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!
  • Second Philippines Game at Cold Wars

    Posted By on March 20, 2018

    Americans planning their defense before the game began

    I used the same table for my second Philippines 1941 Combat Patrol(TM) game at Cold Wars 2018.  The scenario was the same as the first game.  The Japanese were attacking, and the Americans were trying to stop their advance.  The Japanese victory conditions were based on the number of figures they could get across the road.

    Japanese preparing their attack just before we started the game

    This game featured the most successful Banzai charge I have seen in Combat Patrol(TM).  There have been bigger ones, longer ones, and more costly ones, but this was probably the most effective.  The way Banzai charges work in Combat Patrol is that before the turn begins, the Japanese player must declare the charge and choose the units that will participate.  Then when the first unit’s card is drawn, the command dice of all the units in the charge are changed to that number, and the charge begins.  All charging units move with two cards, not one.  They get a +1 in melee.  They also get no cover benefit.  A “game master” card is shuffled into the Activation Deck on the next turn.  When this card is drawn, which may take several turns if the “reshuffle card keeps appearing first,” the attack is over, and all participating Japanese are stunned.  All accrued morale checks are immediately resolved.

    American infantry withdrawing to their last line of defense

    In this case, there were just two Japanese teams in the charge.  One ended the charge in the road in front of the two American water-cooled machine-guns.  During the morale check, the Japanese team first recovered all stun markers and then conducted another Banzai charge, which overran both American machine-guns.  The American line was broken; however, the game was an American victory.  When time ran out, the Japanese were ready to cross the road on both flanks, but at the end of the game, there were only two Japanese figures across the road.

    The game was quite fun, and I think that all the players had a good time.

    Hold as Long as Possible at Cold Wars 2018

    Posted By on March 19, 2018

    A long shot of the table

    At Cold Wars 2018 I ran two Combat Patrol(TM): WWII games set in the Philippines in 1941.  The Japanese were advancing toward Bataan, and an understrength platoon of Americans had to try to stop them.  As you can see from the map, the Japanese had to advance across a stream and the Americans were scattered around a small village.  The stream could be crossed by infantry, but vehicles could only cross at the ford.  The map is all jungle except the clearing around the town (marked by lichen) and the peaches of felt.  Visibility in the jungle is only four inches, and movement is halved.  This made it slow going for the Japanese and hard to concentrate any firepower for the Americans.  To defend the town, the Americans had an M-3 stuart and an anti-tank gun.

    The scenario just prior to the game starting

    It is very difficult to find early war American infantry.  I used the Americans with tin helmets from Pulp Figures.

    A lone team of Americans advances against two tanks and a squad of Japanese infantry

    A forward deployed team of Americans advanced to engage two Japanese tanks and a squad of Japanese infantry.  The Americans didn’t fare well, but they slowed the Japanese advance for a couple of turns.

    The American line of defense

    Advancing Japanese

    The Japanese advanced steadily on their left flan.  After destroying the American team in the center, the Japanese advanced into the village to engage the Americans.  The huts provided very little cover, but as the Japanese advanced into the clearing the Americans finally had enemy in their fields of fire.

    The battle begins to heat up in the village

    Americans taking up positions in the rocky outcropping

    This rock was a deceptive piece of terrain.  It seemed like a good defensive position, but the jungle limited the field of fire, and it could be easily bypassed.

    Japanese infantry and a tank advance through the village. Note the nurses hiding behind the hut

    In Combat Patrol(TM): WWII when figures are wounded or incapacitated, the unit’s leader acquires a morale marker.  When a unit next activates, it must first make a morale check for each marker it had accrued.  A funny moment came during one of these morale checks.  The platoon headquarters had to make a morale check.  The four Army nurses were attached to the platoon headquarters.  One of the morale results had the platoon leader and two nurses charge into melee with the Japanese.  The Japanese had a better morale number, so this didn’t work well.  The Japanese killed both nurses and the platoon leader.  As a result of losing the platoon leader, all of the American units became pinned.

    American infantry and anti-tank gun lined up on the road to stop the Japanese advance

    Chris Palmer took over control of the Stuart tank midway through the game.  Chris got several shots at the Japanese tank, but he missed every shot.  Between the Americans being pinned and both Japanese tanks closing on the road, we called the game a Japanese victory.


    A Lilly Pad Too Far

    Posted By on March 19, 2018

    A long shot of the table

    At Cold Wars 2018 in Lancaster, PA, last weekend, Chris Palmer and I ran a GASLIGHT game involving giant anthropomorphic frogs.  We haven’t had the frogs on the table in a couple of years.

    Early in the game as the North Americans begin to deploy from their line of march

    The game was pretty fun.  The scenario is from The GASLIGHT Compendium.  The North American frogs are part of the advance guard for a frog column.  The South American frogs are trying to cut off their line of march.

    South American frogs advance to engage the North Americans

    The North American frogs quickly deployed from their march formation to engage the South Americans.

    South American light cavalry advancing

    The South American frogs advanced on both flanks, enjoying success in both attacks.

    Chaos in the center as various bands slug it out

    The North American right flank held on and began to advance, but the dragon flies moved to a blocking position and determined to hold their portion of the road.

    A view along the North American line of march. The North Americans needed to hold open this road

    North American light cavalry defeat some of the South American dragon flies

    South American frog heavy cavalry and dragonflies fight the North American light cavalry mounted on geckos

    The South Americans were crushing the North American left flank, preparing to cut the road.  They also had the dragon flies across the road.  At that point, we called the game a South American victory.

    Greg Priebe’s Star Wars Combat Patrol(TM) Games at Cold Wars 2018

    Posted By on March 19, 2018

    A long shot of Greg’s Star Wars game using Combat Patrol(TM): WWII with the free Star Wars supplement

    Greg Priebe ran two Star Wars games using Combat Patrol(TM) at Cold Wars 2018 last weekend.  He ran this scenario twice.  On several occasions the shouting from the table was deafening.  One time was when the rebels killed Darth Vader.

    Stormtroopers advancing to attack the Rebels at the supply dump

    The scenario involved a group of Rebels, including Kanan and Ezra, who had come to this planet to steal Imperial supplies.  Unfortunately for them, it was a trap set by the Empire.  Stormtroopers, including Darth Vader, attacked from the two narrow sides of the table, and the Rebels had to try to escape.

    Rebels taking up hasty positions in the supply dump

    If the terrain looks familiar, it is because we used this table for five games during the weekend.  Don used it for a WWII game between the Japanese and Americans on an island in the Pacific.  I used it for two games set in 1941 with the Japanese attacking Americans.  Greg used it twice for his Star Wars games.  We varied the terrain slightly from game to game, but using the same basic table for several scenarios really helps ease the transition times between games and takes some stress off the GMs.

    Zeb Cook’s Finland 1939 Combat Patrol(TM) WWII Game at Cold Wars 2018

    Posted By on March 19, 2018

    Advancing toward the frozen river, I ran into some hidden Finns.

    Last weekend was Cold Wars 2018 in Lancaster, PA.  Zeb Cook ran at Finland 1939 game using Combat Patrol(TM): WWII.  He was short a couple of players, so I was able to play in this game.  I had a terrific time.  It was a hard scenario for the Russians.  We had to advance across the table.

    The fighting heats up!

    We (Russians) enjoyed some initial success on my (left) flank.  I was advancing toward the frozen river with my squad, and then I ran into a hidden squads of Finns who ambushed me.  I passed my morale checks, fired with some of my men, and then charged into hand-to-hand combat.  By the end of the game, this Finnish squad was down to two wounded figures who had gotten away and crossed the river at the bridge.

    After a couple of turns, the Finns were down to four men in this squad.  Only two eventually made it across the bridge.

    Another view

    I eventually made it across the river and into this copse. It was a little too late. I was in a position to flank the main Finnish position on the ridge (to the left of the picture), but their reinforcements were arriving.

    At this point, though I had crossed the stream and occupied the clump of trees, it was clear we were not going to get an intact squad off the far end of the table.   It was a very good game, and a tight scenario.  The special rules in the free Winter War supplement really added period flavor to the game.

    Zeb’s Combat Patrol(tm) Wild West Game at Cold Wars 2018

    Posted By on March 19, 2018

    Zeb Cook’s cowboy game using Combat Patrol(TM)

    Zeb Cook ran a zany and exciting cowboy game using the Combat Patrol(TM) Wild West supplement.  There was a lot of hottin’ and hollerin’ from that table.  I was busying running another game, so I didn’t get to participate.  It looked like a great game.  I have played some of his other Combat Patrol(TM) wild west games, and they were all very fun!

    The streets are strangely quiet

    The action begins to heat up

    Renovated Rooms at the Lancaster Host

    Posted By on March 16, 2018

    For the HMGS East conventions held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I have been staying across the street from the Lancaster Host at the Continental for the past several years.  The rooms at the Host had gotten progressively worse, and the Continental provides a really  nice breakfast.  The Continental has closed for renovations for Cold Wars and Historicon, so I booked a room at the Host this year.  As may know, the Host is under new ownership (Windham) and is undergoing massive renovations.  Despite the Host being overbooked, I had the good fortune of being assigned one of the newly renovated rooms.  I do a LOT of travel for work, staying at hotels of different brands and levels.  The newly renovated rooms at the Host are as nice as any I have stayed at in the past couple of years. Everything is clean and new.  The fixtures, heat, etc. all work.  The Internet is solid.  (Since I had to do three hours of work from my hotel room, this was important to me.)  The staff was friendly and helpful.  In summary, I think the somewhat elevated room rates promised after the renovations are reasonable given the new quality of the rooms.

    Combat Patrol (TM) at Cold Wars 2018

    Posted By on March 11, 2018

    F: 215: Hold as Long as Possible (1)

    Friday, 9:00 AM, 4 hrs, Players: 6
    GM: Buck Surdu & HAWKS
    Sponsor: None, Prize: None
    Period: World War II, Scale: 28mm, Rules: Combat Patrol(TM): WWII. ItisthePhilippinesinearly1942. The Americans are retreating slowly toward Bataan. A platoon of infantry, along with a handful of Stuart tanks, must delay the Japanese as long as possible, and they make a stand around a small Filipino village. The Japanese attack with a combination of infantry and light tanks. Mayhem ensures. The streamlined mechanics of Combat Patrol(TM) allow players to fight the game, no the rules. Rules will be taught, so come and see what the Combat Patrol(TM) excitement is all about.

    F: 199: Assault on Kollaa

    Friday, 7:00 PM, 4 hrs, Players: 8
    GM: David Cook & HAWKS
    Sponsor: None, Prize: None
    Period: World War II, Scale: 28mm, Rules: Combat Patrol w/ Winter War supplement

    Finland, 1939. The Soviet 56th Rifle Division north of Lake Lagoda is ordered to push west and outflank the Mannerheim Line. Reeling from the attacks the Finns fall back to make their stand on the Kollaa River. Regiment JR-54 is tasked with holding at all costs. In this skirmish game, can the greatly outnumbered Finns hold back an onslaught of Russian forces or will superior Russian numbers be able to break through?

    F: 391: Battle at Duivelskloof

    Friday, 7:00 PM, 4 hrs, Players: 6
    GM: David Wood & HAWKS
    Sponsor: None, Prize: None
    Period: Colonial, Scale: 25mm, Rules: Combat Patrol
    Captain Hunt was killed on the raid on the Viljoen farm, and this lead to Lt. Harry “The Breaker” Morant taking out revenge on the Boers, and which lead to his execution.Will the captain be successful this time?


    F: 394: The Rebs Come to Schlegel’s Ferry

    Friday,7:00PM,3 hrs,Players:6 GM: Eric Schlegel & HAWKS

    Sponsor: None, Prize: None
    Period: American Civil War, Scale: 25mm, Rules: Combat Patrol July1864. An off shoot of Early’s raid on Washington has reached Harford County and the Rebs are looking for supplies and attempting to burn Union facilities. Local militia and a few Federal units are moving in to the area to stop them. Thisisthe2ndof5 linked scenarios involving the citizens of Schlegel’s Ferry.


    F: 402: Combat Patrol TM – Star Wars

    Friday,7:00PM,3 hrs,Players:8
    GM: Gregory Priebe & HAWKS
    Sponsor: None, Prize: None
    Period: SciFi, Scale: 28mm, Rules: Combat Patrol TM
    Come learn the ways of the Force or embrace the power of the Dark Side as players battle for the fate of the galaxy with the new Combat Patrol Star Wars supplement. Rules will be taught. Padawans under 14 are welcome with the participation of a playing adult.

    S: 403: Combat Patrol TM – Star Wars

    Saturday,9:00AM,3 hrs,Players:8
    GM: Gregory Priebe & HAWKS
    Sponsor: None, Prize: None
    Period: SciFi, Scale: 28mm, Rules: Combat Patrol TM
    Come learn the ways of the Force or embrace the power of the Dark Side as players battle for the fate of the galaxy with the new Combat Patrol Star Wars supplement. Rules will be taught. Padawans under 14 are welcome with the participation of a playing adult.


    S: 201: Pay Day! A Cowboy Caper

    Saturday, 1:00 PM, 4 hrs, Players: 6
    GM: David Cook & HAWKS
    Sponsor: None, Prize: None
    Period: Western, Scale: 28mm, Rules: Combat Patrol w/ Wild West Supplement The railroad’s coming to Washout! And that means workers — and strongboxes filled with the monthly payroll. The Sackler Gang has called in their friends and plans to collect for themselves. But the railroad has gotten wind of things and has laid on extra guards. Choose your side for a gun-blazing battle of gold and glory!

    S: 214: Hold as Long as Possible (2)

    Saturday, 2:00 PM, 4 hrs, Players: 6
    GM: Buck Surdu & HAWKS
    Sponsor: None, Prize: None
    Period: World War II, Scale: 28mm, Rules: Combat Patrol(TM): WWII

    ItisthePhilippinesinearly1942. The Americans are retreating slowly toward Bataan. A platoon of infantry, along with a handful of Stuart tanks, must delay the Japanese as long as possible, and they make a stand around a small Filipino village. The Japanese attack with a combination of infantry and light tanks. Mayhem ensures. The streamlined mechanics of Combat Patrol(TM) allow players to fight the game, no the rules.

    Nurses and British Ladies

    Posted By on March 11, 2018

    Sally 4th American nurses

    Despite a fair amount of time on the road lately for work, I managed to finish a few figures.  The first four were newly released American nurses for WWII.  I intend to work these into my Combat Patrol(TM): WWII Philippines 1941 games at Cold Wars next weekend.  The figures come with two bases, these clear ones and ones in MDF that are etched with a wooden floor pattern.

    British ladies from Bad Squiddo

    In a previous post, I showed some other figures from Bad Squiddo.  Those were of the British Women’s Land Army that I will use in some Sea Lion type games.  Also in that line are these two paces of figures.  This first pack if Women’s Home Defense (unarmed).

    Armed ladies from Bad Squiddo

    The second pack is Women’s Home Defense (attacking).  I love these figures, particularly the lady in the striped dress with a kitchen knife tied to a broom handle.  I also really like the one with the souvenir Assegai.

    A view of the idol of the duck god

    Some weeks ago, Ma’k Morin pointed out this duck idol.  Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have a weak spot for ducks, so I had to order it.

    Another view of the idol of the duck god

    Now I need to pack for six games at Cold Wars, so no more painting this weekend!

    Philippines 1941 with Combat Patrol

    Posted By on March 5, 2018

    Philippines 1941

    Last weekend we played a series of games at War Horse Farm, Sam Fuson’s house and gaming clubhouse.  I ran a Combat Patrol(TM): WWII game that was a play test of some elements of the games I will run in two weeks at the Cold Wars gaming convention.  This scenario involved a Japanese attack in the Philippines in 1941.  The Japanese had four squads of infantry a machine-gun team, and two light tanks.  The Americans had three squads, two water-cooled machine guns, an antiquated anti-tank gun, and a Stuart M-3.

    The handsome and charming game master (red shirt) surveying the battlefield

    In this picture you can see the battlefield.  The Japanese started at the stream, which was impassible to vehicles, but could be crossed at half speed by infantry.  The Americans were deployed in some depth along the “trail.”  In this game, perhaps counterintuitively to long-time games, the felt patches represented clearings or open ground.  The rest of the terrain was jungle with just four inches of visibility.  The Japanese objective was to get as many of their figures and vehicles as possible into the last three feet of the American side of the table.  The Americans were supposed to stop them.  The Japanese players decided that they would place their main effort on their left, because that represented the shortest distance from their starting line to the back three feet of the table.

    Early in the game, a player measures the movement of the Japanese tank

    Without first pushing infantry across the stream to make sure there was no Americans to stop them, the Japanese players advanced their tanks over the old stone bridge.

    The view from the small anti-tank gun that air conditioned the Japanese tank coming down the trail

    A hidden anti-tank gun opened fire, knocking out the Japanese tank with a single, well-placed shot.   It is hard to find 28mm figures for early WWII.  Most of my Americans are Pulp Figures.  The gun and gun crew are old Pass of the North from my Moro collection.  That’s why the gun crew is not wearing helmets.

    A slightly wider shot of the anti-tank gun, burning Japanese tank, and the second tank coming over the bridge.  From this picture you can see that the tank on the bridge could not be seen through the jungle (not felt) area.

    While this was happening, the Japanese infantry splashed across the stream.  The Americans had placed a single water-cooled machine-gun on the small hill overlooking the stream.  It surprised the Japanese with a burst of fire, that killed the assistant gunner of the Japanese machine-gun team and forced the gunner to run for cover.

    Japanese infantry swarm over the unsupported machine gun team.

    The Japanese infantry recovered quickly and swarmed over the gun team.  In this picture you can see that both the gunner and assistant gunner were stunned (black rubber bands), the machine-gun had jammed (white rubber band), and the Japanese were about ready for a bayonet charge to finish them off.

    One squad tries to hold the American flank to enable the rest of the Americans to redeploy to stop the Japanese main effort

    I gave a young kid on the American left an easy-to-understand mission:  “hold until the last man.”  This was the American left flank, not facing the Japanese main effort, but we needed to hold the Japanese in this area to enable the Americans to redeploy a squad to help stop the main Japanese advance.  In true kid fashion, he interpreted “hold to the last man” as “fix bayonets and charge.”  I give the Japanese a melee number that is slightly better than that of the Americans, so typically, you wouldn’t do this.  But with significant kid luck, it worked.  By the end of the game his two teams of four men each had defeated three Japanese teams of six men each, and he still had a few figures left.  He was planning to circle in behind the advancing Japanese!

    Both Japanese tanks destroyed!

    The second Japanese tank decided to try his luck getting across the bridge.  The Japanese had done nothing to try to engage the anti-tank gun with fire to suppress it.  As the tank came off the bridge, it came into view of the alert gun crew.  In Combat Patrol(TM), there is no opportunity fore mechanic, per se.  Instead, all figures have a Reaction attribute.  To interrupt enemy movement, the player draws a card from the Action Deck and consults the hit randomizer section of the card to see if the number on the card is less than its Reaction number.  In this case, the gun crew did react.  Despite firing on a moving target, the gunners hit the lower hull with a penetrating hit that brewed up the last Japanese tank.

    The Stuart situated astride the jungle path

    In the meantime, the American Stuart never fired a shot.  It was parked to fire on anyone who might try to advance down the trail, but the Japanese avoided it.

    Two teams of Americans reposition from the left to the right to help blunt the main Japanese advance

    Aided by Banzai yank on the left, the middle US squad repositioned.

    The big fight of the game where Chris’ Japanese infantry pushed hard agains the Americans

    The climactic fight occurred on American right, where the Japanese main effort ran into four teams of Americans.  Two had been in that area since the beginning.  The other squad (two teams) had begun in the center.  So in the final couple of turns it was a big infantry fight, with lots of hand-to-hand combat, that determined the outcome of the game.  The Japanese had a slight numerical advantage, but the Americans held their ground.

    The vat of excellent fried chicken from a local store had arrived, so we called the game an American victory and dashed for the kitchen before the chicken was all gone.

    Supporting Japanese infantry comes across the river too late to stop the Americans from blowing up the lead tank.  I didn’t have the tanks painted in time for this game, but they are painted now and ready for Cold Wars.

    Other than Chris, none of the player had ever played Combat Patrol(TM) before.  In fact, few had played a miniatures game before.  The first couple of turns were a bit slow, but after that, the game pretty well ran itself.

    The Bear Yourselves Valiantly game in full swing

    After lunch, Chris ran a play test of the game he will run in a few weeks for my Tabletop Wargaming class at a local community college.  This is the Battle of Barnett, during the War of the Roses.  One player had to leave early, so I jumped in and took over his command.  It was a fun game!

    Is Chris explaining the rules in Esperanto?

    I had had three late nights in a row and was rapidly running out of steam, but as usual, a day at War Horse Farm was great fun.