Summer of 1965 has just ended and gives way to fall colors, Hogan’s Heroes, Sandy Kofax, The Hollies, and a deepening conflict in Vietnam. The first hints of change in American culture begin with the protests of thousands of people across America on October 16th.
Well, I never thought I’d get through a single turn of Vietnam 1965 to 1975 but here we are in Fall 1965. Over the summer months, the Viet Cong have been steadily gnawing away at South Vietnam’s population support. Starting the summer turn, most of my ARVN divisions ended up being effective, except for the 2nd division up in Quang Nam near Da Nang. I didn’t worry about it too much because I had the 2nd and 3rd Marine regiments sitting up there ready to pick up the slack for them.
|This is my life now…|
What did concern me were the two full NVA divisions sitting just across the border to the north. I also had a ton of VC sitting on the roads along the coast, cutting off the ARVN divisions from each other and limiting their ability to cooperate in any meaningful fashion. I decided that needed to end quickly and so spent the first part of the summer 1965 turn ordering the ARVN in Khanh Hoa and Binh Din to conduct security operations. They actually did manage a nice job of eliminating VC resistance all the way through to Quang Ngai in the north and Bin Thuan in the south, giving the SVN some breathing space.
|Makin’ room: The 7th and 18th ARVN push the VC out of coastal areas.|
The problems happened mainly in the interior. By the time I had finished conducting the security operations along the roads and absorbing losses through the use of replacements, I had no real means of pursuing the VC sitting in the interior regions of the country. By the end of the turn, the VC basically ruled Kontum and its surrounding provinces while they were able to hold on to the regions in the southwest of the country near Saigon. A slew of provincial capitals were inhabited by VC and there was really nothing the US could do to help them.
|Ownage: The VC basically own the interior right now.|
This is because the Americans got caught up in a huge scrape with an NVA division near Dong Ha. An ARVN regiment from the 5th Division was in a holding operation along Route 1 just south of the border and the North Vietnamese threw their regular army at it. The US sunk in defensive reserves after the first round of the fight and managed to fend them off but the replacement cost for ARVN and the US combined was staggering. By the end of it all, there was just no gas left in the tank to go chasing the VC around the interior.
|NVA units retreat back across the border after a fight near Dong Ha. VC units pushed back into Laos.|
In the second half of summer 1965, very little actually happened. The US and ARVN basically licked their wounds while the VC were content to sit out in the countryside and gain more and more popular support. The NVA was a non-factor here as well, having had its replacements depleted by the huge battle near Dong Ha earlier in the summer. Summer passed into fall and the pacification phase began. I cringed and made my rolls, ready for the worst. Fortunately, for the SVN, I rolled quite high for some reason and managed to hang on to popular support in the usual strongholds (Thua Thien actually went up while the presence of VC all around IV corps’ stomping ground didn’t seem to make a big splash with the locals there).
|Slowly losing SVN hearts & minds in summer ’65.|
I learned a few very important lessons in this season. The first one is not to overlook the amount of replacements each side needs. With less than 10 RPs for the US, ARVN, and NVA, they really were not very effective at all. Probably the smartest thing the NLF player could have done was launch its offensive at Dong Ha, which drew the US Marines in and kept them too busy and too short of replacements to fight the VC. Clearly, both sides are going to need to commit more to RPs in the coming season. Secondly, the VC should try to pile units into a regional/provincial capital if possible in order to quickly swing the population towards it. Finally, the VC are probably better to put just off the roads instead of directly on them so they aren’t vulnerable to Security operations. The most important lesson here is that even with lots of support like air and naval points, it is not nearly as useful without troops on the ground to work with.
As for the game itself, I’m starting to slowly see how it all goes together. One thing I’ve noticed is that everyone seems to have a slightly different way of playing it with some rules being a bit more ambiguous than others (do the VC get an alert roll during bombardment – the debate over this seemed to rage on and on in the forums). It is not really a difficult game but it does take time to sit down and play through. I really recommend using the worksheets at grognard.com and also the online resources available at BGG. Also, I found a great iPad app (Vietnam 1965 to 1975) for figuring out combat. All of that has helped considerably to cut down on the time spent slowly calculating combat odds and modifiers.