In which Captain Bowman goes on one last mission, only to be transferred to a mobile latrine unit at the end of the night. After various playthroughs of the Combat Engineer mission from Surf's Up (a scenario pack for Charlie Don't Surf), the time came for Captain Bowman to have a crack at this mission as part of his ongoing tour of duty last Friday (28th October). As two of the four players had experience of this scenario from both sides, a couple of changes were made to keep things fresh. More of which later.
The US deployed and prepared to advance but already the VC were on the move to their far right! This was the first surprise for those who knew the scenario; namely the deployment and destination of the VC was 'flipped', and it was an apparent joy for the VC player to see the alarm the sudden appearance of several blinds caused the US players. Particualrly when Captain Bowman muttered "I wasn't expecting VC there"...
Lieutenant Kallachek's platoon prepared to enter the jungle whilst the Rome Plow and mine detector squad began to check the road ahead for mines and booby traps. To their rear in this picture are Captain Bowman and a medic.
Now, I'm well aware that the photo does not show a Rome Plow, but a WWII era British armoured bulldozer. If anyone knows where I can source one of these in 1/100 scale or compatible with 15mm miniatures, please shout out, as my Google-fu has failed me!
It's also worth pointing out the second change made to the scenario here. In previous runs, the US engineers had studiously examined the road and clear ground either side once they hadleft their deployment zone. This was a perfectly reasonable course of action given their briefing. This time though, I offered the VC the option of having mines already lying in the road (thanks to the earlier efforts of their peers) in return for limiting some of their initial equipment and potential military victory points at the end of the game. The VC happily leapt upon this option!
To the left of the road, the platoon commanded by Lieutenant Monterey Jack also begin to file into the jungle, where Charlie has apparently begun some timber felling...
The VC CO has clearly been paying attention to the nuggets of Blinds-based wisdom I've been relaying from the TooFatLardies Yahoo group. To the south of the road, Lieutenant Kallachek's platoon spent most of the game clambering though dense jungle in pursuit of a rather insouciant blind that eventually revealed itself to be a just a couple of VC chaps having a dekko, rather than a unit of any significant size.
At the same time, the VC rather boldly had two units out in the open mine-laying. By now, my players are well aware that lingering in the open like this (a Great shot, in TFL parlance) will greatly increase the chances of being mashed! However, the long range nature of US fire and careful use of VC Big Men to remove Shock saw the VC scurry into the jungle north of the road in surprisingly/relatively good order.
By this point, the US had finally requested - and received - mortar support, and an otherwise hesistant Captain Bowman began to walk the fall of shot in hot pursuit of the VC, who now seemed hell-bent on scarpering. Having halted their advance to take pot-shots at the VC sappers, the US renewed their advance across the board; sadly, whilst they actually traveled the furthest that any US force has in this scenario (my players are highly cautious), they still; had a third of the board to cover.
And they still weren't quite far enough to contact the numerous mines scattered in their way.
Post-game discussion hinged on the degree to which the US could achieve their objective of clearing the road. The consensus reached by US and VC players alike was that perhaps the US are too easily distracted by the VC! It was suggested that the Rome Plow and mine detector squad should methodically advance along the road with the remaining platoons covering their flanks, rather than trying to scalp VC, so to speak. The mantra of "Keep It Simple, Stupid" was invoked when considering what would be an appropriate plan. The wisdom of wiser heads than our's would be gratefully received!
As stated at the start, this sadly saw the end of Captain L. Bowman's combat career in Vietnam. Despite showing himself to be an increasingly astute political animal over the course of several scenarios, Ol' Cappy Bowman sadly was out of his depth militarily (mind you, Lieutenant McColl didn't help in one infamous previous encounter!), and was transferred away from his unit.
It appears that he was assigned to a mobile latrine unit for the remainder of his tour, whereupon he then returned to the United States. Bowman had difficulty finding work until someone invented "Health & Safety", at which point his experience of talking his "specialist subject" stood him in good stead. He is are now much in demand from corporations and government departments who really don't care but need to cover their backsides. It was either that or politics...!
As to our real-life Luke Bowman: well-played, Sir! You were clearly getting to grips with how to field your platoons, and definitely understood the importance of getting your Big Men to do their jobs properly. Bad luck too that you were up against the wiliest of wiley opponents, Mr. Smallridge - curse his inscrutable plans and dummy blinds!
Thanks must also go to Doc Neodynium; in the absence of a game on Friday, he kindly took on Dennis Hopper duties and took a few shots of this game and others running at the club. Getting a visual record of games is something I'm terrible at, so it was extremely useful for the Doc to share his!