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.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Revisiting Piquet with Lt LaRoche 1950

 Just after the beginning of the year I was straitening up my "study" and came across my Piquet stuff.  Now I bought Piquet about 15 years ago because I have always been interested in Command and Control and Piquet seemed to have a novel approach.  I played it for a while ( of course I modified it.) then discovered Too Fat Lardies and Troops Weapons and Tactics which I still think is the best model of leadership for squad/platoon level gaming that I have come across.  It does drag a bit as a game and you all have heard my groaning about Richard's shock system for combat.  I moved on to Force on Force which has everything but indirect fire and leadership which I corrected with my house rules.  Well now that I have moved up to company level I thought I would try Piquet again.  

Piquet is a game that people either love or hate. I actually like it because in my limited experience with war it is very chaotic and nothing goes as planned and nothing is easy. I also like that you can't move your units just out of cavalry range because you aren't really sure have far their cavalry can move. For anyone that doesn't know, Bob Jones took a wargame sequence and put each phase on a card.  The cards are mixed up and then you draw them. You have a contested die roll with winner picking the difference in the number of cards.  Loser picks nothing.   It was revolutionary at the time.     I bought Brent Oman's Field of Battle 15 years ago to try to address several burning issues with Piquet; namely huge impetus runs by one side and the fact that sometimes all you need is one card and it might have passed.  So your whole "strategy" is to burn through your cards to get to the next turn.  While defenders of Piquet say this shows that you are not being distracted by the cards and shows your are a great general [ or in my case a major or LtCol] it is indeed boring.

I played 2 test games of Piquet with companies of Germans and Russians solitaire. Please note I am only experimenting with initiative and command and control.  I am dead set on Battlefront for combat resolution.   First it is a great system for solitaire gamers.  You might want to close assault the building but you have to wait for the right card.  You also customize the decks, so for instance the German deck is more efficient while the russian deck has 1 more close assault card in it for their propensity to close with the enemy.  You really felt like a company commander ordering 1st platoon into the building and then wondering what was taking them so long to move!  Here is where my problem with the system showed up.  As a CO I couldn't do anything to get the platoon to move except to draw more cards.  So leadership is built into the decks and ratings but it is still abstract, at least for me.  As a surgeon I want to be able to go and physically get those people moving if I chose to do so.  

Stug fires during a playtest.
 

This moves us to Too Fat Lardies and Troops Weapons and Tactics.  While they are the wrong level Rich was on to something with his "big man" cards. Here leaders move the troops but troops don't do much without leaders.  So I thought I would add big man cards to Piquet, significantly decrease the number of duplicate cards in the deck to decrease time and increase the importance of big men and perhaps get the best of both worlds.  Here is a playtest that turned into a rocking game.

 French IndoChina 1950

Lt, because we are at the a** end of the world we will not be getting a replacement for our poor comrade anytime soon.  Tell me what do you think of your platoon Sergeant Poloski?

Sir, he is a fine NCO.  

What do you think of 2nd platoon?  

I think the platoon is all right but Lt Shiffron wasn't impressed with Sgt Jones.  

I agree Shiffron wasn't impressed but the Chef Sgt thinks he is okay.  I need you to oversee both platoons for the next month or so.  Have the NCOs run the day to day and just be there if needed.  Best to learn some of the men from 2nd platoon.

Yes Sir.

Mission    Patrol area on this photo for possible Viet Minh activity. 


 Characters

Lt LaRoche   Avg leader   foolhardy, fully supports the war.  son of wealthy parents.  Some people act out by becoming hippies, some by joining the French Foreign Legion!

1st Platoon  Sgt Poloski  Avg Leader  Polish NCO during the war.  Didn't return to Poland so joined the legion

2nd Platoon  Sgt Jones  Avg Leader  South African   Wanted for bank robberies.  joined the legion to lay low and found out he liked it.  [ another neat thing about Piquet is you roll up the quality of your units before the game.  2nd platoon was 1 step down from expected so they are experienced.  I hypothesize this is because their Lt was decapitated by a VC mortar 1 week earlier.]

Lt LaRoche's plan was to land a platoon on each side of the river and have them move up to check for contact.  He had a battery of 105s on call plus some maritime craft.   

[ At this time french squads had an authorized strength of 15 men, many with automatic weapons.  While I have no doubt they never reached this number I am using 3 regular french squads with LMGs and 1 SMG squad without an LMG to make up the french platoon.  Each squad can only take 2 disruptions before it is removed due to decreased manpower.   For those of you that play battlefront this should make sense.]

Per patrol scenario 1 blind on each side of the river [ black markers]

Lt LaRoche decamps onto shore.  He briefs Sgt Poloski on the plan.  2nd platoon will start across the river. LaRoche sets up his HQ. 


1st platoon moves out.  


Across the river 2nd platoon meets a VM blind in the jungle... while


 1st platoon gets closer to a VM blind as well.  

2nd platoon wins ( or loses) as their blind turns out to be 2 platoons + a 60mm Mtr in transit.  1 platoon is downgraded to raw which should help.  


 1st squad runs into a whole platoon of VM.  It doesn't go well for the french and the squad is wiped out.  


Yes I made up my own custom Piquet cards 15 years ago. Glad I didn't throw them out.   What do you mean I don't have a life?  I am well adjusted!  


Lt LaRoche hears gunfire across the river.  He sees the boats move up to the jungle to support.  Merde!  I should have stuck with 2nd platoon.  He can't seem to get a SITREP from Jones.  He recalls 1st platoon.  He needs to get over there before something bad happens.  

Despite the french deck being better the VM are getting all the right cards.  The VM manage to move up their mortar and start to effectively shell 2nd platoon.  Casualties start to mount...


LaRoche finally gets a report from Jones.  They are taking heavy small arms and mortar fire and have heavy casualties.  He suspects they have run into a reinforced company.  the boats finally get over as 1st platoon comes in. 


 Things are getting worse for Jones and 2nd platoon.  They are down to 50% effectives and morale is shaky at best.  [ very bad morale rolls] The battle has actually been going on for about 30 minutes since first contact.


The VM commander, sensing a huge victory, sends in his 2nd platoon to annihilate the foreigners.  [ I have to tell you I am sweating this out.]

What a great time to have a boat [tanks] move card come up!

What a great time to have some VM command confusion!  [ As the VM start to hesitate in closing with the french secondary to their inexperience.]


All right Pierre, let's get that 50cal working on this line of VM!  


The VM mortar hits the boats forcing everyone out.  There are casualties among the 1st platoon.  


At this point I draw Lt LaRoche's command card.  He gets 2 actions.  He attempts to rally 1st platoon [partially successful] and then leads a charge into the VM line! 

No contest.  The raw VM melt away.


 


The VM commander realizes they have hit their high water mark.  He sends 1st platoon away and tries to recover 2nd platoon.  

The energized 1st platoon continues to plow into the dazed VM platoon.  Now Sgt Polowski is running the show as Lt LaRoche goes over to see what is left of 2nd platoon.  

The carnage continued...


The 60mm Mortar manages to slip away...


As the VM head for their basecamp.  Their commander got a little too greedy and hadn't counted on Lt LaRoche and 1st platoon FFL!


Fantastic game!  I really thought 2nd platoon was going to be overrun.  Needless to say an excellent playtest.  I don't know if I will stick with this but it played fast and had all the tension I would want.  In addition, the leaders directly affected the outcome both good and bad.  

Post game I used Grunt's Forward to see if Lt LaRoche would get a medal.  I gave him an extra point because it was a dire situation and he actually made the first roll; Croix de Guerre with a Silver Star! His leadership rating also improves to good.  So word spread of his actions and the Captain wrote it up.  It is now making it's way through the system.  He puts in Sgt Polowski for an award; we will see.  What to do about Sgt Jones?  He is an average leader that had a run of bad luck.  All the stuff that makes gaming fun! 

Enjoy!


Joe












 

 

               

Monday, January 9, 2023

Outpost 10 Highway 1 1970 RSVN

 Happy New Year everyone.  I have been busy with family and playing ancients SAGA.  I have been painting up a storm of new units as the greeks need a lot of bodies.  I don't normally post reports of SAGA as they don't generate much interest but will give you all 2 pictures just to show what has been going on.


Greeks with long sticks


Greeks meet Gauls!

As a break I played a very small battle in SVN.  I wanted to use ARVN ACAV and play an ambush.  I rolled up the board and it showed a key building on a river.  Viola!  An old french outpost protecting a bridge.  This also showed me I will need a new scenario for Battalion Forward; rescue.  


"That's odd" Liem thought.  "Why would they be attacking at dawn?"  He tried to get a word in with the Colonel but couldn't.  "Get over there right away...., Make us proud..., Defeat the communists."  Liem had heard it all before.  He felt confident he was running into an ambush; did the Colonel know?  No matter, he would protect his forces as best he could.  At least he had some tanks going with him.

ARVN Forces [trained]

1 company of ACAV

1 platoon of walker bulldog tanks

[ raw] 1 platoon of militia guarding post

Outpost 10 at dawn.   


 Battlespace with OPFOR placed.  For those of you with Platoon Forward that want to try this the formula I used was:    A= 2A-1  B=2B where Bs included all vehicles.  

The VC get 2 turns to attack the outpost before Liem starts his trek.  They ended up with 2 platoons + HMG.  [ VC trained except for morale they are experienced]

The VC are stopped at the gates but along the river the fighting rages along the wire. 

The cavalry approaches.  The VC have RPGs and a 57RCL on the far side of the road.  

It is amazing how badly ARVN armor always rolls for me!  Meanwhile...


VC in the outpost!


Of course the last 2 "bulldogs" refuse to move!  Liem sends his first platoon around. 

Of course they mined the road![ 40% chance].  At least the tanks are moving up.


  Liem deploys.  He orders 1st platoon to take out the RCL.  We must get moving!

1st platoon carries the day!    Liem orders 2nd platoon forward towards the outpost.  Meanwhile...


Fighting at the outpost has ceased.  Several prisoners are being taken back to the jungle.  


2nd platoon is taking too long.  The VC are clearing out.

2nd platoon shows up.  No flag is flying over outpost 10.  They skirmish with a rearguard but it is clear that Charlie has slipped back into the jungle.    


Fun game that played fast; just about 60 minutes.  Clearly a loss for Liem but not sure he could have won.  Need to play several more times to see if this is close to balanced.  If anyone plays it let me know your results. 

 

Enjoy

 

Joe











Thursday, December 22, 2022

Infantry attack, USSR 1941 Battalion Forward PT

 So think I have the basics down for defend scenarios for Battalion Forward.  Have tried to meeting engagements.  Time to try an attack.  Now the enemy forces will be easy, it is trying to hide the enemies plan that will be the trick.  My initial thought will be delay, hold and hold at all costs and counter attack.  This particular battle will have a modifier as I don't think Russians delayed too often but it will depend on the forces they have at hand.  

Scenario will be a german infantry company with a platoon of Stugs is suppose to tackle russian infantry occupying a forest blocking roads leading into a town.  The russians are thought to be of company strength without armor assets.   The 3 german companies are all classed as experienced [ Battlefront] and 1st line [O group] with the B company leader rated poor. [ affects maneuver rolls and company generated orders] the Russians are rated raw.

The map. [ The soviets were conducting a space launch two miles above the top of the board hence the flash!] Germans enter from the right as per O group set up.  A company will demonstrate against the woods in the center supported by the guns on the hill and 81mm MTRs off board.  B company will lorry along main road and conduct main attack on woods from the top. A Stug section will support.  Combat patrols are sent out from the wings to scout the factory and trees above the main road.  C company will be reserve.  They will follow up assault into either factory or town as needed to clear area.  Sounds great right?!

For those of you familiar with Platoon Forward mechanism for blinds is similar with A, B and 2 C blinds set up across the board.  At this scale defense in depth is more practical.  About halfway through the game we will roll for Soviet mission based on assets on the board.

 


Blinds set up in the woods and factory...

1st plt A Company prepares to set off towards the woods.  Co/CC and Btl/CC watching.

As 1st plt sets off, 2nd plt/ A CO reaches the start line.  B company in trucks starts their journey to the right of the woods to start the main attack.  Unfortunately, the Soviets had the crossroads pre registered for artillery apparently!  Not good.  Our time table starts to slip.  Why don't we have halftracks? 


  1st plt/A co reach the woods with no contact.  A walk in the woods or have the soviets prepared a trap away from our stugs and mortars?  [ 2As and 1 B in the next line]

Rats!  A front line platoon and HMG...

A firefight starts in the woods.  The LT thinks where is B Company?  


B Company is having problems.  1st plt has decided it is safer to walk.  A combat patrol found another front line platoon dug in to some trees above the road.  The 2 surviving squads of 1st Plt plus Stugs and mortars go to clear the road.  [ The far squad is from C company and is a flank squad. Red based figures signify disrupted units, pebbles signify suppressed units.]


The battle end of opening stage, center, 2ndplt/A co advancing to help stalled 1stplt under cover of smoke.  B company 1st pt clearing trees near road to open road for rest of company to follow on to target woods. 

1st plt/A Co is now non effective.  A CO/CC switches from smoke to HE as he sends 2nd/plt in still trying to pin the main russian line.  [ At least I think it is the main russian line.] Battalion CC [me] still sticks doggedly to his plan. 

Beginning of mid battle.   1st plt/B Co has cleared the road. [ we don't see the ATG at the hill.  I rolled for it to see if it was real and if it wanted to fire.  It will wait for a vehicle to show up!]  Orders issued for B CO to advance to woods and assault.  2ndplt/ A CO to pin main Soviet line.  This will work!!!

 

The Soviets now uncover a third platoon! [ How many do these guys have?] Fortunately it is militia without LMGs.  These guys will move up to meet B Company.  [ ATG ineffective against trucks! Just shoot those guys.]

The fighting is close and intense.  At this point the Soviets orders are to hold the forest!  They attack with elan.


  Another view of the fighting...

Mid battle situation in doubt.  B company is having trouble deploying into and around the woods.  The Btl/CC [me] is debating going over there to sort it out myself otherwise people will criticize my perfect plan.  A Company is ordered to send in there last platoon and clear their half the woods.  The russians are now visable to the near stug which opens up.  I don't want to use C company because there is still the factory complex and I don't know what is in there.  

[ sorry lost the next few pics]  Mercifully B CO/CC pulls his head out and they do their job and clear the woods.  

At the factory the russians have a militia platoon and a section of ATGs.      At this point the germans have lost 9 stands of infantry.  [ 3 platoons/ 2 A and 1 B company].  If the Germans lose 12 stands they will lose per O group rules which I think appropriate here.  [ I waived this for the russians though they have lost 8.]

End game.  Co A has the right 3 hexes of the woods with Co B everything to the left of that.  You can see Co B is still strung out with their third platoon at it's jump off point.  Yet another combat patrol is approaching the factory to try to determine what is in there.  The remnants of the russian company are about to retreat to the factory. 


 Now I bring up C company for the final assault of my glorious and perfect plan!  

Drat that artillery! I can't afford to lose too many squads.

The combat patrol succeeds and we start to trade fire with the russians.  We have LMGs and Stugs and they don't so it goes well from our perspective. 


 After 10 minutes of softening up, even without C company it is obvious that the Soviets are going to lose.  They are down to 2 squads left.  The russians slip out the back.  My plan worked perfectly!  


Great game that was loads of fun.  I really felt like a battalion CO willing my companies to "do their jobs".  In hindsight my perfect plan could have used some work.  The road wasn't as clear as I had hoped.  I should have led B CO with my stugs.  Also leaving the most complicated mission to my worst company commander wasn't smart but I wanted to test my leadership rules; they passed.  He functioned but not quite as well as a normal CO.  I should have personally gone over and "helped" him at the cost of some command dice.  

The blinds and mission for the OPFOR also went well.  I pegged the Soviets at a Company plus several assets and they ended up with 4 platoons plus 2 ATGs and 1 HMG; not bad for a first test.  

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate.  Please remember our members in uniform far from home.  Keep them and their families in your prayers.

Peace

Joe