Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer

Combat Patrol(TM) Commandos

Early in the game, commandos run into a German patrol.

Last night at our club night, Greg and I ran a commando game using Combat Patrol(TM).  We are trying to work up rules for sentries and commandos to put into a free supplement.  For purposes of this supplement, the attacker is referred to as “commando” regardless of nationality.  Bottom line: it worked okay for a first run, but we have some work to do.

The Commandos spotted a roving patrol and the sentries by the guard shack.

This scenario involved British Commandos (Guts: E, Accuracy: E, Melee: 2, Endurance: 3, Reaction: 4) attacking a chateau in France to kill or capture a high-ranking officer.  The Germans (Guts: R, Accuracy: R, Melee: 1, Endurance: 3, Reaction: 3) had two teams (5 figures each) that were in fixed positions, three on roving patrols, and two pairs of sentries in fixed positions.  The Commandos were in six, two-figure teams.  This gave them maximum flexibility, but also made it difficult, when the fur began to fly, to mass fires.  The Commandos also had three “Where’s my card?” counters that they could play if the reshuffle card came up before either card of a given number was drawn from the Activation Deck.  Greg played the Germans and worked off of a small board, so the game was “double blind.”

I let the Commandos enter anywhere they wanted on one of the short table edges.  They had to kill or capture the high-ranking officer and exit off the other short table edge.  The table was roughly five feet by three feet.  I used the spotting rules and night rules from the FREE optional rules supplement.

There German patrol spotted some movement they thought were the enemy in the woods. Because the alert level didn’t allow the Germans to shoot, they moved forward to enter into hand-to-hand combat. The Commandos easily dispatched the first two Germans, but the alert level was raised. The two Commandos activated next, dashed out into the open to engage the rest of the patrol, killing two more. The alert level was raised further, but it still wasn’t high enough to allow the Germans to shoot. The last member of the patrol was killed in hand-to-hand combat as well. At this point, the Commandos had killed one of five German teams, and I was worried the game was going to be lopsided.

The driving mechanic of the Commando games is the notion of an alert level (AL), which started and 1 and could go up or down based on different events.  The table was divided into a 3×5 grid.  When the AL reaches certain thresholds, the Germans are allowed to take different actions.  For instance, when the AL reached 5, the sentries were allowed to be more active.  At 10, the fixed German units were released to move toward “sounds.”  At 15, the Germans could begin for fire.  At 20, the German reinforcements would arrive.  On the drive home, I also thought that at 30, the Germans could kill the prisoner.  These thresholds are set before the game, but they can be different from game to game.

If Commandos and Germans were in adjacent zones, the AL increased by 1.  If they were in the same zone, the AL increased by 2.  Until the AL reached 10, the Commandos used a modification to the normal melee procedure.  The Commandos couldn’t apply the HtH modifier for their weapon unless they decided to fire during the melee, which would increase the AL.  If the Commandos lost a hand-to-hand, the German player drew a card from the Action Deck to determine if the Commando was wounded or incapacitated like normal.  In either case, the AL increased by 1.  If the Commando won the melee, he too drew card from the Action Deck to determine the result.  If the German was incapacitated, the AL remained the same.  If the German was wounded, he was incapacitated anyway, but the AL increased by 1.  Also, if the hand-to-hand occurred within sight of another German who wasn’t incapacitated during the same activation, the AL increased by 1.  The first three times that small arms fire occurred, regardless of who fired, the AL increased by 2.  In subsequent activations, if the Commandos fired their weapons, the AL increased by 1.

Two Commandos got across the open, spotted the Germans in the chateau, and ducked for cover in the small courtyard. Unfortunately, by that time the AL was high enough that one of the patrols began moving toward the activity and spotted the Commands. The German patrol activated before the Commandos could melt back into the darkness, and the Germans wiped out the pair.

To encourage the Commandos to exercise some stealth, on turns in which none of the Commandos were spotted, the AL decreased by 1.  There was a point after the first German patrol was killed that the Commandos might have concealed themselves back into the woods, but they unluckily ran into a patch of woods occupied by a fixed German unit.  So, instead of decreasing the AL, a melee occurred, which eventually drove the AL to a level that allowed the Germans to begin shooting.  After this point, the German combat power continued to increase as more and more units arrived and more shooting occurred.  Eventually, the AL got high enough that a nearby Pz. 38(t)  arrived on the scene.

Another German patrol heads to the sound of the guns.

A high point for the Commandos came when the 38(t) moved into the courtyard of the chateau.  One of Duncan’s Commandos was caught in the open.  This is the one we dubbed “Mac the Knife” from all the Germans he had incapacitated in hand-to-hand combat.   All of the Commandos was equipped with a satchel charge.  Mac the Knife assaulted the tank, got a penetrating hit, and brewed up the tank.  This of course increased the alert level, but was a major morale boost for the Commando players who were watching their forces get attritted.  The smoke from the burning tank also provided some concealment for the Commandos from the Germans in the upper rooms of the chateau.

Mac the Knife takes out the German tank with a satchel charge.

We played a few more turns, but the Commandos just didn’t have enough men left to even get to the high-ranking officer.  The Germans began the game with 30 figure and ended with 10.  The Commands began the game with 12 figures and ended with 2.  This was a first play test of a scenario that has so much randomness that it is probably impossible to completely balance, but this particular instance hinged on the Commandos unluckily running into the German patrol early on turn 2.  I the patrol had moved in the opposite direction, if the Commandos had chosen a different entry point, if the Germans had failed to spot, the Commandos might have slipped past, and the game might have been lopsided in their favor.  The AL mechanic seems to work.  The Commands had a good time, despite being defeated.

While Commands were dying in France, Zeb Cook was running a Finland Winter War 1939 game on the other table.  Below are some pictures.  From the whooping and hollering, the game seemed to be a lot of fun, and I really like the look of his table.


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