As is the HAWKs holiday custom, Duncan hosted a game at his house last night. He has been hosting a game sometime on or about Christmas and/or New Year’s Eve, depending on how the holidays fall in the week for some years. This year he chose to use Combat Patrol for a semi-reprise of one of his WWI 28mm scenarios.
In the scenario, we Germans had gained a small foothold across the canal (to the right of the picture above), and our mission was to expand that hold and push the British off the table. There wasn’t enough time to actually push every Brit off the table, but Duncan said capturing the bridge pictured, the church in the background, and the other buildings around the courtyard would be evidence that we were achieving our mission. While we initially outnumbered the British, we expected them to be reinforced at some point in the game.
Duncan’s figures were mounted for another system and were mostly mounted in pairs. This occasionally created some issues tracking wounds and figuring out how to represent some morale effects, but in general it worked fine. The buildings were a mix of manufacturers, including Grand Manor, Old Glory, and Miniature Building Authority. I think the table was very nice. As with all games involving a large number of buildings, there was some effort involved with getting figures in an out of the various floors of the buildings.
In Combat Patrol (which was written for World War II) squads are generally broken into two or three teams (depending on the country), which are the atomic unit of the game. Duncan treated each early WWI squad as the atomic element. I was a little worried at first that letting then men fire at the same time would either slow the game and/or prove too deadly to one side if the other got advantageous activation card draws early in the game. The Combat Patrol mechanics didn’t seem to bog down with those large atomic elements, and the dense terrain with lots of protection seemed to mitigate the deadliness of fire. In general, I’d say the rules worked fine for this historical period.
In addition to a platoon of infantry, I was assigned a Minenwerfer. I only got to fire it twice, because of difficulty of my spotter being able to see targets and the slow reload time. My first shot did some damage to British infantry ahead of Geoff’s advance, but it drifted a bit and caught some of Geoff’s men in the blast as well. The second shot took the roof off a building in the courtyard, doing a lot of damage to Don’s men inside, but not before Don took out one of my advancing squads (to be described later).
The onus was on the Germans to advance, so while Geoff engaged Rob in a bloody firefight, I advanced through the alley and into the courtyard of a British held building. In the next couple of activations, I pushed into the first floor. The doorway was defended by just Rob’s platoon leader as most of the men in the building were on the upper floors where they had better fields of fire. I eventually captured the first two floors and was ready to assault the third floor when we ended the game. Aided by Geoff softening up Rob before I got there, I only lost half a squad in taking the building.
Meanwhile, Dave advanced his platoon across the canal at the German-held foot bridge and moved into position to pass me and continue the advance.
I know there was a LOT of activity on the other side of the table, but I was focused on my side. I know that Kurt’s field gun and machine-gun silenced the British gun. Also Eric eventually got some good long-range shots against our company commander who was observing the fight from a rubbled building, forcing him to seek cover. Eventually the reinforcements arrived from that end of the table. They didn’t have a major impact on the game, because the German attack was pretty well spent by the time they arrived.
We needed to keep advancing toward the church. While I was busing in hand-to-hand combat with Rob, Geoff advanced two of his squads up the alley to the right of the picture (above). That had me advancing up the street in the center of the pictures. I thought that Dave and Kurt had silenced the British in the building on the other side of the courtyard, because I didn’t see any fire coming out of it. Not so. As I advanced up the street, I was cut apart by Don. I eventually lost four men and accrued eight morale markers. On my second morale check, the remainder of my elite squad of pioneers ran off the table.
In retaliation, I dropped a minenwerfer shell on Don’s building. It took out the roof and wounded many of his men on the top floor. About this time, it was getting late and all of us old guys were getting tired, so we called the game a convincing British victory.
Combat Patrol worked really well for early WWI, with a few scenario-specific and period-specific modifications that Duncan made to give it an earlier feel. For instance in the basic rules for WWII, any infantryman can re-man a machine-gun, but we thought that in 1914, not all infantryman would have been trained on this new-fangled weapon. Also, he used the larger squads, which gave the units a bit of an unwieldy feel compared to the more nimble teams of WWII. The game was a success and great fun.