After our first evening with Vietnam 1965-1975 by Victory Games, we were able to get down to the actions on board during our second night. Both of us have been reading all the guides and after action reports we can get our hands on. This campaign generally takes over 120 hours if it is played to the end. For my part, what I have gleaned from the information available is I need to use my North Vietnamese Army (NVA) units sparingly, mostly as a possible threat and to bolster my Viet Cong (VC) units in the field, picking my fights on my own terms. The VC are harassers, poking the American bear and running off, fighting the ARVN when it is advantageous, trying to avoid the US units when possible. I need to step in and occupy province Capitals when possible.
All of this is, of course, just theory. Employing these tactics will be a different animal. Naturally, Mike’s job is to drive the VC from Capitals, trying to pin them in place, and eliminating them where and when they are encountered. Air-mobile units and virtually unlimited road movement means that he can get where he needs to be very quickly. Having played games with Mike for twenty years or so, what I can tell you is he picks up on how a game works very quickly. Far quicker than I can, so he will soon understand how to accomplish his goals before I do. It’s good for me that Mike wanted to play from the American side, as I think it is much more difficult to play.
Basically, it looks like I have total control of a season’s proceedings. I get to choose whether I will act first in each operations phase, or pass to Mike. Not knowing the ebb and flow yet, it’s hard to get a feel for what I need to do. As usual, Mike understood what he needed to do before I did. When I pass, he can then run an operation, then it flips back to me. I ran most of my operations early. Mike realized that he ultimately had the power to end the season. So while I have control of the pace and flow, he has control of when we stop operations. Every time I passed (because I didn’t have any more operations available) he could continue, now moving to respond to my actions and I had lost my ability to respond. The season has two turns and a turn only ends when we both pass on operations.
Ultimately, my goal is to get the US commitment above it’s morale Commitment and morale are connected to actions like declaring free fire zones, moving into Cambodia or Laos, losing American units, bombing the North and gaining the control and support of the local population (Pacification). I also win by taking Saigon, but as you will see, that is going to be a tall order.
I committed most of my VC forces South, in III and IV Corps. In the forest and jungle and in the cultivated field rich delta. It is also close to Saigon, but Mike made sure to load Saigon with US units and ARVN.
Mike responded to my moves in the South. He doesn’t seem overly concerned with my VC in the Delta. VC units aren’t strong on their own, but in groups can be a different story. I am trying to grab as many provincial capitals as I can early so Mike has too many fires to try to put out. I can move around on the Ho Chi Min trail pretty well, but once I get into South Vietnam proper it’s harder to move around.
Mike decided to try out his airmobile units and see if he could trap and eliminate a couple of my VC units Long Khanh province. Moving by road and chopper he got into position surrounding Xuan Loc, a capital. When all was said and done, he had managed to defeat a VC battalion, the unexpected other unit was a full strength VC regiment, which I managed to extricate.
In the North, I moved three full strength NVA regiments across the border to the west of Khe San. (I mis-identified where Khe San was in my last post) I put my VC units in hold operation and patrol op. Mike still had most of his operations to go and responded to my move in strength. ARVN units and Marines moved west and it looks like there will be a fight in the second turn of Summer ’65.
So, we’re about half way through Summer of ’65, the second turn will give us an opportunity to see if we have learned anything from the first turn. Should be a fairly action filled turn 2.