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.
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.
Yesterday, my son Lewis and I had a first test game of the Combat Patrol Napoleonic Skirmish supplement... Buck had warned us that it was very much a work in progress, rough first draft, but we were keen to give it a go. We normally do big Napoleonics, multi-Corp games using Blucher and big bases full of 6mm figures, so this was very much the opposite extreme. We liked the idea of being able to game the sort of encounters that had entertained us from Hornblower and Sharp.
The scenario saw our young Midshipman Whistler tasked with escorting a Spanish emissary with some important communications to meet with a guerrilla leader at a remote farmhouse. Unfortunately the plans had been betrayed and the French were all ready on their way to arrest this patriot. A detachment of French dragoons had arrived and was preparing to set up an ambush, on foot, in the olive grove.
Mr Whistler commanded two groups of salty sea dogs from HMS Independent and a detachment of Marines.
The Marines advance in good order along the road, while the sailors move through the scrubland at either side.
The British advance is a little tardy at the start, their is some confusion about directions, and the Spanish emissary finds he is ill prepared for crossing rugged terrain. Combat Patrol uses a clever activation system that represents command friction and fog of war. At the start of the turn each unit leader and commanders roll a D6. This is their activation number for the turn. An activation deck contains cards with black 1-6, red 1-6 and reshuffle. When the card is turned that matches a leaders activation number that unit can activate. When a leader activates, they can choose to swap their dice with a subordinate who has not activated yet, representing them performing their command and control function and focussing on the most important part of their plan.
In our game, during the critical early manoeuvring for position the British are unlucky and do not get the activations needed to get into position as quickly as the French.
Some French infantry form a skirmish line across the road. The Indies' Marines advance with textbook precision. After advancing in column using the farm to shield them from fire, they halted, turned to their left and wheeled into line, using the farm walls to protect their left flank. Once in position, they deliver advancing fire. The front rank fires, and the second rank advance through the open order gaps in the files. The marines get a second activation. The first rank (now at the rear) re-loads. The 2nd rank (now at the front) fire.... so far, so good!
Then, it all starts to go wrong. The French infantry activate. They have taken casualties and four morale markers from the firefight. Before they can take voluntary actions they need to resolve the morale markers. The action cards have a wide variety of morale effects, which are often dependent of if troops are raw, regular or elite, and if they are in cover or in the open. Troops can become pinned, stun, runaway etc. or in some very rare cases be forced to charge the nearest enemy. Charging the enemy is exactly what they were forced to do, and this really sealed the fate of Mr Whistlers command. The Marines lost the melee. In the bottom right hand corner of the photo, we can see the stack of morale tokens collected.
Meanwhile back at the farm, the sailors make best use of cover to get in to position to assault it from front and back. Unfortunately the French had beaten them to the farm and had already captured the guerrilla leader and had taken up defensive positions at doors and windows.
The attempt at house clearance was as brutal as was expected. The navy did have some initial successes, and made some openings into the building, however the combination of the French defending doorways and windows and being armed with muskets and bayonets rather than cutlasses combined with the dragoons counterattacking in their rear led to an eventual British surrender.
Poor Mr Whistler looks like he will be sitting the rest of the war out, in a Spanish prison, unless of course a rescue mission can be mounted!
We were very lucky this year to be joined by Buck Surdu, retired US Army Colonel and prolific rules author. Buck has recently released the most refreshing and original set of WW2 rules that I have encountered in the 35 years or so that I have been wargaming the Second World War. Combat Patrol is set at the same level of engagement as Bolt Action, so figures are mounted individually and are completely interchangable between the two systems. Here the similarity ends. Combat Patrol offers a game which is both realistic and quick to play. The innovative use of a card system for combat resoloution means you can enjoy a game with out A4 player aid cards, charts or constant rule lookups.
1. The German team have a nasty surprise in store for US Armored. A Tiger I, hides in the narrow alley ways of this Normandy town, waiting for the right moment to pounce.
2. US Armored advance towards the town square. The first exchange between the German Anti-tank squad and the Sherman sees the Sherman brewed up. In Combat Patrol a card is turned to see if a hit is scored taking into account tactical modifiers like training, range, command and control, and movement of fire and target. Id the round hits, a second card is turned to resolve the effect of the fire taking into account cover and for vehicles where the round has hit.
3. Buck, (in the yellow top), turns an activation card. In Combat Patrol, each turn leaders (NCO's & Officers) roll a command dice that stays with them for the turn. When an activation card is turned that matches the command dice, that leader gets to activate the unit he is with. Command influence is represented by allowing a leader to swap his command dice with a subordinate, so if the Platoon Commander thinks the most important part of his plan is for No 1 Squad to move into position to give covering fire for a latter assault by No 2 Squad, and he activates first, he can swap his dice with the Squad Leader from No 1 Squad to get them on their way.
4. US Armored Infantry debuss near the churchyard to assault on foot
5. Another German Anti-Tank Squad sets up in cover with a good field of fire, while German Paras advance around the side of the church.
6. 'Sarge.. these sheep will give us a good cover save, right?"
7. At the right hand side of the Churchyard, German Defenders engage the advancing US Armor.
8. Big cat on the prowl
9. More US Infantry arrive and de-buss to get into the action. Each squad carries a Bazooka in the M3 Halftrack.
10. The Americans advanced up both flanks where they had better cover while suppressing the Germans in the church yard with machine-gun fire.
11. If you look closely in the bottom left quadrant of the picture you can see that the Sherman is missing its turret. This was the work of a 47mm anti-tank gun firing at point blank range from the corer of the church yard. Note that the gentleman in the striped shirt is resolving fire with no help from the game master after just two turns of play.
Our next Combat Patrol participation game will be at Phalanx in St Helens on 18th June. It would be great if you could join us then.
Combat Patrol Participation game at Partizan 22nd May 2016.
A sleepy market town, 12 miles inlanf from the Normandy coast is fiercely contested. Captured and held by elements of 82nd Airborne on 7th June, the town sees a determined counterattack by German Airborne and Panzergrenadier troops before its cleared by US Armor and Armored Infantry moving inland to join up with the thinly spread Airborne carpet.
1. This year at Partizan, we were extremely lucky to be joined by Buck Surdu, author of Combat Patrol
2. Our game featured a fiercely contested Normandy town, captured by US Airborne on D+2 attempting to hold out against a German counterattack long enough to be relived by US Armored moving inland from Omaha.
3. Combat Patrols unit activation system can easily handle 2-8 players. In this game each player commanded 3-4 squads or vehicles. At the start of each turn a D6 command dice is rolled for each unit. The activation deck contains a black 1-6, red 1-6 and a reshuffle card. When the card is turned, whose number matches the command dice, that unit gets to activate, unless it is pinned, in which case it only activates on a black card.
4 Early in the first participation game, Buck Surdu calls out an activation number. All units with that number on their command dice then performed actions. The Germans chose to advance up the flanks rather than across the cemetery and church yard.
5 Two players resolve combat. The fellow in the blue shirt with the white “8” fired form the windows of the brown building at a German section advancing across the walled field controlled by the gentleman in the black shirt. Firing is resolved quickly in Combat Patrol by drawing cards from an Action Deck rather than rolling dice and looking up results in a series of tables. The first card indicates whether the shot hit its target. If so, the next card is drawn to determine which figure was hit, the severity of the wound, and whether the figure is protected by cover. To quote one of the players in the game, it is “dead simple.”
6 The American paras reached the hedge in the foreground first and got the jump on the advancing Germans. After a series of turns, the German section was made ineffective, and the Americans held onto that section of the town.
7 The gentleman on the right directs machine-gun fire against Germans on the other side of the table.
8. In the afternoon, US Armored forces arrive to attempt to regain control of the town.
9 Buck Surdu answers a player’s question regarding a finer point of the rules. Throughout the day, Buck had to keep correcting himself on the terms “squad” and “section,” but the Brits in the game didn’t give him too hard a time about it. "Two people separated by a common language." Buck did get used to “lift,” “lorry,” and “boot” during his stay.
10. A German Anti-tank squad deployed with a good field of fire down a narrow Normandy street. The anti-tank gun “brewed up" an American halftrack that was half filled with armored infantry, many of whom were wounded or incapacitated as a result. Note the small purple command die used along with the Activation Deck to determine which units activate at a given time.
.... to be continued.
In the mean time, if you would like more information about Combat Patrol (including free download of infantry combat rules) click here, and for more information about the Sally 4th 28mm Normandy building range, click here.
using Urban Blocks from Sally 4th
Last weekend Ann, Lewis and I decided to try out Zombicide board game using the newTerra-Block: Urban Block modular gaming terrain. Each block measures 300mm square, costs around £20 and can be set up in a different layout for each game. Like the flat tiles that come with the board game, each tile will join up with all other tiles in four orientations, but what makes Urban Blocks so flexible is that the layout of rooms within the buildings can also be different each time you play as the Terra-Blocks that make up the building can be laid out differently
Ann, Lewis and I had two Zombicide characters each. The mission is to get from the starting corner of the board to the opposite corner of the board to escape this zombie infested town in the only servicable vehicle left in this neighborhood.
The Landrover is the exit zone, our only chance to escape the zombie hoard!
... but in true Zombicide style, it was not going to be as easy as just walking across the block. The keys for the landrover had not been left in the ignition ready for us! Their were six possible places where the keys could have been left marked with objective markers, five red 'herrings' and a blue marker that was the all important bunch of keys.
We opened the door to the first building. The doors in Terra-Block terrain actually open, so it is easy to see which doors have been open yet without an extra counter on the table. Zombies were spawned.... and on reflection we made a mistake here that helped us out big-style. This board had in effect two buildings on it, as the top room is not connected by an internal door. When we spawned zombies we drew an abomination for that room, and it is the only abomination model in our Zombicide collection and as it was in a different building we did not open the door to that building so it was trapped their for the game making life a lot safer on the streets. We will not make that rules mistake in future games!
Spawn zones were set up and we used some spare bases to represent man-hole covers. The team split up and started searching buildings for the keys.
Searching became harder as the game went on and more zombies were spawned and headed toward the noise.
A combination of team work and scavenged weapons held the hoard at bay. We played using one of the Zombivore expansions. The 'Lost' comrades proved to be some of the toughest threats to deal with, needing 5 hits to take down... however the ability to search through the equipment deck for a weapon of choice made it all worth while.
As the game progresse the number of possible places where the key could be reduced, but it was not until we searched the fifth location that we found the keys.
Team photo opportunity... All six survivors made it to the landrover in the end. Four had experienced near death experiances... good job we brought a medic with us!
We wanted to have some additional forces for our participation game at Partizan yesterday (22nd May 2016) so I set myself a challenge to assemble, paint & base a Armored Rifle Platoon (55 all ranks and five M3 Halftracks in 10 days). This little project came in on time and budget. The vehicles and the infantry basing were completed late on Friday night, in time to pack and head down to Newark on Saturday morning.
I will add a post about the game and some photos of the infantry later in the week, for now here are some photos of the platoons vehicles.
The platoon is passing 'The House at Dead Mans Corner' to their right.
The Platoon is parked up in the town square of a Normandy market town. Buildings are from Sally 4th Normandy range.
Two of the half tracks are M3A1s. These belong to Platoon HQ and LMG section and both carry a 0.50 calibre HMG for immediate air defence. The other three halftracks that carry No2, No3 and Mortar section each mount a 0.30 calibre.
We have put together a package deal that contains all of the miniatures and vehicles to field a US Armored Rifle Platoon in Combat Patrol, Bolt Action or any other WW2 platoon level game.
Painting against a deadline focuses the mind on what's needed and what is the most efficient way to achieve it.
On Sunday we are putting on a WW2 participation game using 'Buck' Surdu's excellent Combat Patrol rules. About a week ago I identified that we needed another allied platoon and choose to model a US Rifle Platoon of a US Rifle Company of an Armored Battalion, around 55 miniatures and 5 vehicles. I needed to make the best use of my time, lunchbreaks at work and an hour or so in the evening.
The technique that I'm going to share here is not going to win any painting competitions, that is not the sucess criteria, but it does allow you to paint a squad of 10 28mm figures in an hour. That's six minutes per figure, which I think is pretty good going, and for me when viewed on a wargames table from a normal viewing distance of three or four foot away, they are more than adequately painted.
Stage 1: Spray miniatures with Plastic Soldier Company US Olive Drab spray. Click here for details.
Stage 2: Block paint Jackets & Gaiters with Vallejo 70821 German Camo Beige
Stage 3: Block paint Flesh with Vallejo 70860 Medium Fleshtone
Stage 4: Block paint webbing & rucksac 70819 Iraqui Sand
Stage 5: Block paint Boots & Pistol Holsters Vallejo 70894 Flat Brown
Stage 6: Block paint rifles, entrenching tool handles & helmet straps Vallejo 70982 Cavalry Brown
Stage 7: Block paint any helmets that have helmet covers, bayonet scabards, bazookas etc. Vallejo 70887 - Brown Violet
Stage 8: Block paint any metal parts on weapons Vallejo 70863 - Gunmetal
Stage 8: Dip miniature in Army Painter Strong Quicktone. Brush off any excess with a large (size 6+) old brush and use this to remove any pooling that might develop. Keep your Quicktone thinned down to the consistency of pouring cream using top quality artists turps, not cheap white spirits. Proper turps is an expensive commidity but it will keep your Quicktone fresh for man years and many hundreds of miniatures. Click here for details.
Once dipped, leave your miniatures for at least 24 hours, and then apply a light spray of Army Painter Anti-Shine Matt Varnish to remove the shine. Click here for details.
When I have got the whole platoon painted and varnished, I will the get them based.
If you are at Partizan at the weekend, come and have a look at them in action in our Combat Patrol participation game.
We have put together a package deal to save you 10%, click here if you are interested in collecting a US Rifle Platoon from an Armored Battalion.
Last night I made a good start on the 10 Day US Armored Platoon Project and completed the tasks in the plan for day 1, i.e assemble one vehicle kit and at least 10 figure.
In the end I got a few more figures put together than called for on the plan, but best to be ahead of the game as their is still a lot to do. The figures are going to be based on Sally 4th clear bases, so I used my side clippers to remove that ugly oval plinth that figures are cast on , and then filed the bottom of the models feet flat. The figures were then glued onto temporary mdf bases ready for undercoating and then painting.
I need to assemble and paint 50 new figures and six vehicles for the World War Two, Normandy game that 'Buck' Surdu, author of Combat Patrol and I are putting on at Partizan on Sunday 22nd May 2016.
The M3 Halftrack's that I am using are based on the finely detailed Rubicon 1/56 scale kit. I really like this model. Assembly is good and straightforward and their are lots of options to make each vehicle unique. The kit can be used to make either the M3 or the M3A1 variant. I need some of both, the platoon commander’s halftrack and MG sections halftrack both mount 0.50 calibre HMGs so they will have M3A1 variants.
The options that are included with kit are:
I have used some of the spare items from the Warlord Games US Infantry plastic box set to further customise each halftrack with personal belongings such as packs, helmets, bags, field glasses. spare weapons etc.
I have not glued the MG cupola of the driver and passenger in place yet, to make it easier for painting.
If you have not come across Combat Patrol yet, we have lots of information about it and free downloads on our website. It is an innovative and exciting set of WW2 rules. The rules are very detailed, covering just about every tactical modifier that you could imagine, but the rules are very simple and straight forward to play due to streamlined design and clever use of special cards for combat resolution. A game can easily be played with two players each commanding a reinforced platoon, which is the same level of game as Bolt Action. However, Combat Patrol can easily be used by more than 2 players due to the way that the activation rules are implemented.
Every time that we put on a big game at a show I end up promising my wife that it will never be that way again; the next time we will only book in a game once we have all of the terrain made and the figures painted and based. The intention is always there at the start, but being a ‘normal’ wargamer the desire is always their to do that little bit more or to do it that bit better.
Partizan is on Sunday 22nd May 2016, doors open to the public at 10:00. I’ve known this for the last six months as we have been booked in with a trade stand and a participation game for that amount of time. We are putting on a World War Two participation game, set in Normandy on or around the 8th June as allied forces landed by sea attempt to overcome German resistance to link up with airborne forces holding strategic positions across the Cotan Peninsula. The game is being played using Combat Patrol, the new and innovative set of WW2 skirmish rules by ‘Buck’ Surdu. We are very fortunate that Partizan coincides with Buck being in the UK on business, enabling him to join us to showcase his rules. When I made a list of the 28mm WW2 forces that I had available, they seemed a bit short for a participation game that we hope to attract significant interest so with 10 days to spare I decided to assemble, paint and base a new army for Combat Patrol and Bolt Action. When I say an army, to be fare we are just talking a platoon as this is the level of action that Combat Patrol and Bolt Action are set at. However, I wanted this to be a historically accurate ‘army’ so researched the correct organisation for A Rifle Platoon of the Rifle Company of a US Armoured Infantry Battalion in 1944.
Rifle Platoon, Rifle Company, Armoured Infantry Battalion
60mm Mortar Squad
The plan is to use the fantastic Rubicon M3/M3A1 Halftrack kit, Warlord Games US Infantry plastic box set plus Warlord Games Metal Blister Packs for support weapons. Luckily Sally 4th stocks all of this stuff so no delay in getting started!
The rough timeline is as follows:
Day 1 (Tuesday) – Assemble 1 x halftrack & Assemble 10 x Infantry
Day 2 (Wednesday) – Assemble 1 x halftrack & Assemble 10 x Infantry
Day 3 (Thursday)– Assemble 1 x halftrack & Assemble 10 x Infantry
Day 4 (Friday)– Assemble 1 x halftrack & Assemble 10 x Infantry
Day 5 (Saturday)– Assemble 1 x halftrack & Assemble 10 x Infantry – Paint 10 Infantry
Day 6 (Sunday) Paint 5 x Halftracks
Day 7 (Monday) Paint & Base 10 Infantry
Day 8 (Tuesday) Paint & Base 10 Infantry
Day 9 (Wednesday) Paint & Base 10 Infantry
Day 10 (Thursday) Paint & Base 10 Infantry
Day 11 (Friday) – Contingency – finish basing
Looks good on paper, we will have to see how it pans out over the next couple of weeks. I am planning to use the excellent PSC WW2 spray primers to give me a head start, block paint and shade with Army Painter Quick-tone, so we are not looking to win a painting competition but to get a force on the table with minimum fuss that looks consistant and historically accurate.
This year we are extremely lucky that 'Buck' Surdu, author of Combat Patrol and many, many more great wargames will be joining us to run a participation game at Partizan in Newark on Sunday 22nd May.
If you have not come across Combat Patrol yet, it is a truly innovative set of rules that deliver all of the detail of WW2 combat, up close and personal without any of the chart look ups and quick reference sheets to slow the action down. This is achieved through streamlined design and the unique use of ‘action cards’ for combat resolution. Combat Patrol delivers a great game for two players, but due to it’s unit activation system can easily accommodate larger numbers of players at club and convention games.
The game will be played on Sally 4ths recently released Normandy Terrain and will feature US and German Paras, Germany Infantry, and a relief force of US Armoured Infantry linking up from the beach.
The game will kick off around 10:30. You will be able to join in during the day. We have already had some keen Combat Patrollers advance booking places, so if you know you’re going to Partizan and you’d like to book a place, please PM me.