Monday, June 25, 2018

Vintage Inspirations

When I was in 5th grade I found this book at a school book fair.  I loved the pictures of miniature soldiers, and the clear, simple text and maps that explained the campaign and the battle so that a young boy could understand it.  I can remember bugging my parents repeatedly about going to visit the battlefield, they finally relented and we made the two hour drive from the Philadelphia suburbs of New Jersey.  I still have this book, and it birthed a life-long love of miniatures and civil war gaming.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Combat Patrol - Americans vs Germans

Myself, Charles and Nick got to play a game of Combat Patrol last Wednesday.  This was the first time really playing the game through for each of us.  I've had the rules for a while and played through some solo games but this was the first big game I've tried.

The scenario I setup involves two American platoons of two squads each.  The first platoon is Airborne (elite) and includes an HQ squad and a mortar squad.  The infantry squads and the HQ squad are each split into two teams.  The second American platoon is a regular rifle platoon of two squads and an HQ squad, each split into two teams as well.

The Americans enter one long edge of the table and have to attack two German bunkers.  The Germans have a single platoon of two squads (split in two), an HQ squad, an attached elite recon squad, and two attached MMG squads.  The MMGs deployed into two wooden bunkers.  The HQ squad deployed between the bunkers and a squad deployed on each side of the bunkers in the woods.  The recon team deployed in the larger woods also.

The game began with the Americans moving onto the board, and during the first turn a German LMG team took a long range shot at the regular army lieutenant's team who were hunkered down behind a stone wall.  Two shots, two hits, two dead.  Brutal.  The staff sergeant took over the reigns of the platoon with grim resolve.

There was a fair amount of cover spread across the fields.  There was also a lot of open ground, and a lot of German machine guns with interlocking fields of fire.  The paratroops inched their way up the road to the bridge by the orchard.  As soon as the squad leader had the far bunker in his sights, he called back to the platoon HQ to lay in some rounds of mortar fire.

The second airborne squad crept into the woods on their left.  Sure enough, their were Germans in the woods.  As a firefight erupted in the woods, mortar shells began to whistle through the air.  The advancing soldiers were in the thick of it with a German squad on the hill crest.  Pvt Adams got shook up real bad, then he went nuts - charging up the hill to bayonet the krauts!  The volksgrenadiers were so shocked by the sight of this screaming paratrooper that they staggered back off of the ridge line.  Adams realized what a fool he was being and ran back to his squad!

Meanwhile by the chateau, one squad of the dead lieutenant's platoon crept through the farm, and huddled behind the wall by the road.  A second squad crept around the farm house and were hoofing it across the fields at top speed.  The germans in the bunker lined up the yanks in the sights of the MG-42 and pulled the trigger tight.  Click.  German swear words floated out across the open fields as the whistling overhead got louder...WHAM!!!   BLAM!!!   KABOOM!!!  The third direct hit from the mortar penetrated the roof of the reinforced wooden structure.  One bunker rendered ineffective.

The airborne troopers were engaged in a firefight between the orchard and their enemies in the forest, while this was going on the Americans were able to put a .30 cal MG into place to take the second bunker under fire.  Bullets rattled around the bunker window, keeping the German heads well down.  The mortar moved onto it's next target and another German squad began scrambling for better cover. 

As the GIs completed their dash across the field, a German LMG team lined up what should be a kill shot.  Click.  More swearing...

The airborne troopers pushed through the woods on their left and kept pouring fire into the second bunker.  Eventually the incessant hail of gunfire took its toll on the German defenders.  It was looking bad all across the field and the Volksgrenadier platoon leader called for a withdrawl.

Combat Patrol provided a fun game.  The cards seemed a bit overwhelming at first, but within a turn or two it was easy and intuitive to move troops, resolve weapon fire and deal with morale effects.  The morale effects seemed a bit light, but perhaps it was because of the amount of cover we had available.  Troops in cover didn't run off easily, as you would expect, but they also often fought to the last man, which seemed a bit odd.

Fire and movement tactics are very naturally accommodated in this game.  The lack of fire and movement is one of my biggest gripes about some other popular WW2 miniature games.  Combat Patrol lets you split a squad into it's LMG team and a rifle team.  This feature alone can allow the LMG to surpress the enemy while the rifle team can move, and vice versa, the rifle team can fire while the LMG team moves.  But Combat Patrol goes beyond that.  If you have a team of say six figures, you can have half of the team fire while the other half moves, provided they all remain in their command radius, which is generous.

Teams fire as individual figures, but they fire into an area, rather than selecting a single target.  By doing this, each figure has to trace an LOS, and each target figure can take advantage of the cover that it is hiding in.  It sounds like it may be slow, but resolving fire is quick - flip a card to see if the shot is a hit or miss, if it is a hit flip another card to see if cover blocks the shot or if the target is wounded or incapacitated.  It's very nice and novel.  Jams and out of ammo are also handled by the hit/miss card.

 All in all a good system, and a fun time!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Combat Patrol

I am getting ready to host a game of "Combat Patrol" in a few days.  This a hypothetical battle of two small American platoons attacking some German bunkers in 1944.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Brothers of the Coast

After renovating my gaming room I decided to get my pirate game out on the table.  This game has changed bit by bit over many years.  This game is for up to 6 players and as you can see it fills the table.  The ships are modified Pirates of the Spanish Main plastic ships.  The islands are all home made.  Miniatures are from Foundry.

This game straddles the boundaries between miniatures game and euro-style boardgame (or more appropriately ameri-trash boardgame).  The game mechanics try to be fast and simple, yet the components allow for an unfolding narrative.  Included are various characters and their abilities, different types of ships, treasure maps, quests, missions and wars.  Players control merchant ships that make money primarily through delivering cargo, and each player also controls a pirate who can seek after treasure and/or attack and plunder merchant ships.  Combat is fast and brutal.  Movement is also simple yet thematic.  Here are some photos.

The first version of this game began in 1999.  The only thing remaining from that one is the name.  It was played at Historicon in 2000.  After many years of modifications it was again played at Historicon in 2010.  Since then the ships, minis, cargo and islands that you see in the pictures have remained but nearly all of the other mechanics have continued to be altered from time to time.

It is a big long game that in my opinion is best suited to a convention type of setting.  I don't expect it will ever be published except perhaps in a pdf do-it-yourself kind of format.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Republican Roman Hastati

Here is the first unit of Republican Romans that I have painted from my recent order of figures from Aventine Miniatures.  This is a unit of 18 hastati.  I am now starting another unit of 18 hastati, then I have another 36 principes, 24 triarii and 12 equites plus 3 mounted commanders.  It should be a pretty nice army when finished.  Enjoy the photos.