After nearly three years of development, Combat Patrol™ is nearing completion. The game features some really innovative 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™ I developed the G.A.M.E.R.™ “engine.” Key features of the engine are:
- The Double Random Activation™ 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™ 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.™ engine name is an acronym for the attributes which describe figures in Combat Patrol™: 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. The 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™ 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™ 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.