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.
Monday 26th September 2016, Lewis and I started playing the new Pulp Alley campaign, Tomb of the Serpent.
The first scenario we played in Act 1 was the Thing in the Well, is set in the Netherlands, a stone throw north of Leiden and centres on an old well set amongst the leafy green woods.
Manfred, a hardened veteran of Perilous Island had been troubled in his sleep by images of long forgotten Egyptian gods and of an ancient relic, 'The Wings of Celerity' laying hidden in an ancient well since its previous owner had hidden it there for safekeeping on the eve of the approach of Napoleons invading armies. For Manfred to have disturbed nights sleep was a rare occurrence as the company that he kept was even weirder than the Servants of Apophis who also searched for the relic. The family enjoying a quiet weekend camping and the old gardener tending his plot were in for a day to remember.
The Serpent Priest and a pair of Militant Cultists stealthily approach the ancient well.
Manfred accompanied by his pet Hellhounds Spot, Nibbler and Scruffles and his faithful ally, the witch Gwilanna cross the river at the ford and approach the well where the relic is hidden. The other plot points included a cryptic clue carved into a tree trunk, a hornets’ nest the gardener and some crates hidden in the undergrowth near the camp site. These were of only minor interest to Manfred and his cronies and of no interest to the Servants of Apophis whose sole motivation was reclaiming the long lost relic.
Using the Dark Arts Manfred summoned some re-animated skeletons to assist him. The Militant Cultists take them down (again) in a hail of hot lead.
Manfred makes it to the ancient well of his nightmares and begins to climb down inside it. The well is extremely perilous, but this does not bother him so much as his danger sense allows him to ignore the first peril each turn. Lilliane, Manfreds sidekick starts to investigate the cryptic marks on the tree as the Serpent Priest and his Cultists rush towards the well.
The Servants dark designs are disrupted by a blast of otherworld energy, channelled through the bony hands of the witch, Gwilanna.
Nibble eyes up a tasty Cultist and licks his lips as he closes the distance between them. At the last moment the cultist enters a full clip of '45 ammo into the ungodly creature, which disappears in a cloud of sulphurous smoke.
The action hots up around the ancient well, Scruffles pounces on the Serpent Priest disturbing his attempts to influence Manfreds search with his cursed presence, while Gwilanna readies another burst of otherworld energy.
Lilliane is finding the cryptic carvings difficult to decipher. The Fierce Cultist, seeing his master is in danger of becoming the Hell-hounds breakfast leaps across the wall and wrestles it to the ground. He dispatches the demonic creature but is also knocked down and out in the process.
Eventually Lilliane works out the meaning of the strange inscription and is rewarded for her efforts.
As the harmless gardener tends his shrubs and bushes the Militant Cultists converge on Gwilanna and take her down in a burst of tri-angulated small arms fire.
Meanwhile down in the well Manfred completes his efforts to recover the priceless relic at the very last moment, just as the black tentacles of the lurker begin to rise up from the well.
Exciting, right to the last roll of the dice, and the start of a fantastic looking new Pulp Alley adventure. Next week Professor Snow and the Royal Archaeological Society head to Scotland and the legendary Fothrington Hall in search of their relic and first clue to the 'Tomb of the Serpent'
We have put together a special Tomb of the Serpent page on our web store that brings together the supplement, cards and selected figures from a number of the ranges Sally 4th stock that are particularly useful for this campaign.
Late August Bank Holiday Monday, 2016
Somewhere in Spain, The Rifles are dispatched to gather in supplies for Wellingtons Army.
The unusual, (for Yorkshire), combination of sunshine and stillness enabled Lewis and I to combine playing with our toy soldiers and getting some fresh air out in the garden, (well on the patio to exact).
While I had been away on holiday in the campervan a few weeks earlier, I had managed to paint a batch of 95th Rifles (including Sharp and Harper) and a batch of Spanish Infantry, so I was keen to try these new units out in a game of Combat Patrol. This added some nice variety to the game as The Rifles were classed as elite and the Spanish as raw. I had been working on the new Sally 4th Terra-Former terrain system during the week and had nine tiles which although not finished were good enough to game on. These one foot square tiles have rare earth magnets embedded in their edges to hold the tiles together.
We drew cards to decide who would choose which table edge to deploy on. Lewis, playing the French won and choose to come on from the edge with the buildings, meaning the British would come on across the Ford. Somewhere on each of the nine tiles was placed some supplies that needed to be collected for victory points. These were either crates of food which could be carried by one soldier or groups of livestock. Livestock could be herded by a single soldier or you could allocate a pair to be on the safe side. If you had only allocated a single soldier, when his unit moved you looked at the HE portion of the card. If there was a medium burst shown, the livestock would escape and move off in the direction indicated by the direction bayonet on the card. Allocating two soldiers was therefore a better option for herding, but reduced the unit’s firepower.
As we were playing on a small table, we started with units just off the table edge with command dice allocated to them so that they could be brought on when it was their activation. Combat Patrol uses a double random activation system. Each squad is led by a NCO and there is a senior NCO or officer in overall command. Each leader has a D6 rolled. This is the leader’s activation number for the turn. An activation deck has cards with 1-6, a reshuffle and some special cards. When a card is turned, any unit whose leader has that number showing on their command dice can activate. The overall commander can swap their dice with a subordinate, who has not activated yet to represent their command influence.
Sharp and Harper hurry their chosen men into position, lining the dry stone walls. They do not have to wait long until a detachment of French Dragoons trot on down the road past them. Their Baker rifles prove effective at close range and cause casualties to both riders and mounts.
Meanwhile the French Infantry make for the buildings and find a nice case of salted fish. They deploy in vantage positions at windows and doorways.
The Rifles thought that the case of cabbages was theirs, but suddenly some French Dragoons emerge from around the corner of the wall to contest them. The Rifles attempt to react to this movement by firing. In Combat Patrol, each unit has a 'Reaction' value. This ranges from 2-5. A figure which is not stunned can attempt to react to enemy movement by drawing a card and consulting the D5 value on the card. If it is less than their reaction value, they can react by taking a shot. Regardless of if they were successful or not, the figure becomes stunned to indicate that it has already taken it's next activation.
Riflemen Harris is sent to collect the crate of apples from the orchard. Unfortunately for him, just as he is picking the fruit up a French Voltigeur in the Villa gets off a round of reaction fire, causing an incapacitating (i.e. fatal) wound. In Combat Patrol firing is a simple two stage process. First you see if your shot has hit the target group, secondly you determine the effect of a successful shot. This process is easily carried out using cards from the action deck.
Unfortunately for me, I had got to carried away with fighting the French, rather than focussing on the scenario objective of collecting supplies and had left a couple of very easy to collect supplies uncollected, which meant that the game ended with an honourable draw, rather than the resounding victory that I had expected after the first couple of turns.
The red markers that can be seen by the road are morale markers. Each time a unit receives a shot or takes a casualty in melee, the unit leader takes a morale marker. When the unit next activates, these all need to be resolved before any other actions can be taken. This is easily done by drawing a card for each morale token and consulting the morale paragraph at the bottom of the card. Morale effects are varied and include casualties dying from their wounds, unit becoming pinned, retreating or even an uncontrolled advance. The morale effects are conditional, varying by the quality of the unit (green, regular or elite) and whether or not they are in cover.
Lewis and I really enjoyed the game, and I am looking forward to getting a few more units painted up including a couple more units of French Dragoons and some Spanish Guerrillas.
29th August 2016 - Bank Holiday Monday
Lewis and I settle down for some two fisted Pulp Alley action, loosely based on the first draft of the Haunted House scenario but expanded for a confrontation between two leagues.
Set in a remote Highland glen, next to a treacherous river stands the age old manor house of Fothrington Hall. Professor Snow, recently recovered from his ordeals on Perilous Island has set off on a new quest. Rumour has it that a secret parchment is secured within the vaults of Fothrington Hall. Cables are sent to Jones, Blythe, Gilbertson and Davis, who duly assemble on the allotted day. However, somehow the secret has leaked out and word has also reached the unearthly ears of Manfred, Snows arch-adversary.
There are five plot points in this scenario, located in the crashed Crossley at the ford, a tree in the orchard, a family tomb in the graveyard, and within the two chimney breasts at Fothrington Hall. The plot point at each location was determined randomly when a character arrived there to resolve it.
Manfred’s cronies arrive at Fothrington Ford, unfortunately for them they find that the river is in flood and the whole river counts as a perilous area.
The witch, Gwilanne attempts to bewitch Professor Snow’s loyal associates, but goes down in a hail of bullets. Once down Snow buys some time by making sure that she 'Stays Down' with some deft card play.
The swollen river proves perilous for Manfred’s demonic hounds, Scuffles fails a challenge and the resulting health check and ends up washed downstream.
The unearthly Manfred seems to glide across the river and easily reaches the other side unscathed; it is almost as if the water parted to let him pass. Thinking that a clue could have been left in the glove compartment of the Crossley, he reaches in but is startled by the appearance of a ghostly apparition. It looks like the cars previous owner departed this world in unfavourable circumstances. The Ghost requires a 'Horror Check', which Manfred failed, but then proceeded to draw a positive horror effect. The appearance of the ghost had in fact made Manfred 'Determined', allowing him to re-roll failed recovery checks!
Meanwhile, Dr Jones investigates the Graveyard (which is both a perilous area and a horror), looking for the Fothrington family crypt. This is soon located, the perils and horrors are shrugged of (apart from a 'lapse of reason'.) The statue of a Maltese Falcon is discovered with a hidden compartment containing a scrap of paper with some numbers looking like the combination for a lock.
Heading for the Hall, through the Orchard, Gilbertson discovers the corpse of the housemaid hanging from a tree. After cutting her down, and determining that nothing can be done to save her, he finds an old brass key on a chain around her neck.
On a roll, Gilbertson makes for Fothrington Hall, seeing one of the windows open and knowing that it will be 'Perilous', he gives it a go and proceeds to search the living room. Before he can make it to the Christmas tree, Manfred materialises, shadow stepping into the room and takes out Gilbertson with a blast of dark magic. Laughing insanely, Manfred rushes to the Christmas Tree but finds that the plot point is a dog, that does not want to be friends.
Knowing that all of the other plot points had been revealed, Professor Snow rushes through the front door of Fothrington Hall and heads for the Fireplace in the Dining Room, confident that the safe and its secrets would be revealed. However, as has often been said, 'it ain't over, 'til it's over'. Just as Snow was about to enter the room a 'Hostile' steps out from the shadows. Lewis played the 'Hostile' Fortune Card that places a level one back up in contact with the enemy. That was enough to slow Snow down and leave the safe which was the major plot point undiscovered.
Both leagues finished the game with a single minor plot point under their control, for an honourable draw.
Another exciting game of Pulp Alley, that has left us hungry for more. I'm fairly certain that it will not be long before Snow and Manfred's path's cross again, maybe on the way to discovering the secrets of the 'Tomb of the Serpent God'.
Last night we enjoyed a skirmish wargame, set in the Peninsular, and played out with 28mm figures and Buck Surdu's Combat Patrol rule set. Combat Patrol was originally designed as a set of WW2 skirmish rules for platoon level actions, however the core mechanics for moving, firing, melee and morale are so solid and easily transferable that supplements are being designed for horse and musket era, Very British Civil War, Vietnam, Falklands, Iraq Afghanistan, Sci-Fi and many more.
Our game involved a couple of detachments of infantry from both armies out foraging for supplies with a light cavalry escort.
Not surprisingly the British & French Dragoons are the first troops to close with each other. In Combat Patrol troops are Elite, Regular or Green for Morale and Firing. Multi-functional cards are used to resolve movement, firing, melee and morale. If a unit declares it is moving a card is turned to determine how far it moves, depending on its morale class. Cavalry get to draw two cards and add the movement distances together.
The French Dragoons charge the British Dragoons; the British Dragoons attempt to counter-charge. They are in loose order so test as individuals rather than a 'unit'. Luck was not with the British on this occasion as only 1 troop manages to counter charge! The dice that we see by the figures are called command dice. At the start of each turn a dice is rolled for each unit. This is their activation number for the turn. An activation deck is used for sequencing. This has a black 1-6, a red 1-6 and a reshuffle card. This deck is shuffled and a card is turned over. Any unit that has that number on their command dice can then move. The French Dragoons got to move first and declared their charge. They then drew two action cards and looked at the movement area. The movement was enough for them to make contact with the enemy. Each unit has a reaction value. The British Dragoons reaction was 4, meaning that to react they needed to score less than 4 on the D5 portion of the action card to react by counter charging. Defying the odds, all but one of the British Dragoons failed to react.
However, their luck was soon to change. In the melee the French Dragoons lost one trooper killed and another suffered a wound, while the British Dragoons lost two troopers killed. For each figure killed or wounded the unit collects a morale marker (the red and black 'splats' in the photos). When the unit next activates, before it can do anything else it needs to resolve all morale markers gained since it last activated. For each marker an action card is turned and the morale paragraph at the bottom of the card is read. The text is often dependent on the morale class of the unit and if it is in cover or not. The first morale effect caused the French Dragoons to withdraw 10" and become pinned; the second morale card caused them to become stunned. This was the worst possible result they could have suffered. When a unit is pinned it can only act on black cards, not red's. This reduces its combat effectiveness by 50%. We have changed the units dice marker to a black dice to record this status.
When the British Dragoons get to activate, they resolve their morale markers and get the opposite effect, an uncontrolled advance towards the nearest enemy!
Sounds good, but the French Infantry are loaded and they get to react to movement by attempting to fire. They are a lot more successful at this than the British Dragoons had been at counter-charging. As they are in close order, their NCO gets to test for the whole detachment. He is successful; they volley fire and drop one of the Dragoons before they get to close.
The three remaining Dragoons get to charge the French. The French Infantry get melee bonuses because they are in close order, have bayonets and with a second rank have a numerical advantage. The Dragoons charged the last 4 inches in a straight line so get a cavalry impetus bonus plus a weapon bonus for their sabres. In the end it is a pretty even match and both sides take casualties.
Unfortunately for the British, a unit of French Voltigeurs had been steadily advancing and were now in musket range of the Dragoons who had recoiled. The first rank fires a volley. The 'out of ammo' markers indicate that they need to reload before they can fire again.
The French Line infantry also fire at the British Dragoons, and another drops from the saddle while one of his comrades suffers a flesh wound. The morale markers are stacking up on this unit. When they next activate and resolve their morale, they are obliged to re-position themselves towards the rear.
Meanwhile, again defying the odds, although still pinned, so only activating on black cards, the French Dragoons manage to charge the formed unit of British Infantry who are so taken aback that they fail their reaction test and are unable to react by firing.
The French Dragoons get the upper hand in the melee. When the British Infantry next activate and resolve their morale markers, they are obliged to withdraw to the next piece of cover, which in this case is the solid looking church yard wall. They did however manage to inflict two kills and a wound on the French Dragoons who also withdraw after their next morale check.
When we got to the 're-roll and re-shuffle' of the last turn of the game, the British looked like they held the field.
However, the victory conditions for the scenario were not rewarded for destroying enemy units, but for requisitioning provisions and getting them back to the table edge. The French had escorted a flock of geese and a herd of goats off the table.
The British had captured a case of dried fish, so victory was awarded to the French. 'Vive La Emperor' it looks like they will have the tastiest meal back at their lines tonight!
Another excellent game played using Combat Patrol. Click here to find out more about the Combat Patrol rules. To find out more about mounting figures on clear bases, click here. French Infantry were made from Victrix Miniatures Kit.
Like most wargamers who have gone before me I have made resolutions and I have broken resolutions. My big one is always to keep to one scale per period. It does not always work; somehow I've got figures for WW2 1944 in 20mm, 15mm and 28mm! I have however been gaming for over 30 years, so I hope that can be excused. I always vowed that I would not do Napoleonic’s in 28mm, for a number of reasons. Firstly, I have a sizable Lace Wars collection in 28mm and it seemed to similar, but the main reason was that for Napoleonic’s, I like big battles. I have a bespoke set of terrain for Austerlitz that I made for a magazine article in Harbringer many years ago. It is 12' x 6'. It is just big enough to deploy all of the forces involved, in 6mm scale on bases with a 60mm frontage representing 1000 men or 500 cavalry. You could do it in 28mm, but it's a question of what looks best, 60 mm frontage for 1000 men is what you need for the ground scale, and for me 3 ranks of 12 figures look better to me, than three 28mm figures on a base pretending to be a regiment. So, Napoleonic’s have always been at Corp or Army level, using Grand Piquet or Blucher, where you can bring on the Reserve Cavalry Corp or commit the Imperial Guard Corp.
But... I have really enjoyed playing Combat Patrol for WW2, VBCW and Winter of '79 games, so I've broken the one period, one scale rule and have started painting up some skirmish level 28mm Napoleonic figures. I'm planning to base my games in the Peninsular, so Portugal and Spain. I have had one game already, which was great fun and decided to paint up a few cavalry before having a second game.
The game is set up, all of the forces are on the table ready to play on Wednesday night. The scenario sees the British and French armies camped, within a day’s march of each other, at the end of a very long supply chain. Both forces have sent out some foraging parties, a few squads of infantry with a handful of Dragoons as an escort. A quiet, dusty hamlet surrounded by small plantations of olive trees is where the rival foraging parties come face to face. On the table are various models of live stock and provisions. The livestock can be escorted off the table by 1 or 2 infantry figures, but if there is only 1 figure in contact there is a chance that the animals will make a bid for freedom when activated. The boxes and sacks can be carried by a single infantry figure.
Here, the French deploy. The dice by each unit are command dice. At the start of the turn a dice is rolled for every unit. This dice stays with the unit and is re-rolled at the start of each turn. A deck of cards that includes numbers 1-6 and reshuffle is used for activation. When a card is turned, all units that have the same number as the card on their command dice, get to activate.
Here's my first six British Dragoons. For the last couple of years, I have been basing all foot figures for individual, skirmish style games on Sally 4th Clear Bases. These are the first cavalry (for any period) that I have based on clear bases.
Here are the first six French Dragoons that I have painted. The cavalry are mounted on 25mm x 50mm oval bases. I have used some clippers to remove the horse from its base and have then filed the hoof flat and drilled a small hole in one hoof on each horse in which a small brass wire peg has been inserted. A matching hole is drilled in the Perspex base and the figure is then glued down with super-glue. I really like the way the bases blend in with the terrain, regardless of if the horse is on a road or cross country, or in Flanders, Portugal or Spain.
When I've painted up some new figures, I like to work out where I will store them at the same time, as after a while my wife always hints that I should tidy them away.
These are the first single based cavalry that I have completed, so I decided to make up one of our Sally 4th Warchest, figure storage boxes to store them in. Warchests come in 5 heights; 35mm, 52.5mm, 70mm, 100mm & 120mm and you can chooses a insert to match your basing size from a range that covers every base size and shape you could imagine. I've choosen the Warhammer Cavalry Insert which has 20 slots each measuring 25mm x 50mm.
The boxes stack up nicely and with the optional clear front and lid I can see what is inside. I use these to take figures to shows and the club in the back of the van, and when the figures are at home I can stack the Warchests on some shelves in the games room, and see what is inside them.
Mosleys New Toy. A wealthy German Industralist has made a gift to Mosley and his army of Black Shirts of urban pacification vehicle 'Heidi', a modified WW1 German A7 tank used to but down the post war revoloution in Germany. This pondering beast has been landed at the BUF controlled dockyards in Hull and is on it's way south to lift the workers occupation of the pit-heads in Sheffield. A platoon of British Union of Fascist (BUF) auxillaries have been tasked with guarding the vehicle as it makes it's way south.
The BUF convoy enters on a choice of two roads to the North of the town (one each side of the churchyard) and to win needs to exit 'Heidi' of either of the roads leaving the south side of the table.
The Workers Liberation Party (WLP) have a couple of secret weapons at their disposal to hinder the BUF's endeavors including two mobile road blocks; a bus and a flock of sheep. They also have 5 squads of infantry (one including a Boyes Anti-Tank rifle and another including a medium machine gun), plus a command detonated mine.
The BUF convey elected to use the westerly road. They entered at speed, and all thoughts of convey discipline were lost as the faster Crossley 1918 trucks swerve to overtake Heidi. Seeing the flock of sheep blocking the road, Heidi and some of the escort vehicles turn left in front of the church.
A BUF squad de-busses in cover of the terraced houses and moves forward to clear the roadblock, coming under effective enemy fire from WLP teams positioned at first floor windows.
In the building that has it's roof removed, an assault section of WLP were laying in waiting. These were armed with SMG's and managed to inflict a number of casualties and morale markers on the BUF, who de-bus to attemp to assault and clear the position.
The WLP had planted a command detonated mine in the telephone box outside the 'George & Dragon' public house. They displayed restraint and patience waiting for the moment that a second BUF vehicle was overtaking the stationary vehicle. The effect of the explosion was devastating. Both trucks were 'brewed up'. The truck nearest the phone box was packed full of infantry, who each needed to attempt to save the results of the explosion. Two passengers were killed outright, four wounded and all were stunned. The squad picked up 6 morale markers.
The explosion caused the flock of sheep to panick, and bolt in a random direction, which unluckily for the BUF was through the gap between the wrecked truck and the terraced house.
We ruled that the sheep bolting past them caused the BUF section by the house to become stunned.
The WLP had a section hiding in ambush in the end terrace house (with the roof removed). This opened up on the unlucky BUF auxilaries who were still attempting to recover from the effects of the explosion.
In Combat Patrol, when a unit activates, it first has to resolve the effects of morale markers placed on it since it's last activation. Foe each marker an action card is turned and the morale paragraph is read. This has varying effects according to morale level of unit and if it is in cover or not. Morale results include unit becoming pinned, wounded figures dying of wounds, figures retreating or running away and occasionaly uncontrolled advances. As expected the unit that had been blown out of it's transport and then machine guned as they tried to recover ended up withdrawing stunned and ended up pinned as well.
The brave shepherd traded fire with the BUF survivors.
The BUF start shooting sheep and the flock eventualy panicks and breaks up and is then removed from the table.
In the final turn of the game Heidi attempts to push it's way through the gap left between the garden wall and the bus. It fails it's 'bogged down' test and is temporarily stuck in place. The WLP ladies take advantage of this and rush forward to assault with molotov cocktails. Unfortunately they get an 'out of ammo' result on their attack, indicating that the petrol has leaked out and the weapons are useless.
The final result was a victory for the WLP who had prevented Heidi from exiting the table, although they had come very close and the battle could easily have gone the other way.
Everybody had enjoyed the game. Combat Patrol had worked very well in a VBCW setting and the new players had quickly picked up how the streamlined card-driven mechanisms worked and were soon resolving combat and movement themselves.
Click here for further information on our 28mm Modern British Buildings & Roads used in this game
Click to look at the VBCW publications that we stock from Solway Publishing
Click here for details of basing figures on clear bases
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.