Alternative Titles/Edition History:
Version 1.0, 1995; Version 2.0, 1998; Version 2.01, 1998; Version 2.1, ?; Version 2.11, ?; Version 2.12, ?; Version 2.5, 1999; Version 3.0, 2012; Version 3.1 (aka Platoon Leader 2014), 2014
Critical Hit (Version 1.0, 1995; Version 2.0, 1998; Version 2.5, 1999; Version 3.0, 2012; Version 3.1, 2014)
Country of Origin:
The Platoon Leader rules, designed by Steven Swann (later versions were developed by Kurt Martin), were an attempt to create “generic” campaign game rules that could be used not only by Critical Hit designers in their historical modules, but by any designer. This was a very ambitious undertaking that had more than its fair share of problems that needed to be worked out. The original rules were not complete enough and gave rise to all sorts of questions and complaints. A second version of the rules were released some years later, but these too had problems. The attempt to fix them led to a hasty series of partial revisions before, eventually, a “mature” version of the rules, Version 2.5, finally arrived. This version does leave some holes, but on the whole is playable (though the rules are poorly organized). The rules can be used for historical maps or for geomorphic mapboards. In 2012, after a gap of more than a decade, an updated (V3.0) version of the rules was finally released by Critical Hit–at an outrageous price. This was followed with a prettier, more reasonably-priced version in 2014 (V3.1).
The evolution of the rules went something like this:
- Version 1.0. Standalone product. Includes ? pages of rules, Chapter Divider, and five campaign games, all played on geomorphic mapboards rather than historical maps:
PL A (Hills of Arakan) Burma 1945 (British vs. Japanese).
PL B (Counter-Landing at Koromokina Lagoon) Bougainville 1943 (USMC vs. Japanese).
PL C (Decision at Safi) Morocco 1942 (U.S. vs. French).
PL D (Easter at Tobruk) North Africa 1941 (Australian vs. German). Re-released as a stand-alone product in 2012.
PL E (Frozen Hell) Finland 1939 (Finns vs. Soviets). Re-released in a new version in Critical Hit Magazine Volume 5, Number 1.
There were other Platoon Leader campaigns in this “series” released later:
PL F (Arakian Rose), Burma 1945 (British vs. Japanese). Appeared in Critical Hit Magazine #3. Not the same as PL A.
PL G (Cemetery Hill) Crete 1941 (British vs. Germans). Appeared separately as a “Platoon Leader Booster Pack.” Re-released in 2012 as part of Platoon Leader 3.0 (see below).
PL H Lost Sentinels, appeared in Gembloux: The Feint. Belgium 1940 (French vs. Germans).
- Version 2.0. Standalone product. Includes 8 pages of rules (designed to fit into a 3-ring binder), Chapter Divider, and the Sunrise Bridge Campaign Game.
- Version 2.01. Downloadable rules. Rules set only.
- Version 2.1. Rules set only. Available for free (at that time) by contacting Critical Hit.
- Version 2.11. Downloadable rules. Rules set only.
- Version 2.12. Rules set only. Included in Critical Hit Magazine Volume 5 Number 1.
- Version 2.5. Standalone product. Includes 24 page rulebook, charts (some copies may have been released with the Sunrise Bridge Campaign Game as well).
- Version 3.0. Standalone product. Includes 18 page rulebook and charts. Also includes the Cemetery Hill campaign game (although the required overlays were missing from the review copy).
- Version 3.1 (aka Platoon Leader 2014). Standalone product. Includes 16 pages of color rules (loose-leaf, with holes punched for inclusion in three-ring binders), “chapter divider” set of charts/tables. No campaign games included.
Luckily, later versions of the rules are backwardly compatible with older campaign games.
Once version 2.5 came out, with many of the bugs worked out, the rules system became useful. Over the years, a number of ASL designers (Paul Kenny, in particular) have used these rules to create Platoon Leader campaigns. It is also nice that Critical Hit made the rules available for free, as this allows people to play all of the campaign games that appear in Critical Hit’s various historical modules, without having to shell out extra money.
The Platoon Leader 2.5 rules have been translated into Spanish at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/fileinfo.php?fileid=5183.
In 2012, Critical Hit finally released an updated version of the Platoon Leader rules, dubbed Version 3.0, for the outrageous price of $49.95 (twice the price of Platoon Leader 2.5). For this gouging, purchasers got only a 24 page rulebook, a couple of charts, and a single campaign game (the copy that was used for this write-up was missing the required overlay sheet and Critical Hit has not yet sent a replacement). It is not clear why only one CG was included, when so many were available for inclusion.
In 2014, Critical Hit created yet another version of Platoon Leader, officially called Platoon Leader 3.1 but marketed on Critical Hit’s website as “Platoon Leader 2014.” To add to the confusion, the product ships with the Version 3.0 cover sheet, meaning that it is difficult or impossible to tell which version a particular copy might actually be, unless one can physically inspect the contents.
Version 3.1 is a rules-only product, not containing even a single campaign game to go along with the base Platoon Leader rules. The rules themselves are printed in color on loose-leaf paper with holes punched in the pages for inclusion in three-ring binders; they are attractively done. There are apparently only slight changes from the actual text of the 3.0 rules (fixing typos); the differences are basically simply in presentation. So there is not necessarily a pressing need for an owner of 3.0 to upgrade to 3.1 except for the fact that it is better looking. One page of the rules contains a list of Platoon Leader campaign games, but it should be noted that it is not a complete list. Version 3.1 also contains the charts and tables in a fold-out “chapter divider” style, which is also an improvement.
Overall, it is not a bad job (except for the lack of any included campaign). It has a nicer look than Version 3.0 and is also significantly cheaper. So it is certainly worth considering.
Mark Drake says
Found PL 1.0 to be the best of the lot as these were done by Steve Swann ; very high replay value ,especially Koromokina Lagoon.
Steven Swann says
Version PL 1.0 was originally written using the Red Barricades CG as a model. It was also written at that time as a submission to Avalon Hill who were the ASL publishers at that time. Before it could be fully developed Avalon Hill closed down the ASL line to Hasbro… thus it was never tested. My biggest mistake was believing that Critical Hit would spend the time to develope it. Instead it was published without development.
ASL’ers… please accept my apoligies.