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.

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.



Monday, December 11, 2017

Zaire 1994

As many of you are aware I am putting together a scenario pack of battles in the Congo.  The central part will be a linked campaign with the French intervention in Kolwezi but there is plenty more action in the Congo.  I finally got my french tracks from QRF so wanted to try them out.  So playtested a multi player scenario which stretches the truth just a little.  There were multiple uprising in Zaire (Mobutu's name for the Congo) during the 90's and several entered teh capital city.  The Zairian 31st Paratrooper Brigade sided with the rebels so often during this decade they were nicknamed "The People's Army" by some and Mobutu canceled their training and new equipment.  What if the paratroopers were successfully enough they actually threatened Mobutu?  Would the French have intervened? The French had forces in Rwanda in the 90's.   So... here the rebels backed by paratroopers storm the palace.  Mobutu has hired several white mercenaries as personal body guards and has his palace guards.  The french have decided to prop him up and are racing to the palace.   Three or Four players can play.

The presidential palace.  The French must enter from the left.
Mobutu with a ceremonial guard and armored car.

Close up

The rebels/paratrooper enter
Meanwhile a roadblock to keep any pesky french at bay!

My QRF IFV shows up but the way is barred

Loyalist armored car goes to work

Paratroopers pinned down

Rebels us numbers to charge the armored car.   Loyalist shooting is poor.

Bad time to be in an armored car!

Meanwhile, the french have to clear the building to clear the road
They succeed but it takes precious time!

The rebels enter the palace.  Mobutu and his body guards retreat upstairs.  The palace guard fight briefly then split!

Things are not looking good for Mobutu and his guards!  But wait!  They hear renewed gunfire outside the palace.  The French have arrived and are battling the paras outside. 

The LRAC goes after the tank.  It bounced but caused the tank to flee; almost as good!

The french charge the palace but are driven back with 3 wounded.  They retreat to an apartment building overlooking the palace grounds.  There will be no rescue without an additional french squad.

Emboldened the rebels charge up the stairs ( house rule no more than 5 men can charge up at one time).  The fighting is fierce but the rebels are driven back down the stairs with Mobutu sustaining a light wound.   Mobutu is saved for the time being and tactically it is a win for Mobutu and the guards.  The french and rebels both lose ( The palace guards draw).  Strategically it is a draw as whoever reinforces first will win.

Great game!  Will give the french player either an armored car or a second squad next time.




Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Al Kut A Big solo battle

Finally got all but one of my vehicles that I ordered from QRS.  4 of them were for my Iraqi army and 1 was for my american.  Vehicles are easy to knock out so a week later they were done and I wanted to get them on the table.  One of FoF scenario books ( Road to Baghdad ) had a scenario on a marine attack into the city of Al Kut.  It was a large scenario and I never would have attempted it with Combat Patrol as it would have bogged down.  Since I switched to FoF for everything but infantry fire resolution I wondered if it was too big for FoF solo.  I normally play about 2 squads per side ( 25ish figures per side) and 2-5 vehicles total.  This is a nice force that I can easily keep track of and can finish in 90 minutes or less of actual playing time.  This was 80 figures total with 10 vehicles! I was going large!   I decided to sub in my marine platoon from Platoon Forward.  This was to be their third battle.  1st squad has Sgt Jack.  His is a Gr II leader and the squad has full confidence in his ability so their morale is +1.
Sgt Jack sat next to the Lt as Capt Jackson explained their next op.  It sounded tough.  The battalion was to attack into Al Kut to pin the Iraqis in place so the rest of the marines go swing west and move onto Baghdad.  Jack would rather be doing the swinging than urban fighting with some ragheads but marines do as they are told.  Capt Jackson said resistance was suppose to be heavy. The platoon was to take and hold an intersection. They would have 2 tanks in support.  Rules of engagement were loose but nothing heavier than MGs could be directed at religious buildings.
Lt DeClines   Annapolis grad     Sensible/ wealth         Gr I
Just Jack 1st Sq      mechanic          Jovial/ position     Gr II       +2
Cpl Koke  1st Fireteam  race car driver (junior)  addict/thrills   Gr 0
Cpl Fast Jones 2nd Fireteam  inept   religion             Gr 0
LCpl Betts     acting leader 3rd fireteam                    Gr 0
Sgt Lee          3rd squad           Gr II

Al Kut intersection.  Baath HQ has the Iraqi flag in front.  I think it is one of the best boards I have put down.  ( Probably still 2 buildings short.  Maybe Christmas?)  Lt DeClines plan is to have 1st squad attack appartment building closest to camera and 3rd attack across gas station into the other one.  Secure both buildings then push across the street. 

Cool Billboard!
Those Iraqi are such cut ups!  Pre battle picture of the 3 officers posing in front of party HQ.  Irregular officer waving to his mom and Republican guard officer threatening to shoot the cameraman.  Such jokesters!

A view down the cross street.

Koke enters with his team

Jack enters with the rest of 1st Squad towards the apartments.

FOF has some great rules for the destruction of buildings.  They are probably a bit generous but in 20 years of playing I have had 3 buildings destroyed until FOF.  So you could say I am due.   Our tank fires at the apartment building several times and.....

it is now freely air conditioned!!!!!!  The Iraqi squad runs for the HQ.  (They will actually keep running soon.)

After 2 turns....   Cpl Koke is in the near building sniping across the street.  1st squad is ready to enter the apartments.  The 1st tank will move up to support 1st squad.  Lt and the MMG will move up to the next phase line.  3rd squad was surprised by resistance in the gas station.  Sgt Lee lost his track but cleared the building with no casualties.  He now is lagging behind however.

Our tank moves up to engage a LMG in the factory and a T-55.  The T-55 did manage to get a shot off.

The marines continue to bring assests up and are deciding when to cross the road when over the net and in the air there is a load noise!  ( cool random event!)

Yea for airpower.  

Emboldened Jack charges again with his track as cover. RPGs mercifully bounce off the track; the fighting is fierce and quick.  No bad guys surrender so 6 go to Allah and the squad sustains 1 Lt wound. Jack takes the Baath HQ!  At this point they heard crying; no it is not some sailor! It is a woman and her son held prisoner in the HQ undoubtedly for some unamerican reason. ( 2nd cool random event)   
Jack rescues a Mom and her lad!  They lose a turn but it was worth it!

Now I have my third cool random event that I carried over from Platoon Forward.  It is called a "leadership check".  It represents imperfect situational awareness of your little guys on the battlefield.  This occurs to Koke who is with his fireteam facing the factory.   After seeign the rest of the squad successfully charge HQ he decides...

The proper NCO action is to charge the factory!  The trailing marine takes a Lt wound crossing the street but they make it.

Sgt Jack questioning if Koke has lost his mind!

Koke makes it into the factory where there are no enemy on the ground floor.  Jack sees his CPL dash across the street and curses.  He doesn't know how many people are in the factory.  It hasn't been softened up yet.  It could easily be a hornets nest. He has 8 marines in HQ including 1 WIA.  He tells Cpl Fast Jones to keep his fireteam here and wait for the LT.  He also leaves the wounded man from Betts fireteam and take Betts and one other marine with him to go save Koke.  As he enters the factory he hears sounds of battle and fears he is too late.  As he peers around the corner he see 3 marines up including Koke and 5 Arabs down.  Koke got lucky!  He will give him an ass chewing later!
Great battle!  Fun that played a little long (2 hours) but FOF clearly managed all the toys solo.
Post battle Capt Jackson is impressed with Sgt Jack.  He probably would have gotten a medal but he just got a Bronze star last battle!  He is certainly riding high.  Cpl Koke gets his chewing and his fireteam is not impressed as they lose confidence in him.  Their morale drops to Normal if he is leading.  No NCO comes into 3rd fireteam and Betts does not get promoted.
Really fun and have to admit thing the modeling is improving.  I just like looking at the figures on the table.