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, April 25, 2023

Villiage sweep playtest with the FFL

 Hope everyone has been doing well as spring is here.  Decided to go back to Lt LaRoche and my FFL in IndoChina.  You can read about Lt La Roche in my post on 23 Jan.  

I decided to roll up a scenario using Grunts Forward and got "Village Sweep".  Now this scenario was the hardest to make in GF.  I didn't want it to be just a village assault as we already had scenarios for that.  So what I ended up with is a platoon minus sized unit moving into part of a village with hard intel on 4 sites.  They will be met with variable scattered light resistance that is reinforced as the insurgents come to the "sounds of guns" to move out assets before they are captured.  Biased opinion but I think it works well as the government forces have to move fast to search.  

So for a company level game I had a problem; what should "Village Sweep" look like? The above would not work as now I have the whole village on the board and turns are now twice as long.  I will spare you my first 2 playtests as they didn't go well. 

Capt Doucet had his orders.  The village of Tak Dao was being used as a supply cache for the VM. He was to capture the supplies without destroying the village and the "civilians".


Capt Doucet        Obnoxious, son of weathy parents and good at everything including leading men.  

                            Above Avg and Brilliant leader

1st Plt                 Lt Carville         Haughty [ he is french]   avg ldr

                           Plt Sgt Anderson   (USA)                         avg ldr

2nd Plt               Lt spot vacant

                          Plt Sgt Jones  South African wanted for bank robbery; joined the legion and stayed.

                                                 Avg ldr that did poorly last msn.   Plt down to 3 stands and rated 


3rd Plt                Lt LaRoche   Foolhardy but brave.          above avg leader

                           Plt Sgt  Poloski ex NCO Polish army.     avg ldr


Attached   M-24 Chaffee tank section, 1 riverine craft, 1 MMG and 1 RCL. 105 artillery on call but we lose points if we use it in the village.

FFL rated veterans except 2nd platoon and Chaffees rated experienced.

FFL forces


My FFL cards for IndoChina

The village of Tak Dao and environs.  Blue markers are suspected caches.  Black markers are enemy blinds.  

Capt Doucet's plan was a follows; 2nd plt would hold the bridge north of town as they are weak.  3rd plt would split into 2 and cover both east and west of town.  1st Plt would enter the town followed by armor and rapidly search the caches.  2nd and 3rd Plts would be available to assist as needed.

Downtown Tak Dao.


My new PP sniper hoping for a crack at the french.

1st Plt move out towards Tak Dao...

Since I have set my plan I can roll up all the VM forces.  2 Plts inf [ 1 raw and 1 trained + bazooka], 1 LMG and 1 sniper.   All VM except sniper and 1 squad start disorder as they are caught by surprise. 

 Sniper takes a bead on the FFL [Sgt Jones' plt] on the bridge.

Lt Carville questions a peasant as per Grunt's Forward while the rest of the platoon...

rapidly moves into the village.  No shots fired so far.

Then shots are heard from near the bridge.  Sgt Jones reports they have encountered sniper fire.  

Capt Doucet pushes 1st Plt for speed before the VM can move the supplies.  Sgt Anderson reaches the first site.  No resistance other than a few snipers.  Maybe this will be an easy mission today?

With one site searched [nothing], the rest of 1st platoon move towards a house on the north end a machine gun shatters the dream of an easy mission. 

 Situation about 30 minutes into the sweep.  Sgt Jones and 2nd Plt have established a blocking position at the bridge despite sniper fire.  Lt Carville and half the platoon have encountered resistance in the large house near the bridge.  Sgt Anderson and the rest of 1st Plt are taking fire from the east end of town.  Sgt Anderson has tasked the squad with searching the courtyard for a cache of supplies.  At this point Capt Doucet calls for the Chaffees and the RCL to move up to support.

 1st squad/1st plt takes casualties from the VM LMG and morale breaks. [ how embarrassing!]  The french pull back to cover to reasses the situation.  

 Good news!  Sgt Anderson reports finding a small arms cache in the courtyard.  He covers it with a convenient black tarp.

  With 1st Plt stalled, Capt Doucet orders [ with some trepidation if you read January's battle report] 2nd Plt to seize the northern section of the village supported by the navy. 

 Sgt Jones redeems himself as 2nd plt gains a foothold in close combat! 

 Meanwhile, things have not been going well for Lt Carville and much of 1st plt.  A random event drops their morale to experienced.  Next they fail their morale roll again and wind up...

retreating to the edge of town where the Chaffee crews have been firering ineffectually at the north side of town.  To make matters worse, Sgt Anderson's squad guarding the small arms cache has taken heavy casualties [ including Sgt Anderson] and have withdrawn. 

A very angry Capt Doucet comes up to "assist" the Lt and his platoon!

2nd platoon continues their battle on the north side of town.  The VM garrison CO has wisely moved to nearby buildings.

I love it when things line up!

Legionnaire Rahme is mentioned in this report for single handedly clearing 2 building of VM including a bazooka team during operation in Tak Dao.  

As we are nearing an hour Capt Doucet realizes 1st platoon is not going to be able to sweep the village in time.  The east end is still a problem.  " Lt LaRoche, take your men and sweep the east end of the village.  Make sure you check the bend of the river for a weapons cache."

Lt LaRoche has been hearing the small arms fire in the east end of town; he has been expecting this call.  "1st squad with me into town.  2nd squad follow the river to the bend and search that area.  Questions?  Let's move!" 

As sappers start moving supplies the VM's thoughts turn towards escape.  The survivors of the north end battle make a break for the bend in the river.  Many will not make it thanks to the Marine Nationale!

Lt LaRoche enters a firefight on the east end of town.

LaRoche likes the odds of fighting an enemy he can somewhat see.  The french fire begins to take its toll.  The VM are trying to give their sappers time to clear the small arms.  

Capt Doucet, realizing no one is guarding the small arms orders Sgt Jones to dispatch a squad to guard them until the fight on the east end of town is over.  A squad obviously without Rahme is sent.  I use variable movement with 2d6.  5 or less you move 1 hex, 6-9 2 hexes and 10+ 3 hexes.  You can see how anxious the french squad is to enter the center of town and guard the small arms.  Where's Rahm? Yep you guessed it, the VM are moving small arms as we speak.  Sacre bleu!!!!

Meanwhile on the east end of the village...


  2nd squad has shown up and see the VM are attempting to evacuate across the river.  

A gunfight breaks out.  The garrison CO is killed.  Will the french close assault the boat or will the wily VM get the boat out into the river in time??  With the Piquet cards you don't know.  However, the VM don't have a leader card now while 2nd plt does [ Lt LaRoche] plus our naval move card could solve the problem so the odds are in our favor...

Can you believe that?!?!?!@!#  

Sure a little late now!

The final VM squad goes into hiding.

Great game!  In retrospect leaving the sweep to 1 Plt even backed with armor and naval assests wasn't enough.  We searched 3 of the 4 sites in time and only found 1 cache.  Unfortunately we didn't guard it and most of the weapons were gone by the time the french showed up to claim the town. A clear loss to the french made worse by VM escaping in front of us.  

1st Platoon is in the doghouse.  Sgt Anderson, their platoon sergeant, did not survive.  RIP.  

2nd Platoon did very well and we have a new hero that will get promoted, Cpl Rahme.  

3rd platoon did well once called upon but that is what we have come to expect from Lt LaRoche.


Regarding the scenario, I gave the VM3/4ths of the starting forces.  On the blinds table "A" change "5" to snipers and "7" to 1/2 platoon.  Also the VM can pick 2 units that start ready.  The rest start in some sort of disruption as they gather themselves to prepare to fight the french.  The sappers will start to remove supplies on turn 5.  Try it out and let me know.  I certainly need to playtest it again but it worked well in this iteration.   



Monday, April 10, 2023

Where Eagle drop: 101st in Normandy

 Hope everyone had a good Easter/Passover or is having a good Ramadan.  Reading Max Hasting's book on Normandy so have played several small scenarios set there including one with my brother who was nice enough to play while visiting.

My brother is the old guy on the left. : )  He doesn't like complexity but he didn't mind my mashup of rules.  They do play rather fast.  We only had 11 cards in each deck. 

 He set up far back which surprised me.  I had to go in and find him.

We gave him a 50mm ATG gun on board and a Char bis that came rattling up the road.  Not enough I am afraid.

So I down loaded "Where Eagles drop" from the battlefront website here: http://www.fireandfury.com/scenarios.shtml#NWEurope1   It looked to be a great scenario to play at the company level as the paratroopers are scattered but have somewhat organized and now have to clear an exit from Utah beach.  It takes place during the day and both sides get armor reinforcements.  What's not to like?  

I don't have 3 companies of paratroopers so only used two.  I also cut the Germans by almost a third.  

The German garrision.  All troops are baseline trained.  They will start with 3 leaders, the LtCol CC who rolled avg, the company commander who rolled average and what was left of the other company that I skinnied down so really a large platoon.  He also rolled average. This gives them good leadership despite mediocre troops and an initiative die of D10.  

The Battlefield.  Utah beach is off to the right.  Brown is swamp with a single causeway connecting the beach with a small town in the center.  There is a company in the town.  2 squads on patrol chatting with several 88mm Anti Aircraft guns north of the town and 2 squads manning a checkpoint at the end of the causeway.

 The checkpoint.  

 Two companies of 101st paratroopers.  These guys are experienced with 2 platoons of Lt Mehan's company upgraded to Veteran and 1 downgraded to trained.  They have 4 leaders; LtCol Strayer who is above average, both company COs (Lt Mehan and Capt Gross avg) and I had to include Lt Winters who is avg.  Winters will get one of the veteran platoons.  To the US deck I added a brilliant leader card for Strayer and a tactical initiative card.  It adds a +1 to a combat die roll for that turn to simulate better small unit tactics at the squad and platoon level.  I also add a second close assault card to simulate the paratroopers tendency to close with the enemy.  Their initiative die is D12.  

Next we roll to see where the paratroopers end up and in what shape...

We only lose 2 squads and some 60mm MTRs.  LtCol Strayer ends up on the left end of the board with about a platoon of infantry. Capt Gross ends up in the upper left with 2 squads.  Lt Winters ends up in the swamp north of the causeway with his whole platoon.  Lt Mehan ends up in the swamp south of the causeway.  

Lt Winter's gathering troops before he tackles the checkpoint.


This should help him rally the squads faster so he can get moving!

as the men get organized in the dawn's light.

These unfortunate para's are getting organized in a field as a visibility improves; unfortunately there is a german patrol 60 yards away and flak battery in the same field!  

 With a heroic event card in play, Sgt Reynolds quickly organizes a LMG and they take the german patrol under fire...

 taking out a german squad!  

Meanwhile LtCol Strayer's men become pinned down by german howitzers in the town.  

The Germans are slow to react but react they do.  The Garrison CO, hearing fire in the field north of town sends 2 squads to flank the paratroopers as the 88s open up.  

Disaster strikes!  LtCol Strayer is killed by a german shell!  His men, demoralized, retreat into the nearby woods.

Back in the swamps Lt Mehan continues to consolidate his 2 squads helped by special dice!  [ Visibility is only 2 in swamps]  Lt Winters, unaware of other paras in the swamp, is prepared to carry out his mission. 

 Winters sends his men forward.  The LMG team is pinned. [ small pebble]

but look what the next two cards are!! : ) 

While the LMG is pinned down by fire, the squad on the right uses the terrain to move into hand grenade range and then charges the shack with the german LMG!  

It is no contest.  The German garrison now has para's on their flank.  Their morale is already low and this isn't going to help.  The Lt shouts orders...

but as the men take several casualties their morale cracks and they head for town!  [ No dogs were harmed in the staging of this battle.] 

Mean while at the north end of town, the paras in the field are slowly being whittled away by the 88.  Capt Gross, moving his small band towards the sound of guns decides he will flank the germans in the field and runs right into the german squads attempting to do the same thing.  

Lt Mehan, also moving towards the sound of guns, arrives at the checkpoint to see a squad of paras sitting there.  A NCO will be getting decorated later.  

 Unfortunately the germans are not idle.  They move 2 LMGs up to rake the checkpoint.  Lt Mehan sends a squad around south to try to enter the village.  He orders Winters to consolidate his position.  Just then some 81mm MTRs show up.  They have been slogging through the marsh for the last 30 minutes. [ Just north of Winters position.] 

On the north end of town... the paras in the field finally retreat.  Capt Gross is laying down effective fire and the german flanking team is taking casualties. 

 The squad moving into the south end of town unknowing has entered a minefield.   [ 30% chance each hex around the town is mined.] Mercifully they get through with but 1 casualty.  But the germans are alerted.  

A NCO reminds the paras that there is a war on as evidenced by all the shooting around town.  With or without LtCol Strayer they still have a mission to do.  The tiny group heads towards the causeway.  

The US consolidates their positions east of town.  

Lt Winters reports the causeway is secure.  Where is the 4th ID?  

Paras begin the assault on the town from the southeast...

It's all about which dice you use!  The US are in.  

Winter's platoon now rushes into the northeast section of town.  They are shelled along the way.  

One squad is pinned down but Winters makes it with another squad.  

Now the german howitzers turn their attention to the southeast corner of the town.  They destroy several buildings causing significant US casualties.  Those not dead...

seek shelter back in the swamps.  

The garrision CO takes a couple of shots at Winters before he retreats to the commercial section of town. He has radioed for reinforcements; where are they?

 50 minutes into the battle.  The US have a tiny toehold in the town at the northeast corner where Winters is.  The causeway is in hand but under fire from german 88s.  Lt Mehan hasn't heard from Capt Gross or Lt Col Strayer but there is gunfire north of town.  Also, another platoons worth of men have shown up from the swamps as well as a HMG.  Where is 4th ID?   [ Both sides reinforcements begin to arrive on the 6th turn of the reinforcement card. As the US has a higher initiative die and are taking fewer losses which results in a more efficient deck, they might get theirs 1-2 turns earlier.]   

It takes about 10 minutes but Winters finally gets his platoon up at the towns edge.  He is waiting for the right moment [ and the close assault card] to close with the enemy.

What is this?  The lead elements of the 4th ID!  

Winter's men enter the town proper and go house to house, room to room.  The final german squad after taking several casualties, surrenders.

Picture from a spotter plane about an hour into the battle.  US forces pushing into town from the east.  Remnants of US forces northwest of town behind hedgerows.  KO'ed 88s north of town. [ 81 mm MTRs finally knocked out].  Greyhounds of 4th ID moving down causeway.  

   Paras push into the shattered south east corner of town.  

Paras clearing out the last bits of resistance north of town.  Here they will find the body of Capt Gross.  After his loss cohesion fell apart north of town.  [ Forgot to take a picture of it.] 

The German garrison finds itself squeezed into the southwest corner of town.  With the remnants of Strayer's men advancing out of the woods they find themselves surrounded.  

A platoon of German PZ IIIs show up and trade shots with a bazooka team but the US fires into the commercial district disabling the howitzers and killing the garrision CO.   

 The company CO and 2 squads see the writing on the wall and surrender.  For the moment at least the town and causway is in US hands thanks to the 101st screaming eagles!

Fantastic game!  Though it ended as a crushing US victory it really felt nerve racking for the first 5 turns.  Once Winters swept through the building it was clear the US would win.  I don't have the US paratrooper data card from battlefront so I used the german one meaning they had to be only 1 hex away to really do any damage with their automatic weapons.  Both sides had about equal forces and the US was dispersed.  The US had better training/morale and had the initiative but lost two of their leaders early on.  I still think on paper it is pretty even.  Would be interesting to play it again to see what happens.  I am really digging my hybrid Piquet/Battlefront.  It keeps the suspense high and seamlessly includes morale as part of movement.  My next battle with these guys will be the defense of Caretan.