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, January 31, 2023

The Tale of "Black Flag" Wilde; Airacobra pilot

 Had time to run off a bunch of games last week.  Aerial games are hard to play and hard to post.  The action is suppose to to fast, furious and three dimensional.  Most systems struggle to be these things.  When reporting a game it is hard to convey these traits.  I will attempt to do so.  This battle also really shows off the interactions between characters which are so important in any human endeavor including war.

The 91st Fighter Squadron was the first P-39 squadron to land in Africa.  They spent their first days flying CAP over the convoy and were successful; fending off several attacks.  As P-40s and P-38s showed up they transitioned to more fighterbomber missions.  Their CO is Capt Robert Filarto.  He is a good pilot who has scored 2 kills in Tunisia.  He hates paperwork and leaves that to the XO a West Pointer Lt "Honey" Donnelson.  The squadron has a good reputation given their work over the landings.  They have 5 kills and only 2 losses.  Their "cool" is +2 which is very good for a P-39 and morale is high registering in at a "9".  Their group commander is LtCol Rawlings who is neutral towards them but the group admin Capt Ford doesn't like Capt Filarto because his paperwork is always late.  The group intel officer, Lt Gordons. is also not a fan of the squadron since Capt Filarto chewed him out once for not expecting ME 109s in the AO yet.  The squadron has been short a replacement pilot for weeks despite other squadrons getting pilots. When Filarto or Honey inquire why this is Capt Ford tells them the other squadrons are taking heavier losses and they need the pilots more.  [ I dice for this and Ford keeps blocking replacements and Filarto hasn't wanted to go to Rawlings yet.]  Finally the 91st gets a replacement pilot, 2Lt Wilde.  

It soon become apparent why the 91st has gotten Wilde.  Wilde's nickname is "Black Flag" and he was a big football star in college. [ Jack I swear I rolled all this up!]  He is all about himself and thinks he will be an ace by the end of the month.  All he needs is the rest of the squadron to block for him.  Filarto assigns Lt Donnelson to him but after a couple of easy runs Black Flag can't stick to his wingman.   Honey gives up and want him out of the squadron.  Filarto reads him the riot act and decides Black Flag will be his personal wingman on their next mission. 

28 December 1942 and the squadron is assigned close support to US troops for a limited offensive.  


Top Cover

Capt Filarto              Vet           2 kills

  2LT Black Flag  Wilde          rookie



2LT Sampson  lead           vet              2 kills

       2LT  Egert                    avg

2LT    Myers                     Avg

       2Lt     Hamm                   rookie

 The squadron encounters 4 MC 202s 3 turns from the front lines.  The Italians have the initiative but not position.  

Capt Filarto states he and Wilde will engage the fighters while Sampson should try to make it through to the target.  There should be a low threshold to drop bombs however as the airacobras can't outrun the macchis and can't outturn them.   

Two MC 202s stay medium to tangle with Filarto.  However, the other 2 split and each go after an element of P-39s...


 2Lt Myer quickly has one behind him with fatal consequences.  

So a swirling battle begins.  At the end of the Italian turn... Capt Filarto [left] is disadvantaged against the Italians as exemplified by facing 90 degrees to them.  Wilde is still protecting his wing as best he can.  In the center Myers is going down while 2Lt Hamm looks on horrified.  Above right the rookie Italian [green base] has the advantage over 2Lt Sampson's element but Sampson just executed a vertical roll to keep the Italian off his tail.  

As the US gets the opportunity to counter thrust Capt Filarto [nearest element] claws his way back to neutral but looses Wilde in the process [near plane not associated with Filarto now].  In the distance at low altitude 2LT Hamm [right] manages to stay neutral to the MC 202 while Sampson [far left] manages to get the upper hand on his attacker and even fires off a burst of cannon but he misses.  

As the battle continues Sampson [upper right] continues to advantage the Italian but can't quite put bullets on target.  His wingman Egert hangs on to his tail.  Capt Filarto [ center left] is now faced with a dilemma as both Hamm [below right] and Wilde[ above left] have MC 202s on their tails.  " I told Wilde not to leave." he thinks as he dives down towards Hamm.  

Capt Filarto coming in from the right guns blazing.  The Italian, without a wingman, wisely breaks off to engage the new threat.  2Lt Hamm is relieved! Meanwhile...


2Lt Wilde's football skills are not translating well to the skies.  He twists and turns but the experienced Italian pilot [pilot marker on stand] soon lines up for a perfect shot.  Wilde does manage to bail out in US territory. 

 Last turn before everyone heads for home.  2Lt Hamm [center]actually gets lucky with a quick shot while his attacker was busy with Capt Filarto.  He wounds the Italian pilot but the Italian gets away.  2Lt Sampson's [left] quarry uses the macchi's better rate of climb and speed to climb away from the fight.  

Great battle that played in under an hour.  The airacobras lost but they were set up to fail so morale and cool don't change.  Filarto felt a little bad about Wilde but he was also pissed at him.  The squadron was happy he came to Hamm's rescue and happy Hamm finally hit an enemy plane.  Hamm become average and promptly gets a head cold and will miss the next mission.  What to do about Wilde?  After consultation with Honey, Filarto goes to see the LtCol requesting Wilde be removed from the squadron because he is dangerous in the air.  He suggests he be transfered to Air Transportation Command.  I set the odds for the AKOT at probable since he is new and was shot down but with a -1 as Capt Ford will be against sending even a bad pilot away.  This could also blow back against Filarto if LtCol Rawlings thinks he is whining.  Guess what?  The LtCol bought it!  Wilde is transfered out of the squadron to admin duties with the group while Rawlings and Ford decide what to do.  Of course the squadron is down 2 more pilots [ Wilde and Myers] and I doubt we will ever get a new one but at least Wilde is gone.  So Filarto and Honey will have to continue to move their squadron forward!




Monday, January 23, 2023

Revisiting Piquet with Lt LaRoche 1950

 Just after the beginning of the year I was straitening up my "study" and came across my Piquet stuff.  Now I bought Piquet about 15 years ago because I have always been interested in Command and Control and Piquet seemed to have a novel approach.  I played it for a while ( of course I modified it.) then discovered Too Fat Lardies and Troops Weapons and Tactics which I still think is the best model of leadership for squad/platoon level gaming that I have come across.  It does drag a bit as a game and you all have heard my groaning about Richard's shock system for combat.  I moved on to Force on Force which has everything but indirect fire and leadership which I corrected with my house rules.  Well now that I have moved up to company level I thought I would try Piquet again.  

Piquet is a game that people either love or hate. I actually like it because in my limited experience with war it is very chaotic and nothing goes as planned and nothing is easy. I also like that you can't move your units just out of cavalry range because you aren't really sure have far their cavalry can move. For anyone that doesn't know, Bob Jones took a wargame sequence and put each phase on a card.  The cards are mixed up and then you draw them. You have a contested die roll with winner picking the difference in the number of cards.  Loser picks nothing.   It was revolutionary at the time.     I bought Brent Oman's Field of Battle 15 years ago to try to address several burning issues with Piquet; namely huge impetus runs by one side and the fact that sometimes all you need is one card and it might have passed.  So your whole "strategy" is to burn through your cards to get to the next turn.  While defenders of Piquet say this shows that you are not being distracted by the cards and shows your are a great general [ or in my case a major or LtCol] it is indeed boring.

I played 2 test games of Piquet with companies of Germans and Russians solitaire. Please note I am only experimenting with initiative and command and control.  I am dead set on Battlefront for combat resolution.   First it is a great system for solitaire gamers.  You might want to close assault the building but you have to wait for the right card.  You also customize the decks, so for instance the German deck is more efficient while the russian deck has 1 more close assault card in it for their propensity to close with the enemy.  You really felt like a company commander ordering 1st platoon into the building and then wondering what was taking them so long to move!  Here is where my problem with the system showed up.  As a CO I couldn't do anything to get the platoon to move except to draw more cards.  So leadership is built into the decks and ratings but it is still abstract, at least for me.  As a surgeon I want to be able to go and physically get those people moving if I chose to do so.  

Stug fires during a playtest.

This moves us to Too Fat Lardies and Troops Weapons and Tactics.  While they are the wrong level Rich was on to something with his "big man" cards. Here leaders move the troops but troops don't do much without leaders.  So I thought I would add big man cards to Piquet, significantly decrease the number of duplicate cards in the deck to decrease time and increase the importance of big men and perhaps get the best of both worlds.  Here is a playtest that turned into a rocking game.

 French IndoChina 1950

Lt, because we are at the a** end of the world we will not be getting a replacement for our poor comrade anytime soon.  Tell me what do you think of your platoon Sergeant Poloski?

Sir, he is a fine NCO.  

What do you think of 2nd platoon?  

I think the platoon is all right but Lt Shiffron wasn't impressed with Sgt Jones.  

I agree Shiffron wasn't impressed but the Chef Sgt thinks he is okay.  I need you to oversee both platoons for the next month or so.  Have the NCOs run the day to day and just be there if needed.  Best to learn some of the men from 2nd platoon.

Yes Sir.

Mission    Patrol area on this photo for possible Viet Minh activity. 


Lt LaRoche   Avg leader   foolhardy, fully supports the war.  son of wealthy parents.  Some people act out by becoming hippies, some by joining the French Foreign Legion!

1st Platoon  Sgt Poloski  Avg Leader  Polish NCO during the war.  Didn't return to Poland so joined the legion

2nd Platoon  Sgt Jones  Avg Leader  South African   Wanted for bank robberies.  joined the legion to lay low and found out he liked it.  [ another neat thing about Piquet is you roll up the quality of your units before the game.  2nd platoon was 1 step down from expected so they are experienced.  I hypothesize this is because their Lt was decapitated by a VC mortar 1 week earlier.]

Lt LaRoche's plan was to land a platoon on each side of the river and have them move up to check for contact.  He had a battery of 105s on call plus some maritime craft.   

[ At this time french squads had an authorized strength of 15 men, many with automatic weapons.  While I have no doubt they never reached this number I am using 3 regular french squads with LMGs and 1 SMG squad without an LMG to make up the french platoon.  Each squad can only take 2 disruptions before it is removed due to decreased manpower.   For those of you that play battlefront this should make sense.]

Per patrol scenario 1 blind on each side of the river [ black markers]

Lt LaRoche decamps onto shore.  He briefs Sgt Poloski on the plan.  2nd platoon will start across the river. LaRoche sets up his HQ. 

1st platoon moves out.  

Across the river 2nd platoon meets a VM blind in the jungle... while

 1st platoon gets closer to a VM blind as well.  

2nd platoon wins ( or loses) as their blind turns out to be 2 platoons + a 60mm Mtr in transit.  1 platoon is downgraded to raw which should help.  

 1st squad runs into a whole platoon of VM.  It doesn't go well for the french and the squad is wiped out.  

Yes I made up my own custom Piquet cards 15 years ago. Glad I didn't throw them out.   What do you mean I don't have a life?  I am well adjusted!  

Lt LaRoche hears gunfire across the river.  He sees the boats move up to the jungle to support.  Merde!  I should have stuck with 2nd platoon.  He can't seem to get a SITREP from Jones.  He recalls 1st platoon.  He needs to get over there before something bad happens.  

Despite the french deck being better the VM are getting all the right cards.  The VM manage to move up their mortar and start to effectively shell 2nd platoon.  Casualties start to mount...

LaRoche finally gets a report from Jones.  They are taking heavy small arms and mortar fire and have heavy casualties.  He suspects they have run into a reinforced company.  the boats finally get over as 1st platoon comes in. 

 Things are getting worse for Jones and 2nd platoon.  They are down to 50% effectives and morale is shaky at best.  [ very bad morale rolls] The battle has actually been going on for about 30 minutes since first contact.

The VM commander, sensing a huge victory, sends in his 2nd platoon to annihilate the foreigners.  [ I have to tell you I am sweating this out.]

What a great time to have a boat [tanks] move card come up!

What a great time to have some VM command confusion!  [ As the VM start to hesitate in closing with the french secondary to their inexperience.]

All right Pierre, let's get that 50cal working on this line of VM!  

The VM mortar hits the boats forcing everyone out.  There are casualties among the 1st platoon.  

At this point I draw Lt LaRoche's command card.  He gets 2 actions.  He attempts to rally 1st platoon [partially successful] and then leads a charge into the VM line! 

No contest.  The raw VM melt away.


The VM commander realizes they have hit their high water mark.  He sends 1st platoon away and tries to recover 2nd platoon.  

The energized 1st platoon continues to plow into the dazed VM platoon.  Now Sgt Polowski is running the show as Lt LaRoche goes over to see what is left of 2nd platoon.  

The carnage continued...

The 60mm Mortar manages to slip away...

As the VM head for their basecamp.  Their commander got a little too greedy and hadn't counted on Lt LaRoche and 1st platoon FFL!

Fantastic game!  I really thought 2nd platoon was going to be overrun.  Needless to say an excellent playtest.  I don't know if I will stick with this but it played fast and had all the tension I would want.  In addition, the leaders directly affected the outcome both good and bad.  

Post game I used Grunt's Forward to see if Lt LaRoche would get a medal.  I gave him an extra point because it was a dire situation and he actually made the first roll; Croix de Guerre with a Silver Star! His leadership rating also improves to good.  So word spread of his actions and the Captain wrote it up.  It is now making it's way through the system.  He puts in Sgt Polowski for an award; we will see.  What to do about Sgt Jones?  He is an average leader that had a run of bad luck.  All the stuff that makes gaming fun! 






Monday, January 9, 2023

Outpost 10 Highway 1 1970 RSVN

 Happy New Year everyone.  I have been busy with family and playing ancients SAGA.  I have been painting up a storm of new units as the greeks need a lot of bodies.  I don't normally post reports of SAGA as they don't generate much interest but will give you all 2 pictures just to show what has been going on.

Greeks with long sticks

Greeks meet Gauls!

As a break I played a very small battle in SVN.  I wanted to use ARVN ACAV and play an ambush.  I rolled up the board and it showed a key building on a river.  Viola!  An old french outpost protecting a bridge.  This also showed me I will need a new scenario for Battalion Forward; rescue.  

"That's odd" Liem thought.  "Why would they be attacking at dawn?"  He tried to get a word in with the Colonel but couldn't.  "Get over there right away...., Make us proud..., Defeat the communists."  Liem had heard it all before.  He felt confident he was running into an ambush; did the Colonel know?  No matter, he would protect his forces as best he could.  At least he had some tanks going with him.

ARVN Forces [trained]

1 company of ACAV

1 platoon of walker bulldog tanks

[ raw] 1 platoon of militia guarding post

Outpost 10 at dawn.   

 Battlespace with OPFOR placed.  For those of you with Platoon Forward that want to try this the formula I used was:    A= 2A-1  B=2B where Bs included all vehicles.  

The VC get 2 turns to attack the outpost before Liem starts his trek.  They ended up with 2 platoons + HMG.  [ VC trained except for morale they are experienced]

The VC are stopped at the gates but along the river the fighting rages along the wire. 

The cavalry approaches.  The VC have RPGs and a 57RCL on the far side of the road.  

It is amazing how badly ARVN armor always rolls for me!  Meanwhile...

VC in the outpost!

Of course the last 2 "bulldogs" refuse to move!  Liem sends his first platoon around. 

Of course they mined the road![ 40% chance].  At least the tanks are moving up.

  Liem deploys.  He orders 1st platoon to take out the RCL.  We must get moving!

1st platoon carries the day!    Liem orders 2nd platoon forward towards the outpost.  Meanwhile...

Fighting at the outpost has ceased.  Several prisoners are being taken back to the jungle.  

2nd platoon is taking too long.  The VC are clearing out.

2nd platoon shows up.  No flag is flying over outpost 10.  They skirmish with a rearguard but it is clear that Charlie has slipped back into the jungle.    

Fun game that played fast; just about 60 minutes.  Clearly a loss for Liem but not sure he could have won.  Need to play several more times to see if this is close to balanced.  If anyone plays it let me know your results.