Tuesday, February 1, 2011

WWII Campaigning

Last week I purchased and downloaded the new offering from Too Fat Lardies called Platoon Forward. Rather than try to describe this product myself, I defer to the description on the TFL website:

Platoon Forward is a character based campaign system that allows you to add personality to your tactical level games. Written for Platoon Level games in the Second World War Platoon Forward focuses on the characters within your force.  Its three sections allow the gamer to generate characters, to generate a wide range of scenarios and follow their force through  a range of missions with a broad selection of events that can affect their performance on the battlefield. This is the perfect addition to solo games as the dynamic system presents the player with a hidden enemy and provides a huge variety of potential outcomes, keeping the games interesting and allowing the unexpected to occur. For full details see the interview with the author on the Lard Island News site:  http://toofatlardies.co.uk/blog/. Platoon Forward is designed to bolt on to whatever set of WWII tactical level rules you are using and may be easily adjusted for squad or company level games.   

My preferred WWII rule set of late has been Disposable Heroes from Iron Ivan Games and I've played a fair number of games with it. Those who know me also know that I'm a frustrated campaign gamer. By this I mean that I like to have the context in my games that campaigning provides but that I've always been searching for a campaign system that satisfies me (if that's possible). Over the years I've tinkered with various published campaign systems and even written a few of my own. I've run campaigns and played in them. Most are too much of something and too little of something else (and these somethings vary from gamer to gamer, genre to genre, and even day to day). As with my tactical rule sets, I much prefer these days simplicity and ease of play. But it's difficult to run a campaign that is both simple and easy to play and/or administrate. Platoon Forward may (and I stress "may") be the answer, at least for me. Platoon Forward has no map component as with a standard campaign system and instead  allows me to track the performances of my units and their commanders regardless of the type of game. I can use the scenario generator provided or play any other scenario and just keep track of my force. My fellow gamers can use it to track their forces' performances as well but there is no requirement to synchronize our efforts.

For example, I may play several games with my 1940 German platoon and gain certain advantages and disadvantages for future battles. My platoon commander may forge a strong relationship with the company quartermaster sergeant and receive some extra squad weapons for a future battle. But maybe the battalion commander has taken notice of the platoon leader and wishes to accompany him in the platoon's next action. All well and good but the company commander doesn't particularly like my platoon leader. Maybe someone with a Russian infantry platoon wants to play a game against my Germans (hint, Steve). He can now start using the Platoon Forward system as is, despite the fact that I've already tracked my platoon through several actions. No need for synchronization of efforts. In fact, no need for him to use the system at all!

On Sunday at MIGS, John and I played a WWII game and I used the Platoon Forward system to track my German platoon. We used one of the simpler scenarios in the system. Unfortunately, the German platoon leader not only lost the action but his platoon sergeant was killed. An appeal to the company commander to promote a deserving squad leader (and in-game event caused the platoon leader to "notice" one of his squad leaders) to the empty post proved fruitless despite the fact that both are  former enlisted men promoted from the ranks and thus have a mutual basis for understanding. Seems the company commander has his own agenda. The request was denied and a new platoon sergeant was brought in from another unit. This may not seem a problem on the face of it but the two are diametric opposites. The new platoon sergeant is a tried combat veteran of cheery disposition (and his combat leadership rating is higher than his new platoon commander's...surely a source of future friction?). The platoon commander is a corrupt bastard whose motivation is fueled by a hatred of all things in officer-land, despite his rank (he was, after all, promoted from the ranks and doesn't quite fit the traditional Prussian aristocratic officer mold) and is jealous of his authority. Fortunately, the platoon leader also had a chance meeting with the commander of the armour component of the Kampfgruppe. This proved more useful and a strong bond was formed. This may may be useful in the future when the reckless temperament of my platoon leader gets him into a pickle and he needs some local armour support.

So, just enough context to make our games a bit more interesting...

1 comment:

  1. Dave,
    Hope you like the system. Sounds like your story is already interesting. I was a frustrated campaigner as well. For years they started off with a bang and died a slow death. Now I have 9 different squads going sometimes with 4 months between battles with no problem.