Dan Wade reports on a demonstration game of Charlie Don't Surf that he put on at the Call to Arms show in August 2015. A beautiful set-up and great looking game:
Well the big day finally came. I am glad to say that I am really happy with the response I had from fellow gamers and the general public, who stopped by to have a chat or to just take a photo.
The game did not go through to a conclusion. I really like the rules but would make a few changes next time I try them out. I felt that the VC should have one level higher of cover than we used but this may be in the rules already. I might have missed this in the rules like a couple of other parts I did not know well enough. I would also allow points for the truck getting destroyed and would set a turn length at 10. I would also only count VC casualties when you have US troops on the ground. i.e. not those caused by Airpower or Artillery.
The scenario was a combination of two of the TFL's scenarios from the Surf's Up compilation.
Fried Rice to Go
The Rice Farm of Grace Kwan (a local TV character) has reportedly been a hotbed of VC activity during the early part of 1965. It has been decided to evacuate the Farm, locate the caches of Rice located in the area and burn the buildings and anything useful to the VC that cannot be evacuated.
There may be some tunnels in the area that require locating and destroying. This area may be used for a Fire Base in the future as it is a defensible location with good road access.
The plan is that the Free World Forces will send in an advance team at dawn to organise the Workers and escort them away from the Farm. This Force will start on the table in the building compound.
The Search Party will advance across the ford and proceed to search the buildings and waste piles for Rice Caches. Anything located will be Air lifted out by the Helicopters on Standby. The buildings will then be set on fire. If any tunnels or VC can be located and also destroyed would be a bonus to the mission.
The force on the left flank will also be searching for any Rice Caches and if any VC caught will also be destroyed.
Forces to be used for the Search and Destroy Mission.
- Bigman plus Kit Carson section and attached Sniper.
Farm Search Party
- Air Cavalry Platoon 1 and attached Flame thrower, Tunnel Rat and truck.
Left Flank Force
- Air Cavalry Platoon 2 plus HMG and Mortar Observer.
- Mortar Platoon
- Marine Hogs
- Air Support
Suspected VC units
- Two small platoons of Main Force VC with snipers, Mortars and HMG's.
- The Farm Workers may have VC sympathies.
Rice Caches can be found by using any number of action dice on a 4+ while remaining stationary next to buildings or farm waste. A success means that the Roof or pile can be lifted to reveal if the VC player has hidden a marker there. (This can only be done by an Infantry Section). If a booby trap card is pulled from the deck immediately after a Cache is discovered then 1D6 hits on section.
Tunnels that are located in the mound area can only be located by a Tunnel Rat. He will remain stationary next to a terrain feature and use his dice to test on a 4+. If a booby trap card is pulled from the deck immediately after it is successfully found then the Tunnel Rat suffers 1D6 hits. The VC player will note where the Tunnel entrance is hidden.
Buildings Burnt Down
Day 1 started off well enough with the advance party of the Kit Carson Scouts entering the village (I was the US player). The 1st Platoon moved slowly to secure their line of retreat but did encounter some resistance from a sniper and a section of VC. On the left hand flank things seem to start well. When two sections of VC along with two LMG's appeared from the rice fields they did serious damage to one section forcing it to retreat, while another section was destroyed. Now as the third section had failed to appear on the table, the Platoon Commander had no other option to withdraw to the start line.
Things looked so bad that I went through the card deck twice to make sure that I had put the correct amount of US cards in, but found everything was as it should be and put it down to the timing of the cards with a Time Out card controlling turn length.
On Day 2 I had finally started to make some progress into the village and got the Civilians on the move to the river, although I had lost my truck to an RPG. I had also done some damage to the VC on the left flank with my Airpower. At this point I felt that I could start to make some impact on gathering some points as the VC were leading 28 points to my 13. However my opponent decided that as it seemed unlikely that he could stop the Green Machine we should stop the game.
I can only assume what would have happened if we continued. When packing up the terrain later on I found where the rice caches and tunnel were hidden. I think that it was unlikely that I would have found the tunnel placed where it was and would have only found one Rice cache. I may have gotten my flame thrower on in time to burn down some of the buildings so it could have very easily been a draw.
Continuing the Game at Home
I have set up the Demo game as well as I could figure out where everything finished up. The left flank was fairly well documented with photos and notes. The Main attack needed a bit of figuring out as I had not noted the amount of shock points or casualties taken in that area. However when I had packed everything away I had grouped the killed figures together which gave me a starting point.
So restarting at turn six things carried on as before with the main attack slowly moving forward while the left flank reformed to a defensive line. I played two turns but still did not get any more points for the Free World forces other than six killed VC. The VC also killed six but earned twelve points for their efforts.
Hovering he mouse on the picks below will give you a summary of the action:
I feel that I have worked through the game as far as I could reasonably play it. At the end of turn nine I decided to call the game done. The result is still a bit unclear which is quite in theme with the Vietnam War.
I could say the Free World Forces have won with 50 points to 48. What is bothering me is that should I count the refugees as being safely away from harm? There are VC on the same road threatening the HQ which is just managing to defend itself! Only one Rice Cache was found and one building set on fire and both platoons are down to one effective squad. On turn ten I could have set fire to another building but am nowhere near the hill containing the Tunnel complex. I am also short of ground personal to do anything active on the Free World side while the VC can still hit back.
Changing the cover rules to suit the VC and not counting casualties caused by Air Power has made some difference between the VC being effective or just being a speed bump for the Green Machine. I have also learned that it better to use a Big Man's activation points to remove shock points rather than activating units (unless you want to do something urgently). Now I have worked out the wrinkles in the rules and the scenario its probably time to play something else LOL!
A Final Conclusion
I have finally gotten the scenario to a point where I can say that it is done. The US forces have taken the tunnel complex but have failed to find anything of interest (using the CDS chart). All VC resistance has ceased in the area of the farm on the Free Worlds right flank. Any VC on the left rear of the area has either withdrawn or has gone to ground. The Free World forces have only found one rice cache out of the suspected three, but has razed the Farm complex to the ground and removed the civilians from the area.
The game took three full days of gaming at home plus the two short days at the convention. I feel that the rules are not really designed for a game of this size so it would be unfair to judge them on that. I have been playing the last couple of sessions using dice to determine the units orders rather than using the cards. I will write these up once I have sorted out a couple of things that have been bothering me, such as the random events you get when using cards.
After the game I started to rearrange the table as if the Free World forces have been there for a week, and have been clearing trees to make space for Helicopter pads as well as other improvements. I also extended the playing area to give the VC some space to work in.