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. Eight turns after leaving their deployment zone, the commenter-controlled Soviets are in control of two of the map's seven Victory Locations (East Bridge and West Bridge) and hoping to slay a recently spotted StuG before the next order phase arrives.
Are you sitting down?
Renko the sniper has just centred the StuG commander in his reticule when a thunderous report and a floor-shaking shockwave rudely shoves that reticule towards a patch of iron-grey sky.
The T-34/85 in the garden below has exploded! Four crewmen slither from hatches, their overalls seeping coils of blue-black smoke. Nearby comrades, satisfied the Pak 38 (not a suspect in the T-34 slaying) is no longer a threat, try to make sense of the situation.
The Soviet marksman is the first to locate the tank killer. “AT gun under the trees in the square!”
The warning is relayed too late for Myshkov's most northerly squad who learn of the camouflaged German gun from a room-wrecking HE blast. As the deafened, dust-caked pioneers pick themselves up – miraculously, no-one has been seriously hurt - swift, accurate suppressive fire from Renko prevents a follow-up shot.
Turn 9's other piece of bad news is also gun-related. Hurrying northward with one of Lapshin's rifle squads clinging to its engine deck, the newly arrived SU-122 is struck by several long-range cannon shells. Though the 20mm (?) projectiles do no damage, they do prove the enemy gun on the end of the new wharf is still alive and kicking.
The situation at the end of turn 9.
At West Bridge the only sound is the crackle of flames from the warehouse north of the river. Batrakov's mortar bombs are now only a minute away.
After depositing a tank hunter team at gg16 (sorry, I didn't notice the M5 was carrying this two-man unit last turn) the Soviet halftrack is bumping along the spit road, destination aa7.
At East Bridge, Renko is distracting and discouraging the German gunners in the square. The pioneers heading for q25 are still 'pinned'. The StuG, now buttoned, hasn't moved from f26 and continues to face east.
The SU-122 and its passengers are approaching the abandoned bunker by the bridge. Trailing some distance behind, the bulk of Lapshin's platoon won't reach East Bridge for at least a turn.