GrogHeads Reviews Platoon Commander – Poland Strikes

frontier wars 728x90 KS

The wars of the future are on your tabletop now ~

Robert Ellis, 20 March 2018

Designed by Mark H.Walker
Published by Tiny Battles Publishing.

About the game

Poland Strikes is one of four games in the ‘Platoon Commander’ series and depicts an hypothetical war between Poland and Hungary taking place within a wider European conflict.

The game uses the latest v1.5 series rules and features an 11×17-in map, 88 x 5/8” counters, a nicely laid out and very colourful player aid card, plus 18 ‘action cards’

I assume that these latest rules are backwards compatible with the other games in the series.

Each hex represent approx 150 meters, and each game turn 15-60 minutes.

Units are platoons and include a mixture of infantry and armour. Its interesting to see the mix of units which range from Hungaryn T34/85’s to T72’s. There are also a few BMP platoons and a couple of ATM platoons.  On one hand, its quite fun to pit identical units against each other, such as the T55 and T72 which both sides have, for example, although this does mean that there is a quite limited variety of units which some players may find a bit boring.

Included with the game are three scenarios, which give both sides an opportunity to attack or defend.

Physical components

The rule book is quite clear and concise and has several useful examples of play printed in colour.

I had no real issues with the rules, and found them, in some parts, reminiscent of the ‘World at War’ series games (also designed by Mr Walker).

A single 11×17-inch map represents an area of generic ‘border’ terrain with a mixture of features such as towns, hills and woods plus fairly prominent river that generally runs in SW-NE direction.. The map is printed on quite thin material, as you would expect from a budget price game, so care should be taken to preserve it from damage.

The single sheet of 88 counters provides a variety of ground units and a few game aid markers. The die cutting is quite accurate although the counters are rather thin, which again should be expected given the price level at which these games are marketed.

For the combat unit counters, use is made of the national flag colours of the two combatants as backgrounds; white over red for Poland, and green-white-red for Hungary. Vehicle units have a side-on graphic, whilst infantry use a NATO symbol. Quite a bit of information is shown on the counters, so they are quite ‘busy’ and again, I found them to be reminiscent of the counters from the World at War series.

Some units have the ability to move and fire, and this is indicated on the counter by a the movement factor being shown imposed on a blue ‘explosion’ background. I had some difficulty in reading this as its a black number printed on a dark blue field, although, since only the T72 units have this capability, its easily remembered.

In general, the components represent good value for money, plus, as usual, there an even cheaper ‘print & play’ option for those amongst us who have the skill, equipment and patience to produce a ‘DIY’ version.

How does it play?

First, lets look at the sequence of play, and a brief explanation of the various phases.

Initiative is determined by each player rolling 1D6, with the high roll taking the initiative. In the event of a tie, initiative goes to the player who did not have it last turn, unless this is the first game turn and the initiative is defined by the scenario instructions.

Both players now draw 1 Action Card each and usually will have already have drawn some cards during set-up in accordance with scenario instructions. Players can play up to 2 cards each per turn.

The Rally Phase is where both sides may attempt to rally disrupted units by rolling 1D6 for each such unit and comparing it with the unit’s morale, a number equal to, or less than the morale being successful. A units morale may also be affected by the terrain that the unit occupies and/or by the play of certain action cards. For example, a unit occupying defensive terrain has its base morale raised by 1.

NOTE. In all scenarios, the Polish base morale is 3, and the Hungaryn base morale is 2.

Fire Phase. Players now take it in turns, beginning with the initiative player, to make ALTERNATE fire attacks, each firing unit being marked with a ‘fired’ marker.

Next is the Movement Phase in which all eligible units of one player may move, the player with the initiative moving first. Opportunity fire may be conducted by the non-phasing player at this time, all such firing units being marked with a ‘fired’ marker.

Following this is the Close assault phase in which eligible adjacent units may engage in, well, close assault!

Finally, there is an Housekeeping phase during which various markers, such as ‘fired’ are removed.

As noted above, each player is able to play a maximum of 2 action cards each per turn. These have a variety of effects from adding fire support to aiding rally attempts, and do add considerably to the flavour of the game, plus adding a bit of uncertainty to the proceedings. Obviously, this does not work quite so well in solitaire play as it would when facing a live opponent!

On taking a hit, units are first marked as ‘disrupted’ a state which limits what actions they can take. Further hits with reduce the unit by flipping it, a 3rd hit destroying it.

A nice little touch is the addition for each side of a ‘Focus’ marker and an ‘Aid’ marker. These allow a player to assign them to specific units and give them additional powers, usually in the form of re-rolls. This is very useful in beefing up spearhead units during a critical attack and are a lot of fun to use. Again, however, this is a bit limited when playing solo, but I can envision it being the cause of many a muttered curse and gnashing of teeth in a ‘live’ game.

As far as I can see, there does not appear to be a Vassal mod for this game as yet.

Add to all this the ability of some units to load /transport/ unload infantry, wire guided missiles, flanking fire and multiple attacking units and you have a very reasonable little game which has some nice ideas, is easy to learn and has a small on-table footprint. I’m not sure if such a term exists, but if not, then it does now!

To be honest, post-WW2 hypothetical games of this nature are not my preferred cup of tea, but I have to say that despite the solo nature of the 3 scenarios that I played, I found it to be quite enjoyable and, if you like this type of game, or wanted to try something a bit different, then I would not hesitate to recommend it as it is, in my opinion, well worth the asking price.

More information on this series, plus other games from Tiny Battle Publishing can be found here

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