Operation Oryx: Turn 15

We’re halfway through THC’s second play-by-comment Combat Mission marathon. Having eliminated the majority of the Pod mechanized infantry units occupying Strupnic, the Comment Commanders are about to take on a much more formidable enemy force. The odds of a purloined T-72, two TOW Mutts, a TOW team, and an assortment of mortarmen, grenadiers and LAW toters, stopping around thirty MBTs aren’t great, but if the ambushers fail it won’t be from lack of courage, belief, or effort.

(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).

Unexpectedly, it’s Droopy who opens the ambush.

In the first few seconds of the turn, through a gap in the dust and smoke, our northern TOW Mutt spots the lead tank and lets fly.

Crossing portions of the battlefield jostled by mortar bomb blasts, the finned HEAT projectile briefly climbs before spearing downwards towards the crowded embankment.

Slava Zendora!

Moments after the KO, Droopy starts reversing in the direction of the small wedge of woodland in the NW corner of the map, reloading as he goes.

The light mortar team also heads north this turn, a movement that probably saves their bacon. Apart from a light wound caused by HE shrapnel, they reach the box 59/47 thicket unscathed.

In what might prove to be their final contribution to the battle, the Pod remnants near the crossroads take potshots at our mortarmen as they relocate.

Why are the crossroaders living on borrowed time? About fifteen seconds before the clock stops, the adjusted heavy mortar barrage begins striking the embankment in boxes 63 to 65.

Everything goes swimmingly for the Zens until T+58, the moment when speedy Scooby is struck from behind by something speedier. The daring Mutt that ensured Viktor and Co. were reunited with Tereza, is tantalisingly close to the cover of the box 35 barn when Death, in the shape of a115mm HE round, overtakes it.

Also this turn…

Our machinegunners ventilated the cab of the embankment ZIL. The punctured truck responded by backing in the direction of the Vostock Memorial.

The T-62 closest to Droopy’s victim decided to pivot SE. It’s not clear whether it has lost its bottle or is trying to bypass the wreck in its path.

Droopy reloaded. At the start of turn 16 he has LoS to a T-62 close to the KOed BTR.

Recon teams Bravo and Charlie advanced – Charlie after acquiring a LAW and replenishing ammo from Scrappy

The M113 auto-reversed, probably after glimpsing a T-62 through the trees.


  1. Turn 16 orders here, please. Commenters are cordially invited to suggest moves for the following units. (A maximum of one unit per commenter (subscribers can move two if they like). Embarked infantry and their taxis count as single units until separated.) Turn execution: probably Monday morning (Sorry, other commitments mean updates are likely to be weekly from here-on)

    Light mortar team [BOX 59]
    MG team [BOX 86]
    Dragon team [BOX 72]
    Recon team A (1 man, 1 x LAW) [BOX 74]
    Recon team B (3 men) [BOX 75]
    Recon team C (3 men, 1 x LAW) [BOX 87]
    Otto and Branko (sniper team) [BOX 100]
    Forward Observer Team [BOX 112]
    TOW Mutt ‘Muttley’ (7 x ATGM) [BOX 87]
    TOW Mutt ‘Droopy’ (6 x ATGM) [BOX 23]
    Mutt ‘Scrappy’

    ****subscribers only****
    Trajanov [BOX 100]
    Truck [BOX 98]
    The Lesovs [BOX 74]
    M113 [BOX 74, unbuttoned]
    Tereza [BOX 17]

    • Alright, we’re all out of LAWs, time for Recon B to switch to crew mop-up duties.

      ORDER: Recon B was already ordered to head to the gap at X9, Y7. Now just have them continue moving carefully to that point, then switch to a dash around the corner and into the two storey building in the compound, around X8, Y10. Go up to second floor and let’s try to hit any unbuttoned commander or scampering infantry we can find. Hopefully the friendly artillery shells won’t land on our heads.

    • ORDER: Droopy FAST to [35, 4, 10]

      Let’s get him behind the house while there’s still smoke and the other tanks aren’t aiming at him. From my understanding of geometry he’ll have great LoS to the crossroads and past the town. We can always peek him out later if the convoy changes tactics.

      • Could I gently suggest not dashing Droopy to that house? Scooby got KO-ed just next to it, so SOMETHING has LOS to that field Droopy would have to cross.

        In any case, Droopy is reloaded and seems like he’s about to fire again. If we’re feeling worried about him Id rather hide him in the copse of trees he’s occupying.

        • Definitely a reasonable request. Some of my reasoning:

          I looked at the map and drew lines between his current hex, the corners of buildings, and the road. Right now he’s in the middle of a kill zone for all the enemy tanks. It’s about 30-40 meters south to the building, but once he’s behind it he’s pretty much guaranteed to be safe unless there’s an enemy right at the crossroads, or right next to our M113.

          I don’t think those trees are cover enough for him, and I think if he fires again he’ll have 3 enemy tanks ready to shoot him, so I think we risk the 20 seconds of fire to get there. If it’s any comfort, he’ll be moving perpendicular to their line of travel, rather than directly away from them, making for a harder shot.

    • ORDER:

      Dragon Team to set up a TARGET ARMOR arc to the middle of box 62, covering the highway as well as the visible roads parallel to it. If they are not already HIDING, please make them do so.

      2nd order because I’m a subscriber.

    • ORDER

      Recon C to move QUICK into the Travelers Rest, on the Ground Floor and FACE North. Hopefully they can give Recon B some cover as they move up.

    • ORDER: M113 move to 86,7,2 facing north.

      I quite liked it where it was, but if a tank spotted through the trees is enough to spook our crew, heaven knows what the stampede that’s coming will do. Hopefully they feel a bit more secure around the houses.

    • I’m trying to find somewhere safe for the light mortar squad to observe from. If escaping enemy vehicles were to stay on the highway, then near the base of the slope could be safe-ish since they couldn’t depress their guns low enough. Somewhat unlikely, however.

      ORDERS: Light mortar team [BOX 59]
      1) Crawl further north into the copse, probably the bottom row of box 47. Face east.
      Priority is a good view to the east. Secondary is a poor view of the highway (on the logic that if we can’t see the highway, the highway can’t see us)

      2) Hold fire

      I won’t hide them at this stage, as that would reduce our spotting further.

  2. RIP Scooby. On the plus side, 1 tank down, 29 to go? Also glad to the mortar team make a clean-ish get away. I do worry, if we manage to knock out say 10 to 15 tanks on the highway. It might become impassable, and the remainder of the convoy could drive off in multiple unpredictable directions.

    • I had to remind myself that keeping the tanks on the map would also be a win. We do not have to destroy them all and if they disperse and waste time on hunting us down they are not exiting the map.
      Aside: Survival is only a secondary mission goal. 🙂

      • I’m going to be playing this with the notion that force-preservation, particularly of reloadable AT assets, is essential to our continued success.

        Thinking beyond today’s engagement, if half the enemy tanks were to break through our lines our Mutt’s could either harass them from the rear or circle back to a resupply point and run a new ambush up the road tomorrow.

    • I’m not looking forward to those numbers, mainly because I doubt I have the brain capacity to keep memory of the enemy vehicles we do knock out. I had been confused by the BTR until Tim mentioned it was KO’d.

    • I do feel somewhat responsible as I gave the order, but at least we’ll always have the Dukes of Hazard jump over the embankment.
      I my defence, Scooby’s only possible contribution was transporting the LAW round it was carrying to someone who could use it, in time to be useful. If we’d waited it would have only got more hazardous.

      Hmm, unless we’d waited a bit, then gone *east* instead, then cut round the back of the convoy.
      Which makes me think, would that be a good plan for Tereza? There’s trees in 53-55 which will at least partially shield her, and if we *could* get her behind the convoy, she could clean up.

      • The convoy is about 30 vehicles total – there is a lot more armour due to appear down the road. I’d rather not expose Tereza unless absolutely necessary.

  3. The smoke ain´t so bad, after all. On oryx15o.jpg it looks like it actually blocks the southern lane of the highway while not obstructing our own LOS. A shame we had to abort the mission, sothe mortar team can get out of dodge.

  4. The good news is that Droopy took out one of our foes. The bad news is that we struck far ahead of our ambush point. I’m now once again very scared for our TOW platform since it’s going in the wrong direction. It needs to hide behind that house, but the Tac AI is saying “trees are cover, right?”

    I’m gonna try to hide it and give it a window to the enemy side armor if they continue to advance.

    • There’s a chance that Commodore_L and fellow fools have concluded that the rocket that took out the T-62 came from a MUTT, and having eliminated a MUTT assume that quarter to be safe.

      @Tim, sort of
      Do we know what sort of ‘Shoot & Scoot’ commands this version of CM has and how they’re implemented?

      • To shoot and scoot, I think you would have to give a TARGET BRIEFLY order. I think you can specify any time between 15 seconds and 2 and a half minutes, going up in increments. So in theory you could give Target Briefly then a Move order. But I’m not exactly sure how you set it up in game.

        • Yup that’s exactly right. The problem with that is ‘TARGET BRIEFLY’ is no respecter whatsoever of what the unit is doing. If a TOW unit is midway through guiding a rocket at the end of the timer, it will merrily abandon its task to implement the next order.

      • Commodore_L: proving that having a goatee to stroke doesn’t automatically make you wise. Although I’m sure corporalwardrobe, Rifle Rod, and stoatstoat were all there egging him on with their typically short-sighted hubris.

  5. The enemy now has two active trucks north of the highway, and we don’t know what they’re transporting. We don’t have sufficient assets there to deal with infantry (Tereza has bigger fish to fry).

    light mortar team ought to hide to avoid being drawn into a firefight.

    Any comments?

    @Tim, also
    Does it look like the ghost of General Patton is going to give the BRDM commander a slap any time in the near future?

    • I hope that getting Recon B upstairs near the highway might give us a chance to at least observe what’s going on to the north, if not take some potshots at the driver. Might be worth trying to send the M113 to the north if the highway is smokey enough. The south side is pretty well-covered with our recon, MG and sniper teams.

      • I agree we don’t have fire power on the North side of the highway. But I think we’ll just have to accept it for now. If the tanks vould spot poor Scooby when he was partially concealed from smoke. The big boxy M113 will be a mutch easier target.

          • Poor guy! I hope he can keep it together and survive this. Perhaps we can send over one of our recon chaps to keep him company a bit later on, once they’re out of LAWs and if there’s an opportune moment.

    • Presumably Tereza also has a big machine gun? That should stop any trucks/infantry that swan into view.

      • I think the commander has a 12.7mm heavy machine gun he can operate without having to unbutton. The gunner will also have his co-axial mg (not sure of the caliber) at his disposal.

  6. @Tim: What kind of LoS does Droopy have to the enemy tanks? Are there spots right around them that are open, or is the whole area obscured? Is the smoke all that is doing the obscuring?

    • At the moment the dust curtain generated by the late lamented Scooby seems to be blocking Droopy’s view SE to the highway. Although the spotting icons suggest he can see the T-62 next to the BTR, if I try to issue a target order I find I can’t because of ‘No Line of Sight’.

      Incidentally, Recon Team Bravo currently has eyes on both the BTR-adjacent T-62 and the one behind it.

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