On Sunday morning we met at the club to play a new battle with Charlie Don't Surf, the TooFatLardies Vietnam-era wargaming rules. This was our fourth game and most of my gaming mates seemed now quite familiar with the mechanisms and are progressively turning their attention to tactics. The other piece of news is that (at last!!!) I did not act as umpire and I could finally play a full game. Not that I dislike umpiring, but after three games I was eagerly looking to take a command.
The scenario this time was not a mainstream search and destroy operation: a US helicopter had crashed near the Cambodian player, next to a well identified supply trail of the Vietcong, and the the American player was in a race against the clock to locate the crash site, blown the remants and rescue the survivors or their bodies.
The map layout is presented in the following illustration, indicating also the US main forces entry point (to the East) and the area were the last radio contact with the helicopter took place (a may-day signal).
The game resulted into two different actions, as we will see: the rescue mission itself, undertaken by a highly trained special commando force (LRRPs), and a major (and bloody) battle between the US infantry elements coming in support of the commando team and some Vietcong forces aiming to infiltrate in South Vietnam.
The first turn saw the first LRRP commando team (me!) with five soldiers, a big man level IV and three blinds (2 dummies) getting inserted by helicopter in the enemy territory. There were three different sites where the helicopter might have fallen indicated by blank blinds; we chose as our LZ a cleared area next to the blank blind located southernmost. My plan was to search in that area with one of my blinds (a small recon patrol) and send the main force fast to the other two areas.
The blank blind was successfully spotted unveiling some debris, probably of a previous mission, but not our helicopter. The commando leader then ordered two teams to move south along the river while the third covered the rearguard, as increasing Charlie activity was detected in the area.
Some Vietcong forces were approaching in blinds rapidly. The US blind took a defensive position at the other side of the bridge, and this forced the first VC blind to deploy on the table (automatic spotting). The VC player then stopped to rearrange his column in order to attack with full force the enemy in front...
....providing some breathing space to the rest of the commando teams to arrive to the other two possible crash sites.
The VC squad charged the US blind, only to find nothing (a dummy blind, or a patrol that had successfully escaped and rejoined the main team force) giving an additional extra-turn for the rest of the commandoes to recon the crash sites. In the meantime, in the light of increasing VC activity in the area, the team leader radioed home base and requested reinforcements (2 additional LRRP teams).
A second US blind (another patrol/dummy) uncovered the second blank blind, which was not the crash site but remained in a forward position to retard the arrival of a second VC unit, forcing an automatic spotting and then again disappearing when the enemy got close enough...
... while the main commando force finally arrived at the crash site, finding the whole helicopter 4-man crew only slightly injured (incidentally, I introduce in this photo our latest painted model, a 1/48 Huey; some details still to be finished).
With the crew safely rescued, the commando team mined the helicopter and then run to the top of the ridge to join with the reinforcements LRRP teams just arrived.
The VC forces in their rush to try capturing the American elements forgot to take any cover, being caught in the open by the three commando teams that opened fire from the top of the ridge at short range, causing a bloody carnage among the enemy ranks and suppressing them for the rest of the turn.
And that was basically it in this part of the table: in the remaining turns, the first team escorted the helicopter crew towards the eastern edge of the table, while the other two teams retreated slowly by echelons covering the rearguard of the first team in case of the VC advancing too close.
At the other side of the table, a different battle was brewing. In principle, the idea was that a full infantry Company supported by a mortar battery, would enter the table after the 4th turn to help in the rescue operation undertaken by the LRRP teams.
What happened finally was that the Vietcong players, once they realised that the main objective was lost (capturing the helicopter crew) , decided to go for a secondary mission, consisting in crossing the table along the Ho-Chi Ming trail to infiltrate in South Vietnam.
The Americans seeing the VC blinds approaching the US entry edge (and later I knew, the VC tactical edge too), moved their forces aiming to cut the movement of the enemy. At some point, one the VC blinds emerged from he jungle area and ambushed an American platoon...
... enabling two other VC units to escape into South Vietnam, but placing themselves in a very bad position, at the bottom of a valley and surrounded by three US infantry platoons on the crest of the ridges around.
The VC platoon was charged and routed...
...and being defeated with heavy casualties, they could only surrender.
It was at this point that the umpire decided to conclude the game, with the US players achieving a massive: in addition to accomplishing our main mission, we denied the VC from fulfilling his secondary objective conditions (retiring more than 60% of their troops through their tactical edge) while inflicting a significant amount of casualties.
Overall I'm quite happy with the game and personally with the way that I handled my troops in conditions of local overwhelming superiority of the VC players (initially facing two full platoons with my 5-man LRRP team!!). Good lessons learned about the effective use of blinds to cover your main force flanks and to delay enemy movements, as well as practising the hit and run tactics (quite useful when playing VC, which is my preference in CDS because of the challenge).