Saturday, October 29, 2011

Paper Tigers and Platoon Forward: Solo Game Month Prep

As November moves closer, and the academic term drains more and more energy from me, I've decided in the end to go with the simpler Paper Tigers combat rules to complement my use of Platoon Forward for a solo gaming month WWII campaign. Since Paper Tigers doesn't have personality rules – which is what Platoon Forward is all about – I've decided to make the various personality traits of the different officers affect their card use. Over the last week or so, I've made a few tweaks to the Paper Tiger rules to allow for officers (for the player force), enemy action protocols, and random events. The campaign I'll start playing in November will be a testing ground for these solo home-brew additions. They're very much a work in progress, but I figured I'd throw them out there for public viewing anyway (see below).

Some Armourfast Panzer IV's I managed to build and paint this week.

Bard's Home-Brew Solo Modifications to Paper Tigers for use with Platoon Forward

Officers: Only the player's force has officers with any game effect (the enemy may have officers just for show). Each player controlled officer has a modifier. The company commander modifier applies to dice rolls for cards played on AFVs or played from the reserve. The platoon commander modifiers apply to dice rolls for cards played on group actions for their respective platoons. Commanders can be shot at by enemy troops if they are a valid target (see below). If a platoon commander is eliminated, all undamaged squads in his platoon become damaged, and all damaged squads are eliminated. If the company commander is eliminated, all reserve cards for that turn are immediately eliminated. Enemy officer figures can be placed on the table just for appearance (optional). Enemy platoon commanders are "eliminated" when the last squad in their platoon is eliminated. The enemy company commander is eliminated when the last enemy unit is eliminated.

Player Force Organization: The player's infantry are organized into platoons of three squads plus one platoon leader each at the start of the game. AFVs act as individuals. The company commander can be placed anywhere within 12" of any player unit. Member squads and the leader of a given platoon must stay within one squad-base-width of each other at all times. If a "middle" squad of a platoon is eliminated, the two "flank" squads are immediately shifted inward.until they meet the distance restriction.

Enemy Force Organization: The enemy's infantry and AFVs are organized in the same way as the player's forces, with the exception that enemy officers are just for show.

Player Card Distribution and Play: The player rolls for and places his cards prior to rolling for and placing enemy cards. Placement is as normal with the following exceptions: 1) reserve cards are never revealed until they are played; 2) reserve cards are only used for recovery; 3) reserve cards do not carry over from turn to turn – if unused at turn end, they are discarded; 4) cards for actions are assigned only to infantry platoons or individual AFVs; never to individual squads and never to AFV groups.

Enemy Card Distribution and Play: roll two dice (as normal); the cards for the higher die are used for shoot/move actions this turn; the cards for the lower die are put in reserve. Cards are assigned to infantry platoons or individual AFVs. Distribute cards one at a time to each unit (infantry platoon/individual AFV); if there are not enough cards for all units, begin with those units nearest to player-controlled units and work your way out by increasing distance. If there are more cards than units, begin giving enemy units a second card, again using the same protocol. If every enemy unit has two cards and you still have cards left over, these excess cards get shifted into the enemy reserve as well, though the reserve may not exceed a total of 6 cards. This same protocol also is used to distribute reserve cards to units that need to recover later in the turn. As with player reserve cards, enemy reserve cards are only used to recover, and any unused reserve cards are simply discarded at the end of the turn.

Turning Over Cards: Once all cards are placed, turn over all in play cards for your units and your adversary's units (all reserve cards for both sides remain hidden). Play proceeds from the highest to the lowest initiative card as in normal play, however all ties are resolved differently from the regular rules. When a player card and an enemy card are of the same initiative value, the enemy always gets to act first.

Enemy Actions: When it is the solo adversary's turn to perform an action, the unit in question will always act according to the following priorities:

1) Shoot at the nearest valid player unit (see below) if one is in range
2) Movement (by type and circumstance – 2a-2c)
2a) Infantry with no shot, but able to move to cover: move to the nearest cover that would bring the unit closer to having a shot at a player unit.
2b) Infantry with no shot, and unable to move to cover; roll a die. 1-2 = move as far as possible toward the nearest cover that would bring the unit closer to having a shot at a player unit. 3-6 = Hold ground if currently in cover (if not in cover treat as "1-2").
2c) AFV: roll a die. 1-3 move toward the nearest position allowing a shot at a player AFV (if no player AFVs are on the table, treat as "4-6" result); 4-6 move toward the nearest position allowing a shot at any player unit.

Valid Targets – Shooting Action Restrictions (For Player and Enemy): A shooting AFV MUST always target the nearest opposing AFV in range if any; otherwise it must target the nearest opposing infantry. A shooting infantry squad MUST always target the nearest opposing enemy unit regardless of type.

Movement Action Restrictions (For Player and Enemy): For both sides, move infantry platoons as a single entity (a single dice roll for all squads and the leader in the platoon). Move AFVs individually.

Infantry AT Weapons: All squads are assumed to be armed with infantry AT weapons with a range of only 6".

Random Events: Random events occur every time an ACE is turned over in the game. The event occurs immediately as soon as the card is turned over. One random event is rolled for each ace turned up, even if in the same turn. Roll a die and apply the results.

1. Enemy Artillery Support: Draw a card. Select one player-controlled infantry platoon at random. Make an attack with that card against each squad in the platoon, and against the leader.
2. Enemy AT Ambush: A small hidden enemy team ambushes one random player-controlled AFV. Draw a card, and make an attack against the randomly selected AFV. The enemy ambush team then slips away. Ignore this result if the player has no AFVs remaining.
3. Enemy Sniper: Select one player-controlled leader at random. Draw a card. Make an attack against the leader – a successful attack automatically kills the leader (no "damage").
4. Enemy Reinforcement: Roll a d6. The enemy receives the following reinforcements who enter in the center of any random table edge other than that belonging to the player.
     1-3: d6 infantry squads (maxing out when enemy force pool available is exhausted)
     4-5: 1 AFV + d3 squads (maxing out when enemy force pool available is exhausted)
     6: d3 AFVs (maxing out when enemy force pool available is exhausted)
5. Mines: Select the undamaged player squad located nearest an enemy unit. That squad has triggered a mine (or mines) and is instantly switched to "damaged" status.
6. Mechanical Breakdown: Select one player-controlled AFV at random. That AFV is switched to "damaged" status. If already damaged, that vehicle is destroyed (irreparable). If the player has no AFVs remaining, ignore this result.


  1. A lot of work and thought went into this, nicely done.

  2. Very cool. I've played quite a few solo games and they are very difficult to produce 'likely' random events, this is good work, great ideas!

  3. Thanks guys! We'll soon see how they work in practice.

  4. Sounds good, looking forward to seeing your campaign this next month.

  5. Thank you for sharing these solo rules. I had a go with them and it was very fun. Here are my notes, but they are in Italian :)

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Two Up, One Back

"The dominant (though not the only) tactical formation for the infantry in both attack and defense remained 'two up, one back.' This was a product of the triangular organization that the infantry used from platoon to division level. Triangular units had three main 'maneuver' elements (weapons units did not count as 'maneuver' elements). Rifle platoons had three squads; rifle companies three rifle platoons; battalions, three rifle companies; and so forth. This encouraged commanders to place two of their maneuver units forward while keeping back the third so that it could relieve or reinforce a frontline unit."

--John Sayen, U.S. Army Infantry Divisions 1944-45 (28)