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Saturday, 23 July 2016

Our first 'Combat Patrol' game

Today, after a game of Wings of Glory Link - Lawrence arrived to give us a try at this new set of WW2 skirmish rules. Combat Patrol, is a card driven system which is developing something of a following.
I was detailed to work with Alex, who, like me had never played this game before. We had a German platoon.
Phil used the American force with Lawrence.

The battlefield, from the direction the Americans were approaching from.

Alex, in command, started alongside the road towards the junction, the game objective. 
I started with 2 sections opposite the house. My aim was to seize the hedge-line beyond the house, and use the house as a fall back position.
Phil started opposite my left, obviously aiming to outflank my line. 
 He had more in the centre, facing me.
Lawrence was mainly opposite Alex. 
He intended to go up the road towards the building. 
By switching an activation dice, I managed to get 2 fire teams to advance a bit.
 Phil's Americans had similar problems, his scouts stayed in start positions and 1 fire team probed forward instead!
As yet, the lone Yank unit could see nothing. 
Eventually, another of Phil's teams came up in support. Not the scouts though!
His other 3 teams on the flank were slowly advancing, mostly together. 
I finally got my other 2 teams to catch up with my front line, who seemed a bit wary of approaching the house! 
 Alex had one of his units only able to advance up the road.
Lawrence on the American left managed to advance all of his units on the road. 
I got 2 units up to the house line. 
The other 2 were hung up in the woods. 
 Alex's forward unit was getting close to the junction.
  ..But so was Lawrence!
Phil got most of his men in the centre almost to the road. 
 On the flank, only one unit had arrived though.
His scouts in the centre were STILL sitting smoking!!!! 
I managed to get almost to the hedge with 1 unit, and got a second one to the house. I had given up all hope of my original defence plan, an just wanted to cobble something together to face the more rapidly advancing Americans. 
 My advance fireteam just stood as Phil lined the hedge opposite, he even had his scouts move up!
 Lawrence was still going up the road, one unit was getting close to Alex.
 Phil now spotted my immobile forward section. 
 His fire was initially rather poor, only wounding 1 man.
On Phil's right, he had a unit cross the road. 
I got one team round the house to cover the junction. 
 As Lawrence moved his men up the road, his forward unit was spotted by Alex's forward unit, and took a casualty.
 Alex had managed to get another fire team up the road!
My forward section was under heavy fire, and suffered another wounded man. 
Menwhile, having nothing to see, my unit by the house fired on the large group of Americans behind the hedge...
...The fire was very effective!
They returned fire, and drove my section from the wall. 
I luckily got reactivated and came back into position.
Lawrence sprinted a 30 cal MG team to face Alex and me. 
Phil had his flanking force over the road now. 
My battered forward team finally were able to retreat to the house walls. 
 Phil sent the BAR team across the road, but they lost heavily to fire from the house.
 Phil got the last of his men across the road, covered by a 3 man team behind the wall.
 I now got my final unit activated, and got a sprint in to put them behind a hedge facing Lawrence.
Phil had advanced his 3 man covering force into the field, where they could be seen by my men in and around the house. 
I now had a team in the upper windows and the forward unit behind a wall facing the flank Phil was attacking. 
 Phil's men were moving rapidly now round the rear of the building.
 My right flank unit spotted a couple of Americans opposite...
 Alex had one of his squad leaders call in a mortar strike...
It missed the 30 cal...and landed in a dense group of Lawrence's men instead!
The Mortar advanced, and eventually got a good hit on the 30 cal, wiping it out!
 Most of the Americans now were hunkered down in cover, apart from the team in the field, which I poured fire on.
My flank team was lucky, and hit the Americans opposite without being spotted themselves! 
 The Americans now decided the Germans were too well dug in, and having taken 5 times our casualties, decided to retreat.
Next time, bring a tank, suckers!

So, that was our first game of Combat Patrol.

My personal assessment is as follows;

(1) The system is quite innovative, and the Action cards, which replace charts and die rolls - is quite clever, and easy to pick up and use. I am sure this is why it has a good number of fans.
(2) The game is quite easy to understand, after a few activations, we were quite happy to do fire-fights, morale checks and other basic rule things.
(3) I found the system rather frustrating to use, I felt that I was constantly fighting to do things against the Activation system, rather than fighting a battle.
(4) It seems strange that units do not react or activate when, I think, a real unit would do so; for example;
a) units advancing behind others hanging back for no good reason.
b) units getting stuck in front of the enemy, and unable to do anything, even run away!
c) Units not reacting to being outflanked, or friends getting wiped out, retreating, or losing a fire-fight, or having had casualties in the team.

I do understand the Activation system vagaries allow battles without hidden movement/units, and this is probably why it is done this way?

(5) A lot of things in the game seem a bit long winded, I feel many things could be done with a lot less effort.
Examples are- drawing a card per blood symbol for morale checks, Observation, where dice are thrown (could this not be done better using the track used for shooting? - with a couple of modifiers as in the shooting system)- Allocating casualties in a circular system, so people way back get hit rather than those at the front!
(6) The game seems to take a long time to play, admittedly, it was our first game, but its still quite involved.

As I said to Lawrence, Like Phil, we think there are some excellent ideas and concepts in this system, but equally, some odd things.
I would play this again if someone asked me to, and I am sure it would be easier to do so and faster than today's game, but I  would not be over-concerned if no-one asked!