Sunday, May 2, 2021

"Expect the worst, kid." A multi-optional Vietnam wargame scenario (W.I.P.)

 "When we get to the village, what's gonna happen, Sarge?"

"Expect the worst, kid."

"What's the worst, Sarge?"

"What you don't expect, kid"


The downside of most game scenarios is that both sides usually have a pretty clear idea what to expect. This scenario idea tries to remedy that. It is written with 28mm figures and the Spectre Operations rules in mind, but should be adaptable to other rules and scales. 



It starts....

This scenario starts from the USMC point of view with a patrol marching up to a Vietnamese village in the Highlands, sometime in the late 1960ies. The patrol may be any size, from a squad up to a full platoon. Just find a way to scale up the opposition in such a way that the scenario remains a challenge and will not become either a walkover or a certain defeat. 

The table.

In all cases the table is the same. A marching route leading from the US side of the table across its length to a Vietnamese village situated roughly in the middle of the table. The road up to the village starts in woods, then the terrain opens up to run through into some rice paddies, dotted here and there with a copse of trees or palms, to arrive in the village. The rice paddies are bordered by more woods towards the edge of the table. On the far side of the village the terrain is about the same: rice paddies, a road and woods. One long side of the table might be a river. This might enable marine assets for both parties, but might also limit ambush opportunities. 


The Mission

The US patrol is tasked with inspecting the village on a routine patrol. The village has been visited before. There is no intel indicating any specific danger, but then this is Nam and what was safe yesterday might not be so safe today.....

The patrol has been ordered to engage enemy forces at their discretion, possibly eliminating Vietcong cells and gathering intel on more interesting discoveries. They will retreat in the face of superior hostile forces. The LZ for extraction is off table on their table edge of entry. They have the opportunity to call for artillery support or even air assets which might or might not be immediately available. 

The scenarios

While the US player always starts with the same resources and the same jump-off point, the Vietnamese player must not. He has the choice out of several scenarios which each offer him different resources and objectives and may choose one, unknown to the US player. 

The start of each scenario should be indistinguishable from the start of the others. 

US resources: 

  • Artillery: the US player may radio in Artillery as long as he has a working radio. He may call in an artillery strike on any table location. 
  • Air support: the US player may radio in Air support as long as he has a working radio. He may call in an air strike on any table location. 
  • Medevac: the US player may evacuate wounded in two ways: carry them off table via the US table edge or picking them up by helicopter from the table.  

Scenario 1: Ambush

The village has been thoroughly infiltrated by the VC. Nearly every villager is a dedicated cell member and armed. Weapons are well hidden on their person or in the vicinity  and a number of VC is hiding below ground, waiting to spring the trap at the right moment. 

Special rules

  • The VC have approximately the same strength as the US patrol. 
  • They may place at least two hidden bunkers and six hidden tunnel exits on the map. 
  • They may then allocate any number of troops to each and any of these locations. 
  • On top of that, any number of the visible Vietnamese peasants may also be VC. These have to be indicated in writing beforehand so as to prove the locations and peasant figures are indeed VC. 
  • VC may also be hidden in houses or numbered locations on the table.  
  • The VC player does not get any reinforcements in this scenario. 
  • Possible locations for bunkers, tunnel exits and places where VC might hide may be Spotted by the US player. 
  • Peasants may be Spotted (as VC if they are) within 2 inches.  
  • The VC has orders to inflict as much damage as possible on the US patrol, take prisoners if possible and retreat in the face of superior hostile fire power.

Victory conditions

US Patrol: 1 point for each US trooper evacuated alive (unharmed or wounded). 1 point for each VC trooper killed or captured. 
VC: 1 point for each US trooper killed. 2 points for each US trooper captured alive

Test game: to be reported.

Scenario 2: Patrols meet

The patrol encounters enemy resistance in the form of VC and NVA occupying some hidden positions at the Vietnamese side of the table  and gradually filtering onto the table from the Vietnamese table edges. This is a Vietnamese patrol of about equal strength as the US. They lack real artillery support but have the benefit of occupying a number of hidden positions on the table at the start of the game. They might have a mortar or two off-table at their disposal. 

The Vietnamese player has orders to engage enemy forces at their discretion, possibly eliminating US patrols and gathering intel on more interesting discoveries. They will retreat in the face of superior hostile forces. 

Special Rules

  • The VC player has the same amount of troops as the US player. He may deploy from any or all of the Vietnamese table edges. 
  • The VC player may place at least two hidden bunkers and six hidden tunnel exits on the map from his short table edge onwards up to the US edge of the village. 
  • The VC player may not allocate troops to these locations at the start of the game. He may however use them durig the game and use the tunnels for movement.  
  • The VC player does not get any reinforcements in this scenario. 
  • The VC player may attempt to call in mortar strikes once per turn as long as he has a working radio. This will succeed on a roll of 4+ on a D6. 
Victory conditions

US Patrol: 1 point for each US trooper evacuated alive (unharmed or wounded). 1 point for each VC trooper killed or captured. 
VC: 1 point for each US trooper killed. 2 points for each US trooper captured alive

Test game: to be reported.

Scenario 3: Weapon stash

The village includes a large VC weapon stash and is actually an important logistical hub in the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The stashes will be easily found once the US enters the village and starts searching houses. The VC has been alerted to the US patrol rather belatedly and has just had the time to post some ambush VC troopers amongst the villagers at work in and around the village. The rest of their troops is hidden in and around the village. Their aim is delaying the US patrol while transporting the stashes off table by any means necessary. 

Special Rules

  • The VC have approximately the same strength as the US patrol. 
  • They may place at least two hidden bunkers and six hidden tunnel exits on the map. 
  • They may then allocate any number of troops to each and any of these locations. 
  • On top of that, any number of the visible Vietnamese peasants may also be VC. These have to be indicated in writing beforehand so as to prove the locations and peasant figures are indeed VC. 
  • VC may also be hidden in houses or numbered locations on the table.  
  • The VC player does not get any reinforcements in this scenario. 
  • Possible locations for bunkers, tunnel exits and places where VC might hide may be Spotted by the US player. 
  • Peasants may be Spotted (as VC if they are) within 2 inches.  
  • The VC has orders to inflict as much damage as possible on the US patrol, take prisoners if possible and retreat in the face of superior hostile fire power.
  • Peasants and VC alike may move weapons cache units off the table via the short Vietnamese table edge. Place the figure in contact with the unit. The figure moves at normal walking speed. Ox drawn carts move at normal human walking speed. 
Victory conditions

US Patrol: 1 point for each VC trooper killed or captured. 1 point for each unit weapons cache destroyed or captured. 
VC: 1 point for each US trooper killed. 2 points for each US trooper captured alive. 2 points for each unit weapons cache removed from the table

Test game: to be reported.

Scenario 4: Surprise! 

Inspired by the events at -and the great movie about- the events at Long Tan the patrol encounters enemy resistance in the form of VC and NVA occupying some hidden positions at the Vietnamese side of the table and gradually filtering onto the table from the Vietnamese table edges. These are the vanguard of a strong offensive, much stronger than the patrol, supported by armour and mortars. 

The Vietnamese player has orders to take possession of the table, drive off any US forces to use the village as a jump-off point for further attacks. 

The US patrol will have to choose between their orders to engage and gather intel or their orders to retreat and perhaps miss a clue to warn HQ of an imminent attack. 

Special Rules

  • The VC player may have up to three times the starting forces of the US player in terms of manpower on the table at any given time. On top of that, the VC player may field 3 tanks and call in mortar strikes on any part of the table as long as he has a working radio. The VC has serious superiority here. 
  • The VC player may start with as many (or as few) troops on the table as he wishes, abiding by the above rule. In subsequent turns he may roll for reinforcements. On a 1-4 he may deploy a maximum of 2 squads from any of the Vietnamese table edges. On a 5-6 he may do this as well or deploy a tank instead, up to a maximum of 3 tanks at any given time. The VC player has unlimited reinforcements. 
  • The VC player may place three hidden bunkers and six hidden tunnel exits on the map. 
  • The VC player may then allocate any number of troops to each and any of these locations, while abiding by his troop maximum. 
  • The US player can gather intel by first: 
    - capturing a VC prisoner and escorting him off the table
    - spotting at least twice the number of VC troops as he as himself
    - spotting an enemy tank. 
    and then: 
  • He will either have to radio this to HQ and get confirmation, or extract himself via his table edge. 
  • Confirmation by radio will require a 4+ roll on a D6, immediately following the radio transmission. When failed, the transmission will need to be repeated in the next turn. 
Victory Conditions

  • The VC player gets 1 point for each US trooper killed and 2 points for each US trooper captured. 
  • If the VC player succeeds in driving the US troops off the table or killing and/or capturing all of them before the US player can Gather Intel he automatically wins. 
  • The US player gets 10 points for Gathering Intel and passing it on to HQ. 
Test game: to be reported.


General Special Rules

Tunnels and Tunnel exits

Moving through tunnels: 

Units can move from tunnel exits to tunnel exits unseen. The player notes the number of the starting point and the number of the exit. Units moving through tunnels move at normal (walking) speed, measured in a straight line from tunnel exit to tunnel exit.   

A wise VC player measures the distances between tunnels beforehand, as measuring them during the game might give him away. Or be a devious piece of psychological warfare...... 

Appearing from a tunnel exit/entering into a tunnel: 

Exiting a tunnel through the narrow exits can be time-consuming. Only D6 troopers may exit a tunnel per turn and start their move from the tunnel exit. Any Heavy weapons cannot be used in this same turn but have to be set up first. The same goes the other way around, when entering a tunnel. D6 may enter per turn. Heavy Weapons that have fired in that turn may only enter the next turn. 

Locating a tunnel exit

Tunnel exits were well hidden. They can only be located at ranges within 2 inches through a succesfull Spotting.

Destroying tunnel exits

Tunnel exits can, once Spotted, be eliminated by a grenade that collapses the tunnel exit. Remove the exit from the table. It can no longer be used.  Troops Hidden at that location will become casualties. 

Secret locations

The easiest way to locate Hidden positions on the table is to place a large number of numbered stones on the table. Use at least 30 or more. These look like rocks and will blend into the terrain while still remaining easily identifiable. The player using the Hidden positions may place the stones before the game starts. 

The stone itself is not the hiding place. Place the stones near a terrain feature that may hide something, like a copse of trees, a building or a bomb crater. This is where the Hidden unit will appear.Agree beforehand where troops can hide and where not. Hiding in the middle of a road for example seems awkward. to say the least.  

He then writes down the number of the position he hides something in and what is hiding there. When revealed, he needs to be able to show this to his opponent to prove. 

A successful Spotting reveals the location. It does not reveal the number or nature of troops hiding there unless the Spotting troops have Line-of-sight into the Location. 

Be reasonable about this. For example, if the US player Spots a Hiding place in a copse of trees that contains Vietnamese troops, he will know there are troops there. Just not the type and precise number of them. Place one random miniature there to indicate the troops are Spotted but not yet identified. 

Hidden Troops

Any Activation of Hidden Troops reveals them, except in the case of communication by radio and movement by tunnels. 

A location can only hold so much Hidden troops. So the number of troops is limited depending on a location: 

  • Copse of trees: a squad or heavy weapon
  • Building: two squads or one squad and a heavy weapon or two Heavy weapons.
  • Bunker: a squad or heavy weapon
  • Tunnel: Three squads  (but see above). Substitute one squad for a Heavy weapon. 
  • Crater: a squad or heavy weapon
  • One-sided terrain feature: like the far side of a wall. Troops hiding behind a one-sided terrain feature will be visible as soon as the enemy has line of sight on the numbered rock, which also indicates the side where the troops will hide. This terrain feature can hide as many troop bases as fit behind it without showing. 
    One-sided terrain features are also the only way to Hide a tank. 

2 comments:

  1. The Vietnam war was a shit show of a war. Arguably all wars are to some extent or another, but as a wargamer some of the most enjoyable games I've ever played have been Vietnam games.

    This is probably down to the cultural touchstones that the war gave us from films like Platoon and Apocalypse Now, which gave us Wagner's Ride the Valkyries and Charlie Don't Surf.

    Yeah, I get it that most normal people don't get it, but we are not normal, but player's of wargames.

    This is wargaming, this is madness!

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    1. Wars in general are shitshows. I wouldn't want to be in one. Yet wargaming is to me an enjoyable simulation of human conflict and as such infinitely better than the real thing. Enjoying this is a paradox and everyone is free to have a problem with that of course. But I agree with you. Wargaming is enjoyable and the Vietnam period is fascinating for myriad reasons.

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