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.

Friday, December 21, 2018

OLtzS " Bobbi" Walther's bold adventure 1940

Continue to tinker with Cruel Seas and, after being spurred on by discussions about my somnolent Flotilla Forward decided to dust that off and play a Raid scenario.
For Cruel Seas have done the tweaks I suggested in my last post but for twin MGs I add +1 point of damage instead of adding an additional die.  ( I have also decreased all guns damage by 1 die).  This gives the boats more staying power.  I am still working on my critical hits chart and the correct frequency.
For Flotilla Forward no changes, I just played it straight out of the box.  I decided to use an S boat flotilla #2 based in Zeebrugge.  They have only been on 2 missions but plenty has happened.  They have sunk a mine sweeper and large merchant ship but their reputation has not spread yet. { Like Squadron Forward, people behave the way you expect.  If your Flotilla is bad ass then your folks will be more inclined to do great things.} 2 Characters have emerged from the 6 boat captains.  Lt zur See Jannewein is a former enlisted sailor who is gruff and ticks many people [ non player characters} off and Lt zur See Wehneit is just plain reckless.  On the last mission Wehneit "failed to see" the withdraw signal from the CO and pressed on with his torpedo attack that eventually failed.  OLt zur See Klaus read him the riot act and has threatened court martial if his eye sight ever fails again!

  In both Squadron Forward and Flotilla Forward I tend to rotate the mission lead between the CO and XO.  So this mission will be lead by OberLt zur See "Bobbi" Walther.  "Bobbi" is also a former enlisted man and his boat sank the freighter.   His mission is "raid".  He has to enter a small harbor and create a diversion for 3 turns ( 10 minutes) so some spy stuff elsewhere on the coast can occur.  Bobbi chooses to take a second boat along which will add a third blind to the English but 2 boats is safer and he knows we wont' be able to sneak in and out of the harbor because he has to cause a ruckus.  Feeling sorry for his former fellow enlisted sailor he tells OLT Klaus he wants to take Jannewein along.  Jannewein is gruff but a good man under fire.  Klaus agrees but adds, " You can take Wehneit too if you promise to leave him there."


OLT z See Walther    Careful/ Govt                 Avg ldr      Avg crew      S-38
Lt z See Jennewein     glum/ Govt       -1         Avg ldr      Avg crew      S-38

An S boat underway

Visibility is just under 2 miles.  Sea is calm with slight breeze blowing to the south.

Game commences 3 miles from the port.

E-boats approach 3 blinds.  2 Ds ( 80% small boats) and 1 C ( 80% modest boat)

One of the "D" blinds spots the germans and turns out to be a vosper.  I don't have any vospers in 1/600 so I substitute a Fairmile B. The other 2 blinds end up being just fog.

     The crew is on high alert  as they are within 3 miles of the port.  All eyes strain for enemy boats.
Suddenly shots are fired off the port bow!  Bobbi's boat takes minor damage.  He see a Fairmile through the darkness with a 3 pounder taking shots at him.  "Showtime!" he tells his chief and orders full speed ahead.

The s-boats approach the harbor.  Each hex is 100 yards.
Bobbi steers toward starboard hoping to use a squall to shield him from the ports guns and the fairmile.

Jennewein and the Fairmile trade shots.  Jennewein's antenna is destroyed.  Unbeknownst to the germans the Fairmile suffers engine damage.

Bobbi's boat enters the safety of the rain and he cuts speed to combat.  He knows Jennewein is experienced enough to do the same but in the rain his partner sounds closer and off to port.  He tries to raise him on the shortwave with no success.

Bobbi is through the rain and in the harbor!
He lays down smoke as shore batteries open up from both sides of the harbor.  "10 minutes chief!"
He sees some tanks on shore and orders his gunners to open up.   He is pleased as he sees hits register.

Staying at combat speed he makes a circuit of the harbor battling gun batteries as he goes.
Lt Jennewein ends up battling the Fairmile.  Bobbi sees his friend taking damage but doesn't realize how bad it is.  Jennewein's ships drops below 2/3rds damage which automatically means he can't go above combat speed.
Bobbi orders full speed as they reach the harbor entrance...
And after several minutes realizes his friend is unable to keep up.  Fortunately the smoke works and the ports guns remain silent and the fairmile can't keep up.  Their bold mission succeeds!  [ Actually you already know the Fairmile had engine damage as well and the port's 3 pounder actually malfunctioned at a most inopportune time! ]

Post battle Bobbi and his crew miss their rolls to increase to veteran status. But the actual Flotilla commander Fregatkaptain Froshler notices Bobbi and is impressed.  Also the unit's reputation increases to "1".  Both boats have major damage.  Bobbi's is repaired in time for the next mission but Jennewein's is not.

Great game that again played quick.   The rules continue to play smooth.  I realized I will need a critical hit chart for land targets as well.    Flotilla Forward played well also.  I think it is 75% there.  I might see if Warlord is interested.




Friday, December 14, 2018

Pinky's great adventure with Cruel Seas

I have tinkered with a set of coastal rules for 3 years now.  They were fun but not great fun which is why I didn't pursue publishing them.  Also have a campaign system, Flotilla Forward, waiting for a great set of tactical rules. 
I was intrigued with Cruel Seas; both the rules and the ships.   The ships look great but would be expensive and would they be too big to use?   Would the rules just be Warhammer on the water?  On Military Matters had a 15% introductory sale so I purchased the rules and the British and German fleets.  I saved the ships for Christmas but has read the rules and played 3 quick small games.  I was pleasantly surprised with the rules. While clearly meant to be introductory and quick play they have some meat on them.  You keep track of individual batteries of guns and their are critical hits.  My hats off to the authors as it is hard to write good, simple rules. Bravo!  
That said it is rare that I don't tinker.  First there is no stated scale.  Now I know authors dislike stating one because then people will argue about it but seriously, if I am going to have a narrative like the rules suggest I need a frame of reference.  "Pinky spotted the german craft at an indeterminate distance" sounds worse than " Pinky spotted the KFK at about 2 miles in the inky night air."  Best as I can tell by weapon ranges 5cm is around 100 yards.  Time I still don't know but I am not as worried about as Piquet cured me of that years ago.  So first we convert to hexes because I hate measuring stuff.  1 hex = 5cm= 100 yards. 

Next the author admits that many encounters ended inconclusively but in my playing the boats are shredded quickly.  Critical hits are very rare; the boats are just pounded into wet dust. (?) Great for the casual player but I decreased the effectiveness of the guns but increased the likelyhood of critical hits.  In my reading if a boat was going to sink many systems went wrong it wasn't just pounded.

Next I changed initiative.   I went with something similar to FoF but give credit to veteran crews so odds are they will activate first.  

Lastly in my game I loved spotting.  It was tense plus in the campaign rules you have dummy markers that you roll for just like Platoon Forward.  So I bolted on my spotting rules.

Whew!  Though it sounds like I changed a lot I really kept most of Cruel Seas and it is still easily recognizable as that game except for the spotting.   I do like it.   So on to play test my new rules...

Pinky's adventure  ( 1/600 scale ships.  The 1/300 scale are under the tree.)

Lt Pinky Winthrope RN    Pessimistic/ Wealth    broke gentleman       Veteran
Fairmile B

Dec 1941
Off the coast of France  Sea calm    Visibility 1 mile

Pinky had always loved the sea.  His problems seemed to drift away with the wind there.  He knew he was pessimistic but he had every right to be.  Life never seemed to work out.  Born to an upper class family he saw the money evaporate as he grew up.  He could not afford an upper crust college but his family did have enough connections to secure a navy commission after graduation.  After several middling years he left to make his fortune in the world of high finance.  That didn't work out either so when the war came he was happy to get his old commission back. Stuck with land duty he had volunteered for the coastal forces 6 months ago.  His seamanship was quickly recognized and he hoped to be promoted soon which would mean more money.  While he didn't think he was beloved by the men he knew he was respected as a capable officer who would complete the mission and get them home.
Complete the mission, he thought.   That will be tough tonight.  He was to make a rendezvous along the coast with the resistance and pick up someone with vital information and bring them home safe.

The board.   Winthrope bottom right the KFK far left.  Beach is green.

Pinky's Fairmile B

"Blimey a patrol boat!" cried Sam Jenkins when they were a mile and a half from the beach.  Pinky took out his binoculars.  It appeared to be a Kreigfischutter; slow but well armed.  " Pipe down lads!" said the chief.  Churchill hisself can hear you.    Pinky decided just to watch the cutter.  Maybe they would get lucky.   A half mile later a 37mm gun shattered that thought.  [ Germans were inexperienced and took a while to spot the slow moving fairmile. ]   Pinky ordered smoke and they made it to the beach with little damage.

Pinky at the beach.    So far so good!

A greasy frenchman boarded and Pinky ordered full speed ahead.  He knew he could outrun the cutter. once he got going. 

Pinky underway again.    At this point all 4 batteries of the KFK hit Pinky.  His boat is badly damaged.  Also a Raum boat arrives to the party. 

As they started to gain speed the boat was rocked be several explosions all at once.  A fire started amidship and he could hear the engines sputter.  Things look dire  [ 17 hps left] and Pinky considers sending the frenchman back over the side.  He stops engines and before he can yell orders the Chief is running to put out the fire in a flash.  "Damage report?"  The ship is hurt badly but she can still make combat speed.  [ engine critical ].  Pinky decides they CAN and  WILL make it.  "Push the engines Chief" he roars.  We are getting out of here."

The 20mm targets the cutter while the 3 pounder takes on the Raum boat.  For the first time this night he sees a wonderful sight.  Flames erupt from the cutter!  "Great shooting lads!" he yells towards the stern.

The KFK on fire.  She is effectively out of the battle with her inexperienced crew. 

As the engines rattle Pinky sees the Chief go down to the engine room.  Now it is one on with with the Raum boat.  This early Raum boat only has a 37 mm aft and LMG amidship.  They share a top speed normally but the Raum can take more punishment.

A Key moment in the battle.  Pinky's 20mm comes through again!

As Pinky tries to nurse his boat away from the coast the Raum boat closes to 300 yards.  Pinky sees a second wonderful sight.  A small flash occurs at the stern of the Raum boat that all his gunner's eventually claim.  It turns out that the 37mm gun is taken out by a British shell!  The Raum is now left with only LMGs!    Pinky has a real chance to complete the mission now!   The race is really on!

The Race is on!

The German tries point blank MG fire but that alone is not going to sink a ship. 

Pinky decides to remind the German who outguns who and delivers a devastating broadside in which all guns hit.  No criticals but the german is reduced to 16hps left and decides to save his ship. 

Pinky and his crew have an uneventful ride back across to England as the Fairmile manages to make it home.  England is saved!!!

Fantastic game that I could not have scripted any better.   The whole thing took an hour and was played on a 4x5 table.  Even with the damage reduced if all guns hit on a turn the results are devastating.  That said I like the damage where I have set it and like the frequency of criticals.  I forgot to mention I expanded the critical hit table as well. Will try a couple more games but have to say I am quite pleased with Cruel Seas and my modifications.  I think it is a solid system.  Can't wait to try it out with the larger ships.
those that want to try to fight with ( or against) a Kreigfischcutter I had to make up stats.  I used these:
Hit Points 75       slow speed 5 knots    Combat  10 knots     Full speed    none
1 37mm fore
1 20mm fore
1 37mm aft
1 HMG mid 







Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Bomber in the bazaar

Finally played a more traditional Grunt's forward battle for my blog than I have done recently.  I used a platoon out of the 10th Mountain Div in Afghanistan.  I run many platoons but some platoons very quickly develop character and storylines and this is 1 such platoon.  I decided to focus on 1 squad and have the rest of the platoon NPCs.  They have only had 3 battles but a lot has happened.  The LT is mercurial so is immature.  He can be a nice guy but since he is inconsistent the NCOs try to keep him at bay to protect the rest of the platoon.  The leadership at the SL level is average but as expected is weak at the fireteam level.  For the 2nd FT of the first squad ( the squad of my focus) CPL LaBell was so bad the morale dropped and Sgt McMann was trying to mentor LaBell until the Corporal was killed.  Morale  improved and Lt Richards was on a run with Sgt McMann when the convoy was ambushed.  1st squad performed very well and the US beat the ambush without loss.  Lt Richards was impressed so when a tasking came down for a cushy 4 day assignment in town providing security for a bigwig meeting he gave it to Sgt McMann and first squad.  [ Now you are all caught up!]
 Eagle-3    1 US squad  8/8
Sgt McMann  former fisherman  Cheery/ wealth     Avg ldr    squad +1 towards him
1st FT Cpl Adams  orphaned ranch hand  jovial/ religion   poor ldr   FT +1 towards him
2nd FT Cpl Anderson  son of a miner   idealistic/ wealth   poor ldr   1st mission as FT lead

The last 2 days had been great!   They set up a cordon during the day in front of a hotel as some bigwigs met with some muhla types and actually slept in beds at night.  There were even some SF guys around in case things got bad.   The LT actually helped them out this time.
 Today their orders were different.  It appeared the conference had ended early.  Sgt McMann didn't know if that was good or bad for national security but did know they were suppose to patrol a bazaar near the hotel.  "Just walk around a smile.  Show the people that the government is here to protect them.  And keep an eye out for anything suspicious." the captain had told them.

He didn't like this assignment much.  Walking around in a crowded bazaar seemed like a good way to get killed.
  The bazaar looking not too crowded

Local shoppers elbow their way to the stalls.

Suddenly his earset crackled to life, " Suspected suicide bomber enroute to bazaar.   Eagle-3, clear civilians from bazaar and neutralize bomber if found.  Avoid civilian casualties.  Deadly force authorized only upon positive identification.  Eagle-5, provide support to Eagle-3."  Now he really didn't like the assignment!
With no time to lose he sent each fireteam down 1 half of the bazaar with their ANA interpreters in the lead trying to tell the throngs to leave the bazaar.  [  Force on Force has great rules for this.]
1st FT with "Jimmy" doing some fast talking...     [ yes Jack you painted Jimmy!]

2 of the 3 groups of civilians are cleared before the bomber enters the bazaar. 

The bomber is positively identified by a SF sniper on a nearby roof  (eagle-5) who misses the shot.  Cpl Anderson feels his team has a clear shot and orders his team to take it. 

The good news, 1 dead bomber.  The bad news, 1 dead civilian.    You can also see some rebels on a roof in the background.  Rebel fighters had started to surround the bazaar.  With shots fired they came into attack. Sgt McMann's squad is now outnumbered 4 to 1 and in the open.  Time to retreat!

So the squad begins to leapfrog back towards the hotel.  The SF sniper team joins.  Sgt McMann calls for a show of force airpower but nothing is coming soon. 

Cpl Anderson is pinned down in a building so the rebels rush in.  Cpl Anderson keeps his head and orders an orderly retreat.  There will be no rout today! 

The entire squad makes it off the board without loss!   By points this was a US win but I called it marginal since they were run off the board and caused a civilian casualty.  Still they didn't lose anyone.  Very fun game that took an hour.

Post battle the squad now loves Sgt McMann and their morale goes to 10 when he is around.  2nd FT was also impressed with Cpl Anderson.  I would have put Anderson in for a medal for shooting the bomber but killing a civi kinda tarnishes that.  Sgt McMann missed his leadership roll so he is still average.  Back at the barracks, Cpl Rendon from the heavy weapons platoon approaches Sgt McMann.  While embarrassed, he explains that on his last mission he lost a cross that his mom gave him and knows he will die if he doesn't get it back.  Any chance Sgt McMann could go with him to the spot where he is sure he lost it?  What answer but "yes" can our hero say?  [ I told you this platoon is generating a lot of great stories.  This is certainly Platoon Forward at its best to me.]




Monday, November 19, 2018

3 battles with my brother

My brother visited over veteran's day and my wife was nice enough to allow us to be kids and play lots of games.  He is a boardgamer who has yet to see the light of miniatures but he is a good sport and a worthy opponent.  I wanted to show him my fusion of Force on Force and Combat Patrol to see if he liked it as much as my son did.  He is a WW II buff  so I thought I would go with a WW II scenario. 

US armored column entering a german town.  He had a squad of SS and a squad of volkssturm.  He didn't appreciate my volksturm's ragtag appearance.  I told him that is what made them historically accurate but he was unimpressed.  ( Maybe I should have tried FOW or Bolt Action.)

German ATG takes out a sherman!

Panzerschrek team crossing open ground to take a shot at another sherman.  These guys made it only to miss their shot!

Stug comes in late game only to be destroyed by an american bazooka. 

Game really wasn't that much fun.  I violated a main rule of scenario generation.  Always give players choices and preferably options to move.  Once he set his defense he just sat there as I came at him.  Rats.    
So we played his board game PanzerGrenadier which was short and actually fun except for terrible aircraft rules.  We also played Wing Leader which was fun. 
Then, being a good sport he said he would try another go at my miniatures.  We picked a scenario out of the FOF Cold War Gone Hot book ironically,Bruder gegan bruder and played.  

The East germans are trying to transit the board with some bridging equipment and the west germans are trying to stop them.  I figured I could get my colorful Ost Germans on the board at least.
My brother chose the West Germans.

On the very first turn...

My East Germans come in dutifully and see a leopard firering.   The Leopard misses and what do you know...

hit the leopard partially hull down on a hill while moving!   Great picture but not good if I want to keep my brother engaged. 

The obvious place for my brothers ATGM teams were the hills so I spotted all over them but he was sneaky...

In the woods at ground level a milan missile streaks towards a T-55AM.

It finds its mark!

Fortunately for game balance my brother received a ATGM toting helo as a random event that ran rough shot over my trucks!  [ Also suggested maybe a german helo for a Christmas gift?!?!?!]

One of the unseen helo's victims.

A german wielding panzerfaustman steps out of a cottage and fires...

and a BTR is destroyed with 3 infantry casualties.  

This was a fun game and we both enjoyed it.  He caught on quickly and the game moved at a fast pace.  I think both he and my son like the new system I am using.   I really enjoyed his visit and appreciate both him and my wife.

Inspired by the above battle I rolled up an East German motorized rifle platoon.  They are from the 7th Panzer division stationed outside of Dresden.  I was going to write up their first battle but it was so short that it wasnt' that interesting.  Unteroffizer Balack's squad surprised the americans and routed them.

Mission was simple; capture the hill.  The US had a 3 turn head start. 

By the time Balack got there the US was already climbing the hill.  He heard engines straining and peaked around the corner to catch the tip of a M 113 advancing.  He debussed his squad and went to work.

The US was routed with no German casualties.    Amazingly Balack's skill nor standing with the squad improved from this one sided victory. 

Only other thing to note was I tried my hand at the US winter camo as outlined by MERDOC

Here is my attempt
Here is Battlefronts rendering.    I was pretty happy with my results.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving.   Please remember all those troops deployed away from their families this holiday.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Ambush along route 6

Hope everyone is well.  I reached 3 milestones this weekend. First my youngest turned 19; hence I am really old!. Second, I tried out custom Fog of War decks that are nation and war specific.  Thus the free world forces now have their own FOW deck for my Vietnam games.  The US player will rarely have equipment break compared to the french or ARVN but his troops will be more brittle.  If this works I will probably try to sell them on wargame vault for $1 per theater-- let's see if they work first.  [ proceeds will go to the local food bank as always.] Third, I allowed someone other than myself to control one of my platoons.  My son, home from school saw me setting up "ambush along route 6".  I invited him to play and he actually said "yes!".  Because of this I only took 4 pictures but the narrative is pretty good.

The company commander patiently explained to the Lieutenant that the regiment had decided to start opening up route 6 in the delta.  He was to lead a "thunder run" as the americans called it, and go looking for trouble by springing an ambush. " Push through the ambush but then stick around to fight and defeat them."  He would have a light tank attached in case their were mines.

Lt Nguyen Duc   Son of land owner    idealistic/engineering degree     poor leader
1st sq Sgt Pham Van    Fisherman before draft, meek/ wealth               poor leader
2nd sq Sgt Dao Khiem  apprenticed to butcher,  glum/ alcoholic          average leader   sq +1
1 Walker Bulldog attached

Everything fine at the moment!
Order of march is 1st sq, HQ, 2nd sq

Suddenly rifle fire and grenades are everywhere around the column!  Duc can barely peek his head above the lip of the carrier to see.   The tank guns it and drives down the road; never to be seen again!  Coward!, shouts Duc.  [ cool FOW event!]  First sq rotates to face the hill where the heaviest fire seems to be coming from.  Looking back, second squad takes off away from the fire into a field. ( they failed a morale check.) The LT decides to turn the track around and fire the 106 RR.  

A rifle grenade hits the back door and penetrates.  

Lt Nguyen piles out of the M113 and collects his men.  1 is bleeding badly but no one else is hurt.  He retreats to the rice paddies.  

VC pour fire on the small column

Sgt Dao meanwhile recovers his wits and manages to destroy a RPG team in the nearby jungle.  
The Lt radios for air support while Sgt Pham trades fire with the VC on the hill.  After 1 of his gunners is seriously wounded he too retreats into the paddies...
1st Platoon's small enclave while they await air support

At this point the LT has pulled his forces back at least 60 yards from the VC so he outranges them.  Knowing some type of reinforcements will soon show the VC break contact.  
1st platoon sustained 1 KIA and 2 WIA and lost 1 track that was recovered and repaired.  Charlie had 3 KIA.  However, since ARVN didn't control the battle field we declared it a Viet Cong victory.

Great game that was completed in just under an hour.   Post game Lt Nguyen calls the armor officer Lt Qui who is a devout Buddhist and inept military man to complain about the tank's actions.  He agrees to discipline the crew and volunteers to personally accompany the platoon on their next mission to make amends.   In addition, 1st squad, having sustained 2 WIAs, is not happy with Sgt Pham's leadership and they move to -1 towards their squad leader. 
For those of you that want to try this Grunt Forward generated the following for the VC
1 mine, 2 squads + 1 RPG, 1 RPG team, 1 75mm RR, 2 Avg leaders.   

Of course the best part was sharing the experience with my son--- priceless.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Cold War Tanker finished

Real World has interposed into my wargaming.  This time that has been a good thing.  Trip to Las Vegas, baseball playoffs and kids visiting has left little time or need for my normal escape.  that said, finished Cold War Tanker poolside in Vegas.  The offensive stats steadily increased throughout development.  Also added rules for unbuttoned as I think this is a big part of situational awareness.  So what I hope is the final draft is off by carrier pigeon to Lard Island.  We will see if it makes it into the special.  As I haven't gamed much here are some pics of my final playtests.

I really like the east vrs west germans for some reason!

East Germans use the new "platoon movement"rule.

BTR stops for Gas ( or petrol)

This doesn't look good! 

The fate of BRDM-AT every time he takes the field!


Infantry in the open don't fair well in the infantry rules.

This looks like a good position and it shows off the new station wagon Joe painted up.

This should have worked out well for the East Germans but they lost the initiative.
Jagpanzer meets german infantry at the gas station.  ( The ridges in the 3D models just bug me; sorry!)

Sneaky shot!

So hope everyone is doing well.
Hopefully you will see Cold War Tanker in the Christmas Special.  It has been fun to develop.