This weekend I had a chance to run, watch, or participate in three very different games using Combat Patrol(TM): World War II. The first was Friday night at our normal club gaming night. Zeb Cooke ran a Winter War 1939 game using the rules as well as optional rules from the recently released Winter War supplement (see http://www.bucksurdu.com/Buck_Surdu/Combat_Patrol.html). I was actually playing a Regimental Fire and Fury Napoleonic game, on the other table, but I popped over several times and also had to answer the occasional rules question.
By all accounts this was a terrific game. The attacking Fins didn’t fare well, however, in the face of a determined Russian defense of the cabins on the table.
The second game was set in France in 1940. I ran this game as a play test for a scenario I will be running at Cold Wars next march. Based on a scenario from one of the Skirmish Campaigns books, this scenario involved a French counter attack against the French. Both sides had a few tanks as well as infantry. The French objective was to advance across the table and try to get at least two vehicles off the German table edge.
A German anti-tank gun takes out a Somua.
Every French tank was destroyed. The German made good use of the terrain. The French got off several shots, but failed to penetrate, while the Germans seemed to be able to penetrate with every shot they took. In the end, all five French tanks had been destroyed by the end of the game, and the Germans had lost three of five. All three French trucks were blown up, but the infantry had dismounted beforehand and were working their way through the woods. In the end, it was determined that the French couldn’t achieve their objectives, so the game was a German victory.
The third game was Duncan’s Napoleonic game using Combat Patrol. In this scenario, The Battle Before the Battle, the game involves French and British skirmishers fighting as a French column advances toward a British line. You can see the formed troops represented by images glued to blocks. Each turn, the French column advanced six inches. At first the skirmishers engaged each other, but when the formed units got close enough together, they focused their attention on picking off officers and soldiers. The game turned out to be a very close run affair, with the French speaking out a narrow victory in points.
To simulate the skirmishers taking advantage of available terrain, Duncan fills the middle ground with bits of lichen and rocks. Skirmishers touching them are protected by the low cover and stone wall cover icons, respectively.
The British skirmish line in front of the formed line at the start of the battle. You didn’t get any points for killing enemy skirmishers. All points were awarded based on hits on the formed unit beyond. As the two formed units got closer, players had to decide whether to suppress enemy skirmishers (to top them from firing on their formed unit) or fire on the enemy’s formed unit to get points.
French skirmishers moving advancing toward the British line. The tactic of the period was to be deployed in pairs in which one may was reloading while the other fired. In most cases the players used this tactic. You can see white pipe cleaners used to mark figures who had fired. Sometimes players got excited and fired with more than half their figures, which could leave them vulnerable to an enemy advance.
British skirmishers taking cover in the “middle ground” between the two formed units. A fun moment came when one of Chris’ units failed morale. In Combat Patrol, morale failure is a lack of cohesion, not just figures running away. In many cases, morale results have figures becoming stunned or pinned, running away, or seeking cover. In this case, Chris’ unit got tired of taking fire and charged toward the enemy. His bayonet charge pushed back the British skirmishers, killed and wounded a couple, and put him in a position to fire on the British line.
In this picture you can see the French column after five turns of play.
And now the French column has shaken out into line.
It was a good gaming weekend. We did uncover one or two small areas of the rules that could be more clear. For those who have downloaded the full rules from the DriveThru Cards Web site, I uploaded the updated version. You should have gotten an Email from DriveThru telling you there is an updated you can download for free if you already purchased the full rules.