Combat Patrol – Game set up

This week we are going to start a series of Combat Patrol games, in a narrative style campaign. The first game is a refresher of the rules and mechanisms since Combat Patrol works somewhat differently to every other ruleset we play, but the casualties will have a bearing on the games to come so hopefully the players will be careful with their tin soldiers lives….

The briefing for the two sides is simple. The Germans have 3 x 5 men teams (with 1 LMG amongst them) and a 3 man MMG team. They are the outpost line and may have dug themselves in. The British troops have 2 full sections (4 teams) and a Platoon command team. They are to probe the enemy and find their positions. If they can they should attempt to manoeuvre a team to the enemy base edge which will induce a withdrawal.

Apologies for the poor photo’s, they’re from my phone.

Figures a mix of FAA, Britannia and Lancer, farm from Commission Figurines, Hedges from Last Valley and trees a mix of Last Valley, home made and some new additions to my collection from Woodland Scenics, based and finished last week.

Table

German Forces

British Forces

New trees

Looking down the lane

The plan for 2017

Yes, OK, we are already 2 months in. 2017 is already looking like it will be a productive year. Spurred on by Hammerhead and some conversations over Christmas we have already had a series of Blucher games, and are working through a series of LOTR SBG games right now.

The intention here is to play the same ruleset for a few weeks in a row, to get familiar with them and learn, rather than choppig and changing all the time.

Next up on the list is going to be Combat Patrol. Having just bought 200 quids worth of hedges from Last Valley I am keen to put them to use. We will play an introductory session to refresh memories in a couple of weeks and then build the forces and complexity of the game for a few weeks.

As for the painting table, I have resolved to get some collections finished rather than worry about what we are playing next so I am sending some 6mm Napoleonics to a painting service and have one Spanish infantry unit left to paint myself – hopefully done tonight. Then I’m onto some trees, bought off the bring and buy at Hammerhead, which i based onto mount board on Sunday and just need to PVA and sand, paint and flock and that is all the 6mm/10mm trees i likely will need done.

After that? Dunno yet. My planning isnt that far along.

LOTR – War of the Ring

We played our first game of War of the Ring last week at Matt’s, using his Uruk Hai and Mordor Orks. I won, with the Orks, although it was the three trolls I had that did the most damage. We got a few bits wrong here and there but it’s a nice set of rules, different to classic GW games and flows pretty well. We’re going to play it more in the coming months, once I get some more Rohan painted. What I’ve got thus far barely makes 3 companies… I do however have more than enough bases all ready and prepped, having bought many from Warbases.

Click on the Pictures to get bigger versions.

Théoden, Eowyn and a couple of left overs

Company of Archers

Company of Warriors of Rohan

AWI Project almost finished

Finally got around to taking some pictures of my 10mm Pendraken AWI figures today. The collection is almost finished, and comprises 12 British regiments and 3 Hessian, along with a couple of artillery pieces and some Hessian Jaegers. I still have some more officers to paint up, which will be based on slightly less ridiculously large bases, and also a few more guns. I think I could probably do with some more skirmish troops, although most of the British regiments have had their Light & Grenadier Co’s painted and based separately, to allow for the creation of converged battalions. Lastly I could do with some cavalry.

Almost all of the figures have been painted by Andy Mac, although a few are my own work which although not as good, is relatively indistinguishable at anything but very close range. All basing on PWS Steel bases using PVA and sand then painted and with MiniNatur tufts.

Click on the images for full size versions.

The whole army mustered

British Units

British Units

British Units

The Hessians

British Units

British Units

British Units

British Units

Hessian Lieb and Jaegers

Hessian Musketeers

British Units

British Units

Also visible are some split rail fences I have painted up recently from the Baggage train. A bit flashy, but very good value for what you get, and a lot easier to do than making them. I will be buying some more as these will see service both with my AWI and ACW collections.

Getting antsy and “ooh shiny” syndrome

I’m having a bit of a resurgence in interest in doing “stuff” for wargaming, and as a result my brain is going overboard with ideas and lots of “ooh shiny” moments.

Currently I’m waiting on some 20mm buildings from HACME, have about 100+ LOTR Rohan figures to paint, the remnants of about 5 6mm Spanish Napoleonic units to paint, so it makes perfect sense for me to be thinking “I’d really like to get some more ancients. I wonder what goes with my Marian Romans/Spanish/Maccabean Jewish that I currently have” because clearly the Jewish don’t go with the Marians in any sense of contemporaneous sense!

I’m thinking DBA 3.0, and some quick and dirty ancients games to make use of my desert GeoHex which I’ve had for a few years and never actually used.

Then there’s the 15mm Vietnam project, for which I’ve recently bought 2 QRF hueys (urgh – review to follow at some stage) and 4 Revell Plastic hueys. Itching to get these on table and start playing some Charlie Don’t Surf, and think of how to interface that and FNG/Combat Patrol into a campaign type environment – almost certainly the existing OPS system I’ve got.

I also think I need to change the blog layout. The main page looked really smart when I started and was focussed on only a couple of things, but now it’s very diverse it needs changing.

100% post increase over 2015

Just realised I’ve already managed 100% more posts this year than last year… That’s pretty good, until you realise I had only to beat 3…

Shocking.

Commission Figurines 20mm Farm

I’ve had a surge of enthusiasm recently since switching off the Flight Sim server for a little while and having a break/wind down from all the stress that was causing. As a result I’ve had a number of real productive sessions doing one thing or another for wargaming.

We have been trying to sort out a calendar of games for the near future, as too many weeks end up being “what are we doing next week” and as a result we either end up with Dominion, Carcassonne (Both great games in their own right) or something completely new. What we aren’t doing is playing a ruleset for a few weeks to get back into the groove, and therefore nights are spent more looking at the rulebook and trying to remember what the hell is going on, rather than enjoying the game. Anyway, this prompted me to look at what I wanted to do for a few weeks and I decided I wanted to play Combat Patrol with Matt, Richard and Peter, first in it’s WW2 setting, and then possibly moving into Vietnam again.

My 20mm terrain is looking pretty tired, and to be honest desperately needs revamping. So I bought the farm below from Commission Figurines. (www.commission-figurines.co.uk)

Commission Figurines Farm


I’ve got some of his other ruined terrain and like it so thought I’d splash out on something a bit bigger. A couple of days later I had a box of MDF in front of me. The kit itself is very straight forward to put together, to be honest I think it slotted together without glue for the most part in about 5 minutes. However, once built I wasn’t entirely happy with it. MDF is fantastic for some things, but representing slate and stone I don’t rate it up there.

So I set about customising the kit a little

First I glued some window cills and lintels cut from thin card. Using the same thin card, I cut some individual stones to put on the corners of the main farmhouse, as if that had been standing first, then the yard walls had been joined onto the building. Then I got some mounting board and made some shutters, scoring the front to represent planking. Then I remembered some laser cut shingles from Warbases which were left over from the 28mm Barn. So I used them on one of the 3 roofs. Of course, this just made the other two look even worse, so I took an old cereal box and cut some strips of tiles myself. They’re too big really for 20mm, and I did each strip freehand without reference to the one before, so some of the tiles don’t overlap quite right. But, the general impression is reasonably good. Last thing to do was to coat the entire surface in a mix of PVA, water and some ready mixed filler I had knocking around. This tip from Richard Clarke is very good, and it really does a lot to give a textured surface without going to extremes. It also is very useful for disguising the corner tabs of the MDF.

Commission Figurines Farm

Commission Figurines Farm

Commission Figurines Farm

Commission Figurines Farm

Commission Figurines Farm

Commission Figurines Farm

An overall spray of Matt Brown, then a heavy dry brush of “cashmere” and a lighter dry brush of “Ivory” (both Homebase tester pots) and the main walls were done. Dark green paintwork for the wooden fixtures, and black roofs dry brushed with Vallejo Black Grey and then very light GW Space Wolves Grey and we’re done, with the usual ground texturing and paintwork to match my figure bases.

I’m quite pleased with the overall effect. And it’s proved a useful test bed for painting buildings which will come in handy as I have 6 new scratchbuilds coming from Stephan at HACME Construction (Rapier Mini’s). Only problem is that I’m now even less satisfied with my old scratchbuild terraces, I think they’ll be getting a repaint and some shutters/new roofs shortly.

LOTR Rohan

Over the past year I’ve been doing something I never thought would happen, buying Games Workshop figures. Now, clearly, I’m not buying them FROM GW, that would be ludicrous given their prices and the vast amount that is kicking around on Ebay second hand.

I painted Theoden and Eowyn some time ago, but have only recently got their basing finished. Which is a happy coincidence as I’ve only just finished trimming the roofs on these two 4Ground Viking buildings I purchased at Hammerhead in February. I can’t quite stretch to buying the full blown Hall that 4Ground do, but I think these two buildings, supplemented by some stuff that Matt has will fill the “Rohan Settlement” scenery requirement for a while, although the buildings could do with a bit of weathering and so forth, they look a little too clean for me.

Rohan Smallholding in the woods somewhere

A couple of Rohan troops

Theoden King

Eowyn

I’m quite pleased with the figures look, the ordinary troops are simple block painting with an Army Painter Strong Tone wash, while the characters are getting a little more layering etc. Eowyn’s eyes were a pig, my usual technique struggled since her hair is in the way when approaching from the side of the face. Still, they’re not terrible.

Not sure whether I ever posted this, but here’s Aragorn as a little bonus. Painted him several years ago having been given a bunch of old models.

Aragorn

Aragorn

Combat Patrol (TM) – A second look

Matt and I played through a goodly number of turns tonight of a test game, set in Vietnam pitching a regular rated American platoon against a number of Green rated VC Cells. Table was mainly jungle with paddies and a village in one corner but the action was firmly within the bounds of the jungle.

We started at around 8.30pm, and by around 10pm had played 5 turns, including explaining the rules, reading through to find specific answers and so on. Pretty good going and to be honest it felt like we were motoring compared to other sets. Resolving movement distances, activation sequences, shooting were all done in a very slick fashion so CP gets a firm thumb up for speed. Matt had picked up the sequence and mechanics easily within a turn.

We only had a few exchanges of fire, which being at short range in the woods were extremely bloody affairs, with only a few shots being saved by the terrain. I wonder if this is because the rules were developed for discrete “areas” of woods, rather than 5/6ths of the table being wood. I shall ask. It could also be down to the cards, we definitely need to play through a few more games to get a feel for the distributions of damage/cover etc.

I still think that there could be work done on the physical rule book to lay out concepts in both their basic and advanced forms in a more logical and flowing manner, and that some clearer pictures/graphics would be beneficial. However, one of my previous criticisms turned out to be wrong, there is a pictorial explanation of the cover icons, it’s just not where you’d expect it! (Kudos to Buck for not pointing out my mistake either!)

As ever when you play a new ruleset on your own, you end up with questions. However this time, we had only a few and I will post them on the Yahoo site in the next day or so in the full expectation that a swift response will be given, Buck’s support is extremely good from what I have seen. As you’d expect, some of our queries are more in line with using a WW2 set for Vietnam, “how should we treat RPG’s, M79’s”, “should we treat jungle like woods”, etc and not direct rules misunderstandings although one has just been asked and answered in the past couple of days!

All in all, we are very impressed with the rules and look forward to using them again. I suspect that the rules will not receive the praise and interest they deserve (there’s precious little out there on the blog-o-sphere and on TMP), and will be doing what I can to rectify this.

And now a few pictures of the table and figures.

US

US

VC

VC

Table

Combat Patrol (TM) Review

Combat Patrol (TM): WW2 is a set of WW2 skirmish rules released by Buck Surdu featuring some innovative features designed to speed up play and maintain friction and player interaction in a multiplayer environment. I bought the “bundle” from Sally 4th here in the UK, which priced at £25 (+£2.80 P&P) got me the rules in hardcopy, an activation deck and 2 action decks of cards (enough for 2-4 players – Extra action decks are available priced at 4 for £22.50) . I bought them Thursday, they arrived Monday well packaged in a padded envelope.

On unwrapping the package and getting the contents out, the first thing I saw was that the rulebook was on decent quality shiny paper, and although not hard backed had a decent card cover. The card decks were decent enough quality, a bit thicker card might have been nicer, and the “tabs” where they’ve been held in a frame having been die stamped (presumably?) are a little prominent on the sides. More concerning is that they appear to be losing their back colour at the edges already, but that might be something that doesn’t get any worse.

Reading through the rules I’m struck by a couple of things, the first is that the font used is something similar to a Remington Typewriter font. I can see why there’s been a few complaints about it, it’s not that easy to read and doesn’t look sharp and clear. More importantly however is that the illustrated examples of the rules in action are not very clear, you cannot read the cards that are being displayed because they are so low res. I don’t know if this is a function of my copy being produced in the UK from a different file to the original US versions, or whether they all look like this. The rules themselves are laid out in an odd fashion IMO, almost like they were meant to be two documents. The intro talks about “quick start rules” and these I think are the 6-8 pages of basic infantry rules with few frills and chrome. There’s then a whole series of advanced and/or optional rules to add detail and chrome, which refer back to the basics. Personally I would have preferred to have had everything in one place to do with a topic. I noticed a couple of seeming inconsistencies within the rules and examples also which suggest maybe previous iterations of the rules have crept in or not been changed out – easy to do when you’ve been involved with something for 2+ years but suggests that proof reading wasn’t done by a fresh pair of eyes. The worst issue though is that despite using graphics (not particularly clear or high res I might add) throughout the cards to indicate various things, there’s no pictorial glossary, just lists of them referencing the unclear image of a card on a previous page in the rules. Problem is that at least for one of these lists (Cover) these are almost certainly in the wrong order despite being explicitly stated left to right. It would have been a simple thing to do, and much more obvious than the list buried in the middle of relevant mechanics. All in all, my reaction to the components of the rules are a little muted compared to my expectations.

Onto the very limited playtest I ran. The basic rules themselves are fairly clear to understand, excepting the issues above. Additionally there are a series of video’s on youtube featuring walkthroughs by Buck of various mechanics which is how I got interested in the rules in the first place. Having an idea of what is going on can be pretty dangerous when trying a new ruleset as it’s easy to let prejudice and expectation get in the way of actually how mechanics work. It can of course be helpful in filling in blanks where needed also.

I happened to have some troops on table from an abortive Force on Force game we (tried to) play last week, so I quickly rolled some dice to get a few squads their activation numbers, and shuffled the decks (not quite as well as I could have done as it turned out!). I had to make a few quick judgements on how to rate the Vietnam weaponry, opting to simply make M16’s and AK47’s the same as rifles, M60’s and RPD’s the same as Light Machine guns, and RPG’s the same as rifle grenades. I rated the US as regular and VC as green to see both in action. Jungle halved movement as per the woods rules, and off we went. The The “Double Random Activation” sequence works well, and is quick to use. Troops who activate get one action, Move, fire, throw grenade, reload etc. Movement was quick and ran from the cards easily although the rules make reference to an optional D10 there was no mention of how that worked or why it would be necessary in the basic rules. Shooting initially was a bit of a joke, I managed to pull 7 out of ammo cards in succession. Clearly the Force on Force game had used it all up!  After a couple of activations for some of the fireteams, one for others and none for one, the “reroll and shuffle” card came up. This is basically like the Tea Break card in IABSM, however unlike that card, there is no obvious “end of turn” activation for troops who haven’t activated and are in range or what have you. Thus it seems entirely possible that some troops may do nothing all game given the right combinations of dice and cards (Unlikely but not impossible). After the next couple of activations, troops had managed to reload, and I started shooting again. The VC were in bunkers and the US in the jungle, so I expected it to be relatively casualty light and it indeed was, one US trooper was hit (twice in the same activation), the first time a wound and the next in the head so he was out of it, and another was hit but cover saved him. I was somewhat unclear as to whether this stunned figure accrued a morale marker, the rules seemed to be inconsistent on this point – “When a figure should have been wounded or incapacitated but cover protected it, ….still accrues a morale marker” yet in the illustrated example this is not the case and the text for the morale tests says “whenever a figure is wounded or incapacitated, it’s leader figure accrues a morale marker” – no mention of near misses. Still, one of the figures had been hit, so a morale marker was placed and on that unit’s next activation a card was turned for the mandatory morale test which was fine.

All in all, from a limited reading and very quick partial play test, the rules seem promising and above all seem quick and focussed, which is what we desperately want. Yes there appear to be a few issues here and there, but there is a Yahoo group for players to ask questions on, and I have experienced lightening fast responses from Buck when posting some initial questions. Yes the (TM) and the acronym for the GAMER system are a bit odd and a bit OTT as an Englishman but Buck is American (they do stuff differently over there!). I do tend to the overly critical side of the spectrum but I do not think these rules warrant a rant, there’s simply a few disappointing factors from what I have seen thus far. What I need to do now is work out exactly what amendments I need to make for Vietnam if any, and play a full game incorporating all the rules in the advanced section that are relevant. Frankly if they work, or can be made to work then they are a damn sight more useful than Force on Force to us!