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, February 27, 2022

Rock Hill: Many moving parts II Corp Oct 1966 Republic of South Vietnam Part 1

 So the reviews have been well received but of course this blog has mainly been about AARs using my Forward rules.  So to hopefully make this useful to all I thought I would touch on how I am attempting to combine O group and Battlefront into my perfect ruleset  while showing you a battle report of a game.  For those of you that play either O group or Battlefront you might take away something that you like and want to add to your games.  Either way hopefully all will be entertained by the 7th Cavs attempt to take Rock Hill.  

I call this "many moving parts" for 2 reasons, first the operation has 7th CAV, ARVN and RUFF/PUFFs.  Second I am trying to combine both rulesets in Vietnam, which neither are written for, while also starting to try out ideas for Battalion Forward. 

This project is somewhat inspired by a good book

 Many people have criticized Marshal now but I find his books good reads and a treasure for scenarios.

You would normally be the battalion commander but I wanted to start small so you will be Capt Jaroz, A company in the 7th Calvary.   you are relatively new in country and this will be your first big operation.  LtCol Duval is your battalion commander and he is gung ho. [ I swear I rolled it up using Platoon/Grunts Forward.]  Your 3 platoons are trained and led by

Lt Hendricks from Virginia.  Son a a Korean war hero.  His dad retired as a 2 star.  This kid has more conections than you will ever have.  You sense you have to be careful.

Lt Alvarez   ROTC from Texas.   Tough kid.  Rumor that his dad runs some type of cartel back in Texas.  

Lt DeRoos   ROTC from Wisconsin  Dad is a state senator.  5 months in the position.  You think he can teach you a thing or two.


Last night a Ruff/Puff camp was attack by Rock Hill.  It is unclear if they still control the camp but intel thinks so.  ARVN refused to send a relief convoy last night but has 2 platoons ready to go at first light. They will move by truck to go and relieve the camp.  Duval said they will do little else.  He sees this as an oportunity to get your feet wet.  He believes that the VC are waiting to ambush the convoy and then will camp out at Rock Hill.  He said there is a chance they will stay in the town of Duc Bien as well.  He wants you to wait till after the ambush and go kick Charlies ass.  There is a back up company if you need it but it is clear Duval thinks you can handle this on your own.

Capt, here is your AO. [ Rolled it up per PF]  Ruf/Puf camp in the center.  Rock Hill to it's left.  The town of Duc Bien it to the right.  Village #1 is below on route 1 where ARVN will enter at 7am.  Hill upper left is Hill 105 and hill above Duc Bien is 425.  Each hex is 4 inches and 150 yards. An LZ is typically 2-3 hexes grouped that are clear flat ground.  They can be less but that is not ideal. You will have huey hogs with you on insertion and a battery of 105s on call.  This is NOT a free fire zone.

What is your plan?

While you ponder that I will tell you how I am running my rules.   I am using the order activation from O group and all their orders including reinforcements and combat patrols except for rally.  Rally is actually done as part of movement because I am using the maneuver chart from Battlefront. The only exception is with a disordered unit.  If a disordered unit rallies it can undertake no other action.  If a pinned unit rallies and it allowed to take a second action, it may either move 1 hex or fire with a -1 modifier.  If a unit gets to do 2 actions on the maneuver chart it can fire as per rules or can move and fire with a -1 modifier [or fast move per O group].  In addition, it's fire is really more like overwatch as it's firing comes after any defensive fire against it.  [ It was too powerful the otherway round, particularly tanks.] 

Combat is per Battlefront with the above exceptions plus I am using the obscure rule from O group.  If the target is obscured you -1 from the attacking strength.  NVA and VC are obscured in the jungle on 1-4.  In addition to spot  VC in the jungle you need to win the recon roll by 2.  

Vietnam specific rules included 2 ARVN dice today out of the free worlds 9.  If either die was a "1" then ARVN could only receive 1 order, if both were "1" then ARVN could receive no orders other than defensive fire. If ARVN roll a 6 they had to be give at least 2 orders.  For the revolutionary forces, if they rolled 3 of the same die "triples" they received a sniper per O group optional rules.  Snipers have a range of 6 inches and a strength of -1 for battlefront players.  They are placed anywhere in covering terrain. After they fire they are picked up till next time.   If they roll a "1" they are removed for the rest of the game.   The PAVN also have 1d6 hot spots that function as permanent combat patrols for the purposes of bringing on reinforcement platoons unless these are captured by the free world player.  


A sniper so well hidden you really have to look.  His helmet it to the left of the tree. 

Alright, do you have your plan?   

Capt Jaroz decide to land 1st platoon on the "s" of route 1 on LZ Lima.  This would act as the anvil for 2nd platoons attack on rock hill.  Furthermore it would expedite contact with the ARVN relief force and be in a good position to move against either the village or Duc Bien if needed.  He would land here.  2nd platoon with Lt Alvarez would land NW of the RufPuf camp on LZ baked and explore/assault Rock hill from the north, supported by 1st platoon if needed.  3rd platoon would be in reserve.

   Town of Duc Bien

"Downtown Duc Bien"

Ruff Puff camp at 7am. 

All the potential places for Charlie to start.  He rolled 5 hot spots.  LZ Lima marked here. I rolled for PAVN deployment and 5 units started on board hidden.  This was a variation on Platoon Forward.  PAVN ended up with 2 NVA platoons (experienced) 2 main force VC platoons (trained but -1 to fire) and 1 VC 57mm recoiless rifle on the board.  Everything else had to be brought in through reinforcements.  It needs some tweaking but overall worked well and I wasn't sure what I was facing and where.  

The VC set up Company command in Duc Bien and the NVA set up company/battalion CO on the hills west of the city.  They also deploy 2 combat patrols which can be used as reinforcement spots per O group.  The highway is be the demarcation line between the 2 companies but they work very closely together and if the NVA need help the main force will be there. 

7:00am   ARVN relief convoy rolls through village 1.  There are 2 platoons of raw infantry and an element of greyhounds.  


7:02   Radio reports confirm they are hit by small arms fire from the village.  It appears to be a platoon of VC.  [ It could have been 2 but 1 was a dummy] 1st platoon is promptly scattered.  

7:10    The battle continues in the village.  2nd platoon makes some headway against the VC.  A NVA platoon with LMGs "uncloaks" on rock hill in case they are needed...

7:20    WhumpWhump Whump of choppers is heard.    A company of the 7th Cav is coming to town...

I literally have 25 photos of the battle so I thought I would break this story into 2 parts.  

How will Jaroz fare in his first combat command?   Was his plan sound?   Was your plan better?  How much help will ARVN be? Will he need and second company to help?   Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of the battle of Rock Hill! 



Friday, February 18, 2022

O Group A review of the rules

 After playing and enjoying Battlefront on my quest to become a battalion commander I purchased O Group by David Brown and distributed by Too Fat Lardies.

I have never played any of Mr Brown's rules before but he has a good reputation.  Of course, I am quite familiar with Too Fat Lardies.  I have played through 5 games, all solo, 4 WW II and 1 WW III.  My review will not be granular as there are plenty of videos for the nuts and bolts but my opinions of how they played on the table.  This review is not meant to be a direct comparison to Battlefront but it will be hard not to make some comparisons.   

Scale    An infantry base is a squad ( or section as they rules come from the UK ) and a vehicle is 2-3 vehicles.  An inch is 25 yards and time is not exact ranging from 2-10 minutes.  I do appreciate designers who give definite scales even if it is a range.  If you have done your homework you must have used some type of scale, let us know.  


The rules are well formatted and easy to understand.  There is a reasonable amount of eye candy which is expected nowadays.  I must say the cover is outstanding and really draws you into the game.The rules cover all the stuff you would expect from a battalion set of rules.  It doesn't cover everything in the depth of other rulesets but as we will see this is definitely targeted at an infantry battalion.  The rules use buckets of dice d6 which should be familiar to TFL fans.

The system is IGOUGO but with a fair amount of interaction due to interrupts with defensive fire. You roll for iniative and units can both move and fire during their activation. I don't know about fire combat in David Brown's other games but here it is like other Lardy games with units gaining "shock" which will degrade performance until they break.  This shock can be rallied off.  Rich and I have argued this model over a decade ago.  While I don't disagree it is as valid as any, I dislike the bookkeeping involved.  I prefer rolling for suppression and the like.  I even wrote up a variable fire combat system for TW&T which he was kind enough to publish in one of his specials.  Tank combat has a "to hit" and a "to kill" followed by "to save" based on armor. There are several categories of tanks but no effort has been made to count rivets here.   Anyone familiar with TW&T or COC will be on familiar ground.

I want to mention spotting as this is a mechanic in terms of fire combat that was new to me.  There is spotting of hidden units but that is not what I am talking about here.  Mr Brown uses a concept called "obscured" for any target in cover.  When you roll your combat die you also roll to see if the target is obscured.  If it is your fire takes a penalty making it less effective.  This brilliantly simulates troops behind a hedge or a tank in a forested area.  SLA Marshall is quoted as saying most GIs interviewed never saw the enemy in a firefight.  They just fired in the general direction.  If lucky they fired at muzzle flashes.  Mr Brown has the roll by platoon but I am not sure why you wouldn't make it by squad.  

Morale is straightforward in that you have to rally your troops shock off lest they become suppressed or knocked out. 

   Command and control clearly is the focus of this game.  Each turn you roll 8 or 9 dice and end up with company orders that can be used to activate your troops on your turn or to react in your opponents turn and to bring in reinforcements, rally, recon or move patrols.  You may also get battalion level orders which do all the above but can also affect the initiative die roll and be saved from turn to turn.  As expected, this creates all types of decisions during your turn and once your forces are on the table and engaged you won't have enough orders to do all you want to.  This forces you to prioritize your plans.  It also makes initiative important as you don't want to spend the whole turn reacting to your opponent.  Interesting though, despite this mechanic command stands function pretty much as in any other game.  

One last thing to mention about O group is game set up.  Pre game you roll 9 dice to determine how many platoons you place on the table, how many patrols you can place and if any defenders have been wiped out by pre game bombardments.  Patrols function similarly to COC, they can scout and function as jump off points for infantry.  


The command and control system is innovative and it works as I believe the designer intended.  I was skeptical that in game turns of 2-10 minutes why I have to keep issuing orders to my troops.  [ They are not french!]  Mr Brown states in the rules that issuing of orders does not represent a few select groups receiving new orders but rather those units moving more efficiently because there is command emphasis. "Essentially the commander is choosing his schwerpunkt,..."   Still seems a bit of a stretch but it does force the player to formulate a plan and adjust priorities, given unexpected events, to move and fight his forces to achieve his aims.  Ed on TMP said playing O group is like being in a battalion TOC.  Having been in a battalion TOC I can see his point.  [ Things don't happen as fast there though.]  Even with this brilliant mechanic I have house ruled it though.  A unit that didn't do anything in the turn can either continue its move at a much slower pace [1 hex] or rally with reduced success. I also don't limit the number of units that can rally. 


Spotting   Making spotting of hidden units an action that requires an order has given my recon units a whole new lease on life.  I have played other games in which recon units spotted better but to have recon units the only units that can spot hidden units [ plus patrols] makes them critical which is as it should be.  In addition I have already talked about the "obscured" concept above.  Interesting Battlefront has obscured but that is for firing at units before you have spotted them. [ shooting at muzzle flashes.] O group takes the concept and improves upon it.  

Pre game set up and patrols  It has taken me a while to get use to this and I probably am still trying.  It is novel and for a pick up game in closed terrain between two infantry heavy forces it is great.  You can imagine sending out a patrol to go scout those woods to see if there is an ATG in there.  


Pre game set up and patrols   If you are playing a scenario such as Kassarine with dug in defenders and you don't roll well it seems odd if you have to bring in your forces as reinforcements.  There is some wiggle room in that ATGs always start on table.  I played that dug in infantry also start on table.  Also if the attacker doesn't roll well it might make for some hard decisions as to what to deploy first but this also slows the game down if the attacker just waits for what he needs on the table.  

Patrols are helpful in close in terrain but not helpful in the dessert.  Also with a tank heavy Afrika Corps they are more of a nuisance as you can't deploy tanks onto them.  For WW III I am allowing anything to deploy onto a patrol if it is behind cover.  

The book only really covers the, US, UK, USSR and German forces from 1944-1945.  That said it isn't hard to figure out other forces and theaters.  Even easier than Battlefront's cards.  Also a France 1940 book has been released by TFLs.  

I dislike the combat routine.   I think this will not bother the majority of gamers but I think Battlefront's routine is much slicker.  

 Overall I think this is a great game.  It's focus is clearly on commanding an infantry battalion in europe in the last years of the war.  Mr Brown has decided to focus on a chaotic set up and then thrust the player into consistently setting priorities with a limited resource at hand to achieve his goals.  I think he has achieved his goals admirably.  It won't be everyone's cup of tea.  The concept is abstract but it works and it is fun.  Do I save my battalion points for artillery or do I use them to get the initiative this turn? The set up and patrol is a mixed bag for me.  I think it is theater and force specific but perhaps I haven't played enough games to understand it.  I love the turn sequence with my mod that every unit does get to do something, albeit slower.  The combat routine is a no go for me but there are plenty of lardie fans that would disagree. I have already been working on a WW III expansion.  

So overall a great game with some innovative concepts. Well done Mr Brown!





Monday, February 7, 2022

Battlefront a review of the rules

 As most readers know I have wanted to upscale my battles lately from small skirmish to company/battalion level actions.  Wargaming nomenclature is murky as what is what so I want to be able to fight with several companies on the board and have a stand of figures represent a squad or maybe a platoon. I want to fight WW II, Vietnam, Cold War gone hot and African Wars.   O group caught my eye and then I realized I purchased Battlefront 15 years ago so pulled it out. I have played Battlefront 5 times now.  All games solo but 95% of my games are solo.  Thought I would summarize my thoughts here on a post.


These rules have been around a long time.  I enjoyed them 15 years ago but wanted something more granular.  I moved to TWAT [still an awesome game], Combat Patrol, COC [playtester for this one] and FOF. I seemed to have come back. 

Scale is each stand is a squad or 1-2 vehicles.  An inch is 40 yards and a turn is roughly 10 minutes.  

The book is well written with plenty of examples and covers everything you could want.  Not much eye candy but that wasn't in vogue 20 years ago.  It comes with unit data cards for late war (1942+) Germans, Russians and Americans.  The cards are slick and have everything you need on them. They sell other cards for the other forces/times for WW II but honestly it isn't that hard to make your own if you are only going to use them occasionally.  The whole system uses a single D10.

It is an IGOUGO system with firering, movement, then defensive fire and opponents turn.  There is overwatch.  Fire combat is straightforward with nothing, suppressed, disordered and KO. The result is weighted based on your target so poorer troops are easier to take down. The nice thing about the sequence is that it is all "rolled into" one die roll with few modifiers; simple. The innovative piece for Battlefront to me is morale is tied into movement. Before a platoon moves it rolls on the maneuver chart which tells you how far it can move, if it will move or if it will retreat based on it's status [ suppressed ect].  Again there are few  modifiers.  This moves the morale phase into the movement segment and works well.  Your troops can rally and perform 1or 2 moves or they can break and retreat.  

 Artillery is modeled in exquisite detail with different types of fire including rolling barrages, Time on Target and others.  Close Combat is  simple with each unit rated, few modifiers and then an opposed die roll determines the winner.  Units are grouped into platoons and companies.  Company HQ units give a +1 bonus to the maneuver roll of subordinate units but otherwise play no real effect.  Every unit gets to do something every turn provided they roll well on the maneuver chart.  One more thing here, companies roll once for the maneuver chart and then the platoons provide their individual modifiers so if a company rolls poorly that company isn't going to accomplish much that turn.  



Uncomplicated, smooth combat system.  One roll does it all.  No separate roll "to hit", to "save". Troop quality is elegantly integrated.  If you like "buckets of dice" change this to a negative.

Maneuver chart deftly combines morale into movement.  The main modifier for this chart is troop quality so it is all here.  It is awkward to roll for units after they shoot but otherwise I really like this. If you download the optional maneuver chart it makes disorder harder to remove which is a big plus.  Speaking of downloading stuff..

Loads of "optional content" at their website.  http://www.fireandfury.com/products/desc_bfww2.shtml  There is a treasure trove of improvements to the system at the Battlefront website.  An improved maneuver chart mentioned above, better rules for MMGs, rules for modern battles plus cards.  The forum appears dead unfortunately but the downloadable OOBs and modern cards are still active. 

Companies operate as a unit and reserves are needed without special rules.   Since companies take "morale checks" together they naturally end up functioning together.  Also since companies tend to break suddenly you will need reserves on hand to shore up your line.  



I was disappointed in the Command and Control rules  Granted this is subjective and I am heavy to the right on C+C but I didn't feel like I was having to make pressure cooker decisions.  Unless banged up all units do exactly what they are suppose to do when they are suppose to do it.  There are some optional rules for issuing companies orders on the website but they are clunky. [ great try though!]

The turn sequence doesn't make for sweeping attacks.  On offensive you have to decide if a unit is going to fire or move, you can't do both.  There is an optional web rule to allow a unit to move and go on overwatch which helps.  I am sure this is to make sure I plan everything well but I find it hard to believe that my tanks at least, can't advance 120 yards and still fire effectively in 10 minutes.  I have house ruled this to a unit can move minimally and fire ( or visa versa) with a -1 modifier. [ this reflects less time they have to fire over the turn then their non moving compatriots.]

Potentially have to buy more unit cards    Though you can figure out the unit stats for units not included in the game, if you want to play early war or British forces it would be a pain to do for multiple units.  Hence you will pay $18-30 for more unit cards.

Odd distribution of combat results.  While I like the uncomplicated combat system, there can be wide swings in results.  With no modifiers on experienced troops there is a 10% KO, 20% disrupted, 20% suppressed and 50% no effect result.  Both KO and Disrupted seem high to me compared to suppression but with a D10 there isn't much choice. With 2d6 or buckets of dice numbers tend to collapse towards the middle, with one d10 you have just as much chance of rolling a 1 as 10. Now I realize modifiers skew this but the % chance of each result remains. I have house ruled this as well substituting a D12 and leaving all modifiers the same.  Now I have a 8% KO, 16% disrupted, 25% suppressed for infantry.  Close Combat also seems to have wide swings but haven't tackled that yet.  


I think this is a very good ruleset.  It sets out to fill the gap between small unit and regimental/divisional command well. [ apparently that was new 20 years ago]  If you use all or as much of the optional content you want from the web this game covers WWII and modern well.  The Combat sequence and Maneuver chart are still innovative today even if the hobby has gone more towards buckets of dice. [ Don't get me wrong, I love throwing buckets of dice.] I am surprised the maneuver chart idea has not been copied and improved upon. The turn sequence is very old school and I confess I don't like it but with my mod it seems to work better.  I suspect the C+C won't bother most gamers but it bothers me.  These two items will have me still searching for the perfect "battalion level" rule set.  Well done Rich Hasenauer!