Combat Patrol Overview

Combat Patrol(TM): WWII is a set of rules for playing miniature wargames from WWII to the present; although, there are free supplements that adapt the rules to other historical periods, and they have been used for WWI and the Napoleonic Wars. Combat Patrol (TM) features the G.A.M.E.R.(TM) engine.  G.A.M.E.R.(TM) is a unique skirmish system in which cards are used not just for activation but for all aspects of combat resolution and melee.  No dice are used to resolve combat.  Over three years were spent in development.  The result is a system that flows smoothly and supports many-player gamers.

The ebb and flow in his system give the feel of fast paced firefights; as combatants fire, duck, rise up, and fire again.  

“Cpl. Smith ran up to the wall and crouched down to fire his rifle. A near miss hit the wall by his head and showered his face with small bits of rock.  He ducked down behind the wall and exhaled sharply. “That was too close,” he thought.   He braced himself, took a deep breath, and rose slowly back up over the lip of the wall to fire….” 

Chris Palmer

A Operation Sea Lion game with the Germans attacking the small coastal village of Little Basely by the Sea.

Unique features of Combat Patrol(TM): WWII are:

  • 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!
  • 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(TM) 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 Gutslevel of the unit or its leader.

  • The G.A.M.E.R.(TM) engine name is an acronym for the attributes which describe figures in Combat Patrol(TM): 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.  This 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.  This is a good compromise ground scale between extreme range being 12 inches and the games resembling Agincourt and ranges that are in scale with the figures where short range covers the entire table.

A Poland 1939 game using Combat Patrol(TM): WWII

“These rules are very good, and the writer has presented what I think are one of the best skirmish systems I’ve seen for a long time…  These might be one of the truly outstanding sets of skirmish rules you will play!”

— Eoghan Kelly, Wargames Soldiers & Strategy, Issue 85, June 2016


The Winter War, 1939 Finland, using Combat Patrol(TM): WWII

You can begin playing almost immediately.  The quick start guide is only eight pages long.  The rest of the illustrated rule book provides rules for vehicles, indirect fire, flame throwers, and other options.  There is even a scenario that can be played with just the basic rules.  You are likely to find more detailed games, but you are unlikely to find a system that is smoother and faster without becoming overly simplistic.

A battle in the Pacific using Combat Patrol(TM): WWII

There was a very nice review and battle report of a Mexican Punitive Expedition game using Combat Patrol(TM): WWII post on the Lead Adventure Forum site. Read it here.