October 12th is a national holiday in Spain and what best to celebrate than playing another game in Vietnam. As usual, we used Charlie Don`t Surf from the TooFatLardies factory and its companion scenarios book Surf's Up.
The scenario chosen was "Combat Engineer" and involved an engineer squad supplied with mine detectors with the mission to clear a major road traversing the table west to east. The squad was escorted by two light US infantry platoons (only the rifle sections but not the weapon support section) under command of a relatively newly arrived in-country Captain ("hesitant commander" class).
A routine mission in principle, unknown to the US there was a major VC force lurking in the area, travelling to a major concentration of troops for a surprise offensive on the Free World Forces camped nearby. Their orders were to cross the table in a north-east to south-west direction and whether possible, to mine the metallic road.
The US forces deployed first and out of blinds, entering the table through the west edge, one platoon covering each side of the road and the engineer squad clearing mines on the road itself.
Note: for game purposes we considered the engineers were successful clearing a 6 x 6 inches area by achieving 4 or more on a d6 roll; engineers were activated on their card, had 3 action dice and could act as a rifle squad if the situation got too hot.
The VC player had two infantry platoons and a sapper squad. They deployed in blinds and had two dummy blinds in addition that could be placed anywhere up to 36" on the entry point.
The following chart show the situation at the start of the game:
The red markers at the north-east corner of the map above were the main VC force. The two blinds on the road were dummy blinds (ie., scouting or patrolling units).
Although the scenario did not include any, I decided to introduce a peaceful group of civilians entering the road through the east, probably coming back from the local village market day and leisurely returning home (a hooch located at the west edge of the table).
They moved randomly throughout the game (3d6 + deviation dice) and were activated on the blank card. Initially, they deployed in a blind, creating much confusion (to my amusement) to both players as belonging to neither, they showed to be really concerned about what was going on there. Once both players spotted the blind, the civilian deployed.
This poor group of peasents unexpectedly crossed from time to time the line of fire of the combat units. As the rules state that negative victory points are awarded to players who cause civilian casualties, they had to decide whether to risk or not shooting the enemy when civilians moved nearby.
Returning now to the action, as in many other games the players today seem to forget their orders (and the victory conditions) and instead both hurried to go into direct confrontation. Bad tactics for the Americans, as in this game they were in net disadvantage in terms of fire power (no LMGs) and commanded by relatively weak leaders.
The VC player, making good use of the Di Di Mau card, hide one platoon in the jungle, in the pathway of the American unit moving at the north of the road. The Americans advanced (carefully) towards the other visible platoon (still in a blind) only to be ambushed in short time by the hidden enemy.
One US squad was hors de combat almost immediately and a second severely mauled. But the VC player sensing the scent of blood, decided to bring the second platoon into the fray instead of taking advantage of the situation to move their forces quickly and unmolested towards the exit point (south-west edge of the table).
The VC did not realize that they were losing precious time engaged in a nonsensical fire-fight while the US engineer squad kept moving relentlessly along the road, clearing any potential mines.
Even more astonishing (to me), the VC sent BACK its sapper squad to the eastern edge of the road (opposite to its exit point) to plant a few mines there; not only they were happily giving away their chances of winning the game, but this was basically a useless action as the US engineer would be cleaning that part of the road in a few turns!!
After some initial hesitation, and facing overwhelming odds, the US players seemed to come to their senses. First, the Company commander took control of the platoon in the north side of the road, helping to reduce the level of shock and pulling back from the fire in good order, forming a defensive perimeter along the road bank and protecting the flank of the engineers on the road.
Second, the US platoon south of the road sent a squad to reinforce their beleaguered comrades, while the two remaining sections and the commanding Lt advanced to chase the VC sappers, which they do in short time.
The VC player also seemed to recover some sense and came to realize that the mission was NOT engaging the Free World Forces in combat, but to join their main parent force to take part in the future major offensive. Both VC platoons also disengaged from combat, bypassed the Americans and moved as fast as possible towards the exit point.
A VC squad broken by a fierce attack of the US reinforcement section had to remain in the area, after accumulating so much shock that it could not move of fire with some significant effect. I mention it because, should it had routed and left the table through the north edge, or being caught prisoners, it would have broken the final tie result of the game in favour of the Americans.
The final few turns saw both players rushing to comply with the victory conditions: the US forces clearing the road from mines and the VC leaving the table by the south-western edge.
ame to end and declare a draw. The gross of the VC forces were already reaching the exit point and the Americans had almost finished the road clearing work. In terms of casualties both also presented a tie, the initial advantage of the VCs after the ambush lost when their sapper unit fell to the deadly American M16 fire. And the section stranded in the north, were put under command of a VC big man who managed to maintain the shock level under control, avoiding a the rout of this small force.
A surprisingly simple but really interesting scenario. Both player teams really enjoyed the game and ranked it high in the list of games player so far with CDS. I see some potential to be used as a basic skeleton to develop more complex scenarios, involving airmobile insertions or adding some traps or ambushes to force the US side to play more careful.