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.

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...



  1. Warning: Blatant self-promotion - please delete if too offensive (it's your page, after all).
    The battle and entry/exit areas sound familiar to the evolution of my own engagement areas, and the 3 states of relative position are similarly reflected in my numerical 'combat value' - so is perhaps similar to the number counting of DIF that you've discarded. How do you determine firing potential?
    Forgive the possible hijacking - if a general design discussion is best done elsewhere...? I'm a fan of your efforts.

  2. Don, no worries. Happy to discuss. What game did ( are ) you designing? Not clear on your question of firing potential. Do you mean how do you get a shot? You only shoot if you are advantaged or tailing or a wingman can shoot someone attacking his mate. Only 2 and 3 damage cards are in play. The defending fighter can still respond according to normal DIF rules. If a success you move to resolve the successful "hit" which may or may not be successful. Did that answer?

  3. Joe, thanks. I'm plugging away (in fits and starts over 12+years...) at a homebrew game - while applicable (I think) to WW2 I've concentrated on WW1 for now as the speeds/ranges are easier to manage. The only unusual/uncommon facet (afaik) of it is that the models on the table only indicate general locations of the aircraft spaced out in what I call 'engagement areas' (defined by effective combat range, ~1000' for WW1, twice that for WW2) within which aircraft that are 'mixing it up' have no specific facing - this means that pointing models is not part of the game and therefore not a requirement for generating a firing opportunity. Your answer may imply the same thing for your setup? Where does the advantaged/tailing status stem from?

    As you can see, writing is not my strongpoint (I tend to just blather on and on and on and...) - hope you can derive something from the above, and thanks for the hospitality.

  4. Don, in DIF position is abstract. You play cards from your hand to maneuver your plane while the opponent can counter with the correct card. For instant I can play a "maneuver" and you counter with a "barrel roll". If you can't ( or won't) then I am advantaged over you. They actually make a WWI version that I haven't played.


  5. Joe, I see, thanks. Sounds a bit like the WW1 idea Ed at 2HW was tinkering with a few years back (dunno if it's still in the works?). The use of the cards triggers memories of MB's "Dogfight!" : )

    How are the 'battle areas' delineated on the table, and how do models move between them? I'm assuming a BTH-type thing, but...?

    Thanks again for the patience in discussion. As I said: This does sort of sound like my feeble effort and it's nice to hear of another voice while I toil away up in the wilderness (see the Lardie map).

  6. I loved dogfight. that game oozed character! in my mash up you can move one area for free per turn. DIF doesn't have areas

  7. Dogfight also was my introduction to the concept of 'release agents' as my proud paint jobs just flaked off! 50 years...where does the time go?