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, 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. 



Monday, March 13, 2017

Death of Eric Redbeard

For my regular readers; sorry to post two SAGA posts in a row.  SAGA posts don't seem to be popular but I haven't posted in a month so wanted to get something up.  I am painting up some cold war russian paratroopers and hope to have them in Estonia soon as part of operation War Hammer.  More to follow on that.  Have also painted up 2 gun trucks for vietnam; just have to be inspired to play. 
Otherwise have been playing SAGA A+A and started an Age of Wolf campaign.  My 4 factions are:
Romans ( of course) with Maxius Velocitus. 
Franks with Hilrund the terrible
Huns with Beo; just Beo
Saxons with Eric Redbeard
First season saw Maxius campaign against Redbeard with Redbeard attempting to Raid back.  Redbeard is an old warrior ( he has a greybeard now) and he ambushed Maxius in a forest.  While Maxius won the campaign point by exiting the board, Redbeard saw his reputation grow by soundly thrashing the Romans.
The second season saw the Romans on the defensive, building their forces to renew their attack against the Saxons.  The Huns have decided to raid the Franks.  Eric has decided to Raid the Romans again for easy pickings of wealth.  While he and his brother are preparing their mission, word comes that Hilrund and the Franks have launched an assault from the east.  Never one to delegate, Eric moves east with his heathguard and waits for an opportunity to strike... 

Playing a new mission I have developed, Foraging Party.

The populace supports Eric so he is constantly informed of Hilrund's moves.
One day Hilrund dispatches some troops to raid an orchard and pond for food.
Now is the perfect time to strike!

The dumb Franks have one unit of Heathguards battle ready while the rest gather food.

Eric gives the signal to charge and the Saxons break out of the woods to take out vengeance on the ill prepared Franks.

The battle rages in the orchard!

Eric personally takes on the guards and destroys them easily.  He is truly..Redbeard!

The battle is all but won as the orchard and it's produce is once again Saxon. 

But what is that in the distance?  Hoof beats and a horn?!
Hilrund arrives with that cool windsock thing.  Too late to save his foragers but not too late to dish out some pain. 

Infantry clash but the saxons are still fatigued from the battle in the orchard so it is no contest.  ( Franks used no Saxon fatigue in the orchard to prepare for this!)
The cavalry make for Eric and throw their Javelins.  All 4 strike home.  The Saxons all fail their saving throws ( a 6% chance that!) and Eric and his bodyguard are all alone. 

Eric stands like a true warrior king!

The melee swirls as does the king's axe.  Eventually, overcome by sheer numbers and 18 wounds, Eric goes down for the last time! He has died fighting to protect his people and their lands from the murderous Franks!  ( actually he went down easily, the Franks didn't lose a rider.) 

As Eric had no adult children and only 2 teenage daughters, his brother, Dangst the Raven takes over. He is called the Raven becauses he brings death to all his foes and had done so for his brother for years.  Now he swears vengeance on Hilrund.  But first he will finish his brother's raid against the Romans...

Only the second time I have played this scenario.  This one played differently but was still close; Franks wining by 1 point till Eric went down. Will playtest it some more than will probably see if Miniature Wargames wants to publish it.

Really like Age of the Wolf.  Easy to pick up after a break and breaths life into the characters and campaigns.  I have toyed with "Warriors Forward" for a while but now have no need as Age of the Wolf fits the bill nicely.




Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Romans are here!

Received Saga Aetius and Arthur on Thursday!  Have been waiting for this since I bought the original Saga years ago.  While I have been mildly interested in the Viking age after living in England for several years I have always thought roman legions were cool.  Alas, this book is centered on 410 AD and the fall of Rome rather than the height of the legions but at least we have romans now! 

Roman soldiers, a centurion and the cool horn thing! 

So what do you get for a lot of money?  If you like SAGA in general you will not be disappointed.  There is a lot more of all the stuff that makes SAGA such a great game.  The production values of the book are great and all the factions are well done.  The Huns are better balanced now while still being excellent horse archers and I feel their battle board makes the old "Steppe tribes" board obsolete.  I still think I will give their warriors the "eagle eye trait " since I don't have to worry about play balance.  ( If you take them as a mercenary they get it so why can't they shoot for their own faction?)
The Huns celebrating their Eagle eyes! 

The Goths are basically Vikings that ride horses.  ( This is only after one play.  One thing I have learned is there is often a fair amount of subtlety in the battle boards.)  The Saxons are foot soldiers.  I haven't figured out the Picts yet.  They appear to need broken terrain to succeed.  I haven't played the British because, well, they have Romans available.  
And of course they have the Romans!  
Gothic and Roman cavalry clash while a Goth infantryman looks on.

The Roman board using Impetus much like the christian board uses piety.  Most importantly for me, the board is not tied to the 400s with Rome being more cavalry heavy and should work just fine with heathguards as infantry such as during the 100s.  ( In A & A the cavalry are elite and the infantry are the warriors which is historically correct.  Easy enough to change though.) 
Roman and Huns clash

The rules include several nice mercenary units including step tribes, germanic tribes, and deserters.  ( Also has Sea Wolves which I don't understand.)  

Now we are talking!  Romans and Goths at the bridge

A nice addition is a section on how previously released factions fit into this historical period.  The Franks, Byzantines, Scottis and several others from the north are retrofitted which further expands the fun.  

Here come the Goths again!

There is a page on several historical scenarios for Age of the Wolf which I can't wait to try.
The only thing I was disappointed in was the campaign game.  Romans manning an outpost against a barbarian hoard, what is not to like?  There is only one scenario!  Yes, you get to pick a bunch of stuff but each time you play one scenario.    I suspect that will get boring fast.  
So I will have to design my own based on all the good stuff from Age of Wolf.

Overall the supplement is well worth it if you like SAGA.  It adds a great deal more of what makes the game fun.  Overlook the campaign game and you will be very happy.  Did I mention it had Romans?!


Monday, February 6, 2017

Red River delta 1953

Playing ARVN is clearly not obscure enough; I have to play the South Vietnamese ( or actually the "independent" Army of Vietnam.) in 1953.  Reading a great book recommended to me on TMP called Embers of War.   Really shows how French thinking evolved during the conflict and how the US saw it as an Anti-communism war; pity.
Back to the game.  Rolled up a squad using Grunts Forward  and they have had 3 actions.  My squad leader is "evil" which is a first for me.  It is actually fun seeing all his opportunities in this light.  The LT is a weak Catholic whose Dad is a government official so he is filling time.  The second squad leader is at odds with my Sgt, Dang Tong.  Because the platoon's performance has not been good up till now a french advisor is tagging alone to see Lt Chu in action. 

Lt Chu briefed the squad leaders on the mission though he was clearly nervous at having to brief in front of the French officer.  "Intel has pinpointed this village as a supply point for the Viet Minh.  We also think that the temple is a HQ of some sort.  We need to go in fast and hard before they can move or destroy anything! ( trying to sound confident in front of the french officer)  Sgt Tong, you will enter by the road and draw any fire and deal with it.  Sgt Chu will accompany me on a flanking manuever to get to the temple.  There will be a french patrol boat on the far side of the village so no one can escape.  Remember, speed is essential!"
Lt Chu         Inept/religion   Father is minor government official      Gr I with hesitant card
Sgt Dang Tong 1st squad     Evil/ pleasure     Orphaned and raised on extremely hard work on his uncle's farm                             Gr I
Cpl Binh  ASL  1st squad   liberal patriot/ alcoholic              Gr 0
Sgt Trang Chu 2nd squad   Gambler/wealth       Gr II leader
1 LMG attached with Gr 0 leader
 1 French observer( Gr III leader) and 1 80mm MTR available.  
Vietnamese National Army is 8/8 for you FOF fans.  VM irregulars are 6/10.

Helicopter view of the village.  Sgt Tong will enter from road to the left.  Lt Chu will enter from the bottom edge.  French PBR top right.
French Patrol boat passes a saipam
My $4 temple from Pet Smart!!!!!   Black marker is enemy blind.  Green marker designates one of the 4 areas that need to be searched.  ( One is removed per turn starting turn 7).

The two officers discuss the move into the village. 

Sgt Chu's squad encounters fire from a hut.  1 KIA and they are stopped.  Sgt Chu rallies the troops and they assault the building...

Meanwhile Sgt Tong encounters fire from the Buddhist temple.  The fire is accurate and the squad sustains 1 KIA and 1 WIA.  Sgt Tong is pinned down and actually feels fear momentarily.  This feeling is eclipsed by shame and anger as Lt Chu ( of all people!) has to come over and tell him to get moving.  ( Lt Chu braved sniper fire to deliver this message.  Of course, he only delivered the message after the Frenchman suggested the attack was stalled.)

Meanwhile, Sgt Chu's assault fails costing yet another KIA.  The frenchman comes to rally the squad.  Under his tutelage the hut is hammered by the LMG and several grenades.  When Sgt Chu assaults back into the house it is empty! ( Darn those tunnels!)  Sgt Chu's men can't find a tunnel though they suspect one must be there.  But they do fine a large store of grain. 
Sgt Tong is determined to prove he doesn't need the LT for anything and charges the temple.  The squad makes it through the sniper fire rapidly and enters finding a lone gunmen trying to escape.  He is quickly captured. Sg tTong finds a monk hiding a roughs him up looking for intel ( told you he was evil!).  The monk remains stoic and Sgt Tong would have killed him but the Lt catches up just at that moment and Sgt Tong doesn't want to take any chances.

Sgt Tong with his prisoner. 

With the temple captured the VM resistance quickly ends as the east part of the village is under effective fire from the french gunboat.  The Vietnamese search the rest of the village and find nothing.  Still it is a victory!  They capture the village with all the grain and sustain only 4 KIA. 

Post game Lt Chu is impressed with Sgt Tong's capture of the temple and netting a POW.  1st squad's KIA is not replaced yet but the squad continues to have high confidence in Tong's abilities. Sgt Tong also meets a black marketeer who needs a favor.  For the right price Sgt Tong has agreed to raid a warehouse with the squad.  He reasons he can take the men out on a training mission and stumble onto a VM drug cache.  Yeah, the LT will buy that.  He will pay his squad to keep quiet and threaten the corporal with exposure of his alcoholism if he talks.   Being evil is fun!  

Grunts Forward generated the following OPFOR for this scenario:
2 squads of 7 men each with 2 leaders ( 1 Gr II and 1 Gr I), a LMG and a sniper.    1 LMG came is as a reinforcement on turn 4.