"War is a drama, not a game of chess."
Gen Eisenhower

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Well, time to see who will replace Lt. Ingram who was badly wounded during his first mission. A few rolls of the dice later...

Lt. Gary Caulfield is a Conformist motivated by Wealth. So he's a yes-sayer who doesn't stick his chin out. His temperament in combat is even (neither takes unnecessary risks nor is overly cautious) and he comes from a normal background. Unfortunately I roll low for his skill and he turns out as only a grade 1 leader. I draw the conclusion that he hasn't lead a platoon of his own before, either earning his stripes behind a desk or coasting along on another officer's merits. In any way it is not good for the platoon.

I then rolled to see if anyone from Jenkins' squad will step up while he's away. Hooray, yes indeed! Private 1st class Jeff Dimitriou shoulder's the responsibility. Since Jenkins is grade 2 Dimitriou automatically becomes grade 1, but it's better than nothing as otherwise the platoon sergeant would have had to take charge. (This roll was not a function of PF, but of the rules I play, the WW2 variant of M&B, which specifies the chance of "battle-field promotion"). His personality is Cheap and his motivation is Position just like Jenkins, which I figure is the reason he's stepping up to command the squad. In combat though he's cautious -- a bit understandable after what happened to Ingram and Jenkins!

Finally I roll for the next scenario: Patrol it is. I have to move through all nine parts of the board and if I encounter any opposition I have to drive them off, preferably without too many casualties. Unfortunately there is no support available. I also roll for a pre-combat event and gets Gung-Ho! One squad get a bonus in close combat, and I chose Jenkins old squad now led by Dimitriou. I reckon they want to give the hun a bloody nose as revenge!

So the composition of my little patrol is:

  • 2nd Lieutenant Caulfield (grade I).
  • Staff sergeant Sipowitz (grade III).
  • 1:st squad, six men led by Private 1st class Dimitriou (grade I).
  • 2:nd squad, eight men led by Corporal Dever (grade I).

I need to get some more figures based up and do some terrain building before I play the mission. Stay tuned, folks!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Light Company's Triumph

Major Minor proceeded the Light Company as they marched back to Division HQ. He carried a rather smug smile on his face - very unlike his normal dour expression. Captain Beesley and the major proceeded to located the Colonel. Snapping to a smart attention they reported in.

Sensing the happiness of the two officers in front of him, the Colonel asks, "Well Minor, you seem rather pleased with yourself. Rather like the cat that ate the canary so to speak. What brings you such joy today?"

"Yes Sah! I accompanied the captain in a reconnaissance of Sonolenta Aldeia. We were landed ashore by the navy and proceeded to some woods near the town. Our command was joined by a naval gun crew that set up a gun pit for their 6 pounder to be able to fire on the town. Spotting several French patrols we prepared to leave and report back our findings." The near monotone of the glum major nearly puts the captain to sleep as he tells their tale. Beesley stifles a yawn as the major drones on.

"The day we decided to pull out, we set our sites on liberating a local ox cart to pull the Navy's gun and bring it out with us. The French beat us to the town. A full company of Legere arrives in skirmish order and occupied the town."

"The navy immediately put the French under fire and we advanced the infantry forward to the tree line. While we were engaging the French, we spotted movement to our left. This turned out to be Lieutenant Houseman of the Navy coming to retrieve us and their gun. The lieutenant placed his marines to the fore who began down the road in column."

"While we welcomed the navy's assistance, they were hardly necessary for the small scrap I dare say."

Captain Beesley coughs as he hears the Major downplay the navy's role. Without their arrival, the French would have undoubtedly concentrated all of their forces against you instead of dividing their forces as they did to engage them as well, things could have been a bit sticky.

"The French advanced in skirmish order across a curved front. They sent troops into the fields to our right and others towards the vineyards to the front as well as advancing a third portion down the road and the final portion towards our positions. I had Captain Beesley advance his men to the treeline and given them a good volley. We dedicated Sergeant Smallwood to supervise the gun.

Captain Beesley charged forward to engage the enemy with steel following their volley. Their charge was beaten off but the casualties were very light.
" While the words were not condemning, the tone implied that the Captain should have done more to ensure success.

Beesley almost let his anger show on his face. His men performed admirably in their charge. They only lost a single man. The French would later collapse and run while his men fell back in good order and continued the fight.

The major continued, "Drawing Lieutenant Harthwaite's platoon in line we also charged the enemy. The boys on the right of the line became tangled in the hedges. They were to exchange fire with the French stuck in the fields. Most of the line reached the enemy and drove them from the field. We captured three French officers and a sergeant. The French left several of their dead behind on the field. The action was a resounding success. We held the field. Met with the Navy and secured transport for their gun. The Marines suffered a single man lost while the Light Company lost but a few men."

Beesley nodded as now the Major's recollections were more closely matching his own. The Colonel nods and smiles, "Well done men. I see I can expect great things for the Light Company in the future. I have no doubt that we can find gainful employment for you and your men."

Even with Sergeant Smallwood's excellent supervision of the gun, he still does not have the confidence that you expect him to have (did not get promoted a level).

You are pleasantly surprised to find that all four of your men who you had sent out to request help are waiting for you and eager to be back with their friends in the company. Furthermore, you are able to replace all of your losses with well trained men. Your quality will not suffer from the few losses that you have taken.

As you and the Major begin to leave the Colonel's tent, the Colonel beacons you back for a moment. The major frowns as he is left out of this confidence. Once the tent flap closes behind the glum major, the Colonel gives you a smile. "Your episode will be communicated to the division in rather glowing terms. You have done the regiment proud sir. I feel your are an officer to be watched. A man such as you is just what I need at the moment. I will need your men to retrieve something for me."

What began as a moment of pride in yourself and your command turns to a sick dread. It sounds like the Colonel wants you to do something dangerous.

"An officer of engineers was performing a similar task to the one you just preformed. He, however, has been cut off. The Frogs have cut him off from friendly lines. I will need your company to fetch him back home. Do you think can manage this for me, sir?"

Stay tuned for the next installment of Captain Beesley and the light company.

Thanks to Mark Luther for bringing a camera to the game. All the pictures are his. Great fun. Mark played the light company while I umpired and played a late arriving French Cavalry unit. Dan Fox played the French infantry (new player to Sharp Practice) and Jim and Cody played the Naval landing party. It was great fun for me at least. I hope the other players enjoyed it as well.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Meet the Company

The East Southhamstershires Light Company with its full compliment of big men and characters are pictured below. The additional sergeants (not big men) are pictured as well. I still need a pioneer to add to the company as well. I have the four remaining troopers on painting sticks and they should be ready for duty shortly.

The troops will be seeing their first outing tomorrow.

Monday, March 21, 2011


"I have a problem, Lieutenant!" Captain Middlebrock said, "We have taken the beach and the nearby villages, but we must drive further inland before the hun has time to gather his defences. There's a bunker covering some fields I want you to check out. The navy boys claim they have knocked it out with them big guns of theirs, but I'm not so sure. This goddamn country is too flat and open for my taste, so it can seriously hamper us if it's still occupied. The question is wether Fritz has run away or is still hunkering down inside it!"

"Don't look so alarmed, I'll lend you a .50 as cover. And you don't have to knock it out, just check if there are any germans in or around it. I suggest you go tonight, questions? Good, dismissed!"

My first mission turned out to be Point Reconaissance. I rolled on the relevant tables and got a bunker, yay! Each mission has information about what your objectives are, any opposition and so on. There are also tables for laying out your board if you don't want to decide yourself (perfect for lazy unimaginitive games like me). Unfortunately for Lt. Ingram I managed to roll three completely empty fields on the side his little force would enter the board. I added some hedges to the fields to break them up somewhat and a road between the buildings seemed logical. I also turned a light woods into an orchard as it fitted better in the area.
The board as decided by the dice. Note the bunker in the middle of the board, covering the road and fields, and the entry point of forces.

Platoon Forward specifies how strong the enemy forces are through a number of blinds. Each blind can either contain troops or be empty, so you don't really know where the enemy will be. Objectives tend to have troops though :-) In this case there were nine blinds: four type A (infantry), three type B (support) and two type C (vehicles). When spotted or when they wish to fire you roll on a table and see wath, if anything is there. For this scenario specified an A blind in a shell crater in the field in front of the bunker and an A blind on the hill directly behind the bunker. I then placed a B blind inside the bunker and a pair of A+B blinds in each of the built up areas on the sides. The C blinds were placed in the orchard and behind the bridge respectively. The objective is to spot at least half the blinds (so five) preferrably including the bunker. 

Lt. Ingram only took one squad accompanying him, led by Cpl Jenkins. As it was a recon mission he didn't want to get into a firefight anyway. The .50 was a random addition and I decided to let it cover the bunker hoping it would be able to supress it a little bit if needed. The squad would advance on the other side of the hedge, hopefully without being detected. (Apologies for the unpainted lead...)

The game begins with the squad sitting tight while Lt. Ingram tries to spot the buildings on the left side. No luck, so he decides to advance carefully along the hedge. But disaster strikes, one of them trips in the dark and goes down wildly cursing! The german listening post in the field realises something is afoot and starts to run towards the german lines. Alarm! Alarm! Der Feind kommt(I rolled box cars for their spot.)

Deciding that the game is up anyway the Browning team opens up and cuts down two of the fleeing germans. Hopefully they will draw attention away from the squad.
Move! Move! Move! Hit the dirt! Cpl. Jenkins urges the squad forward and they all hug the ground at the end of the hedge. Nervously Ingram pops the lens caps off his field glasses and manages to deduce that the nearest house is empty. Two blinds spotted, three to go. Maybe there aren't so many germans here after all?
(Note that I'm using german markers and dice, I didn't have a US set...)
The german card comes up. The B-blinds at the intersection and the bunker are both within medium range and they have LoS to the US squad. The bunker has a worse field of fire since there are lots of hedge in the way, but they will try to fire anyway. To my horror both blinds turn out to be Medium Machine guns. The bunker had a 50% chanse of being real while the one at the intersection only had 20% chance. Before resolving the fire I move up the C blinds and one of the remaining A blinds to better positions. Note the card on the bridge which is one of the C blinds. (I do try to play both sides to the best of my ability.)

Two americans go down, caught in the murderous crossfire. I also recieve a shock point (the round marker). Since it was dark and the squad had gone to ground earlier they came off relatively unscathed. Unfortunetaly Lt. Ingram was one of the hit! Rolling for damage he was Badly Wounded and out of the game. His men would have to carry him off the board -- unliked leaders get left where they lie though.
Next, Jenkins card comes up and I have a choice. Retreat, mission unaccomplished, or try to carry on. Since the MG's had revealed themselves I only had to spot one more blind. And Jenkins is Reckless and motivated by Position so it would be in character to try and continue. Furthermore, retreating backwards would not take the squad out of fire from one of the MG's, but advancing behind the ruined building would shield them from both MG's. From there the squad could try to flank the MG and spot the C blind on the bridge. It would be a bit risky since if the blind turns out to be anything heavier than a halftrack I have nothing but guts to throw at it, literally! But then again, Jenkins is reckless. So the US squad leaps up and tries to sprint across the field, dragging Lt. Ingram with them.

Again the dice gods laugh at me. I didn't roll high enough to get across the field. The squad is out of range of the bunker (because it's night) but recieves more shock from the other MG. Luckily no hits, this time. The "Heroic Leader" card comes up, and I decide that Jenkins will try to lob a grenade at the MG. The card is a double edged sword which lets you try something ridiculously dangerous and heroic, but if you fail you have to pay the price. I give Jenkins a whopping 70% to succeed (because I'm biased, so there), having to roll four or more on a D10.

...naturally I roll a one!!! Jenkins leaps down into a crater, frantically unpins a grenade and leaps up again, just to be struck by a burst. Jenkins collapses back again and the grenade explodes harmlessly on the road. Turns out he is only lightly wounded, but it's still enough for the wind to go out of the american GI:s. They manage to get in behind the building and out of the fire, and then slink back to the US lines.

After the game I rolled for replacements and random events. Turns out that I won't be getting any replacements this time, except for a new Lieutenant. Ingram will be travelling back to england on a medical ship, who knows when he will be back? To add insult to injury Jenkins will be away resting for the next three scenarios. Punishment Jenkins calls it, but it's the captain's orders. I dice to see if anyone in Jenkins' squad steps up to replace him; and it turns out that indeed, someone does. So next time I will generate another Lieutenant to replace Ingram and Jenkins' squad won't be leaderless, just two men short.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Honorable Sir Horace Beesley of the East Southhamstershires

Well, Laffee beat me to the first post.

I am moving to adapt this to Sharp Practice. The story will revolve around Sir Horace Beesley's Light Company from the East Southhamstershires during the Peninsular campaign. I have a near full company of British troops painted so far. I am 4 short of having even platoons. That should be corrected shortly.

Our Cast:
The Light Company staff and personalities are as follows:
Captain Sir Horace Beesley - Company Commander
Lieutenant Judah P Benjamin - 1st Lieutenant/Company Exec (Commanding right platoon)
Lieutenant Reginald Harthwaite - 2nd Lieutenant (commanding left platoon)
Ensign William "Little Billy" Smythe - Apprentice officer (not a big man...yet)
Sergeant Jebadiah Smallwood - Senior Sergeant of the Company
Sergeant Mordecai Langtree - Another Sergeant within the company.
Pioneer James McCaffrey - One of the 11 pioneers within the regiment. He is assigned to the light company.
Corporal Andrew Punishmont - A utility character who will be used as needed for the purposes of story craft. Not a big man.
Private James W Boothe - A chosen Man (the best shot in the company)

The corporals have been left out deliberately as non-big men. The ensign and Pioneer have been included for color in our story if nothing else. Chosen man Boothe is added as he will be called upon during the course of actual games.

Our Heroes:
Captain Beesley - Our good captain inherited his knighthood. Coming from a life of privilege and is manor born, his parents bought his commission in this semi-reputable/slightly fashionable regiment. He is a generous man but is seeking to improve his position. His desire is to command a regiment of his own but he knows he needs to prove himself on the field first. He is a man of even temperament which relieves most of his men. All in all our captain is a Jolly Good Chap. The Captain is an average stamp in size and is no looker. He is no swordsman but a mere hack slasher. He is an occasional horseman. All in all he is an honorable man and somewhat of a linguist.

Lieutenant Benjamin - Lt Benjamin is a pragmatic man. He is extremely pious and observant in his faith. As such he is completely of the belief that the changes brought about by the French Revolution and now Napoleon are the work of haSatan and must be stopped. While normally he would view the military as a gentile trade, he has dedicated himself to eliminate this threat to his people. Armed with his zeal, he is a bold officer that wishes to press the attack to the enemy. He is from a family that has new money. He has no lands nor titles but his family is well off enough to have purchased his commission. While no giant, he is a strapping fellow who is fair of face. He is universally loved by his men even though his faith is not theirs. He is a fair hand with a sword and an occasional horseman. In spite of his religious beliefs, he is a bit of a cad and a ladies man.

Lieutenant Harthwaite - The Lieutenant is a complete conformist. He is a family man who completely dotes on his wife back home in London. He lives for the mail and word from his love. He slightly bores the others in the officers mess with the stories of his children back home. His dedication to his home life have left him a cautious officer who is not likely to risk himself nor his men. He is a Young Buck and a man of average means. He is a strapping fellow and rather plain of face. He is universally loved by his men who would do anything for him. He is neither a swordsman nor a horseman. He does however have a fondness for goose and has developed a good deal of skill with a fowling piece that has enriched the officers mess. The man is completely honorable and a bit of a countryman.

Ensign Smythe - The youngest of the officers in the company, Master Smythe is a very young man whose family has shipped him off to the Army at the first possible moment. He is a cheery lad with a dark side to him. His favorite uncle was killed by the mob during the fall of the port of Toulon in 1793. As such he wants to punish the French. He is of even temperament. He is a Young Buck but is not yet perceived as having any real authority within the company. He is politely tolerated by the men as a gentleman in training. He is of average size for a boy his age.

Sergeant Smallwood - Sergeant Smallwood is a veteran campaigner. He is a likeable man with a strong interest in the arts. His travels throughout the Empire have given him a deep appreciation for the music and art of the lands he has visited. This interest in the arts has no way tempered his battle lust. The man is reckless in battle. Always desiring to come to grips with the enemy. He is a fine fellah and a giant of a man. He is fair of face and popular with the men and more importantly to him, with the ladies. He was gutter born and early on found a home in the army. He has yet to find a horse he likes and at home with either a musket or sergeant's pike. He disdains the sword as a foppish weapon best left to the nobles. Even with his gutter upbringing, he is a chivalrous man and a charismatic leader. He is a bit lecherous but his sense of chivalry keeps himself in check even though he has been known to fall off the wagon from time to time.

Sergeant Langtree - The sergeant is a bad apple. He is unsupportive to the point that he seeks only to increase his personal wealth. He is prone to loot ... well anything. He is a complete barracks lawyer and only has rank as it allows him to get away with more. In battle he is bold. Mostly because he has seen that it is easier to enrich himself on dead Frenchies than by running away from them. The man is an average stamp and has a face like a pig's backside. He is disliked by his men but is not above bribing them for help if things get that desperate. He is a complete bounder and gripped by Avarice.

Supporting Cast:
Colonel Edward Moore - The commander of the East Southhamstershires. He is a stern man with a cunning mind. He is a fervent supporter of the government and a Bold Military commander.

Lieutenant Colonel Mann - Is the right hand of Colonel Moore. He is an active officer with sensible view to towards the running of the regiment. The man is fascinated by engineering and is constantly looking to expand his knowledge.

Major Mathew Antonious Minor - The Major is glum individual. He is rather fond of the bottle but has an even temperament in battle. He is from a wealthy family and has lived a privileged life. He is one of two majors in your regiment.

Our Story Begins:
The spring of 1809 has the East Southhamstershires attempting to block the onrush of Marshal Soult's invasion of Portugal. Captain Beesley is called into the colonel's tent for a briefing. Following the normal pleasantries, all awfully brief from the stern Colonel Moore, his beefy finger jabs at a map. "THERE! Captain, I need your men there."

Captain Beesley stares at the map and notices a small town labeled Sonolenta Aldeia. Your growing knowledge of Portuguese registers that the name of the town is sleepy village. Sounds like a lively place.

The Colonel continues. "I will send you with three of the center companies up this track here. You will be at the fore and will observe the French movements. At your discretion, you may engage the enemy but your primary task is to watch their movements and report back if you notice anything out of the ordinary. The center companies will be deployed at these bridges along the way to secure your path of retreat. In addition, you may receive supply from the Royal Navy. Captain Tobias Mayhew of HMS Gout will be landing a small force to support you as well. Any questions Captain?"

The question was the Colonel's means of saying you are dismissed. As you leave the colonel's tent, the Major follows you out. He rests a hand on your shoulder and informs you in his dour voice, "I will be accompanying you Sir Beesley. We shall see what the Froggies are up to eh?" Even the man's attempt at a jest seems funereal rather than jovial.


Two weeks later, you have been in position for over a week. The small force that was provided by the HMS Gout turned out to be a single 6-pounder naval gun and a gun crew. Their industry extended to building a fortified position for the gun allowing you to fire on either the town or down the road. Your supplies are running short but you have kept your men from being spotted by the few villagers from the sleepy village. Yesterday, things became exciting. A company of Legere with their blue pants moved into town. You have also spotted some cavalry elements riding through the countryside. The major announced that you will march this evening back to rejoin the regiment. The navy men want to know how to move their gun. You have spotted a wagon and mules in the town. You may have to attempt to secure this to bring out the gun. You hope the enemy will be obliging and allow you to do just that.

This will be the first scenario for this unit. Stay tuned and see how the gallant captain fairs.
Our Story Continues:
Meet the Company

Big Red One

So okay, I got Platoon Forward and have been reading it thoroughly several times now. I am intending to use it with "Chain of Command", the WW2 version of TooFatLardies "Through the Mud and the Blood". The game is still in it's playtest stages but this will be an excellent method of generating games for testing the rules.

I was procrastinating a bit before I decided I would play a US platoon from the 1st Infantry Division in Normandy. They were called the Big Red One, and landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day, taking some 30% casualties. To reflect that, and because I don't have many US figures (yet!) the platoon will start with only two squads. Any support weapons heavier than a BAR they will have to get from the company or batallion assets which means they will be rolled for on the appropriate tables in Platoon Forward.

  • The platoon is led by 2nd lieutenant Charles Ingram. He is liberal and motivated by wealth, from a privileged background. He turned out to be a grade III leader (on a scale of one to four). He is basically a good guy who wants to do his duty, but his family's connections got him into West Point and he is destined for a career as a lawyer after the war.
  • Second in command is staff sergeant Andy Sipowitz. He is corrupt but has the motivation government, which means he believes in the system but thinks it's ok to earn an extra buck here and there. He too is a grade III leader and is reckless in combat. So he's a good leader but takes risks. I decide his parents immigrated from Poland at the beginning of the century but he is born and raised in Ney York with little feelings for his old country.
  • Corporal Richard Jenkins is leading 1st squad. He is idealistic and motivated by position. He is grade II and reckless as well.. I'm starting to see why the platoon has suffered a lot of casualties, maybe he and sergeant Sipowitz are trying to outshine eachother?
  • Corporal James D. Dever heads up second squad. He is haughty and motivated by religion. Only a grade I leader but bold (the Lord is his shepherd after all). He is the only leader in the platoon who recieved a negative trait which will affect his interactions with other people. I decide he's from the bible belt and has -- according to himself -- high standards and morale. He'd rather preach about his men's faults than listen to their needs and looks down upon those who cannot live up to his standards. He is not particularly liked by his men.
  • Finally I rolled up the company commander since he's the person the platoon has to deal with. Captain Keith Middlebrock is generous and hedonist, which is quite an odd combination. He is also from a privileged background so I decide he's quite an adventurer and mercenary who has seen a lot of action around the world before the war and totally lives for the moment.
So, our actors are ready, and the scene is set. Our saga will begin on june the 8th, 1944.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Welcome to YOUR Blog!

Have you heard! People are finally going to hear
about our stories!
Welcome to your blog. Have a great after action report? A great story or a heartbreaking battle? Tell us about it by posting it here. I will moderate the site but it is meant for me (and the collective US) to hear your stories using Platoon Forward.
Ground Rules:
Posts must have something (even vaguely) to do with Platoon Forward. Does not have to be WW II. Can be anything (variants) you guys have come up with as I know there is at least one variant for Sci fi out there.
Be kind and courteous in all discourse.
To post please e-mail me at the_legans4@msn.com and I will add you to the list of people that can post.
Thanks and enjoy!