Platoon – Squad Level Rules for Vietnam Era Skirmish Games by Julian Davies

Julian Davies’s “Platoon” is a set of squad level skirmish rules for the Vietnam Era. These rules were developed from the Avalon Hill game of the same name. Julian originally published Platoon on the Grunt! website, now defunct, so I have republished them here.


Introduction

Platoon Avalon Hill Cover
These squad level rules are an adaptation of the Avalon Hill game “Platoon” based on the movie of the same name. The main feature of the rules is the inclusion of fog of war and limited intelligence (without the need for an umpire) through the use of cards to represent groups of soldiers on the tabletop. Figures are placed on the table only when they fire. Having leaders in the right place is very important. Spreading your troops out keeps casualties low but makes it much harder to get them to act. Bunching up risks higher casualties but makes it far easier for leaders to exercise control. The ground scale is 1 meter = 1cm on the tabletop.

The rules use d10 with “0” counting as “10”.

Cards

Each side has a number of cards which are moved around the table or kept off table in a group holding area (made up of several pouches or envelopes). Each soldier and fake has his own card and each side has an additional 8 group cards (lettered A-H). These group cards are used to represent groups of more than 1 soldier or fake, therefore there are never “stacks” of cards on the table. Thus a single enemy card could represent anything from a single fake to a squad of several soldiers.

Each card has the soldier’s details on one side and a centre mark on the other. It is from the centre mark that all firing distances are measured and the terrain cover the card is in is whatever is directly beneath the centre mark.

Cards are always kept face down whilst on the table and should not be revealed to the opponent. Cards may not overlap each other. Once a moving card overlaps a stationary card remove the moving card. The soldier(s) or fake(s) represented by the moving card are now part of the stationary card (which would now have to be a group).

Card size is not critical. I use cards that measure 90 x 55mm made from cartridge paper in two shades of green.

Soldiers

Each figure represents 1 man. Each soldier is given an ID number, a fire modifier and a movement rate.

Some soldiers are leaders, medics and radio operators and as such have special functions.

Side Roster

This roster sheet records each side’s assets as well as being used to mark pinned fire effect results.

Action Chits

Each side has a certain number of chits as determined by the scenario. During each turn the chits are drawn from a container and determine the order in which actions occur rather than the passage of time.

Turn Sequence

After both sides have deployed according to the scenario instructions, and after any special “free” actions have been completed, the turn sequence is followed thus:

  • Mix the action chits in a container and pick one at random. The player on the side indicated by the chit may then select any one unpinned soldier or fake to perform an action. If the soldier selected is an unpinned leader then each unpinned soldier or fake in his group card may perform an action. The choice of which soldier or fake to use is up to the player. If desired, the same soldier or fake may be used to repeatedly perform actions as different chits are drawn during the same turn. Set aside the chit after use.
  • After the action is completed, pick a new chit and repeat the process until all the chits are exhausted.
  • Remove pinned status from all soldiers and fakes and put all chits (except any held as cease movement chits) back in the container. The turn is now over. Repeat the process until the designated number of turns is complete.

Actions

When a chit is drawn, the unpinned soldier or fake selected may perform one of the following actions:

Move: A soldier or fake may be moved a distance not exceeding his movement rate. For a soldier this movement may include a close assault. Alternately, a soldier may be used to “cut” barbed wire as a type of movement.

Fire: A soldier is not moved in any way, but may be used to “fire” at an enemy card.

Remove Figure: A figure on the table may be removed by expending an action (this is done to reduce the target modifier against figures on the table).

Recover LAW: A US soldier may expend an action and recover a LAW from an eliminated comrade in the same location.

Do Nothing: A player with a possible action to perform may choose to do nothing.

Save Chit: A player may save a chit to be used later as a Cease Enemy Movement chit. At any point during an enemy card’s movement the chit is played and the enemy card ceases its movement. The point at which the card stops must be within LOS to a friendly card. A maximum of 2 chits may be held as saved at any one time.

Actions By Groups with Leaders: The soldiers and/or fakes in a group may all be used to perform separate actions if the group contains an unpinned leader. The individuals in a group with a leader may be used to perform the same or different actions and they may be used to do so one-at-a-time in any desired order.

Fake Soldiers: Fakes do not really exist and these are intended to confuse the enemy. They may be moved in any desired manner (30cm movement rate) but may never fire, cut barbed wire or close assault opposing units. If a single fake soldier triggers a mine or Claymore he is eliminated but the mine or Claymore does not fire and only it’s general location has to be revealed.

Eliminated/Exited Units: Eliminated or exited cards should be kept from view when removed from the table. An opponent should not be allowed to examine eliminated and/or exited cards until the end of the game.

Movement

Each soldier is rated for how far he can move through jungle terrain in one action. Add 10cm if his move begins and ends on a trail or in open terrain without leaving it. Deduct 10cm if he crosses a stream except whilst moving on a trail.

If a group with a leader all choose to move, the player may move the single group card (rather than several individual cards moving to a new location and reforming as a group).

Close Assault

Cards may move into contact with enemy cards and when they do so an immediate close assault is resolved as follows:

  • If the enemy card contains any fake soldiers the fakes are automatically eliminated and removed from play.
  • If the enemy card contains real soldiers then resolve the close assault by both players rolling 1d10 with a +2 modifier for each friendly un-pinned soldier in their card. If one side’s modified number exceeds the other side’s modified number by “5” or more, that side wins the close assault and all the opposing soldiers are eliminated. Otherwise all the soldiers that just initiated the close assault are moved back 10cm in the direction from which they came. If the card initiating the close assault wins it may immediately occupy the exact location occupied by the losing card.

Moving Through & Cutting Barbed Wire

Barbed wire is laid in lengths of approximately 10cm. It is impassable unless cut. Any soldier whose card is adjacent to the barbed wire may perform the cutting action. A gap is automatically created and the wire section is removed from play.

Moving Off-Table

Cards that move off the table are considered to “exit” the game and cannot return. They are not considered eliminated. Cards may exit only where designated in the individual scenario.

How to Fire

The acting player announces that a soldier is firing and at what target card. The exact soldier used for firing does not have to be revealed to the opponent if a grenade is thrown, fire support is called, or a claymore is fired. For all other firing, the firing figure must be revealed to the opposing player by placing it on the table on or adjacent to his card. The figure remains in position on the table until he is either pinned, eliminated, moves to a new location or expends an action to be removed from the table. Firing ranges are still measured from card to card, not to or from the firing figure.

General Firing Procedure

  • Measure the range from the centre of the firing card to the centre of the target card. If the range exceeds the weapon’s maximum range, passes through any part of another card or the range is through more than 30cm of jungle terrain, no firing is possible.
  • If firing is possible, the firer rolls 1d10 and adds the appropriate fire modifier. At the same time the target rolls 1d10 and adds the appropriate target modifier. Modifiers are always cumulative.

Target Modifiers:

  • Target in clear or on trail +0
  • Target in jungle +3
  • Target in foxhole +3
  • Target in Bunker +4
  • Target is pinned +1
  • Target is a figure -1 (not vs claymore or fire support)

The two modified numbers rolled are then compared:

Miss: If the modified target number is equal to or greater than the
modified firing number the fire had no effect.

Pinned Down: If the modified firing number is larger by 1 through 4, the
target is marked as pinned. Additional pinned down results are ignored for a
target already marked as pinned down.

Eliminated: If the modified firing number is larger by 5 or more the
target is eliminated.

Firing at Groups

If the target card is a group the owning player must reveal that fact. The dice are rolled and modified comparisons made individually against each soldier or fake in the target card with individual results being applied.

If the firing weapon has a limited number of targets that it can attack it must attack any figures on the table first before it attacks other soldiers or fakes in the target group.

The order in which targets are attacked is up to the owning player.

Weapons

Weapon Base Range Max Range Max Number of targets
M16 60cm 180cm Unlimited up to 30cm, 2 at over 30cm
M79 50cm 150cm Unlimited
M60 LMG 100cm 300cm  Unlimited
Shotgun 30cm 30cm 2 maximum
M1911 .45 Pistol 20cm 20cm 2 maximum
M72 LAW ** 30cm 90cm Unlimited
AK47 50cm 150cm Unlimited up to 30cm, 2 at over 30cm
SKS Carbine 50cm 150cm  2 maximum
RPD LMG 80cm 240cm Unlimited
RPG 7 **   30cm 90cm Unlimited
TT33 Chi-Com Pistol 20cm  20cm  2 maximum

At over base range and up to maximum range, an additional “-3” fire modifier applies.

** These two weapons have a minimum range of 10cm and cannot fire at cards at that range or closer.

The maximum distance that any fire can pass through jungle is 30cm.

When the explosive weapons in bold type are fired at a target in a bunker or foxhole, the target modifier for the bunker or foxhole is ignored. M72 LAW have a “+3” fire modifier.

The maximum # of targets refers to the maximum # of attacks allowed against a group (due to slower rates of fire).

M60 LMG Teams

When a M60 machine-gunner is firing the gun solo he uses his printed fire modifier. As a special single action (without the need for a leader in the group) any non-pinned soldier in the group may assist the gunner and adds a “+1” fire modifier to the M60’s attack. The assistant may not do anything else.

If a M60 machine-gunner is moved he may be moved together with his assistant as a special single action (without the need for a leader in the group).

Hand Grenades

Instead of being used to fire a weapon, any soldier (except medics) may alternately be used to throw a hand grenade. The maximum distance a grenade can be thrown is 15cm but not through more than 10cm of jungle terrain (measured from centre to centre of both cards).

A hand grenade’s fire modifier number is “+4”.

Hand grenades do not ignore foxhole and bunker protection. (If within hand grenade range, assaulting fortified positions is best done through close assault).

Firing A Claymore Mine

As part of the game set up, the US player must specify the exact location of each Claymore mine and the direction it is facing must be expressed as one of the 8 cardinal points.

A Claymore will be fired immediately when any enemy card passes over it. Otherwise any activated US soldier within 30cm of the mine can fire it as an action.

The danger zone extends in a fan shape 45 degrees either side of the direction the mine is pointing for a distance of 25cm (not reduced by jungle terrain).

If the centre mark of any card is within the danger zone then the mine attacks all the soldiers on the card. The mine always attacks the enemy card that triggered it. The fire modifier number is “+5”.

Mines

As part of the game set up, the NVA/VC player must specify the exact location of each mine.

Mines are fired immediately a US card passes over the location.

The mine will attack all the soldiers on the US card.

The fire modifier is “+8”.

Calling Fire Support

Instead of being used to fire their own weapons, any leader in a group with a radioman (neither may be pinned) may be used to call for “fire support”, using both of these soldiers together to perform the same single action.

  • Fire support may be used to attack any single enemy card at any range whose shortest route from the leader and the radioman does not extend more than 30cm through jungle terrain. In open terrain the range is unlimited.
  • The combat modifier number for fire support is “+7”.
  • The use of fire support can be risky. Before resolving any attacks both sides roll 1d10. The leader’s fire modifier modifies the firing die roll and the target die roll is not modified. If the target die roll exceeds the modified firing die roll then the fire support is “short”. The target player may immediately shift the target to any card or vacant space within a 30cm range of the original target card, and the attack is then resolved against any soldiers in that card. Otherwise, the fire is resolved versus the original target card.

Medic

The US player may have a Medic. The medic cannot throw hand grenades or initiate close assault. He cannot fire at targets beyond 10cm but performs defensive close assault as normal.

Foxholes & Bunkers

These are deployed as part of the scenario set up. They begin the game hidden and the owning player must record their location (usually in the same position as a particular card). They are deployed on table whenever an enemy card passes over them, any of the occupants fire or the occupying card is fired at. Either side can use vacated or captured foxholes and bunkers and they provide protection from fire from any direction. They can accommodate an unlimited number of soldiers.


Example of Play

The US player draws a chit. It is an NVA chit. The NVA player decides to activate a leader on a group card that contains the leader, a machine-gunner and 4 riflemen. None of them are pinned.

Because the leader is unpinned each of the 6 soldiers may perform an action.

A US card is 25cm away (with no US figures adjacent). The NVA player declares he is firing with the machine-gunner and places a suitably armed figure next to his card. The US player declares that his target card is a group of 4. The US card is in jungle terrain. The NVA fire modifier is +4, the US target modifier
is +3.

One attack is carried out on each of the 4 US targets with the results as follows:

NVA Result US result Result
First target Roll 3 + 4 mod = 7 Roll 5 + 3 = 8 No effect
Second target Roll 7 + 4 mod = 11 Roll 2 + 3 = 5 Eliminated
Third target Roll 1 + 4 mod = 5 Roll 10 + 3 = 13 No effect
Fourth target Roll 2 + 4 mod = 6 Roll 2 + 3 = 5  Pinned

The US player removes the card belonging to the eliminated figure from the group holding box and marks on his roster that the second target is eliminated and that the fourth target is pinned.

The NVA player declares that the rest of his group will move and close assault the US card. The NVA movement through the jungle is 30cm so the US card is within reach. As the NVA player is moving his card he must leave the machine-gunner behind. The machine-gunner figure remains on the table as he has not moved and his own card is placed in the spot vacated by the NVA group card.

The NVA group card is placed adjacent to the US card but in the process passes over the location of a Claymore mine which automatically sets it off (the US player must show proof of the mine’s location if required). The Claymore’s firing arc and range is worked out and the NVA machine-gunner is found to be outside the danger zone. The Claymore’s attack is immediately resolved on the NVA group with +5 modifier. The NVA get the +3 modifier for the jungle and the NVA player has to declare the number of targets to be attacked:

NVA Result Claymore Result
Leader Roll 2 + 3 = 5 Roll 5 + 5 = 10 Eliminated
Rifleman 1 Roll 4 + 3 = 7  Roll 1 + 5 = 6 No effect
Rifleman 2 Roll 4 + 3 = 7 Roll 8 + 5 = 13 Eliminated
Rifleman 3 Roll 7 + 3 = 10 Roll 4 + 5 = 9 No effect
Rifleman 4 Roll 6 + 3 = 9 Roll 5 + 5 = 10 Pinned

The NVA player removes the 2 eliminated cards from the group holding box and marks on his roster that the leader and Rifleman 2 are eliminated and that Rifleman 4 is pinned.

At this point the NVA player could elect to stop his close assault attempt (which ends his turn) or he could continue (because his eliminated leader started the turn with the group). He elects to carry on and the NVA card (now representing Rifleman 1 and 3) is placed adjacent to the US card leaving the pinned NVA Rifleman 4 behind where the Claymore attack occurred (his own card is placed on the table). The close assault is immediately resolved. Both sides have 2 non-pinned soldiers giving them both a +4 modifier (no other modifiers apply to close assault). The US rolls 1 and the NVA rolls 5. The difference is 4, which is not enough to eliminate the US soldiers so the NVA card is moved back 10cm. This places the NVA group card partly over the pinned NVA rifleman card so his card is removed and he rejoins the group. The NVA action ends.

This is a complicated example of play. Most chit plays will be much simpler to resolve.

From the US perspective the US player should be pleased with the result of the turn but also concerned, not knowing exactly what is going on with the NVA. He can see the machine gunner figure and knows there could be more NVA in that group. He knows the Claymore nailed 2 NVA and pinned 1, and 2 were repulsed from the close assault so the group in front of his position must total 3 men. The NVA might try another close assault preceded by more MG fire or could stay where they are and start firing. If the US player knew the true NVA situation he would be less worried.

The NVA have suffered a minor disaster. Leaders are too valuable to have them leading charges and the leader should have remained back with the machine gunner where he could either move forward to re-join the riflemen after a successful close assault or be ready to salvage them after a repulse. Now the NVA are in a bad situation. They would hope the next chit drawn is theirs so the MG can lay down some more fire and maybe pin more of the US. That would improve the odds for a single NVA rifleman to launch a successful close assault.


Feedback

I am interested in any feedback, comments or suggestions that players of these rules may wish to submit or discuss. Thank you.

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