor 9am obsession, which has been purely down to the writing as I don’t really understand the map or what anything is!

    It looked close though – well done all.

    Where do I find the other 2 communal battles? The rps tag failed me.

  3. Michael Fogg says:

    I’d really love to watch a captured replay of the whole battle, preferably with the appropriate commentary.

  4. Chopper says:

    Hurrah! Congrats to all involved. I definitely did not see this coming.

  5. BooleanBob says:

    One last minor heart-attack from the red filter survived, and it’s… victory!

    Thanks again, Tim! Your war-economy of words was expertly deployed, turning what might otherwise have been an uninspiring soup of ancient graphics and impenetrable abstractions into an explosive, evocative, and fully-inhabitable battlefield. Every post was not only richly-described, but also impeccably-structured, the emotional arcs provoking gasps of excitement and groans of despair as the tides of battle ebbed and flowed.

    You deserve a medal for all the effort put into this campaign, not least of which would have been grappling with the coordinate-illiteracy which stalked my orders like a Soviet anti-tank dog stalking a Soviet tank.

    Another big thanks to all my fellow commenteers. You made this such a fun experience to be a part of. Now that we’ve saved the town, perhaps we can look to saving our own skins. If we get our stories straight I’m sure we can account for the loss of all that armour without anyone needing to join our newly-acquired PoWs on their trip to Siberia.

    But that can wait. I believe someone mentioned vodka and carousing? Someone check the BA; that borscht has surely been nicely heated through by the, uh, on-fireness of it.

    So all said and done, the final defenders were the mortar, the AA gun crew, and the infantry at s12 and l6?

  6. Premium User Badge

    Milli says:

    Catching up on the escapades of the RPS Soviet commanders has been a highlight of my daily commute. Really great series Tim and excellent commentary.

  7. opowell says:

    Well played, everyone. Would also love to see the final score screen and/our game file.

  8. Electricfox says:

    URRAAAA!!

    Well done all, and thank you very much Tim for running this. It’s been a fantastic experience to be the commander of Comrade BA-64B, and thoroughly enjoyable to read your daily write-ups.

    In fact, I think you should receive the Order of Lenin for your efforts in defeating the fascisti, comrade!

    link to soviet-power.com

    Za Flarepathia! Urra!

  9. ElementalAlchemist says:

    Surrender? Hitler will not be amused.

    Something of an anticlimax, I must say, although of course victory is a welcome alternative than the at-best stalemate I was expecting. Well done to those that proffered commands (even if they wound up killing our AFVs *cough*). I look forward to the next Combative Commenters event. Perhaps some North African action?

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    The Almighty Moo says:

    This has been so much fun to watch and read about, even as I was lurking from the sidelines. Brilliantly written, wonderfully suspenseful, I cannot wait for more.

  11. Dogshevik says:

    WHAT? No way! I absolutely didn´t see that coming. I am not even sure if I am relieved or (irrationally) feeling cheated. Phew! What a game. I was fully prepared that this might have been a loss. A maddinlgy close one. But then this.^^

    Tim, my hat is off. The idea for this, the work you put into it and, maybe most of all, your writing made a dated game and a simple message board into a memorable wargaming experience. I mean literally. I am sure all the comment-commanders and many of the onlookers will not forget. All the up and downs of this scrap will be told and re-told to friends and family. (if they seem interested or not) I am pretty sure that counts for something, when it comes to what writers aim for.

    To my comrades. I don´t think I actually have to say anything. Reading their comments they pretty much echo my own thoughts. There would be alot of reminiscing to do alot of congratulating and speculating etc.
    But for now: vodka and carousing. A toast to all the little pixel-men.

    And Tim! When you have (deservedly) recuperated…we do this again. Soon. Right?

    Damn right!

  12. alh_p says:

    Spasiba Timko! Having contributed to all three of these so far, I sincerely hope we do get to do it again, even if in a year! I will endeavour to be more parsimonious with AFVs next time, for one… :)

    You really have hit on a great formula I feel. Your embellishments of the game elevate it and conceal it’s shortcomings. The occasions like the stug/stuh messup, where the game is too obvious and borked, are few and far between.

    Thanks to all comrade commanders, it’s been great deliberating over and condemning our digital charges…

  13. JB says:

    Tim, I can only say (in a poor accent, no doubt) благодаря!

    I look forward to more Flare Path and more Combative Commenting too. Good work, all involved.

    • Tuidjy says:

      “Благодаря!” is “Thank you!” in a few Slavic languages, like Bulgarian, but not in Russian.

      In Russian, it means “Thanks to …” and requires a noun or pronoun. Don’t trust Google Translate.

      The word you are looking for is “Спасибо!”, pronounced “Spasiba!”

      • JB says:

        See, I said I’d get it wrong ;)

        I’ll stick with spasiba! (I sort of knew the pronounciation already, but thank you for the clarification!)

  14. Synesthesia says:

    Congratulations to all involved, За здоровье! This was a joy to read. Can’t wait for more!

  15. Fnord73 says:

    Brilliant. I have been a lurker, but the fate of the “Flare Path” actually got me hooked early on. More of this, please, and maybe in different games as well?

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    tigerfort says:

    Congratulations (and thanks) to (St)one and all; a battle hard fought, and a really interesting and entertaining read for this non-contributor!

  17. J.C. says:

    Guess I was wrong. Fun end to that scenario. I’ve always wished that the Battlefront developers would go back and at least touch up the A.I. for their older title. Seems like the AI for those Stug’s got a little confused. The AI in their newer CM’s is pretty good, especially when they attack.

  18. Peralph says:

    Congratulations to all the commanders and huge, huge, huge thank yous to TS. My feelings are akin to watching many other competitions.

    “Yayyyy!!! That was amazing!” followed way too soon by “It’s over. Now I have to…wait. I will distract myself with something else and pretend that I don’t have to wait forever for the next installment.” (and pray there is a next installment)

    And in prep for next time…can someone provide links to tutorials or something similar so I’m not lost half of the time? Who knows, maybe I’ll even join in.

  19. Vilos Cohaagen says:

    This was bloody great! Thank you Tim and commenters for keeping me entertained for the last month. Amazing stuff with an ending I did not see coming. Best series I’ve read on RPS for ages.

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    teije says:

    Half the time (well okay most of it) I had no idea what was going on, but what a great series to read! Congratulations to Mr. Stone and the brave commenters for the drama and the eventual win.

  21. Sin Vega says:

    Holy cow! Colour me completely wrong. They obviously had everything out fighting, I had assumed there were some nasty ambushes waiting for us out north of the wharves. Good show everyone! Nazi burgers for all!

  22. Wilson says:

    Wow, congratulations everyone (especially Tim for doing an excellent job running and narrating the show!). As with a few others I was afraid there could be more resistance at the wharves, but I don’t feel underwhelmed by this result at all – it was hard fighting to get here.

    My vote for MVP would definitely be Myshkov’s pioneers, showing amazing fighting spirit from start to end.

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    Serrit says:

    Congrats all of you, really enjoyed reading these over the past month. I found the “daily” post format (I think the previous ones used a “updated post” form) worked really well to stop me forgetting about the action, and consuming each turn in a smaller format felt less intimidating than returning to a single post after a couple of weeks and seeing the size of the scrollbar :-)

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    heretic says:

    Thanks Tim! What a read – can’t wait for the next installment!

  25. Landiss says:

    I just want to repeat what others said already – it was a great fun just to read those daily updates. While I didn’t feel I could add anything as commander, just watching others giving orders and following the events as they unfold was very enjoyable.

    I wish that the next time it would be perhaps a different game? Is there a chance for somewhat less modern setting?

  26. klops says:

    Very enjoyable article series to read. Thanks!

  27. DirtyDevo says:

    This was great. I could hardly wait to fire up the web browser each morning to read the latest installment!

    Thanks Tim – this was a lot of work. Battlefront should pay you a stipend, this series convinced me to dust off and update my old copy of Combat Mission!

  28. MajorFordson says:

    Bravo! A very enjoyable daily read :D

  29. Mi-24 says:

    Congratulations on the glorious victory comrades!
    I’ve not actually contributed and therefore maybe am not a comrade but I’ve had great fun watching this evolve over time despite not knowing the game and loved all of Tims beautiful and poetic(?) descriptions of the events.

  30. phlebas says:

    Victory! Congratulations to all involved with commanding, and thanks and respect to Tovarisch Stone for making this an unmissable read each day!

  31. Stugle says:

    Congratulations to Tim and all participants for a hard-fought victory! It’s been a joy to follow along these past four weeks, and follow I did, every morning (even if I didn’t comment). Now that the battle is finished, there’ll be a hole in my daily routine. BUT! It did inspire me to order the game on physical media (I’ll have to dig out an external DVD drive to read it), so hopefully I’ll be persecuting Krauts solo soon.

  32. buzzmong says:

    Excellent mission and write up.
    Here’s to next year’s CCM!

  33. Hawkseraph says:

    Good job, comrades!
    I was sure this was gonna be a pitched few last rounds. Grr Germans.

  34. Rorschach617 says:

    Definitely a heart-in-mouth read.

    Well done, our plucky commanders, triple vodka ration heading your way :)

    Quick question. There are a couple of turn-based naval warfare games that I know of (Atlantic Fleet and Ironclads) and maybe more. Might be worth a thought for the future.

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    phuzz says:

    Thanks for running this Tim, it was great fun :)
    I’m just glad I didn’t get anyone killed with my orders.

  36. mlegas says:

    I have followed The Flare Path closely for a few years now and just wanted to add how much I enjoy reading these CM communal plays. It is like a small novella each time. Someday I hope to be skilled enough to be a lieutenant of a squad. Again keep up the great work! Oh and thanks for all the great game recommendations. I never knew about Combat Mission until I read one of your articles a few years back. I own several of the games now.

  37. Pharaoh Nanjulian says:

    What I’ve been logging in to RPS to read for the past few weeks. Another excellent idea and write up. Perhaps next time I’ll have the chutzpah to dabble in the order queue!

    Thank you Mr Stone.

  38. Cederic says:

    Thank you commanders. Big thank you Tim.

  39. Rituro says:

    AMAZING. Well done, everyone! Excellent combat by comments, with a result I didn’t foresee happening based on how brutal that push to the wharf was turning out to be.

    Massive thanks to Tim for bringing this feature back. Can’t wait for the next one!

  40. Tim Stone says:

    Thanks for all the feedback. Very encouraging.

    If anyone fancies solo-ing the scenario or trying a toughened variant, there are now download links at the end of the post.

  41. bktor says:

    “The handful of Germans that haven’t been burnt alive by flamethrowers, shredded by canister shot, blown apart by HE or lead-poisoned by Mosin-Nagants and PPsh-41s, decide, at the beginning of turn 29, that a short spell in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp might actually be preferrable to a violent death in a nameless Latvian town.”

    This is why I keep returning to Stone’s otherwise lame AARs/DARs of outdated Combat Mission games. Keep it up! I still enjoy CMx1 from time to time despite its computational and visual inferiority. I would however suggest CMx2 next time. But if you do make the switch, CMx1 may die, so there’s that.

  42. Kobus4444 says:

    Thanks for the great story. I almost never register or comment on any site, but this was worth it. FlarePath has led me to some great games, including Combat Mission. Tim, your writing is compelling and funny. I loved checking in every day or so for an update on the mission’s progress.

    Keep ’em coming!

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