Saturday, January 28, 2012

Patrol Clash: Combat Cards Test

It was always a backwater outpost, but one with a TSU (Trans-space Union) presence nonetheless. Even with delays in subspace transmissions, ninety days without contact was far too long. With resources already spread too thin, an independent contractor, the Kilburn High Kings, were brought in to investigate and reestablish communications. It would be another two months before they dropped out of n-space at the edge of the solar system, then several weeks after that before entering the planet's orbit. Too much time...

I can't even think of the last time the minis hit the table in an actual battle here at Mik's Minis, too long really. Hot on the heels of the Combat Cards review, art-fiend Miller and I took to the felt. Being a test game the forces were pointed up at about half strength, and I kept the unit variety to a minimum. Above you've got the mercs, grouped into their respective units. Here's the breakdown:
  • x3 Infantry Units @ 2pts each
  • x1 Command Unit @ 2pts
  • x1 Heavy Weapon Unit @ 3pts
  • x1 Mechanized Unit @ 4pts
  • Total: 15pts (36pts is the norm)
As I said in the initial review, the units are kind of defined by what you're putting on the table. An Infantry Unit could be pretty much anything, for these guys it is a four man fireteam. My Command Unit is a pair of leader-type models, and the Heavy Weapon unit is a single fig wielding a large machine gun (actually a Deathlockdrum for those keeping score). Last is my Mechanized Unit, which could be anything from bikes, to an APC equipped unit, to power armor, I chose the latter.

My poor, neglected Pig Iron troopers who see so little combat...

  • x1 Command Unit @ 2pts
  • x2 Infantry Units @ 2pts each
  • x3 Heavy Weapons Units @ 3pts each
  • Total: 15pts
Above you see the same four-man fireteams acting as Infantry Units as well as a two-man Command Unit (this time a captain and his protocol droid). Although there's three Heavy Weapons Units, there's two different flavors. Two of them are two-man units, a SAW gunner and his loader. The third Heavy Weapon Unit is a solitary sniper (seen up front). Although the stats are the exact same, the feel is totally different and as the rules state, those differences only come out in the after action reports and off world bureaucratic inquiries.

Once in-system the Kings still couldn't raise the planet on the comms, it was nothing but static. After dropping in atmo, it was readily clear what had happened; the outpost had been bombed from orbit. Detectors still showed life signs on the surface, lots of them.
Since Miller was using the orange deck, he went with the models wearing orange berets. Game setup alternates unit placement with initiative by a random draw off each deck and corresponding card numbers. Your measurements are from the center of the unit to the center of the target.

Most recently our games of the western Piquet variant, PKowboys came to mind immediately. Waiting for your card to move a unit, waiting for that card to assault with a unit, looking for a card to shoot. But this was better as well, because the cards served two purposes; actions and situations. Actions are played on one unit per turn, situations however are the special powers that can be played anytime, even on your opponent's turn.

The real trick is picking which you want more. You might have a a card that has the excellent 'Opportunity Fire' (overwatch) Situation, but that might also be the only card in your hand with the 'Move Action'. Hang on to the card and wait to shoot the enemy when they move, or use it now to get that Heavy Weapon unit in firing position? This balance made for a very enjoyable game turn after turn. The cards pack even more info, but the last two facets, combat results and random drift however, are drawn randomly as needed.

In the above pic you've got Miller's power armored troopers (Mechanized Unit) close assaulting my two-man SAW team (Heavy Weapons Unit). The power armor outclassed them and got 'Shaken' as their combat result, since they also attacked my unit in the rear arc, their result was up one, being Mechanized their Firepower Rating was higher than my unit's Protection Rating pushing damage up one more netting two up on the combat result totaling an 'Eliminated' result even though 'Shaken' was originally drawn. Well, my guys out regardless, all I can hope for is some parting damage since close combat is simultaneous. I got a 'Fall Back' and no steps up for damage. They retreated a few steps, but my guys bled out.

I had an Infantry Unit kind of out in the open early on, my mistake. All it took was Miller's Heavy Weapon Unit to zero in on them and fire. Combat Results are random, and there weren't any steps up or down for modifiers, so whatever was drawn would be the result. Dead on, 'Eliminated' came off the deck and I lost the unit. Unluck of the draw!

The Kings hit dirtside fast and hard, trying to raise the PDF on local radio, still no answer. After making visual contact with a patrol they openly approached them, only to be fired upon! Something had gone wrong and the uniforms might be that of the PDF, whoever was wearing them was definitely the enemy. The power armor and SAW gunner of the Kings proved to turn the tide with the rest of the units performing their roles admirably. It was a total route with the mercs suffering very little fatalities. Something was certainly amiss, and further investigation was needed.
The game played fast and was certainly fun. I can see this ruleset being perfect or quick, pick-up games and no-frills set up. It would also shine in a loose campaign, map-based or otherwise, that could be played out over the course of day. The other facet which originally drew me to the game was that anything goes in the unit department, allowing you to use a wide range of whatever you've got on the shelf. The cards were fun to use and the fact that combat results were drawn off the same deck made it so streamlined and perfectly meshed into the overall mechanics.

The cards also represented a lot of fun challenges as to which cards you kept, do you discard, save them for reactions, or use them for actions? So many times I didn't want to use a card because it has a great action on it, but I needed that vital reaction! It made for an open game where the narrative unfolded as the game progressed. I think another go is certainly in order. Enjoy!


  1. Nice work there Mik, glad to see some metal on the table! Sound like the rules satisfied and the minis aren't too shabby either. You're showing me up, now I have to do my solo report ASAP!

  2. You hit the nail on the head, it was very nice to get metal on the table again, thanks.

    Showing you up? Not likely, though you better hurry with that AAR, I've got another Combat Cards game to report on tomorrow!