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.
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.
My son Lewis and I had been talking about playing a War of the Roses campaign for many months, but we just could not find a set of rules that we liked that had a realistic feel to them but did not give you a headache crossreferencing data in charts, looking things up in rulebbooks or quick play sheets. We had both really enjoyed playing Combat Patrol, which is also written by Buck Surdu, both for WW2 gaming and also for Winter of '79 style games. When we heard that Buck had also written a set of mass battle rules for Ancients, Medieval and Fantasy we thought we had better give them a try.
Purists will be upset, we are indeed gaming with some undercoated figures. Over the next few months this will change as we get our armies painted. However we felt the first priority was to try out the rules to see if we liked them before investing to much time in figure painting. The game uses the same 'Double Random Activation' system as Combat Patrol does for activating units, so we liked that straight away. Your army is commanded by a general and beneath him are wing commanders and contingent commanders if the game is large enough. At the start of each turn you roll a D6 for each leader. We use a nice small unobtrusive one as it stays with the leaders base. The number rolled is the activation number for that turn. The game uses an activation deck which has as a minimum cards black 1-6, red 1-6 and reshuffle. We used the activation deck from Combat Patrol, but you can use standard playing cards as well. After shuffling well (and making various sacrafices to the gods of chance and war), you turn the first card in the deck. All commanders with that dice next to them get to activate. Their is a competative roll off if both sides have a unit with that number. This means that units get to activate once, twice or not at all during any one turn depending on when the reshuffle card comes up. Pretty neat, but that's not the end of the story. If a unit's morale has failed they only get to act on the black numbered cards, a very easy mechanism for halving their efficiency. Commanders can 'command' by swapping their activation dice with their subordinates. For example, if your plan calls for a big left flanking sweep with massed cavalry on your flank and your left wing commander had '4' on his activation dice and your general had '2' on his activation dice and the first card drawn was a '2' your general can swap his '2' with his subordinates '4' to get him quickly on his way.
Our figures are 28mm and we have mounted them on single magnetic bases so we can use movement trays for different rule systems. I have made up special movement trays for playing Bear Yourself Valiantly. These are lined with steel vinyl and have a number of holes for holding figures on magnetic bases (8 for close order, 7 for open order) and a steel vinyl strip at the back that holds the unit data strip.
Bear Yourself Valiently has a system where everything you need to know about a unit is held on the units base, so no need to have a roster or quick reference sheet.
As we were playing with 28mm figures and the move distances and ranges were a bit short we made a special ruler and pace stick for measuring which scaled everything up by 150%
The rules played very fast and were very enjoyable. Lewis and I decided these were the type of rules that we wanted to use and have therfore embarked on a War of the Roses campaign. As we play more games and paint and base more miniatures I will add further articles to explain the other mechanisms in the rules and how the houses of York and Lancaster fare in this new contest.
Sunday 9th April 2016, Lewis and I had a great game of Combat Patrol TM set in the fictional world of 'The Winter of 79'
Combat Patrol TM is a unique set of skirmish level wargames rules, ideal for re-fighting platoon level engagements. Each figure is individually based but is part of a unit that it activates, moves and fires as part of, so a similar level of engagement as 'Bolt Action' for example. Although Combat Patrol was originally written for World War Two, the core mechanics are solid and very easily transferable to other periods and genres. Free supplements have already been written to cover the Russo-Finnish Winter War and the fictional 'Winter of Discontent' genre. Work is currently underway to release supplements for Napoleonic’s, Falklands, Aden, Borneo, Malaya, Afghan, Iraq and many other periods. The 'Winter of '79' is a fictional genre that proposes an alternative timeline when divisions in the country originating from establishments crackdowns after the Brighton bombing and NUM strike lead to armed conflict and regional breakdown.
Our scenario sees the border town of Abermule seized by Welsh Liberation Front (WLF) Militia. Barricades are put up to control entrance into the town.
The WLF forces consist of WLF Cadre (well trained and equipped deserters from regular and reserve forces) and WLF Local Force (newly recruited, enthusiastic and equipped with a mixture of civilian and military weaponry including shotguns, bolt action rifles etc)
The task of re-establishing control in Abermule falls to Lt Denby, 2 Pltn's two pip wonder, a banker by trade but keen 10 Para Subaltern one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. Calling his section commanders together for an 'O' group, he outlines the plan. No 1 Section will go firm making best use of cover and will lay down a base of fire to suppress the enemy to the front and hamper their redeployment. No 2 and No 3 section will go right flanking using the pub as cover to assault the enemy by section fire and manoeuvre. Pltn HQ will support right flank manoeuvre. Mortar Pltn have been warned off to support our assault. Are their any questions? Synchronise your watches, time is now 0642 on my mark. H hour is 0715.
In Combat Patrol, at the start of each turn a D6 is rolled for each leader to determine unit activation. An activation deck contains the minimum of the following cards, black 1-6, re 1-6 and reshuffle. These cards are shuffled and turned over for first unit activation. If the card turned was a 2, any units that had rolled a 2 would get to activate. If there were units on both side that had rolled a 2, they would get to roll off to see which unit activated first. Leaders can exert control by swapping their dice with their subordinates, so for example if Lt Denby had rolled a '2' for activation and No 1 Section Commander had rolled a '4' and the first card turned was a '2' and Lt Denby felt that the most import thing was to get No 1 Section moving he could swap his '2' dice with No 1 Sections '4' dice to get them moving.
As fate would have it their were a number of delays and issues that led to 10 Para being slow to cross the start line giving the WLF militia time to reposition their forces from the areas not threatened to those that were.
One of the key redeployments that the WLF got to make before they were engaged to the front was to reposition an Ex RM fire team into the first floor of a building diagonally across the street to the Pub with an excellent kill zone for their GPMG.
No 1 Section eventually make it to their fire position behind the pub car park wall put take casualties on the way.
Combat Patrol has a unique set of combat resolution mechanisms that take all of the tactical factors that you would expect from this level of wargame, including training, range, firer moving, target moving, wounds, out of command, rate of fire, cover of target and implement them via a streamlined set of card mechanics. This means the game flows really well without needing to refer to charts or rulebooks. One card is turned to resolve if the shot hit. If it hit a second card is turned to resolve the effect of the round hitting. The mechanism identifies the individual within the target group that is hit. If they get a cover save the squad gets a morale marker to represent being under effective enemy fire, if not the individual is wounded or incapacitated.
When a unit activates that has 'morale markers' on them, they need to resolve these before they can act as desired by the player. Once again these are resolved by turning a card for each marker and applying the result. Results can be troops being stunned, retreating or pulling themselves together and are often dependent on the level of morale / training of the unit. Here the WLF manning the barricades had come under heavy fire from 10 Para and had a stack of morale effects to resolve when activated which resulted in half the squad regrouping to the rear.
Ex Booties set up their GPMG iat a first floor window and proceed to 'brass up' No 1 Section in the pub car park.
WLF local forces reposition them selves to face the advace of No 2 and No 3 Sections.
Initially caught in the open, No 2 Section move through the outbuildings at the back of the pub, and put down a couple of smoke grenades to mask their advance.
Unfortunately the WLF are now in a good fire position.
Meanwhile No 1 Section has split of their gun group under L/Cpl Nobby White to set up a fire base at the first floor windows of 'The George and Dragon' to enfilade the WLF positions
'Four Alpha, this is Alpha One Sunray, fire mission over' Lt Denby gets on the Company net and directs in a 'stonk' from the Mortar Section.
To the front No 1 Section puts down sufficient fire to effectively neutralise the WLF troops manning the barricade. Unfortunately 10 Para's casualties were such that at that point they needed to go firm and await reinforcements from Company assets, so for the purpose of the scenario and it's victory conditions the WLF, well led by Lewis won the day and held the town.
It was a very enjoyable and fast moving game of Combat Patrol, we are both looking forward to our next game.
Sunday 13th March 2016
Combat Patrol : Winter of Discontent Engagment.
Active service units of the Welsh Liberation Front (WLF) have taken contol of the town, sealing all road exists with barricades manned by WLF Local Forces. Meanwhile WLF Cadre units wait in the 'George & Dragon' for the arrival of a transit van containing arms and ammunition to extend their power struggle.
'A' Coy, 10th Bn The Parachute Regt (TAVR) have been tasked to clear the road blocks and bring the town back under establishment control.
During this routine operation they discover the arms exchange under way in the pub carpark and this becomes their focus of operations.
Rifle sections on routine patrol are diverted to redeploy to stop the arms cache leaving.
WLF Cadre (these are the well trained and drilled units made up of ex service personel and commited revoloutionaries), arrive and deploy out of the transit van to hand arms over to local groups.
WLF Local Forces man the barricades. These are less well trained and armed with older rifles seized from TAVR and Cadet establishments together with civilian firearms.
The second unit of WLF Cadre deploy out of the pub to take control of transit van and be on their way, however a fierce firefight soon develops between both units and No 3 Section rifle group and gun group, forcing the group around the transit to take cover, pinned in the treeline behind the pub carpark.
No 1 Section deploy into some shops. They deploy their GPMG in a first floor window to put down an accurate covering fire in support of No 3 section.
No 3 sections rifle group and gun group take cover behind a substancial stone wall that prevents several incoming rounds causing fatalities.
In a brief lull in the fighting the WLF make a dash for it in the trannie van. Unluckily for them a determined burst from the GPMG ignites the fuel tank and it brews up nicely.
First engagement a definite win for the maroon machine!
Tuesday 23rd Febuary 2016
Last Tuesday Nick and I got to complete our Combat Patrol introductory game that saw German & US Paras come to grips during a meeting engagment in a small Normandy market town.
Both sides had sensibly taken cover inside buildings and behind the solid churchyard walls. A very sensible precaution as Combat Patrol is a very detailed and realistic WW2 skirmish game, so as you would expect the consequence of being caught in the open in the kill zone of a couple of squads is deadly. Combat Patrol is written by a retired US Army Colonel who has served his time as a Rifle Platoon commander, and you can tell by the feel of the rules and the way that they flow.
The game uses cards in a unique way to provide detail with out slowing the game down and getting bogged down in charts and calculations. The cards have a lot of games date on them as they are used to resolve movement, shooting, melee and morale checks. When a figure shoots a card is drawn to see if the shot hits. This is determined by the little chart at the top of the card. You start at a different position according to your training. My US Para's were Regulars so they started one slot to the right on the chart. Then some modifiers are used depending on tactical situation, i.e. range, in command, wounded, target or firer moving. These are all summarised by icons on the chart and are applied by shifts to the right. My Paras were stationary, as were their target, and the enemy was across the other side of the street, hiding behind the churchyard wall so close range, meaning no shifts this time. On the chart, white 'splats' are hits, black circles are misses. My Para therfore gets a round on target.
To determine the effect of the round on target, we draw a second card and look at the area with a picture of a soldier, left centre of card. The number tells us the individual in the target area who has been hit, so I hit 3rd figure from left in target group and looking at the picture of the target, round had got him in the chest for a non fatal wound... however looking at the right part of the card tells me if their has been a cover save. This is displayed as icons, and luckily for Trooper Schmidt a wall obstacle is displayed. This means the round would have got him in the chest but was deflected by the stone wall, saving the individual. However, it is still a rounds on target situation so the squad leader takes a morale token for resoloution next time the unit activates to represent the suppressing effect of fire on target.
The US Paras had come on from the west and have moved through the buildings, taking up fire positions in the shops, waiting for the moment when the Germans in the churchyard are suppresed to cross the open ground in front of the churchyard to take the war to the enemy. We also had a sqad going left flanking throught the cornfields. On reflection, this was a mistake as it took for ever to move through it (half move distance through rough terrain) and it provided very little cover when the rounds started coming in.
The pivot point of the battle. The Germans in the Churchyard and Church tower were either suppressed or were out of ammo / clearing blockages so we decided to move out and cross the open ground. When you shoot, a few of the cards have Out of Ammo markers, if you draw this it represents you having a stoppage (for whatever reason) and you can not shoot again until you have used an activation to clear it.
Unfortunately the attack stalled, the Germans got a couple of activations before the US Paras could actually get into cover. The assault squad, caught in the open was destroyed, the flank attack was to slow so we decided the only course was to fall back and request reinforcments before risking a second attack.
Game one to Nick and the Germans.
Great fun. We cant wait to play again, next time introducing some armour to the mix.
Outpost designation #2132 - An Imperial distress beacon calls for aid following the discovery of a strange relic. Dark Angels marines arrive within days and secure the compound
Shortly after arrival, the First Company ship picks up traces of warp activity. They have been followed by a Dark Eldar raiding party; Interragator Chaplain Raziel readies his troops for the incoming assault.
A webway portal rips open as the first of the Dark Eldar forces arrive with lethal precision. A troop of deadly Kabalite Warriors and their leader, the infamous Archon Drezden Kuda.
Mere moments later a second force breaches the facility on the opposite side. The sound of cruel laughter echoes down the halls as a group of Wyches and their mistress, the Succubus Lady Medrazae, begin the hunt.
Blast doors burst open. A venom transport whines into the facility carrying it's deadly payload.
A Mortis Contemptor Dreadnought stands fast as the hideous bulk of a Chronos Parasite Engine emerges through yet another breach. The Dark Angels are surrounded. The battle has begun.
A tactical squad launches it's own ambush and a deadly firefight errupts in one of the exterior corridors.
Despite the storm of fire from dual assault cannons, the Parasite Engine advances forward forcing the Contemptor into a brutal melee. A second tactical squad moves up in support of their ancient brother.
Sergeant Nakir of the second tactial squad unleashes a torrent of flame into the nearby Venom, covering the embarked Incubi squad and killing one of their number.
The surviving Incubi immediately disembark and prepare to unleash their deadly klaives upon the enemy.
Despite the looming threat, the Marines stand fast and unleash some deadly accurate overwatch fire, cutting down all but one of the Incubi. The Klaivex looks to set about his butchers work but, hampered by the bodies of his fallen kin, falls before he can claim more than a couple of the marines.
As the brutal melee continues, some troops find it hard to hit the mark in the confines of the steel corridors.
The first tactical squad make room as a plasma cannon is brought to bear against the advancing Archon. As the smoke clears, the Archon steps over the mangled corpses of his brethren, his shadowfield flickering in the gloom.
As the Contemptor wrestles valiantly with the monstrous engine, a Talos stalks silently into the fray - the Dreadnoughts fate looks to be sealed.
Archon Kuda charges his warriors headlong into the roar of bolters. But against all odds, the remaining marines stand fast and the Archon's lethal agoniser fails to find it's mark.
One of the interior doors erupts in a brilliant flash of haywire sparks as the Wyches burst down the corridor, their blades eager for the taste of human flesh.
The Dark Angels launch a hail of fire down the corridor in a perfectly timed ambush. But despite their legendary accuracy, only a couple of Wyches are laid low following a dazzling display of acrobatics and super-honed reflexes.
After a monumental battle, the last surviving member of the first tactial squad is finally brought down. The Archon spurs the remnants of his vanguard deeper into the facility.
The Succubus Medrazae finally comes face to face with her quarry only to find her legendary skill and grace strangely absent. Ezekiel, Grand Master of the Librarians, has reached out into the warp and sapped the Wyches of their will to fight. The slaughter is swift and merciless.
The two monstrous Engines finally break the heroic Contemptor but to no avail. The Eldar forces are defeated and Archon Kuda calls for his raiders to retreat. The valiant sacrifice of the fallen Angels has bought them valuable time for reinforcements to arrive. The relic is secure.
... so in the end the Dark Angels prevailed, at times it seemed like a pretty close run thing as it felt they were being assailed from all sides. Many thanks to David Thomas Rowe for bringing his fantastic WH40k models over for a game and for providing the write up to the battle.
Terrain is Sally 4th Sci-Fi Interiors...it's modular, pre-painted and comes apart for storing in a very small space between games. click here for full details.
Normandy 1944 US PIR face elements of 6 Fallschirmjager Regt in a meeting engagment.
Combat Patrol is a completely unique take on WW2 Miniatures gaming. It can be played with any size miniatures and the level of engagment is very similar to Bolt Action with players commanding round about a reinforced platoon.
Individual units represent half squads of around five miniatures, weapons teams or individual vehicles. What makes the game special is that it is highly detailed but enjoyable and fast to play due to the way that it has been designed.
Gameplay uses two decks of cards, an activation deck that determines the order in which units activate and an action deck that is uses for just about everything else. At the start of each turn both players roll a dice for each leader in their force (NCO's and Officers) and place the dice next to their unit. The activation deck contains Red 1:6, Black 1:6, Reshuffle and some special cards that for example give elite troops an extra activation. When a number card is turned over, all squads that have that number on their dice get to activate.
The Germans main force deployed at the far side of the town behind the church yard and proceeded to move up towards the town centre using the churchyard walls for cover while a second section deployed on their left flank and slowly advanced through the jumble of back yards and outbuildings. The Germans in the churchyard demonstrate text book fire and manoeuvre, putting down a base of fire with LMG as riflemen leapfrog past them. Late war Fallschirmjager do really benefit from having 2 x MG42 per section allowing one to be deployed in each squad.
The US Paras quickly move up and into the buildings edging the town square and attempt to set up their .30 calibres in sustained fire mode at first floor windows, however the devistating fire that the Germans poor into the building delays their progress as each time they activate they need to deal with morale effects before they can continue with their mission.
As both sides consolidate their positions, casualties begin to mount. The way that Combat Patrol deals with combat is very elegant. Figures get a number of shots each activation, which is determined by the weapon they are using and range to target. For each shot a card is drawn from action deck that determines if the shot has hit or not. This resolution uses a mini chart on card and takes into account quality of shooter, range to target and if either shooter or target is moving. If a hit is scored a second card is drawn that determines the effect of the shot. Icons on the card illustrate what type of cover will protect the target, which figure in the group is hit and whether wound is lethal. Regardless of whether a wound is caused, target gains a morale marker that needs to be resolved before they can act again. The card mechanism also deals with out of ammo / blockages in a neat way.
Typically the Germans get a squad into the Church tower that gives them an excellent field of fire over the town square.
Here, my opponent draws a card from the action deck and we can see the range of information on each card that allows it to be used to determine movement distance, resolve shooting against infantry and vehicles, the effect of HE fire, morale tests and many more without the need for using complex charts and reference sheets.
The game is to be continued, so I will update the post when it is completed.
Last Saturday, we had our first game of Otherworld Fantasy Skirmish. What a fantastic game system! We only played the introductory scenario, which is a good old fashioned Barroom Brawl. This uses very basic, low level characters to introduce you to the principals of the Otherworld rules. Each side had the same characters, a Veteran, Pickpocket, Worshipper and Beserker. The rules are designed to be played by two players, so we had to develop a way to allocate initiative and fate to three or more characters.
In a game of Otherworld, Initiative and Fate are very important. You do not get to activate every model, every turn, but if you spend two fate you can buy an additional activation. At the start of each turn, in the standard twio player game, both players roll a D6 to determine starting initiative and fate counters. The higer score goes first and the lesser roll is subtracted from the higher roll, the result is halved and rounded up and this determines the amount of fate the starting player has. Anything left over from high roll minus low roll is the second players fate. What I did to take a mechanism that would work for any number of players, was to write down all of the combinations of two dice rolls and work out how much fate would be allocated. Their are 36 combinations possible, so a number from 1 to 36 was engraved on the top of a counter and the amount of fate on the bottom half of a counter. This gives the same odds / distribution as rolling the two dice. These chits were then drawn from a bag to determine order of activation (lowest first) and number of fate points.
At the start of the game all of the characters are unarmed. The Innkeeper has wisely decided that weapons should be kept in a chest in the backroom behind the bar. A sensible precaution. This of course made the area of the bar and the room behind it awash with blood!
In Otherworld Fantasy Skirmish you always have hard decisions to make as you never have enough resources to go around so you need to be continually thinking about what your priorities are and focussing your resources there. To start off with you can only get enough activation counters for half of your models each turn, so the first decision is who to activate, secondly Fate tokens are very scarce, if you get one or two a turn you are lucky. You can spend one token to adjust a dice roll by one or two tokens to buy an extra activation.
Combat is pretty straight forward, what you need to roll to hit is determined by your skill with a particular weapon. If you have scored a hit you check to see if you have inflicted any damage by comparing the strength of the weapon you are using with the defense attribute of your opponent. If your opponent is wearing armor they are entitled to roll a saving throw. This is a simple but fast, effective and enjoyable (because it is easy to use and remember) system. Most characters have between one and three hit points.
The quick reference sheets that Otherworld supply as a free download are very handy and have pretty much all of the tables you need to reference during the game.
We made up some character cards that fit inside deck protectors with a photo of the character and all of it's stats for easy reference during the game. If any one is interested in having some of these as I design them let me know and I'll get them added as a free download from our website.
Our bar-room was put together with components from the Terra-Block terrain system. The pieces we are using are standard pieces that come pre-painted and just need gluing together with PVA glue. In the future we are planning to make a set as part of our 'Old School Dungeon' range which will have downloadable medieval stone cover sheets, like the dungeon sets.
The Otherworld system worked smoothly, and with the addition of our initiative / fate chits supported multi player gaming really well. Next weekend we will be playing a more advanced game to check out how the adventure deck and wandering monsters etc. add to the gaming experiance.
Frostgrave - Treasure hunting in the frozen wastes
Last weeks's Frostgrave at Ripon Wargames club featured a central library complex, within some ruined walls. The library was made from the new Sally 4th Terra-Block Old School Dungeon Starter Set.
My warband is led by a Summoner, Nathans by a Necromancer. My Summoner managed to fluff every single spell he attempted in this game, although his apprentice had a lot more success, particularly with Jump which was used with good effect to move soldiers on to treasure and then back out of the complex.
We used wandering monsters, appearing on roll of 16+ on a random board edge. The most significant of these to appear was a Werewolf that tied Nathans soldiers up for several turns, but finally resulted in a Werewoves head worth 20 gp.
This was a great game, we used a couple of house rules which helped. Game was played for a fixed length. 5 turns extended to 6 turns on 11+, extended to 7 turns on another 11+ roll. No experiance granted for killing the opposition, 25xp granted for succesful spell casting and 25gp each for treasure left on table at end of game.