Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • Combat Patrol(TM) South Pacific Battle Report

    Posted By on July 30, 2017

    The game begins with the Americans deciding to shift their forces and mass on their left.

    Last night at our club, I ran a Combat Patrol(TM): WWII South Pacific game using the rules from the soon-to-be-released supplement.  It was a chance for a final play test of some of the rules before the release of the supplement in a couple of weeks.  In particular, I wanted to test the vehicle-mounted flamethrower rules.

    In this scenario, the Japanese held a string of bunkers in a jungle area.  A U.S. Army platoon with a man-pack flamethrower and a Stuart flamethrower tank attacked to seize as many of the three bunkers as possible.  The Japanese had a slightly under-strength platoon with an attached anti-tank gun and a medium machine-gun.  They also occupied three bunkers and two sand-bagged emplacements.

    Seeing that the Americans were shifting, a team of Japanese advances to outflank the American attack.

    The Americans wisely decided that they should mass on one flank or the other, rather than attacking on a broad front.  This left the Japanese anti-tank gun with few targets during the game.  They might have gotten off a shot later in the game as the Americans advanced across the open area, but by then the Stuart had been knocked out.

    After a bit of a slow movement, the Americans reached the edge of the jungle and prepared to advance across the open ground to the Japanese bunkers.

    The Americans reached the edge of the jungle and were preparing to dash across an open area toward one of the Japanese positions.  The first unit at the edge of the wood line was an American .30 cal machine-gun team, but before they could get it set up, they began taking effective fire from Japanese infantrymen in their right-most bunker.

    The American machine-gun team was knocked out by rifle fire from one of the Japanese bunkers.

    A bunker at the edge of the jungle. I don't have any log bunkers yet, so I had to use these ETO-looking ones.

    Seeing that they were being flanked, another Japanese team advanced from their original positions into a small jungle area in the middle of the table.

    A Japanese team advances to interfere with the American attack. The sandbagged position protects the Japanese medium machine-gun team.

    At this point the Stuart reached the edge of the wood line and fired on the Japanese machine-gun team in the sandbagged position.  This was extreme range for the flamethrower.  Two members of the machine-gun crew were killed in this attack.

    The Japanese infantry team that advanced in the previous picture was equipped with a lunge mine.  The South Pacific supplement includes a rule for Japanese suicide anti-tank attacks.  The soldier with the lunge mine and another solider charged out and attacked the Stuart.  The attack was successful.  The player drew a card to determine where the tank was hit (the side of the hull) and the amount of penetration.  Receiving a penetrating hit, the Japanese drew one more card to determine if the vehicle brewed up.  It did.  So after just one shot, the flame thrower tank was knocked out.  Because this was an intentional suicide anti-tank attack, the Japanese figure became incapacitated immediately, but his unit did not accrue a morale marker.

    The Stuart is knocked out by a lunge-mine suicide attack.

    As the flamethrower tank was their most important weapon for reducing the Japanese-held bunkers, things began to look grim for the Americans.  Fortunately they still had a man-packed flamethrower and some hand grenades.

    Teams of American infantry advance.

    The Japanese in the right-most bunker with the roof removed. This was the focus of the American assault.

    The center of the table became a fur ball.

    The remaining member of the machine-gun team fired a few shot before running out of ammunition.  Although the Stuart was knocked out early, the fact that it suppressed the machine-gun team enabled the Americans to cross the open area with few casualties.  The remaining member of the machine-gun team put up a good fight for a couple of activations, but eventually the Americans incapacitated him and moved past this position to get behind a Japanese bunker.

    A closeup look at two Japanese in a small sand-bagged emplacement

    About this time the Japanese realized they were out of position and needed to close with the Americans to slow their advance and keep them away from the bunkers.  They declared a Banzai charge.  In Combat Patrol(TM), there is a nice balance in Banzai charges so that they are interesting and effective without being too powerful.  Once the charge begins, the Japanese draw two action cards for movement rather than one, giving them much greater speed; however, they do not receive any benefit of cover.  The charge continues until a card is drawn from the Activation deck ending it.  This could occur in the next turn or several turns later.  The Japanese accrue morale markers, but they do not resolve them until the Banzai charge ends.  In this game, the card ending the charge was drawn as the first card of the next turn, ending the charge earlier than expected.  Still, it had the desired effect:  the Japanese had closed with the Americans and slowed their advance on the bunkers.

    In the meantime, the man-packed flamethrower advanced on the rightmost Japanese bunker, but when his team was taken under small arms fire, the operator was incapacitated.  The Americans then made an attempt to drop a grenade into the bunker, but failed.

    After overrunning the Japanese machine gunner, the Americans swarmed past this position and prepared to get behind two of the enemy bunkers.

    At this point it was getting late, and the American attack had been spent.  I declared the game a Japanese victory.  It was a very fun scenario, and all agreed we need to try it again soon.

    Air Ship for Pulp and VSF Games

    Posted By on July 28, 2017

    A long shot of the zeppelin

    Some months ago I succumbed to the lure of this really cool MDF air ship kit.  I have been staring at the stack of MDF, cardboard, and other bits for months.  Finally last weekend my daughter and I began to assemble it.  During the week we began to paint the various sub assemblies.  While I was gone for two days on business she completed the final assembly.  Storage problems aside, this is a very nice kit and will make for some very fun Pulp and VSF games.

    A view of the bridge through the front wind screen

    I staged a bunch of my Pulp figures on the air ship to shoot some photos.

    The action toward the bow of the airship

    The airship kit was from Rusti at Crossover Miniatures:  http://crossoverminiatures.com

    A slightly longer shot from the bow

    This airship is in five sections: the bow, a passenger section, a cargo section, a stern section, and cone to finish the stern.

    The bridge from inside the airship

     

    She Wolves charge across a gangway

    A view into the cargo area from the stern

    Cub Scouts defend the stern of the airship

    You can see some alligator clips holding sections together.  The kit comes with mount points for magnets.  I have to purchase some and glue them to the ship, but for now, I’m using alligator clips.

    German zeppelin troopers advance into the passenger area

    Bad guys involved in nefarious activities in the dining room

    The state rooms

    American rocket troops defend the airship from Germans on pterodactyls

    The clear plastic disks to suggest a spinning propeller came with the kit

    A final look

    I think this will make a great centerpiece for a series of Pulp or VSF games.

    My daughter did a terrific job with final assembly.  I am anxious to get it into a game soon.

    The Retreat from Moscow

    Posted By on July 25, 2017

    I have been working for over a month to complete a batch of Retreat from Moscow figures.  These were a Christmas present two Christmases ago.  They took a very long time to paint, because each one was a different, so I couldn’t really paint them by assembly line.  I think they came out nicely.  What do you think?

    The figure of New in the center foreground was a free giveaway figure at Historicon some years back.

    We should see these in a Combat Patrol(TM) Napoleonic game soon…

    I created the snow effect by covering the bases with a coarse medium gel.

    I coated the bases with this coarse pumice gel, which dried in a gray color.

    This is what the bases looked like after the coarse pumice medium gel was applied.

    Once the gel dried, I then dry brushed the bases with white and applied some winter grass tufts.

    Downed Plane

    Posted By on July 25, 2017

    A downed pilot captured by two members of the Home Guard

    I recently completed building a downed German fighter plane for a WWII skirmish game.  The plane was a cheap ($13) snap together kit meant for kids, but it was 1:48 scale.  The crew and the Home Guardsmen are Foundry.

    A view of the wrecked plane, including the wings that have ripped off.

    Rather than a single, large base, I decided to make the plan on three smaller bases.

    Combat Patrol(TM) South Pacific Supplement is Almost Done!

    Posted By on July 19, 2017

    I completed the South Pacific master cards today. These are for the South Pacific supplement to Combat Patrol(TM). I have sent them to DriveThru to do their magic to make the cards ready to print. At that time, I’ll send the revised masters to Sally 4th to get ready to print them in the UK. Soon afterward players will be able to purchase the cards from either DriveThru or Sally 4th. I have one more item to play test in the South Pacific supplement, vehicle-mounted flame throwers, and then it will be ready to go.
    Why is there another set of cards? The vast majority of the rules are unchanged. There are a few new items in the free supplement, like Banzai charges, infiltration tactics, incapacitated Japanese lying on armed grenades, and die-in-place missions. This supplement is for the South Pacific, which had a very different tenor than other parts of the Pacific. One thing that came out in play testing is that the normal morale rules don’t seem very “Japanese.” These new decks have more unit-level morale results and fewer individual-level results. In play tests people felt that the new morale results seemed to represent Japanese behavior better.
    There is a table in the supplement that can be used to cross index the card serial number from the 10 original Action Decks to find the Japanese morale result. I figured that people would get tired of that after a while, so there will be two new Action Decks just for Japanese units. You don’t NEED the new decks, but they will make life better if you play games set in the South Pacific. So the decks are finally done and ready to go to print. That should happen before the end of the month.

    Award Winning HAWKs at Historicon 2017

    Posted By on July 18, 2017

    Geoff, Chris, Don, and Eric, HAWKs who won awards at Historicon 2017

    We had four HAWKs win awards at Historicon 2017.  Geoff won an award for this Lego pirate game for kids.  Chris Johnson won an award for his American Civil War game for kids.  Don won an award for his Battleground WWII game on our French village table.  Eric won an award for his American Civil War game for kids.

    Congratulations!

    Combat Patrol Games Run at Historicon 2017

    Posted By on July 17, 2017

    There were several Combat Patrol(TM) games run at Historicon 2017.

    French vs. Italians 1940

    The first was a Thursday game run by Eric Schlegel set in southern France in 1940.  It involved the Italians attacking the French.  I only managed to get one poor picture of this game.  You can see that the Italians had to advance across open ground to get to the French positions or slog through the woods.  Despite some success on the Italian right flank, the game was judge a French victory.

    Italians attack French positions in 1940.

    The Bocage

    I then ran two bocage games on Friday.  Don and I set up the bocage table and then ran three games on it.  I ran Combat Patrol(TM) in the morning and evening.  In the afternoon Don used to table to run a game using “brand X” rules (Battleground WWII).  In both of my scenarios the Germans were allowed hidden setup, and the Americans were tasked to clear the road.  Unfortunately I was busy running the game and didn’t remember to take very many pictures.  The ones I have don’t tell a coherent narrative, but you can at least see some eye candy.

    An American halftrack has a bad day.

    Germans along a hedge row managed to knock out one or two American vehicles and withstand some infantry close assaults.

    After the first scenario, every US vehicle had been knocked out, and the Germans had taken few casualties, so it was a decisive German victory.

    Don's "brand X" game on the bocage table. This is the only long shot I took of the table that he and I used all day.

    American halftracks advancing during the second running of this scenario. The Pz II survived to the end of the game despite a jammed turret and repeated infantry close assaults. The Americans attacking the Pz II had no anti-tank weapons, so they were forced to try to throw grenades in the hatches, which is tricky business.

    A longer shot of the American advance

    The Sherman advances and the Pz. II drops back under close assault from American infantry.

    The first running of this scenario was a decisive victory for the Germans.  The Americans attacked across a wide front, weren’t very aggressive, and never were able to mass on a decisive point.  The second instance was much closer.  The Americans massed on the German right flank and enjoyed initial success.  Then they got bogged down fighting for the farm house in the center of the table rather than bypassing it.  The game was a marginal German victory.

    Action around Pomme du Terre

    We then set up a French village, called Pomme du Terre, and ran four games on it to amortize the effort of laying out all the buildings.  We ran three Combat Patrol(TM) games on the terrain and one with “brand X.”

    The town of Pomme du Terre being set up for four scenarios. The town is almost exclusively Crescent Root buildings with a Sally 4th corner cafe and flagstone road, and Battlefield Terrain Concepts trees.

    Another view of the town

    1918

    Duncan used the town for Germans vs. Americans in 1918.  I was running one of the bocage games while this game was going on, so I only snapped two quick pictures.  Apparently the American platoon was pretty badly shot up trying to take the town from the Germans.

    In these pictures you can see that Duncan uses flat disks from Fantasy Flight Games to mark morale checks.  You can also see that Duncan printed unit cards with colored circles on them.  These circles corresponded to colors on the figures’ bases and made it easier for players to figure out which troops were theirs when the fighting got close.

    1940

    Saturday morning I ran a German assault to capture Pomme du Terre from the French in 1940.  The French were supported by an AT gun and three FT-17s, only one of which was equipped with a gun rather than a machine-gun.  There Germans were supported by two Pz. II’s

    German infantry advances to the outskirts of the town.

    Advancing German armored support

    Close cooperation between German armor and infantry. In this picture you can see the command dice on the units that are used in the Double Random (TM) activation mechanic used in Combat Patrol (TM).

    The Germans advanced steadily through the town but then got bogged down trying to clear the town square.  Had they advanced around either flank, rather than right up the middle, they might have gotten to the French AT gun and cleared the road.  The result was a French victory.  All the players seemed to really enjoy themselves.

    1944

    My second game in Pomme du Terre was an American attack on the town.  It was more of a meeting engagement as the Germans weren’t prepositioned in the town, but the onus remained with the attacker to clear the road.  The Germans had a Panzergrenadier platoon with halftracks, two Pz. IV’s and a Marder.  The Americans had an armored infantry platoon with halftracks, a Sherman, an M-10, and a Stuart.  The Americans had a bazooka as well as several captured Panzerfausts.  The forces were of roughly equal size.

    The Sherman advances

    The Germans lost a Pz IV early in the game from a shot from the M-10.  The Marder was knocked out by a long-range bazooka shot.  On the other side of the table, the Germans got THREE shots off at the Sherman but rolled very poorly and didn’t knock it out.  They did damage the main gun, turning it into a mobile machine-gun platform.  The Americans handled their vehicles aggressively.  The combination of the Sherman, M-10, and Stuart kept the remaining German Pz. IV busy but didn’t knock it out by the time the game ended.

    Marder knocked out by a long-range bazooka shot

    Both the American and German infantry advanced into the town and got into close quarters combat in and around the town square.  Despite heavy casualties, neither side managed to get a clear upper hand.

    The Sturt and a halftrack advance through the town

    A funny moment came when, after the left-flank Pz. IV was knocked out, an American halftrack dashed around the flank, dodging Panzerfaust shots, and circled behind the Germans.  Big surprise for Herman as their infantry started taking fire from three directions.

    Though the Germans didn’t knock out any US vehicles, they did knock out the 75mm gun not he Sherman.  The objective was for the Americans to control the road through town.  They didn’t manage to do this by the time the game ended, so we called it a marginal German victory.

    We had one player who struggled to get his head around the card mechanics of Combat Patrol(TM) and another who wanted to argue the ratings of guns and armor for some of the vehicles, but otherwise the weekend was a big success.  Many new players had a chance to try Combat Patrol(TM), and several went down and bought copies from the dealer hall — or at least said they did.   I also had quite a few players who came back from either previous conventions or from previous games this weekend.  Every one of my games was completely full, and I even added a couple of extra players who really wanted to try the rules.

     

    HAWKs run Games for Kids at Historicon

    Posted By on July 16, 2017

    As usual, the Harford Area Weekly Kriegspielsers ran several games focusing on kids at Historicon.  Below is a quick rundown on some of them.

    Navies for Kids Giveaway

    Buck Surdu ran a game in which a group of kids were given a box full of boats and other materials.  They then chose sales for a stack of patterns and colored them.  Then we helped them hot glue the sails to the masts.  With a set of rules designed for this game, we ran a naval action pitting side A against side B.  When the game was over, the kids took hope their two decorated boats, two more the assemble, rules, dice, measuring sticks, a sea cloth, and everything they would need to run the game at home for their buddies.

    Some of the kids inspecting their supplies

    Decorating sails

    Getting help to hot glue the sails to their masts

    Waiting patiently

    The game in full swing

    The kids and their loot

    Armies for Kids Giveaway

    We worked all year through a series of club painting days and other events to build six complete sets of armies (one French and one Prussian) for a 15mm Franco-Prussian War giveaway.  As in previous years, the kids played the game and then each went home with a French Army, a Prussian Army, terrain, dice, tape measures, and a ground cloth.

    Some of the kids playing the FPW game

    Another view of the game in progress

    Duncan puts a set of figures back together after the game.

    Putting sets together to hand out to the kids.

    Santa Duncan hands out loot

    Duncan and the six lucky kids

    Chris Johnson’s Award-Winning ACW Kids’ Game

    Chris was presented an award from the convention staff for this kids’ game.

    Eric Schlegel’s Award-Winning ACW Kid’s Game

    Duncan Adams’ Lionheart Game for Kids

    Geoff Graff’s Award-Winning Lego Pirate Game for Kids

    This has been a perennial favorite in the HAWKs rooms for many years.  Geoff never fails to keep the kids entertained and engaged!

    The game gets under way.

    You can tell that Geoff enjoys these games as much as the kids

    A boat full of Lego pirates. The ship comes apart to reveal the lower decks.

     

    The answer to my question, "Who had fun?"

    A happy Geoff and some happy kids -- or maybe that's redundant...

     

    Operation Sea Lion with Combat Patrol(TM): WWII

    Posted By on July 12, 2017

    Chris Abbey at Sally 4th just published a very nice battle report on a Sea Lion game he ran with Combat Patrol from the Bolt Action scenario book.  See the details here.

    More information about the rules can be found on Sally 4th’s page or the rules’ Web page.

    Combat Patrol Cards for Band of Brothers Starter Set

    Posted By on July 7, 2017

    Greg, one of the guys in our gaming group, suggested that I create a set of cards for the units in this starter set.  Warlord released the starter set along with Bolt Action 2.  It appears that a number of Bolt Acton players have been attracted to Combat Patrol.  I created a set of unit cards for the units that come in this set.  You can download them from the Combat Patrol Web page, print them, cut them out, and use them to try Combat Patrol. Scroll down to the free stuff toward the bottom of the page.   Enjoy!