27/01/2021 at 03:29 #150109
My sons were scanning YouTube for their usual nonsense the other day when they somehow came across the old WWII movie “Gung Ho!” If you’re not familiar, it’s an old black and white movie shot in 1943 about the US Marine Raiders striking Makin on Tarawa Atoll in August 1942. It’s the standard, old-fashioned fare: a brief training segment to introduce us to the stereotypical grunts, then it’s off for a bunch of rootin’ shootin’ action. And, I’m not ashamed to say, it’s fun.
And it got me to thinking about wargaming; I’d like to play some tabletop battles in that fashion: quick, easy, with lots of Hollywood-style drama, so what I’m asking for help with are tabletop missions. I’m asking for you guys to think about all the old WWII movies and comic books you loved, and tell me the missions you can think of that might play out well on the tabletop at approximately platoon level.
You know the sort: “Hey Sarge, what’s the word?” says the Private, wiping his brow and lighting a cigarette, a smile crossing his grimy face. “Word from the Old Man is that the (bad guys) have got our boys pinned down up around the bend, and we gotta get through or it’s curtains. So here’s what we’re gonna do…” And he give a plan very light on details, doesn’t coordinate it with anyone, and then they set off.
That’s what I’m looking for, and here is what I’ve already come up with (and they don’t have to be US Marines vs Japanese, of course):
“Hit the Beach!” Straight up attack/defense with Good Guys coming ashore.
“Destroy the Radio Tower!” Infiltrate the village/base and knock out the Bad Guy communications station.
“Ambush!” Your Good Guy patrol is ambushed by Bad Guys on each flank.
“Got’em In Our Crosshairs!” The Good Guys spot a Bad Guy unit double-timing up the road to flank us, but we saw’em first and are set to bushwack’em. *This is a tough one; the Good Guys really don’t stoop to ambushing the Bad Guys, do they? 😉
“Take out the (Guns/Mortars/MGs)!” Bad Guy heavy weapons are pounding an adjacent friendly unit, we gotta flank’em and take’em out (usually by scaling some cliffs, wading through a swamp, or otherwise crossing some presumed impassable terrain).
“Knock out the Pillbox!” A Bad Guy bunker is holding up the advance, we must make a frontal assault to knock it out with a Satchel Charge/Flamethrower.
“Spoiling Attack!” The Bad Guys are staging across the river for an attack, lets hit’em first.
“Here They Come!” The Bad Guys are attacking in force, hold the line.
“Counterattack!” The Bad Guys just punched a hole in our lines, round up as many men as you can and go throw’em back.
“Prisoner Snatch!” Take a patrol out to capture a Bad Guy soldier for intelligence.
“Clean’em Out!” Escort a pair of tanks forward to mop up a Bad Guy unit.
“They’re Cut Off!” Help a team fight through Bad Guy lines to deliver a message.
“Bring’em In!” A Good Guy patrol was ambushed down by the river, go find’em and bring’em home.
“Tank Hunt!” Bad Guy tanks have broken through our lines, rush over and knock’em out!
“Demonstrate Before the Enemy!” Create a diversion by advancing aggressively, then falling back just as aggressively in order to avoid becoming decisively engaged.
“Down to Their Last Round!” A Good Guy unit is almost out of ammo, fight your way through to resupply them.
“Squeeze’em In the Middle!” Divide your forces to attack the Bad Guys from two sides.
“Leave No One Behind!” Conduct a fighting withdrawal, bringing everyone with you, dead or alive.
“Sabotage!” Infiltrate village/base to destroy a fuel or ammunition dump.
“Drop that Bridge!” Bad Guy forces are heading towards the bridge, if they get across they’ll wipe us out, so we gotta blow the bridge.
“Hold the Bridge!” Defend the bridge against a determined Bad Guy assault, the whole Division is countin’ on us.
“Grab the Bridge!” We found a way around the Bad Guy defenses, now we just need to exploit it! Make a dash for the bridge, and hold it until reinforcements can get across.
So, perhaps it’s already an exhaustive list, but I’d love to hear any recommendations you guys have for WWII Hollywood-style missions for platoon-level games. Thanks in advance for the help!
Jack27/01/2021 at 05:04 #150111Nathaniel WeberParticipant
The enemy general is headquartered in that chateau! Capture him!
The tank is broken down! Regiment says to leave a squad and guard it till we get a tow out here.27/01/2021 at 11:21 #150133Don GlewweParticipant
Nothing specific comes to mind (still on the first cup of coffee…), but wonder if leafing through episode synopsis of “The Rat Patrol” might generate some ideas?27/01/2021 at 12:25 #150137John D SaltParticipant
The prisoner snatch raid is a fun one, but requires rules to cover the effect of surprise on the defenders. Having a few intermediate obstacles to deal with, like a wire obstacle to be crossed, or a trip flare with an MG DF on it, will add to the tension for the attacker, but not so much for the defender, and maybe this is one best played solitaire against a “clockwork mouse” defender who then won’t mind if they don’t get to shoot back until the last couple of turns.
The reserve demolition/demolition guard is fun, too, and if you want to add complication throw in a reverse passage of lines — not only must you blow the bridge if the baddies get too close, there is a recce patrol out that will be withdrawing over this bridge, and you must see them safely across. Try not to shoot the recce patrol when they approach your position — you’ll need some target acquisition rules that make blue-on-blue possible.
A situation I like to play is an escort patrol. This would be a platoon task, and attached to the platoon would be a specialist officer from another branch who is conducting a specialist recce mission of some kind. It might be an engineer officer going to assess the banks of a river prior to a tactical bridging task; an armour officer assessing the going along a vital stretch of a planned route; a gunner officer going to conduct a shoot on a particularly annoying target from a hazardously advanced OP; a REME officer going to assess whether an abandoned tank is recoverable; or an intelligence officer attending a prearranged rendezvous with a member of the local resistance who is believed to have information of interest. Some sort of scheme would have to be devised to determine the specialist officer’s preferred course of action, which might not match that of his escort. Again, target acquisition rules will matter a lot, because this sort of mission is best accomplished by stealth, and often conducted at night.
All the best,
John.27/01/2021 at 12:43 #150138John D SaltParticipant
Another idea, eminently suitable for solitaire play, and seldom the topic of wargames, would be second-echelon “mopping up” work. The concentration of massed fire have fallen, the armoured spearheads have rolled through, resistance has been broken, and the victorious army has continued on its glorious combat path to plunge a dagger of righteous fury into the enemy’s blah blah wibble.
Then come the moppers-up, on their own flat feet, from a unit that has been rotated out of the front line after too long at the sharp end. They have been instructed to secure an area; what will they find in it? There might be a small knot of fanatics, determined to fight to the last despite being cut off. But it’s not all that likely. There might be enemy stragglers, alone or in small groups, happy to surrender after token or no resistance. There might be friendly wounded to be recovered. There might be friendly skulkers hoping to dodge the column and make their desertion permanent. There might be civilians emerging from the cellars, surveying the wreckage of their homes; they might need feeding or medical attention. There might be unexploded ordnance, uncleared mines, or booby traps. If the enemy is a real bastard, some of the friendly or enemy wounded might be booby-trapped. There might be chickens in need of liberating, there might be booze, there might be valuable loot. Some of the valuable loot might be booby-trapped. There might be finds of interest to technical intelligence. There might be a box of Panzerfausts the platoon would find useful later on. There might be an abandoned bank, with the doors blown in, papers all over the floor, and a picture of Kilroy with the message “Up Yours, Baby” drawn on the back wall.
Essentially, it’s dungeons and dragons for the 20th century, with its own set of treasures, traps and wandering monsters.27/01/2021 at 13:23 #150140Chris PringleParticipant
I’ll offer just two thoughts: “Maguffin” and “Combo”.
The Maguffin is something the platoon needs to carry with it and protect; may or may not have to obtain it first. It could be a piece of equipment (fragile radar component?); a friendly but inconvenient NPC (John’s engineer officer, a wounded comrade, a civilian with his own agenda); or an enemy who needs to be kept alive for whatever reason. This means the players have to devote thought and resources to something other than just the minor tactics of kill without being killed, adds character and produces more dramatic tension. Perhaps two maguffins: the valuable civilian ally wants to murder the valuable enemy POW. Deal with that while fighting your way through.
As for “Combo”: your audience may be fine with a single simple tactical mission like “Grab the Bridge!”, but it’s a bit narrow and predictable for my jaded palate. My suggestion is to inflict two tasks at once so that the players have to decide what resources (troops, time, etc) to allocate to which and how. This could work most interestingly if the second one crops up partway through the game so they have to adjust and adapt their plan. Eg, while involved in the conventional tactical mission (“Grab the Bridge!” or whatever), they learn via radio or by finding a wounded comrade that there is a maguffin they really really ought to retrieve as well … throwing such spanners into the works during the game helps to generate dramatic turning points and challenging decisions for the players.
Hope these help. Move out!
Chris27/01/2021 at 15:07 #150149Darkest Star GamesParticipant
How far into roleplay do you want to go? You could always add in a series of missions of “capture bad guys to get their uniforms so we can pretend to be bad guys that captured some of our guys so we can stroll into their base to do X and then wreck it”. Super Hollywood!
And there’s always the old sneak-and-peek, where they need to recon an area or specific location and get out without the bad guys knowing they’ve been there.
And my personal favorite: A Higher-Higher survived a plan crash but is injured and is hiding out somewhere in this area that is crawling with enemies…
"I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."27/01/2021 at 16:55 #150170
Thanks everyone, I greatly appreciate your thoughts on the matter! It’s very helpful, I see several more missions to add to the menu, great stuff!
I’ll likely be playing most of the games solo, so no issues there, I can draft up some cards/tables to handle the appropriate aspects. The passage of friendly lines is obviously very applicable, but I’m not sure I have the nerve for it 😉 And I don’t want to get too in the weeds regarding a role-playing aspect, I want these fights to be light, quick, and action-packed.
Jack27/01/2021 at 22:31 #150182ian pillayParticipant
How about a resistance or SOE rescue. Robbing a bank of its gold. Kelly’s heroes is my favourite war film of all time.
I think your list of ideas is great, I might ‘borrow’ a few as I am going to try out One Hour Skirmish rules soon and they certainly give a good flavour of the games I would like to play.
Commando Comics is a trove of good ideas!
Thanks for sharing
Tally-Ho! Check out my blog at…..
http://steelcitywargaming.wordpress.com/27/01/2021 at 22:52 #150184kyoteblueParticipant
This sounds great, let me know when you do the AAR’s !!!! Oh, and lost Paratroopers how do they find their unit in the dark!!??28/01/2021 at 03:01 #150186
Thanks Ian, I just wish I had an easy (read: cheap) way to get my hands on the old comics (my favorite was, of course, “Fightin’ Marines”).
Kyote – Crickets?
Jack28/01/2021 at 06:48 #150188kyoteblueParticipant
Flash and Thunder… wink wink.28/01/2021 at 08:50 #150195Phil DutréParticipant
I have a book about famous raids in WW2 (on both sides). And although these were usually somewhat bigger than platoon-sized, they can serve as an excellent inspiration for wargame scenarios. You can also find a lot of info on ww2 commando-raids online.29/01/2021 at 19:40 #150258Deleted UserMember
Charlies don’t surf – everyone form a defensive perimeter while these two surfers test out the waves. They have to cus one of the surfer is a colonel.
Saving Private Chuckson – Chuckson is the last of seventeen sons. The other brothers choked on their C-rats biscuit, and the squad has to fight their way to Private Chuckson before Lunch.
Link up with I Company – part of a major offensive/defensive battle but the squad got sent off to find I Company so the line could be closed. Stop enemies escaping through the gap. The squad is the only playable unit until they link up with I Co, after linkup I Co can act as normal. Visctory condition could be how many enemy units escaped.
Baby sitting – A Lt/Capt on fast track is attached and its up to the squad/platoon to keep him alive. After each battle roll a D6, on a 6 he gets sent back and mission accomplished.
Straggelers – Do a sweep and pick up any straglers. Check every building or terrain feature on D6 roll of 6 there’s one guy hunkering in the corner.
Corpsman – The squad’s been volunteered as stretcher bearer and has to run around the battlefield collecting casualties. There’s the squad and the regular battle going on.
Recon – a mini game before battle, a small squad gets sent out to recon the battlefield. Enemies are blinds, the squad search and fix their position, the battle begins when these guys gets spotted and shot at.
Rear guard – fighting retreat and loose as few people as possible. There will be a non player friendly company trying to retreat down the single road, with traffic jams and all.
It’s dark – night time patrol, noone can see nothing until it’s so close it’s deadly. Check out random markers moving around, roll D6 when within 4″, 1-2 enemy patrol, 3-4 nothing (a stray cat), 5-6 friendly platrol. Can shoot blind at the markers before they are IDed, but it could be friendly fire.
Supply run – sneak in and requisit some of those army supplies without getting caught. Also steer clear of the CSM during battle incase he recognized you.
Hury up and wait – the platoon had to form up and sit around until they get orders, 2D6 result of 12. On result of 2, Platoon Commander wants to do equipment check to pass the time.
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