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 2, 2024

A Preview of Boom and Zoom

Still busy with family issues but have played one game of Boom and Zoom and 1 game of WW III US defending a bridge.  I had told several people on TMP that I would post something about Boom and Zoom since the rules are finished.  I haven't been able to start shopping them around with all that is going on right now.  I want to be calm and collected and enjoy the process.  I thought I could at least post about the concepts of the game and why I think it is different from everything out there.  I was going to post a AAR but I think instead, I will use the pictures to illustrate the concepts.  Obvioulsly I have a biased opinion but the playtesters all enjoy it.  I really have to get back to Richmond and have another game at Waterloo.  

From the introduction to the rules:


The purpose of fighter aircraft is the destruction of enemy aircraft.   US navy fighter manual

I.                    Introduction

 Welcome to Boom and Zoom (B&Z), a set of rules designed to provide a quick moving game pitting hostile elements of aircraft against each other, though it could easily be called “The Thinking Man’s Guide to Aerial Combat,” as you’ll need to develop a strategy that plays to the strengths of your pilots and aircraft and, in the advanced game, attributes based on the doctrine and tactics of the countries represented.  Game play revolves around each player attempting to execute their strategy, seeking to gain the initiative and dictate the flow of the battle to their opponent by skillfully taking advantage of key moments of opportunity and risk!  The game is quick moving because, though the decisions are all yours, the actual execution of those decisions are somewhat abstracted.  


So that is what the game is about.  How do we do it?   To me there are three important things that set people up for success in air combat, the planes, the men, and their tactics.  Most games I have played focus on the planes, almost all give some attention to the men but few really make tactics important. 

I wanted a game that did all three but could be played in a hour. 

The planes are represented by cards or stat lines.  You see all the usual stuff here.  Planes are rated for performance and agility at four altitudes. But these differences are not always game changers.  Below 15K ft both sides will know that the ME 109E has the edge in turning while the Tomahawk just edges it out in performance.  Above 15K ft though the Allison engine has trouble keeping up.  

[ You can always argue stats; that is half the fun.  Change any stats you want.  I won't lose any sleep. : )]

Don't let the hexes fool you.  Boom and Zoom is played on a grid.   Here a Vic of Tomahawks have been strafing german positions while they have left a 2 ship to fly top cover.  The 2 ship, led by newly minted ace Flying Sgt Skinner has just spotted a schwarm of ME 109s coming to ruin the party.  The Tomahawks want to keep the battle low and avoid turning fights.  


The men are critical.  Initiative is a huge part of success in combat.  For solo games I use this chart to track initiative.  No surprise here, Skinner's 2 ship is going first!

Tactics: When planes are in the same square they can attempt to initiate combat.  There are definite advantages to fighting in formations.  Here a german 2 ship tackles a 3 ship Tomahawk Vic. A Vic is far less efficient that a 2 ship element but it is better than being by yourself!  


There are two types of attacks in Boom and Zoom, high speed and maneuvers.  There are advantages to both and unique opportunities may present themselves via die rolls where a less nimble aircraft should try a maneuver.  This maneuvering is abstracted to speed play and keep players focused on decision making and results.  Here the Tomahawks have thwarted the German attempts at maneuver and have succeeded in making a high speed attack on the German leaders tail.  As it is a high speed attack the opportunity is only fleeting.  

At the end of each turn you roll to see if you keep formations.  One of the big problems with the British Vic is it is very hard to maintain.  Here the Veteran British wingman manages to hang on while the green tomahawk has broken away.  More ominous for the German, his green wingman has also failed to keep up.  A lone German, of average skill, flying a plane not particularly superior to his opponent's who are veterans better get help fast or climb above 15K feet where he has the advantage. 

The vertical is very important in aerial combat.  The ME-109 can outclimb the Tomahawk.  The german pilot does right thing and climbs.  However, is it positioning, skill, gusts of wind who knows; he isn't able to shake the veteran Tomahawks.  His separated wingman comes in to help but he is blocked by the veteran British wingman.  


While the Tomahawk can't climb well it can dive.  Sgt Skinner executes a Boom and Zoom attack on the lone german wingman...

Things have gone from bad to worse for the two German pilots.  The wingman survived Skinner's attack but is now leaking fuel badly and must leave the battle.  Though the British Vic has collapsed, a Tomahawk has maneuvered on the German leader's tail and his plane is now severely damaged.  Since the Tomahawk used maneuvers rather than high speed attacks he has an advantage over the German which we call "the edge".  If someone has the edge on you you are not happy.  You can only try to break "the edge".

 One of the ways you can break the edge is to call for help if you have a two way radio.  Here the other German element executes a boom and zoom attack on the offending tomahawk.  It is successful and the edge is broken.  Teamwork!


I hope you have enjoyed this introduction to Boom and Zoom. This game, including taking pictures and notes, took me 67 minutes.  Obviously a lot more here and the devil is in the details but hopefully this gives you the philosophy behind the game.  Hopefully I will get the time to shop it around soon. 





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