After a late email crossing last night, I found enough interest to play another Vietnam game today in the morning with our favourite rules Charlie Don't Surf. As a new player was to be introduced to the game and some of the other gamers have been in the dry dock for several months, I decided to play a simple scenario to refresh the game mechanics, only involving infantry. Browsing Surf's Up (CDS's companion scenario book), I found scenario #7 "County Fair" interesting enough, on top of not having played it yet.
The context is 1967, the operations leading to win the minds and hearts of the population living in areas suspected to be controlled by the Vietcong. The Free World Forces mission is to secure militarily the hamlet of Rang Dong, only to be followed by a civic group with food and medicine supplies.
The map above shows the area of operations. A former French rubber plantation in the north east side, including two colonial brick buildings; typical local hooches are scattered around the rice paddies, at the edge of a thick jungle area.
The FWF comprised two US infantry platoons reinforced with one ARVN regular platoon of three rifle squads and a weapons section. The primary objective is to clear Rang Dong of suspected VC elements (20 points) and avoid any civil casualties (10 points). Given the nature of the mission no artillery or aerial support would be available except in the most dire conditions.
Within the area, the Communist player deploys one VC regular platoon and one local security force (two squads ranked as "obsolete rifles"). Their primary objective is to ambush the FWF at least twice (20 points) and to leave through their tactical edge with at least 75% of its initial forces (10 points) intact.
The map above shows the VC deployment at the start of the game, initially in hidden blinds. The blinds on the left are a dummy blind (with the letter "D") and the main regular VC platoon; those on the right are another dummy and the local security detachment. The tactical edge is on the south and the yellow arrow marks the entry point of the FWF (unknown to the Communist player).
We saw action very early in the game as the FWF deployed in the western edge of the table. They had four blinds, one for each platoon and the remaining a dummy (recon force for those not familiar with the TooFatLardies systems).
Already in turn 2 the VC forces triggered the first ambush, causing a severe shock to one US platoon...
...but instead of retreating after hitting, the VC player decided to use a "Human Wave" card to charge home on the Americans, a move that probably tipped the balance in favour of the FWF players at the end of the game: the two VC squads were almost minced-meat by the Americans with superior fire power despite the casualties suffered in the initial ambush.
The VC platoon was repulsed with heavy casualties and a large number of shocks, rendering it hors combat for the rest of the game. In the meantime, the dummy blind was spotted and out of game, while in the eastern side of the table, the two remaining Communist blinds emerged and moved speedily towards the south.
The rest of the game saw the FWF crossing the line of rice paddies and sweeping the table from West to East. However the VC player was not yet defeated despite loosing one of its platoons (abandoning the table broken through that edge with heavy casualties).
The remaining platoon hide in the jungle on the south using a Di Di Mau card and waited patiently for one of the FWF units to move close enough to trigger a second ambush...
... while placing the dummy blind inside one of the colonial brick buildings to at least slow down the advance of the FWF in the center of the table. A US platoon was duly caught in a second ambush, after which the VC unit moved quickly through its tactical edge, ending the game.
Military victory for the FWF player: 30 points (Rang Dong secured + no civilian casualties) vs 20 points for the Communist player (ambushed twice the FWF forces); the VC forces leaving the table were less than 75% of the total initial force.
Political victory: another clear win for the FWF. The broken VC platoon leaving the table next to the tactical edge left their dead comrades on the field and in addition another 4 were captured by the US forces patrolling the flanks. At the end of the game the US platoon had received 4 kills vs more than 15 killed or captured of the VC units.
As mentioned above, in my view the VC charge early in the game was a risky move and tipped the game in favour of the FWF player; however the Communist player argued in the after game briefing that running in the open field was like playing sitting ducks (considering the higher firepower of the enemy), and therefore it was better to try striking and causing the maximum harm to the US.
Overall a very enjoyable game for all parties involved, complexity-free from the point of view of the rules (no helicopters, no artillery and no armour) but challenging enough as shown today.