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.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Kolwezi Part 3

Actually stuck with a project and have playtested my third game of my Kolwezi project.  This is a hostage rescue.  It is historical and thus short, sharp and intense.   It has taken me several plays to get a balance for both sides.  Think you all will like it!

The compound.

The French hear voices!

A quick attack to free the hostages.

The trick is to balance both sides so there is a chance for french success but it is still in doubt.  I think I have it but a couple more play throughs will confirm.  This will be one scenario where you won't roll for the enemy as the balance is too tight to be left to chance.

Of course I also had to play something else.  This time it was SAGA.  While ahistorical I am always pleasantly surprise by how much fun it is to play SAGA.  Almost every time the winner is not decided until the very end.

My new Cataphract unit

It is hard to beat for sheer spectacle of forces.  
Huns and Byzantines above.

That is all I have for now



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kolwezi part 2

Greetings.  Staying true to form about bouncing around from era to era and project to project I finally playtested my second scenario for my Kolwezi campaign.  This is about 3 company of the French Foreign Legion Paratroopers who dropped into Kolwezi, Zaire in 1978 to re take the town from rebels.  This will be 4 linked scenarios using Grunts Forward.  Scenario 1 is Hotel Impala posted in January of this year.  You will take your squad through all 4 missions.   My squad did well in scenario 1 and now they are tasked with sealing off the New Town.  I picked this action to depict because the platoon ran into 3 armored cars and had to drive them away.  Not often the legion gets to fight armor in Africa!   I played this one twice; once using the new FoF Close Quarters Battle rules I am a playtester for and once using my brew of FOF and Combat Patrol.   Characters:
Lt Bourgain  son of successful business man proving himself.   Idealistic/ Pleasure   Gr I leader
Sgt Popov   Russian, ex soldier and mercenary    Condescending/ wealth  Gr I leader   squad +1 towards him
Cpl Smyrnoi  Bosnian, unemployed and needed a job   Conformist/ violin   Gr O leader
2nd Sq leader is Sgt Lesson  French, son of famous actress who didn't even notice he was gone
                 Obnoxious/ food   Gr 0 leader
2 x 10 man squad with one LMG, one LRAC, 6 riflemen and 2 NCOs   FoF 10/10 Combat Patrol I added a green card for the rebels and 2 blue cards for the legion.

Kolwezi.  Old town to the left, new town to the right.   Rebels automatically get 1 AC at start.   Legion start in old town and must prevent the rebels from entering and traversing through old town.
Legion starts with Sgt Popov's squad minus his LRAC team plus Lt Bourgain.

The Lt sets up in the train station (grey building) with the LMG.  Sgt Popov sets up on top of the Bank to cover the elevated walkway.

One legionnaire downstairs in the bank to cover the bridge. 

An AC, gun truck and rebels advance towards the bridge while a sniper tries to clear the bank roof.

A M3 halftrack joins the assault.

The french LMG keeps the rebel infantry advancing slowly.  but the armor is still posing a problem..

The rebels get to the end of the bridge and, though pinned, appear ready to overwhelm the legion in hand to hand with numbers.  Sgt Popov moves down to the ground floor to get ready for the assault.


The LRAC team arrives after finding their rocket launcher (think bazooka) in the equipment bundles.  Their first shot misses but the second...


Sgt Lessons shows up with his squad to reinforce the train station.

A brief interlude occurs when 3 civilians emerge from underneath the bridge and race pass the train station.  ( cool FOF random event!)  Fortunately there are no rebels nearby to take advantage of this.

As a last attempt the rebels finally try the walkway but Sgt Popov stops this cold.
Old Town is saved!!

Great battle.  The squad took 1 serious WIA.  The squad's confidence in Sgt Popov grows and they will now follow him anywhere.  (Morale moves up to 12)   I miss my roll to upgrade his leadership however so he remains a Gr I.  In the next battle the Capt gives the squad an additional LMG.  This will be important as the next battle will be a hostage rescue.  Stay tuned...

For those of you that want to try this out Grunts Forward generated the following
1 AC and guntruck plus 2 squads of rebels + 1 LMG team.  2 additional squads and 1 halftrack came on as reinforcements.  I played 7 turns.  The rebels have to either kill the french or exit old town.




Monday, May 8, 2017

A question of Leadership May 1940

As anyone looking at this blog will know; I can't keep focused on any one thing for long.  That is why my campaign systems are designed the way they are.  For example, I had a yen to use my hawk squadron for some reason so I pulled out the squadron sheet.  After a quick look at my notes I was back with them in France though I hadn't used them in about 2 years. 

Col Renard had a problem.  Not only were the Germans doing very well in their attack against his country but his third Squadron de chasse stunk.  They had been poor since the war started last year.  They were flying the best plane France had and had 4 kills compaired to 6 losses.  They could not intercept bombers.  Their first CO, Capt Durand had been killed early on.  Lt Leroy had taken over and had done so poor Renard had sacked him 2 months ago.  The acting CO Lt Martin showed some promise but it was too early to tell.  Squadron elan was in the toilet as was maintenance. It is a matter of leadership thought Renard.  Today I will lead these men and show them how it is done!
[ the above is a summary of the first 4 missions for the squadron using squadron forward.  As you can see, a lot has happened and these guys stink with -2 cool points.]
Mission:  Strafe newly acquired Luftwaffe airfield.
1 Patrole  ( top cover)
Col Renard  ( Group Commander)   Unsupportive       Jr Ace  St Cyr grad
SLt Challe  Pragmatic/ religion      green       St Cyr grad
Sgt Lisle    Foolhardy/ position    flying demon     1 kill
2 Patrole  ( strafers )
SLt Brun   Pessimistic/ wealth            1 kill     Veteran
Cpl Chief Prideux   idealistic/ revenge     green   2 trucks KIA
Cpl Chief Sharone   cheery/ wealth          green

Col Renard came over early and talked to the whole squadron.  Told them now was Frances most dangerous hour ... blah blah blah.  He realized he wasn't a great speaker but knew he was a great pilot.  These people needed to believe in themselves and needed to start taking out some Germans. 

Three ME 109Es try to bounce Col Renard's hawks.  

Col Renard saw 3 bandits moving in!  His radio was working ( 40% chance) and he ordered 2nd Patrolle to continue to the target.  His Patrolle would delay the bandits.  ( He hoped he was showing his young officers that mission came first.  They must strafe the field.)  
Germans overfly a French town that I recently painted up. 

Renard turned his patrolle around and came at the Germans.  His wingmen held on as he was decisive in his actions and that allowed him a shot.  ( his modifiers for being a junior ace helped as well!)
The Patrolle lines up their shots!

With a flurry of bullets they tore through the German formation.  His victim rolled over and headed to earth.  Sgt Lisle's target actually burst into flames!  [ Will admit it was incredibly lucky die rolls but way cool!] 
Now to catch the last Kraut he orders a climbing half loop.  SLt Challe doesn't have the skill to follow and Sgt Lisle pretends not to so he is free to maneuver.  [ he is foolhardy remember?]
Instead of facing a Patrolle of aircraft Jerry now faces three individual ones including one flown by a novice. 

He maneuvers for one shot before he goes.  Col Renard coming up behind but not fast enough. 

Bullets riddle SLt Challe's plane smashing cables and instruments but amazingly the hawk continues to fly.  The German, with an experienced frenchman above and behind him dives away to fight another day. 

Meanwhile, as the Germans are setting up a forward airstrip an alarm sounds.

The target

2nd Patrolle beating up the field! 

SLt Brun gets one!

2nd pass as they head for home!  Cpl Sharone takes out a 20mm AA gun. 
[ air to ground rules taken from my Brag the Hun Article in one of the specials]

Final event to play out is SLT Challe landing his damaged hawk.  It is badly damaged and he is a green pilot but the hawk is relatively easy to land.  The ground crews hold their breath as SLt Challe nails the landing!  A complete success for the squadron and their group commander.  Airfield operations disrupted, 3 planes destroyed for one damaged.  Truly a question of leadership!  
Post game Sgt Lisle ( now with 2 kills) advances to veteran status.  SLt Challe advances to average status.  The squadron cool goes up 1 to -1.  

Great game and the squadron needed a big win.  For those of you that want to see if you can duplicate their success the Germans had 3 ME 109Es with 2 Veterans and 1 average pilot.  The airfield only had 2 lt AA guns as they were still setting up.   How will the squadron fair with Lt Martin leading them?  The Col knows what can be accomplished and will not tolerate fools for long.  Stay tuned...


Sunday, April 23, 2017

More fun with Lt Ronault

First got a number of games in with my brother who visited me for three days last week.  He is a dedicated board gamer but we converted one of his board games to miniatures.

We played a random scenario from the game and rolled up the board using Platoon Forward.  It worked very well.  It was a Russian attack into a factory.
My brother-- still not realizing miniatures are the way to go!

I was the Russians and we had a good brawl in the factory and in the corn field just outside.  The game lent itself to miniatures and played well.  Each stand was a squad.  While not my usual skirmish scale I enjoyed it and it is always good to share time with him.
He returned the favor and we had a skirmish outside of Tobruk.  My Tommies couldn't get across the open ground and we lost.  It also has caused me to think artillery might be too underpowered in Combat Patrol as my 3in mortar barely caused a ripple in the Italian MG's spaghetti sauce.

Now on the Sails Forward.  Lt Ronault escorted several merchants safely with no contact and was finally rewarded with a promotion.  ( Guess the Commodore reconsidered if he was too harsh about the wine debacle. Either that or it is because I finally finished painting up the cutter HMS Seawitch!)
HMS Seawitch
Ronald is given the HMS Beagle.  ( Forerunner to the real HMS Beagle)  It is a 16 Gun brig armed with 18 12 pounders plus 2 6 pound chasers.   ( for Post Captain players it is the HMS Savage with 12 pounders instead of Cannonades.)
HMS Beagle

He brings his own officers aboard and gets 2 new Lts.  The crew of the Beagle is crack; their Lt being recalled to London to take command of a 6th rate ship.  
Thus life is good for Lt Ronald Ronault.  He even gets orders to sail.  He is somewhat deflated when they direct him to take a marine major to St Kitts but he is allowed to go free hunting afterwards.  

The trip to St Kitts is uneventful.  
On the return trip there is a moderate breeze and not a cloud in the sky when the cry "Sail Ho" is heard.  A sail off to larboard!  
Ronald orders the English flag aloft.  Soon he sees a French schooner.  He thinks this should be an even fight.  He remains at easy sail in case the Gaul runs. 

Frenchie to the left, out hero to the right.  Each hex is 50 yards.

Unbeknownst to our hero, the frenchman is packing 18 pounders.  He too thinks this will be a fair fight.  His strategy will be to keep easy sails, fire a couple of volleys.  If the battle is going poorly; run.  If the battle is going well; drop sail and go toe to toe.

The ships close and Ronald chooses to hold fire.  The Frenchman fires first at 150 yards going for the sails.  Minimal sail damage and several crewman.  His 2LT wants to fire.
Ronald waits, gains the initiative and manages a bow rake with devastating effect. ( Some great die rolls I will admit)
The cannon balls sweep the deck and two thirds of the privateer crew are either dead or broken.  To make matters worse, the sails are sprung and there are not enough crew to make repairs and sail the ship.
The french captain decides to make a run for it hoping to run off the edge of the ocean.
With his sails sprung and not enough crew to repair them it is just a matter of time before masts  start to fall.  The HMS Beagle follows her prey catching her 40 minutes later.  One more broadside and the Frenchman strikes his colors!

The French captain coming over to surrender.

The Commodore is very pleased with Lt Ronault's triumph.  He gets a "Good Show" with increase in both interest and glory as well as prize money.  I set promotion at "possible" since the french ship was a slight upgrade but he had just gotten a new command.  The Commodore told Ronald that he didn't want to rip him from his new command so soon so would let him enjoy the Beagle for a while.

Great game that played in under an hour.   Wonder what the Beagle's crew will do next?



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The world of Lt Ronault and Sails Forward

Spent the last week in St Croix with family.   Had a great time.  Whenever I am in the Caribbean my gaming thoughts turn to pirates and sailing ships.  While on vacation I read A ship of War by Sean Thomas Russell.  They are a series of sailing books with their protagonist Lt Charles Hayden.  They are similar to the Sharpe's series and I like them better than Patrick O'Brian as his lack of punctuation always made his a difficult read for me.
For sailing games I have settled on a set of tactical rules, Post Captain by Old Dominion Games.  They are not designed for big battles but for single ship engagements to several ships a side.  They also work well for unrated ships; perfect!
With no need to work on a set of tactical rules I could turn my thoughts to a campaign system.  Have been playing around with Sails Forward for about a year.  Time to drag it out and have Lt Ronault continue his quest for a Post Captain's position. ( Actually he would settle on an unrated brig right now and moving up several social levels.)  The game is still in flux but what I am going for is you start out as a Master and Commander of a tiny ship.  You are allocated missions and you try to earn promotions by gaining favor with the admiral in charge of your overseas station.  ( It could be the Admiralty in London but I will have to abstract that a bit more.)  A month will be made up of 3 10 day blocks.  You will go out on a mission and then have two blocks with which to do activites such as hunting, clubbing, courting ect.  These will be resolved with die rolls similar to the Forward games.  The object will be to increase your social standing and influence important people.  It has been fun trying different things out and the great thing is, while this concept works for WW II; it is perfect for the age of sail!
So to catch you up with our good Lt.   He is assigned to the Caribbean of course and his is in command of the 10 gun cutter Sea Witch.  His master is Jon Price who is an aggressive family man.  His Bo'sun is the portly Jeff Fishback who has taken a liking to our good Lt.  This is in part due to several parties Reginald has thrown for his officers.  Jeff BTW is a Gr II leader in land battles.  There is a new midshipman aboard, Rob Atkins, who takes the place of Lt Waterman who was recently transferred to the HMS Bulldog as her 4th LT. The HMS Bulldog is a 32 gun frigate and the largest british ship in the islands.  Her captain, Capt Lemmon, is a minor deity in these parts as he is not only a brilliant officer but he actually worked himself up  from the ranks.  [ All this is diced for as per Forward games.]
Lt Ronault has been on 5 missions.  The last one was a brilliant success.  Capt Lemmon asked him to enter a shallow bay to force Jose the Pig out to meet the Bulldog.  Reggie actually boarded and captured Jose!  The Commodore and Capt Lemmon were both very impressed and they both accepted Reginald's invitation to dine aboard the Sea Witch [ they had both turned him down before].  But disaster struck when Reginald showed his mercantile roots and served the wrong after dinner wine.  Curses!  [ That said, Lemmon still likes him.]
How quickly fortune can turn thought Lt Ronault.  3 weeks ago he was the toast of the station then, after a disastrous dinner, the Commodore had said 5 words to him since.  Two of those words " Excuse me" as he went by hadn't made him feel any better. But today he finally got orders to sail.  He was to deliver several diplomatic messages to St Lucia.  That part was disappointing, but he was allowed to free sail on the way back and look for enemies of the crown.

HMS Sea Witch  ( I know  it isn't really a cutter okay!)

3 days out with a storm off to starboard a sail was sighted ahead. 

French brig to the left, storm top and Sea Witch to the right.

Lt Ronault ordered no flag flown.  The sails turned out to belong to a french brig ( or a pirate).  They demanded identity.  During this time the Sea Witch hoisted full sails.  The french ship fired a cannon shot demanding recognition and hoisted her own sails.  The race was on! 
Post Captain really shows the difference in rigging, particularly in a light breeze so there was little contest.  The brig did get one shot off.

The french brig fires in vain.

A mark of a good game system to me is this encounter took about 35 minutes and even though there was only one shot it was fun.  ( Of course my brilliant background story helped as well.)
A roll of the dice revealed no events on St Lucia so the messages were delivered!  Hunting time!

On the return trip a sail is once again sighted ahead in a moderate breeze.  What flag to fly?  We will go English this time.

This one turns out to be a french ( or pirate ) 12 gun cutter.  Unfortunately, as soon as it sees the Sea Witch it runs.  So we start a long chase.  We have a average crew and they have a green crew so we have a slight advantage which would be bigger if we were forced to tack.  You check for weather every 30 minutes ( 10 turns )   We manage to get within 800 yards several times but our 6 pounders need a great deal of luck at that range and we are not fortunate.  The weather stays steady for 90 minutes and with real life dinner coming up we give up the chase.  Once again, an exciting game though only 4 shots were fired.

Upon return Lt Ronault gets a "Good Lad" from the Commodore worth 1 glory point but no influence.  He trains his crew on gunnery to no effect and has an uneventful evening at the club.
So that is my introduction to Sails Forward and the world of Lt Reginald Ronault.




Sunday, March 19, 2017

Two Blow outs ( Saga and Estonia)

Play another game of my SAGA campaign and it was over in 3 turns.  That left me enough time to use the same board to try out my Russian paratroopers in Estonia.  Hopefully something for everyone in this post!

First, for SAGA fans I continued my Saxons in my campaign game.  ( Jack, you can skip down to the next story!)  If you didn't read my last post about Eric Redbeard and his brother Dangst go back and do so; I'll wait.  Now that everyone is caught up...   The Raven had set his sights on Roman territory.  The scenario turned out to be " hurry and burn" from Age of Wolf.  I like this scenario.  It is realistic and fun for both sides.   
Dangst could see the village. He had 2 units of Heathguards and 2 of warriors.  He sent one Heathguard unit against the Roman javelins in the town while he led the rest of his men through the stream to the buildings and field.  
Roman bacon burgers on the hoof!

Dangst emerges with his men to cross the stream

At the upper side of town, Heathguard meet javelins. Unfortunately two saxons go down like dead trees.  ( Sorry picture was blurry.  Couldn't get the figures to stop moving!) 

The Romans enter the board and they are not happy.  They like bacon burgers!

... the legionnaires in particular.   ( Maxius Velocituis has 17 power points so has purchased a war banner in front of his legion.  I don't think the WB rules in SAGA are strong enough.  For me at the beginning of your turn, 1 unit within "M" of the warbanner gets to remove a fatigue for free.  Nice thing about playing solitaire is everyone agreed this was an enlightened rule change.)

Saxon and Roman clash in the field.  The Saxons lose 4 while 1 cavalryman goes down. 

Another clash.  The whole saxon unit of 7 warriors is destroyed without loss for the Romans! 

At this point  after 3 turns the saxons had lost 11 warriors and 3 heathguards.  They had 4 heathguards and 4 warriors left.  The Romans had lost 1 heathguard and 1 warrior.  They had 7 heathguard and 15 warriors left. Dangst while proud, knew he had been beat.  He called his warriors back into the woods.   When he arrived home news of the disaster quickly spread and a revolt against his rules started with some of his troops switching sides!  ( The fate roll for this season was revolt.  Since he lost a reputation point he lost one of his 2 heathguard units; how cool was that!)  His power is down to 7 with only 3 units.  He does have 2 wealth though so he could purchase some roman deserters.  Am toying with the idea of dropping the Saxons into the history dustbin and starting an African warband to move up from Spain.  Would have to look that up.  Anyone know who that could be in 400 AD?  Age Of the Wolf has rules to allow a faction to start in the middle and catch up. 
Break Break
So now had some free time and had a board set up.  What to do?  
So I changed this on the coast of France to...
this on the coast of the Baltic.  This is just outside of Tallinn,  Estonia.   Russian separatists have been actively seeking russian intervention in order to bring Estonia back into the russian union.  Their government won't even bring the issue to a vote so afraid are they that the people's voices might be heard.  They have even invited western fascists ( including the US) in to try to cow the people into into silence.   But mother Russia has heard her children just as she has in the Ukraine.  While forces mass along the border, Russia stages a seaborne invasion to capture the Estonian capital.  Operation "Warhammer" is proceeded by a airborne landing just behind the beaches to secure routes towards Tallinn 6 km distant.    Here we pick up the action between an airborne squad and a reserve squad sent to check out reports of the landings.  

Russian Airborne Squad   10/10
Sgt Petrov  Optomist/Govt   son of a farmer     III leader  SL
Cpl Sokolov  Drifter     Coarse/ rock music      II leader   ASL
Cpl Orlov       Fickle/ Alcohol   Son of factory worker  (strong)   II leader  ASL
4 additional men including 2 AK 74s, 1 SAW and 1 RPG
Estonian contact
Iron Ivan    8/12  AK74      Functions as grade II leader but can't lead anyone else. 

Iron Ivan waiting for Sgt Petrov and liberation

So far so good thought Petrov as he made his way through the woods.  The landing had been smooth and they had sighted the house they were suppose to meet their contact at.  He sent Cpl Orlov with the SAW to the barns while he went with the rest of the squad to the house to see who this "Iron Ivan" was.

As he started talking with an odd man in a red hat they all heard engines coming up the road.

The plan was to send Ivan out to talk to the officer but Cpl Orlov wasn't aware of the plan and couldn't help himself to the juicy target the officer presented.  He opened up sending the jeep occupants hiding on the ground.  Petrov left Sokolov to watch Ivan while he took the RPG to flank the APC...
Petrov flanking the Estonians.  ( He rolled 6's for activation s for the first 4 turns.) 

The Estonians deploy for battle  ( If these figures look really good it is because I didn't paint them.  Jack did!  Thanks Jack) 

The RPG takes out the APC and Sgt Petrov begins to whittle down the Estonians. 

Cpl Orlov pinned in the barn.  ( worse thing that happened to the russians all day.) Estonian LT trying to pull the jeep back.  Infantry fighting it out with Sgt Petrov who moved into the house.

Lt comes back to rally the squad.  ( stick signifies stunned men).  It didn't help and they were wiped out to a man.

The russians sustained no casualties so another blow out but it was very fun!   Would add a second squad next time for the Estonians.   I had them with a 7 man squad 6/10 with a level I leader.  The Lt was a level II.