After nearly three years of development, Combat Patrol(TM) is nearing completion. The game features some really innovating mechanics that streamline play and reduce table cutter. I have also play tested it in numerous convention games. My gaming group has even begun adapting it to other historical periods. There are many good WWII skirmish rules on the market. So what makes this interesting and unique?
In developing Combat Patrol(TM) I developed the G.A.M.E.R.(TM) “engine.” Key features of the engine are:
- The Double Random Activation(TM) mechanism provides the unpredictability and drama of card-based activation without the drawbacks. This activation mechanism was originally developed for Battles by GASLIGHT and was refined during the development of Look, Sarge, No Charts titles. The mechanism uses cards for activation but ensures that multiple players are acting at the same time.
- No big yellow or pink chart cards cluttering up your beautiful gaming tables. Each player needs one or two 3″x5″ cards with the information about his units, including their weapons and equipment. Other than those, there are no chart cards. The back of these unit records includes the modifiers for hand-to-hand combat and terrain effects on movement. After a game or two, players rarely need to refer to these, so two unit records can be taped back to back for even less clutter.
- Combat resolution is resolved by flipping cards. Players read different sections of the cards in the Action Deck depending on what they are trying to do: shooting, resolving hits, “rolling” to penetrate enemy vehicles, hand-to-hand combat, movement, and morale. In development, I took a series of charts and then broke them apart to fit on an Action Deck of 50 cards. Flipping a card is essentially the same as rolling a die and looking up the result on a table. The difference is that you don’t have to do all that table look up. Flip a card and determine whether you got a hit. If so, flip the next card to see which target figure was hit, how severely, and whether he is protected by cover.
- Cover is represented explicitly. Instead of cover providing a negative modifier to hit, if you get a hit, when you flip the next card in the Action Deck, you look for cover icons. If the target figure is in the type of cover indicated on the card, instead of being wounded or incapacitate he ducks back behind cover and is stunned. While the use of cover as a to-hit modifier and the process in Combat Patrol(TM) can be mathematically equivalent, there is something intuitively appealing to knowing that the window sill deflected that round that would have otherwise hit your figure. In play tests, this explicit representation of cover has made players make better use of cover while maneuvering their squads.
- Messy “opportunity fire” rules are replaced by a simple reaction mechanism.
- Somewhat randomized movement speeds based on the Guts level of the unit or its leader.
- The G.A.M.E.R.(TM) engine name is an acronym for the attributes which describe figures in Combat Patrol(TM): Guts (morale), Accuracy (shooting), Melee (hand-to-hand combat), Endurance (how many wounds a figure can take), and Reaction. The game master can “sculpt” a unit to fit a historical scenario.
- Playable on multiple levels of resolution. At the lowest level, all the figures in a unit have the same attributes. At the highest level, each figure can have different attributes. The levels of resolution can be mixed so that the Commando unit has more detail than the installation security personnel. This allows games that have a historical feel as well as those with a more cinematic feel.
- Rules for replacements of personnel and equipment between scenarios enable players to represent mini-campaigns.
- Ground scale is 1 inch = 5 yards, pretty close to the scale of the 28mm figures I used in play testing.
- The basic rules are just eight pages! And that includes several pictorial examples of firing and grenade resolution that fill almost a full page themselves.
Combat Patrol(TM) will soon be available through DriveThruCards on durable, premium stock cards. It is helpful for each player or pair of players to have an Action Deck to speed play. On DriveThru customers may purchase either set A or set B of the cards. Each set includes four Action Decks (supporting four to eight players), with different colored backs to keep them separated, and an Activation Deck. Purchasing both set A and set B will give you eight different backs, supporting eight to sixteen players for those really large games. The basic rules and an introductory scenario will be a free .pdf download from DriveThru as well. The advanced rules and vehicle rules will be a second download. In this way, the rules will be available worldwide without customers having to hunt for them in retail outlets.
Because everything will be downloadable, there won’t be a glossy hard-cover book full of eye candy. It’s just a solid set of rules that has gone through several years of development and testing. I think, however, if people give the rules a try, they will really see how Combat Patrol(TM) results in a streamlined, enjoyable World War II skirmish game with all the nuances of any other set of rules but with most of the complexity removed.
I will be running games with the rules at Barrage (Northern Maryland, 10 October) and Fall In (Lancaster, PA, November). Sign up and see what these rules are all about.
I was camping this weekend with the Venture Crew, but I had a chance on Sunday to finish up a few figures that I have been working on for a week. These are from Pulp Figures. Four are from a sleuths pack, and the fifth, with the Tommy Gun, is “Stash Gable,” which was a promotional figure.
Just this week, I received in the mail a set of painting glasses from Carson, with a built in LED light. These make a HUGE difference. For the past couple of years, I have had a lot of trouble getting enough light, no matter what I tried. These “cheaters” have four different lens sets for magnification from 1.5x to 3.5x. Most importantly, the built-in LED lamp really illuminates where I am painting.
In addition, in my painting box, I had some RAFM seated figures that have been in need of painting for a couple of years.
These will find their way into vehicles in my Granville pulp and gangster games.
I was invited to try Frostgrave today with Chris and Greg. This is a reasonably new game with a huge following. The basic premise its that some ancient city has been locked in a glacier for many years. Now that the ice is melting, bands of adventurers, led by wizards and their apprentices, roam into the city in search of treasure and ancient artifacts.
We played this as a three-way game. Each of us had a basic war band, a wizard, and an apprentice. I used a band that Chris had already created. Greg’s band included cryomancers, represented by Dr. Who and River Song.
The activation system involves each player rolling a d20 at the beginning of the turn. Play progresses with the high roller going first, then the second highest roller, etc. There are three basic phases in the turn. Each player, in order, executes their wizard phase, in which their wizard and any minions within three inches of the wizard, perform two actions each. After all the wizard phases are complete, beginning with the first player, each player activates his apprentice. Again, any minions within three inches of the apprentice may activate as well. Finally everyone else activates, in player order.
Figures come in some basic categories, such as wizards, apprentices, templars, thieves, thugs, etc. While each type of character has different attributes for speed, fighting, shooting, willpower, health, etc. there is not a lot of differentiation. This is a game about wizards and magic, and the other players are really second class.
Before the game, the players choose which spells their wizards will be able to throw. The apprentice knows the same spells as the wizard. During the wizard’s activation, he may throw a spell. These ranged from things like “decay,” which would melt a bow or other type of weapon, “teleport,” “push,” which enabled me to magically force someone back, etc.
This game came down to the wire. Chris used a telekinesis spell to draw one of the treasures toward his folks. Neither Greg nor I could do much about that. In the end, Chris got four of the nine treasures off the table. I used a “mind control” spell to ensure one of Greg’s warriors, who picked up a treasure and then brought it to me. Greg tried to break the mind control a couple of times, but Greg was on a particularly cold dice rolling streak. I was able to move the man toward the edge of the table. Then my apprentice used his “push” spell to magically shove the mind controlled minion toward the edge of the table. I rolled particularly well, and Greg rolled particularly poorly. The result was that I pushed him off the table with a treasure while he was under my control, so I got the credit.
The final fight came when Chris and I were battling over a treasure. My wizard teleported to it, killing Chris’ figure who was carrying it. Then Chris’ wizard killed my archer who was moving toward it while my wizard tried to heal himself. Greg teleported the Doctor (his wizard) into the fray, and he took a magic dart from Chris in the back. My wizard picked up the treasure and teleported off the table. I ended with four of the nine treasures, tied with Chris.
In general, I like the game. There were a couple of ambiguities in the rules we had to push through. In general it works, and the game was quite fun.
This weekend I didn’t get a lot painted, but I did manage to knock out these Brigade Games War of 1812 Indians that I picked up at Historicon.
In terms of both size and style, I think they will mix nicely with all the Old Glory Indians I have for the French and Indians Wars. The deal is crisp, and the figures had very little flash.
At Historicon I purchased a few more inter-war Americans in tin hats. I painted them this weekend. I now have a sizable force ready to take on some baddies.
I often use a subset of these forces to accompany Duke Morrison on his adventures. I am working up an interesting Duke Morrison scenario that will involve large forces than normal, so instead of To Be Continued… by G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T., I’ll likely use straight-up G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T.
All three people who follow this blog will recall that I have been building up a town for pulp games for several years. A year or so ago I went on a spending spree on Ebay to get a bunch of Plasticville buildings. There are only two or three remaining that I want but don’t have. Usually I get my daughter to paint terrain for me, but in this case, I wanted to do these two buildings myself.
The first was a gas station. I didn’t realize it, but Plasticville made two different gas stations. The first one I found I painted in green as a Sinclair gas station, complete with a green dinosaur out front. This one I painted as a Mobile gas station. Why? I always liked the red pegasus logo. You can’t see the sign in this picture, but you can see the red and white motif.
The second was the Plasticville pharmacy and hardware. As a rule, I have been replacing the “Plasticville” words on the signs with “Granville” or a made-up name of the store. In this case, you can see that the combined hardware in pharmacy is Graziano’s. As the real town of Granville is full of folks with Italian heritage, most of the stores have Italian names. Note that in the case of both the gas station and the hardware, I was lucky enough to find ones with the original paper inserts for the windows.
Planning for Barrage 2015 is shaping up nicely. We had the last gaming table fill today with the addition of our last game. I am happy with the breadth of games, from WWII to modern. I am also happy with the number of kid-friendly games.
We are actually running short of tables, so if the event grows much more, we’ll have to start renting tables. That’s a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem.
I started working on a few Pulp Figures last weekend and finished them up this evening.