Last Saturday, May 19th, the Mass Pikemen held a gaming session in East Brookfield, MA. We were fortunate to have a fun game using the Combat Patrol™ card-based rules system – which I have adapted for use in retro sci-fi games using fun Old School miniatures. The ones here were from Archive Miniatures and Team Frog. The scenario involved an attack by the Mark III Warbots (two squads) on the peace-loving amphibian F.R.O.G. Commandos, who were once again defending their sacred pond from enemy desecration. This time, the Warbots brought along two new troop additions. One was another Archive Miniatures Juggerbot to act as the Warbot’s Platoon Sergeant. This improved command and control in support of the previously existing Juggerbot platoon leader. Secondly, this marked the first deployment for the death-dealing, flame-throwing giant robot known as Roberker.
The F.R.O.G. Commandos defended their pond’s enclosure with a couple of squads and the heavy weapons section, including the Dread FROGBOT.
In addition to our experienced players, we had a couple of new players, Mike Morgan and Chris Comeau, who quickly picked up on the Combat Patrol™ system.
The Frogs quickly moved to counter the Warbot’s movements. The Dread FROGBOT with its short cannon and two chain guns arrived at the defensive outer wall, and was able to get off a couple of bursts, damaging several Warbots. However, the Warbots effectively closed and used a devastating plasma breaching weapon against the FROGBOT. Even though the fire was off center slightly, the FROGBOT’s left side was basically vaporized. Undaunted, the Frogs kept up their spirited defense with their assault rifles, holding the line.
A little to the Frog’s left, Roberker advanced and took fire, but not before spraying flaming death from its two nozzle arms. Several Frogs were fricasseed, but Roberker took several hits as he advanced.
Then the Frogs made a bold jet pack assault focusing on the golden Juggerbot platoon leader. They managed to damage the leader, however they actually killed two of their own in the crossfire as shown below. However, this proved to be a critical move on the Frog’s part.
One of the modifications that I make to the Combat Patrol™ rules in retro sci-fi games is to have robots use the South Pacific Japanese decks, which have different morale results. The golden Juggerbot platoon leader, having been wounded, now had to make a morale check. Amazingly (and against all odds) he pulled the card that said the leader was shamed – and commits hari kiri – is destroyed, and is removed from the game. This pinned all of the attackers, reducing their advance significantly. Some of the Warbots, like the purple squad on the other side of the tabletop (played by Ellen Morin) did manage to rally, but it was a big turning point in the game.
Another interesting action at the end was the brave individual attack on Roberker by the F.R.O.G. leader, Captain Frog, armed with only a Frog Blade and a pistol. Captain Frog jet packed into hand-to-hand combat with Roberker, and despite the stiff odds, beat the giant robot. As Roberker was already severely damaged from the previous assault rifle fire of the Frogs, Captain Frog’s actions took out Roberker.
(This proved again the Buck Surdu theory that the first time a figure gets on the tabletop that it gets whacked!)
On the other end of the table, the purple Warbot squad made significant advances away from the other carnage, and were able to use their plasma ball breacher (in this case a ball of high energy plasma) to fire at the defenders. Even though the fire was slightly errant, as shown below, one Frog was vaporized, and the fence breached.
At this point, the game was called. Clearly, I believe the Warbots were going to make it to the pond, but the F.R.O.G. Commandos defense was truly spirited and exemplary!
We are looking forward to the next Mass Pikemen Gaming Club session on June 23rd!
Thanks for looking – please share your feedback below in the comments section.
Finding a gaming convention that is close by to my home has been somewhat frustrating for me over the last few years. Since I returned to the hobby, I have attended a few BARRAGE events in Maryland , but that’s it.
Imagine then that there was a con 15 miles from my home AND that they have been having it for 34 years (and I never knew!). The event was the three-day (Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday) HAVOC convention, run annually by Battlegroup Boston. This year was HAVOC XXXIV, and I learned of it through the New England Wargame Groups List page on FaceBook. It ran from April 6-8, and I am really glad that I could attend, but it was a last-minute decision. I was also hoping to let folks know about our group, The Mass Pikemen’s Gaming Club in Central Massachusetts.
In this blog, first I’ll discuss the two games I ran, then share some photos and eye candy of some of the convention.
I managed to get 7 players for the game, which was great. I did not get as many pictures as I would have liked as I was running the game. The players really had a great time and there was a lot of action. No one had ever seen these figures before, and the mass of the Mark 1’s surprised them all! I used a number of Armorcast sci-fi structures as well on the board, and they worked great.
While all this was going on, the Warbots on the right closed with the Robo-Sentry guns and the Star Ducks defending the wall. In this game, I have the Warbots use the Japanese Combat Patrol™ deck, which has different morale results. A morale card result caused one Warbot team to make a Banzai charge at the last surviving Robo Sentry gun, which was jammed. This enabled the Star Ducks to hit the team with direct fire. When the Banzai charge was over, another morale check caused this same team to flee the game, stifling this assault. The Frinx just got their captured tank fixed as the game was out of time. Due to the casualties inflicted by the Warbots, I called the game a draw. The players all were highly excited by the game and loved the ease of use of the Combat Patrol™ decks for all aspects of the game.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, my game was nominated for the “Al Award”. From the HAVOC website, this is “presented for the game with the most stunning visual appeal. Our crack team of experts (expert team of cracks) will vote on the game that made us say “Wow!”.” I was honored to be nominated, but even more so to win! Thanks so much for this to Battlegroup Boston! A great con it was to be sure – and I felt very welcome here by all the club members.
The second game I ran was on Sunday, which was “GO FROGS RIBBIT – STOP THE BUGS”. It was a battle between the F.R.O.G. Commandos (with Star Duck reinforcements) and two Archive Star Rovers foes – the aforementioned Aphids and the Hurraku Space Phraints. So, basically, it was insectivores versus insects, albeit big bugs. The Frogs were defending a wooded area between two rivers and specifically their sacred pond. The insects’ objective was to seize the pond, and to dispatch as many amphibians as possible along the way with extreme prejudice.
I ended up with four players for this game – one for each attacking bug side on opposite sides of the board. Star Ducks would reinforce the Frogs as a special event card was pulled during the game. The Frogs would use the regular decks, while the bugs would use the Japanese decks. The Space Phraints also had a Sith. Here again, the players quickly adapted to the Combat Patrol™ deck. All were new to the game.
The Aphids got into the fray first with their Grav Cycles, while the Aphid infantry and the Space Phraints advanced.
The Aphids however did effectively draw the Frogs to their attack, weakening the side facing the Hurraku Space Phraints. This would have consequences.
At this point, the Hurraku gambled and turned the tide of battle. Linda (the Hurraku player) decided to take advantage of her Sith’s power of “Rage”. This ability causes a Banzai attack. This also removes all stun markers from her troops while they charge at the enemy and engage solely in hand-to-hand combat (or just melee as we are talking about bugs and Frogs). The Hurraku also all have the same activation number until the banzai charge ends, resulting in a true mass attack. Here (in melee) the Hurraku have an advantage as they are very tough fighters. They also move fast normally, and the “Rage” improves that movement by a factor of two.
At this point, a Star Duck squad jet packed in as reinforcements, but it was not enough. They jet-packed in to defend the pond.
The players here had a good time and were good sports. The tide swung from one side to the other. In the end, the “Rage” Banzai charge was decisive.
I will now share some photos of the two games I played on Saturday morning and afternoon (I did not play Saturday night). I played a Bolt Action scenario run by Friedrich Helisch. The scenario was a 1941 German attack on a Russian-held village. David Shuster was on the Russian side, while Friedrich and I played the Germans. This was my first try at Bolt Action.
This was a points-based game, and our taking of the second building allowed us to win by 1 point, so it was very close. As for the rules, I am on the fence, but more than willing to try them again at some point in the future.
The second game I played was a Gaslands scenario. I had heard this was an interesting game and thought I’d try it out. In this game you get so many points to choose and arm 2-3 vehicles (performance car, regular car, and pickup truck). The goal is to run over (3 points) or shoot (1 point) pedestrians (in homage to Death Race 2000) instead of the usual zombies on the game board. You can attack your opponents, but their destruction does not get you points (you do eliminate the competition). The movement is very much like X-Wing.
I played with two other players, who chose to max out two vehicles, while I did three lesser-armed vehicles. I chose to go after the competition and eventually had one of two vehicles to be the last on the tabletop. However, at this point the game masters deploy invulnerable Monster trucks to hunt you down and end the game. I just missed my last pedestrian which would have tied me for first. The game masters (Michael Eichner and Erich Eichner) did a nice job, and this was a fun game. The table looked great too.
I thought that I should share some photos of the rest of the con. I did not get to see as much as I would have liked, but there were a lot of very cool games. Kudos to all the folks at Battlegroup Boston, as well as the GM’s and players! Please share your thoughts in the comments section – thanks for reading this blog!
In the spirit of bringing more miniatures back from the commercial grave, I happily share with you my latest project – a F.R.O.G. Commandos platoon. This unit consists of 40 figures. All of them except 1 figure were made of metal. In the Critter Commandos universe, F.R.O.G. stands for “Federated Republics of GreenEarth”, one of several cartoon nations created by the Team Frog founder, Paul Arden Lidberg. None of these are currently available commercially.
The unit also includes a Frogbot (Crittertek). This project also enabled me to participate in a painting challenge “Squad March” put out by Azazel on his blog. This contest required a unit of at least 3 figures, and I am sure that this one qualifies! It did take up the month of March for sure.
I was able to do this because I managed to get another box of F.R.O.G. Commandos from Chris Palmer at BARRAGE in January. Originally, each box (a re-purposed VHS tape box no less) came with 8 figures and a d10. I had been slowly collecting many different figures from the line, but Chris’ addition of 8 frogs allowed me to create a platoon for Combat Patrol™.
I managed to successfully finish my project just in time for the end of March. I had come across figures from the Critter Commandos line, which was initially put out sometime between the late 1980’s and early 1990’s by the Team Frog Studios company. Later, the figures were also marketed by Nightshift Games. The figures are all creations of the late Steve Lortz, who also made the Star Ducks and other figures for Archive. I just love his stuff, they are a lot of fun. Also, when I was at West Point, I was in company F-4, whose mascot was a Frog (GO FROGS RIBBIT! was our cry). So I had another motivator here as well.
The photo below is what I had assembled for the project. On the top you see the Frogbot, but he was definitely not together as I will discuss later. The miniatures are around 28mm in scale.
So I needed a plan – I decided that I did not want more than 1 figure per fire team to be the same figure, but as you see above, I had a hodgepodge collection. I worked it out as follows – this unit consists of 40 figures:
Command section (2 each – platoon leader and platoon sergeant)
Three full squads (11 each) led by a squad leader each consisting of:
Two teams of 5 (Team Leader and 4 F.R.O.G. Troopers)
1 Heavy Weapons/Recon section consisting of a Section Leader, 3 F.R.O.G. troopers, and a Frogbot.
It took a bit to clean and file all of these figures. They had some casting issues (mainly cracks) that I repaired with kneadatite (green stuff). I then moved on to the Frogbot, which was not a Lortz creation. I had bought it on eBay with a number of other Critter Commandos, and it deserves a few notes.
The kit was incomplete. There was no main gun, but there was a small hole in the front of the main body. Pinning was not possible because the legs were made of some kind of tubing., and the plastic “googly eyes” you see above would not meet my standards. Clearly, there needed to be some changes. First, I filed the main chassis down to remove as many casting crevices as possible. I then got a short bolt extender, and patiently reamed out the small hole to affix the extender as a main gun for the model.
Then I needed to make it look, well, froggy. The eyes were an issue, so I bought some cheap beads at Michael’s. Using some dollhouse hinge screws that I drilled into the Frogbot chassis as mounts, I affixed the beads as sensors/eyes after reaming them out slightly. Then I carefully glued the rest of the model together.
While I really was happy with the figure, the engineer in me thought that it was too structurally weak. So I used green stuff to reinforce the legs and chain guns, as well as to fill in around the eyes and create a mantlet for the gun.
I was now ready to prime the lot. I used my airbrush to prime the figures. Without going into painting detail here, I will show the figures and the progression of the project. I list the paints I used at the end of this post for those interested.
First, the lot before mounting on 1¼” washers and priming
I decided to give each sub unit its own different amphibian skin color and color for accouterments, while keeping the majority of the uniforms the same. This was to help with tabletop identification.
Command group got greenish skin and red for accouterments
First squad got greenish blue skin and dark blue for accouterments
Second got yellowish green skin and yellow for accouterments
Third squad got bright green skin and purple for accouterments
Heavy Weapons/Recon Section got grayish green skin and orange for accouterments
Once the painting was complete, I used Army Painter “Quickshade” (strong tone) to shade the models, followed by a coat of Vallejo “Matte Varnish”. I then highlighted the models, and then added another coat of varnish with my airbrush. I used Army Painter tufts (Jungle, Swamp, Woodland, and Meadow Flowers) to further assist in tabletop differentiation.
There were 8 different poses plus the Frogbot, so here are some front and back poses. You can see some of the differentiating features here as well.
I am very happy with this project, and hope that you enjoyed it as well.
My wife (for putting up with me during this project – again)
Chris Palmer – for the box and inspiration!
Buck Surdu – for the inspiration and some old paints from Polly S
Dave Wood – for starting me on this hobby back when we were roomies
All my readers – for inspiring me and sharing their feedback!!
PAINTS AND FLOCKING USED:
Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
Vallejo “Camouflage Olive Green”
Vallejo Model Air “Aluminum”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Green”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Deep Green”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Yellow Fluorescent”
Vallejo Game Air “Sick Green”
Vallejo Game Air “Beastly Brown”
Vallejo Game Air “Black”
Vallejo “Dark Blue”
Vallejo “Neutral Gray”
Vallejo Model Air “Steel”
Polly S “Interior Green”
Vallejo Model Air “Black”
Citadel “Retributor Armour”
Vallejo Game Air “Sun Yellow”
Vallejo “US Dark Green”
Citadel “Yriel Yellow”
Citadel “Imperium Primer”
Vallejo “Glaze Medium”
Vallejo “Thinner medium”
Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
Citadel “Waywatcher Green”
Citadel “Coelia Greenshade”
Citadel “Athonian Camoshade”
Citadel “Fire Dragon Bright”
P3 “Sulfuric Yellow”
P3 “Red Ink”
Vallejo “Yellow Green”
Vallejo “Sunny Skin Tone”
Vallejo Game Air “Moon Yellow”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Purple”
Vallejo Game Air “Escorpena Green”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Green”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Purple”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Green”
Vallejo Mecha Color “Green Blue”
Vallejo Model Air “Copper”
Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”
Vallejo Model Air “Medium Gunship Gray”
Polly S “WWII German Armor Dark Brown”
Vallejo “Japanese Uniform WWII”
Citadel “Nuln Oil”
Polly S “Venetian Dull Red”
Vallejo Model Air “Wood”
Army Painter “Quickshade – Strong Shade”
Vallejo “Matt Varnish”
Citadel “Stirland Mud”
Citadel “Lustrian Undergrowth”
Polly S “British Brown Drab”
Army Painter “Woodland Tufts”
Army Painter “Swamp Tufts”
Army Painter “Jungle Tufts”
Army Painter “Meadow Flowers”
Thanks again – please share your thoughts in the comments section!