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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Greetings from the 537th Rifle Regiment!

Or, to be more accurate, the 1-Й РОТА, 1-Й БАТАЛЬОН, 537-Й СТРЕЛКОВЫХ ПОЛК. For my Platoon Forward campaign, I have decided to run an early war Red Army rifle company. Using a Red Army unit poses a rather unique set of challenges, both tactically and in the Platoon Forward context.

The biggest challenge is a lack of Big Men to get things done. Under the IABSM rules, a Soviet rifle company in 1941 only has 2 Big Men, plus a commissar. To make things worse, neither of the Big Men is the company commander. So, the company commander becomes an NPC in PF terms, and the player becomes a platoon commander similar to unmodified PF. Of course, in this case you are not in overall command. Given the dearth of leaders, Red Army officers have to be a lot more aggressive in leading assaults (and taking risks) than their western counterparts. From a storytelling point of view, there is a good thing about having so few Big Men: Fewer characters to keep track of. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 537th’s dramatis personae.

Company Commander: Captain Karpov is the company CO, and will be considered an NPC until/unless one of the Lieutenants is KIA. He is an Aggressive personality, whose motivation is revenge. He is a level II commander (DAv) who has a Bold temperament and a Military background. From this, I take it that he is a long-term officer who wants results (the Aggressive personality) and will take defeats or slights VERY personally thanks to the Revenge motivation. He is a competent enough officer (Level II), and his father was probably an officer in the Revolution, given his military background. His background also means that he probably does not care too much for all these amateurs that have flooded his beloved RKKA.

Commissar: Politruk Vlasov is a very different man from the CO. He is a Generous personality, and his motivation is wealth. He is a level I commander (D4-2) with a Reckless temperament, and his background is that of a ranker. His generous personality makes him more popular with the men than Captain Karpov is, and his ranker background contributes to that popularity. The relationship between a company commander and his political officer would be strained at best, and Vlasov’s ranker background does not make this any easier. Vlasov’s ability and temperament means that he is not as good a military leader as he thinks he is, even if the men do like him. He is not above finding ways to line his pockets with some extra rubles if the way is legal, and so is probably not a particularly zealous Commissar.

Big Man 1: Senior Lieutenant Bartov is an Optimist whose motivation is government. He is another level I commander (D4-2) with a Reckless temperament who comes from a privileged background. Clearly, he is a happy-go-lucky type who believes that things are always getting better thanks to the Communist Party and Comrade Stalin. Sometimes, it seems that he should be the Commissar and not Vlasov. Perhaps part of the reason he is such an optimist is because his privileged background (family connections, maybe?) got him where he is today. Whatever got him his rank it clearly is not his military ability.

Big Man 2: Junior Lieutenant Lobachevsky is the newest officer in the company. He is a Conformist whose motivation is religion. He is also a level I commander (D4-2), but with an even temperament he is under no illusions about his lack of ability and his average background gives him none of the advantages or disadvantages that the other characters have. Overall, Jr. Lt. Lobachevsky is a bit of an enigma. He has learned not to stick his neck out for anything, perhaps because he lost some friends in the purges? Or maybe it is because of the religious background his parents imparted to him. No matter what, this religious bent is a side of his personality that he will NOT let show in his present assignment. Due to his conformist nature, he will do whatever it takes to carry out his orders, just so he doesn’t have to face the wrath of Captain Karpov.

I am already two games into my current campaign, but did not take any pictures. I will sum them up in another post.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gung Ho!

"Listen up Lieutenant!" Captain Middlebrock was irritated. "I'm not really sure what you 90-day wonders know, but you have your stripes and it's time to prove you deserve them! I don't care if you got off the boat yesterday, the rest of us got off our boat the day before that, and the germans didn't give us any time to catch our breath. I have a leaderless platoon and a section of french land I need patrolled! You can do it, they are good men and they long to get some revenge for Lt. Ingram. Oh, yes, he's your predecessor.Unfortunately I can't give you any transport, the last patrol got their halftrack strafed by our own flyboys, and I can't afford to lose any more vehicles. Now get to it!"

The table and entry points.
My second mission in Platoon Forward was Patrol. The mission, naturally, is about patrolling an area, which basically is all of the board. Somewhere along the way you will encounter the enemy.
I rolled up the board and got the outskirts of a village, a small stream, a big area of light woods and a smaller area of heavy woods. I also got an empty area so I put a stone wall in their to create a field. I placed a burning M3 on the road through the village for some flavour.

I planned to advance through the heavy woods, skirt around the field and then sneak along the river. I would try to sneak at the edge of the village and then through the light woods back to my own lines. Hopefully I would avoid detection and get the drop on any enemy troops I encountered. I decided to use both squads so one could support the other if they ran into a problem.

1st squad on the left, Lt. Caulfield and Sgt. Sipowitz  in the middle. 2nd squad on the right lack in camoflague skills!
So my forces are as follows: 2nd Lieutenant Caulfield, grade 1.
Staff sergeant Sipowitz, grade 3, reckless.
1:a grupp, sex man ledda av Private 1st class Dimitriou, grade 1.
2:a grupp, åtta man ledda av Corporal Dever, grade 1, brave.

I got the pre-game event Gung-ho! which means one squad got a bonus in close combat and decided that 1st squad is out for revenge. Since they have lost two men I attached Sgt Sipowitz to them, while Lt. Caulfield went with Dever and 2nd squad.

This time I had some new, american, patriotic dice!