Vietnam 1965 to 1975: Campaign Game – 1965

Well, I didn’t get much time to play my first Vietnam campaign game this week due to the insane amount of work I had on my plate.  However, I did get the chance to sit down through Saturday morning and afternoon and get things rolling a bit.  I’ll be updating this blog with weekly progress.

I haven’t moved any units yet but holy cow, SO MUCH has happened anyways.

Here’s a rundown as summer of 1965 begins.

The NLF player places a division within arm’s reach of the SVN/NVN border.  They look ready to sweep down into South Vietnam, which is a bit alarming.  I only have a handful of ARVN regiments protecting it.

Map after NLF set up.

As the NLF player, I decided to purchase 4 regiments and 20 battalions of VC and placed them throughout South Vietnam, especially in the inland areas.  The VC are basically everywhere on the map.  I don’t think I left a province untouched with their presence.  It is going to take a long time and it will be a really hard fight to root them out of these areas.  If I can’t do that, they will eventually win over the South Vietnamese civilians to their side.

The capital is basically under siege, surrounded by about a dozen VC units.  The wide swath of South Vietnam that separates III Corps and II Corps are filled with VC.  Many of the Viet Cong are on the roads running through these provinces, nicely preventing the ARVN corps from operating together in any coordinated fashion.

Okay, so there were lots of enemy units sitting in the countryside and at unknown levels of strength.   Here’s a look at the map I’ve made of Vassal to show key areas.  Please note that I’m playing this game on paper map in my office so the troop strength for VC is not accurate.  I have no idea of any of the VC counter troop strength on my map as you can see from the above photo.

Area around Saigon and Bien Hoa surrounded by VC.

The area that stretches between Binh Dinh and Quang Nam is VC dominated
Further east of Saigon all the way to the coast is full of VC units.

After skipping the Pacification phase, it was time for the American player to declare his strategic bombing missions.  Since I’m playing solo, I just decided to roll a d10 to determine how many air points I would be spending on hitting the Ho Chi Minh trail and bombing the North.  As it turns out, we spent 6 air points on the trail and 2 on the North.  It was a paltry amount, I’ll agree, but this war was just starting.  The US player scores 1 hit on the Ho Chi Minh trail.  With only 2 points assigned to bombing the North, I decided that these had better count – so I allowed the planes to conduct unrestrained bombing.  As it turns out, the bombing was totally ineffective.  It reduces US morale by 2 but the South Vietnamese are delighted and morale goes up by 4.

Next up was the Trail status and Blockade segment.  I really doubt I did this right but I muddled my way through the rulebook and gave it a shot anyways.  The Ho Chi Minh trail had been hit by US air power and it’s effectiveness went from level 4 to level 3.  The NLF committed 3 supply points to running the US blockade and had 17 supply points available by sea.

Now it was time for the US/SVN to try and replace the two 2-star generals who were less than trustworthy.  Rolling a 7 for both the chief of the SVN air force and the chief of the SVN navy, this meant that I failed to replace them.  Their loyalty sunk down to 5, the lowest possible level.  I did manage, however, to replace the 1-star leader of the 2nd ARVN division with a terrific guy whose loyalty was maxed out at 13.  Well, at least there was some good news here.

Next, I checked to see if the military had had enough and went for a coup.  I rolled an 8 for the coup roll and only two members of the chiefs of staff stayed loyal while the rest wavered and my army and navy chiefs plotted a coup, which succeeded.  The South Vietnamese government fell (-8 morale SVN, -3 US morale) and Bao Dai was replaced as my 3-star leader.  Suddenly I was dealing with General Minh, who was much more agreeable to the South Vietnamese military (-1 morale for SVN, 0 morale for US).

End of SVN Morale Adjustment segment – 2 star leaders

The SVN Morale Adjustment segment came and it was time once again to pay the butcher’s bill in terms of leaders.  With an SVN morale that had dropped from an initial 65 down to 60, I rolled on the loyalty table and found that all leaders of C faction dropped by 1 loyalty.  Things were not looking so good for the South Vietnamese.  The US morale stayed fairly steady at 515 down from 520,  a small drop due to the unrestrained bombing campaign and the recent government coup.  NVN morale popped up by 5 from 10 to 15.

End of seasonal interphase – 1 star SVN leaders

During the recruitment segment, I decided to try some new things.

I decided that the US was going to try and primarily leave the war to the South Vietnamese to deal with as best as they could.  This may be a huge mistake but I’ve always kind of wondered what might have happened if the US had opted to resist the temptation to send in many thousands of their own men.

To this end, the US decided to grant lots of economic aid to South Vietnam, lots of US flags, food and medical programs in the villages, etc. as well as significant amounts of military aid.  The US spends 3 commitment on economic aid and SVN morale goes up by 5.   American military equipment flows in after spending 6 commitment for a total of 42 supply points that the SVN can use to upgrade their regiments in the field.  12 ARVN regiments are upgraded (that’s four divisions) at a cost of 36 supply points.  The remaining supplies go to buying 8 replacement points for the ARVN, 2 armored cavalry battlions (1 placed in Cam Ranh and the other in Qui Nhon).  With six supply points left, I went and decided to purchase 3 regiments from the 25th ARVN division and place them in Saigon. The one star leader proved to be exceptional with a rating of “3” (as opposed to what is shown in the picture above) and a loyalty of 10.

Finally, I decided that without much direct US ground support, the ARVN would need all the help they could get from the air. I bolstered US commitment by another 3 points and gained back 9 air points to use in the field.  I should have probably purchased some airmobile and riverine points too but I decided to keep the US commitment low and just see what the ARVN could do without too much help.  I shudder to think what might happen if ARVN units prove largely ineffective this season.  If so, I’ll have to start pulling in US ground forces to do the job for them.

Here are the numbers so far for the SVN/US side:

1.  US Committment: 37, Morale: 515, Air Support:  22,  Air Mobile Points: 2
2.  SVN Morale: 66, Draft Level 30, Supply: 0, Replacement Points: 8, Population: 216

I think that is correct so far!  I’ve done my best with it.  I’ll update next week on my progress.  So far, it’s been very slow-going.  Lots of rule-checking and leafing through the rulebook for quite some time.


  1. Thanks Mark! That is definitely on my agenda at some point. I only got a taste of Gulf Strike, but I really enjoyed playing it. Maybe after six or seven years, when I finally finish Vietnam, I'll get down to it!

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