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, September 21, 2010

Barent Sea AAR/ Release the Hounds Playtest

The first miniatures I ever bought were ships. They were cheap and I didn't need terrain. I soon moved on because all the rulesets I played were either too simple or too complicated. I wanted detail down to individual turrets and AA mounts but I wanted the games to be relatively quick; didn't want to keep track of hull boxes and wanted to play with my favorite ship, the destroyers! Command at Sea was a little too slow for my taste though their scenario books are still the best. I thought I had it with GHQs "The Game". Great rule set but destroyers are too easily taken out and PT boats are an afterthought. Have toyed with my own rules from time to time but could not figure out how to do realistic damage without "counting boxes" yet keeping the fidelity of individual turrets. Had a eureka moment on a plane to Sacramento 2 weeks ago. Ran up some charts and did dice playtests and it seemed to work. Time to try it out for real!
Scenario is heavily modified ( I don't have many ships) out of the Command at Sea Group Nord book. Basically the germans are trying to break through a british escort to a small convoy. The German's are petrified of losing their pocket battleship as usual.

Capt Sherebrooke was uneasy. Then again he was always uneasy out at sea during this war. He was senior officer of this small band of ships escorting 7 merchants. His crew on the HMS Onslaw were good as were the rest of the escort. They just might make it to Russia despite the storm. The weather was bad with visability about 4 miles and this promised to get worse. His thoughts were suddenly interupted by the officer of the day. " HMS Rhododendrom has sighted a german destroyer dead astern about 3.5 miles back. "

The Convoy
Very well. Tell HMS Orwell that we will execute a simultaneous 180 degree turn and she should find this destroyer. Tell Obdurate [with Obediant] that she should meet us behind the convoy. Capt Sherebrooke knew he did not need to tell the corvette to start making smoke nor the merchantman commodore to radio the light cruiser HMS Jamaica.
Fred moving up. He didn't see
anything until Orwell started shooting

The situation while orders are transmitted,
decoded and executed. The 3rd german DD is
off picture to the south
Straining eyes on the bridges of both british DDs were finally rewarded at 5 miles when the shape of a german DD hove into view. Orwell starts to fire but misses. Fred, thinking he has found the convoy alters course to starboard and the ships close. A gun duel erupts and both sides take damage. Orwell settles the argument when she hits Fred with a torpedo that leaves her flooding and on fire.
Lutzow hears the commotion and speeds up
HMS Orwell is so engaged in the fight she fails to spot the german CB. Lutzow fires at 5.5 miles hits Orwell. Orwell staggards and moves off stage. Lutzow, seeing enemy DDs close, calls back her destroyer screen and starts a lazy 180 turn. Capt Sherebrooke coutermands his last order to Obdurate telling them to close with Theo Reidel on the right and instead orders a torpedo attack on the Lutzow. Meanwhile he will turn and chase after the Richard Beltzen on the british left that has sailed right by them and is still searching for the convoy.
Time during Sherebrooke's orders
Beltzen top of picture. Fred in center on fire
Theo off picture to the bottom
Onslow starting turn for Beltzen upper right
Orwell under fire from Lutzow
Obdurate/Obedient still carrying out order to
go after Theo
Theo turns around failing to spot the convoy and roughs up Obdurate and Obdient slowing them down enough they are unable to carry out a torpedo attack.
2 British destroyers roughed up
Richard Beltzen does spot the convoy and makes a very lazy turn back towards the Lutzow. This allows her to get several shots off. One hits the bridge of the SS Pontfield. Thus confused she does not steer away from the 4 german tordedoes. One hits and sinks her.
HMS Onslow catches up at this time and the 2 destroyers trade torpedo shots as they pass.
Russian Roulette torpedo style
Unfortunaltly for Capt Sherebrooke, he loses this time as a german torpedo hits the Onslow.
The german destroyers recalled, the germans retire.
Forces and Fate
Lutzow CB fine
Richard Beltzen DD 5 turret out
Theo Reidel DD moderate damage
Friedrick Edkold DD heavy damage difficult to control scuttled
Onslow DD heavy damaged limped to port
Orwell DD heavy damage limped to port
Obedient DD moderrate damage continued escort
Obdurate moderate damage engines damaged; had to be towed; decision to scuttle
Rhododendrom Corvette fine
Pontifield tanker sunk
give victory to the Kreigsmarine
Great game and I liked the system. Have decided I like it enough that I will invest in some 1/1200 scale destroyers and smaller ships. For the bigger stuff will stick with 1/2400 but I really like the smaller boats. Once I get the smaller boats will post another playtest.
Realize this was a different post than what I normally do but thought it would prove interesting and hopefully provide an entertaining scenario.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

FAAR mission #5

I have been working on Squadron Forward for about 6 months. I have the character interaction pretty well set and the in game events. Am now starting the scenarios. I play 90% solitaire so am working on a force generator that will give a balanced game where I don't know what I am facing until I am in it. One of my few critisms of BTH2 is there are way too many blinds on the board so I don't wnat to know where the enemy is coming from but don't want 25 counters on the board either. Lastly both sides need a realistic chance to be able to affect a "bounce". So ready to try my first scenario; escort. We call upon one of my favorites, my Romanian IAR-80 squadron. This is there 5th mission and since this is 1942 they will be flying the "B" model.

Captain Sandru put down the phone. "Crap." The group commander Pomut had decided to fly with them tomorrow. Worse he did not want Sandru to go because he wanted to get to know the men. They were suppose to escort some JU-87s to attack a river convoy moving towards Stalingrad. Sandru had planned to allocate 4 planes to the mission but now he had better allocate 6 and place his best pilots on it to protect the group commander. To have him shot down would be embarresing; to have him wounded and land pissed would be a disaster!

Major Pomut coarse average skill (dislikes SQ)
Lt Macri Pleasant average

Lt Hapaina aggressive average
SLt Alexia Pessimistic average (avoids combat when able)

Adj Sef Ionescu Cultured Veteran skill
Adj Stag Toma Obnoxious average 1 kill

The day dawned clear and the Romanians found their charges without problems despite the language differences. The germans were prompt if nothing else. The Stukas flew at 16K feet so flak over the flont lines was not a problem.

In bound Ionescu smiles for the camera

4 minutes to target the Stukas called out bandits bearing down on them from 4 o'clock. Pomut leaves Hapania high and the other 4 race down. [my picture of the russian fighters is lost, sorry!] One stuka explodes as 3 LA-5s race through the formation. Major Pomut snaps off a high deflection shot that catches the new russian fighter in the engine and it explodes! Just as quick a 4th russian fighter appears on the Major's tail. Adj Sef Ionescus rushes to help as Captain Sandru gave him explicit instructions to bring the Major home alive. The Major starts a series of tight turns while losing altitude that his wingman and the russian can not follow. "The old man can fly!" thinks Ionescu.

1 more Stuka is destroyed and 1 damaged. Adj Stag Toma shoots an assaliant off Ionescu's tail and Ivan leaves the field trailing petrol. At this point the Stukas are commencing their dives. With 3 fighters against 6 IAR-80s the russians leave.

Stuka starting its run on a Fugas class minesweeper

Stukas on the attack The barges are camouflaged to
look like Command at Sea markers.
The MO-4 boat is the tiny one upstream

Direct hit! 500lb bombs make big holes
The Fugas class boat is destroyed by a direct hit. 2 barges are sunk. 2 Stukas miss completely.
The return trip is uneventful. The battle is considered a draw.
Post mission The squadron is awarded no cool points. Major Pomut's attitude improves to neutral towards the squadron. Adj Stag Toma's skill improves to veteran. Adj Bacui [did not fly but has a kill] is promoted to Adj Stag [Sgt]. Finally a new rookie pilot Adj Dusescu joins the squadron.
5 russian fighters were generated in one group. It seemed to work well; there were no in game events. For those of you using my LAAF anti aircraft rules the
Fugas MS is size 2 speed 3 [ can't go that fast in a river though] hvy 1 lt 1+
MO-4 motor launch size 1 speed 3 hvy -- lt 1+
Should be a good sceanario for BTH2 or Mustanges. A little large for CY6.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The brick lumber mill

This is a platoon that has had 2 other battles. I will take some time here to illustrates some of the "off board" interaction of Platoon Forward that can affect how the battle plays out. Just to remind everyone, I don't make stuff up for this blog; I really report what I play out on the campaigns and games.

Junior Lt Bessonov was unhappy as he walked to company HQ. His platoon was performing poorly, morale was dropping and 2 of his squad leaders were out with wounds. His uninjuried squad leader, Sergant Shakulo, was his biggest problem. Not only was he an alcoholic but his first battle he had charged recklessly ahead [failed a leadership check] and lost most of the 1st sq. Bessonov asked the the company comander to pull Shakulo from the platoon and give him a new NCO. " Bessonov, you are new here. Half our NCOs are alcoholics. A good officer will teach Sergant Shakulo when to use his spirit in battle." Last battle Shakulo's performance had risen to below average but the platoon had again failed it's mission. Somehow a report had gotten to the company commander that Shakulo had performed well during the attack. Bessonov had even seen the two laughing and talking the other day! [ event showed that Konerko notices Shakulo] He had better watch Shakulo carefully or he might be getting the boot.

The company commander, Lt Konerko, greeted Bessonov cooly. Jr Lt Bessonov, mother russia needs victories! When do you plan to contribute?
Our lines have stabalized while we wait for supplies to continue the defeat of fascism. Reconnasance believes that the Germanskiis are using a lumber mill as an observation post during the day to observe our lines. Tomorrow I want you to take 2 squads and infiltrate up there. Capture a prisoner or at least disrupt the OP. I will send a MMG with you {pre game reinforcement} and issue some SMGs from other platoons. Bessonov, I know you are new here but don't make me wonder if you will ever get the hang of this. Dismissed

Jr LT Bessonov Scholarly/pleasure Gr II
Sgt Shakulo 1st sq SL addicted/ alcohol Gr I 1st squad with low morale
Cpl Zurich acting 3rd SL Gr I
1st squad with 2 LMGs for this mission. 3rd squad armed with 1 LMG, 2 rifles and 7 SMGs.
1 MMG with Gr I leader that is hesitant

The brick lumber mill
Russians will enter from bottom left
German OP
Very early figures I painted up
Bessonov moved through the woods with his most dependable squad forward (3rd) followed by 1st sq. Since this is the Russian army the platoon leader leads. As they neared the clearing he moved the MMG towards the left to provide covering fire. 20 yards before the clearing they heard rifle shots.
Bessonov runs into sentries
As third squad laid down fire he ordered Shakulo to move right to support. The 4 german sentires, noting a large force started their getaway. The russians managed to pin them down however. Shakulo moved right in, killing 3 and capturing 1. Bessonov was elated and horrified at the same time. He decided he would go for broke and attack the OP directly.
He directed both squads to move foward past the mill on the right to a clump of trees. From there they would make the final assault.
Bessonov's charge
3rd squad on left
3rd squad took heavier fire and started to retreat. Bessonov had to stop to rally them.
The men proved difficult to rally as bullets continued to kick up around them. Suddenly to Bressonov's horror he hear the russian battle cry of "Urra" as Sergant Shakulo was leading his squad into the mill. Bressonov quickly grabbed the few rallied men around him (the LMG team) and raced to the mill in time to join (lead) the final assault.
Sergant Shakulo leads the final assault
The Germanskiis were not keen on defending the position and gave way quickly. JrLt Bressonov and the platoon had their victory albiet with a great deal of help from Sgt Shakulo. After the battle Sgt Shakulo stated he was just following orders. Bressonov wondered whose orders?
After it's great showing in 2 hand to hand combats 1st squad's morale improved to normal. In addition, Sgt Shakulo beat the odds (30%) and is upgraded to a grade II leader. [There are normally 3 events after every battle.]
Great battle! I really like these small ones. They play fast and are loads of fun. I could not believe Sgt Shakulo; his card draws and rolls were amazing. As a gr I leader he only had a 50% chance of initiating that final assault. When he could, even though a russian NCO would not show that much initaitve, I said why not!
German forces generated were as follows:
1 squad and 2 half squads 1 Gr III leader (officer) and 2 gr II leaders
1 squad must set up on the second floor of the mill with the officer acting as an observer. The other squad can be split into 2 half squads to act as sentries. If it is one half should be towards the woods and one half in the boxes on the other side of the board watching that half of the board. The germans can not move or fire until fired upon or they spot russians. The german officer can take no action for the first 3 turns as he is collecting his gear in case they have to retreat. There is a 30% chance of a squad and/ or halftrack coming in as a reinforcement 4 turns after the shooting starts. This did not happen for me but would have made for a different game! If they come in the russian need not take the mill, just disrupt its operations, perferably from the inside. You still need to capture a prisoner.
If playing 2 person the german should not know the russian objective. For the "Raid" scenario there is only a 33% chance that it is a prisoner snatch otherwise it is just to disrupt the opreation for at least 4 turns of fire and give more casualties than taken.