River of Perfume is a small 7-turn scenario that takes place during the battle for Hue in 1968 just after the Tet Offensive. It pits the United States Marine Corps versus the Viet Cong in a pitched battle. This differs significantly from the usual hit and run scenarios that feature the VC. Instead, we get a stand-up fight over the control of a handful of buildings. The Marines’ task is not easy – they need to have control of 5 buildings on the map by scenario’s end. Any other result is a VC win.
The VC set up first. They have two leaders, Arnat and Dobie-san, as well as a hero with a Rage card. They basically start with three buildings – one in the center of the map board and two others to the south.
The large stone building just south of the Marines’ starting position is probably key to the fight. It is large and offers excellent defensive protection. If the Marines want it, they will have to come in and melee the VC, a dangerous proposition in such a cramped map.
The VC hero and 3 VC squads set up in this citadel and wait.
During the American setup phase a bit later, I set up Sgt. Ash in a small building just to the north with 2 Marine squads in his hex and 2 others in the hex beside him.
|VC Hero and 1-4-3 in upper level with 2 x 1-4-3 squads adjacent in G3.|
Just to the southeast of this large stone fortification is yet another stone building. I put Dobie-san in hex G5, hoping that he can rally any shaken VCs that withdraw towards G4 (his “Charismatic” ability allows him to rallying friendly units in adjacent hexes). Three other squads are set up in the same building, set up to hit at any Marines that attempt to reinforce the large fortification. They also have control of a building with a swimming pool in G5 so they can go off for a dip should things get too crazy.
Lt. Reagin is in the building just to the north (I2 and J2). He has a Marine squad with an M-60 and also benefits from the “Lucky Man” bonus, which allows him a one-time opportunity to add or subtract 3 from a die roll.
|Dobie-san and friends set up in the G5 building while Reagin is in the building to the north.|
Arnat and 3 VC squads set up far to the southwest in a large triangular building that offers some avenue of fire at the American chaplain, who is stacked with two Marine squads directly to the north.
|Arnat and 3 x 1-4-3 squad set up with field of fire directly to the north.|
The Marine chaplain and his two 2-6-4 squads (with LAW rocket) set up in the building directly to the north of Arnat and only a mere two hexes away from the large stone fortification where the VC hero and his comrades sit.
|Close up of northern part of board with Marines set up around the large stone fortification.|
The VC plan is basically to run and gun from the large fortification (F3/G2), taking out as many Marine squads as possible before retreating south. After that, they will try to find opportunities to whittle away at lone American units. Arnat will try to make it hard for the Americans on the left flank to advance while Dobie-san’s two squads will try to keep Lt. Reagin from moving into the large fortifications. Hopefully this will encourage the Americans to send in forces piecemeal, where they can be dealt with in small groups.
The Marines are basically going to kick down the doors and go in guns blazing. This means committing maximum force towards their objectives. There will be no half measures. Every man will either be firing or moving – or both (thanks to having assault move capability) on every turn. The high morale of the Marines should keep them going through the tough times ahead. They will take the large stone fortification directly to the south at all costs and then advance into the building held by Dobie-san and his men.
The Americans are granted automatic initiative on turn 1 and the advance begins.
The VC hold their fire and let the Americans move in. The Marines barge into the large stone building at G2, adjacent to the two 1-4-3 VC squads. Lt. Reagin and his men open fire on the hapless VC in G3 from across the road. One VC squad takes casualties while the other is shaken. They crawl away from the building towards Dobie-san, hoping to be rallied next turn.
Since the VC are holding fire for now, the Marines take the opportunity to crash the west side of the fort with another 3-6-4 squad in hex F3. The Marines move in and get ready for a fight. Another 2-6-4 squad arrives in G3 and now the Americans are quickly gaining control of the large fortification.
The VC, however, will not give up so easily. Dobie-san directs the squad in his hex (G5) to open fire on the 2-6-4 Marine squad, achieving a shaken result. The VC hero in F4 moves from the upper floor to the adjacent hex and eliminates the Marine squad in melee. The Americans have suffered their first loss in the game.
To help reinforce the 3-6-4 squad in F3, the Chaplain and his Marines move from their starting building towards the stone fortification but a VC sniper pops up and starts hitting them in the open. Arnat joins in and her RPD squad shakes up the Chaplain and all of his squads very badly. She sends her two VC squads up north in hopes that the Americans will fail to rally and they will become easy targets for melee in the coming turn.
Turn 1 has ended with mixed results. The Marines seem to be taking over the large building very quickly but they are encountering some stiff resistance. Moving the Chaplain and his two squads towards the fort may not have been the smartest move. Now the American player is going to need to commit time and impulses towards preserving and rallying these men.
|The Chaplain and 2 squads are shaken in D3 while other Marines start to control the stone building.|
Post Turn 1 Comments: It was just dumb to have my Chaplain and the two Marine squads charge towards E3. They were easily shaken up and now very vulnerable to the approaching VC squad to the south. The US player is going to have to get them moving away from the enemy early in the next turn, which will take away precious time I have to shake up the VC in F4 and G3.
On the VC side, it may have been a mistake not to use up opportunity fire on US troops as they approached the large stone building. Now the Americans are in the building for good. The Chaplain and two Marine squads are a tempting target. Eliminating them in the coming turn should considerably sap the energy of the American assault.
The VC get the initiative this turn, much to the Americans’ chagrin.
Rally: The VC adjacent to Dobie-san fail to rally but, on the other hand, the US Chaplain fails to rally the two squads with him. That’s great news for the VC!
Operations: The only thing that might prevent the VC from getting to the Chaplain and his squad would be taking opp fire from the 3-6-4 Marines in E3. So the VC 1-4-3 squad in F4 makes a sacrifice move and jumps into melee with the adjacent unit at 3:1 odds. Incredibly, the VC player rolls an 11 and they eliminate the Marines.
|1-4-3 in F4 jumps into melee with adjacent 3-6-4 and they are both eliminated.|
The US player tries to minimize further losses by pulling the Chaplain and his squads back to the far north of the map.
The VC player, riding a wave of luck, decides to throw his hero (with the Rage card, which offers +1 firepower) into melee with the adjacent 3-6-4 Marines (who have an M-60 machinegun) in hex G2. Normally, this would be a 5-1 melee attack but with the Rage card, this comes to a 5-2 attack (for a ratio of 1-2), which is further shifted right to a 1-1 attack for the VC hero. The hero’s dice come up 9, which eliminates the US Marines. The Americans are really suffering.
Overall, it has been an amazing round for the Viet Cong, who have eliminated 8 firepower from the Americans at a loss of only a 1 FP squad and a hero.
|The building after the VC-US melee. No one is left standing.|
Lt. Reagin is determined to get revenge and fires at the two shaken VC squads in G4, eliminating both of them. Dobie-san orders his RPD to shoot at Reagin in the building to the north to no effect. The VC start to slowly re-occupy the stone building, sending in lone squads here and there.
|Lt. Reagin (Lucky Man in I2) and his men eliminated the shaken VC squads in G4.|
The VC player decides to push one of his squads straight towards the shaken US Chaplain and his men, getting adjacent to them and ready to melee them in the next turn. Sgt. Ash sees the nearby threat and starts moving towards the VC squad. A sniper fires at Ash and his men and a US hero is created (The Gunner).
The Americans continue moving and enter melee with the VCs who are adjacent to the shaken US chaplain. The US wins handily but they will soon be sitting in the open. Arnat moves her squad towards both Ash and the Chaplain and take up positions in the building hex adjacent to them.
|Arnat sits adjacent to Ash and the hero, ready to deal some damage next turn.|
Things look great for the VC at the end of turn 2. The US player has control of only two buildings and has lost many of his own men from devastating melee this turn. Arnat is sitting right beside the two major US groups and is ready to do some serious damage in the coming turn.
On the other hand, the US has managed to inflict some damage on the VC, who have lost 5 squads of their own this turn.
Initiative switches to the Americans this turn and their luck starts to turn around.
Rally: The Chaplain in D1 rallies himself (like a rock star with a roll of “2”) and a half squad of Marines.
Operations: Sgt. Ash and his stack of Marines in D2 open up on Arnat and her squad in the adjacent C2 building hex and shake everyone up. The American hero with “The Gunner” skill card immediately moves in and eliminates all of the VC and Arnat in the ensuing melee. This is a stunning setback for the VC. Sending Arnat up so close to the Marines at the end of last turn was apparently a huge mistake.
|The VC are shaken by Sgt. Ash and his Marines (under the hero in D2) before “The Gunner” moves in and kills everyone.|
The Chaplain and his shaken men move into B1, which offers some defensive terrain. This gives the shaken units a better chance to rally next turn.
The action moved to the east after this happened but there were no fewer surprises in store.
A group of VC get close to Lt. Reagin and his men over on the other side of the map. The Americans refuse to take the bait and Dobie-san and his RPD squad open fire on Reagin’s men. Dobie-san rolls well on the attack, prompting Reagin to spend his “Lucky Man” card. This reduces the damage roll to a mere “1”. Reagin and his squad are both fine but wait, what’s this? Another American hero is created (“Stealthy”) and stacked with Reagin.
|Dobie-san (“Charismatic”) fires on Lt. Reagin in I2 and ends up creating a US hero.|
Reagin sends off the hero to get into the stone fortification to the west. The VC shoot at him with opportunity fire as he approaches hex G2 but to no avail. The hero slips into G2 and is in excellent defensive terrain. With only a 2-1 attack advantage in melee over the adjacent VC in G3, I decided to play it safe and stop the hero there. Reagin opens up on the VC squad in the building hex and shakes it.
|US hero in G2 adjacent to shaken VC squad.|
The turn starts to come to a close. Out of spite, the VC sniper takes a shot at Sgt. Ash and shakes him up.
|VC sniper shakes up Sgt. Ash in D2.|
It’s been an amazing turn. The Americans have come back full force after some serious setbacks in turn 2! The game is far from over at this point, however, since there are still 3 turns left and the US must capture 2 more VC-held buildings.
Here’s how the board looked at the end of turn 3:
|End of T3|
Wow, it really looks like sending Arnat up north to chase after the shaken Marines was a huge mistake. Had the VC won initiative on the turn, they probably could have fired at the adjacent Sgt. Ash and his Marines, which would have really hurt the American player. As it turned out, however, the gamble was not worth it and now the VC are down to only one leader (Dobie-san).
The VC are going to have work really hard to turn the tide against the Americans. It may not be too late to squeak a victory out of this one if they can keep their eye on holding buildings rather than chasing down shaken enemies.
US wins initiative this turn.
Rally: The US Chaplain way over in the northwest corner of the board manages to rally the 2-6-4 squad. Sgt. Ash makes a recovery too. So far, so good for the US.
Operations: The US player sends his hero (“The Gunner”) from C2 down to C4, which is just adjacent to the VC sniper. The sniper fires at the lone Marine, rolling a 10 on 2d6. 2 FP is added due to the target being adjacent and another FP is tacked on for a moving target. Luckily, the Marine rolls a “6” for the defensive die and then a “1” for damage, escaping unharmed from the sniper fire! The hero jumps into the hex with the sniper and eliminates him in melee.
|US hero about to melee Viet Cong sniper.|
Sgt. Ash takes this opportunity to try yet again to take the large stone fortification nearby and enters building hex E3 with his squads, coming under heavy fire from the adjacent VC. Luckily for Ash, the fire is totally ineffective.
|Sgt. Ash and two squads of Marines enter the stone fortification and avoid enemy fire.|
Ash and his men decide to keep moving. They push into hex F4 and get into a melee with the VC 1-4-3 squad. They eliminate it but also lose a half-squad of Marines in the process.
Dobie-san in G5 decides to try for some revenge against the Americans. He fires on Lt. Reagin in the I2 building hex and manages to shake up Reagin and his 3-6-4 squad. Reagin and his men withdraw from the building to G1. A VC squad is in range of moving into melee with the shaken Americans but the VC player has learned his lesson. Instead of chasing down shaken enemies, the squad is moved into the building that Reagin has just vacated.
|Lt. Reagin and his men retreat from I2. Next, the VC in I3 move into the building.|
The US hero in G2 (“Stealthy”) creeps into hex H2 and fires on the adjacent VC in I2 but to no avail. Our US Chaplain moves to B3 with a squad and they prepare to get back in the fight.
Well, this has been quite a turn! The US player has worked hard towards fulfilling the victory conditions but the unexpected retreat of Reagin from I2 and the subsequent loss of the building really hurt. The American player has managed to kill lots of Viet Cong but the VC player has smartened up a bit and is more focused on frustrating American attempts at winning scenario objectives.
An overall look at the board at the end of Turn 4:
|End of Turn 4|
The VC player is hoping to rally the 1-4-3 adjacent to Dobie-san next turn and shake up and then melee Ash and his men. If Lt. Reagin fails to rally, that will help to delay the Americans in their attack.
The US has initiative this turn again.
Rally: Lt. Reagin fails to rally and the shaken VC squad to the north of Dobie-san also fails its morale check.
Operations: The turn begins with both sides trying to retain the meager forces they now possess. Reagin pulls back to the building hex in F1 while the shaken 1-4-3 VC squad retreats back to Dobie-san’s hex.
Ash and his men fire at Dobie-san with no effect but the Americans make gains elsewhere. The US hero (“The Gunner”) heads down south to capture the triangular building at C6, claiming two of three of its hexes.
|“The Gunner” captures a building. Only two more buildings are needed for a win.|
The VC squad in the upper floor of I5 descends to the first floor and moves north towards the I2/J2 building to help reinforce the single squad there. If the VC can just hold out in both buildings for two more turns, they can prevent the US from winning.
|VC in hex I4 as they move towards the north to reinforce the 1-4-3 squad in I2.|
I started to get a bad feeling about the Americans’ chances of winning this one. It’s proving hard to get shaken US forces rallied and there’s not enough firepower to go for a direct melee assault on Dobie-san. With the VC moving another squad towards the I2/J2 building, it seems they will be able to hold off any assaults from my meager forces in the next two turns.
The VC player wins initiative.
Rally: Reagin and his men rally while the shaken 1-4-3 squad in Dobie-san’s hex fail the check again.
Operations: This VC player moves the squad in I4 to J3. If it can get into the building next turn, it will be really difficult for the US to take it.
The US Chaplain and the Marines stacked with him move to G2 to help with the coming assault.
Reagin and his men move towards the J2/I2 building, hoping to add their considerable firepower to a last-turn push against the VC. Unfortunately, Dobie-san tells his men to fire at Reagin and it manages to shake the Americans yet again.
|Reagin and his men are shaken up while approaching a nearby VC-held building.|
The US hero “The Gunner” moves adjacent to Dobie-san. The plan is to have the hero jump into melee with Dobie-san’s squads, which will prevent the VC in G5 from firing on the main US assault versus the J2/I2 building.
|End of turn 6|
Things are looking grim for the US. They have a bunch of shaken guys and a couple of leaders with only a squad each. The VC, on the other hand, are sitting pretty right now with two buildings firmly held. All they need to do is sit tight and let the US approach…and then just open fire. One building needed for the US to win.
The VC player wins initiative.
Rally: Reagin and his men fail to rally. Dobie-san rallies a shaken 1-4-3 squad in his hex.
Operations: The VC squad in J3 low crawls into the J2 building hex.
The US player goes for broke. The US hero in F6 runs into Dobie-san’s hex and enters melee. Dobie-san has two 1-4-3s and an RPD in his hex, which gives him a firepower of 4 versus The Gunner’s firepower of 2. The US player rolls an 11, taking out all of the VC in the hex. Surprisingly, the VC player rolls a 3, which is not enough to kill the US hero. Well, this certainly changes things. All American efforts are now suddenly switched from capturing J2/I2 to getting hold of the G5 stone building.
|The US hero “The Gunner” enters into melee versus Dobie-san, two 1-4-3 squads and an RPD|
The VC player passes and the Chaplain sends his 2-6-4 squad towards I2. The 1-4-3 VC squad opens up and shakes the US Marines.
|The Chaplain’s 2-6-4 squad moves towards I2 and is fired at by the VC squad.|
After that, the American player sends Sgt. Ash into H6 capturing part of a building needed for the US win. The other US hero (“Stealthy”) moves into the remaining hex.
|The other US hero makes it down to I5 hex.|
|Sgt. Ash and his squad rush into the remaining unoccupied building hex.|
The result is 5 US-controlled buildings, just in time for the game to end. The Americans win.
A final look at the board:
|A look at the end of the final turn.|
Conclusion: What a game! The early game see-sawed back and forth between the VC and the American hero. Late in the game, it seemed that the VC were going to hold on to the last two buildings on the board. The very lucky melee roll that allowed “The Gunner” to take out Dobie-san and two squads and still survive the melee was basically the key to allowing the US to grab the win in the last turn. I felt the US player basically capitalized on the early mistakes made by the Viet Cong and then had some incredible fortune in the rolling on the last turn.
Props go out to “The Gunner” who single-handedly took out a VC sniper, captured two buildings, and eliminated a VC leader, two squads, and a support weapon in the course of a single game.