Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Platoon Mega Playtest: Part 3 - KR16


KR16 is a set of free PDF rules from Angel Barracks and available for download at They run to 25 pages. The layout is reasonable, but whilst the loads of examples help they break the main rules a bit too much. All the rules and stats tables would probably fit on a single side of A4.


Time to move on to Scenario 2 in Operation Martlet - Pushing On. 7DWR (at least I think it's them) "attempt to push on through the sprawling village of Fontenay towards the German main line of defence. They must clear this position before they can progress further".

KR16 are SF rules, but have normal rifle and MG type stats. The ranges seemed a bit short, e.g. 24cm for a rifle, so I scaled it all up so that 4cm in the rules equalled one 10cm square on my board, giving a rifle an 80cm range - about the same as Bolt Action.

Forces were reinforced platoons as per Scenario 1, but the Brits picked up a sniper team as well.

ENDEX view, British were attaching bottom to top

How It Played

The Germans started sitting tight in the village, with rifle groups deployed well forward and ready to pull back as the British came on. The British (unwisely?) had all the Sections deployed N of the main road, and the Cromwell and 6pdr on it.

The Germans in the wood in front of the main house opened up on No. 3 Section cowering in the chicken shed and caused some damage. The Cromwell took a glancing blow from the Pak and decided to move off the road to help No. 3 Section out. MG fire and the Section's fire soon caused enough damage for the German Section to pull back. In the N the plan was to use No. 1 Section on the far flank as the fire base, deploy smoke, and No. 2 Section to rush through to get the German section in the N copse. The fire took a couple of goes to get in, and then No. 2 Section just refused to move. And refused, and refused. In fact they only got going in the last couple of turns (and then wished they hadn't). So No. 3 Section was swung N instead. Though the smoke, hesitated, and got caught in the open as the smoke cleared. Deciding that the Germans on their flank were a more serious threat they swung S, over the hedge and into melee with the Germans by the main farmhouse. Multiple rounds of melee saw No. 3 Section wiped out. No. 1 Section had no option but to charge on on their own. Rifle fire had whittled away the German defenders, but they'd been reinforced by the reserve section, and so the Brits ran into a hail of fire and an outnumbered melee, and again after multiple rounds were toast (no morale in these rules!). No. 2 Section finally got moving, and supported by the Cromwell tried to take the German's on but the Pak engaged the Cromwell again, missed, then glanced, and finally the PzKfz IV got the bead and took the Cromwell's turret out. No.2 Section were taking damage from both flanks, so realistically after about 12 turns it was all over. German victory.

Rules Impression

These rules are "not meant to be super detailed, nor do they make any claim to be accurate, if that is even possible with fictional things? They are simply a set of rules I wrote for my own games with my own figures and I thought I would share them for free.". And kudos for putting them out there. I think they meet their objective, they give a fast game (c. 90 mins) and things flow pretty smoothly. Ranges out the book were I think a bit short, and there's a lot not covered - but I was expecting that.

The real reason to try the rules was the activation system. Each command needs an appropriate die roll, so easy orders, like withdraw, just need 3+ (on D6) whereas assaulting needs 5+, most need 4+. If you've got a pinned marker then its DM-1, and troop quality (and commander) also gives +/-1. In practice I think though the results were just too random, eg:

  • No.2 Section staying stuck so long (should have sent Pl Comd over?)
  • Lots of "easy" shots being missed as units refused to activate even when in cover (more use of the overwatch order?)
The worst thing was that whilst a first hit causes a Pin a second hits causes a casualty and removes the Pin. So in some ways you were best off getting 1 hit not 2. That then happens for every other pair of hits, so your unit goes in and out of a -1DM on activation.

Interestingly Bolt Action has a standard 9- activation, with DM+1 for each pin and that change of probability (83% cf 50%) was enough to make it far smoother. However I still LIKE the idea of some orders being harder than others so I'm tempted to introduce an orders DM into my rules/my version of Bolt Action.

Cromwell supporting No.3 Section


It does what it says on the tin and gives a reasonable and quick game so you can't say fairer than that. But it is limited and does have a few issues, so I think in terms of what I'm evaluating and am after it's only a 6/10.

No. 3 Section advancing through the smoke

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Platoon Mega Playtest: Part 2 - Bolt Action


Glossy hard-back ~128pp book with QRS pages at the back. Somewhat annoyingly the first ~20 pages of the book are a history of WW2 so the rules don't start til well into the book which makes it harder to find the rules. Vehicles and Buildings (and Artillery) get their own chapters, which actually makes it harder sometimes to find what you want.


As for COC - the "Probe into Fontenay" scenario from the TFL Operation Martlet pint-sized campaign. Same forces. Used the equivalent generic BA scenario to decide things like preparatory bombardment.

How It Played

Having learnt the lesson from the first attempt the Cromwell was deployed well forward with the advancing troops, so when the Germans opened fire from the industrial units the Cromwell just poured HE into them, and HE into buildings in BA is VERY effective. This allowed No.2 Section to leg it down the hedge and assault the buildings and remaining troops for minimal loss. They too some damage from the German reserve section.

Assaulting the buildings

On the other flank it wasn't so good. Brens and the 6pdr made little impact on the Chateau. When No 1 Section tried to advance down the lane they got blown to pieces, just one man escaped back.

The Germans dispatched the PzKfw MkIV to take out the Cromwell. As it pulled off the road and fired its first round too the Cromwell out, but a PIAT lying in ambush fired back and took the Panzer out.

Dead Cromwell

Dead Panzer

Back on the right flank No 3 Section, the Pl Comd and the 2" mortar legged it down the hedge-line behind No.1  Section. When they got to the road the Pl Comd saw the Germans busy with No 1 Section so sent No 3 Section racing down passed the orchard and got the 2" to lay in smoke to cover them - off target but still good. No 1 section failed to do any damage on the Germans but the Germans than had a FUBAR fail on the order roll, and having seen their comrades obliterated and a British section flank them they decided to leg it home. No. 3 Section made it off the board and the scenario was over, start of Turn 6.

No. 3 Sections dashes for glory, smoke covering their rear

Rules Impression

I'd heard so-so things about Bolt Action, and it was a very late addition to the test - I managed to pick up the rules cheap on eBay. But I have to say it gave a REALLY good game. The dice bag activation and activation rolls worked well. Firing was OK, just enough DMs. The Pl Comds extra activations seemed quite natural. Some of the building rules seemed a bit odd, as did the smoke (enemy places it if off target!). I'd be tempted to do a few house rules, for instance increasing the number of pins, differentiate Bren and MG42, randomise movement, handle split Gun Gp/Rifle Gp sections, spotting and suppression, but with those it would be a cracking set.

ENDEX - No 3 Section left, fleeing Germans right!


For a set I nearly didn't include I think that Bolt Action is now my go-to set for this sort of game. Unlike CoC I really looked forward to the sessions with it, and would be keen to get it out again. Will be interesting to see if any other of the rules can match it. Overall 9/10.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Platoon Mega Playtest: Part 1 - Chain of Command

And so the Platoon Rules mega-playtest gets underway - see the previous post for details. I'll keep to the same headings as I used for the Skirmish tests.


Good quality ~64pp softback, full colour book. Can be a bit hard to find what you want. I also used Mike Whittaker's downloadable QRS - although at 6 pages it's bigger than some of the rules I test!


The first "Probe into Fontenay" scenario from the Operation Martlet pint-sized campaign. Normal patrol phase after that (although couldn't work out why as defenders the Germans had to start behind their defensive line and move into it - perhaps I missed something). Platoon-plus each, drawn from normal support lists (so extra a/t gun and tank on each side roughly). I made the Germans ordinary Wehrmacht with inf+mg group sections rather than Panzer Grenadier with 2xMG42!

Interestingly as I was playing in 10mm but on a full size table (and on ~3" square grid) my figure scale was actually SMALLER than my ground scale given CoC's "suggested" mapping. I assumed 60yds to the inch not 40yds to get to about 1:1 without too much impact on ranges as all so close in. Could have done with more cover though. May play later scenarios on a smaller table!

How It Played

Brits made slow progress of getting onto the board. No. 2 section went right flanking down the tree line, passed the farmhouse but then caught MG42 and rifle fire from the industrial buildings, and then as they got close to the road from the German reserve section which moved to also cover the space to the side of the buildings. The 2" brought down smoke, but this drifted out behind the Germans, and the Brits lost the Bren team. On the other flank No 1 Section moved to the hedge line but then a single MG42 burst from the farmhouse devastated the section and they lost their Bren team and had to withdraw from Shock. With 2 sections effectively out it was time to call it a day, the rest of the Platoon was massed by the central wood, but the armour was still only coming up. I played an extra few phases to try the armour and a/t guns out and was surprised at how ineffective the anti-tank was.

No.2 Section legging it down the hedge line.

Rules Impression

I can't say I've got on with Chain of Command before, and this was no exception. Maybe I'm playing it wrong, but I have played with others so it's not me massively misreading it. I like the patrol phase, and Shock, but I find the activation model too artificial, and likewise the Chain of Command dice bit. There are probably too few DMs for me too. When I was learning platoon attacks you did your O Group and then everyone headed off to do their bit, no waiting for an activation mix in order to get one section firing, 2 more running and then assaulting and the 51mm also firing - it was all simultaneous. With CoC I find things are just too disjointed, particular since 1/5/6 on the dice are pretty useless, so only 50% are useful activations.



Obviously suits loads of people but just not my thing - in trying to get a focus on the command and control I think they've just made it too artificial. Overall (for me) 7/10.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Platoon Rules MegaPlaytest - The Plan

Following on from 2018's Skirmish Rules MegaPlaytest I'm finally making a start on a Platoon level mega play test (at this rate expect Company-level in 2022 and Bn in 2024!). I realise there is some overlap from both Skirmish to Platoon, and Platoon to Company, and so some rules may be tested more than once in different contexts.

I've decided to base the test on a WW2 engagement, but I'm not limiting myself to WW2 rules as to me the principle is about Mechanised Warfare, and so I'd expect similar results from playing WW2/Cold War/Modern/"rational" SF rules. The rules I plan to play are:

  • Chain of Command
  • Bolt Action
  • KR16 (SF)
  • Fireteam: Modern
  • UltraCombat: Modern
  • Iron Cross/7Days to the Rhine
  • Force on Force (modern)
  • No End In Sight (modern)
  • Contact Wait Out (my own)
If I'm making good progress I may add in:
  • I Ain't Been Shot Mum (really Coy/Bn)
  • Blitzkrieg Command (really Coy/Bn)
  • Victory Decision: Future Combat
  • Stargrunt2
Sets that will definitely have to wait for the Coy playtest include:
  • Panzer Grenadier Deluxe
  • Crossfire
  • Poor Bloody Infantry 
  • TeamYankee

For the scenario rather than play the same one for all rules (as I did with the Skirmish playtest) I'm going to use TooFatLardies Op Martlet pint-sized campaign as a basis, and with 6 scenarios play each one about twice. Figures will be 10mm Magister Militum.

Let battle(s) commence....

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Battle of Cropredy Bridge 1644 - AAR

Just finished fighting the Battle of Cropredy Bridge, where Waller tried to encircle the rearguard of Charles's army as it crossed a large meander of the Cherwell. Fawkes map gives a reasonable view of the forces and terrain.

I started the game with the Parliamentarians just crossing the bridges and fords on the W, and with Charles' main body already across Hay's bridge in the North.

View from behind the Parliamentarian lines looking E

The rules were my own, based on the SLS mechanics but with units more brittle, braking at 4 damage not 5, and due allowances for different troop and weapon types.

STARTEX - looking N

Parliament made their biggest blunder in the first move. The Royalist dragoons were lining the hedges by the central bridge, and rather dispatching them with the cavalry they left the job to their own Dragoons, who failed miserably. So the Royalists caught two successive Regiments of Foote in enfilade effective rendering both hors' combat until Heselrigg's Cuirassier finally put paid to them.

Some nice pics of the pesky Royalist dragoons

The battle went pretty much like the real one. Heselrigg saw of the lead cavalry of Cleveland, and then turned S to help to help Waller see of Northampton. Two of Waller's units went chasing off the table after routing Royalists, as did one Royalist returning the favour. With the cavalry effectively out of the way the Royalist infantry recrossed Hays Bridge and advanced on Cropredy Bridge, pushing the weakened Parliamentarian back over, and that, as in 1644, was pretty much it. About 9 turns.

The Royalists counter-attack

All the rules worked pretty well. I'm still a bit unsure about what to do about the units with 3 damage, they can't attack, but they haven't routed and so just sit there typically on the base line unless the commander can rally them - but command points were in short supply. I might significantly up the number of command points compared to SLS so rallying is more feasible, and also allow them to be used to speed the return of off-table units. Since ECW battles can be a bit flavourless giving the player/commander more to do by thinking about the CP allocation - and making that more the centre of the game - might be a good way forward.


The new rubber tile boards worked well, just one board from an earlier flock mix standing out, but that will be retired to "undertier" duties next time round. The "field" areas gave some nice variety too, especially when edged with hedges. The green marks were quite hard to spot though, so doing bold black on the next one. I also need to codify how units move between squares - and I'm even toying with the idea of vertex not square movement.

Some final pics of the game...

Guarding the ford

A Russet Regiment about to receive a charge

Royalists advancing through the hedgerows