"You crazy Muttha! That ain't no Zip, it's a pig! What fool cried Zips in the Goddam Wire when it was a pig? What kinda jibber jabber is that?"
Two flares floated slowly down, illuminating the open ground that surrounded the outpost. The body of the pig was clear to see, or what was left of it after Sergeant Baracus had fired off the two claymores that we on the bases' northern perimeter.
"Johnson, you fool, can't you read or write? PIG has a P and an I like in the word ZIP, but there ain't no G, it's a Z, and the letters are in a diffren' order! I will bust your Goddam good for nutthin ass…."
The explosion brought the Sergeant's tirade to an end as a thirty yard section of wire exploded precisely where the pig had been.
"Holy Sh…the pig is a zip! The goddam pig is a goddam zip!"
Moments later another forty yards on the western perimeter went up, but here there was no pig, just eighty NVA moving rapidly through the mangled wire. On the edge of the Camp Lieutenant Templeton "Face-Man" Peck looked at the tribesmen who made up his platoon. For a seemingly endless second they stood transfixed by the horror of the moment, then the NVA hit the trip wires and 700 steel balls from each of the two claymores tore through their ranks at 1200 metres a second. The CIDG began firing.
Commander Phun Ki Tan could taste the earth as he involuntarily found himself attempting to force his body into the iron-red soil. He could hear the sounds of a machine gun now added to the popping of the rifles, and feel the rounds passing over his back. What, he wondered, would Uncle Ho do in this situation?
Across to his right Colonel `Hannibal' Smith could see the squad of ARVN Rangers were deploying hand fired flares out to the north. Their Sergeant was waving forwards the jeep with the 106mm Recoilless Rifle which, he had no doubt, would be loaded with a Beehive round. At least he could rely on the northern wall holding with the Rangers there. All along the fire positions around the earth wall that protected the outpost he could see men of the A Team working with the CIDG troops, encouraging them with words, maintaining their own steady and accurate fire. It would be a close, but it looked like the first attack was already faltering.
Comrade Tan stood up. He felt like it was a crazy thing to do but he controlled his fear.
"There are two kinds of men in this field; those who are dead and those who are going to die. PAVN 29th Regiment, lead the way!" and with that he ran towards the fire that was sweeping down the gentle slope towards his men.
Tan did not look back as he ran, but he knew that his men were following him. He fired as he ran, wildly, inaccurately, but in doing so his nerves calmed. Already he could see the Chinese stick grenades falling ahead of him; already he could see some of his enemy hesitating and falling back.
The struggle was brief, bitter and bloody, but the human wave of two NVA platoons was too much for the two CIDG squads to withstand. They broke before the tide of humanity engulfed them, falling back to the trenches on the eastern edge. For a moment the crews of the three mortars found themselves in the front line, firing away with their carbines before they too fell back, abandoning their pieces.
The blast from the Beehive round illuminated the compound for a split second. The hundreds or tiny flechettes shredded the second NVA platoon, halting their advance. In the mortar pit, at the very head of their advance Phun Ki Tan lay on the edge of death; a lucky shot from the M1 carbine of an ARVN mortar man lodged in his skull. He smiled to think that he would be a hero of Vietnam; that his own children, and then their children in turn, would read of his great victory and death for their homeland. Tan could not see it, but to his right the 1st NVA Platoon was struggling to overcome the CIG troops on the eastern side of the compound. As they advanced, screaming their challenge, they were met by an A Team Sergeant who was famed for his Bad Attitude. A hail of bullets from the M60 crewed by Sergeant Baracus was enough to send them back behind the radio shack.
From behind him the detonation of the two claymores that covered the main gate heralded a fresh challenge for `B.A.' Baracus. For a moment another NVA Platoon hesitated with the shock of the blast, but Hung Lo, a respected leader of the PAVN, brought forward two of his squads, surging over the earth wall and dropping in among the CIDG. A single round of 7.62mm brought the big Sergeant to his knees, and resistance crumbled as the remnants of the CIDG platoon dragged the big man clear and headed out for the treeline. Colonel Smith was on the radio.
"Broken Arrow, I repeat, Broken Arrow. Fire on my position"
Sergeant Chin of the ARVN Rangers fired from his position on the eastern slope of the earth bank. His men were repositioning the claymores to face the camp; if Charlie intended to follow he would meet with a surprise. Slowly, checking that the CIDG and their wounded were clear, the Rangers withdrew a man at a time back towards the treeline, just in time to see the first 155mm rounds landing in the camp.
This turned out to be a very interesting playtest and a real nail biter. As a night action there was lots of close combat, mainly very one-sided in terms of numbers, but actually very even in combat odds.
Four platoons of NVA with mortar support and a platoon of Sappers were attacking a CIDG outpost held by 32 CIDG, a three 81mm mortar ARVN platoon, one ten man A Team and a ten man ARVN Ranger squad. They had one jeep mounted 106mm recoilless rifle to bolster their defences. The CIDG platoon was broken down into four 8 man squads armed with obsolete weapons, but who benefited from the attachment of two A Team members to each squad, which bolstered their morale and upped their firepower.
They had a good supply of mortar ammunition and also had three pre-registered fire concentrations on the perimeter and some claymores. The camp was surrounded by an earth bank with fire positions all along it and surrounded by wire.
The NVA Player used his sappers to blow two gaps in the wire, one to the north, and a larger breach to the west. It was in the west that the first attack was launched, with two platoons facing two CIDG squads and a 0.30 cal. After the claymores tore holes in these the CIDG looked like they would stop them, but the NVA used their Human Wave card to rally both platoons and charge them in under the overall force commander. Even so the close combat on the wall was desperately close, the NVA only scraping a win in both cases. Had the Free World player been luckier with his dice the whole attack could have been stopped here. Now, however, with the NVA inside the compound it was much harder to get them out, particularly as two more platoons came rushing in to the attack.
Weight of numbers now obliged the Free World player to abandon the outpost. Losses were actually not as bad as it might sound. My guess is that the CIDG lost ten men, the ARVN Rangers and the A Team none, apart from B.A. Baracus but he has been carried to safety. The NVA lost probably twenty men, but on both sides the Shock of the combat really downgraded both forces, especially bad for the NVA as they lost their main Big Man who could have reorganised them and then followed up pursuing the Free World forces. As it was the arrival of the artillery meant that the NVA grabbed a few papers, captured three mortars and then abandoned the outpost.
The result was a clear military and political victory for the NVA. I was pleased as the night-fighting rule tweaks that I introduced worked perfectly, as did Tom Ballou's "Zips in the Wire" rule suggestion. Thanks Tom, nice one.