Welcome to Platoon Forward!

Welcome to the site where the story of the battle is as important as the battle itself. Here we will focus on men thrust into extraordinary situations of life and death. They must lead other men with duty and honor to meet their countries objectives. Some will be blessed with great skill, some will carry great shortcomings. No matter what nation, no matter what war, no matter what theater, they are all called to move their Platoon or Squadron forward!

These are their individual stories as played out using my various campaign rules . Hopefully these stories will entertain and inspire you to use your own troops, airmen and sailors to accomplish your own great heroics.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Peter pig watch tower/ Ruf/Puf base attack

Finally painted up a watch tower I bought from Peter Pig over a year ago.  I have always liked Martin's stuff as it is good quality for a fair price.  It can be challenging for a skirmish gamer because if I need 1 bazooka man I have to buy a pack of 8 so I normally get my weapon teams elsewhere.  But for bulk forces and leaders ( if skirmish games have "bulk forces") his stuff is good and he is my go to for infantry.  ( I confess I like Flashpoint for Vietnam as well.)
I think my modeling/painting skills are getting better over time so I tried to trick the tower out.  I added a MG and a tin roof.  The roof is removable to get at the figures.  It is obviously made with cardboard and toothpicks.   I was pretty chuffed with myself.
So to try out the tower I needed a base attack. Force on force has some neat rules for night fighting and rules specific to the vietnam war.  For instance VC function as if they have night vision googles because they are familiar with the terrain and constantly train for night fighting. Thus when I play you really are desperate to get some type of illumination up over your free world troops to help level the playing field.   After all, Charlie owns the night.
IV corp 1969.
A main road through the province has a key bridge that is protected by a small station of regional forces.  The local Viet Cong are going to blow the bridge and conduct a spoiling attack on the compound to cover the activity of the sappers.  Their secondary goals are to destroy the bunker,  flagpole and guard tower.  There is a US marine base not far with 105s on call and QRF available.

 The bridge, station and local environs at night.  VC set up.  ARVN can attempt to spot 3 hexes away as per FoF rules.  Sapper team coming down main road.  VC have two assault teams that will attempt to infiltrate both corners off the secondary road.   There is 2 man security patrol patrolling around perimeter of base for ARVN.

The ARVN station.  My watch tower on the left.  Ironically, the figure in the tower is a Resistant Rooster Japanese soldier painted as ARVN with a soft cap.  Flagpole made from a coffee stirrer. 
   It's the little things like custom dice!

75mm on overwatch waiting for ARVN to react!   They don't. 

The South Vietnamese fail all their spotting rolls so the VC slip into camp.
Sappers planting charges at bridge.
Team two slips through the wire.  You can just see the ARVN patrol walking.  ( Peter Pig figures)

The scene when Arvn finally sounds the alarm.  The patrol at top sees team two in the wire and fires shots.  The guard in the tower shouts a warning but doesn't release his flare before he is pinned down. 
The VC move swiftly.  1 man tackles the flag pole while team one rushes to the tower base. 
Team two storms the bunker!  The 2 man Bar team fight valiantly but they are quickly overwhelmed. 

As bad as the ARVN spotting rolls were the VC set charges roll now become.  In the excitement it becomes much harder to do than in practice!
The ARVN officer gets illumination rounds overhead and accurate fire erupts from the blockhouse. A competent NCO (Gr II) leads a 4 man team out towards the tower.
  The NCO leads his team and they actually push team one back when the VC moral fails.  ( Go figure I played ARVN 6/6 and VC 6/8) 

To make matters worse...
US marines arrive.  Even though a LCpl is shot dead jumping to the ground their fire is accurate and deadly. 
With the sappers done at the bridge Charlie realizes it is time to go home and they pull back.

The withdraw is sped up at the VC keep failing their morale checks.    The bridge blows 10 minutes later!

Fun game with very few casualties.  ARVN lost only 4 KIA, US 1, VC 6.  VC scored 5 points for the bridge plus 2 for the bunker with 7 total for the win.  ARVN picked up 2 a piece for the tower and flag.  In retrospect I either need to have the bridge better guarded with a standing sentry or reduce it's points.  I think I will put a light at both ends and a 2 man team.



Monday, February 19, 2018

Plain of reeds 1952

Finally felt compelled to play Force on Force!  I got a USMC buffalo and USA greyhound for Christmas with the idea of equipping my french/ARVN force in Vietnam.  The french called the Buffalo with the 75mm howitzer the "alligator".  It looks really cool so I felt compelled to paint it up.  I should have bought some weasels which the french called "crabs".  Oh well, next time.
I don't have a french platoon for indochina and didn't roll one up. The french platoons were large with 15 person squads.  I think I will stick to my ARVN platoon long term. I did roll up the backgrounds of the legionnaire NCOs though because they are always interesting.  I didn't roll a scenario and just decided on "Hammer Dawn" straight out of Grunts Forward.  This would be a water borne assault with one squad of ARVN coming in on the side so I could use my new greyhound. 

Mission brief straight out of Grunts Forward:  "Our intelligence has found the enemy!  Your platoon has been selected to make a surprise attack on a rebel hideout.  While destruction of the enemy is important, it they run away another platoon will be there to catch them.  Your job is to capture officers and supplies."

French/ARVN forces
2 squads of 12 men each   1 LMG team and 9 semi automatic rifles.  1 NCO with SMG.  8/10
1st squad SL Gr I french orphaned and joined the legion at 15. ASL  Gr II Dutch ran away from rich parents who didn't even know he was gone. 
2nd squad  SL Gr II french jilted lover   ASL Gr I Welsh  former commonwealth soldier looking for excitement. 
Sous-Lt  Gr III   and medic
1 Alligator
1 80mm mtr across river
1 Arvn squad modeled on french with 12 men including LMG ( BAR)   6/8
Gr II SL     Gr I ASL
1 Greyhound

 A collection of huts too small to have a name on french maps.  Water at the bottom right.   Road top left.   Not only is the enemy unknown in this scenario but there are three target unknowns clustered at the center of the board. They represent caches of equipment and maybe a HQ if we are lucky.  Goal is to get to those as fast as possible!  Lt will move with first squad ( one with the poor SL) across rice paddies towards jungle while squad 2 takes the huts and hill in the center.    Arvn squad will enter and also make for the hill in the center.  ( Lt not counting on ARVN squad.)

 As legionaries approach the fields 3 peasants drop their rakes and pick up guns! 
 Meanwhile the seaborne troops land.
 and move towards the huts.   Fire erupts from the jungle.  1 man goes down. 
 ARVN hears the firering and slows down.
 Meanwhile, in the jungle.   " Load as much rice as you can!  Hurry Comrade!"

 The legionaries make it to the first hut but take 2 casualties.  Resistance is heavy in the "village." 
 Mid battle:   1st squad (left) has made slow progress but with the help of fire from the alligator is carrying the paddies.  The alligator is immobilized from a recoiless shot from the hill on the right.  French mortar fire from across the river drove the rifle team off the hill.  The manuver section of second squad led by our Welshman is in the hut but they are just holding their own.  No thought of advancing towards the hill.  The support section of 2nd squad has been laying down fire into the village. ARVN creeps towards the center hill. 

 1st squad carrying the paddies.  The explosion is from the alligator.  While this looks good for the papers they were held up by 3 peasants (6/8) with bolt action rifles! 

Something a Greyhound can blow up!    A cart full of rice races for freedom.   The greyhound missed but ARVN rifle fire convinced the drivers to bail out. 

 Cool random event gave the french a vehicle reinforcement.   So I chose....  ( sorry about the river edge, I didn't even notice that during the game, fancy that.)
 The 2 surviving members of the VM recoiless rifle crew see the rivercraft.  Too good a target to pass up.
 Bullseye!   ( It sank the craft but after the game I realized I used stats for a 75mm rifle ( medium) not a 57mm rifle which I presume would be light.  I guess it was a lucky critical hit. 
 The french officer comes over to see what is taking second squad so long... ( Plus another shot of my cool alligator!)
The French get to the rice cache and fire at the retreating VM.  The two peasants in the background are entering a tunnel to escape. 

A lot of fun!   I actually had to remember how to play FoF as I hadn't played since November.  Technically this was a french win as they prevented the rice from leaving but they were slow and ironically it was ARVN that stopped the rice.   French had 3 KIA, 1 seriously wounded IH and 1 WIA.  The river craft was sunk ( I guess) and the alligator damaged.  The VM had 6 KIA.  Great fun and am thinking of using ARVN marines as they used french equipment including the alligator.  For those of you that want to try this Platoon Forward generated the following forces:
VM regulars 8/10
1 squad of 9 with semi automatic weapons.  1 SL Gr III
1 LMG team
1 half squad of 5 men  Gr I leader
2 snipers
1 57mm recoiless rocket team
Irregulars 6/8
2 security teams on alert at start with 3 men each. 



Saturday, February 10, 2018

Chariots in SAGA

Sorry for the delay in posting.    Real life has kept me busy.   Have gotten in a few games of Wing Leader and am still enjoying it.  Have been painting up some Picts for Saga.  [ for those of you that are waiting for modern stuff, I have on my table 3 East German T-55s but my first attempt at East German camouflage looks off so I am trying to figure out why.] 
Back to SAGA.  I wanted to incorporate chariots as more than just taxis.  Earlier in Britain and Gaul they gave the Romans some problems and they look cool.  In my reading it appears the light chariots would ride up and harrass the legions with javalins and this was very effective.  When both sides closed the primary would dismount and fight on foot.  If he needed to escape the chariot would magically arrive to wisk him away.  Caesar accounts that the chariots were good in all kinds of terrain and could charge up hills with ease.  Now before someone shouts, "ahistorical" may I remind you that SAGA currently has rules for packs of trained attack dogs!  My thoughts on rules for chariots with SAGA:
1.  Costs 1 point and you get an elite unit of 4 chariots.  They are armed with javelins but are trained in melee as well.  They move as mounted units but suffer no adverse affects from uneven terrain similar to camels.  A warband is limited to 1 unit of chariots.
2.  AC is 5 for shooting and Melee.
3. They generate 2 dice in melee and 1 for shooting.  If they shoot the target unit will automatically sustain 1 fatigue regardless of casualty generation ( or not).  [ This simulates their tactics of softening up the Romans with javelins which apparently was unnerving.]
4.  If the chariots disengage from melee they get to move "L".

So... how did it go?

5 point battle with Picts engaging the Romans at the edge of a settlement.  Also wanted to use my Maniballista.  Here I changed a rule so it activates as an elite unit but takes 3 fatigue to exhaust as do all units. ( SAGA v2)

Star of the show for today!  4 chariots is too crowded so each stand counts as 2.

Co-star of the show.  Rocks are my fatigue markers. 
Picts advance while the Roman cavalry move up to try to neutralize the chariots. 
With the Romans jittery the Picts attack.  they are slightly embarrassed that their bases aren't painted yet.  The result is mutual destruction.

The Roman Calvary drive off the chariots; destroying one.  [ actually the soldiers are dismounting here to fight but it is more practical to just leave the chariots on the table.]

Unfortunately for the Romans, the Pictish horsemen are fresh and destroy the Romans! 

The Romans are now left with one group of legionaires (warriors) some skirmishers and their cool big crossbow.  ( which actually did well as it was able to fire at the advancing Picts because we gave it a good long field of fire.}  The Picts still have 3 chariots which can run circles around the legion, horsemen and 1 group of warriors...

This is not good!!!

I thought the game played well.  SAGA is always fun; it clearly is a game not a simulation. My modern squads would love to have the command and control that my SAGA commander has.   Since I know little about the dark ages it doesn't bother me. 
I think the chariot rules worked well and they are not too strong.  I like that they generate the fatigue as it is different and I believe it reflects what occurred.  Once you get them in melee they are nothing special.  Couple more plays will tell.  If anyone else uses these rules please give me some feedback.

Promise I will get to either Europe or Iraq soon!




Tuesday, January 9, 2018

something completely different--Wing Leader

Hope everyone had a great holiday and a happy New Year.  Very busy time for me with family and work.  Not much chance to game; did get one game of SAGA in with my son which I really enjoyed.  I believe he was humoring me to play it but I will take it!

I was the Picts raiding past the wall.

Skirmishing with Roman Cavalry.

Ah the Cataphracts!  The King Tigers of their day!

It came down to a slogging match between infantry and the Picts won!

I visited with my brother over the holiday.  He only plays boardgames.  I have been looking at a grand tactical aerial game called Wing Leader by GMT.  I bought it hoping we could play during my visit.  I was intrigued as each counter is a squadron but you track individual losses.
I bought it; we played and had fun and have to say I am still enjoying it.  It is one level up from "individual skirmish" such as Bag the Hun or CY6.  You lose some of the detail at this scale but you gain a different perspective on the missions and have to make different decisions.  I still think some of the aircraft could be better differentiated and the bombing table appears so realistic as to be a waste of time; both issues I am tackling.  Also I am modifying Squadron Forward for this level as this game is screaming for it-- I can't wait.  My big decision right now is whether  to put the player as the group commander ( despite the name that is really the players role in the game normally.) or as the wing commander.
Here is a quick run through of a game from the weekend.

China 1944.   2 squadrons of Peggy bombers are bombing a US base.  They are escorted by 3 squadrons of Oscar IIs and a flight of Franks.  ( Out of a whole squadron they could only get 4 running today as the initial Franks had huge problems with their engines.)  14th AF scrambles 2 squadrons of P-51Bs and a squadron of P-40s.  2 squadrons of P-40s are vectored in from elsewhere to help with defense.  I rolled for weather ( modified from Squadron Forward) and got dense clouds and a whiff of scattered clouds. 
As you can see the game takes place from the side and the counters are gorgeous.  I rolled for squadron status as per Squadron Forward.

Americans climbing to intercept.   Due to weather and the reliance on ground spotters they had a 33% chance of having their vector off and it was.  ( too high and to the left)

The mustangs and the Franks miss each other in the clouds.  The Warhawks find the bombers but only down one.

Franks to the rescue!   4 Franks (vets with 1 ace) against 16 warhawks ends up with both sides losing one!!  Daddy I want a Frank to fly!  A cool thing this game takes into consideration is cohesion of the squadron after the encounter.  Squadrons get strung out and planes damaged and become less effective therefore you have to pick your battles.  All squadrons hang tough.

So, the warhawks want to go after the bombers; the franks want to protect the bombers.  You can attempt to embroil your foe in a dogfight which fixes him in the spot.  Tough decision here; franks are outnumbered 4:1- do you tie up all the fighters or try to pick off just one squadron at better odds?  Would never have to make that decision in my tactical game.   The Franks decide to sell themselves dearly  and manage to tie up all the warhawks as the bombers proceed to the target.  Cool!   They succeed in their goal but lose 2 more while only downing more 1 warhawk.

The target.     Unfortunately perfectly safe from a level bomber given the number of negative modifiers the Peggy's got from bombing at 12K feet.  I understand bombing was inaccurate; I also understand an airfield is a big target- you think we would have hit something!  Even one bomb on a reserve taxiway would have boosted our Frank pilots morale!  ( Lee, seriously we have to  work on this.  This is a way better story if the Peggy's damaged the airfield!  :  )   )

Here is the status board at the end of the battle.  I think you can get a flavor for some of the detail in the game.
I haven't played a board game in 2 years but I am really enjoying Wing Leader.  Despite my complaints ( which are minor ) Lee has done a great job with this game.  I originally planned on converting this to miniatures but the counters look so good that I haven't felt the need to so far.  The thing that might push me there is being limited by the counter mix of planes that come with the game.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Release the Hounds Version 2

My Coastal rules "Release the Hounds" has been dormant for a year now.  ( Several people have asked about them on TMP and I have chickened out and not answered.)  I was done with them but couldn't get around to publishing them.  Something was bothering me.  I was finally honest with myself; the end game dragged.  Don't get me wrong, no worse than other sets I have played but there were still too many misses, too many calculations when the shots hit.  I thought I had streamlined it but apparently not enough.  I loved the searching, initial contact and the command and control.  But once you decided to either hammer away or chase it dragged.
Now part of this is my understanding of naval combat.  Despite first hand accounts hits are rare and while you can have the catastrophic hit, you still wear down the enemy through attrition.  So I want the odd critical hit with a massive fire or flooding but I have to account for attritional damage.  I also hate hull boxes and the like; minimal bookkeeping!
I had a eureka moment while reading a book about the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. ( Go figure!)  I still keep a familiar "to hit" sequence since it is quick but once you hit calculations are non existent.  If you don't hit, which happens often, you are done; either way it has been much quicker and has not dragged in my 3 mini playtests.   So now here is my report of a full blown game complete with unknown forces for the german player.   I didn't add characters because I am still concentrating on mechanics of the rules; mainly the combat routine, as I am happy with everything else.

1944 Off the Coast of Occupied Holland.   Visibility 3Kyrds Sea state 2 ( didn't want to confuse things even though I rolled a sea state 3)

British on Interception patrol with 2 MTBs and 1 Elco 77 MTB    All Average crews and leaders


German forces are 1 M 40 Minesweeper, 2 Merchants and 1 "B" blind and 4 "C" blinds.

Starting out each turn is approximately 2 minutes and each hex is 200 yards.  British enter bottom right.  First blind in range is middle of the board.

First blind through the dark night becomes....

A R-boat! 

British engage the R-Boat.   Lead MTB rolls independent action and decides to take out the minesweeper.  ( not a bad thought actually)  Merchantmen not sighted yet. 

2nd "C" blind on the starboard side gets upgraded and revels a KFK.  Slow but better armed than the early R-boats.

At this point; 10 minutes into the engagement the first R-boat is wreaked.  The KFK is moving up to support.  A r-boat from the far side is ready to engage.  #2 and 3 boats are moving forward looking for merchants.  #2 has taken some damage and it's forward 2 pounder is disabled.  #1 is ready to launch torpedoes at the minesweeper.  He has missed the 4 inch guns so far. 

MTB #1 releases 2 fish at the Minesweeper.  They go undetected but miss!

A lucky hit starts a fire on one of the Rahm boats.

16 minutes into the action.  #2 and 3 have sighted the merchantman and are headed their way.  The German escorts are trying to stop them.  #1 is now turning away from teh minesweeper.

#2 takes his shot!

A glancing blow!  heavy damage and flooding only!  Still aircraft should find her in the morning.

The Elco from 2K yrds out does better.  Wreaked with flooding and a fire.  Damage control puts out the fire but not the flooding.  She sinks an hour later!

Heading for home!   The elco turns on the speed.   #2 is caught and shredded by multiple 20mm guns from various ships.  She stops and will eventually sink.  #1 ( not pictured) has heavy damage and a fire from a near miss from a 4 inch shell.  She manages to put out the fire and sneak away. 

Final tally
British lose 1 Dogboat with 1 heavily damaged.  I Elco damaged
Germans 1 medium Merchant sunk, 1 Small merchant wrecked, 1 R-boat sunk, 1 R-boat wrecked, 1 KFK damaged

More importantly the game played smooth the whole time and didn't bog down.  Combat might be a tad deadly but for small boats I think that is okay.   Will need some more playtesting and will have to have some Destroyer action to see how it scales up but so far so good.