The Final Act

This picture is really hard to see.  I drew it 30+ years ago in pencil on a piece of loose leaf paper.  This cartoon depicted a party of adventurers bursting into a room during a Tunnels and Trolls game.  I don’t remember why the one character had his face explode as the party entered, but I remember we laughed about it for days.  My buddy Ma’k Morin found this recently and sent it to me.

Barrage 2016 Web Portal Goes “Live”

The all new Web portal for Barrage 2016 has gone live for people to register as attended and GMs.  This year the folks who bring you the popular HAWKs rooms at the various HMGS conventions have expanded Barrage from one day to two days.  Take a look at the Web portal (www.hawks-barrage.org).  Come back frequently as new games and other content is added.

Completed 11 Khanopian Guards

A few weeks ago, I ordered a bunch of figures from Wargames Supply Dump in the Dirk Garrison range.  I had been working on them a half hour at a time most of the week, but today I had a chance to finish them up.

The figures have a very retro comic book styling to them that I really like, so I painted them in primary colors.  I finished them late and needed to use the flash to photograph them, so you see a lot of shine, and much of the detail is washed out.  The figures look better than these photos.

I really like the crew-served weapon.

Japanese vs. Americans with Combat Patrol

This weekend, Sam Fuson hosted a gaming day at War Horse farm in Gettysburg, PA.  I had a chance to play in a modern skirmish game with Ed Duffy’s modern rules he’s been developing.  In the afternoon I ran a slightly modified reprise of my American raid on a Japanese radio site on “some island” in the Pacific.

The game went quite well.  A couple of players had played Combat Patrol(TM), but must had not.  They picked up the rules quickly and then concentrated on the fight rather than the rules.  The scenario was both ahistorical and anachronistic; the American raiding force was composed of both US paratroopers and US Marines.  The Marines had one squad and a bazooka team.  The paratroopers had two squads, a platoon leader, and a bazooka team.  The Japanese had three squads, a couple of extra light machine-guns, and a Chi-Ha tank.

The Americans ran into the compound.  The Marine bazooka team pumped three rounds into a Japanese bunker.  Though the rounds penetrated, the Marine player was incredibly unlucky in determining the effects, so the Japanese machine-gun inside was wounded and stunned, but not knocked out.

Though they inflicted a lot of casualties on the Japanese stationed around the perimeter, the paratroopers made it into the compound and were running across to the radio shack when a couple of Japanese mortar shells landed.  The paratroopers had gotten bunched up, and the mortar round landed right in the middle of the clump, killing two, wounding five, and stunning a couple of others.

The Marines never really made much progress into the compound, but they tied down a squad and a machine-gun.  The paratrooper bazooka team inexplicably charged a couple of Japanese in a foxhole.  Despite outnumbering a wounded Japanese soldier in the foxhole, the paratroopers lost the melee, the bazooka man being incapacitated and his assistant falling back.  The Japanese soldier then charged at the assistant bazooka man as the result of a morale check.  After some back and forth, the paratroopers finally ended up in control of the bazooka again.  He fired at the Chi-Ha, hit the wheels, but didn’t mobilize it.  The bazooka man never got off a second shot, as he was cut down by a Japanese machine-gun.

After the incredible Japanese mortar fire and the lost of both bazookas, the Americans called a retreat and melted back into the jungle.  They never really got very close to the radio shack.  If things had broken their way once or twice, they might have gotten it; they were very close at one point.

The people who weren’t regular gamers, but just come to War Horse a couple of times a year, had not trouble catching on, since they have no preconceived notions of how a war-game is supposed to work.  The folks who are regular gamers caught on quickly as well.  That was good to see.  After about two turns, my role became merely answering questions and calling out cards from the Activation Deck.  All of the players really enjoyed the scenario.

Combat Patrol(TM) at Historicon 2016

There will be several Combat Patrol(TM) games at Historicon next weekend.  Sign up for one of the games, come by to see if there is space, or just come by to watch how this elegant system works.

Thursday, 1400:  The Battle Before the Battle (GM: Duncan Adams):  Battalions formed; lines dressed; banners flying. The drums start and one line begins moving, steadily closing toward the inevitable, violent collision. But before the lines close there is another battle which must be fought first – between the closing lines. Today we fight that battle of light infantry struggling to weaken the enemy’s line while protecting its own.

This scenario uses the under-development Napoleonic supplement for Combat Patrol.  This is really cool scenario that concentrates on the skirmish fight between two formed units.  Lots of fun.

Friday, 1400:  The Streets of Stalingrad (GM: Eric Schlegel):  22 Oct 1942.  Elements of the Infanterie Division 389, supported by armor and engineers with flame throwers and demo charges, are ordered to assault the Barrikady and Krasny Oktyabr factories held by remnants of the 138th & 308th Rifle Divisions.

Friday, 1900:  Star Wars Combat Patrol (GM: Buck Surdu filling in for Greg Priebe):  On an ancient, war-torn world, a rebel strike team searches desperately for relics that can aid their cause. Little do they know that the forces of the Galactic Empire are already on their trail.  The card-based rule system of Combat Patrol comes to a galaxy far, far, away. Will you fight for freedom in the galaxy, or will you embrace the power of the Dark Side?

This scenario uses mods that Greg created to represent Star Wars weapons in the Combat Patrol rules.  This is a battle between Rebel troopers and Stormtroopers, not one or two main characters where the troopers die in droves.

Saturday, 0900:  Kerfuffle at the Crossroads (GM: Buck Surdu):  An American patrol advances toward an important crossroads and bumps into a German patrol in 1944.  Both forces jockey for position and call for reinforcements.  Learn to play Combat Patrol.  Fight the battle, not the rules.

I am going to change this a little from what is in the PEL.  This game will involve a Germans force sent into the town to dismantle the roadblock, while the Americans try to stop them.  In the play test a couple of weeks ago it was a close run event.

Saturday, 1900:  Warsaw Uprising (GM:  Buck Surdu):  The Polish Resistance Home Army has risen up to eject the Nazis.  The uprising is timed to coincide with the Soviet advance, but the Soviets stop short and enable the Nazis to crush the resistance after 63 days of bitter fighting.  Learn to play Combat Patrol as a member of the resistance or the German army.

Sally 4th Corner Shops

Sally 4th Corner Shops, completed
Sally 4th Corner Shops, completed

During my very enjoyable experience at Partizan in June, I had a chance to look at the buildings from Sally 4th with the photo-realistic covers applied to them.  I picked up the corner shops, part of the Normandy range, and brought it home.  I had begun construction a couple of weeks ago, but life got in the way.  I had a chance over the three-day weekend to finish it.  Bottom line:  I am extremely pleased with this kit and will be getting more of them.

Corner shops prior to the application of photo-realistic cover sheets
Corner shops prior to the application of photo-realistic cover sheets

The basic building as an MDF kit, not unlike others.  There are a couple of unique features that I really like.  First the buildings have interior walls.  Second, all the windows and doors come with clear plastic pieces, so they look like real windows.  Finally, I really like the way the roof is constructed.  The outside, visible portion is part of the exterior of the walls.  The support for the roof fits inside the peaked portions of the walls.  This gives a very nice look with full roof support.  The MDF is thick and sturdy and does not warp.

Applying the photo-realistic covers tot he dormer windows
Applying the photo-realistic covers tot he dormer windows

I also found the step-by-step instructions easy to follow.  Each step included a color illustration.  This was the first of the Sally 4th buildings I have constructed, and am no good with paper models, but this kit went together like a dream, and the final product is terrific.

Some of the exteriors applied
Some of the exteriors applied

You can purchase the professionally printed photo-realistic covers on thick card or you can download the cover sheets and print them yourself.  In this case, I opted to purchase the cover sheets while I was at Partizan.  I figured that the pre-printed sheets on card were cheaper than me printing them at home and would look better.

Beginning to apply the photo-realistic cover sheets
Beginning to apply the photo-realistic cover sheets

The scary part for me was beginning to apply the photo-realistic covers.  Up to this point, any mistakes could be easily corrected.  Once I started cutting paper, mistakes would be harder to correct.  Since I didn’t print the covers myself, I thought that reprinting any mistakes on my home printer might not match those I purchased.  The photo-covers come in several sheets and are easily cut out with an X-acto or scissors.  The registration was perfect.  When I cut out the sheets, including cutting out the windows, and laid them against the MDF, they lined up perfectly.

The next step. You can see that there are photo-realistic covers for the top portion of the brick wall around the terrace.
The next step. You can see that there are photo-realistic covers for the top portion of the brick wall around the terrace.

The windows and doors were a three-step process.  The glazing is glued to the clear plastic and then glued into the openings.  Then the brick frames of the windows and doors are glued into place.  The effect is really nice.

This view shows the interior of the second floor, which lifts out.
This view shows the interior of the second floor, which lifts out easily.

You can see that the interiors are detailed with interior walls.  Sally 4th offers optional wallpaper for the building interiors and optional interior stairwells.  In the picture above, you can see where the stairways would fit.  They also sell optional bombed out roof sections to replace the nice ones that come with the kit.  I saw these at Partizan, and thought they looked great!

Nearing completion -- the exterior is mostly done
Nearing completion -- the exterior is mostly done

In the picture above you can see the awnings and the color instruction booklet.  I have elected not to attach the awnings to make the buildings easier to store, but it is nice that you have that options.

Nearing completing -- the side view
Nearing completing -- the side view

At this point, I had not picked up a paint brush.  All of this work was done with an X-acto, scissors, and Elmer’s blue.  I later applied a little dark gray paint to the tops of the chimneys and painted the shutters for the windows, but that was all.

Almost done -- the front
Almost done -- the front

The cylinders coming out of the chimneys were meant to be rolls of paper.  Demonstrating my poor skill with paper models, I muffed the first one and decided to cut bits of black straws instead.  My straws don’t look as good as the paper ones shown on the Sally 4th Web page.

Done -- the side
Completed side of the building with some 28mm figures for scale

As I said earlier, despite a couple of rookie mistakes, this building went together with little muss or fuss.  I like the way the kit includes corner brickwork that hides the seams between the cover sheets on the walls and roof.  I have already ordered the Norman church — which comes with three different steeple tops for different eras.  I will likely order a couple more of the Normandy buildings in the near future.

Done -- the back terrace
Done -- the back terrace

If you are at Historicon, I will be using this building in one of my Saturday Combat Patrol(TM) games.  Come by and take a look.

Before I discovered Sally 4th, I had been ordering one or two of the Crescent Root buildings each month.  The Sally 4th and Crescent Root buildings will mix nicely.

Again, I highly recommend this kit and the others in the series.  It took me no longer to complete this building than any similarly-sized MDF building, but the final product looks nicer than I would have achieved by painting it instead of using the photo-realistic covers.

 

A Little Painting

Female Hussar skirmishers
Female Hussar skirmishers

Despite a business trip and a bunch of gaming this week, I did manage to get a little painting accomplished.

The full unit of Female Hussar skirmishers
The full unit of Female Hussar skirmishers

At Nashcon I found three packs of figures.  They were supposed to be promotional giveaways from some sort of tournament.  One of the vendors had them available for sale.  I thought they would be a nice addition to my growing legion of female hussars from Hinterland.

Floating sentry robots
Floating sentry robots

I finished these floating robots from Biller B.  I am not too happy with how they turned out.  I haven’t mastered how to get those nice clean lines on white uniforms and robots that I see in others’ examples.  I like the robot below, but I can’t remember where I purchased it.

Retro robot with strange fashion sense
Retro robot with strange fashion sense

 

Combat Patrol (TM) Rubbled City Play Test for Historicon

On Saturday some members of my gaming club met at my house to prepare for our series of rubbled city games at Historicon 2016.

City fight game at Fall In 2015
City fight game at Fall In 2015

At Fall In 2015 several of the HAWKs ran a series of skirmish games on the same terrain board.  The idea was to set up an elaborate table and then use it for several scenarios.  Each GM used whatever rules they preferred, and there was no attempt to link the scenarios.  They ranged from WWII to Dr. Who.

Eric and Don (and perhaps others) determined to do the same at Historicon 2016, this time with a rubbled city.  We got together on Saturday to set up the table and map the layout.  This was to make sure that we weren’t missing anything while we still had time to make corrections.  It also gave us a chance to play test two of the six scenarios.  For Historicon, the scenarios range from WWII to modern.  Unfortunately, I had the settings on my camera wrong, so all the pictures from  yesterday have a sepia tone to them.  I had the camera set to accentuate the sky in sunny outdoor scenes, since the last time I had the camera out was in Costa Rica.

Kurt points out a key tactical dilemma.
Kurt points out a key tactical dilemma.

The Warsaw Uprising:

My game for Historicon will use Combat Patrol(TM): WWII.  The scenario is based on the Warsaw Uprising.  As the Germans were beginning to weaken and the Russians were advancing, the Poles rose up to eject the Germans from Warsaw.   The Russians then halted their advance while the Poles and Germans killed each other, and then the Russians seized Warsaw after the Germans had killed most of the fighters capable of resisting the Russian takeover of Poland.

The terrain consists of Crescent Root, MBA, and other buildings on a Cigar Box Battles mat.  Don has also created some nice piles of rubble and shell holes to improve the look of the city.  For Historicon we will also liberally sprinkle the table with Scenic Express model railroad blast from Eric’s five-gallon stash.

Two poles open fire from a rubbled building
Two poles open fire from a rubbled building

The “feel” I am seeking for the scenario is that the Germans would be moving about trying to clear the area, and the lighter-armed Polish partisans would pop up all over the place and plink away at the Germans.  I wanted something without a clear front line.

I think I achieved the desired effect.  The Poles began with five teams deployed wherever they wished on the table.  Each team was four figures, one with a submachine gun and three with rifles.  One of the riflemen also carried a captured Panzerfaust.  Two of the teams also included a light machine-gun.  Each time either the “Game Master” or “Reshuffle” card was drawn from the Activation Deck the Poles were allowed to place another team on the table wherever they wished, as long as it was not within line of sight of any Germans.  This allowed the Poles to pop up behind the Germans in areas previously cleared.

Germans advancing with support from a Hetzer
Germans advancing with support from a Hetzer

The Germans advanced steadily, knocking out the lightly-armed Poles, but the Poles delayed their advance.  Also the Poles used their ability to add new teams to create a few surprises for the Germans.

A German halftrack pulls into the rubble for protection while its infantry engages Partisans in two directions.
A German halftrack pulls into the rubble for protection while its infantry engages Partisans in two directions.
A long shot of the table
A long shot of the table
Two Poles firing at the Germans
Two Poles firing at the Germans

I learned a couple of things during the play test.  Of course, that’s why you run a play test.  I will let the Poles have one more team at the start of the game.  Also I will change the objectives a bit.  For this scenario, I told both sides their objective was to just kill each other.  It worked okay, but I think the scenario will be more fun if the Germans have something to do other than kill Poles.  I plan to use the same objective as my other Historicon Combat Patrol(TM) game — the Germans will have to capture and eliminate an improvised roadblock emplaced by the Poles.  This will improve the game.

A Polish team with a wounded member and a morale marker
A Polish team with a wounded member and a morale marker

Combat Patrol(TM) uses a randomized activation scheme, the Double Random(TM) activation mechanism.  In this method, each team leader rolls a d6 at the beginning of each turn.  Then cards are drawn from an Activation Deck.  All units whose command die matches the number drawn from the Activation Deck get to activate.  In this way, the game rarely involves on person doing stuff while everyone else watches; frequently several players are acting at the same time.

Two Poles firing at the Germans
Two Poles firing at the Germans from a rubbled building
Germans take up a protected position within a shell crater
Germans take up a protected position within a shell crater

You can see green rubber bands scattered about.  These are morale markers.  When a figure is wounded or incapacitated, the figure’s leader accrues a morale marker.  When the unit next activates, the unit first makes a morale check for each marker accrued.  This is done by drawing cards from the unit’s Action Deck and reading the results on the morale area of the card.

This halftrack as accrued several morale markers
This halftrack as accrued several morale markers
The action heats up as a third German squad enters the table from an unexpected direction.
The action heats up as a third German squad enters the table from an unexpected direction
A long shot of the table
A long shot of the table
The Poles knock out a German halftrack
The Poles knock out a German halftrack

Germans in hasty positions within shell holes
Germans in hasty positions within shell holes

Stalingrad:

After my play test, we reset the game to play test Eric’s scenario.   While different game masters will use different sets of rules for their games, Eric is also planning to use Combat Patrol(TM).  A nice thing about both of us testing our scenarios together was that it gave us a chance to reach agreement on how we are planning to treat different pieces of terrain so that we are consistent.

The Russians were able to declare one building as having been "fortified," meaning that we treated it as having better cover than the other rubbled buildings.  The building in this picture is the one the Russians chose.
The Russians were able to declare one building as having been "fortified," meaning that we treated it as having better cover than the other rubbled buildings. The building in this picture is the one the Russians chose.

Eric’s Stalingrad scenario focuses on a German unit trying to seize Russian-held buildings.  The Germans had a choice of objectives.  They could choose to seize a key building and three others or to seize five buildings that did not include the key one.

Starting Eric's Stalingrad scenario
Starting Eric's Stalingrad scenario

The Russians were not very good troops in this scenario.  We had a hard time hitting the Germans, but the Germans had to attack, so that seemed to balance out.

Planning the brilliant maneuvers by the Russians
Planning the brilliant maneuvers by the Russians

The Germans did a good job of bypassing strongpoints and working their way around the Russians.  In the end, it was a convincing German victory.

Germans seizing a Russian-held building
Germans seizing a Russian-held building

 So come and play our games at Historicon — as well as the other rubbled city games.

 

 

Combat Patrol(TM) Play Test for Historicon

Friday during our club night I ran a play test for the scenario I plan to run at Historicon in a couple of weeks using Combat Patrol(TM).  The table doesn’t look like much.  I had been on a business trip all week, and I couldn’t find the sheet I have for the town square or the roads.   It will look better by the time of Historicon.  The purposes of this test were 1) to further exercise the night fighting rules and 2) to see if the balance was about right.  I’ll bring the aesthetics up a notch by Historicon.

You can see the roadblock in this picture
You can see the roadblock in this picture

Anyway, the scenario involved a German force sent at night to capture and dismantle a roadblock to pave the way for an advance.

The Americans began deployed throughout the town at their discretion.  Until they moved or fired, I kept them hidden.  The Germans began in the nearby woods and advanced to seize the roadblock.  The German force consisted of a platoon of infantry with three halftracks and a Tiger in support.  The American force consisted of a platoon of infantry without support weapons.

In the night rules that will be published in an upcoming supplement, visibility distances are dependent on the phase of the moon.  This being a full — or nearly full — moon, maximum visibility with the naked eye was 24 inches.  This gave an advantage to the Germans, who were attacking, as it allowed them to get a little closer to the objective before taking fire.

German infantry made it into the village.
German infantry made it into the village.

The Germans made it into the village.  The addition of the machine-guns on the halftracks helped the Germans suppress the American defenders, and the Germans eventually made it to the roadblock.  We had to stop at 2130 hrs., so we were were a couple of turns away from a clear decision, but the consensus was that the Germans would have accomplished their mission.

Once I punch up the aesthetics a bit, I think this will be a nice convention scenario for six or seven players.