A first try-out for the Platoon Forward solo scenario generator from Too Fat Lardies (photos to follow). I was the British attacker, with the jump-off point being on a ridge. From left-to-right the board set-up was a building complex, a large central hill (the main objective) and the flank of a larger hill. I used a full platoon (3 squads and a HQ squad) and rolled for support, getting a Churchill tank, a PIAT and an HMG. British deployment was 1st squad and HQ squad opposite the building, HMG and 2nd squad on ridge opposite the main objective hill, and 3rd squad , PIAT and tank on the right against the flank of the hill on the edge of the board. I decided to deploy all the German blinds on the board, which was probably a mistake.
The way the system works is that there are 3 tables where the enemy forces can come from, and the blinds have the letters A, B & C on them, the letter determining which table to roll a D10 on.
- Table A contains infantry squads, HQ squads, LMG and AT squads, with a 1 in 10 chance of rolling on a different table and a 1-4 being a dummy.
- Table B contains a heavier support mix (HMGs, AT guns etc), though a plain infantry squad can be rolled.
- Table C contains Platoon HQ, halftrack, armoured car, SP gun and tank options.
- All tables allow for the blind to be a dummy, but weigh against this if the previous blind was a dummy, and for this if the previous blind was a real unit. I decided that I would take a lower result if a unit of which I only had one model of (or that it would be unlikely for there to be 2 present in a platoon level game).
- There is also a weighting away from a dummy if the unit is on the main objective, so it’s unlikely the objective would be totally undefended.
So, with my British forces picked, the Germans get 5 type A blinds (my 4 squads + 1), 3 type B blinds (my HMG & PIAT + 2) and 2 type C blinds (my Tank +1). I put 3 A & 1 B in the building on the right, 1 A, 1 B & 1 C on and around the objective hill in the centre, and 1 A, 1 B & 1 C on the flanking hill.
Disposable Heroes works by each side activating a section (most squads have 2 sections) at a time. There is a roll for initiative as the beginning of each turn, but the British as attackers went first on the first turn. British squads are split into a manoeuvre element of 7 men and a fire element based around the bren of 3 men. I decided up-front that I would only test for 1 blind for each British activation. The first to move was the rifle section of the 1st squad on the left flank, hoping to spot what was in the building. They failed, but I tested one on the A blinds in the building, as the riflemen were plainly visible – predictably, it was a dummy. The 1st squad’s bren section moved, again hoping to spot something in the building, but failed. I chose to test for the other A blind, and rolled a 9 + 1 for previous having been a dummy. A result of 10 gives a platoon leader and squad, so down went the HQ squad, with a LMG and a couple of SMGs – the resulting fire took down 2 British, but they passed their “guts” check, helped by the fact that their platoon leader was within his command distance of 9″ (“guts check” is Disposable Heroes’ name for a morale test – roll under your section leadership(or platoon leadership if in range), modified by the number of casualties you have taken and the cover you are in).
I then activated the HMG on the ridge, firing it against the German HQ squad hiding behind the garden wall of the building. It had no effect, the cover doing its job, but the Germans failed their guts check so were pinned. Disposable Heroes puts a red cube on a unit for failing its guts check, and they have to rally this off when they are next activated before they can perform any action, though if the rally is successful, they can act as normal.
I decide as the Germans that they have to do something about that HMG on the ridge, so I roll for the B dummy on the roof of the building. I roll another 9, but it is -1 for the previous A roll turning up a unit – 8 is a HMG, so not the worst roll, though a 9 would have been an AT gun, useful against the Churchill, but not so much against the HMG. Anyway, the German HMG has a rate of fire of 8 (that means it rolls 8 D10 – compare that with a bren which rolls 3) and with the HMG dug in on the ridge, needed 3 or less to hit. It scored 3 hits – after a hit is established, a roll for a kill is made, but the German HMG only needs to roll less that or equal to 8 to register a kill – needless to say, the British HMG crew of 3 was wiped out!
The British responded by sending the rifle section of the 2nd squad forward towards the objective hill – they failed to spot anything on the hill, but I decided to reveal a B blind. The roll was amended by +3 as this was the objective, and would have been a MMG, except I decided that the HMG already on the table was sufficient for a platoon (and I only have one MMG/HMG model) – next row down on the table was a mortar, so I depoyed that behind the hill. As the British squad approaching the hill were within the mortar’s minimum range, they fired at the 3rd British squad beside the Churchill, but missed.
The bren section from number 2 squad tried to spot the A blind on the hill, and finally someone succeeded. A roll on the A table amended by +3 for objective and -1 for last A blind turning up the German HQ in the garden of the building resulted in an 8 – an infantry squad plonked on to the objective hill. The bren engaged them, but though it caused them no casualties, they failed their guts check and were pinned, thus losing their activation (luckily for the British rifle section running straight up the hill towards them).
Squad 3’s rifle section move towards the right hand flank hill, and spot an A blind on the hill which proved to be a dummy, after -1 for the last A blind being a real unit. The rifle section, with nothing to fire on to their front, fired on the pinned German squad on the main hill. They get 3 shots as they have moved needing 3 or less to hit – not much chance, but they roll 2 hits and 2 wounds, so 2 dead Germans, although the guts check is passed.
As the Germans now are being attacked on the flank, I decide it’s time to activate the C blind just behing the ridge. I roll a 9 which on the C table is a tank – a Stug III pokes over the ridge and takes aim at the Churchill. In Disposable Heroes (DH from now on), tanks have to acquire their target before they can fire at it. The Stug needs less than or equal to 8 to acquire, as the Churchill is a large target, and succeeds by rolling a 2 (if the Churchill had have been within 12″, it would have been auto-acquired). It then fires and rolls a 6 – a miss, as less than or equal to 5 is required.
The Churchill quite naturally reacts by firing back, but cannot acquire the Stug even using its co-ax MG to better the odds, so holds its fire. The Germans respond by rolling for the B blind on the flank hill – a 5 – 1 for the last A being a dummy gives an infantry squad (with a panzerfaust!). They activate, miss the Churchill with the Panzerfaust but wipe out the 3rd squad’s unactivated bren section with their LMG. The British respond by advancing the PIAT towards the Stug, but their shot goes wide.
The British only have their HQ squad to activate, and they advance towards the pinned German HQ squad behind the wall. They fire at them, but due to cover only score 1 hit. If the German’s had have failed their guts check, then they would have had 2 red cubes against them, which in DH terms would have meant they had to fall back away from the cover of the wall into the building. With the British throwing a lot of troops at the building, I decided to check for the last A blind – it turned out to be another squad, and as I only had enough models for a half-squad, I put a half-squad on the roof and fired with them, but with no effect.
Turn 2’s initiative roll went to the Germans, each side having -2 to their roll – the British for having 2 dead sections and the Germans for having 2 pinned squads. The German’s activate their HQ – one ability of a platoon leader is that once per turn he can remove a pinned marker without a roll – an auto-rally in effect. They fire LMG, SMGs and rifles at 1st squads bren section, but only succeed in killing 2, and the bren gunner left alive passes his guts check by rolling a 1 – always a pass. The bren returns fire to the German HQ squad, and kills 2, but they pass their guts check with the aid of their cover modifier.
The Stug activates – doesn’t need to acquire the Churchill as nothing has broken last turn’s acquisition, but it still misses. The Churchill activates next, but still can’t acquire the Stug. The German squad beside the Stug on the flank hill activate, and fire on the rifle section of the 3rd squad. In an awesome rolling of the dice, they kill 5 out of 7, and pin the remaining 2, who as they are in the open and pinned must fall back towards the ridge into cover.
The PIAT shoots at the Stug again, but hits this time. The location was the upper hull with an armour value of 55 – the PIAT rolled a 9, which has an armour penetration value of 81, so they get a roll on the penetrating hit table. A roll of 8 gives a vehicle destroyed and 10D10 rolls against the crew with a 7 or under killing them – it was no surprise that they all died. As the remaining C blind was on the flank of the Churchill, I decided to reveal it, as it might have been an AT gun or another tank. A roll of 5 – 2 for the last C blind being a Stug III gave a 3, which meant it was a dummy.
The German HMG on the building roof activated, shot at the 1st squad’s rifle section and wiped them out. Although the British had a tank and the Germans only had 1 Panzerfaust left, the British infantry were a spent force.
Squad 1 was down to a single bren gunner, squad 3 was down to 2 men and the HQ squad had suffered 50% casualties – overall the force was approaching the 50% casualty mark. They had also lost their HMG, whereas the Germans had only lost 6 men and the Stug III and were still in position. This proved to be a tough one for the British – if I had have held back some blinds as reinforcements for the Germans, then there might have been a better chance of the British squads establishing themselves. I can’t find any method of bringing on reinforcements in the Platoon Forward pdf, but the good old 40K method of reserve rolls incrementing by +1 for each failed turn would work fine.
Another balancing mechanism would be to mechanise the British using half-tracks with HMG mounts to try and neutralise the German HMG terror. As an exercise I totalled up the points values generated for the Germans against what the British were worth in DH terms. The British came to a total of 703 points, while the German forces involved came to 832, and it would have been 994 if I had have had the figures to generate the full squad on the last A blind – that’s over 40% difference against the attacker, so no wonder the British suffered.
I didn’t give the British a preliminary barrage as recommended in the scenario generation, but I couldn’t figure out in a hurry how to allocate it against blinds without rolling for them at the start, which would have taken a lot of the fun out of the solo game. I suppose I could have just said the artillery barrage was against the primary objective, and when a real unit was rolled in that location, conducted an attack against it with the casualty and pinning results carrying over to turn 1. The author has a blog, so I may post this question there just to see what method he uses.
What did I think of Platoon Forward? Well, I really liked it as a solo scenario generator and well worth the £7 I paid for the pdf from Too Fat Lardies. The British were quite unlucky with the blind rolls, and the fact that I had put all the blinds on-board so as they could all activate on turn 1 didn’t help. I’m already thinking about how to customise the blind tables to fit my models – for example, will the Germans get a 50mm AT gun, a 75mm AT or a dreaded 88mm? Highly recommended, and I’ve only read and playtested 1 out of the 3 sections.