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.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Musings on rulesets for battalion level combat

 Wow.  I am actually playing something other than my new airplane game.  Once it gets cold in December it is hard not to want to game Battle of the Bulge or Russian Winter offensives.  [ Though I could play US air missions in support of the Ardennes!]  I decided to game the 4th armored's drive to relieve Bastogne.  When stationed in Germany I lived about two hours from the Ardennes so crawled around there several times so love the Bastogne stuff.  It had been about 6 months since I had played any battalion level combat so had to look at my notes and charts to figure out how I play.  I decided I better start small so took...

an advanced guard of the 4th.  Each stand is a squad and each vehicle is 2 so two vehicles are a platoon.  I realized I need two more shermans to have an armored company!  This is all straight out of Battlefront WW II which has been my go to rules. As I have mentioned before I love the combat system and the maneuver table so we aren't changing that.  Their sequence of play is very old school and leaders are not important.  So I tinkered with several rulesets over the weekend to see what I liked.  They are all good rulesets: 

O group

best parts:  I love the spotting rules and the use of recon elements.  My Greyhounds have never been so important as when I play a game of O group.  I like the D6 rolled for cover during combat; simple and effectively models concealment.

less than best parts:  All units are the same as far a leaders.  You can't have one LT shaky or great.  Also, maybe I am playing it wrong but I almost always have plenty of orders.  I have decreased the number of dice I throw but after a couple of turns it becomes repetitive.   

   My most excellent recon element ran into some german mortars.  

Chain of Command

I was a playtester for CoC so I think it is a great game.  I tried to upscale the game to battalion level with a junior leader being a platoon leader but didn't really like it.  In fairness the game isn't designed for this.  

Best parts:  Rolling dice and manipulating them is fun.  This was part of my inspiration for Boom and Zoom.  The variable ending of turns is neat as well as getting to go twice.

Less than best parts: Again leaders are generic as are units.  You can't have a shaky LT or one unit that is jumpy.  

A platoon of shermans looks over a village.

Piquet/Field of Battle

Most people already have an opinion about Piquet.  I will say that I enjoyed original Piquet but it was slow and impetus swings could make it very frustrating though not necessarily unrealistic.   Bret Oman has minimized/eliminated much of these negatives with Piquet second generation Filed of Battle.  Now I have 1st edition FOB for horse and musket only and just ported some ideas into modern warfare.  I have posted several games of my mashup of Battlefront and Piquet.  

Field of Battle mashup

Best parts:  You can include a card called "command confusion" or "brilliant leader" which can differentiate very good or shaky leaders.  YES! I use these for platoon leaders so maybe I know that Harry in 2nd platoon is weak or Herr Lackman of my panthers can get anything done I ask.  The cards are also great for solitaire as you can have your plan but you might not get the right sequence before your opponent messes it up. FOB really models the OODA loop.  Force morale in FOB is much better than original Piquet.

less than best parts:  rolling up the unit quality before the game takes a while and though only 25% of your force should deviate from the norm I always have about 50%.  It is also tempting to include too many cards in each deck which then slows the game down.

company mortars set up to support the advance.  Battlefront has the best artillery rules bar none. 

I went to the Piquet website to see if they had anything new and discovered they have a 2+ generation Piquet out called Battle Command.  So I looked for a review and found one here by our very own Sgt Steiner!  https://sgtsteiner.blogspot.com/2023/01/battle-command-obtained.html     

After reading the review and looking over his comments I thought Battle Command was interesting but appeared to have too many decisions and would slow the game down. But I did like the idea of having a primary use for a card and then a possible secondary use for just one platoon.  That potentially would be a tough decision to make.  "This one tank is exposed in the field and I need to move it.  But it would be really good to have all my infantry resolve their fire right now."  

Infantry resolving fire right now!

I tried it and it worked great.  So my latest rule mashup contains the following:

Battlefront WW II/ O group/ Field of Battle. 

So if you are interested in how I am currently playing then read on.  If not then just look at the rest of the pictures.   

Battlefront WW II.  All combat, artillery and pretty much everything except sequence of play.  

O group  Spotting rules and variable movement.  I also use the D6 for concealment.  For example, if a unit is in a wooden house I would roll a D6 along with my D12 [ forgot to mention I changed the battlefront tables to D12 to minimize the extreme results on either end].  If I rolled a 1-4 on the D6 I would subtract 1 from the D12 result. 

Field of Battle     I normally use about 10 cards per side as per field of battle.  I roll up my leaders and unit quality per Piquet Point of Attack or Forgotten Heroes. The unit quality matches the levels in Battlefront.  

For Initiative I roll opposed D6s or whatever I need:

If you tie reshuffle the deck.  Even numbers random event.

If you win by 1-2 draw 1 card than your opponent draws 1 card

If you win by 3 draw 2 cards than your opponent draws 1 card

If you win by 4+ draw 3 cards than your opponent draws 1 card

A german rear guard as their commander tries to save two 75mm guns from the advancing americans.  He ordered them to move in plenty of time.  What is taking them so long???!

There are several cards that have a possible secondary effect.  They are:

Tank Fire>>> Infantry Fire

Infantry Fire>>> Armor Move

Armor Move>>>Melee

Melee>>>Infantry Move

Infantry Move>>>Tank Fire

For these cards you can chose the primary action and play as normal.  If you want you can pick a platoon and roll their LD against a D6:

Lose you must do the primary action

Tie or win by 1 or 2 your platoon can do the secondary action

Win by 3+ you can do the primary action plus your platoon can do the secondary action.

   Now my junior leaders are definitely part of the action! 


The guns didn't get too far!

For every two stands destroyed or routed I add a hunker down card to the deck.  


That's pretty much it.   It gives exciting unpredictable games that are relatively quick.   If you try any of this let me know how it works.  If you have improvements let me know!

Hope everyone has a great holiday!

The Hauptman once again turns to Lachman to do the impossible.  Stem the tide until he can get the infantry to safety.



Monday, November 27, 2023

Why would the Fleet Air Arm want the Wildcat?

 Because the Fulmar fighter was woefully inadequate!  

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving; at least in the US.  Please remember all the US servicemen and women far away from home this holiday season; it is tough.  

Update on my aerial combat game that currently has no name.  I demo ed it at Waterloo games in Richmond, VA and I believe everyone had a great time.  We played Wildcats vrs Zeros and by the third turn of the first game people were grasping the concepts.  The performance dice and area movement take a while to get use to because they are novel but everyone enjoyed the games and felt they gave a good sense of aerial combat; which I was glad to hear.  JD had an insightful comment, "This is one level up from plane to plane skirmish."  I had not thought about it that way but I think he is right.  You normally move in elements because that is the most effective way to fight; not because the rules force you too.  Many thanks to Rob and the folks at Waterloo games for hosting us.  Would love to get back there in January. 

I have polished up the altitude rules and boom and zoom really works well now.  I think fighter verses fighter is close.  Am tweaking bomber defense still and have now started working on air to ground.  

I will post this report because I think readers will find it unusual.  I was reading that when the British decided to invade Syria the French actually reinforced Syria with several squadrons of DE 520s and MS406s.  The French did attack British naval forces several times.  I rarely get to use my Fulmars so here was an ideal opportunity.  

4 Fulmars defending a mixed force of British CAs and DDs against 6 Potez 663 bombers escorted by 3 DE 520s.   

   Prototype cards I am using for the game with no name.  Fortunately we start low but still, where are our Martlets?!?!

Lt Garret leads his flight towards trouble.  He is a veteran, with 2 average pilots and poor Hobbs without much experience.  

We are fighting because we are french and we like to make things difficult!  DE 520s start at medium low.

Lt Garret manages to work his way around to the side of the formation before they are spotted.  Since they are outclassed by the DE 520s they will go after the bombers and take their lumps from the fighters.  Go!

 Miles and Hobbs bore straight in and have a go.  They see strikes but the bomber chugs on.  [ The fulmars are barely faster than the bombers.]

Garret maneuvers to a bomber's 6 and lets loose wtih all 8 .303 Mgs.  This was a lot of firepower in 1938 but he is currently in 1941.   It appears he kills the back gunner. 

The french fighters are relieved to see fulmars.  The Lt tells his veteran NCO to break off and go after the second element while he dives after a trailing Hobbs...

Hobbs suddenly feels rounds hitting the cockpit and is badly wounded as french fighters flash by.  The French regain altitude.  


At the same time the French NCO settles in on the tail of Miles ... He is able to keep his large fulmar out of the frenchman's sites.    

Turn 2 as Garret trys to rally his men the french gain the initiative.  Hobbs radios he is badly hit and needs to head back to the carrier.  As he moves in that direction Lt Garret sees, to his horror, ...

a french DE 520 again diving down on Hobbs.  He yells as Hobbs takes more shells.  

The Fulmar is tough and stays in the air though now it is leaking petrol like a sieve.  Hobbs...

limps away where he will successfully ditch near the carrier.  Meanwhile, Miles doesn't stay out of the French NCOs sights forever and goes down. 


Lt Garret stubbornly sticks to his plan and makes another run at the bombers; we are here to protect the ships!.  This time he is rewarded by smoke pouring out of the port engine.  This bomber turns away and heads for home.

4 minutes into the battle.  1 Fulmar down, Hobbs limping back to the carrier, one bomber heading home trailing smoke.  If you are Lt Garret do you cut and run?  You are outnumbered by the DE 520s and two still have the height advantage.  Of course not!  You are a naval aviator in a crappy plane.  You have to protect the fleet.

As Lt Garret makes his wide turn to have another go at the bombers he is intercepted by a lone DE 520.  Lt Garret, being a veteran, fends him off with the help of his wingman.  He decides he will make a run at this pesky frenchman who has caused so much destruction today. 

He attempts to get behind him but all he can manage is a fleeting snapshot from the front as the frenchman goes by...

 and is rewarded as a thin trail of smoke starts to trail his opponent!  

But while this is occuring, once again the "Frun in the Sun" strikes!  He singles out Garret's wingman...

With disastrous results!

The smoking DE 520 leaves the battlefield while Lt Garret decides to avenge the loss of his comrades...

He lines up his shot carefully on another bomber and this time is rewarded as the wing collapses!  

He avoids yet another diving attack and british flak breaks up the party.   


Three french bombers approach a british DD.  [ I don't know if they can glide bomb but for today they can.]

The first two french aircraft miss the rapidly moving ship.  [ For those of you that think that is a Flower class DE you are WRONG.  Go back and study your ship recognitions.  I SAID it is a british destroyer.]

The third bomber scores a near miss with a 250lb bomb.  Water is a great medium and this actually causes...

Flooding on the HMS Generic British Destroyer.  Rolling on the "Fate of the Ship" table she will have to be towed back to Alexandria unless the French take another crack at her.  

Fun game that was a total disaster for the British.  Rules played very well.  In retrospect I think Lt Garret should have taken an element up high to deal with the Frun in the Sun.  Would be interesting to play it again like that.  Would also be interesting to play it with 4 Martlets instead of Fulmars.  Now I know why the Navy wanted them so bad rather than waiting for Corsairs!



Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The kicking mules and Fighter Pilot

 I suspect many people are getting tired of aerial game reports but I am really digging this game.  It really shows the differences of plane types and better pilots do perform better.  I think it is going to be a winner.  I have decided not to call it What a Fighter though. What a Tanker is a beer and pretzel game while this really isn't.  Other than you roll 6 dice to determine your hand there really isn't any relation to WAT.  The dice are different and I have opposed rolls, skill dice, trading out dice and area movement; none of which is remotely like WAT.  I am still looking around for a name but might go with Fighter Pilot

The game plays in about 70 minutes but I wanted to stretch it and see how it plays with alot of toys on the table.  So we turn to my P-38 squadron in Tunisia, the Kicking Mules to escort B-17s to bomb Sicily.   I want it big so the Mules are going to take 6 fighters and fight against 6 Germans.  [ I didn't roll scenario or # of opposing fighters.]  I chose the P-38 as I want the game to show the P-38J and L were good fighters up at high altitude.  [ Before the J they hadn't got the super charger right so it was decent up high but I wouldn't call it good.  One of my main goals of the game is the P-38E will fly different than the G than the J than the L but not be complicated like Fighting Wings. ]  The germans will have ME 109Gs and 2 FW 190s.  [ I know the FW 190s were out of theater by this time but I need to show the FW 190 wasn't all that good a fighter at high altitude.  This will be a good test']  

The Mules have had 6 other missions and are mediocre.  They just haven't scored a lot of victories.  There last mission I posted about them was their 5th and can be found on Jan 30 2020.

The pilots are:

Capt Zap McGruder                    Avg

  wing  2Lt Bill Wright            Avg     former NCO

Lt Lewis                                     Vet               1 kill

   wing  2Lt Bing Foster          Green      well liked in the sq

2Lt Chuck Carls                        Vet                3 kills

   wing   2Lt Glenn Schlick       Avg

B-17s on their way!  Where is our escort??@##

Unfortunately,  McGruder makes a navigational error and misses the rendezvous with the bombers!  This will allow the 2 FWs a turn to attack the B-17s unmolested.   

As they near the island Folke Wulfes attack.  Bomber #2 sustains a fuel leak.   For now they can continue.  

Bomber #4 attempts to fend of an abeam attack...

It fails.  6 parachutes are seen out of the burning plane.  

Turn 2  [ each turn is between 1-3 minutes ]

Look who shows up!  McGruder feels bad and embarrassed.  The squadron knows and Maj Bunker will not be pleased.    [ Lewis' element top.  McGruder center and Carls bottom.]

4 ME 109s show up and a ranging air battle brews. 

 Lt Lewis gets in trouble with an element of ME 109s [left] while 2Lt Carls manages a quick shot at one Messerschmidt. [ below center].  Capt McGuire goes after the FW 190s [ center above] 

Turn 3

Capt McGruder gets on the FW 190's tail [ P-38J has better performance and same maneuverability up high] and sees hits on the wing.  The FWs maneuverability drops by 1. [ counter on stand.]

The second FW knocks a B-17 out of formation.  She will be easier prey now.

Meanwhile 2Lt Carls uses a combo of speed and maneuverability [ helps to be a veteran going against an average pilot] to get on the tail of a ME 109G.  He sees hits and flame from the engine....

Carls has his 4th kill!

End of turn 3.  Lt Lewis has a ME 109 on his tail now and is starting to take hits. [ center left]  Carls free after his kill [center below].  McGruder on a FW's tail [ center above].  1 FW 190 still loose on the bombers [ center right just in front of the bombers]

Turn 4

The FW veteran activates first with a P-38 on his tail.  His ailerons are damage but his mount can dive fast.  He pushes down on the stick and goes into a split S.   Capt McGruder sees the damaged FW head for the deck.  While his Lightning likes the high altitude he can keep pace with any german plane in a dive. Somehow this pilot pulls off a slick split S that McGruder can't follow.  Worse, as the P-38 starts to wallow in the thicker air the Folk Wolfe spins around and manages a snap shot...   

flames erupt from the stricken fighter.    Was it electrical? Fuel?  Zap didn't know but the fighter...

started to plunge to earth as if turned by the invisible hand of gravity.  He knew he should bail out but he hated the thought of being in the mediterainean.    He decided to dive to put out the flames like he had seen in his childhood comic books.  20,000ft,... 10,000ft... things looked grim but at 4,000ft the flames extinguished!  It had worked.  He righted the craft and set a course for dry land.  [ a "6" extinguishes the flames a "1" blows up the plane every 10,000 ft.] 

 Meanwhile things aren't looking much better for Lt Lewis.  He has a ME 109 on his tail apparently flown by a good pilot because all his tricks aren't working.  His wingman, 2Lt Foster, is a rookie and hasn't been much help.  Foster barrels in [top left] to try to clear Lewis' tail but the German also has a wingman. 

Foster fires at the annoying but effective wingman...


And smoke streams from his engine!  More importantly he moves away leaving his leader unprotected. He will attempt to head for home with a damaged engine.

While all this is happening 2Lt Carls is attempting to maneuver against another ME 109 hoping to get that all important 5th kill.  All he manages is a quick snap shot which misses.

At the end of turn 4 we see the german wingman trying to head for home [ top left].  2Lt Wright facing off against a FW 190 at medium altitude [center top]. Lt Lewis finally manages to shake his german pursuer [ center]. 2Lt Carls skirmishing with a ME 109 [bottom right] and the other lone FW still running amok among the bombers but not doing much damage.

Turn 5

The FWs leave having spent their fuel.  This leaves 3 ME 109s.   The first with the damaged engine leaves the area.  The second, flown by a veteran, ignores the P-38s and goes after the straggling B-17. 

He fires and sends it into the sea.  

The third ME 109 makes a head on pass and does no damage.

2Lt Carls does get one more shot at a fleeing messerschmidt and sees hits to the wings but it does not go down.


So 2 bombers lost and 2 bombers/ 1 P-38 damaged for 1 ME 109 downed and 2 ME 109s plus 1 FW 190 damaged. One more story to play out; Zap has to land.  He nurses the fighter back to the strip but crashes it upon landing and is WIA.  Not a good day for Zap!  I will call this one a draw as 2 bombers went down.  the squadron looses a cool point so they are now at -1 and are becoming the loosers on base. Maj Bunker is furious with Capt McGruder and throws him under the bus before the Colonel.  He decides to make McGruder his "project" to prove what a good leader he is.  2Lt Carls gets promoted to 1Lt and will functionally take Zaps job during this project time.  2Lt Foster looses his rookie status.  A replacement pilot due in 3 missions ago arrive, 2Lt Zaney Swobe fresh from school.  He has a haughty air about him so is rapidly becoming unpopular.  

Regarding Fighter Pilot I liked how the P-38 was modeled as well as the FW 190.  I think head on attacks against bombers need to be beefed up. Overall I am pleased with the system.  Just need to ensure the rules are clear and people understand the system as it has several new concepts.  Hope to be demo ing it at Waterloo games in Richmond, VA in Nov.