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, February 24, 2014

Dog raid on a small Italian port

Allright, finally started getting tired of playing Donnybrook.   Did try it with dark ages and it worked well.  Both sides are evenly matched so a bit generic compared to SAGA but I can work on that by setting up characters.

A Saxon and Viking (D12) hero battle it out!  Great fun that. 

Also penned a humor article called "Confessions of a Dice Junkie" for WI and "Leadership Matters" a variant for SAGA for WSS.  Guy at WSS is a nice person but pretty unreliable at answering stuff so I won't hold my breath for the SAGA article.  I have almost finished "We got the Beat" my age of Sails variant that Jack has asked about.   That should be off in 2 weeks.

Picked up Dog Boats at War  by Leonard Reynolds at a used book store.   What a great book!  It covers the channel, Med and Norway and has a lot of scenario ideas.   Am still tweaking my Release the Hounds rules as it is either perfect for MTBs or DDs.   Think I found the solution.  Roll 2D6s to even out the variance in the combat table but allow for the "big hurt".  Also wanted to test out my sea to land rules.    So pulled out my MGB flotilla in the Med and sent them against a small port on the island of Sicily using Flotilla Forward.   This is only their second battle and their SO is not popular. 

Lt Jones RNVR was happy to finally be raising some hell.   There last several patrols had found nothing.  Tonight his lads would stir up trouble like commandos!   All they had to do was run along a port and shoot at anything in it!  He could lay off the booze for that.

Lt Jones     Haughty/ alcohol                     avg crew
Lt Van Heiss   Naive/ revenge   privlaged          avg crew
Lt Peters         Cheap / family                      poor crew

The target!    20mm guns on the quays.    2 37mms far left.   2 88mm far right.

Roll for ships in the harbor tonight.     One coastal defense ship armed with a 37mm forward.
2 unarmed schooners and a small merchatman. 

Dog Boats moving smartly.   No random events on the way to target.

Despite visability being almost 2 miles Lt Jones gets to almost a mile before the Italians notice.  ( It is late afterall!)   

Surprise is almost total as the Dogs begin their run across the mouth of hte port.  Tracers flash across the night sky bringing calling cards of death and destruction.

After their run the patrol boat is wreaked and the merchantman is on fire!!! 

Lt Jones decides, with only light damage to his own forces, to pass across the entrance one last time.  He is tempting fate to accomplish even greater feats.  Lt Van Heiss, bent of revenge, couldn't be happier.  Lt Peters, is not so sure, but falls into line.

The British do silence one gun on the quay, destroy a truck and damage a schooner but the 88s start to find their mark.  Lt Jones' boat is hit causeing engine damage and Lt Van Heiss' boat sustaines a near miss.  Lt Jones beats a hasty retreat making smoke as he goes.  Lt Peters is happy to comply.

A hasty but truimphant exit!

Very fun game that played fast!  Whole thing took just over an hour because only one side moved.  LtCdr McSwain was delighted.  Lt Van Heiss earned the speed skill and one of the two boats will be fixed for the next mission.   Liked the sea/land rules and the 2D6 system worked well.  Will have to try it out on some bigger boats now!



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Donnybrook/ Analysis and AAR

After 4 games of Donnybrook am starting to get me head around the rules.  Read my review of them and thought, good review but no analysis.  If I had handed this in at the pentagon my boss would have handed it back!     So here is my anaylsis of Donnybrook.  Read the review from 7 Feb and then come back...

What I like about Donnybrook is the musket reload card.   Sharp's Practice doesn't have this and it is a great idea.  To be fair to SP, most of those weapons are rifles but it is a great idea.  It adds unpredictability to the reload sequence. ( have to figure out how I am going to do rifles!)  I like the card activation in general as I play 90% solitaire and this mechanism is very solitaire friendly.  Changing the type of dice is novel and I will see if I like it.   For hand to hand I think it works brilliantly and you can differentiate your hero (d12) from some scrub sailor (d6 or 8).  As readers of this blog know I have been looking at how to do boarding actions for my pirate games.   Donnybrook is the answer almost unmodified!  The only modification it needs is for combat to be simultaneous.  There are instances (such as first round of boarding) where the defender should go first but the rules state that the attacker normally goes first.  This is just too much of an advantage to me and I have played it simultaneous after the first two games and it playes very well.   There are not a ton of but several well thought out modifiers that give the combat flavor.   It is very bloody but I would expect a Donnybrook to have men quickly out of the fight.  (not neccessarily killed)    I also love the wound table you roll if a character is hit.  It is tied to the type of die so a bigger big man has less chance of being hurt or killed; elegant!!   The factions are also well done.  The characters by and large are useful, add color and are not too powerful or gamey.  This is what is slowly turning me off to SAGA. 

What I don't like about Donnybrook is that after playing Sharp Practice the combat in the open seems suicidal.  These are muskets not rifles and I can't get anyone across open ground.  In SP you need a 5-6 to hit on a D6 at short range.  then you roll a save with 1-2 being a miss, 3-5 being shock and a 6 being a kill.  In DB you need a 6 to hit and there is no saving throw. That seemed much deadlier upon reading and in practice this has proven to be the case.   My asaulting units always get 50% casualties then roll a 1 or 2 on morale and rout or retreat.  Now mathimatically this shouldn't happen but it continues. I am not am expert in this period but one of these two game systems has it a bit off.   While we are knocking the shooting,  unlike the Donnybrook sequence which has a few elegant modifiers, there are no modifiers for muskets other than being in close order-- boo.  Now I understand I don't need to hold my fire until I see the whites of their eyes but it would be cool if I had too!  The last thing I was disappointed about was the morale rules.  They have been kept intentionally simple but they are a bit too simple for my taste.  They don't kick in until 50% of your unit is gone and then you either retreat or are removed from the board.  This just doesn't seem as elegant and well thought out as other parts of the rules.  I was hoping for some wavering and a chance to stop routing troops.

Despite the shortcomings I think it is a very good set of rules.   As stated in my review it offers a lot, particularly for someone not well versed in the period.  It is easy to make a game complex.  It is a tribute to Clarence that Donnybrook is relatively simple.  The structure is there for the gamer to add his own level of complexity should he wish too.   Highly recommended!

Break Break-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Since this blog is suppose to be about battles I will give you one.   I have started to add my house rules to Donnybrook.  These include variable movement, new morale, saves in the open for muskets, new leadership rules and two tea break cards instead of one.   So far I am going to call this "Donny Practice."   Off course once the rules are set I will roll this into a campaign format of "For King and Country."    I take you now to Tangiers and Lt Prescot of the 21st regiment of foot...

"Prescot!  I need you to take a cannon over to the bastion we are building over near the west side of town.  These Wahlahs are all over so take some men with you to ensure the cannon gets there." 

So Lt Prescot's adventure in Tangier begins.  The men are still settling in so he takes a dozen including a promising Corporal named Tenison.   They meet the four naval crew and off they go.

Lt Prescot   D10  LvL 2     Gambler/ wealth
Cpl Tenison D8   Lvl 0      Pragmatic/ religious
standard bearer  11 drilled soldiers
Petty Officer Childs  D8  LvL0 and 3 drilled sailors + 1 light cannon.

 The board with the Berbers in hiding!

 Lt Prescot leads his men!

 The evil natives lie in hiding!

Suddenly the sky darkens with arrows  and two men fall from the lead column. 

 Banshees break from cover to attack the column.   The English are momentarily stunned!

 The Wahlahs are on the cannon before the Navy knows what hit them.  The Tars beat a hasty retreat under the Arab wrath.

 Cpl Tennison gets his men into a firering line.  Will they get off a crushing volley in time? 

 The Arabs are too fast.   The Donnybrook is furious as both sides loose two men.  (I  play simultaneous.)  Unknown to the Corporal at the time, one of the Berbers he knocks unconcious is actually a well respected Berber fighter.  Mercifully, the Wahlahs don't like english short swords and retreat back to the palms!  ( In the event of a tie both sides take a morale check.) 

Meanwhile back at the head of the column...

Lt Prescot recovers his senses orders his men out of column and fires at the advancing calvary.  (Being a lvl II leader helps! )  Of course my die rolling continues and 3 of the 4 horsemen are slain in the open even with a saving throw.  
 Lt Prescot takes stock of his situation.   He has 4 men at the back of the column.  2 sailors and 4 men left at the front with arrows starting to rain down that kill another man.  While his men are reloading the archers put down their bows, draw swords and ...
CHARGE!    The fighting is furious and our Lt is in the thick of it for two rounds.  Two additional troopers fall and our Lt is severly wounded but three of the horsemen are slain.  The final one turns and leaves to go back to his evil lair. 

Great game and I was please that my changes enhanced the game for me.   Still working on the musket fire in the open.   Will play a couple more games with a 6 saving throw and see how it works.  Maybe I am missing something.   I really had fun though and that is what counts.   For those whishing to try this the Natives had

Leader  mounted   D10
4 elite calvary bows and long swords
4 drilled calvary  spears/ shields
Sgt d8 long sword shield
6 raw infantry with spears or long swords and shields   I would probably give them 8 if playing again.

Natives set up hidden.   Don't forget English get -1 morale against natives.   



Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Donnybrook Review

Finally got the Donnybrook rules I have wanted.   Must commend Mr Hilton on his customer service as it was quite an ordeal to get the money paypal'ed to him!  
Have played four games withe them so here are my impressions:  be advised I have never met a set of rules I have totally liked!
First off the production values of the book are top notch.  There are tons of colored (coloured if you are from the wrong side of the pond) pictures of well painted figures to inspire and the book is well layed out.  It comes in at 110 pages so there is plenty to look at.  There is no index but there is a separate quick referance sheet which answers 90% of questions. 
The rules are card activation type with units getting to move or fire on their card. (Someone will say the rules state you can do both but practically musket units can't. )  Firering units having to roll a number (6) to achieve a hit. Each man gets to roll a die. The better drilled a unit the larger type of die (D6, D8 ect) it gets to use. Units in cover get a save roll. If you are hit you are dead.  (Since units in the open don't get a save roll combat in the open is very deadly. )  Think Piquet at the skirmish level without impetis and you get the idea.  They do include a "turn end" card and a "musket reload" card to add some chaos. 
There is no variable movement unless you move through broken terrain then you roll 2 die and take the higher. 
Morale does not come into play unless a unit is at 50% strength then the unit takes a morale check with each loss.  This can result in retreating or routing off the board.  The loosing unit in a melee (a donnybrook) also takes a moral check.  Donnybrooks are handled similarly to firering except while there are a noticalbe abscence of modifers there, their are some cool modifiers here.  As an example long swords and bayonets get a +1.
The rules also introduce characters which, as you might expect, add a lot of character to the game. A great thing about character is when they are killed they get to roll on the character killed table which will result in them being unconsious, killed, reduced in ability or barely scratched.  There are also a list of "factions" that include government troops, outlaws, highlanders and the like.   Each of these factions have their unique characters.  These characters bring unique things to the table.  For example,  the highlanders have a piper.   Any unit within the sound of him (a foot) can throw 2 dice for their morale check and take the better one.  Most of the factions are written generically enough that the player can use them for many things.  For example, Outlaws can easily be modified to be highwaymen in Scotland, smugglers on the continent or Pirates in the Carribean. 
Factions included are government troops, civilian mob, covenanters, cultists, highlanders, outlaws, rapparees and tribal.  These all look fun but the cultists and civilian mob seem gamey to me. 
Next there is a section on weapons and special rules.  This is helpful and it is short.
Afterwards is a section of events that can be used.   While fun to read I don't think anyone would use these in a game.  The effects of some are huge but some people might like them.
Next come 6 scenarios that are pretty standard fare. 
The seventh scenario is not only well thought out but is shown in comic book format using painted miniatures!  Very cool!  I am going to order some Spanish just because of this scenario.
Finally the book ends with 20 pages of light history of various wars copiously illustrated with photos of miniatures.   For people that are well versed in this time period and know how to paint the figures, this will be a waste; but for me I really enjoyed this part of the book. 

Great looking pictures and history for novices
Best melee (Donnybrook) rules I have seen
Card activation easy for solitaire games
Factions are fun without being too gamey

Musket combat too deadly in open  (I have only had one instance where a unit succesfully charged and managed to get into close combat with a musket unit.  Have modified this to units in open get a saving throw of 6.)
Morale rules weak  (I was expecting more meat here.)

Bottom Line
These are a great set of rules and I recommend them.  They are simple and fun.  They are particularly useful if you do not know the period.  I am tinkering with the morale rules and am going to incorporate Big Men into the system.  It is a tribute to Clarence that his rules are sound enough to bear these changes.  The other changes I have done are: variable movement and added a second Tea break card.  ( Muskets are only reloaded if the card comes up before the first tea break card though.)