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.

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.





  1. Joe,
    This sounds interesting, and somewhat similar to the KMH campaign system that was in one of the TFL Specials a few years back.
    My question is: Could a mission last more than one of the 10 day blocks? After all, herding merchantmen around for a convoy (or more than one) could very well take an entire month.

  2. Brian,
    Good to hear from you. Yes a mission could last more than one block. Yes it is similar to Chris S campaign system from the special. In fact, after using his I wanted more control of my destiny between missions. I have also reworked the mission chart and enemy ships in order to meet more of the smaller types. Am hoping Chris helps me with it when I get closer to publishing.

    1. OK. Looking forward to this coming out, as I have gotten back to my naval gaming roots, including a blog of my own.

  3. Nice piece of work and thank you for the blog.

  4. Brian,
    have seen your blog; go man go! I admire your patience with bases; you see I cheat with the clear ones.
    You are welcome; thanks for reading. Just finished building the HMS Seawitch. Hoping to take her out this weekend.

  5. Thanks! I didn't put the address in my response because I didn't want to look like I was advertising.

    As for bases, I would like to have them be clear, but my method of storage for years has been metal bottomed boxes with magnetic material on the bases. Consequently, they can't be clear. Now that I have 90+ ships, I don't see myself going back and redoing them. So, it's really more a question of inertia than patience.

  6. Brian,
    you are too nice. For all interested parties here is the address to Brian's blog: https://mymodelsailingships.blogspot.com
    I got really lucky for storing my minis. When in England at an antique store I bought an old map cabinet. The drawers are about 2 feet wide and 2.5 inches high for storing survey maps without folding them.

  7. That is a lucky find! I've thought about display cabinets for the ships, but our house was built in the '70s and not really designed for that sort of thing. Also, grandkids running about means that the ships are probably better off hiding in the dark under the game table.