Month: July 2010

Battle for Baghdad: Board Game Strategy

Strange Bedfellows – Sunni/Shiite Cooperation in Battle for Baghdad

For both the Sunni and Shiite players in MCS Group’s Battle for Baghdad strategy board game, survival is a minute by minute struggle. Faced with an aggressive U.S. player, both had better be ready to bury the hatchet (somewhere other than in each other’s head) if they are to have a chance at victory. This article discusses a cooperative technique that can be employed by the Sunni and Shiite players, acting in concert, to inflict maximum irritation on the U.S. player while increasing their own chances of survival… and victory.
Battle for Baghdad - Title graphic

The Situation

Part of the Victory Condition requirements for both Sunni and Shiite players is to have at least one Infrastructure unit in an Iraqi National Government (ING) Affiliated Zone. With that in mind, let’s turn to our hypothetical situation. The US player has been wrestling with Al Qaeda in the southern areas of Baghdad and has therefore been unable (or unwilling) to respond to the considerable buildup of Shiite units in Shaab and Hurriyah zones. The Sunni and Shiite players have been having intense, secret discussions during the “Coalition” phase of each turn so, when the Sunni player moves into Baghdad Central, the US player assumes this to be part of an encircling move against the ING Ministries zone.

The ING currently has its hands full trying to maintain control of the Presidential Palace North zone, near Baghdad International Airport, and the Rasheed Int’l Airport zone in southeast Baghdad, both of which are still under ING control, but lightly defended. Seeing that the ING is in no position to withstand a coordinated Sunni/Shiite assault, the US and ING players have decided to allow the US to assume responsibility for defending the ING Ministries zone. Coordinated moves between the US and ING leave a strong US force controlling the Ministries zone, and the ING force has choppered back to the Presidential Palace North zone to avoid conflict with the US (remember that if the US and ING share a common zone at the start of the Combat Phase, they must fight).

Battle for Baghdad - Positions at start of 2nd turn
Figure 1

The next turn begins with forces arrayed as in Figure 1, above.

Required Conditions

Although I’m about to present a series of game actions that absolutely could take place in Battle for Baghdad, I want to point out that I’m only presenting one of an almost limitless range of possible sequences. I find this to be one of the most compelling and interesting aspects of the game. The sequence that I will present is only possible if the following three conditions are all true:

Battle for Baghdad - Required conditions

  • The Sunni or Shiite player gains the Initiative, which will allow them to determine who moves first.
  • The player seating order, going counter-clockwise, puts the US player after the Sunni, but before the Shiite.
  • The Sunni player is in possession of either the Terror Spectacular card or the WMD Arms Bazaar card.

Once all the pieces are in place, the Sunni and Shiite players put the plan into action.

The Plan

The heart of the Sunni/Shiite cooperative plan is the agreement that they will not attack each other’s units, and that they will make a major push to clear ING zones of any US or Iraqi National Gov’t units, thereby clearing the way for one of them (or both of them) to soon be able to declare victory by occupying the required number of zones plus one ING zone.

During the Move Step of the Sunni Player’s Action Phase, he makes one move: a single Security unit moves directly into the American occupied Ministries Zone.

A single Sunni unit moving into the heavily defended Ministries Zone should immediately start setting off alarm bells in the American ranks (see Figure 3). They’ll immediately suspect the Sunni player is holding either the WMD or Terror Spectacular cards.

Battle for Baghdad - The plan
Figure 3

The objective is to either force the US units to abandon the Ministries Zone during their Move Step, or allow them to stand and die there. The American player may suspect that the Sunnis are bluffing, but that’s a hell of a chance to take. If they’re wrong (and we know they are), the end result will be the destruction of eight powerful US Security Units and a reward of 16 Political Points for the Sunnis (since destroying US Units nets the victor double the political points). Since the US player moves before the Shiite player, he’ll have no knowledge of what Shiite plans are.

The Shiite plan is to move his large force of Security units south to the ING Rashid Int’l Airport zone, thus providing a second simultaneous attack on the ING zones critical for victory to both Sunni and Shiite players. But this movement will not take place until after the US player moves. (see figure 4)

Battle for Baghdad - Shiite moves
Figure 4

American Response

What are the US player’s options?

    • A) Helicopter the hell out of there, possibly back to the Airport or Green Zone – At first glance, the safest option. But keep in mind that abandoning an ING zone to either the Shiite or Sunni player can cost him the game in short order. And what if, he wonders, the Sunni is bluffing and does not actually have the WMD or Terror Spectacular card? He’d feel awfully stupid getting bluffed out of a key position like that. On the positive side, with his US units out of the way, he gets to watch the Sunni/Shiite “allies” turn ugly and tear each other to pieces. (figure 5)
Battle for Baghdad - Helicopter out!
Figure 5
    • B) Move aggressively into adjacent, enemy occupied zone – Determined to make the Sunni player pay in blood for the attack, the US player may choose to move into the Sunni affiliated Azamiyah zone. A wise US player will also leave one unit behind in the Ministries zone, so as to insure that the Sunni must play the WMD or Terror Spectacular card in order to guarantee the zone will be cleared of US units. Don’t want to just give that zone up without a fight! (figure 6)
Battle for Baghdad - Aggressive Shiite moves
Figure 6
    • C) Call the bluff and sit tight in the zone – Hope that the Sunni is bluffing and does not actually possess the WMD or Terror Spectacular card. A bold move requiring nerves of steel… and the move the Sunni is desperately hoping for. (figure 7)
Battle for Baghdad - WMD option
Figure 7

The Aftermath

If the US player chooses option “A”, the turn will most likely end with Sunnis and Shiites in control of two out of three Iraqi National Gov’t Affiliated Zones. If the Terror Spectacular/WMD card is actually played, the Shiites will control one ING zone and another will be completed vacated due to the major terrorist attack. Not a good outcome for any of the other players since it may put both Sunni and Shiite uncomfortably close to their victory conditions.

If option “C” is chosen, not only will the outcome be much the same as option “A” results, but the US will have sustained large casualties from the WMD or Terror Spectacular attack, filling Sunni coffers with Political Points to boot.

So, we’ll have to assume that the US player will choose option “B”. And let’s further assume a truly aggressive US player. He sends three Security units into Azamiyah to attempt to take out the Sunnis there. Four additional US Security units are sent into Shaab to punish the Shiites. And one US Security unit is left in Ministries so that the zone is not given up totally without a fight. (As a matter of fact, it will be quite difficult for the Sunni player to win this battle without use of the WMD card due to the fact that US Security units count double in combat and due to the superiority of the US Command Cards)

Following the US moves, the Shiite player decides to stick with the plan and moves all available Security units south to Rasheed Int’l Airport. (see figure 8 for final dispositions after movement)

Battle for Baghdad - Actual game events
Figure 8

Moving into the Combat Phase, let’s assume that the US player defeats the Shiite player handily in Shaab, and that the Shiite player is able to overwhelm the lightly defender Rasheed Int’l Airport zone and assume control there. I believe it would be best for the Sunni player to shift play of the WMD/Terror Spectacular card to Azimiyah, thereby eliminating 3 US units and, more importantly, picking up 6+ Political Points (2 each for the US Security Units destroyed + the value of the US Command Card played, if any). Even though all Sunni units are destroyed in the attack, the Political Point reward will more than pay for replacements.

At turn’s end, we find the US player still in control of the ING Ministries zone, having defeated the single Sunni unit there, and now in control of the Shiite affiliated Shaab zone. The Sunni affiliated Azamiyah zone has been completely cleared by the WMD/Terror Spectacular event. Finally, the Shiite player is now in control of the ING Rasheed Int’l Airport zone, after having lost 3 units fighting the ING defenders there.

On the surface it may appear that the US player is the big winner, since the US still has 5 units remaining of the original 8, while the Sunni player has lost 5 units and the Shiite player has lost 6 units.

Battle for Baghdad - Aftermath of fighting

The counterpoint can be made, however, that the US player was not in control this turn, but simply reacting to enemy actions. The turn ended with the Sunni player accumulating enough victory points to rebuild his losses and then some, and the Shiite player in control of a critical Victory requirement zone (Rasheed Int’l Airport). The following turn will once again find the US player simply reacting to events as he attempts to recapture Rasheed Int’l Airport and reinforce Ministries before someone else attacks the lightly defended zone.


It’s true that in Battle for Baghdad the US is not often defeated on the battlefield. But, as a North Vietnamese Colonel once said, it is also irrelevant. Cooperative play, not just between Sunni and Shiite, is essential to counter an aggressive US player.

The sequence of events described in this article is just one of a myriad of possibilities that may occur in an actual game. The turn might have proceeded in an entirely different direction if:

  • The players were seated in a different order.
  • The Sunni player did not draw the critical WMD or Terror Spectacular card.
  • The US player withdrew from Ministries to Rasheed Int’l Airport, thereby denying that zone as a target for the Shiite player.
  • The Shiite player decided to double-cross the Sunni player and moved units into Azamiyah to attack the Sunni units there.

The replay value of Battle for Baghdad is likely the most outstanding aspect of the game. Although I have touched upon the game’s variability in this article, you must play a full game to truly comprehend it. The allowance of shared victories (i.e. more than one player can possibly meet their victory conditions in the same turn) will absolutely make for “strange bedfellows” from time to time. There are no “standard” moves or alliances that work all the time… or fail all the time… and that variety is what keeps me interested in playing.

Vietnam: 1965-1975 – After Action Report (NLF)

Vietnam: 1965-1975 - After Action Report (NLF)

An NLF Commander Reports

By Scott Cameron

NLF Point of View

I was the NLF commander in a recently completed Vietnam: 1965-1975 campaign game, as Mark D’s opponent. Fortunately, my troops came crashing into Ho Chi Minh city to end this war in the Spring of 1972…

Developing a strategy for playing this game as the NLF can be difficult. Since they won historically, there is a tendency to do what they did but that’s not necessarily a good idea since the Allies will most likely be expecting that & will have their own strategy primed to defeat it. But going with something different risks ignominious defeat as there is likely some reason your “good” ideas weren’t followed by the real NLF!

What I eventually decided to do was to follow a much more passive path than the NLF had historically. I would try to maintain & build up my armies & replacement points, using them to get population shifts, while forcing the Allies to come after me. Historically, the NLF launched repeated offensives which were devastating to Allied morale but also led to massive NLF losses & gave the Allies breathing space to recover their population levels. I wanted to maintain an army for the entire game, keeping a constant downward pressure on the population, while forcing the Allies to come after me. And I wanted to be able to keep units in heavy terrain, in Hold status if I could, to force maximum losses when they did. As his population slipped away he would be forced to attack me & the extra units he’d have to buy & the replacement points he would lose would somewhat offset the morale points he wouldn’t lose to offensives. The I-go, You-go, I-go sequence of the game was a big help here since it would allow me to run units out of the mountains down into the rice paddies at the end of a season where possible & then run them right back out again at the start of the next season. I also wanted to concentrate my “population offensive” on individual provinces, rather than spread out & diffuse the effect. It’s much better to run a few provinces down to 0- than it is to try to get a lot of them down to the mid-range. Once they’re at 0-, they tend to stay there & then the units can be moved to another province to start degrading the population there. So eventually, the map will be checkerboarded with provinces at 0- & others at the maximum with a few “battleground” provinces which are flooded with NLF units & which are headed for 0-. Lastly, I positioned as many VC battalions adjacent to roads as I could, putting them into “Patrol” where possible to keep the Allies from being able fully to use their advantage of mobility.

Mark made a couple of mistakes that tended to play into my strategy but they are both mistakes I had made myself in my previous attempts to play this game. As he noted in his review, he overlooked the importance of sending economic aid to SVN in the early going to drive their morale up. This would have put him on a better column of the population chart & greatly slowed the shifts of population, although at a cost in commitment. He also degraded the effectiveness of the ARVN, using them as cannon fodder for American attacks, something else I’ve tended to do myself in my attempts at playing this game. I think there’s a tendency to disbelieve that you’ll ever get to the point of American withdrawal, since the game is so long, & so you tend to ignore what the ARVN will be like in 1970 because who expects to still be playing then? On the other hand, I have to give him a lot of credit for hanging on so long. The game looked to be over in 1970 with the Americans leaving & the ARVN down to a handful of replacements while several divisions worth of NVA & a big stack of artillery moved inexorably down the coast. But he found a way to slow us down & made it to 1972 & was even picking up population at the end! He ran his search & destroy operations very effectively & was usually able to kill what he went after, or at least make us pay in replacement points. I think the only really important error he made was the one he mentioned about leaving IV Corps after having pacified it. At the end of that turn, with the Corps area flooded with Allied units & with only a scant few VC hiding in the weeds, I was pretty depressed since I foresaw a war that could last till 1975. It would be hard to put any NLF units into IV Corps with all that Allied strength there & the population would gradually shift back to him over time. Had he stayed there, even for a year or so, things could have turned out differently since the NLF would have been almost forced to come out of the hills & start confronting him for territory & I might have had to start the big offensives I was trying to avoid. But instead Mark transferred most of the units out of IV Corps to battlefields in the north & the VC came back right away. Of course, this is what the Americans did historically, at least early in this war–not to mention early in the Iraq War(!), so he had some good company in doing it!

The political rules didn’t play much of a role in our game. SVN was lucky to have few coups & mostly decent leaders. They had the “?” guy for a long time & followed him with Big Minh & Bao Dai. His commanders were very loyal &, in fact, at the end of the game, it would have required a roll of box cars to have a coup. But he was greatly hampered by the utter incompetence of his Chief of Staff. I think Mark did a very good job of moving his divisions around to keep the incompetent commanders in military backwaters or in areas where they could defend in place while the good commanders could attack the bad guys. He always seemed to have lots of ARVN units to throw at us no matter where we were. But his Chief of Staff was a millstone that helped to thwart all of the best efforts of the ARVN.

One thing I disagree with in Mark’s after-action report is about the ARVN Rangers. Even though they’re expensive, I think they’re worthwhile. The +2 movement across the border was a big annoyance throughout the game & definitely had an effect on NLF strategy. Without it, there would have likely been more units in IV Corps & more battles there as well.

I think we all had a good time & I’m already missing playing the game (Vietnam withdrawal!). Victory Games was one of the best game companies ever & this was one of their best games & it was a pleasure to have had the experience to have played it all the way through at least once. Thank you to Mark for suggesting it & to Ron, my co-general, for helping to lead our side to victory. Mark, count me in the next time you want to play it.

Vietnam: 1965-1975 – “Highlanders” (Scenario)

Highlanders – A New Scenario for Vietnam: 1965-1975

The Quest to Control the Central Highlands

Vietnam: 1965-1975 - Scenario

This article contains a new scenario for Victory Games 1984 title Vietnam: 1965-1975. This scenario is not based on any historical Vietnam action or operation, but is meant to provide a fresh introduction to this great game. Unlike many of the original scenarios, it contains some of the strategic aspects of the game as well as providing a challenging and unique operational situation. A few entirely new ideas and victory conditions have been thrown in as well. It is designed to be played to completion in a single sitting, which eradicates the only remaining legitimate reason for not giving this game a try.The Situation
The NLF have decided to make a major push in the Central Highlands, hoping to be able to build upon success there and expand their drive down to the South Central Coastal area, and the populous Binh Dinh province. US Intelligence has caught wind of a pending enemy operation but, lacking  any specific information regarding the objectives or the forces assigned, MACV HQ must make their best guess of enemy intentions and deploy friendly forces accordingly.  US/ARVN friendly towns in Kontum province have been threatened with NVA/VC reprisals and ARVN commanders have been targeted for capture or assassination. The outcome of this deadly contest will decide the allegiance of the Highlanders for years to come…Click here to  download scenario instructions and tables in PDF format.


This scenario begins with the 1st Game Turn of Summer 1966 and ends with the 2nd Game Turn of Summer 1966; it lasts two turns. The play area includes Kontum and Binh Dinh provinces, Laos and Cambodia. Only the northern map, which includes the General Record Track, is required.

There are no fixed starting forces in this scenario. The US player is allowed to spend a certain amount of US Commitment and ARVN supplies to build forces as he sees fit. The NLF player may spend NVA commitment and VC supplies to do the same. Both players secretly allocate their Commitment/Supplies at the same time. However, the US/ARVN player must deploy units first.

1. Turn 1 Purchases– Both players secretly record Turn 1 expenditures on their Highlanders Scenario Record Sheet. Each player should refer to the correct Unit Charts for valid purchases and Turn 1 costs. Commitment/Supplies available at the start are as follows:

  • US Commitment = 15
  • ARVN Supplies =  28
  • NVA Commitment = 10
  • VC Supplies = 12
Note: For both ARVN and VC, ignore “Personnel” costs mentioned in the game rules. Only Supply Points matter in this scenario.

When both players declare they are done recording Turn 1 expenditures, no further changes may be made. Proceed to the next step.

2. US Deployment – The US/ARVN player may deploy purchased units anywhere in Binh Dinh or Kontum provinces. US Air, US Airmobile, US Riverine, and US and ARVN Replacement Point markers are placed on the General Record Track, as necessary.

3. Assign ARVN Leaders – If any ARVN forces have been deployed, leaders must be chosen. For each ARVN division, or part thereof, randomly select a Division Commander (1-Star General) to command it. Each general must initially be placed in the same hex with at least one of their divisional units. If any non-divisional ARVN units (i.e. independent battalions and artillery) have been deployed, a Corps Commander (2-Star General) must be randomly chosen to command them. The Corps Commander can be placed in the same hex with any ARVN or US unit on the map.

4. Perform ARVN Effectiveness Check – For each ARVN leader, roll one 6-sided die (for Corps Commander ONLY, subtract 1 from the die roll). If the leader’s rating is greater than or equal to this number, then the units under his command are “effective” for the Game Turn. Otherwise they are “ineffective” (see the game rules for the effects of this condition). Turn ineffective leader counters over so that only their ineffective side is face up (i.e the side with only the 1-star or 2-star indicator, without the rating number).

5. NLF Deployment – The NVA/VC player may deploy purchased units anywhere in Laos, Cambodia or Kontum province only (may NOT initially deploy in Binh Dinh). NVA and VC Replacement Point markers are placed on the General Record Track, as necessary.

6. NLF Selects Reprisal Target – The NLF player must now secretly choose, and record on the Highlanders Scenario Record Sheet, one town in Kontum province as their “Reprisal Target” (either Kontum, Pleiku or Dak To). This town will be an important victory objective.

7. Play Game Turn 1 – Begin and play Game Turn normally (however, see “Special Rules”, below).

8. Game Turn 1 Scoring – When Game Turn is complete, each player scores the Game Turn using the “Turn 1 Scoring (VP)” column on their Victory Point Schedule.

Game Turn 2

Vietnam: 1965-1975

1. Turn 2 Purchases – Both players now secretly record Turn 2 expenditures on their Highlanders Scenario Record Sheet. Only Commitment and Supplies not spent on Game Turn 1 are available to spend now. Each player should again refer to the Unit Charts for valid purchases and Turn 2 costs (note that Turn 2 costs are double the Turn 1 costs). When both players declare they are done recording Turn 2 expenditures, no further changes may be made. Proceed to the next step.

2. US Deployment – Newly purchased US ground units may enter the play area via any northern border hex (i.e. the I Corps/II Corps border) that is not enemy occupied or in Qui Nhon city if not enemy occupied. Newly purchased ARVN units may enter the map via any road hex in South Vietnam that enters the play area (hexes 5634, 5436, 4435, 5324, 4824, 3922), if not enemy occupied. Units are placed directly on one of these border hexes and begin movement from there. Newly purchased US Air, US Airmobile, US Riverine, and US and ARVN Replacement Point markers are placed on the General Record Track, if necessary.

3. Assign ARVN Leaders – If any new ARVN leaders are required, due to the purchase of new divisional units, or the initial purchase of non-divisional units, choose and place leaders exactly as in Game Turn 1.

4. ARVN Effectiveness – Perform ARVN effectiveness check again for all existing and newly placed ARVN leaders.

5. NLF Deployment – The NVA/VC player may deploy purchased units anywhere in either Kontum or Binh Dinh provinces. Newly purchased NVA and VC Replacement Point markers are placed on the General Record Track, as necessary.

6. Play Game Turn 2 – Begin and play Game Turn 2 normally (again referring to “Special Rules”, below).

7. Game End Scoring – When Game Turn is complete, complete Game End Scoring (see Victory Point schedules).

Special Rules

    • Skip the Strategic Movement Phase in Game Turn 1 (gives NLF surprise advantage). Perform this Phase in Game Turn 2 normally.
    • ARVN Rangers – Rangers are purchased and used normally. However, for combat assignment, treat as if there are 5 Rangers in play (i.e. all available Rangers can be assigned to an operation on an unmodified six-sided die roll of 1 to 5. Restrictions on placement (i.e. one Ranger per operating unit hex) still apply.
  • ARVN Leaders – In this scenario, ARVN leaders actually appear on the map. Leaders move along with the unit they are “attached” to when placed. They may never end movement in the same hex with another ARVN leader, and they must remain attached to a subordinate unit (or U.S. unit, in the case of the Corps Commander) for the entire scenario. If they end up alone in a hex they are considered captured/assassinated for victory point purposes.

Winning the Game

To prevent players from trying radical strategies, such as saving all their commitment/supply points for use on turn 2 or for conversion to victory points at game end (i.e. effectively spending nothing and deploying no units at all), victory points are earned after each Game Turn. A player who does not play aggressively in Game Turn 1 will incur such a large victory point deficit they’ll never be able to dig out of it during scoring at the end of the scenario.

At the end of Game Turn 1, calculate scores based on the “Turn 1 Scoring (VP)” column on their Victory Point Schedule. Again, at the end of Game Turn 2 (and the scenario), follow the “Game End Scoring (VP)” Victory Point schedule. The winner is the player with the most victory points.

NOTE: SCENARIO VICTORY CONDITIONS ARE STILL BEING PLAY TESTED and may be amended in the near future. Please email feedback, comments or suggestions to The Boardgaming Life. We’d love to hear from you.

Highlanders Scenario Record Sheet – US/ARVN

US/ARVN Unit Chart 1st TURN 2nd TURN
US Starting Commitment 15
US Expenditures Cost: Turn1 / Turn 2
Any Battalion 1 / 2
Headquarters 1 / 2
2 x 105mm Artillery 1 / 2
1 x 155mm Artillery 1 / 2
2 x 175mm Artillery 3 / 6
3 Air Points 1 / 2
2 x Airmobile Points 1 / 2
1 Riverine Point 1 / 2
3 Replacement Points 1 / 2
7 SVN Military Supplies 1 / 2
Cruiser 1 / 2
Battleship 3 / 6
Total US Commitment Spent:
US Commitment Remaining:
ARVN Starting Supply 28
ARVN Supply Recv’d from US
ARVN Expenditures Cost: Turn1 / Turn 2
Infantry Regiment 2:3 / 4:6
Division Headquarters 3:2 / 6:4
Armored Cavalry Squadron 1:1 / 2:2
Armored Battalion 1:1 / 2:2
1 x 105mm Artillery 4 / 8
1 x 155mm Artillery 7 / 14
1 x 175mm Artillery 11 / 22
4 Replacement Points 2 / 4
Ranger Group 9 / 18
3 Infantry Battalions 2:2 / 4:4
Total ARVN Supply Spent:
ARVN Supply Remaining (Starting Supply + Supply Recv’d from US – Expenditures):

US/ARVN Victory Point Schedule
Condition/Event Turn 1 Scoring (VP) Game End Scoring (VP)
Unspent US Commitment 3 each
Unspent ARVN Supply 1/4 each
VC Unit Eliminated/Dispersed 1 each
NVA Unit Eliminated 2 each
No NLF Units in Kontum Province 5 5
No NLF Units in Binh Dinh Province 5
“Reprisal Target” Not NLF Controlled 10
No ARVN Leaders Captured/Killed 10
US Repl Point Expended 3

Highlanders Scenario Record Sheet – NVA/VC

“Reprisal Town”
Enter Town Name:

NVA/VC Unit Chart 1st TURN 2nd TURN
NVA Starting Commitment 10
NVA Expenditures Cost: Turn1 / Turn 2
Regiment 3:2 / 6:4
Division Headquarters 1 / 2
Artillery 2 / 4
3 Replacement Points 1 / 2
6 VC Military Supplies 1 / 2
Total NVA Commitment Spent:
NVA Commitment Remaining:
VC Starting Supply 12
VC Supply Recv’d from NVA
VC Expenditures Cost: Turn1 / Turn 2
Battalion 2 / 4
Regiment 10 / 20
Division Headquarters 6 / 12
3 Replacement Points 3 / 6
Political Section (max 2 per turn) 0
Total VC Supply Spent:
VC Supply Remaining (Starting Supply + Supply Recv’d from NVA – Expenditures):
NVA Unit Chart costs such as “3:2” indicate a cost of 3 to create the unit and a cost of 2 to upgrade the unit to its “augmented” (or mechanized) side. Or the unit can be purchased augmented for a cost of 5 (see game rules if any additional clarification is required).

NLF Victory Point Schedule
Condition/Event Turn 1 Scoring (VP) Game End Scoring (VP)
Unspent NVA Commitment 2 each
Unspent VC Supply 1/4 each
Captured/Killed ARVN Leaders 10 each
NLF Occupies “Reprisal Target” 10 15
Other Town Occupied by NLF 2 each 1 each
Qui Nhon city Occupied by NLF 5 10
Cultivated Hex Occupied by NLF 2 each 1 each
US Counter Eliminated 5 each
US Repl Point Expended 3

Vietnam: 1965-1975 – After Action Report

Another campaign game in the books! The NVA rolled into Saigon in the Spring of 1972!

Vietnam: 1965-1975 After Action Report

By Mark D.

US/ARVN Point of View

Unfortunately, I was the US/ARVN player…

Some Lessons Learned (for the US Player):

  • Watch ARVN Morale! – US allocations in the very beginning of the game (Summer of ’65) are critical. It is imperative that SVN morale be raised above 70 as soon as possible. Allocate Economic Aid, bomb the North, inject new commitment… whatever it takes to get the SVN Morale above 70. Otherwise, you’ll receive a detrimental column shift on the Pacification Table. This can leave you with a Pacification deficit that might be difficult bring back into balance.
  • Let the ARVN Slack Off! – I know it’s tempting to try to make the ARVN stand up and fight for themselves right from the beginning, but I think it’s a terrible mistake. No matter how judicious you are with your US allocations, there’s no doubt that the US will be leaving SVN long before 1975. Once the US is gone, the ARVN must have enough reserves left to duke it out with the NVA. I made the mistake of putting the ARVN to work, turn after turn, starting right from 1965, but they’re just not effective against the VC. So hundreds of ARVN Replacement points were squandered, for very little return. Let the Americans win the Pacification battle, build up ARVN replacement points to as close to 200 as possible, and then go home. 200 ARVN Replacement points can last a LONG time. I actually lasted over a year with about 25 ARVN Replacement points; I kept rebuilding the ARVN armor/cav battalions, which cost Supply but no Personnel, and used them to absorb losses.
  • Don’t let your large American EGO influence your decisions! – I can think of at least a dozen occasions when I stayed in a battle far too long just because I didn’t want to leave the enemy in command of the battlefield, and it cost me quite a few precious US Replacement points. Fighting the NVA in the mountains is a brutal business. If that first round combat die roll does not go your way (leaving you with a negative pursuit modified), just let it go and live to fight another day.
  • “Special” Forces, my ass! – The ARVN Rangers are a waste of resources in the early stages of the game. You can get 100 ARVN Replacement points for the same Personnel cost as 5 ARVN Ranger Battalions. The Rangers are primarily useful in helping hunt VC, but if you let your ARVN slack off (see above), you won’t need them for that purpose. If, during the later stages of the game, you find that you can spare the resources, the ARVN Rangers actually perform a more valuable service by inflicting a +2 movement point penalty on NVA units entering a SVN national boundary hex (if all 5 Rangers are present; only +1 for 3 Rangers). In many cases this forced the NVA units to use strategic movement to get from Cambodia/Laos into SVN, meaning that they could not attack in the same turn they crossed the border. This small heads up comes in handy since the US has considerable capabilities for quickly redeploying units to meet any new threat.

I’m going to see if I can convince my opponent to post some lessons learned, from the NLF point of view.

I kept loose track of time spent and figure it took about 125 hours to complete this game (over the course of 13 months!). All involved thought it was time well spent.