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.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Malta Spitfires

 Holiday greetings.   Am building a schooner for Post Captain but have also been engaged in my Down in Flames/ Bag the Hun mash up.  It has been going so well that I thought it was time to try it with Squadron Forward.     I did purchase the latest version to DIF and it is a good one.  Dan did what he set out to do, make a light, quick dogfight game that is fun.  Of course my goal so I changed some things.   Wingman have been beefed up considerably and I tweaked the stats as well.  Lastly it was now TOO easy to maneuver so that had to be toned down.    I am not suggesting these tweaks for everyone, only those people with obsessive disorders.  Anyway on to Malta...

As you may be aware Malta was pounded by the Axis for several years.  It had more bombs dropped on it than London.  King George bestowed his cross on the entire island for bravery; it is on their flag to this day.  My Spitfire squadron there has had 3 battles with mixed results.  They lost their CO on the first mission.  They finally have a new CO in from Egypt.  On his second day the alarm sounds as a german raid has been picked up...  [ I roll up intercept and it is JU-88s with ME 109Fs]

Sdr Ldr Lynch  Egotistical/position          Vet with 2 kills in Egypt

F/O "Bullet" Skeel    Corrupt/ position       Avg


Flt Lt Barnes      Pragmatic/alcohol       Vet with 1 kill on Malta

Sgt Joey Towson  Fickle/engineering    Vet with 1 kill on Malta

Sgt Randell      Cocky/family       Vet with 1 kill on Malta    Flying demon   +1 performance.  disliked by the squadron because he was Sdr Ldr Landry's wingman and they blame him for the CO's POW status. 


I roll up 3 ME 109s but at least they are out of position.  The brits only get to go first with no other advantage.  Sdr Ldr Lynch didn't line the boys up well I guess.  The plan is for Lynch, Bullet and Randell to go after the bombers while Barnes and Towson kept the 3 fighters busy.   We will see how this works out...

My BTH cards and new DIF cards.   My mods to the DIF cards are both fighters have horsepower of 3/2 and both are spritely which cancels out except at high altitude.  There the ME 109F drops to average so the spits have a slight advantage.  Note the germans begin at high altitude as noted on the stands.  


 Lynch and Bullet have a go doing minimal damage.   Sgt Randell...

Gets in very close and lets loose.   The bomber's wing is shredded but Randell develops a leak in his petrol tank.  It is a wash; both planes are damaged enough to abort and leave the battle.

Meanwhile above the bombers Flt Lt Barnes picks out a lone ME 109.  He fires and the plane spins out of control.  As he is celebrating his victory the german comes out of the spin about 8K ft below.  Rats.

Now alerted 2 jerries close in on Barnes.  Just to show my improved wingmen I will go through this sequence of play exactly how it happened.  If you don't care skip down 4 pictures.   The german plays a manuver card to get advantage over Barnes.  

Flt Lt Barnes responds with a barrel roll.  


The german is a veteran and cuts through with a scissors.  

Sgt Towson being a good wingman step in and drives Jerry off with an ace card.   Good Show!



second of 4 turns and Lynch and Bullet continue to hammer at the bombers.  Bullet doesn't know but he kills the lower gunner on the JU-88.  

FltLt Barnes continues to tie up the german fighters...

A german hits Sgt Towson in the petrol tank.  He has to leave the battle space as well.  

End of turn 3.   A second JU-88 has aborted.  The spinning ME 109F is righted and ready to engage Sdr Ldr Lynch top left.  FltLt. Barnes appears in trouble up high and to the right with a ME 109 behind him looking for a firering position while Towson radios that he has to leave with petrol streaming from his plane.

As Lynch tries to line up a shot at the bomber the ME 109 gets in the way!

Bullet accepts the challenge...

And manages to get on the tail of the unlucky Jerry.  

Meanwhile Flt Lt Barnes continues to dance up high...

Unfortunately the german being tailed radios for help.  The high german wingman had already lost wingman status but stayed to help his boss.  Now with a squadron mate in trouble he dives down to help...

Lynch turns to see the German and calls out for Bullet to break but it is too late.  The german fires...

Bullet's engine starts to sputter.  No way he is going to make it back to base.  Time to hit the silk.

With Sdr Ldr Lynch at medium with 2 german fighters and Flt Lt Barnes high with 1 it is time to go.  Sdr Ldr tells Barnes they have done what they could.  Head for home.   They make it successfully.  

Great fun that played in just over an hour.  4 bombers went over the port but bombed poorly doing very light damage.  For the germans 2 bombers were damaged and returned to base.  [ one wrecked on landing but the squadron doesn't know that.]   The spitfires lost one and had 2 damaged.  Both Sgt Towson and Randell made it back to base with minimal damage.  F/O Bullet Skeel successfully bailed out but was not found by air/sea rescue.  [ 20% chance that.]  His body washed up 5 days later. RIP. Clearly this was a loss for the squadron and not an auspicious start for Lynch. 

Post battle Sgt Towson tells off the intel officer [ Lt Reed] during debrief.  Sdr Cdr Lynch takes Reed's side so now the enlisted aren't fond of their new CO.  On a positive note a replacement spitfire shows up so the squadron has 6 plus 1 in maintenance.     We will see how long Lynch sticks around.


I really enjoy the mashup of DIF using the combat results of BTH.  It plays quicker with plenty of chrome for me.






Sunday, November 22, 2020

Lt Rawlings and Fast Freddie

 Happy Thanksgiving everyone.   This will be the first month since my dad died that I will have 2 posts in a month; progress I suppose.  

First, Flotilla Forward is done.  It is in word format.  It just needs editing and graphics.  I just have no motivation to accomplish either right now; sorry.

Second, my mashup  with DIF and the combat system from BTH ( modified of course) is going very well.  Have played several battles with my squadrons but am still tweaking the rules and frankly they haven't been blog material. 


Painted up 4 buffaloes to guard Singapore!  First painting of airplanes in a long time. [ 1/300 Raiden]

Third, my mashup with Black Seas and Post Captain isn't working well.  It has been difficult to get the chrome I want into a streamlined system.  I have canceled the project and gone back to Post Captain which on its own is a great ruleset.  To celebrate I decided on a quick pirate tale in the outer banks...

Good news and Bad news Lt Rawlings thought.  I finally have a ship and a fine ship she is.  HMS Savage was 18 gun brig with an excellent crew. The bad news is I am stuck in a backwater colony in the Americas.   After paying a visit to Williamsburg he heard of a new brigand that has been causing havoc in the area, a chap by the name of "Fast Freddie", sounded american.  After two weeks of investigating he felt he found this rouge.  Time to start making a name for himself and his ship...

Lt Rawling     Crack leader with Elite crew [ hey I rolled it up fair and square] 18 gun brig stats but use 9  8 pdrs on each side .

Fast Freddie   Green crew for all but hand to hand where they are elite.   Use schooner stats with 6  6pdrs on each side but give them same number of crew as brig.  

HMS Savage upper left.  Freddie on the right.  Wind moderate right to left.  Freddie must escape to win or take over Savage for a highly embarrassing defeat of the Royal navy.  

both ships use battle sail as neither can afford catastrophic damage to rigging.  Lt Rawlings plan is to close and then cut off Freddie.  If he doubles back try to keep up as best he can.  He will rely on superior gunnery and reloads to dismast her.  

Freddie doesn't waiver so Lt Rawlings finally turns to starboard and unleashes a broadside about 200 yards.   No significant damage!  So much for superior gunnery.  

As predicted Freddie quickly turns as well and partially rakes the Savage as he passes.  Several guns and their crews are hurt on the Savage.  

Lt Rawlings can feel the battle slipping away.  He turns again to starboard and with a calm he doesn't feel orders another broadside at the fleeing pirate. Through his glass he sees the lowest yard on the foresail come crashing down.  Huzzah for his tars!  

With Freddie significantly slowed Lt Rawlings once again maneuvers to cut him off... 

A bow rake at under 200 yards does significant damage. [ also damages the steering but he doesn't know that.]

[ One of the neat rules of Post Captain is you roll for eddies and current changes.  Fast Freddie got one of these so was able to move farther than expected which put him in a perfect position to stern rake.]

Unfortunately Lt Rawlings misjudged Freddies' speed and to his horror had to withstand a devastating rake.  It left half his crew injured.  He could see his Bo'sun was not happy.    He now did not have enough crew to repair sails and reload cannon.  Boarding Freddie would be out of the question as many of his marines had been injured as well.    Very well, he had speed still and he was a Royal Navy officer; he would sink the bastard.  

HMS savage fires a broadside at Freddie doing some damage.  To Lt Rawlings amazement, there is no return fire.  As the tars reload Rawlings spies the pirate flag being lowered and Freddies' ship heaving to.  The pirates are surrendering!  Three cheers erupt from the deck of the HMS Savage including the Bo'sun.   

The last shot resulted in a critical hit which hit Freddie.  This triggered a morale check which the ship failed by 4 resulting in surrender.  So Lt Rawlings last shot killed Freddie outright.  With their captain killed, sails badly damaged, steering out and 25% casualties the pirate crew decided to throw themselves on the King's mercy.

Great game that played in under an hour!   Needless to say I am very happy sticking with Post Captain rules and using the Warlord [and Hagen] ships.

Happy thanksgiving everyone.  Please remember all those in the military serving far from home.



Sunday, November 8, 2020

Is Blood Red Skies DIF with a Board and Minis?

 Greetings all.   Not much time for playing games during playoff baseball season here in the US.  Despite the short season and tournament style ending it is still baseball so I enjoyed it.  

I think many people know I have been buying Warlord ships as of late.  I enjoy Cruel Seas ( with my crueler seas modifications of course) and I love their sailing ships.  I tried their Black Seas but have gone back to Post Captain.  So I looked at Blood Red Skies.  I am happy with Bag the Hun ( with my mods) and my Raiden miniatures but it never hurts to explore, right?  So I downloaded and read the quickstart rules.  { companies-- this is a great idea.  50% of the rules I have purchased started out as free downloads.} 

What struck me was how similar in concept the game was to Down in Flames (DIF) by Dan Verssen.  For those unfamiliar with DIF it is a card game where planes are in one of 3 states to each other, neutral, advantaged or tailing; sound familar?  It is actually a great game if somewhat abstract and I did a lot of writing about it 20 years ago for GMT games on the original version of the game.  GMT even honored me by naming one of the wingman cards "Legan" after me.   The new version is here:


This got me thinking, could I morph DIFs into a board game with minis?  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy BTH and was a playtester for the rules.  Still DIF is a great game and I differentiated every model of P-51 in it...

Americans and Italians meet over Tunisia in my first playtest.

My thought was to break the board into areas and use the performance/horsepower ratings from DIF to make hands and determine positions.   Then use Speed differentials for full throttle markers.  I would use my adjusted Firepower ratings  and the combat routine from BTH with my critical hits table from the Too Fat Lardy special.   


The Cards...

The planes...   Here a Macchi gets on the tail of an Airacobra.


Here an Airacobra maneuvers around a Macchi.    

A Tony tails a B-25; the Tony was shot down!  

After several playtests I believe this is going to work!  I have dropped the number of areas to "battle" and "entry/exit" for planes trying to escape.  There is still a level of abstraction but it is slightly less than DIF.   Combat is much better than DIF as there is no "number counting".  Every shot is potentially fatal.  My casualty rates haven't been any higher than BTH.  For a 4v4 dogfight I will normally have 1-2 planes shot down with 1-2 damaged.    It plays faster than BTH and takes less space.  I can play a 4v4 dogfight in 30 minutes.    

B-25s bombing Rangoon

An Oscar on the Tail of a P-51A.  But the Oscar can't seem to line up a shot!

So I don't know is Blood Red Skies is DIF with minis but it gave me a great idea that seems to be working out so far.  More to come...


Saturday, September 12, 2020

Jack was one bullet away

 Greetings.  It has been awhile.  I have not been motivated to play many games since my dad died.  As I stated previously I hadn't realized how much of my gaming was tied to sharing with him; either at the table or talking about it after the fact.  I haven't really painted very much either as there is no one to show the figures to after I am done.  [ Have painted 1 trawler and 5 numidians in the last 2 months.] 

Good news is I have finished Flotilla Forward.  I have been seeking help with formatting and think I have found someone.  While I am at it thanks to all who have purchased my rules over the last year.  I was able to donate $1,000 to the local food bank on your behalf.  100% of sales goes to the county foodbank.  Hopefully you will see Flotilla Forward by Christmas.  

I have been reading a great book, One bullet away by  Nathaniel Fick.  I was briefly a platoon leader for an army combat MP platoon in Berlin and have commanded at squadron and group level in the Air Force.  Mr Fick, an ivy school graduate, explains his OCS transition into a Marine Corps officer brilliantly.  He describes the pressure and uncertainty of being a platoon leader well and he ends up in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.  

A good read

Inspired by the above book I decided to take my marine squad in Iraq on another mission.  You may remember this squad is led by Just Jack a brilliant squad leader who has already been put in for the bronze star for an attack on Afak on the second day of the war.  The squads morale is elite (12) when is in in charge. The platoon is commanded by Lt DeClines who graduated West Point and service transferred into the marines to be one of the toughest. Well the platoon sgt was wounded and evac ed out so Jack was the natural choice to step up into the job.   The title of Mr Fick's book comes from what all marine leaders are taught, "Your subordinate is just one bullet away from taking your job; train them well."  So Jack is the new platoon sgt.  

DeClines walks back to the platoon leadership from Capt Jackson.  "Recon just went through the town ahead and took fire after crossing the bridge.  We are to conduct a hasty attack and clear the road so the rest of the battalion can proceed.  We will have air assets.    We will have artillery only if necessary as we are to stick to the ROE and limit civilian casualties.  [ I rolled up "Hasty attack for the mission and also artillery.  I figured marines wouldn't go in there without air during the day.] 



Lt DeClines plan was to have 3rd squad flank from the left and 1st squad come over the bridge.  He would be on the near side of the river [ right] with the radios, HMG and 2nd squad in reserve.  Jack would go with his old 1st squad both he and DeClines weren't sure Cpl Jones was up to the task of leading it.  


Lt DeClines  Academy grad  Sensible/wealth      Avg

Just Jack      Jovial         Position                           Superb

1st squad  SL  Cpl "fast" Jones   orphaned     inept/ religious       poor  

Squad morale back to avg [10] with Jones in charge.

1st FT     Cpl "Koke"  Kokistranovich    race car driver     thrill addict      poor but improving

2nd FT     empty

3rd FT     Cpl Betts   ghetto of detroit    fickle hedonistic     avg

3rd squad SL  Sgt Lee     liberal/ govt                good


Lt Declines overseeing the platoon.


3rd squad runs into something unexpected immediately.   The weapons cache in the foreground is just a ;hot spot" marker used in FOF to mark reinforcement entry. 

A cobra helo is vectored in.  


  Meanwhile 1st squad crosses the bridge without incident ...

and offloads into a hail of RPGs and small arms.  Cpl Jones and Koke initiate a close assault on the building while Jack is still in the track...

the attack fails as marines mill about behind the track.  The enemy start to encircle from the right as well.   Jack had wanted to let Cpl Jones lead the squad but things are moving the wrong way.  As the track blows up he takes control and orders a retreat.   

Meanwhile 3rd squad offloads at the orchard and prepares to advance on the market...

A cool random event occurs.  One of the marines thinks he sees a booby trap ahead.  Sgt Lee decides to stay clear of the area.  He will send 2 fire teams through the orchard to flank the market.  

For situational awareness   1st squad middle of board just before track blows up and Jack leads them back to the scrub.  Sgt Lee offloads next to the orchard.    Cobra [ yes Jack that is a Cobra] in support about to blow up a MG position across the board.  The Iraqi MG position has managed to suppress the US HMG allowing the Iraq infantry to move up and threaten 1st squad.  

Goodbye MG position!

As Jack is trying to rally 1st squad mortars start to drop and an armored car shows up.  Not good.  

The SMAW attached to Jack takes care of the armored car and DeClines HMG causes the mortar men to flee. 


3rd squad finds the technical that hid from the Cobra and a brief firefight occurs.  

After that Sgt Lee leads an assault on the market.  Another random event gave it's defenders a morale boost so they plan to defend to their last breath...

which they do.  3rd squad continues to clear out the market.

Meanwhile, back at the scrub, Jack has sent Cpl Jones and 1st squad back to clear the original building after it has been mortared. He then goes to check on the progress of 3rd squad.  The Iraqis have managed to slip in fighters behind the marines into the orchard.  Please note the FT left in the orchard to cover 3rd squads assault.  They are suddenly badly outnumbered in the orchard.  As Jack hears firering in the orchard he starts to realize these 3 marines are in peril...

Jack sprints across the plaza telling Sgt Lee he needs a fireteam to follow him NOW!

By the time Jack arrives with a fireteam the support fireteam is broken outside the wall with 1 marine lying in the orchard.   The marine firepower is enough to push the Iraqis back.  They leave as silently as they arrived.   

 Great battle that was played over several days.   FOF really models asymmetrical engagements well and the Iraqis used hot spots to shift forces into the orchard and almost overwhelmed a fireteam.  1st squad performed even worse than I thought without Jack necessitating some hard decision post battle.

Post battle it was clear that Cpl Jones couldn't lead 1st squad.  There were even doubts if he could lead the FT. 2nd FT's morale drops to 8.   Sgt Alcantera will be brought in from the company to lead as Cpl Betts is too junior.  Squad morale stays at 10.  Capt Jackson is moved up to battalion to fill a vacancy so Lt DeClines becomes acting company commander.  [ post game event was Lt DeClines is transferred so that is how I handled that action.]  So guess who is acting platoon leader...?  Yep Jack is one bullet away.