Combat Patrol(TM) Science Fiction

Dave, Ellen, and Chris early in the game before the carnage unfolded.

Last weekend, my buddy Dave and I drove up to Massachusetts to visit another buddy, Mark (“Ma’k”) for a day of gaming.   Dave, Mark, and I used to game at West Point.  Mark has recently gotten back into gaming, and we used this as a chance to push some lead, swap old war stories, and have fun.   The first game we played was a large Combat Patrol(TM) science fiction game.  Mark used mostly the original WWII rules, but laced it heavily with ideas from the Star Wars supplement and the Japanese morale from the South Pacific supplement.  I think this game shows the flexibility of Combat Patrol(TM) and the ability to include portions of the optional rules and supplements in a “Chinese menu” fashion.  And the game was a lot of fun!

Old classmates in replica “Gym Alpha” uniform shirts from our cadet days. These replica shirts were a little larger than when we originally wore them 30+ years ago.

Mark has been collecting vintage science fiction figures from companies like Archive.  We used a selection of star ducks, something called a Frinx, which is sort of lizard looking, Aphids, which are like frog people, and robots.  My contribution to the game were my Frinx in power armor riding glyptodons and a unit of star ducks painted in primary colored uniforms.

The starting deployment for the good guys. We were trying to restart the captured robot tank to use agains the onslaught of robot men.

In the scenario we, the good guys, had captured a robot sphere tank (an original Ma’k sculpt) and were trying to put it back into operation.  A swarm of mechanical robot men, the bad guys) were attacking to recover the vehicle.  They began with just a bunch of robots, but they were eventually reinforced by two more robot sphere tanks.

Aphids defending a ruined building.

The Aphids are small, and they aren’t very good in hand to hand combat.   Their strength lies in their organic mortars.  The Aphid “platoon” was deployed far forward and made contact with the enemy early while the Frinx and Star Ducks were still advancing to join the fray.

This is a pretty good view of some of Ma’k’s robots.

Mark decided to use the Japanese Action Deck from the South Pacific supplement for the robots.  One of the Japanese morale results is “fight to the last man” in which the Japanese unit may not move for the remainder of the game, but they get to ignore most morale results for the rest of the game as well.  On the first turn, we inflicted a few morale checks on one of Dave’s units of robots, and he received this result.  While good for the Japanese when defending, this was not a good result for attacking robots.  Fortunately for Dave, they were in a position with good fields of fire.

One of two Star Duck mortar teams. We made pretty good use of our mortars throughout the game.
Frinx in power armor riding glyptodons taking grenade fire from chest-mounted robot grenade launchers.

Even with the speed of their prehistoric armadillo mounts, the Frinx cavalry took a while to join the fight.  After taking fire in turn two, half of them turned tail (literally) and ran for cover, and it took Chris a while to rejoin the fight.  Even from a distance, however, their long-range blasters enabled them to engage the enemy.

A Star Duck hero, Lieutenant Ma’k, used his jet pack to leap into the midst of two robot squads. He engaged them with his light saber, even as the Duck mortars were dropping rounds into the melee.

The Star Ducks have jet packs.  Mark allows them to jump three times during a game, drawing three cards from the Action Deck for movement instead of one.  The Duck hero, Lieutenant Ma’k used this ability to get himself into trouble.  He leapt into melee with elements of two squads of robots.  The Star Duck mortars had rounds in the air.  In Combat Patrol, units fire indirect fire when they activate, but the rounds aren’t resolved until the end of the turn.  Despite several rounds of friendly mortar fire, Lieutenant Ma’k fought bravely.  He eventually succumbed to the greater numbers of the nefarious robot bad guys.

My Star Duck anti-tank rocket men caught in the blast of the sphere tank’s heat ray.

About this time the robots received reinforcements in the form of two more squads of robots and two sphere tanks.  The sphere tanks have laser cannons in the sponsons, but their main weapon is a heat ray that looks like the 1960’s War of the Worlds.  My Star Duck anti-tank team was moving forward, but Mark activated before I could fire.  All of my bazooka ducks were incapacitated, except one who was badly wounded, stunned, and having a bad day.  He never got off a shot before the game ended.

Star Ducks close assaulting a sphere tank with satchel charges.

While Chris was knocking out one of the tanks with long-range blaster fire, three of my Star Ducks used their jet packs to get onto another one to try to take it out with satchel charges.  In Combat Patrol(TM) you draw a card from the Action Deck and add the result on the “tend sided die” icon to the weapon’s penetration.  If that is greater than the armor where you hit the vehicle, you penetrate.  Had five attempts to penetrate the tank with satchel charges over two turns, but missed by one point twice and missed by a greater number the other times.  I did manage to immobilize it and knock out the heat ray, but we never did knock out the tank by the end of the game.

At about this time, we called the game.  The siren song of pizza was calling us, and the robots realized that they were no match for the fearsome prowess of our carbon-based duck, Frinx, and Aphid forces.  This was a very fun game, and all the players seemed to have a really good time.  It was interesting to see how Mark’s mashup of different Combat Patrol(TM) options worked.