Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thinking Some More About World War II for Solo Gaming Month

I've been thinking a bit more about the possibility of a World War II solo campaign with Platoon Forward for Solo Nexus' "Solo Gaming Month" this November. The big question is the logistics. I currently have no "blog-worthy" WWII minis. So I would be starting from scratch, except for terrain (though I think I'd also like some more era-appropriate buildings).

This has the potential to be an ambitious project. So, I've done some calculating as to how I could realistically approach it, trying to estimate the absolute minimum number of models I'd need to paint in order to have a viable "starter" solo campaign with Platoon Forward.

Platoon Forward uses a system of "Blinds" for setting up enemy forces in scenarios. These are locations which may or may not contain enemy troops. You don't know what, if anything will be located there until you move into line of sight. The number of blinds is dependent on the size of your own force as the solo player. So when determining potential enemy forces, a particular scenario will say something like:

Type A Blinds: The number of your squads +2
Type B Blinds: The number of your light support weapons +1
Type C Blinds: The number of your vehicles +1

As a blind can reveal a variety of enemy troop types (rifle squads, LMGs, MMGs, HMGs, mortars, ATGs, SPGs, Tanks, Halftracks, Trucks, etc.), you clearly need a more enemy models than friendlies.

After some thought and some number-crunching, here is how I estimate I could make my initial investment of time into this quite manageable:

  • Limit myself to the six "patrol" scenarios (fewer Blinds than the "battle" scenarios)
  • Limit myself to a single squad, no support weapons and no vehicles as the solo commander (minimizing the number of enemy blinds)
  • "Proxy toward the middle." For example, instead of having LMGs, MMGs and HMGs, I move toward the middle and on any MG result, treat it as an MMG. Similarly, with vehicles – drop the tanks and soft-skins, then treat all vehicle results as halftracks.
  • "Aim short of the ceiling." In the patrol scenarios, about 50% of the time the blinds will simply come up empty, so I should be able to get away with half to two thirds of the maximum possible numbers of each troop type.
  • "Force pool limit re-roll." If a Blind result would exceed my enemy force pool for any type of troop, I simply re-roll until I get something that still is in my force pool.

Combining these factors, I think I can get away with these figures to start:

Americans (my player-controlled force)
One Rifle Squad (1 x SMG, 1 x BAR, 10 x Rifle) = 12 men

2 x Rifle Squads (1 x SMG, 1 x LMG, 8 x Rifle) = 20 men
2 x Mortar (2 crew) = 4 men
2 x MG (2 crew) = 4 men
1 x Halftrack

Total = 40 men + 1 vehicle

To get these troops painted over summer break (mid-June through August) I'd only need to complete 4 men per week, which should certainly be possible. It would be easy enough to slip the halftrack in there as well. Then I'd still have September and October for any new buildings I'd like to paint, along with maybe a few extra troops for added flexibility, to allow for random events, etc., as time allows.

All in all, I think I could do this.


  1. I think it's doable, will you use metal figures?

  2. I'm thinking plastics for this. I like metal better as a rule, since the more pronounced relief in the metal castings makes them both easier to paint and better-looking when they're done. But the main thing leading me to plastic on this project is the fact that I happen to have four boxes of Valiant Americans and Germans on hand already, bought some time back, but which I never got around to painting. I may do a test run on a small number of those (perhaps even this weekend), and if they come out nicely, I'll stick with them; otherwise I'll likely rethink and go with metal.

  3. I've played in double-blind WWII games (a must for fights in the hedgerows) but yeah, needing 2 figures for every unit is rough.

  4. Have you considered Plastic Soldier Company? I love Valiant, but have found no suitable vehicles due to their large (for 1/72nd) scale. PSC, I think, are cost-effective and compatible with many vehicle kits out there, as well as their own :)

  5. Monty: Thanks for that heads up. I will definitely check out PSC!