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!
  • Posted By on September 11, 2017

    ARC Troopers prepare to ambush a column of droid tanks

    Yesterday HAWKs member, Greg Priebe, and I got together to take some illustrative and filler pictures for the nearly-completed Star Wars supplement for Combat Patrol(TM): World War II.  This supplement is nearly complete and should be released in a couple of weeks.

    Laying out a shot

    We also had a chance to review the vehicle and weapon listings and correct some inconsistencies.  I think that this will make a very popular supplement.  The rules will allow much larger games than the Star Wars collectable miniatures game, Imperial Assault, or Legion.

    This is how we resolve creative differences a long time ago in a back yard far, far away.

    HAWKs Launch Battle in a Box Contest

    Posted By on September 6, 2017

    The Harford Area Weekly Kriegspielers are launching the Battle in a Box contest for Fall In! 2018.  Pass the word!

    See more information here:  http://www.bucksurdu.com/Buck_Surdu/Battle_in_a_Box_Contest.html

    54mm French and Indian Figures

    Posted By on September 6, 2017

    My dad has been collecting Britains and other similar figures as long as I can remember.  He must have 10,000 of them in show cases.  In recent years, he has been collecting the Collector’s Showcase French and Indian figures.  He sent me these pictures today of his “pseudo diorama.”

    He doesn’t enjoy gaming, so these figures (and the rest of his collection) are in display cases.


    Posted By on September 5, 2017

    Stout-hearted adventurers defend their raft against the giant tentacle monster.

    Almost a year ago I found these goofy octopus tentacles in a bin at a store and immediately decided they would be useful for gaming.

    Silly Octopus Tentacles

    I finally got around to mounting them to heavy washers so they would stand up.  I then used ModPodge to create some texturing on the bases.  Then four coats of paint in progressively lighter shades, and here they are.

    Fending off the tentacles!

    They are all the same shape, so I put some sticks inside a few to make them stand a little straighter, and I bent two and glued them.  This was to provide a little variety.

    Using a pike to keep the tentacles at bay

    Could this be the end?!

    Yes.  Thanks for stopping by.

    Labor Day Weekend Hobby Stuff

    Posted By on September 5, 2017

    Last week I spent the evenings assembling a stack of 1:48 scale WWII and Star Wars kits.  Over the weekend I had a chance to finish them up and base spray them.  In addition to a reinforced platoon of US Marines and a handful of Fallschirmjaegers, you can see the weekend results in the picture above.  These vehicles are waiting for next weekend when I will break out the airbrush and some some camouflage and/or weathering.

    The vehicles sprayed gray will merely get some highlighting and some weathering.  The German vehicles in desert yellow will get a full camouflage scheme.  The British Matildas have a unique camo scheme that I will try to reproduce.  The M-48s will probably just get a little weathering.

    Most of the vehicles will be used in Combat Patrol.  The M-48s likely will be used against aliens, Godzilla, or giant ants using GASLIGHT.

    Some Weekend Painting

    Posted By on August 28, 2017

    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.

    Phrinx calvary?

    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.

    Mounted Phrinx next to a dismounted one.

    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.

    Eeek! Avert your eyes, ladies. A naked Phrinx with a laser rifle.

    The fronts of the naked Phrinx with melee weapons

    The backsides of naked Phrinx -- quite disturbing...

    The three naked Phrinx with weapons added

    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.

    Duck! It's the ducks.

    The sculpting on these is a little mushy, and I couldn't really clean up the eyes enough to paint them, but at gaming table distance, they look okay.

    Last, but not least — well maybe least — were these three “tool robots.”  I think these are from Reaper, but I cannot remember for sure.

    Diminutive tool robots

    Combat Patrol 1939 Tonight

    Posted By on August 26, 2017

    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.

    The Polish commanders plan their masterful defense

    The Germans just advanced without a master plan.

    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.

    Germans and Poles fight it out in the woods on the Polish left flank.

    The Germans advance cautiously with their remaining Pz. II's after losing two vehicles to accurate Polish anti-tank gunfire.

    Announcing the New South Pacific Supplement for Combat Patrol(TM): WWII

    Posted By on August 16, 2017

    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

    You can download the supplement for free from the rules’ Web page:  http://www.bucksurdu.com/Buck_Surdu/Combat_Patrol.html

    You can order the cards from DriveThruCards (http://www.drivethrucards.com/product/217095/Combat-Patrol-South-Pacific-Action-Decks) or Sally 4th (http://wargamesbuildings.co.uk/Combat-Patrol).

    Don’t wait to get your copy of the supplement and your South Pacific Action Decks!

     The new rules in this supplement are also useful for representing other historical periods, such as Moros in the Philippines.




    Highclere Castle

    Posted By on August 11, 2017

    Sam and Candy on the side of Highclere Castle

    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.

    Sam and Candy in the car park with Highclere in the background

    Sam's first comment upon entering the car park was that it is much smaller than she imagined

    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.


    Combat Patrol Gaming in Rippon

    Posted By on August 11, 2017

    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, Tommy, and me in Rippon, Yorkshire

    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.

    A view of the compound at the start of the game.

    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.

    My land rovers with a bazooka team and a machine-gun team

    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.

    My wild geese begin to move toward the transport

    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!

    My section that was moving to outflank the gate guards had to advance across the open, and Tom had an active section in overwatch from the recreation hall, so I threw some smoke to get across the open area.

    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.