Last Sunday we started our eagerly anticipated Vietnam autumn-winter game season at the club. As frequent readers of this blog know, we play with Charlie Don't Surf rules from the TooFatLardies factory.
Most of the players gathering yesterday were already familiar with the rules; but as it's been a long time since our last game, I decided to go for a "warm up" exercise before moving into a more complex level of simulation. For that reason I decided to use the first scenario of CDS' companion book Surf''s Up, which makes a truly nice introductory game.
I thought to have everything ready on Saturday night for the game, but unfortunately problems started to mount as soon as I arrived to the club. To make a long story short, due to refurbishment works at the club during the summer, most of the scenery materials were stored in some of the members homes and the Vietnam boxes have not been returned yet.
And as you will see in the attached photo, with the few material available we could just mark the boundaries of the jungle areas and not exactly with rainforest trees but with pine trees!!!...A very poor gaming table, well below the level reached by other games in the past. ...and as one of the US players said "I feel like in an exercise in the Madrid Sierra, not chasing Charlies in the jungle"
I stop complaining now and return to the battle report.
Context: the US player mission was to control a village located in a valley and currently "under management" of the Vietcong forces, and to deny the enemy of the rice catches presumably stored (and hidden) in the area. A sensu contrariothe VC player mission was to avoid loosing the food stores and to make as many casualties as possible (30% for a decisive victory) to the Free World Forces.
The US player played with a full infantry company, supported by half-battery of 105mm howitzers (off table) directed by an artillery FOO . The VC player had two VC platoons, a heavy MG company and an untrained cadre of local irregulars. The VC could deploy hidden anywhere in the area and would have two bunkers and 12" trench line camouflaged in the edge of the surrounding forests.
The initial deployment is shown in the chart on the left, below.
Due to fear of mines and bobby traps, the US player decided to move through difficult terrain, entering the table from the east and moving through the jungle area . The VC player deployed hidden in the areas marked, except for a blind in the rice fields, representing a dummy blind: i.e. a small scouting and observation team with the mission to unveil the US forces under blinds as early in the game as possible.
In fact the US blind in the road was also a dummy blind and was spotted already in the first turn, immediately disappearing from the table (meaning that a small US recon patrol regrouped with its main unit after positive detecting Charlie activity in the village).
Most of the key game action concentrated in the south-eastern area of the table. There, one careless US platoon was ambushed in the second turn by one of the VC regular units defending a trench, causing several casualties and breaking the moral of one of its four squads, leaving the table totally shaken.
Even in such early stage, but at that moment the balance of the game was clearly tilting towards a potential VC victory. However, the communist forces carried away by the euphoria of an easy victory, instead of firing again over the demoralised US units from the cover of the trench, decided to charge and initiate a close combat to capture some prisoners... and this proved to be a fatal mistake!
Despite the VC being in clear better shape, the US forces had a substantial superior firepower thanks to the LMG support unit and also had a better command structure (a captain and a Lt) versus none of the VC. The result of the melee was 6 KIAs and numerous shocks on the VC that broke ranks and took a flee towards the river in the center of the map.
Without any real capacity left to respond and running for survival, the VCs were chased by the other (fully intact) US platoon to the south of the village and the remnants of the victorious US unit in the melee; a few turns later the VC unit was history.
In the meantime, the US unit to the north was cautiously progressing towards the hooches in that area, searching for hidden rice supplies almost unbothered, except from some ineffective fire coming from an HMG in the hill above.
After three hours playing and with lunch time approaching, the umpire (me!) decided to stop the game. On balance, the US forces were clearly on their way to control the village and it was only a matter of time that the rice catches were discovered. On the other hand the remaining VCs were not strong enough to dispute the village to the US players and their only option was to leave the table through their tactical edge (south) and to fight another day.
Therefore I declared a decisive Free World Forces victory.
Friday October 12th is a national holiday in Spain and a second training/rules-refreshing game will probably take place over the long weekend... hopefully after recovering the scenery materials.