British Cromwell hunts Whittman!

British Cromwell hunts Whittman!
A pic from a Fireball game at Fall In 2010

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fireball Forward Facebook Page

Hey all - I just started a Facebook page for Fireball Forward. If you are into social media 'like' the page for updates and chat about the game.

Just search for Fireball Forward.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blog moving to the website


The Blog is now moving to the Fireball Forward website at

I will be making new entires there...check it out! I just wrote about Historicon 2011.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Website is LIVE!

Lots to check out, and download.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Playtest Kit and Historicon

Hi All,

Sorry for the long hiatus from posting. Good news tho'...the playtest kit is about 90% ready to be sprung on the world! Just needs some more editing. The rules are being built as 'programmed' rules meaning you read a certain amount and are then ready to play a specific scenario. Read a little more and you can play the next scenario. Eventually you will have worked your way through the entire rules set and can do anything.

This is how the original Squad Leader rules were created and laid out. As a 13 year old I was able to teach myself Squad Leader so they must have been doing something right! We are also including copious examples to help people visualize the rules. The examples are in side bars that line up with the rules they are illustrating. I took this idea from Julia Child as that is how she laid out "Mastering the Art of French Cooking.' As a 43 year old I was able to teach myself how to cook delicious French dinners for my wife so Julia must have been doing something right!

The playtest kit will include the first rules section (infantry combat), the accompanying scenario (Easy Company's assault on the guns at Brecourt Manor), a quick reference sheet and markers. It will be available for free download from our up and coming website. The website will also have other goodies like troop labels, one-off scenarios and videos that demonstrate the rules.

Historicon is approaching and according to the event organizers Fireball Forward is going to be the 5th most run game at the Con! I am running two Guadalcanal scenarios. There is also going to be a few Normandy games (US and Brits), some Philippines '41 and a Tunisia '42 tank battle. So there will be a good cross section of games to choose from. Nothing from Russia this con as Curt Daniels has run at least three Russia '41 games at the last few conventions. If you like SS Tigers then get into Sean Barnett's Villers Bocage scenarios...good stuff.

Look for us at Historicon...we will be in the same place for the entire Con. I would love to meet you all and answer any questions you have. Stop by and have some fun with Fireball Forward.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

I'm happy to report that Mark has begun a new draft of the rules and it's damn good! It's a re-write of the draft I did a while back, which was overly-lawyerly & hard to read. The new draft is set up in stages with scenarios inserted, so you can play as you go. There are lots of pictures & examples in the margins - always great. The first stage covers basic infantry, and we're thinking of making it available as PDF so folks can check it out and give feedback.

That said, Mark and I are committed to ironing out all the details before releasing the full thing, so it'll be several months yet, at least, before the rules booklet is available. We're planning to have all major theaters of WWII worked out, and to really capture the differences, based on historical written accounts - which we're constantly reading anyway. The rules are aimed at re-creating for the players, the same kind of tension & story lines described by combatants who were there.

We began with late-war Western front Europe, worked out armor rules, artillery, flamethrowers, moved on to Pacific jungle fighting (VERY different), and recently began work on desert fighting. Mark came up with new rules for long-range visibility which was a huge factor in the desert. I just finished reading "Brazen Chariots" by Robert Crisp and then played Mark's first desert scenario. Definitely feels right, although it was purely an infantry fight. Can't wait to do armor. I've been developing rules for bicycle troops and cavalry (Philippines saw both in spades). Jerry Frazee and his crew in North Carolina worked out rules for Eastern front, including a Commissar table which is a total blast - always injects a huge dose of Communism into the story line. Good, bad & ugly as it should be.

To answer some recent questions from Jan in Copenhagen, labels are not mandatory, but they're cool to look at, and help narrate the story. You can download PDFs for labels, if you want them, from the "files" folder here:

For bases, you can't beat Gale Force 9. They're inexpensive and super accurate laser-cut:

FbF is intentionally relaxed about basing dimensions. Anything roughly the size of Flames of War units work just fine. You can always use FoW units if you want - easy to get on ebay. Or make your own. The bases in the photos above are 3/4 inch x 1 inch (squads) and 3/4 x 3/4 (leaders & teams). Anything about 15mm x 25mm will work with the labels on those PDF's.

Lastly, your table is certainly big enough. Several scenarios are very small - just 2 x 3 feet (approx 0.66m x 1m).

Thanks for all the interest and encouragement,


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Japanese Invade Philippines 1941

Yesterday we playtested "A Filipino Welcome" - the first scenario of a series about the fall of the Philippines. What a blast! Here's the historical setup:

Date: December 22, 1941
At dawn the main Japanese invasion forces began hitting the beaches at five separate sites in Lingayen Gulf. Four of these were completely undefended, allowing the Japanese to race inland and cut the coastal road. Only at Bauang were Filipino troops waiting at the beach. Here the Headquarters Battalion, 12th Infantry (Philippine Army, led by American officers), with one .50-caliber and several .30-caliber machine guns, faced the oncoming Japanese. As the Kamijima Detachment approached the shore, the Filipinos opened fire.

And it was effective fire indeed! The Fil-Am forces had gambled and placed their .50 cal in a patch of scrub well forward - right on the beach - and it paid off. Lt. Col. Kamijima's Daihatsu landing barges were hit before they even reached the beach, and when the troops finally began spilling out, the majority were left cowering in the surf... or floating face down.

Only a handful of troops made it off the boats in good order. Unfortunately for the Filipinos, that's all the Japanese needed. Right away, they launched a Banzai charge against the .50 cal. (designer's note: the Banzai rules are VERY lively and a definite high point. A leader initiates Banzai, and he brings along with him all good-order subordinate troops in contact whether these have already moved or not. So it's extremely dangerous, and the feel of it matches the "suddenness" so often mentioned by defenders in written accounts.) This Banzai charge consisted of two squads and one platoon leader, and it suffered withering fire on the way in which killed the leader. However, both squads pressed onward (perhaps inspired by the late platoon leader's example), and they closed into contact with the Filipinos...

Next, by miraculous luck, the Filipinos prevailed in close combat! (thanks to Adrian Reen-Schuler rolling snake-eyes for his Japanese). What a wild fight!

The Filipinos now sensed blood in the water. Defenders from inland converged onto the landing site and pinned down the IJA with small arms, plus two .30 cal Browning machineguns. With losses mounting, the IJA scrambled to get troops off the beach. In ones & twos, their teams began to make it to a blind zone behind some scrub, hidden from Filipino fire. They gathered there and launched another Banzai charge inland toward one of the Brownings...

Despite more withering fire on the way in, this charge carried the position, wiping out both the Browning and another Fil-Am position immediately behind it. The Japanese were finally on the move. The bulk of the troops back in the surf were finally able to rally & get off the beach, and a battle of manuever developed in the dunes. There were 3 or 4 Banzai charges in total (I can't recall), but ultimately, the Japanese controlled only two of the three victory locations they need to establish the beachhead. Honors went to the Filipinos. Everyone had a blast with this one. The "feel" of the engagement seemed just right, and there were loads of tough tactical choices to be made on both sides.

Historically, Lt. Col. Kamijima suffered terrible losses at Bauang, and he might have been thrown back into the gulf entirely, but the Fil-Am defenders ultimately had to withdraw because other Japanese elements were threatening to cut the coast road behind them. In this scenario, that dynamic is represented through initiative chips. The Fil-Am forces have one permanent chip, but it's lost as soon as a good-order Japanese squad exits the board behind them, toward the coastal road.

We kicked around various refinements to the rules which might make the game better, (seemingly an endless process, but the results are worth it). Next time we play this one, we'll see how it goes.

This is the first of eight scenarios covering the Fall of the Philippines. The next represents the very first tank-on-tank fight for US forces in WWII, when M3 Stuarts of the 192nd Tank Rgt. faced Japanese armor at Agoo. This link has that story:

In a later scenario, Lt. Ramsey's famous charge at Morong (the U.S. Army's final horse-cavalry charge ever) will be represented.

Jonathan Tristram Miller.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Banzai! Fireball Forward and the Pacific War

Last night the lead elements of the Ichiki Detachment clashed with a combat patrol from the 1st Marines west of Henderson Field. The Marines, led by Captain Charles Brush (played by Doug Austin), had a report that a Japanese patrol was headed his way and set his command of two under-strengthed rifle platoon and a machine gun section in a cordon defense to prevent Japanese infiltrators from reaching the airfield. The north part of his line covered two trails that led through a coconut grove while one platoon covered the jungle to the south. The Marines hunkered down and waited with fingers on triggers for the Japanese to appear. The platoon guarding the coconut grove (played by Bruce Weigel) decided to move out and either clear the area or make contact. They were making steady progress with no sign of the enemy until suddenly the sound of rifle fire broke out from the jungle to the south. The lead elements (played by Tom Garnett) from the Japanese force had entered the jungle in an attempt to outflank the Marine position. Here they ran into the USMC platoon commanded by Lt. Jacym (played by Latham Fell). Lt Jacym had been moving through the jungle himself and in doing so got his platoon strung out and disorganized in the unfamiliar terrain. But luckily one squad was in position to meet the Japanese. A firefight erupted which drew more Marines towards the action. Just then Capt. Shibuya (played by Tim Tilson) burst into the jungle leading two squads of crack troops. (see photo above) After firing a quick volley, Shibuya screamed BANZAI! and led his men forward into close combat with the Americans. A few BAR men in the jungle opened up on the screaming mass of Japanese but the fury of the charge was not to be stopped. Shibya's men overran the Marine squad giving them the bayonet. Stunned by this assault the Marines were unable to react and the lead elements of Colonel Ichiki's Detachment successfully navigated their way through the jungle and on to Henderson Field. Captain Brush realized that his line had been penetrated and decided to retire back to the Marine perimeter.

So went the first Pacific War scenario using Fireball Forward. Everyone had a great time and agreed that the game 'felt' like it was a Guadalcanal fight. Up until now we have been playing mainly Normandy, Russia and Sicily scenarios. Although they each have unique terrain features they are similar. Normandy had hedgerows, Russia has thick woods and fields and Sicily has cactus hedges....but other than that they are the same. Guadalcanal is totally different. Jungle, Coconut groves, Banyan trees, Kunai Grass and bare slopes all conspire to make the environment of the fighting a completely different experience than Europe and Russia. In fact that was the case during the war...the US was unprepared to fight in the jungle, at least at first.

Our goal in Fireball is to get at that 'feel' of a totally different environment without having to create alot of new or special rules. We are trying to tackle this as we develop the main rules and not do the Pacific as an afterthought in a supplement created later. The rules should work across the board for all types of terrain. (Which is why I am preparing to do North Africa scenarios next...North Africa being another place with totally different terrain challenges.) I think the way we are approaching Guadalcanal terrain is working and in the end we will have a great set of rules for jungle and a fun Guadalcanal scenario book. I also plan to try out some later Pacific stuff (Tarawa or Iwo) to make sure that works. And Jonathan Miller is creating a scenario book of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, 1941. Can't wait!

Happy Thanksgiving!


PS - We do have rules of Banzai charges which everyone loved...even as I was explaining them the gamers could hardly wait to try them. (Eyes widened and I swear I saw the Japanese players starting to drool.) Congrats to Tim Tilson for launching the first successful Banzai charge of Fireball Forward!