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, December 12, 2021

Sometimes the cards are stacked against you. Lt Phillips vrs a German Convoy

 Thank you for all the support for Flotilla Forward.  It is selling well and Steve at Wargame Vault is even going to make a donation to the foodbank.  So far I am hearing positive things.  I thought I would do a thourough example of play through a battle report to hopefully answers questions about FF.  We can use our Friend Lt Philips who I posted about in November if you want to go read about that battle.  He is with a dogboat flotilla in the channel at the beginning of 1944.

So lets roll up three boats and see what we get.    First we will roll up LtCmr Piggot the CO.  For the first table we get Obnoxious, second we get position and third we get son of a boat captain.  We fail to get a special skill and we find he is at a veteran level. For game purposes he will get a -1 on interactions since he is obnoxious.  He will be a naval reserve officer as almost all coastal forces for Britain were.  [ The exceptions will be noted on the third table.]  How do we put this all together for our campaign?  The best this is it is open to your interpretation.  Mine is, LtCmr Piggot is a reserve officer with a great deal of sailing experience having learned the trade from his father since he was knee high. He runs a tight ship, as his father does, and will be the first to tell you if you are not meeting standards. He plans on having the best flotilla on the Channel so he can get promoted.  Next we get our friend Lt Phillips.  Unfortunately we get obnoxious, hedonism, of course a famous yachtsman, no special skills and average.  So, he is a famous yacht racer activated for the war who just recently transferred to the coastal forces from the "big" navy.  He didn't fair well there as he felt he knew it all and his fellow officer's didn't take kindly to it.  He lives for the moment for he might not be here tomorrow.  I will spare you the details of Lt O'Leary, RN.  Suffice it to say he is former enlisted, foolhearted Irishman who is fond of the bottle but can fix anything that is broke.  He gets +1 with interactions with his crew.  

When starting out I normally roll up 3 non player characters as well to get us started.  I always roll up the next commander in line plus 2 other.  First we will roll up the base commander.  This is Capt Townson, RN.  He is the son of an admiral who is cheap so I don't think we will be getting material favors from him!  Next I get the chaplain.  This is Chaplain Meadows, he is off colour and gets along great with the men.  Finally I roll up Miss Rennison. She is unique as she is a love interest.  I don't think we have to roll to see who she is with right now as it is obvious to me, Lt Phillips!  He is a hedonistic famous yachtsman, what's not to love?

Now that we have our 3 boats we roll up a mission.  We get Convoy Intercept.  It is a small convoy with 4 small escorts and 1 large escort.  [ We added 1 because this is a late war convoy].  We proceed to the environment.  Visibility in the channel with be a mile but the wind is whipping with a beaufort 5 and scattered storms.  Why send us out tonight? "Don't you know there is a war on?" is the response.  The waves will be a problem causing us to pass a skill check to go full speed.  For average crews this will be 4-6 on a D6.  There are no land masses on the table.

We are all set.   It takes just a minute to roll up a battle.  

So now our famous yachtsman is bouncing around in the channel off the dutch coast.

Our brave flotilla!   Piggot in the middle flanked by O'leary closest and Phillips away. [ O'Leary is in an early dogboat with 2 tubes and 2 2 pdrs, no 6 pdrs. 


Point of potential contact!  Each hex is 100 yards.  I set up the convoy with the large escort 1500 yards in front of the 2 merchants. [ I only have 2 so that is how many the Germans have!]  A small escort is off to each side 1500 yards and one a stern.  The last small escort presents a problem.  I could use AKOT to place but it is just as easy to roll a D6= 1 in front, 2,3 starboard, 4 a stern, 5,6 port.  Unfortunately for us it is placed starboard of the convoy.    I roll to place my one squall and it is placed in the left close corner.  Next I roll where we potentially spot the convoy, 45 degrees off the starboard bow.  So I position the board as above just in sighting distance.  Now we are ready to begin; use your tactical rules to play this battle out.  For this battle I used Narrow Seas with house rules for spotting.  

Unbeknownst to our brave flotilla the Germans spotted the British right away.   In Phillips defense the slow moving ships 10knots] are hard to spot a mile away!  The German commander decided not to initiate contact.  With luck the British would pass by. 

   The french trawler kept tabs on the British as the German commander sent his "extra" escort down to shadow the dogboats in case trouble erupted.  Meanwhile Lt Phillips continues to stare futilely into the night. [ Every turn they had a 40% chance of spotting, it wasn't my fault!]   

The second German escort turns into a Raum boat as it too spots the British.  It's green crew having trouble making headway in the choppy water.  

Fortunatley for our scenario...

Lt Phillips spots a Raum boat 1600 yards out moving to cross their bow.  He tells Piggot and the British are momentarily confused.  The Raum boat is heading the wrong way!   Is this a different convoy?  Is this a separate boat?  Was their intel wrong?   LtCmdr Piggot makes a decision.  He orders a simultaneous 180.  they will attempt to get behind the Raum boat and see if there is anything behind it.  

  The German commander receives word the the British are now turning towards the convoy.  Rats!  He orders the Raum to engage at will and to make smoke.  He orders the 2 flank escorts to remain in position.  He orders the stern escort to move towards the British and he himself will turn and face the enemy.  

 The Germans start to comply.  The British start to execute their plan.

I will admit with my scale and relatively small board  have some starting positions on paper to get an idea of how long movement to "on board" will take.  


I rolled up the German's large escort.  Guess the commander has to settle for a VP boot!  

 Right at the point where the VP is in sighting distance of the British.  The British are about to turn to port to get behind the raum boat.  They have been hampered by heavy swell.   The raum boat [right] has turned around behind the smoke screen.  The aft escort [ also right still on blind] is coming into the battle.  The VP boot spots Lt Phillips and again Lt Phillips fails to spot the Germans.  

As Lt Phillips is giving directions to his Coxswain they see a flash and a large splash appears near their boat!  


This is where, in retrospect, the cards are stacked against you.  You are fighting heavy seas, you haven't even seen the merchant ships yet and there are a wall of escorts lined up waiting for you.  But do you leave and risk talk of cowardice on base?  It is almost certain that your squadron rep will go down.  What will Capt Townson say?  Nope, we gotta try since I am safe in dry in my house!    Piggot tells Phillips to charge ahead past the screen, he will join.  He tells O'Leary to torpedo the VP boat.  

  So the charge begins!    The 2 pdr is lost on Phillips boat with heavy casualties.  It appears every gun on the sea is shooting at his boat.

The charge continues.  The British fire with everything they have but the 6 pdrs are aft in these boats and they are simply outgunned.  LtCmdr Piggot makes up some ground as his crew is veteran.  


It is not to be.   Lt Phillips boat is heavily damaged with a HMG out and a fire breaking out.  Piggot's boat is not faring much better.  The charge is mutually aborted by both officers.But...

 Everyone has been so focused on Piggot and Phillips that O'Leary eventually makes his way into a fireing position and...

I decided to use the AKOT to see if anyone on the VP boat was looking a O'Leary to see that he launched torpedos.  I decided it was POSSIBLE.  No one noticed in the heat of battle.    

So the next turn the torpedoes die came up before the VPs did so they didn't see what was coming.  It still was a 40% chance to hit.  O'Leary's crew waited with anticipation...

A mighty explosion rocked the night!   The VP boat stopped moving.  The dreaded 88 did not fire again.  

A shot of O'Leary and Phillips making their escape.  Phillips has started to make smoke.  A Raum boat is sinking from 6 pdr fire from Phillips and Piggot.

With the VP boat disabled and sinking the British were able to make their escape.  

Exciting and tense battle though in retrospect I think the cards were stacked against the flotilla.  I called it a draw.  In retrospect I should have had the lead boat [Phillips] go after the VP boat and the last 2 try to penetrate the screen; live and learn. We didn't sink any merchants but escaped with 2 badly damaged craft while sinking a VP boat and raum boat.  [ The Germans would actually tow the VP boat to port.]  The flotilla comes home to lick it's wounds.  They did sink some escorts and no one will doubt Lt Phillips' courage.   

Post battle we don't have to roll to rescue any crewman.  We roll to repair ships and neither will be fixed for the next battle.  Our reputation remains intact.  We can now roll to change the status of one crew.  I pick Lt Phillips crew.  I think it is PROBABLE that it will go down to green because he lost his boat during the rescue mission and lost a number of crew here so turnover has been high and his leadership is only obnoxiously average.  I roll a "3" so with new replacements he now has a green crew to work into shape.  

Lastly we roll for our "event" and get naval assets.  Now normally we would have no modifiers for this table, we didn't lose our last battle, our reputation in zero and Capt Townson is neutral to us.  But Capt Townson is cheap so he is hardly a man to dole out assets, hence we get a -1.  That turns a "4" into a "3" so nothing happens.  [ We almost got a boat transferred over for next mission to help out with our losses.]   So the flotilla is down to 4 active boats now.    

I hope not only was this an interesting story but gave you some insight how you can use Flotilla Forward to add a interesting backdrop to your coastal warfare games.  




Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Flotilla Forward Released!

 After a long journey Flotilla Forward is finally released in time for Christmas!  You can find it here:



As many of you know the rough draft was finished in March 2020 but Covid hit and occupied much of my time over the last 2 years.  A special thanks To Chris Stoesen for editing and really polishing the final product.  

For those of you familiar with Platoon Forward and Squadron Forward I consider this a tweener.  You have to husband your craft similar to SF and go to and from your missions.  But I was able to have blinds similar to PF.  The blinds work differently than PF though;  the blinds are almost always a boat/ship.  You just don't know what or even if it is actually right there.  This leads to tension as you approach the convoy and hope you see them first.  I did away with true "false" blinds because with only 2-4 of your boats on the board the scenarios were too hard to balance.  False sightings are now a random event so they are in there still.  The other cool add is backgrounds for your captains.  This is similar to Grunts Forward.  I believe the 5 battles are all balanced and give a wide range of activities for your boats.  The mission generator is a little weighted to allow some more variety than historical.  You can also get "special missions" handed to you post battle.   The post battle works similar to SF but with a nautical bent.  Biased opinion but I am please with the results and hope you will like this work regardless if you use Action Stations, Schnell rules for Schnell boots, flaklighter or Cruel Seas.  Any questions please ask.   I am hopefull to raise enough money to buy some turkeys for Christmas!

                                            Didn't make it into Flotilla Forward because I don't have a force table for the Royal Romanian Navy.




Friday, November 26, 2021

Saving Hamburg's mayor

Happy Thanksgiving to all!  I have been truly blessed and have many things to be thankful for.  Here is hoping you are as well.  I managed to give $250 to the local food bank for thanksgiving due to your support of all the Forward products, thank you.  It is certainly needed and was welcomed.

First note is Flotilla Forward should be done next week.  I had it done but Chris Stoesen has really made it look much sharper and more professional.  Thanks Chris.  He is a very talented guy with many scenario books for all types of games.  You can check out his blog at cstosen@blogspot.com  

I have been playing a fair amount of 1980s jet combat so was inspired to use my West German Panzer Grenadier platoon.  This guys are fun and Sgt Lachman is a great leader with his squad firmly behind him.  I realize I haven't used them since Sept 2018! Man time flies. You can read about their last mission there on Sept 5th.

Lt Weiss was excited as he sat Sgt Lackman and Sgt Blaum down.  Capt Zeiss has just given us a very important mission.  As you know the front has not stabilized, we are to go and rescue the mayor!  "great", thought Lachman, this sounds dangerous.  The Lt continued, " Our platoon is to race to city hall and rescue the mayor and his wife and get  them back to safety before the russians take over the city and find them."  


Lt Weiss   General's son          Mecurical              poor leader

1st squad   Sgt Lachman       former dockworker       careful        good leader     squad +1 morale

2nd squad  Sgt Blum            former drifter            glum        average leader

 1 Luch armored car attached


Interesting, this skirmish doesn't appear in Sgt Lachman's book, Wrong Time, Wrong Place.  My view of WW III

City hall and environs.  Platoon will enter from the right across the bridge and will leave the same way.  Mayor will be outside as the hall is not safe inside secondary to damage.  Enemy's entrance is unknown.

Looking at the square.  Barricades  set up by the police. 

Looking towards city hall.

The mayor, wife and their bodyguards outside city hall.  The mayor and his wife were shooting a commercial for the city when the invasion interrupted it; hence their attire.  

Lt Weiss briefs his NCOs on the plan.  "Get in and get out"!  The scenario is a "special mission" I rolled up.  It is a variation of the Encounter scenario.  The Westies get a 2 turn head start to make it to the Rathaus.  

Lt Weiss greets the Mayor and tells them to board the Marder.  3 guards will board the 3rd Marder while...

Sgt Lachman's squad debusses just in case.

As the mayor and his wife enter the marder shooting starts...

The Easties, guessing they have missed the mayor, move fast.  The BDRM turns right followed by 1st squad after it hits the westies in the Marder hatch and pins the crew.  2nd squad offloads and a BDRM -AT prepares to fire.

Sgt Lachman moves quickly as well into the damaged bank where someone across the street caught this dramatic pose. 

Meanwhile the pinned Marder frantically backs away from the BDRM-AT as Lt Weiss rushes over to rally the crew.  Fortunately, Sgt Lachman's Marder takes out the BDRM-AT.  [thought I had a picture of that.] 

These Easties are all over!

East German infantry unloading along the path home for our Panzergrenadiers.  While...

Out of the old Rathaus a RPG gunner appears.  Sgt Lachman's squad takes care of him quickly. Lt Weiss shouts over for Sgt Lachman to saddle up and move out.

Time to go!   Sgt Lachman, followed by Lt Weis [ with the mayor] then Sgt Blaum and finally the Luchs.  Only problem is a East German squad set up in the bank. Sgt Blaum [ in the center] will provide covering fire.  Sgt Lachman takes off with bullets splattering the sides.

All going according to plan as Blaum pins down the Easties.  

Suddenly a RPG comes from the right.  Eastie 2nd squad is moving up from the Rathaus to the bank...

Fortunately it misses!  Sgt Blaum drives off. 

Things appear to be going according to plan as the Luch starts to move...  [ figures in the blue building are the 3 bodyguards.  They broke under fire entering the Marder and retreated into Karstadt.  Sgt Blaum wasn't too worried about them.  

The east german squad in the bank rallies and fires 1 more RPG at the retreating armored car...

It hits the top of the turret killing Sgt Pellman and destroying the gun. Miraculously the crew passes their morale check and keeps driving over the bridge to safety!  


Fun game and a big win for the platoon.  Mayor rescued and 1 KIA and 1 WIA.  Capt Weiss is very impressed and the mayor grateful.  Lt Weiss misses his leadership roll so is still poor.  He will be away from the platoon for the next mission taking care of the mayor.  

Had the East Germans or Russians had BMPs it would have been a much harder battle.  When I found out about this rescue I asked Jonathan Lachman why he hadn't mentioned it in his book.  " Not much to tell really.  We went in and picked up a big wig and drove out.  Compared to everything else we went through didn't seem interesting." 





Saturday, November 13, 2021

Lt Phillips in Flotilla Forward

 It has been awhile.  I have just transitioned from full time to semi retired so much is happening.  The good news here is I have time to format Flotilla Forward. It is done except for a QRS and the appendix.  Will send it out for proofreading ( Chris am hoping you will do me the honors again) and then post it.  As always, all profits will do to my local food bank; just in time for the holidays.  The scenarios are playtested but after working on it for a week I wanted to play a quick game.  

For those of you familiar with my land and air games this is between the two.  It has blinds like PF but there is resource management like SF.  Anyway I rolled up a dogboat captain I will follow in the channel.  Gentlemen, I introduce you to Lt Phillips!  He is from East Anglia and was a well known Yachtsman before the war.  Due to his fame he gets +1 to all his interactions.  He is a cheery fellow (+1 again) and is concerned about position so he wants to move up in rank and responsibility.  He and his crew are average so obviously haven't seen much action yet, perfect for us starting out.  You normally roll up a mission but I chose rescue because I wanted a short battle.     

In Flotilla Forward you roll up environmental conditions as these were key in small boat actions.  We got some chop [Beaufort 4], visibility about a mile and no fog/squalls.  This is good as we are looking for a boat crew to rescue.  

Lt Phillips and "boat #2".  

on to our story...

Lt Phillips is cruising the channel when he gets a distress call over the wireless.  A lone vosper is sinking and needs help.  [ 66% chance a small boat needs help.] 


A beleaguered Vosper

Lt Phillips changes course and goes to help.  This should look good on the AAR he thinks. 

 Phillips was fortunate to sight the vosper at almost a mile and steer towards it.  The plan was he would pull up along side and determine wheither to take off the crew or tow while #2 circled and looked for Jerry.  The scenario generated 2 enemy blinds for this mission.  Both would turn out to be S-38 boats and they were lagging 3 turns behind the brits in their search.  

Situation shortly before things got hairy.

  As Phillips pulls up along side the Vosper they shout that an E-boat is coming in about 200 yards away.  [ This battle the vosper had no weapons functioning.]  #2 also spots the E-boat.  This just got a lot harder thinks Lt Phillips...

All boats start plugging away at each other as the night lights up!  Clearly towing is out of the question.  The men from the Vosper come over quickly and the charges are set but this still takes time.  Lt Phillips boat is literally a sitting duck as the 2 E-Boats pass and move to port continuing to pour fire onto her.  #2 tries to support but he is too far away.  

Lt Phillips is just about to start moving when an incendiary cuts a fuel line.  [ this isn't in Flotilla Forward but in Crueler Seas].  Now a diesel boat has a 16% chance of catching fire but the poor dog boat is 50%.  "Crap!  Now we have to fight this fire."   It is a losing battle...

 The boat rapidly become engulfed in flames.  The men from the Vosper leave a stricken boat for the second time that night.  Fortunatly a Flower class ship arrives and the E-boats slink into the night.  Lt Phillips and all the crew are rescued.  

Great battle that turned on 1 critical hit.  Lt Philips almost became a hero.  Next time I can talk about post battle and about how blinds are managed.

Enjoy!  I am...


Saturday, October 9, 2021

Dead Man's Hand-- First impressions

 On my last post I stated I had ordered Dead Man's Hand from Scale Creep.  It came in and I had a chance to read it during my week at the beach house.  I have since played 2 games hence this is first impressions only.  I really dislike reviews from people that have little to no experience with actual gameplay so I freely admit this caveat.  I also freely admit that the only other rules I have played were Avalon Hills Gunslinger about 40 years ago.    I am not going to go through the mechanics in detail as there are reviews and videos on that; just my impressions.  So here goes...

 Trying them out at the beach house.  Each hex is 10 cm, rubber bands are stacked boxes!

Dead Man's Hand is meant to be cinematic unlike Gunslinger.  Pistols don't run out of bullets after 6 shots, they run out if you roll a "1" on a D20.  There is no difference in movement between a door and a window or even 2 roof tops!  Each figure gets three actions upon activation and the idea here is there is alot of shooting.  Rifles are better at range but pistols are great up very close.  They could have called this "blazing pistols."  

With each shot there is a 50% chance of a "miss" 40% chance of "under fire" and 10% chance of "killed or at least wounded out of the fight".  There are some simple modifiers that add strategy to the game.  "Under Fire" functions something like "shock" in too fat lardy games.  This is stress to the figure from either accurate fire or actual minor wounds.  I am not a particular fan of shock in Rich's games preferring morale tests and I didn't think I would like it here.  Each under fire marker degrades the shooting performance and if you acquire to many you are out of the fight; presumably either running away, playing dead or succumbing to wounds.  You can self rally as one of your actions. 

Two other game mechanisms of note, "duck back" and "quick shot".  Duck back allows a previously unactivated character who is about to be a target of  some serious shooting to duck back into cover.  This is automatic and he will only be shot at once BUT he forfeits the rest of his turn.  Quick shot allows any previously unactivated character to take 1 shot at the activated figure.  Normally this will be simultaneous actions and is one unaimed shot and also forfeits the quick shooters turn.  Both of these options allow great tense in game decisions.  

So far this sounds moderately interesting. There are 2 things that improve this game.  First there are 4 "factions" in DMH that have various unique rules.  Without extensive playing on my part, none of these appear too powerful or gamey and they do add color.  For instance, lawmen can remove 1 under fire marker from 1 of their characters at the end of their turn for free. The second are the poker cards that come with the game.   These clearly fit in with the theme, are used for activation and also have in game "plays" that you can use.  One card allows you to ignore negative modifiers to shooting for that shot.  Another card causes you opponent to stumble and therefore can't do another action after he moves.  These are gamey but fun.  I can imagine they would be a riot in a 2 player game.  


  The lawmen [royal navy] meeting the outlaws [pirates] in Tinytown.  You can see the cards down for activation.  I have seen several reviews complaining that the cards are too small.  As you can see any bigger and there wouldn't be room for tinytown.  

The outlaws!  Led by Black Bart.

The lawmen led by Sheriff "blue hat" Nelson.

Black Bart about to take a shot at the swabbie on the porch roof.  PO Roberts (+1 to shooting) who will activate last with his 2 of spades that had been swapped by the bad guys takes a quick shot.  " Do you feel lucky punk?"  Roberts was feeling lucky rolling a 20 and Black Bart falls out the window to his death. 

End game: 1 outlaw fails the "Big Nerve" test while trapped in a building and surrenders to law enforcement.  

My initial impressions?    This game works very well as a cinematic wild west game.  Like SAGA it is a game with a certain theme and it is fun.  It has worked fine for me solo but I think this would be a blast to play with friends.  I thought I would have to modify the gun table but under fire works well in this context and to have individual wound locations would slow the game down.  I played the above game in 30 minutes being new to the rules and taking pictures.  You could also call this game "blazing fast."  It is begging for a campaign system and they have one called legends.  I have ordered it.  I also need to order some wild west figures.  

If you want a cinematic, fast play Wild West game with lots of decisions and interaction then I would recommend Dead Man's Hand, at least so far in my 2 plays.