I returned from holiday in England and then spent a week at work, including the weekend, finishing up a proposal. This weekend was our club night and a comparative play test of some post-apocalyptic rules sets. I didn’t have a chance to start a new project, so I just finished some partially-completed figures that were on my table for almost a month.
The first item was a set of old Archive Miniatures Phrinx riding on Glyptodons. Ma’k Morin used some green stuff to make larger scales toward the bottoms of the shells to hide the mold lines and gaps in the original figures. I think the look is effective. The weapons were a little. One broke off while preparing the figures for painting, so I replaced with with an extra weapon from a Reaper bones set that came with a couple of extra arms.
I found a set of naked Phrinx on Ebay for a reasonable price. These were armed with swords and other fantasy accoutrements, but three had no weapons. Again, I added a couple of extra Reaper weapons.
I picked up this moose at Historicon from Pulp Figures. It goes with their Northland Adventures line. If these weren’t so expensive, I’d be tempted to make a ten-figure cavalry unit for GASLIGHT. Some lancers would look great on these moose!
Ma’k Morin also sent me some barbarian ducks, because I am building up a large duck legion for my games.
Last, but not least — well maybe least — were these three “tool robots.” I think these are from Reaper, but I cannot remember for sure.
Tonight we had fun playing a Poland 1939 Combat Patrol game at our club. The Germans were trying to seize a line of Polish bunkers. The Poles (Don and two newcomers to the club, Nick and Tom) took a lot of casualties but were able to stop the Germans (Zeb, Greg, and Roger) and prevent them from breaching the defensive line.
Don got two early hits on a German SdKfz 222 and a Pz. 38(t), brewing them up. After this, the Germans became much more cautious. A hidden Polish anti-tank rifle bided his time all night and finally got a flank shot on a Pz. II, brewing it up in the last turn. Despite withering casualties on both flanks, the Poles held the line of bunkers and won the game. It turned out to be a good scenario that kept everyone in the game until the end.
Announcing the Release of the South Pacific Supplement for Combat Patrol™: World War II.
Like all the previous supplements for Combat Patrol™, this supplement is FREE to download as a .pdf.
Why a South Pacific Supplement? Fighting in the South Pacific during World War II was unique compared to other theaters, even other parts of the Pacific. This supplement includes rules that represent the unique nature of Japanese morale, Banzai! charges, suicide anti-tank attacks, night infiltration, vehicle-mounted flame throwers, and other rules.
This supplement has been almost a year in development. During that time, several other supplements have been developed and released. These are all free and can be downloaded from the rules’ Web page: http://www.bucksurdu.com/Buck_Surdu/Combat_Patrol.html During development I shared the draft supplement with geographically distributed Combat Patrol™ players to play test the new rules. Feedback has been quite positive. In particular, play testers have commented that both the Banzai! charge rules strike a good balance between effectiveness without overpowering the charge and making the Japanese invincible.
Of these new rules, the most significant are those for Japanese morale. The basic morale rules work very well for other theaters, including China, Burma, and India. In Combat Patrol™ morale failure is represented more as a loss of cohesion than a sudden, unexpected retreat. As units take morale checks, the unit gradually dissolves or stops responding to commands. Japanese morale failure in the South Pacific seems to have been more unit oriented than individual; the unit leader will decide to retreat, take cover, or assault the enemy in response to fire rather than individuals melting into the jungle. The new morale results reflect this.
In Combat Patrol™: World War II, cards in an Action Deck are used by players to resolve shooting, determine movement distance, conduct hand-to-hand combat, and check morale. This eliminates the need for charts and tables. Each player has an Action Deck that he uses to resolve these actions. While each player has his own deck, all decks are the same. The only difference is the color of the card backs between decks so that players can keep their decks separate during game play. Each card has a unique serial number. The South Pacific supplement includes a table that enables players to look up Japanese-specific morale results.
Along with the free supplement, I have also created two new, Japanese-specific Action Decks. The new South Pacific set of cards includes two new Action Decks.
Most of the cards are exactly the same as the other 10 Actions decks that are available for purchase from either DriveThruCards (Set A [http://www.drivethrucards.com/product/158116/Combat-Patrol-Set-A] or Set B[http://www.drivethrucards.com/product/158122/Combat-Patrol-Set-B] are needed to play Combat Patrol™: World War II) or Sally 4th (http://wargamesbuildings.co.uk/Combat-Patrol). Only the morale portion of the cards is different.
While not strictly necessary, players who use these cards will find doing so much easier than using the morale table in the free supplement. For players who want to play Japanese forces in the South Pacific, I highly recommend these new Action Decks.
For more information on how the game works and to see some demonstration videos of the unique, streamlined mechanics of Combat Patrol™: World War II, see the rules’ Web page here: http://www.bucksurdu.com/Buck_Surdu/Combat_Patrol.html
After our visit with Chris Abbey in Rippon, we headed back to Reading to turn in our rental car and head to Heathrow airport. On the way, we stopped at Highclere Castle, the site of the BBC series Downton Abbey. Tom and I were just along for the ride, since neither of us have seen the show. You are not allowed to take photographs inside the castle, but according to Sam and Candy, they recognized a lot of the rooms from the series.
Below are some views of the grounds around Highclere.
As we walked the grounds, Tom was wishing he had brought a frisbee. This was one of our few sunny days in England. For most of the trip it was dreary and rainy.
Sam enjoyed our trip to England. She said she liked the fact that “people don’t talk,” that it is cold, and that it is “old.” Sam is not too chatty in most cases, and she liked the fact that most folks we met were friendly enough but weren’t too chatty themselves. Candy, who likes to tell everyone she meets her whole life history and full vacation itinerary in the first five minutes she meets them, prefers chatty people. Sam said that she would like to live in England for a couple of years (not forever) and do more sight seeing. Tom seemed to enjoy aspects of the trip, but he didn’t like being outside the US. He was happy to visit, but by the end of the trip, he was ready to go home.
While in England, I took the chance to travel to Yorkshire and visit Chris Alley of Sally 4th for a Combat Patrol(TM) game in Rippon. Chris has a really nice games room. We played Combat Patrol(TM), had an excellent dinner with Chris and his wife, and then played some Settlers of Cataan.
Chris is working on terrain and scenarios for “The Other Partizan,” an upcoming wargaming show in the U.K. The game was based on the movie The Wild Geese. Chris has the mercenaries and simbas all painted up, and the African-style buildings will be part of a future Sally 4th Kickstarter. In this scenario I was the wild geese, I had released President Limbarny from prison, and I needed to escape. To accomplish my objective, I needed to secure enough transport to take Limbarny and my team off the table. Limbarny moved as Green because of his reduced physical state, which slowed me down.
The defenders were in several of the buildings, the recreation room, barracks, and guard room. The guards at the gate were awake and active, as were the Simbas in the bottom left of the picture. The sections in the barracks and recreation room each had a morale marker that had to be worked off before they could begin to respond. In the previous play test of this scenario, Chris had the Accuracy of the mercenaries as Elite, and he thought that overpowered the mercenaries. In this play test, my wild geese had an Accuracy of Regular. My Melee was 0 to reflect the fact that the wild geese were somewhat older and not in their prime and that the Simbas, with Melee of 1, were in good shape. The Simbas, however, had Guts of Green for their troopers and Regular for their leaders. This meant that if their leaders were alive, they used the Guts of Regular for activation and movement, but if the leader was killed they would have Guts of Green for activation and movement.
Outside the camp, I had two teams in land rovers coming to reinforce my mercenaries. One land rover contained a bazooka team, and the other a Vickers machine-gun team. As the guards at the gate were active, I elected to halt, dismount the machine-gun, and fire on the gate guards. Tom engaged my land rovers with fire, killing a member of the machine-gun team and wounding another. The bazooka team fired several shots at the gate defenders and also the Simbas in the recreation room. I was very lucky with the bazooka. I never received an out-of-ammunition results, so I was able to fire several shots. Tom reduced my machine-gun team by killing an ammunition bearer and assistant gunner. He even knocked out the assistant gunner for the bazooka, but he never knocked out either team.
I had two sections move toward the truck park while the third section moved President Limbarny to the relative safety of the headquarters building. One section advanced into the barracks and was surprised to run into a section of active and awake Simbas. This is when I learned that my wild geese had a poor Melee attribute. I lost a soldier and was pushed out of the building. The team then spent several turns being gunned down in the open by Tom’s Simbas before they could respond or seek cover. The section near the 55-gallon drums advanced toward the truck park. As they advanced, they were surprised in the open by the Simba motor transport operators. That section also was gunned down in the open before reaching the trucks. My headquarters section that began the game in the headquarters moved to come up behind the Simbas at the gate, but Tom’s marksmanship was just too good. Though this attack diverted the attention of some of the gate guards and those in the towers from my machine-gun and bazooka teams, it was just not enough force to clear a path for the land rovers. By then, Tom and knocked out one of the land rovers with small arms fire. At this point, Chris pointed out that my heavy casualty rate meant that I didn’t need as many trucks to extract what was left of my team!
At this point, we determined that I no longer had enough combat power to accomplish my objectives. It was a convincing Simba victory. Despite Tom’s lopsided victory, it was a fun scenario with lots of interesting decisions for both players. I suggested to Chris before he runs this at Partizan that he might want to give the wild geese a couple of blue cards in the Activation Decks to give them an initiative advantage.
As we set out from the Peak District toward Yorkshire, we stopped at an area that had been an old railroad right of way for a short hike. The viaduct in the left of the picture above and an old railway tunnel were the attractions here.
We began by walking down a path through the woods that took us to a waterfall. We didn’t know about the waterfall when we started our walk, so this was a nice surprise.
After returning to our starting point, we walked in the opposite direction to get down to the viaduct and also walk through the old railway tunnel.
About noon we got on the road for Rippon in Yorkshire to spend the afternoon and evening with Chris and Ann Abbey.
Our next day in England was spent in The Peak District, an area of high hills and picturesque vistas. We stayed in a nice bed and breakfast in Castleton and then headed out on a hike across nearby ridges to Mam Tor and around the area.
For me, a highlight of our family vacation in England was a visit to the tank museum in Bovington. Somewhat off the beaten path Bovington is the armor (armour) school for the British Army and the site of the largest collection of tanks I’ve ever seen — and most of them have been repaired to working order. We modified our agenda to make sure we were in Bovington on a weekday when they perform a tanks-in-action demonstration.
The museum is actually a series of buildings, but we only had time for the main building. We did not go over to the conservation building where they repair tanks to working order.
The displays begin with a depiction of life in the trenches in WWI. This helps motivate the need for the tank to help break the stalemate in the trenches. This section of the museum then depicts the development and evolution of early tanks into the early 1930s. There were several WWI tanks that you could walk into or where sections of armor were replaced by plexiglass windows to enable you to look inside.
This hall was very dark, so many of the pictures are a bit blurry.
After viewing the WWI section, we went outside for the Tanks-in-Action demonstration. They drove four armored vehicles around a track, which included a hill. Each stopped in front of the audience so that the narrator could provide interesting information about each vehicle. The Tanks-in-Action demonstration naturally focused on British vehicles. The same type of demonstration in the US that focused on US vehicles would likely be criticized as jingoistic, because only in the US is it insensitive to highlight our accomplishments.
After showing these three vehicles, they set up a mock battle involving these three fighting insurgents from Ruritania equipped with a Saladin reconnaissance vehicle. The Ferret conducted reconnaissance to find the Ruritanaians and called in artillery, complete with pyrotechnic devices that were a crowd pleaser. Then the Chieftain and FV-234 advanced. Volunteers from the audience de-bussed the FV-234 and assaulted the Saladin, winning the day. It is not considered insensitive in England for the British to root for themselves and to defeat the enemy.
After the tanks-in-action demonstration (and some pasties and cider) we went back into the main building to look at the displays. The hall depicting the evolution of the tank is breathtaking and includes a number of displays I have never seen in person, like the D-Day wading device on a Sherman tank.
Each vehicle on display has a nice plaque next to it that describes the tank and also where this particular example of the tank came from. Some of the vehicles had a very interesting story behind how they came to Bovigton.
There are over 300 tanks at Bovington. It is mind boggling. I couldn’t see everything and read everything if I had two full days there. I MUST go back when I am not pulling the family along.
The US Army made many bad choices over the years regarding the extensive collection of armored vehicles on display at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The collection is now scattered and no longer available to the public. Even in its heyday the APG collection was open to the elements and deteriorating. It was amazing to see such beautiful specimens at Bovington. Some are claimed to be the only known example in the world.
This was a particularly interesting exhibit showing the interior of a tank. The kids were very surprised at how cramped it is inside a tank.
There were a number of simulators set up around the exhibit hall. There were ones for rifles, a Bren gun, and even a PIAT. Sadly the PIAT simulator was out of order, but in these next two pictures you see Sam and Tom firing a simulated Bren. Neither of them “qualified.” Both commented on how hard it is to aim the Bren with the site offset to the side because of the top-mounted magazine.
There are over 300 vehicles at Bovington. This does not include all there other items on display like anti-tank weapons, comparisons of barrel lengths, tank crew equipment, etc. While the story of the tank hall tells a story of the evolution of the tank, the largest hall is just filled with row after row of vehicles and other displays. It is amazing!
Bovington was the only item on my must-see list for this trip to England. I am very glad we went. All the items on display are extremely well maintained. Every vehicle has informative plaques. Many still run. Everything is under cover. It is tremendous museum. I need to try to talk a couple of my gaming buddies into coming here in June next year for Tank Days, when many of the vehicles are driven around and members of the public get a chance to get into some of the vehicles and drive them. I have driven modern US armored vehicles, like the M-1 Abrams and M-2 Bradley, but I would love to drive one or two of the historic tanks.
Despite starting the day at a QuikFit to replace the tire on our rental car, a harrowing drive through goat paths led by our GPS and dodging a farm tractor, and a need to depart Bovington early enough to arrive in the Peak District before dark, I had a great time at Bovington and NEED to return for another visit.
We were sort of warned NOT to go to Warwick castle. It sounded like it had a Renaissance fair vibe to it, with activities for small kids, etc. Since we have often enjoyed Renaissance fairs, we decided to give it a go.
Docents provided interesting historical tours within the castle itself, which has been restored. The Duke of Warwick during the Wars of the Roses changed sides, making him the “kingmaker.” The castle tour, another multi-media presentation in one of the castles’ towers, and the narration and storyline for the jousting show all provided a brief history of the the Wars of the Roses.
The jousting show was quite good. It involved knights on horseback, dismounted combat, and even longbowmen. The show followed a narrative that provided a thumbnail history of the Wars of the Roses. Both at our Mediaeval feast in London and at Warwick castle seemed much more intense and realistic than similar shows we’ve seen at places like the Renaissance fair and Mediaeval Times. They were quite good.
The castle is pretty much intact. We were able to wander the battlements. Many of the towers included displays and shows. This was not a plaster and chicken wire imitation!
After several hours at Warwick castle we bid farewell to the town of Warwick and headed for the South of England to be in position to see Bovington Tank Museum the next day.
We took a guided tour of the Cotswolds, a picturesque area of England that is one of the top Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the world. The tour met us at the Morten-in-Marsh train station and took us to morning coffee at Secret Cottage, then around parts of the northeastern Cotswolds, back to Secret Cottage for lunch, more touring, and finally tea at Secret Cottage.
After another harrowing drive from Swindon, we arrived at Morten-in-Marsh with almost an hour to spare. While Tom and Sam slept in our car, Candy and took a short walk around the town.
The English seem to be able to have a manicured garden (yard) that also looks natural. It’s an art.
Below are some views of byways and towns within the Cotswolds. The Secret Cottage tour took us to places where the large motor coaches do not go.
Claire, our tour guide, had lived in the US for five years with her husband, who was in the Royal Navy. She is also the etiquette lady in a talking portrait in the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios.
It was interesting to see how the owners of this house had trained their pair trees to grow along the walls.
In this town, there were no pubs allowed by the lord of the manor, so this enterprising person brewed beer that the farm workers would buy on their way home from work.
We finished the day by driving to the town of Hasely, near Warwick castle and walked around to see a church and manor house. The nearby pub was booked for the night, so we drove into the town of Warwick to have fish and chips at the Chip Shed. They were very, very good.
Our rooms were the old coach house and stables. The proprietor was very nice. We recommend this bed and breakfast establishment.