Last weekend was Cold Wars in Lancaster, PA. Due to family commitments, I was only able to attend on Saturday, when I ran three back-to-back Combat Patrol (TM) games. In addition to my games, Zeb Cooke ran a Winter War game with 28mm figures, Dave Wood ran two Boer War games, and Duncan Adams ran his Napoleonic game (see previous posts). Running three back-to-back games on Saturday had the benefit of limiting the amount of time I had to spend money in the dealers’ hall, but it also limited my ability to take pictures. The picture above is the only one I remembered to take of the Poland 1939 game.
In my first game a Russian column was pushing up this road through the snow, but the Finns had other ideas. The Finns began the game hidden in the various wooded areas. In addition to some satchel charges and Molotov cocktails, the Finns had a single anti-tank gun.
The Russian tanks were mostly road-bound, as they had to suffer bog checks if they left the road. The Finns had also mined one of the frozen lakes. The Russians immediately spread out their infantry to try to clear the wooded areas.
The hidden anti-tank gun brewed up one of the Russian light tanks. By the end of the game, most of the Finnish infantry had been badly mauled, but the Russians had also taken heavy casualties. I called it a narrow Finnish victory.
My second game was based on a scenario from the Skirmish Campaigns book on Poland 1939. The Poles launched a local counter attack to knock the Germans on their heels. It was a bloody affair with nearly every tank on both sides wiped out. While I was running this game, Zeb was running his Winter War scenario. I understand it went quite well, but I was busy running my own game and didn’t get a chance to see it.
My third game was based on another Skirmish Campaigns scenario and was set in France in 1940. The French launched a local counter attack. According to the scenario, the Germans had a 75mm gun, which in 1940 was a monster. The gun took out two Somuas and two Char Bs. The French continued to advance up the road into the teeth of the AT gun while pumping HE shells into the anti-tank gun’s position. Luck was not with the French as after pumping six or seven HE rounds into the position and driving off the crew once, they were not able to knock out the crew. The Germans had lost all of their tanks (35(t)s and 38(t)s) by the end of the game. The French objective was to push two vehicles across the table, but they only got one off the table, and their remaining Somua was still in the kill zone of the AT gun, so I called it a German victory, but it was a close run affair.
In all three scenarios, the rules worked well. For a small number of players, there was a bit of not seeing the forest for the trees. I have been working on an optional rules supplement to handle a few “corner cases” that are not fully addressed in the rule book, but in general, they held up well in a variety of situations. In the France 1940 scenario, the French players were upset that they were unable to knock out the AT gun, which was a result of really poor luck. Still, I think they came close to winning and could have won if they had done something other than continuing to charge up the road straight at the AT gun and had instead sought some cover. Players tend to ascribe tactical mistakes or bad luck to the rules being broken. An odd situation occurred that I plan to address as an optional rule, but again players tend to latch onto one tree and forget about the forest. Also, in the Finland game, players kept wanting to gunk up the game with additional modifiers that favored them. (They would likely have been just as vocal about opposing those same modifiers if they had been on the other side.) While most of the players were very happy with the rules, a few folks didn’t appreciate the streamlined nature of the rules or the fact that a lot happened in a short period of playing time. At the same time my France 1940 games was going on, I kept an eye on a nearby France 1944 game, and while the players had a great deal of fun, there wasn’t a lot of movement. The card mechanic is really unique, and I have found that sometimes players really fight it and don’t try to get their heads around it. Once they do embrace this new paradigm, they really see its benefits.
On Military Matters brought 16 copies of the starter set (printed rule book, one activation deck, and two action decks) and sold more than half. Of course, I would have liked for them to sell out, but I think that was a solid showing.
I also recruited someone to start working on the modern Afghanistan and Iraq supplements for the game. There are a lot of issues to work through, so don’t expect this in the next month, but it is definitely moving forward now. So, while I am working on the South Pacific WWII, there are folks working on Napolenoics, British Colonial (Boers, Zulus, and the Sudan), the Falklands and other post-WWII British campaigns, and Modern Afghanistan and Iraq. I am looking for someone who wants to go after Grenada and Panama, so I can concentrate on my favorite campaigns of WWII: Finland (done), France 1940, and Poland 1939. I am also beginning to mull around a card-based scenario generation systems for Combat Patrol(TM) that will be equally applicable to other systems.