Last Saturday we were up at 0500 with our van packed and heading down the road to St Helens to put on a participation game of Combat Patrol, the WW2 skirmish wargame by 'Buck' Surdu. For those of you who have not come across this game before, it is a unique set of miniatures rules that can be played with any scale of wargames figures and represents platoon level combat in WW2 (the same level of action as in Bolt Action, for example). The rules are very streamlined, the complexity of the rules have been encoded within the 50 card action deck that is used to resolve, small arms fire, anti-tank fire, HE, movement and morale checks!
Our game was set in Normandy, a couple of days after D-Day and sees a US Armored Infantry Platoon advancing towards a French market town defended by German para's.
The US player takes a risky strategy and heads up the road at full speed in the M3 halftracks before de-bussing his infantry.
Combat Patrol can be played with two players, but one of it's strengths is how easily it can be used for large multi-player games with each player command a platoon or a handful of squads. At St Helens we had two players on each side and it was not long before they had learnt the rules and were resolving combat themselves.
At the start of each turn a D6 command dice is rolled for each unit leader (officer or NCO). This dice stays with the unit until the end of the turn. An activation deck is made up of black 1-6 cards, red 1-6 cards and a reshuffle card. When a card is turned, all units whose command dice matches get to activate. If units from both side could activate, a card is drawn from the action deck to determine the activation order. If a unit gets pinned as a result of a morale check, it then only activates on black cards, simply reducing it's effectivness by 50% until it is rallied.
Firing is targeted against a target area, rather than a particular unit. This is a great approach, it mimics real life practice where a section commander gives his unit a fire control order to direct their fire into a specefic area and avoids the 'gamey' practise seen with some rule systems when a small special unit like a couple of forward observers is located next to an infantry section and the firer can elect to fire just at the observation team.
A German Anti-Tank gun is deployed for action. Anti-Tank fire is very similar to small arms fire. Firstly a card is drawn to see if the round hits taking into accounts factors like range, if the target or fire has moved, if the firer is wounded or out of command. If the round hits a second card is drawn to see where the round strikes the vehicle by looking at a picture that has the impact area marked in red. We can then check the strength of armor and the firer adds a D10 to the penetration factor of their weapon to see if the round penetrates the vehicle. Once we know that we can determine if the vehicle has 'brewed up', or what other damage is sustained.
The US attack grinds to a halt in the face of an aggresive counterattack by German para's that catches the US infantry in the open.
An interesting and enjoyable game was had by all.
You can find out more about Combat Patrol rule system by clicking here and more about Sally 4th's range of 28mm Normandy buildings that featured in the game by clicking here.