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, April 2, 2024

A Preview of Boom and Zoom

Still busy with family issues but have played one game of Boom and Zoom and 1 game of WW III US defending a bridge.  I had told several people on TMP that I would post something about Boom and Zoom since the rules are finished.  I haven't been able to start shopping them around with all that is going on right now.  I want to be calm and collected and enjoy the process.  I thought I could at least post about the concepts of the game and why I think it is different from everything out there.  I was going to post a AAR but I think instead, I will use the pictures to illustrate the concepts.  Obvioulsly I have a biased opinion but the playtesters all enjoy it.  I really have to get back to Richmond and have another game at Waterloo.  

From the introduction to the rules:


The purpose of fighter aircraft is the destruction of enemy aircraft.   US navy fighter manual

I.                    Introduction

 Welcome to Boom and Zoom (B&Z), a set of rules designed to provide a quick moving game pitting hostile elements of aircraft against each other, though it could easily be called “The Thinking Man’s Guide to Aerial Combat,” as you’ll need to develop a strategy that plays to the strengths of your pilots and aircraft and, in the advanced game, attributes based on the doctrine and tactics of the countries represented.  Game play revolves around each player attempting to execute their strategy, seeking to gain the initiative and dictate the flow of the battle to their opponent by skillfully taking advantage of key moments of opportunity and risk!  The game is quick moving because, though the decisions are all yours, the actual execution of those decisions are somewhat abstracted.  


So that is what the game is about.  How do we do it?   To me there are three important things that set people up for success in air combat, the planes, the men, and their tactics.  Most games I have played focus on the planes, almost all give some attention to the men but few really make tactics important. 

I wanted a game that did all three but could be played in a hour. 

The planes are represented by cards or stat lines.  You see all the usual stuff here.  Planes are rated for performance and agility at four altitudes. But these differences are not always game changers.  Below 15K ft both sides will know that the ME 109E has the edge in turning while the Tomahawk just edges it out in performance.  Above 15K ft though the Allison engine has trouble keeping up.  

[ You can always argue stats; that is half the fun.  Change any stats you want.  I won't lose any sleep. : )]

Don't let the hexes fool you.  Boom and Zoom is played on a grid.   Here a Vic of Tomahawks have been strafing german positions while they have left a 2 ship to fly top cover.  The 2 ship, led by newly minted ace Flying Sgt Skinner has just spotted a schwarm of ME 109s coming to ruin the party.  The Tomahawks want to keep the battle low and avoid turning fights.  


The men are critical.  Initiative is a huge part of success in combat.  For solo games I use this chart to track initiative.  No surprise here, Skinner's 2 ship is going first!

Tactics: When planes are in the same square they can attempt to initiate combat.  There are definite advantages to fighting in formations.  Here a german 2 ship tackles a 3 ship Tomahawk Vic. A Vic is far less efficient that a 2 ship element but it is better than being by yourself!  


There are two types of attacks in Boom and Zoom, high speed and maneuvers.  There are advantages to both and unique opportunities may present themselves via die rolls where a less nimble aircraft should try a maneuver.  This maneuvering is abstracted to speed play and keep players focused on decision making and results.  Here the Tomahawks have thwarted the German attempts at maneuver and have succeeded in making a high speed attack on the German leaders tail.  As it is a high speed attack the opportunity is only fleeting.  

At the end of each turn you roll to see if you keep formations.  One of the big problems with the British Vic is it is very hard to maintain.  Here the Veteran British wingman manages to hang on while the green tomahawk has broken away.  More ominous for the German, his green wingman has also failed to keep up.  A lone German, of average skill, flying a plane not particularly superior to his opponent's who are veterans better get help fast or climb above 15K feet where he has the advantage. 

The vertical is very important in aerial combat.  The ME-109 can outclimb the Tomahawk.  The german pilot does right thing and climbs.  However, is it positioning, skill, gusts of wind who knows; he isn't able to shake the veteran Tomahawks.  His separated wingman comes in to help but he is blocked by the veteran British wingman.  


While the Tomahawk can't climb well it can dive.  Sgt Skinner executes a Boom and Zoom attack on the lone german wingman...

Things have gone from bad to worse for the two German pilots.  The wingman survived Skinner's attack but is now leaking fuel badly and must leave the battle.  Though the British Vic has collapsed, a Tomahawk has maneuvered on the German leader's tail and his plane is now severely damaged.  Since the Tomahawk used maneuvers rather than high speed attacks he has an advantage over the German which we call "the edge".  If someone has the edge on you you are not happy.  You can only try to break "the edge".

 One of the ways you can break the edge is to call for help if you have a two way radio.  Here the other German element executes a boom and zoom attack on the offending tomahawk.  It is successful and the edge is broken.  Teamwork!


I hope you have enjoyed this introduction to Boom and Zoom. This game, including taking pictures and notes, took me 67 minutes.  Obviously a lot more here and the devil is in the details but hopefully this gives you the philosophy behind the game.  Hopefully I will get the time to shop it around soon. 





Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Guadacanal--- Back to "O group"

 Sorry for the long absence.  My 100 yo father in law is requiring more care from my wife and I which is making for long nights and less time and enthusiasm for gaming. Real life-- what are you going to do?

My tactical aircraft rules for WW II are just about done. Just Jack has turned into a great editor; who knew a Marine could even spell?   Tentatively called Boom and Zoom I will start shopping them.  I have a tomahawk v ME 109 battle set up that I am recording and will hopefully post which will give you all some idea of the mechanics now that the fighter vrs fighter rules are set.  

But for today we are posting a land battle on Guadalcanal.   Three things conspired for this battle.  First I read a blog from the Devon's wargaming group where they did a battle on just his using O group


Second I had a long discussion about O group on TMP.

Third I finally started reading a book that my dad recommended to me about 15 years ago.

Now my dad rarely recommend books and I must say this is a good one so far.  It is about an army company on Guadacanal.  The author wrote from Here to Eternity for those of you who studied science. What I found out that impressed me was he was an infantry corporal on Guadacanal so he knows what he is talking about.  

You all know I love the combat routine for Battlefront.


Now I have reviewed O group here before and like it.   


But all the leaders are the same which bothers me ;still O group works best with infantry in lots of terrain.  Sounds like Guadacanal to me! 

I rolled up the board per Platoon Forward using "heavy terrain".  US will start at the bottom.  The first pipe cleaner is there start line.  Second pipe cleaner is Japanese defensive line.  Third pipe cleaner is the objective, Hill 100.  The left three hexes of the board are all heavy jungle signified by the mass of plastic palms.  Each hex is 80ish yards which works to O groups scale and is half Battlefronts. I forgot to mark it but the far side of the destroyed village is phase line smart where a third US company is available to finish up the attack.  

US view of the objective past the destroyed village.

One of the things I dislike about O group's novel set up is that is strains when the defender has been in place for a while.  You only place platoons on the board with 5s and 6s plus ATG and bunkers.  Fortunately it worked out here as each defending company wanted to place two platoons up. With the fifth die one company will place their HMG.   I guess one heavy machine gun decided to ignore the preparatory artillery and sleep in!  [ I would love to know I am doing this wrong.  If so someone please correct me.] 

Japanese positions.  The japanese decide to ignore the heavy jungle on their right but do place a combat patrol in there just in case the US get's sneaky.  [ In close terrain the concept of combat patrols is brilliant!] All japanese are in ambush.  Since this is solo no need to be off table. 

The US rolls for their deployment.  The three "1s" signify their bombardment took out a Japanese platoon plus a squad.  No 5s or 6s so only the company CCs start on the board with some combat patrols.  

I convert two CPs to deploy a platoon from A company.  My plan is to make a push down the road with armor and have Bravo company support my right flank.  Bravo company rests by the river while the scouts look for the Japanese.

I don't have the Battlefront Japanese cards as I don't know if I would use them enough to justify the purchase.  So for today I have substituted french for the infantry/MMG and knee mortars and Italian for the 60 Mtr and ATG.  For the Japanese I am making them "veteran" and they ignore negative modifiers for company losses.  They will also win ties in melee.  Otherwise there are no other special rules.

 Scouts make contact all along the line!

1st platoon Bravo company deploys 80 yards from gunfire under the watchful eye of Capt Stein.  All US troops are experienced except 2 platoons trained/1 alpha CO vets.  [ I roll up quality before hand.  To make it simple the platoon leader's quality is the same as his men.]

Stuart tanks are ordered forward as Japanese dispositions are still unclear. 

1st platoon B Co comes to grips with the enemy.  Third squad on the left is hit badly and their SL falls. 

Capt Stein deploys 2nd platoon on the far right to try to bring more firepower down on the Japanese.  A company can't seem to get artillery support!

The artillery finally arrives!  Capt Holt, behind on his timetable sends Lt Woodcheck's 2nd platoon forward. [ they are only trained not experienced/ yellow marker].  There is miscommunication and the Stuart doesn't move up. [ Ran out of orders!] A hidden MMG opens up. Needless to say 2nd platoon is thrown back. 

 On the right flank, with excellent MMG support, 1st platoon B Co advances 80 yards into enemy territory! 

After 4 turns (40 minutes) into the battle.  Alpha company on the left is going nowhere.  Bravo Co under Capt Stein, on the right has a small foothold in the Japanese line held by 1st platoon.  He has ordered 2nd platoon to advance to take the pressure off 1st platoon but they has to cross open ground...

Lt Elson duly orders the dogfaces forward.  2nd squad of 1st platoon can be seen holding their forward position in the light jungle just past 2nd platoon.  Sgt Carver's squad breaks but the rest of the platoon, though pinned remain.  

Lt Elson orders the LMGs up.  3rd squad rallies from 1st platoon and strengthens their gains there.  Suddenly it is the Japanese, holding this part of the line with only 2 platoons [ third wiped out in the pre attack barrage] who are pressed.  

Capt Holt finally has everything in place to once again mount an assault.  He now has artillery, re formed 2nd platoon and armor now leading Lt Ocha and the crack 3rd platoon into the fray!  [ Needed to save up enough battalion orders to move all this at once.] 

Meanwhile Bravo Co continues to grind away.

About 90 minutes into the attack.  Battle line running north to south in the photo taken by a PBY. 

Alpha company still shelling the village and MMG position.  60mm MTR also laying down smoke.  2nd and 3rd platoons advancing towards the ruins.  Japanese casualties mounting secondary to 105 shelling.  Bravo Co: 1st platoon has gained another 80 yards of jungle just below center of photo.  3rd platoon deployed to their left trying to find a gap.  2nd platoon still stuck but taking the heat off 1st platoon.  1st platoon down to 14 effective though.  However, as you can see the Japanese are down to 3 squads left from their 2 platoons.  Far right Japanese have deployed their only reserve platoon [ which is elite] to hold the line in front of hill 100.  

Actual combat photo of some of Lt Ocho's men during the assault on the ruins.

1st platoon holding the far left flank in background.

110 minutes into the battle.  The japanese front line withers away!  Lt Ocho captures the ruins.  The Japanese on their right pivot to protect the road.  There basically is no Japanese left on the left flank...

As the Japanese Company Commander faces 2nd squad, 2nd platoon of Bravo Co.  [ He actually won!]

As the US forces have reached phase line smart I could now bring in a fresh company to face an elite platoon of the Japanese to defend the hill.  The battle, having taken me 2 1/2 hours solo I decided to end it.  Well fought and exciting.  Pacific land combat is hard to game but I enjoyed this a lot. I really liked my use of O group combined with Battlegroup.  I only used 8 dice instead of 9 for both sides as I only had 2 companies on the board and that created enough tension with the orders mechanic.  I really did feel like I was in a Battalion/Company commander moving around units, cursing the artillery I couldn't get.  Now I will work on how to differentiate different platoon leaders.



Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Musings on rulesets for battalion level combat

 Wow.  I am actually playing something other than my new airplane game.  Once it gets cold in December it is hard not to want to game Battle of the Bulge or Russian Winter offensives.  [ Though I could play US air missions in support of the Ardennes!]  I decided to game the 4th armored's drive to relieve Bastogne.  When stationed in Germany I lived about two hours from the Ardennes so crawled around there several times so love the Bastogne stuff.  It had been about 6 months since I had played any battalion level combat so had to look at my notes and charts to figure out how I play.  I decided I better start small so took...

an advanced guard of the 4th.  Each stand is a squad and each vehicle is 2 so two vehicles are a platoon.  I realized I need two more shermans to have an armored company!  This is all straight out of Battlefront WW II which has been my go to rules. As I have mentioned before I love the combat system and the maneuver table so we aren't changing that.  Their sequence of play is very old school and leaders are not important.  So I tinkered with several rulesets over the weekend to see what I liked.  They are all good rulesets: 

O group

best parts:  I love the spotting rules and the use of recon elements.  My Greyhounds have never been so important as when I play a game of O group.  I like the D6 rolled for cover during combat; simple and effectively models concealment.

less than best parts:  All units are the same as far a leaders.  You can't have one LT shaky or great.  Also, maybe I am playing it wrong but I almost always have plenty of orders.  I have decreased the number of dice I throw but after a couple of turns it becomes repetitive.   

   My most excellent recon element ran into some german mortars.  

Chain of Command

I was a playtester for CoC so I think it is a great game.  I tried to upscale the game to battalion level with a junior leader being a platoon leader but didn't really like it.  In fairness the game isn't designed for this.  

Best parts:  Rolling dice and manipulating them is fun.  This was part of my inspiration for Boom and Zoom.  The variable ending of turns is neat as well as getting to go twice.

Less than best parts: Again leaders are generic as are units.  You can't have a shaky LT or one unit that is jumpy.  

A platoon of shermans looks over a village.

Piquet/Field of Battle

Most people already have an opinion about Piquet.  I will say that I enjoyed original Piquet but it was slow and impetus swings could make it very frustrating though not necessarily unrealistic.   Bret Oman has minimized/eliminated much of these negatives with Piquet second generation Filed of Battle.  Now I have 1st edition FOB for horse and musket only and just ported some ideas into modern warfare.  I have posted several games of my mashup of Battlefront and Piquet.  

Field of Battle mashup

Best parts:  You can include a card called "command confusion" or "brilliant leader" which can differentiate very good or shaky leaders.  YES! I use these for platoon leaders so maybe I know that Harry in 2nd platoon is weak or Herr Lackman of my panthers can get anything done I ask.  The cards are also great for solitaire as you can have your plan but you might not get the right sequence before your opponent messes it up. FOB really models the OODA loop.  Force morale in FOB is much better than original Piquet.

less than best parts:  rolling up the unit quality before the game takes a while and though only 25% of your force should deviate from the norm I always have about 50%.  It is also tempting to include too many cards in each deck which then slows the game down.

company mortars set up to support the advance.  Battlefront has the best artillery rules bar none. 

I went to the Piquet website to see if they had anything new and discovered they have a 2+ generation Piquet out called Battle Command.  So I looked for a review and found one here by our very own Sgt Steiner!  https://sgtsteiner.blogspot.com/2023/01/battle-command-obtained.html     

After reading the review and looking over his comments I thought Battle Command was interesting but appeared to have too many decisions and would slow the game down. But I did like the idea of having a primary use for a card and then a possible secondary use for just one platoon.  That potentially would be a tough decision to make.  "This one tank is exposed in the field and I need to move it.  But it would be really good to have all my infantry resolve their fire right now."  

Infantry resolving fire right now!

I tried it and it worked great.  So my latest rule mashup contains the following:

Battlefront WW II/ O group/ Field of Battle. 

So if you are interested in how I am currently playing then read on.  If not then just look at the rest of the pictures.   

Battlefront WW II.  All combat, artillery and pretty much everything except sequence of play.  

O group  Spotting rules and variable movement.  I also use the D6 for concealment.  For example, if a unit is in a wooden house I would roll a D6 along with my D12 [ forgot to mention I changed the battlefront tables to D12 to minimize the extreme results on either end].  If I rolled a 1-4 on the D6 I would subtract 1 from the D12 result. 

Field of Battle     I normally use about 10 cards per side as per field of battle.  I roll up my leaders and unit quality per Piquet Point of Attack or Forgotten Heroes. The unit quality matches the levels in Battlefront.  

For Initiative I roll opposed D6s or whatever I need:

If you tie reshuffle the deck.  Even numbers random event.

If you win by 1-2 draw 1 card than your opponent draws 1 card

If you win by 3 draw 2 cards than your opponent draws 1 card

If you win by 4+ draw 3 cards than your opponent draws 1 card

A german rear guard as their commander tries to save two 75mm guns from the advancing americans.  He ordered them to move in plenty of time.  What is taking them so long???!

There are several cards that have a possible secondary effect.  They are:

Tank Fire>>> Infantry Fire

Infantry Fire>>> Armor Move

Armor Move>>>Melee

Melee>>>Infantry Move

Infantry Move>>>Tank Fire

For these cards you can chose the primary action and play as normal.  If you want you can pick a platoon and roll their LD against a D6:

Lose you must do the primary action

Tie or win by 1 or 2 your platoon can do the secondary action

Win by 3+ you can do the primary action plus your platoon can do the secondary action.

   Now my junior leaders are definitely part of the action! 


The guns didn't get too far!

For every two stands destroyed or routed I add a hunker down card to the deck.  


That's pretty much it.   It gives exciting unpredictable games that are relatively quick.   If you try any of this let me know how it works.  If you have improvements let me know!

Hope everyone has a great holiday!

The Hauptman once again turns to Lachman to do the impossible.  Stem the tide until he can get the infantry to safety.



Monday, November 27, 2023

Why would the Fleet Air Arm want the Wildcat?

 Because the Fulmar fighter was woefully inadequate!  

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving; at least in the US.  Please remember all the US servicemen and women far away from home this holiday season; it is tough.  

Update on my aerial combat game that currently has no name.  I demo ed it at Waterloo games in Richmond, VA and I believe everyone had a great time.  We played Wildcats vrs Zeros and by the third turn of the first game people were grasping the concepts.  The performance dice and area movement take a while to get use to because they are novel but everyone enjoyed the games and felt they gave a good sense of aerial combat; which I was glad to hear.  JD had an insightful comment, "This is one level up from plane to plane skirmish."  I had not thought about it that way but I think he is right.  You normally move in elements because that is the most effective way to fight; not because the rules force you too.  Many thanks to Rob and the folks at Waterloo games for hosting us.  Would love to get back there in January. 

I have polished up the altitude rules and boom and zoom really works well now.  I think fighter verses fighter is close.  Am tweaking bomber defense still and have now started working on air to ground.  

I will post this report because I think readers will find it unusual.  I was reading that when the British decided to invade Syria the French actually reinforced Syria with several squadrons of DE 520s and MS406s.  The French did attack British naval forces several times.  I rarely get to use my Fulmars so here was an ideal opportunity.  

4 Fulmars defending a mixed force of British CAs and DDs against 6 Potez 663 bombers escorted by 3 DE 520s.   

   Prototype cards I am using for the game with no name.  Fortunately we start low but still, where are our Martlets?!?!

Lt Garret leads his flight towards trouble.  He is a veteran, with 2 average pilots and poor Hobbs without much experience.  

We are fighting because we are french and we like to make things difficult!  DE 520s start at medium low.

Lt Garret manages to work his way around to the side of the formation before they are spotted.  Since they are outclassed by the DE 520s they will go after the bombers and take their lumps from the fighters.  Go!

 Miles and Hobbs bore straight in and have a go.  They see strikes but the bomber chugs on.  [ The fulmars are barely faster than the bombers.]

Garret maneuvers to a bomber's 6 and lets loose wtih all 8 .303 Mgs.  This was a lot of firepower in 1938 but he is currently in 1941.   It appears he kills the back gunner. 

The french fighters are relieved to see fulmars.  The Lt tells his veteran NCO to break off and go after the second element while he dives after a trailing Hobbs...

Hobbs suddenly feels rounds hitting the cockpit and is badly wounded as french fighters flash by.  The French regain altitude.  


At the same time the French NCO settles in on the tail of Miles ... He is able to keep his large fulmar out of the frenchman's sites.    

Turn 2 as Garret trys to rally his men the french gain the initiative.  Hobbs radios he is badly hit and needs to head back to the carrier.  As he moves in that direction Lt Garret sees, to his horror, ...

a french DE 520 again diving down on Hobbs.  He yells as Hobbs takes more shells.  

The Fulmar is tough and stays in the air though now it is leaking petrol like a sieve.  Hobbs...

limps away where he will successfully ditch near the carrier.  Meanwhile, Miles doesn't stay out of the French NCOs sights forever and goes down. 


Lt Garret stubbornly sticks to his plan and makes another run at the bombers; we are here to protect the ships!.  This time he is rewarded by smoke pouring out of the port engine.  This bomber turns away and heads for home.

4 minutes into the battle.  1 Fulmar down, Hobbs limping back to the carrier, one bomber heading home trailing smoke.  If you are Lt Garret do you cut and run?  You are outnumbered by the DE 520s and two still have the height advantage.  Of course not!  You are a naval aviator in a crappy plane.  You have to protect the fleet.

As Lt Garret makes his wide turn to have another go at the bombers he is intercepted by a lone DE 520.  Lt Garret, being a veteran, fends him off with the help of his wingman.  He decides he will make a run at this pesky frenchman who has caused so much destruction today. 

He attempts to get behind him but all he can manage is a fleeting snapshot from the front as the frenchman goes by...

 and is rewarded as a thin trail of smoke starts to trail his opponent!  

But while this is occuring, once again the "Frun in the Sun" strikes!  He singles out Garret's wingman...

With disastrous results!

The smoking DE 520 leaves the battlefield while Lt Garret decides to avenge the loss of his comrades...

He lines up his shot carefully on another bomber and this time is rewarded as the wing collapses!  

He avoids yet another diving attack and british flak breaks up the party.   


Three french bombers approach a british DD.  [ I don't know if they can glide bomb but for today they can.]

The first two french aircraft miss the rapidly moving ship.  [ For those of you that think that is a Flower class DE you are WRONG.  Go back and study your ship recognitions.  I SAID it is a british destroyer.]

The third bomber scores a near miss with a 250lb bomb.  Water is a great medium and this actually causes...

Flooding on the HMS Generic British Destroyer.  Rolling on the "Fate of the Ship" table she will have to be towed back to Alexandria unless the French take another crack at her.  

Fun game that was a total disaster for the British.  Rules played very well.  In retrospect I think Lt Garret should have taken an element up high to deal with the Frun in the Sun.  Would be interesting to play it again like that.  Would also be interesting to play it with 4 Martlets instead of Fulmars.  Now I know why the Navy wanted them so bad rather than waiting for Corsairs!