This area of the website is my hobby blog, it contains articles about games that I have enjoyed playing together with paining and model making articles.
Over the last few months we have had the opportunity to participate in playtesting of Feudal Patrol. This is a ruleset, currently in development with a planned release date of March/April 2020. The rules are written by Buck Surdu retired US Army Colonel and prolific rules author whose works include Gaslight, Combat Patrol and the Look Sarge No Charts range. Feudal Patrol covers historical periods dominated by melee, so from iron age up to around 1500, plus swords and sorcery fantasy genres. The system is great for small unit actions such as raids, ambushes, escalades etc. Figures are based on single bases. Units are typically made up of between 4 and 6 figures, although it is also possible, as in this game to treat each miniature as a unit in its own right.
Last week, my son Lewis came over from university for a couple of days and we got some terrain and miniatures out to play another game of Feudal Patrol using the excellent set of scenarios that were published for the medieval skirmish board game, Cry Havoc. The scenario that we choose was 'Foraging Party'.
Foraging Party represents an army living off the land, foraging for supplies for men and horses. The horses particularly, require a significant volume of stores to keep them in fighting condition. Sir Richards forces are feeding their horses while he attempts to protect them from Sir Williams force who are intent on stealing the horses and making away with them.
Sir Richards force consists off Sir Richard (a superior knight), a standard knight, 6 peasant horse holders with horses and six spearmen led by a Sergeant. The raiders led by Sir William consists of two superior knights and four standard knights (all mounted). In Feudal Patrol figures are rated for Guts (morale), Accuracy (ranged combat), Melee (hand to hand combat ability), Endurance and Reaction. There are three categories for Guts; Elite, Regular & Green. Accuracy and Melee values range from 1-9 with lower numbers being better. We defined the units for this game as follows:
Superior Knights: Elite, Melee 2, 1 point or armour all over, armed with lance, sword and shield.
Knights: Elite, Melee 3, 1 point or armour all over, armed with lance, sword and shield.
Sergeant: Regular, Melee 4, 1 point of armour head, chest & abdomen, armed with sword and shield.
Spearmen: Regular, Melee 5, 1 point of armour head, chest & abdomen, armed with spear and shield.
Peasants / Horse Holders: Green, Melee 6, Unarmoured, armed with club
Victory Points were awarded:
Each horse captured: 10 points
Each horse killed: 5 points
Each enemy knight killed: 15 points
Each peasant killed: 1 point
Other enemy killed: 4 points
Each attackers horse killed or captured: 10 points
Each enemy knight killed: 15 points
Lewis played the Foragers and set up the horses and horse holders in and around the Inns courtyard and gardens.
The attackers deployed onto the table, from a chosen table edge as they were activated. In Feudal Patrol, at the start of each turn, an activation dice is rolled for each unit. An activation deck is uses that has two sets of numbered cards 1-6 in black and red and an end of turn card. When an activation card is turned, all the units who share that activation number get to move, so depending where the end of turn is, units will activate 0, 1 or 2 times. If a unit gets pinned, through a morale result or being out of command, it only gets to activate on the black numbers, reducing its effectiveness by 50%.
My attackers went for a two-pronged assault. Half made their way around the side of the building and through the kitchen garden to get to the courtyard, with the intent of stealing some horses before they could be moved off table, while the rest of my force charged down the main road to engage the covering force.
Seeing events unfold, Sir Richard rearranged his defenders to form a solid wall across the road.
Lewis decided from the start, that the best way to ensure victory was to save the horses. As a scenario rule, a unit on foot can use its activation to add a horse or mule to a train. This is what he is doing now to free up some horse holders to assist with the defence.
Sir Jacques, the other knight in the foragers force organises the defence of the courtyard to buy time for the horses to be withdrawn.
Here we see the first of the foragers horses making it to the safety of the tables edge.
…while the main raiding force still has a way to go to make contact with the defenders.
First blood goes to the raiders, with Sir John incapacitating Sir Jaques for 15 victory points.
Sir William takes a diversion to attempt to engage the defenders in the flank.
Here’s an overview of the whole gaming table. Terrain construction is covered in my Blackstone Heath series of articles and videos.Click here to take a look. The scenery is built on 1' and 2' square terra-former modular terrain tiles. The buildings are 3D printed. Full details of what has been used and where to get it from in the Blackstone Heath article, linked above.
Sir William and Sir Richard fight with chivalry. Eventually Sir Richard prevails, and Sir William is incapacitated.
The foragers manage to get the rest off there horses off table...
While the defenders fight a brave rear guard action.
At the end of the game, the foragers had well and truly won having incapacitated 3 enemy knights for 45 victory points, while the raiders had not managed to steal any horses and had only collected 20 victory points for incapacitating one knight, one spearmen and a peasant. So well done Lewis. In hindsight, I would have done a lot better if I had deployed from the opposite table edge, as I had to far to move and it was too easy for the foragers to exit their horses.
However, the game was a lot of fun, the scenario was a lot more fun than a line up and advance to contact game and I would certainly play the scenario again and hope to do better by learning from the experience.
The miniatures are mainly from 1st Corp and have been mounted onto Sally 4th clear Perspex bases.
Click here for Blackstone Heath articles and videos about building this gaming table.
On Monday (7th October) I was joined by Doug, Nick & John for a playtest of Feudal Patrol, a fantasy - medieval skirmish ruleset due for publication first quarter of 2020.
We were playing the first scenario that appears in the introductory section of the rules, 'Gallic Revolt'.
The scenario is described in terms of Romans and Gauls, but as we did not have any of those miniatures mounted on single bases we set our game in Tolkien’s Middle Earth with the men of Gondor standing in for the Romans and Uruk Hai Orcs standing in for the Gauls.. Below is the scenario setting from the rule book.
Romans under Greggarious Pribus are marching through a rural part of Gaul. Having established a marching fort, Pribus has sent Prefect Ignavus with a small group or Roman Legionaires to scout the nearby countryside. Tired of Roman domination and taxation, the local Gallic chieftain, Chikflix, has rallied the local men in pursuit. Ignavus sees that he is in a precarious position and orders his patrol to retreat to the comparative safety of a small farm enclosure. Chikflix launches an attack on the Ignavus and his men with the intent to wipe them out before reinforcements can arrive. All units begin the game on the table as indicated on the map.
The encounter was set in a valley, with wooded hillside sloping away at each corner, a stream meanders through the valley floor, bisected by a road with a bridge. On the far side of the bridge a small farmstead has been built. The men of Gondor are deployed to defend the farmstead, with reinforcements hurrying down the road. The Uruk-Hai attackers are closing in from all directions.
Control of the bridge over the stream features highly in the plans of both sides. Looks like Gondor has got there first. Feudal Patrol is based on a card-based action resolution first seen in the WW2 Combat Patrol and the Sci-Fi ACP 164 rulesets but rewritten to give more detail to hand to hand combat which plays a central part to fantasy and medieval combat. Feudal Patrol also uses a double-blind activation system. At the start of each turn, each leader rolls a D6. This is the leader’s activation number for this turn. The activation deck contains black cards numbered 1-6 and red cards numbered 1-6 plus an end of turn card and some optional special action cards. For each phase a card is turned from the activation deck, all leaders whose dice value matches the card drawn can activate in this phase. Higher leaders can swap their dice with subordinate leaders to get the important units moving first.
When a unit is activated, the members of the unit can move and or shoot. If movement brings a figure into base contact with an enemy figure, a melee is fought. Distance moved ranges from 2"-10" and is determined by turning an action card. The action card gives three movement values for light, medium or heavily armoured troops. Here we see the Uruk-Hai sweeping down the hillside to engage the Gondorians in a melee.
At the bridge, the Gondorians had arrived first which was advantageous as there were far more Uruk-Hai on the table, so this move limited the amount that could attack them at any one time. It also put both units into close order, which gave them an advantage in melee. To be in close order you needed to have at least 4 bases touching and to be in two ranks.
The first round of combat on the bridge was inconclusive, however the Uruk-Hai were pushed back and had to take some morale test markers. The Uruk-Hai sent additional troops wading across the stream with the intention of attacking from both sides.
The Uruk-Hai had left their archers behind when they charged. Their bow fire had managed to cause a few wounds, stuns and morale markers before their comrades charged home.
As the battle lines engaged, the melee was broken up into a number of smaller 1:n combats which are each resolved separately.
Here we see the Orcs massing for another charge across the bridge.
The card driven mechanics of Feudal Patrol are very different to other fantasy / ancient / medieval games we had played. Basically, a card is turned to see if you hit, and if you hit a second card is turned to see who is hit and how much damage and does cover or armour stop or reduce the damage. This is all fairly quick and intuitive. Your chance to hit is based on how well you are trained with the missile or melee weapon. These qualities range from 1 (god like) to 9 (abysmal). This base chance is modified by tactical factors such as range, movement, being stunned, wounded or out of command.
We will be playing lots more play test games for Buck over the next few months. If the concept of the game sounds interesting you can download the free introductory Combat Patrol WW2 rules from here, or the ACP164 Sci-Fi rules from here.
Miniatures shown are from Games Workshops Lord of the Rings range.
Buildings are from 1st Corp / Curteys Miniatures
Modular terrain boards are built using Terra-Former Modular Terrain System. Click here for details.
Yesterday Doug and I got together for a little medieval skirmish gaming. We had both been big fans of Cry Havoc (a medieval skirmish board game by Standard Games & Publications) when it had first came out..probably about 30 years ago. Cry Havoc had some great scenario ideas, which were so much more fun than the line-up and advance to contact games that so often get played when time is short. We therefore decided that it would be a lot of fun to take the Cry Havoc scenarios and adapt the for medieval skirmish gaming. We are currently helping out our good friend Buck Surdu, who is developing a new set of miniatures rules for ancient, dark age, medieval and fantasy skirmish called Feudal Patrol.
The Knight Errant scenario takes place in a village that has been terrorized by a company of marauding mercenary soldiers who have been threatening the villagers with dire punishment if they do not pay with both money and 'in kind'. A goodly wandering knight, Sir Richard had heard of the villager’s plight and has encouraged the villagers to stand up to the bullies. The mercenaries have decided to teach the villagers a lesson. In the photo above we see the eastern edge of the village waking peacefully with no idea of the dramas the day ahead has in store for it.
Sir Richards force consists of Sir Richard (a superior knight) and Sir Lacy (an inferior knight) both on foot but with their horses to hand. They also have ten peasants armed with clubs and axes, a short bowmen and two civilians (Audrey & Edith). The dastardly mercenaries are Led by Sgt Martin assisted by Sgt Tyler. They also muster four men at arms with halberds, four with spears and a crossbowman.
Victory conditions were: Sir Richard incapacitated or six other characters from Sir Richards force incapacitated - Mercenary victory, five mercenaries incapacitated a Villagers victory.
Picture above shows western edge of village.
We rolled for sides. I got to play the mercenaries. I divided them into three groups. Two groups entered from the southern road, four halberdiers led by Sgt Martin and a group made up of the crossbowman and a spearman to protect him.
My mercenary spearmen led by the cruel and unprincipled Sgt Tyler entered from the western road where they immediately set their sights on Edith & Audrey who were loitering outside the inn.
Doug deployed the bulk of the knights and the villagers in the courtyard of the Inn, as he was not sure which way the mercenary attack would come from and this was a central location. The knight’s horses are tethered outside the stables.
Two villagers provided sentries on the Eastern road.
As soon as I could, I rushed my Crossbowman and his escort to the stone wall opposite the Inn, as this seemed a good position to fire upon the villagers as the rushed out on to the road. In Feudal Patrol you can elect to sprint. In effect you take two moves at once, but end up stunned, which is indicated by the token with an exclamation mark. If you are stunned the only thing you can do in your next activation is to become un-stunned. This represents your troops getting their breath back. It is however a useful tactic to get your forces into cover quickly.
Sir Richard and Sir Lacy rush forward to get to grips with the evil marauders.
The ladies had fled down the side of the Inn. Goodness knows why they did not head up the stairs to the safety of the building. The unscrupulous Sgt Tyler saw (in game terms) to easy victory points and he and his men got stuck in with their spear points (so to speak).
The ladies defended their honour the best they could, in the first round they even caused one of the attackers to become stunned, but eventually the inevitable happened and Sgt Tyler and his men grinned with satisfaction as they 'pocketed the 2 victory points'
Meanwhile at the Eastern end of the village Sgt Martin hurries through the narrow lanes to engage Sir Richard, unaware that Sir Lacy is also fast approaching.
Sgt Martin and has Halberdiers get the better of Sir Richard causing a serious wound. They caused 5 points of damage. Sir Richards Endurance was 3 but two points were absorbed by his metal armor and he managed to utilise his medium shield to absorb a point as well bringing the damage down to 2 points: A serious wound, but he was still on his feet and fighting. In Feudal Patrol strikes in melee are resolved by looking at which weapon has the longest reach, so because the halberd has a longer reach their strikes are resolved before Sir Richards sword blows. Meanwhile Sir Lucy had easily dispatched the mercenary facing him.
Back outside the Inn, my crossbowmen had moved out of cover to reduce the range.. He let fly a crossbow bolt, aiming at the villagers advancing from the side of the Inn. He scored a significant hit. Feudal Patrol uses a card based resolution system for shooting and melee that is innovative and intuitive. You turn a card to see if you hit. This is based on the skill off the shooter and tactical factors such as range, moving target, being wounded or out of command. If you score a hit you turn a second card to work out the effect; who in the target was hit, how much damage, where and if there was a cover save. Unfortunately for Sir Richard and the villagers, it was the leader of the peasants who was hit, in the face with the crossbow bolt for five damage with no cover save. Ouch! I guess it was probably quick and unexpected. At this point the tally was 3 victory points to the mercenaries and 1 for Sir Richard.
But alas in the next turn the two mercenaries with halberds managed to land the killing blow on Sir Richard, handing a definite win to the vicious bullies.
It was a great game, great ebb and flow and some tense and exciting moments. Feudal Patrol is in early play test, some ideas for improvements came out of our game which we will pass on to Buck.
The expected publication date for Feudal Patrol is March 2020.
The game was played on my 'Blackstone Heath' terrain project. If you'd like to find out more about the terrain,