Operation Oryx: Turn 6

The story that explains why Milan Lesov, his son, and their pilfered RPG-7 didn’t make it to the rendezvous at Viktor’s house, is long and complicated. It involves a well, a promise, and a small spray-bottle of nitroglycerin. When this is all over, if you’re still interested, I’ll give you the details.

(Operation Oryx is an open-to-all game of Combat Mission: Cold War set in 1981. The commenter-controlled Zendoran forces are attempting to ambush a column of Podrabian vehicles bound for Zečin, the Zendoran capital. Each turn covers one minute of WeGo action. For a scenario outline and summaries of earlier turns, click here).

All you really need to know right now is that Lesov Senior and Lesov Junior almost join the fray during turn 6. Finally ready for action, they watch from the ground floor of their home as the PT-76 exits the northern portion of the agri merchant’s yard, and cautiously heads south.

Only the difficulty of the shot (there are trees in the LoF and the amphibious tank is effectively hull-down) and the noise of a vehicle approaching from the north prevents the pair from immediately expending their one and only RPG.

Maddeningly for Recon Team Bravo, the PT-76 stops circa 75,9,8. The portion of its main gun and prow plates that are visible constitute too small a target to coax a LAW shot.

Perhaps the tank’s decision to go no further is prompted by the sight of Guskov’s band beating a hasty retreat. The hungover hotel guests are a few strides from relative safety when fat sparks start springing from the asphalt at their feet. They’ve been spotted by the Zen armoured car traversing cover-free box 113! Our BRDM drops an RPG toter on the top of the embankment, and Guskov and his companion immediately dive for cover.

I’m sad to say, one of this turn’s other two casualties wears an M1 helmet. Recon Team Alpha find themselves on the receiving end of RPG fire early in the sixty. The first grenade falls short, but the second shrapnels the grenadier who bruised the BMP last turn.

Our LMG team and M113 respond by hosing the box 62 central reservation though gaps in the tree clump. The maelstrom produces one red cross and flushes several Pods out of the hedge. The frightened hotfoot it back to New Farm. Disappointingly, the light mortar contributes little to this side-skirmish. It lobs two bombs before ceasing fire, and neither land anywhere near the aim point. Sorry marksmanship for a ‘crack’ team!

At turn end this is the situation:

The Lesovs can see the (hull-down) PT-76. To establish LoS to the halted BMP to the north, they’d need to go upstairs.


  1. Turn 7 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following units. (A maximum of one unit per commenter unless you’re a subscriber; they can move two if they like. Embarked infantry and their taxis count as single units until separated.) Turn execution: probably early Monday morning.

    (See screenshot for exact unit locations)

    Light mortar team [BOX 84, weapon deployed]
    MG team [BOX 85, prone]
    Dragon team [BOX 72]
    Recon team A (2 men, 2 x LAW, casulaty requiring first-aid) [BOX 74]
    Recon team B (3 men, 2 X LAW) [BOX 75]
    Recon team C (3 men, 1 X LAW) [BOX 87]
    Otto and Branko (sniper team) [BOX 112, top of dovecot]
    TOW Mutt ‘Muttley’ (8 x ATGM) [BOX 100]
    TOW Mutt ‘Droopy’ (8 x ATGM) [BOX 84]
    Mutt with Forward Observer Team [BOX98, heading for dovecot]

    ****subscribers only****
    The Lesovs [2 men, 1 x RPG, BOX 77]
    BRDM-2 [BOX 114, engaging infantry]
    M113 [BOX 74, buttoned]
    Truck [BOX 107, contents include 8 X RPG-7 ammo]
    Trajanov [BOX 112, still ‘tiring’]
    Trajanov’s Mutt [BOX 83, Viktor’s T-72 crew aboard]

    Please start all order comments with ‘ORDER’ and any later revision comments with ‘REVISED ORDER’. This will help me distinguish firm instructions from suggestions and advice.

    • Order:

      Once their Mutt reaches the Dovecot. Have the FO team move onto to the 6th or 7th floor of the Dovecot, which ever is Two floors down from the roof. And have them face North whilst Holing Fire.

      • Revised Order:

        As the Dovecot has no windows. Have the FO team move upto to the roof, face North and hold fire. With the tank about to be engaged and most of the Pod infantry engaged. They shouldn’t draw attention.

    • ORDER: TOW ‘Muttley’ to push up to a hull-down position on the embankment, aiming to bag that BMP if possible.

    • ORDER: Light mortar team [BOX 84]

      1) For 25 seconds, Area Fire onto the northern carriageway behind the Pod infantry approx. [62, x8, y7]
      2) For 20 seconds, Area Fire into the New Farm yard between the fence and the track [border of boxes 51 & 63, x1]
      3) Admire handiwork?

      • REVISED ORDER: Light mortar team [BOX 84]
        1) For 25 seconds, Target Area as above. (If not possible, target the infantry)
        2) Thereafter, Target Enemy Arc covering the highway from box 61 to box 64. (If required to specify enemy type, then ‘infantry’ (as opposed to armour)).

      • As they have access to ample ammunition (in the truck) the Lesov’s do need to be cautious and protect themselves.

        One thing we haven’t considered is the crew of the PT76. Who’s going to shoot them when they abandon amphibious not-quite-a-ship?

        • The Lesovs are certainly exposed, but the news that the duo in 75 have surrendered has me even more convinced that this is the turn to press the advantage in the East. The PT-76’s only apparent infantry support is currently falling back and is down an RPG. Between the RPG, the BRDM and (potentially) recon Charlie we have a good chance to down the tank before more infantry appear. If we wait too long for the shot and enemy infantry do arrive, the Lesovs will remain pinned in place until they are dealt with too. If we can take out the two armoured vehicles this turn, we might open a window to exfil the Lesovs (via the BRDM?) and get them somewhere the truck can resupply them more conveniently. So I am definitely taking a chance here, but I think it’s the right time to do it.


      OPEN UP (if not already done)

      HUNT* to [102, 4, 0]. This which should place it in LoS of the PT-76 between the garage and the trees to its immediate east.

      TARGET ARMOR covering the village, but not the highway where the BMP is hiding out.

      PAUSE 20 seconds.

      REVERSE to [114, 2, 3]. This should put the garage smack in the middle of the line between the two vehicles.

      * If the BRDM currently has LoS to any enemy infantry, replace this with QUICK. I don’t want our boys just deciding to sit there because there’s a lone vehicle crew by the hotel.

      • As a point of curiousity, does the BRDM have anything that can do more than irritate the PT76? I thought it was equipped with a machine gun and nothing bigger.

        • @cederic See my later comment about the effectiveness of the 14.5mm MG. It’s designed to take out 32mm of armor at 500m, so with the PT-76 sides being 14mm (20mm equivalent at 45 degrees) and the range being closer to 300m, I think we’ve got a good chance of some penetrating hits.

    • ORDER:

      MG team relocates to 86 X3 Y2 at best speed, then goes prone again.

      I want to use the lull in the fighting to get them into some sort of cover at last.

    • Order:
      Trajanov’s Mutt and the T-72 crew to drive *as fast as possible* north, over the motorway (in my head they’re doing a Dukes of Hazzard-style jump), before coming to a stop to the west of the woods in box 47, hopefully in good cover.

      Looking closely, they might be on the wrong side of a fence, there’s a gateway at box 84, 5x8y.

      • Daaaang! It’s gonna be cinematic watching them drive past two BMPs and a pinned infantry squad, plus whatever is already on the road. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

        • Hopefully they’ll stay at least 500m away, while all the enemy are too busy with our other units which are closer and shooting at them.

    • ORDER – Recon team A to prioritise giving first aid to their heroic colleague who, when so nearly surviving the battle unharmed, took a mere flesh wound to save his team from almost certain death at the hands of the dastardly evil invading Pods.

      Once they’ve done that, and ideally throughout with the chap that isn’t actively bandaging, wait for that BMP and give it a right hard spanking with one of their LAWs.

    • If no-one has any objections, I’ll take the boring but necessary order and get the truck closer for a Lesov resupply.

      ORDER: Truck to follow path of FO team’s mutt: NE along road to box 97, then E to 98

  2. Thank you Tim for another tense write-up, and my sympathies to those that need spray-on nitroglycerin.

    Is this a new record – turn 6 before we take any casualties, and even then it’s only ‘wounded’?

    I’m finding the irony painful that we successfully destroyed two trucks, resulting in.. additional infantry that are now shooting at us and limiting our pre-convoy options.

    The Lesovs may be a reasonable bet for the PT76 as a side-armour shot feels an excellent use of their RPG. The alternative is to let it continue its steady progress South and hope our recon team use their LAW not their grenade launcher.

    The Northern BMP is sat on the highway now, might be worth trying to get Muttley into a firing position against it – although if it comes too far along the Dragon team might be interested.

    Recon Team A are blinking annoying. By scaring off instead of destroying that BMP they’ve left us needing cover against it returning but now can’t provide that cover if we task them with repairing their broken grenadier. I suppose we ought to. Time for Recon Team B to watch for the BMP?

    Given the number of infantry and the way they’re inhibiting us, is it worth finding out whether Otto and Branko can see and shoot any of them? Might need to defer putting the spotting team up there for a turn or two to keep them safe, but right now bullets in bodies feel more important than medium calibre shells on the highway.

    Apart from that I’m not sure of our best moves. I don’t think trying to cross the highway is sensible yet, what with two BMPs and a bunch of heavily armed Pod farmers being in the way. I’d suggest we keep the machine gunners safe (ish) so they can pop upstairs in the hotel once that’s clear, their assistance on crowd control will be useful.

    Although the M113 is performing that role admirably – being sheltered from armour coming down the highway while providing fire cover to our infantry lying in ambush is lovely. I’d be tempted to tell them to stop cowering and unbutton though..

    • >> Given the number of infantry and the way they’re inhibiting us, is it worth finding out whether >> Otto and Branko can see and shoot any of them?

      The only enemy unit visible to our sniper at present is the BMP north of Petar’s house, and, annoyingly, it’s buttoned.

      • Tim, can I check whether the sniper team currently has any standing orders (e.g. hold fire, fire at will etc.)? Infantry could start appearing along the highway any time now.

        • It has a very short range cover arc in place which prevents it from firing at distant targets. Otto is itching to use his Dragunov, but obviously won’t unless someone removes that cover arc or assigns him a specific target.

    • Sorry if this is old ground but are we mainly trying to ambush in the west, with a holding force in the east (assuming north is top of map)?

      If so, do either the pt76 or BMP or require redistribution of forces?

      And what can we assume about the convoy? Will they seek to speed down the road regardless of the skirmish, or will they stop and reinforce the enemy we’re already engaged with?

      • The convoy has places to be and (other) people to kill. Trajanov assumes it won’t want to get bogged down fighting for control of a strategic nonentity like Strupnic.

      • I would love us to be able to fully utilise the village to provide multiple avenues for ambush, so from my perspective our positioning in the West is to assure we can target vehicles on the highway without unduly exposing ourselves.

        The PT76 and both remaining BMPs (there’s one on the highway and one last seen just North of it to the West of the farm) are both preventing us exploiting the village and also threatening our ambushing forces. I think we’re covering the PT76 quite well with the positioning and orders issued, and we have ambushers lying in wait for the BMPs (or indeed anything else that nips down the highway).

        I think Recon teams A and B are the main gap in our orders so far this turn, so may issue an order tomorrow if they continued to be neglected.

        • Personally I am reluctant to move either Recon A or B this turn, since we have other assets moving into place that might nudge the vehicles toward our position. I guess if we move it might attract attention, and I’m not sure there is anywhere we could go that would provide better angles than our current (admittedly not-very-good) ones. The only move I see that could be useful is moving Recon B north through the trees, but given that the PT-76 is just centimeters away from getting a LAW through its side, I’m tempted to let them sit there just one more turn.

          Once the village is a bit more cleared out, it might be interesting to push them into buildings or up the highway. I think it would be worth getting some chaps further out east near the bridge for early spotting and perhaps some surprise shots as the tanks roll through… But perhaps a TOW Mutt would be better off over there, since it can retreat faster.

          • Well, I’ll give an order to Recon Team A (see reply to Tim’s request for orders), and you can choose whether Recon Team B need further instructions to provide suitable cover.

    • How much of the PT-76 can the Lesovs see? If they have a good chance of scoring a hit I agree that should be their target, but if they are significantly obstructed I’m wondering if getting upstairs and targeting the BMP would be better value.

      • I´m quite liking the idea of going upstairs. The BMP from the north-east is currently sitting right on the highway and not much further than the PT-76. Alternatively hitting the PT-76 from upstairs might be an easier shot, too, since Tim described it as `hull-down` for the Lesovs.

        • I was leaning towards the BMP as the target, but with Muttley hunting that, I switched to the PT-76, as otherwise nothing will be challenging it beyond potential reaction fire from recon B. I wondered about firing at the tank from upstairs, but figured that the foliage of the trees might prove even more obstructive than the trunks. It’s hard to tell from the screenshots. I could probably be convinced to change my order.

          • Frankly speaking, I don´t know either. I cannot tell if going upstairs and exchanging the `hull-down´ for more leaves would be a good trade-off. I am not even sure if the game engine does or doesn´t treat the forested area just as one homgenous modifier. Can any CM-veteran enlighten us?

            I like the boldness of trying to maximise our damage next turn by leaving the BMP to the Mutt-TOW and setting the Lesovs on the PT-76.

      • The previous adventures of Muttley included hiding again so that prolonged presence didn’t draw unwelcome attention.

        That said, nothing’s been seen or shot at so maybe we should trust to the self-preservation instincts of Muttley’s driver and assume he’ll hit reverse sharpish if any turrets turn his way.

        • During scenario tests, once TOW Mutts had fired, they often chose to reverse rather than reload in sight of the enemy.

  3. I may be thinking too conservatively here, but my gut feeling is for the Lesovs to hold their fire this turn, unless the PT-76 literally trundles into their front yard and rolls over, begging for a fiery belly rub. Because if they miss (and our marksmanship hasn’t been spectacular so far), they’ll either spook it away from Bravo or even the FO team who are halfway to the dovecot and could potentially spot them. Or they’ll draw fire themselves, in which case they’d be thoroughly cooked.

    I think we should get the Lesovs to hide, tempt the PT-76 a bit further forward, wait for the FO team to get up to the top of the crow’s nest, and then see what’s what.

    • Per Tim, the heavy mortar takes about five minutes from an order being given to ordnance landing. It won’t be much use to target the PT-76, unfortunately.

    • I think that’s very sensible. They will realistically get one shot so they need to be very careful about when they take it!

      Put them on a hide order with a short armour attack radius and minuscule infantry attack radius.

  4. It sure is heating up in Strupnic! At least we know we’re that sneaky tank is now. I agree it is the obvious target for Lesov’s RPG but they my draw the attention of the BMP on the highway. It might be worth giving Otto and Branko a target arc to the North West, they definitely need to get in on the action. I’ll adjust the FO team order so they keep out of the way.

    • Or should they carry on up to the roof? I suppose they could stop on a couple of floors down from the roof. The would see a bit less, but there less likely to catch a stray bullet if the sniper team draws fire.

      • I definitely think the FO team should be up *somewhere* on the dovecot. It’s anybody’s guess how far they’ll get up this turn, so maybe a floor or two down from the snipers might be a wise idea, at least to start with. Ideally they’d be up on the roof, but I think we can wait until the end of this turn to assess whether the snipers are about to draw fire.

  5. A few observations:

    – The BRDM sniping the RPG-wielder was critical. I think motostrelki from 1981 could have another RPG (RPG-18?) per squad, but that should reduce the respect we need to have from the village centre. And if it continues driving into cover, the PT-76 won´t get a LOS to it. (and should it move forward to do so it runs right into recon B´s sights) The BMP on the highway might get a small glimpse of it, though.
    – Tim subtly changed the unit list. The truck has additional RPG-7 ammunition. 8 shots! I had written it off as something to draw fire with (at best), but it would totally be worth it to try to get it to Mr Lesov and son.
    – Overall I think we should just keep doing what we are doing. We are not doing too badly casaulty-wise (ignoring for a moment the obviously drugged grenadier who had it coming). There is still plenty of time and no need for a risky assault of the village centre yet.

    @Tim is the MG team still firing at those two crewmen in the village?

    • >> is the MG team still firing at those two crewmen in the village?

      No, and re-examining the turn replay I’ve just discovered the reason why:


      This happened at about T+45. Kudos to Recon Team Charlie and the machinegunners.

  6. Lucky for us the side armor of the PT-76 is showing (sadly at 45 degrees).

    A little Wikipedia research says:
    KPVT 14.5mm MG: Armour penetration at 500 m is 32 mm of rolled homogeneous armour (RHA) at 90 degrees.
    PT-76 armor: 25 mm (turret front), 20 mm (turret sides), 13 mm (turret rear), 14mm (hull sides)

    So even at 45 degrees I feel there’s a decent chance of a side-hull penetration since we’re at something like 300-350m.

    Since that RPG shot sounds potentially ineffective, I think it’s important to try to defend our two ambitious friends where possible. At the same time, I see this as a great chance to provide some cover to the recon teams towards the hotel while screening our recon vehicle from the BMP in 65 should it decide to move west.

  7. We want to get our T-72 up and running ASAP, and we could also do with some eyes north of the motorway, and a bit of a distraction wouldn’t hurt either.
    So, my (possibly crazy) plan is to send the T-72 crew in Trajanov’s Mutt north from box 83, head north, absolutely /send it/ over the motorway*, and then hide to the west of the trees in 47. Hopefully they’ll only be in sight of the infantry in box 83 for a brief moment, and at such a high transverse, that they won’t get shot at. This might even give us a momentary glimpse of what’s on the north side of the motorway, and get the T-72 crew a bit closer to their ride.

    * I guess CM doesn’t model vehicles getting air-time, but in my head they fly over the motorway just like that scene with the valets in Ferris Bueller, except with a Mutt instead of a Ferrari.

    • It is crazy and stupid and I want you to do it.

      You got my full support. If we don´t do it we will wonder if we would have gotten away with it forever.

    • Definitely keen on this order. The only negative might be if it lures vehicles north and west – we have pretty much zero firepower over there! But perhaps in that case we can send one of the TOW Mutts in behind.

      • If the vehicles do head north, it’ll give nice rear-aspect targets for the rest of our forces!

        The next problem will be finding a way thought the fence , I think the nearest entrance is box 38, 4x9y. That can wait for another turn though when hopefully we’ve thinned out/pinned down the enemy a bit more.

    • @Tim
      What is the (unsighted) range of the light mortar? And, after firing, how long is it before WP rounds make a smokescreen?

      Welp, it’s a move that we’re pretty much committed to making at some point, and I don’t see the next 60 seconds as substantially improving the circumstances.
      The question becomes: then what? The New Farm buildings and trees will interrupt vision for the Pods as it moves through 35, 36 & 37 – I’m assuming they’d take the road for speed – but thereafter they’re passing open ground.
      Consequently I’d have a go at firing the White Phosporous rounds at the bottom right corner of box 39 and hope the resulting clouds screen the MUTT from anything on the road (eg. eastern BMP / Pod squaddies).

      • >>What is the (unsighted) range of the light mortar? And, after firing, how long is it before WP rounds make a smokescreen?

        It can lob bombs up to 3490 metres. However, bear in mind, it needs to have LoS to any spot/unit it targets, so can’t blindly hurl WP rounds over the embankment. If you use it to sow a smokescreen, that smokescreen a) will take a minute or two to form, b) won’t be huge (only 6 x WP available), and c) will slowly drift north.

        • @Tim
          Does that mean that the unit will have problems with the orders I’ve given it this turn? Or just the part of it that involves dropping rounds within the New Farm area?

          • I’m 98% certain the light mortar can’t target New Farm because its out of LoS. Even if it could, I’m not sure the kind of mid-turn target switch that you’ve requested, is possible. I’ll experiment.

    • Having read the comments from other commanders I can only simply state: This is lunacy.

      Let’s do it.

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