Last time, I talked about my impressions of “Mike Force”, a game about Special Forces operations in Vietnam from Joseph Miranda. To get a deeper impression of the game, I’m writing a first-turn report to show off how the game is played. I’m planning to do this with other games in upcoming articles, looking at first turns to show how a game flows.
I’m playing the Early War scenario here. That means the NVA set up two static units inside Vietnam Communist bases and one static unit everywhere else.
Rolling for initial Infiltration Points, we get a “5”, which brings the communist infiltration level down to a manageable “10” on the IP scale. The level is still at “Medium”, but only just barely. With some good play and a bit of luck, maybe we can knock it down to “Low”.
The marker is placed on the “8” space of the Recruit Points track. We roll a “1” and the marker is moved down to “7”.
The Free World sets up with four SF camps, which I put in:
- Nong Song
- A Shau
- Phong Dien
- Tra Bong
We put a CIDG unit with each of them.
We get 6 SF A-Teams, which I place as follows:
- 2 in Tra Bong
- 2 in Nong Song
- 1 in Hue
- 1 in A Shau
I put them here because I want to go on the offensive down south and clean up the units there for the first few turns. Meanwhile, I’ll be building up my defenses in the north closer to the DMZ.
Da Nang gets a transport helicopter.
MACV support goes into the draw pile: All fighter-bombers, Air Commandos, Special Operations air support, and the 81st Rangers.
We roll for leaders and get two leaders. Cowboy is assigned to Nha Trang while Blackjack goes to an A-Team over in Tra Bong.
1. Free World Events Phase:
We pull an event chit from the cup and get “Communist Reorganization”
“5” is added to the communist Infiltration Points on the infiltration track. We are back to a IP of “15” – Medium level infiltration.
2. Free World Recruiting Phase:
I put a leader in Nha Trang during the setup because I want him to be able to call in help from the 5th SFG during the recruiting phase. However, he has to be stationed with a unit. I recruit a 1 point recon team to Nha Trang and put it there with him.
I want one more recon team out in the field so I recruit another for 1 point and place it in Tra Bong.
Down to five points, I decide to get some MACV support for the turn. I spend two points and draw a fighter-bomber and the air commandos.
The Air Commandos are, I believe, treated as ground units with airmobile movement factors. I put them in Da Nang.
I have 3 points left and although I probably should save them, I decide to go for it anyway. I purchase a 2 point A-team and place it in Da Nang, hoping that I can upgrade it to an SF company (and possibly even a battalion) in later turns. I decide to hang on to the remaining RP.
3. Free World Movement Phase
Between the Air Commandos in Da Nang and the air support from MACV, I think I should be able to take out whatever communist units are in Que Son and the base south of Tra Bong. Anything else would be a bit risky. I decide to play it safe.
I move in a hatchet team and an A-team into the area south of Tra Bong. Then I move in two SF A-teams to Que Son and hope for the best.
I think this is very conservative play but let’s see how it goes.
4. Free World Recon Phase:
Now, we roll to see what we find. We have to roll a d6 against each of our SF units’ recon factor (that’s the number on the far left of the counter).
Let’s do Que Son first. We get a 5 and a 3. Both rolls fail. I should have used that extra RP to get a recon team and send it in. Oh well.
Now let’s do the area south of Tra Bong. We roll a 3 vs the RT team and flip over a unit to find a truck depot. The other roll against the A-team fails.
5. Free World Reaction Phase:
Now I have the chance to throw in airstrikes or airmobile assets into areas with revealed communist markers.
Since we’re going to lose all the MACV assets by the end of the turn (they are on temporary loan so if you don’ use ’em, you lose ’em), we’re going to absolutely hammer that truck depot. The airstrike is called in. The air commandos are called in. The show is about to start.
6. Free World Combat Phase:
We roll for the airstrike and get a “3”. Since this result is under the airstrike value, the bombs hit their target and the truck depot goes BOOM and is eliminated.
Now we tally up the body count, which is indicated in the counter’s upper right hand corner. In this case, it is a “1”. So now we can either take that point and choose to reduce the infiltration level by one or we can choose to increase our recruitment points by one. I decide that I need some guys for next turn and do the latter. My RP total is now sitting at a grand total of “2”.
Now that we have finished with the Free World half of the turn, it’s time to conduct the communist half of the turn. It’s pretty much the same as the Free World’s phases, with some exceptions.
1. Communist Events Phase
Event: Communist Big Offensive (B): We add “5” to the infiltration level. It is at “20” now and has changed from “Medium” to “High”. Uh oh!
So there are three big offensive markers in the Events pile. When all three are pulled, the communists get a bunch of new mobile units and make a big push towards Da Nang. For now, we can just set the first marker aside in the Major Offensive box to remind us that it’s there.
2. Communist Reinforcement Phase:
We check the reinforcement table and pull 2 static units and 3 mobile units from the NVA cup.
We roll 2d6 and consult the table to check for their placement.
They get dispersed pretty evenly among the communist bases. One goes to North Vietnam, with the others being distributed among the bases in Laos. The only one that worries me is the mobile unit that gets assigned to 611, which threatens one of my SF camps in the A Shau.
3. Communist Movement Phase:
We consult the communist activation table and cross reference it with the current infiltration level of “High”. Rolling a “3” results in an Advance result of one space for all mobile units.
4. Communist Recon Phase:
All concealed communist markers in the same space as FW SF camps or major bases are revealed. That means the mobile unit in the A Shau gets flipped over.
We get a AAA unit with a combat strength of 2. It’s a good thing I already used my airstrike up earlier in the term. However, I probably should have saved my air commandos to go after these guys. With a combat value of 4, they would have been a real match for them. Things are dicey now.
6. Communist Reaction Phase:
I have nothing left to react with so let’s go to the combat phase!
7. Combat Phase:
Tactical Superiority: We roll against the CIDG unit’s recon factor of “3” and get a “4”. The communists have tactical superiority.
First Round of Battle: We line up our units to determine who takes hits first. The A-team is first, followed by the CIDG team and then the SF camp.
Communist player rolls first and gets a “4” Nothing.
Now it’s time for the FW units to fire. We want to roll equal to or less than our combat values (the middle number on the counter).
We get a 6 for the A-team, a 5 for the CIDG team, and a 1 for the SF camp. The SF camp manages to get a hit on the AAA battalion and eliminates it. Since the body count point value for this unit is zero, we have achieved nothing. The mobile unit is returned to the mobile unit draw pile.
Return Phase: All MACV support goes back to the cup regardless of whether or not it’s been used.
We advance the turn marker and proceed to turn 2. Not a bad first turn for the FW player but nothing special either. Eliminating a truck depot is nice enough but we need to start taking the infiltration level down or else we’re going to get swamped with communist units. Turn 2 would probably consist of purchasing some recon teams and MACV support in hopes of hitting communist bases in the south while shoring up the north.