I ran three Combat Patrol™ games at Historicon 2016. All turned out very well. In two of the games there seemed to be someone who was struggling with the card-based mechanics, but after a couple of turns everyone was pretty much self sufficient and running the rules themselves. I was relegated to the role of answering the occasional question. In addition to my two Combat Patrol™ games, Eric Schlegel and Kurt Schlegel each ran a World War II game on our rubbled city terrain using the rules. (We set up a rubbled city table on Friday and ran six different scenarios (with different rules) on the same terrain.) Also, Duncan Adams ran a Napoleonic game using the rules.
Battle Before the Battle
Duncan Adams ran his very entertaining Napoleonic game using a modified version of Combat Patrol(TM). These variants will be published in the near future as a supplement to Combat Patrol(TM): World War II. In this scenario, the battle focuses on the two opposing skirmish screens between the two formed units. One formed unit is a line of infantry. The other is an advancing column. The idea is to fight your way through the enemy’s skirmishers and pick away at the officers and men in the formed units. After the last turn, points are tallied based on number of enemy skirmishers killed. Then the two formed units make morale checks based on the casualties they received during the skirmish fight. In this way the players get to see whether their skirmish fight affected the larger battle.
You can see that the formed units are represented by “blocks of troops.” This is a convenient abstraction that keeps the focus on the skirmish fight, is easier than moving hundreds of figures that do not contribute to the focus of the game, and also acts as a game timer. The column advances six inches per turn. This means that the advancing skirmishers need to keep advancing or get bowled over. When the column is close enough to the line, it shakes out in to line, and the game ends.
My first game was as a fill-in GM. Greg Priebe was scheduled to run a Star Wars game using Combat Patrol™, but then work and family issues prevented him from attending Historicon. I offered to run his Star Wars game, since I am familiar with the rules. Greg had already done all the work to create the stats for the different Star Wars weapons. We didn’t have to use the body armor rules, since Stormtrooper armor doesn’t seem to have any effect except to look cool. The scenario involved a rebel smuggling ship that was shot down by the Empire and crashed into a city that had been destroyed by the Sith many years prior. The game was three sided, with the Empire, rebels, and a “scum and villainy” faction landing forces to collect the valuable artifacts scattered around the table by the crash of the smuggling ship. The scum and villainy faction even had a captured walker. The game was quite fun, and all the players got a good introduction to the innovative mechanics of Combat Patrol™: World War II.
The results of a hit in Combat Patrol™ can be a wound or incapacitation. In the picture above, you can see a white band around one of the Stormtroopers. This indicates that he has been wounded. When the number of wounds equals or exceeds a figure’s Endurance attribute (three, in most cases), the figure is considered to be incapacitated and is removed from the game. In this picture you can also see command dice next to two different Stormtrooper teams. The one on the right is gray. By convention, this is “normal.” I use these gray dice, because they tend to blend into the background and do not distract from the aesthetics of the game. The die on the left is black. That team had previously taken one or more morale checks, and one of the results indicated that the unit was “pinned.” To remind players, we place this black die on the unit. This indicates that the unit may only activate on black cards from the Activation Deck until it rallies.
Though I am not sure I set up the scenario the way Greg had intended, the game was pretty even. The scum and villainy faction found 8 treasures, the Empire 7, and the rebels 6.
In this picture you can see some of the cards from the Action Deck in Combat Patrol™: World War II. These cards are used to resolve movement, firing, damage, hit location, effects of high explosives, and morale. As a result, there are no chart cards to clutter the the table. The previous pictures were not staged or cleaned up for the photos. This is what a table looks like during a game.
Eric Schlegel’s Stalingrad Game
Eric Schlegel ran a Stalingrad game in the rubbled city. This scenario involves a German attack on a Russian-held area. The Soviets are classed a Green troops for firing accuracy, which greatly restricts their effects. They have an anti-tank gun, a minefield, and a submachine gun squad, which helps a bit. In the play test a couple of weeks ago, the Germans successfully infiltrated and captured the required five buildings they needed. Below are some pictures from Eric’s game.
Kerfuffle at the Crossroads
Saturday morning I ran a World War II game. This game involved an American paratrooper platoon defending two barricades that were blocking a German advance. The Germans sent an understrength panzer grenadier platoon to take the town and dismantle the obstacles.
The Americans had two squads of paratroopers. Each team (or half squad) also had a captured panzerfaust. The American squads had belt-fed M1919 machine-guns. The Americans also had a bazooka team. The attacking Germans had two SdKfz 251 halftracks, a Hetzer, two squads of panzer grenadiers, a panzerschreck team, and an extra light machine-gun.
The town is a mix of Crescent Root buildings and the excellent Sally 4th corner shops building I blogged about previously. The cobblestone area is from a craft store and came with the cobblestone pattern on it already. Most of the trees are from Battlefield Terrain Concepts.
We were a little light on players, so I took one of the German commands. We decided that we couldn’t take the town in a head-on attack. The Americans knew the direction we would approach and could sight in their weapons accordingly. I took one squad, the machine-gun team, and the Hetzer. My job was keep the Americans entertained. JJ broke his squad into two half squads and put one on each of the halftracks. Then as the game began, he pushed them down the right edge of the board to get behind the Americans.
The first halftrack disgorged its infantry on the American flank, but the Americans were able to quickly relax and chewed up JJ’s infantry in the field from the second floor windows and the rear terrace of the corner shops. The second halftrack continued past the bloodbath into a patch of woods behind the American position, where its infantry dismounted.
In this shot, you can see that the American bazooka team is repositioning based on our flanking maneuver. It eventually got a mobility kill on my Hetzer, which greatly limited its ability to contribute to the fight.
In this shot you can see that the halftracks and infantry have gotten behind the Americans. At this point, the Americans were surrounded. The Germans had taken many casualties. I had half my infantry gunned down in an open field trying reach the protection of the white walled area in the upper right of this picture, and JJ’s infantry took a bloody nose in the field surrounded by the hedges, but we had also severely attritted the Americans and had them surrounded. At this point the Americans conceded. I think the game was a big success. Everyone had a good time, and the game might have gone very differently. I am happy with the scenario.
The Warsaw Uprising
Saturday evening I ran a game based on the Warsaw uprising. The Polish underground saw the Russians approaching Warsaw and rose up against the Nazi occupiers. The Russians then stopped outside the city and let the Germans kill most of the Poles capable of resisting the Russians’ subsequent occupation of Poland. This scenario involved the Germans trying to clear a path through this portion of the rubble city while the Poles were trying to inflict as much damage as possible and slow the German advance.
The Poles began with six four-man teams on the table, and each turn they deployed one or more additional teams. These reinforcements could pop up anywhere on the table, but they couldn’t be within line of sight of the Germans when they did so; someone would have to move at least once before shooting at each other. The Poles did a nice job of trying to hold back the Germans, but luck didn’t go their way. There was one Polish player who seemed to have a sniper in his team; every time he fired, he got a fatal head shot on a German.
Again, note the clean look of this table with little table clutter to spoil the aesthetics of the game. The table is a mix of Crescent Root, Amorcast, Miniature Building Authority, and scratch-built buildings. The rubble piles are made from model railroad blast. The ground cloth is from Cigar Box Battles.
I thought I took more pictures of the table than this, but I was having some trouble with my camera. In this picture you can see advancing German infantry, a dead Pole in the center of the table, and some other Poles in a rubbled building on the right.
All three games that I ran and the two that the Schlegels ran were successful. The players picked up the rules quickly, and everyone seemed to have a good time. As mentioned previously, at first one or two people struggled with the unique mechanics of Combat Patrol™, but eventually they all got it. Interestingly, the guys who seemed to have the most trouble were the ones who approached me after the game about how much they liked the system.
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