Eight tenacious tank commanders needed

In this year’s play-by-comment Combat Mission game, the volunteer order issuers aren’t fighting a synthetic foe, they’re fighting each other. It’s January 1945. After a night of confused combat in a foggy/frozen Silesian city, four Soviet and four German AFV crews wake to find the fog gone and the frontline indiscernible. The next thirty minutes of armoured cat and mouse will decide which side goes down in history as The Lions of Lodowice.

Combat Mission: Red Thunder isn’t designed for play-by-comment gaming or turnbased team deathmatch so, be warned, some suspension of disbelief will be required over the next few weeks.

Thanks to the Po-2 and the Storch circling overhead, at the start of each turn both sides will know exactly where their opponent’s vehicles are. What they won’t know, of course, is what those vehicles are going to do during the next sixty seconds of non-intervention WEGO action.

Because each side will get to discuss tactics and issue orders in their own password-protected mess rooms, surprises should be possible. And, hopefully, random starting positions and commander traits (see on) will inject additional uncertainty into proceedings.

The eight cobble grazers…

SOVIET: SU-100*, IS-2*, M4A2(76)W, and  T-34-85.

GERMAN: Jagdpanzer IV*, Tiger, King Tiger*, and Panther.

…will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis (In order to operate one of the starred machines you must be an airlifter – one of the splendid individuals whose monthly subscriptions keep Tally-Ho Corner going). Stake a claim by posting a comment below along the lines of “I’d like to control the Tiger for the duration of the battle.”

When choosing a ride you also need to provide a previously unselected number between 1 and 10 (this randomly determines your starting spot) and a previously unselected letter between A and J (your ‘trait’). ‘Traits’ are a THC house rule. They come in ten different forms, shouldn’t be disclosed to the enemy, and will either restrict or enhance your options in the fighting to come.

Once all angry houses have been claimed, I will inform the lucky eight players of their starting squares and traits, and provide them with links and passwords to their team’s ‘mess room’. Teams will then be in a position to discuss and issue their first batch of orders. The rate at which the game advances will depend on how much work I have on, and how quickly the participants (who must be willing to oversee their unit for the entirety of the scrap) make decisions. Expect, at the very least, one turn report per week.

What can I tell you about central Lodowice that this map…

(green squares = possible starting spots)

…and this image…

…don’t reveal?

Not much. Divided by the Vistula, and crowded with structures, the battlefield is flat and approximately 310m by 400m.

Tank commanders should be aware that although the city starts deserted except for the eight AFVs, small groups of AI-controlled infantry (some of whom may tote AT weapons) are likely to enter the battlefield from Turn 5 onwards. The Soviet contingents will arrive in the NE corner of the map, the German ones in the SW.


  1. I would love to try my hand in commanding the Panther. Starting position 3, Trait E.

    Will the objectives be discussed later and/or privately or is this strictly a deathmatch?

  2. Permadeath and PVP: oh dear, this is going to be very stressful.

    I’d like to bagsie the SU-100 please Tim.

    Trait A, start 1.

  3. I don’t think I ever made it to an IS-2 in World of Tanks, so perhaps I’ll try my hand at it here.

    I’ll break the pattern and go J, 10.

  4. All right, let’s give it a go. You know what they say:

    Man is steel, the tank is only iron.

    I’ll gawk at the King Tiger, but ultimately fit my gloves for a hopeful command of the M4A2 please.

    Starting & Trait: F & 8

  5. This sounds quite excellent. I hope those of us lacking the time to commit to a permanent command role are able to provide commentary and helpful* suggestions as the battle progresses.

    *”helpful” in the most generous of interpretations

    • I’m sure many a tank commander can recall the grizzled veteran from their training, who’s sage wisdom occasionally echoes through memory and the body of the tank.

      Advice is certainly welcomed, and someday I can imagine further fractalization as comment commanders enlist additional commenters to command…

  6. Great concept, looking forward to the reports! ‘unfortunately’ I am abroad without internet for a couple of weeks soon, so I won’t be able to participate.

  7. I believe the Jagdpanzer and King Tiger remain unclaimed. I’m happy to take either if that’s the case – no preference.

    Trait and starting: 4 G

  8. Good luck, tank commenters! You will be scrutinized (and judged) gently by posterity, I have been assured. I hope the password protection of the mess halls will be lifted, once the dust has settled. I can imagine how tantalizing it could be to find out what was actually planned by the other side and what was sheer dumb luck.

    If Tim is not too tired after all of this I coild even imagine a feature with the mess hall highlights as captions over screenshots. (say::: Jagdtiger: `I got this!`–>Jagdtiger drives into a ditch)
    You know like the young folk are wont to do with their me-mes!

    • That’s so likely to be me! “I’ve got this sorted”. Blows up spectacularly. Err, no I haven’t!

  9. If the last unclaimed AFV (King Tiger or Jagdpanzer IV as VFRHawk hasn’t specified) is still commander-less this time tomorrow, then consider the ‘airlifter only’ stipulation lifted. Any reader can take it.

  10. I’ll take the last slot if its still available. With the King Tiger, my lucky number 6 and usual exam grades D.

  11. Great. I’ve updated the map to show starting positions (red = Soviet AFVs, black = German) and will send out mess passwords and trait info later today.

  12. One thing I failed to mention above is a new approach to map coordinates. As each map square consists of nine smaller squares, I envisaged “move to d7SE” and “reverse to k11N”-style orders. A coordinate followed by one of eight compass points or, if the destination is at the centre of a square, nothing.

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