Dien Bien Phu: The Final Gamble. Playing #2 – Part 1

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After surrounding my French Legionnaires in our first playing, ending with my surrender, Mike and I flipped the game around and it was my turn to attack with the Vietminh.  In both games, we have played scenario B which starts the Vietminh closer to the main fortifications, essentially removing the need for the capture of the foremost strongpoints.

I set up my attack much the same way Mike did, bringing the 312th and 316th Vietminh regiments together after the first move while leaving the 308 to it’s own devices to attempt to reduce the smaller, more spread out bunkers on the west side of the map.

 

312-316 attack

 

308 atack

 

Before we started this round, we discussed French strategy.  In my playing of the French, I tended to hold on to each smaller strongpoint too long, resulting in encirclement and elimination.  Mike also felt that I kept my units too bunched up, becoming easy targets for the Vietminh artillery.  At the time of our first playing, I felt that the strongpoints were the place to be against the arty.  Mike said he was going to try to spread out, keeping a number of units out of the fortifications to avoid encirclement and keep from bunching up.

The assault begins and it looks like carbon copy of Mike’s previous attack, but the French defense is different.  Staying out of the fortifications with some of the Legionnaires is a double edged sword.  He is preventing my ability to encircle, but my chance to damage his troops with artillery and assault increases without the benefits of the trenches.

 

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It takes the 308th a bit longer to close with the first bunkers and that is ok, I can rest 312 and 316 while I attack with 308.  Rest raises the morale of the Vietminh division(s) who elect not to attack and morale is the most important aspect of the VM game.  Mike does a good job at keeping the VM at arms length.  He is doing some damage to my troops, but the VM get replaced much easier than the French troops and if the French wounded pile continues to build up, medicine supplies start draining away quicker.  When the medicine is gone, non combat attrition becomes a real problem..

 

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In the above picture, the 312 regiment has taken a beating.  I have linked up with the 316th which is still in pretty good shape.  It’s time to rest 312 as it’s morale drops when I bring in replacements, but it’s a necessary evil for the VM.  When a VM unit is completely eliminated, it is extremely costly to get it back in the game.

One aspect of the game that I had trouble with as the French, was the supply.  As in the previous posts, each French turn, you fill your planes, and roll to see how many got through to the besieged Legionnaires.  My first roll of the earlier game was devastating, losing a possible 9 supply slots.  My second roll was 6 slots to be rolled for.  I had good rolls after that, but those first two rolls were tough to recover from.  When your artillery, ammo, food and bullets and medicine levels get low enough it changes the way you play.  One thing I was very fortunate with as the French was the reinforcements.  I got all of  mine fairly quickly.

Mike’s experience so far has been the opposite.  His first two rolls on the supply table were fantastic, receiving almost all of his supply.  It definitely benefited his early game because medicine was the only thing in real jeopardy, and he was able to fix it.  His last two rolls however, have been brutal.  9 slots and 6 slots possibly lost, and his reinforcements are being held by the French commander in Hanoi.  Mike has been able to roll on the reinforcement table 3 times, two refusals by the Commander and one “yes, we will send them” result.  Unfortunately for him, (and fortunately for me) the reinforcements were lost as part of his supply run.  That really hurts, as the men on the ground are starting to dwindle.

In the 308 Regiment area, I have finally closed with the enemy and begun the assault on the Huguette strongpoints.

 

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They are on their own up there, so I have to be careful not to lose any units permanently .

I am staying right on pace with my strongpoints taken, but three turns from now we will enter the monsoon season and my troops need to do better than they are now.  The monsoon has different effects on each of us.  It is bad for me, but it is brutal on the French.

 

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When we resume, I will have my work cut out for me.  Mike is, of course, playing the French side better than I did, but some of that has to do with him seeing what happened when I played them before.  The flip side is the same for me.  I am able to use what he did right with the VM before, he’s just not letting me get around behind him.

This game is really, really good.  Both sides have a balancing act to maintain in order to be successful.  But they are different problems for each player.   The mechanisms Kim Kanger has devised to get the resulting feel he was looking for are nothing short of brilliant.  Both of us are wondering how we are going to pull this off.  And that’s awesome.

Part 2 soon.

Thanks for reading.

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